Friday, October 1, 2010

Should I really be surprised at how self-absorbed Tea-Party members are?

What fascinates me about the Tea Party isn't just the racism, or the @#$-ignorant views on policy and economics, it's how utterly, completely, amazingingly self-absorbed they can be.

It's bad enough that these 27% think they represent the whole of the country, but for this woman to know someone for 30 years, to (hopefully) understand that she's a Liberal, to blurt something like that out strikes me as clueless to point that makes Christine O'Donnell look Oxford Graduate in comparison:

In hindsight, Laurie Horvath says, it probably wasn't the best time to break the news to her liberal friend, who was trimming Horvath's hair between sips of sangria. "You know," Horvath told her casually, "I think I'm going to organize a tea party."

That's when the scissors slipped.

"She took a big chunk off, cut like 2 1/2 inches off the front corner of my hair," Horvath said. "She got so mad, she says, 'Laurie, I didn't even dream that you would vote Republican -- let alone do something like this. I think you should leave.' "

The two women, friends for 30 years, have become estranged, according to Horvath. The incident, which now strikes Horvath as more funny than sad, is a small illustration of how the rise of the tea party movement has roiled not only political discourse but also families and neighborhoods, even in famously liberal towns such as Austin, where Horvath and her former friend live.

I will say in Horvath's defense that her Hair-cutting friend probably should have known she would at least vote Republican by now.  Let's get real.

Unless she's reacting know...something else.

Did you know that Sharron Angle is not the "official" Tea Party candidate??

Neither did I. Huffington Post?

Jon Scott Ashjian, Nevada's little known actual "Tea Party" Senate candidate, said this week that not only was he going to stay in the race, he was going to overtake Sharron Angle on his path to victory.

Speaking with the Las Vegas Sun's Jon Ralston, the conservative agitator said that, despite recent negotiations to remove him from the race, the momentum was with him.


Has this guy even been factoring into the polling in Nevada? If this is true, she's screwed. Finished. Kaput. Nada.

David Plouffe Campaign Update: October 1, 2010 (VIDEO)

Can't remember if I've done this before, but I thought that this Video (which you probably got in an Email this morning) was important to watch if you're feeling down, if you're feeling doubtful, let David Plouffe ease your troubled mind:

Joe Klein offers quite possibly the stupidest bit of advice I've seen put to print in a while.

To use Joe Klein own quote against Joe Klein: "I've always been a [Joe Klein] fan, even when I disagreed with him."

I've really been enjoying some of Mr. Klein's work recently, but his statement about a "debilitating" problem among Democratic Presidents struck me as monumentally stoopid:

I've always been a Rahm fan, even when I disagreed with him. Love the passion, the quickness, the candor. Ron Brownstein has a nice appreciation of what Emanuel actually believes here. But his departure--and Pete Rouse's imminent arrival--highlight a debilitating tendency that Democratic presidents have: they tend to go for chiefs of staff who have Congressional experience. Republicans tend to have chiefs with executive experience. This isn't ironclad: Bill Clinton started with an outside executive, Mack McLarty, who proved inadequate. Clinton then turned to the ultimate Congressional insider, Leon Panetta.

Why is this important? Because Democratic presidents too often find themselves in thrall to their Congressional leadership--which, in this largely Republican era has been the party's center of gravity. (Presidents come and go; Nancy Pelosi is eternal). They place too much emphasis on legislating, too little on leading; too much emphasis on deal-making, too little on managing and communicating. Thus, Obama has won a historic boatload of legislative victories, but he's had difficulty establishing his authority as the nation's Chief Executive. He certainly has befuddled the Americans I've spoken with during my September road trip and it seems clear that if Obama is going to win another term, he's going to have to find a chief of staff who understands that the President should stand above, and apart from, the Congress.

I don't know Rouse very well. I don't know what his priorities will be. Early reports emphasized his "calming" effect and his long career as a Congressional insider. But if this no-drama White House gets any calmer, it'll be comatose. There's a need for energetic, non-Congressional, non-insider voices in the inner circle. Some wise executives like Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell would be welcome.

Okay, let me get this straight.  Working with Congress, bad.  Getting Legislation passed, bad.  Respecting Congress as a co-equal branch, bad.  Pounding your chest, giving folks like you good copy, and dictating to Congress, good?

As much as I like Ed Rendell, as much as I sorta respect him, Rendell would be a train wreck as a White House Chief of Staff.  He has a mouth on him a mile wide, and he doesn't necessarily think before he speaks. (It's not to say that he doesn't, its just not an ironclad guarantee). He will have every bit the same problem McLarty and prove just as much of a disaster.

And tell me, with all the "executive experience" Bush 43 had at his did that work out for ya?  How well did it work out for the country?  Mr. Klein might recall the massive hole the current President is digging out from because of the actions of the previous President.

Liberals, is this about getting @#$% done, or is it about enjoying the fight? I throw Joe Klein in the same category of Adam Green, in that Mr. Klein values the fight more than the outcome.  Then again, the fight always makes for better copy.   Ed Rendell would make for good copy.  Rahm made for good copy, and who in this article benefits most from there being good copy in the White House Chief of Staff's office??

"There better not be an enthusiasm gap people. Not now. Not this time." (VIDEO)

Is it just me, or did Andrew Sullivan really like this speech before the first National Gen44 Summitt?

It's pretty close to the Wisconsin Speech, so I guess Andrew must've missed that one. Still, this all seems to be part of a coordinated effort by the White House to re-engage those young voters (which makes me feel reeeeeaal good about my Daily Show Prediction).

From "You Elected Me To Do What Was Right":

Obama's speech to Gen44 tonight knocked my socks off. It's streaming on CSPAN here. If you've forgotten why many of you worked your ass off for this guy, and felt hope for the first time in many years, watch it. He deserves criticism when necessary as this blogazine has not shied from at times. But he remains in my judgment the best option this country still has left - and it's far too easy for the left and far too dangerous for serious conservatives and independents to abandon him now.

What I particularly loved about the speech was his direct attack on the fiscal irresponsibility of the Pledge To America, the $700 billion it means we will have to borrow from China to sustain the unsustainable Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 a year. And what I agreed with was his embrace of government that is lean and efficient, because these are times when the government is necessary to help reverse self-evident decline, mounting fiscal crisis, deeply dangerous enemies, and socially dangerous inequality, exploited at home by ugly demagogues and know-nothing nihilists. Here is his invocation of Lincoln's core argument about the role of government:

MSNBC: "The least suspenseful announcement of all time..." (VIDEO)

The President's announcement of Rahmbo's departure, and Rahmbo's teary-eyed farewell address:

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Austan Goolsbee and the Big Red Goose-Egg... (VIDEO)

I know. The title sounds like a rejected Harry Potter rip-off.

