Sunday, March 28, 2010


I haven't finished watching the show today, but they've done some sleight of hand and it sucks.

They ran the same traffic shot with different light at 6 am as they did at 8 am. They ran the same tape, but they carefully inset a new top of the hour.

There was a mention in the 6am hour of an accident involving Willie Geist. There was a lot of shakiness in the early hour, and all of that was scrubbed.

Look, we don't care if you've got some issues, but scrubbing your show, then re rolling the re-edited 6 am hour as if it was the original thing, that is just dirty.

The amount of time spent on the Rolling Stone article was valiant, yet it still broke off and went around the horn. I am not sure the other side is getting it's vent in that article, but Rolling Stone is usually right about this stuff and thus we are best to know whatever can be delivered. I of course wonder if Joe Scarborough would've let an anti military story cruise through the middle hour unabated.

But in regards of the Minority Report version of Morning Joe. The best thing we can do is hope that Jon Stewart doesnt get ahold of this obvious 3 card monte. Cause if he does, you will be humiliated for a Fox like poker face re-doing yourself like William Hurt did.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Does Joe Think This Is A Win?

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 23rd, 2010


1) Can loud guy Joe Scarborough win a single debate today? These guys just lined up and crowned him. Michael Steele, Newt Gingrich, Paul Ryan, and a cast of others also tried to take to the airwaves to keep the kill & repeal camp energized on a devastating day. But it was Scarborough that had the toughest job. He had a weird technical advantage that the shouty man thing works kind’ve well on the Atlanta remote monitor. But three hours is a long time and overall, Donnie, Chris Hayes, Eugene, Lawrence, Chuck, and even Mika were just teeing up batting practice.

Scarborough felt like if he could just talk about what was sinister about the process he could plant the seed of buyers remorse. That remorse lost out to euphoria time and time again.

Donnie: looking back is not an effective message

Scarborough: you don’t know what you’re talking about


Scarborough: So Eugene, do you feel good about this bad bill?

Eugene: Well, yes

Lawrence: You’ve never voted on a pure bill, and you would never initiate a health care coverage as a legislator

Scarborough: {nothing}

Ill give it to the guy. He is a happy loser. He really thinks this thing is all part of God’s plan and that time will serve his position well. That kind’ve personal content on a day like this is tough to achieve.

As he was getting battered, whether it was at 6 or at 9 AM, he had a smile on his face not unlike a zealot who feels his time will come. Maybe, but let the record show, this is real systemic change, not via this originating substantive bill, but by virtue of a genesis step. You don’t have this in your game, you can’t recognize its novel achievement, and you don’t seem to comprehend the battle ahead for your party.

Your party is most defined spiritually as wishing to return to a simpler time. Some call that a version of being reactionary. When an independent voter compares and contrast two messages in a bicameral system and one says we have to go back to not caring about 47 million people and the unfunded mandate not managing that situation creates, while the other says this process is difficult, the first step makes us even question ourselves, but status quo is by far a worse option, that comparison does not favor you.

2) I’ll never be done analyzing the mechanics of what’s coming in November. I’m listening to Joe Scarborough parade a platform of 'make the Democrats bathe in their unfortunate decisions', and I can’t tell you how much I hope that happens.

I’m starting to listen to others that said head fake is Obama’s perpetual strategy. We don’t know what his strategy to hold the House and the Senate is this fall. But think about the stakes. The stakes are ‘yes we can’ all over again.

Naysayers have piled on. I have been at times the most disillusioned person in the world. But that’s simply more evidence on the value of winning. Winning is contagious. The advantages of winning include going back to your base and saying look, who has a better chance of adding to our victory? Us, or those ‘no’ clowns? The same message plays with independents. Dear Mr. Independent voter, welcome to the first real progress of your lifetime, if you would like to continue press A, and welcome back. There’s a cave over there where all the guys who still believe we can go back to the Reagan days, that there is some other thing we can give away without consequence all live, and you can press B and join them if that’s your mission.

There is no denying the mathematical hardship the health care law will place on our horrible budget. But that kind’ve pressure is simply the right pressure. Lets get services back in front, and lets start killing off things like Medicare Advantage, ethanol subsidies, whatever non consequential military program Senator Shelby thinks he deserves, and every other budget busting piece of nonsense. I want that this is expensive, because its expensive in an arena the federal government should be growing, and will force shrinkage in parts of the government that I really would like to see smaller or go away entirely.

3) I think my favorite thing on the Morning Joe show is just how idiotic Rudy Giuliani looks trying to portray the health care bill as ‘terrible’. The thing I like about his appearance is the time warp factor. Will someone wake this guy up and tell him he is the poster child for fighting the last war? People openly mock his inability to convey reality on the ground in terms other than 9/11. For him to be the talking point generator for old guard is a disaster.

Six months ago I asked Joe Scarborough to say what he is for. He has marginally accommodated that request by talking about the things he would like to see be part of health care reform. As we have said repeatedly, he just has trouble convincing anyone he would actually make those changes. Why? Because of people like Rudy Giuliani. When it is the Republicans turn to run things, the dialog just shifts away from the entire subject, and you can tell this on a day like today, when a guy like Rudy is forced to talk. You can tell full well if Rudy Giuliani had become President and by some miracle a moderate member of the Republican party started to initiate a health care bill, Rudy would call that ‘terrible’ too.

Joe Scarborough seems to have forgotten the things we were talking about when we were looking at George and Dick’s regime. We were talking about how to provide nothing on a service basis, how to arrest more illegal immigrants, send troops to our borders, bomb Iran, empower Halliburton. The progressive agenda in the Republican party is not how to help more people, it’s how to kill more enemies.

Compare and contrast on your way to November, friend.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Myth Of The Republican Genesis

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 22rd, 2010


1) When a prediction goes awry, the best defense is to move quickly to the next prediction. Several predictions were unveiled on the Morning Joe show the morning after health care passed Congress, and the combining fixes were sent to the Senate to make a once and for all genesis path for health care reform a reality.

The first prediction is that John Cornyn says that the Senate will further attempt to disrupt the eventual passage, which at this point seems like hapless channeling of the tan face of defeat, Mr. Boehner. The second is that the November elections are a plank walk for Democrats. The last and maybe most significant is that Americans will see the passage as a giant loss for freedom.

No one knows if the Republicans in the Senate will have the will to continue a clear loser strategy of obstruction until the imminent defeat is had. But if they do, this is one prediction that will only profit the other side. Republicans have willingly gone the obstruction route for some time. There were times it worked, times it benefited elections, times it seemed like ‘party of no’ was a selling point. But this is a large leap of faith given the signs of a citizenry with an eroded patience, and the law of diminishing return setting in. The real cost of the obstruction is that it’s a sunk cost that just seems ridiculous when the opposite occurrence happens anyway, and seemingly the whole world could’ve predicted the end result. It seems like charades, does that help a party’s relevance?

The elections this coming November could have all looked like the Scott Brown win in Massachusetts. The Republicans could’ve pointed to a case of denial by the Obama administration where the Dems fought the futile fight inefficiently and took the voter for granted in absolute denial of the people’s will to focus on jobs. Now, the Democrats have the giant progress achievement, and it’s the Republicans who seem like the inefficient managers of the message war.

Lawrence O’Donnell has been screaming at the lack of a tax increase messages in the Republican resistance, yet all that has emanated from that resistance is ‘start over’, ‘Americans don’t want it’, and ‘Government takeover’. The days of ‘mission accomplished’ sloganism resonating with a public now forced to take a calculator to any claim from any party are over for now. You need to put math in front of them that they can self verify. Republicans and slogans is an equation about shelf life, sounds good for 90 days, seems to accomplish nothing after, and a distrust of the marketing process has ensued. Not talking about taxes is a gaffe of supernova proportions for the Republican party.

The elections will make the Republicans seem like dime store hoods facing the American public with yet another round of doublespeak hiding their true intent of dissolving the middle class for profit. Running against that health care accomplishment by the Dems is that fake hug scene in Jerry MaGuire. Good luck with that.

So, that leaves freedom. I know the freedom they’re talking about, the freedom to not acquire health insurance if you don’t want to, to pay cash for medical services so that you don’t have to pay into something you don’t use or aren’t interested in. The mandate is troubling, but you have to explain to me which side of the free enterprise system that you’re on. Because taking this argument appears to be playing both sides.

