Saturday, January 12, 2013

What Mattered This Week?

I'll go with something that's going to happen: a new White House Chief of Staff. Far more important than the press generally recognize, at least based on the coverage when there's turnover.

I'm not sure what I have for something that didn't matter much...I guess I think the coin is probably getting more attention than it deserves, which I've contributed to as well.

What else? What do you think mattered this week?

21 comments:

  1. Looks like Republicans are going to at least try to block 3 of Obama's 4 cabinet level picks so far. I doubt that they will be successful especially since trying to block so many will make it that much harder to block even one. The coin option has hit the main stream press this week and has Greg has been pointing out the GOP leadership is starting to walk back their hard line position on default. In addition the Democratic leadership in the Senate came out in favor of doing an end run around Congress if necessary to avoid default. Also it looks like the neo-con dream of a permanent military presence in Afghanistan went out the window. I also noted Lutzism has made a big come back, the word master himself has a big piece in the WaPo today and Jim DeMint came out in favor of Lutzism in his own op-ed about the Heritage Foundation earlier this week when he basically said all our policies are great and would be popular if we could pitch them better to the voters that keep rejecting us:

    "We must take our case to the people ourselves, and we must start where all good marketing starts: with research. Conservative policies have proved their worth time and time again. If we’re not communicating in a way that makes that clear, we are doing a disservice to our fellow citizens. We need to test the market and our message to communicate more effectively."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jim-demint-conservative-ideas-need-a-new-message/2013/01/10/9d0054e8-5b54-11e2-9fa9-5fbdc9530eb9_story.html

    Thank you Don Draper, obviously rumors of the death of the crazy have been greatly exaggerated.

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    1. I read Lutz's piece, and he specifically makes the case that re-packaging their current ideas will not be enough to turn Republican fortunes around.
      In a large part, this is because the Democrats looked over their ideas and took a bunch of good ones. In their anger at being held responsible for the economic crash, the Republican party decided to obstruct their own policies instead of supporting them. In the end, the only ideas that they currently claim are the ones that protect the very rich. This leaves them in a hole that no amount of messaging can get them out of.

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    2. I at least respect the Republicans and conservatives who say forthrightly that they should keep their guiding ideas but find some way to get better at making a persuasive case for them. Those folks aren't the problem. The problem are those who want to retain those ideas but whose only real plan is to keep them on the down-low and constantly obfuscate -- those are the Republicans and conservatives who are actually creating an identity crisis in the party.

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    3. (My point here I'd say jibes with JB's Salon article on "moderate" Republican enablers, who don't have forthright plans. All they want to do is stay quiet and compliant, and, when it comes to strong conservative ideas they do agree with, more often then not obfuscate.)

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  2. I'm crossing my fingers that the apparent Republican plan to block every nominee Obama selects for his 2nd term cabinet will lead to a stronger version of filibuster reform when the Senate returns. If so, that's what matters.

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  3. Two of the President's new cabinet nominees either supported or profited from policies that the President himself finds to be abhorrent.

    The National Jewish Democratic Council, in the same week, slammed Republicans for tolerating Rand Paul on the Foreign Relations committee (his crime, in case you're wondering, is that he opposes all foreign aid, including to Israel) while also supporting the President's appointment of Chuck Hagel.

    This is the same NJDC that attacked the RNC for hiring a minority staffer who's only crime was to have worked for Ron Paul.

    I guess if you can't stop Republicans from cynically using Israel against you, you might as well join them.

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    1. Does Hagel want to end aid to Israel? That would surprise me.

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    2. Neil, Hagel was critical of Israel's use of force during their most recent conflict with Lebanon. Regarding our strategic alliance with Israel, he said: "Our relationship with Israel is special and historic... But it need not and cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an irresponsible and dangerous false choice."

      Hagel also said: "The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people [in Washington]." So he's controversial, to say the least, among the Israel lobby. The NJDC didn't exactly give him a glowing endorsement, but said that they're cool with him because he's Obama's choice.

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    3. I don't know exactly what Hagel's position on aid to Israel is, but I'd guess that he doesn't want to end aid to Israel. (My guess is that he'd want to use leverage from the aid to steer Israeli policy in a more constructive direction with respect to Lebanon and the Palestinians.) If that's right, it would put enough distance between the Paul view and the Hagel view to justify the NJDC's different treatment.

