Good afternoon, Daily Kos readers. This is your afternoon open thread to discuss all things Hill-related. Use this thread to praise or bash Congresscritters, share a juicy tip, ask questions, offer critiques and suggestions, or post manifestos.
Our fearless leader has his own open thread on the front page, but these stories are a bit more focused and we do have The Most Important News of the Day™.
My thoughts are across the fold:
Harry Reid has not been having a very good week. Now I am not a Reid apologist, but some of this really insane and the timing of some of these stories is suspicious. Just today, he is being accused of racism by the party of the white male, lack of transparency by the party of obstruction and opaque government, and the media picked today to pile on with a story about Harry and son, Rory, seemingly pulling each other down in the polls.
Exhibit A: Cornyn, Steele Call on Reid to Resign as Senate Leader After Obama 'Negro' Comment (Fox "News" link).
Cornyn, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Sunday that Reid should follow the example set by Trent Lott in 2002, who resigned his leadership post after making unfortunate remarks at the centennial birthday party for Sen. Strom Thurmond, who had been a segregationist in the 1940s.
Because it's the exact same thing and all.
Shadow President John McCain is mystified as to why Democrats can get the occasional pass on things like this.
There has been a "stunning double standard as far as the treatment of Sen. Lott, who also made unfortunate and inopportune remarks, and the treatment of Harry Reid by the liberal left," McCain said on NBC's "Today" show.
Psst: John, it's because the Democrats are the party that has championed civil rights since the 1960s.
Interesting, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and some other top Republicans are backing away from that lunacy.
McConnell stubbornly refused to call on Reid to resign, saying, "No matter how many different ways you ask the question, who is going to lead the Democratic conference in the Senate is up to the Democrats."
Other Republican senators have shown a reticence to ask Reid to step down as majority leader, too.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Tuesday that because he hadn't called on then-Republican leader Trent Lott (Miss.) to step down after remarks praising past segregationist Strom Thuromond, he wouldn't call on Reid to resign. Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) have also declined to call on Reid to resign.
Oh, and President Obama, the nation's first African American President if you haven't noticed, says that Reid has always been on the right side of history. That's more than we can say about Michael Steele.
Now that we're done being distracted by shiny objects...
...On to Exhibit B: GOP senators say Reid violated openness law
The group ranged from the most conservative to the most liberal GOP senators.
“Though your office has referred to these provisions as a ‘normal part of the legislative process,’ we are concerned that the inclusion of these items without appropriate disclosure may violate the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007,” the lawmakers wrote.
Democrats campaigned on the need to improve government transparency during the 2006 election and implemented sweeping ethics rules and disclosure requirements, particularly with earmarks, after winning control of Congress.
Remember, these Senators never had any intention whatsoever of voting for this thing, full disclosure or not. Funny thing: they want Reid to post the 400 page (large print, triple spaced) managers amendment and all of the earmarks on line in 24 hours. That tells me they are still all about obstructing health care reform and not honest and open government since they presumably all have copies of the amendment.
Finally Exhibit C: The "Negro" remark seems to have sparked today's TM meme: Sen. Reid and son Rory each considered a burden for the other's campaign in Nevada
It will be Reid and Reid atop the November ballot in this state, the father running for his sixth term, the son making his first bid at statewide office. So far, this double bill is not going so great. Each candidate is dragging down the other, to look at the polls and listen to the Silver State's political oddsmakers. And neither is mentioning the other's campaign.
Instead of getting credit for putting down insurrections and wrangling his fellow Democrats into passing a health-care reform bill on Christmas Eve, Harry Reid is getting hosed for it. Republican leaders were licking their lips at the prospect of picking him off. And that was before Reid had to activate a one-man phone tree of apology this weekend for what he called "improper comments" he made during the 2008 presidential campaign about Barack Obama's light skin and absence of "Negro dialect."
And this is not just a Washington Post thing. Go ahead and Google Harry+Rory+Reid to see the 3000 or so news hits that it returns.
