Friday, July 30, 2010

There Is A Lot To Talk About

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 30th, 2010


1) There are two distinct realities in irreconcilable conflict in the Arizona standoff. There are a probably 102, but the others are hierarchically beneath the main two. First, you cannot do a bad job of enacting and enforcing laws for two decades then wake up one day and declare the quid pro quo that your created over, and that each person invited into this country by the conditions you created are now criminals. Those people are victims. Those people are coming to the US to work because there is a demand for their labor.

We are 100 percent making the situation worse by having these business as usual laws that don’t make any sense, are not reality based, and there to openly flout. Think about it: the 55 mile an hour speed limit, the marijuana situation, underage drinking, you can’t go 10 feet in this country without a law that is so far beyond enforceable that to enforce it creates even greater problems which conspire to drain the economy, the workforce and the prospect for growth all beyond repair. We have a nation that chooses which laws they can abide by today based on a cost benefit analysis, the migrant worker just happens to have less rights available to them and is thus easier to pick on.

Second, we have a real need to create a national economic understanding where all of this illogic currently resides, because with each day that goes by, the living wage that Americans depend on is eroded one construction job at a time. This isn’t about dishwashers, field workers, or Burger King. Those jobs do not pay a living wage, they are jobs for people that can only hope to supplement a living wage coming from elsewhere, or they are poverty work. But the construction jobs, the meat packing facilities, the textile industry those jobs were able to pay a living wage, a wage that would keep a roof over a families head, provide health coverage, and a minimum of normalcy. Those jobs are being affected by the pool of migrant workers. That is a very bad thing in this economy because so many people have been tossed out of their chosen profession and are in need of a transitional living wage. In normal economic periods, people who opt to not complete college, people who need a professional existence despite not having a normal professional aptitude could look to these businesses to find a living wage. In desperate times, finding an illegal alien in the position that could keep you in your house, and finding that position now pays $11 an hour less because of access to that labor pool is a disaster.

Arizona’s attempt to solve the issue on it’s own seems like cave man drawings to most of us. The 55% of people who support the law don’t really support the law, they just happen to be in places across the country that just spent their first decade with guest labor taking jobs in formerly living wage industries. They know this has to stop, and are really, really angry that they have found yet another part of this country attempting to operate without effective governing.

This is a dangerous situation because now you’re hitting the everyman US citizen where it really hurts. The money saved by having migrant farm workers working in US agriculture was an abstraction to most US citizens, that 50 cents a head saved at the grocery on lettuce is hard to grasp as cause and effect. But in a construction industry already rocked by economic circumstances, competing with people who weren’t there 5 years ago for those jobs is bound to create boiling frustration. For good reason. If the results are states enact things that remind you of the segregated south or the Japanese internment, part of that shame rests in Washington. And if there is an irreconcilable difference in an area in need of good governing, do you think the current congress is capable of overcoming that, or will they yet again irrationally just say yes to both sides and make matters worse?

2) It was to my great dismay to see the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense holding a press junket to attack the WikiLeaks people. That ‘blood on his hands’ line was reprehensible and seemed like shooting down of the first order. The dismay stems from witnessing two people who don’t seem particularly ready to adapt to the new way of the world, where reporters won’t tolerate murdering reporters and will not abide by any military muzzling of video and facts on the ground.

This seems to me to be the two guys in charge of the military of the United States possessing a blind spot for all to see, including the enemy. The result of this negative optic, one would hope, will be a consensus exit from the region of expeditionary forces in the next 12 months. Any separation from that path has to be seen as old world military attempting to self-serve.

The WikiLeaks thing was meaningless except as a volume enhancer for the people wondering whether Obama has the military under control. We wrote off the McChrystal thing pretty fast, without really asking the question of control. Now with the White House racing to support the military in a reaction out of scale to the value of the leaks, I wonder if observers are rethinking the control issue.

Let’s not get lost in the court marshalling the leak culprits, and look for detail showing the evolution of the military. If this means one fewer pregnant woman is killed while flying innocently in South America, one fewer reporter along with every single person standing within 20 feet is mowed down by a helicopter in a scene that looked more like culling the populations than protecting servicemen, if one fewer Afghan citizen is allowed to die under a veil of illegal secrecy, if the military stops assuming classified means buried in terms of its self policing, we will likely have less Pat Tillman situations along side a better humanitarian record.

3) Rangel has left the building. He has shown to be in absolute denial of his circumstances. There is a whole new world out there, and it will not allow obstructionists to hide or cheaters to get away with it. I keep thinking about Rostenkowski and am a little disappointed that no one is doing a compare and contrast between these two situations.

But this isn’t about Rangel. Every time a thing dies another is born. As Charlie Rangel walked his career into a bright light one final time, it wasn’t to soft poetic music it was to the shrill scream of a young New York Congressmen named Anthony Weiner. Weiner has brought some element of lucidity back. And he has brought a passion that threatens to end the stand off as business as usual in the legislative branch. The real debate isn’t Boehner versus Pelosi. The real debate is Weiner versus Ryan.

Take your pick of subjects, immigration, health care, financial regulation, or the economy. You get the feeling that Weiner and Ryan could actually solve these issues in a bipartisan manner if given the opportunity. That opportunity of course will never come, but to at least know the answer is resident in the hall at a minimum provides the voter with a bellwether for progress in his or her own district.

Howard Dean is out of government. Joe Scarborough is out of government. Where are the pragmatists in the room? For the most part there aren’t any, there are several pretend pragmatists who leave their agenda behind like a script when the camera turns off, but for the most part Ryan and Weiner are a small minority surrounded by political machinery attempting to milk the old world legislative chicanery for all it’s worth while it still exists. But take it from someone in the record business, or the construction business, don’t ever think how it is now has any permanence, because sea change can be just one megatrend like 24 hour coverage split 538 ways away.

Mr. Rangel and Mr. Weiner appear to be showing that metamorphosis happening.

That’s all for today, see you Monday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Line Up The Other 999 Guys

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 27th, 2010


1) It’s an interesting summarization of the Democratic prospects for the mid term elections that Morning Joe can go on about the debate between Charlie Rangel and the House Democratic caucus for an hour. How do you think you will lead the House of Representatives next year if one of your most senior members is holding the election hostage for personal gain? He is putting his exit legacy before the prospects for Democrats holding the house. He has the votes to be elected in his district even if he wasn’t breathing, so close elections of others in his caucus are irrelevant to Mr. Rangel.

That is the story of the transition Democratic party. Back when this stuff was out of public view, save the margin of people who bookwormed the Washington Post, this kind of politics was what you needed to do to keep your party intact, keep your district strong like a small kingdom. Now that the fallout is shared amongst the entire body, it’s the opposite of what is needed to be done, and that transition is lost on Charlie Rangel. It is not lost on the voter, and while Charlie can hold his district hostage, he does it at the expense of guys like Tom Perriello, and apparently a generation ago that was ok, which is all that Charlie knows.

2) The conversation attempted to recapture yesterdays glory on Afghanistan and Pakistan, with little resultant success. It actually seemed like they knew they were just not going to get it back so the effort was moderate to token, a rehash of what everyone not named Zbigeniew said yesterday.

Ari Fleischer channeled Rudy Giuliani like a pro, adding a center right fight song to Buchanan’s outlier right positions, but you need an audience, and a dialogue and there was none. Richard Haass (I need to go back and add that “s” for the last year) got his chance to seem Zbig, and found out what happens when someone else already put their flag up, that it’s a race for second place at this point.

Our protagonist then joined the cast from afar and threw his newly minted post-Brzezinski version of AfPak in, to predictably little effect.

What should have happened? First off, the talking points should have been forced to bounce off of tape of Mr. Brzezinski’s AfPak theory of relativity from yesterday, but that tape was missing. It felt like the strategy was to give Haass the chance to recreate it, but when that didn’t happen, there was no plan b.

