Open Thread: “The Wrong Turning Point”

Steven Benen at the Washington Monthly smacks around Joe Nocera‘s uncharacteristically silly defense of Robert Bork:

… Nocera’s larger point, in fact, is that mean ol’ liberals are largely responsible for the toxicity and breakdowns in Washington. “The next time a liberal asks why Republicans are so intransigent,” the columnist concludes, “you might suggest that the answer lies in the mirror.”
It’s hard to overstate how remarkably wrong this is. Indeed, nearly every paragraph in Nocera’s piece includes a fairly significant error of fact or judgment.
The columnist argues, for example, that Bork was an intellectual giant who was unfairly labeled as an “extremist.” I suppose it’s a subjective question — an extremist to one is a moderate to another — but I’d note for context that Bork had endorsed Jim Crow-era poll taxes, condemned portions of the Civil Rights Act banning discrimination in public accommodations, and argued against extending the equal protection of the 14th Amendment to American women, among other things. Nocera may be comfortable with Bork’s ability to justify these positions as a matter of legal theory, but considering Bork’s conclusions as “extreme” seems more than fair.
Indeed, as recently as last week, Bork was still arguing that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to women…
There have been plenty of modern turning points that have created the breakdowns of our political system. The Gingrich Revolution and the far-right takeover of the Republican Party seems like the big one to me, as do the unjustified impeachment of a Democratic president, the dubious legitimacy of the 2000 presidential election, the Bush White House’s post-9/11 strategy of dividing the country for GOP gain, the Republicans’ scorched-earth strategy of the Obama era, etc.
But the bipartisan opposition to Bork is the real culprit? Please.

Wednesday Evening Open Thread

Via Greg Sargent, Vanity Fair has a long, very positive piece on Elizabeth Warren, “The Woman Who Knew Too Much“:

… At a time of record corporate profits, a time when 14 million Americans are out of work, when millions have lost their homes and, according to the Census Bureau, the ranks of those living in poverty has grown to one in six—that Elizabeth Warren could be publicly kneecapped and an agency devoted to protecting American consumers could come under such intense attack is, ultimately, the story about who holds power in America today.
When the C.F.P.B. was first proposed to Congress, in early 2009, the Chamber of Commerce, the leading business lobbying group in the country, announced that it would “spend whatever it takes” to defeat the agency. According to the Center for Public Integrity, from 2009 through the beginning of 2010, it would be one of the biggest spenders among the more than 850 businesses and trade groups that together paid lobbyists $1.3 billion to fight financial reform…
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2010 the financial industry flooded Congress with 2,565 lobbyists. They were financed by the likes of the Financial Services Roundtable, which, according to the Center, paid lobbyists $7.5 million, and is on its way to spending as much or more this year. The Chamber of Commerce spent $132 million on lobbying Washington in 2010. The American Bankers Association spent $7.8 million. As for individual banks: JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in TARP funds from taxpayers, spent nearly $14 million on lobbying during the 2009–10 election cycle; Goldman Sachs, which received more than $10 billion from taxpayers, spent $7.4 million; Citigroup, which was teetering on the brink of insolvency and received a $45 billion infusion, has paid more than $14 million to lobbyists since 2009. And none of this money includes the direct campaign donations these organizations, and their surrogates, made to members of Congress.
The banks “do not like to lose,” says Ed Mierzwinski, of the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, which was part of the grossly outmatched consumer coalition that managed to scrape together a paltry $2 million to lobby in favor of reform…

And on the other side of that race, Glen Johnson Alex Katz at the Boston Globe informs us that Scott Brown’s campaign is so poverty-stricken, it has to “recycle” old quotes from Elisabeth Dole.

How are the battles proceeding in everyone’s neighborhoods, tonight?

Walker On The Clock, Tick Tick Tock

Wisconsin Democrats are gearing up to toll the bell for Gov. Scott Walker’s recall effort.  Here’s what they are up against:

Wisconsin’s recall law requires that officials have held office for at least one year before being recalled. Since Walker was just elected in 2010, that means the petitions cannot be turned in until early January 2012. In addition, the Dems will have a lot of leg-work to do, if they hope to recall him.

In order to initiate a recall, signatures of at least 25 percent of the number of voters in the previous gubernatorial election must be collected in a 60-day window, within a relevant district (statewide, in this case). Calculated from the 2010 election results, this means the Dems will need to collect 540,206 signatures — more than 9,000 signatures a day, statewide — plus some significant buffer that campaigns routinely collect in order to protect against signatures being disqualified over one imperfection or another.

