Friday, July 31, 2009


A tale of two headlines
Rove Says His Role in Prosecutor Firings Was Small
E-Mails Show Larger White House Role in Prosecutor Firings

[NB: Yep, you got it. One newspaper focuses on what Rove SAID his role was; the other looks at the emails and tells us what he actually DID. And there in a nutshell you have the dilemma of contemporary journalism.]

Read the emails:

Mr. Rove, who on Thursday completed two days of testimony in a closed session with investigators from the House Judiciary Committee, said in the interview that he could not answer one of the central unanswered questions that the panel has hoped to resolve: whether it was the White House that directed the Justice Department to remove the prosecutors.

“I can’t even tell you who brought it up,” Mr. Rove said . . .
[Steve Benen] Keep in mind, assistant U.S. attorney Nora R. Dannehy "continues to investigate whether the firings of the prosecutors and the political firestorm that followed could form the basis of possible false statements, obstruction of justice or other criminal charges." Rove has already met with Dannehy, at least once. . . .

[Marcy Wheeler] Remember CIFA? That's the military's domestic spying program that used to spy on Quakers and bloggers like Jesus' General. In April 2008, the Pentagon announced it was shutting down the program.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sounds like they didn't shut down the program. . . .

Killing our troops
There’s a new and damning report from the Department of Defense Inspector General on its investigation into the electrocution death of Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth. The report concludes that Staff Sgt. Maseth’s death was the result of shoddy electrical work, electrical work performed by U.S. military contractor KBR.

It also concludes that the Army failed to properly oversee KBR’s work, allowing the danger to U.S. troops from KBR’s work to continue and persist not only on Ryan Maseth’s base, but throughout Iraq and Afghanistan . . .

Have we lost the public option in health care reform?

Yesterday, I pointed out how Dems like Max Baucus and Kent Conrad have sold out their president and party for the sake of misguided “bipartisanship.” As loyal reader Kat B. points out, there is more to the story
Do Baucus' Ties To Health Care Industry Compromise His Reform Efforts?
Industry Cash Flowed To Drafters of Reform
Lawmakers' ties to medical industry
Blue Dogs: Fiscal Conservatives or Insurance Company Shills?
Visualizing The Health Care Lobbyist Complex

[Ezra Klein] This is who is in the room helping Baucus put together his bill. Olympia Snowe, Mike Enzi, Chuck Grassley, Jeff Bingaman and Kent Conrad. In a Senate of 60 Democrats and 40 Republicans, the health-care reform bill is being written by three centrist Democrats, one centrist Republicans, and two conservative Republicans. And until last week, Orrin Hatch was in the room, too.

This is not the Finance Committee's bill. This is the Max Baucus Committee's Bill. And there's not a liberal -- or even a Democrat traditionally associated with health-care policy -- working on it. . . .

Heh. Maybe that’ll work
Sic the Big Dog on the Blue Dogs . . . [read on]

Digby says it, so I don’t have to: you can’t always infer from the public stances people take what is really going on in the health care negotiations. There’s a lot of posturing and Kabuki, staking out positions now for the sake of providing cover for later shifts. Do the Dems REALLY want bipartisanship, or do they want to be able to blame the Repubs later when bipartisanship breaks down? It's hard to know
[Digby] If we had a functional press corps that was good at real political analysis instead of regurgitation of tired conventional wisdom, we'd know a lot more about this from reporters who have the sense and the skills to sort through the bullshit. But we don't. What we have instead is a media that runs with the narratives that "feel right" which means that they fall into well worn story lines which may or may not reflect anything that's actually happening --- but which by their very nature affect the course of the debate. . . .

Cornyn: Dems "Ought To Be Ashamed" For Using Race In Sotomayor Debates

[NB: Yeah, because all those Republicans and Republican proxies who were calling Sotomayor a RACIST weren’t.]

You know, this Voinovich/Vitter dustup over whether the GOP is being taken over by Southerners is kind of pointless – because it obviously IS,-Politico-gives-them-upper-hand

A blimp? A BLIMP?

The silly season
The upcoming White House meeting with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and the Cambridge police officer who arrested him earlier this month appears to have touched off a fresh debate all on its own: what kind of beer should be served? . . .
[WP] Beer sends the “wrong message to our nation’s youth who are becoming alcoholics at young ages,” said Rocky Twyman, founder of Pray at the Pump . . .

The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union also isn’t happy. “There are so many other beverages he could have chosen that would have served just as well,” said president Rita K. Wert, suggesting lemonade or iced tea.

It really is unbelievable how sloppy Fox News graphics and editing are. It almost makes you think they don’t really care about getting things right. Wait! Hmmmmm . . . .

Bonus item: Jon Stewart on right-wing goofballs

Extra bonus item: Don't blame us for what we say!
The Goldberg-O'Reilly Birther theory: It's an evil Obama plot to make conservatives look like wingnuts . . .

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Thursday, July 30, 2009


Nick’s Postulate: Republicans talk like winners, even when they’re losing, while Democrats talk like losers, even when they’re winning.

Here’s a prime example: the Dems roll Sotomayor’s nomination through committee, despite almost unanimous GOP opposition. But the winner is . . .,0,307160.story
Reporting from Washington - Republicans' unflinching opposition Tuesday to Judge Sonia Sotomayor drew a partisan line in the sand, signaling that any future Obama nominees to the Supreme Court are unlikely to win significant GOP support even if they have solid legal credentials and moderate records. . . .

