Bee Nicerer

I’m slowly making my way through this biography of William Seward. There’s an interesting story I wasn’t aware of from his days as a Senator. By 1858, he was a leading opponent of slavery in the Senate. Still he was cordial with many Southern Senators. One story in particular: “In early 1858, when Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was suffering from a sever eye illness and confined to his darkened room for seven weeks, Seward visited him every day and spent an hour amusing the invalid with stories.”

If we didn’t all know what was coming, that would be the type of how-DC-Used-To-Be stories that the beltway press like to tell themselves. If we didn’t know that in 3 years they’ll stand on opposite sides, as over half a million people die in the Civil War, it might be a lovely story of the bipartisan niceness of a bygone era. Viewing it as that also obscures that one side was right on one of the least morally ambiguous issues of our history: slavery was wrong.

So that’s what I was thinking about when I read at Balloon Juice that reporters are using their question at a press conference to ask Obama why he and his staff don’t socialize more.

I’d like to ask you, now that you’ve reached the end of your first term, starting your second, about a couple of criticisms — one that’s longstanding, another more recent. The longstanding one seems to have become a truism of sorts that you’re — you and your staff are too insular, that you don’t socialize enough.

DC is a place with strange values.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    D.C. is a place where money gets turned into ideology and then back into more money.

    The Koches came out today urging “restraint” on House Republicans in the upcoming debt ceiling fight. It appears that when they have to choose between advancing rightwing ideology and protecting their business interests they care more about money.

    I would guess that all along their financial self-interest has been their sole motivation.

  2. 4

    ArtFart spews:

    @21 Rightwing ideology has always been about money. The irony in that is that it’s not ideology but pragmatism that generally wins the day.

  3. 5

    rhp6033 spews:

    The U.S. Congress hasn’t always been cordial. In 1856 Rep. Preston Brooks of S. Carolina severly beat Sen. Charles Sumner (Sen-Mass) on the floor of the Senate with a cane, supposedly because Sumner, an ardent Abolitionist, “insulted” Brook’s uncle in a speach. Brooks won re-election but died before he could serve his new term, Sumner took three years to recover from his injuries.

    At some point around this time, a “gag order” was imposed by Senate rule, prohibiting the discussion of slavery at all on the Senate floor, either by resolution, debate, or in speaches. I can’t find the link right now to articles I had on the subject.

  4. 7

    Liberal Scientist is a Dirty Fucking Socialist Hippie spews:

    I just dropped by there – at your suggestion – and indeed, what a freak show.

    I can’t post on pudge’s threads – he deletes me because I’m a “LIAR!!1!!”.

    My, oh, my, though, breathtaking wingnuttery. One guy is even buying into the “Obama wants armed guards at his kids’ school” meme. Others are going on about Obama being a “dick-tator”.

    The stupid and hateful, it is powerful over there.

  5. 8


    @ 7

    Aw, Lib Sci, I don’t think you’re a liar. A bigot, sure, but not a liar.

    And the chances of your bigotry rubbing off on your children are pretty slim if you don’t refer to people of color at home using the same terms you use here. So don’t worry about it.

    Unless you need to.

  6. 9

    Steve spews:

    Yeah, I was banned for posting horrible stuff like this in Pudge’s thread. Geez, and I didn’t even call him the fucking liar that he is.

    “Congress should confirm an ATF Director. Note that Obama blames Congress for the spot being empty, even though he has not appointed anyone.”

    The president must be reading Pudge because today he’s reportedly nominating Todd Jones, no doubt yet another ATF Director nominee to be blocked by Republicans. Pudge is mistaken to say that President Obama hasn’t appointed anyone. And why shouldn’t the president blame congress? The Senate Republicans have been blocking nominees over the last two administrations.

