Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Fireside Chat for March 5th, 2011 (VIDEO)

The President calls for Democrats and Republicans to come together on a budget that cuts wasteful spending without sacrificing job creating investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rachel Maddow asks "What's next? Hire Dog The Bounty Hunter to go get them wayward Democrats?"


The Story of the Citizens United Case, now with animation! (VIDEO)

I've never heard of "The Story of Stuff" before this, can bet I'll be paying attention to them from now on. This was good stuff.

Now I'm going after MoveOn? What the hell kind of Friday is this?

I got this Email from MoveOn (a solicitation for funds, of course) that read:

Dear MoveOn member,

Republican politicians in Wisconsin have gone mad with power.

Yesterday, the state Senate president issued arrest warrants for the brave Democratic state senators who left Wisconsin to stop the attacks on workers. And Republicans have locked down the Capitol building, even denying access to firefighters responding to an emergency call.

Here's my problem. There's nothing factually wrong with the opening of that letter. The hyperbole might hook you if know...haven't been paying attention to what's going on in Wisconsin. And let's be honest, Liberals have been paying attention.

Yeah, the State Senate is calling for the Democrats arrest, and something was voted on to that effect.

But here's a couple things MoveOn left out, because reminding you of these facts don't make for good fundraising.

One, the Senate unanimously voted on a resolution to arrest the fleeing Democrats. A resolution is not a law. It does not have the power of law. Only a Law is a Law. A resolution is a way for a Legislative body to say, in effect, we really, really, really feel strongly about this...but can't do nuthin' about it.

For the State Senate to pass a law, there needs to be a quorum...also known as minimum number of Senators in attendance. If you recall, that's kinda the reason the Democrats went on the run in the first place.

Two, the head of the Wisconin Police Union isn't so sure such a law (if it were passed) would be Constitutional:

"It's unclear to me on what constitutional authority Senate Republicans think law enforcement officers can take state lawmakers who have not committed a crime into custody," James Palmer, the head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, told me by phone moments ago.

The GOP proposal would not allow for the arrest of the missing Dems, but would allow for lawmakers to be taken into custody by the Senate sergeant-at-arms if they don't return to the capitol by today at 4 p.m.

"I don't see how a sergeant-at-arms would have that authority," said Palmer, whose union represents all municipal police officers. "I don't see how any individual, law enforcement or otherwise, has the authority to detain another individual if there's no probable cause to suggest that he committed any crime."

Palmer's union endorsed Governor Walker's opponent in the gubernatorial election. But one local paper, the Wisconsin State Journal, also raised the possibility today that the move may be unconstiutional.

So good luck with that, State Senate!

Three. You can look at what happened with the Firefighters being denied access to the State Capitol as totalitarian overreach, or you can look at it as I look at a lawsuit waiting to happen.

If Scott Walker is hell bent on keeping protestors out of the State Capitol (something already in violation of court order and the State Constitution), he better pray that no one gets seriously hurt during his hamfisted rule. If someone, a Legislator say, has a heart attack in the Capitol, and is denied care by Walker's edict, then Walker, and the State are going to get sued for an amount of money that's going to make their current budget shortfall look like chicken-feed in comparison.

That may be why a Judge told Walker to back off and open up the Capitol this morning.

Also, having Police roughing up a Democratic Assemblyman going into the Capitol to get his clothes doesn't help your look.

Listen, I respect MoveOn and what they do, but we don't need bull@#$% hyperbole. Leave that to the teabaggers. Facts are plenty for Liberals/Progressives.

All they had to do was write an email, saying basically. Look, we're trying to get some of the State Senators recalled, and we need your financial help to do it (something they eventually got around to saying)

TPM: Actual excellent news from Ohio's Union battles...

Ohio, I expect you to get out there and sign, sign, sign:

As the Ohio state House prepares to take up the controversial collective bargaining and union rights provisions contained in the just-passed state Senate Bill 5, union supporters and Democrats are looking ahead to a battle that will put the legislation in the hands of people they say are on their side: the voters of Ohio.

Though they plan to fight SB 5 tooth-and-nail as it works its way through the Republican-controlled House, leaders of the SB 5 opposition tell TPM that they don't expect to win there. There are 59 Republicans in the House and just 40 Democrats, meaning there's little chance for a repeat of the drama seen in the Senate, where SB 5 passed by just one vote.

But, thanks to the eccentricities of Ohio law, passage in the House doesn't mean SB 5 is guaranteed to go into effect. Though they more than likely can't stop it in the legislature, the opposition can potentially block its implementation by promising to take it on at the ballot box. That means the fight over SB 5 could extend for months -- maybe even all the way to November, 2012.

