Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last Call

Rush Limbaugh has picked a fight with Motor Trend Magazine over the chevy Volt being named 2011 Car of the Year.  He really should have stuck to terrorizing moderate Republicans, because MT's Todd Lassa is having none of it.

You said, “Folks, of all the cars, no offense, General Motors, please, but of all the cars in the world, the Chevrolet Volt is the Car of the Year? Motor Trend magazine, that’s the end of them. How in the world do they have any credibility? Not one has been sold. The Volt is the Car of the Year.”

So, Mr. Limbaugh; you didn’t enjoy your drive of our 2011 Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Volt? Assuming you’ve been anywhere near the biggest automotive technological breakthrough since … I don’t know, maybe the self-starter, could you even find your way to the front seat? Or are you happy attacking a car that you’ve never even seen in person?

Last time you ranted about the Volt, you got confused about the “range,” and said on the air that the car could be driven no more than 40 miles at a time, period. At least you stayed away from that issue this time, but you continue to attack it as the car only a tree hugging, Obama-supporting Government Motors customer would want. As radio loudmouths like you would note, none of those potential customers were to be found after November 2.

Back to us for a moment, our credibility, Mr. Limbaugh, comes from actually driving and testing the car, and understanding its advanced technology. It comes from driving and testing virtually every new car sold, and from doing this once a year with all the all-new or significantly improved models all at the same time. We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.

It's awfully nice to see people stand up to Rush.  Lassa goes on to explain in detail how Rush's crusade against the Volt is based in fantasy, and was all created under, get this, Bush-era programs (and the takes George Will to task for the same distortions).  I'm curious as to how Limbaugh will exact his revenge.  I'm sure El Rushbo is having the House GOP work on it right now, because this time it's personal, baby.  So nice when a media figure has an entire political party to perform character assassinations with. I wonder how long Todd keeps his job.  My guess is he'll be pressured into a public apology and/or canned for this before Christmas, mainly because the article ends in this classic:

Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

I laughed for a good 3 minutes.

I do believe I owe Mr. Lassa here a round, he's going to need it before the Breitbart machine produces a video where he's seen crushing a box kittens with a 20 pound sledgehammer in front of a Sunday school class.  If you're going to go down, you go down swinging, sir. Kudos!

Orange You Glad For Change?

Seems that Republicans are not only against Nancy Pelosi stil being in charge of the Dems in the House, they don't have a very good opinion of their own House leadership, either.

If you need any more proof that Republicans retaking control of the House earlier this month wasn't much of a mandate consider this: 55% of Americans think House Republicans should replace the leaders they've had for the last couple years to only 27% who believe they should keep their positions with the ascent to the majority.

Independents were integral to the big Republican gains earlier this month and they in particular think it's time for the GOP to clean house- only 20% of them think the party should keep its current leadership in the House while 57% think it should be replaced. The results of last week's leadership elections made it clear Republicans don't plan any change of course and that's a big part of why Democrats could conceivably take the House right back in 2012- the GOP may need to change its act to keep the support of these independents but it doesn't appear to have any interest in doing so.

Democrats predictably think the Republicans should clean house, by a 67/17 margin. What might be more surprising is the continuing dissension within the GOP ranks- only 43% of Republican voters think the party should keep its leaders while 40% think they should be replaced. There had been some thought that winning would heal all wounds but that's clearly not the case- much of the GOP rank and file still wants to see a change in the party's Washington leadership.

Now that's just funny.  You thought America was mad at Nancy?  Seems they have a real big problem with Orange Julius as well.  Oh, best part of the poll?  Some 21% of America thinks the Republican party is too liberal, and a solid majority, 53%, think any incoming freshmen lawmakers who ran against health care reform should give up their government health plan.

The awesome cannot be contained.

Profiting More Than Marginally

The Commerce Department's latest figures show the best quarter in history for profits for US corporations.

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.66 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or non-inflation-adjusted terms.

Corporate profits have been going gangbusters for a while. Since their cyclical low in the fourth quarter of 2008, profits have grown for seven consecutive quarters, at some of the fastest rates in history.

This breakneck pace can be partly attributed to strong productivity growth — which means companies have been able to make more with less — as well as the fact that some of the profits of American companies come from abroad. Economic conditions in the United States may still be sluggish, but many emerging markets like India and China are expanding rapidly. 

So what are corporations doing with all these record profits?  Reinvesting in workers and expanding capital?  Increasing health and retirement benefits for workers?  Sharing the haul with the people on the front lines who made this huge haul possible?

Oh they're doing that.  Just not for workers in the United States.

So when businesses complain about the "uncertain regulatory environment" and how "corporate taxes are crushing them" and how they don't have money for investment because "the government is stifling innovation" and "drowning them in regulations" keep the fact that US corporations as a whole just had their best quarter in history in the back of your mind, as profits have risen dramatically since 2009, for seven straight quarters.

So, where's your cut of the action?  Oh that's right.  You don't get one.  Best quarter for corporations in decades, worst quarter for workers in decades as functional unemployment is over 20% in some areas of the country while companies are raking in billions...billions they then use to lobby Congress and buy media coverage to ensure they can keep making the big bucks.

