Here’s What Will Happen

Look- this is a great idea:

President Obama, looking for ways to jump-start the sagging economy and create new jobs, called on Congress on Monday to approve a far-reaching plan to rebuild and modernize the nation’s transportation networks — roads, rail and airport runways — over the next six years.

With Democrats facing increasingly bleak re-election prospects, Mr. Obama used a Labor Day visit to a union festival here to lay out the plan, which the White House says could begin creating jobs as early as 2011 if Congress moves quickly. But prospects for a hasty passage seem unlikely, given that lawmakers have only a few weeks before they go home to campaign and Republicans have little interest in giving Democrats any pre-election legislative victories.

“Over the next six years,” Mr. Obama promised “we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads — that’s enough to circle the world six times; that’s a lot of road. We’re going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways — enough to stretch coast-to-coast. We’re going to restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next-generation air-traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American travelers — I think everybody can agree on that.”

As good of an idea as it is, the merits of the plan will never be discussed. Ever. That just isn’t how our media rolls- it’s right there in the second paragraph. All Republicans will have to do is dismiss this as an “election year stunt,” and the ground has already been readied by the Politico and elsewhere by calling the WH desperate, and our media will go into full-on horse-race mode. Mitch McConnell just needs to go on David Gregory, purse his lips delicately, dismiss it, and the debate will essentially be over. There will be no discussion of the benefits of the added rail miles. No discussion of the ease of air travel with these improvements. The idea will simply be dismissed, and Republicans will pay no price whatsoever for killing yet another jobs bill.

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228 replies
  1. 1
    Nick says:

    It’s already been spun as such…the nightly news tonight went as follows;

    “President Obama is offering new plans to spur the economy as his party faces defeat, lets look at those members of Congress who are most likely to lose in November because they took tough votes for a President who doesn’t know his place…”

    no cuts of Obama talking about the plan, no discussion about the plan, just more election year drama and dismissing of the plan as a political stunt by a desperate President.

  2. 2
    Mnemosyne says:

    Don’t forget the Professional Left, who will complain about how Obama didn’t force the bill down Congress’ throats the way Bush would have.

    Oh, and Congressional Democrats, who will run away from the bill as fast as their little legs will carry them as soon as Broder shakes his head and says it’s not “centrist” enough.

    ETA: To clarify, when I use “the Professional Left” here, I’m talking about the Village-approved Democrats who only show up to talk about how Obama has failed them today. James Carville would be the poster boy here — sure, he’s not on the actual left, but as far as the Village is concerned, he’s part of the Professional Left.

  3. 3
    kd bart says:

    The MSM has already determined the narrative for the fall. Nothing will shake them from it. They’re on cruise control.

  4. 4
    mai naem says:

    I know you are trying to discuss policy here but really, Mitch McConnell doesn’t purse his lips delicately. More like he blows his lips like a blowfish. The better description of McConnell though really is Chipmunk Cheeks.
    Ignore my juvenile discussion though and carry on with your adult policy discussion.

  5. 5

    Think Bully Pulpit dude. I have a feeling, and after Obama’s speech today, he will use it to full advantage, that lends itself during the home stretch of elections. It can, when used as a bludgeon, trump the Politico’s and Gregory’s of the world. However, as always, it will require dems to unite in and out of Washington to amplify the power of the BP, and to say things a presnit can’t. Of course, presidentin’ while black, Obama always starts at a disadvantage to using presidential power, so we shall see.

  6. 6
    Delia says:

    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

  7. 7
    Nick says:

    @General Stuck:

    Think Bully Pulpit dude. I have a feeling, and after Obama’s speech today, he will use it to full advantage, that lends itself during the home stretch of elections

    We’ve been over this, he doesn’t have a bully pulpit. Democrats don’t get one. The media will never allow this to pass…ever.

  8. 8
    Comrade Mary says:

    I turned on ABC News half an hour ago. Excerpt from speech; immediate criticism from Republicans (big type on screen); the reporter saying that the White House “admitted” that no jobs would be created before next year at the earliest; and a wrap-up that there was no quick fix or any good economic news possible before the election.

    The media covers horse races, not public policy. Feh.

  9. 9
    Lolis says:

    Yes, President Obama has accomplished a lot more than he should have been able to with our media. Remember when they were crowing about the Scott Brown victory and how it would kill health care? They just want to bring the president down. And yeah, it kills me to see liberals aid and abet that process.

  10. 10
    ow says:

    @Nick: Didn’t watch the TV news, but I think it’s interesting that they were so blatant about the pivot. That to me is a sign that they are concerned about this speech. The networks would have done better to use an innocuous bit to neutralize it. Now if the Dems can just find a way to exploit it.

  11. 11
    Zandar says:

    Doesn’t matter. The Democrats were swept out of power in 2008.

    The right will attack him for spending $1.

    The left will attack him for not spending $500 billion.

  12. 12
    Nick says:

    @Lolis:

    And yeah, it kills me to see liberals aid and abet that process.

    If and when they snap out of their fantasy world where the President can give a good speech and the media will fairly cover it, they’ll stop aiding the process.

    But as one of my old professors once said “When a liberal is forced to face reality, he tends to become a bitter old conservative’

  13. 13
    stuckinred says:

    @Zandar:

    Well, I don’t know why I came here tonight
    I got a feelin’ that something ain’t right
    I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair
    And I’m wonderin’ how I’ll get down those stairs
    Clowns to left of me, jokers to the right
    Here am I stuck in the middle with you

  14. 14
    salacious crumb says:

    if you folks have time you should really read this excellent article (it was linked by Ken Silverstein of Harpers)

    http://www.joebageant.com/joe/.....erica.html

  15. 15
    jwb says:

    @Nick: I didn’t watch the TV news, but I think it’s interesting that they were so blatant about the pivot. That to me is a sign that they are concerned about this speech. The networks would have done better to use an innocuous bit to neutralize it. Now if the Dems can just find a way to exploit it.

    ETA: And, yes, I know very well that the odds the Dems can find a way to do so are very low.

  16. 16

    Oh for fuck’s sake. On the one hand I’d like to groan “WHY oh why didn’t we get this plan two years ago?” and on the hand I’d like to day, “can we not try to be so fucking defeatist all the time?”

    Let’s try to think positively for once and when Obama does have a good idea for once maybe we can help make it happen for a change instead of letting the turtle-man hybrid who is still in the MINORITY PARTY and not very well respected in Kentucky for that matter have his way.

    Liberals make my head hurt sometime. Not as much as conservatives do but still.

  17. 17
    Ross Hershberger says:

    The media needs the simplest possible formulation for everything. “A wins. B loses.” Cut to commercial. That’s as complex as it’s allowed to get. We blame them but I honestly believe that a large segment of the population doesn’t have the attention span for ideas that take more than one bumper sticker to spell out. The media knows this, and in the interest of maximizing eyeball time they play to the lowest common denominator.
    That’s all I have to say. I have new pentodes to analyze down in the electron dungeon. At least they behave like the datasheet says they will.

  18. 18
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Have Jim Webb and Dianne Feinstein expressed their Concerns yet? Maybe Boxer can get Feinstein to act like a Democrat for a few weeks.

  19. 19
    Special Ed says:

    I don’t agree. This seems like a replay of “we are doomed and will never pass health care reform” from last summer. Have a little faith.

    The Republicans have peaked too soon in the polls and we will do better than what the media is saying. Also.

    Finally, the helicopters aren’t laughing.

    So there!

  20. 20
    Nick says:

    @jwb:

    That to me is a sign that they are concerned about this speech. The networks would have done better to use an innocuous bit to neutralize it. Now if the Dems can just find a way to exploit it.

    the media has always been very concerned that if Obama is successful, America will change into something they don’t recognize or can’t fuck a profit out of. If he succeeds, we cease to be a country of lemmings glued to the crawl under the anchor’s profile.

    Lucky for them, they are far more powerful that any politician. They could’ve brought down Bush if they wanted to, they just didn’t want to.

  21. 21

    @Nick: Yes, we have been over this before, and your across the board belief that the media is all powerful, is something I don’t buy. They are powerful, but not all powerful. The Sunday Morning shows will still have dems on them, and those dems must, as I said, do their part to amplify Obama’s presidential power to be heard when he wants. That won’t change, but as usual, I am skeptical other dems will do their part. But like the spectre of failure over passing HCR, sometimes when faced with majority existentialism, they manage to pull up their pants and stumble along till the job gets done.

    The fucking netroots are a lost cause however, imo. And dems can expect no or little help from them.

  22. 22
    Nick says:

    @Ross Hershberger:

    I honestly believe that a large segment of the population doesn’t have the attention span for ideas that take more than one bumper sticker to spell out.

    There is nothing the Democrats can do that would take a bumper sticker to explain, at least not when in power.

  23. 23
    Nick says:

    @General Stuck:

    The Sunday Morning shows will still have dems on them, and those dems must, as I said, do their part to amplify Obama’s presidential power to be heard when he wants.

    If they did, they wouldn’t be on Sunday Morning Shows.

  24. 24
    jwb says:

    @Southern Beale: I agree, but our defeatist friends will be here soon enough to tell us that clapping louder isn’t a winning election strategy.

  25. 25
    demo woman says:

    What news? Do we still have news in America?

  26. 26
    Mike G says:

    looking for ways to jump-start the sagging economy and create new jobs…plan to rebuild and modernize the nation’s transportation networks — roads, rail and airport runways…Democrats facing increasingly bleak re-election prospects

    Right, to the fucktard media it’s just a political gimmick, like school uniforms or Just Say No. It’s not like the country needs functioning roads and airports or anything.

    Until the next bridge collapse, when they can rush in and do maudlin stories about “miracle baby” survivors and Barbara Walters vaseline-on-the-camera-lens emotional interviews with the eyewitnesses. Fuck them sideways with a rusty chainsaw.

  27. 27
    Zipperupus says:

    Even if it does pass, a special CRUCIAL part of the legislation will be removed in compromise. Which means the passed bill will simply be no good, and in fact make things worse. And no matter what, it’s not enough. Obama should have asked for elentybillion for roads made of tungsten.

  28. 28
    Mnemosyne says:

    Hey, what a shock: Atrios is already complaining that it’s not enough.

    Note for those keeping track: he posted that only three hours after the original post about what a great idea it was.

  29. 29
    Nick says:

    Republicans have little interest in giving Democrats any pre-election legislative victories.

    and this is ok to the New York Times. They didn’t feel the need to call out Republicans here. This is just fine to them. This is all this is to them, a legislative victory, not a policy aimed at making the country better, it’s a game. All a fucking game.

    See what I mean.

  30. 30

    @Nick: Untrue. About the only Sunday Morn show I watch is Fox News Sunday, and Chris Wallace almost always has dems on in equal amounts to repubs, and recently, he has been quite tough on his fellow wingers. And the rest of the talking head rubes are more like rats that will follow the pied piper with the most mojo of the moment, and Obama has the ability to take the lead, as all presidents do. And if he gets help from his fellow dems and turns the worm some, the anchors will follow too, at least most of them. The Bully Pulpit was made for election stretch runs, because the media will cover it, regardless of what meme they themselves would like to push.

  31. 31
    Zipperupus says:

    Mnemosyne:

    He must have gotten his marching orders.

  32. 32
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    Hmm, where have I heard this before? The MSM has the narrative all laid out. This is how it will be. They dictate the message. Hmm, let me see, where was it? Oh, yeah, 2008, when Hillary would be crowned by the Dems and the Rethugs would continue their reign of terror. That’s where I heard it all before. Oh, yeah, and the healthcare debate – how many times did I read here that it was over, we’d lost? – or the MSM saying he’d spent all his political capital on a failed bill? And Scott Brown, that was Obama’s Katrina, wasn’t it?

