|Comment count is 51|
|Binro the Heretic |
If only he wasn't one hundred and seventy seven years old.
"given his performance in that Daily News interview"
I read the Daily News interview that is currently being used to discredit his career. It's rather telling that a few less than strident answers on some rather obscure fastballs gets more attention than all the fucking horrible shit that Hilary Clinton has done. I'm not saying that politicians should not be probed, it's just a little unbalanced. Clinton is clearly the media's favorite, especially on her home turf. Seriously, look at home much press this interview is getting right now.
Does anybody sit down and ask, "So, Hilary, you were appointed as a board member at Walmart in the 80s. How do you propose to convince small businesses that you are concerned with them, and how do you convince low pay workers that you actually care about them given the anti-union, low wage culture of that company?" That's the kind of question that the Daily News should be asking Clinton, but instead they just ask her how she likes to spend her vacations. Why? Because they want to be able to ride on Airforce One and get the good seats. They are hedging their bets against Sanders, so all bets are off. As the only thing Sanders can hope for now is a miracle in California, it's looking like they'll get their wish.
I love the interview ended with Daily News asking "How long were you mayor of Vermont?"
"Clinton is clearly the media's favorite"
you are so sheltered and delusional. This one statement makes everything else you say irrelevant.
Shhh SolRo, you silly joke.
because its based completely on a perceived persecution complex
sorry, since it's baleen, I should have put 'crying-bitch entitlement complex'
baleen - I will grant you that the media tends to focus on the wrong things when it comes to Hillary, usually trumped-up scandals or insinuations of corruption. That doesn't excuse Sanders sounding like he's still trying to figure out his positions in the middle of an interview, several months into the primary.
All this time, Sanders' supporters have been demanding more media exposure for their candidate. I've been waiting for it too, because I think the country needs to see how unprepared he is to deal with all the things a POTUS has to. Bernie really wants to be President of Single Payer, but there is no such job.
Gmork - If indeed Bernie is the people's (left wing) favorite, why is he losing to Hillary?
He ought to be able to discuss his policies intelligently. I remember that the defense of Dubya back in the day was that, even if he is a know-nothing, we can always surround him with good advisers; how'd that turn out?
But even if you want to give Bernie a pass on not knowing anything about the Middle East, his answers on Wall Street show that he is no expert in his area of expertise. Bernie simply suspects laws exist to prosecute Wall Street, but he doesn't know which ones? That's the best he's got? You'd think he'd know how he'd go after them and why. Remember, he is campaigning for the Presidency on this.
The nicest yet truest thing I've read about Bernie comes from a comment on slate.com:
This is what a doctrinaire, old Socialist looks like. He knows what he hates and what he loves. But not much else. He is also does not trust experts. Why on earth does someone running on a platform of radical financial reform not have an economic advisory team? Because he does not trust experts - because they do not give him the answers he wants to hear.
When I was a younger man, I briefly joined an organization of Socialists like Sanders. Good people, with deep feeling for the less fortunate in society. But also in love with simplistic explanations. It is all about evil men doing bad things to good people. The alternative of complex systems run by fallible men, some venal and corrupt, some not, yielding sub-optimal outcomes is unsatisfying to them. It lacks a villain.
Not submission material, but this covers the Daily News fiasco better than I could:
Also you know that without superdelegates factored in, Clinton already needed more than 100% of the remaining delegates BEFORE Wisconsin, right?
The thing that really worries me about a Clinton presidency is that she would quite possibly have a chance to appoint as many as 3 or 4 supreme court justices during her term in office, and while they'd be a hell of a lot better than anything the Republican candidates would do it's still likely that they would be more sympathetic to neoliberal economics, globalization and corporate interests in general than I am comfortable with. Those supreme court seats are the single most important short-to-medium term concern with this election as far as I'm concerned, and will have a profound effect on me and my generation (which is most of us) until we're well into retirement age (assuming people still get to retire 40 years from now, which might not be an option and the supreme court nominees over the next term or two will again be a big determining factor there).
OZ - I skimmed through your video, and these guys are spinning mightily to defend Bernie all right. But even if some of their defenses hold up -- for example, Obama's DoJ didn't prosecute because they were too "risk averse" -- Bernie should have been able to say exactly that and he should have been able to pinpoint what laws various executives broke.
But here is the hard truth that Bernie doesn't face because he wouldn't like it: a great deal of what went on to nearly crash the economy was perfectly legal, and even where illegal activities occurred, it's pretty tough to prove that any given individuals were criminally culpable.