Republicans on the panel -- who will probably be followed by a large number of their colleagues in the Senate -- seemed ready to risk alienating Latino voters to make their point that she is more of a legal activist than her record as an appellate judge reveals.

They said that they had succeeded in setting a new, conservative standard for judging.

"This confirmation process has, in many ways, been a repudiation of activist legal thought," said Alabama's Sen. Jeff Sessions, the committee's ranking Republican. "It will now be harder to nominate activist judges." . . .

Nick’s Postulate, as applied to health care reform. The Dems have a winning issue and a popular president with momentum. They have the votes to force their will, if they can unify behind a proposal. They have popular support. What do they do? Turn that winning position into a losing one, single-handedly giving the Repubs a perceived power that they don’t in fact have – and not only jeopardizing reform, but giving the losing side control over what if anything gets passed. Nice work, boys . . .
[Steve Benen] Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a key player in the health care reform debate, said the other day that the final package must have Republican support. It's "not possible" and "not desirable" to reform the system any other way.

This is, alas, not new. A wide variety of Democratic leaders on the Hill have said the process matters at least as much as the policy, if not more so. Near the very top of the priority list is support from members of an increasingly right-wing party, turned out of power by the electorate after their humiliating failures at governing. . . [read on]
[Joe Sudbay] This is why we worry about messaging (or lack thereof) on health care . . .

[T]he GOPers are always in campaign mode. And, they've got one mission: To destroy Obama's presidency. . . .

The role of the Blue Dogs:
[Joe Sudbay] The Blue Dogs have blocked a vote on health insurance reform before the August recess -- and they think it's a big win. . .

The Blue Dogs consider this a great victory. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries are House Republicans and the insurance industry who wanted a delay. . .
[Joe Sudbay] Thanks to the Blue Dogs, the GOPers and their allies in the insurance industry have all of August to undermine and hammer away at real health insurance reform. Nothing like a few ugly insurance industry-funded t.v. ads to get members of Congress cowering. . . .,-White-House,-and-House-Leadership-Strike-a-Deal

The role of Max Baucus (D-MT):
[The Hill] Baucus, who is more conservative than most of the Democratic Conference, has frustrated many of his liberal colleagues by negotiating for weeks with Republicans over healthcare reform without producing a bill or even much detail about the policies he is considering. . . .
[Joe Sudbay] Senate Republicans didn't introduce a health care reform bill. They didn't have to. Instead, they took the Democratic bill and removed the key provisions supported by Democrats. Max Baucus (D-MT) let them do it, because he wants a "bipartisan" bill. Baucus got a GOP bill . . .

The role of the CBO:,-the-CBO,-and-Reform
[McJoan] The CBO has emerged as the be all and end all for what healthcare reform will and will not do for the nation's economy. Its word is gospel in the traditional media and on the Hill. . . .

Remember the picture in the NYT, under the title "The Negotiators: Debating health care legislation in the Senate Finance Committee"? It's actually not the Senate Finance Committee, but Baucus's Committee, his "bipartisan" group. Sitting at the head of the table is Doug Elmendorf, and next to him, Phil Ellis, also from CBO. Are they advising, or are they negotiating? Is it appropriate for Elmendorf to be sitting in on those negotiations? . . . [read on]

Here’s Mike Enzi (who?), talking like he controls the whole process
Enzi [R-WY] said that Reid and Pelosi would have to commit to leaving any bipartisan agreements in place once the bill goes to conference.

"I also need commitments from Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi, as well as the Administration, that the bipartisan agreements reached in the Finance Committee will survive in a final bill that goes to the president," Enzi added. . . .

[Steve Benen] Well, I'll gladly give Enzi credit for having chutzpah. But as a serious proposition, this is almost comical.

Look, five committees in two chambers are trying to pass health care reform. Each understands that after approving a bill, their committee's work will have to be reconciled with other committees' work, before eventually reconciling the House and Senate versions.

Enzi is saying that this isn't good enough. This conservative Republican "needs" a "commitment" from the Democratic White House, the Democratic House Speaker, and the Democratic Senate Majority Leader that all of them will leave intact the work he and five other senators worked out in secret. No changes allowed. . . .

Enzi's little club features just six senators -- no liberals, no senators representing urban areas -- who represent less than 3% of the U.S. population. The gang has already abandoned key policy priorities of the president, the majority party, and the public, and is putting the finishing work on an inadequate piece of legislation.

And Enzi expects -- indeed, he demands -- that no one touch his group's work once it's complete? Please.

[NB: Remember, talk like a winner.]

The “resurgent” GOP?
[Glenn Greenwald] [E]ven amidst the endless sea of sleaze and whoredom, Politico always manages to stand out. There is no limit on their willingness, their eagerness, to write down what GOP operatives tell them and then construct articles and screaming headlines based on it. It's what they exist to do. And one can't really overstate the influence its gossipy, simple-minded headlines have on cable news chatter and the political narrative of the day. The tiniest amount of shame would preclude a media outlet that has run one disproven "GOP-rising" article after the next from doing it again. . . .
[Digby] Brilliant political observers and Village savants, Chris Matthews, Charlie Cook and Chuck Todd say the country has lost confidence in Obama and that the Dems could very well lose the congress next time. . . .

