Cantor's "Backwards B" Moment.

Via Jed Lewison

Eric Cantor brazenly lied to the national press corps when he claimed his office had been targeted by a gunman in the wake of the passage of health care reform.

No such thing ever happened.

And now he's been busted.

The bullet that hit U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor's campaign office in downtown Richmond early Tuesday was random, Richmond police spokesman Gene Lepley said this morning.

"It is a stray bullet as part of random gunfire," Lepley said. Police said they have no suspects.

Cantor's office declined comment.

This is Cantor's "backwards B" moment. It's Tuzla sniper fire, only worse, because Eric Cantor cried wolf about something that actually matters, all in a pathetic, dishonest attempt to smear Democrats.

The strange thing is that Cantor's story was never really plausible, and he had to know it. The so-called "campaign office" didn't have any visible signs linking it to Cantor. It wasn't even in his congressional district.

Oh, and the capper? Cantor's office wasn't even actually hit by the random bullet. It was a nearby office in the same building where he sometimes does fundraising work.

It might not seem fair or balanced to call Eric Cantor a shameless liar, but it is truthful and accurate. That's what he is. And other than Fox News, the press corps ought to hold him accountable for lying to their faces.

The GOP Response to the Intimidation Campaign Against Democrats


In a press conference Thursday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the spate of threats Democrats have faced over the past few days. Pressed by reporters on whether Republican lawmakers had incited some of those threats, Pelosi offered a measured response. “Words have power. They weigh a ton,” she said. But she also cautioned that crackdowns against such behavior could not impede free speech, and stressed that she didn't want “to paint everyone who was part of the free expression that happened here with the same brush.”

It was a measured response to an intimidation campaign that has been nothing short of appalling. Death threats have poured in to the offices of Louise Slaughter and Bart Stupak. (You can hear what Stupak's dealing with here. It ain't pretty.) A propane line at the home of Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello's brother was slashed, and in a gesture with less-than-subtle symbolism, a coffin was placed on Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan's lawn. More than 100 House Democrats met with representatives from the Capitol Police and FBI on Wednesday, and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said at least 10 Democrats have been given enhanced protection.

Tea Partyers are scrambling to dissociate themselves with the fanatical responses to Sunday's vote. The Tea Party Movement of Florida issued a press release Thursday that repudiated “any person using derogatory characterizations, threats of violence, or disparaging terms towards members of Congress or the President.” Leaders of the Virginia Tea Party group that posted Perriello's brother's address, meanwhile, stated that they did not endorse what had happened.

Republican leaders have taken a different approach. On Wednesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner issued a perfunctory denunciation of the threats: “I know many Americans are angry over this health care bill, and that Washington Democrats just aren't listening,” Boehner said. “But, as I've said, violence and threats are unacceptable.” The comment infuriated Perrello. “I thought it his statement was fairly outrageous,” he said. “Every right-thinking person knows this is over the line. These things have to be called out.”

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor also denounced the threats at a news conference on Thursday. "Let me be clear: I do not condone violence. There are no leaders in this building, no rank and file members in this building that condone violence -- period," Cantor said, noting that his own office had been shot at as well. But then he pivoted, excoriating DNC Chair Tim Kaine and Rep. Chris Van Hollen and arguing it was "reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain." The tactic, he said, was "reprehensible." And in an interview with MSNBC, Republican Sen. John Barrasso flashed the same sort of political pirouette: issuing a strenuous denunciation before lapsing into talking points. "There no cause for this. This is not something that's acceptable," Barrasso said, before launching into an explanation of how Democrats had betrayed Americans by ignoring the will of the majority.

To be fair, no Republican ever endorsed violence as a way to express opposition to health-care reform, and they undoubtedly regret what's happened. On the other hand, many stoked anger over the past few months by employing staggering hyperbole over a document they cast as tyrannical and totalitarian. Boehner, for example, called the vote on the bill “Armageddon,” and said Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus could be a “dead man” in his largely red Cincinnati district. I can understand if he and other Republicans are upset about being grouped with the extremists chucking bricks through windows. But by condemning violence and blasting Democrats in the same breath, Republican leaders implicitly validate the anger spurring these incidents. Instead of defusing the situation, this sort of response escalates it.

