Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Lovely Waltz of Boehner and Obama

"Goodbye and don't come back!" yelled Speaker of the House John Boehner as he kicked the Tea Party down the steps of the Capitol and slammed the door of the House behind them.  That marriage of convenience is definitely over.  On Thursday and again on Friday, Boehner made clear that he is done with the Tea Party.

We know he really means this because he attacked their fund-raising organizations, as reported in the NY Times, claiming they were opposing the bipartisan budget bill primarily to raise funds for themselves and increase membership in their groups. "They are using you for their own purposes," he told the members of his caucus in private.  He also said this publicly.  That's a serious accusation.  It's not the kind of thing that can be unsaid.  It's also as close as you can get to attempted murder in politics because attacking the Tea Party money groups is like cutting off the air and water of the Tea Party.

This drastic move by Boehner is, at least in part, because he is still terrified that the Tea Party's shenanigans last fall  -  threatening to put the nation into default and actually shutting down the government  -  will cost the GOP the loss of the House in 2014.

There's more going on though.  Back in early October, I claimed that Boehner was slyly encouraging the Tea Party to undertake extreme action such as the government shutdown so that he could subsequently push the TP over a cliff (or the Capitol stairs) and be rid of them and their extortionist ways.  That analysis was exactly right. He let them have their way on the shutdown, the public was angry about it, and the GOP approval rating dropped to the lowest point it's ever been since such things have been measured.  And everybody was blaming the Tea Party.

Then Boehner waited.  He had let the Tea Party walk the road to its own destruction.  Now all he had to do was find the right moment to declare it dead.  Meantime he allowed Rep. Paul Ryan to reach a bipartisan budget agreement with Democratic Senator Patty Murray.  Before the resulting measure came to the floor, the right-wing Tea Party funding groups were screaming about the "establishment GOP selling out".

It was a declaration of war.

Now Boehner's attack on the funding groups has raised this intra-party war to nuclear war.  Well, a pox on both sides.

Well, maybe not on Boehner.  He's been plotting and scheming against the Tea Party, not just to maintain his control of the GOP and keep it in the majority in Congress but possibly because he really cares about our country and about preserving the kind of party system and the rules of party politics that have served us well for a long, long time.  Forgive me, but I think John Boehner is a patriot.

And what about the next debt ceiling confrontation due this spring?  Not to worry.  Boehner The Patriot will do as he did last time and send the legislation to the floor for passage by Democrats and the less insane among the GOP.

The day of Tea Party extortion is done.  The Tea Party is toast at its own tea party!

And please keep in mind that Boehner could not have killed the Tea Party last fall without the cooperation of President Obama.  Boehner KNEW he could count on Obama not to budge in the face of the right-wingers' demands.  Therefore Boehner could goad the Tea Party to it destruction, knowing Obama would allow them their self-destructive closing of the government rather than give an inch on the health care act.  Obama and Boehner each played their part in defanging a major threat to our country. That was the sine qua non of Boehner's plan, his unspoken partnership with Obama.  Very stealthily they waltzed the Tea Party to its death.

Dance on, boys!  It delights this old woman pol to watch you in your mastery.  Dance on, President Obama and Speaker Boehner, dance on!  And thank you both for saving us from the ignorance and viciousness of the Tea Party.

It looks like happy holidays after all!



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Plethora of Good News

You remember "plethora".  It's the incongruous word used by the chief bad guy in "The Three Amigos",  one of the outstanding movies of the "silly" genre.  El Guapo asks his assistant bad guy Jefe, "Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?"

Well, kiddoes, I don't know how we are fixed for pinatas right now, but we sure have a plethora of good news, just in time for the ho ho ho season.  It's bullet point time!

-  The health care website is working.  I told you it would be.  But, by contrast, the NY Times sales shop site still doesn't work.  It hasn't whenever I've tried it over the past several years.  And Fox News had to cancel some twit program gizmo recently because of a "computer glitch."  Oh, media, heal thyself!  The media would be ridiculous if it wasn't so dangerous.  Because of the irresponsible way it blathered the GOP line about the rollout, some people may believe the insurance program is as bad as the website was, not get insurance, and then die for lack of medical care.

-  A woman has been named to run General Motors.  Yes, a woman.  In this commerce driven, business dominated country, that's as big a step forward for equality as Obama being elected in 2008.

-  A woman has been named to head the Federal Reserve.  In this old-boy, money crazed world of ours, that's as big a step forward as Sally Ride getting in the space capsule.  (Actually a Russian woman went into space earlier.)

-  Scientists announced they have developed a gene therapy for curing cancer.  This is huge!  And partisan.  The GOP has and will cut cancer research funds, and its government shutdown caused some labs to close, thus harming or imperiling ongoing research experiments.  But this research achievement not only made it through the maze of cutting and closing but showed the high value of the programs the GOP is out to squash.

-  The Congress got something done!  It approved a judge for the D.C. appeals court, filling an EIGHT-YEAR vacancy.  This was possible because Harry Reid finally stopped shadow-boxing and led the Democrats to kill the filibustering of judicial and administrative appointments.

-  The Volker Rule was adopted by the five fed agencies that oversee the banking industry.  Oh, you say quietly, whoop-de-doo and what do I care?  But you do care. The Volker Rule, had it been in place earlier, would have prevented the greedy and risky insanity that led to the 2008 financial collapse.

-  A businessman got a four-year jail sentence for putting a defective product on the market, in this case a breast implant that was filled with a cheaper grade of silicon not approved for such use.  Thousands of women suffered horribly.  Four years doesn't sound like an adequate length of time in the pokey for his crime until you realize that we Americans virtually NEVER send business criminals to jail, unless they are women, e.g. Leona Helmsley for tax stuff, and Martha Stewart, who should have been jailed for bad recipes but instead did time for insider trading.  Anyway, the jailing is in France so we Americans still have an unblemished record of not treating wicked business crime as actual crime.  Note that the French s.o.b was fined only $103,000 by the French court.  In the USA he would have been fined a great deal more, apparently because we feel that taking a man's money hurts him more than going to jail.  Maybe it does.  In America.

There's more good news, but I'm exhausted enough already from being happy.   All that cheering and dancing and lifting of toasts  -  wears a person out!  Anyway, if I had a Christmas tree these lovely items of good news would be the presents under it.  And since I'll be alone on Christmas Day I'll try to find a TV showing of "The Three Amigos".  It should never be allowed to be off the air.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ninety-nine Kinds of Pie on the Wall and Bob 'n Ray

Well, not exactly ninety-nine kinds of pie.  Actually nine kinds of pie, which is still a lot of pie.  That's how many kinds of pie were on the White House Thanksgiving menu this year.

There's a lot of cool things about President Obama, but this may be the coolest.  He is obviously a man who likes pie.

What kinds, you ask?

Here's the list from the White House:  pumpkin pie, pecan pie, sweet potato pie, peach pie, apple pie, banana cream pie, coconut cream pie, chocolate cream pie, huckleberry pie.

There's some omissions here that one could sigh over.  Such as mince, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, butterscotch, black bottom, cherry, strawberry-rhubarb, Key Lime, lemon, grasshopper.  Some people would sigh over the omission of shoo-fly pie. Not me. Its name is better than the pie. Mincemeat is a standard of Thanksgiving in a lot of homes, including mine when a child, but it's really an English thing.  It would be a lot more popular if it didn't have "meat" in its name.  There's no meat in it, but you can put a lot of brandy in instead. Very English touch.

Indeed, pie itself is English, especially apple pie.  Things are not "as American as apple pie". Things are "as English as apple pie."  "As American as Chevrolet"?  Yes.  What about "as American as hot dogs"?  Yes, they're American.  And so is chocolate cake.  We invented chocolate cake.  And fudge.  (Vassar, about 1900.  Stick around and I may post that classic recipe one of these days.).  Chocolate candy in general is American.  Before we Americans started messing around with chocolate, people just drank it.

But let's dismiss history and just stay focussed on pie.  I could riff off here about how hard it is now to make a lovely flaky crust since the health police have outlawed partially hydrogenated shortening.  My daughter is remedying this with vodka.  In the crust.  Not in the cook.  Take that, you health police!

One unforgettable Thanksgiving I made sixteen pies.  All pumpkin, as I remember.  My six kids were delighted.  Each had his/her own pie.  And then some.  But it didn't start out like that.  The process evolved into sixteen pies because I have a double crust recipe I use for crust and the Libby can double pie recipe for filling. But the recipes have different ideas of what size a pie is.  And I have different size pie pans. Therefore, part of the time I'd come out with more pumpkin filling and part of the time I'd have too much crust.  So I just kept going, making pies, and hoping it would all even out eventually.  Of course it didn't, so I quit after Number 16.

It was like the man on the plains of Kansas who was interviewed by Wally Balloo on history's best radio show: "Bob and Ray".  Or as their best fans called it  -   and them  -  "BobnRay".  Wally Ballou  (and you could spell his name any way you wanted to:  Balloo, Ballou, Baloo, etc.) was "radio's beloved reporter".  Of course he was really Bob Elliott or Ray Goulding.  (Or were they Bob Goulding and Ray Elliott?)  Whichever. All the characters were Bob or Ray.  It was unimportant to remember who was playing which roles.  Just like the segment that was about "Lawrence Spechtenberger, Interstellar  Officer Candidate", except when it was about "Lawrence Fechtenberger, Interstellar Officer Candidate."  It was "brought to you by the chocolate cookies with the white stuff in between", except when it was "the white stuff in the middle."

Everything about Bob 'n Ray was loose.  The same with that fame-bringing achievement of the man on the Kansas plains.  He was being interviewed by the gentle and inadequate Wally Baloo for having built the tallest structure in the world.  It had happened in an unstructured way.  He hadn't planned to build this skinny skyscraper on the Kansas plains.  It started out as just a brick barbecue.  But it was a little uneven, with one side a little higher than the other one. And the guy kept building and building in hopes it would eventually even out.  It didn't, of course.  And he kept building and building.  Way, way up into the sky.  Like my pie crust and pie filling, it never evened out.  I won't tell you what finally happened to it.

