Friday, August 12, 2011

The Fireside Chat for August 12th, 2011 (VIDEO)

While members of Congress are at home in their districts, President Obama asks Americans that agree that it's time to put country before party and pass stalled bills to help grow our economy to let them know.

The President's speech at Holland, Michigan (VIDEO)

This one was a keeper.  Not one of his more stunning speeches, but as a rough draft?  It was very revealing.

Steve Benen:

The president is in the process of re-diagnosing what ails us, which is challenging but interesting. In this model, the economy is struggling badly, but that’s a symptom of a larger disease — policymakers are fully capable of addressing this and other problems if our politics weren’t so badly broken.

The unstated point is redirecting blame: don’t blame one person or one piece of legislation for what frustrates you; blame those who won’t cooperate, won’t work in good faith, won’t try to solve problems. And given the most recent polls, Americans making this judgment will blame the wildly unpopular Republican Party.

With this in mind, Obama went on to note we’ve seen officials who act as it “winning the next election is more important than fulfilling our responsibilities to you and to our country”; we’ve seen a downgrade coming as the result of “Washington” lacking “the capacity to come together and get things done”; we’ve seen good ideas languish on Capitol Hill because of “the refusal of some folks in Congress to put the country ahead of party. There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win — and that has to stop.”

I especially enjoyed hearing this advice for Congress: “Stop sending out press releases. Start passing some bills that we all know will help our economy right now.” (Speaker Boehner responded by sending out a press release.)
UPDATE: August 15, 2011 3:54pm. Put up the infinitely better YouTube Video from the White House.

Randi Rhodes' interview with John Nichols after the Wisconsin Election (AUDIO)

UPDATE 10:57am, Pacific: Important point to remember, and it come about eight minutes into the interview. Dale Schultz is a Republican Moderate who voted against the Union-stripping bill. He is a pro-Labor Republican, and still has his seat.  (We did not even attempt to recall him.  Why?  He did the right thing.)  He has taken pains to kick the holy @#$^ out of Walker whenever he gets the chance.

So the upshot of it is, on Labor issues, the Democrats now have the majority in the Wisconsin State House.

I know what I said, and I stand by most of it (particularly the part about if people had bothered to show up in 2010)...but hearing this made me feel a whole lot better about the state of play in Wisconsin. This was a victory. Mea culpa!

Joe Scarborough: People who think Bachmann can win are "too stupid to run a Slurpee Machine in Des Moines"... (VIDEO)

Huffington Post makes you watch the whole clip, but Fort McHenry cuts right to the good stuff:

Slightly off topic, the look on Halperin's face is priceless.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pelosi makes her picks...

Waiting for confirmation, but I've heard Clyburn, Van Hollen and Barcerra.

Love 'em.

Deadlock city.

Steve Benen and Kevin Drum team up to give a good Brut Slap to the Professional Left.

I didn't bother to read Matt Miller's screed in the Washington Post blasting the Prseident.  Wasn't worth my time, but Steve Benen and Kevin Drum did...and ripped the hell of out of him for it, along with all the other Professional Lefties.

Wow. Kevin Drum started off with the same line I did:

Feel free to click the link if you want to read more. I didn't much feel like bothering myself.

Honest to God, Republicans must all be sitting in their back rooms and just cackling like hell right now. Think about it. They developed a strategy to hamstring the president completely — a strategy that's bulletproof thanks to our country's Constitution — knowing that it would rally their base but also hoping that it would cause moderates and lefties alike to become disgusted with Obama's weakness even though we all know who's really responsible for what's going on. And it worked! In fact, it's worked better than they could possibly have imagined. They can probably barely keep from spitting up their beers right now.

We are such chumps.

Steve Benen:

A couple of weeks ago, the day after the debt-ceiling agreement was announced — a deal I repeatedly condemned, by the way — I asked, “Am I supposed to be angrier with the radicals who held a gun to our heads, or those who prevented them from pulling the trigger?”

Even among those who know “who the real villains are,” there’s apparently still some ambiguity about the answer.

Based on nothing but my own perceptions and recent experiences, I’m often surprised at how common this is. I’m on a number of email lists, for example, with fellow lefties in various circles, and I’d say the criticisms of Obama on a daily basis, particularly over the last month or so, outnumber criticisms of Republicans by at least 50 to 1. These are folks who know full well who’s chiefly responsible for the nation’s self-inflicted wounds, but like Miller, emphasize the fact they’re “mad at Barack Obama” anyway.

The unstated message seems to be, “Sure, Republicans have become an American nightmare. That’s obvious. In fact, it’s such a given, it’s not worth talking about. Instead, let’s denounce the White House….”

But as Kevin noted, if we all know who’s actually responsible for what’s going on, maybe it is worth talking about, rather than playing the game the way the right prefers?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Melissa Harris Perry takes aim and DESTROYS "The Help" (VIDEO)...

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

And she's STILL picking the movie out of her teeth...

Ezra Klein: The Supercommittee...built to deadlock.

