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Thread: The Obama Presidency

  1. #361
    Forum Veteran TREPYE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MidtownGuy View Post
    He promised transparency, and he gave the country a huge dose of it. Unfortunately, what was transparent turned people's stomachs...

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/drew-w..._b_429232.html
    What you dont know cant hurt you.
    I guess ignorance is bliss, or as the author puts it non-stomach turning.

    Quite a turn of events in MA. One of the legends of the democratic party is replaced by his complete opposite. How bad of a candidate could have this Martha Coakley been?? Geez.

    Seems like the status quo will stand put as well as the dying uninsured.

  2. #362
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Mr. Cool Gets Hot

    As president, Obama has walked the walk. But now, with his agenda endangered, he has to learn to talk the talk.

    By John Heilemann

    Barack Obama is not unfamiliar with delivering big-stakes, high-pressure, bet-the-farm speeches—but the challenges presented by Wednesday’s State of the Union are of a different kind and order of magnitude than he has ever confronted before. In the wake of the smack-upside-the-head loss of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat last week in Massachusetts, with its dire implications for health-care reform and dark portents for

    November’s midterm elections, Democrats in Washington and around the nation will be looking for more from Obama than mere eloquence or even passion and conviction. They will be studying him to see if he grasps the magnitude of his and his party’s peril, and trying to discern what he intends to do about it.

    Among the Potomac panjandrum population, the near-universal consensus is that Obama must undertake a serious midcourse correction. That he must regroup his team, recalibrate his agenda, retool his message, reboot his whole presidency. Obama and many of his senior advisers have heard such bleatings before. During the race that put Obama in the White House, Establishment Democrats periodically concluded that his campaign was on the brink of disaster and counseled dramatic changes of tack. In the early fall of 2008, at the peak of Palinmania, Obama’s pal and adviser Valerie Jarrett returned from a trip to New York and informed the candidate that party big shots were freaking out over John McCain’s post-convention surge in the polls. As Mark Halperin and I report in our new book, Game Change, Obama’s response was nonchalant: “Just tell them to calm down.” Campaign manager David Plouffe was even more dismissive of what he liked to describe as Democratic “bed-wetting.”

    The ability of Obama and his people to retain their continence when all around them were soiling their shorts was key to their success in 2008. The question in the minds of many Democrats now, however, is whether the Obamans have overlearned the lesson. Last year, as Obama’s standing in the polls weakened and support for health care plummeted, the administration’s stay-the-course posture sometimes came across as less an example of Roger Federerian cool than Alfred E. Neumanish what-me-worryism.

    There are already signs that Obama and his squad no longer have their heads buried in the sand; that they realize that, in this populist moment, being perceived as being simultaneously on the side of Big Government and Big Business is politically lethal. The most glaring signal was Obama’s embrace of former Fed chairman Paul Volcker’s call for tough bank reregulation—a plan for which neither of the president’s chief economic officials, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, had previously evinced a scintilla of support. Indeed, many Democrats are now speculating that one of them (most likely the former) may soon be shown the door. At the same time, the State of the Union will almost certainly include a muscular call for a return to fiscal restraint, perhaps along with an attack on the pork-addled proclivities of Congress.

    For Obama to regain his footing, though, will require more than that. One of the greatest puzzles of 2009 is how this most gifted of communicators and his team of savvy message-meisters failed so utterly to provide a compelling explanatory framework for his ambitious policy agenda. Health care, of course, is Exhibit A in this indictment. For all the complaints in some quarters about the performance of Rahm Emanuel, the truth is that the White House chief of staff has played the inside game adroitly. What’s been missing has been equal skill at the outside game, in the form of an overarching argument at once coherent and compelling to the broad electorate—the kind of thing at which both Obama and his message guru, David Axelrod, once seemed to be geniuses.

    Hearteningly, Obama seems to understand the point. “What I haven’t always been successful at doing is breaking through the noise and speaking directly to the American people in a way that during the campaign you could do,” he told George Stephanopoulos last week.

