Sunday, February 28, 2010

Charles Blow's EPIC FAIL

I have been very annoyed over the past few months because of a phenomenon I have noticed in black intellectual circles. It seems that all of the "high brow" black folks hate Tyler Perry because his movies show a side of the way black people live that doesn't comport with what they contend is their reality. What's most annoying about this is that these "high brow" black folks tend to conflate Tyler Perry with the characters he plays in his movies. They talk about him as if he walks around in his day to day as his wildly popular character "Madea". Wildly popular that is to just run of the mill black folks who aren't teaching at Harvard or don't have their own column in the New York Times. Its funny to me because I recognize people from many of his movies that I know in real life. Its also pathetic in the sense that characters like Madea are obviously supposed to be over the top caricatures but they insist on treating them as if Tyler Perry is proclaiming that everybody has a grandma EXACTLY like "Madea".

Well Charles Blow decided that he would take his shots today in his op ed column . What followed is in my opinion PURE COMEDY.

First lets start with the title of the column,

Tyler Perry’s Crack Mothers

Now I have seen all of Perry's plays and most of his movies and I could only remember distinctly one character who was a mother and a crack head so I decided to read the column to see where this was going. Here is his dramatic opening to his piece.

Mo’Nique is a favorite to win an Oscar next Sunday for her powerful and disturbing portrayal of an abusive mother in the movie “Precious.”

If she wins, I may grit my teeth at the depraved depiction, but at least her character is merely juxtaposed with the crack scourge and isn't in fact an addict. That's heartening since the crack-addicted black mother has recently made a curious comeback.

There was a time when this character was more relevant: in the 1980s and 1990s when the crack epidemic plunged whole communities into violence, fear and chaos. (To be fair, “Precious” is set in the 1980s.) But this character now feels like a refugee of time — and discordant with the facts on the ground.

Oh my, Charles Blow might grit his teeth if Mo'nique wins an Oscar for her role in the movie "Precious". Hmmmm I guess. I mean I know some people loved the movie and some folks hated it and to that I say to each their own. But why open a piece about Perry's "Crack Mothers" with three grafs that have nothing to do with a "crack mother" in one of Perry's movies. Ahhh there is a correction at the bottom to explain this.

Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly described Mo'Nique's character in the movie "Precious." She was not a crack addict.


So in a column meant to hit Tyler Perry for supposedly stocking his movies with crack mother characters, Blow doesn't even know or realize that Mo'Nique didn't play a crack head in "Precious". I guess he ALSO didn't know or realize that while Tyler Perry did "present" the movie "Precious" it wasn't literally one of his movies. He didn't write it nor direct it and the book it is based on had literary acclaim in its own right before the movie ever came along.

But Blow and other "high brow" black folks can't be concerned with such facts can they? As a matter of fact in a column which Blow tries to intimate that Tyler Perry has single handedly brought back the notion of "crack mothers" which in his mind is now a sort of fantasy, he can only come up with two instances (which he doesn't explain) when such a character has been in any of Tyler Perry's movies. And I can tell you that in at least the movie that I saw where there was a "crack mother" the story line revolved around her being an addict for years, not some kind of recent development.

Im sorry but this is the classic definition of the crab in a barrel mentality that most "high brow" black folks tend to decry. For whatever faults Tyler Perry has, he also has many many good attributes. He has used his position to help other black folks get roles in his movies. He gives quite a bit of money and time to various charities including building homes for Katrina victims and giving $1 million dollars through his foundation to the Haiti relief fund. But you won't hear those "high brow" black folks ever even out their criticisms about him. No they just want to blame all of the ills of the black community on Tyler Perry.

Give me a fucking break.

We have seven year olds stealing cars because they want to do "hood rat stuff" and these folks are more concerned with tearing down a self made black man than addressing real problems. Im sick and tired of it, and honestly its making me lose a lot of respect for folks who I thought were better than that.


Race In The South In The Age Of Obama

This is the most powerful piece I have read in a long time. I recommend it to everyone no matter what color, political stripe or religious creed. We have come a long way as a country but we still have a long way to go. And that means ALL of us.

A Must Read On The Cost Of Doing Nothing

The New York Times has a great article today on what happens if health care reform isn't passed. Most folks think we just continue on exactly like we are today and maybe a long time in the future things might get worse but they will just worry about it then.


Nearly every mainstream analysis calls for medical costs to continue to climb over the next decade, outpacing the growth in the overall economy and certainly increasing faster than the average paycheck. Those higher costs will translate into higher premiums, which will mean fewer individuals and businesses will be able to afford insurance coverage. More of everyone’s dollar will go to health care, and government programs like Medicare and Medicaid will struggle to find the money to operate.

Policy makers, in the end, may be forced to address the issue.

“It will break all of our banks if we do nothing,” said Peter V. Lee, who oversees national health policy for the Pacific Business Group on Health, which represents employers that offer coverage to workers. “It is a course that is literally bankrupting the federal government and businesses and individuals across the country.”

Even those families that enjoy generous insurance now are likely to see the cost of those benefits escalate. The typical price of family coverage now runs about $13,000 a year, but premiums are expected to nearly double, to $24,000, by 2020, according to the Commonwealth Fund. That equals nearly a quarter of the median family income today.

While some employers will continue to contribute the lion’s share of those premiums, there will be less money for employees in the form of raises or bonuses.

“It’s also cramping our economic growth,” said Frank McArdle, a consultant with Hewitt Associates, which advises large employers and reported on the need for change for the Business Roundtable, an association of C.E.O.’s at major companies. Spending so much on health care is “really a waste of people’s money,” Mr. McArdle said.

The higher premiums will also persuade more businesses, especially smaller ones, to decide not to offer insurance. More people who buy coverage on their own or are asked to pay a large share of premiums will find the price too high. It doesn’t take too many 39-percent increases, like the recent one proposed in California that has garnered so much attention, to put insurance out of reach.

“We have an affordability problem that is moving up through the middle class now,” said Paul B. Ginsburg, the president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonprofit Washington research group.

While estimates vary, the number of people without insurance is expected to increase by more than a million a year, said Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA, a Washington consumer advocacy group that favors the Democrats’ approach. The Urban Institute, for example, predicts that the number of uninsured individuals will increase from about 49 million today to between 57 million and 66 million by 2019. The Democrats’ plan is expected to cover as many as 30 million individuals who now are uninsured.

When a lot of folks hear "the system is unsustainable" I don't think they really understand that this sentiment goes for them too. If they did I think its likely a lot more people would be pushing for health care reform.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Earthquake In Chile

The White House Calls Out Senator Bunning

Now THIS is how you use the bully pulpit!

On Thursday, Democrats and Republicans came together in the House to pass an emergency bill that will temporarily extend benefits for American workers and small businesses. It showed that in times of great need, our elected officials can still set aside their differences to do right by the American people.

But just when we thought we were seeing progress, we have been confronted with a disappointing return to tactics that could be harmful to the American people, with Senator Bunning (R-KY) blocking the extension of several critical priorities for middle-class families. If Senator Bunning gets his way, hundreds of thousands of people could be ineligible for COBRA tax credits for health coverage created by the Recovery Act; 400,000 individuals who cannot find work will lose their unemployment insurance; thousands of small businesses will lose access to credit; transportation projects and public safety programs across the country would be halted; critical transportation safety personnel will be furloughed at a time of increased concern about the safety of our roads and highways; and 600,000 doctors across the country who care for our seniors and veterans could be subject to a 20 % pay cut, including 8,105 in Senator Bunning’s home state of Kentucky.

