Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Last Call

Might as well make the FOX News/GOP relationship official.
Bloomberg News reports today (h/t Daily Kos' KingOneEye) that News Corp. -- the media giant which owns Fox News and The Wall Street Journal -- has donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association, the GOP organization that helps coordinate Republican gubernatorial campaigns and pays for independent ads in support of their candidates.

Media Matters has confirmed Bloomberg's report using publicly available IRS filings. We also found no evidence of corresponding donations to the Democratic Governors Association in the current political cycle. News Corp. wants Republicans elected to office, and they're willing to spend money to make it happen.

According to the article, News Corp. is actually the RGA's "biggest corporate donor." Bloomberg suggests that News Corp. has made these donations due to their opposition to "proposed federal rule changes that would weaken the position of its Fox network in negotiations with cable companies," stating that "Governors may have a stake in the issue."

Whether or not that is the case, this large corporate donation to the GOP underscores News Corp.'s role as an appendage of the Republican Party.
And hey, thanks to the Citizens United decision, this stuff is now totally legal and legitimate...and FOX can give as much as it wants to to the GOP all the way up to election day.

Great country, huh?

We report, you decide.

A Gentle Reminder Of What's At Stake

Nate Silver on Twitter this evening:

I don't think people fully comprehend how scary the generic ballot numbers are for Democrats.

We go back to Nate's generic ballot chart from April:


Anything more than R+3 means the Dems lose the House under Nate's model.

Even the most generous polls for the Democrats right now, CNN and PPP, have the Republicans at +3. Rasmussen has them at +12 with the average around +6.

To put that in badly needed perspective, best case scenario right now is Dems maybe, maybe keep the House by a seat or two.   Average case is the Republicans pick up 54 seats and have a comfortable lead.  Rasmussen case, the Republicans pick up close to 80 seats and end up with the same margin of control that the Democrats have now.

Are we sufficiently convinced that Obama and the Democrats may need to in fact change tactics on the economy and jobs?

Nate gets into the heavy numbers and the science of the generic ballot as forecasting tool here.

It's Like A Super Wal-Mart Of Angst Only With Better Parking

I will say this about the Daily Beast:  if you need to save some time and want to visit only one site to get both your fill of firebagging on incompetent Dems who just aren't any better than the GOP...
Conservative fury over the “ground zero” mosque shows that when it comes to the battle for freedom and religious liberty, the U.S. has thrown in the towel. And why are Jews so thrilled to be in lockstep with the heirs of Pat Robertson?

The president is furiously backtracking; Republicans are clawing over each other to demonize Muslims; Democrats are dead silent. It’s time to face reality. Whether or not the “ground zero” mosque ever gets built, the political debate is over. Decency lost.

So almost nine years after September 11, we need to confront a few painful truths. First, while the military and counterintelligence aspects of the struggle against al Qaeda will likely last long into the future, the “war of ideas” is over. America has thrown in the towel.
...and your allotment of Village Sensible Centrist Concern Trolling where the Dems should be even more like the GOP than the GOP are now...
As they head toward November, Democrats are facing a terrifying political reality: that their fortunes will be tied to where they come down on the mosque near ground zero.

The November elections are very close to becoming—if they haven’t already so become—the first national elections in the United States whose results are determined by the location of a mosque. Call them, in fact, the “Mosque Elections.”

Forget health-care reform and unbridled stimulus spending; forget perceived errors in Iraq and Afghanistan; forget unemployment and our economy’s endless night; forget, if you can, the toxic questions of illegal immigration and oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico. If the promoters of the mosque near ground zero do not pack up their Korans and prayer mats within the next week or so, there is every danger that they will cause the Democrats grievous harm in November—in an election that is already one in which the Democrats are bracing for a rout.
...then man, the Daily Beast is your one-stop shop for self-loathing and cynicism, huh?

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

From an email earlier today:
The ill-informed think "We're in a economic recovery."

The barely curious think "I question that. This recovery is lousy. When will the recovery pick up?"

The somewhat curious think "I question that. There is no recovery at all. Are we still in a recession?"

The actually curious think "I question that. We're not in a recession but a depression. But for how long?

The very inquisitive think "I question that. We're still in a depression. But for how long?"

