Friday, February 19, 2010


Sargent: GOP Rep Mike Pence: We’re The Party Of No, And Proud Of It

GOP Rep Mike Pence, the number three in the House GOP leadership, will say the following in his speech to CPAC later this morning, according to excerpts:

“Some folks like to call us the party of ‘no.’ Well, I say ‘No’ is way underrated in Washington, D.C. Sometimes ‘No’ is just what this town needs to hear.

“When it comes to more borrowing, the answer is No. When it comes to more spending, the answer is No. When it comes to more bailouts, the answer is No. And when it comes to a government takeover of health care, the answer is No.

“Conservative Republicans are back. We’re in the fight for fiscal discipline and limited government, and we are on the side of the American people.”

What’s unclear is why this kind of stuff from Pence doesn’t make Dem leaders more resolved to pursue reconciliation, or even to give serious consideration to filibuster reform. After all, Pence couldn’t be clearer: The GOP leadership is going to say No to the Dem agenda, and to continue to do everything they can to stop it. As of yet there’s nothing that they appear willing to say Yes to, beyond their own proposals.

And that’s fine! The GOP is the oppostion party. They’re supposed to try to halt an agenda they disagree with. But like it or not, the public will place more blame on the majority party for the paralysis gripping D.C., even if GOP leaders stand atop the Capitol and loudly proclaim “No” to everything Dems propose every day from now until Election Day 2010. As Pence is basically doing here.

Frumin (TPM): Cantor: 'We Will Say No To The Health Care Bill'

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) isn't exactly laying the foundation for the bipartisan part of next week's bipartisan health care summit at the White House.

At CPAC this morning, Cantor declared that "we will say no to this health care bill because no is what the American people want."

Asked moments earlier about what might be "up the sleeves" of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Cantor said, "Lord only knows what's up their sleeves."

Cantor said Democratic health bills are predicated on "back-door dealing" and declared that "these bills are ultimately designed to lead this country to a single-payer system, something that the American people reject."

We Republicans will go to the president and insist that he push the reset button and get serious about offering Americans a positive reform agenda.
When President Obama invited congressional Republicans to participate in a bipartisan summit on health care reform, he asked GOP officials to do a couple of things.

The president, for example, urged Republicans to craft their own plan, which could be talked about at the event, and from which good ideas could be drawn. In response, GOP leaders replied that there will be no Republican plan.

Obama also encouraged Republican leaders to come to the table with a constructive attitude, with hopes of finding common ground and a genuine interest in solving an obvious problem. That's not going to happen, either.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) isn't exactly laying the foundation for the bipartisan part of next week's bipartisan health care summit at the White House.

At CPAC this morning, Cantor declared that "we will say no to this health care bill because no is what the American people want."

Well, the American people want a public option, too, but I suppose polls only matter when the public supports the already agreed upon position.

Nevertheless, Cantor's remarks couldn't have been clearer. Less than a week before the summit begins, and several days before Cantor even sees the White House plan, he's declared that Republicans "will say no" -- regardless of what's in it, regardless of what compromises the president is prepared to make.

Hari Sevugan, a spokesperson for the DNC, issued a statement soon after Cantor made his remarks.

"While Eric Cantor and his Republican colleagues have for months repeatedly charged that the President is shutting them out of the process, today's comments clearly demonstrate that Republicans are interested only in politicizing the debate and have no intention in working together on reform that makes health care more stable and affordable.

"We hope other Republican Congressional leaders will rebuke and disavow Mr. Cantor's comments and pledge to work in a truly bipartisan manner. The American people deserve no less."

Yglesias: Hank Paulson on Cantor

I’m struck by how little attention has been given to the tough hits dished out by Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Pauslon to various prominent congressional Republicans, including golden boy Eric Cantor.

Newsweek summary:

Meetings with Senate Republicans were “a complete waste of time for us, when time was more precious than anything” (page 275). Ideas that Republicans do add are “unformed,” like Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor’s plan to replace TARP with an insurance program. In a rare moment of sarcasm, Paulson goes off on the minority Whip: “I got a better idea. I’m going to go with Eric Cantor’s insurance program. That’s the idea to save the day” (page 285).

Politico, reflecting its usual shallowness, remarks:

But Republicans may have the last laugh: TARP is, arguably, the most unpopular federal program in recent memory — and voters seem poised to punish Democrats for passing it, even if Republicans like Cantor eventually signed off.

Well hardy-har-har. Some of us, though, are less interesting in the timing of who laughs when than in the formulation of national policy. The fact that Cantor had an approach to a severe economic crisis that attracted nothing but derision from his same-party Secretary of the Treasury seems noteworthy to me. The national press has, however, done an absolutely horrible job of putting conservative TARP-bashing in appropriate context as a program deemed necessary by all the leading officials in a very conservative administration to avert a Depression. If this stuff is just hypocrisy, that’s bad and noteworthy. But Paulson’s message seems to be that it’s not just hypocrisy, but rather genuinely frightening cluelessness.

"a pretty common failing"

Yglesias: Straw Manned

Jon Chait zings Reihan Salam for what is I think a pretty common failing among the smarter set of conservative commentators, namely a tendency to dismiss as straw-man characterizations positions that are in fact the mainstream conservative orthodoxy. In this case that includes the assertion that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has had no positive impact on the economy. You see something similar with the view that climate change is a made-up conspiracy cooked out of thin air by Al Gore and some UN guys. Or that reducing tax rates is a surefire way to increase revenue.

I wish it were the case that these were straw man views, invented by liberals to make the right-wing look bad. But if you listen to what the most powerful conservative politicians and media figure in the land say, these are the things they offer as the basis of conservative policy on macroeconomic stabilization, on climate and energy, and on the long-term fiscal challenge. Is it nuts? Well, yes it is. But there you have it. If you want to find what counts as a fringe position, you can find tea party leader Richard Mack talking about states’ rights to secession.

Kevin Drum continues: Which Conservatives Matter?

On Tuesday, David Leonhardt took issue with conservatives who think the stimulus didn't do any good for the economy. The next day, Reihan Salam took issue with David Leonhardt:

Leonhardt refers to "hard-core skeptics," and my worry is that this does a lot of the work for him. Critics like Desmond Lachman believe that the stimulus was poorly timed and poorly designed....Others are concerned about the impact of heavy deficit spending on long-term growth prospects, i.e., the fiscal stimulus program has a beneficial growth impact in the short term, but exacerbating extreme fiscal policy swings are very difficult to sustain....So is Leonhardt taking issue with people who believe that spending hundreds of billions of dollars in the space of a few month would have zero impact on GDP growth? In that case, I would enthusiastically agree with him.

....But again, I don't think that anyone doubts that ARRA helped perk up growth. It is very hard to imagine that spending an enormous sum of money would not.

Reihan claims that Leonhardt is arguing with a strawman, but as both Jon Chait and Matt Yglesias point out, there really are lots of conservatives — including most of the loudest ones — who believe that the stimulus literally had no impact on jobs or growth — or maybe even a negative one. It's hardly a stretch to say that this is a pretty widely held right-wing view, and Matt draws a broad conclusion from Reihan's reluctance to acknowledge this: "I think [this is] a pretty common failing among the smarter set of conservative commentators, namely a tendency to dismiss as straw-man characterizations positions that are in fact the mainstream conservative orthodoxy."

