This clip of Anthony Weiner going ballistic on the House floor is one for the ages -- it should be watched again and again and again, and not only because he was angry and frustrated, but because he spoke a truth that all of us expect from our representatives. It's really quite simple: "If you believe that it's right, you vote yes. You don't hide behind procedure and give cover to your pals."
It's really that simple, but here's the backstory. The House has been trying to re-open the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund through 2031 for 9/11 responders whose health has been affected.
When it became apparent that the Republicans were going to attach "poison pill" amendments to the bill that had nothing to do with 9/11 and everything to do with their political agenda, Democrats shut down the possibility of amending the bill by moving it to the suspension calendar, where a minimum 2/3rds vote is needed for it to pass.
Republicans applied the same old talking points, calling it a "massive new entitlement program". Actually, that's not quite right. They called it a "massive job-killing new entitlement program", because that's the Frank Luntz mantra of the week. (I was monitoring the Senate at the same time, and somehow the Small Business Jobs bill also became another "massive job-killing new entitlement program.") Of course, that's nonsense too, given that it had been structured to be paid for by closing a tax loophole for foreign corporations.
Sen. Bob Corker appeared on Hardball yesterday to talk financial reform and Mitch McConnell's amazing verbatim spew of the Frank Luntz talking points designed to kill any meaningful Wall Street reforms. He took care to point out that he has "never used those Frank Luntz talking points...", confirming the not-too obscure fact that Mitch McConnell has memorized them all and IS using them. (Full text of Luntz memo)
He optimistically predicts final passage of Dodd's bill with 70 Senators voting for it. Of course, Dodd's bill doesn't really have much in the way of derivatives reform. That's Senator Blanche Lincoln's bill.
In fairness to Sen. Corker, he has been the one single Republican who actually tried to find a bipartisan solution to financial reform before the GOP leadership shut down the entire effort.
Corker’s conduct exemplifies the Republican strategy (which, in fairness, he may not have fully understood until last week). Having spent months working on the bill with committee chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., Corker suddenly found himself vowing to support a filibuster over provisions in the bill that he had helped to write.
If Senator Corker isn't filibustering the bill, then who is the 41st vote? Let me guess...maybe Ben Nelson?
UPDATE: Scott Brown told Schieffer that he hasn't heard anything about jobs since he's been in the Senate, but Steve Benen reminds him that he voted on a couple of jobs bills already. What a nitwit. He's lying only a couple of months into his new gig. Welcome to the House of Lords.
Scott Brown made his first appearance on Face the Nation Sunday, and while he distanced himself from Sarah Palin and wouldn't answer Bob Schieffer's question asking him if he would have appeared with her if he wasn't working, he gave an awfully good impression of her by not including any substance in his answers to Bob's questions -- only right wing talking points.
I found it rather bizarre that since he has been part of the legislative process in Boston before he became Senator, his performance made it sound like he had zero knowledge on what's wrong with the financial reform bill other than saying that President Obama is now putting his political arm in the debate so he's going to filibuster the bill.
SENATOR SCOTT BROWN (R-Massachusetts): Well, I think the President's political arm is now taking over this debate. And it's unfortunate because I, like many others in my state and throughout the country, want banks to be banks. They don't want them to be casinos. They don't want them to take risky bets on our money. And, I think that this is an issue that we can clearly come to common ground and just solve the problem. Where there're problems, we should fix them. But the regulation and the-- the bill that's being proposed by the banking chairman dramatically affects businesses-- mutual-- for example, Liberty Mutual, MassMutual. These folks are-- are caught in that-- that-- that regulation as well. It's going to cost potentially twenty-five to thirty-five thousand jobs. And--
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Well, now, wait a minute, Senator. How-- how can you say that?
SENATOR SCOTT BROWN: Well, I-- I can say it very clearly because the-- the regulations that are-- they're trying to reel in with some of the risky he-- hedging-- that bets are doing also affects companies like-- like I just described in Massachusetts. It's-- it's very clear. And-- and speaking with Secretary Geithner the other day I-- I certainly noted the-- the President's comments. But, Secretary Geithner has some of the same criticisms of the bill. In that, it doesn't end the bailout mentality of the big bank--the too-big-to-fail concept. And, in addition, there are a lot of things in the Dodd bill that-- that are just bad for business, small businesses in particular. And we should do better. And, I've-- I called the President out the other day and the administration to do better and stop politicizing these issues and just start solving problems.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But don't you think that Senator McConnell might be a little bit guilty of politicizing when he-- he comes out and just says flatly, "No, we're against it?"
