News Roundup for 6/30/11

"It's almost impossible to break campaign finance laws you say?
Challenge accepted"

-Headline of the Day-
"Johnson $10M Payday Could Raise Red Flags For IRS."

When Ron Johnson spent $9 million to win Russ Feingold's senate seat, people saw it as evidence that wealthy frootloops could just buy senate seats with self-funded campaigns. Thank God that's not true. It turns out that Johnson's plastics company, Pacur, bought the seat for him. And Ron came out $1 million ahead after all the smoke had cleared.

According to the report, Ron "received a $10 million payment in deferred compensation from his former plastics company, Pacur, weeks after his $9 million self-financed 2010 campaign for Senate came to an end." Not surprisingly, this is bad. Even with the Citizens United ruling, corporations still can't give corporate money directly to political candidates.

So Johnson found a way to break an election law in an era when there are virtually no election laws.

What an innovator. (Talking Points Memo)

-Cartoon Time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, you know how your parents don't like those violent video games? Now you can tell them to shut up and that the Supreme Court agrees with you! Yay!

Supreme Slaughter
Click for animation

Remember kids, boobs = bad and 7.62mm minigun = good! (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Outside FEC, Stephen Colbert Says His 'Super PAC' Is No Joke."

Still, check out the video of his announcement for the yuks anyway. (Talking Points Memo, with video)

The Deficit isn't Caused by Jets Alone

Private jetI'm not sure what to think. On Monday, The Hill ran a piece reporting the White House had basically caved on the Bush tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans.

The White House, seeking an agreement to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2, on Monday said it would not insist that any deal include an end to former President George W. Bush’s controversial tax rates on the wealthy.

President Obama's tactics are coming into focus as he huddles with congressional leaders to try and break the deadlock on increasing the debt ceiling.

Before a meeting Monday between Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), White House officials said the president would push to close tax breaks for major oil and gas companies; end tax loopholes for corporate jets; and impose regular income tax rates on the carried interest earned by investment fund managers.

And, at a press conference yesterday, he called for just that. "If we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we keep the tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we've got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship," the president said. "That means we have to stop funding certain grants for medical research. That means that food safety may be compromised. That means that Medicare has to bear a greater part of the burden. These are the choices we have to make."

"More broadly, Obama stopped just short of saying he would not accept a final deficit deal without a high end tax hike," Greg Sargent wrote at the previous link. "But his presser made it clear that he will will relitigate this fight and make it central to the campaign. And while we should keep in mind that Obama did ultimately cut a deal on the high-end tax cuts last time around, those who are hoping he will continue to make a strong moral argument in favor of ending them should be pleased by what they heard."

Really? I should? Ending tax subsidies for Big Oil would be great, but will ending a tax credit for corporate jets actually do anything? I mean, how much can that possibly be? Sure, it's nice to hear the president "make a strong moral argument" against our tremendously unfair tax code, but wouldn't it be even better to suggest targets that would actually even things out a little bit?

It's easy to single out fatcats in corporate jets -- mostly because they do deserve to pay more. But they deserve to pay a lot more. Our current economy situation is largely the fault of bankers and corporate execs, yet any move toward leveling of the tax burden is always symbolic.

Here's hoping that Obama abandoned seeking an end to the high-end tax cuts only as a way to get a deal on the debt limit. Here's hoping he goes into the campaign for reelection calling for an end to the free ride for the super-rich. Here's hoping he continues to call for shifting the tax burden back to those who can afford it and away from working people.

But as he does, here's hoping he means it.



News Roundup for 6/29/11

Max Schreck in Nosferatu
Rudy Giuliani

-Headline of the Day-
"Giuliani Breaks Promise To Legally Gay Marry His Gay Roommates."

That is, perform the ceremony, not gay-marry them both as a third wheel.

See, when Rudy got kicked out by his wife for having an affair, Giuliani moved in with these two nice gay fellas. This was before being panicked over marriage equality had become the big fashion among national GOP leaders.

So Rudy, not being a complete asshole, said that if same sex marriage ever became legal in New York, he'd perform the marriage -- I guess he can do that. The report tells us that "all mayors of New York have the curious legal authority to perform marriages both during and forever after their term of office."

And guess what? Same sex marriage just became legal in NY. So the two nice gay fellas decided it was time to look Rudy up. However, according to the report, the guy called Giuliani and has become "distressed that his former house guest hasn't returned the many calls he began making before the legislation was passed last week."

That doesn't seem very appreciative of Giuliani, does it? (Wonkette)

-Wind power could destroy the world-
The scary thing about this is that it's only about one degree wide of reality.

I especially like the brainlessly gullible talking heads -- "Oh my God, kids could drink that water and get wind in their brains!" (The Onion, via ThinkProgress)

-Bonus HotD-
"Sarah Palin Blasts Hollywood Stars as 'Full of Hate' at Movie Premiere."

And then the universe collapsed under the weight of her hypocrisy. (Hollywood Reporter)
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Truth? There is No Truth

What the hell is wrong with Republican voters? That's a question I've asked myself again and again and have yet to come up with a satisfying answer. It's as if reality has no meaning for them and they believe the universe is a big chunk of clay, waiting to be molded into whatever they want it to be. Even history means nothing -- just words on a page that can be edited to fit new narratives. We in the reality-based community are stuck in our slavish devotion to perceiving things as they actually are, while conservatives seem to see themselves of free from everything. Everything, that is, but a rigid ideology that runs contrary to most of those pesky facts. Science is the enemy. Math is the enemy. History textbooks are the enemy. The media is the enemy. If it disagrees with the ideology, it is the enemy.

Consider, for example, Minnesota Representative and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Despite being a noticeably low-wattage bulb, she's become a bona fide possibility for the GOP nomination. Public Policy Polling finds that if Sarah Palin doesn't run, Bachmann "will pretty instantaneously vault to co-front runner status with Mitt Romney, provided she can continue her current momentum" and Gallup reports that she "finds herself in a relatively positive position among Republicans as she begins her formal campaign."

Granted, most of this polling was done before Bachmann had a rough few days of seemingly constant gaffes, but gaffes are what she does. A combination of serial liar and ignoramus, none of what's been making headlines for her lately can come as a real surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the woman.

And this is what's so perplexing to me; despite all her shortcomings, many Republican voters seem to believe she's flawless. Maybe it's because she hits all the talk radio buzzwords and talking points, but when Michele Bachmann flubs it, she doesn't really flub it -- reality is the culprit. And it must be corrected.


In light of Bachmann’s latest historical hiccup, people are trying to edit John Quincy Adam’s Wikipedia page to reflect her recent gaffe. One edit, for example, changes his description from "John Adams was the sixth President of the United States" to "John Adams, a founding father, was the sixth President of the United States."

