Monday, November 30, 2009

Morning TMZ

The Morning Joe Rebuttal For November 30th, 2009


1) Joe Scarborough takes a courageous stand about not wanting the content of his show to be weighted towards Tiger Woods coverage, yet he is outvoted by producers citing the number of world leaders and CEO’s who watch his show and the fact that they expect him to cover it as a matter of necessity? If I took any part of that self serving failure wrong, please correct me, but that is a level of lousy typically reserved for other people, and your viewers are left 3 hours later screaming: SCOREBOARD.

I’m going to lump the White House crashers in with this. Afghanistan, the Jobs Summit, Palin polling at the top of Republican presidential lists, and the purity test have just lost out to the first time in the history of the show that Willie Geist could’ve anchored. Apologies to WG, but we never mention him for a reason. We’re in it for substance, and rather than waste anyone’s time, we can leave the “features” part of the show to others. Old Mika would’ve never let this happen, but passiveness here is the equivalent of job security run amok.

2) Trading tax gets brought up as an opening line in a roundtable featuring the shows cast, Jim Cramer, and Donny Deutsch and yet again the main point of it all might as well be wearing camouflage clothing. A trading tax is a misguided idea trying to find revenue in a lynch mob sort’ve way. It unfortunately is fatally flawed in that it’s too easy to kill for its misguided-ness, and it turns a blind eye to known economic principle. To hear Joe Scarborough go at it in another attempt to shore up his all tax is bad platform was unoffendingly predictable, but to hear Jim Cramer say it’s worse than actually doing something, and Donny Deutsch explain away the idotic optics is unforgivable.

Please have an economist at the table when you talk about these matters so that the bottom line doesn’t get boiled down to what tax will be cute enough to pass. I at first thought I heard this referred to as a “traitor tax” and boy, that is actually the idea to solve it all at once, and you guys accidentally dithered upon it. Lets leave capitol gains taxes exactly where they are, or better yet lower them, depending on the value of the investment towards the lowering of domestic unemployment, the amount of domestic corporate tax value of the company in question, or any version of value to true domestic national product. That’s right, anti-NAFTA, protectionist taxation at the capital gains level. If you are going to move money around to profit speculatively in a way that either benefits a competing nations economy or creates inefficiency in the market for commodities, lets tax it at the top US Income tax scale, because it’s the government that will have to correct the negative effect of your investment, and
they need the money. Goldman Sachs would owe more than their bonuses in that scenario.

3) Donny Deutsch played the race card. It’s not clear to me if Lou Dobbs deserved it or not, but Lou doesn’t like migrant workers I’m told. I do know this, this column is late today as I was driving the 8 freeway from Phoenix to San Diego all day. At points you could see the new border fence just feet from the freeway. It runs continuously across the entire state of California. We have had it pretty good up here. I’ve had a supposed “Lib” or two say that no matter what ideological position I may have adopted, the southern border needs control or it would be the end to the way of life that Southern Californians and Arizonans have enjoyed for many years. Get to the right ideologically, in the purity test crowd, and it’s a far more disturbing version of what needs to be done for the sake of national safety, as exemplified by the forced construction of this fence.

I don’t buy it. It feels so much like South Africa driving that road, that it has an air of natural unsustainability. The fence may be a most modern technology, but it still boils down to me stopping the car inside the US so that a US Agent can inspect the car and “assume we are all US Citizens”, and if Lou Dobbs is racist, so is that misguided interdiction. I love the people of Mexico and have less animosity for many of those citizens than for many north of the border. Tear down that wall. Make a negative a positive. Take money from coyotes and put it towards a prepayment for a work visa that pays a migrant workers taxes and social payments like our new national health care and make it open to anybody who is not a terrorist. Don’t let anyone tell you that pushing migrant workers into the shadows further is good for America, it’s a kick the can down the road endless shell game that trades humiliation for personal political gain.

Donnie was abandoned by the show on the subject as everyone ducked and quickly moved on, so I had the debate for you.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scarborough Tries The Old Ball O’String Trick

The Morning Joe Rebuttal For November 25th, 2009


1) Now look, any day that John Boehner looks bad is a good day for the truth. This person is the minority leader of the House of Representatives. They are currently in charge of obstruction of progress for the American people and have spent the last 2 years and 11 months trying to harm America, sell doublespeak as fact, and reinforce the movement of the distribution of wealth in our country forever northward.

But that’s not what Joe Scarborough intended when golf-gate was the main story today. It is that technique of using what amounts to a benign occurrence with very bad optics to appear to be closer to the middle, only to use that regained false credibility to attack a far more substantive matter: health care, jobs, Afghanistan, take your pick.

It’s what your older brother did to you in the back of the car on family trips to steal your ice cream sandwich, look {Morning Joe Viewer} there’s the worlds biggest ball of string, then BAM!, when your head’s turned your ice cream was gone!

Don’t let them get away with it. The best defense is to blithely play along, let the damage to Boehner be maximized, and then refute the first attempt by JS to use that momentum for any “see, I’m on your side” munitions. That’s called the engineered backfire technique and I know you’re up to it.

2) Speaking of doublespeak, I have an antidote for you, and his name is Dr. Howard Dean. If you had to trust any one person with your future, you have chosen Barack Obama, but if you ever wavered, ever wondered why so many Goldman guys are in power, why guys who are going to vote no anyway got to shelve anti-trust provisions for health care, why the American people are still in last place in the domestic food chain, who should you pick next? John Boehner and let commerce govern you for another eternity, or Howard Dean, the one guy on the planet left who didn’t have to be a billionaire already to tell you the truth and really govern.

