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.

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