So much has happened since we last spoke on Thursday…
President Obama officially named Elizabeth Warren as the person to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — though not necessarily as the one to run it. Is he hedging his bets, or just being spineless yet again? John Nichols of The Nation writes “There Will Be ‘Hell to Pay’ If Elizabeth Warren Doesn’t Have Real Power.”
The Hill reports that Mike Pence was the best that the attendees of the “Values Voters” summit could come up with for a 2012 Presidential nominee.
And it’s illegal to build sand castles on the beach in Florida. Funny, no one has ever stopped us from doing there here in Southeast Florida, but I guess if you’re near Pensacola, it’s a big no-no.
We’ll touch on all of those stories today, and more…
**Update… I need a producer! Michael Hirsch is schedule for Wednesday morning, not this morning. So, tune in Wednesday for this one!*** Michael Hirsh of Newsweek (and soon to be of the National Journal) will be my guest in the first hour. He has a new book out… Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over To Wall Street. And yes, I’ll ask him about Elizabeth Warren, among other things.
Obviously, Christine O’Donnell was the major topic of discussion for the Sunday shows for a variety of reasons. First, as a Tea Party, Sarah Palin-endorsed, extremist candidate knocking off a “moderate” incumbent (whatever “moderate” means nowadays) in Mike Castle. But also as someone who can only be described as the fringiest of the fringe. How many ultra-conservative Christian evangelical anti-masturbation activists can also claim to have “dabbled” in witchcraft? But for the traditional media, all that can be forgiven, EXCEPT that she pulled a Rand Paul / Sharron Angle and backed out of her scheduled appearances on the Sunday shows a mere 36 hours before. It may have been a fairly canny move, because instead of appearing on Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday, O’Donnell was discussed on ALL the shows for backing out.
For example, Karl Rove—who has been treading carefully to stay relevant in a Republican Party spiraling out of control—challenged Sarah Palin to come to Delaware to campaign for O’Donnell to prove her bona fides as a kingmaker
Now this is just my opinion, but I think it’s been a hard fall for Karl Rove over the last two years. To go from being “the architect” of GOP political strategy to being a pushed-aside has been as the Tea Party clamors for and receives more media attention as the flavor du jour has to smart. I really see this as a petulant calling out of Sarah Palin for usurping his spotlight without actually doing any hard work or being smart at all.
Along those same lines, I suspect that Rove would not be all that upset if the GOP loses the Delaware seat despite how much he professes his desire for a Republican majority. Who wants to deal with someone so unpredictable and unmanageable as O’Donnell? That’s why he’s willing to stick that little bit of doubt in the craw of Fox viewers by saying O’Donnell better explain exactly what she meant by “dabbling” as a witch.
Frankly, I think this story is a sack of lies that displays a rather ignorant understanding and conflation of Satanism, paganism and Wiccans. It would not surprise me in the least if friends from that time come out and say that O’Donnell is lying. But it’s a bright, shiny object to distract the media and they will take the bait happily.
Fox also looked at the O’Donnell victory and pooh-poohed the pervasive meme (by the “liberal media”, naturally) that it indicates a civil war within the GOP.
NY Daily News columnist Andrea Tantaros tried to paint this not as a battle between the moderate and conservative elements of the Republican Party, but of the “old guard” versus the “new guard”. I’m really not sure what these distinctions without a difference means. The Republican Party ideas haven’t changed in 30+ years. Everything they do is to the benefit of the elite 2% of the population. I think what we’re seeing with the Tea Party is Republicanism writ large and stripped of all the code words and niceties to make their policies palatable to the rest of the country.
As verification, we need only look at fellow tea party candidate Joe Miller in Alaska. Miller has said that he thinks unemployment benefits are unconstitutional. To his credit (and I am loathe to give him any credit), Chris Wallace goes back again and again to test exactly what Miller thinks unemployed people are supposed to do.
Miller, not surprisingly, dodges the question over and over and turns it into an esoteric discussion of the Constitution. This is my issue with these tea party types. They talk in grandiose ideals, but cannot deal with the hard realities.
I also think it’s telling that while Sarah Palin is credited with helping Miller win the primary with her endorsement, Miller very deftly passed on reciprocating endorsing Palin’s presumptive 2012 run for presidency.
