Tag Archives: David Kurtz

Look, Children, It’s A Thing Spoke Of As Myth (An Actual Filibuster, Or Not)

Heather Horn at The Atlantic with the round-up.

Jordan Fabian at The Hill:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is railing against President Obama’s tax-cut package in a lengthy floor speech.

Sanders, one of the Senate’s leading liberals, is protesting Obama’s deal with Republicans, which would extend tax cuts on all income that were initially signed by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003.

Sanders began his speech on Friday at 10:24 a.m. and was still speaking at 5:31 p.m. Friday afternoon. He has threatened to filibuster the Obama-GOP deal when it is brought to the Senate floor next week.

“You can call what i am doing today whatever you want, you it [sic] call it a filibuster, you can call it a very long speech … ,” read a message posted on Sanders’s Twitter account after he’d taken to the rostrum.

Joe Weisenthal at Business Insider:

Update: Sanders is into hour 8.

Update 2: They’re in hour 6

Update: It’s in its 5th hour, and Senator Sanders is talking again, after having handed the baton to Mary Landrieu.

Original post: The Bernie Sanders filibuster against the tax deal is now in its 4th hour, and currently Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu has joined in. They’re railing against the deal, and in general inequality in America >

Just one thought: This is a disaster for Obama.

It’s the first time we can recall that something happening on the liberal side is getting people excited — #filibernie is a hot topic on Twitter right now — and Obama isn’t part of it. In fact, he’s against it.

Allah Pundit:

You’ll be pleased to know that, in his frantic search for subject matter to keep him going, he’s already somehow detoured into chatting about Arianna Huffington. If that’s where he’s at in hour six, lord only knows where he’ll be in hour twelve. Reading aloud from “Jersey Shore” transcripts, probably.

Daniel Foster at The Corner:

Regardless of the merits of Mr. Sanders’ position on the bill, this is my favored brand of filibuster-reform: make Senators actually do it. You’d retain the Senate’s best counter-majoritarian feature but see it reserved only for the most important measures.

Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo:

It’s a filibuster as filibusters were originally intended — and, as such, makes a mockery of what the filibuster’s become: a gimmick that allows a minority of senators to quietly impose supermajority requirements on any piece of legislation.

Joined at different times by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sanders has been decrying the Obama tax cut plan for bailing out the wealthiest people in America. “How can I get by on one house?” Sanders railed, sarcastically. “I need five houses, ten houses. I need three jet planes to take me all over the world! Sorry, American people. We’ve got the money, we’ve got the power.”

As a result of his efforts, he’s shot up to near the top Twitter trending topic chart. Filibusters like these were much more common decades ago, before the rules changed and Senators could really run out the clock by holding the floor and talking and talking without pause. Things are different today — and, whatever Sanders does, the Senate isn’t scheduled to hold any votes until Monday, so its practical effects may not amount to much.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

It’s not a filibuster. Not unless he holds the floor until at least Monday and beyond.

There’s a set vote on the tax cut bill on Monday. Nothing else has been scheduled to move today. Bernie is not really blocking anything. This puts Sanders’ speech into the Congressional record; I’m not sure there’s an additional purpose.

But that’s not to say it isn’t important. Sanders is calling attention to the massive inequality in America, which will only be stratified further by a tax cut bill that raises taxes from current law for 25 million low-income workers and gives millionaires a tax cut of about $139,000 a person. He’s explaining America’s insane trade policies, which have cut out the American manufacturing base and hollowed out the middle class. He’s taking on corporate CEO pay, and the two-income trap, and basically making the progressive critique of an economy bought and paid for by the very rich.

What’s more, he’s picked up support, not only from usual suspects by Sherrod Brown but from conservative Democrat Mary Landrieu, who acknowledged she doesn’t always agree with her colleague but said that he has “done his homework” about the tax cut deal. After slamming the deal as unfair to the poor and to minorities and giving a very cogent argument about inequality, Landrieu hilariously concluded by saying she might vote for the bill, but she’d be “loud” about it. Nevertheless, you’re seeing issues discussed on the Senate floor that almost never come up in any other context. Political theater is sadly one of the few ways to cut through the clutter in America, and that’s what Sanders is up to, I suspect.

Andrew Leonard at Salon:

His epic rant — perhaps one of the most extraordinary critiques of how the American economy has been managed over the last several decades delivered in living memory — is an endless sequence of connecting the dots from one outrage to another. Even as I wrote this paragraph, he segued effortlessly from trade policy to Wall Street.

“But it is not just a disastrous trade policy that has brought us where we are today. The immediate cause of this crisis, and it gets me just sick talking about it … is what the crooks on Wall Street have done to the American people.”

Sanders then delivers a capsule history of deregulation, blasts Alan Greenspan, notes that in the late ’90s he had predicted everything that ultimately happened, but failed to rally legislative support to stop the runaway train — “and the rest is, unfortunately, history.”

From there, a class warfare sideswipe: “Understand, that in this country when you are a CEO on Wall Street — you can do pretty much anything you want and get away it.”

“And what they did to the American people is so horrible.”

On to the bailout! His scorn is so caustic it could disintegrate an aircraft carrier: “We bailed these guys out because they were too big to fail, and now three of the four largest banks  are now even larger. ”

As Sanders’ great oration enters its seventh hour, it is, by its very nature, impossible to summarize. It is a ramble, a rant, a critique, a cry of rage, a wail of despair, and a call to action. And it is amazing. I’ve heard stories of filibusters in which senators read phone books. And I’ve watched with disgust as for years Republicans have merely threatened to filibuster, without ever actually being forced to exercise their vocal cords. But here is Bernie Sanders, seven hours in, calling for the biggest banks to be broken up, voice still hale and hearty, and looking like he could easily go another seven hours.

Give credit to the citizens of Vermont, who know how to elect someone not afraid of speaking truth to power.

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

Sen. Bernie Sanders all-day speech on the Senate floor has ended after about 8 1/2 hours.

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“We Have A Gay Guy. He’s Big, He’s Mean, And He Kills Lots Of Bad Guys. No One Cared That He Was Gay.”

DOD page

Andrew Sullivan with a round-up.

Sullivan:

And the report is absolutely clear that straight servicemembers by large majorities have few problems with openly gay servicemembers. 69 percent of them acknowledge they have fought or worked alongside gay men and women already. A staggering 92 percent of those were fine with lifting the ban. Again: when you know someone is gay, all the fears and stereotypes tend to evaporate. This is not a surprise. The men and women of the US military are among the finest in the land; they want to do the job at hand, not deepen social division or posture politically. They are not bigots. I note one colorful quote from a special ops fighter:

“We have a gay guy [in the unit]. He’s big, he’s mean, and he kills lots of bad guys. No one cared that he was gay.”

And why would they? The other critical point is the inherent conservatism of many gay servicemembers. The last thing they would want to do is make a fuss about their orientation. The overwhelming majority will stay largely closeted in the workplace and battlefield – not out of fear but because it is irrelevant, and they are discreet kinds of people. Rand found that “even if Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were repealed, only 15% of gay and lesbian Service members would like to have their sexual orientation known to everyone in their unit.”

Kevin Drum:

It turns out that although 30% of respondents think that repealing DADT would affect their unit’s ability to train well together (a number that shows up pretty consistently on every question about the effect of repeal), only 10% think it would affect their own readiness and only 20% think it would affect their ability to train well. In other words, there’s pretty good reason to think that even the 30% number is overstated. It seems to include a fair number of people who are assuming that DADT repeal would have a negative effect on other people even though it wouldn’t have a negative effect on them. My guess is that a lot of this is reaction to a small number of vocal traditionalists, which makes opposition to repeal seem like a bigger deal than it is.

Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s chief counsel, agrees, saying that surveys about personnel changes “tend to overestimate negative consequences, and underestimate the U.S. military’s ability to adapt and incorporate within its ranks the diversity that is reflective of American society at large.” I suspect he’s right. In the end, real opposition is probably more in the range of 10-20% than 30%, and even that will probably produce nothing more serious than occasional grumbling and discomfort for a year or two at most. There’s really no further excuse for inaction. It’s time for Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership to figure out a way to cut a deal and get repeal passed before Congress recesses.

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

Early reports on the Pentagon’s survey of the troops on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were nothing but roses for repeal supporters, but the details of the survey complicate that narrative somewhat. While only 20% of troops who have never been deployed to a combat zone say that repeal of DADT would “very negatively” or “negatively” affect their “immediate unit’s effectiveness at completing its mission,” more than 44% of combat troops say repeal would have a negative impact on unit effectiveness:

An exception to the pattern was the response of Service members deployed to a combat zone now or in the past to the circumstance of being “in a field environment or out to sea.” Among all Service members in this group, 44.3% (and 59.4% of Marines—see Q71a in Appendix E) said performance would be “very negatively/negatively” affected in this situation. Of note, among all survey items related to the review’s major subject areas, this item had the highest percentage of Service members reporting negative perceptions about the impact of a repeal.