SENATOR SCOTT BROWN: He's not saying-- he's not saying no to financial reform unless I'm mistaken because that's never the impression I've gotten in the seventy-three days since I've been there. Throughout our caucuses, that issue has been in the forefront with the teams that are negotiating with the banking chairman to try to find common sense reforms and-- and address situations like the one that I just pointed out with-- where companies are-- are caught in the big web. And, when you have government interfering in-- in-- in businesses-- small businesses' lives and just throwing-- like a-- a one-size-fits-all approach just to score political points, it's-- it's sad. We should be looking at real issues-- I'm sorry, real solutions to these
problems. And, to politicize, it is clear what they're with, you know, trying to score points and he should do better.
The interview went on like this for about thirteen minutes or so. He wouldn't answer any of Bob's questions and just repeated prepared lines that fell flat. He was unimpressive and appeared to be just like another political hack who's going to vote with the Democrats whenever he can so he'll be able to say he's a true independent voice for the people of Massachusetts to get reelected to the Senate. It's fine to be prepared, we all do it before we go on TV, but I thought he would be able just list a few reasons why he's against the Dodd bill instead of flatly rejecting it like Frank Luntz has instructed them to.
He didn't offer specifics about what he thinks should be in a financial reform bill, but said he'd filibuster the current bill rather than let it come to the Senate floor.
Bob didn't bother to push him on anything either except when it came to Palin. I can see that Scott Brown is a bit shaky about Our Lady from Alaska.
BOB SCHIEFFER: well, would you have, for example, gone to the rally in Boston and appeared with Sarah Palin had the Senate not been in session?
SENATOR SCOTT BROWN: Well, I’ve been to rallies before. I spoke a couple of years-- last year at two rallies in Worcester, before I was elected. And, you know, my role now is, as an elected official, is to do my job. And that’s not-- that wasn’t-- those weren’t the circumstances. And I have great respect for-- for Sarah and what she’s doing. She’s got a lot on her plate. And, she’s plays a role in-- in-- in that movement, and-- and-- and just the-- the-- the Republican Party. And-- and--
Notice how he referred to the Tea Parties as "that movement?" He also had a hard time with Shieffer's question about whether Obama is a socialist.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But, do you decline to answer my question: is he pushing the country towards socialism?
SENATOR SCOTT BROWN: I don’t think he’s making proper choices when it comes to dealing with the-- the free market and free enterprise and allowing businesses to-- to really run themselves and create jobs. And as a result, larger government is happening and we’re creating
jobs but they're all government jobs. And the private sector is definitely-- definitely suffering.
This interview was about as softball as it comes and what I came away from it was that Scott Brown is a political fly weight. Not knowing, but speaking "Luntz" is the new "in," people.
Oh, and did you know his daughter got a job on CBS? I'm not saying she didn't deserve the job because you know, American Idol really prepares oneself for political reporting.
In case anyone was wondering where Fox News gets most of its talking points, Chris Wallace last night held up a copy of the GOP's talking points responding to President Obama's apparent diss of the Tea Partiers the night before.
All the other Fox talkers in sight were no more imaginative, a Village chorus pronouncing the president "arrogant" for saying this:
"In all, we passed 25 different tax cuts last year,'' he said. "And one thing we haven't done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year -- another promise that we kept.
"So I've been a little amused over the last couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes,'' he said at the end of a day, Tax day, on which the TEA Party Express had carried a cross-country protest to the National Mall in Washingon and staged rallies around the nation. "You would think they would be saying thank you,'' Obama said. "That's what you'd think.
This deeply offended everyone at Fox, not to mention the wingnutosphere, where Michelle Malkin could be found vowing revenge.
Chris Wallace, while trotting out those GOP talking points, declared it "the height of condescension."
Maybe the most amusing was the apoplectic Charles Krauthammer, who sneered:
Krauthammer: I think it was Obama with his usual condescension, except that he ratcheted it up to Code Orange into snootiness, that's where he is now, when he looks down his nose at the gun and God crowd, the lumpen proletariat, as he sees it. And he ridicules them because they're not grateful enough to him.
And look -- it's quite obvious what he's talking about here. He thinks that they are stupid because they don't recognize that he hasn't raised their taxes.
Of course, the word that really springs to mind for these folks is most likely "uppity" -- but they probably know better than to say it on TV. So they find synonyms like "condescending" and "arrogant" and "snootiness."
Most amusing, though, was their shared insistence that the president shouldn't be dissing the Tea Partiers, because they're just normal working-class folks.
Yes, that's true: They're just normal working-class folks who carry signs denouncing Obama as a Marxist/socialist/fascist and believe he needs to produce his birth certificate and are certain he is a radical intent on destroying capitalism and grabbing their guns.
It's also true that they are people motivated primarily by an animus toward him and liberals in general, and will do anything to oppose him, including believe all kinds of things that are provably untrue.