In the free market solution, you are providing a public good via a private mechanism. We learned in the car insurance business, that the uninsured driver is a byproduct of the lack of government involvement in the market, where it’s understood that an individual must be liable for his actions as a driver and automobile owner. So our registrations and police enforcements have enforced a mandate, and allowed the private insurers to work at an efficiency previously unseen.

So were you free when you could not pay for your liability to an emergency rooms mandate to treat you, or were you free when you were forced to cover yourself for that liability, and made the cost of that treatment 1/10th of the first scenario? And would you be more or less free if the undeniable fact that you will eventually need health care was simply transferred to the tax side of the equation and single payer was the law of the land. All the talk of freedom just sounds like the freedom to live in denial of your eventual need for health care.

Three predictions, three new losers, go team wrong!

2) I don’t understand how its not part of the news that the stand alone public option is following this bill along and has 80 sponsors. Alan Grayson has put together the antithesis of all that has gone into the health care bill just passed. Grayson’s plan is all of four pages, accomplishes its goal not of universal coverage but universal extension, and takes an existing system that has a 97% flow through and put its efficiency to work.

The reason I find it so confusing, is that it wouldn’t end private insurance, it would accomplish all of the Republicans goals of strengthening competition. Health care insurers would have to relinquish status quo monopolies and lack of free choice rules, and stateline rules just to be in this game. Most importantly, health insurers would have to come up with some private industry pressure on the cost side of things to compete. Otherwise their business goes away.

5 years after the Grayson bill would become law, the reality on the ground is that the private market would show it’s comparative superiority by providing health care at a cost of around 80% of that offered by the Medicare extension, because they would have to.

Conventional wisdom seems to be you can’t embrace this stuff until it gets enough momentum that you won’t seem like an outlier pointing to it. Morning Joe should be opposite of conventional wisdom on this issue.

3) Lawrence O’Donnell has officially made the genesis point, that Republicans would never initiate health care if they were in control of government. Lawrence included Joe Scarborough specifically. This was not a pleasant moment for Joe Scarborough. It is the simplest logic, and something we have been screaming at the television since before Morning Joe existed. In fact come November, you will be hearing this point a lot.

The Republicans have no idea how to govern anymore. Their idea of governing is to perpetually lower taxes and hope that a nation of bubble driven faux rich people are dumbed down enough to forget that should the sky fall there will be zero support structure. Further they seem like patsies to Wall Street, allowing their apparent allies to drive the economy off of a cliff on their watch. Republicans: Wall Street are not your allies, it’s a relationship of convenience between two liars.

The Democrats are far from innocent in this phenomenon. The deals agreed to in order to pass health care are embarrassing. But the incremental point is a powerful one: we are mature enough to know that while we want more in the direction of governing and providing services, we have to start here and whittle away at the mirage driven denial of our opponents.

Joe Scarborough, you would never as a governor initiate health care coverage, salvage social security, sufficiently tax a population to preserve and improve schooling, or balance any budget based on a baseline of necessity versus a baseline of revenue. You are completely limited to Reagan commercial growth for your ability to run an economy, and thus own the crises you complain about. That makes the complaints you make about the ‘bad bills’ the Democrats used for stimulus and health care part of the party of no. Stop with the mirages, and let’s see some 4 page solutions from you.

Way to go Lawrence, I guess it took a day like today.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Partner Perkins Tries To Help Us Forget

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 19th, 2010


1) There was no reason to rush into this column, because Friday had the same twists and turns as the previous 2 days, and I happen to be in Austin at South By Southwest. You do the math. If Peggy Noonan, Joe Scarborough and Eugene Robinson were indeed inventing the wheel on Friday, I would have asked Bill Murray to hold up a sec, and written something, but we all know that didn’t need to happen.

I try very hard not to come at this from the unfair perspective of all of the news that transpires between 9 AM eastern on a shows airing date and when I get around to talking about it. But David Gregory talked about the votes that they were short. Peggy Noonan talked about Obama not making history. The reason the rule is in place is that this stuff looks like blind monkeys did it in retrospect for the opposite happened a short while later.

2) The biggest beef to be had with the Friday show is the continued negative dogma where Joe Scarborough says on the merits this is a bad bill and that it’s a giveaway to the insurers and pharma. It is, but that’s still a false argument. The truth of the matter is that our congress is so compromised that we have to have what looks to the naked eye like a Trojan horse just to get a bill past insurmountable influence to kill it.

If anything, Scarborough should be mad at his own party for having made skeleton keys to the chambers of congress and handing them out to the chamber of commerce. It’s fair to say some of the real nastiness that we have faced in this battle has Billy Tauzin’s signature on it. That the horrific framework of the Bush prescription drug bill was the way of doing business that confronted this congress with the status quo forces all the more entrenched and empowered because of it.

This Scarborough argument seem disingenuous because like the ‘we can’t afford’ it or ‘we should start over’ talking points of the opposition, this argument pretends to be an alternative path where out the gate legislation with an antiseptic regard to special interest is readily available as an option. Joe knows that’s not the case, yet he portrays that it is, thus engaging in truthiness.

3) But thank god the Morning Joe show took a second to beat the living daylights out of State Senator Perkins. This person will now be closeted in focus groups for the foreseeable future to see if there was an angle from which he did not seem like a tool for anti progress. We know I have an issue with the real effect of the small amount of money found to be influencing Senator Perkins, but he did himself zero favors by coming off as delusional as Michelle Bachmann in his segment.

It was nearly a turkey shoot save the restraint from the cast of the show. There was a real danger of piling on. It’s like we always say when it’s a person in over their head, just let them talk. And with each reason, it seemed a more shameful obstruction than before Perkins had ever appeared. As if he was making the case for the other side: “yes I am stopping this great program and looking for falsehoods to challenge it with’.

The debate turned out to be a non event though as it became like arguing with a 5 year old, you risk losing if you try and use the facts or rationality in the face of none. The end note of ‘let’s partner to solve this problem’ is a laughable way to conclude a contest that was really too one sided to move forward from.

Now that this person has been exposed, can’t we just force him to the side and move on? I’m sure his publicist and campaign manager would like that.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clinton Built The Cuckoo’s Nest

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 18th, 2010


1) Because of a delay in the CBO estimate, today’s Morning Joe show was essentially a do over of yesterdays show as it pertains to the health care bill on it’s way to passage and it’s implications. Only Dennis Kucinich was available as a fresh news item. In the process of the rehashing guess what, all of the same conclusions were reached.

Through all the celebrity features, there was a deafening noise emanating from the Democrats. A silence so vacuous that it could peel paint.

It’s that thing that you do when you’re about to close the deal. You shut up. The worst thing you can do when you have the votes and are simply waiting out the CBO and 72 hours, is fuel any of the waning fires of Republican opposition.

The Republicans released their plan for obstruction in the Senate. That also wasn’t news. Joe Scarborough essentially listened to the plan and then quoted me: do the Republicans know Joe Biden holds the gavel?

2) I am learning something in this 7th level vacuum environment. There are indications that the theory of premature elation by Republicans of a turning tide with Scott Brown and a few other mini victories are a valid sign of coming greater success.

The real story is that everyone will now be reading the health bill like they used to read the Sears Christmas catalog in August and September. That voters will perceive the new law as the features and benefits brochure for keeping the Democrats in power.

If the economy continues to slug out modest gains, that will be enough to say the worst is over. The artifice of financial reform, while hollow to any expert, will be enough to sell the same incremental approach that is working on health care, that is, incremental after the comprehensive starter package.

The international situation is both good and bad, but it appears that the stories change from bad to good in the order that Obama prioritizes them. Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are widely recognized as the early priorities and having shown the kind of improvement that can’t be denied. Any troubles with Iran, China, North Korea or Israel can bee seen as the story being continuous and trouble that will be handled with a steady hand when our busy country gets a free minute.

And comparatively, what do the Republicans have? Hell, even Scott Brown is keeping his options open.

3) If Bill Clinton was the genesis of ‘red state vs blue state’ as we know it, it might answer some questions that have plagued the Democrats self-definition. I am deeply troubled by the Bob Reuben led charge to repeal Glass Steagall in 1999 during a Democratic presidency. I feel like today helps me understand the environment where a concession to Wall Street like that might occur.

In the divisive environment that has resulted since the red-blue stalemate developed, there has been zero progress that required sacrifice, only giveaways. Repeal of Glass Steagall might have been a giveaway to attempt to have an accomplishment of record in what was a very weak moment of the Clinton presidency.

