Friday, December 3, 2010

Nate Silver looks at the poll that says Scott Brown is in good shape for 2012...

...and basically says not so fast.

I will say this, Scott Brown is going to make the Republicans lives' interesting.  To hold onto that seat, he's going to have to lean a lot more Democratic than he has been so far.

Does this mean that David Brooks "gets it"???

As I live and breathe:

And my problem with the Republican Party right now, including Paul, is that if you offered them 80-20, they say no. If you offered them 90-10, they'd say no. If you offered them 99-1 they'd say no. And that's because we've substituted governance for brokerism, for rigidity that Ronald Regan didn't have.

And to me, this rigidity comes from this polarizing world view that they're a bunch of socialists over there. You know, again, I've spent a lot of time with the president. I've spent a lot of time with the people around him. They're liberals! ... But they're not idiots. And they're not Europeans, and they don't want to be a European welfare state. ... It's American liberalism, and it's not inflexible.

"It's almost as if Republicans say they care about deficit reduction, until they're offered a chance to actually reduce the deficit."

Steve Benen, at his vicious best.

Attention Deficit Hawks!  According to the CBO, the DREAM Act will reduce the Deficit (not by an earth-shattering number), but it save money!

But none of y'all care about that, because Conservatives are fiscal frauds of the first order:

The DREAM Act, which has traditionally enjoyed strong bipartisan support, provides a path to citizenship for these young immigrants -- graduate from high school, get conditional permanent residency status, go to college or serve in the military, and become eligible for citizenship.

Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office made the pitch even easier.

On Thursday, CBO estimated the bill would reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion over the next decade. The figure reflects a $1.4 billion increase in on-budget deficits, and a $2.8 billion decrease in off-budget deficits, CBO noted. Only on-budget figures are considered under pay-as-you-go budget rules adopted by the House.

This probably won't change a lot of minds; nearly all Republicans, including those who helped write the DREAM Act, have decided the bill constitutes "amnesty."

That said, the CBO score does bring to mind a fairly consistent trend in recent policy debates. For all of the obsessive attention, especially from the right, focused on reducing the deficit, Republicans have a nasty habit of rejecting ideas that actually help close the budget shortfall.

The Democratic health care reform proposal lowered the deficit ... and Republicans opposed it.

The Democratic student-loan bill lowered the deficit ... and Republicans opposed it.

The Democratic effort to let Bush tax cuts for the rich expire would lower the deficit ... and Republicans oppose it.

The Democratic energy/climate bill would lower the deficit ... and Republicans oppose it.

The Democratic effort to reduce bloated Pentagon spending would lower the deficit ... and most Republicans oppose it.

It's almost as if Republicans say they care about deficit reduction, until they're offered a chance to actually reduce the deficit.

If I didn't know better, I might think GOP officials don't think a deficit-reduction measure "counts" unless it undermines struggling families in some way. That couldn't be, could it?

Putting a thumb in the eye of Liberal Discontent, Part 5 (You always hurt the ones you love)

Ta-Nehisi Coates posted this, specifically refecting on the Black Power Movement. Erza re-posted, with thoughts about the relationship between the "Professional Left" and Obama today. It certainly caught my attention:

Unfortunately, when hope diminishes, the hate is often turned most bitterly toward those who originally built up the hope. In all the speaking that I have done in the United States before varied audiences, including some hostile whites, the only time that I have been booed was one night in a Chicago mass meeting by some young members of the Black Power movement. I went home that night with an ugly feeling. Selfishly I thought of my sufferings and sacrifices over the last twelve years. Why would they boo one so close to them? But as I lay awake thinking, I finally came to myself, and I could not for the life of me have less than patience and understanding for those young people.

For twelve years I, and others like me, had held out radiant promises of progress. I had preached to them about my dream. I had lectured to them about the not too distant day when they would have freedom, "all, here and now." I had urged them to have faith in America and in white society. Their hopes had soared. They were now booing because they felt that we were unable to deliver on our promises. They were booing because we had urged them to have faith in people who had too often proved to be unfaithful. They were now hostile because they were watching the dream that they had so readily accepted turn into a frustrating nightmare.

Sound familiar?

Does President Obama have Corporate America by the balls??

Well, Noam Schieber seems to think so, and I think he's got a pretty good argument.

