Saturday, February 28, 2009

...the hydra is a piker next to rightwing stupidity.

TPM: Report: Obama Taps Sebelius For HHS Secretary

TPM: The conservative activists at the CPAC conference will grant tonight the high honor of their "Defender of the Constitution Award" to Rush Limbaugh.

Think Progress: Limbaugh Takes On Gingrich: ‘We’ve Got To Stamp This Out Within This Movement’

Today, Limbaugh came out swinging, insisting that conservatives need not concern themselves with policy ideas whatsoever and slamming conservatives who want to move beyond Reagan.

Everybody asks me — and I’m sure it’s been a focal point of your convention — well, what do we do, as conservatives? What do we do? How do we overcome this? … One thing we can all do is stop assuming that the way to beat them is with better policy ideas. […]

Our own movement has members trying to throw Reagan out while the Democrats know they can’t accomplish what they want unless they appeal to Reagan voters. We have got to stamp this out within this movement becausue it will tear us apart. It will guarantee we lose elections.

Think Progress: CPAC audience cheers: ‘The only way we will be successful is if we listen to Rush Limbaugh.’
After his speech, CPAC presented Rush with a “Defender of the Constitution” award, which included a document signed by Benjamin Franklin. The presenter then compared Rush to Franklin:

The king of England sat with his advisers, and they read the writings of Ben Franklin. They said, “The colonists will never be successful if they read what he writes.” Just as the king’s successor, who is in the White House, said the other day, that conservatives will never be successful if they listen to Rush Limbaugh. The only way we will be successful is if we listen to Rush Limbaugh!

Update. Besides swiping at his competition, Limbaugh sought to prove his leadership bonafides by reiterating his hope that President Obama "fails," insisting that racism was a problem of the left and not the right, and calling liberalism a "psychosis" and liberals "deranged."

The blog Balloon Juice has a fascinating mix of bloggers, with John Cole as a reformed wingnut who understands the radical RW movement from the inside out, and liberal biomedical researcher Tim F. They are both well educated, write about a broad range of issues, and take particular delight in mocking RW stupidity. Their BlogRoll even has a "Blogs we monitor and mock as needed" category.

Needless to say they have been having great fun with the escalating RW outrage that a liberal is now president and is enacting a progressive agenda. But first ...

A blast from last year with Tim F's classic Fear Is The Mind Killer (18-Sep-2008) in its entirety.

Fear can be useful with respect to decisions like, say, whether or not to chase a bear with a stick, but for higher-level thinking the frightened state of mind blows goats. People do irrational, stupid, senselessly violent things when motivated by fear.

Naturally fear has its political uses. Steering a frightened public towards a stupid policy is, so to speak, frighteningly easy. When terrorists attacked America a normal leadership would have gone out of its way to reassure people and calm nerves. The GOP went the other way, maybe disgracefully, but in naked terrorist fear Republicans found a winning meal ticket at a time when national polls put them on the wrong side of virtually every issue.

Anyhow, on the topic social science that we should probably leave alone but due to some personal flaw just can’t, here are two more editions of science revealing what we already know.

First, an unpleasant surprise frightens conservatives more than liberals.

[Subjects] were attached to equipment to measure skin conductivity, which rises with emotional stress as the moisture level in skin goes up. Each participant was shown threatening images, such as a bloody face interspersed with innocuous pictures of things such as bunnies, and rise in skin conductance in response to the shocking image was measured. The other measure was the involuntary eye blink that people have in response to something startling, such as a sudden loud noise. The scientists measured the amplitude of blinks via electrodes that detected muscle contractions under people’s eyes.

The researchers found that both of these responses correlated significantly with whether a person was liberal or conservative socially. Subjects who had expressed a high level of support for policies “protecting the social unit” showed a much larger change in skin conductance in response to alarming photos than those who didn’t support such policies. Similarly, the mean blink amplitude for the socially protective subjects was significantly higher, the team reports in tomorrow’s issue of Science. Co-author Kevin Smith says the results showed that automatic fear responses are better predictors of protective attitudes than sex or age (men and older people tend to be more conservative).

To be honest this result is so un-novel that it’s almost a tautology. One basic definition of conservatism is a negative reaction to whatever is new and shocking at a given point in time, whether the problem du jour is interreligious marriage, interracial marriage or gay marriage. Social progress generally involves accepting things that shock most people who see it for the first time relatively late in life. The liberal deals with his shock and gets over it where the conservative internalizes his discomfort and transforms it into a Kantian moral imperative. Finding out that unpleasant surprise impacts the conservative more strongly therefore beats reporting that the sun will come up in the east tomorrow, but not by much.

On the other hand, it’s curious to find that disproving rightwing lies only makes them believe it more.

Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler provided two groups of volunteers with the Bush administration’s prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. One group was given a refutation—the comprehensive 2004 Duelfer report that concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003. Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration’s claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons. The refutation, in other words, made the misinformation worse.

A similar “backfire effect” also influenced conservatives told about Bush administration assertions that tax cuts increase federal revenue. One group was offered a refutation by prominent economists that included current and former Bush administration officials. About 35 percent of conservatives told about the Bush claim believed it; 67 percent of those provided with both assertion and refutation believed that tax cuts increase revenue.

In a paper approaching publication, Nyhan, a PhD student at Duke University, and Reifler, at Georgia State University, suggest that Republicans might be especially prone to the backfire effect because conservatives may have more rigid views than liberals: Upon hearing a refutation, conservatives might “argue back” against the refutation in their minds, thereby strengthening their belief in the misinformation. Nyhan and Reifler did not see the same “backfire effect” when liberals were given misinformation and a refutation about the Bush administration’s stance on stem cell research.

Now you know why Atrios calls them “zombie lies.” But on reflection ‘zombie’ still doesn’t cover the perversity of this phenomenon. In most movies a zombie will go down if you hit it in the head hard enough. Rightwing lies aren’t just hard to kill, they get stronger the more thoroughly you kill them. Wingnut rumors function more like that mythical critter that grew two heads every time Hercules cut one off, except even the hydra eventually died. By comparison about 29% of America continue to think that Saddam had a WMD program and sat down with bin Laden to plan 9/11. In that sense the hydra is a piker next to rightwing stupidity. There’s nothing like it.

John Cole Crowd Size, Then And Now
I was going to do a big post comparing the rhetoric downplaying the size of protests in the 2003 era and the current tea party, but what it boils down to is I am just too lazy to do the research. Instead, I will just use pictures.
John Cole Out of Ideas. No, Really. They Are Just Out of Ideas.'

