Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Last Call

The reported demise of Lisa Murkowski may in fact be premature.
Murkowski told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she's been inundated with calls and e-mails from supporters and overwhelmed by people just coming up to her, asking her not to leave the race. She said she had been ready to consider her future outside the Senate on Aug. 31, when she conceded, but has been humbled by the outpouring from Alaskans, is listening and weighing her options.

She said that if this was "all about Lisa, certainly the easy thing for me to do would be to figure out what my next opportunity would be with my family and just settle in to a nice job."

"But what I'm looking at is my state and the future of my state for my kids. So, I have not made that determination that I'm going to give up. I'm not a quitter, never have been. And I'm still in this game," Murkowski said. 
She met briefly Tuesday with the Libertarian candidate David Haase after friends of hers - without her direction, she said - approached his party, asking if the Libertarians would consider a Murkowski candidacy. She said she was prepared to meet with those friends Tuesday but was told that Haase and party Chairman Scott Kohlhaas also were invited. She said she was not "prepared nor interested" in talking with the Libertarian board, which she said Kohlhaas represents. However, she indicated she'd be willing to listen to what Haase had to say "but that's the extent of my interest at this point in time. So I did." 
Now things get really, really interesting.  If there's one state that runs on federal largesse, it's Alaska.  Joe Miller's ideas of getting rid of that little empire is not sitting very well with Alaskan politicians.  Even worse for the Alaska GOP is the notion of Joe Miller going down in defeat and Alaska having two relatively junior Democratic senators in a year where the Republicans apparently have a shot at controlling the Senate, putting the Great White North at the ass end of the earmark gravy train line.  That's the nightmare scenario for them, especially in this economy.  Palin's home state going blue?  Not a lot of folks in the GOP are going to be very forgiving.

So Lisa Murkowski's looking to pull a Charlie Crist, and she may even have tacit help from the NRSC.  If this plays out like I think it will, it's not Florida that will be the battle for the heart and soul of the GOP, but Alaska.

And actually, if it plays out like I think it will, Alaska may get that second Democratic senator after all.

Bread And Circuses

Slate's Timothy Noah begins a detailed analysis of what he calls "The Great Divergence", the fact that the richest 1% of Americans control 24% of the nation's total wealth.  Things are bad in America right now:

Why don't Americans pay more attention to growing income disparity? One reason may be our enduring belief in social mobility. Economic inequality is less troubling if you live in a country where any child, no matter how humble his or her origins, can grow up to be president. In a survey of 27 nations conducted from 1998 to 2001, the country where the highest proportion agreed with the statement "people are rewarded for intelligence and skill" was, of course, the United States. (69 percent). But when it comes to real as opposed to imagined social mobility, surveys find less in the United States than in much of (what we consider) the class-bound Old World. France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Spain—not to mention some newer nations like Canada and Australia—are all places where your chances of rising from the bottom are better than they are in the land of Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick.

And the best part is the inequality data goes back to 2007 or 2008.  Over the last 2 years, that divergence has absolutely gotten worse.  The richest 10% of Americans control 46% of income.  That number will only get worse as this depression drags on.

And when did this start?  With the election of one Ronald Reagan.  Explains the GOP over the last 30 years, huh?

Somebody's Got To Pay

Kevin Drum documents the disconnect.

To recap, voters like the Democrats more than the Republicans. They think Democrats share their values and would rather actually see them in charge. But somebody's got to pay for not fixing the Bush economic collapse in 18 months, and that somebody is going to be the Democrats...because they're in charge.

The Republicans don't have to run on anything. "They're not the Democrats" is all it takes, apparently.

They're taking it out on the Dems. Logic goes like this: "Democrats have had 18 months to fix this economy and they've failed. There's a 99.999% chance the Republicans will make it worse, but you know, hope and change."

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Rand Paul made me think Republicans were crazy.  Then Sharron Angle won her primary in Nevada.

Sharron Angle made me think Republicans were totally nuts.  Then Joe Miller won his primary in Alaska.

Joe Miller med me think Republicans were completely insane.  Then Christine O'Donnell burst onto the scene in Delaware.

And suddenly I don't feel nearly as bad about the Dems and the Senate.

The Mask Slips Again

...and wingnuts tell the truth, this time on the real reason behind opposition to the Park51 project in Manhattan.  Yggy flags this from Marty Peretz (natch):

But, frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.