Second, Mika needs to know when to do what she’s good at, and today that could have been her contacting the guests on her show with a challenge that they were not saying anything new or advancing the conversation. Mika has the ability to get a conversation to a ‘what now’ sensibility, but for whatever reason she allowed this conversation to regress to the mudbath it became today.

Third, if Barnicle wants to be more than the cranky poet, he shares Mika’s responsibility from #2 above as a failsafe. Today, to put it in baseball terms, it was Barnicle being Barnicle, which means he droned his same and similar take from the last 6 months and could not be an impetus.

The bottom line is the advance of the conversation for today should have been, are we overreacting? Do we have a template that allows the Afghanistan conflict to move to the rear view mirror in the next 12 months, do we have an obligation to spend these next 12 months cleaning up what 8 years of mismanagement caused, or were those 8 years actually appropriate action given what doesn’t work as strategy in Afghanistan that might have worked in Iraq. If so, how is the policy shift even possible if you kept the Defense Secretary from the last administration?

We are on the right path, you don’t have a light switch for Afghanistan, it takes a reasonable amount of time to exit and Obama has told all parties he will be out of Afghanistan with expeditionary forces in 12 months, reserving the right to keep a reactionary force ad infinitum, which might’ve been all that was ever warranted.

5 experts, no dice.

3) Mika did drive one conversation all the way to critical mass today, and it was like watching cockroaches scatter. Ken Feinberg was forced to acknowledge that he optioned to not identify high value targets in the over compensation of Wall Street scandal. He went further saying that it was an option that he didn’t completely research the boundaries of, he just made a practical judgment. Mike Barnicle, smartened from Harold Ford Jr.’s pratfall yesterday, camouflaged his horror knowing his summer party circuit would be severely infringed upon if that high value target list found daylight. But no amount of camouflage could completely conceal Ken and Mike were part of an ‘Old Boys’ network and that possibly Mika asking the obvious was an unexpected genesis.

What we need now is with Feinberg’s template, that Julian Assange makes a ‘maps to the stars homes’ for the eastern seaboard. No I don’t want class warfare, red herrings, I want to continue to ratchet up the pressure for the clawback conversation. What happens on the way to the clawback versus pitchfork debate is a lot of capitulation. Because lets face it, billionaires on Wall Street and their lawyers are impenetrable by contract but the most cowardly class of individuals you will ever meet if they see a squeeze of any sort coming.

Capitulation might mean voluntary programs from any affected company to breathe life into the middle class. If the choice is these types of programs, or income redistribution, and you had the income, what would you choose? Don’t say that is high minded fantasy either, go back and check the price of gas in the US every time a Republican wants to get elected. Something tells me if mortgage forgiveness ever found equitable platitude standing, it might seem like forgiving those already sunk losses might be an easy choice for a frightened capitalist.

Mika, say it with me, clawbacks. That’s where your question leads, and your colleague Dylan Ratigan can tell you all about it. You may need a translator. Or, you could call Matt Taibbi, but he flat out uses the word pitchforks in a sentence daily.

Don’t look at anyone on your panel to join you, they are part of the 999 guys brought in by Jeff Immelt to slow the story down, not the 20-30 guys who won’t stop until daylight shines on all of us equally.

Too bad you don’t have another dad named Nassim Taleb.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Dad Knows Everything

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 26th, 2010


1) Is it just me or was the self editing of the Scarborough take before and after Zbigniew Brzezinski’s segment gargantuan? Joe Scarborough declared war on all of Pakistan at approximately 7:05 AM EST, then Brzezinski called all pundits who describe all of Pakistan as the enemy dangerous for their lack of dimensional understanding. Then Joe Scarborough came back on the show after Mr. Brzezinski had left and claimed they had agreed all along.

Brzezinski showed a 360 degree view of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Iran, Russia, China, Israel, and Saudi Arabia that contained each of their inter-connections. No one else aside from maybe Richard Haas with an Ipad could possibly have done that. Maybe it was unfair to Scarborough, who deserved to have his opinion evolve given the watershed of thought brought by Brzezinski. I just would have preferred to have it be more honest, with Scarborough using his own comeuppance as a teaching moment for all Americans trying so desperately to understand what we’re facing.

That’s right, what we’re facing. If we are spending all this money, blood and treasure over there, why should it be so hard to arrange and prioritize all the facts? Why can only one guy out of a thousand potential guests be able to adequately explain what’s going on? And why does it seem that the only reason Morning Joe is relevant or dominant on this issue is that the co anchor is related to that one guy who takes the time to explain what our reality in that region is?

Is it possible that there are interested parties out there that want this information to remain scarce? Is it possible, if you follow the money, that we are only actually accessing this logical path by accident, but money would have otherwise lined up the other 999 pundits to dilute the issue prior to any possible crystallizing moment?

There must be a reason for the lack of clarity here somewhere. But the persons out there nudging the conversation towards it’s logical center are heroes. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is among those people who peel away the scab now and again. When I see Democratic administrations use the “put American lives in danger” red herring in the face of this kind of activity, it moves beyond the hypocritical pale you would normally have labeled a Republican response, it moves into a post partisan ‘who is left to trust’ zone.

Zbigniew Brzezinski talked about this a little bit today, but from a distance. He talked about the dangerous progression of policy in Afghanistan that started in the early Obama speeches, into a nuanced tightrope of a US national policy last December, and now into a space where the policy is dictated by ‘events on the ground’. The summation of this path, said Brzezinski, is that Obama has ceded control to the military. The conflict of interest in having the military running this war is what Assange is talking about. Obama’s speeches in Turkey and Egypt were about a new American accountability, one that has re-vanished in 20 months.

Assange, for his pursuits, is targeted in the US with arrest in connection with the last WikiLeaks project that showed a US helicopter mowing down tens of Iraqi’s for no apparent reason, and has been forced by the certainty of his eventual arrest by our government, to release all the information he has prior. He wants to be sure that the people who might hope to contain damaging information have to continuously remain accountable. His arrest would be catastrophic for American foreign policy.

2) Before the fireworks concerning the WikiLeaks situation got underway, there was another quasi-scuffle early when Harold Ford tested out a pro-Bank of America sound byte. It didn’t go well. Ford wanted to make the point that the big banks paid back the TARP money and should be credited for making the US taxpayer and the US Treasury whole.

When you have Pat Buchanan lunging out of his chair at you and you are pro-commerce, it is not a good day in lobby land. Ford made what amounts to the classic ‘this little sliver of the story is the whole story – the end’ attempt. It’s a great tragedy that any credibility that he may have possessed left today, and that he chose to try and airbrush out the zero interest fed window loan direct to T-bills for profit scandal that will be in history books everywhere in 25 years. Harold also got called out on the AIG 100 cents on the dollar windfall scandal, one that will be in the same history books, and in his hasty back pedal admitted those derivative repayments probably shouldn’t have been at full value.

So, Harold, it’s just you and Brian Moynihan at lunch later today, and you’re reviewing how it went, you made Bank of America look like it wanted to move on, the TARP signified the end of the bad part of the financial crisis, that the tax free windfalls from the AIG bailout and the Fed window were deserved riches, and the future is bright.

Bank of America bought Countrywide during the meltdown. Countrywide owns more toxic mortgages than anyone. Wait, it owns the contract to service those mortgages having long ago transferred the nefarious valuation of those assets to either Fannie, Freddie or the Treasury, even Pat Buchanan knows that. So does that make the Halliburton-like relationship BofA now possesses to extract fees in maintenance on all these horrible loans scandal number 3? Did Bank of America see the future and buy all the toxic loans knowing the US government was going to trade insolvent assets for for T-bills so that two broke entities could shell-game up their part of the 23 trillion dollar scam?

And did you Harold, highlight this stuff as if you were a new pro consumer, anti BofA WikiLeaks, by simply sticking your toe in the water to see if you could float? “Hey Brian, watch this!”