So start looking at that trigger folks, because I'm betting that's where we're headed:

House Speaker John Boehner has chosen Reps. Dave Camp, Fred Upton and Jeb Hensarling, and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell has chosen Sens. Rob Portman, Jon Kyl and Pat Toomey. Of the six, Portman has expressed the openness to the Senate Gang of Six’s deficit plan, as The Hill points out. In late July, at the height of the debt-ceiling negotiations, he called the group’s work “a step in the right direction.” 
But Portman never came out fully in support of the Gang of Six’s plan, and his commitment to the GOP hardline seems to have firmed up. Just yesterday, Portman told the Columbus Dispatch that any tax increases should be off the table. While he also affirmed his support for raising revenue through tax reform — eliminating loopholes and the like — Portman made it clear last month that he doesn’t think that tax reform should be part of a deficit deal. As his spokesman told ABC News last month, Portman “believes we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and that tax reform should be used not to increase revenue but to bring about a more efficient and competitive tax code by lowering rates while clearing out underbrush.” 
In other words, even the GOP’s most moderate supercommittee member has ruled out tax increases or tax reform as part of a grand bargain. And without any concessions on revenue from Republicans, there’s not much chance that they will sign on to a plan that will also be acceptable to Democrats. As Senate Majority Harry Reid’s picks confirm, Democrats will be advocating a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction that pairs spending cuts with new revenue. Sens. Max Baucus, John Kerry and Patty Murray may willing to consider entitlement reforms, to varying degrees. But it seems clear that they won’t sign on to a cuts-only package with only nominal revenue increases. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has yet to announce her choices for the committee, but they’re likely to tack further to the left than the Senate Dems and push back even harder against a deal without significant revenue increases. 
There was a lot of skepticism about the supercommittee to begin with. And the leadership’s announcements will just add to the chorus of cynics — and prompt Capitol Hill to look even more closely at what cuts will be triggered if the group fails to come to a deal.

"If"?  What "if", Ezra?

The main shock for me is that two people I assumed were going to be on this train wreck: Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, are nowhere to be see.

Still, what the hell do I know?  I'm a Screenwriter from Maryland.

More perspective from Rick Ungar on Wisconsin...

Rick Ungar lays out the good news and the (mostly) bad (by a slight margin) news:

The loss was both hard and significant on a number of levels.

Had the election been influenced by a low voter turnout – something that typically bodes ill for Democrats – that would have been put a different face on the story.

But the turnout was spectacular. And, based on the results, Republicans were every bit as energized as Democrats.

GOP supporters had the backs of their sitting Senators, coming to the polls in big numbers to deliver the message that they too are as engaged and energized in the battle taking place in Wisconsin as the progressives and that is precisely what should have those who oppose the conservative agenda – in Wisconsin and throughout the nation – shaking in their boots.

The GOP was not just sending the message that they too know how to show up at the polls. They had a deeper message to send, one that was addressed to the unions. It was a message that came through loud and clear.

We’re (the voters) just not that into you.

The unions poured some $20 million dollars in the Wisconsin effort. For their money, they improved their minority in the State Senate by two votes but failed to come away with the majority required to put the breaks on Governor Scott Walker’s agenda.

That’s a lot of cash to spend for the return achieved.

While the other side also poured serious cash into the state, organizations like Club For Growth can, at the least, come away from the battle knowing that their agenda has not been stymied and, for as long as Governor Walker sits in the state house, they remain free and unfettered in their efforts to move their mission forward while pushing the state of Wisconsin – and the country – backward.

Now, the Wisconsin Democrats are left to determine their plans for the future, particularly with respect to the proposed recall effort against Governor Scott Walker.

The good news is that last night’s battles were fought on enemy territory while a statewide recall will bring the Democratic faithful throughout the state into play.

The bad news is that we’ve now learned that those who support the Walker agenda – and we’d best acknowledge that there are far more of them than Badger State Democrats might have wanted to realize- will not be sitting idly by when it comes to supporting an agenda of wiping out collective bargaining rights, cutting education and healthcare to the bone and disenfranchising those who are more likely to cast their vote for Democrats.

In the end, besides my issue that this was necessary in the first place, there was a level of complacency among the Wisconsin Unions/Democrats, in thinking that their cause was so just that everyone would naturally gravitate to them.

Well, that didn't happen, and if you assume that in 2012, for either a Scott Walker recall or a Barack Obama re-elect, we're in trouble.

Of course, it would have helped Wisconsin if y'all had bothered to show up in 2010...

No two ways about it.  Wisconsin?  You let me down.  You let the bastards win, and take away your Collective Bargaining rights.  Of course, if you have bothered to show up in 2010, all of this wouldn't have been necessary, so have only yourselves to blame.

For the record, this is not Wednesday morning Quarterbacking, this is nothing I haven't said before.

So consider this a warning for 2012.  If you think you're going to be able to hold your nose and wind up with a Democrat in the White House, you're kidding yourself.  As you saw from this Recall battle, the opposition is well funded, and now given cover by the Supreme Court.