Lyndon Johnson had a long and distinguished career in the Senate before he ran for Vice President and was elevated to President under tragic circumstances. Using his overbearing personality and his knowledge of Congress, President Johnson was able to get exactly what he wanted out of Congress most of the time. He was able to do so more often than any other post war chief executive...
...that is until 2009.
A Congressional Quarterly Study has found that President Obama had the best success rate "in winning congressional votes on issues where he took a position."
"His success was 96.7 percent on all the votes where we said he had a clear position in both the House and the Senate. That's an extraordinary number," Cranford says.
The previous high scores were held by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, with 93 percent, and Dwight Eisenhower, who scored 89 percent in 1953. Cranford notes that George W. Bush's score hit the high 80s in 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But Obama surpassed them all, Cranford says
The key to this success seems to have been more about picking battles wisely rather than Johnson's just barely metaphorical arm twisting strategy.
Three notable rest in peace moments today.
The US Chamber of Commerce is warning of a double dipped recession due to Democratic economic policies.
“Congress, the administration and states must recognize that our weak economy simply could not sustain all the new taxes, regulations and mandates now under consideration. It’s a sure-fire recipe for a double-dip recession, or worse,” Donohue said in a speech providing the Chamber's outlook for 2010.
Donohue said the lawmakers should not let former President George W. Bush's tax cuts expire at the end of year and lambasted Democratic efforts on healthcare and financial regulatory reform as well as climate change.
A few points. 1) There is nothing in this story indicating what we should do 2) all of the tax cuts discussed here would benefit the type of people who would support the US Chamber of Commerce 3) we emerged from the Bush years with essentially no increase in jobs and 4) these people are global warming "skeptics" so I am taking all of their pronouncements with a single grain of salt.
Things are finally getting interesting in the Massachusetts special election for Senate.
Ms. Coakley’s ad seeks to shore up a natural base for her – women voters – and also points to Mr. Brown’s support in 2005 of an amendment to a state bill on emergency contraception that would have let doctors or nurses deny such contraception to rape victims based on religious objections.
Mr. Brown’s quick response commercial, says Ms. Coakley’s “attack ads are wrong and go too far” and hiting on his signature theme: that Massachusetts needs fresh blood – i.e. a Republican – in Congress.
Because when I think of "new blood" and new ideas, I instinctively think of Republicans. You might want to wipe the coffee off your computer screen now.
Meanwhile, the Senate race in New York is just getting dumb.
The chatter about Harold Ford Jr.’s possible challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand continues to swell today, building upon the White House’s decision on Monday to swat away the notion and Mr. Ford’s own Op-ed promoting the idea in The New York Post.
Dear Harold: You don't go after New York Democratic primary voters in the Post. Furthermore, maybe I am wrong, but I don't see New York sending a Blue Dog from Tennessee to Washington. Finally, the White Housedoesn't have your back on this one. Thanks for playing, though.
A new meme: Republicans are weak on Homeland Security.
“Republicans are stepping up their effort to block Erroll Southers from becoming head of the Transportation Security Administration,” Politico reports. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has been holding up Southers’ nomination in a political effort “to prevent TSA workers from joining a labor union.”
Why does the GOP hate America and want it to get attacked again?
Finally, in The Most Important News of the Day™ Sarah Palin's gonna be on tee vee! It's relieving to know that the hard right nutjobs finally have a person to speak for their interests.
one-term 16-month governor of Alaska is charging upwards of $100 grand to share her thoughts on a level that would make Cicero weep.
“I'm hearing through sources Sarah Palin is getting $75k to speak at this Tea Party convention,” blogger Dan Riehl, an admirer of Palin and of the tea partiers, wrote recently after learning that she was charging a substantial fee. That's a lot of damned tea.”
Palin’s spokeswoman didn’t respond to an inquiry about the fees, and conference organizer Judson Phillips declined to discuss the fees.
And with that, I bid you good day.
Update: Visit regulations.gov to read and comment on proposed Executive Branch rules. (h/t tiarachel)