3) After all that why I would embark on what is next is beyond me. The mid term elections and all elections subsequent are going to get so much media attention that a voter should be understandably overwhelmed by the coverage. While you watch people like Chuck Todd try and explain where “it” will be found in November, are you really able to tether to that singular fact which may or may not drive whatever faraway congressional election, and be convinced that result may have some bearing on your life?

What Americans don’t have is a personal relevancy scorecard. What companies do you do business with? What is your stake in the war in Afghanistan? Is it employment based or do you have a participant in your family? What is your prognosis for employment for the next 18 months, 5 years, to retirement? What is the effect of the last question upon your ability to provide health care for yourself or your family? What is the condition of your school system? What major corporations have recently infuriated you with predatory fine print, or made you wealthier via investment?

All too often, we are fighting someone else’s battle. It’s a common theme here that many of the votes cast in American elections are proxy votes. I tend to illustrate the fear proxy vote that elects my opponents, but in fairness union votes are generally the same. But this isn’t a sinister plot, it’s more a battle to empower the population that would normally enumerate voter attrition. People don’t vote because they don’t have access to what the choices mean to them. Proxy votes get them to the ballot with a thought in their head, it’s just not their own thinking.

These days even the big newspapers make a scorecard that shows their voting choices and their reasons, but essentially turn their readers into proxy votes. The right thing to do to promote voting in the new independent world would be if those same newspapers printed the architecture of the personal relevancy scorecard alongside their choices so that a person could look at the equation result of their vote.

I think Joe Scarborough would agree with me on this. We differ on abortion, not the act, but the legality of the act. But I have heard Mr. Scarborough complain consistently about litmus voting, and that is precisely what I am talking about here. I would hate to have a person find out later that they voted away their United Airlines pension based on a litmus issue like abortion. Understanding the various effects of their vote might be a solid way to get a centrist voting base to begin to generate votes that truly govern their country.

The first step is to admit proxy votes are votes for the dark side, and attrition would have been better. That might be “it” Chuck, Barack, and Rahm!

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Friday, July 23, 2010

2 Very Short Videos, 2 Very Different Outcomes

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 23rd, 2010


1) Sheila Bair was the get of the week, more than Shirley Sherrod. Going into that interview you were at once ready to believe that the Financial Reform signed into law amidst multiple distractions on Wednesday was another big named under performer designed for optics rather than substance. But the FDIC chairwoman had little trouble dispelling any concern levied, not on a placation level, but on a deep technical level. It was unsatisfying that Elizabeth Warren could not curry favor, but understandable.

Financial Reform should not be sexy, it should be the antithesis of that. Like all of the other major legislation emanating from the administration, it should be seen as a genesis point from which we might potentially seat Elizabeth Warren at the Consumer Protection chair and augment derivatives reform in coming legislative sessions.

The technical merit of portraying Lehman as inherently save-able given the FinReg tools is a powerful one. Going too far with this legislation only feeds into the larger problem. If you want to end health care monopolies, move to single payer, end derivatives, end out of scale bonuses and the emasculation of stockholders, end too big to fail, end bank gambling, you've got your start towards it, now govern for a few more years and win a couple more elections based on merit, then take it farther.

2) A fabulous point was made by the institutionally ostracized Donny Deutsch today. The legislative bodies are finding less and less cover for their process. The news cycle, as maligned as it might be, is actually doing a service of exposing the weakness of the legislative process, its inherently compromised state, its vulnerability to lobby groups, and the net effect of layering one compromised law after another on a country that needs significant singular solutions.

We currently have an unmanageable catacomb of laws that have been layered like rings on a 234 year old tree without any thought towards interconnectivity, precedent, or preemption. How did we get that way? Because on the way to a president's desk the legislative process attempts to say yes to everybody. How do you, for example, write tax law that way? Farms get subsidies, outsourcing job exporters get tax breaks, companies get allowances to base themselves in Bermuda, and any hope of a flat fair tax is diced into 20 million special interest pieces.

This used to go on without real time coverage. C-Span just doesn’t count because it’s single source nature made it not competitive for a viewer's attention. But with 8 different outlets, and 2800 different twitter feeds, the story of how the legislative process often is more of a setback than a path forward is being televised in by the second facings.

All the trouble with Ms. Sherrod is helpful, because it points out the inevitability of the news cycle, and encourages all stakeholders to use it as efficiently as possible, and that includes voters and voter’s dollars. Now more than ever, will swift boating be the last word? Your grandmother has a Facebook account. It is possibly loosening the grip of fear that previously existed when a single communication could go unchallenged for days or weeks or cement as a permanent impression. Free enterprise is coming after the 'let the communication consumer beware' wariness, and there is a profit motive to being there first with the truth about anything you are viewing, which is a good thing.

3) Luke Russert and ShirleySherrod both got big press from small videos this week. Ms Sherrod because a long video got made short, she and the administration suffered a swift boat attack, and the results of the attack changed 3 significant times in 3 days until the right answer was there for all to see. She and the administration instead of melting facts into a paranoid stew, have instead ascended to a greater place for their ability to go for what is right and dissuade artificiality.

The administration is clearly scathed in the matter and there may still be further fallout, but you have to admit that the happy ending including a President who calls you to apologize is the clear opposite of doublespeak, a clear path to a lucid conversation with the nation.

Mr. Russert got some gargantuan breaks and has had the talent to capitalize. The breaks are specifically that he is a very young man in front of a very important, highest level story with a personal significance miles beyond his years or appearance. Mr. Rangel could not have known that attacking Mr. Russert would be seen by 2 networks as an equivalent of clubbing a baby seal or kicking a puppy. This is a trap of fate, for despite the appearances of a situation, the oldest statesman in the room still felt that he could wave his hand and make junior participants fall in line by the virtue of his demand. Instead he was felled by facts and a young man who has a willing army behind him.

Fair or not, it seems like a great thing is happening with Luke Russert because of what he is doing with his break.

That's all for today, see you Monday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two For One

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 21st, 2010


1) I wish I could say that it was ESP that made me refuse to write about yesterdays show. I wish that I could honestly claim that I saw through the Breibart-infused ‘Drudge journalism’ that got so much media attention yesterday, and that I was waiting for the other shoe to drop today. But I was right there with the rest of the population more marginally confused by what I was seeing (being fed) than out in front. I didn’t understand Ms. Sherrod’s muffled take, I didn’t understand the firestorm from the media, I didn’t understand the government reaction, but I didn’t have a suspicion either.

The shoe dropped and now the Morning Joe show has had what can only be described as an uber-hypocritical moment. They have been doing this for some time, because they are analysts first and journalists second. But to have the revelations that we had today, and to stop short of apologizing, for even its Licht-researched version of events yesterday was irresponsible to journalistic endeavor, is troubling. Let’s also be honest that the show dodged a bullet with it’s loudest analyst off the set when he would have been the most susceptible of making that embarrassing video that would have been played to the shows detriment forever.

Whatever the roots, whatever the self-cleansing motives today, the net result was accurately portrayed: that the White House has yet another devil in the details embarrassment to try and explain away. This notion that there is an administrative feather trigger left over by the Gates debacle from a year ago is interesting but unconvincing. What is convincing is the take that the White House refers to the 24 hour news cycle as a detriment to judgment, but then participates and governs on that basis showing an immature haste. Yea, Scarborough got to launch some really painful zingers ala ‘if this is how they handle this, we need someone else in charge to handle Iran’. The White House has to circle this comment and remember this day, making it’s judgments on this basis, and understanding the scale commentary of Mr. Scarborough’s quip. In this case the 24 hour news cycle is useful, showing the risk associated from lacking an even keel in it’s own wake.

