Consider Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). She thinks that it would help to get either Bush 41 or Bush 43 to publicly support the treaty, while ignoring the existing support from Republican statesmen James Baker III, Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcraft, George Schultz, Kenneth Duberstein, Howard Baker, and Collen Powell. And then of course there's the numerous military four-stars, active and retired, who have all come out for this treaty. The "moderate" Senate Repubs can't cross the Borg Republican mind-hive, but they also know the New START treaty is good enough to ratify by anyone's measures. It does make one wonder who the real adversary is.
Charlie Brown, will you never learn? You really thought Democrats were actually standing up to the Republicans on financial reform, huh? From Huffington Post:
Threatened with the prospect of having to spend the entire night sleeping on a cot inside the white sepulchre known as the United States Capitol, Senate Republicans have apparently assented to allowing a debate on the financial regulatory reform bill. Victory for Main Street! Unless, of course, Senate Democrats decided to back down on a strong(ish) bill so that the seeds of bipartisanship could be sown. In which case: Victory for David Broder!
Republicans insisted that they had won some crucial concessions from Democrats, including the elimination of a proposed $50 billion fund that would be paid for by big financial companies and would be used to help pay for putting failed banks out of business.
The Obama administration also had expressed opposition to the fund, out of concern that it would complicate efforts to deal with more costly failures of financial companies. And the Democrats already had expressed a willingness to remove the fund from the bill.
Oh, well, that's just great! You know, it seems like only a week ago, Republicans were calling that provision the "permanent bailout fund" because that was the precise lie that Frank Luntz coached them to tell, over and over again. Incensed Democrats complained about this falsehood, over and over again, and actually did pretty well in getting the media on their side. But now, it's just one more thing that nobody really liked anyway, whatever -- hope you enjoyed the Kabuki theater.
Of course, we now have the benefit of viewing Senator Christopher Dodd's FinReg bill alongside the one put forth by the GOP, and can appreciate the ways in which they parted company. (TheWashington Independent's Annie Lowrey has a great comparative analysis of which you can avail yourself.)
Significantly, the two proposals aren't exactly worlds apart. But one way in which they part company dramatically is in the area of consumer protection. Per Matt Yglesias:
The ugly part of the bill is what it does to consumer protection. On the one hand, it seemingly weakens the independence of the consumer regulator. On the other hand, it has the consumer regulator preempt any and all state regulations. This is a helpful reminder that nobody on the right actually gives a damn about federalism except as a tool to advance conservative substantive policy--federal preemption of strong state regulation is always welcome.
If you haven't noticed lately, the Washington Post has become the NRO for the most awesome Rahm Emanuel. Dana Milbank penned a column that could have been dictated to him by Rahm and then came another one basically saying all the same things. Rahm is teh Awesome and Obama is not.
In the space of 10 days, thanks in no small part to my own newspaper, the president of the United States has been portrayed as a weakling and a chronic screw-up who is wrecking his administration despite everything that his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, can do to make things right.
Maybe David Broder should have waited until his own newspaper divulged their newest poll results before writing a slobbering column about Sarah Palin. Because wouldn't ya know, she's taken a huge dive in the polls.
I wrote a while ago that going off on her book tour would give her a nice bounce in the polls, but while the money was great, the hype would wear off long before 2012 came rolling along, and she's not going to be able to tour the country with as much positive media coverage as she did this time around.
Although Palin is a tea party favorite, her potential as a presidential hopeful takes a severe hit in the survey. Fifty-five percent of Americans have unfavorable views of her, while the percentage holding favorable views has dipped to 37, a new low in Post-ABC polling.
There is a growing sense that the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, with more than seven in 10 Americans now saying she is unqualified, up from 60 percent in a November survey. Even among Republicans, a majority now say Palin lacks the qualifications necessary for the White House.
Palin has lost ground among conservative Republicans, who would be crucial to her hopes if she seeks the party's presidential nomination in 2012. Forty-five percent of conservatives now consider her as qualified for the presidency, down sharply from 66 percent who said so last fall.
Among all Republicans polled, 37 percent now hold a "strongly favorable" opinion of Palin, about half the level recorded when she burst onto the national stage in 2008 as Sen. John McCain's running mate.
Among Democrats and independents, assessments of Palin also have eroded. Six percent of Democrats now consider her qualified for the presidency, a drop from 22 percent in November; the percentage of independents who think she is qualified fell to 29 percent from 37 percent.
