MA-Sen: PPP Has Brown (R) Up One Point

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

Public Policy Polling (PDF) (1/7-9, likely voters, no trendlines):

Martha Coakley (D): 47
Scott Brown (R): 48
Undecided: 6
(MoE: ±3.6%)

Some findings from Tom Jensen:

• As was the case in the Gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia last year, it looks like the electorate in Massachusetts will be considerably more conservative than the one that showed up in 2008. Obama took the state by 26 points then, but those planning to vote next week only report having voted for him by 16.

• Republicans are considerably more enthusiastic about turning out to vote than Democrats are. 66% of GOP voters say they are ‘very excited’ about casting their votes, while only 48% of Democrats express that sentiment- and that’s among the Democrats who are planning to vote in contrast to the many who are apparently not planning to do so at this point.

• Brown has eye popping numbers with independents, sporting a 70/16 favorability rating with them and holding a 63-31 lead in the horse race with Coakley. Health care may be hurting Democratic fortunes with that group, as only 27% of independents express support for Obama’s plan with 59% opposed.

Tom also offers some thoughts on how he thinks Coakley can win, and says that PPP will be back in the field next weekend. Meanwhile, Taegan Goddard has this update:

Meanwhile, polls from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald should be released in the morning.

A source tells Jim Geraghty that the Globe poll finds Coakley ahead by 15 points and the Herald poll finds her ahead by seven points — but just one point among likely voters.

And Mark Blumenthal promises that Pollster will put up a trend chart once it has a fifth poll of this race (PPP makes five).

(Ongoing discussion can also be found in calchala’s recommended diary.)


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If At First You Don’t Succeed, Lie, Lie Again

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

After a week that saw Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele come under fire for (warning: this will take awhile):

  • Publicly wondering if Republicans were able to lead,
  • Saying that he wished he could be a teabagger,
  • Getting advice from a known racist,
  • Telling other Republicans to “shut up” or “fire me,”
  • Being told by other Republicans to shut up,
  • For blindsiding the Republican party with his book,
  • For the ethical questions raised by his outside income, and,
  • For depleting RNC coffers by two-thirds in a non-election year,

… Steele decided to cap off the week with this:

Responding to critics who say he wrote his latest book when he should have been conducting official duties, RNC chair Michael Steele said today he wrote the book before he took over the national party last January.

Well then, nothing to see here, let’s move along … or not:

But the book itself tells a different story. In its pages, Steele mentions at least 5 people, 1 piece of legislation and 1 term that did not become evident until well after he was elected to head the RNC.

At various points, Steele references Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) and his 2 rivals for a special election that occured Nov. 3 — NY Assemb. Dede Scozzafava (R) and accountant Doug Hoffman (C). He mentions former Miss CA Carrie Prejean … to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor … Cap and trade legislation had been discussed prior to Steele’s becoming chairman, but Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) didn’t offer their first draft until Mar. 31. And as Steele takes after the health care measure introduced in Congress this year, he spends several pages assaulting the public option — an issue that was not a major part of the discussion during the ‘08 WH campaign.

What’s that old expression? Oh, yeah. When you’re in a hole, stop digging. Michael? Stop digging.


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Tea Baggers to Picket Detroit Auto Show

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

What do you do if you’re upset that the government had to bail out the auto industry? If you’re a tea bagger, your first thought it to stamp your feet and whine about how the socialist government is taking over private industry, by picketing the Detroit Auto Show.

The anti-tax group National Tax Day Tea Party has called on supporters from southeast Michigan to “make a peaceful yet clear statement against government takeover of America,” namely the Obama administration’s 61% stake in General Motors.

The auto companies owe the government too much money, so picket them so that they… uh… can’t pay back that money! But hey, this means that the Tea Baggers will be marching beneath Joe Louis’ upraised fist, which should be highly photogenic.

Start lettering those signs, guys, and remember GOD HATES JAGS.


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Late afternoon/early evening open thread

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

What’s coming up on Sunday Kos ….

