Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cheap shot: Steve Scalise

Image: Suprematist Non-Objective Poetry FS1987CT03, Cecil Touchon, 12x9 inches, collage on paper (1987).

From the Washington Post:
Later in the interview, Scalise blamed his staff for booking him to speak and engaging with Duke’s organization.  “I didn't have a scheduler back then. I was without the advantages of a tool like Google. It's nice to have those,” he said. “Those tools weren't available back then."
Sadly, no. By 2002, when Scalise (then a member of the Louisiana State House of Representatives) gave his talk to the Euro-American Unity and Rights Organization without noticing that there was anything peculiar about their name or their leader, David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and a figure pretty well known in Lousiana politics at the time, Google had been the most prominent of the major Internet search engines for a couple of years already.

Oh, and turns out (via Roll Call via TPM) Scalise knew all about Duke, and had a higher opinion of him than Diaper Dave did. As in, "I'm the electable David Duke." From a 1999 interview:
“I honestly think his 15 minutes of fame have come and gone,” said state Rep. David Vitter (R), a wealthy Metairie attorney who holds Duke’s old seat in the state House and is “seriously considering” a Congressional bid. “When he’s competed in a field with real conservatives, real Republicans, Duke has not done well at all.”
Another potential candidate, state Rep. Steve Scalise (R), said he embraces many of the same “conservative” views as Duke, but is far more viable.
“The novelty of David Duke has worn off,” said Scalise. “The voters in this district are smart enough to realize that they need to get behind someone who not only believes in the issues they care about, but also can get elected. Duke has proven that he can’t get elected, and that’s the first and most important thing.”
Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Politicians, Ugly Buildings, Whores, and Wingnuts

If your stomach is much stronger than mine, feel free to read the softball profile of Erick Erickson in the Atlantic. Otherwise, I'd advise you to stick to the snarky takedown of said profile.

I can't improve on what Kaili Joy Gray has to say about this, but I'll just add that it's another example of something our Gracious Host is often pointing out: there is no right-winger so loathsome, so vicious, so extreme, or so corrupt that they cannot find rehabilitation in the Village.

Cuomo lo deseas!

Governor Andrew Cuomo, fresh from his turn as Pontius Pilate in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation review of natural gas fracking in the state—they came to the right decision, which is a really good thing, but it's evident that Cuomo's chief concern was to not be seen as making a decision at all, and instead of welcoming the ban and its protection for the health of New Yorkers and the integrity of the environment he gloomily predicted a "ton of lawsuits" that are not in fact going to take place at all

Cuomo, I was saying, returned to the more familiar role of joint dictator of the Hudson Duumvirate on Saturday night when he and Christopher Christie showed up to veto a bill passed unanimously by all four of their legislative houses to reform the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  Vetoed a bill passed unanimously? That's right: in New Jersey they can't get a two thirds majority to override it because once Christie has vetoed it all the Republicans will change their votes out of fear of pissing him off. Some justified fear, as Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee will tell you.

The bill would have put the Port Authority under the control of a single director instead of the administration by cronies of the two governors making the agency what it's been:
A bi-state agency that controls a good share of the transportation infrastructure around New York City and North Jersey, the Port Authority squanders its wealth and mismanages its assets; it charges high tolls and puts off necessary maintenance work; and it’s a cesspool of dirty politics. How ironic that an organization designed to be the antithesis of old school Tammany Hall machine politics, would be turned into a patronage mill forced to absorb dozens of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s cronies—“they came in like cockroaches,”quipped one Port Authority staffer—including a deputy executive director willing to create a phony traffic jam at the behest of a gubernatorial aide seeking political retribution.
And it would have added an inspector general, a whistleblower program, new ethics rules, and required public meetings.

The governors couldn't deal with that. And the traditional Friday night news dump wasn't secretive enough for them so they did it on the Saturday night between Christmas and New Year's instead. And among the "reform" executive action ideas they offered as an alternative to the bill, they included a little gratuitous nastiness, the concept of cutting off overnight service on the PATH train under the Hudson, apparently to punish the constituents of Hoboken and Jersey City mayors Dawn Zimmer and Steven Fulop. It really smells very bad.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

John McCain, Drill Baby Drill, and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Remember when John McCain was agitating the right wing masses with chants of “Drill baby, drill?”

Oh yeah, he quickly gave lip service to alternative energy sources – a sort of kiss before sending alternative energy to the gibbet with a hooded executioner. The emphasis was clearly on getting all the filthy fossil fuel we could out of the earth and sending it up the chimney for the enrichment of oil interests that were backing mostly the candidates of the right.

Here’s a reminder if you need it, but keep reading after you watch.
Now, from the New York Times, comes this:
HOUSTON — States dependent on oil and gas revenue are bracing for layoffs, slashing agency budgets and growing increasingly anxious about the ripple effect that falling oil prices may have on their local economies. 
The concerns are cutting across traditional oil states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Alaska as well as those like North Dakota that are benefiting from the nation’s latest energy boom 
“The crunch is coming,” said Gunnar Knapp, a professor of economics and the director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Right-O John. The oil’s gushing like water and it’s the oil producing states that are getting screwed.
Of course, in a way everybody’s getting screwed, even as cheap oil for a while produces some prosperity. With oil selling for less than – well certainly less than bottled water – the impetus to turn to alternative fuels has gone up the chimney. So you can expect the auto makers to sell more SUVs this year and fewer fuel-efficient cars. You can expect the solar and wind industries to wither. And eventually, when somebody tightens the oil spigot, everybody’s screwed and we’ll all be right back to where we were a few years ago.
One way to ameliorate the situation at least a little bit – and to get some desperately needed infrastructure repairs financed at the same time – would be to slap cheap gasoline with a five cent, or maybe even a ten cent federal gasoline tax.
With a Republican Congress? I have to be kidding, right?
Right. So we might as well all lie back and enjoy getting scewed. Long live St. Ayn. Forget I said anything, kiddies. Go back to your economics textbook. You know the one I mean. “Atlas Shrugged.” The current situation gives new meaning to the title. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Global Whacking: Some Clarifications

Duff writes, in comments, with reference to the previous post:
"Sabine, Feely et al. 2004 modelled the time scale of acidification" [my emphasis]. Ah yes, that titchy little word that means so much!
Modeling, Duff, is how science is done. Copernicus and Galileo did not truck around the solar system with surveying equipment measuring where things were in relation to each other ("Got to the sun yesterday, about 93 million miles from Cracow!"); they stayed home and imagined how it might be structured and what consequences such a structure might have that you could observe from earth.

