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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 01/ 7/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* White House talking points on Bill Daley: The White House is distributing a set of talking points to outside allies -- sent over by a source -- on how to sell the Bill Daley pick:

Talking Points: Bill Daley

* Bill Daley brings with him tremendous experience, strong values and a forward-looking vision to this White House. He will be critical to the President's mission of growing our economy and moving America forward.

* From his time as President Clinton's Commerce Secretary, Bill Daley has developed a profound awareness of how our systems of government and politics work. And his service in the private sector leading major corporations has given him a deep understanding of how to create jobs and grow our economy.

*The President is convinced that Bill Daley's leadership will benefit this White House as we work to confront the challenges facing the American people; he looks forward to working with him for years to come.

Politico, which first mentioned the talking points this morning, says they're a sign that Obama recognizes he needs someone with the right sort of skill set to navigate a new and much more treacherous political landscape dominated by House Repubicans on offense. That's a bit at odds with most interpretations of the Daley pick, which have focused more on the ideological implications of the choice.

* The first big battle: Delegitimizing the CBO? Something to watch for: The papers this morning are filled with stories about how House Republicans have rejected the Congressional Budget Office's finding that repealing health reform would add $230 billion to the deficit over 10 years. As Sam Stein notes, this may signal a larger trend -- broader movement by Republicans to push the CBO out of its once-sacrosanct role in the Capitol's legislative battles.

Indeed, House Republicans responded to the CBO with a report of their own challenging the CBO's conclusions and reiterating their political description of health reform as a "budget-busting, job-killing health care law." Expect the GOP-CBO divide to become particularly pronounced if the CBO returns more dire predictions about the impact of GOP initiatives on the deficit.

* And boy are those Republicans on message with this "job killer" stuff: Stephen Pearlstein marvels at the GOP's message discipline, and tries his damndest to kill the ubiquitous GOP talking point that everything Dems do is a job killer.

* The debate over the Constitution is a good thing: More good commentary from Dahlia Lithwick about yesterday's selective reading of the Constitution and how it fell short of showcasing its legacy as a flawed-but-evolving document that is owned by no American.

As I've been saying endlessly, it's turning out that the GOP's reading had an upside: It has given liberals an opportunity to make their own case about the Constitution's true significance, and to undercut the idea that contemporary conservatives and Tea Partyers somehow have more of a claim on the founding document than the rest of us do. I see no reason to scoff at what happened. This has been an argument worth having, and here's hoping it continues.

* Tea Party comedy around the Constitution: Relatedly, Dana Milbank makes an interesting point:

The idea of reading the Constitution aloud was generated by the Tea Party as a way to re-affirm lawmakers' fealty to the framers, but in practice it did the opposite. In deciding to omit objectionable passages that were later altered by amendment, the new majority jettisoned "originalist" and "constructionist" beliefs and created -- dare it be said? -- a "living Constitution" pruned of the founders' missteps. Nobody's proud of the three-fifths compromise, but how can we learn from our founding if we aren't honest about it?

* Senate Dem reformers keep pushing: The latest target of the reform-minded Dems elected in 2006 and 2008: Loosening the grip that the "old bulls" have on powerful committee chairmanships. Keep pushing, guys.

* Trouble in Tea Party paradise: GOP Rep. Paul Ryan gently breaks the news to the Tea Partyers:

"Will the debt ceiling be raised? Does it have to be raised? Yes."

* The DNC attack line against House GOP: "Broken promises." The DNC is out with a new web video compilation of media figures hitting the House GOP for breaking their "Pledge to America" promises right out of the gate, framing the Dem message heading into the first of many battles over budget cuts, the deficit and taxes.

* White flight a huge problem for Dems in 2012? Ronald Brownstein has a sobering analysis of new exit poll data showing in new detail that whites are hostile to Obama and the Dem agenda in numbers that could have serious implications for 2012.

Also interesting, in the above link: David Axelrod, in an interview, acknowledges that Obama must "reset" the public's view of Obama's sense of the proper role of the Federal government.

* Moderate Dems doing the right thing on health repeal? It turns out moderate Dems are not backing repeal in large numbers.

* Counterintuitive take of the day: Jon Walker tries to debunk the conventional wisdom that Dems are preordained to lose the Senate in 2012.

* William Daley already putting his stamp on White House: For those of you who care about internal White House personnel maneuvering and tea-leaf reading, Ed Henry has a pretty good explanation of who's doing what inside the reconfigured White House.

* And the 2012 GOP hopefuls continue tiptoeing around Palin: Tim Pawlenty, mulling a 2012 GOP presidential faceoff against Sarah Palin, aptly acknowledges that she's a "force of nature," another sign of how carefully the 2012 hopefuls have to tread around the 'Cuda and her massive following.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | January 7, 2011; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Health reform, House Dems, House GOPers, Morning Plum, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, White House, deficit  
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Next: Pursuing racial division

Comments

Just remember: Obama is NOT triangulating.

"Obama to name Sperling head of National Economic Council"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/07/AR2011010701653.html?hpid=topnews

"Obama Plan Aims to Ease Mexican Trucking Ban"

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/business/07trade.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

"The first big battle: Delegitimizing the CBO?"

If they can't find a neutral party to establish the facts, gridlock is assured.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

In terms of "white flight", those numbers are exit polling from 2010 which may not have bearing in 2012.

It is really "its the economy, stupid". If the economy is improving then Obama will do well. If it is not then he won't.

In terms of Daley, the BIG difference between Daley and Rahm is that people LIKE Daley. He fits with Obama's "no drama Obama" ethos while Rahm pushed people's buttons the wrong way.

In terms of Gibbs, Gibbs will do FANTASTIC as OUTSIDE attack dog against Republicans. I always thought that that was what Gibbs does best but he is constrained as the press secretary to go really at it. He won't be in his new roll.

Posted by: maritza1 | January 7, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

The notion of the "living constitution" has NOTHING to do with amendments or superseded portions. It is a theory of INTERPRETATION.

Proponents argue that the words of the Constitution should be read to mean whatever we think they should mean today, based on notions like "evolving standards" and current societal attitudes. It is thus a theory that the text has no fixed meanings.

Milbank is just the most recent liberal hack to take up the echo-chamber talking point. This statement is simply wrong, and neither he nor Greg nor the rest of the echo chorus can be dumb enough not to know it: "In deciding to omit objectionable passages that were later altered by amendment, the new majority jettisoned "originalist" and "constructionist" beliefs and created -- dare it be said? -- a "living Constitution" pruned of the founders' missteps."

First, they didn't omit "objectionable" passages. They omitted all the superseded ones, which are no longer in effect and thus no longer relevant to legislators' dutie.

Second, omitting them had NOTHING to do with "originalism" versus "living constitution" blather. Yet again, those are theories about INTERPRETATION of the text.

I guess it is just too much ever to expect liberals to stop lying and have an honest debate.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

For Imsinca and others who, like me, see that the Democratic Party moving in the wrong direction and are looking for an alternative. I have telephoned the Green Party. They are well aware of the enormous disconnect between regular Americans and the DC Pols and plan a major recruiting drive. The Green PR guy is sending me some info which I will pass along for those interested.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Economy added 103,000 jobs in December, unemployment falls to 9.4%

Bad news for Republicans. Better study how Hoover tanked it.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 7, 2011 9:05 AM | Report abuse

re Delegitimizing the CBO...

Once again, this is an attempt to reset the nation's epistemological foundations. Whether the context is science or media bias or an individuals character or the historical record of someone's or some administration's accomplishments, in this new conservative epistemology one can discern the 'truth' only by looking to ideological allegiances or consistencies. If 95% of the worlds biologists see evidence for global warming, they will be wrong because GW is a fraudulent theory. Etc.

This is deeply dangerous and it is getting worse as conservative media outlets proliferate and forward the propaganda machinations that facilitate it.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 7, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

As promised, here is a link to the Green Op-Ed. First, a brief excerpt:

"The 2010 election repeats a pattern evident in recent decades. The Democratic establishment retreats from the party's traditional values and constituencies in the belief that they'll appeal to an imagined center, all the while competing for strings-attached corporate campaign checks against an increasingly extremist Republican Party."

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Memo-to-Progressives-Gree-by-Scott-McLarty-101216-690.html

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

"Economy added 103,000 jobs in December, unemployment falls to 9.4%"

Oh no! And you have been telling us apocalypse is here, and the country won't exist by 2020!

"Bad news for Republicans. Better study how Hoover tanked it."

So Hoover tanked the economy to take down the incumbent President? Clever man.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

More from the Green Op-Ed:

"The rule of two parties under the influence of corporate money has already pushed the US into a condition called 'state monopoly capitalism', in which government serves the demands of a corporate oligarchy to the extent that the two estates become inseparable. Hence the shrinkage of the middle class and widening gap between the wealthy and the rest of us, regardless of which party holds power."

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

QB, where in the Constitution does it say that corporations are people?

Oh right, nowhere. But you suggest that interpretation is just a theory -- three times you used that word -- and imply that there's no such thing as a "living Constitution".

Please. You are the liar.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

QB, where in the Constitution does it say that corporations are people?

Oh right, nowhere. But you suggest that interpretation is just a theory -- three times you used that word -- and imply that there's no such thing as a "living Constitution".

Please. You are the liar.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Last quote from the Green Op-Ed:

"Progressive, antiwar, and ecologically minded voters who insist on exclusive loyalty to the Dems have acquiesced to their own demise as a political force. In his nomination speech, 2004 Green presidential candidate David Cobb called the Democratic Party "the graveyard of progressive ideals." In a November 20 speech at the Harvard Kennedy School, James K. Galbraith, Vice President of Americans for Democratic Action, said, "The Democratic Party has become too associated with Wall Street. This is a fact. It is a structural problem. It seems to me that we as progressives need -- this is my personal position -- we need to draw a line and decide that we would be better off with an under-funded, fighting progressive minority party than a party marked by obvious duplicity and constant losses on every policy front as a result of the reversals in our own leadership."