  33. 33
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Mike G:

    Until the next bridge collapse, when they can rush in and do maudlin stories about “miracle baby” survivors and Barbara Walters vaseline-on-the-camera-lens emotional interviews with the eyewitnesses.

    And public prayer. There will be much praying when the next bridge collapses, much philosophizing about the mysterious ways of the lord

  34. 34
    Honus says:

    @Nick: Put another way, democrats would gain popularity by doing things that will help the country, and that’s just wrong. For some reason.

  35. 35
    Nick says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s never going to be enough to people who live in a dream

  36. 36
    Nick says:

    @General Stuck: Yeah, you never worked as a news producer at a major network.

    The media sets the narrative. If this move decisively in the Democrats’ direction, they have to try their best to stop it…Hench Jeremiah Wright and Sarah Palin “gamechanger,” McCain “winning” the debates and “Hey, the polls are tightening in Pennsylvania, REALLY! I SWEAR!”

  37. 37
    superdestroyer says:

    Lets look at the merits.

    1. The six year time frame means that it has nothing to do with the economy.

    2. Airports finance their own construction. Any airport that cannot fund its own expansion should not be expanding. Why have more airports like those in former Rep. Murtha’s district that were a total waste of money.

    3. The railroads should be funding their own expansion. If they are economic versus trucks, then investors should be flocking to them. But then again, maybe the investors realize that the government will never issue right-of-ways for new railroads and environmental lawyers will prevent any expansion.

    3. Building new highways if extremely hard. Look how Maryland took twenty years to start building the inner-county connection and that the road would have never been built if Ehrlich had not been the governor.

    4. Six year is incredibly optimistic. Look at current cost over runs and delay for things like the Denver international Air port, the big dig, the inner county connector.

    Also, it is hard to argue that new roads are needed when virtually all of the demand is created by the program of open borders and unlimited immigration. Maybe the government should do an environmental impact statement for the current policy of open borders and unlimited immigration.

  38. 38
    Nick says:

    @Honus:

    democrats would gain popularity by doing things that will help the country, and that’s just wrong. For some reason.

    The reason we work for corporations and billionaires who will no longer get tax cuts to buy yachts in St. Tropez if Democrats keep power past 2010.

  39. 39
    Anya says:

    @Southern Beale: This whole defeatist attitude becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Our messaging should be how can we push this idea instead of focusing on the horse-race crap.

    We all know what the republicans will say and how their criminal network will work and we know that the media will push their narrative. We also know that our firebaggers will say “it’s not enough,” but we should not focus on that, instead how to make it a reality.

  40. 40
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Zipperupus:

    And DeLong too! It’s a Liberal/Commie Conspiracy and they’re all in on it! Someone named Jane Hamsher is the great and powerful ringleader. Oh noez, the black helicopters, they’re coming!

  41. 41

    Well let’s push the idea then. Atrios is all about Supertrains. Let’s get the power of the blogosphere on board and get this thing done.

    Cripes.

    In other news, who (if anyone) is going to OneNation in October? I’m seriously considering it.

  42. 42
    JMG says:

    Let me get this straight. Traffic on 128 is crowded at rush hour because of all the illegal immigrants on the highway. Yeah, all those Lexuses (Lexii?) in the fast lane are being driven by illegal immigrant ophthalmologists from Vera Cruz. Better trolls, please.

  43. 43
    Napoleon says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Of course, it is not enough. He has been right almost 100% of the time,

  44. 44
    Nick says:

    @Napoleon:

    He has been right almost 100% of the time,

    Well here’s been wrong at least 50% of the time today, or is right when he contradicts himself.

  45. 45
    Napoleon says:

    @General Stuck:

    God you are a moron. They have fake Dems on. Memo to self, skip all future post of yours.

  46. 46

    @Nick:

    Yeah, you never worked as a news producer at a major network.

    Oh bullshit, the media sets the narrative, but these days they are ranked for approval by the public just above, scrotum scrubbers. So maybe you shouldn’t over rate where you work, I know I don’t your opinion on this particular topic.

  47. 47
    fourlegsgood says:

    Well. You’re cheery tonight. This is NOT the time for despair.

  48. 48
    KG says:

    Let’s be clear about one thing, the media (particularly the teevee folks) care about one thing: ratings. The newspapers care about clicks and copies sold. They will frame the issues in whatever manner best sells their product.

    Right now, they think the political drama of divided government will sell, so that is how they are framing things. It really has nothing to do with cowing to the right (as many on the left think they do) or cowing to the left (as many on the right think they do). It’s about viewers/readers, pure and simple.

    For what it’s worth, infrastructure spending seems like a really good idea. Framing it as a “jobs” issue or a “stimulus” issue seems stupid to me, if only because each side is framing it for their own perceived base.

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @superdestroyer:

    3. The railroads should be funding their own expansion. If they are economic versus trucks, then investors should be flocking to them. But then again, maybe the investors realize that the government will never issue right-of-ways for new railroads and environmental lawyers will prevent any expansion.

    Just to pick one little thing out of pile of misinformation, you do realize that the trucking industry is highly subsidized, right? The highways that they use were built by the government. Calculations of the cost of transporting things on trucks should include a portion of the cost of maintaining the highway system.

  50. 50
    Nick says:

    @General Stuck:

    these days they are ranked for approval by the public just above, scrotum scrubbers

    which of course is why Glenn Beck can get 100,000 people on the National Mall.

    You’re right, the media isn’t popular, except Fox…so they’re all going to emulate Fox, which helps their corporate owners anyway

  51. 51
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    You’re forever the optimist John. :)

    This is why I think the Repubs need to win this fall, we need some more pain before we can understand how crazy the right is. I expect things to go to shit soon and I would rather have the repubs at the helm when it does. As bad as Hoover was, FDR needed a predecessor like him to contrast his actions against. People got it straight and clear in their minds who brought on the pain and it gave FDR a bit of leverage in his actions.

    I think once things have gone totally to shit that the Democrats would be in a position to ‘put up or shut up’ and being left holding the bag would totally fuck the Repubs. As the minority, the Repubs can make hay while the ship sinks and blame the Democrats and Obama for the mess.

    People have short memories, they need a fresh dose of pain and the Repubs are just the ones to deliver it. They love pain.

  52. 52
    Napoleon says:

    @Nick:

    No he was not. Because of your poor reading comprehension and lack of intelligence or possibly dishonesty you are wrong.

  53. 53
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Larry Sabato was on All Things Considered today, saying that Repubs were likely to pick up 47 House seats and he wouldn’t be surprised to see them get 10 in the Senate. But even if they get just 8 or 9, that will make Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson super-influential. If I hadn’t been driving a rental car, I might have done some damage to self and vehicle.

  54. 54
    jwb says:

    @Bob Loblaw: I doubt anyone thinks there is a conspiracy, but you can wonder whether they are being politically smart in using their time and energy to attack Obama’s proposal right now rather than Republicans.

  55. 55

    @Napoleon: LOL, fine by me, now it’s mutual. You fucking defeatist so called supporters are what’s wrong as much as anything. And I didn’t say I thought they would do their part, only that they would have to change the narrative.

  56. 56
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Mnemosyne: Atrios lives in a state where a retired and very moderate Vice Admiral is (stipulating that November is a long way away, etc) losing a Senate race, by a considerable margin, to a crank ideologue who wants to eliminate social security, the capital gains tax, and if he had his way I imagine would like to eliminate the social safety net altogether. He should look out his window if he wants an idea of why spending programs might be a little difficult.

    I saw there was some discussion, in an earlier thread, of the role of social issues in this election. In Colorado, they’re hardly getting any play at all, not even guns. It’s all GOVERNMENT SPENDING WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! Any reports from PA, or other states? I’m curious.

  57. 57
    Seebach says:

    This is why I think the Repubs need to win this fall, we need some more pain before we can understand how crazy the right is. I expect things to go to shit soon and I would rather have the repubs at the helm when it does. As bad as Hoover was, FDR needed a predecessor like him to contrast his actions against. People got it straight and clear in their minds who brought on the pain and it gave FDR a bit of leverage in his actions.

    Wasn’t this what Bush was? Didn’t work very well, apparently.

  58. 58
    Nick says:

    @Napoleon:

    No he was not.

    No, saying “this is more like it” then criticizing what he praised a few posts later is only considered contradictory in a sane world, which we’ve along established you live far from.

  59. 59
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Napoleon:

    Of course, it is not enough. He has been right almost 100% of the time,

    Since he contradicted himself in the course of about three hours by first saying it was a great idea and then saying it was a bad idea because it doesn’t go far enough, I think the best you can say is that he’s been right 50% of the time.

  60. 60
    Nick says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    He should look out his window if he wants an idea of why spending programs might be a little difficult.

    Unless he lives in Philadelphia, then, like many liberals, he might think the feeling of the country is what he sees on a two block stretch of Broad Street.

  61. 61
    Der BlindSchtiller says:

    Given that we haven’t invested anything in infrastructure for more than 50 years, Obama’s proposal is a drop in the bucket at best.

    I am so sorry I volunteered for this douche…

  62. 62
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    Oh noez, the black helicopters, they’re coming!

    The worst thing is, the helicopters aren’t laughing.

  63. 63
    Zipperupus says:

    Bob Loblaw:

    You don’t know what I’m talking about. If you actually took a little bit of time and looked into advertising and aggregation, you would realize that I’m not talking about Sweet Jane.

  64. 64

    I just got through with emailing all 14 outgoing Senators, asking them to support some sort of fix-the-infrastructure bill. Half of those are Republicans, but they are not up for re-election so what the heck.

    This is what I said:
    – – – – – – –
    Long-term unemployment:

    We have millions of people who have been out of work for a long time and they must be getting desperate by now.

    It is not in our best interest to have millions of desperate people roaming about. Some are likely to harm themselves, some are likely to harm others, and some are likely to foment unrest and instigate confrontations.

    We would all be better off if we could employ these long-time-out-of-work people in such projects as infrastructure repair and perhaps other more service-oriented jobs.

    Yes, this probably would amount to public works and it probably would have a faint air of socialism about it, but I think we would all benefit from it. We could enjoy improved infrastructure, maybe some improved services, decreased burden on charity health delivery services, decreased demand for local law enforcement resources, and generally a more peaceful existence.

    Please consider supporting some legislation that would address the need for work for the long-time-out-of-work people as well as our need for improved infrastructure. You might be doing all of us a world of good.

    Thank you.

  65. 65

    @Nick: Fox is by and large a swamp of true believing mouth breathers and anything they do, is but preaching to the wingnut choir. You are describing exactly what I was talking about, a media that is becoming a parody of foolishness, and subject to a message with some substance. I did not say dems or Obama would take advantage of this situation, only that it is possible.

  66. 66
  67. 67
    jwb says:

    @KG: I actually don’t think this is true any more. What the TV and newspapers care about is revenue, unless you are Fox, in which case you care about whatever Murdoch cares about. Nick was pointing out the other night that his paper would be able to charge more for an ad if they spun an article in a particular way. I have to wonder how pervasive that is, and whether it affects all levels of the media.

  68. 68
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Der BlindSchtiller:

    Given that we haven’t invested anything in infrastructure for more than 50 years, Obama’s proposal is a drop in the bucket at best.
    __
    I am so sorry I volunteered for this douche…

    Yes, we would have been so much better off with President McCain. He totally would have rebuilt our infrastructure!

