Saturday, February 28, 2009

Could This Be True?

Now I personally felt like Rick Santelli was full of shit with his rant on CNBC and I was kind of amazed that some how it picked up so much steam. But is it really in the realm of possibility that it might have been a set up all along? Now I know the running joke is every guy says he reads playboy for the articles, but to be sure this time they have something that we might need to consider.

But was Santelli’s rant really so spontaneous? How did a minor-league TV figure, whose contract with CNBC is due this summer, get so quickly launched into a nationwide rightwing blog sensation? Why were there so many sites and organizations online and live within minutes or hours after his rant, leading to a nationwide protest just a week after his rant?

What hasn’t been reported until now is evidence linking Santelli’s “tea party” rant with some very familiar names in the Republican rightwing machine, from PR operatives who specialize in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns (called “astroturfing”) to bigwig politicians and notorious billionaire funders. As veteran Russia reporters, both of us spent years watching the Kremlin use fake grassroots movements to influence and control the political landscape. To us, the uncanny speed and direction the movement took and the players involved in promoting it had a strangely forced quality to it. If it seemed scripted, that's because it was.

What we discovered is that Santelli’s “rant” was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a “Chicago Tea Party” was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, one in which Santelli served as a frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for the some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society.

As you read this, Big Business is pouring tens of millions of dollars into their media machines in order to destroy just about every economic campaign promise Obama has made, as reported recently in the
Wall Street Journal. At stake isn’t the little guy’s fight against big government, as Santelli and his bot-supporters claim, but rather the “upper 2 percent”’s war to protect their wealth from the Obama Adminstration’s economic plans. When this Santelli “grassroots” campaign is peeled open, what’s revealed is a glimpse of what is ahead and what is bound to be a hallmark of his presidency.

snip

Within hours of Santelli's rant, a website called ChicagoTeaParty.com sprang to life. Essentially inactive until that day, it now featured a YouTube video of Santelli’s “tea party” rant and billed itself as the official home of the Chicago Tea Party. The domain was registered in August, 2008 by Zack Christenson, a dweeby Twitter Republican and producer for a popular Chicago rightwing radio host Milt Rosenberg—a familiar name to Obama campaign people. Last August, Rosenberg, who looks like Martin Short's Irving Cohen character, caused an outcry when he interviewed Stanley Kurtz, the conservative writer who first "exposed" a personal link between Obama and former Weather Undergound leader Bill Ayers. As a result of Rosenberg’s radio interview, the Ayers story was given a major push through the Republican media echo chamber, culminating in Sarah Palin’s accusation that Obama was “palling around with terrorists.” That Rosenberg’s producer owns the “chicagoteaparty.com” site is already weird—but what’s even stranger is that he first bought the domain last August, right around the time of Rosenburg’s launch of the “Obama is a terrorist” campaign. It’s as if they held this “Chicago tea party” campaign in reserve, like a sleeper-site. Which is exactly what it was.

ChicagoTeaParty.com was just one part of a larger network of Republican sleeper-cell-blogs set up over the course of the past few months, all of them tied to a shady rightwing advocacy group coincidentally named the
“Sam Adams Alliance,” whose backers have until now been kept hidden from public. Cached google records that we discovered show that the Sam Adams Alliance took pains to scrub its deep links to the Koch family money as well as the fake-grassroots “tea party” protests going on today. All of these roads ultimately lead back to a more notorious rightwing advocacy group, FreedomWorks, a powerful PR organization headed by former Republican House Majority leader Dick Armey and funded by Koch money.

On the same day as Santelli's rant, February 19, another site called Officialchicagoteaparty.com went live. This site was registered to Eric Odom, who turned out to be a veteran Republican new media operative specializing in imitation-grassroots PR campaigns. Last summer, Odom organized a twitter-led campaign centered around DontGo.com to pressure Congress and Nancy Pelosi to pass the offshore oil drilling bill, something that would greatly benefit Koch Industries, a major player in oil and gas. Now, six months later,
Odom's DontGo movement was resurrected to play a central role in promoting the "tea party" movement.Up until last month, Odom was officially listed as the “new media coordinator” for the Sam Adams Alliance, a well-funded libertarian activist organization based in Chicago that was set up only recently. Samuel Adams the historical figure was famous for inspiring and leading the Boston Tea Party—so when the PR people from the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance abruptly leave in order to run Santelli’s “Chicago Tea Party,” you know it wasn’t spontaneous. Odom certainly doesn’t want people to know about the link: his name was scrubbed from the Sam Adams Alliance website recently, strongly suggesting that they wanted to cover their tracks. Thanks to google caching, you can see the SAA’s before-after scrubbing.

Even the Sam Adams’ January 31 announcement that Odom’s fake-grassroots group was “no longer sponsored by the Alliance” was shortly afterwards
scrubbed.

But it’s the Alliance’s scrubbing of their link to Koch that is most telling. A cached page, erased on February 16, just three days before Santelli’s rant, shows that the Alliance also wanted to cover up its ties to the Koch family. The
missing link was an announcement that students interested in applying for internships to the Sam Adams Alliance could also apply through the “Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow Program” through the Institute for Humane Studies, a Koch-funded rightwing institute designed to scout and nurture future leaders of corporate libertarian ideology. The top two board directors at the Sam Adams Alliance include two figures with deep ties to Koch-funded programs: Eric O’Keefe, who previously served in Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies and the Club For Growth; and Joseph Lehman, a former communications VP at Koch’s Cato Institute.

All of these are ultimately linked up to Koch’s Freedom Works mega-beast. Freedomworks.org has drawn fire in the past for using fake grassroots internet campaigns, called “astroturfing,” to push for pet Koch projects such as privatizing social security. A New York Times
investigation in 2005 revealed that a “regular single mom” paraded by Bush’s White House to advocate for privatizing social security was in fact FreedomWorks’ Iowa state director. The woman, Sandra Jacques, also fronted another Iowa fake-grassroots group called “For Our Grandchildren,” even though privatizing social security was really “For Koch And Wall Street Fat Cats.”

If you log into
FreedomWorks.org today, its home page features a large photo of Rick Santelli pointing at the viewer like Uncle Sam, with the words: “Are you with Rick? We Are. Click here to learn more.”

FreedomWorks, along with scores of shady front organizations which don’t have to disclose their sponsors thanks to their 501 (c)(3) status, has been at the heart of today’s supposed grassroots, nonpartisan “tea party” protests across the country, supposedly fueled by scores of websites which masquerade as amateur/spontaneous projects, but are suspiciously well-crafted and surprisingly well-written. One slick site pushing the tea parties, Right.org claims, “Right.org is a grassroots online community created by a few friends who were outraged by the bailouts. So we gathered some talent and money and built this site. Please tell your friends, and if you have suggestions for improving it, please let us know. Respectfully, Evan and Duncan.” But funny enough, these regular guys are offering a $27,000 prize for an “anti-bailout video competition.” Who are Evan and Duncan? Do they even really exist?