Dr. Dean is like that guy on Fast Times At Ridgemont High who is “just flown in for games”. The reason he doesn’t have a gig right now, after managing the resurrection of the Democratic party culminating in the first sweeping majority in 35 years, is that he is the party’s designated hitter and free to attack whatever trouble spot exists while the party’s in power.

Dr. Dean has a position on health care and it’s the one that will serve as kryptonite to the right if needed. He will be the person who will be the face of reconciliation if that’s what it takes to put a bill through the Senate either pre- or post-conference containing real teeth. He is Harry Reid’s best friend in the world right now, and if you had a hellfire missile like him with a clumsy crusading army of obstructionist approaching, you would like your chances.

3) Independent voters the world over have a single motivating force: they know that both parties are forced to mislead them due to the structural engineering of their platform. If you don’t have 8 of 10 items right on your Republican checklist, guess what, you’re now an independent. If you didn’t want to reverse the annexation of the Panama Canal, ditto. This prevalence of managed messages and agenda talking points bundle stuff you need from either side and forces you to embrace or exile. Exile is where the overwhelming majority of Americans are today, and it’s a new kind of paradise in formation.

The Democrats know this and they are comforted going forward by showing the infighting that’s going on as healthy, hoping that independent voters will come back once they look at the Republican party and see the checklist. The checklist is absolute suicide, and lets hope it’s here to stay. John Boehner reading that checklist and looking like the principal in Breakfast Club, trying to represent the future? I must be dreaming.

John Hughes was a generational treasure.

Have a great Thanksgiving, see you Monday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Poker Face Mr. Scarborough, For They Refer To You By Proxy

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 24th, 2009


1) With all the talk of Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, there was that familiar discomfort evident on the set today with the unknown political aspirations of Joe Scarborough looming sidestage like a two-ton Frappacino-sucking wildebeest.

Sure a couple of nervous jokes and insinuations place JS in the heap of “talk show host turned candidate”, but none would ask for clarity, as if it was in the pre-show stipulations to leave him out of it.

You don’t owe anyone anything, until you consider that any opinion you render must walk a line between non-hypocritical journalistic endeavors and service to an increasingly intolerant platform of the only party out there waiting for you with open arms. Tough spot, chin up.

2) Mark Halperin has gotten pesky, and that’s a good thing. Halperin as Lawrence O’Donnell did yesterday, is really starting to reinforce the recent platform updates on deficit vs. jobs and Afghanistan vs. deficit vs. jobs. There had in the past on this show been a tendency towards recidivism where a debunked theory like jobs without deficit spending had come back to the fore as a recognized strategic option.

John Halperin, joined by Andrew Ross Sorkin, seemed to be aligned to prevent the reduction of an important advance in the shows recognition that the show can’t complain about jobs without finding an acceptable deficit expanding stimulus program to effect necessary change. Just in the past couple of weeks has this new version of checks and balances seemed to feel to the average subscriber like, well, evolution.

3) It felt like another missed opportunity when The Nations Jeremy Scahill came on to talk about Blackhawk, but the subscriber was reminded that that MJ never got around to covering the DOD direct payments to the Taliban.

That hasn’t stopped Joe Scarborough from defining his Afghanistan position of no matter what the other complexities on the ground, the decision is 2-3 years to clean up and that’s it. I love this position, but I find it easy to predict the Dick Cheney avalanche of criticism that will ensue as a result, and I wonder if JS will ever challenge the Cheney clan on a point-counterpoint basis, leaving President Obama out of the discussion. That would be good television, but Liz Cheney is the second scariest female in Joe Scarborough’s life next to Hillary Clinton, so a fair amount of skepticism must be present at all times that JS would avoid confrontation with a party elder or his proxy.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Trigger Is Joe Scarborough's Latest Dog Whistle

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 23rd, 2009


1) Imagine the horror amongst subscribers to have JS and Lawrence O’Donnell giving each other credit for “having it right” for the last several months. The revisionist history that it takes to convince one’s self that your frequent projection of failures have not time and time again been countered by the forward marching of health care have made you officially in denial.

Obviously I’m on Lawrence’s side on political matters, but he has the air of a gatekeeper, of a doorman at the Mondrian that tells you that even though you’re a democrat your expectations of success are naïve. It’s apparently empowering as he lines up false failures and explains away the extremely tough but seemingly routine procedural success we’re witnessing.

The latest in “having it right” from Joe Scarborough is that this series of events lines up for the use of the trigger version of the public option. It takes a village of people willing to vote yes on a thing to get a thing, and because JS is aligned with the 39 no votes, a viewer is forced to assume this is the latest in a long line of soon to be debunked wishful thinkings. But like only dogs hear a dog whistle, only Joe Scarborough is convinced that he is predicting the future, and will be revising his historical stance sometime soon to claim he was right about this wrong as well.

2) Thankfully , there was a wide range of guests today and you can point two things out that make the message coming out of the show very well rounded. Joe Conason described the trigger as a way of not providing a public option at all and stated that history shows no trigger has ever, well, triggered in our nation’s history.