Bob n' Ray stayed on the air for fifty years.  Ray is dead as of 1990 at age 68.  Bob is still bobbing along at age 90.  (Or is Ray alive and Bob dead?) They gave us the memorable sign-off tags of "Write if you get work" and "Hang by your thumbs".  They also gave us modern comedy.  Before them comedy was mostly gags, a la the Borscht Belt.  You know  -  jokes!  They invented the wild and wonderful styles and formats that in turn gave us improv and stand-up.  From them come Woody Allen, Robin Williams, Jonathan Winters, Jerry Seinfeld  -  who all acknowledge the debt  -   and every other stand-up or or skit artist or lets-pretend rifter since 1948.  They are the inventors of one of the greatest of all human arts and certainly the second greatest American art form.  (Top of the list of American stuff is jazz, then BobnRay comedy and its progeny, then the musical comedy.)

So sit back and listen to some jazz, and stream in some old Bob and Ray shows over the net, and eat some fudge and some pie.  And reflect.  It's a pretty good old world after all that has such things in it.

And has a pie-eating American president as well.

Meantime don't forget:  Write if you get work!   Hang by your thumbs!
Sometime I'll tell about my late husband sitting in on a Bob and Ray show as a teenager back in the early '50s.    


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dr. Strangelove Be Damned! Give Thanks About Iran!

It's one of the greatest of all movies: "Dr. Strangelove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb".

Except we never did learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.  Nuclear weapons are still a far greater threat than the terrorism that produced 9-1l and the horrible attacks on Madrid, Mumbai, London and Bali. One nuclear explosion would be far more destructive and more deadly than all the terrorist attacks put together.  And Iran has virtually reached the point where it can produce a nuclear weapon.

Call me old-fashioned but I have been worried about Iran, seriously worried.  Call it being afraid.

Equally bad, Iran's having a nuclear weapon would undoubtedly cause a stampede among Middle East countries to get their own nuclear weapons.    

Thanks to Obama and his quiet, intelligent persistence for almost five years, we now have an agreement with Iran that halts its impending creation of a nuclear weapon and holds out hope of a long-term agreement.  The GOP, Israel's Netanyahu, and some of the Senate Democrats are unhappy with the agreement Obama has obtained.  But so what?  These same people are always upset.  The media are skeptical too because their current "take" on the news is that Obama is a screw-up, i.e. he has a temporarily lame health care web site.

Forget web sites!  The real news is this agreement with Iran.  And it's terrifically good news, and it is huge.  Let's remember that the two governments haven't even been speaking to each other since Jimmy Carter was president.  Remember that our lives have been under threat, including the lives of our children and grandchildren.  Remember that five presidents before Obama have tried to deal with the Iran situation and gotten nowhere.

Obama is the guy who "goes where no man has gone before".  He got health care reform enacted, he killed Bin Laden, he lured Russia into getting rid of Syria's chemical weapons.  No prior presidents even came close to getting these things done.  The guy is a regular Ghostbuster!  Got a problem?  Get Obama!

We are luckier in having Obama than we deserve.  His latest poll numbers do not show the gratitude we should have for these accomplishments and his other numerous achievements.  They are so numerous that I often forget some of them.  But I'm going to list them any way, even if I forget some of them.  And I'm going to say "Thank You" to Mr. Obama and to all of you who helped make him president.  On this Thanksgiving I say, "Thanks, Mr. President for all you've done for us."

Such as:
 1.  Saving the auto industry and its one million jobs.
 2.  Halting the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.
 3.  Priming the pump for restoration of millions of jobs.
 4.  Rescuing the state and local governments from collapse and providing the funds to save the jobs of    millions of police, firemen and teachers.
 5.  Getting us out of Iraq.
 6.  Now getting us out of Afghanistan.
 7.  Securing another treaty with Russia for further elimination of nuclear weapons.
 8.  Not taking the bait and rushing us into a bunch of wars some thought we should enter, e.g. Libya,   Syria, Georgia, Egypt, North Korea.
 9.  Requiring BP put up $20 BILLION DOLLARS for restoration of the Gulf Coast.
10. Bringing instant aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy when the GOP Congress wanted them to have nothing.
11. Trying to console the families victimized in Sandy Hook and trying to get gun control.
13. Halting deportation of the Dream kids and trying to get immigration reform.
14. In these past few weeks, fining a big bad bank BILLIONS for the recklessness and illegalities that led to the 2008 crash.
15. Telling off Chief Justice Roberts for adopting the decision in Citizens United.
16. Ending "Don't ask, don't tell".
17. Supporting the marriage rights of gays.
18. Requiring enormous cuts by the auto/truck industry in greenhouse emissions and requiring big increases in gas mileage, these being very important steps to curb global warming.
19. Ordering that federal forest fire personnel have year-round health care benefits even if employed seasonally.  (You take care of the many but also the few.  You have a good heart.)
20. (This next is enormous! And shows how he cares for the overlooked even when there's no political payoff.)  Requiring that the Native Americans FINALLY get paid the billions and billions in royalties and interest owed them by big business for over a century for all the minerals, oil, gas, timber, water, and grazing that have been taken from Native Americans lands under cover of law but without the payment the law required.
21. Having an Attorney general who vigorously fights for people's voting rights in the states where the  GOP conspires to strip them of those rights.
22. Increasing veterans' benefits.
23. Naming a woman to head the Federal Reserve, one of the most powerful jobs in the world.
24. Getting the Lilly Ledbetter Act to make it easier for women to get equal pay.
25. Cutting in half the burdensome "donut hole" seniors must struggle with in paying for prescriptions.
26. All the other benefits contained in the Affordable Care Act that will save lives and curb suffering.
27. Lowering federal student loan interest by removing the middlemen lenders.
28. Doubling the number of Pell grants.
29. Calling the GOP bluff on the various "cliffs" they manufactured.  Staring them down during the shutdown.
30. Creating consumer protections regarding our credit cards and other borrowing.
31. Creating a 25 million acre zone of protection for coral reefs off the Atlantic  coast.
32. Making fun of Donald Trump at that press dinner while the Navy Seals were killing Bin Laden.
33. Having a great sense of humor and comedic timing.  And the cool to kid around while sweating out that Seals' mission.
34. Singing.
35. That smile.

The above list is not in order of importance, but clearly the most important is Number 32.  As Kramer would say, "Oh, yeah!" And fall over the coffee table.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Mr. President and everybody.  You can't all live here in Oregon, but you surely have much to be grateful for wherever you are.  And may I say that I'm most grateful to each of you for your readership.  And you too, Mr. President, even if you don't read the blog.

Gobble, gobble!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

JFK: The Dream That Never Dies

I didn't write about JFK's death on the 50th anniversary.  I just wanted to think about it and see what others had to say.  And to grieve.  As Adlai Stevenson said 50 years ago, "We shall bear the grief of his death until the day of our own."

Now  -  two days after November 22  -  there seems to be something worth noting which has received virtually no mention by anyone else:  JFK and Obama have a lot in common.  In fact, that's in large part why I became an Obama supporter.  They share the ability to speak to the best in us.  Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy also had this ability.  Teddy Kennedy too had the gift at his best moments, such as the 1980 Democratic convention when, in his concession speech, he said, "The dream will never die."  Until 2008 the dream seemed to have died with JFK, Martin Luther King, and Bobby.  Not even Bill Clinton approached their ability to move us, while the GOP, even with its "Communicator" Ronald Reagan, deliberately spoke to the worst in us, using coded language for racism.

Then, after 40 years from the silencing of Martin and Bobby, we again heard the voice.  Obama spoke to the better angels of our nature.  And he had the smile, the intelligence, the restraint, the wit, and the ultimate cool of JFK.  He lifted the hearts of the people, especially the young, just as JFK had done.

It's important, however, to remember that not everybody loved JFK, just as now not everybody loves Obama.  JFK didn't even top 50% of the vote as Obama has twice done.  Like Lincoln, JFK was a "minority president".  There was even a sizable segment that thought he'd stolen the election in 1960 by having Mayor Richard Daley stuff the ballot boxes of Chicago.  Like Obama he too was an "illegitimate president" for a lot of Americans.

JFK's sudden death changed people's perspective.  Although less than 50% actually had voted for him,  after his death an amazing 64% claimed they had.

It was not too late for this surge in popularity to be useful.  Like Obama, JFK had not been been able get done in Washington all that he wanted to.  He wanted a civil rights bill, but his own party's Southern Democrats in the Senate were never going to let that happen.  In the end he had to die for it.  It is the absolute consensus of historians, and those who were part of the events, that President Johnson could not have gotten civil rights enacted without the death of Kennedy.

We paid a terrible price for a great good.  Was it worth it?  Of course it was.  John Kennedy would have said so too.  After all, he had almost died in World War II fighting for our freedom.  He would not have begrudged his life to making possible the freedom of millions of black people and the eventual opening of the road of another young president to the White House.

The second thing worth noting is that the intransigent Southerners who hated JFK are mostly the same intransigent haters of Obama today.  For them the Civil War is never over, blacks are never free and equal, and they still believe the future of the country must be with them, that they can ignore the outcome of elections, the changes in our culture, and the will of the majority.  It was repugnant to them to have a Catholic in the White House, and now it is even more repugnant to have a black man as president.  Of course these are not exactly the same individuals, but they are the same demographic:  white, older, mostly male, Southern, evangelical and rural.  They are as undereducated, ignorant and prejudiced as they were back then.

Yes, there has been great progress in America and the world in 50 years.  But, sadly, that stubborn segment of America never progresses.  For them there is a never a leader to lead them upward, only those who would pander to their hatreds and stoke their fears.  They are the poorest and most pathetic people in the world, for they live among plenty yet fear for their survival as if life were entirely a competition.  They live without the joy of sharing our cultural diversity because they hate "the other".  And their only dream is a dream of the past, of a slave-holding society that fought  the "glorious lost cause", that was predicated on the doctrines of "secession" and "nullification" that these fools yet speak of 150 years later.

