Five hundred and sixty thousand dollars. That's what ColorofChange estimates Glenn Beck has cost Fox News since the beginning of the Beck boycott last month. Despite lackluster boycott publicity and the much-ballyhooed 9/12 march on Washington, 62 national advertisers appear to have dropped the show since August. 

Here's the list of who's still hangin' in there 

Lear Capital

Liberty Medical

ExtenZe

News Corp. (The Wall Street Journal)

Rosland Capital

LifeLock

Conservatives for Patient's Rights

Clarity Media Group (The Weekly Standard)

Roche Diagnostics (Accu-Chek Aviva)

Citrix (GoToMeeting)

Merit Financial

Goldline International, Inc

Carbonite

National Review

Gumming Up the Works

Via Jeralyn, I see that Jeffrey Toobin has a long piece in the New Yorker this week about how Barack Obama's post-partisan instincts have run aground on the shoals of the modern Republican Party.  It started with his very first judicial nomination:

On March 17th President Obama nominated David Hamilton, the chief federal district-court judge in Indianapolis, to the Seventh Circuit court of appeals. Hamilton had been vetted with care. After fifteen years of service on the trial bench, he had won the highest rating from the American Bar Association; Richard Lugar, the senior senator from Indiana and a leading Republican, was supportive; and Hamilton’s status as a nephew of Lee Hamilton, a well-respected former local congressman, gave him deep connections. The hope was that Hamilton’s appointment would begin a profound and rapid change in the confirmation process and in the federal judiciary itself.

You can probably guess how this turned out, can't you?  Obama continued nominating people he thought could be quickly confirmed, but then:

But then, as the first White House official put it, “Hamilton blew up.” Conservatives seized on a 2005 case, in which Hamilton ruled to strike down the daily invocation at the Indiana legislature because its repeated references to Jesus Christ violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Hamilton had also ruled to invalidate a part of Indiana’s abortion law that required women to make two visits to a doctor before undergoing the procedure. In June, Hamilton was approved by the Judiciary Committee on a straight party-line vote, twelve to seven, but his nomination has not yet been brought to the Senate floor. Some Republicans have already vowed a filibuster. (Republican threats of extended debate on nominees can stop the Democratic majority from bringing any of them up for votes.)

“The reaction to Hamilton certainly has given people pause here,” the second White House official said. “If they are going to stop David Hamilton, then who won’t they stop?”

Toobin's overall take is that Obama isn't a big fan of relying on the judiciary to accomplish liberal goals.  Obama thinks that's Congress's job, and for that reason he's willing to nominate relative pragmatists to the bench in the hope of avoiding some of the bitter confirmation battles of the Clinton and Bush years.  But he's finding out that it doesn't matter: he could nominate the ghost of John Marshall to the federal appellate court and Republicans would fight to keep him off.  It's good politics, after all, since the more energy the Senate expends on judicial nominees, the less it has for anything else.

This isn't anything new.  Judicial nominations have been a warzone for the past three decades.  But it continues to get worse and worse, and now it's become pathological: nominees are no longer opposed only if they genuinely hold some extreme position disliked by the minority, they're opposed as a matter of course simply as a way to gum up the works.  It's crazy that it should take six months to confirm a routine judgeship, let alone a year or two, but that's the current reality.  Ditto for midlevel bureaucratic positions, all of which take longer to confirm than the high-profile cabinet secretaries they report to.

“Post-partisanship has not yet arrived in judicial selection, or in anything else” says an unnamed Obama advisor at the end of the article.  I hope the rest of his staff has figured this out by now too.

Rick Scott, the former hospital conglomerate executive otherwise known as Public Option Enemy Number 1, has a great blog post up over at the Conservatives for Patients' Rights blog. CPR, which Scott runs, has been buying television ads that he says "[chide] the President that neither his plan nor the plans of Congressional Democrats can guarantee Americans that:"

  • They can keep their current doctor
  • They won't wait longer for care
  • Their health care won't be rationed
  • They can keep the insurance plan they currently have

In Scott's blog post, he very cleverly notes that the White House has not "called out" the ad for misrepresenting the Democrats' health care plans. In his speech last week, President Obama promised to "call out" people who were misrepresenting the health care plan. Since the White House hasn't "called out" CPR, Scott argues, the ad must be accurate.

