Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wingnuts Smash!

Politifact grades Michelle Bachmann's truthfullness
She's never gotten anything right. Literally.
Of seven graded statements, she has three "false", and four "pants on fire".
Dear MoveOn member,
That's how much progressives pledged this week to fund primary challenges against any Democratic senator who blocks an up-or-down vote on health care reform with a public option.
It's a huge sum, and the clearest signal yet that any Democrat who helps Republicans filibuster health care reform will face an enormous backlash from the grassroots.

Marshall: Counter-Programming 
President Obama just appeared in the White House briefing room a few moments to announce and embrace the endorsements of AARP and the AMA for the House version of the health care reform bill.
Teabagger protesters carry sign with Dachau dead bodies, titled "National Socialist Health Care, Dachau, Germany - 1945" 

Frumin (TPM): Party Foul 
At the Capitol Hill Tea Party, TPMDC's Christina Bellantoni happened upon what looked to be a series of several arrests -- for an as-yet unidentified offense. She reports that a crowd of Tea Partiers began heckling Capitol Police and singing "God Bless America" while several people were being detained.
There's also a massive backup of people outside Longworth office building. They've blocked traffic and some supportive cars are honking. Many protesters are shouting, "Kill the bill!"
We'll have video for you soon.

Cantor To Tea Partiers: 'Not One' GOP Vote For Health Care

Axelrod's chat with Tapper:
I can see that this as a concern that, that Republicans on the right are threatening to purge moderates who have the temerity to say, "Yes, we are going to cooperate with the president or our Democratic colleagues to solve a health care problem, to help solve the economic problems that we have." And it has a chilling effect. And one hopes that they are not intimidated. You saw the other day Gov. Pawlenty taking off against (Maine Republican) Senator (Olympia) Snowe for having worked with us to try to solve the health care problem. I think that sends a very tough message and you know we're going to have to work our way through that.

So from a governing standpoint I don't think this is a great development. From a political standpoint I think it's disastrous for the Republican party. 
In the run-up to Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman met with the editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times, the largest paper in the district. After Hoffman “showed no grasp of the bread-and-butter issues pertinent to district residents,” his companion in the meeting, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, rose to his defense by dismissing regional concerns as “parochial” issues that would not determine the outcome of the election. Armey’s comment was a major factor in the paper offering a “flat-out blistering” critique of Hoffman when it endorsed Democrat Bill Owens. Now, Armey is throwing Hoffman under the bus, saying that “he didn’t pay enough attention to local concerns”:
Armey, the former House GOP majority leader, noted that Democrats had seized on Hoffman’s inability to address local concerns.
“The fact of the matter is, he didn’t pay enough attention to the local concerns, and they were able to tag him as being unaware of the local needs and concerns,” Armey said.
North County Public Radio’s Brian Mann writes that since national conservatives like Armey “deliberately helped to shape Doug Hoffman into a national symbol, one whose stand on abortion, same-sex marriage and President Obama largely defined him,” it is “a stretch” for them to “complain now that he didn’t focus enough on local stuff.” But it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Armey would use political rhetoric he apparently doesn’t believe in. In a New York Times Magazine profile posted online yesterday, Armey says it’s “O.K.” with him that opponents of health care reform fearmonger about “death panels,” even though “he does not believe” they exist.
* CNN finally sends over the cross tabs of that poll I wrote about yesterday finding that Obama is viewed in the south as a better president than Bush. Here are the exact numbers:
All in all, do you think Barack Obama has been a better president than George W. Bush, or do you think Bush was a better president than Obama has been?
Obama better: 50%
Bush better: 39%
Double digits! Again: Wow.

Marshall: Manchurian 
Jon Voight speaking at the rally with members of Congress: ""His only success in his one-year term as president is taking America apart, piece by piece. Could it be he has had 20 years of subconscious programming by Rev. Wright to damn America?"
 Marshall: Getting Whackier
Sigh, I knew this would get fun.
As you know, Rep. Michele Bachmann is planning her mega-Capitol Hill Tea Party tomorrow followed by Bachmann leading Tea Partiers through the halls of Congress demanding Congress not take away their health care.
A few moments ago Fox News host Andrew Napolitano told Bachmann that "a friend in the American intelligence community" suggested to him that Nancy Pelosi might mount some sort of Capitol Hill security clampdown to stop the Tea Party event. (The idea apparently is that Pelosi would instruct Capitol security to become so onerous that, in essence, no one would be able to get into the building. Note to Tea Partiers: The Capitol building is not a 2nd Amendment zone.)
Not surprisingly Bachmann rose to the bait, telling Napolitano that it would be a "big mistake" for Pelosi to use her power to sabotage the Tea Party.
Looks like things are primed for a very orderly event tomorrow.
  •  Kleefeld: Capitol Hill Tea Party Seeks To 'Drive The Liberals Crazy' With Pledge Of Allegiance 

