“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
The Labor Day weekend is over marking the “official” end of Summer and vacations, not just for the kids and those who have jobs that can afford a vacation but the Government. It is time for the White house and Congressional Democrats take the lead and start acting like the the party of the people and not the corporate shills that have been cowed by the Republican extremists that are determine to do nothing but block any real move toward a real economic recovery and critical legislation that would create jobs. It is well past time for some heads to roll, especially the quartet of Rahm Emanuel, Timothy Geithner, David Axelrod and Larry Summers who have given President Obama some horrendous advice. Rahm Emanuel’s penchant for telling people to “fuck off” isn’t going to help get out the vote for the Democrats, in particular, his latest invective was directed at the UAW. It is time for President Obama to tell the Democratic leadership that their very jobs are on the line and start taking some really bold steps and get the Blue Dogs in line by telling them they will lose their coveted committee chairs if they don’t.
For your consideration and discussion here are some of the opinions of the “Not Your Usual Suspects” and some of the “Usual” ones as well. For starters I give you Michael Moore’s rant from yesterday about Rahm’s “f-bombs” and a history of the UAW, Happy Fuckin’ Labor Day!
Dear Rahm Emanuel:
Happy Fuckin’ Labor Day! I read this week that – according to a new book by Steven Rattner, your administration’s former “Car Czar” – during White House meetings about how to save the tens of thousands of jobs that would be lost if GM and Chrysler collapsed, your response was, “Fuck the UAW!”
Now, I can’t believe you actually said that. Maybe Rattner got confused because you drop a lot of F-bombs, or maybe your assistant was trying to order lunch and you said (to Rattner) “Fuck you” and then to your assistant “A&W, no fries.”
Or maybe you did mean Fuck the UAW. If so, let me give you a little fucking lesson (a lesson I happen to know because my fucking uncle was in the sit-down strike that founded the fucking UAW).
Before there were unions, there was no middle class. Working people didn’t get to send their kids to college, few were able to own their own fucking home, nobody could take a fucking day off for a funeral or a sick day or they might lose their fucking job.
Then working people organized themselves into unions. The bosses and the companies fucking hated that. In fact, they were often overheard to say, “Fuck the UAW!!!” That’s because the UAW had beaten one of the world’s biggest industrial corporations when they won their battle on February 11, 1937, 44 days after they’d taken over the GM factories in Flint. Inspired by their victory, workers struck almost every other fucking industry, and union after union was born. Had World War II not begun and had FDR not died, there would have been an economic revolution that would have given everyone – everyone – a fucking decent life.
Jacob Weisberg: Obama’s Moral Cowardice
The president needs to find his principles.
Barack Obama‘s redecoration of the Oval Office includes a nice personal touch: a carpet ringed with favorite quotations from Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, both Presidents Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr. The King quote, in particular, has become a kind of emblem for him: “The arc of the moral Universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” For all the carping about his every move, the only big problem with the Obama presidency is the gap between what’s written on his rug, and what’s under it-the distance between the president’s veneration of moral leadership past and his failure, so far, to exhibit much of it in the present.
Obama has had numerous chances to assert leadership on values questions this summer: Arizona’s crude anti-immigrant law, the battle over Prop 8 and gay marriage, and the backlash against what Fox News persists in calling the “Ground Zero mosque.” These battles raise fundamental questions of national identity, liberty, and individual rights. When Lindsey Graham argues for rewriting the Constitution to eliminate the birthright-citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, or Newt Gingrich proposes a Saudi standard for the free exercise of religion, they’re taking positions at odds with America’s basic ideals. But Obama’s instinctive caution has steered him away from casting these questions as moral or civil-rights issues. On none of them has he shown anything resembling courage.
The thing about Britain is that their debate is closer to the real meat and potatoes of what this argument is all about. Ours is frustratingly diverted into “Like or Dislike Obama” or “Is the Tea Party Racist” and other tangential questions.
Britain makes it clear: it’s really about social democracy vs. neoliberalism.
It is important that [Open Left] understand this. This is the debate that is barely allowed to be mentioned on our side of the pond but it’s the crucial distinction.
When Paul Krugman argues for Keynesianism he’s taking the social democratic side of this argument. But he’s not allowed to say so, or at least not willing.
The mistake of our side in the past period was in not understanding how strongly our opponents believed in the other side of this argument. It was indeed their central rationale. It wasn’t “just politics”.
When Barack Obama made his famous remarks about Ronald Reagan being transformational, it was misinterpreted as being political, an attempt to reach out to the other side. It actually was, as some feared, philosophical. It really did mean, sincerely, that except around the edges, he thought that Reaganism-Thatcherism was irreversible. Just as Bill Clinton does, just as Tony Blair does.
The Third-Wayers are serious about this. Seriously deluded, perhaps, but dead serious. There was never an attempt to triangulate the “independent center”, those who still believed in Reaganism but were distressed by the partisan cultural meanness. That was sincere. Those who were played were the Democratic base. They would have to be satisfied with corporate-style knockoffs of social-democratic ideas (health care being the most obvious example). Labor reformers would have to be mollified with “we don’t have 60 votes”. And symbolic gestures devoid of content like inviting Pete Seeger to the White House.
Why didn’t this work? Why are the Dems SO wounded by a bad economy? A better economy was absolutely crucial to the Third Way plan. They didn’t think it would get this bad. If it hadn’t gotten this bad, they might have been able to pull it off. People would be working, the craziness wouldn’t have gained so much traction, people would have been able to laugh at Sarah Palin, Dems would have been fat and happy. But that way depended on bubble economics, which the neolibs mistaken thought was permanent. They may not even believe they depend on bubble economics, they may even delude themselves that they truly stand in the middle. But when push comes to shove, they never move to the left.