Yesterday at Outside the Beltway, James Joyner, who is attending CPAC, listed Newt Gingrich’s 12 point plan for the GOP to recapture the hearts of America (and I have cut the descriptions of the items down, you can visit OTB for the full list):

1. Payroll Tax Stimulus.
2. Real Middle-Income Tax Relief.
3. Reduce the Business Tax Rate.
4. Homeowner’s Assistance.
5. Control Spending So We Can Move to a Balanced Budget.
6. No State Aid Without Protection From Fraud.
7. More American Energy Now (Energy exploration).
8. Abolish Taxes on Capital Gains.
9. Protect the Rights of American Workers (from… Unions)
10. Replace Sarbanes-Oxley.
11. Abolish the Death Tax.
12. Invest in Energy and Transportation Infrastructure.
... (details for each)

So there is their big laundry list of ideas- tax cuts, deregulation, union bashing, and spending projects they have repeatedly opposed. And that doesn’t even go into the fact that they just, a few weeks ago, voted against massive tax cuts for 95% of the country.

What a breath of fresh air. By way of comparison, here is there list of ideas as presented in the Contract with America. You may or may not agree with the ideas, and they were centered around a reform agenda, but at least they were honest to goodness ideas.
This is a sputtering, rudderless, idea free movement. There is a reason the only thing they can do is yell “socialist” and attend tea parties (although given the turnout, it looks like they are just sticking to yelling socialist).

Tim F. On The Positive Side, .005% Of Unemployed Plumbers Will Support Them To The End
It occurred to me that good strategic reasons explain why the Republican party has become sandwich board silly. Let’s run through the institutional advantages that have kept the party afloat until now.
... .... ....
As the old saw goes, when you have the facts you bang the facts. When you have the law you bang the law. When you have neither, you bang the table. Too bad for the GOP they can’t even compete at that.

Tim F. Peak Wingnut And Other Imaginary Things
That was such an awesome theory.

The Political Animal

As much as I respect Rachel Maddow's ability to explore and debate issues with command of the facts and respect for her guests, I equally respect Steve Benen - The Political Animal. Possibly the most prolific and among the most astute political observers in the blogosphere. Rachel calls his blog a must read.

In a series of fine posts today, Benen takes the CPACer mindset apart. In the face of one repuglican after another rushing forward to lick Limbaugh's feet and agree they hope Obama fails, Steve dredged up the Duke himself: About a half-century ago, actor John Wayne, who was very conservative, was asked for his thoughts after JFK defeated Richard Nixon in 1960. "I didn't vote for him," Wayne said, "but he's my president, and I hope he does a good job."

Here are a series of post titles from Benen today. Brief excerpts from each, but you really should read them in their entirety.



It's possible that my memory is off, but I can't recall ever hearing so many prominent political figures hoping for American leaders' failure like this, especially not in the midst of a crisis.

That it's coming from ideologues who believe they have the edge on "patriotism" -- and insist that Bush's liberal critics were guilty of "treason" -- just makes this all the more bizarre.


That Jindal speech is just the gift that keeps on giving.



Quite right. Isn't the notion of a "free lunch" the underlying message of the Republican Party for the last generation? The federal government can, we've been told, recklessly cut taxes, spend whatever it wants, rack up huge debts ("deficits don't matter"), put wars on the national charge card, and encourage policies that contribute to global warming. No consequences, no accountability, no questions asked.

This is especially true on the issue of taxes, since a few too many Republican policymakers strongly believe in the Tax Fairy -- the more the government cuts taxes, the more revenue the government collects. That's insane, of course, but it's also a rather obvious example of ... wait for it ... a "free lunch."


On Thursday, Mike Huckabee offered the CPAC faithful the kind of rhetoric they want to hear.

"The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be dead," said Huckabee, "but a Union of American Socialist Republics is being born." Democrats, according to Huckabee, were packing 40 years of pet projects like "health care rationing" into spending bills. "Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff."

The estimable Mark Kleiman, noting the bizarre remarks, said Huckabee may be "self-destructing" as a credible national figure.

Yes, yes, the CPAC crowd is the extreme of the extreme. But in the YouTube era you can't go around mouthing this stuff and be taken seriously as a candidate for President.

I'd really love to believe that, but I don't.


... Democrats and Limbaugh, oddly enough, have the same goal: convince the general public that he's the ostensible head of the Republican Party. ...

Gearing up for a fight!

QOTD, President Obama: "I came to provide the sweeping change America demanded when they went to the polls."

From the Department of "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid", Cliff sent me this You Tube, where a young fella, so young to be a wingnut (he even wrote a wingnut book), explains what conservatism is all about at the CPAC freak show. I might suggest he is young, well kempt, and utterly brainwashed. A true believer.

Jonathan Krohn Addresses CPAC

This wonderful Greenberg cartoon explores the gap - no, chasm - between what "conservatism" says it is and the results it produces.

And here is our new President in his Saturday address, who seems a bit more tethered to reality than young master Krohn, talking about the kind of progressive budget that generates prosperity for all Americans (excerpt below, h/t Ameericablog):
This budget also reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession. Given this reality, we’ll have to be more vigilant than ever in eliminating the programs we don’t need in order to make room for the investments we do need. I promised to do this by going through the federal budget page by page, and line by line. That is a process we have already begun, and I am pleased to say that we’ve already identified two trillion dollars worth of deficit-reductions over the next decade. We’ve also restored a sense of honesty and transparency to our budget, which is why this one accounts for spending that was hidden or left out under the old rules.

I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:

So am I.

Obama and the End of the World

QOTD, President Obama: "We Will Bring Our Troops Home"

QOTD2, Benen on Gingrich's new talking point: It has a certain child-like appeal, just so long as no one thinks about it too much.

This morning - Wars ending and wars expanding, The Will Follies, and CPAC. Three Maddow videos today. In case it isn't clear I'm totally in the tank for Rachel. Unapologetically liberal, but deeply focused on facts instead of talking points. What a breath of fresh air.

And the opening salvo is Maddow in a stunning segment you should watch if you want to understand certain key RW code words that are flying thick and heavy.

Apocalypse now?
Feb. 27: Rachel Re: There seems to be one theme the conservative base keeps raving about at the C-PAC conference, President Obama is a socialist. Huh? Which some conservatives mean if President Obama is a socialist, then he's the anti-Christ and the rapture is surely coming. Really?

Greg Sargent: Top Dems Planning Amped Up Efforts To Elevate Rush As GOP’s Public Face

Top Democratic operatives are planning a stepped up campaign to promote Rush Limbaugh as the public face of the GOP — an effort that will include recruiting Dem governors to make this case on talk shows, getting elected officials to pen Op eds arguing it, and running more ads pushing it, a senior Democratic operative says.


“I’m encouraging every Democrat, every progressive, to be pointing out this powerful but painful truth: The party of Lincoln is now the Party of Limbaugh,” Begala continued. “We should make every Republican answer this: Why do they want our president to fail?”

Sargent: Romney Disses Rush?

