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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.”


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)

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