July 30, 2009

To Coin a Phrase, It's Time for the Birthers to Move On (.org)
— Gabriel Malor

Birtherism--the belief that President Obama is not a natural born citizen of the United States--is a cancer, a blight, a toxin eating away at the public consciousness. Consider what good shape we are in right now to really smack the Democrats around in 2010. And yet, every time I've turned on the TV or the radio this week, people are blathering about the Birthers.

Not that anyone talking about it agrees with them. Everyone from Coulter and Malkin on one side and Paglia and Gibbs on the other have emphasized about how messed up the Birthers are. They use words like "rabid", "crazy", and "fanatic". Moreover, although coverage of the "conspiracy" has recently picked up and contrary to the claims of Birthers that the media ignored the issue until now, serious discussion from a serious news outlet (I mean NR, of course) started in June of last year. It prompted then-candidate Obama to release a copy of his Certification of Live Birth ("COLB"), which irritatingly enough only encouraged the Birthers.

That's the problem with this little conspiracy and why I don't bother arguing with the Birthers anymore. Anything the President does gets twisted into evidence that he isn't a citizen. That's why I bailed so fast. As you can see from that link, I wasn't initially hostile to the idea that the President had something to prove. It's just...once he did, I moved on. Robert Gibbs is right. There is simply nothing the President can do that will satisfy the Birthers.

Even if he could release the "original" long-form certificate (which he can't--Hawaii only issues short-form COLBs), it wouldn't end the conspiracy-mongering. First, because the Birthers who are so certain that the COLB is faked and that the Hawaii officials who have claimed that the original record lists Obama's birth in Hawaii are never going to believe that a long-form provided by the President isn't fraudulent. Their insistence that everything will be fine as long as he releases just one more document is belied by the way they treated the COLB, which was deprived of credibility because it came from the President and was handled by Democrats. The demands to see the "long-form" certificate are thus convenient since it's the one thing the President can't provide and which, necessarily, is in the custody of Democrats in Hawaii right now.

Second, even were Obama able to produce the original or a certified "long-form" certificate, it wouldn't stop the conspiracy theorists who think he somehow renounced his citizenship as a child or can't be a natural born citizen if he ever held dual citizenship or--the most fringe and most offensive suggestion I've seen--that the children of aliens (legal or illegal) born in this country cannot be natural born citizens. The Birthers seem pretty desperate to carve out some exception to the American conception of birthright citizenship so as to exclude the President even if he was born in Hawaii.

Which leads me to the point I'd intended to start with: Birtherism is Bad. It's bad for you; it's bad for me. More importantly and for obvious reasons it's bad for the Republican Party. And most importantly it's bad for America. It is fundamentally anti-democratic. It is inherently anti-constitutional. Let me explain:

The Birthers want the courts to void an election and overthrow a President. That is not something that the Constitution gives courts the authority to do. In fact, the Founders kept the courts away from elections and away from sitting presidents. Ultimately, the Constitution gives Congress the power to unseat Presidents. Not the courts. Hence, when I say that Birtherism is inherently anti-constitutional, I mean they are asking for something so heinously contrary to American tradition that it makes my blood boil.

(Incidentally, that is why I have occasionally treated Birthers so poorly in the comments here and on Twitter and why we here at the HQ have entertained discussion on this topic so infrequently. People--including myself--tend to go from zero to FLAMING DEATH very fast on this topic.)

In the same vein, it is anti-democratic because they are looking to overturn the judgment of a majority of voters in this country that President Obama is eligible to serve. They want to disregard the wishes of a majority of voters. They want to throw out their votes. I find that equally offensive as their desire to ignore the Constitutional scheme with regard to removing Presidents from office.

The Twelfth Amendment gives to the Electors (that is, the members of the Electoral College) the power to vote for the President. Ultimately, it is their judgment--backstopped by Congress, which certifies their votes--that carries the day. And in the present case, the Electors deemed Obama fit for the Presidency. That should be the end of the discussion. The voters voted. The Electors elected. They fulfilled their constitutional roles and the courts have no business going around them.

Somewhere, somehow, people got the impression that all disputes are meant to be resolved by the courts. But it's just not true. The Constitution gives the courts no special authority to overrule the Electoral College. Many have suggested that the Constitution would not list requirements for the presidency if there was no one to enforce them. The Birthers are ignoring the most basic component of our democracy: the voters. They get to enforce the requirements for the presidency. The Birthers are ignoring the Electoral College. They also get to enforce the requirements for the presidency. And the Birthers are ignoring the Congress, which certifies the vote. All three are designated by the Constitution to participate in the process of choosing a President. Do you know who isn't constitutionally part of that process? The courts.

