Saturday, January 30, 2010

Why do People Vote Against their Own Interests?

From the BBC comes this interesting article. In a country that has given its people universal healthcare, the debate in the United States is puzzling, to say the least.
“One of the fallacies that politicians often have on the Left is that things are obvious, when they are not obvious. Obama's administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans' Depression, caused by the Bush administration's ideology of unregulated greed. The result is that now people blame him.”
Psychologist Drew Westen, author of The Political Brain

“You vote to strike a blow against elitism and you receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our life times, workers have been stripped of power, and CEOs are rewarded in a manner that is beyond imagining. It's like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy.”
Thomas Frank, author of What’s The Matter with Kansas

Friday, January 29, 2010


John Boehner caught unawares with the House Republican “Retreat” in Hawaii:
Hey man, haven’t you ever seen me with my hair down? I’m just chillin’ here in ObamaState with my peeps . . .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Passing of Note: J.D. Salinger Dies at 91

Seldom in the world of Literature has one with such a small body of work been so influential. It's a shame we couldn't have more of his voice to give meaning and perspective to a world he turned his back on for the past 50 years. Rest in peace, Mr. Salinger. I grew up loving your books.

SOTU Redux

First, KO’s best-ever comment:

Last night’s speech didn’t come close to this, but what speech could? This is, indeed, the Great Man’s template, a call to arms against those forces that threaten our democracy. Listening to FDR moves the soul and reminds us there are things worth fighting for. Thank you for this, Keith:

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President Obama had his moments last night. He could, and should have gone further, but his unprecedented scolding of the Supreme Court -- “With all due deference to separation of powers” -- was necessary (thanks for heeding the suggestion, Mr. President):

We see Justice Alito shaking his head and mouthing the word “no,” right wing Republican hack that he is, not an “impartial” Justice. This is simply the latest example of the other branch of government showing disrespect for the executive branch, in the person of President Obama. The first was Joe Wilson’s disrespect, speaking for the legislative branch. It seems the only thing that kept Alito from jumping to his feet, pointing a bony finger at the President, and screaming “YOU LIE!” was the hovering presence of our generally mild-mannered Senator Dick Durbin, clapping extra hard over the Justices’ heads, as if he was ready to smack down any black-robed hombre who tried the Wilson stunt.

Yeah, you actually do look like a “bump on a log,” Mr. Alito. (Former Chief Justice Rhenquist famously discouraged his crew showing up at the SOTU because they’d look like “bumps on a log.”)

The President lurched right while boxing in the Republicans and daring them to do something constructive instead of saying NO to everything. It played well in the hustings but the Republicans, as Harry Truman said, are not going to change their stripes. Not quite sure the President realizes this yet, which is worrisome. It’s fine to urge Congress to show leadership, but in the end, it’s the President who must lead.

Tactically, though, the President called their bluff and dared them to respond to the populist anger against Wall Street. The Republicans, who are in bed with the bankers, quite simply will not. At the same time, Mr. Obama mocked Democrats for having the largest majority in decades, with which people expect them to solve problems, not “run for the hills” -- another theme echoed in this blog. He held his ground on healthcare, trying to inject some backbone into the Democratic Party, telling them in effect to get it done. Obviously, the House needs to pass the Senate bill and fix it in reconciliation. (The President lavished praise on the House showing open admiration for Speaker Pelosi. And why not? Nancy Pelosi got his agenda passed in the House while the do-nothing Senate was seriously dysfunctional.)

Yet President Obama keeps throwing Republicans more red meat. It’s not going to work. Little was said by talking heads about the President's unsettling swing to the right on energy policy: a radical turnaround embracing new nuclear power plants, offshore drilling, and so-called "clean coal" as a trade-off to compel recalcitrant Republicans to support climate change legislation. Likewise, the spending freeze is a largely symbolic gimmick that is bad policy but good politics in terms of neutralizing a raise in the debt limit and Republican assaults on Social Security and Medicare.