Now let's step back and think about that for a second.  Peretz is saying that because Muslim extremism exists, that it's okay to question if American Muslims should be covered under the First Amendment.  To Peretz they're not American, not worthy of the protections of the Constitution, and arguably not even human.
Adam Serwer sums this up as such:

This is the most honest statement in opposition to the Park51 project that I've read. American Muslims aren't really Americans, therefore they're not "worthy" of having First Amendment rights extended to them, therefore the community center shouldn't be built. This perfectly illustrates why "burn a Koran day" isn't a subject of outrage while conservatives organize against the construction of an Islamic community center in a preexisting prayer space as though the former were an "offense" to those who died on 9/11. White Christians are allowed to "abuse" the First Amendment because unlike American Muslims, they're real Americans and the freedoms outlined in the Constitution actually apply to them. Peretz argues this while stating matter of factly that "Actually, no one has shown that a single serious demonstration against Muslims and Arabs, against their beliefs and behavior can be raised in this country." It's called Google.

And that folks is the real heart of the opposition to Park51.   There's a large contingent of people who not only does the Constitution not apply to American Muslims, but that it shouldn't apply to those people who think it should apply to American Muslims, either.  Opposition to burning Qurans is exactly like opposition to Park51 apparently, and if you think either is wrong, you hate the Constitution or something.

The right for American citizens to persecute Muslims is apparently stronger than the rights Muslims have as American citizens.

Go figure.

Act Now And Save!

President Obama is wheeling and dealing, offering the third of his economic packages this week.  In addition to making the research and development tax credit permanent and calling for infrastructure spending, the President wants to entice businesses to spend on expansion now with a major capital investment credit:  a 100% write-off if they build now.

President Barack Obama will call on Congress to pass new tax breaks that would allow businesses to write off 100 percent of their new capital investments through 2011, the latest in a series of proposals the White House is rolling out in hopes of showing action on the economy ahead of the November elections.
An administration official said the tax breaks would save businesses $200 billion over two years, allowing companies to have more cash on hand. The president will outline the proposal during a speech on the economy in Cleveland Wednesday.
Amid an uptick in unemployment to 9.6 percent, and polls showing that the November election could be dismal for Democrats, Obama has promised to propose new steps to stimulate the economy. In addition to the business investment tax breaks, he will also call for a $50 billion infrastructure investment and a permanent expansion of research and development tax credits for companies.
The proposals would requires congressional approval, which is highly uncertain given Washington's partisan atmosphere. With the public worried about adding to the mounting federal deficits, and Republicans saying spending is out of control, even many Democratic lawmakers are reluctant to approve new spending so close to the midterm elections.
And therein is the problem.  Even Republican tax breaks for businesses are "too much unrestrained spending" right now for Republicans and of course some Democrats, and there's no way any of these plans are going to pass congressional muster.   Republicans will say all Obama has to do is cut a couple hundred billion in social spending and he can have his tax cuts, sure.

Why nobody in the Village is outright saying "Republicans will block this plan regardless in order to deny the President any sort of victory" I don't know.   Instead, it's the couple of Democrats taking the blame, not the 41 Republican senators.

The Difference Between Likely Voters And Registered Voters

It's important to note that the asskicking the Dems are taking in the generic ballot numbers are a product of likely voters versus registered ones, and what constitutes a "likely voter" differs from pollster to pollster.  When polls are taken of registered voters, the generic ballot issue is much, much closer, as in the latest WSJ/NBC survey of voters.
The survey shows that among likely voters — based on their interest and past voting history — 49 percent prefer a Republican-controlled Congress while 40 percent want one run by Democrats. Among those expressing a high interest in voting, that GOP lead increases 18 points, 53 percent to 35 percent.
Among all registered voters, however, both parties are tied on the generic ballot, 43 percent to 43 percent, suggesting that Democrats could potentially blunt GOP gains in November with high turnout at the polls.
But right now, according to the poll, the interest level in the midterms is down among Democrats, African-Americans and younger Americans compared to 2006, when the Democratic Party won control of both the House and Senate.
If Democrats lose control of Congress, Hart argues, it’s “because they didn’t vote.” 
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In other words, if turnout models hold true and Republican turnout is higher than normal for a midterm election, then the Democrats are in serious, serious trouble.  If however turnout for the Democrats is increased, the damage can be contained.

Bob Cesca argues what this poll proves is that Democrats need a reason to turn out.
Two things need to happen, then. I think we need some red meat from the Democrats -- some juicy liberal legislation rocketing through Congress and the president on the stump pushing for it. And we also have a responsibility to generate some excitement ourselves. A movement is supposed to, you know, move. We can start here and go.
The first thing's just not going to happen.  What you're seeing this week is it.   The second then is the way to go.