Which brings me to the lawsuits. They're bad, folks. Really bad. Most are poorly written, with formating errors and fractured English to make any person cringe. But more importantly, they are legally deficient. Many of the plaintiffs lack personal injury--like the guy who volunteered for duty in Afghanistan and then un-volunteered himself. Even more fail to state a cause of action; that is, a theory on which they are suing. This isn't entirely their fault, though. As I implied above, the law is not designed to unseat presidents. Most of the suits try and bootstrap their way there, but the real problem is that there is no remedy the courts can provide.

Setting aside for a minute the fact that the Constitution commits the power to remove sitting presidents to Congress and gives the courts no particular authority to depose them, what could a court do? Void all acts of the Executive Branch for the past six months? Order new elections? Declare McCain the winner? Install Biden as a replacement? Ask the Queen for her iPod back? You get the picture. The courts will rightly invoke the political question doctrine--the idea that it is merely a co-equal branch of government and not overseer of the other two--and decline to rule on the issue.

You may wonder, what about lawsuits short of asking to remove the President? Perhaps the Birthers could sue merely for the release of the original birth certificate or a long-form certificate. Sure, but now we're back to standing. How have you particularly been injured by the failure of the President (or the State of Hawaii) to release the original certificate when they've already released a COLB which is accepted by every court and agency, state or federal in the U.S.? You're not going to be put in any better position with regard to his constitutional eligibility for the presidency than you already are. Hence, no injury.

Now, the original birth certificate might contain other juicy information. I have conjectured that it might have an embarrassing religion listed (assuming that Hawaii listed religion like my own state of Texas did) or perhaps a scandalous father's name omitted. But no one is entitled to that information. It would not form the basis of a plausible lawsuit, though it would be ammunition the President would not want to give away.

Furthermore, holding out on this is making the President's political opponents look bad. It's certainly not costing him any time or money; his campaign paid for the early suits and now the DOJ is defending them. He can sit back and forget about the whole thing. In the meantime, Birtherism is a useful distraction from the real issues. As Drew observed earlier in the week, it's very convenient that just as Obama is getting pounded in the polls, Gibbsy finally wants to talk about Birtherism.

In short, my message is for the waverers: don't fall for Birtherism. First, the President is a natural born citizen; he proved it the only way current Hawaii law allows. Second, under no circumstances should you support a movement that wants the courts to start overthrowing lawful elections and, in fact, I want you to join me in condemning the very notion. Third, don't make this the Republican version of the "selected not elected" movement. It was ridiculous from the Left after Bush v. Gore. We really need to move on to the stuff that matters.

Update on the Futility of Trying to Engage Birthers:

It's probably more fun and at least as useful to just call them names. For example, a lunatic in comments:

If that COLB is authentic, then why is it Hawiaan officials tell us, "I saw the long document. It's legit." If this COLB was authentic, there would be no need for them to state this. The fact that they do shows their own admission that the COLB, which Obama has promoted as proof, is not proof at all.

Did you get that? Obama releases a COLB--the one and only document that Hawaii provides when you make a birth certificate request. People claim it's fraudulent. So Hawaii officials say it's accurate. Somehow, in their fevered little brains the fact that Hawaii officials had to publicly comment on this--owing to the Birthers own screechy protests--is taken as proof that the COLB is fraudulent. o_O

Another example, from a long-time commenter (this makes Baby Jesus cry):

It has legs because of Jug Ears's actions in trying to suppress the actual BC.

Suppress the "actual BC"? Oy. The COLB is out there. That's the document Hawaii gives you if you ask for a birth certificate. He has no obligation to show more than he has.

And this from a new one:

Is it really too much to ask for an elected President to show a Valid Birth Certificate?

He did, fruitcake. That it didn't satisfy you is your problem and (I wish) not mine or the President's.

Finally, the persistence in claims that Obama went to Pakistan using another citizenship (he didn't) or that his National Records EO somehow would keep Hawaii from releasing his birth certificate (it doesn't). But try explaining that to them. You just get frantic denials.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 04:35 AM | Add Comment
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Just a Reminder
— Slublog

Then-Senator Barack Obama, October 18, 2008:

OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it's important for the American public to understand that the $750 billion rescue package, if it's structured properly, and, as president, I will make sure it's structured properly, means that ultimately taxpayers get their money back, and that's important to understand.

But there is no doubt that we've been living beyond our means and we're going to have to make some adjustments.

Now, what I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut. I haven't made a promise about...

SCHIEFFER: But you're going to have to cut some of these programs, certainly.

OBAMA: Absolutely. So let me get to that. What I want to emphasize, though, is that I have been a strong proponent of pay-as- you-go. Every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an additional cut so that it matches.

Words...just words.

Via: Baseballcrank

Lies...Just Lies... - Obama to Businessweek: "I haven't signed a bill that's raised taxes yet."