Things like birth certificate theories and FEMA concentration camp theories and the certainty he's a radical Marxist. Oh yes, and they believe he raised their taxes.
One of the signs of insanity, you know, is the insistence on believing in things that are provably untrue, even when the proof is presented clearly and irrevocably.
So why, exactly, should President Obama show any deference whatsoever to insane people who spread the nastiest and most ridiculous smears about him on a daily basis, people who never in a million years would vote for him? People who almost certainly did not vote for him in 2008, and now refuse to accept the verdict of the election they lost?
He's supposed to show these people deference exactly why?
Mitch McConnell has rounded up the necessary votes to block Democrats from bringing Wall Street reform to the Senate floor, a spokesman for the Senate Minority Leader said on Friday afternoon.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Thursday he planned to bring the bill to the floor next week where it would be debated and amendments added. McConnell has now persuaded 41 Republicans to vote against debating reform.
'We simply cannot ask the American taxpayer to continue to subsidize this 'too big to fail' policy. We must ensure that Wall Street no longer believes or relies on Main Street to bail them out. Inaction is not an option," McConnell writes in a letter to Reid that was provided to HuffPost.
Democrats have been battering McConnell all week for his firm opposition to the Democratic reform effort.
Reid spokesman Jim Manley told HuffPost that Reid will be moving ahead regardless.
"Congratulations. I hope they feel good," said Manley. "They've got 41 signatures on a weak, watered-down letter that simply calls for more negotiations. If they are at all serious, they will simply let us go to the bill next week and let the amendment process begin."
Manley said the bill will be brought up for a vote on a motion to proceed to debate later this coming week.
After all the sturm und drang over the health care reform vote, expected today, tea party protests and their escalating violent rhetoric and tantrums by members of the House and in the liberal blogosphere over what this bill does and doesn't mean, I'm beyond my outrage fatigue level. I just want to be okay. The attitude all over the country has been made toxic, by hate, by fear, by lies, by betrayal. I just want to feel okay today. The media has failed us all, by constantly going to the minority party's take, making it seem more significant than it is; by repeating talking points without context; by acting as every issue has a valid left vs. right argument. I just want to know today I'll be okay.
But Sunday isn't going to help me be okay. Because I guarantee it will be more sturm und drang, more tantrum, and more toxicity. Look at these line-ups. More left vs. right false dichotomies, more air time to people who deserve no such privilege (Karl Rove, I'm looking at you) and more milquetoast-y, polite Democrats set up against the screechiest Republicans. I don't think I'll be okay today.
ABC's "This Week" - Reps. Eric Cantor, R-Va., and John Larson, D-Conn.; David Plouffe, former Obama presidential campaign manager; Karl Rove, former George W. Bush adviser.
CBS' "Face the Nation" - Reps. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
NBC's "Meet the Press" - House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee; Anita Dunn, former Obama White House communications director; Ed Gillespie, former Bush White House counselor.
NBC's "The Chris Matthews Show" - Panel: Howard Fineman, Kelly O'Donnell, Michele Norris, Michael Duffy. Topics: After health care, how do Democrats avoid a blowout in the midterms? How liberal can Obama's next Supreme Court nominee be? Should Obama Move To the Center Instead of the Left As A Reelection Strategy? YES: 11 NO: 1; Will "Repeal Health Care" Be A Winning Slogan For Republicans This Fall? YES: 5 No: 7.
CNN's "State of the Union" - Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Reps. Larson and Mike Pence, R-Ind.
CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" - Fareed holds a discussion about Israel and what its ambassador to Washington calls the crisis in its relations with the United States of America. We're joined by Mort Zuckerman who just met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and Martin Indyk, who has served as Ambassador to Israel twice and ran the Middle East division at the State Department as well as the National Security Council. Plus, Michael Lewis has returned to his original love (or hate) -- Wall Street. He has a new book out on the financial crisis and some very provocative ideas about Wall Street as a dying empire.
"Fox News Sunday" - Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.; Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
Don't you love how the Republicans concern troll the Democratic Party election prospects? As if they're all so worried about whether or not the Democratic Party will retain their majority. One of my husband's less-than-genius friends made the mistake of parroting those GOP talking points to us and even he had to concede (after we pushed back with that greatest liberal weapon of reality) that if the GOP really thought that the Dems could lose their majority, they'd keep their big mouths shut and let them implode. The truth is--and it's obvious to anyone who thinks about it--they know that passing health care reform will help the Democratic Party and they're trying to keep that from happening with all their obfuscations and meaningless memes like reconciliation equating to "jamming it through Congress".
