Many of the grievances are petty, though some are serious and substantive (involving lack of transparency and media manipulation), but the passage that I found most revealing is this one:
Much of the criticism is off the record, both out of fear of retaliation and from worry about appearing whiny. But those views were voiced by a cross section of the television, newspaper and magazine journalists who cover the White House.
Just think about that for a minute. National political reporters are furious over various White House practices involving transparency and information control, but are unwilling to say so for attribution due to fear of “retaliation,” instead insisting on hiding behind a wall of anonymity (which Politico, needless to say, happily provides). Isn’t that a rather serious problem: that the White House press corps is afraid to criticize the President and the White House for fear of losing access and suffering other forms of retribution? What does that say about their “journalism”? It’s the flip side of those White House reporters who need the good graces of Obama aides for their behind-the-scenes books and thus desperately do their bidding: what kind of reporter covering the White House would possibly admit that they’re afraid to say anything with their names attached that might anger the President and his aides? How could you possibly be a minimally credible White House reporter if you have that fear? Doesn’t that unwillingness rather obviously render their reporting worthless?
Gee, it almost calls into question the quality of the reporting about the Bush administration too.
I also found it quite remarkable that a story about vindictive “aides” blistering reporters with profanity-laced tirades doesn’t mention Rahm Emanuel by name, and only alludes to him once, when it claims that Obama’s chief of staff is easier to reach than his press secretary (which, quite frankly, doesn’t seem all that surprising).
Man, the Republicans really want to make sure that no Latino ever votes for them again until the end of time, don’t they? They pass the racial-profiling/show-me-your-papers law in Arizona, and they’re trying to pass it in Texas and Missouri, so it’s not like the GOP can claim that AZ is just one bad apple. And then you’ve got this winner who wants all driving tests to be in English only, and Lindsey Graham throwing a tantrum and threatening to sabotage a bill with his own name on it if the Senate considers immigration reform.
Considering how large and fast-growing segment of the population Latinos are, this seems like a recipe for electoral suicide, unless the GOP has a plan to keep Latinos from voting. Oh. Right. Nevermind.
Of all the devious tricks practiced by the financial industry—hidden fees, usurious interest rates, and incomprehensible contracts that take advantage of consumers—the campaign strategy for 2010 has to rank right up there.
As the banks begin pouring cash into Congressional elections, they are targeting members of Congress who support consumer protections that could cut into their bottom line.
But here is the kicker: Opponents of financial reform are tarring members of Congress who want to regulate the banks as tools of Wall Street. This Orwellian tactic is designed to confuse voters. In effect, the banks are running against themselves. Look for lots of ads that tie reform legislation to “bailouts,” “fat cats,” “Wall Street,” and “lobbyists.”
As dishonest messaging goes, describing tougher financial regulation as a Wall Street “bailout” is quite an impressive achievement in pretzel logic, mostly predicated on deliberately confusing wind-down funds and spending caps with bailouts. It should be easy enough to counter, but messaging pushback has never exactly been the Democrats’ strong suit…
Healthcare reform with the public option, that is. But no, losing votes on that would have been a crippling defeat!
In the last two days, the White House has lost two straight votes in the Senate that would have moved the massive overhaul of the financial system along. The White House is likely to lose a third Wednesday as a unified Republican Party uses procedural rules to block the bill from being debated.
But don’t feel bad for the West Wing. Obama aides are practically giddy about the turn of events.
Not that they don’t want the bill to succeed. They do –and soon. Passing Wall Street reform will help clear the decks for a packed agenda that includes confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee, energy legislation and maybe even consideration of immigration changes.
But senior White House officials tell the Briefing that they are “surprised” — pleasantly so — at the GOP decision to block consideration of the legislation.
Ahead of the first vote on Monday evening, the assumption inside the White House was that Republicans would back down and allow the debate to begin, said one top Obama adviser, who asked for anonymity to discuss White House strategy. The fact that they didn’t plays “right into their narrative,” the adviser said.
He called it a “proof point” for the American people as they try to assess which party wants to stick it to Wall Street and which party is trying to protect the banks and institutions from new and onerous regulations if the legislation passes.
I have been saying that Democrats need to force votes that make the Republicans show their true colors and then make them own those votes for almost four years now. Simply compromising bills on economic stimulus, carbon emissions, and healthcare reform into toothless pro-corporate potemkin bills before the first vote makes the Democrats look like corrupt tools and the Republicans look like principled heroes. The Democrats need to force the Republicans to vote against good bills, not bad ones.
