Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Fireside chat for September 18, 2010 (VIDEO)

From Steve Benen:

During an appearance in Connecticut this week, President Obama focused on an issue we don't hear much about lately -- the way in which the Citizens United ruling is shaping the midterm elections.

With far-right interest groups collecting millions for attack ads, all in support of Republican candidates, and financed through shadowy groups awash in undisclosed donations, the president raised the specter of "a corporate takeover of our democracy."

Today, in his weekly address, Obama focused attention on the issue again, explaining that voters are seeing deceptive ads from secretive organizations collecting undisclosed contributions. He emphasized that he supported a new proposal -- requiring groups to "say who you are and who's paying for your ad" -- but Republicans refused to let the Senate even vote on the measure. It's all part of "a power grab, pure and simple."

The president conceded that it's too late to protect the integrity of this year's elections, but offered some sound advice to voters: "[A]ny time you see an attack ad by one of these shadowy groups, you should ask yourself, who is paying for this ad? Is it the health insurance lobby? The oil industry? The credit card companies?

"But more than that, you can make sure that the tens of millions of dollars spent on misleading ads do not drown out your voice. Because no matter how many ads they run - no matter how many elections they try to buy - the power to determine the fate of this country doesn't lie in their hands. It lies in yours. It's up to all of us to defend that most basic American principle of a government of, by, and for the people. What's at stake is not just an election. It's our democracy itself."

I don't know how much of a difference this will make -- the vast majority of the public has no idea how or why the rules have changed, or why Republicans would fight against disclosure and transparency -- but it's nevertheless good to see the White House shine a light on the issue.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ezra Klein: Things that were once considered "Pipe Dreams"

I almost forgot this, a really nice bit of writing from Ezra Klein:

The White House held a conference call today for Elizabeth Warren and various bloggers and writers. Most of it was what you'd expect, but Warren did mention that Rep. Barney Frank once told her that getting a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a "pipe dream."

I think some people will see that as a mark against Frank, but he was right, at least judging by Washington's record over the previous 20 or 30 years. In fact, a lot of the Obama administration's accomplishments were pipe dreams.

A near-universal health-care system? Why would Obama and the Democrats succeed when Truman, Nixon, Carter, and Clinton had all failed, and politicians as adept as FDR and LBJ refused to even make the attempt? They've seen the numbers, right? The health-care industry is bigger now, and richer, and there are no more liberal Republicans. There's no way.

A $787 billion stimulus? Yes, it was too small. But everything Washington does is always too small. And within the confines of that stimulus, the Obama administration and the Democrats in Congress managed to make a host of long-term investments that would've been considered huge accomplishments in any other context, but are largely unknown inside this one. Huge investments in green energy, in health information technology, in high-speed rail, in universal broadband, in medical research, in infrastructure. The Making Work Pay tax cut. The Race to the Top education reform program. No recent president has invested in the country on anything like that level.

The fact of financial reform is less impressive given the fact of the financial crisis, and readers know that I'm skeptical about the final design of the bill. But the consumer protection agency really is an important addition that might not have been included if the White House was occupied by a different team.

There are the smaller items that, in any other administration, would be seen as achievements. Menu labeling in chain restaurants. The Independent Payment Advisory Board to bring down Medicare costs. Ted Kennedy's SERVE America Act.

And then there's what didn't happen: The financial system didn't collapse. Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke and George W. Bush deserve some of the credit for that -- though they also deserve some of the blame for not preventing the crisis in the first place. But as Ben Smith says, TARP, which was begun by Bush and implemented by Obama, is probably one of the most successful policies in American history -- and it's also one of the least popular.

The Obama administration is also unpopular, though still more popular than the Democrats or Republicans in Congress. Many of its achievements -- notably health-care reform and the stimulus -- are similarly unpopular. That makes it difficult for the administration to run the midterm campaign that would've been the natural extension of this record: We have fulfilled almost all of the major promises we made in the 2008 election, and we're the most accomplished White House in a generation.

Those things are true, of course. And I think that the labor market will eventually recover, and the health-care reform plan will cover 32 million people and make the system better and more secure for a lot of people beyond that, and Obama, like Reagan before him, will be considered an extremely successful president despite struggling with his popularity in the early years of his first term. But for now, that kind of popularity is, well, a pipe dream. And the Obama administration is left running on exactly the record it hoped and promised to have in 2008, but without the level of economic recovery and thus popularity that would've helped convince the American people to deliver a favorable initial review.

I disagree with him about the Financial Regulation (I actually liked it, and liked the attempt), but that's just me.

Did I just put up a Lady Gaga video on my obstenibly Political Blog?

Apparently, I have:

Nothing flashy. Nothing crazy. Just a straight up plea with the facts to back her up.

