Patterico's Pontifications

12/22/2009

Democratic Defections of the Day

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 10:03 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Alabama Representative Parker Griffith, formerly a Democrat, is now a Republican.

Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher is probably still a Democrat, but she nevertheless defected to Fox News for a day to urge conservatives and liberals to unite against ObamaCare.

– DRJ

GreenPeace Objects to Obama’s Cheap Tricks

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 9:34 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Even before the Copenhagen summit, GreenPeace was objecting to the Obama Administration’s climate change math:

“If you listened only to the White House, you could easily believe that Obama single-handedly saved the climate while everyone else stood around on the sidelines. The truth is, these are the numbers of the Waxman-Markey bill, which is not and has never been enough to really combat the devastating effects of climate change.

The US keeps hiding behind weak numbers, made to appear stronger by shifting the “baseline” date to which they’re compared. A reduction of 17 percent of 2005 levels is really a reduction of four or five percent of 1990 levels, the base year all other developed countries are using.

Using 2005 as a base year is the kind of cheap math trick we expect from the Bush administration, not from a President who was elected promising he was going to get us out of the climate crisis. Moving the goal posts to pretend you’re scoring is a nice way to spin your speeches, but science doesn’t work that way. We can’t change the science – we have to change the politics, which is not the way Obama is going right now.”

GreenPeace was counting on Obama to step up and make a difference in Copenhagen. Now even it says he failed.

– DRJ

Problems in Pakistan

Filed under: International,War — DRJ @ 9:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

According to a report in the Times of India, Pakistan faces a domestic crisis after the Pakistani Supreme Court annulled an amnesty ruling that had resolved claims of graft and corruption in President Zardari’s government. Zardari and members of his government have vowed to remain in office and fight the allegations.

Meanwhile, in what appears to be an unconfirmed report, the UK Guardian quotes a NATO officer’s claim that the United States has been conducting covert operations into the Pakistani tribal areas for years:

“A former Nato officer said the incursions, only one of which has been previously reported, occurred between 2003 and 2008, involved helicopter-borne elite soldiers stealing across the border at night, and were never declared to the Pakistani government.

“The Pakistanis were kept entirely in the dark about it. It was one of those things we wouldn’t confirm officially with them,” said the source, who had detailed knowledge of the operations.

Such operations are a matter of sensitivity in Pakistan. While public opinion has grudgingly tolerated CIA-led drone strikes in the tribal areas, any hint of American “boots on the ground” is greeted with virulent condemnation.

After the only publicly acknowledged special forces raid in September 2008, Pakistan’s foreign office condemned it as “a grave provocation” while the military threatened retaliatory action.”

I don’t know if this report is true but it comes at a sensitive time for the Pakistani government. Maybe that’s the point.

– DRJ

Iran Reacts to Year-End Ultimatum

Filed under: International,Obama — DRJ @ 9:12 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany (the P5+1) gave Iran until the end of the year “to accept a UN nuclear watchdog-drafted deal to swap enriched uranium for nuclear fuel” or face sanctions. Today, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected the P5+1 ultimatum.

The Obama Administration responded with threats of tougher sanctions provided the P5+1 countries sign on, a difficult task in the case of China and Russia:

“A senior [American] diplomatic official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said: “These things do take time… we have come into office with a sense of urgency and we have been working steadily on this issue.”

The official said the administration would carefully seek consensus before acting.

“When we pull the trigger, we want to be sure that there’s a broad understanding among those who play a role in the Security Council as to what we should be doing.”

The United States has raised the specter of a fourth round of UN sanctions, but will need to persuade Russia and China to drop their traditional reluctance to consider tougher measures.”

Once again, Iran continues to defy the United States and the world by refusing to stop production of nuclear fuel, as well as an announcement that it plans to run advanced centrifuges that can double or triple its stock of enriched uranium.

Meanwhile, the opposition voices inside Iran may be in disarray. Iran’s top opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was fired from his government post just days after the death of Iran’s foremost dissident cleric, 87-year-old Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran who became one of its most vocal critics.

Last, but not least, the AP reports that on Dec 12, Thailand intercepted “35 tons of weapons, reportedly including explosives, rocket-propelled grenades and components for surface-to-air missiles” that originated in North Korea and were destined for Iran. The shipment was labeled as oil drilling supplies.

The Iranian situation is heating up and it isn’t because of global warming.

– DRJ

The White House Christmas Tree Ornaments

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 8:34 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Big Government notices some White House Christmas tree ornaments are decorated with pictures of Mao, “legendary transvestite Hedda Lettuce,” and Obama super-imposed onto Mt. Rushmore (there are photos at the link):

“Why let a holiday season come between the White House and making some political statements? The White House pegged controversial designer Simon Doonan to oversee the Christmas decorations for the White House. Mr. Doonan, who is creative director of Barney’s New York has often caused a stir with his design choices. Like his naughty yuletide window display of Margaret Thatcher as a dowdy dominatrix and Dan Quayle as a ventriloquist’s dummy. For this year’s White House, he didn’t disappoint.”