Despite the fact that Austan Goolsbee went to the University of Chicago School of Economics, I remain an unabashed fan of his. He's still one of the funniest guys in Washington (believe me that's saying something). Any guy who goes on The Daily Show repeatedly to explain Economics to the people is okay by me.

But now it seems someone has decided to let the man in front of the camera again, which is going to do nothing but good. It's quick. It's informative, and it's right to the point. It's an Ezra Klein column in video form. Literally.

So White House, if you're watching...please. More of this.

The President's Backyard Town-Hall in Richmond, VA (VIDEO)

And finally, we end today's Presidential Backyard tour in Richmond, VA.

Man, I want a ticket to one of these.

The President's Backyard Town-Hall in Des Moines, IA (VIDEO)

Same deal.  The President talking the Economy and taking questions from a Backyard in Des Moines.  I seem to recall the President does very well in Iowa.

The President's Backyard Town-Hall in Albuquerque, N.M. (VIDEO)

I've been waiting for these videos for a couple of days (geesh, White House...took you long enough. What've have you been doin'? Running the country or something?)

I'm going to put these videos up over the next hour or so, and start watching them. As I recall, this was the Mini Town-Hall where the President was asked why he was a Christian (at about the 35:30 mark).

Levi Johnston: Not necessarily bright, but honest and direct (VIDEO)

The fact that Levi Johnston thinks Climate Change isn't man-made doesn't speak well of the young man, but he was better in his answers than the former half-Governor of Alaska.

How do we know? Lawrence O'Donnell cribbed his questions to Levi right from Katie Couric's interview(s) with the half-Governor from 2008.

Where I actually enjoy an interview with Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone on his piece: "Tea and Crackers" (VIDEO)

This, it turns out, was a pretty good interview with Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, on his article about the Teabaggers:

Two points of clarification, though:

One: Yes, Matt. When the Teabaggers are under the impression that the whites have become an "oppressed majority", I'd call that fairly racist.

Two: Matt Taibbi decrying the Teabaggers tendency to grasp at simple solutions is laughable beyond the absurd. This from the guy who always says that it's all Goldman Sachs' fault?

(Sorry, after reading Too Big To Fail, and The Great Crash 1929, I believe strongly that the cycle of boom and bust is systemic, and not limited to one organization. Anyone saying otherwise is just trying to sell books or magazine articles.)

Our new Chief of Staff is the old (Senate) Chief of Staff... least for now.

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will announce his resignation Friday, multiple administration officials said, continuing a series of key staffing changes ahead of the midterm elections.

Pete Rouse, a senior adviser who was President Obama's chief of staff in the Senate, is expected to fill the role at least on an interim basis, although several officials said he could wind up in the job permanently.

Obama will make two "personnel announcements" in the East Room at 11:05 a.m. Friday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday. Obama is expected to announce the Emanuel and Rouse moves at the same time, to maintain as much continuity as possible.

Emanuel has been setting the stage for his departure for weeks, since the moment outgoing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley (D) said he would not run for reelection. The question of whether and when Emanuel would leave has been a sizable distraction, people who work with the White House said, as other senior officials try to assess what the vacancy will mean and what other moves will be set in motion.

Rouse, a longtime former Senate staffer, is a popular choice among the White House staff. Already intimately involved in most major internal decisions, he is seen as a problem-solver, often wrestling with the president's most difficult dilemmas.

He is so well known in the Senate - where for many years he was a senior aide to then-Majority Leader Thomas Daschle - that he was often referred to as the 101st senator. Yet he has a much lower public profile than Emanuel's.
Beyond anything else, this is not a bad thing. The White House needs a change every once in a while.  With the exception of the President, these folks can't be expected to stay in their jobs for the full eight years (Hilly possibly excepted.  She seems to be lovin' that job.)  With Daley declaring he's not going to run again for Chicago Mayor, Rahm had to jump at this opportunity.

I've always been a Rahmbo fan. I like his style. I have found of the criticism he gets from the "professional left" a bit mystifying. It's like someone blaming the Offensive Coordinator for telling the Coach that we can't run the ball because the Defensive is too tough. Rahm's job was to read the tea leaves, and report what he thought could get done to his boss (you may know him as the President). The President calls the play.

From what I'm hearing, don't be surprised if Tom Daschle comes back to the White House as the permanent Chief of Staff, but that's just idle speculation at this point.  Moving over Biden's Chief of Staff (played by Kevin Spacey in the HBO Movie "Recount") also makes a lot of sense.

Stephen Colbert's Interview with "Car Czar" Steve Rattner (VIDEO)

If you're looking for an in-depth interview on the GM Bailout, I'd suggest Mr. Rattner's book: Overhaul. But as far as an overview goes, especially on the consequences of inaction, this did a great job.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Steven Rattner
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Where my faith in Lawrence O'Donnell's "The Last Word" is completely restored... (VIDEO)

So far, Lawrence O'Donnell has been getting some really good, high-profile interviews to kick off his show. He doesn't seem shy about not doing these things live. He gets what he can get, when he can get it, and broadcasts it the same day. Good for him.

You may recall yesterday I was a wee-bit miffed that ideological ally, and full-time moron, Adam Green was allowed on the show to...well, display his awesome room-temperature intellect. (Now, all of what I just wrote isn't fair, not a bit. At the same time,while like Mr. Green wishes the President would "fight more", I wish he'd stop going on T.V. and sounding like an idiot.)

Anyway, during Lawrence's interview the Axe (David Axelrod), Lawrence showed some insight about Mr. Green and his philosophy (at about the 7:58 mark):

David, you have the President out on the road and the buck-up-and-stick-with-me Tour, trying to hold on to Democrats' power, and we had on this show last night, one of the leaders of the groups that the President's talking to, Adam Green. He's the leader of the Progressive Change Campaign committee. He was encouraged by what he heard in Wisconsin yesterday. Primarily because he heard the President use the word: “fight”. And his point was, he doesn't think that you and the President, when it comes to legislating, when it comes to governing are fighting, and I guess someone has to break it to Adam Green and others that no one fights. These guys in neckties who go to work in the White House and Congress do not fight. They ask each other to do things and they are empowered to say no, and their outcomes are not controlled by campaign rhetoric or by the image of the presidency. Who's going to break that to the people who are disappointed in what the President's achieved?

Translation: Spoken like someone who's never had to get a tough vote in his life.

