Friday, May 6, 2011

Last Call

Mark my words, Mitt Romney will never survive the GOP primaries with his MassCare record.  How toxic is the guy to the Tea Party right?  This toxic.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) takes Dave Weigel for a spin in South Carolina. In 2007 DeMint endorsed Mitt Romney for President -- indeed, served as his campaign co-chair -- but reportedly won't do so again unless Romney disavows his Massachusetts universal health care law, which served as a model for ObamaCare. Reflecting on his past support, DeMint now suggests he was duped.

"I got involved with him before that," DeMint said, "and the concept that was presented to me was the idea of moving people from government plans to private plans. That's what the goal was. That's how my conversations went, and that's how it was presented. But the way it ended up.... I cannot accept all the mandates, all the government exchanges. And it hasn't worked."

Flashback to January 2007. RomneyCare is such a well known achievement that Romney wins DeMint's endorsement because of the law's success.

"[Romney] has demonstrated, when he stepped into government in a very difficult state, that he could work in a difficult partisan environment, take some good conservative ideas, like private health insurance, and apply them to the need to have everyone insured," DeMint said. "Those kind of ideas show an ability to bring people together that we haven't seen in national politics for a while. We don't need the nation to be more polarized."

Then in February of that year DeMint explained on Fox News that Romney should do for America what he had done for Massachusetts with health care: "Well, that's something that I think we should do for the whole country." 

You know, even Tea Party hero Jim DeMint thought MassCare was a great idea...and that it should be made national.  A whole lot of Republicans did.  But since Obama was the one to do it, Republicans have been spending the last two years railing against their own ideas, all because they hate Barack Obama.

That's really the core of it.  If George W. Bush had passed the exact same provisions in the PPACA, Republicans would be praising it across the country.  Because back when George W. Bush was President, that's exactly what Republicans were saying about the ideas that became law in 2010 under Obama.

It would be pathetic if it wasn't such a blood-boiler.

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

As I keep saying, we need all new branches of mathematics just to quantify how much the right despises President Obama.  Oliver Willis catches our old friend Doug "Director Blue" Ross failing at life, and the rest of the wingers failed right along with him.

ABC News' Jake Tapper published the following Tweet yesterday, showing cranes removing a U.S. flag from the Ground Zero site with the caption, "One minute to air and they decided to take the flag down from the live shot".

Some conservative bloggers took this to mean that President Obama ordered the removal of the flag.

And they all picked it up.  Malkinvania, Weasel Zippers, Matt Drudge.  Funny thing happened on the way to Ground Zero.

One problem. It isn't true. Multiple photos show that the flag was on full display when Obama arrived at Ground Zero. Tapper's tweet was posted at 6:30 pm -- hours after the President had left. In all likelihood, Tapper was saying that the flag was being removed before his live shot for ABC World News when he made his tweet.

To their credit, both Malkin and Ross have acknowledged that they got the story wrong, though Malkin erased her erroneous post rather than add a correction to the initial, inflammatory post, while Ross claimed "perhaps Tapper just confused all of us" and added, "I'm sticking by my "Marxist coup d'├ętat" comment."

Conservative media correcting falsehoods is the exception to the norm (here are just a few from Malkin and Ross that have gone uncorrected). Perhaps if they checked if a story sounded plausible before running with it, they'd spread less untruths.

Oops.  Facts don't matter when you have HOT DRUDGE SIREN WOOP WOOP WOOP ACTION to go with.

In all seriousness, folks, Michelle Malkin is still taken seriously by the Village and ends up on TV quite a bit.  Perhaps somebody should pay attention to this flag story the next time they think of calling Malkin in as an expert on anything other than "suffering from serious delusions."

Warren Peace?

Andy Knoll at MoJo has an interesting piece on Elizabeth Warren, the presumed head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  All of a sudden, the banks have stopped using Godwin's law to describe her.  Something's definitely up...

While Warren's nomination was too-toxic-to-touch mere months ago, the momentum of the past few weeks could be enough to convince the White House to tap her for the job. Whomever Obama picks, he'll need to do it soon: The deadline for having a permanent CFPB director in place is July 21, according to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. But no matter who the nominee, he or she faces massive opposition in Congress, with Republicans maneuvering to block not just Warren but any CFPB nominee if their demands to weaken the bureau are not met.

The warming to Warren is due, in large part, to a months-long outreach campaign aimed at members of the banking industry. According to calendars posted on the CFPB's website, Warren's schedule has included 150 appointments with industry officials since her first day in September—phone calls, in-person meetings, industry conference speeches, even visits to local bank branches. She's spoken with everyone from Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan to the head of the American Bankers Association to community bankers in states from Maine to Texas.

The charm offensive appears to be paying off—and at precisely the right time.

Michael Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, which represents more than 100 minority- and women-owned banks throughout the country, is another fan. He met with Warren in February and says he would support her as the nominee to run the CFPB because of her "genuine concern for protecting the rights for consumers and for her appreciation of the role banks play in the financial infrastructure of this country." Grant adds, "She's a win-win both for our industry and for the consumer if she is nominated and made permanent chief."