* And unless I’m missing something, Mitt Romney threw a brush-back pitch at Rush Limbaugh during his speech at CPAC. Romney said:

“In the last eight years, we saw how a president’s political adversaries could be consumed by anger, and even hatred. That is not the spirit that brings us together. We want our country to succeed, no matter who’s in power…in good times and bad, the interests of this great nation come first.”

Hard to see that as anything but a reference to Rush’s infamous claim that he wants Obama to fail. Pretty gutsy on Romney’s part.

ROTFLMAO - KOS' DHinMI: How Could I Tell?

I live in DC. A few minutes ago I was on the Metro. The subway stopped at the Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan station. Two guy in suits got on. It's DC, so there's nothing notable about guys on a Friday night wearing suits, not even near the party destination neighborhood of Adams Morgan. But there was something different about them. They were both big, somewhat overweight, had brush cuts, wore gray suits with black shirts and nondescript ties, and had flag pins on their lapels. One guy sat across from me. I looked at him, and thought of Family Guy where Peter described the "two symbols of the Republican party: an elephant and a big fat white guy who's threatened by change."

Knowing that the Conservative Political Action Conference(CPAC) was being held nearby, I asked, "were you at CPAC?"

The guy sorta smiled.


I think he then realized that I probably wasn't a fellow traveler...or that maybe I was that other kind of fellow traveler. Whatever the case, his smile went away, and I wasn't so cruel as to say that his ultraconservatism was so obvious that he stood out on the Metro.

What is it? Why do the people who think Rush Limbaugh holds all the answer to our politics are so out of whack with the rest of us that they even look different?

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received a hero's welcome at the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C. yesterday, and proceeded to blast "the Bush-Obama big spending program."

It's a phrase Gingrich is clearly very fond of. Indeed, the ethically-challenged former Speaker seems really intent on connecting President Obama's economic policies to George W. Bush's. Two weeks ago, Gingrich had an op-ed in the Washington Times in which he used the phrase "Bush-Obama" four times in four paragraphs.


I understand the point he's trying to get across. Bush increased spending, Obama is increasing spending. Bush's policies were a disaster for the economy, so Obama's policies....

It has a certain child-like appeal, just so long as no one thinks about it too much.


This just doesn't add up. Either Obama's approach is a radical change or it's Bush's agenda warmed over. It can't be both.

DemfromCT's Your Abbreviated Pundit Round-up, including this:

WaPo Ombudsman: George Will and global warming.

As the debate continues, questions linger about The Post's editing process. And there are separate questions about how The Post reacted once readers began questioning the accuracy of Will's column.

And before you throw things at the rookie:

The editors who checked the Arctic Research Climate Center Web site believe it did not, on balance, run counter to Will's assertion that global sea ice levels "now equal those of 1979." I reviewed the same Web citation and reached a different conclusion.


Rachel demonstrates why she is so good. No one gets away with fudging the facts - including our new President.
Maddow on End of the war. "Feb. 27: President Obama made his plan to withdraw troops in Iraq by 2010 official, with at least 35,000-50,000 residual troops remaining in the country. Why are some Democrats against this plan? Rachel Maddow is joined by former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq Charles Duelfer.

The Next Front. Rachel with Richard Engel.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What digby and Pierce said.

I'm dying here. Just read Hurtling Headlong Into the Past.

Kicking the Poverty God

Economic news could hardly be worse. But first ...

Fun Facts from Sully: Surprise! There's a significant correlation between consumption of online porn and Christianism: "Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions...." Utah is the country's single biggest consumer of online porn. You've got to love those Mormons.

Journamalism, by Eric Boehlert: Speaking of Fred Hiatt's absurd claim that people who don't like George Will spreading global warming misinformation should "debate" him, rather than expect the Post to run a correction ... ... Now, who is in charge of the Post's op-ed page? Fred Hiatt. If Fred Hiatt wants to pretend that critics of Will's falsehoods are welcome to debate Will, Fred Hiatt can start by regularly running op-eds by (more honest) liberal equivalents of Will, Krauthammer and Gerson. And no, Richard Cohen does not count.

... and now, the economy.

atrios says:

Josh Marshall:
Bob Reich on what today's economic numbers mean Obama will probably have to come back for more Stimulus.

From the Department of "Ya Think?", C&L: Jobless Angry at GOP Governors for Playing Politics over Unemployment Funds

I guess the Republican governors are counting on their residents becoming so poor, they won't have TVs and so they won't find out what they're missing in other states? I really don't see the point of playing such heartless games with peoples' lives:

For people like Henry Kight, 59, of Austin, Tex., the possibility that the money might be turned down is a deeply personal issue.

Mr. Kight, who worked for more than three decades as an engineering technician, discovered in September that because of complex state rules, he was not eligible for unemployment insurance after losing a job ....

Unable to draw jobless benefits, he and his wife have taken on thousands of dollars in credit-card debt to help make ends meet.


Mr. Kight and other unemployed workers said they were incensed to learn they were living in one of a handful of states — many of them among the poorest in the nation — that might not provide the expanded benefits.

“It just seems unreasonable,” Mr. Kight said, ...

He was referring to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who has said he may decline the extra money rather than change state policy.


“I don’t understand the whole thing,” said Kelley Joyce, 43, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., about indications from Gov. Mark Sanford that he may reject some of the stimulus financing in that state. “Apparently because he has money and he doesn’t have to worry about everybody else who doesn’t have money.”

Well, Kelley, it's not about logic! It's about political ambition and power, and you should be grateful that your life will serve as a stepping stone for your GOP betters! ...

John Cole:
Bad All Over And Getting Worse

And it is worth noting that the Republican response so far has been to basically say “no” to every single effort to help remedy this situation. This is the same Republican party who had the following to say about the recession:

- “We don’t believe we’re going to have a recession though.” [Vice President Dick Cheney, 1/30/08] – “I think the experts will tell you we’re not in a recession.” [President Bush, 2/10/08]

– “The answer is, I don’t think we are in a recession right now.” [Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Edward Lazear, 2/11/08]

– “First of all, we’re not in a recession.” [President Bush, 4/22/08]

– “The data are pretty clear that we are not in a recession.” [Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Edward Lazear, 5/7/08]

– “I don’t think we are” in a recession. [Director of the National Economic Council Keith Hennesy, 6/3/08]

– “I think we have avoided a recession.” [White House Budget Director Jim Nussle, 7/31/08]

– “I don’t think anybody could tell you right now if we’re in a recession or not” [Dana Perino, 10/7/08]

One of the chief economic advisers to their then Presidential candidate repeatedly referred to those feeling the pain of the recession as a nation of whiners while suggesting it was all in their heads, and now, as it is blindingly obvious that we are in serious, serious trouble, the leading lights of the opposition party are spending their days getting economic advice from a handyman who could not figure out that because he made significantly less than 250 grand a year he would not be having his taxes increased, taking their political advice from a radio loudmouth, holding panels at their annual conference discussing how Al Franken and ACORN are ruining Democracy, and spending their days questioning whether or not our President is actually an American. Meanwhile, as the DOW looks like it will dip below 7000 on more horrible economic news, the grass roots movement of the party is throwing “tea parties” to protest attempts by the opposition party to address this crisis.