Axe's answer was pretty good, too:

Well, Lawrence, let me say, first of all, that on the first point, we have achieved a great deal. As I said, you've been around a long time. When you consider the things that we've gotten done under a very difficult circumstances over the last two years, health insurance reform, financial reform, landmark education reform, doubling the use of renewable energy, putting us on that path. Raising Fuel Efficiency standards for the first time in 28 years, and a whole host of other things. You know, those are things that we ought to embrace, we ought to celebrate, and now we have to protect because the Republican Party wants to roll back all of that, and go back to the very same policies that punished the Middle class, exploded the deficits and plunged our economy into the catastrophe that we faced when we walked into office.

So we have a fight on our hands right now, and we need all hands on deck in that fight. That's the point the President's making, that's the point that the Vice-President made the other night on your show. And by the way, anyone who thinks that it didn't take a struggle to do some of these things wasn't paying attention. Obviously health care was an epic battle. I don't think there's been a legislative battle like it in our generation. Financial reform was an epic battle. The Capitol was awash with lobbyists from wall street and it was an extraordinary victory that enabled us to move forward with the kinds of reforms that we did, that put Elizabeth Warren in the position to do the things that she can do for consumers now, and so on. I think we have a lot to be proud of. And we have a lot of work ahead of us. What we can't afford now is to have these intramural debates, while there's so much at stake. That's the point the President is trying to make all over this country.
So, Mr. Green...I'll stop calling you a moron, when you're willing to admit you haven't been paying attention.

That's what I've been counting on for this show. That's what I wanted, a more inside baseball look and how things have to work (not how they should work, how they oughta work, but how they have to work). Thank you, Mr. O'Donnell (no relation to the dim-bulb-tax-avoiding Senate Candidate from Delaware) you have a viewer for life.

Lawrence was not without his criticism. I will say his criticism comes off as educated and smart, and thus very legitimate:

It seems to me what you've come up against is the politics of campaigning and the politics of governing. In the politics of campaigning you can say anything, and you can use the word fight and say I'm going to provide health care to all Americans. And the politics of governing are limited by other people's interests. In the campaign where I never second guessed you once. People would criticize the Obama campaign at different points, I never did. I was watching a flawless campaign that was running better than I could have ever imagined. In the politics of governing, I think there have been some mistakes. During the campaign, people would say, who's right on Health Care, Hillary or Obama? I would say that It's not up to them, it's up to a guy named Max Baucus who you've never heard of, and that turned out to be true. There was an over-promising in the campaign, heated rhetoric in the campaign which can never ever be delivered in the processes of Congress, and the disappointed base has yet to come to terms with that.

This is what criticism of the Obama Administration should sound like. Clear-eyed, explaining the full view of the terrain that has to be dealt with, yet with an explanation of what was actually done, and not imagined.

On the other hand, this is what criticism sounds like when it comes from morons.

Just how heavily invested are the Republicans inthe idea that tax cuts are a cure-all?

From Greg Sargent:

Fun fact of the day: The small business bill that the President signed earlier this week would help far more small businesses than extending the Bush tax cuts for those above $250,000.

The small business bill was opposed by almost all Republicans, while the principle rationale many GOPers (and some conservative Dems) have given for extending the high end tax cuts is that it would help small businesses.

Extending the Bush tax cuts would impact roughly 2.5 percent of small businesses -- some 900,000 of them, according to the Tax Policy Center.

By contrast, the new small business bill, which would create a $30 billion fund to open up lending to small businesses, would directly impact far more of them than extending the high-end tax cuts. According to the White House fact sheet, over one million small businesses are eligible to receive investments this year that could be excluded from capital gains taxation; and millions more will be able to make new investments, because the ceiling has been lifted on the amount that can be written off.

To be clear, there's nothing inconsistent in Republicans supporting the high end tax cut extension, while opposing the small business bill. That's broadly consistent with the overall GOP argument: We must rein in government spending while freeing up private capital to foster economic growth. But the above comparison shows just how heavily invested Republicans are in tax cuts as the cure-all.

Of course, it all depends on if you define a Small Business as (ahem) liberally as the Republicans do.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Has the NRSC surrendered in California as well?

First Kentucky, now California:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has chosen to reinvest $1.9 million that they had originally planned to use on last-minute advertising for California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.

I'm sorry, there's only so many ways you can spin this. If you're pockets are as deep as the Teabagger's are (thanks Supreme Court!), you don't have to worry about spending, do you?

Go ahead, New York. I dare ya.

You ever get to the point where you actually start hoping these wingnut, racist, hypocrite Tea Baggers actually get elected so that they get to inflict their sociopathic selves on the people who voted them in?

Me neither.

We're always known what the endgame in Afghanistan was going to look like, now its coming into focus.

Fred Kaplan (one of my favorite writers) discussed a couple of interesting ideas in an article about Bob Woodward's new book Obama's Wars (which I've been waffling on buying).

First, he summarizes the problem in Afghanistan in one short, detailed and incredibly well-written paragraph.

There are two elements to the U.S. strategy: fighting the Taliban and providing protection to the Afghan people, on behalf of—and in order to build political support for—the Afghan government. However, [Woodwards' "hero" sources in the book] keep warning that as long as Pakistan provides safe haven to the Taliban insurgents in the mountains along the country's border, there is no way to defeat, or seriously degrade, the Taliban. And as long as Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government is grossly corrupt and distrusted by his own people, there's no way to build support for him, either.

Sue me, I'm a writer, too. I admire these things.

But that's it. That's the whole war right there.

Second, Woodward writes about the Generals always trying to box the President in. (This is also a part Ezra Klein highlighted, but I put a little more meat on them bones):

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asks McChrystal if he could get by with fewer than 40,000 extra troops, given this less demanding mission. McChrystal replies, "No." Gen. James Jones, Obama's national security adviser (and one of Woodward's hero-sources), complains afterward that Obama could decide to protect just two Quonset huts in Afghanistan, and the brass would still ask for 40,000 more troops.

This rings true. A former senior Pentagon official told me in the 1970s that James Schlesinger, then Richard Nixon's secretary of defense, asked the chief of naval operations to prepare a study of how many aircraft carriers the Navy would need if the president decided the United States should no longer defend the Indian Ocean. At the time, the Navy had 13 aircraft carriers, two of which patrolled the Indian Ocean. After a few weeks, the top admiral gave Schlesinger the study. Its conclusion: The Navy would still need 13 carriers.

In Woodward's account, even after Obama decided to send 30,000 more troops, the Pentagon kept coming back with plans involving 40,000. Even after he decided not to pursue an all-out counterinsurgency campaign, the Pentagon kept coming back with plans involving just that.