Posted by: Slublog at 04:20 AM | Comments (2)
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Top Headline Comments 07-30-09
— Gabriel Malor

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 04:13 AM | Comments (1)
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July 29, 2009

Am I Stupid Enough to Get All Excited About a Tron Movie for the Second Time?
— Ace

Especially now that the innovative effects of the old Tron are now crude?

Why yes, I am. more...

Posted by: Ace at 07:15 PM | Comments (1)
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Proof, of the Kind the Media Has Previously Accepted, That Obama is Not a Natural Born Citizen
— Ace

It's dated 1961 and everything.

Posted by: Ace at 07:02 PM | Comments (1)
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Overnight Open Thread – (genghis)
— Open Blog

Must type fast before the keyboard finishes melting (Also, the National Weather Service says it got up to 105 a couple of hours after that story was written. Where the hell’s Al Gore? Someone get his ass here stat!) I’d like to issue a pre-emptive “piss off” to anyone reading or commenting from Vegas or Phoenix who feel the urge to share with us how it got up to 130 in the shade today where you’re at. Because you’re not in the shade…you’re in a building/house with air conditioning. Who’s got the big balls now sucka’?

The cleaning out of the bookmarks continues with a couple from Popular Mechanics (with a summertime theme):

1. How about 5 Theme Park Rides that Pushed the Limits of Common Sense? Or,

2. 16 DIY Projects that Make Summer More Fun. Actually, now that I look at the list, it kind of looks like they make summer more lame. Now if it’d been “16 Exploding Projects…” Send requests for subscription refunds to Ace. His address is over there on the left of the page somewhere.

Since Drew’s “Herding Cats” vid below made us all giggle like schoolgirls (and write “Drew” on our spiral notebooks surrounded by hundreds of little hearts.), here’s another one from EDS which concerns squirrels:

I’m sure there’s some kind of analogy to a current political issue or something here, but it’s not coming to me right away. There’s probably a reason why Ace only lets me out at night. Well, several, but that’s the only one you and my parole officer need to know about for now.

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Ooops....Deal With Blue Dogs Causes Problems With Liberals. No Committee Mark Up Today After All
— DrewM

The deal with the Blue Dogs was supposed to clear the way for the House Energy and Commerce Committee to mark up (write) a health care bill. It didn't happen today.

The hold up wasn't caused by the 'conservatives', it was the 'progressives' this time..

House liberals have quickly rejected a healthcare compromise their leaders forged with centrist Blue Dogs, putting the deal on shaky ground only hours after it was announced.

"It's unacceptable," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "We're not going to vote for anything that doesn't have a robust public plan."

The Progressive Caucus has 83 members. Members are circulating a letter for signatures protesting the deal.

Liberals are hoping to get 50 signatures on the letter, to make it clear they have the votes to defeat the biil.

"Fifty is our threshold," said Progressive Caucus co-chairman Raul Grijalva. "That'll kill anything."

Anyone still want to bet they will have something done by Friday?

Remember, it's Republicans the fault. If only!

*FTR-I did made some changes from the original post since I buried the lead the first time.

Keeping the various congressional factions together has to be something like this.

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Gallup: A Whole New Low; MSNBC Forced to Write Heartbreaking Headline About New Poll
— Ace

53%, his lowest yet, down slightly from his previous low of 54%, yesterday.

And his disapproval ooches back up to its high of 39%. (It had fallen, statistically meaninglessly, to 38% yesterday.)

Rasmussen and Zogby are proven accurate. Rasmussen has him at 49-50 among likelies, once again at -10 on that thing you know I don't really get.

Same deal in the NBC/WSJ poll. A commenter wrote that the MSNBC stooges were tearing their hair out about it.

Despite his public-relations blitz over the past two weeks to promote his plans to reform the nation's health-care system — including holding two town halls on Wednesday — President Barack Obama has lost ground on this issue with the American public, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Pluralities now say that the president’s health care plan is a bad idea, and that it will result in the quality of their care getting worse. What’s more, just four in 10 approve of his handling on the issue.

The poll also finds that Obama's overall job-approval rating has dropped to 53 percent. And it shows a public that has grown increasingly concerned about the federal government's spending as the administration defends its $787 billion economic stimulus and supports a $1 trillion-plus health-care bill.

I am beginning to realize it is no accident that these polls -- which always previously told us the disapproval number as well -- keep hiding it.

They're doing it deliberately. To them, it doesn't matter how many people disapprove of Obama. The only thing that matters are the people who matter, and those are the 53%.

I cannot remember ever having to search for Bush's disapproval figure. But this is like the third poll in three weeks where I have to go to the crosstabs for the stat.

It's 40%, as if we care about those 40% of the public, in case you're curious. Which is certainly an all-time high for Obama in the NBC poll, and maybe something they should have mentioned. (Higher than Gallup's number by a point.)