2) I hope the show got advertising money for letting Mike Papantonio on, because that was the most disgusting case of ambulance chasing I’ve ever seen nationally televised. Thank heaven that Mike Barnicle nailed that guy, the first time in history the ‘what have we learned today’ segment was useful. But to get away with unbacked comments like ‘Ken Feinberg is no Mother Theresa’ while telling desperate people to get involved in a class action lawsuit is shameless, and the show that lets it happen is equally so.

Lawyers serve some purpose in this country, but it will never be defined by their unjust compensation nor their unjust control over our lives. Anyone can sue anyone, but the legal ramifications of a lawsuit is entirely means based. You only sue rich people, you can only afford so much defense, you often find allowing the wrong version of events to proceed is better because of the out of scale cost of litigation. True centrists will acknowledge this is one item that Republicans have right, if they could ever remember to bring it up in it’s purest sense. They never will because like everything else, it’s only time for legal reform when it prevents competitive markets and free enterprise, but legal reform where it prevents fine print predation on the part of companies and usury is perfectly ok.

But in the case of the BP oil spill the math is simple, and opposite of Mr. Papantonio’s take. It may hurt to wait until August 1st, that may be month 4, but Mr. Feinberg is the very best possible outcome for an individual, and the first option available to you that doesn’t feed more than two mouths in the process. C’mon Scarborough, that sucked.

3) Campaign contributions like the 501 c (4) ‘tax exemption while hidden’ formats are used by both sides of the political spectrum. But it is dirty wherever it’s used. You have a right to free speech, but not while hidden. That’s a hate crime. What I would like to see in response to the Rove mandated national swift boat campaign is a national light of day campaign. I want anyone participating in these attacks to be found out and susceptible to dollar votes. Dollar votes are really costly to companies. They face boycotts, they face competitive headwinds, they in the end aren’t worth it if bought on a false basis of confidentiality but traced like so many other cover-ups in this country.

I want the company or individual about to embark on a self convinced lark of assassinating someone’s character from a false province of privacy to have the same chance at ultimate confidentiality that a person getting a medical marijuana card or a Patriot Act library card options themselves: not likely. It should only be a matter of time before every donor of every dollar of the 50 million planned for by Rove is highlighted and forced to absorb the true political cost of their free speech.

Ultimately it was worth it for T. Boone Pickens to swift boat John Kerry. I’m personally more of a fan of Pickens than Kerry, but that particular transaction was so out of scale unjust, it can’t go on as a way of life in a Democracy. The middle class has to equip itself with methods to make this practice unprofitable and politically unfavorable.

You are being duped America, our ruling class is using you to vote away your own rights so they might exploit the nation’s riches more efficiently. You fight their oil wars, you pay for their risk insurance on Wall Street, corporate taxes are less than 7% of national revenue, they expect to profit from every transaction in your life: health, defense, public safety, education, even Social Security. Don’t believe me? United Health, the owner of Blue Cross/Blue Shield/Anthem, the monopoly health insurer in California that did not get its 39% rate increase last quarter, just announced it’s earnings for that quarter, and they were up 31%.

If that’s equity, I’m equitably more motivated to reverse this trend.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Levitated By The Reporting Of The Day

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 19th, 2010


1) You could say it was the rest of a weekend, or that parts of the show that were struggling showed signs of correcting their challenged areas, but the solid performance and sweeping coverage of issues today was a direct result of simply being there to point at some damn fine journalism occurring elsewhere.

Again, it’s the format, where Dana Priest can get a double segment at the top of the hour to go over her groundbreaking article in the Washington Post. Nowhere else can that kind of magnified coverage and roundtable be had on the day of issue.

The other part of this that seemed like an evolving program was that the cast got out of the way of the story as opposed to trying to own it. This reveals a deftness that might not have existed with Joe Scarborough on the set. We have commented previously both ways on this issue, that Scarborough has too heavy a hand, especially on intelligence issues, to stand aside to journalistic endeavor, and also that sometimes his manner of revealing is necessary and without it the story goes by unchecked. This was the former, although we will never know if I’m right. We only know that a Mika-chaired roundtable came to the story with a sophistication that recognized where the journalists were, and where the analysts were.

2) Part two of the progress had to do with the Charlie Melancon interview. There was a real depth to the analysis on why Louisiana is misunderstood on it’s honest disapproval of any drilling moratorium.

There was a great point missed in the interview, that the local reliance on the oil business should put the burden on the disaster not on the oil companies, who need to do what they do, but on the US Government and any department of which is responsible for preventing the necessary work from being done unsafely. The equation that the Federal Government is key to the sustainability of this industry should be a model for a lot of the trouble facing America right now. It’s not that business is bad, nor that it should get a free reign, but that regulation with an eye towards true sustainability and credibility is so necessary that it is likely the most important growth center for government currently.

Listen to the Charles Blow accreditation of the Louisiana position. They need this work, and while it’s easy to criminalize BP, that is short term thinking and we will need to find a way to remove reckless action in an absence of rules and enforcement before we can generally expect different outcomes.

3) Is Biden cheerleading? Probably. But I believe that a Democratic shocker is a very possible outcome in the mid term elections. The message that Democrats have is so completely the high ground, that it actually plays to Obama’s style of 4th quarter heroics. Now the downside of this theory is that this is yet another first time through for a new President who has shown a clear ability to fall flat. History may not be fairly analyzed here where we talk about the mid term elections of the great modern Presidents being backlash driven.

No matter which version is dominantly correct, it has to be said that ‘first time through’ for a President who was never a Vice President is ultimately a factor in why so many of these first mid term elections go so poorly. Yea there is backlash, but why is there backlash? Because while Obama is getting the big things done, he is befuddled by the little things, seemingly on a daily basis. That is the sign of those oft-mentioned ‘speed of the game’ issues. He isn’t the only one to fall victim. And the American voter is proving to be ultimately one dimensional in their quick read of events. These are bad omens.

But the likelihood of the Democratic shocker is bolstered by a couple of very important events: the holding of the high ground and the ability to paint the accurate negative message around the do-nothing Republicans, and the continued underestimation of Nancy Pelosi. What do you need to win? Money, manifesto, rectitude. John Boehner or Nancy Pelosi? One of them has it all, the other maybe one, maybe one and a half on a good day with ample sunshine.

That is a referendum of such disproportion that it could ultimately sway some stuff unexpectedly.

That is all for today, see you tomorrow.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Joe Takes Flight

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 16th, 2010


1) I don’t know why but the bottom has fallen out of the debate on Morning Joe. We have previously expressed our disdain for the PPP polling system, but there it was as today’s top news.

The BP oil spill being capped is not news. It is a reminder that the nearly impossible task of cleaning up a mega disaster is at least a finite chore if all things hold as they are now.

And Barack Obama went on vacation, wait, he has been on a form of vacation since inauguration.

Yup, those were your news items. Small wonder Wall Street looked at this pitiful display and tanked 261 points.

2) Then there was the stuff that didn’t get covered. It’s a long list and even I will leave 80% of it out, but it shows the lack of conviction from which the show currently debates.

Elizabeth Warren’s potential role as the head of the Consumer Protection Agency is being opposed by Tim Geithner. What is that? If you didn’t already know the financial wing of the administration was in the tank for Wall Street, who reward them back with abandonment, now you do. The senselessness of all of this is a real “Brazil” moment. Round and round we go, we get nothing for our own dilution, but our dilution and those who want to make us whole are ostracized. It amazes the senses.

Obama told a joke about Boehner wanting to repeal Financial Reform, then Senator Shelby actually called for it’s repeal. There were already optics police calling the Boehner joke ‘misplaced anger for a leader’, then when it happened in real life, we all just stood there, tased by the ‘Monty Python’ moment we had just been a part of.

Dick Cheney got a pump put in his heart as part of his Obamacare. People have died waiting for this procedure under the rationing of services incurred via private insurers. It’s not realistic to assume that Dick Cheney or Pablo Escobar or any other known tribal leader would likely get favorable service, but the equation still bears illumination.

I mean, it’s right there, often on your ticker, and you’re agenda spent that time talking about John Daly’s pants?

