Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Booman said ...

Three from Booman

A Video Election
I love Nate Silver and I think his analysis isn't just the best in the business...he's got the business to himself. But there is one problem, and that is that he's relying on polls. He'll tell you all the limitations of his analysis because he's totally honest and has complete integrity, but there are still limitations. If you have bad or meaningless input, the output won't be much better. That's why this insight from Josh Kraushaar is important:

This should be a golden age of political prognostication. Any armchair strategist with an Internet connection can get loads of insider information and blog or tweet their viewpoints. Congressional polling, once a true commodity because few media firms commissioned it regularly, has proliferated, with numerous start-up pollsters releasing data that's eaten up on a daily basis by junkies.

But amid all the information, I'm finding that we've lost a lot of old-fashioned common sense in evaluating and understanding races. We've become beholden to numbers, any numbers, at the expense of states' and districts' fundamental characteristics and candidates' and campaigns' own unique qualities.

Do you remember how one advertisement from Joe Sestak crashed Arlen Specter's poll numbers and effectively ended his career? That was somewhat predictable. Maybe we couldn't anticipate the exact ad, or that it would be so devastating, but we knew that Specter had glaring weaknesses that could and would be exploited by any halfway competent campaign. But you couldn't predict that Specter would lose based on polls that came out before the campaign was truly engaged.

We know that the recent Republican nominees have real weaknesses. They've said and done things that are embarrassing, or hard to justify, or that they will now disavow (effectively flip-flopping). Their positions are out of the mainstream, and their personal histories are often checkered. They've lied on tape and in print. They've embellished their resumes. One of them has even sent around links to images of bestiality by email. Most of the impact of these weaknesses is not being seen in current polling data because the public has not yet been exposed to media that discusses it.

I believe that this election is going to be another YouTube election. And private citizens using their creative powers to make viral videos are going to be an extremely important part of our success. George Allen called someone 'macaca.' We have dozens of macaca moments to choose from in this election cycle. We need to get to work.

Polls right now show important warning signs, but they mean little when you consider what that campaign is actually going to look like. If you are fair-minded, there aren't more than two or three Senate races that can be called even. Our candidates totally outclass their candidates. That's going to show. But we need to do our part in this. So, I hope Jed Lewison is getting ready. I hope there are dozens of unknown Jed Lewisons waiting to emerge with new creative video.

Stupid Harry Reid

Harry Reid is about as popular as an antibiotic-resistant case of chlamydia, so I fail to see why he thinks it is helpful to repeatedly refer to Delaware senate candidate Chris Coons as 'my pet.'

"I'm going to be very honest with you — Chris Coons, everybody knows him in the Democratic caucus. He's my pet. He's my favorite candidate," Reid said.

"Let me tell you about him: A graduate of Yale Divinity School. Yale Law School. A two-time national debate champion. He represents two-thirds of the state now, in an elected capacity. I don't know if you've ever seen him or heard him speak, but he is a dynamic speaker. I don't mean loud or long; he's a communicator. So that's how I feel about Delaware. I've always thought Chris Coons is going to win. I told him that and I tried to get him to run. I'm glad he's running. I just think the world of him. He's my pet."

Coons is probably going to win this race in a walk, but Reid just handed O'Donnell a giant baseball bat she'll use to make sure that Coons has his man-pants on.

Stupid Evan Bayh

I'll be glad to see Evan Bayh go because he's basically a moron. His political worldview is so lazy and conventional that he spews nonsense like this:

Q: What is the state of your political party?

A: It’s momentarily very strong. It’s not common for a party to control the White House and both Houses of Congress. But I think that the election this November is going to be a very difficult one for the Democratic Party. I think the Republicans are going to score big gains. And it’s largely because we’ve lost the independents, and that's largely over deficit and debt. And so there’s a natural tendency for any group, when they’re riding high, to overreach and I think the most progressive elements in the Democratic Party have and are about to be rebuked by the public.

And the irony of that is the cause that gets hurt the most when the liberals overreach is the liberal agenda, because they play into the hands of the conservative Republicans. And it’s an unfortunate fact, but it is a fact. The last election, the base of the Republican Party is just bigger than the base of the Democratic Party by about 10 percent.

The only way progressive Democrats have a role in governing in this country is if they make common cause [with] moderates — otherwise, numerically, it’s just not going to work out. They have not embraced that perspective.

Part of this I agree with, unfortunately. The Republican base probably is a bit larger than the Democratic base. And the public really is mad about deficits and the debt. But Bayh says the Democrats are going to be rebuked for liberal overreach and for creating new debt. That's the most simplistic nonsense. All we have to do is imagine what the economy would look like if the Democrats hadn't injected nearly a trillion dollars of stimulus into it, bailed out the auto industry, and stabilized the financial market and sector. In other words, if we hadn't increased the debt, we'd really be in a world of hurt. So, we aren't going to get punished for doing something necessary, we're going to get punished because jackasses like Evan Bayh refuse to explain how the Republicans created this mess and what we've done to clean it up. You can blame the media or the Democrats or the president or the opposition, but the problem is a failure of communication and not some kind of liberal overreach.

It's pretty obvious that liberals have not gotten what they advocated on a whole host of subjects, from the size of the stimulus, to the public option, to the shape of the Wall Street reforms, to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and DOMA, to the closure of Guantanamo, to the policy on Afghanistan. It's hard to argue that the Democrats would be worse off with lower unemployment, a more popular health care bill, and stronger Wall Street regulation.

I can't really think of any area where the Democrats have fully embraced the liberal position, let alone pushed it at the expense of the moderate wing of the party.

Think about the next part:

Q: What is it like to be a moderate in the Senate? And what role do they play in politics?

A: The moderates are the key to getting anything done, because most of the time in the Senate you need 60 votes. We’re in a rare moment now where the Democratic Party has close to 60 votes. But usually it’s far short of that and so you have to get four or five or six members of the other party to agree to get anything done.

