Phoebe Connelly went to see Watchmen last night and came away unimpressed with the film. But she’s got impressive thoughts on the critical response to Dr Manhattan’s penis and what it says about the state of gender politics in contemporary culture.
During the White House’s health care summit yesterday, President Obama said that “there are those who say we should defer health care reform once again” because they claim “that at a time of economic crisis, we simply can’t afford to fix our health care system as well.” “If we want to create jobs and rebuild our economy and get our federal budget under control, then we have to address the crushing costs of health care this year in this administration,” Obama said of such criticisms.
But while Obama was making the case that health care reform is both “a moral imperative” and “a fiscal imperative,” former Bush chief of staff Andrew Card was arguing on Fox News that reform needs to wait. “We have got a huge crisis in our economy, and I think we have got to solve that problem first,” said Card.
Asked by Neil Cavuto if the health care summit was “a waste of time,” Card responded that instead of working on health care, Obama should “establish a needs commission and fund that which the economy needs, not what everybody wants”:
CAVUTO: What would you do? What would you do? I mean, would you say, Mr. President, I know you are passionate about health care; now is not the time to do it; this thing at the White House now going on now, a waste of time? What?
CARD: I would establish a needs commission and fund that which the economy needs, not what everybody wants.
Let people work hard for their wants, but don’t have the government fund it. Let them fund the needs and restore the economy to a sense of what the appropriate level of risk is.
Card’s argument echoes Rep. Zach Wamp’s (R-TN) claim that health care is “a privilege,” not “a right” for all Americans. But as ThinkProgress noted yesterday, healthcare for Americans cannot — from an economic or a humanitarian standpoint — be viewed as a “privilege” or a simple “want.”
Despite what Card claims, the economic crisis shouldn’t delay health care reform. In fact, it demands reform. As a New America Foundation study has found, “the economic and social impact of inaction” on health care “is high and it will only rise over time.”
Transcript: Read more
Here’s some Gallup findings that are fun to think about:
Young people, like people who know what they’re talking about, rate Lincoln as Top President. Middle-aged people, meanwhile, are hard-core rightwingers—they put Reagan at the top and have an unusual aversion to FDR. Old people, by contrast, love FDR. The really weird thing here, that you also see in a lot of other polls, is a truly bizarre level of Kennedy-love. If conservatives want to say that Ronald Reagan was a better president than Lincoln or Roosevelt or the oddly underrated George Washington, then we’ll just need to agree to disagree. But I can’t imagine a coherent ideological viewpoint that would justify the high ratings Americans over-35 give to Kennedy.
Now of course if you could take the Kennedy-Johnson years as a whole, then divide them up into one presidency that was dominated by Vietnam and another one that’s responsible for Civil Rights and the Great Society, then you’d have one shitty president and one great president. A lot of people seem to have basically decided to divide things up this way and call the shitty president “Johnson” while the good president is called “Kennedy.” That, however, doesn’t have a great deal to do with reality.
A top aide for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) will be leaving his Senate post after a Wonk Room investigation revealed how he coordinates the right-wing climate denial machine. Marc Morano, Inhofe’s environmental communications director, joined the Senate in 2006 to promote Sen. Inhofe’s denial of manmade global warming via the Drudge Report and other right-wing outlets. E&E News reports that Morano will return to the conservative media network as a blogger for Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT):
Marc Morano, the spokesman for Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), will leave the committee later this month to become executive director and chief correspondent for a fledgling Web site that will serve as a “clearinghouse and one-stop shopping” for climate and environmental news.
Morano joined the Senate, with a $134,000 a year salary, from the rightwing website Cybercast News Service (CNS), where he launched the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in 2004 and attacked the war record of Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in 2006. Morano was Rush Limbaugh’s “Man in Washington” in the 1990s. Limbaugh, of course, still promotes global warming denial.
Both CNS — a subsidiary of Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center — and CFACT are part of the Scaife network of conservative front groups, supported by the Richard Mellon Scaife family fortune and corporations like Exxon Mobil. CFACT and the Media Research Center are co-sponsors of the Heartland Institute’s International Conference on Climate Change, a global warming denier extravaganza that begins Sunday, March 8.
Morano has spent this week promoting Roger Pielke Jr’s selective quotation of a conversation he had with climate scientist Michael Tobis. Pielke misinterpreted something Tobis said; Morano promoted Pielke’s misinterpretation; Glenn Beck then further distorted Tobis’s comments on his radio and television show.
Today, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld five of the seven charges against former Democratic Alabama governor Don Siegelman, who was the victim of political prosecution by Karl Rove. From Siegelman’s statement in reaction to the verdict:
The three judge panel of the 11th Circuit has ruled. I am disappointed. The fight will continue. My family and I are deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support and prayers. Your words and actions keep our spirits lifted and our resolve strong. We will get through this and we will win.
Siegelman went to prison after his sentencing in June 2007, but was freed last year on appeal bond. He currently faces a seven-year term, which may be reversed since the 11th Circuit ordered a new sentencing hearing.
In a blog post at Daily Kos, Siegelman writes that he is “disappointed, but not discouraged” by the ruling.
Exclusive, breaking news: Sen. Menendez has no hold on Holdren or Lubchenco — but others do, so action is still needed
A Congressional source tells Climate Progress that as of today, “Senator Menendez has no holds on any scientist nominees.”
So that would suggest efforts to get him to drop those holds has had some impact (see “Help free John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco“).
