Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Redskins behaving badly

In a season of bizzareness, this is really weird and generally sucky. Does any other team behave this way? Not surprising the team has mailed it in the past two weeks. What a mess the next coach will have to clean up. And it doesn't say much for the ownership and management the new coach will be agreeing to team up with.

Monday, December 28, 2009


So, how do you feel about Coach Zorn's decision to pull his starters just so the team could be healthy for the playoffs?

At least our long national Vinny Cerato nightmare is about over and a rebuilding job can soon begin.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Only so much sympathy for Zorn

I'm not sure I completely follow what Mike Wise is getting at here, regarding the nonsensicle fake field goal the Redskins tried at the end of the first half of last night's beatdown at the hands of the New York football Giants. Maybe that with his play-calling duties stripped, special teams remains one area the coach could exercise his authoritay? I don't know.

As much as Zorn has weathered this season with something approaching dignity and calm, and as much as the catastrophe that has become this season is not all Zorn's fault, I'm only willing to cut Zorn so much slack.

In terms of his (shabby) treatment by management, the fact remains that Zorn interviewed and accepted the offer to become the team's offensive coordinator before a head coach was in place, giving him some indication of what he was walking into. Then of course he agreed to interview for and ultimately accept the head coaching offer knowing that his defensive coordinator and much of the remaining staff had already been assembled for him. So, he willingly entered into a working environment that was, at best, unconventional, and at worst, dysfunctional.

At least with Bruce Allen now at the GM helm, the next coach should feel better about the conditions at Redskins Park.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On the Eighth Day, God Said Let There Be No Health Care

The Republican Party's Prophets of Baal (Family Research Council branch) try to call fire down from heaven to prevent an expansion of health insurance coverage for the poor.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sports Break - Good for Brian Kelly, and Wow, what happened to the Steelers?

I've enjoyed watching the before unheard of Cincinnati Bearcats go full throttle in college football these last couple of years and am glad Brian Kelly was able to leaverage that resurrection performance into the Notre Dame head coaching job. His players at Cincy seemed upset, for now, but I hope they'll eventually be happy for him.

I watched the entire Steelers-Browns game on the NFL Network last night. I usually check out of these Sunday night, Monday night games because they end too late, but stuck around for this one. Partly because I couldn't believe what I was watching. The Browns actually looked like a real football team. Have been hearing about how good this Josh Cribbs is returning kicks. And the Browns, recognizing what a weapon he is, have put him in the offense running the Wild Cat, mostly successfully. Not sure what has happened to the Steelers. The Browns D got to Rothlisberger for 8 sacks. Incredible. But for the Steelers to only put up 6 points on a 1-11 team, particularly a division rival they had beat 12 straight times, is pretty remarkable. Can't be a good day in Steelers country.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Deal or No Deal

Forgive me for not getting all into the latest "deal" being talked about in the Senate regarding health care reform and the public option, Medicare, etc. Seems like we've had a number of deals over the past several months--it reminds me of the multiple number of occasions in which it was announced that we had killed the #2 leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq a few years ago. Just get the thing done and voted on, please. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christianist Double Speak

Andrew Sullivan flags this interesting post from a graduate of the Christianist Patrick Henry College, but I most appreciated this particular quote from it:

The first argument the letter-writers are likely to hurl back at me will insist that this is about America, about its future as a moral nation. This is politics, not our personal lives. Yes it is, and that’s the problem. It is why, on my darker days, I hardly want anything to do with the American church: as a national political force, it is about a highly politicized view of the United States, and not about God, people, or love. It assumes that the church can be a political force apart from the very principles it supposedly exists to defend—that it can preach institutional hate in the political arena and expect individuals to believe it really wants to love them. (This double-mindedness is apparent throughout the PHC letter, which one moment assures that Christians just want to be left alone to “remain faithful,” then pooh-poohs “small, behind-the-scenes actions” in favor of combative politics the next.)

I'm glad someone else is picking up on this Christianist dishonest gobbledygook. That it comes from a graduate of one of Christianism's "warrior" training bastions is especially reassuring.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Somebody needs to get to know the American Constitution

Particularly, Article VI, Paragraph 3:

"...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I didn't watch the speech and haven't as of yet read the transcript, but I've read a bit about what other people have said of the speech so I guess that's the same thing.

I don't think the deadline is serious. I don't think Afghanistan can be fixed. I'm not even so sure any more that the original 2001 invasion was worthwhile.

Among the things I've read on this subject in the last two days, one of the more interesting was a column by David Brooks, of all people. Pakistan is, and probably has been for some time, as much if not more of a problem than Afghanistan. There are also some interesting thoughts at Sullivan's blog as usual, particularly from his readers, pertaining to the utility of deadlines.

Once I come upon the transcript of the speech I'll try to give this subject more serious attention.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Wars are free, etc

Greenwald on Senator Bayh:

It's impossible to find a more perfectly representative face for the rotted Washington establishment than Evan Bayh. He is the pure expression of virtually every attribute that makes the Beltway so dysfunctional, deceitful and corrupt...

When the sad and destructive history of the U.S. over the last decade is written, the coddled, nepotistic, self-serving face of Evan Bayh should be prominently included. It embodies virtually every cause.

Here's how this fierce deficit-hawk responds to Chris Wallace's question on financing our wars:

WALLACE: Senator Bayh, you brought up the question of cost, and the administration has put the cost -- and this is kind of astonishing to, I think, a lot of people -- $1 million per soldier per year, so if you sent 30,000 soldiers, that would be a $30 billion price tag.

Now, some top Democrats are talking about the idea -- the new idea of a war tax to pay for the escalation in Afghanistan. Good idea?

BAYH: No, I don't think it's a good idea, not at this point, Chris. First of all, you need to provide for the nation's security regardless of your financial situation, and there's no bigger deficit hawk in Congress than I am.

I think we need to start coming to grips with this. We're going to have a big vote coming up on the debt ceiling. I don't think we should vote to raise the debt ceiling until we have a strategy in place to get our deficits down.

So we've got to take the fiscal situation seriously, but, number one, national security comes first.
Number two, we've got to look at cutting spending in other parts of the budget before we even talk about raising taxes.

I don't know how serious Wallace's question was in tone but at least one of the Villagers put the question our there. Even to accept the argument that "national security" spending takes priority over "lowly" domestic spending, shouldn't one ought to propose some means of financing our military necessities? And to want to finance them if absolutely needed from those who can most afford to pay for them? Say hello to our Democratic Party "majority".