  69. 69
    jwb says:

    @Nick: As you well know Nick, even Fox isn’t popular by historical standards of ratings.

  70. 70
    JamesC says:

    @superdestroyer:

    1. Six year time frame of completion necessitates six years of continual employment of American citizens that would otherwise be out of work.

    2-4 (you wrote 3 twice). Since when has public transport infrastructure ever self-financed their own expansion? Besides, the hard math of profitability makes it nearly identical with the reason why AT&T has been so damn reluctant to invest in telecom infrastructure improvements – it’s cheaper, on a year by year basis, to just patch the problems as they come up, even as they become more frequent. A large-scale repair and overhaul operation is one of the many reasons why we have a government in the first place – just because it’s necessary doesn’t mean it’s fiscally sensible to individual investors.

    5. A non-unique argument. Cost overruns exist even for privately operated projects. Furthermore, it doesn’t detract from the merits of national-scaled infrastructural improvements either. Also note that no, not all of the demands are caused by open borders and unlimited immigration – more fundamental would be the simple fact that our infrastructure is woefully out of date, and has been for long enough for it to be an impending crisis. The article linked specifically addresses the 149,647 bridges across the nation needed for repairs – but the overall problem with US transportation infrastructure and investment existed long before the 2008 recession.

    As a nation, we need this. Here’s hoping that, as a nation, we’re not so collectively dimwitted as to not realize the urgency.

  71. 71
    Frank says:

    As good of an idea as it is, the merits of the plan will never be discussed. Ever. That just isn’t how our media rolls- it’s right there in the second paragraph. All Republicans will have to do is dismiss this as an “election year stunt,” and the ground has already been readied by the Politico and elsewhere by calling the WH desperate, and our media will go into full-on horse-race mode.

    But if this had been a Republican President, FoxNews would talk about it 24/7 and the rest of the media would feel forced to pick up the story. I hope the big guys in the Democratic party understand that nothing will change until they get serious about media coverage, ie getting their own TV network, etc etc.

  72. 72
    demo woman says:

    @JMG: They must be paying the illegals more these days to mow their lawns. How else to explain it.

  73. 73
    Der BlindSchtiller says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Never said that. Just wish our leadership actually lead…

  74. 74
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Der BlindSchtiller: As I understand it, the $ 50 billion is fully paid for by specific cuts and savings from within the budget. In addition, it is not a scary number like $1 trillion. Finally, by proposing incremental segments, he makes it easier to find a 60th vote for each bit.

  75. 75
    Keith G says:

    @fourlegsgood: Yeah.

    Well. You’re cheery tonight. This is NOT the time for despair.

    I stopped by to bask in the fellowship of my fellow laborers, but I am confronted by progressives grasping each others’ throats.

    Drinks on me. I’ll go find my wallet.

  76. 76

    @KG: Thank you, and puts the bullshit logo on the meme that the entire media is in some kind of ideological conspiracy to screw democrats. They are far too stupid for such an adventure, to begin with, and their corporate masters most all belong to the Green Party, the one Ben Franklin currently is a member of.

  77. 77
    Anton Sirius says:

    This looks a lot like a Tea Party tar baby to me. This isn’t a plan to get shoved through Congress quickly, it’s one designed to sit there for a while so that true believer GOP candidates can go on the stump and explain how bad it would for their district to get new jobs and infrastructure.

    What the national media has to say about it is beside the point.

  78. 78
    ChrisNYC says:

    I don’t think this is as cut and dried as John is thinking.

    What Obama proposed is that this program be part of a reauthorization of federal aid to states and localities for surface transportation. I’ve just read up on it a bit and what I understand is that the last multi-year bill expired in October 2009 and we’ve been going on extensions to that bill until a new multi-year bill can be passed. The current extension will expire in December 2010. There’s a lot of complaining from all sides — business, unions, states — that a new multi-year bill is needed pronto because all the uncertainty about the fate of big projects is killing people. Business is in favor of a new bill (though most of the predictions of getting one passed before the midterms are bleak). Here’s the US Chamber of Commerce pushing for it — http://www.uschamber.com/lra/u.....horization. I’m not so sure that this is something the GOP can brush aside so easily.

    PS — The Times story notes that these bills usually get bipartisan support.

  79. 79
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Der BlindSchtiller:

    Never said that. Just wish our leadership actually lead…

    Like by announcing major jobs programs right before an election?

    ETA: The food here is terrible, and they serve such small portions!

  80. 80
    Nick says:

    @Der BlindSchtiller:

    Just wish our leadership actually lead…

    lead- v- the art of doing whatever specific thing some anonymous douche on a blog wants you to do at a specific moment in time.

  81. 81
    Der BlindSchtiller says:

    @Mnemosyne

    Yeah, a program too small to make an actual difference!!!!!

  82. 82
    Nick says:

    @ChrisNYC:

    The Times story notes that these bills usually get bipartisan support

    All successful bills usually get bipartisan support. The 111th Congress has been an anomaly in American history.

  83. 83
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Mnemosyne: or putting together health insurance reform bill that could pass Congress as a good first step in a long process, instead of taking the whole idea down for a generation in flaming ball of futile ideological purity?

  84. 84
    Der BlindSchtiller says:

    @Nick

    Huh?

  85. 85
    Napoleon says:

    @General Stuck:

    Wow, you piece of shit, have you read anything I have written here. I am not one. But you are still a complete asshole and moron.

  86. 86
    aimai says:

    Why does every discussion of Democratic Administration initiatives devolve into accusations of bad faith on the part of unimportant, named and unnamed liberal/left commenters such as Atrios? I don’t see the relevance. If Obama and (some) Dems want to get a serious jobs and infrastructure bill through this *or any other* congress well let them get the fucking lead out and do it. Whether Atrios or anyone else thinks its big enough doesn’t affect their strategy since whether Atrios or anyone else thinks they should already have done this, or done it bigger, or done it with more fanfare clearly already did not affect their strategy.

    Look, I’m thrilled that Obama has come out swinging on Labor Day. We all needed this going into the midterms. And of course, as Nick and as John Cole never cease to point out, the press and the corporations and the Republican party will be lockstep against it *especially* if it has a chance of being good for the country, or good for the Dems. So what? Twas ever, ever, thus. Atrios’s complaint, like mine or anyone else’s, is simply that the dems can propose whatever they want but they need to have a better message machine in place to sell the program to the voters. If they have to go around the filter then they have to go around the filter. 50 billion is a start. 20 billion would be good enough to turn the mid terms around if it were sold vigorously to the voters. The question, the eternal question, is whether the Dems will have a concerted plain for reaching out on the basis of this promised money. People who are out of work won’t cheer up immiediatly without a new job. But even people who are out of work will cheer up and vote Democratic if they think that by doing so they are creating a situation in which something good may happen, and preventing something bad from happening.

    This is obvious: the Dems need to promise concrete benefits in each and every state for the voters–but only if the Republicans are kept out of power. If they combine this 50 billion with specific attacks on specific infrastructural problems in specific states and districts they will do well on it even if it doesn’t kick in until too late for the midterms. But we won’t know until tomorrow, and next week, whether the Dems are going to fight to market this idea or whether they are going to lose the battle of propaganda like they more or less lost it over health care.

    This has nothing to do with Atrios. He doesn’t carry water for the Dems and what he thinks reflects their failures to market their ideas rather than his failure to get what they are trying to do.

    aimai

  87. 87
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ChrisNYC:

    Here’s the US Chamber of Commerce pushing for it—http://www.uschamber.com/lra/update-safetea-lu-reauthorization. I’m not so sure that this is something the GOP can brush aside so easily.

    I would agree with you if Republicans hadn’t spent the last year railing about the wastefulness of the stimulus bill as they attend opening ceremonies for the various projects that the stimulus bill funded in their districts.

    The GOP has absolutely no problem taking both sides simultaneously and claiming them for their own (“I opposed the stimulus and I brought new jobs to your community using stimulus money!”), and the media never, ever calls them on it.

  88. 88
    Nick says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    instead of taking the whole idea down for a generation in flaming ball of futile ideological purity?

    But don’t you understand? Leadership is taking a whole idea down for a generation in a flaming ball of futile ideological purity. That’s why liberals loved Clinton when he killed HCR in 1994.

    …oh wait.

  89. 89
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Der BlindSchtiller:

    Yeah, a program too small to make an actual difference!!

    If it’s the potholes in your street being filled or the bridge you drive on every day being repaired, is that still too small to make an actual difference?

  90. 90
    Moses2317 says:

    Yes, this is unfortunately how the media will seek to discount President Obama’s good idea. That is why it is up to us, as progressives, to spread the message that we support the Democrats’ efforts to get our economy back on track. Join me in helping to do so at Winning Progressive.

  91. 91
    Bill Arnold says:

    Mitch McConnell just needs to go on David Gregory, purse his lips delicately, dismiss it, and the debate will essentially be over.

    MM can try. Infrastructure spending is a no-brainer though.
    The argument is
    (1) We need new/better infrastructure. The U.S. is falling behind in many important ways.
    (2) The world is begging to lend us money at 2.6% (10 year, 3.8% 30 year), unsecured.
    (3) Lots of jobs.

    There are plenty of proposals for infrastructure projects. A reasonable fraction would survive the political culling.
    (A recent thread at Barry Ritholt’s blog The Big Picture was interesting).

  92. 92
    JamesC says:

    To echo prior sentiments, I’m not sure if the bill’s as doomed as Cole believes it to be. I suspect greed will be a major motivator towards possible Republican votes in favor – it is, after all, a direct money pump right into their constituents’ pockets. And their’s, by extension.

    While it would be galling to Republican leadership for this to pass, what of the incumbents currently fighting a battle with their crazier Tea Party cousins? “I brought XXXXX jobs to your neighborhood! What has Joe Tea Party ever done for you?” is a crucial weapon in the current environment.

  93. 93
    The Sheriff's A Ni- says:

    @Nick: And how many of those 100,000 weren’t on Social Security and/or Medicaid? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just Beck, Trig Palin, and Albert Pujols.

    Everything I needed to know came a few weeks back when the average age of a Fox News viewer was discovered to be 63. Hell, hip and trendy MSNBC was averaging, what, 59? Tie that in with the voter age gap between Obama and McCain and there’s everything you need to know. The media is beholden to its ratings, and if all you’re pulling in are stay-at-home retirees that are scared of Those People spending all their rightfully entitled money, then guess what narratives are gonna get pushed?

    Forget the media. The media wanted Hillary and McCain and the kids said ‘fuck that’. The kids are alright, and they’re still voting.

  94. 94

    @Napoleon:

    have you read anything I have written here. I am not one

    Not since obama become president and you swallowed your brain for Obama fail, And “I am not one” what? an idiot?

    Now run along firebagger troll.

  95. 95

    Ahhhh, General.

    It is such an inspiration to watch you win friends and influence people.

    My hero! :-)

  96. 96
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    Atrios’s complaint, like mine or anyone else’s, is simply that the dems can propose whatever they want but they need to have a better message machine in place to sell the program to the voters.

    Actually, that wasn’t Atrios’ complaint. His complaint, via Brad DeLong, is that the bill is too small and won’t actually accomplish anything. Which is the kind of complaint that drives me FUCKING NUTS since apparently we’re not allowed to try to do anything at all unless it costs $2 trillion from the outset.

  97. 97
    Der BlindSchtiller says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Given that this country is a complete and total shitbox infrastructure-wise, yup, yup and yup.

    I just got back from a year-and-a-half in China. When a country with an average per capita income of $6000/year (adjusted for PPP) is kicking our ass, I’d say we have a serious problem.