This is precisely right. And what does that mean? It means that everything we've done for the last year and nine months has had to pass Evan Bayh's sniff-test and (for all but three months of that time) the sniff-test of at least one Republican. And what does that mean? It means that Evan Bayh considers himself guilty of liberal overreach.

Or, it means he's a dunderhead.


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

It's been difficult keeping up with the rumors in recent weeks about Elizabeth Warren and her possible role in the Obama administration. Atrios joked the other day, after a Fox News report that Warren would be the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, "Went to bed, Warren interim. Woke up, she wasn't. Went for a walk, now she is again."

And soon after, Fox News retracted its report and she wasn't again.

As of this morning, however, we finally know with confidence what's going to happen. ABC's Jake Tapper broke the story last night, reporting that President Obama will name Elizabeth Warren to "a special position reporting to both him and to the Treasury Department," tasked with heading the effort to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- which was Warren's idea -- up and running.

There are lingering questions about the details, but Tapper's report has been widely confirmed.

The decision, which Mr. Obama is to announce this week, would allow Ms. Warren, a Harvard law professor, to effectively run the new agency without having to go through a potentially contentious confirmation battle in the Senate. The creation of the bureau is a centerpiece of the Wall Street financial overhaul that Mr. Obama signed in July.

Ms. Warren will be named an assistant to the president, a designation that is held by senior White House staff members, including Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff. She will also be a special adviser to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, and report jointly to Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner. The financial regulation law delegated to the Treasury Department the powers of the bureau until a permanent director was appointed and confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term.

This looks like very positive news. Warren is one of the nation's leading consumer advocates and experts on bankruptcy law, and has drawn fire from conservatives precisely because she's so effective in going after abusive corporate practices.

Why not just appoint her to head the commission? The White House came to believe that the Senate's dysfunction would leave Warren in limbo for months, if not longer, leaving her unable to work and the consumer-protection agency unable to function. (And if the Senate ultimately killed her nomination, it would set back the process even more.) The approach the president chose allows Warren to have the authority to start making a difference right away.

It's probably premature to draw hard conclusions until the official announcement is made and more details are available, but this isn't necessarily a mushy, split-the-difference compromise; at least it doesn't have to be if the White House does it right. Indeed, this is very likely news Warren backers should celebrate -- she'll be in a position to shape the CFPB the right way, and effectively serve as its functioning chief for quite a while. At some point down the road, the president may go ahead and nominate Warren to formally head the agency anyway.

Ideally, of course, these circuitous tactics wouldn't be necessary. The White House could nominate an overwhelmingly qualified official to a key post, and the Senate would vote on her nomination. But as Annie Lowery reminds us, the "confirmation process is broken," forcing the administration to get creative. It's bad for the country and our system of government when unprecedented Republican tactics make a branch of government this dysfunctional.

But until there's meaningful Senate reform, workarounds are necessary. In Warren's case, the solution appears to be a good one.

Anne Laurie: Two Worthy Candidates

The NYTimes is reporting that “Warren [Will] Unofficially Lead Consumer Agency“:

Elizabeth Warren, who conceived of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will oversee its establishment as an assistant to President Obama, an official briefed on the decision said Wednesday evening.

The decision, which Mr. Obama is to announce this week, would allow Ms. Warren, a Harvard law professor, to effectively run the new agency without having to go through a potentially contentious confirmation battle in the Senate…

Ms. Warren will be named an assistant to the president, a designation that is held by senior White House staff members, including Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff. She will also be a special adviser to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, and report jointly to Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner. The financial regulation law delegated to the Treasury Department the powers of the bureau until a permanent director was appointed and confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term.

The decision does not preclude the possibility that Ms. Warren could eventually be named director, and at the least, she would play a pivotal role in deciding whom to appoint to the job, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the formal announcement…

And Gail Collins sends her new column from Anchorage:

... Scott McAdams, the Democratic candidate, is introducing himself to the voters. This will take some time because McAdams’s big claim to fame is being mayor of Sitka, a town of 8,700 with no road access…

The mayor’s big adventure began when it was Sitka’s turn to hold the Democratic state convention this year and the delegates were looking under every rock, melting glacier and sleeping walrus for a respectable candidate to face Murkowski. VoilĂ ! A star was born, sort of. For weeks, McAdams ran in obscurity with no staff and a budget adequate to cover a meal for four at Red Lobster. Then the Tea Party struck, and now he’s Mr. Smith, trying to go to Washington…

The national Democratic establishment has been ignoring McAdams. So many crazy Tea Party candidates to take advantage of, so little time. If places like the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee forgot about Alaska before this week, they must be totally distracted now that the Republicans in Delaware have decided to nominate a woman who won’t tell anybody where she lives because she’s afraid her political enemies will come and hide in the bushes.

McAdams may be an imperfect candidate, but he’s also an extremely inexpensive one. An Alaskan political campaign costs less than a tenth of one in big-media states like Florida and New York. He could probably run a competitive race for a million dollars, which is about the equivalent in California of Barbara Boxer’s postage budget.

McAdams is one of the choices on Balloon Juice’s very own ActBlue page, in case you want to show him a little monetary love. Maybe, in honor of the pinnipeds seeking refugee from global warming, we can call it “Walrusbombing“?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

a "paranoid psychotic episode"

I don't believe all (or even most) Republicans are anti-sex, science denying, theocratic freaks, but I do believe that significant numbers of them who don't really believe these things are happy to embrace this stuff and candidates who embrace this stuff because they think that it pisses of liberals. Pissing off liberals is the great uniter.
Sully: The Spawn Of Palin
I wonder if this doesn't represent some kind of tipping point for the right, the moment their asinine, vacuous Palinist blather really did meet the reality of this country's profound problems and the need to confront them rather than escape into a fantasy world of cultural paranoia, religious extremism and neurotic nationalism.

