In recent days, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has been under fire from members of his own Party for making controversial public statements, such as ones that show a lack of confidence in the GOP’s readiness to lead. Yesterday he tried to defend himself by (falsely) stating, “I mean, I didn’t ask for, I didn’t seek this job, I didn’t ask for it.” Today, Steele told the Christian Broadcasting Network that he believes that it was God who put him in the position “for a reason“:
STEELE: I’m not defined by this job. When this job is over I will go back to doing something else. But God, I really believe, has placed me here for a reason because who else and why else would you do this unless there’s something inside of you that says right now you need to be here to do this?
The Minnesota Independent points out that Steele’s statement “mirrors those of fellow Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who has asserted several times that she went into politics because God asked her to.”
I, for one, thing there should be some subcabinet officials in the Treasury Department confirmed by the Senate. Senator Jon Kyl feels otherwise:
Senate Minority Whip Kyl is blocking pending Treasury Department nominees with jurisdiction over tax policy and international finance in response to the Obama administration’s delay of new Internet gambling prohibitions, according to Senate aides…Kyl was among the few arguing against a delay.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) evidently doesn’t like online gambling very much, and in 2006, he helped craft a law banning the processing of online wagers. The law and its corresponding regulations were supposed to go into effect last month, but the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve pushed back the start-date until June.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is your modern United States Senate. If there’s some random crap that nobody cares about, it just takes one Senator with a bee in his bonnet to ruin everything for everyone who would like to live in a country with a properly administered government. There are six Treasury nominees still awaiting action being held up by Kyl.
You might think it would be a good idea to have an Under Secretary for International Affairs. Kyl disagrees. You might think it would be a good idea to have an Under Secretary for Domestic Finance. Kyl disagrees. You might think it would be a good idea to have an Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development. Kyl disagrees. You might think it would be a good idea to have an Assistant Secretary for International Economics and Development. Kyl disagrees. You might think it would be a good idea to have an Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets. Kyl disagrees. You might think it would be a good idea to have an Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy. Kyl disagrees.
This kind of thing really has to stop, it’s a ludicrous way to run a country. Amidst a global economic meltdown, we can’t get confirmation for the international economics officials. Not because the senate has a problem with them, but because one guy isn’t happy with the delay of some internet gambling regulations.
This morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, Rudy Giuliani spent an entire segment attacking President Obama’s counterterrorism policies. In the middle of the rant, the former New York City mayor and failed presidential candidate called closing Guantanamo “totally absurd” and said that calls to close it were merely efforts to criticize President Bush:
GIULIANI: If he recognizes we’re at war with terror, a lot of things follow from that. They’re enemy combatants. They’re not just mere domestic criminals. Then we don’t close Guantanamo. I mean it’s totally absurd.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He seems to be putting it off for some time.
GIULIANI: You’re darn right he is. I mean this was a criticism of Bush. It was a pure partisan political criticism. When you look behind it, I know people that have gone to Guantanamo, you do, people I respect including Democrats who tell me Guantanamo is better than half the Federal prisons.
Host George Stephanopoulos then noted that Bush himself had said that Guantanamo should be closed. “Yeah because of the pressure,” Giuliani replied. Watch it:
PETRAEUS: Gitmo has caused us problems, there’s no question about it. I oversee a region in which the existence of Gitmo has indeed been used by the enemy against us. We have not been without missteps or mistakes in our activities since 9/11. And again, Gitmo is a lingering reminder for the use of some in that regard.
Given Giuliani’s loose relationship with the facts, his attacks on Obama’s counterterror policies are truly “pure partisan political criticism.”
The basic story, as I understand it, is that when terrorists killed thousands of people on in September 2001 that proved that the policies of the Clinton administration failed. Then the antrax attacks were a collective feature of our imagination. Then Richard Reid’s effort to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in his shoe doesn’t count because it failed. And terrorist attacks in Madrid & London prove that Europeans are weak. The deaths of thousands of people in terrorist attacks in Iraq shows that we succeeded in taking the attack to the enemy. And Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s effort to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in his pants is a huge al-Qaeda success.
Thus, looking back over the whole thing we can see that George W Bush’s approach to al-Qaeda was working great, whereas since Obama came in his implemented a “law enforcement” philosophy that’s failed miserably. Right?
An author can write one good book of moderate length in a year.Costs for publishing, distribution, and marketing can rack up pretty quickly, but one estimate I’ve heard puts the cost to publisher for an average mass market paperback at $150,000.
Avatar cost between $300 and $500 million depending on who you read; Firefly cost around $2 or $3 million per episode, and a $10 million investment for the pilot (for sets, costumes, developing initial special effects, etc.), and I’ve heard a price tag of $17 million attached to the Battlestar Galactica miniseries.
People invest money looking to make it back, and the more money they invest, if they’re reasonable people, the more they want that investment secured.If I’m sinking $300 million into a really fun movie about pseudo-Native American space smurfs, I want to be positive it will do well, so I become worried when the movie takes risks and breaks ground in its story.I become worried if the story is slow, or doesn’t have an up ending, or pisses off the pro-military crowd without appealing enough to the anti-military crowd.I become worried if the audience isn’t able to cheer with unalloyed joy for someone at the end of the film.
