Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Fireside chat for October 16, 2010 (VIDEO)

The President lays out his agenda to foster investment here at home. He vows to close the tax loopholes for sending jobs and profits overseas the Congressional Republicans have tried to protect.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Marc Ambinder on the President's DADT Decision, to appeal or not to appeal. There are good reason on both sides.

Now this is good reportingDamn good.  The measure is simple.  Did I learn something.  I did, and how!

No choice but to put the whole piece up.  It all fits too neatly together.

I said it was to preserve a possible deal in the Senate. Ambinder says it to preserve a good relationship with the Pentagon, something I hadn't considered.

I gotta go with the Advisers who are saying just stop it.  The policy is dead.  Stop fighting it.  If the President doesn't have cred with the Pentagon by now, screw 'em.

Also, Ambinder toward the end of the piece puts a little highlight on the Senate Deal that fell apart from the Joe Biden Interview. Looks like the main culprit ws the DREAM Act.  (And why put the DREAM act into the Defense Spending Bill?  To help Harry Reid with Latinos in Nevada.  And who put the DREAM act into the Defense Spending Bill?  The Senate Majority Leader.  And who's the Senate Major--oh never mind.)

According to news reports, the Justice Department is preparing to ask a federal judge to stay her ruling ending enforcement of the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning gays in the military. But my sources insist that, as of last night, the White House, meaning President Obama, had not signed off on that course of action even though the Justice Department sent the White House a legal brief in near-record time.

Perhaps the decision has been made by now, but the last time I checked, senior officials were still debating both what to do and how to do it, cognizant that an appeal of the ruling could turn the party's activist base from petulant to pissed off in a matter of seconds.

There are no neat delineations in the universe of who is arguing for what, but there are several schools of thought about what Obama should do.

One group of advisers thinks that he needs to appeal the ruling because he can't get rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" without the Pentagon, and the Pentagon is liable to gum up the works if it thinks the administration wants to dispense with the previously agreed upon timetable, which includes the completion of a major Department of Defense study about integration. A corollary argument here is that the National Security Staff is acutely aware of how difficult the military and Pentagon civilians can make life for the president in many unrelated endeavors. This group believes that if Democrats are successful in the Illinois, Delaware, and West Virginia Senate races -- not an impossible scenario by any means -- that Senate could very well schedule a clean and clear vote in a rump session.

Other groups of advisers believe that Obama should appeal the ruling, but concurrently ask -- or order -- the Department of Defense to take interim steps to halt all current investigations and not to initiate any new ones until the legal proceedings have been completed, or until the Senate authorizes the change in law. Within the Department of Defense, some senior officials are thinking about ways this might work. Others oppose any change to the timetable.

And then there's a group of advisers who appear to be as fed up with the maneuvering as Rachel Maddow is, and who want the president to make a public statement effectively saying, "Enough is enough. We've done this as orderly as we can. We can't control everything. But the policy is dead, as of today." Even under this scenario, gay soldiers wouldn't have access to spousal benefits just yet -- the DoD does need time to figure out how it would all work.

I don't know which way the administration is leaning. I do know that President Obama gets angry every time he's heckled by "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" protesters. He thinks he's doing everything he can given the constraints imposed on him by reality.

Any petition for an emergency stay will argue that the government is in the process of ending the gay ban, and that an orderly winding down is preferable from the standpoint of national security, according to someone who has been briefed on it. The government would ask the court to allow the Pentagon the time it needs to complete its study into the effects of integrating openly gay service-members. Judge Virginia Phillips gave the administration 60 days to decide whether to appeal her ruling, but the administration seems to think that it will be easier for Congress to pass legislation ending the ban in a lame duck session if it continues to show deference to military leaders.

Though the Justice Department's political leadership opposes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," it does not want to set a precedent of allowing courts to change internal Defense Department regulations without input from the executive branch.

Speaking in Europe, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that he thought Congress, and not the courts, should act to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," AFP reported.

The White House believed it had 60 votes to end the ban in September but lost momentum when Majority Leader Harry Reid added immigration-related provisions to the defense appropriations act, causing several senators to switch their votes.

The Pentagon plans to complete its study in December, and it is likely to conclude that integrating gays will not impact readiness, morale, or national security. Already, Pentagon officials are figuring out how they might handle the logistics associated with spousal benefits and housing for same-sex partners.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What's with the super high early voter turnout in Democratic Strongholds in Ohio?

Uhhh, is this something I need to keep an eye on???

Something special is going on in two Ohio Democratic strongholds: Cuyahoga and Franklin counties.I track on this handy web page that other places around the country - including other Ohio counties - are so far reporting low single digit early voting rates. In stark contrast, over 112,000 votes have already been cast in these two Ohio counties. As a comparison, this represents over ten percent of all ballots cast in the 2006 election in these counties, with still some time to go.