The truly wise think "I question that. A depression implies we'll come out of it. Our entire economic system is broken."

The visionary mavericks think "I question that. That's a given. Ask what will replace our economic system when our current one collapses?"

The successful rich think "I question that. You ask how can I game the new system and say How do I get in on that action?"

The truly powerful think "I question that. You create the new system and then you control it."

...and the banksters think "I question that. What do you morons think we've been doing for the last decade?"
Food for thought.

Clear As Kentucky Clay Mud

The one thing Jack Conway has going for him in the KY Senate race is that every time Rand Paul tries to explain away one of his nutbar positions, he ends up making things an order of magnitude worse.  Rand's supposition that Kentucky law enforcement shouldn't take federal money to fight drugs like meth in the eastern part of the state earned Jack Conway an endorsement from the KY Fraternal Order of Police yesterday.  Greg Sargent has Paul's reply:

Now Paul has stepped forward to clarify those remarks in an interview with local WYMT-TV, claiming that as a physician, he does view the drug problem as a serious one. But it's unclear whether his clarification will help much. In sum, he said the best solution to drug use is to bring down unemployment -- which is best done by giving rich people the freedom to invest and create jobs.

It's not a stretch to ask whether Paul thinks the best solution to the drug problem is leaving the rich alone to do their thing. From the interview:
"I personally think we've been trying the government solution, and maybe there are some good aspects to it. But we're still failing, and we're not getting rid of the drug problem," Paul said.
Paul says reinvesting money in the local economy will help ease the unemployment, which he says leads to more drug use.

"You want rich people because that's what creates jobs. If you punish people, they won't expand or create jobs," Paul said.
Hooooooo boy.  Yeah, the meth problem in rural counties is really going to be helped by tax cuts for the rich.  That'll get Rand some votes in counties where there is double digit unemployment, I'm sure...

Explains why Conway has narrowed Paul's lead to just 5 points among likely voters (45-40%) and they are dead even (40% each) among registered voters in today's Reuters poll.

Turning into a real race now.

No Logic, No Paradox

Bob Cesca puts forth the paradox theory of the swing voter in 2010.
Wingnuts aside, I've talked with a few "swing" voters who often vote Republican but voted for both President Obama and John Kerry and I've reached the conclusion that they're leaning towards the Republicans because these voters are very, very confused. Let me see if I can outline the paradox here...
1) They want the government to fix the economy, which means job creation and faster growth.
2) This requires government spending.
3) They want the government to stop spending.

Sure Bob, in a logical world, this makes sense.  But this is what voters are being told by the Right Wing Noise machine:
1) They want the government to fix the economy, which means job creation and faster growth.
3) They want the government to stop spending.
And to millions of Americans, this makes perfect sense.  No paradox here, just propaganda.  The propaganda is of course, winning.   Everybody likes tax cuts! 

Economy bad?  Tax cuts!  Jobs in the crapper?  Tax cuts!  Migraine headaches make you sensitive to light?  Tax cuts!  Need a quick healthy meal you can make in 30 minutes for three hungry teenagers?  Microwave and tax cuts!  Orcs keep attacking the castle from the northern ridge with archers and catapults every night?  Elven scouts sabotaging the ridge during the day and tax cuts!

Same as it ever was.  FOX has perfected the art of getting Americans to vote against their self-interests.

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

Forget the Village conventional wisdom that the GOP will retake Congress, the stakes are now much higher as Politico's Roger Simon puts his chips on the board.  The notion that Obama won't make it through even his first term has gone from wingnut fantasy to Village conventional wisdom, and the Village always has a stake and seeing its predictions become self-fulfilling prophecies.  Obama's job as President apparently is to manage the polls, and Roger Simon's admission as much is as devastating a damnation of our failed media as it is breathtakingly cynical as he tries to snark his way through what the Village is thinking with such obvious winger fodder as to descend into self-parody:
Honest to goodness, the man just does not get it. He might be forced to pull a Palin and resign before his first term is over. He could go off and write his memoirs and build his presidential library. (Both would be half-size, of course.)