Well, yes. I'm reminded of Megan McArdle's revelation a couple of years ago when she discovered that mainstream conservatives really do have a party line that insists tax cuts always raise revenues. "A conservative publication," she admitted, "just spiked a book review because I said that the Laffer Curve didn't apply at American levels of taxation....I suppose I ought to have known, but I didn't. Go ahead liberals, pile on: you told me so."

But I think there's something else going on here too. In his post about the stimulus bill, Reihan is implicitly suggesting that liberals ought to be engaging with the best of conservative thinkers, many of whom hold nuanced and moderate positions. And it's true: some of them do. The problem is that in the real world, these nuanced and moderate thinkers have virtually no influence. Among actual politicians and high-profile yakkers, it's nearly unanimously held that, for example, the stimulus had no positive effect on the economy; that tax cuts always increase revenues; that Europeans all have poorer healthcare than Americans; and that man-made global warming is a delusion. Reihan and Megan and others like them may hold more careful views, but the vast bulk of the conservative movement simply doesn't. And that's the reality of the world that liberals have to deal with.

Now, whenever something like this comes up, I wonder if there's something similar on the liberal side of the aisle. Are there hot button issues on which the Kevin Drums and Jon Chaits of the world hold moderate, techno-googoo views, but on which elected politicians and bigfoot TV pundits unanimously insist on extreme, lockstep views? I can't really think of any. Taxes? Healthcare? National security? Immigration? Climate change? Education? Abortion? Gay rights? Labor law? On all of these, either liberal politicians hold a fairly broad variety of leftish views (national security, immigration, education) or else they hold pretty similar views but so does the commentariat (climate change, gay rights). No important issue comes to mind in which the liberal think tank community holds a lively and diverse set of opinions but actual liberal politicians unanimously maintain a death grip on some extreme, base-pleasing position.

But that doesn't mean there isn't one. It just means I can't think of it. So help me out. Can anyone come up with a few good examples?

Drum: Conservatives and the Stimulus

Following up on my post yesterday about the stimulus, Robert Waldmann makes a good catch. Reihan Salam had said, "I don't think that anyone doubts that ARRA helped perk up growth," but it turns out that not only is this untrue, it's spectacularly untrue. Here's a CNN poll from a few weeks ago:

So 41% of American adults think the stimulus had no effect or made things worse. CNN doesn't provide crosstabs, but I think it's a pretty good guess that this belief is primarily held by conservatives and right-leaning independents who take their cues from conservative media. In other words, it's likely that upwards of three-quarters or more of conservatives believe the stimulus had no effect.

That doesn't happen unless conservative pundits and politicians are almost unanimously pushing exactly that belief. There might be a few conservative thinkers out there who are offering up judicious, nuanced conclusions about the stimulus, but their effect on public discourse in general is nil. Among the vast majority of conservative opinion leaders, not only is it untrue that few people doubt ARRA helped perk up growth, but apparently virtually everyone doubts that ARRA helped perk up growth.

Atrios: Lies and the Lying Liars
Pawlenty edition.
"President Obama was in a grade school classroom speaking to elementary school children and he was using a teleprompter," Pawlenty said Friday in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.

"You've got to be kidding me," he added. "That's not a joke. That's a real story."

Actually, it's not. The tale spread by bloggers over the Internet and in some media, including the Comedy Channel's Jon Stewart, blended together two Obama appearances Jan. 19 at the Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, to make it appear he used the teleprompter when speaking to a classroom of 30 pupils.
The thing about the whole OBAMA TELEPROMPTER MUAAHAHAAHAHA think is that it became a joke among reporters, not just conservatives, who apparently never noticed that presidents regularly used teleprompters until Obama took office.
Booman: Here We Go Again
Attracting people to the Republican Party has mainly been a con-game since at least the New Deal. For example, let's look at this tidbit from Politico's coverage of today's CPAC conference.

Ascendant are groups that focus on fiscal issues such as reducing government spending and taxation, which last year drove tens of thousands of new conservative activists to the streets and town halls in protest of big spending initiatives backed by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. Groups that concentrate on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage have been relegated to a lower profile, as, to some extent, have those focusing on national security.

Grass-roots organizations have seen their membership rolls, coffers and standing boosted by the new activists, many — but not all — of whom identify with the cacophonous tea party movement.

These activists generally have been leery of the Republican Party, as well as established big-name conservative groups and leaders who made their reputations in the Washington game, particularly those seen as tainted by a pay-to-play Beltway culture or linked to a George W. Bush-era GOP establishment viewed as having abandoned its principles.

So, the new game (which is the same as the old game we played in the 1970's and the 1990's) is to get rid of those profligate Republicans-in-name-only and put a bunch of real hard-core deficit hawks in Congress? Right? Why would the next time be any different?

How do Republicans explain their failure to reduce spending or balance budgets when they are given the opportunity? They always say the same thing. "We came to Washington, and Washington changed us. We lost our principles." This is, of course, either rank bullshit or just something so inevitable that it will repeat itself until people stop believing it.

But, maybe you need some proof. Remember Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum's K Street Project? That took "getting in bed with lobbyists" to a whole other level. Republicans will always increase spending and lower taxes because that way they can steal coming and going. You want an outlet for your anger against the elites? The GOP will never be it. Whatever crumbs the hoi polloi get, they get from the Democratic Party.

Sully: Why Does CPAC Exist?

Ambinder asks:

No one ought to be begrudge conservatives for having a good time, but a good time isn't what the movement needs: what it needs is an infrastructure that exists to promote the ideas of the millennial generation. CPAC does not provide that or even hint that such a thing exists. Note: do not confuse an amplification infrastructure -- the conservatives have a huge megaphone, ranging from talk radio to Pajamas Media to Fox News -- with a political infrastructure, which turns ideas into policies and modernizes the party.

Intellectually honest conservatives are homeless.

CPAC speakers forego fact for fanfare Feb. 18: Rachel Maddow fact-checks some of the speakers at the CPAC convention in Washington, D.C. Thursday and is joined by Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson for analysis of the intersection of Republican politics and the conservative movement.

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

Yglesias: ABC Can’t Find Economists Who Think the Stimulus Failed

A funny thing seems to have happened on the way to a he-said, she-said story for ABC on the stimulus:

“The stimulus worked,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Bank. Without it, “the unemployment rate would probably be closer to 11 percent” and the economy might not have grown at all last year.

Mark Zandi of Moody’s thought the nation would be “still in recession.”

“It played a significant role supporting recovery,” said economist Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial.

Not all the economists who responded to our survey agreed the stimulus was necessary.

“Throwing a trillion dollars at anything will move it,” said Standard and Poor’s David Wyss, “but the recovery would be beginning and the unemployment rate nearing a peak” without it.

“The economy would probably be recovering,” argued Jay Bryson of Wells Fargo, just maybe not “as fast as it is.”

They’ve attempted to frame this as a standard piece of “experts disagree on shape of the earth” shoddy policy journalism, but what you’re actually seeing here is that despite their best efforts they can’t find anyone to endorse the standard Heritage/NRO/GOP view that the stimulus is harming the economy. Hoffman and Zandi deem the stimulus vital. Swonk says it played a “significant role” in bolstering recovery. Wyss is sniffy and derisive, but the essence of his sniffy derision is to say that of course the stimulus helped. And Bryson says the economy recovered faster because of the stimulus. Everyone agrees!

