Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 28, 2009

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

* Al Gore warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today that the planet is facing a "grave danger."

* The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Eric Holder's nomination, 17 to 2. Only Sens. Coburn and Cornyn voted against him.

* Speaking of Holder, Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Holder assured him that he wouldn't prosecute Bush administration officials who committed acts of torture. No one seems to think Bond is telling the truth.

* For a change, it was a good day on Wall Street.

* Don't be too surprised if mail delivery on Saturdays becomes a thing of the past.

* Funding for repairs to the Washington Mall were stripped from the stimulus bill to make Republicans happy. They'll vote against the bill anyway, though.

* On a related note, despite the concessions, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has plenty to like about the final House bill.

* Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is looking for a U.S. "apology." He'll be waiting for a while.

* The American Society of Civil Engineers have a pretty scary new report: "More than a quarter of the nation's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Leaky pipes lose an estimated seven billion gallons of clean drinking water every day. And aging sewage systems send billions of gallons of untreated wastewater cascading into the nation's waterways each year."

* Education is likely to get a huge boost from the stimulus.

* Have I mentioned lately how impressed I am with the new Justice Department team? It keeps getting better.

* In case this afternoon's written apology wasn't quite pathetic enough, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) called Limbaugh personally this afternoon to express his regrets -- on the air -- for subtly criticizing him yesterday.

* Speaking of Limbaugh, here's Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), responding to some of the blowhard's latest nonsense: "Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict. If America ever did 1% of what he wanted us to do, then we'd all need pain killers."

* So long, Washington Post "Book World" section.

* And finally, President Obama gave his new hometown of D.C. some good-natured ribbing this afternoon for practically shutting down every time a winter storm comes through: "We are going to have to apply some toughness to this town." As someone who moved from D.C. to Vermont, I can only agree enthusiastically.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Comments

As someone who moved from Chicago to DC for a few years earlier this decade, I wholeheartedly concur. Washingtoninans would complain about the cold, I used it think it was cute.

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on January 28, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

So, um, now that we've established that Congressional Republicans are a bunch of assholes, can we drop bipartisanship and restore all the bits and pieces that were removed to make them happy? Um, I mean compromise usually means that if one side, having gotten its concessions, still refuses to play ball, then all the concessions get rescinded. Right?

Posted by: FreeProton on January 28, 2009 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) is chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee?

[Vice-Chairman, according to the committee homepage, the correction has been made. Thanks for calling it to my attention. --Mod]

Posted by: nal on January 28, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Dick Armey crash n' burn on Hardball. He said we shouldn't take our politicians seriously, and laughed through most of Joan's comments. When she was finished, he said something like "I'm glad you aren't my wife so I don't have to listen to that...", then called her "mam".

Posted by: tomj on January 28, 2009 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Anybody watch Hardball? Dick Armey just made the absolute most sexist remarks to Joan Walsh I have ever heard a man spout on this or any other news show.

Matthews has to receive a flood of email about this. He did not chastise Armey at all, and he owes Walsh an on air apology that he didn't say something at the time. AND he has to ban Armey from his show until ARMEY apologizes to Walsh (he also insulted her as a partisan hack).

And not one of those "I'm sorry if you were offended by my remarks" apology either, but "I'm terribly sorry I said that. It was inappropriate and I'm going to try to be more polite to everyone who disagrees with me in the future."

Anybody know Matthews' email?

OK, Bob Herbert just called him out on it. Thank you Bob.

Chris said, "OK."

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 28, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

I adjusted pretty well to DC weather during inauguration week (I was there with my blue ticket!). Now, back in my hometown of L.A., I'm already complaining about the cold. It was below 60 degrees this morning!

Posted by: Leigh on January 28, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

All you self-righteous northerners and midwesterners need to get a clue. DC is a snow freakout town because it doesn't snow enough to warrant the spending on snow removal that the city of Chicago or say the state of Vermont do. DC is a huge city and the suburbs even bigger.

