Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Last Call

One man's internment camp is another man's "tent city" especially if that man is Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The controversial Phoenix-area sheriff has teamed up with Arizona State Treasurer and candidate for governor Dean Martin to introduce an ambitious new plan for border security.

The Zero Tolerance plan includes a border fence and enhanced security, but proposes stronger detention policies than Martin's Republican rival, Gov. Jan Brewer.

Martin envisions a tent city to house the influx of illegal aliens expected to be arrested once the state's tough new immigration law goes into effect.

"I will work with Sheriff Joe to establish a statewide tent city specifically to house illegal aliens convicted of crimes in Arizona," Martin's plan reads.
Why imprison them when you can round them up and throw them in tents?  A lot cheaper and hey, none of that "due process" crap.  What crimes will they be convicted of?  Hey, that's not the point.  Point is they're illegals, so into the Joe's Happy Camp they go.  I expect to see a whole lot of Latinos suddenly facing littering, jaywalking, and loitering charges in Arizona...

Funny how that'll work out.

Carrot And Stick Time

Obama gave a carrot and stick approach to the Middle East today, with the UN authorizing more sanctions against Iran...
The new sanctions include cargo inspections, new controls on Iranian banks "to block the use of the international financial system ... to fund and facilitate nuclear proliferation," restrictions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a new U.N. panel of experts to help monitor and enforce sanctions, and asset freezes on 40 entities and an individual, Rice said.

The individual is Javad Rahiqi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, who will also be subject to a travel ban.

The sanctions do not include restrictions on gas imports to Iran, a possibility the United States had floated but which China and Russia opposed.
...and $400 million in aid to Gaza, taking direct aim at the Israeli blockade.
Calling the situation in the impoverished Gaza Strip "unsustainable," Obama urged Israel to meet the demands of the UN Security Council in the probe into the deadly incidence in which nine activists were killed by Israeli commandos.

Obama also said the United States was to unveil a 400-million-dollar civilian aid package for the Palestinians, with the money to be used for projects such as housing and schools.
It's the kind of thing countries playing the game at this level do, Obama gets sanctions on Iran in exchange for Israel backing off on Gaza.  That's the way diplomacy works:  carrot and stick.

And yet Israel will want all carrot.  The Israeli response will be very important, but there's not much they can do to complain if the United States pledges to give aid to Gaza based on Israel's rules.

Imagine that.  A US President using diplomacy.

If Only We Could Harness This Power

I knew it was coming (I honestly figured it would have happened a little sooner) but the inhibitors have now been fully removed from the press narrative on Obama.  We have gone from "Why isn't Obama angry about BP?" directly to "Clearly he is just not one of us."  The WSJ's Dorothy Rabinowitz puts together a glorious editorial that may actually be the key to our country's long term energy needs through sheer irony:

A great part of America now understands that this president's sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.
The irony of that last sentence should be processed and extracted for industrial usage, it's powerful enough that it might be able to withstand the pressure of the Deepwater Horizon spill while simultaneously providing endless clean energy.  It of course gets worse in the very next paragraph:
One of his first reforms was to rid the White House of the bust of Winston Churchill—a gift from Tony Blair—by packing it back off to 10 Downing Street. A cloudlet of mystery has surrounded the subject ever since, but the central fact stands clear. The new administration had apparently found no place in our national house of many rooms for the British leader who lives on so vividly in the American mind. Churchill, face of our shared wartime struggle, dauntless rallier of his nation who continues, so remarkably, to speak to ours. For a president to whom such associations are alien, ridding the White House of Churchill would, of course, have raised no second thoughts.
Apparently it would be unfair to say that drawing the conclusion that the first African-American president is fundamentally unlike "us", the term "us" being used to describe this mythical "Real America" I keep hearing about from the likes of Sarah Palin and friends, based on moving the bust of Winston Churchill is not the sign of "demented fringe".  She rolls on...
Far greater strangeness has since flowed steadily from Washington. The president's appointees, transmitters of policy, go forth with singular passion week after week, delivering the latest inversion of reality. Their work is not easy, focused as it is on a current prime preoccupation of this White House—that is, finding ways to avoid any public mention of the indisputable Islamist identity of the enemy at war with us. No small trick that, but their efforts go forward in public spectacles matchless in their absurdity—unnerving in what they confirm about our current guardians of law and national security.
This then rapidly degenerates into why Obama secretly hates America and is some sort of China-loving crypto-Muslim for having Michael Posner on the payroll for the express purposes of blaming America for all the world's evils, and views Eric Holder, academia, and Janet Napolitano as enablers of that most horrid crime of state...empathy with others.

But Obama doesn't understand anyone, because he's not like "us".  How dare he try to understand people we should dismiss as the Enemy.  No sign of the "demented fringe" here...after all, Obama Derangement Syndrome is becoming quite mainstream these days.

Power Dive

BP stock off another 15% as it dropped under $30.  Last time it was trading this low, some guy named Clinton was running things.