It was followed by Bush tax cuts, Bush overspending, Bush Wars while we shopped, the pharma deal, and these two Obama mandates on health and finance. All of which were giveaways of one form or another because neither side would allow a sacrifice without a lynching.

This allows for the entry of the irrational voter that we’ve discussed here and the Morning Joe show has touched on. The voter, if given the opportunity, will vote for lower taxes, more services and outright denial that the national debt will ever have to be repaid. It’s a giveaway culture. But if you touch entitlements or raise taxes or cut services, you are toast.

This is by no means a story with an ending, what passes Congress this week fits neatly into it in it's undeniable pattern of a lack of credible sacrifice for the greater good.

But at least, we are one step closer to recognizing the origins of our current madness.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is The New Drinking Game Olympia Snowe?

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 17th, 2010


1) I was so happy all during the Blanche Lincoln appearance on Morning Joe that this person was getting primaried. She represents everything that is denial about declarations of moderation and bipartisanship. Her ad to her constituents in Arkansas was a ‘party of no' party line message complete with a hypocritical representation that she is somehow different than the children with balloon swords.

Look, what is the value of bipartisanship with your opponent being lockstep to delay, obstruct, and ultimately oppose any progress purely on political grounds. The only thing the Republicans are attempting to do is regain power. The only thing a new Republican party empowerment would achieve is a single focused mantra of retaining power and re-attaining the Rove permanent regime. This would be achieved by unfunded tax relief to the only people left with a tax burden – Wall Street bankers and commercial interests. This would be a government that would feature unfunded giveaways to anyone who would use the new law of the land of unlimited corporate election funding. This means the Republican party would be sponsored like Nike sponsors Tiger Woods despite any coincidental moral shortcomings.

And Blanche, oh Blanche, your every word is code. Code for status quo, code for Walmart. You are the living proof that Walmart wants it both ways, so no matter if a D or an R is in the chair, they own you. Walmart votes no on the bailout, Walmart votes no on the public option, Walmart votes no on the auto bailout. That’s what your ad really said.

2) Deem and pass is not only the right thing to do, it’s actually the most correct thing to do. Listen to the opponents use it as a crutch in their final days. If Republicans hadn’t worn this entire procedural complaint out ad nauseum via their disciplined but dysfunctional message on the inherent unfairness of reconciliation, but only when in the hands of Democrats, then maybe this week's white noise might have some traction instead of the ‘cry wolf’ falseness it seems to possess.

The House is so very correct to use deem and pass to solve the very issue holding it up: the distrust of the Senate to uphold it’s end of any promise to any thing. Deem and pass protects the House by forcing the Senate bill to bind with the reconciliation bound package of fixes. Call it the shotgun conference. We have listened to all the talk for way too long about superior leverage in the Senate, well guess what, today the House seems maneuverable, and the Senate seems stuck. And with those circumstances, who has the least amount of leverage possible? Mitch McConnell. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

3) Along with all the other drinking games borne of repetition by people who run out of ideas before the commercial break, enter Olympia Snowe. When Blanche Lincoln needed to show her faux bipartisan chops, she went there, and the eye rolls at the Morning Joe table were obvious. Why? Because for heavens sake, show a fresh idea or seem like you’re John Kerry on a hunting trip. No one believes that Olympia Snowe is the key to bipartisanship. Well besides Joe Scarborough, whose loyalties are currently under suspicion as a Democratic adviser, and the soon to be extinct doublespeak types trying to keep their real loyalties under wraps.

The reason this is a huge steaming sales job is that it’s like trying to coax the guy nearest the fence on the North Korean side of the border to defect. These people are crazy with the lockstep and they will only suddenly become bipartisan when options of obstruction, betrayal (Chuck Grassley, we will always remember), and re-ascension are exhausted. So that means if we are to progress, it’s step on their neck time and show that you are in power and all things go through you, not via the squeaky wheel.

Lets equate Olympia Snowe with a failed plan of 2009 once and for all, and when we hear it said, bottoms up, it’s time to primary another person not in sync with a need for progress.

That's all for today, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lucidity On 3 Fronts

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 16th, 2010


1) On the ‘casino gambling with a taxpayer backstop’ theory who was first: Dylan Ratigan, Matt Taibbi or Micheal Lewis? I’m admittedly a bandwagoner here. I got into this game on the basis of ‘Dick Cheney is bad for America’ and have had to add health care, polling and financial crises to my elements of focus, and that time line does not allow me to answer the true source question. In fact, I remember the Michael Lewis ‘The Blind Side’ interview, only after Joe Scarborough reminded viewers it was the same guy, and remember the fateful question ‘so what’s your next project’. I remember Lewis talking about how he wanted to dissect the financial crisis and I remember thinking hasn’t that been covered?

I declare Taibbi as the entity that pioneered the concept that over 95% of Wall Street participants were either dumb as rocks or perpetrating a fraud for me. I declare Dylan Ratigan who has courageously kept this populist anger at incompetence and outright fraud on the front burner, despite lukewarm reception by the mainstream. But I wonder if Lewis, the author of Crash, is the genesis of both of those other movements. If you know, tell me. These people are important to me, and I would like to know for posterity’s sake.

2) Lawrence O’Donnell proved yesterday’s central thesis that the right idea is unelectable. He is the first person to come on to the Morning Joe show and declare that private insurance crosses an important line in cases like catastrophic illness where it should never be the provider of record. My record is clear here, although O’Donnell does not say the words, that the line is the definition we all, including Joe Scarborough, learned in economics 101: the public good. As with all economics, there’s word play here so lets redefine to prevent smart people mis-defining out of convenience. A public good is a product or service that cannot be efficiently produced in the private sector, thus is the role of government. Fire departments, schools and national defense are 3 others.

Lawrence has had the benefit of some really tough interviews and circumstances in the last week, and as much yelling for sport that the guy does, he is proving capable of the right kind of humanity. Scarborough had a similar occurrence a few weeks back on torture, unexpectedly facing a victim just after party lining the ‘get them before they get us’ histrionics, but didn’t seem to feel the conundrum he faced with an equal amount of human compassion. But O’Donnell, covering for Olbermann while his father passes, spending time with Michael Moore (did you hear JS groan at the mere mention?) and doing this interview with the leukemia victim highlighted by the president yesterday in Ohio, humanized quite differently.

As a fan of lucidity, you live for the one brief second, when an expert tells you the unelectable truth. We don’t have a choice. We have to embrace single payer medical in our lifetime or the entire system will only be available to 20% of the population in as soon as 10 years.

All of this bluster in the 3000 pages (and growing) of how to prop up the dying current system is hopefully a very short term incremental band aid. But we have to start talking openly not about how to get to single payer, but how to make all the real solutions electable.

We have to pass this bill, not because it’s a short term win for the insurers, but because the real solution will never ever occur without first this intermediate step.

Probably the same with finance.

3) Deem and pass is the right method if available in the eyes of the population that’s sick of waiting for the inevitable. Even opponents of health care would rather that if it’s going to happen, we should probably try and get off floor of the legislature so that they can go back to work elsewhere.

Why would you want to vote 3 times on the same process? Why wouldn’t a vote for the fixes be the net effect of a post conference reconfirmation? Historians, Republicans, obstructionists, and alarmists the world over risk being seen as requiring an insurmountable standard here, and hypocritically so. Remember, you may think you have the high ground because some manual somewhere on parliamentary procedure tells you so, but you would be reading that rule book to the skeptical voter for their first time. So ‘they broke the rules you never heard of’ and ‘the rules seemed designed to fail’ will fight to the death, and only the passed bill and the will to get it there will remain.

Lucid thought number 3, and you heard it here first.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What’s Fun About Failure?

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 15, 2010


1) Tina Brown thinks that the elected officials about to fail regulating banks and medical care fail because the are incompetent. Not in an insulting way where they are stupid, just that the level of complexity and comprehension required to see that simplicity is the real answer is not readily available as a commodity to the pool of electable politicians.

In this scenario, the people we should be putting in charge are in fact unelectable. Imagine for a second Elizabeth Warren dressed up as Kay Bailey Hutchinson, or Dylan Ratigan trying to make nice with Wall Street donors. Imagine for a second Howard Dean, well, wait, that one doesn’t work.

As we path down the road towards fecklessness, this concept becomes even more important, as the newscaster-ization part of political candidates removes the people most likely to govern. In fact, in many local governments, this was realized and thus came the concept of the city manager, a guy who had less demands of kissing babies and more demands of the sewers working.