Make no mistake about it: this bill is too important to fall prey to the political games of one person. If Senator Bunning succeeds, it would have a devastating effect on millions of people as early as Monday.

There’s nothing wrong with someone taking a principled stand for something they believe in, but Senator Bunning voted to extend these same benefits in 2008. Over the past decade, unemployment insurance extensions have been passed as emergency measures under Republican and Democratic Congresses alike. So what we’re seeing right now is politics at its worst. It’s a perfect example of why so many Americans are fed up with Washington.

We need to think about how our actions will impact the American people, because they sent us here to work for them. We need to put an end to the gamesmanship, and do whatever is in our power to put Americans back to work. They expect and deserve nothing less of us.

The REAL Pre 9-11 Mentality

Imagine for a second that we were in bizarro world and John McCain had won the presidency. And in this bizarro world it was say Senator Dick Durbin instead of Richard Shelby who had placed holds on President McCain's nominees many of them for positions high up in the military. What do you think the GOP response would be to an exchange like this one on CNN?

BASH: I spoke with Geoff Morrell over at the Pentagon and just asked him what the impact is of not having these three people in place — one of whom, as you know, is the number two at the Air Force. He said, “Without these people, we’re not firing on all cylinders.” And he also said, “It does adversely affect the organization.”

Are you worried about that? This is a time of war –

SHELBY: The Pentagon is a big place. I don’t think one or two will affect anything except on the margins.

BASH: Do you think that the nominees you have holds on are qualified?

SHELBY: Oh, I don’t have any idea. I looked at them closely and we’ll see. Sometimes that’s not the issue.

Senator Shelby admits that he is holding up nominees for Pentagon posts whose qualifications he can't even say are lacking. He further states that missing one or two people won't affect anything when we are in the midst of two wars and trying to keep our homeland safe from terrorist attacks.

Democrats, please find a fucking spine and bury this asshole. If the situation was reversed he would have not only been shamed into releasing these holds, he would have had to go to the floor of the Senate and apologize by now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

An Unlikely Source

Chuck Todd is one of the most egregious purveyors of conventional wisdom on the cable networks today. He regularly contradicts himself in his criticisms of the Obama administration, one minute complaining about not enough transparency, the next complaining about over exposure. But he made a point last night that I think most Americans have missed when it comes to reconcilliation. Its not the whole health care reform bill that will be passed via reconcilliation but just the few fixes to bridge the gap between the Senate and House versions. Please pass this clip on to everyone you know who hasn't been following the health care debate very closely.

The Tell

Yesterday at the lunch break of the health care summit I left this comment over at The Plum Line:

Here is the other thing I’m noticing. Because there is a lot of overlap in what the Repubicans say they want and whats already in the bill just not exactly how they would like it, the whole lets set aside the bill and start over talking point is starting to sound patently foolish. The only area where I think the GOP has any opening now, largely because President Obama just gave it to the by calling it “legitimate”, is on cost. If we have a good argument on that then there is one last curveball and depending on how hard they hit it will tell you how Republicans think this is going today. Abortion. Now I doubt President Obama will bring it up, though he may. But if you see Bart Stupak get called on after the break just know that the GOP thinks this is going bad and they are going after the wedge issue and expect them to hit it hard, repeatedly and loudly.

Check out John Boehner after the break:

BOEHNER: Mr. President, I want to say thank you for having us here. I think it's been a useful conversation. And as I listened to you open up this meeting, I thought to myself, I don't disagree with anything that you said at the beginning of the meeting, in terms of the premise for why we're here.

The American families are struggling with health care. We all know it. The American people want us to address this in a responsible way. And so, I really do say thanks for having us all here.

I think our job on behalf of our constituents and on behalf of the American people is to listen. And I spend time in my district, I spend time a lot of places. I've heard an awful lot.

And I can tell you the thing that I've heard more than anything over the last six or seven months is that the American people want us to scrap this bill. They've said it loud, they've said it clear.

Let me help -- help understand why. The first thing is, we've just talked -- we've heard from the two budget directors about our fiscal condition. We have Medicare that's going broke. We have Social Security that's going broke. We have Medicaid that is bankrupting not only the federal government, but all the states.

And yet, here we are having a conversation about creating a new entitlement program that will bankrupt our country. And it will bankrupt our country.

It's not that we can't do health insurance reform to help bring down costs to help save the system. This bill, this 2,700-page bill will bankrupt our country.

And, secondly, Mr. President, I'd point out that I think this is -- this right here is a dangerous experiment. We may have problems in our health care system, but we do have the best health care system in the world by far.

And -- and having a government takeover of health care -- and I believe that's what this is, is a dangerous experiment with the best health care system in the world that I don't think that we should do.

So why did I bring this bill today? I'll tell you why I brought it. We have $500 billion in new taxes here over the next 10 years. At a time when our economy is struggling, the last thing we need to do is to be raising taxes on the American people.

Secondly, we've got $500 billion worth of Medicare cuts here. I agree with Kent Conrad, we need to deal with the problem of Medicare.

But if we're going to deal with the problem with Medicare and find savings in Medicare, why don't we use it to extend the life of the Medicare program as opposed to spending that $500 billion creating a new entitlement program.

But it's not just, Mr. President, the taxes or the Medicare cuts, you've got -- you've got the individual mandate in here, which I think is unwise, and I, too, believe is unconstitutional.

You've got an employer mandate in here that says that employers, you've got to provide health insurance to the American people, or you're going to pay this tax. It's going to drive up cost of employment at a time when we have over 10 percent, or near 10 percent unemployment in America.

And beyond that, a lot of employers are going to look at this and say, "Well, I'll pay the tax," and they're going to dump their employees into the so-called exchange, because in five years, every American is going to have to go to the exchange to get their health care. And who's going to design every health care bill offered in the exchange? Under this bill, the federal government's going to design every single health care bill in America within five years, once this bill were to pass.

I could go on and on and on.

Let me just -- let me just make one other point. I'll save you -- I'll save you. For 30 years, we've had a federal law that says that we're not going to have taxpayer funding of abortions. We've had this debate in the House. It was a very serious debate.

But in the House, the House spoke. And the House upheld the language we have had in law for 30 years, that there will be no taxpayer funding of abortions.

This bill that we have before us, and there was no reference to that issue in your outline, Mr. President, begins -- for the first time in 30 years allows for the taxpayer-funding of abortions.

Now I know for the most part Republicans were on their best behavior yesterday and they did their best to try to hide their radical ideas for health care reform like slashing Medicare benefits, but Boehner's contribution after the break showed decisively that they knew they were getting their asses handed to them. Boehner is far from a policy wonk and he has never met a talking point he didn't like, but even he is usually better than this at hiding his crazy.

While Democrats are disecting the meeting and going over what was said its important that they are cognizant of the fact that no matter what the cable news pundits say they won yesterday. They should look no further to Boehner's over the top overreaction full of Frank Luntz inspired talking points in order to figure that out.

Its time to pass the damn bill.

Meet The Press Blackout

A couple weeks ago Rachel Maddow was on Meet The Press and they had their highest ratings since.......well since the LAST time she had been on which was many months previous. This Sunday Meet The Press is having that bitter bastard John McCain on for the gazillionth time since last year. Its time for us to try an organized and coordinated strategy to try to pull the Sunday shows leftward.