Here's the thing: the ad is accurate, in a way. "Guarantee" is the key word. Obama and the Democrats can't guarantee any of those things. But that doesn't actually mean anything. No one can guarantee those things. Scott's argument against reform would be true of any bill.

The F-22 Fights On

You've got to hand it to defense contractor Lockheed Martin and its F-22 Raptor fighter jet: The much maligned, headline-grabbing plane will not go away.

The latest news on the F-22 beat is that the Senate is trying to sidestep a decade-old law to allow Lockheed to develop and export a version of the F-22 to be sold outside the US. On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to insert language in its 2010 defense spending bill allowing the DOD to "conduct or participate in studies, research, design and other activities to define and develop an export version of the F-22A." Earlier last week, the same committee agreed to end F-22 production for domestic use at 187 planes after a protracted battle between the Obama administration and lawmakers in Congress on whether to extend the production run of F-22s or not. Lockheed also lobbied hard for continuing F-22 production by citing the number of jobs the plane created nationwide.

The provision, however, will face opposition in the House Appropriations Committee. The committee’s chair, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), authored the ban on exporting F-22s in 1998 for security reasons. According to Congress Daily, countries like Japan, Australia, and Israel are likely buyers for the export version of the F-22, which would not feature secret, US-specific technologies. While the Senate Appropriations Committee vote on exporting F-22s doesn’t outright repeal the ban, the full Senate will consider the idea when it reviews the entire defense spending bill this month. The F-22, it seems, just will not go quietly into the night.

Proving once again that, on the subject of torture, he is America's most important public intellectual (even though he's British), Andrew Sullivan asks former President Bush to atone for the abuses that occured during his presidency. The editors of The Atlantic, to their great credit, put Sullivan's "open letter" on the cover.

It seems obvious that only something of the magnitude of Bush himself publicly apologizing for torture can return torture to what it once was: a non-political issue that's not open for debate. It's surprising that no one's suggested it before. Like a lot of the ideas Sullivan has, it only seems obvious after he's explained it. Anyway, money quote:

The point of this letter, Mr. President, is to beg you to finally take responsibility for this stain on American honor and this burden on a war we must win. It is to plead with you to own what happened under your command, and to reject categorically the phony legalisms, criminal destruction of crucial evidence, and retrospective rationalizations used to pretend that none of this happened. It happened. You once said, "I'm worried about a culture that says … 'If you’ve got a problem blame somebody else.'" I am asking you to stop blaming others for the consequences of decisions you made.

Dan Drezner is unhappy with the Obama administration's decision to slap an import tariff on Chinese tires.  But he admits:

We trade enthusiasts are an excitable lot, however, what with everything leading to falling off cliffs, crossroads being reached, and red zones being breached.  Seven years ago, the allegedly free-trade Bush administration imposed steel tariffs that were found to be WTO-inconsistent.  There was a lot of gnashing of teeth and wailing, yet the world trade system proved to be pretty robust.  So maybe my trade compatriots are exaggerating things a wee bit, yes?  In all likelihood, won't this be resolved via the WTO dispute settlement mechanism about 18 months from now?

Yeah, I was kind of wondering where the WTO was in all of this, too.  Now that China is a member, all this means is that they file a complaint, it grinds slowly through the gears of the trade dispute resolution process, and eventually they either get relief or they don't.  All very civilized.

But Dan offers four reasons why this might be worse than it seems.  Click the link to see what he has to say.  In the end, though, his biggest concern is that unlike Bush's steel tariffs, which were a one-shot deal, this might not be:

With the Obama administration, however, this feels like the tip of the iceberg.  Most of Obama's core constituencies want greater levels of trade protection for one reason (improving labor standards) or another (protecting union jobs)....If I knew this was where the Obama administration would stop with this sort of nonsense, I'd feel a bit queasy but chalk it up to routine trade politics.  When I look at Obama's base, however, quasiness starts turning into true nausea.

