Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 26, 2009

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

* President Obama unveils his budget and posts it online.

* AP: "New-home sales tumbled to a record-low annual pace in January and there's no relief in sight as mounting damage from the collapsed housing market pushes the country deeper into recession."

* Senate approved a bill this afternoon to give D.C. a vote in the House. It passed 61 to 37, and 36 of the Senate's 41 Republicans voted against it.

* GM lost $30.9 billion in 2008.

* Jobless numbers continue to rise.

* What do you know, Roland Burris' situation can look worse.

* Blue Dogs sure can be tiresome.

* Obama and senior administration officials have begun receiving "a daily CIA report" on the global economic crisis, reinforcing the belief that the economy will have a direct impact on national security.

* Daily Kos, the Service Employees International Union, and some of the best bloggers in the business are teaming up to create Accountability Now.

* As of Friday, the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado's oldest newspaper, will be no more.

* The latest evidence on media bias will not make conservatives happy, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.

* Ratings for the president's speech on Tuesday night were pretty impressive.

* Obama staffers are serious about limiting access to lobbyists.

* Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) loves free-market principles, except when he doesn't.

* "False equivalency" stories are the traditional media's most annoying bad habit.

* U.S. News tries to make amends.

* Recessions are "a part of freedom"?

* And Fox has renewed "The Simpsons" for (at least) two more seasons. Next year, it will become the longest running prime-time show in U.S. television history.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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

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Comments

The Tennessee State GOP is inciting wingnut on wingut violence.

Not a smooth move by these guys.

Posted by: johan on February 26, 2009 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Huh! Steve, what did you mean to write about the Simpsons. "Next year, it will become the longest running prime-time show in U.S. television history." They aren't even -- by over twenty five years -- the longest running show in their time slot. (60 MINUTES) Then there's GUNSMOKE and LAW & ORDER.

Did you mean 'longest running animated show in prime time?'

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on February 26, 2009 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

George Will is back for more abuse tomorrow.

Posted by: JJ on February 26, 2009 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Longest-running prime-time comedy program, perhaps.

Posted by: DJ on February 26, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Chris Matthews really gave Darryl Issa the business today when Issa referred to the "Democrat Party".

Way to go, Chris!

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on February 26, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Does anyone else find it interesting/ironic that Rupert Murdock is owner of both the Simpsons and Faux News?

Or is the Beck/Oreilly/Hannity audience even aware of the seditious nature of the Simpsons?

Posted by: DAY on February 26, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

As for the Simpsons, it's been going one season longer than "Law & Order" and next year it'll pass "Gunsmoke" in longevity.

I'll assume "60 Minutes" isn't considered to be prime time in this calculation.

Posted by: Old School on February 26, 2009 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

The article says "longest-running prime time TV series" (although that should be qualified as "US TV series"). Law and Order started one year after The Simpsons, Gunsmoke (20 seasons) will be passed by the 21st season (thus the "will become"), and news shows (like 60 Minutes) aren't usually considered "series".

As for Chambliss' about-face: remember, IOKIYAR.

Posted by: IOKIYAR on February 26, 2009 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

gm loses 30 billion

why don't the oil companies
rescue the auto industry

it seems to me
you can't have one
without the other

Posted by: estebanfolsom on February 26, 2009 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

About DC: I sympathize with their wanting representation if they're subject to taxation, but the Constitution is rather clear on the representation for DC - not in the Congress. They deserved and got to vote for President, but via a Constitutional Amendment. There should be a better way - a friend of mine suggested, reward residents (not to count legislators) with freedom from paying Federal taxes. BTW they already don't have to pay state taxes (nor do those in some states) but maybe city taxes are high.

BTW Drudge red-lettering that Obama wants to re-institute the assault weapon ban, this has to be talked about since it will be a political briar patch.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on February 26, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the issue over longest running TV show in primetime, I declare a flame war!

Flame on, bitches!!

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on February 26, 2009 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

"What do you know, Roland Burris' situation can look worse."

Illinois is the Cambodia of American politics. No matter how bad it seems, the reality is always worse. If Hun Sen ran the state, it would probably be less corrupt. Let's just give Silvio Berlusconi an offer he can't refuse and make him governor of Illinois. He'd be so shocked, he might actually clean things up.

Posted by: fostert on February 26, 2009 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

Thank CeilingCat for the Simpsons. My only link to sanity in the Fox Empire.

Posted by: Roger on February 26, 2009 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Illinois is the Cambodia of American politics. No matter how bad it seems, the reality is always worse... Let's just give Silvio Berlusconi an offer he can't refuse and make him governor of Illinois.

I got nothin'.

Posted by: shortstop on February 26, 2009 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

NO, NO, NO to bailing out GM... pounding sand down a rathole, as the latest numbers say.

