Category Archives: Congress

If things were reversed, would Katrina have been Bush’s Gulf oil spill?

As I see it, and I am interested in hearing other’s takes, the answer is a clear “no.” If Bush had succeeded Obama, instead of the other way around, and Katrina had occurred after the oil spill, there is simply no way that we would be screaming at Bush to stop the hurricane.

Because that is essentially what we want Obama to do. We want Obama to raise his staff and stop the damn hurricane. Perhaps we have forgotten that the tragedy of governmental incompetence during Katrina was not related to the government’s inability to halt a natural disaster, something we clearly should not expect of our elected officials, but rather to their total inability to handle the clean-up, the humanitarian crisis, etc. With the oil spill not yet plugged, Obama’s part in this hasn’t even really started yet.

And that’s the problem. It is literally unfathomable to a very large part of the country, many of whom are generally quite cynical, that a company of the size and stature of BP could a) have allowed this to happen in the first place thanks to total negligence, or b) that they could begin such a risky undertaking without having a legitimate plan for how to stop a leak if one started. Clearly corporations lie, cheat, and steal, but those are the banks on Wall Street, not the big companies that provide thousands of jobs across the country. Thus, though it is undoubtedly a tragedy caused by BP (but perhaps not one that is their fault, per se), it is clearly the government’s fault that this is happening. For some reason. Bottom line: these companies are perfectly capable of regulating themselves, thank you very much, but the fact that the government regulations I didn’t want didn’t keep this from happening is just appalling. You need to do more (do less)!

And Obama’s inability to figure out how to stop an oil spill (something which his law degree clearly qualifies him to do) is more proof that he is a presidential failure. That, plus the failure to pass healthcare reform, a jobs bill, a stimulus package, financial reform, etc. Oh, wait…

(You can hate his policies and pray for repeal, but recognize a winner when you see one. This is the approach I’ve had to take with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers…In fact, in many ways Obama is to the presidency what Bryant is to pro basketball. Even when Bryant, who I admittedly dislike in a surprisingly visceral way, scores 40 points and puts on an absurd performance, everybody derides it as selfish playing and any other number of negative descriptions. One has to wonder, were Kobe to have a personality transplant and finally look like he actually wants to be on the court and isn’t, in fact, looking to strangle his own teammates, would we all revere him as a virtual god instead of somebody who is unfortunately fantastic?)

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Sex, Lies, & Videotape: Today’s Political Headlines

The two big scandal stories of the day, and let’s be clear, this is not an otherwise slow news day with the much-touted primaries, deal with lying about military service and adultery. Not too shabby. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut AG and Democratic senatorial candidate, was outed by an NYT article for saying that he served in Vietnam, when, in fact, he never left U.S. soil. On the Republican side of the aisle, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) is stepping down from office after admitting that he had an affair with a female employee.

Souder and his lady friend even made a great sex tape!

The Blumenthal revelation is bad, no question, but he may survive, and in no small part thanks to the fact that while his story will undoubtedly garner a slew of media attention, it’ll be only half as much as it might have been thanks to Rep. Souder. Did Democrats pay him to resign today? It’s way too fortuitous for a party that seems to get political timing wrong with an accuracy that verges on the statistically improbable.

The fact that Souder had an affair neither shocks nor bothers me. I understand, though, that most expect and certainly prefer their elected leaders to actually practice what they preach (in this case quite literally). However, what does bother me in this case is the nature of Souder’s apology and resignation. Rather than simply saying, “I screwed up. I’m sorry,” Souder lamented to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, “It is a nightmare…Can’t believe it is happening.”

Really? You can’t believe it’s happening? It was you having the affair…right?

What is really unbelievable is the degree to which Rep. Souder’s statement makes it sound like his house was hit by the adultery natural disaster. Perhaps it was a sex volcano eruption, or a sex tsunami, or even a sex avalanche. Frankly, I don’t doubt that he’s repentant. There’s no question in my mind that he definitely regrets having the affair, and that he also regrets having to come clean about it, but the “nighmare” that Souder is dealing with is basically his own inability to actually follow the moral codes he claims to base his life upon. Souder is not Job. This is his fault.