Even Facebook pages dedicated to a specific city "tea party" events, supposedly written by people connected only by a common emotion, obviously conformed to the same style. It was as if they were part of a multi-pronged advertising campaign planned out by a professional PR company. Yet, on the surface, they pretended to have no connection. The various sites set up their own Twitter feeds and Facebook pages dedicated to the Chicago Tea Party movement. And all of them linked to one another, using it as evidence that a decentralized, viral movement was already afoot. It wasn't about partisanship; it was about real emotions coming straight from real people.



Now honestly I am not in the tin foil hat crowd and I am not a big believer in conspiracy theories but damn, this is explosive stuff. It would seem that at the least Santelli needs to go on the record and say its not true because otherwise what are we really to believe. Even if he refutes the article you have to admit that Playboy did a damn good job of documenting all of their allegations and connecting the dots. Now I am not ready to jump in head first and say Playboy is totally right but I am saying this story deserves attention from the mainstream media. It will be interesting to see if it gets it.


(h/t TimF via ritholtz)

One Benefit Of CPAC

I have been railing about CPAC for the last few days basically because it exposes the major double standard that the mainstream media has for conservatives as opposed to liberals and progressives. There isn't a chance in hell that you could stage a liberal/progressive version of CPAC without the media trying to tear it down and delegitimize it. They already refer to MoveOn and dailykos as hate groups with no basis whatsoever to back up their claims. But let some of the biggest spewers of hate get on the microphone at CPAC and either the media won't report it or if they do they will act like its no big deal.

But there is a redeeming benefit of CPAC and that is the echo chamber that it creates for most of the Republican Party. They go there and here the same memes over and over again and basically they convince themselves that they are on the right track, election results be damned. You would think that you would hear a lot of "new" ideas coming out of CPAC this year but instead what do you get? A lot of the same talking points trotted out by John McCain's EPIC FAIL of a campaign as if a few months will make them sound a little bit scarier. The fact that they are being cheered on by their conservative following pretty much ensures that they will keep on doing what they have always done and they will get their asses handed to them once again next year.

What I really hope is that while they are at CPAC nobody points to this New York Times article. The truth is they would probably all just claim its evidence of the Grey Lady's librul bias anyway but I personally want their echo chamber to resonate from the hills so all of the Republicans in Congress and those contemplating a Presidential race in 2012 will be reassured of the efficacy of their attacks. To quote the article.

Americans identifying themselves as Democrats outnumber those who say they are Republicans by 10 percentage points, the largest gap in party identification in 24 years.

The gap has widened significantly since President George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, when it was a mere 3 percentage points. But by the time Mr. Bush left office in January, less than a quarter of Americans approved of his performance.

These days, 38 percent of Americans say they are Democrats, 28 percent call themselves Republicans, and another 29 percent identify as independents, according to an average of national polls conducted last year by The New York Times and CBS News.


Shhhh. Don't tell these fools that they are doing it wrong. Just let them keep talking while the rest of the country passes them by.


(h/t Instaputz)

Rush Rules Their World

Matt Drudge has been supplanted! Its official, Rush Limbaugh has been crowned the leader of the Republican Party.


Its Sebelius For HHS Secretary

An annoucement is supposed to come on Monday that President Obama is naming Kansas Goverenor Kathleen Sebelius as his Secretary of Health and Human Services according to MSNBC.

What If This Was Your Daughter?

At some point police officers are going to have to fear the laws they are sworn to uphold just as much as the criminals if we are ever going to put an end to this kind of brutatlity.

Killing Another Zombie Republican Lie

Only 2% of small businesses will be effected by President Obama's tax increase on the wealthy. As a rule of thumb its much easier just to disbelieve everything Republicans say and then wait to see them prove it. Giving them the benefit of doubt just requires too much work doing the fact checking when in the end it turns out they are just lying again anyway.

Knuckle Up

President Obama calls out the special interests in his weekly YouTube address, and tells them to get ready for a fight over his new budget. Good stuff.

Left Behind

I whole heartedly admit to being a fan of the "Left Behind" series of books. For those of you familiar with them I will share a personal aside. I was in a book store in the airport looking for something to read when one of the Left Behind books caught my eye. It happened to be like the third or fourth book in the series and the bookstore employee noticing me checking out the book inquired as to whether or not I had read the previous books. When I said no, the employee directed me toward the first book and give them all a ringing endorsement. So I bought that first book then set off to wait for my plane. For those who have read that first book and who realize what happens within the first few chapters I am sure you see the irony of me reading the book on an airplane. Yet and still I was hooked and eventually I ended up being one of the tens of millions of people who bought the books and read every single one in the series.

Now during the Presiential campaign I kept hearing about this fringe element of the country who felt that then Senator Obama was the anti-christ. I kind of laughed it off until I heard that some of these people were basing that assumption on the Left Behind books. Now at that time and up until now I never realized that one of the co authors of the books, Jerry Jenkins, helped found the religious right and is a long time conservative activist. I kinda figured that as religious folks that both authors might be Republicans but again I didn't think it that big of a deal. Well as it turns out that while not endorsing President Obama as the anti-christ Mr Jenkins does his fair share of fear mongering about him by tossing the socialism cannard out with alarming frequency. I am terribly dissappointed to see him engaging in this kind of hyperbole but this is yet another reason why I appreciate Rachel Maddow's show. In all of this time she is the first person that I know of who has even broached the subject with these two authors and she did a great job of engaging in a tough interview without offending the interviewees.



Friday, February 27, 2009

Hanging Limbaugh Around Their Necks

This ad is a beautiful thing. Evidently somebody in Washington sees the wisdom in linking the Republican party to Rush Limbaugh as often as they can. I fully endorse this effort and I hope they keep it up!




The Stenographers At Politico Strike Again

I usually think of Ben Smith as being a little bit better than most of his colleagues at Politico, but today just goes to show that even he isn't above allowing himselt to be used by the GOP either. Sad but not really surprising.

You Have Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me

So this is Michael Steele's idea of the GOP going "beyond cutting edge"? Heh

As he concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — the event's moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”

“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.



This will not end well folks.

Why Is The Media Covering CPAC?

