Friday Talking Points [115] -- Git 'Er Done!

[ Posted Friday, March 12th, 2010 – 17:20 UTC ]

Call it the calm before the storm. Democrats in Washington are going through one of those "It's quiet out there... too quiet..." cliché moments, as everyone holds their breath in anticipation of the beginning of the end of the health reform debate in Congress.

What everyone's waiting on is for Congress to leap into action. But, in a surprising twist, this time it might actually happen.

OK, that was a cheap shot, I freely admit. What we're really all waiting for is the Congressional Budget Office (C.B.O.) to "score" (put budget numbers on) Nancy Pelosi's reconciliation bill. Nobody knows exactly when this will happen (they're an independent agency, after all), but it will be the starting gun on the sprint to the finish.

There are three procedural hurdles left to be crossed. The first vote will be in the House, on the bill the Senate passed last Christmas Eve. This bill cannot be changed, or else it would have to go through the Senate again -- which is now impossible, due to Democrats no longer having the 60 votes to pass it (thanks, Massachusetts).

The second hurdle is also a House vote, on the "sidecar" bill which will fix some of the problems with the Senate bill. This is the bill the C.B.O. is looking at currently, and will then be posted online for the required 72 hours, while it winds its way through the committee process. Hopefully around next Friday (just my estimate, which I base on nothing concrete, merely gut feeling), the bill will hit the floor of the House and squeak out a majority.

Then this bill moves over to the Senate, which will be a death-match cage fight. The Senate only needs 50 votes to pass the bill (with Joe Biden present), because it will use budget reconciliation rules. Republicans will be throwing everything including the kitchen sink into this fight, in an effort to kill the bill. If Harry Reid is smart, he will schedule this floor fight right before the Senate's planned Easter break. Nothing like the threat of reduced vacation time to motivate senators!

Then President Obama signs the bills (actually, he will sign the Senate Christmas Eve bill earlier in the process) and the issue is forever finished, and health reform happiness reigns o'er the land for all.

Well, no. Not really. I hate to be the bearer of bad news to an exhausted audience, but health reform is going to become an issue where the fighting just goes on and on for years to come. Sorry to break it to you, but there it is. Republicans are going to attempt repealing everything, and are going to campaign on this very issue. Some Democrats are going to keep pushing single-payer and the public option (and abortion restrictions, for that matter) as separate bills. And then in less than a decade, Medicare is going to need fixing again, only this time the whole debate will be around containing costs, to save the system from bankruptcy.

But this week has been relatively calm, so I don't want to rain too much on the parade before it gets going. The big fight that took place this week, which got the attention of the Left (but not many others) was the final nail in the public option's coffin.

Pressure had been mounting to add the public option to the reconciliation bill, led by a Progressive Change Campaign Committee website ( that tracked which Democrats had signed onto a letter (or made a public statement in support of the idea) promising to vote for the public option via reconciliation. A few weeks ago, a handful of senators had signed on. This number kept growing, until it finally hit 41 senators who had voiced support for the idea. While getting 41 Democratic senators on board the effort is impressive, 41 is not 50. And time's running out.

This seemed to bear out what the conventional wisdom had been saying -- there just aren't enough votes to pass the public option through the Senate -- even with reconciliation.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin seemed to confuse the issue, by people reading too much into his remarks. Durbin was basically passing the buck to Nancy Pelosi, and saying (in essence) that the Senate would have to pass the House's bill with no amendments at all -- even good ones, as a matter of procedure. He said if the House bill had a public option in it, he'd whip Democrats to vote for it as is. If it didn't contain a public option, he'd whip for Democrats to vote for it as is. This was misread by many into some sort of support or opposition to the public option, which it wasn't.

Today, Nancy Pelosi did her best to whack the ball out of her court, but in doing so admitted that the bill she had sent to the C.B.O. had no public option in it. Meaning it just isn't going to happen in this legislation. Both the House and Senate are walking a tightrope, trying to corral votes within the caucus, and the public option was deemed a bridge too far (OK, maybe that tightrope/bridge metaphor kind of went crashing into the corral below, but you get my meaning, I hope).