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Goldman Sachs and the politics of financial reform

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep so I ended up mulling over the fraud case against Goldman Sachs (GS) for about 3 hours. Here’s my (totally uneducated) take:

Bottom line, this case against GS is not a gamble by the government. The administration wants financial reform much more than they want to “get” GS, but because midterm elections are around the corner and Democrats are already expected to lose a fair number of Congressional seats, the administration really can’t afford to have Republicans running around telling people that financial reform is Maoism in disguise (or in the best interest of the banks…with the Republicans still auditioning opposition strategies, it’s like amateur hour on the Hill). So. What is to be done? How do you pass real financial reform in this political climate without more than a mock brawl? Apparently if you’re particularly savvy, you bring a charge against the most loathed bank on Wall Street based on a disclosure issue that may not actually be technically illegal, but that very clearly sounds like something that should be. The ambiguity of the law is the SEC/administration’s ace in the hole. Either GS settles or loses and financial reform happens because the issue is very clearly illustrated for the public by one great example, or GS wins and financial reform happens because the entire country is incensed that whatever GS did isn’t illegal. Either way, financial reform passes.

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Jon Stewart on Health Care Reform- Pt. 2 (With “M.D.” John Hodgman)

Every American becomes a congressman and sick people move to a leper resort — all paid for by your kidneys.

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Jon Stewart Discusses Health Care Reform- Pt. 1

Republican scare tactics filter into the real debate on health care reform, taking their toll on President Obama’s sales pitch.

HILARIOUS!

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An Amendment to Kill Medicare?

Anthony Weiner  is like the Superman/Clark Kent of the House- half wonkish and half seriously aggressive. Who else would consider using legislation as an offensive weapon? 

Writes Glenn Thrush from Politico:

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) says he plans to introduce a politically-targeted amendment forcing Republicans to vote “yes” or “no” on continuing Medicare, the government-run health care program for seniors, on the 44th anniversary of its enactment.

Weiner [who plans to vote yes, obviously] said he wants to tack the amendment onto the health care bill being marked up today — to call bluff on Republicans who say federal intervention into health care has been a failure.

“It’s put-up or shut-up time for the phonies who deride the so-called ‘public option’,” Weiner said.

This guy is a baller.

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Rachel Maddow Discusses the Deathers and Other Anti-Reform Conspiracies

Here’s what I now know about the proposed government takeover of health care:

1. The government wants to kill my grandparents. They will be “put on a list and forced to die early”….by being sent out into the ocean on ice floes…

2. The government is going to use the takeover of health care to promote abortion. The more abortions people have the more the government benefits because (fill in the blank).

Did I miss anything?

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National Review Online Editorial Board Debunks the Birther Claims

This article by the editorial board at NRO is absolutely worth reading. It simultaneously bashes Obama and liberals while doing a great job of trying to put the Birthers to rest. NRO has spoken: Obama was born in the U.S.A.

Pres. Barack Obama has a birthday coming up, a week from Tuesday. We hope he takes the day off—or even the whole week, the briefest of respites from his busy schedule of truncating our liberties while exhausting both the public coffers and our patience. The president’s birthday comes to mind because we recently spent some time looking at a photograph of his birth certificate, being held by Joe Miller of Factcheck.org, who took the time to examine it. President Obama was born on August 4, 1961, at 7:24 p.m, in Honolulu County, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. The serial number on his birth certificate is 010641. Baby Barack’s birth was not heralded, as some of his partisans have suggested, by a star in the east, but it was heralded by the Honolulu Star, as well as the Honolulu Advertiser, each of which published birth announcements for young Mr. Obama.