About 11% of all combat troops surveyed said repeal would “positively” or “very positively” affect performance, while 19% said repeal would have “no effect.” Another 26% of combat troops surveyed said repeal’s affect wold be “equally as positively as negatively.” These troops–who see both negative and positive effects of repeal–are lumped together with those who believe it will have “no effect” under the survey’s “neutral” category.

Spartan living conditions on combat zones may be one reason why combat troops see repeal more negatively than non-combat troops do

Joe.My.God

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

Defense Secretary Bob Gates just called on Congress to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell before the end of the year — while asking that Congress give the military time to implement the change.

Asked by reporters how much time he would need, Gates conceded he didn’t know. But he indicated the the President would keep a close eye on the Pentagon and make sure it didn’t slow roll the implementation.

As expected, the Pentagon’s review of DADT found that repeal of the flawed policy would not have an adverse effect on unit morale or cohesion. But Gates’ unequivocal call for repeal by Congress was perhaps a surprise. The argument he made for repeal cuts particularly sharply for Republicans: if Congress doesn’t repeal DADT in orderly fashion, the federal courts may do it in a haphazard and disruptive way.

Steve Benen:

Commenting on the Pentagon report, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added, “We treat people with dignity and respect in the armed forces, or we don’t last long in the armed forces: No special cases, no special treatment.”

Igor Volsky has more, including a variety of related highlights from the survey findings. The entire report has been published online here.

As for the larger legislative context, remember, Senate Republicans recently refused to even allow a debate on funding U.S. troops because they wanted to wait for this report. They took a gamble, of sorts — maybe the survey results would show servicemen and women agreeing with the GOP’s anti-gay animus, thus giving the party a boost fighting pro-repeal Democrats.

The gamble failed. We now know a majority of U.S. troops, a majority of U.S. civilians, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are all ready to see DADT repeal move forward.

If John McCain and other anti-gay senators hoped to gain some leverage, those hopes were in vain. They’ve run out of excuses. It’s time for the Senate to do the right and decent thing.

Remember, Democrats only need two Republicans — literally, just two — to break ranks. These GOP senators, if they exist, don’t even have to vote for the spending bill that includes the DADT provision; they just need to let the Senate vote up or own. If this report doesn’t lead two Republicans to drop the nonsense, nothing will.

Gabriel Arana at Tapped:

Two points. Part of the argument for keeping DADT — and the criticism that’s been directed at its opponents — has been that the military is special, that the rules for civil society are not the same as those necessary for a well-disciplined and effective military force. There’s some sense in this; it’s probably why, for instance, we don’t ask military members to vote on each tactical move they have to carry out, or leave the decision of whether the country goes to war to them. If the rights and responsibilities of military members need be different from those of civil society in any way, following decisions made along the chain of command seems to be the most important for maintaining cohesion. Surveying the troops about a policy matter is, in that light, a departure from the military M.O.

But the larger question is whether the rights of any minority group should be put up to a vote. In this case, the results of the study tip the scales in favor of repeal, but that needn’t have been the case — and it shouldn’t matter anyway. Anti-gay activists rely on the prejudice of voters to suppress minority rights — and call it undemocratic when a court rules that the electorate does not have a right to vote on issues like gay marriage or in this case the DADT repeal. But a fundamental feature of our democracy is that the system is reined in from pure mob rule by the (at least in theory) inalienable guarantees of the Constitution. You don’t want the Bill of Rights put up to a vote every time the courts want to extend its protections to a marginalized group, whether public opinion is on your side or not.

Allah Pundit

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Aqua Buddha A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop

Ray Gustini at The Atlantic with the round-up

Jason Zengerle at GQ:

What’s truly interesting about Rand Paul and Baylor is not the issue of whether or not he graduated; it’s what he did at Baylor during the two-and-a-half years he spent there. As I discovered in the course of reporting a story about Paul for GQ, he wasn’t your typical Baylor student.

Baylor seemed like a natural fit for someone like Paul. Located in Waco, it’s the world’s largest Baptist University and has a long history of educating the children of prominent Texas conservative politicos. As the son of Houston-area Congressman Ron Paul, young Rand—or Randy, as he was known back then—appeared to be following in that tradition. But when Paul showed up in Waco, he didn’t conform to type. According to several of his former Baylor classmates, he became a member of a secret society called the NoZe Brotherhood, which was a refuge for atypical Baylor students. “You could have taken 90 percent of the liberal thinkers at Baylor and found them in this small group,” recalls Marc Burckhardt, one of Paul’s former NoZe Brothers. Sort of a cross between Yale’s Skull & Bones and Harvard’s Lampoon, the NoZe existed to torment the Baylor administration, which it accomplished through pranks and its satirical newspaper The Rope. The group especially enjoyed tweaking the school’s religiosity. “We aspired to blasphemy,” says John Green, another of Paul’s former NoZe Brothers.

And so the NoZe Brothers would perform “Christian” songs like “Rock Around the Cross”; they’d parade around campus carrying a giant picture of Anita Bryant with a large hole cut out of her mouth after the former beauty queen proclaimed oral sex sinful; and they’d run ads for a Waco strip club on the back page of The Rope. In 1978, the Baylor administration became so fed up with the NoZe that it suspended the group from campus for being, in the words of Baylor’s president at the time, “lewd, crude, and grossly sacrilegious.” During Paul’s three years at Baylor, according to former NoZe Brothers, if the administration discovered a student was a member of the NoZe, the punishment was automatic expulsion.

[…]

The strangest episode of Paul’s time at Baylor occurred one afternoon in 1983 (although memories about all of these events are understandably a bit hazy, so the date might be slightly off), when he and a NoZe brother paid a visit to a female student who was one of Paul’s teammates on the Baylor swim team. According to this woman, who requested anonymity because of her current job as a clinical psychologist, “He and Randy came to my house, they knocked on my door, and then they blindfolded me, tied me up, and put me in their car. They took me to their apartment and tried to force me to take bong hits. They’d been smoking pot.” After the woman refused to smoke with them, Paul and his friend put her back in their car and drove to the countryside outside of Waco, where they stopped near a creek. “They told me their god was ‘Aqua Buddha’ and that I needed to bow down and worship him,” the woman recalls. “They blindfolded me and made me bow down to ‘Aqua Buddha’ in the creek. I had to say, ‘I worship you Aqua Buddha, I worship you.’ At Baylor, there were people actively going around trying to save you and we had to go to chapel, so worshiping idols was a big no-no.”

Nearly 30 years later, the woman is still trying to make sense of that afternoon. “They never hurt me, they never did anything wrong, but the whole thing was kind of sadistic. They were messing with my mind. It was some kind of joke.” She hadn’t actually realized that Paul wound up leaving Baylor early. “I just know I never saw Randy after that—for understandable reasons, I think.”

Ben Smith at Politico:

Paul spokesman Jesse Benton didn’t respond directly to Zengerle’s question about the incident; I’ve e-mailed him to ask whether that story is true, and am also trying to reach the accuser.

UPDATE: Benton repeated his non-denial to me in an e-mail, adding: “We’ll leave National Enquirer-type stories about his teenage years to the tabloids where they belong.”

Josh Green at The Atlantic:

I’ll bet they were listening to Rush.

David Kurtz at TPM

Dan Amira at New York Magazine:

Just … wow. Kidnapping, drug use, sacrilege — how could the Paul campaign possibly explain all of this to its many conservative supporters?

Steve Benen:

A lot of folks had some rowdy experiences in college, but I suspect the number of Senate candidates who kidnapped a fellow student, forced her into some bizarre ritual, and worshiped the “Aqua Buddha” is fairly low.

This is, by the way, the same Baylor University that Paul didn’t graduate from, despite some suggestions to the contrary.

In the grand scheme of things, Paul’s radical ideology — he’s the one who opposes the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act — is far more relevant than his ridiculous behavior in college. But given the right-wing ophthalmologist’s razor thin public record — he’s never sought or held public office at any level — incidents like these help flesh out a better understanding of Rand Paul’s background.

And as we’re learning, Paul is a weird dude.

Wonkette:

Anti-statist Senate candidatista Rand Paul didn’t actually finish college because he did well on his MCAT and got into Duke Medical School, which is actually sort of “bad-ass.” Now, according to Gentlemen’s Quarterly, it turns out “Randy” Paul was part of a SECRET SOCIETY at Baylor made mostly of LIBRULS who smoked POT and did PRANKS and put out a SATIRICAL NEWSPAPER criticizing the university administration. Nowadays, that sort of thing would segue you into a high-paying management-professional job at your Wonkette, but back then it turned you into an ophthalmologist.