  • Dante Atkins will introduce himself and try to remind us of just how far we’ve come in his initial essay, (by way of reintroduction).
  • With Ellen Malcolm, the president of EMILY’S List, announcing her retirement, Angry Mouse will examine whether the nation’s largest feminist advocacy organizations are still effective or even necessary.
  • exmearden will stir the dust with thoughts on life, death, health insurance, and, well, dinnerware.
  • Meteor Blades will discuss why progressive activism, both the idealistic and pragmatic kind, is essential for transformative change and always has been.
  • If you’re always looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint, or if you’ve ever been woken up by the noise of a garbage truck, Laura Clawson will tell you about something you’ll wish they had in your town: The Pedal People collect the trash on bicycles.
  • In many ways, 2010 could turn out to be a year that will see unprecedented changes in the national security landscape. One of the areas in which President Obama has the potential to make history is in the area of arms control, specifically with respect to nuclear weapons. Plutonium Page will go beyond the rhetoric and the headlines to show you how.


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White House Backing Away from Net Neutrality? Not So Much

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

An opinion column at CNET News suggests that the White House is backing away from the strong Net Neutrality position taken by FCC Chairman Genachowski. Larry Downes, “nonresident fellow at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet & Society,” writes:

The Obama administration and its allies at the Federal Communications Commission are retreating from a militant version of Net neutrality regulations first outlined by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in September.

That’s my reading of a number of recent developments, underscored by comments made by government speakers on a panel on the first day of a Tech Policy Summit at CES in Las Vegas….

The administration is clearly backtracking. But why?

Part of the reason is some unexpected political pressure, including a letter signed by 72 congressional Democrats opposing the FCC’s proposed rules soon after they were announced.

But the bigger explanation is the growing priority within the administration for nationwide, affordable broadband service. In the course of preparing the national broadband plan, mandated by the 2009 stimulus bill, universal high-speed access has taken on increased significance in the government’s hopes for a rapid economic recovery. Beyond the current financial woes, Congress, the FCC and the White House all recognize the importance of improving the communications infrastructure to maintain U.S. competitiveness in technology innovation….

The major carriers are making the investments, and have every business reason to make more. But the Net neutrality rules, depending on how the FCC defines key terms, could hamstring their efforts to make their money back. Net neutrality is making Wall Street uncomfortable about financing broadband deployment. That in turn is making the White House nervous.

Net neutrality is turning out to be a noisy side show and a growing distraction from the real priority for both the White House and the FCC: getting the country wired for recovery.

The argument that somehow the administration had completely changed position on the criticality of Net Neutrality as a key component of expanding broadband deployment and the recovery plan was a new one to me. I asked Tim Karr, campaign director for Free Press and the smartest Net Neutrality expert I know, for his take on this interpretation:

Downes offers a series of loose assumptions and scant evidence to support his idea that the White House is backing away from Net Neutrality.

The notion that Net Neutrality is a “sideshow” when it comes to the “real priority” of using the Internet for our recovery blithely ignores the role an open Internet plays to fuel innovation and economic growth in the country.

I gather Downes was too busy conjuring conclusions to have read yesterday’s report from several NYU legal scholars and economists who find that Net Neutrality fosters an essential “open and entrepreneurial dynamic” that “creates billions of dollars in value for American public.” (http://policyintegrity.org/documents/Free_to_Invest.pdf)

The idea that Net Neutrality thwarts investment in network improvements has been thoroughly debunked by real market data. And connecting more people to a non-Neutral (and therefore value-less) Internet is not a sound economic solution.

There has been a concerted effort by AT&T to undermine Genachowski’s strong NN position, including a massive astroturfing campaign with progressive bloggers and organizations (of which I’ve been a target, receiving a handful of e-mails from USIIA, a proxy for AT&T and the phone and cable industry) in an attempt to convince us that strong NN means massive job loss and thus Democratic losses. That effort did get 72 Congressional Dems (all but two of whom received “received campaign donations this year from Internet service providers, the companies most likely to be impacted by new regulations”). But there’s no evidence, outside of Downes’ interpretation, that the administration is wavering.

The FCC is still taking public comments on its strong NN proposed rule-making. Save the Internet has an easy-to-use online tool that you can use to add your support for the proposed rule. But you have to act soon–the comment period closes next Thursday, Jan. 14.


