the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
Recently Matt Yglesias was wondering what happened to the supposed Social Security crisis. Only a few months ago, the press was full of the idea that something must be done, immediately, and Democrats couldn’t afford to be the “Party of No” and simply oppose Bush ideas for “reform” (really phaseout) of the system. When Bush utterly failed to sell his plan to the American people, the media suddenly stopped talking about the “crisis” entirely, so how serious could their concern have been?
Unfortunately Yglesias spoke too soon. It will probably be lost in the uproar over the Alito nomination (the huge dark cloud that goes with the silver lining of the failure of Miers), but the Washington Post editorial board today decided to revive the idea of the Social Security crisis:
The Bush administration’s declining fortunes have buried the prospect of Social Security reform. Congress was never keen: Democrats united against personal accounts; Republicans were divided as to what sort they wanted. But although President Bush’s critics may celebrate this defeat, delaying Social Security’s reform makes the eventual change only harder. Both sides should acknowledge their contributions to this debacle — and reengage.
This is madness. The Democrats won decisively on the issue of Social Security, and now that Bush has lost the Post wants them to go back and compromise with him? Perhaps the system needs reform, but there’s no rush. If reform is needed, it’s better to wait until the White House and both houses of Congress are not controlled by a party that is opposed to the very existence of Social Security.
Update (7:25 pm): Yglesias noticed this post and wrote a followup over at TPMCafe.
The Washington Post is hinting that Samuel A. Alito Jr will be nominated to replace Sandra Day O’Connor, noting that Alito was in town Thursday night. Alito is best known for his resemblance to Scalia, both physically and judicially, and is often referred to as “Scalito” or “Little Nino.”
He is second-best known for his dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Casey, you may recall, concerned a Pennsylvania law requiring a woman to inform her husband if she wanted to have an abortion. While his dissent may have been couched in the language of “undue burden” or lack thereof, in simplest terms he found such a law perfectly reasonable.
Regarding this decision I’ll just say that Scalito’s desire to return society to the Dark Ages matches well with some of his colleagues pining for the days of the feudal system.
There is a certain logic to such a nomination. It appears calculated to undo the Gang of 14 agreement, which had undermined the authority of the One True branch of government, the Executive. Can’t have that. It also would be an appeasement to the Fundamentalist branch of the Republican party. Their support for Bush in the 2004 election was conditioned on a Supreme Court appointment that would overturn Roe, and Miers was ambiguous on this point. They had ordered up raw meat; imagine their surprise when they found snausage in their bowl.
More on Scalito at dKosopedia.
It’s hard to come up with something new and relevant on the Libby indictiment. Still, I’ll give it a shot. On the News Hour, David Brooks said (from my notes, no transcript yet) “the indictment shows this was the work of a lone individual. There is no cancer on the presidency.”
There’s a couple of things that need pointing out. First off, the lack of an indictment, does not a lack of a conspiracy make.
Second, Libby was just one of the chief staffers who came up with the smear job on Wilson (Josh Marshall has scooped me on this, darn him):
22. On or about July 12, 2003, LIBBY flew with the Vice President and others to and from Norfolk, Virginia, on Air Force Two. On his return trip, LIBBY discused with other officials aboard the plane what Libby should say in response to certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time reporter Matthew Cooper.
23. On or about July 12, 2003, in the afternoon, LIBBY spoke by telephone to Cooper, who asked whether LIBBY had heard that Wilson’s wife was involved in sending Wilson on the trip to Niger. LIBBY confirmed to COoper, without elaboration or qualification, that he had heard this information too. [ed: we now know that Karl Rove was Cooper’s primary source.]
Under ordinary circumstances you could write off the coordination of a press response as “politics as usual.” In the case of Libby this meant, as was confirmed today, a systematic effort to smear Joe Wilson. With the understanding that it meant exposing the identity of a covert agent. And make no mistake, the indictment makes it clear that a.) Valerie Plame was a covert agent. b.) Libby exposed her identity. c.) this isn’t the end of the story.
The final point I’d like to make is that Brooks’s statement misquotes history a bit. John Dean didn’t say “there’s a cancer on the presidency.” What he said is more reminiscent of the current situation:
I think, I think that, uh, there’s no doubt about the seriousness of the problem we’re, we’ve got. We have a cancer–within, close to the Presidency, that’s growing. It’s growing daily. It’s compounding, it grows geometrically now because it compounds itself.
I do get a strong whiff of history repeating itself here.
Bush has been forced into two prominent reversals in the past 24 hours. One of them promises hope, while it’s unclear what the other means for the future.
Yesterday afternoon the White House announced a reinstatement of a provision of the Davis-Bacon Act. Suspending it allowed companies doing post-Katrina reconstruction to pay their workers less, so Josh Marshall dubbed the move the Gulf Coast wage cut. The reversal was a response to a maneuver by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who put together a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans who were going to bring the issue to a vote in the House. Seeing that they were on the losing side in terms of both votes and political perception, the administration had no choice but to surrender, even though it caused some Republicans to say things like this:
“It’s the kind of thing that shows they’re turning their backs on the things that Ronald Reagan and those who built this party care deeply about,” said Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.).