Paul Hickman, president and CEO of the Arizona Bankers Association, says he, too, came away impressed after he and a group of Arizona bankers and business leaders met with Warren in Washington. A former staffer for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Hickman says Warren went a long way toward allaying the industry's fears of a consumer bureau run amok that would slap banks with new regulations and bury them in paperwork. "I thought Elizabeth Warren did a really good job of letting the members of that meeting know, and the business people of Arizona know, that her mission was not to somehow suppress community banks," Hickman recalls.

But for some state banking chiefs, Warren's outreach has changed their mind about her but not about the CFPB itself. George Beattie, president and CEO of the Nebraska Bankers Association, told Mother Jones last fall that, in his view, Warren simply didn't understand community banks. Today, he's more positive about Warren, noting her "better appreciation for what banks in this country do for their communities." He worries more about having a single director run the CFPB, whether that's Warren or not. Beattie says he'd prefer a panel of directors run the bureau, like the Securities and Exchange Commission, though he ultimately thinks the bureau should be scrapped altogether. "The congress has created an exceedingly strong governmental agency with little oversight," he says. "I think that's a bad thing for this country regardless of who runs it."

So Elizabeth Warren isn't pure evil as far as the banks are concerned.  The problem is, the CFPB still is.  Sen. Richard Shelby and 44 other Senators have vowed to permanently filibuster any nominee to head the outfit until the CFPB itself is significantly weakened.  Dave Arkush:

Here’s what’s really going on, that the papers won’t be reporting: This letter signals that the Senate Republicans have surrendered their fight against Elizabeth Warren. In recent weeks there has been a strong, growing belief in Washington that the president will nominate Warren to head the CFPB. Public Citizen has been urging Obama to nominate her since last summer, and saying it’s a fight worth having. Warren is an outstanding champion for consumers. If the American public gets more exposure to her, they will love her. Wall Street and its congressional allies would be bruised and muddied by a nomination fight; she and the CFPB would be strengthened.

Apparently the Senate Republicans understand this. So they are doing the best they can to retreat strategically. It’s not a bad strategy: First, they are pretending their fight is about something else. They say they would oppose any nominee, not just Professor Warren, because the agency is structurally flawed. Second, they are forcing the president to make a recess appointment, which they will use to claim that he and the agency are unaccountable and undemocratic. Their arguments about the agency are specious, as recent congressional debate has shown. It’s clear that they simply oppose a strong consumer protection agency.

Or any agency, for that matter.

Your Political Cartoon Of The Moment

Gary McCoy provides some needed perspective:

WTH: What's Up, Sony?

Sony said the Internet security breach targeting its networks was more extensive than originally thought.

Hackers also gained access to databases containing subscriber information for Sony Online Entertainment, a San Diego subsidiary that makes online multiplayer games for computers and the PlayStation 3. The Sony division took its Web services offline Monday.

That shutdown came 12 days after Sony Computer Entertainment disconnected the PlayStation console game network and Sony Network Entertainment shut down Qriocity media streaming services. Sony said last week that it expected to start restoring some services this week, but they remain offline.

The fact that Sony is remaining quiet while the facts get worse is worrisome.  They have upped the numbers of those who "may" have been exposed, and are still offline after multiple extensions on the date they planned to be active.  If the truth comes out, I expect it is very  bad.  I hope that vulnerable networks have taken note and are upping their security measures so this doesn't happen again.  I hope.

When Jesus Helps With Homework

The Poincare conjecture was a seemingly unsolvable theorem that was first proposed in 1904. Dealing with a branch of spatial mathematics called topology, the theorem sought to prove that any shape without a hole can be formed into a sphere. Sounds simple enough, right? Tell that to the math world, which, for over a century, struggled to prove the elusive conjecture even possible, inadvertently turning it into one of the community's Holy Grails.

But Russian mathematician Grigory Perelman published two proofs of the theorem back in 2002 and 2003, and according to The Utopianist, it wasn't until last year that a team of advanced mathematicians at the Clay Mathematical Institute (CMI) finally proved his results valid.

His reward? One million dollars and the Fields Medal, or the math world's equivalent of the Nobel Prize. But the private Perelman shrugged off the invite to accept the cash, saying that the knowledge he gained from proving the conjecture was more valuable than any monetary gain.

How did he do it?  He looked to Jesus.  The article explains his logic, but I am amazed as always as to how math rules the universe, and how the right outlook and asking the right questions is sometimes as important as knowledge on the subject.  A creative look has established Perelman as a legend among his own kind, and well deserved.

I'd have taken the satisfaction and the million bucks, though.  Just so you know where I stand on that.

Beshear Madness At Fort Campbell

President Obama is coming to Kentucky today to Fort Campbell to meet with the Navy SEALs that took down bin Laden.  But the real news is who won't be there:  our "Democratic" governor, Steve Beshear (up for re-election this year).  Joe Sonka over at Barefoot and Progressive has plenty to say about Beshear pussing out.  Beshear is claiming he has too much to do in Louisville today with the Kentucky Derby this weekend.  The reality is much different:

Considering the fact that Beshear's office or campaign won't even answer my question on whether he will support Barack Obama's re-election next year, this isn't exactly shocking. Horsey duties or not, I assume he's not really anxious to have that photo op next to the president, nor having reporters there asking him that question. With David Williams' ads attacking Obama, Beshear's "get off our backs" campaign strategy, and Obama's poor numbers in Kentucky, I assume his campaign isn't exactly heartbroken about the conflicting schedules.