(Of course, this assumes that Obama and the Democrats compromise everything away because they’re weak and foolish, and not because they actually are corrupt tools, which is a shaky proposition at best.)
The first rule of Woodland Fight Club is… do not talk about Woodland Fight Club.
While patrolling the western boundary of Yosemite National Park, ranger Jack Bailey heard animal screeches echoing throughout the densely packed fir trees.
“The only times I hear woodland creatures make those kinds of sounds is when they’re in jeopardy, pinned by a tree or wounded in a fall,” said Bailey. “I went to investigate, prepared for the worst.”
However, Bailey couldn’t have been more surprised by what he saw in the small clearing.
“Twenty or so animals had formed a circle about ten feet in diameter,” he explained. “The ring consisted of chipmunks, beavers, raccoons, groundhogs and even skunks. They were all facing the center of the circle, where two squirrels were beating the heck out of each other.
“Those rodents were out for blood.”
“It was like one of those Ultimate Fighting Championship matches, but with little brutes instead of big ones,” Bailey recalled. “Within minutes, one squirrel was pinned to the ground. He tapped his tail frantically on the hard sod, ending the bout. As the winner strode from the circle and the loser was pulled out by his two tiny legs, a pair of rabbits hopped into the ring and waited for the signal.
“….[T]he rabbits began thumping each other with their massive feet. It wasn’t long before their white fur was flecked with red from wounds inflicted by nails and teeth. The more badly injured of the two vomited and the smell of carrot filled the air. It was awful.”
Weekly World News asked zoologist Dr. Mark Path why these animals might have formed this fight club.
“I suspect they’re training themselves to fight more dangerous predators,” he said. Residential and commercial development has caused natural habitats to shrink. As a result, there’s been an increase in the number of coyotes and foxes entering the park. These little creatures may have finally gotten fed up being fed on.”
Believing that they posed no threat to humans, Bailey decided not to interfere with the miniature pit fighting.
“Although it’s uncharacteristic behavior, I have no right to interfere with the development of these animals,” Bailey said. “However, I am considering selling tickets. There’s a doe that just might be the next Ashley.”
Hopefully the next stage will be martial arts. Kung fu squirrels and ninja skunks would be pretty damned awesome.
“I thank God that I’m out of here in December… I have failed the American people.”
I also agree with Dick Cheney’s statement that telling Pat Leahy to go fuck himself was “sort of the best thing I ever did.” Because when you think about all of his many accomplishments… he’s absolutely right.
Predictably, the industry is opposed to the mandates for greater transparency. As Reuters reported, “Exchange trading has nothing to do with reducing credit risk,” said Conrad Voldstad, chief executive officer of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. “In fact, mandating that all swaps be exchange-traded will increase costs and risks for the manufacturers, technology firms, retailers, energy producers, utilities, service companies and others who use over-the-counter derivatives.”
My general rule of thumb is that we should generally ignore what Wall Street has to say about financial regulation. Investment banks lack the common sense to know what’s good for them. The financial sector opposed all the regulations that were good for it in the 1930s—i.e. the advent of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. And the regulatory changes it requested and received in the past decade—eroding Glass-Steagall, getting the SEC to permit investment banks to increase their use of leverage—set the stage for the debacle of 2008.
For the past several decades, Wall Street has continually told Washington that if the Street can’t do things the way it always has, and if the government changes the rules to mandate greater transparency and customer protection, that the geniuses in Lower Manhattan won’t be able to make money, and it would stunt the industry. They’ve been wrong every time.
They’re like little kids who want to gorge themselves on candy and soda pop, never remembering that that always gives them a massive tummyache which makes them and everyone around them miserable.
Of course, in this case they get a very expensive magic pill to make the tummyache go away, but everyone else stays miserable…
There were 15 million first-time voters in 2008, or “surge” voters. The demographic study shows that they are predominantly young, minority, and/or new Americans. The goal is to increase their turnout by 8-12% over what you would normally expect in the off year.
Here’s what I did not hear: I did not hear whether or not these first time 2008 voters had been polled to see if they still love us (I use the royal “us” to denote some combination of Dems/Obama). During the campaign, expectations were raise extremely high, that it is impossible for me to believe that there has not been some let down, some buyer’s remorse.
Might they be mad at us because there is no single payer? Because EFCA is DOA? Because DADT was not repealed the first week of the new administration? Because everybody didn’t get a real live unicorn for Christmas? I think before I ran out to target one group that does not have a long track record of voting my way, I would want to just double-check that they were still on my side. On the other hand, I am a lawyer and therefore cautious by nature. YMMV.