I propose that every liberal and progressive blogger out there pledge to turn away from Meet The Press this Sunday. I know many of us watch it in order to critque it but I am pretty sure that the sun will come up Monday if we sit this one out. But it shouldn't just be that WE turn off Meet The Press, we have to get every one we know to do so also. Family members, friends, church members, alumni, whomever. Just spread the word not to watch this Sunday. (And honestly I don't think you have to tell them why either as long as they commit to doing something else).

If we can get enough people to turn away then we can alert the media to what we are trying to do. We point out after the Nielsen ratings are released how much better Meet The Press did with Rachel on than with McCain and we start to ask the question why we get so much of him, and so little of her and other voices like hers. Regardless of ideological bent, networks LIVE for ratings. So this is the one way that we can make a statement that actually might make a difference.

So what do you say? Any takers?

I Can't Say For Sure If Trent Franks Is A Racist...

...But I CAN say for sure that he is a stupid muthafucka!

Asshole Alert

Republican Senator Jim Bunning singlehandedly blocks unemployment benefits for millions of Americans in a bid to stay relevant.

The Senate clash over the unemployment benefits ended just before midnight Thursday with Senator Jim Bunning, Republican of Kentucky, refusing to lift his objection, meaning the jobless aid – for however short a time – will run out Sunday night unless a deal is reached Friday.

As the fight drew to a close, Mr. Bunning complained he had been ambushed by the Democrats and was forced to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina basketball game. He said Democrats caused their own problems by dropping the program extensions from an earlier bipartisan jobs measure.


Democrats, in unusually personal terms, challenged Mr. Bunning, a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, for denying aid to tens of thousands of Americans struggling in a bad economy, even reading letters from Kentucky residents about their own problems.

“I just don’t think one senator ought to be able to heap this kind of suffering and misfortune on people who are already struggling in this economy,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, said, chastising his Republican colleague. “This is a wild pitch you are throwing tonight because it is pitch that is hitting somebody in the stands.”

Senator Claire McCaskill said the decision to block the unemployment pay as well as the opportunity to buy health insurance showed how far removed some lawmakers were from the plight of out-of-work Americans.

“It is easy to get out of touch around this place,’’ Mrs. McCaskill said. “People open doors for you and bow and scrape. It’s really easy to forget what people are going through, what families are feeling right now. And really, 30 days of unemployment insurance – have we gotten to the point that that’s going to be a political football?’’

With Mr. Bunning refusing to relent, Democrats will have to move to override his objections but a vote probably cannot occur until early next week.

Cliff Notes

For those with ADD or who just really don't have the time and patience to watch the whole health care summit, here are some of the highlights courtesy of Jed Lewison.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Its A Wrap

I agree with Greg Sargent, in his closing remarks President Obama pretty much told the Republicans "hey, I tried now we are about to do this whether you like it or not and whether you come along or not". I think he did a great day all day as moderator and believe you me when I get that clip of him smacking down John McCain I will be sure to post it. But I think he took the right tact by pointing out over and over not only the Republican ideas included in the Democratic bills but also the Democratic ideas in the bill that Republicans don't have a legitimate argument against.

By the by President Obama all but admitted they dropped the public option because of the "government takeover" talking point. Im still pissed about it but at least he pretty much owned up to it.

Here are the youtube clips of the whole thing for those who might have missed it.

Quick Recap

Turns out the Democrats actually did what I hoped for and that's that they went through the Democratic bills and effectively showed that the Republicans agreed with most of what is in each part of the bill but they just want to do things THEIR way. It wasn't as aggressive as I might have liked but I think anybody who was truly open minded and watched the summit today had to come away thinking, "if they agree on so much in the bills, why are Republicans fighting so hard against it?". They would also notice that the Republicans didn't offer even one new idea on health care reform (unless you count Tom Coburn's undercover Medicare patients) that either wasn't already in the bill or hadn't already been considered.

At this point all that is left is to PASS THE DAMN BILL!

What The Democratic Talking Point Should Be After The Healthcare Reform Summit

"Did you hear one new idea from the Republicans on health care reform today that is not already incorporated in our bill?"

Congressman Meek Endorses Question Time

On the occasion of today's White House Health Care Summit, I would like to offer my full support for Question Time - a bipartisan effort to hold regular, unmediated, and open exchanges between the President and members of Congress, the direct representatives of the people.

Over 18,000 Americans, representing all political stripes, have joined the online movement for Question Time and many young supporters have approached me about getting behind the idea. After seeing the success of the President's appearance last month at the House Republican retreat in Baltimore and his subsequent Q&A with Senate Democrats, I've become convinced that Question Time will both strengthen our governance and help revitalize our political process.

Democracy doesn't take place in a vacuum. It requires commitment, energy, and openness. And, most importantly, it is not a solo act. Too often, we think of politics in a top-down, hierarchical sense instead of treating it as a two-way street. Holding regular, publicly-televised and webcasted conversations between the President and the people's representatives has the potential to combat hyper-partisanship and political stagnation.

The President's open dialogue with House Republicans afforded Americans a valuable opportunity to see their elected policymakers in action, debating the great issues of the day in a meaningful and civil manner. For an entire day, the 24-hour cable news cycle stood at a virtual standstill, transfixed by what they saw. Gone were the sound bites and political sniping. For once, ideology took a back seat to substance.

Given its success, why not make Question Time a permanent fixture of our democracy?

Today, our nation stands at a crossroads. We can continue down a dangerous path toward increased partisanship and polarization or we can choose to place trust in our system of governance. As an American, I have faith in our democracy. If we institute a regular, open forum for our elected leaders to publicly air and debate their ideas, we all win.

Ideally, Question Time would be both bipartisan and bicameral. However, I'm not interested in advancing a specific proposal so much as building momentum behind the idea. I'm far from the first member of Congress to call for this type of forum. As some may recall, Senator McCain endorsed Question Time as a presidential candidate. At the time, some pundits mocked the suggestion, but it was actually quite an innovative and bold proposal. Simply put, it was a good idea.

Even the White House has dismissed the idea of instituting Question Time, claiming it is "going to be hard to recreate the spontaneity that happened." However, is "spontaneity" really the end goal? Or is it something much greater, a deepening of our democracy and renewal of our basic governing process?

Politicians today are heavily scripted and risk-adverse. Too many are unwilling to reach across the aisle and forge a bipartisan consensus for the good of the country. Question Time would have a healthy effect on me as an elected leader by providing a regular opportunity to hear views that differ from my own.

I understand that Question Time is no panacea to our country's challenges. There is no magic wand that will suddenly break our political impasse. I do think, however, that it's worth a shot. I would be curious to know what you think @KendrickMeek on Twitter or via Facebook at

Fiscal Responsibiity For Thee But Not For Me: Marco Rubio Edition

Could this be Marco Rubio's John Edwards haircut moment?

U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio charged grocery bills, repairs to the family minivan and purchases from a wine store less than a mile from his West Miami home to the Republican Party of Florida while he was speaker of the Florida House, according to records obtained by the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald.

Rubio said Wednesday that he paid for all personal expenses billed to an American Express card given to him by the party to use from 2005 to 2008, when he left public office. The rest of the charges, he said, were legitimate party expenses.

Those expenses include a $1,000 charge at Braman Honda in Miami for repairs to the family car in January 2008. Rubio said the minivan was damaged by parking attendants at a political function and that the party agreed to cover half of his insurance deductible. The party also paid $2,976 for him to rent a car in Miami for five weeks.

Rubio said the party allowed him to put personal expenses on the card and the party reviewed his bill monthly.

