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Posted at 8:35 AM ET, 01/25/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* No Social Security cuts: No, Obama will not endorse any of his deficit commission's ideas about cutting Social Security in his speech tonight, and his call for deficit reduction will be made only in general terms. It's more grist for the theory that his call for reining in the deficit is a set up to what will follow: An effort to redefine the sensible center on Obama's own terms, as a place where fiscal discipline needn't translate into immediate draconian cuts and can comfortably coexist with smart government investment in the country's future.

* Line in the sand on Social Security? The key caveat in the above link: "Administration officials cautioned that Obama is not necessarily taking benefit cuts off the table." The question now is whether Obama's current posture on Social Security means he'll draw a line in the sand on the issue against Republicans, or whether he's merely deferring the eventuality of reaching some sort of deal on cuts.

* Obama's challenge: Persuade people of wisdom of long term fiscal discipline: Obama will try to strike a very delicate balance tonight: Signaling seriousness about the debt while simultaneously pressing for more immediate government investment in our economy. This will require him to persuade the public that fiscal discipline is best imposed over the long haul.

* The media's definition of "centrism": Politico, The Hill, and other outlets are already rushing to interpret Obama's speech as a move to the "center," but as Jed Lewison notes, this says "more about their changing definition of `centrism' than anything else."

The point here, as I noted yesterday, is that Obama is not moving to the center so much as trying to redefine the center as more in line with the arguments he's already making and the policies he's already pursuing.

* The long-term case for infrastructure spending: Relatedly, with Republicans set to oppose any suggestion of spending, keep an eye on how Obama makes the case for infrastructure investment not just for short term jobs, but as an imperative for our long-term economic competitiveness.

* Obama's larger economic vision: Also, as Ezra Klein notes, the question is whether Obama's speech will successfully communicate a "grand economic vision," drawing a "clear line in the sand between the two parties on a central matter of economic policy."

* Balancing optimism with realism: Worth watching tonight: How Obama tries to buoy optimism about the economy and about our future while simultaneously signaling he fully grasps the economic plight of millions of Americans.

* Paul Ryan's big breakout moment? GOP Rep Paul Ryan, who hopes to break out onto the national stage with his SOTU response tonight, is being counseld to act like Reagan.

* Michele Bachmann will be the most important figure in America tonight: Okay, not really. The GOP leadership is taking pains to point out that Bachmann's Tea Party-flavored response to the SOTU tonight only embodies the opinion of one out of 534 members of Congress.

* Also: Will the media view the GOP's response to the SOTU through the prism of Bachmann's speech tonight? You betcha!

* Forget the SOTU. After tonight, it's back to partisan business-as-usual: Mark Blumenthal speculates that tonight's speech could paradoxically mark the end of a period of relative calm (lame duck cooperation, Tucson shooting) in our politics, ushering in a return to the usual partisan food-fighting. In other words, tomorrow the real fun begins.

* Filibuster reformers not backing off: Jeff Merkley, Tom Harkin and Tom Udall give the thumbs-down to a scaled back filibuster reform package that Dem leaders are trying to negotiate with Republicans in order to pass it with bipartisan support.

* Also: The bipartisan "deal" on filibuster reform would eliminate secret holds and other stalling tactics, but it would not force Senators to actually filibuster, a central plank of the reformers' plan.

* Report finds Bush officials broke the law, but... Though the Office of Special Counsel has now determined that Karl Rove and other Bush officials violated the Hatch Act, the Obama Justice Department won't say whether there are any plans to press charges.

* Also: As Steve Benen notes, this latest really does make GOP Rep. Darrell Issa's recent claim that the Obama administration is "corrupt" look exceedingly ridiculous.

* And are Republicans more prone to violent rhetoric than Dems? A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute finds that 35 percent of respondents say Republicans "more often" use "violent images or language during political arguments," versus 23 percent who say the same about Dems. Twenty three percent pin the blame on both parties.

But: "33% of voters said liberals use violent rhetoric more, while 27% said conservatives do," which may reflect the larger pool of conservative respondents, not to mention the fact that conservatives are fed a steady diet of lies about liberals by their outlets of choice.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | January 25, 2011; 8:35 AM ET
Categories:  House GOPers, Morning Plum, Senate Dems, Tea Party, deficit, filibuster  
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Next: The Republican SOTU reponse doesn't matter

Comments

"Paul Ryan...is being [counseled] to act like Reagan."

Genius, who had any clue the Republicans would come up with this strategy?

Posted by: shrink2 | January 25, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Take these two together...

"Report finds Bush officials broke the law, but... Though the Office of Special Counsel has now determined that Karl Rove and other Bush officials violated the Hatch Act, the Obama Justice Department won't say whether there are any plans to press charges.

* Also: As Steve Benen notes, this latest really does make GOP Rep. Darrell Issa's recent claim that the Obama administration is "corrupt" look exceedingly ridiculous."

