July 31st, 2011

VDB Goes There: Primary The President

by Philip Baruth

Yes, VDB goes there, in an interview with WAMC: seconding Bernie’s call for a Democratic primary to make Democratic concerns once again relevant to our current Democratic President. You can listen to it here. And here’s a post back from the last hostage negotiation, making amply clear where we were headed, when it looked like the Bush Tax Cuts were about to become official Democratic policy. Again: Basta.

July 29th, 2011

What’s Horribly Wrong With This Picture? (Now With Clueless White House Update!)

by Philip Baruth

So let VDB get this straight. The Boehner plan, which we all hoped against hope would fail, has in fact now failed. Which leaves Democrats a clear opening to do what we have all hoped against hope they would do . . . introduce a variant of the Boehner plan? Last we counted, Democrats controlled both the White House and the Senate, and the GOP majority in the House was not overwhelming. So someone explain, if you would: How did we get into the politically vertiginous situation where all plans represent some genetic offshoot of the House Republican plan, if not because the President and the Senate prefer said offshoot? Take a look at that series of headlines again, and tell VDB the wheel isn’t rigged.

Clueless White House Update, 8:01 pm:

The TPMDC headline says it all, with the closest thing to a straight face they could manage: “White House Calls On The Social Media Grassroots To Push Debt Ceiling Deal.”

If you need a case in point, demonstrating the Obama administration’s disdain for the Left, and its maddening certainty as to the Left’s continuing support, here it is in a nutshell. After capitulating utterly, and casting off in turn everything that progressive voters care about in this defining negotiation with the GOP, from slashing entitlements to offering a path to re-continue the Bush tax cuts, the President goes to the netroots in his hour of need as a fellow traveler.

What is this crucial tweet he and his media-savvy folks so want retweeted? “The time for putting party first is over. If you want to see a bipartisan #compromise, let Congress know. Call. Email. Tweet.”

Forget that “compromise” has been defined for months as Democrats accepting entitlement reform, and the GOP accepting modest new tax revenues. Forget that “compromise” now includes nothing from the Republican side, other than agreeing to pay US debt. Forget that every single thing that Barack Obama wanted from the GOP he did not get. Forget that Obama clearly came to the situation with the pre-conceived plan of using the GOP threat of default to force his own party into finally agreeing to less generous retirement benefits. This in order to run as a successful lite-Republican candidate, the President who defended the Bush tax cuts and sweet talked those balky Democrats into seeing reason on Social Security.

No, what “social media grassroots” are supposed to push, in a blaze of cyber-indignation, is a mildly more acceptable version of the Republicans’ own bill, one that will smooth Obama’s path to re-election, but otherwise offer absolutely nothing to progressives other than pain and suffering and humiliation.

This is where and how Barack Obama lost his army, folks.

Brings to mind an OFA organizational meeting during the health care debate, circa 2009. The room at a cafe in Burlington was packed; people were fired up. But what were we asked to go door-to-door with?

A “manifesto” that consisted of the most homogenized health care talking points ever conceived, bullet points like “The President insists that any health care plan must cover more Americans, and make health care more affordable.” No talk of universality; no talk of a public option. It was the least we could have expected presented as the most, with a straight face and all the rhetoric of change and urgency intact. The President had to be ceded maximum leverage by his troops, and therefore our marching orders were entirely content-free. Any attempts to add heft to the message were rebuffed.

And times haven’t changed.

Well, let VDB tell you one thing that’s true about the netroots: they got good noses. Give them a real fight, and take a real position, and they will engage. But they ain’t about to take up arms to defend vanilla custard.

And poorly made GOP vanilla custard at that.

July 29th, 2011

House GOP Love Them Some Ben Affleck, Lose All Tasteful Independents In Process

by Philip Baruth

The Leftosphere has been up in arms over the last several days that House Republicans chose to rally the troops with a casually violent clip from Ben Affleck’s The Town, a clip including the lines: “I need your help. I can’t tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later. And we’re going to hurt some people.” The point, for the outraged, was that the GOP apparently sees the Boehner debt-ceiling vote as a way to hurt some people. To which VDB says: tell us something we didn’t know. The real outrage, so far as we’re concerned? That the GOP picked a Ben Affleck film at all. These would-be hard men didn’t see Daredevil? It’s shameful, and VDB will remember in November, John Boehner.