UPDATE: Greg Sargent

Alex Pareene at Gawker

Allah Pundit

Steve Benen

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Not Every Explosive Tape Contains Mel Gibson Melting Down

Andrew Breitbart at Big Government:

We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from “one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.

Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.

Ed Morrissey:

Actually, if Sherrod had a different ending for this story, it could have been a good tale of redemption. She almost grasps this by initially noting that poverty is the real issue, which should be the moral of the anecdote. Instead of having acted on this realization — and perhaps mindful of the audience — Sherrod then backtracks and says that it’s really an issue of race after all. It certainly was for Sherrod, who admits that “I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do.” Notice that the audience doesn’t exactly rise as one to scold Sherrod for her racism, but instead murmurs approvingly of using race to determine outcomes for government programs, which is of course the point that Andrew wanted to make.

Andrew has a second video, which is more relevant to the out-of-control expansion of the federal government than race. Sherrod in the same speech beseeches her audience to get work in the USDA and the federal government in general, because “when was the last time you heard about layoffs” for government workers? If Sherrod is any example, it’s been too long.

Doug Powers at Michelle Malkin’s:

We interrupt this “Tea Partiers are so incredibly racially biased” broadcast for the following update:

Days after the NAACP clashed with Tea Party members over allegations of racism, a video has surfaced showing an Agriculture Department official regaling an NAACP audience with a story about how she withheld help to a white farmer facing bankruptcy — video that now has forced the official to resign.

The video posted at BigGovernment that started it all is here if you haven’t seen/heard it yet.

Breitbart claims more video is on the way.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled “Tea Partiers are so incredibly racially biased” broadcast.

Tommy Christopher at Mediaite:

As it’s being presented, the clip is utterly indefensible, and the NAACP was quick to denounce Sherrod:

We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.

Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man.

The clip that’s being promoted is obviously cut from a larger context, and while this is often the dishonest refuge of radio shock jocks, in this case, it makes a real difference. Here’s what Sherrod told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

But Tuesday morning, Sherrod said what online viewers weren’t told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago — before she got the USDA job — when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with him and his wife.

“And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”

Sherrod said the farmer, Roger Spooner of Iron City, Ga., has since died.

It doesn’t seem that Ben Jealous or Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are aware that Sherrod wasn’t working at USDA when this occurred, or that she did, in fact, help the farmer in question. That changes everything about this story, including the reaction of the crowd. The entire point of the story is that her actions were indefensible.

If what Sherrod says is true, this is not a story about grudgingly admitting that even white folks need help, but rather, a powerful, redemptive cautionary tale against discrimination of any kind. Both the AJC and Mediaite are working to locate a full video or transcript of the event.

This incident is being posed as the right’s answer to the NAACP resolution against “racist elements” in the Tea Party. This story also comes at a time when the New Black Panther Party has been thrust into the spotlight by Fox News (with predictable results), and debate rages over an Arizona immigration law that many say encourages racial profiling.

This is precisely the danger of ideologically-driven “journalism.” It is one thing to have a point of view that informs your analysis of facts, but quite abother when that point of view causes you to alter them.

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

The 82-year-old wife of the white Georgia farmer who was supposedly discriminated against some quarter century ago by the black USDA official forced to resign this week — if the video released by Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government and re-run by Fox is to be believed — is now confirming that in fact Shirley Sherrod saved her and her husband’s farm from bankruptcy and is a “friend for life.”

CNN also spoke with the farmer’s wife and with Sherrod. Rachel Slajda has more.

Kevin Drum:

In a second video, BigGovernment.com says “Ms. Sherrod confirms every Tea Partier’s worst nightmare.” Although this is ostensibly a reference to a joke she made about no one ever getting fired from a government job, that’s not really every tea partier’s worst nightmare, is it? On the other hand, a vindictive black government bureaucrat deciding to screw you over because you’re white? Yeah, I’d say that qualifies.

This is just appallingly ugly, and the White House’s cowardly response is pretty ugly too. This is shaping up to be a long, gruesome summer, boys and girls.

Atrios:

One of the under reported stories of the 90s was just how much Starr’s merry band of lawyers totally fucked over relatively lowly White House staffers in the Great Clinton Cock Hunt. That was largely through subpoenas and lawyer bills, but lacking subpoena power the Right has now turned to a credulous news media and the power of selectively edited video to go after random government officials.

Apparently Glenn Beck and Andrew Breitbart rule Tom Vilsack’s world. Heckuva job.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs:

Andrew Breitbart: the heir to Joseph McCarthy, destroying people’s reputations and jobs based on deliberately distorted allegations, while the rest of the right wing blogs cheer. Disgusting. This is what has become of the right wing blogosphere — it’s now a debased tool that serves only to circulate partisan conspiracy theories and hit pieces.

UPDATE at 7/20/10 8:33:55 am:

Note that LGF reader “teh mantis” posted a comment last night at around 6:00 pm that made exactly these points about Breitbart’s deceptive video, in this post.

UPDATE at 7/20/10 9:00:01 am:

It’s disturbing that the USDA immediately caved in to cover their asses, and got Sherrod to resign without even hearing her side of the story; but also expected. That’s what government bureaucrats do. And they didn’t want the USDA to become the next ACORN.

But it’s even more disturbing that the NAACP also immediately caved in and denounced this woman, in a misguided attempt to be “fair.” The NAACP is supposed to defend people like this. They were played by a con man, and an innocent person paid the price.

UPDATE: Rachel Slajda at TPM

The Anchoress at First Things

Caleb Howe at Redstate

Digby

Tom Blumer at The Washington Examiner

David Frum at The Week

Erick Erickson at Redstate

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect

UPDATE #2: Dan Riehl at Human Events

Noah Millman at The American Scene

Scott Johnson at Powerline

Victorino Manus at The Weekly Standard

Andy Barr at Politico

UPDATE #3: More Johnson at Powerline

Jonathan Chait at TNR

Bill Scher and Conor Friedersdorf at Bloggingheads

UPDATE #4: Eric Alterman at The Nation

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Legal Insurrection

Ed Morrissey

UPDATE #5: Ben Dimiero and Eric Hananoki at Media Matters

UPDATE #6: Bridget Johnson at The Hill

UPDATE #7: Kate Pickert at Swampland at Time

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Rainy Days, Nicknames, And Arkansas Democratic Politics

This post will be updated later, obviously.

Politico:

Just four states go to the polls Tuesday, but together they cast a long shadow.

It’s the biggest single-day primary so far in 2010, and the outcomes in a handful of key races will provide the clearest indication yet of the depth and intensity of the anti-incumbent fever that is shaping the midterm elections.

The most closely watched battles will be in Pennsylvania, where Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter is in serious danger of losing the seat he has held for three decades to two-term Rep. Joe Sestak, and in Arkansas, where Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln is seeking to fend off Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

Kentucky’s GOP Senate race is expected to provide a measure of grassroots conservative populist strength — not to mention anti-establishment sentiment — with party favorite Secretary of State Trey Grayson playing the unexpected role of underdog in his matchup against tea party-backed physician Rand Paul.

The western Pennsylvania-based special election for the seat of the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha, meanwhile, will provide a crucial barometer of the popularity of President Barack Obama’s ambitious Democratic agenda.

And that’s not all. The primary-day agenda also includes a slate of notable House primaries in Pennsylvania, while in Arkansas, where three of the state’s four congressmen are not seeking reelection, voters will select nominees in three open-seat races.

When it comes to politics, the media always prefer a big meta- story that includes controversy, consequences, and implications. It’s so much easier on the headline writers. So for Tuesday’s primaries, they’d like to see any of the following stories: “Unions Assert Muscle.” Or “Incumbents Thrown Overboard.” Or perhaps “Tea Party Wins Big,” and even “Obama Rebuked.”

It’s more likely to be some murkier mix. But even before the results are in, some trends and lessons are clearly evident.

• “I can win” is not a good message. Neither is “He can win.”

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter did something unheard of for a politician. He told the truth. He admitted the obvious when he switched parties. He didn’t say the party had left him. He didn’t say it was a matter of principle. He said the polls suggested he was more likely to get reelected if he became a Democrat. So he did. You could hear the subsequent collective groan from the political-consultant community. Specter may as well have printed bumper stickers that said, “It’s not about you. It’s about me.”

And then Team Obama did the same thing by endorsing Specter with a “He can win” strategy and message. Threw principle out the window because they thought Specter had a better shot to beat the Republican nominee Pat Toomey.

