Thursday, January 6, 2011

The 112th US Congress


Read it and weep.  Our new House Leaders for 2011.  Some of them, like Buck McKeon, defy all credibility.  I wonder if there is any way to place a gag order on the House?

56 comments:

  1. Matt Taibbi's new article in Rolling Stone about John Boehner.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/matt-taibbi-the-crying-shame-of-john-boehner-20110105


    I'm loading this on my kindle now. Just heard an interview with Taibbi about it on Thom Hartmann's radio program.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I saw on the news today a photo op with Boehner and several new republicans where Boehner was rebuffed several times by a three year old girl he was trying to coax into the group shot.She declined his hand and generally trird to ignore him till her father went over and picked her up to carry into the shot.That is one smart little girl!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's quite a piece, marti. You figure most politicians are chameleons but this is a case of a leopard who can change his spots. It boggles the mind that guys like this can get away with it time and again. The TARP measure being a classic example. Nothing angered the teabaggers more than the bank bailouts, and here was "Boner" (as Bush apparently called him) soliciting Republican votes for the measure. Yet, turns right around and votes against the much more universal Stimulus Bill, equally loathed by teabaggers, despite all the benefits it provided, such as mortgage relief.

    But, reason rarely wins out in an election cycle. It is all about channeling emotion, and it seems Boehner has used those tears to great effect.

    ReplyDelete
  4. For someone who plans to trim the budget by at least $100 bil each year, the cost of repealing Health Care would add billions to the deficit,

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110107/ap_on_bi_ge/us_health_care_repeal

    It doesn't matter, "Boner" says, it is the "principal" that counts ; )

    ReplyDelete
  5. The amazing thing about that story is that knowing all of that, the republicans still elected him leader.

    Taibbi was on Countdown last night, and he and Keith Olbermann were rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of having him as a subject for the next two years. Taibbi also appears to think that Boehner will be a tea party target because the teabaggers have good leadership in Ohio.

    [His name appears to be German -- Böhner -- which would be closer in pronunciation to Boner than Bayner..... Or maybe Swedish ... Böner in Swedish is beans...]

    ReplyDelete
  6. But apparently he prefers Bayyy-ner, I guess in an attempt to avoid the unsavory connotations.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think the Bayner pronunciation would work if he was French!

    Thom Hartmann called him Boner until this week. Said he was tired of explaining.

    The inventor of the modern flute was Boehm (Bavarian), which I usually hear pronounced with a short a, not a long (bay) sound, but I think the O sound is acceptable (also spelled Bohm with two dots over the o).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theobald_Boehm

    ReplyDelete
  8. WILLIAMS: Name a program right now that we could do without.

    BOEHNER: I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.

    Here's the rest of the story,

    http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2011/01/06/boehner-cuts/

    ReplyDelete
  9. I actually heard that excerpt on the news the other night. The only thing they will be cutting is taxes for the wealthy, until they put the entire economy into a tailspin. Then they have their eyes on EPA, Education, and then medicare and Social Security (we wouldn't want any security -- would take the edge off).

    They aren't exactly off to an impressive start with the two reps taking their oath of office via a t.v., too busy to show up since they were already out there trying to rake in the dough.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Most of these guys seem not to have much in the way of economic insight. Their answers are superficial, vague, generalizations. I doubt if many of them could engage in a substinative conversation on any aspect ofthe subject. They are dedicated o free market capitalism--and yet fail to understand that free market, unfettered capitalism led to the practices which resulted in yhe creation of CDOs and the open leding practices which collapsed the financial debacle we are in now.....no jobs are going to be created by the tax cut extension--thy'll just invest their boondoggle and pay capital gains on it--25%. Now the conservative faction want to undo the regulations passed year designed to prevent a repeat of the disaster.More and more employers are buying yjeir employees health coverage to take advantage of the tax credits provided under the new health care act. They are also hiring new employees in the health care field because the Act gives them credits for doing so. It creates jobs in private health care facililities as a result.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It was bound to happen given the divisive politics the Republicans have been playing these past two years,

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110109/ap_on_re_us/us_congresswoman_shot

    but it doesn't lessen the impact of this tragedy. Curious how our new House Leader will respond to this.

