This is from March 13th (I’m still trying to catch up after a long period of limited internet), and is an editorial cartoon from Steve Benson. I thought it was pretty funny:
Monday, 18 March 2013
Monday, 11 February 2013
I’m still trying to catch up with my various news programs (working with very limited internet for the next few weeks), but I caught this good discussion about Drone Policy on UP With Chris Hayes. All of the guests are good, but Hina Shamsi and Jeremy Scahill come across best (in the second segment), in my opinion. I’m particularly disappointed with the Democrat that was quoted as saying, basically, “Well, it’s ok because it’s a Democratic president, and I’d think differently if it was a Republican president…”
“In Drone Killings, Should There Be a Distinction for US Citizens?”
“The Legal, Political Arguments for Drones”
Good plug for Scahill’s upcoming book, too, which I’m very much looking forward to. (I still need to read Blackwater, mind you…)
Thursday, 31 January 2013
This is just a very good editorial cartoon. Please, conspiracy-theorist right-wingers: listen to your own equivalent of the wife in this cartoon:
Thursday, 3 January 2013
In the above clip from The Rachel Maddow Show, their latest in a string of “John Boehner Is Bad At His Job” segments, Rachel Maddow gives an interesting little bit of history about Republicans and their leadership scrabbles. Given that MSNBC is absolutely a liberal media outlet, “John Boehner Is Bad At His Job” could sound like a simply partisan attack on the Republican Speaker. However, this is one of Maddow’s best series of segments, because Boehner makes it so easy to ‘prove’, given his numerous bumbling and apparent fecklessness.
Now, part of the Speaker’s problem comes from the intransigence he faced – first from the new Tea Party caucus members that swept into office in 2010, and later by the hyper-partisanship of the election cycle and media-fuelled, echo-chamber-percolated idiocy that seems to have informed certain vocal sectors of the Republican Party.
As Senator Chuck Schumer tells Rachel in the above clip, there is a group of “maybe 50-75… hard-right Republicans who really don’t believe government should be involved in things that have traditionally been” within its purview:
“They’re way out of the mainstream. Now, there have always been people over to the extremes in the House and the Senate This is the first time the Speaker has totally kowtowed to them. They dictate the policy.”
This faction has an effective “veto-power” over the Speaker and what the Republicans can do.
Rachel highlights an article in The Week “House Republicans’ long history of regicide”, by Joshua Spivak. This, I thought, was a great article, and certainly a nice bit of historical context. It delves into not only Boehner’s current problems, but also the House GOP’s “propensity, throughout the 20th century, for periodically getting rid of their leaders”. Spivak outlines the important difference between the Speakership and other leadership roles in the US government (save the Presidency):
“Tossing out a speaker is in many ways a drastic measure because, unlike other congressional leaders, the Speaker of the House has demonstrable power over the institution. In one of the many ironies of American politics, the House of Representatives, which was intended to channel voters' opinions, has been a top-down, leadership driven branch of government, in contrast to the historical every-Senator-for-himself model on the other side of the Capitol. Due to this top-down structure, the speaker, unlike the majority leader of the Senate (frequently referred to derisively as the majority pleader), can bend the chamber to his or her will.”
I highly recommend the article. There’s a good amount of detail in there, and it’s pretty well written. The Week also has a nice run-down of opinions on whether or not John Boehner will be able to keep his job as Speaker, compiled by Peter Weber.
Wednesday, 2 January 2013
The Fiscal Cliff “negotiations”, if that’s what one can call them, have been the most mind-numbing of political theatrics in a country known for circus-like political productions. They have been so dull, in fact, that this politics and news junkie switched off. From the outset, it’s been obvious that Congressional posturing has been turned up to 11 (on both sides of the aisle, but mostly, it has to be said, from the Republican side). The result has been less than impressive, and far less than a recently-victorious president should have been able to achieve.
