Something is Killing the President's Approval Numbers (especially on Rasmussen ): Is it his budget ? Or the failure to pass health care reform, his #1 priority, and the ensuing strategic flailing , which is creating the impression that he's ... well, a loser? Nice guy. Knows all the arguments. Can't get it done. In other words, the numbers might vindicate the argument of health care reform supporters--that not passing the bill is extremely damaging to Obama and the Dems. What are they good for, anyway? ... 11:21 P.M.
First Time Farce, Second Tragedy: Fire Mickey Kaus talks about how
old new leftists ...see tension and perhaps hypocrisy in a political philosophy devoted to a just and equal society that is dependent on groups formed around fragmentation and selfishness for its electoral success.
Well put. ... You might even speculate that--after a few decades of pursuing a more ideal society through fragmented, selfish interest group/constituency politics--liberals would have accomplished what there is to be accomplished via that route, and that the remaining problems would be those raised or perpetuated by interest group/constituency politics itself . ... The one exception would seem to be health care reform, which really should have been achieved in the last century. Yet now it appears to have foundered once again on the rocks of ....interest group/constituency politics. ... Hmm. I always wondered what "exception that proves the rule" means. ... 3:28 P.M.
The scales have fallen from young Ezra Klein's eyes . He's not writing the surface health care "ego" story (e.g. procedural wrangling) when the underlying "id" story (e.g. they do or they don't want the bill) is the key:
There's been a lot about procedural impediments to moving forward on health-care reform: Can the Senate can pass a reconciliation bill before the House passes the Senate bill? Can Republicans delay reconciliation with amendments? Who should go first, House or Senate?
You all know I'm big on procedure. You've also noticed I'm not writing about this. I don't buy it. What Democrats can do is a lot less important than what they want to do. If 51 Democratic senators and 218 Democratic congresspeople are dead-serious about passing a bill, they can, and will, pass a bill.
Too bad most of the blogosphere's health care reform spirit squad didn't notice that the bill was failing the "id" test--and that this failure would be dispositive--until it was seemingly too late. ... 12:31 A.M.
Are there really 1,690 people in the federal Department of Transportation making $170,000 or more a year? ...
Update: An alert reader who once worked at the DOT emails--
If this is true, I sort of know why. ... The simple answer is that DOT is, first of all, a collection of agencies that existed in other forms and were simply gathered together when the Department was formed -- the FAA, and the Federal Highway Administration are the big ones, but there are also NHTSA, the Federal Transit Administration, and I think eight others. All of these have their own administrators, chief counsels, press offices, and so on. They each have all the bureaucratic facilities they's need if they were independent agencies. (It was done this way probably to preserve Congressional committee jurisdiction over these functions . This is a far more significant factor in Washington than is generally recognized -- the topic of transportation is rationalized in the executive branch by putting all of those agencies together, but they are still left separate within the department so that Congressional oversight can be left unrationalized . ...)
Then, spread over all of these there is an enormous Office of the Secretary, with another full complement of policy, legal, and Congressional-relations functions. The result is that there's a huge number of presidential appointments and high level executive functions, many more than if the separate agencies had been destroyed when the department was created.
Then, on top of that, a number of these agencies have enormous presences around the country. ... Take a look at http://www.dot.gov/DOTagencies.htm , start clicking on its links, and you will get the picture. In the way that bureaucracies work, all of those local offices have people at the top. The number of top level people mentioned in your blog does not surprise me. [E.A.]