Prosaically, that's where I think we are. The other side is girding their loins, the cavalry is mounting up to come charging over the hill, and a grand battle is guaranteed for everyone's bemusement. America is actually pretty sick of this battle already, and Democrats (especially in the House) need to finish it sooner rather than later, so they have at least something to show their constituents for the enormous effort this has all taken, in the hopes of getting re-elected this fall.

But, for now, it's quiet out there... this calm will likely last this weekend, and the storm will likely break early next week.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

There were some minorly impressive things which happened this week, but not a lot that rose to the level of winning a MIDOTW award. Senator Chris Dodd made some news by stating that the time for attempting bipartisanship on financial reform is now over, and he will now proceed to write his own bill which he'll unveil Monday. This may be excellent news, and then again, it may just be a feint designed to win him a little favor with Democrats pushing for strong Wall Street reform, and the creation of a strong and independent consumer finance regulator. The proof will be in the pudding, so we'll be watching for what, exactly, is in Dodd's bill. We have been disappointed by Dodd in the past, so we're going to wait until we see the bill before we consider handing Dodd an award for it.

David Obey, who chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee over in the House, also made some news with his political gambit of banning some earmarks. I wrote about this for the past two days, so if you're interested, check it out. The Republicans upped the ante yesterday, and so far, no word from Obey about whether he'll match their pledge to ban all earmarks (and not just ones to for-profit corporations). Obey should one-up the Republicans at this point by offering a permanent ban on the practice of earmarking, and deride their one-year pledge as meaningless election-year sloganeering. It's certainly worth a try. But Obey did not immediately raise the stakes in such a fashion, after the all-too-predictable Republican response. Until he does so, he has lost the political momentum he was trying to achieve with the gimmick, and so narrowly misses out on a MIDOTW.

Representative Alan Grayson gets a special "Roll With The Punches" award this week, for bouncing back from the news of the public option's demise, and immediately pushing a separate House bill (H.R. 4789 -- "The Public Option Act") which would go even farther. The bill is only four pages long, and would allow anyone to buy into Medicare at cost, if they wanted to. It wouldn't impact the budget at all, because "at cost" means revenue-neutral. It's a simple concept -- "Medicare for all" -- in a simple bill (again, four pages). Grayson explains the bill in detail himself in his article, and he encourages everyone to visit his website ( to show your support for the idea. He's already got 50 cosponsors in the House, so we'll see where this idea goes in the future. But for being so quick off the mark with a standalone public option bill, Grayson certainly deserves acknowledgement this week.

But the real winner of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week was the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who managed to get 41 Democratic senators to sign on to their pledge to vote for a public option through reconciliation. Although they weren't completely successful, at this point getting 41 Democratic senators to agree that the sky is blue is a worthy achievement, much less getting them to sign a pledge to vote for anything. Outside groups try to pressure Congress all the time to get what they want, but most of them fall far short of making any sort of impact while doing so. PCCC's effort was one of the most impressive of these efforts ever seen, and they deserve to be spotlighted for their impact. Their effort grew slowly, from just a handful of senators who had signed their letter, until it stalled at 41. Technically, their award should read "of the past few weeks" rather than just "of the week," for their persistence. By pulling together this whipcount -- and by forcing Democrats to pledge their support for a public option -- PCCC has done an impressive job of outsider advocacy, much more impressive than most. For this, the PCCC is awarded the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[Congratulate the Progressive Change Campaign Committee on their website, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

For the second week in a row, ex-Representative Eric Massa walks away with the prize in the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week category. After Massa's self-immolation on (of all places) the Glenn Beck show, nobody else even comes close.

