Making No Sense

Atrios is right, this David Ignatius piece makes no sense whatsoever:

The best sign that the economic engine is really repaired would be a joint plan by the White House and congressional Republicans to trim the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years. The elements of such a long-term recovery program are clear: reform and simplification of the tax code; cuts in entitlements programs; reduction in military spending to reflect a changing strategic environment. There is bipartisan support, in principle, for such moves, but in practice?

When I paid my automobile tax to the county assessor last year, it was pretty easy, but I didn’t decide that was proof that my car’s engine was running smoothly. I really have no idea how these people think other than that they have their ideas of what would be best for them and their friends on the cocktail circuit, and then write whatever the hell they think they can get away with to achieve that goal.

82 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    if the “engine” was running smoothly again, the economy would be less of a priority in politics. yes. yay.

    instead, the GOP would run against the Dems by accusing the Dems of wanting to cut entitlements programs; reduce military spending, because on the whole, people don’t want either of those things. thus neither would get done.

  2. 2
    Jay C says:

    Actually. John, Ignatius’ column (standard WaPo Beltway Village punditry) does make sense, in a way. That is, if one takes “sense” as meaning “standard bland political pap which looks good and sounds reasonable to other Beltway Village Pundits”.

    Why else, otherwise, would it be in the Washington Post?

  3. 3
    David Hunt says:

    I really have no idea how these people think other than that they have their ideas of what would be best for them and their friends on the cocktail circuit, and then write whatever the hell they think they can get away with to achieve that goal.

    Don’t worry. I think that you nailed it on the first try. You understand them perfectly.

  4. 4
    Dave says:

    Or…raising the top marginal rate 3%. That would also trim the federal deficit. Funny how that doesn’t get mentioned…

  5. 5
    Tractarian says:

    There is bipartisan support, in principle, for such moves, but in practice?

    Can this become a new BJ tagline? You can basically use it at the end of any sentence. To wit:

    What Congress must do to get the economy moving again is eliminate the corporate income tax, abolish the Department of Education, erect statues of Ronald Reagan at every post office north of the 35th Parallel, nationalize the oil companies, spin off Alaska into an independent nation, and install golden toilets at the Library of Congress. There is bipartisan support, in principle, for such moves, but in practice?

  6. 6
    wengler says:

    A man eating potato chips is suddenly confronted by a man with a gun. Pausing with a shocked expression on his face the man eating the potato chips looks intently at the potato chip bag and exclaims “THE TRANSFATS IN THESE CHIPS ARE ARE EVENTUALLY GOING TO KILL ME!” Resolved to a change for the better in his life, he calmly sits back while the gunman shoots him in the head.

  7. 7
    RP says:

    It kinda, sorta makes sense on a very superficial level — if we’re past the crisis stage and the economy is in decent shape, we should be able to shift our focus to long term issues and away from crisis management.

    The problem is that this is in no way a “sign” that the economy has recovered. He’s trying to use a cute rhetorical trick instead of just making a straightforward argument, e.g., “the economy seems to be getting back on track. Once we’re sure that it’s in good shape, we should shift from crisis management to long term planning. To that end, the president and congress should…”

    IMO, a big reason why Washington punditry mostly sucks is that they’re constantly trying to be clever instead of wise. They’re trying to write with STYLE!!! instead of making a logical, clearly reasoned arguments. IOW, many of these op-ed pieces would get C+s in 10th grade english classes.

  8. 8
    Martin says:

    @Dave: Actually the ‘reform and simplify the tax code’ is effectively the same thing. Raising the marginal rate is semi-futile – it’s too easy to dodge.

  9. 9
    The Republic of Stupidity says:


    Shite shite shite…

    I’d be happy if the very, very, very rich were simply paying at the same rate the rest of us are

    Almost three-quarters of the highest earners’ income was in capital gains and dividends taxed at a 15 percent rate set as part of Bush-backed tax cuts in 2003, the statistics show. Of the 400 earners, 289 paid a total effective federal tax rate of 20 percent or less in 2007, the last year for which figures were available, the data show.

    This is BEYOND farkin’ galling…

  10. 10
    beltane says:

    David Ignatius, like all the rest of the Villagers, does not care about making sense. He writes as the representative of a privileged class, and his work is the equivalent of a duke or an earl dumping his chamber-pot unto the heads of the poor chimney sweeps waling below. Rather than analyze the contents of the chamber pot, it is better to attack the legitimacy of he who is dumping it. This concept applies to McArdle and all the rest of them, too.