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Corporations are people? People can be executed for crimes. Time to fire up Ol' Sparky.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 7, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Why are you trying to change the subject again, Ethan? Because you can't answer what I said? Again?

I didn't argue or imply anything above about which theory of intepretation (or would "approach to" make you feel better?) is right. I just pointed out again that originalism versus living constitution concerns interpretation and has nothing to do with amendments or the pseudo-flap over reading superseded portions.

We've been over Citizens United, and I'll be happy to try to straighten you out again on corporations, after you answer what I said here and on the previous thread. Are you prepared to admit that the "living constitution" theory concerns interpretation of the text as it is and not the amendment process?

Are you ever going to answer the question of what it means to say the Constitution shouldn't be fetishized or treated as "sacred"? Does that mean its words aren't binding?

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"* The first big battle: Delegitimizing the CBO? Something to watch for: The papers this morning are filled with stories about how House Republicans have rejected the Congressional Budget Office's finding that repealing health reform would add $230 billion to the deficit over 10 years. As Sam Stein notes, this may signal a larger trend -- broader movement by Republicans to push the CBO out of its once-sacrosanct role in the Capitol's legislative battles.

Indeed, House Republicans responded to the CBO with a report of their own challenging the CBO's conclusions and reiterating their political description of health reform as a "budget-busting, job-killing health care law." Expect the GOP-CBO divide to become particularly pronounced if the CBO returns more dire predictions about the impact of GOP initiatives on the deficit."

It's not just the Republicans who believe that the CBO scoring on the Health Care Law may not be valid.

Ruth Marcus yesterday:

"I'm a big critic of the new House budget rules, which have the perverse effect of making it easier to increase the budget deficit. And I think repealing the health-care law would be a mistake. But it's unfair to accuse House Republicans of being willing to blow a huge hole in the deficit by repealing health care and of being hypocrites on fiscal responsibility by exempting the effects of health-care repeal from their budget rules. "

"Translated into English: don't bet on that $230 billion. The health-care law will require billions in new spending. It relies on the expectation of billions in savings from slowing the growth of health-care costs and assorted cuts and taxes -- all guaranteed to produce howls of outrage, and a burst of lobbying, from the affected interests. Health-care reform, done right and with steadfastness that is not always forthcoming from the legislative branch, could be a huge contributor to reducing the deficit.

But the costs of the new law are far more certain than the savings. Anyone who's spent any time in Washington knows better than to assume that health-care reform will end up as a money saver.

Democrats will, I suspect, have ample opportunities to accuse Republicans of hypocrisy on fiscal responsibility. This isn't one of them. And there are stronger defenses of the new law than to claim that repeal would be a budget buster."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2011/01/will_health-care_reform_really.html

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

24 (or so) candidates for President,most of them wing nutters are tiptoeing around Palin and Obama is still afraid of....the left.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Lasr quote (I promise):

"It'll take a few more election cycles before Greens and other alternative parties can achieve major party status nationally, but we must start now, by rejecting the two-party paradigm, by recognizing that the Democratic Party holds no future for progressives, and by laying the groundwork for a transformation of the US political landscape that's based on multiparty democracy. Such a transformation will open a wide space for the Green vision of an America that acts according to principles of human rights and freedoms, economic fairness for everyone, peace, and the health of our planet."

I think I have found a political home. We'll see. But for now ...

Greens in 2012!

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

"Delegitimizing the CBO..."

Bernie, can you tell us what kind of track record the CBO has on its projections? how often over the last, say 30 years, has CBO projections been realized, and what is the average difference between CBO projections and realized costs/revenues?

You decry the "deligitimization" of the CBO, but how much credibility should the CBO's projections be given, and why?

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

"as nothing to do with amendments or the pseudo-flap over reading superseded portions"

I don't disagree. Just pointing out your disingenuous comments about interpretation being some kind of "theory," which is obviously laughable.

"Are you prepared to admit that the "living constitution" theory concerns interpretation of the text as it is and not the amendment process?"

Yes.

"Are you ever going to answer the question of what it means to say the Constitution shouldn't be fetishized or treated as "sacred"? Does that mean its words aren't binding?"

I'm not going to answer that, no. It's a loaded question of yours based on someone else's opinion. I have the utmost respect for the Founders, the Constitution and the Judiciary, and you should too, so stop lying that interpretation is some kind of theory that doesn't happen in practice.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"as nothing to do with amendments or the pseudo-flap over reading superseded portions"

I don't disagree. Just pointing out your disingenuous comments about interpretation being some kind of "theory," which is obviously laughable.

"Are you prepared to admit that the "living constitution" theory concerns interpretation of the text as it is and not the amendment process?"

Yes.

"Are you ever going to answer the question of what it means to say the Constitution shouldn't be fetishized or treated as "sacred"? Does that mean its words aren't binding?"

I'm not going to answer that, no. It's a loaded question of yours based on someone else's opinion. I have the utmost respect for the Founders, the Constitution and the Judiciary, and you should too, so stop lying that interpretation is some kind of theory that doesn't happen in practice.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

If you want to look at the leading edge of Republican epistemological redefinition, note the use of the word "believe."

As a grotesque of religious freedom we honor anyone's claim of belief, extending the exemption of faith to any lie, however rigorously disproven, anyone cares to embrace.

Conservatives "believe" global warming is false. They "believe" in Laffer curve economics. George Bush "beleived" that Iraq had a nucular program.

Toss in "believe" and you get a Get Out Of Requirement For Evidence Free card.

I once tried to convince a conservative in private mail that the great acceleration of global wildlife was not only a moral issue but a serious human concern .. he replied that he "didn't believe" that extinction was happening.

It's a very important act of framing, be alert for it.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 7, 2011 9:31 AM | Report abuse

More fundamentally, what has really affected the CBO's place as a "non-partisan" estimator of costs was the way that the Democratic House Leadership successfully gamed the CBO score during the enactment of the health care law to ensure that the overall size of the package came in at under $1 trillion for political appearance reasons and that it was scored as being deficit neutral. There were a lot of last minute changes that only came out later (such as the 1099 reporting provisions) to ensure that the CBO score was "correct".

This doesn't mean that the CBO is a bunch of partisan hacks, but they do have models and if your goal is to manipulate the models to generate the score that you want, then it is possible to do so successfully.

I believe the Health Care Law will not be deficit neutral as written, and the best critique of this comes from John Cassidy of the New Yorker, which I would urge everyone to read in full. Note that Mr. Cassidy is a supporter of Health Care Reform, he just believes that the costs need to be accounted for honestly.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2010/03/obamacare-by-the-numbers-part-1.html

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/johncassidy/2010/03/obamacare-by-the-numbers-part-1.html

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 9:33 AM | Report abuse

"Are you prepared to admit that the "living constitution" theory concerns interpretation of the text as it is and not the amendment process?"

That's really the crux of the issue. Because the document has been amended doesn't strike a blow against an "originalist" reading. Nor does it say that the "living" reading is accurate.

That debate centers more around what "unreasonable searches and seizures" or "shall make no law respecting" means. the words have been the same -- but the debate centers how we (and what criteria we should use) when we interpret them.

I think the best way would have been to read it and note when things were later changed and why. But you can build an entire course/career around that.


Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

shrink:

I tried again to engage you on your final post last night re the 3/5ths compromise, posted after I went to bed. You can find my response on last night's Happy Hour, time stamped this morning, if you are interested.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 9:36 AM | Report abuse

The GOP's War On Science reaches a new theater: Mathematics. I don't believe that 2 plus 2 equals 4. And I can argue about it all day with you (as long as I get my COC check, of course).

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

If the Democrats are serious about message control they will counter with some past Republican predictions about economics, juxtaposing videos of the smugly delivered predictions with the results.

They might start with trickle-down. And the devastation of Clinton's economics was going to bring about.

If they want to broaden it and get a few laughs they coukd go sideways into the Iraqi Cakewalk.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 7, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

@maritza1: "It is really 'its the economy, stupid'. If the economy is improving then Obama will do well. If it is not then he won't."

If the economy is improving, Obama will do better. However, outside of Herbert Hoover, there aren't that many incumbent presidents who got their party nomination unchallenged that lost in the general.

Even if the economy doesn't improve, Obama is likely to win unless he faces a primary or 3rd party challenger.

While it may have been "the economy stupid" in 1992, H.W. Bush faced a primary challenge from Pat Buchanan (also from Harold E. Stassen, but I think that was probably irrelevant, because it was so weak) and then faced a 3rd party challenge from Ross Perot who devoted 90% of his campaign against Washington, generally, and George H. W. Bush, specifically, and about 10% against Clinton and the Democrats. And in any case, historically, the 3rd party challenge always hurts the incumbent more. And the dull-as-dishwater H.W. Bush was running against a charismatic young southern politician who could charm the paint off a picket fence.

Given that a primary challenge is unlikely and a meaningful 3rd party challenge also looks increasingly unlikely, Obama will probably do well enough to win reelection, even if the economy remains stagnant. Also, look at the Republican field. Perhaps the most charismatic candidate--Sarah Palin--is also the most polarizing. Pawlenty and Barbour and Romney, etc., may be many things, but "charismatic" . . . eh, probably not.

Ironically, I think this means that, in truth, Obama does not have to triangulate--or that triangulation offers no political value. But, he may, anyway. And that's why he's my favorite Democratic president since JFK.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Only a fool would think that a constitution isn't made to adopt to changing circumstances. That is the purpose for having a constitution instead of a code. Does anyone really think that the Founders expected that what they wrote should be treated as scripture 250 years later? They were not nearly so hubristic as Constitutional Conservatives think. The Con Cons, however, couldn't care less about the Constitution; that is merely a ruse. They just want policies that empower corporations over the American People. However they achieve that is irrelevant. For instance, the deficit was the most critical problem in the nation until it came time for tax cuts for the Rich. Now that the Rich got their cuts -- with Corporates taxes soon to follow -- expect to hear that the deficit is once again the most critical problem facing the country and we have no choice but to gut the New Deal. Unfortunately, you can expect to hear those words from Barrack Obama, though he will use euphemism's like "reform."

