Tuesday, August 31, 2010

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

I was inspired today by a small comment in a Paul Krugman blog post:

...as far as I can tell, hardly any of the new anti-Obamanites is thinking at all about what will really happen once John Boehner is speaker.

I was equally revolted by Morning Joe commentary concerning the coming doom of the mid term elections, without even mentioning the Howard Dean differentiating take from yesterday.

So I made an exercise for us to try and imagine this time next year.

[editors note: there is no way that I will ever top the seminal outing of the Morning Joe idiosynchratic parade contained in last month's video. This is not that at all, and this new one is really just trying to hard focus on one topic that Paul Krugman and I feel like the nation could use some help visualizing]

Monday, August 30, 2010

Headless Horseman

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for August 30th, 2010


1) If anyone sees anything other than great news out of the Glenn Beck debacle over the weekend, I may not be able to help you. The right is agitated and they want change now. But the fact is despite a spoiled brat mentality that covers the entire right of center spectrum, there is no leader. I know the feeling, because I lived it for 6+ years from the other side. John Kerry? Nothing elicits helplessness more fiercely than having the ‘for it before I was against it’ guy running your squad.

Glenn is out there because of the opportunity brought on by the absence of anyone approximating leadership in the Republican Party. Even if there were an heir apparent, his advisers would have him in an ice cave in Saskatchewan avoiding the recent implosion of the right into its two base parts. Recently is misleading, because the right has been best described as a poster child for identity crisis for the better part of a decade. Let gays in or persecute? Brown skinned Republicans or refuge for those of European descent? Like or dislike Eric Rudolph? All of these seemingly absurd questions show the peril of wanting to be on the right side of humanity without offending the extreme base of the party.

Enter master of doublespeak Glenn Beck. I know nothing of this man, proudly. When I try to watch the guys show, anything else seems more entertaining or informative. I basically get the feeling he is just guessing as he goes along with a piece of chalk in his hand. But look, there’s nothing hiding the fact that Rupert and Roger don’t want him actually making sense or his show even watchable. The more of a catacomb of self serving code that the show is, the more of a convenient device it is to be all things to all of the people mentioned above. There were brown skinned people at the rally and people who didn’t like having brown skinned people, well, at the rally. They were too confused by a lack of any real agenda to question why they were in the same circumstance without a partition.

My favorite fact overviewing the rally was the instruction sent out beforehand to avoid signage. It might as well have said: 'make Joe Scarborough guess your stand on the 2nd amendment, don’t make it obvious that you’re a 99.9% over my dead body crowd'. It was very hard to abide by that instruction. The Toby Keith garb was an overwhelming trend.

I can’t wait. Next, Glenn will say “let’s all meet just over the Potomac in Manassas and settle this thing once and for all”. The population is just weak enough right now because of everything that Glenn Beck is not talking about, to believe that might be the answer.

Lead to your untimely demise by a puppet being strung along by an Australian guy, you really need a leader to emerge prior.

2) Joe Scarborough has declared war on Paul Krugman. Krugman is the whipping post for Scarborough’s scathing dismissal of all things John Maynard Keynes. Amazingly, Scarborough gets away with this despite having offered nearly zero solutions of his own. These are difficult times and what this war on Krugman and Keynes embodies is a disastrous demonizing process when we need solutions and everything should be on the table.

Keynes does not equal stimulus in his theoretical entirety. In fact the thing I find the most interesting about Keynes has to do with regulatory policy. Keynes was for significant segmentation of the financial services and would have been absolutely horrified at the black box that currently best describes the lawlessness that the entire industry operates under. Keynes also has another key ingredient: that the private financial sector has an obligation towards progressing a national goal of full employment.

Now as you digest those two things, ponder that they are higher order elements of Keynesian theory than stimulus to replace spending in a time of crisis. So if you want to wage a war on Krugman and Keynes, you owe your subscribers more than the sound bite sensibility you have exhibited in your vitriolic dismissal of these two great economists.

If you think Krugman called you stupid or insane, you know he has zero inhibition about coming on your show to shine a light on the circumstance or context of that. I agree with the Joe Scarborough assertion that once you base your argument in one dimensional insults like this, the argument is essentially over because you’ve stated that the other side is void of credibility. The bottom line is if the answer really does lie inclusive of some of the things these two historically credible people endorse, they need you to help explain it to the lost souls described in section #1 above.

Those guys around you with economic bonifides: Sorkin, Sachs, etc; I don’t think they would endorse a cold shoulder where a significant part of the collective answer might lie. Ask them.

3) You guys have really lost the plot as it pertains to Erin Burnett. The top 3 things got weighted down by a bunch of Cramer-esque props, and now she is back to fighting to get any intelligent discussion going. Mr. Licht, you had something, you had a path to getting Erin to be an asset, and then it kept getting tinkered with. Can’t you get enough control of the show to not lose assets like this with histrionics as the culprit?

We had this discussion a long time ago when the show got bent on features and forgot to cover the news. This is a microcosm of that discussion. Even when you watch Erin on CNBC she rarely gets an opportunity to wax philosophical on what she sees. You own the real estate ideally equipped to get that conversation from her, void of all the necessary CNBC automations, just what she thinks about things. Yet you let it slip away into a cooking show day after day.

It was a notable evolution of the show just minutes earlier when Howard Dean was done with a segment, and by the reverse magic of television did not have to disappear, in fact, reappearing magically to provide balance to at least two more segments. I remember a few weeks ago when the segment Dean was on was notably short, or shortened. Dean is a cornucopia of knowledge from the other side, and I think it was a great part of the show today when Willie Geist got a chance to ask Howard what he thought of Mark Halperin’s negative election prognosis for Democrats in November.

If you recall I was furious about the Halperin prognosis. But look at the track record of the Morning Joe show: health care has no chance, it’s Hillary for sure in '08, I’m sure there’s more, but the point is, you aren’t very good at prognoses regarding the Democrats, because your cast leader is on the other side. He is projecting his wish list on the Democrats, takes his pocket calculator with him, and needs an azimuth check by guys like Howard Dean periodically.