But now it appears Specter may be upset in the primary by Rep. Joe Sestak. Oops. Good chance Specter will pay the price for making the race about his hopes rather than the voters’.

Greg Sargent:

A quick report from the field in Pennsylvania.

Voter turnout is light in virtually all parts of the state, particularly in Philadelphia, the office of the Secretary of State confirms, developments that are likely to favor Joe Sestak.

Arlen Specter needs high turnout because his supporters are thought to be less enthusiastic, while Sestak’s are more motivated. Specter particularly is counting on high turnout in Philly.

But Charlie Young, a spokesman for the Secretary of State, says turnout in the state, where the weather is bad today, is low.

“It’s relatively light, with some higher concentrations out in the areas that have the special election for Murtha’s seat,” he says, referring to the battle for Pennsylvania’s 12th district in the southwestern part of the state.

Philadelphia’s turnout, he says, is even lighter. “There are no lines anywhere,” he says.

This is born out by an official with a major union backing Specter, who says union hands doing get-out-the-vote work are reporting back that “turnout is abysmal.”

“People aren’t fired up about Specter,” the official conceded. “It’s low statewide, and then in Philly it especially sucks.”

Marc Ambinder:

Democrats and Republicans say their early canvassing returns in Pennsylvania’s 12th CD show a very tight race, and that makes Republicans more anxious than Democrats. Democrats say they’re hitting their targets.

And they’re still sending out memos pointing to Republicans who say that the race ought to be a GOP win — something the Democrats would NOT do if they weren’t seeing the numbers. Remember, both parties have sophisticated boiler room operations and have volunteers checking voter lists in sample precincts … and they feed this data into a computer and out pops various projections of turnout.

Across Pennsylvania, it’s raining. Turnout, according to Democrats, is “abysmal” in Philadelphia, which is difficult news for Sen. Arlen Specter. Right now, Mayor Michael Nutter and Governor Ed Rendell are doing the TV/Radio rounds to try and open the floodgates.

At this point, both sides believe that Blanche Lincoln won’t have enough votes to avoid a run-off in Arkansas. The AP seems to be doing a better job of finding Bill Halter voters to quote, but that could be a function of their activist disposition. Lincoln has historically had a good, if understated ground game. But labor has imported a massive one.

No one is seeing anything in Kentucky that would change minds about the expected outcome on the Republican side of the ledger.

Adam Sorensen at Swampland at Time:

As you probably know, Trey Grayson is running for Senate in Kentucky. What you might not know is that “Trey” isn’t actually his name. It’s just a handle given to the third in a line of Charles Merwin Graysons. Far from frowning on pseudonymous politicians, the Bluegrass State allows candidates to designate a nickname to run on the official ballot.

Our colleague Feifei Sun points me in the direction of the down-ballot candidate rolls and the fabulous treasure trove of monikers therein. The nicknames run the gamut from zoological — Dale “Frog” Ford for sheriff, Steve “Farm Dog” Farmer for magistrate, William “Turkey” Thomason for mayor and Shawn “Squid” Rye for county commissioner — to culinary — Jerry “Peanuts” Gaines for sheriff, TP “Puddin” Scott for magistrate, Eddie “Popcorn” Brown for constable and Jeff “Buttermilk” Mountjoy for jailer — and the outright bizarre — John “Hermanator” Kirk for sheriff, Ancel “Hard Rock” Smith for assemblyman and, perhaps tragically, Mike “Need Kidney” Sittason for surveyor.

UPDATE #2: Sestak wins. Allah Pundit

UPDATE #3: Jonathan Martin & Charles Mahtesian in Politico

Steve Benen

Jules Crittenden

Atrios

Marc Ambinder

Daniel Larison

Glen Bolger

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard

UPDATE #4: Nate Silver

Michael Barone at The Washington Examiner

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Gordon Gone, Dave In Downing, Nick’s New Friend

Andrew Sparrow at The Guardian:

8.05pm: You can watch a video of Brown’s resignation statement here.

8.06pm: David Cameron is in the car on his way to the Palace now. But he seems to have to got stuck in traffic. He’ll have to take it up with Boris.

8.11pm: David Cameron just arrived at Buckingham Palace with his wife Samantha. They’ve gone in to the building.

8.17pm: When Tony Blair became prime minister, he gave a speech announcing his victory as dawn broke over London. Cameron seems to have had equal luck with the elements. Apparently there is a rainbow over Buckingham Palace.

[…]

8.29pm: David Cameron is prime minister, Sky tells us. In the old days these things used to appear in the London Gazette. Nowdays it’s a newsflash on Sky.

Simon Lewis, Brown’s press spokesman, is leaving Downing Street, Sky reports. He will be replaced by a career civil servant from the Treasury.

[…]

8.47pm: Cameron says he believes Britain’s best days lie ahead and that he believes in public service. He will take difficult decisions, so that together “we can reach better times ahead”.

He wants to restore trust in politics, and ensure that politicians are always the servants of the people, not their masters. But real change will only take place when people accept responsibility. He wants to try to build a more responsible society.

8.45pm: He says he and Nick Clegg are forming a joint government. They are both leaders who want to put aside party interest and work in the national interest.

8.44pm: Cameron is arriving in Downing Street, with his wife Samantha.

He says the Queen has asked him to form a government and he has accepted.

[…]

1.00am: That’s it. Britain has got its first coalition government for more than 60 years. And Nick Clegg will be sitting in cabinet alongside Liam Fox and William Hague. Will it work? Who knows. But it is a bold project, and it will be certainly be interesting. We’ll get our first good look at it tomorrow (rather, later today) when the Cameron cabinet is expected to meet for the first time. And we’ve also got a new (interim) Labour leader. And the Labour leadership contest will soon begin in earnest.

Clive Crook:

I was surprised and impressed that Brown did not have to be stretchered out of Number 10 under heavy sedation–that he was willing to sacrifice what was left of his career, his reputation beyond redemption, to keep Labour in power. I had thought him less principled than that.

An interesting question is whether a Lib-Lab pact might have been put together if only Brown had declared his intention to resign immediately last Friday. Once the Tories did so well in the popular vote, and the Lib Dems so poorly (relative to expectations) it was always going to be difficult for Clegg to get behind Brown as PM. The electorate would have been disgusted. But this “coalition of losers” issue would have been very much attenuated if Brown had put himself out of the picture at once. And, as I say, a Lib-Lab policy program is easy to draw up. Perhaps, privately, he told Clegg he would go. But if he was negotiating over the weekend to keep himself in office, that would have subtracted a lot from the deal, and made Clegg more receptive to Tory overtures.

Then again, a Lib-Lab alliance would still have been short of votes. And another awkward issue would have come swiftly to the fore: the gross over-representation at Westminster of an implacably Labour-supporting Scotland. In case you’d forgotten, Scotland has its own parliament, as well as having a big say in who rules down south. One of the wonderful ironies of British politics is that the Tories, who have the biggest interest in paring Scotland’s power in Westminster, are the ones most dedicated to the union. Expect this issue to assume large importance in the coming era of unstable coalition government.

Meanwhile, might have beens don’t count. A Lib-Con “coalition” it is–details to come. Just what the country needs as it contemplates a public-debt crisis and embarks on a draconian program of fiscal restraint.

Barry Legg at The Guardian:

Whatever sort of Prime Minister David Cameron makes, we already know one thing for sure: he must already be the world’s worst poker player. Never in British political history has a negotiator playing for such stakes so comprehensively thrown away his hand before the game even began. Purely because Cameron was desperate to get himself into Number 10, and thus shield himself, with the Downing Street patronage machine, from the entirely justified anger of his party for failing to win a majority against Gordon Brown last Thursday, he has given into more Lib Dem demands than even Labour were willing to stomach. From whipping Tory MPs through in support of a referendum on AV, the number and nature of cabinet places he’s going to give to the Liberals, to surrendering the bedrock of the Westminster system – by giving way on fixed parliaments – Cameron gains office but not power.

As is evident from even a cursory examination of the three parties’ positions, the Lib Dems and Labour are closer to one another in virtually every regard than either is to the Tory Party. Yet now we are to have a coalition government between us and the Liberals. And it’s a coalition the Lib Dems are delighted to be in, and why shouldn’t they be? From European policy to electoral reform Cameron has, even before the government begins, given away so much that the least Tory party on the constitution and the most pro-EU party is content to make him Prime Minister.