I thought it would get worse before it got better. It has happened more quickly and more drastically than I imagined. We went from the obvious fact that Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are farcical comic figures to the notion that they are the de facto leaders of a once-great political party. We've now seen the vile propaganda of Dinesh D'Souza embraced by Newt Gingrich, an Arizona candidate seeing headless bodies, and a victorious unelectable Delaware candidate who, among other things, opposes masturbation.

Matthew Norman: From the US comes a nasty whiff

Sarah Palin has a serious, instinctive gift for connecting with the bemused and the credulous that it would be folly to underestimate

The misfortunes of others being the greatest solace in gloomy, scary times, God bless the United States of America! However alarming the fiscal situation over here, however nerve-jangling the anticipation of the forthcoming Spending Review and its impact of industrial relations, however wretched the prospect of the low level civil unrest that follows the scapegoating of the deprived by the wealthy, glancing across the Atlantic cannot fail to raise the spirits.

Exactly what is unfolding there remains hard to identify even for those better placed by geography, experience and intellect than your columnist. But even at this remove it is apparent that America is suffering some kind of paranoid psychotic episode.

The evidence is rich and varied, and extends beyond that crazy old scrote who never quite got round to burning the Koran in Florida, or even that canard du jour about the "Ground Zero Mosque" which, to the blissful unconcern of Fox News and those bamboozled into confusing it with a broadcaster of news, is neither a mosque, of course, nor scheduled for construction at Ground Zero. Hint at the resurgence in Islamophobia that fell dormant surprisingly soon after 9/11 though they might, these conflated outrages paint an imprecise picture.

More instructive, I think, is a political story which may at first strike you as on the irrelevant side of parochial. Seldom in a British newspaper do we read of Delaware, the second smallest state of the union, about which many of us know nothing other than that it provides the title and first line of a catchily imbecilic song, "What Did Delaware (Boys, What Did Delaware)?"

In the old days, she wore a brand New Jersey. But times have changed, and today she may have swapped that pristine woollen garment for a straitjacket. With the mid-term elections for Congress due in November, many voters in the primary for Republican senatorial candidate have plumped for somebody even they, Tea Party chimps though they are, know cannot conceivably win.

Nurturer-in-chief of this suicidal instinct, inevitably, is Sarah Palin, the Jimmy Jones of the Grand Old Party. Buoyed by a spectacularly destructive Vanity Fair portrait quoting her weeping over her own inadequacy to cope with the demands of governing Alaska, Palin flirts ever more openly with running for the far less challenging position of president. Those who snort derisively at her chances of winning the GOP nomination in any field containing better informed and more articulate rivals than might be found in a Petri dish may find in Delaware a compelling vignette.

That primary was held yesterday, and the result is unknown at the time of writing. Yet even if the Republican establishment candidate, a moderate Congressman called Mike Castle, defeated his Palin-endorsed, Tea Party Express opponent Christine O'Donnell, the fact that the outcome was in doubt to the last alone tells its tale.

In opinion polls matching them against Democratic candidate Chris Coons, Mr Castle wins by a mile and Ms O'Donnell loses by further still. No wonder the Democrats have been "salivating" at the notion of facing the latter, and the Republican establishment quaking at the prospect of her victory obliterating the party in a state not given to the fear-stoking nastery that makes the Tea Party such an impressive tribute act to the late Joe McCarthy.

This grassroots movement, so crudely but skilfully seeded and propagated by Palin and her sidekick Glenn Beck, would rather lose a national election with a candidate who precisely mirrors its prejudices than win it by supporting one who does not. Such fearsome integrity may yet propel Palin to the presidential nomination. No one, herself included, has a clear idea whether she intends to run against Obama in 2012, although the superficial signs – first noted almost a year ago when she dined and prayed with Billy Graham; more obvious now from the love she is lavishing on Iowa, the first state to choose its presidential candidates – suggest she does.

The danger she represents has little to do with her chances of becoming president. In a general election, at least according to all current polling, she could no more beat a Stalinist llama than Barack Obama. The vast majority of Americans are not wilfully stupid, however much it assuages our classical British insecurities to believe so.

But even a small minority of Americans becomes a loud and petrifying force when amplified by the pernicious megaphone that is Mr Murdoch's Fox network. It is as the figurehead of the Tea Party, and personification of the racism that is spreading throughout the United States, where almost one on five Americans now believes Obama is a Muslim, that she is a clear and present danger.

The woman whose claim to have the requisite foreign policy experience for becoming vice-president rested solely on having kept look-out for encroaching Russian jets from the porch of her Wasilla home cannot be mistaken for an intellectual giantess, but she has a serious, instinctive gift for connecting with the bemused and credulous that it would be folly to underestimate. Intuitively she understands how to stoke baseless fears – wickedly, brilliantly, she coined the phrase "death panels" regarding Obamacare – as all ambitious rabble-rousers of the ultra far right must.

She will never lead the free world. But as the most useful idiot available to those powerfully entrenched reactionary forces to whom Republican politicians are no more than conduits to persuading Americans to vote against own their own economic interests, she is priceless.

Watching the Tea Party crush centrist Republicans in race after race regardless of the damage this will do the GOP in November, noting the fanaticism at the rallies headlined by Palin and Beck, and recalling from his own childhood the power of crazed but charismatic rhetoric over a middle class grown poor and confused in Wehrmacht Germany, Noam Chomsky sniffs fascism on the breeze.

If that sounds hysterical, please God that it is. But something dark and hateful is stirring in America, and it seems certain to grow as long as unemployment and poverty persist. On Inauguration Day some 20 months ago it felt almost like a curse not to be American. Today it feels quite a blessing to be British.

Peter Fenn Democratic media consultant :

Poor Republicans. They are beginning to resemble the bar scene from Star Wars. They are purging the conservative voices in their party who have any sort of pragmatic perspective and substituting true kooks. These are not just candidates with hard right views -- they took over the Republican Party in the late '70s and early '80s -- these are candidates who, as the Republican chair in Delaware put it, don't deserve to be dog catcher. Serious ethics issues. No record of accomplishment. Little of any substance on the issues. They are, pure and simple, vessels for anger and unbridled simplicity. The Grand Old Party is fast devouring itself. Political tsunamis do wash up a lot of dead fish on the beach -- it happened when Republicans captured 12 Senate seats in 1980. It appears to be happening again, only worse.

