Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Fireside chat for December 18th, 2010 (VIDEO)

President Obama urges the Senate to heed the calls from Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, every living Republican Secretary of State, our NATO allies, and the leadership of the military: ratify the New START Treaty with Russia.

One more victory before y'all hit the road, right guys?

TOUCHDOWN!! United States of America!!

DADT is dead.  GLBT Community, feel free to spike the ball.

Of course, the rest of the world is wondering what the hell took us so long.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Looks like Jonathan Chait's made his choice!

And apparently, it's Multiple-Choice MittAnd apparently, I was wrong.  It wasn't Working America who came up with the name, it was the late-great Ted Kennedy.  My total bad.

[Jonathan Chait once thought that] Romney was the heir to the tradition of moderate Republicanism that his father, former Michigan Governor George Romney, had once championed. During the 1960s, the elder Romney had fought the good fight against the Republicans' Goldwater wing, urging the party to distance itself from John Birchers and other conservative extremists. The elder Romney never made it as a presidential candidate but maybe the younger Romney would.

Mitt wouldn't be getting my vote, obviously: He was still pretty conservative, particularly on economic issues. But I thought his problem-solving instincts and apparently sincere interest in public service would serve him well and that, when it was all over, he might end up doing good things in office.

But by early 2007, when I began the reporting of my profile, Romney was in full pander mode--saying whatever it took to win over the Republican base, even if that meant campaigning as precisely the sort of conservative ideologue his father had once disdained:

...if any one moment epitomized the new Mitt Romney, it was his speech before the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) in February. There, gathered in one place, were the intellectual and ideological heirs to the conservative movement that first captured control of the Republican Party in the 1960s. But Mitt Romney had not come to carry on his father's fight against the right wing. He had come, instead, to do what every other aspiring Republican presidential nominee was doing: beg for the group's approval. After being introduced by Grover Norquist, the conservative activist perhaps most responsible for the radical makeover of government economic policy in the last decade, Romney began his speech by suggesting it was a "good thing" the crowd would soon hear from Ann Coulter, who was next on the speaking agenda. From there, he fed the crowd red meat--attacking Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, and the press; promising to fight the liberal social agenda, to close U.S.borders, and to never, ever raise taxes. "This is not the time for us to shrink from conservative principles," Romney thundered. "It is time for us to stand in strength."

Romney's latest panders make me wonder not if those of us who believed in Romney were wrong about him from the beginning. After all, it was Ted Kennedy, back in 1996, who first zeroed in on Romney inconsistencies on abortion with the devastating line: "He's not pro-choice, he's not anti-choice. He's multiple choice."

Of course, most politicians pander. And there are times that I believe, as Frum apparently does, that the real Romney would make a decent public servant. But mostly I'm with Douthat these days: It's become virtually impossible to tell where the fake Romney ends and the real one begins.

ThinkProgress: The only shocking thing about that this guy's shocked!

Apparently, the founder of Muslims for Bush is shocked, SHOCKED I TELL YOU, that there's anti-Muslim Bigotry in the GOP:

Last week, Muhammad Ali Hasan, a lifelong Republican and the founder of Muslims for Bush, announced he was switching parties because he is disgusted with the GOP’s tolerance of bigotry and adoption of thinly-veiled Islamophobia. Hasan and his family have raised money for Republican candidates in their home state of Colorado, helped GOP campaigns, and Hasan has run for public office on the GOP ticket. But after months of watching conservatives fan the flames of intolerance for political gain, Hasan had had enough, and wrote an open letter to the GOP published last Friday in the Huffington Post:

In watching this summer, with the promotion of Arizona’s SB 1070, calls to revoke the 14th Amendment, anger at the overturn of California’s Proposition 8, and lastly, aggressive protest against a mosque in New York City, I came to question how much the GOP values the vision of our American Saints, the Founding Fathers. Quite frankly, we are no longer the party of Constitutionalists.

Honestly, I think Republicans are convinced that a) They're still the Party of Lincoln, and b) It's still 1864.

How should the Senate Vote?

First caught by Andrew Sullivan. If I had a frame, I'd hang it on my wall.

What should be the official Mitt Romney political nickname?

Okay, as he head into the 2012 Presidential Campaign (odds are, starting just after Oregon vs. Auburn), I think its incumbent on the Professional Left (or in my case, the semi-professional Left) to come up with a suitable nickname for Mitt Romney.

As you may be aware, I've taken to calling him RoboMitt. But there have been a lot of really attractive contenders out there.

Jonathan Bernstein refers to him as the Mittbott. Not bad.  Close to mine, but not bad.