    ReplyDelete
  12. They were showing a wrong picture of Gabrielle Giffords on CNN last night, and also reported her shot dead. They showed a long black haired woman, which was either a much earlier photo or simply that of another woman. Here are more recent images of Giffords in an NPR article,

    http://www.npr.org/2011/01/08/132764367/congresswoman-shot-in-arizona

    I can only hope that CNN tries to get its information together better in the future when it decides to run these "breaking news" segments.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Alas, CNN lost all credibility when it dumped Aaron Brown for Anderson Cooper (who should be a foreign correspondent) and started running those right-wing commentators like William Bennett. I have totally stopped watching them. I was pleased to see MSNBC step into the void last night, which I watched for awhile online.

    (Giffords used to have long brownish hair -- I think she cut it and went blondish in the past year or so)

    The shooting is a terrible tragedy that hopefully will serve as a wake-up call for all the hunting and military metaphors the right has become fond of. It doesn't take much to push one of these unstable young men over the edge, and they are getting bombarded with this stuff 24/7 these days. Not so sure it will impact the likes of Rush et al., though.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Unfortunately CNN is the only American-based news program we get over here, so I watch it from time to time to catch the headlines.

    I'm completely befuddled by what so many persons see in Anderson Cooper. I watched a couple of his programs when they first started and found the reporting weak and the comments shallow. Same true for all the "special reporting" they do on CNN.

    I really miss Frontline.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anderson became so popular during Katrina -- he did a great job there -- that they promoted him. But he's way out of his element. He needs to be in the field.

    It's too bad that CNN represents American' news to the rest of the world. I think they do a terrible job of covering stories. When I was traveling and CNN was the only game in town I heard King (I can't remember his first name -- I want to say Stephen because of the horror of his reporting) interview a democrat in the midwest about why he was supporting John McCain. The democrat had legitimate concerns. But that was the story -- there was no follow-up, no give or take, no interviews with a republican. Nothing. Just a well-argued position about why democrats should support McCain.

    If this were Fox, you would expect it, but CNN was pretending at the time that it was politically neutral.

    You might want to consider the computer for broadcast news .... I often watch Hardball, Countdown, and/or Maddow on line. They are all geared towards politics, not straight news, but I find them extremely trustworthy and helpful. I know that Chris Matthews rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but I've become quite fond of him (he's very transparent) and he tries to bring in both points of view which I like. When Maddow stays away from her hi-jinks, she's a terrific reporter and commentator. And I just like Olbermann, or at least have gotten used to him.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Actually, I can get Frontline via the Internet, which is great, and I pick up a few other things, but mostly I read. I no longer like these personalities very much. Not a big fan of Matthews or Olbermann. Always get a kick out of Jon Stewart tearing into them. I have liked what I've heard of Maddow.

    John King is the guy you're thinking of. He covered the Bush White House and struck me as a rock solid Republican. Can't stand him either. His election coverage was awful, as he gleefully showed the blue states changing red on his big screen touch board.

    Jonathon Mann is also impossible to listen to. He's like some robot from Westworld. His "Political Mann" segment is downright awful.

    It would be interesting to read some good article on the demise of CNN but I haven't found one yet. It clearly lost its journalistic footing after 911. Can only assume this was an editorial decision from high up.

    ReplyDelete
  17. On the positive side, CNN did get rid of Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and Rick Sanchez, although Beck technically got rid of CNN by jumping ship to Fox. CNN has harbored more than a few openly conservative program hosts in recent years, yet apparently its head honchos are split politically. I guess they feel that they are trying to create a "blend" of reporting.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I've never been much of a tv watcher but I used to look to CNN to find out what was happening in the world. They had good reporters and did a good job centralizing those reports in a timely fashion.

    I think it was their attempt to split their news politically that killed them for me. The outright vitriol of their right wing commentators during elections drove me off.

    I think I've told you here before that I started watching t.v. after 9/11 and honestly thought a Fox news show was meant as [tasteless] comedy... Did you see the survey that showed how badly informed about current events Fox viewers are compared to other t.v. news viewers? Fox never met a fact it likes (and sadly is often the only cable "news" station available when I travel in the state):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3LUid0IZ2w

    ReplyDelete
  19. It is pretty hard to take Fox seriously but many, many people do. Very much the fulfillment of the fictional television station in the movie Network.