Two weeks after a mid-term election in which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped thwart Barack Obama and the Democrats, the group’s CEO, Tom Donohue, gave a speech that read like a doubling down of sorts. “We cannot allow this nation to move from a government of the people to a government of the regulators,”he said. “Regulation is the vehicle by which some seek to control our economy, our businesses, and our lives.” Nor did Donohue leave any doubt about how he intended to prosecute this fight: “The Chamber will mount a vigorous defense and aggressive offense in support of the right to lobby, communicate with voters … and to do so without government harassment or undue restriction.” In other words, Donohue plans to spend gobs more money on lobbyists and ads to undermine Obama.

But, if you look at what Donohue had to say in a less scripted moment, it’s not clear that he and the Chamber feel quite as triumphal as they’d have you believe. Asked about Republicans’ mounting criticism of the Federal Reserve, Donohue sounded positively frustrated. “The Fed has over many, many, many years been particularly helpful to this government and to this country,” he lectured reporters. “We must maintain the independence of the Fed and be very, very careful not to louse that up on Capitol Hill.”

Oops! Having spent tens of millions of dollars defeating Democrats while explicitly touting the Tea Party movement, the Chamber is waking up to the fact that its brand new Congress may be a touch better in theory than in practice. Not only are many recently elected GOPers hostile to the Fed, they also oppose infrastructure spending, corporate subsidies, expanded free trade, and pretty much anything Wall Street favors—all top Chamber priorities.

Which is why the White House shouldn’t be in an especially conciliatory mood when dealing with the Chamber and its allies. Big business may talk a good game these days. But, in a world where the Tea Parties are about to get the keys to the Capitol, Corporate America needs adults like Barack Obama much more than he needs it.

Any article that takes the time to rip Amity Shlaes, minister of information for the country-club-industrial-complex (Noam's words...I only wish they were mine), is okay by me.

It continues on to the key graphs:

If you parse Tom Donohue’s speech, the administration should be sufficiently cowed after the midterms to retreat from key pieces of health care reform, financial reform, and greenhouse-gas regulation in exchange for business support on other issues. Business also wants to extend all the Bush tax cuts and preserve the tax advantage for overseas profits, which the White House opposes.

But it’s actually the administration that now holds the cards. For one thing, the regulations the Chamber is most exercised about also happen to be the most popular. The big banks hate the new consumer financial products agency, but the public strongly supports it. The insurance companies hate not being able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions; the public can’t wait for that provision to take effect. The Chamber would be foolish to go to war over these issues.

More importantly, corporations are suddenly in a much more precarious position than they were prior to the election. That may be counterintuitive given the Republican gains. But, while it’s tempting to assume that the interests of business overlap perfectly with the interests of the Republican Party, that’s simply not the case. The GOP wants to defeat Democrats at all costs. Big business has to make a more sophisticated calculation: It wants to defeat Democrats, since GOP rule typically means lower taxes and fewer regulations. But, unlike the GOP, the shorter-term costs of achieving this goal matter quite a bit to Corporate America. Republicans might accept a double-dip recession as the price of vanquishing Democrats. But, to most corporate managers, such profit-destroying horrors outweigh the benefits of GOP rule.

For that matter, even GOP rule itself doesn’t look nearly as appealing in the Tea Party era. In addition to opposing big business on some of its top priorities, like infrastructure spending and immigration reform, Tea Party pols are prone to dangerous games of brinkmanship. For example, many are drawing a line on raising the nation’s debt limit, which could create a fiscal crisis, leading to a collapse of the dollar and a surge in interest rates.

During the mid-term campaign, the Chamber breezily dismissed such worries by insisting the Tea Partiers would shed their most extreme positions once in office. "Some of the politics of the Tea Party and legislative practicalities just don't match up," the group’s political director, Bill Miller, told Bloomberg Businessweek in October. But the reality is that the GOP is much more likely to move toward the Tea Party movement than vice versa. That’s because the power of the movement is structural: It has less to do with individual office-holders than with the constant threat of primary challenges against Republicans who drift too far to the center, as occurred this year in Utah, Alaska, Florida, and Delaware.

All of which makes the business community’s greatest source of leverage over Democrats—the threat of ousting them on Election Day—significantly less credible. The more Democrats that Big Business takes out, the closer it comes to consolidating power for the Tea Parties and all the nightmares that entails. If that wasn’t apparent before November 2, it’s almost inescapable now.

The Bargaining Advantages of not giving a @#$%

Via Jonathan Bernstein. In short: if you don't care about policy at all, it makes you rather hard to bargain with:

More to the point is that most Democratic constituency groups have real policy demands, and that they’re very eager to have those demands fulfilled. My sense is that a lot of Republican constituency groups have more symbolic demands.