That scenario I was asking for last Thursday with Lawrence and one other realist on a panel found the result I had anticipated, albeit on a different front. The spending is out of control and we need to focus on jobs conundrums were reconciled as a “false choice” by Lawrence and Andrew Ross Sorkin. Just to be clear, ARS asked Joe Scarborough for his plan on jobs {thank you!} and it was all about public works, ARS reconciled immediately that that was stimulus and that Joe had to back off of an anti Stimulus position if he wanted public works, and furthered that stimulus is a requirement of a jobs initiative, but because that would require a deficit expenditure, it was a false choice for the shows platform to try and have it both ways. Music to my ears.

If we had made a tourism friendly transit system in Los Angeles a priority with some portion of the stimulus money and stopped greeting European and Japanese tourists with bus maps and dangerous layovers out in the open at Slauson and La Brea, you might argue that you fixed two problems with jobs and revenue in Southern California that will never be able to be fixed at the state or local level. That’s a reconciled stimulus opportunity and I’m sure it exists in all 50 states.

3) Mike Barnicle continues to be confused. How can the oldest soul on the show wake up and suddenly cry foul at an earmark for vote scenario? What have you been covering all of your life, the Philippines? I love the Will Rogers populist take that Mike brings to things, but beyond some point it only accomplishes the preaching of discontent and uncertainty. Guest after guest described the Louisiana earmark scenario as having been played out since the 1920’s as a method for getting a tough bill done. What I wish I would have heard from Mike is the “A-ha” of just why Joe Lieberman is running around with his hat out. But, they’re friends so I guess Joe gets a pass.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Congratulations On A Wonderful First Step In New Orleans

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 20th, 2009

It’s important in this world to recognize achievement where it exists and not try and make political hay out of it.

There is no rebuttal today in light of the great work done by the Morning Joe staff in delivering on behalf of the citizens of New Orleans.

Congratulations goes to them and you can donate to their cause at Joe.Msnbc.Com

Have a nice weekend, and see you Monday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Joe Scarborough "We Can Do Health Care Reform Any Time We Want"

Joe Scarborough Takes A Stand: Kill Health Care To Save Our Budget And Jobs Because We Will Have Another Chance At Reform In The Near Future!

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 19th, 2009

This is not news. But this is the single biggest reason I started this project. The quote “You don’t do health care when unemployment is 10% you wait until unemployment is handled then you revisit health care then”

This is the biggest shell game a person could ever attempt, and I am begging Joe Scarborough to limit myopic distortions of the real world from his game.

Why do you think smart people don’t understand that the phenomenon of a congress and president coming into simultaneous unified power is a unique momentum opportunity that occurs every 35 years at best?

Why do you deny reality that any delay in the health care vote is a death sentence to the prospects of it’s passage in our lifetimes.

Why do you allude to this denial-based version of events as a rational choice?

Is this why you rarely take a stand? Because when you do it’s so easy to see that you’re playing to the kick the can down the road crowd? Playing to the crowd that’s afloat in health care lobby money? This is the antithesis of what you want people to believe about you, that you’re a populist.

This is dishonest, and it has your name on it. You’ve said this repeatedly, and no one on the show ever calls you out for how unique this situation is.

Here’s what you’re going to need to do to correct this: any pairing of Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Matthews, Mark Haynes, Dr. Howard Dean, and your choice of any non-congressional right center ally that you can find all in a round table and you make the case that a second opportunity at health care reform, after this next 6 months, exists. Just that. No yes or no on health care, just you defending your blatantly false rationale that there is ubiquitous opportunity to reform health care.

Otherwise you need to find a more credible stand, because a false choice has caught up with you today.

Have a nice day, see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 18th, 2009

1) Dan Abrams and Mort Zuckerman had a wonderful, insightful, and passionate debate about the KSM trial on Morning Joe today. It begs the question: would it have been better or worse if Joe Scarborough hadn't disappeared from the set? Further, is it a fair prediction to think that Dan Abrams best moments in that debate came late, and late would not had happened if JS had done the "shouting down" thing?

Not that I'm the official position of the center left, but this debate left a chief center-left precept on the debate, world optics, out as well.

Look what got accomplished. I really hope that is a teaching moment for the Morning Joe debate and that it grows in looking for veritable conclusion late in an argument. Abbreviation is an attempt at ownership of an issue, not rectitude.

2) Nancy Snyderman had her own version of that same debate scenario when Joe Scarborough was there, and argued with her while concluding the same thing. He was trying to force her into a corner with a rationing claim, and was completely disarmed when she agreed with him. Only politicians are afraid of label words, doctors and scientists are immune to that compartmentalizing process and look where it took the debate.

Joe really wants to paint the Mammography debate with politics, and visually you can see he is struggling with how. You are struggling because it’s a real life circumstance and your heart isn’t letting you. You’re being careful not to be misguided early and have to explain bad initial reaction later.

One thing that is understated after two days of Mammography debate is the emotional and literal scar of the false positive. You can carry on about 1 in 1900 all you want, but you had better add in the number of false positives in that 1900 before you take a step further. Many people feel like even stepping into a hospital is the beginning of the end, and that false positive and over testing in general are very negative, avoidable phenomenon. You have an obligation to be sensitive to that segment of health care consumers when framing this debate.

3) Another thing missed on this show was the re-emergance of the reconciliation option for passage of the senate health care bill. Chuck Todd got the timeline reconfirmation today not from one of the senators I obliged yesterday, but from the president himself. Every day from now until signing (or not), Joe Scarborough will imply March for a final health care vote or failure of the bill, and the White House or the Senate will make a correcting statement. They won’t let it go, they can’t.