Obama also kept asking his generals for more options to consider. They were playing the old trick of giving the president three pseudo-options—two that were clearly unacceptable (in this case, 80,000 more troops for full counterinsurgency and 10,000 troops just to train Afghan soldiers) and the one in the middle that they wanted (40,000 more troops). They never gave him another option. When Gen. James "Hoss" Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, drew up a compromise plan involving 20,000 troops (believing the president had a right to see a wide span of options, even if the military didn't agree with them), Mullen forbade him from taking it outside the Pentagon. Obama never saw it.

This is what Generals do, I'm afraid.

In the end, Obama just wrote his own damn plan.  That's what took so long.

Finally, there's the matter of the exit.  The exit is real.  It exists and Woodward and Kaplan take time to highlight it:

Here's where Woodward, wittingly or not, sets down a potential solution. He describes a meeting in early May 2010, where the anti-escalation group in the White House—Lt. Gen. Lute, deputy national security adviser Thomas Donilon, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, and Vice President Joe Biden—are discussing some new intelligence suggesting that many Taliban leaders were feeling the pressures of an eight-year war, tiring of their exile in the "safe havens" across the border, where they live under the thumb of their sponsors in Pakistan's intelligence service.

The counterinsurgency advocates saw the way out as "clear, hold, build and transfer"—clear the insurgents from a town or province, hold it so that the government can bring in essential services and thus build loyalty among the people, then transfer security to the Afghan army and police. "Maybe there was an end run," Woodward writes, summarizing the Biden-Lute group's thinking, "getting some Taliban to reconcile, to break with al Qaeda and provide a bridge back into Afghanistan."

Though Woodward doesn't say so, this "end run" has always been a part of Petraeus' plan, and Obama's too. Both have said many times that the war will end with a settlement, not a victory or surrender, though Petraeus in particular has stressed that the Taliban aren't likely to make a deal as long as they think they're winning, so we have to rack up some tactical or political victories first...

Just so you know, they're not the first to speculate about the end to the war.

I still remember CNN Reporter Michael Ware on the Real Time with Bill Maher back on July 31, 2009 that all the parties in the conflict, including the Taliban were positioning themselves to end the conflict.  I thought he was a little crazy at the time, but I still a piece about his appearance, with the video, which has since been yanked.  But he called his shot.

Here's Jonathan Alter from like July:

From the moment the president announced his plan to start pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan next summer, the Pentagon and its allies (including Hillary Clinton) have tried to fuzz up the timetable. Contingencies must always be accounted for, but to hear the chatter from military officers, you would think that the intentions of the president and the vice president don’t mean much. It’s naive, we’re told by the wise guys on cable TV, to believe we’ll be withdrawing from Afghanistan any time soon.

There’s only one problem with betting the smart money on a long commitment: it’s not so smart. Obama has said that we won’t “turn out the lights” in Afghanistan in July 2011; and, indeed, some residual forces will be there for decades. But my reporting during the last several months suggests that a significant withdrawal will begin within, at the most, 18 months to two years.


Petraeus has immense stature, of course, and after the firing of two commanding generals in a row (Gen. David McKiernan was relieved in early 2009), Obama can’t get rid of him without a firestorm. But the general knows that with Afghanistan already the longest war in American history, he has only a small window in which to combine military force with creative diplomacy in a way that yields real improvement on the ground. If he can’t do it fast enough, the president will conclude that 100,000 troops actually harm progress by making the U.S. look like occupiers. At which point he’ll revert to the Biden Plan—kill Al Qaeda operatives with drones—and forget about Petraeus’s theories of counterinsurgency.

The country simply cannot afford a trillion-dollar commitment to nation building. The only way funding will continue much longer is if Republicans take control of Congress this fall. Even then, the war remains unpopular with the public, a point that won’t be lost on the GOP (as RNC chair Michael Steele’s antiwar comments last week attest). And Obama is hardly oblivious to the electoral implications. Let’s say that Petraeus insists that the July 2011 timeline be pushed back a year, which is quite possible considering the current problems on the ground. That means the de-escalation—and the political windfall—will begin around the summer of 2012, just in time for the Democratic National Convention. In other words, Americans should get used to it: we ain’t staying long.

This goes back to why Petraeus was begging for more time back in August.

Book it. We're outta there. This is now coming from too many sources that I respect and trust.

Lawrence O'Donnell's interview with Charlie Crist (VIDEO)

Almost missed this. Shame on me.

From Greg Sargent:

Both Rubio and Meek, for their own reasons, are pounding Crist with the same attack line -- that despite his party switch to independent, he's a Republican through and through. Call it the Charlie Crist crunch.

Case in point: The Rubio campaign blasted out video today of Crist on MSNBC, getting pressed on whether there are any positions he's taken as a "loyal Republican" that he would no longer hold. His response? "No, not really":

At this point, the vote is split and hardening. At some point, people are gonna have to make a choice, is this about one guy (Meek or Crist, either of whom I can live with) or stopping Rubio?

So how do you really feel about Illegal Immigration, Mrs. Whitman???

My guess? Meg Whitman's had better days.

The President is amused by Rally To Restore Sanity (now with Hotel advice and directions!)

From the Hill.  No indication yet if he's going.  (But I'd bet on a high-profile White House presence.  The only way Obama doesn't go, is if they can't secure the Mall...or argue about who pays for it Comedy Central or the White House.)

President Obama said he was "amused" by the rally in Washington organized by Comedy Central host Jon Stewart set for the end of October.

The president approvingly name-checked Stewart and his "Rally to Restore Sanity," the Oct. 30 gathering on the National Mall ostensibly meant for less strident, centrist political observers.

"I was amused, Jon Stewart, he's going to host a rally called something like 'Americans in Favor of a Return to Sanity,'" Obama told a small gathering in Richmond, Va., where he was taking questions.

Not sure what the story meant by "amused" or  "approvingly name-checked".  I wanna see the video on this.

From what I've heard is the hotels are mostly sold out in D.C. I'd try P.G. County, Maryland, where I'm from. I'd also try Alexandria, VA, Tysons Corner, VA or if necessary Springfield. Go to the Metro Website, look at the addresses for Blue/Orange line, and then search for any sleep cheaps nearby.

If you're going to the Mall, you're going to use the Smithsonian Metro Stop, on the blue line.  You'll come out of the station, turn 180 degrees around and start walkin'.  It's a beast of a walk from the Metro Stop to the Reflecting Pool, but it'll be fall.  (If you were doing this in August, I'd say stay home and watch it on the TeeVee.)

