As Mark Sanford's increasingly bizarre effort to turn the South Carolina governor's office into an extension of the Oprah Winfrey show barrels toward its seemingly inevitable conclusion, the Washington Post introduces us to André Bauer, the lieutenant governor who will take over if Sanford resigns:

Bauer, 40, has made a career of running against South Carolina's establishment — and winning. Elected to the state legislature at age 26, he became known as an ambitious politician, rising quickly and winning the state's No. 2 position in 2002.

Yet as lieutenant governor, he has become known as much for his personal behavior as for his political record. In 2003, he was charged with driving 60 mph and running two red lights in downtown Columbia. When pulled over, Bauer was so aggressive that a police officer pulled a gun on him.

In 2006, Bauer was stopped by a state trooper who clocked him driving 101 mph on an interstate highway. He used his state-issued radio to tell the officer he was "S.C. 2" — the code for lieutenant governor — and was not ticketed. Then, weeks later, Bauer was injured when the single-engine airplane he was piloting crashed and burned.

....Over the years, Bauer's romantic life has stirred rumors, the latest bubbling up in recent days. In an interview Monday with the State, a Columbia newspaper, Bauer voluntarily brought up the subject of his sexual orientation. "Is André Bauer gay? That is now the story," the lieutenant governor was quoted as saying, adding his answer: "One word, two letters. 'No.' Let's go ahead and dispel that now."

I live in California, so I can hardly throw stones at another state's dysfunctional politics.  But I can still throw pebbles.  The Palmetto State really knows how to pick 'em, doesn't it?

Time Zone Blues

There are pros and cons to living in the Pacific time zone.  Today, it's all downside.  Apparently Sarah Palin's PAC put out a truly bizarre video on YouTube, but by the time I woke up and got around to watching it, it had already been taken down.  Boo! I want my Sarah!

Descriptions are here, here, and here.  If anyone knows where I can see a bootlegged copy or something, let me know.

UPDATE: Apparently it wasn't SarahPAC that created this video after all.  Just some weird Palin supporter.  More here.

Jonathan Cohn takes a look at the many compromises Barack Obama is making in order to get a healthcare reform bill passed:

Put aside, for a moment, the policy merits of these moves. The politics are lousy. Obama would be in danger of producing legislation that seems to offer little up-front benefit, particularly for the electorally vital middle class. And if some of these people end up paying even modestly higher taxes to help finance reform they're not likely to be happy about it. It's hard to imagine such legislation provoking a backlash that could produce total repeal. It's not so hard to imagine such legislation creating bad political feelings, the kind that linger around until the next Election Day and pave the way for legislative retrenchment later on.

The key to healthcare reform is that it be popular with the public.  The Medicare prescription bill, for example, was generally popular because it provided a clear and concrete benefit.  Broader healthcare reform, however, is going to have a harder time.  If there's no public option, for example, and most people simply keep the employer-based healthcare they already have, then what's the selling point?  Most people will just see higher taxes funding better coverage for the poor, and you don't have to be the world's biggest cynic to understand that this isn't going to be overwhelmingly popular.  Helping the poor is all well and good, but like it or not, most of us want to know what's in it for ourselves if our taxes are going up.  That's just life.

Right now, we're running the risk that the answer is "not much."  Healthcare reform needs a little more obvious sizzle if it's going to survive the coming tsunami of conservative agitprop, and the bills wending their way through Congress don't have much of that left.  Jon is right: it's lousy politics.

From Joe the Plumber's recent interview with WorldNetDaily:

Asked if he has plans to run for public office, he replied, "I hope not. You know, I talked to God about that and he was like, 'No.'"

This breaks God's long streak of telling people they should run for Congress. Thankfully for God, Joe is willing to let God change God's mind:

But Wurzelbacher said he will keep that door open if God ever calls him to be that leader.

(Via ThinkProgress)

 

Fighting over Sarah

Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving.  Todd Purdum's profile in this month's Vanity Fair was a fairly ordinary takedown with only a little in the way of new revelations, but even so it's managed to spark a breathtaking amount of vitriol among Republican operatives.  Jonathan Martin reports on what happened after Bill Kristol accused McCain aide Steve Schmidt of speculating during the campaign that Palin's strange behavior was due to post-partum depression:

Asked about the accusation, Schmidt fired back in an e-mail: “I'm sure John McCain would be president today if only Bill Kristol had been in charge of the campaign.”

“After all, his management of [former Vice President] Dan Quayle’s public image as his chief of staff is still something that takes your breath away,” Schmidt continued. “His attack on me is categorically false.”

Asked directly in a telephone interview if he brought up the prospect of Palin suffering from post-partum depression, Schmidt said: “His allegation that I was defaming Palin by alleging post-partum depression at the campaign headquarters is categorically untrue. In fact, I think it rises to the level of a slander because it’s about the worst thing you can say about somebody who does what I do for a living.”

But Kristol’s charge was seconded by Randy Scheunemann, a longtime foreign policy adviser to McCain who is also close to the Standard editor and was thought to be a Palin ally within the campaign. “Steve Schmidt has a congenital aversion to the truth,” Scheunemann said.