Therefore, at the end of the day, a lot of Republican constituency groups are willing to go along with an all-or-nothing strategy on most issues, while Democratic constituency groups are perfectly willing to bargain for as much as they can get. Look: if you want universal health care, you are probably willing to settle for moving from 80% coverage to 95% coverage (or whatever the actual numbers are). If you believe that government involvement in health care is unconstitutional, or immoral, or whatever, then there’s not much to bargain over.

President Obama's speech at Bagram Air Base (VIDEO)

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ignore the seemingly worried look on the President's face. MSNBC picked a lousy still-frame.

Andrew Sullivan and Jonathan Chait: You can't negoiate with fiscal fraud, Paul Ryan.

Just love hearing hyperactive budget hawk Andrew Sullivan call Paul Ryan out for what he is:

So is this a fiscal emergency or isn't it? And here you have a real distinction between a functioning conservatism and the obstructionist utopianism of the current GOP.

The debt is obviously the most pressing issue at hand; this commission represents the best hope in a long time to tackle it. But it must, according to Ryan, be held hostage in order to repeal a health insurance reform that cuts the deficit, according to the CBO, and that was a signature campaign promise by a president elected in a landslide. The only way realistically to cut the debt now, as Bowles-Simpson recognizes, is to work from the status quo - remember when conservatism meant that, when it gave some weight to what was already established? - not to demand tearing it all up and starting over, let alone also demanding a utopian scheme for Medicare vouchers that has no chance of getting through at any point in the near future.

So let's point out the obvious: Paul Ryan is another fiscal fraud. He has much less interest in practically reducing the debt than posturing as a born-again supply-sider and base-pleaser for the Limbaugh right. He is a veneer of fake earnestness over a vandalistic opposition determined to win back power rather than address the country's urgent fiscal crisis.

And what do you know, his piece was called: Paul Ryan: Fiscal Fraud. Way to lay it out there, chief.

Jonathan Chait (from the opposite end of the aisle) says pretty much the same damn thing:

This is why it's so difficult to negotiate with Paul Ryan. The Affordable Care Act is a serious attempt to reduce medical inflation, which is the largest driver of the long-term federal budget crisis. It may fail, but if it does, it will be because opponents in Congress managed to hamper its cost-saving devices.

Ryan, like many conservatives, prefers to reside in an alternate universe in which the Affordable Care Act is not a budget saver but a massive drain on the federal budget (like, say, the prescription drug entitlement he supported.) The Bowles-Simpson commission examined the issue and sensibly concluded that building up the cost-saving devices in the PPACA would save money, and tearing them down would cost money. Ryan can't accept that. You can negotiate with somebody who has different preferences than you do. But negotiating with somebody who inhabits a different reality is very difficult.

Of course, his piece was called: Why You Can't Negotiate With Paul Ryan.

The knife in your back may not come from the GOP, too often it comes from Congressional Democrats.

Following up on a piece that Greg Sargent wrote yesterday, detailing how Congressional Democrats screwed up in the fight against the Bush Tax Cuts, when the White House thought it was a good idea to hold a vote before the election.

Now, we have Steve Benen writing about one of my faves, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) . On Thursday, Harkin decries the White House's posturing toward a compromise on the Bush Tax Cuts, intimating that it threatens Obama's chances in 2012...

...yet on Wednesday, Harkin championed the idea of a compromise.

My goal here is not to pick on Harkin, a senator I've long admired. The point, though, is that President Obama established the Democratic baseline on tax policy quite a while ago -- permanent cuts for those making less than $250,000; Clinton-era top rates for the wealthy -- and he's stuck to it for nearly two years, including through the election season. The president appears poised to yield to GOP demands now, which is unfortunate, but is largely a reflection of what transpired on Capitol Hill, where Dems chose to stray from the baseline Obama had already set.

In this particular case, we see Harkin on Thursday demanding that Obama fight against the same Republican plan Harkin was open to on Wednesday.

Or put another way, Harkin said on Wednesday that he could support tax breaks for the wealthy, so long as Democrats got something out of the deal. Harkin said a day later that President Obama would be making a grave error supporting tax breaks for the wealthy, no matter what Democrats got out of the deal.

The complete piece is here.

And remember what Greg said yesterday?