It’s been a while since I last read Businessweek, but I thought they had some decent coverage of the new deal, which they say has been the start of a “years-long cycle of pettiness, delay, and zero-sum gamesmanship”.
“the fiscal cliff was the mooncalf monster-child of Congress itself. The automatic spending cuts (“sequester”) were invented by an act of Congress a mere 17 months ago after the 2011 debt ceiling showdown. To praise this new deal as an accomplishment is to praise an arsonist for extinguishing his own fire.”
Peter Coy’s article was particularly interesting, I thought. The author attempts to measure the ridicule most people seem to exhibit for Congressional “leaders”.
“You could argue it’s a crisis of leadership—that our elected representatives are examples of our worst, most partisan selves. That seems unlikely.”
Really? All evidence to the contrary, I would say that Coy is being over-generous here. There are, no doubt, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who are able, sensible and competent government representatives. However, given the rhetoric and actions of many members of the upper and lower chambers, it actually seems likely that representatives have been giving in to their “worst, partisan selves”. Take Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as an example, and the whiplash he gave Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo) when he voted against his own bill on the filibuster, or any number of examples from President Obama’s first term which saw Republicans voting against their own proposals (past and present) when they discovered that the President and Democrats were willing to sign on.
“The deal that Congress produced… subtracts stimulus in the short term while worsening the long-term budget picture. George W. Bush’s tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 took a huge bite out of the government’s revenue, but at least they had expiration dates. In contrast, the tax cuts in the budget deal that passed in the Senate are permanent. Theoretically, they can be ended by a future Congress. Politically, though, it’s much harder to raise taxes than to allow cuts to expire.”
Thursday, 27 December 2012
I enjoyed this segment from MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, in which host Dylan Ratigan talks to Jon Meacham about Thomas Jefferson and his latest book, The Art of Power (Random House):
I have an advanced reader copy of the book, which I picked up and got signed at BEA in early June 2012. (In fact, I rushed all the way from 118th St and Lexington to the Javitts Center, just so I could get the book signed by Meacham. I must have set a record for that trip…) I’ve had a few things that have got in the way of my starting the book, but I hope to get to it very soon – I really enjoyed Meacham’s previous work, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, and have been reading his journalism for years.
The latest development in the ever-changing Why Mitt Romney Lost narrative being spun by the Romney campaign and family is frankly bizarre. Here’s the relevant part from the Boston Globe article, quoting Tagg Romney (the eldest son):
“He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to . . . run,” said Tagg, who worked with his mother, Ann, to persuade his father to seek the presidency. “If he could have found someone else to take his place . . . he would have been ecstatic to step aside. He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his country, but he doesn’t love the attention.”
He’s been running for president for a decade. You don’t do that, and you don’t do the things Mitt Romney did, unless you want to be president. His issue flexibility was the clearest sign: he was willing to do and say anything to win votes. This latest claim is just another example of a Romney family reality deficit.
The Globe article has a lot of other information and details about the Romney campaign, and is well worth reading. What I took away from the piece was not that Mitt Romney didn’t want to be president (I’m afraid nothing will ever convince me of that), but that he and his campaign staff were astonishingly arrogant, feckless, unprepared for running a proper presidential campaign, and as politically tone-deaf as their candidate.
“a reconstruction by the Globe of how the campaign unfolded shows that Romney’s problems went deeper than is widely understood. His campaign made a series of costly financial, strategic, and political mistakes that, in retrospect, all but assured the candidate’s defeat, given the revolutionary turnout tactics and tactical smarts of President Obama’s operation.”
Exit polls told a stunning story. The majority of voters preferred Romney’s visions, values, and leadership. But he had clearly failed to address the problem that Romney’s own family worried about from the start. Obama beat Romney by an astonishing 81 to 18 percent margin on the question of which candidate “cares about people like me.”
Lawrence O’Donnell covered this latest ‘revelation’ from Tagg, too. The segment is… typical Lawrence, really, in that the snide comments are a little mean-spirited. At the same time, though, he and his two guests make some good points: