Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Connect, Not Bisect

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for February 9th, 2010


1) This was a slow news day. A re-examination of a re-examination of the Palin Tea Party confab, a re-examination of Mirand-izing the Christmas bomber, a rehashing of cloture, and a preclusion of civil posturing leading up to the great horse trade on health care. Oh, and Toyota did something bad too.

What do those issues have in common? They are examinations of conflict and wedge mentality. What is the show going to do when everyone gets a say in health care, except Aetna, and the horse trade as a mechanism is a proven success?

Why not find out now? It has been this columns strong belief that when the front page conflicts slow down, there has to be at least some room for prescribing progress one suggestion at a time.

With all of the discussion of the hate oriented and race oriented nature of the Tea Party and the obvious pandering of Sarah Palin to it, for these are her people (read: the only people not on Tina Fey’s side), even David Melnick should have to come up with some positives there. The tea party is doing something that no other segment of America is currently doing. They are organizing their dissent into an undeniable scale that is a voice unheard of since the Vietnam war. This is a first voice not of special interest, but of common interest. That is important accomplishment and needs to be recognized.

Further, the warts and all mentality is important, because quickly the Tea Party is refining and policing its own, take the Breitbart backstage counseling session as top line proof of that. The civil rights movement evolved after some horrific violence into non violence. The Tea Party movement probably deserves that same chance. Joe Scarborough glossed over that by a sober admission that the media goes out and finds the most extreme footage and then replays that footage ad infinitum. That is distortion.

I am not an advocate of so much that is going on with the Tea Party movement. Most of the platform in its early incarnation has been that margin of society that thinks that our borders should have walls, Mexicans deported, taxes repealed as unconstitutional, and abortion doctors should be jailed. But this party also wants an all-out clawback for runaway government spending that includes the military. They want a voice for privacy rights. They have agreement on what should be a universal platform that the legislature in it’s current form is corrupt beyond repair and needs to be retooled to soley focus on the people’s business, with the corporate elite left on the outside before it’s too late.

All that, and first to market with a modern common populist protest. Compare and contrast their months of assembly and growth with the presidential election of 2008. In 2008 we were coddled by celebrities, goaded by television, winked at by the national print media, and sold by the Billy Mays of politics. Then nothing changed at all. Suddenly our new change and hope guy seemed to be advocating the status quo, and what did we do? We, that great mass on the Washington mall at inauguration day, melted away to become lonely bloggers of our discontent.

Not the Tea Party, they assembled, did it again, and did it again. They’ve been called racists. Even today, they were labeled as hiding their intellectual inferiority via mentally lazy labels like nazi, socialist, Hitler and Stalin. What are they doing? They are reacting internally by boiling away the attack points and re assembling and re assembling until their message for progress is advanced. You may not like them, but you have to respect them for doing something while you lay inconsolable on the couch.

2) Joe Scarborough almost got there with the Tea Party people, but got all the way there in the Miranda debate. If my chief complaint yesterday was a lack of dissent during two disparate segments on financial reform, than there is a just compliment due for the handling of the Miranda debate with Mort Zuckerman, JS, and Chris Hayes.

Hayes did just enough to cause a genesis moment, he had just enough Constitutional knowledge to not allow Joe and Mort an easy answer. And let’s face it, Scarborough and Zuckerman were desperate to resolve this debate into an easy answer, and they lost. We did not determine that Chris Hayes was right, this was not a victory for pundit absolutism, we instead claimed the greater high ground that an assembly of constitutional scholars was needed to be sure that the facts being bandied about in the media are responsibly grounded.

To be fair, I’ve more closely sided with the Zuckerman principle that we have to be careful not to be our own worst enemy. That the Eric Holder mandates thus far seem to make the US beholden to strategic misstep for the sake of appearing perfect. I want the Holder and Obama ideal of one less terrorist recruited via our morally based actions as a nation. But there is no losing sight that the enemy dating back to Vietnam will use zero moral compass in its wartime decisions, and if they felt they could attack us while we were in church, they would, and they have proven it.

So let’s find out where the constitution is and let’s stick with it. If it appears that some part of the constitution leaves us vulnerable, lets make a morally responsible open decision to shore that up in the face of a modern threat.

The whole argument here, that should unite us all, from those who voted for Scott Brown so that our dollars ‘fight terror not provide terrorist lawyers’, to those who had their library cards inspected in Fresno, California for adequate patriotism, is that ultimately whatever we vote for we should be willing to submit to, for chances are we will.

3) There was a huge connection, not made, but embarked upon today when the cloture debate included a referral to alternate versions of the Senate. Joe Scarborough only wants to take the ‘grass is always greener’ posture, but that is not a take that is an evasion. The principle that we allow a monumental distortion of the nation’s will in the Senate is striking a national chord, and we have to have a sober conversation of alternatives. I heard popular representation uttered in relation to the Senate for the first time in the show’s history. I don’t support popular representation in the Senate. But it starts a conversation of alternatives.

Additionally, if the most distorted body of the two in the legislative branch adds another compounding level of obstruction to progress, it exponentially magnifies any and all existing distortions. There are more people that lost coverage when the health reform bill died at the hands of Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman, than reside in their states combined, fivefold! Their obstruction was empowered by cloture. Yet, even more infuriating, the cloture that empowered them is in name only, as the rarely discussed no filibuster agreement doesn’t even allow a filibuster test in this session of Congress.

Now I’ve heard of lots of alternatives to the current version of the Senate. And I’ve read the results of this version of the Senate, with its obstruction of progress dating back to the civil rights debate. And we didn’t even talk about the distortion that pervades the entire process called lobbyists and corporate money and television advertising dollars. There has to be a better way. It’s the scoreboard, and it doesn’t lie.

Rather than embark on that process today, let’s take a look at a wonderful alternative proposed by Annie Lowrey over the weekend involving representation based on income, and how that might empower the middle class, and let’s ask Joe Scarborough to proctor a proper discussion of possible alternatives rather than sticking with his “you can’t handle a simple majority in the Senate” dismissal. That dismissal seems a little too much like contempt for process and progress.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

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