January 19, 2006

So, the central idea of Bush's SOTU is, supposedly, going to be medical savings accounts which are probably about the worst idea ever. I don't understand why we're supposed to throw a bunch of money in the bank that we can only use if we can get sick. Why don't we just make all health care expenditures tax deductible?

But that isn't the worst problem with medical savings accounts. Basically they encourage young and healthy people to not buy health insurance, which makes the pool of insurance buyers on average older and sicker and more expensive, further driving up insurance rates, further driving healthy people out, etc... And good luck getting any insurance after you've gottten a couple pre-existing conditions (Translation: gotten sick once or twice) under your belt, unless you can get it through your employer.

Worst. Ideas. Ever.
Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs
Kos has started. I just got a press release from Salazar who is voting no, too.

Democrats Advertised No:

Baucus (MT)
Durbin (IL)
Harkin (IA)
Kennedy (MA)
Leahy (VT)
Mikulski (MD)
Salazar (CO)

Advertised Yes:
Nelson (NE)
Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs

Cheshire, Massachusetts is getting a new electronic voting machine much to the chagrin of local leaders. Last week, the Selectmen said that they would not buy a machine, which the state has mandated through the federal Help American Vote Act (HAVA).

The state has decided that it will provide the new machine, and the town will have to use it. The machine will come with programming for state and federal elections, but not local elections. Programming for local elections will cost the town $1,000 each election.

The town has not hesitated in expressing its anger over the action of the state. Selectman Paul F. Astorino said, "We don't want it!"

The action is part of Secretary of State William F. Galvin's plan to have the state comply with HAVA. This new machine, and others like it arriving in surrounding small towns, will replace paper ballots and provide better voting access to the handicap.

Selectwoman Carol A. Francesconi said, "I understand their philosophy on this, but they should have polled the communities before they put any plans in place."

Judith L. St. Croix, the president of the Massachusetts Town Clerk Associations, said that towns have no choice but to comply with the state and use the new machines.

—Chris Broadfoot

Categories: Blogs
The guardians of our elite discourse.

MATTHEWS (1/18/06): Have you gone to see it yet? I’ve seen everything else but that. I just—
IMUS: No, I haven’t seen it. Why would I want to see that?

MATTHEWS: I don’t know. No opinion on that. I haven’t seen it either, so—

IMUS: So they were—it was out when I was in New Mexico and—it doesn’t resonate with real cowboys who I know.


IMUS: But then, maybe there’s stuff going on on the ranch that I don’t know about. Not on my ranch, but you know—

MATTHEWS: Well, the wonderful Michael Savage, who’s on 570 in DC, who shares a station with you at least, he calls it [laughter]—what’s he call it?—he calls it Bare-back Mount-ing. That’s his name for the movie.

IMUS: Of course, Bernard calls it Fudgepack Mountain...

Thank God Matthews and Imus are credentialled members of the media. Thank God for the wonderful Michael Savage.
Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs
Interesting analysis from Leon H. at Red State (believe it or not):

The probability: I don't think Alito has 60 votes at this point. My estimate before the holiday break was right at 60, and I was including Baucus in that total. Remember that Baucus was one of the earliest defectors on Roberts, even defying Reid's order to keep silent until after the caucus meeting. At this point, I can't think of 5 Democrats who would be more likely than Baucus to vote for Alito (and if anyone can, I'd love to hear the list), and accordingly, I'd say Alito's chances of breaking 60 votes are pretty slim at this point. It's possible that Baucus is merely feeling his oats due to the various troubles Conrad Burns is facing at the moment, but apart from some consideration that I'm not currently aware of, Baucus's signal is a pretty good indicator that the Democrats will almost completely hold ranks over Alito (with the exception of Nelson, and perhaps one or two others.) Right now, I put the odds of Alito breaking 60 votes at around 33%.

Up in the air: Do the Democrats have 40 votes against cloture, so that invoking a filibuster would even make tactical sense? This is a much harder question. Apart from Nelson, I've not heard public statements from any of the other "Gangsters" on the Democrat side of the aisle. Assume that the Republicans start with 54 votes (Chafee is an issue that I will discuss below), plus one for Nelson. Probably Mark Pryor would also vote for cloture, if not for confirmation. In order to invoke cloture, then, we would have to believe that Byrd, Salazar, Inouye and Liebermann will all simultaneously keep their word to the rest of the gang. Personally, I am not very optimistic about such a scenario.