Remember GM bitching in the past about health care costs it had that Toyota didn't, at least in its Japanese plants? So, why aren't the formerly Big Three screaming for national healthcare?

Just a thought.

====

Good news that Obama wants an income gap on Big Ag subsidies.

===

Neil B. gets the DC issue exactly right. Constitution says Representatives have to come from states and DC ain't one. Note to CM from yesterday's thought on this thread... arguably, any eligible voter who lives in one of the 50 states could be considered as having legal standing.

Somebody WILL sue, even if this is an unprincipled ass-kissing compromise between Orrin Hatch and some Dems.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 26, 2009 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 26, 2009 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

The budget is in that top secret PDF code format! I can't search it! This is a conspiracy!!!

Posted by: Bush Lover on February 26, 2009 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

I know we are all supposed to decry the death of newspapers and journalism in general. But as a long time resident of the Denver area I say good riddance to The Rocky Mountain News. From their calls to Exterminate the Cheyenne in 1865 to their reliably right wing editorial slant they have been a source of misinformation and in general, bullshit for as long as I can remember. Unfit for the bottom of a birdcage.

Posted by: SW on February 26, 2009 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

So here's something to add:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=6965611&page=1

Apparently, North Korea wants to test a missile, and we're talking about shooting it down. My memory is far from perfect, but I don't think anything like this has ever happened. It's a dangerous gamble, if we miss, we'll look like idiots. And given the nature of our anti-ballistic missile program, we probably will miss. I'm not sure what that would mean for the program, though. Either we'll cancel it or triple its budget. Given that we like to fund things that don't work, I'm guessing we'll triple the budget if we miss, or cancel the project if we hit it.

Posted by: fostert on February 26, 2009 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

BlueDog Taylor sure loves him some DoD pork, though, eh?

Prolly wants some USDA pork for fat cat corporate ag friends, too.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 26, 2009 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

MHR, by percentage of budget or other measures, "Saint" Ronnie pushed for probably the biggest tax increase in history with his "budget readjustment act."

Oh, the other two Weird Sisters, Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh called. They want their share of the single tooth, rather, brain cell.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 26, 2009 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Quote [i]And Fox has renewed "The Simpsons" for (at least) two more seasons. Next year, it will become the longest running prime-time show in U.S. television history.[/i]

Never watched the show. Never understood why anyone else did either? Sad commentary on the state of Americans IMO.

Posted by: Llewellyn on February 26, 2009 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK
Constitution says Representatives have to come from states and DC ain't one.

The second point is true, so far as it goes, the District of Columbia is not a State—if it were, it would be guaranteed two Senators and Representatives based on population; however, it is less clear that it is correct Constitutionally that the cession of exclusive legislative authority by states called for in Article I to create a capital district should be viewed as taking the district outside of those states for purposes of both Congressional apportionment and representation, and both the early history of the district and the way other federal land acquisitions are treated suggests that was not the intent. Viewed that way, it would be certainly within the power of Congress to pre-empt state regulations as to the election of Representatives (Art. I, Sect. 4) to declare that a certain number (including "1") of the seats owed to the state whose cession of legislative authority to create the district
are to be chosen by the district, in elections under rules prescribed by Congress. Note that Congress could not do this with the Senate, since Congress Art. I, Sec. 4 power to make or alter electoral regulations does not extend to the time, place, and manner of choosing Senators, only Representatives.

OTOH, accepting, arguendo, that, contrary to the above, D.C. is outside of any state for representation purposes, and cannot, so long as it remains in such a condition, be assigned seats in the House, it is debatable whether an act of Congress which purports to assign seats to any such extra-state territory fails, or whether it must be viewed as an application of Congress's only power to assign Congressional representation to a territory not currently a state, specifically, its power to admit states to the Union, combined with an unconstitutional effort to restrict that new state's right to proportional representation in the House and equal represntation in the Senate. (Note that in either of those cases, the legislation would be unconstitutional, but the remedy would be very different.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 26, 2009 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

"If Hun Sen ran the state"

By the way, Hun Sen is probably the world's most colorful leader. Check it out. He makes Kim Jong Il look sane. Strangely enough though, he does have some pretty good policies for Cambodia. But the corruption is way out of hand. Border guards don't get paid, they have to pay Hun Sen to have the job. But they make so much money on visa scams that it's worth what Hun Sen charges to let them do it. This is a country where $3 a day is a good wage, and the border guards pull in $5 on every Western tourist that comes across the border. The scam is simple: they always say you need a business visa that costs $5 more than the tourist visa, so you pay it. But when you look at your passport, you have a tourist visa. The border guard pockets the extra $5. He gives two dollars to Hun Sen and another one to the police, but he keeps the rest. It's sweet job if you can get it. Those guys have better houses than mine and drive nice cars. Welcome to Cambodia. My motorbike driver didn't even have a license plate because it was easier to just bribe the cops when he got pulled over. I had to pay the bribes, of course. But hey, Cambodia is cheap, just factor in a dollar a day in bribes when you're calculating your expenses. But that's still cheaper than Illinois.