IN FACT, the GOP is a party at war with itself, on the wrong side of demographics, with no positive alternative message whatsoever
Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, was bound to hear some angry responses from his Republican colleagues when he said his party is "being taken over by Southerners" -- and not in a good way. It didn't take long for the first to pop up, from Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

"I'm on the side of conservatives getting back to core conservative values," Vitter told a Washington Times radio show. "There are a lot of us from the South who hold those values, which I think the party is supposed to be about. . . .”
[Colin Powell] "The problem I'm having with the [Republican] Party right now is that when [Rush Limbaugh] says something that I consider to be completely outrageous and I respond to it, I would like to see other members of the party do likewise, but they don't." [read on]
[Digby] There's a lot about the new Republican Party that's mystifying. "Disarray" doesn't even begin to describe it. I suppose it's a lot like it was back in 1964, although I think even then you could see the outlines of a comeback --- which they did, four short years later with the election of Nixon . . .

But this time, it's really hard to see how they can ever build a sustainable majority when they are doing things like this . . .
[Eric Kleefeld] It's now looking like a lot of prominent Republicans, ranging from party leaders to big-name pundits that we usually expect to make outrageous partisan attacks, are doing something they'd been previously neglecting: Definitively cracking down on the Birthers, rather than playing to the conspiracy theorists allowing this stuff to continue festering among their activist base. . . .
[Greg Sargent] For the first time, RNC chair Michael Steele is sharply criticizing the birthers, condemning the movement as an “unnecessary distraction,” reaffirming that the president is a “U.S. citizen,” and stressing that it’s time to move past debating Obama’s “birth certificate.” . . .
[Eric Kleefeld] Maybe the House Republicans aren't done with Birtherism, after all. In fact, we now have Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a former House GOP Whip who is now the party's likely nominee in the top-tier 2010 Missouri Senate race, saying it's a legitimate question. . . .

ANOTHER leading GOP Senator steps down, the second in a week

Little lies
Thune Falsely Claims House Health Care Bill Would Result in “Most” Americans Paying Half Their Income in Taxes
[Martin Feldstein] Obama has said that he would favor a British-style “single payer” system in which the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are salaried . . .

Big lies
[Zachary Roth] In recent days, a new right-wing scare tactic on health-care has blossomed on conservative blogs and emails lists: the notion that the reform bill making its way through the House would lead to euthanasia by requiring senior citizens to submit to "end-of-life consultations."

It won't surprise you to learn this is a lie. . . .

President Obama Wants to Kill Old People
Right brings abortion into healthcare debate

Their kind of guy
[Steve Benen] One of the problems with Glenn Beck's propensity for madness is the sheer volume. The unhinged Fox News personality is so far gone, and spouts so much nonsense on a daily basis, it's difficult to separate the routine absurdities from the uniquely offensive idiocy. . .

Another of their guys
[John Hawkins] “Falsely accusing someone else of racism is just as bad as actual racism in my book” [read on]

How bad does it get when one of the ostensibly “sensible” CNN anchors has to go on FOX NEWS to get a friendly hearing?
[Greg Sargent] Wow, it looks like Lou Dobbs’ birther obsession is making more trouble for CNN. Now he’s looking to go on Bill O’Reilly’s show to discuss the birthers — a decision that appears to have blindsided CNN execs. . .

Fox News excuses Glenn Beck’s on-air racism and hatred
Asked to respond to Beck’s comments, Fox News SVP of Programming Bill Shine didn’t repudiate them. "Glenn Beck expressed a personal opinion which represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel. And as with all commentators in the cable news arena, he is given the freedom to express his opinions," he said.

Has Rasmussen changed its polling methodology to make Obama look less popular?
[Eric Kleefeld] I asked three prominent polling experts about this, and they all lambasted it. . . .

Bonus item: No, not “The Onion”
Why Obama should make George W. Bush his Mideast envoy . . .

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


No one knows where this is going, but the Obama camp seems to preparing us for a health care bill with no public option
Is the public option dead?

They’ll be a strong push-back from Dems if they drop it:

The Blue Dogs:
Some Blue Dogs are sidling up to House Republicans to kill health care reform . . .

Harry Reid, gutless:
“What I think should be in the bill is something that I will vote for according to my conscience when we get this bill to the floor,” Reid told reporters today. “But I have a responsibility to get a bill to the Senate floor that will get 60 votes that we can proceed toward.”

“That’s my No. 1 responsibility,” Reid continued, “and there are times I have to set aside my personal preferences for the good of the Senate and I think the country.” [read on]

The media:
Wolf Blitzer: Gloria, if the president caves on this public option, this government run insurance company that would compete with the private insurance companies. What kind of reaction would he get from within his own party.

Gloria Borger: Well, I think it depends of course on what he caves to . . .

The idea to use the US military on domestic soil wasn’t the only bright idea the Bush gang was hatching
“So the Yoo memoranda were almost certainly prepared in order to support a case for the domestic use of the military and in the hopes that by deploying the military, the Constitutional limitations on police action and arrests could simply be avoided. “

[Marcy Wheeler] This confusion--and the claims that the October 23 memo primarily envisions the arrest of alleged terrorists by the military--is troublesome, IMO, because it obscures the other known application of the October 23 memo: the authorization of domestic surveillance by the military. . .

