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The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Olbermann will return, and gladness spreads across the land: The statement from MSNBC president Phil Griffin:

After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night's program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.

The speed of MSNBC's reversal shows how tenuous their case against Olbermann was from the outset. What's particularly surprising is that the network seems to have been caught completely off guard by the magnitude of the backlash to the original suspension and the P.R. disaster that resulted -- another sign of the folly of its continuing equivocation about the liberal identity that's been responsible for much of its success.

* Eric Cantor rips Pelosi minority leader bid The incoming No. 2 House GOP leader claims Nancy Pelosi's candidacy signals Dems didn't get the message from the voters, a sign Republicans may be laying the groundwork to blame Pelosi's continued leadership role -- and the unrepentant liberalism it represents -- for the inevitable breakdowns in bipartisanship to come next year.

* Pelosi's run has Halperin's blessing: Mark Halperin explains why her bid is "understandable, and in a way, justified," because she beat Republicans twice, got Obama's agenda passed, and has "reliably made fools out of those who underestimated her."

* But: The New York Times comes out against Pelosi's run, insisting that the minority leader is more of a communications gig, which doesn't match her skill set. This seems off point: The new minority leader's primary role will be to hold the line against repeal, something a squishy moderate might be less willing to do.

* The GOP strategy on Bush tax cuts comes into focus? Cantor comes out against extending the middle class and high end tax cuts for different periods of time, which Obama has hinted he might agree to.

And Lori Montgomery reports that Republicans may hold out for their preferred outcome, let Obama take the hit for letting all the cuts expire, and try for a permanent across the board extension when GOPers take over in January.

* Obama concedes passing health reform was "costly": In his interview last night with CBS, the President allowed that passing reform was "a little more costly than we expected," and adds a key point: GOP obstructionism led to a partisan standoff that turned the public against the process.

Obama's critics, obviously, will not see this as any kind of concession at all. They want him to admit that last week's results were a referendum on his policies and the big government liberalism underlying them.

* Health reform a major issue in 2012, too? The reason Dems and Republicans are agressively moving to define health reform's legacy now is not just preparation for the repeal war; it's also because it will form a key part of the 2012 GOP nominee's case against Obama.

* The Tea Party rubes are in for a rude shock, ctd.: Rand Paul boasts that the Tea Party is "co-opting Washington" -- then refuses to name a single government program he would cut.

* But Jim DeMint continues to promise the Tea Partyers the moon: He vows that Republicans will "defend" reform once the GOP takes over the House.

* And here's today's revelation of the day: Ross Douthat warns the GOP that merely saying "no" to big government, while effective as a political comeback strategy, "isn't a blueprint for governance," and that the onus is on them to prove they can lead.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | November 8, 2010; 8:39 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, 2012, Health reform, House Dems, House GOPers, Morning Plum, Political media, Senate Republicans, Tea Party  
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Next: Even with tax cuts, GOP appears willing to shoot the hostage

Comments

The Question for the democrats right now - and the question that democrats will be getting all over the country now - is "Do you think Obama is making irrational decisions?"

Obama has been making serious mistakes, and taking risks with his party's political positions which have been sure to damage the democratic party severly and threaten its long-term viability.

Perhaps this ill-advised and damaging overly-aggressive behavior can be traced to an inferiority complex, however it raises serious concerns as to whether a person with such a condition should be leading the nation.

If Obama's management of the democratic party is an indication, Obama should not be making decisions for the country.

In the area of national security this issue presents itself most acutely. Obama just may be displaying some serious personality disorders which prevent him from thinking clearly on the nation's issues.

Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

The case against Olbermann was hardly "tenuous" since he did not get permission from Griffin. At least bernielatham is gone for good.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Compare and Contrast

Assignment: Contrast Juan Williams' controversy with the Olbermann discussions over the past few days.

This whole thing rests on Partisanship. It is wrong to have a partisan-test to who gets to stay and who has to leave news organizations.

The defense of Olbermann was partisan based and this is getting ridiculous. Reasonable people are getting tired of all this partisan-based morality plays.

Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

claw:

"..at least Bernie Latham is gone."

I have to be honest and say that I am not glad he is gone. I was being sincere the other day when I said that I would miss him. He was entertaining despite his refusal to engage challenges directly and honestly, and isn't that why we are all here, to entertain ourselves? He provided a lot of fodder that will now be missing.

Posted by: ScottC3 | November 8, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Pelosi

The questions are not about those who "underestimated" her. The questions are not about Pelosi's abilities at all.

The ONLY question about Pelosi's abilities and performance revolve around WHY she did not OPPOSE Obama and stop him from pressing the health care bill.

The ONLY question about Pelosi is why, with her experience, did she not put the brakes on the wreckless and damaging decisions by Obama on health care. Pelosi could have at any time picked up the phone and told Obama that the House would not be calling up any votes on health care, and the issue would have been finished. And Pelosi would still have her majority and still be Speaker for the next session.