TPM: How Nancy is going to play (and probably win) her end of the Obama Middle Class Tax Cut game

The guts of it from Brian Buetler of Talking Points Memo:

If Pelosi offered one bill to only extend the middle class cuts, Republicans could use procedural maneuvers to force a separate vote on extending tax cuts for the rich -- a vote Pelosi might well lose.

Likewise, if she brought two bills to the floor -- one to extend the middle-income cuts and, one to extend the cuts for the wealthy -- both might pass. That's an outcome she wants to avoid.

Fortunately for her, there's a way out. The House rules allow the Speaker to offer legislation under what's known as suspension of the rules. Under suspension, time for debate is limited and no procedural hijinks are allowed -- but a two-thirds majority of members on hand is required for passage. It's a process often used to fast-track non-controversial legislation, and occasionally used when the majority wants to avoid tough procedural votes forced by the minority. It was part of the reason a 9/11 rescuers health care bill failed two months ago, leading to [a] fiery speech by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

Pelosi could offer two bills under suspension -- one extending tax cuts to the first $250,000 of income, and one extending cuts to income above that level.

"Things said by Elizabeth Warren tend to be more interesting than things said about Elizabeth Warren..." (VIDEO)

Fine, this is the President talking about Elizabeth Warren. Still, the man's got to introduce her.

From President Obama's prepared remarks:

I have known Elizabeth Warren since law school. She’s a native of Oklahoma. She’s a janitor’s daughter who has become one of the country’s fiercest advocates for the middle class. She has seen financial struggles and foreclosures affect her own family.

Long before this crisis hit, she had written eloquently, passionately, forcefully, about the growing financial pressures on working families and the need to put in place stronger consumer protections. And three years ago she came up with an idea for a new independent agency that would have one simple overriding mission: standing up for consumers and middle-class families.

Thanks to Elizabeth’s efforts, as well as the dedication and persistence of the person to my right, Secretary of Treasury Geithner, as well as leaders in Congress like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, that agency will soon become a reality.

And we got to hear from Elizabeth Warren herself:

President Obama understands the importance of leveling the playing field again for families and creating protections that work not just for the wealthy or connected, but for every American. The new consumer bureau is based on a pretty simple idea: people ought to be able to read their credit card and mortgage contracts and know the deal. They shouldn’t learn about an unfair rule or practice only when it bites them—way too late for them to do anything about it. The new law creates a chance to put a tough cop on the beat and provide real accountability and oversight of the consumer credit market. The time for hiding tricks and traps in the fine print is over. This new bureau is based on the simple idea that if the playing field is level and families can see what’s going on, they will have better tools to make better choices.

This is the best part of Elizabeth Warren taking on the special advisory role. She gets to set up the CFPB. She gets to pick the staff. And because she's not going through Senate confirmation, she gets to start talking to the American people about the CFPB right now, and not go into the cone of silence that apparently Senator Dodd demands.

Liberals seem very happy about even this temporary appointment, because I think they have a better job for her in mind.

Of course, as Ezra Klein says: "things said by Elizabeth Warren tend to be more interesting than things said about Elizabeth Warren."

Elizabeth Warren on Consumer Protection (MMBM) from Roosevelt Institute on Vimeo.

Video taken from the Make Markets Be Markets conference, March 3, 2010, New York City.

TPM: The GOP's Lieberman

Well, so much for Joe Miller.

I've been following the Alaska nonsense (similar to the nonsense found in Delaware and Nevada) for a while. And now that her long projected write-in candidacy is about to begin, I think its safe to say that Joe Miller is toast.

Sorry, Eugene.  I'm laying money on meltdown.

Senator Murkowski's write-in candidacy has nothing to do with the odious Mr. Miller, au contraire, it has everything to do with the former Half-Governor, Sarah Palin.  First Sarah runs against and trashes Senator Murkowski's father.  Then she supports Joe Miller against Senator Murkowski in the primary, so this is ultimately payback.

I can't say for sure that Senator Murkowski is going to lose this.  She's got enough name recognition, and goodwill in the bank that she could still win.  But I will go out on a limb and say as of this moment, Joe Miller can't.

He's something else, like with Charlie Crist, should she win...who's she going to caucus with?  On the one hand, her politics haven't shifted in the least, but what will she owe Republicans?

TPMDC: Democrats To Thrust Immigration Back Into Spotlight

Remember when I asked how did Josh miss the President's speech, on his pledge to pass the DREAM Act?

Yeah, I didn't think you would. That's okay, I don't mind.

Well, it looks like Josh (or should I say Christina Bellantoni) didn't miss it. A day late, sure, but...

Finally, Jon and Stephen give us the Announcement to end all Announcements...

Well, I was right about D.C. at least.  (Not like that was hard, it was already leaked in the New York Magazine), and there's still time for my prediction of a joint interview with the President to come true.

