Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Cerebral Is as Cerebral Does

Hillary at Blair House, April 4, 2011 (during a bilateral with Shimon Peres).

Morning, news junkies.

First up… a personal note of congratulations to my blogger friend, Lake Lady, who on Wednesday was elected mayor of her small town in MO. Mayor Lake Lady, you are a true inspiration! Throughout your campaign, I’ve been reminded of this quote from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Now, onto my Saturday reads…

Once the politics are over, we can assess the policy with clear eyes. And I think you’ll find that the failure to put the 2011 budget to bed in the last Congress cost the economy $60 billion.

  • ABC News asks the $64,000 question: Where were the women in the budget debate? Here’s the other $64,000 question, the one that the MSM–as well as most of the prog blogs for that matter–won’t ask: What happened when Nancy Pelosi and “This is what a feminist looks like” Obama were at the Stupakistan table? (The war on women didn’t start with the Republican midterm gains…it just got an upgrade from easily ignored tropical storm to Cat 5 hurricane.)
  • The Atlantic’s James Fallows has a couple of posts up on the “uncertainty tax” that the possibility alone of a government shutdown has imposed on government operations, particularly at Hillary Clinton’s State Department… the first post is called Third World on the Potomac, followed up by Government-Shutdown Watch: An Inside View. The good news: Whether or not there was a shutdown, Hillary’s meeting with the highest-ranking woman in the Chinese government, State Councilor Liu Yandong, got the okay to proceed as planned next week. The not-so-good news: According to a reader whose wife works at the State department and wrote in to Fallows (see the “Inside View” link above), “it seems as though the government has been doing nothing this week other than preparing for the shutdown.” Another interesting tidbit from Fallows’ reader:

A semi-hard news tidbit: the disagreement over Planned Parenthood is a smokescreen to hide the fact that they can’t agree on the numbers. What I find so troubling about this is that the WH has met the Republicans about 70% of the way, yet Boehner keep moving the goal posts. Why the WH can’t this storyline into the media is beyond me. But then again, as Dan Balz observes today, we are seeing perhaps yet another example of a cerebral leadership style that is still not working.

  • I’d also like to say that when it comes to the kind of intelligence that matters, cerebral is as cerebral does. It’s not mere lack of ideas that is plaguing our politics, nor is it as benign as the sanitized “cerebral style” meme would like you to believe. What is plaguing our politics is lack of action and political will. Simple and reasonable ideas like ones on closing the corporate tax loopholes only get floated by the Bernie Sanders in our political class, precisely to be designated as outside the realm of what’s achievable in our current political system.
  • Speaking of political bankruptcy, and to link to James Fallows again… he has written an excellent takedown of the “brave and serious” Mr. Ryan, in which he elaborates on his contention that Ryan’s budget proposal is neither brave nor serious but rather “partisan and gimmicky,” which — as Fallows notes — would be par for the course as far as these sorts of plans go, if it weren’t for the laudatory way it has been received.
  • Meanwhile, here are the two descriptors Krugman uses for Ryan’s plan: Ludicrous and Cruel. From the link:

In the past, Mr. Ryan has talked a good game about taking care of those in need. But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, of the $4 trillion in spending cuts he proposes over the next decade, two-thirds involve cutting programs that mainly serve low-income Americans. And by repealing last year’s health reform, without any replacement, the plan would also deprive an estimated 34 million nonelderly Americans of health insurance.

So the pundits who praised this proposal when it was released were punked. The G.O.P. budget plan isn’t a good-faith effort to put America’s fiscal house in order; it’s voodoo economics, with an extra dose of fantasy, and a large helping of mean-spiritedness.

  • Predictable as ever, David Brooks says Ryan’s proposal is the stuff of his political wet dreams: “Liberals are on the warpath. Republicans are aroused. This is great. It’s democracy — how change begins.” Ick. If what is meant by ‘change’ is the American public losing their lunch while listening to the chattering classes hail the destruction of what’s left of the FDR/LBJ social policy legacy, then I’m sure Republicans and DINOs alike will continue to get off on such change short-changing of the American people.
  • Where was the beltway punditry last month? Why didn’t they breathlessly praise Bernie Sanders for his Emergency Deficit Reduction Act? Did he not boldly provoke a debate we need to have in this country? Moreover, Sanders’ ideas were actually sound and in line with what the public wants. Paul Ryan’s ideas are neither. Again, we don’t just have a Where’s Waldo president. We have a Where’s Waldo fourth estate.

Are you fighting for freedom of speech and assembly and representative government, those supporters must be asking, or is it inadvertently a fight that will ultimately bring you your own versions of Tea-Partiers and gridlock and the complete sacrifice of national interests on the altar of cheap political showmanship?