John Cole: Redefining Liberalism

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the fifth most influential “liberal” journalist (according to the daily beast):

5. Fred Hiatt

Editorial Page Editor, The Washington Post

Although many on the left would question Hiatt’s presence on this list—his near-neocon position on foreign policy enrages the left-wing blogosphere—there is no doubt at all that he is a traditional liberal in all matters domestic. The steward of a sober and constructive editorial column, he is paid great heed by the administration. He is much less dogmatic, as an editorial page editor, than his counterpart at the Times.

Fred Hiatt’s (based on his columns and his hires) three biggest issues are the neocon dream of empire and permanent war, completely dismantling the social safety net, and climate denialism. How anyone could confuse Hiatt with liberalism simply escapes me- he is a liberal in much the same way that I am a libertarian transhumanist- he isn’t at all.

I do a lot of reading of Hiatt and the WaPo (although not as much as Doug), and what I have come to the conclusion is that Hiatt’s key characteristic is that he is just not very bright. He falls for false equivalencies almost every time he is given an opportunity, he is easily seduced by those he finds impressive and by those in a position of power, and he just isn’t much if an idea person so much as someone who prides himself in serving as the vanguard for the conventional wisdom. Read his writing- the Daily Beast confuses sobriety with caving in to Beltway groupthink. He isn’t particularly clever, his language is dull and pedestrian and permanently without any charm or wit, and I have never once seen what could be considered an original thought. That is the real untold story about Fred Hiatt- he just isn’t very smart.

Which means he is exactly where he belongs in our current joke of a meritocracy.

*** Update ***

It is worth examining what the “liberal” Fred Hiatt has done to the Washington Post:

Speaking of Fred Hiatt’s absurd claim that people who don’t like George Will spreading global warming misinformation should “debate” him, rather than expect the Post to run a correction …

Yesterday’s Washington Post featured op-eds by Henry Kissinger, David Broder, Bill Kristol, David Ignatius, and George Will. Today’s brings op-eds from George Will, Michael Gerson, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Kinsley, and Eugene Robinson.

That’s ten columns total. One is by a liberal (Robinson), one by a contrarian who may lean left (Kinsley), two by centrist Villagers (Broder and Ignatius – and remember, Village centrists are typically to the right of the actual center.) And six are by staunch conservatives – Will (twice), Krauthammer, former Nixon aide Kissinger, former Bush I aide Kristol, and former Bush II aide Gerson.

This was before Hiatt hired torture apologist and Bush’s other speechwriter, Marc Thiessen.

The only upside to this list of 25 influential liberals is that Marty Peretz is not on it.

Think Progress: CPAC audience boos former GOP Rep. Bob Barr for saying waterboarding is torture.

This afternoon, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held a debate titled “Does Security Trump Freedom?” that featured former GOP congressman and Libertarian Presidential candidate Bob Barr, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), and former Bush Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh. During one point in the debate, Barr condemned the right’s call to try terror suspects exclusively in military tribunals and defended plans to try suspects in civilian courts. He then insisted that waterboarding is torture, which prompted the crowd to start booing. As they continued to boo, he pointed to the audience and asked, “How would you like to be waterboarded? Try that!”:

BARR: But I don’t think we should go down the path of allowing our leaders to have their cake and eat it too. There is nothing magical about a military tribunal. They don’t have necessarily better lawyers than the civilian sector. I think I have a lot more faith in our US attorneys who are nonpolitical than my colleagues on the other side of this debate. We can try them. We should try them. That is precisely, Jay, what our law provides for. And the first time we’re faced with a situation we say, “Oh we’re going to have them go to the military let them torture them for a while, it’s not enhanced interrogation technique. Waterboarding is torture! How would you like to be waterboarded? Try that!

Watch it:

Attorney General Eric Holder has declared that waterboarding is torture, and due to the illegality of the procedure, the United States has prosecuted it in the past. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has repeatedly applauded the torture technique, and has admitted he was a “big supporter” of its use by the previous administration.

Booman: Cognitive Dissonance

It's interesting to watch Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) speak before the Conservative Political Action Conference. He is making a passionate case for tax cuts for the rich (because someone told him 'I ain't never been hired by a poor man'). But he did this immediately after talking about the importance of balanced budgets. No one appears to question how those two things go together. Even if it were a consistent philosophy, it's clear that the Republicans neither would or could make the kind of massive cuts in federal spending that would be required to keep the budget balanced if the current tax cuts for the rich are not allowed to sunset (let alone if they were cut even more).

And I really think this is a core issue in American politics. The Republicans do have principles that most people understand. But those principles are totally unrealistic. It's as if the Democrats ran on a real socialist platform (say, nationalizing the energy sector and providing a single-payer 100% government-run health care system) and then made no effort to enact it. And, then, once thrown out of power for doing the opposite of what they said they were going to do, they just went back to making the exact same promises they made before. And, then, they repeated their betrayal and made the same promises all over again. At what point do the Republicans lose credibility?

To use one example, the president just used his executive power to impanel a commission to address our structural deficits. Why did he do that? Because the Democrats can never agree to cut Medicare or Social Security benefits and the Republicans can never agree to raise taxes. (I might add, that neither of them seem willing to cut military spending). So, a commission is needed to provide some political cover to politicians that are afraid to take on their bases. Why is this relevant? Because it's the same reason that elected Republicans never make the kind of budget cuts needed to match their tax cuts. Cutting taxes is the easiest vote you can cast. But cutting funding for popular programs is unpopular. That's why you know the Republicans will never keep their promises to balance the budget. Only a party that is willing to tax at an adequate level to finance their operations can possibly balance the budget.

It was jarring to see Dick Cheney get a welcome response at the CPAC conference when he is the one who said deficits don't matter:

[Treasury Secretary Paul] O'Neill, fired in a shakeup of Bush's economic team in December 2002, raised objections to a new round of tax cuts and said the president balked at his more aggressive plan to combat corporate crime after a string of accounting scandals because of opposition from "the corporate crowd," a key constituency.

O'Neill said he tried to warn Vice President Dick Cheney that growing budget deficits-expected to top $500 billion this fiscal year alone-posed a threat to the economy. Cheney cut him off. "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said, according to excerpts. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms (congressional elections). This is our due." A month later, Cheney told the Treasury secretary he was fired.

Notice that it was Ronald Reagan who proved that deficits don't matter. If that is what Dick Cheney thinks Ronald Reagan stood for then why would Reagan-worshipping deficit hawks cheer Dick Cheney? Is it because they're fucking stupid or they just don't care?

National Security

DougJ: Heckuva job, Bernie
People forget that Bernie Kerik was once nominated to be the head of the Department of Homeland Security.
Atrios: Just A Bit Of Murder
Practically justified!

I guess we're going back to the 90s, where all kinds of horrible criminal acts were excused by the Right as long as people claimed to be motivated by being pissed off at taxes and guvmint.
Sully: Hewitt Award Nominee
"There is no polite way to put this: Obama's incompetence is getting people killed," - Liz Cheney, daughter of a vice-president who presided over the deaths of more than 3,000 people in New York City after being warned explicitly that al Qaeda was preparing a major attack on the United States.
Booman: Rocket Science

KARACHI, PAKISTAN -- The capture of senior Afghan Taliban leaders in Pakistan represents the culmination of months of pressure by the Obama administration on Pakistan's powerful security forces to side with the United States as its troops wage war in Afghanistan, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials.

Dick Cheney never convinced them. Neither did Richard Armitage or anyone else in that stupid administration.

