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The Morning Plum

* This one will contribute to the growing sense that Dems are essentially paralyzed in the face of the faltering recovery: The Federal Reserve is now weighing stepping in.

* Only in the alternate reality known as the U.S. Senate: Energy reform without broad carbon limits has a better chance of passing even though it may end up being more of a drain on the budget.

* But wait, surely the defecit hawks will embrace the Dem energy reform proposal now that the CBO has ruled it would reduce the deficit, right?

* The fierce urgency of ... next term? Eric Alterman contributes to the growing genre of "why isn't Obama progressive enough" pieces by positing that Obama is laying the groundwork for transformative change in his second term.

* Remember that oil spill? The battle to contain the spill is facing two critical junctures that could help decide how, or whether, this catastrophe ends.

* Brian Beutler does a bracing fact-check of David Vitter's denial that a staffer who pled guilty to attacking his girlfried worked on women's issues.

* Arizona House Dems have now taken to echoing GOP talking points on the Obama lawsuit to overturn the Arizona law.

* Are MSNBC's bigfoot liberal hosts quietly working against MSNBC brass over the banning of Markos?

* Meanwhile, the neocons win another media scalp.

* E.J. Dionne gets it right: The DNC should not have accused Michael Steele of "rooting for failure." That's what this blog's been saying!

* Sarah Palin finally finds something to criticize about the Tea Partyers: Their (rare) intellectual consistency in advocating for defense cuts.

* And Andrew Sullivan says that the Obama administration and the D.C. establishment have unwittingly legitimized torture over the long term, ensuring that it will return under a Republican president:

Can you imagine the extent and gravity of it under a future president Palin?

No, I can't. What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  July 8, 2010; 8:29 AM ET
Categories:  Climate change , Financial reform , Foreign policy and national security , House Dems , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans , Tea Party  
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Next: Sharron Angle: The $20 billion in BP escrow cash was "slush fund"


From the Palin as defense scholar universe...

"In the conservative ranks and within the party, she's really quite a crucial piece in this puzzle," said Tom Donnelly, a defense fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "She's got both political and tea-party/small-government bona fides, but she also has a lot of credibility in advocating for military strength." (see Greg's link)

Uh...what? Who? Her?! Credibility? A "lot" of credibility?!!

Good god in heaven.

That's all preposterous to a power of X, of course. So the only element in here that is interesting is asking why this symbolic figurehead-who-is-a-twit is being told to forward such a position. In other words, why is Palin saying exactly what the Republicans always say... "we love to give billions and billions of tax dollars to corporate entities related to the military and screw the citizens".

And the only sensible answer to that question is that she is representing precisely the establishment that traditional American populism has stood against.

Having a retail enterprise allows me to talk politics with a lot of people every day (much to my wife's dismay) and the utter disdain in which this woman is held by 90% of the people I talk with is encouraging, I must say.

ps to greg...held up on leaving but should be behind the wheel in about two hours and heading up to BC. Forecast here is for 98 degrees today so the only matter yet unresolved is whether to put the top down.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Re David Vitter...

A married evangelical family values guy who lays with prostitutes and who bears false witness does, surely, have reason to suppose a forgiving god up there in the clouds.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

"Eric Alterman contributes to the growing genre of "why isn't Obama progressive enough" pieces by positing that Obama is laying the groundwork for transformative change in his second term."

The article basically repeats the fiction that Obama can't get stuff done because of Congress. He could have gotten a lot more that he promised done if he had gone to the mat for it. Instead he's compromised it away with backroom deals. Kabuki indeed. I won't vote for him again. I'll stay home first.

Posted by: msmollyg | July 8, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

One of Josh's readers writes:

"With the Vitter and Angle stories running side-by-side today, they bring up a question that has to be answered. Paul and Kirk went into hiding--in fact, it seems, all Republican candidates outside South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama seem to be hiding. Rubio has been quiet. Perry wants no debates, if he can get away with it. The theme seems to be that most Republican candidates want to win incognito. It's not a party of NO--it's a party of nothing."

Astute observation. Taken in tandem with Palin (the Thing from the Blank Lagoon) and Beck University we are apparently witnessing the emergence of civics by and for those without brain-stems.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

From Alterman (thankyou for that link, Greg) comes one of the brightest graphs I've read in a while...

"The American political system is nothing if not complicated and so too are the reasons for its myriad points of democratic dysfunction. Some are endemic to our constitutional regime and all but impossible to address save by the extremely cumbersome (and profoundly unlikely) prospect of amending the Constitution. Others are the result of a corrupt capital culture that likes it that way and has little incentive to change. Many are the result of the peculiar commercial and ideological structure of our media, which not only frame our political debate but also determine which issues will be addressed. A few are purely functions of the politics of the moment or just serendipitous bad luck. And if we really mean to change things, instead of just complaining about them, it would behoove us to figure out which of these choke points can be opened up and which cannot. For if our politicians cannot keep the promises they make as candidates, then our commitment to political democracy becomes a kind of Kabuki exercise; it resembles a democratic process at great distance but mocks its genuine intentions in substance."