He's announced his Rally To Restore Sanity on the National Mall on October 30, 2010.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

This blog is proud of its record of admitting when it screws the pooch, when we blow it.  So should my prediction prove absolutely wrong ten ways to Sunday, I'll brag about it right here.

And this blog is hereby on the record as a supporter of the Rally to Restore Sanity, and not the March to Keep Fear Alive.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
March to Keep Fear Alive
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

The Daily Show's complete, extended interview with Bill Clinton (VIDEO)

I really, really wish that Jon and the gang would just put a single friggin' clip up, because trying to figure out what was what in this interview, Broadcast vs. Extended, was a pain in the @#$.

But this was a great interview, and to give Jon credit, I love the fact that he says screw it, keeps the cameras rolling, and gets it all out.

Part 1 (Broadcast):

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill Clinton Pt.1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Part 2 (Broadcast):

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Bill Clinton Pt. 2
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Part 1 (Extended):

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Bill Clinton Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Part 2 (Extended):

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Bill Clinton Extended Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"If people want to play politics, I think we ought to call the question. Are they for solutions or not?"

Making up for lost time today.

Thought it was also important to put up Keith's interview with Clarissa Martinez, the Director of Immigration and National Campaigns for La Raza, to explain just what could be at stake for Latino in the November elections, because suddenly, it's a lot.

Long story short, Latinos have a loooong memory.

Rachel Maddow's Interview with the Vice President, Part 2 (VIDEO)

The complete video, including tonight's segment (if you want to watch uninterrupted), can be found here.

President Obama: Once again, in case you forgot "There is no us and them. In this country, there is only us.”

This is what I get for going to an all-day meeting, and not blogging: the President on offense.

This has been a good night.

The Small Business bill finally passed (more on that later). And, the President has decided to go for Middle Class Tax cuts, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and apparently Immigration reform in the form of the DREAM Act.

From the prepared remarks:

Now, I know that many of you campaigned hard for me, and understandably you’re frustrated that we have not been able to move this over the finish line yet. I am too. But let me be clear: I will not walk away from this fight. My commitment is getting this done as soon as we can. We can’t keep kicking this challenge down the road.

There’s no doubt the debate over how to fix all this has been a fractured and sometimes painful one in this country. And let’s face it, there are some who seek political advantage in distorting the facts and in dividing our people. We’ve seen it before. Some take advantage of the economic anxiety that people are feeling to stoke fear of those who look or think or worship differently -- to inflame passions between “us” and “them.”

I have news for those people: It won’t work. There is no “us” and “them.” In this country, there is only “us.” There is no Latino America or black America or white America or Asian America. There is only the United States of America -- all of us. All of us joined together. Indivisible.

By the way, if we are going for Obama Middle Class Tax Cuts, apparently I owe Nancy Pelosi an apology.

Nancy, I apologize. You go, Madame Speaker!

Though 31 Democrats (Democrats!) are clamoring for her to include tax cuts for the rich in these tax cuts. From what I can tell, she's telling those 31 to stick it, in the form of a separate vote.

That's right. Harry Reid sometime last week mentioned the possibility of there being a separate vote on the Tax Cuts for the Wealthy.

And remember something else, no matter what anyone is telling you, in this plan everyone gets a tax cut, not just the 98% that constitute me and you, but everyone...including the top 2%.

The trick is the top 2% will get a tax cut for the first $250,000 dollars of their income. The Republicans want them to get even more on top of that.

But the real story of the night is the Immigration Story. (Hell, the speech was last night. How did Josh miss this?!?)

And now, we turn to another frequent Obama critic, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-Ill.). Needless to say, Rep. Gutierrez is happy tonight.

Why is it that the major opposition to Warren seems to be Chris Dodd?

I'm not getting this at all. The first major resistance to Elizabeth Warren's nomination to head of Consumer Protection was Chris Dodd. The first word about a potential filibuster came not from Republicans, but from Chris Dodd. Now, the first person out the gate downplaying her power in the position created for her by the President not a Republican, but Chris Dodd.

Is this a filibuster of one?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Warren, "It's always nice to see someone rewarded for being right, for a change."

Wow.  Lotsa Rachel Maddow tonight.

In addition to the interview with the Vice-President, Rachel also covered the President's Tax speech, and Elizabeth Warren's appointment with Chris Hayes.

I hope Josh and Matt were paying attention to this.

Biden: "Don't compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative."

No, this is not ego on the Vice-President's part, it's an old quote from Boston Mayor, Kevin White.

This is from Rachel Maddow's complete interview with Vice President Joe Biden conducted earlier tonight. There will be more tomorrow, and I plan to post the rest of the video right here. (And so I have, see Part 4 below)

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4 (Segment from Sept. 16, 2010):

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ed Kilgore: "In 2012, they will face a very different electorate..."

