Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 6, 2009

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

* The earthquake that shook central Italy early this morning has caused extraordinary devastation. At last count, 150 deaths were reported.

* Violence in Pakistan is not limited to tribal areas along the Afghan border -- there were three suicide attacks in the country yesterday, including one that killed 26 people at a Shiite mosque outside the capital.

* Similarly, there were four car-bomb attacks in Baghdad this morning. The deadliest of the four killed at least 10 people at a popular market in Sadr City.

* Was there a plot to assassinate President Obama in Turkey today?

* Women's rights in Afghanistan are (finally) front in center in light of the country's new "rape" law. Over the weekend, Obama told reporters, "I think this law is abhorrent."

* There's a lot of scum and villainy out there: "The Obama administration on Monday announced a major crackdown on companies operating mortgage and foreclosure scams that target cash-strapped consumers on the verge of losing their homes. The stepped-up enforcement effort comes amid an explosion of mortgage fraud cases in which opportunistic scammers woo vulnerable homeowners with promises of assistance that never materializes."

* On a related note, Allen Stanford expects to be indicted in two weeks.

* After betraying party principles on the estate tax, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) will betray party principles again on the Employee Free Choice Act. Her opposition makes EFCA passage extremely unlikely in this Congress.

* Remember, no matter how bad a conservative columnist is, he or she will always get another job.

* It's hard to imagine Boston without the Globe.

* Is Judd Legum the first national blogger to run for public office? Probably.

* A.L. explains racial demagoguery to the National Review's Victor Davis Hanson.

* GOP lawmakers aren't the only ones screwing up the facts on cap and trade.

* And finally, remember the conservative uproar last week about Obama bowing when he met King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia? It turns out, Bush and Cheney bowed, too. Let the rumors about Bush and Cheney being secret Muslims begin.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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

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Comments

More fuel from coal:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/04/microbes-to-convert-coal-to-methane-and.html

Venter has a strong track record. If he says that they can do it, then they probably can.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 6, 2009 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Aint there a difference between bowing your head to get a medal and bowing to greet? This is a pretty weak comparison. I am a die hard BO supporter but I cringed when I saw the bowing video.

It sucked fingers!

Posted by: yESmAN on April 6, 2009 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-WalMart.)

There. Fixed it for ya.

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 6, 2009 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

But analysts say the 137-year-old Globe has been a money-loser in recent years, and the Times, now $1.1 billion in debt, is threatening to shut down Boston's pre-eminent paper unless it gets $20 million in union concessions.

Why is the headline always "executive demand union pay cuts" instead of "union demands executive pay cuts"? Why aren't the Globe unions demanding that the Times guts $20mm out of its executive payroll?

Posted by: Stefan on April 6, 2009 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Let the rumors about Bush and Cheney being secret Muslims begin.

Why in Hades would I ever want to insult a billion Muslims by suggesting that Bush and Cheney are Muslims? Good grief---isn't enough that I have to insult every U.S. citizen by acknowledging that Bush and Cheney are Americans?

Although, they are "Republican Americans", which is somewhat of a minuscule consolation, I suppose....

Posted by: S. Waybright on April 6, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, the Bush/Cheney bowing to receive medals is pretty lame. However, I still love The (former)Prez and The King holding hands...

Posted by: Ken on April 6, 2009 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

"The Obama administration on Monday announced a major crackdown on companies operating mortgage and foreclosure scams that target cash-strapped consumers on the verge of losing their homes."

They should also be cracking down on credit card companies charging 30% interest. There will be no spending needed for an economic recovery until usury laws are reinstated.

Posted by: bdop4 on April 6, 2009 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

We need more anti-crime actions like today's against mortgage and foreclosure scams. It makes us feel good.

Posted by: anonymous on April 6, 2009 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

After 8 years of watching the arrogant, inarticulate, out-of-touch, confused, science-discrediting misleader-in-chief GW Bush endlessly stumbling and bumbling about on the presidential stage--
he being a mere pawn of the PNAC crowd, as we endlessly endured that charade of a presidency ---
I am so thrilled to have the authentic, intelligent, dignified, respected President Barack Obama at the helm.
Most people are commenting on what leadership abilities he revealed in Europe, and what a contrast with Bush's routine embarassments to our nation.
Now the political hack Republicans remain in permanent disarray, with their misguided partisan vendetta mentality that is beyond pathetic. Worst.Republican.Congress.Ever.

Posted by: consider wisely on April 6, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Marler's link doesn't work, but it might be something to do with this,

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16902-bacterium-eats-electricity-farts-biogas.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

When living on the cathode of an electrolytic cell, the organism can take in electrons and use their energy to convert carbon dioxide into methane.