Think about it -- you've got VA a Dillon Rule state where ALL state roads (pretty much ALL road btw) are maintained by the VDOT. So the yokels downstate who barely get any snow whatsoever and worship at the altar of small government never provide enough money for proper snow removal. DC is at the mercy of a Congress who refuses to deal with the structural budget deficits levied upon the city hosing the national capital. Finally Maryland it's mostly an issue of not enough snow in the southeastern quadrant of the state so snow removal there the DC suburbs like PG county don't have enough plows to deal with the once in ten year blockbuster storms.

Additionally the character of the typical snow in DC is often mixed with sleet and freezing rain. Not something you can just plow away. It's dangerous to drive in unlike fluffy white powder.

I challenge all of you to have traversed my street and steep driveway. I unfortunately slid down the driveway sideways and ended up a little too close to the telephone pole. Fortunately however once I cleared the driveway I could get the car off the grass but it was hard to get up the hill and off to work this morning!


Posted by: HokieAnnie on January 28, 2009 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Holder assured him that he wouldn't prosecute Bush administration officials who committed acts of torture. No one seems to think Bond is telling the truth.

You don't even have to go to the second link in this story. Just read the comments in the first (Washington Times) article. Most of their readers either don't believe Bond, or don't believe that's what Holder said.

And it would be an absurd promise. There are going to be a lot of people in all departments spilling all kinds of new accusations against Bush before long - both to new political appointees and to the media. I can't wait.

Posted by: Danp on January 28, 2009 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Strange that the post could be suffering, when their offices are always packed with people.

Posted by: Crissa on January 28, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

How dare Pres. Obama deprive those of us in the DC area who come from snowier climes from being able to laugh at the way DC handles snow!

On the other hand, the way they drive around here on bare pavement is enough to give one pause when there is stuff falling out of the sky.

Posted by: peej on January 28, 2009 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Just an FYI: If I was a Democrat, and I passed this bill loaded with Republican concessions that they all voted against, well....

I'd amend it in conference to put back IN everything I'd taken out to please them, and take out anything I'd put in to keep them happy -- excepting what was requested by any Republican Senators that voted for the bill.

Then I'd ram it through a vote in both chambers and let Obama sign it.

Posted by: Morat20 on January 28, 2009 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

DICK ARMEY NEEDS TO BE CHASTISED FOR HIS SEXIST REMARKS ON HARDBALL. CHRIS SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR NOT SAYING SOMETHING IMMEDIATELY! ARMEY SHOULD BE BANNED FROM TV JUST AS IMUS WAS BANNED AND CHASTISED!

Posted by: NURSEHOPE on January 28, 2009 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should write a letter to President Obama. Didn't he used to write letters to Bush?

He knew that Bush would never answer. He better think twice about what he'd write in that letter, because chances are that President Obama will actually read it, think about it, and respond.

Now that would be very awkward for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: having to explain to Iranians why he doesn't want to listen to America.

Let's all hope he does write a letter.

Posted by: bruno on January 28, 2009 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

* Funding for repairs to the Washington Mall were stripped from the stimulus bill to make Republicans happy. They'll vote against the bill anyway, though. -- Steve Benen

Lose a few, win a few. Apparently, the House decided that trying to pacify the Repubs is an exercise in futility, and why not try and pass something useful anyway. So, by an amendment, they restored a few billion to the public transportation part of the bill. Still not enough, but better than it had been.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/01/mass-transit-scores-big-win-in-house-stimulus.php


Posted by: exlibra on January 28, 2009 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is looking for a U.S. "apology." He'll be waiting for a while.

It wouldn't bother me at all if the U.S were to apologize for the C.I.A. sponsored coup in 1953 and for our support of the Shah and his brutal secret police.

Maybe if we'd done that right after the Iranian revolution, Iranian moderates would have been able to keep their country from sliding into religious fanaticism.

Posted by: SteveT on January 28, 2009 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Good for Alan Grayson to say what she did about the wretch Loombowel. The Republicans are a disgrace.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on January 28, 2009 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Alan, "he."

