News Roundup for 2/23/10

Human spine
Look what Harry Reid found!

-Headline of the day-
"Harry Reid Says GOP Should 'Stop Crying' About Reconciliation."

Looks like someone's sat down with majority leader Harry Reid and explained to him what it means to have a huge majority in the senate, as well as a spine. While Republicans bitch and moan that Democrats are thinking about using budget reconciliation to pass a healthcare reform bill, Harry decided that it was time to set them straight.

"They should stop crying about reconciliation as if it's never been done before..." Reid said. "The question is: Is reconciliation the only way we can do health-care reform? The answer to that is no. But I've been told that my Republican friends are lamenting reconciliation, but I would recommend for them to go back and look at history."

"It's done almost every Congress, and they're the ones that used it more than anyone else," he said. So wah, wah, wah Republicans.

So who sat down with Reid and set him straight? I don't know.
But it clearly wasn't anyone at the White House. (CBS)

-Teabaggers get sandbagged-
Sen. Scott Brown is Thomas Jefferson reborn, Ronald Reagan reincarnated, and the Second Coming all wrapped up in one. After winning Ted Kennedy's old seat, Brown was the hero of the right and proof positive that teabaggers were about to take over the world and drive all the commies out of wherever it is commies hang out.

That all turned out to be a bunch of bullshit last night when Brown voted with Democrats to break a filibuster of the jobs bill. It was at this point that teabaggers on twitter and facebook went mental. "Recall Scott RINO Brown-just 'nother hack from Taxachusetts. Vote Tea Party!" twittlepates one bagger.

"Our massive support for #scottbrown will be non-existent in his re-election bid in 2012!" tweeterates another. They like their exclamation points.

His Facebook entry explaining the vote is getting bombarded with comments like "I think you're just trying to be popular in Washington. I will remove you as a Fan. Way to sell out the movement!" and "You sure made the left wing loons happy today. Anybody who thinks this will provide jobs has a BB for a brain."

Spoken like a man who knows what having a BB for a brain can do for you. I might feel sorry for these people if I really tried, but I don't feel much like trying. (CBS)

-Bonus HotD-
"The Right-Wing Backlash Against Glenn Beck: Stop Being A ‘Clown’ Who’s Trying To Divide Conservatives."

Yup. Hard to feel sorry for them... (Think Progress, with video)

Slam Dunk Argument for Dealing with Global Warming

Strap in, because we're going to do some thinking here. Cruising through my RSS feeds last night, I came across this video posted in Peter Rothberg's blog at The Nation. "It's the best argument I've seen yet for taking immediate action on climate change," Rothberg writes. "The logic would seem undeniable even for the denialists."

Titled, "The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See," it's less terror and more logic. It's also nearly ten minutes long so, for those who are short on time, I'll give you the abridged version.

Basically, it's a cost-benefit analysis of doing nothing about global warming vs. doing what scientists say we need to do. In order to get around the argument that climate change isn't caused by humans (or isn't even happening at all), the person who made the video -- Oregon high school science teacher Greg Craven -- basically gives equal weight to both arguments. In other words and for the sake of argument, the argument assumes that denialists and climate scientists have an equal chance of being right. It's a coin-flip.

So, if the deniers are right and we deal with a non-existent problem, we have a global depression -- that's taking their worst case scenario and assuming it's valid (we'll deal with the problems with this argument later). If the deniers are right and we don't do anything, then nothing happens and everyone's happy.

On the other hand, if the deniers are wrong and we deal with global warming, we've still spent that money, but it turned out to be necessary. If we don't deal with warming and the deniers are wrong, then the worst case scenario is the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; famine, disease, death, and war -- in addition to economic collapse comparable to the deniers' worst case scenario for dealing with what they believe is a nonexistent problem.

So, all things being equal, the only logical choice is to deal with climate change. The consequences of the deniers being wrong are much, much worse than those of the scientists being wrong.

And the deniers' worst case scenario is pure BS. All we're talking about doing is moving from one technology -- burning stuff -- to another technology. We've done this hundreds -- if not thousands -- of times in human history and it's never resulted in economic collapse. Was the automobile bad for the buggywhip industry? Yeah, it was. But so what? All the jobs lost in that industry were offset by new jobs in another industry. We're talking about creating new technologies, new industries, new markets, and new jobs. How could this possibly be bad for the economy?

Some may recognize Craven's argument as a variation on Pascal's Wager, where philosopher Blaise Pascal argued that the safer bet was to be a Christian. If God exists, then you gain eternal life. If God doesn't exist, then you still spent your life as a good person. The philosopher argued that it was a bet you couldn't lose. But Pascal ignored variables that didn't fit his argument; the existence of other religions for example. The argument for being a Christian could just as easily be applied to being a Hindu or Muslim -- the possibilities weren't the 50/50 that Pascal presented. And, of course, life is finite, so the argument that you're out nothing if you're wrong about being Christian is flawed -- you're out a big chunk of that finite time wasted in church, for one. In contrast, Craven's argument encompasses all possibilities and rules out nothing, so it's there that the comparison to Pascal dies.

But Craven's argument does have one flaw; it assumes deniers are rational and will be swayed by logic. Experience tells me this isn't the case. If you want an example of how little facts and reason mean to many on the right, check out the latest piece by syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts.

I got an email the other day that depressed me.

It concerned a piece I recently did that mentioned Henry Johnson, who was awarded the French Croix de Guerre in World War I for singlehandedly fighting off a company of Germans (some accounts say there were 14, some say almost 30, the ones I find most authoritative say there were about two dozen) who threatened to overrun his post. Johnson managed this despite the fact that he was only 5'4'' and 130 pounds, despite the fact that his gun had jammed, despite the fact that he was wounded 21 times.

My mention of Johnson's heroics drew a rebuke from a fellow named Ken Thompson, which I quote verbatim and in its entirety:

"Hate to tell you that blacks were not allowed into combat intell 1947, that fact. World War II ended in 1945. So all that feel good, one black man killing two dozen Nazi, is just that, PC bull."

So, of course, Pitts wrote back. He included verifiable facts and proved that Thompson was wrong. Thompson didn't care. He made up reasons to dismiss the evidence and insisted that Pitts was a fool for believing the facts.

"To listen to talk radio, to watch TV pundits, to read a newspaper's online message board, is to realize that increasingly, we are a people estranged from critical thinking, divorced from logic, alienated from even objective truth," Pitts writes. "We admit no ideas that do not confirm us, hear no voices that do not echo us, sift out all information that does not validate what we wish to believe."

So Greg Craven's argument, though entirely logical and well thought out, won't make a dent in the deniers' minds. We live in a world where, despite literally having all the proof in the world that they're wrong, people insist on believing that Barack Obama isn't a US citizen. Where people believe that The Flintstones is a better representation of early humans than anything in the theory of evolution. Where people still believe there were WMD in Iraq, despite overwhelming evidence that there were not.

If truth is meaningless and facts are irrelevant, then logic doesn't stand a chance in hell.


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News Roundup for 2/22/10

Probably not the best way to deal with foreclosure

-Headline of the day-
"Man bulldozes own home ahead of foreclosure to send message to banks."

Hardcore. WLWT in Ohio has the skinny:

Of course, Hoskins is actually just making everything worse. Good luck getting another loan sometime in your life after screwing your creditor so completely and publicly. Still, his action seems to be pretty popular. A poll at the station's website asks, "What do you think about what Terry Hoskins did?" The results when I checked:

Good for him -- 78%
Not a good idea -- 9%
He should be prosecuted -- 13%

However, I wouldn't do this if I were you. Just sayin'. (Raw Story, Youtube)

-Who you calling tardy?-
Sarah Palin takes on public education.