Posted by: alan on April 6, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

* Remember, no matter how bad a conservative columnist is, he or she will always get another job.

and

* It's hard to imagine Boston without the Globe.

No link between those two stories, is there? Not much.

Posted by: ericfree on April 6, 2009 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with yESmAN. Obama was wrong to bow for the Saudi royalty, and Bush and Cheney lowering their heads to receive a medal is not the same thing.

Posted by: TG Chicago on April 6, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, don't we all remember the pictures of Bush and the Saudi king walking together, while HOLDING HANDS?

Obama has handled himself beautifully on this trip. I do, though, wish we had about a thousand more David Axelrods reminding the country that if we had gone after OBL back in 2002, we wouldn't have to do so now.

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on April 6, 2009 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Run, Judd, run!

May many, many more bloggers join you.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on April 6, 2009 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

If you want an example of "racial demogoguery" why not this ?

At a recent council meeting, Conyers flippantly informed a white official from the Teamsters’ Union that the workers who staff the auto show at Cobo “look like you, they don’t look like me.” To Conyers, the issue of race — and the emphasis of separatism over common cause — seems more important than boosting employment in the city she represents.

Cobo is where the auto show has been and won't be much longer. And yes, Conyers is John Conyers' wife. She of the famous confrontation with the 13 year old.

I know, only white guys can be racist.

Posted by: Mike K on April 6, 2009 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama was wrong to bow for the Saudi royalty..."

Whatever!

Posted by: MissMudd on April 6, 2009 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really know how to use the internets, so I forgot to include a cite for that passage I quoted. It's the National Review.

Posted by: Myke K on April 6, 2009 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Italy's experience in their earthquake highlights the need for good building codes. I was in a 6.3 earthquake once, but it was in California, so nobody got killed. But man, those car alarms were annoying. And being literally thrown out of bed with a massive hangover was certainly less than pleasant. Ironically, that was when I was visiting California. When I actually lived in California, I never felt one. But I've been in three while visiting there. Apparently, I cause earthquakes. But you can't pin this one on me.

Posted by: fostert on April 6, 2009 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

To the person faking my name, do you dispute the quote ? I could also post a few You-Tube videos of her highlights.

Pretty dumb, actually.

Posted by: Mike K on April 6, 2009 at 9:09 PM | PERMALINK

Front page NYT:
A Rich Education for Summers (After Harvard)

Mr. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president who is now the chief economic adviser to President Obama, earned nearly $5.2 million in just the last of his two years at one of the world’s largest funds, according to financial records released Friday by the White House. Impressive as that might sound, it is all the more considering that Mr. Summers worked there just one day a week.
Nice work if you can find it. But might that not compromise his position in the government?
“This is what might be called contamination,” said Andrew Sabl, an associate professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Did Summers spend so much time with the hedge fund, or its investors, sovereign wealth funds and so on, that he started to think like them?”
Maybe. Any history of elitism in his past?
Mr. Summers joined the hedge fund world after his tempestuous, five-year term as the president of Harvard came to an unhappy end in February 2006, after a statement he made that women might lack an intrinsic aptitude for math and science.
Still Summers is a brilliant to the second power. Just ask the rich guy investor who hired him after he proved his mettle with math puzzles:
Mr. Summers was asked to solve math puzzles. He passed, and the job was his. In a rare interview, David E. Shaw, who founded the firm in 1988 above a communist book shop in Greenwich Village, put it simply: Mr. Summers is “a brilliant, brilliant guy.”
Sudoku? No problema! Want more proof of his brilliance? New York Times, Friday, November 5, 1999:
'Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,' Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. "This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy."

The decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 provoked dire warnings from a handful of dissenters that the deregulation of Wall Street would someday wreak havoc on the nation's financial system. The original idea behind Glass-Steagall was that separation between bankers and brokers would reduce the potential conflicts of interest that were thought to have contributed to the speculative stock frenzy before the Depression.


Brilliant squared!
The smartest guy in the President's room at Harvard. Which says a whole lot...

Be scared. Be very scared.


Posted by: koreyel on April 6, 2009 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Was there a plot to assassinate President Obama in Turkey today?

Is Steve Benen a gigantic ass that uses questions to make Obama seem heroic without saying anything definite?

These are the questions, people.

Posted by: Alex on April 6, 2009 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

Alex, you are the ass. How does being the target of a possible assassination attempt make one a hero? Not only that, I suspect, Steve downplayed the story because the idea is such a great fear for many people. Read the link. So far, it seems like the plot may have been real.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on April 6, 2009 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

"So far, it seems like the plot may have been real."