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on January 28, 2009 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama is playing a much more subtle game than we think, and the Republicans walked right into his trap. He put in some "red meat" bait like grass and condoms that really don't add all that many jobs but that he knew they would go after like starving lions.

He could then 'graciously concede' to drop them to give the Retards some bragging rights while preserving the most important stuff intact, which is what has happened.

Think about it, guys. The Republicans got played and are too stupid to realize it. Nicely done, Mr. President!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

Posted by: Curmudgeon on January 28, 2009 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Ahmadinejad is right.

President Obama should apologize on behalf of the USA for the Eisenhower administration's crime of overthrowing the legitimately elected government of Iran and installing the brutal dictatorship of the Shah, and for the subsequent administrations that supported that dictatorship, and for the Reagan and G.H.W. Bush administrations' crime of supporting Saddam Hussein's war of aggression against Iran (including US support for Saddam's use of chemical weapons against civilians).

Actually, Jimmy Carter should have apologized to the Iranian people for the US government's crime of overthrowing the legitimately elected government of Iran and installing and supporting the brutal dictatorship of the Shah.

And rather than allowing the Shah to come to the USA, Carter should have turned him over to Iran for prosecution for his crimes against, and thefts from, the Iranian people.

If Carter had done so, we wouldn't have had all these problems with Iran all these years.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 28, 2009 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

The predictable Republican reaction to Gore's testimony was to simultaneously assert that (1) global warming is not a problem and (2) nuclear power is the only solution to the problem of global warming.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 28, 2009 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Additionally the character of the typical snow in DC is often mixed with sleet and freezing rain. Not something you can just plow away. It's dangerous to drive in unlike fluffy white powder.

Everything else you say makes perfect sense, but where did you get the idea that most of what we deal with during Chicago winters is "fluffy white powder" rather than the sleet, freezing rain, ice, black ice, etc. we constantly battle?

Posted by: shortstop on January 28, 2009 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

This is a pretty good music video. It's patriotism without the jingoism.
http://www.bornagainamerican.org/

Posted by: Dale on January 28, 2009 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Now that every single House ReThuglican voted against the stimulus bill, can POTUS Obama please say "Well, we gave it a shot, but the Republicans in the House just don't want to be bipartisan. We'll see if the Republic Party Senators are any more open-minded. I really hoped Republicans could put the country ahead of partisan politics, but when a Republican Representative finds it necessary to kowtow to Rush Limbaugh, I guess they're not just ready for that yet."

Please?

Posted by: Cal Gal on January 28, 2009 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Grayson has the correct attitude. And if we are going to have 4 more years of kissing Republican butt I am going to have to find someone else to vote for. Yeah, put all that stuff back in and dare them to filibuster.

Posted by: Nat on January 28, 2009 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "President Obama gave his new hometown of D.C. some good-natured ribbing this afternoon for practically shutting down every time a winter storm comes through: 'We are going to have to apply some toughness to this town.' As someone who moved from D.C. to Vermont, I can only agree enthusiastically."

Hey, tough guy. I lived for 18 years in an apartment on the fourth floor of a four-story brick tenement-style apartment building in DC with no air conditioning. The sun beat down on the roof immediately overhead, and when it was 95 degrees outside it was 110 degrees inside. I "cooled off" with window fans blowing 95 degree air.

Winter won't last forever, my friend. July will be here before you know it: 95 degrees, 95 percent humidity, and Code Red air pollution. We'll see who enjoys some "good-natured ribbing" then.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on January 28, 2009 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

I live in the DC area.
Yeah. Lots of sissies who haven't a lick of sense.
(Yo, dummies: 4 wheel drive only works if one of the wheels isn't on ice.)