“This is a president who needs a vacation,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “His job rating is … certainly an acceptable mark. But if you look at it over time, it has [gone] south without a doubt.”

On heath care, more bad news:

As Congress works on its legislation and as Obama campaigns to get an overhaul enacted, 42 percent now say that the president’s plan is a bad idea, which is a 10-point increase since last month. Thirty-six percent say it’s a good idea.

In addition, 39 percent — a plurality — believe that Obama’s plan would result in the quality of their health care getting worse. That’s 15-point jump since April.

And just 41 percent approve of the president’s job on health care, which is nearly identical to Bill Clinton’s scores from 1994, when he failed to get Congress to pass health care reform.

Here's a shock for ya:

Americans who have private health insurance disapprove of Obama’s job on health care by a 51-38 percent margin. Those who lack insurance, however, approve of his job, 52-29 percent.

Trouble is 85% of the country has insurance.

And on the Stimulus Stabilization Bill:

The public also has concerns with the progress of the $787 billion economic stimulus that Obama signed into law in February. In the poll, 43 percent believe the legislation was a bad idea, up 16 points since January. Just 34 percent say the stimulus was a good idea.

The media can no longer justify its puff-coverage on the grounds of "But Barack Obama is like sooooo popular!"

(As if that is actually justification for not doing their jobs in the first place.)

Posted by: Ace at 02:55 PM | Comments (3)
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2010: The Year We Make Contact?
— Ace

Or, "Reap Year"?

Democrats giddy with possibilities only six months ago now confront a perilous 2010 landscape signaled by troublesome signs of President Barack Obama’s political mortality, the plunging popularity of many governors and rising disquiet among many vulnerable House Democrats.


Bolstered by historical trends that work in the GOP’s favor — midterm elections are typically hostile to the party in power — and the prospect of the first election in a decade without former President George W. Bush either on the ballot or in office, Republicans find themselves on the offensive for the first time since 2004.


“What’s hurting the Democrats badly is that people are afraid of the deficit and spending. They don’t see signs of economic growth, and people are worried,” said GOP pollster John McLaughlin. “If you look at the economy right now, voters gave the Democrats benefit of the doubt, they thought the stimulus would work, unemployment would recede — and they’re finding out now it’s not the case.”


The polls tell only part of the story. National Republicans have recently met with success in persuading a number of top recruits to commit to 2010 races that not so long ago looked considerably less attractive — the surest signal that potential GOP candidates view the playing field as less tilted against them than just a few months earlier.

Ah, that is a big thing, candidate recruitment. Good candidates shy away from futile races. The better the situation looks, the better candidates we get.

Politico notes that the odds of winning the House outright are small. Or zero. And the odds of winning the Senate are even weaker -- because of GOP retirements, we're defending 18 seats while the Dems defend 18. Everything else being equal, it's a fight to just stay even.

But there is a lot of room for growth.

I don't think Politico mentioned it, but Barack Obama is also not on the ballot in 2010. Many Obama-only voters will come to the polls again, but many -- more? -- will sit out the election as not having enough MTV hype and Michael Bay explosions for their liking. And a good number of them, hopefully, will have realized their colossal error.

The Democrats convinced the public in 2006 and 2008 that it was now safe to vote Democratic again. But after posing as moderates for four years, the public sees what they are, and they're the same taxing-and-spending hippies in suits they always were. The public's having an "A ha" moment as it realizes the Democrats are exactly who they always thought they were.*

* Yes, this paragraph was written as pure pretext, to justify linking a different Abba song.

Recruitment: A few weeks ago Geraghty noted the GOP is getting the candidates it seeks for 2010.

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Obama's "Science" Czar Pushed "De-Development" of US in Seventies, to Reduce Economic Activity and Bring Us in Harmony With Nature
— Ace

Harmony with nature. Only a guy who's never gotten lost in the woods with nothing to eat and growing worries about exposure and frostbite could be so sanguine about being "in harmony with nature," also known "at the mercy of nature."

Nature is a many things, including beautiful. But it's a terrible beauty. Nothing at all like the benevolent ersatz god of hippies and hemp they imagine it to be.

But our "science" czar proposed de-industrializing and reducing our consumption in order to live lives closer to the way nature intended, to wit, nasty, brutish, and short.

Oh -- and, of course. While he was vigorously campaigning for the elimination of most of the Western World's wealth, he was simultaneously urging that what was left of it (by the Planetary Regime which would enforce such laws) be redistributed to those more deserving of nature's frugal bounty.

Hail Science. Our Science, Who Art in Heaven...

"A massive campaign must be launched to restore a high-quality environment in North America and to de-develop the United States," Holdren wrote in a 1973 book he co-authored with Paul R. Ehrlch and Anne H. Ehrlich. "De-development means bringing our economic system (especially patterns of consumption) into line with the realities of ecology and the global resource situation."