This isn’t the first White House Christmas tree that’s been the focus of a political statement, although it may be the first time it’s happened to an indoor tree. In 2008, First Lady Laura Bush asked the 435 members of Congress “to pick artists to decorate ornaments for the White House tree to showcase all 435 congressional districts.” The ornaments were used to decorate trees on the White House lawn.

Rep. Jim McDermott’s office picked a Seattle artist who is “anti-Iraq war, anti-torture, pro-peace, pro-environment, pro-feminism, pro-diversity and pro-spreading-the-wealth” and she designed an ornament that included the phrase “Impeach Bush.” Mrs. Bush decided not to display the ornament — the only one not included — but she nevertheless invited the designer to attend a White House party for the artists. To his credit, Rep. McDermott supported Mrs. Bush’s decision.

I wonder who made the decisions about the Obama ornaments. It seems to be something that is traditionally within the First Lady’s ambit, but Michelle Obama may have delegated this to her staff and/or the designer. Normally I wouldn’t care but given the Obama Administration’s repeated social mistakes in gift-giving and guest management, it would be interesting to learn who was in charge.

– DRJ

ObamaCare and 2010: Whither the “bounce”

Filed under: General — Karl @ 7:55 am

[Posted by Karl]

Do top Democrats really believe passing ObamaCare is a plus for them?

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been telling Democrats a win on the health issue will reverse the slide in public opinion, just as passage of another controversial proposal, the North American Free Trade Agreement, lifted President Bill Clinton in the polls…

“The reality, I think, will trump poll numbers in the dead of winter as this debate is going on,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”…

Emanuel or Axelrod may also be the anonymous official predicting passage of ObamaCare will send Obama’s approval rating up past 60 percent and restore his supporters’ enthusiasm. Chuck Schumer seems to be in the “bounce” camp, too.

The NAFTA analogy is a poor one, for a number of reasons. NAFTA went from being largely unknown to unpopular as it moved to the front burner. But after Al Gore cleaned Ross Perot’s clock in a CNN debate (which had a then-record audience for a cable TV program), Perot was decimated in public opinion polling and calls to Congress went from heavily against to heavily favoring it. In contrast, Obama failed to move public opinion before Congress voted.

Another difference is that opposition to NAFTA was concentrated within Democratic constituencies, primarily Big Labor. Clinton was able to smooth over those differences. In contrast, the opposition to ObamaCare is not primarily in his own party.

That dynamic is in the CNN poll which is — so far — the only evidence of a possible “bounce”. It is a “bounce” only on the Left. Even in this poll, 56% oppose ObamaCare, a plurality think it will change things for the worse for most Americans, and even more think it will make things worse for “you and your immediate family.” At this point, I want to quote Digby, just for the humor:

Other polls, like this one, show a very different result, so it’s hard to know if that means anythying.

But nonetheless, I would guess that this CNN poll will be cited everywhere as validation of the village conventional wisdom that you can’t go wrong by punching a hippie.

Digby’s right. As Allahpundit noted, the disapproval curve in the poll of polls remains unbent. For that matter, The approval numbers for Obama, Congress and ObamaCare have been stagnant over the same period. Moreover, passage of major legislation has not moved presidential approval numbers in the past.

Lefty blogger Kevin Drum does not think there will be a bounce, and hopes for amnesia:

[The] Feiler Faster thesis is largely true, and healthcare will be mostly forgotten within a few months. This bill affects a relatively small number of people; the people who are affected are almost all benefitting from it; and nothing much is going to happen until 2014 anyway. The tea partiers will stay mad, but they weren’t going to vote for Democrats in 2010 regardless. Moderates and independents, I think, will end up voting on other issues.

There is actually an element of this in Schumer’s argument:

“The reason people are negative is not the substance of the bill, but the fears that the opponents have laid out. When those fears don’t materialize, and people see the good in the bill, the numbers are going to go up.”

FDL’s Jon Walker found this nonsensical, because much of ObamaCare would not phase in until 2014. But the fact that the taxes/ penalties do not really start kicking in until 2013 gives Dems some theoretical hope that Independents might cool off.

As a practical matter, however, amnesia seems unlikely. As RCP’s Jay Cost noted on Monday, the bill stinks of politics, payoffs and partisanship. When even Lefty pundits are decrying it as a bailout of Big Insurance, it feeds the larger, populist discontent with its apparently dysfunctional government. It will be hard for the Independents who started leaving Obama and the Democrats over the stimulus bill, TARP follies and the auto industry bailout to see ObamaCare as anything other than More Of The Same — and thus hard to forget.

Update: Jay Cost notes via Twitter the the GOP will spend hundreds of millions on ads reminding voters about ObamaCare.

–Karl


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