I want to know why it is that when MoveOn or DailyKos has an event the media tries to marginalize them. But when you have hate filled speeches and misinformation disemenated at CPAC it's seen as newsworthy. I have watched MSNBC all this morning and have yet to report about the guy at CPAC who inferred that President Obama is a communist and wasn't born in this country nor have I seen any report about John Bolton joking about a nuke going off in Chicago. But yet about every 15 minutes they bring up CPAC as if its some kind of legitimate high brow get together. Just check out the clown that is Joe The Plumber at CPAC talking about shooting people for criticising the troops. Notice the veiled threat at members of Congress for doing their damn job. Liberal media bias my ass!

A Little Trip Down Memory Lane

Yesterday President Obama presented his budget to the members of Congress and the media and suddenly a narrative emerged. You see President Obama asserted earlier in the week that he wants to halve the deficit by the end of his first term. So some "genuises" who took a look at the budget decided to call President Obama out because they said he was counting money that will be saved in Iraq after our withdrawal as part of his spending reductions. "It was going to happen anyway" they said as if it was preordained that no matter who won the election we were going to withdraw from Iraq in the next two years. Now this is the height of revisionist history and totally dismisses everything that was said by both then President Bush and then candidate John McCain on the campaign trail about how "dangerous" it would be to withdraw from Iraq and how "naive" then Senator Obama was to even entertain the thought. So I thought we might want to take a little stroll down memory lane to refresh these idiots' memories.


John McCain June 2 2008:

"It's worth recalling that America's progress in Iraq is the direct result of the new strategy that Senator Obama opposed. It was the strategy he predicted would fail, when he voted cut off funds for our forces in Iraq," McCain said.

"He now says he intends to withdraw combat troops from Iraq -- one to two brigades per month until they are all removed. ... This course would surely result in a catastrophe."


John McCainMay 16, 2008

Earlier, McCain bowed to anti-war sentiment by setting 2013 as the date for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, in an attempt to boost his chances of winning the White House. He said he expected the war to be over by that date. The comment marked a U-turn for McCain, who had based his run for the White House on his willingness to keep US forces in Iraq for up to 100 years.

McCain's retreat came despite having berated his Democratic rivals for the last 12 months for demanding a firm withdrawal date from Iraq, saying it would lead to chaos and genocide. But his strong support for keeping US troops in Iraq has proved costly for his campaign, with feelings against the war running as high as 63% in a USA Today-Gallup poll last month.



John McCain July 23, 2008

"General Petraeus has been in charge of this incredible, incredible reversal of fortunes in Iraq has said it would be a dangerous course," McCain told Wright. "The future of young Americans who are at stake here. Because if we do what he wants to do, which is withdraw -- and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a certain date has said that it's very dangerous, and even in Senator Obama's own admission we could have to go back -- then that's dangerous for the future of America. And he should know better if he wants to be commander in chief, and certainly behave differently as far as this, our presence and our strategy in Iraq."



President Bush April 5, 2007

Bush has said he will veto any bill that includes a timetable for withdrawal, arguing that it will make it impossible for his military plan to succeed.

“Just as the strategy is starting to make inroads, a narrow majority in the Congress passed legislation they knew all along I would not accept,” he said at Ft. Irwin. The bills pushed by the Democrats “impose an artificial deadline for withdrawal from Iraq. Their bills substitute the judgment of Washington politicians for the judgment of our military commanders.”


John McCain July 22, 2008

Yet McCain has decided to remain with a position that entails remaining in Iraq despite the expressed wishes of the Iraqi government. His campaign blogger, Michael Goldfarb, wrote on Monday that the Obama-Maliki withdrawal plan was “an unconditional timeline we reject not only as being dangerous but unfeasible.” In an interview Monday morning with Meredith Viera, McCain himself suggested that he knew what Maliki wanted better than Maliki himself did: “I have been there too many times. I’ve met too many times with him, and I know what they want.”



George Bush May 2, 2007

"I believe setting a deadline for a withdrawal would demoralise the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments," he said in a televised speech.



President Bush July 17, 2008

President George W. Bush has said Iraq wanted to include an "aspirational goal" for the departure of most foreign troops there in any agreement authorizing future U.S. operations, but he reiterated his opposition to what he called "an artificial timetable for withdrawal."

His remarks Tuesday reflected growing doubt within the administration that the United States could negotiate an agreement that would clear the way for U.S. troops to operate in Iraq for many years. Bush and the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, had pledged to reach such an agreement last year.



President Bush August 27, 2008

The United States asked Iraq for permission to maintain a troop presence there to 2015, but U.S. and Iraqi negotiators agreed to limit their authorization to 2011, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said.

"It was a U.S. proposal for the date which is 2015, and an Iraqi one which is 2010, then we agreed to make it 2011. Iraq has the right, if necessary, to extend the presence of these troops," Talabani said in an interview with al-Hurra television, a transcript of which was posted on his party's website on Wednesday.



John McCain April 8, 2008

Republican John McCain, chiding his Democratic opponents for promising a hasty withdrawal from Iraq, said today that it was “imprudent and dangerous” to leave the combat zone too quickly.


John McCain March 26, 2008

In a major address in California on foreign policy, the presumptive Republican nominee said, "It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible and premature withdrawal."


Now thankfully to a certain extent the Iraqi people made this all moot when they themselves called for a timeline to be in any new Status Of Forces Agreement and would not agree to sign on until they had one. But its just not credible to believe that John McCain wouldn't have tried to find a way to usurp that agreement had he been elected. It just defies logic to make that leap. So for the people who want to play gotcha journalism and politics with this part of President Obama's budget please stop insulting the American peoples' intelligence as if we don't remember. Part of the reason why John McCain didn't get elected is because nobody trusted him to withdraw from Iraq so this isn't a small thing that you can try to sneak by us. I know its hard to give President Obama props for keeping his campaign promise but this is one time you are just going to have to grin and bear it. He is walking the walk just like he talked the talk and you people need to recognize.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More GOP WEAKSAUCE

This time its the whole "tattoo removal provision in the omnibus bill is pork" meme. Somehow I bet the reformed gang bangers who the program is set up for so they can get jobs and become productive members of society would beg to differ. As would their probation officers and all manner of law enforcement types. But at least it sounds funny right guys?


Fuckin Losers

Blame It On The Goose, Gotcha Feelin Loose

Hot new one from Jamie Foxx

Blame It On The Alcohol

Damn That Was Fast

If Bobby Jindal doesn't move fast to counter the comedy momentum he is going to become a national joke just like Sarah Palin.

Why Reid Should Turn Specter

If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hasn't gone to Republican Senator Arlen Specter and asked him to cross the aisle and caucus with the Democrats he should have his head examined. Right now you have RNC Chairman Michael Steele threatening to back a to be named later primary challenger to Specter next year because of his vote on the stimulus bill and you have Republicans in Pennsylvania jeering him during an appearance. Now don't get me wrong, I don't believe for one second that it would be an easy sell but if we could get Specter to come over and bring the Democrats a supermajority (assuming Franken gets seated at some point) it would be well worth the effort.