They did the same for Sarah Palin, editing Paul Revere's entry to have him firing warning shots and warning the British. When a conservative celebrity blows it, it's not their fault -- history is wrong and must be corrected.

The reasons for this particular insanity are less important than the consequences. Because these lunatics are who we're supposed to be meeting halfway in any compromise. As I always say, when you meet someone who's crazy halfway, the results are halfway crazy.

As long as fools like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann speak for the Republican Party (and they do, albeit unofficially), then serious compromise is impossible. Real world solutions must be based on real world facts, not on the world as you wish it was. They might like to believe that facts and numbers are no different from opinions, but what they like to think is irrelevant. They are wrong. And it really is that simple.

You can't run a nation with wishful thinking.


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News Roundup for 6/28/11

Bachmann recounts the time Jesus and Abe Lincoln signed the Declaration of Independence, making Sharia law illegal in the US

-Headline of the Day-
"Michele Bachmann Constantly Answering Her Own Questions Wrong."

"If you had to take a test where you also got to make up all the questions, would you probably still answer all of them wrong?" asks Wonkette. "Yes, you would, if you are lunatic Bible-humper Michele Bachmann."

See, PolitiFact checked 24 Shelly Bachmann statements and found that 23 of them were wrong. Among the crazy-assed things she's said; President Obama "released all of the oil from the strategic oil reserve," that John Quincy Adams was a founder, and that the Obama administration has only issued one drilling permit. Add in her expression of admiration for this John Wayne something-or-other from Waterloo, Iowa and you start to get the idea that Shelly and reality aren't real tight.

Keep in mind, these are all statements she made of her own volition. Wonkette wonders, "What if someone tried some 'gotcha' questions on Michele instead, would she accidentally get those right?"

Worth a shot. She couldn't do any worse. (Wonkette)

-Stopping history from happening-

political cartoon
Click to embiggen

-Bonus HotD-
"Pawlenty's Incoherence On Syria: 'Recall Our Ambassador' But Also Use 'Every Diplomatic Channel' To Push Change."

All options should be on the table, but do we really need the table? (ThinkProgress)


News Roundup for 6/27/11

Pat Robertson
Robertson, pictured suffering a brief bout of sanity

-Headline of the day-
"Robertson: God Will Destroy America For Marriage Equality."

Now that the Empire State has fallen to the Homosexual Menace, professional lunatic Pat Robertson says America is doomed. Doomed!

"I think we need to remember the term sodomy came from a town known as Sodom and Sodom was destroyed by God Almighty and the thing that they practiced was homosexual activity and even they tried to rape angels who came down there, so that's the kind of people they were," he said -- so you New Yorkers should probably lay off all that angel rape for a little bit.

"There isn't one single civilization that has survived that openly embraced homosexuality," he went on to say. "So you say, 'what's going to happen to America?' Well if history is any guide, the same thing's going to happen to us." Seems like the Romans had a good thousand year run there and then they went all Christian and -- poof! -- they were gone.

But what do I know? I'm not a history expert like Pat. (Right Wing Watch, with video)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, it's President Obama and he's here to explain how a war can be something that's not a war... Or how a something that is not a war but looks like one can be not a war... Or something. Anyway, here he is. Yay!

Declaration of thingamajig
Click to read full post

Hope that clears everything up! (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Two Wisconsin Agencies Now Investigating Alleged Judge-on-Judge Assault."

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser is in hot water for allegedly trying to strangle another judge -- which is pretty bad. Now the Dane County Sheriff and the state's Judicial Commission are looking into the incident.

CNN however, is not. (ThinkProgress)


News Roundup for 6/17/11

Not inaccurate

-Headline of the day-
"Palin Decision Expected Next Week."

It's totally definite; Sarah Palin is going to announce whether or not she's going to run for president. Our long national nightmare of uncertainty is over!

According to "one Republican source," "Vendors of campaign services who hope to work for Team Palin have been told that Palin, the 2008 GOP vice-presidential candidate, will decide soon one way or another on mounting a 2012 campaign." Which, of course, means that someone from Team Palin called them to tell them exactly that.

But wait! Later in the day, ABC News reported that Palin, via twitter, said no way. "Really? Hmm, guess they forgot to inform me what I'm 'expected to do' next wk," she tweetlepated.

Sounds like a certain attention whore thought America was in danger of going 15 minutes without a headline about her someplace. (American Spectator)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, Little Suzie Newsykins is back. Yay! And she's going to tell us all about... Umm... Well...

Somethingie's not right!
Click for animation

Remember kids, in Washington "outrage" and "distraction" are synonymous. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Public Focused on Economy, Media on Weiner Scandal."

We want news, we get tabloid crap. Typical.

Stay tuned for the latest from the Casey Anthony trial! (Pew Research Center)


News Roundup for 6/15/11

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, all-American boob

-Headline of the day-
"Rorhabacher: Iraqis 'Just Aren't Grateful For What We've Done.'"

Danged ingrates. We make up a story to justify blowing the living shit out of their country, kill countless people, and what thanks do we get? Zip. It's an outrage, I tells ya...

See, all Rep. Dana Rohrabacher wanted from Iraqis was a little recognition -- and a whole lot of dough. We've been blowing up the place for eight years now and Dana wanted to know when Iraqis were going to pay us back for all the ammo and rebuilding and stuff.

So he went to Iraq to ask the Iraqi Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki just that; when are you guys gonna fork over for all we've done for you?

Well, you'd think that Rohrabacher had said something insane, from the way they acted. They told him and a bunch of other Republican congress critters to get the fuck out. No, really. They threw them out of the country -- which we won in a war fair and square.

"We spent a trillion dollars trying to free those people from the Saddam Hussein dictatorship and help them build a more democratic society," he said. "Yet now it seems there is no gratitude on the part of the people who now are in charge of the Iraqi government... They just aren't grateful for what we've done... American people gave their lives, their children, and we expended billions of dollars, which now we're -- is hurting our economy." Here we are throwing lives and money and bullets at this country and what do we get out of the deal? Nothin'.

It's almost as if the whole thing was a big waste of time and money and lives, just like all those hippies said it would be at the beginning.

Damned reality. (ThinkProgress, with video)

-It's just a game...-
A true-life tale of the greatest existential crisis imaginable.

We are a cruel people... (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

-Bonus HotD-
"Al Gore praises Romney on climate."