Given that Labour, in refusing to meet Lib Dem demands, explicitly cited excessive Liberal spending plans, it’s enormously depressing from a Tory point of view to consider what’s going to give way. Either, no serious effort is going to be made to address the deficit, or, in order to finance Lib Dem policy goals, Tory ambitions, most noticeably as regards defence, will have to bear the brunt of even beginning to try and make the sums add up. Now is not the time I fear to have shares in Aircraft Carriers.

Daniel Finkelstein at The Times:

Emerging from the cinema a few years back, having watched Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves, my friend remarked that he thought it the greatest film ever made. I looked sceptical. “Well,” he said. “Something has to be.”

So in the same spirit, let me write something I have always fancied writing without appearing ridiculous. And now I can. This is a defining moment in British political history. Something has to be.

Like Robert Peel’s decision to repeal the Corn Laws, and split the Conservative Party for a generation, or Stanley Baldwin’s gentle manoeuvring to install the first Labour Government in 1924 and thus dish the Liberals, David Cameron’s generous offer to the Liberal Democrats has changed British politics for ever. Whether it succeeds or not.

[…]

If the Conservatives had won a small majority, it isn’t hard to imagine them being swept out in five years’ time by an alliance — either explicit or implied — of Labour and Liberal Democrats. Something like that happened in 1997 and produced the Blair landslide. Now a combination of the new maths of the Commons and Cameron’s boldness has disrupted this.

And in doing so, changed politics for years. The Liberal Democrats have been picked up and put down in a different place, partly by Nick Clegg of course, but largely by a Cameron offer of partnership that they weren’t expecting. The anti-Conservative majority is, in an extraordinary political coup, no longer an anti-Conservative majority. Things are much more complicated now.

The second part of the opportunity relates to Cameron’s own party. Five years of work — admittedly not as consistent as it should have been — to rebrand the party did not change perceptions as much as the Cameron team hoped. But now this. Cameron has the potential to lift himself and the party above normal partisan politics. He can become a national leader, his party seen as broader, more generous, more capable of listening and of compromise.

The very fact of working with a coalition partner might force Conservatives to sound more moderate and less strident. And Cameron will be Prime Minister, leader of the Conservatives, of course, but more than that. And the Tories will be able to share the political price of the difficult decisions ahead with another political force. Cuts won’t be “Tory cuts”, the Chancellor might be working with Vince Cable, rather than being attacked by Vince Cable.

So Cameron’s extraordinary response to the election has brought him much as well as the keys to No 10. But he has made a huge gamble. Could this move split his party, not now but in the years to come? Might the Liberal Democrats prove not merely prickly partners, but impossible ones? Could the unfamiliar disputes and debates of coalition partners be perceived as weakness and chaos?

Unknown, unknowable. But this can be said with certainty. Politics has changed for ever.

Andrew Sullivan:

“I can’t believe how much they’ve offered us. The Tories have basically rubbed out their manifesto and inserted ours. We’ll have to cope for four or five years with our flesh creeping, but still,” – a left-leaning Lib-Dem member of parliament to Michael Crick.

We’ll find out soon enough. I should say I am not opposed to the referendum on AV or instant run-off voting. My concern is that Britain continues to have a one-member-one-constituency system, to ensure direct representation and avoid too much power going to party elites. Under AV, the Liberals would do much better – but Britain would also have a chance to retain strong, clear, one-party governments.

In some ways, too, this outcome allows Cameron to ditch the Tory right. I suspect there will be grumbling among the ranks, and that William Hague, the chief negotiator for Cameron, will once again be delegated to bring them on board.

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

The big news from Britain, according to Fox News, is that Queen Elizabeth herself has agreed to become prime minister:

Queen Elizabeth accepted the invitation of Conservative Party leader David Cameron to become Britain’s new prime minister Tuesday night after Gordon Brown resigned following his failure to form a coalition government with another liberal party.That was awful nice of Cameron to extend the invitation.

Alex Massie:


HMQ: Good luck laddie, you’re going to need it…


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She Works Hard For The Money, So Hard For The Money

Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine:

Palin knew there were ways to solve her money problems, and then some. Planning quickly got under way for a book. And just weeks after the campaign ended, reality-show producer Mark Burnett called Palin personally and pitched her on starring in her own show. Then, in May 2009, she signed a $7 million book deal with HarperCollins. Two former Palin-campaign aides—Jason Recher and Doug McMarlin—were hired to plan a book tour with all the trappings of a national political campaign. But there was a hitch: With Alaska’s strict ethics rules, Palin worried that her day job would get in the way. In March, she petitioned the Alaska attorney general’s office, which responded with a lengthy list of conditions. “There was no way she could go on a book tour while being governor” is how one member of her Alaska staff put it.

On Friday morning, July 3, Palin called her cameraman to her house in Wasilla and asked him to be on hand to record a prepared speech. Around noon, in front of a throng of national reporters, she announced that she was stepping down as governor. To many, it seemed a mysterious move, defying the logic of a potential presidential candidate, and possibly reflecting some hidden scandal—but in fact the choice may have been as easy as balancing a checkbook.

Less than a year later, Sarah Palin is a singular national industry. She didn’t invent her new role out of whole cloth. Other politicians have cashed out, used the revolving door, doing well in business after doing good in public service. Entertainment figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, and even Ronald Reagan have worked the opposite angle, leveraging their celebrity to make their way in politics. And family dramas have been a staple of politics from the Kennedys—or the Tudors—on down. But no one else has rolled politics and entertainment into the same scintillating, infuriating, spectacularly lucrative package the way Palin has or marketed herself over multiple platforms with the sophistication and sheer ambitiousness that Palin has shown, all while maintaining a viable presence as a prospective presidential candidate in 2012.

The numbers are staggering. Over the past year, Palin has amassed a $12 million fortune and shows no sign of slowing down. Her memoir has so far sold more than 2.2 million copies, and Palin is planning a second book with HarperCollins. This January, she signed a three-year contributor deal with Fox News worth $1 million a year, according to people familiar with the deal. In March, Palin and Burnett sold her cable show to TLC for a reported $1 million per episode, of which Palin is said to take in about $250,000 for each of the eight installments.

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo:

But what’s more intriguing than that raw number is the underlying dynamic here: the mutual business relationship between Palin and the East Coast elites whom she rails against with populist invective and who scorn her as dumber than a moose. Money can soften any edge.

David Weigel:

Gabriel Sherman’s sprawling New York magazine cover story on “Palin, Inc.” is actually a fast and breezy read. It being an article about Sarah Palin, there’s no policy to slow it down. We get a brief explanation of how bitter Palin was serving as governor of Alaska while journalist Kaylene Johnson got rich (“I can’t believe that woman is making so much money off my name,” said Palin), especially after Palin realized that her gubernatorial duties would complicate her national book tour. So she quit, and we’re off.

Read it all, but take note of these points.

– According to Sherman, Palin writes her own Facebook posts. That shouldn’t be news, but Palin hired a ghostwriter to finish “Going Rogue”– and some of her early posts, festooned with footnotes, don’t sound like her. According to Sherman, said ghostwriter considered suing over an article by Max Blumenthal that made hay of her collaboration with conservative reporter Robert Stacy McCain.

– Discovery Communications bought Palin’s TV show as the “centerpiece of a strategy that TLC executives see as positioning the network as the anti-Bravo, whose shows like Top Chef, the Real Housewives franchise, and America’s Next Top Model are programmed to a liberal urban audience.” Bodes poorly for boycotters.

Robert Stacy McCain:

A friend wonders why I said nothing about this part of Sherman’s story:

The only real blip concerned her ghostwriter, Lynn Vincent, a writer for the Evangelical World magazine, whom Palin chose from a short list of candidates presented to her by HarperCollins. After news of Vincent’s selection leaked, critics seized on a January 2009 pro-life piece she had written for World titled “Black Genocide” — as well as her association with the co-writer of her 2006 book Donkey Cons, former Washington Times writer Robert Stacy McCain (no relation), who had a history of racially charged statements and associations — to claim that Vincent was racist. Vincent, who had collaborated on a New York Times best seller about racial reconciliation, told me that she was deeply hurt by the racism allegation and considered suing the Daily Beast for a piece by writer Max Blumenthal headlined “Palin’s Noxious Ghostwriter.” But when the media shifted its focus to Palin’s next adventure, Vincent dropped the lawsuit idea.

The problem with suing for libel (and as a journalist, I thank God for this) is that under the Sullivan precedent, it’s almost impossible for a “public figure” to win a libel suit. Like politicians and entertainers, an author is more or less automatically a public figure, thus requiring proof of actual malice. And as opposed to, say, a false accusation of criminal behavior, the charge of “racism” is damnably hard to disprove, which is why it is slung around so frequently in political discourse.