Dylan Ratigan thinks there will be a voter revolt. I’m not so sure. What would result? Some more Kucinich’s and Sanders’? The hybrid of the shared concept that the job is beyond the employed in our legislature, as shared between Dylan and Tina, is more the newest evolution of the Morning Joe consensus rather than either of their distinct theories.

There is also the distraction principle that Joe Scarborough brought up a few weeks back. You will never know if there is a Paul Volker level competency in your candidate if you spend 50% or more of the vetting process talking about purity tests and seceding from the union.

2) Nancy Pelosi ceded the public option in between today’s and last Friday’s show, and her opponent John Boehner did nothing to warrant the action. In fact, Boehner is really peaking in his appearance as the bent on obstruction do nothing that represents the people we all voted against in 2008. Like Romney, all we really have to do is give that guy a microphone to find out just how few ideas he has.

A Republican party that can’t be trusted to shrink government in a country that is already undertaxed to historic levels is in fact a non-entity. So who killed the public option? Was it really conservative people? Not really, in fact the Stupak’s and ultra conservative southern Democratic house representatives are more finding their lockstep as a result of election climates in their districts. They are Democrats, but no one ever counted on them for any whip count for this bill.

Someone at some point will have to be accountable for this. All indications continue to point that if the move doesn’t match the whip count, the fix is in. The fix likely comes from the administration. And the strategy is to create the false public perception that the ‘votes’ weren’t there, when we know otherwise.

So a year later, we are back to the ‘we tried hard’ charade.

Are you listening Mr. Obama? Trust is an issue amongst your most ardent 2008 and 2010 supporters. We voted for you to avoid the ‘insider’ feel of a Hillary Clinton regime, but you are actually governing as an ‘insider’ to a greater degree than we would have expected from her, in absolute defiance of your 18 months of self description otherwise prior to your election.

3) The eight o’clock panel was the best and brightest that we have, and that conversation could not have occurred with Joe Scarborough in the room. The fact that they don’t agree on the mechanics, the reality on the ground, not just divided by 2 but divided by 3, is astounding. Scarborough would have been a 4th division, mainly on platform grounds, and we would have had to sit through ‘we can’t afford it’ and ‘% of people don’t want this bill’, both of which when gone from the conversation point to their own obsolescence in the real debate.

Deutsch believes that Ratigan is unrealistic in any expectation of a voter revolt while he agrees that the fixes in the bill are bleedingly inefficient. Deutsch wants the bill to pass to be a basis of incremental reform, a strategy I support given the options, and explains it just that way. Ratigan is correct that the bleeding inefficiencies are present and instead of accepting, he wants to see the bill go down so that the government is forced into real reform. And O’Donnell is convinced that neither road is certain currently and that we are getting ahead of ourselves in having a postgame conversation about feckless when the outcome is still in great turmoil.

All three agree that the current outcome is diluted most towards outright failure by the interference of campaign finance on behalf of commercial interests.

Which bill are we talking about?

Every bill since 1982.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Be The Gauntlet

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 12th, 2010


1) Joe Scarborough asked Donald Trump a long state of the union question that mainly was a position paper indicting the President for the 86% disapproval of Washington, and when Trump answered the question, it ascended so far beyond the question, it’s as if it wasn’t there. The most amazing thing in the answer was rather than framing the reasons for the nations troubles on an ineffective Washington, Trump framed it on the Morning Joe shows inability to get obvious hardships prioritized on it’s show with it’s guests.

That my friends is the learning moment for the month. Morning Joe is a show about analysis, and we will talk about some of that analysis later, but fundamentally it’s a fair point to ask what can we do as opposed to what are they doing wrong. Maybe what we can do is demand a contract from a candidate, rather than complain about buyers remorse. Maybe what we do is move our money. Maybe what we do is demand natural gas powered cars and homes with dollar votes.

A funny thing happens when we as citizens revolt over the price of oil. The price goes down. A funny thing happens when Wal Mart wants to move into towns now. The town complains about the net effect of gross importation of cheap Chinese products, a de leveraging of wage support and benefits support, and a displacement of a community’s downtown district of locally based and produced goods and services.

We have learned over a 30 year span on both the China and oil fronts that the rules of Economics are a two way street. We can in the short term be seduced by single market pricing, but 30 years is enough for the average American to add in the social cost of some of these transactions as they happen.

At some point, and it may be upon us, the American people will realize they have two votes in this world, the one in November, and the one they do every day with their pocketbook.

2) Lawrence O’Donnell has been absent from this debate for some time. And today, he re emerged touting the same healthy skepticism that we have witnessed from him the entire time. ‘I don’t know how they do it’ is and has been Lawrence saying the voices of no will always trump the needs of progress. I think it’s a point of weakness for those of us who are on the side of progress to say ‘gosh, I hope we can prevail’. In fact, I think that ‘hope’ concept was actually the mistake made in the Obama campaign as opposed to the ‘change’ part. I don’t want to hope for anything.

The arcane set of circumstances that propel Lawrence’s doubts have nothing to do with the real world. They are parliamentary procedures. Rather than hope that we can somehow navigate these obstacles no one knows or cares about but the less than 2000 people who have spent a significant amount of time working in the senate in the last 10 years, I say, treat them as irrelevant, go forth as you have indicated and hit a new part on the map like Omaha beach.

The opponents of health care are citing cataclysmic verbiage like ‘nuclear option’ and employing any of the last vestiges of their fear arsenal at a frequency previously unseen. Their panic seems no longer to incite panic, now the majority of people realize its show business, and look at the panic as the old generation reluctantly ceding control. That is a badge of honor. That is progress.

Lawrence may deep down want progress, but his body language is reluctance to stray away from status quo. We can’t live that way, afraid defeat might be imminent thus we should circle the wagons. We have tried that, Lawrence has tried that. That is self defeat.

I find it remarkable that through all of the superiority granted to Mr. O’Donnell on this matter, warranted yes, it has allowed the Morning Joe show to again tout as the best inside knowledge a take with a fundamental flaw. Lawrence has for some unknown reason left out that the administration has a parliamentary trump card.

The Vice President is the ultimate authority on parliamentary procedure. Read it again. The Vice President is the ultimate authority on parliamentary procedure.

You can make fun of the Republicans for their blowing it on taxes as a defense, although I would argue that is another hollow hardship, because the ‘we cant afford to do it’ camps and the ‘we cant afford not to do it’ camps cancel each other out.

But you have to at some point stop listening to naysayers if your objective is otherwise, and hit the gas pedal to blow through the gauntlet, or you’ll never get off of the beach.

3) Joe Scarborough has this 53% don’t want health care thing out now, replacing the 75%, replacing whatever number he had before. And it’s still as useless now as it ever was.

Name an unpopular major governmental change that got this far? C'mon. You're from the south. Go get some civil rights poll numbers. Go get some Medicaid poll numbers. This is the silliest logic yet, but wait there’s more.

Tantrum prone Republicans, now exposed for short sighted obstruction as a platform, are now saying that ‘immigration reform is dead if health care passes’. Immigration reform is not very popular, but it will get done. Why? Because the change, while not popular, needs to happen to fix whats broken today in our civilization. Systematic denial that some part of our population belongs here, exists, adds to society, or is part of the solution going forward.

George Bush decided in his defeat on the matter to go the East Germany route and build a really big wall and go after the southern border like a giant piece of electoral red meat, when you know that he felt nearly the opposite. How’s the construction of that wall going? You have federal officers in Yuma, AZ spending their time allowing Arizona border cities to small town profiteer from the differences in laws regarding possession of minute amounts of marijuana, under the guise of border enforcement. Wellton, AZ gets 87 $400 convictions for single joints every Tuesday, keeping the $34,000 for itself, while the federal government spends $345,000 a week performing the traffic stops.

Yes, tangent, but yes, anytime you go with the over enforcement option, you forget that most of the snared are off duty minutemen. May be popular now, but the bills continue to come in.

Thats all for today, see you Monday.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Grasping At Straws

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 11th, 2010


1) The ad goes ‘I can tell when they’re lying’, but decorum prevailed when Senator Kirsten Gillibrand came on the show and said she hadn’t switched on gay marriage or gun control. She has obviously switched on both positions and used political doublespeak like ‘a widening of focus’ to cover both sides of an issue like gun control.