Dr. Tiller’s Murderer Could Be Out in Five Years

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

Unbelievable.

In a pretrial hearing Friday, Kansas Judge Warren Wilbert said he might allow the defense to present evidence that Mr. Roeder acted in defense of others — in this case, fetuses — whom he believed to be under imminent threat.

Judge Wilbert also said he was open to the defense presenting evidence that Mr. Roeder might be guilty not of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, but of the far lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, which carries a sentence of about five years.

Scott Roeder gunned down Dr. Tiller in cold blood. In church. He’s admitted to it.  And he isn’t the least bit remorseful.

No, I don’t have any regrets because I have been told so far at least four women have changed their minds, that I know of, and have chosen to have the baby,” Roeder said. “So even if one changed her mind it would be worth it. No, I don’t have any regrets.”

But now the judge has decided Roeder should have a chance to prove he was merely defending “preborn children” because he was “compelled” to do so. And what is his evidence?

The defense has subpoenaed former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who plans to testify that he reviewed patient medical records and found evidence Dr. Tiller was illegally aborting “viable, unborn children,” a spokesman for Mr. Kline said.

Just one problem with that.

Dr. Tiller was acquitted of related charges in a jury trial two months before his death.

But hey, why let facts get in the way when you’re making excuses for murdering doctors saving lives?  


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Obama accepts Reid apology for racial remarks

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

As many have heard by now, Politico reported earlier today on Harry Reid’s remarks–and subsequent apology–about then-candidate Barack Obama featured in a new book:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday for calling Barack Obama a “light-skinned” African-American who lacked a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

“I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words. I sincerely apologize for offending any and all Americans, especially African Americans for my improper comments,” Reid said in a statement. His office later confirmed that Reid spoke with the president directly about the matter on Saturday.

Reid’s remarks were revealed in a new book, “Game Change” by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about the 2008 race. According to the book, Reid was impressed by Obama’s candidacy during the primary campaign, and privately said the country was ready for a black president – particularly a “light-skinned” one “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

In response, President Obama issued the following statement:

Harry Reid called me today and apologized for an unfortunate comment reported today.  I accepted Harry’s apology without question because I’ve known him for years, I’ve seen the passionate leadership he’s shown on issues of social justice and I know what’s in his heart.  As far as I am concerned, the book is closed.


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Millions of Jobs Between Now and November. Or Else.

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

One of the chief responses to the continuing disaster that is America’s unemployment situation runs along the lines of: It’s a lot better than it was last year at this time. That depends on how you look at it.

In terms of the number of jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported lost in the Decembers of 2008 and 2009, the situation is a lot better. Jobs aren’t being slashed in anywhere near the same numbers they were a year ago, 681,000 vs. 85,000. Layoffs are way down and, on average, people who still have jobs are more secure that they’ll keep them than they were just a few months ago. Various indicators of a slowly improving economy can be seen everywhere. No doubt, thanks to government intervention, however imperfect, there have been innumerable sighs of relief.


Click here for larger image.

But looked at from the standpoint of accumulated job losses, with no real hiring in sight, the situation looks far worse than it did a year ago. Back then, “only” 3.1 million jobs had been lost since the recession began in December 2007. Today, 5.0 million more Americans are officially out of work. And 6.1 million of them have been out of work for at least six months. Altogether, those counted as jobless number 15.3 million. That, says the BLS, is 10% of the work force, the “U3″ number. Add in the part-timers who want full time work and people too discouraged to keep looking for a job and this “U6″ measurement rises to 26.5 million and 17.3%.

The numbers, however, are actually worse than they first appear. Because, as BLS statistics show, 661,000 people left the labor force last month. We don’t know where they all went. Retired, enrolled in school, left the job market to raise a child, took time off to write a book, sank into despair. What we do know is that if they had stayed in the labor force and kept looking for one of those jobs that isn’t yet available, today we’d be looking at a 10.4% unemployment rate, with 16 million officially out of work. Maybe 27 million when the underemployed and discouraged get tallied.


Click here for larger image

What these terrible numbers represent are persons with rent to pay, kids to feed, tuition to cover, loans to repay. Not abstractions. People. Which is why everyone – except for Republicans hoping to make political gains off of misery – eagerly hopes each new job report will announce that the numbers have begun to be reversed.