Teacher fired for marking late student 'tardy'; livid Sarah Palin calls for nation to find nicer-sounding word for late
Click for full comic

Remember when conservatives were against political correctness? (Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"Letters Reveal Top GOP Lawmakers Demanded Stimulus Money As 'Vital' Job Creating Engines."

You know what this means, don't you? Commies have infiltrated the very upper levels of the Republican Party!

Oh, and that Republicans are huge hypocrites. That too. (Think Progress)

Good Enough for War

Marines in Afghanistan
In 2002, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network issued a report finding that discharges under the military's policy of "don't ask, don't tell" were "the fewest discharges since 1996." The numbers were down 1,273 since the year before. Progress? Hardly.

The Iraq war was raging and the armed forces needed every person they could get. "When they need lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans most, military leaders keep us close at hand," said SLDN Executive Director C. Dixon Osburn. "The time has come to do away with the Pentagon’s charade and make sure no one loses his or her career at the hands of anti-gay discrimination." So gays, lesbians, and transsexuals are good enough for war -- just not fit to serve in peacetime. Or even relative peacetime.

The plain idiocy of DADT aside, the policy is theoretically one of enforced ignorance. "Don't ask, don't tell" could just as easily be expressed as "don't know, don't wanna know." And this gives DADT supporters a rhetorical advantage; they can claim that ending the policy would be allowing gays and lesbians into the military, when the truth is the the policy is designed to allow them into the military. And the advantage comes in the fact that no one in the military is in a position to contradict them. Gays can't come out and say that they're serving without risking their careers and supportive comrades can't come forward in their defense for the same reason. As a result, bigots can pretend there are no gays in the military -- or, at least, very few -- and cast repealing DADT as a drastic change.

Case in point; rightwing crazy Oliver North. Speaking to the equally insane Sean Hannity, North argued that allowing gays into the military would pretty much destroy the universe.

"[It's a] stunning assault on the all-volunteer military, the very best in the world," North fumed. "Barack Obama now intends to treat them like lab rats in a radical social experiment, and it can be very, very detrimental... In other words, this isn’t about rights. This isn’t about fairness. It’s all about national security. And apparently, Mr. Obama has forgotten it... Now, here’s what’s next. NAMBLA [North American Man/Boy Love Association] members, same-sex marriages. Are chaplains in the U.S. military going to be required to perform those kinds of rituals? Do they get government housing?"

OK, so that's a big pile of stupid, but that's what you get from Hannity's show. No one tunes in for reasoned discussion, they tune in for fearmongering and demagoguery. But you see what he did there? There are no gays in the serving now. Obama wants to try a "radical social experiment" that'll surely kill us all.

Less rabid and incoherent was Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty this weekend on Meet the Press. He followed Gen. David Patreus, who explained that he supported the efforts to repeal the policy.

"I support 'don't ask, don't tell,'" Pawlenty said. "And, you know anecdotally -- I saw the general's comments in response to that. Anecdotally, I know there's still a great number, a great portion of the military community that is concerned about that. They believe 'don't ask, don't tell' worked. If it's not broke, don't fix it -- or if it's not, it's not in need of fixing, you don't need to repair it. So I'd leave it alone."

But isn't it broken? If the military ignores the presence of gays and lesbians during wartime, doesn't that prove that the ban serves no constructive purpose? Worse, it risks losing personnel at the exact moment they're most needed.

Since the institution of DADT, 60-some Arabic language translators have been dismissed from the armed services. Isn't that risking national security? And aren't arguments that repealing DADT would be harmful entirely theoretical?

They cite no studies, bring no facts to the table; all they bring is wild speculation, baseless fearmongering, and hatred. That's not the best argument.

Meanwhile, opponents of the policy are able to cite polling that shows that an overwhelming majority -- in the latest poll I could find, a 2-1 majority -- supports repealing DADT. Even rightwing loon Dick Cheney supports ending the ban.

And a new study finds that there would be no risk at all in ending the policy. The study, by the Palm Center, a research group at the University of California, Santa Barbara, looked at other nations that have changed the military policy toward gays and found no effect on morale and recruitment, as well as no evidence of "increased harassment."

So one argument exists in a fact-free atmosphere of baseless speculation and attempts at reading the minds of servicemembers, while the other is backed up by facts collected from all over the world, the existence of gays and lesbians in the military now, and the opinions of an overwhelming majority of Americans.

Doesn't seem like much of a contest to me.


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News Roundup for 2/19/10

Scene of Austin plane attack
The result of whacky hijinks

-Headline of the day-
"Babbin Jokes About Norquist: I'm Glad He Didn't Fly That Plane Into An IRS Building."

Hahaha! At the Crazy People's Action Conference, Human Events editor Jed Babbin introduced fellow wingnut Grover Norquist with a really funny joke:

"And let me just say, I'm really happy to see Grover today," Babbin said. "He was getting a little testy in the past couple of weeks. And I was just really, really glad that it was not him identified as flying that airplane into the IRS building."

What, you don't get it? Norquist is an anti-IRS nut and the Austin kamikaze was an anti-IRS nut, so it could've been Grover who'd crashed a plane into that IRS building... See? Isn't that hilarious? Ok, wait.. Wait... It gets better.

Three people died! But that's OK, they worked for the IRS! Waka-waka!


What, nothing? Tough audience...

What if Babbin beat a disabled kid with a bat? (Talking Points Memo)

-Hey look, racism! What a surprise!-
Among the wingnuts at the Crazy People's Action Conference is celebrity lunatic Stephen Baldwin, fresh off his stint on I'm a Celebrity! Get ME Out of Here!

For some reason, ABC's Jonathan Karl thought someone out there might give a crap what Baldwin thinks, so he took him aside for a comment. "I am not happy about the way things are," he said. "I pray for President Obama every single day. But tell you what. Homey made his bed, now he's gotta lay in it."

Oh snap! (Raw Story, with video)

-Bonus HotD-
"Profit-Seeking Palin Reportedly Rips CPAC As A Profiteering Convention."

Hey Sarah, you're supposed to call in a bank robbery to distract the cops while you're robbing another bank, not a few weeks afterward.

Doesn't work so well this way. (Think Progress)

Democrats' Nonexistent Security Message

Finger to lipsI wrote Monday that Democrats suck at messaging. My evidence was a poll showing that 88% of respondents believed that President Obama had raised their taxes, when in truth taxes had been cut for 95% of Americans. My conclusion; Democrats never talk about those tax cuts.

How could so many people be so wrong? Because no one ever tells them otherwise. In a similar situation in the Bush White House, the answer to almost every question would've begun, "As you know, we cut taxes for 95% of Americans..." It wouldn't make any difference what the question was. The administration that began every other sentence with "On 9/11..." would never have allowed 88% of Americans to believe they didn't get a tax cut.

I'm not sure what it is about Democrats -- it's like they refuse to educate. Maybe they think it's beneath them or something. So Republicans go out and fill the void by telling outrageous lies, leaving Democrats wasting their time on crap like "death panels" and arguments over whether or not Obama's a citizen. By failing -- or refusing -- to get out in front and trumpet their achievements, Democrats wind up cleaning up the trivial crap Republicans drop all over our national dialogue and no one is the better for it.

The reason I bring all of this back up again is that Greg Sargent has found yet another area where Democrats suck at explaining how good they are -- terrorism.

...Republicans are framing the debate on these issues, and more and more Congressional Dems are breaking with the White House on them. In other words, the Dems are following the GOP script.

Worse, this is happening even as the White House is, in fact, mounting a major effort to engage the GOP on these issues. Obama counter-terror chief John Brennan and Joe Biden have aggressively engaged Dick Cheney and other Republicans in recent days, arguing that Obama’s counter-terror policies are succeeding and are superior to GOP policies.