I spoke with local election officials in both counties to understand what is fueling their early voting. They attribute this phenomenon to two factors. First, Ohio recently adopted no-fault absentee voting, which increased the pool of eligible early voters. Second, local election officials in these counties decided to mail an absentee ballot request form to every registered voter. The response has clearly been enthusiastic.

But Vote by Mail can't possibly be a good idea, right Andrew Sullivan?

Tim Lee has tweeted that "voting by mail is a huge privacy and security risk, and states should be discouraging it a lot more." He elaborates on his blog:

Imagine if an employer, who everyone knew to be a Republican, required his employees to request absentee ballots and show them to him before they were submitted. Think of an abusive husband who insists that he and his wife fill out their ballots together. Or imagine a political operative going around a low-income neighborhood paying people $50 if they let him fill out their ballots for them. This kind of corruption is very hard for voting officials to detect. And more insidious, voters themselves may not even realize that it’s unethical.

Now, there are some circumstances, such as soldiers stationed overseas, where absentee voting is unavoidable. But traditionally, to get an absentee ballot you had to give a specific reason that you would be unable to make it to your regular polling place on election day. But in the last couple of decades a growing number of states are dropping these restrictions, allowing anyone to vote by mail without giving a reason. And the states of Washington and Oregon are moving towards mail-in voting as the default option. Although this is moderately more convenient for voters (and election officials!), the effective abandonment of the secret ballot is too high a price to pay.
I worry about this too. There's also the issue of losing a collective decision at the same time on the same day. Things change, events occur, the world moves. It makes sense to me that an electoral decision is more coherent when it is made simultaneously over a single day, than stretched out over weeks or even more than a month.

Andrew's concerns...frankly, are a little ridiculous.  It's nice to live as a blogger, with a staff of three, where despite the fact that you have a job and a live, your time is pretty much your own.

A lot of Americans don't or can't live like that, and so the chore of voting is usually crammed either early in the morning or late at night where you run the risk of getting cut off.  In either case, the slightest headwind, rain storm, missed alarm clock can cause a person not to vote.  We're supposed to be making voting easier, not more difficult.

We have two absolutely stupid requirements we put on our elections.  One, is to vote on the same day.  Two, is to have the results (the vote count) ready by that same night.

If Andrew really wants to live like that, may I suggest turning Election Day into a damn National Holiday.  Everyone has the day off.  Stores are mostly closed, and people can have the time to go vote and have their votes counted.  When the polls close, the bars can open.  And what do you expect the Chamber of Commerce's reaction will be to that idea?

Open this thing up.  Give people more choices of where and how to vote.  Allow them to cast ballots in more places, like Grocery Stores and Shopping Malls.  Give them a full week to vote, and allow voting on Weekends.

We have the technology.  Why aren't we using it?

The complete MTV Networks' Conversation wtih President Obama (VIDEO)

First, let's start with MTV Host Sway's Interview, previewing the Town Hall with Lawrence O'Donnell last night on The Last Word:

Sway seemed a little more down than necessary. Plus, how do we know the young people aren't going to turn out for the President. After all, the pollsters aren't screening people with cell-phones.

Anyway, here goes. It's thirteen parts, each part running 3-8 minutes each. It's a lot, but covers just an hour of time.

Part 1, The Opening, with a Question from a Republican on Health Care and Bi-partisanship:

Part 2, a slightly snotty question on Job Losses and spending:

Part 3, from a D.C. Student from Montgomery College:

Part 4, a Junior from Maryland asks about Cyberbullying:

Part 5, a faculty member from Howard University on Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

Once again, memo to the Jane Hamsher's of the world: DADT is Law. The President cannot unilaterally end DADT.  I'm glad the President led with this.

Part 6, the Twitterverse asks Is being Gay a Choice?:

Part 7, from a Senior at G.W. about Social Security, and a bonus Tea Party question:

And the President got in another (subtle) shot at the Chamber of Commerce and their Foreign Money.

Part 8, from a young producer of a Conservative Talk Show:

Whenever they say it's not about race...

Part 9, from a Grad Student at Johns Hopkins on race relations, why are they getting worse:

Part 10, the Tweetverse asks about a possible War in Sudan:

Part 11, a junior from Georgetown University, an immigrant from Cuba, asking about Immigration and the DREAM Act:

How will your Administration take steps to get this legislation passed? Again with the "just be tougher" bull@#$%??  Congress is the most unpopular part of Government, yet it's only the President's fault when something doesn't pass?

That being said, the President is way more optimistic than I am about getting it passed.