Death By A Thousand Cuts, Or Just One Big One

Steve M. expands upon my theory that a GOP Congress (or at least a GOP House) means a battle to defund health care reform leading to a shutdown, and how that relates to an impeachment battle.

I actually think that the two are related. If Boehner tries to lead a defunding fight and shuts down the government in the course of that fight, and then loses the fight, a drive for impeachment may come as a reaction to that failure. In other words, I think the Republicans may really take the criminalization of political differences to new heights --they'll try to impeach Obama precisely because he passed the health care law and because he fought off efforts to defund it. Why the hell not? The phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" sounds so vague to modern ears, and voices of reason are in such short supply (and such low regard) in America, that Republicans could try to impeach Obama over anything plausibly. So if they lose a defunding/shutdown fight, they'll just fight to defund on another battlefield. And it will all be deemed Obama's fault.

That's certainly plausible, but again that's assuming there's still any sort of logical progression in the GOP leadership post November 2010, which I'm saying there will not be.  There's a very good chance you will see the Republicans go nuts and attack the President and his policies from every angle:  defunding his programs, forcing a shutdown, and leading impeachment investigations, and doing it all at the same time.

Steve is right however about all of it being Obama's fault.  That's being set up now.  No matter what actually happens in November, Republicans "won a mandate" and Democrats "need to listen to the people."

Exquisite chaos approaches.

It's Getting Downright Silly Now

Well, she doesn't know anything about economics, math, or politics, and now Megan McArdle is expanding her repertoire of things she has now clue about but will write a column on anyway to sociology and sex as she pans a book by Christopher Ryan on the theory of evolutionary sexuality because...she says so.  Ryan's response is classic.
But still, every party has the red-faced, humorless, easily-offended type. Yesterday, at The Atlantic web site, Megan McArdle provided a stellar example. Her comments begin strangely, with the admission that she's "in the middle" of the book. Note the urgency to condemn it publicly, even before reading the damned thing! And boy, does she lash out:
• "It reads like horsefeathers . . . like an undergraduate thesis,"
• "breathless rather than scientific"
• "cherry-picked evidence stretched far out of shape to support their theory,"
• "they don't even attempt to paper over the enormous holes in their theory."
Ouch! And that's just the first paragraph. But wait, it gets worse. The second paragraph is worth quoting in full, as it's really a perfect expression of the bug-eyed panic the book provokes in some people:
"For example, like a lot of evolutionary biology critiques, this one leans heavily on bonobos (at least so far). Here's the thing: humans aren't like bonobos. And do you know how I know that we are not like bonobos? Because we're not like bonobos. There's no way observed human societies grew out of a species organized along the lines of a bonobo tribe." (emphasis in original)
Got that? Humans aren't like bonobos because we're not like bonobos. No way! So there! Case closed.
And that's pretty much McMegan's argument.  Ryan then proceeds to dismantle her column like a Ford Mustang being stripped for parts, and it gets pretty brutal from there, do read it.

The larger point is McArdle continues to be employed when she has the intellectual and journalistic standards of wet cardboard in a hurricane, but that's just me. (via Oliver Willis)

Betraying Petraeus

It seems the right is not too happy with our military commanders like General Petraeus saying that burning Qurans is bad news for our missions in the Middle East.  Apparently, this makes the good General as fascist.

 Still, is it not highly problematic when a senior military officer warns American citizens against exercising their undoubted First Amendment rights? This situation is different from the Koran-down-the-toilet story. We criticized news outlets at the time for endangering American troops, but that was mostly because the story was false. Presumably we can all agree that newspapers and magazines should not circulate false reports that endanger our troops. But what about accurate stories of Americans exercising their constitutional right to criticize Islam by burning Korans?

Oh, now the Right is worried about First Amendment rights to burn religious texts.  Now when General Petraeus says something might endanger the troops, he should be ignored.  Now we should question our generals.  None of that applied before over the last nine years, mind you.

Roy Edroso has some advice for the Right, too.

Clearly the real source of Hinderaker's disturbance is that someone he thought was on his team is throwing cold water on the Islamophobic hoopla Hinderaker and his comrades have been whooping up over the Almost Ground Zero Mosque. How can get they keep getting traction out of that when their own honkey heroes are putting on the kibosh? 

Gonna be interesting to see how this turns out.  Just like the Constitution apparently says you have the right to stop gay marriage because it offends you, the Constitution also says you have the right to persecute Islam and Muslims because they're not Christians.  Who knew?


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