I would be quite comfortable, if I were in this administration, to suggest to Issa and others that if they were to proceed with the sort of investigate-everything stategy employed against Clinton (not necessarily to find something but to suggest corruption - where there's smoke there's probably fire) then these findings (thorough and documented) could advance to full-throated indictments with all the attending news coverage.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 25, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Brought forward from last thread for enjoyment of liberals.

Great moments in political whining, 1994:

"CLINTON: After I get off the radio today with you, Rush Limbaugh will have three hours to say whatever he wants --

HOST: Would you like to leave a message?

CLINTON: -- and I won't have any opportunity to respond. And there's no truth detector. You won't get on afterwards and say what was true and what wasn't."


And 2010 edition (with bonus eliminationist hate rhetoric):

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/obama-says-fox-news-promotes-destructive-viewpoint/

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 25, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

And, on the asinine commentary on last night's thread re "socialism" and it's Marxist roots...

"Here’s a couple quotes from Yale historian Steve Pincus’ 1688: The First Modern Revolution that I like:

Not only did the Whigs believe there had been a transformation of religious affairs, they also believed that the events of 1688-89 had ushered in a radical transformation of social policy. Robert Molesworth, who had been a strong supporter of the Whig ministry in the first decade of the century, clearly enunciated this position. Because defenders of the revolution believed, along with John Locke, that labor rather than land was the basis of all wealth, Molesworth argued that a government according to the revolutions principles would have a wide-ranging social agenda. “The supporting of public credit, promoting of all public buildings and highways, the making of all rivers navigable that are capable of it, employing the poor, suppressing idlers, restraining monopolies upon trade, maintaining the liberty of the press, the just paying and encouraging of all in the public service,” all this and more Molesworth argued with the consequence of the revolution."

http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/2011/01/paleoliberalism/

Posted by: bernielatham | January 25, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

And I'll post this short piece from Yglesias because it's good. And because I'm getting really really pissed at people who lie every day and have not the slightest apparent qualms about it...

"More Postcards From The Texas Miracle

Look who loves a good federal bailout:


Texas Gov. Rick Perry likes to tell Washington to stop meddling in state affairs. He vocally opposed the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus program to spur the economy and assist cash-strapped states. Perry also likes to trumpet that his state balanced its budget in 2009, while keeping billions in its rainy day fund. But he couldn’t have done that without a lot of help from … guess where? Washington. Turns out Texas was the state that depended the most on those very stimulus funds to plug nearly 97% of its shortfall for fiscal 2010, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


This is one of the areas in which the political economy of the United States has had its most severe breakdown. Over the past year, conservatives have simultaneously complained about inadequate job growth and excessive public sector employment even though public sector employment has been declining and offsetting private sector job growth. At the same time, conservative state-level politicians who would have been in disastrous shape if not for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have been running around the country pretending to believe that it’s a huge burden on them.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 25, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

"Paul Ryan...is being [counseled] to act like Reagan."

So he's going to say deficits don't matter, that we should pass the largest tax increases during peacetime in history, and call for an elimination of nuclear weapons?

That should be interesting!

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | January 25, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

"Paul Ryan...is being [counseled] to act like Reagan."

ugh. be your own man. Ryan needs to find his own voice if he's to be successful. Trying to channel the spirit of Reagan isn't going to work. I also think that the weight we put on these speeches is way out of whack. Assume Ryan really nails it -- that shouldn't fast-track him to viable candidate status. And a flub shouldn't derail him either.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 25, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Last paragraph of the "Bush WH broke the law" article:

"The Obama administration, just last week, announced that it was terminating its own version of the Office of Political Affairs, as Mr. Obama decided to move his re-election campaign operation to Chicago, with the duties of the political office being taken up by the Democratic National Committee."

Convenient and timely.

I don't think anyone is going to be too impressed with charges from the hyperpolitical Obama Admin/OFA that Republicans violated the Hatch Act.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 25, 2011 8:59 AM | Report abuse

"Obama is not moving to the center so much as trying to redefine the center as more in line with the arguments he's already making and the policies he's already pursuing."

Greg: I think you are stretching this point. The real question is what he intends going forward and ALL signs are that Obama will indeed move to the Right of where he has been the past 2 years.

For instance:

"Carol M. Browner, the White House coordinator for energy and climate change policy, will leave the administration shortly, officials confirmed Monday night. Her departure signals at least a temporary slowing of the ambitious environmental goals of President Obama’s first two years in the face of new Republican strength in Congress. ... Her departure leaves the administration’s other major environmental and energy policy makers without a strong advocate at the White House. But in the face of Republican skepticism about climate change and strong opposition to environmental regulation, the administration will be spending more time defending the modest policy gains of the past two years than advancing new proposals. ... Scott Segal, an energy expert at Bracewell & Giuliani, a law and lobbying firm in Washington, said Ms. Browner’s leaving might be a sign that the administration would be more sensitive to the concerns of business."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/25/us/politics/25browner.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

At some point Liberals and Democrats are going to have to face up to the fact that Obama would have been a moderate Republican 30 years ago. The danger now is that he turns even further to the Right.