Much foolishness has become attached to the question of President Obama’s place of birth, and a few misguided souls among the Right have indulged it. The myth that Barack Obama is ineligible to be president represents the hunt for a magic bullet that will make all the unpleasant complications of his election and presidency disappear. We are used to seeing conspiracy theories from the Left, for instance among the one in three Democrats who believe that 9/11 was an inside job conducted with the foreknowledge of the Bush administration. We’ve seen everything under the sun blamed on Dick Cheney and Halliburton, and Rosie O’Donnell has given us much mirth with her metallurgical expertise, while Andrew Sullivan has beclowned himself and tarnished the good name of The Atlantic with his investigation into the “real” parentage of Trig Palin. Most notable, the Iraq War summoned the craziness in a big way, and there are those who still shudder over their espressos at the mention of the Carlyle Group. And there is a fair amount of crossover between those fixated on Obama’s birth certificate and the 9/11 “truthers” — lawyer Phil Berg, for instance, is a player in both worlds. There is nothing that President Obama’s coterie would enjoy more than to see the responsible Right become a mirror image of the loopy Left circa 2003. 

Read the rest here.

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Freshman Senators From Colorado Get Smacked Down by Columbine Father for Support of Thune Gun Amendment

As reported by Glenn Thrush at Politico:

Denver Post Ad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The father of a Columbine massacre victim says he’s “disgusted” with Colorado’s freshman Democratic senators for voting in favor of the failed Thune Amendment, which would have allowed licensed owners to transport concealed firearms across state lines.

Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was murdered a decade ago at the Littleton, Colo. high school, is featured in a full page Denver Post ad questioning the “yes” votes of Michael Bennet and Mark Udall.

“I was disgusted,” Mauser tells POLITICO. “I felt that they were measuring the political winds instead of voting for what they thought was right…  I think they could still get elected [without voting for the Thune Amendment] but they are trying to do something that makes them seem more moderate. It’s ridiculous.”

Mauser, whose son would have been 26, appears in the ad, sponsored by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, holding his son’s sneakers.

“We tend to have such a short memory in this country,” added Mauser, who works for the Colorado transportation department.

 

When I learned that my two Senators, Richard Burr (R) and Kay Hagan (D), would be voting for the Thune Gun Amendment, I called and emailed both offices to register my extreme disappointment. I’m generally a supporter of Second Amendment rights, but as former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) plainly stated in an ideas piece on Politico, the Thune Gun Amendment wasn’t pro-gun, it was pro-criminal. 

Thank you Sen. Lugar (R-IN) and Sen. Voinovich (R-OH) for your “no” votes!

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Stephen Colbert on the Birthers!- Pt. 1

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Last Call: Thank You, Senator Specter!

This is my final posting for the day, and I think it’s a good one. I don’t know what it is about Senator Specter these days, but I like this guy! Maybe I’m feeling a little ethnic (MOT) pride?

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My Healthcare Day Dream…In All of its Most Likely Unconstitutional Glory.

Here is my dream healthcare plan (it’s most likely unconstitutional, practically impossible, doesn’t address really any of the nuanced issues, and is highly unorthodox). Regardless, I do believe that it represents the greatest use of democratic principles:

Step 1: Design a strong public healthcare option in Congress. Forget about the rest of it, just make sure the public option is everything that it should be (“Socialist” or not). 

Step 2: Figure out how to set aside a chunk of money to pay for the public option. When Blue Dogs and Republicans get upset, just let them talk.

Step 3: Declare that we believe each state should have the right to decide whether or not to adopt this public option. Those who don’t want it, don’t have to have it. How can those who believe in States Rights not accept this? Let the advertising and mudslinging, state by state, begin!

Step 4: Put it on the ballot, state by state, and allow the citizens to vote on it.

Step 5: Those states where the proposition passes will have the public option implemented in their state (which will not take away the right to keep current coverage for those who are happy already), and will receive the necessary federal funding (as well as any other funding being provided by other elements of the healthcare industry).

Everybody (or at least a voting majority) gets what they want!

Epilogue: Two things might happen in this scenario- a) the vast majority of states could pass the prop, thus taking the decision making out of the politically motivated hands of their clearly incompetent representatives. This would be extremely bad news for Republicans. Or, b) the measure passes in some states (perhaps those that light up blue), but not others. If this happens, I foresee massive migrations over the next decade to states that offer a public plan, thus cutting down populations in some states and adding to others. This of course will have a major effect on the number of representatives allotted to a state, etc, but at least these states will be able to save themselves from what they perceive to be Socialism. 