The invented Republican/ Foxy News talking point du jour is that the Democrats intend to 'ram health care reform down our throats' even though 'the American people don't want it.'
Bzzz. That's just wrong! First of all, when there is a landslide triumph for a party as there was in November, 2008, for the victor to actually govern and legislate is not 'ramming' anything down anyone's 'throat.' It is doing what the people asked you to do. Obama campaigned on this issue, and presumably that fact had not escaped the electorate's notice.
Just so we don't forget, if we sized the lower 48 states according to their population, this is what the Democratic victory looked like, according to cartophilia:
So it is that little tiny red thing that is talking about 'ramming' down 'throats.'
Hmmm....so that would be 180° different from what McConnell said. What are the chances of that? Cole reminds us of what the Republicans "jammed" through on us:
The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, ending the lives of thousands of service members and millions of civilians, adding trillions of dollars to the deficit, allowing widespread corruption by private companies, some of whom benefited the administration directly;
Torture, not just of terrorists but of innocent citizens too, ending habeas corpus and bringing down the reputation of the country among the global community;
Warrantless wiretappings of Americans;
The gutting of regulations in the financial and mortgage industries, paving way for the worst economy since the Great Depression;
Massive tax cuts for the wealthy, born on the backs of the middle class--passed, by the way, through reconciliation;
Abandonment of our troops in Afghanistan, allowing the leadership of the Taliban and al Qaeda to resurge.
So the question for Mitch McConnell & Friends is who do you really think is "jamming" whom?
Reason #2,348,293,297 why Americans are so tragically misinformed about the issues facing us today. CNN cut away from the Health Care Summit today to give us the oh-so-important musings of former Nixon speechwriter and D-list actor Ben Stein and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. What? We need to cut away to get more unsubstantiated talking points?
But it gets even better. Stein launches into his socio-economic theories of why health care reform is unpopular with the Republican Party, and it's not because they're beholden to corporations and worship at the altar of the "free markets". It's not because their bank accounts are busting from donations by the health care industry. It's not even because they reflexively obstruct and are against anything the Obama administration is for. Oh no, it's because Republicans pay more taxes than Democrats do:
You asked one of the most brilliant questions I have ever heard anyone ask on TV, which is why are so many Republicans against more government interference in the health care system, and so many Democrats in favor of it? And the answer is much higher percentage of Republicans are taxpayers than Democrats and the Republicans are the people paying for it, and the Democrats are the people receiving it. So that has a lot to explain there.
There are a tremendous number of wealthy Democrats and wealthy Republicans, but as a general matter, Republicans as a group pay income tax at a much higher rate than Democrats, and I think that has a lot to do with everything. They also have a much higher rate, and are paying members of the insurance pools, and they realize that the insurance premiums are going up so that people who otherwise would not get insurance are going to get insurance and it has a lot to do with the fact that Republicans are a different group of people than Democrats.
You have to ask yourself why CNN felt that Ben Stein's opinion on anything (let us not forget that he also rejects evolution) is at all informative to the American public.
Scott: Why is it, Kirsten, that you can't be a skeptic about global warming and do it publicly?
Powers responded with some blather about how journalists weren't skeptical enough themselves, and James "Willie Horton's Daddy" Pinkerton predictably chimed in with right-wing talking points about how global warming theory is like a religion. It took Ellis Henican to bring some sanity to the conversation, pointing out that one week of weather does not affect the science of climate, which by definition is something that occurs over many years.
The only people who would try to claim that are clowns -- partisan hacks looking to score cheap political points by promoting and playing a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of climate change.
For those not familiar with the term "net neutrality," it describes the rules and practices that currently keep the Internet a free and open communication medium. Net neutrality guarantees that blogs, small businesses, and organizations are on a level playing field with the largest corporations. Whether you're GM or an individual, the content you put online is accessible and delivered in the same way, with the same priority, and nothing is blocked. For communities of color, net neutrality is key. It keeps barriers to Internet entrepreneurship low so that anyone with a good idea and some technical savvy can join the 21st century economy.
Predictably, the major players in the broadband industry have been fighting the FCC's efforts to adopt rules that would solidify net neutrality principles into law, because scrapping net neutrality would enable them to make even more money by creating new revenue streams. Ironically, civil rights leaders and CBC members have joined the dominant players. Their stated reasoning: the belief that net neutrality rules could hurt efforts to close the digital divide. The problem is that, as far as I can see, the argument doesn't hold water. It falls apart whether you approach it from the perspective of business, common sense, or history.
My hope in writing my first post was that it might encourage civil rights leaders who have opposed or questioned net neutrality to publicly explain their positions. Given what's at stake, I think its incumbent on leaders opposing or questioning net neutrality to publicly make clear why. Unfortunately, none have done so.