You write:

"The key caveat in the above link: "Administration officials cautioned that Obama is not necessarily taking benefit cuts off the table." The question now is whether Obama's current posture on Social Security means he'll draw a line in the sand on the issue against Republicans, or whether he's merely deferring the eventuality of reaching some sort of deal on cuts."

A Democratic president refusing to take Social Security cuts off the table? How much further to the Right can Obama go and still be considered a Democrat?

Posted by: wbgonne | January 25, 2011 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Will he demand of China, "tear down that wall?"

Posted by: shrink2 | January 25, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Will he demand of China, "tear down that wall?"

more like "tear down that fire-wall"

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 25, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse

How much further to the Right can Obama go and still be considered a Democrat?

And to answer my question with another: How far Right can the Democratic Party go and still be considered a meaningful alternative to the GOP?

Posted by: wbgonne | January 25, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

quarterback1, the difference of course is that Obama's officials are still in government service.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 25, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

bernie, Republicans can not put freedom and socialism into any order other than opposition, it is a belief system, like the beatification and later hagiography of Ronald Reagan.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 25, 2011 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

""And because I'm getting really really pissed at people who lie every day...""

You mean by saying things like "Providing meals and other sorts of support for poor families is supported by liberals moreso than modern conservatives"?

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 25, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

NoVa, :)

Posted by: shrink2 | January 25, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

And as I explained yesterday, if Obama truly wants to redefine the Center in American politics the only way to do it is to clear space on the Left by defending Liberals and Liberalism. Otherwise, Rightward is the only direction open. Obama Administration has moved the Center to the Right by marginalizing and denigrating the Left. When Obama stands up to Conservatives and defends Liberalism he will be doing something real; until then this is just semantic gamesmanship and re-election ploys.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 25, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Greg's trip to the dentist turned out fine.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 25, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

CNN is carrying Bachmann's retort.

The one aspect here that I haven't seen anyone speak to re the Bachmann response is.... it's not Palin.

And that suggests a flip in the power dynamics.

Bachmann has the same base and can harvest the same "grizzly mama" meme. In effect, Bachmann fills the growing void created by Palin's diminished status (good for the movement, really really bad for Palin's ego).

Posted by: bernielatham | January 25, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

"Evan Bayh walks through the revolving door
By Ezra Klein"

In 2010, Sen. Evan Bayh retired. Part of the reason, he told me, was that the corrosive effect of money in politics had left his profession looking corrupt. "You want to be engaged in an honorable line of work," Bayh said, "but they look at us like we're worse than used-car salesmen." On Friday, Bayh announced that he was joining Apollo Global Management, a private-equity megafirm, as "a senior adviser with responsibility for public policy." Something tells me that this isn't going to vastly improve the way Americans think about their politicians."

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/01/evan_bayh_walks_through_the_re.html

Posted by: bernielatham | January 25, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

And Democrats wonder why they are in freefall.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 25, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"And, on the asinine commentary on last night's thread re "socialism" and it's Marxist roots..."

Shucks, I guess we now have to admit the truth, that socialism was the policy of the post-Glorious Revolution Whigs. Who adopted it from Locke, of course.

Heckuva job, bernie and yglesias (h/t Pincus).

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 25, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"bernie, Republicans can not put freedom and socialism into any order other than opposition, it is a belief system, like the beatification and later hagiography of Ronald Reagan."

shrink, given your argument on freedom and socialism, haven't you here fallen prey to condemning your own position by the same token? I.e., you define freedom and socialism as inseparable, hence it is a belief system.

So what do you prove with this?

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 25, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

shrink:

""Republicans can not put freedom and socialism into any order other than opposition, it is a belief system...""

No, it is the consequence of the meanings of the words. Freedom means the absence of coercion. Socialism requires the application of coercion. Hence they are in conflict. Now, you might argue that the coercion required by socialism is a good thing, or that freedom of the type prevented by socialism is a bad thing. But doing so does not render the two concepts compatible. No matter how many times you repeat the claim.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 25, 2011 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@shrink - head banger, isn't it? The slaves of Sweden. Canadian feudal tyranny. Thank god for the US of A, a beacon that lights the way forward for the world like the single working headlight on a K car.

Posted by: bernielatham | January 25, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Even if the Hatch Act was violated, there's no criminal or even civil penalties left. Violations of Hatch Act provisions applicable to federal employees are punishable by removal, or a minimum 30-day suspension. Bush officials are already gone.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 25, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Did the polling firm ask Which Party is more likely to use Hyperbole ???

