maxomai: dog (dog)
So, this is how the Republican base greets the disintegration of the Republican party: with thunderous applause.

Read more... )
maxomai: dog (dog)
Quoting the LA Times:

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer will make a statement Wednesday evening about a controversial piece of legislation that would give more protection to businesses who cite religious beliefs in refusing to serve gays and others, she announced.


There's enough weasel words there so that one might expect Brewer to make no announcement whether she'll veto the bill or not. Nonetheless, I'd expect her to announce that she'll veto. Pretty much the entire GOP establishment has given her barely enough cover to veto the bill and survive a primary challenge.
maxomai: dog (dog)
By now we've all seen this moron:

A Republican congressional candidate in Chicago believes God controls the weather and that tornadoes, autism and dementia are his punishments for the gay rights movement and abortions.

...

"God is angry. We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions," she added, blaming natural disasters like tornadoes and diseases including autism and dementia on recent advances in the LGBT movement. "Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it's in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God."


The moron in question is Susanne Atanus (MBA, MPA, Northwestern grad), and she is indeed a Republican candidate for Congress. Really, though, that's not saying much, since she's still just running for the Republican nomination. In fact, she made her remarks during a debate against the other Republican candidate, a socially moderate veteran from my old neighborhood named David Earl Williams III. The winner will go on to lose to the incumbent, enormously popular Democrat Jan Schakowsky, by at least two-to-one.

Nonetheless, Atanus's remarks are a huge deal. Part of it is that she's a superstitious idiot and a religious bigot, although progressives would probably forgive that if Atanus were a new-ager talking about vaccines causing autism. Most of it is that abortion, birth control, and gay rights, as cultural issues, are huge winners for liberals and huge losers for conservatives. I know plenty of "pro-life" zealots who will disagree with me that abortion is a losing issue for them, but the defeats of Senate candidates Mourdock and Akin make my point for me. Ditto for birth control. Furthermore, the nation has changed its mind on gay rights, particularly on gay marriage, which has gone from a winner for conservatives to a winner for liberals in just the last decade. Every time a Republican candidate opens their mouth on these issues, they risk ramming their foot into it. When that happens, it's not just the candidate that suffers, but the entire Republican brand.

Republicans know that their brand suffers when candidates fumble on abortion, birth control, gay rights, and many other cultural issues. This is why they're trying to educate their candidates to tread lightly around those issues. For them, Atanus is a worst case scenario. She has already demonstrated that she's recklessly dim-witted when it comes to cultural issues. The media attention will only grow as she says more dumb things as a candidate. The primary election isn't until March 18th, which gives her almost two months to cause more damage. And if she wins the primary, then what?

It shouldn't surprise anyone, therefore, that the Illinois GOP wants her to quit. Personally, I hope she stays on.
maxomai: dog (Default)
If you have eighteen minutes, then watch this.



To summarize Rachel Maddow's discussion: Christie claims that he wasn't interested in obtaining Fort Lee Mayor Sokolich's endorsement for his re-election campaign. Could it, then, have been a warning shot across the bow of other New Jersey Democrats, in order to obtain their endorsements, and make a bigger showing in 2013 to make a stronger case for Christie's Presidential run in 2016?
maxomai: dog (dog)
New developments have arisen since I posted about the Christie/George Washington Bridge story.

The biggest story IMO is that the closures of the GWB delayed EMS response to four calls from Fort Lee. In one case, the patient, a 91-year-old woman, died later. Keep an eye on this, because the persons responsible for the lane closures are going to get sued, if not arrested.

Not quite as big a story, but still huge, is that Christie has issued a blanket denial of any knowledge of the orders issued from his office:

"What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions." - source


LA Times columnist Robin Abcarian thinks this affair ends Christie's shot at a Presidential run. Democratic political analyst James Carville appears to agree:




I think Carville's half right. The political damage to Christie is going to get a lot worse. The flip side is that the actual big winner today isn't Jeb Bush, it's Hillary Clinton. I'm still not counting Christie out yet, but he's in a deep hole right now, and it's getting deeper.
maxomai: dog (dog)
Wherein Mr. Robertson suggests that 20-year-old women are too old to marry, and that men would be better off marrying 15- or 16-year-olds.



(If the embedded video doesn't work, try this link.)