Friday, November 20, 2009

The (Evangelical) Kids Aren't Alright

In case you might have missed it, the usual gang of misanthrops, malcontents, and professional panty-sniffing scolds got together to try to intimidate the Democratic Majority and the rest of us:

Citing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to civil disobedience, 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.

“We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” it says.

The manifesto, to be released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush. The signers include nine Roman Catholic archbishops and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America.

They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage. They hope to influence current debates over health care reform, the same-sex marriage bill in Washington, D.C., and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Yes, the Civil Rights movement's opposition to the South's racial segregation, legal and extra-legal denial of African-American voting rights, and KKK lynching is just like the conservative religious establishment's opposition to teh gay.

But this next statement from Watergate criminal Charles "Chuck" Colson is really pretty choice:

They say they also want to speak to younger Christians who have become engaged in issues like climate change and global poverty, and who are more accepting of homosexuality than their elders. They say they want to remind them that abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom are still paramount issues.

“We argue that there is a hierarchy of issues,” said Charles Colson, a prominent evangelical who founded Prison Fellowship after serving time in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. “A lot of the younger evangelicals say they’re all alike. We’re hoping to educate them that these are the three most important issues.”

Well, poop. The old fundies have had such a good thing going, with the abortion wars, the war on Christmas, and how teh gay is going to ruin marriage. But the young Christians are ruining the mission. They must be educated. Maybe shipping these youngsters to some survival-ish camp like place or locking them in Daddy Dobson's Ministry of Truth for a while will wake them up and make them conform.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trying non-citizens, war criminals in U.S. civilian courts on U.S. soil

Conservatives unhappy about the KSM terrorist trials in NYC (h/t Andrew Sullivan):

[T]hese men are not citizens of the United States. Second, they’re accused war criminals. They simply should not be tried in U.S. civilian courts. Rather, they should either be held accountable in a Nuremberg-style international forum or treated as war criminals by a U.S. military tribunal under the mechanisms provided by Congress and approved by the Supreme Court.

Aside from the virtual certainty that the trial will devolve into a media circus, there’s an incredibly good chance that Mohammed and his comrades will go free. The fact that KSM was repeatedly waterboarded would seem to taint any subsequent evidence, including his own confession.

Hmmmm. Well, a few years ago we invaded this country and brought this guy back for a civilian trial on U.S. soil:

Immediately after Noriega's apprehension, the standby crew of a
USAF 8th Special Operations Squadron MC-130 Combat Talon at Howard AFB was alerted, and within 12 minutes had its engines running. Accompanied by U.S. Marshals, DEA, and other federal law enforcement agents, Noriega was flown to Homestead Air Force Base, under conditions of minimum radio communications.[21] He was tried on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering in April 1992. His trial was held in Miami, Florida, in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

In 1992 he was convicted under federal charges of cocaine trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering in Miami, Florida. Sentenced to 40 years in prison (later reduced to 30 years), Noriega is held at the Federal Correctional Institution, Miami, Florida (FCI Miami).[22]

The prosecution presented a case that has been criticized by numerous observers.[citation needed] The prosecution's case was completely reworked several times because problems developed with the witnesses, whose stories contradicted one another. The United States Attorney negotiated deals with 26 different drug felons, including Carlos Lehder, who were given leniency, cash payments, and allowed to keep their drug earnings in return for testimony against Noriega. Several of these witnesses had been arrested by Noriega for drug trafficking in Panama.

Some witnesses later recanted their testimony, and agents of the CIA, Drug Enforcement Administration, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Israeli Mossad, who were knowledgeable about Central American drug trafficking, have publicly charged that accusations were embellished.[citation needed] Noriega was found guilty and sentenced on September 16, 1992, to 40 years in prison for drug and racketeering violations. His sentence was reduced to 30 years in 1999.

Oh well. I guess this was very manly and legitimate of us back then.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Moving the goal posts

I haven't been getting the Washington Post for a couple of weeks now. My subscription ran out. I have sent them several emails about possibly getting the paper only delivered during the week and not on weekends when I don't read it, but I haven't heard back from them. Very strange business model these folks employ. Anyway. I did pay 75 cents for the paper today, mostly to see what college football games would be on the teevee this weekend.

Unfortunately I also turned to ye old editorial section to see what was being offered there. I saw the by-lines for Michael Gerson, former W speechwriter, and Charles Krauthammer, former I don't know what but serious right wing hack, so I didn't read either of those pieces. I also skipped over Broder's column, which, based on its headline, appeared to be a complaint that the health care reform bill passed by the House last week might spend a few dollars. But once I got into work and turned on the inter-tubes I saw one of the Balloon-Juicers had linked to it, so I forced myself to give it a glance.

Broder does indeed go on to whine about the terrible financial implications of passing the current health care reform bill. This was a bit confusing to me as I had understood that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is somewhat of a big playa in this town, had scored the House bill as reducing the budget deficit over ten years.

Oh well. Apparently the media Villagers have decided that CBO has been taken over by aliens from the planet V and that therefore, their estimates are hooey. Because The Villagers "just know" that the health care reform bill will spill all kinds of red ink cuz it's like 2000 pages long and stuff. Seriously, Broder coughs up that red herring about the bill's length. Really. Is the GOP paying him for this? To support his Teh Health Care Bill Will Bankrupt Our Children!!! claim Broder trots out former head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) David Walker who says this:

"First, the reform should pay for itself over 10 years. Second, it should not add to deficits beyond 10 years. Third, it should significantly reduce the tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded health promises that we already have. Fourth, it should bend down -- not up -- the total health-care cost curve as a percentage of" gross domestic product. "

Based on my reading of the CBO estimate, the HCR bill meets the first two of these, but Broder prefers an analysis of another House Bill by something called the Lewin Group, which claims that the HCR bill blows all four of these sacrosanct "tests". Well.

Back to the sacred four tests. I'm not sure what the business about the "trillions of dollars" of unfunded health promises (test #3) has to do with the price of tea in China. I forget but was this a requirement preceding the passage of the (Republican sponsored) prescription drug bill? Or the tax cuts, which would make paying for the "trillions of dollars" of unfunded health promises much more difficult?

In any event, what sort of provisions would reduce the "trillions of dollars" in unfunded health promises? Maybe a government plan that would negotiate lower prices with insurance companies. Ah, but the Village doesn't want this because it would constitute big gubmit taking over the sacred private health insurance companies. Sigh. I'm not clear about how we should address test #4, but it would seem as if some kind of similar public option would help.