There's a lot more wrong with Bernie pursuing "too big to fail" -- for example, the problem is risk not institution size, and a dozen small institutions making bad decisions could cause all the damage of a single large institution -- but Bernie knows he hates big banks, and so his policy can be summed up as: "BERNIE SMASH!"
Just a historical artifact I wanted to drop off. It used to be that we expected Democratic presidents to have a command of facts; Obama's got it and Bill Clinton had it, while neither Dubya nor Reagan could find their asses with both hands. And Jimmy Carter ... ? The man knew every topic under the sun from peanut farming to nuclear engineering; they even took to making fun of his universal expertise on SNL:
Bort do you ever actually watch or read anything you disagree with, or do you just skim it?
I'll watch something I disagree with if it seems to be making a good case, and by the end of it I might even get to agreeing with it, or at least modifying my beliefs. For example, I have been persuaded in favor of reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates; I didn't start out there but by the end of one of his essays he'd made his case well enough to turn my head around.
The guys in your video don't seem to be making a good case, just spinning for Bernie. I read enough of that already.
For these guys to win me over they'd have to make the case that a good presidential candidate doesn't need to have a solid command of the facts -- even those in his alleged area of expertise -- and that's a non-starter with me.
Outside of Crass's argument, Bort's last observation is perhaps the most compelling case against the Bern. For indeed, he is a bit befuddled and probably would not make a good president as such. However, I expect the democrats to at least pay some lip service to that archaic notion of democracy and recognize what a lot of the party proles are telling you: Hillary Clinton is just not going to improve their lives much. I would even go so far as to say, they would have better luck with Donald Trump in that regard. I suspect we'll see that dynamic if Trump is able to pull off his end run around the establishment republicans and take the nomination. I expect he'll beat Hillary handily, the same way Ronald Reagan clobbered Jimmy Carter.
Bort, Sanders has an economic team, he just won't reveal it. The political reason for this isn't that "he doesn't know or care about economics," or that, like the comment you post, he genuinely believes in a simplistic good vs. evil of proletariat vs. corporations shpiel. Sanders is a well-versed Social Democrat who knows exactly what he's doing, he's a career politician after all. Nothing about his rhetoric is unusual when compared to the rest of the world, from Japan to France, where Socialist International party affiliates are active and routinely win elections.
There's the Bernie Sanders the populist and the Bernie Sanders the seasoned politician who let the F-35 into Vermont and made his way onto the fucking Budget Committee and the Joint Economic Committee.
The reason Sanders may not be revealing Stiglitz and Warren outright is similar to the reason Clinton and Trump don't allow their entire platforms to be dissected. It takes away from their momentum. If you show the world a ten-point plan, you then open the door for every single partisan hack to dissect every single thing you do, when what you really want is to be on the offensive, not defending your ideas.
This is why Clinton can steal Sanders populist lightning by berating Citizens United without actually coming up with a "sensible plan" to be done with it. Sanders has successfully put Wall Street regulation back on the air. I believe it would be completely invisible if it was just Clinton vs. Trump/Cruz.
Besides, no matter who is elected, they will have a hard time passing anything. What we're voting on is the platform, it's what kind of ideas we want on the surface. Clinton will continue a neo-liberal tradition of representing the party of regulating the Republicans. It's a horrible step backwards after all the work Obama did dismantling the Reagan legacy.
This just in from WaPo which sheds more light on the DN interview and on Bernie's actual plans.
"Sanders is a well-versed Social Democrat who knows exactly what he's doing"
I am less sold on this than you are. I think he knows enough to identify problems with the system, but not quite bright enough to come up with good solutions; he has a preference for difficult but symbolically potent approaches rather than expedient ones.
We already talked a little about how breaking up Too Big To Fail banks really doesn't solve the problem and the main thing it does is let BERNIE SMASH! something he doesn't like. Let's take single payer vs. the public option as another example. While Congress has never been anywhere near willing to pass single payer, we were within one Senator of a public option a few years ago; and seeing how a public option would potentially offer all the benefits of single payer, an achievement-minded person might conclude a public option is a smarter goal. Bernie, though? I think he's so enamored of going BERNIE SMASH! to private insurance companies that he insists on doing things the hard way (i.e., single payer).
And as I've mentioned, for a guy who saw single payer fail right in his back yard, he sure seems uninterested in solving the medical cost issues that killed Green Mountain. (Bernie's single payer proposal deals with this simply by taxing Wall Street to pay for whatever can't be covered by premiums; that might work if medical costs rise only very slowly, but that's not the pattern we've seen.)
