Friday, May 27, 2011

Last Call

Painfully cognizant of just how much of a disaster their Couponcare program is, ol' Mitch McConnell has decided that the only way they're getting out of this mess is to force Democrats to be the ones to burn Medicare down, or the GOP will default the country's debt.

In a Capitol briefing with reporters Friday, McConnell declared affirmatively that unspecified Medicare cuts are on the table in bipartisan debt limit negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden, and, he expects, will be part of the solution. But in response to a question from TPM, he went further than he has in the past in laying down a marker on that issue. Medicare cuts must be part of that deal to get his support — even if negotiators manage to find trillions of dollars in savings elsewhere, even if his other priorities are met.

“To get my vote, for me, it’s going to take short term [cuts, via spending caps]… Both medium and long-term, entitlements.,” McConnell said. “Medicare will be part of the solution.”

Steve Benen sorts it all out.

In fact, now that McConnell has admitted it, Democrats should probably let the public know. The talking point isn’t complicated: Senate Republicans will create a recession unless Democrats agree to Medicare cuts.

Of course, the talking point will ineffective if Dems decide to go along with McConnell’s hostage strategy and pay the ransom.

And there are more than a few Dems who I am sure will agree with McConnell, and will do so publicly.   Nancy Pelosi will fight this.  Will Harry Reid and President Obama do so as well before, say, Ben Nelson or Heath Shuler go on TV and say they're willing to "work with the Republicans on real entitlement reform" (and by that I mean scrapping Medicare like the GOP wants then acting all surprised when the GOP spends all of 2012 running ads that the Democrats are the ones wrecking Medicare)?

In other words, Democrats aren't really stupid enough to fall for this, are they?

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

A federal judge in Virginia has struck down arguably the last piece of campaign finance restriction in the country, saying that corporations have the right to directly contribute to candidates.

U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris’ ruling, which does not immediately apply to Georgia, grants corporations the same rights as individuals to give directly to candidates.

The Supreme Court, in 2010’s Citizens United ruling, had previously said that corporations had a First Amendment right to make so-called independent expenditures to support a particular candidate, but it stopped short of granting them the ability to contribute directly to a candidate’s campaign. That ruling roiled campaign finance precedents and struck down key sections of the McCain-Feingold Act.

In Georgia, corporations are allowed to give directly to candidates for state office, and this year lawmakers approved a measure that lifts a ban on giving by utilities regulated by the Public Service Commission. Those companies, however, are still barred from giving to PSC candidates.

Cacheris’ ruling, which is likely to end up before the Supreme Court, only affects companies in his Alexandria, Va.-based district. But Doug Chalmers, founder of Atlanta-based Political Law Group and expert in campaign finance law, said if the high court upholds Cacheris’ decision, companies across the country would be allowed to contribute to candidates for the U.S. Senate and House.

“It would be a sea change in federal campaign finance law,” Chalmers told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"This judge has now extended the reasoning from Citizens United to say if corporations have the same First Amendment rights as individuals and individuals are allowed to make contributions to candidates within certain limits, then corporations have the same right," Chalmers said.

In other words, as soon as the Supreme Court gets a hold of this, at some point before the 2012 election I fully expect them to say that corporations will be able to give money directly to candidates without PAC groups or industry advocacy non-profits.  Oh, and I'm even more sure that they will be allowed to give anonymously and not have to publicly disclose doing so.

And then the floodgates will open to our lawmakers for sale.  Better get them while they're hot.

To The Shores Of Tripoli, Part 11

Still a third war going on, folks.  Qaddafi's getting "step down or else" statements from the G8 countries now.

The leaders of the G8 powers were to tell Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi on Friday that he has lost all legitimacy and must step down, according to a draft version of their summit statement.

The leaders were still meeting, and it was not immediately clear if they would authorise the strong language in the draft, with Russia in particular keen to promote a negotiated settlement to the Libya civil conflict.

But the language in the latest draft being circulated among the delegations in the French resort of Deauville early Friday was stark.

"We demand the immediate cessation of the use of force against civilians by the Libyan regime forces as well as the cessation of all incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population," it said.

"We stress the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks on civilians. These criminal actions will not go unpunished," welcoming the decision of the International Criminal Court to probe Libyan regime leaders.

"Kadhafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go," it warned.

He must go or...what?   This only works if you have something else in mind, guys.  Somehow I don't think it's going to be a French ban on Libyan oil, which would wreck France's economy overnight.  I don't think it's going to be "more Predator drones!" either.  Air power doesn't win wars by itself.

So what's the "or else" part?  A ground invasion?  Why...that would never happen.  Would it?

Oh, and P.S...Egyptian protestors are back in Cairo's Tarhir Square, Yemen is about to erupt into civil war, and in Syria people continue to be gunned down.