3) Joe Scarborough mumbled under his breath ‘this is going nowhere’ at 7 AM and left the set. He probably went to talk to his agent about ‘a shorter option’.

And in came Zbig.

We were pretty hard on the smartest guy in any room last time through, but only out of a ‘while you're busy shining his shoes, careful you don’t lose sight of his Starbucks passive aggressive despot side” concern. Fair enough.

But today he was back in full origami mode. He beat up that young whippersnapper Pat Buchanan then helped the wayward youth to his feet and said ‘I hope we’re still friends’.

I don’t think Buchanan is used to the woodshed. He normally can just roll out a forgotten scandal or political entity (Adlai Stevenson) and hit that ‘Buchanan octave’ and the young Turks disperse in horror.

But Mr. Brzezinski made simple math of Buchanan’s saber rattling about Libya and added in a real human touch, having been on a Korean Air flight in the past week. Buchanan was reduced to a pointless bully and seemed like he found a short circuit surrounding the word ‘morality’.

If you backed off when the Soviets did it, but you want to invade Libya, aren’t you only choosing fights where you can seem superior? I believe the quote was "If the country's immoral and weak you go after it, but if the country's immoral and strong you accommodate, now is that morality?"

I love Buchanan, and here’s hoping for a speedy recovery. For the Show.

That’s all for today, see you Monday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Crystal Meth From A Housewife In The Midwest"

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 14th, 2010


1) I am unsure how I feel about the crew making a joke based on ‘crystal meth use by Midwestern housewives’. I mean, what do you think? On one hand, if it’s there to be a sobering challenge based on some known problem maybe there's merit. But if it’s a blind grenade toss by Mika, then isn’t it a ‘cling to your guns and religion’ type cast off?

Mika is known for sobering challenges on things like obesity and meaningless pop culture. It sort've fits, but I am just more convinced it was a blind toss, and that seems reckless.

Crystal Meth is an awful thing. People don’t understand that while Cocaine and Marijuana are significant components of the Mexican Drug war, Crystal Meth is the catalyst, and there likely would not have been a drug war if this particular drug had not been a destabilizing factor in the Mexican importer hierarchy. It’s as if we gave the drug lords something new that they could sell us, that they could make themselves.

If you want to make jokes about it, be sure you add it to your positive effect agenda and help fix the problems it’s causing us.

2) Am I the only person who thinks that Israel gets too much influence on the United States? I just can’t understand why the US falls into immediate groupthink whenever the subject comes up. Is it fear of seeming anti-semitic? There has to be a positive relationship with that country, but there does not have to be a normative relationship.

Israel is doing some awful stuff to people and running with the general expectation that they can partially hide behind their relationship with us when they need to get away with it. When we hold them accountable, suddenly it’s a game changer in elections. This concept that the Pennsylvania Senate race is affected is really troubling.

I would think that pro Israel voters in the US would want to see that country eventually stabilize in an equity based and sustainability based way, so they could visit more often. But if the agenda has to be a constant outward push and reconnaissance by fire, we have to have the ability to dissuade them from it.

3) It was a little embarrassing to watch every guest today remind the cast that the BP – Libya story was not some great expose', but something that was common knowledge when it happened 10 months ago.

The troubling thing about it is that it shows that the Morning Joe cast is seeking out things that they can influence. They had this bent to the pursuit of this story today that made the subscriber see they actually thought it was news they should be amplifying to see if they could elicit an effect.

I think Schumer was readdressing this because when he tried 10 months ago, no one listened, but now that BP owes us everything, he thought it a second opportunity to trot this request for remedy out again.

I agree with all the takes today that said this Libyan guy should be subject to rendition. But that Richard Haas is pretty sobering in his 'get over it, this too will pass' assessment, and that is the likely outcome.

4) Who still thinks Scarborough and Ratigan compliment each other? Doing the math, Ed Schulze, Chris Matthews, Dylan, and anyone else that has their own thing that didn’t come from Morning Joe (that excludes Lawrence and Chuck Todd), none of them can come on the show and not be mocked. Maybe we should add Mark Haines to that list.

It’s a problem. It was crazy watching the forced marriage of Joe and Chris on the election preview series last week. Matthews has something to prove whenever he get in a room with Scarborough. Scarborough doesn’t try very hard. Maybe he already knows the outcome and just plays under and checks his watch. He doesn’t need to interact with anyone if it’s not interesting to him.

He did that today with Dylan. Dylan does himself zero favors, it’s hard to listen to that guy. Don’t get me wrong, I would wear a “Ratigan” t-shirt if I could get away with it. I am completely in league with that guy’s sentiment. But his inability to get from point a to point b in the guest setting makes him an easy target. You know that guy is frustrated.

His detractors are thanking their lucky stars that he has yet to click in, because they know, one day Dylan will put it all together and be all those guys I mentioned yesterday, Warren, Taibbi, Taleb and all equipped with a Scarborough howitzer, making crooks duck everywhere.

I asked Scarborough politely 6 months ago to try and nurture that end result out of Dylan, he seems more pressed to keep him down, I wonder why that is?

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wants Cake, Also Wants To Eat

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 13th, 2010


1) Just an astounding conversation with Joe Scarborough and Andrew Ross Sorkin today where JS felt compelled to ask for 100% assurance of immediate containment of any spill prior to there being more drilling. Now far be it from me to feel like Scarborough needs a reality check, but in this case this was an absolutely egregious and selective personal optimization choice. Let’s list our components:

· Drove V8 forever
· All of his Florida and DC neighbors drove V8 forever
· Suddenly a “surprise” attack of an oil spill creates mea culpa
· Wants oil, but only with assurance
· Wants green overhaul of economy if no assurance is available

Now, this has all the hypocritical connotation of ‘clean coal’ or ‘natural gas’. We know the truth, that we are dependent on oil and have the world’s biggest consumer economy for it and are thus responsible not just for the consumption of, but logistics of transporting the 25% of the global oil supply.

In our haste to grow GDP quarter over quarter, we promote the recklessness that is BP’s environmental record in order to not have the supply of oil be any inhibition to our free enterprise system. The national economic security implications of the oil supply assure that the most profitable American companies are oil companies. It is known.

So with oil fueling the nation and its economy along with it, the pressure to grow the economy means eventually an anomaly will occur in that supply and we will have either a price catastrophe, security catastrophe, financial catastrophe or environmental catastrophe, wait, we’ve had all of these happen already.

And Mr. Scarborough loudly beckons for certainty? Quaint.

2) I understand that we on the left have empowered minor leaguers to run the country and are now facing a hefty mid term election task to keep these guys in place until they get the speed of the game. I understand that their inability to master their skill at national governance is being exploited by the right and the old guard left and that status quo continues to rule the day one maneuver at a time.

But are you really ready to send any part of this government back to the Iraq invading, Patriot en-Act-ing, Medicare “D” initiating, Cheney Energy Commission-ing, torture-ing, fear-baiting, mandate intolerance by law cronies that we all so desperately conspired to usher out over the last 40 months? You would give these guys the keys so that you could better afford Chinese socks from Wal-mart?

As you can see by some of my previous rants, I’m hard up to find who to trust. I trust myself, Elizabeth Warren, Nassim Taleb, Matt Taibbi, and get this: Joe Scarborough. I trust that Obama and Axelrod mean well but are currently outclassed and out framed in their governance. I don’t know anything about Rahm Emmanuel, and that’s a problem at this point.

But the list of people I don’t trust is long and growing. I learned not to trust most of them years ago, but every day another person makes the perp walk, not to jail, but to the microphone to lay out a doublespeak demonstration why they cannot support the middle class against the ruling elite for whatever hollow reason suits them that day, and today that was Tim Kaine (yikes!).

But I can tell you one thing, if Joe Barton is a committee chairmanship next year, it’s pitchfork time, if Boehner is in charge of anything other than the detention of the Breakfast Club, it’s pitchfork time.