In the vision expressed by Holdren and his co-authors, the Ehrlichs, the need for "de-development" of the United States demanded a redistribtuion of wealth.

"The need for de-development presents our economists with a major challenge," they wrote. "They must design a stable, low-consumption economy in which there is a much more equitable distribution of wealth than in the present one. Redistribution of wealth both within and among nations is absolutely essential, if a decent life is to be provided to every human being."

But you know, we can't question him, because somehow advocating armed "Planetary Regimes" coercing a public into forced sterilizations and lives of misery and poverty is "science," rather than what it used to be called, "Marxist political philosophy."

(Which, if I'm not mistaken, was heralded as "scientific" too, I think.)

I am personally pro-environment. What I am not is anti-human, which these bloody-minded humanity-crushing lunatics really are.

Posted by: Ace at 12:18 PM | Comments (1)
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Ouch: Larry Kudlow Thinks Economy May Actually Be on Mend, With 2-3% Annualized Growth In Last Two Quarters of This Year
— Ace

Kudlow is a famously an economic optimist (under all presidents of all parties), so bear that bias in mind.

But he is a bona fide economist and professional smart-guy, so he has me worried a bit about the coming of my long-feared nightmare scenario -- Obama sabotages the economy, but not quite enough that the public realizes it, and rewards him for his sabotage.

Truth be told, respected economists like Donald Marron, Keith Hennessey, Bruce Bartlett, and Kevin Hassett have all carefully chronicled the fact that the Obama stimulus package does not feature any real fiscal multipliers. They say the bulk of the package consists of transfer payments to individuals and states, along with tax credits that will produce no real incentive effects to spur economic growth.

But the fact remains that numerous signs are now pointing to economic recovery. And the GOP needs to craft a smart political response to this. Obama and Biden will surely take credit for the better economic news, just as any White House would. It's the way the political game is played. But Republicans have to play the game, too.


Sen. DeMint told me during our interview that the economy is getting better mainly because of the corrective forces of free-market capitalism in the private free-enterprise sector, and not from all this government spending and borrowing. Abstracting from the Fed's big stimulus effort, he's right.

But the White House is going to take credit for economic recovery anyway, and that's the newest political challenge for the GOP.

Good point, I think. The GOP cannot afford to leave things purely to chance and put all their eggs in the economic-decline basket. True, messages mean very little, and it's facts on the ground that matter, but it can't hurt to fashion messages that emphasize the stuff that the vagaries of the economy can't and won't change (such as the exploding deficits).

It's Not Just the Unemployment, It's That Obama Misrepresented Himself to a Public Now Feeling Burned and Conned: Jennifer Rubin writes it's not merely the unemployment numbers dragging Obama down, but his dishonest pose as a moderate when he is, was, and always will be a hard liberal. ("Leftist" at heart, I suppose, but constrained by the facts of life in America to merely be a hard liberal.)

Posted by: Ace at 11:28 AM | Comments (2)
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Someone Notices: Stocks Just Happen to Go Up as Democratic Agenda Crashes and Burns
— Ace

Former troll Poon always liked to point out we were having a bear-market rally.

Isn't that wonderful?

Well, bear-market rallies are no big thing, first of all. A market which debates itself whether the future outlook is "very poor" or merely "poor," oscillating between 8000 and 9000, doesn't fill me with confidence.

Secondly, though, the rally just happened to occur as it became clear that Obama's biggest wealth-destroying initiatives -- cap and tax and Department of Motor Vehicles HMOs-- were in serious trouble.

In response, the market revised its opinion from "the future looks black" to "the future looks like a shade of gray." What shade of gray? Charcoal, Fletch answered.

Brian Gardner, an analyst with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, explains that when markets cratered in March, investors worried the Obama administration would nationalize the country’s banks, impose punitive rules on credit card issuers and allow judges to lower the principal and interest payments on mortgages. They saw ever-widening deficits and buckets of debt set to increase with massive healthcare legislation.

Since then, the bankruptcy bill has fizzled and nationalization talk has died out. President Barack Obama did sign a credit card bill into law, but its provisions were much weaker than the industry feared.

Separately, healthcare reform has slowed while a climate change bill imposing taxes on businesses that emit pollutants has stalled in the Senate.


“It’s very much a factor in what’s driving the market over the last couple weeks,” Gardner said of the slowed agenda in Washington.

Did I Say Two Biggest Wealth-Destroying Measures? I meant to mention "And Card Check is looking in bad shape too."

So bad it won't be undertaken this year.

Obama's big success consists of being a poor enough executive such that his ability to further damage the economy has been sharply limited.

Yay, Obama...? I guess.

Posted by: Ace at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)
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Open Blog for Tomorrow
— Ace

Just wanted to give a head's up in case anyone wanted to write something in advance.

I'm going to be out on the road all day tomorrow.