Arlen Specter does not fit in with the majority of the members of his party in the Congress. He isn't real big on spouting off the false talking points of the rest of his party and generally when he opposes something its for real, principled reasons. He is pro life and he also supports civil unions which is more than you can say for some of the Democrats in the Senate right now. He also doesn't go with the flow when his conscious tells him not to. I won't resort to saying he is all mavericky and stuff but by in large Specter calls it like he sees it. This is now heresy in the Republican Party and he is being shunned by many in his own caucus because of it. The truth is if he holds true to form this will only get worse as time goes on. Now I firmly believe that Senator Spector wants at least one more term as Senator, and thats going to be a hard row to hoe if he has to defeat a strong opponent in the Republican primary. And even if he somehow survives that challenge he would still have to beat out a Democrat in a state that President Obama won by quite a good margin. So if I were Harry Reid my proposal would be two fold.

First I would promise Spector that as an incumbent Democrat he would be fully supported by the DCCC as well as the Democratic Leadership in Congress. This would help to assure him that he would have no problem in a Democratic primary. Hell if he is going to be the 60th vote for cloture for the next two years I would imagine that President Obama would even commit to campaigning for him. So with a wink and a nod Reid could effectively guarantee Spector another term in office.

The second thing I would do is promise him that he will keep his seniority and he will be in line for a plum chairmanship post during the next session of Congress if not sooner. If you can do it for Joe Lieberman surely you can do it for Spector as well.

Now honestly I don't think this would be all that controversial and the upside far out weighs any potential negatives. Before anyone says it, yes I know that Spector isn't a dyed in the wool progressive and yes I know that his voting record is a mixed bag. But I will tell you this much, if we can have that asshole Ben Nelson in the Democratic caucus I would think we could allow room for Arlen Specter. Especially if it moves progressive legislation through the Senate without getting it watered down like the stimulus bill. What does Harry Reid have to lose? If he isn't at least considering this option I think Senator Reid deserves to be fired from his post as Majority Leader.

Of course I think he should be fired regardless.

What say you?

Republicans LOVE Earmarks

The GOP, with the help of some sorry assed lazy journalists, is now trying to sell the omninbus spending bill which passed the House yesterday as a porkladen spending bill full of earmarks. But you see there is an interesting fact about that omnibus bill, the Republicans contributed 40% of the earmarks. When you think about it thats almost precisely their ration in both the House and the Senate. Its also of note that all of the earmarks combined make up only about 1% of the whole bill. Another little fact that you won't hear much is that 153 Republicans members of the House that voted against President Obama's stimulus bill, voted FOR the omnibus bill. Let that sink in for a minute. The House Republicans who claimed they were voting against the stimulus bill meant to get our economy going because of "fiscal responsiblity", just voted en masse to vote FOR a bill that they claim is full of pork and earmarks. Hypocrisy is too nice a word for these idiots.

As an aside, this particular jackass in the media decided to link to this other particular dickhead's story purporting that President Obama had an earmark in the omnibus bill. There is only one eensy weensie wittle problem. Its simply not true. President Obama was just a co sponsor of a bill included in the omnibus bill which did not direct money to his home state of Illinois but to Indian lands inside the US for vocational education. But hey why use facts when it is so much more fun to just make up shit, right?

A Dumb Ass Move

You simply will not convince me that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be a better team next year without the leadership and ability of Derrick Brooks. If I were newly installed Head Coach Raheem Morris I would be very leery of letting go of the unquestioned leader of the team at a time when you are looking to turn around the franchise and get back to the playoffs. Don't get me wrong, losing Warrick Dunn and Ike Hilliard are going to hurt the team as well but Derrick Brooks is just in a class of his own. I am now more inclined to root against the team than for it and I can tell you right now that I am not the only one who feels that way here in Tampa.

Hero Gets Ticketed

When I read shit like this, it makes my blood boil.

DENVER – A good Samaritan who helped push three people out of the path of a pickup truck before being struck and injured has gotten a strange reward for his good deed: A jaywalking ticket.

Family members said 58-year-old bus driver Jim Moffett and another man were helping two elderly women cross a busy Denver street in a snowstorm when he was hit Friday night.

Moffett suffered bleeding in the brain, broken bones, a dislocated shoulder and a possible ruptured spleen. He was in serious but stable condition Wednesday.

The Colorado State Patrol issued the citation. Trooper Ryan Sullivan said that despite Moffett's intentions, jaywalking contributed to the accident.

Moffett had been driving his bus when the two women got off. In the interest of safety, he got out and, together with another passenger, helped the ladies cross.

Moffett's stepson, Ken McDonald, said the driver of the pickup plowed into his stepfather, but not before Moffett pushed the two women out of the way.


I guess the next time someone is put in that postion, they will just let the little old ladies walk across the street on their own. Then THEY can be the ones to get his by a truck but at least the good samaritan will keep their clean driving record. This is just ridiculous. However its another sign of the times. We penalize people nowadays for acting in an honorable, some would say heroic fashion. It is what it is.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All Jindal All The Time

This time he makes is debut on "Hypocrisy Watch"

Rushbo Tries To Protect His Investment In Jindal

Who didn't see this coming?

Bobby Jindal's EPIC FAIL

I will just let Rachel do the honors.


Spitting Hot Fiya

President Obama put on a masterful performance last night with his address to Congress. He hit all the right notes in a speech that drew praise over a wide spectrum of viewers. I don't know if there has been another Presidential speech in modern times that did such a good job of both putting forth the President's vision for the country while simultaneously pushing the opposition from the other party back into a corner that will make them look totally out of touch with the rest of America if they oppose it. I just want to pinpoint a few of the highlights from the speech for me.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:

We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.


This is the way he began the speech in an upbeat and determined voice projecting that America WILL come back and we WILL flourish again.

In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down.


This was a very good contrast. First he went through all of the things we have kicked down the can instead of addressing for the last 50 years. And then he drew a line in the sand and basically said enough is enough. It is now time to confront all of these issues and address them so our kids and their kids are not still faced with the same problems many years down the road.

I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family’s well-being. You should also know that the money you’ve deposited in banks across the country is safe; your insurance is secure; and you can rely on the continued operation of our financial system. That is not the source of concern.

The concern is that if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins.


This part of the speech served two purposes. First it engendered confidence in the banking system. He told America that hey your money is safe in the banks. Then he went on to explain what the REAL problem is. I think it was a great because there is a lot of uncertainty out there right now about what might happen and because of all of the bailouts and the market falling precipitously a lot of people have been concerned about putting their money in our banks. That leads to a vicious cycle where the banks are under capitalized because people aren't depositing their money anymore and in turn the banks can't lend because to the people who need loans. If the deposits go back up then the banks are on more solid footing and the credit market can come back which will lead to a turn around in the economy.