But really, the problem is too much government socialism, right?  (Wonder how much of that profit was due to taxpayer subsidies?)

King Of Wishful Not-Thinking

Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King is slated to become the head of the House subcommittee that handles immigration, and BooMan wants him to bring the full frontal crazy.

I don't know how united the House Republicans are in their dislike of Latinos, so it's hard to say whether or not the soon-to-be chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law will be able to pass a law banning birthright citizenship. There are a couple of obvious obstacles standing in Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) way. The first is that such a statute would be plainly unconstitutional. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is unequivocal:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."
That clause became necessary to assure that the newly-emancipated slaves would be granted full citizenship rights. In other words, birthright citizenship was established as a constitutional principle to protect non-whites from discrimination of the kind currently being pursued by Rep. King. King's first problem, therefore, is that he has to convince a majority of the House to vote for something that is both racist and unconstitutional.

His second hurdle is getting people to vote for a plainly racist and unconstitutional law that will only serve to further alienate the growing Latino population from the Republican Party. There are a lot of Republicans who can read demographic trends in their districts and states, and who are not going to be eager to join in an effort to piss off Latinos. But King is going to try anyway. 

The third obstacle would have to be the Senate.  Who says Harry Reid would even bring King's legislation up for a vote?  Not me.

Fourth, like President Obama would sign this into law.

It's a complete waste of the American people's time.  But like BooMan says, let him do that.  Let him prove that the Republican "solution" to our problems as a country of 310 million Americans is to persecute Latinos for short-term political gain, Latinos who are our friends, neighbors, co-workers and loved ones.  Let them show all they have is more scapegoating and hatred.  Let them show their true nature.  Let him become a national embarrassment to Iowa.

Can't wait for 2012's GOP national party platform, which will no doubt include the desire to overturn half the amendments in the Constitution and go after anyone darker than Orange Julius.  That should go over well.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Dave Weigel weighs in on the Washington Post hiring Commentary's Jennifer Rubin.

Jennifer Rubin moves from Commentary to the Post's op-ed pages, which is obviously a smart move. Rubin had toiled in the vineyards of Pajamas Media and Commentary and the American Spectator for years, starting with smart stories that untangled complicated legal issues, moving to foreign policy and political punditry, and becoming one of the pundits that Republican politicians take seriously.

Michael Calderone mentions the hire in the context of my brief tenure at the Post mothership. I'm not privy to how these decisions are made, but I was hired in April to join the national desk, the politics section of the paper/web product; Rubin joins the opinion side of the paper. I covered the conservative movement with an inside/outside perspective; Rubin is absolutely in and of the movement. What we have in common is immediacy bordering on OCD -- I don't think Rubin can let any news go un-analyzed, which is what you want in a blogger/reporter/pundit.

My problem with Rubin is not her reporting and knowledge (which are both considerable), but the atrocious hackery she draws from it.  I've pointed out her terrible arguments on a number of occasions, and if this is what the Post is paying for, then they are doing it on purpose.  She's very eloquent and detailed as Weigel says, but her logic has more holes in it than the Bengals offensive line.  In a very real sense, she's the anti-Maddow.

No, the Post is hiring a partisan flamethrower with a veneer of credibility, Dave.  But you're right when you say it's a smart choice for them.  Who's going to call them on it?  Oh wait, Dave's already on that.

Carping from Media Matters about why the paper doesn't need more conservatives when it already has Will, Krauthammer, Gerson and Thiessen to begin in 3, 2...

Who the Post hires is the Post's business, but all this does is give Rubin's hackery a much wider audience.  The Post is good for that these days.

On the other hand, the Post could have hired Megan McArdle, so there is that.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Give Up Just Yet

Greg Sargent maps out the DADT repeal plan from here:

As you know, the news broke this morning that the Pentagon will release its much-anticipated report gauging the impact of repeal on November 30th, one day earlier than expected. It's reported to find that the policy can be repealed with only minimum and isolated risk. So how does this change the game?

The central question still remains: Will the Senate Democratic leadership agree to hold a cloture vote on the Defense Authorization Bill containing repeal, and will the leadership commit to a two week period of floor debate? This is key because in combination with the Pentagon report, holding this debate -- and allowing the full and open amendment process that Republicans have insisted on -- could remove the last pretext GOP moderates have to withold their support.

So here's what to watch: A senior leadership aide tells me the final decision on whether to hold that cloture vote and open debate will likely be made later next week. That's because Senator Carl Levin, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, has said he will hold hearings later next week on the released Pentagon report. The Senate Dem leadership intends to watch closely how the moderate GOP Senators publicly react to the Pentagon report in those hearings. If they seem to be softening, the prospect of getting 60 votes for repeal increases -- this is a real possibility, as far-fetched as it may seem -- which would ratchet up the pressure on Senate Dems to allow the cloture vote and agree to the protracted floor debate.

In other words, Carl Levin wants a public hearing, no doubt to shame moderates in both parties into voting for this.  It's a solid plan and one I think is going to work.