  98. 98
    mr. whipple says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m shocked!

  99. 99
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    A musical interlude. Second try. FYWP

  100. 100
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Der BlindSchtiller: Huh. How does the Chinese government deal with the filibuster and a media biased against ‘big government’? That information could be truly helpful and pertinent to this discussion of Obama’s failure to lead.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Bill Arnold:

    The argument is
    (1) We need new/better infrastructure. The U.S. is falling behind in many important ways.
    (2) The world is begging to lend us money at 2.6% (10 year, 3.8% 30 year), unsecured.
    (3) Lots of jobs.

    The counterarguments will be:
    (1) America is the greatest country in the world! Why do you hate America?!
    (2) The deficit will kill us all!
    (3) Jobs for Those People, not Real Americans. If you know what I mean.

    We do desperately need infrastructure spending because our roads and bridges are literally crumbling underneath our feet, but in a political climate where public school teachers and firefighters are special interests demanding a government bailout, it’s going to be a tough sell.

  102. 102

    @aimai: I agree with you in principle that Obama and dems can bypass the filter with sustained and concentrated effort, but as far as the left goes and their incessant negativity about everything, everyone in the blogosphere and out is subject to challenge, as we are all individually a small part of the big play of democracy, and that play plays itself out in a gazillion instances of assertion and reproach. A loud noise we call democracy. No one here gets out alive. Except Tunch of course.

  103. 103

    @Linda Featheringill: Must be the surplus of charm I am burdened with.:)

  104. 104
    NR says:

    @Mnemosyne: There is a strong argument to be made that inadequate half-measures are in fact worse than doing nothing at all, because when the half-measures inevitably fail to fix the economy, the Republicans will just say “See, government spending doesn’t work!”, making future fixes much more difficult to implement.

    This is exactly what happened with the stimulus. Obama went with a stimulus that was too small and too heavily skewed towards tax cuts, and now the narrative isn’t that we didn’t do enough, it’s that the entire policy was a failure.

    The right thing to do here would be to propose a program big enough to actually help fix the economy. If the Republicans want to filibuster it, attack them for hurting the economy. Except now, those attacks will be much more difficult to make because the narrative has set in that government spending doesn’t help the economy. Thanks to the inadequate half-measures from last year.

    It’s a vicious cycle, and the Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves for it.

  105. 105
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Der BlindSchtiller:

    So therefore the answer is to do absolutely nothing until we can sink eleventy-trillion dollars into infrastructure all at once.

    Gotcha.

    Oh, and given that China still has schools collapsing during earthquakes, I don’t know that I would really hold them up as exemplars of good infrastructure.

  106. 106
    Kiril says:

    @Mnemosyne: It’s not really a contradiction if you’ve been reading Atrios. First he has a post that is an excerpt from an article detailing Obama’s proposal and his only comment is the title “Hey That’s More Like It.” In other words, good for Obama for actually proposing a jobs bill, which Atrios has been advocating since forever.
    But of course, the proposal is still too small to make a significant dent in unemployment. This is pretty uncontroversial among non-Republican economics bloggers, who thought the original stimulus needed to be at least $400 billion larger to offset the loss in demand (which was originally projected to result in 8 percent unemployment, not the 9.7 percent we actually have).
    It’s not a complicated or contradictory message to say he thinks Obama is moving in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough. I expect we will see something along the same lines from Krugman and DeLong.

  107. 107
    ChrisNYC says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yeah, I see. The thing is, though, this bill (the reauth, generally), from the looks of it has some powerful forces behind it. That makes it harder, it seems to me, to just howl about “tax and spend” because after the Teabag rally, the GOPers have to go back to their offices and hear it from people with real money, like the Chamber and its allies, that we need a real multi-year trans bill. But, ok, you convinced me. It’s a failure already and I will send congrats to Speaker Boehner. :)

  108. 108
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Mnemosyne,I’ve always loved your comments elsewhere, especially at Pandagon, but somehow here you mostly spend your time attacking other bloggers for insufficient loyalty to Obama. I just don’t get that. I don’t see that its necessary and I don’t see that its helpful. If you enjoy it, that’s reason enough, I suppose, to keep doing it. But as for me, as I head into a fall of being asked to go out and fight for various dems, fundraise for dems, etc.. I find it annoying.

    I support Obama, and I support the Dems, but I still have opinions about the efficacy of their programs and the selling of their programs to the voters. Atrios does too. Brad does too. So what? Aren’t we permitted to have different opinions on things? From various perspectives the 50 billion is great–we desperately need to do something about our crumbling infrastructure, we desperately need (as a party) to have something positive to run on at the midterms, and the country desperately needs to be put back to work. That’s three different ways of looking at the 50 billion. If you are an economist, or economist curious, it is probably too small to really accomplish the first and third thing. If you are a voter, or a political activist (I am) Its great if it only accomplishes the second. “Its a start” isn’t really a sufficient answer to the problem of the second issue. Its ok for the first and not really OK for the third.

    I just don’t see what the point is of bitching that Atrios doesn’t love the 50 billion from all perspectives. I don’t either. I like it that Obama is fighting very publicly for the midterms and for the party and for liberalism and for infrastructure and jobs. I’ll like it better if I see the rest of the relevant Dems fighting with him–because that tells me that when I go door to door trying to explain what the Dems are doing I won’t have to do all the heavy lifting or argue against the voter’s scepticism when I explain what Democratic initiatives would look like when there has been no public attempt to forward them.

    aimai

  109. 109
    mr. whipple says:

    @General Stuck:

    I agree with you in principle that Obama and dems can bypass the filter with sustained and concentrated effort,

    There has been more positive coverage of the stim and the jobs and projects created in my pro-corporate, conservative local paper than there has been in the entire LW blogosphere.

    The LW blogosphere, when they have talked about it, has focused mainly on whining that their pet project didn’t get enuf, or that their dream pony didn’t have enough sparkles.

  110. 110
    ChrisNYC says:

    @Nick: Yeah, yeah. The only point was — and I suppose I didn’t make this clear — is that these Reauths, particularly, get wide bipartisan support because there’s lots of juice behind them. But, whatever. All I wanted to impart is that this proposal by O arises not as a freestanding stim bill but within a larger context that is maybe not so prone to be controlled by Joe Scarborough.

  111. 111
    jwb says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: Have you read histories of the 1930s? FDR had a left almost as hostile to him as ours is to Obama.

  112. 112
    Der BlindSchtiller says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist

    It’s called leading. FDR inherited a country steeped in “Government can do nothing” philosophy (see Calvin Coolidge/Herbet Hoover) and Obama is running with it.

    Republicans are fucking insane (don’t take me for one of them), but Democrats appear completely and totally retarded.

  113. 113
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @NR:

    The right thing to do here would be to propose a program big enough to actually help fix the economy. If the Republicans want to filibuster it, attack them for hurting the economy

    and if a good dozen non-Republicans (Nelson, Nelson, Lincoln, Pryor, McCaskill, Bayh, Conrad, Baucus, Webb, Warner, Lieberman, Feinstein–maybe Specter or Manchin, depending on whether you’re talking about the stimulus that was or the one some would like to be; how heavily do you want to count on Johnson and Tester?) join in opposing that bill, whom then do we attack?

  114. 114
    ChrisNYC says:

    One more point — I know I’m totally naive but what big legislation has Obama proposed (and in such a flashy way!) and failed to get passed? I think the answer is none but I’m just aware of the real biggies. Hard to believe that Mr. Measured is proposing something that is DOA. But I know — the GOP always wins! :)

  115. 115
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    The more I think about the more I see the “tea party tar baby” idea as a real possibility. If it gets through; great, it’s a start. If not, the Democrats should be on record as supporting jobs, Mom, and apple pie while the Republicans will be on record as being against.

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NR:

    There is a strong argument to be made that inadequate half-measures are in fact worse than doing nothing at all, because when the half-measures inevitably fail to fix the economy, the Republicans will just say “See, government spending doesn’t work!”, making future fixes much more difficult to implement.

    You can make the argument that half-measures are worse politically because it gives your political opponents a talking point, but I still haven’t seen any arguments by a reputable economist that the stimulus hurt the economy rather than helping it. There is a difference between politics and real life that unfortunately the media refuses to acknowledge, and the stimulus did help preserve or create jobs for millions of people who otherwise would have joined the ranks of the unemployed. It’s only in the political world where it was a total failure for not solving the entire economic crisis in a single step.

    This is exactly what happened with the stimulus. Obama went with a stimulus that was too small and too heavily skewed towards tax cuts, and now the narrative isn’t that we didn’t do enough, it’s that the entire policy was a failure.

    The funny thing is, that’s the narrative coming from both the right and the left. That whole thing where people complain about commentators on the left adopting right-wing frames? That’s one of the ones we’re complaining about, because the media stops listening as soon as they hear “stimulus was a failure” and doesn’t bother to report the second half of the sentence where someone like Krugman tries to explain it failed because it was too small. They just report that Democrats and Republicans agree that the stimulus was a failure and people hear, “Even the liberal Paul Krugman agrees that Obama is a failure.”

    I know it’s boring and repetitive to constantly hear about how the media is screwing us all over and eventually you just want to blame the Democrats for constantly getting drowned out, but sometimes the truth is boring and repetitive.

  117. 117

    @aimai: See, this is the thing aimai. Of course you all can have your opinions, but like everyone else, you can get no special protection from having those opinions challenged and disagreed with. You assert non existent powers to those who disagree with you as somehow being oppressive in nature. Everyone is responsible for their own self esteem and not letting others trample on it. That is what a fighting dem should look like imo. Not on the defense always, and complaining about others doing unfair stuff to them. This blog has a population that tends to defend the dem president against criticism when we think it is unwarranted, but nobody gets banned and anyone can say what they want. It is to my knowledge the only blog on the internet that is open and that is what we call Obot. The entire netroots just about, is not like that. As far as I know.

  118. 118
    Corner Stone says:

    @aimai:

    So what? Aren’t we permitted to have different opinions on things?

    No.

  119. 119
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Kiril:

    It’s not a complicated or contradictory message to say he thinks Obama is moving in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough. I expect we will see something along the same lines from Krugman and DeLong.

    It’s not complicated or contradictory until it gets into the national media. Then it becomes, “Liberals agree that Obama is a failure!”

    We’re two (2) months away from a midterm election where it looks quite likely that we’re going to lose control of both houses of Congress to the Republicans. I think right about now is a good time to bite our tongues and show some unity rather than talk about letting the Republicans take over because that’ll show those stupid voters.

    (Not that you said that, but it’s already shown up more than once in this thread alone.)

  120. 120
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    ..@Jim, Foolish Literalist: I should say, I’m not at all averse to going after Blue Dogs, especially the ones who are noisily stupid deficit peacocks like Bayh and Lincoln or just plain morons like McCaskill and Nelson, I’m just saying this fight is a lot more complicated than “Make Them Filibuster!”–which is also a strategy I support, but it’s no cure-all

  121. 121
    Corner Stone says:

    @NR:

    There is a strong argument to be made that inadequate half-measures are in fact worse than doing nothing at all

    It is similar to what has come out recently regarding how the pressure is off the Fed to do any further stimulus.
    “Today’s better-than-forecast U.S. payrolls report reduces pressure on Federal Reserve policymakers to add monetary stimulus when they meet this month without forestalling the need to act later, economists said.”
    Payrolls report eases pressure on policymakers to add stimulus.
    But somehow I don’t think the payrolls report is really going to help too many people.
    But the pressure’s off, so that’s good.