This hourlong cringefest was so bad that Beck himself apologized for wasting America's time at the end of it. In a turnabout of their usual roles, the mainstream media (outside the Beltway) quickly got tired of the story, but the inside-the-Beltway crowd (normally sneering at salacious "news" and scandals as "unserious") just couldn't get enough. "Naked Rahm Emanuel! Tickle parties! Living with male staffers! Groping! Being forced out! Or not! Whatever! Give us more!" ...screamed the normally staid political chattering class.

The "money quote" that Massa will be long remembered for happened on Beck's show, and for this quote alone Massa wins this week's MDDOTW award:

"Now they're saying I groped a male staffer. Yeah, I did. Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe and then four guys jumped on top of me -- my 50th birthday -- it was 'kill the old guy'."

Um, OK. Don't really think I can add to that at all. Eric Massa's second Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award will be in the mail soon, as we deemed it impossible to schedule a time for him to pick it up in person. Ahem. Sorry, but it's a rather ticklish situation.

[No current public contact address for Eric Massa is available, sorry.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 115 (3/12/10)

We're taking the talking points in a new direction this week, which hopefully won't have to be repeated too often. Normally, I provide this snippets of spin for Democrats everywhere to use, especially those holding office who are about to be interviewed this weekend.

This week, instead, I am providing talking points from The People to those Democratic officeholders. Because while we've all spent a year having lots of political fun with health reform, there are a few other things which require some attention. Coincidentally, passing this stuff will dramatically improve any chances Democrats may have for being re-elected this year. Because the voters sent you Congressfolks there to get some stuff done. Now, you did manage to get a few things done last year, before sinking into the morass of health reform, but seeing as how we may be close to dragging ourselves out of that swamp one way or another, it's time to review what else is bubbling away on the back legislative burners.

And, in doing so, the Voice of The People (or, if you're some sort of ay-LEET-ist, "Vox Populi") is going to say the same exact thing for each and every one of these talking points. It is what we're all saying currently over health reform: "Get it done!"

However, we must also give a nod to Larry the Cable Guy here, and put it even more forcefully (and less ay-LEET-ist, of course) by phrasing it: "Git 'er done!" Just to give credit where it is due.

Here are seven issues waiting for some congressional action. Democrats waking up from the daze of health reform might just consider passing a few of these (or else they won't have such decisions to make very much longer).



This one is kind of obvious. The House and the Senate have both acted on jobs bills, but they haven't combined the bills yet in conference committee. Because there are unemployment benefits and other calendar-dependent issues contained within, this one already has a ticking clock, so it'll likely be first out of the gate. Hopefully, this will set a fast pace for other bills to follow. Democrats desperately need to show that they're doing something on the jobs issue. They've made progress already, so the only thing left to do is...

"Git 'er done!"


   Wall Street reform

Dodd's action next week will be crucial on this issue, which is why we'll be watching him closely. Nancy Pelosi actually did a good job of framing this the other day, in insisting on calling it "Wall Street reform." So, Democrats, for once, please use this wonderful term that everyone can understand and get behind, instead of some more dry technical language to describe what you're trying to do. This is a wildly popular effort, and forcing Republicans to vote on the side of Wall Street banks, and against changing the rules that almost destroyed our economy will be a vote-getter for Democrats in the fall. It's really a win-win proposition. So nothing should stand in the way, and Democrats should immediately...

"Git 'er done!"


   Comprehensive immigration reform

Some Democrats may want to shy away from this one (in an election year), but it would actually benefit the Democrats if tackled correctly. Republicans can almost always be counted on to "cross the line" in terms of language during any debate on immigration, for starters. And Democrats need to follow through on the promises they've been making to Latinos for a while now on the issue. Latinos have been voting in record numbers for Democrats, but this could change if they don't see any legislative action as a result of their support. While Latino voters may not switch and vote Republican if they become disappointed in Democrats, they may decide to stay home and not vote. And there's already too many Democratic voters who will do so this year, so we don't need to add more. Instead, tackling immigration would actually provide some enthusiasm out there in the Democratic electorate. So, Democrats, don't be scared, just...

"Git 'er done!"


