In an opinion piece yesterday for, who else, the Washington Post, Bob Woodward managed to come off as manipulative, petty and totally off the mark.
Titled “Obama’s sequester deal-changer” he rambles on about just who was responsible for the sequester thingamajig anyway:
Misunderstanding, misstatements and all the classic contortions of partisan message management surround the sequester, the term for the $85 billion in ugly and largely irrational federal spending cuts set by law to begin Friday.
What is the non-budget wonk to make of this? Who is responsible? What really happened?
And then goes on to pat himself on the back for his remarkable reporting that shows that Obama’s team originally proposed the idea. To which the only reasonable response is “who cares anyway?” Congress passed it. Everyone was responsible for it. What our intrepid analytic reporter completely glosses over is why the idea of a sequester was proposed in the first place. To hear Woodward tell it, it was just some mean trick that Obama wanted to play on an unwitting American public. Here is his sole reference to the situation in the second to the last paragraph of a piece taking up two pages:
In fact, the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.
I just am not up to putting together a critique of Obama’s pretty darn good SOTU speech, which addressed climate change, gun control, and raising the minimum wage—all things quite timely and appropriate; nor am I concerned with poor Senator Marco Rubio’s long day, which started with voting against VAWA and ended with a speech where he complained that the President (who mentioned lowering the deficit, like a million times) was trying to create bigger government and boo-hoo’d over the notion that any Democratic president might ascribe motives to the GOP based on the logical outcomes of their policies as opposed to assuming in good faith that they believed their talking points. I just want to focus on what everyone will focus on, and are already all about on the Twitter engines:the Big Sip.
It’s a thing of so much awkwardness, and the water bottle is so tiny. He moves in for it like maybe, if he moves fast enough, we won’t even notice he had a case of cottonmouth and naturally, took a drink during a speech (LIKE PEOPLE DO!). (JUST NOT SO AWKWARDLY!)
Anyone want to share their impressions? Open thread.
I think it’s a sad day in journamalism when the question of whether President Obama really, really, for really truly and honest-to-gosh “goes skeet-shooting all the time” at Camp David is seriously fact-checked. And yet I think it’s a hilarious day when Breitbart’s very own John Nolte questions why no one is questioning the fact checkers. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, dig? Woodward and Bernstein once brought down a president with Watergate—but today’s lapdog press is blindly accepting photographic evidence debunking Skeetgate that was made in the very same seat of the powerful that brought us such sheer propaganda as….
Today, however, the White House released a photo that purports to show Obama (love that tucked-in shirt) shooting skeet last August. Except… he’s shooting straight ahead, which means that there’s either a barn door somewhere in need of some patching, or Obama is such an awesome skeet shooter, he hits them as they come out of the firing device.
I keed, I keed. There are legitimate reasons that would explain the angle of his gun, but….
(I humbly submit that since there is smoke coming out the barrel, he has already shot and lowered the rifle, probably because it makes sense in the linear stream of things. And I’ve watched many episodes of CSI. CSI: New York and Miami, too!) And of course, the press is only doing it to make the skeet-truthers look stupid! Because…um. Right.
Can anyone remind me again why this is supposed to matter?
So, yes, some kook in Idaho has actually compared insurance companies to victims of the holocaust because Nobama is going to load them all on that train, send them to the concentration camps and “establish a socialistic health care system”. And something, something about how the companies are being forced to dig their own graves because the “private insurers are used by the feds to put the system in place because the federal government has no way to set up the exchange”.
Beyond the fact that I have a hard time actually boo-hooing about health insurance companies who are madly gouging their customers to boost their bottom lines higher every year, the fedz do have a way to establish that sochulistic health care system. It’s called Medicare. If Congress had actually wanted Obamacare to become the “Crown Jewel of Socialism”, in the words of the Girl with the Faraway Eyes (h/t Charlie Pierce), they could have expanded Medicare. It was even in one of the original proposals to allow the 55 to 64 year old crowd to buy into Medicare but even that was too much socialamism for a Congress that was, at the time, controlled in both houses by Dems.
So I’m guessing the insurance companies will not be loaded wholesale onto those trains after all. More’s the pity.
10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
I know, I know that’s turtledove . . . but this works for me. Because the Turtle bellowing almost non-stop, these days, is the gentleman from Kentucky, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Never, Never Land). And, frankly, his bellowing is music to my ears because it signifies that something wonderful this way comes . . .
I’m willing to tolerate McConnell’s recent tantrums because . . . schadenfreude! Mitch has had a remarkably awful time of it for the last four or five years—watching the first black man preside in the Oval Office and proceeding to Mitch’s Personal Worst—failing to render Obama a one-term president as he had vowed. Because Mitch actually has an awful lot less clout than he thinks he does . . .
