Congressional Quagmire

December 20th, 2011 at 8:37 am David Frum | 178 Comments |

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The problem is bigger than the House of Representatives. The prior question is: why did the Senate adjourn having passed such a ridiculous thing as a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday?

It’s the answer to that question that reveals the true dysfunction in Congress.

The Senate passed a two-month stopgap tax holiday because it could not agree on how the tax measure was to be “paid for.” Senate Republicans wanted bigger spending cuts, including a pay freeze for federal workers. Senate Democrats wanted a series of pin-prick upper-income tax increases, including an end to the tax deductibility of corporate jets.

Because the “pay for” could not be agreed, the Senate passed a stopgap holiday.

Because the House Republicans think the stopgap holiday is stupid, they won’t adopt the Senate version.

Because the Senate quit for Christmas after enacting the stopgap, the House’s refusal now threatens to put an end to the payroll holiday altogether.

Is this any way to run a great country?

Why do we have to agree now on how to balance the budget later? Isn’t emerging from this economic slump a big enough challenge? No creditor is demanding an early budget-balance plan. On the contrary, the world is eager to lend the US money at bargain rates. Congress is so consumed by tomorrow’s problem that it will not address today’s crisis.

This is the real-world consequence of the wrong idea introduced to US politics that it is debts and deficits that caused the slump, rather than the other way around. For the moment, it’s all farcical. It could easily turn tragic.

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178 Comments so far ↓

  • kuri3460

    David, stop voting Republican. They are the ones who are doing the jockeying over the debt.

  • bdtex

    One side made concessions. The other side just made more demands.

    • medinnus

      Senate Dems and GOP work out a deal.

      House GOP – the Tea Party branch – says “To hell with you both. You have compromised with the Senate GOP – now we want ours!”

      2012 can’t come swiftly enough.

  • dante

    As has been noted, when the Bush tax cuts came up for an extension, the Republicans demanded a TWO YEAR extension (they wanted them to be permanent), with *zero* of it offset or “paid for”. Now suddenly they’re willing to raise taxes on 160,000,000 Americans? And they think that this is going to go over well when Americans get their first paycheck in the new year and it’s $50 smaller?

    By the way, the Senate is *technically* still in session. Reid could start calling votes tomorrow if he wanted to, since House Republicans are trying to ensure that Obama isn’t able to make any recess appointments. I personally think that the Democrats should have kept the Senate working literally RIGHT through Christmas on this. If anything would show that they’re willing to work, that’d be it.

  • Reflection Ephemeral

    Yep, Senate Republicans are idiots for insisting on cuts right away now to counterbalance the payroll tax cut (not something they ever did for the Bush tax cuts, of course). And yep, House Republicans are idiots for rejecting the deal that Boehner had agreed to in negotiations with the Senate.

    There seems to be a common thread here… what might it be… ?

  • dante

    By the way, David, *why* exactly are you still a Republican? Your economic theory literally lines up 100% with the current Democratic thought, and 180deg opposite from current Republican theory. I know it would be hard, but if the economy is the #1 challenge facing this country, and you agree 100% with the Democrats and disagree 100% with the Republicans……… Why are you going to pull the (R) lever next November?

    • Ray_Harwick

      In all seriousness, David’s position is a necessary nitch to be filled on the right. Republicans can’t hear you **whatsoever** unless you have GOP/conservative street cred. It’s the best reason for David to be where he is. I, for one, really appreciate the nitch David Frum fills.

      • rover1492

        I guess I’m not the only one who heard the echo of Krugman in David’s piece. Good on, David. Keep it up.

        • angeleno

          Mr. Frum is inspirational to me. I should hope that one day I will be able to stand up for what I believe in even if I find myself alienated from everything I’ve known throughout my honest adult life. He wants the best for America. It’s so obvious.

          I think the death of Christopher Hitchens has been especially profound for Mr. Frum. I think he saw a kindred soul. Mr. Frum even alluded to such in a recent article.

          Hell, they’re both heroes that represent the best of what a democracy can produce.

      • Rich T Bikkies

        Just for the record, it’s spelt “niche”. (I’m not a pedant – just a lover of accuracy). Originally French, but they pronounce it “neesh” – the cheese-eating surrender monkeys!

  • midwest guy

    I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Frum forgot to mention that the names Boehner and Cantor are leading and encouraging every one of the dysfunctional behaviors cited above. Perhaps Mr. Frum would be willing to speak honestly about the need to remove such disruptive and dysfunctional folks from office. Our nation would be better without them.

    • chicago_guy

      Boehner isn’t leading anything. He’s being led, and clearly is unhappy about it, even as he realizes he’s incapable of changing the dynamic. As long as the least-knowledgeable members of Congress have the Speaker by the short ones, there’s no hope of coming up with reasonable, rational legislation in the House.

      Two months IS stupid. Failing to accept that balancing the payroll tax cut by increasing some taxes on the one group in the country who benefitted from the last boom (and who are actually even richer now than two years ago) is equally stupid. Which one does Frum think is dumber than the other?

      • nitrat

        That is exactly what this boils down to over and over with Boehner:
        He will not risk losing the Speakership if it means he has to do what is best for the country without regard to the psychopatholgy that is consuming his party.

        And, pathetically, he does not realize that he is proving he is as bad a leader as Obama is accused of being…add in Reid and McConnell and we KNOW we have the sorriest bunch NOT running the Congress in my 60 years.

        • Solo4114

          Boehner’s situation isn’t that he “won’t” do what is best for the country because it endangers his Speakership. His Speakership is endangered no matter what. Cantor is waiting behind him, knife poised, just waiting for the right moment and everyone knows it. Boehner’s situation is, ironically, not that different from Obama’s: he CAN’T do anything. Boehner doesn’t have the power to rule the House by fiat anymore than Obama has the power to rule by fiat.

          How exactly would Boehner “do what is best for the country”? How would he MAKE the House GOP do as he says? He can’t. He knows it. The best he can do is exercise what little moderating influence he has. But when you get down to it, if his caucus wants to tell him to go pound sand, he can’t make them do otherwise. The House GOP has realized this. It has also realized that by purging the pragmatists from the party and leaving only the true believers behind, it can effectively grind government to a halt even though it holds only a majority of one of half of Congress.

          And this is the danger inherent in representative government: that you end up with rigid, inflexible, “my way or the highway” people who are absolutely willing to “execute the hostage” in order to achieve their demands. Moreover, when you have an executive branch and the Senate Dems unwilling to say “Make my day, punk,” pretty much you have an entire nation bullied by the ideologues of one political party.

          This will not end until the current crop of the House GOP is expunged in sufficient numbers, and THAT won’t happen until the public (A) gets sufficiently pissed off at Congress’ inaction, and (B) recognizes that the House GOP is to blame. The House GOP (and the GOP in general) recognize that, therefore, all they have to do is spin the news effectively, and they can guarantee that this continues indefinitely.

  • jdd_stl1

    Perhaps in a divided government the best we can do is a series
    of short compromises. At least the Senate came up with that.
    And you have GOP Senators criticizing the stance of the House
    GOP members.
    This is a bill that might pass the House if it was allowed to
    go up for a vote. But each time we come to this the underlying
    question is will Boehner let it get to a vote and would it cost him
    his job as speaker if he let it pass against the will of a large portion
    but not all of his caucus? Power and Party before Country and Compromise.

    What makes the House GOP think they will get a better compromise
    in the next few days that they couldn’t get in the past weeks?
    They got the Keystone pipeline decision in the deal. Why won’t they
    ever be satisfied with a compromise?

    • zaybu

      “Perhaps in a divided government the best we can do is a series
      of short compromises.”

      Unfortunately, this will have to do. And only a reconfiguration under next year’s election will the dynamics improve. Of course, the assumption is if the American public is knowledgeable and votes to rectify this situation. It’s a humongus big IF.

  • jdd_stl1

    Mr. Frum,

    I really wish you would engage with some of the comments here.
    It really is disturbing that you say things like this post and yet
    you wish for nothing more than to put all your eggs in the GOP basket.
    You are going to pull the R lever, aren’t you? Just think what
    might happen if we got a President Gingrich or Romney, GOP Senate and GOP House.
    Slash and Burn economics. The Beast will die and a lot of Americans
    will suffer for it. Is that the near-term future you want? Will the
    US and world economy be able to withstand the short term (x years)
    austerity in the US?

  • nhthinker

    The informed American people want Congress to work via Regular Order, not yet another stop gap that only lasts two months. Harry Reed should be impeached for leading a Senate that has shirked its duty and that has not produced a budget in over 900 days.

    • Graychin

      How can we take you seriously when you want Harry Reid impeached, and say nothing about the merry band led by Mitch McConnell, enthusiastically using their ability to obstruct and delay anything/everything that Harry Reid and the Democrats might try to do?

