“You gotta realize there’s consequences to that action”

That’s Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, speaking on MSNBC on March 25 in response to Sarah Palin’s “crosshairs” campaign. Giffords was shot in the head today at an event in Tuscon. 18 were injured; 6 were killed.

Arizonan John McCain defended the gun rhetoric:

I have seen the rhetoric of ‘targeted districts’ as long as I’ve been in politics. … To say that there’s a targeted district or that we ‘reload’ or ‘got back into the fight again.’ Please. … Those are fine. They’re used all the time.”

Only two of the congressmen targeted by Palin went on to re-election in November. One was Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. Of course, elections aren’t the only means of getting rid of elected officials…

If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.
– 2010 Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle

There are hundreds of examples of this type of rhetoric and imagery from the right over the last couple of years. They’ve also used similar language concerning members of the federal judiciary. (Federal Judge John Roll was killed in today’s shooting Tuscon, though his appearance at the event seemed to have been unplanned.) See Senator John Cornyn’s April 2005 comments.

It’s all sickening.

I’m glued to MSNBC’s continuing coverage. (I’m glad I’ve got my free DirecTV right now. It’s times like this that I most appreciate access to a live television service).

Gabrielle Giffords is considered a Blue Dog Democrat, but she’s also in one of the most Republican districts that a Democrat has managed to hold. She was one of three congressional candidates that Keith Olbermann donated to (and was subsequently suspended for doing so) last cycle, and that’s good enough for me. Yes, it would be tragic if any member of congress were assaulted. But Giffords is a highly-respected member of my party, so it hits me harder than it might otherwise. The accused shooter may not have been influenced by the harsh vitriol from right-wing media. However, this horrific events shines a gigantic spotlight on the political divisions within our country and that one side has been behaving in a far more irresponsible manner than the other. I can only hope this is turning point in how political discourse proceeds in this country.


Education in America gets further F***ed up

And by F***, I mean Foxx, as in North Carolina’s own Virginia Foxx. Foxx is perhaps best-known as the batshit crazy-like-a-fox representative who said that Matthew Shephard’s murder having been a hate crime was a hoax, and that the health care bill was more reason for fear than any terrorist threat.

Last January, Virginia Foxx said on the House floor:

Most of the things that have been done by the federal government which are unconstitutional have been done for good reasons. They’re not malevolent reasons, but they’re wrong. We should not be funding education, for example.

Well, Rep. Foxx is the new chairperson of the house subcommittee on higher-education.

She was the only committee member to vote against the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 that was signed by President George W. Bush.

She is also a huge supporter of for-profit colleges and thinks that recent student loan reform should be repealed.

Ah, there are so many things I could mention that are flat-out rotten about what the new GOP-led House plans. But Foxx is one of my favorite targets, since my f***ed state keeps sending her to Washington.

On the tax cuts deal

I’ve been complaining about those Bush tax cuts for a few months. Now the deal is (almost) done. I’ll just like to some more articulate people’s thoughts on why lots of Democrats will be looking around for a new leader over the next 20 months.

This “deal” Obama just made with Rep.s:$900 billion UNpaid for! Where r Teabaggers to protest? Ben Franklin costume in the wash?


Ok I’m starting to scream at Obama on tv the way I used to with Bush – not a good sign


My conversations with various progressives over the past 24 hours have convinced me that the problem is less the specifics of the deal — though liberals legitimately dislike the tax cuts for the rich, and rightly point out that Obama swore to let them expire — than the way in which it was reached. Put simply, Obama and the Democrats didn’t fight for them. There were no veto threats or serious effort to take the case to the public.

Instead, the White House disappeared into a closed room with the Republicans and cut a deal that they’d made no effort to sell to progressives. When the deal was cut, the president took an oblique shot at their preferences, saying “the American people didn’t send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories.” And this came a mere week or two after the White House announced a federal pay freeze. The pattern, for progressives, seems clear: The White House uses them during elections, but doesn’t listen to, or consult them, while governing. In fact, it insults them, and then tells them to quiet down, they got the best bargain possible, even if it wasn’t the one they’d asked for, or been promised.

Ezra Klein

…if Democrats give in to the blackmailers now, they’ll just face more demands in the future. As long as Republicans believe that Mr. Obama will do anything to avoid short-term pain, they’ll have every incentive to keep taking hostages. If the president will endanger America’s fiscal future to avoid a tax increase, what will he give to avoid a government shutdown?

Paul Krugman

Mr. President, for these meager crumbs, you have given up costly, insulting, divisive, destructive tax cuts for the rich and you have given in to Republican blackmail which will be followed by more Republican blackmail.

This President negotiates down from a position of strength better than any politician in our recent history. It is too late now to go back and ask why the President, why the wobbly Democratic leadership, whiffed on its chance to force John Boehner to put his money where his mouth was. In September Boehner said if he had no other option, of course he would vote to extend tax breaks only for the middle class.

We have enabled this President, and his compromises-spinning-within-compromises. And now there are, finally, those within his own party who have said “enough.” In the Senate, the Independent, Mr. Sanders has threatened to filibuster this deal. He deserves the support of every American in doing so, as does Mr. Conyers and Mr. McDermott and the others in the house. It is not disloyalty to the Democratic party to tell a Democratic president he is wrong; it is not disloyalty to tell him he is goddamned wrong.

It is not disloyalty to remind him that we are not bound to an individual. We are bound to principles. If the individual changes, or fails often and needlessly, then we get a new man. Or woman. None of that is disloyalty. It is self-defense.