“Every four years on Inauguration Day, America shows the world that our major political parties can disagree with civility and mutual respect. It is in this spirit that I congratulate President Obama on his inauguration to a second term and wish him well in the fulfillment of his duty to lead the U.S. at home and abroad over the next four years. The President’s second term represents a fresh start when it comes to dealing with the great challenges of our day; particularly, the transcendent challenge of unsustainable federal spending and debt. Republicans are eager to work with the President on achieving this common goal, and we firmly believe that divided government provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Together, there is much we can achieve.”
Christ, what an asshole... it wasn’t too long ago that McConnell admitted that his number one priority was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Having failed in that, he now wants to call a mulligan and have President Obama pretend that the shabby treatment he received from the Republican congresscreeps for the past four years never happened. For a party that seems to idolize the past, the GOP sure loves to shove things down the memory hole. Forget the elephant logo, the Republican emblem should be a goldfish.*
*The pedant in me has to note that the whole three-second memory stereotype is untrue, but I figured the joke is in keeping with popular perception so I ran with it… and promptly ran over it with my “explaining voice”.
The biggest takeaways that I got were a, frankly, thrilling endorsement of a progressive agenda including embracing of entitlements that we have all paid for (we are NOT a nation of takers - FU Granny Starver Ryan), action on climate change, gun control/safety (whatever you want to call it), rebuilding of our infrastructure, smackdown on the Rethugs attempts at voter suppression, embracing of immigrants, civil rights for teh gays and much, much more.
What did you guys think? Am I naive, optimistic or is B. Hussein Obamz finally going to kick some ass for progressive causes? After all, he has nothing to lose now - why not go for it?!
And it’s just a little amuse-bouche that RMoney was so butthurt over losing that he did a big no-show.
Last night, on the drive to work, I heard an interview on PBS Newshour with Richard Blanco, the poet chosen to read a poem at the second inauguration of the Kenyan Usurper. While I have no animosity toward Mister (or should I say Señor?) Blanco, I’m a little miffed that I wasn’t chosen as the inaugural poet. I mean, I totally wasted about five minutes writing my inaugural poem:
A second term!
The wingnuts squirm,
And each cries for his momma.
Is still a gent
Named Barry H. Obama.
If we didn’t all have way too much skin in the game, the post-election Republican melt-down might be quite entertaining. Imagine you’re a European with an unhealthy preoccupation with American politics (I know. Seriously?) But just pretend you are.
Hard-right Republicans can be as unhinged, absurd and/or Ick!-worthy as possible and you don’t have to live with the consequences—it’s a post-modern laugh-riot, amirite?
Rep. Lynn Martin (R-IL 1981-1991) is supposed to have said that “the House of Representatives is like a pre-school class that missed nap-time.” The mothers among us know just how apt that statement is. And, I’d venture a guess that the House, during her tenure, was a lot saner than today’s.
Before I get started discussing President Obama’s announcement regarding action on gun control, I want to address this cowardly and pernicious little ad the NRA folks thought was actually acceptable discourse:
Did you catch that? “Are the president’s children more important than yours?” Hm. Maybe they are under more of a risk because, for one thing: THEIR FATHER IS PRESIDENT. They have armed guards at their school. They have Secret Service protection. This is because there are people who would genuinely want to hurt or kill their father, and would even hurt or kill them, even though they are children. Barack Obama has faced an unusual threat level during his presidency. But no one should be unaware that this is something he knew about upon taking the job:
So Edwin Meese, Saint Ronnie’s AG, who was involved in not one but two scandals during St. Ronnie’s administration of unprecedented lawlessness among his advisers, thinks Prez Obama should be impeached because he wants to issue a few executive orders regarding srsly implementing background checks and such related to gun purchases. Breach of the Second Amendment!! Tyranny!! Lawlessness!!11!!1 abounds in our nation and we must put. a. stop. to. it. Or, you know, else.
Joining in the baying pack is somebody called Rep. Jeff Duncan R-CrazyTown and a Rep. Steve Stockman R-CrazierTown. Because they just KNOW Bam’s going all dictator on us and sending out the jack booted thugs to wrench guns from the cold dead hands of law abiding (well, sort of) citizuns!!
And it’s what they’ve all dreaded. Dooooom-duh-doom-doom. DOOOOOMMM!!
As for the rest of us, well, yawn. Carry on crazy Teathuglicans. It’s getting where we don’t even think they should headline at Comedy Club anymore. Too, too predictable.
The Rethugs are acting like badasses again and threatening to shut down the government, destroy the economy and wreak whatever havoc is necessary upon our hapless nation unless President Obama yields to their will and throws social security under the bus. Sounds like the plot of an old time melodrama but in fact it’s just life in Washington DC these days.
The Prez, for his part, has said “no dice”. He will have no negotiations over raising the debt ceiling (which after all is NOT new spending, it’s just paying the bill for spending already incurred. By, you know, Congress.) Whether you believe the president or not depends pretty much on whether or not you believe his presidency has been just a series of betrayals of true progressives.
