Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 31, 2008

WEDNESDAY'S MINI-REPORT.... Today's edition of quick hits:

* Violence in Gaza continued for a fifth straight day, after talks broke down for a possible cease-fire.

* U.S. markets ended the year on an up note, after a disastrous year in which six years of gains were lost.

* Roland Burris and his staff are now referring to him as "Senator Burris." He says he plans to attend the chamber's swearing-in ceremony next week.

* Burris was, apparently, Blagojevich's second choice -- Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) turned the governor down last week.

* Speaking of Blagojevich, Patrick Fitzgerald wants an additional 90 days to bring an indictment against the governor.

* The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a new state law that bans unmarried couples that live together from becoming foster or adoptive parents.

* One of the main problems with the Republicans on the Federal Election Commission is that they don't seem interested in enforcing the law.

* Remember Vikki Iseman? She's suing the New York Times for $27 million.

* I'm sorry to see the Village Voice let go of Nat Hentoff.

* California's budget problems are pretty extraordinary -- and not in a good way.

* I enjoyed Andrew Golis' year-end piece: "The Ten Young Progressive Intellectuals Who Make Me Hopeful."

* Ed Kilgore has a good piece of his own, highlighting various political memes that became conventional wisdom, but which turned out to be completely wrong.

* Congratulations to James Joyner on the birth of his daughter.

* And finally, don't forget that tonight, we gain an extra second. Set your clocks accordingly.

Anything to add? Consider this the very last open thread of 2008.

Steve Benen 5:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Something's wrong with Golis' list. I looked through the whole thing, and there is no mentions of Steve Benen. I don't think anyone could make the case that Maddow would be anywhere near as successful without frequent appearances from Steve.

Seriously though, thanks for another great year, Steve! I know it's been a roller coaster ride including the loss of good friends, the start of a new job, and one of the most historical and crazy elections in recent memory.

Happy new year!

Posted by: doubtful on December 31, 2008 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Nat Hentoff has written some good stuff on civil liberties, but he always seems to blame Democrats for any erosion of civil liberties - even during the 2001-2006 years when Dems were a minority in House and Senate. I stopped reading him long ago because of this. So, I am not crying because he was let go by Village Voice - I just wonder why it took them so long.

Posted by: BC on December 31, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

You better take a look at this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/12/31/roland...

Burris seems like an a-hole., Enough with the he's a good guy talk. I just got a gut feeling that there's something in his appointment that we don't know about.

Posted by: K.K. on December 31, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Burris was, apparently, Blagojevich's second choice -- Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) turned the governor down last week.

Davis made his choice, and now Burris is the Junior Senator from Illinois. If Davis really is the better man, then Davis made a mistake turning down the appointment.

I expect that Burris will have some highly publicized meetings with the incredibly supportive Congressional Black Caucus, and then some meetings with other senatorial pariahs, like John McCain (anathema to Republicans) and Joe Lieberman (anathema to Democrats).

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on December 31, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Good luck to the ACLU on the Arkansas case. Though I'll admit it pisses me off to no small degree that the only reason they won't be immediately laughed out of court is because real (ie, straight) people are collateral damage in a law intended to punish gay people for daring to continue breathing.

Posted by: Keori on December 31, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Happy New Year, Steve, and thanks for helping us get through the politics of 2008.

Posted by: Frak on December 31, 2008 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Obama recently announced the names of 90 political appointees at the Defense Dept who would be dismissed right after the inauguration. Jim O'Beirne, Special Ass't to Gates, and husband of Kate (the shrew) O'Beirne, sent a letter to the 90, congratulating them. Essentially he said it was a badge of honor to be recognized as bad by Dems. O'beirne was also in charge of hiring people to rebuild Iraq after the invasion. Heckuva job, Beirnie.

Posted by: Danp on December 31, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Violence in Gaza continued for a fifth straight day..." Despite these continued attacks against innocent Palestinian civilians, the agent of hope and change still has not issued one word of condemnation against Israel for its slaughter of the inhabitants of Gaza. AIPAC has apparently done a superb job of intimidating Obama at the expense of Palestinian lives.

Posted by: Erroll on December 31, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Happy New Year to Steve and Ms. CB, and to all those readers -- you know who you are -- who collectively helped us get through a tumultuous year. Oh, heck. Happy New Year to everyone.

