News Roundup for 3/31/11

Rep. Gohmert, deep in what he likes to pretend is thought

-Headline of the day-
"Gohmert: Libya Attacks Are False Flag For Obama To Call Up Private Army Created By Health Care Law."

Yesterday, a member of the House of Representatives concerned other members of that body by having some sort of wingnut talk points stroke on the House floor. Libya was a "false flag" operation meant to deplete our military, so President Obama could call up his secret Obamacare Army and make everyone have abortions or something, argued Rep. Louie "Terror Babies!" Gohmert. Bilderbergers! Secret Muslim! Birth certificate! NAFTA superhighway! Roswell! GAAAAHHH!

Actually, he only said the first part -- out loud, anyway. "[W]hen you find out we're being sent to Libya to use our treasure and American lives there," Louis said, "maybe there's intention to so deplete the military that we're going to need that presidential reserve officer commissioned corps and non-commissioned corps that the president can call up on a moment's notice involuntarily, according to the Obamacare bill."

Is that secret army really in the healthcare law?

What do you think? According to the report, "If this rings a bell, maybe you've seen a chain email peddling the second half of this conspiracy theory. Some on the far-right believe the health care law creates a private army for President Obama to call up and train on U.S. citizens. What it really does is make good on a plan first envisioned by Bush HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson in the wake of the September 11 attack to create a Ready Reserve Corps of several thousand public health professionals -- nurses, doctors -- that can be called up to treat people in the wake of an epidemic or a disaster like Hurricane Katrina."

Louis Gohmert, ladies and gentlemen. The Republican who believes that government should not be run like a business, but by that chain email sent to you by your crazy aunt Trudy.

For all you Gohmert voters out there, I have only one question: what the hell is wrong with you? (Talking Points Memo)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, have you heard? Uncle Mark says everything's all fixed now! Everything! YAY!

One Day
Click for animation

OK, now that's just mean... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Today, Rick Scott Will Lay Out Cuts For Developmentally Disabled And Then Attend A Special Olympics Photo-Op."

And that's why Florida's Gov. Scott is the the most popular governor in America. (ThinkProgress)

The Slow Downward Slide of the Tea Party

Yesterday, CNN delivered some bad news for teabaggers (pdf) -- turns out no one likes them.

OK, so I'm overstating the case. I apologize. It actually turns out that they aren't extremely popular. Some people like them. Some people don't. And more people dislike the Tea Party than don't. And this isn't a new trend, as this chart from Nate Silver demonstrates:

Disapproval rising over time

The blue line represents the percentage approving of the Tea Party, the red line shows disapproval. As you can see, the trend on disapproval is rising, while approvals have pretty much always been flatlining.

So, what kind of person still approves of the Tea Party? Conservatives (58%) and Republicans (61%). Among every other demographic group, support is weak and overtaken by disapproval. Is the rising disapproval a problem for Tea Baggers or is it the steady approval that's the most important thing here? Silver takes a shot at the question:

I've long been of the view that the Tea Party, despite nominating poor candidates in a couple of key races, was a significant net positive for the G.O.P. in 2010, both because it contributed to the "enthusiasm gap" and because it helped an unpopular Republican Party to re-brand itself in never-out-of-style conservative draping. But if the Tea Party ain't over yet, the point in time at which it was an electoral asset for Republicans soon may be.

If I had to guess, I'd say that Tea Party's problems were a no-compromise, bull-in-a-china-shop style of politics and an insular view of what it means to be a "real American." We see the former reflected in the politics of new governors around the country, becoming unpopular in what may be record time by running their states like a dictatorship. In the latter, we see the 'baggers alienate group after group as not being "real Americans," which means they pile up enemies while making no friends. This may be an OK way to run a club, but as a political movement in a democracy, it's a fatal mistake.

Unlike Silver, I don't see that "the Tea Party ain't over yet." In fact, it looks to me like they all got tired and went away once the elections were over. Tea Party presence at union protests in states, for example, have been pathetically small -- especially if you consider the size of the crowds the 'baggers could turn out at their peak. The whole thing's running out of steam and, while that blue line is flat, that support isn't being shown out in the street. It's one thing to tell a pollster you think the Tea Party is a good idea. It's quite another to be active in it.

Then again, the 'baggers are a largely reactionary movement. If there are no liberals office-holders to rail against, then there's no position for them to take. "We're against things!" could easily be their motto. When Democrats are in ascendancy again, maybe they'll put some miles on shoe leather again. But right now, they seem to believe there's no "socialist takeover" to oppose, so there's no reason to be active. That blue line may be steady, but the evidence on the street shows that Tea Partiers aren't all that excited about things anymore.

Whatever the reasons, it's becoming more and more clear that the Tea Party just ain't what it used to be. And that steady blue line is trending -- ever so gradually -- down.



News Roundup for 3/30/11

Empty debate stage
GOP candidates prepare for the first presidential debate

-Headline of the day-
"First Presidential Debate Pushed Back To September Due To Lack Of Candidates."

The Politico/NBC News presidential debate was going to be the first presidential debate, all but officially kicking off the 2012 presidential race, and it was going to be held May 2. Not anymore. According to the report, "The two big media titans announced today that they will push the debate back to the fall because so few candidates have officially announced their plans to run."

Announced candidates include Barack Obama, AKA "The Prez," Fred Karger, AKA "who?" and Jimmy McMillan, AKA the "Rent's Too Damn High Guy." In fact, not even Obama has officially announced his candidacy -- it's just taken for granted. I mean, when you're the incumbent, you're really a candidate unless you announce you're not running. And anyway, the debate seems to be GOP-only, which means just Who and the Mustache Gardener.

John Heubusch, executive director for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation which runs the debate, said, "Although there will be a long and impressive list of Republican candidates who eventually take the field, too few have made the commitment thus far for a debate to be worthwhile in early May."

Fox News, on the other hand, is undaunted and sticking to their May 5 schedule for their first debate. I'm sure that those three days will be enough time for GOPers to stop waffling and throw their hats in the ring. I mean, they ought to be able to get their shit together by then, right?

"This is my 10th presidential campaign, Lord help me," writes Time's Joe Klein. "I have never before seen such a bunch of vile, desperate-to-please, shameless, embarrassing losers coagulated under a single party's banner. They are the most compelling argument I've seen against American exceptionalism."

OK, so maybe not. (Talking Points Memo)

-Which is weird, because...-
...a new Quinnipiac poll puts President Obama in a pretty bad place. According to the report, the poll "gives President Barack Obama the lowest approval ratings of his presidency, with a majority of Americans saying he does not deserve another term in the White House."

I've got a quibble with the term "majority," since the percentage is 50% -- half isn't a majority, 51% is -- but it's close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades.

Still, the poll finds that the slump in Obama's numbers comes from his actions in Libya, which 47% oppose. In Obama's defense, these numbers are confusing, since "65% of the respondents think the U.S. should use military force to protects civilians from Col. Gadhafi, but they oppose using military force to remove him, 48%-41%" -- in other words, a vast majority back Obama's plan. Apparently, they just don't know that is the plan.

If only we had some sort of information-dispensing mechanism to set the public straight on that point -- a "news media," if you will.