Ed Kilgore (The New Republic) sums up his piece with a very nice warning for the Tea Partiers and the Conservative wingnuts:

In the long run, though, the real test of this year’s conservative triumph will occur immediately after November 2. Whether it’s a matter of Republicans in Congress being forced to write a budget or of Republican presidential candidates having to come up with a positive message and agenda, they will not long enjoy the luxury of moving to the right without consequences. If they take control of the House and begin investigations and maybe impeachment proceedings against the president, their craziness will be apparent. And in 2012, they will face a very different electorate than the old-white-voter–skewed midterm crowd of 2010.

Mideast Peace Talks are showing...progress?!?!?

Excuse me?  What was that you said?, I ask my hometown Newspaper.

Why, yes says the Washington Post.  Things are happening, if only a little:

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are delving very quickly into some of the most difficult issues dividing them, the U.S. special envoy to the region said in an unusually upbeat report Wednesday, even as Israeli fighters bombed a smuggling tunnel and Palestinian militants launched mortar rounds into southern Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu greeted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at his Jerusalem residence, with a Palestinian flag as a backdrop, for two hours of talks that also included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. special envoy George J. Mitchell. The two leaders had met in Egypt for more than two hours Tuesday, also accompanied by Clinton and Mitchell.

"They are serious, they mean business," Mitchell told reporters afterward. "I will say that the two leaders are not leaving the tough issues to the end of their discussions," he said. "We take this as a strong indicator of their belief that peace is possible."

This is the one story were, for me at least, the less coverage the better.

Steve Benen asks "Where are the adults [in the GOP]?"

An interesting little tidbit Steve Benen noticed in a Politico piece, on the results of the Delaware race:

The Politico item on yesterday's primary results was interesting, if for no other reason because it offers a sense of the deep frustration within the Republican Party establishment about the decisions of its base.

[T]he Delaware results, in particular, were a shock to Republicans who were previously able to find some plausible explanation for why one of their incumbents or top candidates had taken a loss. Castle, unlike Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Robert Bennett, went after O'Donnell aggressively, exposed some damning information about what Rove called her "checkered background," and hadn't been the target of notable dissent within the state party.

But voters shrugged their shoulders.

"People didn't care," lamented one GOP strategist involved in the race, referring to the reaction to reams of oppo research on O'Donnell.

Well, no, they didn't. But that's largely the result of the Republican Party telling its most loyal voters not to care about substance, and to prioritize ideology above all.

Taxpayers, Republicans are just not that into ya…

More on the how little Republicans care about the Deficit and Middle-Class taxpayers over at Pasadena United Democrats.

President Obama: "They want to hold these middle-class tax cuts hostage..." (VIDEO)

With each passing day, the President sounds more and more like he did on the ol' campaign speech from 2008:

Right now, we could decide to extend tax relief for the middle class. Right now, we could decide that every American household would receive a tax cut on the first $250,000 of their income.

But once again, the leaders across the aisle are saying no. They want to hold these middle-class tax cuts hostage until they get an additional tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

We simply can’t afford that. It would mean borrowing $700 billion in order to fund these tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans -- $700 billion to give a tax cut worth an average of $100,000 to millionaires and billionaires. And it’s a tax cut economists say would do little to add momentum to our economy.

Now, I just don’t believe this makes any sense. Even as we debate whether it’s wise to spend $700 billion on tax breaks for the wealthy, doesn’t it make sense for us to move forward with the tax cuts that we all agree on? We should be able to extend right now middle-class tax relief on the first $250,000 of income -- which, by the way, 97 percent of Americans make less than $250,000 a year. So right off the bat, 97 percent of all Americans would get tax relief on all their income. People who are making more than $250,000 a year, say, you’re making half a million dollars, you’d still get tax relief on half your income.

And everybody agrees that this makes sense. Middle-class families need this relief. These are the Americans who saw their wages and incomes flat-line over the last decade, who’ve seen the costs of everything from health care to college tuition skyrocket and who have been hardest hit by this recession.

Extending these tax cuts is right. It is just. It will help our economy because middle-class folks are the folks who are most likely to actually spend this tax relief -- for a new computer for the kids or for maybe some home improvement.

And if the other party continues to hold these tax cuts hostage, these are the same families who will suffer the most when their taxes go up next year. And if we can’t get an agreement with Republicans, that's what will happen.

So we don't have time for any more games. I understand there’s an election coming up. But the American people didn't send us here to just think about our jobs; they sent us here to think about theirs. They sent us here to think about their lives and their children’s lives, and to be responsible, and to be serious about the challenges we face as a nation.

Elizabeth Warren is doing exactly what, again??

Jake Tapper over at ABC has apparently gotten himself a bit of a scoop:

President Obama will announce this week that Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who first proposed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will be named to a special position reporting to both him and to the Treasury Department and tasked with heading the effort to get the new federal agency standing, a knowledgeable Democrat told ABC News.