  11. 11
    c u n d gulag says:

    Ah, David Ignatius, “The Grate (sic)!”
    Anyone have a spare English/Gibberish-Gibberish/English dictionary?
    I wore mine out after Sarah joined McLoon’s campaign.
    I’m unemployed right now and can’t afford another one.
    And now, with a possilbe Bachmann Presidential run, I’ll need one more than ever!!

  12. 12
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    O/T, but at some point today could we have an open thread to discuss all these fish kills and bird deaths that have been happening recently? It’s gone well beyond the Arkansas New Year’s Eve things now.


  13. 13
    Short Bus Bully says:

    “Reform and simplify the tax code” means getting rid of progressive taxation in the language of teh Village. Has good ole Dave come out as a Flat Taxer or is he still in the closet stroking it to old Steve Forbes campaign literature?

  14. 14
    georgia pig says:

    @RP: But that misses the point, which is to lock in a pernicious premise using a rhetorical game. Ignatius assumes without argument that “a long-term recovery program” is a bunch of budget balancing, mostly by cutting government spending. It’s not restructuring the economy to reduce income disparity, deal with millions of un- or under-employed, etc. The “recovery” lies only in balancing the imaginary books of an entity that prints its own money, so that the locked in wealth of a few can be preserved. Voila!

  15. 15
    slag says:

    The best sign that the economic engine is really repaired would be a joint plan by the White House and congressional Republicans to trim the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years.

    Really? Because I thought the best sign that the economic engine is really repaired would be full employment, livable wages, and an ecologically and socially sustainable economic base. But then I’m not a columnist for the Washington Post, so clearly, I don’t know everything.

  16. 16
    Martin says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Hmm. The GOP takes over the House and suddenly it’s the signs of the apocalypse.

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @slag: You are clearly a very silly person.

  18. 18
    Legalize says:

    It makes sense only by engaging in a logic 101-level fallacy.
    The “if, then” statement is:

    “If the economy improves, then lawmakers can move on to cutting the debt.”

    The logical converse is:

    “If lawmakers did not move on to cutting the debt, then the economy did not improve.”

  19. 19

    I’ll bet Ignatius wears two different color socks (both of which are his favorite colors!) so that when he looks at his feet he can haz a happy!

  20. 20
    RP says:

    @georgia pig:

    I agree. I didn’t mean to suggest that I agreed with Ignatius or that his intentions are good.

  21. 21
    Legalize says:

    Edit: that is to say, you have to assume that the original “if, then” statement is correct in the first place. Which I’m not. I’m just saying that Ignatius’ premise is faulty even under its own terms.

  22. 22
    Martin says:

    @Short Bus Bully: No it doesn’t. It means getting rid of deductions that have been exploited by the wealthy to avoid that high marginal rate.

  23. 23
    rickstersherpa says:

    Thomas Frank is writing at Harper now, and back on 1 December he wrote the following, which really sums up the WaPo editorial position, as well as that of most corporate media on economic issues.

    “Bright frenetic mills
    By Thomas Frank
    Columbia Journalism Review recently put a giant hamster wheel on its cover to bemoan this state of affairs, this frantic race to the bottom, this coming journalistic war of all against all. As for the “entrepreneurship” involved, one thinks back to the days of the robber barons, when a deluge of life’s goodness went to, say, the innovator who figured out how to make his workers live in company towns so he could deduct rent from their paychecks. One thinks of the immortal words of utility baron Samuel Insull: “My experience is that the greatest aid to efficiency of labor is a long line of men waiting at the gate.”

    Nowadays we don’t speak as plainly as old man Insull. It is the convention of our age to look at situations like this and declare that people are actually empowered by standing in that long line, that queueing up there frees them to engage in some kind of synergistic community-building—and that, come to think of it, the hamster is a noble beast. Democracy-talk has long provided the cover for the latest advances in rapaciousness, and our natural hostility toward elitism has furnished the official explanation for the great project of transferring the country’s wealth to the uppermost 1 percent. And it is plain that the rise of the content mills today merely advances the strategy launched years ago by the founder of USA Today, whereby focus groups were used to steer news coverage, critical attitudes were stigmatized as cynicism, and all of it was done in the name of “listening.” At the time, you will recall, this was known as the “journalism of hope”…”

    Of course anyone who has read the WaPo regularly these last ten years knows that no editorial or pundit gets published on this issue who does not hew to the line that “Social Security” must be “reformed” (i.e. destroyed).

  24. 24
    Lurking Canadian says:


    “If lawmakers did not move on to cutting the debt, then the economy did not improve.”