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Ok thanks, look I think we agree on how and why it happened, what it's purpose was. The rest of our disagreement is atmospheric, legacy cost if you will and probably not worth haranguing each other over. Sure the West African slave industry in the New World was already 200 years on by the late 16th century. The Constitution sure didn't start it and it didn't seek to protect it or profit by it. It accommodated slavery out of political necessity. As for what that *means* we could argue for days and get nowhere. So lets put a wrap on this one. I think we did pretty well as arguments around here go. No one accused the other of being a communist fascist, that is an achievement.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Disagree about Romney's lack of charisma. He's tall, handsome, doesn't fall flat delivering a speech, and forty years ago when the GOP wasn't completely bugfụck nuts and rotten with crazy Protestant fundamentalists he'd have a real shot.

Romney is a reasonable moderate trying to pass as a brachiating screaming kook and unable to pull it off well enough, in addition to being a Mormon. Far from my choice but America would survive a Romney preidency.

But you need to be hot-eyed with hate to get the GOP nomination.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 7, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

@wbgonne: "The GOP's War On Science reaches a new theater: Mathematics. I don't believe that 2 plus 2 equals 4"

Is this in reference to the CBO? If so, in what realm to complex projections based on inherently limited models equate to the derived product of an established mathematical formula? The CBOs projections regarding HCR are a far, far cry from "2+2=4".

They are more in the mode of "If there is a 2 that we then might add to another 2 it may equal a 4, all other things being equal, but we're largely asserting that the first 2 and the second 2 are going to be 2s based on conjecture and necessarily limited analysis, and there's no way to guarantee it, so there's actually not way to guarantee the 4, but we're going to say it's a shoe-in, anyway, because it's fits the models and all we have to do is fit the numbers to our model, not establish and objective truth."

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

shrink:

"So lets put a wrap on this one."

Done.

"I think we did pretty well as arguments around here go. No one accused the other of being a communist fascist, that is an achievement."

Agreed. I'll make every effort to follow this model in the future.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

scottc3 asks
"You decry the "deligitimization" of the CBO, but how much credibility should the CBO's projections be given, and why?"

If the CBO is too-often wrong, it needs to be repaired or replaced. The larger point needs to be: what or who is the neutral arbiter that determines whether a bill will increase or decrease the deficit? The rules that House GOP leadership created for this Congress are very specific about how spending bills must contain offsetting spending cuts such that they will not increase the deficit. How is this to be determined? If the CBO is unreliable, then who (or what) is reliable?

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Uh, Kevin, the CBO wasn't newly-minted just to make forecasts about the ACA. It has been and remains the esteemed and credible nonpartisan authority on budget forecasting.

And the criticism of it comes from the Republican Party which simultaneously doubts matters of broad scientific consensus like global warming and essentially settled scientific theories like evoliution.

And also, umm, they lie a lot.

Posted by: caothien9 | January 7, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

"CBO wasn't newly-minted just to make forecasts about the ACA" -- the CBO was created in the 70s

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Regarding CBO scores, see also David Brooks today:

"False projections. The new system is based on a series of expert projections on how people will behave. In the first test case, these projections were absurdly off base. According to the Medicare actuary, 375,000 people should have already signed up for the new high-risk pools for the uninsured, but only 8,000 have.

More seriously, cost projections are way off. For example, New Hampshire’s plan has only about 80 members, but the state has already burned through nearly double the $650,000 that the federal government allotted to help run the program. If other projections are off by this much, the results will be disastrous.

Employee dumping. This is the most serious threat. Companies and unions across America are running the numbers and discovering they would be better off if, after 2014, they induced poorer and sicker employees to move to public insurance exchanges, where subsidies are much higher.

The number of people in those exchanges could thus skyrocket, especially as startup companies undermine their competitors with uninsured employees and lower costs. The Congressional Budget Office projects that 19 million people will move to the exchanges at a cost of $450 billion between 2014 and 2019. But according to the economists Douglas Holtz-Eakin and James C. Capretta, costs could soar to $1.4 trillion if those who would be better off in the exchanges actually moved to them. The price of the health care law could double. C. Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute, who has been among those raising the alarms about this, calls the law’s structure “unworkable and unfair.” "

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/opinion/07brooks.html?ref=opinion

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

bsimon:

"If the CBO is unreliable, then who (or what) is reliable?"

I not sure such a thing does or even can exist. These projections are necessarily based on all kinds of asusmptions that must be made, but can never be known. And, of course, as jnc pointed out above, as long as the model is known, the inputs can be manipulated to produce a desired score, regardless of what is ultimately going to actually happen.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Whoopeee, we own AIG. I wonder if an ex-Obama economic advisor will go to work there too.

"(Reuters) - Shares in bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc hit their highest level since early October 2008 on Friday after the company took a major step toward closing its recapitalization.

AIG said Thursday night its board had approved the issue of warrants to buy 75 million shares of common stock, which are conditioned on all the parties to the recapitalization agreeing it can close by January 14.

While that does not in itself guarantee the deal will close next week, it was one of the last key steps to finish the transaction.
Under the terms of the deal, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York will be repaid in full and the U.S. Treasury Department will be left with a 92.1 percent stake in AIG."

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Of course, for optical reasons, Treasury will have to sell its stake in AIG, as it plans, before federal officials can go to work there.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

wbgonne

Thanks for all the Green Party info. As I said yesterday, I've voted and campaigned for their candidates on the local and state level in the past. I'm not ready yet to decide where I'll be politically in 2012 but I'm keeping an open mind. For me Social Security and Afghanistan are real thresholds, so we'll see.

Anyone read Taibbi's piece on Boehner. It's an interesting portrait and highlights some of the problems facing establishment Republicans and the Tea Party.

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

"They're all worried the government would shut down," says Littleton, the head of the Ohio Liberty Council. "I don't care if it shuts down! So what?" Whether the Republican establishment led by Boehner can keep the support and approval of Tea Party leaders like Littleton over the next year or so is, right now, the most fascinating story line in all of American politics. The whole system of entrenched Beltway hackdom that Boehner represents is at stake. The GOP leadership largely succeeded this past fall in appropriating the political energy of the Tea Party for its own ends, pulling off a brilliant coup by using Tea Party rage to push through the long sought-after extension of the obscene Bush tax cuts. This was always going to be the model of how Republican Party hacks would deal with the Tea Party: Bash the living hell out of hated blue-state Gorgons like Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, jack off the mob by incorporating the Tea Party's Constitution-and-liberty rhetoric, hand the Tea Party those reforms that the GOP's big campaign contributors want anyway (most notably, tax breaks for the rich and deregulation of big business), and then cough up a note from the doctor or some other lame excuse when the time comes to actually cut spending."

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/matt-taibbi-the-crying-shame-of-john-boehner-20110105?page=6

Posted by: lmsinca | January 7, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

mark_in_austin told us about what was really going on with Texas' budget a long time ago. Whole paragraphs from Krugman's column could have been lifted out of his posts. Just sayin'

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The pro football playoffs begin this weekend, but Fox Sports is already making sure there'll be solid television ratings no matter what teams make it to the Super Bowl on Feb. 6.

That's because conservative Fox News talk show host Bill O'Reilly will be interviewing President Obama during the pre-game show, the White House confirmed today.

At last! A fair and balanced interview with B.O. It's amazing what an electoral catastrophe like Obama's, November shellacking can do. It looks like the Bamster is going to try to beat Bill Clinton at his own game.

A big "L" inside a bigger TRIANGLE ought to be adopted as the official symbol of the Democrat party.

Standing for TRIANGULATING LIBERALS.

Let's face it. It's the only way liberals can survive, in America.

Posted by: battleground51 | January 7, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

@caothien9: "Uh, Kevin, the CBO wasn't newly-minted just to make forecasts about the ACA."

I never said it was. Never implied that it was. Never suggested that it was. What an odd thing to say.

"It has been and remains the esteemed and credible nonpartisan authority on budget forecasting."

I also made no comment on its esteem, just that budget forecasting involves a lot of unknowable variables, especially if it regards predictions about what people and markets will do (the ACA CBO scores included both), thus it's not remotely the same thing as "2+2=4", and to suggest it is (if anybody was) would be inaccurate.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, thanks for all the green party info so I know where not to waste my time, lol.

People like wbgonne are responsible for people like Bush getting elected.

Yeah, I'm punching hippies now too so duck.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

John McCain was filled with hot-eyed hate? In other "news" caothien9 actually does hate economists (unless they support his liberal agenda ; )

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 7, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

@jnc, in re Brooks' column,

Sure, anyone who doesn't know the ACA is sewn with the seeds of its destruction doesn't know anything about the industry. It, the Act, will not survive in this form. The only question is what happens next on the road to health care reform. Will the industry regulate the regulators as they did through this iteration? Will the foreseeable collapse of M&M be used to force a single payer system? The ACA is just the beginning of meaningful change.

Now many more people know what some of the words mean and what is at stake, so at least that is a good thing.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

@ScottC3: BTW, read your stuff on the 3/5ths compromise. Excellent points.

Although I suppose we could have either capitulated completely to the slave states and have them count every slave as a full person, so that we might have had slavery well into the 1900s. Or we could have let the constitutional convention collapse, and had a series of failed "article of confederations" or no federal government to speak of, which probably also would have allowed slavery to continue well into the 1900s.

Or perhaps there's some sort of fantasy alternative that would have cleansed the world of slavery immediately, if only our founding fathers have been courageous enough to implement it.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

ScottC3 writes:
"I not sure such a thing does or even can exist. These projections are necessarily based on all kinds of asusmptions that must be made, but can never be known. And, of course, as jnc pointed out above, as long as the model is known, the inputs can be manipulated to produce a desired score, regardless of what is ultimately going to actually happen."

