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Craig Ferguson on Obama’s Negotiating Skills

10:51 pm in Uncategorized by Jane Hamsher

Democrats just seem to be missing the negotiating gene.

Yesterday someone told me about a Senator who was going to trade their vote away on the tax cut bill — which they deeply oppose — in exchange for the right to have a symbolic vote they knew they would lose.

Made me want to put my head through a window.

Or, at least invite them over for a game of poker.

Harry Reid spent what — $25 million dollars? Like three times as much money as anyone has ever spent in a Nevada political race, to beat a complete mutant.  Maybe the worst political candidate of all time.

Now everyone’s running around like it was the biggest Democratic victory of 2010.  And you know what’s worse?  It was.

Random Infrequent MOTU Encounter

1:11 pm in MOTU by Jane Hamsher

“Obama’s South Korea trip was the worst overseas visit by an American President. Ever.”

Well, he’s finally lost his base.

SUPERTRAINS!!

6:05 am in Uncategorized by Jane Hamsher

Behold the power of Atrios:

As a candidate for president, Obama spoke of high-speed rail as part of his vision of "rebuilding America." Campaigning in Indiana, he talked of revitalizing the Midwest by connecting cities with faster rail service to relieve congestion and improve energy conservation. 

"The time is right now for us to start thinking about high-speed rail as an alternative to air transportation connecting all these cities," he said. "And think about what a great project that would be in terms of rebuilding America." 

But the administration never emphasized high-speed rail when the House Appropriations Committee was writing its bill in January, so no money was included. The first real request came only days before the Senate Appropriations panel marked up, and the committee had to scramble to find room for $2 billion — in part by cutting other Obama priorities. 

Last week, Emanuel greatly upped the ante, asking House-Senate negotiators for $10 billion for high-speed rail — far more than either bill provided. 

"I put it in there for the president," Emanuel said in an interview. "The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill, his commitment for the future." 

Emanuel himself was excited by the idea, but the decision to wager so much on high-speed rail reflected the fact that other candidates for a signature Obama issue were fading.   Read the rest of this entry →

Restoring Trust With A Ban on Bank Lobbying

2:02 pm in Uncategorized by Jane Hamsher

Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales on the curious willingness of elected officials to help bankers but do nothing for mortgage holders:

Is it just an accident that in 2008 the financial industry spent $442.5 million in political contributions, while the automotive industry only spent $17.3 million, and homeowners spent none?

Unfortunately, this cynical explanation finds support in a recent paper by three of our colleagues. They find that, controlling for ideology, the higher the amount of political contributions congresspeople receive from the financial industry, the more likely they are to vote for TARP. And it’s not simply that representatives better predisposed toward the financial industry receive more money. In fact, political contributions did not seem to affect the vote of the 24 congressmen who retired in 2008.

This bias is no secret to the American people. In our survey, 50 percent of respondents said that former Secretary Treasury Henry Paulson was acting in the interest of Goldman Sachs, and not in that of the country. The result is a loss in the trust Americans have toward their government, their institutions, and the financial markets.

Given his campaign promise of change and the economic disaster that has resulted Read the rest of this entry →

False: Obama Is Not the Most Liberal Senator

9:04 am in Uncategorized by Jane Hamsher

Every time I do a debate with some wingnut these days, they are always citing the National Journal poll that lists Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate.  More liberal than Russ Feingold?  Really?  More liberal than socialist Bernie Sanders?  Seriously?

I guess it’s time to debunk this myth once again.

Common sense alone should tell anyone that Barack Obama’s voting record is almost idential to Hillary Clinton’s, and she’s roundly considered a "centrist" Democrat.   So how did the National Journal screw this up? Josh Patashnik at TNR actually did a good analysis.

Problem #1 — they don’t count missed votes, and Obama was on the road campaigning for much of the time.  He publicly supported free trade with Peru, which would have counted as a "conservative" vote, for instance.  Since a large group of Democrats are only separated by a few votes, one or two votes could dramatically change the rankings.

Problem #2 — they impute ideology when it isn’t necessarily there:

Two of Russ Feingold’s four "conservative" votes were against Democratic bills that would have endorsed a partition of Iraq and limited the mission of U.S. troops there to counterterrorism and training missions. These "conservative" votes, like Sanders’s on immigration, came because he was further left than the bulk of the Democratic caucus.

 The ridiculousness of the system explains why Chris Dodd was ranked the 23rd most liberal senator, casting four "conservative" votes:

One was against the Office of Public Integrity bill. Another was against an obscure amendment that, in a similar vein, would have tightened conflict-of-interest rules for individuals serving on FDA advisory panels (Kerry and Ted Kennedy took the "conservative" side with Dodd). The other two were Iraq votes on measures setting withdrawal timelines for American troops, which Dodd, who during the presidential campaign criticized Obama and Hillary Clinton from the left on Iraq, opposed because he wanted an even more aggressive timeline. And because Dodd was absent for so many votes, the impact of these "conservative" votes was magnified–so the very liberal Dodd landed right in the middle of the Democratic pack, despite not casting a single genuinely conservative vote.

Read the rest of this entry →