Meanwhile , Bill Clinton appeared on Meet the Press, ostensibly to discuss the Clinton Global Initiative, but also not about to pass up opining on the state of the union. He was talking about the high unemployment rate, but then he went a slightly different direction than one would expect.
Clinton says that there are FIVE MILLION JOBS out there unfilled for two reasons: mismatched skills and people upside down on the mortgages can’t move for work.
Frankly, I’m finding his five million number impossible to verify, so I’m going to guess that he’s exaggerating a bit. Most studies/reports I’ve seen have placed that number between 2 and 3 million. Still not a small number, but certainly not nearly as dire as Clinton made out.
I also think that to blame it on mismatched skills is simplistic. You have people out of work for the first time in their decades-long career competing with recent college graduates. Employers will tend not to hire over-qualified people for jobs because the assumption is that you’ll lose them as soon as the economy improves. And because this economy is poor, many companies are looking for multi-skilled candidates willing to work at entry-level pay (not a realistic option for a qualified person with a family and mortgage, etc) or with little to no benefits (as a temp or consultant, for example). And there’s also the issue of ageism. Employers look at a potential employee’s age, make assumptions about the responsibilities in life (children, health, etc.) and calculate if that person is going to be a good investment for them.
And finally, I need to bring up Tucker Carlson. I admit to having just a passionate dislike of him, and his uncanny ability to be on the absolute wrong side of every issue. Tucker was on Fox News this weekend to promote his special (which he called a documentary, but I refuse to go along with that, since the word “documentary” connotes an attempt at non-fiction) scaring parents over the liberal bias in their kids’ textbooks.
Tucker defended the oxymoronically-named Texas State Board of Education, who is debating a measure to slap a sticker on textbooks warning parents of a pro-Islamic (and therefore anti-Christian) bias. This bias is based on nothing, because a conservative bloc within the board fears that with more Middle Easterners buying into the US textbook oligopoly—the evidence of which does not exist—they’ll just tend to focus on the more unfortunate aspects of Christian history (the Crusades and the Inquisition come to mind) and ignore the jihadist nature of Islam. Tucker, of course, backs this bit of truthiness wholeheartedly, saying that studies prove it true. Studies that exist only in the fevered minds of Tucker and the Texas State Board of Education, mind you. Tucker’s big issue with the textbooks—aside from opportunistically jumping on anti-Islamic sentiment—is that he can’t identify with the examples given:
I think I was in fifth grade when I began to suspect that textbooks weren’t entirely on the level. The first tip-off came from the word problems in math class. They typically began with scenarios that, even to a 10-year-old, seemed a little unlikely: “Julio’s mom is a welder. His father is a pediatric nurse. If his mom welds for 9 hours a day, then…”
Or: “If Maria wins her first three prizefights by knockout, and her next three by TKO, how long before she can leave her job as a lumberjack and fight full time?”
The characters in my textbooks didn’t sound like anyone I had ever met. Years later I realized, that was exactly the point. The educators who wrote them weren’t interested in describing the world as it was, or had been, but rather as they wanted it to be. They were ideologues, and my math and history books were their pamphlets, disguised as academic texts.
Thirty years later, few textbooks bother with the disguise. Entire chunks of the English language have been banned from the classroom, liquidated in a P.C. purge. First to go were words containing the dreaded term “man,” the three letters most offensive to professional feminists. Mailman, chairman, snowman, fisherman, manhole cover–every one now extinct, disdained relics of a bygone age.
Ah…so only if the textbook came with examples with which he could identify —the fastest way to get to the Hamptons, the best store on Rodeo Drive to purchase bow ties, calculating the income to expense ratio of the media job gotten after an expensive private boarding school education—without any of those pesky acknowledgments of the working class women forced to work for 70 cents on the dollar of their male counterparts, the textbooks would truly be educationally worthy. Got it.
And finally, my friends at the Blue America PAC hit it out of the ballpark on this one (I know, mixed metaphors…. Oh well…)
And, as mentioned on today’s show… Jimmy Carter was on 60 Minutes last night. It’s well worth a watch!