My understanding from the reporting I did at the time is that White House officials repeatedly signaled to Dem Congressional leaders that they wanted the vote [on extending only the middle class part of the Bush Tax Cuts] to happen. Nancy Pelosi, too, wanted it to happen. But she and Steny Hoyer ultimately deferred to moderate Dems who feared such a vote would allow Republicans to paint them as tax hikers. Dem leaders also worried that they might lose the vote...

What does all this tell me?

The House and Senate punted on the Bush Tax Cuts in deference to a blue dogs caucus that was scared of a Tax Cuts fight in the middle of an uphill election.

There's an old joke my Dad told me about the Vietnam War. President Johnson said if I voted for Goldwater, I'd get four more years of the Vietnam War. Well, I voted for Goldwater...and I did get four more years of the War.

Get it?

Well, you will in a second.

Blue Dog Democrats were running in a uphill year against a bad economy, where afraid they'd lose their elections if there was a fight over the Bush Tax Cuts. Well, guess what? There was a fight, they helped Congressional Democrats cave...and they lost anyway!!!

And now that Congressional Democrats folded in the face of the Bush Tax Cuts fight, now that they boxed themselves into a corner, and now that they're feeling the heat from their base...they're pointing the the White House.

So between the Benen article and Greg Sargent's piece its pretty clear. Yeah, we didn't handle the Tax Cut thing well at all, but we'd prefer the White House take all the blame for it.

UPDATE 10:25pm Pacific: Even Brian Beutler, the Reporter who cries "wolf" far too often for my tastes, in a piece echoing Greg Sargent's thinks that the Congressional Dems are hypocrites of the first order:

In the meantime Congressional Dems are furious at the White House for having provided no leadership since the election, only to highjack the issue and (probably) give Republicans just about everything they want. And the White House understandably finds this all highly hypocritical, because these same Congressional Democrats punted back in October when President Obama was pressing them to vote for his tax plan.

But all the finger pointing is really just a diversion from the bigger point that the Democrats aren't really out of options. They're just scared of their own leverage again.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Putting a thumb in the eye of Liberal Discontent, Part 4 (Congress screwed up the Bush Tax cuts, not the White House)

And now we have Greg Sargent:

My understanding from the reporting I did at the time is that White House officials repeatedly signaled to Dem Congressional leaders that they wanted the vote [on extending only the middle class part of the Bush Tax Cuts] to happen. Nancy Pelosi, too, wanted it to happen. But she and Steny Hoyer ultimately deferred to moderate Dems who feared such a vote would allow Republicans to paint them as tax hikers. Dem leaders also worried that they might lose the vote, though it's unclear why this should have mattered: It still would have forced House GOPers to make a tough choice before the election.

It's also key to keep in mind that when the possibility of the vote was still hanging over the elections, Dems were on the offensive. They were winning. As Ezra Klein reminds us, Republicans were clearly caught in a bind. House GOPers like John Boehner and Dave Camp were actually saying they might vote with the Dems. That was a clear signal that Dems held the cards at the time. Yet they punted anyway. Now Republicans are in a stronger position: Dems have been "shellacked," Republicans are no longer facing an election, and the tight timing of the lame-duck session has given the GOP more leverage.

You could argue that the White House could have been more vocal about their desire for a pre-election vote or pushed Dem leaders harder to make it happen. But the White House was right to grant Congressional leaders the leeway to chart their own course. And at a certain point, it's tiresome to hear Dems blame the White House for their own lack of spine or leadership. Amid the roar of criticism of the White House, let's keep in mind that they aren't to blame for a key aspect of the Dems' current predicament.

AP may be just as bad at headline writing as say...I don't know...the Huffington Post.

Here's the AP Headline (posted via Talking Points Memo):

Obama knocks FIFA over 2022 World Cup decision

Wow.  The President went after FIFA.  He knocked them.  He must've said something really strong to garner that kind of headline.

So what did the President say?

"I think it was the wrong decision."

Uhhh...excuse me?

Was that it?

No, I didn't miss anything. That was the whole quote.

"I think it was the wrong decision."

That's a knock?

What did you expect the President of the United States to say? I'm thrilled that Qatar beat us out for our World cup Bid?

AP, rapidily joining Politico as the most full of @#$% News source out there.

Putting a thumb in the eye of Liberal Discontent, Part 3 (Hey, Liberals...SUCK IT UP!)

...and put your big-boy pants on. Again, from Jonathan Bernstein:

Barack Obama is not a king, and you are not a subject. You are a citizen. Act like it. American political parties are extremely permeable: get active. If things don't go your way, get more active. If you've been active, stay in the game. Expect disappointments -- you are one of 300 million, and many of them disagree with you.

