Monday, April 5, 2010

RW CalvinBall

QOTD, Bernard Gilroy:
All I know is this: the very -instant- Sen. Ensign is indicted, Fox will report it as "Sen. John Ensign (D)".
Atrios: The Big Gavel Drives Them Crazy
Some jokes are just too obvious...
Media Matters: Right-wing media complain that Pelosi incited tea partiers with her "big gavel"
Right-wing media figures have criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for carrying a gavel while walking to the Capitol to vote on health care reform, claiming she sought to incite Tea Party members protesting the legislation. Glenn Beck said Pelosi was "inciting" the tea partiers and "slapping them across the face," and Rush Limbaugh said Pelosi tried to "provoke" tea partiers by "carrying that big gavel" with an "excrement-eating grin on her face."
go to the link for actual quotes.
There are no vacancies on the Supreme Court as of now, but Justice John Paul Stevens has signaled his intention to step down sometime in the not-too-distant future. With this in mind, there was some discussion over the weekend about the kind of confirmation battle we can expect to see.

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, the Senate's #2 Republican, told "Fox News Sunday" that a GOP filibuster remains a distinct possibility.

"It would -- it will all depend on what kind of a person it is.... I think the president will nominate a qualified person. I hope, however, he does not nominate an overly ideological person. That will be the test."

This isn't too surprising. Let's not forget that Kyl, literally just a few days after the 2008 presidential election, started talking about blocking Supreme Court nominees he expected not to like.

Nevertheless, Kyl's remarks are interesting for a couple of reasons. First, his understated threat is a sign of the times -- a Republican Senate leader is speculating on national television about filibustering a nominee who hasn't been named, in response to a Supreme Court vacancy that doesn't exist.

Second, as Amanda Terkel noted, Kyl used to reject the very idea of filibustering judicial nominees -- back when there was a Republican president. "It has never been the rule that a candidate for judgeship that had majority support was denied the ability to be confirmed once before the Senate," Kyl insisted on "Meet the Press" five years ago this month.

Indeed, Kyl was one of the conservative Republicans who supported the "nuclear option" in 2005.

That, however, was then.

Think Progress: As Republicans Block Unemployment Insurance, Kyl Calls For Extending The Benefits

Today on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) called for extending unemployment insurance — which is set to run out tomorrow for many Americans — to help the millions of Americans who are out of work:

CHRIS WALLACE: Senator Kyl, will Republicans support more economic stimulus such as more aid to states, extending unemployment benefits, more tax incentives for small business?

KYL: There are really two questions inherent in that, Chris. We will have to do things like extending unemployment benefits because unemployment is so high, 9.7 percent, 15 million Americans unemployed. But that’s not a job stimulator. So we will do those things to take care of the families that are suffering right now.

Watch it:

The reason that so many Americans will lose their benefits tomorrow is because of GOP obstruction. Late last month, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) announced that he was blocking unanimous consent to move forward on a measure in the Senate to extend unemployment benefits — similar to what Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) did weeks prior. However, this time, other Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), are backing Coburn’s obstruction.

Additionally, last month, Kyl said that unemployment benefits dissuade people from job-hunting “because people are being paid even though they’re not working.” “[C]ontinuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work,” Kyl said.

Senators are on recess until April 12, meaning people losing their benefits tomorrow will have to go without relief for at least a week. “I understand that Republicans are upset they didn’t get their way on health care,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, chiding the GOP’s obstruction. And on Friday Reid called on the GOP to stop blocking the benefits. “[T]heir obstruction endangers the economic certainty of millions of families,” he said.


First, do no harm, check their voter registration.

A doctor who considers the national health-care overhaul to be bad medicine for the country posted a sign on his office door telling patients who voted for President Barack Obama to seek care "elsewhere."

"I'm not turning anybody away -- that would be unethical," Dr. Jack Cassell, 56, a Mount Dora urologist and a registered Republican opposed to the health plan, told the Orlando Sentinel on Thursday. "But if they read the sign and turn the other way, so be it."

The sign reads: "If you voted for Obama…seek urologic care elsewhere. Changes to your healthcare begin right now, not in four years."

I'm not expert in medical ethics, but a practicing physician encouraging patients in need of care to go elsewhere based on their voting practices seems like anti-Obama hysteria gone horribly awry. Cassell has professional obligations that are supposed to supersede his bizarre Republican ideology.