When you hear the wingnuts talk triumphantly about their little tea party today, that is the appropriate context (from the comments: “Remind me, was the original tea party a demonstration against 95% of the colonies getting a tax cut?”). I honestly don’t know how anyone with half a brain still identifies as a Republican or conservative. These guys seem intent on doing to the conservative brand what they did to the name liberal brand, only much more effectively. This is a bankrupt movement.

Chris in Paris: British bankers say they will leave UK if bonuses are capped
Knock yourselves out and do us a favor. Where oh where will they go? They still are convinced of their own "talent" which means so little to the rest of the world. Sure the system they created is little more than burning embers from the once great fires of prosperity but it was all a fraud. Those profits that they were paid on weren't profits, but paper shells. They really need to get over themselves and their odd sense of entitlement. Let them find somewhere else to destroy and if that mysterious country/city wants to pay them, great.

Scherer at Swampland: Bad Bad Bank
The good people at public radio's This American Life, who authored one of the best journalistic explanations of the financial collapse, have another installment coming this weekend, an hour long program called "Bad Bank."

In Japan, they know how to handle situations like this. they kick the poverty god.

DailyKOS' DemfromCT Health Care Friday is always good, including:

  • Don't miss this wrap-up of a new Kaiser poll on how voters feel about health reform. Note that Congressional Republican leaders lag behind in the trust column.

Yglesias: Buck McKeon’s Student Loan Crony Capitalism

The Obama administration’s budget proposes to have the federal government spend billions of dollars on student loans to help students attend college. Since conservative ideology indicates that money should only be spent on killing people, preparing to kill people, and threatening to kill people it’s not surprising to learn that some members of congress are not enthusiastic about this proposal. But there’s a twist. The government already spends billions of dollars on student loans. And the Obama administration is proposing to reduce expenditures.

How so? Well right now we do student loans through a really pointless mechanism of basically laundering the money through private firms. All of the downside risk is borne by the government in case of default. And the lenders receive federal subsidies for doing the service of undertaking no-risk lending. ... take a slice off the top for profits .... ... Obama is proposing to do is to save taxpayers money by simply having the government make the loans. What’s not to like? Well:

But there’s already been pushback from Republicans. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Education Committee, lashed out against the proposed shift, calling it a “government takeover of the private-sector-based student loan program, taking away options and benefits from students while adding tens of billions” of dollars to the deficit.

The government is not, however, “taking over” anything. The government already completely controls the industry since it’s existence is predicated on the existence of federal subsidies. Obama is simply proposing to cut out the middle man and save some money. ...

... Rather than a debate between progressives who want the government to provide a public service and conservatives who want the service to exist just insofar as it can be supported by the private market, we have a debate where both sides agree that the service ought to exist but the right thinks it’s important that it be done in a less efficient more costly manner ... to preserve the integrity of the private sector.

Steve and Rachel and friends do CPAC

Welcome to the freak show. But first, how's that "party of no" thing working out for you?

In the department of "ROTFLMAO", DemfromCT in an excellent post on a
Shocking Gallup Poll Suggests Obama Should Keep His Day Job
If you listen to conservatives, Obama's poll numbers have been tanking lately. He's gone from astronomically popular to merely incredibly popular (and, of course, according to our media, that must be good news for John McCain.) But the numbers aren't cooperating this week with that narrative. To go along with this morning's Daily Kos R2K solid favorable/unfavorable numbers (which showed an especially favorable +13 for Congressional Democrats), Gallup's Presidential job approval rating jumped to 67%.


"Obama's approval rebound is due to increased support from all political groups, but especially from independents and Republicans, whose support had been waning. Over the past week, independents' approval of Obama dropped from 62% to 54%, but is now back to 62%. There has been a sharp increase in support among Republicans, from 27% to 42%. Democrats' support for Obama was already extremely high at 86%, but even this has climbed slightly, to 90% in the latest polling."

It's not that independents disliked him, they just moved to undecided as they absorbed the economic news, bank troubles and a steady diet of GOP carping. But that didn't last.
According to the numbers, Republicans had the biggest jump in approval. Now, that 42 is way higher than George W. Bush had on leaving office with all the voters (29), and is about what liberal/moderate Republicans thought of Bush this past December (conservative Republicans still loved Bush, with 72% approval, even as late as Dec. 08.) It's also higher than what a lot of other groups thought of Bush. Gallup in 12/08:

QOTD, Joe Sudbay:
Their one true leader is Rush. He's kind of like the Kim Jong-Il of the GOP. You know, he's got all kinds of weird quirks and addictions, but they all live in fear of him and take orders without question.

QOTD2, Steve Benen: Now, I've seen quite a few descriptions of the Republican Party of late, but "a very narrow party of angry people" is one of the more apt.

QOTD3, John Cole:
When you hear the wingnuts talk triumphantly about their little tea party today, that is the appropriate context (from the comments: “Remind me, was the original tea party a demonstration against 95% of the colonies getting a tax cut?”). I honestly don’t know how anyone with half a brain still identifies as a Republican or conservative. These guys seem intent on doing to the conservative brand what they did to the name liberal brand, only much more effectively. This is a bankrupt movement.

Priceless but Not CPAC QOTD4,
proving once again that if repuglican lips are moving, they are lying.. TPM: Jindal Admits Katrina Story Was False.

Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night -- about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?

Turns out it wasn't actually, you know, true.


But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone "days later." The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.

This is no minor difference. Jindal's presence in Lee's office during the crisis itself was a key element of the story's intended appeal, putting him at the center of the action during the maelstrom. Just as important, Jindal implied that his support for the sheriff helped ensure the rescue went ahead. But it turns out Jindal wasn't there at the key moment, and played no role in making the rescue happen.

There's a larger point here, though. The central anecdote of the GOP's prime-time response to President Obama's speech, intended to illustrate the threat of excessive government regulation, turns out to have been made up.

Maybe it's time to rethink the premise.

Venal repuglican but not QOTD6, TPM: Secret Coleman-Lawyer E-Mails Reveal Intentional Hiding Of Witness -- Franken Camp Wants Double-Count Claim Thrown Out Completely

All hell just broke loose in the Minnesota courtroom, with Al Franken's lawyers catching Team Coleman in the act of yet more concealing of evidence -- and they've now made a motion to totally strike the Coleman camp's claims about double-counting of ballots, which the Coleman camp has hoped to use to subtract over 100 votes from Franken's lead. You might remember that ...

Ridiculous QOTD5, not CPAC, but ..... From AmericaBlog: Pay for toilets on a flight? --
Irish carrier Ryanair, Europe's largest budget airline, might start charging passengers for using the toilet while flying, chief executive Michael O'Leary said on Friday.