A Democratic Senator I used to have some respect for has been going out of his friggin' way to trash a potential Warren nomination with virtually every last breath he takes while still in office:

Outgoing Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) warned Tuesday that an interim appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau "jeopardizes the existence" of the nascent agency.

The White House is considering naming Warren interim head, as the law establishing the CFPB allows, in order to get her into place immediately and head off a Senate filibuster of her nomination. Once she's in place, Obama could nominate her for the permanent position.

"I'm not enthusiastic about that and I think it'll be met with a lot of opposition," Dodd told reporters after coming off the Senate floor.

Dodd said that an interim appointment would deprive the director of the legitimacy that comes with Senate confirmation. He added that such an appointment could create a backlash that would lead Congress to defund the bureau.

"This is a big job, an important job, and it needs to be -- you've got to build the support for that institutionally or the next Congress - and none of us know what the outcome's going to be politically -- you could gut this before it even gets off the ground. If you don't have someone running it early on, it jeopardizes the existence of the consumer protection bureau," he said. Asked how Congress would gut it, he said: "Money. Take away the money. That's how you always do it."

What? Does he want the job himself? Beats Bank Lobbying, I suppose. I'll never understand why he's so focused on pissing all over this nomination. Needless to say, I won't miss Dodd when he's gone.

Needless to say, Josh Marshall (at TPM) is confused:

We're seeking more clarification now, but it sounds like the White House has decided that instead of nominating Warren to head up the new consumer financial protection bureau, or alternatively avoiding the confirmation process and appointing her as interim director, the President will take a third way and make her a special adviser to help set the bureau up.

And Matthew Yglesias (at Think Progress) tweeted this, apparently pissed off:

With Warren, Obama showing real innovation in developing odd, satisfying to nobody compromises.

The Elizabeth Warren P.R. Firm of Huffington Post is spiking the ball like they...say...scored the only touchdown in the Dallas-Washington Game from Sunday night.

The White House has tapped Elizabeth Warren as a special adviser to help set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ABC News is reporting. The move allows her to act as an interim head of the CFPB and will enable her to begin setting up the agency immediately and prevent the GOP from filibustering her nomination. Warren could serve until Obama nominates a permanent director -- a nomination he's not required to make for some time. Obama could also nominate her as the permanent director in the near future, a prospect that has been discussed among top aides, according to a person familiar with the White House deliberations. Warren will also be named as a special adviser directly to Obama, ABC reported.

(I hate to rub it in Cowboys fans, but I am like that).

But this is why you've got to read the whole piece. Josh and Matt didn't horn in on the last part of Jake's story which said:

Naming Warren as an assistant or counselor to both the president and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner would allow the president to bypass a Senate confirmation process that could prove lengthy and contentious.

“I’m concerned about all Senate confirmations these days” including if he were to “nominate somebody for dog catcher,” the president said Friday when asked if he was concerned about Warren’s ability to be confirmed. “I’ve got people who have been waiting for six months to get confirmed who nobody has an official objection to and who were voted out of committee unanimously, and I can’t get a vote on them.”

Since nominees facing the confirmation process also enter a period of public silence, avoiding the confirmation process would also allow Warren to publicly discuss the agency and its benefits, which the president is eager for her to do.

Truth be told, this sounds exactly like the Interim posting story that we've been hearing about all week. So finally, allow me to fire up the wayback machine from the distant past of Tuesday, and quote, myself:

He appoints Elizabeth Warren to the position on an Interim basis. If the Senate continues to act know...the Senate...and resists her nomination, we get both the benefit of a fight where Republicans are tarnished as people against protecting consumers, and she gets to do her job in the meantime.


Simon Schama: "People want to sound off..." (VIDEO)

I like Simon Schama. The American Future remains one of my favorite Historical Documentaries, and this was damn good analysis of America and the American body politic, and it follows up a little on what I said before. Americans fall a bit too much in love with their belief that "I just know what I know" and it always leads to trouble in the American Experiment:

The biggest problem in fixing America may be the American people.

Brent McGoldrick is a Senior Vice President with FD, a communications strategy consulting firm. He released a story on, which shows what he believes the electorate is looking for should the GOP take over the Congress.

We find that voters generally believe:

1. A GOP majority in the House will improve overall economic conditions;

2. A GOP House would do a better job than past GOP-controlled Congresses (i.e., the party has learned their lesson);

3. But, voters want a GOP Congress to work with President Obama and Democrats, as opposed to pursuing their own agenda.

Oh my God.

America, are you high??!?

Let me say it slower this time:

Number three is the one that gets on my nerves the most. After watching the nonsense the Republican minority has put us through that the American people would expect the GOP to set aside their own agenda and pursue compromise with the Democrats?