On the other hand, this plan does depend on Harry Reid following through on this.  And that's never a sure thing.  The hearings may be to pressure Reid more than Republicans, several of which have already come out in favor of repeal.

And again, the major obstacle to all this is Sen. John McCain, who continues to hold up proceedings even though he no longer has an argument.

In late September, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressing his concerns that the Pentagon’s Working Group review of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was operating under the condition that “the policy will be repealed” rather than studying if it should be changed. “I urge you and Admiral Mullen to modify the review and the survey instrument, or to conduct supplemental surveys, aimed at ensuring that the question of whether the DADT policy should be changed is answered,” McCain wrote in a letter dated September 28, 2010. [Read a copy of McCain's letter HERE]

Responding to the Senator’s request in a previously unreleased letter from October 25, 2010, Gates explained that the review was not a “referendum” on the policy, stressing, “I do not believe that military policy decisions — on this or any other subject — should be made through a referendum of Servicemembers.” He also emphasized that the final report would inform military leaders of the impacts of lifting the ban and help guide Congress in its decision making. 

Still not good enough for Johnny Volcano, who has changed his mind on DADT yet again and now says yet another study is needed.

Something To Be Thankful For

Even in the US county with the highest median income, Loudoun County, Virginia, Americans are facing a hard holiday season.

Although the unemployment rate in the area is lower than the national average, federal agencies say hunger and poverty here are on the rise.

The rate of those experiencing "food insecurity" - a government term for those unsure where their next meal may be coming from - has risen from 8 percent to 9.2 percent in Virginia, from 12 to 13 percent in the District and from 9 to 11 percent in Maryland, according to U.S. Agriculture Department estimates released this month.

At the Shabach Ministries "empowerment center" in a fraying neighborhood in Landover, a tiny three-bedroom house is stuffed to the bursting point with canned goods and other provisions. The group - the community services arm of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden - gave away groceries to 2,100 residents just four years ago. This year, it will provide help to more than 10,000, another record, said Cynthia Terry, the group's president.

Gwen Pope, the empowerment center's manager, said she has begun seeing a new clientele: the formerly affluent. They have burned through their savings and 401(k) accounts and are just now seeking help.

"You have people driving up in brand-new luxury cars," Pope said, "and they are sleeping in those cars. They are looking for foods that have pop tops to them because they are homeless." 

My problem with a lot of conservatives is that since they believe America is the most exceptional, blessed, entitled country on Earth, anyone in America who isn't making it big must be suffering because they are immoral people, unworthy of help that will make them lazy, dependent parasites.

Bad things are caused by bad people in this neo-Puritanical worldview.  If someone you know lost their job and are on unemployment and can't find a job, it's their fault...if you lose your job, it's the fault of the clearly immoral minority or woman who does have a job.

Or, you simply ignore it altogether.  Loudoun County doesn't have any homeless.  Not here, in America's wealthiest county by median income.  If you're winning, screw them.  If you're losing, bring them down to your level, then screw them.

I'm pretty damn thankful I have what I do have:  a job, a place to live, family and friends, a place to vent my frustrations and make observations.

How'd we get so cynical?

North By North Mess

North Korea's artillery attack on a South Korean island is mobilizing the UN Security Council to take action according to French diplomats.

Asked whether the Security council would meet, the source said: "It's in the works for either today or tomorrow. We are for it and (planning) is ongoing."

French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie condemned the North Korean shelling, which killed two soldiers and set dozens of houses ablaze.

"I condemn firmly the artillery strikes from North Korea on the Yeonpyeong island and that resulted in two deaths among South Korean military forces and several injured among the civilian population," Alliot-Marie said in a statement.

"France calls on North Korea to halt the provocation and refrain from any further acts that could worsen tensions in the region."

The attack by reclusive North Korea against its southern neighbor was one of the heaviest yet and followed revelations at the weekend that Pyongyang is fast developing another source of material to make atomic bombs.

I'm interested in the GOP response to all this, which I think will be based on the following argument.  How costly could another Korean War be really? We need adults in charge right now, and one party is filled with nothing but petulant, vengeful children.  If they have their way, crazy will be back on the menu again.

And if that doesn't scare the pants off of you, how would President McCain act...or President Palin handle this?

About That Whole Mandate Thing

Kudos to McClatchy for not only conducting a poll that finds a solid majority of Americans want to keep health care reform or improve it, not repeal it, but kudos for mentioning that fact in the story as well as part of a greater narrative that the GOP does not have a mandate.

A majority of Americans want the Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it, despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The post-election survey showed that 51 percent of registered voters want to keep the law or change it to do more, while 44 percent want to change it to do less or repeal it altogether.

Driving support for the law: Voters by margins of 2-1 or greater want to keep some of its best-known benefits, such as barring insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. One thing they don't like: the mandate that everyone must buy insurance. 

Of course it's complicated.  Everything is.  But the three big lame duck issues, the Bush tax cuts, health care reform, and repealing DADT are pretty much an even split.  It's not an overwhelming mandate anymore than Bush thought he had in 2004.

So of course the GOP is going to overreach on this.


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