Lawrence O'Donnell's "discussion" of the White House/Liberal divide (VIDEO)

Let me state this as clearly as possible. Adam Green of the Progressive Campaign Change Committee is a moron.

He is a moron because he values the fight more than the outcome. As such, he's not serious, nor should be taken seriously. Why Lawrence decided to treat him as such is a mystery to me.

I guess in a segment detailing the fight between the "Professional Left" and the White House it's necessary to bring someone on from the "Professional Left", but Lawrence, you couldn't have found someone not quite this dumb?

If Obama goes to Connecticut to deliberately show up Joe "worthless piece of scum" Lieberman as he suggests, health reform dies. The President was right about that.

The persistent never-ending, never-dying Liberal/Progressive fallacy is that the opposite of bad/watered down legislation is better legislation.

It's not.

The opposite of Bad/Watered Down Legislation is no legislation.

Adam Green's idea only works if he assumes Joe Lieberman wanted Health Reform to pass. Looking back on his record, at the money he's taken, the state he represents, are you he really wanted it to pass? He voted for it, and I'm still not convinced. In the end, all Joe is ever concerned with is Joe.

"Lead more", "Fight harder", and my personal favorite "Don't give up the fight before you fight it" are all the most hare-brained left-wing criticisms that make me want to punch someone.

Where Adam is absolutely right is where he says (right up front) that he is aware of no Progressive Leader encouraging people not to vote. That's true.

But there are too many Progressive Leaders stoking and seemingly profiting (gotta get them clicks!) from "disappointment" and "letdown". That's also true.

Looks like Steny's going to get his way on the tax vote...

TPM confirms that the House will not be holding a vote on the Obama Middle Class Tax Cuts before the Midterms. Genius! Genius I tells ya!

Score one for Steny.

The one thing I got from watching the Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell (Weeknights at 10pm, Eastern!) was a clear sense of who's ass was being covered by there not being a vote on the Tax Cuts in the Senate (see: Reid, Harry).

I would like know who's ass is getting covered in the House.

Steve Benen's review of the Wisconsin Rally

Shades of '08...

Some of the White House's political gambits of recent months have been smarter than others. ("Recovery Summer," for example, belongs squarely in the "what were they thinking?" category.)

But whoever came up with the idea for a series of '08-style rallies in the campaign's closing weeks probably deserves a pat on the back. President Obama headlined an impressive event at the University of Wisconsin in Madison late yesterday afternoon, and if the goal was to capture some of the spirit of the presidential campaign, it worked like a charm.


According to local law enforcement, 26,500 people showed up for the rally, and before the gates opened, the line of people waiting to enter stretched over a mile. (A local report said the crowd was "exceedingly well behaved.") What's more, the event was simulcast online to 200 other campuses, as part of a not-so-subtle attempt to reinvigorate younger voters who gave Obama a boost in 2008, but who traditionally don't vote in midterm elections.

In a message that seemed targeted specifically to those first-time voters from two years ago, the president said, "You proved that the power of everyday people, going door to door, neighbor to neighbor, friend to friend, was stronger than the status quo. You tapped into something that this country hadn't seen in a very long time. You did that. Every single one of you is a shareholder in that mission of rebuilding our country."

That "shareholder" line seemed new and noteworthy -- it was a way of reinforcing the notion that those who helped elect Obama are literally invested in his success, and have an incentive to avoid a hostile takeover of what they created.

Wisconsin, home to competitive gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, was the first of four scheduled "Moving America Forward" rallies, with the next three scheduled for Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, each of which will also hold key gubernatorial and Senate races this year.

Politico's report noted that Madison offered "proof that the president could still work his magic."

I have no quantifiable evidence that rallies like these actually boost midterm turnout or affect the "enthusiasm gap," and with a struggling economy, I'm not sure how much of the country is even willing to listen.

But if last night was any indication, the White House may want to revisit the schedule and hold a few more of these events over the next 34 days.

The President's rally (in front of 26,000) in Madison, Wisconsin (VIDEO)

But did you have to bring up the Bears and the Packers?? Really?

From the prepared remarks:

The fact is that we’re not where we need to be -- not even close. The hole that we’re climbing out of is a deep one. People, I want you to understand the magnitude of what we’ve gone through. This is deeper than the last three recessions combined. Most of the jobs we lost took place before any of our economic policies had a chance to take effect. And on top of that, the middle class had been struggling for more than a decade and jobs had been getting shipped overseas and millions of families were still treading water. Millions are still barely able to make their bills or make the mortgage. I hear their stories every day. I read them in just heartbreaking letters that I receive each night.

So I understand that people are frustrated. I understand people are impatient with the pace of change. Of course they are. Look, I’m impatient, but I also know this: Now is not the time to lose heart. Now is not the time to give up. We do not quit. And we cannot forget that this nation has been through far worse and we have come out stronger from war to depression to the great struggle for equal rights and civil rights. We do not quit.

In every instance, progress took time. In every instance, progress took sacrifice. Progress took faith. You know, the slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs, they weren’t sure when slavery would end but they understood it was going to end. When women were out there marching for the right to vote, they weren’t sure when it was going to happen but they kept on going. When workers were organizing for the right to organize and were being intimidated, they weren’t sure when change was going to come but they knew it was going to come. And I am telling you, Wisconsin, we are bringing about change and progress is going to come -- but you’ve got to stick with me. You can’t lose heart.

Change is going to come. Change is going to come for this generation -- if we work for it, if we fight for it, if we believe in it. The biggest mistake we could make right now is to let disappointment or frustration lead to apathy and indifference. That is how the other side wins. And I want everybody to be clear, make no mistake: If the other side does win, they will spend the next two years fighting for the very same policies that led to this recession in the first place. The same policies that left the middle class behind for more than a decade. The same policies that we fought so hard for to change in 2008.