NY Congressman Gets Threatening Letter

(Reuters) - The office of Representative Anthony Weiner on Thursday received a threatening letter containing an unidentified white powder, his office said.

"Earlier today an envelope containing white powder and a threatening letter was delivered to my community office in Kew Gardens," the Democratic congressman said in a statement issued by his office.

"My first priority is the safety of my staff and neighbors, and the authorities are currently taking steps to investigate and resolve the situation," he said.

Weiner's office in Kew Gardens, part of the New York City borough of Queens, was closed for investigation.

Authorities were responding to the site, and no other details were immediately available, said FBI spokesman Richard Kolko.

The FBI and police are investigating attacks and threats against Democratic members of Congress who voted for healthcare reform, and a senior House of Representatives Democrat said on Wednesday his colleagues are at risk. Weiner voted in favor of the legislation.

Bricks were tossed through the windows of one member's office, another lawmaker was spat at by a protester on Capitol Hill and another was the target of a racial slur.

The House gave the healthcare measure -- President Barack Obama's top domestic priority -- final congressional approval on Sunday. Obama signed it into law on Tuesday.

Emotions ran high among opponents and supporters during the yearlong debate over the legislation.

Violence Map: A Guide To Recent Vandal Attacks On Democrats


Smashed windows. Threats of violence. A slashed gas line. Reports of vandalism and threats against Democrats have been stacking up over the past few days.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer today estimated that 10 members had been threatened over the health care vote.

So just how bad is it out there?

We decided to make a map of all the instances of vandalism and serious threats against Democrats. Check it out below -- and click the markers for details on each incident. (ed.note: Be sure to zoom in on Ohio.)

Below the map, we round up some other late developments on the threats against Dems.

View Vandalism Surrounding Passage of Health Reform in a larger map

  • Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH), who is on the map above, today said he confronted Minority Leader John Boehner over an interview in which Boehner said Driehaus would be a "dead man" if he voted for the bill. "I think it's really important for folks around here, especially leader Boehner, to understand that his words have consequences," Driehaus said.

  • Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), on the map for an attack on her district office, released a statement pointing the finger at the GOP leadership: "It's more disturbing to me that Republican leadership has not condemned these attacks and instead appears to be fanning the flames with coded rhetoric." Slaughter also said she got a voice mail "referencing snipers."

  • Sarah Palin posted on Facebook a map of her own -- showing cross-hair graphics over the districts of vulnerable Democrats who backed the health reform legislation. Earlier she tweeted "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!' Pls see my Facebook page."

  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chair of the DCCC, called for "some adult supervision within the Republican party" in an interview on MSNBC Wednesday. "The Republican leadership, instead of saying to its supporters around the country, 'calm down' ... they are pouring more and more gasoline on flames. And that is irresponsible," he said.

  • On CNN last night, RNC chief Michael Steele said of Nancy Pelosi: "This November, they're gonna pay. So let's start getting Nancy ready for the firing line this November."

Go David Shuster!

Via Cesca

This was pretty great.

An Open Letter To Conservatives


Dear Conservative Americans,

The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You've lost me and you've lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I'd like to give you some advice and an invitation.

First, the invitation: Come back to us.

Now the advice. You're going to have to come up with a platform that isn't built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.

Your party -- the GOP -- and the conservative end of the American political spectrum have become irresponsible and irrational. Worse, it's tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred. Let me provide some examples -- by no means an exhaustive list -- of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.

If you're going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you'll have to start by draining this swamp:


You can't flip out -- and threaten impeachment - when Dems use a parliamentary procedure (deem and pass) that you used repeatedly (more than 35 times in just one session and more than 100 times in all!), that's centuries old and which the courts have supported. Especially when your leaders admit it all.

You can't vote and scream against the stimulus package and then take credit for the good it's done in your own district (happily handing out enormous checks representing money that you voted against, is especially ugly) -- 114 of you (at last count) did just that -- and it's even worse when you secretly beg for more.

You can't fight against your own ideas just because the Dem president endorses your proposal.

You can't call for a pay-as-you-go policy, and then vote against your own ideas.