It is clear.

That is a serious question of judgement. It is not a question of ability

It is also a question of what is best for the democrats from a communications point of view. And at this point there is no doubt that the democrats need fresh faces on their message, if not a completely new message. From a Republican point of view, keep Pelosi and keep the same old tired Obama message which is just dragging down hiring and dragging down the economy.

Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Paul Krugman and Robert Samuelson are blaming China for our borrowing and spending problems again. Krugman wants government to borrow and spend more, he thinks that will make jobs happen, by bridging the gap in consumer demand with government demand. Samuelson wants the Chinese to stop saving so much and thinks the Communist Party should promote consumerism in China.

American voters sense what Krugman does not, no amount of borrowing will make jobs happen. Surely we would have seen some sign of that by now, since we've been borrowing heavily for years. And China as we've discussed, is doing fine, they don't need any advice on helping out the West. There is some history behind their feeling in this regard.

People keep saying forget manufacturing, we are a service economy now. To which I say, we'll if a country can have a service economy, then the health care bill will save us. We can all create and consume health care. After a day's work in a hospital, I can take my family to the doctor's office. Economies can't be based on people serving each other, somebody has to make stuff.

If we want the Chinese to be the people who make our stuff, we'd better understand, every time you buy something made in China, the country is borrowing part of the cost of that thing, they are not charging the full price up front, not so long as they are propping up the dollar.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 8, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Scott

Bernie was probably being paid by some democratic committee - the election is over and the office is getting disbanded.

This "family story" might just be some cover story to hide the fact that he was astroturf the whole time.

The Fix blog was populated with 8 - 10 paid democratic staffers at various times. It gets pretty obvious after a while.

.

Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Interesting story in the Post today which explains why HCR will never save even one dollar let alone 140 billion.

Provenge, a vaccine for advanced stage prostate cancer is awatiing final approval. It has shown to extend the lives of patients only 4 months but costs about $100,000. If approved Medicare coverage is almost automatic.

If I was in that situation would I want to take it? Possibly, although my sister's quality of life was not good for the time that chemotherapy for her pancreatic cancer extended it. However given that this is a drug for older American males, and they are the most consistent voting bloc, it will be impossible for Medicare NOT to pay for this drug.

Nothing that is in the bill will even remotely address this concern, not insurance markets, not "Medicare reform" which is about payments to providers and will never happen.

End of life treatments and transplants will only increse exponentially. The inclusion of those with pre-existing conditions, those MOST likely to require medical treatment, while a huge benefit to individuals and morally good for society, will cost far beyond any current estimates as treatment choices continue to expand

Posted by: 54465446 | November 8, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

I just read a long speech Bill Moyers gave at Boston University just prior the last weeks election. It's really about the plutocracy and the negative on our economic stability. One of the problems we're facing is that they, the wealthy elite, don't really need the rest of us anymore.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"So the answer to the question: “Do the Rich Need the Rest of America?” is as stark as it is ominous: Many don’t. As they form their own financial culture increasingly separated from the fate of everyone else, it is “hardly surprising,” Frank and Lind concluded, “ that so many of them should be so hostile to paying taxes to support the infrastructure and the social programs that help the majority of the American people.”

You would think the rich might care, if not from empathy, then from reading history. Ultimately gross inequality can be fatal to civilization. In his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, the Pulitzer Prize-winning anthropologist Jared Diamond writes about how governing elites throughout history isolate and delude themselves until it is too late. He reminds us that the change people inflict on their environment is one of the main factors in the decline of earlier societies. For example: the Mayan natives on the Yucatan peninsula who suffered as their forest disappeared, their soil eroded, and their water supply deteriorated. Chronic warfare further exhausted dwindling resources. Although Mayan kings could see their forests vanishing and their hills eroding, they were able to insulate themselves from the rest of society. By extracting wealth from commoners, they could remain well-fed while everyone else was slowly starving. Realizing too late that they could not reverse their deteriorating environment, they became casualties of their own privilege. Any society contains a built-in blueprint for failure, Diamond warns, if elites insulate themselves from the consequences of their decisions, separated from the common life of the country."

http://www.truth-out.org/bill-moyers-money-fights-hard-and-it-fights-dirty64766

Posted by: lmsinca | November 8, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

shrink:

As you know, Krugman is considered a newspaper columnist, not a serious economist whose opinion has weight. The only people who pay attention to him are those who never engage in business. (like those in the administration?)

Posted by: 54465446 | November 8, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans are happy that there is a split government at this point - and they can stretch out the health care issue through another election cycle.


The truth is that the democrats are fooling themselves by looking at the polls.

The issue-by-issue analysis is deceiving, because the costs are not addressed. The democrats have refused to put realistic cost figures on their health care issues, and they have fooled themselves. The American People will slam the brakes on the health care plan when the actual costs come up in the press.


Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

thanks for that link, lmsinca. great stuff.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 8, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I agree with shrink about the folly of the "service economy" as the sole basis for national productivity. Imsinca's dire comment at 9:27 AM could only become a reality if we buy into the notion that America will no longer be a technological innovator and producer.

If BHO really said all that stuff about the tax cut repeal, he is following the same course he followed before: allow the Ds in Congress to maintain the "D" position, then attempt to mediate for Congress. This did not work when he had a D majority in both houses. He must now see himself as negotiator, not mediator. He must not offer trial balloons, although he is actually willing to compromise, until and unless they are invited by overtures from the other negotiator. There is no short cut here. Patience is a virtue in negotiation. I once negotiated with a single union local for two years, and that is no record, my friends. When the other side is easy, you can time concessions for 4:45 PM which they will take in order to leave the room at 5:00 PM with a deal. Neither side in DC is easy, or even a unified side, so he cannot expect a deal by 5PM. His veto is a hole card that can be played again and again. So he has time and room to negotiate hard. The reported overtures indicate he does not know the basics.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | November 8, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

No, ScottC3, I am not here to be entertained.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

54465446 at 9:27 AM

Sounds like the democrats are getting ready to fire-up the death panels.

For a while now, we have heard what a crazy this idea is, but there the democrats come out again - deciding who gets to live and who has to die.


Obama and his pal Rahm's brother are behind "death panels" - and they are ready to go.

The result is sure to be a PRIVATE health insurance industry for the rich - which goes around the death panel decisions.

Meanwhile, the middle class will be stuck with Obama's high-priced and expensive health care plans which provide little health benefits when you need it - when you are going to die.


.

Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

numbers, HCR would save lots of money, but we didn't get HCR; apologies to Billy Idol, with a rebel yell, we got more, more, more. When my brother in law dies of leukemia years ago, he decided to go natural since his prognosis was grim in any case. He tried various remedies. He died fast, relatively painlessly and cheap. Some day this country will confront rationing, or rational allocation algorithms, until that time, there will be no HCR, just more.

imsinca, the Mayans probably thought they were operating a "service economy", since they were getting lots of service. Perhaps the Romans thought that too, not to mention the English, since everything they used was made or grown out in the provinces, out in the colonies, somewhere else, by the time they collapsed.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 8, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

No one really knows what happened to the Mayans -

But it was certainly their version of the democratic party, and their insistence on high-priced health care bills.


.

Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"The new minority leader's primary role will be to hold the line against repeal, something a squishy moderate might be less willing to do."

She doesn't have the votes anymore to hold the line on anything. She's a fundraiser now. But I agree that she's the best choice for the job.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | November 8, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

"At least bernielatham is gone for good."

In all seriousness, clawrence, you should just ST*U about Bernie already. He's gone - let it go.

I understand that everyone disagrees around here and not everyone likes everyone else, but you don't have to make a special point to be such an a*hole.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 8, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The Tea Party has yet to complete its work. They understand that the democrats still have the Senate and Obama is still in office.

So the Tea Party has to work harder next time to push out the remaining liberals so that the real budget cutting can begin.


Most of the programs were jammed into the budgets - Federal State and County - by the democrats, then the unions gradually raised the costs of those programs through secret negotiations masked by attorney-client priviledge.

That is the game -

The truth is the future of the nation depends on rolling-back the excess and the ridiculousness of all of this. The democrats on this blog understand the "service" economy may not be as dynamic and productive - but what about the "union economy" - which is worse than the "service economy" in almost every respect ???

Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I thought this was interesting as well. Some of you may know I was pretty heavily invested (time not money) in making sure Prop 23 out here failed. Apparently this group gave nearly $500k to promote the proposition. A group of individuals approached them with the sole purpose of funneling money through their non-profit to finance prop. 23. The most money they had ever donated to any cause before was $4000 and they only have four board members and one employee. They're being investigated by the IRS now as campaigning cannot be the number one endeavor for these types of organizations.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"According to the Chronicle, “One of the largest single contributions to the campaign for a November ballot measure … has come from [the Adam Smith Foundation] an obscure, Missouri-based conservative organization that ended 2009 with just $109.”

The Chronicle’s Buchanan discovered, by going through the organization’s tax filings, that the foundation “has received $93,500 in contributions over the past three years…. It has made some small donations to conservative groups in Missouri during that time.”

Steven Maviglio, a spokesperson for the campaign against Prop. 23, told the Chronicle that his group “had no idea who in state of Missouri or anywhere on the planet has given a half a million dollars to our opponents.”

Meanwhile, John Elliott, the president and director of the ASF, wouldn’t reveal where the contributions to his organization came from. He did say that about 10 individuals chipped in and Elliott characterized them as “an alliance of like-minded individuals who had this issue as an interest."

http://blog.buzzflash.com/contributor/3538

Posted by: lmsinca | November 8, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Bwahahahahahah! And the sellout begins:

"If the tea party is expecting Rubio to plant its yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag in the hallowed Senate chamber, it’s in for a letdown. This career politician who once carried the state party’s American Express card defines himself first and foremost as a Republican.[...]"