Part 12, on Environmental Justice, focusing on post-Katrina New Orleans:

Part 13, Greatest Hopes and Greatest Fears from the Twitterverse:

Stephen Colbert's Interview with Austan Goolsbee (VIDEO)

Colbert's Intro:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tax Shelter Skelter
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

And the actual Interview:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Austan Goolsbee
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Finally, a quick sign off:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sign Off - Tic-Tac-Toe With Austan Goolsbee
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Where I almost say something nice about a Republican Candiate for Congress.

I know that it's the stated position of this blog that we hate on Republicans, but in truth, we only hate on the crazier, more right-wing, more racist variety. Granted, they seem to be taking over the Grand Ol' Party, but they're still the loyal opposition, and every once in a while, one of steps to the plate, and actually conducts himself like it.

Today's almost proud example is Bob Gibbs, not to be confused with the Press Secretary, but a Republican Candidate in the Ohio 18th:

Last week, a ThinkProgress investigation revealed that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been using foreign money to fund its partisan attack ads this election. The very same day, the Chamber endorsed Bob Gibbs (R) in his campaign against Rep. Zack Space (D) in Ohio’s 18th congressional district. Gibbs said it was “an honor” to have the group’s support. In the nine days since, the Chamber has already pumped nearly $30,000 into the race.

Last night, the topic of anonymous donors to outside groups came up in a debate between Gibbs and Space. ThinkProgress caught up with Gibbs afterward to get his thoughts. He noted that organizations are required by law to segregate their foreign and domestic money and said the Chamber “absolutely” has a firewall in place. We pressed him on whether he just trusts them to enforce their own secret system. Gibbs conceded that he “wouldn’t have a problem with the Federal Election Commission having the ability…to go in and audit them and make sure that they had the firewall.”

That's a respectable a point.  Why?

However, he stopped short of calling for groups like the Chamber to disclose their donors to the public.

Thanks for nothing, Bob. I hope Zack Space (not one of my favorite Dems) cleans your clock.

Texas. The state where they don't know their own flag. (VIDEO)

Here I was, justifiably praising Joel Burns (from Fort Worth) for his emotional speech at a City Council Meeting last night, when Texas decides to be...well, Texas.

Only Texas, can beat its own chest about how much better they are than every other state, and still not get their own flag right.

Joel Burns of Fort Worth, Texas. We need more Americans like him. (VIDEO)

Too often, we get stuck in a trap that defines heroism in terms that are bigger than life. But most times, heroism is far smaller. It involves someone standing up for his neighbor, speaking out for an unpopular stance, or for an unwanted minority. Sometimes, it even involves laying bare your own painful past, reaching out to someone who's hurting and assuring them it will get better.

The following video is a short speech given at a Fort Worth City Council Meeting (I know, Texas!), and whether you're gay or straight, it's worth 13 minutes of your time.

And that West Texas crowd stood up and applauded him, too. Will wonders never cease.

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan, who's having a good day today.

My Dad used to keep a card in his office that designated it as a "safe place" for Gay and Lesbian students. I was amazed that a Math Professor need to show a sign like that. But this is why this was important. This is why even small gestures matters.

Update: 11:37am, Pacific: In case you want the 180 degree opposite viewpoint, we have the first part of this interview from The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell:

Andrew Sullivan: "If I were buying stock right now, I'd say [President Obama] is under-priced."

In response to something David Corn penned, Andrew Sullivan winds up writing a virtual response to Keith Olbermann's brain fart yesterday that is far more elegant and artful than what I wrote:

David Corn complains that this is the kind of self-criticism that does not help before an election, and that in arguing that his biggest error was under-estimating Republican obstructionism, the president cannot also argue that he can work with the GOP, if necessary, in the next two years.

I don't agree. This kind of quote is why I still believe, despite my frustrations in some areas, that Obama is the best option we've got and we're lucky to have him. I want a president who can acknowledge error, is not cocooned, can speak publicly about this, and is unafraid of self-criticism. Isn't that why so many of us supported him in the first place?

And, look, another reason we supported him is that after eight years of Rove, we actually wanted a president who got the policy right. I think his success in this is quite remarkable, in fact.

Preventing a second Great Depression, which was a real possibility (and not just the jobless recovery we're in, but a full-scale collapse), rescuing the banks without nationalizing them, saving the auto-companies with precision and technocratic skill (I didn't think it would work at all, and it did), re-setting relations with the rest of the world, bringing a new sanity and balance to Middle East policy, taking out 400 al Qaeda operatives, using the myth of the surge to get the hell out of Iraq (for the most part), upping the ante to get a deal with the Taliban and enacting a centrist, moderate law that for the first time in history ensures that anyone can get health insurance in this country ... really, in perspective, pretty damn remarkable.

Politically, he had to deal with a GOP gone insane, and a propaganda machine of such virulence and relentlessness that you can see he is where he is. But although he is right that he lost the connection to us, his supporters, I don't think he could have kept up the hope and change inspiration indefinitely.