Oh well, if wishes were horses... (Wall Street Journal)

-Bonus HotD-
"Clueless in Wisconsin: Newt Gingrich Praises Gov Walker as Job Creator."

Did you know Newt Gingrich used to be a history professor? That's right, he had a job teaching people about reality.

I hope he used to be better at it. (Politicususa)

Wisconsin Supreme Court Race is All About Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP have lost. I don't mean that they've lost the fight to push their union-busting bill through -- although, to be sure, they're not having a lot of luck on that front. No, they've lost the argument. April 5 is a off-off-year election day in Wisconsin, the first since the anti-worker moves began, and I have yet to see a candidate who embraces Walker wholeheartedly. Instead, I see only quotes and ads from conservatives pretending Walker doesn't exist or from liberals who promise to "stand up to Scott Walker."

The highest profile race in this election cycle is for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where incumbent conservative David Prosser faces liberal JoAnne Kloppenburg. Prosser won his primary with 55% of the vote. Kloppenburg took a mere 25%. Being a nonpartisan office, the post-primary election is basically a runoff. Those numbers suggested that Prosser would win in a walk. Prosser voters would stick with Prosser, everyone else would go with Kloppenburg -- at least, those who didn't go with Prosser. The incumbent would get his 55% and then some, coasting to an easy reelection.

But since that primary, things have changed. Prosser made the mistake of believing that the new governor's star was rising and his campaign told voters he'd be a "complement" to Scott Walker's governorship as a justice. He's been trying to take that back ever since and enjoying about as much luck as the GOP has been having with their union busting.

And here's how thing look now...

[National Review:]

Two sources with knowledge of internal GOP polling tell us that Prosser and Kloppenburg are near even, a bad sign for the incumbent. "She has driven his negatives up," one source says. "It will be hard to drive hers up. Her lack of judicial experience should hurt her, but it also makes her harder to pin down. The question now is: Does the Right have enough resources to counter the Greater Wisconsin Committee's millions? And even if they do, is it too late? It is going to be touch-and-go for these last few days."

Greater Wisconsin Committee is a liberal outfit running a tough anti-Prosser campaign.

But let's keep something in mind here; National Review is about as trustworthy as Fox News. It's what happens to the home of conservative intellectualism when there are no more conservative intellectuals. Once a magazine of serious thought on the right, it's now a clearinghouse for nutjob propaganda. Any publication that goes from William F. Buckley to Jonah Goldberg is definitely heading in the wrong direction, IQ-wise. Granted, I didn't have a lot of use for Buckley, but I have even less for Goldberg. Buckley was as sharp as a tack, Goldberg is as sharp as a moist sponge.

So, if NR's reports that Prosser is running about even, we can be excused for believing he's running behind. "The stakes couldn't be higher!" gets people to the polls, "the cause is lost!" does not.

But even if NR is correct and it's a dead heat, then it's a case of who wants it more. And the momentum is definitely behind the anti-Walker voters right now. As I pointed out toward the beginning of this post, Walker defenders are close to nonexistent right now, while Walker critics shout their criticism through megaphones to cheering crowds. At this point, it's not really a question of whether anti-Walker candidates can win, but whether any given candidate is anti-Walker enough to win.

And the candidate who once promised to be a "complement" to Scott Walker on the bench? I think we can put him in the "not anti-Walker enough" column.

A "state Supreme Court election would not normally be major news," writes Eric Kleefeld for Talking Points Memo. "But in the wake of Walker's legislation, and the political protests that gripped the state and attracted national attention, the court race has quickly turned into a proxy political battle."

In other words, we're seeing how quickly the boil can cool off in the Tea Party kettle. If Kloppenburg wins, then -- in Wisconsin at least -- that heat has already dissipated.



News Roundup for 3/29/11

Al Qaeda operative

-Headline of the day-
"Trump fails to produce birth certificate."

Donald Trump simply doesn't trust Barack Obama, because he hasn't come out with a "long form" birth certificate from Hawaii. Not the one he has produced, which is legal and binding and all sorts of other stuff, but the magic one.

And to prove that producing a magic BC is no big deal, The Donald produced his own. Ha! Take that, you secret Muslim terr'ist!

Except there was a little hitch: the document Trump produced was not a legal document. Oops! According to the report, "an actual birth certificate, which is issued by the Department of Health, would have the agency's seal and also a signature of the city registrar - neither of which the Trump document has."

So we can only assume that, like that Obama character, Donald Trump is a secret Muslim terr'ist!

Well, Team Trump fixed that right pronto. Trump produced another BC and this one appears to be legal -- emphasis on "appears to be." I'm saying it's a forgery. And it's not up to me to prove it. It's up to Donald Trump to disprove it, because that's the burden of proof that birthers like Trump demand.

So far, Trump has not addressed the fact that the document he produced may be a forgery, which can only mean that's exactly what it is. I say we take Trump to gitmo and waterboard him until he tells us what he's up to and why he's working with al Qaeda.

Seriously, what's he trying to hide? (Politico)

-Worth a shot-
Political cartoonist Bruce Plante proposes a bloodless solution to the Libyan situation.

Paying off mercenaries

It wouldn't even cost more. I mean, it's not like bombs are free... (AAEC)

-Bonus HotD-
"CRUISE SHIP CONFESSION: Top Fox News Executive Admits Lying On-Air About Obama."

Fox Washington managing editor Bill Sammon says that calling Obama a socialist is "mischievous speculation" that's "rather far-fetched." Which, of course, is why he did just that during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Fox News: because the truth doesn't help Republicans. (Media Matters, with video)

At This Point, Supply-Side Economics Could Hardly be a Bigger Failure

Scissors cutting moneyCut taxes and you create jobs. Cut taxes and you create jobs. Cut taxes and you create jobs...

Say it over and over and it becomes true. Never mind that supply-side reasoning sets basic economics on its head and argues that it's not demand that drives employment, it's low taxation. Cut taxes, create jobs, end of story. It helps that the argument behind supply-side economics almost seems logical; if taxes are lower, businesses can afford to hire more. I say "almost logical" because that's the problem -- it fails to consider history and the facts, considering instead the world the way supply-siders wish it was. It isn't rational.

Demand drives job growth, because employers hire people they need. More demand, more need for workers. A bakery that can't keep up with demand for its bread hires more bakers. It will not hire more bakers than it needs. And if taxes are so low that the bakery is flush despite weak demand, they still won't hire more bakers if they don't need them. Who's going to hire employees to sit around and do nothing, simply because you can afford to? You take that extra money and you put it where it belongs -- in your pocket. You're a business, not a jobs program or a charity.

But that's supply-side economics and job growth in a nutshell; cut taxes and businesses will hire people they don't need, simply because they can afford to. It pretends that employers are in the business of employment, not in the business of making money. If my taxes go down, while demand for my product or service remains unchanged, then I'm going to pocket those tax savings. Because I'm in the business of making money.

And that's the purpose of supply-side economics. All that stuff about hiring because you can afford to is a rationalization, a smoke screen. It's about getting more money to big business and serving the investor class and that's it. The fact of the matter is that businesses employ as few people as they can get away with. And if taxes are down and demand is down or flat, then that tax break pads out the profit margin.

Want to see it happening in the real world? OK, here ya go...