    Actually, the true converse is “If the law makers cannot move on to cutting the debt, then the economy did not improve”. That they are able to do it does not mean they will, or must.

    He’s trying to make it what you said, which is palming two cards for the price of one.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:


    Rather than analyze the contents of the chamber pot, it is better to attack the legitimacy of he who is dumping it.


    I don’t see any way the US can pull out of this tailspin without domestic terrorism. Our elites aren’t going to change until many of them are turning up dead.

  27. 27
    Cat Lady says:

    There is a reason why David Ignatius is one of Alex Pareene’s Hack Thirty after all. In the future, any reference to him should just be to Hack #14 so all utterings attributable to him can then be summarily dismissed.

  28. 28
    slag says:

    @Martin: A key prepositional phrase:

    in the language of teh Village

  29. 29

    It makes sense as long as you keep in mind that these guys cream themselves when they think about, 1: Bipartisanship; and 2: Paying off the debt by cutting “wasteful entitlement” programs like Social Security.

    I shudder to thnk what kind of dirty talk David Broder needs to hear from his wife before she can get his shriveled little pecker ready for a little fun. Most likely something involving John McCain working with Joe Lieberrman to slash Medicare. Of course, I also shudder at the thought of anyone having a “little fun” with David Broder. I think I’ll go steam-clean myself now…

  30. 30
    Nate says:


    Mass wildlife kills happen all the time for lots of reasons. The USGS deals with about 200 a year. All of them since 1995 are online here:

    The only difference this time is that the media has jumped on the story to freak people out and try to connect unconnected dots. There’s really nothing weird going on. They’ll be on to the next shiny object in no time…

  31. 31
    Bill E Pilgrim says:


    There is bipartisan support, in principle, for such moves, but in practice?

    A joke people tell in, and about, France is “Well look, that’s fine in practice, but it will never work in theory.”

    I mean having the economy growing by actually having jobs, people having money to spend, thus creating demand, thus more jobs, sure that’s all fine in practice, but if it doesn’t fit right wing and libertarian theory, what’s the point??

  32. 32
    lllphd says:

    no one – that is NO ONE, not even the media (and even if they do their job, the worst GOPfenders just refuse to talk to them) – actually THINKS.

    they speak in sound bites, all day every day, and so have lost any capacity they might have had to actually have a THOUGHT that shapes the words that spill forth from their pie holes.

    consequently, what we get is word salad. clinically speaking, a pathognomic sign.

  33. 33
    Walker says:

    Remember that this is an article written at a paper that does not recognize jobs as an important responsibility for this Congress.

  34. 34
    Captain Goto says:

    Well and truly OT, but worth mentioning: good ol’ Charlie Brown Roy Edroso is feeling a mite poorly lately, not to mention between domiciles:

    I caught a chill New Year’s Eve, spent two days I should have spent packing incapacitated by fever, and my lungs and sinuses are full of epoxy. Also, though I am very grateful to my buddy for lending me his spare room, it has seen little use and no absolutely no cleaning since the 28th Olympiad, and I’m not sure this is facilitating my recovery.

    Nicely enough, Roy’s good bud Jay Brida has set up a Paypal account to defray at least some of his woes. Be a good egg, y’all, and drop a farthing in the hat for the cause…

  35. 35
    El Cid says:

    I wish these fuckers would explain how if we had no debt and no deficit — and didn’t do anything else — why our economy would be ‘repaired’ and why more people would have jobs and the housing / mortgage morass fixed, etc.

    But they have no answer, they just keep jacking themselves off about fiscal probity, reining in, tightening belts, etc.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    Ash Can says:

    @Nate: I’m going to cling for dear life to this reply to SiubhanDuinne, because I’m afraid I’ll crack up otherwise.

  38. 38
    ChrisS says:

    I think I read something recently that once you’re over $75k in salary your happiness as it relates to income begins to decline.

    I think, in other words, once you’re over $75k in salary, little things like food, shelter, and clothing aren’t concerns anymore. You can afford a decent place and healthy food so, fuck it, the most important thing is taxes.

    I’d wager a month’s pay that most prominent pundits are earning well north of $75k. So you get what are concerns to them and what they perceive to be the concerns of the common man.

  39. 39
    Cat Lady says:

    @El Cid:

    why our economy would be ‘repaired’ and why more people would have jobs and the housing / mortgage morass fixed, etc.

    Because shut up, that’s why.

