Monday, November 16, 2009


It hit me the other day how deeply frustrating the endless, shrieking, right-wing obstructionism must be for the Obama Administration. No matter what they do, short of abdicating, the repubs and their noise machine will scream and shout and yell and lie - and the media will report on the repub actions as if it they are serious. It makes me weary just watching from the sidelines. It fact, it makes me "Tired."

Think Progress:
“Despite a solid Democratic majority in the Senate, Obama is on pace to set a record for the fewest judges confirmed during a president’s first year in the White House.” So far, only six of Obama’s nominees to the lower federal courts have won approval, while President George W. Bush had 28 judges confirmed and President Clinton had 27 confirmed in their respective first years in office.

The schedule may change, but it seems likely that Judge David Hamilton, President Obama's nominee to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, will come up for a vote this week. It's even more likely that Hamilton will have more than 60 votes for confirmation.

The question is whether far-right Republicans filibuster anyway. A group of 24 conservative leaders, led in part by former Reagan-era Attorney General Edwin Meese, have demanded GOP senators try to block a vote. Even if it fails, they argue, the obstructionist tactics will "send a signal." (What that "signal" represents remains unclear.)

The conservative activists have proven to be so far gone they've positioned Manuel Miranda to act as the voice of reason.

Manuel Miranda, a former Senate GOP leadership aide and chairman of Third Branch Conference, a coalition of conservative leaders that has taken an active role in several high-profile debates of judicial nominees, has questioned the push to block Hamilton.

"Respectfully, I disagree with this rally to 'vote no on the cloture' for this or any nominee that one would expect a Democratic president to nominate, if the sole purpose is to block or 'stop,' and not merely and genuinely to prolong a debate," Miranda wrote in an e-mail to fellow conservatives.

Miranda's group was formerly known as the National Committee to End the Judicial Filibuster. He was one of scores of conservative leaders who sent a letter in 2005 to Senate GOP leaders demanding they abolish the filibuster of judicial nominees.

Miranda is, of course, best known for stealing over 4,000 memos and documents related to judicial nominees from Democratic computer servers in 2004. Asked to explain his actions, Miranda once famously said, "You have no ethical duty to your opposition."

And now, even he thinks Obama's judicial nominees deserve a debate and a vote.

DougJ: Where did the dithering start?

I did some searchers on “dithering” in the New York Times and Washington Post archives. In the Times, there were eleven uses of the word post-Cheney out of a total of 47 in the past year. In the Post, there were 36 post-Cheney out of a total of 46 in the past 12 months.

Michael Gerson, Jackson Diehl, and David Broder have all accused the president of “dithereing” post-Cheney. Gerson also used the phrase about a week before Cheney’s speech. Ronald Krebs and Dana Milbank also wrote pieces accusing Obama of dithering before Cheney’s speech (Jim Hoagland also wrote a piece, praising the dithering). The phrase seems to have originated with Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation” on October 4.

It’s interesting how these words take off and I think it’s likely that neocons settled on it and that Krebs, Gerson, and Cheney all using it within a week of each other was no accident (Diehl and Broder fall more in the category of useful idiots).

The word “dithering” appeared only once on the NYT’s editorial page, in a Maureen Dowd piece satirizing Cheney.

Update. This is apropos of John’s last post, for those to whom that isn’t obvious.

Update. Halperin fronts Broder channeling Cheney. The circle is complete. Tinkers to Evers to Chance.

C&L: Cheney Worried About Terrorists Having a 'Public Platform Where They Can Spew Venom'

This is rich coming from the likes of Liz Cheney. She's worried about the terrorists having "a public platform where they can spew venom". Well the "mainstream media" has given you and your daddy one, so what's the problem? Pat Leahy explained why this fear mongering is utter nonsense on Face the Nation today. What she's worried about are her father's pesky war crimes coming to light. Not that Chris Wallace would ever ask her about that, would you Chrissy?

WALLACE: Liz, what do you worry about most, the security threat to New York, the possible danger that intelligence secrets will be disclosed, the possibility one of these guys will get off, or something else? What's your biggest concern?

CHENEY: You know, I think it is absolutely unconscionable that we are a nation at war and that the president of the United States simultaneously is denying our troops on the ground in Afghanistan the resources that they need to prevail to win that war while he ushers terrorists onto the homeland.

He's going to put these terrorists in a courthouse that is six blocks from where over 2,000 Americans were killed on the worst attack in history on the American homeland.

He's going to give them a public platform where they can spew venom, where they can preach jihad, where they can reach out and recruit other terrorists. And it is totally unnecessary.