So there was no percentage in Lynn suing the Daily Beast, besides which going to court over what was clearly a third-hand guilt-by-association smear wouldn’t help Palin — and helping Palin was what Lynn was hired to do, after all.

And shame on those people who keep spreading malicious rumors that Max Blumenthal was arrested in a raid on a so-called “ladyboy” brothel in Phuket!

Josh Green at The Atlantic:

The article is chock full of Palin porn: her speaking fee ($100,000 a pop, plus diva treatment); her preferred mode of travel (Lear jet); her next headache (Levi Johnston is “writing” a book about her); and, my favorite detail, her three-level, 6000-square-foot, no doubt tastefully decorated new home that was already under construction when Gabe paid a visit. Among other things, the article makes clear that the desire for money, not an imminent scandal, led Palin to quit her governorship.

This all has significant political implications that tend to be downplayed or ignored when discussing Sarah Palin. Toward the end of the piece, Gabe goes right to the heart of the matter:

Why Palin would want to trade the presidency [of right-wing America]–and the salary–for a candidacy that faces possibly insurmountable political hurdles is a question to ponder.
Why indeed? Palin’s prospects in the Republican Party are a good deal dimmer than her star wattage suggests. She’s tallied middling performances in early straw polls and shows no inclination to embark on the grassroots work required of a presidential candidate. More to the point, this article makes clear that, were there any doubt, her preoccupying concern is “building her brand”–less in a political sense than a financial one. Palin may yet make a bid for the White House. But all evidence suggests that when the time comes to choose between earning money and running for president, Palin will choose money.

And she’s hardly alone. The other surprise figure to emerge from the 2008 race, with almost as bright a political future as Palin, was Mike Huckabee. But he, too, is earning serious coin on the book, TV, and lecture circuit, and signaling that he won’t run again. The candidate running the hardest for the White House, Mitt Romney, is also the only one who has secured a fortune. There seems to be developing an inverse correlation between the difficulty of running for president and the easy life that awaits those who fall just short. It’s never been harder to grab the brass ring; and it’s never been easier to quit trying.

Andrew Sullivan on Green:

The political parties are weaker than they once were. The elites cannot control grass-roots Internet-driven phenomena. Look at Obama. He seems a natural president now, but Washington dismissed his chances – as they are now dismissing Palin’s – right up to the Iowa caucuses. And because Palin is such a terrifying – truly terrifying – prospect for the US and the world, I think such complacency, rooted in cynicism about Palin’s mercenary nature, is far too reckless.

Look: what we have seen this past year is the collapse of the RNC as it once was and the emergence of a highly lucrative media-ideological-industrial complex. This complex has no interest in traditional journalistic vetting, skepticism, scrutiny of those in power, or asking the tough questions. It has no interest in governing a country. It has an interest in promoting personalities and ideologies and false images of a past America that both flatter and engage its audience. For most in this business, this is about money. Roger Ailes, who runs a news business, has been frank about what his fundamental criterion is for broadcasting: ratings not truth. Obviously all media has an eye on the bottom line – but in most news organizations, there is also an ethical editorial concern to get things right. I see no such inclination in Fox News or the hugely popular talkshow demagogues (Limbaugh, Levin, Beck et al.), which now effectively control the GOP. And when huge media organizations have no interest in any facts that cannot be deployed for a specific message, they are a political party in themselves.

Add Palin to the mix and you have a whole new machine in American politics – one with the capacity, as much as Obama’s, to upend the established order. Beltway types roll their eyes. But she’s not Obama, they say. She doesn’t know anything, polarizes too many people, has lied constantly and still may have dozens of skeletons in her unvetted closets.

To which the answer must be: where the fuck have you been this past year?

It doesn’t matter whether she’s uneducated, unprincipled, unaware and unscrupulous. The more she’s proven incapable of the presidency, the more her supporters believe she is destined for it. It’s a brilliant little gig she’s devised. She may be ignorant, but she is not stupid. She has the smarts of all accomplished pathological liars and phonies. And this time, she will not even bother to go on any television outlets other than Fox News. She will be the first presidential nominee never to have had a press conference. She will give statements by Facebook. She will speak directly to the cocoon that is, at least, twenty percent of Americans. The press, already a rank failure in exposing her fraudulence, will be so starstruck by the chance to make money that we will never have a Couric-style interview again. it will be Oprah all the time. Because Palin lives in an imaginary world, the entire media world will be required to echo it or be shut out.

Green responds to Sullivan:

Well, I think Andrew is profoundly wrong and borderline nuts on this subject–and if he’s right, and Palin launches a bid for the White House, his nightmare of a Palin presidency is unlikely to be realized. It’s not impossible. Just unlikely. The point of my original post, riffing off this New York magazine piece on Palin’s newfound wealth, was that Palin seems more interested in money than politics. The conventional wisdom in Washington–which Andrew has backward–is that Palin will probably run, though this is less a matter of conviction than a vague sense that she craves the spotlight and won’t pass it up. My mildly contrarian suggestion was that avarice might lead her instead to become a Glenn Beck-like political-entertainment figure, which would furnish her with a platform, a lifestyle, and a way of avoiding the hard work of running for president (a lot tougher than serving a half term as governor).

My point was limited to Palin’s own motivations and desires. But Andrew’s rant doesn’t address that–I don’t think his worldview allows for the possibility that she might not run. He concerns himself instead with lots of black-helicopter sounding stuff about cynical elites and the “media-ideological-industrial complex” and basically stops just short of accusing Palin of fluoridating the water. But after all that, what Andrew has described is not a force powerful enough to elect a president. He’s described (pretty accurately, I might add) elite Washington’s view of the Fox News viewership and then imbued it with a lot more importance than it merits. “Add Palin to the mix,” he writes, “and you have a whole new machine in American politics–one with the capacity, as much as Obama’s, to upend the established order.”

No, you don’t. As Andrew himself points out, the established order of the GOP has already been upended–you wouldn’t have a goofball like Michael Steele as your party chairman if the grownups were still in charge!

DiA at The Economist:

Mr Green is right; she is building a brand. But just so she can be a television hostess? How long would that brand shine if she rebuffed those who will (with very real passion) beg her to run? Yes, she’s uniquely successful at infuriating or terrifying liberals—but that’s because they think that she might still just become president. How does that 2013 contract look when she’s refused to enter the fight? This is hunch-blogging at its most speculative, I confess, but I think she’s in. So over to you. I don’t see someone who’s preparing for a book-writing and lecture-circuit career. What do you see in the estimable Sarah Palin?

Razib Khan at Secular Right:

The profile reduces my probability that Palin will make a serious run (as opposed to a pro forma one) for the highest office in 2012.* It also leaves me impressed by how quickly and efficiently she’s leveraged her celebrity and gone from moderately upper middle class** in income (and in serious debt due to legal bills after the 2008 campaign) to wealthy. Some Republicans are apparently worried about her becoming the “face of the party,” something that crops up now and then in the media, but it doesn’t seem like they really have to worry that much unless the party has no real substance and is rooted only in style and the need to get elected. As for Sarah Palin, whatever you think of her politics or personality, she’s offering a concrete product distributed through the private sector. The article mentions that her book was a major reason that Random House generated a profit last year! Whatever criticisms one might lodge, she’s not getting rich by being a rent-seeker, as so many of our public and private sector elites have become. In fact the article points to a whole industry of liberal critique which has emerged around her, so she’s not even capturing all the wealth that she’s responsible for (spillover effects).

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The Mess That Is Massa

John Bresnahan at Politico:

He’s spent only 431 days in Congress, has never seen any of his bills pass out of subcommittee and was best known for voting against major pieces of legislation because they weren’t liberal enough for him — at least until he was accused of sexually harassing a male staffer.

Meet Eric Massa, conservative media hero.

The New York Democrat’s weekend radio rant against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has his star rising on the right even as he resigns from Congress under an ethical cloud.

Rush Limbaugh vowed to make a “national story” out of Massa’s claims that Democrats orchestrated his downfall because he voted no on health care reform — adding that Massa is “going to have so much support from people.”

Matt Drudge led his site for much of the day Monday with all-caps links to POLITICO’s coverage of Massa’s statements: “RAHM ‘WOULD SELL HIS OWN MOTHER,’ ‘SON OF THE DEVIL’S SPAWN.’”

And Glenn Beck took to Twitter to announce that he’d have Massa on his show for “the full hour” Tuesday because “all Americans need to hear him.”

Michelle Malkin:

Don’t trust Democrat Rep. Eric Massa any further than you can throw him.

He’s been a progressive zealot and political opportunist his entire career. He’s claimed conspiracy before, is intimately bonded with the nutroots, and climbed the political ladder with backing from the odious, anti-war-hoaxer-embracing Gen. Wesley Clark. What Massa dismissively calls his “salty old sailor” talk should raise bright red flags about possible longstanding predatory behavior.

