NPF: THE LAND OF SMILING MILKMEN

Posted in No Politics Friday on February 11th, 2011 by Ed

There is a lot of buzz about the Super Bowl commercials run by various automakers this year. I did not watch much of the game and the few I've watched online have been underwhelming. It's hard to get excited when you remember that ads used to look like this:

Or if you want to up the Gee Golly-ness a few hundred percent, you can always enjoy the Jam Handy produced GM instructional videos of similar vintage. If nothing else, watch the first minute of Part 2 to see the boss's locker room oration:

People of my age are left to wonder if the Fifties were actually anything like these contemporary media suggest – implying that everyone in America was on strong psychoactive stimulants for an entire decade – or if the Hollywood version of 1950s America was simply an elaborate cover. Either way, I am both amused and terrified of this stuff.

By the way, Jam Handy was an Olympic medal winner in 1904 – and quite possibly insane, judging by the films he left behind.

ABEL FOR POWERS AND PLAYER TO BE NAMED LATER

Posted in Random Facts on February 10th, 2011 by Ed

Today is the 49th anniversary of a classic height-of-the-Cold-War moment: the exchange of Rudolf Abel for captured U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers over the Glienicker Bridge in Potsdam. Here is the contemporaneous story from Time Magazine. A little-known fact about this little-remembered incident is that Powers was accompanied by American graduate student Frederic Pryor, who had been detained by the USSR as a potential spy. In reality, Pryor simply stumbled into a spy trap in East Berlin and was not in fact an agent. He went on to teach Economics at Swarthmore, Michigan, and other elite universities for decades. He is still alive and semi-retired.

I want so badly to go next year and re-enact this for the 50th anniversary. If you don't know who Rudolf Abel is, fix that. If you are ignorant of Gary Powers and the U-2 incident, fix that too.

Quick question – why did the CIA give Powers a poisoned suicide pin (which he failed to use as he had been ordered to do) while also giving him a parachute? It appears that giving him neither would have produced more desired results than giving him both.

LOW HANGING. AND DIMINUTIVE.

Posted in Quick Hits on February 10th, 2011 by Ed

After months and months of prodding, the House Republicans have finally coughed up a list of specific things they want to cut from the budget. The hit list totals…wait for it…$58 billion.

Wow! $58 billion sure is a lot of money! Unless of course we're talking about the Federal budget. Let me double check something.

Yes, we're talking about the Federal budget. Let's take a quick look at these cuts in perspective, despite Perspective's well-established liberal bias. Click to embiggen:

Wow, over 4/10ths of one percent of the FY2011 budget! Oddly enough the $58 billion all comes out of non-defense discretionary spending, which makes sense because I think that is the largest share of the budget.

Oh.

Well surely they targeted wasteful spending and clear examples of unnecessary programs.

Oh for fuck's sake.

You could almost respect their misguided zeal – rhetorically, if not in practice – for "cutting spending" if it was not such an obvious smokescreen for partisan hackery. Like, "Let's target everything our donors and base don't like and call it fiscal responsibility" as though cutting the National Endowment for the Arts is actually going to make a dent.

Or perhaps I'm just being cynical. Maybe the two most unnecessary items in the budget really are job training and the EPA.

THE WHOPPER

Posted in Quick Hits on February 9th, 2011 by Ed

Kinda taking a personal day today, but seriously, check this shit out. Watching all 9 minutes might be unnecessary, but make sure you get the Beck clips:

Partial transcript:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Now, catch Glenn Beckon Tuesday night, this diatribe about the Caliphate. He starts talking about ancient Babylon. See if you can follow this. I did. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GLENN BECK, HOST, FOX NEWS "GLENN BECK": Iraq is really important, especially to the Shi`ites, especially to the 12ers who are in charge of this country right now because what is in Iraq? There`s one place that we told our bombers not to bomb. Does anybody know what it was? Two wars in Iraq, we said, No bombing there. Ancient Babylon. Ancient Babylon. Why? Because the Bible tells us that that is the seat right here of power of a global evil empire. Well, that`s also where the 12th imam from Iran is supposedly going to show up! Everybody on this side wants ancient Babylon for their caliphate!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: You know, before we go any further, I have rarely heard anything like this on television in my life, but the — well, let me just ask our guests. Eric, the — what is he saying about the decision by our bombing fleet, our bombers, those who are directed and their civilians who control our military under both Bushes, President Bush, Herbert Walker, and then, of course, George W. Bush — that they somehow decided, as part of some global caliphate they`re envisioning and hoping to move along — they told our bombing people when they put these sorties together, Don`t hit ancient Babylon because that`s going to be the center of evil —

ERIC BOEHLERT, MEDIAMATTERS.ORG: Right.

