Archive for February 27th, 2010

Hopey —> changey?

Feb 27, 2010 in Politics

Ben Nelson isn’t going to object to reconciliation?

Gosh, it’s almost like the argument that 51 Senators trumps 41 Senators feels defensible. Is he sure he doesn’t want to cower before Republicans a bit more?
I mean, arguing against reconciliation vs. the filibuster because it’s “procedural,” may be so instantly obvious a contradiction that there isn’t enough cover for the “centrists.” Our press would certainly like to join Mr. Nelson in trembling before The Republicans Who Will Say Mean But Bold Things, but that 7 1/2 hour summit was also such an obvious demonstration that the Republicans would accept no middle ground.

Is this Obama’s long game? He’s worn me out so many times, made me keep thinking he was just about to give it up, that he wasn’t fighting…but then he keeps coming back. Hell, he might demand a 12 hour summit next time. At some point, even Republicans have to start realizing they’re getting gamed. Boehner screaming, “It’s a trap!” wasn’t really an attack, it was too fearful. The Republican game is just this: NO. They’re left stalling until November, hoping that they can prevent a victory and then brag about it.

I dunno. I’m almost sure there’ll be another, “Ah, bloody hell…” moment coming soon, but I’m just as tired of being fooled by Obama’s long game. If he pulls this shit off and signs a bill before summer, it’ll be a pretty stiff lesson to the skeptics.

-hw

Just because I gave you money and you did what I wanted doesn’t mean anything!

Feb 27, 2010 in Disappointing Dems, ethics, Politics

Thus is summed up a 305 page report clearing five Democrats and two Republicans on ethics violations for steering federal contracts towards big donors. Yet observe:

In fiscal 2008 alone, the seven lawmakers sponsored $112 million worth of earmarks for clients of the PMA Group while accepting more than $350,000 in contributions from the firm’s lobbyists and its clients, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group.

A $350,000 investment returns $112 million dollars. How could anybody expect corruption to not occur? They could have spent $600,000, or six million, if they felt it would get better results. It’s practically printing money. And when you can move legislators with money, it’s not difficult to make the bribery legal, so these guys get off scott free.

Principle would expect Democrats to stand against this and fight corruption. Even if these seven were a mere statistical fluke, honorable men who simply held the positions that coincidentally led to piles of campaign cash, there’s work to be done here. But such a result is rather implausible. What’s plausible is that it happened, but it’s not different enough from what’s going on with every other politician who has to run without public financing.

Besides, do we really spend much time agonizing over whether mob bosses pay hit men to kill others, or whether they simply give money to men who kill the ones they hate?

-jb

Hot, isn’t it?

Feb 27, 2010 in Israel

Andrew Sullivan, who’s spent his whole life lovingly defending the right of Israel to exist, realizes what happens when you start disagreeing with Israel hawks. And he’s getting the flak from The New Republic.

Just when I was thinking Jonathan Chait was a pretty impressive guy, he goes and provides some cover for Leon Wieseltier’s baseless and almost campy accusation, suggesting there’s some actual substance there.

I think it’s like music sometimes. I used to listen to almost 75% rap…back in 1990. Not after 1993, when “hot” albums turned out to be lacking. The innovation had mostly transpired. Rap had stagnated. Like anybody who listened to 2 Live Crew, lowest common denominator wasn’t the issue, it was the music. Somewhere along the line the rap community had gone off in a different direction. Whereas I wanted awesome samples and dope-ass rhymin’, rap became about studio-produced pap with unmemorable rhymes and rhythms.

(Detractors: talk all the smack you want, then go back and listen to Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing or Straight Outta Compton, then realize you are wrong)

Andrew likes old school conservatives and can’t stand the racket these rightwingers are making nowadays. Obviously the racket will have its defenders, but he always has the upper hand in debate.

So they call him an anti-Semite. I’m pretty sure the “emotional” and “feelings as ideas” critiques are thinly veiled queer remarks, although Leon Wieseltier and Jonathan Chait would surely resent such an implication…

I’ve always engaged Israel hawks and come out just fine. Sometimes the anti-semite card has been played against me, but I shamed my accusers. I confound them, and leave them sputtering, because the truth is I’m a pretty big fan of Jewish people and I’m quite sure Israel would be an oasis in the desert if it weren’t for those pesky Palestinians living there. Really, if Hamas were building schools instead of bombing, life would probably improve. If Palestinians didn’t hate Jewish people so much, they’d start selling them property in their cities and provide goods and luxuries, get them to move in among them, assimilate, then claim their equal rights. Seriously, folks, Israel’s a western Democracy (for now), they can’t resist a real pursuit for equality.

So that position simply cannot be reconciled with any anti-Semitism. There isn’t an ounce of it in my bones. And my philosophy seeks to assiduously scrub every trace of bias, whether Palestinian or Israeli, which leaves me pissing off both sides at times. I’m so zoned out on it all, just approaching it like an alien observing one group of humans interacting with another.

Andrew will be fine. The good thing about reason is that you can feel confidence in your ideas, a sense of security. “It’s okay, I’m covered by Logic.” His positions are purely centrist, in a good way, and virtually everybody except TNR and the rightwingers they’re enabling who knows Andrew knows it’s a laughable claim. Most American Jews, especially, understand and would hardly disagree with much of what Andrew says. On top of that, most Israelis who aren’t Likudniks know it too. And those who aren’t quietly dreaming of ethnic cleansing.

-hw