You have people like Dean and Burnett surrounding you, be sure you aren’t cutting them off and then filling in the blanks with what you wish they would have said or predicted.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vote For The Skunk

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for August 25th, 2010


1) I want to talk to the 55 congressional districts bent on pitching their Democratic congressperson for a Republican one. I want to go to work for the DCCC tomorrow and make 55 micro campaigns happen. It would look like this:

A skunk emits a stink that envelopes an entire Country or District, that skunk then says vote for me because it stinks in here, and that skunk is John Boehner and his proxy in your town.

We should have done more to correct economic conditions, but why didn’t we? Could it have anything to do with a campaign of obstruction on the other side? Does the average American voter maintain the irrationality needed to vote for the architects of stagnation in Government?

We should have really reformed health care instead of falsely naming the prevailing capitulation ‘reform’. Does that same voter believe that the capitulation occurred within the Democratic congressional caucus? The agents of dilution were in the White House, Rahm Emmanual, and the Senate, Max Baucus. You are throwing the people the least responsible for the diluted nature of the health care attempt out, and subsequently doing the bidding of the party of the company store.

We should already be looking at the Consumer Protection czar Elizabeth Warren. The fact that we aren’t is likely in the hands of lame duck Senator Chris Dodd, and White House jelly David Axelrod. Do you really want to pitch out your Congressman for someone who will come down on the wrong side of ‘Banks versus People’?

There is virtually no issue where the Republican party has the high ground. They have made a perilous place for us to live in, and are telling you that unless you put them back in office the economy, run by their chief campaign benefactors, will continue to hoard the money from the bailout within our nations corporate coffers and will refuse to do their part to path the nation towards recovery.

That isn’t a campaign slogan, that is a threat, and no fear mongering is base enough for any member of the Republican Party to utilize to regain political control. Once in control, the Republican economic recovery will be designed for those at the top of the food chain and the former middle class will await the descent of crumbs in subsequent time periods.

As you can probably tell, I am infuriated at the glib insinuation that it’s over for the Democratic congress. Mr. Van Hollen feel free to shoot me an email anytime at MorningJoeRebuttal@Gmail.com and I”ll go spend the next 90 days putting the above message into your 55 most perilous districts in a way that I’m not sure traditional campaign tactics are capable of.

Like I said a couple of months ago to Harry Reid’s campaign, if you think the under 35 crowd is ready to let the guy who got health care through the Senate get ousted as a reward for his work, you are mistaken. The same is true here. If you think that the under 35 crowd wants to see the legislative body that most closely resembles the truth in progress regress to rubberstamp land, you have misjudged. They want jobs, but the days of being held hostage by pro-corporate trickle down theory for those jobs are ancient history, and that is all your opponents have.

As a footnote, Chris Christie is coveted property in Republican circles for his determination to be fiscally responsible and not to tax in a time of economic crisis. Anyone who mixes up his state level governing with what happens in Washington is being duped. Executive control of a state is a much different thing, even though it’s not currently obvious to us in California. I also would wait a little bit before getting too glowing on Gov. Christie, and look at the results a couple years in: did he fire teachers or kill sweetheart corporate contracts first? There are $578 million dollar schools across this corrupt land, and they have to be a deficit mending priority.

2) Morning Joe had Jim Cramer on yesterday, and he made small talk over all kinds of mosque related time wasters and baseball and whatever else trotted across a discombobulated set. Then, when it was time for his show he made a special comment on markets that called out everyone but especially the President in a very bearish statement.

Why have a show like Morning Joe if you have these guest on that will make news and have important takes a few hours later, but you have them bogged down in distraction land. This isn’t an indictment of Mika Brzezinski, who did an admirable job of hard line interrogation of anyone she thought was making political opportunism their selfish priority, but more a Chris Licht question. Why do you think it’s a good idea to have your show look like a 10 million dollar jungle gym by missing this stuff? Why not be out in front that if Cramer has a boilup on his mind, if he is genuinely impassioned about something, it must be part of your show?

I don’t agree with a lot of Cramer’s take in his diatribe, the Geithner adulation, the take that Obama’s limitations are the significant part of the malaise in the stock market, that these items are priority reasons why companies aren’t hiring. In fact, in keeping with #1 above, I think it’s actually part of the problem that 30 years into to trickle down economics we have stumbled on the dirty little downside of that school of thought: we have to ask big business to stop holding the country’s middle class hostage, and they get to lobby for a further position of control of the levers of the country that affect them as a result. That is nothing if not showing the opposite nature of civic and corporate intent.

Business is meant to be harnessed, there is a way to do it, but it is evaporating one Citizen’s United at a time. That debate could have been had on the Morning Joe show with the Cramer, but instead, hilarity ensued.

3) Pat Buchanan almost got it out and on the discussion table, but the similarity between the Florida senate election and the eventuality that Mike Bloomberg will be our next president is uncanny. A populist (Bloomberg or Christ) supplants the extremist (Rubio or Palin) as the conservative yet centrist choice in order to have a level head in the game versus the Democrat. Hopefully this premonition is in designs for 2016, driven by the fact that the Florida Democrat is weak as the example and no one is heir apparent to Obama. As an investor, Bloomberg knows running against Obama in 2012 is a risky.

We are forced to accept the trend that there hasn’t been an election with two qualified candidates for President in recent memory. Often, neither are qualified. The job is so hard that when we see people who might be able to do the job, we saw that in Obama and it may yet pan out, we as a nation coalesce around a path to get them in the chair. Bush 43, Gore, Kerry, McCain, Mondale, Dukakis, Romney, Palin or Pawlenty: None of them should have ever been or ever be near that chair.

Bloomberg will likely get a chance to survey the field and walk into the White House unopposed in 2016. He will be seen like the microcosm similarity of Governor Christ in Florida as the sane choice, party regardless. Hillary Clinton stands an outside chance of changing this, but we will know more when and if the Biden-Clinton swap occurs in 2012.

If Bloomberg chooses 2012, it’s not so clear.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

5 Days Of Wedge

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for August 20th, 2010


1) The fever broke around 7:40 AM Friday morning. After 4 consecutive days and half of a fifth, the Morning Joe show got off of the mosque thing as it’s singular mission. What was most difficult was Thursday as the combat troops left Iraq, watching the cast struggle to cover that historic moment, because their head was elsewhere.