Something useful the NSA can do for us
Analysts have tried for years to recover the famous 18½ minute gap from Richard Nixon's taped conversation with Bob Haldeman a few days after the Watergate break-in. No dice. So far, it just doesn't look possible.

But Haldeman also took notes of that conversation. The pages that correspond to the gap appear to have been deep-sixed at the same time the tape was erased, but a Watergate buff named Phil Mellinger, a former NSA systems analyst, has proposed a way to recover the notes anyway . . .

We’ve been tracking this for months, as you know – but lately it appears that more and more explicit race-baiting of Obama has made its way into open political discourse
[Glenn Beck] Barack Obama Has A Deep-Seated Hatred Of White People!
Beck calls Obama a racist . . .
Would This Guy [Beck] Have a Job If He Were a Leftist?

Will GOP pols repudiate Rush?

Their Hero
Tea Partiers On McKalip: "We Lost a Great Freedom Fighter"

The kind of people they are

Still think global warming is a myth? (thanks to Peg K for the link)

Bill O’Reilly really said this, not by accident but in a scripted way. I know they don’t fact-check on Fox, but come on!
[Steve Benen] Fox News' Bill O'Reilly likes to answer a few questions from viewers on his show, and last night, he highlighted an inquiry from a Canadian: "Has anyone noticed that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?"

"Well, that's to be expected, Peter," O'Reilly said, "because we have 10 times as many people as you do. That translates to 10 times as many accidents, crimes, down the line." . . .
[Kevin Drum] Note that this wasn't just an off-the-cuff howler. O'Reilly chose to air Gillies' letter and had his response all teed up on the prompter. Here are the alternatives for how this happened: (a) Not a single person on his staff noticed that this was nonsensical. (b) Someone noticed but didn't have guts to tell O'Reilly he was wrong. (c) Someone noticed, told O'Reilly, but was unable to convince him that he'd flubbed his fourth grade arithmetic. (d) O'Reilly does this stuff all by himself and doesn't show it to anyone before airtime. I'm going with (b).

More GOP stupid number tricks
[Bill Kristol] "One reason the price of health care is going up so fast is because of government programs. The price of Medicare and Medicaid have gone up faster than private insurance. That's well-documented."

Ezra Klein did a nice job explaining (with charts) what's true in the real world: "It is true that the growth rates of Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance are well-documented. But the documentation shows the opposite of what Bill Kristol says it shows. The price of Medicare and Medicaid have gone up much more slowly than private insurance."

Hee Haw!
[Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio] We got too many Jim DeMints (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburns (R-Ok.). It’s the southerners. They get on TV and go 'errrr, errrrr.' People hear them and say, "These people, they’re southerners. The party’s being taken over by southerners. . . .”

Yep, we expected this. You betcha!
[Inside Radio] "While not exactly shopping the GOP's 2008 vice presidential candidate, sources say Palin representatives have been quietly testing the waters to see how much interest radio syndicators have for her."

[Alex Koppelman] Assuming Palin wants a future in national politics -- by no means a solid assumption, though she has appeared to be leaning that way -- a radio show could be a mixed blessing. . . .

Bonus item: Sarah Palin’s farewell speech, done as beat poetry

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Looks like the big fight over health care reform will extend through the August recess. The Dems are giving the GOP their wish, now let’s see what happens
RNC To Spend $1 Million In August To Fight Health Care Reform
Whoops! Insurance Company Emails Reform Group, Urges Them To Oppose Public Option
The Health Care Push: Grassroots Gear Up For Recess
New Move-On Ad Hits Republican Anti-Reform Efforts

On healthcare, a fragile peace with the Blue Dogs . . .
After A Tumultuous Friday, House Health Care Negotiations Back On Track
After weeks of secretive talks, a bipartisan group in the Senate edged closer Monday to a health care compromise that omits a requirement for businesses to offer coverage to their workers and lacks a government insurance option that President Barack Obama favors . . .
Rumors of Death of Healthcare Reform Greatly Exaggerated

[Robert Reich] Every day that goes by without a vote in the House or Senate on universal health care makes it less likely that major reform will occur, because (1) opponents have more time to stir up public anxieties about it; (2) Democrats up for reelection next year come ever closer to the gravitational pull of the midterms, and grow increasingly worried about voting for a bill that could be a political liability in a year when unemployment may well reach double digits and the electorate is restless and unhappy; and (3), as a result of the first two, proponents increasingly have to rely for support and cover on industries like Big Pharma and insurance, as well as physician specialists and equipment suppliers, none of whom have any interest in fundamental reform but all of whom see possibilities for making more money out of whatever bill emerges.