Democracy, real democracy, is hard. I've said this before...democracy involves, as Bonnie Honig says, the "inescapability of conflict." Full citizenship, then, means accepting that you're never going to really get your way. You're never going to have the perfect politicians to support. You're never going to have party leaders who "really" represent you in the sense of always doing what you want. Full citizenship means continuing on, nevertheless, because you may be able to get somewhat less partial success if you keep working.

And don't kid yourself -- the other side doesn't get what they want, either. Liberals are frustrated now, and conservatives excited by the results of the recent elections -- but ask any conservative if they're happy about public policy over the last any number of years, and you'll find that George W. Bush wasn't really a conservative, and Trent Lott wasn't really a conservative, and Tom DeLay betrayed conservatives, and Newt Gingrich, and if they're old enough, Ronald Reagan.

It's a fundamental misunderstanding of democracy to believe that one can ever fully win, just as it's an illusion that the other side has ever fully achieved what it wants.

Yes, that's even more the case in a Madisonian system, but it's really fundamental to any kind of democracy. It's not a function of particular institutions. It's a consequence of, well, the human condition, of our fundamental plurality and differences, if I want to go and get all Arendtian on everyone.

So what do citizens do? They don't mope about whether the president they worked so hard to elect is who they hoped he'd be; they keep working. They make choices: they decide whether to put their efforts into House races, Senate contests, the next presidential election, pressure on marginal Members of Congress to vote the "right" way right now. Even knowing the next round will yield its share of disappointments and frustrations.

Citizens, that is, learn what they need to know, and then make choices and act. And win or lose, and then keep acting.

Putting a thumb in the eye of Liberal Discontent, Part 2 (Party disunity actually helps)

Believe it or not. This from Erza Klein:

It was the primary challenge that drove Arlen Specter from the Republican Party that was ultimately responsible for health-care reform. Without Specter's temporary membership in the Democratic Party, Reid wouldn't have had the 60 votes needed for passage. Similarly, Joe Lieberman, who Democrats let hang onto his seniority even after he endorsed the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, was also a crucial vote for the health-care bill, though he certainly extracted his pound of flesh along the way. To put it another way, party disunity is probably responsible for Democrats' most important achievement in generations.

Republicans suffered for their unity this year, too. If not for primaries in which the much more conservative, but much less electable, candidate took the nomination, Delaware, Colorado and Nevada would've flipped to the Republicans. That would've left the Senate with a 50-50 split -- and made it much likelier that, say, Ben Nelson or Joe Lieberman walked across the aisle to hand control to the Republicans.

Party disunity isn't very emotionally satisfying. Quite the opposite, really. But it often works.

Signs of Senate...spine?!?!

Do it, Harry! Do it!!!

Senate Democrats are planning to force a vote on the House's just-passed middle-income tax cut bill and a second package to let the Bush tax cuts expire above a new, $1 million tax bracket, according to a Democratic aide.

House Dems Pass Only Middle Class Tax Cut Bill

Way to go, Nancy.

Putting a thumb in the eye of Liberal Discontent, Part 1 (It's Conservadems fault)

First this from Jonathan Bernstein:

I'd only mention that whereas Drum puts the blame for liberal disappointment on the Democratic Party, not Obama, I'd push a bit harder on that. Suppose you're a liberal and live in, oh, Henry Waxman's district. Your Member of the House, both your Senators, and your president all did what you wanted; they couldn't do more not because of the Democratic Party per se, but because of Ben Nelson, and Evan Bayh, and Joe Lieberman, and a handful of others in the House and Senate.

Moreover, those Democrats didn't do what you wanted, in many cases, because they honestly disagreed with what you want. And, in many cases (not Connecticut, of course), that's because politicians with your views would be hard to elect in those places.

In other words, it's not the president's fault, or the party's fault, or the structure of the government's fault: it's the reality of living in a democracy with 300 million other people.

Still, I weep not for Blanche Lincoln, and I will weep not for Ben Nelson.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How much did Ben Nelson learn from Blanche Lincoln's @#$-kicking at the Polls?

Apparently, not much.

Remember when Blanche Lincoln tried to convince Arkansas Democrats that she had everything under control, that she was a better candidate than Bill Halter, and still got curb-stomped (electorally speaking) by 30 points?

It's about to happen to Ben Nelson.

There is no point to having Ben Nelson in our caucus. He will stab us in the back every chance he gets.