Fortunately, they are mostly old and dying.  Though they struggle to deny the vote to the young and the people of color, they are drifting into irrelevance.  Tomorrow does not belong to them.  All they have is a long-ago yesterday.  Tomorrow belongs to John Kennedy, Barack Obama, and all of us who share the dream that never dies: equality, freedom, peace and prosperity for all.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving. and let us all be thankful for the brave vision John Kennedy set before us and for any opportunity we have to make this dream possible for our children and grandchildren and all the children of the world.  



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obama Didn't Lie! So What Did Happen?

Of course Obama didn't lie about people keeping their existing health insurance if they want to.

I could deny he lied based on the fact he seems to have too much character to lie, which I believe, but I don't have to go that far.

There are other indicia.  First, there was no reason for him to lie, especially after the health insurance reform bill passed in early 2010.  Even after it passed into law, he kept saying the same thing for almost four more years.  Obviously he believed it was true.

A second reason I know he was not lying is that it was obvious such a lie would be caught out.  No one over the age of nine tells a whopper that will be caught.  Bill Clinton famously lied, but he didn't know that the woman in question had kept the blue dress. The far right can tell outrageous lies about the Affordable Health Care Act because their side doesn't seem to care about truth, but the rest of us can't lie about stuff without fear of the consequences.

So who are these 46% who believe Obama lied?  They are the 46% who did not vote for him in 2012.  The numbers are virtually identical.  They didn't like him a year ago, and they don't like him now.  Nothing he says or does can change that.  Because they don't want him as president, they can believe he lied.  In fact, about this same number have always believed he was lying, or weren't sure he was telling the truth, about where he was born.  Or whether he's a Christian, this last being none of their business.

But if Obama wasn't lying about the new law, what was going on?  How could he have believed what he was saying when it turns out to be untrue?  Did his staff deceive him?  Didn't his staff know? What went wrong that a federal law comes into being and nobody seems to know one of its provisions?  Didn't Congressional staff know?  After all, it's their job to write the bills and know what's in them.  Was nobody keeping Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid informed?  Wouldn't they have told Obama if he was inadvertently misrepresenting the law?  And what about the Republicans?  The one thing they didn't say about Obama and Obamacare for four years was that he was lying about that provision.  If he was misrepresenting a provision, wouldn't they have said so?  

What about Obama's own team? I did legislative analysis for Gov. Jerry Brown in his first time around as governor of California.  The Governor's legislative team would never have let something like this slip by.  Surely, the President has a legislative analysis team that watches out for his concerns.  Why weren't they telling him what was in the law?

Nobody told him what was in the law because the provision in question is NOT IN THE LAW.  The existing inadequate policies that some people want to keep were "grandfathered in" by the law, i.e. allowed to continue as exempt from the new law.  So it's not the Affordable Care Act which is taking away the inadequate politics of these deluded people.  It's the INSURANCE COMPANIES!

The companies decided that, since these policies aren't up to the new federal minimums, the companies would just cancel them and thereby force people to buy better and more expensive ones.  There's nothing in the new law to prevent the insurance companies doing this.  So they did it.  They essentially knifed Obama in the back after he had opted to keep them in the health insurance game even though a large percentage of his party wanted to let the feds absorb the whole thing into Medicare, creating what is called "single payor".

Could the law have been written to prevent the insurance companies from pulling this stunt?  Probably.  It'd be a bit tough, given the Supreme Court's new limitations on federal power vis-a-vis business, but a friend who has done legislative drafting for thirty years for one of the Pacific Coast states assures me it could be done.  This person believes that those drafting the Affordable Care Act didn't include such a provision because they were just "too naive" to anticipate what the insurance companies were going to pull.

How can anybody be so naive as to not anticipate that the insurance companies will find and use every loophole in the universe?  How can such naive staff  people be working for Congressional leaders and for the White House?

So did you notice the payback element in what the insurance companies have done?  How they have stuck it to Obamaa  personally just for getting a health insurance law enacted?  How they not only double-crossed him but set him up to look either duplicitous or ill-informed, neither being very good for a president.  Oh, that just one insurance executive had had the decency to call him up and say, "We are planning to cancel these policies."  He wouldn't look so out of it now if he'd had the slightest heads up on their nefarious plans.

And the greed of it!  He has delivered millions of new subscribers to them by requiring everyone get insurance, with the added bonus that these are, by and large, healthy, young insureds.  But a lot is never enough for the greedier elements of American business.

And nothing is greedier than the health insurance companies.

But if they keep this up, they are putting us on the rapid road to single payor, a consummation devoutly to be wished.




Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Spy Who Came In From the Sewer

German Chancellor Angela Merkel claims to be annoyed because America's NSA has been spying on her.

Oh, for heaven's sake, Angela, get real!  You haven't been spied on by the real professionals. Those folks at the National Security Agency are actually just amateurs.  The real spies are the ones at the National Sewer Agency.  Now those are some spies!

I wrote an email recently to my adult kids, reminiscing about how tree roots were always invading our sewer line back in the days of their childhood so that I would have to call a very nice man named Mr. Christian to come roto-root or whatever.  Initially I would get very annoyed by the situation but then decided to embrace it by learning about sewage lines.  For example, how much fall per foot does the line have to have?  As I mentioned to my kids in the email, this works well regarding people too. Someone is very annoying?  Decide to like them.  Or at least pretend to.  And they lose the power to annoy.  So I use the "ain't sewers fun" approach across a broad spectrum of life.

Within half an hour of my typing this bit of sewer wisdom and sending it off, five  -   yes, five  - sewage companies popped their ads onto my email page.  Isn't America grand!  Entrepreneurs up the gazoozoo!

One of the ads mentioned an intriguing "directional drilling".  One rather hates to think of non-directional drilling, doesn't one?  Another site promised "Bursting, Repairs, Replacement, Scope, Video Boring, Sewer Taps".  I like that this company is willing to burst your pipes for you so that the fun can begin and we can get on with the rest of the menu.  Is the '"video boring" a thumbs down on the quality of a sewage film or is it an invitation to watch the process "boring" along within the pipe, rather like watching your own colonoscopy on a screen?  (I prefer to sleep.)

In any event you can see that the folks at the real NSA, i.e. the National Sewer Agency are absolutely on their toes.  They were watching me!  And the minute my messaging wandered into sewerland, they were right on it.

So be grateful, Angela Merkel, that all you have to worry about is our National Security Agency.  And by the way, sweetie, how come your own security people have never told you that the USA spies on you and that you folks spy on the USA?  And that everybody spies on everybody!  As the Godfather said, "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer." ( Or was that George Bernard Shaw?  It's always Shaw, Lincoln, or Will Rogers, though the Godfather is gaining.)

Read some John LeCarre, darling, and learn what we all know and have always known.  Meantime, shut up.  Your outrage is so hypocritical given what Germany has done to Europe's economy in recent years and to six million Jews in an earlier time.

Let there be a consensus:  for prior bad behavior, Germany is barred forever from complaining about anything.  Including sewer lines.  


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The President Is In Dallas

It's November.  Soon it will be November 22.

Fifty years since the killing of President Kennedy in Dallas.

And at this time of a heart-breaking anniversary and in the midst of the blinding rage of racism that is bedeviling our nation, another young president has gone to this city of infamy.  President Obama was in Dallas today to speak about the benefits of the Health Care Act.

I cannot imagine what is in the minds of the White House schedulers.

Are they ignorant of history?

Have they never heard of "copycat crimes"?

Are they arrogantly insensitive to our sensitivities?

Or is this some sort of macho gesture?

I'll be glad when President Obama's out of Dallas.  Call it superstition, but Dallas is a bad place.  Texas' hatred is being stoked by Reckless Rick Perry, a governor who talks about killing officials he doesn't agree with and talks of secession.

These are perilous times, with many whites feeling threatened by the shift of power in this country away from them and into the hands of people of color, people they have mistreated for three hundred years.  Like most oppressors they fear retaliation by their victims.

But that's not what's going to happen.  The blacks of South Africa did not engage in mass retaliation against the whites after apartheid was done.  The Irish Catholic majority of Ireland did not rise up in massive slaughter of the Protestant minority after the English pulled out their protective forces.  And in all of America's wars, the blacks, and Latinos, and Asian Americans, and Native Americans took up arms against America's enemies even though America was then a nation run by and for the benefit of whites only.

The only conclusion I can reach is that some people are better than others in the sense that they are more forgiving.  Or smart enough to know what whites in this country have been slow to learn, that diversity is good, that power shared is power increased, and that we all do better when we are in it together.

Still, I'll be very glad when President Obama is safely back in the White House and not in Texas or other places of guns and hatred.



Monday, October 21, 2013

You Expected a Website to Work? You're Kidding!

So the Affordable Health Care website isn't working?

Has anyone tried to use Yahoo email lately?

Or tried shopping on Macy's website?

Or even tried shopping Amazon on one of its off-days when it's stuck in a closed loop?

Have you tried to get your television service through Comcast cable for an entire evening without it breaking down and losing the signal ?

Get a new refrigerator that doesn't freeze everything when set at "Normal Cold"?

Get a $2400 hearing aid that amplifies without constant fiddling to remove feedback?

Use a $5000+ bi-pap sleep apnea machine by Respironics that has a built-in water heater that's supposed to work?

Get an on-line Amtrak ticket that has the right date on it?

Get your local bank's telephone information system to give you an update on your checking account?

Get someone on the phone at your phone service provider to explain why you have received a computer-generated letter telling you that some other unnamed person has been added to your account?

Like many of you I spend a lot of time just trying to get American businesses to function adequately.  How do these companies make any money?  How much do they owe me for all the trouble they cause me and the time they steal from me.

Last month Comcast's cable TV was down so much they had to credit me $100.  I could get rich being a Comcast customer.

So why the surprise that the Obama administration's computer contractors screwed up the health insurance website?  Especially when  the GOP in the House refused adequate funding for the startup.  Take the low bidder and get less.  That's how it works.  Why is that a surprise?

I was married to two different men over the course of 50 years.  Two men but one industry:  the electronics industry.  I saw computers go from punched cards and room-size machines to little itsy bitsy things that you can't really see.  The first micro-processors sat on my husband's chest of drawers while he and Bob Noyes tried to figure out what to do with them.  One thread has been constant for 50 years.  The stuff doesn't work.  Whether manufacturing overseas or not, the industry is of a get-it-out-the-door mentality that has carried over from the hardware to the software of the computer industry.

Selling the product and shoving it out the door has always taken priority over testing and making sure things work.  Get the beat on the other company!   Remember the hand-held electronic devices a few years ago which were getting hot and catching fire?  Not such a great idea in a hand-held device, right?

So why didn't someone tell Obama that "we need more time"?  Because no one in the electronics or programming industries is able to say those words.

And you wanna know why?  It's very simple.  They have been programmed not to!

And, kiddo, that's a program that's always worked!  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

He's "No Blink" Obama For Sure!

Just a bit of chortling.  Okay?

The GOP caved and crept away tonight, it's tail you know where.

They had thought Obama would blink and give them what they wanted under threat of defaulting on the nation's debt and ruining the world economy.  But he had said he would not negotiate under extortion.  And he didn't.

They didn't understand that Obama means what he says.  When he says he means it, he really means it. He said he would kill Bin Laden and he did.  He said he would rid Syria of chemical weapons and he is.  In fact, the Tea Party GOP should have paid close attention to how Obama manipulated the Syria situation, luring Putin in and giving Putin the hook to hang his hat on that let Putin take responsibility for getting rid of the chemicals.  Instead they thought  Obama was being "weak" about Syria and that Putin couldn't be trusted to do the job. Ha!  Putin has more to fear from those weapons than we do!

So they have misread Obama and the moves of the other real politicans, his cohorts Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and even Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.  They never realized that Republicans and Democrats can fight each other ferociously over policy matters and maybe not even like each other personally, but when they are threatened by a common enemy like the Tea Party, they can play off of one another for the mutual goal of squashing the threat.  The Tea Partyers know nothing of real politics.
Consequently they have just been had.

Blinded by their racial hatred, they also failed to notice that our President Obama is one very smart, very cool, and very determined man.  And it was his determination that set set the stage for their "leader" John Boehner to lead them right into oblivion, as I've suggested in my last few blogs.  It's been quite a show.

The great news is  -  if I've analyzed it right  -  that we are now free of the destructive and disgusting intransigence of the Tea Party contingent in Congress.  Sure, they can still make noise.  But they have shot their wad; they have no big threats left.  When next the debt ceiling needs raising and they threaten again to put us into default, everyone will laugh.  Because we now know two things.  Obama won't move and Boehner won't let there be a default.  He said two weeks ago that he hadn't come to Washington to let there be a default.  And like, Obama, he meant what he said.  He will again put the debt ceiling bill on the floor for the Democrats and some Republicans to pass.  And that's that.

Meantime he will pray.  Pray that someday, somehow the GOP can repair the terrible damage the Tea Party has done to the Republican Party.

And as for Obama?  Good humorist that he is, he's just said that he wants to now get on with passing immigration reform.  What a super fun way to rub some salt in the GOP wounds, reminding the nation of the hateful narrow-minded prejudice of the GOP that opposes justice for the immigrants here who work so hard in our fields and hotels and construction.  

To me that GOP hatred is an even more disgusting attribute than almost destroying our economy.   But no matter how you look at today's GOP it's not a very pleasant sight.

Thus the GOP's twenty-four percent approval rating in the polls.

That says it all.  Chortle. Chortle.


The "Crisis" Resolved as Predicted Here! And Tea Party is Now Noodles!

So then the grown-ups joined forces and put the bad brats back in their playpen and took the dynamite away from them. The grown-ups then walked out and closed the door.

That's how the story ends.  The story of an ignorant and inexperienced bunch of Tea Party crazies over-reaching in the House, egged on by Senator Ted Cruz.  Thus ends the story of their shutting down the government and threatening a default on the nation's debt and a worldwide economic cataclysm.

In prior blog postings I described the steps that the grown-ups would take  -  in cooperation  -  to get the Tea Party House members knocked down to size.  They followed the steps almost exactly.  Obama, Reid, McConnell, Pelosi, and Boehner  worked together beautifully to turn the Tea Party into nothing more frightening than wet noodles.  The five leaders have used the "crisis" to defang one of the scariest power blocs this country has ever spawned.  We have passed now from a looming end to our form of government into a time when government may function once again.  In short, the Tea Party no longer controls the House.  It is discredited and powerless, having blown its leverage once and for all.

After all, what can they threaten with any more?  Eating worms?

We have passed out from under the cloud of extortion being used to gain things one side wants but the majority of Americans don't.  We have restored power to the actual majority of Republicans in the House, i.e. there are substantially fewer Tea Party representatives in the House than there are more moderate Republicans members.  In all likelihood these more moderate Republicans will keep Boehner in his speakership.

After all, the Tea Party's recent commotion has dragged the GOP approval number down to 24%.  For the GOP House members from moderate districts that number is very bad news.  Thus they are not inclined to heed their Tea Party cohorts on anything any more.   By all rights, therefore, Boehner is safe in the speakership.

And that's okay.  He may be orange but that's okay.  He may be way off on policy but that's okay.  What he needs to be is an actual leader of the House, capable of delivering on the deals he cuts in the future with Obama.  The test of that comes as the two sides now move to budget negotiations.  Can he use the power of the speakership that he now has reclaimed from the Tea Party?

Please can our government now function again?  Can we please have politics again as it should be practiced, not by ignorant amateurs but by people who know how to govern?

After the past two weeks of watching the political pros manage the defanging of the Tea Party, I think there is reason to hope they can work on other things together.

And now please reopen the Grand Canyon!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's Over: Tea Party Is Safely in Boehner's Trap

There is still more wringing of hands to get through, and a bit more shouting, but the actual "crisis" over the debt ceiling and the government shutdown has been over for some time.  As Senator John McCain said yesterday, "The Republicans have to accept that we have lost."

Now we just have to wait while Republican House Speaker John Boehner finishes luring the Tea Partyers through the very last steps to their demise.

And it's going just fine. The Tea Party is still doing exactly what Boehner wants them to by throwing yet another tantrum.

Today they predictably hung tough against the compromise the Senate worked out yesterday and then screamingly rejected a "plan" Speaker Boehner came up with this afternoon.  Neither of these legislative vehicles proposed any real harm to Obamacare, and this of course  enraged the Tea Partyers in the House.

Their seniors in their own party, such as Senator John McCain, have been telling them for weeks they weren't going to get repeal of Obamacare or its delay, and John Boehner never intended they should.  For a couple of weeks he seemed to support their "my way or the highway" stance as they shouted,   "Defund Obamacare or we'll shut down the government and put the nation in default on its debt."  But he was only encouraging them to shoot their wad and then die away.

As I've suggested all along,  Boehner wanted them to do just what they have done: humiliate themselves, threaten the economy, and terrify the moneyed interests that had been backing them.  Frightened by the looming default on our debt,  the moneyed interests last week turned the tables and  threatened they may "primary" the Tea Partyers, i.e. run more moderate candidates against them in their primaries.  This threat serves Beohner well.  He wants the upstart and obnoxious and unruly Tea Partyers off his back and docile so he can run the House Republican caucus, not they.  He wants his power back.  And he likely is getting it.  Moderation and compromise may therefore return to D.C.

Since the House Tea Partyers have today rejected both the Senate compromise plan and the plan Boehner was offering, all the time has run out.  On Thursday the default arrives.  Under this gun   Boehner can now turn to the House Republicans and say, "Sorry, boys and girls, I have to no choice   but to put the Senate proposal to a vote on the House floor because I could not get the House Republicans to agree on an alternative."

Thus the House Democrats and seventeen of Boehner's less-crazy fellow House Republicans  can -  at the last moment of the last hour  -  save the country from default on our debt, rid us all of the illusion that Michele Bachmann and Ted Cruz really exist, and finally, finally reopen the Grand Canyon.

The Tea Party bet its wad on forcing the defunding of  Obamacare.  Remember?  That's what this was all supposed to be about.  They not only bet their wad but also shot their wad, threatening the ultimate terror of a default on our debt.  Their extortion didn't work.  They have lost all credibility.   Their wads are but spitballs now.

Thanks to President Obama for holding firm on Obamacare and protecting the principle that our democracy is not up for grabs by extortion.  Thanks to Speaker Boehmer  for pretending to be on the Tea Party side and luring them to jump off a cliff.  Thanks to the often selfish moneybags who saw their money threatened and for once did something good for the country.  Thanks to Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid for playing at being spitting cats until just the right moment, thus producing a "compromise" when it was too late for the non-Tea-Party House GOP to do anything but accept it.

We the people are going to be okay now and so is the Affordable Health Care Act.

The carnival nonsense of a splinter of a party has been neutered by skilled political grownups working across both parties to out-maneuver the brats.

Louis Armstrong was right:  It is a wonderful world!

And a beautiful autumn.  Enjoy!


Friday, October 11, 2013

An Apology (Sort Of) to My Readers

The post I did on "Tea Party Is Dead... etc" on October 10 is long.  But it is about the inside workings of politics.  And actual politics is complex.  That's why so much of the media doesn't get it and why so much of the public is confused.  We are just emerging from a very scary and complicated episode in American political history.  It's one of the most important in our history.  Huge things were at stake.

So read that blog!  Long or not, read it.  You can hang out in the pool hall or watch the wash dry another time.

The one I just posted about "How Boehner Killed the Tea Party" is shorter.      

How Boehner Has Killed the Tea Party

Speaker of the House John Boehner is apparently a clever fellow.  I don't like him personally.  But we all owe him big-time for his part in just killing off the Tea Party.

If you doubt the Tea Party is dead, take a look at today's Wall Street Journal/NBC poll numbers.  These results are all over the media so I won't repeat them here. Just let's say the GOP is in the tank. Terribly in the tank. Its favorable rating is the lowest ever in the entire history of the universe.  Only 24%.  The rest of the numbers are equally dire for the Grand Old Party, which now looks to be more of a morning-after hangover than a party.  The GOP could even lose the House next year!  Almost 3/4 of Americans HATE the shutdown and default threat and blame the GOP for them.  In fact they blame the GOP by 20% more than they blame the president.

Well, so much for the media's bland stupidity that "both sides are at fault" for everything.  Oh, no, my friends, the American people aren't buying into that any more.  Like another president used to say, "You can fool some of the people...."  But you know how the rest goes.  We've now reached the point that the Republicans can no longer fool any people any of the time.

The Tea Party inflicted this woeful wounding on the GOP.  They insisted on the shutdown and debt default as threats to win an ending of Obamacare.  Faced with this extortion, President Obama said, "Fuhgeddaboudit". (That's an East Coast accent coupled with a Chicago politician's killer resolve.)  He dug his heels in.  No extortion.  No bargaining.  And not a smidge off the Affordable Health Care Act.  He thus set up the cliff for Boehner to lure the Tea Party over.

Which Boehner promptly did.  He seemingly stopped being the reasonable, moderate, old Missourian, the orange-faced and dull Boehner, and seemed to become as daft as the Tea Partyers.  He encouraged them to be bad! He claimed that he'd more or less thought it over with the gang and decided that, yeah, they were going to strangle the Affordable Health Care Act in its cradle after all.  And, yeah, he could see them shutting the government down and putting the nation into default.  He'd previously disavowed such naughties with vehemence and conviction.  Previously he'd even promised the Wall Street Republicans that he wouldn't let the default happen.

And when he had previously said that he hadn't come to D.C. to do the bad things the Tea Party wanted, I believed him.  So did Wall Street.  Therefore the markets held steady (except for one brief moment) because the markets knew Boehner didn't mean what  he was now saying about  "let's do what the Tea Party wants".

But the Tea Party believed him.  Oh, boy, did they ever!  "Golly, whiz,  guys!  Boehner's going to let us have the death of Obamacare, an economic armageddon and a government shutdown! What happy days! Let's dance in the aisles!"

They hadn't noticed Boehner's face and body language and that he was stammering around on TV worse than usual.  When he told the lies the Tea Party wanted to hear, even his orange color faded.  I'm not kidding you. The man went white. But the Tea Partyers never noticed anything.  They believed what they wanted to hear.  And they babbled their nonsense ever louder and crazier.  "Hey," one Tea Party House guy said, "a default would be good for the economy. It would help stabilize it!"

Stabilize it?!  Hearing that, all the rest of us blanched white.

Boehner had invited them to strut their ignorance and flaunt their scary power, and they sure as hell were doing it!

Jump ahead a tad. Today a commentator or two is saying that Boehner embraced the Tea Party hard-lining because he wanted to get in good with them.  No!  It's not that at all.  He didn't accept their hard-line, and he doesn't need them closer.  He needs them out of his hair, off his back, and gone from the House.  He needs them politically dead. Short of being out of the House, he wants them docile. To get them there he had to lure them to such extremely stupid and frightening antics -  like embracing a default  -  that the powerful money forces that have fed them and put them in office will now cut off their sustenance.

And it worked.  On Tuesday the Koch brothers, who had financed the six-month organizing of the Tea Party extortion effort, wrote a letter made public, stating they hadn't wanted to shut down anything or threaten a default on the debt.  Oh, no! Not them!  It was some other brother, Ma!

Next the major business groups  -  I mean the really big ones  -  told the Tea Partyers that they'd better stop being a_ _ _ _ s or the money guys would not only cease funding their elections but would finance moderate candidates against them in Republican primaries next year.  That's wonderful!

And they will get rid of them.  They have to.  More than any one else, the people with a lot of money  -  like the Koch brothers and the really big big business groups  -  stood to lose a lot of money if this nation had defaulted on its debts.  As for their losses in the shutdown?  Not so much.  Not unless it goes on long enough that the weapons-makers and other government contractors began to lose some real money.

Because, my chums, there's one thing the ideologically drunk Tea Partyers forgot.  The guys with lots of money who buy and sell Republican Congress members don't care s_ _t about political ideas and Ayn Rand theories when these threaten their money.

I love it.  For once, the ugly, selfish moneybags got to do a patriotic service for their country.  They are reining in the monsters they dumped on us.  It's beautiful.  It's Greek drama.  It's enough to make one believe that, yes,Virginia, there is a Tooth Fairy.

Mostly I love what has unfolded because it shows that politics can still work toward a positive outcome and that party leaders can still cooperate in defanging the worst elements despite the acrimony in the ranks and in the electorate.  Which is what President Obama and John Boehner did.  Quietly.  Beyond the ability of news people to fathom. They worked together to disempower the Tea Party.  I'm not saying they met in a dank cellar room of the White House and plotted the demise of the Tea Partyers.  They didn't have to.  Skilled politicians  -  and politics done right is a highly skilled craft  -  don't have to spell things out for each other.  They can read each other, and  they know the rules of politics and follow them.  Those who don't understand politics or don't respect it are the likes of Ted Cruz and the Tea Party. Or Sarah Palin. They flame up through demagoguery, trip on the door sill, and soon become irrelevant.

Because there is no real room for them in the serious business of politics and governing.  It's not a funny business for clowns.  Nor is it a revival tent for yelling one's creed.  It's the marble buildings where we the people meet to work out what needs to be done.  It's serious business requiring enormous attention, skill, and thought.  Most of us haven't the time for it so we choose others to do it for us.  Most of these are serious and intelligent people.  They are mostly grown-ups.

Thank heavens the grown-ups have sent the raucous kids to bed.  The kids will still yell and scream and occasionally bounce out of their rooms for a drink of water or because they "gotta go potty".  But they are no longer in a position to burn the house down.  Or the House either.

I just wish Boehner was as good an actor as Obama.  Obama did his part with so much more aplomb.  And I'll bet Obama's good again with the comedy at the next White House Press dinner.  Maybe the day's not far off when everybody can lighten up a bit and Obama can even sing to us again.

That would be mighty nice.

(What is an "aplomb" anyway?)



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tea Party Is Dead! And Fight Ends Over Shutdown and Debt Ceiling!

Ding! Dong! The Wicked Tea Party is dead!  And so is defaulting on the debt!  And the government is going to reopen!  Thanksgiving has come early this year!

It's not the headline in the media yet but the economic crisis is over. Beginning October 6 this blog has described the steps by which the GOP was signaling it was giving in.  Obama and the nation and democracy have now won.  (And  -  shh! it's a secret  -  so has John Boehner!)  As of yesterday the GOP gave up on extortion and agreed to raise the debt ceiling. There's some foot-dragging on reopening the government but it too will happen soon.  And there's not a whisper any more of defunding Obamacare.  All along this blog has been ahead of the media in analyzing what's going on, showing that this is where we were headed.

How do we know the GOP has now completed its cave- in?  Rep. Paul Ryan took over Speaker Boehner's place on stage and proposed in the Wall Street Journal that the House now raise the debt ceiling for six weeks so that the Democrats and Republicans can have time to talk about budget issues. The GOP House leadership has announced it embraces the proposal.

That's part of what Obama has insisted on all along. He's still firm: no negotiating until there's an end to both the government being shut down and to the threat of debt default.  He has successfully called the House GOP bluff on the more scary aspect of their extortion, i.e. threat of debt default.  And of course they've already shot their wad of threatening to shut down the government, for which yesterday's polls say the majority of the public blames the GOP while a whopping 72% disapprove of their tactics. There'll be a bit of this and that still to come, particularly as regards the shutdown, but it's just a clean-up battle in a war that has ended.  It's the fighting in Tennessee after Appomattox.

The result of all this is that our principle of democracy survives, i.e. majority rule, and our economy and the world's economy also survive.  That ain't small potatoes.  But there's yet another big payoff.

This equally important result is that we can kiss the Tea Party goodbye as a genuine threat in American politics and thus a threat to the whole world. At the height of their power and with their most frightening weapons in hand, the Tea Partyers in the House made their big play and didn't achieve their signature goal of destroying Obamacare.  Instead Obama has used their intransigence to destroy them.   And oddly enough  -  yea, with great mastery -   so has Boehner.  Two men in powerful positions and from the two opposing parties have not only taken the Tea Party bad boys to the woodshed.  They have finished them off, with a lot of suicidal help from the Tea Partyers themselves.  

So how was this done?

                                       Here Beginneth the Obituary of the Tea Party 

The Tea Party Republicans in the House made four fatal mistakes.

First, they grossly underestimated President Obama. They really thought he would give up the most fundamental principle of a democracy:  governance by the majority.  Thus their demand for ending the Affordable Health Care Act.

By any measure the Tea Party supporters had every opportunity to oppose the Act during its passage.  They were even allowed to bring guns to public meetings!  They even went as far as spitting on House members who were entering the Capitol to vote. They also had two elections in which to change the makeup of the majority of Congress, and in 2010 they took over the House but not the Senate.  But even if they had taken both houses, they would not have had sufficient margin to override Obama's veto of any bill ending Obamacare.  And in 2012 people reaffirmed him as president and thereby reaffirmed Obamacare.

Further, a majority of all the people have explicitly told pollsters that they don't want Obamacare repealed.  The Tea Party therefore does not represent a majority of the people on this issue.  The Tea Partyers can't get this through their heads, but President Obama never forgets it.  And as a constitutional law professor he is certainly not going to give in to the Tea Party nor establish a precedent that would end our democracy.  He is not going to open the door for future splinter groups to hold the country hostage.

The Tea Party people have not just underestimated Obama.  They have put the lie to their own hate-filled characterization of him as being weak.  This "weak" label has been part of the racist GOP effort to paint him as an incompetent and dithering black man unfit to be president.  As of now, however, the Tea Party intransigence has actually elevated him, showing him to be neither weak nor incompetent.  They gave him the opportunity to be everything they said he wasn't.

LESSON ONE: Don't ever underestimate Obama.  Just ask Hilary, whom he beat for the nomination.  And Bin Laden.  And Assad and Putin.

The second huge mistake the Tea Party made was picking a fight they could not win.  Sometimes one has to fight an uphill battle just for the sake of moral principle.  This was not one of those times.  Whatever they didn't like about Obamacare they could have worked to fix by amendment, letting time prove them right.  But they have never wanted it to work.  They want no more programs to help people.  They even want to end existing government help.  It contravenes their Ayn Rand principle of "only the strong survive" and it makes Democrats popular.  A fight to end government help for our American people is a fight the Tea Party cannot win. The New Deal is now 70 years old.  It ain't going away.  Nor is Medical nor Medicaid.  These programs and Social Security are now fundamentals of American life.  Obamacare will be too.  And, babe, that's just how it is. Thank heaven!

Thus LESSON TWO is:  Stay in touch with reality.

Their third mistake was a whopper.  In their hubris of over-reaching they turned off their own most powerful buddies and may be deserted money-wise.  What do I mean, you ask?  THEY'VE LOST THE KOCH BROTHERS!  

And they have done an even worse bad. Other of their wealthy and powerful allies are now their avowed enemies, threatening to finance conservative non-crazy candidates in next year's GOP primaries so as to unseat the present Tea Party House members.  Did you get that?   

But this third mistake is such a big deal, it has to wait for the next posting.

So does gloating over their fourth mistake:  They didn't realize that Speaker John Boehmer was leading them on to their own destruction.

Meantime, smile!  In fact, smile a lot!  Let the bells ring out! This is truly a great day.  We have been reprieved not just from a financial crisis but a constitutional crisis and a splinter party veering into nazism.  Obama has saved the day, bless him.  And the bells that ring for our reprieve are simultaneuosly ringing the death knell of the Tea Party.

They've gone where the goblins go.  Below, below.  So set 'em up, Joe.  Wait!  That's not how the song goes ....  Oh, what the hey, set 'em up anyway, Joe.  And have one yourself.

The drinks are on me!



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

2016 GOP Presidential Hopefuls To End Shutdown?

You've all heard that the House GOP doesn't care about national political victories.  Its 80+/- Tea types are supposedly so secure in their gerrymandered districts that they don't care about disgracing their party in the eyes of the nation by shutting down the government or putting us into default on the debt.  The "national GOP brand" means nothing to them.

Not entirely true.  There are some far-right conservatives in the House and Senate who do care just dreadfully about the national brand.  I'm talking about those who want to be president.

First and foremost is Rep. Paul Ryan, the guy who didn't make it as the GOP VP candidate in 2012.  Every day and every night since the election he tells himself, "Without Romney, I would have won."  (They all do that.)  He's undoubtedly going to go for top spot next time.  Meantime he's considered the arch-budget guy in the House.  As is typical of the GOP, his budget numbers don't actually add up, as you may recall from the 2012 campaign.  But what the hey, facts and numbers don't stand in the way of the GOP these days.

So here comes ol' Paul yesterday, leaping right past the supposed heads of the House GOP, i.e. John Boehner and Eric Cantor. With cool chutzpah, Paul put out his own manifesto as to what the Democrats have to do to get the government open and the debt ceiling raised.

There was nothing about Obamacare in his demands.

Nor had Boehner mentioned it on TV Sunday or yesterday when he certainly had the chance.

The Tea Party's Number One demand had suddenly disappeared like money does out of my purse.

At first one might have concluded that Boehner had simply forgotten what had been the central demand of the House GOP.  After all, he can't seem to remember what he says or what he does most of the time.  But coming from Paul Ryan, this change of topic is significant.

It marks the end of the impasse.

As I noted in an earlier posting, there had to be some Republicans in the House who understood that President Obama would never destroy his Affordable Health Care Act to meet an extortion demand from the GOP.  The Act had its beginnings when he was a boy and watched his mother on the phone arguing with the health insurance company while dying of cancer.  This scene might have been his chief motive in running for president.  He knows other people are dying because of the insurance companies' abuses. Too many of us have lost a family member this way or a close friend this way.

What Boehner signaled on Sunday and Monday and Ryan confirmed yesterday is twofold:  (1) the House GOP leadership will settle for just having some talks about the usual budget things and the entitlements and won't try to scuttle the Health Care Act,  and (2) the more grown-up of the House GOP are taking back control of the situation.  

Obama has already said he'll "even spring again for dinner" to get talks going.  But he too made two things clear yesterday:  (1) no talks, no nothing, no way while the GOP continues to "hold a gun" on the American people with the shutdown and threatened default, and (2) the GOP may not get what it wants from the talks.  He's still holding the line where he has to.  

Next comes the part where the government gets funded for a limited time and the debt ceiling gets raised for a limited time while the two sides have that "conversation" John Boehner wants so badly.  

Then he and Ryan will go back to the Tea Party people and say, "We've all tried everything to end Obamacare.  You put up a good fight. We even shut down the government.  But Obama is not going to budge and we can't let you destroy the American economy and the Republican party.  It's over, boys and girls.  Now let's have a recess. "

At least we can hope this is what's happening, right?    


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Truckers Run Amuck? Greg Otto Makes Us Smile!

You gotta love this whacky country!  Sure, maybe we're headed for a suicidal and unnecessary default on the national debt that will have effects worldwide and probably end life upon this planet as we know it.  But meantime a guy named Greg Otto has made me smile, and a bunch of whacky truckers have made me laugh out loud.

Let's start with the truckers.  On Monday or Tuesday (nobody seems sure when) some one or ten or maybe a hundred of them announced they were so angry at Obama about something or other  that "all truckers" are going to drive to Washington D.C. on Thursday in their big rigs and entirely block the Beltway and arrest Congressmen.

Yes, they are mad at Obama but intent on arresting Congressmen.  Remember, it's their story, not mine.  (My cousin was a long-haul trucker, a great guy, and he never made any sense either.)   I'm also not responsible for the vagueness of the whole thing. The only requisite who, what, where, when of their announcement that was specific was Thursday.

USA Today, Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, The Washington Post, and MSNBC's Ed Schultz jumped all over this story.  Very strange bedfellows!

But by late this afternoon three things had happened.  Someone among the angry truckers sobered up and said it wasn't true.  The national truckers association disavowed any connection with the shindig.  And a lovely man named Greg Otto at the Washington Business Journal published a piece that said the whole thing was "a fantasy" because even if it wasn't a hoax, as suspected elsewhere, it sure was logistically impossible.

Now get this.  Greg had been a busy guy with paper and pencil and his calculator.  He had figured out that it would take 6983 big rigs.  To do this he'd figured out the average length of a rig, even gone out into the field to do what reporters seldom now do, i.e. check the facts.  He'd then calculated miles per gallon and determined the astronomical cost of gas for this fleet of behemoths circling D. C. on the Beltway at 55 mph and how long it would take them.  He had it all down to the last mile and the last penny.  His conclusion:  it can't be done.

What a guy!  You all know I love figures and arithmetic, that I adored that guru of calculation: Nate Silver, the one analyst who called the 2012 election right on the bean.  (Except for North Carolina, but who cares.)  But Nate has abandoned us political fans for sports stats on ESPN.  If it weren't so sad to be abandoned by Nate, I'd be hooting about his switch from politics to sports as also being an indicator of what a wild and crazy country this is.

I love you, Greg Otto.  In the face of wacky and enraged threats you just sat down and worked the numbers.  And all the air goes out of the tires of this awful menace.  You are so cool.  Could you do something like that about John Boehner and the Tea Party threats in Congress, just reduce them to what they really are:  blithering idiots who know not whereof they speak and couldn't grasp a number if it bit them on the thumb.  Could you just take the real measure of their rig?

Somebody has got to deflate these Tea Party nut jobs to what they are.  And what they are makes the truckers look like Einstein.

Another thought:  Where is Burt Reynolds when we need him?    

Lifeline Thrown to Boehner ... and the Rest Of Us?

The last posting promised to discuss how the Tea Partyers in the House don't understand the funding of the Affordable Care Act, how they mistakenly thought that refusing to enact the federal budget would shut down the Act. But what's to discuss, other than point out what they didn't know, i.e. that the Act is self-funded. Yes, they are so uniformed they didn't realize this basic fact about a law they have been obsessed with. Even in the absence of a budget provision, Obamacare goes right along on its own funds.

An interesting question  to mull in the night is whether Speaker John Boehner bothered to try to tell them.  Or didn't he know?

So how does one do business with such ignorant and incompetent people who are pretending to be members of Congress?

No matter.  Forget Obamacare.  The GOP has.  As of today Boehner and the GOP have abandoned fighting Obamacare at least for now.  Boehner has changed the price of ending the shutdown and avoiding default on October 17.  He says that all he wants now is a "conversation" with the President about .... Well, that's not clear.  In a press conference today, as on a Sunday talk show, he never mentioned a word about Obamacare.  He just groaned on vaguely about debt and deficit stuff, maybe wanting another shot at some sort of grand bargain.

Meantime, an hour earlier, President Obama had thrown him a lifeline. Obama said be very glad to talk about anything with Boehner, provided the government is reopened and the debt ceiling raised.

 But get this! He would do such talking even if the two measures were just for a short period.  That's new!

