Political Animal


January 04, 2013 5:53 PM Day’s End and Weekend Watch

By Ed Kilgore

The first week of 2013 doesn’t exactly feel like it’s ushering in any fresh start in Washington, now does it? Maybe next week will be better, but don’t hold your breath. Here are some final items for the day:

* Harry Reid is privately saying he won’t raise any separation-of-powers concerns if Obama chooses to bypass Congress on debt limit.

* Mini-relief bill for Sandy victims passes House, with 67 Republicans voting against it; Senate passes it on voice vote.

* Word is Chuck Hagel will be nominated for Defense Secretary next week. Expect objections from left and right.

* At Ten Miles Square, Keith Humphreys mulls the under-reported decline in the U.S. incarceration rate.

* At College Guide, Daniel Luzer notes that 529 college savings plans mostly benefit relatively affluent families; cost to feds could fund 288,000 Pell Grants.

And in non-political news:

* Mock NFL draft at Sporting News has West Virginia’s Geno Smith going first; 6 of ten top players from SEC.

Sam Knight will be at the blogging controls this weekend.

Since Sunday is the Feast of the Epiphany, here’s the relevant portion of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, as performed by the Windsbacher Knabenchor and Munich Bachsolisten in 1991.


Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • JR on January 04, 2013 6:15 PM:

    Thanks so much for JS Bach - much needed balm...

  • jjm on January 04, 2013 7:05 PM:

    Wasn't Hagel the only Republican who opposed the Iraq war?

  • neildsmith on January 04, 2013 8:39 PM:

    The Bach Christmas Oratorio is amazing. Thanks! It's nice to see someone at the Monthly has a sense of good Christmas music!

  • N.Wells on January 04, 2013 9:35 PM:

    If Obama is going to throw away the Secretary of Defense position to a Republican, we really ought to plan this a little more carefully and get some mileage out of it.

    First, appoint McCain for Sec. Def., get him out of the Senate, and send him off to head an open-jeep rose-petal parade through Baghdad, as thanks for his enthusiastic support for American efforts in Iraq. Suggest that he'd be welcome to invite Cheney or Bush along, so that the Iraqis can express their appreciation in one giant celebration.

    Then, if we happened to need another Secretary of Defense, we could appoint McConnell, get him out of the Senate, and send him off on a ground-inspection tour of Afghanistan. We should distribute fliers announcing his itinerary and asking Afghans to contact him with their opinions regarding a possible multi-year extension of American presence in their country, and whether they'd like ultimately to be considered for statehood, or just become a territory or a protectorate.

    If the opportunity should arise to honor another Republican, I'd propose appointing Ryan, on the grounds that his unique negotiating skills and clearly superior intellect make him the only person capable of holding really important high-level talks on nuclear disarmament in North Korea. We should submit a request to the North Koreans that if something unfortunate should happen during one of their parades of weaponry in honor of the visiting dignitaries, would we be permitted to honor the memory of the victims by presenting North Korea with some missiles that actually worked, in order to prevent similar tragedies in the future?

    If the opportunity should arise, the next appointment might well go to Cantor, on the grounds that we need someone who actually cared about Ryan to go over to North Korea and lead an investigation into what happened, but we couldn't find anybody else who met that qualification. Pull Ahmedinejad aside and pointedly warn him just exactly how distressed both we and Israel would be if anything happened to Cantor when he flies round the SE corner of Iran, from a stopover in Riyadh to a stopover in Kabul, at approximately 10:38 AM on May 10, so don't even think about trying anything.

    Then appoint Michele Bachmann. Apologize for previous insults, and tell her that it has become clear that only she has the insight and smarts needed to get to the bottom of the Ryan tragedy. Offer the North Koreans $100 million a month for every month that they can keep her distracted over there. Suggest that they produce endless bad photocopies of dubious North Korean birth certificates and party membership cards for Obama and that they should have a hotel flunky slip her cryptic hints about secret plastic surgery and training facilities in the 1960s to produce sleeper agents to rise to power inside western capitalist societies and collapse them from within. Then after she's gone to town on those, suggest that they tell her about the offer of the missiles.


  • JackD on January 04, 2013 10:48 PM:

    The president's lawyers have advised him that the 14th Amendment cannot be used to bypass the debt ceiling. Get new lawyers or at least a second opinion preferably from lawyers who can read English.

  • Anonymous on January 04, 2013 10:57 PM:

    OK, now on a more serious note, wasn't Obama quite clear on the debt limit thing? Here's how it should work: if the Teabaggers pull that shit again, Obama says the same thing again: you bought the stuff, the bill is due, pay for it. It you decide not to, OK fine, it's your choice. You negotiate with your creditors or something, not me. Let's see what happens. Maybe they back down, maybe not, but in any case no negotiation, nothing in return for anything.

    If they persist and markets and credit ratings and interest rates freak out in a day or two, Obama says well, we can't let the damage you morons are causeing go on. Read the Constitution. We're back on track paying. Sorry world and US, sometimes you have to let the children free while supervising from a distance so they can learn a bit about life. Maybe they will behave more maturely in the future.

    Not much damage done, Teabaggers eat shit.

  • bayoustjohndavid on January 05, 2013 2:03 AM:

    Since when is paying legal claims a way of offering aid?
    From the WAPO link about Sandy Relief:

    "The bill, which will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay out claims to those who held federal flood insurance, was approved in the House on a 354 to 67 vote. After the House action, the Senate also adopted the bill in a quick unanimous voice vote, sending it to President Obama."

    Are we thanking private insurance companies for the charity they give when they pay claims? What's the difference?

  • Dick Brode on January 05, 2013 8:49 AM:

    Thank you for the Bach, a wonderful way to end the Christmas holiday. And the trumpet was perfection.

    More please!