Monday, December 21, 2009

Last Call

FDL's Jon Walker has 35 ways to fix the "Bad Senate Bill", which is infinitely more productive and infinitely less of a complete waste of time than FDL's Jane Hamsher and her 10 reasons to kill the "Bad Senate Bill."

Reasons why are self-evident.

Oh, and here's Nate Silver and Darcy Burner on Tweety's show, speaking of people who have ways to fix the bill (Nate) versus people who want to kill the bill (Darcy) and the Village Idiots (Tweety, of course) who can't tell the difference.

That Loveable Goat

CNN notes that President Obama's approval ratings have jumped six points since the first of the month.  Is health care finally winning over Dems?

Steve at NMMNB checks it out:
Now, when was this poll taken?

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 16-20....

Yup --questioning started two days after Joe Lieberman declared he'd block a bill with a public option, and ended just before the key cloture votes began to take place.

My theory: Democrats (especially young ones) despise Lieberman so much that his stab in the back made people rally to the bill (yes, even though he succeeded in weakening it).

Or maybe they rallied to it when they saw it slipping away (which is what some pollsters say happens whenever abortion rights actually seem threated), in which case I suppose both Joe and the DFH critics of the bill get the credit for the uptick.
Heh.  Democrats like the public option, but they hate Joe F'ckin Lieberman more.  He makes a convenient bad guy.

Reading Too Much Into Things

Really, I don't know who needs to get over themselves more, the folks concern trolling who say Avatar is a left-wing pagan "going native" fantasy of white racist guilt absolution and American troop bashing (and therefore racist), or the folks concern trolling who say that The Princess And The Frog is a right-wing Christian conservative "going native" fantasy of black rejection of racial identity and Obama bashing (and therefore racist).

There is such a thing as reading too much into a film, folks.  This is definitely two of those times.

Stopped Clock Is Right Alert

Amazingly enough, Ross Douthat manages to say something that I don't immediately follow with the phrase "Honestly?"
In the end, when the history of the health care debate is written, I don’t think any of the choices that G.O.P. lawmakers made this year will loom particularly large. The choices that they made, or didn’t make, across the last fifteen years are what made all the difference. Between the defeat of Clintoncare and the election of Barack Obama, the Republicans had plenty of chances to take ownership of the health care issue and pass a significant reform along more free-market, cost-effective lines. They didn’t. The system deteriorated on their watch instead. And now they’re suffering the consequences.
He's right about that.  The GOP proceeded to wreck FDA and CDC funding yelling "wasteful pork!", putting Americans at risk in food and drug safety and epidemic responses just so drugmakers could save money on testing and get unsafe drugs to the market faster, and then proceeded to hand out $1.2 trillion to Big Pharma in the Medicare drug benefit bill Bush passed.  That was the GOP idea of "health care reform."  That's why nobody trusts them on the issue now.

He's wrong on the first part, however.  The choice of NO NO NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO WE WILL FILIBUSTER ALL LEGISLATION HA HA HA HA! will affect the GOP for a long, long time to come.

Ladies And Gentlemen, Your Republican Party

The GOP is apparently torn between ineffectually making the entire Senate stay through Christmas Eve out of spite even though this phase of the health care reform vote is effectively over and the the GOP lost, or going home to their families where they will be attacked by legions of slavering teabaggers who will scream at them and make them go try to ineffectually stop health care reform some more.

So, impotent spiteful rage and missing Christmas, or being branded heretics by idiots.  What a great bunch those guys are.

Angry Johnny Channels His Old Friend Teddy Kennedy

McCain invokes the spirit of the late Sen. Kennedy by saying the Lion of the Senate would be disgusted with this bill because there were no Republicans on board.

No John Boy, Kennedy would have been upset at what a bunch of mendacious, hypocritical lying assholes Republicans like you are.

[UPDATE 4:04 PM] Now Teddy Kennedy would have been damn proud of Sheldon Whitehouse.

[UPDATE 4:55 PM] The Wingers are insane with anger over Whitehouse's speech, to the point of incoherent babbling (even for them).  My fav is Col. Mustard, who screeches:
Sheldon Whitehouse is why Washington has gone so wrong. His arrogant, demeaning attitude as evidenced by this speech is an example of why people are so angry in this country.
Yes, America is mad at Sheldon Whitehouse.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

BooMan speaks the truth:
Senate invokes cloture on Reid's manager's amendment by a 60-40 vote. I will remind you that we needed every single victory from 2006 and 2008 to achieve this. We needed Tester and Webb and McCaskill and Whitehouse and Klobuchar and Franken and Begich and Merkley and Sanders and the two Udalls and Brown and Cardin and Hagan and Casey and Hagan and Shaheen and Warner. We needed to seat Bennet and Burris and Gillibrand. We needed to replace Kennedy with Kirk. With had to flip Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party. If we lost any single one of those battles, health care reform would be dead. Instead, it lives. And you have yourselves to thank for that. Your activism made the difference.
Man's got a point.  All of that had to happen to have any bill whatsoever.  Any bill.  Accept the victory, then improve on it.  But take the win as a win, and stop mourning the losses.  Improve the win instead.

Dollhouses And Fireflies

Yggy argues that Joss Whedon should just go to cable already and quit screwing around with FOX since Dollhouse just got the axe.
Color me unmoved by the alleged tragedy of Joss Whedon. What happened to Firefly was arguably tragic. But by the time Dollhouse came out, it was clear that the place for idiosyncratic, ambitious television was cable where a show could be viable with a smaller, but more devoted audience. We’ve had Battlestar: Galactica we’ve had The Wire we’ve had Mad Men it doesn’t take a genius to see how this goes.

But you get paid more money to develop a show for a network, and Whedon wanted more money so he gave us Dollhouse, a show with a ton of promise but also dozens of artistic compromises. Getting “killed before its time” was inevitable. Whedon’s fans want to see him make the kind of show he can only make on cable. And I’m sure one cable network or another would be happy to develop a show with a creator who comes with a fervent built-in fanbase. But he doesn’t seem to want to do it. I think it’s a shame, but it’s his own fault.
You know?  Yggy's right.  My favorite shows these days are all on cable:  True Blood, Dexter, Sanctuary, Mythbusters, basically I DVR Syfy's Friday night shows and HBO and Showtime's Sunday night line-up, and Mythbusters on Wednesdays.  I haven't really watched network TV for anything other than sports in years, because network TV sucks.

Joss Whedon would own Syfy.  He would certainly own Showtime or HBO.  He needs to pitch something to one of them.  I'd watch it.

Snowed In

Now, I still keep saying that the Dems are going to lose seats in 2010, but then again, it's not like the Republicans are smart enough to take full advantage, either.  Like Newt, f'r instance.
If ol' Newt is the intellectual Republican powerhouse, the GOP has cause for concern.
Newt Gingrich became the latest to play the ridiculous "it's snowing so global warming must be a hoax" card. Gingrich took to Twitter -- where he's been schooled before -- on Saturday morning to share a few thoughts about the storm:
newtgingrich As callista and i watched what dc weather says will be 12 to 22 inches of snow i wondered if God was sending a message about copenhagen
Got that? A snowstorm along the East coast in December was, according to the former Speaker, a divine signal about international efforts to combat climate change. Seriously.

Other far-right voices, meanwhile, were convinced that the storm was evidence of divine opposition to health care reform.
Yeah.  Snow in December means global warming is a hoax.  I'm worried about these idiots?  I don't think so.  And you gotta love the whole "Hey God, please give kill Robert Byrd in his sleep this week so health care reform never passes.  Thanks."

That's great of them, asking God to screw up health care for millions.  God really does have a sense of humor.

The New Permanent Temporary Economy

Companies are hiring temp workers, and the NY Times says that's good because if the recovery holds, those temp workers will become permanent ones.

To which I say "You guys aren't that bright, are you?"
Last month 52,000 temps were added, greater than the number of new workers in any other category. Not even health care and government, stalwarts through the long recession, did better.

“Sometimes we’re asked by a company to bring back ex-employees as temps,” said Joanie Ruge, a senior vice president of Adecco. Some are even ex-employees who have been laid off. “That does happen,” she said.

In the past, temps who do well have often been offered regular employment, with higher pay and benefits. Given the uncertainties about this recovery, companies are not doing that now, and temps, as a result, are less likely to spend as freely as regular employees or to qualify for credit, generating less demand than permanent employment would.

Adding to this undertow, corporate America is investing very little in expansion at a moment when current capacity — the machinery and floor space now available — is underused. And pressure is rising on the Obama administration and Congress to offset the shortfalls by authorizing more stimulus spending — enough to bring the national unemployment rate down from the present 10 percent.

“Depression has been forestalled only because major government borrowing and spending is filling the gap,” Albert M. Wojnilower, a Wall Street economist and consultant at Craig Drill Capital, said in a newsletter last week.
Why should these employers turn these folks into full-time workers with benefits?  There's no demand to justify it.  There's costs to keep down.  Why not have workers on demand as well in our on-demand economy?  Why not have entire workforces that way?

The switch to temp workers in America is going to be permanent.  Companies are going to go to more and more skilled temp workers, especially in IT and customer service positions.  Now less-skilled positions are going to temp workers, because there are so many unemployed.  Companies can ride out this trend for years.

Double-digit unemployment is going to be the new normal.

The Mind Of The O

Psychologist Dr. Drew Westen takes a look at the President and his problems here heading into 2010.
What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.

What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.