"I was as diligent as possible to ensure the party did not pay for items that were unrelated to party business," Rubio said in a written statement. "There was no formal process provided by the party regarding personal charges."

But party spokeswoman Katie Gordon said the card was not supposed to be used for personal expenses. "The RPOF American Express card is a corporate card and is meant to be used for business expenses," she said when asked about the party's policy.

IRS rules for political parties, which are tax-exempt, require that their donations go exclusively toward influencing elections.

Records show Rubio sent payments to American Express totaling $13,900 for his personal expenses during his tenure as House speaker. But those payments were not made monthly. He made no contributions to the bill during one six-month stretch in 2007, the records show.

Charges covered by the party as political expenses include:

• $765 at Apple's online store for "computer supplies."

• $25.76 from Everglades Lumber for "supplies."

• $53.49 at Winn-Dixie in Miami for "food."

• $68.33 at Happy Wine in Miami for "beverages'' and "meal."

• $78.10 for two purchases at Farm Stores groceries in suburban Miami.

• $412 at All Fusion Electronics, a music equipment store in Miami, for "supplies."

Rubio's campaign could not find records to explain many of these expenses Wednesday night. But Rubio stressed that GOP staffers also may be responsible for some expenses, since they also had access to the credit card.

Now at this point we all know that this kind of stuff probably won't hurt Rubio with the teabagging GOP base. They don't care about hypocrisy from their candidates, they only care about at least a vocal adherence to their right wing ideology. As long as Rubio continues to paint himself as anti tax, anti Obama and anti spending, he will still probably give Charlie Crist all he can handle in the GOP primary.

But moderates and independents are a different breed. Rubio living high off the hog with his GOP credit card while preaching fiscal responsibility,reducing spending and "shared responsibility" is not likely to sit well with the majority of Florida's general election voters. As progressives we have to continue to hit Rubio and Crist hard over these kinds of issues because whether anyone thinks Congressman Meek has a chance in the Senate race here in Florida, he is a MAJOR upgrade over both of those folks.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just. Shoot. Me. Now.

Remember how earlier today I posted about how I had a bad feeling about this health care summit tomrrow? Yeah, well this didn't make me feel ANY better.

* I’ve repeatedly noted here that the pressure is on Obama to pull off a decisive win tomorrow, because if there’s no clear victor — and the public perceives the summit as more Beltway white noise — Republicans will walk away satisfied. But a senior Dem aide emails a counter-argument, saying Republicans have already blown the politics of this:

After receiving the invitation from the President, Minority Leader Boehner and Minority Whip Cantor sent a letter detailing their pre-conditions for attendance. Some Republicans have insulted the Summit by calling it a set-up or a taxpayer-funded infomercial. Now we learn they have spent several weeks organizing a rapid response operation. The RNC is putting out real-time fact checks. They have a Truth Squad. On something as simple as getting together for a bi-partisan Summit, they have tried to turn it into a hyper-partisan event.

Republicans have already failed to match the President’s class, conduct, poise, and bi-partisanship.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!



I have no idea if that "Senate Aide" knows what he's talking about or not, but I will say that if the Democrats are going into the summit tomorrow thinking they are going to win by being more classy, I am going to have to lock up all the sharp objects in my place and dangerous weapons..........FROM MYSELF!



Don'tcha just love how Anthony Weiner doesn't give a damn about Congressional decorum?

"Kick Me"

So the Democratic strategy for tomorrow's health care summit has now been revealed......and its the equivalent of walking in with a "kick me" sign on their back.

At a private meeting today, top Democrats settled on a strategy for tomorrow’s summit: They will strive to project a strong sense that they’re in “listening mode,” even as they make it clear that under no circumstances will they scrap their plans and start again, sources say.

Top Dems also agreed to make a concerted effort to highlight Republican ideas that are already in Obama’s bill, in order to disarm GOP charges that Dems aren’t serious about compromise, the sources add.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the other Congressional Dems attending the meeting gathered today behind closed doors to chart their plan for tomorrow. Attendees agreed on the need to strike a balance between projecting openness to GOP ideas, while leaving no doubt that if Republicans don’t compromise, Dems will move forward.

“The consensus that was arrived at is that we have to be in listening mode,” one senior Dem aide familiar with the meeting tells me. “We will say, `We are listening to your ideas, we have been and we’ll continue to do so. But at some point, if you are not gonna be willing to vote for this, we have to move forward.’”

Yeah, good luck with that.

The Repubicans are going to come in with flamethrowers tomorrow and they are going to try to burn down as much of the support for the bill as they can in six hours. They have already telegraphed that they won't be bringing any ideas of their own so what do the Democrats think they will be doing with their time?

Listening mode, heh. Welp, if the Dems really fall through on this strategy you can full expect the Republicans to frame the entire debate tomorrow and you will see even more skittish Dems running for the hills. This has all the makings of an unmitigated disaster.

"Things We All Agree On"

I know a lot of progressive bloggers focus the majority of their posts on good policy and I think that is a good thing. I however tend to focus on good messaging. The reason being that in this day and age where most politicians are more concerned with being reelected than what is good for the country, the best messaging usually wins. By wins I mean it shifts public opinion and therefore it can shift votes on any piece of legislation.

The biggest problem in my estimation that the Obama administration has had since inauguration day is terrible messaging. As the Democratic President presiding over a Democratic Congress with big majorities, the messaging needs to roll down hill. President Obama should be leading the charge and what he says should filter down to leadership in Congress and from them to the rank and file so they all speak for the most part with one voice. And that voice has to be strong and forceful and not just defensive but also offensive in many situations. But since last year the Democratic messaging, particularly health care reform, has been terrible.

It was amazing to me that Frank Luntz could release to the public a blueprint of how Republicans would frame the debate as a "government takeover" of health care and still the Democrats couldn't muster up a suitable pushback on that talking point. To be honest its the reason in my opinion that the Obama administration was so reluctant to back a public option as the public option was the one provision that Republicans tied most closely to their "government takeover" rhetoric.

Now the reason for this post is simple. Tomorrow President Obama will hold his televised bipartisan health care summit to try to drag the health care reform bill across the finish line. The stakes are going to be tremendously high and how the public perceives the summit will likely shift votes in Congress. For that reason Democratic messaging HAS to be almost perfect tomorrow. If they rely on winning on policy the truth is they will lose. Many average Americans don't have the attention span to really follow the policy, but a good talking point will resonate.

I personally have my own ideas about how the Republicans will try to attack the bill and keep pushing to "reset" everything and start from scratch but I'm not into giving them any help. However I think Democrats would be wise to be ready for talking points on abortion, taxes, backroom deals, and cost of the bill.

One new talking point just cropped up though and I felt like it was a harbinger of things to come. Eric Cantor was on MSNBC just a little while ago and while he isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer on policy, he is pretty good with talking points when there is no one there to debate him. And he gave a talking point that I consider to be damn near genius and I bet you donuts to a dollar you will hear the issue framed this way by Republicans tomorrow.

So what exactly did he say.

Well you remember how President Obama and Senate Leadership (read Harry Reid) decided to include Republican ideas into the health care reform bill in an effort to peel of some Republican votes (which ultimately failed miserably)? Well NOW instead of allowing those provisions to be framed as concessions or compromises meant to appease Republicans, Cantor framed them as "the things we all agree on".

Now if you are a progressive and you have been following this debate for any length of time I'm sure your face is scrunched up right now like "WTF?!"

But if you are average joe citizen who hasn't been following that closely, this slight of hand could be VERY persuasive.