MATTHEWS: — the power — it`s going to be the seat right there of power of a global evil empire. He (INAUDIBLE) are the Bushes involved — what in hell is this man talking about?

And:

GLENN BECK: I want the left to know I plant my flag in this soil. Groups from the hard-core socialist and communist left and extreme Islam will work together, because they are both a common enemy of Israel and the Jew.

Islam wants a caliphate. Communists wants a communist new world order. They will work together and they will destabilize, because they both want chaos.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Gene Robinson.

ROBINSON: It — this makes absolutely no sense on any level. It makes no sense on any level.

MATTHEWS: Where this Communist Party meeting these days?

ROBINSON: Well, don`t you know how —

(LAUGHTER)

ROBINSON: — the communists and the Islamists have always worked together? Except the fact that they`re always trying to kill each other.

MATTHEWS: And the socialists, too.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You know who hates — you know who hates — who hates the socialists the most? The communists.

ROBINSON: Yes.

MATTHEWS: Doesn`t this guy have any sense of history?

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And socialists were a big part of building the modern Israel. What is he talking about?

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: This is the stuff normally you would prescribe medication.

They make an excellent point throughout the broadcast by pointing out the golden rule of being a wacky Bircher / truther / Alex Jones type conspiracy peddler: once you find yourself in the hole you've dug, there's nothing to do but keep digging.

HERO WORSHIP

Posted in Rants on February 8th, 2011 by Ed

As they do with every president, this past weekend the media devoted 72 hours of non-stop coverage to the centennial of the birth of a deceased ex-president. Given that Wednesday is the anniversary of William Henry Harrison's birth we can expect an equivalent outpouring of attention and adulation.

The coverage I saw over the past few days was very strange – it kept describing this person named "Ronald Reagan." But that must be a common name or something, because the person they described didn't sound anything at all like the Ronald Reagan who was once president. Ronnie has long since mutated from merely Overrated to Canonized, but now we appear to have reached a stage beyond that. It is no longer sufficient to idealize the man and his accomplishments – we simply recast him and his entire political life based on whatever ideological cause needs to use him as a mascot. This is despite the fact that if Ronald Reagan was alive today, it's pretty clear that he would think that most of the people who say his name with great reverence are idiots. Which is saying something.

Two interesting quotes courtesy C&L, one from historian Richard N. Smith and the second from the director of the Reagan Library.

Before he became an icon, Ronald Reagan was a paradox: a complex man who appeared simple, at once a genial fundamentalist and a conservative innovator. As America's oldest President, he found his most fervent supporters among the young. The only divorced man to occupy the Oval Office, Reagan as President rarely attended church. He enjoyed a relationship with his own children best described as intermittent. Yet his name was synonymous with traditional values, and he inspired millions of the faithful to become politically active for the first time. During eight years in the White House, Reagan never submitted a balanced budget or ceased to blame Congress for excessive spending. He presided over the highest unemployment rate since World War II and one of the longest peacetime booms ever.

And…

If the Age of Reagan is anywhere consigned to the history books, it is among those who claim his mantle while practicing little of their hero's sunny optimism and even less of his inclusiveness. Reagan, after all, excelled at the politics of multiplication. Too many of his professed admirers on talk radio and cable gabfests appear to prefer division.

If there's one thing modern conservatives are constitutionally incapable of understanding, it's the idea that anything, least of all a person, can be complex. Everything is black and white. Good and evil. Right and wrong. For it or against it. So they created a Reagan who just so happened to stand for whatever it is they need him to stand for. Their Reagan is some kind of Conservative Superhero who gave no quarter, not the real Reagan of whom Joe Biden speaks fondly regarding his willingness to cut deals at the drop of a hat. This distorted image of their hero makes about as much sense as Teabaggers invoking the spirit of Washington or Hamilton.

For conservatives, and possibly for all of us, "Reagan" has become like Gandhi or Martin Luther King – a Santa Claus figure, a mascot. We know almost nothing about him (and what we do know is wrong) but we know he was Good and worthy of our adulation for some reason, a reason that varies based on whatever it is we need Reagan to represent in our preferred narrative.