Creep factor: 10.

Look, I’m as happy as anyone to see Rahmbo and the Chicago Way slammed so openly by another Democrat. Naked shower fights? Blue-on-blue catfights?

Yep, it confirms everything I’ve been writing about the Obama Culture of Corruption the last two years.

But.

He’s a sick, desperate pol looking to save his hide and distract from his smelly ethics problems and personal problems. This is not a hero, not a bona fide champion of reform and integrity in government. He’s the jerk who gave the figurative middle finger to his own constituents as he proclaimed last year that he would ram single-payer down their throats no matter what they thought

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:

Maybe the facts will come to his rescue, but I just figured I’d get on the record about Eric Massa. I think he’s full of it. I don’t believe his story and I don’t believe that the ethics committee was going to railroad him for one “salty” comment at a wedding. I am sure that Rahm leaned on Massa, even in the shower. I’m sure that the White House has leaned on lots of people. But I don’t think Massa’s entirely self-serving story passes the smell test. So until I see some corroboration of his version, I’m not buying it.

Rich Lowry at The Corner

John McCormack at The Weekly Standard:

Reliable sources on Capitol Hill say the House ethics report on Eric Massa will be damning. Obamacare opponents, like Glenn Beck, might want to think twice before indulging Massa and letting this Democratic creep become the posterboy of Obamacare opposition.

[…]

So Massa’s staffer brought the issue to the attention of Steny Hoyer weeks ago, and the story leaked at a time when it didn’t help the Democrats’ health care vote one way or the other to have him in office. And Massa has changed his story–at first he said he was retiring because of health reasons, and then he resigned because he said Rahm Emanuel was out to get him. If the ethics charges are trumped up, why didn’t Massa stay in the House another month to vote against health care?

Perhaps the answer is that Massa thought he might scuttle the House ethics investigation if he resigned. Traditionally, when a member resigns, the House Ethics Committee loses jurisdiction over that member. But Massa’s case involves another congressional staffer, so the ethics committee will likely produce a report anyway, just as it did in Mark Foley’s scandal with congressional pages.

The full story should come out eventually. And when it does, some conservatives may regret embracing Eric Massa.

Moe Lane at Redstate:

Somebody is lying, here.  Either Massa, or Hoyer: and if it’s Hoyer, it doesn’t matter whether Massa was or was not sexually harassing his staff.  The House Majority Leader does not get to abuse the public trust by lying about what he did in a particular investigation.  It’s not so much this specific case as it is what happens in less public ones.  There’s a word for having two standards of behavior, based on how much media coverage one is expecting: it’s called ‘hypocrisy.’

Fortunately, this is easy to check: all Steny Hoyer has to do is release the documentation showing that he followed House procedures with regard to ethics investigations.  Presumably, that includes the kind of notification that he claims and Massa denies, and will stop this potentially disquieting development cold.  In fact, I’m kind of surprised that it’s not available yet; which is something that can be fixed, later…

By the way: did you know that Hoyer has a GOP challenger this year?  Charles LollarWe’ve talked: good guy, solid fiscal conservative, and if I lived just a little bit east of where I live now I’d be voting for him in both the primary and the general election.

UPDATE: Dana Milbank in WaPo

Joshua Green at The Atlantic

Tom Schaller

Chris Good at The Atlantic

Bill Scher and Matt Lewis in Bloggingheads

UPDATE #2: David Kurtz at TPM

Ed Morrissey

Wonkette

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Throwing The Car Into Reverse

Matthew Yglesias:

Big win for the Cheney family:

President Obama’s advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

I’m not going to attempt to defend this. I’ll merely note that it’s hard enough to have any kind of civil liberties in this country when the opposition party is pushing for them. When what you have is an opposition that’s pressuring incumbent officials to seize more power for themselves the incentive structure is nuts and the constitution is going to be shredded.

Andy McCarthy at The Corner:

The real agenda here is to close Gitmo. That’s the ball to keep your eye on. The Post is trying to soften the opposition to shuttering the detention camp by portraying beleaguered, reasonable Obama as making a great compromise that will exasperate the Left. The idea is to strengthen Sen. Lindsey Graham’s hand in seeking reciprocal compromise from our side.

This, however, is a matter of national security, not horse-trading over a highway bill. You don’t agree to do a stupid thing that endangers the country just because your opposition has magnanimously come off its insistence that you do two stupid things that endanger the country.

If a deal to grant military commissions in exchange for closing Gitmo happens, it is a major win for the Obama Left and an enormous loss for public safety.

Adam Serwer at Tapped:

It isn’t all the president’s fault. The Democrats have assumed their usual fetal position on national security at a time when the president polls high on the issue, Pakistan is hemming up high-level members of the Taliban and the front pages are filled with news of high level terrorist leaders being vaporized by drone strikes. The last administration presided over the worst terror attack on American soil, led the country into an unnecessary war, and disgraced the country with torture. Still the Democrats cower in fear. If they won’t stand up for the rule of law now, when the facts are on their side, imagine how they’d react if, G-d forbid, there were to be another terrorist attack. If the GOP wanted to dust off the Sedition Act, Democrats would politely ask whether they were in the mood for the 1798 version or the 1918 version.

Obama said that the choice between our security and our ideals is a false choice. He was right. The real choice was always between our ideals and our politics, and if the above story is true, then Obama will have made the obvious, if profoundly disappointing, choice.

Scott Johnson at Powerline:

The Washington Post reports that President Obama’s advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed et al. be prosecuted in a military tribunal rather than federal court in New York City. But this outcome would be accompanied by some kind of agreement with Lindsey Graham to help the administration secure congressional funding and legal authority to close Gitmo in favor of a facility within the United States.

I hesitate to criticize the outcome sight unseen, but Graham is apparently the key actor in negotiating an agreement with the Obama administration on closing the Guantanamo detention facility. I understood Graham to say as much in a recent interview with Greta Van Susteren on her Fox News show in which he asserted the desirability of closing Gitmo.

Closing Gitmo and bringing the detainees to the United States is a bad idea in itself. Closing Gitmo would also be an unacceptable price to pay for saving Barack Obama and Eric Holder from the folly of their unworkable plan to bring KSM to the United States and cloak them in the mantle of the United States Constitution.

Max Boot at Commentary:

Graham’s grand bargain seems like a good one to me. He recognizes that the key issue is not the future of Gitmo — one holding facility — but the overall method by which detainees will be processed, held, and if necessary, tried. We need binding rules, and the best way to achieve them is through bipartisan consensus — assuming the Supreme Court would go along. If I had my druthers, I would suggest the deal include special National Security Courts within the federal judicial system, rather than military commissions, to try detainees, but that’s a small matter compared to the importance of denying high-level terrorist suspects the normal protections of the criminal-justice system.

Spencer Ackerman:

It’s that kind of evening and I’m in that kind of mood, so I’m going to ask just how much water Graham actually carried. This bill was never going to pass, although, in fairness, it could have been (or might still be!) politically troublesome as long as the Democrats choose to remain supine on security issues. So now Graham visibly goes to bat for the administration’s right to try detainees in the federal courts — yes, this is how far we’ve sunk — and so Rahm gets to use that in internal discussions with, like, Eric Holder and David Axelrod for why all roads to closing Guantanamo Bay go through the stand-up G Lindsey Graham. You can almost feel that military commission for KSM coming closer… closer… closer…

You don’t think McCain and Lieberman teed up Graham for this, do you? Naahhhhh…. (Like I said, it’s that kind of night.)

David Kurtz at TPM:

Looks like being Obama’s attorney general requires putting your manhood in a blind trust.

Let me just make one point on the politics of this decision, since politics is clearly what’s driving it. If the White House retreats from a civilian trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the others, not only is it terribly weak optics in the short run, but it cements in the public mind for the long term all the worst fears Republicans have not just been able to sow, but will continue to sow.

Think of the worst possible scenario for what would have happened to New York City, no matter how remote, then insert that into a campaign ad. There’s no way to disprove what might have been. Human nature will be to focus on the bullet that we supposedly dodged. Whereas if you actually suck it up and proceed with the trial, it takes all the wind of out that sail. People still go to work, buildings don’t fall down, the ground doesn’t open up and swallow Manhattan. Democrats show they’re strong and resolute and the issue goes away.

Ann Althouse:

But enough about metaphors. Look at what David “The Horror” Kurtz is really saying: Obama should not do what he thinks is right but what will be most effective at avoiding damaging criticism. Ah, but what about people like me, DTHK, who will criticize him for doing things mainly to dodge criticism? Then maybe Obama can get back to just doing what he thinks is right — not because it’s right, mind you, but because it’s the best way to dodge criticism. That would be cool or ridiculous or something.