They would examine the same 4 facts and circle back every 10 minutes. The Gingrich thing, the majority of Americans thing, the Obama is nebulous thing, the Fox is misrepresenting Rauf thing. Stop. Repeat. The last column here was called 150 minutes talking about the inability to get off the story in an entire workday. Multiply times five.

I could not have pieced together anything to review for the last three days that was discernably different from that last column because of this great short circuit.

But then the fever broke today. There was just too much else accumulated that had been stacking on the sideline waiting for the patient to recover. These things relapse, so the jury is still out regarding whether a rested Morning Joe crew comes back and starts the same discussion all over again Monday.

2) The problem is the wedge. The wedge is supposed to be the shape of a slice of pie and has a sharp chisel nose purposed with driving large things apart one hammer stroke at a time. But all there is currently is a wedge. If relevant news items were dominating the agenda a wedge would look like that piece of pie, but Morning Joe has joined a bucket load of other mainstream media outlets and devoted itself to the wedge issues as a priority. So now the relevant parts of your morning briefing are either non existent or that smaller pie sized sliver while the wedge is 80% of the program.

That is backwards, and a self fulfilling prophecy. Like politicians who blame the media when the media is 90% of their communication structure, reporters and consumers alike who get mad about the wedge issues dominating news agendas appear to be in denial of their own perpetuating behavior. People will tell you all about how there ‘are better things to talk about’ but then confess their consumption of echo chamber media as the dominant pattern of information influx in their life.

Joe Scarborough will tell you he is sick and tired of litmus tests and wedge issues, but then carpet bomb the mosque story with 80% of his program for 5 days. So which is it? Where you for the prioritization of the news into useful order before you ignored your own demand, or did events on the ground collaborate to a new useful order?

There has been nary a day that host and guest alike didn’t redetermine that the priority should be jobs and the economy. But you certainly wouldn’t know about it from facts, interviews, graphs, charts, or other programming on the Morning Joe show. If you let the conspiracy theory part of your personality get the best of you, you might be able to convince yourself that the jobs acknowledgement is not actually an acknowledgement, it’s a trump card to allow an unrespondable complaint to repeatedly hit all media at the expense of the President and Democrats.

We have had this conversation before. We have delineated a long list of solutions to the jobs crisis and then reminded periodically that if you don’t like the jobs quagmire we’re in, be a catalyst for solutions. But solutions have never come from the Morning Joe program. The net result is that a complaint is droned in as an accessory to whatever news item is part of that day’s program as a constant reminder that no matter what else you accomplish this one unsolved crisis against the middle class marches on.

You might, in the aforementioned conspiracy analysis, theorize that if you own the part of the frequency range that is constantly beating the ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ drum, you place yourself in a superior light without having to do any of the heavy lifting of providing solutions. There is a strategy, tested wonderfully by the ‘just say no’ Republican congress, that it’s better to lob grenades than provide solutions or defend a constructive platform.

You would be giving the Morning Joe show too much credit embarking on any theory with strategy at it’s core. No, this is sloppiness and disorganization. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski have become the Jimmy Buffet of political analysis. There is no long term construction, just wake up and talk about whatever is in front of your face, and hope that no one notices that after three years you haven’t built anything other than slightly more photogenic, centrist and impassioned Fox and Friends.

Instead of Margaritaville, this one lives in idiosyncrasy-land with a lost shaker of salt.

3) Who knows what next week brings us. Let us pray that we are free of Mosque-gate and the agenda is chock full of new constructs. Is there a deal that if Israel makes nice with some Palestinian peace talks, they can use some Iraqi airspace? Did Thad Allen come on the show the day before 22 new miles of oil spill were discovered on purpose? Is the United States in double dip denial? Is there empirical data about the concept of a jobless recovery, or is this the first time robber barons have tried to get away with it?

In a perfect world with three hours of coverage, the wedge stuff would go in the part of the hour currently assigned to Willie Geist. It would be made fun of as a feeble attempt to use the ball of string trick to get a nation in distress to ignore its problems and consume the distraction like an opiate. Jon Stewart is king of identifying the stuff that is meant to keep you from grabbing your pitchfork and heading down to 85 Broad Street.

The rest of the Morning Joe show would be 2 segments on the economy, one on one of the other 10 major issues facing the nation and a 4th that connects the dots politically. You have 4 chances an hour to dig into stuff. 12 news segments a day. This week you devoted a majority of those segments to canvassing a wedge issue that will be gone in a month. Were you snookered, or did you snooker?

Hey, I should be going the other way, I should be letting all this useless histrionic remain front and center. Talk of our economic troubles, the lack of cost controls in the Health Care law (stop calling it a bill), 22 mile oil slicks, or Goldman Sachs writing a glee memo about the non impact of financial regulatory reform doesn’t bode well for the Democratic party.

But I am just as mad at the Democrats as I am at the wedge pundits. Obama and the two legislative caucuses have been quick to complain about a lack of credit for their accomplishments. The right is trying to blow them up, and pointing out their lack of effectiveness. The left feels like the big legislative advances are essentially capitulations with big doublespeak titles. I am center left, and for me it’s all about teeth. There are no teeth in any of the accomplishments of the Obama era thus far.

But there is a list of stuff that remains today that had been promised to be addressed:

~Removal of health care exemption from anti trust

~Reestablishment of usury laws

~90% flow through on medical insurance premiums

~Reestablishment of credible regulation at the federal level

~A new Washington with lobbyist restrained to proportionate influence

~A real national green plan

~A government that governs without fine print

~The end of Fannie, Freddie and Sallie larceny by private sector

~An end to the unfunded federal mandate

~Lucidity where doublespeak once reigned.

When you listen to Obama, he does not appear to be entrenched in the typical doublespeak that you hear from others, Republican or Democrat. But that might just be a gift for oratory, because as the Morning Joe show stumbled upon today when the fever broke, Obama, the great campaigner and public speaker, has not notched a ton of essential communications since he took office that people can point to as his list of accomplishments. This net result is when the administration lists it accomplishments, both the left and the right can place asterisks next to each listed item, and this makes it easy for lists of non accomplishments like the one above to prevail.