"One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future," he told BBC television.

He said this would not inconvenience passengers travelling without cash. "I don't think there is anybody in history that has got on board a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound."

TPM: Steele's New GOP Message: 'My Bad'

At the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, RNC Chief Michael Steele announced: "Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad." Enthusiastically responding to the speech, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said: "Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man."

TPM: SLIDESHOW: Conservative Activists Come Out For CPAC 2009

Rachel. Nuff said.

Joe Sudbay: Rush, the GOP's one true Supreme Leader
This weekend, at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC), which could be called the "We want Obama to fail" conference, they're all anxiously awaiting the leader of the GOP. ... Their one true leader is Rush. He's kind of like the Kim Jong-Il of the GOP. You know, he's got all kinds of weird quirks and addictions, but they all live in fear of him and take orders without question.

Americans United and AFSCME did an ad featuring Rush and his most loyal servants:

The ad will be playing on cable nationally and in the D.C. market, which means the CPAC whackos can see their leader featured in a t.v. ad. But, the sick thing is that none of them will think this is bad. They all agree with Rush. ...

Yglesias - McConnell: Hanging Out With Rush Limbaugh is Awesome

Sarah Posner reports from CPAC:

In his CPAC speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted that conservatives are more “interesting” and “fun” than liberals. Here’s his proof: “who wants to hang out with guys like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich when you can be with Rush Limbaugh?”

Think Progress has boldly gone to CPAC and is delivering goodies like this: Tom DeLay Channels Limbaugh: I Want Obama To Fail
... In an interview with ThinkProgress at CPAC today, we asked DeLay whether he agrees with Limbaugh’s statements. DeLay said Limbaugh was “exactly” right to root for Obama’s failure:

TP: Do you agree with Rush Limbaugh that we shouldn’t hope for President Obama to succeed?

DELAY: Well, exactly right. I don’t want this for our nation. That’s for sure.


It’s not surprising that DeLay is hoping for the President to fail; he has been slandering Obama for months. “I tagged him as a Marxist months ago,” DeLay boasted during the campaign, recalling his earlier assertions Obama had an “old school Marxist, radical liberal failed ideology.”

In a separate interview with ThinkProgress at CPAC today, DeLay said that Obama is a “con artist.” Watch the video here.

(Videos at the link, I won't post Delay here.)

More TP boldness: Exclusive: Joe the Plumber suggests some members of Congress should be shot.
On Wednesday, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher said that if he were in Congress, he would “probably be in jail” because he’d be charged with “slapping some member.” He added, “And that’s not [bull] either.” ...

Tea Party: Benen and A FOOL AND HIS MONEY....
Jonah Goldberg explains his opposition to President Obama's economic agenda, and what he wants to do about it.

I just don't want to pay for it. It's not that I don't want government to do nice things for deserving people in certain circumstances. It's not necessarily that I'm hostile to this group of beneficiaries or that (though I am in fact hostile to some). It's that I think most of Obama's ideas will not work, will be a waste of money and will hurt the economy. And, flatly, I don't want to pay for it. I don't want to break the law. I don't want pull a Geithner or a Daschle or anything like that. But I don't want to pay for it. I will look for every means within the boundaries of the law to minimize what I pay in taxes and I make no apologies for that whatsoever.

Goldberg was a little vague as to what "it" is he doesn't like. Infrastructure investment? Student loans? Food stamps?

In any case, I found this interesting. ...


Goldberg concludes, however, that he's looking for guidance about how to follow the law while also denying the government funding. The available options are limited, but off the top of my head, and motivated solely by my desire to help Jonah Goldberg, I can think of two alternatives.


First, most of the money Goldberg pays to the government comes by way of income taxes. As such, if he wants to undermine the government's economic policies, he'll need to make less money. ...

Second, he can leave the country. ...

Beyond those options, I'm afraid Goldberg's out of luck. Am I missing any alternatives?

... Matt Yglesias flagged these comments from Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a conservative Republican from a conservative Republican state. ...

Now, I've seen quite a few descriptions of the Republican Party of late, but "a very narrow party of angry people" is one of the more apt. Matt also noted that Huntsman's contingent also probably includes Charlie Crist and David Brooks, making up a reformist branch looking for a bigger, more inclusive party.

What's striking, though, is just how small the contingent is. Just a couple of weeks ago, 95% of the Republicans in Congress voted for a stimulus package that didn't include any stimulus. Rush Limbaugh said no one should criticize far-right Republican Bobby Jindal's national address, not because it was good, but because he's a far-right Republican. RNC Chairman Michael Steele is openly discussing the possibility of withholding support from Republican lawmakers who stray from the conservative line. A GOP leader in the House is openly discussing emulating the Taliban, and no one in the party denounced the comments. It's the Palin-Pence-Plumber Party.

Huntsman's perspective stands out in large part because most of the party isn't even willing to consider the possibility of veering from its current course.

If there's a Republican "civil war" for the party's future, Huntsman/Crist/Brooks doesn't stand a chance.

Benen - NYUK, NYUK, NUKE.... What is it about conservatives and their attitudes about attacks on U.S. cities?
A few years ago, TV preacher Pat Robertson said he welcomed a nuclear attack on the State Department, telling a national television audience, "Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up." A couple of years later, Bill O'Reilly welcomed a terrorist attack on San Francisco. The Fox News personality told al Qaeda, "You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

And yesterday, the Bush administration's former U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, generated wild applause joking about a nuclear attack on Chicago.

"The fact is on foreign policy I don't think President Obama thinks it's a priority," Bolton said. "He said during the campaign he thought Iran was a 'tiny' threat. Tiny, tiny depending on how many nuclear weapons they are ultimately able to deliver on target. It's, uh, it's tiny compared to the Soviet Union, but is the loss of one American city -- pick one at random, Chicago -- is that a tiny threat?"

Jonathan Stein noted, "Bolton wasn't the only one who thought this was funny. ...

Either way, it's evidence of a twisted ideology. I find it hard to believe Bolton sincerely wants to see Chicago hit by a nuclear strike, but if the right would stop welcoming cataclysmic attacks on Americans, I'd feel a little better about their seemingly sick psyches. ...

Post Script: By the way, Bolton took Obama's "tiny" quote out of context. He's not only joking about domestic terrorism and the death of millions; he's lying about it, too.

Commenter ottoman88 at Swampland:
  1. Meanwhile, while Scherer is focused on what soft drink is popular at the White House, the conservatives in this country are fantasizing about having a military coup or having Chicago struck with a nuclear bomb.
    Sean Hannity asking his viewers what kind of revolution they want to have, John Bolton chuckling at CPAC about the prospects of Obama's home town getting nuked. Remind me again, Beltway Media morons -- why do you think bipartisanship is possible, much less so important?