Think about it. Out of all of the stuff in the health care bill, only the Republican compromise parts could be sold as something both sides remotely agree on. So if Republicans say "hey lets start over and make those provisions the core of the bill" well the Americans who haven't been paying attention but for some reason are still pining for "bipartisanship" that would make a lot of sense.

Doesn't matter to them that those provisions generally are the worst provisions in the bill. Doesn't matter to them that those provisions generally won't help the deficit at all. Doesn't Nope, those provisions, without any context, really do seem like the areas where both sides can agree. And unless Democrats are prepared for pushback against that talking point, I can see Republicans successfully selling that steaming pile to the American people.

Like I said, its genius when you think about it. Make the minor compromises in the bill THE bill and then all of a sudden you have the American people calling for a Republican health care reform bill that doesn't do much to help them.

Obviously I can think of ways to push back on that talking point but I am not exactly getting paid for this. All I'm saying is that folks need to be prepared and go on the offensive instead of playing defense tomorrow. Before Eric Cantor or John Boehner can get to that talking point perhaps a Democrat can ask THEM what they object to about specific provisions of the bill. And when they can't come up with a good reason check that off as a provision that stays. That would be my general approach anyway.

Play offense, not defense. That's my best advice.

If not you are going to see even more skittish Democrats running for the hills by the end of the summit.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quit Crying And Do Some Push Ups Or Something

Harry Reid sounding a lot like Bernie Mac today:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters Tuesday that Republicans "should stop crying" about the possible use of the parliamentary procedure known as budget reconciliation to pass a health care reform bill.

Reid said reconciliation had been used 21 times since 1981, mostly by Republicans when they were in control of the Senate for the passage of items like the Bush tax cuts. (
Here's a handy chart of when the procedure has been used.)

Under reconciliation, Democrats would need a simple majority in the Senate to pass legislation, as opposed to the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

"They should stop crying about reconciliation as if it's never been done before," Reid said.

Following Senate Democrats' weekly luncheon, Reid said "nothing is off the table" but that "realistically, they should stop crying about this. It's been done 21 times before."

"The question is: Is reconciliation the only way we can do health-care reform?" he said. "The answer to that is no. But I've been told that my Republican friends are lamenting reconciliation, but I would recommend for them to go back and look at history."

"It's done almost every Congress, and they're the ones that used it more than anyone else," he added.

Its taking him longer than any of us wanted or expected, but it seems he is FINALLY starting to sound like a real Majority Leader.

Monday, February 22, 2010


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In another blow to the Taliban senior leadership, Pakistani authorities have captured Mullah Abdul Kabir, a member of the group’s inner circle and a leading military commander against American forces in eastern Afghanistan, according to a Pakistani intelligence official.

Mullah Kabir was detained several days ago in Nawshera, in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, the Pakistani official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mullah Kabir is a member of the Quetta Shura, the small group of leaders who direct the Taliban’s operations and who report to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the group’s founder. The group is named for the Pakistani city where many of the Taliban’s leaders are thought to be hiding.

Mullah Kabir is the second member of the Quetta Shura to be captured in Pakistan in recent weeks. Last month, American and Pakistani intelligence agents captured Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s top military commander and the head of the Quetta Shura. He was hiding in Karachi.


From here on in when a Republican opens their mouth to try to hit President Obama on national security, every person in the room should point at them and start laughing....loudly.

Game Recognize Game

Back when the public option collapsed in the Senate last fall after President LIEberman declared he wouldn't vote for any hcr bill that contained a public option, I noted how supposed progressive champions of the public option were unwilling to pledge to vote against a bill without one. In short it was all kabuki theater meant to shield those supposed progressives from backlash for the failure to include a public option.

Well now the clearest indication that I was right has come in the form of one of those supposed progressive heros, Jay Rockerfeller, coming out against passing a public option through reconcilliation.

We've been punked folks, it was never going to happen.

You Don't Say...

So Harry Reid rejects the Republican compromises in the jobs bill, pares it down to just the essentials which are very popular, doesn't rely on vote counting for once and puts the bill up for cloture and magically the Democrats overcome a filibuster gaining 5 Republican votes giving the bill an up or down vote.

Mind you ConservaDem extraordinaire, and a real asshole IMHO on a personal level, Ben Nelson voted against it, AND Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg was out with illness.

Almost makes you think that maybe Harry Reid should put Republicans on the spot more often....

Have You Heard Of The Oath Keepers?

If not then you really should read this post over at Mother Jones. Then distribute it to everyone you know. Then contact your local newspaper and ask them if they are aware of this group. Then contact some national media and ask if they are aware of the group.

Its time for our media to get its got damn head out of the sand and recognize that the fearmongering on the right is radicalizing people in a way that is fucking dangerous to the rest of us in this country!

Will The MSM Ask The Cheney's About Their Lies?

Don't worry, that was a rhetorical question.

From Michael Isikoff:

A crucial CIA memo that has been cited by former Vice President Dick Cheney and other former Bush administration officials as justifying the effectiveness of waterboarding contained “plainly inaccurate information” that undermined its conclusions, according to Justice Department investigators.

Cheney has publicly called for the release of the CIA’s still
classified memo and another document, insisting their disclosure will bolster his claim that the rough interrogation tactics he vigorously pushed for while in the White House yielded actionable intelligence that foiled terrorist plots against the United States.

But a
just released report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility into the lawyers who approved the CIA’s interrogation program could prove awkward for Cheney and his supporters. The report provides new information about the contents of one of the never released agency memos, concluding that it significantly misstated the timing of the capture of one Al Qaeda suspect in order to make a claim that seems to have been patently false.

The CIA memo, called the Effectiveness Memo, was especially important because it was relied on by Steven G. Bradbury, then the Justice Department’s acting chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, to write memos in 2005 and 2007 giving the agency additional legal approvals to continue its program of “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.” The memo reviewed the results of the use of EITs – which included waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and forced nudity – mainly against two suspects” Abu Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the report states. One key claim in the agency memo was that the use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogations of Zubaydah led to the capture of suspected “dirty bomb’ plotter Jose Padilla. “Abu Zubaydah provided significant information on two operatives, Jose Padilla and Binyam Mohammed, who planned to build and detonate a ‘dirty bomb’ in the Washington DC area,” the CIA memo stated, according to the OPR report. “Zubaydah’s reporting led to the arrest of Padilla on his arrival in Chicago in May 2003 [sic].”

But as the Justice report points out, this was wrong. “In fact, Padilla was arrested in May 2002, not 2003 … The information ‘[leading] to the arrest of Padilla’ could not have been obtained through the authorized use of EITs.” (The use of enhanced interrogations was not authorized until Aug. 1, 2002 and Zubaydah was not waterboarded until later that month.) “ Yet Bradbury relied upon this plainly inaccurate information” in two OLC memos that contained direct citations from the CIA Effectiveness Memo about the interrogations of Zubaydah, the Justice report states.

As Newsweek
reported last year, the information about Padilla’s plot was actually elicited from Zubaydah during traditional interrogations in the spring of 2002 by two FBI agents, one of whom, Ali Soufan, vigorously objected when the CIA started using aggressive tactics. The Justice report faults Bradbury for not pushing the CIA to backup its effectiveness claims. “We question whether it was reasonable for Bradbury not to have demanded more specific information before concluding that the use of EITs was both essential and effective in disrupting terrorist attacks,” the report states.