  122. 122
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Corner Stone: No one can stop people from having opinions. No one can stop people from expressing those opinions if they chose to do so. At the same time, having and expressing an opinion does not somehow give people the right to not have that opinion be criticized or questioned.

  123. 123
    NR says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    You can make the argument that half-measures are worse politically because it gives your political opponents a talking point,

    The politics and the economics are inexorably intertwined. Case in point: The inadequacy of the first stimulus is what has made a second stimulus impossible. Hence, our stalling economy.

    If Obama had gone for a bigger, more effective stimulus last year, one of two things would have happened. Either it would have passed, in which case the economy would be in much better shape right now, or the Republicans would have filibustered it, in which case the economy would be worse, but the Democrats would be able to point to that filibuster as the clear reason why. This would allow the Democrats to pass policies that would substantially improve the economy – if not now, then after a victory in the November elections.

    As things stand now, the narrative is about how the Democrats’ policies have failed, and they are facing Armageddon in November. And it’s their own fault.

  124. 124
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: that is not how Sarah Palin and Dr Laura explained the First Amendment to me. I think we should have some kind of department of law to address these issues.

  125. 125
    JamesC says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Ehh… except for the thing where the Democrats’ve had the opportunity to spin this message before, via HCR, FinReg, Stim and other bills, and utterly flubbed the layup.

    Is it possible to have an entire party of political butterfingers? Apparently! It’s easy to argue that it’s entirely the media’s fault… and for the most part, that’s more true than false. But the fact that the Administration’s apparently got an allergy to the idea of wining and dining the media establishment doesn’t help matters much either.

    The national news establishment is, after all, immensely lazy this era – sensationalist headliners are easier than investigative reporting, and rake in more advertisers. But that in itself is an opportunity – if they insist on rehashing press releases, make sure yours are faster and pithier than the Republicans’, and that you have more talking heads on the news channels than they do…

  126. 126
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    I support Obama, and I support the Dems, but I still have opinions about the efficacy of their programs and the selling of their programs to the voters. Atrios does too. Brad does too. So what? Aren’t we permitted to have different opinions on things?

    I’m not running around saying you should be banned or that no one should read your blog. But I do disagree with you — strongly — and I’m not going to pretend otherwise so we can all just get along.

    Part of the problem is that I’m talking about strategy, and (I think) you’re talking about policy. Is proposing $50 billion in infrastructure spending the very best policy in the best of all possible worlds? Or is it being offered up as an electoral strategy to try and defeat the Republicans in an election year?

    It is an unfortunate fact that we all tend to mix policy and strategy together even though the best policy is not necessarily the best strategy, and vice versa. Sometimes you do have to do the right thing policy-wise (cf Johnson and civil rights) and be damned to strategy. I don’t see this as one of those moments, but you’re welcome to try and convince me.

    Despite my comments on this thread, I do think that this has the potential to be a great strategy for us to use against the Republicans in November, but if we spend all of our time picking it apart as a policy, that weakens its effectiveness as a strategy. It’s too small to fix everything in our infrastructure that needs to be fixed, but it’s just small enough that the Republicans (and Blue Dogs) look petty if they oppose it. That’s what makes it strategy, not policy.

  127. 127

    Apparently being sad and angry and defeatist is intoxicating and a lot of people love to engage in that sort of thing, but why don’t you whiners go to

    http://www.winningprogressive.org

    and try to be supportive of people who are trying to make a difference. Better yet, contribute something [intellectual property, not money].

    And then go back to being sad and angry and defeatist.

  128. 128
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: Actually, the media is not acting like what concerns them most is ratings. If that was the case, you’d have a lot more of them looking for demographic niches. What the media are looking for is the audience that advertisers want. Evidently advertisers want viewers of conservative news programming. Or corporate ad departments have their marching orders to support conservative news programming regardless of ratings. Take your pick.

  129. 129
    Corner Stone says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I agree.
    But that does not seem to be the dominant narrative here recently. IMO.

  130. 130
    jwb says:

    @Anton Sirius: That would also explain why it is rather small, which is the part that had not really made much sense to me. If it is a tar baby designed to attract and expose irrational opposition, on the other hand, it needs to be small enough that people scratch their heads over the fuss.

  131. 131
    J says:

    @Kiril: Thanks for saying this (Aimai too). After reading some of the comments on this thread, I went to Atrios’ site expecting to find him heaping abuse on Obama’s proposal. Instead I find him citing a post by Brad DeLong called ‘Obama bunts’ and saying he wishes Obama would go long. Since when does failing to say that a proposal is the best thing since sliced bread, manna from heaven and such that it could not conceivably be improved upon count as being against it? Presumably if it’s all that’s on offer, Atrios supports it–that’s what we disappointed liberal types do after all–while wishing that more were on offer. It’s important not to see everything through the prism of personalities or teams, as though the question were always: ‘is this pro-Obama or anti-Obama?’. One might, after all, have a view about where the country should be going, the policies we ought to be pursuing, the principles we ought to honor, from the perspective of which some of what Obama and the Democrats do will be good, some bad, some alright so far as it goes though disappointing.

  132. 132
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NR:

    Either it would have passed, in which case the economy would be in much better shape right now, or the Republicans would have filibustered it, in which case the economy would be worse, but the Democrats would be able to point to that filibuster as the clear reason why.

    I’m afraid I don’t share your optimism — if the stimulus had failed, right now the story would be “Unemployment is at 20 percent and it’s all the Democrats’ fault!” As we’ve seen over and over this year, voters don’t understand what the filibuster has to do with anything. All they know is that the Democrats have the majority and they’re not getting anything passed. Complaining about how we have a majority but it’s not a real majority because the Republicans won’t let us vote on anything due to Senate rules just sounds like whining.

    I think that, inadequate as it was, the stimulus was good policy at the time. Something had to be done, and the Democrats managed to force it through Congress. Unfortunately, it now hurts us as far as strategy goes, because it simultaneously strengthened the Republicans and demoralized the Democrats, but no stimulus at all would have been much, much worse. A really big stimulus that was able to pass the Senate would have been good policy and good strategy, but that’s why the Republicans and Blue Dogs worked so hard to prevent it.

  133. 133
    SlyFox says:

    @Der BlindSchtiller:

    I have a simple phrase that may get me in trouble, but here goes

    FUCK YOU!!!!!!

  134. 134
    jwb says:

    @Mnemosyne: Not to mention which pounding on the Dem administration two months before an election isn’t politically helpful. Those who believe it should be more can go ahead, make that argument and run with it, but go from there to bashing on the goopers rather than stopping to punch Obama first.

  135. 135
    Suffern ACE says:

    It would really be cool if the economists would also suggest the $2T in stimulus projects that they would undertake rather than just noting that the multiplier doesn’t work out to more than a marginal movement in unemployment. I know, we’ve fallen behind in infrastructure, but I don’t know if we are going to get to that magic number with transportation alone. So if we are short, where can we spend?

  136. 136
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @Seebach:

    Bush was a good start but obviously not enough to convince Americans that the Repubs are out to give everything to the rich.

    We need to let them give the rest away to their buddies, maybe even toss in another war or two, then people might get a clue.

    But then again, maybe not.

  137. 137
    jwb says:

    @NR: That was last year and this is this year. I can agree with you that the stimulus should have been better and that it was poorly conceived both practically and politically. But that doesn’t change the fact that whacking on this proposal now is not productive for success in the November election. There will be plenty of time for coulda, woulda, shouldas after the election, but two months out all those on our side with any sort of media influence ought to be competing to see who can land best blows on Republicans.

  138. 138
    Corner Stone says:

    @J:

    Since when does failing to say that a proposal is the best thing since sliced bread, manna from heaven and such that it could not conceivably be improved upon count as being against it?

    Forget it J, it’s Balloon Juice Town.

  139. 139
    Mnemosyne says:

    @J:

    After reading some of the comments on this thread, I went to Atrios’ site expecting to find him heaping abuse on Obama’s proposal. Instead I find him citing a post by Brad DeLong called ‘Obama bunts’ and saying he wishes Obama would go long.

    I’m just tired of Schleprock liberals complaining simultaneously about the bad food and the small portions, and that’s how Atrios’ and DeLong’s complaints about this proposal came across to me. YMMV, of course.

    ETA: Video for the young ‘uns.

  140. 140

    @jwb: What you say its true, but the media does not have a preconceived preference for one party or another, they stick their fingers in the wind, just like advertisers, to see which direction the energy is left or right. Right now it is right, and coming out of August, the wingnut opposition, has had the floor, and a loud group of them are creating energy, or the perception of it.

    It is always harder for the party in power to be the one creating energy because they have the responsibility of being or looking responsible, unless there is something like a 9-11, that had lasting energy for Bush and the wingnuts, that they milked for every last drop, even starting a new patriotic war in Iraq. But when the rush of hyperpartisanism from being attacked like that from abroad began to wear off, and reality set in on what they had done, the energy switched to the other side, and so did advertisers, and big corporate donors trying to ingratiate themselves to the coming dem governance.

    Things are very mixed up right now, because instead of becoming sober pols, the wingers doubled down on the crazy, and they are very good at optics of creating energy and momentum, and aided by a struggling job market have made some inroads, pretty big inroads actually, so the winds shift again and the money people and media hop back on the wingnut wagon. But there is history, recent history, that can be exploited by the dems, and because of the fact that the GOP momentum is almost entirely built on nothing but opposition and hate soaked memes, and bizarre conspiracy theories.

    My point is just because the media is siding up with the wingnuts right now because they sniff coming power, that can be changed or blunted with offense by democrats and particularly Obama. That recent history of Bush is a giant dem hold card if they choose to play it to the hilt. Sounded like Obama turned it over today. So we shall see.

  141. 141
  142. 142
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @jwb:

    Yes, I am aware of that. But while they fought him he was still able to get things done (though his backing off at one point quickly brought some of the mess right back). If anything, you help make my point. FDR had resistance from all sides and yet he still got shit done because the public wanted it done. They had seen the shit they had been fed and demanded change. FDR didn’t get all he wanted but it had got bad enough that he was able to get quite a bit done.

    While I haven’t got my unicorn yet, I think Obama is doing the best he can in a hostile atmosphere. He needs a foil and having Repubs back in control of the House or Senate would do it. Give them one branch right now and they will fuck things up in short order, especially if the crazies in the House get control.

    Let them fiddle while the nation burns.

  143. 143
    jwb says:

    @NR: “As things stand now, the narrative is about how the Democrats’ policies have failed, and they are facing Armageddon in November. And it’s their own fault.” Even assuming what you say is true, what good does it do for our chances in the November election to point this out continually? So the Dems screwed the pooch last year with the stimulus. Agreed. Now, do you really think it helps the Dems win in November if you keep punching the Dems for that mistake?

  144. 144
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I think it would have been great if Obama had proposed a bigger stimulus. I also wish our political class, and the electorate, had a firmer grasp of economics, that the federal budget is not, in fact, just like your household budget. I wish Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad and Evan Bayh understood that there are, in fact, greater threats to our long term economic health than debt and deficit, i.e. unemployment, which will in fact make the debt and deficit worse. I wish Claire McCaskill hadn’t bragged about getting rid of “the silly stuff” when talking about some of the most important parts of the bill. I wish the people of Maine would stop their de facto election of Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn. I wish David Gregory would laugh in John McCain’s face when The Man Who Picked Palin suggested that returning to the marginal tax rates of the Clinton years–which rates he quite liked in 2001 — was “class warfare”. I wish David Broder were recognized for the soft-spoken but relentless Republican partisan that he is. I wish Katharine Graham hadn’t died and left her halfwit son control of the Establishment Newsletter. I could go on, but my fingers hurt.