C&L: Karl Rove condemns Obama's budget: 'This is going to do long-term fiscal damage'

Karl Rove ... last night on Sean Hannity's Fox program ... flat-out attacked the Obama stimulus.


This is going to do long-term fiscal damage to the United States.

I'm not sure any member of the Bush administration should be making this kind of speculative charge. Especially considering that their budget-making in fact did inflict long-term fiscal damage.

Worst persons in the World. Hannity fomenting insurrection.

There be Bloggers in the White House

Peter Orzag had a blog when he was Director of the CBO, where he proved remarkably effective at engaging the public on complex issues in a timely and honest manner.

And now he is blogging as Director of the OMB in the White House. THE BLOG

It's almost like the new administration believes in the government of, for and by the people thing.

What a concept.


QOTD, Paul Krugman: But I don’t blame Mr. Obama for leaving some big questions unanswered in this budget. There’s only so much long-run thinking the political system can handle in the midst of a severe crisis; he has probably taken on all he can, for now. And this budget looks very, very good.

QOTD2, hilzoy: It's actually hard to understand how the banks managed to do this badly: you'd think they could have done better hiring people off the street and paying them to put all those nice little loan documents into piles at random, or tossing mortgages down the stairs and bundling them based on how they landed. They certainly didn't need to hire people with advanced math degrees and pay them seven- or eight-figure salaries to get these kinds of results.

Good stuff today. A number of posts on the Obama budget, which has progressives swooning and repugs gnashing, a bank that is too big to fail gets partially digested - and a venal CEO story.

But first, time to point and laugh at a few repuglicans, including the venerable George Will, who is proving that you really can't inject new facts into the conservative brain without them responding by doubling down on what they "know" to be true. Sad, I though tbetter of Will than this.

Joe Sudbay: George Will stands by his discredited global warming column and will regurgitate the same false information in his next column
Will should spend more time worrying about the veracity of his columns and less time obsessing about men hugging. He's further damaged the already damaged credibility of the Washington Post's editorial pages and the Post has allowed it by standing by their man. Fred Hiatt himself is sticking up for Will, (but probably not hugging him.)

This is beyond disturbing. Will is letting his deeply held partisan views cloud whatever judgment he has left. This is how careers end -- or it should be.

One other thing: If a progressive columnist authored a blatantly false column in the Washington Post, the Republicans on Capitol Hill will be up in arms. There would be speeches and resolutions galore. But, there has been silence from the Democrats over George Will's egregious error and his failure to own up to it. See, many Democrats still think the Washington Post editorial page matters. It doesn't (unless one is worried about being invited to the "right" cocktail parties here in D.C.)

Ahhhhhhhh, To be young, gifted, and conservative. DougJ explains:

This (via Oliver Willis who also describes a Twitter exchange with Joe Scarborough) really cracks me up:

"For much of the past decade, young conservatives enjoyed an array of job opportunities in the Republican-controlled Congress and at insulated, well-funded nonprofit organizations. But since Democrats gained control in 2006, many prized slots on Senate and House committees started going to the new majority. And now, there’s no Republican administration in power to offer jobs to its own.

Young conservatives could apply for regular jobs, they acknowledge…"


From JedL (Daily KOS), a little pushback from Matthews.

From Yglesias: Everything you wanted to know about the Obama budget and more from the Center for American Progress policy teams:
  1. Dan Weiss on the climate and energy elements.
  2. Cindy Brown and Melissa Lazarín on education.
  3. Larry Korb on defense.
  4. Michael Ettlinger on the big picture.

It’s not Obama’s style to actually say this, but were this budget to be enacted it would be by far the most significant progressive step in over forty years.

Krugman senses a Climate of Change

Elections have consequences. President Obama’s new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course.

The budget will, among other things, come as a huge relief to Democrats who were starting to feel a bit of postpartisan depression. The stimulus bill that Congress passed may have been too weak and too focused on tax cuts. The administration’s refusal to get tough on the banks may be deeply disappointing. But fears that Mr. Obama would sacrifice progressive priorities in his budget plans, and satisfy himself with fiddling around the edges of the tax system, have now been banished.


Many will ask whether Mr. Obama can actually pull off the deficit reduction he promises. Can he actually reduce the red ink from $1.75 trillion this year to less than a third as much in 2013? Yes, he can.

Right now the deficit is huge thanks to temporary factors (at least we hope they’re temporary): a severe economic slump is depressing revenues and large sums have to be allocated both to fiscal stimulus and to financial rescues.

But if and when the crisis passes, the budget picture should improve dramatically.

And even if fundamental health care reform brings costs under control, I at least find it hard to see how the federal government can meet its long-term obligations without some tax increases on the middle class. Whatever politicians may say now, there’s probably a value-added tax in our future.

But I don’t blame Mr. Obama for leaving some big questions unanswered in this budget. There’s only so much long-run thinking the political system can handle in the midst of a severe crisis; he has probably taken on all he can, for now. And this budget looks very, very good.

NYTimes Editorial: President Obama’s Budget: Some Honesty About Taxes — Finally

President Obama’s first budget recognizes what most of Washington has been too scared or ideologically blind to admit: to recover from George W. Bush’s reckless economic policies, taxes must go up.

Mr. Obama’s blueprint, released on Thursday, commits to cutting by more than two-thirds, by 2013, the $1.75 trillion budget deficit that Mr. Bush dumped on the nation.

A credible pledge to reduce the deficit is imperative. Without it, foreign lenders — who financed the Bush-era deficits and are now paying for the stimulus and bailouts — could lose faith in the nation’s ability or willingness to repay in anything other than rapidly depreciating dollars. That would send interest rates up and the economy down, the worst-case scenario. Controlling the deficit is also necessary to sustain a recovery — when it comes.


Feb. 26: Rachel Maddow is joined by office of Management and Budget director Peter Orzag to talk about Obama's recently revealed budget plan.

K-Tum tells us about A Sign of What's to Come:

... Did you wake up feeling like a titan of Wall Street? You are now the biggest shareholder in one of the country's premier financial institutions. The NYT is reporting that the Treasury Department has reached a deal in which the federal government will take a stake of between 30% and 40% in Citibank.:

The Obama administration deliberately stopped short of securing a majority or controlling interest in Citigroup, but will probably come under intense pressure to take a much larger role in shaping the bank's direction. Taxpayers, after pumping more than $45 billion into the bank, have become Citigroup's single largest shareholder. ...

The move is one of the most drastic steps federal officials have taken to prevent the collapse of an institution deemed “too big too fail,” as its downfall could send shockwaves through the global markets. ...

The Obama administration has tried to keep the banks in private hands and tried to stamp out talk of nationalization. But Citigroup's plunging share price and its deteriorating financial condition made it almost inevitable the government would have to convert its stake.