Are they "unlawful enemy combatants" or are they "prisoners of war" at Gitmo? You can't have it both ways.

You can't carry on about the evils of government spending when your family has accepted more than a quarter-million dollars in government handouts.

You can't refuse to go to a scheduled meeting, to which you were invited, and then blame the Dems because they didn't meet with you.

You can't rail against using teleprompters while using teleprompters. Repeatedly.

You can't rail against the bank bailouts when you supported them as they were happening.

You can't be for immigration reform, then against it .

You can't enjoy socialized medicine while condemning it.

You can't flip out when the black president puts his feet on the presidential desk when you were silent about white presidents doing the same. Bush. Ford.

You can't complain that the president hasn't closed Gitmo yet when you've campaigned to keep Gitmo open.

You can't flip out when the black president bows to foreign dignitaries, as appropriate for their culture, when you were silent when the white presidents did the same. Bush. Nixon. Ike. You didn't even make a peep when Bush held hands and kissed (on the mouth) leaders of countries that are not on "kissing terms" with the US.

You can't complain that the undies bomber was read his Miranda rights under Obama when the shoe bomber was read his Miranda rights under Bush and you remained silent. (And, no, Newt -- the shoe bomber was not a US citizen either, so there is no difference.)

You can't attack the Dem president for not personally* publicly condemning a terrorist event for 72 hours when you said nothing about the Rep president waiting 6 days in an eerily similar incident (and, even then, he didn't issue any condemnation). *Obama administration did the day of the event.

You can't throw a hissy fit, sound alarms and cry that Obama freed Gitmo prisoners who later helped plan the Christmas Day undie bombing, when -- in fact -- only one former Gitmo detainee, released by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, helped to plan the failed attack.

You can't condemn blaming the Republican president for an attempted terror attack on his watch, then blame the Dem president for an attempted terror attack on his.

You can't mount a boycott against singers who say they're ashamed of the president for starting a war, but remain silent when another singer says he's ashamed of the president and falsely calls him a Maoist who makes him want to throw up and says he ought to be in jail.

You can't cry that the health care bill is too long, then cry that it's too short.

You can't support the individual mandate for health insurance, then call it unconstitutional when Dems propose it and campaign against your own ideas.

You can't demand television coverage, then whine about it when you get it. Repeatedly.

You can't praise criminal trials in US courts for terror suspects under a Rep president, then call it "treasonous" under a Dem president.

You can't propose ideas to create jobs, and then work against them when the Dems put your ideas in a bill.

You can't be both pro-choice and anti-choice.

You can't damn someone for failing to pay $900 in taxes when you've paid nearly $20,000 in IRS fines.

You can't condemn criticizing the president when US troops are in harms way, then attack the president when US troops are in harms way , the only difference being the president's party affiliation (and, by the way, armed conflict does NOT remove our right and our duty as Americans to speak up).

You can't be both for cap-and-trade policy and against it.

You can't vote to block debate on a bill, then bemoan the lack of 'open debate'.

If you push anti-gay legislation and make anti-gay speeches, you should probably take a pass on having gay sex, regardless of whether it's 2004 or 2010. This is true, too, if you're taking GOP money and giving anti-gay rants on CNN. Taking right-wing money and GOP favors to write anti-gay stories for news sites while working as a gay prostitute, doubles down on both the hypocrisy and the prostitution. This is especially true if you claim your anti-gay stand is God's stand, too.

When you chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, you can't send sexy emails to 16-year-old boys (illegal anyway, but you made it hypocritical as well).

You can't criticize Dems for not doing something you didn't do while you held power over the past 16 years, especially when the Dems have done more in one year than you did in 16.

You can't decry "name calling" when you've been the most consistent and outrageous at it. And the most vile.

You can't spend more than 40 years hating, cutting and trying to kill Medicare, and then pretend to be the defenders of Medicare

You can't praise the Congressional Budget Office when it's analysis produces numbers that fit your political agenda, then claim it's unreliable when it comes up with numbers that don't.

You can't vote for X under a Republican president, then vote against X under a Democratic president. Either you support X or you don't. And it makes it worse when you change your position merely for the sake obstructionism.

You can't call a reconciliation out of bounds when you used it repeatedly.

