Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Last Call

To recap:  Newt Gingrich on "janitors":

“Only the elites despise earning money.”

Barack Obama on "janitors":



Fire Walker Chronicles, Part 8

Democrats in Wisconsin needed about 540,000 signatures in 60 days to trigger a recall election for Republican Gov. Scott Walker.  Today was the deadline, and they posted a seven figure number.

Democrats and organizers filed petitions Tuesday afternoon with more than a million signatures as they sought to force a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker - a massive number that seems to cement a historic recall election against him for later this year.
It would mark the first such gubernatorial recall in state history and would be only the third gubernatorial recall election in U.S. history. Organizers Tuesday also handed in 845,000 signatures against Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch as well as petitions against four GOP state senators including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau.
The sheer number of signatures being filed against Walker - nearly as many as the total votes cast for the governor in November 2010 and almost twice as many as those needed to trigger a recall election - ensure the election will be held, said officials with the state Democratic Party and United Wisconsin, the group that launched the Walker recall.
"It is beyond legal challenge," said Ryan Lawler, vice chairman of United Wisconsin.
On, Wisconsin!  And that's got to make the Kochs nervous, as they spent millions defending Walker only to see the recall effort succeed mightily...possibly because of their involvement.

This fight is just beginning.

Fixing The Doc Fix

I've often said that America could afford a lot of things if we didn't have to spend money cleaning up Dubya's messy wars in the Middle East.  But now that the current President is winding these wars down, Republicans are opposed to using those savings to fix our economy, of course.

Over the last few months there’s been serious talk in Congress of buying out the “doc fix” issue once and for all with war savings from troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan, estimated at over half a trillion dollars.

The idea has been championed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and multiple other key senators including John Kerry (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).

But even though this plan could remove for free the $300-billion-and-growing albatross from the nation’s neck, it faces fierce resistance from House Republicans. In fact, some of the vocal opponents are doctors in the caucus, whom Leadership tends to give the first bite at the apple on health issues.

That’s largely because House Republicans view the necessity of finding doc fix pay-fors as leverage to cut government spending.

“I absolutely would not be in favor of offsetting Overseas Contingency Operations money [for a doc fix] when it was going to end anyway,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), a physician, when I asked him about the idea.

And why?

“That is funny money. That spending was going to go away anyway. That does not reduce the size of government,” Gingrey explained. “So you grow it on the one hand and then you rob Peter to pay Paul but Peter doesn’t have any money. It’s just a Ponzi scheme and the American people are sick of that.”

Got that?  It was vital national security when it was Iraq and Afghanistan.  It's a Ponzi scheme if you use the money to fix Medicare.   Republicans don't want to permanently repair the Medicare "doc fix" reimbursement problem, they want to beat Democrats over the head with it and use it as a hostage card to get more spending cuts and tax cuts for the rich.

Fixing Medicare doesn't actually matter to the GOP.   Losing a potential hostage does, however.  Small wonder that Congress's approval rating in the latest ABC/Washington Post poll is down to 13%, a new 40-year low.

One side wants to fix America.  The other side is willing to destroy as much of it as necessary in order to regain total power.  Go figure.

Doing The Right Thing Even When It Hurts

In sharp contrast to the tragic story from earlier, a woman in Chicago brought her baby to a fire station and said she was unable to care for him.  Under the Safe Haven law, an infant under 30 days old can be brought in.  This child was older, but firefighters kept him and followed procedure, sending him in an ambulance for an evaluation after the mother said goodbye.

The young woman was only 19, and said she couldn't take care of him anymore.  This wasn't a decision she came to easily.  She was shaken and upset, and watched closely at how her child was handled.  When examined, the boy was in perfect health and had been well cared for.

Nobody mentioned the law only covered 30 days or younger, for fear they would scare the young woman away.  They told her where to find him if she changed her mind, and with an amazing amount of compassion and kindness did all they could to help.