Robert Gates considers the Wikileaks "mess"...and yawns.

Your Secretary of Defense, whom I like more with each passing day:

Let me just offer some perspective as somebody who’s been at this a long time. Every other government in the world knows the United States government leaks like a sieve, and it has for a long time. And I dragged this up the other day when I was looking at some of these prospective releases. And this is a quote from John Adams: ‘How can a government go on, publishing all of their negotiations with foreign nations, I know not. To me, it appears as dangerous and pernicious as it is novel.’

Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.

So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another.

Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.

Gizmodo (of all places) is where I first heard about this story.

The Hills are alive with the sound of rumor and innuendo about the President caving on the Tax Cuts for the Rich...

Another one of my recurring problems with the Professional Left, remains how hair-trigger they are when it comes to rumors and gossip.

Right now the blogosphere is alive with notions that the President is dead set to cave on the Tax Cuts for the Rich.

Has he said anything about this? No.

Has he done anything in this direction? No.

Are we freaking out anyway? Yes, most definitely yes.

Okay. First off, chill.

Second, New Rule (thank you, Bill Maher) no more freaking out about what you think the President is going to do, you can only freak out about things the President has done.

Now, I don't want to make the New Rule hard and fast. If you hear something you don't like, I encourage people to call their Senators, call their Congressman, call Harry, call Nancy and call the White House. You should voice your displeasure at even the hint of what you don't like. You should do so politely, and then you know what you should do?

You should hang up, go about your day, and wait and see if your fears are grounded in any sort of fact.

Is it possible the President is caving on the Tax Cuts for the Rich? Sure, but do we know that yet? All we've heard is Republican Talking Points. Robert Gibbs didn't seem too concerned at his Press Briefing and reiterated that...basically...Congress plenty of time to do its job...all of it.

The best resolution to this Tax Standoff is this: Permanent Extension of the Tax Cuts for the Middle Class, and a tax hike on the rich to Clinton Era levels. (There's a lot of give in this definition).

Second best resolution, failing to get any of the above? Letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire. Period.

Okay, here's what I want you to watch in next couple of days.

1) Just because Senate Republicans are threatening to hold everything up, doesn't mean that House Democrats (still in the uber-majority until the new year) are going to play along. All indications are that at this point, they ain't.

And here's the trick: if House Democrats do nothing, absolutely nothing at all, just sit on their hands and refuse to do any voting: we get the second best resolution.

For the Republicans to get what they want, Tax Cuts for the Rich, we have to participate...actively, and while there may be willingness on the part of too many Democrats to do just that, I don't think there's any way to force the current Speaker of the House (that'd be Nancy) to hold a vote to help the Republicans out.

That means, while you're celebrating the end of the New Year in a couple weeks, the Bush Tax Cuts will be dying off.

2) So, the question for us Lefties is, in order for us to actively participate in renewing these Bush Tax Cuts, what do we get? Your satisfaction with that answer is going to greatly determine your satisfaction with the outcome.

I think the reason the Republicans mysteriously postponed their meeting with the President for two weeks was to push it as close to the deadline as possible, and force urgency into the discussion. They think we're scared of letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire, and lets be many Democrats are.

But not all of us.

So the question remains, what do we get?

The problem with taking hostages is that the Hostage taker turns into a hostage themselves.

If they want their precious tax cuts for the rich, then agreeing to DADT Repeal, the DREAM act, the START Treaty and Unemployment Benefits extension hostage, are the starting point for negotiations.

I want them all, but I'll settle for...well, all.

Another important thing, the Presidency cannot allow itself to be taken hostage. I sets a terrible precedent for getting rolled in the future. Now, I don't particularly need for the President to bust balls in public. (My leftward friends do, that's been a source of tension between us).

But at the end of the day, I need to see what the President has gotten in exchange for a Temporary Extension of the Tax Cuts for the Rich.

Show me that list, and I'll show you how happy I am.

But if there's no list, the President is going to have a major problem on his hands, and it won't be from Republicans. He told us during the Campaign that these Tax Cuts were dangerous. For him to turn around, extend them, and get nothing in exchange? Not only is it hard to believe, but its so extreme that it calls into question his ability to lead.

I don't think that's the case, so...wait for the list.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

By the way, INTERPOL has issued an arrest warrant for Julian Assange

Great piece from Kramer R. Phillips (via the Twitter).  Nothing to do with the leaks, but hey, an arrest warrant's an arrest warrant:

Interpol, the international police organization, has issued an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Mr. Assange was added to the international list of “wanted” list in relation to alleged sex crimes committed in Sweden.