Marshall: Rove Pummeled in Lord o' Flies Style Smackdown

After shattering Sean Hannity's world last night by saying that Christine O'Donnell is nuts, Karl Rove is now being treated to a web-wide rightwing smackdown for talking smack about O'Donnell.


Congressional Republicans haven't played a constructive role in policymaking over the last couple of years, in part because they disagree so strongly with Democrats, but there's more to it than that. They've also boxed themselves in -- after a party condemns a president as an illegitimate Communist intent on destroying on America, the party has left itself very little room for compromise.

Indeed, based on its own larger attack strategy, how can the GOP be expected to find common ground with a policy agenda it considers un-American? It's how we go from the GOP agreeing with 80% of the Democratic health care plan to the GOP considering the same plan "Armageddon." Republicans have positioned themselves in such a way as to make working with those who may disagree with them largely impossible.

But this dynamic is not limited to policymaking. Jon Chait explained overnight how this attitude -- the GOP have characterized their efforts as "a twilight struggle to save the last vestiges of the Republic" -- applies to campaign politics.

The premise of all these pleas for [Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican Senate primary] was extremely sensible: this is politics. Sometimes you move the ball forward, sometimes the other team moves it forward. Sometimes you make compromises in order to get ahead.

But the Republican base has been taught not to think this way. This isn't just politics, remember? This is a twilight struggle for freedom. And Mike Castle didn't just cast a couple bad votes. He acquiesced in a sinister plan to undermine capitalism. How could they ever support a candidate like that?

Quite right. These voters have been told by their party not to compromise or settle for partial victories. There's just too much at stake, they're told. Evil forces are trying to take your country away.

Easily misled and manipulated people bought into this rhetoric. They've come to believe it's their responsibility to elect radical ideologues who'll save us from impending doom. Sensible people with last names like Castle, Crist, Specter, Bennett, Murkowski, and Inglis were insufficiently right-wing, so they were cast aside.

These activists have been fed red meat that's been tainted without their knowledge -- and now those who did the tainting are frustrated when the activists end up sick.

There's a limit to this, of course. Republicans are still poised to have an exceptionally good election cycle, and many of the lunatic candidates who've won primaries without the party's backing are very likely to win anyway.

But stepping, even after the GOP's expected gains, Republicans' carefully-executed strategy will leave them with (a) fewer wins than they would have had; (b) a smaller, more extreme party; (c) a base that's been taught to reject any and all compromises; and (d) a party incapable of governing effectively.

As I said earlier, Frankenstein didn't like his monster very much, but he still had to live with the consequences.

Aravosis: Anti-masturbation activist wins GOP Senate primary in Delaware

As Joe mentioned earlier, an anti-Masturbation activist just won the Republican US Senate primary in Delaware. Ironically, she's a Teabagger. All jokes aside, this is what the Republican party has come to. Their US Senate nominees now include anti-masturbation activists. The party has been taken over by the far-right fringe, and as Joe and I wrote a while back, that's all well and good until the Democrats screw up to the point that the voters replace them with whoever is available, regardless of how nutty.

Anne Laurie:Watching the Clown Car Empty

One of the small consolations of getting ringside seats to the Teabagger/Confederate Party implosion is that Charles P. Pierce will be doing a weekly series for Esquire’s Politics blog:

There is a real danger in overthinking what happened in Delaware on Tuesday night, which is not something of which the winner of the state’s GOP senatorial primary ever has been accused…

... Christine O’Donnell is a sideshow freak.

Seriously now, she was a crackpot when she rose on primary morning, and she’s a crackpot now, and she will be a crackpot whether she wins or loses in November. She no more belongs in the Senate of the United States today than she did the day she was born. That 30,000-odd primates in Delaware thinks she belongs there is their problem. If enough people in Delaware come to think so, then she becomes our problem.

O’Donnell is a creature of an age in which politics have no meaning beyond performance art. She is the Creature From The Green Room, with no apparent public career beyond being available whenever some teenage booker from the cable shows needed someone to say something reliably stupid… Her resume is so thin as to be opaque, and a lot of it seems to be a lie. She seems to be something of a deadbeat, and “U.S. Senator” seems to be her idea of an entry-level position. This morning, she stands one step away from the job…

She is what politics produces when you turn them into a game show and the coverage of them over to a generation of high-technology racetrack touts. She is what you get when political journalism reduces politics to numbers on a scoreboard, divorcing them from the real world consequences of what are increasingly seen as cute little eccentric decisions.

She is what politics produces when we abandon self-government for self-gratification. And that’s the real obvious irony in her victory on Tuesday night, and the only thing about it that truly matters. Christine O’Donnell’s campaign is a successful exercise in angry, misfit masturbation, with as little to do with the deadly problems this country faces as some guy wanking in the balcony of a grindhouse has to do with Romeo and Juliet.

Dave Weigel has a “Requiem for Mike Castle“:

I’m from Delaware, born in 1981, and can not remember a time when Mike Castle wasn’t being elected to something…There are two parties here: the party that does what the banks and DuPont wants, and the party that loses. Castle was the undisputed leader of the first party.

... There are tens of thousands of Delawareans who were expecting to vote for Mike Castle who are now given a choice between their workmanlike county executive, Chris Coons, and a woman who spent two weeks on the cover of the News Journal for stories about her trouble paying college fees, her lawsuit against her former employer ISI, her appearance in a MTV special about abstinence, etc, and etc, and etc. She got such rough treatment from the paper that she stopped talking to it…

[O’Donnell’s] victory was only possible because, for the first time, political donors and activists from outside our little state picked a target, froze it, and polarized it. But the message I am getting tonight is clear—neither the state GOP nor the NRSC will spend any resources on O’Donnell. Mike Castle could win in Delaware, and she can’t. I’d amend that slightly: No one like O’Donnell, a pure ideological candidate, has won a statewide race in Delaware in modern times. Maybe she’ll be the first! But the most likely scenario is that a shocked Delaware electorate elevates Coons to the U.S. Senate while waiting to see if it can give Castle another crack at statewide office in 2012. It’s what we’re used to.