    CNN was very good in the 90s. It was the only American news program to break news on the Persian Gulf War, and I thought really earned its stripes. But, god what an awful job they did with the Iraq War, allowing themselves to be bent and shaped by the American war machine, as giddy as teenagers to be riding around in tanks. Good thing we had Al Jazeera.

    ReplyDelete
  20. What was interesting about that Maddow clip above was that all the networks stood with Fox when the White House tried to exclude them. I'm not sure what that says about the other news sources....

    ReplyDelete
  21. All for one and one for all like the Four Muskateers, or whatever? News has become almost solely entertainment, managed by media handlers who answer to corporate CEOs. They sold out long ago.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I remember before Maddow got her position at MSNBC that there was heavy lobbying by people on places like the Huff-Po (just regular people who were sending in comments) that Maddow should be given a job. That's why it struck me as so odd when they woke up at MSNBC and they gave her one! You don't see that too often! There was also an almost universal distaste for Matthews and his loudmouth, every thing revolves around me style. That's why I figured he would be gone soon, his long record of experience not withstanding.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Funny, it's the entertainment aspect of t.v. news that turns me off. I remember returning from living in London in the late 70s and being appalled by the news. I didn't watch it again for 20 years.... It took 9/11 to get me to turn on a t.v.

    I think Maddow in particular underestimates the intelligence of her viewers (thus all the goofy additions). She's at her best when she does straight reporting and analysis. I assume she got the job because she did such a terrific job as a guest on Olbermann.

    As for Matthews, Shrift ... I know I'm out in left field on that one. I guess I've grown used to him and his style. His is the only program I routinely watch, but I like the so-called debates on issues (when a guest can get a word in edgewise). I catch the others in the lineup if there's a story I'm particularly interested in.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I don't mind the entertainment side of it so much, as long as it is entertaining, but CNN is abysmally boring. I guess this is why it is losing the rating race with Fox. They should have never let Glenn Beck go. Bring Rick Sanchez back. Pay these guys whatever they want!

    But, and this is an important but, it should no longer call itself news. Just like Jon Stewart calls The Daily Show comedy and has to explain this from to time to the good folks at CNN and Fox. Seems Brian Williams of NBC is one of the few persons to get Stewart's sense of humor. He appears quite often on 30 Rock as well. I'm beginning to like him. Not that I think NBC is anymore newsworthy.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I guess that Maddow figures that she has to play to the level of her viewers. She often sounds as if she is explaining things to a crowd of eight year olds. On the other hand, most times these explanations are extremely thorough and leave the viewer with no doubts about the subject she is discussing--so much more complete than what many other reporters give. When she's done with her explanation you might not agree with her (depending on your political bent) but there's no saying she hasn't laid it out clearly and concisely.

    ReplyDelete
  26. but CNN is abysmally boring.---

    What I don't like about them is that they can't seem to make up their minds these days if they are are a horse or if they are a zebra. It seems like they want to lean to the right but can't take the complete plunge. It strikes me that Wolf Blitzer would be snug as a bug in a rug over on the conservative side.

    ReplyDelete
  27. She does have a tendency to go on too long. I appreciate her thoroughness on a subject, but I have to wonder how many persons she reaches with these arguments. Seems she is pretty much preaching to the choir. I doubt she makes many converts.

    I guess that is why I prefer Stewart's sarcastic approach. He assumes a level of knowledge among his audience. Even though he plays most stories for laughs, there is a grain of truth in each and everyone of them. Biting political humor, which had been sorely lacking on television before he came along.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I suppose it is CNN's attempt at "impartiality," but they are failing miserably. Just watching John King score the election results made me puke. There was no "impartiality" in it at all, and the rest of the gang were all falling all over themselves in writing the Democrats' obituary not just for 2010 but 2012 as well, knowing full well two years is a lifetime in politics. It has become truly hopeless on this network.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Not even a half hour of Jon Stewart each weekend could save them.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks Gintaras and Shrift for continuing this discussion. I find it fascinating, and timely.