It’s interesting that with all the firepower in the discussion today, that reconciliation got picked up elsewhere. It would be a prudent question to set to the Politico staff. Along with Bill Nelson trying to remove anti-trust provisions, along with the emergence of the single largest lobbying expenditure of our lifetimes. The democrats are preparing for scorched earth in December. The timing of a jobs summit and a “we have to move on” rationale are there, and if reconciliation gets that done and prevents the last 5 votes from Nelson-ing or Stupak-ing or Bribe-ing the outcome, the center left is ready, because none of those concepts rest in the center.

4) When you get Ed Rendell on your show, you have to ask him why he can’t bring the Unions onto his side of the health care debate. He is Mr. Union. You could’ve asked him about reconciliation too, if it had been on the table.

5) If you bonus 30 billion dollars but give 500 million dollars to a small business support program that looks like charity, aren’t you just saying the same pre-Bastille math another way: we in the financial sector are worth 60 times the value of the little people? Goldman to the masses: "here’s some cake".

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Morning Sybil

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 17th, 2009


1) A show that got so much right today gave an equal amount back at every turn. You got your hopes up every time Mika would try and make the other news of the day: China, Iran, PPI, Health Care & Mammograms, pre-eminent. It just could not sustain any momentum. The day was deeded to Sarah Palin from the outset. Smart people would have to concede today, and credit today's show for its engagement on the other topics in order to remain optimistic. There was ample coverage of the Mammogram story, and some fair attempts at other issues considering the day’s white noise level.

2) The dichotomy of the earlier discussion involving Jim Vandehei and Joe Scarborough versus the Senator Sharrod Brown interview can’t be stressed enough. Mr. Scarborough isn’t trying to predict the future as a public service. Time spent on this show talking about March and health care is an agenda serving projection. This reminds one of the Lawrence and Joe discussion on the death of the public option in the same 24 hours that Harry Reid came out with the statement that the senate bill will include one. Sen. Brown reiterated Christmas bill passage and hopefully between 55 and 60 senators will rotate on the show daily to correct the record lest they allow a host’s Hannity-esque wishful thinking be construed as an accurate or responsible prognostication.

Smart people are ready to say there’s almost a contrarian indicator forming here. That is, JS says it will be so, there’s your indicator to make your announcement to the contrary. I’m not by default admonishing the JS version of events as unrealistic given the headwinds faced, but just identifying it as part of an agenda to move the kill health care reform message forward.

3) The selection of guests today, Gail Brown included, was probably the most credible assembly the show could have hoped for to avoid being seen as part of the Going Rogue launch event. Mother Jones doesn’t have a regular seat at this table, so it must be construed that either you put a left reaction in place or just have a signing party yourself.

4) I feel like the MJ consensus is evolving on the KSM trial and moving towards support. The important point here is you can’t close Guantanamo Bay until you start these trials, and you should start at the top. The #1 issue in terms of persons outside of the US concerning this president is Gitmo’s closing. The effect of three solid steps towards it: selecting a site in Illinois that wants it and defeats not in my backyard extremism, the firing of the US General Counsel as a continued statement of a higher level of accountability, and the KSM trial selection all seemed orchestrated to say this is not another agenda item back burner-ed or paralyzed by jobs, the economy or the health care debate.

5) 17% of GDP goes to health care in the United States. France, 11% , Canada, 10%, and the UK 8.2%. This is not an indictment of the health insurance business. This is an indictment of our government, and especially those on the right who are lying to you with the "we can’t afford" it nonsense. If we tax at 18% and spend at 20% wouldn’t it make sense to use health care as a correcting path and reject any notion claiming it’s a furtherance of our deficit spending long-term. Remember that most economies aren’t as big as ours and that only inflates these figures further the wrong way for the claims of the right. I’m open to any debate therein and wish Mr. Scarborough was more interested in getting it right instead of being on the right.

Thats all for today, see you tomorrow

Monday, November 16, 2009


The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 16th, 2009

The founding principles of the Morning Joe show were determined and written in stone when Mika refused to cover Paris Hilton and Joe began calling out the extremist on both sides and calling on those in the center to police their respective ranks.

Where are that Joe and Mika today? This would be a short observation if that were it: if this was a debate about why Sarah Palin, who is as marketable as an entertainer as Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears, was taking the oxygen out of the newsroom. That actually got some coverage by the crew today but mostly they all seemed resigned that resistance was futile and they might as well play along.

But there is such a glaring omission, and it was even teased on the show but a battered staff just grew glass-eyed and passed over the subject.

Sarah Palin is here for one specific reason: to take over the health care debate on behalf of all of the kill votes in the United States of America. This is not a conspiracy, nor do I think that it was even seen by kill vote operatives or Palin-pitchers as anything more than blind luck and accidental opportunity. She wrote the kill catch phrase “death panels”. She will have a talking point to connect with swing state supporters throughout this conveniently timed book tour. There is no doubt that in a fight where the house was a loss for the health care debate despite shenanigans galore, the kill vote interests far and wide are simply happy they’ve found the nuclear option in time for the senate.

Expect a significant portion of each of the Palin public performances to be used to pound the health care initiative using all of the best tips and tricks the right has been using since 1994. Quick slogans will come out of the woodwork as an attempt to use the book tour to be the genesis of the final viral marketing campaign. You will know a minimum of 5 new 5 words or less reminder slogans that the patriotic thing to do is kill the bill by the book tours end.

I listened to the coverage today on the show, and it just seemed that the crew couldn’t retrain their sights forward, that they needed to take a day off to remind themselves of the issues. That made the Palin coverage part of the show today seem like a group of people doing their homework in class.