And just so we don’t become too fixated on the latest shiny political object, Alex Pareene at Salon reminds us about August’s Flavor-of-the-Month Repub Nutball: “Rand Paul doesn’t understand how budgets, the Senate, math work.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Positively Medieval

Think Progress: REPORT: Grand Old Deniers — Nearly All GOP Senate Candidates Deny Global Warming
A comprehensive Wonk Room survey of the Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate finds that nearly all dispute the scientific consensus that the United States must act to fight global warming pollution. Remarkably, of the dozens of Republicans vying for the 37 Senate seats in the 2010 election, only one — Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware — supports strong climate action. Even former climate advocates Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) now toe the science-doubting party line. If Castle loses his primary on Tuesday to Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell, the GOP slate will be unanimous in opposition to a green economy.

Many of the Senate candidates are signatories of the Koch Industries’ Americans For Prosperity No Climate Tax pledge and the FreedomWorks Contract From America. The second plank of the Contract From America is to “Reject Cap & Trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures.” In reality, a carbon cap-and-trade market — by rewarding work instead of pollution — would increase jobs, lower electricity bills, restore American competitiveness, and forestall a climate catastrophe.

Overwhelmingly, the Republican candidates not only oppose action to limit global warming pollution, they question the validity of climate science. Here are a few quotes drawn from the Wonk Room report:

Gov. John Boozman, Arkansas:

“Well I think that we’ve got perhaps climate change going on. The question is what’s causing it. Is man causing it, or, you know, is this a cycle that happens throughout the years, throughout the ages. And you can look back some of the previous times when there was no industrialization, you had these different ages, ice ages, and things warming and things. That’s the question.” [KTHV Little Rock, 3/10]

Rep. Roy Blunt, Missouri:

“There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.” [Human Events, 4/29/09]

Rep. Rob Portman, Ohio:

“When you analyze all the data, there is a warming trend according to science,” he said. “But the jury is out on the degree of how much is manmade.” [Columbus Dispatch, 7/25/10]

Jim Huffman, Oregon:

He casts doubt on scientists’ findings about global warming. It’s “rooted in some fairly vague science,” he says. “There are a lot of studies out there that offer alternative explanations for global climate variations.” Huffman opposes a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, largely because it will be too expensive. He argues that it’s more realistic to adapt to climate change than disrupt peoples’ lives trying to prevent it. If some island nations become uninhabitable, he says, “I think that’s a tragedy, but we can adapt to that.”[Portland Tribune, 9/2/10]

To recap: 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming, but 97% of GOP Senate candidates disagree.

See the comprehensive listing of all 37 races at the Wonk Room.

Think Progress: Study: ‘People Who Matter’ To Sunday Talk Shows Are ‘White, Male, Senior, and Republican’
NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, Fox News Sunday, CNN’s State of the Union, and ABC’s This Week are the five major Sunday talk shows that aim to bring “a diverse group of voices” that “reflect the cultural, economic, and political landscape” of the U.S. However, according to a new study published by George Mason University School of Law this month, the Congressional guests featured in 2009 were anything but diverse, failing not only to represent the demographics of the American population but also the diversity of Congress. In fact, according to the study, the congressional voice was disproportionately represented by one type of guest in 2009: “white, male, senior, and Republican”:

“In 2009 the talk shows told us (by their selection of Congressional guests) that the people who matter are disproportionately white, male, senior and Republican — disproportionate not just when compared to the American population overall, but also when compared to the population of Congress itself,” concluded a study published this month in The Green Bag, a quarterly journal supported by the George Mason University School of Law.

The study, of the five network Sunday shows from February to December 2009, found that while 14.6 percent of members of Congress were minorities, just 2.5 percent of the Congressional TV guests were minorities; and that while 16.9 percent of members were female, 13.5 percent of the guests were female.

The study also singled out “the 49 white, male U.S. senators in office six-plus years” who represented 9.2 percent of the Congressional populace, but 61.4 percent of the TV guests.

This Week’s executive producer Ian Cameron explains that “bookings are dictated by the news and newsmakers” and “few of those newsmakers in top leadership positions are women or members of minorities.” In reviewing 2009, he noted that the guests relevant to the most prevalent issues were “white and mostly men.” According to the study, the top guests were Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). The Republican leadership “appeared on these shows a total of 43 times” while Democratic Leadership, including the first female Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), “appeared only 11 times.” And 2010 is shaping up to be more of the same, with McConnell “again leading the pack – appearing 10 times on Sunday shows – a rate even higher than he achieved in 2009.”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crazy People

Kurtz (TPM): The Peretz 'Apology'
The New Republic's Martin Peretz apologies for writing that Muslims don't deserve the protections of the First Amendment, but stands by his claim that Muslims don't value human life.
Fallows: A Harsh Thing I Should Have Said (Martin Peretz Dept)
Usually you regret the harsh things you say more than the harsh things you decide not to say. At least, that's how it usually turns out for me.

Here's an exception. Earlier this week I wrote an item about an incredible instance of public bigotry in the American intelligentsia. I decided not to push the "publish" button, because -- well, I didn't need to say it. Other people were pointing out the bigotry. I had no special standing as attitude-cop in this case.

But Nicholas Kristof's column today makes me realize I was wrong. The upsurge in expressed hostility toward Muslims -- not toward extremists or terrorists but toward adherents of a religion as a group -- creates an American moment that isn't going to look good in historical retrospect. The people indulging in this kind of group-bias speech deserve to be called out.

