The Thoughtful Read of the Day: David Atkins Edition

There are two essays on the Political Animal blog of the Washington Monthly that you need to read back-to-back and in this order:

  1. Why shouldn’t the Left have its own “tea party?”
  2. Hyperpartiseanship is a symptom of distrust in government, not its cause

The first essay: I’ve gotten into this argument with well-meaning, but squishy liberals before: the tea party is vile and we should not mimic them; usually they say things along the lines of, “we’re better than that.” And then we get walloped by them. Atkins proposes that the policies that the Teabaggers want is what is vile, but their technique for getting what they want is pretty impressive politics. He is calling for the Left to get in the game, fight back and stand for something. I’m inclined to agree with him.

The second essay reminds me of how our pal Driftglass has long said that the real story of the post-Reagan era is how the Republicans have lost their minds (and how the media is not covering it), and I think that this second essay might be an initial foray from a pretty mainstream publisher that actually makes the point: the Conservatives are the problem, and they are nuts.

The Transition From Senator To…

…extraction industry lobbyist for Mary Landrieu is nearly complete: Cassidy Wins Senate Runoff on Louisiana

It’s just too much work to wring my hands over losing Landrieu when I don’t think that the left ever had her. She is one of the key players that ensured that there never was a Public Option in the Affordable Care Act, she voted to extend the wiretapping provisions in the Patriot Act. Her career was rich in serving the oil industry in the toxic swamp that is Louisiana, and in not serving her constituents, and her last 4th and 40 yard Hail Mary pass to win re-election was trying to get the Keystone Pipeline built.

The DFHs Were Right (Again)

Bill Kristol does the Grand Slam

It’s getting to be a trope, but it seems that we dirty-freaking-hippies are almost always right and after it is too late, then they admit it:

“We had the votes in ’09. We had a huge majority in the House, we had 60 votes in the Senate,” Harkin told The Hill, saying that the first Congress of President Barack Obama’s administration should have passed “single-payer right from the get go or at least put a public option (which) would have simplified a lot.”

“We had the votes to do that and we blew it,” he said. He decried that the law as it exists is “really complicated” and benefits the insurance companies, though he praised its prevention health funding.

“We had the power to do it in a way that would have simplified health care, made it more efficient and made it less costly and we didn’t do it,” Harkin told The Hill. “So I look back and say we should have either done it the correct way or not done anything at all.

–Retiring IA Sen. Tom Harkin, who helped oversee the drafting of the Affordable Care Act.

Hapless Dims, cont.

We all point and laugh each time some fetus-fondling god-botherer on the right steps in it and makes a comment about, oh, legitimate rape and whatnot. But here’s one of our own fueling the GOP resentment machine:

Now, nothing he says is not true, and he is not sneeringly condescending, but it won’t matter that this is NOT a Todd Akin moment: wingnuttia will declare it thus. There’s a campaign consultant somewhere who is drinking bourbon at 8AM. And talk about stepping, literally in it…

Now, the snarky-ballsy thing would be to apologize to Iowa farmers for calling 33-years in Congress Chuck ‘I am not a NAIL’ Grassley one of them (and I’m sure most of them don’t think Grassley is one of them)…

Labor: Acting Locally

Well, some more chickens have come home to roost for the Dims:

In a speech Monday to his union’s legislative conference, Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), said Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) would not be receiving IAFF support in their reelection races this year.

The firefighters are angry about a December 2010 Senate vote on legislation that would have expanded collective bargaining rights for firefighters and police officers. The bill failed to move forward in a 55-43 vote, with Hagan and Warner joining the Republicans in voting against cloture.

Calling Hagan “one of our great double-crossers,” Schaitberger said, “she now has a tough reelection, and I have made her a promise, and one I plan to keep.”

“That is she won’t get one damn dime from this union. She won’t get one ounce of support,” said Schaitberger, who was then drowned out by applause from the crowd.

And then there is this:

Several in labor see a chance to oust some of unions’ biggest antagonists, including Republican Govs. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, John Kasich in Ohio, Paul LePage in Maine, Rick Scott in Florida and Rick Snyder in Michigan.