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Ad: Hittin' 'Em With Both Barrels
— Ace

Posted by: Ace at 09:49 AM | Comments (2)
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Blue Dogs Sell Out? Agree to Move ObamaCare Forward in Exchange for $100 Billion in Imaginary Cuts?
— Ace

I'm a bit confused because there are two stories breaking, which may actually be the same story, one which suggests a victory for the anti-ObamaCare forces, the other that suggests defeat.

At Hot Air, the latest story is that the Blue Dogs have been granted a delay:

The Blue Dogs and House leaders have struck a deal to guarantee that the House will not vote on a healthcare bill before August, a leading Blue Dog said on Wednesday.

In exchange for putting off a floor vote until after Labor Day, the Energy and Commerce Committee may be allowed to continue its markup of the healthcare bill this week even if an agreement has not been reached between Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and seven Energy and Commerce Committee Blue Dogs over the content of the bill.

Asked if House leaders had told Democrats that there will be no House vote on healthcare before Friday, Blue Dog Co-Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) said, “I don’t think [leaders have] made public statements to that regard, but my understanding is that that would be part of an agreement, if they actually do move forward with an Energy and Commerce markup that there will be no vote on the House floor until after Labor Day.” …

“There has been no official announcement on floor timing, but at this point, the odds are that we will not likely vote before we adjourn for August,” a Democratic leadership aide said.

But AHFF Geoff sends me a WSJ story reporting that a deal has been struck:

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said that his committee will resume meetings on health-care legislation on Wednesday after reaching an agreement with conservative Democrats on the committee.

According to Waxman, the Energy and Commerce panel will hold a legislative session late Wednesday afternoon with the hope of approving the legislation by Friday. Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark., who has led health-care negotiations on behalf of the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Coalition, confirmed that Waxman and Blue Dogs on the committee had arrived at a compromise.

"We have reached an agreement that will allow health-care reform to move forward," Ross said.

Ross said that the overall cost of the bill had been reduced by $100 billion, and that a requirement in the bill that employers offer insurance coverage would exempt small businesses with payrolls of $500,000 or less.

Ross also said that a public health insurance option contained in the bill wouldn't use payment rates based on Medicare, which the Blue Dogs had strongly opposed.

It's my guess that is that in exchange for the fake-pretend "cuts," the vote is stalled, but mark-up proceeds, and, if the deal holds, ObamaCare will pass the House after the recess. Assuming we don't agitate enough to stop that.

It seems as though the Blue Dogs have accepted a deal in principle, and even if they've delayed the vote, they'll come around on it after the recess. Bear in mind that Madame Palomino only needs to pick off 13 or 14 of the 52 Blue Dogs to pass a bill on a razor-thin liberal-Democrats-only majority.

Drew's Guess: Drew seems a bit more sanguine that me. He thinks all that's happened here is that the Blue Dogs have agreed to something that the liberals can herald as a "breakthrough" and "serious progress," thus giving Pelosi and Obama some face-saving cover;

Here's my thought on what the Blue Dogs did...they gave Pelosi and Obama a way to save face.

Combine a marked up bill in the House with the possibility of a Senate Finance Committee report on how they might pay for something and Obama and the Democrats are likely to declare "Mission Accomplished-Kinda Sorta" on his August deadline.

Sure there's no bill for the President to sign but he'll say something like, "This is more than anyone has ever accomplished and it met my deadline. I won, I'm awesome". The press will dutifully agree.

No bill at all would have hurt the Dems and been a big Republican win but having a bill gives opponents something concrete to hit Congressmen and Senators over the head with. It's not as big a win as outright defeat would have been but it does provide an upside for opponents.

In this telling, there is no serious agreement or deal at all, just a fig leaf of contrived "progress" for the liberals to go home to their constituents with.

Hmmm. I think Drew's right, and I don't think I think that just because it's the more optimistic "We're still winning" scenario.

Out of Committee By End of Week: That's the plan. No full House vote, but the plan is to vote it out of committee in a "finalized" (supposedly) form.

I'm back to thinking Drew is wrong. Again, it only takes a baker's dozen of these supposedly moderate Democrats to pass this thing with the thinnest margin.

Tactical Blunder? So thinks Ed in an update to the already-linked post:

If they’re right, this is a tremendously stupid move by Democrats. It gives the Republicans a fixed target for the next few weeks, with an ability to cite the actual legislation and pick it apart, while painting moderate Democrats as fools who haven’t bothered to read it. Having no final version of the bill would have allowed Democrats to dodge questions about it. This makes them stand on the bill for weeks without getting moved out of way. Call it political target practice, practically akin to shooting ducks in a barrel, for the GOP.

Yes, but that's inevitable, isn't it? At some point they do have to produce a bill before voting on a bill. (Although they seem to be rather relaxed about this rule of late.)

