Saturday, November 7, 2009


If there is a republican rep who is a decent human being, I haven't seen them.
Ah, the splendor of the American political process. Congressional Republicans, once again, making the country proud.

Members of the Democratic Women's Caucus, at the outset of the debate over health care reform, took to the floor of the House of Representatives to highlight the health needs of American women, and the ways in which reform is necessary. House Republicans decided not to let them speak.

Whenever one of the lawmakers would one come to the microphone, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) would simply say, over and over again, in response to nothing, "I object, I object, I object."

It was a procedural gag order at its most inane.

Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio) asked, "Do I not have the right to be able to continue my sentence without objections that are trying to censor my remarks here on the floor that I have a right to make as a member of this House?"

Apparently not.

It's going to be a long day.

Think Progress: Gingrich: The Founding Fathers would be ‘very severe critics’ of Obama if they were alive today.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke before a conservative audience in Naples, FL yesterday. Gingrich gave a talk about his new book, To Try Men’s Souls, which tells the story of men who played a critical role in the Revolutionary War. When a reporter with the Naples News asked Gingrich what the Founding Fathers would “say about our current issues” if they were alive today, he suggested that they would be “very severe critics” of President Obama:

I think they would be very, very severe critics of the current system. And they would tell us that if we continue to drive God out of public life and we continue to increase power in Washington, we are literally putting our freedom at risk.

Watch it:

Gingrich also dodged a question about who he prefers in the Republican primary in Florida’s Senate race. He said former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio (he initially slipped and called him “Mario”) is “a very aggressive, very articulate conservative,” while Gov. Charlie Crist is “a very solid political figure.” Gingrich also said that, “at the moment,” he’s not thinking about running for President in 2012.

Great portrait. Are they all this stupid? I know, rhetorical question.
Getting to know Rep. Virginia Foxx Nov. 6: TMI: Kent Jones joins Rachel Maddow to take a closer look at Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-NC.
John Cole: So Why Didn’t You?

Jack Kingston, R-Ga, on the Democratic health care bill:

“This bill is a wrecking ball to the entire economy,” said Representative Jack Kingston, Republican of Georgia. “ We need targeted specific reforms to help people who have fallen through the health care cracks.”

Ezra Klein, on the Republican bill unveiled just the other day:

The Republican alternative will have helped 3 million people secure coverage, which is barely keeping up with population growth. Compare that to the Democratic bill, which covers 36 million more people and cuts the uninsured population to 4 percent.

But maybe, you say, the Republican bill does a really good job cutting costs. According to CBO, the GOP’s alternative will shave $68 billion off the deficit in the next 10 years. The Democrats, CBO says, will slice $104 billion off the deficit.

The Democratic bill, in other words, covers 12 times as many people and saves $36 billion more than the Republican plan. And amazingly, the Democratic bill has already been through three committees and a merger process.

Shut up, Rep. Kingston. If all we need to do is help those who have slipped through the cracks, then why the hell couldn’t the Republicans do that in their “alternative?” Why does anyone take these people seriously?

You know, I don’t know if the Democrat’s plan is an objectively good bill, and I have my doubts. I have no idea if it will work as planned and be an objectively good thing in the long run. But at least they are trying.


When House Republicans finally unveiled their health care reform proposal this week, one of the glaring problems was that it did not prohibit private insurance companies from discriminating against consumers with pre-existing conditions.

There weren't even any ambiguities. The Wall Street Journal reported this week, "Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio) said Monday that the plan wouldn't seek to prevent health-insurance companies from denying sick people insurance -- a key plank of the Democrats' legislation."

So, what did Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) have to say on the House floor last night?

"The Republican alternative makes it illegal for an insurance company to deny coverage to someone with prior coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition."

Seriously? That's clearly and demonstrably wrong. I can appreciate a good spin on a bad bill as much as the next guy, but "keeps it legal" and "makes it illegal" are not the same.

It's not even a close call: "[The] GOP alternative plan ... does not prohibit health insurance companies from denying coverage to people due to pre-existing medical conditions."

Congressional Republicans used to support these kinds of restrictions on private insurers, but dropped their commitment when crafting their own plan. Pretending otherwise isn't helpful. It's also a reminder about why bipartisan outreach hasn't gone well -- a few too many lawmakers don't know, or don't care about, the facts.

John Cole: Here Is How It Works

What does it cost to get $2.4 billion in unemployment benefits extension?

$24 billion:

President Obama is scheduled today to put his signature to HR 3548, the unemployment extension bill that’s been struggling to make its way out of Congress for over a month. Thousands of unemployed Americans will applaud this move by Congress and the White House. Despite the protracted process of getting the bill through the Senate after an initial version was passed in the House, this is much-needed legislation that will help unemployed Americans whose benefits have or will run out in all 50 states.