Katrina vanden Heuvel really comes close to Alan Colmes (Hannity and Colmes) on the show, like a person brought on to be beat up. Her points are progressive and highly respectable, but it comes off like a focus group teaching Joe Scarborough how to overcome objections and hone his message for some future endeavor.

One a humble note, one of my key points last week keyed on a sports analogy, which I will probably never forgive myself for. When I compared the Virginia gubernatorial race, I said it was like a New Orleans Saints – St. Louis Rams football game and described it as a rout from kickoff to final whistle. I watched that game this week, and embarrassingly, parity in the NFL won out.

Go Chargers, see you tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You Can Help Spread The Word!


Making 2 Dimensions Out Of Afghani Soup

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 13th, 2009

Just one observation today:

What clarity service do you think you're providing on your extensive coverage of Afghanistan when you leave so much out of the story and reduce it to a question that Mr. Ed could answer with his hoof?

Throughout the program today, the question of President Obama’s next direction in Afghanistan was unfairly reduced to how many troops to deploy, what's the exit strategy and what's taking so long? This is not a sitcom, and that last question doesn’t count as a dimension to the story.

Where do I start? Oh,


See, that’s 6 dimensions, and that’s at least the starting point of doing fair representation on the story. What instead transpired was even further dumbed-down with a new low in crap polling. How many Americans believe the troop increase should be 40k or more, how many Americans believe we should start to draw down? Based on what, the information you’re providing? To be kind that poll is in the category of self-serving in that it does little to expose the dilution of the story your perpetuating.

But it wasn’t for a lack of time available or spent. You elapsed 40+ minutes on Afghanistan. OK I made that number up, but it was a lot. Here’s some stuff that was never mentioned in that vast amount of time spent:

The kind of government that should be constructed to rule Afghanistan was never meant to be a democracy, it’s a reconstitution of something called a Misak I Milli tribal confederation ruled by a Monarch that was effective ruling the region until the Russians killed the last King prior to their invasion. Every step towards a democracy identifies us as unknowing crusaders.

The DOD is spending 10% of the entire Afghanistan logistics budgets on contract payments to the Taliban so that they won’t attack supply columns. This is more than the Taliban makes in heroin sales. The payments are delivered through proxy Afghan companies with familial ties to Karzai and his Defense Ministers. This is the prime source of revenue for the Taliban to arm themselves against us and why they are growing in size and effectiveness.

The Taliban leaders of the Afghanistan war effort are based in Quetta, Pakistan. Sort've like our command center is in Qatar, they have a command center, although it probably isn’t recognizable as such, from which to operate from. This is denied by the Pakistani government and former leader Musharraf.

The strategy option that many leaders suggest might be part and parcel to the near and medium term operations moves in two directions depending on the demography and topography: population centers get troop deployments, and forward operating bases in rural parts are replaced with drones and remote strategy. To be fair, I’ve heard Joe Scarborough talk about this one once in passing, but if it’s a daily story and a priority today, it can’t just disappear.

Ok, so am I some birther, truth commission wacko? Did I get this stuff from tea party websites or Tom Morello? No, that’s the shows directly adjacent to yours doing their job {credit: Dylan Ratigan, Fareed Zakaria}. I am not an expert at foreign policy, anti-insurgency, tribal governments or Pashtun demographics. Nearly none of your viewers are. But when there is a wall of evidence that you’ve dumbed the story down to this extent, its fair game.

OK, as if you haven’t already clicked to ESPN to try and feel better about your work today, now I have a second observation:

Why on earth did you not mention the swing-state free clinic program that Keith Olbermann devised to make the high drama that unfolded in Inglewood, California come home to roost in Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri? What’s the opposite of prescient?

Have a great weekend, see you Monday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adios Amigos

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 12th, 2009


1) So there you are with Andrew Ross Sorkin, Maria Bartriromo, Becky Quick and Erin Burnett on your show, and it just slips your mind to make them go on record with solutions for domestic job growth? Instead, you allow Maria to wallow comfortably in the “lower taxes solve everything / lets kill health care” tallgrass like any other capitalist waiting for the next opportunity to broadcast good news from Davos. You show ARS’ book cover how many times, yet no connection with domestic job growth or any of the contents of that book for that matter? Becky is interviewing Warren Buffet, a chief DOMESTIC capitalist, Erin is reporting on jobs numbers and the journalistic might of Morning Joe coalesces around “I hope this news trickles down to the good guys one day”. Somewhere out there God and Goldman Sachs are snickering at your oversight.

2) Polls are the great siren’s song of our generation, leading smart person after smart person to the desolation of non productivity on a seemingly hourly basis. The 48-44 generic congressional poll can be looked at and spun from so many angles, and thus is proof positive of nothing. I commend JS for making that direct point later in the show, but the overall effect of the way the show parades daily polling figures around makes any media bias claims made by that show a wee bit hypocritical. Maria makes an accurate point that the polling reflects anxiety for imminent change. Obama is leading us somewhere with his agenda, to a new level of security or to a high cliff depending on whom you voted for in 2008 (not last week). I’m in the “Darkest Before The Dawn” camp looking at poll numbers as pre change anxiety, and that once the change is in place and the next phase strategy of the 2010 jobs program is in full swing, courage will be rewarded and party of no politics will be punished. There is great risk in my line of thought, as it could turn out to be the “we will be greeted as liberators” perceptional mistake of this presidential cycle, but I’m willing to take a risk for health care access. Morning Joe though as an ensemble are a siren song trumpeting poll numbers as a path towards paralysis.