You need to make an appropriately proportionate decision, immediately.

3) Thad Allen was not convincing in his reaction to Willie Geist’s well timed grenade about containment ship operations. The amount of unexplainable nonsense coming from the spill site is literally JFK-assassination-level unsavory. No one will ever convince the American people that there aren’t two stories, one told (sometimes) now, and one that will come out in 40 years talking about ‘the American people would’ve never accepted the real story’.

The earnings date, the Libya thing (that everyone knew already), the missing details on the containment, the press blockade, the scope of the disaster. These are all things that continue to amalgamate into a story of a disaster where everyone panicked.

I’m happy that we are seeing the story on the Morning Joe show after a long gap. It seems like it’s only on the show now because the good news is starting to show up, and it was too hard when the news was only bad. Stuff we learned when Iraq stopped getting covered in 2005.

If you’re serious, we need to get an environmental expert on the show who is willing to talk about the toxicity of the dispersants, who is willing to talk about the real fallout, willing to show the computer predictions of 15 years of oil flows. We need someone who can explain, like you got on PBS yesterday, that all of the animals that live in oceans drop down to the line of perpetual darkness to feed: whales, turtles, dolphins, fish, and that is likely where they will find a blinding pool of oil that no one has the courage to enumerate.

Can you find that courage, or are we just here to try and put a fake wrap on this story which will be with us like a generational plague? Mika seems really involved, but honestly, she appears to be an unwitting agent of distraction by finding her focus on the smaller parts of the story to the complete absence of the 150 million barrel guerrilla in the room, and to the complete absence of the 25 billion barrel apocalypse one geological anomaly away from replacing it as our nation’s disaster.

It seems like you’re making it harder than it already is, the question is why?

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dollar Votes Extend To Corporations, Too

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 9th, 2010


1) From both sides, the Senator Menendez interview was the crux of the show today. it wasn’t a watershed of new ideas, it was the crux of the dispute. Question 1: from John Heilmann went something like ‘Wall Street is abandoning you, what would you say to them to regain their trust so that they might embrace your candidates and programs going forward”? Answer, They will realize they should thank us at some point. What is going on here? Menendez has gone ostrich on us and just dove in the sand rather than answer the question. If I was Wall Street, I would say AHA, these guys are pandering at our expense and can’t even look us in the eye.

Question #2: 'your stimulus policies are largely a failure how can you expect the people to trust you' (paraphrased from Mort Zuckerman)? Answer: I think you're wrong, and Wall Street should be more to blame than the stimulus. Wrong answer. Why does Democrat after Democrat feed their own disdain? It is simply ludicrous for the Democratic party to on one hand talk about how the stimulus had any effect at all on the financial crisis, while on the other hand ask the taxpayer to fund a second correcting program. Your administration made a drunken sailor prediction on the high water mark of unemployment, using a wishful thinking, algebraic cause and effect rationale relating a truckload of disjointed handouts to a macro economic phenomenon. You have proven that you will play the dysfunctional middle and blunt any program that might resolve the nation’s ills. And today, with stimulus a bad word, you are as guilty as the other side of doublespeak for your inability to be a believable critic of your own work.

What needed to happen right there is more of the Elizabeth Warren ‘People Vs. Companies' stuff where you make your antagonist come to the table via a position of confidence. What happened instead is a guy who seemed a lot like Jimmy Carter, I have no answer and will mumble that same old ‘the American people’ desperation plea and hope people like me with or without substance.

Did Menendez go rogue to be this lacking in credibility? I think the Rahm Emmanuel quotes during the show answer that. This is Bambi wondering why the guys in the militia outfits are shooting at him, folks.

2) Wall Street influenced as much as possible on the financial regulatory reform. They kneaded the process and had a plan to fix the entire bill at the end, ala’ health reform, so that it was a dog and pony show with no teeth. This would make it like every other piece of legislation in the last quarter century. In the ‘people vs. companies’ equation, the companies have won every time.

Financial regulatory reform did not accomplish 90% of what it set out to do, just like health reform. But Wall Street and the health care industry don’t care about their short term victory of influence over the legislative branch of government. Their positon is "we cannot take the risk of having this morph into an organic reform where our market power is diminished and competition erodes our price controls. We may not have lost here, but the existence of something that said we got reformed could enable further challenges and we have to put a stop to any of that momentum."

Thus, these industries are now on the other side. It doesn’t matter what the balance of the Republican agenda is, the pro commerce Barton, Tauzin, Liebermann types need to be re-seated to preside over the government or the landscape is uncertain. You listen to CNBC and all day its ‘uncertainty, uncertainty, uncertainty’ as it relates to the business environment and Obama is to blame for that. Businesses are choosing to horde cash and not invest.

This is business making dollar votes. They are establishing their power over government in what amounts to an economic coup. "We won’t tolerate any ‘for the people’ populism at our expense. We will operate unencumbered free to pursue profits with as few obstacles as possible. If our profiteering results in social costs like oil spills, 40 million Americans without health coverage, 45 million unemployed, or financial panics, the government needs to clean that up at no cost to us and assist in our recovery first."

"Obama, when making deals with us, needs to understand that it will never be enough, and meeting us halfway is seen as a delaying tactic more than any compromise by our side as we wait out the political cycle’s inevitable turn and expect that the other party will return us to the status quo at godspeed."

US commercial interests have now, thanks to Barack Obama, seen the precipice of a return to populism, and they have seen enough. It’s dark comedy in the face of it that the Obama people are looking for ways to placate business rather than reading the double cross writing on the wall. It’s dark comedy that the remaining constituency of the Obama administration, the middle class, sees this first overture go to business rather than people, again.

On the show today, you have a billionaire Mort Zuckerman essentially saying this exact thing out loud, valuable and terrifying at the same time, and you have Pat Buchanan connecting the dots on the Obama administration alienating both sides, then stunningly Mika counts backwards and fades to black quickly, as if that wasn’t in the script, cutting to two pre-recorded segments and signing off. Disturbing, to say the least.

3) I find it on the ugly side of convenience that after effectively sequestering the hate filled extremism of Anne Coulter for the better part of 2 years, now that she has fired a fractious shot at the Republican party she is trending again. I wish this didn’t seem like the hypocritical equivalent of ‘the benefits of brown on brown crime’, but it is. If you are to abandon hate, you have to even when it might be to your short term advantage to show how the other side is shooting at each other.

I wish I could’ve believed Joe Scarborough when he rejected any discrediting of Coulter by saying 'we don’t normally allow her any credence, but this time she has a point'. But convenience ruled the day and like Hitler walking into a bar in New York this past Tuesday while the Germans prepared to play World Cup soccer, Coulter gets to parade around as an example of the kind of extremist right wing anger that used to be OK with 90% of Republicans as recently as 2 years ago.

Back to the bunker, both of you.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 8th, 2010


1) With the welcome reinsertion of the BP oil spill into the agenda today (who knows if it was an anomaly), the cast attempted to re-learn the dimensions of the crisis. Pat Buchanan smartly doubled the show back to Erin Burnett’s game changer yesterday, but then did it for the wrong news item all while the show forgot to go back to Erin today.

It’s not the size differential between BP and Exxon, it’s the net effect of the oil spill is that it’s an acquisition opportunity for offshore interests to own an even bigger profit potential for the continued sale of oil to the United States. Still missing, still the biggest story. Andrew Ross Sorkin sort of tried to bring the equity sale into the conversation, but had a tourist’s understanding of the details and described it as a non-issue. Will he seem like an expert’s expert if he writes its memoir after the fact?

And as all the conversation waged in the realm of the political implications of BP’s earnings call being coincidentally named the new ambitious target date for the well’s sealing, of the Photoshop scandal with the Economist, and the afterthought treatment of the severely dampened containment reaction thus far to the catastrophe, it was an ever so slight grenade from England that got by the group today. ‘In the trashing of BP, America refuses to acknowledge it’s infinite demand for oil as an equal culprit in the disaster’.