.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 25, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

MICHELE BACHMANN'S SOTU RESPONSE IS EXCELLENT NEWS!! FOR THE GOP!!!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 25, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they should go even further back.

Maybe Ryan should act more like Lincoln or even George Washington!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 25, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

...freedom and socialism as inseparable, yes that is correct...

Freedom requires the judicious application of coercion, as when a President has to send the 101st Airborne to Little Rock Arkansas to escort nine little kids to school. Don't Republicans always say freedom is not free? Well, when you spend money to defend freedom what is that money doing? It coerces. As I've said freedom and socialism exist in a dynamic tension, coequal and interdependent (like men and women?). When that balance is upset, or poorly applied, only then they appear to be mutually exclusive.

Posted by: shrink2 | January 25, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Or maybe Ryan should act more like the Pilgrims that landed on Plymoth Rock or possibly even Christopher Columbus?

Perhaps Julius Ceasar?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 25, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse

clawrence

I would like to see the investigation into Obama's departments on the Hatch Act - which have been supporting the health care bill.

Seriously, just a few weeks ago, there was some HHS report that came out which was blantantly political.

In addition, the Obama people were using government money to run TV ads with Andy Griffth promoting the health care bill and attempting to build support for the provisions of the bil - WAY over the line.

The Hatch Act is one of those acts - you need the evidence - you need someone to want to go against the person, and its not easy. I think I remember the Clinton people getting themselves into some issues here and, on their own, pulling back.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 25, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"@shrink - head banger, isn't it? The slaves of Sweden. Canadian feudal tyranny. Thank god for the US of A, a beacon that lights the way forward for the world like the single working headlight on a K car"

This is why bernie consistently fails to live up to the billing he gives himself as rational, fair-minded intellectual. I would hope, bernie, that you're conversant with the history of ideas of liberty, including Isaiah Berlin's important essay(s). It's quite obvious that Scott, like most Americans, holds to the "negative liberty" view, which, whether or not you approve it, at least has the virtue of logical clarity.

If you and your library are all you promote yourself to be, you could probably peck out a few lines of something meaningful about this. But, rather than actually engage ideas, you consistently do little more than lay down snark and condescending dismissal of ideas you don't like and -- what is obvious to me -- don't want your liberal brethren to engage in any serious way.

Your like a strange itinerant and free-lance censor, attending to make sure that folks sleepily in line with your leftist goals never think past their unexamined assumptions and for sure don't stop to consider other ideas on their own merits. You swoop in to pat them on the head and assure them that there's nothing outside the cocoon but scary monsters and greedy conspirators.

Or maybe you really don't know any better yourself, and your library is imaginary.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 25, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

novahockey writes
"Assume Ryan really nails it -- that shouldn't fast-track him to viable candidate status. And a flub shouldn't derail him either."

Whether a boost or setback, it would likely only be temporary. For instance, Gov Jindal has not been permanently handicapped by his 'Kenneth the Page' response last year; he'll likely be on the VP shortlist for whomever wins the GOP nomination for POTUS. Likewise, if Ryan comes across as Dwight Schroot, it will only be a lost opportunity; he'll still be extremely important in the House & in the GOP.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 25, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

bernielatham, when has a non-elected official ever given a televised response? Now you are really grasping at straws.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 25, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Someone should ask Ryan how it feels going into this response that he was the second choice for this gig.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 25, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

The nation is sick of Obama trying to use "civil discourse" or "bipartisanship" as a weapon against the other side.


Obama has FUNDAMENTALLY POISONED THE POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE IN THIS COUNTRY.

Clearly, if one is bipartisan, one can not then run around claiming that is a victory for one side. That is what Obama has done.

In this way, Obama has PREVENTED bipartisanship.


GREG HOW ABOUT THAT FOR A NUANCE.


Same with "Civil Dicourse" If one is using that phrase to attack one side, or to escape blame for a smear campaign, it is NOT civil.

Quite clear.

One has to wonder if this is a RACIAL thing with Obama - tell them what they want to hear while doing the opposite.


It is cleart that Obama is ACTING OUT his anger over Jim Crow.

Amazingly, Obama's family were never slaves. And Obama really was not in this country until AFTER Jim Crow, and yet, Obama is resentful, and he appears to think that it is OK to lash out at whites.


This is a RACIAL thing.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 25, 2011 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Somebody tell Ryan to wear a fitted suit, he looks like David Byrne, or a junkie that was given the institution's last charity suit after finishing rehab.

Posted by: Papagnello | January 25, 2011 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"* No Social Security cuts: No, Obama will not endorse any of his deficit commission's ideas about cutting Social Security in his speech tonight, and his call for deficit reduction will be made only in general terms. It's more grist for the theory that his call for reining in the deficit is a set up to what will follow: An effort to redefine the sensible center on Obama's own terms, as a place where fiscal discipline needn't translate into immediate draconian cuts and can comfortably coexist with smart government investment in the country's future.