Also included in this bill is an extension of the homebuyer tax credit to April 2010. The bill totals $24 billion in economic stimulus through these programs.

More here:

The House voted 403-12 today to approve Senate amendments to H.R. 3548, the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009, and sent the measure to
President Obama for his signature. The bill extends unemployment insurance benefits but also includes a provision added in the Senate that will expand businesses` ability to “carry back” net operating losses suffered during the current recession in order to claim a refund from taxes paid in previous years.

You see- you aren’t allowed to just pass a bill extending unemployment benefits at the cost of $2.4 billion dollars, because that would be socialism. It takes another $21.6 billion to grease the palms of the people who own the “moderates” and the “fiscal conservatives,” and once you get the cost up to $24 billion, you have achieved “capitalism.”

Please tell me I am interpreting this wrong. I would love to be wrong about this. I really would. I’m sure no bad can come from artificially propping up the housing market with tax credits.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dollars and Sense

QOTD, Robert Reich:

That should be Obama's selling point to the Blue Dogs. He should tell them the economy needs a bigger stimulus in order to show improved job numbers by the mid-term elections. And he should make sure they understand that they're more politically endangered next November if the the job numbers aren't moving in the right direction by then than if they vote for a larger stimulus now.

Krugman: Obama’s trap

Back in the first few months of the current administration, when I was writing piece after piece urging the new administration to adopt a more aggressive economic policy, what I had very much in my mind — and wrote about on a few occasions — was the possibility of a sort of political economy trap. If unemployment continued to rise, I feared, Congress wouldn’t draw the right conclusion — that we needed more stimulus. Instead, the verdict would be that Obama’s economic policies weren’t working, so we needed to do less. And high unemployment would also lead to Democratic electoral losses, further undermining the ability to act (since the fact is that today’s GOP is the party of economic ignorance). The result would be a persistently depressed economy, and a fading out of Obama’s promise.

I really, really wish I had been wrong about this — and for a while, as banks seemed to regain their footing and stocks went up, it looked as if the administration’s softly, softly policy might work out after all. But on the things that truly matter, above all jobs, reality has played out even worse than I feared. Today the unemployment rate passed 10%, a sort of brutal milestone.

The thing to do, I guess, is to keep making the case for doing more; in particular, we can hope that centrist Democrats will finally realize that timid economic policies are hurting their own electoral prospects. But it’s an uphill fight.

Who’s to blame? The buck stops with the president. But did his economic advisers make it clear to him that the proposed stimulus was way short of what the math suggested we needed, even given what was known in January? Or was Mr. Obama really led to believe that his stimulus proposal was as bold as he claimed it was?

I don’t know. But I’ve got a sick feeling about the whole situation.
Yglesias: Unemployment Passes 10 Percent

More bad news on the labor market front:

20091106-gy92mm24bxu36bru66buwsubcp 1

Takeaways: One, people need to stop worrying about inflation. Two, the federal government should deploy more aid to state and local governments. Three, instead of easing up on the easing of monetary policy the Fed needs to ease even more, probably by taking some advice from Scott Sumner about ways this is possible.

Meteorblades (DK): Layoffs Slacken. U6 Soars to 17.5%

Nonfarm payroll jobs fell another 190,000 in October, and the U3 unemployment rate calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics rose to 10.2%, it was announced this morning. The layoffs were higher than the 175,000 consensus of 84 economists surveyed beforehand by Bloomberg. But the number was also the lowest monthly job loss recorded since August 2008, an indication that the grim job market is improving, but with painful slowness. Earlier predictions by some analysts of a possible net growth in manufacturing jobs failed to pan out. Instead, 61,000 jobs were shed in that sector.

The percentage of officially unemployed Americans rose to the highest level since April 1983, with 15.7 million out of work. An alternative gauge of unemployment used by the BLS, U6, rose to 17.5%, or 27 million Americans. Unlike U3, the U6 figure includes "discouraged workers" and those who are employed part time only because they can’t find full-time jobs.

Click for larger version.
*Numbers in the above chart do not include the 824,000 lost jobs that the BLS will add in its January adjustment to be published Feb. 5.

Click for larger version.

The BLS report also noted:

• The average workweek for production and non-supervisory workers held steady at 33 hours.

• The number of long-term jobless (27 weeks or longer) rose 200,000 to 5.6 million, some 37% of the total who are unemployed. (President Obama will this morning sign the extension of unemployment insurance that was passed by Congress this week after several weeks of Republican obstructionism ignored the plight of workers exhausting their benefits.)

• The U3 rate by gender: men – 10.7%; women – 8.1%. By race: whites – 9.5%; Asian Americans – 7.5%; African Americans – 15.7%; Latinos – 13.1%. The teenage rate (aged 16-19): 27.6%

• Hiring of temporary seasonal workers increased by 34,000 for a total of 44,000 since July.

• August job losses were revised from 201,000 to 154,000, and the losses for September were revised from 263,000 to 219,000.

