Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Potpourri

The NYT's Adam Nagourney has an item today that hints at a meme that the media establishment will be eager to embrace: when Democrats were swept into office, they misread their mandate.

Some of the party's least progressive leaders seem anxious to help.

Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, said the atmosphere was a serious threat to Democrats. "I do think there's a chance that Congressional elites mistook their mandate," Mr. Bayh said. "I don't think the American people last year voted for higher taxes, higher deficits and a more intrusive government. But there's a perception that that is what they are getting."

Perhaps. But wouldn't that "perception," which is clearly wrong, be easier to correct if leading senators like Evan Bayh were more forcefully setting the record straight?

I obviously didn't hear the full exchange between Bayh and Nagourney; maybe the Hoosier offered a strong defense of the party that didn't make the article. But the quote is a bit of a mess. After all, Obama and congressional Dems cut taxes with the recovery package; the huge deficits were inherited from Bush/Cheney fiscal irresponsibility; and the government isn't becoming more "intrusive," especially when compared to the GOP officials who endorsed warrantless surveillance of Americans' communications.

There are, no doubt, widespread misperceptions about the public policy landscape. What Republicans lack in reason and governing abilities they make up for with an unparalleled ability to get people to believe things that aren't true. But isn't that why it's up to prominent Democratic lawmakers like Evan Bayh to help highlight the truth?

As for the bigger picture, I'm not entirely sure what the larger point -- the "mistook their mandate" tack -- even means. Democrats presented voters with a policy agenda, and the electorate handed the party the reins. Since then, despite unprecedented obstructionism from Republicans, Dems have gone about trying to pass the agenda the party ran on.

Isn't that what majority parties are supposed to do? How would Bayh have preferred to see Democrats govern in 2009?

digby: Taking The Bait
I too wasn't crazy about the bank tax because it isn't really all that much money. After all they are on course to award over a hundred billion in bonuses for one year alone) and it doesn't get to the long term problem of obscene executive compensation and the resultant bad incentives.

But like Atrios,I'm gobsmacked at how quickly the Republicans abandoned their phony populism and jumped to the defense of their rich patrons. This one seemed like an easy one, but you can tell that even the teabaggers just cannot wrap their minds around regulating and taxing the people who drove the economy into the ditch.

Maybe the Democrats will be so inspired that they might actually think it's a good idea to push through some real reforms since the political benefits are now obvious. Push that button and the Republicans rush to cameras and immediately start defending the indefensible.

Meanwhile, here's Obama's Saturday address which is on this subject. It's pretty good:

Proving that all the idiots are not republicans and teabaggers, there is a considerable movement of liberals who are extremely angry with Obama not achieving everything he said he would do, and are really going to show him by staying home and not voting. More teabaggers winning will certainly show everyone, won't it.
John Cole:
Lost Their Damned Minds

I’ve been receiving daily emo emails from a website called “make them accountable,” and today’s version blamed Coakley on… Obama. I finally had enough and unsubscribed and said I can’t take any more of this emo progressive bullshit, and the owner of the list responded that I should be apologizing because I helped Obama get elected.

I swear to God these people have seriously lost their damned minds. Has anyone checked out Hillary is 44?

Sullivan: Two Scenarios

A reader writes:

Coakley wins, HCR passes, things continue to generally suck, Democrat's depressed mood deepens, tea party boils, GOP wins blow out in 2010.
Coakley loses, HCR goes down to defeat, Democrats rise in fury, tea party fails to offer credible alternative, a finally furious Obama is handed the best foil since Dewey didn't beat Truman, Democrats pick up three Senate seats in 2010, HCR passes with robust public option and Medicare buy-in, polar bears saved.
Sullivan: "My Vote For Brown Isn't A Vote Against Obama"

A reader writes:

I was a very early supporter of Obama. I was living in New Hampshire two years ago. I signed up to go door-to-door to talk to people about his candidacy and in contrast to Hilary. I trudged through feet of snow in the week before the primary. I entered homes and had great discussions with my fellow residents. I went to Claremont, NH and shook Obama's hand. I rallied the night before the primary in Concord. He lost the state but I knew we were on the right side of history.

I'm with you in thinking that Obama is the best thing the Democrats have going for them right now. But I also think that in having the supermajority, they actually undercut him. They don't have to compromise and so they don't try to. Instead, what passes as legislation is a horrid mismash of corporate interests and traditional, not progressive, balms of the Democratic Party. I know this country can do much, much better. And I think Obama needs a less powerful Democratic party to make it happen, like Clinton did.

For all the reasons you cite about Coakley, I'm voting for Brown. But let me add a few more.