Stupider still is the fact that the President actually pursued Bipartisanship with the GOP when he came in with overwhelming majorities, and was rewarded with exactly jack-squat by these same American people. And the fruits of any bipartisan compromise are not only spat upon by members of his own coalition, but by the American people as a whole.

It's something I've said before. The biggest problem in fixing America may be the American people.

Right now there is a tremendous appetite, on both sides of the aisle for radical solutions. If you're not going to the extreme of something, hardcore Teabaggers or hardcore Liberals don't want to hear from you.

And voices of moderation and compromise, the things American say they want, are crushed in the polls.

And the worst part of it all is the American people don't understand what's happening to them. Yeah, sure some of its the media's part, but there's no ignorance like willful ignorance. And people not only don't understand what's been happening to them, they don't want to know what's happening to them. They have a rock-solid idea of what should happen, and you explain the ifs, the whys and the hows of the way things actually work, they don't care. It should go the way it should go in their heads. Period.

Bill Maher (promoting the return of Real Time with Bill Maher this friday) made a couple media apperances, and made a couple of the same points (I hope Youtube leaves the stuff on here for a while):

Bill Maher interview with Larry King, Part 1:

Bill Maher interview with Larry King, Part 2:

Bill Maher interview with Larry King, Part 3:

Bill Maher on Jay Leno the day before:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The GOP had a 95% chance of gaining the Delaware Seat, and then...

From Nate Silver, yesterday (talking about the Delaware race):

The first race in Delaware, where Christine O’Donnell, a political activist and commentator, is running against Michael N. Castle, who has held elected office in Delaware for 30 years as its governor, lieutenant governor and lone United States representative. The contest originally appeared to be a mismatch. Republican strategists were thrilled to have a well-known and manifestly electable candidate like Mr. Castle, who announced his interest in running for the Senate last October. Ms. O’Donnell, meanwhile, was far from a fresh face, having been the Republican nominee for Senate in 2008, when she was badly defeated by Joseph R. Biden Jr., now, of course, the vice president. Ms. O’Donnell was also on the ballot for the Republican Senate primary in 2006, finishing in third place with barely more than 2,500 votes.

But then a strange thing happened. Joe Miller, who had the backing of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express, upended the incumbent Lisa Murkowski in the Republican Senate primary in Alaska. Although the outcome arguably should not have been such a surprise – a dearth of polling concealed whatever momentum Mr. Miller might have been gaining – it emboldened Tea Party activists and some other conservatives, who were reminded that in this topsy-turvy electoral cycle, few incumbents and establishment politicians are safe. Mr. Castle — a moderate who is unambiguously a member of the establishment – was next on their target list. And so Ms. O’Donnell, who already had the support of the Tea Party, last week received endorsements from Republican thought-leaders like Ms. Palin, the National Rifle Association and Senator James DeMint of South Carolina.

In contrast to Alaska, however, where Mr. Miller is the favorite to be elected unless Ms. Murkowski finds her way onto the ballot as a Libertarian or write-in candidate, Delaware is a blue state, and the electoral prospects of Mr. Castle and Ms. O’Donnell there are wildly divergent. Whereas Mr. Castle is nearly a 95 percent favorite against the Democratic nominee, Chris Coons, according to last week’s FiveThirtyEight forecasting model, Ms. O’Donnell would have just a 17 percent chance of winning a race against Mr. Coons.

Sorry, a 95 percent chance with Mike Castle. Whoops.

The GOP Circular Firing Squad (Delaware Edition)

The funny thing is that I remember Christine O'Donnell from her appearances on the old Bill Maher Show, Politically Incorrect. (And some operative out there should start mining YouTube for this stuff.)

I remember being amazed that she was fairly attractive yet a complete know-nothing all at once. Strange for back then, now in the Bachmann-Palin-Overdrive era...completely the norm for the GOP.

Well, very little of that has changed, except for the fact that she has beaten Mike Castle for the Republican Nomination for the Senate Seat formerly held by Vice President Biden, and his Chief of Staff Ted Kaufman.

Within an instant, this seat went from a safe Republican pick up, to a clear Democratic Hold.

Roughly, and I'll have better numbers (Nate's numbers) in just a little bit, but Rep. Castle's odds at winning election at 86%. Christine O'Donnell's odds? 17%.

In 2008, when the Vice-President was running for both Vice-President and his Senate seat, and everyone in Delaware knew it, Biden still crushed Mrs. O'Donnell 65-35.

So, please get ready to meet your new Democratic Senator from the great state of Delaware, Christopher Coons.

Still, let's not get too cocky. Please give to Mr. Coons' campaign, and give often. O'Donnell is nuts.

The President's now annual Back to School Speech

Hopefully, this one won't be condemned as a Social Plot:

Apology accepted

When stuff like this happens, you try to accept the apologies when they’re offered.