Granted, I was born in Milwaukee and my Midwest mom raised me right.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on January 28, 2009 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Losing Saturday post will be a pain. UPS and FedEx don't deliver on weekends, and getting household deliveries is painful since they insist on delivering only during working hours - and all they deliver is a post-it saying "you weren't in" three times, please drive 20 miles to our depot. If they aren't going to compete against the post office now, why does anyone think they would pick up the slack. USPS is the only service aimed at supporting people, not businesses.

And what about Netflix. No weekend movies? My neighborhood non-blockbuster store closed, blockbuster sucks, and now no Saturday post which will screw Netflix. This sucks.

Posted by: royalblue_tom on January 28, 2009 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Deep snark

UK national treasure David Attenborough revealed this week that he gets hate mail from creationists for not crediting God for the wonders of nature in his documentaries.
"They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds," he told Radio Times magazine. "I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs."

By the way, wish I could take credit for the third comment on that linked site. VSOP vintage snark!

Posted by: koreyel on January 28, 2009 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama is playing a much more subtle game than we think, and the Republicans walked right into his trap. He put in some "red meat" bait like grass and condoms that really don't add all that many jobs but that he knew they would go after like starving lions.

He could then 'graciously concede' to drop them to give the Retards some bragging rights while preserving the most important stuff intact, which is what has happened.

I totally agree, Carmudgeon. And the typically shortsighted republicans didn't even see it coming. What a bunch of idiots!

Posted by: Leigh on January 28, 2009 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

One caveat on that American Society of Civil Engineers report: structurally deficient and especially "functionally obsolete" don't necessarily mean what they sound like. They often mean that a bridge can't carry the traffic that you would design for if you were starting from scratch today rather than "the bridge is unsafe". That nice old bridge on a country road? Obsolete and deficient because it doesn't have the width, approach curves or structural strength to carry a double-trailer semi rig of 80-105,000 pounds. And in a lot of cases that's probably a good thing rather than a bad one, because you really don't want big trucks taking interesting back routes with heavy cargos.

Posted by: paul on January 28, 2009 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

A Tough Day in Republicanistan.

1. Dick Armey got beat up by a girl.

2. They look like petulant little crybabies regarding the stimulus bill.

3. The stimulus bill looks alarmingly like Bill Clinton's tax increase. The one that...longest economic expansion...you know the words.

4. Phil Gingrey has to kiss Rush's ring!? A United States Congressman has to suck up to a fat racist drug-addict felon shock jock?

Y'all know I would never engage in schaudenfreude but BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!


Posted by: Cazart on January 28, 2009 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

MEMORANDUM

TO: OBAMA, BARACK, POTUS
FROM: OBAMA, SASHA; OBAMA, MALIA, FIRST DAUGHTERS

INRE: "TOUGHNESS," SNOW DAYS

Dad,

1. If DC is so easy to get around in the snow, perhaps you wouldn't mind going out to get our dog.

2. You wouldn't know this, having grown up in Hawaii and all, but snow days are rather popular amongst our peers. Please shut up.

Love,
Malia & Sasha.

Posted by: Sasha&Malia on January 28, 2009 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

Three dot internet snark

Norm Coleman. The wrong side of history. Clown make-up.

Posted by: koreyel on January 28, 2009 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

More than a quarter of the nation's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

"Functionally obsolete" is a catchall phrase that includes all kinds of things -- such as "shoulders narrower than modern design standards" and even "not enough lanes for traffic." Hardly a surprise. I wish they'd concentrate on the serious issues of structural deficiency, which are where the real dangers lie.

Posted by: ColoZ on January 28, 2009 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

More on cellulosic ethanol, soon to be manufactured in non-negligible quantities.

http://www.biofueldaily.com/reports/N_Viro_Fuel_Technology_Receives_Alternative_Energy_Status_From_US_EPA_999.html

Also, a new catalyst that can produce electricity from ethanol at low temperature.

Hopefully, developments like these will get increased funding. Ethanol, even from cellulose, isn't such a great fuel, but all fuels together make a considerable difference to our economy, and the the rate of domestic alternative energy production has been greater than the rate of economic growth over the past few years. If that persists we'll eventually be free of Middle Eastern oil.