Posted by: beep52 on December 31, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

For a final -- maybe -- comment of 2008, before I have to hurry and get ready for the New Year's Kitten to mysteriously appear -- he goes from house to house scattering toy mice for good little cats, and my cats deserve a visit from him. (No, I hadn't known of the story either until Tiki (Misstique) told it to me, but now I know to get ready), I'll just pass this on.

The sound of one mouth laughing kills
The laugh, and shouts of simple joy are
Smothered by indulgent people waiting for
Return to Earth.
Even beauty loses color
When it is not seen through
Someone else's eyes.

There is no way I've found
To celebrate alone.

So find someone and enjoy

We made it!!!!

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on December 31, 2008 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

"All da Mavericks in da house putcha hands up!"

Thanks, Steve for all your work. You do realize we'd all survive if you actually took a vacation next year?

Happy New Year and onward to January 20th! If we can elect Obama surely we can help him succeed.

Posted by: MissMudd on December 31, 2008 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

I love your formatting, guy, the poem should end at

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on December 31, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Happy New Year to all you Political Animals!

Posted by: MarkH on December 31, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Bailout, Merriam-Webster's word of the year...

Oniomania... my word of the year.

Posted by: koreyel (the word plumber) on December 31, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

Happy New Year to all.

Steve, you are such an excellent gatherer upper of info, I was wondering if you know how many posts you and Mr. CB put your bylines on in '08. You may risk having the vapors if you find out but you sure wrote your ass off this last year.

And all that nutritious and substantial writing had to have a positive effect on the overall successful outcome of the election.

Thanks for all your hard work. I can't imagine what '09 has in store but I'm looking forward to reading your take on it.

Posted by: burro on December 31, 2008 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Violence in Gaza ... "

Could you please not do this? Its a standard tack of the media that when Israel is doing violence to use the passive voice and when Palestinians are doing the violence to attribute it to Palestinians.

So it is always "Hamas rocket attacks..." but "violence continued..." when it is bombing by Israel.

Posted by: JohnN on December 31, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

American weapons killed more Palestinians today.

Posted by: Brojo on December 31, 2008 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: "California's budget problems are pretty extraordinary -- and not in a good way."

Reality bites the ignorant particularly hard, doesn't it? We can thank the Republican Party for this singular honor. In the name of so-calle fiscal responsibility, these unrepentant ideologues have irresponsibly trashed what once was America's shining city on the hill, and left their children and grandchildren the past-due invoices.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on December 31, 2008 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know that there's ever been a better jazz writer than Nat Hentoff, but somehow he took a wrong tack in the mid-70s and never recovered. His social issue drek seems to have been written by a different person with the same name. I suppose you could say the same for the Voice, which has been a different paper since the early '70s, seldom as good as its reputation. Tonight is a moment to meditate upon the passage of time. As always, expect the worst, hope for the best, peace, love and spiritual growth to everyone. Especially Nat; not too late. For the Voice, maybe not. Happy New Year, such as it is.

Posted by: ericfree on December 31, 2008 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK
And finally, don't forget that tonight, we gain an extra second. Set your clocks accordingly.

That means we have to put up with Bush for an extra second.


Happy New Year folks.

Cough - Maybe WaMo will gussy up its website in the New Year - Cough.

Posted by: tAwO 4 That 1 on December 31, 2008 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

Steven Benen and Hilzoy, this is tribute from me and suppose from many others, Though I do not speak for them but sure they appreciate the efforts made for the hard work and diligent effort that makes all of us enjoy and wish to participate in one of the most transparent blogs on the Internet.

There is savvier discourse here with honest dialog in this blog than most others, which is a serious needed stability in the chaos and uncertainty delivered by Mainstream Media.

I have a wish more than a prophecy for the future, here it is:

If the Congress is a majority, and so the Senate a majority here is willed to do what we the people need to be done, that is impeachment of members of the Supreme Court should come to pass. Then, Bush and Company will meet its true legacy.

I leave this wish for all America and include the limits with in the Constitution that are possible to do what is right. For Bush and Company have run America wrong but really thought it was the right thing to do. It is high time it is challenged and Bush and Company placed accountable for it knows what it does and it was wrong.

Impeaching a US Supreme Court Judge
YEP, Congress can impeach a Supreme Court Justice. It's been done 5 or 6 times in our history...not all were convicted however.