* Line in the sand on Social Security? The key caveat in the above link: "Administration officials cautioned that Obama is not necessarily taking benefit cuts off the table." The question now is whether Obama's current posture on Social Security means he'll draw a line in the sand on the issue against Republicans, or whether he's merely deferring the eventuality of reaching some sort of deal on cuts.

* Obama's challenge: Persuade people of wisdom of long term fiscal discipline: Obama will try to strike a very delicate balance tonight: Signaling seriousness about the debt while simultaneously pressing for more immediate government investment in our economy. This will require him to persuade the public that fiscal discipline is best imposed over the long haul."

All this does is show that Obama was never serious about the deficit in the first place. "fiscal discipline is best imposed over the long haul" is a complete joke.

Best quote from the article on the Social Security retirement age:

""If the president wasn't willing to embrace these sort of changes, he shouldn't have appointed a commission to find solutions. What did he expect?" said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the nonprofit Concord Coalition, which advocates for balanced budgets."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/24/AR2011012403472_2.html?sid=ST2011012403753

I don't believe that Obama will be successful in "redefining the center". Everyone already has their own definition of the center and he isn't going to persuade anyone to change their opinion at this point. Everyone has reverted to type: Republicans pass tax cuts that aren't paid for and the Democrats pass spending bills that aren't paid for. Obama has become representative of the "old politics of the past" that he so disdained during the campaign and that he ran against.

Posted by: jnc4p | January 25, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

shrink,

I was not terribly interested in the debate over defining freedom/liberty and socialism. It was your criticism that defining them in opposition is unsound because it is part of a "belief system" that I was questioning.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 25, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

[Greg crowed: "A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute finds that 35 percent of respondents say Republicans "more often" use "violent images or language during political arguments,"]

The Public Religion Research Institute is no less out to get Republicans than ALL things conservative.

USA Today trumpeted their ridiculous poll claiming great opposition in California against Prop 8 as soon as the gay federal judge overthrew the constitutional amendment.

PRRI also claimed in their “polls” that most Americans want illegal aliens naturalized, especially religious people.

Grade: F- (miserable failure)

*zero credibility*

/dismissed

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 25, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

RainForestRising, that's what Issa is for.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 25, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Wow I got to experience the highs and lows of this blog in one day yesterday.

From the blog idiots using death and destruction of families to get some snark in about their patron saint..sister sarah the persecuted..

..to the late night discussion about socialism/insurance/and the Super Bowl.
Shrink was especially entertaining and pithy...drawing the ire of the righties...
Ddawd, Cao and as always 12Bar were interesting and we had the intellectual righties instead of the blog loons...Troll was excellent and Scott and Tao chimed in as well...Like 12Bar I enjoy those kinds of discussions...thanks to all who made last night informative and enjoyable...and thanks to whoever locked up the blog cretin and kept him away from the keyboard so we didn't have to scroll continually past his inanities.

My postscript thoughts on all this talk of "socialism" and "free enterprise". Talking in absolutes does not reflect reality and has us all operating from an either/or extreme perspective. Hence I can make a suggestion about a return to previous tax policies...which by definition should be a conservative position(no change unless it's restoring former laws)and I am called a "socialist".

But as to the discussion of what constitutes freedom...I come down on the side of Kris Kristofferson....

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
Nothing, I mean nothing honey if it ain't free, no no"

And from a Zen perspective this is true...and so let's thank our Republican friends for trying to promote as much freedom as possible by making sure we all have NOTHING...the rich get to keep it all and suffer under the enslavement of the heavy burden of wealth..while the rest of us are free...how very nice of them.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 25, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Deep thought for the morning: Palin is actually smarter and saner than Bachmann.

Posted by: AllButCertain | January 25, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Re the SOTU speech...

Not sure if the SOTU is the right format but at some point...when are the Dems going to simply release these two charts...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jobs_created_during_U.S._presidential_terms

There are clear patterns in these charts that show how the R's screw the pooch on the two pressing issues of our day...job creation..and the deficit. Historically....FACTUALLY ..the D's outperform the R's in both of these areas.

Then as an aside to bring it home...S.B. on the horizon the NFL is front and center...B.O. an avid sportsman could simply say something like..."With all due respect to the great city of Buffalo...would anybody really wish to bet the farm on the Bills in a game against the Steelers? And why not...because of their records! Why would you bet on the R's to create jobs or cut the deficit...
LOOK AT THEIR RECORD! Would you really bet on a 2-14 team against a 14-2 team?

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 25, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Clawrence

We should call him.

I'd like to see if Issa can investigate that False Smear Campaign a few weeks ago.


There is a Federal investigation going on - the Sheriff and the FBI had certain information early on - AND YET there are other Obama people attempting to LINK INNOCENT PARTIES to the crime.