In any event, the presence of these four "tests" or demands seemed designed to ensure that no HCR bill passes, because trying to satisfy these conditions would only create more opposition--the current House bill passed with only 220 votes out of 218 needed. Does Broder realize this?

It seems that no matter what kind of bill the House or Senate would pass or that Obama would sign, would not be enough for the Villagers, who will keep moving the goal posts, pissing on whatever passes for not accomplishing this or that "goal" that the Villagers have NOW decided is very important and insoluable to accomplishing "real" HCR.

And the Villagers should make up their mind. Do they want only an incremental type reform bill to pass, that doesn't do too much? This has always been my impression of Villager media complaints about Obama's health care reform agenda. Or do they want something super-duper comprehensive based on the four "tests", that would stand very little chance of getting enacted, largely because to accomplish those goals would require a public option, which the Villagers don't want.

Of course, none of the four "tests" say anything about covering the uninsured. The Villagers apparently don't think that's a major concern.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Abortion Amendment (updated below - Update II - Update III)

I'm probably having a senior moment, but can someone explain to me how the abortion amendment to the health care reform (HCR) bill works?

What I think I'm not understanding is, if you are a conservative Dem or a GOP member and you don't really want HCR to pass, but if it does pass you want an abortion restriction included in the bill, doesn't that mean that in voting for the amendment you are actually voting for the bill? What application does the amendment, separated from the HCR bill itself, have? The HCR bill and the amendment would seem to go hand in hand. I'm not getting how the Repubs/conserv Dems could have their anti-choice amendment attached to a HCR bill they didn't vote for.

Thanks for your patience.

Update: I think I get this now. Once upon a time I think understood that this is how it worked, that amendment votes were separate from final passage votes, but it just didn't compute for me today. It's pretty effed up that a gang of misanthrops aided and abetted by the majority party, can muck up a bill and then walk away from it without facing any accountability for the final product.

Update II: An Andrew Sullivan reader highlights the abortion-restriction procedures already included in the bill before the amendment was passed, and what added restrictions the amendment demands. It's becoming more and more clear what a poison pill this amendment was.

Update III: Via Digby, Americablog asks an intriguing question of anti-choice congresscritters who receive insurance lobby money.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Bill Kristol says Obama is doing fine

"Like [name of big-state governor], the president has taken on a string of big issues--[Afghanistan], a drastic foreign-policy overhaul, judges, plus [health care]--with predictable results. These are issues that generate political conflict. They upset settled practice, rile various institutions, stir strong opposition, and keep poll ratings low. For an activist president, lack of popularity is part of the package. "

"Crossing the finish line of his presidency with record low popularity may turn out to be a sign of substantive achievement and lasting reform."

(H/t Sullivan)

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Ten years ago this very day.

Mob rule

A mob of angry African-American men have descended on Capitol Hill and have set seige to the offices of good, upstanding members of Congress, trying to scare them into passing a new massive health care entitlement.

Oh wait.

Seriously. I'm not sure TPM is really being helpful by giving the mob this kind of attention.

I am trying to imagine, though, what the Village reaction would be to a crowd of 2,000 or so African-American men descending on Capitol Hill to try to "scare" members of Congress.

"Laws are only temporary for gays"

John Cole aptly captures the disappointment and frustration stemming from the loss in Maine:

I honestly don’t know where the gay rights movement goes from here. There have been some recent successes- there seems to be some movement on DADT, an openly gay mayor was elected in North Carolina, Washington state passed a gay rights bill, Obama signed the Shephard legislation, the HIV ban was lifted, and some other victories in other states in recent years. At the same time, I understand (as much as I can) the anger and the frustration. They did the right things- they had bills passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, followed the legitimate political process, and unlike any other civil rights issue, laws are only temporary for gays and a year later it gets overturned in referendums. It has to be maddening, and I have no answers...at this point I can’t think anything other than that they have every right to be pissed. I don’t know if it will work, but maybe the only recourse left for the gay rights movement is legitimate anger. Nothing else seems to be working.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Hoover Recovery

A Dow Jones of 10,000 (Dow 36,000!!!) has apparently inspired a new conservative meme.

What about all that out of control government spending? I thought the stimulus bill was supposed to kill the economy?

More good news for John McCain

The Senate Finance Committee health reform vote seems to have convinced some conservatives it's time to accept the idea that some type of reform bill will pass but that it will be a spectacular FAIL:

Megan McArdle: I think it is more likely is that [healthcare] passes, and fails spectacularly. There are too many moving parts, and if any of them breaks, the whole thing rapidly starts to spin out of control and eat a gigantic hole in the deficit. If it does break, I think that Democrats keep control of Congress just long enough to explain why they keep having to enact whopping new tax increases every few years. Republicans don't need to improve their message. They just have to wait for Democrats to recover their reputation as tax and spend politicians who woefully underpredict the cost of everything they propose.

So McArdle argues that health reform, if it passed, would likely fail on the basis of its....increasing the deficit? Am I understanding that right? Even if higher than anticipated deficits were to result after the reform, from the reform or other causes, and even if a majority of the American public were to notice and care about that, what exactly would the Republican Party propose to do about it? More tax cuts--in 2013 at the soonest? End the reform--in 2013 at the soonest--and throw more people back onto the uninsured rolls?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

November 2009

That's when my Washington Post subscription expires. I was already thinking of not renewing it. More offensive and irrational tripe like this will make that an easier decision to make.

Seriously, I have been a big newspaper reader for two decades, sometimes reading as many as three papers a day, though most often, two major dailies. Currently I get both the Washington Post and the New York Times delivered. But I'm getting burned out or fed up or both with all the shit in them. The Times is by far the better paper in my estimation. And sometimes the Post manages to put something informative in its main section. But all the political back and forth between the parties, the various partisan ideologues and spin-meisters each employs to provide "balance" is just getting aggravating.

The Will piece in particular just has no meaning whatsoever. It's just garbage. Why am I paying for this and allowing it to fill up my house for recycling?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reconsidering newspapers

We already know about the wit and wisdom of the Washington Post's inglorious editorial page. And while this guy has never bothered me all that much, I am getting pretty effin sick of crap like this. Basically, we had a summer full of the inmates from the insane asylum running wild with guns and threats, trying to shut down the process of reasonable political discourse in this country, but somehow the president's going on the media's array of Sunday blab shows constitutes overexposure? WTF?

Maybe in the future we can just subscribe to the Sports section. Or maybe not.