July 25th, 2011

Like Zebra Mussels, GOP Finally Completes Debt-Ceiling Takeover Of All Branches Of Government, With The Single Exception Of The Office Of One Bernard Sanders

by Philip Baruth

Is anyone surprised that the gripping conclusion of the long apocalyptic debt-ceiling showdown will apparently involve both sides pushing a Republican plan for taxes, spending and debt? And this long before we even get to the budget, where the GOP actually holds real cards? Bernie is right as rain, friends: this is what comes of a President with no Primary opposition, a man who still believes that the Left loves him so much that it will eat any swill he casts our way.

Basta. Enough.

Let’s get us an Anthony Weiner without a Twitter problem, get him or her on the ballot, and let’s make ourselves relevant again. Oh, and let’s do stop donating to this content-free re-election campaign, until such time as the President sees fit to map out a set of actual reasons for re-election. VDB has had enough of this whole rigged system. Sorry to be the curmudgeon today. Here are some funny cartoons.

July 21st, 2011

Santorum Invites Elderly Iowans to Peruse Google In Search of “Disgusting, Sexually Explicit” Hotness, In Exchange For Money

by Philip Baruth

Desperation will make a flailing Presidential candidate do bad things, things no man/woman can do and remain a man/woman. These things, rather, slowly turn the man/woman into a beast. Take Rick Santorum. Flat-lining in the polls, fundraising in the six-figure range, Brother Rick has taken now to fundraising off the infamous Dan Savage Google-bombing of Santorum’s own last name (just Google it if this is somehow, against all odds, news to you).

Writes Santorum, in part: “Remember this is not the first time Savage has attacked us on our stance of supporting American values. Savage and his perverted sense of humor is the reason why my children cannot Google their father’s name.”

Now, Santorum is no fool. He knows that many of his elderly fundraising marks have never seen the definition of “Santorum” elevated to infamy by Savage. And he also knows that mentioning, even obliquely, that his children “cannot Google their father’s name” (which admittedly has a nice biblical ring to it) will cause a significant chunk of easily outraged, Internet-challenged GOPers to finally make their way to Savage’s masterpiece.

So — stay with VDB here — Santorum has now clearly come around to the conclusion that sharing Savage’s definition with as many people as possible is the only path to the White House. Will it work? Not in a million freaking years. Does it demonstrate that Santorum will do just about anything in his unattractive leap for Presidential power?

Yes, Lord.

What happened to Santorum’s divine direction, his much-touted clarity of heart and purpose? Lost in what can only be called the frothy mix of Presidential politics.

July 20th, 2011

Bachmann’s Ability To Function Effectively Will Never Affect Her Ability to Function Effectively, In Case You Thought It Might

by Philip Baruth

When confronted yesterday about reports that she suffers from crippling migraines, Presidential contender Michelle Bachmann delivered a statement, which ran in part: “I have prescribed medication that I take on occasion whenever symptoms arise and they keep my migraines under control. But I’d like to be abundantly clear: My ability to function effectively will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief.” Do VDB a favor: read that last sentence again, which Time’s Michael Crowley transcribed verbatim. How long, Lord? How long with these intellectually challenged yet telegenic Republican woman with the annoying accents?

July 17th, 2011

Shumlin Half-Hearts Scott Walker

by Philip Baruth

Just ran across a Politico piece slugged “Governors Gag Over D.C. Dysfunction,” which stopped us because it’s the lead piece and features a photo of Governor Shumlin, looking displeased with business as usual in Washington. Here’s the money quote, Shumlin at the National Governors Association meeting in Salt Lake City:

“The contrast between what the 50 governors are doing, putting aside partisan politics as much as they can to try to get results, and what is happening in Washington, has probably never been more stark in our national history. Whether it’s the Vermont approach, or the New Jersey, Wisconsin or Florida approach, we’re getting results. I don’t agree with some of the things they’re getting done in the states I just mentioned, but they’re trying to solve real problems.”