Yeah, somehow I don’t see the “energize the people you disappointed” strategy as being a huge winner. What’s the motivation to send any of these Democrats back to Congress if they’re not going to do anything worthwhile?
Imagine that you want to make a bet against a sports team, say the New York Yankees. The Yankees have had a strong run, but, poring over the data, you have come to the conclusion that they’re going to start losing. So you go to a bookmaker (in a district where bookmaking is legal, of course) to place a bet. The bookmaker now looks for someone to take the other side of this bet. Once the other party is found, the deal is made. That, in essence, is the transaction that took place in 2007 regarding the future direction of the American residential-housing market, in which Goldman Sachs acted as the bookie, and which the Securities and Exchange Commission now charges was “fraud.”
Sure, absolutely. It was exactly like two guys placing a bet on Yankees… where the guy betting against them got to hand-pick their roster and fill it with stiffs. Nothing dodgy about that, nosiree!
The effort to enact comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year suffered a critical blow Saturday when Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), the key Republican proponent of the bill, withdrew his support because of what he said was a “cynical political” decision by Democrats to advance immigration legislation first.
The move forced the other two authors of the climate and energy bill, Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), to cancel a much-anticipated news conference planned for Monday at which they were to unveil the plan they negotiated with Graham.
Graham, who spent weeks working with Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on an immigration measure that will appeal to both parties, wrote in an open letter Saturday to leaders of the climate effort, “Moving forward on immigration — in this hurried, panicked manner — is nothing more than a cynical political ploy.”
I guess not everyone can be as noble and idealistic as the guy who co-authored an environmental bill that he doesn’t believe in.
So if the SEC wasn’t doing anything to rein in Wall Street while it was sowing the seeds of our economy’s destruction, what were they doing?
The country’s top financial watchdogs turned out to be horndogs who spent hours gawking at porn Web sites as the economy teetered on the brink, according to a memo released Thursday night.
The shocking findings include Securities and Exchange Commission senior staffers using government computers to browse for booty and an accountant who tried to access the raunchy sites 16,000 times in one month.
Their titillating pastime was discovered during 33 probes of employees looking at explicit images in the past five years, said the memo obtained by The Associated Press.
It says 31 of those probes occurred in the 2-1/2 years since the country’s financial system nearly crashed.
Hey, masturbating furiously is a perfectly natural response to a crisis. Or so I’ve heard.
I have zero sympathy for them, but I think it’s hilarious that the Stupocrats are being targeted by pro-life organizations after doing more to limit women’s choice than any of those organizations ever have.
The two Republican senators afterward issued a statement promising to “treat the president’s nominee fairly” but warning against “a rush to judgment.” They set down markers for how they expect to debate the nomination once it is made.
“Judges must apply the Constitution and laws even-handedly,” they said. “They should not enter the courtroom with preconceived outcomes in mind, or work to arrive at the preferred result of any president or political party. A Supreme Court justice must not be a rubber stamp or policy arm for any administration.”
HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! They must have their irony gland surgically removed or something.
Oh noes, Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives bill is being watered down by her fellow Democrats!
I kind of suspect that this was the kabuki plan all along – let Blanche posture and grandstand as some kind of anti-Wall Street crusader to fend off Halter’s primary challenge, but make sure her bill gets watered down substantially by other Senators before it actually comes up for a vote so her generous Wall Street donors don’t get pissed off.
Otherwise I think Blanche would be in the awkward position of having to vote against her own bill…
“Cows put up with a lot of discomfort to give us milk,” said fifty-year-old dairy farmer Bill Fuller. “The growth hormones, the uncomfortable living conditions, the constant tugging. I’ve never approved of that, which is why I developed a method of milking that not only eases the cows’ burden but yields a superior product.”
For the past two months, Fuller and his wife, Kelly, have been teaching their cows to meditate.
At five o’clock each morning, the Fullers go to their pasture and instruct their bovines on the intricacies of Hatha yoga.
“We teach them proper breathing, relaxed body positioning, and how to clear their minds,” said Fuller. “That last one is pretty easy since cows don’t have much to think about. We took them off hormones and allowed them to roam the ranch freely all day, rather than stay cooped up in a barn. After one month they were yielding twice as much milk and it was the creamiest I’d ever tasted.”
As the fame of Fuller’s farm grew, people from all over the state visited to watch the meditating cows.