   Energy reform

This one may not succeed this year, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth trying. If pitched correctly -- "let's stop sending all of America's money to countries that don't like us, and kick the foreign oil habit!" -- this could be a potent issue for Democrats. Progress has been made on the issue, but not nearly enough. "We can do nothing, and sit around and wait until gasoline is ten bucks a gallon, or we can start planning for that day right now!" would probably work as well. While the issue may get watered down from the sweeping plan of marching into a green future in order to accommodate incrementalist compromises which may have to be made along the way; again, this doesn't mean it's not worth attempting. So, (everyone, all together)...

"Git 'er done!"


   Allow gays to serve

It's time. The Pentagon isn't exactly thrilled about the concept, but they are what I would call resigned to it. It is time to overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and let patriotic Americans serve their country in the military without discrimination. Some version of this will likely come up for a vote in the military budget this year. Coupled with President Obama telling the Pentagon to come up with a plan to implement the new policy by the end of the year, Congress needs to give the Pentagon and the president the leeway to throw this policy on the scrapheap of history. In other words, stop stalling, and...

"Git 'er done!"


   Close Gitmo

Another place the president's hands are tied in dealing with the military is the subject of Guantanamo Bay. The prison at "Gitmo" is seen around the world as a Bush-era legacy which harms America's image. Obama promised to close it by now. Congress has pushed back. Democrats need to give the president the leeway to close Gitmo and transfer the prisoners to a secure location elsewhere, by not tying his hands in the military budget. Gitmo needs to close. And Congress has to allow it.

"Git 'er done!"


   Kill the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy

This is an enormous issue that few people have even noticed at this point. The Bush tax cuts were passed in 2001, by reconciliation. This means that they are not "permanent" but rather sunset (or "disappear") after ten years. That ten years is almost up, meaning Congress has to figure out what to do about this situation this year. This is going to be a huge battle in Congress this year, unless they all decide ", it's an election year, we'll punt it to next year." But Democrats should be out there making the following case: "Don't like the deficit? Don't like our national debt? Then remove all Bush tax cuts for anyone making over a million bucks a year. That'll solve a healthy chunk of the deficit right there." Congress doesn't even have to actively do anything on the issue, other than saving the few middle-class tax cuts in the package. If they do nothing, then the Bush tax cuts will automatically expire next year. So the law Bush signed will "raise taxes." Democrats need to make this case, and (once and for all)...

"Git 'er done!"


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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


24 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [115] -- Git 'Er Done!”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:


    Hi. This has nothing to do with the article, just FYI.

    I am looking into improving the comment code sometime soon. Mostly, to get rid of the trackbacks and pingbacks (weird comments you may have seen with links to other places displaying the articles).

    But, I discovered that WordPress has updated the functionality. So I thought I'd run a few things by you folks (especially the ones who comment on lots of different blogs, and know what they like and don't like).

    Currently, the comments here are displayed pretty simply. They alternate colors, but that's about it. So, here are some added features I'm considering (some of these may prove to be too much work, programmatically, I warn you in advance). So, what would you like to see here in the future?


    Avatars (those mini pictures some blogs use) to identify yourselves with. I'm leaning against these, because it can take awhile to load all the pictures if the comments grow long.

    Paged comments (set number of comments per page, so you don't have to load a giant list).

    Reverse the order -- newer comments appear at the top, instead of the bottom.

    Reply and threaded comments -- this way, if you reply to a comment, it appears below that comment instead of somewhere way down the list. This one, I warn, may be too hard to tackle right now, although I know it is nice to have. I'll take a look at it, but that's all I can promise.

    Numbered comments (does it do this already? I forget, probably not). Just a number on each comment, for easy reference.

    Comment permalinks. This way you can link to an individual comment, if discussing it elsewhere. You get a link to the comment itself, instead of just the article's link. This one may also be a hassle, not sure.

    Anyway, that's about it for now. Oh, I could get rid of the alternating colors, too, I guess, since it looks like I'm going to have to rewrite the entire chunk of comment code. I kind of like the colors, as it separates the comments, but I could get rid of it pretty easily.

