Our linkfest taking you to sites of varying viewpoints. Links do not necessarily reflect the views of TMV or its writers.
A Must Read On Bernard Madoff is HERE. (Don’t expect a dry financial story…but in a way it is clinical!)
So What Was REALLY Up With The GOP Voting Solidly Against Obama’s Stimulus Plan In The House? Dick Polman has a theory that makes sense: the GOP had nothing to lose. Here’s some of what he says:
With apologies to the artist formerly known as Prince, it appears that the Republicans want to party like it’s 1993.
That was Bill Clinton’s first year in the White House. When he pushed an ambitious deficit-reduction bill, designed to erase all the red ink left on the federal ledger by Ronald Reagan and the senior George Bush, the U.S. House of Representatives managed to get it passed – without a single vote from the minority Republicans.
Flash forward to 2009, and last night’s vote on the massive Obama-backed stimulus bill that is designed to at least mitigate the economic downward spiral and hopefully put down the markers for a recovery. The U.S. House of Representatives managed to get it passed – without a single vote from the minority Republicans. The new president extended his hand to the opposition members, essentially telling them “Yes you can,” to which they essentially responded with their new battle cry, “Now we won’t.”
There’s an old political saying that goes something like this: If you’re stuck in a deep hole, stop digging. Yet the Republicans – most notably the House Republicans, who generally hail from strong conservative districts – continue to dig. The GOP was badly thrashed in the ’06 and ’08 elections, the electorate basically declared that the party as currently constituted is unfit to govern, the new president is trying to confront a dire economic crisis, the electorate is demanding swift corrective measures….and despite all that, the party has decided to wield the shovel and sink itself deeper into the soil.
Polman (one of the best political analysts in any media, old or new) lays out this theory in detail. It’s like the 1993 Republican playbook successfully used against the then new President Bill Clinton. But Polman has a warning:
On the other hand…this is not 1993. Bill Clinton was a minority president, elected with just 43 percent of the vote, and the Republicans had actually gained some seats on Capitol Hill in the ’92 election. By contrast, Obama is the most popular incoming president of his generation, with a job approval rating that nudges 70 percent, and the GOP has been relegated to the margins in two straight elections. House Republican leaders are claiming that their No vote last night was actually aimed at Speaker Nancy Pelosi, not at Obama – but that’s not how their stance will play out beyond the Beltway, where most (hurting) Americans don’t care a whit about inside-baseball congressional politicking. They’ll just note the shorthand: “Republicans stiff Obama.”
Moreover, the latest Gallup poll reports that a majority of voters now identify themselves as Democrats in 43 of the 50 states (quite a switch from 2002, when Gallup reported that a majority of the states leaned GOP). If the final recovery bill, signed by Obama, ultimately helps to nudge the economy upward with minimal Republican support, the congressional GOP members risk being dismissed as even more irrelevant than they are today.
But since they’re faring so badly at the moment, why not just roll the dice, wash their hands of all responsibility for governance, and hope that they can reap the political reward if things go wrong? Defeat can be so liberating. As Janis Joplin once sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
Actually, given the partisan and talk show decibel levels, some of us would rather hear “The Sounds Of Silence.”
But is this wise? Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com thinks the GOP could be in a “death spiral.”
What Does A Bona Fide Political Scientist Think? Not just any political scientist, but one of the best who has a highly thoughtful blog (so what is he doing in BLOGGING??)…Steven Taylor:
Before we all decided that we have the final story on how much support the GOP does or does not end up providing to the stimulus, may I remind everyone that this was not the final vote, not by a longshot. This now has to go to the Senate and likely will end up in conference. As such, this is not only not the final version of the stimulus package, it isn’t the last chance that the GOP will have to vote on it. So, we really don’t know if the stimulus will end up being passed in a way in which there it is considered all the Democrat’s sole responsibility or if it will end up with a the patina of bipartisanship.
One would think that reporters and political commentators would learn to keep their powder dry on congressional actions like this. While it is not insignificant that the House passed the bill with zero Republican votes, we are really only in the early goings of the first half of the game (maybe the late 1st quarter).
Yes, the PROBLEM with the new and old media now is that analysis so INSTANTANEOUS…and the analysis beast must be fed. People feel they must make THE PRONOUNCEMENT that will change the perceptions of the entire country and accurately predict what happens next. But in reality, much of the conventional wisdom is eventually swirling down the one of those white devices with handles and porcelain seats that Larry Craig was sitting on when he got into a legal problem while tapping his foot.
