Virtual Front Page, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010

Nothing local at this hour, but here’s what we do have:

  1. Wall Street Surges After Upbeat Reports on Economy (NYT) — Partly based on surprisingly good U.S. manufacturing news.
  2. Obama condemns W Bank ‘slaughter’ (BBC) — And hopes the latest murder of Israelis by Hamas doesn’t derail the peace talks that started today.
  3. August U.S. Car Sales Plummet (WSJ) — Of course, that’s up against “cash for clunkers” last year.
  4. Report Shows Unauthorized Immigrants Leaving U.S. (NPR) — Which is actually NOT good news, since it reflects the lack of jobs here.
  5. Police: Hostage standoff ends, suspect dead (WashPost) — So… who would be moved to violence by the Discovery Channel?
  6. GOP Promises Detailed Agenda, If Not A ‘Contract’ (NPR) — Remember the “Contract On America”? That was what they called it, right?

22 thoughts on “Virtual Front Page, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010

  1. Phillip

    Re #6: there seems to be a constant refrain that this Republican “agenda” is more modest than the ’94 “Contract.” Well, of course. Just in case the GOP does take control of Congress (especially if they take both houses), they know that A) whatever they promise they’ll be held accountable for, and B) the nihilistic and destructive politics they’ve practiced as the minority party in this last Congress have ensured that the Dems will follow the same strategy if they are the minority party in Congress, plus they have the Presidential veto to boot. Therefore, nothing will get done. And certainly any talk of health care reform repeal is pure fantasy.

  2. bud

    This is a very tough economy, no doubt about it. But I think one more good nudge just might prime the pump enough to put us over the top. What we need is some type of incentive to prompt businesses to spend more on hiring. I don’t think the standard tax cut approach would do much. Rather we need some type of direct hiring incentive. Perhaps the government could provide a targeted tax cut for businesses who hire and retain employees for at least 6 months.

  3. Doug Ross


    Guess what will happen to the unemployment rate as soon as those six months are over? Same thing we saw with Cash For Clunkers and the Home Buyer Tax Credit. You want to create jobs? Cut taxes permanently and cut government spending to match.


    If the Republicans DO take control, they will likely act just as dumb as the Democrats did. Instead of doing exactly what the people want, they will do what they need to do to reward THEIR lobbying factions. They will blame Democrats for the next two years for any issue. It’s the same cycle repeatedly.

    Until we get rid of all the politicians who have been in there for decades, don’t expect anything different.

    As for healthcare, if Republicans were smart, they would introduce many small, specific bills targeting the worst aspects of Obamacare. Get Democrats to vote on the record FOR specific items. That was the Democrats huge mistake. They should have started with one bill that did the things that could get approved easily (transportability, no denying coverage, coverage for kids up to 26, etc.) and then slogged it out on the tough stuff. Instead we ended up with a monstrosity that nobody understands and is not supported by the majority of Americans. Reid/Pelosi blew their chance to do it right.

  4. SusanG

    So, given that the problem is not Republican or Democrat, but just having been in Congress, you will vote for Rob Miller over Joe Wilson, then? And Alvin Greene? They both have no experience and would get a couple of folks who have been in for awhile out.

  5. bud

    Doug, I disagree. Businesses are already sitting on their profits. More profits are unlikely to do anything. There certainly some risk in what I’m proposing but I think the situation as it stands just needs one more nudge. Once folks see the prospect of long-term employment they will start to spend. Otherwise we continue with this cycle of the rich getting richer while the rest of us flounder.

  6. Phillip

    @ Doug: Obama by and large did a lot of what he was elected to do. He was elected to get a health care bill through, and he did. He was elected to get us out of Iraq, and he did. He was elected to focus more on Afghanistan rather than Iraq, and he has, though I’m not sure how that’s turning out. He was elected because he was trusted more on the economy, and he did get a stimulus bill through—but fears of political opposition trimmed the size too much to do enough good. Christina Romer was right, and Obama wrong on this. The fact that a stimulus of some kind was definitely coming in an Obama administration was clearly known before the election. Obama did what he was elected to do.

    In fact, most of Obama’s main problems have come from aiming too low because of either real or imagined fears of Republican truculence. The health care bill got nowhere near single payer of course, and was reined in a great deal in Obama’s naively-stubborn fantasy of getting some bipartisan support, which in the end was never going to happen, because the decision to follow a “scorched-earth” policy of opposition was made pretty much the day after the election. (Instructive exercise: go back and read the viciousness of the comments on Brad’s original blog for the State in the days immediately following the election.)