The Arab Spring is about to become the Summer of Blood, folks.

The GOP Big Government In Your Uterus Plan

So, after five months, the Republicans have finally gotten around to a "jobs proposal".

The plan calls for cutting taxes on corporations, individuals and small businesses to no more than 25 percent; allowing companies to repatriate foreign profits without being taxed; approving trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; expanding domestic oil drilling; rewiring the patent process; requiring congressional approval of executive branch regulations that have a significant impact on the economy; and continuing to slash spending.

None of these proposals and none of the handful of others in the plan qualify as new ideas. Some were embedded in the GOP's 'Pledge to America' last year.

Even Politico is pointing out this is pretty much the same "jobs proposal" that the GOP has been pushing for years.  Cut taxes on businesses (making record profits anyway and paying zero in taxes thanks to loopholes) and cut spending!  This will magically create jobs, just like it's been doing for the last several years, right?

Well, since the GOP clearly hasn't been working on jobs, what have they been working on at the national and state level?  Why, the big government intrusion into millions of uteri, of course.

As Rachel Maddow points out, John Boehner and Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell have said that jobs jobs jobs jobs jobs are the number one issue.  They have yet to write a single jobs bill, but they sure do have time to write four national bills and literally hundreds of bills at the state level (some of which have been passed into law) dealing with the government being able to tell women exactly what they should do with their wombs.

A number of states have now drafted bills to criminalize abortions completely and put doctors who perform them in prison for anywhere from six months all the way to 30 years.  In states with heavily GOP legislatures, these abortion ban bills are expected to pass and be signed into law and will face legal challenges.

Time and time again the GOP in these states and at the national level have proven that their number one priority isn't jobs, but overturning Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court.  That is what they have been working on since January.  They could give a rat's ass about jobs, the economy, the environment, the war on terror, the housing depression, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or yes, even the deficit (which they plan to make worse with more trillion dollar tax cuts for the wealthy and for businesses.) But abortion?  They have literally stopped everything to go after that.

As Rachel says above, anyone who tells you that a pro-choice Republican has any place in the party in 2011 has no idea what they are talking about.

Hacking Sour Grapes Into Mooseberry Whine Part II

After two years of stalled requests, Sarah Palin's emails from her time in office will be turned over:

The state of Alaska wants more time to release potentially thousands of emails that Sarah Palin sent and received while she was governor.
In January, Attorney General John Burns granted an extension until May 31 with the "unequivocal expectation" that all records that aren't privileged would be released by then.
I find it ironic that David Kernell is still in a halfway house unless I have missed his release.  If they can't scrub all the stupidity and embarrassing exposure in two whole years, we have a real treat coming.

Westboro's Epic Fail Chapter 2

It appears the Westboro plan to be in Joplin, MO on Sunday to protest.  Obama plans to visit, and the attention-starved church will take full advantage.  Via my local paper:

The Westboro Baptist Church — known for its protests at the funerals of soldiers and people with HIV/AIDS — plans to picket in Joplin on Sunday, where at least 125 people have died in a tornado.
On its website, the church says “Thank God for 125 dead,” an echo of its common refrain crediting God with having people killed in retribution for the United States’ tolerance of homosexuality.
People here are raw in the face of so much loss.  One of these days Westboro will pull the wrong chain and get a much deserved butt kicking.  When it happens, they can hardly pretend to be surprised.  Whatever day that is, I will mark it as a personal holiday and celebrate it every day for the rest of my life, and I'm not kidding.   

Man(n)s At Work

Former Reagan and Bush 41 staffer Ed Rogers (now a lobbyist, natch) figures since the ticket of Serious Older Guy With Gravitas and Crazy Nutjub Woman worked so well for the Republicans in 2008, that 2012 should be all about that only better.

Huntsman and Bachmann should have a meeting of the minds and offer themselves as a Huntsman-led ticket before the Iowa caucuses next year.

Think about it. Unless there is a new dynamic to the 2012 campaign, Huntsman probably can’t win the nomination and Bachmann probably shouldn’t.

But beating Obama will require a fresh approach. He will not be weakened by a primary challenge, and as yet there does not appear to be a left-wing third-party candidate who could erode his support in the general election.

Republicans need to do something radical. If we go through the drudgery of the primaries with a weak field, produce a weak nominee, and face an impoverished spring and early summer of 2012, followed by a tiresome, cliched August convention, we will give Obama a huge advantage.

You know what's going to give Obama a huge advantage?  The GOP 2012 primary season assures that nobody to the left of Bachmann is going to be the nominee, and will most likely lose by 10 points.

I understand Rogers is putting forth a compromise ticket now in order to try to spare the GOP the Clown Car Nationals for the next 12 months, but if your best idea is "everyone's going to hate this ticket!" then Obama has nothing to worry about.
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