    Let me know your thoughts. Or any other comment ideas, suggestions, or bugaboos you may have to offer.




  2. [2] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Reply and threaded comments -- this way, if you reply to a comment, it appears below that comment instead of somewhere way down the list. This one, I warn, may be too hard to tackle right now, although I know it is nice to have. I'll take a look at it, but that's all I can promise.

    That would be great if you can manage it.

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin -

    I'll do my best. I may run into layout problems if I try to indent them (to show "children" comments and "parent" comments more clearly). But I'll at least give it a shot.

    Anyone else?


  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I like the simplicity of the way you have things set up now. I like the alternating colours, too. It’s easy to carry on a conversation without any distractions ... like avatars or numbers beside the comments. But, I do like that the comments are in chronological order - easy to follow the conversation ... and it makes it easy to continue and follow the conversation if we all address our comments - kind of like a letter format. Most of us do that now and I think it works great.

    Reply mode might be nice but then we’ll probably often get beyond a few replies and that can run out of space very fast and then we just have to start again with a ‘new’ comment to continue the friendly argument at Bidenitum, so to speak. :)

    I wouldn’t mind if you added a real smiley face, or two ... as long as we use them sparingly. :D

    Bottom line ... as long as you don’t institute a word limit, I’ll be happy!

    Oh, I just thought of something else ... it might be nice to preview a comment before you submit it ... nice, but not essential.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Of course, an edit function would be nice, too. :(

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    agreed with liz. the current format really is among the best i've seen, easy to use and easy to follow. overall, complexity of any sort tends to create more problems than it solves. "k.i.s.s." is a good maxim for all computer issues.

    below are my responses to specifics:

    avatars i wouldn't mind, as long as there's a strict limit on memory usage and file type, to avoid page load issues.

    numbers and permalinks actually would be nice. both can be done very simply.

    forward or backward order doesn't really matter, though sites are cool where you can choose to view in either direction.

    threaded comments can get annoyingly tiny after a few replies, while paged comments make it annoying to refer to posts that are off the "page." so those both get a negative from me. a "reply" feature can be good when it quotes the original without creating a thread.

    one thing i like that wasn't mentioned is a "cut" script for long posts, so you can click between the full post and the first five to ten lines, without having to re-load the whole page.


  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Avatars would be nice..

    Edit and/or Preview functions would be nicer..

    Not a real fan of threaded comments..


  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Regarding #6 of your TPs..

    Can I ask a question??

    I know, I know.. I just did.. :D

    But seriously...

    Why close Gitmo just to create ANOTHER Gitmo stateside??

    If yer gonna have a prison to house terrorists, some of which will likely never be tried and never be released, where is the logic in bringing them to the US where they will do the most harm??

    In other words, the ONLY logical course of action, if we're going to have a Gitmo, is to have it AT GITMO...


  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    to quote chris, "The prison at Gitmo is seen around the world as a Bush-era legacy which harms America's image."

    like it or not, one of the things we need in order to accomplish foreign policy objectives is good international public relations. regardless of whether or not it seems logical, closing the prison facility at guantanamo is a potential source of positive PR, which may be needed to gain all sorts of cooperation from various countries.

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    So, what you are saying is that it is completely a useless exercise in political correctness that does absolutely NOTHING to enhance the safety or US citizens, yet costs those same US citizens billions..

    I have yet to see ANY evidence that shows or even indicates that Gitmo has produced ONE single terrorist that would not have become a terrorist otherwise.

    And, regardless of all THAT, is the "world" going to be any better disposed towards "Gitmo West" in Illinois???

    Of course not...

    It all comes down to a useless exercise of political masturbation. Sure, it's fun for a while, but it accomplishes absolutely nothing but making a mess...


  11. [11] 
    Moderate wrote:

    Republicans are going to attempt repealing everything, and are going to campaign on this very issue.