I understand that on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives banks bailouts with no strings attached, and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions. But such an approach won’t solve the problem. And our goal is to quicken the day when we re-start lending to the American people and American business and end this crisis once and for all.


This was a not so veiled shot at those in the media who use the stock market as a scorecard, Tweety I am looking at you. It also feeds into the populous anger over the greed and mismanagement on Wall Street. Again a very strong part of the speech.

But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job – our job – is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.


The President did a wonderful job here of seperating out the populous anger with the reality of the world that we live in. I thought it projected a sense of maturity about the overall situation. Basically he is saying, yes we are mad about all of this but we can't cut off our nose to spite our collective faces.

Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.

But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.

For history tells a different story. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.



Talk about reframing the conversation. Here President Obama gives the American people a history lesson which gives lie to the Republican talking point that the governement doesn't have a role in ensuring the prosperity of the country. He also acknowledges that everyone including himself will have to make sacrifices and compromises. This all factors in to convincing the American people that government activism at this time is not only wanted but needed because of the size of our many crisises.

As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.


I think this resonated well with blue collar America. We simply can not afford to walk away from an industry that we created. Making cars is as American as apple pie and the President did a good job of explaining why we need to do whatever it takes to ensure that the industry lives on in this country.

Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last thirty days than we have in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. And it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that is one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.

This budget builds on these reforms. It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform – a down-payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. It’s a commitment that’s paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue. And it’s a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.

Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.


I am sure this made many liberals and progressives and many in the center stand up and cheer last night. There has been much speculation in recent weeks that because of the economic problems that we face that the President would be slow to act on healthcare reform. This reaffirmed his committment to universal healthcare sooner rather than later and showed the country that he was serious about fixing our broken healthcare system.

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.


The line about young people dropping out of school would not just be quitting on themselves but also quitting on their country was OUTSTANDING! And then to transition to talking about raising the percentage of college graduates once again showed the boldness of his vision.This was the high point of the speech for me.

There is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children. And that is the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. With the deficit we inherited, the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down.


Again, just masterful. President Obama reassured the country especially those on the conservative end of the spectrum that he will tackle the ballooning deficit. But he also took the time out to remind everyone that the deficit was there waiting for him when he walked into the office. There will be many on the right who will try to blur this line so it was nice to see Obama giving a little bit of pushback.

Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules – and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.


Once again this denotes a clean break from the Bush way of doing things.


As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: we honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support. To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned.


President Obama did a lot to engender himself to the military with this part of his speech. By promising to increase their number, increase their pay, and expand their benefits he is giving them a clear sign that they have his unconditional support and that his administration will be military friendly. I imagine he made some converts in the rank and file of the military last night.

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

And if we do – if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, "something worthy to be remembered." Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.


This yet another call for bipartisanship directly aimed at his Republican counterparts. He will soon make those who oppose him look to the American people exactly like what they are, obstructionists. And he ended on a optomistic high not exhorting the members of Congress to join with him in doing "something worthy to be remembered"

I was optomistic going into watching this speech but he outperformed all of my expectation. This is going to be a springboard to rallying public support for the rest of President Obama's agenda. The interesting thing to see now is to see how the Republicans will respond. I won't even go into Bobby Jindal's EPIC FAIL last night besides that I am more concerned with actions than words anyway. How much longer will they ignore all of the opinion polls and set out to obstruct his agenda? I guess only time will tell. I can tell you one thing, at the rate that they are going next year could be another blood bath for the Republican Party


Sorry, had to delete video. Very frikkin annoying.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Deep Thought

President Obama = Republican Kryptonite

And The Truth Shall Set You Free

I was all ready to type up a post slamming my home state of Tennessee's Governor Phil Bredesen for him joining the chorus of his fellow Republican Governers in opposition to the money for unemployment in the stimulus bill (and don't get me wrong I am still pissed off about that) when I came across a quote in this article from the Chatanooga Times that made me change my mind. You see Bredesen messed around and told the truth after Governors Bobby Jindal and Mark Sanford held an impromptu news conference after meeting with President Obama yesterday with the rest of the governers around the country and trashed the stimulus bill. Here is what he had to say about that...

Gov. Bredesen took issue with some Republican governors who emerged from the National Governors Association meeting with Mr. Obama on Monday and criticized the stimulus package as wasteful, focusing mainly on the unemployment funding. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford led the criticism at an impromptu news conference outside the West Wing, as other governors looked on.

“I’m sorry the way this developed out here,” Gov. Bredesen said.
“The conversation with the governors of South Carolina and Louisiana in the room, I would say, were more supportive and more conciliatory about these things than they were in front of the cameras here.”


So when these two jackasses were in the same room with President Obama they were gracious and then when they left the meeting they decided to stab him in the back. That just goes to show that the Republicans are full of it when they come to this debate and it also goes to show that these two in particular are nothing but cowards. Next time try saying it to his face.


(h/t MY)

Unfortunate Titles

Title of a new post at Politico

Obama shouldn't do it his way


Results of new polling.

But 56 percent of those surveyed said Mr. Obama’s priority should be following the policies he proposed during the campaign last year, rather than working with Republicans.



PRESCIENCE FAIL

The Can't Have It Both Ways

This letter to Peter Orszag is a brilliant move by Senator Charles Schumer. By creating a situation where the stimulus funds are all or nothing he is taking away the Republican Goverenor's ability to rail against the stimulus bill while accepting more than 98% of the funds. Now all the pressure will be on Bobby Jindal, Mark Sanford and others to either take all of the money and STFU or reject the money to take a stand for their Presidential runs and face the wrath of their constituents. I wonder which route they will take...

As you know, Section 1607(a) of the economic recovery legislation provides that the Governor of each state must certify a request for stimulus funds before any money can flow. No language in this provision, however, permits the governor to selectively adopt some components of the bill while rejecting others. To allow such picking and choosing would, in effect, empower the governors with a line-item veto authority that President Obama himself did not possess at the time he signed the legislation. It would also undermine the overall success of the bill, as the components most singled out for criticism by these governors are among the most productive measures in terms of stimulating the economy.

For instance, at least two governors have proposed rejecting a program to expand unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Economists consistently rank unemployment insurance among the most efficient and cost-effective fiscal stimulus measures; by one frequently cited estimate, it provides an economic return of as high as $1.73 for every dollar invested. Thus, by denying this provision for their residents, these governors are not just depriving some of the neediest Americans of relief in a dire economy; they are undermining the overall stimulative impact of the package.