• The Labor force participation rate sank to 65.1% in October. The employment to population ratio also fell, to 58.5%.

Although some optimists suggest that net positive job growth will begin in the fourth quarter, just as gross domestic product grew in the third quarter, other analysts see that milestone arriving as late as March. Whenever that job growth does occur, it may be anemic. If it is, we could see what was anomaly in the previous two recessions (before the current one) become the standard. That is, a "jobless recovery" marked by much longer lags between the time GDP recovers to its pre-recession level and when the economy employs as many people as had jobs at the recession’s beginning.

Looked at another way, we could have a so-called V-shaped recovery in GDP, with an L________-shaped recovery in jobs.

Here’s some historical data. In the four most recent previous recessions, the bounceback to pre-recession levels went like this:

• 1973-75 - GDP: 24 months; Jobs: 24 months
• 1981-82 - GDP: 24 months; Jobs: 28 months
• 1990-91 - GDP: 18 months; Jobs: 31 months
• 2001 - GDP: 6 months; Jobs: 47 months

Click for larger version of this Calculated Risk chart.

The last time a GDP recovery and job recovery were close to a match came after the recession that ended in late 1982. While that turnaround had its own problems, Eugene H. Becker and Norman Bowers wrote in the February 1984 issue of the BLS's Monthly Labor Review:

The end of 1983 marked a year of recovery from one of the longest and deepest post-World War II recessions. Improvement in the employment situation compared favorably with previous recovery periods. Spurred primarily by a surge in consumer spending, particularly on durable goods such as housing, appliances, and automobiles, real gross national product picked up sharply in the spring and summer months. Overall, real GNP grew by about 6 percent over the year (fourth quarter 1982 to fourth quarter 1983), compared with a decline in the prior year.

Industrial production, which had fallen by just over 12 percent during the 1981-82 recession, increased steadily throughout the year. By yearend, the index had risen by more than 15 percent, with the biggest increases occurring
among durable goods manufacturers.

Concomitant with the improvements in production and spending came sharp gains in employment and reductions in unemployment . While comparatively stagnant in the first quarter of 1983, total civilian employment grew rapidly during the remaining quarters and posted an overall increase of 3.9 million between the 1981-82 recession trough of November 1982 and December 1983. Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 2.9 million over the same period.

The two go on to explore the details in depth. The disconnect between a quarter-century ago and what American working stiffs now face is readily apparent. Ignoring for the moment all those long-standing issues underlying this and other recent U.S. economic crises – stagnant wages, off-shored jobs, a tax code favoring upward transfers of wealth, corporate concentration, and profound conflicts of interest by high government officials, to name a few – today’s counterparts of the consumers who drove previous recoveries live in a different world.

They are heavily indebted and 5.6 million of them have already been out of work longer than the duration of the entire 1981-82 recession. Good news in productivity improvements, vastly reduced layoffs, unexpected improvements in automobile sales and the first GDP expansion in four quarters are tempered by the fact we’re moving upward off very low bottoms, and by bad news like increased bankruptcies, dramatic increases in foreclosures in previously stable cities, and the coming tsunami of lay-offs caused by state budget crashes. Moreover, that touted engine of job growth, small businesses, are having a devil of a time getting the loans they need from the banks the taxpayers bailed out.

Sometime, most likely late in the first quarter of 2010, but possibly sooner, net positive job growth will return. But without further government stimulus – a most difficult sell in Congress these days – the speed with which we get back to where we were two years ago is likely to be torpid. The disconnect between the GDP recovery and the job recovery could expand even more.

To some people that kind of talk bespeaks unwarranted gloom and doom on a day that should be devoted solely to cheers because the job loss numbers are at a 14-month low. To others it’s the view without rose-colored glasses. Only time will tell whose perception turns out to be more accurate.

John Cole: Same Old Same Old

I just heard some former administration official (Bush era, I am assuming, since he wore a bow tie, and using the Tucker Carlson/George Will theorem, the surest sign that someone is both an asshole and about to start spewing bullshit, but who knows for sure) on CNN state that more stimulus money needs to be spent on road construction and infrastructure, because Rahm Emmanuel has spent the money on the Department of Education to achieve a political goal.

Anyone want to count the number of ways that statement is bullshit? We could start with the fact that Rahm Emmanuel had not one vote on the stimulus bill. We could also note that infrastructure spending was toned down by, guess who? We could also note that education spending on teachers is a good thing, because states not laying off teachers keeps people working. And on and on and on. Add your own.

The anchoress at CNN, of course, said nothing.

Another day with our failed media experiment.


We talked earlier about the central division among Democratic policymakers in D.C. -- whether to pursue an ambitious agenda or slam on the brakes. Matt Yglesias and Steve M. disagreed, at least in part, with my take on this, so I thought I'd flesh this out a little more.