Friday, September 18, 2009


On page A10 of its paper Thursday, the Wash Post has a table entitled "The Bills Compared". I was unable to find the same table on-line, so it may only be available in hard copy. But the table's notes say its information was compiled by its staff and taken from information provided by the CBO, the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate HELP Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the latter three Committees having produced legislation.

Anyway, one feature of the table was to show how many persons are projected to still be uninsured in 2019. The House bill, with a price-tag of $1.3 trillion over ten years would reduce the number of projected insured from 54 million in 2019 to 17 million. And the House bill includes a public option. The Baucus bill, which costs almost half that of the House bill ($774 bill), and notably does not include a public option, would leave 25 million uninsured in 2019, eight million more than the House bill. The Senate HELP Committee's bill, which also includes a public option, would leave the most uninsured, 36 million, in 2019, although its costs over ten years would be only $645 bill, almost $100 bill less than the Baucus bill.

So, each of these bills would improve the number of insured persons, which is expected to increase from the 44 or 45 million or so persons uninsured today. But these bills would cost quite a bit and still leave millions uninsured. More specifically, compared to the House bill, these figures indicate it would require legislation nearly twice as expensive as the Baucus bill to get 8 million more persons insured in 2019. Granted, eight million people is still a lot, but it doesn't seem to me that another $600+ billion provides much bang for the buck.

It's possible I'm missing something here; that the long term effects of these proposals compared to doing nothing would continually decrease the numbers of uninsured, and that this longer term effect isn't reflected in these tables. But that would suggest that the substantive impact of these bills in improving access would be much delayed. If so, that point hasn't been made abundantly clear.

But for all the political flack health reform has stirred up, none of these bills really "wow" me. And I'm still waiting for the opponents of Reform to get really pissed off at the idea of individual mandates. But that would of course imply that opponents are interested in substantive issues.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If it's Thursday

It must be anti-Chavez day at the Washington Post.

Also, how can the juvenile delinquents in the back of the room simultaneously wave placards with the words "What Plan?" or "What Bill" written on them while also, in regards to the much trumpeted death panels, yell at the President to "read the bill"?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Signs of Optimism

Because unlike 1993-1994 when no real health care legislation was working its way through congress, this year health care legislation has already cleared several committees and is about to clear its final one.

In addition, current health care reform polling deserves some important qualifying, namely that, the important thing is that voters approve of a final reform bill's goals, not an imaginery one.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

No Mandate without a Public Option

There have a couple of posts to this regard at the Great Orange Satan in recent days but it bears repeating that forcing people to buy insurance (the Mandate)--which was the Hilary position in the campaign and which Obama at the time opposed and which I'm not crazy about for a variety of reasons--without providing a low-cost public option is illogical, blatantly unfair, and maybe even unconstitutional.

That there today (a) exists a private market for individual insurance and that (b) few people go for this private sector, free-market "option", should give policymakers pause about requiring people to buy into it without a low-cost, regulated public option.

The Rationing We Have

Steven Pearlstein rips Michael Steele's face off:

Indeed, Republicans seem determined to preserve the uniquely American system under which health care is rationed today -- on the basis of employment status and ability to pay. According to the respected Institute of Medicine, this market-based approach to rationing has held the number of untimely deaths each year to a mere 18,000 uninsured souls. Thanks to Medicare, all of those victims are younger than 65, but apparently that is the kind of age-based rationing that real Republicans can embrace.

After reading his broadside, one is left wondering exactly what health reform plan Steele thought he was attacking. At one point, Steele claims that Democrats would prevent Americans from keeping their doctors or an insurance plan they like. Later, he warns that government will soon be setting caps on how many heart surgeries could be performed in the United States each year. Where is he getting this stuff? Has the chairman of the Republican Party somehow gotten hold of a top-secret plan for a government takeover of the health-care system that GOP operatives snatched during a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters?

If all that sounds spurious and unsubstantiated, it is. And like many of the overstated claims in this column, its purpose is to highlight the lies, distortions and political scare tactics that Steele and other Republicans have used to poison the national debate over health reform.

Have you no shame, sir? Have you no shame?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stuff I Wish I'd Written

If we make 9/11 a national day of service, that means the terrorists will have won.

This private-public, civilian army of phone-bankers and envelope-stuffers sounds pretty teh awesome, though.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Booman Said

Vote for cloture or lose your Chairs.

Now, this isn't so hard to understand, is it?

If it's Monday...

It must be anti-Chavez day at the Washington Post.

But I'm confused, or maybe I'm just missing something.

Isn't the very pro American Colombian president--or at least his honchos in his rubber-stamp legislature--trying to ram through a constitutional amendment to allow him to run again, for a third consecutive term, which is unconstitutional?

Shouldn't we be supporting a military coup in Colombia to prevent such an undemocratic and unconstitutional thing from happening, like we did in Hondurus?

How could The Post not have thought to mention this to us?

Thursday, August 13, 2009



Getting Scarier


WESTWOOD -- A man accused of making threats against the White House led officers on a wild freeway chase that ended in a standoff outside the Federal Building.


The Secret Service is investigating a man who authorities said held a sign reading "Death to Obama" outside a town hall meeting on health-care reform in western Maryland.

The sign also read, "Death to Michelle and her two stupid kids," referring to the first name of President Barack Obama's wife, said Washington County Sheriff's Capt. Peter Lazich.

Dangerous and also super classy.


But I'm sure that swastika outside that congressperson's office was a fake.

Not Interested in Governing

That, I think, is the basic mind-set behind the townhalls, the worldview promulgated by hate radio, Faux TV, and the various astroturf freedomworks groups for the last ten years and beyond. It manifested itself, of course, in a variety of ways during the W presidency, Katrina and the occupation of Iraq being only the most disasterous examples.

The only legitimate use of government for this crowd consists almost exclusively of starting wars and harranging liberals, academics, uncoverted Hollywood actors, immigrants, secularists, and other perceived unpersons. Beyond that, there just simply isn't any interest in addressing the realities of the modern world.

Ezra Klein's column gets at this somewhat, as well.

What Matt Yglesias Said

Big Media Matt:

...Watching McCaskill on TV what I mostly thought of was that I don’t understand why members of congress are holding these town halls. There’s been so much focus on the spectacle of the whole thing that nobody’s really stepped back and explained what the purpose of these events are other than to give us pundits something to chat about. Obviously this is not a good way of acquiring statistically valid information about your constituents’ opinions. And it doesn’t seem like a mode of endeavor likely to increase the popularity of the politician holding the town hall. The upside is extremely limited, and you’re mostly just exposing yourself to the chance that something could go wrong.

