Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Children and Adults

NYT Editorial:
... the health care victory shows that big goals can be achieved — with Mr. Obama’s personal intervention and sustained leadership.

With rare exceptions, the Republicans are not going to help. Anyone who thinks otherwise should consider what Senator John McCain of Arizona said on Monday: “There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year.”

As shocking as that is from a man who more than once presented himself as a candidate for president, it sums up the political reality that Mr. Obama faces. Still, he should be able to sell the public at the very least on creating jobs and restraining a rapacious financial industry. The nation’s well-being depends on it.

Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) told the media on Monday about his outrage over the Democratic majority voting to approve legislation they support. He announced that, going forward, he would tell Dems to stay off his lawn refuse to cooperate in the Senate's legislative process. To punish Democrats for fulfilling their campaign promise to the nation, McCain said, "There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year."

We saw the manifestation of this pettiness yesterday, when Republicans used an obscure rule to block any Senate hearings from continuing after 2 p.m. Amanda Terkel reports on the developments that are almost too juvenile to believe.

Today, during a Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing on transparency, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) announced that he had to stop the proceedings because of Republican blocks. [...]

ThinkProgress spoke to a Homeland Committee staffer who said that the committee's work would be significantly disrupted if Republicans refuse to give unanimous consent throughout the week. The AP also reported today that Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) had a hearing on the bark beetle canceled today "after Republicans angry over the passage of health insurance reform legislation blocked it by using an obscure Senate rule requiring a unanimous consent to hold hearings scheduled after 2 p.m."

Democratic staffers on the Hill told ThinkProgress that they anticipate Republicans will not only continue blocking hearings for the rest of the week, but also delay or block all sorts of minor, routine measures.

The country has not seen a congressional minority this pathetic in a very long time. Republicans are effectively shutting down the Senate because a supermajority of the chamber approved legislation the GOP didn't like.

Kevin added, "To call this behavior childish would be an insult to children everywhere. Are we really expected to take a party like this seriously?"

For its part, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) office noted in a statement, "The bottom line is that as millions of Americans are learning about the immediate benefits of health reform, Republicans are throwing a temper tantrum and grinding important Senate business to a halt."

Marshall: No Boehner's For You!

Having given up the fight to save America from medical socialism, Senate Republicans have opted instead to the final round into a new full-employment act for political ad makers. To finalize the reconciliation bill, Dems have to pass it through the process with zero amendments. With no real chance to stop anything Senate Republicans have decided to come up with the most preposterous amendments possible and then pocket the Dems' no votes for the 30 second political ads this fall. Our favorite so far? Sen. Coburn's amendment to ban health care exchanges from providing Viagra to sex offenders. Brian Beutler has the story.

Marshall: Shut Up & Bring It

As I noted over the weekend, the Republicans were just constantly trying to help Democrats out, warning them how bad it would be for them if they passed Reform. Clearly, the Democrats didn't take that good advice and passed it anyway. Monday morning, they were back at it telling Dems it's just going to be downright awful for them in November.

But now the bill's signed. It's law. It's over. And they're still saying how bad it'll be. But, enough. Eventually you've to stop with the sizzle and deliver the steak -- unless how bad Reform is for the Democrats is now actually the Republican campaign platform.

As I've said countless times, I don't doubt this is going to be a rough election for the Dems. I know Reform could cost them their majorities (though I think unemployment is the much bigger factor). We all get that. But it's time for Republicans to stop saying how bad it's going to be and just go out and do it.

Make the arguments on substance. Not about how the bill filing wasn't filled out with a No. 2 pencil or whatever other nonsense. They may not realize this: but the Republicans can't run on how bad Reform is going to be for the Dems politically. That's very meta, to put it mildly. You can't be so transparently cynical with your riffs that they don't even make sense on their own terms. They need to run on repeal. So, enough. The terms of the 2010 election are set. Stop puffing and threatening, shut up and bring it on.


A few weeks ago, some on the right thought they'd found a big new scandal. President Obama nominated Scott Matheson -- law school dean, former Harvard professor, Rhodes scholar, respected attorney, and accomplished federal prosecutor -- to serve on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. For conservatives, the nomination was an attempted bribe of sorts -- Scott Matheson's brother, Jim, is a Utah congressman who was weighing whether to vote for health care reform. The right, as it's prone to do, saw a conspiracy.

Except there wasn't one, as even Republican officials quickly conceded. The whole story was nonsense, and most of the right moved on.

Some didn't get the memo. (thanks to reader G.S.)

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., claimed on Fox News [yesterday] morning that Rep. Jim Matheson switched his position to support health care after the congressman's brother was named to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"In Utah, a member from Utah that voted on the bill, he was against it and then he was for it. What a coincidence that his brother just got named to be a federal judge," Barrasso told Fox's Greta Van Susteren.