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#teamdemonsheep

David Kurtz at TPM:

Best TV Campaign Ad EVAH!

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

It’s funny, but in truth it’s nowhere close. The best ad ever was in an election for property value assessor in Floyd County, Kentucky. I wrote about it in TNR in 2002. I couldn’t find the video on the web. (If anybody can, please email it to me.) You’ll have to rely on my description, which can’t do justice to the video but does provide a sense of how dada it is:

If you’re one of the civic delinquents who hasn’t followed this race, here’s what happened: The incumbent, Connie Hancock, aired an attack ad maintaining that her opponent has been “arrested or charged fifty-six times for violating the law,” including DUI, criminal trespassing, felony assault, and terroristic threatening. “In a drunken brawl,” the ad further charges, he “bit a man’s ear completely off.” As if this charge needs more dramatization, it is followed by a high-pitched scream–the sound, we presume, of a man whose ear has just been bitten completely off.

How do you respond to a volley like this? Hancock’s adversary, David May, begins his rejoinder by downplaying the charges. “Sure, when I was young”–May is now 27–“I did a few things I’d like to think I’d handle different. My opponent said I was arrested for DUI. That’s completely untrue,” he tells the camera. When you’ve been accused of committing 56 criminal acts, including cannibalism, it might seem like a fairly damning admission to deny only one (relatively innocuous) charge. But a cardinal rule of politics holds that you should never stay on the defensive. So May immediately segues into a brutal counter-offensive. “Why would Connie Hancock falsely attack me?” he asks. “She suspected this tape”–and here May holds up a videotape–“would surface. It’s X-rated and shows just how little she values her reputation and wedding vows.” At this point the ad cuts to a bedroom scene featuring a smiling, half- naked woman, strongly resembling Hancock, sitting on a bed as a man who may or may not be her husband approaches. Abruptly the video ends, and we are left with an image of May smiling and waving.

The Daily Caller:

Political ads normally aren’t particularly captivating television, let alone appealing viral videos. But in the YouTube era, a handful of candidates have managed to captivate the public’s imagination with their outlandish (and  sometimes borderline slanderous) claims about the bizarre sex practices of their rivals, the [expletive deleted] state of local politics, and, most recently in New Orleans, with a certain coroner’s propensity for selling body parts.

A.C. Thompson at ProPublica:

Here at ProPublica, we’ve had several encounters with Orleans Parish Coroner Dr. Frank Minyard, whose office investigates suspicious deaths for the city of New Orleans.

Most recently, I went around and around with the coroner about the autopsy of a man named Matthew McDonald [2]. Police shot McDonald to death in 2005 [2] shortly after Hurricane Katrina tore through Louisiana. I needed the report for a story I was working on [3] with journalists at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS “Frontline.”

First, one of Minyard’s deputies told me the document existed but I couldn’t have it, because it was part of a homicide case. Then the story changed: Minyard and his attorney told my colleagues at the paper that the coroner had lost the autopsy report. That seemed a bit odd.

Sheri Fink, who reported on the events at Memorial Medical Center [4] during Katrina, has also documented some of the more interesting decisions [5] made by the doctor.

[…]

The spot portraying Minyard as a Frankensteinian crazy was paid for by Dwight McKenna, M.D., a convicted tax evader who’s running against Minyard. It’s airing on local TV.

The video highlights a mini-scandal from the 1990s, when Minyard was sued for allegedly removing bone pieces and corneas from the deceased and passing them onto transplant centers without permission. “It’s contemptible,” McKenna said in an interview.

Of course, some people are going to find the ad contemptible, but McKenna defends it. “The ad is, we believe, factual,” he said. “It’s fair play. It’s done in a humorous way.”

McKenna didn’t want to talk about his 1992 conviction on federal tax charges for underreporting his income by $367,000. He served nine months in prison.

Chris Good at The Atlantic:

Web ads like this one are generally created solely for the purpose of getting attention–i.e. free publicity–from bloggers. There’s no ad buy associated with them, and they only work as advertisements when bloggers embed them. Thus, we try not to grant coverage to web ads.  But this one is so weird that I’m going to concede it worked. You got us, Carly for California. Good job.

It’s also a strategically significant: Fiorina entered the gubernatorial race as a “mainstream” candidate with GOP-establishment bona fides, having worked on the McCain campaign in 2008, facing conservatives in the primary. And she’s not the only Republican candidate to find herself in that situation in 2010, as the conservative movement has surged since the 2010 races really began. Her strategy: attack primary opponent Tom Campbell’s fiscal-conservative credentials, dubbing him an FCINO (fiscal conservative in name only). We’ll see if other candidates do the same.

Michael Scherer at Swampland at Time:

The best way to view California Senate Candidate Carly Fiorina’s awesomely bizarre new primary campaign ad–which includes shots of an alien robot sheep, or something–is by pressing play on your cassette tape of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon just as you click play on YouTube.

I think it’s destined to be remembered as a classic. It combines what sounds like the soundtrack to “The Exorcist,” a narrator who sounds like he’s imitating Morgan Freeman with the stratospheric dudgeon of Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comments,” and then the grand finale: evil, menacing, vaguely cybernetic sheep with glowing red eyes. Two minutes and thirty seconds into the video, you will be screaming, “What the hell is that?!?” and reaching for any available firearms.

Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:

This thing’s going viral, but not necessarily in a way that will help Carly Fiorina’s message. It just oozes that special brand of ludicrous hilarity that the Internet loves, and the Internet will give the demon sheep many, many lives. And, you will now be able to say, “I knew the demon sheep when.”

If I thought the creation of the demon sheep was an intentional Internet hit, I’d be impressed, but I’m not sure it was. Nor am I sure that the true inanity required to produce viral hits will ever be the kind of thing that serves political campaigns well, but here’s to the Fiorina campaign for creating something we’ll all remember.

Jason Linkins at The Huffington Post:

HOLY CRAP, AMERICA. Mere days after a teensy little Orleans Parish Coroner’s election offered the opening salvo in the Attack Ad Wars of Campaign 2010, we have this ad from Carly Fiorina, running for the Senate in California that is a straight-up game-changing, shock-and-awe slice of pure, mountain-grown BONKERS.

In this THREE-AND-A-HALF MINUTE LONG video, the Fiorina campaign goes after former California Congressman Tom Campbell, who leads the Republican field in the primary race to unseat incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer. The Fiorina campaign’s main point is that Campbell is a “Fiscal Conservative In Name Only.” It’s a fairly standard issue claim — or at least it would be, if the video that presented the argument didn’t play like Terry Gilliam and Ingmar Bergman collaborated on a campaign-year sequel to “The Wicker Man”.

The epic ad begins with a voice-over narrator intoning, “Purity…piety…” against the backdrop of galloping sheep. Then, Monty Python animation kicks in, elevating one sheep on a giant column into the ionosphere. Then: THUNDER! LIGHTNING! Darkening skies! A new voice-over narrator — the cheapest Morgan Freeman imitator money could buy — starts impugning Campbell, amid jump cuts of Campbell and sheep and pigs and graphs and quotes, while Satan’s opera company chants dark recitatives in the background.

“And sadly, we’re just getting started…” Cheap Morgan Freeman says. And sadly, THEY ARE! JUST! GETTING STARTED! More accusations and quotes and scary question marks, until it achieves its apotheosis: DEMON-EYED SHEEP!

By the way: this whole metaphor of Campbell pretending to be a heroic cutter of budgets and limiter of government DOES NOT REALLY WORK when you refer to him as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Surely, the brave fiscal conservatives are the more vulpine breed! Ideally, the Fiorina campaign would want to contend that Campbell is a SHEEP in WOLVES’ clothing. Right? Take off his disguise and he’s just another member of the herd? I guess it’s hard to work in the DEMON-EYED SHEEP image, in that case.

Also, when the ad gets around to mentioning that Fiorina is the better choice, maybe its makers should have killed the Satan Opera for a more optimistic piece of music?

Fiorina campaign: you should totally call me for ideas!

Wonkette:

OH MY GOD “Carlyfornia” Senate candidate Carly Fiorina has struck again on the Internet and the results are monstrous. It’s best at the beginning and end, especially the end, picking up steam at exactly 2:26. “2:26″ is the absolute most terrifying second of video on YouTube since the most recently uploaded clip of Roger Ailes.

UPDATE: Michael Scherer in Time

Bill Scher at Matt Lewis at Bloggingheads

UPDATE #2: David Frum at FrumForum

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