Thursday, September 9, 2010

Last Call

More and more Dems, particularly Blue Dogs in the House, are bailing on Obama's insistence that the Bush tax cuts be allowed to expire on the richest Americans.  On one hand, the voting populace is overwhelming for letting them expire for the rich.  On the other hand, the rich are the only ones in any position to have money to donate to political campaigns these days.  Greg Sargent:

Here's a quick rundown of Dems in tough races who are coming out against ending the tax cuts for the rich:
* Rep Jim Himes of Conneticut says he supports a termporary extension, because earning $250,000 annually "does not make you really rich."
* Rep Bobby Bright of Alabama came out against ending the tax cuts, because "a vast majority of my constituents that they don't believe in tax increases on anybody at this point in time."
* Rep Ron Klein of Florida wants a one year extension of the tax cuts, including those for the rich, because "right now, our top economic priority has to be job creation."
* Rep Gerry Connolly of Virginia says the tax cuts should remain because the recovery remains "fragile."
* Rep Gary Peters of Michigan wants the cuts to continue lest we "jeopardize economic recovery."
* Rep Harry Mitchell of Arizona says he "strongly" opposes letting the tax cuts lapse because "we need to encourage investment, not discourage it."

Really, guys? Way to back the party and the people on this. We can afford tax cuts for the rich, but we can't afford anything to help the rest of us. Nice.

The Monstrous Specter Of Democratic Government

This is the last I want to hear about how Obama has supposedly grown government out of control.


To recap during the Bush years we added 1.7 million federal government employees.

Under Obama's term, if you take away the Census workers, we've gotten rid of roughly a quarter-million or so.

This is why the Mitch Daniels hiring freeze plan is idiotic on its face. We're already cutting thousands of federal employees, and the same people blaming Obama for a bloated government are completely forgetting that George W. Bush engineered the largest expansion in federal government employment.  It's already a "hiring freeze" you dufus Republicans.

And speaking of how Americans do under Democratic administrations as compared to Republicans ones, let's take a look at this chart from Ezra Klein.


Republicans are liars who think you are morons, period.   America does better under Democrats.  Got it?

Epic We Didn't Start The Fire Fail

So apparently all you have to do in order to enshrine Islamophobia as standard operating procedure in America is threaten to burn some things.

A fundamentalist Christian pastor on Thursday called off his plan to burn copies of the Koran on Saturday.

Terry Jones, who heads the tiny, little-known Dove World Outreach Center church based in the Florida university town of Gainesville, said an agreement had been reached with Muslim leaders to move the controversial location of a planned Islamic cultural center and mosque in New York.

It would be moved away from the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Let that sink in there for a few minutes.  Now, I'm hoping Terry Jones here is full of crap and is lying about this deal with the Park51 project.  I really, really hope he's high as a kite on meth and Nyquil right now.  Indeed...

But sources close to New York Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said there was no agreement to move the site of the proposed Muslim cultural center.

I hope that this is the end.  Otherwise, not only is the apparent endgame of all this that the Park51 project is being moved directly due to a religious bigot threatening to torch a bunch of holy texts, but this would seal forever that the idea that building a Muslim community center in an old Burlington Coat Factory a couple blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center would be just as shamefully unacceptable as a man of God threatening to burn another religion's holy book.

For the rest of our lifetimes, building a Muslim anything in America would be considered an act as outrageous and awful as burning Qurans, Bibles, Torahs, whatever.   Likewise, all you have to do apparently in order to get said Muslims to capitulate to the Islamophobes is to threaten to desecrate a Quran.

And it would be mission accomplished, hate merchants.  You'd win.  My hat would be off to you.  it would be a situation where they played one measly fanatic card and got the jackpot of socially acceptable Islamophobia to flog for years to come now.  That's what's at stake.  Park51 better hold the line here.

I hope that this isn't true.  Olbermann will be talking to an Imam from Orlando tonight on Countdown.  I really hope that this sort of deal hasn't actually been cut yet.  It looks like it hasn't been.