You can't spend taxpayer money on ads against spending taxpayer money.

You can't condemn individual health insurance mandates in a Dem bill, when the mandates were your idea.

You can't demand everyone listen to the generals when they say what fits your agenda, and then ignore them when they don't.

You can't whine that it's unfair when people accuse you of exploiting racism for political gain, when your party's former leader admits you've been doing it for decades.

You can't portray yourself as fighting terrorists when you openly and passionately support terrorists.

You can't complain about a lack of bipartisanship when you've routinely obstructed for the sake of political gain -- threatening to filibuster at least 100 pieces of legislation in one session, far more than any other since the procedural tactic was invented -- and admitted it. Some admissions are unintentional, others are made proudly. This is especially true when the bill is the result of decades of compromise between the two parties and is filled with your own ideas.

You can't question the loyalty of Department of Justice lawyers when you didn't object when your own Republican president appointed them.

You can't preach and try to legislate "Family Values" when you: take nude hot tub dips with teenagers (and pay them hush money); cheat on your wife with a secret lover and lie about it to the world; cheat with a staffer's wife (and pay them off with a new job); pay hookers for sex while wearing a diaper and cheating on your wife; or just enjoying an old fashioned non-kinky cheating on your wife; try to have gay sex in a public toilet; authorize the rape of children in Iraqi prisons to coerce their parents into providing information; seek, look at or have sex with children; replace a guy who cheats on his wife with a guy who cheats on his pregnant wife with his wife's mother;


You really need to disassociate with those among you who:


If you're going to use words like socialism, communism and fascism, you must have at least a basic understanding of what those words mean (hint: they're NOT synonymous!)

You can't cut a leading Founding Father out the history books because you've decided you don't like his ideas.

You cant repeatedly assert that the president refuses to say the word "terrorism" or say we're at war with terror when we have an awful lot of videotape showing him repeatedly assailing terrorism and using those exact words.

If you're going to invoke the names of historical figures, it does not serve you well to whitewash them. Especially this one.

You can't just pretend historical events didn't happen in an effort to make a political opponent look dishonest or to make your side look better. Especially these events. (And, no, repeating it doesn't make it better.)

You can't say things that are simply and demonstrably false: health care reform will not push people out of their private insurance and into a government-run program ; health care reform (which contains a good many of your ideas and very few from the Left) is a long way from "socialist utopia"; health care reform is not "reparations"; nor does health care reform create "death panels".


You have to condemn those among you who:

Oh, and I'm not alone: One of your most respected and decorated leaders agrees with me.

So, dear conservatives, get to work. Drain the swamp of the conspiracy nuts, the bold-faced liars undeterred by demonstrable facts, the overt hypocrisy and the hatred. Then offer us a calm, responsible, grownup agenda based on your values and your vision for America. We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we'll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms. We need you.

(Anticipating your initial response: No there is nothing that even comes close to this level of wingnuttery on the American Left.)

Written by Russell King

Emboldened Extremist Right Incites Violence

Via Maddow

Right-Wing Terrorism

Via Cesca

Wingnut blogger and teabagger Mike Vanderboegh has called for violence against Democratic offices across the nation. Tell me if this doesn't sound exactly like the justifications for various other terrorist attacks:

“We can break their windows,” he said. “Break them NOW. And if we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.”

Right, and if there are enough suicide bombers -- if there are enough IEDs -- if there are enough hijackings...

Demand the GOP Stop Inciting and Supporting Hate

Via C&L

The hateful acts that occurred at the tea party rally in Washington this weekend were not isolated incidents -- they are part of a growing pattern of violent rhetoric, racially charged imagery, and paranoid conspiracy theories emerging from the Republican party's grassroots supporters.


Republicans officials have contributed to this atmosphere with fear-mongering and coded racism, and they have actively courted this element of their party. It's time that Republican leadership is forced to address what it's helped to create.

Please join us in confronting Republican leaders and demanding that they take responsibility for tamping down the bigotry and hate among their supporters, and that they disavow the fear-mongering that leads to it. And please ask your friends and family to do the same -- unless we take a strong stand against this kind of hate, it will continue. We need as many people as possible -- of every race -- demanding that it stop.

