Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Even More Links for Wednesday

with 14 comments

“With the lame duck, the 111th Congress may even surpass the 89th [of President Lyndon Johnson] in terms of accomplishments,” said Norman Ornstein, a congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute. Obama’s spin on this (naturally) is that his approach works; my sense is that the 111th Congress was successful despite his efforts at compromise, not because of them, and that it could have done even more had he proved more willing to get bloody. One of the big disappointments from the lame duck, the failure of DREAM Act, is still a clear win in political terms; it hurts Republicans badly, perhaps permanently, with America’s fastest-growing demographic. I believe the technical term for this is “making them eat shit”; it’s the next best thing to actually achieving your policy goals.

* Is this Obama’s second act? It feels like it. Maybe it’s just the rosy afterglow of the Spider-Man shout-out.

* Of course, every time I start feeling better about Obama, he goes and does something like this.

* Another way to fight climate change without Republican interference: use the executive branch’s purchasing power.

* 100% of returning Democratic Senators want to fix the filibuster at the start of the next Congress. That’s great news. I can’t wait to hear the excuse when they don’t.

* Rachel Maddow and #mooreandme.

* On the science tip, it turns out placebos work even when you know they’re fake.

* And austerity is your word of the year. Second place: pragmatic. Third place: moratorium. 2010 really hasn’t been great.

14 Responses

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  1. how could any lame duck session serve as a preview of what a president will do when it’s over? if it proves anything at all about obama, it should be that everyone who ever criticized him in the past by saying he could and should have fought harder was right, not that he will fight harder in the future (and most of the things he won here are, like always, republican-friendly or republican-indifferent ideas they only opposed on principle). i don’t think obama is anywhere near as contradictory as everyone keeps saying he is.

    if the augurs of the moment are correct, austerity will be the word for NEXT year.

    did the dems really gain much political capital from losing the dream act, or did the republicans just lose theirs? close, but not quite the same thing.

    traxus4420

    December 23, 2010 at 4:15 am

    • *like*

      I pretty much had the same reaction. Obama’s recent “victories” include enablement of military recruiters (DADT repeal), a nuclear treaty which makes me feel about 0% safer in the long run, and preliminary passage of tax cuts. Shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.

      Alex

      December 23, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      • “enablement of military recruiters”

        Come on, this is clearly a case of you never wanting to be happy. Repealing DADT is a major milestone for equality that was fought tooth and nail by the right wing; it’s an actual victory, not an ersatz one.

        The nuclear treaty is a victory only because the GOP stupidly decided to fight something completely noncontroversial. But they did and they lost — so it makes them look bad and “our side” (however loosely defined) look good. Better than the alternatives.

        Tax cuts I’m with you. This was just tactical electioneering: good politics / bad policy. Still, if you want Obama to be reelected, it should probably make you happier than it makes you sad.

        “Shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.”

        No argument there.

        gerrycanavan

        December 23, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      • I’m very ambivalent about DADT. I think it represents a step forward for the LGBTQ Civil Rights movement, but I honestly don’t think it is of the same order as racial integration in the army for the sole reason that the military is not remotely as integral to society as it was in the 1940s and 50s (although it continues to receive a massive share of public wealth). We don’t have a public military anymore. So for me, this means that the military no longer has to look bad for queer nationalists, and they can support it without compunction. That’s not something I’m super eager to cheer for. The fact that Republicans opposed it tooth and nail doesn’t change any of that. It’s a Pyrrhic victory.

        Alex

        December 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm

      • I expressed some of that ambivalence in a post earlier this week about ROTC coming back to the Ivies. I hear what you’re saying. But all the same the idea that DADT repeal is a Pyrrhic victory strikes me as completely bizarre. It’s the kind of totalizing pessimism that denies things can EVER improve at all. Surely you agree that America without DADT is better than America with it.

        I’m not even really sure how it’s supposed to be Pyrrhic. How does a (potential) slight uptick in excessive nationalism outweigh a concrete advance on equality? At the worst, it’s still a net plus.

        Not to mention that gay service members will now have strong claims against DOMA and can join that fight too…

        gerrycanavan

        December 23, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      • How does a (potential) slight uptick in excessive nationalism outweigh a concrete advance on equality?

        I would rephrase that: “How does a (potential) slight uptick in excessive nationalism outweigh a (slight) concrete advance on equality?” And the answer seems fairly obvious. By giving the military more legitimacy and more power to impose its view. I would be willing to bet that a non-insignificant number of the Senators who voted against it (e.g., McCain) secretly found it to be a measure that will help the Right.