However, given the BLS’s tweaky application of seasonal adjustment formulas and calculations about new businesses arising and old ones folding (called the birth-death model), this focus on when positive job numbers will finally be announced is really a perverse waste of time.

I don’t say this with any malice toward anyone. I’ve watched for that crossover from negative to positive, too. Nor am I saying there’s anything wrong with following the job trends that appear over a period of a few or many months. It’s just that when the day the numbers finally appear to go positive for more than a one-month blip, it will be a maybe-yes, maybe-no affair.

And, more importantly, that breakthrough, such as it is, will only mark the beginning of what must be obvious to everyone by now will be a long, long trek back to the employment levels of December 2007 when there were 8.1 million more people working than there are now and millions more had full-time instead of part-time jobs.


Click for a larger version of this Calculated Risk chart.

Our attention instead ought to be focused on the problem of how long it’s going to take to return to the number of jobs there were when the recession started two years ago.

As many others and I have pointed out for months, and Robert Reich noted Friday, it normally takes the creation of about 100,000 jobs each month just to keep up with added new job seekers entering the labor market. So, add to that 8.1 million jobs we’ve lost another 2.5 million “never entereds.” That’s 10.6 million jobs that have to be made up.

To achieve that by the summer of 2012, in time to have a favorable effect on the presidential election, would mean, Reich says, 400,000 jobs created each month. During the Clinton boom, the best rate was 280,000 a month. If that could be matched, it would still take until early 2013 to cover those 10.6 million jobs. And, it should be remembered, each month going forward we will need yet another 100,000 jobs to handle people entering the market for the first time. So the actual number of needed jobs over the next three years is more like 13-14 million. A formidable task.

If there were at least program in place that was showing marked improvement in the unemployment situation, even if the jobless numbers were still high, it would be harder for Republicans to spin things in their direction for the election. But what kind of program?

The imperfect stimulus has helped stop the bleeding. But the only way for the administration to do a timely job of putting Americans back to work is with a dynamic and massive federally run jobs program, one that employs millions as quickly as possible. That means more government spending. Not only should it be done right away for all the obvious human reasons, but also because the already somewhat dicey political situation for Democrats in November is going to be far dicier if more jobs aren’t generated soon. Excuses won’t go over well.

It would be the toughest imaginable sell on Capitol Hill. Fought against tooth and nail by obstructionist Republicans, Democratic deficit hawks and assorted worry warts. It might very well go down to defeat. The only alternative then would be diverting some TARP repayments and unspent stimulus dollars. That’s legally problematic and, at any rate, wouldn’t produce enough money.

But the possibility of defeat should not be a deterrent to trying. The White House should bite the bullet on this, go all out, take the issue to the American people and fight like hell in Congress to make this happen. The next few months will offer the only chance, however slim, of accomplishing it. Marching into November with massive numbers of Americans still unemployed and no program for effectively reducing those numbers could make it a painful year at the polls.  

There is, as pointed out many times before, far more to do than merely try to get more Americans back to work. We need a frontal assault on deregulation, deunionization, privatization, unfettered globalization, wage stagnation and the outrageous transfer of wealth to the upper 20%, especially the top 1%. Fixing, even ameliorating, structural unemployment will require rejiggering out trade policy and establishing a progressive industrial policy.

Atrios makes an excellent point in that regard:

One of my longstanding pet peeves is that everyone in the US pretends we don’t have an “industrial policy” because that implies naughty state intervention in certain sectors. But of course we have lots of naughty state intervention in certain sectors, we just don’t do it even notionally for any good reason. We prop up the single family homebuilding industry and the automobile industry (even before the bailouts). We prop up certain agricultural sectors. We favor big business over small. Now we’re massively propping up one skimmer industry – the financial industry – and are about to prop up another skimmer industry – health insurance.

So, yes, by design or accident we have industry policy. We should recognize that and then decide what we should be doing instead of pretending we don’t have any.

Whatever we do in that regard, however, will have to wait until we solve the immediate crisis. For one thing, there aren’t anywhere near enough fighting progressives in Congress to deal effectively with these deeper problems with the economy. For now, Band-Aids will have to do.