3) The amount of bravery being exhibited on all sides of the Afghanistan issue is astounding. The ambassador is brave for standing up to status quo in Kabul, the generals are brave for breaking protocol to get their message seen, the president is brave for not accepting a plan his heart won’t allow him to sign. No amount of criticism or polling will sway this agenda as captured in the Ken Malek line “politics stop at the water’s edge”. Foreign policy is a trust issue between the president and the international community. Your show bravely gave that fact a voice today in an odd comment from Frances Osborne that outside of the American internal echo chamber, Mr. Obama is improving our relationship with the world, and quite possibly our internal turmoil will be seen by history as an episode straight out of “Lord Of The Flies”. That perspective is fully understood by this White House and will trump noise in the media for the foreseeable future. Ken Malek knows that, Liz Cheney knows that, they are just doing what anyone out of power would be, looking for weakness or a vacuum to fill.

4) Yesterday, I asked JS to identify his core positions on top national topics. Today I was made to feel a bit naïve as Lou Dobbs, who had a printable position on everything, was run out of town. If poker playing leaves you in a position of strength to not get swept out with the tide, I guess I get that added perspective. But Dobbs is so, so wrong on so many fronts, not that controlling the borders or protecting domestic jobs aren’t solid values, but the extent to which he creates demons out of Mexican immigrants or CNN advertisers, that just couldn’t possibly help his higher agenda. Mika should really find a free second to back up “Adios, Amigos” with a statement or risk being badly mis interpreted. I’m for one curious as to what the background is there.

That’s it for today, score yet another victory for Bill Karins in the small talk wars, and see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Do You Stand For Again?

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 11th, 2009

Happy Veteran’s Day

Just one observation today:

Joe Scarborough, what exactly do you stand for?

Are you for the war in Iraq? Are you for the war in Afghanistan? Did you support the bailout? Do you have a schematic in your head for comprehensive health care reform? Where are you on Global Warming? Is there a need for financial reform and what specific steps should be taken? What concrete steps should be in place by the inauguration anniversary to correct the unemployment problem? Immigration?

I know about pro life and small government and fiscal responsibility, but those aren’t platforms those are attitudes. The time for water color is over and the time for real implementation is upon us.

I realized during the show today, that I don’t know of any current solutions on the table with your name on them.

That might just be the premier conundrum between legislators and executives. You have to choose in this world whether to focus your talents on implementation or inhibition.

I find you to be guilty of inhibiting other people’s pragmatic solutions to real problems without providing real alternatives of your own. I find you to be hypocritical in regards your criticism of this administration’s lack of focus on job’s in that you haven’t named anything you would do tomorrow to redirect the employment crisis to a better reality.

Before you lose your temper, why not try it? I make this observation because with all the whispering out there with your name on it, the country would listen. I also would like to see the notion that you might be playing it safe to stay above the fray dispelled sooner than later, otherwise….I find you to be part of the party of no.

Have a great day, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Free Market Concept Is A Missile Defense Shield For The People Who Stole All The Money In The First Place

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 10th, 2009


1) What’s not debated enough, and today’s exchange with Chrystia Freeland and Steve Forbes highlighted this, is the economic concept of the public good. There are items that cannot be managed in the nation’s collective best interest by the free market. I for one believe that the Unites States and opponents of health care reform have no business claiming our health care system and the free market have anything to do with one another. But if it’s not a free market and its not nationalized what is it? Its 50 monopolies empowered by anti trust exclusion and a catacomb of government subsidies and legal loopholes designed by the insurers themselves with a common theme. Tell me where you have heard this before?: We will cover the collective health of the United States provided you legally allow us to minimize risk and hand that risk over to the government, while we provide service only where profitable. The US financial system maybe?

If you want to have the free market involved in the health care debate, you have to first put every non market interference, and I mean every single one, on the chopping block, or it’s not a free market. If you want to claim we can’t afford health care reform, you have to explain how we can afford to only pay into a system without receiving a nickel back, as it currently is. I would stand in support of a free market solution if and only if it aims to not just catch up with the free world, but to pass it. There could be an absolutely open market, with transparent costs viewable in completion from the patient through the doctor. No one talks about how there are currently two sets of prices, the negotiated rate a doctor gets from an insurer and what the amount billed to an individual. In my most recent personal case involving the birth of my second child, that amount was $32,000 billed to me as an individual vs. $14,500 paid by my insurer via an “insurer negotiated rate”. We all know that $17,500 difference causes more personal bankruptcies in America than anything else, yet provably its funny money. A free market system would allow all parties to see all rates and choose the right rate in all cases. The chief difference this would make is that it would dismantle important barriers to entry for new insurers at the micro economic level.

Currently, however, the United States is politically incapable of real solutions outside of certain centrist boundaries. We are bound by fear and fringe. The health care reform as it is, is as close as we will come to real change in our lifetimes. The tweaks that happen between now and a senate vote will really just be “get it done” tweaks, but the average citizen will hold out hope that once in place it will revise itself based on empirical real time evidence to a workable national solution with common goals: universal access (not coverage), self sustainability, and improved results, all public goods.

2) The debate over the recruiting practices of the US Military was so 2005 it was laughable. One side says she has proof that the recruiters will manipulate every situation to get more bodies regardless of qualification, the other side says he’s comfortable that recruiters will manipulate every situation to get more bodies in the military regardless of qualification. That’s not a debate, that’s argumentative bluster that adds nothing to the current situation.