Our members are calling on Michael Steele, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell to do two things:

  1. Unequivocally condemn bigotry and hate among your supporters, and make clear that those who embrace it have no place in your party and that you reject their support.
  2. Make clear that you will not tolerate fear-mongering and coded appeals to racism from officials in the Republican party, at any level.

Here's the message we sent to our members today:

Dear member,

It's time to hold the Republican Party accountable.

You've probably heard about Tea Party members shouting "Nigger!" at Black Congressmen during a protest in Washington, D.C. last weekend. One of the protesters spat on Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, while another called openly gay Representative Barney Frank a "faggot" as the laughing crowd imitated his lisp.1

But Saturday was just the most recent example of the intolerance and hate coming from right-wing extremists this past year. At times it's been instigated by Republican leaders. When not, it's usually condoned and seen as part of a strategy to score politically. Either way, it's completely unacceptable and has to stop.

It's time to confront Republican leadership and force them to take responsibility for the atmosphere they've helped create. Join us in drawing a line in the sand, and ask your friends and family to do the same:

We're calling on RNC Chair Michael Steele, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to publicly do two simple things:

  1. Unequivocally condemn bigotry and hate among their supporters, and make clear that those who embrace it have no place in their party.
  2. Make clear that they will not tolerate fear-mongering and coded appeals to racism from officials in the Republican party, at any level.

Republican leaders publicly denounced Saturday's ugly scene, but they failed to acknowledge that this is only the latest incident in a pattern of violent rhetoric, racially charged imagery, and paranoid conspiracy theories at Tea Party rallies.2 Many Tea Partiers aren't simply about dissent -- they use fear and hatred to assault the very legitimacy of our elected leaders. It's the worst America has to offer.

Despite this, Republican leaders court the Tea Party movement while methodically supporting, exacerbating and exploiting their fear and anger for cynical political ends.3 This is nothing less than a betrayal of American values, and it's up to us to force the Republicans to stop aiding and abetting this enterprise:

The Tea Party movement has been marked by racially inflammatory and violent outbursts since its inception a year ago. GOP leaders are trying to pass off this weekend's assaults on Congressmen Lewis, Cleaver, Clyburn and Frank as isolated incidents. But when so-called "isolated incidents" crop up again and again, a pattern starts to emerge. The examples are numerous.

At rallies held to protest tax day last year, Tea Partiers carried signs that announced "Obama's Plan: White Slavery," "The American Taxpayers are the Jews for Obama's Oven," and "Guns Tomorrow!"4 The Republican National Committee had endorsed the rallies, and RNC Chairman Michael Steele encouraged Tea Partiers to send a "virtual tea bag" to President Obama and Democratic Congressional leadership.5 After reports of the fear-mongering signs surfaced, Steele did nothing to distance his party from the lunatic fringe. He has even gone so far as to say that if he didn't have his current position, he'd be "out there with the tea partiers."6 Some Republican governors even planned a "Tea Party 2.0" for the following month in an effort to build on the rallies' momentum.7

The Tea Party's venomous rhetoric picked up steam over the summer, when angry mobs flooded town hall meetings legislators had organized as sites for rational, civil debate on health care reform. After one meeting in Atlanta, a swastika was painted on the office of Congressman David Scott (D-GA), who had also received a flier addressed to "nigga David Scott." 8 Some protesters showed up at town hall meetings carrying guns, including at least one man who was armed at an event where the President was speaking 9. Again, Republicans responded to these tactics with silence, doing nothing to denounce them.

Similarly, there was no public outcry from Republican leadership when Mark Williams, a leader of the Tea Party movement, was exposed for having described the President as "an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug and a racist in chief" on his blog.10 Instead, members of the GOP continued to show up to and endorse Tea Party rallies. And as recently as Sunday -- the day that the historic health care bill passed the House -- Republican members of the House riled up the same Tea Party crowd that had earlier harassed their fellow members with hate and bigotry.