Andrew Sullivan uses He Who Makes Plastic Look Real, which is really good, oh-so British...but ultimately takes too long to say.

And Working America came up with Multiple Choice Mitt, which is irresistible.

But in the end, it may not matter, because as Jonathan Chait said (while calling him blocky)

Sadly, I think Romney has virtually no chance to win the nomination. He is trapped in the position of both desperately needing to repudiate his signature achievement and being unable to risk another flip-flop. It's a real loss for American politics, and irony.

Give it some thought, I might go with Working America's creation. But thoughts on this topic are welcome in the coming year(s).

Why has the Media abdicated actual Journalism to the Daily Show? (VIDEO)

Remember when Network TeeVee news used to do this?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Worst Responders
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

And the roundtable afterwards:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

I'm not going to bother with the Mike Huckabee portion of the interview, as he seemed more interested in defending (and lying in favor of) Fox News than about the GOP's blocking the bill.

Fort McHenry has gone Mobile...

For the two of you who might care (and I could be overestimating things), Fort McHenry is now available as a Mobile Blog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Greg Sargent: How the House Dems put themselves in a bind over the Tax Cut Deal

Okay, so it's a little old, but no less interesting:

Here's the situation, in a nutshell. Despite their own dislike of the tax cut compromise, House Dem leaders want it to pass the House. Period, full stop. They want the middle class tax cuts and unemployment benefits to continue, and they don't want to thwart an initiative upon which President Obama has staked so much.

At the same time, Dem leaders need to do something about the anger and near-despair among the House Dem rank and file. The idea has been to change the bill in some way to make it more palatable to Dems and to make them feel they've had a role in the process -- perhaps via an amendment on the hated estate tax provision.

But here's the problem. The tax deal passed the Senate yesterday by a huge number, 83-15. Worse for House Dems, a number of notable liberals voted for it, including Barbara Boxer, Chris Dodd, Sheldon Whitehouse and John Kerry.

The overwhelming support for the tax deal -- even among Senate liberals -- gives House Dem leaders less maneuvering room to make any substantial changes to the bill. They don't want to risk making changes that wouldn't have support if the bill were kicked back to the Senate, because they don't want to risk imperiling the deal.

"It really takes the air out of the sails of House Democrats when there's such a huge vote in the Senate for it," one House aide lamented to me. "It changes the dynamic in an unfortunate way. If you have the Senate saying they're accepting this deal in large margins, you have no partners to improve this."

That's why, as I noted yesterday, House Dems may end up voting on amendments to the bill that are likely to fail. It will enable Dems to register their disapproval of the estate tax provision and other things -- without preventing the bill from passing in the end, as Dem leaders and the White House want. Strong GOP support is expected to help it clear the House.

It's like I said before: Please, Mr. President lead least up until the point you actually get a deal done, so we can turn around and blame you for it.

And nothing says process like wasting a bunch of time on amendments that are going to go exactly nowhere.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Photoshop Rap (VIDEO)

This should tell you what I think about today's news day.

My favorite line in the video "Oooh, an urban!"

Actually, the tips described in the video are 100% valid. But getting a Photoshop Book would probably make things easier for you.

Courtesty @vdaze, the "I'm Grateful" site... (VIDEO)

Just a nice collection of photos and videos containing reasons to be grateful to the President.

Actually, I missed this video:

RoboMitt 2.0 for Prez 2012! (Because the GOP deserves the very worst) The hilarity begins!

Josh Marshall has a fantastic piece up about Mitt's travails and troubles for 2012. Is he suggesting that RoboMitt 2.0 is doomed in 2012?

Yeah.  Actually, I think he does right there at the end.

There are two more big liabilities on his ledger: 1st, he changes his ideology about every cycle and his actual policies predilections seem much more moderate than what flies in today's GOP. In other words, it's hard for him to shake the perception that he's a weather vane who doesn't have any real political principles. 2nd, and more devastating, the terror of 'Obamacare' is based on the legislation Mitt pushed through in Massachusetts. It's his signature piece of legislation. And going into 2012, that's a big, big problem.

To overcome those liabilities, Mitt has to do everything in his power to avoid a scenario in which he's the 'moderate guy' in the 2012 primary season against some other person who ends up as the Tea Party / hard right standard bearer, whether that's Palin or maybe Huckabee or whoever else. And so you have him at every point needing to stake out the most hard right position available -- in this case, proposing that we get rid of our system of unemployment insurance since, in his telling, unemployment insurance promotes laziness.

All that said, while I'd bet against Romney beating President Obama in 2012, he's probably the only one of the current crop who even stands a serious chance.