One thing you can be sure of, however, is that Harry Reid does know exactly who is behind him and who is not. And surely, after the caucus meeting today, he's got a pretty accurate count of whether he can hold a filibuster together and force the Constitutional Option or not. Based on that calculation, the situation presents Reid with a pair of interesting strategical dilemmas.

If he knows that he does not have enough votes to survive a cloture vote, does he call for a filibuster anyway? In so doing, he can at the very least put pressure on Lincoln Chafee, who is facing a very uphill battle in Rhode Island. Chafee is balancing on such a thin wire right now that a vote either way might very well doom his chances in the general election - a vote FOR cloture would be damaging with Rhode Island's overwhelmingly Democrat general election voters. If he votes no, that may well be the final straw that provokes GOP primary voters to kick him to the curb. For Reid, I think his choice is actually made easier if he knows he doesn't have the votes to survive a cloture vote: by calling for a filibuster anyway, he doesn't risk losing the filibuster as a future tool in the judicial battles, and he likely insures a gained seat for his party in 2006.

If Reid knows that his filibuster would survive a cloture vote, his choice becomes much more difficult. If he presses a filibuster anyway, he buys at least a week of delay in the process - and he may be able to keep Alito off the court for the entire term. Also, forcing a vote on the Constitutional Option would provide great fodder for Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey in October television ads. However, this would come at a very steep price - the certain knowledge that the filibuster would be gone forever. Would Reid be willing to face a world without judicial filibuster in which Bush nominated Emilio Garza to replace Justice Stevens? My guess is that he would not. However, if he feels that he can win back control of the Senate entirely in 2006, he may chance it anyway, banking on the continued health and survival of the four liberal Justices currently on the court - at least for another 10 months.

Right now, the safest tactic for Reid to pursue is to call for a filibuster, but to give consent to the 7 Democrat "gangsters" to vote for cloture (or at least, enough of them to push the vote over 60). In so doing, he can significantly tilt the playing field in at least one critical race in '06, basically for free. However, the bolder move would be to exercise all the discipline that he can, and force the GOP to exercise the Constitutional option. And, if he feels that the majority can be regained in '06, this is actually the right tactical decision.

It seems to me that at least two things are relatively certain: (1) Alito will be confirmed, and (2) If Reid plays his cards right, he can make the GOP pay for it. Either way, I can't see how a filibuster doesn't make tactial sense for the Democrats at this point, given the current political landscape. And I don't see a way to avoid some damage from the fallout.

This is why I was opposed to "The Deal" at the time of its inception, and remain opposed to it to this day. First, it seems clear to me that "The Deal" played a major role in Harriet being foisted upon us in the first place. Now, it has enabled the Democrats to play this out on television, during election season, when we are in a weaker position than we were spring/summer '05. "The Deal" amounted to a failure to press the advantage when we had it, which inevitably results in a loss.

It seems now, however, that the loss will not be to the judiciary, but to the Senate GOP itself.

(Props to Adam B for bringing this to our attention.)

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
As Kevin rightly points out, this first stage of the Bush/Delay Medicare Drug Scam is just the warmup for round two.

Once total spending on drugs hits $2250, the scam plan stops paying for drugs until total spending hits $5100. Anger and chaos to follow...
Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs
(Bumped -- kos)

Dems voting "No"

Baucus (MT)
Durbin (IL)
Harkin (IA)
Kennedy (MA)
Leahy (VT)
Mikulski (MD)
Salazar (CO)

Dems leaning "No"

Feinstein (CA)
Nelson (FL)

Dems voting "Yes"

Nelson (NE)

GOoPers voting "No"

None yet.

(This list will be updated regularly)

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
  • Nice blurb for our book:

    Two of the hottest Democratic bloggers, Markos and Jerome, prove with this book that they are also two of the sharpest and most insightful voices in the progressive movement.  Crashing the Gate is an urgent and powerfully-written look both at what ails our democracy and what can heal it.  Ultimately, they show that the fuel to reform our politics will not come from Party insiders but from "the netroots, grassroots, and the rise of people powered politics." -- Arianna Huffington, Editor, The Huffington Post

    Next week will be the last one the limited special edition of Crashing the Gate will be available for pre-order.

  • Thanks to everyone who emailed me about programming the new poll engine. I've got enough responses to choose from. I'll be creating an RFP and sending it out to respondents over the next couple of days.

  • Things that make you want to scream for $200.

  • David Broder shows a pulse. Gives Gore props for his Monday speech.