Anaxagoras - thanks! I read your post in its entirety, multiple times, and have hired an orphan child to read it to me every hour on the hour.
What I don't like about Bernie, in a nutshell, is that he's more concerned with destinations than he is with paths to get there, and he looks askance at anyone who instead picks destinations according to available paths. Let's take TARP, which I love with all my heart because it saved the economy and even turned a profit. Would it have been nice if TARP had focused more on relief to struggling homeowners? Sure. But given the short amount of time we had to act, and the political difficulties we had getting anything at all done (the House Republicans were so reluctant to engage in domestic spending that it took some convincing to get them to save even the banks), I say we were lucky to get the TARP we got.
PoE-News's Sean Robinson was a firsthand witness to how much work it took to get TARP to pass; he wrote an account of it which is, at this point, commemorated only in a dead link in this article:
Bernie Sanders famously voted against TARP, because, for all the good it would do, it wasn't everything he wanted. I say that was an incredibly unrealistic way for Bernie to look at the situation, and every time Hillary dings him for voting against saving the auto workers' jobs, I cheer her for it. Bernie's choice was either to help the country or to punish Wall Street, and he chose the latter over the former. Wrong call.
There was this guy, candidate Barack Obama. Remember him? It's been 8 years, but think back. He also made a lot of promises he couldn't ( and didn't ) keep. This is called campaigning.
You keep bringing up this thing about single payer. Well, here's the thing. In any business negotiation, you _never_ start with the reasonable request. Instead, you ask for everything. Sun, moon, starts, their wife and first born. Then the other side howls and moans, then proposes you pay them for the service of accepting your offer. This fucking bullshit goes on and on for some time, until finally ( but not often ) you end up at that reasonable position any normal person would have just agreed to off the bat. Why? Beats me with a stick. I've come to appreciate though that for a great many people, this is how they get off, so that's what happens. It's what I loathe so much about business in general. It's how four year olds conduct themselves. Which is why Donald Trump so often comes off sounding like a four year old. It's not that he's dumb, it's just how business people expect things to be done.
OW - your model of negotiation works only if the other side wants to meet you in the middle. That's fine if you're negotiating the price of rugs, where both buyer and seller agree on the general shape of the outcome (money and rugs changing hands) but are each trying to get the best deal. That doesn't work if you're trying to convince Republicans to support single payer: they're happy without it, how are you going to sell them on something they don't even want?
Same with TARP. Of course the other side will say "The sky is falling. We must act NOW. No time to think, no time to debate options, the only thing we can do is this one thing, exactly as we say, RIGHT NOW".
Bern, being a more experienced negotiator, said "Fuck you, bubbie." That's good negotiating. Folding like a cheap suit? Not so much. This was always my concern with Barack Obama, and sadly he hasn't done much to alleviate it. He's a good man and a good president, and I will miss him. But he is a piss poor negotiator. He's too adult.
Bort: you are missing my point. Bernie _starts_ by demanding single payer. In fact, he should add that he wants it to paid solely by a tax on the sale of financial instruments.
The other side howls, and sez they want to kill the weaker citizens to strengthen the herd.
This goes on for an interminable time, and eventually you get the public option.
Now let's say Bernie start with the public option, as you say. What we'll end up with is a promise that, in exchange for dropping public funding of health care, the other side won't kill all sick and crippled people to strenghen the herd.
Except Bernie is aiming for single payer itself, he's not hoping to scale it down to a public option. But even if he were willing to negotiate it down, the reality remains that the Republicans 1) don't want any new health care initiatives and 2) can block them effortlessly.
If I ask you for 00, will you give it to me? Not unless I give you something to make it worth your while, I should imagine. I have no claim to your 00 and I have no power to wrest it from you, so that 00 is going to stay in your possession for however long you want it to. I can't get it from you by asking for 00.
Really? How do you know this? Because he asserts it? That is exactly how a good negotiator starts. In fact, that you believe he is completely inflexible on his position is exactly where he need to be to conclude a successful negotiation for what you actually want. If anything, I want him to be more extreme. Throw in a bunch of stuff about retroactively prosecuting officials and health care executives for some ridiculous reason. The more ridiculous, the better. Maybe harvesting the organs of the wealthy to keep the poor alive. That sort of thing. Insane, terrifying stuff.
I'm sorry, I sincerely wish things were different. But we're stuck with talking monkeys here, and this is how it is. At least in every business negotiation I've ever had to suffer.
I do agree though, the time for all this was a few years ago when the health care bill was being drafted. The barn door is open, and that horse has already gone. Still, a good salesman could overcome that challenge. On that point I think Bernie might be very weak. He's seems a good negotiator, but a poor salesman.