And thus was Mittens doomed. (Politico)

Wisconsin Ruling Has a Partisan -- And Possibly Corrupt -- Odor

Protesters at Wisconsin Capitol
Something is not right here. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin threw out a lower court's ruling that, in passing Gov. Walker's union-buster, legislative Republicans had violated the state's open meetings law. In doing so, the court cleared the way for the law to take effect -- mere hours away from Republican's arbitrary and self-imposed deadline for passing it themselves.

The problem for Republicans: they didn't have the votes to pass the thing and everyone knew it. In other words, the conservative majority on the court swept in and saved the bill from dying. Something is not right here.

Let's start at the beginning. In March, Senate Republicans stripped a provision that would remove collective bargaining rights for most state employees from the state budget and passed it as a stand-alone bill. They did this because the state's rules require a quorum for passage of all bills that have a fiscal impact and Democrats had famously denied them that quorum by fleeing the state. In order to do this, they had to skirt open meetings laws. They also had to admit that removing collective bargaining was a policy issue with no fiscal impact. This admission was later confirmed by Gov. Walker himself, while testifying under oath in Washington. File this little tidbit away for later.

The violation of the open meetings law was brought before a Dane County judge, who put a restraining order on publishing the law. At this point, the remedy for Republicans was simple; hold another vote with adequate prior notice and pass the bill. There would be nothing Democrats could do on their own to stop it. They simply did not have the numbers. But Republicans didn't reschedule that vote. Apparently, under the pressure of recall elections for some and public opinion for others who weren't eligible for recall, the votes were no longer there. The window of opportunity to pass the bill on an up or down vote had closed. None of this was stated outright, but later actions by Republicans made it obvious.

For example, instead of rescheduling a vote and bypassing Judge Sumi's order, Republicans chose to defy the order. In the end, this didn't work and Republicans were left to wait.

But waiting was too much for them.

[Wisconsin State Journal:]

Assembly Republicans plan to add Gov. Scott Walker's limits on collective bargaining for most public workers to the state budget as soon as Tuesday if the Wisconsin Supreme Court hasn't acted by then.

"If need be, we are going to have to pass collective bargaining again because it is such an integral part of not having those services slashed and those people laid off," Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said of the plan, which is currently held up in court.

Now remember, even the governor himself admitted that union-busting wouldn't save any money and Senate Republicans originally passed it as a policy bill without any fiscal impact. Fitzgerald's claim that people would have to be laid off and services would have to be "slashed" without it was pure BS. There was no emergency that required passing this bill, other than to put the whole thing behind them in the face of upcoming recall elections. The obvious purpose of Fitzgerald's "Now, now, now!" rhetoric was to create a false urgency.

And so the clock ticked toward Fitzgerald's arbitrary deadline. He had basically called his own bluff and would soon have to hold the vote. It would pass the Assembly, but die in the Senate. Of this I have absolutely no doubt. You don't violate a restraining order to do something when you have the votes to do it without controversy and/or scandal. The bill was dying.

Then, rescue.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:]

Acting with unusual speed, the state Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Gov. Scott Walker's controversial plan to end most collective bargaining for tens of thousands of public workers.

The court found that a committee of lawmakers was not subject to the state's open meetings law, and so did not violate that law when it hastily approved the collective bargaining measure in March and made it possible for the Senate to take it up. In doing so, the Supreme Court overruled a Dane County judge who had halted the legislation, ending one challenge to the law even as new challenges are likely to emerge.

Fat officially pulled from the fire. Something is not right here.

The timing, of course, is perfect. The Supreme Court was under no obligation to render a judgement before Fitzgerald's self-imposed and arbitrary deadline. Writing for the majority, even Judge Patrick Crooks admitted to "a hasty decision." Yet here the court was, rushing to beat a clock set by a partisan bluff.

It all seems coordinated. There may be a very big scandal in the pipe. Something is not right here and we are by no means done with this story.



News Roundup for 6/14/11

Newt Gingrich, on a book signing tour where he sold books to Newt Gingrich

-Headline of the day-
"Newt Gingrich Charity Paid Cash To Gingrich For-Profit Business."

If there ever was a presidential campaign in need of a shot in the arm, it's Newt Gingrich's. Newton got that shot today, but it turned out to be poison. Brian Ross's investigative team over at ABC have discover that Gingrich has basically been money laundering.

"The charity, Renewing American Leadership, not only featured Gingrich on its website and in fundraising letters, it also paid $220,000 over two years to one of Gingrich's for-profit companies, Gingrich Communications," the report tells us. "It purchased cases of Gingrich's books and bought up copies of DVDs produced by another of the former House speaker's entities, Gingrich Productions."

If this all sounds familiar to you, it should. Some people never learn -- or, at least, never figure out a different scam to run. (ABC News)

-Speaking of which...-
What will Gingrich's former campaign team be doing now?

Headline - Gingrich team quits, signs with Khadafy
Click for full comic

Good call. (Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"Perry Says GOP Voters Want More Choices."

Like... Oh, I don't know... Someone named "Rick Perry." (Political Wire)

What it Takes to Do Well in a GOP Debate

CNN's debate stage
The first Republican debate is over and it seems the clear winner was Mitt Romney. In fact, National Journal polled political insiders (names at the link) and found 51% of Republican insiders believed Mittens walked away with it. Only 35% of Democrats agreed, but he was the winner among them as well. Among both groups, Michele Bachmann came in second, but I think she benefits from the soft bigotry of low expectations -- she didn't swallow her tongue, claim that the United States was founded to fight communism, or praise President Lincoln's initiative in starting the space program.

So it was Mittens who took the night. The best take on that I've read so far comes from Steve M. at No More Mr. Nice Blog:

...Romney pitches his voice midway between avuncular and angry; his words are pitched the same way. I think he may have a sweet spot: this stuff plays to every Limbaughnista and Fox fan's bitter resentments, but the rest of America has heard this stuff for so many decades -- ever since Reagan, really -- that by now it sounds like harmless common-sense folk wisdom. After all the craziness in the last election cycle, Romney might sound like a return to sanity while promising to do pretty much what the crazy people promised to do. That could work -- and if so, he's really dangerous.

How important is a debate more than a year away from election day? To voters, not very. But that doesn't mean it can't influence the campaign. Nate Silver explains:

First, the debate serves mostly to influence elite opinion -- including partisan strategists, the news media, local party leaders, major donors and bundlers and the candidates and their staffs. Much less so ordinary voters, who are not yet tuning in.

Second, only a couple of themes are liable to remembered days (let alone weeks or months) later. The subtle distinctions that a candidate draws on the differences between their Medicare plan and Representative Paul Ryan's -- that stuff will be forgotten about. Instead, it's the "artistic impression" of the candidates that matters -- as well as any actual, breaking news.