To wind up the spring for the recall, Wisconsin Dems want to raise $540,206 by Nov. 15th in order to kick off the petition drive then.  Good luck to them, and I’ll be following the efforts, well, like clockwork.

Handy puns aside, putting Walker out of a job is something that a number of liberals outside Wisconsin should be aiming for.  Outside of John Kasich, no Republican governor has been more relentlessly anti-middle class and pro top 1% with continuous efforts to remove collective bargaining rights, remove voting rights, and remove accountability.  As in Ohio, there are efforts to fight back by putting the agenda before the people.  In Wisconsin, that means putting Walker himself up for another vote.

Good for Wisconsin Dems.  They understand the keys to all this GOP power lie in statehouses across the country.

[UPDATE]  You can learn more about helping this effort at

GOP on the Loose in FL

There hasn’t been much noise in the MSM, apart from the FoxGoogle debate, but the Super-Conservative wing of the Conservative Republican Conservatives have actually spent the whole last three days networking & nitpicking in Orlando — presumably as a kind of warm-up / road-test for next year’s GOP Convention in Tampa, aka “the herpes sore on America’s wang”. I’m very grateful that Dave Weigel at Slate has been covering the three-ring tent show, because I’d rather read about such antics at one remove, and besides, Weigel has a sharp eye for the telling detail…

ORLANDO, Fla. — Ralph Reed has never lost his knack for PR. His Faith & Freedom Coalition (“Pro-Family, Pro-Freedom”) is holding its inaugural Florida conference right across the street from the Florida GOP’s three-day “Presidency 5” summit/debate/straw poll. Seven presidential candidates will speak on a stage framed on the right by the American flag, the state flag of Florida, and the flag of Israel…
I noticed that William Temple, the costumed “Tea Party patriot” who materializes at every one of these events as if beamed down from the Enterprise, was seated not far from us…We chatted briefly about Temple’s favorite topic of the day: The Christian faith of the founders.
“They said that we might lose our way if we didn’t elect Christians,” said Temple. “And I ask you, have we gotten there yet?”
Who was “they”? It wasn’t from the Constitution, Temple explained. He pulled out a sheaf of paper, flipping past some maps of Orlando to find a quote from revolutionary era North Carolina Gov. Samuel Johnston.

It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans, pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President, or other high office, but in one of two cases. First, if the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves….

Jews, Mahometans, Pagans! Speaking of scary juxtapositions, here’s my first introduction to a group that makes “GOProud” seem almost reasonable by comparison:

At noon [Friday], instead of racing back to the main hall of CPAC Florida to watch a few presidential candidate speeches, I dropped into the second Tea Party Debt Commission meeting, sponsored by FreedomWorks. Dick Armey’s Tea Party collossus took over the dining room of a Denny’s, put a powerpoint presentation on a flat screen TV, and began 90 minutes of debate about how to cut the budget.
I grabbed a seat at a table with a group of Frederick Douglass Republicans, black conservatives who shared their stories of speaking at Tea Party events and making converts. They were having some success, they said, in converting fellow black men. “Frederick Douglass is a badge of honor,” explained K. Carl Smith, who was selling a book about his politics. “Barack Obama is a shield of shame.”

Luck, reporter’s instinct, prescience? Here’s the results of tonight’s culminating straw poll:

Herman Cain won the Presidency 5 Florida Straw poll with 996 votes, 37.1 percent of the total, blowing past Rick Perry and Ron Paul, both of whom had organized to win here. He more than doubled the Perry vote; more delegates chose Cain than chose Perry and Romney, combined.
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That was a moment of pure joy…

John wrote about Elizabeth Warren’s appearance on Morning Joe earlier. The video is must see teevee as is the You Tube clip that Anne posted in the early morning hours where Warren pushes back on the whole “Class War” bullshit .

My favorite part of the appearance on Morning Joe was her body language as she endured the high wankerism of George Carlin plagiarizer Mike Barnicle. “Mike” was going on and on about how it was only fair for heavily Democratic Massachusetts to have at least one Republican Senator for balance or some such crapola and that Warren running was going to upset Mike’s sense of order. The look on her face as this well-connected hack droned on and on and on was priceless:


And then she took him apart in her answer. Awesome. All of it was awesome.

All this inspired me to contribute to her campaign. I went here to do it. So can you.