But seriously, who was that guy they were talking about all weekend? The name sounded familiar, but that's about it.

TOP TALENT

Posted in Rants on February 7th, 2011 by Ed

I am about 3/4 of the way through Overhaul by Obama appointee and "car czar" Steven Rattner. It's worth reading on a number of levels, talking extensively about the many factors behind the decline of the auto industry, the nightmare of working in Congress, the bigger nightmare of watching everything die in the Senate, and the politics of a hostile anti-regulatory climate. Most interesting, however, is the fact that he pulls no punches regarding how much of the auto industry's trouble was/is of its own making. Free trade and increased competition certainly did a number on the Big Three, but that shouldn't obscure the fact that these companies were run terribly. Like, epic bad. A group of people randomly selected from the phone book could have done as well. Maybe better.

Anyone who follows the domestic auto industry even casually already knows this. To know the name "Rick Wagoner" is to know exactly what kind of ass clowns were making the decisions that drove the world's largest manufacturers into the abyss. Although Rattner does not say it (being a finance / Wall Street guy himself) I think this is a very important point to bear in mind in an economy with such staggering levels of income inequality. Simply put, why do so many of the Upper Management caste make so much money when they are so egregiously terrible at their jobs?

The whole argument behind bloated executive compensation is that companies must pay big in order to attract the very best people. In reality we find that many of them – and Wagoner will be the poster child for years to come – are world class idiots. There is no other way to put it. There is no candy coating on an objective assessment of his performance and that of the other GM/Chrysler top brass. If the one trick they seem to have learned in their expensive educations (cut costs + something something = PROFIT!!!) doesn't work they are dumbstruck. They stand around like deer in headlights until someone fires them. GM paid Wagoner $23 million as a severance package, and yet the guy seemed incapable of grasping concepts that an undergraduate would probably get. He knew less about the auto industry than the average car blogger.

If executives get paid so goddamn much to ensure that only the finest talent fills those important positions, why do the companies large enough to take down our entire economy keep failing so spectacularly? With the exorbitant compensation packages offered to executives at AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehman, GM, every major airline, and dozens of other failed Fortune 500 companies in the past 20 years, why could none of them attract "talent" talented enough to recognize the imminent failure of those billion dollar enterprises?

So much of it boils down to the dominant ethos of the post-New Deal economy in this country – IBG, YBG (I'll be gone, you'll be gone). Individuals in these positions have no long term view of the health of the business, the economy, or anything but their own personal bottom line. Just do whatever enriches us today and don't worry about the consequences. By the time the company is either insolvent or begging for a bailout, I'll be gone and you'll be gone. Honestly, I doubt Rick Wagoner and his nine-figure net worth care much that the economy has gone to shit and his former company is now on life support. He and the many others like him on Wall Street and throughout corporate America are doing just fine right now having been lavishly compensated for "talents" that appear in hindsight to have been limited to lining their own bank accounts and making stupid decisions.

NPF: BUFFALO IS NOT IMPRESSED

Posted in No Politics Friday on February 4th, 2011 by Ed

As little as the weather excites me as a topic of conversation – especially in the form of hundreds of "OMG snow!!1!!" Facebook updates – I have to admit as a native Chicagoan that this is pretty stunning:

Lake Shore Drive reduced to a parking lot of abandoned cars is one of those things we would expect to see only in the midst of the apocalypse or after the Commie A-bombs started raining down. Still, it is worth noting that by Thursday morning LSD (and most of the rest of Chicago) was open to traffic. Compare this to the Blizzard of '77 in western New York and southern Ontario, which shut down Buffalo – Buffalo! – for nearly two full weeks. Snow was piled up to traffic lights and power lines in some areas and cleanup crews needed to use metal detectors to find cars buried under 30 foot drifts of rock-hard snow. I mean, that's some crazy crap.

So despite my general distaste for weather related chit-chat, today's topic is "Holy crap I thought we were going to die and we ended up having to eat Steve from Accounts Payable" weather tales. Sound off in the comments. If at least one of you hasn't been through a category 4 hurricane, a tsunami, or the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius I'm going to be surprised.

And disappointed.