Let's see Sarah Palin, etc. defend that..........
maxomai: dog (dog)
As of right now, 23 Republicans in the House have voted for the deal to end the Tea Party shutdown. That, plus all the Democrats, should end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

And with that, the nightmare is over...for about two to three months.

Then we're back at it again.

So...yay?
maxomai: dog (dog)
Earlier I said that the Boehner had a choice between:


  1. Either throwing the Tea Party under the bus and dealing with the electoral consequences,

  2. Or ruining the economy, the nation's credit, and more permanently, our status as the top global power.



It looks like I underestimated the electoral consequences:




This could be an existential threat to the Republican party, because:

Overall, they make up a minority (37%) of all Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationally. Yet this group is more likely than other GOP voters to say they always vote in primary elections; as a result they make up about half of the Republican primary electorate (49%).


If the Tea Party makes good on this threat, the likely consequence is a third party that works as a spoiler in future elections, much like the Green Party in the Nothing Decade, or the Harold Washington Party in Chicago in the late 1980s and early 1990s. On the other hand, in the unlikely case that the Tea Party does what the Greens haven't - slowly build a base of power with local and Congressional races - we could see the GOP go the way of the Whigs.

I think the Republicans would rather default than face the demise of their party.
maxomai: dog (dog)
Everyone seems to think we're near a deal that will ultimately lead to a Republican surrender on the debt ceiling and the shutdown.

Well, not so fast.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), in his new role as Ron Paul's prophet, is trying to rally Tea Party support against a deal. And it seems to be working.

This means that John Boehner has a choice.

He can either throw the Tea Party caucus under the bus and deal with the electoral consequences (2) (3); OR, he can validate Chinese FUD about American treasury bills, causing a recession in the short term and effectively ending our role as the indispensable economic and military hyperpower, forever.

EDIT: Looks like he chose validating Chinese FUD. The White House, naturally, has rejected his deal.
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)
Via talking points memo:

Concerned [about the impact of the shutdown and the possible debt ceiling fight], the Chamber of Commerce is preparing to participate in political primaries, protecting friendly lawmakers from conservative challengers. "Clearly we're getting to a point where we need a Congress that's going to be productive, proactive and create a stable environment for economic growth and job creation," said Scott Reed, a Republican political consultant who is advising the chamber on its strategy.


My advice to President Obama would be to hang on. Victory is near.
maxomai: dog (dog)
I'm not going to bother with the usual partisan cheerleading that's circulating these days - you can find plenty of that on DailyKos, The Daily Show, Fox News, MSNBC, and so on. Today, I'm going to discuss the dynamics and metapolitics of the shutdown, and what they tell us about how this will turn out.

Long story short, the Republicans are going to lose this fight. They know it. Their job isn't to get rid of Obamacare, but to put up such a fight that they can turn to their constituents, and to the American public, and say to them, "we tried our damnedest to stop it."

The dynamics of this are relatively simple. The House is controlled by the Republicans; of those, most are moderate Republicans, with a smattering of Tea Party conservatives. Almost all of them think that Obamacare is going to be a huge disaster - this point may as well be axiomatic, but look here for an example of this thinking. They're figuring that once the voters get a taste of Obamacare, they'll respond by punishing the Democrats for many elections to come. The shutdown is the GOP's attempt to maximize the potential gains from that voter backlash. If the gains are great enough, they'll be able to repeal Obamacare in 2017, and while this will outrage Democrats and the poor, independent voters will thank them.

The Senate and the White House are controlled by Democrats. Almost all of them think that Obamacare is going to be a huge success - again, this point may as well be axiomatic, but look here for an example of this thinking. They're figuring that once the voters get a taste of Obamacare, it will demolish the GOP's "government is bad" talking points, and the voters will consequently award Democrats. They figure, wrongly, that the Republicans also see the potential for Obamacare to destroy their talking points, and that the House is therefore motivated to stop Obamacare no matter what. The Democrats are therefore in no mood to give the Republicans so much as an inch on Obamacare.

The logic of the Republican position demands a solid effort; the logic of the Democratic position demands victory. In the end, there's no contradiction, and both will get what they want. It's just a matter of how long the GOP needs to be seen as having done their best - and that may take weeks. (It should be noted that the Tea Party caucus, all thirty of them, is hellbent on actually repealing or delaying Obamacare, not just on putting on a good show for the voters. The dynamics of the shutdown suggests that John Boehner will throw them under the bus eventually. There are also a smattering of blue dog Democrats left in Congress who might be willing to give up on Obamacare, but not enough of them to matter, and none are in the Senate.)