History tells us the great leaders break on through to the other side right about now, so these long odds might still be a darkest before the dawn statement of hope.

Maybe that’s true for the Morning Joe show too, let’s hope that Joe Scarborough gets his team together and says “Hey it’s been 3 years, lets start planning our day based on getting something accomplished”.

That’s all for today, see you Monday.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

150 Minutes

The Opposition Rebuttal to Morning Joe for August 17, 2010


1) I made a statement a while back that we were headed towards a proxy war with Israel doing our bidding versus an Iran with unbounded nuclear aspirations. As a new blogger of political events, I decided I knew everything and could even tell you the approximate date of said conflagration. That’s like every sports better you know feeling like just taking the Colts isn’t fair enough that it has to be the Colts and the over. Never again. I knew this thing with Israel was serious, but had no basis to predetermine the date.

Now the front pages of big respected magazines are covering this story with the effect of the pre-war march on Iraq. They are talking about strategies: overfly Iraq? Special forces on the ground to be sure? This is advanced stuff.

The component to this story added by Morning Joe was the Zbigniew Brzezinski take that no one really comprehends the devastation to our current energy infrastructure in a conflict involving two fairly paired adversaries if it breaks out. A conflict where no one has real air supremacy. Additionally, Mr. Brzezinski cautioned that the conflict would act to bolster the Iranian Republican Guard and disassemble any of the current segments of the population working towards regime change.

So we are again on the precipice of a big ugly situation, and we have the smartest guy anyone can think of saying what a bad idea it is, and what does the show muse here? “I wonder if they will overfly Iraq”. Ridiculous.

Where is the sense of priority at Morning Joe? It’s like you tired yourself out screaming about minutia and when a crisis showed up you were spent.

2) Secretary Gates probably is mad about Israel. In the ‘all I need’ category of a guy trying to get the war drums silenced in our lifetime, or at least in his lifetime so that he can go back to his retirement life on a yacht in the Gulf (of Mexico). He is in the process of setting a deadline of his own with his retirement slated for ‘somewhere in 2011’. Sound familiar?

Gates stated in an interview that he wanted his successor to be named in a non election cycle to prevent …. political pyromania. Yup, I got to use it already.

I think we all forget a little bit about the context of Gates’ recruitment. George W. Bush got some spine in the lame duck period of his presidency and started saying no to Dick Cheney. Next thing you know Rumsfeld got fired, a surge switched our fortunes in Iraq, and I’ve never seen Raytheon Corporation so mad.

But with that moment, Gates was Bush crying uncle, that he could not trust anyone near him and had to go outside of his administration for a veteran technician. Gates was seen as a Cy Young relief pitcher and his confirmation was never more than studious. An air traffic controller would face tougher scrutiny. It was obvious we needed to do some governing, those were the days.

Now he has survived in 2 administrations, is seen as non partisan, and is talking seriously about helping Barney Frank and Ron Paul get the scalpel out on the US defense expenditure.

What needs to be said, is that our Defense Secretary needs to be like our Supreme Court Justices right now, that we can’t expect to finish our wars and have military play its part in re aligning it’s budget with our ability and relative parity with the world. That is exactly what won’t happen one wonk later, or in 2012. You can set your watch to it. Raytheon is a buy in 2012, when they get a fish back in the Defense Department.

Thank god for small favors, as we got 5 minutes on the story and interviewed Fred Kaplan who had just interviewed the Secretary. We got something where there could have been a lot more.

3) But that was because Morning Joe decided to toss a full 150 minutes at the mosque story. Look, I know people get caught up in stuff, but the team effort that produces this show needs to grip in to how mono-functional an effort like today is. To the point of tedium, you have turned the effectiveness of your program to that of a 30 minute show capable of only 3 short segments. Even Mike Barnicle ran out of things to say, seeming nickelodeon in his canned take on the 4th repeat.

There is consensus, but because no one will come on the show to take the other side, that consensus is not effective. I don’t think its outlandish to politely request that you try and display the variety you’re capable of given that you are 180 minutes of completely variable programming. Droning for 150 minutes is malpractice.

We get it, you don’t like the Republicans using the mosque story. We think they are all using it to hide the fact that ground zero is still a hole in the ground.

Great… next!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Political Pyromania

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for August 16th, 2010


1) No one cares about the mosque issue. People making fools of themselves drudging over it accomplish only one thing other than self imposed credibility damage: they remind all Americans that ground zero is still a hole in the ground where a grand replacement project should already be in place or at least started. It’s a national disgrace that the hole is still there and we have to pick ancillary battles to forget we can’t rebuild it. That’s not even the lowest moment. The lowest moment is that the greatest Governor in the United States, Michael Bloomberg, (the mayor, but stay with me) is presiding over the cataclysmic failure of rebuilding progress at ground zero. Where do you accumulate the hope in that picture?

I cannot believe that all of the analysis Morning Joe and all of it’s colleague programs are charging ad rates for leaves that larger failure out, yet endlessly analyzes the lemmings at the mosque cliff as they stream over. Yea, Scarborough and Mark McKinnon are Republicans decrying the spectacle of their party, that is a short serenade, for it’s not better to be right on a wrong issue than to remove a wrong issue.

Mike Barnicle made nomenclature history when he described this nonsense as political pyromania. Wikipedia has been updated accordingly. When we see political opportunism occurring anywhere where cooler heads should be prevailing, we will think about how Barnicle captured the essence of what these people are doing. Here’s hoping that this is the end of the Gingrich presidential bid, but all that extremism in Russia got us Putin, so who knows.

The country is in parts, the middle is now 60% of the country, with two 20% tails of Tea Party and evangelicals on one side and Dennis Kucinich on the other. That 60% remembers all the talking head aren’t rebuilding the towers when the mosque issue comes up, and thinks this is yet another ball of string so that they will be sold another bill of goods.

2) Unfortunately, Mr. Scarborough might have a point about the demagoguery of Social Security. I’m not sure which people not named Paul Ryan who still hold the idea in effective regard. I do know no one is really proposing it, and thus have to believe that the President used his radio address this week to make a political charge against his opponents that is making an issue where there is none. We don’t face a privatization of the Social Security System, and we shouldn’t claim we do.