    /teh Village

  40. 40
    Svensker says:

    @El Cid:

    probity, reining in, tightening belts,

    See, I think there’s a clue somewhere in those words…hm, Peter O’Toole’s dad in Ruling Class comes to mind…. wetsuits, dildos, ahhhhhh

  41. 41
    rickstersherpa says:

    I was trying to articulate something on an earlier thread, but could not find the words which was to raise a caution flag on our own tribalism, while disparaging that tribalism that causes so many of our brothers and sisters to vote Republican and against there real economic and in fact, cultural interests. Because this thread relates to the general idiocy of the MSM as exemplified by David Ignatius, I putting this comment in from Bob Somerby’s Daily Howler:

    “…As we noted yesterday, it all comes down to us:

    Alas! The mainstream press corps tends toward inept; meanwhile, powerful pseudo-conservative factions spread persuasive disinformation. (By the year 2037, Social Security will be bankrupt!) Given this unfortunate setting, if we want to have a saner discourse, it all comes down to progressives and liberals. But do we sometimes let our attitudes get in the way of our possible outreach? Let’s consider three different ways we may imaginably do so:

    Apparent contempt for religion: On Monday, we went to see “True Grit,” the Coen siblings’ latest. Overall, we’d give the film a good solid B, though it did pay off for us in the end. It especially scored as the credits rolled, when the brothers play a version of an old hymn as sung by Arkansas native Iris DeMent.

    To hear the version played at the end of the film, click here. (Fuller version, with lyrics, below.) On YouTube, a range of commenters described their reactions to the Coens’ use of this hymn, reactions which corresponded to ours. This feller quoted an earlier comment, then seconded its emotion:

    YOUTUBE COMMENT: “True Grit could not have ended without this song.” Wholehearted agreement here. Not a religious man either, but it brought me to tears and elevated the whole experience of the film.

    We have no religious or cosmological views ourselves, beyond long-standing fascination with popularizers’ inability to explain Einstein. But for us, the use of this hymn at the end also “elevated the whole experience of the film.” We stayed to listen as the audience stampeded out, then waited to see who the singer was—an experience described by several YouTube commenters.

    Why did that hymn elevate a film which lacks explicit religious context? You’re asking a very good question! At any rate, we came home and fired up the Dell—and instantly hit this post by Digby, a post which ridicules a religion-based answer given by Candidate Bush in 1999. (Bush was responding to a semi-dumb question during a Republican debate.)

    On balance, we very much like Digby’s work. She has been our personal “first read” for years, though we think her instincts on race are often wrong and can be quite self-defeating. But after seeing that hymn-driven film, we were struck by Digby’s post. Question: In a nation of religious belief, might we liberals defeat ourselves—drive large chunks of the public away—when we sneer in such ways?

    Self-flattering racial narrative: In Saturday’s New York Times, Bob Herbert offered this column about Gladys and Jamie Scott, two sisters whose life sentences “for their alleged role in a robbery in 1993” were recently suspended by Mississippi governor Haley Barbour. Did the Scotts commit the crime for which they were convicted? Were their life sentences unjust? Was the sentencing driven by race? For the fullest account of the case we have seen, we’d cite this lengthy cover story from the Jackson Free Press, an alternative weekly. Of Herbert’s column, we’d only say this—it’s almost clownishly selective in its factual presentations. In the process, Herbert constructs a pleasing morality tale concerning race, the kind of tale with which we liberals tend to self-entertain and self-flatter.

    Barbour has been a favorite target of late, stemming from some reported remarks in this Weekly Standard profile. We’ll only say this: Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve been discouraged in the last year by the liberal world’s gross hypocrisy concerning matters of race. In the real world, we seem to do very little about real racial concerns. But we love to flatter ourselves in the tired old ways Herbert’s column permits.

    Question: In the wider political context, is this instinct perhaps self-defeating? Do these instincts undermine the possibility that we might salvage the broken American discourse?

    Brain food: At our worst, we play the ultimate tribal card; we talk about the other tribe’s brains, which of course don’t function correctly. This recent piece in Salon was just tragically foolish. But Olbermann picked it up and ran (while name-dropping Colin Firth), until John Dean at last told him this:

    DEAN (1/3/11): [N]ot knowing an amygdala if it was sitting on my head—and one is sitting in my head—I thought I’d talk to somebody who actually knew something about this. So I called the man whose, I drew on his work greatly when writing “Conservatives Without Conscience,” Robert Altmeyer, who at the time was up at the University of Manitoba. And I drew his attention to this study to see for his reaction.

