The Line: October 27, 2011

  • photo-paul-ryan-150Jonathan Chait dissects Republican pols’ facility at papering over facts they find to be inconvenient. They all do it but Chait fricassees the GOP’s Big Thimker, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose big speech at the Heritage Foundation yesterday on income equality (or whatever) turned out to be nothing more than a retread of the same manure Ryan has been spreading for years.
  • In a piece titled “John Galt Clutches His Pearls,” Digby marvels at Ryan’s speech, too: “One of my favorite right wing quirks is their ability to shape-shift from Rambo to Aunt Pittypat in the blink of an eye.”
  • Elizabeth Warren did not take credit for #OccupyWallStreet, despite the right-wing propaganda ministry’s claims. Dave Weigel uses the right’s “dogpiling” on Warren as a case study in how they twist Democrats’ words to bolster their narrative that liberals are elitists, vain and out of touch. (Similarly, Al Gore never said he invented the Internet.)
  • photo-rick-perryIf your candidate’s fumbling, befuddled debate performances are killing his campaign, what do you do? If you’re Rick Perry’s campaign team, you quietly announce that the candidate won’t be participating in any more debates. Kevin Drum reacts: “So there you have it. Perry’s not hiding from anything. He’s just choosing to stay off national TV because it makes his dimness a little too painfully obvious to voters who are trying to choose a leader of the free world. Better to focus instead on what he’s best at: attack ads and laughably flimsy policy proposals.”
  • New polls out in the congressional districts find 12 seats that are ripe for Democratic pickups, including five in California: Dan Lungren (CA-7), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Elton Gallegly (CA-26), Mary Bono Mack (CA-36), Brian Bilbray (CA-52). Relatedly, the district of GOP House Rules Committee Chair David Dreier (CLOSET-1) was disappeared by California’s new nonpartisan redistricting committee. Democrats need to win 25 seats to win control of the House next year.
  • Via Pork News (seriously): The GOP’s drive to install racist Arizona-style “papers please” anti-immigrant laws in the Old Confederate states could result in losses in the tens of millions in agricultural production next year. Turns out, farmers can’t find “legal” Southerners who’ll take jobs doing back-breaking farm work in the fields.
  • For the tenth anniversary of the USA PATRIOT Act, I have a piece up at Gore Vidal Now tracking some of Vidal’s writing about the act, which he described as being “as despotic as anything Hitler came up with — even using much of the same language.”

The Line: GOP Debate in Orlando

  • The room full of tea baggers at last night’s debate in Florida did not cheer at references to executing people or letting the uninsured die, but they could not pass up an opportunity to hate on the gays. The crowd booed during a video question from an active-duty U.S. serviceman who said he was gay. “I guess we only respect the troops Republicans approve of,” wrote Digby. “Good to know.”
  • The soldier’s question was put first to Rick Santorum, the infamous homophobe. His response was typically bizarre: “I would say, any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.” (Tell it to the Marines, Rick.) David Weigel wrote, “The truly odious moment on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — possibly the first ever booing of an active duty soldier at a Republican debate — will be remembered beyond [Santorum’s] predictable attacks on the patriotism of anyone who doesn’t favor constant aggressive warfare.”
  • “As with all the Republican debates,” wrote Jonathan Chait, at his new digs at New York magazine, “this one devolved into a contest to see whether Rick Perry or Mitt Romney could most persuasively paint the other one as reasonable.”
  • […]

The Line: Measuring the Drapes for Romney’s Western White House

Random scenes of winter in La Jolla
  • New York Times, Aug. 9, 1999: Gov. George W. Bush, who has his eye on one new house in Washington, went to settlement today on another west of Waco. “I am pleased to own this beautiful piece of land in Central Texas,” said Mr. Bush, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. Mr. Bush declined to disclose details of the purchase of the property, an 1,550-acre ranch … The settlement confirmed weeks of rumors that Mr. Bush was planning to set up a retreat here.
  • La Jolla Light, Aug. 18, 2011: Bob Schuman, a La Jolla-based political consultant who has made a long and successful career out of being the man behind the candidate, has found himself squarely in the media spotlight recently. Schuman, who lives and works in La Jolla, has made headlines by launching Americans for Rick Perry, a national, independent grassroots campaign to draft the Texas governor into the presidential race. He was successful — Perry announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination over the weekend.
  • La Jolla Light, Aug. 22, 2011: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is increasing his presence in San Diego, with plans to raze his 3,000-square-foot home in La Jolla to make way for an 11,000-square-foot house, according to documents filed with the city. The former Massachusetts governor … paid $12 million for the three bedroom, oceanfront house built in 1936 at 311 Dunemere Drive on May 30, 2008…
  • New York Times, Aug. 22, 2011: A [Romney] campaign official confirmed the report, noting, “Construction will not begin until the permits have been obtained and the campaign is finished.” The official also explained that the large renovation is family-motivated.
  • Pricey real estate: La Jolla had the highest home prices in the nation in 2008 and 2009, the average price for such a home in La Jolla was reported as US $1.842 million in 2008 and US $2.125 million in 2009.
  • Party Registration in La Jolla: La Jolla is in California’s Senate 39th District, in which voter registration is 42.6 percent Democratic, 27.9 percent Republican adn 24.7 percent Decline to State.
  • Jess Durfee, chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party: Let’s hope [Romney] hires a contractor that provides union-equivalent wages and helps to stimulate the local economy. He also could register to vote here and help out the Republicans, whose numbers are dwindling.