Brian Weeks, political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the union would campaign for a Democratic Senate but the “priority is at the state level.”

“There are 36 governors’ races,” Weeks said. “Michigan, Florida and Pennsylvania are our highest-priority races.”

The governors cited are excrescences and are definitely more anti-labor (and succeeding at being anti-labor), so I can understand that Unions see them more as an existential threat than a couple of stupid Dim senators, and that is where they want to use whatever fire power they have.

The Dims need to start acting like Democrats again. I mean, I get it that Hagan and Warner are in states where open hostility to Unions is practically a birth right; but what did they expect to happen? As much as I dislike Blue Dogs, a seat is a seat and at the moment Harry Reid is the only thing that keeps retrograde policies from reaching The Carebear-in-Chief, who blog only knows might sign as a way of negotiating with the terrorists.

(The Hill)

Social Security Blow-back: The Grand Bargain

carebear empty suit and words blingee

It’s not like I want to say ‘I told you so’ to President Carebear, but one should never negotiate with terrorists holding hostages (like the GOP):

Democrats used a familiar playbook, accusing Republican David Jolly of wanting to privatize the program. House Majority PAC, an outside group that supports Democratic candidates, dropped almost $750,000 on an ad warning that Jolly “lobbied for a special interest that wanted to privatize Social Security,” and that he “still says privatization should be on the table.”

Democrat Alex Sink herself called Social Security “an American promise” and said that unlike her opponent, she would “fight to protect the integrity” of the program. It’s a message the party hoped would resonate in a district that has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of voters over the age 65.

But Jolly had an easy comeback: He denied wanting to privatize Social Security, and fired back by noting that Sink voiced some support for the Simpson-Bowles debt-reduction plan, which included cuts to Social Security.

The National Republican Congressional Committee hit Sink from the left on this, saying she “supports a plan that raises the retirement age for Social Security recipients, raises Social Security taxes, and cuts Medicare.” Katie Prill, a spokesperson for the Republican group, added: “Sending Alex Sink to Washington guarantees that seniors right here in Pinellas County are in jeopardy of losing the Social Security and Medicare benefits that they have earned and deserve.”

Liberal writers cried hypocrisy, but it didn’t matter: Sink lost.

Instead of running away from Obamacare and everything progressive and into the arms of the Right (remember the lost-in-the-desert-like Chimpy Years? Republican Lite worked out so well for the Left) the Dims should be fighting hard for progressive issues. Dims are on the side of our better angels, choose any of these issues or all of them and you would have a winning message:

  • Wall Street — follow the money, talk about the inequality; everyone knows now that the cards are absolutely stacked against the 99%
  • The War on Women — is there a day that goes by where the Theocrats are not trying to blame women for the fall of Adam?
  • Gun violence — More people—including NRA Members—are for some reasonable gun control than against it. The trump card: Sandy Hook. It still resonates.
  • Affordable Care Act — brag about all the people who are now insured, cite some personal success stories; QUIT CALLING IT OBAMACARE.
  • Immigration — all you have to do is just play clips of the CPAC speeches; is there any doubt that Wingnuttia is a dog whistling?
  • Civil Rights — point out the happiness of married gay people, not taking away rights; it’s a generational thing, true, but recent polls show that the country has a plurality in support of it.
  • Voting Rights — all the effort and energy Wingnuttia is putting into taking away your ability to vote.
  • Climate Change — Everyone instinctively knows that this is real, so what to do about it? Keep giving tax breaks to big oil and coal? Come’on!

You know what would be a killer issue: just talk about how the Republicans have lost their minds since a black man put his hand on the Bible.

Jeepers, it’s embarrassing that some stupid blogger in Seattle can see it more clearly than the Very Serious People who frame the debate. Develop a spine, people.

(National Journal)

I repeat myself:

Max Baucus surreal

I don’t mind sending Max “Single Payer” Baucus to China. It’s the return trip I object to:

President Barack Obama formally announced Friday plans to nominate Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) as ambassador to China.