Having done that, they were able to start looking at the data as test data. There was lots of data already, incidentally, and it was very good—as you know, scientists were able to make completely accurate predictions of eclipses and comet visits and planetary movements and so on in spite of their mistaken geocentrism—but it wasn't sufficient for Galileo's needs, since the geocentrists had worked out rationalizations to cover their model's problems; to clinch the question he needed something different, which turned out to be the observation with Galileo's own 1609 improved telescope of a single planet over a four-month period in 1610.

I can imagine the Duffs of the day chuckling: "Ooh, he built his own telescope, did he, and spent a few weeks looking at Venus through it? And that's supposed to outweigh all the observations made over the past 13 centuries and prove his so-called model, according to which when the sun rises it's not really the sun rising but us whirling in the opposite direction at 1,070 miles per hour? Hold onto your hats, gentlemen, I'm feeling seasick already! Must be a very special telescope!"
"While there are earlier data on ocean acidification, going back to 1910 or so and available online from the NOAA, they do not come from long-term time series observations done under controlled conditions at consistent locations," [my emphasis]" Ah, yes, 'controlled conditions', so important, you know!
Experimental control, Duff, is a necessary element of hypothesis testing, to make sure your data are pertinent to the question you're examining and not distorted by some irrelevant variable. I thought everybody learned this in primary school; I'm surprised to see you using "control" with a snicker as if it referred to some kind of "dodgy" manipulation of the facts.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Annals of Derp: Global whacking

Storm blowing up! House troll duffandnonsense in comments has been touting a climate-science scandal that "eclipses even the so-called climategate event" according to its discoverer, a somewhat long-in-the-tooth graduate student (he got his BS in Plant and Soil Science in 1980) working on a PhD at the University of New Mexico, Mike Wallace, who is accusing Dr. Richard A. Feely of the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) of fraud.

Though not, as far as I can tell, at his own website; he's leaving that to the experts at American Thinker and the Arizona Daily Independent and WattsUpWithThat, and Marita Noon at the climate change denial website CFACT.

Feely, it seems, is responsible for the following graph, purporting to illustrate the increasing acidification of the oceans in tandem with an increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, referenced a couple of weeks ago at the San Francisco PBS affiliate science website Quest:

Why, these inquiring minds want to know, does the measurement of oceanic CO2 and pH on this chart start only with 1988? (Note that Noon, in the screenshot below, is apparently unconsciously using the wrong picture, and judge her seriousness accordingly.)


Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Pew Monitors Are on the Job

The first problem with Jennifer Epstein's piece about the President's faith is that it exists at all. This is a story...why? Yes, I understand that in practical terms Article VI, Paragraph 3 might as well not exist (at least where the Presidency is concerned). But really, is the public dying to read yet another Politico piece about the President's church attendance?

The second problem is the way it's framed. Here's the lede:
President Barack Obama rarely goes to church and has spent just one Christmas morning of his presidency in the pews.

But that’s not for lack of faith, members of his small circle of religious confidants say.
Because it wouldn't be "balanced" if you didn't start it out by casting doubt on the President's faith ("Critics say [the President's faith] wouldn’t be readily apparent from watching his public comings and goings"). Now, one could say that since a person's faith is a purely subjective matter, nobody else in the world can possibly have an informed opinion about it. But that wouldn't be the Politico way. The Politico way, where Democrats are concerned, is to bring imaginary controversy into the most banal and innocuous subjects.

The third problem is the complete lack of context. She doesn't mention Bush's sporadic church attendance, or the fact that Reagan didn't go at all. Nor, as it happens, did the previous Politico articles mention it. And of course they were called out for the omission, and of course they keep repeating it.

Because this is Politico, and at Politico the narrative matters more than the facts. And the narrative is that Republicans are presumptively godly, while Democrats are presumptively godless. None of which, according the guys who wrote the Constitution, is supposed to matter in the first place.

Don't they know it's Christmas?

This secularization of Christmas has got to stop! Relentless commercialism, nonstop shopping, eating, and promiscuity; greedy children; pretentious, drunken hipsters and their lowlife girlfriends, merciless mockery of solid entrepreneurs, not one mention of the Blessed Child. And of course the bourgeois gets stuck with the bill!

Christmas Eve in Paris, 1837. And whatever you do don't let Rush Limbaugh watch this video because he'll go apeshit. (Note: the video isn't really 40 minutes: the act is only 20 minutes long, and then it repeats)

Happy Yule,  everybody!

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Young black man shot dead by cops for shopping in Walmart

A young black man wanders into Walmart, walking up and down the aisles while chatting on a cell phone. He finds an air rifle left out on a counter top and picks it up. He continues shopping – or doing the Walmart version of window shopping, eventually wandering into the pet department.

There, still holding the rifle – perhaps he’s taking it to the checkout counter – and still chatting on the phone, he seems to be looking at merchandise on a dog food rack.

Meanwhile, a vigilante do-gooder calls 911 and reports he sees a man with a rifle loading the weapon in the store and pointing it at people. None of which is correct, store surveillance videos and later investigation show.

The cops arrive. They have real weapons that really are loaded. They dash into the store. Later they claim they told  the young man, who was still talking on his cell phone, to drop the gun. Even assuming that they are telling the truth, he clearly doesn’t hear them. His head doesn’t appear to  turn their way. He still continues chatting on the phone. About one second later, they blow him to kingdom come.

Cops, desperate to justify the shooting, bully the dead man’s girlfriend, still in shock from learning of his death, first trying to get her say that her boyfriend had the gun when he arrived at Walmart, then accusing her of drug use, and also threatening her, “You lie to me and you might be on your way to jail.” You can watch a small piece of this disgusting interrogation here:

A grand jury convenes. Need I tell you the outcome? Right. The grand jury decides the police were “justified” in ending the young man’s life. 