    He said, “You know, John, I have some troubles with this.” He said, first the—there are some real basic problems with the way the amygdala works. He described to me what I thought was important. It’s the wiring in it and it doesn’t really much depend upon the size, but rather the way the wiring, if you will, fires and makes the system operate.

    The other thing is the sample is very small.

    Having entertained his audience throughout the show with this matter, Olbermann finally let Dean explain the view of someone who knows what he’s talking about. In these ways, we liberals tend to heighten our sense of tribal superiority. But does this serve long-term interests?

    Alas! We live in a broken political world—a world in which the top one percent are waging war on the lower 99. Will our political discourse ever make sense? Can the 99 ever unite in the face of this war? If so, it’s largely up to us liberals to create those new understandings. Question: When we self-entertain, and feed our own furies, do we possibly make it less likely that we can reach out to those who aren’t in our tribe? If we want to build a new political world, might we need some new attitudes?”

    Let’s be candid: The cake has been baked. In truth, we liberals will never win this war, in part for the reasons we have described. But as this year proceeds, we will ignore this obvious fact, focusing on the ways we may be defeating our own best efforts. Tomorrow, it’s back to Social Security, as we ask a new question: Along with a new attitude, might we liberals also need improved information organs?

    Tomorrow: We still can’t explain it. Why not?

    A longer listen: For DeMent’s fuller treatment of that hymn, just click here. For full lyrics, click this.

    In this report, the New York Times wonders why “True Grit” is resonating with the public after being semi-dissed by smart-pants film critics. (No Golden Globe nominations, for instance.) Additional question: Why did the Coens build their score around that old hymn?

    We think you’re asking a very good question. Our answer: We don’t rightly know.

  42. 42
    GeneJockey says:

    @El Cid:


    I have heard otherwise reasonably intelligent folks say things like, “If Americans would spend less, and save more, the economy would boom!”

    They don’t explain how, but they’re certain of it.

    Then again, they also tend to believe our current economic problems come from being too nice to the middle class and not nice enough to the wealthy, whom they refer to as ‘The most productive people in America’.

  43. 43
    Surly Duff says:

    …this David Ignatius piece makes no sense whatsoever

    Just this one?

  44. 44
    ChrisS says:

    Call me unconcerned. On, the day that the GOP establishment wonders aloud if they’re being too unfair to liberals, I’ll be skiing in hell.

    Try this Iris Dement song about the middle and working class:

  45. 45
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    the problem is no one is saying the “economic engine” is repaired.

    O/t I’ve got MSNBC in the background and Andrea Mitchell is stunned and shocked that the republicans have already reneged on their promise to cut $100 billion from the budget.

    new memes: republicans can’t govern/ republicans in disarray.

  46. 46
    Loneoak says:


    I think the birds are taking Angry Birds too literally. Birds have a well demonstrated lack of figurative thinking capacities.

  47. 47
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff):

    new memes: republicans can’t govern/ republicans in disarray

    Water is wet/ sun rises in east….

  48. 48
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Apparently wildlife experts don’t think it’s that unusual.

  49. 49
    WereBear says:

    @ChrisS: What gets to me is that you are right; these pundits make more than 75k and don’t have the prole worries of no food on the table and no fuel for the winter.

    But they carry water for people who are just as huge a jump up in scale; people with hummingbird tongues in the fridge and an array of jets to choose from, people with so much money how would they notice a bump up in their tax rate? And yet, because this is how they keep score, the plutocrats are obsessed with it.

    Do the pundits know their “betters” look down on them for only having two houses?

    I wonder.

  50. 50
    Loneoak says:


    Why did that hymn elevate a film which lacks explicit religious context?

    Surely, Somerby is fucking kidding us here with a dumber than rocks rhetorical question? True Grit was dripping with classic American Protestant theology. The characters talk about god and vengeance constantly. The Coen brothers explicitly discuss their desire to remake the film because the original missed the religious content of the book.

    I stopped reading after that, rickster. Somberby a moran, who has no right to comment on the left’s “contempt for religion” if he is too stupid to see the explicit religion in TG.

  51. 51
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: take a survey of low-information and under educated voters and I bet most of them have no idea the sun rises in the east.

    As an expert once said:

    “The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” ~ Mein Kampf (1925).

  52. 52
    PWL says:

    I t continues to amaze me how the Right Wing Noise Machine has got us all hornswoggled. Listened to two impartial analysts the other night on the PBS News Hour, who both said yes, the deficit is a problem–but to be dealt with in the long term, and what’s needed RIGHT NOW is stimulus to get the economy moving again ( If I remember right, they weren’t too impressed with continuing tax cuts for the rich, either).