Last week, the New York Times reported that, despite making $14.2 billion in profits, General Electric, the largest corporation in the United States, paid zero U.S. taxes in 2010 and actually received tax credits of $3.2 billion dollars. The article noted that GE's tax avoidance team is comprised of "former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress."

After not paying any taxes and making huge profits, ThinkProgress has learned that General Electric is expected to ask its nearly 15,000 unionized employees in the United States to make major concessions.

This year, 14 unions representing more than 15,000 workers will negotiate a new master contract with General Electric. Among the major concessions GE has signaled that it will ask of union workers is the elimination of a defined contribution benefit pension for new employees, a move the company has already implemented for its non-union salaried employees. Likewise, GE is signaling to the union that it will ask for the elimination of current health insurance plans in favor of lower quality health saving accounts, a move the company has already implemented for non-union salaried employees as well.

So, we cut GE's taxes to the bone and they're asking workers to take pay and benefit cuts. Supply-side economics would argue that this should result in a hiring binge and all those tax savings "trickling down" to the workers. But instead, the company is trying to screw its workers. Why? Because they're in the business of making money, not the business of employment. To assume anything else is to engage in wishful thinking and fantasy economics.

And this fantasy economics isn't just hurting workers' paychecks. Yesterday, McClatchy reported the obvious -- that through the floor taxation is responsible for budget shortfalls in state after state after state. It turns out you can't fund government with happy talk about the good times right around the corner. Here we see another promise of supply-side economics fail to materialize. This time, the promise that cutting taxes increases tax revenues.

At this point, anyone still clings to this supply-side fantasy is a gullible fool. That is, anyone who isn't rich or isn't a politician being bankrolled by the rich. I'm talking to you, teabaggers, talk radio zombies, and objectivist Libertarian Utopian moonies. We're watching this scheme fail all around us. The real world is finally intruding on the supply-side fantasy world. None of this stuff works. We have proof. And that proof is called "America." This trickle-down BS is bringing us to the point of disaster, where wages are stagnant, unemployment is high, government is all but unfunded, and the middle class is taking it in the shorts. We've cut taxes for the rich and cut taxes for corporations and cut taxes for Wall Street, over and over, and all we got in return was screwed. It just plain doesn't work. And we've been at it long enough to know that doing more of it doesn't make it work any better.

We tried it your way, supply-siders. Now it's time to go back to recognizing that the term "supply and demand" actually means something. It's time to go back to the real world.



News Roundup for 3/28/11

Reddit alien
Only porn-addicted commies know what any of this means

-Headline of the day-
"Are Your Kids Reading Reddit.com & Should You Be Worried?"

Glenn Beck's fake-news site, The Daily Blaze, asks those two questions and can only answer one; YES, YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID! FREAK OUT! FREAK OUT!!

See, Reddit is "part news aggregator, part message board, and it's driven by viewer-posted content. Innocent enough. Until you realize it also features porn."

Oh my God... Porn... On the internet. Sweet Jesus...

Of course, this makes it like pretty much every social bookmarking site. So what makes Reddit stand out for DB scrutiny? If you read through the report, nothing really. There are some porny subreddits you can subscribe to or not subscribe to -- nothing's forced on anyone and, if you want to find them, you've really got to look. Mostly it's goofy photos of cats and complaints about AT&T's bandwidth caps.

Wait, did I mention that Reddit is overwhelmingly liberal or left-leaning? Yeah, here's the front page of the politics subreddit, which ought to give you an idea what sort of a problem Beck's site might really have with Reddit. It's all "Yay for Wikileaks" and "war sucks" and "rich people aren't taxed enough" and "Glenn Beck's squirrelly."

"Could it be time to add it to your list of blocked sites?" asks concern troll DB. "Or, is it just free speech at work?"

I vote the latter and suspect that's Beck's problem with it. Why knock yourself out fighting for censorship when you can convince gullible morons to do all the censoring for you? (Daily Blaze, via porn-riddled Reddit)

-Trapped in the narrative-
When Republicans won big last year, the media was all like "everyone wants to cut spending big time!" Never mind that polls show people want jobs and Republican candidates promised jobs -- Republicans are cutting spending, Republicans won, and that means everyone is supposed to want to cut spending. Except they don't.

This is confusing if you're a media type.

Which describes Alexander Burns over at Politico. Burns writes that you've got all these Republican governors going crazy with the spending cuts and -- WTF? -- nobody likes it. Their polling numbers are crashing and, in places like Wisconsin, everyone's all "recall those bastards!" Seriously, what gives?

So Burns talked to a bunch of Republicans (because they're the only serious people on the planet) and it turns out that voters are just crazy and we don't know what they want. Sure, GOP governors are taking a whole bunch of stuff away from us, while handing over the keys to the bank to corporations and the wealthy, but that's just what serious budget-cutting looks like. Really, it's all just belly-aching and people will come around. Don't you worry.

"The gist of the piece is that 'we' all agree that the message of the 2010 election was that the public has decided that government is too big and wants dramatic budget cuts," comments Josh Marshall. "But now it seems like the governors who are really going whole hog on this -- overwhelming Republicans -- are getting really unpopular. Ergo, the public isn't really ready for the 'grown-up conversation' about budgets that it seemed they might be."

The problem isn't that Republicans aren't listening to constituents -- although, they aren't. The problem is that constituents aren't listening to the governors. Until voters are eager to hand over their wallets to insanely rich people, voters aren't really serious about deficits. (Politico)

-Bonus HotD-
"After ThinkProgress Video Stokes Controversy, Herman Cain Disavows Pledge Not To Appoint Muslims."

That's what you like about Republicans: they have the courage it takes to stand by their convictions -- until those convictions prove unpopular.

Then they never held those convictions at all. (ThinkProgress, with video)

The Absurdity of Corporate Personhood

The Citizens United ruling can be boiled down to one simple and crazy idea; that this...

Bank of America building

...is virtually indistinguishable from this:

A baby

I'm guessing you don't really see the resemblance. Neither do I. In fact, Bank of America has more rights than Skeezix here, by virtue of being an adult. Apparently, corporations are born into full adulthood -- another obvious difference we're all supposed to ignore.

As a person, Bank of America enjoys all the legal protections that Skeezix does, with the added benefits of being able to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns -- something Skeezix isn't allowed to do at all -- and the fact that it's technically immortal. BoA can die -- and probably will eventually -- but it won't be old age that takes it down. Skeezix's life will max out somewhere in the neighborhood of a century, if he's really lucky. So Skeezix gets 100-18=82 years of whatever political influence a person can have. Bank of America could theoretically get centuries of influence. Unless we're looking at the next Abraham Lincoln here, Bank of America's influence on American politics will far, far outweigh this kid's.

In a nation whose foundational law begins with the words "We the People," the definition of the word "person" is of profound importance. Which is why there's a movement in America to define the word in a somewhat more realistic and less ridiculous manner. And, around here anyway, that movement gets started in earnest on April 5.

[John Nichols, The Capital Times:]

In Madison and Dane County, voters will... be able to signal their commitment to clean elections, open government and local control by voting "yes" and "yes" on a pair of advisory referendums that address the threat posed to democracy by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which allows corporations to spend freely and without accountability to buy elections. The 2010 election results reflected that influence -- in Wisconsin and nationally.