Stock has lost half its value now since the spill.  I don't see how BP makes it through to the end of the year as a publicly traded company.  Hell, it may not make it to Labor Day.

How Angry Will Society Allow Obama To Be, Part 2

CNN's John Blake actually runs through a pretty decent discussion of the topic I brought up yesterday on black men traditionally not being able to show anger in our society, and how that applied to Obama.
If you've followed the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, you've heard the complaints that Obama isn't showing enough emotion.

But scholars say Obama's critics ignore a lesson from American history: Many white Americans don't like angry black men.

It's the lesson Obama absorbed from his upbringing, and from an impromptu remark he delivered last summer. Yet it's a lesson he may now have to jettison, they say, as public outrage spreads.

"Folks are waiting for a Samuel Jackson 'Snakes on the Plane' moment from this president as in: 'We gotta' get this $#@!!* oil back in the $#!!* rig!' But that's just not who Obama is,'' says Saladin Ambar, a political science professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
But we've been here before, as I've said.
But Obama has "gone off" before and that didn't work too well for him, says Ambar.

During a news conference last summer, Obama casually said that police acted "stupidly" when they arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis "Skip" Gates in his home for disorderly conduct after a confrontation with a white police officer.

Obama's comments infuriated many white people, and even some black supporters. Obama had to have a Beer Summit to calm the public uproar.

"He flashed genuine anger," says Ambar. "At that moment, when he touched on the issue of race, he spoke frankly and passionately about what he felt and it got him into a big deal of trouble."
As I sqaid yesterday, the rule are different, and it's high time we stop pretending otherwise.  That's starting to be the case, at least people are asking why there's this double standard, and why Obama has kept a leash on his emotion.  But the simple reason that while he'll be attacked for not being "angry" enough as a President, he'll be attacked even more if he goes over the line.  Skipgate, anyone?  He was forced to nationally apologize over that.

So yes, that's why he's not getting angry.  Good for Blake to look into this.

Israel Goes Cold Turkey, Part 5

The vilification of NATO and military ally Turkey continues unabated as it has violated the 28th Amendment:  Criticism of Israel is a crime punishable by the Village.
The change in Turkey’s policy burst into public view last week, after the deadly Israeli commando raid on a Turkish flotilla, which nearly severed relations with Israel, Turkey’s longtime ally. Just a month ago, Turkey infuriated the United States when it announced that along with Brazil, it had struck a deal with Iran to ease a nuclear standoff, and on Tuesday it warmly welcomed Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Russian prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, at a regional security summit meeting in Istanbul.

Turkey’s shifting foreign policy is making its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a hero to the Arab world, and is openly challenging the way the United States manages its two most pressing issues in the region, Iran’s nuclear program and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Turkey is seen increasingly in Washington as “running around the region doing things that are at cross-purposes to what the big powers in the region want,” said Steven A. Cook, a scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations. The question being asked, he said, is “How do we keep the Turks in their lane?”

How do we keep the Turks from pointing out that Israel might be part of the problem in the Middle East, you mean.  The Village is rapidly turning Turkey into the next Al Qaeda stronghold with Putin's rearing head in its airspace as an added evil bonus.

Everyone seemed to be perfectly fine with Turkey as a valuable NATO ally, helping us out in Afghanistan with military bases and equipment.  Hey, they've been in NATO for almost sixty years, folks.  But they tried to run the blockade on Gaza, and now the character assassination of the country in the US press is going full speed.

As the US plans to drop more sanctions against Iran, Turkey's role as a mediator is seen as increasingly a problem for the US plan to come down on Iran too.  It's almost like Turkey actually believed what Obama said in Cairo about the US wanting better relationships with Islamic countries in the Middle East.

Naive bastards, eh?

Blowing Smoke

Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski's plan to strip the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases has run into a little snag:  a promised White house veto.
The White House made it clear Tuesday that President Barack Obama will veto Sen. Lisa Murkowski's proposal to curtail the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, in the unlikely event the Alaska Republican's proposal passes Congress.

Murkowski on Thursday will ask fellow senators to vote on a rarely used disapproval resolution, which signals congressional displeasure with the EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health. The proposal would keep the federal agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters such as power plants, a regulatory move already under way in the absence of any comprehensive climate bill by Congress.

The White House went as far as to issue a statement of administration policy on the EPA matter, and said Tuesday that the proposal from the Alaska Republican would "undermine the administration's efforts to reduce the negative impacts of pollution and the risks associated with environmental catastrophes, like the ongoing BP oil spill."

"As seen in the Gulf of Mexico, environmental disasters harm families, destroy jobs, and pollute the nation's air, land and water," the White House wrote.

I understand that while Murkowski has to fly the colors for her constituents energy company clients, the fact remains that given the spill in the Gulf I can't see how with Congress's refusal to do much of anything about the environment she comes out not sounding tone-deaf and hypocritical here.

It's interesting seeing Republicans criticizing Obama for now taking executive action on environmental issues, and then the same Republicans turning around and offering legislation to -- surprise -- strip the executive of the power to regulate environmental issues.