Sargent: Congressional Dems Have No Message On National Security; Getting Badly Outworked By GOP

This has passed unnoticed, because of the focus on the economy and health care, but it could have serious implications for 2010: Congressional Dems have no message or strategy on national security, and they’re getting badly outworked by the GOP on the issue.

The GOP has a very specific strategy in place. Republicans are intent on making national security a major issue in 2010. Their plan: Drive a wedge between the White House and Congressional Dems by relentlessly attacking Obama’s policies for making us less safe.

The GOP goal: To get House and Senate Dems to break with the White House on closing Guantanamo, the Mirandizing of the Christmas bomb plotter, the plan to try terror suspects in civilian courts, and other issues.

The Republican leadership even sent House GOPers back to their districts this week with a very specific set of talking points, sent over by a source, telling them precisely what to say to constituents about those specific issues.

There’s no sign whatsoever that Congressional Dems were given anything similar, or even that Dem leaders have spent any time developing a strategy of their own. Are you hearing any concerted pushback, or any message at all, on these issues from Dems?

The result: Republicans are framing the debate on these issues, and more and more Congressional Dems are breaking with the White House on them. In other words, the Dems are following the GOP script.

Worse, this is happening even as the White House is, in fact, mounting a major effort to engage the GOP on these issues. Obama counter-terror chief John Brennan and Joe Biden have aggressively engaged Dick Cheney and other Republicans in recent days, arguing that Obama’s counter-terror policies are succeeding and are superior to GOP policies.

But on this message, the White House has no meaningful support from Congressional Dems to speak of, and it’s waging this fight virtually alone.

One frustrated Dem strategist who works closely with House Dem candidate across the country told me: “We’re behaving like the President has a 30% approval rating. On these issues, Democrats inherently believe no one will believe our arguments.”


Spencer Ackerman adds:

The Obama administration is racking up wins on the issue like it was a pool hustler. Where are all the surrogates? Why are John Brennan and Joe Biden doing all the work here?


Crazytown. The facts are there. Obama’s national security numbers outpoll the GOP’s. There’s clearly an audience there. What’s amazing isn’t just that there’s no bunch of Congresspeople on TV to back the administration — to say nothing of Democratic candidates. It’s that there are no surrogates out there pushing back on endless conservative national-security attacks that have been disproven, like how we need to torture people to get information out of them, or how military commissions have a better record of convicting terrorists than civilian courts when the exact opposite is true. Hell, the question I have for the GOP is if the conviction rate isn’t the metric for success in a terrorism prosecution — Mitch McConnell called convicted-for-life Zacharias Moussoui’s prosecution a "disaster" — then what in the world is?


We learned this week about the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban's top military commander. Baradar was the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the war began, making this a key success story.

Better yet, it was the start of an apparent trend.

Two senior Taliban leaders have been arrested in recent days inside Pakistan, officials said Thursday, as American and Pakistani intelligence agents continued to press their offensive against the group's leadership after the capture of the insurgency's military commander last month.

Afghan officials said the Taliban's "shadow governors" for two provinces in northern Afghanistan had been detained in Pakistan by officials there. Mullah Abdul Salam, the Taliban's leader in Kunduz, was detained in the Pakistani city of Faisalabad, and Mullah Mir Mohammed of Baghlan Province was also captured in an undisclosed Pakistani city, they said.

When combined with the Baradar arrest, the developments represent "the most significant blow to the Taliban's leadership since the American-backed war began eight years ago." It also points to an unprecedented level of cooperation between U.S. officials and the Pakistani government.

And it gets better still.

Pakistani authorities using U.S.-gathered intelligence arrested up to nine al-Qaida-linked militants in a series of overnight raids in the southern city of Karachi, officials said Thursday. [...]

They said eight or nine militant suspects were arrested. One was identified as Ameer Muawiya, who the officials said was in charge of foreign al-Qaida militants operating in Pakistan's tribal regions near Afghanistan and was an associate of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Go ahead, Republicans, tell us again about why we should question the Obama administration's approach to national security and counter-terrorism.

Aravosis: Anti-govt anti-Obama nuts launch Facebook page to honor domestic terrorist who crashed plane into IRS office

And you could write this off as just a few nuts on the Internet, except that new GOP Senator Scott Brown said tonight that the same anger that convinced this man to crash a plane into an IRS office, 9/11 style, was the same anger that got Brown elected last month. Perhaps not such an aberration after all.

Mike Signorile turned me on to this. He was reading the comments on the air on his radio show. The initial page was taken down by Facebook - and I don't blame them from what Mike tells me. But a new page is up. It's pretty hideous. The page has the "Don't Tread On Me" flag that Tea party teabaggers like to use, and it has a wonderful Thomas Jefferson quote that domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh used. A lot of the nastiest stuff got deleted the first time around. Including a number of anti-Obama comments. Here are some examples of the comments on the page (now that the page is getting discovered, some negative comments are coming in, finally):

This is Emily Walters. We were the original ones who started this group. It grew to about 300 members and was deleted. They deleted my profile also. This is my boyfriends profile he made just to put it back on there because its sad when you don't have the right to freedom of speech or expression anymore.

Do we as americans have our head buried in the sand? is it time to pull it out? what will we really see.....? Abolish the IRS, lets go with a sales tax....ooohhh yea, how would big brother keep us in check.... it is time

I would call him a hero!!! I.m sure they will call him a terrorists.


I'm sick and tired of our tax dollars supporting lazy old people with their free social security. Get a job or get out of our country!

They are not screwing with "Andrew Joseph Stack III is not a Hero" group.

Mr. Stack is a true American hero


There only deleting comments becouse there too true...

The IRS planned to eat him anyway, might as well serve a gourmet meal.

when does terrorism become patriotism???were the minutemen and anybody who revolted against king george terrorists or patriots?? im sure they were also perceived as terrorists

this country was founded on rebellion. history repeats itself. common sense.

Obviously you haven't heard Patrick Henry's quote, "Give me the politicians I want or give everyone else death"

So we should just sit there and take what Uncle Sam gives us in the ass? Joe Stack had the balls to make a point -and his point certainly received international attention.

sad thing for the folks who think this is going to be the only time we hear about something like this. this is not the way americans act UNLESS YOUVE FALLEN VICTOM OF THE IRS AND THEYRE UNBALENCED POLICIES!!!!. so get used to it--nuff said

It's not about who he killed or who he could have killed. It's about the undeniable identification of the common American with his letter and his frustration with our out of touch, detached government.

This poor man was hunted to insanity. I pray for his family.

This building did not contain any important files, I believe this might be the building were that S.O.B. worked that Joe thought was on his side and would help him save his ass yet he turned out to be on the gov's side instead. I dont know about you all but, if I were in that building when Joe struck it I would have been honored to die for a good cause that would finaly atleast open up some eyes.

I hear that there was already a hazmat team across the street before the plane stuck, how did they know to be there at that exact time???????????????????????????

I am watching CNN, and they keep bringing on Pyshc experts that keep painting this guy as paranoid, and deranged. I can't help but think that behind the scenes even psych professionals can understand this guy's frustration with our bloated, intrusive government, but yet on the air they say what's politically correct, and what's best for their careers. In no way do I condone killing innocent people, but I understand Joe's logic and frustration. Personally, I think he would be pleased that he was able to get our attention without causing a single death.