The problem is not that his record is being distorted. It's that all three have more than a grain of truth. And I say this not as one of those pesky "leftists." I say this as someone who has spent much of the last three years studying what moves voters in the middle, the Undecideds who will hear whichever side speaks to them with moral clarity.
It's a lengthy article and worth a read, but his summary is actually something I generally agree with.  Obama tends to get things done through intermediaries and behind closed doors, and when he does take the direct approach, it doesn't work out so well for him.  He's overly pragmatic and non-confrontational, the exact opposite of Bush's seat-of-the-pants bulldogging, but there is such a thing as too extreme in the pragmatism department.

A good friend of mine once told me "Leadership is making the tough call."  Obama makes deals so that he doesn't have to make the tough call, and that approach rewards and empowers the intermediaries he uses to make those tough calls, namely Rahmbo.

But that's not what's needed right now.  "Better to ask forgiveness of the Left than to ask permission from the Right" is not a governance style that's going to help the Dems  in 2010.

Do read the entire article however, as it's pretty in-depth and Westen does a good job at explaining Obama's mentality and why it's going to bomb horribly in 2010 unless things change.

The Morning After

The WSJ hates Obamacare.  In other news, the Chicago Cubs have failed to win the World Series again, and the sun is on fire and hot.
And tidings of comfort and joy from Harry Reid too. The Senate Majority Leader has decided that the last few days before Christmas are the opportune moment for a narrow majority of Democrats to stuff ObamaCare through the Senate to meet an arbitrary White House deadline. Barring some extraordinary reversal, it now seems as if they have the 60 votes they need to jump off this cliff, with one-seventh of the economy in tow.

Mr. Obama promised a new era of transparent good government, yet on Saturday morning Mr. Reid threw out the 2,100-page bill that the world's greatest deliberative body spent just 17 days debating and replaced it with a new "manager's amendment" that was stapled together in covert partisan negotiations. Democrats are barely even bothering to pretend to care what's in it, not that any Senator had the chance to digest it in the 38 hours before the first cloture vote at 1 a.m. this morning. After procedural motions that allow for no amendments, the final vote could come at 9 p.m. on December 24.

Even in World War I there was a Christmas truce.
Dear WSJ Editorial Board:

The Democrats aren't the ones who declared war.   I know you guys have a long history of being unable to tell which side actually is the one starting the war and you haven't gotten that right since 2002, but once again you're going after the wrong people.  I also know that it hasn't occurred to you that the reason there's a vote on Christmas Eve this year was because Republicans tried to kill funding the wars we're currently fighting just to try to slow down this bill until the New Year.

Do attempt to get the facts right once in a while.


The Kroog Versus The Filibuster

Paul Krugman takes up BooMan's argument from August and Yggy's more recent post that the Senate is broken, and rightfully concludes the Republicans are doing all the breaking.

Now consider what lies ahead. We need fundamental financial reform. We need to deal with climate change. We need to deal with our long-run budget deficit. What are the chances that we can do all that — or, I’m tempted to say, any of it — if doing anything requires 60 votes in a deeply polarized Senate?

Some people will say that it has always been this way, and that we’ve managed so far. But it wasn’t always like this. Yes, there were filibusters in the past — most notably by segregationists trying to block civil rights legislation. But the modern system, in which the minority party uses the threat of a filibuster to block every bill it doesn’t like, is a recent creation.

The political scientist Barbara Sinclair has done the math. In the 1960s, she finds, “extended-debate-related problems” — threatened or actual filibusters — affected only 8 percent of major legislation. By the 1980s, that had risen to 27 percent. But after Democrats retook control of Congress in 2006 and Republicans found themselves in the minority, it soared to 70 percent.

Some conservatives argue that the Senate’s rules didn’t stop former President George W. Bush from getting things done. But this is misleading, on two levels.

First, Bush-era Democrats weren’t nearly as determined to frustrate the majority party, at any cost, as Obama-era Republicans. Certainly, Democrats never did anything like what Republicans did last week: G.O.P. senators held up spending for the Defense Department — which was on the verge of running out of money — in an attempt to delay action on health care.

More important, however, Mr. Bush was a buy-now-pay-later president. He pushed through big tax cuts, but never tried to pass spending cuts to make up for the revenue loss. He rushed the nation into war, but never asked Congress to pay for it. He added an expensive drug benefit to Medicare, but left it completely unfunded. Yes, he had legislative victories; but he didn’t show that Congress can make hard choices and act responsibly, because he never asked it to.

So now that hard choices must be made, how can we reform the Senate to make such choices possible?
I'm willing to bet that 70% filibuster rate is even higher now just this year alone.  The Republicans threatened to filibuster everything, to the point of nearly paralyzing the country.  Everything this Congress will do will require 60 votes in the Senate now, and it's the Republicans doing it.  They are the Party of No...and these are the same Republicans who were threatening to get rid of the filibuster openly saying that the Dems were abusing it trying to stop 10 of Bush's 229 judicial nominees in 2004...a filibuster percentage of  less than five percent.

(More after the jump...)


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