No one would dispute that these governors should be given the choice as to whether to accept the funds or not. But it should not be multiple choice. The composition of the package was rightly dictated by economic considerations; we should not let the implementation of the package be dictated by political

Thank God For FoxNews And YouTube

Here is why I am thanking God for FoxNews and YouTube, you see a lot of Republicans in leadership positions aren't very bright. For this reason I am advocating hearing them talk a lot more. The more people hear them, the more they realize just how batshit crazy they are. Well thanks to FoxNews they will always have a platform to spew as much as they want. And thanks to YouTube I don't have to watch any FoxNews shows to catch them saying something stupid.

Witness Michael Steele:



Now aside from his silly ass "I'm open to anything baby" quote Steele has just effectively backed himself into a corner. You see now he almost HAS to put up a primary challenge to both Senators Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter. If he doesn't do so you can bet your bottom dollar that the base of the Republican party is going to be livid. But here is the problem, if he DOES primary these Senators and his candidates get crushed he is going to get tossed out on his ass with no vaseline. Now I know some feel that Specter is vulnerable but I don't see him losing, and if you look at Olympia Snowe's history, primarying her is basically going to be a waste of funds. So now Steele has put himself in a no win situation early on his his reign as RNC chair. This will not end well for him folks.

And it couldn't have happened to a better person!

(h/t Greg Sargent)

The People Have Spoken

Glenzilla dishes on a new New York Times poll showing that Americans want President Obama to stick to his policies and conversely they want Republicans to get their asses on board.

Shortly thereafter, the NYT released a new poll (.pdf) which included findings showing what Americans think about "bipartisanship" -- and it is the exact opposite of what harmony fetishists continuously claim about Americans' supposed desire for "bipartisanship." Consider, first, this question:

Which do you think should be a higher priority right now for Barack Obama -- working in a bipartisan way with the Republicans in Congress or sticking to the policies he promised he would during the campaign?

Working bipartisan way -- 39%; Sticking to policies - 56%


snip

Which do you think should be a higher priority for Republicans in Congress right now -- working in a bipartisan way with Barack Obama or sticking to Republican policies?

Working bipartisan way - 79%; Sticking to policies: 17%


That's actually an amusing result: a huge majority of Americans want Congressional Republicans to be "bipartisan," but don't want Obama to be. Overwhelmingly, then, Americans favor "bipartisanship" only to the extent that it means that Republicans support Democratic policies and abandon their own.


Now to those paying attention know this already. It seems that its only the Villagers who are stuck on this "the Republicans are winning" meme. I for one thing the proliferations of liberal and progressive blogs that shine light on just how out of touch the Village is helps to quell these kinds of counterfactual claims. One can only wonder the impact that blogs could have had on the election back in the year 2000. Its so refreshing not to have to consume news though the Villager lens which distorts what all of America wants into their own percieved biases. If we only relied on mainstream media sources most of us would be convinced that the first month of President Obama's administration had been a disaster and not only that we would believe that most of Americans felt that way. Of course not all blogs are made equal so there are at times Villager mentality expressed on the interwebs, but at least the real information is out there on the good blogs for people to find. And the truth is all of the pushback from the MSM on bloggers is really just them realizing that their reign is now effectively over. The people no longer have to spoonfed what and how we are supposed to feel about our country and our leadership. That is a great step forward for our democracy.

More Bullshit From Politico

These guys are going to write themselves right out of relevancy

Monday, February 23, 2009

King Shuster

Thanks to David Shuster I might actually be able to stop watching Tweety everyday which is great news. When it comes to the past and historical context Tweety is pretty good, but when it comes to current events not so much and today was worse than usual. But I continue to watch him on the off chance he will have another Kevin James or Michele Bachmann moment. But now Shuster is PWNING biotches on a daily basis and he does so with a much greater grasp of what's going on in the here and now.

Witness Shuster smacking around Congressman Issa earlier today when Issa tried to bring out that debunked "Harry Reids's Train to Disneyworld" cannard. If I would have been Issa's corner man I would have threw in the towel. You can watch the whole thing but if you want to just go to the fireworks they start at around the 4:35 mark.




Now to add insult into injurt Shuster even tweeted about the incident with Issa.

Darryl Issa tried that silly talking point about a stimulus train from LA to Las Vegas. Bit mistake to try false claims on our show.


Shorter David Shuster:

Don't bring that weak shit up in here dawg!

Not All Republican Governers Are Fools

The Republican of Utah Governer, John Huntsman, basically told Jindal and Sanford to talk to the hand. He realizes that he actually is a representative of the citizens of his state not the wingnut fringe in his party and thus he is accepting the stimulus money as he should. The most ridiculous thing about this is Huntsman will probably be pilloried by his party for acting in a practical fashion while Jindal and Sanford will be put on a pedestal. I am wondering how many Republican politicians nationwide will soon be switching parties in response to this kind of conduct. When it happens en masse remember you heard it here first!

Shorter President Obama: "Cut The Bullshit"

President Obama calling out Governers Bobby Jindal and Mark Sandford without ever mentioning their names. Benen breaks his comments all the way down.




Scarborough Unintentionally PWNS House Republicans

That's what happens when you bring a fact checker on your show and you are used to repeating Republican talking points. Politifact's Bill Adair was more than happy to set the record straight for the whole cast of Morning Joe about the Republican bullshit talking point about the "Pelosi field mice" provision that was supposedly in the stimulus bill. To prove that it was true Scar had a video of Republican Mike Pence making the claim on a cable news show. If you want to hear something funny just fast forward to 4:00 when Adair announces that its false. You can hear those idiots gasping and Mika screaming "WHAT?!".

But it gets better because Scarborough goes on to give a long ass convoluted story from one of his "inside sources" about how it was really true but the Democrats just used a good cover specifically for Pelosi. It looked like it hurt his heart when Adair told him he was wrong again. Notice the music started play AS SOON as Adair shot him down the second time. I have a feeling we won't be seeing Bill Adair on Morning Joe again for quite awhile.








P.S. How stupid does Mika sound at the end still saying that the provision shouldn't be in the bill? I am now convinced that she HAD to be adopted.

(h/t Benen)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Rick Santelli = John McCain?

Check out Rick Santelli from September 2 of last year right before the market collapsed.



"I think the economy IS healthy"

What. A. Dumbass.