The Line: Reax to Perry’s Threat to Lynch Fed Chairman

  • Rick Perry on Fed Chairman Paul Bernanke: “I dunno what y’all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas”
  • James Fallows: “If Bernanke ‘prints money’ in the next 15 months, toward the end of forestalling a recession or preserving jobs, Perry would consider that ‘almost treasonous.’ This is the kind of thing you just don’t hear from national-level politicians, and for a reason. (For starters: the punishment for treason is death.) Obama looks better the more the Republican field displays its outlook and temperament. Romney looks better the more the anyone-but-Romney alternatives come into full view.”
  • Former Bush operative Tony Fratto on Twitter: “Gov. Perry’s comments about Chmn. Bernanke are inappropriate and unpresidential.”
  • Bushite Texan Karl Rove: “You don’t accuse the chairman of the federal reserve of being a traitor to his country. Of being guilty of treason,” Karl Rove told Fox News Tuesday. “And, suggesting that we treat him pretty ugly in Texas. You know, that is not, again a presidential statement.”
  • James Galbraith, an economist and professor at the University of Texas’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs: “The fact that Rick Perry says something does not necessarily mean that he’s wrong, and that the institution has conducted itself in an impeccable way. The Fed allowed a great overstatement of its powers to become conventional wisdom. It pretended that [Quantitative Easing] QE1 and QE2 would achieve something substantial in the economy, when in fact it couldn’t.”
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates: “It’s almost as if Obama has this mutant power to compel these guys into charging, full steam, into a wall of spikes.”
  • Pres. Obama: “I think that everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn’t like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you’ve got to be a little more careful about what you say,” Obama said. “But I’ll cut him some slack. He’s only been at it for a few days now.”
  • Andrew Sullivan: “To my mind, [this] statement disqualifies Perry from the race.”
  • Neo-con Jon Podhoretz: “In the early going on Twitter, I suggested the harrumphers were knowingly making a mountain out of a molehill to bring him down a notch. I was wrong. He’s trying to be the next president, and he needs to be judged on that standard. What Perry did was make a thoughtless blunder, an unforced error; we’re now going to spend a couple of days discussing whether he was summoning violence on Ben Bernanke’s head or not, which is of absolutely no use to Perry. He is, or was, moments away from becoming the race’s frontrunner, and what is in his interest is to harness the excitement of his late entry with qualities of leadership and control that will rally the majority of Republicans unhappy with the choices facing them to his side. Rick Perry made that more difficult today; this was a serious rookie mistake on the national stage”

The Line: Rick Perry


  • Kevin Drum, Mother Jones: Why Perry won’t win
  • Erica Grieder, The Economist: Democrats, you misunderestimate Perry at your peril
  • Washington Post: Fact-checking Perry’s announcement speech
  • ThinkProgress: Perry says Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional
  • Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Rick Perry and the hucksterism of the rich
  • Paul Begala, Daily Beast: Lack of brains has never been a hindrance in politics
  • SaintPetersblog: Is Rick Perry gay? Googlers want to know

The Line: The GOP Debate in Iowa

  • Andrew Sullivan, the Dish at the Daily Beast: “The winners tonight were the Fox interviewers, Baier and Wallace, who pulled no punches in this battle and asked some very tart and tough questions of the various candidates. I think Bachmann is the current front-runner in Iowa and the debate tonight will cement her status. T-Paw was better; Romney came across as even shiftier than usual; Huntsman let his nerves get the better of him; Ron Paul’s freshness has waned; Herman Cain was hopeless; Gingrich was very very angry; and Santorum is so exercized about Iran he even wandered into a defense of gays! Awesome.”
  • Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: “I thought tonight’s debate was much closer than the last one. I didn’t really see any clear winners or losers … I’m obviously not the target audience for these folks, so it hardly matters what I thought about them. Still, what’s so striking about this group is that aside from Ron Paul there’s just hardly any real daylight between them. The questioners tried mightily to provoke some arguments, and they did manage to get a few small ones going over relative minutia, but for the most part they’re still just trying to out-tea party each other.”
  • David Weigel at Slate: “It wasn’t the stiffest of competitions, but this was the best, most clarifying debate between the Republican candidates.”On Bachmann’s performance: “The best thing that happened to her was the question about whether she’d be ‘submissive’ to her husband if she was president. The boos lasted for an uncomfortably long time; she gamely, sarcastically thanked Byron York for the question. It was yet another moment for her to prove that the media treats her unfairly. And since it was the only question on social issues that was directed to her, she missed, one more time, a chance to respond to the damaging ‘ex-gay clinic’ story.”
  • The Caucus at the New York Times: “As they tried to blame President Obama for the nation’s lowered credit rating, the Republican presidential candidates who squared off Thursday night in Iowa made several misleading, incomplete or simply false claims…Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota repeated her assertion that ‘we should not have increased the debt ceiling .. In the last two months, I was leading on the issue of not increasing the debt ceiling,’ she said. ‘That turned out to be the right answer.’ The ratings agency that lowered the credit rating, Standard & Poor’s …lamented in its report on the downgrade that ‘the statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.’ It was Republicans in Congress who made it a bargaining chip.
  • Politifact: “Bachmann said raising the debt ceiling gave Obama a “blank check.” PolitiFact Virginia checked that when Eric Cantor said it about a debt ceiling plan from Harry Reid and found it False.”
  • Tina Korbe at Hot Air: “In general, I prefer to reward action over inaction and I respect the willingness of these candidates to “put themselves out there” tonight, but I have to agree with the cliche: Rick Perry was the real winner tonight.”
  • Ed Morrissey also at Hot Air: “I tweeted that [‘Rick Perry was the real winner tonight’] as the debate ended, Tina, and Chuck Todd followed it by predicting that sentiment would be the trite, cliche tweet of the night — but I think it was true to some extent. As the gloves came off between Pawlenty and Bachmann, then Santorum and Paul, and all night between Newt Gingrich and the same Fox News that employs him, it seemed that the entire debate ran off the rails.”

