Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wingnuts: the United States really is Alabama Edition

Republican opponents of health care reform have a new, colorful talking point. It turns out, if you put reform plans into a chart, fiddle with box sizes, arrow colors, and creative fonts, you discover that health care reform is ... complicated.

After a brightly colored chart failed to kill the Waxman-Markey bill, House Republicans are scrapping doubling down on the idea. They've created a new one to demonstrate just how complicated the Democrats' health care reform bill is.

Just as in the case of the Waxman-Markey chart, though, this doesn't actually explain anything. And it ironically begs the question of whether Republicans secretly want a simpler, single payer system to replace more complex reform proposals.

There are a wide variety of arguments against reform, but this may be the most ridiculous. The chart apparently proves that the health care system will be complex. Well, yes, it is. It will involve a lot of people, money, government agencies, and private entities. Of course, I hate to break it to the House Republican caucus, but the health system is already complex, and features a lot of people, money, government agencies, and private entities.

Indeed, if I were to do a chart detailing the way John Boehner's car works, it would also show a complicated system, but I suspect he'd take it to work every morning. More to the point, if I were to show Boehner a chart about the various international elements that went into invading Iraq in 2003, I suspect he wouldn't be persuaded if I said, "See? It's just too darn complex to bother."

And that's the underlying point of the GOP pitch: we can't reform the system because the solution doesn't fit nicely on a chart. But that's not an argument. It's barely even a chart.

Ezra Klein actually took a very close look at Boehner's new chart, and came to an interesting conclusion: "[I]t's not very scary. In fact, it's reminiscent of nothing so much as a Magic Eye picture: Stare at the whole thing and it's a bit bewildering. But focus in, and order reveals itself. And that order actually looks kind of good. Which leaves this chart in a bit of a weird position: Those who don't read it won't be able to understand it. And those who do read it won't be scared by it. All in all, a less than intimidating outing from the minority leader's office."

Better opposition party, please.


Of all of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's conservative critics, few have been quite as offensive as Pat Buchanan. For anyone who's followed Buchanan's record, this isn't surprising.

What's interesting, though, is Buchanan's advice for the Republican Party. In an odd piece for Human Events this week, Buchanan argues that the GOP's response to the Sotomayor nomination may produce "Hispanic hostility for a generation" towards the Republican Party. Sounds like a warning about electoral disaster? On the contrary -- Buchanan suggests the key to GOP success in the future is doing more to appeal to whites.

In 2008, Hispanics, according to the latest figures, were 7.4 percent of the total vote. White folks were 74 percent, 10 times as large. Adding just 1 percent to the white vote is thus the same as adding 10 percent to the candidate's Hispanic vote.

If John McCain, instead of getting 55 percent of the white vote, got the 58 percent George W. Bush got in 2004, that would have had the same impact as lifting his share of the Hispanic vote from 32 percent to 62 percent. [...]

Had McCain been willing to drape Jeremiah Wright around the neck of Barack Obama, as Lee Atwater draped Willie Horton around the neck of Michael Dukakis, the mainstream media might have howled. And McCain might be president.

He doesn't just see the benefits of race-baiting opportunities gone by. As this relates to a strategy for today, Buchanan urges Republicans to tell whites that "their sons and daughters are pushed aside to make room for the Sonia Sotomayors." Buchanan added that the GOP should also tell whites that Sotomayor has "a lifelong resolve to discriminate against white males."

Jason Linkins notes that Buchanan's critique of Sotomayor's record isn't even close to reality, but we can safely assume that doesn't matter. Buchanan isn't making a substantive argument against a qualified jurist; he's making a demagogic argument in support of race baiting.

Ta-Nehisi Coates does a nice job today summarizing why this isn't just disgusting, but is actually bad strategic advice: "Amping up the race-baiting isn't just going to turn off black people (most of whom are already turned-off) it turns off Latinos also. The second problem is that it likely turns a significant portion of white people also. The GOP's problem isn't that it needs to shore up Alabama -- at least not yet. It's problem is, well, basically everywhere else that isn't Alabama. I don't know how bashing Sotomayor makes you more competitive in, say, Colorado or Oregon. I'd assume the opposite."