Then this morning came another sign of weakness with the withdrawal of Harriet Miers’s nomination to the Supreme Court. We can thank Harry Reid for helping get Miers nominated and thus widening divisions within the Republican Party. Unfortunately the withdrawal can’t really be viewed as anything other than a cave-in to the extreme right, so the next nominee will probably be someone more to the liking of that wing of the party (well, at this point it’s spread from the wing to take over the whole body). We’re not going to get someone else opposed by both left and right, and the opinions of Democrats won’t count. Let’s hope the political damage caused by the Miers nomination has enough long-term effects to make up for that.
Whenever I try to imagine The Corner office, it looks like the proverbial monkeys at typewriters, punching their keyboards randomly at full speed, in the hopes that through sheer quantity they might accidentally write Hamlet.
Though, occassionally they come up with some useful info. Take this gem from K-Lo:
I WANT TO BELIEVE… [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
…that Harriet Miers was so badly vetted that no one in the White House decision-making bubble knew she ever uttered this sentence, as she did in that 1993 Dallas women execs speech: “The ongoing debate continues surrounding the attempt to once again criminalize abortions or to once and for all guarantee the freedom of the individual women’s right to decide for herself whethere she will have an abortion.”
Very interesting. Yes, that was from 12 years ago, but it still is interesting.
On the other hand, the Cornerians are hatching some advanced right-wing talking points about how if Fitzgerald’s probe were fair, then he’d also have to indict Joe Wilson for leaking the conclusion of his visit to Niger.
Happy hacking, boys and girls.
Mark Kleiman wonders why the smear machine that attacked Joseph Wilson, Richard Clarke, and other prominent critics of the Bush administration hasn’t kicked into gear and started telling us about how Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Wilkerson are actually partisan Democrats, members of MoveOn, or some other sort of Al Qaida sympathizer. After all, both men have recently had harsh words about Our Leader, so they must be discredited.
I think the reason is that the smear machine is fully occupied in preparing for renewed smears against Wilson and for its biggest smear yet, a campaign against prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (assuming he indicts people in the White House). Of course, smearing Fitzgerald is a bit harder when Bush himself is saying such complimentary things about the guy, as Tucker Carlson explains:
I think politically [the Bush administration] did very much the wrong thing by saying nice things about Patrick Fitzgerald some months ago — “he’s a man of integrity,” “he’s a good guy,” “we have complete confidence he’s going do the right thing,” etc., etc. — making it now almost impossible for the White House, even on background, to attack the guy.
Kleiman has a theory about Bush’s statements on Fitzgerald, too.
I’m no gambler, but it can be entertaining to look at prices on betting sites that cover things other than sports. Currently Intrade has the following most recent trade prices for selected US legal events:
|I. Lewis Libby to be indicted ON or BEFORE 31st DEC 05||75.6|
|Karl Rove to be indicted ON or BEFORE 31st DEC 05||50.2|
|Harriet Miers to be Confirmed to the Supreme Court by the US Senate||35.0|
|Tom DeLay to be found guilty of conspiracy to violate political fund raising laws||15.5|
|Tom DeLay to be found guilty of conspiring to launder money & money laundering||22.0|
The prices, which can range from 0 to 100, roughly correspond to the percentage likelihood the market is assigning to the events. The DeLay numbers are disappointing, but then ultimately they’re all meaningless since the people buying and selling presumably don’t have any inside information.
Judging by the current rumblings, with luck we may have some indictments to toast this week. Remember, if you want to be in the loop for Thursday Drinking Liberally, you need to subscribe to the new announcement list.
On Thursday November 3, we are pleased and proud to host Lisa Maatz, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
She will be discussing the Miers nomination, and taking your questions. Free apetizers (we’ve worked out a pretty impressive spread with Timberlake’s), and the happy hour prices (basically, $1 off all drinks) will apply for the whole evening.
More on Lisa Maatz and AAUW after the jump
Yesterday afternoon, Keith and I participated on a conference call from Drinking Liberally chapters all over the country. We counted 30 cities, and multiple representatives from each city on this call. I wanted to give just a couple of quick impressions .
I know I/we tend to think of Drinking Liberally in terms of the local chapter, but it’s nice to know there’s a national organization with an eye towards the future. I know I’m excited, and hope you are, too.
A couple of times in the past day or two I’ve caught a snippet of a news story talking about someone being charged with a crime and disputing the authority of those charging him, and each time for a split second I think it’s a story about Tom DeLay. Of course, it’s always really about Saddam Hussein. Easy mistake to make.
How can it be acceptable for a politician charged with a crime to be running ads to smear the prosecutor? But then what Ronnie Earle is experiencing is nothing compared to what will be coming down on Patrick Fitzgerald if he has the audacity to indict anyone in the White House for outing Valerie Plame or impeding his investigation.
Look, it can be a great advantage to have people in your party who push the boundaries and dance close to the line of illegal behavior. But if you want to reap the benefits from that, you also suffer the consequences when the dancers aren’t quite as skilled as they think they are and a misstep sends them into illegal territory.
The current Republican leadership apparently wants the United States to be the sort of country where the laws apply to everyone except members of the ruling party. Fortunately, I don’t think they’ve managed to degrade us quite that far yet, but we’ll see.
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