I know this is a relatively older post, and with the townhalls that horse is already out of the barn or whatever.

Anyway, this has been another edition of What Matt Yglesias Said.

Friday, July 31, 2009

More Media FAIL

Pardon my French, but who gives a flying f$%$#& what this idiot woman has to say about anything?

She's a "raging Republican" who voted for McCain and that Wasilla wingnut. So, she actually voted to put that hair-brain know-nothing one heartbeat away from the presidency, and she would have us think her bitchy whining about Obama's health plan should be taken seriously? She's a partisan hack who has no business telling any of us what kind of health plan the nation should have.

Friday, July 24, 2009

That's Some Spirited Revolution You Got There

Let me see if I can get this straight. Two days ago, the founder of Free Republic, the flagship of the conservative intertubes, basically issued a Fatwah against the entire U.S. government. "The govmit is oppressing us, taking away our guns and bibles, imprisoning us in FEMA trailers, and so on, so we have a natural right to rebel and throw off said oppressive govmit, which is illegally headed by a muslim born in Kenya." Sounds pretty provocative. They even want to unilaterally dispense with some Constitutional Amendments in the process. And while the call to arms is obstensibly peaceful--they merely want everyone in the gov to resign--there's no telling what happens if this demand is disobeyed. Could get violent.

But fear not. They don't really mean it. Stay calm. Because this week, barely a day after Free Republic's call for holy war, or at least for state conventions across the heartland to secede, conservatives got all in a snit because an uppity black man in his own house in the middle of the day in a pretty swanky neighborhood protested being arrested for contempt of cop. And the illegal muslim president said the cops acted "stupidly". This was too much for the die hard patriotic rebels in the conservative movement who, immediately after collapsing onto their fainting couches at such an affront to law and order, rushed to defend the right of socialized police forces everywhere to unapologetically take away a person's Liberty and Freedom, and arrest anyone anywhere for whatever reason, even if the charges are bogus and have to be dropped later.


Not sure what this means for the conservative revolution and the spirit of '09. What happens if during their god-given right to purge the country of heretics, liberals, and humanists, these conservatives are approached nicely by the men in blue and told to stand down? I shudder to think. With this kind of meekness, defeatism, and cut-and-runism, how can we ever hope to have a non-ballot-box revolution?

The Do-Nothing Caucus

Not sure who’s been spiking Steven Pearlstein's coffee, but this observation by someone in the press is welcome:

The challenge for the Blue Dogs is that they want an America where everyone has insurance but are reluctant to force workers to buy it or employers to help pay for it.

They understand that achieving universal coverage will require subsidies for low-income workers and small businesses, but they insist that none of those changes add to the federal deficit or raise anyone's taxes.

They want to introduce more competition into the private insurance market, but not if it comes from a government-run insurance plan.

They complain constantly about the need to rein in runaway Medicare costs while at the same time demanding higher Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals in rural areas.

The fact is, that unless you have an abortion-restriction idea, or want to eliminate the right of workers to unionize, or have a new grand scheme for "tort reform", the "blue dogs" aren't interested.

Meanwhile, a news flash: McCain voters don't like Obama's health care plan:

Like many in the country, Mr. Brown, a 36-year-old father of four who lives in an Atlanta suburb, has grown increasingly anxious about Washington’s efforts to reconfigure health care and what it may mean for his middle-class family. Although he and his wife, Judith, supported John McCain in the presidential race, they find Mr. Obama an earnest and compelling pitchman. But they remain frustrated by the lack of available detail about his plan’s contours and cost.

"The bottom line is there are so many unknowns," said Ms. Brown, 35, who works part time at her church and cares for her young children. "What we do know is there is going to be more government control, and with more control you’re going to have fewer choices. It’s an innate part of being American to have those choices."


But the Browns said Mr. Obama and the Democrats had not convinced them of the need for radical change. They said the notion of establishing a new government health plan to compete against private insurers seemed un-American. They questioned the wisdom and fairness of taxing the rich. And they said individuals should bear more responsibility for staying healthy.

"I know the system is not perfect, but I’m not completely convinced it’s broken," Mr. Brown said. "And even if it’s broken, I’m not sure the government is the solution."

I see. So government "control" means no or fewer innately American guaranteed, employer provided "choices", but the addition of a government health plan "choice" to compete against other private plans is un-American. Teh stupid. It hurts.

I also guess this dude hasn't heard about Medicare. Or Medicaid. Or Social Security. Morans!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Just Do It

I've been reluctant to delve too deeply into the health care reform debate, mostly because I just haven't kept up with all the ins and outs of the policy details over the years, so I probably don't know what the hell I'm talking about (not that that has ever stopped me before). Better to leave the arguments to people like this, and this dude.

Nonetheless, even though the cat's pretty much already out of the bag in terms of political strategery, here are my thoughts, driven in part by worries over the current stalemate and reactions to Obama's presser last night.

1. Drop the word "reform" from the issue. It sounds too much like "overhaul" and my guess is that's what scares some people, many of whom already have coverage, and provides openings for obstructionists.

2. Focus on the basic goals--expanding access and reducing costs. The first, it seems to me, needs to be addressed by something like a public option, a Medicare-like buy-in. My sense from most polls and political discussion generally is that this is seen by much of the public as a worthwhile objective. The second is related to the first, that the problems of cost are partly a function of higher cost, profit-driven system that's inefficient. Expanding access through a public option could help lower costs.

3. Don't make a big deal of it. Whether in some objective sense the American health care system is in crisis, I'm not sure the public has been so receptive to such an appeal (see: 1994). Leave the alarmism for the conservatives, many of whose concerns have been aptly demonstrated as contradictory.

4. Keep the bill as simple as possible, try to address any reasonable concerns Democratic opponents might have, and if their objections aren't reasonable, subject them to public ridicule. Reach out to certain select Republicans, but since Democrats have large majorities in both houses of Congress, don't fret too much about bipartisanship.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The "birthers" are sore losers. Plain and simple.

Gosh, times are gettin' so rough, a Republican congressman can't even go to his own townhalls anymore.

Look. In addition to being psycho nutjobs, the "birthers" are just sore losers. Plain and simple.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Giving the blue dog dems what they want

From TPM I learn that the blue dog dems are unhappy with the pace of health reform legislation--or that it is being discussed at all--and want Obama and everybody else to slow the hell down on it.