When the attorney general says that he's bringing them to justice, he's ignoring the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asked 11 months ago to be executed for Allah. He asked to plead guilty and be executed. We should have said, "All right, you've got it."

Instead, we're bringing him and his cohorts to America. We're giving them the constitutional rights of American citizens. And the attorney general throughout the day on Friday talked about this as a crime.

He said in that same interview Mara is talking about that this will be treated like any other crime.

WALLACE: But what about...

CHENEY: There's no question but that the Obama administration now has in a completely indefensible way taken us back to a pre-9/11 treatment of terrorism...

WALLACE: But what about the...

CHENEY: ... as a crime.

WALLACE: .. argument that the Bush administration had all of these people for eight years -- they got a total of three convictions in eight years in military commissions.

CHENEY: The Bush administration worked very hard to put together military commissions. The first round of military commissions that they put together, which were based on the precedent of the FDR military commissions -- full constitutional precedent, approved by the Supreme Court in the 1940s -- were rejected by the Supreme Court.

The administration then put together a new set of military commissions approved by Congress, and they have held these guys at Guantanamo now where they are providing -- presenting no threat at all to the United States.

WALLACE: But three convictions in eight years is not much of a record.

CHENEY: You know, but I think that if you ask the family members of these people -- I mean, you saw the family members, for example, of Daniel Pearl. You know, they do not want to see the United States for no -- there's no legal, no national security, no constitutional reason why we should be giving these people a megaphone from which they can recruit future jihadis, from which they can mock the victims of these attacks, and from which they can really put the U.S. government on trial.

They'll ask for access to classified information, and they'll get access to a lot of classified information in the civilian court system.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hasn't had an especially good year. Its denials of global warming have been embarrassing; the group has lost some high-profile corporate members; its membership numbers have been exposed as exaggerated.

Now that the Chamber has been caught trying to finance a phony study on health care reform, the organization's credibility is poised to reach new lows.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an assortment of national business groups opposed to President Obama's health-care reform effort are collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation's economy, according to an e-mail solicitation from a top Chamber official.

The e-mail, written by the Chamber's senior health policy manager and obtained by The Washington Post, proposes spending $50,000 to hire a "respected economist" to study the impact of health-care legislation, which is expected to come to the Senate floor this week, would have on jobs and the economy.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "Maybe," you'll be tempted to argue, "the Chamber and its allies simply wanted to do a legitimate economic study. How do we know the report would be rigged to bolster a preconceived anti-reform narrative?"

The answer, of course, is that the Chamber's memo already points the agreed-upon conclusion of the economic review that does not yet exist. From its email: "The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document."

The Chamber's James Gelfand, who wrote the memo, said the proposal for the trumped-up economic study was "suggested by our Congressional allies." It was unclear as to who those "allies" are, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that congressional Republicans asked the Chamber of Commerce to help kill health care reform with this spurious study.

It's not exactly a plan that screams "credible, independent analysis."

If this seems vaguely familiar, it was only a month ago that a dubious study by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) was released, in the hopes of derailing the health care reform effort. It wasn't long before it was exposed as something of a political sham.

White House Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the email is "proof positive that the opponents of health reform will not let the facts get in the way of their efforts to defend to the status quo that has been so profitable for the insurance companies."

The AHIP fiasco inspired reform proponents to redouble their efforts against the conservative anti-reform scam. With any luck, the Chamber's mess will do the same.

Think Progress: Rove Attacks Obama For Bowing: He Should Do What All Presidents Have Done And ‘Not Bow To Monarchies’

This morning on Fox & Friends, former Bush adviser Karl Rove appeared on the program to bash President Obama for paying a respectful bow before the Japanese Emperor. Leading into the segment, co-host Steve Doocy claimed that there is a “long-standing precedent going back to the founding” of the U.S. that “American presidents don’t bow to anybody.” Doocy might want to do some research on President Eisenhower.

Calling the bow “inappropriate,” Rove wondered, “what’s that all about?” He added that Obama “simply can’t get it right” and that the bow is part of Obama’s “world-wide apology tour.” Rove concluded his assault with this final jab:

I think it’s best if American presidents do what they have always done — which is to stand for our small “r” republican values and do not bow to monarchies.

Watch it:

It’s true. Unlike Obama, Bush did not have a general policy of showing respect to world leaders. Instead, he opted for a special policy of showing particularly reverent displays of affection toward monarchs he liked. Presumably, Rove would have no complaints had Obama kissed and held hands with the Japanese Emperor:


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