The Morning Grumpy – 6/21/12

21 Jun

All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

 Hey there Baby Godfather, what’s new?

1. Over the past few weeks, I’ve received several comments, emails and messages on Twitter and Facebook that ask why I no longer write about local issues. The answer is that I’m not ignoring local issues, I’m simply taking a break from them unless the mood strikes me to write about them. Each week, Geoff Kelly, Buck Quigley, Bruce Fisher, Aaron Lowinger, Alan Bedenko, Cory Perla and the others on staff at Artvoice provide extensive and excellent coverage of local issues, both in print and on the web. I’m sure you already read their articles, but if you don’t, you should.

I think I bring some value to the table as a curator of sorts. I consume an obnoxious amount of information every day and I try to highlight media that I think flies below the radar for those with less voracious media appetites. So, I decided to provide a daily compendium of interesting links and information that I think you need to consume.

As election season ramps up, I’ll probably get back into the groove of beat coverage on local politics and revealing unsavory things about the terrible people vying for your votes this November. Until then, give me a break. After seven years of covering the same people arguing over the same shit week after week after week, I’m exhausted.

2. David Frum highlights a poll which lays out exactly why America can’t have nice things and informs why the nation is mired in political gridlock.

YouGov asked: “Which of the following would you support as ways to reduce the nation’s budget deficit?” They altered the rules of polling slightly, however, to deny respondents a “don’t know” answer. Respondents had to answer something, either yes or no.

Denied the “don’t know” exit, Democrats favored higher taxes on the wealthy, 77.2%, and cuts in military spending, 46%. Democrats intensely opposed cuts in Medicare and Social Security, only about 5% in favor of either. Just 14% of Democrat answered “none of the above.”

Republicans were a very different story. Unsurprisingly, many fewer Republicans supported tax increases on the wealthy (27.1%) and cuts in military spending (15.5%). Yet when denied the “don’t know” exit, Republicans were scarcely more accepting of cuts to Medicare or Social Security than Democrats, only 13.5% and 15.% approving, respectively. A majority of Republicans, 53.3%, answered “none of the above”—no changes to taxes, defense, or entitlements.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is our quandary.

As it turns out, most of us aren’t very smart. We also want things and don’t want to pay for them. I know, breaking news, right?  But still, it’s revealing to see it laid out so starkly in a poll.

3. Retiring Senator Olympia Snowe (R, ME) is reconsidering the filibuster.

In her final months in office, Snowe is now talking to some of her Senate colleagues — Democrats, she says — about what, if any, procedural reforms could deter the chamber from turning routine votes into weapons of mass political destruction.

Snowe is now looking at ways that Senate procedure could be reformed to help alleviate partisan gridlock. “I’m doing some research on how cloture has been used” since it was put into effect in 1917, she explains. In classic Snowe form, her hope is to try to find a procedural fix that would also be a compromise between the minority and the majority — “so that neither gets the upper hand,” she explains.

The article is more hopeful than definitive, but until there is comprehensive filibuster reform, we won;t have a functional democracy in this country. Use of the filibuster since 2008 has been unprecedented and it no longer takes a majority vote to pass legislation, it takes a supermajority of 60 votes to even bring the bill to the floor for a vote. If Snowe can lead a coalition of Senators to sponsor reform, it will be a gift to the country.

4. Romnesia, the illness associated with Mitt Romney’s inability to remember his past, and his willingness to deny it if asked about it.

It’s not only that past events and stances—say, his implementation of an Obamacare-like reform in Massachusetts, or his 1994 call for “full equality” for gay and lesbians—undermine his current efforts by calling into question his political integrity. Romney often distorts—or is detached from—significant realities of his personal past.

I don’t think Romney even knows his actual personal story anymore, it’s changed so many times to suit his different constituencies and audiences that I truly don’t believe he knows what the truth is anymore.

5. Over 120 recently declassified CIA documents confirm what so many of us thought, President Bush dropped the ball on Al-Qaeda before 9/11. The embarrassing document cache reveals some unsavory truths about the administration’s lack of interest in counter-terrorism and Osama Bin Laden, specifically.

Perhaps most damning are the documents showing that the CIA had bin Laden in its cross hairs a full year before 9/11 — but didn’t get the funding from the Bush administration White House to take him out or even continue monitoring him. The CIA materials directly contradict the many claims of Bush officials that it was aggressively pursuing al-Qaida prior to 9/11, and that nobody could have predicted the attacks. “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released, because they paint a picture of the CIA knowing something would happen before 9/11, but they didn’t get the institutional support they needed,” says Barbara Elias-Sanborn, the NSA fellow who edited the materials.