First, for a senator to allege a conspiracy of this sort on national television with no proof is truly ridiculous.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, Jim Matheson voted against the health care reform bill. Barrasso, hoping to paint a picture of corruption, said the Democrat "was against it and then he was for it." But if Barrasso had bothered to check before attacking a lawmaker's integrity in front of a national audience, he would have seen that the Democrats voted against reform in November and in March.

A Barrasso spokesperson said late yesterday that the senator "misspoke." If "misspoke" means "falsely accused a member of Congress of accepting a bribe," then sure, Barrasso "misspoke."

Granted, the far-right senator isn't the only one who keeps pushing this unusually stupid conspiracy theory, but Fox News personalities and sitting U.S. senators are held to different standards.

The need for the Republican caucus to clean up its act is becoming overwhelming.

Sargent: SEIU Ad Blasts GOPers, Supports Dems

The post-reform-passage airwars are in full swing: The SEIU goes up in the districts of a half dozen vulnerable Dems with a new spot blasting Republicans for standing with the insurance companies and thanking Dems for showing the fortitude to stand with their constituents.

The ad, in keeping with the White House and Dem strategy, strongly emphasizes the immediate impact the bill will have on Americans:

The ad will run in the districts of Tom Perriello, Dina Titus, Betsy Markey, John Boccieri, Kathy Dahlkemper, and Earl Pomeroy.

“While Republicans in Washington stand with insurance companies and Wall Street, Congresswoman Tom Perriello is on our side,” runs the version in Perriello’s district.

“So now, you can’t be denied or lose coverage because you’re sick and families and small businesses will be able afford the health care they need,” it continues.

It’s worth noting that reform proponents are out of the gate much quicker than the opposition with efforts like these to frame the debate going forward — another sign of how much the bill’s passage has energized the left and changed the political equation.

Bellantoni (TPM): From Pelosi Pinatas To Fiery Flames -- GOP Targets Speaker As Public Enemy No. 1

She's been dubbed the most powerful speaker in a century, and was singled out by President Obama as being a critical force for passing a sweeping health care reform overhaul. But for the Republicans, she equals fundraising gold -- a San Francisco liberal who fires up the base and creates an endless supply of photo fodder.

GOP pollsters find that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is one of the most recognized Congressional leaders in decades. That's one reason the term "PelosiCare" has found its way into Republican mailers and television ads, and GOP sources tell us that will keep up in the coming months.

The current TPM Poll Average of the speaker's popularity shows Pelosi with 47.3 percent unfavorability and a favorability rating of 24.6 percent.

"The voters cannot fire Barack Obama in November but they can fire Nancy Pelosi," said Wes Anderson, a GOP pollster who contracts with the Republican National Committee. "The only other person voters are as concerned about is President Obama. They find she shares his ideology but not his charm."

Anderson told me in an interview Tuesday night that Republicans won't let up on Pelosi attacks because of her high name recognition They also see a window for them because she is highly unpopular among independent voters.

But for all the right-wing ire targeting Pelosi, our PollTracker shows she is more popular than the Republican Minority Leaders in the House and Senate.

The current TPM Poll Average of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's popularity shows McConnell (R-KY) with 62.9 percent unfavorability and a favorability rating of 20.9 percent.

The current TPM Poll Average of House Minority Leader John Boehner's popularity shows Boehner (R-OH) with 62.3 percent unfavorability and a favorability rating of 19.8 percent.

Pelosi, on the other hand, has a wide fan base being the first female speaker in history. What's more is the GOP has attempted to demonize Pelosi for the last two election cycles to little benefit.

Republicans told me for this piece they think it will be more successful this year in part because they lost others they used to hold up as "scary liberals" the GOP should be aiming to replace. They say Pelosi has filled a vacuum -- Hillary Clinton had been their prime foil since the 1990s, but when she and Obama sparred during the long and bloody primary, many Republicans shifted to portraying her as a hero fighting for the middle class. Sen. Ted Kennedy held a spot as the top conservative boogeyman for decades but the GOP stopped using image following his illness and then death last summer.

The Democrats have their own favorites who help them raise money, one reason you see Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh's name pop up so frequently in their campaigns.

Both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill told me they think the Pelosi attacks have been substantially higher and more personal than what the GOP has done in recent years. The Republicans admit that but defend their choices as one way they can try and win back the majority.

Among the greatest hits from the last year:

At the Conservative Political Action Committee, one of the after-parties featured a Pelosi pinata as the entertainment.

An internal RNC fundraising document obtained by Politico compared Pelosi to Cruella de Vil. The RNC also linked her image with "Pussy Galore" in a James Bond-style video targeting her comments about the CIA.