Your V8 engine is likely more responsible for the oil spill than the company known as BP. It is inevitable that this disaster can be festooned upon 10 middle managers that will likely face prosecution at some point, but this will serve as little restitution for the nation as it seeks to blame away the responsibility for the spill. Those managers acted the same as any managers asked to mesh profitability with safety where profitability is accounted for with 100 times the acumen.

You, America, caused this disaster. What you do next will determine the next disaster. If we do nothing about the oil situation, we will certainly have this happen to us again, as the for profit companies get more and more desperate to feed monolithic worldwide oil consumption without squandering any opportunity cost.

If we were to devalue the per barrel oil price by any marginal activity, the first thing that goes is the riskiest extraction. The last thing that goes is the availability. America is doing the math of a society bent on extinction, and the status quo barons are all too happy to be there to own the treasure once the society is vanquished.

2) Mark Halperin has velcroed himself to the set. I have had others come to me and say negative things about his often prominent role in the show, but I have mainly considered him a non entity who occasionally offers credence to the Scarborough led conversations with fair compliment. There is no discounting his book wins political journal of the year accolades everywhere, but I’m far more prone to credit John Heilemann for turning over the rocks that made the book news. I also find more of a stature to the Heilemann debate on items, right or wrong, finding that he has a take beyond evaluation of optics.

Evaluation of optics appears to be Halperin’s 5 degrees of expertise. I don’t know whether there was a shift in the MSNBC matrix as it relates to Chuck Todd, but Todd is perpetually up there with Chris Matthews in their ability to look at possible scenarios playing out and explain them. With Halperin, it just feels like he is describing what the caption should be on an existing picture. It’s a new situation and everyone should be allowed to find their way over significant time, so hope continues for a bit. This is a give and take world though, and today Mr. Halperin’s newness steered an entire conversation the exact wrong way.

Is it weakness optically to make a recess appointment? Are you kidding? It is a strength, a show of power of the Presidency. To allow the gridlock of the legislative branch to turmoil over this, to re-avow their positions, is to allow the legislative branch to derelict the real job of governing and make sales calls for the November election.

Nope, a recess appointment is just what the doctor ordered, and as infuriating as it was when George W Bush did it to avoid re-debating the war and torture in his tenure, Obama must be selectively brutal with the power he owns to force compromise anew amongst the warring sides. He should look at whether he can force Republicans to disavow ideological parades or face a charge of politicking rather than governing. And that’s just what he did.

We have crushed our President with the charge that he is a patsy to the faux virtues of bipartisanship. Now we have to live with the consequences that he will look at each new challenge he faces and give more credence to crushing back.

3) I look forward to the midterm elections. The Republicans are energized, they have benefited greatly from our administrations missteps. Our administration has been humbled by the speed of the game.

But fortune is not had until the day after the day of determination. We have won late every time in Washington, and should that ability to close out be propagated to the DNC’s management of it’s candidate’s elections ever, we could have a surprising success.

I like to think that, like with Whitman and Fiorina in California, this is a bloodletting operation. The opponents are furiously spending money and making new slogans and talking points. Those talking points are being refined to energize their base like never before. Sell the disillusionment. Sell the blame for disasters. Sell the misstep of going harder at Afghanistan. Sell the blame for the job loss.

It’s simple math really, if you are pro business you are pro jobs. If you don’t want your kids to be destitute you are for austerity. Why didn’t Obama fix and contain the spill faster. Afghanistan is unwinnable. Your stimulus did not deliver jobs as promised and is now a fiscal eyesore.

Go ahead pile on. But look again, look hard, and find a new idea anywhere in that platform.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Speedo Coverage Of The News

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 7th, 2010


1) Loud applause for not thinking of the Lohan story as obligatory. I was curious, but I was curious yesterday afternoon. By yesterday afternoon anyone with a Twitter account had seen the pictures and video. The concept here is unless your changing the world or possess some exclusive angle, taking these stories and inserting them in hard news brings you one step closer to the generic, especially a day later.

But Mika made it a proud case one step further, she implored those who disagreed with her to change the channel. This is straight out of the happy subscriber, unhappy lowest common denominator, long tail argument of how to be a relevant media outlet in this day and age. On a channel that has to constantly fight against it’s old generic self, this kind of prickliness got Mika her gig on Morning Joe in the first place, and is why she is here to stay.

Yesterday, I called Mika’s priorities into question as a reason that she could not carry the show in Joe’s absence. Those priorities might be being too close to the White House to be objective, too far reaching in proposing obesity solutions, but do in fact include an absolute disdain for lowest common denominator news such as the Lohan story. Good with the bad, you may not be able to yell acknowledgment of a common truth out at the top of your lungs on the hard news issues of the day at a volume found by your co-star, but on your issues, everyone ducks. Nice.

2) The cast today acknowledged that they are off of the BP story. It was a subject they quickly made platitude from and exited, but it’s an important first step. Usually an alcoholic mumbles ‘I need help’ before seeking help, and this was that.

The supporting cast is unaware that the story is in the attic on this show. Erin Burnett put out some hugely relevant BP business analysis today, but was caught off guard that no one on the show was prepared to care. The fact that BP is larger than Exxon is something that I bet 90% of subscribers had not latched on to. The transfer of ownership of BP to Middle Eastern companies is an unknown complexity so large it becomes a national security issue that should involve Hillary Clinton.

Morning Joe has the pulpit that reaches the nation’s power structure the best. You have had two small side door mentions of two different news items, and you have handled them in 180 degree opposite fashion. You departed the BP story initially when in a side report someone mentioned the McChrystal occurrence and you took it and ran with it. You were widely acknowledged as the author of the sea change in that story.

This morning, Erin Burnett gave you another story about the logistical complexity of BP’s management of the spill crisis. The number of facts that were not what we all perceive to be the case were equally significant to the McChrystal story, yet you were under equipped to respond similarly, so it got by you.

It’s a job, you are like the Homeland Security Department, you did something right on McChrystal, but the first time you miss something like the Burnett BP angle, there is no similar safety net to catch it, unless you double back.

So double back.

3) For some time we have listened to ‘we cant afford it’ as the chief reason we shouldn’t be providing health care, education, police and fire services, or safe bridges to the tax paying population. Sometimes we sprinkle some ‘I believe in free enterprise solutions’ on top of that, but that is usually a smoke and mirrors angle to promote a profiteering angle on what should be a public good.

Defense is another public good. We have to protect the homeland from Osama Bin Laden and Mexican drug cartels. Both are negatively impacting our security. But the Barney Frank and Ron Paul take on the grossly out of proportion amount of our national treasure being sunk by the Department of Defense is a pitchfork moment on par or greater than the ‘Goldman Sachs engineered the financial crisis for profit’ story.

I have said previously in this column that ‘we can’t afford it’ is only a good objection when all things are on the table, and that it was being used to blind the taxpayer to the real wasted expenditure out there. You are being robbed of local services by disgusting back room contracts for unneeded and unnecessary defense expenditures. You could otherwise easily afford universal services and have your deficit replaced by a surplus.

These defense expenditures enrich a very few already rich people who vote against the middle class at every turn. Class warfare may be a loser political mantra for the middle class because it gets undermined in our current ‘paid-for’ election process, but it is in fact happening, just in the other direction.

You have to ask yourself, why do all those people in all those other democracies protest so often? Oh yeah, they actually control their governments.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Where Is The Howitzer?

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 6th, 2010


1) Opportunism is the art of taking anything that impacts the middle class and making it some sort of ‘call to action’ to make that middle class vote in a way that benefits the barons of the status quo.

While it was Afghanistan today, it was also Wall Street and the donation revolt. It has also been the dearth of coverage of the oil spill so as not to upset the corporate advertising base of NBC. It has also been the health care debate.