    Gore is certainly right about one thing. When he challenged the members of Congress to "start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be," he was issuing a call of conscience that goes well beyond any partisan criticism.

  • Another chickenhawk puts principle before personal safety. Oh wait, no he doesn't.

  • Matt Stoller isn't convinced of the wisdom of backing a primary challenger to Lieberman. Wonders why. Commenters give great reasons.

  • Jane Hamsher urges Dems to tap Murtha to give the Dem SOTU address rebutall. That would be a great idea. Update: Dems have already tapped Tim Kaine. Not a bad idea, either.

  • Ken Blackwell is losing it on the Ohio campaign trail. Apparently, secular people are Nazis.

  • Not only does the Oregonian editorial board not seem to realize that the Colbert Report is a satirical show, but they purport to speak for the entire media. Hilarious. Did they really need to telegraph to the world how out-of-touch they are?

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
URGENT ACTION ALERT! B y Sheila Parks Contact Sen. Kennedy to thank him for his work on the Judiciary Committee last week and ask him to filibuster Alito confirmation whether he has the votes or not and whether Frist threatens the nuclear option or not . Tell him to forget the Gang of 14. If this is not [...]
Categories: Blogs
If Laura Bush really wants to "debate" Hillary, I'm sure it could be arranged.

Otherwise, why run her useless "response" as though it means something?

This morning, all I'm hearing on the news is that Laura responded to Clinton, calling her characterization of the GOP House leadership "a ridiculous comment." It's run over and over again, as if it has any sort of meaning or intellectual weight. If the media want to turn this into a debate, let's have an actual debate. Let's have Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton have it out on 'Hardball,' or whatever forum they want. Let's hear Laura Bush air her views of the leadership style of the Congressional Republicans. Calling something "a ridiculous comment" doesn't really mean anything unless she can back that up with some sort of supporting theories or data.

The media coverage of this is what's ridiculous.

Someone ask Laura if she thinks Bob Novak, Newt Gingrich, the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, Newsmax,, Rush Limbaugh and the Washington Times are ridiculous for using that phrase.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
Words don't actually mean anything.

I miss the old Deborah Howell. The one who said:

10. Accuracy is not just the most important thing; it’s the only thing. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recently did an excellent study on the credibility problems of American newspapers. The No. 1 complaint is that newspapers just don’t get facts right. Misspelled names and words; wrong addresses; wrong times. Simple stuff. This is not rocket science.

When a job seeker writes me a letter and misspells my name or has my title wrong or a misspelled word or a grammar error, I either ashcan the letter or write and tell them to get a new trade.

Sweat the small stuff. Have you heard the line: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out”? Tattoo that inside your left eyelid, and don’t forget it.

9. Don’t be afraid to look dumb and ask stupid questions. Accuracy demands it. I was once sent on two minutes’ notice to interview U.S. Sen. Gene McCarthy on his farm price support bill when I was a reporter in Minneapolis. I didn’t know anything about farm price supports. So I threw myself on the mercy of McCarthy and his aide. First they educated me, then they told me what was important about his bill, and then they told me who to call for criticism.

There was an old, wise judge – J.D. Todd – in Nueces County, Texas, when I was covering cops and courts for a radio and TV station. He could look at me and know whether I understood what was going on or not. He knew I had a noon deadline. As I would leave to call the office, he would say, “Debbie, approach the bench.” And I’d go up and he’d say, “You sure you understood all that?” And if I didn’t, he’d explain it to me.

Cops and politicians aren’t always trying to hide something from you. Let them help you when you need it. And if indeed they are hiding something, someone will know about it and probably will tell you if you keep your ear to the ground.

8. So you violate the 9th and 10th Commandments and make a mistake. Admit it. Know when to say you’re wrong. Know when to say you’re sorry. Don’t get defensive about it. Remember, daily journalism is the first rough draft of history. And we never get it all right all the time. That’s why God made corrections. Let me give you two great examples of personal humiliation.

We inadvertently left the school lunch menus out of the Sunday paper when I was editor in St. Paul. We got thousands of calls from angry parents who used that list to decide whether to pack lunches for their kids.

Then we got the snowplowing days screwed up on a snow emergency and caused hundreds of our readers to get parking tickets. Those both caused Page 1 corrections that I personally wrote. Another great moment in American journalism.

7. Don’t be a jerk. Too many young reporters act like you can’t get a story without being rude. Be friendly. You’d be surprised how far you can get on a smile and a pleasant manner. When I was a kid police reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, I baked cookies for the dispatchers. They called me before the competition when there was a hot story breaking. They once sent a patrolman to fix my flat tire.