So there was your moment, and you had the trademark Joe Scarborough look on your face as you weighed your options, then nothing. I doubt that Chris Matthews or Jon Stewart would’ve let that pass. Who wins? Does decorum win, or make the viewer lose? Time will tell as I’m sure that your editors are furiously at work looking for then and now video so that you can blanket a future show with your take.

But politics is not gotcha on video, it’s the visceral in person resistance to getting bulldozed on an issue on live television. And the results are in.

2) I’m also not so sure that a paltry $13,250 is the equivalent of the Nixon tapes on this issue of State Senator Perkins obstructing charter schools on behalf of unions. I 100% agree with your take that obstruction is occurring and he is the likely source. But that amount of money is just not a palpable case for a smoking gun.

Also, this story and your rants about charter schools should have been better connected to the Kansas City school district story. Andrew Ross Sorkin makes a valid point that this sort of cost and budget catastrophe is the pain we are all enduring, seemingly invisibly, at the state level. You talk about attrition from district making draconian cuts, Ross talks about pervasive cuts everywhere, and then you talk separately about how there is massive demand for charter schools.

I honestly feel like you should be able to connect these issues better. Why not debate whether a giant cut like that facing Kansas City might actually be an opening for a charter system to fill those closed schools on a high demand basis? Why not debate that those opposing charter conversions face Kansas City’s reality by the virtue of their opposition?

My problem with Ross’ take and the Union and Senator Perkins and budgets in general, is there is no foresight that would create revenue streams, just bad management and then cuts at the end to balance bad budgets. By the time it’s cuts it’s too late. Somewhere along the way was an unduly prioritized dirty contract payment or privatization scheme that got paid, then the least protected people, teachers and children, are the cuts to equate.

I’m with you on charter schools, just don’t forget to turn over all the rocks.

3) This looking for meaning in when Nancy Pelosi knew about Rep. Massa is Joe Scarborough grasping at straws. It does the Republicans no good at all to go with “see, the Dems did it too” because it only highlights how bad it was in 2006, instead of making the Democrats stew in their own juices. Bad strategy, and then, you risk finding out that this case was very different, and the why is that Foley was preying on pages. Do you really want to relive that horror of horrors?

Chuck Todd basically told you that your strong misinterpretation of this timeline was going nowhere, you should probably listen to him.

All this while there was a mega scandal right in front of you. Why, when Obama starts taking earmarks out of the health care bill are you not asking if the administration will do a phase two of this process and remove sweetheart deals for pharma and insurers?

Ed Shultz asked openly last week if the fix was in, if the reason some of the anti insurance, anti pharma stuff like state lines and Canadian drug importation stayed out of this bill was by virtue of a back room administration deal. You have a giant opening on shows like today, and it befuddles the viewer to see that opportunity missed.

You could possibly find redemption in the fact that a stand alone repeal of health insurance anti trust exemption is out there. Don’t you think after all of the megaphone work on that issue that Morning Joe has done, that this bill deserves some coverage?

I do.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Balls, Swagger, Toyota, and Obama

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 10th, 2010


1) The Israel story was mishandled today by incomplete research. As important a story as it was, and the amount of time devoted to it, it’s an unfortunate circumstance that the crucial element of the story was missing from your description and thus all analysis void of that element seems misled.

Netanyahu was not even informed of the settlement decision or announcement to add 1600 East Jerusalem homes. He has a problem in Israel and it’s a all parties in power at once style of government. His Minister of the Interior is an ultra right wing pro settlement activist, and he ambushed the Biden visit not just to embarrass the VP but also the Israeli Prime Minister.

Most characterization I saw on your show depicted the entire Israeli government of ambushing Biden, and that is simply not accurate. Likely, this is a learning moment for the program, that even if you’re going in a different direction on a day's focus or programming, your staff should really be able to get one of your longtime trustworthy sources to analyze a fast moving situation so that you can maintain a leading analysis.

I attained my version of events the previous day from BBC World News, so there is no timeline challenge available explaining why these crucial details weren’t openly available.

2) Oh, Bill Bennett. I have so many friends that are just like you. You are trapped. Your great analytical mind is trapped by a sheer absence of humanity. Drug Czar, Education Secretary, and now Liz Cheney defender. At least that third part only victimizes a few lawyers who can defend themselves, rather than those first two where you victimize whole segments of the population.

Who on earth thinks that Bennett is at heart a ‘father knows best’ type of guy? If you ever wanted to picture what it would look like to have Rush Limbaugh actually in government, at least there is a living example. To have trusted this guy with the drug war or education is a Katrina level mismanagement.

Yea, he puts books out. But I don’t think even amongst the ultras out there anyone is going to trade in their Buckley tomes for this individual’s cynical mantra of detached hypocrisy.

3) This is not an easy connection, so there is no reasonable way to expect it from anyone, but the parallel between Toyota and Obama struck me today. Toyota has one of the best brands ever. They still do. Mika still wants to keep her cars. Erin Burnett thinks this is some conspiracy by domestic automakers to level the playing field and finds no numerical merit to the Toyota story.

But Donny Deutsch hits the nail on the head in that they have shown as little spine as possible in the face of crisis, and thus the public will always hold the brand in context of an inability to really lead. This is unexpected from this company. That it happened, that it wasn’t quietly fixed forever in 2007, that there was a real ‘Autogate’ not seen since the Ford Explorer or the Ford Pinto. This could have been solved and weakness at the helm with some questionable loyalty to it’s customers has made for an unnecessary meltdown.

Sound familiar?

We have long said that Obama has caused a vacuum of leadership throughout his first year that has made solvable situations blow up beyond anyone’s comprehension. Additionally, he had made deals out of the public eye but known the country over that bring into question his loyalty for the people who voted him into office. The results in the health care and financial reform debates are questionable in their people versus corporations effectiveness.

It’s a problem that no one saw coming a year ago, and the voter will always have this lack of manning up in crisis as a contextual part of all future votes. Take your pick from Toyota or Obama.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Of The Same

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 9th, 2010


1) If anything, we are lucky there were features today because of the lack of real news. I’m not a fan of features, but this was necessary today a) to explain away the unbelievable goings on in the Massa case and b) to be honest about the level of catatonic effect the news cycle can bring you.

Think about what the show didn’t talk about today. All that optimism stuff from yesterday: Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq…. It’s like it disappeared. Goldman Sachs, financial reform? It’s like it didn’t exist.

When those subjects are optional, it’s a statement that Morning Joe, the most powerful news show on television currently also feels powerless in the face of Washington reality.

When it is strikingly obvious that reform as Elizabeth Warren would have it is as likely as a Kucinich presidency, and the reform we are getting is double speak empowering the architects of our financial doom, we laugh catatonically.

It doesn’t matter that the laughter was in reference to locker room antics, it’s that we can only laugh at that, and cannot directly confront the less hopeful stuff except by hysterical proxy.

2) New drinking game: we’re so big we are on the television of the person we’re talking about or the place we’re referring to right now. Code name: closed circuit. It might be true, and that watershed moment when Axelrod couldn’t take it anymore last December is a chief proof of that theory, but it’s still the definition of ostentatious.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but try a little more of a glancing strategy than the “Mr. President, I’m Talkin’ To You” histrionics, and watch the effect grow. What you do when you go the closed circuit way, is you become the blogger you're taught to ignore. You become the parasitic attention grabber you’re meant to be superior to on the food chain.

Glancing strategy can be fun. Here’s a thing you could do in a glancing environment that’s equally confrontational and equally educational. Role playing. Ok, Sam Stein, you be the President, Chuck Todd, you be Rahm, Mika, Axelrod, Joe, McConnell, Pat, Boehner, even Willie, Gibbs, and you’ve got yourself a fun introspective analysis without the self serving holiness.

Take on a few subjects, hey, why not start with financial reform? You missed it today.

3) Is it a surprise to anyone that Liz Cheney played herself out? Or that Rahm is at death’s door? We are all so led on this stuff that we are weakest when we think we’ve got it figured out. That’s the nature of a strategy that corrects. Go get in the game, and even if it is not going that well, remember you still get to correct and it’s the post correction strategy that you close with.

Your opponent can only react, or guess.

We are at that spot right now, as the Obama people are absolutely redefining what works and what doesn’t, while the Republicans, as evidenced in John Boehner’s statement today, are really boxed into a more of the same strategy.