I remember where I was when I heard that Chuck Grassley had gone on the stump and quoted the “pulling the plug on grandma” line. I was infuriated. Mainly, I had little trust in the Baucus and Grassley proceedings from the outset despite the rosy picture painted in the media that this was going to teach us bipartisanship, and to be proven right in my mistrust with this full betrayal was a low moment. To me, Max Baucus had sold the Democratic party and the Obama electorate a bill of goods and to this day he has never confronted his committee partner’s turncoat opportunism. It is the person who empowered the betrayal that usually is at fault.

Who is making Obama scare grandma from the other side? Is it Matty Iglesias? Is it Rahm Emmanuel? What does this have to do with that 60% middle of America?

We have to transcend this stuff. We can be as mad as possible about the Grassley stuff, until we do it ourselves. Then, we have to forgive Grassley, Palin, Foo, and Gingrich. See how expensive that is? Those people are nightmares in doublespeak, it should be our mission to avoid their path.

3) Quite an article in the NY Times over the weekend about our raging anti terror war in Yemen and anywhere else not named Afghanistan or Iraq. Obama is painted as the most fearsome warrior in recent memory for his use of US airpower and CIA operations across two continents to be sure that the next Afghanistan doesn’t occur in a failed state du jour.

With all the talk of AfPak on Morning Joe, it’s surprising that the elements of the story subscribers might find useful just don’t show up. We never bring up the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, a natural opponent of the Taliban that had as one of it’s doctrines a womens bill of rights. We never bring up the CIA offensive that routed the Taliban before US ground forces ever joined the fight.

Obama does. Joe Biden really does. What is going on in Yemen and Western Pakistan is what our role in the region will look like in total in 2012. We won’t have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan then, we will likely have a CIA level empowerment that resets the balance of power with Karzai in the middle, a newly resurgent Northern Alliance of tribes in the north, and an empowered within reason version of the Taliban in the south. Taliban in name only, as the stakes will return to Taliban meaning Pakistani invasion mercenaries, leaving them little political favor.

It may take a generation to remove the Taliban. The US can’t afford to be there that long. The Afghani elements that oppose the Taliban will win the hearts and minds of their country, and be the first legitimate government to see an opportunity unseat Karzai. Karzai is not a bad guy, he is just weak, like George W. Bush, and in that vacuum, corruption runs rampant.

The Morning Joe show is providing this transition period from a hot war to a covert war great cover by minimizing the political exposure of such a move. The covert war as a strategy had horrible public opinions during the Iran-Contra affair, but now seems like a wonderful alternative to decades of meaningless but deadly desert maneuvers with conventional forces. The more Joe Scarborough rails on the war as it currently exists, the closer we get to a full re-engagement at the lower level.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tell It Like It Is, Unless You Prefer Platitude

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for August 12th, 2010


1) The Weiner vs. Scarborough confab is confusing. Mr. Weiner is completely guilty of using semantics like a juvenile, Mr. Scarborough is guilty of using the airwaves like a juvenile. Mr. Scarborough has opted to forgo the winning logic, which is available to him – that Mr. Weiner claiming that the amendment resistant yes votes are yes votes and free of any obstruction by the virtue of their yes vote - simply to pound out a loser argument that the Democrats are as bad as the Republicans about putting negative efforts ahead of governing.

Let’s break this down. Mr. Weiner when asked why the blue dogs would walk if the immigration amendment was there didn’t answer the question and avoided by the semantic trick “but they voted yes”. A yes vote on an unpassed bill has the same effect of a no vote on an unpassed bill by virtue of the failure of the greater goal. This is further questionable as the chosen strategy because they have these things called whips in Congress that reduce the surprise of voting far less than Mr. Weiner would let on.

Mr. Scarborough rather than parsing that failure of logic, in fairness he may not have had a chance given the vacuum of willingness to actually debate, decided to camp on the ‘Pelosi opted to let the vote have a procedural defeat to paint the failure on the opposition”. The problem is that strategy works, the bill is alive today because the Republicans will not live down the no vote. They will either have to compromise on the amendment or vote yes to the 2/3rds version. It’s bad, but it’s hypocritical to attack Pelosi where the Republican strategy lives. The other side does every obstructive tactic available to it hoping to find salvations in future elections.

Bottom line, Mr. Scarborough had the high ground and didn’t use it. Instead he participated in a useless display. That makes this episode less about the merit of the debate, and more about what’s in it for Joe Scarborough. That question will answer itself, because the US needs an influx of young teachers and Congressmen, and if Scarborough comes off like a bitter pill in the next 5 Weiner interviews, think Mark Haines here, how long can the show go on if it kills off these hopeful influxees one by one?

2) All you ever see is the ‘keep calm and carry on’ thing. You had an author on today that said his book describes the ‘Zeros Decade’ as Wall Street and Washington willfully ignoring the precipice before them. They likely utilized a similar mantra on their way to the next political or economic free fall. They both had them. So when you see the show spend so much time in the analysis that was not kind to Robert Gibbs, you wonder if lucid recognition of facts on the ground will ever be welcome again.

Mr. Gibbs is apparently guilty of putting things like elections in best, worst, most likely analysis openly, despite the conventional wisdom of selling a company line no matter the circumstances. Mr. Gibbs is apparently and most currently guilty of openly telling the far left, as Ezra Klein puts it “stop complaining about things we couldn’t provide for you in our administration, that you couldn’t provide for yourself, and that the Republicans would never do for you”.

By acknowledging that this rift in his party exists, he takes that party up the evolutionary plane by one level. A level not yet mastered by the Republicans who are forced to return to their districts and sermonize extreme politics of their extreme base every election cycle. The Democratic party is attempting to tell it like it is, the center needs to rule, the extremes need to understand their outlier status and can expect proportionate net effect instead of unrealistically thinking they will drive the party. That unrealistic expectation is the Achilles heel of the Republicans, because it ages them, it drives them away from a governable center over time as the extreme values become a smaller and smaller demographic.

Mr. Gibbs is self correcting. In the last administration he would’ve been replaced by President Cheney in seconds. It’s just a refreshing reminder that the politburo is gone.