As for the voters, it's hard to say how they will judge Obamacare. The law benefits a hell of a lot of people, including anyone with a pre-existing condition, anyone too broke or unemployed to afford insurance before, and anyone whose premiums, as a result of the law, go down or stay the same. (In my case, my health premiums are the same this year as they were last year, which is a first for me.) The law also hurts a lot of people, including anyone whose premiums have gone up a lot (which happened in a number of red states), anyone whose employer doesn't offer family coverage (which means that their family has to buy from the exchange and isn't eligible for subsidies), and anyone whose employer cuts down on hours in order to avoid paying a fine for not insuring their employees.

Speaking personally, my overall impression of the program has been very positive, despite severe technical issues with the exchange web sites. My own premiums have stayed steady. I also tend to agree that subsidized insurance will encourage more people to take risks and start small or start-up businesses. Most of all, a lot of people I care about are broke or have pre-existing conditions (such as prior experiences with cancer, mental health issues, heart issues, or diabetes) that prevented them from buying insurance before, and now they'll be able to buy insurance. As far as I'm concerned, that's an unqualified good, and the GOP doesn't have an answer as to how they'll replace it. As such, I'm cautiously optimistic that Obamacare will be a net boon. That doesn't necessarily mean that the GOP are shooting themselves in the foot, but it does mean that they're going to have a hard time selling their assumptions.
maxomai: (angry-penguin)
So, I was a Federal employee during the 1996 shutdown.

What will happen: parks, social services, and many other parts of the government that you took for granted will close. About 800,000 employees will no longer be paid. Many of them will be expected to work anyway. On the other hand, the military, law enforcement, and other pieces that are essential to the continued operation and defense of the United States will continue. The bridges will still open and close, federal power plants will still deliver power, and so on.

Oh yeah, and the Obamacare health insurance exchanges? Still open October 1st. That means that broke people will still buy health insurance.

In a week, the shut down will end and both sides will claim to have done their best and will claim victory.

What will not happen: anarchy (because the government isn't actually going anywhere), electoral consequences (everyone will forget this by Nov. 2014).
maxomai: dog (dog)
You may recall that Michelle Bachmann recently announced her retirement from Congress, denying that it had anything to do with ethics violations or electability. Which, of course, immediately raised the question: did she retire because of ethics violations, or because of electability?

It appears that we now have our answer:

Investigation sources tell Take Action News the FBI is examining money laundering allegations against Bachmann, as well as possible wire fraud and mail fraud.


Yeah, yeah, it's HuffPo. But my money is that the Professional Tin Foil Hat Model and her snake oil-salesman husband are really that stupid, that unethical, and that much in deep shit.

Stay tuned!
maxomai: dog (dog)
Quoting WSJ:


Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a conservative firebrand and a favorite of tea party Republicans, said Wednesday that she would not run for another term in the U.S. House.

Ms. Bachmann, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination last year, announced her decision in a video on her website.


Well, that settles all the questions about her electability:

"My decision was not influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected," Ms. Bachmann said. She narrowly won a fourth term in 2012 over Democrat Jim Graves, a hotel chain founder who is running again in 2014.


Not to mention her ethics:

Ms. Bachmann also said, "This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign."

In January, a former aide to Ms. Bachmann filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming the candidate made improper payments to an Iowa state senator who was the state chairman of her 2012 presidential run. The aide, Peter Waldron, also accused Ms. Bachmann of other FEC violations.


Doesn't it?

I suppose I shouldn't be too hard on her. Running for office is, after all, a very difficult and harrowing process, and a lot of people pass up good opportunities because they'd rather not deal with the additional stress and scrutiny. And nobody wants to leave under a cloud of scandal.

On the other hand, after she said stuff like this:

"[Gay marriage] is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the last, at least, thirty years. I am not understating that."

"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence."

"I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?"

"But we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States."


Maybe I should just go ahead and gloat. :)
maxomai: (typewriter guy wtf)
Sen. Lindsey Graham wants boots on the ground in Syria.