I hope that remains the case.


[UPDATE] AP says "No deal"....for now.

After the news conference, Musri told The Associated Press there was an agreement for him and Jones to travel to New York and meet Saturday — on the actual anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — with the imam overseeing plans to build a mosque near ground zero.

"I told the pastor that I personally believe the mosque should not be there, and I will do everything in my power to make sure it is moved," Musri said. "But there is not any offer from there (New York) that it will be moved. All we have agreed to is a meeting, and I think we would all like to see a peaceful resolution."

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said he was surprised by the announcement and that he would not barter.

Best part?  We're back to square one.  See, Terry Jones stopped his little Reichstag Fire,  but the mean evil Muslims won't move their DEATH STAR VICTORY MOSQUE!!!


Sabado Gigante

Via The Political Carnival ...guess which network America's 18-49 year olds watched the most last week according to the Nielsen numbers?

Univision was the most popular network among television viewers aged 18 to 49 years old last week, the first time a Spanish-language station has beaten English stations in this key demographic in the United States.

Soap operas reaching key points in their stories combined with a desultory week of reality and reruns at the English broadcast networks made the milestone possible.

On television, the 18-to-49-year-old demographic is considered so important to advertisers that ABC, NBC and Fox pay more attention to these ratings than they do for viewership as a whole.

Compared to the other broadcasters, Univision’s audience is markedly younger. Last week, 2.1 million of Univision’s prime-time average of 3.8 million viewers were in that youthful demographic, the Nielsen Co. said. By contrast, 1.8 million of CBS’ 5.7 million viewers were in this group.

Oh my.  I wonder which will be more amusing, the winger freakout against Nielsen ("How many Nielsen families are illegals ZOMG OUTRAGE") or the winger plea to "Real Americans" to stop screwing around on the intertoobs and watch CSI: Hoboken in the name of cultural purity.

You know, otherwise there might be...gasp...more Latinos in commercials or something  (and not George Lopez!)

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Somebody's campaigning just a bit too hard on his stump speech here.

This guy and should so totally run on the same ticket.

Acquire Currency, Disregard Poltroons

Will Bunch pegs Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin as what they are:  old-fashioned snake oil salesmen in the age of Twitterati who aren't above cashing in on 9/11.
The spiritual guru of the 9-12 Project will be marking the anniversay of 9-11 along with his new best friend Sarah Palin with a high-priced (and as far as the actual program goes, somewhat mysterious) event at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska. The potential event has been rumored and discussed under the radar for days, possibly even as the launch of a Palin 2012 presidential bid.

But apparently, in the immortal words of Steve Martin in "The Jerk," it's yet another "profit deal" for the two leading high-def hucksters of the right wing. According to the Ticketmaster page, tickets for this solemn 9-11 commemoration run from a low of $73 to a top price of $130, and that's not all. There's also $225 for a special meet-and-greet with Beck (and possibly with Palin), so that die-hard (and not economically struggling) Beck fans can wish him a happy 9-11 in person.

If there's a contradiction or some sort of irony in cashing in over 9-11, that seems to have eluded the hosts. Palin wrote this week on her Facebook page: "We can count on Glenn to make the night interesting and inspiring, and I can think of no better way to commemorate 9/11 than to gather with patriots who will 'never forget.' "

Visa and MasterCard accepted.

Truth be told, outrageous as Beck's latest scheme is, it's almost hard to work up the outrage at this point because to those of us who aren't drinking the David Barton-fueled Kool-Aid, this is simply who Beck is: One of the most shameless businesspeople in America, who happens to be in the business of entertainment and warping some minds politically in the process. Beck has millions of fans -- and to him they are all walking ATM machines. He thinks nothing of selling the people who admire him overpriced gold coins or surivial seed banks and "Food Insurance" kits, none of which they need, and almost every Beck event not named "Restoring Honor" is designed around maximizing ticket prices.

That's why Glenn Beck made $32 million last year and Sarah Palin made $12 million in a matter of months.