And to all those who are enthralled with the mystical independent voters, she's dropped eight points. It's still very early, but these plummeting poll numbers shouldn't be ignored.
Since the book tour, she's become a Fox News analyst, appeared with on all the Fox shows, including with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, and was the highly paid main speaker at Tea Party National Convention. I guess it doesn't take a scandal or a major gaffe to sink this quickly after all. Or maybe Americans are getting saturated with Palin and she's losing her "populist edge."
I don't think she should be taken lightly myself, but I found these numbers quite surprising. I expected the bump she got from the book tour would last a bit longer. Joe Klein makes a good point when he says:
The speech was inspired drivel, a series of distortions and oversimplifications, totally bereft of nourishing policy proposals — the sort of thing calculated, carefully calculated, to drive lamestream media types like me frothing to their keyboards. Palin is a big fat target, eminently available for derision. But I will not deride. Because brilliance must be respected, especially when it involves marketing in an era when image almost always passes for substance. (See the top 10 unfortunate political one-liners.)
I don't agree with his use of the word "brilliance," but in the era of 24/7 cable TV, Fox News and Frank Luntz, marketing is a huge weapon. I have no doubt that she will improve as time goes by, but if America isn't buying her act at this point, I'm not sure they ever will.
This is an instant classic. Scarborough asks Howard Dean what he thinks of David Broder's attack on Harry Reid.
See, Broder wrote a column that was, of course, harshly critical of the healthcare bills. (Wars? Go faster! Health care! Wait a minute there, young 'uns!)
Harry Reid (D-Nev.) replied that the Senate shouldn't "focus on a man who has been retired for many years and writes a column once in a while."
Dean launched into a spirited defense of Reid and dismissed Broder, calling him "sanctimonious." He compared the classic "inside the Beltway columnist" to a gossip columnist.
PBS's Martin Savidge, clearly a Very Serious Person, was so upset, he was practically sputtering, and retorted that Broder "a very serious writer." Dean said the Beltway was incestuous and talking to the same so-called "experts" all the time was like writing a gossip column.
Savidge responded indignantly, "We call it good journalism." Yep, just like it was good journalism when Broder was riding Obama for not taking a running leap into the Afghan war.
Classic Villager think. Take a look, it's a textbook example.
Gene Lyons in Salon on the myriad forces that insist we can't afford health care, but just as strongly assure us that $6.73 trillion for the war in Afghanistan is perfectly doable. (That's $1 million per soldier, per year.) Go read the whole thing:
For all its brutality, the Taliban rebellion is mainly a localized, nationalist effort to expel foreigners -- one reason Gen. McChrystal hopes to be able to pacify them, as his mentor Gen. David Petraeus bought off Iraqi insurgents. With winter approaching, Taliban fighters will soon be forced into semi-hibernation. Any U.S. buildup will take at least a year to complete.
The big rush, in other words, has less to do with military necessity than with Washington political theater: specifically, the war lobby's ability to force President Obama's hand. Actually, "war industry" might be more apt. It's both more concise than the "military-industrial complex" President Eisenhower warned against and it takes into account the "privatization" of military jobs once done by soldiers -- such as driving supply convoys (Halliburton), guarding embassies and other U.S. facilities (Blackwater) and training Afghan soldiers (DynCorp International).
[...] Following upon David Barstow's 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times exposé about blatant conflicts of interest among Pentagon-coached retired generals posing as disinterested "military analysts" on every TV news network you can think of, Americans can no longer afford to be blasé about the war industry.
They're selling us endless war the way they sell cellphones and Viagra.
The question is: How much is President Obama buying?
I checked the byline a couple of times this morning, to make sure the column that was ostensibly written by David Broder wasn't, in fact, written by Charles Krauthammer. Regrettably, the so-called Dean of the D.C. Media Establishment actually wrote this.
The more President Obama examines our options in Afghanistan, the less he likes the choices he sees. But, as the old saying goes, to govern is to choose -- and he has stretched the internal debate to the breaking point.
It is evident from the length of this deliberative process and from the flood of leaks that have emerged from Kabul and Washington that the perfect course of action does not exist. Given that reality, the urgent necessity is to make a decision -- whether or not it is right.