    One of the things I've learned from all my t.v. viewing in the last few years is that news media personalities (with the exception of Maddow and probably Olbermann) are generally hard-working, literal or concrete-thinking individuals. These are not the great minds of America. And at least at msnbc, they tend as a group to be Catholics.

    As for Brian Williams, his favorite pastime is to go to the stock car races in Bozeman, Montana. What can I say.... These are not big thinkers.

    I agree that Maddow does a very good job explaining issues. And if the ultimate goal is ratings, I guess you have to play to the general audience so you don't risk losing anyone.

    And even with all the hi-jinks, if there's a big story, I look to her reporting more than the others to help me make sense of it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Well, as sad as it is, this incident in Tucson just might be the game-changer. Someone posted this piece on facebook,

    http://www.borowitzreport.com/2011/01/10/fox-news-warns-that-without-angry-rhetoric-it-will-have-24-hours-to-fill/

    It may not change the way Fox or the Tea Party does business, but I certainly think this tragic incident is going to give "independents" some pause, and maybe even swing over (ever so slightly) once again to the left.

    ReplyDelete
  32. It is fun to do current events once in awhile. There is a tendency to get lost in history, and an incident like this snaps us back to the here and now.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I am very concerned that people like Boehner have been able to take "the easy way out" and just write that guy off as insane -- rather than really speaking out against the rhetoric. But as that link says, then Fox News would have to fill its 24/7 with something substantive, and that might be a challenge.

    I read a great quote in all of this somewhere -- I think from David From. We used to think that Fox news worked for us. Turns out we work for Fox.

    ReplyDelete
  34. ...this snaps us back to the here and now.

    This is definitely American history in the making. My guess is it's a game changer. Time will tell, though, what direction that change will take.

    ReplyDelete
  35. The thing I like about Olbermann and Maddow both is that they both seem to have an appreciation for the truth. Yes, they both wear their political affiliations on their sleeve, but there is nothing wrong with that. As long as they call a spade a spade and report the warts on the Liberal side along with the good stuff. You so seldom hear anyone on the Right say anything bad about anyone or anything on the right, as if it were treason to mention those things (other, of course, when someone like Rushbo wants to try and destroy someone on the right who has, in Rushbo's opinion, wandered off the reservation).

    ReplyDelete
  36. I don't think the Republicans and Tea Party surrogates will change their strategy one iota. That's the only strategy they know. What an incident like this will do is force "independents" to reconsider events and wonder who exactly are these guys and gals on the Right!

    Already the news media is painting the kid as a loner, a pothead, a nihilist, placing him as far away from the political right as they can. The mysterious 40-45 year old "accomplice" who was initially reported near the scene of the crime will most likely fade away, as the gunman will be presented more and more as a lone wolf, just like Tim McVeigh.

    The sheriff and others on the scene who felt the ugly political climate in Tucson played a factor in this will be written off as conspiracy theorists.

    The narrative is in such a state of flux right now. I know the first tendency is to give full respect to Gabrielle Giffords and those who died on the scene, but at the same time the American public must be made painfully aware it can't have its cake and eat it too. You can't go around blowing this highly charged rhetoric and not expect things like this to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  37. They have both been extremely critical of aspects of the Obama administration, which I appreciate. I don't want just the gloss. Theirs are definitely not "party" newscasts. Matthews is much more centrist and pragmatic, which also has its educational benefits. It's a nice mix.

    Morning Joe on the other hand.... The show was featured in the Times so I tried watching it a couple times. He strikes me as nothing more than a right-wing bully.

    ReplyDelete
  38. That accomplice was the cab driver who brought him there. He came forward yesterday after his picture was all over Arizona t.v. I guess he had walked into a store with the shooter to get change and was caught on a surveillance camera.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Well, I agree that the Arizona incident is certainly giving people some pause……
    I think there are a lot of politicians walking around at the moment with the vague notion starting to enter their heads that "That could be me in that hospital". Will it lap over into some positive change in rhetoric? I doubt it. After all, isn't always the 'other guy' who is fueling the fire, upping the ante when it comes to extremism these days? It's never me. I think it will all be business as usual after a few more days, with this incident just being another level, another bar we have passed in our journey to……what?