6. Have respect for the English language. There are rules. Follow them. Nothing irritates our readers and viewers more than grammatical errors or making up words. The Washington Post the other day said the president “motorcaded” somewhere. Motorcade is a noun, not a verb.

An editor working for me was having a particularly hard time with a very good reporter whose grammatical skills left something to be desired. He gave her a page filled with nothing but little marks. He told her, “This is a page of commas. Please learn how to use them.”

To you, I would say buy a paperback copy of Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style.” Read it. Use it.

5. Treat your trade, your sources, your audience and the janitor with respect. Be someone who gives a damn about your town, even if you’re just passing through.

Give folks the benefit of the doubt. Put yourself in the place of the people you’re covering. If your daughter has just drowned, would you want a photographer sticking a camera in your face? I think that we should never fail to cover the news, never fail to expose what needs to be exposed. But I also think we should never fail to remember we’re reporting on people with reputations and families that we can carelessly ruin.

As Associated Press President Lou Boccardi said in a speech, “Should we not re-examine standards which, on some days, seem to foreclose from our readers any suggestion that anything, anywhere is being done right by anybody?”

I remember sitting on my front porch steps in St. Paul at midnight in my PJs waiting for a copy boy to bring a picture to me so I could make a decision on whether to run it on the front page in the final. It was a dramatic picture of a fireman holding the body of a 2-year-old, not unlike the famous picture of the fireman holding the body of a child after the Oklahoma City bombing.

The body of this child was burned. I couldn’t put it in the paper. An old boss of mine told me, “Don’t ever put anything on the front page that will make your readers want to throw up in their cereal in the morning.”

But that wasn’t the reason. I couldn’t bear to think of the parents of that child seeing the picture on the front page.

Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs
Funny how the GOP have put Santorum in charge of clearing up their act given his prominent role in the K Street Project that is in many ways the root of much of the GOP's evil.

Ricky has taken to pretending he's only peripherally heard of the K Street Project. Well, too bad for him the Google Cache exists, snagging this vintage 2001 piece from Roll Call:

With high-profile positions opening up at lobbying giants such as the U.S. Telephone Association and BellSouth Corp. in coming months, Senate GOP Conference Chairman Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and a group of well-connected Republican lobbyists plan to compile a list of candidates they will push for those posts.

Other targets include AARP, the Business Roundtable and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

However, unlike the controversial hard-line tactics of the past, where threats of retaliation were made against those who didn't comply with GOP demands, this latest effort will be a more subtle reminder that Republicans control all the levers of power in town and that those seeking favors from Congress and the White House will be better served if their requests are delivered by Republican lobbyists.

"We control the White House, the House and the Senate," noted a well-connected Republican lobbyist familiar with Santorum's plans.

"The people who are doing the hiring and the recruiting [of top lobbyists] have to remember that. We're just going to remind them of that fact when they're out there looking, they better look for a Republican first."

Santorum's latest attempt to boost the GOP's profile on K Street is part of a continuing philosophical battle that has raged in Washington since the Republican revolution of 1994.

"My perspective is, we want to have people at associations who will be receptive to our message and be fair to our proposals," Santorum said in an interview. "I'm just looking for some fair treatment." [...]

The latest stage of the K Street strategy is part of a broader campaign by Santorum and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, the GOP Conference vice chairwoman, to reach out to the business community.

Santorum has assembled a virtual Who's Who of Republican lobbyists, including a number of prominent ex-lawmakers, to advise him on how to improve communications and coordination between K Street and Capitol Hill as the GOP leadership seeks to push Bush's agenda.

As congressional Republicans try to cloak themselves in the mantle of "reform", let's remember their record:

The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent [...]

The Republicans in charge aren't just pro-business, they are also pro-government. Federal outlays increased nearly 30 percent from 2000 to 2004, to $2.29 trillion. And despite the budget deficit, federal spending is set to increase again this year, especially in programs that are prime lobbying targets such as defense, homeland security and medical coverage.

This is the practical face of modern conservatism -- cronyism, graft, corruption, criminality. It marks a complete abandonment of those so-called principles conservatives supposedly stand for in favor of a kleptocratic and unprincipled gold rush.

And Santorum has been there from the beginning. In fact, he was an architect of the rampant criminality infecting Congress.