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/11/08/it-was-all-an-accident/

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 8, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

schrodingerscat at 9:56 AM


SCRATCH ! Catfight ! are you ready to start pulling hair now ?


Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

markn austin:

There isn't much time to negotiate on the tax cuts. We're 7 weeks away from an automatic big tax increase, in the middle of 10% unemployment.

This is one wherre the gun is to all of our heads, not like HCR.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 8, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

schrodingerscat, no.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

claw:

"No, ScottC3, I am not here to be entertained."

Why, then?

Posted by: ScottC3 | November 8, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Mark_in_Austin-
"His veto is a hole card that can be played again and again. So he has time and room to negotiate hard. The reported overtures indicate he does not know the basics."

I'm not sure you play the veto card on middle class tax cuts. Sure there would be two ways to spin it: 1) Republicans like the rich so much they are willing to sacrifice the middle class cuts or 2) Democrats hate the rich so much they are willing to sacrifice the middle class cuts.
But given the mood of this country and the inadequacies of the Democratic Party, I would bet #2 ends up winning the day.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 8, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: "As they form their own financial culture increasingly separated from the fate of everyone else, it is 'hardly surprising,' Frank and Lind concluded, 'that so many of them should be so hostile to paying taxes to support the infrastructure and the social programs that help the majority of the American people.'"

Moyers is (and presumably Frank and Lind are) so far left he's coming back around to radical libertarianism, and is essentially endorsing the Randian notion that Atlas is going to Shrug and the wealthy (except for, presumably, most movie stars and athletes, most non-talk radio entertainment figures, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen, Paul Allen, etc., etc) are going to check out and live in a gate community with Glenn Beck and buy everything from each other (but whose going to clean the houses?) with gold ingots.

First, I haven't seen the stats, but I'm pretty sure that the wealthy, most of the time, tend to break along a similar partisan divide--there are many, many wealthy liberals. As there are many wealthy conservatives. Wealthy conservatives may enjoy the advantage, but not enough to forever alienate Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, et al.

It's at odds with reality. Unless we're assuming most wealthy conservatives get that way by being stupid, then a huge investment in a small cut in their personal income taxes (which, being super rich, they can easily avoid, anyway) doesn't make any sense. Nor does it make any sense for them to actively want to support an angry, ill, unemployed and uneducated underclass. And how many of them are really going to want to pay for their own Interstate system? Or add 100% to the cost of every flight of the private jet because they have to pay for their own airports and air traffic controllers, etc? Or double or triple their private security because there are no police and no armies? Pay for their own fire departments? The Vanderbilts did (as did many robber-barons) but that was then and this is now.

And how many of these very wealthy people make their money off of the middle class? If there's no one to shop at Wal-Mart, how does that benefit the heirs to the Walton fortune? What happens to Apple when only 1% of the population can afford an iPad?

"if elites insulate themselves from the consequences of their decisions, separated from the common life of the country"

Like politicians in Washington (frequently liberals) who often exempt themselves for the requirements of their own legislation? Or behave as they are above the law (especially tax law)? Not to mention, are almost all either rich when they get there, or rich within a few years of getting there, and thus are well-insulated from the pedestrian day-to-day concerns of your average middle class tax payer, or small business owner?

And people can be reasonably concerned about the size and scope of government without wanting to starve the poor or let the cities burn.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

It disappoints me that no media ever ask the GOP what exact part of Government they plan to cut. Is it the FDA that keep our food safe and makes sure the right pill is in the bottle, the EPA that keep our air and water safe?

Posted by: soapm | November 8, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

To debate.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

"schrodingerscat, no. "

It takes a person of remarkable moral heft and intellectual honesty to continue to berate someone that is no longer around.

Real classy.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 8, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

NoVAHockey at 9:55 AM

You are correct that Nancy Pelosi's new position really doesn't give her the votes or the powers to "hold the line" on anything. The House rules do not have anything like the filibuster in the Senate.


I like the filibuster in the Senate, and I have said that when both parties have controlled the chamber.

I wonder if Harry Reid still wants to repeal the filibuster, now that the House Republicans have the control of the House. Such a repeal would really not improve Reid's position very much because he would still have to negotiate and compromise with the Republicans.

It is possible the House Republicans will restore more of the balance between the Committee Chairman and the leadership. I am more of a traditionalist on this subject. Strong Committee Chairmen are important "checks and balances" and they might even bring back more of the importance of Conference Committees.

Once the Committee Chairman experienced diminished powers in relation to the leadership, the Conference Committees lost influence as well.

Was there EVER a Conference Committee on health care?