Stutz said he couldn't help thinking about his own family, his wife with his children when they were infants. “That must be the last thing she would have been doing, giving up the baby,” he said. “But we don't know the circumstances.”

No, we don't.  But she did the best she could and she did it the right way.  Unlike the little girl I posted about this morning, this little fellow will have a chance.

A Special Place In Hell, A Special Place In Heaven

And once in a while you read something so hideous in the news that it changes your whole day.  This was one of those for me.  I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I don't know when it will finally be filed in a part of my brain that won't cause me pain.

A baby found on a doorstep in freezing weather has died.  Her age was estimated between newborn and a month old.  She was left outside a residence, naked and partically covered by a thin towel.  She was left to freeze to death.  When she was discovered by a man walking, he brought her into his home and called 911.  Her skin color was already reflecting her slow death.  But he tried, and gave his best.  Emmanuel Dugger is a hero.

There are amnesty programs where parents can drop off babies they cannot care for.  This child was left to the elements for anyone to find.  She could have just as easily been food for a hungry animal or a toy for a predator.  I bet whoever left her to die was warm that night.  I bet they had food.  I bet they didn't die from the selfishness or thoughtlessness of another.  I hope the person who abandoned her feels a tenth of the agony they caused.  It wouldn't make it right, but it would be a hell of a start.

That Dog Don't Huntsman

One of Kevin Drum's readers sums up the absurdity of Jon Huntsman, arguably the worst politician in either party's Presidential races in years:

This was a bit of a headscratcher. Same day he gets out, he endorses Romney. He has had some of the most effective anti-Romney ads out there, and because his focus was on NH he was all anti-Romney all the time. The extremely quick pivot to endorsement strikes me as (a) exceptionally crude and cynical resort to standard also-ran politician practices; or (b) a deal was cut (appointment?), which would only amplify (a).
Seriously, if I was going to run in 2016 I would try to avoid leaving something on the record like this that says everything I said up until 15 minutes ago was BS. Striking lack of any effort at authenticity. Unless he has written off 2016 entirely, then who cares. Huntsman just seems really bad at the public image thing.

There's a reason for that, and that's because Huntsman has most of the disadvantages of the Republican party and none of the advantages.  His economic policy choices are insanity, running to the right of Paul Ryan at this point, and his social positions to the left of Rick Santorum assure he'll never be taken seriously in the GOP's brave new frontier of panic politics.

As a Democrat, Huntsman would make Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh look like Al Franken by comparison.  There's just no place for him in politics.

Exeunt, stage right.

The Big GOP Debate Thread: Know Your Role And Shut Your Mouth

What struck me most about last night's GOP debate in South Carolina was not Mitt's awful, terrified scrambling to defend not releasing his tax returns or Rick Perry declaring war on Pakistan and the talk of the state's infamy at Fort Sumter, but on a day where the country celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we had Newt Gingrich and FOX's Juan Williams have this exchange:

"I have to tell you my Twitter account has been inundated by all races, who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities. You saw some of this reaction dug your visit to a black church in South Carolina. We saw some of this during your visit to a church in South Carolina where a woman dad’s asked you why you referred to President Obama as the food stamp president. It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people."

Williams was loudly and angrily booed for even asking this, and Newt got huge cheers for his response:

“Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history. I know among the politically correct you are not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.”

Massive applause, all this after earlier in the night where Gingrich got loud cheers when told Williams that he didn't see how telling inner city kids they need to work as janitors could possibly be considered insensitive or insulting. Because in South Carolina, apparently, you should be lucky if you're African-American and cleaning toilets as a kid.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the real Republican legacy on MLK Day, where 40 plus years after his death, a crowd of white Republicans are madly cheering a privileged white Republican putting a black man asking an honest question in his place. I've got little sympathy for Williams hitching his wagon to FOX and trying to be the voice of reason, but if anyone on Earth is still wondering why black people like me don't vote Republican, here you are.


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