But on this message, the White House has no meaningful support from Congressional Dems to speak of, and it’s waging this fight virtually alone.

What's especially aggravating is that Republicans are awful on security. 9/11 happened on Bush's watch and Iraq, torture, Gitmo, and warrantless wiretapping have done absolutely nothing to make us any safer. But somehow, the face of this record of failure -- Dick Cheney -- has become a thorn in the White House's side. Democrats, cowed by Republicans empty "tough talk," have given up on a fight the Obama administration is actually winning.

At the risk of being accused of cutting and pasting a lot of this post, here's Spencer Ackerman on the Obama administration's record on national security and terrorism:

So over the past several weeks the Obama administration has successfully interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab without torturing him — something Dick Cheney simply can’t contemplate — and will try him in a federal court, where he’s sure to be convicted. Then it continued to launch missile strikes in Yemen (not that that’s such a good thing!) on Abdulmutallab’s overlords in al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that caused a former Bushie to whine that there was too much terrorist-killing and not enough terrorist-capturing. So then the administration worked with Pakistan to capture the deputy commander of the Taliban and that was just for starters. Obama’s approval rating on national security has increased since Abdulmutallab.

Yet congressional Democrats are running scared from any discussion of national security. It's maddening. All Republicans have are empty-headed talking points and failed policies. They're as wrong on terrorism as they have been on the economy. In fact, Barack Obama won big after taking on those very hollow talking points and policies -- yet Democrats are acting as if the Republicans won in 2008.



[Insert especially foul curse word here]

No wonder Democrats are in trouble in this cycle -- they refuse to defend themselves. They're so afraid of losing that they won't fight any fight at all -- even when it's a gimme. Which, in turn makes every fight a gimme... For the GOP, anyway.

"The Republican leadership even sent House GOPers back to their districts this week with a very specific set of talking points, sent over by a source, telling them precisely what to say to constituents about [national security and terrorism]," Sargent writes. "There’s no sign whatsoever that Congressional Dems were given anything similar, or even that Dem leaders have spent any time developing a strategy of their own. Are you hearing any concerted pushback, or any message at all, on these issues from Dems?"

No, I haven't. Democrats have conceded ground there was absolutely no reason to concede. Just as they've conceded taxes, healthcare, and are in the process of conceding the economy. If Democrats even come close to losing either chamber in November, it's because they didn't care enough about their ideas to fight for them.

Which kind of makes you wonder why the hell they thought they should run for office in the first place.


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News Roundup for 2/18/10

Rubio using teleprompter
Maybe Marco Rubio doesn't know what a teleprompter is

-Headline of the day-
"CPAC Speakers Bash Obama’s Use Of A Teleprompter — While Standing In Front Of A Teleprompter."

Of course they did. No one masters the art of cognitive dissonance as well as arch-conservatives. And there are no conservatives archer than those who appear at the Crazy People's Action Conference. Always an entertaining mix of lunacy, idiocy, and people just plain being wrong, CPAC never disappoints liberal bloggers. Want something completely insane to write about? Hey, CPAC's going! Yay!

So speaker after speaker stepped up to the podium and, facing a teleprompter, made fun of Barack Obama for using a teleprompter. I never understood why a president using a teleprompter was supposed to be a problem in the first place. I guess it's because the previous president was functionally illiterate -- maybe they think Obama's just showing off.

Even conservatives are starting to understand that this might just look a little weird and is actually funnier than any teleprompter jokes some wingnut might make up. "I’ve heard at least three teleprompter jokes already. In front of a teleprompter. Godspeed to the man who uses the teleprompter..." tweetled National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez. "My patience may be exhausted for teleprompter jokes. Especially because some [have] got to be using it."

I disagree. Idiots using teleprompters to make fun of people who use teleprompters never gets old for me. It's that clueless hypocrisy that Republicans do so well. (Think Progress)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, there's gonna be a big partisan beatdown next Thursday in the form of "bipartisan healthcare summit!"

Bipartisan Brawlathon
Click for animation

Watch it like your life depends on it! (Because it does.) (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"CPAC speaker: Obama’s 'notion of freedom' is 'snorting cocaine.'"

Just to get it on the record, Young America's Foundation spokesman Jason Mattera is a horse's ass. Based on about as much evidence as he has on Obama's coke snorting, I can say without any doubt that Jason's on crack.

Which begs the question; if Republicans are such champions of moral values, why are they all on crack?

Food for thought. (Raw Story)

Economy and Jobs: Bush v. Obama

The stimulus has failed. Failed, failed, failed, failed, failed. Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele pointed that out yesterday. It's a failure frosted with fail.

"Today marks the one-year anniversary of this failed stimulus package, something the president still claims as one of his signature achievements and which he proclaimed would 'create or save' 3.5 million jobs and keep unemployment below 8 percent," Mike wrote. "Since those early heady days of the Obama administration the American people have seen behind the curtain of rhetoric and watched as millions of jobs were lost and unemployment rose into the double digits."

But don't worry, Republicans have a plan that'll create a bazillion new jobs:

Mike SteeleTime and time again, Republicans have offered proven alternative solutions for job creation and economic growth centered on lower taxes and less regulation, but these ideas have been ignored by President Obama and Congressional Democrats. The president can scold the Republican Party for principled opposition and label us the Party of "no" all he wants but it doesn’t change the simple fact that Democrats completely control Washington and have used their power to go on a binge spending spree instead of providing real economic growth for the American people.

Yeah, about those "proven alternative solutions for job creation and economic growth centered on lower taxes and less regulation"; less regulation has proven to be a great way to create the sort of economic mess we're in. Republicans failed to learn that lesson after Enron and they're failing to learn it now. I think we can throw that in the stupid idea bin. And tax cuts? Wasn't that Bush's approach to everything? Let's look at how good an idea that "proven alternative solution" was proven to be.

Shortly after George W. Bush left office, the Wall Street Journal to a look at his record on jobs over his eight years in office. The verdict?

The Bush administration created about three million jobs (net) over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton’s administration and only slightly better than President George H.W. Bush did in his four years in office.


Because the size of the economy and labor force varies, we also calculate in percentage terms how much the total payroll count expanded under each president. The current President Bush, once taking account how long he’s been in office, shows the worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records.

As "proven alternative solutions" go, relying on tax cuts and deregulation alone has been proven to suck. You'd think that Republicans would be too ashamed of the failures of their economic policies to even bring them up, let alone try to brag about how well they've worked. But, as I always say, Republicans are shameless.

So, how do Obama's economic policies compare to Bush's in terms of success? If Bush took eight years to create 3 million jobs, then Obama's kicking his butt. After one year, Barack Obama has seen an increase in employment by more than half that many jobs. That's according to IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s Economy.com. Writes David Leonhardt for the New York Times, "They all estimate that the bill has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs so far and that its ultimate impact will be roughly 2.5 million jobs. The Congressional Budget Office, an independent agency, considers these estimates to be conservative."

If this is a failure, then eight years of Bush was an absolute disaster. Not that I have any trouble saying Bush was a disaster, it's just that I'm surprised to see Steele all but agreeing with me. In any case, the Republican narrative of a "failed stimulus" has no basis in reality.

"You have to sympathize with the Obama administration," writes Ezra Klein. "It has done more to save and create jobs than any White House in recent memory. It stabilized a financial system that was teetering on the edge of collapse, and that would have sent unemployment skyrocketing if it had fallen. The administration passed an $800 billion stimulus bill that has already created more than 1.6 million jobs and is likely to create 2.5 million by the time it ends. And still it's hammered, on the one hand, for not doing enough to create jobs, and on the other hand, for high deficits, which are a direct product of how much the administration's doing to create jobs."