It is a new world out there for Obama - and few people have any idea why Obama is out of the country right now, instead of getting on top of these issues.

.

Posted by: BeautifulBeginning | November 8, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

soapm, it disappoints me that you didn't hear Eric Cantor on MSNBC outlining the $100 billion in cuts by simply rolling back the federal budget to FY 2008 levels.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: Interesting story about the Prop 23 donations. Please keep us posted, if you're able.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 8, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

@bernie: He is an impressive rhetorician, and (dare I say it?) a skilled propagandist for his ideological point of view. Like any good rhetorician or debater, he is skilled at pressing the right kinds of buttons on his debating opponents (but doing so well in the scope of the rules of the debate)--and if you intend to discuss issues, or ever being in a position of having to negotiate something--it's great to have a bernie to rehearse with, in an environment where there are few real consequences.

He can also be profoundly insulting while blithely behaving as if he had not just said any such thing. Which is a great talent, and one worthy of respect, not derision.

If your goal is to really debate, clawrence, you could do a lot worse than Bernie. Indeed, I'd be willing to say he is an artist in the medium.

And, unlike some other posters I could mention, he generally (though not always) stayed on topic, but at least varied his OT stuff in interesting ways, and did not put in multiple carriage returns or make his points in all caps.

@ashot: "'m not sure you play the veto card on middle class tax cuts. Sure there would be two ways to spin it: 1) Republicans like the rich so much they are willing to sacrifice the middle class cuts or 2) Democrats hate the rich so much they are willing to sacrifice the middle class cuts."

Or you could assume that neither party really gives a sh** about the middle class. Based on their behavior re: this issue, that's my conclusion. Moyers may think it's the rich that are out of touch, but based on both sides approach to this issue, I'd argue that the folks most out of touch (and well-insulated from reality, except once every 2 or 4 or 6 years) are politicians within the DC beltway.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"Was there EVER a Conference Committee on health care?"

No -- because of the threat of filibuster, the House had to pass the Senate legislation as is. They worked out some compromises through the reconciliation process, which is not subject to filibuster. So they passed the health reform bill. and then immediately passed a reconciliation bill that amended the former.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | November 8, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

An even better, more aggressive approach:

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2010/10/how-to-cut-343-billion-from-the-federal-budget

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

@soapm: "It disappoints me that no media ever ask the GOP what exact part of Government they plan to cut. Is it the FDA that keep our food safe and makes sure the right pill is in the bottle, the EPA that keep our air and water safe?"

That's a false choice. It's not "all or nothing". Suspending pay raises or cutting back the budget for new building construction or replacing 5 year old vehicles or remodeling an old building--tbat doesn't end the FDA or the EPA (which we somehow survived without before it was created by Richard Nixon). Suspending new hires does not mean that the FDA cannot continue to protect food at the levels it did last year.

And let's say we do something radical, and actually roll back government to 2008 levels. Really? Things have change so much in 3 years that we can't live with the government spending even a dime less than it did in 2009 or 2010? We're not talking about going back to 1980 or 1940. Just 2008. There's no rational argument by which you can say going back to 2008 levels of spending will get rid of the FDA or the EPA or anything else. If it existed, and managed to be funded in 2008, then the same would be true in 2011 or 2012.

I understand that cutting government spending is difficult and can involve hard choices. Arguments against it, however, don't have to all be false choices and straw men.

What spending do they cut? How about every agency and program has to do with 2% or 3% less, instead of an automatic increase? I've had to make ends meet after a 65% drop in income in the past--I think your average government agency could live with a modest cut in the budget. Won't end the EPA, the FDA, the FCC, the SEC, or the FBI.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Kevin, I'm referring to a legitimate debate where each side backs up assertions and deals with the other side's facts. Bernie would have just had points deducted in a real debate format.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

@Kevin- "Or you could assume that neither party really gives a sh** about the middle class. Based on their behavior re: this issue, that's my conclusion."

Totally agree.
Why, other than pure incompetence, haven't the Dems been able to more successfully point out the incongruity between the alleged fiscal concerns of Republicans and insistence on making these tax cuts permanent? I'm not sure the public would necessarily buy The Laffer Curve as the explanation.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 8, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

@schrodingerscat: "It takes a person of remarkable moral heft and intellectual honesty to continue to berate someone that is no longer around."

Now, now. What better place to talk about someone than behind their back?

In the comments section of a blog, it has the added possibility that they will stop by and read and, despite having foresworn participation, and feel obligated to return fire. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

kevin

When I see conservatives in Congress, including some Dems back away from repealing the tiny bit of financial regulations and consumer protections this Congress squeaked through as well as ending their adamant support of extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, then I will take your view seriously. You can add in prosecution of the creators and benefactors of the ponzi scheme that became a housing bubble and I will take you even more seriously. Those people you mentioned who are extremely wealthy liberals are a minuscule drop in the bucket.