While Ed's right about the problem of putting out a bill that can be attacked, that problem has to be compared to the previously-existing problem -- not having a bill to discuss at all, despite Obama's insistence that the time to debate was over and we had to immediately pass a bill which not only hadn't been written yet, but in fact whose basic contours were not even agreed to by anyone.

On the great "cuts" demanded by the Blue Dogs, bear in mind the $100 billion in cuts only take the total expense to somewhat less than one trillion dollars.

Furthermore, the cuts won't happen. So much of this debate is patently dishonest, as Obama and the Democrats deny rationing that will happen, and plump cuts that won't.

Phone Numbers: Under the fold. Pay special attention to guys who represent you. Or are at least in your state.

Be Nice, as tmi3rd sagely advises. If you give the signals that you'll vote for their opponents no matter what they do, well, they're not going to take you very seriously, are they? If you're a determined vote against them, they can't lose or win your vote.

On that point: Be wary of rhetoric and cant, which gives away a partisan. Words like "socialized," "tyranny," etc., mark you as ideologically opposed to them and ergo not even a possible vote for them. Put your objections in terms of the tangible, not the abstract.

Stuff that independents talk about: Higher taxes, rationed care, being forced into the equivalent of a government-run HMO, "co-ops" specifically intended to drive private insurers out of business, etc. Update: And, yeah, deficits forever. Why the hell are we taking on huge new spending obligations when we're already hemorrhaging money and in the midst of a great recession? Not sure if it's worth mentioning, but at least LBJ's Great Society spending was passed when the nation was prosperous and flush.

Remind them that 85% of the country is content with their health insurance and that it's unfair to ask you to do with less so that others might (maybe) have more.

It might be more fun to talk about abstractions and in rhetorical flourishes and slippery slopes, but swing voters are defined chiefly by a lack of adherence to an ideological superstructure of beliefs and assumptions, and focus, therefore, on the particulars and the concrete, not general principles and the abstract.

Not saying to lie about your ideological preference. No need to mention it either way. But cast your objections in tangible terms if you want to give the impression you're a swing voter.

To be honest, my own eyes glaze over when I hear or read a lot of rightist cant, and I'm in basic agreement with that cant.

A Nifty Widget for Sending Messages... Although of course you shouldn't send anything like the "editable text" provided. It's obviously composed by an opposition strategist.

Thanks to AHFF Geoff again for the widget and phone numbers.

Posted by: Ace at 08:12 AM | Comments (2)
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And So Begins The Coming Robot Apocalypse
— DrewM

Even robots don't like those snowback Scandis.

A Swedish company has been fined 25,000 kronor ($3,000) after a malfunctioning robot attacked and almost killed one of its workers at a factory north of Stockholm.

...The incident took place in June 2007 at a factory in Bålsta, north of Stockholm, when the industrial worker was trying to carry out maintenance on a defective machine generally used to lift heavy rocks. Thinking he had cut off the power supply, the man approached the robot with no sense of trepidation.

But the robot suddenly came to life and grabbed a tight hold of the victim's head. The man succeeded in defending himself but not before suffering serious injuries.

"The man was very lucky. He broke four ribs and came close to losing his life," said Leif Johansson.

Lessons learned...never approach a "robot with no sense of trepidation" and Scandis are going to be the death of us all.

Posted by: DrewM at 06:52 AM | Add Comment
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Democrats: You're Stupid, So We're Going to Blame Bush
— Slublog

With President Barack Obama's poll numbers falling to earth, he's decided to embark on a bold new initiative - blaming former President Bush for the country's woes.

Didn't see that coming. Democratic strategists are supporting the president in the only way they know how - engaging in mind-numbing spin:

"I'm not convinced that Obama and his supporters are bashing Bush as much as they are quite rightfully reminding people that our current economic mess and the wars were inherited from the Bush administration," said Democratic strategist Bud Jackson. "It's important to remind people of this because Republicans are now criticizing the Obama administration as if they had no role in how we got here."

Democratic Party strategist Liz Chadderdon said the strategy of blaming the previous team has been effective.

"I think Bush-bashing has been alive and well since '07 and, since it keeps working, why not use it?" she said. "Voters have short memories. The administration needs to remind people that things were way worse over the last four years than in the last six months."

Read that bold section again. You've got to wonder how much cranial fecal impaction it takes for someone to believe that statement. First off, she implies that all of you are idiots who can't remember what life was like three or four years ago. Second, her implication that the current economic conditions are worse than what we 'suffered' under George W. Hooverbush.

Let's look at the facts, shall we?

The unemployment rate went from 5.2% in January 2005 to 7.2% in December 2008. Overall, the average in that time was 5.03% President Obama signed the stimulus package in February of 2009 when the unemployment rate was still at 7.6% He promised the spending would keep the rate from going above 8%. It is now 9.5%, with no signs that it will improve in the near future. The state numbers are even worse.