“For more than two decades Max Baucus has worked to deepen the relationship between the United States and China,” Obama said in a statement Friday morning. “The economic agreements he helped forge have created millions of American jobs and added billions of dollars to our economy, and he’s perfectly suited to build on that progress in his new role.”

(Livewire)

In which Schumer makes me want to pound my head into a wall

dog-sleep-runs-into-wall-o

Besides his usual hippie-punching, Wall Street fan boi and infamous water carrier Chuck Schumer displays his usual unbridled contempt for what should be the democratic base in this interview with Isaac Chotiner of The New Republic (emphasis mine):

IC: You and Mayor Bloomberg, in 2007, said that reregulating Wall Street would cause people to flee overseas to London. That is very different than [the position of Senator Elizabeth] Warren.

CS: It has got to be, to me, a careful balance, OK? Wall Street excesses helped lead to the Great Recession. And to sit there and do nothing, or do what the Republicans want—repeal Dodd-Frank—makes no sense. But on the other hand, I think that you just don’t attack Wall Street because they’re successful or rich.

I just unsuccessfully, with Bloomberg, supported raising the building height in midtown Manhattan, so we could build more office buildings. Office buildings are our factories—imagine the people of Michigan saying, “We don’t want to build a new auto factory, because the Ford family will get richer, or the person who builds the factory will make money.” You’ve got to look at the effect on average folks. The vast majority of the people employed by Wall Street are the secretary who goes in to work on the Long Island Rail Road, who makes fifty, sixty, seventy thousand dollars a year. I’m not saying Elizabeth does this, but there are some on the far left who just have a visceral hatred of Wall Street. It’s counterproductive.

IC: You don’t think Elizabeth Warren makes a villain out of Wall Street?

CS: I am just going to leave it at what I said.

IC: Forget Warren then. Is this a problem for your party?

CS: You don’t want to go after them for the sake of going after them. The left-wing blogs want you to be completely and always anti–Wall Street. It’s not the right way to be.

IC: So are the left-wing blogs as bad as the Tea Party ones in this case?

CS: Left-wing blogs are the mirror image. They just have less credibility and less clout.

Chuck, can we talk?

I don’t expect Dims to be “completely and always anti-Wall Street.” I expect Dims to regulate Wall Street.

I expect Dims to care that white-collar criminals go unpunished for their economy-destroying money-grubbing thievery.

I expect Dims to be concerned about inequality—including inequality of wealth and opportunity.

I expect Dims to talk about golden parachutes for executive as they bankrupt their corporations, off-shore jobs and abscond with the loot.

I expect Dims to work to make a living minimum wage the law of the land.

I expect Dims to want Wall Street to pay their fair share especially since they have had a nearly 40-year run of paying little to nothing on their ill-gotten gains.

I don’t hate Wall Street and their enablers because they are successful. I hate them because they destroyed the global economy and ruined tens of millions of peoples’ lives, destroyed their retirements, and put nearly everyone onto a path of less expectations than their parents had. They killed the so-called American dream, and Chuck? You helped them.

It’s you I hate Chuck. You are the problem, Wall Street is a symptom.

Buh-bye Larry Summers!

Larry Summers

Summers has just withdrawn his name for becoming the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve:

“I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.”

But not to worry, I’m sure that President Carebear will find some other Clinton-era retread to take it on.

We should give a big thank-you to the Democratic members of the banking committee: Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley, Elizabeth Warren, and Jon Tester. They announced rather loudly that they would not support Summers, and The Kenyan knows that the Republicans will not help him no matter what, so this shows that when the feckless and spineless Dim-o-Crats focus, they can get good stuff done.

Sanford: kicked in the castanets by Colbert-Busch

I enjoyed learning the Colbert-Busch won the so-called debate in South Carolina, seething hotbed of unbridled lust® , and I enjoyed learning that she called Mark “Kiss Me South of the Border” Sanford out on his Appalachian Trail, and that basically she doesn’t take crap from anyone. All good things.

On the sad side, she’s another Bluedog Dim. Maybe it is what it takes in SC, but it left a bone in my throat. Still, I’d rather see Sanford permanently retired, so it still counts as a win.

(Taylor Marsh)