Please don’t think of this as an attack on Avatar; I watched that film and liked it a great deal.But a publisher can afford to put out individual books that take more risks and push more boundaries because there’s less money tied up with each story.In extremity, if you’re DH Lawrence and nobody wants to publish your Lady Chatterly’s Lover, you can self-publish out of pocket these days using sites like lulu.com or createspace.com; by comparison, even a very inexpensive feature film like Rian Johnson’s amazing Brick costs $450,000 and requires the dedication of maybe a hundred people to make it happen.Possible, but well outside many artists’ budget, especially if you’re writing something you feel certain will piss some people off.
Read the whole thing. Max is very smart, and a very good writer. And then you’ll be able to say you read his blog before he was famous.
In our polarized political circumstances, what congressional experts call “regular order” offers negligible prospects for progress on this front. Many elected officials have concluded that an empowered fiscal commission along the lines of the one proposed by Kent Conrad and Judd Gregg is the only strategy with any hope of succeeding. (Their bill already has 35 cosponsors, well-balanced between the political parties; the parallel House bill has more than one hundred.
If this is our only chance for succeeding, then I’d say we’ve got no chance for success. Getting a sustainable budget will be difficult under any circumstances. Getting one under these circumstances will be impossible:
Importantly, the task force would ensure a bipartisan outcome. Broad bipartisan agreement would be required to move anything forward. Fourteen of the 18 Task Force members would have to agree to report the recommendations. And final passage would require supermajorities in both the Senate and House.
It’s difficult for me to imagine any bill to curb the long-term deficit in a serious way getting a majority in both the House and the Senate. Getting a majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate is even harder. Getting a supermajority in the House as well as one in the Senate is nigh-upon impossible.
I think it’s important for deficit hawks to not just rally behind the banner of anyone who jumps up and down and says “I’m a deficit hawk!” I think the statutory commission concept has merit. But to make it work, the commission needs some specific targets (Conrad-Gregg doesn’t say how much deficit reduction the commission is supposed to achieve, or when) and it needs to make it remove veto points not add new supermajorities.
On Tuesday, the Center For Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a report indicating that the recession has slowed the growth of health care spending. U.S. health spending grew 4.4 percent in 2008, its slowest rate in nearly 50 years. Overall health spending reached $2.3 trillion in 2008 or $7,681 per person.
As the Washington Post’s Ceci Connely explained recently during an appearance on MSNBC, “one of the things I would suggest is not just how much we spend on health care because as a wealthy nation, maybe we want to spend a lot, but the problem really is we’re not getting much bang for our buck. We’re not getting our money’s worth. And the real question about this piece of legislation is how much it will be able to improve the quality of care so that we start getting our money’s worth.”
Earlier this week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele surprised his fellow Republicans by releasing a new book, Right Now: A 12-Step Program For Defeating The Obama Agenda. The book, and Steele’s efforts to promote it, have angered congressional Republicans and GOP operatives, who feel he is putting them “in tremendously difficult situations.” In an interview on Laura Ingraham’s radio show today, Steele tried to deflect criticism of the book by saying that he wrote it before he became the chairman of the RNC:
STEELE: So, all the talk and chatter right now means nothing because my job is determined by whether I do those two things. And I’m happy to do it and I’m around the country. You know, I’ve got this period — I wrote this book before I became chairman and as, because of the clock and the calender, I wind up doing it now. But when you read the book, it is a blueprint for how we move forward. I really believe that. It touches on those things that we lost track of. We can get them back. And we can go forward in a principled way and stand on those conservative principles and win again. We saw that in New Jersey and Virginia.
Steele’s publicist tells Reid Wilson that he has been “working on parts of the book before he was chairman. He’s made some updates recently.” Wilson also notes that Steele’s book “mentions at least 5 people, 1 piece of legislation and 1 term that did not become evident until well after he was elected to head the RNC.”
,TPM’s Eric Kleefeld notes that in his book, “Steele refers to himself on pages 14, 28, and 73, as being the chairman of the Republican National Committee.”
Brian Beutler points out that health reform’s not out of the woods yet. For all the hubub about the public option, the lower-profile dispute between House Democrats and Senate Democrats about tax measures has long struck me as a potentially larger sticking point, just on the general principle that in America it’s always taxes that are the sticking point in progressive policy. From where I sit, the House’s surtax on the super-rich is a good way to pay for health care and the Senate’s excise tax on unusually generous insurance plans is a better way to pay for health care. If it were up to me, we would take when the Senate has on the table, then increase spending on subsidies up to the House’s level, and use a House-style surtax to make up the difference.
But most House Democrats regard the excise tax as anathema, and a critical block of Senate Demcorats regard the surtax as anathema. Right before Christmas you would sometimes hear rumbling from people that this issue had already been more-or-less squared-away behind the scenes in favor of the Senate’s approach. But Beutler’s reporting makes it seem that things are pretty much how they appear—the two sides are at loggerheads.
I note that if union-friendly House Democrats ultimately decide they’d rather scuttle health care than vote for the Senate’s approach to taxes, they’re likely to say they’d rather scuttle health care than vote for a bill with no public option. If you want to explain to the progressive base why you’re voting no on health care, then citing the public option is likely to play better. But the excise tax actually takes something concrete away from some union leaders and union members who matter. I don’t think that’s a good reason to kill the bill, but it is a reason and I can imagine someone finding it compelling. At the end of the day, the idea of passing a health care bill with zero Republican votes makes some sense. The idea of passing a health care bill without the support of the AFL-CIO also makes some sense. But can you really do both simultaneously?