Kristof has called out one of the people I had in mind: Martin Peretz, listed as editor in chief of the New Republic, someone I have known very slightly since the days when he was a young professor at Harvard and I was a student. What he wrote, which the younger version of himself would have excoriated, was this:
>> [F]rankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf [of the NYC "mosque" project] there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse. <<
What's the point in piling on now, when these words have been so roundly condemned in so many quarters? Here is part of what I meant to say last week:
>> Martin Peretz's stated complaint about mainstream Muslims is that they don't step up to condemn egregious acts by people who could be considered "their own." Let's apply that logic here. Around the world, Martin Peretz would be seen as one of "our own," for people in the press and at his magazine. He is an American, and a prominent member of the media. So by his standards, we should raise our voices to say about one of "our own," this is wrong. Rather than seeming to condone the sentiments through silence, or to grant their author a pass because of his connections and standing, we should, again, say: This is wrong, and un-American. Anyone saying such things does not speak for "us." <<
I can't at the moment think of another mainstream publication whose editor-in-chief has expressed similar sentiments -- whether about Muslims or blacks or Jews or women or any other class -- and not had to apologize or step down. Or a national political figure: compare this with Trent Lott's objectively milder statement about Strom Thurmond, which cost him his job in the Senate leadership. Peretz can of course say whatever he wants. It's a free country, and he is entitled to the "privileges" of the First Amendment, much as I might think he is abusing them here. But Nicholas Kristof has set an example of people stepping up to say: That's him, not us. This representative of "us" is entitled to say what he chooses, but we think he's wrong, and on this he does not speak for us.
John Cole: Nothing New

Adding to my point that there is really nothing new to the hatred bubbling inside the mind of Marty Peretz and it is curious that some people are only now calling him on it, here is a piece from Jack Shafer pointing out that Peretz has not really kept his feelings about Arabs a secret.

The piece is from 1991. This year’s freshman class in colleges across the country was not even born, and Peretz was getting his hate on.

Marshall: Trainwreck A'Comin'

Delaware is not normally where you go for exciting politics. It's a small state, totally dominated for most of the last three or four decades by three or four guys who keep getting reelected, except when they trade one of the state's four major offices and get elected again. Mike Castle's been getting elected for about thirty years. He was Governor. Then the state's sole Representative since 1993. And now he's trading up to be Senator. That's just how things work in Delaware.

Until about a month ago.

Now it looks like he's about to get rocked by totally wild-eyed Tea Partier Christine O'Donnell. She's the one who says it's not enough to be abstinent. You have to eliminate sexual desire entirely. Which suggests she's what you'd call an aspirational politician rather than a realist.

First The Tea Party Express started pouring in money for her. Then Palin endorsed her. Then this morning the Weekly Standard unloaded this hatchet-job on her. And now PPP has just released a poll showing her 3 points ahead of Mike Castle.

In any other year, you'd probably be safe seeing that as basically a tie race and figuring Castle's machine strength could pull it out for him. But after Murkowski, maybe not.

And all that wasn't enough, tonight the Tea Party Express (one of the more cash-n-carry of the national Tea Party groups) released a statement calling for the firing of the head of the state Republican party.

The Tea Party Express (website: is joining with a coalition of Delaware Republicans and conservative activists in calling for the immediate resignation or termination of Delaware Republican Party Chairman, Tom Ross.

"Tom Ross must resign within the next 24 hours or face immediate termination," declared Amy Kremer, Chairman of the Tea Party Express.

"As Mike Castle's chief advocate, Mr. Ross has trashed Republican candidates, beliefs and principles, and shown a complete lack of character or integrity. He is a walking disaster who has brought irreparable harm to the Republican Party.

"Can you imagine the mess Tom Ross will have created when he is Delaware Republican Party Chairman on Tuesday night when Christine O'Donnell becomes the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate? It's unacceptable, and Tom Ross must quit or be fired immediately.

"Mike Castle should be ashamed of himself for conspiring with Mr. Ross to attack fellow Republicans and conservative activists, all in the process of dishonoring the principles of the Republican Party platform that he was entrusted to represent and is supposed to advocate for," Kremer said.

You can read the rest here.

  • DougJ adds:
    I almost feel bad rooting against Castle, because I do respect his record of public service and because O’Donnell’s “unmanly” attacks were shameful, but the entertainment potential here if off the charts.

Adam Serwer: Forbes Embraces Birtherism Lite.

Sometimes it's best to think of racism as intellectual laziness. That is, it reflects a failure to evaluate people for who they actually are, because its easier to slip them into a familiar, predetermined category that doesn't upset other related conclusions a person might have come to as a result. For whatever reason, elements of the right have chosen not to evaluate Barack Obama based on his actions or his policies, but through the kind of post-modern literary interpretation that wouldn't make it through the vetting process of a freshman bong circle at Wesleyan. In these retellings of Obama's personal history, the president's life is an epic, Marxist, sinister version of a Joseph Campbell style heroic journey, with its hero ultimately falling, like Anakin Skywalker, to the dark side of the force.

Emerging from his sinecure as president of a small religious college in New York, Dinesh D'Souza, who has been laundering the racism of the right through an "intellectual" filter since his days at Dartmouth, gets back to where his career began. In an essay for Forbes, he concludes that the animating philosophy of the president is "Kenyan anti-colonialism." The purpose of the essay is to synthesize the most idiotic conservative criticisms of Obama into one handy term:

It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying. From a very young age and through his formative years, Obama learned to see America as a force for global domination and destruction. He came to view America's military as an instrument of neocolonial occupation. He adopted his father's position that capitalism and free markets are code words for economic plunder. Obama grew to perceive the rich as an oppressive class, a kind of neocolonial power within America. In his worldview, profits are a measure of how effectively you have ripped off the rest of society, and America's power in the world is a measure of how selfishly it consumes the globe's resources and how ruthlessly it bullies and dominates the rest of the planet.

For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the neocolonialism out of America and the West. And here is where our anticolonial understanding of Obama really takes off, because it provides a vital key to explaining not only his major policy actions but also the little details that no other theory can adequately account for.