      Because, by McConnell’s own admission, non-obstruction might help Obama get re-elected.

      • nhthinker

        I could care a rat’s fanny whether you take me seriously. Liberals make up about 20% of the electorate and about 80% of the comments here.

        Your view of the world is both marginal and laughably entertaining.

        • sweatyb

          fun with numbers! if you define liberal as “to the left of nhthinker on any issue” then I think we can safely say that 90% of voters are liberal. And 100% of what you post is drivel.

        • nhthinker

          I use the definitions used by pollsters that attempt to be objective.
          You are welcome to try to redefine the meaning of established words… it’s actually quite humorous that liberals run away from the word and want to be called progressives instead.
          Liberal is only a slur because moderate and conservative people have an image of what a liberal is.
          Liberals are doing their best to run away from the liberal label and instead own the “progressive” label and redefine it as a slur by associating the same tired liberal policies with it. Objective pollsters are not buying into the redefinition..

        • sweatyb

          The stupid, it burns!

        • larocquj

          “The informed American people want Congress to work via Regular Order”

          This is your opinion.

          My opinion is that people want Congress to work…period. They could care less about Regular Order.

    • think4yourself

      NH – Your post is a prime example of what I see as wrong with the GOP.

      First you say that the American people don’t want a 2 month stop-gap extension. That is a great comment and worth talking about (a) the reasons why and (b) how to fix that.

      But then you follow that up with Harry Reid ought to be impeached. Like all of this is Reid’s fault? Even Fox News noted that Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly for this measure (it wasn’t 60/40 with one or two GOP swing overs). You blame Harry Reid for lack of budget, like a budget that can pass 60 votes is soley in his perview.

      The more you falsely blame all liberals or all Democrats for our problems, the less people listen to you.

  • nhthinker

    What ever happened to yesterday’s Lanny Davis Article “How to Confirm a Story”- Still available on Bing cache but hardly anywhere else?,e66b3849

  • overshoot

    Why do we have to agree now on how to balance the budget later?

    Because one of the major parties, which controls one of the houses of Congress, insists that the most important threat to the US economy — much more than unemployment — is Federal debt.

    • zaybu

      That party’s major goal is to reduce the government — bleed the beast. A more immediate goal is to remove Obama at all cost. So far, the members of that party are playing close to the script.

      • overshoot

        That party’s major goal is to reduce the government — bleed the beast.

        No, not “reduce the government.” Redirect it towards more deserving parties, like fossil fuel companies and military contractors.

        • John


          its worth noting that the “size” of government is actually smaller under Obama that it was under Bush. In any case, why would anyone be interested solely in the size of government? how about the effectiveness/efficiency. if you had a government of size 100 and you eliminated 20 units – but those happened to be the most efficient units – would it be worth celebrating your accomplishment of a 20% reduction in the “size” of the government?

  • Baron Siegfried

    The impression I get is that the Republicans are trying to burn the house down for the insurance money, only they forgot to pay the insurance premiums . . .

  • jamesj

    “Why do we have to agree now on how to balance the budget later? Isn’t emerging from this economic slump a big enough challenge?”


    David, why does your writing imply that both sides of the political isle are equally to blame? We know with near certitude that is not the case. We know that the panic over long term debts is primarily created and driven by one specific party in modern US politics. Correct?

    I wonder why you keep correctly diagnosing the problem but carefully avoiding assigning blame where it is obviously due. This avoidance is part of our problems as of late. If more people were willing to place blame where it is rightfully due we’d have at least a chance of shaming these jackals into taking their duties more seriously. But the people who understand what’s going on carefully avoid the blame game, thus giving a grossly inaccurate impression to lay people that all of Washington is broken. That is not the case, and you know it. What’s more, you know in your heart that refusal to speak truth to power in our party is hurting the country in a very real way.

    • TerryF98

      Is it not obvious Frum is a Coward!

      • jamesj

        I critique Frum, but I wouldn’t call him a “coward”. That is a strong word as far as I’m concerned. Frum is in the process of doing what few men ever do, openly criticizing his own political in-group. Give credit where credit is due. He is speaking out to a great degree and he’s been ostracized by much of the Republican party establishment (including former employers and patrons) as a result. More of us Republicans need to follow this example for the sake of the country. While I offer criticism in hopes that Frum will do even more of the good work he’s already accomplished, one man can only do so much. Reading this site for the past year has encouraged me to speak out more to my own close circle of right wing family and friends and my hope is that more folks will do the same and slowly bring the Republican party back to a path of sanity.

    • driftglass

      There is no professional or psychological incentive for people like Mr. Frum to stop lying. They blow with the prevailing wind. When it was profitable to be a raging Conservative, they were on the front lines of bashing Liberals and selling the Bush Administration’s catastrophic agenda.

      Now that the Wingnut Intellectual funding source has dried up and the Party of God has kicked people like Mr. Frum out on their uppers, the prevailing wind is from the “Both sides do it” Center. So now Mr. Frum is a Centrist. And if he has to contort reality and his own recent past beyond recognition and do it, so what? I’m sure for a former Dubya speechwriters, such skills are second nature.

      Just as I am sure that once it becomes professionally advantageous to come out as a fierce critic of the GOP as the real source of most of our problems…Mr. Frum will reinvent himself and his past once again to become its fiercest critic of all.

      • jamesj

        I think you are seeing conspiracies where there are none. Most of the people I know who believe modern right-wing talking points actually “believe” them. The same goes for left-wing talking points. They are not opportunists looking for their next paycheck. They are normal people who want the best for their country, but due to the horrible habits of the human mind they are trapped in a specific mindset and have a very difficult time changing their ways.

        Would I like to see Frum go even further than he has? Yes. I comment on this site all the time advocating even more truth telling within the party. As a still-registered Republican I am ashamed of what’s become of the party and try to speak out against it to my friends and family. You can either align with earnest attempts at reform like mine and Frum’s, or you can scorn us. I think one path does more good than the other.

    • Rich T Bikkies

      Mr Frum. It’s time you started addressing issues that more and more responders are raising, more and more stridently, on this blog. One I would particularly like to hear from you on: with all your wailing about how crazy the Republican party is getting, are you STILL going to vote for whatever freak gets the Republican nomination?

      With all your intelligence and talent, is that all you are – a mindless tribal Republican?

      Please post a column.

  • ottovbvs

    Neat bit of jujitsu by Reid. Boehner and the Republicans are screwed.

  • LFC

    The Senate voted for 2 months so there would be more time to negotiate. What is there to negotiate? All of the multitude of partisan riders tacked onto the House bill by Republicans that guaranteed it would be DOA in the Senate so they could generate this very crisis. Drug testing for unemployment benefits? Cutting funding for preventive care? Taking away EPA authority to regulate incinerators and boilers? (I worked in the air pollution monitoring biz for a bit and the thought of an unregulated incinerator upwind of my home scares the living s*** out of me!) Yeah, those are important to a tax cut extension, though oddly enough they weren’t when the Bush tax cuts were extended. (David, read all the comments here. You should be noticing a pattern.)

    This has nothing to do with 2 months vs. 12 months and everything to do with a Senate bill with a few unrelated partisan riders tacked on vs. a House bill with a whole truckload of them. End of story. Now Harry Reid has given the House a big FU on the latest crisis they intentionally manufactured. Let them vote and they can defend their records in the next election.

  • Baron Siegfried

    Ahem. “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you lay the blame”.

    The republican narrative is that gov’t is dysfunctional, and they set about proving it at every opportunity, then blaming the democrats. Their strategy has been to sabotage the economy at every opportunity, to deny Obama any successes they can, and minimize and marginalize what successes he does have. They’re banking that the American people are too stupid to see what’s going on in front of them. I think they’re sadly mistaken.

    The True Believers are trained to believe the patently ridiculous and physically impossible, to be proud of the fact they believe them, and to feel that their sustained belief in the face of all those left wing ‘facts’ makes them ‘True Americans’, ‘Christian Warriors’, or just ‘Saved!’. Cognitive dissonance is a feature, not a bug.

    I blame the immersive world of Fox, hate talk radio, and the rightwing blogosphere for a lot of this – because they disdain the ‘lamestream media’, they don’t get the same information or live in the same universe as the rest of us . . . and since anyone who disagrees with them is ‘one of those liburuls’, it’s not like they’re going to receive any views contrary to their own without a big argument ensuing. They view the world through a filter of paranoia and victimization, and right now their Mission One is defeating Obama, collateral damage notwithstanding.

  • Jamie McFadden

    If this misguided tax break does not get extended, we could very well lose half a point of GDP next year. For both the very existence of the payroll tax break, as well as the food fight over extending it, we have Fox News to blame.
    I need a Zoloft…

  • Rabiner

    This is what pisses me off about Republican’s plan to pay for this bill off of freezing salaries of Federal employees. They were up in arms about private compensation regulations for banks taking TARP as that would have a detrimental impact on the talent than banks could recruit but ignore the fact that government needs quality employees to function appropriately but seem perfectly fine freezing their pay for 3 years. Don’t they think that freezing that pay will just have a detrimental impact on government by lowering the quality of workers as it would of on banks?