Meanwhile, Michael Steele, speaking for his party, argues you can have your cake and eat it too -- cut taxes, create jobs, and reduce the deficit. No wonder he's not happy; the president has failed to drag him into an alternate reality where you can deal with a historic recession, prosecute two wars, and still take a bite out of the deficit.

The Republican expectations are a sort of economic porno-fantasy; extremely attractive and fun to dream about, while having absolutely no connection with (or even resemblance to) reality at all.


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News Roundup for 2/17/10

Ted Nugent
Contrary to the beliefs of most conservatives, not a founding father

-Headline of the day-
"Puzzling new conservative manifesto."

Everyone knows that modern conservatives are the most patriotic people to ever walk the earth. That is, when they aren't claiming to be the most Christian people to ever walk the earth. They aren't just like the founders, they are the founders -- or, at least, their political heirs. Because overthrowing a monarchy and building the world's first representative democracy is such a conservative thing to do. Hell, if cloning wasn't devilry, they'd claim to be actual clones made from the genetic material found in various founders' stockings.

In celebration with their close association with and deep understanding of the founding fathers, conservatives including anti-tax organizer Grover Norquist, National Review editor Kathryn Jean Lopez and former Attorney General Ed Meese will release the "Mt. Vernon Statement" today, which is billed as a sort of manifesto... That is, as long as you define "manifesto" as a document in which no specific ideas are made manifest.

In it, they call for a return to constitutional principles, without actually pinning down what those principles are. It's a good trick, but any determined wingnut will find a way.

You know what would be crazy? Actually reading the constitution and checking off the parts you believe in. I think conservatives would be surprised at how there is in there that they hate. No wiretapping without warrants, no doing away with the writ of habeas corpus, no torture, no war without a declaration of war by the congress, the extension of rights to foreign citizens, a ban on indefinite detention, a separation of church and state, the right to file lawsuits, the ability of the government to regulate interstate commerce, etc.

No way in hell would any of these guys have written this document. I know it's fun to play dress up and pretend you're the founders, but you're not. And it's just sad when you start thinking you are. (Salon's War Room)

-Not exactly a cross-section-
The tea party movement is a grassroots collection of pissed off citizens of every race, color, creed, class, gender...

Pffft! I can't do this with a straight face. They're white and rich and male and -- if you can believe it -- college educated.

So says a new CNN poll [PDF] released today. And most -- 52% -- like to pretend they're Independents. I guess it's just a coincidence that these "independents" never voted for a liberal in their lives. 97% of Americans haven't given money to teabagger groups, 95% haven't attended a teabagger rally, and 92% have taken no action of any kind to support the movement.

It's a groundswell of citizen activism!

Pfft! (Talking Points Memo)

-Bonus HotD-
"Bayh: 'I Think The Filibuster Absolutely Needs To Be Changed.'"

Way to stick around and make sure that gets done, Evan. (Think Progress)

The Future of Evan Bayh

Evan Bayh is running for president.

Bayh reelection button with 2010 scratched outFor about five minutes early this week, that story got a little traction. And then it fell apart on examination. It all began when Larry Sabato, a respected political scientist at the University of Virginia decided to twitter, "When Bayh said, 'I'm an executive at heart,' might have been hinting at POTUS run in '16, not just an IN GOV bid in '12." So maybe, in the far-flung future, Evan Bayh might consider running for president. Then again, maybe not. The bigger question would be, at this point in time, who even cares?

That story got picked up by Ryan Grim at Huffington Post, who grabbed the wheel of the baseless-speculation-mobile and floored it. "Let's stir [the rumor pot] even harder," Grim wrote. "Could Bayh, who backed Hillary Clinton for president in 2008, jump into a primary against Obama in 2012 from a conservative direction? His resignation speech touched all the Clintonian bases, from welfare reform, to budget cutting to a strong national defense with a reference to 9/11 thrown in." A centrist Democrat managed to sound like another centrist Democrat -- what are the odds? As evidence for a presidential run goes, it was pretty weak.

As I said, this lasted about five minutes, political time. By Monday morning, the rumor was dead. On MSNBC's morning yack program, Evan Bayh himself shoveled dirt into the grave. Asked on Morning Joe if he had any plans to run for president, Bayh answered, "None, whatsoever."

So that was fun while it lasted...

Of course, it was obvious that Bayh wouldn't run in '12, because -- as Matthew Yglesias points out -- "talk of Evan Bayh somehow challenging Barack Obama for the 2012 Democratic nomination is bizarre. No incumbent president has ever been defeated in a primary." This means that it's a purely activist endeavor. You do it to try to pull the incumbent to the left (assuming said incumbent is Democrat Barack Obama). There's no reason to run to the right of the incumbent in the primary, since he's certain to run against a conservative in the general. Evan Bayh, a conservative-leaning Democrat, would have absolutely no reason to want to do that -- especially considering that his reason for quitting was that things are too contentious and partisan in Washington. Why on Earth would he want to run a doomed, ideologically-driven leftist campaign in '12?

And, despite his complaining about DC partisanship, his timing in retiring -- whatever his reasons -- was deeply partisan.

[The Hill:]

Republicans are livid about the timing of Sen. Evan Bayh’s (D-Ind.) retirement announcement.

They have at least four candidates in the upcoming primary while the Indiana Democratic Party will get to decide its nominee.

Indiana required nominating petitions to be filed by noon Tuesday. Bayh announced Monday he would not seek reelection, giving would-be candidates less than 24 hours to get on the ballot.

Republicans have four candidates who made the deadline and a fifth whose signatures are being validated. Democrats had no serious successor in position, given that Bayh had already his filed his nominating petitions and had $13 million in bank.

No Democrat was able to meet Indiana's filing requirements. Those requirements are completely insane -- seriously, this is awful for a citizen-based democratic process. In order to get on the primary ballot, you have to collect 500 signatures from each congressional district -- 4,500 in all. So the Indiana Democratic Party gets to choose the candidate they think has the best chance of winning. No primary battles to be won or lost and no money to be wasted in those battles. This is a tremendous advantage.

But, as good as that is for Democrats, I'm not extremely happy with it. The primary system was designed to do away with this exact thing -- party flacks chosen in the infamous "smoke-filled room" by other party flacks. It's a formula for corruption. As much as I enjoy hearing Republicans squeal, I have to concede their point. If the situations were reversed, I'm certain I'd complain about it too.

What Bayh will do with his $13 million is an open question. He can hold onto it and use it for a run for a different office, but that seems unlikely. Speculation aside, he's said he has his eyes on the private sector. I'm inclined to take him at his word. A Bayh spokesperson says he hasn't decided what he'll do with the warchest, "But you can expect him to be helpful to the nominee." A chunk -- if not all -- of $13 million to spend in the general election, with no primary opponents to worry about. Pretty sweet.

No wonder people think Evan Bayh might become a lobbyist. That makes way more sense than a presidential candidate.

Because, if everything works out in the end, he'd have at least one senator already bought and paid for.


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News Roundup for 2/16/10

'Impeach Obama' billboard
Not that anyone's saying that Obama should be impeached

-Headline of the day-
"'Impeach Obama' billboard 'not meant to allege any impeachable offense.'"

As a Wisconsinite, I think I might've mentioned once or twice that there are a lot of lunatics up around the Fox River Valley. Not that everyone up around Green Bay is a nut, they just have more than their fair share. One such squirrelly cheesehead is Tom Wroblewski, an attorney for a bunch of other squirrelly cheeseheads.

Wroblewski, who according the the report is the representative of an "unnamed company," explains an "IMPEACH OBAMA!" billboard on highway 41 that same company put up isn't meant to suggest that anyone ought to impeach Obama.

"The company (that paid for the billboard) is supported by a number of area businessmen who are concerned about tax and spend politics," Tom told a local newspaper. "The billboard is not meant to allege any impeachable offense has been committed; It is simply an expression of frustration by my client that politics in Washington should change to better support small businesses."

