Further to The Sullivan File

Ah, Andrew.

Sullivan is at it again.

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I don’t often write about Andrew Sullivan, in part because the two parts of his work I dislike the most — his propensity for “man on a horse” hero-worship and his difficulties with science and numbers — are both dealt with more than capably by others, including front pagers here.

On the affirmative side, I keep quiet about him in part because he’s been right on some big things, at times when a lot of others weren’t — I’m thinking particularly of his torture posts.

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But he’s got an item up now that got to me, an awesome mix of intellectual laziness and simple wrongness contained within just four words of a one-paragraph long piece.  Of the possibility of revolt at the hostage ransom to be paid to those who hate America, he writes (under the headline “Pelosi’s Pique”):

The threat not to bring the tax cut deal to the floor of the House seems particularly dumb to me…this is presumably a vent rather than a determined strategy for obstruction. At least I hope so. Between Pelosi and McCain, [emphasis added] the sheer difficulty of getting anything done in this polarized climate, even stuff supported by hefty margins among the public, is beyond depressing.

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What gravels me most, is (a) the insult to Pelosi by comparing her to McCain in any way and (b) the awesome stupidity of the suggestion that it is Pelosi (or the House Democrats) who are to blame for gridlock.

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On the McCain juxtaposition:

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Recall that the senior Senator from Arizona has an almost impossibly thin legislative record for someone who has been in Congress for 28 years.

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Pelosi on the other hand?  Here’s a tally of the major legislation passed in the 111th Congress.  Every one of those bills was passed under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, of course; nearly every one was opposed and obstructed by that waste of valuable Congressional stationery, John McCain.  He’s been great for his Indian gaming friends, but he has stood by as the GOP-selected activist Supremes gutted his signature (shared) accomplishment:  the McCain Feingold campaign finance law.

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Sullivan, of course, knows this.  I’m assuming he’s pissed at McCain for his grotesque anti-gay bigotry on DADT.  I am too.  But that ain’t Pelosi’s fault.

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And all that frames the obvious second point.  The Democrats have been trying hard, as we all know, actually to get things done.  They may not have been nearly as effective as we would like, but that is not, in the end, really their/our fault.  As noted today right here, that outcome is baked into the difference of aims and incentives between the Grotesque Old Party and that circular firing squad in which I am proud to be a member.

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And of all the possible legislators to pick on, a leader of the House of Representatives who whipped her caucus into vote after vote on legislation known to be doomed in the McCain-infested Senate has to be the last one you’d choose.  For FSM’s sake:  Pelosi’s House passed the extension of the Bush middle class tax cuts already.  Oy.

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I’m just venting.  Everyone reading this knows all of what I’ve just said.  But when someone like Sullivan, who has in fact mostly figured out that  that everytime the GOP wins something these days, America loses, can’t break that  “both sides do it” b.s. reflex it gives you a sense of how wired for stupid our political discourse is.

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Rule number one:  Don’t give cover to the folks who are holding you, Andrew — and all the rest of us — as hostages.

Images:  Jean Louis Théodore Géricault, The Wounded Cuirassier, 1814.

Édouard Manet, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, 1867. (added, because I just love this painting.)








Change You Can Believe In

After banning earmarks and solving the deficit, Republicans in the House are going to ban symbolic resolutions, which by itself will lower the unemployment rate by at least a couple of percentage points.

(Via Ezra Klein, who is wrong about these resolutions – they don’t make any difference in the House, which is a pretty streamlined operation compared to the tea cooling saucer/constipated old lady that is your United States Senate.)








Paradox My Ass

Here’s Ed Kilgore’s latest, Will Republicans Cut Medicare? A Paradox. I’ll save you the pain of reading the piece: After many strokes, Kilgore concludes that no, the Republicans will cut Medicaid instead.

Why is this even up for debate? The core of Republican support in this country is old, and they love Medicare. And every Republican politician at the state and county level has been bitching about Medicaid for years. Rick Perry even wants to drop out of Medicaid entirely.

To anyone who’s been paying attention to what Republicans actually say, there’s no paradox here. Cutting even an obvious waste like Medicare Advantage is impossible for today’s Republicans, who are completely beholden to their aging, white base. It’s only when you buy into a villager notion of the Republican party as stalwarts of fiscal restraint — a notion that a trillion dollars of deficit has yet to dispel — that you can gin up a paradox.

Speaking of paradoxes, Kilgore blogs at another site called “The Democratic Strategist”, a term that’s on the verge of being an oxymoron, or at least an anachronism.

(via Sully, of course)








Portrait of a Grifter as a Young Candidate

SarahPAC raised $1.2 million by spending $1 million on fundraising expenses and consultants. Since she can’t raise serious cash, and since she must fly everywhere in a private jet, her endorsees end up paying big bills:

[Georgia candidate for Governor] Handel paid nearly $100,000 to bring Palin to an August rally ahead of a crucial runoff in the race. According to newly filed campaign reports with the state Elections Commission, Handel’s campaign paid $92,000 to an Ohio-based air charter to fly Palin to the Aug. 9 rally. The campaign also paid $13,000 to rent space at a local hotel to house the event. Handel narrowly lost the GOP nomination to Nathan Deal on Aug. 10.

The only logical conclusion is that we need this kind of fiscal prowess in DC to help us cut the deficit.








Just a Start

The stepped-up deportation plan that’s supposed to target criminal immigrants is working overtime to deport any illegal immigrant found:

Last year, nearly 390,000 illegal immigrants were removed. Critics of the ongoing deportation program say the numbers tell only part of the story. Despite the focus on violent criminals, the majority of the removals handled by ICE still are noncriminals or immigrants accused of lesser infractions such as traffic violations and misdemeanors.

Just 16 percent of immigrants removed this fiscal year are the top-priority, violent criminals known as “Level 1” immigrants, according to data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

More than 50 percent of those removed this fiscal year are considered noncriminal.

And we’re sinking $600 million into border security.

So is this bill — along with the 1,200 National Guardsmen Obama sent to the border at the beginning of the month — enough to convince holdouts that the border is secure enough to talk reform? Not likely. Sen. John McCain, for one, has asked for $2 billion and 6,000 additional Border Patrol agents, a far cry from what was passed. Though he added himself as a co-sponsor to the bill, he said the measure is “just a start.”

The budget for all this enforcement, just like the war budget, doesn’t count against the deficit, so no worries about postponing immigration reform indefinitely while we deport every illegal immigrant who’s ever talked to a cop and station Border Patrol agents hip-to-hip from San Diego to Brownsville.