  • Stewardship

    Absolute lack of leadership in Congress. Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy, Upton are like blockers on a kick off return for a Pop Warner football team. They’re scrambling to stay in front of the flying wedge that conforms to the pattern of popcorn popping.

    There isn’t a single person in this Congress who is a statesman, or who will be remembered (in a positive light) by future generations.

    • balconesfault

      There isn’t a single person in this Congress who is a statesman, or who will be remembered (in a positive light) by future generations.

      I actually believe that history is going to be very positive towards Nancy Pelosi. She had the ability to push the Dem caucus when they needed to be pushed to get something done, as we saw with the final votes on the ACA.

      I actually think Boehner would like to be, but he is aware he has absolutely no range to do so, given the current makeup of the GOP caucus, which would kneecap him in a moment if he tried to lead them from their reactionary path. He cannot push his caucus, period.

      Hoyer, I think, would also like to have been a statesman – and had the GOP really been willing to compromise with a Dem he could have brokered some excellent deals.

      But otherwise … the aforementioned Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy, and Upton … along with Kyl, and Durbin … are not exactly statesmen.

  • valkayec

    Mr. Frum, this is probably one of your best editorial blog posts as it gets to the heart of the problem: lack of job growth as a result of lack of demand and massive loss of middle class wealth as a result of an ongoing worldwide financial crisis.

    Yet, what I see is a failure amongst too many in Congress, especially on the GOP side of aisle, to admit to the current economic situation. For heaven’s sake, even the GOP presidential candidates are promoting supply side tax policies – a policy, economists say, is designed to increase labor supply – which means they either have no clue about the current situation or they plainly refuse to admit to the truth. Or they’re just pandering to their wealthy friends and donors without any concern or regard for the rest of us out here in the hinterland.

    I’ll be honest. I’m sick of all the political games playing with the lives and futures of American families. I hope the GOP loses massively in the next election because in losing dramatically the GOP just may be shocked back into some sense of reality and may be able to control its most radical members. Gingrich-style politics and the Tea Party got us into this idiocy. I hope the American public now recognizes the only way to even partially fix Congress is to throw out the Tea Party radicals for some sensible moderates who understand economic realities and offer sound policies.

    • overshoot

      I hope the GOP loses massively in the next election because in losing dramatically the GOP just may be shocked back into some sense of reality and may be able to control its most radical members.

      Or they may be forced to double down. In the worst possible case for them, the Democrats keep the White House, win every Senate race, and regain control of the House.

      At which point, the POG will still be able to block every single act of Congress and every single Presidential appointment in the Senate. Since that will be the only power that they have, that’s pretty much guaranteed to be what we’ll get.

      • sweatyb

        I think if that happens, the Senate will neuter the filibuster to make it much harder for the Republicans to stall the process.

        • valkayec

          Let’s hope so. Reid had a chance to do it a year ago but chose to take McConnell’s word that the GOP would only use the filibuster sparingly and not on appointees or judges. You can see how well McConnell lived up to his word. Reid would be a fool to believe McConnell on anything.

      • valkayec

        Or they may be forced to double down.

        Six months ago I would have said the same thing. Now, I’m not so sure. The split in the party is widening between the country club Republicans and the Tea Party Republicans. If the country club variety believes they lost the election across the board because of the actions and behavior of the Tea Party, they may very well begin to minimize the influence and power of the Tea Party which is easy enough to do since the establishment controls the purse strings.

  • sweatyb

    I really don’t think you can overstate how stupid the House Republicans are. It’s stunning. Did they just lose the thread or something?

    This all started with Democrats proposing a tax cut for the working classes paid for by the wealthy. The Republicans, by threatening to jump off a cliff, nullified the threat to the wealthy and reduced the tax cut’s duration from one year to two months (at which point they could extract more concessions). It would be masterful, if they weren’t negotiating against the feckless Harry Reid.

    And then they went and jumped off the cliff anyways. Anti-tax Republicans refuse to cut taxes for people that actually do something for a living. Election? What election?

  • Emma

    “This is the real-world consequence of the wrong idea introduced to US politics that it is debts and deficits that caused the slump, rather than the other way around.”

    First Question: Who introduced the wrong idea? Answer: Conservative Republicans.

    Second Question: Why not say who was responsible? Frum’s Answer: I look out for my friends.

  • rbottoms

    But you’ll vote for whatever GOP android gets the nod so what’s the point of complaining to us about it? You’re an abused spouse bailing hubby out despite the black eye and missing teeth.

  • Traveler

    Hey Folks, did you hear about the latest CNN poll?

    “President Barack Obama’s approval rating jumped 5 percentage points from November to December, fueled by dramatic gains among middle-class Americans, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday.

    Obama’s approval rating rose from 44% last month to 49% now, and the results suggest the debate over extending the payroll tax cuts in Congress is helping Obama’s efforts to portray himself as defender of the middle class. The poll was conducted from Friday through Sunday, while the Senate was passing the measure with bipartisan support and House Speaker John Boehner was giving it a dim outlook in his chamber.

    Obama’s gains appear to have come at the expense of congressional Republicans and the GOP in general — the party’s overall rating has dropped 6 points, to 43%, since June while Democrats’ rating has stayed at 55%.

    And a majority now say they have more confidence in Obama than in Republicans in Congress — last spring, only 44% felt that way.

    Democrats do particularly well among middle-income Americans, while the Republicans win support only from the top end of the income scale. ”

    Maybe this charade is finally beginning to dawn on the voters. Wait till a $1b ad campaign comes out using the latest POGer antics as the centerpiece. Grab the popcorn.

    Yo “thinker”, where’s that 80% you were talking about now? Looks like us 20% “liberals” (what an idiotic term for a bunch of ex-republicans) are a lot more numerous than you would like to think. Truth hurts don’t it?

    • nhthinker

      “Looks like us 20% “liberals” (what an idiotic term for a bunch of ex-republicans) are a lot more numerous than you would like to think.”

      A blip on a single poll about the President’s approval. You are the 20-21%.
      Obama would never call himself a liberal because he knows it’s the kiss of death in American national politics…Comparable to “Atheist” and “Communist” as a label that means loser.

      As to the Pres Approval, its worse than Jimmy Carters. And it is generally measured as “Adults” as opposed to “likely voters”.
      Here is Real Clear Politics.

      • dante

        And what does that look like when you eliminate the Republican polling firm Rasmussen? You know, the one that was pretty much dead last in predicting results in 2010?

      • Traveler

        Real clear indeed. No label for ordinate or abcissa. You are even more brain dead than paul_bs, if that is at all possible. But I can surmise, and the same trend shows up.

        BTW, a liberal is not a moderate, so don’t confuse the two, hard as that might be for you to comprehend. Be that as it may, both groups now reject POGers, and we are more than 50%. So keep up the BS and make our day.

    • PracticalGirl

      “President Barack Obama’s approval rating jumped 5 percentage points from November to December, fueled by dramatic gains among middle-class Americans…

      In addition to the GOP’s folding in over itself, I think that Occupy Wall Street has something to do with the jump. I know “they” said (and still insist) that this group has had no impact. A peek at the timeline of the protests, however, shatters this conventional wisdom. Within 6 days of the first protests in September, major media was on the scene. Since then, who can deny that the resulting media story has helped articulate things nobody was seriously covering, like income inequality, banking greed and the plight of college students trying to pay for a college education (that costs today about as much as their parents’ first house) on stagnant wages and increasing loan costs. We’ve seen this focus increase 10 fold even on this very Forum since the advent of OWS.

      This has been a classic case of “change the conversation, change the issues”. While it isn’t all due to OWS, this group as a whole has forced an examination of issues that aren’t sexy, but actually matter to the 99%. At the same time, the Republicans have been giving early Christmas gifts all along, demonstrating exactly to whom they are loyal. Not hard to see why President Obama might benefit from this, and I think it’s more than a temporary peak.

      • valkayec

        As an aside, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi reported yesterday that ranking Republican Spencer Bachus is planning hearings of the SEC’s practice of using “no contest” settlements in its cases. Taibbi posits that Bachus’ hearings are a direct result of the impact of the OWS movement on politics and the national conversation. Keep in mind that Bachus’ fund raising from the largest banks was among the largest and that he played a critical role in making sure Frank-Dodd was weak and as ineffective as possible. Can anyone say “2012 election worries”?

  • sunroof

    The new CNN polling numbers just released should give the House GOP pause for some thought, which would be a first. Obama’s approval rating up 5 pts in a week to 49%. House GOP approval rating falls below 40%, pointing towards a November bloodbath. Key reason – middle class voters shifting to Obama over the payroll tax issue.

  • icarusr

    “Congress is so consumed by tomorrow’s problem that it will not address today’s crisis.”

    Er, not “Congress”. Rather, the political gang of thugs and self-proclaimed hostage-takers that now goes under the banner of the “Republican Party”. The primary problem they are consumed with is the destruction of Obama’s presidency; and today’s crisis helps them achieve that. The secondary problem is helping the rich; and today’s crisis will address that too.

    Go on and tell us how Romney – the proven fabulist – will “address” this crisis.

  • gmat


    Making the debt/deficit a priority over a strong recovery and full employment was a major political victory for the GOP.

    Of course, Obama made it easy for them by taking his eye off the ball (Health Care Reform!) in the second half of 2009.

    • think4yourself

      GMAT, not sure what you’re saying here:

      “Making the debt/deficit a priority over a strong recovery and full employment was a major political victory for the GOP.

      Of course, Obama made it easy for them by taking his eye off the ball (Health Care Reform!) in the second half of 2009.”

      Are you being sarcastic that it was good politically for the GOP focus on deficit?

      As for health care reform, I’m still in agreement that was the right thing to do. As the Clinton’s found out, you only get one shot at health care. It took 60 years to get anything. The compromise bill is not what I have wanted. If the President had not done it, he would have never gotten a shot again (btw, I don’t think that a President from either party would have made a difference regarding the depth and severity of the recession, it’s not healthcare’s fault this has dragged on this long).

      • balconesfault

        FWIW, this year a lot of small businesses are getting up to a 15K credit to help purchase employee health insurance, and a lot of 20-somethings who are doing contract labor with no benefits are being covered by their parents Healthcare Plan. I can’t see how these things aren’t going to suddenly start making people realize that the ACA was about the economy.

        • BlueGrin

          Not only that, but with the impending exponential increases in medical (and thus Medicare) costs, it was about long term budget balancing as well.

      • gmat

        The GOP in early 2010 succeeded in changing the mainstream narrative about the economy, the story became, “What’s holding down the economy is the national debt and the deficit.”

        That was a victory, no sarcasm intended.

        I believe the first 3 priorities for Obama should have been jobs, jobs, and jobs, until it was fixed, or he got fired. But he got some bad advice in Aug 2009 from a couple of his economic guys, basically that the stimulus was kicking in, the ship was back on course, not much else to be done.

        I’m just saying HCR was a distraction from what should have been his priority, and by the time he looked up from HCR in early 2010, to see that there was still no recovery and no jobs, the GOP had seized the rhetorical high ground.

  • shediac

    YES! Republicans score for the 1%!

  • dante

    By the way, I’m not quite so sure that hiking F&F fees for 10 years is going to be a politically acceptable way to pay for a 2 month extension of the payroll tax cut. On a $200k home, that amounts to ~$5,400 on someone buying their home after this goes into affect. All so that the average family in this country can get an extra $200?

    Seriously? This is the “bipartisan agreement” that the Republicans are crowing about? Taking $5400 from people buying homes so that they can spread the wealth around for a measly 2 months?

    The funniest part of this is that the reason this fee is being talked about is that Fannie and Freddie are apparently able to be far more productive, and far cheaper than private mortgage backers… Therefore we need to implement this fee to make F&F more expensive so that the private sector can compete.


    • dante

      Also, what the heck is this going to do to the fragile housing market? If it’s going to cost someone $5k more to buy my house, that means my house is going to lose $5k overnight. Who could possibly think this is a good idea?!?

      (And yes, it struck home since we’re looking at closing on a refi in the beginning of January. Thankfully we’re locked in at the old rate, but how is this going to play out for refi’s and purchases going forward?)

      • sweatyb

        It would shock the fragile market, causing the recovery to falter and weakening the economy so that people will be so mad at Obama they will blindly vote for whichever one of the Republican goofuses they end up nominating.

      • valkayec

        Also, what the heck is this going to do to the fragile housing market?

        My thought exactly when I read about it as the main funding mechanism for the tax cut. We have the weakest housing market since the ’30s, millions of homes in foreclosure or short sales; too few buyers with the money to make the down payments and the ability to get loans; and now there’s bipartisan agreement to up the fees on buying a house? Don’t these people get that until the housing/mortgage market problem is solved (deleveraging the middle class) the economy probably cannot recover?

        I’m sure any one of us could come up with better financing solutions that would be less harmful to the overall economy.

  • Solo4114

    Aaand the House has rejected the Senate bill.

    What will be interesting to see is how the media and the public respond to this and which set of spin really takes hold.

    Personally, with a 89-10 vote on the Senate bill, and the Senate itself no longer in session, it seems to me that the House GOP is going to have….rather an uphill battle in claiming that the inevitable tax increase (because the Senate won’t come back for an “emergency” session) is somehow someone else’s fault.

    It’ll be interesting to also see how McConnell and the Senate GOP respond to this. I mean, how exactly do they walk back their position to somehow provide cover for the House GOP? Will they even be inclined to do so? My hunch is “no.” The Senate GOP recognized the real dangers involved and cut a deal to buy time to negotiate later, recognizing that doing so minimizes the immediate damage and gives them an opportunity to attain more of their goals in the future.

    You’ve got to marvel at the sheer political ineptitude of the House GOP. How do they really expect they WON’T take it on the chin for this?

    • valkayec

      The House GOP is already trying to deflect blame. They immediately sent a letter to Obama requesting he step in to recall the Senate and begin a conference committee to renegotiate the two plans. Reid, however, said he will not call the Senate back in so now Cantor, et al, are saying Reid refuses to negotiate with the House, thus putting the blame on Reid.

      I’m not sure the public is buying the GOP blame game, though. From the comments on various posts about the failure of the House to pass the Senate plan, the public is showing a lot of disapproval for the GOP and most especially for the Tea Party Republicans.

      Even though the 2-month extension is nowhere near the kind of certainty businesses and families need, the GOP House has demanded too much and stepped too far beyond bounds this year. Middle class, working people are finally getting the message that the Tea Party backbenchers are not working for them and are actually harming job creation and the economy. This next year is going to be fun to watch to see how much the GOP can shoot itself in the eyes of the electorate.

  • nhthinker

    Is the CNN poll real?

    Let’s look inside the numbers:

    CNN/ORC International Poll — December 16 to 18, 2011
    Question 1/2/3
    Q1. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president?
    Q2. Do you approve strongly, or only moderately?
    Q3. Do you disapprove strongly, or only moderately?
    Base = Total Sample
    Total Men Women White Non-White
    —– —– —– —– ———
    Approve strongly 26% 22% 29% 17% 45%
    Approve moderately 23% 24% 23% 22% 27%
    Disapprove moderately 15% 16% 13% 14% 15%
    Disapprove strongly 33% 36% 31% 42% 12%
    No opinion 3% 2% 3% 3% 1%

    The total is 39% of whites approve and 72% of non-whites.

    Wiki indicates that white population is 79.5% of the US….

    Based on those numbers, the total for the US should have come out to a 46% approval rate for Obama.- which is where most other polls are.

    The report does not indicate the totals polled of whites and non-whites.

    • PracticalGirl


    • Traveler

      Also known as margin of error (btw 46 and 49). The issue is the trends, and they are unmistakeable. But hey keep trying. Ain’t gonna change anything. After today, probably even worse.

      EDIT:But thanks for the link. Note that the disapproval is centered in the south and rural. Figures. And they are all TP. No surprise.

      • dante

        Don’t forget “old”.

      • nhthinker

        Traveler: “And they are all TP. ”
        Are you suggesting the majority of whites are “all TP”?

        The broad brush you are painting with is making a mess.

        • Traveler

          I stand corrected. I was pointing out that 80% of TP (effectively all) disapprove of BO (hence the swing from 2008 to now you posted earlier). As I understand, TPers represent maybe 10% of the population. Playing with my napkin, if southern whites represent a quarter (20% of US), of which maybe half are rural (10%) you end up with a pretty similar number. As such, they are very likely to represent a far greater percentage of the crackers.

          Be fascinating to check the math. Given all your polling and statistics training, care to take that one on, with references? You may impress us with your acumen yet.

          As dante points out, there is just no getting around the bottom line. You are pinning all your eggs on an electoral basketcase.

        • Traveler

          (had to delete the dot post. Site starting to act up again…)

        • nhthinker


    • sweatyb

      This is just incredible. You doubt the numbers in the poll, so you break out the polling for just the white voters(!) and then apply a percentage gleaned from Wikipedia(!) and you actually expect to get a more accurate result?!

      • nhthinker

        If you do not understand the importance and the emphasis that objective pollsters place on getting the demographics of a poll correct, there is nothing I can do for you.

        I suggest you start with a university course in statistics and polling methods.

        • dante

          No offense, but I’ll trust a national news organization and a professional polling firm over some numbers you jotted down on a napkin / got off of wikipedia.

        • Traveler

          Did you take such a course? Methinks not…

        • nhthinker

          I took three undergrad courses in probability and statistics and worked part-time in college running SPSS ( statistical analysis for trials at a major NE university’s medical department- including acknowledgements in academic journals. The statistics classes spent significant time on both sample and polling bias.

          And would you care to fill us in on your expertise?

        • Traveler

          I am finishing my doctorate in biogeochemistry, which has plenty of parametric and nonparametric statistical analysis. As we both know, the confidence intervals within the categories you seized upon fall well within the so called margin of error. n is very low when you get into the subsets. So I guess your vaunted training must be a little rusty if you try to parse it the way you did. But perhaps you are on to something. I would much rather see your take on how many crackers it takes to make a tea party.

          What I cannot fathom is that if you really attended college, then how could you possibly be a birther, creationist and climate change denier? (Don’t bother answering, your posts do that admirably.)

        • nhthinker

          You seem to be a Chinese focused internationalist that enjoys slurs of Southerners and plus oneing everytime a liberal makes a slur. You do not sound moderate at all and seem to be afraid to call yourself a bigoted extremist. If you are going to wear it, own it.

        • nhthinker

          Here is Richard Dawkins agreeing with the “intriguing possibility” of the equivalent of the NHThinker form of ID…

          “It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and that it designed a form of life it seeded, perhaps onto this planet. Now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible you might find evidence for that. If you look at the details of biochemistry, of molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.”

          At about 3:00…

        • sweatyb

          you just don’t understand. my objection has nothing to do with demographic numbers.

          You are lazy: you do sloppy statistical work and pass it off as though it’s authoritative.
          You are dishonest: you make arguments with no basis in reality and back it up with false assertions and outright fabrications.
          You are an insufferable whiner: you overlook your near blinding ideological bias and constantly accuse others of failing to be objective.

        • Traveler

          Self deception is the first rule of the Koolaid kooks. “thinker” does occasionally rise to the occasion, but too often his frequent blend of straw men, circular logic and outright counterfactual statements kind of spoil the glimmerings of intelligence that occasionally emerge. To label a bunch of moderates and exGOPers “liberals” is a classic example.

          Sure wish COProgressive was still around. He was the only conservative voice here that had any coherence. Even Quint is getting libruhl these days.

        • Slide

          all you need to know about nothinker is that:

          1) he is a birther and doesn’t believe Obama (even if he was born in Hawaii) is legitimately the President and

          2) thinks there is more scientific evidence for Intelligent Design than for evolution.

          Why anyone would even listen to him is beyond understanding.

        • nhthinker

          It’s been along time, Troll. You continue to repeat lies that you know you don’t have proof of.
          And don’t provide anything else. Pitiful.

        • Traveler

          And you think you provide anything beyond a butt for ridicule by the rest of us? (You asked for that with your “response” to Slide.) Please try to act your age.

        • Slide

          Our memories are not as bad as I imagine you hope nothinker. We all remember your long winded, convuluted, natural born citizizen posts regarding the legitimacy of the President. We also remember your defense of Intelligent Design but for those that don’t here is a snippet of nothinker thinking on the matter:

          “Fundamentally, intelligent design is the phenomena of an intelligent being or beings using mechanisms that do not occur through random mutation in inheritance nor are simple husbandry or targeted crossbreeding, to produce new species typically to produce characteristics that the intelligent beings find value to. In other words, species that are NOT explained by evolution mechanisms, but instead only explained by intelligent design.”

          Like I said previously, why would anyone listen to this guy?

        • nhthinker

          Thanks for quoting my reasonable and scientifically testable definition of intelligent design. Humans that use gene splicing are demonstrable examples of intelligent designers. New species are being created with intelligent mechanisms beyond the mechanisms that most people associate with evolution. Unlike evolutionary mechanisms, these intelligent design mechanisms are currently the only scientifically lab testable mechanisms proven to create new species under observation.

    • dante

      Why yes, because 46% is so drastically different from 49%, and certainly not within the 3% margin of error…………

      Holy smokes, did you read the rest of that poll? It looks like an utter train-wreck for the Republicans.

      76% of Americans like Obama as a person (higher than GWB or Clinton)
      55-41% Americans approve of the Democratic party
      43-52% Americans DISapprove of the Republican party (-13% drop in approval ratings!!)
      33-49% Americans disapprove of the Tea Party (-4% drop)
      Obama wins every age bracket *other* than the 65+ (I wonder how that gut Medicare/SS vote will affect this group?)
      53% Approval rating from moderates
      Obama wins in the North East, the Midwest, and the West, and *only* loses the South.
      51-39% Americans trust Obama to handle the major issues in the country as opposed to the Republicans in Congress (again, the ONLY group that gives Obama low marks is the 65+ crowd)

      Those are truly dire numbers for the GOP…. Their only base of support is 65+, and growing older every day. That, combined with the fact that Medicare/Social Security WILL be a campaign issue, doesn’t exactly sound like good news to the Republican party these days.

      • dante

        By the way, Frum, that poll would be an interesting blog post. 65 year olds are literally the only people in the poll who are pro-Republican and anti-Obama. Obama and the Democrats win literally every single other demographic. Any ideas why? Holdover of social conservatives? Trepidation over a black guy in the White House? Brainwashing by Fox News?

        • Traveler

          Agree. See above thread with the “thinker”….The napkin comps are pretty remarkable.

          EDIT: Here is the latest:

          “President Barack Obama now holds a lead over potential Republican presidential rivals in a CNN/ORC International Poll released Tuesday.

          If the election were held today, Obama would have a 52%-45% advantage over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul. The incumbent would have a double-digit lead over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the poll suggests. ”

        • dante

          OUCH. Keep in mind, however, that that’s polling “registered voters”, not “likely voters”. Democrats always do well with “registered voters”, and Republicans do better with “likely voters”. The demographics that are most pro-Democrat (youth, minorities) tend to have dismal voting %, while old people (currently MASSIVELY in favor of the Republicans) tend to turn out in very, very high numbers.

          It also shows that voter motivation and turnout will be key in the upcoming election. If youth and minorities turn out like in ’08, the Republicans, *any* Republican is doomed. If voter participation falls back to ~50% like in ’10, the Democrats are screwed…

        • laingirl

          I’m a 65+ white woman who used to be a Republican, but Bush, the Lesser, changed that and I voted for President Obama, and will vote for him again. I’ve tried to figure out why so many seniors do not like him or would not vote for him and it’s a mystery to me. The only reason I can come up with is that so many were always Republican and have not educated themselves as to what is going on in the country or the world. If it’s not on Fox, it didn’t happen. Also, many people become very hard-headed when they get older and believe they know everything there is to know. My father was that way, but fortunately my mother was not. Me, I hope to continue to learn every day of my life. I like this website as I always respected David Frum, expect in some instances, but I particularly like the comments made by so many people here, such as yourself. Thank you; you’re keeping me young.

        • anniemargret

          laingirl…you are young! Just middle aged…and it’s the best place to be. And I ditto what you said.

          I think the senior generation unless they’ve been paying attention, are not as educated as you might like to think. Most of them grew up in an era where they trusted the news, not learning politics, civics, or constitutional principles.

          Fox also appeals to their generation, by hyping up fear and hate, deliberately making them believe that their way of life is now over, and the ‘big bad libruls’ are going to make a mess of America. Fox is the enemy here, folks.

          But my 87 y/o mom is wise to and so are others of her age group. Slowly they are realizing the sham that is Fox, and wising up… or I can dream, can’t I?

        • laingirl

          @anniemargaret, thank you. You’re so right about Fox. Many seniors believe everything they hear there and do not separate the commentary (i.e. Hannity) from news (i.e. Sheppard). While a majority of the seniors I know are Fox viewers, I do have several friends in their late 70′s or in their 80′s who think as I do. I was raised to believe that it was impolite to talk about religion, politics and money, so I find it difficult to really discuss such things with those I don’t know really well. I will, however, correct anyone who makes an incorrect statement to me about a political matter, proving to them where they are wrong, and I have “converted” a couple of people in the last two years.

        • angeleno

          There are a lot of really sharp and educated people commenting on these pages. As far as seniors watching Fox, it’s really a rather tricky situation. Nobody wants to correct a senior. It’s really inappropriate.

          Yet – should we just passively watch them vote away our futures? Everyone needs to suffer a bit to solve our problems. Lord knows the young are suffering. And they shall continue suffering. All of us shall continue suffering until our politicians can compromise.

          Compromise. Then ten years to recover. The ten-year period of recovery cannot begin until the Congress and President can compromise.