Look I like the show "24" as much as the next guy, but that isn't real life. At some point the folks who think it should some kind of "toughness" to torture detainees are going to have to wake up to the reality that not only didn't it work but the time invested in torturing took time away from doing the really effective interrogation techniques that actually DO work and put everyone at risk if there really was a so called ticking time bomb scenario.

It is what it is.

(h/t Greg Sargent)

Git Er Done

The White House has finally laid down the marker that most folks have been wanting to hear, namely health care reform WILL get done, one way or another.

The game of chicken commenceth — right now.

In the course of unveiling Obama’s new health reform proposal on a conference call with reporters this morning, White House advisers made it clearer than ever before: If the GOP filibusters health reform, Dems will move forward on their own and pass it via reconciliation.

The assertion, which is likely to spark an angry response from GOP leaders, ups the stakes in advance of the summit by essentially daring Republicans to try to block reform.

“The President expects and believes the American people deserve an up or down vote on health reform,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said on the call.

Pfeiffer said no decision had been made how to proceed, pending the outcome of the summit. But he added that Obama’s proposal is designed to have “maximum flexibility to ensure that we can get an up or down vote if the opposition decides to take the extraordinary step of filibustering health reform.”

Translation: If the GOP doesn’t cooperate with us in any meaningful sense, we’re moving forward on our own.

The GOP will obviously respond like the jackasses they are, but as I have been saying for months the American people don't care about talking points, they care about results. Whatever cheap points the GOP scores in the short run, when health care reform passes they lose. Period.

The President's Plan

The Obama administration's health care proposal is now up on the White House website.

How Do You Spell Hypocrisy? G O P

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Alabama Republicans Jo Bonner and Robert Aderholt took to the U.S. House floor in July, denouncing the Obama administration’s stimulus plan for failing to boost employment. “Where are the jobs?” each of them asked.

Over the next three months, Bonner and Aderholt tried at least five times to steer stimulus-funded transportation grants to Alabama on grounds that the projects would help create thousands of jobs.

They joined more than 100 congressional Republicans and several Democrats who, after voting against the stimulus bill, wrote Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood seeking money from $1.5 billion the plan set aside for local road, bridge, rail and transit grants. The $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed last year with no Republican votes in the House and three in the Senate.

Bonner said opposing the stimulus doesn’t mean he shouldn’t help Alabama projects compete for grants. “It is my role to ensure that their request is considered by the federal agency,” he said in an e-mail.

Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming named by President Barack Obama as co-chairman of a new deficit- reduction commission, said about-faces on government funding aren’t surprising.

“It’s the original sin of Washington -- it’s hypocrisy,” Simpson said. “You can’t do that then say you go out and cut the other stuff.”


Democrats have found an issue that will resonate with moderates in my opinion and that is for all their bashing of the stimulus bill, Republicans themselves have stated in letters asking for stimulus money that it would in fact create jobs. That's hypocrisy plain and simple my friend and Democrats would be well served to resist the temptation to be nice and actually use that word for a change.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

He Sees The Train Coming And Hes Getting Off The Tracks

A curious thing happened last week. Kathleen Sebelius went on The Rachel Maddow show, something most Obama administration officials have been loathe to do, and said this:

Maddow: "The private insurance company writ large hasn't done a great job. That's why we want a public option to compete with them. These 18 Democratic senators want to bring that back into the fold. If that happened, would the administration fight for it?"

Sebelius: "Well, I think if it's...Certainly. If it's part of the decision of the Senate leadership to move forward, absolutely."
At the time I said this in the comment section over at The Plum Line:

If Harry Reid is smart he will put the public option up for a vote via reconcilliation and let whatever is going to happen, happen. What Sebelius effectively did last night was lay him down right in front of the bus. Now if the public option doesn’t at least get an up and down vote via reconcilliation the only person who can and will be found at fault will be Harry Reid and that bus is going to run over him and back up a few times. Of course he should do it any way because its the right thing but he has signed his retirement papers now as a Senator if he doesn’t unless the White House walks back Sebelius words and I don’t see that happening.

Now comes this from The Hill:

Democrats will finish their health reform efforts within the next two months by using a majority-vote maneuver in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said.

Reid said that congressional Democrats would likely opt for a procedural tactic in the Senate allowing the upper chamber to make final changes to its healthcare bill with only a simple majority of senators, instead of the 60 it takes to normally end a filibuster.

"I've had many conversations this week with the president, his chief of staff, and Speaker Pelosi," Reid said during an appearance Friday evening on "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" in Nevada. "And we're really trying to move forward on this."

The majority leader said that while Democrats have a number of options, they would likely use the budget reconciliation process to pass a series of fixes to the first healthcare bill passed by the Senate in November. These changes are needed to secure votes for passage of that original Senate bill in the House.

"We'll do a relatively small bill to take care of what we've already done," Reid said, affirming that Democrats would use the reconciliation process. "We're going to have that done in the next 60 days."

The move would allow Democrats to essentially go it alone on health reform, especially after losing their filibuter-proof majority in the Senate after Sen. Scott Brown's (R) special election victory in Massachusetts.

Now to be sure this doesn't mean that the public option will be in the bill that the Senate passes via reconcilliation. But for quite some time now the health care reform bill has been held up simply because the House could pass the Senate bill as is and have it on the President's desk almost immediately, but they wanted assurances that the Senate would pass some fixes ie compromises via reconcilliation to get around the fact that they no longer held a supermajority which meant if the bill changed in conference it would have to be passed in both Houses of Congress once again. Harry Reid had been reluctant to make that kind of promise about using reconcilliation to pass the fixes up until now. So you have to ask yourself, what exactly has changed his mind?

Well I can't say for sure, but Harry Reid is nobody's fool. He didn't get elected over and over again to the Senate by not seeing the writing on the wall. He could tell that if this bill didn't get passed he would end up as the scapegoat. And with horrible polling numbers already in Nevada I don't think he was going to let that happen.

Of course saying it will get passed in 60 days and passing it in 60 days are two different things. But I for one feel a lot more hopeful now about it getting passed than I have since the process started.

Stay tuned!

Kendrick Meek Scores An Endorsement From The Florida Education Association

Orlando, FL - The Florida Education Association (FEA) announced its endorsement of Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary this morning at their education conference in Orlando.

"We are gathered in Orlando to fight on behalf of Florida's teachers and students, while the Republican Party of Florida is in town to fight with each other," said Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. "We will work together throughout this campaign and in the years ahead to improve Florida's schools and strengthen education to create a more prosperous future for Florida."

"We stood united to reduce class size in Florida and battled the forces of low scholastic expectations wishing to undermine a right our families deserve. Our opponents will never yield and neither will we because as parents and teachers, we know that when it comes to our children and students, we will do whatever it takes to fight for their interests. We can't break our promise to Florida's children, and we won't," added Meek.

"Kendrick has always stood tall for our teachers and educators, and we continue to stand tall with him," said Andy Ford, President of the Florida Education Association. "Together we have battled the special interests who advocate for clients, not our children, and thanks to the class size amendment, teachers can educate our students in classrooms instead of lecture halls. Kendrick has always put education first, and we put him first too."

A graduate of the public school system, Kendrick Meek, a longtime advocate for Florida's schools, was chairman of Florida's Coalition to Reduce Class Size in 2002 and wrote an op-ed in Thursday's Palm Beach Post in support of class size, titled: "Smaller classes a win for kids: Challenges to size amendment will fail."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Right Wing Promoting Violence....And The MSM Ignores It

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Climate Change For Dummies

For any problems I have with the way President Obama is leading on certain issues, it certainly is nice to have a Commander in Chief who not only knows the issues, but can explain them in an understandable way to a three year old.