He would rightly have been ridiculed for not being serious at governing, of being all words and no action, of all hat and no battle.

And where he is politically is really not that bad anyway - doing better than Clinton or Carter at this point, and better than Reagan, whose polling trajectory he still follows the most closely of recent presidents. The man's favorables are still 47 percent in a recession - way ahead of his competitors on the right; his approval rate is not far behind with unemployment at record highs; if and when the GOP take back the Congress, their talk radio schtick will have to face the reality of governing's hard choices. And in that battle for the center, I'd bet on Obama's reason and calm over Gingrich's flame wars, Palin's delusions and Boehner's corporate tan.

If I were buying stock right now, I'd say the president is under-priced.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Just because I’m a Liberal, doesn’t mean @KeithOlbermann gets to insult my intelligence. (VIDEO)

I could be wrong about this, but I actually read the Peter Baker piece I think he was referring to, and...I’m having the darnedest time finding some of the quotes Keith mentioned in it.

Now, Keith called the piece “an interview”, and later referred to the same piece in another segment. This is where I could be wrong. “The Education of President Obama” is not a straight up interview. It’s kind of a profile piece, containing segments of interviews from a lot of people. If there is another piece Keith is referring to, I’d love to see it, because what I read ain’t it.

Still, there’s something about reading something before you hear from the pundits, and watching their analysis go off like a runaway rocket.

Yes, I'm saying I think Keith screwed this one up. The job he did on this seems as bad as any Fox News piece. If I wanted his level of half-ass analysis, I'd read Huffington Post.

Now, the money quote Keith mentioned about Obama being seen as a Tax and Spend Liberal was far more nuanced in the piece I read.

Well, why don't you read it for yourself:

While proud of his record, Obama has already begun thinking about what went wrong — and what he needs to do to change course for the next two years. He has spent what one aide called “a lot of time talking about Obama 2.0” with his new interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, and his deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina. During our hour together, Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency. But he did identify what he called “tactical lessons.” He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.” He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works. Perhaps he should not have proposed tax breaks as part of his stimulus and instead “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” so it could be seen as a bipartisan compromise.

I’m trying to figure out why exactly Bill Burton needed to clarify any of that with Keith. Seems pretty damn clear to me. How exactly does this depress my fellow Liberals?

So for months, Keith and the Huffington Post set scream and holler that the President wasn't doing "it" right. The President in a moment of self reflection admits it, and...the same set pummels him for admitting it???

Also, Keith didn’t mention the very next paragraph:

Most of all, he has learned that, for all his anti-Washington rhetoric, he has to play by Washington rules if he wants to win in Washington. It is not enough to be supremely sure that he is right if no one else agrees with him. “Given how much stuff was coming at us,” Obama told me, “we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who’s occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.”

Strikes me that the President kinda gets the idea that there is no profit in the notion of “taking care of the policies and the politics will take care of itself.”

Then, what really got on my nerves is Keith dug in with a second reflection on the same article (again, could be wrong). This time I saw the quotes he was talking about, and he still selectively edited the damn thing.

Keith made it sound like the President was ready to give up the whole store to the Republicans.

Wanna read what was actually in the article?:

“There are a lot of lessons learned in the last two years in terms of how we might improve internal communication, encourage greater accountability without discouraging individual initiative,” said one aide familiar with the discussions led by Rouse and Messina. Obama has been aggravated by friction among his advisers. “He’s a little frustrated with the internal dysfunction,” the aide said. “He doesn’t like confrontation.” But his initial choices to fill open slots have been drawn largely from his administration, suggesting more continuity than change.

Rouse and Messina see areas for possible bipartisan agreement, like reauthorizing the nation’s education laws to include reform measures favored by centrists and conservatives, passing long-pending trade pacts and possibly even producing scaled-back energy legislation. “You’ll hear more about exports and less about public spending,” a senior White House official said. “You’ll hear more about initiative and private sector and less about the Department of Energy. You’ll hear more about government as a financier and less about government as a hirer.”

Obama expressed optimism to me that he could make common cause with Republicans after the midterm elections. “It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible,” he said, “either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.”

I asked if there were any Republicans he trusted enough to work with on economic issues. The first name he came up with was Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who initially agreed to serve as Obama’s commerce secretary before changing his mind. But Gregg is retiring. The only other Republican named by Obama was Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who has put together a detailed if politically problematic blueprint for reducing federal spending. The two men are ideologically poles apart, but perhaps Obama sees a bit of himself in a young, substantive policy thinker.