So... Are you saying the House rule requiring that all new spending have offsetting spending cuts such that the deficit is not increased should be based on the authors' word? Or, if the CBO scores are so easily manipulated, why don't the GOP leadership ask the CBO for a new score for the repeal of the ACA with their own set of assumptions & have a debate about whose assumptions are correct?

Throwing out the CBO numbers because they can't be right is like ignoring the weather forecast because they always get those wrong too. Sure, they often get the details wrong, but I'll tell you what; they're predicting a round of siberian air to come here next week; smart listeners will heed the warning & skip plans to run around nekkid.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Ethan,

Thanks for affirming what Greg and the rest of his echo pals dishonestly deny. I credit you for it. We both think the government should follow the Constitution and that this isn't kooky fetishism.

But I've never claimed interpretation and even "living constitution " interpretation "doesn't happen in practice." On the contrary, the latter is something I criticize a d it is very real.

To the extent you are suggesting that "everyone does it" -- "living constitution " -- you are simply wrong, but that is a different debate.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Daley is a Clinton person - one who led the SELLOUT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE with the Free Trade deals.


Im sure the big banks are happy that Obama is signaling he will protect their interests.


The bottom line is Daley represents everything that is wrong with the democratic party.


This pick also proves again that Obama has no idea what he is doing, because if Obama understood any of this, Obama would not be doing this.


It is another Obama disaster.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 7, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Ethan,

Thanks for affirming what Greg and the rest of his echo pals dishonestly deny. I credit you for it. We both think the government should follow the Constitution and that this isn't kooky fetishism.

But I've never claimed interpretation and even "living constitution " interpretation "doesn't happen in practice." On the contrary, the latter is something I criticize a d it is very real.

To the extent you are suggesting that "everyone does it" -- "living constitution " -- you are simply wrong, but that is a different debate.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

"People like wbgonne are responsible for people like Bush getting elected."

Nope. Nobody's entitled to wbgonne's vote. It has to be earned. And staying home or protest voting is a perfectly valid choice.

Boehner couldn't name one program to cut in an recent interview. If he can't figure it out soon, there's no reason for me to vote for his party. and if that mean's Pelosi is speaker again, that's on him, not me.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 7, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

@cao: "Disagree about Romney's lack of charisma."

He's a little dry, if you ask me. I like Romney. But he lacks Clinton-level charisma, which helps when challenging an incumbent president.

In any case, I think he lacks adequate charisma to beat Obama in 2012, unless Obama has a real credible challenger from the left in the primary and maybe as a 3rd party (and one that the media pays attention to).

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

"Boehner couldn't name one program to cut in an recent interview. "

That was pretty surprising. You would think with all that time in the minority with nothing to do except rally the no votes and campaign he would have had a second or two to think about what to cut.

He's the epitome of the lipstick on a pig saying.

OT but I just read a speculation Daley was responsible for Gibbs leaving the W.H.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Kevin, since you want to rip scabs off, you can congratulate them all you like for the compromise that accommodated slavery in the US Constitution. No one knows what could have happened without that, after all, people like Jefferson were agrarian slave holders.

The greater, the overarching question to me was and still is, could the Civil War have been prevented as the price of ending slavery? There is no way to know the answer to that question, but you throwing out the specter, twice, of slavery lasting well into the 1900s, (what, like 1960, or 1980?) is kind of silly.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

@QB: "But I've never claimed interpretation and even "living constitution " interpretation "doesn't happen in practice.""

So then you don't understand the definition of the word "theory" which you've used multiple times to describe interpretation.

@NoVA: "the debate centers how we (and what criteria we should use) when we interpret them."

See, QB. Now THAT is an intellectually honest comment from someone who, I guess, has similar views to you ideologically (maybe not identical, but similar). QB, when you say things like "It is thus a theory that the text has no fixed meanings." You lose all credibility.

I agree entirely, NoVA, that debate over HOW to interpret the language is the crux of the debate, or should be.

"To the extent you are suggesting that "everyone does it" -- "living constitution " -- you are simply wrong"

No I'm not. Everyone does in fact interpret the Constitution. Everyone in both an official sense (SCOTUS) and in a rhetorical sense (from Michelle Bachmann to Anthony Weiner to you and me). Everyone does it and everyone should do it because that is its purpose. It is the construct by which we, as a nation, form a more perfect union. It even says precisely that in the preamble:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis, does Sarah Palin lack charisma? What if she runs, as does Howard Dean?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 7, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Oops, the quote "To the extent you are suggesting that 'everyone does it' -- 'living constitution' -- you are simply wrong" should be tagged @QB, not a response to NoVA. Sorry.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

All, new Adam Serwer post on white flight from the Democratic Party:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/01/pursuing_racial_division.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 7, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

@shrink2 "@jnc, in re Brooks' column,

Sure, anyone who doesn't know the ACA is sewn with the seeds of its destruction doesn't know anything about the industry. It, the Act, will not survive in this form. The only question is what happens next on the road to health care reform. Will the industry regulate the regulators as they did through this iteration? Will the foreseeable collapse of M&M be used to force a single payer system? The ACA is just the beginning of meaningful change.

Now many more people know what some of the words mean and what is at stake, so at least that is a good thing."

I think progressives/liberals underestimate the effect that the "ACA is sewn with the seeds of its destruction" will have on discrediting progressive policy making in general and CBO estimates in particular when it doesn't actually pay for itself.

The ACA was sold to independents and the broad "middle" of America as a cost savings measure, not as something that was expensive but important to do because providing all people health insurance should be a national priority.

Or to put it another way, if the ACA fails to live up to it's cost savings projections, no one is going to buy the CBO cost savings projections when Progressives/liberals try to sell single payer or the public option again after the ACA fails to control costs.

Rather than "The ACA is just the beginning of meaningful change." it could be the end of it, at least from a progressive/liberal standpoint. As Brooks points out people are going to start blaming everything they hate about the health care system on Obamacare/ACA. As Obama himself as said, once this passed, he owns it.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis writes
"[Romney is] a little dry, if you ask me. I like Romney. But he lacks Clinton-level charisma, which helps when challenging an incumbent president."

Right. Someone earlier pointed out that he's handsome & well-spoken, which is certainly true. But he lacks the charisma that inspires people to follow.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 11:03 AM | Report abuse

"Yeah, I'm punching hippies now too so duck."

And that's something new? LOL

Posted by: lmsinca | January 7, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

jncp4 writes
"I think progressives/liberals underestimate the effect that the "ACA is sewn with the seeds of its destruction" will have on discrediting progressive policy making in general and CBO estimates in particular when it doesn't actually pay for itself."


I think you are overestimating the attention span and ability to connect dots of the average voter. By the time we know whether or not the ACA is paying for itself, nobody's going to go back and say "but.. but... but.. the CBO said it would be different!" For one thing, the law is going to get changed regularly. For another, the projections are hinged on future actions of Congress, like getting around to adjusting Medicare compensation rates for Docs. If this & future Congresses don't do that, its hardly the fault of the CBO. But, really, the larger point is: the vast majority of voters have no idea what the CBO is, does, or how they have any involvement in the ACA.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse

@shrink2 "Kevin, since you want to rip scabs off, you can congratulate them all you like for the compromise that accommodated slavery in the US Constitution. No one knows what could have happened without that, after all, people like Jefferson were agrarian slave holders."

It's a fair reading of history that the Constitution would not have been ratified without the 3/5th's compromise. Most likely the states would have each gone their own way.

"The greater, the overarching question to me was and still is, could the Civil War have been prevented as the price of ending slavery? There is no way to know the answer to that question, but you throwing out the specter, twice, of slavery lasting well into the 1900s, (what, like 1960, or 1980?) is kind of silly."

The interesting contrast is between the British political system which was able to end slavery peacefully and ours, which wasn't. The Civil War stands as the single biggest failure of the system of government established by the U.S. Constitution, in terms of establishing a republic where the people can govern themselves and where political disputes can be resolved within it's framework.

For those who haven't seen it, the movie Amazing Grace which tells the story of the campaign of William Wilberforce to abolish slavery in Britian is quite interesting.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_Abolition_Act_1833

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wilberforce

One significant issue for the U.S. over Britian would have been the total cost of compensation to the owners of the freed slaves, due to the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 11:17 AM | Report abuse

@cao: "They 'believe' in Laffer curve economics."

Because it, unlike the CBO, posits and simple and logically verifiable truth, which is this:

At a tax rate of 0%, there will be no tax revenue.

At a tax rate of 100%, there will be no tax revenue.

Thus, the optimum tax rate for maximum tax revenues will be somewhere between 100% and 0%. That's the assertion of the Laffer curve in which conservatives so absurdly and superstitiously "believe".

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"The ACA is just the beginning of meaningful change." it could be the end of it, at least from a progressive/liberal standpoint."

I was with you until that. Nope, America does not have the choice whether or not it is going to reform its health care system. The cost increases without ACA are worse than with it, it is just that ACA is not a sustainable structure. But no, you can't, we can't, no one could afford the direction the current system is headed. Something has to give and I predict it will be the imminent collapse of the high risk dumping grounds, Medicare, SSDI and Medicaid. The for profit industry needs its tax based cost shifting silos and if those are threatened and they are, maybe we'll have a discussion that is reality based on who has to pay how much for what.

So you know, I really hate the individual mandate, that is the part about the ACA that is going to make it go away the fastest.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Ethan:

"So then you don't understand the definition of the word "theory" which you've used multiple times to describe interpretation."

I understand it just fine. You obviously don't. Practice and theory aren't mutually exclusive. Theory normally describes practice. Some people argue that "theory" should only be used in social science areas when it has a predictive element. Either way, your position is humorous.

"See, QB. Now THAT is an intellectually honest comment from someone who, I guess, has similar views to you ideologically (maybe not identical, but similar)."

That's funny, since NoVA's comment was this endorsement of my point:

"That's really the crux of the issue. Because the document has been amended doesn't strike a blow against an "originalist" reading. Nor does it say that the "living" reading is accurate."

So you are saying NoVA's statement was correct and intellectually honest, but mine was wrong and dishonest, even though NoVA's statement was a direct endorsement of mine. Oh, and the statement of mine he endorsed was one that you also unqualifiedly agreed with.