Cellulosic butanol and cellulosic or algal diesel will probably make significant contributions by 2010. Especially if some of the stimulus money goes to speed up their development.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 28, 2009 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, put all that stuff back in and dare them to filibuster.

If Obama really believes in what he and the Democratic Congress are doing, then that's the way to play it. And he can say, as others have pointed out, "Well I tried to cooperate with the Republicans, but they voted against the bill even after we changed it the way the wanted it." If the stimulus works as they expect it to, the Democrats will clean up in the 2010 elections. They'll do especially well in the districts where the stimulus money actually gets spent. If they are smart, they'll spend most of it in closely contested districts, less in overwhelmingly Democratic districts, and least in Republican districts. It was the Republicans who announced as policy that they wouldn't spend money in districts whose representatives voted against the programs, and turnabout is fair play.

If the Democrats are wrong, ..., well in that case they won't have so much success. But at least they are doing what they believe in.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 28, 2009 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I hope that your "will be waiting awhile" comment about Iran is merely an observation about U.S. indifference to its own past behavior and not a dismissal of Iranian concerns about U.S. crimes of the past. The 1953 overthrow of an elected government was something that an apology would be merely a start on atonement. If Iran had overthrown the U.S. government and installed a dictator along with an intelligence agency world famous for torture, then people here would be pretty sour I would imagine.

Posted by: shoebeacon on January 28, 2009 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Talk about contradictions in Repug arguments, I saw Issa on Shuster's show (or Hardball, don't remember which now) and he said that the stimulus wasn't enough (after all the crying on C-Span about how much debt we are putting on our children and grandchildren)and that the billions for infrastructure wouldn't even cover the projects that the Army Corps of Engineers have lined out, like the levies in N.O. I almost fell off my chair. When did they start giving a care about N.O.? Do they really think people don't listen to what they say?

Posted by: Always Hopeful on January 28, 2009 at 10:42 PM | PERMALINK

If the stimulus works as they expect it to, the Democrats will clean up in the 2010 elections. They'll do especially well in the districts where the stimulus money actually gets spent. -- MatthewRMarler, @21:10

Actually, that's not even necessary. If the stimulus moves the economy forward as expected *anywhere* and if it's well-enough advertised, Dems could clean y'all's clocks *everywhere*, because once people were assured it worked, they'd be willing to wait their turn a tad longer...

Posted by: exlibra on January 29, 2009 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Re mail delivery, in my area the USPS has brought some of this on itself.

My branch regularly closes earlier than the hours posted and those it is supposed to hold. People with PO boxes can't get to their items, and I can't ship a package or whatever I am at the PO for.

Last time this happened, I just hightailed it and went to FedEx, which is open til midnight!

Yes, I complained to USPS, but they don't care. So I'd say it's a combination of email and BAD SERVICE.

Posted by: clem on January 29, 2009 at 5:19 AM | PERMALINK
All you self-righteous northerners and midwesterners need to get a clue. DC is a snow freakout town because it doesn't snow enough to warrant the spending on snow removal that the city of Chicago or say the state of Vermont do. DC is a huge city and the suburbs even bigger.

You defensive DC residents need to get a clue. Large spending on snow removal doesn't mean snowplows magically get roads cleared before commutes begin. Yet people in the northeast and midwest manage digging out and getting to work even if snow removal hasn't come anywhere them yet.

Also, as a commenter above said, your notion that DC has special, treacherous snow unlike the fluffy, friendly snow in the north is pretty funny.

Posted by: SeanH on January 29, 2009 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

I like Alan Grayson's direct and blunt approach. Glenn Greenwald has video and interviewed Rep. Grayson regarding his recent smackdown of the Fed during House hearings on TARP funds. Although he is well spoken, he's not afraid to hammer people who say and do idiotic things. I would like to see more of his brand of questioning during the many upcoming hearings this year.

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