Friday, December 18, 2009

Black and White

It increasingly appears that "conservative" = "stupid" - at least political conservatives. The ConservaDems are no better than Repuglicans.
John Cole: Blue Dog

Means almost as stupid as Republicans:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) muscled a $154 billion jobs bill through the House on Wednesday evening just before Congress departed for a holiday recess. With the vote in serious doubt until seconds before it was gaveled to a close, Pelosi worked the floor furiously, imploring her caucus to stick with her and move the measure through.

The bill passed 217-212, but when the time on the clock expired, it was losing 208-212. A few minutes later, when it hit 214-213 and then 215-213, someone shouted “gavel it!” from the Democratic side. A bill doesn’t need the full 218 to pass—only a simple majority of those voting. The presiding officer took the suggestion and closed the vote.

Not a single Republican approved of the bill.

The slim margin is strong evidence that deficit hawks have momentum in the ideological battle between one camp that demands more spending on job creation and another, dominated by the GOP and Blue Dog Democrats, calling for immediate reductions in the deficit. Even the fact that the money was being redirected from Wall Street couldn’t sway 38 Democrats, who voted with the Republicans.

No Blue Dog is going to lose his seat in 2010 because of the size of the deficit or the national debt. Plenty of blue dogs are going to lose their seats because THEIR CONSTITUENTS HAVE NO JOBS. So obviously, the logic is clear if you are a blue dog- vote against the jobs bill.

And no doubt when these idiots lose, some internet activist somewhere will claim it is because Obama is not progressive enough and Rahm Emmanuel hates the netroots.

Rev Wright's got nuttin on these guys. But these guys are "conservative" white crazies so it's all fine. . . .

Senators team with religious right on reform obstruction Dec. 17: Rachel Maddow reports on the recent PrayerCast led by Christian activist Lou Engle and attended by sitting senators who prayed for health reform's defeat.

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DougJ: He’s in love with Jim Jones whoa

As much as I hate to link to the Politico....

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-Miss.), chairman of the Republican Governors Association, called the Democrats’ health care reform proposal “catastrophic” Thursday and compared it to the poison ingested at the infamous Jonestown cult’s mass suicide in 1978.

At a press conference, flanked by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Barbour said that if the Senate passes the health care reform bill, it would result in huge electoral gains for the GOP in 2010.


“I’ve been looking for Jim Jones and where’s the Kool-Aid. This is awful, awful policy for our country — and the people know it. The public already understands this. And the longer the debate goes on, the more the public understands that they’re going to end up paying more and that they’re going to get lower quality health care. But politically, if the nation can survive it, it will be a political windfall for Republicans.”

Barbour, Alexander, and Gregg represent the supposedly sane wing of the GOP that David Broder is always fluffing. And, in fairness, they are saner than the teabaggers and the Khmer Rogue.

But, the end, Obama is no different, not after the way he’s slapped us all in the face this week.

Contrast to this . . .


Maybe this is an esoteric point, but it occurs to me that the quality of the policy debate between competing progressive contingents is infinitely better and more interesting than the policy debate between Democrats and Republicans we witnessed over the last eight or nine months. It's probably an inconsequential observation, but I think it nevertheless speaks to a larger truth.

The thought came to me after reading two op-eds this morning -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) attacking health care reform from the right in the Wall Street Journal, and former Gov. Howard Dean (D-Vt.) going after reform from the left in the Washington Post. Both called for the defeat of the Senate Democratic plan, and both were written by leading figures on their respective side of the ideological fence, but only one had something sensible to offer.

Coburn's piece was absurd, wildly misleading, and included arguments that seemed oddly detached from the substantive reality of the debate. Dean's piece, which I personally disagree with, was nevertheless policy focused, serious, and credible. Dean's piece conveys the concerns of someone who cares deeply about health care and improving the dysfunctional system, while Coburn's piece reads like someone auditioning to be Sean Hannity's fill-in guest host.

Of course, it's not just two op-eds on a Thursday that bolster the point. Much has been made this week of the often-intense dispute between activists and wonks -- progressive reform advocates who think the Democratic plan has merit and is worth passing, and progressive reform advocates who think the Democratic plan is a failure and should be defeated. It's an important dispute, with significant implications.

But notice the quality of the debate. Note that Howard Dean, Markos Moulitsas, much of the FireDogLake team and others are raising important questions and pointing to real flaws. At the same time, note that Ezra Klein, Jonathan Cohn, Nate Silver and others are offering meaningful defenses of the Democratic plan, based on substantive evaluations.