Headline Win

56 Percent of Americans Are Too Soft to Fight Terrorism

Spencer Ackerman

Abu Zubaydah's Lawyer Says Marc Thiessen Is Full Of Shit

I was over at Attackerman's spot the other day where he had a post about Marc Thiessen's totally unsourced, bullshit assertion that Abu Zubaydah thanked his torturers for torturing him, and he was lamenting the fact that it would be extra hard to disprove something so ridiculous on its face. Well it turns out that while we may not have concrete evidence that its bullshit, Jason Linkins over at HuffPo contacted Zubaydah's lawyer, not a fan of Thiessen's to say the least, to ask him about the assertion:

Abu Zubaydah, categorically, was not affiliated with al Qaeda," Mickum said. "He was never a top leader of al Qaeda because he was never a member and he openly disagreed with the militaristic policies of al Qaeda. The camp he is alleged to have been involved with was closed in 2000 -- two years before his capture -- because the emir who oversaw it refused to allow it to fall under the control of al Qaeda. Thus, he is not, and never was, the man that the Bush administration made him out to be -- someone who orchestrated terrorist attacks."

Mickum went on: "And no one is disputing these facts anymore. So, my question to Mr. Thiessen is this: If Abu Zubaydah wasn't a member of al Qaeda, and not in the position to know about al Qaeda's operations, what does that say about the quality of the information obtained using these enhanced techniques -- or to use the precise term, torture? And what does that tell him about the intel that led to his capture in the first place?"

And based upon what Mickum knows -- and can divulge -- about the legal filings in the case, it would seem that the government is, indeed, not contesting the fact that Abu Zubaydah was not a member of al Qaeda.


I asked Mickum what he made of Thiessen's recent claim that he had thanked his torturers and credited them with lifting a "moral burden" from his conscience. "No. That's categorically untrue. Abu Zubaydah has never apologized to or thanked his interrogators. Quite the opposite, actually."


I also asked Mickum about what is known to have taken place in interrogations, based upon the information that was provided to the 9/11 Commission. I shared with him the timeline that was established by Marcy Wheeler, after painstaking study of the commission's report. As you might expect, he did not dispute Wheeler's underlying premise -- that the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah did not yield valuable intelligence. However, he was adamant that the timeline was wrong, that Abu Zubaydah was being tortured well in advance of August 31, 2002 -- the date established in the 9/11 Report as when waterboarding began. Mickum contends that torture began much earlier.

HUFFINGTON POST: Let me get this straight. You are saying that between the date of Abu Zubaydah's capture, which was March 28, 2002, and July 24, 2002, the date on which the CIA was said to have first received oral guidance on enhanced interrogation techniques from Jay Bybee, Abu Zubaydah was subjected to torture?

MICKUM: That's correct.

Now we all should be doing touchdown dances over this but we can't. The reason being is that it no longer matter what the truth is because our mainstream media sucks ass. No matter what Mickum says, Marc Thiessen will continue to have a platform at the Washington Post to spread as much unsourced incorrect bullshit as he likes to his hearts desire. And his boss Fred Hiatt will repeatedly be recognized as a high ranking liberal despite it all.


This Is GREAT News....If True

WASHINGTON — President Obama will put forward comprehensive health care legislation intended to bridge differences between Senate and House Democrats ahead of a summit meeting with Republicans next week, senior administration officials and Congressional aides said Thursday.

Democratic officials said the president’s proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority.

New York Times

You will notice I haven't posted on health care reform in quite awhile. Like I said I was taking a break from the day to day grind on it until the clouds started to open up and there was some daylight breaking through. If the Obama administration really is pushing reconcilliation then that is a wonderful thing and really the RIGHT thing to do at this point. In addition to this report in the New York Times, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathl Sebelius was also on the Rachel Maddow Show last night and said the administration would support a public option if Harry Reid put it up for a vote through reconcilliation.

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

Now this could all be political posturing, setting Harry Reid up to take the fall if it doesn't work out. But if not then I have to say things are finally moving in the right direction. We will see in a week or so what's what.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Two Faced

Republicans change their message based on who their audience is. Thanks to Rachel Maddow they have been caught red handed.

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Stimulus Success Video

Pretty good video by the DNC

Wingnuts' Selective Outrage

Sometimes you just gotta love Gawker.

The nerve of that uppity negra putting his feet up on "our" desk....just like that great patriot Bush did....

Yelling Fire In A Crowded Theater

At what point will the mainstream media start calling out Glenn Beck and his dangerous rhetoric? Are they really going to stand on the sidelines and wait for people to get killed after he gins some crazy asshole up enough to have them go out and commit murder because they are living in the fearful bubble he is creating? We already have several incidents which are likely linked to him but I guess that isn't enough huh? Somebody is going to have to explicitly say Glenn Beck told them to kill somebody before our media wakes up and points out that the son of a bitch is inciting violence with his listeners.

This shit makes my stomach turn and our media can't fucking die soon enough for me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Another One Bites The Dust

Its gotta really suck to be a Hill Republican these days. Just when you thought you could hit the President on national security, one of your traditionally stronger issues, he just keeps catching Taliban leaders that we have been after for years.

What the hell are you to use to fear monger with now?!

Another leader of the Afghan Taliban has been captured by authorities in Pakistan working in partnership with U.S. intelligence officials. Taliban sources in the region and a counterterrorism officials in Washington have identified the detained insurgent leader as Mullah Abdul Salam, described as the Taliban movement's "shadow governor" of Afghanistan's Kunduz province.

Taliban sources told NEWSWEEK's Sami Yousafzai that Salam was grabbed by Pakistani security forces in the city of Faisalabad about a week ago—close to the same time that Pakistani forces, again with American support, captured the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Karachi. The Taliban sources said that Mullah Salam was arrested with three other militants.

Mullah Salam was one of the Taliban's most effective commanders in northern Afghanistan and therefore one of the men most wanted by U.S. and NATO forces fighting there. Salam's soldiers are reputed to have been particularly deadly in their attacks on German troops fighting in northern Afghanistan.

Pretty soon folks will just point and laugh when GOP asshats try to hit President Obama on terrorism. And it won't be soon enough...

Dem Media Strategy On The Stimulus

In my last post I took journalists to task for allowing Republicans to use a new talking point about the stimulus, that people don't THINK it worked, without pushing back on it and making sure their audience understood that a big reason for that is because Republicans have yelled from the mountain tops for months that it didn't work. But now after hearing about Jake Tapper carrying water for the GOP and bringing the same talking point to the White House press briefing I think its time for a coordinated strategy by Democrats to push back on a talking point we are sure to hear for the next few weeks, even in the face of all actual evidence to the contrary.

The key question is who is bringing up the talking point. It could be a friendly journalist teeing up a GOP talking point specifically for a Democrat to swat it away. It could be a journalist like Tapper trying to put a Democrat on the spot. Or it could be a Republican on one of the cable shows pitted opposite a Democrat which seems to be all the rage these days.

Now obviously the first category with the friendly journalist should be the easiest, but these days you never know. So my advice would be to start off with this strategy and then if the "friendly" journo turns out to be not so friendly, just transition to the category I strategy.

Category I

With a friendly journalist its usually best to make light of the situation before getting serious. I would advise coming up with several different examples of something that was once thought of as a consensus fact only to later be thoroughly debunked. In the earlier post I used the example of how everyone used to think the earth was flat. Others off the top of my head would be, the moon was made out of cheese, that the Sun orbited the Earth, and if you want to get a little snarky you can even point out that a majority once thought that Saddam had WMD.