Cassell claims he doesn't specifically press patients on their voting behavior, but in addition to the sign on the door, he prints out Republican talking points, and makes them available in his waiting room. He also refers to U.S. leaders as "morons" and urges patients to vote against policymakers Cassell disapproves of. He won't deny care to patients, but Cassell explicitly tells the public that he doesn't want to treat patients who support the president.

William Allen, professor of bioethics, law and medical professionalism at the University of Florida's College of Medicine, said Cassell is "pushing the limit" on what's ethically permitted by a practicing physician.


Republicans in D.C. and Tennessee were "giddy" about recruiting Stephen Fincher to run against Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) in the midterms. Fincher, a 37-year-old farmer, never went to college, but he's a blue-eyed charmer with a knack for raising lots of money.

He's also been the recipient of generous sums of money from the federal government.

But for one important detail, Stephen Fincher could be a perfect "tea party" candidate: a gospel-singing cotton farmer from this tiny hamlet in western Tennessee, seeking to right the listing ship of Washington with a commitment to lower taxes and smaller government.

The detail? Fincher accepts roughly $200,000 in farm subsidies each year.

While some right-wing activists see this as problematic, many Tea Party activists have pledged their support for Fincher's campaign. David Nance, the founder of the Gibson County Patriots, said, "I don't see the agricultural subsidy thing as an issue at all."

No, of course not. Why would it be problematic for a right-wing candidate who rails against government spending and welfare to receive $200,000 in checks from the federal government in the form of agriculture subsidies?

For the right-wing crowd, subsidies for 32 million Americans with no health insurance is outrageous, but subsidies for conservative farmers is not an issue "at all."

It seems as if stories like these are surprisingly common. Tom Grimes is active with Tea Party politics because he wants the government to spend less and get rid of public programs, but he loves Social Security, and when he lost his job, one of his first steps was contacting his congressman about available programs that might give him access to government health care

Diana Reimer, considered a "star" right-wing activist in her efforts against government programs, hates the Affordable Care Act, but she loves the socialized medicine that comes with Medicare.

Mike Vanderboegh considers himself a hard-line libertarian, but his main income is taxpayer-financed disability checks sent to him every month by the federal government.

And in Tennessee, Tea Party activists want leaders who'll take a stand against federal government spending, and are rallying behind a congressional candidate who gets $200,000 in checks from the federal government.

Greg Sargent: Tea Party Movement Is Politically Mainstream? Not So Much.

In recent days there’s been a big push underway on the right to define the Tea Party momement as politically “mainstream” and “bipartisan.” But new Gallup polling out this morning should demolish this claim once and for all. It should, but of course it won’t.

Folks pushing the idea that the Tea Party is mainstream and bipartisan are seizing on this headline from The Hill over the weekend:

Survey: Four in 10 Tea Party members are Dems or independents

Turns out, though, that this story is about a poll released last week by a Republican-leaning firm that found 57% of Tea Partiers are self-identified Republicans, 28% are independent and 13% are Dems. So yeah, 41% are either indy or Dem, with Dems making up a small majority of that group.

But a total of 85% are either Republican or independent. Given that experts say the ranks of independents are swollen these days with defectors from the GOP, these numbers suggest the Tea Party crowd tilts overwhelmingly to the right.

The new Gallup poll illustrates this even more starkly. The 28% of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters break down this way:

* Forty-nine percent of Tea Party supporters are Republicans, 43% are independents, and only eight percent are Dems. That means a huge majority — 92% — are Republicans or indys, and again, many of those indys could be former Republicans or lean GOP anyway.

* Seventy percent of Tea Party supporters say they’re conservative, and only 22% say they’re moderate. And who knows what they even mean by that word to begin with.

* A whopping 79% of Tea Party supporters are non-hispanic whites. Only 65% of Americans were non-hispanic whites as of 2008.

* Fifty-five percent of Tea Party supporters make over $50,000 a year.

It’s true that Gallup does conclude that the Tea Party movement is mainstream — in terms of some demographics. That’s already led to some crowing on the right. But in political terms, the simple facts are unescapable: The Tea Party movement is relatively well off, tilts Republican, and is overwhelmingly white and conservative.