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    4. Neil, Rand Paul's position is that foreign aid is meddling by the US, which we can’t afford anyway. It doesn't empower Israel -- in fact, it constrains her, as your comment suggests. Even Netanyahu had once said that US aid should be phased-out. So being against aid to Israel is not inherently anti-Israel, especially when you're also against aid to her historic enemies. So what’s the position of Jewish Democrats? Do they want the American taxpayer to buy arms for Israel as a way to dictate her defense policy or do they support buying arms for Israel with no strings attached? The first position is arguably more “anti-Israel” than Paul’s and the second position would seem to put Democrats to the right of Netanyahu.

      As for the National Jewish Democratic Council’s position on Hagel, I don’t think there’s any question that they’re playing a cynical political game here. As recently as 2009, he was identified as part of the “anti-Israel right.”

      http://www.njdc.org/blog/post/why_i_am_a_democrat

      And if you read their endorsement of Hagel’s nomination, it’s pretty obvious that they still despise the guy, but are willing to just go along with whatever Obama says:

      http://www.njdc.org/blog/post/hagel010713

      Of course Republicans have always played this same game, and have played it much harder than the Democrats are now. Democrats used to take offense, and rightfully insist on having an honest discussion about middle east policy. But I'm not so sure that's the party line anymore.

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  4. It looks like Obama is going to name who he wants to name to posts, daring the Senate not to confirm them. That's more confidence than he's had ever.

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  5. The deterioration of Mali and intervention of a European power.

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  6. The Third Climate Assessment draft report released for public comment on Friday. Obama already announced climate change as one of his priorities, and this make a big difference in the urgency to re-start the "conversation."

    If you missed stories about it, I've blogged about it at the url linked with my name here.

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  7. Two big PED stories this week that matter to the extent you care: the empty Hall class and reports of Lance Armstrong's imminent confession. There's a key difference between what Armstrong will likely confess and what the excluded baseball players took: legality. But there's also a key similarity: the alleged substances themselves.

    Which raises a pertinent question for the "steroid irrelevance" crowd among baseball fans: if steroids are no more helpful than amphetamines or 5-hour energy or a wakeup punch in the gut, what do you think got the sport of cycling so twisted up in its knickers over PED use?

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    1. Just to clarify, the obssession within the cycling community (and WADA in general) is the performance-enhancing benefits of increased testosterone.

      Certainly, a side effect of anabolic steroids. Amphetamines, not so much. Are they confused?

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  8. The Fed refusing to accept the possibility of a platinum-coin threat means that there's no hope of a productive bipartisan trade: legislatively close the platinum coin loophole in exchange for doing away with the debt-ceiling shadowboxing for good. The best possible resolution now is that the GOP folds on the debt ceiling in February, but that just means there will be other debt ceiling standoffs in the future.

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    1. The GOP never would have traded a debt ceiling raise for closing the platinum coin option. The only solution is the same as it was before the coin hype started: Obama will negotiate over ending/altering the defense sequester, and will treat the debt ceiling nonsense as illegitimate. If the GOP wants to propose entitlement cuts or whatever , they can do that and pay the political price. If they want to threaten the country with default they can pay the political price for that. They're going to fold or else risk breaking their coalition with Wall Street and Big Business. Obama has this. It's going to be ugly, like last time. But Obama is going to win, just like last time.

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    2. And, gaming this out, it's assumed that the norm then reverts to the debt ceiling not becoming a threat again, but we keep it as a vestigial redundant aspect of legislative procedure?

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    3. I think that the GOP party leaders will focus on the defense sequester instead. If they do go after the debt ceiling, I think they're going to get hit politically. Especially if they propose entitlement cuts. It only works for the GOP if Obama proposes the cuts first... Because then he blunts the political fall out. I think that as long as Dems keep calling them out as "hostage taking" they're going to get scared and back down.

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    4. I hope that's how it plays out too. But how do we come to a solution on doing away with the debt ceiling for good? Would Democrats do this if they regain both halves of Congress in the future?

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    5. You know, Congress can do whatever it wants. If we get rid of the debt ceiling nonsense, a GOP Congress can just create a new, different crisis in the future. I agree with Kevin Drum... The Dems need to inflict political punishment in order to ensure these guys quit playing. Maybe it'll even work out that this bullshit keeps the GOP coalition home during the 2014 midterms. Probably wishful thinking but maybe...

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