BOBBY FRANKLIN: A CASE STUDY IN GOOD GUB'MINT

Posted in Rants on February 3rd, 2011 by Ed

An obscure state legislator, Rep. Bobby Franklin of Georgia's 43rd House district, received a disproportionate amount of attention earlier this week for proposing that the state eliminate the practice of licensing drivers. Illustrative of his mastery of the Constitution, Franklin eloquently notes, "Free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right." He had the following exchange with a local reporter regarding this legislative masterpiece:

Franklin told CBS Atlanta News that driver's licenses are a throw back to oppressive times. “Agents of the state demanding your papers," he said. "We’re getting that way here.”

CBS Atlanta's Rebekka Schramm asked Franklin, “How are we going to keep up with who’s who and who’s on the roads and who’s not supposed to be on the roads?”

“That’s a great question," Franklin said. "And I would have to answer that with a question, ‘Why do you need to know who’s who?’”

“What about 12-14-year-olds who want to drive? What would stop them?" Schramm asked.

“Well, what’s stopping them now anyway?” Franklin answered.

We Georgians are well acquainted with Rep. Franklin, not merely for his brilliance but also for his productivity. In the current state legislative session he has proposed 50 bills in the first two weeks, including the first 21 bills to enter the hopper. Let's take a quick look at what Rep. Franklin has been doing for the people of Georgia.

HB1 – "to provide that prenatal murder shall be unlawful in all events…"

OK, so he's throwing pro-lifers a bone. No harm in that.

HB2 Georgia Right to Grow Act – "to protect the right to grow food crops and raise small animals on private property so long as such crops and animals are used for human consumption by the occupants"

So your neighbor can keep a donkey or a chicken coop in his yard. At this point I need to emphasize that Franklin's district is in suburban Atlanta.

HB3 Constitutional Tender Act – "to require the exclusive use of gold and silver coin as tender in payment of debts by or to the state"

Because according to the Constitushin, FRN ain't real money!

HB4 Life, Liberty, and Property Restoration Act – "to create the Joint Committee on Repeals"

No idea what this means, but I am going to have to assume that it's something crazy.

HB5 Freedom of Choice and Security Act – "to amend Chapter 11 of Title 16 …(to) repeal Article 4"

Ch.11, Title 16, Art. 4 outlaws the following things, among others:

16-11-102: Pointing a gun at another person
16-11-106: Using a firearm in the commission of another crime
16-11-113: Transferring a firearm to someone cannot legally own one
16-11-122: Possession of a sawed-off shotgun or machine gun
16-11-127: Carrying a firearm onto school property or at school functions
16-11-131: Possession of firearm by convicted felon
16-11-132: Possession of firearm by individual under 18
16-11-134: Discharge of firearm under the influence of drugs
16-11-170: To provide background checks under the Brady Act

Yeah.

HB6 Emergency Defense of the Home Act – "to repeal the power of the Governor to suspend or limit the sale or transportation of firearms during times of emergency"
HB7 Right to Travel Act – the drivers' license thing
HB8 Due Process Restoration Act – "to prohibit certain forms of surveillance without search warrants"

Hey, we finally found one that isn't completely fucking bonkers!

HB9 Kathryn Johnston's Law – "to provide that the use of forced entry in the execution of a search warrant is prohibited"

There. Now we're back on track.

HB10 Child Protection Act – "to provide that no local governing authority shall prohibit the construction of a fence between properties of a sufficient height to prevent a person at the highest point of observation in one residence to observe activity within an adjacent property"

Read that explanation carefully and note just how high the proposed fence in question would have to be to prohibit, for example, viewing one's neighbor's yard from a 2nd story window. But your bizarro 25 foot fence will enhance Child Protection!

HB11 Freedom from Compulsory Pandemic Act – "to repeal the authority of the Governor to issue mandatory vaccination orders"

A logical extension of the pioneering work of Dr. Jennifer McCarthy at the University of Google.

HB12 Georgia Food Freedom Act – "to exempt from local regulations certain retail sales of Georgia grown agricultural or farm products directly from the producer to the consumer"

If history has proven anything it's that unregulated food is safe.

HB13 – "to prohibit the levy or collection of income taxes"

Well that 'll fix our massive budget deficit.

HB14 – "to change the term "victim" to the term "accuser" …where there has not yet been a criminal conviction"

OK, that seems reasonable. But I'm sure his motives are somehow insane.

HB15 – "to provide that no person employed by or under contract with…this state…shall be permitted to address any committee or subcommittee of the General Assembly"

Common sense lobbying reform? Bobby, I'm disappointed. What has gotten into you?