        • carinthia

          I am 65 and I visit this site primarily to read the comments. The posters here have more intelligent opinions than the writers of the articles in many instances. Definitely the best political site on the net. I am a liberal but I like to know what the other side is thinking. Sometimes they actually make sense. :-)

        • balconesfault

          I grew up in a Republican household … my father was career army (WWII vet), then after retirement (at age 46) taught in Catholic schools for over two decades, as well as being an active Boy Scout leader throughout his adult life (my son is a 3rd generation Eagle).

          A moderate Republican, he felt the party continuously moved away from him in the last decades of his life, and finally in 2008 he was a delegate for Hillary at the county convention, and he was very happy to see Obama get elected. Then again, he was a man who always loved life and embraced new people and new ideas … and unfortuanately, too many people move the opposite direction in their elder years, becoming more fearful then open minded.

  • Lonewolf

    It’s not a quagmire. It’s a crime scene.

    The first rule of blackmail is to never, ever hand over the negatives. That way, the victim becomes a virtual ATM that can be made to spout money on demand, over and over.This is the game the Republicans are playing.

    Never allow a true piece of meaningful, permanent financial legislation to pass. Six month payroll tax cut extension, three month budget extension, two month extension, thirty day extension, always with the qualifier, “But this time, what I want in return is …. ” Wage earners and taxpayers are the perpetual victims of this pathetic Republican criminal class. And in eleven months, they will remember who’s been extorting from them for four years.

  • Oldskool

    This didn’t begin the other day, Republicans have been laying rhetorical IEDs for, lessee, twenty years? Thirty? There’s nothing grand about the Grand Ol Party anymore, it’s a grab-bag of ignorant lowbrows, exactly the kind of party the fat cats have been after.

    Ta da.

  • jdd_stl1

    First, I want to say that I do appreciate that David Frum speaks out against
    the GOP ideology at times like this.

    Second, there is a sure-fire way the House GOP could get the Senate back
    in session. All they have to do is say that the millionaire tax hike is a
    good way to pay for the payroll tax holiday for the year.

  • xconserve

    Why is it that your colleagues have such a difficulty seeing logic as you do?
    Facts seem irrelevant to the the current NEW crop of GOP congresspeople.
    I agree with you that they may well screw up the GOP party for the near future…
    Do they have to take the country with them?
    Remember how Shakespeare said …first, get rid of the lawyers…
    We need to get rid of the fact fracturers like Fox News, Rush, Beck, Coulter, etc. There are some on the left, too.
    Let’s start with a law that says “All Media must be 100% Accurate”.
    Currently Fox defends itself against lawsuits by stating that “they are not required to tell the truth”.
    As long as the new crop of GOP Reps believe their constituents (who listen to Fox), we are in trouble…

    • Traveler

      At least you know what you are getting with Faux. CNN is even worse, as it legitimizes POGer straw men while it is supposedly MSM. Facts need not apply. Cooper is a total dickwad. His performance during Macondo was a counterfactual tour de force, giving a mouthpiece to Jindal and that parish dude to waste $250m on sand barriers that made things worse. Facts and reality don’t matter there. Even the NYT is an equivocating shell of its former self.

  • nhthinker

    WashPost/ABC also now shows Obama at 49% approval: but notice…
    “908a. Would you say your views on most political matters are liberal, moderate, or conservative?

    Liberal 23
    Moderate 36
    Conservative 37
    Don’t think in
    those terms (vol.) 2
    No opinion 2

    Liberal is 2 points higher than Gallup. (Gallup shows Pres approval at only 43%).
    Have liberals really ticked up to 23% of adults? Could be, but that would seem to go against conventional wisdom.

    • balconesfault

      Have liberals really ticked up to 23% of adults? Could be, but that would seem to go against conventional wisdom.

      It would not shock me if the OWS movement was starting to change people’s minds about the term “liberal” … with the basic premise that it’s the 99% against the 1%, and the 1% will always be fighting against any liberal economic agenda that can promote the interests of the 99%.

    • Traveler

      You still don’t get it do you? Very few of us here are supposed “libruhls”. Most of us are moderates that care about our country, not ideologues such as yourself. Combined with liberals, we moderates represent the majority, 59 to 37. Lets be generous and split the last 4%. That’s 61-39 split. And if you think moderates lean conservative any more, the polls suggest otherwise.

      Frankly, I have a pretty dim view of knee jerk politically correct liberals myself, but at least they aren’t trying to destroy our country. OTOH, TP crackers have been having a field day doing so, supported by our spineless media.

      • nhthinker

        I see you calling yourself a moderate, but I have not seen a single posting of yours that would ever actually qualify as moderate…

        [i]Traveler // Aug 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm

        Yeah, these are suck fluid regions that take more from the Fed than they provide.[/i]

        I’ve looked at dozens of postings of you cheerleading liberals making slurs here and not single time seconding a moderate or a conservative POV.

        I think you are just afraid to call yourself a liberal. If you can point to posting where you have attack a liberal with the same gusto that you have for conservatives, would you mind linking to it for me?

        Until that time, I will keep you pegged an a liberal internationalist with special interest in China.

        • indy

          Are you an expert on the accuracy of of self-labeling, ‘thinker’?

        • nhthinker

          I recall, Indy, that you self labeled yourself as a clown.

        • TerryF98

          “thinker” has the label “Birther” and always will have.

        • Traveler

          I don’t especially like liberals (Like their earnestness, but can’t stand their self-righteousness). However, I detest POGers whose only desire is to make life miserable for everyone, including themselves. Guess that makes me a libruhl from your demented perspective. But that is why I wish you idiots would secede. You would be a banana republic within a decade, and the rest of us would be better off without you. So dont confuse my detestation for you clowns as me being liberal. Just another symptom of your faulty logic.

        • nhthinker

          I see you are unwilling to point to a single posting of yours that supports a position of “moderate”. Don’t feel too bad, I could not find one either.

      • AnBr

        Keep in mind that the identity of liberal or conservative is relative. With the right’s constant framing of issues and demonization of liberals, many do not identify themselves as liberal, even when their views, issue by issue tend to be more liberal.

        Even on social issues, the majority of Americans tend to be moderate to liberal. Pew shows that most Americans think that abortion should be legal, even if some of those feel that it should have restrictions. A large majority were in favor ending DADT and recently, a majority believe gay marriages should be allowed.

        Regardless of what people identify themselves as, issue by issue, they tend to be more liberal than their identity would suggest. nh thumps his chest proclaiming how conservative the country is, but at the same time, whines about all of the self identified moderates/ex-Republicans on this blog are really just a bunch of far left radicals.

        • nhthinker

          Moderates do not tend to use extremist slurs. If you are going to plus one every slur of Republicans and conservative and never plus one a slur of Democrats and liberals, then you are probably a liberal… Own up to it.

        • drdredel

          If it’s so important to you for people to self-identify correctly (or to acknowledge when you’ve declared that they’re this that or the other thing), you’re going to have to provide them with a list of issues and have them answer and then do some analysis to see what leaning they seem to exhibit.
          What does liberal mean to you? What does conservative mean to you? and what number of cross-isle positions does one need to take to be a moderate?

          Honestly, what difference does it make? I don’t think of myself in such terms. I’m not afraid of being liberal any more than I’m afraid of being a vegetarian (I believe I’m neither), but the point is that I focus my limited attention span as it pertains to politics on individual issues, and examine them on their merits. Fox News is a channel that is replete with morons and is targeted at the woefully uninformed. Are they “conservative”? For the sake of the conservatives, I surely hope not… hard to see what manner of buffoon would want to be identified with the sort of idiocy that is espoused there. It is not liberal to identify lies as lies. It is simply observant.

          I’m self identifying as an “Observant”. How’s that?

        • Traveler

          Good observation!

  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    My congresswoman, a freshman Republican, voted in favor of the compromise. What a refreshing surprise.

    I had completely forgotten about NoThinker’s birtherism. And he insists he’s not a culture warrior!

    • nhthinker

      Obama eliminated many opponents in his political career based on legal “technicalities”.
      AFAIK, the definition of “natural born citizen” as stated in Article II of the Supreme Court has never been defined. On one potential interpretation, neither Obama nor Rubio qualify.

      • fgtayl01

        You mean except for all the legal precedences and volumes of case law dating back to 1790 it’s never been defined.

        Or do we just throw out all the previous rulings and start over?

        • nhthinker

          What rulings do you refer to?

          Here are legal scholars musings about whether McCain was qualified as an NBC…

          The phrase “natural born citizenship” is semantically inaccessible to modern readers. Because this phrase violates the rule of compositionality, it must be understood as an idiom or term of art. For this reason, gleaning the meaning of the phrase requires us to investigate linguistic practice to recover the original meaning-the meaning of “natural born citizen” at the time of constitutional utterance. When we look for public meaning, we may discover that the division of linguistic labor in the late 18th century takes us to the shared understandings of those learned in the law. We may need to look to eighteenth century linguistic practice to make sense of a phrase that would otherwise be either mysterious or radically ambiguous. For this reason, the natural born citizen clause may illustrate what we might call the “inescapability of originalism”: Some constitutional provisions only make sense after we turn our attention to the way language was used when they were framed and ratified. There is good reason to believe that the natural born citizen clause is one of these provisions.