    But, noooo….now, it’s all: Stimulus on the back burner! Deficit must be dealt with NOW! Cut, slash and trim! NOW!

    Yep, the Repubs and their MSM dupes have done a great job of convincing the public to do the very things that are NOT needed to deal with the immediate crisis…and to not do the things which are….

    Really starts to make me think that politics is not only the art of bullshit, but also of applied idiocy…

  53. 53
  54. 54
    ET says:

    Has anyone read this from Matt Latimer? It is filled with nuggets (though I don’t necessarily agree with the conclusions in #5 I just thought it was funny).

    Headache #1: “….. While Republicans have been choosing color palettes for their plush new offices and dreaming about where they will sit at Mitt Romney’s Cabinet table, their written-off political nemesis has pulled together a string of impressive political victories……….Depending on which poll one believes, Obama is either tied or well ahead of most of his likely Republican rivals-not bad for a man who is supposedly about to be sent back to Hawaii, Chicago, or wherever it is the Birthers think he came from this week.”

    Headache #2: “….. Shrewdly Obama will go out of his way to work with the GOP on these initiatives offering all sorts of tempting inducements. But, as Admiral Ackbar might say, “It’s a trap!” Each time Republican leaders compromise with the Democrats, the Tea Party will stand ready to blast them for abandoning their principles on spending and smaller government, just as GOP leaders did before. This makes staying on issues offense a top priority for the party. The trouble is that when it comes to issues, the party doesn’t appear to have any.”

    Headache #3: “….. The GOP has shown no capacity for meaningful spending cuts, and no interest whatsoever in trimming one of the government’s biggest spenders: the Pentagon. No effort appears on the horizon to revive the Reagan-era proposal of eliminating Cabinet departments. Few in the GOP, and certainly none in its cautious retread leadership, show any interest in tackling the real fiscal problems facing the country-massive entitlement programs. Without advancing a substantive conservative philosophy, that leaves the Republicans little to do other than manufacture issues-whatever happened to the “ground zero mosque,” by the way?-or play defense. Republicans managed to win seats by simply saying “no” to the Democrats. But can they really govern that way?”

    Headache #4: “It is time to face facts.There is only one Republican able to garner international attention with an offhand utterance or sway any political debate with a single posting on Twitter. You betcha: Sarah Palin is now the party’s top spokesperson, whether Washington likes it or not. (They don’t.) Party leaders have tried ignoring her, belittling her, laughing at her, whispering about her, rolling their eyes, and stomping their feet. It has only made her stronger to her supporters, who think the GOP leadership is a bunch of crusty, out of touch, K Street elitists. (Now that you mention it…) Here’s a thought for the RNC chairman: Why not take Palin seriously? Treat her as a frontrunner for the Republican nomination. Ask her to serve as spokesman on high-profile issues. Fire anyone found to denigrate her. Let the Alaska governor sink or swim: You don’t have much of a choice anyway.”

    Headache #5: “Perhaps the most worrisome sign for the GOP is what they’ve let slip right past them. Yes, the political Brangelina of our times, the Clintons, have pulled a fast one on their old rivals yet again. While Republicans have trained all their fire on Barack Obama-plastering his face on magazine covers, accusing him of coddling terrorists, and hating America-they have allowed their far more dexterous political opponents to rebuild their standing. …….”

  55. 55
    Legalize says:

    @Lurking Canadian:
    Right. I was just assuming his premise to demonstrate that even under those terms, the converse still fails.

  56. 56
    Bill Murray says:

    @rickstersherpa: Of course if you’re listening to Iris DeMent, you should also listen to Wasteland of the Free

  57. 57
    Bill E Pilgrim says:


    I went to see what Digby had written (like Somerby, she’s my first read but I couldn’t remember exactly what she had said in that one) and I see that she has an update:

    Update: Sigh. I wasn’t sneering at Bush’s religion. I was sneering at the fact that he answered a question about how Christ changed his heart with the logic of a four year old. Would have been too much for him to actually relate how his relationship with religion and Jesus informs his politics? Or are we supposed to just sit there and applaud when our political leaders speak in infantile riddles because it’s “sneering” to suggest that they should be at least minimally able to explain their reasoning, values and belief system? I guess that’s rude. Good to know.

    George W Bush met with the President of France and started blabbering about how attacking Iraq was part of the holy war between Gog and Magog, to the point where the astonished Chirac and his deputies had to call in a religious historian afterward to find out what the hell the American President had been talking about.