Union leaders and Democrats have already begun shifting their focus to a referendum fight, which would require union supporters to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures in the days following an expected signing of SB 5 by Gov. John Kasich (R).

Once that's done, the law could be placed on hold (meaning it wouldn't go into effect at all) while Ohio waits to see what voters have to say about SB 5. And that's a fight the Democrats say they can win.

But the best news, that this will be decided in November of 2012?  Just when I started to worry about Ohio going going Republican in 2012, this happens.

Right in the middle of the President's re-elect, energized and pissed off Union Voters going to the ballot box to stuff SB 5 back in Kasich's face...oh and by the way, pulling the lever for Obama at the same time.

(Still, just like Wisconsin, I'm not thrilled with Ohio voters for putting Kasich in, in the first place.  Again, this didn't have to happen.)

As I said...actual excellent news.

I'm going to take a moment, and bash my fellow Liberals in Wisconsin...but just for a moment.

This has just been contrarian March, hasn't it?  First off, I've got to admit that Dr. Paul Krugman (king of all things economic and numerical) has made a solid political observation.

A quick note on polling and voting: as more and more polls come out showing that the public does not, in fact, hate public workers and their unions, there’s been a stock answer — namely, that the real poll took place in November, so who cares what a thousand or so people say now.

Aside from the fact that this reveals a complete failure to understand the statistics of polling, what it really gets wrong is what the election represented. Voters were not, in fact, asked to vote on what Republican governors like Scott Walker are now trying to do; in a real sense what we’re seeing is a case of bait and switch.

And here again, I find myself flashing back to the Bush years. In 2004 Bush won a national election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists; as soon as the election was done, he declared that this gave him a mandate to … privatize Social Security. Not so much, it turned out.

The one thing I've got to say is that as much as I stand with my Union Brothers and Sisters in Wisconsin, I'm also mighty pissed at the voters of Wisconsin.

Why?  They let this freak, Scott Walker, get into office in the first place because they were "trying to send a message" to President Obama that they were pissed about the Economy.

(Oh, and for record, Milwaukee (especially you, Sherry)'re excused from this. You knew what this freak was like.  You did your best to never let him see the inside of the Governor's office except with a tour guide.)

Politicians always view their mandates in the affirmative. The next time a Politician admits: "Yeah, I know I won by four points, but the voters were really turned off my opponent and voted for me as a protest" will be the first time.

Everything, even decisions won by a handful of votes is automatically become a "mandate" and a green light to do what they want.

Perhaps you might recall something I wrote back in September: in Congressional Democrats, as lame as they are, are not Barack Obama's reward for doing a good job. They are not points accumulating in some political video game you're playing in your head. You are not, as you deluded jack-offs seem to think, sending any kind of a message this way. Either you want a Liberal or Progressive Agenda to succeed or you don't. If you do, you first vote for the best candidate in the primaries. You can fall in love all you want during the primaries. You can vote for the most progressive, green, uber-Liberal man or woman you want.

But when the General Election happens, you fall in @#$%ing line.

Hopefully, your dream Candidate has made it to the General Election as the Democratic Nominee, but if he or she hasn't, then guess what?: the people have spoken however lame that may be. And you better get on board, because you the opposition is never going to give your ideas the time of day. Better a Blanche Lincoln, as worthless a Senate Candidate as she may be than whatever neo-Teabagger wingnut that's running against her.

But Liberals never figure that out until its waaaay too late.

Well, it's March now, and watching what's going on in Wisconsin, it's waaaay too late...again.

Betcha wish you voted, but nooooo.  You just had to send a protest vote. You managed to lose one of the more genuinely committed Liberals in the nation, one Russ Feingold. You decided to stay home.

So how's this all working out for you?

Fingers crossed, I still think we're gonna win this thing in Wisconsin...but I wanted to be on the record: it didn't have to be this way. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thomas Ricks' six handy tips to remember before imposing a No-Fly Zone

Thomas Ricks (author of Fiasco) has some helpful hints to those (like me) who were (notice I'm using the past tense) advocating for a no-fly zone:

1. Imposing a no-fly zone is an act of war. For example, it would require attacking Qaddafi's air defense systems-not just anti-aircraft guns and missile batteries, but also radar and communications systems. We may also need some places out in the desert to base helicopters to pick up downed fliers. So, first question: Do we want to go to war with Qaddafi?