    A little history. The ATF used to be under the Treasury but after 9/11 President Bush brought it under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department and Homeland Security. That also gave us the requirement that the ATF director be confirmed by the Senate. The NRA lobbied for that one. No director has been confirmed since, not exactly good for the ATF, even weakening it for want of permanent leadership. The ATF has had only acting directors since because both Bush and Obama have had their nominees blocked. The problem, of course, has been Senate Republicans and their catering to, guess who, the gun lobby, led by the NRA. President Bush nominated Mike Sullivan 2007, but Idaho’s Republican Sens. Larry Craig and Michael D. Crapo, lobbied by the NRA and Idaho gun dealers, blocked his confirmation. President Obama’s first nominee, Andrew Traver, a former Navy vet and crime-fighting ATF special agent, was blocked by Senate Republicans lobbied by you know who, the NRA.

    “Congress should confirm an ATF Director”

    Wouldn’t it be better put to say that Senate Republicans and the NRA should stop blocking the nominees of both Republican and Democratic Party presidents? After all, it’s the gun lobby that’s behind this, pulling the strings of Republican senators.

    Yeah, I can see why I was banned. But calling the nation’s president a “dick-tator”? That’s acceptable commentary in Pudge’s threads.

    I called that asswipe Pudge out, a “let’s get it on, asshole” moment, but just as I thought, he’s too much the fucking coward.

  7. 10


    @ 9

    Interesting points, Steve.

    Can Obama re-route ATF out of Homeland Security? Recall he once was thinking of transferring the Census Bureau, which caused Judd Gregg to refuse the nomination he had accepted.

  8. 11

    Steve spews:

    “A bigot, sure, but not a liar.”

    What, Lib Sci doesn’t like dumbfuck wingnuts? He’s not the only one expressing that sentiment these days, Bob. Notice the polls? You guys aren’t too popular these days. Don’t cockroaches and North Korea both poll better than you guys now?

  9. 13


    @ 11

    Don’t place too much emphasis on polls following major events, Steve.

    I would remind you of GWB43’s polling numbers in the first few months following 9/11. Would you consider those substantial approval numbers representative of what people thought of Bush?

    Or was it knee-jerk sentiment fueled by emotion, which quickly receded when people had time to think and reconsider their support?

    Just sayin’.

  10. 14

    Steve spews:

    “Can Obama re-route ATF out of Homeland Security?”

    I really don’t know, Bob. It’s obviously a problem when neither Bush nor Obama can get a confirmation through the senate. It’d be nice if something could be done about that.

    I took exception to Pudge misleading his readers. Again. Some might even say that he lied to them. Again. I suspect that there’s a rather deep-seated reason why a compulsive liar like Pudge has accused commenters of lying to him so many thousands of times.

  11. 15

    Steve spews:

    “Just sayin’”

    I’m really just sayin’ that you need to reign in the extremists if your party is to make a comeback, which I truly hope it will. Didn’t some Republican politician just bring up the rape and abortion thing again? That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about. You really need to find a way for those types to put a cork in it.

  12. 17

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    If this new Boeing airplane is having such troubles, why does the engineers’ union at Boeing think they all deserve a raise? Sounds like they haven’t done a good job in designing and building this new plane, and that doesn’t seem to justify their demands for higher salaries.

  13. 18

    Steve spews:

    “If this new Boeing airplane is having such troubles, why does the engineers’ union at Boeing think they all deserve a raise?”

    Clueless, as usual. Tell us, where is the 787 manufactured, PI, and what percentage of that work is done by union labor? You obviously have no idea. Putz. Pay more attention to the current events or at least RHP’s comments and get yourself a clue before you post more senseless drivel like that.

  14. 19

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 17: Shows how little you know about the process of designing and building airplanes.

    Remember that Boeing salespeople find out what customers want, and then sign up customers for new models based on the “I think I can!” method of aircraft design. This is typical of an upper management which considers loyalty and “positive attitude” above realistic appraislas.

    Lower weight, better range, better fuel efficiency, are what customers want. Those are admirable objectives, but the devil’s in the details. When you have hard goals to meet already set by sales staff (delivery schedules, total net weight, range), you have to make some hard choices. Like doing away with as much wiring and hydraulic piping as possible which runs the length of the aircraft, choosing instead to have simple “fly by wire” and stand-off electrical/hydraulic systems with much greater power requirements, and a switch to Lithium batteries to provide that greater power with less weight.