In each case there was a back room talk. It was a coaching of how to frame a discussion where you’re the good guy, and the other guy is the bad guy, out of things that should be apolitical unless you have a genuine take. This is how a leech finds nutrients for life, not how a leader defines a national role.

First off, Michael Steel is nearing the status of Dan Quayle, the biggest idiot anyone could name who got a job way above god’s pay grade for him. Second, whether Steele has a point or not is beside the point, he wasn’t trying to teach a point, he was trying to teach opportunism. Those on the show who were trying to find the merit in Steele’s original argument, Pat Buchanan, were actually abandoned by Steele himself, because knowing he was just trying to teach how to profit from any political point, but not make a political point, Steele had already backtracked.

2) I am not as obsessed with the human cost of war in Afghanistan as Mike Barnicle. The armed forces are there by choice. In your life’s journey you decide at some point whether you would like to be a warrior and you pursue that path. It’s what you want to do. It is not a free choice. The risk of being a warrior is the honorable death of a warrior. These American kids in middle Asia are not victims. They are attempting to ascend to a level of enlightenment that they chose. If we had a draft, it would be different, these kids that were there because they had sworn to bear arms for their nation, but had not chosen the path of a warrior, would be victims.

I don’t want to get into victims of what, that discussion has been made by this column perpetually. But the size of the force we employ is indicative of the fact that there are many in this great land that heed a calling unto themselves to be our Army.

We might be doing some disservice to this segment of the population by not equipping them with all of the weapons and political will that they deserve, but overall, and especially in Iraq, they were given the ultimate chance to turn the campaign into a victory rather than have disinterested parties extract them for the opportunism mentioned in #1 above.

In Afghanistan, the disproportionate nature of the campaign is disconcerting, but at the end of the day, I am more concerned that the political will that handcuffs the soldier in the field is costing us the chance to finally solve an enormous global problem. No one wants to colonize Afghanistan, we just want the region to stop being a vacuum of lawlessness that exports tragedy and suffering to the rest of the planet.

Our guys on the ground want to be there, they want to finish the job, they want to prove the pundits irrelevant, and we owe them latitude towards accomplishment.

3) It’s a light week, the holiday shortened week, the forced vacation foisted upon Joe Scarborough, the innocuous repeat segments, we’re not gonna solve any problems in the next four days. Unfortunately, the problems are surrounding us, and we have to be equipped to connect them with solutions even when the lights are barely on.

Mika and Mike are perfectly qualified to make that connection, but just watching today, there will need to be an infusion of will. What are you going to do to make the powers feel forced to respond? It’s certainly not with a 3 hour long roast of Michael Steel.

I think the show needs a fire-breather to helm during the Scarborough vacation days. Not a pundit, not someone at great odds with Scarborough’s version of things, but someone who can make a credible statement on current events that antagonizes it’s subject to the point of engagement.

Whether it’s Buchanan’s niche, Halperin’s understated style, Mika’s prioritization issues, Mike’s resistance to engagement, none of the cast put into this had enough fight to bring the nation’s issues to the nation the way the Morning Joe subscriber has grown accustomed.

Lawrence O’Donnell got his own show on MSNBC recently, Spitzer went to CNN, and Hayes or Stein rep another brand. Oh I miss Lawrence, although he has lost it, an act Joe Conason just channeled last week, enough to wonder if he could last through a morning without a ray gun. But in the absence of any of the solutions that starts with the show’s absent host, and continues through a complete absence of lucid conservative moderates, you have to understand that it’s a light news week in part because your big gun is out of commission.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 2nd, 2010


1) Seems distressingly odd that John Heilemann would ask the question about whether the lowering of the nominal unemployment rate would be trotted out as a positive by the White House. It’s distressing on two fronts: one is that they might actually do that despite as Savannah said it is a quirk that fell the other way 2 months ago and two, there is a simple mathematical reason why the rate fell that is a very negative piece of news. Over 600,000 people fell out of the workforce counted in the unemployment number, so the rate went down because the denominator in the equation went down. Those people went somewhere when they fell out of the workforce, they went to a category best described as hopeless.

So if you make the mistake of trotting that number out there, someone is going to damn you doubly for doing it, but it’s often difficult to resist for political types, which is why it caught the eye of Heilemann.

Tread carefully lest you be seen as trumpeting a false positive indicator for short term gain, very short term gain, with a backlash.

2) Norah O’Donnell unwittingly continued the anti Boehner campaign by adding chain smoking, poorly named a ‘love for butts’, and reinforced the boozing charge. In a public relations war, contrary to what the Wall Street Journal guy says, you want John Boehner on TV right now, because he is a trainwreck not seen since Jimmy and Tammy Fay Baker.

The late night shows had a field day with Boehner. A monster of a point was made with little fanfare by Willie Geist earlier this week, that Saturday Night Live being out of production right now is a huge break for the the Ohio congressman. Otherwise, he might get the kind of permanent roast that moves into the ‘more famous than the actual guy’ category.

I’m still stuck on ‘Breakfast Club’: “could you describe the ruckus, sir?”

3) In violation of the Morning Joe ban on any coverage of the BP oil spill, the skeleton crew took liberty today to show a 2 ½ minute clip of the oil in the gulf with some generic news sprinkled on top by Norah.

I hope they don’t get in too much trouble. I mean, it’s been decided right? This show is about politics and the most important story of the new decade can be shoved aside in the pursuit of a pure agenda. I haven’t seen such a plan Fox covered the inaugeration.

Not even the top of the hour news is certain to even mention the spill. The Boehner story got all the coverage that wasn’t the pregame on the unemployment number or the Week In Review.

I am thoroughly appalled that the Morning Joe show has completed another week in absolute ignorance of the Gulf oil disaster. I don’t know how it is happening, it’s confusing, and I wish it would correct.

That’s all for today, see you Tuesday.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Month, Same Empty Set

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for July 1st, 2010


1) It is with great joy that I witness the Morning Joe cast go for John Boehner’s head, and crack down on anyone in the Republican party who defends him as acting in deference to status quo interests.

While it may seem like theater, there is a permanent record of open criticism happening that will haunt the minority leader forever into the future. Everything from work ethic to a dearth of new ideas are all cataclysmic charges.

Now the softball interview with Paul Ryan was a step back. But I don’t want to belittle his ideas, he does in fact put moderate merit to what used to be the Republican consensus financial platform. The problem, and you know how big of a problem it is, is that even Paul Ryan doesn’t get to criticize what he knows his party is incapable of. The modern Republican party does not have the ability to initiate solvency reform in the financial sector, environmental reform at the MMS, or health care reform. Both parties are entrenched with status quo special interest, but the record now shows that only one party has any ability, even if diluted, to be a genesis point for reform or governing.

So when Paul Ryan gets to launch grenades at Obama and his agenda, and Joe Scarborough can’t put the obvious check question “would your party, if in power, be able to enact any financial reform?’ into play, that’s softball.

2) But that’s it, that’s all that was accomplished today in three hours. The sheer void where oil spill coverage should be cannot be part of the program lest the program is ready to start bleeding credibility. Today's show was a majority coverage of features and human interest stories. Not like it was a slow news day either.

Make a spill status snapshot and report on it every day. These questions have to be asked every day from now on:

Where are the oil removal ships, and can they be mapped, and competitively analyzed to understand if there is a reason for their slow assignment?

Is there burning at sea going on and what is the impact?

Is the claims fund in place and what is its financial snapshot of claims paid?

What part of the solution both at sea and in affected communities is still being directed through BP as a defacto NGO?

What is the timeline for the spill being stopped?

Will there be a criminal prosecution for the BP managers who acted recklessly causing this disaster?

Will there be any clawback of compromised activity at the MMS?

I’m sure there are others, but we just can’t watch a show presided over by a man from Pensacola, Florida turn in the result Lebron 3, BP 0.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.