    Obama’s frustration is evident, and so is a certain wistful nostalgia for the days when he was still seeking the Oval Office instead of occupying it. But if Obama is going to hold on to that office—let alone come close to accomplishing any of his grand and noble objectives—he needs to reclaim the outsider’s mantle he once donned so comfortably. During the campaign, Obama was fond of saying to Axelrod, “This shit would be really interesting if we weren’t in the middle of it.” He’s even deeper in it today. Unless he finds a way to rise above the Washington cesspool he was elected to drain, and soon, the dung will surely drown him.

    Can Obama Talk the Talk? -- New York Magazine http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/...#ixzz0dUfKbcXx

  3. #363
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Obama Sharpens his Populist Tone

    By ELIZABETH WILLIAMSON

    ELYRIA, Ohio—President Barack Obama tried to relaunch his political agenda Friday with a populist attack on banks and insurance companies that signaled he would fight for his priorities going into the fall elections rather than give ground to Republicans on key issues. WSJ's Personal Columnist Jason Zweig discusses President Obama's plan to curb excessive risk taking at big banks. He also tells Kelsey Hubbard his proposals for better financial regulation.

    WSJ's Jerry Seib joins the News Hub to discuss the latest in a series of administration moves to curb Wall Street. Plus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) tells reporters the House is unlikely to pass Senate health-care legislation without changes. The News Hub brings you the latest.

    Mr. Obama's campaign-style speech here capped one of the most bruising weeks of his year in office. The president traveled to this swing-state manufacturing town ostensibly to deliver a speech about jobs and the economy, but instead he repeatedly veered off-script to interject pledges to battle his political foes over health care and other issues "so long as I have breath in me."
    Mr. Obama also took more jabs at Wall Street, despite continued signs of investor jitters Friday stemming from his proposal to impose levies on big banks. His voice rising, Mr. Obama defended the plan he announced Thursday as a way "to repay taxpayers in full for saving [banks'] skins in a time of need," and then delivered a line that got the day's biggest applause: "We want our money back. We want our money back! And we're going to get your money back—every dime, each and every dime."

    As Mr. Obama spoke, the Dow Jones Industrial Average accelerated its decline, headed toward a loss of more than 200 points for the day. Analysts have attributed the blue chip stock index's decline this past week to factors including the administration's bank proposal, worries about the latest rise in jobless claims and uncertainty surrounding Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's chances for reconfirmation. Mr. Bernanke's term expires in less than two weeks.

    Mr. Obama said he would continue to push for an overhaul of the health-care system, even as House and Senate Democrats appeared ready to retreat on the issue after Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown won the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by the late Edward Kennedy—giving the GOP enough Senate votes to block any legislation. Mr. Obama didn't say, though, how he might convince Republicans and wavering Democrats to back a health-care plan considered even by his allies to be an uphill climb.

    "I'm not going to watch more people get crushed by costs or denied care they need by insurance-company bureaucrats," the president said. "I'm not going to have the insurance companies click their heels and watch their stocks skyrocket, because once again there's no control on what they do."

    Those remarks followed a litany of more politically popular efforts to aid Ohio through the $787 billion federal economic-stimulus package, rein in credit-card interest rates and provide equal wages for women. The president's visit consisted of a day-long tour of manufacturers and a town-hall meeting.

    The White House's stated goal in putting the spotlight on Elyria was to highlight administration efforts to spur job creation in a region hard hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs. But Mr. Obama's appearance coincided with new state figures showing Ohio's jobless rate climbed last month to 10.9%, from 10.6% in November, nearly a full point higher than the national average. National figures released Thursday showed a jump in the number of Americans who applied for jobless benefits, with claims rising 36,000 to 482,000 last week, the third straight week claims increased. Analysts had expected new claims to slip to 440,000.