These "advisory" referenda aren't binding, but they are a chance to get the people's voice on the record. While some may argue that lefty Madison and Dane County aren't representative of the nation, polling shows that -- no matter who you ask -- the people are against this nationwide. And in a big way.

[Talking Points Memo (Feb. 2010):]

New numbers from the ABC News/Washington Post poll reveal Americans of all political stripes are overwhelmingly upset with the Supreme Court's decision to allow more corporate money into electoral politics.

As the
st reports, the results from the poll are undeniably negative toward the decision. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they were "strongly opposed" to the ruling, with 72% saying they supported congressional action to reinstate the campaign fundraising limits the Supreme Court removed in the Citizens United case.

The negativity cuts equally across party lines, according to the poll.

Not the freshest numbers, but -- as far as I can tell -- they're the freshest available.

The idea here is to amend the US Constitution to strike down Citizens United. As ballot measure after ballot measure wins, the issue will be kept alive in the media -- and in voters' minds. Keeping the outrage from being overtaken by a "new normal" is always the challenge in a long-term effort. "Voters overwhelming oppose corporate personhood" headlines help keep that from happening.

We've got the ball rolling and, right now at least, the challenge is to keep it rolling.



News Roundup for 3/25/11

Empty chair
The GOP candidate qualified to be president

-Headline of the day-
"Grassley on the GOP Field: 'Only Two or Three of Them are Qualified to be President.'"

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley spoke to reporters yesterday, apparently to make the super-important announcement that he had no idea who the hell he was going to back for GOP nominee in 2012.

Part of his problem; the GOP field sucks. "[O]nly two or three of them are qualified to be president..." he said."It wouldn't do me much good to back somebody that won in Iowa if they can't carry on the campaign elsewhere."

Which leaves the question; who exactly is it that Chuck believes is qualified? "Is it Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Tea Party)?" the report asks. "Reality TV and real estate star Donald Trump? Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who has been struggling with foreign policy lately? Healthcare champion Mitt Romney? Or, maybe, Sarah Palin?"

Well, when you put it that way, it is a little bit of a mystery, isn't it? (Iowa Democratic Party)

-Speaking of which...-
Shelly Bachmann once again displays her masterful grasp of the facts:

Bachmann announces 2011 presidential campaign
Click for full comic

Hey, at least the megaphone's pointing the right way. That's progress. (Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"Sen. Johnson's Reaction To General Electric Paying No Taxes: Cut The Corporate Tax Rate."

Hey Wisconsin voters, good thing you didn't get out and reelect Russ Feingold, huh? Otherwise, we wouldn't have this insightful genius.(ThinkProgress, with video)


News Roundup for 3/24/11

Rusty old lock
CONFIRMED: this ain't much of a lock

-Headline of the day-
"CONFIRMED: Obama Locked Out of White House."

As far as wingnut blogger Jim Hoft is concerned, it has been CONFIRMED that President Obama was locked out of the White House today. Seems he came back from Brazil earlier than expected and found a door locked.

Hahahahaha! The President of the United States, locked out of his own house! Hahahahaha! Clearly, he's the worst president ever!. Remember, this has been CONFIRMED! CONFIRMED!!

Here's what it looks like when the most powerful man on Earth gets locked out of his house:

He tries one door, it's locked. He tries the other -- pop, right in. This is being "locked out" in much the same way that using a pair of scissors to open a stubborn bag of chips is "starving to death."

But never mind that, he was locked out! It's CONFIRMED!!! (Gateway Pundit)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, we hear a lot about "smart bombs," but what if there were...

Even Smart Bombs
Click for animation

Oh sure, go and use the word "smart" correctly... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"'I'm through whining about a liberal press,' says Sarah Palin."

Unfortunately, this statement was made while whining about a "liberal press." No really. Go check for yourself.

At least she admits it's whining. (The Hill)

Stealing America Right From Under Our Noses

Corporate welfare"Yes, 'there's class warfare, all right,' warns Warren Buffett. 'But it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning.'"

That quote, much beloved by liberals concerned with economic justice, opens a piece at MarketWatch by Paul B. Farrell. Farrell then goes on to agree with Buffett and take the argument further; there's a "new American Civil War between the rich and the rest." Buffett, the billionaire investment capitalist behind Berkshire Hathaway, issued his warning in a New York Times op-ed back in 2006. It was true then, but it's much truer now. Led by gains at the state level, Republicans are moving to strip the poor and the middle class of things they've paid for with their tax dollars or worked for at their state jobs, then take all that money and give it to the wealthy.

But that's only the start. Writes Farrell:

Not just the 16 new GOP governors in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and across America fighting for new powers. Others include: Chamber of Commerce billionaires, Koch brothers, Forbes 400, Karl Rove's American Crossroads, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform -- which now has 97% of House Republicans and 85% of the GOP Senators signed on his "no new taxes" pledge -- the Tea Party and Reaganomics ideologues.

Wake up America. You are under attack. Stop kidding yourself. We are at war. In fact, we have been fighting this Civil War for a generation, since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1981. Recently Buffett renewed the battle cry: The "rich class" is winning this war. Except most Americans still don’t realize they're losing, don't see the prize at stake.

All this was predicted back in September 2008 by Naomi Klein, author of Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Yes, we were warned that the GOP's Reaganomics ideology would stage a rapid comeback... warned before the market collapsed... before Wall Street was virtually bankrupt... before Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson conned Congress into $787 billion in bailouts... warned before Obama's 2008 election.

So who is this granola-crunching hippie/commie who cites Naomi Klein and disses Reagonomics? His bio at the site tells us that Paul B. Ferrell is "the author of nine books on personal finance, economics and psychology, including 'The Millionaire Code,' 'The Winning Portfolio,' 'The Lazy Person's Guide to Investing.' Farrell was an investment banker with Morgan Stanley; executive vice president of the Financial News Network; executive vice president of Mercury Entertainment Corp; and associate editor of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner" -- i.e., a capitalist in the purest sense of the word.

Here in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker wants to raise taxes on the poor, not long after he pushed through $100 million new spending and tax giveaways that mostly benefit the wealthy and corporations. Having given away the store, Walker suddenly declared a huge budget emergency that called for draconian cuts to everything from water safety to recycling programs. And, of course, programs that help the poor and middle class. In addition to the big tax hike families in need would face, they'll also to pay more for healthcare, as the state slashes Medicaid spending. Meanwhile, the state has hot and cold running corporate welfare. Never in history has "shared sacrifice" involved so little sharing of so much sacrifice.

In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott shares Walker's vision of a corporate paradise built by taking from teachers to give to the rich. In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam wants to cut higher education and the state's TennCare program, which helps cover the uninsured -- all to fund a private, for-profit prison.

But the worst is in Michigan, where the state has declared virtual economic martial law and the legislature has given the governor the power to overturn elections and turn local governments over to private concerns. This is the Republican love of privatization taken to its most extreme; privatize literally everything, up to and including the mayor's office, the school board, and the police and fire departments. On the bright side, it's impossible for me to believe that even our current Supreme Court would find this constitutional.

These are all examples. An exhaustive list would be exhaustive in every sense of the word -- it would probably take me a sleepless week to track it all down and put it all together. Suffice it to say that, no matter where you are, there's probably a Republican who's either taking something away from you to give to someone who doesn't need it or a Republican who wants to so badly they can taste it. Farrell and Buffett cast all of this as a war, but I have a better word for it: a heist.

