On Fox News last Wednesday, while discussing The Hill newspaper’s annual 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill list, host Sean Hannity said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) “ranks in at number four” but complained that there are others “who are far more deserving” than her. The problem, however, as MSNBC host Dan Abrams pointed out last night, is that Pelosi was number four on last year’s list and is not included in the 2008 edition. Abrams asks: “But why should that stop Hannity from insulting her again?”:
ABRAMS: Next up — Fox’s Sean Hannity really wanted to insult Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night. He talked about “The Hill” newspaper’s 2008 most beautiful people on Capitol Hill list.
HANNITY: Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi—Nancy Pelosi. Nancy Pelosi ranks in at number four. Several aides, by the way, who are far more deserving than Nancy Pelosi. This is supposed to be the 50 most beautiful people on Capitol Hill.
ABRAMS: The problem—Nancy Pelosi isn’t on the list this year. She was on last year’s list, but why should that stop Hannity from insulting her again?
“Bring the Congress back. Let’s have a real up or down vote,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) proclaimed. In fact, there was a real up or down vote on gas prices just two days before. And Boehner is well aware of it because he was responsible for ensuring it didn’t pass. Dan Weiss explains on the Wonk Room what occurred this week:
During yesterday’s vote on the Commodity Markets and Transparency Act (H.R. 6604) to rein in oil profiteers, House Republican leaders pressured 13 of their members to switch their vote from “yes” to “no.” Thanks to these strong arm tactics and weak members, the bill to lower gasoline prices by controlling profiteers failed by a vote of 276-151, falling ten votes shy of the two-thirds majority required for passage under the suspension of the House rules. Once again, the GOP leadership used their power to help keep oil prices and profits high, while hurting the average driver.
Boehner strong-armed his own conservative members to ensure a bill didn’t pass because he wanted to engage in today’s political theatrics. After killing a bill that would have addressed gas prices, House conservatives have decided they want to blow hot air in the dark.
Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) said, “This band of brothers here is staying late to make a point to the American people: We want to work.” His colleagues then chanted: “Work, work, work.” Putnam has quickly forgotten the conservatives’ record of leading the Do Nothing Congress in 2006. The 109th Congress met for fewer days than the infamous 80th Congress that Harry Truman reviled as “do nothing” in 1948:
“The 109th Congress vies for the title of the all-time worst Congress,” said Thomas Mann, a political analyst at the Brookings Institution and co-author of “The Broken Branch” with Ornstein. Mann’s indictment of the 109th includes these charges: “It spent little time in session, it failed to pass budget resolutions and appropriations bills, there was no serious oversight of the disaster in Iraq, there were no major substantive policy achievements, and corrupt members were forced from Congress.”
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) finally brought the six-hour talk-a-thon to a conclusion today by leading the group in an a capella rendition of “God Bless America.”
Today, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spoke to the National Urban League, a group “devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream.” When an audience member asked him how he planned to reduce urban crime, McCain praised Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s efforts in New York Cirty before invoking the military’s tactics in Iraq as the model for crime-fighting:
MCCAIN: And some of those tactics — you mention the war in Iraq — are like that we use in the military. You go into neighborhoods, you clamp down, you provide a secure environment for the people that live there, and you make sure that the known criminals are kept under control. And you provide them with a stable environment and then they cooperate with law enforcement, etc, etc.
Now that our military experts advocate approaching the “war on terror” with more policing and intelligence gathering, McCain wants to approach urban policing with more military power. (HT: Political Radar)
Well, kids, today is my last day as an Atlantic blogger and this is my last Atlantic post. The blog should re-launch on Monday, August 11 at:
That means no blogging for me for a week. I think I haven’t gone 24 hours without a blog post since 2004, and I haven’t gone blogless for a week since I started doing this over six years ago. I’m not sure if the vacation will be good for me, or if I’ll just drive everyone I know crazy pointing out that someone is wrong on the internet.
But I’m excited, both about the vacation and about the new job at the Center for American Progress. But it’s been a real thrill to spend some time as an “Atlantic Voice” and get to know Andrew and Ambinder, to work with Ross and Reihan and Megan, and, of course, to do The Table with its unsung heros Jenny and Terrence. I think Ta-Nehisi will be a great addition to the site, and I hope I’ll be a good addition to the CAP team. And with that — goodbye, see you in a bit over a week.
Conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh marks twenty years on the air today. During his show this afternoon, Limbaugh received a call from the President George W. Bush, former President George H. W. Bush, and former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush. The Bush family congratulated their “pal” Limbaugh on his “twenty years of important and excellent broadcasting.” Later in their conversation, former President Bush — apparently not realizing he was on the air — asked about “our man [Roger] Ailes,” the president of Fox News:
H. W. BUSH: Do you see our man Ailes at all?
LIMBAUGH: Oh, yeah. I saw Roger at Tony Snow’s funeral…And a couple of times earlier this summer.
H. W. BUSH: Are we on the radio, are we? [...] I didn’t know that. I’ll clean up my act here. I’m glad they told me.
Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wal-Mart has been warning its managers that a Democratic victory in the fall would lead to unionization at Wal-Mart stores. “In recent weeks, thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads have been summoned to mandatory meetings” discussing the downsides of unionization and not-so-subtly telling employees not to vote for a Democrat.
In a statement, Wal-Mart Watch Executive Director David Nassar said the Journal report confirmed stories they have collected from workers:
We have been receiving the reports described in the Journal for the past week. Some of the reports we received were even more egregious than what was described in today’s story. In one case, a worker said they were shown a slide that said ‘Obama = union’ and then were told why unions were bad.