That is an abuse of government powers.


Seriously.


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 25, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"But as to the discussion of what constitutes freedom...I come down on the side of Kris Kristofferson....

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose""

Dangit, ruk beat me to the punch. The interesting question is, whose idea of freedom is that? I tend to agree with ruk that it is a good statement of the (cynical) liberal perspective on "negative liberty."

Not as good as the time one of my old profs quoted Madonna to illustrate Locke, though.


Posted by: quarterback1 | January 25, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

rukidding

Let's get this straight

You come on this blog about a week ago - telling everyone how the blog is bringing out "the worst" in you.

And you make all these claims about how wonderful a person you are - and how you don't want the blog making you a horrible and vile person.


THEN you say you will be quitting - AND instead you launch into a WEEK OF VICIOUS ATTACKS against other people.

Instead of sticking to your self-proclaimed purity, you have YIELDED TO THE DARK SIDE.


Isn't that about right?


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 25, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

[Greg: "Forget the SOTU. After tonight, it's back to partisan business-as-usual"]

Last year, Obama publicly upbraided the Supreme Court during his SOTU speech for its Citizens United decision, claiming (incorrectly!) that it reversed “a century of law.”

Today, CBS wonders whether the Supremes will bother to show tonight. At least some of the Supremes will find other ways to keep themselves amused rather than participate in what Justice Antonin Scalia calls “a juvenile spectacle.”
http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504564_162-20029355-504564.html

I don't have a "Together We Thrive" T-shirt, so I don't participate in Obama pep rallies-- and neither should the Supremes. They’ve all got better things to do, even if that thing is taking an old toothbrush to the dirt in the channel of their sliding shower door or organising their sock drawer.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 25, 2011 10:40 AM | Report abuse

If Obama wants to redefine what the "center" means, why doesn't he redefine Capitalism, Socialism and Communism.


See, taxes are NOT taxes

Socialism is NOT redistribution of wealth


_________


"What's government when words have no meaning"


.

Posted by: RainForestRising | January 25, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

All, new post from Adam Serwer on why the GOP response to the SOTU doesn't matter:

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

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 25, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

@ABC

"Deep thought for the morning: Palin is actually smarter and saner than Bachmann."

Just curious if you're just tossing off some snark?

Actually IMHO Bachmann is far smarter than Palin...and far better at calculating her political future. And so while I detest what Palin has wrought on our nation I feel sorry for her personally. I don't think she is that smart and she sacrifices whatever intelligence she might possess on the altar of victimhood and self delusion.
I really believe she can't help herself.

Bachmann on the other hand is an entirely different animal. She is actually very smart by all accounts and unlike Palin well educated with at least one advanced Law Degree from the highly esteemed William and Mary. I think Bachmann is a calculating egomaniac along the lines of Newt Gingrich. She is smart and knows exactly what she's doing...trying to ride the Tea Party express into national prominence and perhaps a spot on the 2012 GOP ticket as VP. If she makes it...she
is still young enough to be a contender in 2016 and perhaps even 2020.

I don't know whether this will work out for Michelle...obviously it could represent a disaster for our nation and it'll be hard for Michelle to live down any association with a crackpot like Mark Williams...but my point is...Michelle is smart like a Fox. She didn't simply fall into her spot like Palin...she has been carefully choreographing what may be a "Hail Mary" pass but perhaps her only chance for national prominence.

The R's still have 3 sane candidates who do not scare the beejeesus out of me as ignorant ideologues...Mittens, Huck, and Ron Paul. Yeah I know I'll get some grief over saying Paul's not a rabid ideologue...perhaps a libertarian ideologue but not an inconsistent hypocritical conservative.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 25, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"Mittens, Huck, and Ron Paul. Yeah I know I'll get some grief over saying Paul's not a rabid ideologue...perhaps a libertarian ideologue but not an inconsistent hypocritical conservative"

Huck's the worst -- his brand of populism would have him in the Democratic party if there were real space there on a national level for an anti-abortion and pro-gun candidate.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 25, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

[Greg crowed: "A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute finds that 35 percent of respondents say Republicans "more often" use "violent images or language during political arguments,"]

PRRI press secretary used to work on the Obama Campaign.

PRRI CEO works for Center for American Progress (funded by billionaire Leftist sugar-daddy, George Soros).
http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/printgroupProfile.asp?grpid=6709

Greg, why do you hide these facts from readers?

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 25, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

shrink:

""Freedom requires the judicious application of coercion, as when a President has to send the 101st Airborne to Little Rock Arkansas to escort nine little kids to school.""

Nope.