Some people just don’t even want to find out and are once again bringing up the alternative option of minting a one trillion dollar platinum coin, depositing it with the federal reserve then continuing to write the checks to keep the government going and, happily, *not* default on the public debt.
But can he even do that? Because it sounds pretty crazy. Apparently it’s the result of a law which allows platinum coins to be minted in any denomination. As has been pointed out, the purpose of the law was to make, and sell, commemorative and/or collectible coins. But still, it says what it says.
Paul Krugman, for one, thinks that we not only can mint that coin but should mint that coin. And let’s face it, he’s no light weight on matters fiscal.
Should President Obama be willing to print a $1 trillion platinum coin if Republicans try to force America into default? Yes, absolutely. He will, after all, be faced with a choice between two alternatives: one that’s silly but benign, the other that’s equally silly but both vile and disastrous. The decision should be obvious.
Deficit scolds enjoy a public opinion advantage because people (egged on by politicians) draw analogies between government revenues and spending and household income and spending. “We have to tighten our belts when less comes in,” goes the reasoning.
Of course, it’s a lot more complicated than that when we’re talking about government revenues and spending and how it interacts with the domestic and global economy. But simple analogies are appealing, and the scolds use this as a cudgel to whack stimulus proponents.
As we know, in the upcoming debt ceiling fight, the Republicans will position themselves as the fiscally responsible people who want to stop borrowing money for spending we can’t afford. This is a lie, of course, since the debt ceiling concerns money that has already been appropriated by Congress.
But hardly anyone knows that. Maybe it’s time to steal a page from the wingnut playbook and craft a simple analogy of our own.
The president has pointed out that the debt ceiling isn’t about new spending. But maybe he should say not raising it would be like a family that wanted to cut its overall spending refusing to make mortgage and car payments on their existing home and vehicles instead of making smarter choices about future purchases.
The Republicans are threatening to ruin our credit and throw the global economy into turmoil by refusing to make good on credit that has already been extended for money that has already been spent. Maybe if more people got that, they’d see this as the radical and irresponsible behavior it is rather than just another boring round of endless DC squabbling. Or not.
This unfortunate gun show ad placement isn’t even the first one that has occurred next to a story about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
I think John Cole was right when he said nothing would change until displaying an NRA sticker becomes as toxic as claiming KKK membership. But the NRA, even after Wayne LaPierre’s psychotic presser, has a 54% approval rating in the US. I confess I do not get that. At all.
President Obama seems serious about wanting to address gun violence. But his wording in that interview with Dancing Dave was interesting. He said:
“We’re not going to get this done unless the American people decide it’s important and so this is not going to be a matter of me spending political capital. One of the things that you learn having now been in this office for four years. The old adage of Abraham Lincoln’s, ‘with public opinion there is nothing you can’t do and without public opinion there is very little you can get done in this town.’”
I think most people do want to get military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines off the market. But already, less than a month after 26 people, including 20 first graders, were mowed down at school by a lunatic with a Bushmaster, it seems like the urgency to act is fading.
Maybe placement of gun show ads next to stories about gun atrocities means nothing more than careless editorial oversight. Or maybe guns are so embedded in our national psyche that more than half of us really don’t see much of a difference between a gun and a car, except a need to closely regulate only the one with wheels.
As a New Year’s Day “miracle”, the House of Representatives succeeded in dropping the “Hastert Rule” (a formality that left Speaker of the House John Boehner’s hands tied regarding any bill that didn’t appeal to the “majority of the majority”) permiting the Speaker, who had recently recited the Serenity Prayer on the floor of the House,to look to a Higher Power to get shit done—namely Nancy Pelosi, who actually doesn’t have a problem getting her caucus to do things. Thus, the fiscal cliff bill passed overwhelmingly by the Senate was given its chance in the House, where it received enough bipartisan votes to make it into law.
Is it a good bill? Well, it isn’t better than nothing as far as deficits go. Nothing, just going off the fiscal cliff and that’s that, would have done some good re: spending and revenues, but I think its sort of anti-stimulus effect might have retarded growth and f’d up the GDP and other things that make us look like we’re slogging our way out of recession. Or even more wretchedly, we’d have to get used to people saying stuff like “double-dip recession”. What is that supposed to mean? I know what a double-dip ice cream cone is. Double dip recession just sounds like we were in a recession and, guess what? Still are—again! That’s dumb. Why wouldn’t we call it “post-fake-recovery” or something like that? But anyhow, we are in the midst of a recovery, and I’m kind of glad Congress didn’t decide to screw with it too much.Because in the long run, I’m less concerned with deficits than I am with regular people not getting so totally shafted as they could have been regarding UI benefits, and stuff.
Does it signify anything in particular for the GOP-held House? I think—maybe? Cantor was against the change on the Hastert rule and this bill, and maybe Boehner’s decision to put the outcome of this legislation in the hands of a power greater than himself is a harbinger of a challenge to his Speakership. All I really know for sure is that this kind of looks like a Dem win, doesn’t it?