    House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio hammered hard on the unemployment issue in a statement on Mr. Obama's appearance.
    "When he last visited Elyria, candidate Obama promised that as president he would enact a 'job creation agenda.' Yet for the past year, Ohioans have watched anxiously as Washington Democrats, with the approval of President Obama, have pushed a job-killing agenda," Mr. Boehner said.

    Mr. Obama's turn toward populist rhetoric—mirroring in some ways the anger of the conservative populist movement that has helped to stall his agenda—carries risks. The stock market sell-off represents one of them: that business leaders wary of the administration's policies would be reluctant to invest in job-creating enterprises.

    Moreover, Mr. Obama's display of anger with big financial institutions and insurers may not reassure voters who are dubious about his proposed solutions to the country's economic problems. That difficulty was evident from comments by Ohioans on Friday.

    "I think his intentions are right, and the programs are wrong," said Wendell Brown, who manages an auto dealership in Elyria. Bashing banks and special interests works, Mr. Brown said, because "Everyone here is affected by job losses—I think you can't help but get fired up, but at the same time I didn't get any real clear, definite answer on what he's going to do to restore jobs."

    Others were supportive of Mr. Obama's efforts. "He's going to make those who took excess money accountable," said Jennifer Streza-Ebenger, a retired teacher who lives in the city of Lorain. "He's a good guy, a good leader, and he knows what's happening in our county and in our state."

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000..._WSJ_US_News_4

  4. #364
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    The incredible morphing president. I don't even know if this is the same guy I voted for. This was part of the McCain platform during the campaign...at that time Obama ridiculed him for it.


    Let's see how far Obama gets next election with his progressive base shooting darts at a picture of his face.
    ---

    Obama Liquidates Himself


    A spending freeze? That’s the brilliant response of the Obama team to their first serious political setback?


    It’s appalling on every level.


    It’s bad economics, depressing demand when the economy is still suffering from mass unemployment. Jonathan Zasloff writes that Obama seems to have decided to fire Tim Geithner and replace him with “the rotting corpse of Andrew Mellon” (Mellon was Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, who according to Hoover told him to “liquidate the workers, liquidate the farmers, purge the rottenness”.)


    It’s bad long-run fiscal policy, shifting attention away from the essential need to reform health care and focusing on small change instead.
    And it’s a betrayal of everything Obama’s supporters thought they were working for. Just like that, Obama has embraced and validated the Republican world-view — and more specifically, he has embraced the policy ideas of the man he defeated in 2008. A correspondent writes, “I feel like an idiot for supporting this guy.”


    Now, I still cling to a fantasy: maybe, just possibly, Obama is going to tie his spending freeze to something that would actually help the economy, like an employment tax credit. (No, trivial tax breaks don’t count). There has, however, been no hint of anything like that in the reports so far. Right now, this looks like pure disaster.


    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/201...dates-himself/

  5. #365
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

  6. #366

  7. #367
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Think of how much better it would be right now if we'd gone with any of the other better choices.

  8. #368
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I am just counting the days 'till Scott Brown, PotUS........

  9. #369

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    Kucinich?

    Richardson?

    Dodd?

    Edwards?

    Biden?

    The Iron Lady with the cute cheeks?

    ... or do you mean:

    McCain?

    Romney?

    The man who wants us back in the 1700's?

  10. #370
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Just for the laughs and screams it would have brought to political watchers -- and the challenges it would have presented to our Democracy:

    I'd put John Edwards at the top of the list of "consider the outcome, choosing from the alternatives we were offered (and who came [somewhat] close to being the POTUS)"

    These wintery days would seem so much darker.


  11. #371
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Never thought of Hillary's cheeks as "cute"

  12. #372
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Smoke the Bigots Out of the Closet

    NY TIMES
    By FRANK RICH
    February 7, 2010

    OP-ED COLUMNIST

    A funny thing happened after Adm. Mike Mullen called for gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military: A curious silence befell much of the right. If this were a Sherlock Holmes story, it would be the case of the attack dogs that did not bark.