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Midday open thread

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments
  • Baby, it is cold outside:

    By the end of the weekend, 180 million Americans may shiver through record-setting cold. Sixty percent of Americans will see and feel temperatures 15 to 30 degrees below normal.

  • Let’s talk creative gerrymandering.
  • Ken Burns is going to update his classic baseball documentary.
  • Motor City socialist activists mobilize inside the party to change it:

    Democratic socialists in southeastern Michigan can do something most of their counterparts across the nation cannot: they can boast of electoral victories. Moreover, they possess a level of influence within the Michigan Democratic Party of which many American leftists dream. And they’ve done it all without compromising their beliefs or values.

    Their success has come from working with, instead of against, local Democrats. …

    “As a small organization, how can we make a difference? We leverage our forces. We put our efforts towards a progressive Democrat challenging a Republican, or a progressive Democrat challenging a centrist Democrat [in a primary]. “

    “We don’t pick symbolic victories,” Green says, “We pick things we can win.”

    — Meteor Blades

  • Here’s a story you don’t see every day: Cops are ordered to return marijuana to rightful owner.
  • Color me unconvinced:

    Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) — Timothy Geithner, the former Federal Reserve Bank of New York president, wasn’t aware of efforts to limit American International Group Inc.’s bailout disclosures because the regulator’s top lawyer didn’t think the issue merited his attention, according to a letter sent to lawmakers.

  • Business Week looks at the new importance of IMAX to contributing to Hollywood blockbuster status.
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has announced its Top Ten Science Stories of 2009, including:

    The changing conditions in the ocean due to increased acidity from increased CO2 is one of the unknowns in future climate change projections.  LANL’s Climate, Ocean, and Sea Ice Modeling effort for DOE and the National Science Foundation develops the highest-resolution dynamic models of the world’s oceans and polar icecaps.

    – Plutonium Page

  • The New York Times looks at how spending habits are changing due to the recession, and Newsweek looks at just how long those habits might last:

    The Recession Generation: Those entering the workforce now will likely make less and save more—not just in the short term but for the rest of their lives.

  • CBS polls Americans about their weekends:

    Sixty-three percent of those surveyed say they ask themselves “Where did the weekend go?” while only 34 percent say they feel relaxed and ready for Monday morning. Working Americans and parents of children under age 18 are even less likely to feel rested and relaxed at the end of a weekend.

    While the weekends fly by for many, fewer than half (42 percent) of working Americans say they would give up a day’s pay per week in exchange for a longer weekend to spend more time with family and friends. Fifty-three percent of Americans said they would rather keep their current hours and pay even it means less time with family.

  • Proof that not all big elections this year are legislative in nature–social conservatives are gunning to claim a bigger stake of the Texas State Board of Education. Their success or failure could say a great deal about the quality of education for a generation of kids in the second-largest state in the Union. What are the goals of the cons?

    Another far-reaching decision will come next week, when board members decide what students must learn in U.S. history, government and other social studies courses. The board is sharply divided on the topic; social conservatives, for example, want a greater role for religion in U.S. history classes and textbooks.

    “I see [the elections] as a referendum on what we’ve done the last few years,” said Republican board member Don McLeroy, an outspoken social conservative who served as chairman until last summer.

    The seven Republicans who make up the conservative bloc have made their influence felt in new curriculum standards for English and science – including much debated language that requires students to examine “all sides” of scientific evidence for evolution in biology classes.

    In a real way, this matters every bit as much as any singular House or Senate campaign. Worth keeping an eye on. –Steve Singiser

  • Katha Pollitt examines The Decade for Women: Forward, Backward, Sideways?:

    Women are still drastically underrepresented on op-ed pages, on Sunday chat-shows, as experts in news stories, and are scanted in literary prizes, awards and Best of the Year lists, as actresses and directors and playwrights. It seemed like 20,248 articles and 1,507 books were published explaining why women’s inequality is their own fault.

    — Meteor Blades


Saturday hate mail-apalooza

January 10th, 2010, 04:01 am admin No comments

The crazies sure haven’t gone anywhere in 2010. Meet the latest crop below the fold.


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