Keep calm and carry on should be a mantra of acknowledgement rather than avoidance.

3) As I watch endless ‘we can’t afford it’ rationale from Afghanistan to entitlements to health care to stimulus, I am just shocked at the lack of acknowledgement of the most obvious solutions to our current malaise. Money solves every thing. A penny saved is a penny earned, but we did not solve the Reagan deficit with cost control, as the host of Morning Joe would have you believe. Any congress can force a balanced budget or a pay as you go requirement, if there is adequate revenue.

Not to diminish the historic effect of the two things, revenue and some salient expenditure control happening at the same time, but Bill Clinton raised money. He increased tax revenue, then he benefited from the dot.com wealth effect, which single handedly did the heavy lifting for him. Where did Mark Cuban get all that money anyway? Do you remember?

We have no current appetite to talk in any manner other than platitudes about this way out of our trouble. To understand why, and why the whole world is fixated on austerity like a goldfish on a flake of food, is to understand the breakdown in mutual goals of the government and Wall Street. The business guys are saying you are giving all the deficit away in bad government spending, the main street guys are saying business appears to be de-incentivized to prefer domestic growth.

Corporate taxes amalgamate to around 7% of national revenue. Real revenue occurs when individuals materially participate in the path forward for their companies, like stock options. These revenues are capital gains. Proprietary trading is lobbying heavily to avoid capital gains, but currently pays them. Real revenue occurs at full employment at the lowest sustainable income tax rate.

The E=MC2 of this is to make a polynomial integration of your domestic goals, something like domestic job growth plus green technology competitive advantage plus domestic manufacturing plus trade deficit plus provable saving of federal expenditure plus normative equity of executive pay = reduction of capital gains plus reduction of corporate tax liability. If you make an investment on a domestic green technology facility, you have a 67% superior upside potential versus a gain subject to a 40% capital gains tax exposure.

Additionally, what if you made a clawback laundering mechanism that released the liability of any dollar invested as displayed above from any liability found later via improper participation in the mortgage or derivatives crisis, or tobacco liability, or usury irregularity? A way to answer the clawback wolf’s cry and the need to funnel money through the US first, NAFTA second, China last.

It’s simple, we got our first surplus via the wealth effect of fool’s gold spun off of the dot.com crisis. What if we privatized our necessary next recovery and solved our federal deficit at the same time?

This is about the 5th time I’ve mentioned that the answer to the problem is on the revenue side. I see green shoots in small unsynthesized steps towards using capital gains to improve our fiscal status. But it will take an integration to make a solution.

All of you bickering about cost side economics look as orange as John Boehner to me. You need to realize that the buyers remorse you have about not negotiating better with the banks on the bailout is about to have a second chance at redemption. John Boehner wants you thinking about cost because he doesn’t want you thinking about the solution until his corporate benefactors can get all corporate taxes and capital gains out of the tax reach.

Then it would be too late, because you will be giving the same tax break to Walmart who is selling you goods made by China at slave wages, that you would be giving to Tesla or the Bloome Box. You have a chance.

Don’t be that orange guy.

That's all for today, see you tomorrow.

Monday, August 9, 2010


The Morning Joe Rebuttal for August 9th, 2010


1) The dynamic that seems to work for the Morning Joe show is when Scarborough surrounds himself with antagonists, keeps maybe one ally and takes them all on kung fu style. The show today would’ve capsized to the right if it had to pass a seaworthiness test, and screamed: bring me Katrina Vanden Heuvel at the top of its lungs.

Nice safe edits of the Sunday talk shows ensued with the favorite being the tape of the two former treasury secretaries agreeing with everything Joe Scarborough ever said, ever. Ruben and O’Neil were in rare form on GPS on Sunday. I wish the Morning Joe show would’ve spent some time talking about Paul O’Neil talking about how he got fired for his loud recognition that WMD was a fallacy or that the Bush tax cuts were catastrophic. No great mystery why that part didn’t make it to the agenda of the day.

To be fair, this show skewers John Boehner every single time. They taunt him, they mock his takes, and as of this morning refer to his appearance as ‘distracting’. It’s always a good day when that is the context of Boehner’s mention on the show, but it appears to be white noise at this point and does not counterbalance the abbreviated representation of the Ruben/O’Neil interview.

Another outright passive aggressive smackdown occurred when Joe Scarborough at the end of the Erin Burnett segment listened to Erin postulate that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts will have an at best marginal effect on domestic growth. Upon hearing a take that need to be assassinated at once, Scarborough went to his ‘hypnosis’ face and deep froze the conversation straight to commercial.

But Haass, Halperin, Wallace joined Scarborough and Geist in what amounts to a televised 5-0 verdict on any issue that showed up. Halperin might have seemed like he was dissenting, but that was actually Mark wishing that Democrats would actually be even more extreme and run the ship on the rocks in the 3 months after the election, in hopes that a regime change could be had more possibly in 2012.

2) If I could have asked a question of Jeffrey Sachs, it would have been: does your abandonment of stimulus have to do solely with buyer’s remorse from the mediocrity of the Pelosi plan, or do you share Scarborough’s ban on anything called stimulus? It’s really two different takes on the issue. We have a sinful amount of envy for the recession era investments made by the Chinese, and we have no appetite to have Pelosi II.

But Scarborough ran with the Sachs accompaniment as if it was an endorsement, and that’s just not congruency. It’s OK to say there’s some coincidental parts of the two things, but what I hear when I hear Sachs riff on stimulus or health care or financial regulatory reform is a disenchantment with the diluted solutions of our government and an intent not to fund counterproductive governing bodies. That is worlds away from a small government conservative that would’ve created an equal fiscal catastrophe with misplaced austerity.

I am not surprised by Scarborough magnetizing his position to smart peoples takes that sound like they have similar elements. But there needs to be proof sent out by this claim that Scarborough’s take was something other than extreme with no provable benefit.

So should that question have gone the way I would bet everything it would, I would have followed up with another: if there was a provable architecture and an executive intent to a second stimulus, a do over with a top to bottom plan, could you endorse that? It would separate Sachs from Scarborough and prove that my remorse is solvable, but only by government that adapts to its previous failures.