P.S.- Yes, and his decision is quite lame.

UPDATE: Oh, and the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden will be there, too.

Did I say quite lame? I meant monumentally lame.

One of Sonka's readers argues that Beshear should show up and bait his Republican opponent (most likely David Williams) into attacking Beshear supporting the guys that killed OBL.   But that would indicate Beshear A) wants national attention as a Democrat, B) is smart enough to play the political jujitsu game with a schlub like Williams in the first place, and C) actually could stand being in the same zip code as the President anyway.

On Twitter Joe puts Beshear's odds of changing his mind and showing up at about 40%.  I put it at precisely zero.  It would be interesting to see what Obama's job approval in Kentucky would be post-OBL, but I'm guessing it's not going to be too much more than the 35-39% he's been clocking since 2009.  Considering it's been going so badly in Kentucky for Obama in the last several months, pollsters have simply stopped asking since October or so, I'm betting it's even lower than that, or was up until this week.  Still, Obama might have topped 40%, and Beshear's too chicken to risk it.

Beshear doesn't have the guts nor the brains to defend even showing up to greet the President to thank the guys that killed bin Laden, and that's a pretty damning assessment given that he's the guy I would vote for in a heartbeat over any of the Republicans running for Governor here.


Finally, a solid, kick-ass month for employment at first glance...but not all good news.  In fact, it's pretty lousy.

Employment increased more than expected in April as private companies created jobs at the fastest pace in five years, pointing to underlying strength in the economy, even though the jobless rate rose to 9.0 percent.

Nonfarm payrolls rose 244,000 last month, the most in 11 months, the Labor Department said on Friday. The private sector accounted for all of the job gains last month, with payrolls rising 268,000, the largest rise since February 2006.

The gain in overall payrolls, above economist expectations for a 186,000 increase, was supportive of views the economic recovery would regain speed this quarter after stumbling in the first three months of the year on high commodity prices.

Data for the previous two months was revised to show 46,000 more jobs were added.

The internals, though, were less encouraging.

The total amount of unemployed was unchanged from March at 13.7 million people.

The labor participation rate also was stuck at 64.2 percent, refuting the notion that the rise in the unemployment rate reflected more discouraged workers looking for jobs.

Also, the so-called real unemployment rate—which the government calls the U-6—which encompasses discouraged workers as well, actually rose in the month two-tenths of a point to 15.9 percent.

None of those last three numbers are good signs at all.  Remember, McDonald's added some 62,000 jobs...but those are minimum wage, part-time positions for summer.   May should be a good month too overall, but those other numbers are real head-scratchers.  We're back at 9.0% even after adding 244,000 jobs, which means the number of people who dropped out of the work force completely was significant.  In fact, Tyler Durden notes that minus the McJobs and the +175,000 birth/death adjustment by the department of labor, the number of other jobs created in the economy last month?


We'll see.

Quietly Burying The Ryan Unicorn Plan

It's not like the Ryan Unicorn Plan had any chance of passing the Democratically-controlled Senate or getting past President Obama intact, but after all but four House Republicans voted to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher program that wouldn't even guarantee health care coverage, they're now quietly hoping you'll forget about their little plan to destroy the social safety net.  That's not sitting too well with the Tea Party freshmen, who want to happily throw 90% of America under the bus.

Some members — especially freshmen from districts with steep re-election hills to scale — were upset to hear that the plan could be scotched after they had voted for the budget proposal and then invested so much hard work trying to sell it back home over the spring recess.

“I would be very disappointed if we didn’t follow through,” said Representative Joe Walsh, whose district lies in the Chicago suburbs. “We have spent, gosh, a month or two now trying to educate the American people to a pretty good reception. I appreciate the chairman’s notion, but I would continue to respectfully challenge him to get this thing through committee.”

Representative Bobby Schilling of Illinois said backing down now would be giving in “to lies and deceit told by the other side.”

“We’ve just got to address this problem,” he said. “Is it going to be perfect? No, but it needs to be addressed.”

The House speaker, John A. Boehner, said Thursday that the party was not backing away from the Medicare overhaul. But he said Mr. Camp’s view was a recognition of the “political realities that we face.”

Democrats said it did not matter if Republicans decided to jettison their Medicare plan because they had already voted for it as part of the budget.

“The Republicans are slowly realizing their plan to privatize Medicare is a political disaster,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat. “But until they renounce their vote for it, they are still going to own it.” 

It's that last part I have problems with.  The Republicans will only "own" wanting to destroy Medicare if the Democrats make them do so, and the Dems' record on doing things like that is abysmal at best.  This one's a gift wrapped dozen seats in the House easily, and quite frankly if the Demcrats continue to attack on this point for 18 months it could be worth enough to get the House back.

We'll see how this plays out.


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