That's not to say that Scott Walker shouldn't be scared as well.  Those were primarily red districts that went for Obama in 2008, and the ones you won last night you barely held onto.  They were also rural.  Once bigger cities like Madison get involved, your ass could be smoked...

...but that's only if you show up.

In the meantime, I find it interesting how much the Wisconsin story isn't getting covered in the press today.  Not only is there not a lot of hand-wringing or nazel gazing, there's just not much of anything...period.  Andrew Sullivan didn't mention it.  Neither did Ezra Klein.  I'm just waiting for the first Professional Lefter to come out and blame the White House for "not doing enough"...when it was y'alls fault in the first place.

Josh Marshall provided this in response to a reader today, and I thought it beared repeating.

There are different ways to see what happened last night. Legislative recalls are extremely, extremely uncommon in the United States. Winning two of them last night was a big victory. Both senators won in 2010 and in the big Obama year of 2008. And the Democrats came very close to knocking off two more. Still, let's be honest: they wanted to steal away the GOP's unitary hold on the state government. And they didn't. They came up short. And there's a lot of very real and merited disappointment over that.

But it's wrong to see political energy and resources as finite and something to be marshaled. It's not a zero sum game. This kind of effort doesn't take away from something else. It adds to it. It builds organizational muscle. In fact, it's like muscle. You build it by exercising it. I don't lose part of my allotment of muscle by doing some bench presses. I build it up. And the exercise itself demonstrates that a political movement can bite back.

In the recent budget and debt battle I saw numerous readers write in to say, Hey, how'd this Norquist guy get all this power? Or, Why is it that every time they can get every last member of their caucus to toe the line? Yes, Norquist's got tons of cash from various moneyed interests. But his power is based on working this issue for literally decades in out of the way races across the country. Again, building muscle through the exercise of muscle. How do Republicans enforce such crazy amounts of party discipline? Because they have a record of primarying people. And over time people get that message. So yes, the Dems and the unions in Wisconsin came up short. But two Republican senators already lost their jobs over this. And people will remember that.

Politics ain't bean bag and it also ain't easy. It takes time. It would be a mistake to see this as a distraction, a big mistake.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

America's thank you message to the Tea Party... (VIDEO)

Think Progress has the names of the Democratic Senators on the Supercommittee. Prepare to be pleasantly shocked!

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reportedly tapped Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kerry (D-MA), and Max Baucus (D-MT) to join the super committee created by the deal that raised the federal debt ceiling. The super committee is charged with crafting a deficit reduction package by Thanksgiving; seven of the twelve members have to approve the plan to send it to the full Congress.
I was resigned to Baucus (how can you not put on the Chair of the Senate Finance Commitee?), Kent Conrad and a token Liberal. But Murray and Kerry? I am actually pretty stoked.

Wisconsin is voting...and looking goooood!

From the Wisconsin Politics Blog (first caught by TPM):
In the 10th SD in western Wisconsin, River Falls City Clerk Lu Ann Hecht said today’s numbers could be as high as the 2008 Presidential election.
The city issued 1,003 absentee ballots, twice as many as a regular election. The municipality is home to both GOP Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and Dem challenger Shelly Moore.
“We expect the turnout to remain steady throughout the day,” Hecht said. Hudson City Clerk Nancy Korson said voter turnout in Hudson, also part of the 10th, would likely not reach the levels of a presidential election. 
But they were comparable to the spring Supreme Court election, with over 500 absentee ballots received. 
In Baraboo, Deputy Clerk Donna Munz said turnout was much higher than normal. She also said she'd received voter complaints over people at some polling places contacting them as they went into the polling places. At one, about nine people were outside and some voters said they were angry that they felt intimidated.
“We have received angry calls from voters regarding how persistent the people outside the polling places are,” Munz said. In the 8th SD, one of the top races with GOP Sen. Alberta Darling and Dem Rep. Sandy Pasch, Whitefish Bay officials reported a steady stream during the morning, but said it was too early to say how turnout would end up in Pasch’s hometown.
In River Hills, where Darling lives, Village Clerk Barb Goeckner reported steady turnout through the morning. By 9:45 a.m., about 200 of the municipality’s 1,300 registered voters had cast ballots. “It’s just been steady,” she said. “It’s not been a mad rush. We don’t have any lines, but it’s definitely been a steady turnout so far.”
I bold the good and the bad, so GO BADGERS!!!

“S&P is the stupidest place everyone at S&P has ever worked at...” (VIDEO)

First Lawrence O'Donnell:

Love how he put the pictures of the guys who made the decision to downgrade us. Plus, he ripped on their math (rightly), and called them the "stupidest political pundits in Wall Street's history".

And about seven minutes in, he brings up S&P disgraceful history of rating Mortgage Backed Securities as AAA.

Next, J-Stew, doing much the same...only funnier:

Monday, August 8, 2011