Bachmann got the "breaking news" hook -- somewhat undeservedly, if you ask me -- by revealing that she was officially running for president. In a saner world, this announcement at a presidential debate would be greated with resounding cries of "Well duh!" -- but that saner world is not the one in which TV news talking heads reside.

But the consensus seems to be that, if the Tea Party money men were waiting to see who their frontrunner would be, they found out last night. If Silver's assessment is correct, then expect talk about Herman Cain to begin to evaporate as 'bagger astroturf money lines up behind Bachmann. There's plenty of time to see how that pans out.

What should have people worried is that the debate was dominated by insane horsecrap and pandering. Here's an example, from the woman whose supposedly gaffe-free night got her the runner-up trophy:

"I don't see that it's the role of a president to go into states and interfere with their state laws," said [Rep. Michele] Bachmann, a favorite of Tea Party members who believe in states' rights.

But then, after some other candidates said that they supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, she amended her answer.

"John, I do support a constitutional amendment on marriage between a man and a woman," she told the moderator, John King of CNN, "but I would not be going into the states to overturn their state law."

So she wouldn't overturn same-sex marriage laws in the states, but she would support a federal ban on gay marriage, so long as it didn't ban gay marriage -- which of course it would, what with being a constitutional amendment and all. I'm amazed that more people aren't calling her on this, because it's exactly the sort of frootloopery that Bachmann supposedly masterfully avoided.

Is this how low the bar is set now for Republicans? Michele Bachmann managed to get through the night without hallucinating (or, at least, without anyone being able to tell she was hallucinating) and that counts as a Jeffersonian feat of statesmanship. While I agree with Steve M. that Romney's crazy-man-as-sane-man act is disturbing, it turns out that -- at least as far as the punditry is concerned -- he needn't have bothered. As long as he didn't strangle on his on tie, he'd be the picture of dignity and competence.



News Roundup for 6/13/11

Protester burns a bus
Arkansas Christian edits a bus ad

-Headline of the day-
"Atheists Told To Buy 'Insane Christian' Insurance To Protect Atheist Bus Ads."

A group of Arkansas atheists want to buy some bus ads and turn everyone into godless heathens and probably socialists. So they contacted an ad agency and encountered a little problem -- the agency wants extra money in case someone vandalizes the buses.

The group got an email from the agency that spelled out their worries. "Arkansas is the buckle of the Bible Belt and I can easily envision zealots or upstanding citizens with a strong faith acting out," the email read. Which is weird, because once you start vandalizing buses, the words "upstanding citizens" no longer applies.

The agency and the bus company obviously "trust the atheists in this community more so than the religious," says LeeWood Thomas, the group's spokesman, "otherwise the churches that advertise would have that extra insurance premium added to their total cost."

Whatever, you hellbound wretch. (Wonkette)

Political cartoonist Lee Judge poses an interesting question.

Q - What's the difference between Gingrich & a prostitute? A - There are some things a prostitute won't do
Click to embiggen

It's funny 'cause it's true! (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"After running pizza chain, Cain says he can make foreign policy decisions."

Because it's really just the same thing when you think about it... (Daily Caller)

Polling Suggests Tea Party is Loud, But Not Numerous

Tea Partier with megaphoneThe 2012 presidential campaign begins today, about as officially as it ever will. A presidential debate in New Hampshire tonight features Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Tim Pawlenty. This is by no means the full field. Missing will be John Huntsman -- absent by choice -- and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a Ron Paul clone that event organizers decided "was not viable as a candidate." At this point, neither are Gingrich or Paul, but I guess name recognition earns you some slack.

Going into this, Romney is definitely the candidate to beat. A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll puts Romney at the head of the pack by a fairly respectable margin, beating his closest competitor -- the as yet unannounced Sarah Palin -- 24% to 20%. After that, it's Giuliani with 12% and it just gets sad after that.

Gallup likewise has a poll out and the news for the non-Romneys there is worse. While Mitt's percentage is identical to CNN's findings -- 24% -- everyone else is worse off. Palin only scores 16%.

And the news gets yet worse. Gallup also polled respondents by taking Palin out of the equation. If Sarah Palin decides against running (an extremely likely scenario, in my opinion), the big gainer is Romney. He rises to 27%, easily beating the next in line -- Herman Cain at 10%.

If the Tea Party is the voice of the Republican Party, these results show that it may be a matter of decibels, not numbers. They dominate the conversation by being the loudest and most attention-seeking. But they hate Romney and Romney leads.

I say "may be," because the numbers don't add up decisively for Mittens. If we take all the 'bagger-affiliated candidates from Gallup's numbers (I'm using the rest of the field, minus Huntsman, Johnson, Gingrich, and Santorum -- a little arbitrary, I'll admit), then the 'baggers win -- about 32% to Romney's 27% without Palin. With Palin in the numbers get worse for Romney. Whether or not the fractious Tea Partiers will be able to settle on a single candidate is another story, but right now, Mittens seems to be the establishment candidate and the voice of those who choose not to march around dressed like George Washington carrying poorly spelled signs.

Yet Romney is such a poor candidate. He suffers from a well-deserved reputation as a flip-flopper. Not only in terms of healthcare reform, but also on the issues of gay rights and abortion. He governed from the center as Governor of New Hampshire and has since run as far to the right as he could without actually joining a militia group. He is profoundly unserious and impossible to take seriously.

What all this tells me is that there's a large segment of the party that really, really, really doesn't like all the teabagger madness. Palin, Bachmann, Cain, et. al. are all clowns and these people see that. Better to have Flip-Flop Mitt as the nominee than one of these frothing lunatics with half a brain. After all, there's actually some danger that the nominee could win. If the idea of Michele Bachmann with the launch codes makes you nervous, there are apparently people within the Republican Party who share your concerns.



News Roundup for 6/9/11

Building demolished with implosion
The Gingrich campaign

-Headline of the day-
"Gingrich presidential campaign implodes."

That hero of epic poetry, Newt Gingrich, is pretty much done. According to the report, his presidential campaign blew a gasket today "with his entire senior staff resigning en masse."

Part of the problem is that Newt's an idiot. The report tells us that among "the issues leading to the resignations... was the two-week vacation that Gingrich and his wife, Callista, insisted upon taking against the advice of his top political staff. Coming as it did after one of the most disastrous campaign launches in recent memory, it raised questions as to whether Gingrich would be willing to 'commit time to the grassroots.'"

Given the context, "commit time to the grassroots" seems to translate roughly as "do work."

"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring," Gingrich responded in a statement. "The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles."

Yes Newt, I'm sure that's what you'd like to believe. (The Fix)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, Dogboy and Mr. Dan are back! Yay! And they;re here to tell us all about the debt ceiling.

Danny Appleseed
Click for animation

You can tell Mr. Dan is the rightwing one, because when it comes to economics, he's clueless. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Top Republican National Committee official involved in Wisconsin GOP shenanigans."

And the head of the RNC used to be the head of the Wisconsin Republican Party.

What an amazing coincidence! (Plum Line)

In Recall, Fake Democrats are at Wisconsin Taxpayers' Expense

This is what's known as "fiscal responsibility" among Republicans.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:]

Pile of burning cashA Republican effort to stall recall elections by forcing Democratic primaries to be held will cost taxpayers at least tens of thousands of dollars, a check of local election clerks shows.

Meanwhile, the top Senate Republican said Tuesday that all GOP recall targets were familiar with the plan to delay the recall elections by fielding fake Democrats in primaries. Earlier, some of those recall targets claimed they didn't know about the plan.

So here's the point; Republicans are playing fast and loose with taxpayer money for political gain. Here's Greg Sargent's take on it.

This is not huge money on the state level. But this story is nonetheless very revealing. Keep in mind that the number one justification Wisconsin Republicans offered for taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees -- the proposal that got this whole fight started -- has been that it's necessary to protect Wisconsin taxpayers! In his February address at the height of the crisis, Walker claimed he was pursuing the rollback of bargaining rights in order to protect the "millions of taxpayers from all across this state who know we're doing the right thing."

Now that Wisconsin GOP state senators are staring into the recall abyss, however, Wisconsin Republicans are willing to waste the money of those very same taxpayers on a scheme to tamper with Dem primary politics in a last-ditch effort to push back the recall elections in hopes of saving their hides.

What really gets me here is that this is the sort of thing that's been sinking Republicans all along. Voters saw the Assembly lie about the scheduling of a vote, in order to pass it while Democrats were out of the chamber. We saw the Senate ignore an open meetings law for the same reason. GOP efforts throughout all this have been characterized by dirty tricks. People don't like that. And now, here they are, pulling yet another dishonest tactic.

If Republicans are being recalled for reasons in addition to union-busting -- and they are -- these would be those reasons. And these would be the reasons that Democrats have been enjoying more success in their recall efforts. And now they're willing to waste taxpayer money to save their butts.

They may think it's a brilliant maneuver, but I really doubt it's helping them any.



Republican Austerity is Already Failing

Billboard - 'Dear Scott Walker, thanks for the money & jobs! Love, Illinois'
It's contrary to every Republican economic talking point, which probably goes a long way toward explaining why I found it on page eleven of my local paper and why no television talking heads have brought it up. An Associated Press piece explains that austerity measures are holding economic recovery back and that Republican governors share a large part of the blame. May "was the seventh consecutive month of public-sector job losses," the piece tells us. "Rather than add to U.S. economic growth, states and cities are subtracting from it."

The Great Recession officially ended two years ago this month. During previous recoveries, state and local governments were engines of growth by this point: In the two years after the 1990-91 recession ended, for example, they had added 430,000 jobs. They had added 249,000 two years after the 2001 recession ended.

This time is different. More than 467,000 state and local government jobs, including 188,000 in schools, have vanished since the recession officially ended in June 2009.

Weird. And here I thought government spending "crowds out" private sector spending. If government -- including state and city governments -- starts making big, draconian cuts, then in pours all that sweet, sweet private sector cash. Right?


"There's a whole slew of private companies that have to cut back when they don't get the [government] contracts they had been getting," Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors told AP. "You can't balance a budget and say everything's going to be beautiful." And you can't lay off state workers in droves and then wonder why unemployment is so high.

Here in Wisconsin, there's a great example of Republican economic flateartherism. Republicans in the legislature are forcing the University of Wisconsin to return $37 million to the federal government. That money would've paid for broadband internet to tie campuses, schools, and libraries together and to help with distance learning.

"The legislation would also prohibit UW System campuses from supporting WiscNet, a cooperative that brings high-speed Internet to most schools and libraries across the state," the Wisconsin State Journal reports. "Campus leaders say they fear the change could cripple the network."

What's the problem here for Republicans? "Republican lawmakers say the university should not be in the business of providing telecommunications services. Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he was concerned the new broadband networks would compete with an already existing network called BadgerNet."

Is private industry breaking down the door to do this? Well, no. But that's not the point. Government shouldn't do what businesses can do, say Republicans. Even, apparently, when those businesses have no interest in doing it. By GOP logic, we should all sit around waiting for construction companies to build bridges on their own initiative -- even though there's no reason for them to do so and it's never going to happen. This is what the founders intended, because the founders were morons, I guess.

So $37 million-worth of jobs goes out the window, never to return. Schools and the university suffers. Private industry -- which would've built the damned thing -- now doesn't get the business. Finally, tax money that Wisconsinites paid to the federal government doesn't return to Wisconsin -- so it'll go subsidize a project in some other, saner state. This is beyond idiocy and they call it "fiscal sanity."

But what about the media? As I said, the AP piece was buried on page eleven. We have real world proof that austerity measures don't help the economy, that they in fact do the opposite, and we've got Republicans and conservatives on teevee saying, "You know what we need? More austerity!" Meanwhile, talking heads and pundits nod like idiots and tell us -- oh so seriously -- that this is the wisest thing they've ever heard. The economic plane is crashing again, so the smartest move is to point that nose straight at the ground and gun it.

Austerity isn't headed for failure, it's failing now and that's barely being reported.



News Roundup for 6/7/11

Stuff is too complicated!

-Headline of the day-
"EXCLUSIVE: Herman Cain Pledges Not To Sign Any Bill Longer Than Three Pages."

At an appearance in Iowa, The Hermanator gave his take on the big ol' honkin' laws congress insists on passing and that presidents have a habit of signing. "Engage the people," he told the crowd. "Don't try to pass a 2,700 page bill -- and even they didn't read it! You and I didn't have time to read it. We're too busy trying to live -- send our kids to school. That's why I am only going to allow small bills -- three pages. You’ll have time to read that one over the dinner table. What does Herman Cain, President Cain talking about in this particular bill?"

A couple of points here; first off, President Cain wouldn't say jack in a bill -- congress writes them. That's in the Constitution and everything.

Second; super-complicated issues need super-complicated bills. That's just reality. You could pass the leanest federal budget in American history on three pages, but you'd need an electron microscope to read it.

"The vast majority of substantive bills passed by Congress are longer than three pages," the report tells us. "Under this bright-line rule, Cain wouldn't have signed such landmark pieces of legislation as the Civil Rights Act, the Social Security Act, or the PATRIOT Act. In fact, he wouldn't have even been able to sign the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which ran 114 and 18 pages, respectively."

This is like saying that computers don't work because the mechanics and electronics are too complicated for most people to understand. In Cain's world, you'd be reading this on an abacus right now. (ThinkProgress, with video)

-Listen my children and you shall hear...-
...Sarah Palin butcher the story of Paul Revere.

I'm saddened that there wasn't a joke about "every middlesex village and farm." Seriously, kids have been giggling over that one for years. (Comedy Central)

-Bonus HotD-
"Party of David Vitter & Larry Craig & Newt Gingrich Tells Anthony Weiner To Resign."

Kind of speaks for itself, doesn't it? (Wonkette)

Bush Tax Cuts are a 10 Year Economic Disaster

Republicans aren't serious about debt reduction. By now, this should be obvious. We're told that Paul Ryan's Medicare-slaying plan is serious, as well as courageous, but the truth is that it's neither. It's silly and it involves the nation hiding its head in the sand. We've fought two wars, largely off-budget, and engaged in the biggest failure of economic policy since Hoover's performance before the Depression. Republicans shoveled money into a hole for eight years, yet we're supposed to believe that Medicare is our big problem. In 2010, our military spending made up nearly half of all world military spending combined, yet we're supposed to believe our problem is that we spend too much on grandma's heart medication.

It wasn't that long ago that I put up this graph, but let's look at it again:

Bush tax cuts the main driver of current and future deficits

The Bush tax cuts came with a lot of promises. We would grow our way out of deficits. Kind of looks like we didn't. Deficits are mindblowing and our economy is a fragile wreck in recovery. As I said the last time I posted that graphic, by every measure and on every promise, the Bush tax cuts failed to deliver.

Which is why it was no surprise the Center for American Progress' Pat Garofalo post a report yesterday spells out the ten years of failure that have been the Bush tax cuts.

10 years ago [today], the first of the Bush tax cuts was enacted. That 2001 tax cut was followed up by a second tax cut in 2003, passed after Vice-President Dick Cheney reportedly asserted that "deficits don’t matter." The tax cuts were sold as necessary economic stimulus that would boost job creation and a moribund economy. "Tax relief will create new jobs, tax relief will generate new wealth, and tax relief will open new opportunities," Bush said on April 16, 2001 as he was pushing for the passage of the first tax cut. Two years later he said, "These tax reductions will bring real and immediate benefits to middle-income Americans... By speeding up the income tax cuts, we will speed up economic recovery and the pace of job creation." Bush called the 2001 tax cut, "a victory for fairness and a vote for economic growth." Then-Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said that the cuts were necessary to "spur the economy on." And up through 2008, Bush was still convinced that his tax cuts had been good for the economy. "I think when people take a look back at this moment in our economic history, they'll recognize tax cuts work. They have made a difference," Bush said. However, the record of the Bush tax cuts is undeniable: their enactment coincided with the weakest economic expansion of the post-war period, blowing up the national deficit and debt, while not bringing any of the promised gains.

Yet Republicans use arguments that assume that the tax cuts were a tremendous success. For example, we're told that if we do away with tax cuts for the top wage earners and corporations, then job growth will suffer. But there is no time in history when job growth wasn't better with higher taxation. And what is the logic here anyway? If we raise taxes then businesses won't be able to afford to hire people, as if hiring is just going gangbusters now. They've got the tax cut, it's doing nothing, and hiring was better when taxes were higher.

The fact is that the Bush tax cuts represent the Republicans' "starve the beast" strategy. Basically, this involves spending like there's no tomorrow for a period, then suddenly "discovering" that government can't afford basic services. So you spend idiotic amounts of money on military hardware no one is ever going to use, you cut taxes to the point that revenues are nearly nonexistent, then you say that "socialist" programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are the problem. Can't afford these luxuries anymore, but we can afford those moronic tax cuts. If "I want to cut Medicare" is a politically suicidal campaign slogan, then create a situation where you can argue that we have to cut Medicare.

So, while the Bush tax cuts have been an economic train wreck, they've been tremendously successful from a strategic standpoint. It's one thing to put someone out on a ledge and give them a shove, but it's another to create a situation where you might convince them to jump.



News Roundup for 6/6/11

Fighting the scourge of Obamacare

-Headline of the day-
"Santorum: D-Day Troops Fought For Health Care Freedom."

Rick Santorum officially announced that he'd be running for president today. Speaking at a rally in Pennsylvania -- where at least one attendee passed out from all the excitement -- Rick said that Obama is basically Mussolini and that soldiers in WWII fought to defend Paul Ryan's Medicare-slaying.

"Average Americans. The very Americans that our government now, and this president, does not trust a to make decision on your health care plan," Santorum said. "Those Americans risked everything so they could make that decision on their health care plan."

That's right, WWII was a battle over big government healthcare -- which I guess Hitler was for. And then all those vets came home and found themselves covered under the big gummint GI Bill and the Veterans Administration.

It must've been a bitter, bitter pill to swallow. (Talking Points Memo)

-Patrioticker than you!-
Republicans love America...

Click to embiggen

...it's just that "democracy" thing they've got a problem with. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Andrew Breitbart of Big Government Hijacks Anthony Weiner Press Conference."

What a tremendous ego this dick has, huh? (Village Voice)

No Trick Too Low for Wisconsin GOP

Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog No Quarter has a piece up about dirty Republican tricks in efforts to recall Republican state senators. Long story short, the GOP is setting up fake Democrats to run primary elections against real Democrats.

Republicans are sending around a couple of letters nominating Democrats. "The [Government Accountability Board] is delaying Democratic elections to give them more time to organize," the letters -- which are identical except for a few names -- say. "A Democratic primary will push the general election back by one month, so that [the GOP candidate] can have more time to organize a campaign against his liberal challenger."

The Government Accountability Board is a non-partisan agency which, among other things, oversees elections. The GAB didn't delay Democratic elections "to give them more time to organize," they delayed them because Republicans used a private firm to collect recall signatures and, as a result, many of those signatures are questionable.

"By running these fake Democrats, Republicans would force the Democratic challengers to spend money on a primary that could have been used in the general election. Plus, the spoiler candidates could launch negative attacks on the Democrats while the Republican incumbents remain above the fray," Bice writes. "[Chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party Dan] Feyen confirmed that he sent his letter trying to get a 'protest candidate' on the ballot in the Hopper race." The letters come with petitions to get the candidates on the ballot.

And this has been Republicans' biggest problem all along -- they've been using every trick in the book to push their agenda. It's why the Governor's union-busting bill is tied up in the courts. It probably has a lot to do with why the state Republicans' poll numbers are falling through the floor as well -- people aren't big fans of obviously unfair trickery.