Update: One other quick point: This doesn’t even take into account the possibility that some of these independents supporting the Tea Party movement do so because they view the GOP as too far to the left.

digby: Who You Gonna Call?
Will Bunch reports:

A political climate that's already more overheated than any time in a generation. Plans for a large-scale rally of firearms enthusiasts in the nation's capital. A fast-growing group of (mostly ex-) military and cops that pledges to disobey "unconstitutional orders" from the president, and an "urgent" call from the group's leader to flood Washington to "shout your oaths in the tyrant’s face" -- on the 15th anniversary of the worst home-grown terror incident in U.S. history, the Oklahoma City bombing.

What could possibly go wrong?

The world will find out on April 19, now that the leader of the Oath Keepers -- the alliance of mostly veterans and ex-cops that didn't exist at the start of the Obama administration but now claims nearly 15,000 members -- has issued that urgent call to all members to attend two politically charged events in or around Washington on that Monday, which organizers stress as the 235th anniversary of the first shots of the American Revolution.

Stewart Rhodes, the Yale law school grad and ex-paratrooper who founded the Oath Keepers after working on Rep. Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign, sent out an email blast to members over the weekend urging them to attend either a Second Amendment March on the Capitol that's slated to take place on Washington that day, or an open-carry rally in which many attendees will be bringing their firearms, to be held just across the Potomic River at Fort Hunt National Park.

There won't be any trouble because it's highly unlikely anyone would dream of standing around screaming and spitting on radical wingnuts who are armed to the teeth and trigger happy. But hey nobody's saying you can't protest these yahoos. It's just that everybody knows that your right to protest is somewhat, shall we say ---curtailed ---by the possibility that one of them might shoot you in the head on the spot if you look at them sideways. I suspect most sane people get that loud an clear so dissent isn't going to be a problem. Everyone will be very, very careful not to upset any of these fine patriots. Message sent and received.

God bless America and all the liberty and freedom it provides (as long as some nutbag with a loaded gun doesn't get agitated and open fire in a crowd.)

You have to love this, though:

In an irony that event organizers don't seem to be playing up, open-carry of weapons used to be banned at national parks before February of this year, when a longstanding ban was overturned in legislation signed by the man Rhodes alluded to as "a tyrant," President Barack Obama.

Give 'em an inch and they'll shoot you in the face.
Think Progress: GOP Congressmen Say That ‘Everyone’ In Congress ‘Would Agree That Iraq Was A Mistake’

Yesterday, the libertarian Cato Institute hosted a panel discussion on conservatism and the war in Afghanistan with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN). When the conversation shifted to the war in Iraq, Rohrabacher said that “once President Bush decided to go into Iraq, I thought it was a mistake because we hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan,” but that once Bush “decided to go in,” he “felt compelled” to “back him up.” He then added that “the decision to go in, in retrospect, almost all of us think that was a horrible mistake.”

Moderator Grover Norquist then asked Rohrabacher to provide a “guesstimate percentage of Republicans in Congress who would share that view — not that they opposed the President at the time, but today looking back.” Rohrabacher replied that “everybody I know thinks it was a mistake to go in now”:

ROHRABACHER: Well, now that we know that it cost a trillion dollars and all of these years and all of these lives and all of this blood, uh, I don’t know many…

NORQUIST: Looking for a number. Two-thirds? One-third?

ROHRABACHER: I, I can’t. All I can say is the people, everybody I know thinks it was a mistake to go in now.

NORQUIST: That’s 100 percent.

Norquist then turned to McClintock, asking “what percentage”:

NORQUIST: Of Republicans in Congress, who would agree with the general analysis here that it was a mistake and/or we should go in.

MCCLINTOCK: I think everyone would agree Iraq was a mistake.

NORQUIST: Two hundred percents. Ok, we’re going to average these.

MCCLINTOCK: And, you know, again, I think virtually everyone would agree going into Afghanistan the way we did was a mistake. How many share my, my cynicism over this idea of a resolution of force, which I can’t find anywhere in the Constitution. And how many believe that in those rare cases where we go in, we put all of our resources behind our soldiers, I would say certainly more than half of the Republican caucus probably believe that.

Asked for a number by Norquist, Duncan refused to say, but shared an anecdote of how unpopular the war is politically in his conservative military district. Watch it:

McClintock wasn’t in Congress when the Iraq war was authorized. Duncan voted against the authorization of military force while Rohrabacher voted for it.