  145. 145
    jwb says:

    @Odie Hugh Manatee: And Obama has gotten a lot done. If the Dems, through a miracle or not, hold control of the House and Senate, he will get even more done. FDR didn’t get everything done in a minute—or even in a single term.

  146. 146
    aimai says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Mnemosyne, I don’t get the distinction you are making here. Of course its a strategy as well as a policy. Most serious dems have been begging for a strategy for the midterms for a while. It can be a great strategy and terrible policy, or great policy and terrible strategy. That is entirely in the hands of the major, top level, dems and their funders and their mouthpieces. Really, no one at the top level cares what Atrios or Brad delong thinks, and certainly they aren’t waiting for the all important aimai imprimatur either. But as *strategy* the whole thing also stands or falls on the ability of ground level troops–including myself–to sell it. And we can only sell it if the upper level troops are also selling it. They can sell it as the best they can do under the circs. That’s cool with me. But they have to do it. Sounds like they are just starting to really swing for the fences and make the argument that if 50 billion isn’t enough (and its probably not) to bring unemployment down *that’s the fault of the Republican party.* That’s all they have to do to make it work as strategy. But if they don’t do that it fails as both strategy and policy.

    aimai

  147. 147
    superdestroyer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    The last time I looked, the trucking industry pays fuel taxes, license fees, and transportation taxes. Are you really claiming that the taxes need to be higher. If higher taxes cause people to lose their jobs, is it still worth it.

    The railroads have a massive subsidy in owning ride-of-ways that they control and they rent the ground below for fiber optic and the air above for electrical transmission lines.

    The government would have to use eminent domain to build new railroads, prepare massive, lengthy, and expensive. The lawsuits alone would take more than six years. A pipe dream to keep consultants, lawyers, and activist employed.

  148. 148
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @jwb: No, he fixed everything in 100 days. Read the history books.

  149. 149
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @superdestroyer: The fucking highway system is the subsidy.

  150. 150
    Mnemosyne says:

    Totally random thought that will get me accused of starry-eyed touting of 11-D chess:

    We already know that a big chunk of the administration is obsessed with Not Ending Up Like Bill Clinton and is willing to make changes to policy to avoid that possibility. The health insurance reform bill is the most obvious example.

    How much of our policy of the past two years has been determined by a desire to not repeat 1994 this year? In my dream world, the Dems manage to hold onto a narrow majority in both houses of Congress and that frees the White House up to end the Not Ending Up Like Bill Clinton obsession and lets them do better policy. (Since Clinton did get a second term, that shouldn’t trigger the obsession. I hope.)

    Yeah, I should probably quit start drinking while I’m ahead …

  151. 151
    Corner Stone says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    The Man Who Picked Palin

    Sounds like a good title for Louis L’Amour. Or Lawrence Block.

  152. 152
    jwb says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Oh, that’s right I forgot that he spent the rest of his terms twiddling his thumbs into championship shape.

    I read recently somewhere that polls prior to the 1934 midterms had the Dems losing a significant number of seats in both chambers. I haven’t been able to find confirmation on that.

  153. 153
    Anne Laurie says:

    @The Sheriff’s A Ni-:

    And how many of those 100,000 weren’t on Social Security and/or Medicaid? I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just Beck, Trig Palin, and Albert Pujols.

    No, Trig gets some of his medical expenses paid from federal funds because his daddy’s part Native American, or at least that’s what the Lamestream Media was reporting back in 2008. Whether a woman who made at least twelve million dollars last year is still eligible to claim those funds, I don’t know, but you can be sure that if the program isn’t both means-tested and very strictly monitored, the Palin are not too proud to demand every penny they’re “owed” even while bitching about the wasteful gubmint throwing away white peoples’ hard-earnt dollars on lazy shiffless not-white people.

  154. 154
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Anne Laurie: Nipple zipper jackets ain’t cheap.

  155. 155
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    Of course its a strategy as well as a policy. Most serious dems have been begging for a strategy for the midterms for a while.

    Well, now the strategy is here, and the argument so far is about its merits as a policy, not as a strategy.

    I think that what drove me most nuts about Atrios’s reversal was that his first reaction was to its value as a strategy — hey, what a good way to club the GOP! — and then immediately his economist brain turned around and started picking it apart as a policy. I won’t criticize DeLong for doing that — he’s a policy guy, not a strategy guy — but Atrios can’t seem to decide if he’s going to focus mostly on policy or mostly on strategy and ends up splitting the baby between the two. You can’t constantly complain that something is a bad policy and then turn around and wonder why it’s not getting Dems fired up as a strategy.

  156. 156
    Mnemosyne says:

    @superdestroyer:

    The railroads have a massive subsidy in owning ride-of-ways that they control and they rent the ground below for fiber optic and the air above for electrical transmission lines.

    I’m not sure what your argument is here. If the railroads only operate by receiving a massive government subsidy, and if they’re making money on the side by renting right-of-ways for fiber optic and electrical transmission, why, exactly, are we supposed to listen to their cries of poverty when they complain that they can’t possibly afford to maintain the rail lines and need still more government money to keep them up?

  157. 157

    @Mnemosyne: LOL, that squirrel cage will never end if you hop in it. We almost have completely opposite scenarios that give the appearance of ending up in the same place. A new GOP majority in congress. In 1994, no one really predicted such a thing and dems weren’t worried very much even with polls not looking so good, since the wingnuts had not held the house in 40 years and they had untried but organized ideas for better governance

    Now we have everybody predicting a GOP majority in the House, the dems are obsessed and fearful it will happen, and the goopers were in power just two years ago for 12 years running the House and all those ideas went to shit, and the Contract With America looks more like a bunch of dufuses running wild in the streets packing heat and sporting witch doctor signs of the first black dem president.

    If they win, I put my money on the witch doctor signs for turning that worm. What else makes sense?

  158. 158
    WereBear says:

    Democrats spend a lot of time seeing how things could run so much better and more happily; and reality is always going to come up short.

    While Republicans fantasize about being overrun and oppressed and herded into camps and ruthlessly crushed; so every morning they wake up in their own bed is a win.

    I dunno, I just heard a real barn burner of a speech, from a President who said he’d campaign until November on it, and I think, for the very first time, I actually heard some trickle down; but it was really a lot of Republicans wetting their pants.

  159. 159
    Nick says:

    @NR:

    Either it would have passed, in which case the economy would be in much better shape right now, or the Republicans would have filibustered it, in which case the economy would be worse, but the Democrats would be able to point to that filibuster as the clear reason why.

    Look how well pointing to Republican opposition as a reason for a policy failing has worked for the 9/11 health bill and unemployment.

    When the media (and public) inevitably ask you, as they did Anthony Weiner on the street in Rego Park, Queens in July, “Why wont you just compromise for the good of the country? Why do you insist on staging partisan fights?” What’s going to be your answer?

  160. 160
    jwb says:

    @General Stuck: Well, we could return to the old chestnut of the Diebold conspiracy.

  161. 161
    morzer says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    The General does have a certain unique charm. That said, it’s better than the nihilist sniveling of the purity trolls and professional pessimists.

    Look, we’ve gone round this topic time after time. Everyone agrees that the media are at best ignorant and at worst malicious. The question remains: how do we get the message out better? Until we answer that question, we are going to be spinning our wheels, and a year, a decade from now, older, greyer, sadder and apparently no wiser, we shall be asking the same question with the same lamentation about how mis-informed the great American public is.

  162. 162
    jwb says:

    @Nick: “Are the Republicans offering a compromise? That’s news to me.” Why do the Dems not have writers scripting quips to predictable questions like those you pose?

  163. 163
    Nick says:

    @morzer:

    Everyone agrees that the media are at best ignorant and at worst malicious. The question remains: how do we get the message out better?

    The first thing we do is discredit the media. Point out, everywhere you go, that the “mosque at Ground Zero” that Fox is so outraged over is being financed by the same dude who owns 10% of Fox. That’s why I’ve renamed the “Ground Zero Mosque” the Fox News Mosque. You watch Fox? You’re financing the mosque.

    Point out that Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKlein offer to spend more on ads if their drugs are given a positive story on the nightly news (or their competition isn’t) so the next time your grandmother or your aunt says “The news said X is bad for you” or “The news says you should take Y for your ailment,” they’ll recognize it as bullshit and that will gradually tune them out and listen to you.

    Most of all, let your liberal freak flag fly , on Facebook, on Twitter, on the National Mall if given the chance.

  164. 164
    Nick says:

    @jwb: Weiner is one of the best massagers we have and even he got rolled by his constituents over the 9/11 bill. These people still believe Republicans are acting in good faith, and they believe the bullshit told them by teabagger friends and neighbors (you want to give money to illegal immigrants!!!)

    The problem with the 9/11 bill, and every bill really, is the Republicans are offering a compromise, a toothless bill. The public doesn’t understand this and things by saying it, you’re advocating a partisan position. Weiner’s attempts to explain to his constituents that the Republicans were trying to weaken the bill fell on deaf ears.

    I was there, following him along Queens Boulevard. I saw it for myself.

  165. 165
    morzer says:

    @Nick:

    This isn’t a recipe for achieving any sort of parity, much less dominance of the media. We need something on a much bigger scale. The GOP hunt in packs, and use their base to intimidate the media. They own key sectors and stay on message. Individual efforts are fine and dandy, but they won’t beat Godzilla. We need to find a way to counter-balance them in the big game, not individual skirmishes.

  166. 166
    Mnemosyne says:

    @General Stuck:

    LOL, that squirrel cage will never end if you hop in it.

    Which is why I have now made myself a lovely berry mojito and will spend the rest of the evening watching TV.

  167. 167
    jwb says:

    @Nick: But he tried to explain, didn’t he, rather than answering with a quip or a succinct talking point. It’s like morzer said, we need our guys to have a message, know the message and stay on message. We need our guys at least occasionally to be parodied by the Daily Show for all saying the same thing.

  168. 168
    Nick says:

    @jwb:

    But he tried to explain, didn’t he, rather than answering with a quip or a succinct talking point.

    yeah, but seeing that not go anywhere, he promptly tried to change the conversation toward local economic issues.

  169. 169
    morzer says:

    @Nick:

    Weiner is one of the best massagers we have

    Well, he’s no Eric Massa…

  170. 170
    Nick says:

    @morzer:

    The GOP hunt in packs, and use their base to intimidate the media. They own key sectors and stay on message. Individual efforts are fine and dandy, but they won’t beat Godzilla.

    Because the GOP engages in groupthink. Democrats don’t. Democrats are lose coalition of single or two/three issue voters. You think the people at NARAL care about spending for infrastructure? You think the UAW is concerned with gay rights? You think the Human Rights Campaign is concerned with whether or not the Bush tax cuts get extended? You think Sierra Club cares about Wall Street reform? I’m willing to be there are NARAL supporters who want less government spending, union guys against gay marriage, and HRC funders who want the Bush tax cuts extended.

  171. 171
    Nick says:

    @morzer: damn autocorrect.

  172. 172
    ks says:

    I am late to these comments, I’m a lurker, and I’m an unrealistic optimist. But has anyone suggested we all run a PTDB campaign for this?

  173. 173
    morzer says:

    @Nick:

    So you advocate luxurious despair? I am shocked, I tell you, shocked.

    This is why Democrats need to learn the hard work, discipline and anger that winning requires in politics. If that means killing some sacred cows and stepping on some delicate toes, fine, let’s do it. But for the love of God, let’s stop being too pure to get our hands dirty.