Breitbart Syndrome

Andrew Sullivan (still mad at ya!) was re-posting a list of "signs that your opinions function more to signal loyalty and ability than to estimate truth". He named a few as Breitbart Syndrome, after functioning racist, Andrew Breitbart:

  • You find it hard to be enthusiastic for something until you know that others oppose it.
  • You have little interest in getting clear on what exactly is the position being argued.
  • Realizing that a topic is important and neglected doesn’t make you much interested.
  • You have little interest in digging to bigger topics behind commonly argued topics.
  • You are less interested in a topic when you don’t foresee being able to talk about it.
  • You are uncomfortable taking a position near the middle of the opinion distribution.
  • You are uncomfortable taking a position of high uncertainty about who is right.
  • You care far more about current nearby events than similar distant or past/future events.
  • You find it easy to conclude that those who disagree with you are insincere or stupid.
  • You are reluctant to change your publicly stated positions in response to new info.
  • You are reluctant to agree a rival’s claim, even if you had no prior opinion on the topic.
  • You are reluctant to take a position that raises the status of rivals.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kevin Drum's response to President Obama's kick in the pants to the lethargic left

Only because Steve Benen referenced his piece in Mother Jones:

Well, that's not going to be popular with Obama's lefty critics, though obviously you'd expect a mushy sellout like me to agree with him. And I do! But I'd also make a distinction. If you're, say, Glenn Greenwald, I wouldn't expect you to buy Obama's defense at all. All of us have multiple interests, but if your primary concern is with civil liberties and the national security state, then the problem isn't that Obama hasn't done enough, it's that his policies have been actively damaging. There's just no reason why you should be especially excited about either his administration or the continuation of the Democratic Party in power.

On the other hand, if your critique is the broader and more common one — that Obama has moved in the right direction but has been too quick to compromise and hasn't accomplished enough — then I think you should take his defense of his record way, way more seriously. It's all too easy, like Velma Hart, to convince yourself that he could have waved a magic wand and gotten a bigger stimulus and a better healthcare bill and stronger financial regulation and a historic climate bill. But honestly, you have to buy into some pretty implausible political realities to believe that (Olympia Snowe would have voted for a trillion-dollar stimulus, there were Republican votes for a climate bill if only it had been a bigger priority, healthcare reform could have been passed via reconciliation, Harry Reid could have unilaterally ended the filibuster, etc.). The votes just weren't there and the president's leverage over centrist Dems and recalcitrant Republicans just wasn't very strong. Maybe he could have done better, but the evidence says that, at best, he could have done only a smidge better.

And the alternative? Well, if the prospect of ripping apart healthcare reform, shutting down the government, deep sixing START, slashing social spending, and reliving the glory days of investigations over Christmas card lists isn't enough to get you motivated, I guess I'm not sure what is. I wish I got more warm and fuzzies from Obama too, and I wish, like Mike Tomasky, that his "fetish of not kowtowing to public opinion" were a little less ostentatious. But letting Darrell Issa take over the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform doesn't seem like a very good way of getting that message across.

OK then. I think I'll go donate a hundred bucks to someone. Who do you think it should be?

Steve Benen's response to President Obama's call out of the lethargic left

From "A Passionate Plea":

For those in the "inadequate" camp, the president's pitch may or may not be persuasive, but I think it should be. We talked recently about the accomplishments of the last 21 months, so I won't rehash the list again, but I continue to believe it's a record that's as impressive as anything we've seen in modern times. What's more, I'm not at all convinced it was within the president's power to make these milestone breakthroughs any stronger. The accomplishments can and should go further, but for the Democratic base, that should mean getting more engaged, not less.

Reaching that final group seems to be a tougher sell. The administration's economic policies have made a huge difference, but the status quo is still woefully unacceptable. It's not necessarily up to the president alone to grab hold of the economy and make it better, but there have been missteps and the frustration is understandable.

I suppose the pitch Democrats can make to these voters is: it can and will get worse if Republicans win, and would have been much worse had the GOP gotten its way. Obama has taken steps to get us on the right track, and conditions have slowly improved, but the surest way to stop the progress, the argument goes, is to hand the GOP power and encourage Republicans to pursue their discredited economic agenda.

Or, as Kevin concluded, "And the alternative? Well, if the prospect of ripping apart healthcare reform, shutting down the government, deep sixing START, slashing social spending, and reliving the glory days of investigations over Christmas card lists isn't enough to get you motivated, I guess I'm not sure what is."

Erza Klein's reponse to the President's calling out lethargic Democrats

From this afternoon's Washington Post:

For the record, I'm in agreement with the view that the Obama administration has been a disappointment on civil liberties, unconvinced by the argument that a more combative White House would have led to more policy achievements, and hostile to the view that things like health-care reform aren't major successes worth celebrating.

Place your bets on how long before the GOP turns on CBO Director Doug Elmendorf?

From Steve Benen:

When the Congressional Budget Office tells the GOP what it wants to hear, the party loves the office and finds it credible. When analyses offer discouraging news, Republicans consider the CBO useless.

With this in mind, I'd be surprised if Republicans didn't try to shut down the CBO entirely, or at least fire its director, after today.

CBO Director Doug Elmendorf testified before the Senate Budget Committee today and dropped something of a bombshell. Extending the Bush tax cuts, he said, will "probably reduce income relative to what would otherwise occur in 2020." The reason is simple: Debt.

Elmendorf doesn't deny that tax cuts stimulate the economy. But they don't stimulate it that much, he says, and over the long run, the net economic growth from the tax cuts will be quite small. The net deficit impact won't be. "Lower tax revenues increase budget deficits and thereby government borrowing," Elmendorf said, "which crowds out investment, while lower tax rates increase people's saving and work effort; the net effect on economic activity depends on the balance of those forces." [...]

So the bottom line is that extending the tax cuts indefinitely would hurt the economy. The less you extend the tax cuts, the less damage you do to the economy.

Oh, so that's why Rand Paul is getting his @$$ kicked (VIDEO)

Remember what I said about the polling in Kentucky? Wanna bet that this may be a reason why?

Maybe not such a good time to pull off the air in Kentucky, eh GOP?

"The precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead..."

Shifting away from the Rolling Stone piece, and to a backyard discussion (like we've seen before) in New Mexico (video will be posted as soon as its made available), the President addressed his faith:

In response to a woman who asked him why he is a Christian, Obama also offered some rare personal comments about his faith.

"I'm a Christian by choice," he said, noting that his mother "didn't raise me in the church" and that his family did not attend church every week.

"So I came to my Christian faith later in life," Obama said. "And it was because the precepts of Jesus Christ spoke to me in terms of the kind of life that I would want to lead - being my brothers' and sisters' keeper, treating others as they would treat me."

He said he also reached an "understanding that . . . Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings, that we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes, and that, you know, we achieve salvation through the grace of God."

He continued: "But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people and do our best to help them find . . . their own grace. And so that's what I strive to do. That's what I pray to do every day. I think my public service is part of that effort to express my Christian faith."

Obama emphasized, however, that "as president of the United States, I'm also somebody who deeply believes that part of the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and of no faith." While the United States "is still predominantly Christian," he said, "we have Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, and . . . their own path to grace is one that we have to revere and respect as much as our own."

"“You can afford to operate on the basis of your ideological predispositions.”