I am not saying Obama is not smart; he is as smart as a whip. I am just saying he does not understand what savvy first-term presidents need to understand:

You have to stay on message, follow the polls, listen to your advisers (who are writing the message and taking the polls) and realize that when it comes to doing what is right versus doing what is expedient, you do what is expedient so that you can get reelected and do what is right in the second term. If at all possible. And it will help your legacy. And not endanger the election of others in your party. And not hurt the brand. Or upset people too much.
Like I was saying earlier, don't rock the boat, don't borrow trouble...
You could not put the conventional wisdom more clearly: It is far better for a president to do nothing than to choose a side. Even if the side he chooses is the right one from an ethical or moral perspective, it is a “blunder” politically because inevitably it will upset some people.

The problem for Obama is that he appears to have taken seriously all the “change” stuff he promised during his campaign. And he has been unable to make the transition from candidate to president.

A candidate says, as Bobby Kennedy did, “Some men look at things the way they are and ask why? I dream of things that are not and ask why not?”

A president says: “What do the polls say?

A recent CNN poll found that 68 percent of Americans do not want a mosque built close to ground zero. Which should mean: End of story. That’s all she wrote. Let’s move on to the next crisis.
I don't know where to begin.  Stay at the back of the bus.  Don't eat at the front of the lunch counter.  Don't drink from the wrong water fountain.  Don't build Cordoba House too close to ground zero.

But the best part is that Simon tries to cover up what he believes on the second page by going "Just kidding!"
Which may be true. You can go back to the mid-1800s and find a lot of legislators saying that Abraham Lincoln should stop lecturing people about ending slavery and listen to them about keeping it.

And there were plenty of lawmakers who said President Dwight D. Eisenhower was “disconnected from the mainstream of America” when he ordered the 101st Airborne Division to go down to Little Rock, Ark., to make sure some black kids could go to school with white kids.

Both decisions may have been “off-message,” which is about the worst sin you can commit in Washington. But what’s so wrong about being off-message if you are right about the issue?
See, ol' Roger is just reminding us that other Presidents have paid a political price for doing the right thing too.  Frankly, given the speed the Wingers are jumping on this one the nuances of Roger's sarcasm are missed...but the fact remains Simon is oblivious to the fact he's part of the problem here, not the solution.

Hey look, Simon calls the outfit "Politico" not "Do The Right Thing".  He's just being honest, getting re-elected is always the most important thing and he feels Obama is violating this principle to the point where he may have to resign before his first term is up.  That really is how America's political system works, and while Simon mocks it, he's not exactly doing anything to correct the misconceptions laid out in his own online political site.  He's trying to have it both ways, posting a piece of avowed Obama-bashing Drudge bait in order to get eyeballs when he's really going "Haha, I'm just pulling your leg you wacky wingnut guys you!" and maintaining his centrist cred, knowing full well why and how he's doing it by playing the exact political media game he purports to bemoan.

This is your reward in 2010 for taking any sort of principled stand.  Bigots get political power in America.  Those who rock the boat?  Well...not so much.  Guys like Roger Simon see to that.  The Colbert Report this ain't, but depressing reality.

And now the floodgates have opened where Democrats are now taking Simon's advice, offered "in jest", at face value.

We deserve what the GOP will do to us over the next few years.  We really do.

How Fast Indeed

What's the velocity at which New Jersey's GOP Gov. and rising star Chris Christie gets thrown under the bus for pleading sanity about Cordoba House in an increasingly insane party?
"We have to acknowledge, respect and give some measure of deference to the feelings of the family members who lost there loved ones there that day," the New Jersey governor said. "But it would be wrong to so overreact to that, that we paint Islam with a brush of radical Muslim extremists that just want to kill Americans because we are Americans. But beyond that...I am not going to get into it, because I would be guilty of candidly what I think some Republicans are guilty of, and the President is now the president is guilty of, of playing politics with this issue, and I simply am not going to do it."
The answer came pretty quickly.

For those of you just joining us, Mark Levin takes Chris Christie to task for not hating Muslims enough. Meanwhile, Christie has gone overnight from being the next Big Thing to the next Scott Brown.

Poor Chris. You're just not bigoted enough to be a Republican star.