So now that we own the bank, what should we do with it?
  • From the comments:
  • Elvis Elvisberg Says:

    So we've pumped in $45 billion... and the company's market cap is $13.4 billion.
    Happily, we just happen to have a very recent model of what not to do after a real estate bubble in a wealthy country. Why are we hewing to the script of what not to do? Why aren't we treating this bank like we treat the 4 banks a week the FDIC takes over?
    Bursting bubbles are absolutely no fun at all. But zombie banks-- that's how you get from a recession to a lost decade.

  • Chris in Paris: Too big to fail no longer an option Regulation is a good first step though it's only a first step. A year ago, many on the left in finance still bought into the self-regulation garbage but thankfully, they are moving on. It's only the GOP who is left out in the cold on this important issue. What impresses me here is not only is Volcker calling for regulation but he is also calling for international oversight which is critical. Geithner is lagging too far behind on such cooperation but nobody really expected him to be an earth shaker in the first place. ...

hilzoy: Now That's What I Call Toxic!

During the past year or so, I have sometimes wondered exactly how toxic all those toxic assets really are. It's hard to tell, since they differ from one another, and are not traded that often. However, the Financial Times (h/t) has some answers:


If I'm reading this right, within four years of being issued, two thirds of these CDOs are in defaultt, and their recovery rates are very, very low. That's just staggering. It's actually hard to understand how the banks managed to do this badly: you'd think they could have done better hiring people off the street and paying them to put all those nice little loan documents into piles at random, or tossing mortgages down the stairs and bundling them based on how they landed. They certainly didn't need to hire people with advanced math degrees and pay them seven- or eight-figure salaries to get these kinds of results.

And how about those ratings agencies? They would have done a better job using a Magic 8-Ball to rate the CDOs. ("Signs point to junk!")

I have been hearing for years and years about how the financial services sector pays such exorbitant wages because the people who work there are so immensely talented that they are cheap at $50 million a year. I never particularly bought that line before. But I never imagined that all those Masters of the Universe would do quite this badly. If we had paid them $50 million a year to go far, far away and leave our financial system alone, it would have been a bargain.

The column ends with a very important observation:

"Those American officials who are implementing flashy new "stress tests" of banks would do well to take note."


Chris in Paris: Failed banking CEO insists in keeping $1,000,000 per year pension

Numbers be damned! Really, who gives a damn what legal agreement was agreed upon yesterday when the bloody numbers provided by the bank were a sham? Once again, bank leaders are showing the world why they are irresponsible and deserve nothing less than our collective scorn. Apparently just as banks offered liar loans, they also managed to sign themselves up for liars compensation.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Yesterday, I visited with a high school science class in Virginia. The teacher told me
that her husband - a first responder - had an insight that led him to develop a rapid and intuitive method for assessing risk at emergency HazMat sites in minutes instead of the hours it otherwise takes using traditional methods. An innovation that will have, is already having, worldwide impacts in the ability of first responders to quickly assess and contain sites with chemical spills. An innovation that led to a new small business as well. Stunning stuff.

And then there is this ...

Breathtaking in its simplicity -
Geniuses at Play, on the Job
One of Google’s geniuses figured out that whenever people get sick, they use Google to search for more information. By collating these searches, Google has created an early-warning system for flu outbreaks in your area, with color-coded graphs. Google says that Flu Trends ( has recognized outbreaks two weeks sooner than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has.

TPM: Breathtaking in his stupidity,
In New Column, Will Sticks To His Guns On Global Warming
We thought we were done with the topic of George Will and climate change. But now we've gotten an advanced look at Will's latest column, set to run tomorrow in the Washington Post and in syndication. And it amounts to a stubborn defense of the amazing global warming denialist column he published earlier this month, that was ripped apart by just about everyone and their mother -- including us. .... read on at the link

Blue Girl: About that 'liberal bias' in the media...
Oh, it exists, all right. It is very, very real. But it is the exact opposite of what the whining republicans and their enablers claim. The bias actually works in favor of Republicans.

That is the finding of two Indiana University professors who analyzed network coverage of the 1992-2004 presidential campaigns.

Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Erik Bucy, both associate professors in the Department of Telecommunications of IU's College of Arts and Sciences, report their findings in their book, Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections (Oxford University Press).

"We don't think this is journalists conspiring to favor Republicans. We think they're just so beat up and tired of being accused of a liberal bias that they unknowingly give Republicans the benefit in coverage," said Grabe, who also is a research associate in political science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. "It's self-censorship that journalists might be imposing on themselves."

Breathtaking to see a msm pundit (Matt Lauer) push back against a RW operator. Rick Santelli says White House threatened him, then blames his wife as he backtracks

LAUER: Let me take this a step further. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, commented, called you out in the briefing room, and after you heard his comments, you said that he was threatening you. Are you serious about that?

SANTELLI: Listen, let's put it this way. Matt, you're married, are you not?

LAUER: Yeah, I am.

SANTELLI: OK. This is more about the feelings my wife had when she watched the body language and listened to what he was saying, and I think you understand --

LAUER: But this is the White House press secretary. Do you think he's going to threaten you on national television?


LAUER: But the only thing I would say , Rick, is if you go out of your way to call out the president of the United States, you have to expect that his representative may go out of his way to call you out. Isn't that go -- doesn't that go with the territory?

SANTELLI: Well, what we're really saying is calling out -- as a member of the press, do I not get to ask a question or question the system? I understand that. I just --

LAUER: And as the press secretary, doesn't he have the right to ask you a question?

SANTELLI: He certainly does. It would be nice if he did it face to face, but I don't know that he needs to throw out my name. I just have an issue with that.

This was my hometown newspaper: The Rocky Mountain News will publish its final edition Friday.

QOTD, atrios - This Krugman post is worth reading to understand just how absurd Jindal's random attack against volcano monitoring was. It isn't simply that volcano monitoring might be a somewhat reasonable thing to do, it's also something that the private sector is not going to do because volcano monitoring is a public good, something with a precise definition in the world of economics (as opposed to a publicly provided good, which is just anything the government happens to fund).

Breathtaking ...

Speaking of Breathtaking, the This is folks have a new ad out, this one created by the Coen Brothers:

  • Breathtaking chutzpah. Speaking of Republicans making stuff up, Rove is accusing Obama of using straw men to advance his arguments. The chutzpah is breathtaking, coming from the master of the straw man strategy. Remember: "Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers." Great articles by Greenwald and Steve Benen take Rove apart. I'll not try excerpting them - too good to read just a bite.