And that also applies to "Wolf Man"

(h/t Crooks and Liars)

Shelby Didn't Have A Slip Of The Tongue

I know a lot of people in the liberal/progressive blogosphere are going crazy about Senator Richard Shelby seeming endorsement of the lunatic wingnut fringe idea that President Obama is not a natural born citizen and therefore is not our legitimate President, but I for one am glad he said it. In point of fact I would love for someone to poll all of the Republicans in Congress and get their views on the subject on the record. Senator Shelby didn't say that by accident, he did it on purpose to rile up his wingnut base. Hell he might even actually believe it. But a statement like his helps to pull back the drapes on the mentality of a lot of these wingnut Republicans and how out of touch they are with the mainsteam of America. This same "he is not a citizen" meme was played out over and over during the Presidential campaign to the point where then Senator Obama had to go as far as to post a copy of his birth certificate online. In the end the story was an EPIC FAIL and he still won by a landslide. But just like Republicans are still flogging tax cuts as the panacea for all that ills the country, they still see the birth certificate issue as a winning strategy "if only people will just listen". They still don't get that the people HAVE listened and rejected it. Hell you would think at the least they could read an approval poll. But since they can't I say let them expose themselves even further and in the process marginalized themselves in an even greater fashion ala Michele Bachmann. At some point the American people will just totally disregard any position Republicans like them take on any issue after they have shown themselves to be totally bat shit crazy.

Keep. It. Coming.

(h/t Benen)

I Heart Rahm Emmanuel

This profile of Rahm Emmanuel in the New Yorker is all kinds of AWESOME SAUCE. I know there are some in the progressive blogosphere who seem to have an unhealthy obsession with throwing Rahm under the bus,(cough,Jane Hamsher,cough) but its hard not to read this piece and not come away a fan.

Some excerpts


By any measure, what Obama’s White House has achieved in passing the stimulus bill is historic. The last President to preside over a legislative victory of this magnitude so early in his Administration was Franklin Roosevelt, who on the sixth day of his Presidency persuaded Congress to enact a wholesale restructuring of the banking system. (That, too, is likely in the offing for the Obama team.) Yet praise for Obama was surprisingly grudging. Some liberal Democrats said that Emanuel and his team had made too many concessions to House Republicans, all of whom voted against the legislation. Meanwhile, conservatives complained that Obama had broken his pledge of bipartisan co√∂peration. Both arguments infuriated Emanuel, who spent hours on the Hill during the negotiations, arranged private meetings with Obama in the Oval Office for the Republican senators Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Arlen Specter, whose votes were critical to the bill’s passage, and personally haggled over the smallest spending details during a crucial evening of bargaining that lasted until the early morning.

“They have never worked the legislative process,” Emanuel said of critics like the Times columnist Paul Krugman, who argued that Obama’s concessions to Senate Republicans—in particular, the tax cuts, which will do little to stimulate the economy—produced a package that wasn’t large enough to respond to the magnitude of the recession. “How many bills has he passed?”

Emanuel has heard such complaints before. As a senior aide in the Clinton White House, he successfully fought a Republican Congress to pass the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP), which now provides health care for seven million kids. “I worked children’s health care,” he said. “President Clinton had pediatric care, eye, and dental, inside Medicaid. The Republicans had pediatric care, no eye and dental, outside of Medicaid. The deal Chris Jennings, Bruce Reed, and Rahm Emanuel cut for President Clinton was eye, dental, and pediatric, but the Republican way—outside of Medicaid. At that time, I was eviscerated by the left.” He slammed his fist on the desk, his voice rising. “I had sold out! Today, who are the greatest defenders of kids’ health care? The very people that opposed it when it passed,” Emanuel said. “Back then, you’d have thought I was a whore! How could we do this outside of Medicaid? They warned that it had to be in Medicaid—not that they gave a rat’s ass that the kid had eye or dental care. But, for getting it outside of Medicaid, we got kids’ eye and dental care. O.K.? That was the swap. Now, my view is that Krugman as an economist is not wrong. But in the art of the possible, of the deal, he is wrong. He couldn’t get his legislation.”

The stimulus bill was essentially held hostage to the whims of Collins, Snowe, and Specter, but if Al Franken, the apparent winner of the disputed Minnesota Senate race, had been seated in Washington, and if Ted Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, had been regularly available to vote, the White House would have needed only one Republican to pass the measure. “No disrespect to Paul Krugman,” Emanuel went on, “but has he figured out how to seat the Minnesota senator?” (Franken’s victory is the subject of an ongoing court challenge by his opponent, Norm Coleman, which the national Republican Party has been happy to help finance.) “Write a fucking column on how to seat the son of a bitch. I would be fascinated with that column. O.K.?” Emanuel stood up theatrically and gestured toward his seat with open palms. “Anytime they want, they can have it,” he said of those who are critical of his legislative strategies. “I give them my chair.”


I love Paul Krugman but the guy has a point. Its very easy to sit back and criticize what others do. Its a lot harder to actually try to do the same job and in fact do it better.

When Emanuel said this, I noticed that over his left shoulder, on the credenza behind him, was an official-looking name plate, which he said was a birthday present from his two brothers. It read, “Undersecretary for Go Fuck Yourself.”


Thats classic!

Perhaps Emanuel’s greatest challenge, however, will be making the adjustment from being a prominent elected official to being a staffer. Bolten, who hosted Emanuel and eleven former chiefs of staff for breakfast at the White House in December, said, “One of the interesting bits of advice that emerged from the breakfast was that you probably shouldn’t be a political principal yourself. You need to put aside your own personality and profile and adopt one that serves your boss. I’m not saying you necessarily have to have a low profile, but it can’t really be your own independent profile. It’s got to be the profile your boss wants reflected, and it has to be a profile that does not compete with the rest of the Cabinet.” Emanuel said that he has thought about that advice. “There’s no doubt” that this is an issue, he told me. “There are pluses to who I was and what I was and there are perils to who I was and what I was, and you’ve got to be conscious of them.”


Sounds like a healthy amount of self awareness to me.

More than any other story about Emanuel’s tactics—and there are lots of them—the tale of the “dead-fish race” came to define his public persona as a Democratic operative. He and Axelrod were working for David Swarts, a Democratic official from Erie County, New York, running an underfunded campaign for a congressional seat long held by Republicans. “We were rolling the dice on the race, just spending the money we had as it came in to try and get these numbers up,” Axelrod said. Their plan was to take a poll at the end of the contest which they hoped would show a competitive race and then use the results to help raise last-minute funds and overtake their opponent.

“The poll came back a week or two before the end, and it said we were down by seventeen,” Axelrod said. “And that was it.” According to Axelrod, Swarts’s campaign manager later studied the poll’s findings and concluded that the pollster had botched the analysis: the survey showed that Swarts was just five or six points behind. (The pollster says that the error was actually minor and quickly caught.) Axelrod added, “Had we gotten that correct poll then, we would have put our foot to the pedal. But it was too late. So Rahm, being as invested as he was in the thing, expressed himself as only Rahm can.” After the election, Emanuel and his colleagues hired a Massachusetts company called Enough Is Enough, which specialized in “creative revenge,” to send the pollster a box with a dead fish inside. Emanuel laughed mischievously when I asked him about the prank. “We had our choice of animals,” he said.