You know, if that's actually the case, wouldn't different wording be a little better? You know, "GET MAD AT OBAMA!" or "EXPRESS THE FRUSTRATION OF MY CLIENTS THAT POLITICS IN WASHINGTON SHOULD CHANGE TO BETTER SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES!" or "OBAMA SUCKS!"

Just a thought. (Think Progress)

-News you couldn't possibly use-
FOX News has their finger on the pulse of the nation. They know the big, burning questions that keep us up late a night. They know what the folks are really worried about. And now -- finally -- we'll learn the answer to the question that's been haunting us all.

How many times does Barack Obama use the word "I" in speeches?

FOX explains, "Much attention has been given to President Obama's persistent use of 'I' when giving speeches to sell his administration's agenda. Is he taking responsibility -- or, as his critics say, is he still in campaign mode? FoxNews.com is tracking the president's speeches all this month and will report back after each to see whether The 'I's' Have It."

No, really.

Anyway, I guess that saying "I" when you're talking about stuff you want to do is the worst thing ever. Which is bad news for Republicans. Blogger Mark Liber did some figuring (which we'll skip) and found that the president uses "I" and variations there-of at a rate of 1.29 per hundred words.

In her "Let's all hate Obama!" speech to teabaggers recently, Sarah Palin hit a "ate of 1.69 per hundred, or about 31% more I-fulness than Obama."

John Boehner's recent speeches scored him a "a rate of 1.996 per 100, which is about 55% more ego-referential than Obama's DNC speech."

But Obama's the one with the big head, always "me, me, me," so that's what FOX News will track.

Because someone, somewhere gives a fuck. (Huffington Post)

-Bonus HotD-
"Beck's plan for captured Taliban leader: 'Shoot him in the head.'"

I wish Glenn would make up that snakepit he calls a mind. Aren't we supposed to torture these guys? Now he wants to shoot them before we even interrogate them. Actually, one of the friends on Fox & Friends -- a show that's such unbelievable bullshit that you wish there was a stronger word for bullshit -- brought that up. So Beck fixed his answer right pronto.

"If I were in charge, we'd be interrogating him," Beck replied. "And we'd interrogate him, and interrogate him, and interrogate him and then we'd shoot him in the head... Shoot him in the head before we all of a sudden release him into, what? Primary schools in New York City? What are we going to do with this guy?"

Yeah, they're going to release in into the New York City Public School system. Holy crap, is this guy ever a freakin' loon... (Raw Story)

Someone Want to Tell Limbaugh There's a War On?

A lot of people think that Rush Limbaugh is knowledgeable and intelligent. Those people couldn't be more wrong. Yes, he commands a big audience by talk radio standards, but it isn't all that hard to convince a pack of idiots that you know what you're talking about. On issue after issue, Limbaugh not only demonstrates no understanding of politics and the law, but that even the most very basic facts are beyond him. There have been a few real boners over the years, but none as bad as Monday's gaffe.

[Raw Story:]

LimbaughDuring is Feb. 15 broadcast, the man commonly credited as the strongest voice in the Republican party spun his reality-bending spiel after suggesting that big-box retail chain Walmart lobbies Washington lawmakers to keep Obama from "nationalizing" them -- a statement that, if not a joke, can only be characterized as transparently false.

"The last time this happened was World War II," Limbaugh said. "But that was because there was a war on and it made sense. But there's no war on right now, other than the Taliban wing of the Republican party and its war against Obama and the Democrats."

Even as he declared "there's no war on right now," American and NATO troops waged a house-to-house campaign in the Afghan city of Marjah. In the month of January alone, 32 U.S. soldiers died from wounds inflicted by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, amid a dramatic spike in violence. A total of 317 U.S. soldiers died prosecuting the war in 2009; at time of this writing, another 43 had already been felled so far in 2010, according to iCasualties.org. In Iraq, while violence is down from years past, 4,376 American soldiers have been killed since President George W. Bush launched the war in 2003.

Obviously, there is a war on -- two, in fact -- and Limbaugh himself was once a big fan of both of them. Had someone on the left screwed up this bad, Limbaugh would dedicate a three hour show to it. It would be proof that the left is out of touch, that they never think of the troops in the field, that they don't understand, let alone appreciate, the sacrifices made on our behalf.

But Rush himself did it, so somehow, it'll be cool. It does point to one problem that almost no one is talking about; we've fought these wars for so long that it's become background noise. When the war in Iraq is officially over, it'll will become the second longest war in American history. The longest will be Afghanistan. War has become a constant in our lives, so much so that we've come to confuse our current state with peace. I'm not making an excuse for Limbaugh who, as a "pundit," is expected to know what the hell he's talking about. But I'm explaining how easily the mistake could be made by someone else. It's especially galling for Limbaugh to do it, after constantly attacking President Obama for ignoring the "War on Terror." The WoT is an actual, honest to goodness war, Limbaugh and others on the right argue. To drop that argument so easily and offhandedly shows you how much Limbaugh believes it.

But Afghanistan is a real war and has been called the forgotten war. All of our attention -- left and right -- has been on Iraq. But the war in Afghanistan roars on, whether we're paying attention or not.

[L.A. Times:]

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and The Outskirts Of Marja, Afghanistan -- As U.S. Marines battled Sunday to consolidate their hold on the southern Afghanistan town of Marja, Western commanders reported the first serious setback of the 2-day-old offensive: the deaths of a dozen Afghan civilians in an errant rocket strike.

At least four of those killed were children, an Afghan government official said.

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of Western forces in Afghanistan, apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the deaths. The fatalities marked the first instance of large-scale civilian casualties since the start of fighting in Nad Ali, the district in central Helmand province where Marja lies.

"We regret this tragic accident and offer our sympathies to the families of those killed and injured," said Maj Gen Michael Regner. "Our combined forces take every precaution to minimise civilian casualties and we will investigate this incident to determine how this happened."

Allow me to make an argument that Regner -- or Limbaugh, for that matter -- would never make; those people were killed deliberately.

Not those very Afghan civilians, but some Afghan civilians. Follow me here; if you'd asked anyone who was in any way realistic about war if there would be civilian casualties, the only honest answer would be "of course." If you take a course of action that youknow will result in civilian deaths, you can't come back later and say you didn't mean to kill any civilians. Not honestly and logically, anyway. You did something that you were sure would kill civilians and you were right. You can say you didn't mean to kill these particular civilians, but someone was going to lose that backwards lottery and you knew it. People are dead and you knew it would happen.

To make matters worse, while all of this deliberate death is going on, we're busy pretending it's not. Maybe we're sick of war, but imagine how Afghans feel.

Of course, imagining how Afghans feel would require some compassion. Not to mention some admission of responsibility from fair weather war cheerleaders like Limbaugh. So that's not going to happen. What will happen is that people like Limbaugh will become so tangled up in their own denial and vitriol that they forget the killing is happening at all.


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News Roundup for 2/15/10

FOX News logo
Not exactly on your side

-Headline of the day-
"Fox News Scolds WellPoint Rate Hike, Not For Hurting Consumers, But For Energizing Health Reform Advocates ."

According to the report, "California Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, a subsidiary of health insurance giant WellPoint, announced recently that it would be hiking premiums for customers in the individual market by up to 39 percent." But don't worry, FOX News is looking out for you -- they want to make sure this sort of thing doesn't get us any healthcare reform.

On FOX Business, WellPoint VP Brad Fluegel joined foxbots Charles Payne and and Stu Varney to discuss the increase. The hosts didn't exactly take his side, but they didn't take yours either.