HB16 Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act – "to eliminate provisions for a utility to recover from its customers the costs of financing associated with the construction of a nuclear generating plant"

We'll recoup the costs from the general tax revenues instead.

Oh wait.

HB17 – "to abolish the Department of Human Services"

I hear they mostly spend their days playing Duck Hunt anyway. Good riddance.

HB18 – "to abolish the State Road and Tollway Authority"

Bobby, we're starting to run out of sources of income. I'm not sure you realize this.

HB19 – "to provide that federal reserve banks and branches located in Georgia shall not be exempt from state income tax"

Can a state tax a Federally chartered bank? Man, I wish the Supreme Court offered some guidance on this complicated question of federalism.

Oh wait I just tripped over McCULLOCH v. FRIGGIN' MARYLAND. FROM 1819.

HB20 – "to provide for the comprehensive regulation of federal tax funds"

This is so poorly written as to obscure its intended meaning, but from the complete bill I gather that this is some kind of scheme to create a state panel to rule on what Georgia's tax dollars can and cannot be used for by the Federal government…which sounds really constitutional.

HB21 – "to provide findings of the General Assembly regarding the constitutionality of certain federal laws and other mandates; to provide that any judicial officer, law enforcement officer, agent, or employee of the federal government, any multinational government, any international government, or any global government commits the offense of racketeering by color of law when he or she attempts to enforce any law not recognized as valid."

If you're going to propose the first 21 bills you might as well go out in a blaze of glory – Nullification! "Global government" paranoia! The common sense assertion that states get to pick which Federal laws are "recognized as valid"! Boy, I wonder if Rep. Franklin had any crazy left for the remainder of the session after this 21 bill burst of furious activity…

HB37 – "to provide that political parties shall provide documentation that their candidates in the presidential preference primary meet the qualifications of the United States Constitution to hold the office of President of the United States"

Oh hell yeah.

You're money well spent, Bobby. Reading your list of legislative proposals I can't imagine what our state government could do to streamline its operations, reduce waste, and get more accomplished.

THANKS FOR PLAYING

Posted in Quick Hits on February 2nd, 2011 by Ed

This is somewhat brief, but tomorrow is going to be the shizzle. Promise.

Mubarak has now given two speeches since the civil unrest in Egypt began in earnest – one in which he asked the resignation of the government (which appeased no one) and another today in which he promised to surrender power after September elections (ditto). During both speeches I could not get this out of my head:

To me, this is the moment that defines the end of the Cold War. Most people think of Germans dancing on the Berlin Wall but the video of Nicolae Ceaucescu's final speech (1989) does more to stand out. The speech is famous as a symbol of the End of Communism (and who in America ever wants to stop reliving the glorious moment when we made the whole world safe for Taco Bell franchise distribution?) due to the way the aged Ceaucescu looks on in bewilderment as the agitated crowd begins to hiss with disapproval. It fit the western stereotype of the Communist leader to a tee – ancient, out of touch, and incapable of change.

I am reminded of this footage when Mubarak speaks because the two leaders share much in common – their tenure in power, their age, and their all-encompassing delusions. To hear them speak it seems as though everyone on the planet except them realizes that they are finished. Mubarak talking about how he is going to stay in power for 9 more months is like watching the scene in Goodfellas in which Tommy (Joe Pesci) gets "made." As he prepares for his big honor he is apparently the only person in the film (or audience) who does not understand that he is about to be taken to an empty building and shot in the head. Which is, coincidentally enough, exactly what happened to Ceaucescu and his wife Elena.

Mubarak will likely be fortunate enough to avoid that fate; no doubt he will live out his remaining years Idi Amin style as a guest of the Saudi royal family. Until that inevitability occurs to him we can continue to enjoy the fact that, unless he happens to be the world's greatest actor, he really does not understand that he's done. Nobody within or outside of Egypt is going to prop him up any longer and the domestic situation has gone far beyond the tipping point. Going quietly into his lavish retirement seems like an obvious choice at this point, but apparently 30 years of absolute power make it difficult to recognize when the jig is up.