This is all stuff you own. This is all stuff you paid for. This is all stuff you worked for. And it's being given away to the Republicans' wealthy donors. State by state, district by district, city by city, the nation is being disassembled and given away -- not even sold off -- by ideologues and economic flatearthers and straight-out crooks. I guarantee, what was lost so casually won't be regained as easily.

And when the smoke clears, you won't have a damned thing to show for it, other than the constant reassurances that you're living in a free market Utopia and it'll all work out great -- eventually. All you have to do is keep voting Republican, so they can keep giving all your stuff away.



News Roundup for 3/23/11

1st birthday cake
Happy Birthday, Obamacare!

-Headline of the day-
"Poll: One Year On, Most Favor Health Care Law or Wish It Was More Liberal."

Huzzah! The healthcare reform law is now one year old -- happy birthday, healthcare law!

Unfortunately, most Americans hate the law with the burning passion of a thousand hating suns -- boo, healthcare law!

Except, we don't. CNN ran a birthday poll and found that, yeah, it's not the most popular thing in the world. According to Dave Weigel, "There's never been a point when most people approved of the health care law in CNN's poll -- the closest they came was in December 2010, when 43 percent approved of it and 54 percent opposed it. The overall approval number has fallen to 37 percent, its lowest level, leaving it almost unchanged from the number at the time of passage."

However, through the magic of math, we learn that the big thing holding it back is that it didn't go far enough. If you break down the number of people opposed to the law, you see that 46% want it gone because it's too liberal, while 13% don't like it because it's not liberal enough. So, add that 13% to the 37% who think it's fine as it is and you've got 50% who either think healthcare reform is fine as it is or who think it should go farther, as opposed to 46% who don't like anything about it.

Shoulda went with that public option or even singlepayer. That's all I'm saying. (Weigel)

-Feel the love-
CNN's been on a polling bender today. In addition to getting a handle on how people feel about healthcare reform, they also took a look at how people feel about the words "President Trump." Long story short, healthcare reform is more popular. By a country mile.

According to the report, The Donald "would just barely crack double digits in the crowded field of potential GOP candidates," but -- good news! -- his run "could hurt former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin." Apparently, the stupid people are torn.

Trump scores an anemic 10%, while Sarah pulls a slightly less sickly 12%. But remove Trump from the equation and Palin shoots up to a towering 13%.

In other words, if the thought of a "Pres. Palin" or "Pres. Trump" is keeping you up at night, you can knock off the worrying and get some sleep. (CNN)

-Bonus HotD-
"Gingrich Criticized Obama For Not Intervening In Libya, But Now Criticizes Him For Intervening In Libya."

Of course he does... (ThinkProgress)

Impeaching Obama Over Libya -- An Incorrect Solution to the Wrong Problem

As much as I like Dennis Kucinich, I've got to disagree with him -- the president not only shouldn't be impeached over what amounts to an undeclared war in Libya, but he can't be impeached for it. Rep. Kucinich is just barking up the wrong tree here.

[Talking Points Memo:]

KucinichA number of Democratic and Republican lawmakers are concerned about the White House's air assault on Libya, but Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) raised the rhetoric to 11 on Monday, suggesting President Obama should be impeached.

"President Obama moved forward without Congress approving. He didn't have Congressional authorization, he has gone against the Constitution, and that's got to be said," Kucinich said in an interview with Raw Story. "It's not even disputable, this isn't even a close question. Such an action -- that involves putting America's service men and women into harm's way, whether they're in the Air Force or the Navy -- is a grave decision that cannot be made by the president alone."

Change "cannot be made" to "should not be made" and he's got a point. The president should not have the power to wage war alone. But the fact is that he does and, if Kucinich wants to remove that power, he'd be much better off suing the president. Impeachment will never even get off the launch pad, but a suit challenging the law giving the president the power may very well strike that law down.

At issue is the War Powers Resolution, more commonly referred to as the War Powers Act, which gives the president the power to wage war first and get congressional approval for it later.

Specifically, the resolution allows the president to order military action and report that action to congress within forty-eight hours -- something the president has done. This action may then go on for sixty days without congressional approval and, if the approval doesn't come, then the "sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces." So really, ninety-two days altogether, because we know a determined White House can cook up reasons to keep a war going for the additional month.

So, if Obama went beyond that ninety-two-day window on his own, then you'd have an impeachable crime. As it is now, Obama is simply obeying the law. Legally, the constitutionality of that law is a moot point, since it hasn't been challenged in court. Unless it's struck down -- even if it's plainly unconstitutional -- it is enforceable law and the president can't be faulted (at least, not in a legal sense) for obeying it. Impeachment calls for "high crimes and misdemeanors" on the part of the president and, while the definition of "high" may be up for grabs, the definition of "crimes and misdemeanors" can -- and should -- be assumed to include actual breaches of law.

Which is why I suggest a court challenge to the law itself. Article one, section eight of the US Constitution gives congress, not the president, the power to "declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water." Then-President Richard Nixon vetoed the resolution over constitutional concerns, but the veto was overridden by congress. As it stands now, it is law. And wishing things were otherwise does not make them so. A court can strike it down or congress can repeal it. This congress, with one chamber made up of war-happy militarists, would never repeal it. Having the courts declare it unconstitutional seems like the only realistic route. Unfortunately, this Supreme Court is way too comfortable with expanded executive powers, but maybe the fact that it's Obama's actions, not Bush's, that are being questioned will knock the wind out of their judicial activist sails.

So, are Obama's actions in Libya illegal and Bush-like in any other sense? Not if you ask middle east expert Juan Cole. Cole spells out ten key differences between Iraq and Libya, laying out real world legal, diplomatic, and humanitarian reason for the no-fly zone. Cole is definitely not a foreign policy hawk, so his arguments are clear-eyed and persuasive. In any case, it's clear that this is not Iraq all over again.

No matter how you feel about military action in Libya (and for myself, I'm torn -- even more so after reading Juan Cole's piece), seeking impeachment means following a dead end street that leads in the wrong direction anyway. Even if it was possible and was ultimately successful, the underlying problem --the War Powers Resolution -- would still exist and another president would eventually use it. The problem isn't the president, the problem is the law.

That law has to go, not the president obeying it.



News Roundup for 3/22/11

Movie still of cheesy monster rising from ocean
Return of the Oil Monster

-Headline of the day-
"Oil Spill Washes Up On Louisiana Coast As New Drilling Authorized."

According to the report, "emulsified oil, oil mousse and tar balls from an unknown source were washing up on beaches from Grand Isle to West Timbalier Island along the Gulf of Mexico, a stretch of about 30 miles." Wait, "oil mousse" is a thing?

This follows an earlier report that what appeared to be an oil plume -- coincidentally 30 miles long -- was spotted in the Gulf of Mexico. But don't worry, said the Coast Guard, it was just "goop" kicked up by dredging and that no one should worry about it. They say they tested the plume and found "only trace amounts of petroleum that were well below the state of Louisiana's standard for clean water."

"Goop" is apparently also a thing.

So, is it oil or isn't it? If it isn't, then where did all this oil mousse come from?