You know, because the good guys in the Syrian Civil War are so easy to spot.

And because invading a Middle Eastern nation has gone so well for us recently.

In fact, this idea is so stupid that it makes me think that it makes a perfect example of Dunning-Kruger-Madoff effect, where the incompetent are so incompetent that they don't realize how incompetent they are, and so are able to exude enough confidence to be taken seriously. It would certainly explain a lot that's happened since the 21st Century began.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Dear Republican Party,

Do you really want to run on the President engaging in "excessive celebration" of Obama bin Laden's death?

Seriously. Think about it. Remember this?

Mission Accomplished Pictures, Images and Photos

And that was for a war we didn't need to fight in the first place and that we wouldn't complete in any meaningful sense for nearly another decade.

You basically handed President Obama this media cycle. Far be it from me to discourage you from doing that, but sometimes, you just want to see the other team even try.

Love,
max
maxomai: dog (Default)
Dear Republican Party,

Do you really want to run on the President engaging in "excessive celebration" of Obama bin Laden's death?

Seriously. Think about it. Remember this?

Mission Accomplished Pictures, Images and Photos

And that was for a war we didn't need to fight in the first place and that we wouldn't complete in any meaningful sense for nearly another decade.

You basically handed President Obama this media cycle. Far be it from me to discourage you from doing that, but sometimes, you just want to see the other team even try.

Love,
max
maxomai: dog (Default)
You may have missed this in the hubub of Steve Jobs's passing, but former half-term governor of Alaska Sarah Palin announced today that she will not seek the GOP nomination. More here. No doubt she is rather pissed off to not have the media spotlight tonight.

That said, her participation in the race would not have have mattered much. She was polling in single digits, and would have entered thr race as a second or third tier candidate. Indeed, despite GOP primary voters' unhappiness with their field of candidates, Romney is the front runner in that race, and the rest are basically also-rans.

I had predicted that Palin would join the race, and that the GOP field would be Palin and a bunch of anti-Palins. In fact, we're seeing the exact opposite happening: most of the GOP field is trying to be the anti-Romney. There's a lot of GOP primary voters that consider Romney to be little better than "Obama Lite," and they want someone more conservative to be their standard bearer in 2012. The problem is, pretty much all of the alternatives to Romney are lightweights, albeit none more so than Palin herself. The sole exception is Huntsman, and he's going nowhere. I think that, once the primary season starts in earnest, this will become quite clear, and Romney will be the candidate. This would have been the case regardless of whether Palin ran or not.

The flip side of this is that Romney is the only candidate in the GOP field that actually has much chance against Obama, once you look at both their fundraising and recent polling. Even Ron Paul, who might be able to come close on the money, gets destroyed in the polls, and that's now when Obama is at his weakest. If the Democratic base gets re-vitalized -- as I think is likely to happen during the next 12 months -- look out.
maxomai: dog (Default)
You may have missed this in the hubub of Steve Jobs's passing, but former half-term governor of Alaska Sarah Palin announced today that she will not seek the GOP nomination. More here. No doubt she is rather pissed off to not have the media spotlight tonight.

That said, her participation in the race would not have have mattered much. She was polling in single digits, and would have entered thr race as a second or third tier candidate. Indeed, despite GOP primary voters' unhappiness with their field of candidates, Romney is the front runner in that race, and the rest are basically also-rans.

I had predicted that Palin would join the race, and that the GOP field would be Palin and a bunch of anti-Palins. In fact, we're seeing the exact opposite happening: most of the GOP field is trying to be the anti-Romney. There's a lot of GOP primary voters that consider Romney to be little better than "Obama Lite," and they want someone more conservative to be their standard bearer in 2012. The problem is, pretty much all of the alternatives to Romney are lightweights, albeit none more so than Palin herself. The sole exception is Huntsman, and he's going nowhere. I think that, once the primary season starts in earnest, this will become quite clear, and Romney will be the candidate. This would have been the case regardless of whether Palin ran or not.

The flip side of this is that Romney is the only candidate in the GOP field that actually has much chance against Obama, once you look at both their fundraising and recent polling. Even Ron Paul, who might be able to come close on the money, gets destroyed in the polls, and that's now when Obama is at his weakest. If the Democratic base gets re-vitalized -- as I think is likely to happen during the next 12 months -- look out.

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