Brilliant.

"QB, when you say things like "It is thus a theory that the text has no fixed meanings." You lose all credibility."

I'd suggest you go do some intensive and long study of "living constitution" theory. That's exactly its basis.

"No I'm not. Everyone does in fact interpret the Constitution. Everyone in both an official sense (SCOTUS) and in a rhetorical sense (from Michelle Bachmann to Anthony Weiner to you and me). Everyone does it and everyone should do it because that is its purpose. It is the construct by which we, as a nation, form a more perfect union. It even says precisely that in the preamble:"

I'm not sure what you mean by "its purpose" being interpretation, but there certainly are points of interpretation, or, as some people prefer, construction. I suspect you mean what you said yesterday -- that the document was deliberately drafted vaguely to reflect disagreements to be resolved by courts. You never answered my refutation of that very wrong statement.

To that same end, I think your suggestion that "interpretation" is how we "form a more perfect" union is also wrong. The Preamble says that the Constitution was ordained and established to, inter alia, form a more perfect union. Not that judges are supposed to "interpret" it to form a more perfect union. That is a major distinction and a point where you are without any textual or historical support.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

@jnc4p: "It's a fair reading of history that the Constitution would not have been ratified without the 3/5th's compromise. Most likely the states would have each gone their own way."

Which would have led to the institution of slavery being extended much longer (sans a war between the states that ended with states being consolidated under an anti-slavery federal power, but that doesn't seem terribly likely if the states of the south had spent more time developing military capability). Given the options available at the time, I'd like to know what would have led to the better outcome.

@clawrence: "Kevin_Willis, does Sarah Palin lack charisma? What if she runs, as does Howard Dean?"

I specifically said Sarah Palin is charismatic. She's problematic in challenging an incumbent, because she is polarizing with a large segment of the electorate, and in that situation, the incumbent becomes the safe choice.

If Howard Dean runs against Obama from the left, and gets money and media coverage, a Sarah Palin running against Obama with a unified Republican party behind her, she could win in 2012. But, to my mind, that's a lot of big "ifs".

@shrink2: "Kevin, since you want to rip scabs off, you can congratulate them all you like for the compromise that accommodated slavery in the US Constitution."

Sir, I am offended. I was not "ripping scabs off", just addressing ScottC3 on what he said. I was not attempting to goad you into further discussion of an issue you felt was tabled, and apologies if you felt I was.

"There is no way to know the answer to that question, but you throwing out the specter, twice, of slavery lasting well into the 1900s, (what, like 1960, or 1980?) is kind of silly."

You say that, and I think the 1980s is probably stretching it, but it's not that silly. Slavery still exists in the world today, and if the constitution had not been ratified and the states had not consolidated under a single federal government, slave states would have likely drifted into less democratic and more nepotistic governments, many of which would have only given up on slavery after a sound military defeat (I doubt inter-state wars would have been avoidable, and, probably, a consolidated federation of non-slave states would have ended up taking over the slave states, but slavery did not end in America until 1862. Is it really so crazy to believe that the institution could not have lasted another 40 years or so, if the northern states had had no say over the south (except via military defeat), or if the south had had even more disproportionate representation on the congress--to the point where slaveholders might have been allowed to cast votes "for" their slaves in federal elections?

Just speculation. But, short of the 3/5ths clause, I'm wondering what alternative would have led to a superior outcome.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Kevin:

"Excellent points."

Thanks.

shrink:

"The greater, the overarching question to me was and still is, could the Civil War have been prevented as the price of ending slavery?"

Obviously, as you say, there is no way to know the answer to this. That said, I think the answer is yes, but, pace Kevin, not nearly as quickly as it ended as the result of the Civil War. I cannot imagine any conceivable scenario that could have resulted in the demise of slavery earlier than 1865, and if the war had not been prosecuted, the institution certainly would have survived for quite some time after. I do believe, however, that it would definitely have died a grinding death eventually, even if the South had been allowed to secede. Wholly apart from the growing realization of its moral depravity, the economics of slavery are simply not compatible with a modern and mature, market oriented economy. It could not have survived.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"For Imsinca and others who, like me, see that the Democratic Party moving in the wrong direction and are looking for an alternative. I have telephoned the Green Party. They are well aware of the enormous disconnect between regular Americans and the DC Pols and plan a major recruiting drive. The Green PR guy is sending me some info which I will pass along for those interested. Posted by: wbgonne"

The Greens are, and will likely remain, a fringe Party. They want to be to the left of the Dems.

Now if the Greens could rethink their core beliefs to be a moderate, centrist, Philosophy that says going green is really moderation in all things, possible but not currently Green thinking, they very well could be the big force in coming politics.

COULD Green Theory change to Centrist Green Theory? The Republicans better hope NOT.

Posted by: ceflynline | January 7, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

"Something to watch for: The papers this morning are filled with stories about how House Republicans have rejected the Congressional Budget Office's finding "
------------------------------------------
The CBO was long (decades) ago "delegitimized" as it has consistently underestimated the costs of large fed entitlement programs by ~ a factor of 10.

So, only a fool or, someone trying to hide the truth, would use the CBO's figures as an accurate prediction of future costs.

Posted by: illogicbuster | January 7, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"Wholly apart from the growing realization of its moral depravity, the economics of slavery are simply not compatible with a modern and mature, market oriented economy. It could not have survived."

Hey, I was going to make this point!

Slavery did no't die as a result of the efforts of the crusaders, some nice, some not so nice like John Brown (poor Kansas). It had no future in market capitalism. So then the question of whether the 3/5 compromise prolonged it is open, though I think the answer is no.

The question of whether the process of dealing with the 3/5 compromise was part of the cause of the Civil War, I think that answer is clearly yes, as each new state was added, the question of whether it would enhance or detract from slavepower had to be fought over.

Some wonderful historical novels could have been written on this topic. What if the framers said no to the compromise and slave states collapsed on their own? Could the Union have survived without them? Why yes, it could have, might even have been better off without the Southern bomb throwers in the government. Then there would have been a very different career for Andrew Jackson. It is all very interesting, but the burden of southern history on this country is not a moral tale.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

bsimon:

"So... Are you saying the House rule requiring that all new spending have offsetting spending cuts such that the deficit is not increased should be based on the authors' word?"

No.

"Or, if the CBO scores are so easily manipulated, why don't the GOP leadership ask the CBO for a new score for the repeal of the ACA with their own set of assumptions & have a debate about whose assumptions are correct?"

Perhaps they should.

"Throwing out the CBO numbers because they can't be right..."

I wasn't suggesting that. My original post was simply questioning Bernie's notion that there could be no legitimate questioning of the CBO's projections...that if anyone on the right did so, they were necessarily engaging in "propaganda".

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

illogicbuster writes
"So, only a fool or, someone trying to hide the truth, would use the CBO's figures as an accurate prediction of future costs."


So we're back to square one. If Congress doesn't use the CBO numbers, what numbers do they use?


Thus far, nobody's taken a stab at answering that question - least of all Repub leadership.

.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 7, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

@shrink2 ""The ACA is just the beginning of meaningful change." it could be the end of it, at least from a progressive/liberal standpoint."

I was with you until that. Nope, America does not have the choice whether or not it is going to reform its health care system. The cost increases without ACA are worse than with it, it is just that ACA is not a sustainable structure. But no, you can't, we can't, no one could afford the direction the current system is headed. Something has to give and I predict it will be the imminent collapse of the high risk dumping grounds, Medicare, SSDI and Medicaid. The for profit industry needs its tax based cost shifting silos and if those are threatened and they are, maybe we'll have a discussion that is reality based on who has to pay how much for what.

So you know, I really hate the individual mandate, that is the part about the ACA that is going to make it go away the fastest."

My point isn't that we will go back to the way things were, but rather that the discrediting of the ACA (& the CBO) won't lead to more progressive options like single payer or the public option but more likely to rationing/vouchers for the Federal contribution via something like the Ryan-Rivlin plan or Paul Ryan's Roadmap where the precise amount of money that has to be budgeted by the Federal government is fixed and knowable, rather than open-ended.

For the vast majority of Americans who already have insurance, cost control is more important than expanding coverage. There will be a fair amount of blowback when the cost controls don't work.

I think that Fareed Zakaria had it correct when he was on Bill Maher's show analyzing the mid-terms.

"FAREED ZAKARIA, TIME AND CNN: I think it stretches imagination though Bill to think that fundamentally, if you look at this election and what happened, basically as you, as you mock them, Independents broke, broke for the Republicans. It’s difficult to imagine an Independent saying, “I’m going to vote for extremely right-wing Republicans because Obama wasn’t left-wing enough.” Right? You see what I’m saying? They’re saying, instead of saying, “I’m going to vote for Obama who was left of center, I’m going to go to the extreme right of the political spectrum.” I think it’s more plausible to say that they perceived rightly or wrongly that he had moved too far left. My view, the going doing healthcare itself gave people a signal he was concerned about the kind of things Bill O’Reilly was saying: social justice. Because look, fundamentally, 85 percent of the country has healthcare and worries about cost. Fifteen percent doesn’t and worries about access. What he did was he dealt with the issue of the fifteen percent before he dealt with the issue of the 85 percent."

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2010/11/06/fareed-zakaria-exposes-bill-mahers-complete-ignorance-politics

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, thanks for all the green party info so I know where not to waste my time, lol. People like wbgonne are responsible for people like Bush getting elected. Yeah, I'm punching hippies now too so duck.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 7, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Er, Mike you are the prototypical New Democrat. You know, the kind that thinks Democrats should be just like Republicans only not as crazy. You applaud every campaign promise betrayal as "good politics." You will cheer as Obama attacks Social Security. You are happy that Obama is triangulating. You are the problem. not me.

I've been punched by a lot tougher than you. So go throw darts at your Jane Hamsher poster, Tough Guy.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

@QB:

"Practice and theory aren't mutually exclusive. Theory normally describes practice."