2. Hmmm, another American war in an Arab state -- what's not to like?

3. How long are we willing to continue this state of war? What if we engage in an act of war, and he prevails against the rebels? Do we continue to fight him, escalate -- or just slink away? And what do we do about aircrews taken prisoner?

4. And if we are going to go to war with his government, why not just try to finish the job quickly and conduct air strikes against him and his infrastructure? In this sense, a no-fly zone is a half measure, which generally is a bad idea in war. Why risk going to war and losing? That is, if we are willing to do air strikes, why not go the whole way and use ground troops now to go in and topple a teetering regime? I actually would prefer this option.

5. See what I mean?

6. No, the Iraqi no-fly zones are not a good precedent to cite. I actually went out and looked at the operation of the northern no-fly zone in October of 2000. I came away thinking that one reason that no American aircraft were shot down in the Iraqi no-fly zones was because Saddam Hussein really did not want to-that is, he did not want to provoke America. The anti-aircraft shots that were taken were wide on purpose. A better parallel might be Serbia, which (aided by a smart Hungarian national who now is a baker) managed to down an F-117 stealth fighter aircraft in March 1999 with an SA-3 anti-aircraft missile.

As General Mattis once said, if you're going to take Vienna, take f---ing Vienna.

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan for first catching this.

Also explains why the administration hasn't exactly been leaping onto this idea with any sort of gusto.

TPM: Rep. Ron Paul: "Education is Not a Right" (VIDEO)

You can vote for who you want to, but this is who you're dealing with:

No one has a right to anyone's wealth, I don't have a right to come to you and say my poor kid needs 500 dollars for an education, an education is not a right, medical care is not a right.

-Ron Paul

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Republican in Wisconsin tells (most of the) actual truth about what's going on (VIDEO)

Great catch by Andrew Sullivan.

This guy seems to know what time it is, laying in to the State Senate Leader and the Governor, like he did. Still, this guy won't committ to shooting the bill down on principle. One must wonder at the end of the day what good is he.

UPDATE: 5:20pm Pacific: Also, "let's tackle this budget, but not raise taxes"? As much respect as I want to show this guy, how seriously can I take him when he says that.

He is a Republican, after all.

And now comes the part where I correct the correction, which itself was corrected...

Yeah, I don't know what the hell is going on anymore.

W.H. not ruling out attack on Libya

-- This was Carney’s response when he was asked if the White House is considering an attack on Libya: “We are actively considering a variety of options. We have not ruled any options out.”

The one problem I have with specific conservatives like Scott Walker and Newt Ginrich, it's not that I find their ideas appalling (which of course I do), its just their certainty that their ideas are the only ideas worth having, and therefore debate with them is pointless.

I don't want to be that guy.

As much as it's mildly embarrassing to correct a posting here or there, I'd rather be the type of blogger who looks you in your virtual eye and shrugs "I dunno", rather than make something up to make myself look good. If I take a guess, you'll know its a freaking guess.

And if I don't know, I'm gonna tell I'm telling you now...I don't know.

Not that I don't appreciate, but...

I got this in the mail (email) today:

The Wisconsin 14--the brave Democratic state senators who left the state to stop the Republican attacks on workers--are under increasing pressure to return to Wisconsin. And as soon as just one does, Republicans will be able to jam through their terrible bill.

Unfortunately, there have been credible reports over the last 24 hours that this is imminent.

There was an petition, which I signed, showing my support for the Wisconsin 14, but I knew better. How did I know better?

Well, there's this:

TPM just spoke to Wisconsin Democratic state Sen. Chris Larson, one of the fugitive Dems who has left the state in order to block the three-fifths quorum needed for a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union proposals, regarding the state Senate GOP's newly-passed fines of $100 per day for the absent Dems. And the way Larson tells it, the fines don't faze him and his fellow Democrats.

"They've become increasingly desperate with these petty things that they're throwing out there," Larson said. "The next thing they're gonna throw out is we're gonna have to say 'Mother, may I' before anybody can talk."

And more importantly, this:

"Well, we'll have to see when we go back," said Larson. "We'll go over it with some lawyers. The fact is, it's giving - it's not making us think about it twice. We're focused on preserving workers' rights, preserving the way of life in Wisconsin without these huge cuts to rights. That's what we're focused on.

"If they want to throw out fines, if they want to call us names and if they want to take over our staff, they're doing everything they can to ignore what the real issue is, and that's that they're going too far with their power grab. The public is crying foul and calling them out on their power grab, and they're just ignoring it."

He also added: "What they do to us is of little consequence, compared to what they're doing to themselves right now."