The reporter notes that Shumlin was clearly “making a point to list states with Republican Governors,” as a nod to bipartisanship, but Wisconsin? Scott Walker gets results, that’s the bipartisan point?

Maybe it’s just VDB, but that’s crossing the line.

Look, successful politicians stretch their parties, to win respect from other parties and from the media at large. Shumlin’s no different than Dean or Clinton in this regard, and like those two world-class small-state Governors, Shumlin clearly has leadership at the national level in his sights. So no one’s shocked, shocked, shocked to see a little triangulation now and again.

But again, touting Scott Walker as just another results-oriented go-getter is a bridge too far. A bridge they’ve privatized, in order to fire all the Union workers, if you take our point.

July 17th, 2011

Palin Wins The Future (In The Sense of Failing, Exciting Contempt, and then Claiming Additional Martyrdom Points)

by Philip Baruth

A very funny piece in the Atlantic about Sarah Palin’s new feature documentary, The Undefeated, which opened to less than massive crowds. Reporter Conor Friedersdorf notes that in Orange County — where both Reagan and Bush Sr. kicked off their Presidential campaigns — he was alone in the theater except for a lone couple looking to grope one another in an out of the way place: “Shortly before the end of the film, a young couple entered, walked to the back row, started making out, then interrupted their session and left (spoiler alert) as Andrew Breitbart, who made one of several guest appearances, started talking about eunuchs. Then I was alone again, working.” Oscar alert, people. Actually, set wristwatches: how long before Sarah Pac begins touting the stories about empty theaters as evidence of continued media pile-on? Check time stamp on this piece; add four hours. She’s nothing if not game.

July 16th, 2011

Presented Without Comment, Almost

by Philip Baruth

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, calling for the phase-out of nuclear power in his country: “Through my experience of the March 11 accident, I came to realize the risk of nuclear energy is too high. It involves technology that cannot be controlled according to our conventional concept of safety.” This from a nation where the Administration isn’t just in bed with the nuclear industry — they’re actually married. All but impossible to imagine the amount of pain and hurt that could cause that sort of abrupt about-face. All but impossible.

July 14th, 2011

PAPPY II: THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL; Democratic Party Vice Chairman Jake “Pappy” Perkinson Responds To The Roiling “Pappy Controversy,” With Sizzling Email

by Philip Baruth

The “Pappy Controversy” in a nutshell, for those tuning in late: Jake Perkinson, newly-elected Vice Chair of the state Democratic Party, has apparently been known as “Pappy” by close friends for years. Which was striking, as Gunsmoke-inspired nicknames go. But more to the point, what did it say that he had never shared this crucial information with VDB? Were we never “friends” at all? In today’s installment, Vice Chairman Perkinson responds with a sizzling email smackdown. You be the judge, and YOU ARE THERE. — PB

Dear VDB,

I was flattered and chagrined to be afforded such prominent positioning in the VDB debriefing of the Hamburger Summit, 2011 Edition. Especially in light of the short amount of time I was able to stay and my equally short attention span.

I think you (as well as all my other “friends”) know that I do not have a problem with hurting people’s feelings when it is incidental to an important or entertaining objective. However, I do not cotton to the gratuitous infliction of emotional distress, and so please accept my sincere apologies for my apparent oversight in failing to share with you one of my many sobriquets, which seems to have found a renewed notoriety in recent weeks. In my own defense, I believe this information was shared with you during the campaign, but that only answers to my conscious, not your wounded heart.

In order to avoid a repeat of this sad episode (rendered all the more unfortunate for casting its murky shadow on an otherwise effulgent occasion) please be aware that I am or have been also known by the following cognomens at various times among various cohorts:

[Long list of embarrassing nicknames here deleted, for national security purposes — PB]

Even this list is not complete as I have omitted some nicknames that are too hurtful to risk revival, and I am sure there are others I have forgotten.

Finally, as to the contention that your benighted attitude towards the common usage of Pappy is an efficacious measure of friendship or lack thereof, I must disagree. Even assuming your logic stands on its own, it cannot be judged alone. And so I submit that the proof of our friendship is irrefutably established by the fact that you borrowed a book from me six months ago and have yet to fucking return it. If that is insufficient evidence, than none may ever lay to prove the case.

Love,

Pappy

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