(emphasis by De Groot)
David Sirota; What a Second Stimulus Should and Shouldn’t Look Like
Recounting the findings of a new study by the Keystone Research Center, the Denver Business Journal reports that “the unemployment rate would approach 16 percent nationally — more than 6 percentage points higher than the current jobless rate — if not for the federal stimulus program.” This comports with data released earlier by the Congressional Budget Office and with the opinions of both liberal and ultra-conservative economists.
Such consensus should end the debate about whether or not Congress should pass another stimulus bill. It should – the only debate should be over the shape of that stimulus bill, and even that shouldn’t be up for debate, though, unfortunately, it most certainly is.
From both liberal and conservative economists – as well as from history – we know that direct government spending on things like infrastructure and education investment is a good way to prime the economy in the short term and the long term. So is spending on stuff like unemployment benefits and food stamps, which puts money into the hands of those who will spend it immediately on necessities. And, of course, we know from polls that spending on such priorities is far more politically/electorally popular than devoting more money to corporate tax cuts or to deficit reduction.
Thanks to Heather at Crooks & Liars for pointing out Washington Monthly article by Steve Benen The Bogus Narrative That Only Gets More Ubiquitous that points out the nonsense: Lindsey Graham Wants Obama to Come ‘Back to the Middle’ He Never Left on Sunday’s [“Meet the Press”
Lindsey Graham apparently thinks that President Obama hasn’t reached out to Republicans quite enough and that him “governing from the left” is the source of his woes and those of Democrats this midterm election. Former C&L contributor Steve Benen broke down this nonsense much better than I am capable of over at his blog at the Washington Monthly.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) thinks he knows exactly what would improve President Obama’s political fortunes. Take a wild guess what he suggests.
“The only way the president could possibly survive is come back to the middle,” Graham said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” […]
Graham accused Obama as running as a centrist but governing “from the left,” acquiescing to the politics and agenda of the House.
The South Carolinian added that the White House’s agenda has been the “most liberal agenda of modern times.”
To prove his point, Graham noted that the administration has prepared to try terrorists in criminal courts on American soil. Of course, the Bush/Cheney administration did the exact same thing, without complaint from Republicans like Graham, but it’s “tone-deaf” liberalism now because, well, Graham says so. He added that the president is “certainly tone deaf on the economy,” though he didn’t say why.
It’s an absolute, guaranteed, mortal lock that if Republicans make huge gains in the midterms, as seems likely, Graham’s rhetoric will be the accepted conventional wisdom, if it isn’t already. Pundits, politicians, and the establishment in general will simply accept as fact that Dems would have fared far better if only they hadn’t governed “from the left.” Obama, we’ll hear, has no choice but to go “to the middle.”
And every time this nonsense is repeated, an angel will lose its wings. […]
The conventional wisdom will be that liberalism did Democrats in, despite all evidence to the contrary, and despite the fact that liberals were right, especially about the economy. And we’ll be reminded again as to why the accepted political truths are often neither conventional nor wise.
The sorry fact here is that as Steve acknowledges, I think this is already the Villagers’ conventional wisdom. I expect as he does for it to get worse if the Republicans get back either the House or the Senate.
Transcript via NBC below the fold.
Gregory: Lindsey President Obama says the economy is doing well but not well enough
Graham: now is not the time to raise taxes –
now is the time to cut taxes!
Gregory: what coincidence
Graham: also we need to eliminate the stimulus
and stop giving people health care
Gregory: so will you repeal the big health care bill or not
Graham: that’s not the point – why aren’t Democrats campaigning on it?
Gregory: why don’t you?
Graham: Obama is a communist
Gregory: if Republicans are so concerned about
the debt why cut taxes?
Graham: Rich people need lower taxes – some of them are having to install aquariums for less $500,000 – it’s so sad
Gregory: suppose Obama agreed to everything you want – would that make you happy?
Graham: I hope he does – but no
Gregory: why do you hate Obama so much
Graham: he raised the debt
Gregory: but your plans would make it worse
Graham: he’s governed from the left ditch
Gregory: so will you win in 2010?
Graham: if we call Obama a debt-raising sleazy socialist we win
Gregory: awesome – so you will take the House
Graham: of course – because people hate that marxist Obama
Gregory: but you obstructed Obama at every turn
Graham: right – therefore everything is his fault
Gregory: oh that’s clever
Graham: also he’s weak on terror
Gregory: but Tea Partiers are crazy
Graham: sure but we can agree on great ideas like a Constitutional amendment to ban all spending
Gregory: but you’re too liberal for most conservatives though – and you’re a little nuts
Graham: we need a Contract On America
Gregory: didn’t we have that from 2001-2009?
Graham: we are going show America a great coalition of psychotic tea partiers and closeted Republicans before we become Grease
Gregory: I love Travolta
Graham: oh me too
Gregory: experts say we should not have invaded Iraq
Graham: Saddam violated UN resolutions so
we had to attack
Gregory: I see
Graham: he was not a good citizen
Gregory: but most people think it was a mistake
Graham: sure we invaded Iraq by mistake but history will judge it was brilliant idea by getting al qaeda to go into a country they never were so they could be beaten and go back to Afghanistan
Gregory: can we withdraw from Afghanistan
Graham: Obama shouldn’t have said we withdraw regardless of conditions on the ground
Gregory: I should let my viewers know you are lying right now
Graham: ok dancing dave you got me