  • Switching gears back to Hillaryland… John McCain at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast earlier this week, upon being asked to rate Obama’s national security team: “I think the international star is Secretary Clinton. She has done a really tremendous job.” Can’t argue with that.

  • Here’s some of that tremendous job our Energizer Secretary is doing… via NPR, Clinton Has Tough Words For China On Human Rights. The headline is in reference to yesterday when Hillary unveiled the 35th annual report to Congress on human rights. Click on the link for a transcript of Hillary’s remarks. (Hillary also announced a new website: humanrights.gov. In Hillary’s words, This site will offer one-stop shopping for information about global human rights from across the United States Government. It will pull together reports, statements, and current updates from around the world.)

As Hooper put it in a Tweet this morning, “Today, my friends, we have more proof that exposure to our lives = @freedomtomarry.”

  • Trump, not content to shit or get off the presidential pot just yet, has sent a crack investigative team into Hawaii looking for god only knows what. The only ‘shocking’ discovery Trump could dig up as far as I’m concerned is the whereabouts of Obama’s long lost core convictions. This is the only mystery worth considering when it comes to any ESOTUS (Empty Suit of the United States.) The rest is static…or, to paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt… Great minds look for core convictions, average minds seek to be part of ‘cool’ events, and small minds continue to ask for Obama’s or Trig’s birth certificate.
  • Salon’s Alex Pareene: South Carolina GOP confirms five clowns for first 2012 debate. A depressing slate of bozos — Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Gingrich, Buddy Roemer, and Rick Santorum — but as Pareene says, “This is the preliminary list of losers, so there is still time for more clowns to RSVP.” I think that pretty much sums up the outlook for 2012, both the primaries and the general.

  • Keeping up with the one chance we have at something other than a bozo, even though it’s a long shot… CNN: Huntsman heading to South Carolina in May — to deliver a commencement address on the the 7th. “But a source close to Huntsman’s potential presidential campaign told CNN that it’s unlikely he will participate in the debate. The source said, though, that no final decision will be made until he returns from China.” Huntsman is also scheduled to give a commencement address in New Hampshire on the 21st.
  • Public Policy Polling says at this point, only Romney would make NH competitive. Blech. No mention of Huntsman in any of the other matchups either. I have a hunch he’d make it more competitive than Romney would.

The presumption that Barack Obama, no matter what he does or doesn’t do, enjoys nearly unanimous black support is a veritable wall around the president. But who does it protect him against? Republicans? Banksters? Tea partyers, warmongers, torturers? Or black people and the left, his supposed base?

  • Last Saturday I highlighted the plight of black migrant workers in Libya. BAR’s Glen Ford has an update. The NYT Sunday magazine and the UK Globe and Mail have finally devoted some ink to this story. Like Ford says, “As usual, it is only after the U.S. government has embarked irrevocably on the warpath that corporate media reveal the flaws in the rationale.”
  • I’ve been watching The Kennedys on the Reelz channel, and I have to say, despite all the critical pans of the series and even with its glaring weaknesses (chief among them, the omission of a whole lot of Kennedys), I am enjoying it. Perhaps it’s just the RFK fan in me, but I love watching Bobby and the relationship between Bobby and Jack through the lens of fine acting and a humanizing script. Anyhow, for anyone who’s missed out… there’s a Saturday marathon to catch up on episodes 1-6 today (April 9th), starting at 2 pm eastern. There will be another replay of episodes 1-6 tomorrow before the miniseries concludes in a 2-hour finale (episodes 7 and 8.)
  • I also just finished up a tv marathon of my own the other day trying to get through all of the second season of Top Chef Masters before all the episodes disappeared from my cable provider’s On Demand rotation. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone else, just in case you’re like me and end up catching up on most tv shows after they’ve already aired–so don’t click on either of the following links if you don’t want to be spoiled. I’ll just put it this way, without giving too much away: I was really thrilled to see that the charity the winner picked for the money he/she won is working toward a cause that our Madame Secretary has been working to draw attention and awareness to.

Suddenly, this week, physics enthusiasts’ eyes turned to Tevatron, a much smaller and less powerful particle accelerator in Batavia, Illinois, that is scheduled to be shut down for good after September. And, depending on what happens with the budget crisis on Capitol Hill, it could be even sooner. At Tevatron, part of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), scientists said they may have found evidence of a particle never observed before.

  • Via Ron Cowen at Wired Science, Mysterious Cosmic Blast Keeps on Going. Cowen reports that “Astronomers have witnessed a cosmic explosion so strange they don’t even know what to call it.” Sounds like a metaphor for our times.

This Day in History (April 9th)

What’s on your blogging list this Saturday?

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

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One Response

  1. Congrats to Lady Lake!

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