    John McCain, commandeering the spotlight as usual, did fulminate against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But the press focus on McCain, the crazy man in Washington’s attic, was misleading. His yapping was an exception, not the rule.

    Many of his Republican colleagues said little or nothing. The right’s noise machine was on mute. The Fox News report on Mullen’s testimony was fair and balanced — and brief. The network dropped the subject entirely in the Hannity-O’Reilly hothouse of prime time that night. Only ratings-desperate CNN gave a fleeting platform to the old homophobic clichés. Michael O’Hanlon, an “expert” from the Brookings Institution, speculated that “18-year-old, old-fashioned, testosterone-laden” soldiers who are “tough guys” might object to those practicing “alternative forms of lifestyle,” which he apparently views as weak and testosterone-deficient. His only prominent ally was the Family Research Council, which issued an inevitable “action alert” demanding a stop to “the sexualization of our military.”

    The occasional outliers notwithstanding, why did such a hush greet Mullen on Capitol Hill? The answer begins with the simple fact that a large majority of voters — between 61 percent and 75 percent depending on the poll — now share his point of view. Most Americans recognize that being gay is not a “lifestyle” but an immutable identity, and that outlawing discrimination against gay people who want to serve their country is, as the admiral said, “the right thing to do.”

    Mullen’s heartfelt, plain-spoken testimony gave perfect expression to the nation’s own slow but inexorable progress on the issue. He said he had “served with homosexuals since 1968” and that his views had evolved “cumulatively” and “personally” ever since. So it has gone for many other Americans in all walks of life. As more gay people have come out — a process that accelerated once the modern gay rights movement emerged from the Stonewall riots of 1969 — so more heterosexuals have learned that they have gay relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers and co-workers. It is hard to deny our own fundamental rights to those we know, admire and love.

    But that’s not the whole explanation for the scant pushback in Washington to Mullen and his partner in change, Defense Secretary Robert Gates. There is also a potent political subtext. To a degree unimaginable as recently as 2004 — when Karl Rove and George W. Bush ran a national campaign exploiting fear of gay people — there is now little political advantage to spewing homophobia. Indeed, anti-gay animus is far more likely to repel voters than attract them. This equation was visibly eating at Orrin Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, as he vamped nervously with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC last week, trying to duck any discernible stand on Mullen’s testimony. On only one point was he crystal clear: “I just plain do not believe in prejudice of any kind.”

    Now that explicit anti-gay animus is an albatross, those who oppose gay civil rights are driven to invent ever loopier rationales for denying those rights, whether in the military or in marriage. Hatch, for instance, limply suggested to Mitchell that a repeal of “don’t ask” would lead to gay demands for “special rights.” Such arguments, both preposterous and disingenuous, are mere fig leaves to disguise the phobia that can no longer dare speak its name. If gay Americans are to be granted full equality, the flimsy rhetorical camouflage must be stripped away to expose the prejudice that lies beneath.

    The arguments for preserving “don’t ask” have long been blatantly groundless. McCain — who said in 2006 that he would favor repealing the law if military leaders ever did — didn’t even bother to offer a logical explanation for his mortifying flip-flop last week. He instead huffed that the 1993 “don’t ask” law should remain unchanged as long as any war is going on (which would be in perpetuity, given Afghanistan). Colin Powell strafed him just hours later, when he announced that changed “attitudes and circumstances” over the past 17 years have led him to agree with Mullen. McCain is even out of step with his own family’s values. Both his wife, Cindy, and his daughter Meghan have posed for the current California ad campaign explicitly labeling opposition to same-sex marriage as hate.

    McCain aside, the most common last-ditch argument for preserving “don’t ask” heard last week, largely from Southern senators, is to protect “troop morale and cohesion.” Every known study says this argument is a canard, as do the real-life examples of the many armies with openly gay troops, including those of Canada, Britain and Israel. But the argument does carry a telling historical pedigree. When Harry Truman ordered the racial integration of the American military in 1948, Congressional opponents (then mainly Southern Democrats) embraced an antediluvian Army prediction from 1940 stating that such a change would threaten national defense by producing “situations destructive to morale.” History will sweep this bogus argument away now as it did then.