Our country deserves better than this. No matter what party one supports, we should all take strong action to support civil, honest, and respectful public debate. Can you take a moment to call on Michael Steele, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell to denounce the racist rhetoric and fear-mongering that have been ongoing, significant characteristics of the Tea Party movement, and tell those who embrace these divisive and un-American beiefs that they have no place in their party, as members or leaders? And when you do, please ask your family and friends to do the same:

Thanks and Peace,

-- James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Milton and the rest of the team

March 23rd, 2010

1. "Tea Party Protests: 'Ni**er,' 'Fa**ot' Shouted At Members Of Congress," Huffington Post, 3-20-2010

2. "10 Most Offensive Tea Party Signs And Extensive Photo Coverage From Tax Day Protests," Huffington Post, 4-16-09

3. "Memo Reveals GOP Plan to Exploit Fear of Obama," AOL News, 3-4-2010

4. See Reference 2

5. "Tax Day Tea Parties Officially Endorsed By Republican Party," Huffington Post, 5-15-2009

6. "Steele: I'd join the tea parties," Politico, 1-15-10

7. "GOP govs plan Tea Party sequel," Politico, 5-12-2009

8. "Rep. David Scott's (D-Ga) office spray-painted with Swastika," Daily Kos, 8-11-2009

9. "Armed and Dangerous?" Talking Points Memo, 8-11-2009

10. "Tea party leader calls Obama a welfare thug," The Loop, 9-15-09

GOP Getting Smaller in History's Rear View Mirror

Via CountDown Special Comment

Republicans clinging to obsolete ideas and extremist rhetoric will only undermine the party's relevance and America will move on without them.

Rachel examines the vandalism, physical attacks, racial slurs, epithets, and thug tactics employed by Republicans and opponents of health care reform and highlights the courage of Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Democrats who stood up in the face these efforts of intimidation to do what the American people elected them to do.

On the Appeal of Repeal

Via Nate Silver

This is the 160th article that we will have written on health care reform over the course of the past year. As nice as it might be to move on to another subject, the debate over health care reform isn't going away any time soon, as the bill the Democrats passed last night will undergo a variety of political and legal challenges before the bulk of its provisions go into effect in 2014.

The sexiest of these challenges is the threat of repeal, which is the subject of an editorial in seemingly every conservative news outlet today. But it's also one of the least likely to threaten the bill. Repeal is not impossible -- not by a long shot -- but it's unlikely.

For starters, although repeal may certainly be an important rhetorical force in campaign-trail debates later this year, the first point at which it will be a substantive threat to the Democrats is January 20, 2013, at which point they are no longer guaranteed to control the White House. Until that time, because of the President's veto pen, it's not just figuratively but literally impossible for Republicans to amass enough manpower in the Congress to override a veto from Obama.

But the Republicans will have a small window of opportunity in 2013. To have a chance, they'll need:

(i) A majority of the House. Even if a handful of Blue Dogs were willing to sign on to the effort, it's unlikely that such measures could be pushed to the floor so long as the Democrats controlled the chamber. So an outright majority is probably needed. But this is the relatively easy part -- the Republicans may very well already have taken over the House in 2011.

(ii) 60 senators. Remember that filibuster thing that the Democrats hate? Now it can be their friend! Of course, some narrow parts of the bill could be excised through reconciliation or budget bills, which require a simple majority. But the problems with trying to repeal the broad thrust of the legislation through reconciliation are parallel to the ones that would be realized in trying to pass the bulk of legislation through reconciliation. Changes to the things like the creation of the insurance exchanges, or the new regulations imposed on insurers, would violate the Byrd Rule. The Republicans' options would be further constrained because legislation passed under reconciliation is supposed to be deficit-reducing. Although the Republicans could certainly make some surgical strikes via reconciliation, we're still probably talking about a 60-vote majority in order to repeal its most impactful provisions.

But 60 seats is not totally impossible. The Republicans could conceivably get to about 50 Senators this year. And then 2012 presents them with more opportunities for gains, since it's the echo of the 2006 cycle in which Democrats won nearly all of the competitive seats. Say that Republicans get to exactly 50 Senate seats later this year; they'd have to win 2012 races in, say, Nebraska (Ben Nelson), Virginia (Jim Webb), Missouri (Claire McCaskill), Montana (Jon Tester), Florida (Bill Nelson), Ohio (Sherrod Brown), West Virginia (possible Robert Byrd retirement), Wisconsin (possible Herb Kohl retirement), California (possible Diane Feinstein retirement), and Washington (Maria Cantwell). Although the Republicans also have a couple of tough defenses (Scott Brown, John Ensign, perhaps Olympia Snowe), 60 is doable if the political climate remains fairly toxic for the Democrats in 2012.