Even if such an alliance emerges, though, the next two years will be mostly about cementing what Obama did in his first two years — and defending it against challenges in Congress and the courts. “Even if I had the exact same Congress, even if we don’t lose a seat in the Senate and we don’t lose a seat in the House, I think the rhythms of the next two years would inevitably be different from the rhythms of the first two years,” Obama told me. “There’s going to be a lot of work in this administration just doing things right and making sure that new laws are stood up in the ways they’re intended.”

What was I said about “taking care of the policies and the politics will take care of itself?”

And "perhaps Obama sees a bit of himself in a young, substantive policy thinker??" That's the writer going off on a tangent, not the President.

I know. The "he doesn't like confrontation" quote didn't do anything for me either. Still, he doesn't have to like it. He just has to do it.

Also, this isn't exactly a new idea. Should have been Keith's outraged when Obama supporter, and Tea-Party hater Colin Powell said pretty much the same thing about a month ago on his very network?

MR. GREGORY: Do you think that Republicans are poised to retake at least the House? And would you like to see them do that with this--the current slate of candidates and some of the ideas?

GEN. POWELL: I, I don't know. The, the pollsters would tell us that the Republicans are poised to take over the House. That wouldn't break my heart, I wouldn't go into a funk. Frankly, it might be good for the president to have the Republicans owning one of the two bodies of our Congress.

MR. GREGORY: How so?

GEN. POWELL: Because then they have responsibility. You can't just say no to everything. You can't just sit around beating up the president. But the president also has to, I think, shift the way in which he has been doing things. I think the American people feel that too many programs have come down. There are so many rocks in our knapsack now that we're having trouble carrying it. I think the president has to, like a, like a, like a razor blade, just go right after the single issue that is uppermost in the minds of the American people and that's employment. And he's done a lot with health care, with cap and trade, with education, and I understand the importance of all of that; but as far as the American people are concerned, the main attack is employment, and he's got to fix that.

I disagree with General Powell's idea that too much was done. Folks need to get over that.

Look, you be the judge. From where I stand, this is the same pragmatist that we voted into office. I think the President needs to take more political advantage of the Republicans if they do take the House. He needs to make a punching bag out of them sometimes, especially if they launch as many investigations as they're threatening.

At the same time, I will make this warning to the President. Right now, for Liberals, the choice between him and the Republicans is clear. If he caves too much to the Republican agenda, especially after watching them do nothing but thwart his for two years, then a lot of Liberals aren’t going to be disappointed in him, they’re going to be pissed off, and then they will stay home in 2012. We didn’t vote him in to sign in a Republican Agenda. If the GOP tries a Government Shutdown, his reaction cannot be "you know they're got a point".

When dealing with these scumbags, he needs to make sure he’s getting the maximum out of the GOP that he can.

Wouldn’t it be ironic, if it was a Republican Congress that passed a Public Option?

The whole article was a worthwhile read, but it is very long. Still, do yourself a favor, hit the link, print it out...and don’t rely on someone else to do your reading for you.

Not even Keith.

The reviews are in! Rove's lying, and not just about where the money comes from.

And really, are we that surprised??

Greg Sargent has put up a nice little list of the media and press reaction to most Karl Rove's and the Chamber of Commerce's anti-Democrat, Foreign Funded attack bull@#$%:

  • A Chamber ad was yanked from two Pennsylvania TV stations after they determined its claim about Pennsylvania Senate Dem candidate Joe Sestak and Nancy Pelosi was false.
  • A Crossroads GPS ad slamming Sestak over health care reform and Medicare was skewered by for its "wild exaggeration" and dismissed as "badly misleading."
  • A Crossroads GPS ad attacking California Senator Barbara Boxer for voting to cut Medicare spending by $500 billion was rated by Politifact as "barely true" and "seriously misleading."
  • Two Chamber ads attacking Boxer for favoring freshwater fish over jobs were dismissed by, though with some caveats, as follows: "Strictly speaking, both ads are untrue."
  • Also in the above link, slammed Crossroads GPS for making similiarly misleading claims about health reform in an ad targeting Kentucky Dem Senate candidate Jack Conway.'s conclusion: "Don't let Crossroads GPS steer you down the wrong road."
  • An American Crossroads ad blasting Harry Reid with various claims about unemployment and the stimulus was dismissed by the Las Vegas Sun for "egregious" stretching of the facts and "gross distortions."
  • That same ad was also ripped by for distorting the truth and by Politifact as "false."
  • An American Crossroads ad hammering Ohio Dem Senate candidate Lee Fisher over job creation and tax hikes was skewered by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as "incomplete" and "mucked up with distortions."
  • An ABC affiliate in Colorado found that a Crossroads GPS ad attacking Senator Michael Bennet made a misleading claim about Bennet on government spending and conflated opinion for fact on the stimulus.

Apparently, those were just the Greg races. Greg is talking like he may put up a seperate list of the House ads that have been yanked.

Goolsbee vs. Colbert tonight on Comedy Central!