If you’re from Ohio, you already know this story. It’s been in local papers, including the Dayton Daily News, and others for weeks. But although the shooting has had some television airtime and some play in The Guardian and The Huffington Post, similar events in Missouri and New York, with bigger media presence, have drowned out the story for most of the rest of the nation.

So here’s another dead body to add to the growing mound of young black corpses, on top of the second corpse within a few miles of Ferguson.

The rage in America is growing. Keep it up, cops. Get just a little more trigger happy and we all might get stuck with a full blown revolution on our hands. The American revolution started with the “justified shooting” by British law enforcement that resulted in the Boston Massacre. Study the history or repeat it. Police and prosecutors seem hellbent on making sure the latter happens.

And with that said, Merry Christmas. I suppose.

Cross-posted at The New York Crank

Christmas Exceptionalism

Away from a manger. Nicolas Poussin, La Nourriture de Jupiter (1636-37). Wikimedia Commons.
"Biblical theologian" Scott Hahn, author of Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does) (2014), doing a book tour interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO in that curious style of hers, where she always seems to be working backwards, taking a prepared text and interpolating questions into it:
LOPEZ: Why is it important to notice that Jesus “doesn’t behave like a conventional hero”?
HAHN: Jesus’ story is so much a part of us that we no longer notice its strangeness. I hope, with this book, to help people to forget the intervening millennia for a few moments and see the first Noel as it was. Jesus was power made perfect through weakness, as Saint Paul said. He learned obedience through suffering. And that was true from the first instant of his incarnation. His way was not the way of the gods and epic heroes of antiquity. We need to recover a sense of amazement at the humility of God, who allowed himself to be swaddled and diapered, hunted like an animal, and hidden like contraband.
Well, though, just one of the all-time biggest gods of antiquity was Zeus, whose babyhood ought to be fairly familiar to some of our older readers. He was born in a cave on Mount Ida in Crete, where his mother immediately abandoned him, not because she didn't love him but to prevent his father from eating him (a careless feeder, Cronos swallowed the baby-sized stone in swaddling clothes she gave him instead without realizing he'd been tricked). Instead of his own mother he was suckled in the cave by a she-goat, while a troupe of Dactyls, dancing shamans, banged their drums and clashed their cymbals so that Cronos would not hear his cries, which must have played hell with the infant's sleep schedule. If that's not hunted like an animal and hidden like contraband I don't know what is.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


That's it for me for the year -- I'll be away till the first. Thanks for reading, commenting, and arguing. It's been a dispiriting year in a lot of ways -- let's hope next year is better. While I'm gone, the regular relief crew will be here, so stop by. See you on January 1. Happy holidays....

So maybe now it's a recovery for the rest of us:
The U.S. economy roared into overdrive in the third quarter as consumer and business spending fueled the biggest expansion in more than a decade.

Gross domestic product grew at a 5 percent annual rate from July through September, the biggest advance since the third quarter of 2003 and up from a previously estimated 3.9 percent, revised figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 75 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 4.3 percent increase in GDP....
It's been a recovery for the wheeler-dealers for a long time now. Here's the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the past five years:

And yet the wheeler-dealers have spent the Obama years sulking:

Well, you can lump them in with the cop unions and intelligence professionals, who've decided lately that they get an inadequate amount of respect, a word that, to them, means "unquestioning deference."

Charlie Pierce is right to say that revolt within the intelligence and cop communities is a threat to our political system:
For the past two weeks, on two different fronts, we have been confronted with the unpleasant fact that there are people working in the institutions of our self-government who believe themselves not only beyond the control and sanctions of the civil power, but also beyond the control and sanctions of their direct superiors.... In Washington, John Brennan, the head of the CIA, came right up to the edge of insubordination against the president who hired him in the wake of the Senate report on American torture. Meanwhile, in New York, in the aftermath of weeks of protests against the strangulation of Eric Garner by members of the New York Police Department, two patrolmen, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were murdered in their squad car by a career criminal and apparent maniac named Ismaaiyl Brinsley. In response, ... the NYPD is acting in open rebellion against Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, and the civil power he represents over them. This is an incredibly perilous time for democracy at the most basic levels....

It is very simple. If the CIA is insubordinate to the president, whom the country elected, then it is insubordinate to all of us. If the NYPD runs a slow-motion coup against the freely elected mayor of New York, then it is running a slow-motion coup against all the people of New York. There is no exemption from this fundamental truth about the way this country and its system is supposed to work.
It's dangerous that we're losing sight of the basic notion that these people work for us, not the other way around. But we're also surrendering to the notion that we get by in America (or fail to) at the whim of Wall Street and corporate chieftains -- the misnamed "job creators" -- rather than the other way around. The rich don't like regulation, don't like taxation, and don't want us questioning those preferences. Generally, we don't.

In each case, we fearfully defer to the powerful because we think the powerful have the power of life and death over us. And the powerful take it as their due.

A lot of people are reading Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush's Politico piece "De Blasio's Nightmare." It's not a bad piece, but this is really misleading (emphasis added):
The blue rage isn't rooted in any one statement de Blasio has made against cops -- in fact, he has been universally supportive of the rank-and-file in his public utterances. But in his past roles as a public official, he's often sided with the victims of police brutality, and recently told an interviewer that he has told Dante, his teenaged mixed-race son, not to reach for a cellphone around officers because it might put him in danger as a "a young man of color." He took the unusual step -- unimaginable under the mayoralties of Rudy Giuliani or Michael Bloomberg -- of inviting Sharpton to City Hall, seating him opposite Bratton at a table where the activist proceeded to strongly denounce the police.
Haberman and Thrush are trying to portray Bloomberg and Giuliani as two responsible conservatives who were at odds with Sharpton, while de Blasio is a dangerous radical who hobnobs with him. In fact, while Sharpton was highly critical of Bloomberg on issues such as stop and frisk, the two have had a rather cozy relationship.