The Line: Republicans Secretly Love Government Spending

  • Sam Stein at Huffington Post, Aug. 10, 2011: “A Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Huffington Post with three separate federal agencies reveals that on at least 16 separate occasions, [Tea Party Caucus Chairwoman Michele] Bachmann petitioned the federal government for direct financial help or aid. A large chunk of those requests were for funds set aside through President Obama’s stimulus program, which Bachmann once labeled “fantasy economics.” Bachmann made two more of those requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, an institution that she has suggested she would eliminate if she were in the White House … Combined with previous revelations that Bachmann personally relied on a federally subsidized home loan while her husband’s business benefited from Medicaid payments, it appears that one of the tea party’s most cherished members has demonstrated that the government does, in fact, play a constructive role — at least in her life and district.
  • Sam Stein, Huffington Post, July 5, 2011: “Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). On March 8, the freshman Republican co-signed a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration requesting that the Department of Transportation fund a project to improve a runway at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. The cost of the improvement: $4.365 million. Less than a month later, on the floor of the House, he declared that ‘our nation is broke. The federal government has maxed out its credit card.'”
  • Blogging Blue, July 6, 2011: “[Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn.] spoke directly with Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about federal funding for the Cates Landing port project after funding for the project was imperiled by House Republicans who wanted to cut transportation spending as a way of cutting overall government spending. Following his conversation with Secretary LaHood, Rep. Fincher wrote a follow-up letter seeking assistance in “obligating” the $13 million federal grant for the Cates Landing port project.”
  • New York Times, July 19, 2011: “An examination of spending bills, news releases and communications with federal agencies obtained under the Freedom of Information Act shows that nearly two dozen freshmen have sought money for projects that could ultimately cost billions of dollars, while calling for less spending and banning pork projects.” Republican hypocrites on spending include Reps. Tim Scott, S.C.; Jon Runyan, N.J.; Sean P. Duffy, Wisconsin; Michele Bachmann and Steven M. Palazzo, Miss.
  • Quad-City Times in July: “[Tea party favorite Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill.,] has been critical of the stimulus law, which was enacted before he was elected. But he said Friday more of the money should have been devoted to infrastructure projects. “If the government would have taken a lot bigger chunk of that money and put it into infrastructure, we’d be doing a lot better today,” he said.
  • Airport Business, March 17, 2011: “[Tea Party Caucus member] Congressman Allen West (FL-22) announces today the award of a $21 million dollar Federal grant to the Fort Lauderdale -Hollywood International Airport to be used towards the construction of a much needed, second commercial runway. The runway project will generate at least 11,000 jobs and be complete in the fall of 2014 with an estimated budget of $791 million.”
  •, autumn 2010: “[Right-wing extremist Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.,] signed a letter to Secretary LaHood, along with 14 other members of the North Carolina Congressional Delegation, requesting funds from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant in order to ‘reroute and construct a new bridge over the Yadkin River on Interstate 85,’ saying the existing bridge has ‘far exceeded its design lifespan.'”
  • Steve Benen, Washington Monthly, Feb. 16, 2010: “Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the stimulus “misses the mark on all counts,” but encouraged the Labor Department to invest stimulus money in his district, highlighting a project he said would create 1,000 jobs. Reps. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) and Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), both right-wing opponents of the recovery efforts, did the same thing.”
  • Right-wing Korean cult-owned Washington Times, February 9, 2010: “[Tea Party Caucus member] Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican who became famous after yelling, “You lie,” during Mr. Obama’s addresses to Congress in September, voted against the stimulus. Nonetheless, Mr. Wilson elbowed his way into the rush for federal stimulus cash in a letter he sent to Mr. Vilsack on behalf of a foundation seeking funding. “