Wow!  There's your victory, Boehner!  Grab it and dance in the end zone!  Go back to your TPs and hand out cigars and yell, "We won!  Obama has caved! He's willing to talk in exchange for just a short opening of the government and a short postponement of armageddon."

But no.  Boehner ignored this chance to save his country and the world's economic system.  Instead he went on TV and said that Obama wants "only our surrender."

Oh, boy. Those are really not the words to be using at this time. They'll just inflame to further stubbornness in all those testosterone Tea Party guys.

The first rule is:  NEVER overtly make it about winning and losing.  And NEVER mention "surrender".  The second rule is: give the other guy a hook to hang his hat on.

Obama gave Boehner a way out of this confrontation, just as he let Kerry's supposed "stumble" give Putin a way to take over the Syrian chemicals.  You gotta help the other guy find his way to where you want him.

But Boehner batted away his chance to save his face and our you-know-what.  He just spat on the life line Obama threw him and thereby denied rescue to the rest of us who will drown in his stupidity.  All over the world there will be great economic suffering if Boehner doesn't get off this steroid-driven, win-lose thing.

Nine days to go.  You better have a plan of your own, John Boehner, because Obama may not try again.

And next time you and the TPartyers pull a stunt about the Affordable Health Care Act or any other law that annoys you, please first read the law you're attacking to see if you have a hen's chance in hell of winning through your tactics.  Because all that you've done these weeks was wasted and stupidly destructive.



Monday, October 7, 2013

"Help!", Cries GOP Leader Who Is Blind and Has No Fingers

He's a pathetic figure, a man who is blind and also cannot count.  And now he's getting scared.

Pathetic as he is, yet he controls one-third of our government and virtually all of its funding.  On his own he has shut down the government of the most important country in the world by not exerting his power to stop the shutdown.  On his own he could end the shutdown in a few minutes.  Further  -  and even more frightening  -  on his own he can put the nation into default on October 17 by failing to act to get the debt ceiling raised.  Because this default would virtually destroy the world's economy, he is the world's most powerful man, with a weapon at his disposal as powerful as a nuclear arsenal.  And, like I said, he's scared.  He knows who will get the blame.  

This blind leader who has lost all his fingers and cannot count is, of course, John Boehner, Speaker of the House, who seems also to have lost the ability to think or to remember.  On the surface it even looks likes he's lost his mind.  But don't be fooled.

Yesterday he claimed on a Sunday talk show that there are not enough Republican votes in the House to join with the Democrats and pass a budget bill that will reopen the government without extorting holes in Obamacare.  He says the same regarding a vote to raise the debt ceiling and thus avoid the default that would be financial armageddon for the world.

That's nuts.  Is Boehner nuts?

Do the counting. The Democrats are only 17 votes shy of a majority in the House.  There are a at least that number of Republican representatives wondering about next year's election or  -  we have to believe  -   worrying about the future of this country and the economy of the world.  Thus no one can convince me that there are not 17 Republicans willing to end the shutdown even without extracting a big hole in Obamacare.  There are certainly that many, and maybe a couple dozen more, who know Obama won't give up the major health care law which was probably his main reason for running for president.  As a child, he had seen his mother arguing on the phone with an insurance company as she lay dying of cancer.  You really think he's going to turn his back on that and let Obamacare be destroyed?

Do you really believe there aren't at least 17 Republicans who recognize Obama is not going to give in to the extortionary demands of the Tea Party Republicans?  Who don't recognize that the GOP  is currently on a suicide mission and could lose control of the House next year because of public disgust with their nonsense?

Rep. Peter King, Republican of New York, all but calls Boehner a liar:  "I'm positive that a clean CR (the budget bill) would pass," he said Sunday.  If Peter King says he's "positive" about such a matter in the context of defying his party leader, you can bet the farm that he is indeed positive.  And at the price of a very bad pun, let me note that King is an old Congressional hand who still has his fingers to count on even if Boehmer doesn't.  King says the votes are there, thus they are there.

Obama also knows Boehner is dissembling. Today he challenged Boehner to put the budget to a vote, saying that he is convinced the Republican votes are there.  Obama is a poker player of repute.  (Remember how he just played Putin and Assad?)  He's "calling" Boehner because he knows Boehner  is just bluffing.

Please note also that Speaker Boehner changed the focus on Sunday of what he is seemingly concerned about.  He's gone from pretending to be ideological in this matter and is now saying that he is stuck where he is because of logistics.  "It's not my fault!  I don't have the votes!"

It may be that Boehner has thus found a way out of being single-handedly responsible for denying us our government and subsequently destroying the world economy.  Maybe he is saying something so patently untrue as a signal to those GOP who would vote for the measure.  Is he cueing them to step up and join King in identifying themselves and making a show of "assuring" the Speaker that the votes he needs are there?  It's a charade, of course, that  he doesn't already know who they are.  But if it's a cover that gets him out of the corner, that's okay.

This scramble on his part to say "it isn't going to be my fault" comes now as commentators are beginning to say what I said here almost three weeks ago. (See "GOP To Launch Another 9/11?") Today's NY Times front page speaks of worldwide economic collapse following a USA default.  Yeah?  And check our Maureen Dowd's hysteria today. Hey, where you Times guys been?  

Whatever works, John.  Just get it done before October 17.

And in what way is Boehner blind, you ask?  He and his TP cohort didn't read the funding provisions of Obamacare.  Shutting down the government could not stop the funding flow to the health care act, as at least some of them seemingly thought. They simply didn't know what they were doing.  But more of that next time.  Just let it be said that one would expect those who propose to make laws have the good sense and ability to read the ones that already exist.  Including the one that they are obsessed with.      

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Surprise? Both the Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Crises Are Over ?


It's all over but the shouting.

As of today (Saturday) it looks like both the government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling battle are resolved.  Not officially but in actuality.  All the pieces are now in place indicating that the Republicans in due course are going to pack up  and creep off the field of battle without a damn thing to show for all their carrying on.

Here's how it seems to be unfolding now and will likely unfold over the next two weeks:

Step One:  As reported a couple of days ago in the major media, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has assured business-type Republicans that he will not let the nation go into default.  He won't let the House refuse to raise the debt ceiling on October 17.

Step Two:  Just yesterday Speaker Boehner said very quietly and to a precious few, "It's better to get shot with one bullet than with two".  Although he indeed said this very quietly and to just a precious few, you can be certain he knew one of those few would blab what he'd said.  And of course the two bullets he mentioned are the shutdown and the threatened refusal of the House to raise the debt ceiling.

Step Three:  Putting Steps One and Two together we can see that Boehner is going to do unto the shutdown what he's going to do to the debt ceiling threat.  Kill them both, and take the fall for both at once.  (If you can kill bullets.  His metaphors and mine don't mix very well.)

Step Four:  Turning two bullets into one, as Boehner wisely intends, means he has to wrap the two together so that ending the shutdown also completely wipes out the debt ceiling threat.  Exactly how he is going to do this isn't clear yet.  In fact, maybe it's not clear yet to Boehner.  But where there's a will, there's a way.  The end move is easy.  All he has to do is put each matter in turn on the floor for a vote, which will pass with the combined votes of the Democrats and of the less-cuckoo of the Republicans.  How he gets to this point with a shred of dignity is his problem, but that's where he's now going.  It will be fun to watch.

Because of the foregoing, President Obama was able to say with confidence this weekend that everything is going to be okay.  He's right.  Boehner and his unruly crowd have to cave.  At least Boehner does.

And why is this true?  Just before Boehner "leaked" the two-bullets slogan, the press announced that 72% of Americans  -  yeah, man, that's 72%!  -  oppose the shutdown for the purpose of defunding Obamacare.  And the day before that story broke, the NY Times and other media finally said what I  said a week earlier:  the media had been misreadng a prior poll and been wrongly reporting that most Americans oppose Obamacare when this is definitely not what the poll showed.  And the next news item?  Almost 10% more Americans blame the GOP in Congress for the shutdown than blame the Democrats.

Those three whacking great blows resulted in Boehner being handed his head on a platter and realizing it.

But you ain't heard nothin' yet.  As a capper this week, the press reported Americans approval of the  GOP in Congress has dropped to an all-time low of 10%!  That became the parsley in Boehner's mouth as his head reposed on the platter.

Yup, Boehner has got to fix the situation.  He's only 17 seats away from losing his majority in 2014 and thus losing his speakership.

Step Five:  So, you ask, when will Boehner actually allow the budget to go to the House floor to permit the Democrats and the somewhat  sane GOP members to end the shutdown?  Probably somewhat closer to October 17.  Oddly enough, it's better for the country if the shutdown goes on a while longer  -  though decidedly more unpleasant and even cruel for some of our citizens.  Remember that worse than the shutdown is the default that would happen if the debt ceiling isn't raised by October 17.   Boehner has got to be sure that when he ends the shutdown he has in effect also ensured the debt ceiling will be raised on time.  It's got to be a dual deal.  This means in part that he has to be sure the demon Teapotters don't have a chance to rally from the ashes of the failed shutdown with enough time to block the debt ceiling.

Therefore, the shutdown may grind on for another week, give or take a couple of days.  Of course, the longer it goes on, the more damage to the GOP.  And that is just.  The GOP deserves to pay for all the hardship the Tea Partyers have caused.  And for the arrogance of their position!  Depriving infants of food!  Closing down the Grand Canyon.

But, it's over now, you GOP boys. And girls. ( Let us not forget Michele Bachmann, much as we would like to.)  You GOP Tea folks forced Boehner to drive to the edge of the cliff and start throwing over the babies and veterans and sweet, innocent park rangers.  But you are not going to get him to go over the cliff.  Not ol' John Boehner!  Because he's in that car and so is the debt ceiling and the world economy and  -  above all else -  his majority and his speakership.