At the Capitol tea party last November, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) told a screaming crowd, "Fellow patriots, go tell your Congressman, you're not going to eat this rotten stinking fish that is -- Pelosi health care!" Last fall, a tea party group in central Virginia scrapped plans to burn Pelosi in effigy outside Rep. Tom Perriello's (D-VA) office after getting criticism that it was too much.

And as we've taken a look at in recent days, the new Republican National Committee campaign is to "Fire Pelosi," and the Web site aimed at fundraising to that cause depicts her in front of a background of flames. The RNC had raised nearly $1.3 million for the effort as of this writing, beating the RNC's declared goal of $400,000 in 40 hours. Chairman Michael Steele said on CBS News yesterday that he'd actually ordered the campaign "tamed down" from its original form.

To go with the fundraising drive, the RNC released this week a Web video called "Celebration," with an ominous narrator declaring that "Democrats are celebrating because Nancy Pelosi says 'this is only the beginning' [and] that Democrats will take the country in a new direction." It closes with, "It's time to fire Nancy Pelosi. Now that's a cause worth celebrating."

NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) asked supporters to "Send Pelosi a Message" and said in an email fundraising drive that "Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat puppets have no intention of listening to the American people." The short email mentions her name 7 times, and closes with, "Your support is critical to ending Pelosi's reign as Speaker. Democrats made their choice."

Democrats don't want to raise this publicly, but privately say they find the attacks -- and multiple unflattering images -- to be misogynistic. They've told us on background that they believe Republicans are approaching dangerous ground by attacking the first black president, first female speaker and first Hispanic Supreme Court justice in "vicious, outrageous ways."

Pelosi's office pointed us to her remarks to Diane Sawyer (below) this week, dismissing the attacks as fruitless.

Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan said the "demonization and personal attacks" on Pelosi are another example of GOP fear-mongering.

"We've seen it take the form of false smears about impending 'death panels,' outright lies about 'government takeovers' and screams of 'baby killer' from the floor of the US House of Representatives," Sevugan said. "What should be scary for Republicans is that with the help of Speaker Pelosi's determined leadership Democrats are getting things done for American families, while the GOP has to explain to the American people why they want to undo all that including why they want to impose the largest health care tax hike in American history on middle class families and small businesses."

The GOP pollster Anderson said it is "shocking" that 40 percent of voters have formed hard opinions of Pelosi, and said no speaker of the House has ever come to close the name recognition she enjoys. Newt Gingrich became a household name after becoming speaker, but when the Republicans won back control of Congress in 1994, polls showed most Americans didn't know who he was, Anderson said.

I asked him about Democrats charging misogyny and he said female voters are among those who don't like Pelosi. "It's not gender driven. If that's the case, how can you explain that she's so badly upside down with American voters," he said.

Pelosi dismissed being a target outright in an interview on ABC's World News Tonight this week. Watch:

Meanwhile, progressives are pushing an online campaign to send 3 roses for $10 to the speaker's office this week in honor of Pelosi's 70th birthday on Friday. They claim they are up to nearly 1,000 roses ordered.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is getting plenty of heat as well, despite not being as known. The Tea Party Express has a major protest planned for his hometown in Searchlight, Nevada this weekend.


Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) apparently has a viable plan to stay a Republican superstar: be as ridiculous as possible.

Is Rachel Maddow gunning for Scott Brown's Senate seat? The Massachusetts Republican thinks she is. In a fundraising email sent out Tuesday afternoon, he says the state's Democratic Party is trying to get the MSNBC host to challenge him for his newly acquired Senate seat.

"It's only been a couple of months since I've been in office, and before I've even settled into my new job, the political machine in Massachusetts is looking for someone to run against me," Brown writes. "And you're not going to believe who they are supposedly trying to recruit -- liberal MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow."

Said Brown in a fundraising email: "I'm sure [Maddow's] a nice person -- I just don't think America can afford her liberal politics."

Now, I realize that politicians and various political entities take certain, shall we say, liberties when writing fundraising letters. But making up imaginary rivals is usually the work of desperate fringe groups, not sitting United States senators.

For her part, Rachel addressed the subject in a very amusing segment last night.

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

If you can't watch clips from your work computer, here's the bottom line: Rachel said, "I have the best job in the world. I'm not running for office. I never said I would run for office. Nobody's asked me to run for office."

On a related note, the conservative Boston Herald has a report today, suggesting the Brown fad is quickly coming to an end. Bill Whalen, a former Republican operative and research fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, compared the GOP senator to Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling both a "political novelty."


On Sunday, during a surprisingly rousing speech, Rep. Bart Stupak, the pro-life Michigan Democrat, was interrupted by a Republican lawmaker who shouted, "Baby killer!" We learned the next day that Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) of Texas was responsible for the ugly outburst.