As shrink has said we're headed for austerity, we're already there in most ways, and it's going to get worse. The top 10% will continue to insulate themselves from this hardship, bet on that.

I have reached the conclusion that the only way to fight against the plutocracy now is through grassroots organizations and although I still support the President and admire him in many ways I believe his hands are tied, and what's more I think he knows it. I will continue to vote and campaign but most of my resources will go into grassroots efforts to protect the middle class from the worst that is being forced upon us.

It's not a political game of football, it's not a game at all.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 8, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

claw:

"To debate."

Sure, but towards what end? You aren't forced to debate, nor (I assume) are you being paid to debate. Presumably you enjoy it. I can't imagine what else is being accomplished by our time spent here.

Posted by: ScottC3 | November 8, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Scott, I'm more concerned about convincing those who do not comment here. Maybe if they see over and over how the liberals don't really have the right answers, it will finally sink in to stop voting them into office.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"Won't end the EPA, the FDA, the FCC, the SEC, or the FBI."

Actually, I'd eliminate the FCC entirely. When there were 4 channels I suppose it made sense. But that's hopelessly obsolete now. Gov should auction off the broadcast spectrum and let the new owners treat it like any other commodity that can be bought or sold. And it's function as a censor seem to change constantly.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | November 8, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe if they see over and over how the liberals don't really have the right answers, it will finally sink in to stop voting them into office"

And taking cheap shots at a commenter who no longer participates in the blog will sure get the job done.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 8, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Kevin:

"I'd be willing to say he is an artist in the medium. "

Really? I'm not at all sure how refusing to engage in a debate on the grounds that one's counterpart is unwilling to be "educated", which was a pretty standard ploy, represents debating artistry. (BTW, I agree with much else that you said, but the above was a bit too much.)

Posted by: ScottC3 | November 8, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Scott, I'm more concerned about convincing those who do not comment here. Maybe if they see over and over how the liberals don't really have the right answers, it will finally sink in to stop voting them into office.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 10:41 AM

Repeat over and over and it becomes reality, like this:

February 24, 2009, when, after four glowing weeks in office, Obama delivered his first, triumphant, address to a joint session of Congress. Two weeks earlier, he had signed the $700 billion stimulus bill. This was his speech defending it.

That was the one in which Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, looking like a cross between a deer in the headlights and a 10-year-old delivering a prize school report, delivered the Republican response. You remember! He singled out for excoriation the $140 million in stimulus spending "for something called 'volcano monitoring'"; this happened to be about a month before a volcano erupted, releasing a 60,000 foot cloud of ash near—dot dot dot—Wasilla, Alaska.

On CNN, David Brooks followed Jindal. He called the governor's "stale, government-is-the problem" rhetoric "a disaster for the Republican Party," and excoriated those who insisted on hugging tight to it as "insane." The people appeared to agree. In a snap poll, 92 percent of those surveyed had a positive reaction to Obama's speech—68 percent a very positive reaction. Only 8 percent had a negative reaction.

The next morning I tuned in to Rush Limbaugh. I was fascinated to see how the hell he might respond.

Like a deer in the headlights? Not quite. The first caller, though a self-professed ditto-head, took objection to Rush's argument that Obama had revealed himself in the speech as a tax-and-spend liberal. The caller quoted Obama's words: "Because of this plan, 95 percent of the working households in America will receive a tax cut –- a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1." (Which was true: People did.)

Rush responded, fluidly and without a gram of doubt. "Pay no attention to what Obama says. He means the opposite in most cases. What he says is irrelevant."

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-11-06/obamas-tax-cut-how-rush-limbaugh-misled-the-country/?cid=hp:mainpromo2

Right claw?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 8, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

And let's say we do something radical, and actually roll back government to 2008 levels. Really? Things have change so much in 3 years that we can't live with the government spending even a dime less than it did in 2009 or 2010?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

---

Perhaps you hadn't noticed, but there was a small economic downturn. I'm not being facetious here, well not just facetious.

Knock on effects include a substantial number of people have retired and/or gone onto such programs as Medicaid. More money is needed for AFDC.

So, yes, things HAVE changed since 2008.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 8, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

LOL.

This little drawing reminds me of clawrence12 if what he says is how he truly feels.

http://blogs.technet.com/photos/gray_knowlton/images/2998979/original.aspx

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 8, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

All, nice new post from Adam Serwer on the Bush tax cuts fight:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/even_with_tax_cuts_republicans.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 8, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

schrodingerscat, if I have the right answers all of the time, I am allowed a few cheap shots. A much different case would be "all cheap shots, all of the time." Besides, what I had noted originally is that Olbermann is coming back but at least bernielatham is gone for good (assuming that he stays true to his word). I'd much rather have Olbermann silenced.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

@pragmaticagain-

That's a fascinating bit of information. My how things have changed. It sure seems like health care is why.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 8, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Dangit, your new blog entry undercut my cartoon posting! Now nobody will see it.

