Kristol to Americans: You lazy moochers have it too good

I am a firm believer in the Heritage Uncertainty Principle of True Conservative Healthcare Reform Plans:

Conservative health-care-policy ideas reside in an uncertain state of quasi-existence. You can describe the policies in the abstract, sometimes even in detail, but any attempt to reproduce them in physical form will cause such proposals to disappear instantly. It’s not so much an issue of “hypocrisy,” as Klein frames it, as a deeper metaphysical question of whether conservative health-care policies actually exist.

The question should be posed to better-trained philosophical minds than my own. I would posit that conservative health-care policies do not exist in any real form. Call it the “Heritage Uncertainty Principle.”

P-Care was a recent iteration of such a principle as the primary financing mechanism was immediately clawed back as soon as liberal wonks started asking obvious questions (why yes, it would be a massive tax hike on middle class Americans AND massively disruptive to the market).

The most recent iteration of conservative “health insurance reform” proposals is from Always Wrong Kristol et al.  The diagnosis of the problem is simple — Americans, or at least non-rich Americans, have it too easy and risk is too insulated.  We must suffer more.  And TAX CREDITS:
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Work the Referee


Following DPM’s post below on Michael Shear’s ACA website woes = Katrina piece, let me urge y’all to let Mr. Shear know directly of the problems you find in the piece.

Click on the link just below his bio to email him.  Again, please do so firmly, but politely.  The goal is to get better work out of Mr. Shear in the future, not to leave him in a “f**k the hippies” state of rage.

What I told him, more or less, is that most of his piece ain’t bad — he does note, albeit not strongly enough for my taste, that a crappy website aint’t a physical disaster, and that Republicans have set obstacles in the way of fixing Obamacare, a level of obstruction that Bush never had to deal with. The biggest problem lies, I said, with his lede, his framing of the story as one in which Obama’s troubles are the same as Bush’s accepts the premise of the Republican opposition. Instead, I said, he should have begun by asking if that attempted framing were true…and then the rest of the story would have followed a much more sensible (and useful) path

In other words: the goal is to get Shear from building stories on crap foundations — and if you can let him know you noticed this time in a way that suggests he can do better — that can  help.

Work the refs people. It’s part of politics these days, and if we want out side to come out on top, we gotta do so.

Image: Thomas Eakins, Taking the Count1898.

Green and Grey

I’m surprised no one has highlighted this fascinating exchange between NYT editor Bill Keller and Glenn Greenwald. It’s lengthy but worth reading, even if you utterly despise one or both men, if only for what it reveals about how two players in an evolving media complex perceive their roles — and each other’s.

A couple of highlights — Greenwald calls out the mainstream media for fetishizing balance here:

A journalist who is petrified of appearing to express any opinions will often steer clear of declarative sentences about what is true, opting instead for a cowardly and unhelpful “here’s-what-both-sides-say-and-I-won’t-resolve-the-conflicts” formulation. That rewards dishonesty on the part of political and corporate officials who know they can rely on “objective” reporters to amplify their falsehoods without challenge (i.e., reporting is reduced to “X says Y” rather than “X says Y and that’s false”).

He cites the way the Times served as cheerleader for the Iraq War and its squeamishness about calling waterboarding “torture,” etc. Much of their exchange centers on the objectivity issue, with Greenwald arguing that everyone is biased, so a pretense of impartiality is dishonest. Keller makes his best (in my opinion) counterargument here:

I believe that impartiality is a worthwhile aspiration in journalism, even if it is not perfectly achieved. I believe that in most cases it gets you closer to the truth, because it imposes a discipline of testing all assumptions, very much including your own. That discipline does not come naturally. I believe journalism that starts from a publicly declared predisposition is less likely to get to the truth, and less likely to be convincing to those who are not already convinced. (Exhibit A: Fox News.) And yes, writers are more likely to manipulate the evidence to support a declared point of view than one that is privately held, because pride is on the line.

There’s also a fairly amusing and somewhat rancorous exchange about David Brooks, in which Greenwald slams Brooks as a dishonest, elitist hack and Keller accuses Greenwald of failing to appreciate Brooks’ elevation of reason over passion.

Nothing in it will change anyone’s mind. But the discussion on media bias and impartiality is interesting, with Greenwald arguing (correctly, in my view) that mainstream outlets like the NYT have an undeclared interest in carrying establishment water and Keller countering (again correctly, in my opinion) that focus on an agenda can lead a writer to select and interpret evidence to support preconceived notions. Neither of those ideas is new, of course, but it’s interesting to read prominent purveyors of both genres discussing the phenomenon candidly.

There’s a lot of complaining around here (with some justice, I think) that every discussion about the surveillance issue devolves into a donnybrook centering on personalities, but the question of motives and intent isn’t irrelevant — not to this issue or any other that requires us to rely at least to some extent on the interpretation of material we can’t directly access or lack the expertise to evaluate properly. Ultimately, in the absence of independently verifiable facts, doesn’t it come down to integrity?