Since these loyal blue dog dems seem to have too much going on for the next five months--maybe they all have really hot dates or something--I thought I would try to solve the impasse by suggesting some alternative timelines for reform, which I hope the loyal blue dog dems will like.

1. December '10 after the congressional elections, that way if the Republicans should happen to pick up even one seat in either house, the Blue Dogs can claim that the public just issued a stinging rebuke to Obama's health reform efforts and any reform if it precedes at all, should be delayed for an indefinite period.

2. December '12, after the presidential elections. If Obama wins by a margin smaller than 8% or so, the Blue Dogs can claim that he lacks a mandate, etc. If Obama loses, then of course, the Blue Dogs can spend their time kissing Repub as#$@. If Obama wins by 8% or more then the Blue Dogs can say that of course health reform should be done right away, just as soon as a comprehensive plan to slash Social Security and Medicare spending is passed.

3. March '15, If Obama wins in '12, this would be an opportune time to cement his legacy during the time he's a lame duck when people really care what he says and about his agenda.

4. August '17, after there's a new president and after entitlement reform.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Uh oh:

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's opinions show support for the rights of criminal defendants and suspects, skepticism of corporations, and sympathy for plaintiffs alleging discrimination, an analysis of her record by The Washington Post found. And she has delivered those rulings with a level of detail considered unusual for an appellate judge.

Holy shit, Batman. Support for the rights of criminal defendants and suspects! Skepticism of corporations! Sympathy (empathy!) for plaintiffs alleging discrimination?! That some damn crazy shit. Say it ain't so. See, that's why we can only have old white men on the Supremes.

And apparently, Ms. Mayor delivers opinions with a "level of detail considered unusual...". Really?! Seems like just yesterday when Sotomayor was being cast as an ignorant, Latina dope, unworthy of the majesty required of a Supreme Court Justice.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

GOP now against "the troops"


The House GOP will vote en masse against the new war funding bill. What about the troops? For the House GOP, they take a back seat to sticking a finger in the eye of the IMF.

I heard this earlier on Democracy Now when Amy Goodman described how the WH was attempting to "persuade" some more liberal House members NOT to vote with the GOP against the supplemental war funding measure.

I guess the GOP was for the troops before they were against them.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our sucky political-media establishment

Chris Bodenner, guesting at Andrew Sullivan's pad, sums it up:

The civilians of Iraq and Afghanistan have endured eight years of collateral damage yet our political establishment says we can't handle the collateral fear of a few dozen men in shackles.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pope in Holy Land: orthodoxy bad

Abroad in the Holy Land, from which Christians, a minority there for centuries, continue to flee, the Pope has a Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus conversion on the virtues of diversity and the vices of "extremism" and "orthodoxy":

He said: “While understandable reasons lead many, especially the young, to emigrate, this decision brings in its wake a great cultural and spiritual impoverishment to the city. Today I wish to repeat what I have said on other occasions: in the Holy Land there is room for everyone!”

On Sunday in Jordan the pope argued that Christians had a role here in reconciliation, that their very presence eased the strife, and that the decline of that presence could help to increase extremism. When the mix of beliefs and lifestyles goes down, orthodoxy rises, he implied, as does uniformity of the cultural landscape in a region where tolerance is not an outstanding virtue.

So, "tolerance" is now a virtue, while "orthodoxy", "extremism", and "uniformity of the cultural landscape" are now bad? Pretty shocking stuff from the former Head of the Office of the Inquisition, responsible for forcing Roman Catholic orthodoxy. I imagine this new-found appreciation for tolerance and diversity will last as long as it takes for the pope to board his private jet back to Rome, but at least it provides a basis for Christians of alternative views and cultural environments to throw the pope's words back at him when his holiness reverts to the demands of religious conformity.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

If it's Thursday, if must be Anti-Chavez Day at the Washington Post

Consider, if you will, this statement of breathtaking ignorance:

The administration's strategy -- to open up a constructive dialogue with Venezuela and avoid being cast as Mr. Chávez's Yanqui foil -- is reasonable; it is also the same strategy as was tried, unsuccessfully, by the previous two administrations.

That's true, I guess, if you think that trying to overthrow their democratically elected government (in 2002) and replace it with a military dictatorship amounts to "constructive dialogue".

Then there's this, the logic of which I can't even begin to fathom:

["constructive dialogue"] makes it more rather than less likely that Venezuela, with the help of Iran and Russia, will become a threat to the United States.

What is this, Red Dawn? That's the kind of paranoid, fear-mongering lunacy only the commenters at Red State (and I guess Fred Hiatt at the Wash Post) would believe.

Friday, April 24, 2009

When elections are lost

I don't see any connection here between the Pakistani Taliban and American conservatives, do you?

Meanwhile, with Taliban fighters occupying more and more areas in the northwest and vowing to bring Islamic justice to the region, political and professional leaders have fled. Few officials from the ANP (the democratic, secular party--Bulworth) and Zardari's Pakistan People's Party dare visit the constituencies that voted for them in the February 2008 elections. Mohammed Khan, a lawyer from Swat who fled the region last month with his family, recounted how pressure from the insurgents prevented secular candidates from holding rallies or campaigning before the elections. But their two parties swept the polls, while religious ones fared poorly.

"One [Islamist] party used the symbol of a book, telling people it was the Koran, but Swatis voted for the lantern of the ANP," Khan said, referring to the symbols used on ballots to indicate a candidate's party. "Now the ANP has had to swallow the bitter pill of sharia rule, but how can anyone say the people wanted that? They have been pushed into a corner, and now no one is there to defend them."


I really don't see any connection here between Pakistani Taliban, which lost out in that country's elections but are now trying to obtain through the gun what they couldn't earn at the ballot box--and the various reichwing American militia movements threatening to conduct an armed "demonstration" march on Washington. No connection at all. Nor do I see any similarity between these Pakistani Taliban and various reichwing leaders who want their states to secede in the aftermath of their party's losing two straight elections at the ballot box; I also don't see anything similar between the Pakistani Taliban's violent behavior and rhetoric after losing an election and Faux news hosts who after their party has lost two straight elections, simultaneously broadcast from a "bunker" while trying to incite their listening audience to claim that they have the nation's capitol "surrounded". I don't really see any comparisons here at all. Nor should anyone draw any conclusions as to the like-mindedness of those Pakistani Taliban who want to enshrine Islamic-biblical law and conservative American reichwingers who want to enshrine Judeo-Christian-biblical law in place of the U.S. Constitution. The fact that religious parties lost in both countries and that both are reacting largely along the same, militaristic lines, should not imply that the American reichwing is just like the Pakistani Taliban.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Rachel Maddow is a goddess.