President Obama's hard stance has brought the House GOP to a deadend. Quite correctly he will not "negotiate" when the Teapotters are actually engaged in extortion, i .e. not trying to swap this for that but saying it will only do what it should do anyway if you will let it have its way.  Bosh!  That's not negotiation.

Boehner and his bunch are like mobsters selling "protection".  Remember Monty Python: "You wouldn't want something to happen to those nice tanks of yours, would you, Colonel?"  The Colonel shouldn't have to pay for his tanks being safe from mobsters, and we shouldn't have to give up Obamacare just to keep the government running that we are entitled to anyway.

If Obama had given in on one teensy thing so far, Boehner would not now be headless on the Washington Mall.  And we would still face the specter of a debt ceiling crisis because Obama would have let the Tea P's extortion succeed.  But he didn't.  Good for you, Obama!  Let's hope you can keep it up.

Does the media and the public get what's going on?  Apparently not.  Most commentators and a lot of the public blame not just the GOP but Obama or Reid or "the Democrats" or "both sides" for "not negotiating".  They just don't understand anything, do they?

And by the way, how exactly does anyone "shut down" the Grand Canyon?  It's an awfully big hole.          


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Sad Ballad of Headless Howard and How Rahm Emanuel Shut Down the Government !

Let's act like grown-ups, okay?  Let's put the blame where it belongs.

Certainly the current debacle in D.C. is largely the GOP being bad guys, but that's not all of it.  Nor is it the Democrats being stubborn. That's none of it.  Let's admit that the whole story  -  the sequester, the present shut-down, and the looming default on the debt  -   all began in 2010.    

In 2010 a lot of Democrats sat home and didn't vote.  So the blame is partly on them. They not only failed to vote and thus allowed the GOP to grab the House of Representatives but also allowed the Republicans to capture one state government after another, even in so traditionally a Democratic state as Wisconsin.

The result?  Since state legislatures do redistricting, the GOP in all those state capitals used the 2010 census to redistrict a Democratic House out of existence for the next decade.  Further, it constructed the GOP districts so that any wild-eyed conservative GOP candidate can beat any more moderate Republican.  Thus it gave a lock on 80 seats to Tea Party candidates, enough to hold the House captive to the kooks and to terrify Speaker John Boehner into wet noodleness.

Therefore it isn't a "growing divisiveness in American society" that has us in today's deadlock, as some so-called experts claim.  Nor does it really have anything to do with the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United or the Koch brothers dumping money into GOP campaigns, much as Democrats love to blame these for all their woes.

The responsibility for today's mess rests somewhat on the lazy Democrats who didn't vote but mainly on the shoulders of one man:  Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago but until 2011 Obama's big guy in the White House.  When Obama picked Rahm to be his chief of staff, Rahm demanded one thing:  the head of Howard Dean on a plate.

In case you've forgotten Howard Dean (and you shouldn't have), let me joyfully remind you of what you may never have realized:  Dean was largely responsible for the Democrats' magnificent Congressional wins in 2006 and the setting of the stage for Obama's win in 2008.  As head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), he organized the hell out of the Democratic party state-by-state, a first in the long-time memory of this ancient writer.  Then he went candidate-hunting himself instead of leaving that job to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which is an inept and wasteful piece of Democratic baggage.  He also gave support to Democratic candidates in districts that had never before received national party help.

But - oh,oh!  Rahm Emanuel was chair of the DCCC.  Rahm did not like it that Howard Dean of the DNC was messing on his DCCC preserve.  Like it says in "The Cat In The Hat": he did not like it, not one little bit.  So he took Dean to lunch, dumped a salad on Dean's head, and inquired a la Chicago, "You *!#+^,  don't you know the difference between DCCC and DNC?  Wassa matter with you?  I got three times as many Cs in my group's name.  The word Congress starts with a C.  Get it, dummy!?  I control the Democratic campaigning for the House!  Not you!  Keep your hands off!"

Quietly picking lettuce out of his hair, like a good Vermonter Dean went back to doing exactly as he had been doing.  He did it well. Better than Emanuel or anyone else had ever done it. The result in 2006 was a crowning victory for Dean, replacing the lettuce on his head with a ring of glory.  But he had signed his own death warrant.  No one crosses Rahm and lives.  That's Chicago politics.  I know.  I grew up in it.  It was the family business.

Once in the White House, Rahm took his revenge on Dean. With Headless Howard gone from the DNC, a pudding of a person named Tim Kaine was named the head (no punning here) of DNC by Obama, still in thrall to Rahm. At the same time the Democratic Party in the House, i.e. Nancy Pelosi, slipped back into the slipshod, don't give-a-damn ineffective "campaigning" that resulted in the 2010 failure of the Democrats to hold the House and the loss of so many state governments.  (In fairness, I note that Obama's campaign apparatus was likewise missing in action in 2010.)

The weird part of all this is that the redistricting after the 2010 should have been a Democratic lark in the park.  The census would have shown the terrific increase in Latino voters, a wonderful possibility of increased numbers of Democratic voters and more Democratic districts.  But because no one had organized the Democrats to get registered and vote in 2010, the lark in the park became a walk in the rain.

Why, you ask, do Democratic voters need some pushy organization to make them register and vote?

Oh, honey, why is a frog a frog?  It's just how things are and always have been.  And I'll explain that one another time.  I mean the Democrats, not the frogs.  No one can explain frogs.

Meantime, don't you think Rahm Emanuel looks a lot like the Cat In The Hat?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Media Shut Down the Government !

Remember Karl Rove running around on election night last year, refusing to accept Fox giving Obama a win in Ohio?  That was fun, wasn't it?

But the same thing that caused Rove's election night nutsiness is causing the current government shutdown. It's the GOP's stubborn ignorance of polls. And this GOP ignorance is largely created and stoked by the media's even deeper ignorance of polls.  And that's a root cause of our government being shut down.

I'll not get into the weeds about the polling for 2012 except to say that Pew Research had it right and pollsters like Rasmussen and Gallup had it wrong.  Nate Silver of the NY Times had it right in his famed analysis because he did what any news organization and the GOP could have done:  First figure out which pollsters do a good job, such as adjusting for the cellphone age (Gallup, etc. didn't), and then principally rely on the competent pollsters, the best being Pew Research.

Alternatively, the media and GOP could have been really lazy and just relied on Nate Silver.  He's so good at analyzing data that major league baseball bought into his findings about which stats actually indicate a player's monetary value.

But neither the GOP nor the media even tried to be correct in 2012.  (See below for two notable  exceptions.)  Instead they believed what they wanted to believe.  That's also what's going on now.

The media wanted to believe 2012 was a "close" race because a seemingly tight race would build viewer/reader interest.  The GOP wanted to believe it was winning because it had to be winning, didn't it?  It had spent tons more money than the Democrats.  The economy was still very squishy.  The GOP are the anointed of God (so they believe).  Obama is an African American and America is a racist country.  As it turned out none of the foregoing determined the outcome.  But throughout the election campaign, the media and the GOP studiously ignored what was really going on.

They are doing the same thing now.  Armored by the belief that "a majority" of Americans want Obamacare repealed, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and their merry band of maniacs, are shutting down the fed government as a way of getting Obamacare killed.  They genuinely believe that Americans are with them in hating Obamacare and wanting it dead.  They are therefore willing to risk that the shutdown will kill their own party's prospects for taking the Senate in 2014 and keeping control of the House.  "We know we are right," says House Speaker John Boehner.

Well, they are not right.  Nor is the press, which has been reporting heavily for a couple of weeks that a majority of Americans don't like the new health care act.  During these crucial weeks the press has, however, been telling a half-lie.  Yes, a majority "aren't happy" with the new law.  That part of the media reporting may be true.  But within that majority are the 16% of the people who are unhappy because they don't think the law goes far enough.  They don't want it dead, Senator Cruz!  They actually want more of it !  They want more government involvement!

The rest is arithmetic.  Take away the 16% from the supposed majority and the number wanting to kill the health care act drops to 35%.  But the media and Senator Cruz and Michele Bachmann didn't notice that though at least one major media outlet mentioned the 16% in the poll's findings.

Only now in fact  -  the first morning of the shutdown  -  do Politico,  Forbes, Huff Post and others confirm what I have just asserted, with their top stories being that only one-third of Americans want to abolish the health care act.  Why the switcharoo on the part of the media? Because a new poll just came out yesterday that had rephrased the question.  Instead of asking "Are you happy with the new health care act?",  it asked "Do you want the new health care act repealed?"  Only one-third said yes.

Ask the right question if you want a meaningful answer.

But we can't entirely blame the earlier pollster who asked the wrong question.  After all, that pollster did acknowledge that 16% were unhappy because they wanted more government involvement.  It's really the media that's to blame.  With the exception of Lawrence O'Donnell on "The Last Word", the media paid no attention to the 16% part of the poll.  Thus the GOP was free to believe its nonsense about "the majority" and run around yelling about it so the press could publish the GOP's false claim and amplify the error.

Maybe the media planned it this way.  Misrepresent the polling by not fully disclosing the results, thereby encourage the GOP in being stupid, thereby get a shutdown  of government, thereby have a "good story" and more viewers and more readers.

But no.  The media couldn't plan its way out of a paper bag.  It has only one planning mode:  make up a scenario and stay with it.  E.g. Obama can't beat "the Clinton machine" for the '08 Democratic nomination.  Obama can't win because of the "Bradley effect" of people lying to pollsters to appear open-minded and then secretly voting their racism.  On and on until this latest fiction: the majority want to end the new health law. The media spends more time manufacturing blue smoke than it would take to get out there and find some truth.


Accept that fact, you stupid and stubborn right-wingers and lazy media!

As Fats Waller would say, "One do get weary."

And the two commentators who really tried to be accurate in the 2012 election and relied on Pew Research and Nate Silver?  Well, that's your old pals, me and Lawrence O'Donnell.   The result was that we were the only two commentators who said unequivocally that Obama was going to win.

That and $1.50 will get you a great cup of coffee here in my new little Oregon hometown.