I don’t know what the administration or the Pelosi/Reid legislature are going to do to close, but all the prognostication in the last 30 days and going forward seems to me to be grasping at straws, and that includes McConnell, Boehner and Steele.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Precipice Of Victory

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 8th, 2010


1) Really a great job strengthening the lineup to go without Joe Scarborough today. In a first, Willie Geist moves to the JS chair with Mika still on set, and carefully walks the appropriate line between the features guy and the shows coordinator. Its sort of a role reversal where Mika gives up a lot of the coordination job and goes after the ideological high ground. This culminates in Willie leading the charge when Mika too runs off to other activity. In a word or two, it worked, surprisingly, and the show has even more tools to carry three hours than it did Friday.

This isn’t possible without 3 hours stints from Pat Buchanan and Norah O’Donnell. Mika appears comfortable and cognizant with this reality in that she actually hands off to Norah when she isn’t confident she will launch the best inquiry into a subject. I’m satisfied that will result in less meandering, because while it’s a 3 hour show, those 10 minute Youtube friendly segments can be a disaster without clutch questions early to define the debate.

Still, Pat isn’t Joe, and the show leans left when Joe is gone, but more than one viewpoint gets a consistent entry into most debates.

2) The Bai segment was particularly interesting in that it seems like we are really trying to find consensus on where progress will come from. We have spent time on lobbyists, the management of the Obama administration, and the irrationality of the voting population, but to sum up that it’s still the 535 guys in the legislature responsible for their own votes, legacy, response to voters, response to lobbyist, and behavior is an integration that seems not just appropriate, but next level consensus building.

We don’t often hear this type of guest defending the health industry’s right to affect legislation. Admittedly it was self-contrarian, but it’s still a refreshing bit of lucidity saying in a more advanced world there isn’t a ban on lobbying, just a realistic balance between progress and fairness that incorporates all stakeholders in a debate.

Information is so much more efficiently distributed at this point, that there is less of a threat that a politician can hide in a Berlusconi-esque world of effacing media. This process which drives the Fox News type outlets in our world, doesn’t take into account the Opencongress’ and the Wikipedia’s of the world that are fiercely bringing a C-Span type of information to a Google population.

In that kind of informational society, the voter is the editor. They can choose to listen to their ideology sermonized back to them, or they can seek out a lucid truth. They also are forced more and more to disclose on what basis did they come upon their ideology. Their church? Fox News? Jon Stewart? Rachel Maddow? Their union? Their husband or wife? Their employer? More and more, most of us prefer two or more sources and more and more of us prefer provable consensus. This probably stems from the instinctive knowledge that disinformation lives out in the open now more than ever, and before we invade Iraq again, we want to be sure we have access to our own Mr. X to double check the facts on the ground.

3) At risk of violating a principle that I hold in very high regard, the jinx rule, there has to be a little bit of optimism at this point that we are at the threshold of history. No, not because health care is about to pass, or that the Iraqi election is interesting, or that Pakistan is doing it’s part to turn extremism out, or that Iran is not able to effect trouble around it because of it’s domestic turmoil, or that even Mitt Romney is talking carbon tax. It’s the synthesis. The integration of those facts. Is there another 25 year hiatus from combat deployment coming? Will we have health services come to us? Will a fatwa against use of terrorism bring 96% of Islam into the global fold and progress the principle of an open global society?

Of course, there was some attempt to include financial reform in that today on the show. I’m definitely not there, but those other facts seem to be a drag on the ascent of the perception of the value of the gold Krugerrand today in the face of hollow financial reforms. The Euro isn’t ever going to be the same, the US financial reform is hollow, the Goldman’s of the world appear to have gotten away with it and don’t face any imminent clawback, which they clearly should.

But just using the Goldman example here, 9/11 perversely created a global war profiteer world that might be showing signs of subsiding, the health care bubble that currently artificially siphons money from sick people to Wall Street may be at it’s apex this winter and face a different set of prospects, and carbon emission has been an untaxed free for all for every American business for our entire history. Without those things, Goldman will have to find a new bubble to manipulate it’s proprietary siphon as a net result.

That one could say Haliburton is a stock that might have seen it’s best days, that Blue Cross will have to accept assigned risk patients at unprofitable premiums, and that Exxon and Sempra can’t cloud our skies while running green themed advertisements, those are the real set of benchmarks to underpin optimism today.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Big Leftist Apple

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 5th, 2010


1) It’s OK to agree with Suze Orman about too much time and effort being spent on health care, because it’s a correct assessment. Now, that may seem like a vote against the reform, but it’s not. It’s a vote for:

Just do the damn thing.

This all could’ve been done last June. Obama has grossly mismanaged every single thing on his plate because he has mismanaged this. That’s Suze’s argument, and it’s the correct one. There is an argument out there that if we had gone with the manner that will finally pass the bill this month, a year ago, that the bill a year ago would have been substantially more robust. That the crucial concept is not just sausage-making , but sausage fermenting. Over time, every sort of special interest that has time to reorganize before a thing can pass can dilute the thing, whereas after the fact they can only come to the table with compromise positions that require them to pay for any service to their special agenda somewhere, in order to be heard.

Simply put prevention is less costly than retraction or after the fact revision.

This idea fits neatly into Tom Friedman’s nice conjecture of ‘nation building’ referring for once to the US as opposed to some other place on the map. If we have been consistent on any one thing here it’s that we have watched as this administration has ceded the momentum to the opposition party on virtually every front, due only to mismanagement, not because they have a point anywhere. They don’t have a point anywhere, enter Tom Hanks, even Blanche Lincoln can wear an opposition purity test on her sleeve next to a “D”, how is that possible?

2) The good news in any of this self inflicted crisis is that the Republicans still are as bad as they were in 2008. They have not improved one bit, still read Rove like mantra, still dream of dominating not for good, just because. But bottom line, there is a second bubble and if you want to pop it, let the obstruction continue or worse, aid the obstruction by giving the right a legislative majority. They will prevent any meaningful financial reform, and you will actually get your chance to experience the apocalypse that was narrowly averted last year.

To be fair, I cannot confidently say that any amount of momentum for Obama would have better strengthened his work on financial reform, because he has so distinctly employed the architects of the disaster as his reformers, leaving me guessing as to his true motives. Feel free to check my story with Elizabeth Warren. I’m left to contemplate that it’s not a choice of one side with pro middle class solutions versus one side blindly with commerce, it’s a choice of ‘enemy of the middle class’ and ‘corrupt beyond any ability to efficiently aid the middle class’. The corruption guys appear to be in shaky charge currently.

Astoundingly, I’m even suspicious that when the legislative elections get truly underway this fall, that the Democrats will even have the wherewithal to call out their opponents. This might even allow the Republicans to get away with a David Copperfield level of illusion where Reps actually say they are more of a friend to the middle class than their opponents.

Is there a more disturbing concept? That the American people might actually recreate their shell game gullibility of 2004 in this legislative election and declare for all the world to see that they are fully capable of voting for the Brooklyn Bridge?

3) I was in Brentwood in the early 90’s driving from a friend’s house when I saw the aftermath of a minor car accident. Brentwood looks like any neighborhood on the nice side of town in any town, but because it’s in LA the $300k houses cost $3 million. Even then it was 5 times what it would be in Peoria. But it was with a great dose of surreality that I looked at the two homeowners who had emerged from their homes to aid the confused driver on her way. Then next door neighbors: Tom Hanks, Jim Belushi. Arms crossed, confused looks on their faces channeling ‘how on earth did you manage to do this at 5 mph?’.

Two guys who came from Normaltown, USA and used modest appeal to make logic defying legends out of themselves, and who even in the face of endless spotlight, brought Peoria with them wherever they were, whatever they were doing.

Most of these guys don’t wind up this way. Most of these guys are crazy. Crazy in the can’t finish a sentence kind of way. Try picturing Akroyd or Walken or Hoffman in the same scene, and I have, it doesn’t exist.

I share the cast’s immortal opinion of Band Of Brothers, I can’t wait for The Pacific, and Tom Hanks has found a new level of communication that is revolutionizing a town normally bent on a race to the bottom. Back in ‘92, I caught a brief glimpse of why.

More of that.

That’s all for today, see you Monday.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two Parties One Failure

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 4th, 2010


1) I remember where I was when Mark Foley helped the Democratic party seem like they possessed the high ground, and oh how I long for those days. The entire institution has deteriorated from every angle and amongst all participants precipitously so since then. Today, I thought the fear based cartoons were the least bad of the day’s clown parade. I thought it was actually a worse day for Democrats, as they have ceded morality entirely in this news cycle.