Prediction: a lot will hinge on polls. If polls indicate the public souring quickly on Obama (let’s exclude Rush Limbaugh and dittoheads from this one since they are in a choir that sings the same song repeatedly) and the GOP picking up some support, then its more likely that mega-partisanship will grow. If Obama holds his own or goes up a bit and the GOP goes down, some in the Republican party may start to rethink whether making “NO” a one item, two letter proposed contract with America is wise idea. A Fox News poll finds Obama is getting strong numbers..
And There Are Conflicting Noises Coming From The GOP (although nothing can drown out the noise from Rush Limbaugh). GOP Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell tells his party it needs to reach out or become a minority party, as USA Today’s blog explains HERE.
Is Obama Planning To Kill Two Political Birds With One Stone? Just read THIS.
Illinois Governor Blago Is
Parody History: The only question is whether Saturday Night Live will take his speech and have someone act it out without any changes. But for a more serious take on it, PJ Media’s Rick Moran is MUST reading. Here’s just a tiny taste:
Senators interviewed following Blagojevich’s defense were unmoved and unconvinced. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Blagojevich’s belongings have all been packed and are ready to be moved once the Senate votes, probably later today. Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn is waiting outside the chamber, with the Illinois chief justice in tow, in order that he can be sworn in immediately once Blagojevich is convicted.
It was, in many ways, a bizarre end to a bizarre set of circumstances. Most who were watching the Blagojevich speech knew full well that he had tried to trade the vacant Senate seat for financial gain and/or the prospect of a job after he left office. His denials rang hollow in the face of the overwhelming evidence that the tape transcripts revealed. And yet his appearance at the 11th hour of his trial and his dramatic appeal to the senate jury for his political life made for great political theater.
Unfortunately for Blagojevich, it is unlikely that he will be allowed a curtain call for his performance.
The bright side of being impeached and removed: now he can let his hair down, take a talk radio gig, and now Illinois politicians can go back to the highly ethical, above board way that politics traditionally operated in that state….
A Legal Defeat For The Obama Administration: A Gitmo military judge has rejected its request to delay some proceedings. And, as you can see if you read the link to Ed Morrissey’s post, this will complicate the administration’s plans.
Obama Is Showing That He Intends To Use That Bully Pulpit To The Hilt: In the latest instance, he blasted Wall Streeters who almost helped bring the economy down getting away with big, fat, bonuses.
Rush Had Some Unflattering Comments Aimed At Him (which means he was not at GOP Congressional meeting) but not on MSNBC (which seems on some shows to be trying to be the anti-Fox News — the same mistake early Air America made, trying to be the anti-Rush Limbaugh rather than offering shows that stood totally on their own without being reactive and seemingly there to answer conservative talk) but on CNBC from a host not usually considered a liberal.
What The News Media Apparently Didn’t Report: Bush got a standing ovation in Texas. He even gave the Baylor University Women’s Baseball Team a pep talk (far more self-esteem building than Don Imus’ comments aimed at a women’s basketball team a while ago, to be sure…).
Voting Takes Place Saturday In Iraq’s Provincial Elections and there is an art to voting, Newsweek blogger Larry Kaplow notes:
With security improving, the toughest part of Saturday’s Iraqi provincial elections might be educating voters about how to mark their ballots. An attempt to explain a truly complex process:
The elections are for the provincial councils in 14 of the country’s 18 provinces. The councils are powerful entities that will choose the governors, who control the police forces among other things. The Baghdad province council has 57 members. Others have as few as 26 members. In all, voters will choose between a total of 14,431 candidates to fill 440 seats. Candidates are grouped on lists, or slates, put together by political parties and coalitions of parties; there are more than 400 parties fielding candidates.
The current council was elected in 2005, using a different process than the one now being implemented.Then, people could only vote for the entire list and the individual candidates were barely known to the public, in part because of the security risks then. This time, an “open” list format will let voters choose a slate and an individual they support on that slate.
There’s a lot more so read it all.
NBC’s Russert Wants To Interview Obama. No, not HIM…from above (although we’re sure he’ll try). But his son Luke.
Guess Who’s In Washington And Wants To Pal Around With Obama? Yes it’s her and yes she can (and will)…
Was Obama’s Decision On Gitmo A Truly Lousy One? Some truly think so.
And We Thought WE (or I) Got Hate Mail? Nothing like this.. It’s truly astonishing what people think they accomplish by sending emails like that to anyone, whether they’re right, left or center. There is not the slightest chance that the person will change their views if a message is abusive. It’s all indicative of the 21st century talk radio political culture which encourages demonization, anger, ridicule and mockery…coupled with the free-for-all of the Internet.
And just think: before the Internet and blogs some folks wondered if reading and the written word were on the way out. The Internet brought a rebirth. But is the baby cute — or ugly?
More about blogtopia (and this guy invented that phrase) in the next edition.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.