And this is obvious trickery. How Democratic are these "democrats" the GOP wants on the ballot? "Both of the fake Democrats have a history of giving almost exclusively to major Republicans," Bice reports. The two candidates -- John Buckstaff and Rol Church -- need 800 signatures to force a primary.

Busted, the GOP has not denied anything -- probably because they can't. Talking Points Memo's Eric Kleefeld posts the state Republican Party's official response to the issue:

The upcoming recall elections are unprecedented not only in Wisconsin, but in our nation's history. Unlike the Democratic Senators who deserted their constituents for a trip to Illinois, six Republican state Senators face recall not for misconduct, but for doing the job they were elected to do: taking a stance on a tough issue that came before the legislature. Now, these Republican senators are again busy doing their jobs crafting a fiscally responsible state budget that promotes economic growth, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage with many of their challengers who have had sufficient time to campaign. Because of this disadvantage, and the outrageous nature of elected officials facing recall for standing up for a balanced budget, the Republican Party of Wisconsin has advocated that protest candidates run in Democratic primaries to ensure that Republican legislators have ample time to communicate with voters throughout their districts after the state budget is approved. The public deserves time to learn about the differences between the candidates and about the Republican plan to control government spending and boost economic growth vs. the Democrat alternative of job-killing tax hikes.

You know how to tell a rationalization from an explanation? Rationalizations are wordy. This isn't an explanation.

The people of Wisconsin are going to need a better answer than this. I wouldn't bet on them getting one.



GOP Eating Their Own Again

Romney and PalinDavid Frum is not happy with media coverage of the GOP presidential campaign. Writing for CNN, the former George W. Bush speechwriter complains that everyone but the party's current frontrunner are getting all the coverage. Turn on the TV and we see Sarah Palin zipping around on the back of a motorcycle or talking heads wondering "when Texas Gov. Rick Perry will join the presidential race and when Newt Gingrich will quit," he says.

Meanwhile, the man who was and is the actual front-runner in the Republican presidential race rates barely a mention in the media commentary.

I'm talking about Mitt Romney of course, the former governor of Massachusetts who has polled first in almost every Republican presidential preference poll since January 2009. Yet somehow the commentariat will not believe it.

Frum speculates that the commentariat dismiss Romney's current standing as pure name recognition -- as if Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich aren't household words. "Wait till the other candidates open fire on his health care record, his abortion flip-flop, his prior support for same-sex unions!" he says, putting himself in the pundits' place. "His balloon will pop as soon as Republican primary voters start paying attention."

"And yet ... it turns out that Republicans who are surveyed by pollsters are paying enough attention to have popped more than a few balloons already. Not just self-evidently absurd candidacies like Donald Trump's, but presumptively serious candidacies like Newt Gingrich's have already imploded. Smart and appealing politicians like Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels have tested the waters and found insufficient support," he writes. "Meanwhile, Romney continues to raise money, collect important backers and ride along in first place in the polls."

Whatever the reason, the media is all but ignoring the Mittens campaign. Not that he's skyrocketing forward by any means. The party struggles to find a credible candidate and no name is cracking twenty percent in national polls. But Romney is at the top of every one. In Iowa, he beats that one-fifth mark, scoring 21% among voters there. But nationally, a PPP poll has him tied with Sarah Palin at 16% each.

And it's here that things get interesting. I doubt that Palin is going to run. I could be wrong, but she doesn't seem interested in anything other than celebrity. That celebrity is based on the perception of Palin as some sort of leader of some sort of important thing and that perception goes out the window if she loses the nomination -- doubly true if she loses big. Better to sit it out and let people speculate on what might have been than to jump in and prove yourself nothing more than a loudmouth.

But Palin seems intent on knocking Romney down -- even if she's not going to run. She ran to Massachusetts to basically photo bomb Romney's presidential announcement, under the pretense that it was really important to be there to mangle the story of Paul Revere.

Part of the reason for this was that it was a dick move and Palin is an awful troll. But another part is that the Tea Party hates Romney. Palin is supposedly a Tea Party leader, so it's important that she run out in front of that particular parade. That way, she can pretend to be leading it.

It was "RomneyCare" that laid the groundwork for the dreaded "ObamaCare" -- complete with the individual mandate. Mitt has previously supported same sex unions. And Mitt is running as far away from his previous positions as he can. It's not hard to see why the Tea Party hates him; not only is his history too liberal for them, but he may be the most inconsistent candidate in the field.

Still, the way things stand right now. Romney is their best candidate against Obama, but in a fit of ideological pique, the Tea Party would rather lose than see Mitt Romney win. And if Sarah Palin knows anything, it's how to get out in front of the Tea Party and pretend to lead it.



News Roundup for 6/2/11

Casus belli

-Headline of the day-
"'Sovereign Citizen' Opens Fire On Store Because It Ran Out Of Crawfish."

'Sovereign citizens' are crazy people -- generally gun nuts and militia types. More specifically, they belong to some sort of legal cult that maintains that government has no legal right to... well... govern. Further, they believe that everyone is their own damned country and that this whole crazy-assed idea will hold up in court -- which it doesn't.

Anyway, the nation of Larry Wayne Kelly went to war with the nation of the L&T Seafood Market -- using the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force -- when said seafood market turned out to be out of crawfish. According to the report, Kelly called the market to order some crawdads "and became 'incredibly irate' when an employee said the store didn't have any." He kept calling and they kept being out and this was just the worst thing ever. "Employees found 11 bullet holes in the front of the store the next morning."

So the cops went after Kelly, who tried to hit them with his car, and finally busted him. "Kelly told law enforcement that he is a sovereign citizen..." the report goes on, "and that he doesn't have to follow the law."

Police informed him that he was mistaken.

"If you don't have crawfish, you can get crab or something else," store owner Tommy Nguyen said. "Why is crawfish so important?"

You'd have to ask the nation of Larry Wayne Kelly that -- and his embassy seems to be closed. (Talking Points Memo)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, meet Snuggly the Security Bear. He's here to talk to us about the PATRIOT Act and robots! Yay!

Snuggly the Security Bear
Click for animation

OK, so where do I get my hands on some anti-matter? (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Ohio GOP House Speaker's Twitter account hacked."

Don't get too excited, no weiner photos were tweeted. (Raw Story)

Griper Blade: GOP Attempts to Whine Their Way Out of Their Medicare Hole

Rep. Paul RyanFirst things first; Republicans have no moral right to talk about a Democratic "Mediscare" campaign. In a (failed) closed-door meeting to knock out some sort of groundwork for an agreement on the deficit and the debt ceiling, President Obama made that about as clear as he's ever going to:

Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, architect of a Medicare overhaul aimed at slashing the cost of the popular entitlement program by reducing the government's open-ended commitment to seniors, accused Obama of "mis-describing" his proposal and implored the president to ease up on the "demagoguery."