Continuing from Rolling Stone:

There’s also a concern when it comes to financial reform that your economic team is closely identified with Wall Street and the deregulation that caused the collapse. These are the folks who were supposed to have had oversight of Wall Street, and many of them worked for or were close to banks like Goldman Sachs.
Let me first of all say this. . . .

You used to work for Goldman Sachs!
[Laughs] Exactly. I read some of the articles that Tim Dickinson and others have produced in Rolling Stone. I understand the point of view that they're bringing. But look: Tim Geithner never worked for Goldman; Larry Summers didn't work for Goldman. There is no doubt that I brought in a bunch of folks who understand the financial markets, the same way, by the way, that FDR brought in a lot of folks who understood the financial markets after the crash, including Joe Kennedy, because my number-one job at that point was making sure that we did not have a full-fledged financial meltdown.

The reason that was so important was not because I was concerned about making sure that the folks who had been making hundreds of millions of dollars were keeping their bonuses for the next year. The reason was because we were seeing 750,000 jobs a month being lost when I was sworn in. The consequence to Main Street, to ordinary folks, was catastrophic, and we had to make sure that we stopped the bleeding. We managed to stabilize the financial markets at a cost that is much less to taxpayers than anybody had anticipated. The truth of the matter is that TARP will end up costing probably less than $100 billion, when all is said and done. Which I promise you, two years ago, you could have asked any economist and any financial expert out there, and they would have said, "We'll take that deal."

One of the things that you realize when you're in my seat is that, typically, the issues that come to my desk — there are no simple answers to them. Usually what I'm doing is operating on the basis of a bunch of probabilities: I'm looking at the best options available based on the fact that there are no easy choices. If there were easy choices, somebody else would have solved it, and it wouldn't have come to my desk.

That's true for financial regulatory reform, that's true on Afghanistan, that's true on how we deal with the terrorist threat. On all these issues, you've got a huge number of complex factors involved. When you're sitting outside and watching, you think, "Well, that sounds simple," and you can afford to operate on the basis of your ideological predispositions. What I'm trying to do — and certainly what we've tried to do in our economic team — is to keep a North Star out there: What are the core principles we're abiding by? In the economic sphere, my core principle is that America works best when you've got a growing middle class, and you've got ladders so that people who aren't yet in the middle class can aspire to the middle class, and if that broad base is rolling, then the country does well.

“I could have had a knock-down, drag-out fight…that might have energized you and The Huffington Post, and we would not have health care.”

President Obama's message to Progressives sitting on the fence during the midterms has gotten a lot of attention, not all of it positive.

I stand by what I said a couple days ago. There's a reason I'm a Liberal who can't stand other Liberals. Some Liberals are idiots, and don't seem to grasp the idea that if you want better progressive governance, it doesn't help to make it harder for the President to govern progressively.

But in fairness, just the one version of his statement was highlighted on TPM.  He came back to Jann Wenner after the interview and said the thing that was highlighted on TPM.  This was buried in the interview. The whole statement was far longer, and (like all other Obama statements) a hell of a lot more thoughtful and complete:

One of the healthy things about the Democratic Party is that it is diverse and opinionated. We have big arguments within the party because we got a big tent, and that tent grew during my election and in the midterm election previously. So making everybody happy within the Democratic Party is always going to be tough.

Some of it, also, has to do with — and I joke about it — that there's a turn of mind among Democrats and progressives where a lot of times we see the glass as half-empty. It's like, "Well, gosh, we've got this historic health care legislation that we've been trying to get for 100 years, but it didn't have every bell and whistle that we wanted right now, so let's focus on what we didn't get instead of what we got." That self-critical element of the progressive mind is probably a healthy thing, but it can also be debilitating.

When I talk to Democrats around the country, I tell them, "Guys, wake up here. We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable." I came in and had to prevent a Great Depression, restore the financial system so that it functions, and manage two wars. In the midst of all that, I ended one of those wars, at least in terms of combat operations. We passed historic health care legislation, historic financial regulatory reform and a huge number of legislative victories that people don't even notice. We wrestled away billions of dollars of profit that were going to the banks and middlemen through the student-loan program, and now we have tens of billions of dollars that are going directly to students to help them pay for college. We expanded national service more than we ever have before.

The Recovery Act alone represented the largest investment in research and development in our history, the largest investment in infrastructure since Dwight Eisenhower, the largest investment in education — and that was combined, by the way, with the kind of education reform that we hadn't seen in this country in 30 years — and the largest investment in clean energy in our history.

You look at all this, and you say, "Folks, that's what you elected me to do." I keep in my pocket a checklist of the promises I made during the campaign, and here I am, halfway through my first term, and we've probably accomplished 70 percent of the things that we said we were going to do — and by the way, I've got two years left to finish the rest of the list, at minimum. So I think that it is very important for Democrats to take pride in what we've accomplished.

All that has taken place against a backdrop in which, because of the financial crisis, we've seen an increase in poverty, and an increase in unemployment, and people's wages and incomes have stagnated. So it's not surprising that a lot of folks out there don't feel like these victories have had an impact. What is also true is our two biggest pieces of legislation, health care and financial regulatory reform, won't take effect right away, so ordinary folks won't see the impact of a lot of these things for another couple of years. It is very important for progressives to understand that just on the domestic side, we've accomplished a huge amount.

When you look at what we've been able to do internationally — resetting our relations with Russia and potentially having a new START treaty by the end of the year, reinvigorating the Middle East peace talks, ending the combat mission in Iraq, promoting a G-20 structure that has drained away a lot of the sense of north versus south, east versus west, so that now the whole world looks to America for leadership, and changing world opinion in terms of how we operate on issues like human rights and torture around the world — all those things have had an impact as well.

What is true, and this is part of what can frustrate folks, is that over the past 20 months, we made a series of decisions that were focused on governance, and sometimes there was a conflict between governance and politics. So there were some areas where we could have picked a fight with Republicans that might have gotten our base feeling good, but would have resulted in us not getting legislation done.

I could have had a knock-down, drag-out fight on the public option that might have energized you and The Huffington Post, and we would not have health care legislation now. I could have taken certain positions on aspects of the financial regulatory bill, where we got 90 percent of what we set out to get, and I could have held out for that last 10 percent, and we wouldn't have a bill. You've got to make a set of decisions in terms of "What are we trying to do here? Are we trying to just keep everybody ginned up for the next election, or at some point do you try to win elections because you're actually trying to govern?" I made a decision early on in my presidency that if I had an opportunity to do things that would make a difference for years to come, I'm going to go ahead and take it.