Whatever... Spill baby, spill! (ThinkProgress)

-Like we don't have enough to worry about-
Super-ultra-mega-church pastor and general all-around rightwing nutjob Rick Joyner has a warning for America -- the earthquake in Japan will "unleash demonic Nazism" on us.

See, it works like this: "the demonic principalities responsible for Nazism in Germany were going to attempt to take over the United States and, according to the prophetic visions of Joyner and others, it would happen amid a massive economic collapse that would start with an earthquake in Japan. As such, given the devastation caused by this earthquake, Japan will need to call in the American debt to rebuild their nation, unleashing an economic catastrophe in the US and thereby opening the door for this demonic Nazi force to take root."

Yeah, absolutely none of that made any damned sense to me, either. But don't worry, when none of this stuff actually happens, his flock won't notice. Followers of con men never do. (Right Wing Watch, with video)

-Bonus HotD-
"Sexism Is Alive And Well At National Review."

And that's the least surprising item of the day... (Media Matters)

Scott Walker, History, and Wisconsin

Running kind of late today, so instead of a morning post -- morning being a lost cause at this point -- I point you to a New York Times op-ed by UW professor of history, geography and environmental studies William Cronon about Scott Walker, Wisconsin's progressive history, and how the two are totally at odds.

It's worth reading the whole piece, but here's the meat:

Scott Walker is not Joe McCarthy. Their political convictions and the two moments in history are quite different. But there is something about the style of the two men -- their aggressiveness, their self-certainty, their seeming indifference to contrary views -- that may help explain the extreme partisan reactions they triggered. McCarthy helped create the modern Democratic Party in Wisconsin by infuriating progressive Republicans, imagining that he could build a national platform by cultivating an image as a sternly uncompromising leader willing to attack anyone who stood in his way. Mr. Walker appears to be provoking some of the same ire from adversaries and from advocates of good government by acting with a similar contempt for those who disagree with him.

If you need another view, UW law professor Ann Althouse has a conservative rebuttal. But I think she's kind of missing the point. She argues that Ronald Reagan was as influential in Wisconsin politics as anyone. And, yes, Wisconsin went Reagan in 1980 and 1984, but that was the last time the state went Republican in a presidential election. "Cronon says McCarthy 'helped create the modern Democratic Party,'" Althouse writes, "but Reagan's role in creating the modern Republican Party is even more dramatic."

Maybe, but the subject is Wisconsin. There doesn't seem to be a lot of lasting Reagan influence here -- except in Scott Walker's fantasies, where he worships a Reagan who didn't actually exist. It's St. Reagan the Imaginary -- the talk radio version of Reagan -- who Althouse is talking about and who Walker reveres. His influence in this state has historically been minimal.



News Roundup for 3/21/11

Get a brain, morans!
Not atypical

-Headline of the day-
"How Dumb Are We?"

Pretty darn dumb. Some of us, anyway. See Newsweek asked a bunch of people questions from the US Citizenship test -- you know, the quiz that immigrants have to take to become citizens. Turns out that, at this point in time, 38% of natural born citizens wouldn't qualify for citizenship if they had to apply for it.

According to the report, "29 percent couldn't name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn't correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn't even circle Independence Day on a calendar."

And the thing is, the test isn't really all that hard. In order to pass, you only need to answer six questions correctly -- out of one hundred. That's right, you only need to score 6% and 38% couldn't even do that.

Which goes a long way toward explaining what's wrong with our political landscape these days; people who don't know shit have opinions. The report uses our current budget debate as an example, pointing out that a "2010 World Public Opinion survey found that Americans want to tackle deficits by cutting foreign aid from what they believe is the current level (27 percent of the budget) to a more prudent 13 percent. The real number is under 1 percent. A Jan. 25 CNN poll, meanwhile, discovered that even though 71 percent of voters want smaller government, vast majorities oppose cuts to Medicare (81 percent), Social Security (78 percent), and Medicaid (70 percent). Instead, they prefer to slash waste -- a category that, in their fantasy world, seems to include 50 percent of spending, according to a 2009 Gallup poll."

And people wonder how outfits like Fox News can pull the wool over people's eyes so often. The wool's already there, all they do is style it. (Newsweek)

-Trying hard to be offended-
If there's one thing I know about Michelle Malkin, it's that if there's any way to become offended by something, she'll be offended by it. It's like her hobby.

So imagine how outraged Shelly got when she learned that NPR's comedy quiz Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me deeply insulted her family and her heritage. During a regular segment, contestants are given several news stories -- only one of which is true -- and are then asked which one was real. Unfortunately, the Malkin family made an appearance:

Conservative commentator and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin has expressed her fear that there are Muslims amongst us who are hiding their true identity. The most prominent, she claims, being Barack Obama. However, when she set out to find proof of these undercover Muslims, she found more than she bargained for.
It turns out that there are, indeed, some Muslims hiding their identity to fly under the radar. The most pertinent one for Malkin being her own grandfather.

Yes, Grandpa Malkin, who is from the Philippines but lives with Michelle's parents, had not told the family about his religion for fear of being ostracized and thrown out. "Do you know how hard it is to pray five times a day when your family doesn't know?"

"I had to excuse myself to the bathroom every time I wanted to pray."

"And the ham dinners, don't get me started on the ham dinners."

Malkin was in shock when her grandfather revealed his true identity to her. He explained that he had been closeted Muslim for too long and it was time for him to live his life and be happy with himself. Malkin used the revelation to confirm her argument that Muslims are taking over. First they wanted the youth, and now they’re going after my grandfather? My 90-year-old grandfather? This is sick.

Needless to say, this is the worst thing ever! And it doesn't help that the guy saying all of the lies is a Muslim comedian!

She then goes on to fact-check the piece -- which was revealed later in the show to be untrue anyway -- because NPR is liberal and is trying to get people to think she's a Muslim!

A comedy bit which admits to being untrue must not be allowed to sully Shelly's reputation like that. It simply must be answered.

Preferably, with copious amounts of completely unwarranted outrage. The perpetually offended and infinitely aggrieved teabagging masses who read her blog expect no less. (Michelle Malkin)

-Bonus HotD-
"Scott Walker Touts His Union-Busting Agenda As 'Progressive'."

I guess that makes him a commie then. All you wingnuts have to stop loving him now.

Sorry, those are the rules. I don't make them up. (ThinkProgress)

Republicans Repeal the Existence of Climate Change

Retro researcherGlobal warming is just some crap scientists made up to get that sweet, sweet grant money, right? Never mind that this money goes to the research, not the scientists themselves, so researchers would have nothing to gain here; it's obvious (to Republicans, at least) that scientists are pulling a hoax to get grant money, which allows them to spend their days researching something that doesn't exist. I guess because it's fun.

Well, the gravy train stops here. The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday voted climate change out of existence. Problem solved. Add it to the other huge problems facing our nation that the GOP is working hard to solve, like the microscopic fraction of federal money spent on NPR or making sure the words "In God We Trust" are plastered over every blank square inch of America. You know, all that important "fiddling while Rome burns" stuff.

[Sean Pool, ClimateProgress:]

House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee demonstrated their commitment to science denial yesterday by unanimously voting down three separate amendments offered by Democrats to reaffirm basic facts about climate science. They then unanimously voted to pass the Upton-Inhofe bill to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific endangerment finding on greenhouse pollution.