“I explained that there’s not much to see,” said Fuller. “A meditating cow is hard to distinguish from a regular one. They all look pretty vacant, most of the time. It’s all in the breathing.”
Fuller has already started developing his own brand of dairy products to distinguish them from the rest.
“I don’t want our dairy to get lost in the mix,” said Fuller. “Our first product should be in grocery stores in the next month. I think people are going to be thrilled with the taste of our ‘yogart.'”
The White House seems confident that because Democrats allowed votes on President George W. Bush’s nominees, the 41 Senate Republicans won’t stand in the way with the highly unusual judicial filibuster this year.
After the joy of a wedding and the adoption of a baby came arguments that couldn’t be resolved, leading Angelique Naylor to file for divorce. That left her fighting both the woman she married in Massachusetts and the state of Texas, which says a union granted in a state where same-sex marriage is legal can’t be dissolved with a divorce in a state where it’s not.
A judge in Austin granted the divorce, but Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is appealing the decision. He also is appealing a divorce granted to a gay couple in Dallas, saying protecting the “traditional definition of marriage” means doing the same for divorce.
Bad enough that gays have been allowed to undermine the sanctity of traditional marriage, but now they want to undermine the sanctity of traditional divorce too? This must not stand, man!
The right-wing hysteria over Obama coming to take their guns away reminds me an awful lot of their hysteria over Obama reviving the Fairness Doctrine to take their Rush Limbaughs away. Not only has Obama not taken any action in that direction, he hasn’t even talked about taking any action in that direction.
Surely the right can find enough to criticize in what Obama has actually done or talked about doing?
If I had to guess at the turning point at which Glenn Beck began to have serious doubts about war and out-of-control military spending, I would bet that it was the inauguration of Barack Obama. And as soon as we get a Republican warmonger back in the White House, I expect he will suddenly be okay with it again.
3 commentsApril 20th, 2010 at 11:22amPosted by Eli
Michele Bachmann has managed to lower the bar for martyrdom under the floor:
Representative Bachmann called our democratically elected president and mostly representative congress a “gangster government,” conjuring images of a violent coup. (It’s part of the fringe Conservative obsession with “thugs” and “thuggish behavior” and Obama’s “thugocracy”—nothing racially charged about that language!)
And that led to this fairly mild quote from former president Clinton:
“They are not gangsters,” Mr. Clinton said. “They were elected. They are not doing anything they were not elected to do.”
And here’s Bachmann’s response:
“I’m in my second term as a Congresswoman and the former president of the United States decides I’m important enough to take me out!”
Um. I checked out the NYT story to see if there was a “I pledge myself to kill Michele Bachmann and feast upon her entrails, and I encourage everyone reading this to do the same” quote that was being overlooked, but the best I could come up with was this:
In advance of a symposium on Friday about the attack on the Oklahoma City federal building and its current relevance, Mr. Clinton, who was in his first term at the time of the bombing, warned that attempts to incite opposition by demonizing the government can provoke responses beyond what political figures intend.
“There can be real consequences when what you say animates people who do things you would never do,” Mr. Clinton said in an interview, saying that Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the Oklahoma City bombing, and those who assisted him, “were profoundly alienated, disconnected people who bought into this militant antigovernment line.”
“Because of the Internet, there is this vast echo chamber and our advocacy reaches into corners that never would have been possible before,” said Mr. Clinton, who said political messages are now able to reach those who are both “serious and seriously disturbed.”….
Mr. Clinton pointed to remarks like those made Thursday by Representative Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican, who when speaking at a Tea Party rally in Washington characterized the Obama administration and Democratic Congress as “the gangster government.”
[Tea Partier] Paul Butterfield, 48, an engineer from Ontario, N.Y., said: “We’ve achieved equal rights for blacks, equal rights for women, equal rights for gays. But creating a welfare state is a step backward.”
We have? That’s so awesome!
Minorities and women may have perhaps attained something close to equal rights… but only on paper, not in the real world. And gays haven’t even come close to paper equality yet, much less the real thing.
I’m not sure this is necessarily an indication of timidity (although in the Obama administration I would never rule that out); it might simply be that a follow-up doesn’t really add anything we don’t already know.
Despite a recent upsurge in threats and violence by far-right groups and loners, the Homeland Security Department appears gun-shy about reporting or monitoring the trend too closely. Domestic security and counterterrorism officials say that even though, in light of recent events, a controversial report issued a year ago by Homeland Security about a “resurgence” in far-right radicalization and recruitment appears well informed, if not prescient, the Department has done nothing to re-issue the report or update it.