Wal-Mart employees who wish to speak out should contact Wal-Mart Watch to share their stories. Sign a petition to tell Wal-Mart to stop the political intimidation of its employees.
Change to Win executive director Chris Chafe: “It should be no surprise that Wal-Mart would stretch the limits of the law in an attempt to deny their workers’ rights and kill the Employee Free Choice Act. The company knows what all union workers know: workers in unions earn 29 percent higher wages on average, are 62 percent more likely to have employer health coverage, and four times more likely to have a pension.”
The company is scrambling to retool for small cars, and I’m sure we’ll hear a loud chorus of voices saying that GM did this to themselves by becoming so dependent on light trucks. Well, they did, but I’m not sure it’s fair to blame management. GM’s historical pension and healthcare obligations, and the vast difficulties they have in permanently laying off workers, mean that the company had to maximize cash flow as best they could.
But look: This is all management. GM could have struck a different bargain with its workforce that entailed higher salaries and lower long-term pension obligations. Its management thought it would be wiser to strike a different bargain, and the results have wound up being non-pretty. Running a large enterprise is difficult which, I think, is why the executives make the big bucks. But when decisions don’t pan out, you take the blame. Meanwhile, car company management could have strongly backed the Clinton administration’s effort to get health care under control back in 1993.
On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was indicted “on seven counts of failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in services from an oil services company that helped renovate his home.” During the White House press briefing today, a reporter asked Press Secretary Dana Perino if Stevens’ is still “invited” to travel with the President on his upcoming trip to Alaska. Perino replied that the invitation “did not change” with Stevens’ indictment:
Q It’s my understanding that Senator Stevens was invited to go along to Alaska on Monday night, and I wonder if that invitation still stands, or if he’s accepted it, if he’s planning to go?
MS. PERINO: I don’t know if he is going to be going on that trip, but protocol is that any member of a state is invited to travel with the President, and that did not change in his case.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has completed his journey from “maverick” to the heart of the right-wing/Big Oil movement. His travels began last month when he abandoned his longheld opposition to offshore drilling. With increasing ease, McCain is shilling for the oil industry’s agenda. In today’s appearance before the Urban League, McCain said:
Last month, the President finally lifted the executive ban on offshore oil and gas exploration, and called on Congress to lift its ban as well. Lifting that ban could seriously lower the price of oil — and Congress should get it done immediately. We need to “drill more, drill now, and pay less at the pump.”
McCain is being “cruelly misleading” when he pretends ending the moratorium on Outer Continental Shelf drilling “could seriously lower the price of oil.” Only a month ago, McCain was honest about how useless it would be, saying “I don’t see an immediate relief,” just “a psychological impact that I think is beneficial.”
The old, straight-talking McCain has hopped a ride on the low-road express. McCain is raking in the Big Oil millions, and oil-industry lobbyists such as Nancy Pfotenhauer have taken control of the campaign. He’s using the “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” slogan of Newt Gingrich’s 527 corporation American Solutions for Winning the Future — the type of organization McCain once tried to ban — while Gingrich is in closed-door meetings with right-wing representatives and attacking Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on Fox News. Rush Limbaugh counseled McCain to embrace the AWSF campaign on June 13, four days before McCain announced his support for offshore drilling:
It’s that simple. Drill here. Drill now. Pay less. We’re the United States of America. We can do it.
All right, all right, all right, drill here, drill now, pay less. Drill here. Drill now. Pay less. Folks, this is the issue.
Behind this common agenda is the same network of right-wing financiers that propelled Bush into office. There are 14 Bush Pioneers — the top fundraisers who bundled over $100,000 in contributions for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 — backing Newt Gingrich’s ASWF:
Fourteen Bush Pioneers, who funneled over $2 million to Bush’s election, have contributed over $4 million to Newt’s ASWF. Eight of those same right-wing money men are top McCain fundraisers, channelling $2 million into his coffers. Four — including top ASWF contributor Sheldon Adelson — are billionaires. Their agenda is all about “Winning the Future” for themselves.
UPDATE: In the question-and-answer period at the Urban League, John McCain dismissed the truth that lifting the offshore drilling moratorium couldn’t “seriously lower the price,” appealing to his talks with “the actual people that do the work, that are in the business”:
So I disagree with those experts and I’ve talked to the actual people that do the work, that are in the business that say within months and certainly within a very short time, we could have additional oil supply for this nation. So we ought to drill now.
Barack Obama paraphrases Ronald Reagan’s famous question: “Are you better off than you were four or eight years ago?”
Now personally, I’d say I’m much better off than I was as an awkward nineteen year-old college sophomore. On the other hand, I’m not sure that I’d give George W. Bush a ton of credit for that. Which is what’s a bit odd about this question — I’m not sure how tightly linked people’s overall well-being really is to average economic trends. And at the same time the biggest victims of Bush’s policies are the ones who are dead and thus don’t have the chance to complain about it. A lot of people who were working eight years ago are retired today. And a lot of people who are working today were kids eight years ago. Many others have children today who they didn’t have eight years ago. Or maybe eight years ago they were happily married and now they’re divorced.
But even sticking to the strictly economic, we know that any given individual’s wages tend to go up over the course of his/her career as he/she gains experience, skills, and seniority. Thus even during a period in which average wages stagnate, most people will actually be better off than there were a few years in the past.