If Bernie isn't sincere about single payer, then we can trust nothing he says and all discussion about him is moot. Therefore any semi-worthwhile discussion of Bernie has to assume he is sincere about wanting single payer.
I spoke of paths earlier, and I've occasionally spoken of my love for Barney Frank. Here is Barney Frank talking about single payer:
If I were Bernie Sanders' mother, I would constantly berate him with "why can't you be more like that nice Barney Frank?"
Getting off topic a little, but Green Mountain failed because they had a governor that caved to political pressure. They never even tried it.
They couldn't pitch the tax increases, they were worried about how to cover out of state workers, and a variety of other problems.
It may never come back, but it's hard to fault a system that never got off the ground. It's not the first time the will of the people has been torpedoed by elected leaders in crisis mode.
It's preaching to the choir, but plenty of developed nations use single-payer, including us. I was using Washington's Medicaid backed Coordinated Care/Apple One system, which is for all intents and purposes free health care, and it worked just fine for me.
Sanders voted against TARP when they rolled the auto industry into it. He voted for an auto bailout as an independent bill (B). My apologies to the invisible bureaucrats in Sean's post and to all the hard work it took Frank to put together TARP, but it was a shitty bailout package. What Sanders did was hardly different than what FDR would have done: Put the stranglehold on banks and then bail out industry.
I'm not really sure why I'm putting so much into this since Clinton is clearly the candidate and I have thought this would be the case since Bernie went into the race, as I've said here on poetv over and over again. It seems we're just spitballing. I think Clinton's just going to be another Democrat-as-Republican-regulator, a boring Tony Blair neoliberal with liberal social policies. I find her entirely boring and not what we need right now.
"Getting off topic a little, but Green Mountain failed because they had a governor that caved to political pressure. They never even tried it.
They couldn't pitch the tax increases, they were worried about how to cover out of state workers, and a variety of other problems.
It may never come back, but it's hard to fault a system that never got off the ground. It's not the first time the will of the people has been torpedoed by elected leaders in crisis mode."
But but but but but single payer is supposed to be super cheap! Why was Vermont looking at a 9% increase in sales taxes and an 11.5% increase in payroll taxes just to cover it? I can't fault single payer in concept, and I certainly can't fault the Vermont governor who was actually figuring out what would be required for single payer to be solvent. The problem lies on the other side of the equation -- medical costs in the US that far outstrip what other nations are dealing with -- and until we fix that, neither private insurance nor a public option nor single payer will be universal, high-quality, and inexpensive. Pick two and be prepared to take your lumps over the third.
"Sanders voted against TARP when they rolled the auto industry into it. He voted for an auto bailout as an independent bill (B)."
Well poor poor Bernie Sanders doesn't always get the luxury of clean bills that are 100% what he wants or 0% what he wants. With or without the auto bailout as part of it, Bernie should have voted for TARP.
"My apologies to the invisible bureaucrats in Sean's post and to all the hard work it took Frank to put together TARP, but it was a shitty bailout package."
On the contrary, it did what it was intended to and it even turned a profit. If you want more from a bailout package, well, make sure there are fewer Republicans in Congress.
"What Sanders did was hardly different than what FDR would have done: Put the stranglehold on banks and then bail out industry."
Really? Because I could have sworn that FDR bolstered the banks, made sure deposits were insured, and then opened them up to the public. TARP, likewise, bolstered and restructured the banks as needed, made sure they could recover, and we're where we are today. And FDR too got a lot of heat from the Left for being too pro-wealthy.
Sanders' approach comes a lot closer to what Herbert Hoover did: let the banks rot.
Bort, thank you for some very cogent responses. It's nice this is happening. I have a lot to say about health care/single-payer. This might not be the thread for me to unload. I've done a lot of fair amount of writing on the subject.
So sticking with TARP and banks, yes, you are correct that FDR "saved the banks," but not in the same way TARP did. His solutions came with some very tight regulations and low ceilings, to the point that his Administration practically took the banks over. After all, FDR was the guy that dismantled the gold standard and passed Executive Order 6102, prohibiting people from HAVING LOTS OF GOLD, and that included banks. Can you imagine if somebody had pitched that today? It's not quite fair, because a POTUS these days doesn't have near the power that FDR was blessed with, for better or worse.
I understand your sympathies are rooted in realpolitik, and there's nobody that admires a good compromise more than I. I have to say that I believe TARP was the lowball proposition. I think we could have done way better, Republicans in Congress or otherwise. Actually, it was a time where the standing President had so much political capital that he could have completely restructured the financial system.
Dodd-Frank is a good start, but banks are still over-leveraging, they're still fucking around with risky derivative markets. And why shouldn't they? If they fuck up, they'll get a inflationish interested megaloan to cover their losses if they ever torpedo the system again. TARP really is just a continuation of the climate of hand slapping and long leashes that multinational banks have been allowed to operate in since the 80s.
We DID need leadership against TARP in the same way we needed leadership against the Iraq War. It is sometimes really necessary to buck the system and stick to principles, really, it's the only way things ever change.
FWIW, I really like that Bort is upfront & honest in admitting when he skims something, rather than pretending like he examined it closely & found it wanting.
In fact, I appreciate Bort's anti-Sanders posts in general, even though I don't agree with them. Hell, I'm still not 100% sure why he's so anti-Sanders, even though he's tried to directly answer that a couple times."
Agreed completely. Many of Bort's posts have led me to read up on different areas of Sanders' platform and history that have ended up strengthening my support of him.
baleen - to be sure, there's no way they could even think of forcibly buying up people's gold today. The Right would rail against it of course. But the Left would denounce it as just another bone thrown to banks, to pressure the common man into putting his assets into financial institutions and thus lining the fat-cats' pockets.
Please post more about single payer if you like. It's one of those topics where I'd like to see more intelligent commentary, rather than the standard faith-based insistence that all we need to do is pass single payer and then we're done.
It's worth pointing out that even the NY Times, not exactly a hotbed of leftism or Sanders support, disputes the common reading of the Daily News interview:
Bort: you keep insisting that we can't have single payer until we cut medical costs. So how do you propose to do this? Currently, as individuals, we have zero leverage with the medical industry. All we can do is not purchase the services, which is a non-starter given what is actually being sold ( your good health ). Please spell this one out for me.
OTOH, I have a simple and very effective plan, based on the material I posted above. Day 1. Federal government expands medicare to include everyone. Day 2. Federal government stops by Big Pharma Company X and sez "We need 200 million doses of drug Y. Here's what we're willing to pay. If you don't like it, we'll find another vendor and you can go fuck yourself". Day 3. We get cheaper drug prices. Wash, rinse and repeat as necessary.
On medical costs, I would start by regulating the list prices hospitals set before negotiating prices downward. The legendary aspirin is priced as such to account for a few things: material cost to the hospital, overhead involved with delivering that aspirin, and giving hospitals some bargaining room so it can be negotiated down to, say, ##CONTENT##.25 with insurance companies. But ultimately the prices are set without any rhyme or reason. I would like to see regulation to justify how those prices are set; negotiation can still be part of the process, but if new regulations require hospitals to allow no more than __% overhead and no more than __% profit, that will bring prices downward.
Administrative costs in the US are much more than they are in Canada or elsewhere too; the regulations I just spitballed would work to slim administrative costs down.
Prior to Reagan, there were a lot of non-profit hospitals; you can see echoes of that in their names, in that many hospitals named after saints were non-profits set up by the Catholic Church. I'm curious what incentives could be offered to entice hospitals flip back to non-profit; tax cuts used to b e a big part of that, but maybe the genie is out of the bottle and there's no going back.
"OTOH, I have a simple and very effective plan, based on the material I posted above. Day 1. Federal government expands medicare to include everyone."
Bear in mind that Medicare is currently cheap because it's not universal: only ~15% of the population can actually use Medicare at any given time. We all pay into it, though. Just putting everyone on Medicare raises some big solvency questions.
Also, it's not exactly great coverage; it involves significant copays.
"Day 2. Federal government stops by Big Pharma Company X and sez "We need 200 million doses of drug Y. Here's what we're willing to pay. If you don't like it, we'll find another vendor and you can go fuck yourself". Day 3. We get cheaper drug prices. Wash, rinse and repeat as necessary."
That may work pretty well with generic drugs, but not so much with drugs where Big Pharma Company X's patent hasn't expired. We'd have to regulate pricing on drugs rather than go for a free-market solution.
Bear in mind, the entity issuing and enforcing that drug patent is the same entity that is negotiating with the drug company. So day 4, in the event that company X balks, is the president getting on national TV and explaining how US citizens can't have their life saving drug because of the greed and avarice of company X. Then, the fed sez to company X "If you refuse to budge on this, our only choice will be to promulgate new rules carving out an exception for newly patented drugs reducing the time of patent coverage, say in half". After the entire industry returns from the cleaners ( because boy will their underwear be brown ) _tremendous_ pressure will be brought on company X by it's peers to rethink their position.
Hell, even without all those histronics, the loss of US market share due to the companies refusal to do business will be sufficient to compel them to do the right thing.
Actually, just the public acknowledgement of refusal will cause their stock price to drop like a paralyzed falcon, and they will come to the table.
Your approach may work, but it will be a cat and mouse game trying to nail everything down without loopholes and the usual congressional and senate malfeasance. Not that there wouldn't be substantial industry pushback getting to day one on my plan, but it's a single battle that if won allows everything else to come without a lot of flawed and loopholed regulations. Your plan is going to be a long, protracted war and I fear both sides will end up the worse for it.
An amusing aside: one of my former clients was an Indian Pharma company whose business model was to make illegal knockoffs of patented drugs and sell them at steeply discounted prices to the third world. I have very conservative views about IP in general, but I felt proud helping these people out. Not many people like the Apple "rounded corners on cell phones" patents, but I'll still stick up for the system. But this thing about literally killing people to make a buck? Time to hoist the black flag and help out the pirates.
... those are quite some powers you're ascribing to the government, that are arguably best described as dictatorial. Are you in favor of dictatorships under leaders you believe to be civic-minded?
Even eminent domain requires that the government compensate citizens according to market value, not according to whatever the government feels like paying.
Hardly. I am describing the realpolitic, and how power has historically been exercised by the government. Did the civil rights act get passed by careful consensus and gentlemanly dialog? Or by LBJ negotiating in the manner I describe? That part in the big clip you posted about "making sausages" is a nice euphemism, but lets be plain speaking here.
Besides, my approach is much less dictatorial. The market remains free, unlike your approach. A business can sell to whomever they want, all the government is doing is negotiating on it's own behalf. How is that dictatorial? If Company X doesn't like the price set by it's client, it can sell elsewhere. As I said, there is no need for histronics from the Fed, market forces alone will compel compliance from Company X. But even with them, are you arguing that the president using the bully pulpit to push an agenda is also dictatorial? By that token, Hopey is somewhere north of Mussolini, as he's up there regularly doing just that.
Following up, this guy just claimed to be an adviser to Sanders:
Anyway, if Clinton doesn't pick Bernie as a VP, there's going to be a meltdown.
... three cheers and a tiger for me, I actually saved a copy of Sean Robinson's post!
I have reached a point.
Sean Robinson 09/25/08, 23:48
I am not going to strive for eloquence or poetry. I am not going to back up my assertions, conjectures, paraphrased quotes or invective with links or citations. I am not going to spell-check beyond what I can catch as I sweep through and lay down words. I will fuck up homynyms.
The name is: I now hate John McCain.
I have not gotten much sleep this week. I am very tired.
I have watched approximately 100 hours of C-SPAN coverage this week collectively, concurrently watching the Senate and House on two televisions. On sits on the right hand side of my desk and one about twenty feet away from me, next to a big bay window. Between me and the latter television is a long wooden table the surface of which is covered by a piece of glassing lying atop. At the end of the table and next to the television, a palm tree made of shiny foil, with broad green leaves at the top and numerous ribbons streaming down that make up the trunk, hangs from the ceiling. It dates from before my time, probably from a Christmas party with a leiu theme.
I have the two televisions blaring C-SPAN (and C-SPAN 2, which broadcasts the action on the Senate floor) because I am tracking, in real time, the progress of pieces of legislation that are of interest to the clients of my firm. The number that is of importance to me differs from week to week but as we approach the end of the 110th Congress, it has swollen to over 70 separate bills that I must know - at an instant - the exact status of. Bills are passed at a tremendous rate in the final weeks of a session - agreements breached, differences smoothed over and sausage made - and clients are anxious to know the exact second that situations regarding legislation that could drastically affect their operation.
A parenthical note, slackly placed: those 70 bills are a fairly small proportion of the over 7000 bills introduced this Congress in the House and near 3000 introduced in the Senate - and that doesn't include the non-binding resolutions, rules, nominations and other sundry business of those august bodies.
Aiding me in my tasks are numerous alerts I've set up, lists of bills introduced each morning that I sort through, the morning whip notices sent to member's offices that I get forwarded, calls to the Cloak Rooms to get updates about scheduling (Once I called the Senate Democratic Cloak Room and was put on hold. Sen. Durbin (IL-D), the Deputy Majority Leader picked up and asked what I wanted. I asked him when a vote I was interested would occur and he politely handed the phone over to a staffer, laughing), Hill rag schedules I print out and mark up and the like. On week's like this week, my desk is covered in these sorts of things, along with facebooks containing all the members and their office numbers, lists of interest areas (health, defense, etc.) and the partners related to them, client codes, sticky pads, invoices for the library, a tattered rolodex and a legal pad filled with hundreds of obscure rows of numbers like so:
224 | 3
180 | 22 1 present
404 | 25
which indicates a vote result - Democrats on the top row, then Republicans and then the total.