"Whether or not it is right." The Commander in Chief, in other words, should put expediency over merit. Speed is preferable to accuracy. It's only the longest military conflict in American history, with the future of U.S. foreign policy on the line -- the president should worry less about due diligence and thoughtful analysis, and worry more about picking a course, even if it's wrong. Other than the loss of American servicemen and women, untold billions of dollars, and undermining U.S. interests in a critical region, what's the worst that can happen?
This says so much to me. The "dean" of Beltway journalism and conventional thinking perfectly encapsulates the Republican zeitgeist:
Criticize anything that Obama does. If he acts decisively, complain that he's reckless. If he acts thoughtfully, complain that he's "dithering". If he points out that he's inherited a big fat clusterf&ck, complain that he's pointing fingers. If he tries to move forward in even a slightly progressive way, complain that he's not bipartisan enough and that he should listen to Republicans. In short, make sure that no matter what, Obama is wrong.
There are no consequences to telling Obama he's wrong. So what if 45,000 people die because they don't have healthcare? So what if sending more troops is basically sending them to their deaths? So what if there is no stable government in Afghanistan? So what if we're spending millions of dollars every month and deficit spending is the cause du jour for those suddenly fiscally responsible Republicans?
If Obama acts quickly, and it's the wrong choice, will the decision to act fall back on Broder and the Republicans for the pressure they've placed on Obama? 'Course not. But you can bet your sweet bippy they'll only be too glad to pounce on him if there are more American deaths.
Tell you what, Broder, if you're so eager to see some action in Afghanistan, let's see you do one of your patented "folksy" reports from a coffee shop in Kandahar or Kabul. Otherwise, STFU and let the people in charge actually make a reasoned and thoughtful decision, since it affects so much in American blood and treasure.
We've had eight years of quick rather than right decisions. It's time for the grownups to be in charge now.
Every sane liberal and Democratic activist and analyst who has a brain knows that co-ops are a worthless concept only put out there so Max Baucus and his bi partisan jelly fish can help rip off the American people and pad the pockets of the health care industrial complex. Welcome to our liberal elite.
ALTER: Well, there has to be some kind of cooperative, maybe what they call a souped-up cooperative, one that can actually withstand pressure from insurance companies which in the past have taken something like BlueCross, which is originally nonprofit and turned it into just another insurance company. So, the problem with the co-op idea is that it-they have been putty in the hands of the insurance company. But there still is room for compromise there. They could design a new kind of co-op that could provide some real competition.
ALTER: It could be essentially a public-private option that satisfies enough people to get something through. So, I don't think liberals should go, you know, public option or bust. There are other alternatives and you have to remember that there are many, many important things in this bill that have become almost non-controversial that two years ago, if you'd been told they're going to-they're going to end discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, they're going to insure another 30 million Americans, we say, "Great, where do we sign up?" And now, some progressives are-maybe a little bit too wed to the public option. Even though, my favorite, too, but we shouldn't go down with the ship, with the public option.
Listen, Jonathan. There is no room for compromise with co-ops. Jay Rockefeller already disproved them in detail, if you were keeping track of these things. It's a con game cooked up to fool people like you into thinking Kent Conrad and Chuck Grassley would actually design a new kind of SUPER CO-OP that will save the day. Are you that daft or just sucking it up for the David Broder-bipartisan coalition?
We were promised real health-care reform, not some sad sack of a plan that includes ginned-up co-ops that have all been panned by the "serious people" who write about health care. As usual we're the dirty f*&king hippies who better live without our public option. Obama was only elected with a clear mandate to reform health care and we should be thankful for what we get.
SHRUM: I certainly think he should do that. reconciliation was...
MATTHEWS: No, he doesn't have to. SHRUM: ... used by Reagan. It was used by Bush.
MATTHEWS: No, but what's the-if he has to choose between a bill that comes out of that bipartisan panel in the Senate, Finance Committee, and going with a much more liberal bill, what would you do?
SHRUM: I would-I would look-I'd judge it by what's in that bill. If there's a co-op that effectively does provide competition with the insurance industry, then I think you can move forward. By the way, in other respects, that bill is not a vastly scaled-down bill. It's $100 billion less over 10 years out of a program that costs $1 trillion over 10 years.
Orrin Hatch was whining about bipartisanship on Face The Nation Sunday. Are you ready for another David Broder article criticizing the Democrats for not including the teabaggers? Rangel slaps little Orrin for lying about the parameters of the House bill. It's of course the House of Lords that is mucking up the works. The House has delivered a bill the the CBO likes.