In other words, next fall we get something called "universal health insurance" that still leaves millions of Americans uninsured and doesn't substantially slow the meteoric rise of health-care costs. That would be a tragedy. . . . [read on]

Let’s see the GOP praise THIS CBO report on health care reform

The CIA Inspector General’s report on torture, due out next month after repeated delays, must document some pretty horrendous acts – so bad, it’s forcing the Obama admin to talk about prosecutions. But this still focuses on the lower levels, not the people who developed and rationalized the policies
The Washington Post endorses Abu Ghraib scapegoating for torture


Obama drives the GOP crazy
[Paul Krugman] It’s no secret that the reaction of a significant number of Republicans to the presidency of Barack Obama has been a bit, well, insane. . . .
Bachmann: The Obama Administration Plans To Turn Us Into Castro's Cuba
Fox & Friends crew frighten elderly viewers: health-care reform is 'a subtle form of euthanasia'

Do they REALLY want to go there? Given a chance to vote against a resolution affirming that Obama was born in the US, every single House Republican backs off


Another Republican Senator retires, but it’s good news for the GOP because if he’d stayed in he probably would have lost – this gives them a fighting chance of retaining the seat

Bonus item: Republican hypocrites condemn Obama for doing things their buddies in the Bush gang perfected
[Bill Kristol] "You can't have a teachable moment if it's based on a lie. . . So a moment in which everyone colludes to obscure the truth (which seems characteristic of most "teachable moments" in contemporary America) is not a moment of teaching; it's a moment of deception, of misdirection, of obfuscation.”
[Rush Limbaugh] "[T]here are people in this country, who are Americans, and have the same view of totalitarianism that all the worst regimes in the world have had. They just are a minority -- or have been a minority," said Limbaugh. "And they have to be stealth to get anywhere, because who's gonna vote for torture, who's gonna vote for tyranny, who's gonna vote for dictatorship? But we did. We did, and you see it slowly encroaching. And if they could move faster on this, they would."

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Monday, July 27, 2009


The beltway yappers produce a typical puff-piece on John Yoo, displaying all their usual amorality
[WP] Some public figures, if their judgment and ethics come under fire, retreat into solitude. Then there is John C. Yoo. . . .

While former colleagues have avoided attention in the face of such scrutiny, Yoo has been traveling across the country to give speeches and counter critics who dispute his bold view of the president's authority. Now a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, he engages in polite but firm exchanges with legal scholars over conclusions in their academic work. . . .

[NB: His "bold view." That's a nice way to put it.]

The unyielding faith in something called “bipartisanship”
Admitting the GOP only wants to kill health care, Democratic Senator Kent Conrad still demands bipartisanship . . .


Is real health care reform slipping away?

The conspiracy to prevent change
[Hunter] The GOP goal is to kill healthcare reform outright; their strategists are saying as much. Not to kill single payer or a public option, but to kill the whole notion of reform. The legislators tasked with coming up with alternative plans declared, this last week, that none were needed; Senator Inhofe muses out loud about how much his party might be helped if they can manage to stop reform outright.

I suppose it is worth pondering the how and the why of such things. Do they earnestly believe that there's absolutely nothing that needs to be done about health care in this country? Are they so transparently in the pockets of the lobbyists that they are willing make a bold stand on "everything is fine", when a mere look out the window says it's not?

It's puzzling that such a stance could even be remotely effective. Everybody in America seems to hate their insurance provider, at least everyone who has ever had to use it because they actually got sick. Everybody knows how bad getting actual healthcare has become in this country; everybody has stories of being screwed roundly by their insurance, or not being able to get insurance in the first place, or knows someone else who has had worse experiences.

And yet even in something with such widespread support, all you have to do to foul up the works is (1) invoke partisan pride, so that all the other conservatives or Republicans will simply oppose whatever-it-is out of reflex, and (2) make up a bunch of scary-sounding bullcrap, much of it provided by the insurance companies themselves, and hork it up on television via friendly hosts and anchors. . . . [read on]

The press helps:

Another manufactured Republican hissy fit

A story that hasn’t received the coverage it deserves
[Digby] Dday points to this fascinating little tid-bit from the NY Times which flew under the radar of the generalist political blogs as we argued over arcane pieces of health care policy and racial profiling the past few days. But it's certainly something we should find more bandwidth to talk about. After all, it's a scandal of epic proportions and yet another piece of evidence that Goldman Sachs (along with others) in the last 25 years has become an extra-legal if not a fully criminal enterprise. . . . [read on]


The Sunday talk shows, in bullet points

More from Hillary

C Street? C Street? Never heard of it. . .
Crazy Pete Hoekstra, who will use Dick DeVos' almost unlimited funds to run for MI Governor next year, has pre-emptively admitted, but disavowed, C Street. . . .

The speech itself was utterly disjointed, jumping from the patriotism of America's troops to energy independence, Hollywood starlets threatening the Second Amendment and a repeat of Palin's argument that remaining a lame-duck governor wouldn't have served the people of Alaska well. It was combative, too . . .

And, of course, it featured plenty of media-bashing, as Palin told reporters, "You represent what could and should be a respected, honest profession that could and shoudlo be a cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you and that's why our troops are willing to die for you. So how about in honor of the American soldier ya quit making things up?" . . .

Bonus item: Fox News calls CNN reporter Rick Sanchez a “hack.” Pot, meet kettle

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Sunday, July 26, 2009


I think Dick Cheney was going out of his way to look for more and more areas where he could assert the President’s authority to break the law if he wanted to
[Glenn Greenwald] This new report today from The New York Times' Mark Mazzetti and David Johnston reveals an entirely unsurprising though still important event: in 2002, Dick Cheney and David Addington urged that U.S. military troops be used to arrest and detain American citizens, inside the U.S., who were suspected of involvement with Al Qaeda. That was done pursuant to a previously released DOJ memo authored by John Yoo and Robert Delahunty, addressed to Alberto Gonzales, dated October 23, 2001, and chillingly entitled "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the U.S." That Memo had concluded that the President had authority to deploy the U.S. military against American citizens on U.S. soil. Far worse, it asserted that in exercising that power, the President could not be bound either by Congressional statutes prohibiting such use (such as the Posse Comitatus Act) or even by the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which -- the Memo concluded -- was "inapplicable" to what it called "domestic military operations."