    Wouldn't it absolutely suck for Democrats if, after all these hoops you lot have had to jump through to get HCR passed (assuming, of course, that it does pass) the Republicans undo it all? Having said that you'll all feel much better when the Republicans pass a proper healthcare reform bill that does what it's supposed to ;-)

    But Obey did not immediately raise the stakes in such a fashion, after the all-too-predictable Republican response.

    And that's why I think he might now struggle to pull off the trick you call for. Had he derided the Republican one year pledge immediately, it would have looked like the Democrats always wanted the ban to last longer than a year (as we discussed earlier, the language was ambiguous). I suspect too much time has passed for that.

    Now it would look too much like he's had time to figure out how to score points against the Republicans. Of course the key to scoring points in politics is to look like you're not out to score points ;-).

    forcing Republicans to vote on the side of Wall Street banks, and against changing the rules that almost destroyed our economy

    Of course. But just like healthcare reform, the question isn't whether changes are needed but what form these changes make. The key is to ensure you don't actually increase the risk of the same thing happening, or only decrease the risk by driving the best US banks overseas. If you do that, you undercut TP 1; it'll create job loss.

    "let's stop sending all of America's money to countries that don't like us, and kick the foreign oil habit!"

    Agreed. But rather than spending it all on a bunch of technologies that have been proven to be far less effective (apart from hydrogen and nuclear, both of which are unpopular with the left), the real way to stop dependency on foreign oil is to drill for more oil domestically. But the left constantly deride attempts to drill for more oil.

    The prison at "Gitmo" is seen around the world as a Bush-era legacy which harms America's image.

    Not in the eyes of this Brit. Of course I'm in the minority but then I've always said this country's going to hell in a handbasket. It's full of the offspring of people too stupid to use a condom at 14. Do their opinions count for anything? :-P

    So the law Bush signed will "raise taxes."

    That's untrue. You yourself talk of keeping the middle-class tax cuts (which I'm in favour of), so it's not the law Bush signed that's going to raise taxes, but Democratic inaction on the issue which would allow those to expire.

    RE: Proposed changes to comments

    Avatars: No animated gifs please. Static avatars are OK, with file size limits.

    Paged comments: Again, not really a fan. The only way that saves any "load" time is if you never bother loading the later pages, but if you do, the time is equivalent, and in my experience can actually take longer.

    Reverse the order: I find that much harder to read, because you have to scroll to the bottom to get any sort of "thread" to the discussion.

    Reply and threaded: My mammoth "essay" posts (like this one) are often responses to multiple comments as well as the article itself, so "reply to" is something I'd support. I don't like the idea of "indenting", though (for the reasons the others have given, things becoming too small etc).

    I'd love "in-line" replying (your comment appears below the comment you reply to rather than at the bottom of all the comments) if that's at all possible.

    Numbered comments and comment permalinks both get my vote.

    Bottom line ... as long as you don’t institute a word limit, I’ll be happy!

    Are you sure? Have you seen some of my comments? :-P

    Of course, an edit function would be nice, too. :(

    Yes, yes, a million times yes. I've posted a reply to the wrong post (thanks to tabs in my browser), I've double-posted (thanks to technical glitches) and I'm a repeat offender when it comes to typos. I've taken to using a text editor to proof read my comments before I post them, so I'd love an "edit" option.

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    You obviously haven't seen some of my friendly arguments ad Bidenitum. You probably just haven't been here long enough! :)

    So, what do you think about addressing a specific poster when replying to something they have said ... as I have done, above. That would make it much easier for someone to notice that you have replied to them without having Chris resort to a threaded reply format that, frankly, I don't think would work here.


    I would just reiterate that the edit function would be great. I used to frequent a blog that gave you 30 minutes or so to edit your post beyond which time, no more editing was possible. I don't know how difficult this would be to add, but it sure would be appreciated ... you know, for those of us who like to think we are crazy perfectionists, or something. :)

  13. [13] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    OK, general response here.