    When faced with childish goon like that who’s in charge of the most powerful military force the world has ever known and thinks it’s meant to be used in the service of some ancient religious myths that he thinks are not only real but are commanding him to strike— if people are going to be afraid to ridicule that…

    …then God help us all. I swear.

  58. 58
    Maude says:

    200 birds were found dead by a bridge in Texas.

  59. 59
    NobodySpecial says:

    Bill Daley to become new Chief of Staff. Sheesh.

  60. 60
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @NobodySpecial: yeah I know. The minute Howard Dean endorsed him, I thought, oh no, if Dean is for him, he must be bad.

  61. 61
    manwith7talents says:

    In theory, theory and practice are the same thing. In practice, they’re not.

  62. 62
    El Cid says:

    @GeneJockey: I can understand the personal version of this, because in someone’s own life if you spend less and are resolving your debt, you’re in a better situation economically simply because you’re spending less money, and this means you can spend that money on more useful things or save it for later useful things.

    But that’s not how a national economy works, at least not with the fake ‘fiscal hawk’ and popular / talk radio version. Saving money right now hurts us right now, and in addition if the deficit vanished, they would oppose spending any more money on anything, balanced budget or no.

    Besides, when they tell me that they have to keep their budgets paid off each month, I remind them that they have 20 or 30 year mortgages they can’t afford to pay off in cash right now, so that’s huge debt; most have car payments that they owe another 2 to 5 years on, more long term debt; credit card debts; and they work for companies which has taken out mortgages on their business properties; which borrow money on long-term payback for expansions and equipment; and often use short term rotating loans for payroll because they have to wait for current accounts to settle.

    In other words, most people who say they have to balance their budgets each month are full of shit.

  63. 63
    Martin says:

    I would like to point out that we could probably trim a fair bit of cost from government if the wingnuts would stop fucking bombing, crashing planes into, and mailing fake anthrax to public offices.

  64. 64
    General Stuck says:


    Nah gonna happen. Somebody might mention religion and produce blog vapors. Personally, I think we are about to be invaded by alien spaceships without proper emission standards. Though I guess it could be baby jeevus showing us who’s boss/scratches head

  65. 65
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Nate: Thanks, Nate. This is exactly the kind of thing I was hoping someone could provide.

    Thanks also to @Martin: and @Alex S.:

    I’d thank others who responded, but that would send me into moderation :-)

  66. 66
    Bob Loblaw says:


    Perhaps the most worrisome sign for the GOP is what they’ve let slip right past them. Yes, the political Brangelina of our times, the Clintons, have pulled a fast one on their old rivals yet again. While Republicans have trained all their fire on Barack Obama-plastering his face on magazine covers, accusing him of coddling terrorists, and hating America-they have allowed their far more dexterous political opponents to rebuild their standing.

    Um, what? Did we just time warp back to 2003 or something? No, seriously, what?


    I think it’s interesting to consider the possibility that Obama is just one of those people who takes a really long time to get comfortable with new faces/voices, and prefers to retreat to people he already knows. He doesn’t believe in “shakeups,” nor should he, necessarily in the main.

  67. 67
    ET says:

    @Bob Loblaw: I know. I didn’t agree but I did think it was written well.

    I do think some in the press liked the Clinton years reporting-wise because it was so juicy and the desire for them to come back is hoping to bring the drama back because it was more fun.

  68. 68
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Bob Loblaw: Because, you know, they really need to be concerned about the standing of two folks who will never actually be running for office again…at least not for 5 years…if ever.

  69. 69
    General Stuck says:


    Yes, but I don’t think the apparent world wide proximity in time and size of these kills, as well as both fish and bird, is something normal.

  70. 70
    ed drone says:

    I had a friend who made lots more than I did at the time, and one day, he said, “You know, after buying food, and housing, and the car, and clothes, there’s not much to live on.”

    I said, “If you’re buying food, clothes, housing and the car — you are living!


  71. 71
    ed drone says:


    Sometimes an event (or story, as in “True Grit”) can resonate so much with the people of the time that only a cultural artifact, such as a hymn or prayer, can express it.

    To wit:

    The Corliss Engine

    [Tune: Flying Cloud]

    In eighteen-seventy and six, the U. S. held a fair
    To celebrate one hundred years, and half the world was there.
    There were halls for science, halls for art, and halls for history,
    But the favorite hall among them all was for technology.

    The “Hall of Industry” it was, and oh, but it was grand,
    With almost every modern kind of gadget in the land.
    Machines for home and farming, manufactury and more,
    All run by one great engine that stood towering on the floor.