(iii) A Republican president. Of course this is doable as well, although the Republicans are not the favorites and whatever problems Obama might be having now tell us very little about what his standing will be in two years. In addition, Intrade thinks that there's roughly a 50 percent chance that the Republican nominee will be either Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin, either of whom is problematic because Romney probably can't win on a message of repealing Obamacare when it's so similar to Romneycare, and Palin probably can't win, period.

Basically, the likelihood of these three things happening is concomitant with the chances of there being a Republican wave election in 2012 -- enough for them to win almost every competitive Senate seat and enough to drag what might be a fairly weak Presidential candidate across the finish line -- as well as winning enough Senate seats later this year to put them within striking distance. It's hard to know what the chances of that are -- 10 percent perhaps? Recall that the economy is liable to be at least somewhat better in 2012, and that some voter anger may be quashed by any gains that Republicans are able to make in 2010. Although Republicans would clearly need to win a lot of Senate seats in November to bring them within striking distance of 60 in 2012, I'm not actually sure it helps them in terms of 2012 to win control of the House later this year, since they'd lose some of the advantages of anti-incumbency and since Boehner, et. al. would have a difficult time getting much done in a divided government -- they'd either be spitting into the wind or would wind up compromising with Obama on a lot of issues, which might tend to entrench the status quo (Obama keeps the Presidency, Republicans keep the House.)

It's also important to recognize that the Republicans will not necessarily have public opinion on their side in the repeal debate -- even though Obamacare is unpopular. As Matt Yglesias reminds us, even those polls that show a solid majority opposed to Obamacare (and many polls don't) have some of that opposition coming from the liberal end of the spectrum. CNN's latest poll, for instance, has just 43 percent opposing Obamacare from the right -- another 13 percent oppose it from the left but they'll want improvements and almost certainly not repeal. This FOX News poll, if you're willing to excuse its major issues with question ordering, shows something similar: although 55 percent oppose Obamacare, only 45 percent favor a repeal, with some of the opposition breaking off to want an expansion of the bill instead.

The Republicans could hope to capture some of these voters with a message of reform rather than repeal, but that could quickly get muddled: are they admitting that some parts of Obamacare are good? Could they keep the popular parts and banish the unpopular parts in a way that was remotely fiscally responsible? (Answer: no, or the Democrats would have tried to do the same.)

Although it's difficult to predict whether Obamacare will become more popular or less so prior to its implementation, the safest assumption based on the way public opinion is formulated right now is that the repeal message will have a lot of appeal to the 40 percent of the country or so who oppose the health care bill from the right (almost all of whom do so strongly), but will fairly quickly encounter diminishing returns as it tries to struggle up to 50 percent. In a midterm cycle like 2010, where turnout can be lopsided, this could nevertheless be a net benefit to the Republicans. It's less likely to be so in 2012 when turnout will be more robust -- but 2012, not 2010, is the cycle upon which repeal actually depends.

If Republicans do want to maximize their chance of making good on their repeal window, then, they probably ought to (i) redirect 2010 resources from House races to Senate races and (ii) work behind the scenes to promote a non-Palin, non-Romney Presidental candidate, particularly someone like Paul Ryan who has some street cred as a fiscal conservative and a policy wonk and (iii) think carefully about how everything they do right now will reverberate not just later this year, but also in 2012.

Latest Capitol Hill Anti-HCR Rally Running Smoothly, Politely

Via Wonkette

Ha ha, 57 states! Obama sure did misspeak that one  time!

Today’s protesters had a nickname for Barney Frank! “Just after Frank rounded a corner to leave the building, an older protester yelled ‘Barney, you faggot.’ The surrounding crowd of protesters then erupted in laughter.”

What else? Ah, yes: famous black civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis is black. They had a nickname for him, too!

[TPM, The Hill]