The only difference is that this time it's 9/11.

And Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are open for business 365 days a year.
From Moose Lady's book tour, speaking engagements, reality TV series and FOX appearances to Glenn Beck's rallies, radio show, TV show and appearances all over, these two are the Oberon and Titania of the Wingnut Popularity Court.  Bunch isn't telling us anything new about these two.  They've been cashing in again and again on making Obama hate a full time cottage industry worth millions to them personally and even more to their corporate sponsors and the GOP.

Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are nothing more than a slickly manufactured product mass-produced for consumption by the disaffected Right, and baby, the market has never been better for these two clowns.  Nothing should be more cynically obvious to the wingers than being manipulated into coughing up Ticketmaster prices to see these two on 9/11...but of course missing the patently obvious is a requirement of being a wingnut.

I'd say that they all deserve each other and they can simply nip off and commiserate in hell, except for the fact that as a result these jokers have a disproportionate effect on our representative democracy process with the goal of preventing said process from working for anyone but themselves.

That's a problem for all of us.  Kudos to Will Bunch however for speaking the truth here.

Really, Alaskans?  You have so many better things to spend money on.

The Reasons Why They Hate Us

Afghan insurgents don't "hate us for our freedoms" and it's not really things like assclown pastors burning Qurans, but as Peter Daou flags down it's things like "US soldiers killing Afghans for sport and taking fingers as trophies" that might really push Afghans over the edge into endless retaliatory violence.
In one of the most grisly war crimes investigations to date, 12 American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly murdered Afghan civilians for sport and collected bits of their fingers as war souvenirs.

Five of the soldiers have been charged with killing three Afghan civilians in January, February and May of this year. Seven of their comrades are accused of helping them cover up the murders and beating up another U.S. soldier -- an alleged whistle-blower fresh out of basic training who reported his platoon mates for smoking hashish stolen from Afghans.

All of the accused are based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, and served a year with a Stryker infantry brigade in southern Afghanistan. Their unit -- B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division -- saw heavy combat in Afghanistan and suffered many casualties.
On Wednesday, The Seattle Times published excerpts of U.S. military documents outlining charges against the soldiers, and several other news agencies have reported on the case. The charges include premeditated murder, aggravated assault, obstructing justice and possessing human body parts, and carry penalties of up to life in prison or the death penalty.

The documents say that the most senior ranking defendant, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, 25, of Billings, Mont., was found in possession of "finger bones, leg bones and a tooth taken from Afghan corpses," according to Al-Jazeera.
I mean, I know war is hell and all that, but this is outright insanity, inhuman butchery on a truly frightening scale.  Years after Abu Ghraib and we're still doing this?  This stuff happened this year, folks.

No wonder we're losing large chunks of Afghanistan back to the Taliban.  I'll tell you what, if a "kill team" from a foreign country came through here gunning down Americans and taking bones as trophies, exactly how would Americans react?

Do you blame the Afghan people for taking up violence?  This has been going on for years and it's proof it will continue until we leave Afghanistan for good, folks.  COIN tactics and "clear, control, hold" strategy aside, this is a complete Charlie Foxtrot.

Bring them home and for God's sakes get them the help they need to cope with nine years of this idiocy.

If It's Thursday...

New jobless claims down 27k to 451k, continuing claims roughly unchanged at 4.48 million.  We have to get under 400k to even get to treading water for the birth/death models of the labor pool.  As it is, we've been slowly drowning for the last 12 months.

Hope Democrats can do something about the next two.

[UPDATE] Tyler Durden reminds us that nine states including California didn't submit numbers this week due to the Labor Day holiday, so that for about 30% of the workforce, this week's number is an estimate.  And amazingly enough, it's the best jobless claim number in several months.  Go figure.

What's The Play Here?

The who's who of wingnuttery is lining up against Pastor Terry Jones and his "Burn a Quran Day" in Florida on Saturday.  From Pam Geller to Erick Erickson to Sarah Palin, the right is coming out against Jones's vile stunt.