Yglesias: Palin Rep Slams East Coast

As a lifelong resident of the northeastern United States and specifically the Boston-Washington corridor it’s always bugged me that residents of other regions are allowed to roam the media landscape slamming my home turf as inauthentic even while claiming that we’re somehow oppressing them. What’s more, Sarah Palin is terrible:

With its tales of uplift and pluck, “Real American Stories” trades in the kind of easy sentimentality that provokes eye rolls among those of us who work in media while quickening the pulse and patriotic ardor of almost everyone else. At the beginning of the show, Ms. Palin promised that it would “reaffirm our pioneering spirit and unmatched generosity, here and around the world.” [...]

It’s not the kind of thing that’s going to excite you guys on the East Coast, but everyone else is dying to hear stories like these,” said one of her representatives who was not authorized to speak on the record but was authorized to slam the East Coast.

Look. The East Coast contains six of the country’s ten largest metro areas and is the region that created the damn country in the first place. And now we’re supposed to sit here and get sneered at by people from Alaska?

Meanwhile, thanks to some kind of east coast self-loathing, folks like David Carr feel the need to insist that somehow Palin is really right about this, arguing that he show succeeds at “quickening the pulse and patriotic ardor of almost everyone else.” In reality:

Sarah Palin’s much-hyped LL Cool J-less Fox News special last night didn’t bring in the huge ratings some (ok, we) predicted. Greta Van Susteren’s On The Record which normally airs at 10pmET beat the program the previous three nights in the A25-54 demographic and two out of three nights in total viewers. The show also lost viewers from the first quarter hour to the final quarter hour by double digits.

So there. All signs point to a slow news week, so I intend to air my cultural grievances.


We haven't seen a sitting senator indicted in a while. As Jon Ralston reported yesterday, that may soon change.

In the federal penal code, it is known as "structuring." And it is a word Sen. John Ensign should remember because it is very likely to be on any indictment with his name on it.

That's what I am told by a reliable source familiar with the deliberations occurring inside the Justice Department as federal authorities in Washington try to do with Ensign what they could not do with former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens: Get their man. [...]

Structuring is a broad term that refers to the crime of creating financial transactions to evade reporting requirements -- for example, a $96,000 payment to your mistress laundered through a trust controlled by your parents and calling it a "gift" instead of what it obviously was: a severance payment that had to be reported.

Ensign's controversy, for quite a while, looked like a simple sex scandal -- the "family-values" conservative was sleeping with one of his aides who happened to be married to another one of his aides. But as we've seen the matter unfold in recent months, there's now ample reason to believe the Republican senator may also include ethics violations, hush money, and official corruption. An ongoing FBI investigation appears to be heating up, and by some accounts, expanding.

The likelihood of a criminal indictment is no longer far-fetched. And if the indictment comes, Ensign's scandal at least has the potential to shake up the political landscape a bit.

If Ensign gets indicted, he will become a national and state nightmare for the GOP. National Democrats will brandish him as a symbol of corruption (they may anyhow) and local Democrats will wrap the junior senator around the GOP Senate nominee's neck, especially because Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian foolishly have said they would welcome his support.

Something to keep an eye on.

  • from the comments:

    -- If Ensign is indicted, there will be a plethora of stories detailing the Democrats that have been indicted too. The media will bend over backwards to ensure that everyone understands this happens in both parties.

    Posted by: Ladyhawke on April 5, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

    -- Get a parking ticket FIXED? For the false equivalency test, just having the parking ticket ought to be enough...

    Posted by: artsmith on April 5, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

    --I'm waiting for a hint of MSM reporting on this. (Crickets).

    Posted by: MattF on April 5, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    They'll confuse John Ensign with John Edwards and schedule all the Sunday talk shows about Rielle.

    Posted by: Marko on April 5, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    --The mainstream media has been curiously silent about Ensign. This is especially true of the Washington Post. If Ensign is actually indicted, will the Post put the story on the front page?

    Posted by: daveb99 on April 5, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    --All I know is this: the very -instant- Sen. Ensign is indicted, Fox will report it as "Sen. John Ensign (D)".

    Posted by: Bernard Gilroy on April 5, 2010 at 11:05 AM |

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