Monday, February 15, 2010


QOTD: El Cid

Ross Douchebat proposes a high standard for “bipartisan” health care reform:

For Republicans, it means doing only those things that legislators of both parties can agree on — a far more stringent standard, and one that would produce a very different bill.

(No link, you can find his dreck at NYT.)

So, yeah. As long as Democrats agree to do only what Republicans want them to do on health care ‘reform’, we can have a “bipartisan” agreement.


The sentiment Paul Volcker expressed yesterday couldn't be more accurate.

Congress has never been more dysfunctional than it is right now, and it's preventing progress on crucial financial reform, lamented Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS."

"Capitol Hill -- the Senate - is dysfunctional. I'm very disturbed by the trend in the government generally and its inability to get together and do things," said Volcker, who serves as a top outside economic adviser to President Barack Obama.

Volcker said he had hopes that financial reform would prove an exception to that trend. "This is a relatively neutral subject politically. The need is so clear here, and it's not an ideological issue -- it shouldn't be anyway.... It's a practical issue. And I'm disturbed that they can't get together."

To illustrate the degree of dysfunction, Volcker pointed to the fact at a time when reforming the financial system is such a priority the Senate still hasn't confirmed high-level Treasury officials. In contrast, in 1969 he was nominated as undersecretary of treasury by Inauguration Day and confirmed about a week later, Volcker recalled.

"We are more than a year after the inauguration and neither the undersecretary for international [affairs] or the undersecretary for domestic finance -- you don't have them. It's not because people haven't been put forward. It took them a long time to get them nominated and an impossible amount of time to get them confirmed.... What's going on here?" Volcker asked.

Good points, all. The Senate's dysfunction is a national scandal, and Volcker's right to be frustrated.

And while I agree wholeheartedly with the concerns, Volcker left out one extremely relevant word: Republicans. Volcker summarized the problem nicely, but neglected to mention that we all know exactly what's causing the problem.

It's not like there's any great mystery here. It's not that "the government" is suffering from an "inability to get together and do things." There are key vacancies, the president has nominated qualified officials, and a Senate majority was wanted to confirm these nominees for months.

But Republicans won't allow the votes to happen. That's a disgrace that undermines the government's ability to function during a crisis, and I'm glad Volcker is shining a light on the problem. Let's not forget, though, exactly who's to blame.

DougJ: Deja vu all over again

I’ve said before that if Republicans get the House or Senate back in 2010, we will see bullshit investigations 24/7 the same way we did after the 1994 elections. There’s certainly no denying that their tactics so far have been right out of the Gingrich/Dole playbook. E. J. Dionne:

So in Clinton’s case, Republicans voted to a person against his economic recovery plan that—combined with President George H.W. Bush’s deficit-reduction moves—put the nation on the road to budget surpluses. Remember those? And then they killed Clinton’s health-care plan.

Under Obama, Republicans have used precisely the same tactics without facing any criticism for a lack of originality. Obama’s stimulus bill got three Republican votes in the Senate, none in the House, and GOP lawmakers rail against it even as they claim credit for projects financed by a bill they opposed. And Republicans are doing all they can to make sure that Health Care 2.0 is ruined by the same political viruses that infected Health Care 1.0 under Clinton.

Confronting the highly disciplined Republicans, Obama and Clinton both had to rely on a Democratic Party whose ranks, especially in the Senate, include a lot of people ready to abandon the battlefield at the first sign of bad poll numbers.

And they share a major weakness: Both believe so devoutly in their capacity to convert adversaries and to get lions and lambs to lie down together that they spend more energy trying to win over their enemies than rallying their friends. This leaves them helpless when the lions continue to devour the lambs.

Marshall: Out of Patience

TPM Reader TW is out of patience ...

Let's put the blame for this lack of action and acomplishment squarely where it belongs: Obama. He has noble intentions of "changing the tone" in Washington, but sometimes high-mindedness is simply naiveté. Enough with the Gandhi-esque s--t - it's time to pass some bills that will make a positive impact in the lives of millions of Americans.
John Cole: Your Liberal Media At Work

Two quick pieces. The first:

Sarah Palin. Mike Huckabee. Newt Gingrich.

Today, that is a list of paid Fox News political analysts. Two years from now, it could be a list of Republican presidential candidates.

A former Fox analyst, Angela McGlowan, entered a House race in Mississippi last week. Over at MSNBC, Harold E. Ford Jr. was on the payroll until a few weeks ago, when he told his boss that he was seriously contemplating a run for the Senate from New York. TV names are also constantly being run through the candidate rumor mill. There is a “Draft Larry Kudlow” movement. There is also talk of a political bid by Lou Dobbs, who left CNN last fall.

“It does seem amazing how many are being either discussed as candidates, rumored as candidates, or are actually doing it,” said Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC.

Television and politics have always been intertwined, but never to this degree, TV executives and journalism professionals say. It would seem that the so-called revolving door for political operatives has been extended to the politicians themselves, at a time when cable news is more politically charged than ever.

The second piece (via the indispensable Jay Rosen):

At The A.P., a cooperative owned by its member newspapers, in-house lawyers say they are becoming more aggressive on a number of fronts. In 2009, the agency was party to 40 lawsuits, moderately up from four years ago, when the number of lawsuits was in the low 30s, according to Dave Tomlin, associate general counsel for The A.P.

But The A.P. has been vastly more assertive in appealing denied Freedom of Information Act, or F.O.I.A., requests from the federal government under the Obama administration, which came to power promising to operate a more open government and alter what some media lawyers complained was a trend toward more government secrecy in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“After 9/11, I sensed there was an element of defeatism around government secrecy,” said Mr. Tomlin, adding that news organizations were often not forceful in filing appeals of denied information requests.