Though it received very little press attention, it is not hyperbole to observe that this October 23 Memo was one of the most significant events in American politics in the last several decades, because it explicitly declared the U.S. Constitution -- the Bill of Rights -- inoperative inside the U.S., as applied to U.S. citizens. . . . [read on]

More on the Bush/Cheney battle over pardoning Scooter Libby
[Marcy Wheeler] I thought I was done with the myth on the Scooter Libby non-pardon. But dday's emphasis on the second most eye-popping detail from Time's story--Libby's unsuccessful attempt to appeal to Bush personally for a pardon (the most eye-popping being Bush's consultation with his own defense attorney)--made me want to tell this story again to emphasize the known facts rather than Bush's self-serving spin of those facts. . . . [read on]

Well, we finally have the Republican health care plan: Don’t Change Anything
[Steve Benen] To appreciate why so many conservative Republican lawmakers oppose health care reform, it's important to remember that they generally don't consider the status quo that bad. . . . [read on]
[Jon Perr] Here, then, is the Republican 10-Point Plan for Health Care:
1. 50 Million Uninsured in America
2. Another 25 Million Underinsured
3. Employer-Based Coverage Plummets Below 60%
4. Employer Health Costs to Jump by 9% in 2010
5. One in Five Americans Forced to Postpone Care
6. 62% of U.S. Bankruptcies Involve Medical Bills
7. Current Health Care Costs Already Fueling Job Losses
8. 94% of Health Insurance Markets in U.S Now "Highly Concentrated"
9. Dramatic Decline in Emergency Room Capacity
10. Perpetuating Red State Health Care Failure

GOP automatons, parroting the health care talking points drafted for them

Obama’s NEXT Supreme Court fight

Once upon a time, Fred Barnes was a halfway decent political journalist with a right-of-center world view. Then he discovered his true calling. . .
[Steve Benen] Conceit is nearly always unseemly, but it takes a smug fool with misplaced arrogance to be truly offensive.

The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes devotes his latest column to bashing President Obama's economic policies. That, in and of itself, is unremarkable. Barnes is a Bush/Cheney Republican, and Obama isn't. They're bound to see economic policy differently.

What's striking, though, is how Barnes presents his argument. Instead of simply making the case against the administration's policies, he feels comfortable arguing that Obama is "an economic illiterate," the "Know-Nothing-in-Chief," and a leader lacking "even a sketchy grasp of economics." This from a shameless conservative hack who has never demonstrated any proficiency in any area of public policy . . . [read on]

Sunday talk show line-ups
• ABC, This Week: Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND); Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).

• CBS, Face The Nation: White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod; Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA); Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN); Historian and author Douglas Brinkley.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); and White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton.

Sarah Palin: an object lesson for what you have to do to become a successful national candidate for the GOP
[Kevin Drum] One of the enduring mysteries of Sarah Palin is the Jekyll/Hyde transformation she underwent when John McCain chose her as his running mate. As near as I can tell, Sarah Palin v1.0 was a relatively pragmatic governor of Alaska. Sure, she was conservative, but for the most part the tribalism and rancor she sometimes displayed as mayor of Wasilla was absent. She worked across the aisle and got things done.

Then the 2008 campaign happened. Palin spent a couple of months on the national stage and developed such a fondness for her role as cultural attack dog — or perhaps redeveloped such a fondness for it — that she found herself either unable and unwilling to bother with actual governance once she got back to Juneau. As Suzy Khimm reports in TNR, Alaska was just too small for Sarah Palin v2.0 . . . [read on]

Bonus item: David Letterman’s Top Ten farewell to Palin

SNL’s highlights too:

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Saturday, July 25, 2009


Ever hear of Posse Comitatus?
Top Bush administration officials in 2002 debated testing the Constitution by sending American troops into the suburbs of Buffalo to arrest a group of men suspected of plotting with Al Qaeda, according to former administration officials.

Some of the advisers to President George W. Bush, including Vice President Dick Cheney, argued that a president had the power to use the military on domestic soil to sweep up the terrorism suspects . . .

How they do “apologies”
Doctor On Racist Obama Email: "I Sincerely Apologize"
Dr. David McKalip has told fellow conservative activists that thanks to the flap over his racist email showing President Obama as a witch doctor, he will no longer appear publicly in opposition to health-care reform. . . .

The emails also show that McKalip's original response to the criticism he began to receive after we revealed his racist email was equally defiant. About an hour after our post went up yesterday morning, he wrote to fellow activists, in an email titled: "Race Baiting by Obama Camp on health care" . . . [read on]
The national coordinator of the American Tea Party movement is standing behind David McKalip and has pledged her help as he struggles with the fallout over the racist email he sent showing President Obama dressed as a witch doctor. . . .


OK, I guess I have to say something about the stupid Gates controversy. Yes, it was stupid to arrest an innocent guy in his own house. Yes it was stupid for Obama to use the word “stupid” in characterizing it. Yes, all the breathless opinion-mongering is stupid when no one knows exactly who said and did what in the fracas. Yes, the press has been mostly stupid and irresponsible in promoting the feeding frenzy.