Focus group

We’re getting set to try to pass a local tax levy to build a new public school. As you know, I am a public school enthusiast but I also have a child in the local school system and we need a new school.

Because this is a majority Republican county and city I will be working with mostly Republicans to pass a tax levy. Obviously, these aren’t the Tea Party “base” of the GOP. These Republicans support “government schools” and also are mindful of the fact that tangible things like “schools” and “parks” and “libraries” don’t just form like Fruit On the Tree of Liberty and then drop to the ground to be gathered, but have to be paid for with taxes and then built. I think you would all call the levy people Chamber of Commerce Republicans, and that would be exactly what they are except they’re all in Rotary here, not the Chamber.

I have worked with some of them once before on a library levy, in 2006. In that campaign, we did what is called a “stealth levy.” A stealth levy is where one puts the tax increase on the ballot in a low-turnout election cycle and then targets supporters rather than do a big general push because the theory is a big general push only fires up the anti-tax people. The stealth levy worked, BTW, so don’t come crying to me with your “ethical” concerns on stealth. We won’t be using that this time out because there’s already been public meetings and such on finalizing the building proposal and now funding for that specific building plan will go on the ballot.

I’ll do GOTV which I like to think I am quite good at and don’t need any help with but I also will have to make some sort of “pitch” for the tax to local Democrats and, also, people who generally don’t vote. I know what I’ll say to (current) school parents, but what’s the best selling point for people who 1. no longer have children in the system, and 2. never had or never will have children in the system?

A practical hard-nosed explanation of why we need a new school? Property values? For The Children? Civic duty?

The tax isn’t that much so quit being such Dickensian misers? I voted for the senior center levy and I’m not a senior?

The general lay of the land is the public school is a big part of the town. Sporting events, music, social lives of parents, etc. It’s a rural school in a solidly working class/middle class area, so it’s not ultra-fabulous or state of the art or anything, but the (probably dicey and perhaps completely invalid) “grade” of the school is “excellent.” Also, all the employees live here and teachers (although they are union thugs) are not reviled and loathed. All three local judges are married to teachers and the mayor was a teacher before he was a mayor. Political environment would thus be: generally favorable toward public school system BUT read my lips no new taxes (knee-jerk default position).

The Lukewarm Option

I’m sorry, but WIN THE MORNING pointing out that Harry Reid has 51 of 54 Democratic senators lined up for the filibuster “nuclear option” is complete hogwash.

How this all plays out will be determined behind closed doors at Senate Democratic Caucus lunch meetings, the first of which is on Tuesday. After huddling with his membership, Reid will determine which nominee comes to the floor first to face a likely GOP filibuster.

Reid has refused to answer questions on the topic even as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues his campaign on the Senate floor to see if Reid will “keep his word” on not changing Senate rules in January — which Democrats are only too happy to turn on McConnell for promising “to work with the majority to process nominations.”

It’s still unclear whether Reid has the votes to change the rules, although the Sierra Club, Communications Workers of America and top Senate aides are confident Reid can marshal 51 members of his 54-member caucus to support at least easing the path for executive nominations such as Cabinet members.

There’s far less certainty on whether the caucus would like to tweak rules for judicial nominees as well.

Savvy readers will note this isn’t even the “nuclear option” where the filibuster is mercifully done away with, more like the “lukewarm option” where President Obama’s Cabinet nominees are the only up-or-down votes that would be affected by this.  And even this weak tea, as Greg Sargent points out, has little chance of surviving the “comity” of the Senate.

It’s simple math. Lautenberg’s passing means Dems now only have 54 votes in the Senate. (His temporary Republican replacement can’t be expected to back rules reform.) Aides who are tracking the vote count tell me that Senator Carl Levin (a leading opponent of the “nuke option” when it was ruled out at the beginning of the year, leading to the watered down bipartisan filibuster reform compromise) is all but certain to oppose any rules change by simple majority. Senators Patrick Leahy and Mark Pryor remain question marks. And Senator Jack Reed is a Maybe.

If Dems lose those four votes, that would bring them down to 50. And, aides note, that would mean Biden’s tie-breaking vote would be required to get back up to the 51 required for a simple Senate majority. That’s an awfully thin margin for error.

Which means every single Dem other than Levin, Leahy, Pryor, and Reed could blow it.  (Yes, I’m looking directly at you, Joe Manchin, Mark Begich, Mary Landrieu, etc.)   The bottom line is we’ve heard all this before, and each and every time Harry Reid and the Dems gleefully blow it because they perversely benefit from the Senate’s inaction on the tough issues as much (or more at times) than the GOP does.

And no, I don’t even think Harry Reid and the Dems can even get this done correctly.