Yeah, that's right Fort McHenry's favorite Economist (and really, should anyone have a favorite economist?) is going to be on The Colbert Report, tonight.

The video will be here tomorrow.

Think Progress: You want proof of Foreign Money in this election's a list! (VIDEO)

The Daily Show (again caught in the act of committing journalism):

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
(C) Spot Run!
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Steve?  Here's your proof:

Yesterday, the Chamber’s chief lobbyist Bruce Josten, who has been spoon-feeding much of the media distortions about our report, went on Fox News (whose parent company donated $1 million to the Chamber recently for its ad campaign) to again try to dilute the issue by dissembling about the Chamber’s fundraising and membership. “We have probably 60 or so foreign multi-national companies in our membership that we have had for decades, many of which have been in the United States for half a century or a century,” said Josten.

The Chamber is being deceptive. In addition to multinational members of the Chamber headquartered abroad (like BP, Shell Oil, and Siemens), a new ThinkProgress investigation has identified at least 83 other foreign companies that actively donate to the Chamber’s 501(c)(6). Below is a chart detailing the annual dues foreign corporations have indicated that they give directly to the Chamber (using information that is publicly available from the Business Council applications and the Chamber’s own websites):

Think Progress has the complete list here:

Ezra Klein on the ups and downs of a Democratic Brand

Of course, Ezra says "Joe Manchin is gonna be Ben Nelson" far nicer than I have in the past.

[In] the West Virginia Senate race, where the Democratic nominee is Joe Manchin, the popular governor whose campaign ads currently feature him shooting a gun at a copy of the cap-and-trade bill. His ads, in other words, are about what a hard time he'll give the party. But those ads are, in part, why he'll likely win. And then he'll get to the Senate, vote for Harry Reid as Senate majority leader, and vote for most, but not all, Democratic initiatives. The Republican candidate in the race, by contrast, makes no similar concessions to West Virginia's populist political culture.

It's hard to have a concrete brand when a guy like Manchin is part of your party. It'd be a bit like if Coca-Cola sold not just Cokes, but a brand that spent its advertising budget convincing people that Coke was gross, and hired guys to yell at people who ordered Cokes in stores.

But though Manchin makes thematic coherence difficult, he makes it easier to have a congressional majority. The party discipline that the Republican brand requires makes it difficult to tailor candidates to individual races. So you'll see campaigns like Delaware and West Virginia, where Democrats are likely to win seats a different kind of Republican could've captured, and major policy achievements like health-care reform that only happened because Democrats decided against kicking Joe Lieberman out of the party, and senators like Arlen Specter and Jim Jeffords, who simply switched sides to get away from the GOP's party discipline.

The flip side of this, of course, is that Republicans are better at getting all of their members to vote the same way, and better at getting their candidates to move to the far right. But aside from tax cuts, I'm not really sure what that's gotten them. George W. Bush expanded the federal role in education, Medicare and campaign finance, not to mention starting both the bank and auto bailouts. Civil rights, feminism and sexual equality have all made enormous strides. Barack Obama passed a massive stimulus plan followed by a near-universal health-care bill. Conservatives might have the stronger brand, but liberals, in recent years, have had the more successful one.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Elizabeth Warren on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (VIDEO)

And here I thought this was going to be a slow news day:

Kids, remember, don't tug on Superman's cape (VIDEO)

President Obama meets with students, their families and others that worked on the film, "Waiting For Superman". The President invited them into the Oval Office and the group then watched him depart in Marine One.

And yes, I remember being that age.  If I were those kids, I'd probably would have been more excited about watching a real live Helicopter take off than seeing the President.  Fortunately, I've grown up since then.

The worst part about Education funding?  It takes 18-20 years to see how good of a job it did.

The White House does a good job with these videos.  I have to confess, "Waiting for Superman" is a movie I'm almost afraid to see, but I'll bite the bullet and see it.

David Plouffe Campaign Update: October 12, 2010 (VIDEO)

It's gettin' better all the time...

There's something cool in this age of Hyperpunditry, where Political Consultants can be rock stars, there's a guy sitting in the back who's just looking at the nuts and bolts of the thing, and making it all work.

David Plouffe seems...well, about as up as I usually see him. He doesn't seem scared. He doesn't seem all that worried. My guess is whatever's happening is supposed to be happening, at least as far as David Plouffe is concerned.

"[Foreign Money in elections] is a serious issue and we're going to continue to raise it."

First I got this from Greg Sargent:

The full-scale assault from the White House and Dems on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove's groups shows no signs of abating. But is it already a political flop?

Some commentators are rushing to proclaim this offensive a political failure. Mark Halperin, for instance, wondered allowed today: "I'm not sure how this appeals to voters." Halperin then stated this as outright fact: "It's just not relevant to voters."