So why not SAY practice if that's what you were referring to? Because, obviously, interpretation of the Constitution is the PRACTICE of the SCOTUS. It's what they do. To further my point, "living constitution" is a theory, yes, but interpretation of the Constitution is the practice of engaging (or not) the theory of the "living constitution." We were talking about interpretation of the Constitution, so therefore your use of "theory" is improper (i.e. "It is a theory of INTERPRETATION."), as I indicated clearly in my first response to you on the topic.

"So you are saying NoVA's statement was correct and intellectually honest, but mine was wrong and dishonest, even though NoVA's statement was a direct endorsement of mine. Oh, and the statement of mine he endorsed was one that you also unqualifiedly agreed with."

Yes. My point was that his style is way more amenable to discussion than yours while saying essentially the same thing. You simply have a fundamentally intellectually dishonest approach where people who cannot agree on the substance of an issue are inherently at war to the death with each other. That is simply not how the world works.

"I suspect you mean what you said yesterday -- that the document was deliberately drafted vaguely to reflect disagreements to be resolved by courts. You never answered my refutation of that very wrong statement."

It's not wrong. It is something that is constantly debated in not only the public, but scholarly circles:

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=constitution+vague+language&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart

Some examples from that list of publications:

"The Constitution's text is surprisingly vague about the allocation of authority"

"The language of the Constitution compares unfavorably to typical statutory language in that it is more general, more vague, more open-textured, more ambiguous, more
value-laden, and more invitational of discretion by subsequent interpreters."

"Constitution makers from the American Constitution to the present day have also included rights guarantees that sound in the vague and abstract language of principles."

"At times we intentionally employ vague language, such as 'appropriate' or 'unreasonable' or 'equal protection of the laws,' in order to provide future flexibility"

I'm not sure whether those authors AGREE on the theory of the "living Constitution" or the practice of interpretation, but there you have -- with a simple google search -- evidence of the long-running debate on the ambiguity of language in the Constitution. Evidence and a debate that you generally ignore in an intellectually dishonest fashion.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca;

You know a lot more about it than I do. But I'll let you know if I learn anything useful. Maybe we can use the Bernie-Scott backchannel to coordinate. OK, guys?

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"@cao: "They 'believe' in Laffer curve economics." Because it, unlike the CBO, posits and simple and logically verifiable truth, which is this: At a tax rate of 0%, there will be no tax revenue. At a tax rate of 100%, there will be no tax revenue. Thus, the optimum tax rate for maximum tax revenues will be somewhere between 100% and 0%. That's the assertion of the Laffer curve in which conservatives so absurdly and superstitiously "believe". Posted by: Kevin_Willis"

The Laffer Curve, as originally drawn and described was deliberately NOT a Mathematical Construct. Put in any kind of Mathematical rigor it is easily disprovable.

Just to start, even with either zero taxes or 100% taxes, the Government would still have sources of income, since under the zero case it would have available land sales for the time being, and might require that lands be leased only, ala the old Testaments Jubilee Year model.

At the 100% level, stocks and bonds that pay dividends would still produce revenue.

Mathematical, either circumstance invalidates a necessary premise to Laffer's fallacy.

The internal premise, that the curve represents any real mathematical relationship is also provably false.

Since all three required premises are false, the theory represented by the curve is false.

And all this has been out there as disproof since Laffer first proposed his fallacy.

Posted by: ceflynline | January 7, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

@shrink: "[Slavery] had no future in market capitalism."

That's a joke right?

Who do you think makes clothes for the Gap, Old Navy, etc?

Not middle class suburbanites. Global capitalism is built almost entirely on -ahem- "cheap labor".

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

"So, only a fool or, someone trying to hide the truth, would use the CBO's figures as an accurate prediction of future costs. Posted by: illogicbuster"

On the subject of fallacies, here is a big one.

The CBO was set up by Congress to be a non-partisan authority whose findings would be accepted because the alternative, that each Party use its own figures to back its points leaves no room for negotiations. The CBO has been constituted to use, in the terms of accountancy, consistent accounting rules. In accounting, you may, apparently, invent your own rules, at the start, but then must consistently apply those rules forever after, OR, when you discover that you need to change the rules, you must somehow account for the change in rules.

The CBO has been quite consistent, over the years, and quite non partisan. THAT is the republican Parties big complaint, that the CBO won't side with the Republicans.

When you deny the authority of your independent experts, you deny EVERY authority. Now to have an authority you must negotiate a new agreed upon authority.

CBO WAS the agreed upon authority. Rejecting that authority removes all authority from the process. Thus, having removed the agreed upon authority, the Republicans have no authority to appeal to.

And thus their appeal to authority is a logical fallacy.

Posted by: ceflynline | January 7, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

ceflynline,

You haven't "disproved" any premise of the Laffer Curve. You've just misstated them. The Laffer Curve doesn't state that government would have no revenue if, e.g., the income tax were 0 or 100%. It states that it would have no income tax revenue (or at 100% at least would have very little, dependent on circumstances).

"Just to start, even with either zero taxes or 100% taxes, the Government would still have sources of income, since under the zero case it would have available land sales for the time being, and might require that lands be leased only, ala the old Testaments Jubilee Year model."

Other sources of revenue are not relevant to the level of revenue from the tax. You have to define what tax you are talking about.

"At the 100% level, stocks and bonds that pay dividends would still produce revenue."

No, again, you've erred through sloppy mischaracterization. The premise would have to be a 100% tax on stocks and bonds.

"The internal premise, that the curve represents any real mathematical relationship is also provably false."

I suppose that, whatever this is supposed to mean, you believe you have means to prove it. But you haven't even begun to to do it.

"Since all three required premises are false, the theory represented by the curve is false.

And all this has been out there as disproof since Laffer first proposed his fallacy."

I assume by "out there" you mean out there in a fantasy land. The basic truth of the Laffer Curve isn't disputed by anyone in the mainstream. Only details of shape, size, etc., under given circumstances are.

Indeed, it's only called the Laffer Curve because Laffer's name happened to become associated with it. The concept goes back millenia. Look it up sometime.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse

You know a lot more about it than I do. But I'll let you know if I learn anything useful. Maybe we can use the Bernie-Scott backchannel to coordinate. OK, guys?

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 11:59 AM
........................

It is none of your business if Bernie and Scott wish to communicate by Email. What are you, a former Stasi agent?

Your move to The Green Party is The Democrats gain.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

There are no paid Right Wing blog trolls. Because the Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Boys would never stoop to paid deception. because that would be wrong. Got it, Kevin. Thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"On the subject of fallacies, here is a big one."

Truer words were never said of what followed.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Look at this and tell me whether this isn't the future of the relationship between multinational corporations and their workforce.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1OkZ3xowKQ

There are slaves in the world and there are great quantities of people exploited by finance capital. There is an enormous difference between an exploited work force and an enslaved one. I know you know that, but we are talking about the 17th up to the 20th century, when there were only those two categories (except in Russia where they still had serfs).

The American middle class can be viewed properly as a fabulous historical anomaly. You can't use the existence (too brief) of this country's upwardly mobile workforce as a benchmark.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

"The question of whether the process of dealing with the 3/5 compromise was part of the cause of the Civil War, I think that answer is clearly yes, as each new state was added, the question of whether it would enhance or detract from slavepower had to be fought over."

I fully agree with this. (Wow...peace is breaking out all over.)

The seeds of the Civil War were undoubtedly sown during the negotiations over the nation's founding. The founders essentially agreed to kick the can down the road, ignoring fundamental disputes in order to achieve agreement at the time. This made an ultimate confrontation over those fundamental disputes inevitable.

"What if the framers said no to the compromise and slave states collapsed on their own? Could the Union have survived without them? Why yes, it could have, might even have been better off without the Southern bomb throwers in the government. "

I don't know how much better off we would have been, but certainly a smaller union could have survived. But since the prevention of the Civil War was your original question, I think a far more interesting notion is whether or not the south should have been allowed to secede. Why not let them go?

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: bsimon1 - So we're back to square one. If Congress doesn't use the CBO numbers, what numbers do they use?
----------------------------------------
Damn good question. The Dem AND Repub leadership need to dig in and find out WHY the CBO is consistently, insanely, wrong. Once that is figured out, the methodology needs to be changed. Neither party has worked at fixing it. Both I'm sure have self serving reasons.

However, the fact that Greg is uneducated vis-a-vis the CBO was the point of my post.
The WaPo needs to hire only educated writers...

Posted by: illogicbuster | January 7, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

"It is none of your business"

What's my business is none of your business. Go kneel before your Obama statue.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: bsimon1 - So we're back to square one. If Congress doesn't use the CBO numbers, what numbers do they use?
----------------------------------------
Damn good question. The Dem AND Repub leadership need to dig in and find out WHY the CBO is consistently, insanely, wrong. Once that is figured out, the methodology needs to be changed. Neither party has worked at fixing it. Both I'm sure have self serving reasons.

However, the fact that Greg is uneducated vis-a-vis the CBO was the point of my post.
The WaPo needs to hire only educated writers...

Posted by: illogicbuster | January 7, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I think a far more interesting notion is whether or not the south should have been allowed to secede. Why not let them go?

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 12:26 PM |

You forget that it was The Confederacy that started the Civil War. The question should be; why did they resort to starting the armed conflict?

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"I think a far more interesting notion is whether or not the south should have been allowed to secede. Why not let them go?"

Yes and what role, for example did Thomas Jefferson's life and work play in the legacy of that most fateful decision? I've often wondered about the peculiar placement of Washington D.C. Right across the river, in those days of course were slave plantations. Robert E. Lee courted his wife, a Custus, there. Monticello was just a little more than a day away, not to mention Richmond. The nearby battles, it is as if slavery were built into the heart of the union and then tore it apart. People think of the Old South as being centered somewhere on that line between Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. That isn't true.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

"It is none of your business"

What's my business is none of your business. Go kneel before your Obama statue.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 12:30 PM |

..........................

