Saturday, December 12, 2009

Last Call

Matt Taibbi's piece in Rolling Stone on Obama's econ team has already drawn a fair amount of heat, so much so that Taibbi's come out to fight back on his blog with a lengthy (and Taibbi-worthy) rebuttal which he sums up by saying:
Again, I do absolutely admit to mixing up that biographical passage about Jamie Rubin. But the rest of these issues are not issues of fact but differences of opinion. I understand the argument that the fact that Obama happened to name a dozen or so people with ties to Bob Rubin to key posts does not indicate a conspiracy, and undoubtedly I left out a great many good things that Obama has done, even in the realm of economic policy. But it’s not my job to give equal time to both the naughty and nice lists.

It is my job to point out that many of the same people who bear direct responsibility for the financial crisis were given positions of great power in the Obama White House, and that in many important ways the Obama appointments represented a resounding reaffirmation of the status quo (I didn’t even mention the renomination of Ben Bernanke), and the exact opposite of “change.” One can argue about the extent to which this is true, but I don’t think the facts are really in question.

p.s. The Prospect writer argues that “the problems Taibbi tries to describe aren’t some ridiculous cabal” but instead “come from group-think and structural influences.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was exactly the point of the article. The issue with the modern Democratic party is that its leaders all share a world view that’s extremely narrow. They genuinely believe in Rubinite ideas, have grown accustomed to an incestuous relationship with Wall Street, and they probably think that the right people were put in charge. Their failure to look beyond their own “group-think” for solutions to economic problems is exactly the issue.
Which is dead on. Do read the whole piece however, where Taibbi calmly explains pretty much everything.

Big Blue

Via John Cole, it seems the Wingers don't like James Cameron's new movie Avatar because the film is a "leftist, America-hating revenge fantasy".
No, really.
The political import of Avatar — and there’s no waving this aspect away because it’s right in your face start to finish, and especially in the third act — is ardently left. It is pro-indigenous native, anti-corporate, anti-imperialist, anti-U.S. Iraq War effort, anti-U.S.-in-Afghanistan (and anti-troop-surge-in-that-country, or strongly against the thinking of President Barack Obama and Gen. Stanley McChrystal), anti-rightie, anti-Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld, etc.
Yes, it’s very teenaged adolescent in its super-imaginative wacko visions and exuberant energy levels, but politically it’s pure Che Guevara (more the Motorcycle Diaries or Che-in-Cuba version than Che in Bolivia), Naom Chomsky, Hugo Chavez, Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, Oliver Stone, etc. Cameron is an earth-hugging lefty from way back (the flagrant despise-the-arrogant-rich current in Titanic being but one example) so this should come as no surprise to anyone. I for one am cheered and heartened.
What follows are dire predictions from Drudge Jr's Big Hollywood that Avatar will pretty much be the largest bomb since ever, it will bankrupt Hollywood forever and then the Wingers can go on to make films where indigenous people get murdered and exploited in the name of natural resources like they should be, and that War Is Goddamn Cool.

They are pretty comfortable over there with the prediction you know, because nobody saw James Cameron's other movies like Titanic.  So, now as Skippy says,
the prospect of tea-baggers getting the vapors over a new shiny object (rather than acorn, william ayers, global warming, or nancy pelosi's lust for the blood of newborn christian babies), when added to the supremely good rating of 92 tomatoes @ rotten tomatoes, makes us re-think our initial position on the film.
we might just buy a ticket to help make avatar a huge box-office success, just to see wingers writhe in agony.
Avatar will apparently define Evil Liberal Hollywood during the Obama years the way Fahrenheit 9/11 did during Bush's second term, so hell, I may spring for the Lux Level seats for this one.

It's worth going over some of the more recent box office blockbusters in your mind and asking how the Wingnuts would be screaming how they would have utterly failed if they had been made today, movies like  Jurassic Park (with its anti-corporate message and scientists playing God),  E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (with its pro-illegal alien nonsense in California),  Ghostbusters (paganism and secular science beats back the Bible),  A Few Good Men (slick lawyers casting aspersions on our troops), and Braveheart (Scottish terrorist William Wallace stops the evil British Empire!)

Then after that, you can have a nice long laugh at these idiots and you can enjoy your movie.

Win One For The ACORN

A federal judge has put an injuction in place blocking Congress's attempt to defund ACORN, saying that the legislation is close enough to being an illegal bill of attainder that the injunction is necessary.
After the preliminary injunction was granted, Bertha Lewis, ACORN’s Executive Director, said, “The court's decision is a victory not only for the many dedicated citizens who work with ACORN to improve their communities and promote responsible lending and homeownership, but for the Constitution and the rights of all Americans.”

According to Jules Lobel, CCR Vice-President and Cooperating Attorney: “This historic decision by the Court affirms the fundamental constitutional principle that the Congress cannot be judge, jury, and executioner.”

CCR Legal Director Bill Quigley added, “This ruling protects not only ACORN but all other organizations or individuals that Congress unfairly targets.  The clearly partisan push by the far right to punish those it politically disagrees with has ended here.”
I'm also fairly sure that this week's news that the entire video that prompted outrage from the Wingers was faked had a lot to do with this ruling.

But let's keep in mind what happened:  Even with 59% of the House and 60 Senate seats, the Dems were instantly willing to throw ACORN under the bus for political expediency when the fake video surfaced, just because the GOP said it must have been true.  It wasn't.

We need better Democrats in Congress.

Senate's Still Broken

Yggy has also come to the conclusion that the Senate system is broken:
We’re suffering from an incoherent institutional set-up in the senate. You can have a system in which a defeated minority still gets a share of governing authority and participates constructively in the victorious majority’s governing agenda, shaping policy around the margins in ways more to their liking. Or you can have a system in which a defeated minority rejects the majority’s governing agenda out of hand, seeks opening for attack, and hopes that failure on the part of the majority will bring them to power. But right now we have both simultaneously. It’s a system in which the minority benefits if the government fails, and the minority has the power to ensure failure. It’s insane, and it needs to be changed.
Which is true, but I'll reply with what BooMan said in August:  it's not the Senate that's broken beyond repair, it's the Republican party.
The Republican Party is hostile to non-white immigration. It considers religious tolerance to be an infringement on the free exercise of Christianity. It opposes gay rights and hate crimes legislation. And it holds anachronistically paternalistic views of human sexuality and reproductive rights. Overtly racist comments are made by Republican leaders (usually unelected leaders) on a regular basis. And, finally, the party has an uneasy relationship with science since much of its base rejects basic scientific theories like of evolution, plate tectonics, and climate change.
All of this has resulted in a deeply divided political culture that is rife with the types of disagreements that cannot be resolved by debate and compromise.
As I said then, I still agree with BooMan now.  The Senate is broken because the Republicans are actively choosing to break itSen. Judd Gregg's memo on how to obstruct Democratic legislation every step of the way for as long as possible is proof of that.  The Republicans have abdicated the responsibility of representing their country.  Instead they are choosing to manipulate the Legislative Branch itself in order to keep the party in power from being able to perform any duties at all, and hoping another year of it will mean voters will reward them with political power.

And frankly, it's starting to work.  The Democrats have not adjusted well to the GOP tactics.  They still think the GOP is looking to compromise.

That naivete is going to hurt them in 2010.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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