STRATEGERY

Posted in Rants on February 1st, 2011 by Ed

In its first 11 days, the 112th Congress has brought 28 separate bills to the floor to repeal "Obamacare":

H.R. 105 Dan Burton (R-IN) To repeal the Patient Protection Act & enact incentives tto buy health insurance.
H.R. 118 John Fleming (R-LA) To permit a state to elect not to have an American Health Care Exchange.
H.R. 119 John Fleming (R-LA) To prohibit hiring of irs agent to implement or enforce health insurance reform.
H.R. 127 John Graves (R-GA) To de-authorize funding of Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 141 Steve King (R-IA) To repeal the Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 145 Connie Mack (R-FL) To repeal the Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 154 Ted Poe (R-TX) To prohibit any federal funds to be used to enforce Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 171 Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
H.R. 2 Eric Cantor (R-VA) Repeal of Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 38 John Fleming (R-LA) Rescind funds authorized for Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 9 David Drier (R-CA) Requires Committees to look into Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 26 David Drier (R-CA) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 215 Don Young (R-AK) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 19 John Carter (R-TX) Disapprove rules on MLR in Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 299 John Carter (R-TX) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 358 Joe Pitts (R-PA) Remove abortion funding from Patient Protection Act (there is none)
H.R. 360 Michael Burgess (R-TX) Amend Patient Protection Act to include President in Health Care Exchanges.
H.R. 364 Tom Latham (R-IA) To Repeal Patient Protection Act
H.R. 371 Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) Repeal Title I of Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 5 Phil Gingrey (R-GA) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 397 Wally Herger (R-CA) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 429 Darrell Issa (R-CA) Repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 452 Phil Roe (R-TN) A bill to repeal Patient Protection Act.
H.R. 450 Dave Reichert (R-WA) A bill to repeal Patient Protection Act.
S. 19 Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Repeal Health Mandate & therefore repeal patient protections.
S. 17 Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Repeal Tax on Medical Devices
S. 16 David Vitter (R-LA) Repeal Patient Protection Act
S. 196 Chuck Grassley (R-IA) A bill to to provide congressional staff gets to participate in Exchange.
S. 192 Jim DeMint (R-SC) A bill to repeal health care.

I understand why this is the case – every spotlight hungry Teabagger (or in Hatch's case, someone trying to ward off a Teabagger challenge) feels obligated to not only support the repeal but to propose his very own bill. Sure, anyone can cosponsor Eric Cantor's bill, but a real conservative hero would propose his own.

Beyond that I understand the cat-and-mouse game that goes on during divided government, as the Congress passes bills it knows the president will veto in the hopes that the veto can be used against him during the next election. This usually requires devising an Orwellian and misleading title, e.g. the Stop Terrorists with AIDS From Raping Your Daughter Act, so that future "Can you believe Obama vetoed this? My god! What an animal!" rage can be more easily provoked. I get it.

That said, I am not sure what the GOP thinks it is going to gain from this strategy of barraging the House floor with bills that haven't the slightest chance of becoming law. Let's be honest: the odds of any of these laws A) making it out of the Senate and B) getting the President's signature to euthanize his sole major legislative accomplishment (at least in his view) are effectively nil. I'm sure they realize that. So what are they getting out of this?

Everybody who flies into a rage at the mere mention of the health care law is already voting against Obama in 2012. Can they somehow vote more against him if Mitch McConnell reminds them that he or Harry Reid torpedoed an effort to repeal it? Will anyone on the planet remember a single one of these bills in an election 22 months from now? For the average Teabagger it is unlikely that they can even keep organized the dozens of reasons that Obama is the antichrist. Vetoing this garbage – pretend for a minute that the Senate passes it – doesn't even appear to give the GOP a useful talking point. Anyone who would care about this is already highly motivated to turn out in 2012 to oppose Obama.

"We fulfilled our campaign promise to veto it, but he wouldn't let us" does not seem like a phrase that will drive undecided voters toward the GOP or motivate would-be abstainers to get out and vote. As far as anti-Obama talking points go it's about as exciting as tap water and will hardly stand out. In every sense of the phrase this is an enormous waste of time. As the gap between the 2008 and 2010 elections proved, a lot can change in two years. If the Republicans mistakenly believe that all they need to do is keep repeating the 2010 talking points to waltz into office in 2012 they are setting themselves up for quite the disappointment. An objective adviser might recommend that the House GOP, you know, propose something on which they can hang their hats as a Big Legislative Accomplishment before the end of the year. If their big accomplishment is to cut 0.25% from the budget and to pass a bunch of shit that died in the Senate, the odds of repeating their 2010 performance would seem to be poor.