Currently, 75% of military age citizens don’t meet qualifications to join the armed forces. Currently one in five Americans are not employed. Those two facts are enough to date the argument we heard today and move the conversation forward to 2009. One concept that has to be out there in second stimulus land is the use of military service to put some segment of America back to work. I believe you can add a non combat segment to the military, complete with commensurate pay grades that accomplishes two goals: lowers the number of non qualified persons by enlisting them to sub-category service while they re-qualify, and lowers the national unemployment figure by taking the bottom end of the market off of the market. It may sound expensive, but were talking stimulus here and if we are cracking on Nancy Pelosi for sausage making in the first stimulus, and there is an understandable whole market effect here, it has to be considered. Or you could just give the entire amount of the first stimulus to Haliburton, but we’ve already tried that.

3) Ed Shulze and Barney Frank wasted everyone’s time twice now and that debate was not newsworthy enough for an MJ appearance. Barney Frank had nothing to say last night, when I watched the exchange in real time, but did that thing that politicians seemingly do with impunity: defended his absolute failure as a legislator with indignation. Look, what being in the center left means to me is pretty conservative financial tendencies, and pretty progressive social tendencies. In the financial markets, I’m more with Dylan Ratigan that there is no sheriff currently and we will wake up sometime soon and face nationalization all over again to reclaim assets that have been removed from public trust and placed in private hands. That sounds like commie-talk I know, but it stems from the inability of anyone in any camp to truly step up and show strong leadership of the free market financial system. Do the math, your money is going to China and Japan at a rate of 100 billion dollars a week right now. When we are taking those loans, what are we buying with the money? We are buying our budget that is 50% consumed by our wars, our financial bailout, which dollar for dollar we will get less than 35% of that money back, and interest on our debts. That 65% unrecouped financial bailout money far exceeds the national defense budget. There are mansions lining Connecticut and Central Park being bought and sold for 65 million dollars apiece while 1 in 5 of us are out of work. The money being poured into the financial system is not being used to fund domestic growth, the workforce benefiting from the solvency of the banking system is Chinese. This can’t go on forever and while this may seem like a run on paragraph, none of this was covered in the banter between Ed Schulze and Barney Frank, displaying little or no concept of what they face.

See you tomorrow, put a webcast of the townhall meeting up.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Joe Scarborough Gets a Grasshopper Moment From Richard Haas

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for November 9th, 2009

1) It’s one thing to try and box in Katrina Vanden Heuvel by asking the premature question about whether her readers are disappointed in the as yet unannounced Afghanistan troop decision, but I bet it will be a much more thoughtful Joe Scarborough before he takes that same tactic with Richard Haas again anytime soon. It was an amazing back-to-back segment, where Katrina was forced to avoid an unfair question with everyone but JS at the table agreeing that maybe the readers should get to see the president’s full decision before deciding on their disappointment.

But Richard Haas handed Mr. Scarborough his lunch and did so with a swiftness and understated knowing of a scholar. Joe had tried that same old I've got more facts than you and you have no examples of what you're saying thing in regards to international participation in military actions, except this time he directed that at the President of the Council on Foreign Relations and OOPS. Richard had airtight inarguable examples for anything he was saying at instant recall and it went from a debate to a lecture in under 60 seconds. Not only was there a lucid non-reactionary clarity, but a stare that said at once, come back for more at your peril and it’s for your own good. JS will probably also want to avoid using that “I’ll answer it for you” line with legends like Tom Brokaw.

2) Nancy Pelosi has gone from a dirty word to a respected finisher in a matter of days. You could play a drinking game in listening through the MJ archives for disparaging references to the speaker. Today, that became too risky and throughout the broadcast, JS paid fair tribute belying his prior two years of disdain. Some of that disdain is or was deserved in that the curious selective memory as it pertains to intelligence briefings and the lack of ROI analysis in the first stimulus are extremely debatable entries on the speaker’s record. But its good to see the positive come through. Additionally, it was selective memory on the part of Mr. Scarborough to make propaganda out of the slim margin of victory, when he can roll his own tape and come up with his own quotes recognizing Nancy Pelosi had a strategy to provide cover to swing state Democrats that allowed them to vote against the measure when she knew she had the votes. It’s a vote counting masterpiece even beyond the credit Mr. Scarborough was willing to bestow.

3) What a brilliant idea on the philanthropic front to put volunteerism and New Orleans in as an offset to the Starbucks sponsorship. I’m not a fan of Starbucks, I don’t like their coffee and they seem like miniature Walmarts putting community shops out in an endless sea of Formica. But I understand that the longevity of journalism needs these kinds of partnerships and stand in support these models as experiments. One thing I’ve always thought is that there is a general suspicion of charity in a United Way “where does the money really go?” sort of way. My advice always: build something. The question that set Joe Scarborough off in the President’s press conference in New Orleans was about the lack of a Class 1 trauma hospital in New Orleans. Mr. Scarborough, if you’re truly going to build a public awareness campaign in this country in parallel with your outrage, why not build that hospital? Get the funding on a bond paid into by the charity you just started and break ground on November 20th. The opportunity cost of billion dollar presidential campaigns and 100 million dollar mayoral campaigns is a great cost to America. The return on investment of just building an elementary school named after your campaign rather than buying negative TV ads seems tossable except for the value of what remains when the campaign is over. Morning Joe could seize upon that concept here and make history rather than just a big check photo op.