Update: The DSCC is runnign an anti-Santorum web ad on this very topic.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
Eric Boehlert:

One of the most depressing traits of the news media's timid performance during the Bush years has been their newfound fear of facts and the consequences of reporting them. Where Beltway journalists once eagerly corralled facts and dispensed them to the public, scribes today, like youngsters' endless checking to see if it's safe to cross the street, over-think the consequences and end up giving the Bush administration and Republicans a pass.

For instance, in the wake of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea on Jan. 3, some press outlets did their best, belatedly, to explain the crooked lobbying empire Abramoff had built with the help of Rep. Tom DeLay. And specifically, some news outlets addressed the K Street Project, the DeLay/Abramoff/Santorum/Norquist pay-to-play money machine that's playing a pivotal role in the GOP's deepening ethical morass. (Read a smart, concise description of the K Street Project here.) But even then, the media's descriptions have often been half-hearted at best. Appearing on the Don Imus radio show recently, Newsweek's Evan Thomas mentioned, "this thing called the K Street Project," as if he'd just heard about the day before over lunch at The Palm.

In truth, there's not a serious reporter in Washington, D.C. who for the last three years did not know exactly what the K Street Project was. (The GOP openly boasted about it.) The K Street Project was, hands down, the most important behind-the-scenes development in terms of how power/legislation was bought and sold inside the Beltway and represented an epic story with endless angles and repercussions. And yet for the last three years those same serious MSM reporters participated in a virtual boycott of the story, refusing to detail corruption inside the GOP. (Curious, because during the Clinton years the press couldn't stop writing about alleged Democratic funny money scandals that never actually materialized into criminal wrongdoing by prominent Dems.) Only in recent weeks, after Abramoff pleaded guilty and DeLay's grip on power loosened, have reporters felt confident enough to cross the street--to explain what the K Street Project is.

The chickenhawks don't have a monopoly on fear and cowardice. All of DC is infected with it. Pray the sun doesn't come out in that city, the panic at the sudden proliferation of shadows would cause mass suicides.

And that would be arguably a bad thing.

Source: Daily Kos Blog
Categories: Blogs
Is Malkin ever right?

Of course, the New York Times has decided that a conclusion that the administration broke the law deserves prominent page 19 treatment. Much less important than, say, "As Smoke Clears, Tobacco Maker Opens Lounge."
Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs

Blog for America features highlights from DFA-Link groups around the country each week. Jeff Gardner from NJ for Democracy writes about the Northern half of the U.S. on Thursdays. You can see more local DFA actions going on at

DFA's power has always come from the bottom up—the grassroots that built our organization. Taking a look at the last week of DFA actions, nothing has changed. Whether coming up with their own ideas, or putting their own twist on national initiatives, local DFA groups are still leading the way:

Civil Rights: Taking an active role in fighting for fairness, New Jersey for Democracy and the Ocean County DFA group have been standing up against the Ocean County freeholder board which has been denying the dying Police Lt. Laurel Hester's wish to secure pension benefits for her partner—a story gaining national news attention, and which, in a terrific twist of justice, has prompted other counties in New Jersey to extend those very same benefits to its county employees' domestic partners. Meanwhile, the movement to vote out the sitting freeholders is already afoot.

Candidate Forums: Indeed, Local DFA groups have taken the candidate forum initiative and run with it, but each with their own spin. A popular rallying cry is to take back the House in 2006, which must be done one seat at a time, whether in races like Washington's 8th District or Illinois's 6th District.

Looking to set the tone for the future in state politics, the local DFA group is taking an interest in the race for Washington's State Party Chair. And, of course, where it all begins—the local races—groups are eyeing and readying the fight in places like the Ocean County, NJ Freeholders race and the Manchester, NH's executive council race.

Whether at the National, State or Local level—DFA is ahead of the curve identifying, testing, meeting and supporting great candidates at every level of government. It's time to make a difference.

Until next week, keep fighting for better tomorrows!


Categories: Blogs
Yes, you have to read it through the David Broder filter. He's not likely to actually be inducted into the the Occult and Hermetic Order of the Shrill any time soon. But, nonetheless, for Broder this is indeed shrill. I'm feeling nice so I won't bother to remind the world what Broder said back in Monica days.
Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs
The 2nd worst ombudsman in the history of journalism is headed to Harvard for a bit. Maybe he'll give lectures about how the primary job of the ombudsman is to humiliate your readers in print by publishing the contents of their private emails.
Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs
When the facts themselves are biased the press is scared to report them. More than that, they deliberately play stupid.
Source: Atrios Blog
Categories: Blogs