  174. 174
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Nick:

    as they did Anthony Weiner on the street in Rego Park, Queens in July, “Why wont you just compromise for the good of the country? Why do you insist on staging partisan fights?”

    Over the 9/11 workers’ health bill? Jesus. I already went down twice today in the sea of stupid.
    OTOH, you could sell that anecdote to Mrs David Broder, it would give the mister the first stiffy he’s had since 1962.

  175. 175
    Ed Drone says:

    @Delia:

    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a whim but the bankers.

    Fixed.

    Ed

  176. 176
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @jwb:

    I have no problem with what Obama has done given what he has had to work with, we got some progress on important issues and I have no problems with that. I would love for the Democrats to clean up this fall and I will vote to help them do their part. I believe that if they don’t keep control then maybe we deserve exactly what we get because it would be obvious that far too many out there still don’t see the error of our ways with Republicans at the helm.

    All I am saying is that tf the Democrats keep control of both the House and Senate then anything that blows up between then and ’12 is going to be laid at their feet. This would make a re-election much tougher for Obama. If things go tits up with the repubs holding the reins then Obama has something to point at and pontificate about, When shit happens, it’s the shits when you have nobody to blame except your own party. As bad as shit is now I really expect it to get much worse as the rest of the financial chickens come home to roost.

    Our financial system has been trashed, many good paying jobs have been out sourced, pay has been flat and inflation has been steadily moving prices up. None of this is being addressed and it won’t be until it all collapses. Until then the focus is going to be on keeping the dead patient on life support for a bit longer.

    Boy I sound cheerful today! ;)

  177. 177
    Nick says:

    @morzer:

    So you advocate luxurious despair?

    No, I advocate everyone do their part. Because that’s all we can do. Otherwise we’re left telling people whose issues have to be sidelined or compromised on for someone else’s to “deal”

    I mean let’s face it, even if we go single payer healthcare, we’d still have to deal with the abortion question. Two of the most prominent single payer advocates in the House, Marcy Kaptur and Jerry Costello are rabidly pro-life. You think Planned Parenthood and NARAL is going to say “oh, ok, yeah, single payer is so important, I’m willing to compromise and support a limit to or no federal money for abortion”

    It’s always been like that with Democrats, all the way back to when FDR left minorities out of Social Security and WPA.

  178. 178
    Allison W. says:

    I notice how so many of you are saying Obama should have proposed a bigger stimulus. So what? is the assumption that if he had started higher, he would have gotten more? I don’t know where this belief comes from but it doesn’t always work that way. It could have happened or we could be sitting here complaining that Obama allowed his original proposal to be trimmed in half or failed to get one at all.

    What I wish people would talk about more is how to deal with the 10 or so Dems in the Senate that don’t fall in line when we need them. Its part of the reason why the WH has to negotiate with Republicans.

    And no – bully pulpit, fake primary threats and grow a pair aren’t solutions. If the payoff for saying no is greater than saying yes, these guys aren’t moving no matter what you do or say.

  179. 179
    morzer says:

    @Allison W.:

    I favor a damn good kicking, but some people consider this insufficiently bipartisan.

    You can strip them of seniority, remove them from the caucus, basically dump them from the party. Of course, doing this sort of thing successfully depends on timing.

  180. 180
    Moses2317 says:

    @morzer: My suggestion is that we ignore the Republican circus clowns and spend our energy talking up the progressive Democratic message through letters to the editor, canvassing, phone banking, and other methods that reach out to people who are not already deeply immersed in the progressive world. I am trying to start that effort over at Winning Progressive. Check it out and let me know what you think.

  181. 181
    Moses2317 says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Thanks for the shoutout, Linda!

  182. 182
    Keith G says:

    @Nick:

    You think the UAW is concerned with gay rights?

    Yes, silly boy, I do. I started attending precinct organizational meetings in UAW halls in Ohio in 1976. I watched a UAW-heavy precinct send a gay rights organizer to the 1980 convention as a delegate. The UAW members from the Midwest are among the most amazing Democrats I know. They believe.

    Nothing like ’em down here in Texas.

  183. 183
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    > ETA: To clarify, when I use “the Professional Left”
    > here, I’m talking about the Village-approved
    > Democrats who only show up to talk about how
    > Obama has failed them today. James Carville
    > would be the poster boy here

    Bravo! Only the second comment, and an Alice in Wonderland balloonbagger is already making up his own definitions.

  184. 184
    Nick says:

    @Keith G: and yet union members voted to ban same-sex marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

  185. 185
    morzer says:

    @Nick:

    Gay marriage isn’t the same thing as gay rights. It’s one issue in the spectrum.

  186. 186
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas:

    Awww, did I take away your moment of outrage where you could talk about how meaaaan we all are to the poor firebaggers? Poor schmoopie.

  187. 187
    Nick says:

    @morzer:

    Gay marriage isn’t the same thing as gay rights. It’s one issue in the spectrum.

    Tell that to gays and lesbians.

  188. 188
    Mnemosyne says:

    @morzer:

    You can strip them of seniority, remove them from the caucus, basically dump them from the party. Of course, doing this sort of thing successfully depends on timing.

    Particularly since it means they would immediately start caucusing with the Republicans, so doing it would be essentially turning the seat over the Repubs for the foreseeable future.

  189. 189
    morzer says:

    @Nick:

    Oh, and are you gay? Or a lesbian? Do you moonlight as one, possibly, perhaps, in intervals of being a fatuous little fuckwit? No, you are just someone who never has anything to contribute except glib one-liners, cheap pessimism, and vastly inflated self-regard. What does it take for you to understand that gay marriage is NOT the same as gay rights? There are gay people who don’t give a rat’s ass about gay marriage, there are straight people who think it’s the only gay issue. When will you learn not to assimilate everyone to the same pattern, and to stop confusing one issue with every issue for a community?

  190. 190
    morzer says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Thus: timing. You might try reading the whole post and thinking about it.

  191. 191
    Keith G says:

    @Nick: Well again, limiting my knowledge to the Midwest, I can only tell you what I know from many personal conversation and official union communications.

    If you can point me toward media stories or polling data about union members that can broaden my info base, please do.

  192. 192
    Nick says:

    @morzer:

    What does it take for you to understand that gay marriage is NOT the same as gay rights?

    Dude, seriously, I take it you’re not exposed to a politically-active gay community. The LGBT community is primarying an otherwise very progressive state senator in Queens because she voted against gay marriage even though 62% of district opposed it. I’ve spent a lot of time around the LGBT community and activists, for most of them, if you don’t support marriage rights, you don’t support gay rights, period.

  193. 193
    morzer says:

    @Nick:

    I think I am exposed to a pretty fucking radical gay community, and unlike you, I actually talk to them. You’ve obviously never done so, outside a quick read of Andrew Sullivan’s blog, in just the same way that you’ve never bothered to think about politics or talk to anyone who works in it. I’ve noticed your habit of making claims that you can never back up, and this one goes straight into the Nick’s Horseshit file. Let’s see: you go on about working in a major media environment – but somehow, you don’t have a clue about how to handle the media. You try and tell us that gay marriage is the same as gay rights, when plenty of activists would tell you that it’s far from the only game in town. What’s next – your analysis of the terrain on Mars?

  194. 194
    Nick says:

    @Keith G: A quick Google search brought up Wisconsin (in a Democratic year), Michigan and Ohio

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/20.....lls.0.html

    ARE YOU A UNION MEMBER?
    TOTAL Yes No
    Yes (16%) 50% 50%
    No (84%) 60% 40%

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/20.....lls.0.html

    ANYONE IN HOUSEHOLD IN A UNION?
    TOTAL Yes No
    Yes (36%) 55% 45%
    No (64%) 61% 39%

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/20.....lls.0.html

    ANYONE IN HOUSEHOLD IN A UNION?
    TOTAL Yes No
    Yes (34%) 63% 37%
    No (66%) 62% 38%

    In Ohio, non-union households were slightly more opposed to banning same-sex marriage than union households. Funny that.

  195. 195
    Joe Buck says:

    It can work if the Democrats maintain message discipline. They might even try going after major media figures: when some pompous talking head bloviates about how it’s just an election-year stunt for Obama, finally, to push for more job creation, ask that spoiled jerk how much money he makes. Deficits are something that rich people worry about; too many Americans worry about where the next meal is coming from.

  196. 196
    Nick says:

    @morzer:

    and unlike you, I actually talk to them. You’ve obviously never done so, outside a quick read of Andrew Sullivan’s blog

    um, I cover the LGBT beat, my paper puts out a special LGBT issue each year. I’m pretty damn close to them.

  197. 197
    Keith G says:

    @Nick:

    I offer a slight change:

    Tell that to *some* gays and lesbians.

    Some of us are quite happy to have nothing to do with the concept of traditional marriage and ask neither the state nor the made up god of your choice to solemnize our dedication to the love of our life.

  198. 198
    morzer says:

    @Nick:

    Which is, of course, why you forgot about.. oh, I don’t know.. DADT? You might discover that quite a few gay and lesbian people have rather strong views on the topic. Some of them even chain themselves to the White House fence. Try talking to them sometime.

    For the last fucking time: not all gay people think alike, not all of them think gay marriage is the only thing that matters, and many of them will tell you that gay marriage is one of a number of issues in the gay rights spectrum.

    Next up: how to tie shoelaces and walk while chewing gum.

  199. 199
    morzer says:

    @Keith G:

    Damn straight. If you see what I mean.

  200. 200
    Nick says:

    @morzer:

    Which is, of course, why you forgot about.. oh, I don’t know.. DADT? You might discover that quite a few gay and lesbian people have rather strong views on the topic. Some of them even chain themselves to the White House fence. Try talking to them sometime.

    oh you mean the ones who stood in front of Senator Schumer’s office in the rain last Spring asking him to join Senator Gillibrand to fight to repeal DADT. The ones who called the President a bigot because he won’t come out for gay marriage?

    Them?

    It may be just one issue on the spectrum of gay rights, but they seem intent on saying you’re not a Democrat unless you support gay marriage. That said, if repealing DOMA is going to be a focal point in the Democratic agenda, it’s gonna be hard when nearly 2/3 of union voters in Ohio (and 44% of registered Democrats) support something like it. Or is it ok to be a Democrat and support a constitutional ban on gay marriage? Really, I’d like to know, because it could win Obama a few more votes in Georgia.

  201. 201
    morzer says:

    @Nick:

    You really are desperate, aren’t you? You don’t know what you’re talking about, and so you go into deflection mode and try and divert attention away from your embarrassment. Pathetic.

  202. 202
    Corner Stone says:

    @Nick:

    um, I cover the LGBT beat, my paper puts out a special LGBT issue each year. I’m pretty damn close to them.

    God damn man, what beat don’t you cover with all your effort?
    So far it’s politics, unfettered access to 15 of the biggest bankers minds on Wall Street, and now homosexuals.
    You really are a decathlete for your imaginary paper where you imaginarily work.

  203. 203
    KG says:

    @jwb: right, but revenue comes from selling ad space which is priced based on circulation/clicks/ratings.

  204. 204
    frosty says:

    @superdestroyer: But if you look at the freight railroad infrastructure being proposed, it’s multi-railroad and multi-modal. I see a clear government interest here. The pax railroad is commuter, again, a long history of government involvement.

    Highways: The ICC in Maryland was fought for decades over environmental concerns. It’s the last grass-roots highway that will ever be built in MD. My take is that given the fact of Peak Oil, and worse of peak oil exports, it will never meet it’s forecast traffic.