    Those opposing same-sex marriage are just as eager to mask their bigotry. The big arena on that issue is now in California, where the legal showdown over Proposition 8 is becoming a Scopes trial of sorts, with the unlikely bipartisan legal team of David Boies and Ted Olson in the Clarence Darrow role. The opposing lawyer, Charles Cooper, insisted to the court that he bore neither “ill will nor animosity for gays and lesbians.” Given the history of the anti-same-sex marriage camp, it’s hard to make that case with a straight face (so to speak). In trying to do so, Cooper moved that graphic evidence of his side’s ill will and animosity be disallowed — including that notorious, fear-mongering television ad, “The Gathering Storm.”

    The judge admitted such exhibits anyway. Boies also triumphed in dismantling an expert witness called to provide the supposedly empirical, non-homophobic evidence of how same-sex marriage threatens “procreative marriage.” In cross-examination, Boies forced the witness, David Blankenhorn of the so-called Institute for American Values, to concede he had no academic expertise in any field related to marriage or family. The only peer-reviewed paper he’s written, for a degree in Comparative Labor History, was “a study of two cabinetmakers’ unions in 19th-century Britain.”

    In another, milder cross-examination — on “Meet the Press” last weekend — John Boehner, the House G.O.P. leader, fended off a question about “don’t ask” with a rhetorical question of his own: “In the middle of two wars and in the middle of this giant security threat, why would we want to get into this debate?” Besides Mullen’s answer — that it is the right thing to do — there’s another, less idealistic reason why President Obama might want to get into it. The debate could blow up in the Republicans’ faces. A protracted battle or filibuster in which they oppose civil rights will end up exposing the deep prejudice at the root of their arguments. That’s not where a party trying to expand beyond its white Dixie base and woo independents wants to be in 2010.

    Polls consistently show that independents, however fiscally conservative, are closer to Democrats than Republicans on social issues. (In May’s Gallup survey, 67 percent of independents favored repealing “don’t ask.”) This is why Scott Brown, enjoying what may be a short-lived honeymoon in his own party, calls himself a “Scott Brown Republican.” A Scott Brown Republican isn’t a Boehner or Hatch Republican. In his interview with Barbara Walters last weekend, he distanced himself from Sarah Palin, said he was undecided on “don’t ask” and declared same-sex marriage a “settled” issue in his state, Massachusetts, where it is legal.

    It’s in this political context that we can see that there may have been some method to Obama’s troublesome tardiness on gay issues after all. But as we learned about this White House and the Democratic Congress in the health care debacle, they are perfectly capable of dropping the ball at any moment. Let’s hope they don’t this time. Should they actually press forward on “don’t ask” in an election year with Mullen and Gates on board — and with even McCain’s buddy, Joe Lieberman, calling for action “as soon as possible” — they could further the goal and raise the political price for those who stand in the way. Recalcitrant Congressional Republicans will have to explain why their perennial knee-jerk deference to “whatever the commanders want” extends to Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal on troop surges but not to Mullen, who outranks them, on civil rights.

    The more bigotry pushed out of the closet for all voters to see, the more likely it is that Americans will be moved to grant overdue full citizenship to gay Americans. It won’t happen overnight, any more than full civil rights for African-Americans immediately followed Truman’s desegregation of the armed forces. But there can be no doubt that Mike Mullen’s powerful act of conscience last week, just as we marked the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro, N.C., lunch counter sit-in, pushed history forward. The revealing silence that followed from so many of the usual suspects was pretty golden too.

    Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

  13. #373
    Senior Member Bob's Avatar
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    When is the President going to get moving on the Equal Rights Amendment? Enough of this dilly-dallying.