It is precisely when the government is trending towards secrecy that you are supposed to become MORE vigilanyt, not less vigilant, you clowns. I guess Ron Fournier was too busy writing mash notes to Karl Rove to notice.

The weirdest thing about my shift to the left is that as a right-winger, I never felt there was anything to the charges of media bias. I thought the media was relatively fair, and if anything, lazy and insulated. Nowadays, my viewpoint has changed completely. I consistently see one side of the debate shut out and overwhelmed, by both systemic and intentional bias. Progressive and liberal viewpoints simply are not given the time of day.

John Amato:

If Democrats in Congress behaved like the Republicans have after being trounced for the last four years, the media and the Village would be screaming bloody murder at them. The Washington Post led by David Broder would be lashing out every day: 'How dare they be such obstructionists," Broder would say, and all of his colleagues would follow suit.

And like clockwork, the Dems would be afraid of a backlash from voters and would once again pass legislation like Medicare Part D, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the bankruptcy bill, to name a few.

They must pass health care to get the ball rolling on their side. You want a commission? I got one. They should put together a Procedure Commission to investigate every nook and cranny that is available to them to pass legislation.

Adam Serwer: Torture Apologist Marc Thiessen Joins The Liberal Media.

Scott Lemieux notices a new addition to influential liberal Fred Hiatt's editorial page at the Washington Post: former speechwriter Marc Thiessen, who has spent the entirety of his post-Bush administration career attempting to defend the use of torture by his former boss. I'd have to say the highlight would be the time he argued that torturing Muslim terrorist suspects was necessary because of their religion -- and since that column appeared in the Post, I'm guessing Hiatt thinks there's something to this. Clearly, Hiatt felt that between Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, and Richard Cohen he still didn't have the whole "I heart torture" contingent covered.

There's really no limit to what you can achieve in Washington as long as you leverage your efforts toward helping the powerful escape culpability for their wrongdoing. It's like the mob. You show loyalty to the right people, eventually you get made.
Steven D: Tea Bagger Planned for "Armageddon"
What sort of people are attracted to the Tea Party Movement? Booman has already shown that a plurality of them are prone to the belief that Obama has raised their taxes when he hasn't. But what else do such people believe about Obama?

Well we know for a fact that at least one of them in Massachusetts, Gregory Girard, was so convinced that Obama was forming a Gestapo like "National Security Force" that he expected armed conflict with Federal authorities. In response he did collected the following items ....

grenade type explosive devices — including tear gas and explosive pepper ball canisters ... 20 weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition ... [and] a large collection of military camouflage clothing, knives, several pairs of handcuffs, bulletproof vests and helmets, night vision goggles, a large supply of medicine, and six months' worth of food supplies ...

... which led to his arrest on weapons charges after a concerned friend of his wife informed the ATF of his weapons stash, and his wife expressed concern for her safety to local police:

On Monday, Girard's wife, a psychiatrist, contacted town police to express concern about her husband's increasing paranoia and apparent stockpiling of weapons, prosecutor Honor Segal said yesterday in court.

Kristine Girard told police that, while her husband hadn't threatened her, she was afraid to return home after an argument.

She said her husband had recently told her, "Don't talk to people, shoot them instead," and "It's fine to shoot people in the head because traitors deserve it," Segal said, reading from a police report. The ATF received its tip from a friend of Girard's wife.

But Steven D, you say (playing Devil's advocate) what's that got to do with the Tea Party Movement?

Well, I'm glad you asked that question, because apparently (as TPM has documented) he was an avid supporter of Sarah Palin and all things Tea Party-ish:

A "Greg Girard," listing his location as Manchester, Mass., has a personal page on the "Patriots of America" online network, a popular site affiliated with the Tea Party movement. The phone number listed on the page is the same as the number listed on the website of Girard's consulting firm, which appears to have been run out of his home.

Girard's apparent apocalyptic anxiety about a coming effort by federal thugs to crack down on personal liberties surfaced frequently on his Tea Party page. His writings may shed light on the mindset that allegedly led him to assemble his arsenal.

For instance, just last week, after another Tea Partier wrote a post railing against gun registries, Girard responded by invoking a potential "murderous rampage" by "state and Federal gangsta's (sic)," trying to take his weapons.

You should go read the entire TPM article on Mr. Girard just to get an idea of how delusional and angry and potentially dangerous he had become. Is he possibly suffering from a psychotic paranoid condition? Maybe, but who has been laying the groundwork for that paranoia? The likes of Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Freedom Works, et al., who have promoted these lies and slanders as the truth to their audiences and stirred up a wave of primarily white male resentment toward our first non-white President.

The real truth is that the Tea Party movement attracts a lot of people who believe the same things Mr. Giraud does. Do all of them stockpile tear gas, explosive devices, guns galore and other assorted military gear? I doubt it, but I also doubt that Mr. Girard is the only person who identifies with the Tea Partiers who has also armed himself (or herself) to the teeth in preparation for an armed conflict with the mythical Socialist/Fascist paramilitary forces they believe President Obama is assembling to forcibly take away their "freedoms" (i.e., their guns). And these individuals are the real "ticking time bombs" in our society just waiting to go off:

"There was a great potential of danger with the amount of fire power he had," [Police Chief Glenn] McKiel said, adding that Girard had assault rifles and military grade weapons along with the largest collection of ammunition he has ever seen including armor piercing bullets. "We don't think he was preparing to attack the community he was preparing for domestic and political turmoil."

I think the community of Manchester just dodged a bullet, literally speaking. Let's just hope the other deluded nuts out there are caught in time before another American community becomes the scene of a tragedy. Because anyone who doubts their existence obviously doesn't remember Oklahoma City and Tim McVeigh.


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