His name was Joseph Andrew Stack. He died serving project mayhem. In death we are all Joseph Stack.
One more:
It is heroic to set fire to your house with your wife and daughter in it then reenact what he called a horror in his manifesto with a miniature version of a plane? Please do tell me how that is heroic.

No, but it is heroic to fly your plane into the IRS building

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Swift Boating Climate Change


Thers: Stupid Journalist Tricks
Morbidly fascinated in how the British & elsewhere gutter press has been cheering on global climate catastrophe? The gory details.

Also you can and should read this and this. Long story short, attacks on climate scientists = horrible lies, action needed now on climate change, or lots of bad shit happens.
Sully: Swift-Boating Climate Change?

Walter Russell Mead is upset that the NYT hasn't reported on the IPCC pseudogates:

Let me say this again one last time: the story here is that the movement to stop climate change is being swift-boated right before our eyes. And just as Senator Kerry and the journalistic establishment failed to see the importance of the swift boat attacks and develop a counter strategy early, so the Times along with the climate change establishment is, yet again, missing the boat on a major piece of news.

Blake Hounshell sheds some light on the Times coverage.

ChrisinParis (AmBlog): What else should we expect from Utah Republicans?

Duh huh. Duh huh. They're such funny people.

Utah's heavily Republican state legislature has passed a new resolution which condemns climate change alarmism. The resolution lacks any legal authority, but vocally criticizes the anthropogenic global warming community for ignoring recent developments.

The legislation, which resoundingly passed by a vote of 56-17, originally referred to global warming theory as a "conspiracy", but that term was stricken from the measure in favor of "climate data".
Roth (TPM): If At First You Don't Secede ... Sue The EPA: Texas Guv Uses Climate-Gate Emails To Take On Feds

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is suing the Environmental Protection Agency in a bid to stop it from regulating global warming pollution. The centerpiece of his argument? Those leaked "Climate-Gate" emails.

Last year, the governor -- who faces a contested GOP primary race, which includes a Tea-Party-backed candidate who has lately caught fire -- raised the threat of seceding from the union. And on Tuesday, he opened a new front in his quest to tout his conservative bona fides.

Flanked by his attorney general, Greg Abbott, Perry declared at a press conference that the lawsuit was intended to "defend Texas' environmental successes against federal overreach." And he slammed the Obama administration for "using sweeping mandates and draconian punishments to force a square peg of their vision into the round whole of reality."

Abbott cited the emails to charge that the EPA was using "tainted data" when it ruled in December that heat-trapping gases are a threat to human health and can be regulated by the federal government.

The leaked emails caused a storm on Fox News and right-wing blogs last fall, but did not shift the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is a threat. Nonetheless, a "Petition for Review," submitted to the EPA in the name of Perry and other Texas officials and examined by TPMmuckraker, uses what it calls the "disturbing revelations" contained in the emails as the centerpiece of its argument, claiming that the leaked emails have "shocked and appalled policy makers, regulators, scientists, and concerned citizens worldwide."

In its "Overview" section, the petition argues that in making its ruling, EPA relied on the conclusions of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That body is generally seen as one of the most authoritative sources of information we have on climate change -- but Perry et al. charge that "troubling revelations about the conduct, objectivity, reliability, and propriety of the IPCC's processes, assessments, and contributors" have lately appeared.

What revelations are those?

Previously private email exchanges among top IPCC climatologists reveal an entrenched group of activists focused less on reaching an objective scientific conclusion than on achieving their desired outcome. These scientists worked to prevent contravening studies from being published, colluded to hide research flaws, and collaborated to obstruct the public's legal right to public information under open records laws.

The petition goes on to reproduce many of the emails, including the two that received the most media attention last fall: the one in which a scientist refers to a "trick" to "hide the decline" in temperatures, and another in which the same scientist pledges that he and a colleague will keep papers skeptical of climate change out of scientific journals, "even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" (For a good explanation of why the first email shows nothing nefarious, and why the second, though perhaps improper, doesn't come close to undermining the consensus behind climate change, go here.)

Since the leaked emails appeared, the petition goes on to allege, "there has been a parade of controversies as new examples of improprieties and erroneous information are revealed to the public." As one of several examples, it cites a recent admission by an IPCC official that the group erred in predicting that a Himalayan glacier would melt by 2035, as well as other efforts to challenge IPCC findings. And it accuses the group's chair of having a conflict of interest because he has business ties to companies "in industries that are or will be affected by policies that are based on IPCC conclusions about climate change."

This isn't the first legal challenge to the EPA's ability to regulate global warming pollution. Last week, an alliance of conservative business groups led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Dick Armey's FreedomWorks filed a similar suit, which also referred to the "Climate-Gate" emails.

Perry is currently locked in a heated GOP primary battle for re-election. He enjoys a healthy lead over Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), but the race has lately been shaken up by Debra Medina, a far-right darling of the Tea Party movement, who has taken off in recent polls.

Health Care Updates

Bellantoni (TPM): Anthem Rate Hikes Just Tip Of Iceberg - Premiums Going Way Up In Six More States

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today will release a new report showing more dramatic health insurance premium increases are proposed in Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington.

Keying off the Obama administration's recent probe into a planned 39 percent rate hike from Anthem Blue Cross in California, Sebelius will detail large increases in six other states and say that given record insurer profits, health care reform has never been more urgent.

At 11:30 a.m. today, Sebelius will release the report, obtained by TPMDC and titled "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System."

It finds that Anthem's rate increase (now delayed until May) is "not unique" and that experts say premiums will keep rising.

The report quotes National Association of Insurance Commissioners officials predicting the nation will "see rate increases of 20, 25, 30 percent."

"These massive increases are disturbing examples of the problems that make reforming our health insurance system more important than ever," the report states.

Among its specific findings:

Anthem of Connecticut requested an increase of 24 percent last year, which was rejected by the state.

Anthem in Maine had an 18.5-percent premium increase rejected by the state last year as being "excessive and unfairly discriminatory" - but is now requesting a 23-percent increase this year.

In 2009, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan requested approval for premium increases of 56 percent for plans sold on the individual market.

Regency Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon requested a 20-percent premium increase.
UnitedHealth, Tufts, and Blue Cross requested 13- to 16-percent rate increases in Rhode Island.

And rates for some individual health plans in Washington increased by up to 40 percent until Washington State imposed stiffer premium regulations.

The report finds that "[w]hile rising health care costs is a known problem with our broken health care system, some of the premium increases requested by insurance companies are 5 to 10 times larger than the growth rate in national health expenditures."

It also seizes on an issue the administration has been pushing in recent weeks, saying that while prices went up, so did profits and CEO pay.

"[P]rofits for the ten largest insurance companies increased 250 percent between 2000 and 2009, ten times faster than inflation," the report finds.

More from the report:

Last year, as working families struggled with rising health care costs and a recession, the five largest health insurance companies - WellPoint, UnitedHealth Group, Cigna, Aetna, and Humana - took in combined profits of $12.2 billion, up 56 percent over 2008.

These health insurance companies' profits grew even as nominal GDP decreased by 1 percent over this same time period.

And recent data show that the CEOs of America's five largest insurers were each compensated up to $24 million in 2008.

The report lays out the case for reform and specifically how the bills passed by the House and Senate would demand transparency from insurers so they would need to account for administrative costs and profits as well as justify premium increases.

The Anthem hikes also have allowed Democrats and the administration to start up again with the drumbeat for a plan that includes competition.