It probably was. The greatest enemy of an extremist is a moderate. The greatest ally of an extremist is an extremist on the other side. Opposing extremists need each other to promote their beliefs. It's like the old saying: If there's one lawyer in town, he's poor. But if there are two lawyers in town, they're both rich. The only way to defuse extremism is with moderation. That's why the extremists are so scared. And you can feel the fear among both Christianists and Islamists right now. Peace is their enemy, and they are enemies of peace. People like them can't make money without violence and war. What they really fear is becoming obsolete.

Posted by: fostert on April 6, 2009 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

"Be scared. Be very scared"

Ugh. No thanks, koreyel. I'm fucking tired of being terrorized.

BTW: have you considered starting your own blog? Most certainly there's a market out there for your hysteria. Maybe Mike K can hire you.

Posted by: staplefood on April 6, 2009 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Mike K can hire you.

Myke K is not hiring. I have no money now that I've been taxed out of existence for "social" programs and minorities getting subprime mortgages have made my home worth half what I paid for it.

I can barely afford my Depends.

Thanks, liberal fools. You're taking all of us down with you.

Posted by: Myke K on April 6, 2009 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K: If you want an example of "racial demogoguery" why not this?

Hell, if you really want an example of racial demagoguery, why not this?

If someone wants to feel good about himself, he will publicly vote for the black candidate. That happened in Iowa. Something like that happened with exit polls and pre-election polls in New Hampshire. It isn’t racism on the part of the voter, at least not the usual variety of racism. It is the Democrat variety of racism. Tell the pollster what you want him to think is true about you. You are enthusiastic about a black president regardless of his qualifications. Being the first black president is enough. Just as it is enough to send all those affirmative action kids to Harvard. Only you and I know that most of them are upper class kids or foreign born kids.

Obama appeals to the progressives who want to feel good about themselves and what better way to do that than to vote for a black president? The black “leaders” have made deals with the Clintons and, after all, this is not about progress for the black underclass. It is about bank accounts for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. The unions will sign on to anyone who will keep the money flowing into union coffers.

Posted by: Mike Kennedy www.abriefhistory.org

I'm curious, on the scale of racial demagoguery, which do you think is worse: a City Councilwoman complaining that the models and staff at the International Auto Show tend to be white...

...or the person who wrote the piece above which implies that black "leaders" are necessarily corrupt and that black politicians get elected only on sympathy votes and skin color and not on their credentials???

If you answered: the "person who wrote the piece above" you were right by a mile.

Posted by: trex on April 6, 2009 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Primary Blanche Lincoln in 2010. Let's try to get an actual Democrat in that seat.

Seems like no matter how many elections Democrats win, there's always enough Republicans --- both 'real' Republicans and closet Republicans like Lincoln --- to prevent the adults from getting anything useful done.

Posted by: David Bailey on April 6, 2009 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Impressive job, Trex.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on April 6, 2009 at 11:03 PM | PERMALINK

Bow, schmow. When Bush was photographed all kissy-kissy with Abdullah, these concerns somehow didn't surface among the whacko right wing. Odd.

Posted by: And that was just what they did in public! on April 6, 2009 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Krugman starts to break out in hives
Bank Scams

I was starting to come to the conclusion that the plan would simply fizzle — that even though participating players would get a large put along with their free toaster, it wouldn’t be enough to raise the price they’re willing to pay to a level banks would be willing to sell at, rather than keep assets on the books at far above their true value. But once you take into account the possibility of insider deals, that all changes. As Jeff says, a bank can create an off-balance-sheet entity that buys bad assets for far more than they’re worth, using money borrowed from taxpayers, then defaults — in effect a straight transfer from taxpayers to stockholders.
If there’s a mechanism to police such deals, it isn’t clear. And the sense that the administration is just too close to Wall Street continues to grow.

Posted by: koreyel on April 6, 2009 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

@ staplefood:

Sorry I didn't get my echos in today comrade. Here is my quota. Hope it heals you:

1) Rush has a thing about anal diseases doesn't he? You don't suppose that cigar...
2) Rick Warren is a big fat prick...
3) Sean Hannity is getting fat and ugly. Are they paying him for that?
4) Karl Rove is still a Nazi after all these years.

There you go.
Got my reps in.
Now give me a little gold star and a pat on the head.

Posted by: koreyel on April 6, 2009 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently, I cause earthquakes. But you can't pin this one on me. -- fostert, @21:06

No, no! *This one* was, obviously, Obama's fault. He didn't want to come face to face with Berlusconi (spell?), so he did his best to keep B in Italy. Probably hummed "I feel the earth trembling under my feet", while doing a little Islamic-African dance before brushing his teeth and going to bed.