Amazing how that works.

Playing The Paranoia Angle

If anything, Harry Reid's re-election staff has to be thrilled to find out they are up against Sharon Angle in Nevada.  TPM reveals why:
The peculiar ideology of Sharron Angle, the Republican nominee challenging Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada, is perhaps no better illustrated than by her embrace of the patriot group Oath Keepers, whose membership of uniformed soldiers and police take an oath to refuse orders they see as unconstitutional -- including enforcement of gun laws, violations of states' sovereignty, and "any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps."

"We support what the organization stands for," Angle's husband, Ted, told TPMDC in a phone interview Monday. "Sharron does."

Members of Oath Keepers -- whose motto is "Not on our watch!" -- take a 10-item oath affirming that they will not, for example, force citizens into detention camps or invade a state "that asserts its sovereignty and declares the national government to be in violation of the compact by which that state entered the Union."
I've talked about the Oath Keepers before.  These guys are the new face of the Patriot movement in America, and they're pretty scary.  If Sharon Angle's in bed with these guys, Harry Reid's going to have a far easier time than I thought portraying Angle as a paranoid right wing nutjob.

Does Nevada have a Rand Paul-sized problem, or does Kentucky have a Sharon Angle-sized problem?  We'll see.

Home, Home I'm Deranged, Part 3

You remember that whole residential real estate depression/collapse thing that drove us into this nasty recession?  Yeah, it's still there, folks.  And the numbers are indicating that it's going to get far worse and do so quickly.
U.S. home buying applications sank for a fifth straight week to a fresh 13-year low, the Mortgage Bankers Association said on Wednesday, suggesting that tax credits had robbed more from future sales than expected.

Demand for loans to purchase houses fell 5.7 percent in the week ended June 4 to the lowest level since February 1997, even after adjusting to account for the Memorial Day holiday.

"Purchase applications are now 35 percent below their level of four weeks ago, as homebuyers have not yet returned to the market following the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit at the end of April," Michael Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics, said in a statement.
And why would they?  There's a major recession out there, if you haven't noticed.  With the deficit hawks stripping as much spending as they can from any attempts to help the market, we're about to go down the path of Herbert Hoover once again.

Citing deficit concerns, Democrats in both chambers of Congress have said it's time to start thinking about how to wrap up the extended unemployment benefits put in place to fight the recession. But 74 percent of people surveyed said they agreed with the statement that "it is too early to start cutting back benefits and health coverage for workers who lost their jobs."
And yet that's exactly what Congress plans to do. The GOP is more than eager to hand the Dems the knife to slit their own throats with.  Somehow, they believe the Republicans are serious about deficit reduction and won't turn around and attack them for cutting off job benefits in a recession, running on a platform to "help the American middle-class."
Sixty-seven percent said they either "strongly favored" or "somewhat favored" continuing federal unemployment benefits. The poll did not mention the fact that federally-funded extensions, in combination with the initial 26 weeks of state benefits, give the unemployed up to 99 weeks in some states. (There is no proposal on the Hill to help the "99ers" -- the hundreds of thousands of people who've been through all available benefits and still haven't found work.)
And people wonder why home sales are at 13-year lows. The deficit hawks are about to pull the life-support plug on the economy and all but assure a double-dip recession if not a full-blown depression, and Dems seem to believe the Republicans will take credit for yanking the cord out, and not bash them over the head in November with it.

Playing to lose is a funny strategy when you're trying to win, Donks.

Primary Impetus, The Morning After

Blanche Lincoln indeed is the winner in Arkansas, and the White House has given Politico's Ben Smith a message for organized labor:  You wasted your money on Bill Halter, don't ever do that again.  Nate Silver notes:
The White House is being really daft, but it's also silly to think that Halter could have won the general in Arkansas. If you don't trust Rasmussen and Research 2000 polling because of their extreme house effects, the only other poll of that race was from Mason-Dixon, and it showed Halter losing to Boozman by 24 points.
Nevada's GOP Senate primary was won not by Sue "Chickens for Checkups" Lowder, but by the Tea Party candidate Sharon Angle, who will face a revitalized Harry Reid in November.

In California, as expected the GOP primaries had Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina on top for Governor and Senator, respectively.

FiveThirtyEight's Tom Schaller leaves us with this big picture note from yesterday night:
If either Sharron Angle loses this November, letting a vulnerable and high-prized target for Republicans like Harry Reid slip through, or if Rand Paul gums up the race so much he loses what otherwise should have been a surefire Republican hold in Kentucky--and certainly if both lose--there is a going to be a major reassessment of the value of the tea party to the Republican Party a la what Marc Ambinder wrote about a week ago. 
Gosh, you mean all that talk of mine over the last six months about The Hoffman Effect of Tea Party candidates pushing so far to the right in primaries that they can't win in the general is actually starting to shape up to be a real theme of the 2010 elections?

Nobody could have predicted, etc.


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