He is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion, after an investigation by Swedish prosecurtors into his encounters with two women in Sweden in August.

Mr. Assange had denied any allegations, saying the allegations are motivated by politics. His website, Wikileaks, continues to leak documents related to foreign communications between the U.S. and its diplomatic partners.

Why do I get the feeling that Wikileaks isn't solely about demanding more transparency from (apparently from only the U.S.) Government, and an equal share about covering his ass in case Interpol came after him?

Following up on why it sucked to be Rey Decerega last Friday (VIDEO)

The following is the video from the President's Press Briefing on the meeting with Congressional Leadership that happened today. (Most of which we've already covered in this space).

This is the second appearance of the President's since Rey Decerega gave a hard foul to our Commander-in-Chief. His speech and pronunciation were top notch as always. You can barely tell he's got a scar.

But if you look, you can see a little bit of the scar.

And who saw this coming? (At least Chris Kofinis got hisself a job)

Longtime Countdown fans should know Chris Kofinis. He's on every once in while telling us the Political lay of the land. He's a committed Liberal, and pretty good on TV.

Well, say goodbye, because Chris is going to be busy for a while.

He got hisself a job. (Pulling that Unemployment rate down one person at a time, eh Congress?)

He's going to work...for Joe Machin??

West Virgina U.S. Senator Joe Manchin named Chris Kofinis as his chief of staff on Monday.

Mr. Kofinis, a former top aide to Wesley Clark and John Edwards’ presidential campaigns, also advised Manchin, D-W.Va., behind the scenes during this year’s Senate campaign.

“I am extremely pleased that Chris has agreed to lead my Senate team,” Mr. Manchin said in a statement Monday.

Really? That Joe Manchin?!??

Whatever floats your boat, Senator.

I hope Chris talks him out of becoming a younger version of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE...allegedly).

Tax Cuts Extended. START approved...and we have to depend on John McCain to do it?!?!?

Yeah, because he's trustworthy!

Democrats also are under pressure from Republicans to agree to a long-term resolution to continue funding the federal government into next year. Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, who attended the meeting, said of the tax-cut issue: "We've got a path forward." And he said of the treaty: "We have not ruled it out. We're trying to figure out how to work it into the schedule, after we deal with taxes and spending."

One key player in the treaty negotiations is Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has been the target of heavy White House lobbying in recent days, including from Vice President Biden, sources close to the discussions said. McCain didn't attend the White House meeting but told "Good Morning America" on Tuesday: "What I hope that we could do is agree to the extensions of tax cuts at all levels and also reach some agreement on moving forward with the START treaty as well. I think that is a serious result that could ensue from the meeting today."

Bad Tax Cuts AND Good National Security? This is what things COULD look like for the next two years.

Speculation from Greg Sargent. Then again, I trust his guesses better that most people's (Republicans/Teabaggers) so-called facts:

Is a deal taking shape where Republicans would get a temporary extension of all the Bush tax cuts in exchange for GOPers allowing a vote on the New START treaty?

Fingers crossed.

Okay Ft. McHenry crowd, how does this sit with you? Personally, I can live with this, especially is the key word is "temporary" when it comes to an extension of the Bush Tax Cuts.

But I would have loved to see the President roll into the room and say: "Look, until I see a year-long extension of Unmemployment benefits, your rich friends ain't seeing a single dime of tax cuts. Even when you take over the House, I'll veto every Tax cut until the Middle Class gets theirs! Pucker up, buttercup!"

Like I said, I would have loved to see that.

Andrew Sullivan would not:

I know many want Obama to become a liberal partisan firebrand to defeat the crazed Tea Party rhetoric. I reiterate my view that this would be a terrible mistake, and a massive over-reading of the mid-terms. Obama has to recapture those in the middle, especially Independents (like yours truly) who really do want to see a grown-up in Washington offer a serious plan for eliminating the long-term debt. If Obama can do that - and fight for it more aggressively and specifically than he did for health insurance reform - a slowly reviving economy, bolstered by more long-term confidence, will win him a landslide (and save the country's economic future too).

I agree with Sullivan that a play for the middle is vitally important to the President's re-elect chances. Then again, he's got an obsession with the debt that the rest of us on the Left don't have. (No Andrew, deficits do matter, but I'd rather we grow our way out of debt, and it take longer than your fast, quick, knife-in-senior's-and-poor-folks approach).