Getting Myth Busted Can Be Costly

It's a good thing the Wingers are protecting us from the "myth of global warming" and all.  We wouldn't want job-creating outside investment in our alternative energy industries anyway.
“You just throw your hands up and say … we’re going to take our money elsewhere,” said Kevin Parker in an interview with Reuters.

Parker, who is global head of the Frankfurt-based bank’s Deutsche Asset Management Division, oversees nearly $700 billion in funds that devote $6 billion to $7 billion to climate change products.

Amid so much political uncertainty in the United States, Parker said Deutsche Bank will focus its “green” investment dollars more and more on opportunities in China and Western Europe, where it sees governments providing a more positive environment.

They’re asleep at the wheel on climate change, asleep at the wheel on job growth, asleep at the wheel on this industrial revolution taking place in the energy industry,” Parker said of Washington’s inability to seal a climate-change program and other alternative energy incentives into place.

Glad we could help out China's industries instead of creating those nasty evil green jobs here.  After all, families that get money from green jobs might actually question why massive chunks of Antarctica are falling off during the hottest global year on record.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

When people like CNN's Jack Cafferty are asking questions like this:
Are Muslims buying themselves unnecessary problems by insisting on building a mosque near Ground Zero in New York?
...then we as a people have forgotten almost everything about civil rights and freedoms.  How many times, how many ways can we tell a minority group of Americans "don't rock the boat or you'll sink"?  I understand there's a long journey for any minority group in America to get to acceptable status, but even then "acceptable" status always has to be fought for...by rocking the boat.

You're too close to the front of the bus. You're too close to the front of the lunch counter. You're too close to that water fountain and that bathroom. You're too close to Ground Zero.

Don't go borrowing trouble.

Yeah, American history is full of advancing civil rights by accepting separate but equal status and not "buying unnecessary problems".

[UPDATE]: From Waffles in the comments:

There not saying "You cannot build the mosque at all"

You're stretching badly.

Really.  Nobody, huh.

GUPTA: Thank you. I want to be clear on your viewpoint here because you've made quite a bit of waves lately. You don't want any mosques built in the United States, is that correct? You want a moratorium?

FISCHER: I think the reality Dr. Gupta is, that when we look at Islam, we're looking at a totalitarian ideology that is anti-Christian, anti-Semitic. The values that are at the core of Islam are contrary to every single solitary western and American value. I think communities ought to have the liberty to reject building permits.

Each one of these mosques is either a potential or actual recruitment center for Jihadism or training center for Jihadism.

GUPTA: You said quite a bit there already. Let me just start with one thing, freedom of religion. You've been asked this question before; it's one of this country's founding principles.

The First Amendment says, Congress shall make no law respecting (ph) an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

How can you say that that potentially applies to all religions except Islam?

FISCHER: Well, the reality, Dr. Gupta, is that no one could claim First Amendment religious protections if their ideology and their activities are subversive.

All you've got do is ask the Christian militia, the Hutaree how much First Amendment protections they had when they set out to attack federal officers. They have Bible verses plastered all over their Web site. Everything they did, they did in the name of Jesus Christ. They are right now pondering the limits of the First Amendment from the inside of a jail cell, which is where they should be.

But of course, Fischer sees this as evidence that Islam is subversive, not Christianity, because of course Hutaree didn't represent Christianity, but 9/11 represented every single Muslim.  These assholes don't give a damn about the Constitution.  They just hate Muslims, period.

Meanwhile Out In The Gulf Of Mexico

Hey, how's that relief well coming so they can finish capping this damn mess?
A few days after telling reporters that the final stages of the relief well was likely to go forward this week, it seems we might all have to wait a while longer. Further pressure tests on the well now indicate that some amount of concrete leaked into the annulus, or outer casing, during the earlier static kill. Concrete either leaked directly through the casing pipe, or entered the annulus up from the reservoir. Worse, some 1,000 barrels of oil may be trapped in the annulus, and the wrong drill at the wrong time could lead to a new leak—albeit admittedly one that might be equivalent to the amount of oil the blown BP well was gushing every 20 minutes or so before it was capped last month. "Nobody wants [the relief well] any more than I do," Allen told reporters today. But the process "will not start until we figure out how to manage the risk of pressure in the annulus."