Members of House Democratic leadership used Anthem as an example yesterday of why health care reform legislation must be completed.

"The situation in California is Exhibit A that we can expect more of the same if we do nothing," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). "There is no sign of things getting any better."

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) said since the news broke about Anthem's proposed 39 percent increases, her constituents approach her daily in Orange County and they tell her to "get this done."

President Obama and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also have cited the increases when talking about the plans to finalize health care legislation at the health care summit next week.

The Energy and Commerce Committee plans hearings for next week and has asked Anthem parent company WellPoint's CEO Angela Braly to testify.

Meanwhile, health care reform activists in New York are planning a march across the Brooklyn Bridge Saturday that would culminate in a rally outside of Anthem's headquarters at Broadway and Liberty streets.

"Americans across the country are uniting to send a message to Washington: forget the special interests and get the job done," the group wrote in a planning email.

Public option returns to reform debate Feb. 17: Senator Bernie Sanders explains to Rachel Maddow whether the public option has a realistic chance of being included in the health reform bill despite having been dropped from earlier drafts.

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


California's Anthem Blue Cross -- the largest insurer in the nation's largest state -- recently told nearly a million customers that, next month, they'll face premium increases up to 39%. Even those who have come to expect private health insurance companies to tighten the screws on their customers were taken aback. An LA Times editorial noted, "Anthem's actions offer the best argument yet for Congress to complete work on a comprehensive bill without delay."

Today, however, the Obama administration's Department of Health and Human Services is publishing a report called, "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System." The point is to emphasize that Anthem's back-breaking rate increases are becoming increasingly common nationwide -- the report specifically points to premium increases proposed in Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington for those buying coverage as individuals because they're not covered by their employers.

Jonathan Cohn explains the structural problems that lead to these rate hikes.

The problem here, as the Blue Cross plans themselves have admitted, is the dysfunctional nature of the individual insurance market. Insurers divide the market up into blocks, then adjust rates to account for the past and projected medical expenses of each block. As the rates go up, healthier beneficiaries leave the block for other policy options, forcing rates even higher for those people who are left.

The problem gets worse when the economy is bad, because people are more eager to find cheaper coverage and more willing to risk going without. It can also get worse if an insurer is trying, deliberately, to isolate and then force out unhealthy subscribers.

How do you stop this cycle? Get everybody covered, either in one pool or a set of smaller pools that are "risk-adjusted" so that this cycle doesn't take place. But to do that, you have to require that insurers stop discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, mandate all policies provide average coverage, make everybody carry some insurance, provide subsidies for people who can't afford premiums on their own, and implement systemic reforms that will make medical care itself less expensive over time.

This isn't complicated -- to address the problem, policymakers are going to have to pass health care reform. And given that Maine residents are poised to be especially screwed over by the premium increases, the fact that Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins don't even want reform to get an up-or-down vote in the Senate should be pretty scandalous in the Pine Tree State.

Ezra Klein: Selling insurance across state lines: A terrible, no good, very bad health-care idea

The big Republican idea to bring down health-care costs is to "let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines." Jon Chait has some commentary here, but I want to simplify a little bit.

Insurance is currently regulated by states. California, for instance, says all insurers have to cover treatments for lead poisoning, while other states let insurers decide whether to cover lead poisoning, and leaves lead poisoning coverage -- or its absence -- as a surprise for customers who find that they have lead poisoning. Here's a list (pdf) of which states mandate which treatments.

The result of this is that an Alabama plan can't be sold in, say, Oregon, because the Alabama plan doesn't conform to Oregon's regulations. A lot of liberals want that to change: It makes more sense, they say, for insurance to be regulated by the federal government. That way the product is standard across all the states.

Conservatives want the opposite: They want insurers to be able to cluster in one state, follow that state's regulations and sell the product to everyone in the country. In practice, that means we will have a single national insurance standard. But that standard will be decided by South Dakota. Or, if South Dakota doesn't give the insurers the freedom they want, it'll be decided by Wyoming. Or whoever.

This is exactly what happened in the credit card industry, which is regulated in accordance with conservative wishes. In 1980, Bill Janklow, the governor of South Dakota, made a deal with Citibank: If Citibank would move its credit card business to South Dakota, the governor would literally let Citibank write South Dakota's credit card regulations. You can read Janklow's recollections of the pact here.

Citibank wrote an absurdly pro-credit card law, the legislature passed it, and soon all the credit card companies were heading to South Dakota. And that's exactly what would happen with health-care insurance. The industry would put its money into buying the legislature of a small, conservative, economically depressed state. The deal would be simple: Let us write the regulations and we'll bring thousands of jobs and lots of tax dollars to you. Someone will take it. The result will be an uncommonly tiny legislature in an uncommonly small state that answers to an uncommonly conservative electorate that will decide what insurance will look like for the rest of the nation.

As it happens, the Congressional Budget Office looked at a bill along these lines back in 2005. They found that the legislation wouldn't change the number of the uninsured and would save the federal government about $12 billion between 2007 and 2015. That is to say, it would do very little in the aggregate.

But those top-line numbers hid a more depressing story. The legislation "would reduce the price of individual health insurance coverage for people expected to have relatively low health care costs, while increasing the price of coverage for those expected to have relatively high health care costs," CBO said. "Therefore, CBO expects that there would be an increase in the number of relatively healthy individuals, and a decrease in the number of individuals expected to have relatively high cost, who buy individual coverage."

That is to say, the legislation would not change the number of insured Americans or save much money, but it would make insurance more expensive for the sick and cheaper for the healthy, and lead to more healthy people with insurance and fewer sick people with insurance. It's a great proposal if you don't ever plan to be sick, and if you don't mind finding out that your insurer doesn't cover your illness. And it's the Republican plan for health-care reform.


Following up on an item from yesterday, Democratic policymakers working on health care reform are facing something of a deadline over the next week.

The White House has said it intends to "post online the text of a proposed health insurance reform package" in advance of the Feb. 25 bipartisan summit, just eight days away. While there's an ongoing possibility that the White House will simply present its own reform package at the event, the goal has been to strike a compromise between the already-passed House and Senate proposals.

Sources on the Hill yesterday suggested inter-chamber talks have borne no fruit of late, making it difficult to see how a final plan would be ready for Thursday -- or even earlier, since the plan would have to be online for a while in advance of the summit.

Greg Sargent reports today, however, that an "endgame" may be in sight.

...House and Senate Dem leaders are in fact edging towards reaching a deal on a health care reform package to take to next week’s big summit, leadership aides tell me, though it remains a steep uphill climb.

The aides also say that Senate Dem leaders are warming to the idea of using reconciliation to fix their bill after the summit -- suggesting an endgame may be taking shape.

It's been widely assumed that the House and Senate had hit a virtually insurmountable snag, and yesterday Robert Gibbs hinted that the White House might step in and forge a compromise of its own to take to the summit.

But leadership aides tell me that while the snag is still serious, there's still a decent chance of an agreement. That would allow Dems to head into the summit with a united front.

Greg characterized the debate over financing -- to go with the excise tax or not -- to be the key sticking point, just as it has been for quite a while. There are, however, some "tweaks" that are being considered, which could expedite matters on the House side, while the appetite for using reconciliation in the Senate appears to be growing.

Christina Bellantoni also reports this afternoon that a final agreement is likely to materialize, if not entirely before the summit, then soon after. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the DCCC, said a deal is 90% complete, and that the two chambers are "very close to reaching a final agreement."