I suspect Buchanan assumes that whites everywhere share his attitudes. All whites must hate affirmative action, hate immigration, and be politically motivated by images of Jeremiah Wright. He believes, in other words, that the United States really is Alabama, and the GOP will benefit if they believe it, too.

Democrats are no doubt hoping that Republicans take Buchanan's advice.

JedL (DK): Obama calls Kyl's bluff on stimulus, McCain freaks out

On Sunday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) called on the Obama Administration to cancel the rest of the stimulus plan, saying it was a complete failure.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) blew Kyl's arguments out of the water, reminding Kyl that only $56 billion of the $787 billion had yet been spent and that under Kyl's plan, tax cuts for middle-class Americans would be rescinded and jobs from much-needed infrastructure improvements would be lost.

Durbin's response was good, but what happened next was a thing of beauty.

WASHINGTON - Top Obama administration officials asked Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday whether the state wants to forfeit ongoing federal economic stimulus money after Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., suggested that the program should be nixed.

Agency heads ranging from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to housing Secretary Shaun Donovan sent letters to Brewer, pressing her to declare whether she supports the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or sides with Kyl and is willing to give up some of the money.

Brewer, a Republican, made it clear she wanted the stimulus funds -- but seemed to confuse whose idea it was to cancel the program:

"The governor is hopeful that these federal Cabinet officials are not threatening to deny Arizona citizens the portion of federal stimulus funds to which they are entitled," Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said. "She believes that would be a tremendous mistake by the administration."

Earth to Governor Brewer: the Obama Administration supports the stimulus. They don't want to cut off funds. It's your Republican U.S. Senator Jon Kyl who proposed cutting off your funds.

Although Brewer was confused, at least she made it clear she supported the stimulus.

John McCain, however, launched into a full-fledged freakout, offering a load of pure, unadulterated hypocrisy:

"I strongly support the comments of Senator Kyl and call on the administration to retract its threat against the citizens of Arizona."

So...John McCain supports Senator Kyl's demand that the Obama administration cancel the stimulus...but when the Obama administration asks state officials whether or not they agree with Senator Kyl's demand, McCain calls it a "threat against the citizens of Arizona."

Put another way, John McCain's message is this: "Don't do what I say I want you to do, because if you do what I say I want you to do, then you're doing nothing but threatening me. AND GET OFF MY LAWN! DAMMIT!"

And they wonder why we think they are a bunch of lunatics.

John Cole: Great Moments In Self Policing

The State published some of the emails fired back and forth from Sanford’s office while he was hiking the Appalachian Trail chasing Argentinian tail, and this cracked me up:

The e-mails also show some reached out to the governor on how best to come to his defense.

“If he wants something more personal for the blog to push back, I’m happy to help,” wrote Erick Erickson, a writer for On June 23, Erickson ripped “media speculation” about Sanford’s whereabouts.

“I wasn’t trying to be a reporter. I wanted to curtail the story,” Erickson said by e-mail. “Well that didn’t work.”

Which made me laugh, considering this memorable Red State post, which was an instant classic in the wingnut genre:

To majority media and other Democrats : we police our own, and you don’t get to judge: Drop dead.

By all means report the facts. I’m sure you’ll be happy to cover every salacious detail. Have at it. Be sure to cover the pain and suffering of Governor Sanford’s family. While you are at it, cover the depth to which all South Carolina and nation-wide Republicans and conservatives rightly feel betrayed.

Beyond that, just shut up. Shut your lying, hypocritical, power-above-patriotism, hyper-partisan, two-faced, shamelessly double-standard bearing pie hole.

You don’t get to judge.

Policing your own is a lot like OJ looking for the real killers.
Inside D.C.'s secretive religious sect July 15: More residents of C Street House in Washington D.C. are speaking about the facility. The House is run by a secretive religious group called "The Family," and is linked to Sen. John Ensign, R-NV and Gov. Mark Sanford, R-SC. What are some members of Congress who live at the house saying? Rachel Maddow is joined by Harper's Magazine contributing editor Jeff Sharlet.

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