It is not the "judicious" application of coercion, but rather the application of coercion in response to or as prevention of an initiation of coercion elsewhere, that freedom requires. And you would do well to remember exactly who the 101st Airborne was facing down. It was the Arkansas National Guard, acting on the orders of the governor. In other words, the government. The only connection between this episode and "socialism" is that it was socialism itself, in the form of public schools, which precipitated the crisis. The only reason the governor of Arkansas was in a position to deny access to LRCHS was because of the socialist nature of public schools. They are "owned" by the public, and therefore the resources of the school are allocated by the government. It was a dispute between 2 government entities over the allocation of these resources that resulted in the showdown. In a truly free system, the government would not own and operate schools.

(BTW, note that I am not commenting on the merit or net benefit of having public schools. I am only pointing out the fact that the socialist nature of public schools that necessitates coercion and puts them in conflict with freedom.)

""As I've said freedom and socialism exist in a dynamic tension, coequal and interdependent (like men and women?).""

Not under any traditional definition or understanding of socialism. So define what you mean by "socialism".

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 25, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

@NoVA

Huck scares me the worst because of the religious connection. I know that disturbs my Christian friends and I don't mind the occasional prayer.,..but jeez..all this falling over one another to proclaim their love of Jesus and belief that He is the answer to everything. Before Christians jump me notice I had the respect to capitalize He.

The Christians get apoplectic over any suggesting that we are approaching a Christian Theocracy...and in fact love to play the Sister Sarah persecution card...but really..some facts please...

Could a Muslim be elected President?
A Buddhist? An Atheist? In fact could anybody who didn't clearly profess their Christian faith be elected? Sounds like the Founding Fathers omitted what has clearly become a litmus test qualification for President.

And in the R party it's far worse...
Could any R candidate actually win a primary without loud proclamations of their Christian faith?

Could a Muslim win an R Presidential Primary...A Buddhist?...an Atheist?

In fact one of the most pressing questions surrounding Mittens in the last R Presidential primary was whether he was actually a Christian...he is after all a Mormon....ohhhh no in Sister Sarah speak.."He's not like us"..."he pals around with magic underwear."

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 25, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

@ruk: "Huck scares me the worst because of the religious connection."

He's like an evangelical Mayor Bloomberg. I don't think he's going to win the primary. If he does, he'll lose against Obama.

Could a practicing Muslim win an R presidential primary? No. Neither could they win a Democratic presidential primary. Not right now, anyway.

A Buddhist? Possibly. An Atheist? Probably not, at least not if it was known. The Buddhist would have trouble, too. But, a trend only remains true until it's not true anymore. There was a time when a Roman Catholic winning the presidency was unthinkable . . . then it happened, and nobody would care about a Roman Catholic running for office again.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 25, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

as for "violent rhetoric" there is nothing more shocking, dangerous and delusional than glenn beck's rant about "shooting me/them in the forehead" over and over. just when does the standard, "shouting fire in a crowded theater" come into play here? never, during the 8 years of gwb's administration, did you hear a mainstream, major cable station pundit, say anything coming close to this?

Posted by: sbvpav | January 25, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"Could any R candidate actually win a primary without loud proclamations of their Christian faith?"

I don't recall McCain making a big deal about it. But I might be wrong. But that campaign was an up or down on Obama. But I don't think it's limited to Republicans. JFK's Catholicism was questioned and Obama had to answer for the rhetoric from his church. Don't recall who said it, but "God bless America" at the end of the speech is basically "thank you for coming"

They could all use a dose of Matthew 6: "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."

Frontline did a 6-part series called God in America. it's online and worth checking out. essentially, what we're seeing today is nothing new. maybe that's where I got the end-of-speech thing.

http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/

(Now I've done it -- I've cited PBS!!)

Posted by: NoVAHockey | January 25, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

@ScottC3: ""You mean by saying things like "Providing meals and other sorts of support for poor families is supported by liberals moreso than modern conservatives"?""

That's a lie? I thought it was pretty well established, by now, that liberals want the great masses of people eking out a subsistence existence at the whim of centralized government. ;)

Conservatives, not so much.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | January 25, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

sbvpav, yes there were WORSE things said during those 8 years. ibc0, Are you really forgetting the prominent Bush haters this quickly? CINDY SHEEHAN? Reid and Pelosi said some pretty hateful stuff too. Limiting the discussion just to talk about assassinating Bush though (not even the actual attempts to do so):

Even before [George W.] Bush was elected president, the kill-Bush talk and imagery started.

1) When Governor Bush was delivering his 2000 convention speech, Craig Kilborn, a CBS talk-show host at the time, showed him on the screen with the words "SNIPERS WANTED." You don't remember that? Didn't Alec Baldwin have some choice words about killing him too? Freedom of speech, and all.