Reading over the various reports, and reviewing the Democratic handwringing, there are effectively three competing contingents:

* Go Big: These are Dems who want to generate excitement within the party's base, and run in 2010 on a lengthy record of accomplishments. They envision a scenario in which Dems can pass health care reform, a climate change bill, financial reform, an education bill, immigration reform, and a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" before the end of next year. It's ambitious, but doable, and would prove that Dems know how to get things done.

* Go Home: These are center-right Dems, generally from "red" states and districts, who believe every one of the votes the Go Big crowd wants is like a nail in the proverbial coffin. They'll drive "independents" away; reinforce negative stereotypes of the party; and motivate the right wing. It's better to scale back, the Go Home contingent believes, slam on the brakes, and focus on issues like deficit reduction.

* Take A Detour: These Dems don't want to crawl into a hole, but they say it's time to reshuffle the party's priorities. The wish list can remain long, just so long as Democrats limit their ambitions, keep issues like the economy on top, and relegate issues like DADT repeal to the bottom. If Dems focus on job creation, the elections will take care of themselves.

Go Big strikes me as the smart course, but I'm not unsympathetic to the Take A Detour crowd. The problem is the specificity of this group's agenda -- the same congressional Democrats who want the party to "focus like a laser" on job creation and economic growth aren't prepared to show any real follow-through.

In other words, center-right Dems are looking for an excuse to avoid Going Big, and their talk about focusing solely on the economy is just that: talk.

Atrios explained:

While a Congress in which one party theoretically has 60 votes in the Senate can probably walk and chew gum at the same time, it would be nice to know just what focusing on jobs and the economy would mean. For me it would mean direct aid to state and local governments and a massive public works project. To Evan Bayh it might mean cutting the corporate tax rate, or maybe it means nothing at all, but at least he could... propose that!

Right. Bayh and others who are encouraging the party to scale back its ambitions aren't really proposing much of anything. They don't want another stimulus; they don't want more aid to states; they don't want more deficits; they don't want more spending; and they don't even want a climate bill that would create jobs in the energy sector.

These Dems talk about job creation as their top priority, but then fall silent when the inevitable question comes: "OK, how do you propose we create more jobs?"

Matt concluded:

Setting aside elements of the progressive wish list in order to focus on improving the labor market is a reasonable idea. But this crowd doesn't have any actual ideas for doing that. It seems to me that there's good reason to think that resolving uncertainty about the future direction of American energy policy and immigration policy would, in fact, help spur economic growth. But I'd also be amendable to having congress take up additional stimulus legislation as a way to spur economic growth. Or maybe they could do tax reform. But as best one can tell Tanner & Bayh & Lincoln don't want to do any of those things or anything else. It's sad.

It is, indeed.

Krugman: Obama and the conventional wisdom

Andrew Leonard asks when I’m going to “blow my top” over Obama’s statement that now is the time to “get serious” about reducing debt. Um, never?

Look, it has been obvious since the primary, if you were paying attention, that Obama — who has many excellent qualities — has an unfortunate tendency to echo “centrist” conventional wisdom, even when that CW is demonstrably wrong. Remember when he bought into the line that Social Security is in crisis, stepping on one of the biggest progressive victories in decades?

And right now, deficit-phobia has quickly congealed into the latest CW. You can see it in editorials (not from the Times, I’m happy to say, but almost everywhere else), in what the talking heads say, even in supposedly objective news reporting. Not a day goes by without my reading some assertion that “markets are anxious/jittery/worried about the deficit” — an assertion based on no evidence whatsoever. (Long-term interest rates on US debt are near historic lows; CDS spreads show no concern about default.)

And Obama, being who he is, apparently feels compelled to give at least rhetorical obeisance to the CW. We can only hope that his economists, who know better, can convince him not to act on it.

Reich: How Obama Can Convince Congress to Enact a Larger Stimulus, and Why He Must

The Administration's biggest economic mistake so far was to badly underestimate last January how bad the employment situation would become by Fall. As a result, it low-balled the stimulus -- settling for a plan that, while avoiding even worse job losses, didn't go nearly far enough.

Obama has to return to Congress, seeking a larger stimulus.

Yes, I know. We're already in the gravitational pull of the midterm elections (look at the bizarre attention given to gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and even to a congressional election in the 23rd district of New York, as supposed harbingers of voter behavior a year from now!) so it will be even harder to round up the needed votes from Blue Dog Dems fretting over the deficit. And you can forget the Republicans.

And yes, I know: Only about half the current stimulus has been spent, so it will be awkward to make the case that we need a larger one.

But here's the problem. Everything else on the table -- a new jobs tax credit, more loans to small businesses, more help to troubled homeowners, another extension of unemployment insurance, another round of subsidies to first-time home buyers -- are small potatoes relative to the importance and likely effect of a larger stimulus. Some of these initiatives may do some good, but even combined they'll barely make a dent in the growing numbers of jobless Americans.