Keith Olbermann

Toastie Eliminates the Deficit

The New York Times has a must-see-and-play-with interactive tool for showing how the current deficit and future projected deficits can be managed.

It’s an neat tool to check out because it shows very clearly how some popular targets are really just drops in the bucket, like foreign aid and medical malpractice reform.

Closing the projected 2030 budget shortfall is very difficult unless you start messing with social security. There needs to be someway of raising the retirement age without adversely impacting those who careers rely on their bodies to function adequately. You simply can’t expect sanitation workers and UPS drivers to work until they are 70.

Anyway, I played the game and managed to at least close the 2015 projected shortfall of $418 billion, 3/4 from tax increases and 1/4 from spending cuts:

  • Eliminate farm subsidies – $14B
  • Reduce troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by 30K by 2013 – $86B
  • Obama’s estate tax plan (lower than Clinton’s; higher than nothing) – $24B
  • Obama’s investment tax plan (lower than Clinton’s; higher than nothing) – $10B
  • Expire Bush tax cuts for income above $250K/yr – $54B
  • Expand ceiling for payroll tax – $50B
  • Millionaire’s tax (new top bracket, instead of top bracket starting at $375K) – $50B
  • Convert mortgage-interest deduction to credit (less benefit for high-income hh’s) – $25B
  • Carbon tax – $40B
  • Bank tax – $73B

After Vote Part 3

I’ve got too much going on to revisit all of the saved articles I had planned to share and comment on. I think it’s safe to say, at this point, that there are three main theories as to why the Democrats got “shellacked”:

1. The economy / 9.5% unemployment (what Obama and good Democratic Party soldiers like Nancy Pelosi say)

2. Obama and the Democrats were too liberal, “carved out” too large a role for government

3. Obama and the Democrats didn’t fight for liberal/progressive policies; they compromised too often

As should be obvious by now, I fall into the camp that subscribes to the last reason. Surely, #1 played some role, whether you subscribe to #2 or #3. I will not completely dismiss #2. It is true that had Obama sat back and done literally NOTHING over the past two years, Democrats might have lost fewer elections. However, overall, doing SOME stimulus was better for the nation than doing nothing, as was doing SOME healthcare reform as opposed to none, although both of these were bad politically from both right and the left.

Anyway, I’m motivated to make a brief post now because I just had an interesting conversation with a local Democratic party worker (staffer or volunteer, I’m not sure). He had come to buy my old coffee table, and he had worked hard on canvassing locally and statewide on behalf of Democratic candidates. In particular, he worked hard on the GOTV effort for David Price, who hung on to beat the Republican challenger B.J. Lawson, who has now lost to Price in two consecutive elections. However, whereas Price won by 26 points in 2008, Lawson lost by a margin of just 14 points, or 37,000 votes.

My coffee-table-buyer stressed that, had there not had been a massive GOTV effort, Price could have easily been a victim of the Republican wave, since Lawson’s campaign had a huge financial and messaging advantage. Moreover, while it seemed like the Democratic Party just rolled over in the 2010 elections, there was a great deal of work that went into getting core voters to get out and vote, and that work made the difference between the Democratics losing 60 or so seats and potentially losing 90-100 seats.

The Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives now has a higher concentration of progressives than it did before, since conservative Blue Dogs lost at a much higher rate than did progressives. I think this the case because a lot of progressive party die-hards fought on despite the national mood. So, I am grateful to them, and this makes me feel a little bit better about the election results.

2010 was not a repudiation of liberalism.

By the way, did you that Zach Galifianakis’s uncle Nick represented N.C.’s 4th district between 1967 and 1973?

After Vote Part 1

I will share some of the more intelligent comments I have read on the internets over the past couple of days, with perhaps some of my less intelligent thoughts mixed in. I think I’ve noted a whole lot that I want to share, so I’ll make a few of these posts so they’re more digestible (and don’t feel like spending much time on this exercise at the moment.)

What the average voter saw of Democrats was weak, watered-down change – and weak Democratic leaders who cut deals with the very Wall Street banks and insurance companies they are supposed to be fighting.

Progressives will be stepping up and insisting that the Democratic Party be bolder, not weaker.
Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign

Saddest specific storyline from Tuesday night:
– Wisconsin progressive Senator Russ Feingold loses

Unsaddest storyline from Tuesday night:
– Nearly half of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats in Congress lose

It is because of the Blue Dog Coalition that there is no floor vote before the August break.
– South Dakota’s Blue Dog representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in August 2009 regarding the healthcare debate; Rep. Herseth Sandlin was among the 29 Blue Dogs to lose on Tuesday

In another words, it’s because of the Blue Dogs that healthcare was watered down and delayed so much. Good riddance, Blue Dogs.

It’s a shame Heath Shuler still as his seat. He says he will challenge Pelosi for Minority Leader should she stay on. Since 95% of the members of the Progressive Caucus kept their seats, I’m thinking Shuler will get crushed.

So, we’re already getting the expected punditry: Obama needs to end his leftist policies, which consist of … well, there weren’t any, but he should stop them anyway.

What actually happened, of course, was that Obama failed to do enough to boost the economy, plus totally failing to tap into populist outrage at Wall Street. And now we’re in the trap I worried about from the beginning: by failing to do enough when he had political capital, he lost that capital, and now we’re stuck.

But he did have help in getting it wrong: at every stage there was a faction of Democrats standing in the way of strong action, demanding that Obama do less, avoid spending money, and so on. In so doing, they shot themselves in the face: half of the Blue Dogs lost their seats.

And what are those who are left demanding? Why, that Obama move to the center.

Paul Krugman on The Whiny Center