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

"I won't vote for him again. I'll stay home first."

Your choice, of course. But in doing so, you will be an example of the successful strategy of those who want you apathetic and without hope.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

"Me And Glenn Down By The Schoolyard: TPM Enrolls At Glenn Beck's 'University'"

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse's a quote from the first Beck U lecture delivered by Prof Barton...

"The Declaration of Independence is nothing more than a listing of all of the sermons that folks had been hearing in church in the decades leading up to the American Revolution."

Enlightenment schmenlightenment.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse


"Your choice, of course. But in doing so, you will be an example of the successful strategy of those who want you apathetic and without hope."

I am not apathetic. I am more engaged politically than at any time in my life. I'm angry at the lost opportunities of Obama's presidency, at the Democratic and Republican corporate shills, and at our totally broken government. I won't vote for any of them, except maybe at the local level.

Posted by: msmollyg | July 8, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

And here it is. SarahPac ad and mama grizzly. Matalin laid out the strategy 6 months ago.!

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Anyone see Sarah's new "mama grizzlies" video. Just speaking as a woman, I find it rather disheartening that someone who supports the MIC above all else pretends to speak for all women. As a mother and grandmother I'm much more interested in the health, education and career opportunities of my children and grandchildren.

And molly, I get the disappointment, I'm not particularly thrilled with everything Obama's done myself, but just the idea of Republicans taking over again is more than enough to get me to vote. The idea is to keep the pressure on, work for progressive candidates and I think it's time we put our marching shoes on, as liberal women.

Posted by: lmsinca | July 8, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

@msmollyg - not to put too fine a point on it but you seem to be turning away from engagement on the federal or state level because you feel disempowered to effect any sort of change at that level. Isn't that an example of what 'apathy' means? "I give up".

I hate pep talks and I'm not going to give one. The fact is that each of us is relatively powerless and that has always been so. But change does happen (civil rights, women's rights, etc) and that is always a consequence of shoulder to the wheel group effort/organization.

You're as smart as me and as civics-minded as me so that's the only reminder I might offer.

I just printed the Alterman piece out to read on the ferry later today and it is some 26 pages. My expectation is that he won't end up suggesting we not vote. must depart. Best, all.

Posted by: bernielatham | July 8, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

"E.J. Dionne gets it right: The DNC should not have accused Michael Steele of "rooting for failure." That's what this blog's been saying!"

I read a pretty convincing argument a few years ago that for negative advertising/campaigning to work well, it had to satisfy 3 conditions (or at least be made to convincingly appears so):

1. Recency
2. Relevance
3. Fairness

Recency is easy. People tend to care less about things that happened 20 years ago than what someone has done lately. What else is new. Items 2 and 3 are somewhat intertwined and a little more open to subjectivity and salesmanship, but I really don't think that this particular line of attack clears the bar on either of them. And those are also the areas where the risk of blowback is highest -- i.e., actually hurting your own cause, not just wasting time and money -- if minimum thresholds of plausibility are not met.

Posted by: CalD | July 8, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

From the Alterman piece, a must read for everyone. We simply cannot give up and let the do nothing crowd take over again.

"When Senator DeMint introduced a GOP stimulus plan, authored by the Heritage Foundation, it consisted in its entirety of making the Bush tax cuts permanent and adding to them additional tax breaks for corporations and wealthy Americans. If enacted—never a serious possibility—it would have cost roughly three times what Obama's cost over the next ten years. Even DeMint found it necessary to admit that it was "not innovative or particularly clever. In fact, it's only eleven pages."

Posted by: lmsinca | July 8, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

am i the only person who thinks that kos was out of line? maybe greg is right that its ok to criticize libs and not cons and maybe msnbc is going overboard but i think the initial tweet was uncalled for. if there is some evidence of wrongful death then investigate and shine a light on the facts etc but as far as i can tell this was an accidental death. why fling gossip and innuendo

Posted by: aiko1 | July 8, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

bernie and lmsinca are 10,000% right.

I alternate between being totally despondent and telling myself that NOW IS THE TIME TO KEEP FIGHTING.

I totally understand both sentiments and though I realize that realistically our government is totally broken for many obvious reasons. BUT at the end of the day this is a long game and it is well worth fighting even on the most difficult day. The world does not run on a 24 hour news cycle like the MSM would have you believe. We must claw, scrape, and fight for every single vote, even when the chips are down.