Jim Greer is trying to apologize for the racist and idiotic stuff that he said the last time the President gave a Back to School speech. Granted, he’s been dogged by Scandal, but it comes at an appropriate enough time (the President’s newest Back to the School speech) and he doesn’t seem to want anything in particular, other than to repair his shattered reputation.

I wanted to send you my thoughts about the Obama speech to kids ...

"In the year since I issued a prepared statement regarding President Obama speaking to the Nation's school children, I have learned a great deal about the party I so deeply loved and served. Unfortunately, I found that many within the GOP have racist views and I apologize to the President for my opposition to his speech last year and my efforts to placate the extremists who dominate our Party today. My children and I look forward to the President's speech."
Jim Greer

Apology accepted.  I know it wasn't meant for me, but if I were the President I would accept the apology in the spirit in which it was given.

But I'm still angry about what he did.

I hope Mr. Greer understands how much he damaged the national discourse with crap like this. He (as well as Joe “You Lie!” Wilson) really set us back, and we have yet to catch up.

It got yer Tax Cuts right here...

Looks like Reid is going to step up and have a vote on the Bush Tax Increases (that's what they are) in the next three weeks.

Plus it seems that contrary to what I said yesterday, the House Dems may be changing their tune just a little.

Daily Show/Colbert...the Announcment to end all Annoucements...

Nope, I don't have any inside knowledge. I'm out here, typing away at my small-time blog, and they're out in New York, making with the funny for 1.8 Million people a night, including myself.

But both Stewart and Colbert have been making mention of a grand, mega-apocalyptic announcement that they'll be completing over in the next few months.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen - Jon's Important Announcement
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Geese Witherspoon
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

My personal prediction is, and remains: a joint Stewart/Colbert interview with the President.

Now, we have an additional clue as to what the Pronouncement might be from the New York Magazine Profile on Jon Stewart:

Stewart returns to D.C. next month for a week of shows pegged to one prime showcase of the dysfunction, the midterm elections. Small problem: Congress, along with most other professional pols, will be out on the campaign trail (Kaine came to New York last week for his grilling). “Yes,” Stewart says, “when you show up to stick it to The Man, you always want to do it when The Man is not home.”

Again, I have no proof, and I certainly could be wrong. But Tim Kaine will be on the show again (it was mentioned as a possibility in the previous paragraph).

Tim Kaine called. The former governor of Virginia and current head of the Democratic National Committee volunteers to appear on The Daily Show. “How about we have him on when we go to Washington?” Stewart says to Hillary Kun, the supervising producer who books guests.

But you know...a certain someone will be town while everyone else is on the campaign trail.

Just sayin'.

Actual good news that no one's walking back...

According to the Huffington Post, it looks like the Small Business Bill has cleared "a key procedural hurdle" the Senate, 61-37  Yay.  that means it'll pass by the end of the week.  Big victory for the President.  Medium victory for Congress, since it'll create Jobs that'll help the next Congress.

Ever notice that we've entered an age where clearing "key procedural hurdles" counts as news?

The two Republicans who crossed party lines to help actual Americans are both not running for re-election: George Voinovich of Ohio (praised by the President last week) and George LeMieux of Florida.

TPM: False Alarm.

On Elizabeth Warren.  Never mind.  Everyone's walking it back now.

Of course, the original reportage came from Fox News.

I still think it's going to be her, though.

It's Elizabeth Warren...

Looks like she wanted it after all.

I think the reasons highlighted on September 10th (mostly through Noam Scheiber's excellent work) came to pass, but there's no absolute proof of this.  Just a hunch.

Now understand, she's being named Interim Head of the Consumer Protection Bureau. This is key.

Because the Senate can't get its act together, and pass the large number of other appointments waiting on their desk because of Republican obstructionism, the President has taken on a new tactic.

He appoints Elizabeth Warren to the position on an Interim basis.  If the Senate continues to act know...the Senate...and resists her nomination, we get both the benefit of a fight where Republicans are tarnished as people against protecting consumers, and she gets to do her job in the meantime.


Time to start throwing knuckleballs high and inside. If someone gets hit, tough @#$!!

(Yeah, that was a Baseball reference. It means that...never mind.)

Anyway, I'm glad she got the job. I'm glad she wanted the job. I think this is a good thing for America.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Greg Sargent is telling me (and TPM) that I'm being premature...

In regards to the issue raised in Nancy's about to blow it, Greg (indirectly) writes:

Can this be? A House leadership aide tells Christina Bellantoni that House Dems may not put John Boehner on the spot by staging a vote on whether to extend tax cuts just for the middle class, which Boehner suggested he might be able to support.