After the witty comment quickly pivot into the meat of the issues. Quote several independent sources like the CBO on how many jobs were created with the stimulus bill. Then acknowledge that more has to be done and that the unemployment numbers are indeed a factor in the negative perception of the stimulus. Then, however, forcefully transition into a denunciation of the Congressional Republicans. Point out that they have said for months and months that the stimulus bill failed without every being challenged to quote a credible economist or study that backs up that claim. Challenge the friendly to ask them where they got their information that the stimulus failed the next time they speak to a Republican. Then tie it to Republican obstructionism in the Senate. Point out that while everyone else is focusing on getting the country back on track, Congressional Republicans are focusing on winning back Congress no matter what the price.

Make sure to differentiate with the term Congressional Republicans so as to not offend rank and file Republicans any more than they are already.

Category II

When you have an adversarial member of the media speaking to a Democrat one on one, whether it be at the press briefing with Gibbs, or just a rank and file Congressional Democrat or just a Dem strategist, the key is to turn it back on to the mainstream media. Yes this will make for a contentious exchange but it will be worth it. The one thing Republicans and their right wing base has become especially adept at is pushing the media to the right by claiming over and over and over again a mythical liberal bias. Now is as good a time as any to change that.

You will want to ask a question along the lines of what is the ratio of independent economists their news organization has asked about the stimulus versus how many politicians they have asked. How many quotes from the CBO director about the stimulus have appeared in their publication or on their news station versus how many statements from politicians have been used. The clear implication you want to try to make is that its the media, not the Democrats, who have failed to inform the American people. And that because our media almost exclusively covers politics the same as policy like a horse race, they are no longer serving their readers and viewers. If its a member of a right wing media outfit like FoxNews or the Washington Times you can even go as far as to ask them why their own employees have joined the Republicans in calling the stimulus a failure without ever having to back up that assertation with information from an impartial expert on economics.

Right at the end of your response make sure to note that while politics usually does have spin from both sides, policy usually has a right and a wrong. There are ways to measure whether the stimulus worked or not and if the majority of Americans don't believe it worked, but the overwhelming majority of credible, independent economists say it did then obviously our media is not doing their job well.

For sure this could provoke backlash at a later date, but I personally think it would be worth it.

Category III

I think pushing back on Republicans when Democrats are on one of those shows where supposedly both sides are represented should be the easiest job of all. Two words should sum up this strategy, interrupt and attack. Every time a Republican brings up public opinion on the stimulus interrupt them and ask them how many times they personally had said it was a failure. They probably won't respond but keep pressing the question until its obvious they do not want to answer. If they make the mistake of actually repeating the canard that it really didn't work or "it didn't create one job" then interrupt and ask them to give the viewers the source they are using for that assertion. Again, don't expect them to answer directly but keep asking the question until its obvious they won't answer it.

When its your turn to talk whether it be first or second have a list ready of economists and independent entities like the CBO which have said the stimulus bill created a million jobs or more. Read off the list and then ask the GOP adversary if they are going on record to say all of those people and organizations are lying. Further ask them, not the host but the GOP adversary, what their background is in economics. Do they have a nobel prize? Have they ever worked for the CBO? Ask them what standing they have to call the stimulus bill a failure other than their status as a politician.

At some point the host will probably regain order and you can tout all of the positive things about the stimulus. But before the segment is over make sure to address the GOP adversary directly again and ask them a question of this nature "Isn't it true that you and members of your party on the Hill believe that it is advantageous for your election prospects if the American people believe the stimulus bill failed even if it isn't true?" Of course they won't answer and the host may try to step in but keep demanding that they answer the question. Keep it up the pressure and keep them on the defensive instead of the other way around.

Now to be sure at some point the Republicans will come up with a new talking point to harp on and at that point the strategy to push back on them will have to change. But I am willing to bet that for the next few weeks we will hear this "the American people don't believe it worked" talking point over and over. Hopefully for once Democrats will be well prepared to not only shoot them down, but also make them run for cover.

A Useful Rejoinder

The GOP is so desperate for a talking point now that all impirical evidence proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the stimulus bill succeeded that its a wonder that any reputable news outlet takes them seriously anymore....but not surprising.

But here is my thing. The latest talking point is based on avoiding any discussion of whether the stimulus bill worked, and instead focusing on polling that suggests most of Americans don't THINK it worked. Well I guess that is fair game but here is my thing. These guys spent all of last year furiously pushing the notion that the stimulus bill didn't work. Over and over and over again they took to the airwaves to repeat it. So wouldn't it make sense for journalists to point that out every time the GOP comes with the talking point.

Here is a mock interview.

Journalist to GOP representative: The evidence seems overwhelming at this point that the stimulus bill worked and did in fact create by some accounts two million or more jobs. What do you have to say to that when just last year you and your party had deemed it a failure?

GOP Rep: Well, ya know, less than 10 percent of the American people actually think the stimulus bill worked. So its clear that the Obama administration...

Journalist cuts in: But isn't it true that those polling numbers just mean that the GOP has great messaging? I mean people once thought the world was flat, but that didn't make it true did it?

I know this is probably a pipe dream, but I would pay good money to see an exchange like that on my TV. Especially if its on a regular basis.

FOP Endorses Democrat Kendrick Meek In Florida US Senate Race

Orlando, FL - The Florida Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) announced its endorsement of Kendrick Meek in the Democratic primary this morning during their February Board of Trustees Meeting in Orlando.

"Congressman Meek has served Florida's law enforcement community as a Trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol and he served in the Florida Legislature in both the House of Representatives and the Florida Senate as an advocate for education and better opportunities for all Florida citizens. We believe Congressman Meek has worked hard in Washington, D.C. and will continue to represent the best interests of Floridians in the U.S. Senate," stated the Fraternal Order of Police.

In response, Kendrick Meek said: "As a former Captain of the Florida Highway Patrol, I know firsthand the hard work and dedication of the law enforcement community in this state. It is an honor to be endorsed by my brothers and sisters in uniform, some of the finest and most honorable citizens in Florida. Florida's families are in need of economic relief, and that includes Florida's law enforcement families. We are being asked to do more with less, and Florida's law enforcement community deserves better."

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) is an organization of sworn law enforcement officers in the United States. The Florida FOP Labor Council represents law enforcement professionals and more law enforcement bargaining units than any other union in Florida.

I know people are overlooking Congressman Meek because of the coverage of the spitball fight between Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist in the Republican primary, but he is quietly racking up some significant endorsements and he has a great personal as well as professional story. The more Floridians hear about him and from him, the more I think they will be very impressed.

When Keeping It Real Goes WAYYYYYY Wrong

Now this video obviously has some racial undertones as it seems, although we don't see the full exchange at the beginning, that the black guy is offended by something the older white guy said about shining shoes. But really, this is moreso a lesson about not letting your mouth write checks your ass can't cash. Regardless of the disagreement, the older guy got up and moved to another part of the bus and did his part to diffuse the situation. The young guy, however, just wasn't going to let it go. And to be fair, the older guy DID warn him that he "slaps the shit out of" guys like the young guy.

He meant that!

So learn a lesson folks, think twice about trying somebody just because you think they are weaker than you, especially when its apparent they aren't scared of you.

Oh and as a sidenote, how funny was it to hear ole girl filming the altercation first goading the young guy into fighting then after he gets his smashed talking about suing?