        There’s no fundamental contradiction between supporting gay rights and opposing the rights of others, even if, as a rule, those who are oppressed tend to see oppression more clearly, and even if queer activists are at the forefront of numerous social justice causes.

        The public sphere in the U.S. seems to have a very clear pair of rules: making civil rights claims, while it will get you in trouble in the short term, is allowed, based on an idea of fundamental equality in the constitution (although this is, itself, the legacy of a very difficult battle). Opposing the military or trying to get economic justice enacted is absolutely forbidden.

        I’ll grant the case on DOMA. You’re right, and a military official in support of gay marriage would have an air of legitimacy that a civilian in support of gay marriage would not have. (Although we have to recognize that while DADT may be repealed in law, that doesn’t mean queer service members are going to come out in droves, just like the legalization of homosexuality in the U.S. didn’t open the terrain for midwestern teenagers to come out of the closet).

        Alex

        December 23, 2010 at 2:03 pm

      • By giving the military more legitimacy and more power to impose its view.

        Could the situation really be worse? As you say the military pretty much already has maximal legitimacy and power in the U.S.

        I’ll grant the case on DOMA. You’re right, and a military official in support of gay marriage would have an air of legitimacy that a civilian in support of gay marriage would not have. (Although we have to recognize that while DADT may be repealed in law, that doesn’t mean queer service members are going to come out in droves, just like the legalization of homosexuality in the U.S. didn’t open the terrain for midwestern teenagers to come out of the closet).

        I think one potential avenue for DOMA repeal will be survivorship benefits for the spouse of a deceased homosexual service member who’d been married someplace like MA, VT, IA. With DADT repealed it will be hard for the government to make the case that survivorship discrimination is legal.

        gerrycanavan

        December 23, 2010 at 2:24 pm

      • Oh, and re: McCain; I can’t figure out if he’s really just hung-up on it or if he hates the idea of Obama getting his way. Regardless, I don’t think it helps the right more than it helps the left; this was a genuinely bitter pill for them.

        gerrycanavan

        December 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm

      • I think that DADT repeal is the next step in the marginalization of religious literalism, the advance of secularism, if that makes any sense. Really, the most chills-inducing moment of his presidency so far was the line about non-believers in the inauguration speech.

        Dan

        December 23, 2010 at 7:19 pm

  2. how could any lame duck session serve as a preview of what a president will do when it’s over? if it proves anything at all about obama, it should be that everyone who ever criticized him in the past by saying he could and should have fought harder was right, not that he will fight harder in the future (and most of the things he won here are, like always, republican-friendly or republican-indifferent ideas they only opposed on principle).

    That’s all true. But Reagan pivoted back towards his disgruntled base following his defeats in 1982, and left office the saint of the right. Obama should do exactly the same thing — which in the context of the 112th Congress will necessarily mean taking a more aggressive posture with the Republicans now that they control the House.

    The fact that he, Reid, and Pelosi ran circles around the GOP this lame duck suggests they can actually achieve this.

    did the dems really gain much political capital from losing the dream act, or did the republicans just lose theirs?

    I think it’s both. One area where the GOP is much stronger than the Democrats is in their willingness to put forward quixotic failures (like their ubiquitous, knowingly doomed challenges to abortion rights) in an effort to rile up the base. DREAM is just that sort of issue for the Democratic side; it energizes the base (not just lefties; my upstate NY, labor Democrat are pissed about it too) while dividing the GOP from a constituency it will need to make inroads in to remain viable in the coming decades. It’s good policy, good tactics. They should put it up for a vote once a session at least.

    gerrycanavan

    December 23, 2010 at 11:35 am

    • i know they can achieve comparable successes if they put their minds to it, but they also could have many times before. i just think a more meaningful sign of the future than counting points is obama’s attempts to ‘restore confidence’ with his elite constituencies and with the non-insane segment of the right, presumably on the subject of national-level austerity measures. this seems to be the direction of ‘economic reality’ and therefore the subject of the next round of compromises.

      i mean it COULD just be media hysteria, but come on, let’s not kid ourselves.

      http://www.slate.com/id/2278061/

      traxus4420

      December 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm

  3. Don’t get too shocked, but Orac says that placebo study is bogus.

    gerrycanavan

    December 23, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    • Yes, but a bogus study still has the same effect, even after you’re told it’s a bogus study.

      Christ, I Need A Drink

      December 23, 2010 at 8:45 pm

      • You win.

        gerrycanavan

        December 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm


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