Greg then stated the obvious, that water is wet, the sky is blue, and Halperin has his head up his a!@#, because :

It's not easy to gauge whether this attack is working. But polls clearly show strong public discontent with corporate influence over our elections. A recent Washington Post poll found an overwhelming majority, 80 percent, opposes the Citizens United decision allowing unfettered corporate spending in elections, including strong majorities of both parties. And 72 percent support Congressional limits on corporate (and union) spending.

What's more, the Dem firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner recently tested some Dem messages on this very topic. It found that one focused on corporate interests -- and corporate spending in elections -- was a very potent one that could close the Congressional generic matchup gap by nine points.

Then I got this from Andrew Sullivan:

Nyhan goes after the Democrats for baseless attacks against the US Chamber of Commerce. It is very depressing to see them descend to this kind of stuff. What they need are not tactics and resentment, which is what we're seeing. What we need is a narrative of recovery and reform from Obama. He has the record, and he has made a couple of great speeches. But this distracts.

My view, and I'll say it again. Campaign on ending the long-term debt. Campaign on being the man who can bring America together to solve its long-term fiscal crisis. Call the GOP out on its fiscal record and its current refusal to specify what they'll cut. Remind people of the debt commission. Remind people we need to cut spending and raise taxes. Be the adult in the room. With a megaphone.

Afterwards, I sent Mr. Sullivan an Email thanking God he wasn't a Political Adviser to the President, because some of us are actually pissed off about this.

And finally, this from the Axe:

The White House will keep up its assault on outside spending by conservative groups and will continue to press the case about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's foreign money, despite hints of retreat on the latter issue, senior adviser David Axelrod told me in an interview this afternoon.

Axelrod also took a shot at the fact-checkers at multiple news orgs who have concluded there is no evidence for the White House's broadside at the Chamber, suggesting fact-checkers should be "directing their ire" at the Chamber, rather than "in the wrong direction."

"The fact that these front groups are spending hundreds of millions of dollars from undisclosed sources on attack ads to influence these elections is a serious issue and we're going to continue to raise it," Axelrod told me.

Just who are the Pro-Corporate Groups trying to steal the election?

If you want to meet the people who are trying to steal the election, the People for the American Way has put together a list.

Another reason I could care less about Senate Democrats, Part 939

Despite the fact, the Obama Administration has lifted the moratorium she objects to so much, Sen. Mary Landrieu still refuses to give up her hold on incoming Budget Jacob Lew.

This is why I never give one stinkin' dime to the DSCC.

What's going to happen with the DADT repeal is going to make your head hurt.

Now, we're got tremendous news this morning:

First, Steve Benen:

About a month ago, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips found that the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is unconstitutional, violating due process and the First Amendment. Phillips added that the policy has a "direct and deleterious effect" on the armed services, "impeding military readiness and unit cohesion."

At that point, the judge called for the plaintiffs to submit a proposed injunction limiting the law. Today, Phillips ordered the military to "immediately ... suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced under the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'" policy.


The Justice Department will have 60 days to appeal to the left-leaning 9th Circuit, which seems likely. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs didn't comment on the legal strategy, but reiterated that President Obama "will continue to work as hard as he can to change the law that he believes is fundamentally unfair."

Okay, it was speculated in this space not too long ago that someone stabbed the President in the back in regards to DADT repeal in connection with the Defense Authorization Bill:

I thought it was highly important that she highlighted her own interview with the Vice President, where he talked about a "deal" to keep the prosecutions going in order to get the votes.

Now, it looks like someone stabbed the Administration in the back.

That's who the Gay Community should be pissed at today.

And yeah, Rachel is right. I think the Obama Administration should go back on its word now, and end the prosecutions by Executive Order.

Now ending the prosecutions by Executive Order is moot.  Judge Phillips took care of that this afternoon.

What I'm afraid is going to happen is the Obama Administration still thinks it has a chance to pass DADT Repeal after the Midterms in the Lame Duck session, thus they will feel honor bound to fight the Court ruling in order to live up to that deal.

Are you following that?  In order to repeal DADT through Legislation, the White House needs to fight in favor of DADT in the Courts, all so they can preserve a deal to pass...DADT repeal in the Senate.


Thus, marking occasion number three where I have disagreed with the President, let me say, this is a boneheaded strategy.

This is "burn the village in order to save it" thinking.

All this is going to do is further alienate the Gay and Lesbian communities (if that's even possible), all in the name of a secret deal that they won't explain, or put the finger on somebody over.

This is the one problem with having former Senators as President and Vice-President, even ones I like in Obama and Biden.

My one major problem with the Senate...remains Senators.

Aside from the massive ego on display every day by Senators, there's the problem that they always seem more loyal to the Senate than they are to anyone else.  The geniality of the body is more important than the laws they produce.