The process is the same as impeaching a President. The vote to impeach done by simple majority of the House, this is after it passes a committee hearing on the grounds of impeachment. If the full House votes to impeach, it moves to the Senate who votes for conviction. It needs 2/3 majority to pass in the Senate. If it passes the Senate, the Judge is removed from Office.

Without further delay let it begin.

Posted by: Megalomania on December 31, 2008 at 10:12 PM | PERMALINK

Ed Gilmore's piece had some pretty good memes listed that obviously didn't pan out.

"America is still Center-Right" didn't make it on the list.

It didn't make it on the list because it hasn't been proven to be wrong?

I'd like to disagree with that. Just because there are still about 20-25% of the population who yell and scream harder than anybody else, doesn't mean they are the majority.


On a happier note: Best wishes to Steve Benen, Hilzoy, and your families, and everybody else who contributes in the comment section.

I have enjoyed reading Steve's writing since CB times and will continue visiting his blog - wherever it travels in the future.

Good luck in the new year and here's hoping for a new start for OUR America on January 20th.

Posted by: Bruno on December 31, 2008 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

I call bullshit on Fitz and his 90-day extension request. He's obviously still hoping to roll Blago in the court of public opinion, because the "hidden cards" he promised aren't panning out that well. It's been nearly a month since Blago's arrest, and none of Fitz's hole cards have yet to be turned over.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on December 31, 2008 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Steve Benen and all the commenters for insights and chuckles (I enjoy troll inanities, too, if in a different way) of '08. Happy New Yeaaaawn...

Posted by: exlibra on January 1, 2009 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

From Physicians for a National Health Plan:

Please use the Obama web site to vote your support for the single-payer position. The Obama transition team is soliciting questions from the public via their web site. Visitors may "vote" for the best questions, which will then be responded to by the Obama team.

As of this writing, single-payer questions have been voted #2 and #3 under the "health care" section. Please help us vote them to the top and send a strong message to the Obama team and the new Congress that the American public favors single payer, not incremental band-aids.


In addition, we encourage you to submit your own questions which will highlight the inadequacies of the Obama proposal. Sample questions are reprinted below the instructions which follow:

Instructions for Voting / Submitting Questions

1. Visit http://change.gov/openforquestions

2. Click the small "Sign In" text on the right-hand side of the screen. Sign-in with your email and password on the right. (If you haven't signed-in before, just fill out the short form on the left.)

3. Under "pick a topic" on the left-hand side of the screen, click "health care."

4. Questions will appear in a box in the middle. Skip the large question in the blue box and scroll down. Immediate below the large blue question will be leading questions. Two excellent ones should be near the top:

"We all recognize the insurance industry is the problem, not lack of insurance--what are you going to do about getting single payer (government) health care, as other progressive countries throughout the industrialized world have done?"

"What are the obstacles to implementing the single-payer health care used in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia? With a growing number of unemployed or underemployed in 2009, will your administration work towards single-payer as a goal?"

(Note: More good questions may have appeared by the time you read this. You may want to examine others if you have time)

5. To vote for these questions, click the small "check" box beside it.

6. To Submit a question, click the "submit a question" box at the bottom of the screen and type it in. Here are some example questions:

Employer-based coverage continues to steadily deteriorate, leaving millions without access to care due to costs and hundreds of thousands facing medical bankruptcy even though they're insured. Why should we use this defective system as the as the foundation of reform when research shows single-payer national health insurance could provide comprehensive, universal care for no more than we're paying now?

Subsidy and individual mandate schemes have failed to achieve universal coverage anywhere they've been tried…including most recently in Massachusetts. Rather than reprising these mistakes, wouldn't it be better to move to a proven system - single-payer national health insurance - which has already afforded other industrialized countries healthier populations at lower costs?

Posted by: Duncan Kinder on January 1, 2009 at 1:52 AM | PERMALINK
If one does not read the newspaper they are uninformed, and if they do read the newspaper they are misinformed -Mark Twain

And if they listen to pundits then they are intentionally misinformed and like it that way.

Posted by: Jet on January 1, 2009 at 7:06 AM | PERMALINK

Re: the 'violence' in Gaza- don't you love how it's always phrased as if nobody's at fault?- here's a POV you rarely see in the US:



Posted by: Zorro on January 1, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Another step forward in biofuels:


2009 will produce many, many small steps like this one. Soon, there will be salt-tolerant jatropha as there is salt-tolerant soybeans. Both can grow in poor soil unsuitable for food crops.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 1, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK



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