We're talking some serious stuff here!

:)

Posted by: mikefromArlington | November 8, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Greg: You might want to check on that poor little hamster who works so hard on that wheel to keep your site chugging along. Commenting is molasses-like slow this morning and I've been getting tons of moveable-type errors.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 8, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: "As shrink has said we're headed for austerity,"

I hope not. I think small reductions in spending and government growth could potential help head off austerity. No guarantees, though.

"we're already there in most ways"

In regards to what? Employment rates? Because we've been going the opposite directions, as far as government and entitlement spending is concerned.

"and it's going to get worse. The top 10% will continue to insulate themselves from this hardship, bet on that."

Oh, of course. Wouldn't you?

"When I see conservatives in Congress, including some Dems back away from repealing the tiny bit of financial regulations and consumer protections this Congress squeaked through as well as ending their adamant support of extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, then I will take your view seriously."

How would you characterize my view? That's kind of like me saying, when J-Lo finally admits she can never find another man like Ben, I'll take your view seriously. I may mean it, but I'm not sure what it has to do with the price of tea in China. ;)

I'm not defending any particular individual or party in government, re: Moyers. I thought he (and Frank and Lind) were focused on the abstract "wealthy", with the implication that most were conservative, visa-vi the size and scope of government, and that they were on the cusp of detaching themselves from society as a whole, and about to go off and lead their own isolated, Galtian lives while the rest of lives hand-to-mouth lives, or became hobos. ;)

"Those people you mentioned who are extremely wealthy liberals are a minuscule drop in the bucket."

If you say so. I'm not so sure.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse


You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check http://bit.ly/bandYw If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: kevinmarlo07 | November 8, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Kevin-

I think you should stick to making "Troll Hunters"-

"EPA...which we somehow survived without before Nixon created it". Oy. So, you think the government as a representative of the people has no business protecting the environment? We should leave it up to industry?

Or, are you being ironic again?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | November 8, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

"schrodingerscat, if I have the right answers all of the time,....."

Then you're obviously not here to debate....you're here to lecture.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 8, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

No, I'm obviously here to WIN the debate.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"No, I'm obviously here to WIN the debate."

Let me guess...you decide who wins.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 8, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Not at all.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

More importantly, ashot, claw is here to decide the terms of the debate and is not at all interested in whether it is a fair or honest debate. Winning is all that matters, truth be damned.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 8, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Think of the benefits, Chuck! Residents along the Cuyahoga River could warm themselves with bonfires on the river during winter months. Acid rain will give ground water that nice tang. Mountain vistas need not be cluttered by anything like trees. Who needs eagles when you've got pigeons?

Ah. Back to the Future.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 8, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Pragmaticagain-
"More importantly, ashot, claw is here to decide the terms of the debate and is not at all interested in whether it is a fair or honest debate. Winning is all that matters, truth be damned."

Maybe it's my legal background, but I don't see how many of these debates can be won or lost. Evidence can be brought to support one side or the other, but it's pretty much impossible to "prove" many of the points made here. I certainly don't see that much productivity in attempting to win many of these arguments anyway and such a mindset results in focus almost exclusively on differences.

In the end, if claw goes to sleep having won a debate on a given day, what do I care? I can't control that sort of thing and either way, I'll be smarter for having been exposed to some new ideas/thoughts even if I disagree with them.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 8, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

This is my last post, so I just want to say thank you to everyone who has ever responded to me.

This forum's greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses are the same . . . it's intimacy. It's like having a bar conversation among old friends. We speak in platitudes and talk endlessly about each other. It's fun in person, but I need something different in my online experience.

I just need a more fact based debate than we engage in here. I don't mind trolls, and I don't care if you agree with me or not. I'm just starved for any kind of argument supported by researched information.

There's no right or wrong here. I just need a different reward for my time.

Remember inflation-proof your life because it's coming and the Fed wants it to come!

Best of luck to all, you've been fun.

Posted by: 54465446 | November 8, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

"No, I'm obviously here to WIN the debate"

Well, what's to "win" or even "debate" if you have "the right answers all of the time"?

I'm so glad to hear that someone has the solutions to pressing problems such as global poverty, hunger, disease, Middle East peace,....hell - even the grand unified theory that eluded that mental midget Einstein. Whew...it's such a relief....

Posted by: schrodingerscat | November 8, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Sean, sorry to see you go.

Posted by: clawrence12 | November 8, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

@ChuckInDenton: "Kevin- I think you should stick to making 'Troll Hunters'-"

A little pet peeve of mine, but what kind of thing is that to say to somebody? When your wife or significant other expresses a contrary opinion, or says something you regard as incorrect, do you tell her/him that "I think you should stick to bl**ing me"? I mean, unless you're Mel Gibson?