Obama tries to put it at rest, invites Crowley and Gates to the WH for a beer . . .
“Over the last two days as we've discussed this issue, I don't know if you've noticed, but nobody has been paying much attention to health care. . . .”

Both Were Wrong, But One Was Wronger . . .

Rush calls Obama an “angry black man.” Let’s drop the subtlety, eh?

Bye-bye Sarah
As Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin prepares for the next stage of her political career, a majority of Americans hold an unfavorable view of her, and there is broad public doubt about her leadership skills and understanding of complex issues, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. . . .
Is Palin really getting less popular?

Photo gallery:

Another Katrina – pshaw!
[Marsha Blackburn (Oblivious-TN)] Let’s agree that we’re going to have PAYGO enforcement. That we’re not going to cry ‘emergency’ every time we have a Katrina, every time we have a Tsunami . . .

Sometimes even I think that Obama has too many balls in the air all at once. Here comes a major education reform too

Here’s how you know there’s nothing to the Obama “birther” controversy – if there had been, McCain would have used it in the campaign (oh, yes, he would)

Bonus item: The GOP health care plan
[Howard Fineman] I talked to people on the Hill all day today. I talked to Republicans as well as Democrats. Republicans claims they have a plan. They don't. They claim they're going to have a plan. They won't. Their whole strategy ... is to stand on the sidelines with their arms folded while the Democrats try to work this thing out. That's their whole strategy.


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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, July 24, 2009


Cheney and Bush went at it hammer and tong over the Libby pardon
"Cheney really got in the President's face," one of Time's sources says. "He just wouldn't give it up." [read on]


Cheney responds:

Reviews of Obama’s health care press conference are still trickling in . . .
[Paul Krugman] Mr. Obama was especially good when he talked about controlling medical costs. And there’s a crucial lesson there — namely, that when it comes to reforming health care, compassion and cost-effectiveness go hand in hand.

To see what I mean, compare what Mr. Obama has said and done about health care with the statements and actions of his predecessor.

President Bush, you may remember, was notably unconcerned with the plight of the uninsured. “I mean, people have access to health care in America,” he once remarked. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.” . . . .

I don’t know how many people understand the significance of Mr. Obama’s proposal to give MedPAC, the expert advisory board to Medicare, real power. But it’s a major step toward reducing the useless spending — the proliferation of procedures with no medical benefits — that bloats American health care costs.

And both the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats have also been emphasizing the importance of “comparative effectiveness research” — seeing which medical procedures actually work.

So the Obama administration’s commitment to health care for all goes along with an unprecedented willingness to get serious about spending health care dollars wisely. . . . . [read on]


Well, it’s official: the Republicans have no alternative plan
Republican Health Care Plan: [crickets]

Leader Of GOP Health Care “Solutions Group” Says GOP Won’t Offer Health Care Bill

Boehner: GOP Does Have A Health Care Bill, But We Might Not Release It

Roy Blunt Clarifies, Says House GOP Might Produce Health Care Bill

Second GOP Senator admits strategy is to kill, not improve, health care reform

The Henry Louis Gates/Cambridge police dust-up: the Rashomon effect
[Marc Ambinder] Gates was understandably angry that he was being harassed in his house, mouthed off the to the police officer (legal, but never, ever a good idea), and was hauled away in cuffs for being too loud, apparently. The officer defends himself: he's a guy with a history of racial conciliation. A neighbor reported a break-in; the officer went to the house expecting to see someone breaking into a house; indeed, when he arrived, a guy was inside a house. The officer will go to his grave being convinced that he was following police procedure, and Gates will probably never be convinced that his race was not the prime factor in his brief detention. Gates's physical appearance may be exculpatory for Crowley. If the general idea is that Crowley was unconsciously motivated by racial prejudice, it's hard to imagine why he'd find a 5 foot 7 inch tall guy with graying hair and a cane to be threatening because of his race. Crowley seems to be more motivated by power and authority, which Gates (again, legally and perhaps appropriately, given the situation) ridiculed.

I'd bet that most police officers across the country have at least some sympathy for the officer. I'd wager that most of them might agree that the officer was being pushy when he put Gates in handcuffs...for no other reason than that he could. It's a mild form of excessive force, but one that police use all the time to intimidate people...most of them deserving of intimidation. Gates was not.

President Obama, meanwhile, has weighed in on the side of Professor Gates, saying the cops were "acting stupidly" That's a harsh conclusion based on what we know . . .
[Chris Good] Obama may have to walk back the "stupidly" comment, given that cops might not understand its application to the Cambridge Police Dept. en masse.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) was less ambivalent about the comment this afternoon, when it used the comment to hit Democratic congressmen from Massachusetts, confronting them with the remark as an affront to law enforcement officials on Obama's part.

The NRCC sent a press release to the districts of the state's 11 Democratic representatives, asking if each one shares Obama's opinion of the Cambridge police. . . .
[Matt Yglesias] One of the biggest reasons why it’s extremely difficult to have a real conversation about race in the United States is that every imputation of a racial dynamic immediately becomes a defensive spat in which the white person in question starts denying that he “is” a “racist.” Now we see the Officer Crowley edition of the saga, as he explains that he once tried to save the life of a black man, so he must not be a racist. And of course the great thing about the contemporary United States is that the number of people who are so racist that they would willfully let a black man die rather than lift a finger to save him is extremely small. But that’s not at all the same as saying that African-Americans don’t suffer from negative implicit biases or explicit “profiling.”