When its report titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” first leaked to the media last year, the Homeland Security Department was slammed by conservative activists and pundits for even daring to address the issue. Blogger Michelle Malkin called the report a “hit job on conservatives,” alleging it was “one of the most embarrassingly shoddy pieces of propaganda I’d ever read out of DHS. I couldn’t believe it was real.” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted, “The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired,” and the issue became major fodder for Fox News hosts.
While not formally withdrawing the report, Napolitano and other senior Homeland Security officials apologized for it, saying it was poorly written and not properly reviewed before it was issued. But as we reported here last year, Napolitano also indicated that the report would be “replaced or redone in a much more useful and much more precise fashion.”
Napolitano has not followed through on that, however, even though recent news events—including the crashing of a plane into an IRS office in Texas by a tax protestor, a torrent of threats against cCongressional leaders, and the takedown of the bizarre but well-connected Hutaree militia (whose membership, as we noted here, included former U.S. military personnel)—have substantially vindicated Homeland Security’s judgments of last year. Asked why the department hasn’t updated the report or produced a fresh take on evidence about potentially threatening far-right activity, Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith told Declassified: “The recent arrests and incidents have provided local law enforcement on the front lines more than enough reminder to be vigilant to the threats from violent extremism.”
What’s to update? The far-right fringe is still full of crazy, potentially violent extremists.
Why on earth would anyone outside the wingnut welfare state hire a disgraced right-wing asshat like Ben Domenech?
The White House ripped CBS News on Thursday for publishing an online column by a blogger who made assertions about the sexual orientation of Solicitor General Elena Kagan, widely viewed as a leading candidate for the Supreme Court.
Ben Domenech, a former Bush administration aide and Republican Senate staffer, wrote that President Obama would “please” much of his base by picking the “first openly gay justice.” An administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing personal matters, said Kagan is not a lesbian.
CBS initially refused to pull the posting, prompting Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director who is working with the administration on the high court vacancy, to say: “The fact that they’ve chosen to become enablers of people posting lies on their site tells us where the journalistic standards of CBS are in 2010.” She said the network was giving a platform to a blogger “with a history of plagiarism” who was “applying old stereotypes to single women with successful careers.”
The network deleted the posting Thursday night after Domenech said he was merely repeating a rumor.
So… Kagan is rumored to be openly gay?
3 commentsApril 16th, 2010 at 11:37amPosted by Eli
BT helpfully walks us through Michelle Malkin’s brilliant and insightful guide on how to spot liberals masquerading as teabaggers. In short, anyone who is embarrassingly stupid and extreme must be a plant. That sure is an awful lot of ringers…
Oh, and thank you so much, Jason Levin, for giving this ridiculously lame excuse credibility. Like the teabaggers even need your help to look crazy.
Man, that whole Tea Party narrative is just looking more and more threadbare. The “spontaneous outpouring of patriotic concern by ordinary citizens who are totally not funded by corporations or GOP operatives in any way, nope” myth got blown up almost immediately, and now it looks like the “working-class heartland Americans who are worried about their finances and sick of the government always choosing corporations and rich people over the little guy” story is on pretty shaky ground too:
Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Tea Party supporters’ fierce animosity toward Washington, and the president in particular, is rooted in deep pessimism about the direction of the country and the conviction that the policies of the Obama administration are disproportionately directed at helping the poor rather than the middle class or the rich.
The overwhelming majority of supporters say Mr. Obama does not share the values most Americans live by and that he does not understand the problems of people like themselves. More than half say the policies of the administration favor the poor, and 25 percent think that the administration favors blacks over whites — compared with 11 percent of the general public.
They are more likely than the general public, and Republicans, to say that too much has been made of the problems facing black people.
So instead of being blue collar just-folks frightened by unemployment and uncertainty, and outraged by the inequity of the government bailing out fatcats while the poor struggle, it turns out that the teabaggers are moderately-stocky cats who are outraged by the government’s feeble and inadequate attempts to help the poor out. Especially when the poor are those people.
Those of us on the left (myself included) who thought there was some slim chance of making common cause with them against a shared corporate enemy, well, we were completely wrong. The teabaggers are just the latest media-darling flavor-of-the-month iteration of the archetypal I-got-mine-fuck-you conservative. They’re populist only if your idea of populist is a bunch of upper-middle-class people who want to cut off the poor, and the only common ground we have with them is our dislike of Harry Reid and Blanche Lincoln.
We were right about them being mostly racist old white guys, though.