    You speak of the “things that could have been approved easily”—no such thing with this Republican minority, Doug. If Obama had taken this approach, absolutely nothing would have been passed.

  7. Brad

    Phillip, this is the second time you’ve made this point, and I can’t recall if I rebutted it before, so I will now…

    Obama was NOT elected to “get us out of Iraq.” If you voted for him for that reason, you weren’t paying attention.

    One might be able to say that he was NOMINATED in part because he had always been against our Iraq involvement (an easy position for him, since he was not a senator at the time). That gave him a lot of cred with that base. Of course, that was not why WE endorsed him for the nomination; we saw other qualities.

    In the general election, he was up against someone who would also have been withdrawing combat troops. In fact, that would have happened had Bush been able to run for a third term, and had won (an unlikely scenario, but I’m playing “what-ifs” here).

    The only difference is that McCain and Bush were ready to draw down because the Surge had worked. You wouldn’t have heard Obama saying that, because he had opposed the Surge. That was one of a number of reasons why, in the fall, we endorsed McCain.

    The good news about Obama from MY perspective, with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan, is that his actions don’t match the things he says for his antiwar base. He’s more pragmatic than that. Which gets us back to why we endorsed him in the primary…

  8. Doug Ross


    I agree with you on the issues Obama was elected on. Naturally, I don’t agree that the stimulus was too small.

    But on a larger point I think it WOULD have been possible for Reid/Pelost to deliver a Top 10 list for Obamacare that would have been filibuster proof. They have the majority. Are you telling me Republicans would filibuster a bill that said “Noone can be denied coverage” and “Noone can be dropped from coverage once they have it”?

  9. Phillip

    Sorry, Brad. This time, the facts do not exactly support your view. Because you supported the Iraq war, and because Obama won, you’d like to believe that it did not play a role in the election…well, while one could say it was probably the economy that was the major reason Obama won, you can’t pick and choose the issues that played a role in the outcome, while also pretending that there were no differences between the two candidates on Iraq:

    This link is just one of many that remind those who need reminding that John McCain was opposed to any timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq. So, Brad, while you may SPECULATE that a President McCain would also have withdrawn troops from Iraq, and you MAY be right, it’s just as likely that any withdrawal would have been much smaller and much slower than the 19-month drawdown by Obama.

    Now, you can argue that McCain’s approach would have been better than Obama’s; but you cannot plausibly claim that Obama and McCain had essentially the same position on Iraq and that therefore Iraq could not have had anything to do with Obama’s victory over McCain.

  10. Brad

    OK, I thought you were talking about leaving Iraq. I didn’t know you were talking about timetables.

    Timetables are, of course, a horrible idea. You don’t give the enemy a date so that he can mark his calendar, lie low and conserve his resources, waiting for you to leave.

    And if the American people voted for Obama because they wanted a date to circle on a calendar, then the American people were wrong.

    Yep, we do get to say things like that, here in the land of the free. Kinda shocking to the ears, though, isn’t it?

  11. Brad

    Personally, I liked McCain’s stay-for-100-years-if-circumstances-dictate approach. You know, the way we’ve maintained troops in Germany for more than half that long.

    But circumstances, as it happens, have been favorable for a drawdown. I’m kinda worried about how FAR we’ve drawn down, but we’ll see…

  12. bud

    Are you telling me Republicans would filibuster a bill that said “Noone can be denied coverage” and “Noone can be dropped from coverage once they have it”?


  13. bud

    circumstances, as it happens, have been favorable for a drawdown.

    The same thing could have been said in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Fact is the country is still in disarray. Just because the MSM ignores it does make it any less so. 25+% unemployment, spotty electical supply, slums everywhere and a disfunctional government all are part of the fabric of Iraq. The reduction in violence is mostly the result of the awakening. The so-called surge played, at best, a minor role. The war-mongers just can’t make up enough ridiculous nonsense to make this disaster look good. Worst foreign policy disaster in American history. My only beef with Obama is that he didn’t get all the troops out. Hopefully that will happen on schedule.

  14. Phillip

    Bud, that was Doug, not Brad, who questioned whether Repubs would really filibuster those proposals…but I would have to agree with you, they would. On the pretext that they would insist on some conservative-style policy being included with it.

    Also, Bud, on “worst foreign policy disaster in American history,” although the negative blowback from Iraq adventurism may endure for years, who knows, I can’t quite agree with your ranking. I think history will still record our involvement in Vietnam as the worst disaster, the most grievous error.

  15. Doug Ross


    Agree with you on Vietnam. It set the stage for Iraq. It also created a large segment of the American population that didn’t agree with our policy of taking war to other nations pre-emptively and with nation building objectives. On top of that, television provided a view of war that was sanitized, glorified, and “propogandized” as WWII had been.