Race, in other words, exists as a negative factor in people’s lives without there needing to be tons of cartoonish racists running around.

Meanwhile, note that racial motivations or there absence have really nothing to do with the nature of Officer Crowley’s misconduct. What happened basically is that Crowley accused Gates, whether for good reason or not, of breaking into his own home. Gates, pissed off, offended Crowley. At which point Crowley, even though he was now perfectly aware that Gates was not guilty of anything, decided to exact revenge by manipulating the situation to create a trumped-up disorderly conduct charge. That’s not professional policing, and it’s not a good use of the City of Cambridge’s law enforcement resources. That’s why the charges were dropped, and that’s why it’s fair to say that Crowley was acting stupidly racial issues aside.*

Meanwhile, we see here yet another instance of one of my favorite themes on this blog. The conservative movement, which never ever ever dedicates any time or energy to the problem of racial discrimination suffered by non-whites, thinks it’s very important to draw attention to the social crisis of white people burdened by accusations of racism. . . .


BREAKING NEWS: they have tapes
[Greg Sargent] The Boston Herald is now reporting that there are recorded police and 911 tapes that could shed lots more light on what actually happened. Cambridge police brass may make the tapes public, which really ups the stakes for camps on both sides of this fight.

With President Obama defending his criticism of the cops, and the GOP throwing in its lot with old-style racial politics, the existence of more as-yet-unrevealed evidence — which will be claimed as vindication by both sides — means this war will only get uglier. . . .

The GOP loves their “reverse racism” theme


The first rule of C Street is. . . .
Lawmaker Won't Say Whether He Lives At C Street


The kind of people they are (round-up)
The Arkansas Republican Party sure seems to have an interesting line-up of Senate candidates. Check out these statement from retired Army officer Curtis Reynolds.

"When I joined the military I took an oath to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic," Reynolds said. "I never thought it would be domestic, but in today's world I do believe we have enemies here. It's time for people to stand up. It's time for us to speak out."

He added: "We need someone to stand up to Barack Obama and his policies. We must protect our culture, our Christian identity." . . . [read on]
Conservative Activist Forwards Racist Pic Showing Obama As Witch Doctor
[Steve Benen] More than a few Republican officials who excoriated President Obama's stimulus package have suddenly discovered the political benefits of spending projects in their state and/or district. But I don't think anyone has been quite as shameless as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R).

Jindal, in a very memorable national address, rejected the very idea of the recovery bill, saying government is incapable of "rescu[ing] us from the economic storms raging all around us." He mocked the stimulus for being "larded with wasteful spending," including "something called volcano monitoring."

This week, Jindal boasted that "things are looking up" in Louisiana, no thanks to the "nearly trillion-dollar stimulus that has not stimulated."

With that in mind, Lee Fang reports on Jindal's tour of his home state, where he's promoting his economic policies and handing out money -- which he received from the stimulus package he loathes. . . .
[Zachary Roth] Meet Tennessee state senator Paul Stanley. He's a solid conservative Republican and married father of two, who according to his website is "a member of Christ United Methodist Church, where he serves as a Sunday school teacher and board member of their day school." (Check out the religious imagery on the site -- the sun poking through clouds, as if manifesting God's presence -- which of course shows Stanley's deeply pious nature.)

Stanley recently sponsored a bill designed to prevent gay couples from adopting children. And when a Planned Parenthood official recently sought his support for family planning services for Memphis teens, Stanley told her, according to the official, that he "didn't believe young people should have sex before marriage anyway, that his faith and church are important to him, and he wants to promote abstinence."

So far, so far Republican. But you can see where this is going . . .

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Obama’s press conference – not his best work
[S]peaking from a 30,000 foot perspective . . .
Half an hour into tonight's press conference Barack Obama has answered a grand total of three questions. This is not a good performance. He really needs to pick up the pace and make his answers crisper and more comprehensible. . . .
Howard Fineman says that Obama failed to hit it out of the park in his press conference because he didn't sound enough like Ronald Reagan. He was like, totally, boring. I guess the honeymoon really is over. They're responding to him like they used to respond to Clinton. They prefer the president to speak like a six year old as Bush did Bush or an addled elder comedian like Reagan. It's more fun.

Luckily, if actual Americans were listening they likely learned something tonight . . .


Did he get suckered into the Gates question?
Tonight sums up where we are in America: the headlines are all about, not how to get to secure and affordable health care, the preeminent social inclusion issue relevant to millions of American families, but about African American Obama defending his millionaire friend Skip Gates on the race issue! . . . [read on]


Blackwater still ducking accountability for deaths

The kind of people they are
Randall Terry took time out of his twelve-city, "Defeat Sotomayor" tour yesterday to grace the National Press Club's podium. His message? Expect more domestic terrorism in response to health care reform. . . .

Liz Cheney, her father’s daughter
Liz Cheney: Birthers Are "Concerned" About President Not Defending America . . .


Another C Streeter

Bonus item: Shut UP, Sanford,-and-hes-as-awkward-as-ever

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***