Progressive activists and progressive wonks are at each other's throats this week, but they want largely the same goals. Their differences are sincere and significant, but the intensity of their dispute is matched by the potency of their arguments.

And then turn your attention to the other side of the divide, and notice the quality of the arguments conservatives and Republicans have offered -- and continue to offer -- in this debate. Death panels. Socialism. Hitler. Government takeover. Socialized medicine. Incomprehensible charts. Incessant whining about the number of pages in a proposal.

The United States could have had a great debate this year about one of the most important domestic policies of them all. But Americans were denied that debate, because the right didn't have an A game to bring. Intellectual bankruptcy left conservatives with empty rhetorical quivers.

But as it turns out, it's not too late for the debate, we were just looking in the wrong place. We expected the fight of the generation to occur between the right and left, when the more relevant and interesting dispute was between left and left.

Time will tell who'll win, and no matter what happens, the argument will continue beyond this one piece of legislation. But regardless what side of the dispute you're on, it's worth appreciating the vibrancy, energy, and seriousness with which progressives are engaging in the debate, as compared to the incoherent, ridiculous, and dull qualities our friends on the right have brought to the table.

Krugman: Health care and Iraq

Steve Benen is right: for the most part the debate among progressives about whether the final product on health reform is worth supporting has been edifying. Serious people are making serious arguments, in a way that puts conservatives, who have offered nothing but smears and lies, very much to shame.

That said, some of the arguments here annoy me — in particular the line I’ve been hearing from some quarters that progressives who say we should hold our noses and pass the flawed Senate bill are just like the “liberal hawks” who supported the Iraq war.

No, they aren’t. And I don’t say that just because, as it happens, I stuck my neck way out in opposing Iraq, and was more or less the only columnist with a spot in a major newspaper to say outright that the Bush administration was misleading us into war.

Look, I don’t know for sure what motivated the liberal hawks; you’ll have to ask them. Some, I hope, were genuinely naive: despite all the signs that we were being sold a bill of goods, they just couldn’t believe that an American president would start a war on false pretenses. Others, I suspect, were being careerists, aligning themselves with where the power seemed to lie; sad to say, their career calculations were justified, since to this day you’re generally not considered “serious” on national security unless you were wrong about the war.

What’s going on with health care is very different. Those who grudgingly say “pass the thing” — a camp I have reluctantly joined — aren’t naive: by and large they’re wonks who have looked at the legislation quite carefully, understand both its virtues and its flaws, and have decided that it’s a lot better than nothing. And there isn’t much careerism involved: if you’re a progressive pundit or wonk, the risks of alienating the people to your left are at least a match for the risks of alienating people to your right.

Now, the pass-the-thing people could be wrong. Maybe hopes of improving the new health care system over time, the way Social Security has been improved, will prove to have been fantasies; or maybe rejecting this bill and trying again, a strategy that has failed many times in the past, would work this time. But it’s a carefully thought-out, honest position. And arriving at that position has, in my case at least, required a lot of agonized soul-searching.

And maybe I’m being unfair, but I don’t seem to see the same degree of soul-searching on the other side. Too much of what I read seems to come from people who haven’t really faced up to what it will mean for progressive hopes — not to mention America’s uninsured — if health care reform crashes and burns, yet again.

This is a moment of truth; it’s not a time for cheap shots or name-calling.

Matthews, proving once again that he knows nothing. Many of the Netroot's most prominent sites are run by people with years of experience on the Hill.

Think Progress: Matthews: The netroots ‘get their giggles from sitting in the backseat and bitching.’

Today on MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews brought on John Heilemann from the New Yorker to talk about President Obama’s popularity with Democrats. When Heilemann noted that the “Democratic left” has been “trashing the health care bill” this week, Matthews said that those people were part of the “netroots” and not “regular grown-up Democrats”:

MATTHEWS: I don’t consider them Democrats, I consider them netroots, and they’re different. And if I see that they vote in every election or most elections, I’ll be worried. But I’m not sure that they’re regular grown-up Democrats. I think that a lot of those people are troublemakers who love to sit in the backseat and complain. They’re not interested in governing this country. They never ran for office, they’re not interested in working for somebody in public office. They get their giggles from sitting in the backseat and bitching.

Watch it:

The biggest, weirdest tent ever. . .
Has the left departed on health reform? Dec. 17: Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, joins Rachel Maddow to talk about the new liberal members of the de facto "kill the bill caucus" in Congress and offers analysis on whether delay means defeat for health reform.

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