    First, haven't even read the political comments yet, I'll get to them. The comments code change will not happen until next weekend, at the earliest, so we've got some time to talk about it. I was busy weedwacking today (lost the cat earlier in the week in the weeds when she was supposed to come in... long story... cat's OK, weeds needed to be whacked...), so I didn't get to programming. Anyway, a few points.

    Full editorial control of comments is likely not going to happen, sorry. I would likely have to change permissions for you folks to do so, and I'm in a security-tightening phase right now due to some nefarious attacks which weren't apparent to the general public (thankfully, sqaushed them quickly enough). So that's a no-go.

    But there are probably plugins to do "preview" rather than full "edit" -- where you get to view your comment before you approve it. I'll look into this, as it seems to be a favorite feature people would like to see.

    I'm still leaning against full threaded comments, where each reply is (usually) indented, because (1) it would require a lot of layout work, and (2) because they do become very tiny, and my middle "column text" column is kind of small to begin with.

    I like the alternating colors myself and am going to try to keep them. I think this'll be do-able, programmatically, and pretty easy (the whole section of code needs complete rewriting due to new WordPress software, but I think I can bring this feature forward without too much work).

    I agree with Liz on the "letter" format, but that's probably because that's how I've always answered comments myself. Maybe I should add a page somewhere of comment tips so people see how easy it is to make italics or bold or underline or all the rest of the allowable styles. This helps when quoting previous comments.

    I will look into whether there's either a plugin or an easy way to make it user-selectable to see comments LIFO of FIFO ("last in, first out" or "first in, first out") if you want to select to see more recent comments on top, or on the bottom. Choosing one or the other programmatically is easy, but allowing users to choose may be harder, I'll have to investigate it further to see how hard.

    I think I'm going to forget avatars for now, doesn't sound like there's a huge need for them.

    Numbering comments may be a good thing, because (1) it'll be fairly easy, and (2) it'll allow for people to reference earlier comments without having to quote text.

    Sorry, Liz, I'm against smiley faces for philosophical reasons. I am a purist, and believe that ASCII is enough to make all sorts of fun emoticons without the laziness of smilies turning them into cutesy little icons. Just a personal bugaboo, sorry.


    or how about



    Permalinks may be very easy, as nypoet22 points out, and actually you might find them helpful if you want to refer to a comment you made here elsewhere. The permalinks actually already exist (and always have) but you've got to know they're there and how to use them. A link at the bottom of each comment to the permalink for that comment would make it SO much easier, and it'd be easy to do, so that's one I'm going to definitely include.

    Paginating ("read more" links) individual comments would (1) be tough programmatically, although maybe not all that tough, and (2) would likely be annoying. But I also know that it is annoying to scroll through a huge comment that you're not interested in reading. So I'll take a look at it.

    Nobody likes paged comments, though? Ten comment per page? Anyone? If not, I won't try to add this.

    Moderate, in-line replies without indenting tends to make everything very confusing, because you don't know where to look for new comments. So I'm going to have to say no to that. Indention is kind of cool, I have to admit, but after two or three replies gets very hard to read, so I'm also leaning against it.

    And, just out of curiousity, have you set your text editor and spell checker to British English or US English? Heh.

    Anyway, that's it for now. Thanks for all the very good feedback, as it'll help me to provide a better site for us all.

    Word limits? Hah, didn't even consider that one. Text is tiny, database-wise. As long as everyone's not posting photos and animations and videos, use as many pixels as you feel like, that's my motto.


  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    On a totally unrelated note, I must note with sorrow, that Jim Phelps has just accomplished his final Impossible Mission.

    For those that grew up with MISSION IMPOSSIBLE on TV, Peter Graves was quintessential Team Leader. Smart, tough and dedicated.

    Despite notable forgettables such as his stint as Clarence Oveur on AIRPLANE and the horrid way that Jim Phelps was treated in the Tom Cruise {sic and sick} Mission Impossible movie, Graves will be fondly remembered by this poster.