Meanwhile, the states are slicing their budgets, laying off workers, and ratcheting up taxes. That's because state tax revenues are falling off a cliff, and almost every state is barred by its constitution from running a deficit. That means the states are actively implementing an anti-stimulus plan.

Let's be clear about this. The national rate of unemployment will almost surely hit 10 percent; we'll know Friday whether it already has. This is more a psychological and political threshold than an economic one (it doesn't include everyone who's too discouraged to look for work, or working part time who'd rather be working full time, or working fewer hours in an ostensible full-time job, or otherwise fully employed but being paid less; the Bureau of Labor Statistics' payroll survey, also due Friday, provides a more accurate picture). But it nonetheless represents a degree of hardship this country hasn't seen in decades.

Public approval of Obama’s handling of the economy has slipped to 46 percent in an Oct. 30-Nov. 1 CNN poll, from 59 percent in March. Remember, Obama was elected in part because the public didn't have confidence in McCain's ability to manage the economy. In exit polls last November, almost two-thirds of voters listed the economy as the nation's top issue. If the job numbers don't start moving in the right direction, not only will Obama's poll ratings continue to drop but congressional Dems will all be in trouble.

That should be Obama's selling point to the Blue Dogs. He should tell them the economy needs a bigger stimulus in order to show improved job numbers by the mid-term elections. And he should make sure they understand that they're more politically endangered next November if the the job numbers aren't moving in the right direction by then than if they vote for a larger stimulus now.

Party Discipline

QOTD: Lilybart Says:
November 6th, 2009 at 5:49 AM

Michele Bachman is challenging Miss Wasilla for the title of Queen Teabagger and she is winning!!

Cantor Promises Tea Partiers: 'Not One' GOP Vote For Health Care November 5, 2009, 1:13PM