Weather vane?  What are you talking about, Josh?

By the way, Editor's note. While you were reading those paragraphs, RoboMitt upgraded himself to 2.1 status.

Whoops. Spoke too soon, he's at 2.2 now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

BREAKING: Richard Holbrooke has died.

It's too bad. I was hoping that since he was in critical, but stable condition today, things were looking better.

Thoughts, prayers and love to his family. I am so, so sorry for your loss.

Greg Sargent: Looks like Judge Hudson decided to re-write the Commerce Clause...

Wasn't that nice of him?

Tim Jost, a professor of law at the Washington and Lee University Law School, dismissed this argument, deriding it as a fundamental misreadling of the Constitution and claiming that the judge has "rewritten the Commerce Clause."

Jost, who spoke to reporters on a conference call organized by the pro-health reform Center of American Progress, accused Hudson of an overly narrow reading of the Commerce Clause. He said the judge's reading turned on the idea that the Commerce Clause only focuses on regulating economic activity, when in fact it also empowers Congress to regulate economic decisions that are "not immediately classifable as activity."

The Commerce Clause, Jost said, "really turns on economic decisions." By this Jost means that the Commerce Clause empowers Congress to step in and regulate when Americans fail to participate in economic activity in a way that impacts interstate commerce. In other words, failing to purchase health insurance does not constitute economic activity -- in a sense it's the absence of economic activity -- but Congress can step in anyway.

Jost argued that the Supreme Court has already upheld the right of Congress to regulate such economic decision-making. For instance, Jost noted, in the 1942 case Wickard v Filburn, the Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Clause gives Congress the authority to prohibit wheat farmers from growing wheat for their own use. This forced them to participate in interstate commerce to get wheat.

The Constitution, by the way, empowers Congress "to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States."

Jost noted that with Wickard v Filburn, the Supreme Court affirmed Congress' authority, under certain circumstances, to step in and force participation in interstate commerce when individuals declare: "I'm not in the stream of commerce. I'm just out here on my own." This is directly comparable to the debate over the individual mandate, Jost pointed out.

"This decision is very defective," Jost concluded, "and will be reversed by the appellate court or the Supreme Court."

How to separate the Lazy from the non-Lazy among the Media when it comes to the Health Care Reform ruling.

Do they say something like Jonathan Chait or Ezra Klein does?

Second, even given the above, Hudson conceded that striking down the individual mandate would not invalidate the whole Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. If you strike the individual mandate but leave the rest, you have a system that could easily be patched up with a better mechanism to avoid free-riding. The real loser here is the health insurance lobby. Health insurers would have preferred to avoid any health care reform at all. But the health insurance lobby's second-highest priority would be a working system with an individual mandate. A world in which they cannot discriminate against sick people but in which healthy people can avoid buying insurance until they're sick is a nightmare.

The health insurance lobby spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat health care reform. They have a lot of pull among Republicans. A system that gouges the health insurers but keeps in place the subsidies and regulations liberals want is not a status quo I see lasting very long.

Or are they Huffington Post?

Anyone...and I mean anyone who wrote today that the Health Care Reform was ruled unconstitutional either is lazy, stupid or both...and let's just say there are a lot of lazy and/or stupid folks among media of all classes.

Because people who write what Jonathan and Ezra did, took a little time, the decision.

Who needs to get their swagger back again?

Josh today in a somewhat accurate statement:

Even knowing all this and with all the policy particulars having their importance, some things are critical to leadership that are more personal and intangible. Look at President Obama today and the guy just doesn't have his swagger. The confidence is gone. And so is the smile. That's human, I guess. It's been a rough year. And like other presidents you can see the age on this president after only a couple years.

But people want to know they're on board with a political leader who's got a plan, who's got something up his sleeve, who's got some extra angle, some well of charisma or luck to draw on that makes the math in his team's favor more than just 2 + 2 = 4.

Now, as I tried to hint over the weekend, people tend to forget that it took President Clinton the better part of a year to get his head screwed back on right after the 1994 congressional midterms. And even beyond the psychological dynamics it's just hard to look too on top of your game when you've got all these jaunty Republicans milling around.

But it's still important, perhaps the critical factor. No one wants to follow someone who looks like a loser or feels beat. Yes, I know all the different arguments about the tax cut deal and where he's going to pick his fights and where he's not or where he's refused to so far. But the president needs his swagger back. Right now it may be his most critical deficit.

What Josh says is not totally wrong, but I think he's way overstating the impact of one statement to the press. At the same time...The President wasn't the one who went on 60 Minutes, and John Boehner .