That was true starting immediately after Bloomberg was elected:
Two days after he'd squeaked past Mark Green in 2001, Bloomberg gripped and grinned with the Reverend Al Sharpton at a dinner for 100 Black Men. It seemed to be a chance encounter, two prominent New Yorkers at the same event, but in fact it was a highly staged handshake, choreographed by Bloomberg himself to send a message: He was no Rudy Giuliani, who fought first and talked later, if at all. The city was once again being run by a mature adult. Bloomberg made sure a photographer was present, and the next morning the shot was on the front page of the Post.
That was from a 2009 article in New York magazine, which went on to say,
Sharpton appreciated Bloomberg's early gesture of respect, as well as the ongoing efforts by the mayor and his staff to keep the lines of communication open. Recently, Sharpton has become partners with Joel Klein in an initiative to close the performance gap between white and black and Latino schoolkids, further drawing him into Bloomberg's orbit.
(Klein at the time was Bloomberg's schools chancellor. He later went on to work for News Corp and was subsequently described as Rupert Murdoch's "consigliere.")

Here's Mayor Bloomberg at a Martin Luther King Day celebration at Sharpton's National Action Network in 2002:
... just past 1:30 p.m. the Rev. Al Sharpton ... eagerly greeted Mr. Bloomberg and escorted him to a celebration overflowing with people and cheers. Once inside the headquarters of his political organization, the National Action Network, Mr. Sharpton announced he was taking off his ring, so no one could say that Mr. Bloomberg had come to the event simply to kiss it.
Here are Bloomberg and Sharpton appearing together (with Newt Gingrich) after meeting with President Obama to discuss education in 2009.

Here's a Bloomberg-Sharpton joint press release from 2012:
"In December 2010, we travelled together to the Finger Lakes Residential Center in Tompkins County to highlight the broken status quo that is New York State’s juvenile justice system. Today, Governor Cuomo has answered the call with a bold proposal to fix it and New Yorkers should rally around his plan...."
Here's Sharpton defending Bloomberg's gun control crusade in 2013, and claiming that Bloomberg's pro-gun critics were motivated by anti-Semitism.

And, after Bloomberg left office, here's a Daily News story about Sharpton's sixtieth birhday celebration:
Three-term former Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote: "You're truly a unique American voice. A voice that has matured a great deal without mellowing one bit. And your best days are still ahead."
The story adds:
Sharpton stayed quiet about Bloomberg's decision to overturn term limits after he received a $110,000 grant from the mayor's nonprofit, the Daily News reported at the time.
Yes -- when Bloomberg got New York City's term limits law suspended so he could run for a third term in 2009, he threw Sharpton a six-figure check, and Sharpton didn't object to Bloomberg's run.

So please don't suggest to me that de Blasio's immediate predecessor regarded Sharpton as beyond the pale.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Now that commentators such as Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki, former New York police commissioner Howard Safir, and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president Patrick Lynch have declared unequivocally that "anti-police rhetoric" is responsible for the murder of two officers over the weekend, I wonder if their ire extends to the many conservatives who expressed outrage when Officer Daniel Pantaleo wasn't indicted in the Eric Garner chokehold case. Do they believe the following people also have blood on their hands?

Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox News:
I have seen a videotape of the incident and it reveals probable cause to show that the police officer used grossly excessive force on a non-violent, non-threatening person. It also reveals he cried and screamed for help because by compacting his chest, his breathing was impaired. The police did nothing to save his live; yet they accelerated his death needlessly. On the basis of the tape alone, I have a clean conscience making such an assertion that an indictment was warranted.
Charles Krauthammer:
From looking at the video, the grand jury's decision here is totally incomprehensible. It look as if at least they might've indicted him on something like involuntary manslaughter at the very least. The guy actually said, "I can't breathe," which ought to be a signal that-- and the guy was unarmed....
Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.):

Sean Davis at The Federalist:
So an officer used a banned practice that is known to lead to the deaths of people who are subjected to it? That certainly seems to satisfy the second condition of a second-degree manslaughter charge. And again, I have to stress that the entire incident was caught on tape. The evidence is unequivocal. And yet, no indictment....

John Edwards was right: there are Two Americas. There’s an America where people who kill for no legitimate reason are held to account, and there's an America where homicide isn't really a big deal as long as you play for the right team.

Unfortunately Eric Garner was a victim in the second America, where some homicides are apparently less equal than others.
John Nolte of Breitbart:

Leon Wolf of RedState:
This decision is really and truly baffling to me, and infuriating besides. I understand the vast majority of cops are good at their jobs and conscientious about protecting the civil rights of citizens. But there are without a doubt bad cops who make bad decisions and when they do so from a position of authority the damage they can do is exponentially worse.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
I mean, there is no excuse that I can think of for choking a man to death for selling illegal cigarettes. This is about cigarettes. This isn't a violent confrontation. This isn't a threat that anybody has reported, a threat of someone being killed. This is someone being choked to death. We have it on video with the man pleading for his life. There is no excuse for that I can even contemplate or imagine right now.
National Review's Charles C.W. Cooke:

Second-guessing the cops! Accusing Pantaleo of brutality! Questioning the decision to enforce the law against selling untaxed cigarettes! Aren't these people effectively guilty of murder, too? Well?

That would be the same Allen West who, when he was elected to his one congressional term in 2010, announced that his chief of staff would be Joyce Kaufman. Kaufman was a right-wing talk radio host who a few months earlier had said at a political rally:
... I don't care how this gets painted by the mainstream media, I don't care if this shows up on YouTube, because I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment.

And if ballots don't work, bullets will.
(Go to 5:58 in the video below.)

After this and other statements got negative media attention, Kaufman turned down the job.

And then, of course, there's West himself, who told the audience at a rally in 2010 just what kind of campaign would result in victory against incumbent Ron Klein:
"Let me tell you what you've got to do," said West, a retired lieutenant colonel. "You've got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house. That's the only way that you're going to win. That's the only way you're going to get these people's attention."

Yeah, that's the guy you want on TV discussing the evils of "mobocracy."

John Cole writes:
Put Up or Shut Up

Since the right wing and members of the media have decided to blame everyone but the god damned shooter for the murder of two policemen in NYC, a phrase keeps popping up over and over and over again- "anti-police rhetoric." Here is a prime example:
We have seen nothing but police bashing from some of the highest offices in the land....