Well....I'm not so sure about this.  For starters, the steel tariffs weren't a one-off.  Remember the bra wars?  And unlike the steel decision, that one was quite clearly aimed squarely at the Chinese.  And there was the softwood lumber tariff.  And a few others.  Ending with the almost comical Roquefort cheese duties.

None of which is meant to defend Obama's decision one way or another.  But with advisors like Larry Summers and Austan Goolsbee on staff, I'd be pretty surprised if Obama has turned into some kind of tariff warrior.  Frankly, the tire decision looks to me like a fairly standard payoff to a core constituency, not something that suggests a long-term change in policy.  And just as with Bush's tariffs, my guess is that a white hot Chinese reaction will be quite enough to turn him around even if he did have plans for a more protectionist trade policy.  (Note, for example, that this decision was announced late on Friday, the usual dumping ground for things that you'd just as soon not have to defend very vigorously.)  My guess: China will retaliate, the WTO's gears will grind, and the whole thing will blow over.

The Art of the Scare Ad

"Republicans want to end Medicare," insists the breathless narrator of the ad on the right.  FactCheck.org says it isn't true.  And Megan McArdle asks: "I'd really like to know whether this sort of thing works, or whether it comes across as so ludicrous that people start wondering about the Democrats' sanity."

My guess: yes, it works, and no, no one will be wondering about Dems' sanity.  I mean, when you're competing with "Obama is a socialistfascistcommunistthug," you've got a pretty high bar to cross before you look extreme.  Instead, what I'm curious about is why the DNC bothered with this.  Why not just tell the truth: Republicans essentially voted in favor of turning Medicare over to private industry.  With only a few words of explanation, this could easily be more effective than the ad that actually ran.  Like so:

Republicans voted to turn Medicare over to private insurance companies!  You heard right: they want to hand Medicare over to the same companies that [insert two or three insurance company outrages here, maybe a Wall Street reference, something about profits over people, etc.].  Democrats will never do that.  Blah blah blah.

Would that really be any less scary than the ad that actually ran?  Or is the DNC afraid that the urban legends are true, and everyone thinks Medicare is a private plan already?

If this weekend's big Tea Party rally in DC was any indication, a lot of Americans  believe that Democrats trying to reform health care are secretly plotting a socialist revolution. According to Bloomberg, though, this is nothing new. Health care reform opponents have been stoking fears of socialism during health care debates since at least Franklin Roosevelt's day. The story even digs up a 1961 quote from Ronald Reagan invoking the term—long before he went into politics.

"From here, it’s a short step to all the rest of socialism,” Reagan, then an actor, warned in a 1961 record sponsored by the American Medical Association after President John F. Kennedy created a commission that laid the foundation for Medicare.

There's a reason reform opponents like to throw around charges of socialism: it works. Bloomberg says:

Once the public associates the word “socialism” with a plan, it’s hard to change the impression... In 1945, when Truman addressed Congress about a national insurance plan, 75 percent of Americans supported the proposal. By 1949, after it was targeted by opponents, only 21 percent did, according to a book by former Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.”

Sadly, history seems to be repeating itself. According to a recent poll, since Republicans and others have been invoking socialism to defeat Democratic reform bills, 52 percent of Americans now disapprove of President Obama's handling of health care, up from 28 percent in April.  

Headline of the Day

From the LA Times this morning:

Some fear GOP is being carried to the extreme

All well and good, but it might be a better story if "some" turned out to be more than a grand total of two people.  And even at that, one of the two is David Frum, who's been estranged from the loony bin wing of the party for nearly a year now.  By contrast, the article quotes four people defending the crackpots.  "Some" might indeed fear that the GOP is being carried to extreme, but apparently it's a pretty small movement so far.

Did you know that Sen. Bernie Sanders, the self-described socialist senator from Vermont, has a weekly web video? Well, he does. Later today, President Barack Obama will be on Wall Street talking about the economy and his proposals for regulating the financial sector. The president's speech will be all over cable news; Bernie just gets YouTube. Here are his ideas:

Why all this today? Because today is the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Remember that?