2.6 million people lost their jobs in 2008. 2 million more have lost jobs since Jan 09.

Obama has repeatedly blamed the high deficits on the Bush administration, but his policies will only increase the nation's debt.

Average GDP
from Jan 05 to Dec 08 was 1.68% In the first quarter of Jan 09, it's -5.5. There has been some moderate growth from the last quarter of Dec 08, but still far below the level warranting the level of hyperbole used by Ms. Chadderdon.

The Obama administration says we have to 'spend money to keep from going bankrupt.' They're basing their faith in spending on the Keynsian multiplier effect, but even Keynes himself warned against combining recovery with economic reform:

...even wise and necessary Reform may, in some respects, impede and complicate Recovery. For it will upset the confidence of the business world and weaken their existing motives to action, before you have had time to put other motives in their place...
Full text of Keynes letter here. Obama's two signature proposals are cap-and-trade and healthcare reform. Neither will help the economy, and in fact, they may actually hurt it.

Had Ms. Chadderdon been less enamored with Bush-bashing and capable of more restraint in her speech, she could have said the first six months of the Obama administration have been better than the last six months of the Bush. Even that would have been something of a stretch, but it would have made her spin a bit more believable.

I say a bit because none of the spinners take into account what Obama's policies will necessitate: higher taxes on the middle class. Candidate Obama may have promised that your taxes wouldn't go up, but remember that every Obama promise comes with an expiration date.

Posted by: Slublog at 05:07 AM | Comments (1)
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— DrewM

No Gabe today, so it's a, um, a little late.

Posted by: DrewM at 04:52 AM | Comments (1)
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July 28, 2009

Overnight Open Thread – (genghis)
— Open Blog

Here at the ONT we don’t generally indulge ourselves in sentimental or Oprah-like moments (being the crass, drunken, unwashed freaks that we are) but tonight I’d like to pay a brief tribute to a hero. That’s a term that gets thrown around way too often these days and applied to people who don’t merit the distinction (pro athletes, me, entertainers, me etc. Did I mention me?). All screwing around aside though, I think here’s a guy who truly deserves that title. Here’s the first couple of paragraphs but you should read the whole thing. It not long and won’t strain your attention span too much.

”KELSO, Wash. (AP) - Allen Heck has been hailed a hero since running into the Cowlitz River last week to save a 9-year-old girl, losing his own life in the process. Unknown by most is that Heck was an extremely ill young homeless man with the simple goal of living to his 21st birthday. The 20-year-old Longview man had drifted for about three years after diabetes barred him from the only job he ever wanted - serving in the Army. Directionless, he made some bad decisions, family and friends admit, and was living at the Community House shelter at the time of the drowning.”

I can’t quite put my finger on it (and I don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion concerning theological questions…you can if you want), but there seems to be an underlying story here about redemption along with the fact that even what could be considered a failure of a life ended up making all the difference in the world on one hot summer day at a swimming hole.

But if you need some lighter fare, here’s a couple of stories that might keep you entertained (below the fold)

Posted by: Open Blog at 04:40 PM | Add Comment
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Ezra Klein, Who Has the Beautiful Luxury of Not Working for An Organization, Except Now He's Going to Be Diplomatic, Explains Health Insurance Exchanges
— Dave in Texas

Building the beginnings of a new, better healthcare system off to the side.

They're not at all intended to hoodwink the public into accepting single-payer by pretending it's something else.

Ah the lure of lower costs and improved quality.

Compared with the crazy-quilt system we have now, the idea behind the health insurance exchange is almost weirdly simple: It's a single market, structured for consumer convenience, in which you choose between the products of competing health insurers (both public and private). This is not a new idea. It is how we buy everything from books to socks to soup.

Which, incidentally, is not how we buy books and socks and soup, not from the federal government. Hell, we've only been buying cars from them for a few weeks now.

He explains the two flavors, called "strong plan" and "weak plan". Both in his view are just a means to an end, when he doesn't have to be diplomatic. But despite his obvious bias he writes they are both just competitive options to the private industry (which he wishes we could wipe away with the stroke of a pen).

Nonsense. It's absurd to assert that private insurors can hope to compete with a federally-backed public "option" that can dictate terms and conditions to providers (as it does now) instead of having to negotiate them. Private insurors cannot compete with a public option while unencumbered with the requirement to hold cash reserves to fund its plan (a public plan needs none of this, it will merely suck more obligations from the treasury).

It's almost "weirdly simple" because it's "weirdly made-up bullshit intended to sound like a smorgasboard of health care" while moving us down the road to the only fair system that could possibly work, that 86% of Americans don't want, only one choice that is no choice at all.

Posted by: Dave in Texas at 04:21 PM | Comments (1)
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