Mr. President, whoever this person is, burn them.  Put their name out there, and let the Gay Community go to work on them.

Thomas Ricks reminds us that Bill Kristol can't meet the standards of a stopped clock

Thomas Ricks reminds us of the batting average of some of our favorite Conservative Pundits:

A nice little historical note here, revisiting a bunch of scary predictions Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol made in the year 2000:

Ten years from now, and perhaps a good deal sooner, we likely will be living a world in which Iraq, Iran, North Korea and China all possess the ability to strike the continental United States with nuclear weapons. Within the next decade we may have to decide whether to defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack. We could face another attempt by a rearmed Saddam Hussein to seize Kuwait's oil fields.

Good to keep in mind the next time they shout "fire" in a crowded foreign-policy theater.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dave Weigel: "The Book Thrown at Obama Was a Sign of Protest, Except That It Wasn't"

Courtesy Dave Weigel.  The meme that wasn't:

The Secret Service is now shedding some more light on the circumstances surrounding a man who threw a book at President Obama at an event in Pennsylvania Sunday. And they're not throwing the book at him.

According to Secret Service spokesperson, Ed Donovan, the person involved was an overzealous author who just wanted to toss his book into the president's reading list.

"He was an over exuberant person who wrote a book that he wanted the president to read," Donovan told CNN.

Five'll get you ten that this doesn't make the news tonight.

Is the Liberal Blogosphere going after George Soros?

And I hate to say it, rightly so. Steve Benen hit him too, but the really interesting take comes from Jonathan Chait:

I've been writing a lot about the tendency among many liberals to muster outrage against Republicans after they've taken power, while lacking any capacity to muster energy to prevent Republicans from taking power in the first place. Apparently this attitude extends even to billionaire liberal financier George Soros:

“I made an exception getting involved in 2004,” Mr. Soros, 80, said in a brief interview Friday at a forum sponsored by the Bretton Woods Committee, which promotes understanding of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“And since I didn’t succeed in 2004, I remained engaged in 2006 and 2008. But I’m basically not a party man. I’d just been forced into that situation by what I considered the excesses of the Bush administration.”

Mr. Soros, a champion of liberal causes, has been directing his money to groups that work on health care and the environment, rather than electoral politics.

Right, and I'm sure if Republicans take control of Congress, nothing seriously bad would happen as a result.

Like I said Maine, return Collins (or Snowe) to the Senate, you deserve what you get.

Susan Collins writes a Washington Post essay where she waxes nostalgic about Bipartisanship and divided know, the Bipartisanship she helped to kill, and the Divided Government she hopes to foster by worrying more about her Committee standing instead of getting stuff done.

I'm not going to cover the actual essay. Rather, I just wanted to enjoy the ripping of her nostalgic walk down memory lane:

Susan Collins takes a crack at defending this belief in a Washington Post essay. Collins' essay is a valuable document, a perfect gem of intellectual incoherence, for its inadvertent exposure of the vacuity of the establishment view.

Collins' premise is simple: Republican control of Congress would be good because it would introduce divided government and hence more civility and bipartisan cooperation:

When one party has all the power, the temptation is to roll over the minority, leading to resentment and resistance because the minority has so few options.

It wasn't always this way. There were times when those who worked to avert legislative implosions were more welcome. In 2005, a group of senators came together to negotiate an agreement for considering judicial nominees. This "Gang of 14," of which I was part, sought to avoid what was known as the "nuclear option," a change in the Senate rules that would have brought about a legislative meltdown.

A few problems with this thesis present themselves immediately. First, we have a recent example of divided government: 2007-2008, when Democrats controlled Congress and Republicans the White House. It was not an Edenic time of bipartisan cooperation. The next most recent period of divided government, 1996-2000, featured government shutdowns and a wildly partisan attempt to impeach the president.

Maine, she's an idiot. And you're idiots for returning her to office. If you do so again, you're going to get what you deserve, which is nothing.

Nominated to the Fed. Blocked by the GOP. Wins Nobel Prize in Economics.

Truly, a party that does not value intelligence:

Peter Diamond, a 70-year-old economist at MIT, just won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Yes, that's the same Peter Diamond whom President Obama appointed to the Federal Reserve in April and whose confirmation Republicans have blocked.

It's not clear which Republican or Republican senators are stopping his nomination at this point, as he's the victim of one of those infamous anonymous holds. But two leading suspects are Jim Bunning and Richard Shelby, both of whom voted against Diamond's nomination in committee and the latter of whom has raised questions about Diamond's qualification.

Shelby has acknowledged that Diamond is a "skilled economist" but has said he wonders whether Diamond has sufficient expertise in monetary policy--even though three sitting Fed governors, including two appointed by Republicans, aren't even economists.