"I think you should stick to doing that which pleases me, but avoid expressing any opinions that suggest you have any individuality, aside from servicing my needs. All right? All right, then."

"EPA...which we somehow survived without before Nixon created it".

Is there anything about that statement that is not true? Humanity had survived, before the existence of the EPA, for hundreds of thousands of years, in some form. And the country had survived for 194 years without the EPA.

We also survived more than 230 year without the iPhone, but that doesn't mean I don't like my iPhone.

"So, you think the government as a representative of the people has no business protecting the environment?"

If I had meant that, that's what I would have said. Since I didn't say that, you can safely conclude that that is not what I meant.

"We should leave it up to industry?"

Should the fox guard the hen house?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

@54465446:

Jeeze! And you're one of my favorites. Sorry I don't have time to do more research for you, when I'm out protecting the people from trolls! ;)

Seriously, your absence will be noted, and not (like some people's) because of sudden reduction of condescension and snark. ;)

It will be the noticeable degradation in the quality of the conversation.

In related news, I'm thinking I'm just gonna give up on the Troll Hunter. The whole point was to keep folks like 54465446 and ruk and (to some extent) even bernie around. But they're all leaving anyway (for reasons, except for ruk, who was just lazy, not troll related). I'm gonna turn off the formatting tags (because using an underscore for italics screws up web links with underscores in them, like WaPo article links, for example, and update, and then I think that's it.

If anybody (in the future) wants to pay actual money to reformat certain websites via userscripts, just let me know. That I can support. ;)

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm...I am going to start blaming myself for this sudden exodus of good posters.
I joint and suddenly everyone leaves.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 8, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

54465446

I'm sorry to see you leave as well. I'm a policy person actually more than a political person, although politics is the way to enact policy. I like the hefty discussions you brought to the table even though I realize I'm probably not as informed as you on many issues. I also appreciate the advice re inflation, I'm certain you're right.

Kevin

The main reason I'm still here is because of the Troll Hunter. We may not agree politically on that much and I know you don't really believe in the plutocracy charges, but it doesn't mean we can't agree on other things.

IMO the banks own the place and until we put the government back in the hands of the middle class not much will change in the income disparity we're experiencing. And it's not just conservatives who benefit from the situation as it is now.

The United States should be a country working for the benefit of everyone and we stopped doing that about 30 years ago. We're now seeing the results.

Cutting a few government programs around the edges won't do much to change the dynamics other than making it worse in some ways because we will focus on those minor cuts rather than the real structural problems we have. I'd say losing 58,000 teachers across the nation in Sept. is both austerity and a structural problem.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 8, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: " I'd say losing 58,000 teachers across the nation in Sept. is both austerity and a structural problem."

Well, some of that has to be a question of what money is spent on.

At the same time, I work in a school system. While a lot of money is spent on teachers, it's also spent on other things. While the folks in the system care very much what their budgets are, the rest of the community isn't going to really notice much if budgets in management and administration and infrastructure and support get slashed.

The best things to cut if you want to get, say, a property tax increase, or shake down the city council in some other way, will be teachers (and perhaps purchases of new books, or something like that). It's not just a matter of poor local economies resulting in less tax revenue, thus making it "impossible" to keep all the teachers on staff.

This isn't an illegitimate strategy. Attempts have been made in systems (including ours) to cut back administration, management, support staff and so on, instead of teachers. What happens is, administration and management and support, when it comes down to it, either support the students, support the teachers, or support the people who support them.

Even so, there is a lot of money in an local government that could go to the school system that does not. That includes money for community projects (Memphis has, for years, spent millions yearly on a stupid pyramid shaped stadium that had an effective working lifespan of about 10 years, just for one example; the multi-multi million dollar trolley that has always and continues to operate at a deficit is another example) and parks and recreation and so on and so forth. And usually lots of pet projects from local politicians and council members. Which are not necessarily illegitimate, either. Might be that one councilman thinks we really need to clean up debris in a local river that might lead to flooding in a big storm, and so on. But might-maybe-oneday-would-be-nice are not cudgels you can browbeat the citizens and other politicians with. Taking away school books and teachers, that can get people's attention.

But . . . I'll just say, I hope things get better. Whoever is right, and whoever wins a given election, I hope none of us fail and we all succeed! Not likely, I know (I am a cynic), but I'm still hoping for the best. I'd prefer we avoid Greek-style austerity.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 8, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The wingnuts have invaded Greg's blog today. That's the way to win! Leave nasty comments. heh

Posted by: carolerae48 | November 8, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Kevin-

Then, what exactly did you mean?
-The EPA serves no purpose? No, you asked said tha the hen shouldn't guard the henhouse.
-We can survive w/o the EPA? No doubt but, with an environment substantially altered for the worse. As imperfect as it is, I'd rather have something standing in between industry and an environment that cannot protect itself.

So, it appears to me you have argued both sides of the case.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | November 8, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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