You sure hate President Obama just as much as The Tea Party does.

Nice work, Right Wing Trojan Horse Troll. You sure did a great job passing as a Progressive, when all along, all you were trying to do was to divide those who might support Democrats.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Liam-still - "You forget that it was The Confederacy that started the Civil War. The question should be; why did they resort to starting the armed conflict?"
-----------------------------------------
Incorrect. The CSA didn't resort to arms until the US Pres ordered that armed US troops stay in the CSA.

Retake US History at your nearest elementary school...

Posted by: illogicbuster | January 7, 2011 12:51 PM | Report abuse

@Ethan2010: "Who do you think makes clothes for the Gap, Old Navy, etc? Not middle class suburbanites. Global capitalism is built almost entirely on -ahem- 'cheap labor'."

Good golly. Said as if I had said it. The planets align yet again, and Ethan2010 and I become, at least for the moment, virtual twins.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

"Nice work, Right Wing Trojan Horse Troll. You sure did a great job passing as a Progressive, when all along, all you were trying to do was to divide those who might support Democrats."

Your ON to me! My two-year plan is finally working. My, you are clever one. Must be all that twisting oneself into a pretzel defending this horrible failure of a presidency. I can't wait for your excuse when Obama guts Social Security.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@wbgonne: "There are no paid Right Wing blog trolls. Because the Chamber of Commerce and the Koch Boys would never stoop to paid deception. because that would be wrong. Got it, Kevin. Thanks for clearing that up."

I did say there are no trolls, right wing or otherwise, trolling modestly trafficked blog comment areas to "disrupt" conversation. I never said that the CoC and Koch Boys would never stoop to paid deception, because "that would be wrong". Never said anything like it, and I suspect it demonstrated the weakness of your argument (one that you probably perceive) that you feel characterizing your retort thusly is necessary.

I'm not saying there aren't paid right wing trolls because no one would stoop to doing it (indeed, there is plenty of political astroturfing on both sides, where it might possibly have some impact), but that would be pointless in blogs, and why would it be happening almost two years before the next election cycle?

Paid (and voluntary--and most of it is voluntary, even when it comes to actual astroturfing) is real, when it comes to, say, ruining Digg as a useful aggregator or reading reviews of liberal or conservative books on Amazon or ratings of certain movies.

But the idea that right wing "trolls" (of which, as far as I can tell, we only have one) are paid makes no sense. And not because of what moneyed political big whigs are willing, or have scruples, about doing, but because it would be an extraordinarily poor investment, a bad idea, completely ineffectual (as it is, even though done for free) and would have no effect on votes or elections or media coverage . . . spamming petitions would make more sense. And it happens. And it's almost all voluntary--someone puts out the world on a few sympathetic or conservative websites, and then the volunteers do the rest. Why pay for what people are already going to do for free?

Again, street preachers aren't paid, either. In case you thought they were. That irritating co-worker who would corner you at lunch and witness to you about accepting Jesus Christ as your lord and savior--that person wasn't paid, either.

I've recently seen a short debate on whether or not people who liked Tron:Legacy and were saying so on Aintitcoolnews.com were paid, or plants, which just leads me to believe (as an unpaid "I freakin' love that movie" true believer acolyte of Tron:Legacy) that certain people just believe that there beliefs are so natural and correct that unless people are being bribed, or tortured, into expressing contrary beliefs, it can't possibly happen.

Yet there is a much simpler explanation. And that is, there are people who disagree with you. And some of those people like to hear themselves talk (or read themselves type). And they happened to find the comments section of a blog where it is handy to do so. And political debates, which some enjoy, can be had without offending anybody (a reason I generally skirt the topic of politics with most friends and family).

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Ethan,

"So why not SAY practice if that's what you were referring to?"

Obviosly, I wasn't referring to practice but to theory, which as you concede is what describes practice. Amazing that you trump up artificial disputes and go into such contortions to accuse me of doing it.

"Yes. My point was that his style is way more amenable to discussion than yours while saying essentially the same thing. You simply have a fundamentally intellectually dishonest approach where people who cannot agree on the substance of an issue are inherently at war to the death with each other."

Amazing. I said this:

"Are you prepared to admit that the "living constitution" theory concerns interpretation of the text as it is and not the amendment process?"

To which your answer was an unqualidied "Yes," but you now say was intellectually dishonest compared to NoVA, whose comment on my comment was:

"That's really the crux of the issue. Because the document has been amended doesn't strike a blow against an "originalist" reading. Nor does it say that the "living" reading is accurate."

I think we can all see your brilliant intellectual honesty and consistency, and your humility, shining through.

"I'm not sure whether those authors AGREE on the theory of the "living Constitution" or the practice of interpretation, but there you have -- with a simple google search -- evidence of the long-running debate on the ambiguity of language in the Constitution. Evidence and a debate that you generally ignore in an intellectually dishonest fashion."

Please point out where I've denied that there is broad or even ambiguous language in the Constitution. What you previously asserted was something much more than that. You claimed that it was written vaguely because the drafters disagreed, and so they left it to judges to decide how to resolve their disagreements and "form a more perfect union."

The other day I gave you a relevant quotation from the Federalist -- Madison saying that the powers of the federal government were "few and defined" in the Constitution. Please supply whatever evidence you have that, to the contrary, those powers were left vague and undefined because the drafters disagreed what they should be and thus left it to judges to decide.


Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey Kevin:

Does Fox News "work"?

Case closed.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

@e: "I did say there are no trolls, right wing or otherwise, trolling modestly trafficked blog comment areas to 'disrupt' conversation"

No "paid" trolls, I should have said.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

"The question should be; why did they resort to starting the armed conflict?" Well many books have been written on this topic. I am sure you have been reading the ongoing NYT serial in this regard.

The short answer is, as each new state was added, the battle over free state versus slavepower status got hotter and hotter until an explosion seemed inevitable. The South put itself in that position for a variety of well known reasons. The 3/5 clause was central to those battles, obviously.

But beneath the surface, the war happened because slavery's doomed business model was trying to protect itself from the inevitable, by force.

The question of why the North did not let them go, well books have been written about that too, but I don't think they answer the question. The ones I've read all seem to, one way or another, be written to either justify the decision or cast it as unavoidable, as if the question of the Civil War were settled, it was only a question of how the details played out.

Does anyone know of any scholarly work on whether the question of letting the slave states secede without a fight was taken seriously? My reading suggests it never was, there were no, "we'll all be better off if we just them them go," forces. I think this true was for many reasons, perhaps even because of things like geography, "Ok, so now Virginia is in another country?" That was not seen as a realistic possibility.

In those days the fate of places like California, Nevada, The Oregon Territory (Go Ducks!!), they were on everyone's mind. If people who didn't like being part of the USA could just quit, well, the Yankee money wasn't going to go for that.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

If only there were no paid conservative trolls on this blog, liberals would be able to . . . .?

Dems would have kept he House and increased their majorities?

Alan Grayson would be committee chair?

The public option would be law?

There would be no "tax cuts for the rich"?

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@Liam-still "I think a far more interesting notion is whether or not the south should have been allowed to secede. Why not let them go?

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 12:26 PM |

You forget that it was The Confederacy that started the Civil War. The question should be; why did they resort to starting the armed conflict?"

The events between Lincoln's election and the firing on Ft. Sumter are more complicated than generally known.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/a-gentlemens-agreement-at-the-white-house/

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/13/how-lincoln-undid-the-union/

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/21/the-narrowest-of-loopholes/

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/02/war-in-the-cabinet/#more-74495

For those who aren't following it, the New York Times has a great series called Disunion which has a weekly account of the events leading up to the Civil War.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/disunion/

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

jnc4p, I think most people aren't really interested in historical detail. sadly. Some can't even tell the difference between slavery and workers who don't get paid enough.

The desire to mock someone provides the motive force for I'd say ~80 of the keystrokes here and this is a good one (thanks to the Troll Hunter, without which none of this would be possible, sniff, snortle, thanks Kevin...). Some places, attacking and mocking each other is all they do.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The fact remains that The South was a part of The Union, and therefore The Federal government had every right to keep forces stationed there. The confederates resorted to a sneak armed assault on forces of the USA.

It was an act of infamy, just like the attack on Pearl Harbor. A lot of southerners keep trying to rewrite history, and try to portray their states as the victims, when in fact they were the aggressors that chose to start the civil war, and for most of it, they were waging it outside the confederate states.

Lee was a bloody thirsty traitor, and should have been executed for his war crimes.

The way he sent so many thousands of his own forces into the meat grinder with Pickett's charge, was just as an act of incredible savagery against his own troops.

Posted by: Liam-still | January 7, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Liam:

"You forget that it was The Confederacy that started the Civil War. The question should be; why did they resort to starting the armed conflict?"

Well, yes, sort of. I do agree that the decision to fire on Fort Sumter was not a particularly wise pre-emptive move, providing, as it did, a justification for Lincoln to do what he wanted to do in any event. So yes, strictly speaking, you are right...the South started the war. And it would be interesting to know the course of events had the South shown more patience. But of course we all know that Lincoln was committed to preventing secession, so it is not altogether fair to imply that the South could have gone on its merry way had they simply not picked a fight. That's not what happened. Indeed, South Carolina had already seceded at the time of Fort Sumter, so from SC's point of view, it did not start the Civil War, but rather attacked a foreign occupier. The fact that Lincoln did not view the event as a foreign attack, but rather as an insurrection shows that he was not going to let anyone secede without a fight.

So, yes, the South fired the first shot, but had the federal government been negotiating with the South over the terms of secession (ie allowing it), rather than simply proclaiming that secession was not allowed, it is highly unlikely that any such shots would have been fired. The Civil War was inevitable because Lincoln and the north were committed to preventing secession, not because the seceding states picked a fight.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

@ScottC3 "So, yes, the South fired the first shot, but had the federal government been negotiating with the South over the terms of secession (ie allowing it), rather than simply proclaiming that secession was not allowed, it is highly unlikely that any such shots would have been fired. The Civil War was inevitable because Lincoln and the north were committed to preventing secession, not because the seceding states picked a fight."