Of course this is a pipe dream. But, then again, what would be so wrong with letting each state decide? Wouldn’t that be extraordinarily democratic? It would certainly serve to diffuse a lot of the political pressure on Congress. Then perhaps they could put together some legislation that will actually work.

UPDATE: I don’t believe that only those who are poor and uninsured would migrate to states with a public option. Rather, I think it would be a major selling point for businesses who would no longer have to pay for their employees’ healthcare, as well as for anybody with domestic help who pays for healthcare for their employees (ie upper middle class+).

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Politico Covers Chuck Grassley’s Twittering

Hey! Check it out! The contents of my Chuck Grassley Twitter post were reported on by Politico’s Shenanigans and a part of my post was quoted:

At first blush, the irascible, frugal, cranky — take your pick — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) doesn’t seem the type who gladly suffers lobbyists. Recently, upon disagreeing with a Grocery Manufacturers Association lobbyist, the senator wrote a scathing letter about the lobbyist and mailed it directly to the guy’s boss. 

However, all that aside, he Twittered — it pains us to say it — in the wee hours of Friday morning: “Attention Ia legislative business lobbyists: I visit w many Repbli can REPs and Sntors. Don’t take ur frends 4granted.U spend all time w Dem [sic].” 

First of all, Chuck Grassley Twitters? 

Second, he has some serious typing issues. 

Third: Get on it, Iowa lobbyists! The king has beckoned. 

One observer seemed stunned, and not just by one thing: “Did Sen. Chuck Grassley really just ask to be lobbied (in what I believe to be some kind of Creole accent) via the public Twitter network? Isn’t that supposed to be a behind-the-scenes kind of thing? Wow.”  <—–

Grassley responded to Shenanigans thusly: “I meant for the posting to speak for itself. The message is everybody should be part of the political dialogue.” 

Nice.

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McConnell: Message Is Fine, Messengers Not So Great

Washington Wire‘s Susan Davis reports this story:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t believe the Republican Party has the wrong message, just the wrong messengers.

“We don’t think it’s a flawed message as much as we haven’t had the right candidates out there to put these races in the win column and we’re working very hard to turn it around,” McConnell told reporters today at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Senate Republicans have lost about a dozen seats in the previous two election cycles, and now control just 41 seats unless Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman scores an upset in the ongoing recount battle against Democrat Al Franken.

McConnell identified candidate recruitment as the biggest challenge the party has faced in recent years, noting that it was “really hard” to convince Republicans to run with an unpopular Republican president in office and a sour electorate.

He said he is working with Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who is running the campaign operation, to turn it around in 2010. “I’m optimistic that we’re going to do a lot better in candidate recruitment in this cycle than we have over the last two,” he said, “And it’s kind of a statement of the obvious that the better candidate you have the more likely you are to win. So I think that’s the starting place.”

McConnell likewise expressed frustration at the lack of diversity in the Senate Republican ranks. “I’m not happy with the fact that our only Hispanic member of the Republican Conference has retired,” he said of retiring Florida Sen. Mel Martinez, “We don’t have nearly as many women senators in the Republican Conference as we’d like to have. We’re working on all of those things.”

The minority leader was less candid, however, when asked about home state GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who has publicly clashed with Cornyn and the press in recent weeks over his re-election bid. Some Republicans believe the party will have a better chance to hold on to the seat if Bunning, 77 years old, retires.

“I don’t have any observations on that,” McConnell said.

So…what’s the message? Low spending, low taxes? Was McCain unable to deliver this message? I thought I heard it loud and clear. If I’m wrong, if there’s a significantly more comprehensive and perhaps fresher message that I have yet to hear articulated, I think Senator McConnell should do the honors.

At the same time, I feel it odd that Senator McConnell seems to be stressing that the candidates his own party put up for election, candidates I want to assume the GOP thought would do a good job, were just…well…bad.

Perhaps the inability to recruit real talent  and the quality of the message are somehow related…

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GOP: The First 50 Days

Craig Crawford over at CQ’s Trail Mix put together this great video highlighting the GOP’s first 50 days of the new political term:

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