When Ismaaiyl Abdulah Brinsley brutally executed Officers Ramos and Liu he did so in an atmosphere of permissiveness and anti-police rhetoric unlike any that I have seen in 45 years in law enforcement. The rhetoric this time is not from the usual suspects, but from the Mayor of New York City, the Attorney General of the United States, and even the President. It emboldens criminals and sends a message that every encounter a black person has with a police officer is one to be feared....
No one, however, provides any examples of this so-called anti-police rhetoric. It's just there, like phlogiston or the Supreme Court's definition of pornography or the Lord Jeebus's undying love for you. You can't pin it down, you can't point to a concrete example of it- well, except for the doctored Fox news video of Al Sharpton. It’s just an article of faith. It's there, and you just have to believe to see it.

Putting aside the fact that "anti-police rhetoric" is a phrase that has rocketed into prominence faster than anything I can remember since the Dick Cheney “gravitas” chorus of 2000, I would like to see some of this so-called anti-police rhetoric. So put up or shut up. Show me some anti-police rhetoric from Obama, Holder, etc. I’d love to see exactly what is off limits....
Bob Hardt of local news station NY1 confirms what Cole writes in the case of Mayor de Blasio:
Just a few hours after two police officers were fatally gunned down by a deranged madman, Pat Lynch, the head of the police union was playing a dangerous blame game.

Noting that "there's blood on many hands tonight", Lynch added: "That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor."

... I pored carefully through the many transcripts issued by the mayor's office this year and there's not a single bad word about the police in there. The mayor's foes have fixated on one thing -- de Blasio's story that he has cautioned his bi-racial son to be careful around the police.

One out-of-town journalist asked me for the original transcript of de Blasio's remarks which he made on the day that a grand jury declined to indict anyone in the Eric Garner case, assuming the mayor said something quite incendiary. The strongest language comes when the mayor praises his teen-age son as "a good young man, a law-abiding young man, who would never think to do anything wrong, and yet, because of a history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face -- we've had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him."

That's the call to arms against the NYPD?
But, see, that's too much. Asserting that young black males are detained by the police far more often than young white males is too much, even though it's a statement of plain, unambiguous fact. Asserting that stop-and-frisk as implemented in the Bloomberg years was a policy that warranted reconsidering -- in de Blasio's mayoral campaign, that was too much. There is simply no such thing as acceptable constructive criticism of police practices. There are no bad police policies. There are no bad cops. No cop ever deserves to be indicted. Any claim that any cop or any police department has every done anything wrong is a full-frontal assault on law enforcement.

This works exactly like criticizing America. Since the beginning of his presidency, Barack Obama has been accused of being on an "apology tour." In 2009, when the Heritage Foundation listed Obama's "Top 10 Mistakes," they included such statements as "We have not been perfect" (in reference to relations with the Muslim world) and "potentially we've made some mistakes" (in reference to torture revelations). You can't even say those things. It's not allowed.

Oh, and:
Another Heritage example is a speech Obama gave in April 2009 to the Turkish parliament, in which he was trying to urge that country to come to terms with its tragic history with the Armenians: "The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution."
That's right -- you're not even allowed to say that slavery was a mistake. (Or at least not if you're a Democrat -- George W. Bush made a similar point in a 2003 speech in Senegal, and no one complained.)

Obama is supposed to say that (in the words of Fox's Andrea Tantaros) "America is awesome."
"The United States of America is awesome. We are awesome, but we've had this discussion" about torture, Tantaros said. She lamented, "the reason they want to have this discussion is not to show how awesome we are;" rather, "this administration wants to have this discussion to show us how we're not awesome." This is because "they apologized for this country, they don't like this country, they want us to look bad. And all this does is have our enemies laughing at us, that we are having this debate again."
De Blasio is supposed to say that the cops are awesome. Any criticism of any kind is an attempt to destroy law enforcement. It's not permitted. Period.

Oh, and the polemic quoted by John Cole above? It's by Howard Safir -- the worst of Rudy Giuliani's three police commissioners, the one who was in charge when Abner Louima was instrumentally sodomized in a precinct house and Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond were killed by cops. It disgusts me that he's not ashamed to show his face in public.

On Friday, Chris Christie responded to the Cuba thaw:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is urging President Obama to demand that Cuba return convicted police-killer Joanne Chesimard before he proceeds with efforts to improve diplomatic relations with that country.

Chesimard was found guilty of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973 before escaping from prison and fleeing to Cuba. The 67-year-old Chesimard has since been provided safe haven by the Cuban government.

“Cuba’s provision of safe harbor to Chesimard by providing political asylum to a convicted cop killer ... is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police,” Christie wrote. “I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government.”

Christie, a Republican, sent the letter to Obama on Friday....

The FBI has designated Chesimard (aka Assata Shakur) as a domestic terrorist....
Because the trooper was shot in Jersey, this is a local story for Christie -- but please note that Christie was the first presidential aspirant to mention Chesimard because Marco Rubio left the issue on the table for him. Last week, Rubio was all over the media talking about Cuba. He had the floor. He could have beaten Christie to this and made Christie appear to be saying, "Me, too." And it would have been good politics -- remember that the Republican base always thinks the radicals of the late sixties and early seventies are on the verge of making a major comeback and subjugating all True Patriots; when GOP base voters have nightmares, they look like the Chesimard story:
Assata Olugbala Shakur (née JoAnne Deborah Byron ... ), whose married name was Chesimard, ... is an African-American activist, escaped convicted murderer, and member of the former Black Panther Party (BPP) and Black Liberation Army (BLA)....

In May 1973, Shakur was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike, for which she was accused of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and grievously assaulting Trooper James Harper....

Shakur was incarcerated in several prisons in the '70s. She escaped from prison in 1979 and has been living in Cuba, in political asylum, since 1984....

In 1998, Shakur referred to herself as a "20th century escaped slave." ...
(The right is looking at this weekend's police murders and thinking that that era's radicalism has made a complete comeback, instead of seeing one mentally unstable guy responding to anti-cop anger.)

Fox's Greg Gutfeld and Townhall's Katie Pavlich were talking about Chesimard the day after Obama made his announcement on the subject of Cuba normalization. So why didn't Rubio pounce?