When he fessed up, Neugebauer tried to sound contrite, expressing "deep regret," and apologizing to Stupak. "The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate," the far-right Republican said in a statement.

That was Monday. By Tuesday, Neugebauer decided his misconduct might be lucrative.

One day after admitting he yelled "baby-killer" during Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak's speech before Sunday evening's health care vote, Texas Republican Randy Neugebauer has posted a fundraising video on his campaign web site citing the incident.

"Not only did we see the government take over of your health care, but we saw the lives of unborn children used as a bargaining chip to somehow get the needed votes to pass this legislation," the three-term congressman says in the video, where he's joined by his wife, Dana. Neugebauer also sent a note about the incident, which is posted along with the video on the conservative Red State blog.

So much for "deep regret" and "inappropriate."

I suppose this was predictable. When Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) heckled the president during a speech to a joint session of Congress lasst year, he was initially contrite, too. But his remorse quickly disappeared when Wilson realized he could parlay the controversy into becoming a right-wing cause celebre. It wasn't long before unhinged donors were throwing money at the South Carolinian.

It no doubt occurred to Neugebauer, "Hey, maybe I can be a right-wing cause celebre, too!"

It creates a bizarre dynamic -- GOP extremists now have an incentive to be as boorish as possible, in order to receive rewards from a radical base. Why be an obscure back-bencher in a small caucus when you can act like an idiot and become a Republican star?

"House Republicans continue to reach new lows as they engage in shameless and dishonest fearmongering," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Ryan Rudominer. "There is no line they won't cross if they think it will appeal to right wing extremists."

While Republican lawmakers tend to struggle in some areas (substance, honesty, integrity, seriousness of purpose, decency), they are not without strengths. As a rule, their most impressive quality is message discipline.

The GOP Powers That Be will decide what party officials and their allies are supposed to say, and Republicans tend to follow the marching orders extremely well. The GOP shapes much of the discourse simply by getting its members to all say the exact same thing, over and over again.

At the same time, however, when Republicans are struggling, it's obvious -- they start muddling their message. Take the health care "repeal" push, for example.

"We will work in every way to repeal this legislation and start over," said House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence, of Indiana.

Moments later, however, Pence said the House GOP was in favor of "repealing and replacing Obamacare with an approach that gives Americans more choices instead of more government."

"There are small elements of the legislation that's moving forward that Republicans have always supported," he said.

Got that? The whole package has to go -- except for those good parts. Which provisions of the new law to Republicans like and plan to keep? They'll have to get back to us on that.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) wants to repeal the whole thing, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is only interested in repealing the "egregious parts." Reps. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) demand a full repeal, while National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R-Tex.) wants to leave the "non-controversial stuff" alone.

Mitt Romney wants to scrap the whole package, while Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) declared, "We always said there are things that we can all agree on in the bill."

Rep. Phil Gringrey (R-Ga.) "does not want" to repeal the whole thing, and Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) see partial repeal as more realistic than the full repeal some of their GOP colleagues are pushing.

Republicans, in other words, are already finding themselves stuck in the repeal trap we've been talking about for months. Party leaders continue to characterize the new law as "Armageddon," but are grudgingly coming believe some parts of Armageddon may not be that bad after all.

Democrats are not only thrilled, they're seizing on Republicans' discomfort. The DSCC has even set up a "new feature designed to make it easier to track who's called for repeal and who hasn't."

It took a while, but the trap has been set. Republicans can either infuriate their base (which has been misled about health care from the start), or they can alienate the mainstream electorate.

John Cole: Take Your Wingnuts to Washington

Great work by Steve over at No More Mister Nice Blog on the wingnuts currently throwing bricks through windows and generally attempting to create a climate of fear and intimidation. It really is as simple as Rachel says in the video over there- what they could not achieve in the ballot box they are attempting to achieve through violence and intimidation.

The next plan for these clowns is to march on Washington on 19 April (the anniversary of Waco and the Oklahoma City bombing) with their guns to… well, you know why they are doing it, because you have a working brain. No doubt, however, it is time for another thought piece at Reason on the myth of right wing violence (prefaced, as always with “Other than Oklahoma city, the abortion murders, the Atlanta Olympics… what have the Romans done for us?”). Because remember- it is just a coincidence that gun nuts, militia movements, and angry mobs are on the rise. It has nothing to do with the fact that Clinton Obama is President and Republicans are whipping people into a froth on a daily basis.

It is just an extra special bet of deliciousness that the person behind all this is on Social Security disability.

*** Update ***

The Wasilla Wingnut tells her supporters to “reload,” then provides a map with rifle scopes over the names of legislators who voted for #HCR.

But don’t worry- glibertarians say this is normal.

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