My desk is messy.
Rising out of the midst of this paper spew is my monitor, where the mess is replicated as best I can electronically. I most commonly have several dozen tabs open - like most of us, I think I am fair in assuming - along with up to 48 open emails (I am certain about the number because if I open any greater amount than that then I have to scroll up and down to see them in XP when I roll over the Outlook tab on the bottom of my screen) that I am dumping news clips, floor updates, synopsis of press briefings, pdfs of bills, responses to research requests and furious emails to the Wall Street Journal about their site redisign. I also tend to have a handful of Gmail chat windows open, I'll admit, a remnant of a youth that is rotting away precipitously.
Today I sent approximately 150 emails, which probably seems fairly slight but, in my defense, some of those emails contained up to 30 articles on a single topic.
I am fairly busy at work.
And yet, compared to many people, my job is extremely easy. I don't dig ditches, for instance.
I also am not a staffer for House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. Today, they went to bed at around 5:30 in the morning because they had meetings in an attempt to cobble together a solution to the fucked up financial system of this country until 5 a.m.. This sleep, a sweet respite from a week of similarly late nights, was brief however. The meetings resumed at 8 a.m..
This insane workload was not without its achievements, however. Since Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke released their completely politically tone-deaf and almost certainly irresponsible proposal to buy up a vaste swath of assets, up to 0 billion at a time, they had accomplished great progress in reaching rapprochment with the other parties involved - House and Senate leadership of their party and the Republicans, the Administration and lobbyists for the entire universe of interests that sought to influence the effort.
By Monday, they had released their own draft bill, along with a version offered by their counterparts in the Senate. Both of these bills expanded the famously terse and expansive three-page Treasury proposal into 40 and 50 page documents that included executive compensation provisions, mortgage foreclosure mitigation, and far greater oversight over the process.
I want to reiterate this: although numerous parties - particularly the Presidential campaigns - bloviated about the principles that they demanded be in the bill, the working copies of what was actually being negotiated included limits to compensation and 'golden parachutes', a bipartisan oversight board, equity in firms assisted by the plan and the possibility of lowering the scope of the bailout so that only a portion of the 0 billion would be advanced. The outraged statements about the bailout, the anger and panic they whipped up and the press-conference proposals were all directed at a version of the bill that had been immediately discarded.
Yesterday, our tired and plucky FSC staffers had managed to get Treasury to accept their proposal in a general form. This moved the process forward a great deal and was able to withstand dumb ol' Chris Dodd, the Senate Banking Chair, lumbering in and demanding to get some loving attention from Paulson and Frank.
This framework culminated in a joint press conference early this afternoon whose luminaries included Frank, Dodd, FSC Ranking Member Spencer Bachus, Republican Senator Bob Bennett (a lobbyist who somehow managed to find himself a Utah senator and who was standing in the stead of Don Rickles-lookalike, former Democrat and earmark sponge Senate Banking Ranking Member Richard Shelby of Alabama, who has seen the 0 billion abyss and has run away in terror) and other key negotiators. They announced that there was agreement on the path forward and a very good possibility that a rescue package could pass by the weekend.
It was all a coincidence of course that this agreement was announced before John McCain, whom I earnestly hate, could meet with the President, Barack Obama and other interested parties.
I hate John McCain. He is a contemptible person. I want to see him in pain.
Imagine the joy that the FSC staffers must have felt today. Imagine all the work that they have undertaken, painstakingly and carefully, to try and solve an imminent crisis to the country that they love. Imagine the dedication to work as hard as they have for relatively little pay. Imagine the sacrifices that they have carried, the responsibility.
They must adore their general, Barney Frank, whose unkempt appearance led many unfamiliar with him to remark with shock at how tired he looked. While he certainly was fatigued, he always looks like shit. He is a chunky bedraggled Jewish homosexual with a speech impediment and someone I admire as a hero.
Yesterday, on a day in which he had to stay up and delay negotiations in order to hear the President deliver a USA Today rundown of the crisis and ask Congress to fix it for him, Frank responded to a question about John McCain's decision to announce that he was pulling out of the debate tomorrow and tell people that his campaign was suspended. Frank said that it was "the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys."