Well, maybe because Chesimard was the step-aunt and godmother of Tupac Shakur -- a favorite rapper of Rubio's, according to a 2013 BuzzFeed interview. Oops!

Opportunity missed....

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Ross Douthat looks at the North Korea situation and sees it as an extension of "political correctness":
OF course it had to escalate this way. We live in a time of consistent gutlessness on the part of institutions notionally committed to free speech and intellectual diversity, a time of canceled commencement invitations and C.E.O.s defenestrated for their political donations, a time of Twitter mobs, trigger warnings and cringing public apologies. A time when journalists and publishers tiptoe around Islamic fundamentalism, when free speech is under increasing pressure on both sides of the Atlantic, when a hypersensitive political correctness has the whip hand on many college campuses.

So why should anyone be remotely surprised that Kim Jong-un decided to get in on the "don't offend me" act?

... the demand that "The Interview" be withdrawn because it treats North Korea disrespectfully -- as it most certainly does -- isn’t all that different from the arguments behind the various speech codes that have proliferated in Europe and Canada of late, exposing people to fines and prosecution for speaking too critically about the religions, cultures and sexual identities of others.

Nor is it all that different from the arguments used in the United States to justify canceling an increasing number of commencement speakers -- including Condoleezza Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christine Lagarde — when some hothouse-flower campus activists decided they couldn't bear to sit and hear them. Or the mentality that forced out the C.E.O. and co-founder of Mozilla, Brendan Eich, when it was revealed that he had once donated money to a ballot initiative that opposed same-sex marriage. Or the free-floating, shape-shifting outrage that now pervades the Internet, always looking for some offensive or un-P.C. remark to fasten on and furiously attack -- whether the perpetrator is a TV personality or some unlucky political staffer, hapless and heretofore obscure....
This is idiotic, of course -- The Interview was pulled from theaters because people believed, rationally or not, that moviegoers might be killed, not because we didn't want Kim Jong Un's feelings to be hurt.

But if Douthat is going to defend any speech that leads others to say, "Don't offend me," should we assume that he's going to rush to the defense of President Obama, Mayor de Blasio, and Reverend Al Sharpton in the wake of yesterday's police shootings in New York?

None of these people have called for violence against cops. All of them have merely questioned the nature of police-community relations, to varying degrees. And yet we have former police commissioner Bernie Kerik and former NYPD detective Bo Dietl on Fox, where they're regular commentators, calling for the mayor's resignation. We have 47,000 people so far signing this online petition demanding de Blasio's resignation. We have Patrick Lynch, head of New York's Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, saying, "There's blood on many hands tonight," and adding, "That blood on the hands starts at City Hall in the office of the mayor."

And we have former mayor Rudy Giuliani blaming the murders primarily on President Obama:
"We've had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police," Giuliani said during an appearance on Fox News on Sunday.
Incidentally, there were eleven New York City police officers killed by gunfire in the line of duty from January 1994 through the end of 2001, when Giuliani was mayor. For instance, there was Offier Gerald Louis Carter, on July 31, 1998:
Officer Gerard Carter died after being shot while looking for a juvenile for whom he had a warrant.

Officer Carter and his partner were sitting in a marked police van outside of a housing project when the suspect approached them and shot him in the temple.
I don't recall anyone demanding that Giuliani resign because of this death or any other deaths of police officers.

So, um, Ross? Condi Rice helped give us a war that ruined countless lives and drained billions from America's coffer. Angry protesters prevented her from giving one (1) speech. Angry people right now want to deprive de Blasio of his job for deaths that aren't his fault -- why the hell would a convicted felon from Georgia by way of Baltimore decide that the deciding factor in his cop murder was the imprimatur of a politician? So Ross, you're going to call these angry people a PC mob trying to silence through intimidation, aren't you? Or do you think it's OK in this case?

Saturday, December 20, 2014


I'm angry about the deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and a lot of other blacks who didn't survive encounters with cops, but the ambush murder of two cops in cold blood is a reprehensible response. And if the New York Daily News is correct, it's the work of gangsters just posturing as political:
Two NYPD cops were executed Saturday after a gang member from Baltimore trekked to Brooklyn to kill police officers in a twisted bid to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, sources told the Daily News.

The shooter -- identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley -- boasted about wanting to murder cops in the hours before he ambushed the officers outside the Tompkins Houses in Bedford-Stuyvesant around 2:45 p.m....

Paramedics brought Brinsley out on a stretcher and were performing CPR. But the killer, a reputed member of the gang "Black Guerilla Family," was later pronounced dead...
Two weeks ago, the head of New York's Sergeants Benevolent Association was reporting a threat from the BGF:

However (hat tip Yastreblyansky), the threat was deemed not credible:
Baltimore cops, not New York City officers, are the ones who may be targeted by the Black Guerilla Family prison and street gang, the [Staten Island] Advance has learned.

New York City cops on Saturday were rattled after a missive warned that an undercover officer had forwarded a "credible threat to Detectives assigned to Homicide Section" that "10 BGF members (Black Gorilla Family) have begun preparing to shoot an on duty police officer."

On Sunday, however, the NYPD's press office put a pin in that warning with the following statement:

"The threat information referenced in a recent news story relates to another East Coast City and does not make reference to New York City or its police. While we are aware of the information, it is not deemed to be a credible, specific threat to NYPD personnel. We continue to monitor and investigate any threat information as it surfaces. We will continue to advise all members of the service of any credible information relating to officer safety."

Another statement from the NYPD press office maintained that information about the threat "was based on an anonymous 911 call placed to a police department outside of New York on November 25, 2014."
A radical group called the Black Guerrilla Family was formed in the 1960s. The Daily News says this is the same gang:
The cold-blooded cop-hater who gunned down two police officers in Brooklyn on Saturday is suspected of being a member of a notorious prison gang that has declared open season on the NYPD.

Detectives were headed to Baltimore on Saturday night to probe Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s ties to the Black Guerrilla Family, sources told the Daily News.

One source said Baltimore police were already investigating Brinsley’s connection to the gang, which started in California’s San Quentin Prison in the 1960s by Black Panther member George Jackson.