    Good Evening, Mr Phelps. Mission's a success. Well Done. You will never be dis-avowed.
    Rest in Peace.


  15. [15] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i can stand for your dismissal of the vital importance of good PR to the accomplishment of foreign policy goals (public relations are not about political correctness; they do EVERYTHING to enhance the safety of US citizens both at home and abroad), but dissing the vital role of peter graves in airplane!, possibly the funniest spoof movie of all time??? now you've gone too far! ;)

    joey, do you like movies about gladiators?

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    i can stand for your dismissal of the vital importance of good PR to the accomplishment of foreign policy goals (public relations are not about political correctness; they do EVERYTHING to enhance the safety of US citizens both at home and abroad),

    I am not against PR moves, if they have REAL meaning and REAL value..

    But this "Gitmo" PR move is worthless. Here is what the world will be saying when (if) Gitmo closes.

    "The US closed Gitmo in Cuba and re-opened it in Illinois. Big Fraking Deal!!"

    You see?? It's not even symbolic. It's moronic..

    It's what happens when our leaders place the value of world opinion over the value of American safety.

    It's why the White House is having to reverse their decision on having civilian trials for terrorist scumbags..

    but dissing the vital role of peter graves in airplane!, possibly the funniest spoof movie of all time??? now you've gone too far! ;)

    Touche'.. :D

    I actually loved AIRPLANE. I just felt that it demeaned Peter Graves to be in it. Call me a purist, but it's the same attitude I have towards Star Trek 90210...

    It's like Sean Connery hawking George Foremen grills on an info-mmercial. Or seeing President Obama on G4 hawking the latest DEF JAM RAP video game..

    One can't help but think, "oh how the mighty have fallen."


  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, will wonders never cease!!??? :D

    Joe Biden finally said something that I can completely and unequivocally agree with and get behind...

    "The cornerstone of the relationship is our absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel's security. Bibi, you heard me say before, progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the United States and Israel. There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel's security."
    -Joe Biden

    Who knew?? :D


  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    If Joe Biden means what he says then Obama/Biden should be force-feeding Israel the two-state solution, if that's what it takes to save Israel from itself.

    Unfortunately, I just don't see that as being in the cards. I hope I'm wrong.

    Joe Biden also said something about the need for bold leadership that will take risks for peace on both sides. He forgot to include the US and Arab states.

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:


    Why is it that there are those here in the US who howl and scream when the US wants to dictate to scumbag tinpot dictators ( {{cough}} Hugo "terrorist" Chavez... {{cough}} Achmedjihadist {{cough}} ), but then advocates even worse "dictation" to our closest ally??


  20. [20] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:



    Adding an easily accessible page for comment tips is a great idea!

  21. [21] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    That's simple - because that kind of dictation will save your closest ally in the Middle East and Joe Biden is the perfect person to take charge of that.

    I think you're missing the point of my comment - I want Israel to survive as a Jewish and democratic state and, up to now, they have been doing a great job to make sure that doesn't happen.

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    I think you're missing the point of my comment - I want Israel to survive as a Jewish and democratic state and, up to now, they have been doing a great job to make sure that doesn't happen.

    Trust me... I have worked with Israelis..

    They are the ones that are in the best position to know what will and will not allow them to survive..

    The US doesn't have clue #1 as to what it takes for Israel to survive..

    The BEST thing the US could do is say, "Bibi, whatever you need to do, you have our complete and unequivocal support.."

    THAT is what the US needs to say to Israel...


  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Quick update -

    Got comment numbers working, and permalinks. I'm going to keep the alternating colors and general layout.

    I've tested these somewhat, but am going to hold everything back and roll all the changes out together, so for now nothing has changed in the way you see things. More updates will appear in this comment thread, for those interested....


  24. [24] 
    Michale wrote:

    If you can reconsider Avatars, I think that would really be cool...

    Also, I just had to tell you.. I was perusing your MY LINKS section.

    Left ‘Toon Lane

    THAT is damn funny!! :D


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