If anyone needs to get their swagger back, it's the crying man of Orange.  Or did he ever have it in the first place?

Today's Tweet of the day winner is...

vdaze, from Baltimore, Maryland, responding to a post about the President's announcement of the Tax Cut Deal passing the Senate:

@: THAT ... is a sharp suit/tie combo. // It could be better. PRIMARY CHALLENGE!!!!!

Sorry, vdaze...our prize budget is...well, roughly the same as the budget for Fort McHenry as a whole. But I loved that tweet with all my heart. Still laughing.

Greg Sargent: Senate votes for tax cut deal. What's route through House?

Hopefully, Greg will use tiny words so Alan Grayson can understand:

Here's the challenge for House Dem leaders right now, as I understand it: Come up with a way for Dem members to vent their disapproval of the deal, so they don't feel too stiffarmed and marginalized by the process, without it resulting in changes significant enough to cause Republicans to walk away. The deal is expected to clear the House with a combination of strong GOP support and some backing among moderate Dems. Tweaking the bill in a way that drives away Republicans could imperil its survival.

The result could be a situation in which Dems hold a vote on amendments to the bill that are likely to fail. House Dems are particularly angry about the deal's estate tax provision; Dem leaders could hold a vote amending that provision, allowing Dem members to register disapproval. But the amendment would likely be opposed by almost all Republicans and some moderate Dems. So it would likely lose.

But rank and file Dems would have had a chance to make their voices heard before the final vote passing the deal through the House.

Greg Sargent: Looks like Rank-and-File Dems support the Tax Cut Deal, putting them at odds witht the "Elites" and "Villagers"

In Greg's own words: Dems heart compromise!

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that overall, nearly seven in 10 Americans support the deal. But it's the partisan breakdown of the numbers that's of particular interest.

It finds that among Democrats, a surprising 68 percent support the package. This is true, even though only 38 percent of Dems in the same poll support the provision extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. The provisions that Obama won -- including the extension of unemployment benefits -- induced another 30 percent of Dems to agree to support the overall deal, despite their opposition to extending the cuts for the wealthy. This suggests they may buy the idea that the compromise Obama won is a good one.

A new Pew poll out today has similar numbers. It finds that 63 percent of Democrats, and 65 percent of self-described liberals, supports the deal.

Whatever the merits of the deal, these numbers do raise doubts about the depth and breadth of the revolt it has sparked among Dems. What's more, recent polls have shown that in general, Dems want Obama to compromise with Republicans in far greater numbers than GOPers want their leaders to do the same with the President. Dems heart compromise!

In case you missed the video of the Metrodome Roof Collapsing... (VIDEO)

It's eerily beautiful...only because no one was hurt when it went down.

Between this and the Dallas Practice Facility collapse (where someone was severely injured), maybe its time to realize these Inflata-roofs or "Steel" structures don't really work in areas with the potential for inclement weather...which would be everywhere.

Also, so the Gophers got a new Stadium...the Twinkies got a new Stadium...and the Vikes get what?  Bupkus?

The Huffington Post just lied to you...

Well, maybe lied is too strong a word...but this keeps happening over and over again with them.


It's not. It's pointed not been ruled unconstitutional. What did Ezra just say???

And the story links to one with radically different headline:

Health Care Reform Provision Is Unconstitutional, Federal Judge Rules

Which is accurate.

Huffington Post is not an ethical organization. They lie just about as much as Fixed News...all in the service of a click.

Ezra Klein: The Virgina Judge's ruling is good news for Health Care Reform?


Hudson's ruling is the third from a district court so far. Previously, Judge Norman Moon found the mandate constitutional, and so too did Judge George Steeh. Both Steeh and Norman were Clinton appointees, which is to say that so far, the rulings are proceeding along predictably partisan lines.

Hudson ruled against the government, but he didn't stop it. He refused the plaintiff's request for an injunction against the legislation's continued implementation. The construction of the bill's infrastructure will continue. And second, he refused to overrule anything but the individual mandate itself.

The real danger to health-care reform is not that the individual mandate will be struck down by the courts. That'd be a problem, but there are a variety of ways to restructure the individual mandate such that it doesn't penalize anyone for deciding not to do something (which is the core of the conservative's legal argument against the provision). Here's one suggestion from Paul Starr, for instance. The danger is that, in striking down the individual mandate, the court would also strike down the rest of the bill. In fact, that's exactly what the plaintiff has asked Hudson to do.

Hudson pointedly refused. "The Court will sever only Section 1501 [the individual mandate] and directly-dependent provisions which make specific reference to 1501." That last clause has made a lot of pro-reform legal analysts very happy.