But it now appears that other, anonymous Senators are still holding up both nominations. Mike Dunford of ScienceBlogs has all the contact info needed if you want to continue applying pressure where it would useful (here and below):
Kevin Drum and Gary Sick both make the case that there’s been more activity, and a more dramatic shift in policy, on Iran than most people realize. I spoke with a senior European official this morning who’s had some involvement in this issue, and I would say that his comments were in line with that assessment. There’s been so much change in part because there’s been continuity. Robert Gates is still at the Pentagon, William Burns is still Undersecretary of State, and David Petraeus is still running CENTCOM. Plug in a President, a Secretary of State, and a National Security Adviser who are broadly sympathetic to what they’re trying to do and things start moving quickly. That said, there’s still some points that need to be ironed out. In particular, the looming Iranian election:
Apparently, the British have one view on the merits of engaging with Iran before the election and the French have a different view. The Americans, meanwhile, disagree with themselves about this. On one level, this is a sort of minor thing to be disagreeing about relative to the big strategic picture. But on another level, it’s hard to get very far with Iran until you make a decision.
Another issue is that I don’t think western governments have had discussions amongst themselves about what to do if diplomacy can’t be made to work. It’s clear if you speak to people outside government that many analysts think a nuclear Iran is something we could live with. But nobody wants any high-level policymakers in any of the key countries to say that, lest it fatally undermine the bargaining posture. One result of that, however, is that there’s no real talk about how you respond if you give it your best shot with the Iranians and they just turn out to really want a nuclear weapon.
In recent weeks, a growing number of conservatives have hopped on the Rush Limbaugh bandwagon, saying they agree with his repeated statements that he hopes President Obama fails. Michelle Malkin, Tom Delay, Rick Santorum, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) have all said they want Obama’s policies to fail.
The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, however, seems to disagree with this sentiment. In an interview with Fox and Friends yesterday, Kristol broke with the Limbaugh line. Discussing Obama’s recent actions to fix the economy with progressive blogger David Sirota, Kristol said that Americans “should” “hope” that Obama’s policies “succeed”:
Q: Are people still holding on to [their hope] thinking he will be able to change the problems we are now facing?
KRISTOL: Look, Americans wish a new president well. They hope his policies succeed, as they should.
Is Kristol, one of the most influential conservative pundits, going toe-to-toe with Rush Limbaugh, also one of the most influential conservative pundits? Thus far, those who dared to challenge the mighty Limbaugh have quickly kneeled before him (see e.g., Michael Steele, Rep. Phil Gingrey, and Gov. Mark Sanford).
Will Kristol resist the pressure, or will he fall in line like all the others?
As more details emerge about the Treasury Department’s plan for dealing with the toxic assets currently plaguing our banking system, it’s becoming clear that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is betting the house on a rather large assumption.
He seems to believe that the problem with the assets is not that they are actually relatively worthless, but that they have an “artificially depressed value” that will return as soon as a market for them is created. As Paul Krugman explained:
[S]omehow, top officials in the Obama administration and at the Federal Reserve have convinced themselves that troubled assets, often referred to these days as “toxic waste,” are really worth much more than anyone is actually willing to pay for them — and that if these assets were properly priced, all our troubles would go away
Geithner has posited that the toxic assets have a “basic inherent economic value” that is absent because of “the absence of financing and credit.” Unfortunately, today’s market valuations may reflect actual prices, which would throw a serious wrench into everything about the administration’s plan.
As Financial Times reported, JP Morgan and Wachovia have been picking apart some assets, to see what the underlying loans and mortgages are actually worth, and the outlook is pretty bleak. The recovery rates on some of the junk “have been a mere 5 per cent” and even the best of it is worth 35-40 cents on the dollar.
So where is Geithner getting his theory from? Well, Goldman Sachs — upon hearing the first details of Geithner’s plan — organized a roundtable, and attendees claim they “received the invitation after the speech and decided to attend because of the speech.” Meanwhile, Simon Johnson at the Baseline Scenario wrote that Geithner’s plan is “essentially the same plan that Goldman Sachs has been shopping around for the past month or so.” Was Geithner’s plan crafted along Goldman’s guidelines? (Goldman has since denied that the meeting was organized as a result of Geithner’s speech.)
Any way you cut it, Geithner is counting on the assets being artificially depressed, which exposes taxpayers to a serious loss if he’s wrong; under the plan investors who buy toxic assets would be able “just walk away if prices fell substantially.” Now, maybe Geithner knows something we don’t. But right now, the conventional wisdom is that the assets are pretty much garbage, and Geithner is taking Goldman Sachs’ word in order to avoid talk of nationalizing the banks.
Yglesias has more.
Time‘s Karen Tumulty’s spoke to Igor Volsky about a break-out session she attended that featured America’s Health Insurance Plans CEO Karen Ignagni. As Tumulty explains, Ignagni proposed delegating the writing of a plan to some kind of outside commission:
The break-out session that I was just at, in fact, Karen Ignangi made one of the more radical specific proposals, which is to take most of this out of the hands of Congress, set up a commission sort of like the Base Closing Commission, to come up with a plan and present it to Congress on a sort-of take it or leave it basis.
Ignagni’s proposal is revealing. With Democrats running the major health reform committees — Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) at Senate Finance, Henry Waxman (D-CA) at Committee on Energy and Commerce — the insurance industry probably believes that it can get a better deal out of (and have more influence over) some kind of commission.
I dunno about that. I mean, at the end of the day if you’re an insurance company why would you be afraid of Max Baucus? A commission seems to me like a perfectly reasonable idea; it’s just not going to happen. Members of congress are busy fighting each other for committee jurisdiction on health care, not fighting to give up jurisdiction and give it to an outside commission. That’s probably why should brought it up. Bringing up reasonable alternatives that have no chance of happening is a time-honored stalling tactic.