It's taken a beating, and it's hardly out of the woods, but health care reform isn't dead.


Rachel continues to hit it out of the park.
Republicans unwilling to put money where their rhetoric is Feb. 17: The Nation's Chris Hayes talks with Rachel Maddow about the growing awareness by Americans of a significant number of Republicans who speak out against the stimulus bill despite having solicited stiumulus funds and celebrated its effectiveness in their home district.

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

Think Progress makes lists. Check it out:
Stimulating Hypocrisy: 111 Lawmakers Block Recovery While Taking Credit For Its Success
It's now impossible for serious observers to claim the stimulus didn't create new jobs. The leading economic research firms -- IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers, and Moody's -- estimate that the effort has already created as many as 1.8 million jobs, and will create about 2.5 million jobs when all is said and done. As far as the independent Congressional Budget Office is concerned, those are conservative estimates -- the CBO believes the stimulus is already responsible for as many as 2.4 million jobs.

It leaves the right looking for alternate rhetorical strategies. Today, House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) tried a new tack in a press release. Notice the addition of one key word to the GOP talking points:

One year [after the stimulus bill became law], not one net job has been created as unemployment rose from 7.6 percent to nearly 10 percent nationwide. [emphasis added]

Matt Finkelstein explained why this rhetorical shift matters: "The distinction here is important. By shifting the focus to 'net jobs,' Pence is effectively conceding that the Recovery Act did create jobs -- that, while unemployment rose more than expected, we would be even worse off if the program hadn't passed."

This also suggests that Republican officials are starting to worry, at least a little, that the economy might be improving far more than they'd like. If job creation starts picking up in a meaningful way in the Spring, as the Obama administration expects, the good news for the country may be bad news for the GOP's midterm election strategy. They'll need something negative to say, and pointing to net job growth may fool a few people.

But probably not many. It's really very foolish -- the recession began in December 2007, and the economy fell off a cliff in September 2008. The month the president took office, thanks to conditions Obama inherited, the economy lost 741,000 jobs. A month later, it was 681,000. A month after that, it was 652,000. Of course there's going to be a net job loss. The net loss will exist for quite a long while. When a nation experiences a downturn of this severity -- easily the worst since the Great Depression -- it takes a very long time to make up the lost ground.

The goal is to see improvements and growth. Maybe Pence understands this, maybe not -- he is a few threads short of a sweater, if you know what I mean -- but either way, this "net job" talk is absurd.

Democrats are pushing the stimulus hypocrisy line pretty hard this week -- Republicans say they hate the stimulus, but that hasn't stopped them from trying to secure recovery funds for their states/districts. Republicans, perhaps worried about the effectiveness of the criticism, have embraced a straightforward response.

Conservative economist Greg Mankiw summarized the GOP argument, calling the Democratic cries of hypocrisy "baffling." (thanks to reader C.L. for the tip)

It seems perfectly reasonable to believe (1) that increasing government spending is not the best way to promote economic growth in a depressed economy, and (2) that if the government is going to spend gobs of money, those on whom it is spent will benefit. In this case, the right thing for a congressman to do is to oppose the spending plans, but once the spending is inevitable, to try to ensure that the constituents he represents get their share. So what exactly is the problem?

Let me offer an analogy. Many Democratic congressmen opposed the Bush tax cuts. That was based, I presume, on their honest assessment of the policy. But once these tax cuts were passed, I bet these congressmen paid lower taxes. I bet they did not offer to hand the Treasury the extra taxes they would have owed at the previous tax rates. Would it make sense for the GOP to suggest that these Democrats were disingenuous or hypocritical? I don't think so. Many times, we as individuals benefit from policies we opposed. There is nothing wrong about that.

This is no doubt the official Republican line. Indeed, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) made the identical argument, with the exact same analogy, on "Meet the Press" over the weekend.

But the response is deeply flawed. The hypocrisy charge may sting, but it's also entirely legitimate.

It's not complicated -- Republicans have claimed, forcefully and repeatedly, that the stimulus effort was a mistake. The recovery spending couldn't generate economic growth and was simply incapable of creating jobs. The entire endeavor, the GOP said, was a wasteful boondoggle, and they're proud to have voted against it. Republicans rejected the very idea on ideological and policy grounds.

Now, we know the substance of these claims is demonstrably ridiculous, but the key to the hypocrisy charge is appreciating what else these same Republicans have said. When it comes to their states/districts/constituents, the identical GOP lawmakers have said the stimulus can generate economic growth, can create jobs, and can make an important and positive difference. In some cases, Republicans have even taken credit for stimulus projects they opposed -- projects that wouldn't even exist if they had their way.

GOP officials can take one position or the other, but when they embrace one side in D.C. while talking to the media, and then the opposite side when dealing with their constituents, it's more than just stupid -- it's hypocrisy.

As for Mankiw's analogy to the Bush tax cuts, this also doesn't stand up well to scrutiny. The only way this would make sense is if Democrats opposed and voted against Bush's policy in D.C., and then went back to their states/districts to take credit for the tax cuts and boast about how effective they were.

The fact that the hypocrisy charge seems to make Republicans nervous is itself encouraging. That the GOP has not yet come up with a coherent response should encourage Dems to keep it up.

Aravosis: Beck cites CBO to show stimulus was more expensive than first thought, leaves out fact that CBO said stimulus created/saved 2m jobs

I'm watching a new video of FOX News' Glenn Beck that's going around, and as usual he acts like a bit of a nut. But what's so disturbing is that this video is a perfect example of how Beck, and FOX generally, lie to their audience. Let me walk you through it.

1. Beck cites CBO (the Congressional Budget Office, an independent non-partisan congressional agency that is not tainted by politics) numbers to show that the stimulus cost more than the President Obama thought it would. On the order of 800 and some billion instead of 780 billion or so. Okay, fair enough.

2. Beck goes on to mock the President for mentioning examples of jobs saved by the stimulus. Beck clearly implies that the stimulus has helped, at most, a handful of people, but otherwise it's been pretty useless.

Beck's proof? A recent CBS poll showing that only 6% of Americans believe that the stimulus created any jobs. Beck goes on to compare this to the number of people who think Elvis is alive, or that we never really landed on the moon.

Now, note what Beck did. He took a survey showing that people didn't BELIEVE the stimulus created jobs, and used that as proof that the stimulus actually did NOT create any jobs. In fact, 6% of the American people may not believe the stimulus created any jobs because they're not away of the truth. It's possible. And in fact, if you look at the independent studies of the stimulus, done by folks like CBO - the folks Glenn Beck quotes a responsible source - you'll find that the stimulus has done wonders for employment over the past year. In fact:

Among people who know what they're talking about, the fact that the stimulus has been successful isn't even controversial anymore. The leading economic research firms -- IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers, and Moody's -- estimate that the effort has already created as many as 1.8 million jobs, and will create about 2.5 million jobs when all is said and done. As far as the independent Congressional Budget Office is concerned, those are conservative estimates -- the CBO believes the stimulus is already responsible for as many as 2.4 million jobs.
Or just check out the Wall Street Journal, they reported on the CBO study too.

Watch the video. Beck is certainly a great entertainer. But he's also one hell of a liar. He clearly suggests that the fact that the American people don't realize the stimulus has worked means that is has NOT worked. And now we know, from the very people Glenn Beck cites as his money experts, that this is a flat out lie. The man just lies, so long as it permits him to take a cheap shot at Democrats. Do your own research on the topic. He lied.