John McCain had a remarkably bad day yesterday. It began with a desperate conference call in which his pollster tried to bluster away an ABC/W Post poll that showed him dropping 9 points back of Obama. It ended with David Letterman juggling his ripped off balls on the air while offering a squirming Keith Olbermann a bite. In between saw him delay responding to a effort by Obama to set up a joint statement because he was meeting with a baroness, an act of extreme personal cowardice to try and shirk the debate and tired negotiators telling him not to come to Washington because it would just fuck things up.
John McCain came to Washington.
John McCain fucked things up.
The one group of interested parties who have not fully been involved in the negotiations have been House Republicans. This is largely because they are a death cult who should be put to the flame by rational men. The proposal that the Republican Study Group, a conservative caucus that makes up slightly more than half of the full House Republican delegation, issued early in the week suggested that the key was to have a capital gains tax holiday for two years and to drill in ANWR. Clearly the financial crisis would be solved if banks and fund managers stopped paying taxes. The poor dears were holding toxic securities from all the worry that they'd have to contribute a cent to the upkeep of their nation. John Campbell, a contender for the chairmanship of the RSC in the next Congress, has probably completely killed off his chances by supporting the general idea of a bailout.
Spencer Bachus, the senior Republican on the Financial Services Committee, was the main - and often only - House Republican involved in the negotiations. He had acceeded to the principles of the agreement reached today. Then he admitted that he "was not authorized by [his] colleagues to make any agreement on behalf of House Republicans."
That left their stance on the negotiations "fuzzy" in Barney Frank's words.
When John McCain arrived in Washington, the first thing he did was meet with House Republican Leader John Boehner and a group of RSC members. Later on in the day, he said very little of importance at a meeting with the President, Barack Obama and the negotiating partners. Meanwhile, House Republicans demanded that the entire negotiation begin again, bearing a new proposal that they had not mentioned at all up until that point.
RSC members held a press conference this evening to discuss their plan. They loudly asserted that McCain had not expressed support for the RSC proposal and had not told them to delay the negotiations. It was just one of those things that happens.
Their proposal would be to create a new federal insurance program to back toxic mortgage-backed securities. They say that since the federal government insures subprime loans through Fannie and Freddie, it would be easy. And it wouldn't cost a thing because the insurance pool would be filled with premiums paid by securities holders.
Although several members of the group of RSCers that held the press conference are members of the FSC and asked questions at the hearing held this week featuring Paulson, Bernanke and SEC Chairman Chris Cox, none had brought up the idea at the time.
Perhaps they knew that it would have been savaged. I am not a financial expert, so I speak from ignorance, but perhaps Paulson would have suggested that there would be no way to value the insured assets - the whole problem at the root of the crisis - and that CDOs wouldn't be covered. Perhaps they would have looked like insane ideologues who were unwilling to confront a crisis.
We don't know, of course. We do know that negotiations will continue through tomorrow night and that this may cause McCain to duck out of the debate. We do know that McCain has done absolutely nothing to advance the negotiations and whose appearance and interference has severely compromised advancements that were being made. We do know that he is an unforgivable little shit, contempible and hate-filled.
We do know that McCain (HOW FUCKING DARE HE) has single-handedly invalidated and trod over the incredibly difficult work of hundreds of people. People who are trying, in a totally thankless and anonymous way, to help save a part of their country.
I didn't hate him. Honestly, it was more about the Ds and the left-wing shit that is my heritage.
But I want to punch his fucking kids right about now. I want to scream at him until I pass out.
What a fucking dick.
I work tomorrow and I have fucked over my chance to get my first full night's sleep this week. It looks like I'll be in on Saturday and Sunday too. I will probably be working late on my birthday next week. What I'm saying is, I hope you weren't a mccain and read the whole thing. It may have taken a while and been completely unworth doing, but still.
Also, my laptop has been fixed and, while I don't have time to read posts, I may make some more in the next while. Maybe even some long ones.
I don't hate Sanders or his ideas, but I didn't realize he'd always spoken like his mouth is full of dicks. I thought that was just because he's an antique Skeletor by now.
He's a Jewish guy from Brooklyn, that's how he's supposed to sound.
I'm just not going to scroll through any more of Bort's bullshit between now and November. There's no point in arguing with a mediocre, beigeocrat fanatic.
If bort is an example of a mediocre debater and mindless fanatic, can you please point to what you would consider a good one?
"Good" does not just mean "things I agree with and want to hear".
I love reading his stuff, even the insane drone strike opinions. Keep it up, bort!
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