You guys should really read the New York Times Disunion series. You may be surprised about how much of secession and the start of the Civil War wasn't an intentional plan on the part of Lincoln or South Carolina but rather a series of poor judgment calls and misplaced if well intentioned reactions on the part of the Buchanan administration (or at least what was left of it after the resignations of several cabinet Secretaries) to a series of unforeseen events while they tried to buy time for a compromise to be worked out. In many ways, events took on a life of their own.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/category/disunion/

One of the unfortunate habits of studying history with the current perspective is the view that things were "inevitable".

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

" I've often wondered about the peculiar placement of Washington D.C. "

It was actually quite deliberate. As you know,, the divisions between the north and south were hardly a secret at the time of the founding, and committing to moving the capitol from the north to a place "in between" was a concession that helped pave the way for ratification. Despite the founders many attempts to avoid the slavery problem, it was the elephant in the room that dictated many of the events that led to the creation of the nation.

"People think of the Old South as being centered somewhere on that line between Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. That isn't true."

I still think the heart of the South is the deep south. Don't forget that Virginia didn't secede until after the first shots had been fired, and had spent considerable efforts attempting to avert the secession crisis. Like Lee himself, Virginia in general was a reluctant participant, acting more out of resignation than out of a fevered desire to be out of the Union.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

jnc:

Thanks for the link. I'll take a look.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

@Liam-still "and for most of it, they were waging it outside the confederate states. "

What's your factual evidence for this?

Aside from the Antietam Campaign (September 4–20, 1862) and the Gettysburg Campaign (June - July 1863), the majority of the Civil War battles occurred in the Confederacy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryland_Campaign

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Campaign

Also of note:

"On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called any secession "legally void". He stated he had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, but that he would use force to maintain possession of federal property. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union.

The South sent delegations to Washington and offered to pay for the federal properties and enter into a peace treaty with the United States. Lincoln rejected any negotiations with Confederate agents because the Confederacy was not a legitimate government, and that making any treaty with it would be tantamount to recognition of it as a sovereign government. However, Secretary of State William Seward engaged in unauthorized and indirect negotiations that failed."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_War#The_beginning_of_the_war.2C_1861

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Conference_of_1861

Posted by: jnc4p | January 7, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

@wbgonne: "Does Fox News 'work'?"

Are you comparing conversations in the comments section on individual posts in a WaPo blog with top rated cable television news network?

I think there's a small gap between the efficacy of Bill O'Rielly and ScottC3 (no offense, ScottC3, and your heroic efforts in the name of our glorious cause).

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 7, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

No stone unturned, Kevin. Try to keep up.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 7, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"Like Lee himself, Virginia in general was a reluctant participant, acting more out of resignation than out of a fevered desire to be out of the Union."

Hey, you know, you and I got off on the wrong foot. So, what is that thing called resignation? How did people come to decide it was inevitable and then engage and prosecute obscene slaughter? This was entirely different from WWI, or other wars with obscure origins.

As you say, this one was as if it were written into the Constitution, they had so much time to work it out. It was always the elephant in the room. But everyone knew that and still, they just could not stop themselves. I have to believe it was partly to do with the way Texas came in, the way new states came in in general, but it was getting so nasty on the frontiers, somehow that made the fight at the core. It is imaginable though, that the North's way of life could have gone on undisturbed and the lives of the slave culture as well, it isn't as if they were at each other. The war was made in Washington, in the halls of Congress. Resignation, usually we do better than that.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

@QB:

"""Please point out where I've denied that there is broad or even ambiguous language in the Constitution. What you previously asserted was something much more than that. You claimed that it was written vaguely because the drafters disagreed, and so they left it to judges to decide how to resolve their disagreements and "form a more perfect union."

The other day I gave you a relevant quotation from the Federalist -- Madison saying that the powers of the federal government were "few and defined" in the Constitution. Please supply whatever evidence you have that, to the contrary, those powers were left vague and undefined because the drafters disagreed what they should be and thus left it to judges to decide."""

Hahaha!

Ummm, okay okay you win.

The framers wrote language that was ambiguous and vague BY ACCIDENT!

Maybe they weren't smart enough to figure out specific language?

Maybe they were (*gasp*) LIBERALS!

Honestly, why even have this conversation?

Obviously they left language vague intentionally so that the Congress can draft law and so the judiciary can interpret the wording.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | January 7, 2011 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"Ummm, okay okay you win. "

Yeah me!! Yeah me!!

"Obviously they left language vague intentionally so that the Congress can draft law and so the judiciary can interpret the wording."

There is a difference between breadth and vagueness. They most certainly didn't aim for that latter.


Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

"the" latter

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 7, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

"Hey, you know, you and I got off on the wrong foot. "

I blame global warming.

"It is imaginable though, that the North's way of life could have gone on undisturbed and the lives of the slave culture as well, it isn't as if they were at each other. "

It is imaginable for a time. But let's imagine just that - the at the founding two nations were formed, largely similar in governmental structure, but distinguished by a gulf in attitude towards the institution of slavery. These two nations live side by side in peace for a time. But they each naturally want to expand into the vast and largely uninhabited reaches of the frontier. One of them, morally outraged at the thought of the depraved institution expanding its horizons (and of course with the thoughts of the riches to be found there) makes it a priority to establish outposts and gain control of the frontier. The other nation, fearful for the future of its distinctive if odd institution (which, deep down in places they don't talk about at their plantation parties, they know to be at least morally questionable), and of course with the thoughts of the riches to be found there, also seeks to establish position in the frontier. And what about that treaty between the nations regarding property, meant to regulate the movement of slavers with their slaves across the border of the two nations? It's been essentially voided by the Supreme Court of the Northern United States which, with no voices sympathetic to the travails of slave owners, has ruled that persons cannot possibly be property, so really the slave owners are out of pocket if their slaves manage to set a foot on Northern US soil. And let's not forget that underground railway that has been established by abolitionists to take advantage of the Supreme Court ruling by smuggling slaves up into freedom, a place where the slave owners don't have any legal standing to retrieve their "property".

Do you think there might be some cross-border tensions between these two imaginary nations that might flare up into an all out war? I do. Indeed, given the slaughters that occasionally take place out in the frontier during what have come to be known as the "land-grab" conflicts, it's almost a certainty that the respective armies will end up clashing in some way at some point.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

It is true what you say, they were angry and afraid of each other. But there is nothing about the situation that said, you have to risk everything, put everything you know on the line. It wasn't a poker game. Balkanization is standard fare. Turkey with the Kurds, why do they bother? Let them form their own little benighted tribal nation on the boulder fields...well, that is until the US got there and made the partition of Iraq inevitable.

Anyway, the underground railroad didn't make the war inevitable. It just illustrated the fact that slavery was over. The South could have recognized that, they could have gotten in front of the curve. But they decided to violate Tallyrand's rule, the secret of winning in politics, you realize what is inevitable and expedite it.

I am going to blame Thomas Jefferson for the "resignation" that made preventing the Civil War impossible (and Andrew Jackson, but that is a corollary). I am not ready to make that case. I have to study this in more depth and I am going to change my mind if the facts don't support the position.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 3:49 PM | Report abuse

shrink:

"It just illustrated the fact that slavery was over. The South could have recognized that, they could have gotten in front of the curve. "

I agree, although it is hardly a surprise. In how many instances in history has a culture managed to see the writing on the wall and embraced a change?

"I am going to blame Thomas Jefferson..."

Fine with me. Yet another strike against him in my book. I'd be interested in what you find out. I'd tell yuo to send me an e-mail, but I don't want you to get on wbgonne's sh-t list.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 7, 2011 4:19 PM | Report abuse

"It is true what you say, they were angry and afraid of each other. But there is nothing about the situation that said, you have to risk everything, put everything you know on the line. It wasn't a poker game. Balkanization is standard fare. Turkey with the Kurds, why do they bother? Let them form their own little benighted tribal nation on the boulder fields...well, that is until the US got there and made the partition of Iraq inevitable."

It's probably because neither side knew the real toll that the war would take, and once they got a taste, at Bull Run (right? Or Mannassas, to the south? I get confused.) then they'd all lost too much, to stop. No noe wanted to sacrifice in vein. Yeah, there were historical examples of slaughter from Napoleanic wars in Europe, but that was Europe, not here. I think you might be looking at it with perfect knowledge.

My $.02, Anyhoo.

Oh, and your a communist. (C'mon, look at my nick. I yam what I yam!)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | January 7, 2011 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Troll, sure, neither side had a clue what they were about to do to each other. Had they imagined those battles were possible, obviously, it wouldn't have happened. But they had to know it was going to be really bad and that once they started they couldn't stop, the bellicose posturing had gone on for decades and there were historians in the mix. I'm stuck on the idea of resignation, "ok, this is going to be really bad, but we said we would so now we have to."

You fascist baby killer (just to maintain appearances)


Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"Troll, sure, neither side had a clue what they were about to do to each other. Had they imagined those battles were possible, obviously, it wouldn't have happened. But they had to know it was going to be really bad and that once they started they couldn't stop, the bellicose posturing had gone on for decades and there were historians in the mix. I'm stuck on the idea of resignation, "ok, this is going to be really bad, but we said we would so now we have to.""

I think both sides thought it would be quick.  Plus, I think the South underestimated Lincoln's resolve and the unifying effect that dead Northern soldiers would have on the North. Though, in fairness, it took a couple of years, and soldiers had to be continuously drafted.  On both sides. Finally, It was a Civil war, and, I think, bloodier because of it.  We all "know" civil wars are the bloodiest because the passions are so personal. 

And your right, it takes on a life of it's own once it gets started.

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | January 7, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

You make sense to me all of a sudden. Maybe we should talk about what we know more and less about what we wish for.

I won't look back here so if you want to bring this forward, I'll be back at the Roundup in a few hours. It is good to talk to you, I'm a major history buff.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 7, 2011 5:09 PM | Report abuse

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