PAYNE: But Brad this is like Jaws 2, just when you thought it was safe to get out of the healthcare debate, you brought everybody back into it. [...] Didn’t someone though, wasn’t there a committee that said listen, let’s take Wall Street’s lead, do the minimum we can, wait for this to blow over and maybe a year from now try to hike rates?

VARNEY: You handed the politicians red meat at a time when healthcare is being discussed. You gave it to them! [...] You couldn’t see this coming? I mean really, you couldn’t see this coming? [...]

VARNEY: You actually did make a net in that quarter in twelve weeks, you made what, $500 million net profit didn’t you? You tell that to a politician and they’re going to say, ‘you made a half billion dollars in twelve weeks and now you put the price up 25%.’

Payne's mixing together Jaws II and Godfather III, but he's a big important business reporter who doesn't have time for movies.

He's also a dick. (Think Progress, with video)

-Does anyone really care?-
Dick Cheney left office with an approval rating barely above that of fingernails on a chalkboard. Yet, whenever he wants to say something stupid, everyone's there to report it. So, when Dick was ABC this weekend, everyone hung on his every word -- everyone in the press, that is. For the most part, it's hard for me to believe that anyone else cares much either way.

In the interview, he tried to explain why President Obama was soft on terror and failed to do so; mostly because Obama's doing 90% of what the Bush administration was. He also came out for repealing "don't ask, don't tell."

Anyway, it's supposed to be big news, so there ya go. Try to suppress your yawns. (Plum Line)

-Bonus HotD-
"Evan Bayh Is Just Too Good For Congress."

I already covered this, but it's Presidents Day which means it's otherwise a slow political news day. Besides, how could I pass up a headline like that. And then there's this quote from the post; "Here is why he is not running: Congress is broken and our nation is on the brink of failure, so like a brave statesman, it is his duty to… run away from the problem as fast as possible and make buttloads of $$$ lobbying for one special interest or another!"

I ask you, is that not so accurate it's scary or what? (Wonkette)

Getting Democrats on the Same Page

It's not big news that the White House and the Democrats have a bit of a messaging problem. The biggest problem they have with their message is the fact that they don't have one. Apparently, throughout the entire party, there isn't a single person who's media savvy in any way. There is no standard answer to any question, giving the appearance of a party with no guiding principles and no accomplishments under their belt. As a result, we get stories like this one, from Huffington Post's Sam Stein:

Only 12 percent of the public say that the Obama administration has lowered their taxes since coming to office, despite the fact that the White House's stimulus package cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, a new opinion survey found.

The rather remarkable number was part of a CBS/New York Times poll released on Friday and provides a somewhat dispiriting window into how the recession has altered political preceptions throughout the country. A tax cut of historic nature, passed by Congress last winter, has yielded few political benefits (and, some economists would argue, few economic ones as well).

In addition, the CBS/NYT poll found that 24 percent of respondents said that their taxes had actually increased under the Obama administration -- which is, again, not true. Fifty-three percent said their taxes stayed the same.

How could so many people be so wrong? Because no one ever tells them otherwise. In a similar situation in the Bush White House, the answer to almost every question would've begun, "As you know, we cut taxes for 95% of Americans..." It wouldn't make any difference what the question was. The administration that began every other sentence with "On 9/11..." would never have allowed 88% of Americans to believe they didn't get a tax cut.

Yet Democrats and this White House, with a stimulus that economists credit with turning around the economy and this broad tax cut on their resume, have managed to allow the American public to believe they've gotten nothing done. As they did during the only economic downturn that compares with today's -- the Great Depression -- Democrats saved capitalism and have been rewarded with accusations of Marxism.

That same CBS/NYT poll shows some support for Democrats in reforming Senate rules to address the Republican abuse of the filibuster.

As you may know, the Senate operates under procedures that effectively require 60 votes, out of 100, for most legislation to pass, allowing a minority of as few as 41 senators to block a majority. Do you think this procedure should remain in place, or do you think it should be changed so that legislation is passed with a simple majority?

Should remain 44
Should be changed 50
[Don't Know] 6

50% is close enough to a majority to call a majority. And that number would be even higher if Democrats ever talked about GOP obstructionism.

But they don't. Watch a talking head show and, if a Democrat is asked about a hitch in passing legislation, they'll answer, "Well, as you know, it takes 60 votes to pass something in the Senate..." Over at talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall had an extremely short post that summed the whole problem up nicely:

Have you heard anyone say "The Republicans won't allow an up or down vote on a jobs bill."


Good question. And the answer is no, I can't say I ever have. This is especially frustrating considering that this exact same message was used against Democrats -- pretty effectively. When Bush was having trouble getting a few of his more squirrelly judicial nominees through, this was the Republican message. Every single one of them used it any and every time they got the chance. Sure, the GOP eventually lost that fight, but that's because Republicans didn't actually have any good arguments. Still, the "up or down vote" swung a lot of public opinion their way -- despite the fact that their arguments otherwise made no sense.

I'm not saying that Democrats should try their hand at propagandizing and demagoguery. What I'm saying is that when party members all have different answers to the same question, those answers seem incoherent when compared to each other. The Democratic Party should be an honest to goodness party and should speak in one voice on most issues. If that leaves someone like Ben Nelson or Blanche Lincoln outside of the talking point and in a bad position, so what? They're the minority within their party, so this shouldn't come as a big surprise to them.

Democrats all need to get on the same page in messaging. If they don't, they'll lose all their debates to ignorance, as they've lost the public on tax cuts.


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News Roundup for 2/12/10

Bill Clinton
Doing fine, despite Obama's attempt to kill him

-Headline of the day-
"Fox Politicizes Clinton's Heart Surgery, Suggests He Wouldn’t Have Received Treatment Under Health Reform."

Of course they did. And, of course, it was the show that's such amazing bullshit that you wish there was a stronger word for bullshit that did it. FOX and Friends co-host and Aryan Superman Brian Kilmeade asked Peter J. Johnson Jr. if Bill Clinton would've gotten care for his heart condition had healthcare reform already gone through. Johnson, being FOX's in-house healthcare reform expert, said that Obamacare would've killed Big Dawg dead.

"If the government decides to adopt the Peter Orszag, budget director, architect of health care, method and put in regulations that say there is a gold standard, there is a best practice based on the literature, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people like the president, I’m not going to make a determination... if the new standard is save money, best practices, does President Clinton or you or I who needs it get the stent under the new regimen of health care effectiveness?" Johnson said or asked or something, in what many would argue was English.

Translated, the answer seems to be that government-run health insurance wouldn't pay for experimental procedures -- which is kind of a problem with private insurers right now. And stents aren't exactly "experimental" -- former VP Dick Cheney is practically made out of them by now.

But really, all you have to do is look at all the other countries that have a healthcare system and ask, "Do they live longer or shorter than we do?" The answer; longer.

The United States doesn't exist in a vacuum -- as much as FOX News, Republicans, and Blue Dogs like to pretend we do. (Think Progress, with video)

-Happy Darwin Day-
On February 12, 1809, a young British boy was born who would later grow up to hatch a plot to kill Jesus and destroy all religion forever. It hasn't happened yet, but that doesn't mean we godless liberal commies aren't working on it. One way to advance our bloodthirsty plot for world domination through deicide is to celebrate Darwin Day.

So break out your Darwin Day tree and your Darwin Day cake and hide Darwin Day eggs behind the couch. Then get hammered and dance like a monkey to the following tunes:

The Rolling Stones -- Monkey Man
Motorhead -- Line in the Sand (Evolution)
Rush - Natural Science
Bob Dylan -- The Times They are a Changin'
Iron Maiden -- Quest for Fire
Lew Williams -- Gone Ape Man
Steve Miller Band -- Jungle Love
They Might Be Giants -- I Am a Paleontologist
Tracy Chapman -- Change
Black Flag -- Modern Man

Got any others? Go ahead and throw them on too. It's been over 200 years since Darwin was born, but we'll get 'em yet. (Blip.fm)

-Bonus HotD-
"Detroit schools offer class in how to to work at Walmart."