  14. #374
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    One of his first accomplishments:

    Obama Signs Equal Pay for Equal Work Bill

  15. #375

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    February 8, 2010
    Op-Ed Columnist
    America Is Not Yet Lost
    By PAUL KRUGMAN

    We’ve always known that America’s reign as the world’s greatest nation would eventually end. But most of us imagined that our downfall, when it came, would be something grand and tragic.

    What we’re getting instead is less a tragedy than a deadly farce. Instead of fraying under the strain of imperial overstretch, we’re paralyzed by procedure. Instead of re-enacting the decline and fall of Rome, we’re re-enacting the dissolution of 18th-century Poland.

    A brief history lesson: In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Polish legislature, the Sejm, operated on the unanimity principle: any member could nullify legislation by shouting “I do not allow!” This made the nation largely ungovernable, and neighboring regimes began hacking off pieces of its territory. By 1795 Poland had disappeared, not to re-emerge for more than a century.

    Today, the U.S. Senate seems determined to make the Sejm look good by comparison.

    Last week, after nine months, the Senate finally approved Martha Johnson to head the General Services Administration, which runs government buildings and purchases supplies. It’s an essentially nonpolitical position, and nobody questioned Ms. Johnson’s qualifications: she was approved by a vote of 94 to 2. But Senator Christopher Bond, Republican of Missouri, had put a “hold” on her appointment to pressure the government into approving a building project in Kansas City.

    This dubious achievement may have inspired Senator Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama. In any case, Mr. Shelby has now placed a hold on all outstanding Obama administration nominations — about 70 high-level government positions — until his state gets a tanker contract and a counterterrorism center.

    What gives individual senators this kind of power? Much of the Senate’s business relies on unanimous consent: it’s difficult to get anything done unless everyone agrees on procedure. And a tradition has grown up under which senators, in return for not gumming up everything, get the right to block nominees they don’t like.

    In the past, holds were used sparingly. That’s because, as a Congressional Research Service report on the practice says, the Senate used to be ruled by “traditions of comity, courtesy, reciprocity, and accommodation.” But that was then. Rules that used to be workable have become crippling now that one of the nation’s major political parties has descended into nihilism, seeing no harm — in fact, political dividends — in making the nation ungovernable.

    How bad is it? It’s so bad that I miss Newt Gingrich.

    Readers may recall that in 1995 Mr. Gingrich, then speaker of the House, cut off the federal government’s funding and forced a temporary government shutdown. It was ugly and extreme, but at least Mr. Gingrich had specific demands: he wanted Bill Clinton to agree to sharp cuts in Medicare.

    Today, by contrast, the Republican leaders refuse to offer any specific proposals. They inveigh against the deficit — and last month their senators voted in lockstep against any increase in the federal debt limit, a move that would have precipitated another government shutdown if Democrats hadn’t had 60 votes. But they also denounce anything that might actually reduce the deficit, including, ironically, any effort to spend Medicare funds more wisely.

    And with the national G.O.P. having abdicated any responsibility for making things work, it’s only natural that individual senators should feel free to take the nation hostage until they get their pet projects funded.

    The truth is that given the state of American politics, the way the Senate works is no longer consistent with a functioning government. Senators themselves should recognize this fact and push through changes in those rules, including eliminating or at least limiting the filibuster. This is something they could and should do, by majority vote, on the first day of the next Senate session.

    Don’t hold your breath. As it is, Democrats don’t even seem able to score political points by highlighting their opponents’ obstructionism.

    It should be a simple message (and it should have been the central message in Massachusetts): a vote for a Republican, no matter what you think of him as a person, is a vote for paralysis. But by now, we know how the Obama administration deals with those who would destroy it: it goes straight for the capillaries. Sure enough, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, accused Mr. Shelby of “silliness.” Yep, that will really resonate with voters.

    After the dissolution of Poland, a Polish officer serving under Napoleon penned a song that eventually — after the country’s post-World War I resurrection — became the country’s national anthem. It begins, “Poland is not yet lost.”

    Well, America is not yet lost. But the Senate is working on it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/op...08krugman.html

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