RW Smokescreens
atrios says:
Revenue And Income Not actually the same thing. That knowledge makes me too intelligent to be a CNBC host.
  • Apparently it also makes him too intelligent to be a Republican senator like Jim Demint who is out there blowing smoke by saying: "It looks like he’s gonna try to get a lot of that revenue from raising payroll taxes on upper income and that sounds good but basically that affects small businesses and their ability to hire people. So I just think it shows a lack of understanding of the private sector. A lot of people make — who are reporting a quarter million dollars — you know, I’ve done that before in my small business, and I was actually taking home like 50 or 40." Matt Ygleisais responds: "I don’t know why DeMint thinks people who are only taking home $40k or $50k would be filing as people who earn $250,000. I think he wants people to think that the government is taxing gross business receipts, so that if I spend $230,000 on my business to earn $300,000 in revenue, that I’m taxed on all $300,000. But that’s not how it works at all. You deduct business expenses and pay taxes on your net income. Any small businessman who’s earning a middle class income isn’t paying in the top two brackets, just as any salaried employee who’s earning a middle class income isn’t paying in the top two brackets."

Speaking of public good, here's Chris in Paris calling out CNBC: Obama's call for regulation 'spooked' market.
Where to start with this CNBC gem? If the market doesn't like the President calling for a new era of regulation and responsibility after one of the hardest falls in decades, tough. Anyone who is flustered by the words of Obama and wants to run because of a drop at the end of a day needs to get out of the business immediately. The market has benefited the elite and traders and has trashed the retirement investments for a few hundred million so apologies if I don't cry over Wall Street's drop on Wednesday. If CNBC and the cheerleaders are unable to see the necessity - yes, necessity - to improve the system for all Americans, too bad for them.

The AP has more.

I heard Grassley say the say thing as Hutshison, without challenge, on NPR yesterday.
Think Progress: Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Bizarro World: ‘Every Major Tax Cut In History Has Created More Revenue’

Predictably, the right wing is up in arms over the small tax increase for the richest businesses and families. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) complained to a friendly crowd at CNBC this morning that Obama’s tax increases would harm the economy, and insisted the best way to raise revenue is to cut taxes:

HUTCHISON: I think we get revenue the way we’ve done it in the past that has been so successful in the past and that is tax cuts…Every major tax cut we’ve had in history has created more revenue.


The notion that cutting taxes somehow — magically — increases government revenues is a myth that won’t die. “The claim that tax cuts pay for themselves…is contradicted by the historical record,” reported the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which showed that revenues grew twice as fast in the 1990s, when taxes were raised, than in the 1980s, when taxes were cut. called a claim like Hutchison’s “highly misleading” and stated the obvious fact that “we can’t have both lower taxes and fatter government coffers.”


TPM: Obama will lift the ban on photographing the returning American war dead at Dover Air Force Base,
but will allow families of the fallen to prevent photographs on a case by case basis.

On the homepage of the Politico right now, there's a headline that reads, "Joe laughs at Obama speech," above a picture of Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. The headline leads to a story -- and video -- in which we learn the former campaign prop didn't care for President Obama's address to Congress this week.

Apparently, the fact that Wurzelbacher "did not have many nice things to say about Obama's speech" is newsworthy.


Joe the Plumber (no longer a plumber; first name actually Samuel) popped into [Washington, D.C.] yesterday evening to sell his new book and to remind people that he's still a plain and simple guy. Mission accomplished, on at least one of his missions.

About 11 people wandered into the rows of seats ...

At least a few of the 11 didn't actually show up for Wurzelbacher, but were in the store anyway. One was reading "Dreams From My Father" upstairs and thought it was an amusing coincidence that "Joe the Plumber" was in Borders at the time.

Wurzelbacher was scheduled to speak and sign books for three hours. He left after 55 minutes when no one else showed up.

John McCain wasn't there. ...

So, why is his take on a presidential address worthy of a piece at the Politico? Your guess is as good as mine.

TPM Headline:Norm Coleman: Maybe We Need A Do-Over Election

Sudbay: Norm Coleman can't win and GOP Governor says not having another Senator is hurting Minnesota

The Minnesota recount has been very complicated. Norm Coleman has done his best to make sure of that. But, one thing is clear: Coleman cannot win. At this point, it's looking more and more obvious he's working at the behest of the Senate Republicans to keep Al Franken from becoming the 59th Democrat in the Senate. Coleman knows the political press corps can't deal with complicated issues so he's playing to that. Witness the idiotic comments by one of the Washington Post's top political writers, Shailagh Murray about a "re-vote." Idiotic. But, Norm Coleman is now saying the same thing. Thanks, Shailagh.

Big shot Republicans are raising money for Coleman to keep this battle going and to keep Franken out of the Senate.


The Republicans are using the Coleman lawsuit to obstruct the Obama agenda. That's what this is really about, not that any political reporter, like Shailagh Murray, could ever figure that out. The Republicans don't want the Democrats to have 59 Senators. It's a whole hell of a lot easier to get to 60 from 59 then it is from 58.

And, one last thing, if a Democrat was stringing this out, the Republicans would have raised holy hell. The pundits would have been calling for the Democrat to concede. Democrats would have been calling for the Democrat to concede "for the good of the country." And, the Democrat probably would have already conceded. It's time for Norm Coleman to concede for the good of the citizens of Minnesota. But, Norm Coleman would never think like that. No Republican would.

  • Beltway POST reporters seem to want a revote. DougJ caught this:
  • Washington Post reporters do seem to like the idea in general for some reason (from today’s chat):

    Paul Kane: As for a do-over election, there is precedent for it. 1974, New Hampshire Senate race. The US Senate ultimately decided it could not seat anyone, it was unable to determine the winner, therefore a do-over election in the fall of ‘75 was held.


    N.H. Senate Race 1974: That race was much closer than the Franken/Coleman race—at some points in the process less than ten votes. There were a couple of recounts, and the leader changed back and forth in each recount. So finally a new election was held. The Minnesota gap is much wider and Coleman hasn’t come close to getting back in the lead since he lost it. No basis for following the NH example.

    Paul Kane: I remember emailing a bunch of coworkers at almost 4 am election night, er, morning. With a subject line of: Franken is trailing by 75—YES, SEVENTY-FIVE—votes out of nearly 3 million cast.

    Sorry, but this race has been incredibly close, and the lead has switched. The New Hampshire example does apply, get over it.

Journamalism: Swampland's Newton Small and Scherer concern troll The Earmark Debate
Here's a web story from Scherer and me on the furor over the earmarks in the 2009 omnibus bill passed by the House yesterday.
in the comments, sgwhiteinfla says:

Now let me see here.

"In the case of the current budget, Republicans — who themselves account for 40% of the earmark requests — are howling at what they view as Obama's blatant hypocrisy. "
First lets think about something, the Republicans inserted 40% of the earmarks which is pretty much how they compose the House and the Senate so how in the hell is this a Democratic problem JNS? Please explain how this proves ANYTHING about one party rule.
Second of all lets look at the vote.
153 Republicans in the House who voted against the stimulus bill voted FOR the omnibus bill with all those silly earmarks. Anybody other than me smell that stench in the air? Its called hypocrisy. That JNS and Scherer decided to read the Republican talking points without even taking the time to see that those same ass holes voted for the bill is not even suprising anymore.