That may just be the saddest headline I have ever read. (Raw Story)

Republican Principles are as Solid and Immutable as Jello

John BoehnerRepublicans stand by principles. Those principles are strong, those principles are patriotic, those principles are what the American people want, but it's a little hard to pin down what, exactly, those principles are. We can't ever appease terrorists, for example -- that is, until we must appease terrorists. Big government must stay out of our lives, unless big government is wiretapping us without a warrant, forcing women to remain pregnant against their will, or keeping the Homosexual Menace in its place. Government must practice fiscal responsibility, but only after a Republican president spent years pouring money down a rathole in the desert. Underneath all of this flip-flopping and these temporary beliefs is one real and true idea; that Republicans must always be in power. So one principle is a great thing, until it becomes a political liability -- then they've always been against it. Political nihilists to the core, Republicans believe what it's good strategy to believe.

Which goes a long way toward explaining this story:

[Talking Points Memo:]

After slamming the Obama administration for "secret deliberations" and going back on his campaign promise to televise the health care debate, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) criticized the President yesterday for televising the bipartisan health care summit on Feb. 25, asking "is this a political event or is this going to be a real conversation?"

Boehner had been a rather vocal supporter of C-SPAN's request to televise the earlier negotiations, writing to the network in January that "House Republicans strongly endorse your proposal and stand ready to work with you to make it a reality."

Well now, it seems, the idea of televising the health care summit has Boehner a bit squeamish.

See, transparency was once considered a great idea, because people seeing how the sausage was made seemed like it would be bad for Obama and the Democrats. Turns out that's not true, though. Recent experience showed them that it'd be bad for Republicans.

It goes back to the end of last month, when Republicans made the mistake of inviting the president to answer questions at their House GOP retreat. Obama asked that it be televised and Republicans said, "Sure!" They were going to beat up Obama on national teevee and it was going to be awesome...

"Republicans immediately agreed to the request," Politico reported at the time, "but they may be regretting it now."

President Obama ate their lunch. What Republicans failed to consider was that all their arguments against Obama's ideas were stupid and that the president -- who won the election largely on his debating skills -- could leave all those arguments in a smoking heap without breaking a sweat. So, of course, he did. As a result, Republicans were left looking like idiots armed only with empty-headed talking points.

"It was a mistake that we allowed the cameras to roll like that," one GOPer told MSNBC's Luke Russert. "We should not have done that."

So now they're all gun-shy. They haven't come up with any good arguments in the meantime -- mostly because there aren't any -- and they're heading into a battle of wits completely unarmed. A battle that'll be televised.

Just as they've demanded.

Republicans are so afraid of this event that they initially threatened not to show up for it. But then they realized that empty chairs at a healthcare summit would be worse than empty talking points, so they caved. One way or another, it's going to happen.

So here we are. The GOP has painted themselves in a corner with idiotic talking points and BS arguments.

Maybe it might be a good time to cook up some sort of principles to stand for.


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News Roundup for 2/11/10

Bag of mixed nuts
A fruitless mix

-Headline of the day-
"What Do You Think Tea Party Movement Is About?"

FOX News wants to know. Turns out a lot of people are saying that the teabaggers are racist and stupid and crazy and blah blah blah, which isn't at all fair and balanced. And it's gotten even worse after the big Sarah Palin Love-In the was the National Tea Party Convention. So the network that heavily promoted tea party events decided to find out what the folks really think. They put up a poll on their website that asks, " What Is the Tea Party Movement About?"

It's multiple choice, so you can choose, "Small government and fiscal responsibility," "Exposing Democrats' socialist agenda," "Voicing outrage at out-of-touch politicians," "Fruitless mix of racism, conspiracy theories," or "Other (add your comment)."

The results, when I checked:

FOX poll graphic

That's right, 77% of respondents believe the tea party movement is a "Fruitless mix of racism, conspiracy theories," with "Small government and fiscal responsibility" a distant second at 16%.

FOX News: They report, then you decide that reporting was bullshit. (FOX News)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, Dogboy and Mr. Dan are back and they're here to tell you the best Valentine's day gift!

Love For Sale
Click for animation

Oh great. This means I wasted a bunch of money on a sweatshop produced Teddy Bear. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Missouri Lawmaker’s Argument Against Repealing DADT: It Would Be A 'Cultural Affront' To Terrorists."

"The Muslim nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, where America is fighting two wars, are opposed to homosexuality," argues Gary Nodler, a Republican running to fill Roy Blunt's seat. "Changing 'Don’t ask, don’t tell' would offend the terrorists in such a way that could put soldiers -- and America -- at risk of further terrorist attacks."

So, for those of you keeping score, Republicans are for appeasing terrorists now. (Think Progress)

Phony Democrats Committing Mass Political Suicide

Truman speaksI’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign.

But when a Democratic candidate goes out and explains what the New Deal and fair Deal really are — when he stands up like a man and puts the issues before the people — then Democrats can win, even in places where they have never won before. It has been proven time and again.

-Harry Truman, Address at the National Convention Banquet of the Americans for Democratic Action, May 17, 1952

There's a real need for many to be reminded of Harry Truman's "phony Democrat" argument these days. It panned out in the 2002 midterms when the party, cowed by Republican demagoguery of 9/11 and terrorism, threw their support behind the invasion of Iraq. Democrats lost big that year, giving George W. Bush's party both houses of congress. The winners on the left that year were not the Democrats who ran to the right, but those who stood by their principles. No antiwar Democrat lost -- the losers were all the wishy-washy middle-of-the-road types. These days, we'd call them Blue Dogs.

See, there's a reason for this. Straddling the white line in the middle of the highway may seem to be a safe strategy, but the truth is that it's not. You can't possibly be all things to all people and if you try, you'll fail. Meanwhile, a Republican challenger is absolutely guaranteed to run to your right. If you have a D after your name, you're a liberal; reality be damned. Take for example, Indiana Blue Dog Evan Bayh.


Dan Coats spoke to Fred Thompson on the radio today, signaling that the early pounding won't deter him from a Senate race, and outlining his complain with the incumbent, Evan Bayh.

"He talked a good game back at home, but when push came to shove, he was there with the liberals, there with Obama every time," Coats said. On health care, Bayh was "catering to the liberals that he needed to cater to and he wasn't listening to people in Indiana."

How true is this? I'd call it a big flaming lie. Bayh has been a thorn in the side of liberals on healthcare reform since day one. Coats' line "confirms the truism that Dems will always get attacked as too liberal," writes Greg Sargent, "even if they urinate on the heads of liberals on a regular basis." So, if you're a centrist because you don't want to be accused of being too liberal, you're not going to have a lot of luck. There are two constants in Republican challengers; they lie and they aren't very imaginative about it. If you're a Democrat, you're a commie. Case closed.

In Indiana, Bayh was already in a tough race. Before Coats all but announced his candidacy, Evan Bayh was pretty much dead even with two possible Republican challengers. Once a shortlister to be Obama's running mate, he's now in the fight of his political life.

In Louisiana, Blue Dog senator and healthcare reform roadblock Mary Landrieu has gone from very popular to very unpopular. In the spring of 2009, she was riding high with a 60% positive rating. After a few months of reform obstructionism, she found herself at 50% negative by December of the same year.

Similarly, Arkansas healthcare speedbump Sen. Blanche Lincoln has become such low-hanging fruit that she's facing nine Republican challengers. The frontrunner in her race is Rep. John Boozman, who leads her by 19 points.