And I'd also like to officially announce that my crush on Ana Marie Cox is back on.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Deep Thought

Isn't it about time the media made another call for a revote in Minnesota's U.S. Senate race?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The end of the free market as we knew it

Well, a lot's been happening. There was the AIG bonus hullabalu. Who was to blame for these payments going out, and who knew what and when did they know it? And should we really fuss over these bonuses which are a minute fraction of the dough we shilled out to AIG in the first place, some of which has gone to those street people, Goldman Sachs, and foreign companies and on and on. Blah blah blah.

Meanwhile, last year's election losers, and of the election cycle before that, have morphed into tea party people, gathering in small groups around the country to vent about big government, deficits, taxes, and any number of things of which they know little.

Nobody's happy. Everybody's angry. I'm a bit angry, too. Angry, or maybe disallusioned would be a better aproximation, because it seems as if the central facts of the current crisis, the malaise if you will, are still not being made clear. And what are those central facts of which I speak?

Well, while I can't speak with certainty about everything going on today, or to the wisdom or foolishness of the government's latest bailout plan, there are some key facts which seem rather beyond dispute. And those facts are that the free market economy worshipped by our country's elites and conservative yakkers is kaput. It commited suicide last fall, after a long period of deranged and unregulated behavior. And without the government's stepping in to bail out AIG and its cronies, we would be in a lot worse shape than we are today.

Congressional and media Republicans, and the tea people's subsequent complaints about "government" are so 1979. They have no idea of what has happened to their precious market and seemingly no self awareness about anything. If government was the problem in 1980 when Reagan came to power, the free market itself is the culprit today, and the government had to save it (and the rest of us lest the market kill us along with itself). It's as simple as that.

Recommended reading:



Friday, March 06, 2009

Orwell watch: special cram-down edition

I was glad to see the House pass Obama's mortgage plan, and also got a chuckle from this remark by a spokesperson of the Mortgage Association:

The House yesterday passed legislation that would allow bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of troubled home mortgages, overcoming fierce opposition from the financial industry.

The bill, a package of housing-related initiatives, passed 234 to 191, largely along party lines. It now heads to the Senate, where it will face a tougher fight but has the backing of some powerful members.

Under the legislation, bankruptcy judges could cut the principal on a homeowner's mortgage as well as reduce the interest rate and extend the terms -- provisions known as cramdowns.


This year, the measure also faced opposition from moderate Democrats who forced concessions that require, among other things, a homeowner to share with the lender any profit from the eventual sale of the home if a judge lowers the principal balance. The compromise version also gives preference to reducing a homeowner's interest rate over cutting the principal balance.

"We are pleased that the House moved to limit the harm this bill will do to consumers, and we want to work with the Senate to further contain the damage," David G. Kittle, chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry group, said in a statement.


Ah yes. We, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America are expressly concerned about the impact this bill will have for consumers. Including that provision we demanded about making sure lenders get some of any profit from the homeowners, er, "consumers".

John Boehner is on some serious crack

Calls for government spending freeze.

This reminds me of a much quoted story from the Civil War when Lincoln, exasperated with the inaction (sound familiar?) of General McClellan, initiated a war plan on his own, setting a date to begin the battle, and remarking that "if the general isn't using the army, he (Lincoln) would like to borrow it for a while."*

If Boehner, David Brooks, Evan Bayh, Judd Gregg, Lou Dobbs, and CNBC don't want to use the government for anything, we would like to borrow it for awhile.

*quotation approximate

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

On moderation, budgets, and the work of government

I don't know who's been spiking Joe Klein's oatmeal these days, but he is almost starting to make me like him again:


David Brooks writes today as a moderate-conservative anguished by Barack Obama's budget. I've known David for almost twenty years now. We've had many wonderful conversations, publicly and privately, over those years, and I value the quality of his mind, his decency, his essential sanity. We both consider ourselves moderates, though of different sorts.

But I disagree with him profoundly about the Obama budget--and so, I would venture, do most moderate-liberals. The budget has to be seen in context. We are at the end of a 30-year period of radical conservatism, a period so right-wing that many of those now considered "liberals"--like, say, Barack Obama--would be seen as moderate pantywaists in the great sweep of modern political history. The past 30 years have been such a violent departure from the norm, such a profound destruction of the basic functions of government, that a major rectification is called for now--in rebalancing the system of taxation toward progressivity, in rebuilding the infrastructure of the country, not just physically, but also socially and intellectually.


Here's hoping the regressives in Congress and the media will not thwart the attempt to undo the havoc of the last few decades and allow us to make our system work again.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I'm sure more tax cuts and less regulation are the answer

Or we could keep killing off what labor unions are still left.

But whatever we decide to do, more better policy ideas are definitely NOT the answer.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

"CPAC is just unpleasant"

Via Firedoglake, one conservative's take on the recently concluded conservative political action committee conference:

Tucker Carlson mildly suggests that conservatives need more than their feelings. That, whatever you think of the bias of the New York Times, they at least care that they spell your name correctly, and they actually do something: gather news.

He was booed and challenged by the audience of course.

Joe the Plumber was the star of the day. I haven't confirmed this, but I was told he recently briefed a group of Republicans on his trip to Gaza. I don't care what your foreign policy is: Joe the Plumber shouldn't be informing it.

All day, the message I got was this: The movement enjoys being hated by its enemies, more than it cares about its own goals. It is populist, and irresponsible. A little popularizing is good, a little political theatre is good.

CPAC is just unpleasant. And it is not just the elites flattening the ambitions of the people, it is the people dumbing down their own elites. Well-adjusted people, even if they feel alienated from certain parts of American society don't wish to be hated by society. People who want to advance some goals, want more responsibility, not less. I hate that CPAC seems to give credibility to Adorno: that conservatives have defective personalities.


Maybe we can pony up the money so the CPAC can bring its freak show to town every six months. The more the better.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Post wants do-overs for Republicans

Balloon Juice's DougJ wonders where the f%$# this is coming from:

Baltimore, Md.: Speaking of junior senators, do you see Al Franken being seated anytime before 2010?

