Archives for October, 2009
The health care reform debate has been brutal. The insurance companies, right wing media and the Republican Party have spreading myriad lies and distortions about the public option and
Rachel Maddow talks to Steve Benen about the Republican infighting going on in the New York 23rd District's special election. As Steve noted yesterday:
Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd continues to pick up endorsements from leading right-wing figures. Yesterday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) bucked his party and threw his support to Hoffman. Reps. Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Dana Rohrabacher of California did the same thing.
Transcript from MSNBC.
MADDOW: This is Betsy Markey. She‘s the Democratic member of Congress representing Colorado‘s fourth district. Betsy Markey got elected to that seat last November when she defeated a three-term, very far-right Republican incumbent named Marilyn Musgrave.
Even Colorado‘s—even as Colorado was thought of as a pretty safe Republican territory, the incumbent Republican, Ms. Musgrave, just got clobbered by the Democrat in this race. She lost by 12 points, wasn‘t even close.
This race is ringing a bell for you maybe because it‘s the only House race from the last election that we were still covering a week after the election was over, because not only did Marilyn Musgrave make news for being a conservative Republican who got trounced in what was supposed to be a safe seat, on this show at least, Ms. Musgrave also made news because even a week after she lost, she still hadn‘t conceded the race, nor had she called to congratulate Betsy Markey who beat her.
We called Betsy Markey‘s office today and confirm that even now, almost a year after that election, Republican Marilyn Musgrave still hasn‘t conceded the race. It‘s possible she still thinks she‘s in Congress.
Well, today, in “The New York Times,” we learned that one of the things Marilyn Musgrave is up to now is campaigning in a New York congressional race that‘s attracted a whole host of ambitious conservatives to rail against the locally-chosen Republican in the race in favor of a more conservative candidate.
Joe Lieberman proves he's independent of his Connecticut constituents by opposing a public option in health care reform.
If you don't read anything else about Afghanistan, make sure that this NY Times article on President Karzai's brother is the one you read. It's a very interesting piece, and has implications far beyond the immediate shock waves that it will inevitably cause.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.
These military and political officials say the evidence, though largely circumstantial, suggests strongly that Mr. Karzai has enriched himself by helping the illegal trade in poppy and opium to flourish. The assessment of these military and senior officials in the Obama administration dovetails with that of senior officials in the Bush administration.
Now the fact that Mr. Karzai is profiting both from the drug trade and from supporting the CIA's operations is not in and of itself particularly amazing or outlandish to most people who understand the Afghani culture and who have to demonstrate short-term progress against the Taliban. A former CIA intel officer is quoted in the article:
“Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade,” he said. “If you are looking for Mother Teresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.”
The CIA has a long record of supporting bad actors in the name of getting intelligence or achieving progress against other countries whose goals are inimical to US interests, and that may be understandable in some situations, except when that practice runs counter to official US policy in those particular regions. The brother to the president of Afghanistan uses his position to profit from the drug trade and also is a prime suspect in trying to fix the election (in a disappointingly transparent and amateurish fashion). That might be acceptable except for the fact that he's not helping the US government advance its efforts to stabilize the country.
Our government's goals do not align with the brothers Karzai's goals. Mr. Karzai's interests are to protect the drug lords in the south provinces, who in turn pay and rely on the Taliban for protection. Those are the same provinces where US, British, and other forces are fighting and dying every day. Until the current Afghani government is replaced by a legitimate group which has a real desire to advance the Afghani people's needs and interests, there is no way that a strategy based on COIN tactics will work. And if there is no way that COIN tactics will work, then there is no reason to support Gen. McChrystal's request for 40,000+ additional troops.
Of course, there is the possibility that our government's actual goal is to develop Afghanistan into "a horrific, full-fledged quagmire by 2012."
(This is a follow-up on Heather's earlier post on same subject)
I know I shouldn't feed the ego that is Lieberman, but do you want to know how awesome Joe is, Mr. President?
Is he the greatest senator ever? He fought for victory in Iraq, he's fighting for victory in Afghanistan, and he's fighting to save us all from Obamacare. Who needs Olympia Snowe when you've got Joementum?
Posted by Michael Goldfarb on October 27, 2009.
And we must never forget TNR's love for Joe.
And key Democrats correct Lieberman on the fiscal awesomeness of the public option. Are you listening, Joe?
I wonder how Connecticut feels since they support the public option by a wide margin:
Connecticut voters support 64 - 30 percent giving people the option to buy health insurance from a government plan.
Maybe it'll be Palin/Lieberman 2012 for this new crowd of voters.
Dean Baker makes an astute observation:
Okay, I'm not on vacation, but this is a BTP flashback. My original write-up of this NYT news article was way too positive. This article was essentially a diatribe against Germany's welfare state. To make its case, it turned an incredible success story -- Germany's relatively low unemployment rate -- into a failure.
The basic deal is that Germany adopted an explicit policy of encouraging employers to shorten work hours rather than lay off workers. The government allows unemployment benefits to be used to pay workers to cover most of the loss in wages due to the shorter workweek.
As a result, Germany's unemployment rate has barely changed in the downturn. Its unemployment rate at present is 7.7 percent. This is down from 7.8 percent earlier in the year. Germany's unemployment rate in 2007 was 8.4 percent, 0.7 percentage points higher than the current level.
This is an incredible success story. Imagine Barack Obama's approval rating if the unemployment rate today was anywhere close to its 4.7 percent average for 2007. Think of the millions of unemployed workers who would not be struggling to pay their rent or mortgages or meet other bills if only our leaders were as smart as Germany's leaders. We could do something along the same lines in the U.S.
But NYT readers will be spared such thoughts because the article described the policy as a complete failure. To make its case, the NYT even used the German government's measurement of unemployment (which counts part-time workers as being unemployed) rather than the harmonized OECD measure that is directly comparable to the unemployment data in the United States.
This was not news reporting.
Dean is one of the best economists we have.