They are two different takes, don’t adopt it because you won’t like it when it grows up.

3) On Friday, the Sebastian Junger visit followed up by the David Ignatius interview was as good as it’s been on the Morning Joe show in a long while. I looked up the film and found it nearby with one paltry midday showing, but there is zero chance ill miss it. While I love the segment and the reverence, there just doesn’t seem to be any relationship being made that the movie and this book is no different than the WikiLeaks situation.

People trying to bury WikiLeaks will find that Junger’s book and movie won’t make them happy, either. So the question that should be fairly levied here is: why the reverence in one spot and the demonization of the other? I have consistently called the Julian Assange effort a courageous one. I would like to see an explanation about the two different treatments by this show.

We all like Tom Hanks, we all watched The Pacific, so how is Assange a spy and Junger a hero? They are both heroes. I elect as judge of this challenge: Dr Jeffrey Sachs. Good luck winning that one.

Ignatius made everyone’s head spin with real news that the President is trying to look in unorthodox spots like Iran to solve the problems he is facing. If nothing else, the fact that this train of though exists is very good news.

But like we all know, we may want to give that a minute or a week, lest we get bested by quick moving facts.

That's all for today, see you tomorrow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tiananmen In America

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for August 5th, 2010


1) You can’t really write this column daily right now. One has to let the worm turn and that takes at a minimum 2 shows in a lot of cases. There is often not enough material to cover, not because there is not enough news, but because the show either chooses something you just wrote about to go nuts on, like the EPA not knowing the long term effects of the dispersants, or because they go after a subject superficially at first, knowing themselves and that any full take will lead to embarrassing revisions later.

The 14th amendment thing is one of those. The Morning Joe show had a take that the Republicans were far, far off the grid to be debating a repeal of the 14th amendment, but of course, that wasn’t the real debate. Pat Buchanan was able to quickly parse that the debate was about anchor babies, a subject that deserves debate and should in fact be covered in any forthcoming immigration legislation.

But the Morning Joe debate that yielded “the Republicans are dead wrong on this one” raged for all of yesterday unimpeded by the narrow scope of the Republican’s intended exploration. Not being a Republican, I should have been content to let that lumping of the issue go on unabated for as long as the cast was willing to trot through it at this superhumanly superficial level.

But if anything, the shouting despite the facts version of manufactured debate on Morning Joe is best highlighted when a faux separation from the right is the attempted engineering. This takes a complex issue and reduces it to a litmus decision: are you for or against repealing the constitution if that’s what it takes to solve our immigration crisis? We recently were forced to submit to this type of dilution of our constitutional rights with the Patriot act, now we’re looking at the 14th amendment from another angle given the next day coincidence of the California gay marriage rule.

Now Joe Scarborough has a problem, and at it’s root is the utter hypocrisy of the Republican party.

If you really want to selectively ignore equal protection under the law so that the institution of marriage can discriminate against the union of same sex life partners, then how different is the selection of certain territorial births as not eligible for citizenship?

If I were to play the other side, on which I am firmly and permanently entrenched, I think the 14th amendment needs to protect gay marriage rights universally in this country, and I would welcome a debate about the exclusion of anchor babies from automatic citizenship

Republicans need the whole 14th amendment debated now that they want automatic citizenship repealed and they want to turn off the equal protection clause for gay marriage. Joe Scarborough can’t explain his anger yesterday about how ridiculous the Republicans were for their anti-14 stance, then explain in any reconciled manner his state’s right to void equal protection stance today. Maybe he can, double speak is a talent that allows you to be on both sides of an issue with a straight face.

2) While Mr. Scarborough had a point that today’s cast was largely identifiable as the coastal blue state types who would always support the evolution of our nation towards recognizing gay marriage, the proposing that the red state average voter should have a right to ban gay marriage at the state level is a revolting throwback to fiefdoms of hate that existed throughout the darkest moments of our nation’s history. What if the blue state types got away with this, would you arm the red state types and send them in to quash the liberal rebellion?

Isn’t that sort of what the real agenda of the Tea Party movement is all about? They lost the election and this is how red state America shows off how to be a sore loser? Isn’t that the core of the issue that ‘we have to take our country back’ types everywhere are militant in their disapproval of gays, immigrants, a black president, and Chinese debt?

Encouraging the middle of the country to stand up for their right to hate gay marriage is the sort of pandering that gets people killed. Elections everywhere have shown that 55% of Americans want the illegal immigrants out, and want gay marriage banned. This is 1859 all over again. The evolution is inevitable, and for all of the people who expressed wonderment that there weren’t tanks in the streets following the crooked path of the 2000 election of George W. Bush, where is that same determination not to have these similar evolutionary steps be peaceful?

How many Republicans are going to pander this way, the same way Joe Scarborough did all day today, to create an anger in their voter base? State’s rights! You have to let the states decide for themselves! In 1859, some states decided for themselves that slavery was enshrined in their states principles. How did that turn out?

Arizona is a bellwether for this kind of sentiment. The roots of the immigration law there are people who believe that it’s OK to promote a society based on the domination of settlers of ‘European descent’. They fear they will be overrun soon and that the lack of federal enforcement of the current immigration statutes have created an existential crisis for them, and that union be damned, they will fix this problem for themselves if the alternative is to let their state become dominated by a different demographic.

What happens if 30 states create anti immigration legislation, ban gay marriage, repeal the health care reform, and do so cooperatively in a soft secession? What next?

3) Speaking of faux anger, that charade today about the Peter King vs. Anthony Weiner dispute was a real step backward for the show. All the same recent symptoms: we can make the government change course by shaming them, making a complex issue a litmus issue, we are the first people to have this take, these were all present in their altruistic glory. All were regrettable occurrences.

Mr. Scarborough, even Peter King told you why the House of Representatives took the course that led to a 2/3rds approval process. He told you that they did it to prevent ‘poison pill’ amendments that have become customary tools of obstruction on behalf of the Republicans as they lock step towards trying to shut the government down. We have talked forever about the concept of Republican amendments attached to bills only to make them politically costly for those voting yes, knowing that the author of the amendment is inserting it even though he will vote no on the ultimate passage of the bill. That is dishonest governing and the type of gamesmanship that you should be angry about.