Umm, does it sound to you like their return is "imminent"???

Nate and the Bonddad talk Oil, the Recovery, and the President's Re-Election...

First we have Nate's piece from this morning:

The price of oil is on the rise — above $100 a barrel in overnight markets — while President Obama’s approval ratings may be on the decline.

So far any change in the president’s standing has been modest, and it would be premature to conclude that higher gas prices are the cause. But if they continue to rise, what sort of threat might they pose to his re-election prospects?

There are two things we need to consider. First are the direct effects: do higher gas prices, by themselves, tend to significantly damage the president’s standing? Then there are the indirect effects: the way that higher fuel prices could ricochet onto the economic recovery, and impact variables like G.D.P. growth and inflation that have been shown to correlate with a president’s re-election chances.

Ultimately, Nate said there’s not a lot of evidence that oil prices are all that important for the President's re-election chances.

But what about the greater economy? For that, we turn to the Bonddad:

I believe the evidence is clear: the U.S. economy is in the middle of a recovery. We've had six straight quarters of GDP growth, a solid manufacturing sector and a recovering service sector. Other countries are growing, which is giving strong support to U.S. exports. PCEs are now higher on an inflation adjusted basis than pre-recession levels. The two laggards are employment (which is typical as it is a lagging indicator) and housing (which will be a problem area for the next year at least). So, will the current spike in oil prices derail the recovery?

I don't believe we are there yet for several reasons. First, the events in the oil market are only a week old. (although they seem to have gone on far longer). Second, I think the overall economic recovery now has legs -- the recovery is no longer fueled by government spending and inventory restocking but by broader based foreign and domestic demand. As previously mentioned, PCEs are up and increasing; retail sales (a smaller subset of this data) are also doing well. Businesses are investing and commercial real estate is coming back. While the increase in demand is still new, it is there. A broader economic recovery implies one that is harder to slow down by external shocks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"To prepare the full range of options..." or not.

This blog maintains a sensibility roughly akin to one of my favorite TV Shows: Anthony Bourdain's No Resevations (only with Politics, instead of Food).

Like the Travel Channel star, I try to put our mistakes up there for all to see.

So you might recall me getting all beligerent and saying this:

What...did I say?

The United States is moving naval and air forces, including an aircraft carrier, into the Mediterranean Sea near Libya, U.S. officials said Monday, as the Obama administration and its allies consider how to respond to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's brutal efforts to suppress a widespread rebellion among civilians and army troops.

Yeah. About that...

I picked up a copy of the Guardian (ahem...scrolled through my RSS feed) and saw this:

Cameron backtracks on Libya no-fly zone plan as US distances itself 
David Cameron's suggestion of establishing no-fly zone over Libya and arming rebels shot down by US and France

Britain has backtracked from its belligerent military stance over Libya after the Obama administration publicly distanced itself from David Cameron's suggestion that Nato should establish a no-fly zone over the country and that rebel forces should be armed.

As senior British military sources expressed concern that Downing Street appeared to be overlooking the dangers of being sucked into a long and potentially dangerous operation, the prime minister said Britain would go no further than contacting the rebel forces at this stage.

Mea freakin' culpa on that one.

Also, last night's Haiti season premiere was pretty damn good. Depressing as all get out, but good and informative.

Monday, February 28, 2011

"To prepare the full range of options..." II

What...did I say?

The United States is moving naval and air forces, including an aircraft carrier, into the Mediterranean Sea near Libya, U.S. officials said Monday, as the Obama administration and its allies consider how to respond to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's brutal efforts to suppress a widespread rebellion among civilians and army troops.

The U.S. decision comes as Gadhafi appeared to be making a concerted effort to retake control of Zawiyah, a town about 30 miles west of Tripoli that has been in rebel hands since last week. Two people reached separately by phone said heavy fighting had broken out in the early evening as militias loyal to Gadhafi attacked from both the east and the west.

U.S. officials said no decision had been made about how the U.S. forces would be used, but that one option under consideration is the imposition of a no-fly zone designed to prevent Gadhafi from using aircraft as he fought the rebels.

That was from McClatchy.

And according to the BBC, it looks like we're going from thinking about it, to planning it:

Britain is working with its allies on a plan to establish a military no-fly zone over Libya, says David Cameron.

The prime minister said the threat of "further appalling steps" being taken by Col Muammar Gaddafi to oppress his own people was behind the talks.

He said he did not rule out "the use of military assets" in Libya and said the "murderous regime" must end.

Rare is the step we take without the Brits. There's a reason its the "Special Relationship".