I also found it ironic that it was an appearance day for Tim Kaines. This guy is in charge of the boiled down message for the Democratic party. What is a guy to do? Tell the truth? It certainly seems like his leadership is meant to evoke doublespeak as a mantra. A mantra that flows through the White House. And that’s a problem.

It’s a problem because another simultaneous act was another Obama speech with that forcefulness that used to mean uniting lucidity. Now it seems like it is a tool with an on-off switch. I still feel like the Obama speech made logical single truth based sense, but combined with all of the stuff above, the recipe is for dilution and doublespeak.

2) On health care, I don’t see the hypocritical equivalence of the Obama speech and the McConnell reaction. It seems that McConnell is in fact just plain saying two different things out of convenience, because his point isn’t progress it’s status quo that he has no intention of replacing with any other issue specific progress, new day, new way of saying no.

Conversely, you could make the point that Obama is guilty of nothing more than strategic correction in the name of progress, knowing his product is the only hope for a move forward on the issue in our lifetime. This is a correction the American people would hope he would make, rather than accept failure at the brink citing parliamentary design flaws as his excuse.

My great hope isn’t to parade around this health bill as a final solution to our need for reform, but that once in place it will be the province of the Al Franken’s and Howard Dean’s of the world as the carrier they can improve over time. There is a laundry list of improvements that can occur with the bill. Those improvements can’t exist without something to ride on.

3) Tort reform is also part of the bill. It isn’t the meaningful tort reform that Joe Scarborough is asking for, but it’s a starting point. I fail to see the cost justification of all the air time devoted to tort reform, which gets really spirited questioning from panelist after panelist, but continues to be JS’s Sally Struthers moment.

When it doesn’t have any equitable merit in the argument, it must be an obstruction or delay tactic. Remember, the Republicans aren’t going to vote for the bill, but the starting point for tort reform was in there anyway. Any further conversation on the matter as it pertains to this bill needs to come with some level of voting participation, otherwise wait until your cycle, and thank the Democrats for getting you started.

That’s right, the Republicans would never initiate health care reform. And, they will never repeal the reform. But if the legislature of the United States becomes Republican this fall, thanks to this bill, the Republicans can employ all of their improvements to the cause. Tort reform, medicare fraud enforcement, repeal the anti trust exemption, state lines, portability, and any other encumbrances to a free open market for national private health coverage.

I sincerely wish that 90% of all money paid to a health care insurer went to health care as opposed to a debatable 70% currently. It’s debatable because it’s a cat and mouse figure with enforcement tantamount to mortgage fraud enforcement in 2005. There are two paths to achieve 90% flow through. One is by government mandate, opening up an enforcement branch of government that would not be self-sustaining and result in inferior results towards the 90% goal.

The other is competition. If you want the last laugh against insurers, make them look at the airline industry, or the cell phone industry. Tell them in a hyper competitive market with multiple producers, and information they cannot collude to adjust, profit (the bellwether of flow through) moves to zero.

The airline industry really has an envy issue with the credit card industry. Man those contract tricks that let the credit card firms bilk customers for fees and fines, if bag charges could be that way, they might get some guaranteed money above the competitive wasteland. But they can’t, because in their business, smart consumers simply boil fees into their ticket price, with some travel sites doing it for you, the result, competition on final price wins.

We now possess the level of information technology to create a personal health profile for our family, to possess our medical records digitally and to shop our health needs to the penny competitively. We can even enforce emergency room and ambulance pricing, by having an alternative ready beforehand as opposed to an unnegotiated bill afterwards.

The Republicans can get a lot of this done, if my party can’t, in their 2 or so years in power starting this fall, if the Democrats continue to Carter themselves like they did today.

That’s all for today, see you Monday.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Make Romney Talk, Problem Solved

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 3rd, 2010


1) Panderer in waiting Mitt Romney comes out of his ice cave and shares his memoirs and evolution, and it’s an ammunition dump. I’m sorry this is not going to go well, so in the interest of not leaving a permanent scar, I'll just go issue by issue.

“We are empowering terrorist with our current president’s rhetoric abroad”. Rather than responding, just imagine the alternative, which was the Bush adventurism of two mismanaged unfunded wars, and scorched earth economic globalization to make the transfer of wealth principle we are hurting ourselves with domestically, a global policy.

“Stop spending on the China credit card”. Now would that be before or after you allowed the middle class to enter 25% real unemployment by refusing to use deficits to defeat economic catastrophe? And where in your parties history has this discipline been evident?

“Hold China’s feet to the fire about Iran, with economic consequences”. That’s Romney code, so you better get good at it. China will be given the keys to the premium empowering relationship with the Revolutionary Guard regime, and buy Wal Mart stock, because cheap slave labor products will flood our consumer goods market as a reward.

“Health care should never be free for those with the ability to pay”. You will never get Romney to side with you in your health care in this lifetime. The Massachusetts plan is an unfunded nightmare. Basically, healthcare is a micro tax and another layer to the tax system that feeds more off of the middle class than anywhere else.

Honestly, I did not mind the part of Romney’s speil that the consumer should be empowered at the price point level in his healthcare decisions. But for me, trust will always be an issue with Mitt, and I can’t tell the policy from the carrot in any of his platform.

2) Mort Zuckerman couldn’t talk himself into being a busboy for New York. I just can’t blame him. Who wants the gig, and maybe he just wanted to send his party a message. Although he would have run as an independent, it would have been a ‘Bloomberg’ independent, which is a protest against an undisciplined Republican party.

His message is powerful, Bloomberg is a shining symbol of what our politics should look like, e.g. with the campaign money influence removed. But that’s another issue.

The real issue is that a mayor is an executive, and the Senator is on the varsity football team. The Senate caucus, there are only two, and there was discussion of trying to wedge that issue open, seems like it would outlast any individual in a way dramatically departed from the New York mayor. Thus you move to another city and disrupt your life just to find out that 1 in 100 is nowhere near executive power or effect.

It would be easier for a guy like Mort to effect change in the Senate by fixing the campaign money problem, or reducing the level of bought media distortion by his personal array of levers.

3) Why didn’t Morning Joe ask Richard Haas about Dan Senor? One of my favorite things is getting Richard Haas to riff on domestic issues. He is a human laser, and lines like “breeds populism or worse” cement that view.

Richard seemed to want to point the conversation towards the accurate reflection that the fiscal nightmare of New York and California is the next show to drop. Someone said yesterday that California is the next Greece. That’s cheap commentary, but still indicative that the stimulus effect on the states went unnoticed thus isn’t politically repeatable, when the shortfall next time around will be exponentially higher. Look all around you, and all the signs are that of the double dip, but make no mistake, the states will lead the way down.

Now mix that with Romney’s ‘this stuff should be handled at the state level’ mantra from #1 above. Wait, that doesn’t reconcile. Ever since Clinton’s 100,000 police unfunded national mandate, we have heaped governing, actual governing, on the states, while the federal government spends its time transferring wealth. Go Rick Perry, go Ron Paul, step into the obvious void, but realize it is not a solution. The states cannot do any better than the federal government at provision of services.

In fact, the schools, police, and health care should be re pyramid-ed to be the federal governments responsibility before they spend a penny on contract payments elsewhere. Think about it, and this isn’t limited to the federal government. You see Bunning axe-ing highway workers at the same time you see Arne Duncan saying let’s hire new motivated teachers, yet the opposite of Duncan’s premise is occurring. The younger teachers are paycheck to paycheck and expect to get fired first. In that environment, they lose all of the service career motivation and start their day with looking to move into sales, probably in sub prime mortgage, or pawnshops.

This phenomenon is because in the pecking order of expenditures, the people we need the most are the least protected, because all of the transfer of wealth stuff, the privatization contracts, the subsidy to private industry deals, are contract payments that are undelayable and unmanageable and thus not on the chopping block in a fiscal crisis.

Bunning has a valid point, but I don’t see anyone looking to grab that $10 billion for the unemployment extension from clawbacks of $23,000 toilet seats buried in defense contracts. Waste, fraud, abuse and only then teachers and citizens.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Populism Takes A Fall

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 2nd, 2010


1) Bravo for Harold Ford Jr. He could have been another in a long line of New York enigmas, but saw that as his fate in time to not have it unfold that way. It’s not a clean break, as is evidenced in the tough worded Gillibrand campaign reaction, but a break nonetheless, and possibly accomplished something for the people in the process. If there is any merit to the competitive force creating a necessary edge in the Gillibrand camp theory, her camp has really run with it.