Let's be clear. Congress should not attempt to make scientific decisions. The role of Congress is to take the best science and use it to make the best possible policy. The three amendments rejected unanimously by committee Republicans each lays out a fairly basic statement about generally accepted climate science.

Pool makes a good point when he writes, "Congress should not attempt to make scientific decisions." Michele Bachmann is not the person who should be designing docking clamps for the international space station, for example. We hire people to do that. People who know what the hell they're talking about. Scientists advise government, by supplying people in government with facts. When government decides to ignore those facts, things don't go very well.

At this point, it probably pays to point out that -- worldwide -- the American Republican Party is the only major political party that denies the existence, importance, and severity of global climate change. This is less "fiddling while Rome burns" and more "whistling past the graveyard." Dealing with climate change will be a big effort -- growing bigger the longer we put it off -- and, unless it's war, Republicans don't go in for big things. Change is antithetical to the Republican mind, which is why the only changes they actually support involve changing things back to the way they used to be. Undoing regulations, striking down Roe v. Wade, returning America to the pre-organized labor days -- all cornerstones of GOP philosophy and all involving disassembly. New things are not their friends and the old, pre-progress world -- as bad as the sexism, racism, and other bigotries were back then -- is always preferable to today.

So global warming must be a hoax, cooked up by Al Gore and crazy environmentalists to soak up that sweet, sweet grant money. Ask any conservative; back in the seventies, scientists used to worry that the Earth was cooling -- now they've pulled a 180 and are saying it's warming! Pffft! Silly scientists...

Except, that's not exactly true. Here's part of a Frank Capra short from 1958.

So, we can safely assume that roughly five decades of research is all wrong. Why? Because it's not good news for fossil fuel industries. We could be creating new jobs, new technologies, new industries, and new markets -- but only at the expense of old jobs, old technologies, old industries, and old markets. It's metaphor I've used more than once, but the Republican Party is in the hip pocket of the buggywhip industry. Technology must not be allowed to move beyond the horse-draw carriage, because no one will buy buggywhips anymore and that means economic catastrophe for the United States.

I think at this point, it's clear that the Republican Party has no interest in solving any problems. As Paul Krugman pointed out recently, they've completely lost interest in unemployment and jobs. Much more important is fighting pointless, doomed political battles based entirely on ideology and zero facts. Need a job? Hey, we'll defund NPR for you. That ought to help. Never mind that it'll never go anywhere or that it's just a bone to please the teabagger base and the rightwing blogosphere.

And jobs and the green energy sector? Who needs them? We can all make buggywhips. You just wait and see -- when the rest of the world realizes that all this global warming stuff is hooey, they'll come crawling to us looking for coal. Because all those wind turbines and solar cells -- all made anywhere but the United States -- will magically stop working, I guess.



A Setback for the Walker Administration's Union-Busting

When Gov. Walker's union busting bill was passed by the state legislature and signed into law, there was only one thing standing in the way -- Secretary of State Doug La Follette. The law would need to be published by the office of Sec. La Follette and the Secretary decided he'd publish it at the latest date allowable by law, which was ten days after signing.

This was, apparently, nothing new. "I'm doing what I normally do," he explained to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which was publish the law at the latest possible date, in order for opponents to have a chance to file legal challenges. La Follette estimated at the time that this was the case with 96% of the bills that come through his office. If it's not an emergency, it cools off for a bit.

It turned out to be a good practice today, as a judge put a halt to implementation of the law:

[Wisconsin State Journal:

A Dane County judge Friday issued a temporary order blocking implementation of Gov. Scott Walker's controversial measure limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees, saying a legislative committee likely violated the state Open Meetings Law when it rushed passage of the bill March 9.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued the order around 10:30 a.m. in a lawsuit brought by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.

Of course, Rep. Peter Barca tried to warn Republicans that this was coming.

As you can see, they ignored his warning. Wisconsin law requires twenty-four hour notice be given prior to this sort of a vote, with an exception made for emergency legislation -- which still has to have a two hour warning. Even if you could argue that banning collective bargaining constituted an "emergency" -- and it's extremely difficult to see how you'd do that -- Republicans were in such a rush to get this done that they published notice one hour and fifty-five minutes before the meeting took place.

The moral of this story, children, is if you're going to skirt the law, stick as closely as possible to the absolute minimum requirements of that law.

So, what happens now? There seem to be two possibilities; the Walker administration fights this in court or the legislature gives twenty-four hour notice and votes all over again.

In the first case, the outcome isn't exactly guaranteed and -- at this point at least -- seems to lean against Republicans. In the second... Well, that's probably less foreseeable than you'd first imagine.

See, it's because of this bill that eight Republican senators are facing possible recall elections and it's because of this bill that as many as three to five of them could lose their seats. This whole "bust the unions" thing is what got them in hot water in the first place -- now you want them to do it again? Nuh-uh, buddy. If three Republicans bail on the law or even skip the vote, the whole thing goes down.

I suspect that one of the reasons why they originally had to vote on it now, now, now, now, now was that a few GOP senators were wobbly and in danger of tipping over. It was reported as a sudden, surprise vote to the absent Democrats, but I think it also might have come as a surprise to more than one Republican. Republican leadership wanted to get the vote done while every one of their caucus was still on paper as a supporter.

If I'm right -- and granted, this is all deduction, not fact -- then the votes won't be there this time around. The only way I can be proven wrong is if a re-vote is scheduled and the bill passes again -- and it doesn't sound like anyone's extremely confident of that.

"This legislation is still working through the legal process," a spokesperson for Gov. Walker said in a statement. "We are confident the provisions of the budget repair bill will become law in the near future." A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald declined to comment, calling it "an ongoing legal issue."

So, it seems a legislative fix has been ruled out for now. It is strictly a legal issue. The window of opportunity for passing this dog of a bill seems to have closed.



News Roundup for 3/17/11

Lucky the Leprechaun
Probably doesn't hate gays

-Headline of the day-
"Irish Minister Criticizes NYC St. Pat's Parade."

Who's more Irish than New York City? Boston and Ireland, that's who. And it was some Irish guy who was hating on the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC yesterday.

According to the report, "Irish foreign minister Eamon Gilmore criticized the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade for its ban on LGBT groups, saying, 'Exclusion is not an Irish thing.'"

"What these parades are about is a celebration of Ireland and Irishness," he told the Irish-American outlet Irish Voice. "I think they need to celebrate Ireland as it is, not as people imagine it. Equality is very much the center of who we are in our identity in Ireland."

So less about the guy on the Lucky Charms box and more about actual Ireland. Got it. As a side note, there's absolutely no evidence that the guy on the Lucky Charms box hates gays either. (The Advocate)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, you wonder how the nuclear crisis in Japan is changing things here in America? Me too! Let's have a look and see. Yay!

Click for animation

OK, so it didn't change anything... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Maine GOP Gov. Paul LePage Stole Candy From Children, Wants To Undo Child Labor Laws."

Today's GOP, looking out for you. (ThinkProgress)

Raw Chicken Sandwiches are More Popular

Sarah Palin and Charlie Sheen
Call it "Adventures in Random Polling." Turns out there's some really bad news for Sarah Palin on the public opinion front.