Reasonable people can disagree on whether to expand nuclear power in the United States. The Monthly has been more than a little skeptical about the idea, but support for and opposition to the idea do not necessarily fall along clear ideological or partisan lines.

President Obama, for example, has long expressed a willingness to consider domestic nuclear expansion, and yesterday took a big step in that direction.

President Obama seized a key Republican energy initiative as his own Tuesday, promising $8.33 billion in federal loan guarantees for a pair of Georgia reactors that he said would give new life to the U.S. nuclear power industry and create a surge of high-skill jobs.

By helping to finance the construction of the reactors -- the first new U.S. nuclear power units in more than 30 years -- Obama is hoping to jump-start his efforts to pass comprehensive climate-change legislation, which has stalled in Congress in the face of GOP opposition.

I'm happy to let energy policy experts weigh the merits of the loan guarantees. What I found interesting, though, was the reaction from Georgia's right-wing Republican senators, who are thrilled to see their state benefit -- the Obama administration's proposal is likely help create thousands of jobs in Georgia -- but can't quite bring themselves to even use the president's name.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman noted yesterday, for example, that Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) issued a seven-paragraph, 392-word joint statement, lauding the new nuclear initiative. Number of times Isakson and Chambliss used the words "president," "Obama," and/or "White House"? Zero. Even though the senators were delighted to hear the president's announcement, as Bookman concluded, the two "just couldn't bring themselves" to agree with Obama by name.

The president suggested yesterday that an initiative like this one could help bolster bipartisanship, with a Democratic administration finding common ground with GOP policymakers. But the fact that Republican senators don't even want to mention the president, even when they're thrilled with one of his decisions, only reinforces the fact that Republicans just aren't interested.

"laying the groundwork"

QOTD, E.J. Dionne:
The Obama administration argues that both the stimulus and the health bill are better than people think. That's entirely true, and this is actually an indictment -- it means that on the two big issues of the moment, Republicans and conservatives are winning an argument they should be losing.
Just this week, it seems we're starting to see conservatives worry about the state of the American economy. And by that I mean, they're concerned it's starting to improve in ways that may undermine Republicans' campaign plans.

Some of this was evident when House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) tried to move the goal posts, arguing that government efforts that create jobs aren't good enough. Karl Rove appeared on Fox News yesterday to argue that the economy is growing, but policymakers should get no credit for the progress.

"This in many ways is a false debate," Rove said. "The economy is stabilized compared to where it was a year ago, but is it because the government has spent $200 billion in the stimulus program? I don't think so."

"If you take a look worldwide, the Federal Reserve and the central banks have injected $30 trillion into the world economy," Rove continued, before acknowledging: "Again, the economy is going to recover, no ifs, ands, or buts."

As a substantive matter, Rove, who's never demonstrated any credible understanding of public policy on any level, has no idea what he's talking about. For grown-ups, the fact that the recovery effort stabilized the economy is no longer open to debate -- the NYT reported yesterday, citing a consensus among economists, that the economy would not have improved without the stimulus.

But also note, there's just a touch of fear in Rove's spin. It's as if he realizes that his party may be peaking in seven months too early, and that a stronger economy in the coming months may change the electoral equation in ways the GOP is unprepared for.

Indeed, National Review started pushing the line yesterday that the economy is starting to pick up in earnest, but that's awful news because "the Obama deficits" will have to be "paid for by our children."

What a sad little spin.

All of this may just be preventative rhetoric, laying the groundwork just in case the economy improves significantly this year. Either way, though, it seems Republicans are feeling a little antsy about this, and are starting to mull over strategies to downplay developments that are good for the country, but bad for their campaign strategy.

Something to keep an eye on.

  • from the comments:

    Quote: 'What a sad little spin.'

    It may be sad, but it's also dangerous. Unfortunately most American sheeple accept the spin as fact.

    Posted by: Bill From PA on February 18, 2010 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

    Perhaps it is just "preventive rhetoric, laying the groundwork just in case the economy improves significantly this year".

    But guess what? Doing this kind of thing works.

    When's the last time you saw Congressional Dems "laying the groundwork" or engaging in "preventive rhetoric" months in advance of a goal they wanted to work toward?

    Posted by: Tracer Hand on February 18, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

    Obama gave the American public too much credit for being smart, he knew his policy would bring the economy back from the edge, and thought the masses would see this. That was his mistake - having faith in the American people, it is a sad fact that they would rather accept a lie than the truth.

    Posted by: JS on February 18, 2010 at 8:43 AM

EJ Dionne:

Who's winning? Republicans, conservatives, the practitioners of obstruction and the Tea Party.

The two immediate causes for this state of affairs are a single election result in Massachusetts and the way the United States Senate operates. What's not responsible is the supposed failure of Obama and the Democrats to govern as "moderates." Pause to consider where we would be if a Democrat had won the Massachusetts Senate race last month. In all likelihood, health reform would be law, Democrats could have moved on to economic matters, and Obama would be seen as shrewd and successful.

But that's not what happened, and Republican Scott Brown's victory revealed real weaknesses on the progressive side: an Obama political apparatus asleep at the switch, huge Republican enthusiasm unmatched by Democratic determination, and a focused conservative campaign to discredit Obama's ideas, notably his economic stimulus plan and the health-care bill.

The Obama administration argues that both the stimulus and the health bill are better than people think. That's entirely true, and this is actually an indictment -- it means that on the two big issues of the moment, Republicans and conservatives are winning an argument they should be losing.

Sudbay: Sen. GOPers will block jobs bill. House GOPers want reality show.

While everyone with a brain realizes we need to create more jobs in the U.S., Republicans in the U.S. Senate are going to block that chamber's jobs bill from even getting to the floor, via Roll Call (sub. req.):

Senate Republican leaders are hoping to persuade waffling members of their Conference to block Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) $15 billion jobs bill by arguing that Reid has brushed aside minority rights in bringing it to the floor, aides told a gathering of lobbyists Wednesday.
Yes, that strategy was laid out at a meeting with lobbyists. And, this is the only time you'll ever see Republicans worried about "minority rights." The sick part is that many in the GOP Senate caucus already support what's in Reid's jobs bill. So, they want to make this about "process, rather than policy." Because that's what the GOP Senators do when people need help.

The GOP is shameless. This is when Harry Reid needs to play hard ball. Make the Republican Senators spend every minute on the floor blocking the bill. Make it painful for GOP Senators from states with high unemployment. Make it painful for Scott Brown. And, the White House would be wise to use the bully pulpit to help inflict some of the pain.

Meanwhile, having been made to look like fools repeatedly, the House Republicans are still looking for a t.v. show that works for them. Their latest gambit is with jobs:
House Republicans are taking a page from the president's playbook by challenging Democrats to a televised debate about job creation.

The top two Republicans in the House sent a letter Wednesday daring their counterparts — Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer — to engage in a public discussion over ways Congress can provide a boost to the economy.
Here's an idea: If Boehner and Cantor are serious, which they aren't, they can save some time by lobbying the Senate Republicans to pass a jobs bill ASAP.

This is all fun and games for Republicans on the Hill. The party that gave us the economic crisis has done nothing to help dig out from it. And, you know that a lot of them think high unemployment helps their chances for election victories in the fall.