    As for wiring, the delivery schedules (and the G.E. Financial School of Economics) dictated out-sourcing – originally to a Texas firm which, in turn, out-sourced to a Mexican firm, both with poor quality control. In the end Boeing had to re-establish it’s own wiring shop – but this time on the factory floor, right alongside the 787 production line, to completely re-build the wiring on much of the original 787’s.

    There’s also quality issues with respect to running the wires. Boeing management has preferred to bring in all new people and train them on the 787, in the hopes that it could save money by not paying highly experienced people the highest-scale Union wages. Many of the experienced aircraft electrians are being kept as “contract” employees, which they hope to terminate eventually. But the newer kids just don’t have the experience of aircraft electritians who have been doing it for the past twenty+ years or so, and wiring mistakes have been made. Most of them get corrected prior to delivery, but some make it through the process.

    Now, there were some good reasons for hiring new people for the 787 program. After decades of successive layoffs, Boeing was full of “grey hairs” who were only a few years short of retirement, taking with them their accumulated knowledge and skills. Unless Boeing started to hire considerably younger workers, it would have a major problem during this decade. Since the 787 program was using entirely new work-management computer systems and materials with which to build the airplane, it made some sense to assign the newer workers to the program – instead of re-training thousands of workers with decades of experience on the legacy models. But Boeing management didn’t anticipate the learning curve – it can take upwards of five years to learn the basics of aircraft manufacturing, and Boeing Management expected these new hires to hit the ground running, and there was a lot of frustration and finger-pointing among the financial types in Chicago when that didn’t occur.

    As for the recent battery/electrical issues, we need to wait on the reports. It could be a defect in the battery itself, allowing over-charging. Or it could be a wiring issue, or a failure of redundant systems designed to prevent over-charging. I’m not trying to guess until I see the reports.

  15. 20

    Steve spews:

    For you information, PI, from Wiki,

    Subcontracted assemblies included wing manufacture (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Japan, central wing box)[35] horizontal stabilizers (Alenia Aeronautica, Italy; Korea Aerospace Industries, South Korea);[36] fuselage sections (Global Aeronautica, Italy; Boeing, North Charleston, USA; Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Japan; Spirit AeroSystems, Wichita, USA; Korean Air, South Korea);[37][38][39] passenger doors (Latécoère, France); cargo doors, access doors, and crew escape door (Saab AB, Sweden); software development (HCL Enterprise India);[40] floor beams (TAL Manufacturing Solutions Limited, India);[41][42] wiring (Labinal, France);[43] wing-tips, flap support fairings, wheel well bulkhead, and longerons (Korean Air, South Korea);[44] landing gear (Messier-Dowty, UK/France);[45] and power distribution and management systems, air conditioning packs (Hamilton Sundstrand, Connecticut, USA).[43][46] Boeing is considering bringing construction of the 787-9 tail in house; the tail of the 787-8 is currently made by Alenia.[47]

  16. 21

    rhp6033 spews:

    Okay, despite saying I was going to wait until the report, I will engage in some rumor-mongering.

    Reports from Japan regarding the ANA emergency landing tend to indicate that it was indeed a battery issue – the battery pack was blackened with fluid leaking, it ws probably very close to bursting into flames when the aircraft landed. Together with the JAL fire at Boston’s Logan airport, this seems to point the finger at the Japanese company which supplied the battery packs to Boeing.

    In the meantime, the FAA has issued an AD grounding all U.S. registered 787’s until the operator can demonstrate the safety of the 787. Currently only United owns a handful of the airplanes. It’s safe to say that it will indefinately suspend it’s planned new service between L.A. and Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

  17. 22

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @12 We did that years ago. It’s a formality. Or was, until Tea Partiers made it to Congress.

  18. 23

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 20: Boeing is already bringing the 787-9 horizontal stabilizer in-house (sort of) with it’s purchase of the facilities in Jordan, Utah, near Salt Lake City. Boeing just enveiled the horizontal stab at a cerimony in Salt Lake City. Boeing workers now make the vertical stabilizer and horizontal stabilizer for the 787-9. This comes after repeated and long-standing issues with Alenia performance.