    At the Capitol Hill Tea Party just now, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) stepped up to lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance -- which he said drives the liberals crazy.
    "And so as we now renew our commitment to the Red, White and Blue, let us with boldness proclaim the fact that we are one nation under God," said Akin. "It is altogether fitting that we should do this -- and it drives the liberals crazy."
    The crowd laughed, and joined Akin in the Pledge, with a genuine shout given to the key words, " nation, UNDER GOD, with liberty..."
    Other Republican members of Congress were on stage, too: Minority Leader John Boehner (OH), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (VA), Roy Blunt (MO), Jeb Hensarling (TX), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), Michele Bachmann (MN) -- who was a key organizer of the event -- Virginia Foxx (NC), Ginny Brown-Waite (FL), Jean Schmidt (OH), Sue Myrick (NC), and many more.

I just got through watching Nancy Pelosi’s weekly press conference in the Capitol, and get this: Reporters didn’t ask a single question about the massive Michele Bachmann/Tea Party rally massing outside the building today. Not one!
Reporters asked a dozen questions, and for some reason, they only were interested in talking about the first major health care reform bill in legislative history to get within striking distance of law.
This outrageous media conspiracy to black out legitimate dissent on behalf of The One just shows you how corrupt and out of touch these elites really are. They’re in for a shock this afternoon, though. By my rough, eyeballed count, the Tea Partiers have massed at least 1,000 people on the west side of the Capitol.
More of this soon, but for now, a quick taste. Most prominent and visible sign in the crowd: “Get the red out of the White House.”
 Marshall: Take Over?
It's interesting to note that they've got a decent turnout of members of Congress up on the stage in this event this morning. Not just Michele Bachmann. This sort of dovetails with what we mentioned earlier, which was members of the Republican Study Committee in the House trying to rebrand the event not as a "protest" or a "rally" but rather a "press event" or "press conference."
Bachmann is operating as the MC, introducing the speakers. Boehner is speaking now. I'm very curious and very dubious whether the GOP leaders are going to allow crowds from a rally they're speaking at fan out and try to occupy the Speaker's office.
On the other hand, in the crowd Boehner is speaking to, there's a rally poster with images of corpses from Dachau denouncing "National Socialist Health Care."
Just got back from watching a bit of the Bachmannalia — many thousands are now amassed outside the Capitol — and here are a few quick thoughts.
* Michele Bachmann now appears to have a genuine national power base of sorts. When she was first announced as speaker, there was a throaty outpouring from the crowd, one of the most emotional of the afternoon. Maybe it’s because of diligent efforts by Dems and liberal media to elevate her on a regular basis. Maybe it’s largely due to her own notoriety and antics. Maybe she shrewdly seized the historical moment.
Whatever the cause, there’s no denying that Bachman has built a respectable following of sorts that hails from all corners of the country, judging by the crowd. As of today, she’s genuinely a national figure.
* Bachmann genuinely believes she’s a direct political descendent of the American revolutionaries. She’s not a huckster in any sense. Watching her speak leaves no doubt whatsoever that she genuinely believes she’s locked in a death struggle with tyrrany and that the fate of global freedom and Democracy hangs in the balance.
* Large chunks of Bachmann’s base are still culturally stuck in the 1960s. Perhaps the most interesting speaker of the day — one that drew loud, emotional cheers and boos — sounded tones that were completely indistinguishable from the hippie-bashers of 50 years ago.
The speaker was John Ratzenberger, a.k.a. Cliff Clavin (sigh). He told a tale that dripped with still-fresh resentment about how he was a techie building the stage at Woodstock — Woodstock! — when the rains came and the National Guard had to be called in to save the day. Clavin, still visibly angry, excoriated all the love children for bashing the military even as they relied on the military to save their precious, America-hating festival.
Clavin then drew a direct line from the sixties longhairs right to Nancy Pelosi and Obama, saying that our current leadership is culturally akin to “Wavy Gravy.” Gives you a strong sense of the cultural roots of today’s strain of angry, resentful Bachmannalia and Tea Party-ism. Are we really still fighting this battle?
I’ll have quotes for you soon.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee likes to intervene in primary fights, for fairly obvious reasons -- the party establishment routinely has a favored candidate that it thinks has the best shot of winning the election. Naturally, then, the NRSC steers support to the Republican it perceives as stronger.
The problem, of course, is that the Republican base doesn't want the NRSC to intervene -- the establishment may want an "electable" candidate, but activists want their candidate. And after the unpleasantness in New York's 23rd, the base is making the demands more explicit -- don't intervene ... or else.
Today, NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (R-Texas) told the base what it wanted to hear.
With Republicans grappling with the fallout of an intra-party battle that may have cost them a House seat, the head of the Senate Republican campaign effort is making a pledge that may ease some of the anger being directed at the party establishment.
"We will not spend money in a contested primary," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told ABC News in a telephone interview today.
"There's no incentive for us to weigh in," said Cornyn, R-Texas. "We have to look at our resources. . . . We're not going to throw money into a [primary] race leading up to the election."
Cornyn said his pledge extends to races for open Senate seats -- not incumbents who may face primaries next year. The NRSC so far has endorsed candidates in four open Senate seats -- Florida, Missouri, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
This is a pretty important development for a couple of reasons. First, it shows that the party establishment seems to be afraid of its own base. Today's announcement seems to be a message to the inmates: "Don't worry, you'll now have more control over the asylum."
Second, the NRSC's neutrality in primaries may have real practical implications. In Florida, for example, party leaders see Gov. Charlie Crist (R) as a shoo-in on Election Day, but right-wing activists prefer state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R). In California, the party has high hopes for Carly Fiorina's (R) Senate campaign, but the base prefers far-right state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R).
That Cornyn is just voluntarily giving up some of his power -- a year before the election -- because he's afraid of the Tea Party/Fox News/Palin crowd, is pretty remarkable.
Aravosis: GOP party chair Michael Steele threatens anyone who supports health care reform 
What are you gonna do, throw their seats to the Dems too, Steele? Brilliant strategy. From ABC:
Asked if he’d be comfortable with Republican candidates in 2010 who supported President Obama’s stimulus package, or his push to overhaul health care, Steele said:

“Well I’m gonna tell you honestly, that’s where the line gets a little bit tricky. And you saw in the House and in the Senate that there are ramifications, because that goes against a core principle. And trust me, you’re assuming that people want to have bloated debt, government expenditures and growth into their lives -- they don’t. That’s a talking point out of the DNC.”

“People aren’t buying that. So candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you,” Steele continued.
GOP: Teabagger owned and operated.
In the 109th* Congress, which ended last year, Rep. Mark Kirk (R) of Illinois was one of the House Republican caucus' most moderate members. This year, he voted with Democrats on a cap-and-trade measure, was the lead GOP co-sponsor on an expanded hate-crimes bill, and has even supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
When Kirk decided to run for the Senate, it made some sense -- Illinois is one of the more reliably "blue" states in the country, but Kirk has generally preferred to keep the far-right, Sarah Palin wing of the Republican Party at arm's length.
So much for that idea.
Illinois Rep. Mark Kirk penned a memo to Republican poobah Fred Malek hoping to secure an endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for his Senate candidacy, according to a copy of the memo obtained by the Fix.
After noting that Palin will be in Chicago later this month to appear on "Oprah", Kirk writes that "the Chicago media will focus on one key issue: Does Gov[ernor] Palin oppose Congressman Mark Kirk's bid to take the Obama Senate seat for the Republicans?"
Kirk goes on to write that he is hoping for something "quick and decisive" from Palin about the race, perhaps to the effect of: "Voters in Illinois have a key opportunity to take Barack Obama's Senate seat. Congressman Kirk is the lead candidate to do that."
Keep in mind, the two Republican statewide candidates who won this week -- Christie in New Jersey and McDonnell and Virginia -- wanted nothing to do with Palin, while the high profile conservative candidate who embraced Palin -- Doug Hoffman in NY23 -- lost in a district that hadn't elected a Democrat since the 19th century.
For that matter, as recently as last year, Mark Kirk wasn't at all impressed with the former Alaska governor. A month before the presidential election, asked about the addition of Palin to the GOP ticket, Kirk said, "I would have picked someone different."
Why in the world would Kirk sully his reputation like this? Because he's facing a little-known, underfunded anti-tax activist/political neophyte in a Republican primary, and a right-wing third-party candidate is a possibility in the general election.
And with that, a once-proud moderate shifts to the right -- Kirk has already denounced his own vote on energy policy -- and slinks to the Palin operation, soliciting an endorsement. Mark Kirk has all the support from the Republican Party establishment he could ever want, but he's suddenly discovered that the Tea Party crowd might be calling the shots.
As this and other GOP campaigns play out, it makes the Republican task at hand that much more difficult.

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