    Airports: More or less agreed. Air travel is going the way of the dodo and more investment in airport capacity is money thrown down a rathole.

  205. 205
    Nick says:

    @Corner Stone:

    God damn man, what beat don’t you cover with all your effort?

    I cover four; Politics, Transportation, LGBT, and Banks/Finance.

  206. 206
    frosty says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    …crank ideologue who wants to eliminate social security, the capital gains tax, and if he had his way I imagine would like to eliminate the social safety net altogether.

    You forgot the part about Toomey’s former career as a hedge fund trader. To quote Jon Lovitz as Mike Dukakis “I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!”

    I’ll be knockin’ on doors for Sestak in a few weeks.

  207. 207
    Nick says:

    @morzer:

    You really are desperate, aren’t you? You don’t know what you’re talking about, and so you go into deflection mode and try and divert attention away from your embarrassment. Pathetic.

    Like I’ve always been told, “One your opponent starts to attack you personally, it means you’ve won the argument.” I supposed since you can’t answer my question “How do we repeal DOMA and fight for marriage equality when union members oppose it?” you decided attacking me personally was the better option.

  208. 208
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Joe Buck:

    hen some pompous talking head bloviates about how it’s just an election-year stunt for Obama, finally, to push for more job creation, ask that spoiled jerk how much money he makes.

    Oh god, let one of them risk gaining the reputation of being a fellow unworthy of a dinner invitation. I’ll take them to dinner. I’ll fly to DC and buy them the most expensive dinner in town.

  209. 209
    frosty says:

    @Suffern ACE:
    Wind. Solar. Electric grid. Rebuilding our soils. Nonpoint pollution, both ag and urban. Just for a start.

  210. 210

    @Keith G:

    Unions in the Midwest:

    Not a union member but live in NE Ohio and have interacted with lots of union guys and gals. They tend to be a lot more complex than they look. And more understanding of issues than you might expect.

    They might not go on strike to support gay rights but that doesn’t mean they are homophobes.

  211. 211
    Nick says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    They might not go on strike to support gay rights but that doesn’t mean they are homophobes.

    But see that’s just the problem. How would we have a movement for stuff like DADT and repealing DOMA if major pieces of the Democratic coalition just don’t care, or outright oppose, it?

    We’re talking about unity in the Democratic Party, for the entire party to unite on one message. How do you do that if the topic is repealing DADT or DOMA, and a Democrat from a heavily union district is like “well, I don’t really care about this”

    The state senator I speak of in Queens, she represents a district where Obama got 88% of the vote, but 62% of her constituents oppose marriage equality (despite there being a rather sizeable LGBT minority in one corner of the district). She couldn’t care less about the issue, it doesn’t concern her one way or the other, so she’s going to vote her constituents. How do you get her to support a united front? She’s there to protect Medicaid, food stamps, get more funding for failing schools in her district. When the argument is same-sex marriage, now a major issue in New York, she doesn’t care. And you know what? A liberal same-sex marriage supporting Democrat from Manhattan can care less about her failing schools.

  212. 212
    mclaren says:

    More to the point, that quote explains how badly Barack Obama does not get it.

    “Over the next six years,” Mr. Obama promised “we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads — that’s enough to circle the world six times; that’s a lot of road. (..) We’re going to restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next-generation air-traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American travelers — I think everybody can agree on that.”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The automobile is going away. Oil is headed toward $175 a barrel. Gasoline is going up to $10 per gallon. People aren’t going to be zooming around in their 1950s-style Happy Motoring future, they’re going to be trudging around on foot or pedaling bicycles. Highways won’t help.

    The cost of jet fuel is going to go through the roof. Air travel will become a luxury only available to the super-wealthy.

    Obama really truly does not get it.

    America needs to plan for a future without cars and without jet planes. America needs to plan for Peak Oil.

    Obama’s “grand scheme” is just Eisenhower’s 1956 Nation Highway infrastructure project. That made good sense back in 1956, when the price of oil was $1 a barrel. It makes no sense today.

    The Democrats and Obama deserve to lose in November. They really truly seriously just do not get it.

  213. 213

    @mclaren: give it a rest you nut.

  214. 214
    Nick says:

    @mclaren:

    The automobile is going away. Oil is headed toward $175 a barrel. Gasoline is going up to $10 per gallon. People aren’t going to be zooming around in their 1950s-style Happy Motoring future, they’re going to be trudging around on foot or pedaling bicycles. Highways won’t help.

    are these bicycles going to fly? Because if not they’re gonna fucking need highways to maneuver.

    You’re right, Obama doesn’t get it, if by it you mean crazy Armageddon theories.

  215. 215
    DFRer says:

    @Nick:

    are these bicycles going to fly? Because if not they’re gonna fucking need highways to maneuver.

    LOL, you’re on a roll this weekend.

  216. 216
    Mark S. says:

    @Corner Stone:

    He also takes pictures of Spiderman, though that cheap bastard Jameson doesn’t pay him much.

  217. 217
    fasteddie9318 says:

    Seriously, though, Obama totally does not get it. Once the technological singularity happens, there aren’t going to be any people left to drive those highways or ride in your precious little trains and planes. Whoever is lucky enough to be downloaded into a cybertronic body rather than outright exterminated by the robot armies will simply swap out his or her leg gears for solar-powered hoverjets and hover wherever they want to go. That’s what we should be investing in; the hoverscape. Why the hell do the Democrats not get this stuff?

  218. 218
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Now wait just a minute.

    Congress takes August off. Anything the Dems propose in September or October is “just a political stunt” and dismissed out of hand. Anything the Dems propose in November or December is a “lame duck session ignoring the will of the people.” Nothing can get done in January because Mitch will be too busy hanging new draperies and passing out committee assignments.

    That’s six months–one-fourth of a Congressional session–that the Repubs have essentially declared off-limits to doing business.

  219. 219
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    The automobile is going away. Oil is headed toward $175 a barrel. Gasoline is going up to $10 per gallon. People aren’t going to be zooming around in their 1950s-style Happy Motoring future, they’re going to be trudging around on foot or pedaling bicycles. Highways won’t help.

    Gosh, if only there was some way to make cars that didn’t use gasoline!

    Nah! Who am I kidding? Never happen.

  220. 220
    chicago dyke says:

    i guess i just need to say: “firebagger” is pretty evil. i am the sort of person who is likely termed a “firebagger.” but the truth is: i know jane and wrote for FDL and lots of other ‘nasty’ far left blogs. but i’m not part of any well funded group like various teabaggers are. i’m making no money off my opposition to the DLC, no one tells me what to say or write, and i don’t watch TV. “firebagger” is a term of the most serious form of propaganda you can imagine. the left is “disorganized” by definition; the right is the very opposite for the same reasons. please, let’s not assist in the effort to make the meme effective. hate me all you want, but recognize i’m not part of any particular ‘movement’ just as the teabagger ‘movement’ isn’t really one except as the expression of what money can buy. money, as always, is the clue. i have none. teabagger “leaders” do, and it comes from billionaires who use internet memes to accomplish their goals. but don’t mistake people like me, who know obama well from personal experience and don’t like him, for the “lefty version of a teabagger.” that misses so many relevant facts it’s hard to list them.

  221. 221
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Quaker in a Basement: From my reckoning, The Media, with its incessant horse raciness has been on the “Wait until midterms before doing anything” since the VA primaries. Republicans have been doing that since January 2009.

  222. 222
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    > Awww, did I take away your moment of outrage

    Not at all, but you did prompt me to redefine you from “Alice in Wonderland” to (What a) “Moby Dick”… And thanks for making your “O” face for Uncle Thomas!

  223. 223
    frosty says:

    @mclaren: Sadly, I find that I agree with you on something. Although I’m in the camp that doesn’t think oil hits $150 a barrel. It goes up, the economy crashes, fewer people can afford it, it goes down. Rinse, repeat.

    Eventually many are out of work and those that aren’t are using all the remaining (imported) oil. If Saudi has anything left to export after their domestic economy ramps up to use it al.

  224. 224
    frosty says:

    @Nick: Pardon the rudeness, but you can’t continue exponential growth in a resource-constrained planet. Period. Infinite growth can’t occur with finite resources.

    We are hitting a wall of energy constraints. We should have started bailing ourselves out 30 years ago but Mr. “Morning in America” combined with the North Sea and the North Slope derailed us.

  225. 225
    Michael says:

    @Nick:

    Tell that to gays and lesbians.

    My personal message to the whiny assed titty baby drama queens of the gay and lesbian activism pantheon is that if they sit this out, I’m not going to be too upset when sodomy gets re-criminalized in the Palin administration.

  226. 226
    Michael says:

    @chicago dyke:

    don’t mistake people like me, who know obama well from personal experience and don’t like him, for the “lefty version of a teabagger.” that misses so many relevant facts it’s hard to list them.

    Jane, you ignorant twunt….

  227. 227
    Cain says:

    @aimai:

    I just don’t see what the point is of bitching that Atrios doesn’t love the 50 billion from all perspectives. I don’t either. I like it that Obama is fighting very publicly for the midterms and for the party and for liberalism and for infrastructure and jobs. I’ll like it better if I see the rest of the relevant Dems fighting with him—because that tells me that when I go door to door trying to explain what the Dems are doing I won’t have to do all the heavy lifting or argue against the voter’s scepticism when I explain what Democratic initiatives would look like when there has been no public attempt to forward them.

    I think it’s because it looks like we’re falling into a familiar pattern. The HCR debate was exhausting simply from all the dust that was kicked up by bloggers in the blogging sphere. Atrios’s post sounds like a repeat of the circular firing squad…

    Others just want to stick with Obama, give him some political fire so to speak so that he can influence congress to even get these little things done.

    The thing is, anything that makes waves eg a big stimulus wasn’t passing. There were too many reluctant Democrats who didn’t want to be labeled as spending like drunken sailors. Basically they accepted Republican/media criticism about their party. So, given that atmosphere, having a large stimulus or even a large aid package is pretty much dead on arrival. So we can talk all we want about how big it should be but we have to be realistic on what is possible with the congress we have.

    You can talk all you want about Obama arm twisting ala LBJ, but Obama derives his power from the general populace and his popularity with them. If Obama is popular in the state of Viriginia then Obama has some creds and can apply some influence. That’s the way it works, you know that. So when high profile bloggers bitch, and don’t temper their posts with positives (in this case, it was a positive followed by a negative) then it seems we’re back to the HCR debate again.

    We want to build the perception that Obama is popular, and powerful, in order for him to lean on congress. We need to apply some discipline so that news media don’t have a story they can shop. Provide a uniform support for the president if we can do it. Although if you have Jake Tapper twitting bs, I guess we can smack Jake Tapper around some. He should fear us. (or maybe it’ll only encourage him.. in which case we should then after we bitchslap him, we simply ignore his ass)

    cain

  228. 228
    jim says:

    Seems plain to me that some people with media connections need to start a little whisper-campaign to the effect that this could be one of those freaky midterms where the incumbents don’t lose … because mass-media knows from experience that WEIRD STUFF GETS PEOPLE’S ATTENTION, & also knows that political news is usually ratings poison.

    Get that rumor going & shareholders might just think that this new “LOL, Republicans Are Too Clueless To Win A Sure-Thing Midterm Election, Even In A Recession” narrative is an awesome way to kill two birds with one stone.

    I’ve been wondering if this is actually a real possibility ever since the rise of the Teabaggers … Boehner just went on record as overtly admitting that his party has been intentionally obstructionist, & Michael Steele kicked off the 2010 election season by flying to Guam. This is all great news … FOR JOHN MCCAIN!

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