“BGF has been talking about getting back at cops for Eric Garner and Ferguson,” a source told The News, citing intelligence intercepted in Baltimore area prisons.
But the gang just seems like a group of common crminals. Here's a 2010 story from the Baltimore Sun:
Baltimore officials suspended more than $1 million in city funds for anti-violence programs Monday after workers at a West Baltimore community center that has received taxpayer dollars were accused of operating a front for gang activities.

Federal authorities indicted 13 people on heroin distribution charges, including at least two who were employees of Communities Organized to Improve Life Inc., or COIL, a nonprofit organization that runs adult literacy programs and other outreach services, according to court records and officials.

The employees, Todd Duncan and Ronald Scott, were key players in a heroin distribution ring, and their work as youth counselors with the nonprofit group was part of a continuing effort by a notorious gang, the Black Guerrilla Family, to extend its reach and create the appearance of legitimacy, authorities allege....
Another Sun story, from 2013:
Baltimore police, prosecutors and federal agents launched a massive strike against the Black Guerrilla Family gang this week, after indicting 48 suspects in an alleged eight-year campaign of drug dealing and violence that claimed 10 lives.

The breadth of the coordinated operation reflects the growing concern over the BGF's role on the streets of Baltimore. Authorities say the one-time prison gang is using force and intimidation to take control of neighborhoods drug corner by drug corner....
The shootings are awful, and the backlash to the shootings is already bad. From the Sergeants Benevolent Assiociation:

And from former governor George Pataki (now apparently deleted, but still up here):

In right-wing comments sections, messages like "It's lynching time!" are showing up.

Fox's Eric Bolling is blaming Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan and -- yes, I'm serious -- Samuel L. Jackson for good measure:

If you force-fed the Fox News audience paranoia-inducing controlled substances for three days straight, this is precisely the scenario they'd hallucinate: members of an inner-city drug gang acts as violent agents of progressive revenge against the forces of law and order. This is what they thought the New Black Panthers were.

Al Sharpton has condemned the shooting, but every right-winger in America thinks he effectively pulled the trigger.

Now, maybe Yastreblyansky is right about the reported gang connection:

But if it's real, I'd expect (and Fox watchers would not expect) the FBI in cooperation with Baltimore and New York authorities (yes, Bill de Blasio, too) to bring the hammer down on this gang. Would you have a problem with that? I wouldn't.

I don't think it'll save de Blasio's career, however. He is now going national as the second-biggest right-wing Antichrist in America, after President Obama. They're going to destroy him. And, frankly, if he somehow fails to be protected from an attack on his life in the near future, I won't be the least bit surprised.

It look as if our right-wing pals have the relationship between government aid and motivation to work exactly wrong:
It is a simple idea supported by both economic theory and most people's intuition: If welfare benefits are generous and taxes high, fewer people will work. Why bother being industrious, after all, if you can get a check from the government for sitting around -- and if your choice to work means that much of your income will end up in the tax collectors’ coffers?

Here's the rub, though: The idea may be backward.

Some of the highest employment rates in the advanced world are in places with the highest taxes and most generous welfare systems, namely Scandinavian countries. The United States and many other nations with relatively low taxes and a smaller social safety net actually have substantially lower rates of employment.

... In short, more people may work when countries offer public services that directly make working easier, such as subsidized care for children and the old; generous sick leave policies; and cheap and accessible transportation.
Unfortunately, this won't change soon, because our system is rapidly losing interest in trying to do what's right for a broad range of citizens. We don't seem to want more people to work in America -- not if the rich people who run the economy are thriving while labor-force participation rates are lower. And conservative politicians, of course, actually benefit from being able to point to the unemployed while condemning their alleged shiftlessness.

What our fat cats really seem to want -- or at least the most politically active among them -- is for America to be a Third World country with a small-to-nonexistent safety net and a desperate, low-paid labor force. That fits Randian Republicans' view that laissez-faire equals freedom!, and also fits conservative Christians' view that economic inequality is God's plan, His way of sorting out the morally deserving and undeserving here on earth.

Meanwhile, we have a social safety net that seems almost ideally structured for right-wing sermons about the evils of safety nets in general: It's extensive (and expensive) enough to seem like horrible "socialism" to people who have no idea what socialism really is, and thus its failings, which are the result of inadequacy, can seem like failings resulting from excess generosity. And the safety net is unlikely to change until liberals or (more likely) conservatives achieve total dominance in our government. Until then, we're stuck at this level.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Deadline reports that George Clooney tried to get Hollywood to rally around Sony Pictures, to no avail:
... The most powerful people in Hollywood were so fearful to place themselves in the cross hairs of hackers that they all refused to sign a simple petition of support that Clooney and his agent, CAA's Bryan Lourd, circulated to the top people in film, TV, records and other areas. Not a single person would sign....

DEADLINE: You said you won't name names, but how many people were asked and refused to sign?

CLOONEY: It was a fairly large number. Having put together telethons where you have to get all the networks on board to do the telethon at the same time, the truth is once you get one or two, then everybody gets on board. It is a natural progression. So here, you get the first couple of people to sign it and ... well, nobody wanted to be the first to sign on. Now, this isn't finger-pointing on that. This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made....
Clooney's instincts were right, because a big part of the problem is that Sony is isolated on this. Things could have been different if others in the industry had been willing to stand up and say, in effect, "I am Spartacus." But that didn't happen.

All this made me think about what happened when violence and threats of violence arose in the early 1990s in response to the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses. Viking Penguin published the American hardcover edition and kept it in print, but the publisher balked at putting out the paperback. It was proposed that the paperback should be published jointly by a number of publishers and other groups, but, as The New York Times reported at the time, that didn't happen, and the paperback was published essentially anonymously:
An anonymous group calling itself the Consortium is publishing a paperback edition of Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses," with the book scheduled to be in stores before the end of the month.

A spokesman for the group, who spoke on condition of remaining unidentified, would not say who was financing the publication, who was part of the group or who would receive any profits the book earned....