This is birtherism with big words. This is the witchdoctor sign without photoshop, WorldNetDaily without the exclamation points. D'Souza doesn't need to stare at Obama's birth certificate for hours to come to the same conclusion as the birthers, which is that the president is a foreigner. But neither is "Kenyan anti-colonialism" a superficial term. At once, it engages all the racialized elements of the conservative critique of Obama--not just that having an African father means he isn't really an American, but that his inner life consists of a deep anger towards white people, and the office of the presidency is merely the means to secure a collective payback. It also manages to nod in the direction of another conservative racist meme, that having a black president makes the United States somehow analagous to African third-world countries run by bloodthirsty despots. Newt Gingrich took a break from his clownish Islamophobia this weekend to embrace this idiocy, and drew a much harsher reaction, in part because we're still so silly about race in this country that we're still disarmed when a person of color makes a blatantly racist argument.

Some people have already asked how an American like D'Souza disparages anti-colonialism, but it's simple really: African self-determination is seen by many in the West, particularly conservatives, as a tragic in comparison to the idealized "stability" of white rule. "Kenyan anti-colonialism" manages to say at once, Obama is a black, incompetent despot who is out for revenge against whites, and who will destroy the country in the process. This is profoundly racist on its face. Yet it's the cover story in Forbes magazine.

Of course, it isn't just racist, but idiotic. D'Souza's grasp of policy is shallow as a puddle of piss in a dark alley, but it's safe to say that someone self-identifying as an "anti-colonialist" would not be escalating an American war in central Asia or claiming the authority to use the entire planet as a target range for flying robots armed with cruise missiles.

If Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist for supporting financial regulation, than Scott Brown is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. If Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist for supporting the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, then Michael Bloomberg is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. If Obama is a Kenyan anti-Colonialist for supporting health care insurance reform, then Ben Nelson is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. The Center for American Progress is a Kenyan anti-colonialist think tank, MoveOn is a Kenyan anti-colonialist advocacy organization, and Peter Orszag is a Kenyan anti-colonialist intellectual.

All of which to say is there's no need to parse the ethnic origins or political philosophies of Obama's parents to understand the ideology of Barack Obama. He is a center-left Democrat who supports mainstream Democratic policies. But some conservatives don't want to talk about policy. They are unable to engage an argument with liberalism on substantive terms, they know only argument by epithet. They want to talk about the fact that our blackety black president is blackety black. It has been two years since a black man was elected president of the United States, and for a group of conservatives clinging to their cultural superiority, this was a moment of apocalyptic existential crisis, a moment that refuted all they had come to know and understand about themselves, about black people, and about this country. D'Souza is writing for them, the same kind of audience he has always written for.

Sully: Quote For The Day

"If Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist for supporting financial regulation, than Scott Brown is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. If Obama is a Kenyan anti-colonialist for supporting the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero, then Michael Bloomberg is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. If Obama is a Kenyan anti-Colonialist for supporting health care insurance reform, then Ben Nelson is a Kenyan anti-colonialist. The Center for American Progress is a Kenyan anti-colonialist think tank, MoveOn is a Kenyan anti-colonialist advocacy organization, and Peter Orszag is a Kenyan anti-colonialist intellectual," - Adam Serwer.

For that matter, if Obama wants to return to Clinton-era tax rates, does that make Clinton a Kenyan anti-colonialist? If Obama wants access to private health-care insurance, while Richard Nixon backed a far more expansive program, does that make Nixon a Ugandan Marxist? Once you unpack all this, especially when you consider the multiple crises that Obama had to handle when he came to office - and the extraordinary moderation he has shown throughout (infuriating those to his left) - you realize just how base this kind of "critique" is.

It is pure white cultural identity politics - now touted by a man who once made a mini-career by attacking identity politics. And it is on the cover of fricking Forbes! And fully endorsed by Newt Gingrich.

I suspected that on the right, things would get much worse before they got any better. I under-estimated the plunge toward nihilism and hate.

Sully: Quote For The Day II

"Overreaction is the Terrorist’s Friend: Even in major cases like this, the terrorist’s real weapon is fear and hysteria. Overreacting will play into their hands," - Glenn Reynolds, September 11, 2001.

Watching Instapundit's descent through those years to his current position is a poignant example of how our emotions have destroyed our reason in the years since. I do not exempt myself from this. But I have tried to regain some perspective and make amends for some of my over-reaction.

And yet now, especially, that unreason seems to have taken an almost pathological turn. It is as if America is intent on destroying itself, its civil society, its fiscal future, and its next generation in an endless fit of mutual recrimination, neurotic nationalism, and religious division.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Three from Steve.

Three from Steven Benen.

Obama Derangement Syndrome can take some strange people to some strange places. Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), in all his pseudo-intellectual glory, has become so enveloped in his own garbage, he appears to have suffered some kind of severe head trauma.

Gingrich's trip to Crazy Town began quite a while, but in recent months, his unbridled hatred of the president has pushed him to the point of sputtering, incoherent rage. Earlier in this summer, Gingrich insisted that Obama and his allies represent "as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."

Ol' Newt seems to be getting more worked up as time goes on.

Citing a recent Forbes article by Dinesh D'Souza, former House speaker Newt Gingrich tells National Review Online that President Obama may follow a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview.

Gingrich says that D'Souza has made a "stunning insight" into Obama's behavior -- the "most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama."

"What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?" Gingrich asks. "That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior."

"This is a person who is fundamentally out of touch with how the world works, who happened to have played a wonderful con, as a result of which he is now president," Gingrich tells us.

"I think he worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating -- none of which was true," Gingrich continues. "In the Alinksy tradition, he was being the person he needed to be in order to achieve the position he needed to achieve . . . He was authentically dishonest."

Gingrich appears to have been inspired by D'Souza, perhaps best known for writing an entire book arguing that terrorists are right about the problems with American culture. Osama bin Laden and other dangerous Islamic radicals believe the U.S. is too secular, too permissive, too diverse, too free, and too tolerant -- and D'Souza concluded that they're absolutely correct. Indeed, D'Souza went so far as to argue that liberal Americans are at least partially to blame for 9/11 -- the left invited the attacks by reinforcing the beliefs al Qaeda had about the United States.