  16. Brad

    What? WHAT?!?!

    It’s often difficult to argue with Bud and Doug because they’ll just make up stuff.

    Excuse me, but television is rightly credited, or blamed, as much as any other single factor, for making the war in Vietnam unpopular in this country.

    And I’d really like (or would I?) to hear your reasoning behind the statement that Vietnam “set the stage for Iraq.”

    What Vietnam did, rightly or wrongly, was something that you and Bud and Phillip should like — turned the country dead against using military power in the world, for any reason. If anything Iraq was a complete negation of the effects of Vietnam on this country. But I wouldn’t quite say that, because the event that really undid the Vietnam Complex on the national psyche was the Gulf War in 1991.

  17. SusanG

    On whether Republicans would reject a healthcare option to not allow denial of coverage — I think the problem is if a company cannot deny coverage without also requiring universal coverage, the health insurance costs skyrocket, since healthy people would wait until they were sick to buy coverage. I have not heard of any way to require companies to cover all comers without also requiring everyone to have coverage.
    So the Republicans are stuck on this one — they want everyone to be able to get affordable coverage, and yet don’t want government telling people what to do. Since it seems to be more important to them to limit government than to provide coverage, they in practical terms must support the ability of insurance companies to refuse coverage. They just can’t say it out loud.

  18. Doug Ross


    Replace “was” with “wasn’t” in my comment about television. (You really need to add an “edit” button or a “delete” button if one exists) I agree with you – thanks to television, Americans could get a better picture of what the Vietnam War really looked like, warts and all. Ir was easier in WWII to paint the soldiers as heroic patriots fighting an evil axis… It was harder to do that during Vietnam when the front page of the newspaper shows a naked Vietnamese girl running in terror down the street. Now we can see Abu Ghraib, we can see the truth about Pat Tillman’s death, we can see civilian casualties.

    Vietnam begat the Gulf War which fathered The Global War On Terror. Each “war” wasn’t really a war but a military police action to further a global policy. The Global War on Terror isn’t even a war. It’s a coordinated effort to utilize our massive military might to try and eradicate a bunch of terrorists. If there isn’t a war to fight, defense contractors might actually have to do something productive.

  19. Brad

    Whew! I’m glad to see we’re on the same page on the television thing, at least.

    As for your assertion that it “was easier in WWII to paint the soldiers as heroic patriots fighting an evil axis,” you know what made that EXTRA easy? The fact that we actually WERE fighting an evil axis — in fact, THE evil axis.

    And as for “Vietnam begat the Gulf War” — no freaking way. The Gulf War was an absolute negation of the “lessons” the nation had allegedly learned from Vietnam (except for the military — they had learned that they wanted overwhelming force to be brought to bear in a conflict with clearly defined objectives and a definite “exit strategy,” and that’s just what they got). And about time, too.

  20. Phillip

    It’s a tricky business drawing a direct line from Vietnam to Iraq, different time, different circumstances, though certainly there are tons of parallels.

    But as far as “setting the stage for Iraq” goes: Brad, you actually make Doug’s point for him, by your invocation of the so-called “Vietnam complex.” That phrase, or “Vietnam syndrome,” is only used by neo-conservatives. For neo-cons, the first Gulf War did not “count” as banishing the Syndrome: because (unlike Iraq 2) it was more widely seen as a war triggered by external causality/bellicosity, and also was left (in their view) unfinished. In their view it did not prove whether America would be willing to fight a “war of choice,” or a pre-emptive war as Doug rightly calls it.

    Whereas foreign policy realists (Baker, Scowcroft, et al), or as I like to call them, “grown-ups,” were still in power during the first Gulf War, it was only in January 2001 that neo-cons first really attained power within GWB’s administration. Only then did we have decision-makers in power who felt this passionate desire to bury the “Vietnam Syndrome” once and for all. Merely responding against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan after 9/11 would not suffice, for the reasons listed above…Iraq at this point proved an irresistible target to achieve this long-standing (we’re talking quarter-of-a-century-long) quest, especially given America’s new (since 1990) position as the sole unquestioned global superpower.

    The fact that many of our leaders of both parties and millions of Americans got suckered into thinking this was a good idea of course is what made our involvement in Iraq ultimately possible. But it’s undeniable, and I really feel that history will bear this out, that it was the eagerness of the neo-conservatives to find an opportunity to banish the Vietnam syndrome that really set the stage for the Iraq War. In this sense, Doug is absolutely correct, that Vietnam set the stage for Iraq.

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