It doesn’t get any easier, with Mort Zuckerman attempting to be Mike Bloomberg II, ‘this time the US Senate is toast’. That message has some merit. I think the way to Mort’s achillies heel is his prone-ness to distractions like the perpetual Israel crusade. It might show that Mort is human and subject to having complexities dilute functionality like the rest of us.

But Harold, although he was still in that bad guy Robocop mode this morning, is back and has a bright future probably in Washington as part of the inevitable revamping of the Obama administration. That seems like an obvious move, but don’t take that as any support from the middle for such a move, as he would represent the wrong side in the Wall Street checks and balances conversation. And didn’t the wrong side just win another battle against the people’s business yesterday with the poaching of another senior Treasury executive by the lobby community. And didn’t exultant lobbyists issue a press release about how they own that much more of the White House as a result?

4 straight administrations poached by Cypress?

2) Melissa Harris-Lacewell will need to learn that it’s not nice to use those pesky articulate facts and comprehensive strategies of popular division to unseat Joe Scarborough as the people’s non wedge Republican. I mean cat’s in Utah reacted like an earthquake was imminent as the defensiveness bubbled out of Scarborough’s every pore.

Lets line this up so the record is straight.

Mr. Scarborough trots out a populist friendly concept that wedge issues get in the way of vetting leadership qualities. That people use a person’s stance on Abortion to decide their vote rather than whether they might be effective at the complex business of running government.

Melissa comes back with the national strategy by the Republican party in the south spanning 3 decades to use those issues to separate middle class southern whites from their own economic well being using the church and abortion as the chisel.

Mr. Scarborough at this point annexes the conversation like the US annexed Hawaii, claiming even a gay couple would prioritize the economy over their equality, oops. I couldn’t have shone a light on the hypocrisy better myself. But wait there's more, Mr. Scarborough pressed forward that too much focus on social issues is the likely cause of the Post-Katrina governmental failure. That’s a nice way of saying it’s your own fault, you victims with convictions.

Let’s not mince words here, I agree with the premise of Mr. Scarborough’s argument, that we should look past wedge issues and choose the leader most capable of governing, a task beyond the complexity comprehension of most Americans. However, trust is an issue. Whether it’s Senate versus the House or Joe Scarborough and Mitt Romney making campaign promises, there is not enough faith in words to believe that the resultant action won’t be erosion of Roe v. Wade and an ignoring of American women’s strong support of the principles of the Supreme Court decision, once the pols are in office and drunk with power. So unless you want to make a legally enforceable written contract with the women of the United States, or the gay married couples of the United States or with Charles Darwin, forgive the American people for not believing in your ability to separate yourself from this issue. Forgive the American people for deciphering the code of “it’s not a federal issue” as a mantra of repeal Roe v. Wade.

And that jab by Harold about Melissa’s support of the health care bill being in contradiction of women’s reproductive rights is all the proof you need that unless it’s in writing, governing in spite of the wedge issue becomes impossible.

3) Senator Jim Bunning is doing the Democratic party a favor. He is poster-izing hypocrisy, obstructionism, and by the fact that he follows Alabama Senator Shelby so closely in a transparently self serving move, he shows the entire Republican party as lockstep in opposing progress or governing, all for political gain.

There is no doubt that the fundamental point that Bunning is opportuning upon is relevant. We can't afford to keep charging things on the governments credit card. But you need to have decided that when you were in power to be valid. And the fact that dime store pundits across the country can name 5 points of outright playing both sides of an issue out of political convenience just can’t bode well for a party trying to represent itself as a better manager.

Although early on, it was a watershed moment for Morning Joe. Joe Scarborough came out on the right side of this issue, but left little doubt that he knew there were repercussions of joining the chorus of loud bipartisan criticisms of what is essentially the current central strategy of the Republican party. You will look great in the next "Don't Obey" poster, sir.

You know that the RNC is furious with Bunning (and Shelby). This is the equivalent of the Harry Reid quote factory from a few months ago. It gives people with some momentum a pause. But there is a problem here that these guys want to retire, some of them are already starting their great twilight, and the RNC has zero ability to control the Decemberist Senators, and there are a lot of them.

Thats all for today, see you tomorrow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Month, Same Madness

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for March 1, 2010


1) This whole situation with Charlie Rengel stinks, but the judge, jury and executioner take by the Morning Joe show seems like a hatchet job, even if they wind up being right on all of their analysis and predictions. An analysis that it looks bad is one thing, but not affording a person due process ultimately dilutes your punitive options. If your ultimate goal is to remove Mr. Rengel from the House Ways and Means Committee, you might want to rethink your strategy, before you create the technicality or the opposite reaction sympathy that prolongs his tenure.

The other part of this story that seems to have gone uncovered in the land of anecdotal evidence is just when Mr. Rengel and Mrs. Pelosi should be hiding, they’re not. Charlie Rengel made an announced ‘perp walk’ on Friday to give opportunity to the entire House press corps for their stories about him. Nancy Pelosi did not back away from any appearances knowing she would be dogged by this sort of meandering justice.

Here, I’ll do it too, he probably does need to look for new work or retire. But, I’m on his side of the aisle and it comes from a different place than a group of individuals hatcheting out their frustrations prematurely by about three processes.

2) Second in the gratuitous hatchet Morning Joe show, was the John McCain hack fest. By the 8:30 segment, the show decided it was more important to skip a financial segment to get a 5th hack at the ‘duped’ line by McCain. Again, I don’t disagree with the assessment that anybody of reasonable intelligence should have been adequately able to predict the money flow here. But you have missed an opportunity for ascension on this and that is the danger of three hours of instinct and anecdote where the in depth analysis should be.

Over the weekend George Soros joined the latest Matt Taibbi take which has centered around the Swedish treatment of it’s 1992 banking situation as superior based on forensically available information, to what we wound up doing at the behest of Paulson and Geithner.

That Swedish plan had the banks briefly nationalized to ensure banking stability, while renegotiating a path back toward privatization with the necessary alterations to the regulatory system and a simultaneous interactivity with the middle class occurring alongside.

The chief point anyone could make here in the US is that we got taken by a 3 page bailout with no terms leaving the term sheet entirely in the possession of the banks we were rescuing. The results are obvious that as they earned their way out of crisis, the US financial industry supported no other segment of the economy except by the virtue of their not being closed.

Where this gets back to Joe, Mika and guests is that you have again reduced an important, horrible situation like the choices faced by John McCain in 2008 to unrealistic algebra. His remorse is less about the bait and switch by Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner, than about the fact that many believe there was a better option, just not better for Citibank and Goldman Sachs, and he feels duped because some conflicts of interest at the highest level prevented the government from taking the right path at a crucial moment. You have missed that zeppelin in the pursuit of a cheap canned analysis, and you need to do better.

3) Third is the health care debate that deservedly permeates everything at this point. Again, same as points 1 and 2 above, I agree with all of the points made: the junk in the bill is awful, shameful and a direct result of Obama doing what we hated about Republicans, there are great small fixes coming from the Republican side (although JS mentioning tort reform first is grossly out of order), and Democrats have mismanaged their opportunities to a historic extent.

But where the show goes fatally off the track is it’s misinterpretation, or misrepresentation of opportunity. When a Republican implies that they want to start over with a blank page, they are lying because they historically have never initiated nor will they ever initiate health care reform. Only a Democratic majority will option health care to it’s agenda. It’s the way of the world.

When the Democrats get health care done, it will be the true beginning of the incrementalist approach. We wont get any meaningfully incremental health care concepts done stand-alone, they have to be improvements to or reactions to an omnibus bill. And as I laid out for Joe Scarborough months ago, now is the time for our generation, because it takes 15-30 years to get the stars aligned to put such a sweeping measure on an agenda in this country.

So when I hear incremental, when I hear start over, when I hear better off without the bill (my own take on the Senate version as is), I do so knowing full well that fatal is the right word above, because it’s a generationally permanent death to health care reform. This is our only real chance to get the long necessary process started. Look at it from all walks of life, Warren Buffet called our broken health system a tapeworm on American business trying to compete internationally, the middle class is on its way from having it to not having it at all, and the lower class is a cold away from bankruptcy.

Who doesn’t need reform, despite wickedly irrational calls from the populace otherwise?

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.