Shailagh Murray: Perhaps, but it seems more and more likely that the Minnesota race will wind up as a re-vote. At this point it seems like the quickest way to resolve the situation.

and later:

Al Franken Revote Really?: Star Tribune just published an article on the front page which discusses Coleman’s dwindling chances. The Politico last week published an article discussing Coleman’s need for a miracle. Election experts from Minnesota are discussing the math which makes a Coleman comeback extremely difficult and the higher courts taking this case an unlikely prospect. How did you arrive at this recount theory? I think the only folks advocating this are a FEW Republicans who see this as Coleman’s only realistic hope for overturning the results of November.

Shailagh Murray: I don’t have a revote “theory.” I’m just wondering how long this is going to sit in the court system. If Coleman looks desperate, why not just hold another election and beat him handily?But there’s a process in place here, and we can only assume both parties will abide by it.

From the comments we see that a non-reporter has recognized that a revote isn't an option. Funny how the Post's political reporter can't seem to figure that out.

And yeah, sure, why not just hold another election? That's what the Post called for in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 presidential elections? Remember? Oh yeah, they didn't. Between Murray who wants a revote for this one special election that the Republicans keep litigating and op-ed writer George Will who thinks state legislatures should take back the selection of U.S. Senators, WTF?

And what if the revote came down to a few votes difference just like this one, Shailagh Dearest? Do we keep demanding a revote until Coleman comes up ahead?

Again from the BJ comments, KC in DC says:

[Murray]If Coleman looks desperate, why not just hold another election and beat him handily?

Maybe because that’s not what the law says? How does that question even make sense? "If Coleman looks desperate"? Hey, McCain seems pretty desperate now, why not have a revote of the presidential election?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What's wrong with Thomas Frank?

He'd rather have good policy than bipartisanship. (h/t Balloon Juice)

For the Beltway commentariat, however, transcending partisanship is the most meaningful of issues, more important, one senses, than the economic problems that trouble those people at town-hall meetings. "Nothing was more central to [Obama's] victory last fall than his claim that he could break the partisan gridlock in Washington," wrote the Washington Post's David Broder a few weeks ago, in an altogether typical expression of media perceptions.

The way I remember it, the No. 1 issue in the election was the collapsing economy, followed at some distance by the Iraq war. On both of these questions, Mr. Obama prevailed because he was the candidate who promised most convincingly to reverse Republican policies -- not because he planned to meet the GOP halfway across the charred ruins of American prosperity.


It is supposed to be high-minded stuff, this longing for a bipartisan golden age. But in some ways it is the most cynical stance possible. It takes no idea seriously, since everything is up for compromise. The role of the political parties is merely to cancel each other out, so that only the glorious centrists remain, triangulating majestically between obnoxious extremes.


Does anyone in the media commentariate realize that the "golden age" of bipartisanship (the 1950's and 1960's?) was a function of the schizophrenic New Deal coalition, which pitted conservative Democrats from the confederate states of America against more moderate Democrats and Republicans from the North, and since then the golden era of bipartisanship there has been a regional and ideological realignment of the parties?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy, apparently in need of continuing rehab or other medical attention related to his recently discovered cancer, will not be present for the Senate vote on the final passage of the stimulus bill. The pro side will probably, hopefully, still gain 60 votes, however.

Nonetheless, and I hate to be inpolitic, but at what point should the appropriate decision makers and thought leaders in the party encourage all involved that (a) Kennedy should retire and (b) the Democratic governor of Massachusetts should appoint a Democratic successor to Kennedy's seat, someone who can be on hand for the important decisions and votes ahead?

Conservatives and "fiscal discipline"

After eight years of "deficits don't matter" the new Republican minority is now in danger of ridding the world of fainting couches. The blatant absurdity and hypocrisy of it all is staggering. But fortunately not all observers are buying it:

A Republican party that added more than $30 trillion to the future debt in a time of boom has no credible answer but raw partisanship for opposing $800 billion in the swiftest downturn in employment since the Great Depression. That's the bottom line. The party that campaigned for eight years on the principle that "deficits don't matter" has no good faith standing to oppose a measure that provides the minimum to ensure some kind of bottom in the looming depression. To take their fiscal conservatism seriously at this point and in this crisis is to engage in some kind of instant amnesia............

The GOP has passed what amounts to a spending and tax-cutting and borrowing stimulus package every year since George W. Bush came to office. They have added tens of trillions to future liabilities and they turned a surplus into a trillion dollar deficit - all in a time of growth. They then pick the one moment when demand is collapsing in an alarming spiral to argue that fiscal conservatism is non-negotiable. I mean: seriously.

The bad faith and refusal to be accountable for their own conduct for the last eight years is simply inescapable. There is no reason for the GOP to have done what they have done for the last eight years and to say what they are saying now except pure, cynical partisanship, and a desire to wound and damage the new presidency. The rest is transparent cant.

The Republican Opposition

Via Andrew Sullivan, Booman makes what I think is a pretty valid analysis of future presidential-congressional relations:

The Republicans wanted to demonstrate some strength at the outset of this administration. They wanted to prove that they can maintain cohesion in opposition to things they truly oppose. It was important for them to send this message even though it was a discordant rejection of Obama's olive branch. They probably would have sought to send such a message on any major vote, so the stimulus wasn't necessarily the primary cause of their reaction. But there is something important about how the stimulus was put together that also helps explain Republican behavior. The stimulus package wasn't written using 'regular order' and did not come up through the committee and subcommittee process. There was a good reason for this...expediency. But that doesn't change the fact that the Republicans had no opportunity to influence the bill in committee.

Going forward, individual Republicans will have the option to work in a constructive way with the Democrats on the committees on which they serve. This is basically the only way House Republicans can have any influence over legislation over the next four years. Republicans that learn how to play this game will get to co-sponsor bills and bring home projects and appropriations to their home districts. Those that don't learn how to play this game will have nothing tangible to show for being a member of Congress. It might be comforting to be a member of the opposition and a champion among Republican activists, but it doesn't make for much of a day job.

What I'm basically saying is that the Republicans, as a group, want to oppose Obama at every turn. But it will not be easy to keep a unified opposition in place over time. I predict it will fall apart quite quickly. And then the Republican leaders will have to choose their battles very carefully because it will be hard to keep the caucus unified for more than a few key votes. Even on the stimulus, the Republicans lost. They won some important concessions, but they lost.

It will also be impossible to attack Obama as successfully as the Republicans attacked Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton was a deeply flawed person who won a plurality of the vote. Barack Obama cannot demonized so easily.

So, no, the Republicans are not going to embrace bipartisanship or suddenly begin wishing the Obama administration well. But they're also not going to maintain a rock solid opposition. They can't.