Archive | Politics As Usual

President Newt

Charles Pierce is just as thrilled to read the praises of Newt Gingrich as I am…

I think that the Parson Meacham over at Newsweek may have set the Sucking Up To Vicious Idiots bar so high that in response, Time may blow out an ACL trying to get over it. How else to explain publishing, this brimming swine-trough of lies, phony history, pious nonsense, and disingenuous twaddle promoted by the single most duplicitous piece of pond-scum ever to be burped up along the Potomac? Newt Gingrich on the blessings of bipartisanship? Why not Newt Gingrich on how to support your wives in time of illness? There has to have been someone in the upper echelons of Time who said, “Look, folks, before we all go get lunch at 21, how’s about we talk again about printing something that is the exact equivalent of publishing a treatise on thoracic surgery written by Charlie Manson?”

Was everybody there drunk? Stoned? Out of town early for the weekend?

The persistence of the notion of Newt Gingrich, Political Genius, or of Newt Gingrich, Transformational Figure—or, in fact, any notion save that of Newt Gingrich, Opportunistic Hack–is going to puzzle scholars for centuries. Anyway, here’s a little something from last week, proving that he’s still a blight and that Time needs editors who aren’t so easily conned out of their money.

Reality

Yes, this is exactly my sense of things. I’ve always had an intuitive understanding that the world works in a very dark and different way from the official version, and I’m afraid I get very impatient with people who don’t see it. Jay Ackroyd over at Atrios’s place:

At a conference I was at this week, Daniel Ellsberg recounted a time in 1969 when he explained to Henry Kissinger what would happen after he was given the dozen or so clearances above Top Secret (the existence of which is also classified, of course). What happens first is you feel like a fool. You’ve published books that you now discover were filled with stuff that was wrong. You have believed you understood how things worked for your entire professional life, but you now find out you were completely wrong, that the real world is entirely different from what you have been told. The books you’ve written, the lectures you’ve given are based on a false understanding of the world.

But this stage only lasts a few weeks. After you have been reading this material hitherto unavailable to you for a while, you begin to see everybody else as fools. Only with people with these top level clearances know the truth. People whom you previously regarded as experts become ignoramuses, doubly so because they don’t realize that they actually know nothing.

And so your conversations with them become telling them what you want them to think.

I’m thinking specifically of the famous story from Robert Reich where, shortly after Bill Clinton’s inauguration, he’s furious when he’s told he can’t implement his economic policies “because of the bond market.”

There’s a whole other reality out there, and not only do we not make the rules, we don’t even know what they are.

‘Tough Shit’

UPDATE from David Waldman:

Never mind! The Senate appears to have adjourned for the weekend. Bunning has won for the day, and Durbin’s threat has shockingly failed to materialize at all. The extent of Bunning’s punishment: he missed prime time TeeVee last night.

Enjoy your weekend. Maybe the DSCC will call you for money this evening!

How do I put this? It’s a well-known Beltway fact that Jim Bunning is not only (to put it kindly) an intellectual lightweight, he’s taken one too many baseballs to the head. In other words, the man is nuts:

Via Huffington Post (h/t Somegirl):

Jim Bunning, a Republican from Kentucky, is single-handedly blocking Senate action needed to prevent an estimated 1.2 million American workers from prematurely losing their unemployment benefits next month.

As Democratic senators asked again and again for unanimous consent for a vote on a 30-day extension Thursday night, Bunning refused to go along.

And when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) begged him to drop his objection, Politico reports, Bunning replied: “Tough shit.”

Bunning says he doesn’t oppose extending benefits — he just doesn’t want the money that’s required added to the deficit. He proposes paying for the 30-day extension with stimulus funds. The Senate’s GOP leadership did not support him in his objections.

And at one point during the debate, which dragged on till nearly midnight, Bunning complained of missing a basketball game.

“I have missed the Kentucky-South Carolina game that started at 9:00,” he said, “and it’s the only redeeming chance we had to beat South Carolina since they’re the only team that has beat Kentucky this year.

The unemployment rate in Kentucky is 10.7 percent.

Here’s this morning’s update:

Updated: Feb. 25, 10:46 p.m.

Retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) late Thursday launched a one-man crusade to block an extension of unemployment and COBRA insurance benefits, vowing to allow the benefit programs to expire Sunday unless Democrats agreed to pay for them with unused stimulus funds.

Bunning’s quixotic pursuit of deficit offsets at the potential expense of payments to unemployed or uninsured citizens enraged Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and other Democrats, who vowed to keep the chamber in session until Bunning relents or collapses.

A senior Democratic leadership aide said Durbin would ask for unanimous consent to pass the extensions without Bunning’s payment scheme every half hour for the foreseeable future. “We’re going to keep doing it until we break him,” the aide said.

Democratic and Republican aides agreed that Bunning’s decision was made unilaterally, noting that Bunning and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have essentially not been on speaking terms for more than a year.

“McConnell doesn’t have any sway over him,” a senior Democratic aide said, and GOP aides stressed Bunning’s opposition is not a coordinated GOP position.

Indeed, Republican and Democratic aides said McConnell and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) worked out a deal Wednesday under which Reid would allow Bunning to offer an amendment requiring the extensions be paid for prior to approving them.

But Bunning rejected that deal because it was all but certain that a majority of the Senate would handily defeat the amendment.

Monsters Under The Bed

I can’t say it’s a surprise that congressional Republicans think it would be great to start over with healthcare, or that they’re in favor of “incremental” changes. (I’d love to see them get Tom Toles’ “incremental” health surgery.)

And I can’t say it’s a surprise that they had virtually nothing useful to offer.

What I realized, though (and maybe this is the driving force behind Obama’s maddening compromises) is that to many Republicans, their illogical fantasies are akin to a child’s night terrors. We know there aren’t any monsters under the bed, but your child doesn’t. So you go through the motions of shooing the monsters away so your child can sleep.

We know that tort reform has such small influence on malpractice premiums that it’s virtually meaningless. Any rational person who looks at the research knows this. What you have are a lot of people making what they claim are factual assertions that are nothing more than an intellectual construct to support their already-faulty conclusion.

We know that selling insurance across state lines doesn’t solve the health care crisis, either.

We know that the fastest increases in costly diseases are being driven by environmental pollutants and contaminants, so eating right and exercising doesn’t solve the health care crisis, either.

But we’re left with a Congress where roughly half of them believe their fairy tales. And since the ideological wars are driven by true believers, we simply don’t have the time to convert each of them, one by one, to the realities we face.

Which is simply my long-winded way of saying that Harry Reid needs to shove good healthcare legislation through using reconciliation, right now. No more waiting.

People are dying, every single day. President Obama, we don’t need any more to die while you patiently explain to the Republicans about the monsters under the bed.

Get. It. Done. NOW.

Public Option

I wonder if he’s right:

The Senate has the 50 votes necessary to pass a public health insurance option using the budget reconciliation process, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday.

Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist” who supports the government-run plan, urged President Barack Obama to push for the public option even though the possibility of passing it appeared to die this week.

“I think we do have 50 votes in the Senate for a public option and frankly I don’t know why the president has not put it in and I hope that we can inject it,” Sanders said on MSNBC. “I think it’s a very important part of healthcare reform.”

It’s not clear if Sanders’s remarks will encourage leaders to take up the public option, but they will surely give hope to his liberal supporters who have put pressure on Congress to pass a public plan.

The White House and Democratic leaders on Tuesday threw cold water on the possibility of pushing the proposal through, saying that there is not enough support in Congress to do so.

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