In one particularly memorable episode of "The Colbert Report," D'Souza conceded that he finds some of the critiques from radical, anti-American extremists persuasive.

And now that D'Souza has crafted some new twisted theory -- the president, the argument goes, is executing an anti-colonial agenda pushed by his father -- Gingrich's twisted little mind has concluded that the "Kenyan, anti-colonial" worldview makes perfect sense.

I care about this, not because Gingrich is a lunatic, but because Republicans and the media establishment continue to treat Gingrich as a sane, credible visionary. I think it's fair to say most reasonable people would charitably describe his attacks on America's leaders as idiocy, but the problem is, it won't make any difference.

Given the way the political establishment is "wired" for Republicans, there simply aren't any consequences for this kind of abject stupidity. In the first year of the Obama administration, the most frequent guest on "Meet the Press" was Newt Gingrich. Despite having left office more than a decade ago in disgrace, he remains a leading figure welcome in polite society.

There's literally nothing the man can say to lose his platform to spew nonsense.
Depending on one's perspective, there was very likely an event honoring the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks yesterday offering an appealing message. There was, for example, a ceremony at the Pentagon, where President Obama appealed to American ideals.

"[T]he highest honor we can pay those we lost, indeed our greatest weapon in this ongoing war, is to do what our adversaries fear the most -- to stay true to who we are, as Americans; to renew our sense of common purpose; to say that we define the character of our country, and we will not let the acts of some small band of murderers who slaughter the innocent and cower in caves distort who we are. [...]

"Those who attacked us sought to demoralize us, divide us, to deprive us of the very unity, the very ideals, that make America America -- those qualities that have made us a beacon of freedom and hope to billions around the world. Today we declare once more we will never hand them that victory. As Americans, we will keep alive the virtues and values that make us who we are and who we must always be.

"For our cause is just. Our spirit is strong. Our resolve is unwavering."

About 200 miles north, one could hear a very different message.

In downtown Manhattan today, about 1,500 people gathered to protest the planned Park51 Islamic center near Ground Zero. Speakers assured the crowd that it's not that they're intolerant, because this isn't about tolerance, exactly -- but so what if it is, because Islam is intolerant? Or something. [...]

Ralliers carried signs like "No Bloomosque, No Obamosque, No Victory Mosque," and frequently broke out into chants of "No more mosque," "No-Bama," and even "USA."

Unhinged conservatives will do what unhinged conservatives do, and their pro-hate message is neither new nor interesting. What did some relevant, however, was just how small the size of the right-wing crowd turned out to be. Jillian Rayfield's TPM report quoted local law enforcement, which put the figure at 1,500. The NYT had a slightly higher estimate at 2,000. (When Fox News tells viewers 17 gajillion people were there, please be skeptical.)

As offensive as the rally was, the modest turnout is heartening. Organizers intended to bus people in from across the country, to take a bold stand on 9/11 against Muslims, the White House, religious liberty, and the conversion of closed clothing stores. Organizers also had plenty of leading hateful figures speaking to attendees, to help boost attendance.

And in the largest city in the country, they managed to maybe pull 2,000 people together.

John Boehner first gained national notoriety in 1996, when the chain-smoking conservative congressman, shortly before a key vote, walked the House floor distributing checks from tobacco industry lobbyists. Boehner, an up-and-coming member of the GOP leadership at the time, later acknowledged that his money-distribution scheme didn't "look good."

But that didn't stop the Ohio Republican from forging close, almost inseparable, connections to Washington's lobbyists. As Americans just start getting to know the dim-witted man who's likely to be the next House Speaker, perhaps no trait is more important to Boehner's persona than his love of lobbyists.

He maintains especially tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation's biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R. J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS.

They have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaigns, provided him with rides on their corporate jets, socialized with him at luxury golf resorts and waterfront bashes and are now leading fund-raising efforts for his Boehner for Speaker campaign, which is soliciting checks of up to $37,800 each, the maximum allowed.

To a certain extent, this isn't new.. When Congress worked on a jobs bill, Boehner and congressional Republicans huddled with corporate lobbyists. When work on Wall Street reform got underway, Boehner and congressional Republicans huddled with industry lobbyists. When Congress worked on health care reform, Boehner and congressional Republicans huddled with insurance lobbyists. When an energy/climate bill started advancing, Republicans huddled with energy lobbyists.

But arguably no one in Washington better epitomizes this borderline-caricature than Boehner -- who literally meets in smoke-filled rooms to scheme with powerful lobbyists.

While many lawmakers in each party have networks of donors, lobbyists and former aides who now represent corporate interests, Mr. Boehner's ties seem especially deep. His clique of friends and current and former staff members even has a nickname on Capitol Hill, Boehner Land. The members of this inner circle said their association with Mr. Boehner translates into open access to him and his staff.

It's the kind of scenario Americans claim not to like -- a powerful politician has put together a network of lobbyists, some of whom are his former aides, who reward him with campaign cash. The politician in turn gives them unrivaled access and does their bidding on the Hill. The whole gang likes to golf, smoke, and drink together, and dash off to beautiful locales on corporate jets.

It just screams "man of the people," doesn't it?

There's a very real chance that voters aren't bothered by any of this. For all the faux-populism of Tea Partiers and alleged disgust throughout the electorate for business as usual, many Americans seem to have developed quite a tolerance for the blurred line between politicians and lobbyists. In Indiana, I thought Dan Coats (R) might have trouble running for the Senate as a corporate lobbyist, but voters don't seem to care. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) hopes to parlay his career as a corporate lobbyist into a likely presidential campaign, and few seem to find the idea silly.

Perhaps it's just a sign of the times, then, that the congressman who serves as King of Boehner Land would become Speaker of the House at a time when Americans at least pretend to want the opposite.