2) After Bush was re-elected, Bill Maher, the comedian-pundit, was having a conversation with John Kerry. He asked the senator what he had gotten his wife for her birthday. Kerry answered that he had taken her to Vermont. Maher said, "You could have went to New Hampshire and killed two birds with one stone." (New Hampshire is an early primary state, of course.) Kerry said, "Or I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania and killed the real bird with one stone." (This is the same Kerry who joked in 1988, "Somebody told me the other day that the Secret Service has orders that if George Bush is shot, they're to shoot Quayle.")

3) Also in 2006, the New York comptroller, Alan Hevesi, spoke to graduating students at Queens College. He said that his fellow Democrat, Sen. Charles Schumer, would "put a bullet between the president's eyes if he could get away with it."

4) "Checkpoint" was a 2004 novel written by Nicholson Baker in 2004 where the main character decides "for the good of humankind" to assassinate GWB.

5) "Death of a President" was a 2006 "documentary" film recording the assassination of George W. Bush, the 43rd U.S. President, on October 19, 2007, in Chicago, Illinois. What a coincidence.

Do any of these ring a bell?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 25, 2011 1:33 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin and NoVA

Yes I absolutely agree that Dem would also be unelectable unless he/she were electable.
I didn't mean the post to sound as if this were an R only problem..perhaps bad communication on my part...just that R's are a little more vociferous about it.

And Kevin...I agree with you as well that this could be described as just a trend...after all look how many Deists thrived among our Founding Fathers. I'm just afraid we're stuck with this trend during my lifetime...but I certainly get you point and believe it to be accurate...no Catholics until JFK...and honestly I never thought I'd live to see a black President...so who knows...maybe a respected pragmatic Atheist...or a strong Buddhist will win in my lifetime. However I think Michelle Bachmann has a better chance of being named a Supreme Court Justice before a Muslim would get elected.

NoVa Thanks for the link to Frontline...one of my favorite programs.
And you have quoted my favorite Bible verse on the subject. Wonder if Sister Sarah and the rest forgot their Biblical teachings...or simply conveniently ignore them?

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 25, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

ruk:

""..some facts please...""

Yes, indeed, some facts.

Fact: A theocracy is a government ruled by a religious authority.

Fact: Our government is ruled by no such authority.

Fact: There is no legal religious requirement on candidates for office. Ahteists, muslims, buddhists, etc are all free to run for office. To whatever extent being a Christian is a benefit to getting elected, or not being a Christian is a detriment to getting elected, that is a result of voter preference no different than a preference for candidates who will support social security or support abortion rights.

Fact: Christian doctrine firmly opposes abortion. US law permits abortion on demand.

Fact:: Christian doctrine firmly opposes homosexual relations. US law permits homosexual relations.

Fact: Some small segments of Christianity oppose the teaching of evolution in schools. Evolution is taught in every government run school in the nation.

Fact: Christian doctrine opposes the use of any artificial contraception device. US law permits the use of numerous such devices.

Fact: The notion that a Christian theocracy is "approaching" is so absurd, I can only assume it is being raised by "fear-mongerers" in an attempt to propagandize more gullible elements of society. Or it is being raised by a member of that gullible element who has already been propagandized.

Posted by: ScottC3 | January 25, 2011 1:58 PM | Report abuse

@ruk--Left you an answer on the Bachmann thread.

Posted by: AllButCertain | January 25, 2011 3:39 PM | Report abuse

@ABC

Thanks...read your answer and largely in agreement with your observations.

I suspect when we discuss who is "smarter" Palin or Bachmann we are speaking in very relative terms. LMAO

Absolutely agree that Bachmann says batshirt crazy stuff...but I think she is doing it on purpose...that's what brung her to this dance...Sister Sarah..yeah some of the same...but I think poor Sister Sarah believe her own favorable press. She hasn't yet figured out that Bill Kristol liked her because he was a dirty old man not because of his respect for her intellect...reminds me of an old joke about Farrah Fawcett..substitute any sex symbol...or in this case Palin. Tragedy..Sarah Palin slipped and fell in the steam room today and burnt over 40% of her talent.

Ironically I consider Bachmann to be far hotter than Palin...but what Michie has that Sister Sarah does not...is not only better educated, along with a far better grasp of the issues (even though that seems like a dumb statement while she is currently pandering to the TPers with outrageous statements) Michie can handle the English language...unlike Sarah who speaks like a person whose English is a second language (first language perhaps is Alaskan)..Michie cannot only speak actual sentences with a subject, verb, and object and no misplaced modifiers...Michie can do it off the cuff.

Anybody who watched Sarah's love fest with Hannity had to feel sorry for Sister Sarah.
The poor girl simply cannot produce a sentence with clarity and specificity...Michie is wack but she is articulate.

But I acknowledge ABC I'm damning Michie with faint praise.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 25, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

ruk--Apologies to your wife, but if you find Bachmann so hot, could you please sweep her off her feet and off to Micronesia for a few years? A lot of us up here in Minnesota would really appreciate it.

Posted by: AllButCertain | January 25, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

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