We may or may not lose one or both houses of congress. I don't think we will, but we may. But at the end of the day, America is still moving forward on many issues. While FinReg, HCR, Energy Reform, Comprehensive Immigration Reform are not perfect progressive works of legislation, they ARE being addressed in a sensible way.

We just need to hang in there, fight for votes through November as we normally would and then, at the end of the day, hold EVERYONE accountable each and every day. That's what makes our country better in the long run whether or not our current leaders respect or understand our positions.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 8, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

All, Sharron Angle has now compared the BP escrow money to a "slush fund"

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 8, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Greg, glad to see your link about the fiscal hawks and deficit reduction legislation. Just remember, keep it on the down low!!

Posted by: Chris-TheFold | July 8, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

has anyone gamed out reid's july energy bill strategy

Posted by: jackjudge4000yahoocom | July 8, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

As a progressive, I'm not holding my breath on a transformative 2nd Obama term. How's he going to do it without 60 seats if he never pushes for the progressive position?? (Afghan withdrawal, DADT repeal, public option, cap & trade, too big to fail, etc etc etc etc)

Posted by: adammc123 | July 8, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

msmollyg I have 2 words for you: Republican President.

We all have to learn to take half (or less) of a loaf when it comes to elections. I remember when Nader was saying Gore and Bush were the same. We all see how that turned out on the SCOTUS, the debt and deficit, 2 failed invasions, etc... To my great shame, I voted for Nader. In Colorado Bush won by more than the Nader vote but still...

When I look at Kagan and Sotomayor on the court, I see that repubs and dems are not actually the same after all. Imagine 2 more scalitos or Roberts on the court.

When I look at the NLRB, EPA, SEC, OSHA, DOJ, UN representation, etc. and see that they are staffed by people that actually believe in the mission of the agency and are not out to emasculate their own regulatory powers, I can hold my nose and vote for Dems, even if they look too much like 1960's republicans.

So buck up, remember that you are extremely lucky to live in one the wealthiest nations on the planet, and don't let people that want govt to let industries pollute, violate worker's rights, and scam the public without any meaningful regulation while imposing strict intrusive laws on a woman's uterus to get close to the levers of power.

Posted by: srw3 | July 8, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Greg: For all your fine arguments about how the GOP has perverse incentives to make the Senate dysfunctional, you aid those incentives when you write sentences about how the "Dems" are paralyzed on recovery. The Senate can muster 57 votes for unemployment extension but the bill can't pass these days under supermajority rule. So the Dems as a whole get tarred for the dysfunction of the chamber and the whims of a few fools like Nelson. Just like Dems as a whole got tarred when Lieberman killed the public option, but even Lieberman's leverage was a function of the filibuster.

Posted by: fbacon2 | July 8, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse


"I'm angry at the lost opportunities of Obama's presidency..."

He's also had many large victories, and he's only been in office less than half a term.

" the Democratic and Republican corporate shills..."

Good. So help us get them out of there. No one said that getting decades worth of institutionalized corporatism out of our Government would be easy.

"...and at our totally broken government."

Here you've fallen for the Republican spin. Our Government isn't broken, the people in the government (esp. the GOP) are taking advantage of the system. So we fix the loopholes as best we can, and try to get honest people elected.

"I won't vote for any of them, except maybe at the local level."

I'm sure Pres. Obama will be able to fully live up to your expectations with less Democrats in Congress. If not, then I'm sure the GOPer who gets into the White House next time will.

Like it or not, Politics is a zero-sum game. Take a break from things for a bit if you need to (I have to do this as well), but then get back in the game.

Decisions are made by those who show up.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 8, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

@msmollyg: Greg wrote this is a more recent post...Meanwhile, no matter how much the Dems scream that the GOP is the "Party of No," the Dems' failure to get around GOP obstructionist tactics just demoralizes the Dem base by contributing to a sense that Dems are hapless and ineffectual.

Don't let the obstructive and destructive actions from the repubs kill your sense that things and govt can be better. REpubs are depending on your apathy and lack of motivation to stop even more of the progressive agenda. Prove them wrong and vote for dems this fall.

Posted by: srw3 | July 8, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

As a progressive, I am not going to allow repubs to scuttle all of the efforts that went into HCR, finreg, etc. by staying home in november. I don't have high hopes for a more progressive second term but I do have definite fears of what a republican president (or senate or house) could do to our country.

Posted by: srw3 | July 8, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

There is abolutely no proof that Senator Vitter ever slept with a prostitute. We do know that "president" obongo is a fruad, a terrorist, a major drug dealer, and absolutely unfit for office. I hope obongo get shot

Posted by: SavedGirl | July 8, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

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