HATCH: But it’s become so political. The House bill’s a total partisan bill. The health committee in the Senate, the Senate bill, is a total partisan bill. And our only hope, maybe, is to have Senator Baucus be able to put something together on the Finance Committee in the Senate.
RANGEL: We’ve been dealing with this bill for -- for over six months. And we’ve had hours of hearings. And the fact that it’s not bipartisan is not because we Democrats don’t want to have a bipartisan bill. We don’t have any Republican answers. It’s easy to say what you don’t like about this bill. But it would be far more constructive if we had something to work on. So I’m depending on my friend Orrin Hatch to... (LAUGHTER) ... at least in the Senate, to try to see, is there a Republican bill in the Senate? There certainly isn’t in the House. And it’s just wrong to say that this is a tax on small businesses. We exempt small business from a lot of the penalties. We give tax credits so that they’re able to hire and get people health care in small businesses. This is a tax on less than 1 percent of the wealthiest people in the United States of America. And so to say that this is a penalty on small business just isn’t so. Sure, we wish we had more time.
Hatch is lying again since Sen. Grassley has said he's been working with Baucus on a bill. Maybe he should confer with his own party in the Senate instead of going on TV and crying about being left out. He's a Senator, for the love of God. Maybe he could write another song for us?
The Villagers were up in arms Sunday morning over on the set of ABC's This Week about the possibility that Eric Holder might appoint a special someone to look into the Bush/Cheney torture practices. Watch in awe and see how the Villagers feel about trying to get accountability from the Bush years.
Why, an investigation would just trash the place. Oh, the bitterness in D.C. would be too much to handle, all because those other people (that is, non-Villagers) would like to get to the truth.
Bob Woodward, who's trying to be the next David Broder by living off his long-degraded rep as the man who uncovered Watergate, wonders how we will ever be able to keep secrets again if there is some inspection. Um, isn't that what the Bob Woodwardses are supposed to do? Uncover stuff? Nope, not anymore. He's appalled that there might be a frakking investigation.
And he was all a-giggle with the thought that the CIA could actually lie. What a joke. I didn't hear him open his mouth when Newt Gingrich went all whiggy on Nancy Pelosi.
Cokie goes "Cokie" on us for a while and then after much trepidation comes down on the rule of law. Good for her, but she better take some R&R if it happens.
ROBERTS: I must say, I have very mixed minds about this. Because on the one hand, the whole idea of a prosecution gets Washington into that kind of horrible slog where everybody hates each other and the poison just gets very thick.
DONALDSON: Unlike at the moment, right?
ROBERTS: Well, no, it hasn’t been as bad lately as it was in the last 16 years.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And it seems like they’re trying to avoid at least in the design of this, criminalizing of policy.
ROBERTS: And just the whole atmosphere of getting that way again. On the other hand, the rule of law is terribly important. And we have to have it -- you know, we cannot operate in this country without the rule of law.
DONALDSON: So which hand do you come down on?
ROBERTS: I’d probably come down on the rule of law.
Stephanopoulos reported on This Week that the possible Holder investigation is going to be very narrow and will not pursue policy makers or anyone who took orders directly from the policymakers. He's going after "rogue interrogators" who inflicted more torture than was strictly allowed.
The Village roundtable all gasped in horror anyway because who knows where such an investigation might lead and as Cokie complained, it would mean that the whole town would be mad at each other again and nobody wants that! "Everybody hates each other and the poison gets very thick." She did finally come down on the side of following the rule of law even though it would make her uncomfortable at cocktail parties, but it was a close thing.
Bob Woodward was very upset at the idea that the government can't keep secrets because "we need them!" Besides, Holder shouldn't be like Janet Reno and just initiate investigations willy nilly. (He seems to think that Reno authorizing independent counsels to investigate her own president for trivial political reasons is the same thing as investigating whether the previous administration tortured prisoners.) They all chuckled at the notion that Holder was really independent and if he is, that means he's a rogue interrogator himself.
George Will thought it was all just a bunch of balderdash because nothing bad ever happened during the Bush administration. Sam Donaldson said that reporters should probably pursue stories and Donna Brazile added that these things were coming out anyway so they might as well be investigated.
They all snorted and giggled and laughed throughout the whole segment about how silly it was to be upset that the CIA lied because well, that's what it does. And they all thought it was a ripping good joke that Cheney kept everything secret because well, everyone knows that's what he does. Hahahahaha.