    ReplyDelete
  40. ....Already the news media is painting the kid as a loner, a pothead, a nihilist, placing him as far away from the political right as they can....

    That's exactly what worries me. It's easy to write him off as an anomaly, as if all people who do this aren't crazy and prone to act out what they hear 24/7 on the radio and tv.

    Not to mention the fact that he could walk into his local "sporting goods" store and buy a semi-automatic weapon. We have those big stores here. I find them terrifying.

    ReplyDelete
  41. He strikes me as nothing more than a right-wing bully.--

    You should have seen him when he had is own show. He was much worse. Although I agree with you, I don't think that the show he has now works at all. She has a hard time hiding her ambition (and low opinion of Joe), while he is, as you say, pretty much what he always was, an unrepentant right-winger.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Yes, and "Joe" seems to walk all over her (and many of the guests, who sort of treat him with some sort of deference). It's painful to watch that kind of abusive environment. I'm surprised they have a following at all.

    ReplyDelete
  43. "That could be me in that hospital"....

    One would hope that would make Boehner weep, but I'm still waiting....

    ReplyDelete
  44. We have those big stores here. I find them terrifying.

    Such is the civilization we have built (or had built for us). But those on the right find no correlation between any of these events and the positions they hold so dear politically. There can't be any correcting of people who can't even see the problem. What's to be done?

    ReplyDelete
  45. I'm a big believer in the power of education but, alas, the republicans keep cutting that back too. I guess you have to hold your nose and keep working hard for the Democrats, even if in my state if that means Max Baucus....

    ReplyDelete
  46. I shudder at the thought of working for Max although I did hold my nose and vote for him in 2008.

    ReplyDelete
  47. What other choice is there? There's no third party that's any kind of a threat yet, or will be into the foreseeable future. Rather I think the United States will fall apart before we get any real representational government in this land.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Oh well, lunch time in the USA. Pleasure talking with you, avrds. And Gint--as usual, buenos dias!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Bon appetit! It's supposed to be work time at this side of the continent.....

    ReplyDelete
  50. Had to break away to make dinner for the kids.

    I actually met Joe Scarsborough. He was a young guy running for House Representative in our NW Florida district. Didn't think much of him at the time, or since for that matter, but every once in awhile he has a moment of contrition, which is more than I can say for most right-wingers. But, what ever "starpower" he had seems gone. Too many young "beauties" in the Republican Party now to oggle. That maybe why he is so mysogenistic.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Not surprisingly, Sarah has been doing some housecleaning,

    http://open.salon.com/blog/rogerf1953/2011/01/08/palin_scrubs_website_of_poster_that_targeted_giffords

    ReplyDelete
  52. A little history about Joe Scarborough when he was a Congressman (death of an aide in his office in Florida in 2001):

    http://www.americanpolitics.com/20010808Klausutis.html

    ReplyDelete
  53. oooh, that's a creepy story. Whether there's anything to it or not, it is odd that they are able to keep it from making news. Also interesting about Scarborough resigning from Congress. Didn't know that either, but it all fits with my overall impression of him. Interesting how these guys just reinvent themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Once again, Rachel Maddow comes through on a big story. Her show, don't tell approach meant starting the hour with a big stack of headlines of mass murder committed in this country starting the year Loughner was born, followed by clips of news anchors saying how such a thing is unexplainable, how it never happens in America, etc., etc.

    Takes you directly to the gun lobby, which even Sherrod Brown, whom I really like, didn't want to take on -- tried to switch the discussion to support for mental health issues.

    Gintaras, I think it's even legal now to carry weapons in the national parks believe it or not. That was one of the first rules Congress imposed when Yellowstone opened -- check your guns at the gate. How far we've come.

    ReplyDelete
  55. As someone at the New York Times pointed out, this shooting occurred at a political gathering scheduled by a Congressional representative. Trying to suggest that the story is really about the fate of the mentally ill in this country is blowing smoke you know where big time. The level of denial that attaches to (1) the Second Amendment, and (2) what passes for political discourse on the Right would be laughable if it wasn't so damn sad.

    ReplyDelete