And while it's the right thing to do, the reasons behind it are anything but altruistic concern for our American Muslim brothers and sisters.  So why the change of heart?  A couple of theories:

1) The Petraeus Factor:  Since Gen. David Petraeus came out earlier this week against the Quran burning and voiced concern that it might harm US troops in the Middle East, the Wingers have fallen into line.  After years of "Listen to the generals, stupid Liberals!" they are suddenly neatly and completely trapped by their own logic.  Some have picked a fight with Petraeus but have gotten nothing but grief from the rest of the Right for it, and the rest have fallen into line.

2) The Park51 False Equivalency:  No doubt some of the overwhelming criticism of Pastor Jones is because the Wingers see burning Qurans to be "as controversial as the Park51 project in Manhattan".  Only extremists would want anything as crazy as burning Qurans or building a victory mosque on the atomized remains of Ground Zero, you know extremists like Liberals and Muslims.  This false equivalency is absolutely motivating much of the protests, especially for the real hard-core Muslim-haters like Pammy.

3)  A Winger Too Far:  In the end it's just impossible to really defend Jones here, even for Wingnut logic.  Certainly none of the Presidential hopefuls in 2012 are going to back Jones on this, so voila!  Everyone from Moose Lady to America's Favorite Wealthy Mormon are out against this.  Quran burning is not good optics.  Not even Wingers are this dumb.

4)  Mainstreaming Islamophobia:  The real reason, and the one reasons 1-3 relate to, is maintaining the illusion that Islamophobia is acceptable mainstream in America.  It's a lot easier to say "Well I don't think they should build there" when you can back it up with the absolving addition of "But hey I'm not burning books or anything, those guys are the real fruitcakes and we're not like that."  Move the Overton Window to the right and work the vast real estate between outright McCarthyism and "mild disapproval of that weird religion".  It's classic Winger stuff here.  Openly questioning the patriotism of Muslims is now "perfectly normal".

So yes, in the end don't be fooled:  The Right is still leveraging the crazy.

The Best Congress Money Can Buy

Wall Street is putting its considerable cash flow behind GOP candidates in the Senate.  They want the old Bush-era practices of looking the other way back while they pillage the country's coffers.  They want the GOP in charge and they will throw unlimited cash at our electoral system until it happens.

Between February and June, financial, insurance and real estate interests contributed heavily to five Senate Republican candidates: Ohio's Rob Portman ($820,000), Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey ($728,000), California's Carly Fiorina ($650,000), Illinois' Mark Kirk ($618,000) and Florida's Marco Rubio ($613,000), according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Republicans say the shift in donations is another sign of growing concern about the Democrats’ agenda, which has included broad new financial regulations.

“We’re seeing a shift in support towards Republicans because the message of restoring accountability in Washington and serving as a check on the Democrats’ agenda of more spending and higher taxes is clearly resonating,” said Brian Walsh, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Seven of the top 10 recipients of financial industry contributions from February to June were Republicans, the data shows. New York Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer ($1.52 million) and Kirsten Gillibrand ($788,000), and Connecticut Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal ($707,000) were also among the top 10 recipients.

Rounding out the top 10 were House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va., $818,000) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio, $589,000).

The Center for Responsive Politics first noticed a change in the financial industry's pattern of giving in February, when 17 of the top 25 recipients of contributions were Republicans.

"This was not a blip. There was a dramatic change and it has persisted," said Dave Levinthal, communications director at the center. "We see no indication of it stopping."

Imagine that, Wall Street money pouring into GOP pickups (and well-kept New York Wall Street Democrats).  Big Business is looking to get the best Congress money can buy, and they have the billions to make it so.  They want to go back to no oversight, no accountability, less regulation, and less responsibility to the American people, and a GOP-controlled Congress is just the way to get everything they want again.

After all, the last time the Republicans were in charge went great, didn't it?  Oh not for you and me, but for record corporate profits.

Follow the money.  This year the waterfall of billions is impossible to hide.


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