          But, from the fact that originalism is inescapable, it does not follow that originalism answers all constitutional questions. Grasping the original meaning of the natural born citizen clause may lead us to the conclusion that the constitutional text does not provide the answer to all of our questions about eligibility for the office of President. Constitutional practice may require both interpretation and construction: The original public meaning of the natural born citizen clause may not suffice to answer the question whether John McCain is eligible for the office of President of the United States.

          Obama’s and Rubio’s cases are just as complex.

        • drdredel

          The questions isn’t whether or not Obama is a natural born citizen and by which yardstick we should be examining this matter.

          The question is who gives a flying mother pluck, and what manner of dick-wad is still talking about this? This is a legacy requirement that was put in place to prevent a foreign agent from taking the office of the presidency. It’s as anachronistic as anti Sodomy laws. It says nothing at all about Obama and everything about you. You expose yourself as either a deranged social misfit, unable to recognize when you’ve peed your pants in public, or a racist zealot, unable to recognize that your time passed 50 years ago, and you’ve been left behind.
          Either way you’re an embarrassment.

        • indy

          dr, you’ve come a long way. I still remember your attempts to reason with ‘thinker’ in his intelligent design thread and indirectly admonishing me for mocking him so mercilessly.

        • nhthinker

          Yes, drdredel goes non-linear and irrational and can not reason.
          Most dems and libs did not complain when legal scholars asked if McCain was an NBC.
          It is very clear that that legal issues are quite muddled when it comes to the definition of NBC.
          Which definition would be defined by this relatively conservative Supreme Court? My guess is that they would rather not touch it unless they had to. Since no one with proper legal standing has made the assertion, the Courts have not really addressed it.
          As to your admission: “This is a legacy requirement that was put in place to prevent a foreign agent from taking the office of the presidency. ”
          The same would be true for all the age requirements listed in the Constitution: they are ageist in nature, but they still have the force of law forever until an Amendment would change them.

          Again, Obama worked tirelessly to use technicalities to disqualify opponents of his. Weasely Obamabots do not think what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

          As to my more reasoned and scientifically testable definition of intelligent design: It was on that thread that Indy repeated described himself as a clown.

        • indy

          Here’s a link to the clown thread:

          The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.


        • nhthinker

          Here’s Richard Dawkin’s on the type of ID that NHThinker presented…

          “It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and that it designed a form of life it seeded, perhaps onto this planet. Now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible you might find evidence for that. If you look at the details of biochemistry, of molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.”

          Is Richard Dawkins a fool or a wise man?

          We do know that Indy is a clown.

        • indy

          lol. Only a pea brain like you wouldn’t be able to comprehend that he was offering this in the context of pointing out (yet another) flaw in ID.

        • nhthinker

          Actually Dawkins was talking about the exact same form of ID that I was talking about- the one that you repeated failed to recognize and finally had to start referring to yourself as a clown. You were totally pwn’d on that thread so please keep advertising it.

  • Oldskool

    The “optics” of it look like another jump-the-shark moment for Rs who can’t seem to have too many in one fiscal year. Only a few months ago they thought 2012 was going to be an easy win and now they look like the losers of a Darwinian sweepstakes.

    • TJ Parker

      jump-the-shark moment

      Eggzactly! Tho i think there can be only one such moment, by definition of JTS.

    • drdredel

      I beg to differ (at least in your use of the cultural reference).

      The Fonz’s jumping of the shark was a seminal moment where his actions went from comedically hip and cool to just farcical. The GOP have been engaged in clownish buffoonery for quite some time, and if there was a shark jumping moment, it happened somewhere around Eisenhower.

      In any event, they were never the Fonz to begin with.

      • Baron Siegfried

        In other words, they’re now surfing the shark.

        • jamesj

          I’d say they jumped it a few years ago and are now we’re all being crunched between its jaws. Oh how nice it would be to go back in time a few years to a point where right wing lawmakers were simply embarrassingly silly and not openly playing chicken with disaster.

  • icarusr

    The best response to NHThinker is to be found in this passage from Salon:

    “Even white men without a college degree, who have been one of the toughest groups for this president to win over, give him higher ratings than they have all year. More than 40 percent approve of the job he’s doing, and that number is higher than the share of that demographic group who voted for Obama in 2008. Early this year, only 22 percent of that group approved of the president’s job performance …”


  • WaStateUrbanGOPer

    These wonky threads always seem to degenerate, at some point, into downright tedium. Sometimes they manage to stay interesting because of the opportunity they provide for unwitting self-mockery from wingnuts such as NoThinker, but they always end up eventually in the medicine chest next to the other soporifics. An open thread would provide a nice bit of relief form this.

    All of the regulars here should e-mail the editors and plead for an open thread. It would’ve been great to have one tonight: John Podhoretz’s tweet denouncing Tolkien as a “crashing bore” re-ignited my long-dormant revulsion to that old fraud and his ‘work.’ Reading Podhoretz tweet, I suddenly recalled all the trash talked about Tolkien by Kingsley Amis in his memoirs and in his letters to Philip Larkin. Amis make Tolkien’s lectures out to be even more boring than FrumForum comment threads on fiscal policy.

    • nhthinker

      I second the request for WhinnyUrbanRINO to go post on an open thread to talk about Tolkien.
      He has been very unsatisfied by continuing to make accusations here that he can’t back up and he would obviously be more satisfied by attacking Tolkien because he’s dead and can’t rebut.

      • WaStateUrbanGOPer

        Come late January of 2013 we’ll see who the real ‘RINO’ is between the two of us.

        I bet you consider Kingsley Amis and John Podhoretz to be insufficiently conservative, too, don’t you?

      • WaStateUrbanGOPer

        Well, then: what difference would there be in attacking Tolkein rather than attacking you, seeing that your brain is, in essence, about as dead as he is? Real counterargument is a non-possibility in both instances.

        Sorry if you can’t handle the incontrovertible fact that Tolkein was (and is) a bore. (Amis and Larkin had to take his medieval lit lectures at Oxford, and each found the experience unbearable.) I should’ve figured you for one of those D & D playing creeps who go in big for Lord of the Rings and all that. I’m sure you keep your twelve-sided die safely stowed away in your mother’s basement, probably underneath the tattered old couch you sleep on, right along with your Palin/Bachmann photo scrapbook and your back issues of Soldier of Fortune!

        • drdredel

          I have to agree that Tolkien’s work is unspeakably tedious (not to mention pointless and humorless). You have to give him credit, though, for preventing an inordinate amount of teen pregnancy. For this I thank him.

          And before you attack me for not giving full credit where its due, I realize that teenage pregnancy prevention is something for which we need to distribute gratitude evenly between Tolkien, the Star Trek pantheon and Canadian prog-rockers RUSH, and I’m happy to acknowledge them all.

          However of the three, I think Tolkien gets the largest chunk of thanks.

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          LMFAO. Thanks.

          As much as I detest the Lord of the Rings and other Tolkien books for their ridiculous Christian metaphors and uber-seriousness, I have to concede that The Hobbitt isn’t all that bad. It’s breezily readable; it has a fun and entertaining story; it keeps the Christian piety to a minimum; and unlike every other Tolkien book it is full of good humor.

          That said, I hate to disappoint you, but I must confess: I’m a huge Rush fan. In fact, “Free Will” is my favorite rock song. Rest assured, though, I’ve kept this a well hidden secret from every woman I’ve ever known.

        • nhthinker

          You have failed to address a single argument in any rebuttals. Instead, you timidly change the subject.

          Does Ron Paul believe in family values? Yes or no? You basically asserted that anyone with a concern about family values could not be a libertarian. You are a lightweight in debate. A complete lightweight with a high opinion of yourself.

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          Yeah, sure, Ron Paul believes in “family values,” though hardly in the way that someone like Michele Bachmann or Bryan Fischer does. Unlike them, Ron Paul is sincere, and not (as some lefties have insisted) a bigot.

          I see that my exchange with the good doctor got under your skin. How’s mom’s basement this morning? Cold down there?

        • WaStateUrbanGOPer

          You are the first person who has ever described me– in my writing or in my person– as timid. I frequently find myself in situations in which downright fantastic exertions of will are required for me to hold myself back, to prevent me from writing or saying things which, in their undue boldness, may make me seem forbidding to people. I have never– not once– thought that I needed an extra prod when it came to asserting myself. Your characterization of me as “timid” is really weird.

          Previously, I though you just a garden variety wingnut, but you really are just totally unmoored from reality.