The problem isn't new—we've known for a while that adding additional mud or concrete via a relief well could increase the pressure in the annulus, and that could impact parts of the capping stack on the top of well, which has a limited ability to resist added pressure. But now it turns out that additional measures could be needed to finally finish the job—including removing the capping stack altogether. BP could then also replace the well's original blowout preventer—a piece of equipment still sitting on top of the well—with a new one better able to withstand additional pressure. Or BP could try to jury-rig a pressure relief system on the existing capping stack.

Either way, it's still going to take another 96 hours for the relief well to be finished, once BP gets the go ahead. (Expect Energy Secretary Steven Chu to have a strong say in how things go.) But now once the relief well hits its target, making contact with the original well, BP will wait another 7 days as Chu and the science team figures out how to manage this pressure problem. Altogether that could mean the end of the well could drag on into September—more than four months after the original accident.
Oh, so you mean the relief well won't be finished until next month.  Maybe.  If they can figure out where the additional pressure is coming from and deal with it.

Everything's fine, we're all fine here.  How are you?

Propping Up A Bad Decision

As widely expected and as I predicted last week, despite Judge Walker's blistering decision overturning California's same-sex marriage ban as patently unconstitutional, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has stepped in and issued an indefinite stay against Walker's order until they can hear the case in December.

The Ninth Circuit panel, made up of Judges Edward Leavy, Michael Daly Hawkins and Sidney R. Thomas, determined that a stay pending the appeal was appropriate.
The panel requested the first briefs to be filed in September and for the appeal to be heard in court in December.
Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law at the Loyola Law School Los Angeles, said the ruling “takes the heat off the Supreme Court,” which was likely to have been asked for an emergency stay by those who support Proposition 8 if the Ninth Circuit had not acted.
But Mr. Hasen added that the stay’s putting a halt to any potential marriages did not mean that the Ninth Circuit would necessarily rule in favor of Proposition 8.
“I don’t think that the granting of the stay means much, if anything, about how the Ninth Circuit will rule on the merits,” he said. “It won’t be the same panel deciding the merits as decided the stay motion.” 
Mr. Hasen added he believed that even supporters of same-sex marriage could see the logic of extending a stay. 
But the real question here may be the issue of standing.
One issues most likely to be settled by the appeals court is that of legal standing. Both Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown of California — named as defendants in the case — have voiced opposition to Proposition 8.

That left the defense of the measure primarily to its ballot sponsors, including the group Protectmarriage.com. Some legal experts have questioned, however, whether a group that is not charged with enforcing a law can be found to be responsible for defending it
Arnold and Jerry Brown certainly do have standing, but they refuse to defend the ban because they believe it is unconstitutional as well.  The larger question is not just if the Prop 8 defenders have legal standing, but whether a referendum-passed law or any law requires the state to defend a law it doesn't believe in or thinks is constitutional if it's challenged in court.

In other words, is Jerry Brown's choice as state AG to not defend the law a dereliction of duty, or is his professional opinion that the law is not constitutional mean that he's performing his duty to the state?

My personal feelings are that the ban doesn't past Constitutional muster in the least.  Judge Walker laid down some considerable arguments.  At the same time, that question of standing doesn't affect just the Prop 8 proponents, but the State of California as well.  Can a state be compelled to defend a law that it believes is unconstitutional if the traditional check and balance function of a Governor's veto is bypassed due to the law being a state constitutional referendum?

Does this call into question California's referendum process?  We'll see.  For now, same-sex marriages in California are on hold until the 9th Circuit answers some questions.  One of the questions the stay order specifically mentioned is for the Prop 8 people to show they had standing, and that means there's a chance the 9th may boot this one based on that alone.  Calitics:
It shows that the Court has serious doubts about whether the Appellants have standing.  Even better, the Court is expressing an opinion that its inclination is that the case should be dismissed. That being said, the panel that issued this Order (the motions panel) is not the same panel that will hear that case on the merits.  The merits panel will be selected shortly before December 6th and we don't know the three judges who will be on the merits panel.  But this is a very good sign that the appeal could be dismissed on the ground of standing alone.   
That of course would be appealed to the Supreme Court. Clearly both Judge Walker and the 9th circuit are far more worried about if the Prop 8 proponents have standing than if Jerry and Arnold should be compelled to defend the case.


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