Posted by: fostert on February 26, 2009 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK
arguably, any eligible voter who lives in one of the 50 states could be considered as having legal standing.

Not really. If "any eligible voter" suffers the same harm, its not a particularized harm, and there is no standing. OTOH, I would say that any state government would probably have standing to challenge the law as an alleged invalid assignment of representation (and, on the other side, residents of the District itself might have grounds to raise the "flawed admission" line of challenge, though, on the "half a loaf is better than none" principle, you'd expect that not to happen except perhaps as an intervenor in a case brought on an invalid assignment theory by a state or another outside party.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 26, 2009 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and when a Cambodian cop wants a bribe, he'll bum a cigarette, too. They like Marlboros. Even if you don't smoke, it's good to have a pack anyway. I always carry two packs. I smoke the local brands, but I carry Marlboros for the police. But the cops are cool there. If you give them enough cigarettes, they'll smoke pot with you. It's technically illegal, but that doesn't a damn thing there.

Posted by: fostert on February 26, 2009 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

cheaper PV cells:

http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/005996.html

the claim is that the company achieved actual production costs of $0.98 per watt of generating capacity in Q4 of 2008. It's a combination of solar concentration and PV cell.

Good news if production can be upscaled.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 26, 2009 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

why don't the oil companies
rescue the auto industry

Interestingly enough, both GM and Honda are investing in cellulosic ethanol. New engine designs promise to get as many mpg from ethanol as from diesel fuel. We should know in late summer as one test is being conducted on a stock GMC Sierra. stay tuned.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 26, 2009 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Taxby Shameless - a pathetic individual. Recall he beat a Vietnam veteran, triple amputee by calling him a traitor and a coward, and comparing him to Osama bin laden. This from a man who served who served in how many wars? Yep. That would be ZERO. So Shameless once again shows he is a low life, lying, piece of Republican scum. No surprise.

Posted by: GA boy on February 26, 2009 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

* Recessions are "a part of freedom"?

And Al Queda hates us for it. Or something.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on February 26, 2009 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

DC Voting Rights

The District has more population than Wyoming, which has a representative and two Senators. Why should this many US citizens be disenfranchised in the US Congress?

The historical reason, well documented, was that the DC population was predominantly black.

Posted by: Zandru on February 26, 2009 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

San Francisco Chronicle soon to follow. They announced yesterday they're going to try cost cutting, then seek a buyer, and then fold.

No one wants to bye newsprint anymore.

Here's what I want to know. They say advertising plus subscriptions and retail sales cover half their costs.

Before they fold, why don't they double their subscription prices? Seems like those of us Luddites left who want to read a paper at breakfast just might be willing to pay that amount.

The Chron's "esteemed" only and conservative op-ed columnist, Deborah Saunders, (so much for a "liberal" newspaper) says the end of newspapers will be the end of reporting. She implies all news on the internets comes ultimately from paper reporters, but as more and more of the Chron's own national and internation "reporting" comes from wire services and syndication, I think she only has a point re local news.

Is there a way to get local news if all our daily newspapers fold?

And, my husband asks, will we have to get another laptop to both be able to read the news at breakfast?

Reading online is much less satisfying, and less efficient, than scanning a newspaper, but if it's all we've got, I guess we'll adjust. What choice do we have?

Newspaper, meet buggy whip.

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 26, 2009 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Looking at the map, they should make people who live in DC "residents" of Maryland, with DC as an "autonomous" "district" under control of the federal government.

There are more ways to kill a cat than to stuff it with butter.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on February 26, 2009 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

The surge in Iraq only began to work when Petraeus figured out if he paid the tribal leaders hundreds of thousands of dollars a month they would stop shooting Americans.

On this side of the Atlantic, Republicans object to spending on public projects (energy, housing, health, etc.) because they want to give more tax breaks to the princes of Wall Street.

So when times get tough the Republican policy is to give the rich and powerful more money. Myopic? Perhaps, but consistent.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on February 26, 2009 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

I win

Longest running tv show: Meet the Press.

Posted by: koreyel on February 26, 2009 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK
Is there a way to get local news if all our daily newspapers fold?

... will we have to get another laptop ...?

Reading online is much less satisfying, and less efficient, than scanning a newspaper, but if it's all we've got, I guess we'll adjust. What choice do we have?