In Nebraska, Sen. Ben Nelson can only celebrate the fact that he's not up for reelection this year. After his constant Blue Dog dickery on reform, he'd lose a race held today by 31 points.

And do we even have to look at the poster boy for phony Democrats? Let's anyway, shall we? Sen. Joseph "Joementum" Lieberman would get killed 58%-30% if he had to face reelection this year. Lieberman's future looks so bad that many -- if not most -- observers just assume he plans to retire.

When the smoke clears in November, I think we'll see there are a lot fewer Blue Dogs. And, as in 2002, I think we'll see very few -- if any -- losses by actual liberals. So, if you're out there and you're considering running down the middle, don't. Like they say, there ain't nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow line and roadkill.

And if you're planning on running to the right, enjoy your political suicide.


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Griper News: News Roundup for 2/10/10

Del. Cole
Keeping Virginia safe from UFOs and the antichrist

-Headline of the day-
"Human microchips seen by some in Virginia House as device of antichrist."

According to the report, "The House of Delegates is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill that would protect Virginians from attempts by employers or insurance companies to implant microchips in their bodies against their will."

Seems to me that implanting microchips in you against your will would already be pretty illegal, but there ya go. Not that anyone's done it or is going to do it or has plans to do it. It's just in case.

See, Del. Mark L. Cole -- who's unsurprisingly Republican -- thinks consumers need to be protected from the antichrist. "My understanding -- I'm not a theologian -- but there's a prophecy in the Bible that says you'll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times," Cole said. "Some people think these computer chips might be that mark."

And some people think you get microchipped because aliens in UFOs shove them up your butt. Which begs the question; so what?

"I just think you should have the right to control your own body," he elaborated.

Let's see, a Virginia Republican who thinks people have a right to control their own bodies? Sounded a little fishy to me, so I checked.

Turns out that Cole was endorsed by the Virginia Society for Human Life -- an anti-abortion group -- introduced an "informed consent" bill that basically requires doctors to try to talk women out of abortion (the bill failed, by the way), and his website brags he's "defended the right to life." I'm guessing he isn't a big proponent of recreational drug use, either.

You say you think people should have the right to control their own bodies, Mark?

No you don't.

But hey, at least Virginians will be protected from the boogeyman. Because all of the real problems facing your state have been solved, leaving plenty of time to dick around with horseshit like this... (Washington Post)

-Guess what? Newt's an idiot-
If you were watching The Daily Show last night, you might've experienced the same moment I did. You're listening to Newt Gingrich talk and you're wondering, "What the hell is he talking about?" Don't worry, it happens a lot.

In this case, it was during a discussion of the underwear bomber.

GINGRICH: The American people doesn’t understand reading Miranda rights to terrorists in Detroit when its fairly obvious they’re terrorists. […]

STEWART: Didn’t they [the Bush administration] do the same with Richard Reid, the shoe bomber?

GINGRICH: Richard Reid was an American citizen.

OK, a couple of points here on that "American citizen" thing; 1) so what? and 2) no he wasn't.

The Miranda warning is based on the fifth amendment to the Constitution, which states, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

OK, so you could argue that this is a "time of War or public danger," but citizen or not has nothing to do with anything. The text says "no person," not "no citizen." And Richard Reid was a British citizen, so that blows Gingrich's argument further.

If you watched TDS last night, you witnessed a rare occurrence -- one swing, two misses.

I think Sarah Palin might be wandering around in a Newt Gingrich costume or something. (Think Progress, with video)

-Bonus HotD-
"Student detained for toting Arabic flash cards sues police."

See what listening to people like Newt Gingrich will get you? Remember, friends don't let friends be xenophobic morons -- especially if those friends are cops. (Raw Story, with video)

'Bipartisan Solution' is an Oxymoron

Flintstones clubLike a lot of kids from my generation, I grew up watching The Flintstones. It wasn't very funny, but I was a kid, it was colorful, and that was good enough. After all, this was the same generation that thought Scooby Doo was the best thing ever, despite the fact that every single episode was almost identical -- different location, different villain in a different costume, and that was it.

Needless to say, I don't see a lot I still find funny when I look back. Except the boxing matches. That was a great idea. You get two cavemen in a boxing ring and they take turns whacking each other over the head with a club. I think this is pretty funny still, but I'm a deeply disturbed man.

Anyway, this is what "bipartisanship" looks like to me. One party offers a suggestion and the other side beats the hell out of them for it. Then the other party offers a competing suggestion and they take their turn getting the crap knocked out of them. It's absurd, it's stupid, it's ineffectual, and it's surprisingly popular.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that the public likes bipartisanship, but doesn't find a lot of it in Washington.

Nearly six in 10 in the new poll say the Republicans aren't doing enough to forge compromise with President Obama on important issues; more than four in 10 see Obama as doing too little to get GOP support. Among independents, 56 percent see the Republicans in Congress as too unbending and 50 percent say so of the president; 28 percent of independents say both sides are doing too little to find agreement.

In this Flintstones boxing match, Republicans are clearly losing. The "no healthcare reform ever" message is losing -- the GOP is seen as the most partisan and "nearly two-thirds of Americans say they want Congress to keep working to pass comprehensive healthcare reform."

This realization of defeat is even admitted to by a large percentage of Republican voters -- 44% see their party leaders "as doing too little to strike deals with Obama," while only 13% of Democrats are "worried about inaction on Obama's part."

The GOP's partisan obstructionism becomes especially apparent after reading a post by Ezra Klein. In it, Klein points out that Republicans demand certain reforms -- and that every one of those reforms are in the Senate healthcare bill. In other words, the GOP gets everything they want in that legislation and they're still running to FOX News hourly to explain how it's the worst thing ever.

"On Sunday, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell responded to Barack Obama's summit invitation by demanding Obama scrap the health-care reform bill entirely," Klein wrote yesterday. "This is the context for that demand. What they want isn't a bill that incorporates their ideas. They've already got that. What they want is no bill at all. And that's a hard position for the White House to compromise with."

The real Republican position isn't that plans for healthcare reform are bad -- it incorporates all of their ideas -- the real position is that Barack Obama must not suceed in passing a bill. See, that spoils the narrative they're constructing that Obama is a hopelessly ineffectual president. If people think Obama's doing a good job, then the "big Republican year" in November is in jeopardy and 2012 is out the window entirely.

Meanwhile, 45,000 people will die this year from a lack of healthcare coverage. To put this into perspective, 9/11 killed 3,000 people. In response, we had to run off and invade Iraq right now, we had to throw out civil liberties and privacy, and begin torturing people. We began a war that served no purpose, abandoned principles this nation was founded on, and flushed $3 trillion down the toilet.

The crisis we're in right now will kill 15 times as many people as 9/11 and Republicans argue that there's no big rush. I guess we should be happy they aren't lifeguards or paramedics -- they'd show up and save you in a year or so.

Unfortunately, the same can be said of Obama and the Democrats. The president has issued yet another call for bipartisanship. How often does that paleolithic pugilist have to smack you over the head with a club?

On the bright side, there are signs that the idea of a bipartisan solution is on its last legs. Obama won't rule out budget reconciliation to pass a bill and reports have it that he chewed out John Boehner over obstructionism in a private meeting.

Bipartisanship may be popular, but so is Santa Claus -- and both are as likely to start offering solution in DC any time soon. The belief in the public's love of bipartisanship is misplaced; quick, name your favorite law. Was it bipartisan? Do you even know? Do you even care?

On the other hand, one bipartisan bill jumps readily into my head -- the authorization to use force in Iraq. Aren't the results more consequential than the process?

The time has passed to put the idea of bipartisanship behind us. It'd be nice, but it's not going to happen -- Republicans will make sure of that.

It's also not even remotely necessary.


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