Honestly that sounds like something I would do. Scratch that, it sounds like something I would WANT to do but probably back out because of potential implication. I love that he just didn't give a fuck.

Over lunch two days before the Inauguration, Emanuel explained to me his decision to give up his congressional seat and return to the White House. We were in a brasserie in the lobby of a Washington hotel, and Emanuel, dressed in a black sweater over a white button-down, was frequently interrupted by people who wanted to wish him well or have their picture taken with him. “The main hesitation was family, because there’s no way you will convince me this is good for my family,” Emanuel, who has three children, ages eleven, ten, and eight, said. “No matter what every White House says—‘We’re going to be great, family-friendly’—well, the only family we’re going to be good for is the First Family. Everybody else is, like, really a distant second, O.K.?”


I remember Joe Scarborough, who has a few "family" skeletons in his own past, deriding Rahm for considering his family before accepting the job. But I will point out that earlier in the piece this is what Rahm had to say about why he was in a hurry to leave for vacation after the stimulus bill passed.

Emanuel, for his part, seemed indifferent both to the praise in Washington and to the oddball critique from Havana. In a few hours, he would be leaving for a ski trip with his family to Park City, Utah, and he was anxious to get out of the White House and start the weekend. Asked about Castro’s article, he said, “Well, you know, ever since I stopped sending him my holiday card he’s been ticked off. I don’t know what to think about it. Do you know what I’m thinking about? I’m going to finally get to see my kids after a month. So that’s all I give a fuck about.”


That sounds pretty genuine to me.

Now I am a results guy and no matter how pretty a politician talks I want to see what the DO. The end of this article is what sealed the deal for me.

Emanuel laughed as he recounted the final sticking point in the negotiations. It was not, as many people have thought, an argument between the five centrist senators—Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Collins, Snowe, and Specter—and the House but a debate among the centrists themselves. The dispute was over a formula for how Medicaid funds in the bill would be allocated to the states. In the House version of the legislation, fifty per cent of the funds would go to all states and fifty per cent would go to states with high unemployment. In the Senate, where rural interests are more dominant, the formula was 80-20. A deal had been reached between the two chambers to split the difference and make the formula 65-35. “Everybody signed except for Ben Nelson,” Emanuel said. “He wants 72-28, or seventy-two and a half, and he says, ‘I’m not signing this deal.’ Specter says, ‘Well, I am not agreeing with you.’ ” Without Nelson, Collins wasn’t likely to vote for the deal, either.

“Collins and Snowe are kind of like, at this point, looking at their shoes,” Emanuel went on, “because Specter says, ‘Well, why make it seventy-two? What do you mean? We all have it at sixty-five, in the middle.’ ” Emanuel politely declared that the formula would stay at 65-35. He then asked Nelson to step out of the room with him. After a brief conversation in the hallway, they returned, and Nelson agreed to the stimulus package.

Emanuel stood up and removed his tie as he finished the story, making it clear that he was ready to leave for the airport. He seemed more cheerful, knowing that he was that much closer to seeing his family. I asked him what he promised Nelson to persuade him to drop his objections. Emanuel just smiled. “Everything is going to be O.K.,” he said, in a mock-soothing voice. “America is going to be a great place.”


That he was able to bridge the final hurdle in the bill by taking Ben Nelson outside and bust his chops until he stopped being an asshole was the key to the whole story for me. Forget all the talks of sending fish or iron fists, in the end he got the job done. That's the change that I voted for, and that's definitely change I can believe in!

The Evolution Of What It Means To Be Patriotic: WingNut Edition

For 8 years liberals and progressives were told by the FoxNews crowd that to question the President was unpatriotic. For at least 6 years we were also told by these same people that questioning the War on Terror equated to hating America and wanting her to lose. For the 7 years after 9-11 we were told that we were in the middle of a crisis so everyone should support the President. Funny how time and a few elections changes things.

Glenzilla knocks it out the park again today, taking FoxNews and Glenn Beck over his knee and giving them an old fashion ass whupping for the fearmongering they are trying to stoke with their "report" on the possibly/probably coming civil war in the United States. This "report" by Glen Beck with FauxNooz's tacit approval is truly reprehensible. At a time of great crisis in this country they choose to try to exort our citizens to take to the streets and engage in violent acts against their government primarily because President Obama is now in charge. I know that the media is afforded wide latitude with our country's protection of free speech but how this "report" isn't the very definition of an act of treason I will never know. There is absolutely no acknowledgement that there are people in this country who aren't right in the head and will take this "report" as a sign that they need to act. And my question is if and or when that happens will FoxNews and Glen Beck be held liable?

Recently it was revealed that Jim David Adkison, the guy who shot up a church killing several members had written a suicide note before hand. In the note, in his own words, he described the motivation to go out and murder these people as being because another conservative talking head and frequent FoxNews guest, Bernard Goldberg had written of 100 people (mostly liberal Democrats) who were ruining America and this guy thought it his duty to go out and violently do his part to stop them. According to his note he felt he couldn't actually kill any of the 100 people on Goldberg's list so just killing any liberals he could find would have to do.

"This was a symbolic killing," Adkisson wrote. "Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate and House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I knew these people were inaccessible to me.

"I couldn't get to the generals and high-ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chicken (expletive) liberals that vote in these traitorous people."


Now was this guy already mentally ill? I would have to say probably so. But still would he have gone out and murdered these people if he hadn't been convinced by right wing media that they were a threat to our country? I don't believe that for a second. But Goldberg continues to walk around a free man and as far as I know no civil lawsuits have yet been initited against him. We arrest people in this country for yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. When are we going to do the same to right wing media figures who encourage violence against other people in the name of "patriotism"? At some point 1st amendment rights have to have some responsibility attached to them just as in the theater scenario and our media figures have to be held account for their words and actions.

I have absolutely no problem with conservatives opposing President Obama over ideological differences. I think its good and healthy to debate the pros and cons of his actions and that is something our country has been founded on. But when that opposition turns into over the top fear mongering based on lies and propaganda in order to advance a poltical party a line has been crossed in my opinion. When you get on cable news and tell more than 3 million viewers that a civil war is coming and they need to "prepare" that line has been obliterated. I really hope that no one is moved by beck to carry out an attack on their fellow citizens but if they do we must demand that he and FoxNews are held liable so this kind of bullshit stops. This is not an example of free speech, this is an example of hate speech. And whether protected by the constitution or not, actions should have consequences. When a white supremecist tells his followers to go out and do harm to minorities and they go out and do so, we arrest that guy. I would expect nothing less for Glenn Beck and his FoxNews cohorts.