...
Posted by: Cal Gal on February 26, 2009

You can't read it online if the 'paper' is out of business and isn't posting articles.

Are you going to read teevee news online? You'll be relegated to reading national/international outfits like bbc or 'the times' or some others. Forget local news unless you've got a local radio station, probably NPR.

I like the Simpsons, now and then. It runs in prime time and it's there every week (sometimes every day), whereas 59 Minutes isn't in prime time and isn't very informative. Gunsmoke isn't on these days. I wonder why. Hmmm, must be because the buggy whip companies went bankrupt and they can't do the show without 'em.

Posted by: MarkH on February 26, 2009 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

fostert,

"Apparently, North Korea wants to test a missile, and we're talking about shooting it down. My memory is far from perfect, but I don't think anything like this has ever happened. It's a dangerous gamble, if we miss, we'll look like idiots. And given the nature of our anti-ballistic missile program, we probably will miss."

Simply amazing, eh ?

Every test the military has attempted over the last several decades (that was not rigged) has FAILED, so I have no idea why they would be blowing smoke and expecting people to believe them.

Some military hack that was on the evening news stated that in addition to the anti-missile missiles (which have NEVER worked), they also have cruise missiles. Now a cruise missile is extremely accurate, but because it is powered by a jet engine, it is also ridiculously slow, comparatively. Any missile test the North Koreans would launch would be over before a cruise missile ever arrived.


"I'm not sure what that would mean for the program, though. Either we'll cancel it or triple its budget."

It's a failed RightWing Zombie program that can never die.

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 27, 2009 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe in the future I'll get my news by reading online about what people watched on TV. Oh wait - I already do.

Posted by: Rachel Q on February 27, 2009 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Gunsmoke isn't on these days.

TV Land. Every day.

And Fox has renewed "The Simpsons" for (at least) two more seasons. Next year, it will become the longest running prime-time show in U.S. television history.

Pretty good for a show that ran out of ideas fifteen years ago.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on February 27, 2009 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

Gunsmoke: 635 episodes.

The Simpsons: 430.

Law & Order: 425.

I guess they worked harder in television back then.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on February 27, 2009 at 1:45 AM | PERMALINK
You'll be relegated to reading national/international outfits like bbc or 'the times' or some others. Forget local news unless you've got a local radio station, probably NPR.

Eh, plenty of local and national weekly newspapers and newsmagazines will probably survive the demise of the dailies. Dead trees simply aren't a viable medium for immediate reporting, but still are viable for depth and context (online text media can compete for that, too, but the advantages are less. Audio/video is unbeatable for sheer visceral impact and will probably (in both broadcast and online forms) continue compete with online-only text-centric media for the quick coverage that daily print can't hack it for anymore, video being the shallower but more emotionally intense form, online text being, at its best, the deeper, more serious form of quick news.

But neither dead tree news in general, nor even local dead tree news, is going to die as the print dailies die, I expect. And certainly TV won't be the only news option.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 27, 2009 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

That DC vote was great. It really separated into good versus bad senators. All dems for except Baucus and Byrd. All repubs voted against except for Collins, Hatch, Lugar, Snowe, Spector, Voinovich. Lugar was a pleasant surprise and really showed the depth of his character (still wish he was SecState though). Murkowski did her usual act where she makes moderate signals but never votes that way. Baucus was sketchy as usual (just wait for health care) and Byrd's just a cranky old man who doesnt like change.

It's important to praise the republicans that do the right thing and knock the democrats that don't.

Posted by: Beauregard on February 27, 2009 at 5:07 AM | PERMALINK

Before they fold, why don't they double their subscription prices?

Because subscription prices, whether doubled, tripled or increased a hundredfold, don't support their operations. Ad revenue does. And it ain't happening for them.

Reading online is much less satisfying, and less efficient, than scanning a newspaper

Hmmm, I find it both more satisfying and more efficient than reading a printed newspaper. The temptation with a print version to read more than you need/want to (since most of the very best newspaper is still either crap or not of interest) leads to my wasting time. Online, I can scan many more papers, get a wider variety of stuff than one paper can provide, and can get to the important stuff more quickly.

I love books and some magazines and can't imagine replacing the experience of holding them in my hands and reading them. But I don't miss print newspapers in the least.

Posted by: shortstop on February 27, 2009 at 6:40 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Screamin' Demon:

I guess they worked harder in television back then.

You betcha.

Go to hulu.com and watch the first 15 episodes of the first season of the Dick Van Dyke Show. It is stellar tv work. But also: 31 episodes averaging 25:30 seconds each. Less commercials by far. Longer season too. Unbelievable fine writing. They worked harder indeed...


Posted by: koreyel on February 27, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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