In reply, Obama said he was no stranger to cartoonish depictions, reeling off a list of conservatives' favorite attack points: "I'm the death panel-supporting, socialist, may-not-have-been-born-here president," Obama said, according to people familiar with his remarks.

No word on whether Obama's sentence ended with the words, "so quit whining," but it should've. In fact, it was fearmongering over Medicare that was the Republican strategy to whip up opposition to healthcare reform. The difference between the GOP's take then and Democrats' take now is that the latter is much, much more accurate.

And, of course, this -- in part -- explains Republicans' problem at the moment. Medicare is a singlepayer program and people like singlepayer -- even if they aren't extremely clear on what the term actually means. And Paul Ryan's voucher system is not singlepayer. While Republicans argue that they have no plan to do away with the program, this is exactly what they propose; take Medicare, scrap it, and replace it with something entirely different that we'll all call "Medicare." To say this isn't doing away with the program is deeply, deeply dishonest.

Allow me to illustrate. Let's say you have a car and I want to take it. I propose replacing your car with a tricycle. But you can't complain that I've taken your car, because I've slapped a sticker on the trike that says "your car." You still have a "car," I argue, it's just that I've made some minor tweaks to it. You should thank me. Your "car" has just gotten a lot less expensive. See, what you call it is much more important than what it actually is. By the GOP's argument, your car hasn't been replaced, because the trike is now called "your car" -- just as Medicare wouldn't be replaced by a radically different program called "Medicare."

When your sales pitch involves such logical gymnastics, you've got trouble.


According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a majority... don't think the GOP has cooperated enough with President Barack Obama and, for the first time since they won back control of the House last November, the number of Americans who say that Republican control of the chamber is good for the country has dropped below the 50 percent mark.

The poll indicates that 58 percent of the public opposes the Republican plan on Medicare, with 35 percent saying they support the proposal...

"Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly," the report quotes CNN Polling Director Keating Holland as saying. "Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients."

That last is interesting, because Ryan's plan explicitly exempts that group of people. People on Medicare today would never have to deal with the tricycle. But Republicans have made the mistake of using themselves as a behavioral model -- one of their more common miscalculations. Where Ryan expected the elderly to embrace the "I've got mine, screw you" attitude a disciple of Ayn Rand would adopt, it turned out that Americans actually give a crap about their kids and their grandkids.

No wonder Republicans aren't big fans of empathy; it screws up all their favorite ideas. If Republicans want to blame someone for their situation right now, they shouldn't blame Democrats for laying out the plain facts. They should blame themselves for overestimating the selfishness and gullibility of the American people.



News Roundup for 6/1/11

Terrified cartoon character
Democrat ponders a Bachmann candidacy

-Headline of the day-
"Bachmann: Democrats Are 'Terribly Afraid Of A Michele Bachmann Candidacy.'"

"Afraid" must mean "excited" in Bachmann-speak. For truth be told, never have I awaited with such eagerness the entrance of a candidate into a presidential race that I so wanted to lose. And that eagerness stems from the fact that she could never in a million years win.

Still, Bachmann is full of Bachmania. "They're terribly afraid of a Michele Bachmann candidacy for president of the United States," she told a radio show. "Democrats see themselves with group politics quite often, they'll see that they think they should own certain minorities or ethnicities or that they should own women. That's not true."

I think she means "owns" as in "make up the majorities within these demographic groups," not as in slavery. Still, you never know.

It is Michele Bachmann, after all. (Talking Points Memo)

-Staying true to your ideals-
Reports are that Mittens Romney has a bit of a problem...

Newspaper headline - 'Yoga experts warn that Romney is running out of positions'

At least he's flexible. (Bad Reporter)

-Bonus HotD-
"Minnesotans Don't Want Pawlenty or Bachmann to Run."

Those who know them best love them least. (Political Wire)

Despite Outcome of State Supreme Court Race, Democrats Definitely Have the Momentum in Wisconsin

The race for Wisconsin's Supreme Court has finally ended and, after a recount, incumbent Justice David Prosser won over challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg, an assistant district attorney. In an editorial praising Kloppenburg for conceding, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- which did not support the recount -- had this to say:

In a normal year, Prosser, a judicial conservative, might not have faced much of a challenge for re-election. But Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to curtail collective bargaining for most public employees bled over into the judicial campaign. While the race was nominally nonpartisan, conservatives tended to support Prosser; liberals tended to support Kloppenburg. A vote against Prosser became, unfairly in our view, a vote by proxy against Walker.

If this is the case, then Gov. Scott Walker lost. Kloppenburg's supporters were outspent by 38% and in a four-way primary, the incumbent took 55% of the vote to Kloppenburg's 25% second place. It was one helluva gap and JoAnne Kloppenburg closed it to less than one half of one percent. If this was a pro- and anti-Walker election, it's not hard to see which side has the momentum. Had the primary results been even fractionally tighter, Kloppenburg would've won in a walk.

And there are still recall elections in the works. So far, the recall count is six Republicans, zero Democrats. While the pro-Democrat side relied on volunteers to get the job done, the pro-Republican folks decided to go with professional petitioners. This hurt them, as professional canvassers -- being held to a quota -- have reason to engage in fraud. Which, of course, they did. Presumably, the reason that no recall against Democrats has been certified yet is that signatures on GOP petitions are questionable.

Score one for the supremacy of the private sector, huh?

"We believe that when the facts are reviewed, the GAB will throw out thousands of flawed signatures because they were fraudulent or defective," said Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller in a statement. "The vast depth of this misconduct calls into question the legitimacy of every signature collected by these circulators, and shows that the GOP effort failed to gather the valid signatures needed for recall elections."

For their part, Republicans are doing what Republicans have come to do best -- whine and play the victim card. The head of the Government Accountability Board, a non-partisan agency that oversees Wisconsin elections, is biased toward Democrats, they claim -- despite the fact that he just certified a close race for Prosser, despite arguably having enough evidence to keep an investigation going. And they want his head. There are calls for the GAB's Kevin Kennedy to resign.

"It is a big concern that the recall elections for the Democratic senators could be held after July 12," says Orville Seymer, director of field operations for the Milwaukee-based Citizens Responsible for Government -- a pro-GOP group. "It all goes back to momentum."

That it does. Democrats have it, Republicans don't. And that's not likely to change any time soon.