[Public Policy Polling:]

We've found a lot of brutal poll numbers for Sarah Palin so far in 2011: down in South Dakota, down in South Carolina, down in Arizona, only up by 1 point in Texas, only up by 1 point in Nebraska to name a few. But this has to be the worst -- independent voters say they would support Charlie Sheen over Palin for President by a 41/36 margin. Seriously.

Despite her deficit with independents Palin does lead Sheen 49-29 overall. We also tested Barack Obama against Sheen and the President leads 57-24.

"Sheen is one of the most unpopular figures we've ever polled on," PPP reports. "10% of Americans rate him favorably to 67% with a negative opinion of him." She's toxic with Democrats, less popular than Charlie Sheen among indies, and even Republicans are beginning to get a little tired of her.

[Washington Post:]

Sarah Palin's ratings within the Republican Party are slumping, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, a potentially troubling sign for the former Alaska governor as she weighs whether to enter the 2012 presidential race.

For the first time in Post-ABC News polling, fewer than six in 10 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents see Palin in a favorable light, down from a stratospheric 88 percent in the days after the 2008 Republican National Convention and 70 percent as recently as October.

But wait, here comes the bad news for the GOP:

In one sense, the poll still finds Palin near the top of a list of eight potential contenders for the GOP nomination. The former vice presidential candidate scores a 58 percent favorable rating, close to the 61 percent for former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and 60 percent for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, and better than the 55 percent that onetime House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) received.

So, in the primary, she's still a viable candidate. Throw in Judd Gregg's brokered convention scenario (which, frankly, I think should be taken with a grain of salt) and Palin could be the nominee. Even if she's not, she's a brutal campaigner and a tight race would probably wound the eventual nominee. Meanwhile, polling across party lines shows what I've been saying for a while now -- she's on her sixteenth minute of fame and she's on her way to doing whatever it is Dan Quayle's doing right now.

At this point in time, it's simply impossible to see how Sarah Palin has any path to the White House, Another spin as the vice presidential candidate, maybe. But with these numbers, even that seems doubtful. And a cabinet position? As what? The Secretary of Boy-Howdyisms? She has no special experience in anything.

But what's probably the worst for the Republican Party is her fans (at this point, you can't really call them backers. They're simply people drawn to her rapidly fading celebrity). The live in opposite-world and every time she screws up or gets criticized, they dig in deeper, plant their feet, and cry "leave Britney Sarah alone!" The worse off she is, the harder these people try. If you thought Hillary Clinton's Pumas were the winners of the "we won't accept the primary results" contest, wait until you get a look at the Mama Grizzlies. They live in a paranoid culture of victimhood, where every bit of bad press, every wobble in the polls, every offhand remark is part of a huge conspiracy to destroy Sarah Palin. See, everyone in power is supposedly "afraid" of her.

The best case scenario for the Republican Party is that Palin simply decides against running -- a decision that wouldn't surprise me at all. But, if she determines that staying out deflates what's left of her celebrity, she may just go ahead and run a campaign -- just to keep her brand alive.

And, at this point, that would be courting disaster for her party.



Nuclear Plants Run on Tax Dollars

Nuke plant leaking moneyYesterday, I wrote that any new nuclear plants in the US would likely be shoddy. "Take an industry that needs government assistance to survive, add government spending cuts, mix in a whole bunch of deregulation, and you've got a half-assed nuclear facility," I wrote. "This is the way we do things in the new Republican reality -- half-assed, all the way, every time."

We have a Republican party fixated on spending cuts -- to the point where they want to cut funding for tsunami preparedness and have mocked volcano monitoring as an absurd waste of money. They've got deregulation fever, meaning a hands-off approach to industry. And it'd be tough to find one who gave a crap about the environment. So a half-assed nuclear industry it would be, if Republicans had their way.

Over at ThinkProgress, Jeff Spross posts a video demonstrating the GOP's rhetoric on nuclear safety prior to the events in Japan. Not only is it enlightening, but it backs up my argument -- that, for Republicans, "half-assed" and "adequate" are synonymous.

McCain comes out the worst here. In a debate, he dismisses concerns about nuclear safety as an "extreme environmentalist" position. At a campaign event, he portrays it as gibberish, summing up safety concerns as "blah, blah, blah." Like it or not, Republicans are always going to be in American politics and Republicans are sometimes going to be in power. The very existence of the GOP in America is reason enough to believe that safe nuclear power is completely impossible here.

While the average person probably has a healthier respect for the inherent health and environmental risks involved with nuclear generation than your average Republican, it's not very likely that they know the monetary risks involved. Nuclear power has historically been a boondoggle, costing taxpayers and ratepayers tremendous amounts of money.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the nuclear industry was quietly bailed out after what was called "'the largest managerial disaster in business history." See, investors aren't interested in nuclear plants, because they're incredibly expensive. As a result, the return on the investment is very slow in coming -- it takes a long time for a plant to begin to pay for itself. So the US government offers loan guarantees. All this means taxpayers are on the hook if the companies just walk away when everything becomes too expensive -- which is exactly what happened.

"Nuclear power plants abandoned by their sponsors cost the nation almost $50 billion in today's dollars, according to a 1992 study by economists Charles Komanoff and Cora Roelofs," the Union of Concerned Scientists found in 2009. "Specifically, the 100 nuclear plants canceled from 1972 to 1982 cost about $10 billion. Fifteen more plants canceled in 1983 and 1984 added $11 billion to that figure. And more cancellations after 1984 (such as of Washington Public Power Supply System's Units 1 and 3 in 1985) may have added another $4 billion. Together, these costs total $25 billion, or $40 billion to $50 billion in 2006 dollars."

In the end, ratepayers and taxpayers "bore as much as one-half to three-quarters of the costs of these abandoned plants."

And what if one of the new, half-assed nuke plants does what you'd expect a half-assed nuke plant to do? Thanks to liability caps, it could cost taxpayers billions.

[National Journal:]

An American nuclear power-plant accident similar to the ongoing disaster in Japan would leave taxpayers on the hook for billions, and perhaps hundreds of billions, of dollars in health and economic damage claims, risk experts estimate.

Federal law puts most nuclear-accident liability on the shoulders of taxpayers, but regulators have not enforced safety standards vigorously enough to fully safeguard against those risks, economists Geoffrey Heal and Howard Kunreuther wrote in a 2009 paper that warned of excessive taxpayer exposure to the risks of nuclear catastrophe.

Heal, a professor at Columbia University, and Kunreuther, of the Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, acknowledge that the risks and costs of a nuclear accident in the United States are difficult to quantify. But they say that the upper-end damage estimates of a full core meltdown are almost "unimaginable."

So, we bail them out right at the start with loan guarantees and tax incentives. We bail them out if they don't make enough money and quit. We bail them out if the whole thing goes up in a nuclear disaster. Is there any point where we wouldn't bail the industry out? Not that I can find. Like most things involving big money in America these days, the profits are private and the risk is public. Put another way, the profits are privatized, while the losses are socialized -- they always take the money, you always take the hit.

And, to top it all off, one party of two is completely uninterested in regulation, environmental protection, or infrastructure spending, practically guaranteeing lax oversight and weak regulation at some point.

Does any of this sound like a good idea?