There had been much debate about organizing a conglomerate of publishers and human rights groups to bring out a paperback "Satanic Verses." Supporters said that the threat would be defused under such an arrangement and that publishers had an obligation to be defiant in the face of threats against freedom of speech. But some people in the industry disagreed, saying that the hard-cover "Satanic Verses" was widely available and that they could not afford to jeopardize the safety of their employees for the sake of a paperback edition.
In that situation, of course, the threats of violent retaliation were not idle:
The Japanese translator of the book was murdered last year and the Italian translator was severely wounded in attacks that are believed to have been carried out by people fulfilling the Iranian decree.
And in America, there were bomb attacks on two bookstores.

As Rushdie has noted in his memoir, Joseph Anton, he got backup from one publishing executive, George Craig, then the head of HarperCollins. Craig provided money for a first printing and other assistance, albeit anonymously -- but the Consortium was just Rushdie himself along with his American and British agents.

(A paperback of The Satanic Verses is now widely available from Rushdie's current publisher, Random House.)


I see that wingnut blogger Moe Lane is saying that what's happening now is a vast liberal conspiracy of cowardice -- Hollywood, the Obama administration, trial lawyers who are advising theater owners that they could be held legally liable if anyone were to be injured or killed at a screening of The Interview (yes, trial lawyers are to blame for making that simple statement of fact). Reading Lane's post makes me want to ask: So where are all the brave right-wingers in all this?

Take Rick Santorum. He's a foreign policy hard-liner who now runs a Christian film studio. Why doesn't he offer to take The Interview off Sony's hands so he can release it? Where's his patriotic courage?

For that matter, why doesn't the most prominent conservative in Hollywood -- Rupert Murdoch -- show us his intestinal fortitude and grit? He has the Hollywood connections, and he has enough money to indemnify every theater in America that's willing to show the movie. He's an octogenarian who's lived a full, excellent life -- why doesn't he just offer to take the movie on and dare the North Koreans to hurt him?

And if he doesn't want to put employees of Fox in the crosshairs, why doesn't he put together a consortium of right-wingers to release the movie? Murdoch, Santorum ... who else? Breitbart Media? The Sarah Palin Channel? The Glenn Beck media empire? Maybe Ted Nugent wants to host some screenings? Or Nick Searcy? Or the Duck Dynasty guys?

You right-wingers are all really brave, right? That's what you keep telling us. Well, so far you've got a lot less backbone than George Clooney, a liberal you despise. So what are you waiting for? Show us what you're made of.

A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that the public's feelings about Obamacare are more changeable than most people think:
Public Easily Swayed On Attitudes About Health Law, Poll Finds

... minimal follow-up information can have a major effect on their viewpoint, the poll found.

For example, when people who support the "employer mandate" were told that employers might respond to the requirement by moving workers from full-time to part time, support dropped from 60 percent to 27 percent. And when people who disapprove of the policy were told that most large employers will not be affected because they already provide insurance, support surged to 76 percent.

Opinion also remains malleable about the requirement for most people to have health insurance – the so-called "individual mandate."

It remains among the least popular aspects of the law – with just a 35 percent approval rating. But when people are told that the mandate doesn't affect most Americans because they already have coverage through an employer, support jumps to 62 percent. Conversely, when supporters are told that the requirement means some people might have to purchase insurance "they find too expensive or don’t want," opposition grows from 64 percent to 79 percent....
Think Progress responds to this with a cheery headline: "The More People Are Told About Obamacare, The More They Like It." That's not really true -- the big shifts in opinion go both ways. That's for an obvious reason: The law is complicated. People have busy lives and haven't studied it, so when they're told something new about it, it's no surprise that they might change their minds.

But that's been the problem for President Obama and congressional Democrats: Republicans and their media allies have done an excellent job of getting out detailed negative information on Obamacare (accurate or otherwise), while the president, Democrats, and the progressive media have done a lousy job of getting out detailed positive information. In fact, you could say that the worst thing about Nancy Pelosi's "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it" soundbite is not that it described a strategy of concealment (it didn't), but that it described a surrender in the messaging wars -- what Pelosi was saying, in effect, was that Democrats couldn't possibly out-message Republicans while the bill was making its way through Congress, so they weren't even going to try. And they didn't try very hard afterward, either.

And that's why Obamacare is unpopular, even though people don't really understand it: There was a message war, and Republicans won in a rout. I disagree with Jonathan Bernstein's take on this poll:
What this tells us is that we should approach claims about public opinion and health care reform with caution. Saying "Obamacare polls badly" or "the individual provisions of the ACA other than the individual mandate poll well" isn't the same as saying "Obamacare is unpopular" ...

It's likely, though still not certain, that most people just don't have opinions about either the program or its various parts. That's normal; most of us don’t bother to form real opinions about many things, even though we are willing to answer polling questions.
Sorry, but no -- Obamacare is unpopular. People have opinions about it; those opinions can be changed, but the handful of Obamacare skeptics who sat through this Kaiser poll are among the few doubters who've ever had the program's positive aspects explained to them in a forum where they're likely to pay attention. Negative messaging on Obamacare, by contrast, is ubiquitous. (Someone at my office has an anti-Obamacare coffee mug, for crissake.)

Referring to the Kaiser poll, Bernstein adds:
And if these findings are correct, then I'm even more skeptical that it was opposition to Obamacare, and not feelings about President Barack Obama, that drove Republican election gains in 2010 and 2014. Yes, as political scientist Matthew Dickinson mentioned in a recent post, some studies purport to show that Obamacare, specifically, cost Democrats quite a few seats in 2010 (I don't think anyone has run numbers for 2014 yet). But I've been very skeptical of that finding. In particular, it's extremely likely that if Democrats had ignored health care in 2009-2010 some other program would have symbolically done the same work. That is, Republicans would have replaced attacks on Obamacare with additional attacks on the stimulus, bailouts or Dodd-Frank. But really, voters were just reacting to Obama, his job performance and the economy.
Well, yes, the attacks might have been on another Obama program -- because Democrats would have been out-messaged on that program, too.

So how did Obama win in 2012? He won by doing a better job of messaging -- since 1992, Democrats have been pretty good at doing this in presidential campaigns, and only in presidential campaigns. They needed the equivalent of a presidential campaign to sell Obamacare; they needed to have campaign-style rapid-reaction responses to Republican attacks on health care reform. That never happened. And so, on Obamacare public opinion, Republicans won.