I just made the announcement about Elizabeth Warren setting up our Consumer Finance Protection Bureau out in the Rose Garden, right before you came in. Here's an agency that has the potential to save consumers billions of dollars over the next 20 to 30 years — simple stuff like making sure that folks don't jack up your credit cards without you knowing about it, making sure that mortgage companies don't steer you to higher-rate mortgages because they're getting a kickback, making sure that payday loans aren't preying on poor people in ways that these folks don't understand. And you know what? That's what we say we stand for as progressives. If we can't take pleasure and satisfaction in concretely helping middle-class families and working-class families save money, get a college education, get health care — if that's not what we're about, then we shouldn't be in the business of politics. Then we're no better than the other side, because all we're thinking about is whether or not we're in power.

Sharron Angle doesn't believe anyone should have a Federal guarantee of Healthcare...except Sharron Angle and her husband.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Sharron:

Angle's campaign acknowledged to Nevada journalist Jon Ralston Monday that both the candidate and her husband receive health care from the federal government.

Spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in a statement: "Mr. Ted Angle receives his pension through the (federal) Civil Service Retirement System. While it is not supplemented by the federal government, current civil servants pay into the program to pay the schedule of those already retired - much like how the Social Security Program works today. Mr. Angle does not qualify - nor does he receive Social Security benefits. His health insurance plan (the Federal Employee Health Program), which also covers Sharron, is a continuation of what he was receiving while he worked for the federal government."

The Rolling Stone Interview with President Obama

Jann Wenner got another one of his mega-super-incredibly detailed interviews with the President, and was good enough to put the whole thing up (not just snippets) online at the Rolling Stone site.

I'm actually still reading the thing as I type this (and listen to my afternoon Randi), and snippets are just about everywhere, but there are a couple of good quotes I enjoyed.

How filibustering has and hasn't worked:

I had served in the United States Senate; I had seen how the filibuster had become a routine tool to slow things down, as opposed to what it used to be, which was a selective tool — although often a very destructive one, because it was typically targeted at civil rights and the aspirations of African-Americans who were trying to be freed up from Jim Crow. But I'd been in the Senate long enough to know that the machinery there was breaking down.

What I was surprised somewhat by, and disappointed by, although I've got to give some grudging admiration for just how effective it's been, was the degree to which [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell was able to keep his caucus together on a lot of issues. Eventually, we were able to wear them down, so that we were able to finally get really important laws passed, some of which haven't gotten a lot of attention — the credit-card reform bill, or the anti-tobacco legislation, or preventing housing and mortgage fraud. We'd be able to pick off two or three Republicans who wanted to do the right thing.

But the delays, the cloture votes, the unprecedented obstruction that has taken place in the Senate took its toll. Even if you eventually got something done, it would take so long and it would be so contentious, that it sent a message to the public that "Gosh, Obama said he was going to come in and change Washington, and it's exactly the same, it's more contentious than ever." Everything just seems to drag on — even what should be routine activities, like appointments, aren't happening. So it created an atmosphere in which a public that is already very skeptical of government, but was maybe feeling hopeful right after my election, felt deflated and sort of felt, "We're just seeing more of the same."

Lawrence O'Donnell's interview with Vice President Biden (VIDEO)

While part of me is sad that Lawrence isn't in town shopping a new scripted TV-series, he's in his element on The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. I liked what I saw so far.

My favorite MSNBC moment featuring Mr. O'Donnell came a couple of months ago when he was guest-hosting the Ed Show for Ed Schultz, and he laid it down on Lobbyists.

Simply put, yes Lobbyists can be cockroaches, but there are some areas where Lobbyists are useful. The good ones are the ones who tell you the benefits of supporting their position, and the costs. It may be too much Washington spin, but that's the way it used to work. "Hell, if you can't drink [the Lobbyists] booze, take [the Lobbyists] money and then vote against [the Lobbyists], you don't belong in this business."

We had a similar moment early on in the Last Word, when Lawrence was talking about the Senate's decision not to pursue the Obama Middle Class Tax Cuts until after the midterms. He said he saw it both ways, which struck me as fundamentally honest. He gets it that holding the vote after the midterms is dumb. At the same time, he understands how vulnerable some Senate Dems are (namely Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid).

In any case, his showpiece for his fist show was an interview with Vice-President Joe Biden, and it was illuminating in a couple of points:

And Part 2:

Where exactly is this Republican surge coming from??

From NBC News:

A majority of the country still believes that President Obama isn't responsible for the state of the U.S. economy, but the number has steadily declined since his presidency began.

According to the brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 56 percent think Obama inherited the economic situation, versus 32 percent who say his policies are responsible for it.

That's a drop from January of this year (when 65 percent said Obama inherited the economy), and from Feb. 2009 (when 84 percent said that).

"It is becoming Obama’s economy -- slowly but surely," said Democratic pollster Jay Campbell of Hart Research Associates, the Democratic half of the NBC/WSJ survey.

Also in the poll, a whopping 70 percent believe the nation is still in a recession, despite the National Bureau of Economic Research's determination that the recession officially ended last year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The President's Conference Call with Student-Journalists (AUDIO)

Right around noon today the President took some time for a conference call with college and university student-journalists. He explained that part of the reason he was reaching out was to keep them engaged with their democracy:

Bear in mind there ain't a lot of video here. It's all audio, intersperse with photos of the President.

The President's Interview on NBC's Today Show "Education Nation" (VIDEO)

An long format interview with the President ona major Broadcast network mostly on Education? Why, tell me more!

By the way, the President's answer wasn't as harsh as the Post made it sound. The story covered the answer adequately, but the headline was a tad bit sensationalistic.

Matt Lauer took a stab at the Velma Hart issue, and failed miserably. Actually, he sounded like an idiot when he asked the question.

Lauer was better on the Clinton issue, and the idea that Democrats have not been rigorous enough.

And really, a Rahmbo question? Really??

UPDATE: 10:37am Pacific Sept. 28th: Okay. Maybe the Rahmbo question was legit after all.

The National GOP has pulled off the air in Kentucky?

Via Greg Sargent at the Plumline:

Are Republicans confident in a Rand Paul win? National GOPers have pulled their advertising in Kentucky, which Dems say is a sign of worry, but Republicans say they're doing it because they don't believe the public polling showing it close.

Since the signing of the Small Business bill won't make the Networks, might as well see it here (VIDEO)

Might as well post the video since odds are this isn't going to get covered on any of the major news networks:

President Obama signs a bill that will allow small businesses to grow and hire new workers by providing tax breaks, better access to credit and other incentives.