I'm a split-the-ballot kind of guy. I don't think the dominance of the political system by one party is ever good for the country. Too much changes too quickly and without the necessary compromises to slow the pace and make it more realistic. We all agree that the GOP is a mess. But we also all agree that we need a stronger GOP. And despite the rhetoric, I can't think of a better candidate to help than Scott Brown. He's not perfect, but if he thinks he can go along with the national GOP and keep the seat in the next election, he's going to be out of a job. In voting for him, I hope he'll moderate that party. And that's what's funny to me about the rush of support he's getting from the Right. If a Republican from Massachusetts isn't a RINO to them, I don't know who is. It also helps that Brown has already voted for a health care plan with a public option. So to someone like Malkin who was ready to toss away a Congressional seat in NY for "purity", I now laugh at their support of Brown

My only hesitation in voting for Brown is how that vote will be spun by the mediots in the Beltway. Let me say emphatically that my vote for Brown isn't a vote against Obama. It's a vote against the Democratic Party, and hacks like Coakley, but also a vote to help moderate the GOP. One more New England Republican is necessary. Of all the places the GOP might find it's path again I hope it's from where it was born.
Think Progress: James Dobson to start new nonprofit and radio show, giving him ‘greater leeway to hold forth on politics.’
Last year, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson announced that he would be stepping down from his organization but would “continue to host Focus on the Family’s flagship radio program, write a monthly newsletter and speak out on moral issues.” The group had been suffering from financial troubles, laying off more than 100 staffers. However, Dobson recently announced that in March, he and his son will instead be launching a new nonprofit and radio show called “James Dobson on the Family.” While the current Focus on the Family President has insisted that Dobson just wants to “share his life’s work and passion with his only son,” the New York Times notes that the new venture will allow Dobson “greater leeway to hold forth on politics.” The Colorado Springs Gazette also reported:

Dobson’s departure from Focus only to start a similar ministry has some outside obervers speculating that Dobson was forced out of Focus and that a bitter Dobson decided to create a competing organization. Dobson, they say, may also feel that Focus’ kinder and gentler approach under CEO and president Jim Daly is not doing the trick, motivating Dobson to start a family nonprofit where fiery rhetoric is the norm. Both Focus and Dobson deny these reasons.

As Steve Benen has noted, “Few modern figures on the political scene hate quite as many people, with quite as much intensity, as James Dobson. Gays, minority faiths, the First Amendment, Girl Scouts, SpongeBob Squarepants…if you don’t think, act, or believe as Dobson does, you’re an enemy. (One of my personal favorites is when Dobson insisted that gay marriage ‘will destroy the Earth.’ He wasn’t kidding.)”

Update Meanwhile, Focus on the Family is reportedly planning to run a 30-second, anti-choice TV ad during the Super Bowl featuring Florida Gators star quarterback Tim Tebow. The Denver Post reports:
Tebow and his mother will share one of their many positive personal stories, Schneeberger said, but he wouldn't reveal which one. One contender is Pam Tebow's decision to carry her son to term despite a life-threatening pregnancy in the Philippines, where she and her husband, Bob, were serving as Christian missionaries.

Seems important to end with a laugh...
Le mot merde

It is a rare occasion when I agree wholeheartedly with a Townhall author, but I must confess, this piece by Bill Murchison really made me think. Specifically, it made me think, “the reason I rarely agree with Townhall authors is that they are idiots.”

Murchison has written an article about how he prefers good writing to bad writing. He starts this article with a first sentence that he seems quite proud of, something Classic along the lines of “Call me Ishmael” or similar. Unfortunately it reads rather more like “Ishmael is the call-me I go by, old bean!” Or something:

Can’t stand to watch the English language’s losing encounter with the culture of who-cares-anyway?

To which the most common answer would probably be, “what the hell does that mean?” A more sensible answer would be, “fuck you and stop bothering me,” because that would not encourage Murchison to explain himself. Which he does, painfully and at length. His point, such as it is, is that he disagrees with a professor who wrote a book arguing that, in his paraphrase, “English, like a turbulent stream, is dynamic: always refreshing itself with new modes and models and images.” He takes exception.

So what about all this, then? Has Lynch got us dogmatic dinosaurs dead to rights? Not quite, I think. English is dynamic. Still, we can’t let the matter drop just there. The notion of language as a bulletin board for faddists needs no new friends. I fear it has too many already.

Dear Lord, someone gave Dr. Smith a Townhall column. This is a bubbling brew of barbarous bullshit, a craptastic collection of vertiginous verbiage!

The relationship between reader and writer is a delicate one, demanding trade-offs. Very well. If we are to talk via the printed page or glassy screen, let’s be sure some rules obtain: some sense of where a sentence, once started, should end, and how much of the reader’s patience it should tax. Not that here we have the entirety of the thing. What about the writer — his artistry when it comes to narration, his gift for painting with words, for evoking images? Can’t he — may it please the court — have a little fun when he talks? How much fun, though? And with what profit, or danger, to his argument?

And here you have the problem with conservatives who think they’re smart, in a nut, hold the shell. They tend to imagine that stuff like labored and belabored alliteration sounds all classy and shit, when instead, it simply sucks syphilitic sack and makes them come across like a total douche to anyone who actually understands how the language works.

To be fair, though, this is an excellent point: “Words of a single syllable, carefully aimed, can travel like bullets.” Indeed.

Hey Bill!

Bite me.

1 comment:

  1. It's taken me a while to figure out where I stand on this HCR package, and on Obama.

    I don't like a lot of what Obama's done, but when the FDL folks keep picking stupid shit to complain about (such as Gruber), I can't really get behind that.

    And to make matters worse, Greenwald has joined the anti-Gruber crusade. Usually I look to Greenwald as a voice of clarity and sanity, but I feel like he's just picking fights right now for no discernible reason.

    Good lord, people, we have better shit to worry about than Gruber and who is responsible for Coakley's close race.