Another Dem leadership aide insists to me that discussions are ongoing over whether to have a vote, and Dems could conceivably have one even if the Senate ends up not holding one. Some Dem leaders are pushing for this House vote to illustrate the differences with House Republicans, this aide says. So it's not over yet.

Nancy is about blow it.

For the first time since the President was inaugurated, it is the House that is screwing things up, and not the Senate.

House Democrats won't be forcing a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts for middle class taxpayers, a senior House leadership aide tells TPM.

As we've been writing about today, Democrats are gleeful over a window of opportunity they see just in time for the midterm elections over Minority Leader John Boehner's positions on whether to make the George W. Bush tax cuts permanent for everyone but the wealthy.

That's what President Obama is pushing, and Boehner suggested Sunday he would support such a vote if that were his only option. He walked it back, but it begged the question about whether the Democrats would present such an option with a House floor vote. Will the Democrats force Boehner's hand?

A senior House leadership aide says no.

So with the narrative on our side, with the polling on our side, the Democratic Leadership of the House (yeah, that's right I didn't say Senate, I said House), decides to go stereotypically Democrat.

The ongoing Conservative Civil War.

On top of the threats being dropped on GOP Party Leaders, we have this from Jonathan Chait. The establishment GOP is finally coming after the Tea-Bagger GOP. The problem is, is it too late?"

A couple months ago, I mused about the outbreak of tactical radicalism -- the belief that ideological extremism carries no political cost whatsoever -- among Republicans. Why, I asked, were Republicans standing aside and letting primary voters select nominees who had a much lower chance of winning? Where was the Republican establishment?

Now the establishment is taking a stand in Delaware. The establishment choice is Mike Castle, a moderate-ish member of the House who is running for Senate, where he would be a prohibitive favorite in an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Running against him is Tea Party favorite Christine O-Donnell. If she defeats Castle in the GOP primary, O'Donnell would turn a strong likelihood of a Senate pickup into a near-certain loss. And you're starting to see the Republican establishment take her on. The Washington Examiner, the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal editorial page have lambasted O'Donnell, whose ideology closely mirrors their own. The Delaware GOP is going after O'Donnell hard.

But O'Donnell seems to be surging anyway. A new PPP poll has her ahead of Castle. Castle's image has turned sharply negative within the Republican base, and understandably so. In a party in which even the tiniest whisper of a hint of deviation is no longer acceptable -- Robert Bennett was swept out for having briefly considered a bipartisan health care reform that went nowhere -- Castle's votes for cap and trade, pro-choice stance and other acts of moderation are totally intolerable.

Now, the fact is that Castle is the only Republican who can win in a state like Delaware. But that argument is very hard to make to Republican voters in the current climate. They are intoxicated with their belief that they represent The People, that there is no political price for being too conservative. The party establishment has been stoking that intoxication for a long time. Now it's coming back to bite them.
Good choice using a still from the Empire Strikes Back in your article, Jonathan! Star Wars is always appreciated here at Fort McHenry.

Mitch comes through...for Democrats!

I think the Democrats are going to get the fight they want: Republicans fighting tooth and nail to defend Tax Cuts for the Rich.

Tea Partiers deliver death threats...on other Republicans!!


The chairman of the Delaware Republican Party received a death threat last week over his support for Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del) over Tea Party challenger Christine O'Donnell in the state's upcoming Senate primary, a party official confirmed to the Huffington Post.

The threat, issued in the form of an email, told chairman Tom Ross that he deserves "a bullet in the head" for backing "political ass-kissing RINO's" [Republicans in name only].

"It is one thing to have your country screwed over by socialists, it is far worse to be backstabbed by people pretending to be your friends," the email read. "We will either rid the GOP of pieces of shit like you, or we will start a new 'Common Sense Conservative' party and render you all useless."

The threat was serious enough to compel Ross to leave his home, temporarily, and to spur an investigation from the Department of Justice said the official with the Delaware GOP (a DoJ official did not immediately return a request for comment). It also was sinister enough to alarm state party officials who are unaccustomed to not just threats of violence but even to heated political contests like the one unfolding in the state's Republican primary.

"It is just scary what is going on right now," the official said. "Tom is a loyal and dedicated Republican officer in Delaware... the position is unpaid and his job as party chairman is to defend and promote the candidates... It is disgusting, it is amazing and it has no place in our democracy."

Granted, normally Tom Ross is an enemy, but he's a political enemy. That's all. He's the opposition. At the end of the day, you want him beaten at the ballot box, and that's it.

Okay, go Nyah-Nyah-Nyah, but even that's pushing things.

The guy quoted in the piece is absolutely right, threats like this have no place in our Democracy. If you have half a brain cell in your head I shouldn't have to state the obvious but we're dealing with Teabaggers here.

I hope the Justice Department finds this guy (or gal) and puts them away for a long stretch in the clink. I hope Tom Ross and his family are okay, and are able to get home soon.