Many of the documents publicize for the first time what was first made clear in the 9/11 Commission: The White House received a truly remarkable amount of warnings that al-Qaida was trying to attack the United States. From June to September 2001, a full seven CIA Senior Intelligence Briefs detailed that attacks were imminent, an incredible amount of information from one intelligence agency.

During the entire month of August, President Bush was on vacation at his ranch in Texas — which tied with one of Richard Nixon’s as the longest vacation ever taken by a president. CIA Director George Tenet has said he didn’t speak to Bush once that month, describing the president as being “on leave.” Bush did not hold a Principals’ meeting on terrorism until September 4, 2001, having downgraded the meetings to a deputies’ meeting, which then-counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has repeatedly said slowed down anti-Bin Laden efforts “enormously, by months.”

Shameful.

Fact Of The Day: The numbers on a Roulette wheel add up to 666.

Quote Of The Day: “If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.” -Don Marquis

Video Of The Day: To celebrate my son’s first day of summer vacation, my favorite clip from “The Sandlot” – Wendy Peffercorn

Song Of The Day: “Pay Your Dues” – The Nuclears (An old friend of mine is the frontman and I LOVE where he’s going with this band)

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chris@artvoice.com

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4 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 6/21/12”

  1. Jesse Griffis June 21, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    I know you’re a left-wing group here, but I wonder what you guys think of Obama’s leftist failings:

    * Secret (and not-so-secret) wars in Africa and the ME (Yemen).
    * More deportations that any other administration, ever.
    * More secrecy, more documents classified and less declassified than ever before.
    * More whistleblowers prosecuted than all other administrations combined, and given that the whistleblowers were blowing the whistle on Bush-era WoT garbage, this is really strange to me.
    * More blatant hypocrisy on the Drug War: Obama as member of the Choom Gang in college, now laughs (literally!) at the idea of even discussing legalizing marijuana, plus his DoJ stomping all over state laws allowing medicinal marijuana (see massive DEA drug raids in California, threats all over the western states).
    * Fast and Furious (guns in Mexico).

    I’m honestly curious how you can seem to completely brush this stuff under the rug. Progressives are supposed to be excellent on civil rights, and I don’t know how you can suggest Obama’s done anything more than pander to you guys (“I luvs the gay marriage now” and “don’t deport kids for now”).

    Actually, it’s kinda like how the conservatives talk a bullshit game about fiscal responsibility and then completely blow it. Maybe that’s how it works – neither side gets their ‘core values’ right, voters are too stupid to realize it.

    • Alan Bedenko June 21, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      Since you addressed it to a ‘group”, I’ll answer in part.   

      – Firstly, I’m not a “leftist” nor do I consider myself to be one. I’m actually quite moderate – it’s the domestic right wing that has become “rightist” and extreme, to the point where people in the classic center are considered liberal. Now, to your points: 

      – Some of these items I don’t give two shits about. 
      – Some of these items I’m not as informed as I’d like to be about, so I withhold opinion and outrage. Ignorant outrage is the worst kind. 
      – The drug war issue is, to my mind, where gay marriage was in 1999 – a remote impossibility that demanded a mealy compromise called “civil unions”. Eventually people will come around, but it’ll take time and advocacy. 
      – Fast and Furious: is it Congress’ job to make political hay out of a reasonable and previously-used law enforcement strategy that went wrong? The only outrage there is that Holder serves a Democratic President, and it has to do with limiting firearms in some way. It’s telling that the right is pointing to the murder of a Border Patrol agent by a trafficker alleged to have used one of the guns from the program. All of a sudden it’s guns, and not people, who kill people? 
      – The rest of the stuff you’ve so generalized that I have no idea where you get the information or what sort of information you’re talking about. If you want to link to sources that confirm that the Obama administration is the “most” this or that, go for it. But I’d prefer those sources to be nonpartisan, respected, mainstreamed, and journalistic and not from either Daily Kos or Twitchy. 

      • Jesse Griffis June 22, 2012 at 9:18 am #

        Is ‘concern’ okay? Or do you only go from happy to outraged with no middle ground?

  2. Tom Beecher June 21, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    Glad you linked to David Frum. He’s one of a few conservative voices that I can stomach. He’s respectful, he’s reasonable, and doesn’t insult those that disagree with him. A rare breed. 

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