....Responding to Schmidt’s counterattack, Kristol directly fingered Schmidt: “It’s simply a fact that when the going got tough, Steve Schmidt trashed Sarah Palin, both within the campaign and (on background) to journalists. This was after Steve took credit for the Palin pick when, at first, he thought it made him look good. John McCain deserved better.”

At this, Schmidt unloaded in a lengthy telephone interview, suggesting that Kristol was carrying out a personal vendetta based out of anger over the attempt to fire Scheunemann in the final days of the campaign.

There's only one proper response to this: Palin/Sanford 2012!  Drill baby drill!

Getting exercised over the mind-numbing stupidity exhibited each day on the cable news networks is easily avoided. Just turn them off. Read a book. Go for a walk. Do something... anything else. But occasionally they're worth watching (in very small doses), if only for their grim comedic value. Tuesday's Glenn Beck show on Fox News is a case in point. The conservative blowhard spoke with Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA's Bin Laden unit, about Obama's proposed plan to send 1,500 National Guardsman to the US-Mexico border to combat drug smuggling. But the conversation quickly went off course, ultimately ranging from Scheuer's views on gun control (Democrats "want guns only in the hands of the government") to his aggrieved sense of populism. Scheuer, a highly educated guy himself and one who made a career in the elite echelon of the country's intelligence service, derided how the federal government is run by elitists who care nothing for the common man. "Now the minority--those folks who go to Harvard and Yale and the prestigious universities who think they know everything and who want the government to control everything--are in power. The majority of Americans... are generally neglected in terms of security by the minority that runs this government." Music to the ears of Scheuer's Fox audience.

But Scheuer didn't stop there. When Beck brought up Obama's strategy against Al Qaeda, the former CIA man launched into a diatribe you'd expect from Jon Voight's crazy-patriot character on 24, not from America's former chief Bin Laden hunter. The transcript speaks for itself:

Now that Al Franken will soon be seated, the Democrats finally have their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Or do they? Steve Benen says "talk of the Democrats' 'magic number' is misplaced," and points to Joshua Green's argument that, with Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy both in ill-health, the actual logistics of getting sixty Democrats to the Senate floor to cast a vote are still pretty tough (although one imagines that Kennedy might simply will himself there to cast a vote on health care, the cause for which he's worked most of his life). Benen also reminds us that "the 60-seat Democratic caucus includes Ben Nelson. And Joe Lieberman. And Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and their merry band of Blue Dogs," making passing actual liberal legislation difficult.

Also riffing off the problems with getting progressive legislation through Congress, Ezra Klein says that real reform may be simply impossible:

The implicit assumption of these arguments about strategy is that there is, somewhere out there, a workable strategy. That there is some way to navigate our political system such that you enact wise legislation solving pressing problems. But that's an increasingly uncertain assumption, I think.

That may be true. But Democrats should know that it's unlikely that voters—or, for the matter, the mainstream media—will accept any of those excuses. Yes, these things are hard. Barack Obama said so himself, many times, on the campaign trail. But Democrats and liberals are in the most powerful position they've been in at least 30 years, and probably since the Great Society. Senators, including Nelson & Co, are real people with real decision-making abilities. Either they'll fix health care, address the energy crisis, and get the economy moving, or they won't. But pretending that you're going to be able to deflect the blame for not addressing the country's problems when you control both houses of Congress and the White House is folly. It may not be fair, but people expect results. Yes, 60 isn't a magic number. Yes, there are Ben Nelson-types in the caucus. Yes, the entire political system is messed up. Deal with it.

U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Barnett (right) from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, United States Army Europe leads his team up a ridge line during a dismounted patrol near Forward Operation Base Lane, Zabul Province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 26, 2009. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Mancini, U.S. Army. (Released)

There was a coup in Honduras this weekend (the first successful one in Latin America since the end of the Cold War), but if you didn't know about it, you wouldn't be alone. Even if you heard the news, you might not know much else about the ex-banana republic located between Guatemala and Nicaragua. The small Central American nation of Honduras has produced none of the famous musicians or controversial populist demagogues that pique our interest, although deposed president Manuel Zelaya is a close friend of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. But now that President Obama has roundly condemned the coup and pundits are calling it a litmus test fo democracy in the region, there's a few things you might want to know. 

*According  to extensive research, academia, news reports, Honduras hasn't visibly changed much since the days of Yanqui Imperialism. Just to be sure, I called my twin sister, who traveled the whole country by bus while working for Save the Children and said that Dole still has a significant presence, as do Mormon missionaries for whom Honduras is now a number one destination. 

 

Happy July! Can't wait for the 4th so those darn kids will stop setting of fireworks underneath my window. Grrr. Get off my stoop! Anyway, here are the Blue Marblish stories from our other blogs you might have missed. Enjoy.

Medical Myth: Knuckle-cracking is fine, but sugar makes parents hyper-vigilant.

Coaling Down: Coal-state Dems voted against the climate bill, but not as many as you'd think.

Lobbyist Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan: Kazakh government is paying Hill firm in attempt to repudiate their Borat image as anti-Semitic, prostitute-loving, horse-urine drinkers.