4) I give the show an incomplete on the issue of the Stupak amendment. Please do your subscribers the service of recognizing where you garbled the message today and make an iron clad representation of what the amendment is going to do if implemented. Remember that it’s a setback every time you get it wrong. I know you tried with reasonable intent to get it right today, but you didn’t and lets see that clarified so that real debate can ensue.

5) I only want one other thing, to have Joe Lieberman leave his appearance on the show this Friday exposed. I have disdain for this individual dating back to him forcing his way onto the Gore presidential campaign by calling in a questionable favor. I watched in horror as he dismantled a perfectly winnable election, then had my suspicions found out as he has shown himself to be an aggrandizing spotlight seeker willing to shift with political opportunity in the same familiar way Mitt Romney does. It’s a real test for the show to apply pressure rather than placate.

Go Chargers, and see you tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Greetings From The Real Middle

This has to be done. At risk is the collective sanity of the free world.

Morning Joe is a fabulous show and I've been addicted to it since it started. I can relate to the cast of characters and think the mix of personalities is part and parcel to their success.

Joe Scarborough has made my life easier because now instead of having to venture behind enemy lines and monitor O'Reilly or Hannity to see what the far right is calling the truth these days, I can get that take from him. No, he's not the same level of extremist or an extremist at all. Of course not, he's that far more good guy type that can convince an ordinary centrist that he is maleable and reasonable yet push essentially the same agenda as any Republican or Conservative operative, camouflaging it as populism.

Let's see how it goes, but just for this week these are my simplest observations that I think are due and deserved to represent the reasonable moderate left.

1) There is no disenfranchisement of the independent voter evidenced by the votes in New Jersey and Virginia. The Scarborough position that "Health Care Is Dead" because of the off year elections is pure propaganda. It would be more honest if he would include the words "I wish people would realize" in front of some of these statements as it would rule out a common fault in his mantra: altruism.

There is anecdotally an anti incumbent bias in these votes. I agree with the finer point that the dem Deeds was much closer in polling earlier this year. But this is the Jimmy Carter phenomenon in a smaller off year vote: people knew the outcome and stayed home. There was an opposite phenomenon in the New York City mayoral but without study one would have to assume that anti incumbent in the land of 3 terms and 100 million dollars is just a single digit victory instead of the expected blowout. But Virginia was a New Orleans Saints vs. St. Louis Rams football game from kickoff to final whistle and people just tuned out.

If Mr. Scarborough wanted to describe a more accurate damage to the White House from these elections, he might rather have related Mr. Corzine's Goldman Sachs past to the existing positions in Mr. Obama's staff with Treasury Secretary Geithner and Economic Adviser Summers' equally confusing ties to that TBTF juggernaut. Those are bums to throw out.

2) The "We can't afford it" slant which defines Joe Scarborough's wish to kill health care never gets the real attack it deserves. JS invited a Keynesian economist to come on the show who dutifully charted how in times of economic decline good governments use deficit spending to revive economies. I would concede the stimulus package was not good evidence of cause and effect policy, but the health care bill is the real stimulus. The freedom small business would get as a windfall from health care reform would allow it greater opportunity to become the engine of economic growth its been heralded as for these past 11 months. Small business can't always recruit the best and the brightest because of things like disassociation with group health. If you really believe the green energy revolution is going to come from a storefront in Palo Alto, California then step one is to stimulate that process by taking the single biggest hardship a small business faces off of the table.

3) The most insidious thing out this past week was the JS quote (paraphrased) "just because I'm a conservative guy, I've got bigger things to work out than abortion or gay marriage". The reason that is insidious is that via sleight of hand the two items are inherently left on the table to deal with later. If you're serious make the statement "I promise to leave these issues out of government on my watch completely". Otherwise, the reason it keeps coming up is that people will and should be generally suspicious that you're coming to the debate with the whole conservative platform: "small government until it comes to social issues".

Then, lets get Roe v Wade repealed and start putting health care professionals in jail. Then, lets continue to allow gay couples to live in the shadows of the American support infrastructure despite their contributions to their communities and prosperity.

4) Mika does a great disservice to her accurate rage at childhood obesity by converging on taxes and not connecting this crisis to the health care debate. Childhood obesity is a symptom of a broken national wellness program that combines lack of a family doctor and lack of physical education with the generational phenomenon of the two income family. This plus the perverted food marketplace for children especially children of impoverished families make the ingredients of the crisis as we know it. A wellness system would prescribe physical activity and the whole family would benefit financially from the completion of that prescription through lower overall health insurance rates.

5) Mike has been trumpeting the "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" kill vote on health care for a number of months. It begs a simple question: OK jobs, but by what mechanism? Rather than drone, call for something. Is there some government strategy that's being missed? Everyone agrees with you in the same way they agree with lower taxes, ending wars, fixing Wall Street, and fixing bridges. Joe Biden might as well have been talking to you Mike Barnicle when he said, sarcastic tone and all: It's Complicated.

Conclusion - Ok, so thats enough, I could go on for 300 pages and do a book tour just with the opposition. Again, I'm a fan, these are good people, this will not be a Max Blumenthal diatribe and I'm at best hoping for a 55% success rate. Key words: Altruism, Insidious, Jobs Mechanism, Healthy Children, and Independents are smarter than both Republicans and Democrats on any given day.

Don't worry about me, I Tivo the show and sleep at night. But, don't call either!