But no, here we go again, let’s say Nancy Pelosi’s name as spitefully as possible in the neighborhood of 30 times while ranting that this congressional leadership is to blame for it’s attempt to fend off unsavory tactics of it’s opponents.

You can’t vote no on a bill and put “this bill is criminally unjust” amendments on the bill as an additional condemning step. Congress is broken, and myopic interpretation adorned with an element of anger based fakery just won’t help matters.

Did you see Peter King go from his normal ‘waiting to get mad’ self to a sheepish ‘this is a mess’ regret? You made that happen by misguided histrionics, they were all ducking out of embarrassment.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Stuck In LA Traffic

The Morning Joe Rebuttal for August 3rd, 2010


1) Why even have a show? This three hour program boiled down to 3 significant events: Howard Dean in all of his abbreviated glory, Mike Pence in all of his Joe Barton - BP apologist glory, and the Rolling Stone refute that directly followed it. Those were, in fact, amazing segments.

But this observation is about what happened to the other two and a half hours. Credit the cast for having an amazing liveliness given a 3 AM airtime, but you forgot to read the news until an hour later. You came on like it was a small market talk show and ranted about polls and the Obama strategy of painting the Republicans as a collective step backwards, not because it’s not true, but because of the words they used to communicate the phenomenon.

We had a bit of a blow up last week when we, the Morning Joe show and the Rebuttal, collectively had shown little ability to write a new caption to this unchanging photograph. The Morning Joe show has lost it’s evolving nature, hopefully just for the moment, and it’s feet, the giant size 17s of its anchor, are stuck in top-kill mud. You are currently exposed anytime anyone with a new idea comes on the show as being a sit in the weeds and dumb down anything you see rather than engage entity.

News flash: you are a perfect representation of the Republican party when you do that. Is it really 9th grade unprofessionalism to make the claim Obama made yesterday? Or is it 9th grade unprofessionalism that he is seeking out to engage? I can’t help but notice that when you waste two shows like yesterday and today, you do so looking more like the future of local news on Fox owned and operated stations, full of agendized talking points that lead directly to non discourse.

2) OK, let’s move on to achievement number one. Mike Pence came on Morning Joe today and did what so many Republicans have done recently: he came down on the wrong side of an issue, and then defended it adamantly. It is so, so awesome that a guy from Indiana took a photo op down with the ‘small people’ in Louisiana and on the way to his big project of damning Obama for the drilling moratorium tried to paint dispersants as a good guy in this story. It stuck out when he said it, eons before the cast starting lobbing grenades at it. It stuck out like saying the holocaust was made up or that we owe BP an apology.

I am not going to claim some scientific high ground to the contrary. I have listened to and read from many outlets from NPR to Fox on the matter and it is a story that we don’t have the complete answer to in any sense. But the early indications are that 1.8 million gallons of dispersant were poured on the oil spill to make it invisible, in a strategy that could’ve been called ‘out of site out of mind’. The collective of the dispersant and the now unremovable oil is now set to disperse via microbiorganisms. This has never been tried at this level and has never been tested in a half-life of toxicity sense ever. So if you are worried about the economy of the region, why would you undercut it’s primary revenue sources: the fishing industry and tourism? Do you want to come down and hit a restaurant? Do you want to come down and jump on a day boat? It looks good! Do you want to go to your local store and get gulf shrimp and feed it to your kids?

We don’t know any of the long term answers to a rash decision made far outside of the control of our President. But short of details from a trusted source, amongst which the EPA and BP cannot be counted, we are likely going to be avoiding some of those important gulf business for the microbioorganic half life of about a generation.

I can’t help but think of the possible outcomes, and when you drift into that thought, you start thinking about Agent Orange and Japanese Mercury poisoning. Americans with family values will wait steadfastly for a credible environmental analysis from multiple trusted sources before thinking the ‘All Clear’ that Mike Pence tried to serve up today was anything other than the ‘Mission Accomplished’ for this news cycle.

Oh, and for an epilogue, let’s agree that the drilling moratorium might just be a moot point as of now and if that’s the only important revenue stream available to the region, maybe through the poisoning of 5% of the entire planet, we have cleared the way to return to ‘Drill Baby Drill’, nice work Pencie, that’s an American Energy Solution.

3) So…was Howard Dean booked for the second 5 minutes of his segment, or did Joe Scarborough install a hook button to exit any guest he can’t better from the outset? It gets worse when Scarborough goes into his first serious question and it’s the ‘demogoguery’ of Paul Ryan, a guy we have complimented here and there, and it’s a blatantly hypocritical use by Joe of litmus politics. Entitlement spending is a great point to debate, but when a Democrat makes the case that entitlements won’t be touched until military spending is also on the table, and Scarborough divides a compromise into two parts so he can try and foist a ‘party of no’ example on those Dems, he undercuts in the neighborhood of 500 of his legitimate arguments elsewhere.

Incidentally, Scarborough did this exact same thing yesterday to Anthony Weiner. At least yesterday Scarborough had to toss in a ‘we need to have you back’, believable or not. You don’t ‘have’ these guys back, friend, you get out debated, then you study up, then you try again and hope that it’s not revealed that these are two paths for which you do not possess a way forward.

After a scalding embarrassment about the congress, health care and the politics of governing a nation, Scarborough appeared to give up, we call it around here ‘pulling a Blumenthal’, but not before trying to tee up an antagonizing stimulus discussion between Dean and Andrew Ross Sorkin, but Sorkin didn’t pursue the item instead opting to go after technical items about having rich people be forced out of entitlements. It was as if Sorkin said ‘look, we have to move on from that conversation at some point’, and moved on.

That is the whole problem with Morning Joe currently. This powerful format is mired in it’s adolescence. Not quite grown up and cognizant of the importance of an evolving agenda, but expected to put in adult hours every day. These kinds of regressive periods are to be expected, they have to be ironed out without a historical template to guide that process, and there is an incredibly bright future to this format and this cast. I know that they will wake up soon and say stagnation is certain death, seek out revival and go somewhere uncharted with the show that uses the element of the media in today’s political process to further progress in a new way.

Just not today.

That’s all for today, see you tomorrow.