Greg Sargent:
* To Olympia Snowe, the more universal and affordable reform makes health care, the further out of the mainstream it really is.
* Joe Lieberman has privately schemed about a health care filibuster with GOP Senator Jon Kyl, Sam Stein reports. Sources tell me Lieberman will immediately face discipline from Democratic leaders. Kidding!
DavidNYC (DK): If We Punish Lieberman, We'll Lose the Vote He Isn't Giving Us
I swear, this is their logic now:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) is unlikely to face retribution if he votes to filibuster the Democratic health care bill, despite renewed calls from outraged liberals for party leaders to punish him by stripping him of his committee chairmanship.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) “needs his vote,” one senior Senate Democratic aide said. “It would be counterproductive.”
They've descended into parody: Reid can't punish Lieberman because he needs his vote, which he won't get. This is nonsensical, even by the baroque standards of the United States Senate. Here's some more nonsense:
“A great majority of the time, Sen. Lieberman votes with his caucus,” Manley said. “This may be one time they disagree.”
The one time, huh? What is it about the Senate that makes people descend into such pits of absurdity? At least one staffer tells the sad truth:
“If you’re not going to punish someone for endorsing the Republican candidate for president, when are you going to punish him?” another Senate Democratic aide asked. “I don’t even know if this is a punishable offense.”
Of course it's not. Probably the only thing that would constitute a punishable offense would be, as Jed suggested to me, threatening to filibuster a bill that did not contain a public option. Meanwhile, we need to keep Joe Lieberman in the fold so that he can depart from it whenever he pleases.
Sen. Olympia Snowe's (R-Maine) opinions on health care policy have taken on quite a bit of significance in recent months. That's a shame.
Today, for example, she was asked for her opinion on the House reform bill, which may get a vote in just 48 hours. "I do not know what world they live in," Snowe said, apparently in reference to House Democrats. "But all I know is it is totally detached from the average person, the average business owner who is struggling to keep their doors open and to have that level of taxation is breathtaking in its dimensions. I just think it is so out of proportion with reality and with mainstream America that it is hard to believe, frankly."
Perhaps Snowe went into more substantive detail -- explaining, for example, what she considers "mainstream" -- but I haven't seen additional reporting. She just seems to think the House bill is some kind of outrageous disaster.
It's possible Snowe just doesn't know what's in the House bill, because her assessment is wrong.
The health-care reform bills emerging from the House and Senate, when melded and enacted, will constitute an epochal achievement: the near-universal provision of medical care to the American people. But the House version is clearly the more epochal, as the health coverage it provides is more universal, chiefly because it's more affordable.
For families who buy their insurance on the exchanges that both bills establish, for instance, the House bill includes more generous subsidies -- on average, $1,000 more, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The House bill also offers a lot more assistance to Medicare recipients by reducing the cost of their prescriptions. While the bill that emerged from the Senate Finance Committee renews the Bush administration's mega-bucks gift to the drug companies by continuing to prohibit Medicare from negotiating drug prices with them, the House bill authorizes those negotiations. The Senate bill reduces by half the payments that Medicare recipients must make for prescription drugs that fall into the "doughnut hole" (annual drug expenses are covered up to $2,700, and coverage kicks in again at $6,100, but for all purchases in between, Medicarians are on their own). The House bill would cover all prescription purchases by 2019.
Jon Cohn said of the House bill, "The issue here is whether the House produced a fiscally sound bill that puts health insurance within reach of most Americans while starting to reform the system. And, based on everything we're hearing, it does.... Among the proposals on the table, it looks like the House version provides the most people with affordable access to medical care. It also pays for itself."
FamiliesUSA President Ron Pollack said the House bill "sets the gold standard for legislation that deserves to be adopted this year."
What world does Olympia Snowe live in?
Drum: Taking Governance Seriously
Congress passed something today. Hooray!
Congress gave final approval Thursday for an additional $24 billion to help the jobless and support the housing market as climbing unemployment poses a growing liability for elected officials.
The bill, passed overwhelmingly by the House and headed to President Obama for his signature Friday, extends unemployment nsurance benefits that were due to expire and renews an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, while also expanding it to cover many other home purchases.
And Democrats only had to break three separate filibusters in the Senate to get this passed! The first filibuster was broken by a vote of 87-13, the second by a vote of 85-2, and the third by a vote of 97-1. The fourth and final vote, the one to actually pass the bill, was 98-0. Elapsed time: five weeks for a bill that everyone ended up voting for.
Why? Because even though Republicans were allowed to tack on a tax cut to the bill as the price of getting it passed, they decided to filibuster anyway unless they were also allowed to include an anti-ACORN amendment. Seriously. A bit of ACORN blustering to satisfy the Palin-Beck crowd is the reason they held up a bill designed to help people who are out of work in the deepest recession since World War II. Details here and here. That's called taking governing seriously, my friends.
DougJ: If conservatism is formless like water….
Bobo on independents:
Independents are herds of cats who find out what they think through a meandering process of discovery. Right now, independent voters are astonishingly volatile. Democrats did poorly in elections on Tuesday partly because of disappointed liberals who think that President Obama is moving too slowly, but mostly because of anxious suburban independents who think he is moving too fast. In Pennsylvania, there was an eight-point swing away from the Democrats among independents from a year ago. In New Jersey, there was a 12-point swing. In Virginia, there was a 13-point swing.[....]
Independents support the party that seems most likely to establish a frame of stability and order, within which they can lead their lives. They can’t always articulate what they want, but they withdraw from any party that threatens turmoil and risk. As always, they’re looking for a safe pair of hands.
Nate Silver
Too often in “mainstream” political analysis, once it is pointed out that independents have swung in one or another direction, the analysis stops. The pundit inserts his own opinion about what caused the independent vote to shift (“Obama’s far-reaching proposals and mounting spending”, says the Washington Post), without citing any evidence. It’s a neat trick, and someone who isn’t paying attention is liable to conclude that the pundit has actually said something interesting.
But in New Jersey, there’s literally almost no evidence that the Democrats’ agenda had anything to do with Jon Corzine’s defeat. Voters who cited a national issue were more likely to vote for Corzine, and voters who cited a local one, the Republican Chris Christie.
The whole Bobo piece is a classic, from the jigsaw puzzle he played with as a kid to the “America moved to the right” meme. The Sulzbergers must be very proud of him.
Mudflats: Teabags’ Revenge – Beyond Satire.

This is not a joke….I repeat, this is not a joke. Not satire. No Steven Colbert popping in at the end. No Onion. No Andy Borowitz. And yet, I couldn’t watch it without laughing. All it needs at the end is the Capitol Building blowing up in a giant red fireball, and Bachmann, Palin and a Teabag guy with giant sunglasses and black boots walking shoulder to shoulder out of the flames.

My favorite part is when the guy with the three-cornered hat says in his painfully bad colonial accent “We’ll give them some stimulus!” Yeah, we got your stimulus right here, Buddy.

And “When you have government control over everything, you have tie-rannic behavior.” Yeah. Corporate control over everything is the way to go. No tie-rannic behavior there. Who needs all that oversight and regulation? It just gets in the way of global corporatism… the real freedom.

And they even manage to slip in one of those Obama as the Joker faces in the background.

Their website says: “The Tea Party movement of 2009 shocked the political establishment, the nation at large and left a big media machine dizzy in its wake. How did it happen? Where did it come from?” I hate to spoil the surprise, but the answer would be the national group Freedomworks, and a certain Dick Armey. Grass roots? Not so much.

Anyway, it’s coming to a dvd near you this Thanksgiving. (clearing my throat and trying to sound all baritone and ominous, like the guy on the trailer) Turkey Day…. it’s not just for Sarah Palin anymore.

Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, Cogresswoman Michele Bachmann urged supporters to confront members of congress with video cameras, in order to scare them into voting to kill the health care reform bill. “I think that will absolutely scare these members of Congress so much that Pelosi will not get the votes and it will kill the bill.” So, let me get this straight. This is a sitting member of congress, urging citizens to use methods of intimidation to “scare” other members of congress into changing their votes to suit her own ideological agenda for political gain.

But the pre-protest phone and fax bomb that was scheduled for yesterday fizzled, and yet Bachmann managed to get herself in front of the Fox News cameras who were more than happy to give her a platform for her wingnuttery.

That Michele Bachman…she’s sort of like Sarah Palin, only with an actual job.

Conservatives Complain About The Oppression Of White Men On The Bench.

Dave Weigel reports that the conservative Committee for Justice is complaining in the aftermath of the nomination of one Latino and one African-American to the federal bench, that President Obama's judicial nominees aren't diverse enough because there aren't enough southern white men among them.

Does President Obama or his advisors believe that southern white men are likely to be bigoted, making them unfit to serve on the second most powerful court in the land? We hope not and readily concede that it is difficult to know if any such stereotype lurks in the White House. The absence of southern white male circuit nominees could, instead, be an innocent coincidence or the not-so-innocent byproduct of a judicial selection process dominated by racial and gender preferences.

But regardless of the reason for the pattern we noted in 2007 and again now, even the appearance that Democrats are biased against southern white men is a potential problem for the party generally, and for President Obama’s goal of transcending old racial divisions.

Just to put this in perspective, a whopping 18% of judges on the federal bench are people of color. But in the eyes of this conservative group, assigning more white men to the federal bench "transcends racial divisions," and that doing otherwise reflects a selection process "dominated by racial and gender preferences." Conservatives regularly try to cast affirmative action as racially discriminatory, but rarely does someone openly admit that their only issue with the process is simply who is being discriminated against.

There's something to be said for considering diversity of life and professional experience in picking judges, but some conservatives often don't seem too concerned about such things unless -- as in this case -- they're making the argument on behalf of white men.

-- A. Serwer

No Pretense of Deniabiility

Conservatives march in Washington  Nov. 5: Rep. Michele Bachmann led about 4,000 protesters and other Republican leaders to participate in a "Superbowl of Freedom," to protest the House health reform bill.

Josh Marshall: Party On
Capitol Tea Party protestor Christi Becker on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): "She exudes truth. I completely trust her. I'm glad people are seeing that Michele Bachmann has backing and that so many people believe in her."
(Video of the arrests.)
See more scenes from the day in our Storming the Capitol/Capitol Tea Party Slideshow...
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Josh Marshall: The Tea Party Big Picture 
TPMDC's Evan McMorris-Santoro spent the day among the Tea Party crowd at the Capitol. And Christina Bellantoni filed this report on what the Tea Partiers are saying about 2010 based on interviews she conducted with the protestors. Both are great reads. And I'd suggest reading both of them.
In many ways, though, what struck me most about today was what happened at the podium.
This event began as a Tea Party event organized and galvanized by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the over-the-top, far-right congresswoman from Minnesota. As recently as Monday, the event was getting little more than polite, if tepid, endorsements from the Republican House leadership. We were on the organizational conference calls yesterday evening. And even then it was pretty much still her affair, with a mindset and affect to match.
But something funny happened at the event today. Virtually every marquee member of the GOP House caucus, including Boehner and Cantor, were there up on the platform speaking to the crowd. (See a highlight reel of the speeches here.) Bachmann was the start. But basically all of them were up there with her.
Early this morning The Politico got hold of a Republican Study Committee email asking staffers to send their members to the event but also to avoid words like "rally" and "protest" in favor of "press conference" or "press event". Clearly, there was an effort to sanitize the event and get away from Bachmann's high-strung rhetoric about a "last stand" against health care reform. So on the one hand the House Republicans wanted to take over the event. But they also felt the need to get out in front of it, to be in front of the crowd. It was a perfect, real-time illustration of the current struggle within the GOP, with the party establishment trying to harness but also control and not be overrun by the grassroots mobilization on the right.
But taking it all in, with Boehner up there saying health care reform was the biggest threat to freedom he'd ever seen, the Dachau signs, the arrests and the rest, it seemed more like the institutional GOP again being overwhelmed by its base, caving to them, joining them -- the phrasing doesn't really matter. This was Bachmann's event. They may have been worried even last month about her effect on the party's image. But she's leading; they're following.
Think Progress: G. Gordon Liddy’s producer claims around ‘a million’ attended the GOP’s anti-health care reform rally. 
After the 9/12 march on Washington, conservatives falsely claimed that over a million people attended, when in reality the closest thing to an official count — numbers given by the Washington DC Fire Department to — placed the crowd at “approximately 60,000 to 70,000 people.” Though today’s anti-health care reform rally has been much more sparsely attended, that hasn’t stopped conservatives from inflating the numbers again. On G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show today, producer Franklin Raff, who was on the ground at the rally, told guest host Joseph Farah that the crowd is “just as big or bigger than” the 9/12 rally, which Raff estimated “at about a million.” Listen here:

Capitol Hill police told NBC’s Luke Russert that the crowd was about 4,000. At around 2 PM eastern time, Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) posted an aerial picture of the crowd on her TwitPic page, clearly showing a crowd far, far smaller than “a million”:

Rep. Lynn Jenkins' (R-KS) TwitPic of rally crowd

Jon Stewart and the perfect Glenn Beck parody.   Glenn Beck, the leader of the teabag movement. 
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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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John Cole: You Just Can’t Handle the Truth
It has now been about 36 hours since the most definitive victory for conservatism ever, yet according to my sources, Obama is still President, the Senate still has 60 Democrats, and the House gained a Democrat.
I guess you have to live in the beltway or work for a cable network to truly understand election results.
 digby: Put It On A Bumper Sticker
So Andrea Mitchell again spent the morning spinning the election on Tuesday as a terrible defeat for the Democrats that puts their entire agenda in jeopardy. She even went so far as to ask Jim Clyburn:
Let me ask you about the election, though, because Nancy Pelosi was talking about this as a victory. How can you with a straight face, I've known you for along time, how can you call the NY 23rd a victory compared to losing New Jersey and Virginia?
Andrea Mitchell is a Stepford reporter. Here's what Pelosi said:
"From my perspective, we won last night. We had one race that we were engaged in -- it was in northern New York. It was a race where a Republican has held a seat since the Civil War, and we won that seat. So from our standpoint, no. We had a candidate that was victorious who supports the health-care reform... So from our standpoint, we picked up votes last night, one in California [CA-10] and one in New York."
The last I heard, Pelosi is the Speaker of the House, not the Chair of the Democratic Governors Association. As Clyburn patiently pointed out, she got another vote for health care and a more liberal member in John Garamendi. And this is on top of another off-year seat she retained earlier with Scott Murphy's victory. All three of those seats could have theoretically gone to Republicans and they didn't. (Even the California seat was the one held by DLC darling Ellen Tauscher --- who was replaced by someone far more liberal.) So she's actually three for three in the off year elections, all of whom ran on health care reform. But I guess that's actually a losing record for Pelosi.

The fatuous gasbags have settled on the theme that the Democrats suffered a devastating setback to their agenda on Tuesday. This is despite the fact that as Clyburn pointed out, the only candidates who were actually running on the national agenda were those running for congress --- and the Democrats won. Nonetheless, the election has been decreed to be a precursor to a Democratic rout in 2010 and, more importantly, the reason for that will be because the Democrats have been far, far too liberal for the country. As usual.

I believe this is because they truly think these teabaggers represent a deep discontent with liberalism among all Real Americans. (They are, after all, white, middle aged folks dressed in red, white and blue, waving flags all around. Just like in Mayberry in 1955. ) They cannot shake the idea that these right wing nutballs represent the silent majority. Therefore, it simply isn't possible that the Democrats could be winning and losing on issues unrelated to these particular people's far out, radical ideology. They may think they're weird, but they have actually been persuaded that it's because of their liberal bias that they think that.

The idea that Jon Corzine could lose because he's presided over a great recession and springs from the gilded plutonomy that's widely believed to have precipitated it is unfathomable to them. It simply must be because Barack Obama is too liberal. It's impossible for them to believe that Virginia is a true swing state that has no real ideological center and so elects its leadership on the basis of individual issues and personal appeal. It has to be because the Democrats in congress have pushed the country too far to the left. It is the only plot line they know. (And they have been very successfully mau-maued by Roger Ailes and co. into second guessing themselves if they dream of deviating from that path.)
Mitchell went on to laugh and laugh with her colleague Savannah Guthrie over the absolutely ludicrous administration talking point that yesterday wasn't a total defeat for their agenda.
Guthrie: And every perception I have is that they really believe it! They think that these governors races are off year elections and yes, they lost independents and that has got to be troubling to them, but they say "by the time you get to these off year elections, these are folks that who come out are independents that lean Republican. The independents that lean Democrat by a large margin have become Democrats." So they have an answer for every argument you give and they're really not buying into the premise that they're in trouble here because of the Governor's races.
(laughing again) They really love to talk about NY 23 though, Andrea, because ...
Mitchell: NY 23!
Guthrie (still laughing): Yeah, NY 23 all the way.... because the Democrat won a seat long held by Republicans.
Mitchell: We should bumper sticker it. They probably already are...
This, in case you hadn't noticed, was on the allegedly liberal cable network's primary daytime news . Oddly enough (or not) it's not all that different from what's being said on Fox. Funny how that works.