Ultimately, President Obama was his most confusing counterintuitive self: partisan/nonpartisan; spending/freeze; jobs/teenie tiny $30 billion in 2010, NADA in 2011; healthcare/let's get it done with Republicans (?) -- best to wait till Hell freezes over. Everything so positively Clintonian triangulation. Clinton is the template. Nothing close to “I welcome their hatred,” unfortunately.

But that president had the American people -- and kept them -- with him from the start.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Iceman Cometh

President Obama swept into office as the second coming of FDR. One year into his term Mr. Obama is acting more like FDR’s predecessor, Herbert Hoover, whose spending freeze at the height of a depression only deepened and intensified it. Now on the eve of the State of the Union speech, President Obama has done an about-face and embraced the self-same discretionary budget freeze proposed by his defeated opponent John McCain. The criticism of the President’s capitulation to the very policies that brought us to this point as a “gimmick” and a “stunt” is withering. Progressives are beyond furious; we’re appalled.

Pimp this, Mr. Veritas

The right wing punk, James O’Keefe, who gained notoriety in wingnut circles for posing as a pimp to smear ACORN may end up pimping for something or someone else in a federal prison. O’Keefe was arrested by the FBI for illegally entering the offices of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu posing as a telephone repairman and attempting to bug the Senator’s office phones. O’Keefe and his accomplices are facing 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for entering federal property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony.

From pimp poseur to prison bitch, from Fox News Hannity to MSNBC’s Lockup Raw, from A-hole to ACORN, such is the flameout odyssey of a G. Gordon Liddy Watergate burglar wannabe. I love it when a plan comes together: Poetic justice and then some. After posting bail O’Keefe said “Veritas” (truth in Latin), adding “the truth shall set me free.” Um, what’s the frequency, James . . . or maybe it was all a big misunderstanding?

Latest Capitol Hill rumor: A House Resolution introduced by Rep. Pete Olson of Texas, with 23 cosponsors, honoring “the fact-finding reporting” done by James O’Keefe III, is being hastily amended:

Whereas James O’Keefe III is “owed a debt of gratitude by the people of the United States: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) honors James O’Keefe III . . . ;

(2) commends James O’Keefe III for bringing to light . . .; and

(3) respectfully requests the Clerk of the House to transmit an enrolled copy of this resolution to . . . James O’Keefe III [.] Insert Amended language here [: AT FEDERAL PENITENTIARY – ADDRESS TBD.]”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Responding to Pressure from Progressives IMF Vows to Cancel Haiti Debt

“The most important thing is that the IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan. If we succeed—and I'm sure we will succeed—even this loan will turn out to be finally a grant, because all the debt will have been deleted. And that's the very important thing for Haiti now.”
Geez, I must have missed this side of the story on all those sites bashing the U.S. “military occupation” of Haiti. I guess they’re parsimonious about quoting Naomi Klein on her doctrine of disaster capitalism when it doesn’t fit their ideology. So we’re left with half a story. It’s the old slice-and-dice that Fox does so well.
I actually saw this on the Rachel Maddow show. She said it’s “huge” for Haitian relief and reconstruction. I think so too. So does Naomi Klein, who has been a guest on Rachel’s show several times. I e-mailed Rachel about a week ago that she should cover what Naomi’s been writing on Haiti because it’s important; and she did. Rachel also read Naomi’s reply:
“In response to the wave of criticism, the IMF has just issued a statement saying that they will try to turn the $100-million loan to Haiti into a grant. This is unprecedented in my experience and shows that public pressure in moments of disaster can seriously subvert shock doctrine tactics. They are also now saying that they will not put conditions on the emergency loan—another popular victory, since this is not what they were saying last week. Of course people have to keep up the pressure to make sure Haiti's debts really are cancelled as the IMF is now predicting they will be. Something to hold them to!
Quick, pass the smelling salts, lest the leftie bashers feel faint! Naomi’s piece, titled “A Small Victory for Shock Resistance,” didn’t surprise me, nor did Rachel’s positive report. Honest reporting from good progressives who are not ideologues. Withholding information is never, ever what we should be about. What’s the buzzword du jour? Reboot, recalibrate? Here is, in Naomi’s word, Rachel’s “terrific” report:

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