      • WaStateUrbanGOPer

        Here’s another potentially great discussion we will probably not have because FF lacks on open thread feature: apparently, Newt Gingrich told a gay man at one of his Iowa campaign events that he didn’t want his vote, and that he should vote for Obama.

        If the goal of this blog is to modernize the Republican party, one of its contributing editors needs to address this incident. Or bring back the FF News feed, so that it can be discussed there.

        • drdredel

          I don’t have much to say on the specific incident you mention (the biggest question there is, what gay person in their right mind would ever consider voting for the modern GOP? If ever your children ask “what is Stockholm syndrome?”… there’s your gift wrapped answer, right there), but I agree wholeheartedly that what is sorely lacking form this site is a place for the regular posters to post their own title threads. There are frequently really important news that I really want to discuss that aren’t mentioned here and I feel awkward derailing non-related topics on tangents.

          Oh, and between the ages of 14 and 17 Rush was absolutely my favorite band, and I still have a very warm place in my heart for them, and in fact, I have a completely bizarre story that involves a gorgeous (stripper) friend-with-benefits, a 25 year old teenage fantasy finally realized, New World Man, and the heart breaking realization that there is simply no place, no matter what the circumstances where Rush and coitus go together; Ever.

          So… we’re squarely on the same page when it comes to Rush.

          But still… they’re masters of social contraception. :)

  • Secessionist

    I haven’t read the comments. That said, David Frum is on the money on this one. This episode has all the elements of a farce that could turn tragic. The most likely outcome next year will be Barack Obama in the White House and the GOP in charge of at least one and possibly both chambers. Either way, the net effect will be more of the same. The most disappointing part to me is that it now looks like Obama has his excuse to move on the Keystone pipeline.

    I don’t think this particular episode of gridlock can be fairly ascribed to GOP House intransigence. The GOP has the House in the first place because Obama lost the midterms (or rather his proxies did). They’re under no obligation to just cave on everything the Democrats want. Also, unless I’m mistaken, the Republicans wanted to make this payroll tax cut permanent last year.

    • balconesfault

      Also, unless I’m mistaken, the Republicans wanted to make this payroll tax cut permanent last year.

      I think that Republicans want to make the payroll tax cut permanent by simply eliminating Social Security and Medicare …

      But no – I don’t remember that. Does anyone? Personally I think the payroll tax needs to be around when the economy is in better condition. And even now, I think that the payroll tax cut is a poor substitute for other stimulus measures, like more direct spending on infrastructure and education by the government.

    • indy

      So, Senate Republicans negotiate a deal AT THE REQUEST OF HOUSE REPUBLICANS, and then the House backs out of the deal, but to you that’s Republicans standing on principle?

      Remind me never to take a job where you are my colleague, not that I think that’s a real possibility mind you.

      • Secessionist

        I haven’t followed the exact daily details and developments on this one. But even if your characterization is correct, people are still losing sight of how we got into this farce in the first place. The bottom line is that if Obama did a better job his first year and a half in office, the GOP would still be marginalized and irrelevant.

        • Baron Siegfried

          Obama’s biggest mistake – and one I blame on the fact that he was a college professor before getting into politics – was that he naively thought that the GOP would work with him on dealing with the crisis that lay before us. He was totally taken by surprise and continually failed to see until apparently quite recently that he brought a bible to a knife fight. He ran on a platform of health care reform, and was elected with that mandate.

          However, were he the Machiavellian political mastermind that the GOP likes to make him out to be, he would have utilized his supermajority in the house ruthlessly while he could. As it was, he contorted into just about every shape needed to get through his agenda. Which is a really rather impressive one, given the conditions he faced when sworn in and the visceral hatred of the TP –, and if you want to see what slurs were being cast upon him, go check out Snopes . . .

  • jdd_stl1

    Even the WSJ thinks the GOP has botched this one.

    I’ve also seen somewhere but I can’t find it now that an anonymous GOP source
    said that Boehner started the GOP conference call in favor of the 2-month
    compromise but Cantor opposed it and things went Cantor’s way.
    Is this whole thing really about a power play between Boehner and Cantor?
    Seems like Cantor is the real power and Boehner is only the face.
    I can’t find my reference where that source was quoted. Sorry. Still looking
    for it.

    • Slide

      Its referenced in a CNN report which in part said:

      “Boehner appears to have reversed himself since a conference call with caucus members Saturday, when he was the only House Republican leader to express support for the Senate plan, according to a GOP source.

      The source said Boehner described the Senate vote as “a good deal” and “a victory” in the conference call. For his part, the speaker insisted Tuesday that he raised concerns about the Senate plan when he first heard of it.”

      Rachel Maddow does a recurring piece on her show about how bad Boehner is at his job. This is but one more example. He has zero control over his own caucus.

  • Slide

    How enjoyable to read a thread where nothinker once again exposes himself to be the ideological moron that we all grew to love during his Birther and Intelligent Design sermons. What is that old saying? “give him enough rope. . . ”

    tell us again, nothinker, how Intelligent Design has more scientific credence than evolution. That is one of my very favorites.

    • WaStateUrbanGOPer

      I was really bored last night, so I figured, Why not?

      My colloquy with NH#1_Lobotomy_Patient totally saved my night from the epic fail it seemed destined to be. Though the next time I find myself in similar straits I think I’ll just watch old youtube episodes of Jenna Marbles instead, as that doesn’t require a cold shower afterwards.

  • Slide

    The three latest polls, which cover the period through December 18th, show significant improvement in Obama’s approval. Mind you now that these polls don’t factor in the very recent meltdown of Republicans on the Payroll Tax cut.

    There were some that said that having the Republicans take back the House with all those TP members was a blessing in disguise for Obama. It is clear that they were right. Thank-you Tea Party for demonstrating quite clearly what you stand for. Elections are not referendums, they are choices. The Tea Party is making it easy for most Americans in that regard. All except nothinker of course but hey how can you convince someone that doesn’t believe in evolution?

    CNN shows a 5% increase (44% to 49%)
    ABC/Washington Post shows a 5% increase (44% to 49%)
    CBS shows a 3% increase (44% to 47%)

  • Sinan

    Obama will be re-elected for one simple reason: Americans are not interested in suicide. Every sane voter regardless of party will come to the same decision eventually. The GOP is now the party of insane people and is behaving irrationally and irresponsibly. It used to be the exact opposite. The GOP brand used to be of competence, diligence and a sure hand. The nation will never vote itself into calamity just because some radio jock told them. I have more faith in us as rational observers to believe that this crop of right wing leaders will ever gain the confidence of a majority of Americans. This election is done. The only issue now is how many seats the Tea Party loses across the board.

    • Slide

      “This election is done. The only issue now is how many seats the Tea Party loses across the board.”

      As much as I hope you are correct, I wouldn’t be so confident. It is a LONG LONG way till November and lots can happen. One thing about the American public is that they have incredibly short memories.

      That being said I think Obama and the Dems are setting the table exactly right. The issues raised by the OWS resonates out in America and Obama is playing that “income disparity” and fighting for the middle class theme brilliantly. He is of course assisted by the Republicans which seem to be more than willing to be seen in the pockets of the 1%. The trap is being laid and the GOP is not only walking into it but they seem determined to dive into it at warp speed. Go figure.

      • nhthinker

        It’s obvious that Slide’s thinking is purely wishful and not backed up by objective survey results.

        Next year’s election could end up being all about Europe. If Europe is seen as declining next year and looking for American support (bailouts), the Democrats and the President will be savaged: this punishment will be independent of whether the US economy has a slight uptick.

        Clearly, the Fed will try to help Europe as clandestinely as possible: as it was done in the recent past. Next year, it is likely to blow up in the President’s face.

    • jamesj

      The majority of average folks don’t vote based on rational analysis. They vote based on fear, anger, denial, jealousy, and other emotional baggage that is easily manipulated by politicians and the media. I wish the world worked the way you describe, but it never has and likely never will.

      So a lot depends on the actions of those who do think deeper about political issues, especially those who take on the responsibility to serve in government. When those who serve rise to the occasion, the country rises. When those who serve fail to exhibit good judgement and fail to take their solemn responsibilities seriously, so goes the rest of the country.

      What we are seeing now is one political party’s purposeful dismantling of trust in our collective power to act as a nation. This is a full-blown war against the legitimacy of national institutions. They’ve been working on this project for a while now, but it used to just be the wacko wing of the party, not the rank and file sitting in the halls of Congress. I think a lot of people are waking up to the grim magnitude of the situation and its too late to do anything about it now. We’re in for a bumpy ride that could last a generation. And the common voter, having little time to truly understand these complex issues and being quite vulnerable to simplistic fear-mongering, is in no position to save us from this self-afflicted wound.

    • Jack E. Lope

      There are 10 months and about $2 billions between now and voting day. Many generations of chickens will hatch in that time, and it’s too early to count them.