Posted by: exlibra on April 7, 2009 at 12:41 AM | PERMALINK

get it straight - no lawmaker from Arkansas will ever vote against Wal-Mart - EVER. It wouldn't matter if the proposed legislation were to outlaw the processing of orphans into soylent green, secure a kidney transplant to save the senator's mother's life, clean up a toxic waste site from the grounds of her children's elementary school playground and give her child a puppy, if Bentonville says "No" she will vote "no."

Posted by: Chesire11 on April 7, 2009 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly how many Democrats would we need in the Senate before we could actually fucking enact some Democratic policies that displease conservatives?

Not sixty - not with the Nelsons, Lincoln, Feinstein, etc.

Seventy? Eighty? Seriously, just let me know so I can tell when to give a shit about the biennial Senate races ("Are we close to winning enough to get Democratic shit done? If not, I'm going back to sleep making snarky comments online.").

Posted by: Chris on April 7, 2009 at 1:15 AM | PERMALINK

Australia to build

"ambitious fibre-to-the-home network offering 100 megabits per second, accessible by 90% of Australian homes."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7986918.stm

The record for my connection was 1.3Mbps in the dead of night.

Posted by: alan on April 7, 2009 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, left out the kicker paragraph,

(Prime Minister) Rudd linked the project to his plans to help Australia cope with the global financial downturn, saying it would create 25,000 jobs a year during construction.

Posted by: alan on April 7, 2009 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

alan on April 6, 2009 at 6:40 PM

I retried the link, and was successful. I don't know why you had trouble.

The micro-organism that uses electricity to make methane from CO2 is a different research project, but there are a lot of related organisms (some use the energy in glycerin to make fuel from sewage, some use sunlight to make H2 from H2O), and there has been a lot of genetic engineering and selection.

The report that I cited claimed that microorganisms could make methane and long-chain hydrocarbons directly from coal. This research project is led by J. Craig Venter, now in San Diego.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 7, 2009 at 1:49 AM | PERMALINK

more grist for the debate about whether the Paulson/Bernanke/Geithner bank bailout is likely to succeed:

http://www.businessinsider.com/insolvent-banks-and-imaginary-fire-sales-2009-4

Although a business news site, it does link to the original paper.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 7, 2009 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

After betraying party principles on the estate tax, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) will betray party principles again on the Employee Free Choice Act. Her opposition makes EFCA passage extremely unlikely in this Congress.

Change the identification to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (I-Walmart), for accuracy. I for "idiot."

Posted by: TCinLA on April 7, 2009 at 2:29 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Summers was asked to solve math puzzles. He passed, and the job was his. In a rare interview, David E. Shaw, who founded the firm in 1988 above a communist book shop in Greenwich Village, put it simply: Mr. Summers is “a brilliant, brilliant guy.” - Quoted from NYT by koreyel

Translation: Summers once worked for a guy who once had a shop located near someone who once palled around with terrorists.

When you make observations like this (NYT) you surrender the sense of objectivity. When tempted to quote them to support your view, you should consider shorter comments.

Posted by: Danp on April 7, 2009 at 6:59 AM | PERMALINK

Coal so clean people are actually bathing in it:

http://www.psychiatricevaluationplease.com/two_for_one_with_Bachmann

Cheers!

Posted by: MatthewRQuarreler on April 7, 2009 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Marital rape was also entirely legal in every state of the USA until 1976, when Nebraska enacted the first law against it. We have short memories.

The Afghan law is still abhorrent, of course.

Posted by: rabbit on April 7, 2009 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

I was surprised to not see a post from you about the media finally are finally able to decide whether or not they want media present at the funerals. That's a big deal to me. Also, I hadn't realized that policy of no media had been in place for 18 years. I thought George W started it, but no, It was George H and then continued under Clinton. Strange. I saw the article on Huffington Post, but haven't seen it elsewhere--tho admittedly i didn't look far and wide.

I want to know more. Hope you will post on this topic.

Posted by: nicole on April 7, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

I was surprised to not see a post from you about the media being allowed to show pictures of the caskets of dead soldiers coming home and families finally being able to decide whether or not they want media present at the funerals. That's a big deal to me. Also, I hadn't realized that policy of no media had been in place for 18 years. I thought George W started it, but no, It was George H and then continued under Clinton. Strange. I saw the article on Huffington Post, but haven't seen it elsewhere--tho admittedly i didn't look far and wide.

I want to know more. Hope you will post on this topic.

Posted by: nicole on April 7, 2009 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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