As important as those Independents are, it would be an equal, catastrophic mistake to completely ignore the President's base. We on the left feel like we haven't been listened to nearly enough. We lost out on the public option during the Health Reform fight. We lost out on adequate Stimulus. We didn't get Employee Free Choice Act. We're still waiting for DADT Repeal (though, that's starting to look good). We didn't get a Clean Energy Bill, and we didn't get Immigration Reform or the DREAM ACT.

That's not to say the 111th Congress was worthless. It wasn't. It did A LOT!: HCR, Stimulus (some better than none), Wall Street Reform, Lilly Ledbetter, and now apparently, Food Safety. As much as they got on our nerves, those guys and gals did historic amounts of good.

All I'm saying is that the left cannot be left completely in the cold these next two years. We need something, and it doesn't have to be legislative. Just deliver some pain to the right, and we'll be happy. The President shouldn't underestimate what a good, swift kick to the balls (Republican balls to be sure) can accomplish.

Breaking: A Judge in ole Virginny strikes down a court challenger to Health Care Reform!

I'll take what I can get!:

A federal judge in Virginia on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit challenging the landmark healthcare law championed by President Barack Obama, upholding key provisions that require health insurance coverage.

The challenge, one of several attempting to strike down the law, was brought by the conservative Christian Liberty University and individuals who said the law would violate several parts of the U.S. Constitution.

However, U.S. District Judge Norman Moon ruled that the law requiring individuals to buy health insurance coverage as well as requiring employers to buy coverage for their employees was legal under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Moon found that without the coverage requirements in the law, the cost of health insurance would increase because the number of insured individuals would decline, "precisely the harms that Congress sought to address with the Act's regulatory measures."

Further, interstate commerce would be hurt by large employers failing to offer adequate healthcare coverage, thus "the employer coverage provision is a lawful exercise of Congress' Commerce Clause power," said Moon, who was appointed by then-Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Julian Assange remains a clown - Part V. An unfortunately ongoing series.

My low opinion of Julian Assange remains.  He's a clown and an asshat.  He gets people killed, but he doesn't care, as long as he gets his fifteen minutes.

Apparently, he told TIME in a SKYPE interview:

"[Hillary Clinton] should resign, if it can be shown that she was responsible for ordering U.S. diplomatic figures to engage in espionage in the United Nations, in violation of the international covenants to which the U.S. has signed up. Yes, she should resign over that."

So let me get this straight.

Low-down, snake-oil, underhanded, borderline illegal behavior should get Hillary Clinton fired...

...but low-down, snake-oil, underhanded, borderline illegal behavior should result in Julian Assange being hailed as a hero.

The important choice before Senate Republicans on Don't Ask, Don't Tell...

This may have been covered to death, but Defense Secretary Robert Gates really nailed the Senate Republicans this morning when he discussed the Pentagon's Report on Don't Ask, Don't Tell:

"This can be done, and should be done, without posing a serious risk to military readiness."

"Now that we have completed this review, I strongly urge the Senate to pass this legislation and send it to the president for signature before the end of this year," Gates said. "I believe this is a matter of some urgency because, as we have seen this past year, the federal courts are increasingly becoming involved in this issue."

Greg Sargent:

The Congressional staffer summarized the conclusion this way: "The conclusion of the report is that the authors believe that with the prompt implementation of their recommendations, the risk of repeal for military effectiveness is low. The U.S. military can adjust and accomodate the change."


Bottom line: The military has spoken. And the pretexts for opposing repeal are running out.

Bottom line: Do it now, neatly Congress, or have the Courts do it for you, messy.

A rebuke to both to the left and the right when it comes to our preconceived notions...

Great catch from Andrew Sullivan reading from a guy named P.M. Carpenter:

Just as the modern right requires frequent reminders that prior to Europe's liberalism and America's New Dealism life was for many a living hell utterly without safety nets, the modern left needs reminding that not all national security measures are a "military-industrial" scam.

Bondad on why you can expect no problems to get solved on the Deficit and Taxes in the foreseeable future

Back from Turkey Day, and it's back to business:

From the Bondad:

The Republicans on the panel are generally opposed to raising taxes and the Democrats to big changes in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The above emboldened words illustrate the stupidity of Washington. Simply put there is no way to balance the budget without two things happening: taxes going up and some kind of compromise on health care spending. There is just no way for meaningful change to happen without both parties compromising on their key issues. So, expect the problem to continue.