    The “Corliss Engine” it was called, an engine from a dream,
    With giant walking beams and wheels, the whole thing run by steam.
    A story and a half, at least, as big as all get-out,
    The most majestic thing there in that hall, without a doubt.

    In ceremony opening day, old U. S. Grant himself
    Turned the crank to start it up: “Here’s to the country’s health!”
    And all that summer long the people came to stop and stare
    At that one engine making power for all exhibits there.

    The country at the time was just embarking on a quest
    Of western movement, destiny, and empire manifest.
    The Civil War long over, the nation again whole,
    And moving out into the world, to find itself a role.

    And as the summer rolled along, the time did take its toll,
    As Grant’s administration was soon numbered in the roll
    Of scandal, rumor, sad disgrace, and shameful thievery;
    One more public uproar in a roaring century.

    As closing day at last came on, the rumor went around
    That the man who opened up the show would come to close it down.
    A great crowd gathered there to see if Grant would brave disgrace,
    And if he’d have the gumption just to dare to show his face.

    Instead, at six, a workman came to shut off all the steam.
    The Corliss Engine, working still, as if in drowsy dream,
    Slowed and stopped and came to rest, to turn the shafts no more,
    As a thousand people stood in awe on that exhibit floor.

    A hush then fell upon the crowd, and no one spoke a word,
    A silence just as reverent as any church has heard.
    Then one lone voice began to sing, and others joined along,
    Till from a thousand throats there came the notes of this one song:

    [Tune: Old 100]

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow
    Praise Him all creatures here below.
    Praise Him above you Heavenly Host,
    Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

    ©1992, Bob Clayton & Ed Drone

    This is based on an incident at the close of the Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, PA, 1876. It’s all true, and is just the kind of thing the Coens would put into a film, I’m thinking.


  72. 72
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @ET: no drama obama is boring. we need some scorned lovers running to various outlets to scream about being jilted by bubba.

    recently CNN interviewed one of tiger woods mistresses and she was furious – furious – that he was cheating on her. It was just tooooo funny.

  73. 73
    licensed to kill time says:

    @ed drone:

    What he prolly meant to say was “there’s not much left to live it up on”. ♪♫ tiny violin ♪♫

  74. 74
    NR says:

    @NobodySpecial: This appointment proves that Obama has learned absolutely nothing from the 2010 elections. A bankster as chief of staff? I’d be hard pressed to think of a stupider move he could have made.

    At the rate he’s going, Obama had better pray that the Republicans run the Palin/Bachmann ticket in 2012, because that will be his only hope for re-election.

  75. 75
    Geeno says:

    @Legalize: Actually, I believe that’s the contrapositive.

    * statement: if p then q
    * converse: if q then p
    * inverse: if not p then not q
    * contrapositive: if not q then not p

  76. 76
    Nick says:


    This appointment proves that Obama has learned absolutely nothing from the 2010 elections. A bankster as chief of staff? I’d be hard pressed to think of a stupider move he could have made.

    too bad he didn’t inquire with progressive heroes like Howard Dean and Robert Reich on Daley before he appointed him, right?

  77. 77
    lacp says:

    @Nick: I’m really trying to work up any interest, let alone indignation, in this appointment. For all I care, the President could have picked the Nazi cross-dresser from Ohio. Who gives a shit who the CoS is?

  78. 78
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @NR: funny, I never heard the far left whine over the fact that John Edwards worked for a hedge fund that made money foreclosing on homes in New Orleans.

  79. 79
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @Nick: Dean and Reich are obviously bankster sellouts for their enthusiastic endorsement of Daley. In fact, Dean and Reich are worst than Cheney and Bush!

  80. 80
    Jamie says:

    When a present day right winger says he thinks X, it really means he believes X. There is no cross checking with reality in the process

  81. 81
    Nick says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff):

    I never heard the far left whine over the fact that John Edwards worked for a hedge fund that made money foreclosing on homes in New Orleans.

    but but but he said there were two Americas and John Edwards would never deceive anybody.

  82. 82
    mclaren says:

    Permit me to demur, John Cole. I think that “a joint plan by the White House and congressional Republicans to trim the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years” would be absolutely wonderful. And here’s how we do it:

    Cut U.S. military expenditures by 80%.



    There’s your deficit — gone. Slice a trillion dollars from our bloated pointless wasted 1.3 trillion dollar annual military budget, and we’re back on the road to fiscal soundness. No more deficit problems.

    I think that’s a marvelous idea. Don’t you?

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