I totally understand that the White House political team doesn’t really want to deal with this issue, but absurd as firing soldiers for being gay was under George W. Bush it’s double-absurd for it to be happening under a president who’s acknowledged that it’s an unjust policy.
The fact of the matter is that on any given week, it’ll be more convenient to deal with this issue next week. But that just means you never get around to dealing with it. May as well just suck it up and do the right thing.
With only 20 percent of Americans self-identifying as Republicans, the GOP is searching for a way forward. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), along with Colin Powell, have said the GOP must move toward the center to expand its tent. In an interview with Scott Hennen, a North Dakota radio host, Cheney declared that becoming more moderate “would be a mistake“:
HENNEN: Some people are wringing their hands saying, “This is an example of why the party needs to change, to hear the message of Specter,” that, as Colin Powell said, the Republican Party needs to moderate. Do you think the Republican Party needs to moderate? Is that the message of the Specter defection, or the state of the party these days?
CHENEY: No I don’t. I think it would be a mistake for us to moderate. This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas…what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and Constitutional principles. You know, when you add all those things up the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy. I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most us aren’t. [...] So I think periodically we have to go through one these sessions. It helps clear away some of the underbrush…some of the older folks who’ve been around a long time (like yours truly) need to move on, and make room for that young talent that’s coming along. But I think it’s basically healthy. I don’t spend a lot of time or lose a lot of sleep over it. I just think now is the time for people who are committed to get out there and find candidates they like and go to work for them.
RNC Chair Michael Steele has sounded a similar note earlier this week. “All you moderates out there, y’all come. I mean, that’s the message,” Steele said, but added, “Understand that when you come into someone’s house, you’re not looking to change it.”
In short, Pooley has earned the right to be heard. Journalists and senior editors need to pay heed to Pooley’s three tough conclusions abut how “damaging” the recent media of the climate debate has been:
The press misrepresented the economic debate over cap and trade. It failed to recognize the emerging consensus “¦ that cap and trade would have a marginal effect on economic growth and gave doomsday forecasts coequal status with nonpartisan ones”¦. The press allowed opponents of climate action to replicate the false debate over climate science in the realm of climate economics.
The press failed to perform the basic service of making climate policy and its economic impact understandable to the reader and allowed opponents of climate action to set the terms of the cost debate. The argument centered on the short-term costs of taking action-i.e., higher electricity and gasoline prices-and sometimes assumed that doing nothing about climate change carried no cost.
Editors failed to devote sufficient resources to the climate story. In general, global warming is still being shoved into the “environment” pigeonhole, along with the spotted owls and delta smelt, when it is clearly to society’s detriment to think about the subject that way. It is time for editors to treat climate policy as a permanent, important beat: tracking a mobilization for the moral equivalent of war.
Earlier this week, a memo written by right-wing message guru Frank Luntz was leaked instructing the Republican Party on how to frame the health care debate in order to defeat progressive reform. Since his pivotal role in helping craft Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, Luntz has had an impressive record of cloaking regressive and conservative policies with carefully poll-tested language. For instance, Luntz is credited with persuading Republicans to use the intentionally misleading term “death tax” to describe the estate tax.
According to CQ, Republicans are enthusiastically embracing Luntz and his health care memo. At a private workshop organized by the House leadership, Luntz was welcomed with applause and cries of “Welcome home!” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) gushed, “We look to him for how do we express the things that we believe in ways that are effective.”
Luntz’s health care memo urges Republicans to denounce progressive reforms as ideas based upon a “committee of Washington bureaucrats.” The memo then calls for Republicans to strongly emphasize the “protection of the personalized doctor-patient relationship” because this approach allows Americans to believe that the GOP is doing something to “protect and improve something good“:
ThinkProgress compiled a video featuring Rep. Phil Gingrich (R-GA), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) all embracing the vapid “patient-doctor” talking point in the past 48 hours. Watch it:
As the Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky details, Luntz’s strategy is to “obstruct health reform by ignoring what Obama is actually offering.” In all fairness, Luntz is very candid about his strategy of misdirection. Since Republicans currently have absolutely no plan for reforming health care, Luntz says to avoid projecting a policy plan and instead focus on language that “captures not just what Americans want to see but exactly what they want to hear.”
Indeed, Luntz also provides his polling and language advice to a plethora of health insurance companies.
In a new Time article on the state of the Republican Party, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) lamented the GOP’s exclusion of groups like minorities and environmentalists. “Ideological purity is not the ticket to the promised land,” she said, echoing comments her fellow Maine senator Susan Collins (R) made last week. She also complained that, “to the average American,” the GOP is just the party of “Big Oil and the rich“:
Snowe recalls that when she proposed fiscally conservative “triggers” to limit Bush’s tax cuts in case of deficits, she was attacked by fellow Republicans. “I don’t know when willy-nilly tax cuts became the essence of who we are,” she says. “To the average American who’s struggling, we’re in some other stratosphere. We’re the party of Big Business and Big Oil and the rich.”
Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and officer in the Army National Guard who is fluent in Arabic and who returned recently from Iraq, received notice today that the military is about to fire him. Why? Because he came out of the closet as a gay man on national television.
According to Belkin, a soon-to-be-released study by a group of experts in military law will show that “President Obama does, in fact, have stroke-of-the-pen authority to suspend gay discharges.” “An executive order would not get rid of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law, but would take the critical step of suspending its implementation, hence rendering it effectively dead,” says Belkin.
However, one interesting aspect of the announcement is how the government plans to help the banks raise the capital that they need. While the banks will presumably do their best to go out and raise capital from private investors, if they can’t, they will have the option of converting the shares that the government bought with the initial round of TARP into a new financial instrument:
This new instrument, called a “mandatory convertible preferred” share, gives banks the ability to create common equity as needed. The preferred shares convert to common shares when a bank or its regulator decides they should.
This means that the banks can convert government debt into equity if they hit a rough patch and the need arises. But as Robert Reich pointed out, “by this sleight-of-hand, the public takes on more risk,” moving from a preferred creditor to a common shareholder.
But more importantly, this whole song-and-dance means that the banks are still operating with a government guarantee, but without government control. They can go out and try to raise money, and investors know that the government is going to cover them if things go badly. The plan assures that the banks will remain alive, no matter how troubled, because Treasury will always swoop in to save the day. As James Kwak and Simon Johnson put it:
In the end, when a financial system is dominated by banks that are too big to fail – and they do fail – the only options are an FDIC-style takeover or the kind of public-private co-dependency that we see today. As far as the current crisis is concerned, the die is cast and the big banks won.
So in this post about how John Thune says he won’t vote for a gay Supreme Court nominee, I used the term “breeders” which is a derogatory slang term for heterosexuals. For this I stand accused by the humorless right of anti-straight bigotry. As a hetero-American myself, I think of it as me “reclaiming” the term.