Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 24, 2009

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

* At least 60 people were killed in two more suicide-bomb attacks in Baghdad today. In just 24 hours, "five bombings have killed at least 140 people and wounded 240."

* The latest from Pakistan: "Some Taliban pulled back from a key district not far from the capital on Friday, but remained in control of the area, as the military defended its response, saying it was 'determined to root out the menace of terrorism.'"

* President Obama gave a speech on higher ed today, and talked a bit about curbing the spiraling costs of college tuition.

* The "swine flu" is hitting Mexico in a very big way.

* Ford lost $1.4 billion in the first quarter. That, oddly enough, was considered good news.

* John McCain thinks DHS fired the official who prepared the report on potentially violent right-ring radicals. As is often the case, McCain is apparently confused.

* You don't say: "For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.... But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted."

* Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said any effort to hold Bush administration officials accountable for criminal behavior will lead Republicans to "go to war" and launch a "scorched-earth policy."

* Steve Schmidt, the chief strategist from the McCain/Palin campaign, believes Barack Obama's campaign in 2008 was "the unfinished Bobby Kennedy campaign" from 1968.

* Schmidt also believes the Republican Party is a "shrinking entity."

* On a related note, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) seems confused (again) about what carbon dioxide is.

* Harry Reid isn't ready to impeach Jay Bybee.

* Wouldn't it be great to be able to just look at a detainee and know instantly whether he or she is a national security threat?

* Ambushing Bill O'Reilly's ambusher.

* Washington state is ending felon disenfranchisement. Good.

* I suspected conservative Republicans to freak out over the decision to make Plan B available without a prescription. I just didn't expect the reaction to be this nauseating.

* And Bill Maher ponders whether the Republican Party is "divorced from reality." Take a guess how he answers the question.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

Harry Reid isn't ready to impeach Jay Bybee.

Reid was one of Bybee's sponsors. If he doesn't realize he was wrong, he needs to go.

Posted by: Danp on April 24, 2009 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Those poor Republicans. They are so sincere, so well-meaning, so devoted to the well-being of the country, so determined to do the right thing for everyone. But as Steve Benen tells us every day, in every post, those nice Republicans are just "confused".

I'm glad that Steve Benen is not one of those "shrill liberals" who always think the Republicans are deliberate liars and frauds out to bamboozle and rip off the American people to enrich their utra-rich white-collar crook cronies and financial backers.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 24, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

---the Republican Party is "divorced from reality."---

Were they ever in a meaningful relationship to start with? Certainly not in the last 30 years. Reality probably filed for and got an annulment, on the grounds that the relationship had never been consumated. (Does this mean the GOP needs to return the wedding presents?)

Posted by: Tim H on April 24, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ambushing Bill O'Reilly's ambusher.

I've been waiting for someone to take this up.

Posted by: AK Liberal on April 24, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

It's not surprising that industry would avoid accepting climate science. It's a natural weakness of the business model (as a technical insight, not an expression of irritable hatred of owners by workers yadda) to be against objectivity given the primary goal of making profits. Science and "reality-based" thinking will oppose business/religion based need to believe. That accounts for a lot of the tension between today's "Left" (including the scientific establishment) and Right.

BTW in advance of some AGW skeptics here: you need to appreciate there are multiple stimuli affecting climate, and there's "noise" as well. Adding CO2 is like cutting interest rates: the result isn't an absolute correlation because of all that affects the economy (you'd think conservatives would get this analogy.) As for CO2, we have the theoretical basis for a stimulating affect, even if the correlations are still debatable as to degree and projection etc.

Getting back to our anti-scientific whipping boy Joe "find some shade" Barton", at http://www.grist.org/article/2009-04-20-house-republicans-bring/ I found this incredibly wacky material which includes the "shade" remarks as well as some outlandish material that's even worse:

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) chimed in with his own analysis: “Adapting is a common natural way for people to adapt to their environment ... I believe that the earth’s climate is changing, but I think it’s changing for natural variation reasons,” he said. “And I think mankind has been adopting, or adapting to climate as long as man has walked the earth. When it rains, we find shelter. When it’s hot, we get shade. When it’s cold, we find a warm place to stay.”

A few weeks earlier, at a hearing on renewable power, Barton raised the question of whether expanding wind power might actually cause the planet to heat up:

Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen, Mr. Chairman, but that is definitely something on the massive scale. I mean, it does make some sense. You stop something, you can’t transfer that heat, and the heat goes up. It’s just something to think about.

I thought it had to be parody, but it's a real quote. As people say, they're putting The Onion out of business. But all humor aside, it is dangerous for such people to have positions of power in the government.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on April 24, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Reid has also resisted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's request to create an independent commission to investigate the interrogation tactics. In a recent statement, Reid said, "I think it would [sic] very unwise from my perspective to start having commissions, boards, tribunals until we find out what the facts are.”

Um, "commissions, boards [and] tribunals" are how we find out what the facts are, dumbass.

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 24, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up? - Barton

I'm sure someone will come along and tell us that Barton was just lying. Of course that would leave the question of why he didn't come up with something more intelligent to say.

Posted by: Danp on April 24, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

So much for the terrorists in Iraq having a losing streak. *sigh*

Posted by: Crissa on April 24, 2009 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

and what they are doing now is a nourishing earth policy? They call Obama a socialist, a fascist and whine and wail as though he personally has stripped them from their homes and cast them into the streets...all for doing nothing terribly progressive and veering way too much to the center. If they are going to scream anyway, why not give them something to scream about.

Posted by: RuthAlice on April 24, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

"For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.... "

rep blackburn has condemned this, right?

Posted by: karen marie on April 24, 2009 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

uhm, yeah, Peter King (R-Obstructionist), the GOP has already enacted scorched-earth policy. That IS their only policy since loosing the election -- take everybody else down with them.

Posted by: JWK on April 24, 2009 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

"the unfinished Bobby Kennedy campaign"

Well, yeah. I was saying so at the time. But this explains why Schmidt ran McCain's campaign like he was Richard Goddamn Nixon.

Posted by: Grumpy on April 24, 2009 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

"On a related note, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) seems confused (again) about what carbon dioxide is."
psst, michelle? it's what you generate way too much of.

Posted by: mellowjohn on April 24, 2009 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

You liberal scientist wanna-bees have it too easy around here because of well-meaning but sophomoric "trolls" (forgive me, comrades ; -) who often argue the AGW issue as if a simple yes-no dichotomy. But that's a straw man. More to the point, is that CO2 can't do as much as IPCC one-worlders say it will. A gifted and courageous amateur, Lord Moncton, has deeply challenged the liberal science establishment with his questions and critiques. (You won't see him interviewed on "Charlie Rose" and you liberals will hate his not being a commoner...but check out http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2007/03/al_gore_lord_mo.html.) Moncton points out for example, that although the 1996 Arrhenius paper predicted a 9° F average rise from CO2 doubling, his 1906 paper predicted only a 3° F doubling. Al Gore will never admit that, will any of you?

Posted by: Al on April 24, 2009 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Anything to add?

Yeah, you forgot to mention that on the day David Duke got arrested for denying the Jewish genocide, that Obama broke his campaign promise and refused to acknowledge that the Armenian genocide was in fact a genocide.

Posted by: Disputo on April 24, 2009 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Fascinating. I was actually on the Global Climate Coalition science committee from 1996-99, knew Bernstein well, and I never saw that memo.

What I saw was a parade of pseudo-scientists (Pat Michaels), well meaning quacks (Sally Baliunas), and actual scientists with real data objections that were later explained and accepted by (NASA satellite guys).

Good times . . . good times.

Steve, lemme know in comments if you're interested in more backstory than I'm willing to type out here.

Posted by: Media Maimonides on April 24, 2009 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone please tell me when Harry Reid is going to be replaced with a Democrat?

Posted by: Thorin-1 on April 24, 2009 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Danp quoted Barton: "Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up?"

Danp wrote: "I'm sure someone will come along and tell us that Barton was just lying."

Well, he isn't "lying" because he is framing his absurd suggestion that wind turbines might "slow the winds down" and thus "cause the temperature to go up" as a "what if" conjecture.

Since he is not making a statement of (alleged) fact, it isn't a "lie". He isn't "lying", he's bullshitting.

It's still deliberate malicious dishonesty, not "confusion".

Danp wrote: "Of course that would leave the question of why he didn't come up with something more intelligent to say."

There are plenty of liars who tell stupid lies, and plenty of bullshitters who peddle stupid bullshit.

Con men often say stupid things to people they are trying to con. That doesn't mean that the con men are stupid. It just means they know their marks are stupid.

And Barton probably knows his base pretty well.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 24, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

"I suspected conservative Republicans to freak out over the decision to make Plan B available without a prescription"

Expected.

Posted by: Ross Best on April 24, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

Harry Reid isn't ready to impeach Jay Bybee.

Fortunately, it isn't up to Harry Reid.

Impeachment proceedings are always initiated in the House of Representatives, and if they are approved by the House, the Senate has no choice but to conduct the trial.

As Senate Majority leader, Harry Reid is obviously in a position to influence Democrats and provide cover to Republicans in acquiting Bybee once it reaches the trial phase. However, the impeachment can proceed to that point whether he likes it or not.

Posted by: tanstaafl on April 24, 2009 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

harry reid isn't ready to impeach jay bybee

harry reid isn't ready to do squat, except maybe accept some boxing ringside tickets under the table.

off-topic, link whore alert: pls. help my friend gil christner by getting his internet ad for jimmy dean sausages to #1 on their website, simply by clicking the link and watching it!

plus, he's very funny: he's mr. fog...

thx.

Posted by: skippy on April 24, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist, in your zeal to scold Benen for being patronizing to the Republicans in assuming they are all merely confused, I think you go way too far the other way in assuming they are all cold, calculating tacticians. Almost surely the truth lies somewhere in between.

Barton, Bachmann, Inhoefe, Alberto Gonzales, even W, and Dan Quayle before them - there simply is very little evidence that these are intellectually astute people. Some are outright dumb, others just incurious or intellectually lazy, but none have ever seemed particularly sharp.

Rove, Cheney, Wolfie, and Atwater before them on the other hand are quite smart, and are your cold, calculating tacticians. But a lot of the rest are rubes, pawns, programmable footsoldiers and outright puppets who repeat scipted points with no idea that what they are saying is demonstrably lunacy.

My best guess is there are a relatively few of the evil plotters and a whole lot of front people who are honestly better suited for used car sales than governance of a large, complex country.

Posted by: zeitgeist on April 24, 2009 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Unrelated News Items?

Friday 4/24/2009

** http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/25/world/americas/25mexico.html?_r=1&hp

MEXICO CITY ­ Mexican officials, scrambling to control a swine flu outbreak that has killed as many as 60 people and infected possibly hundreds more in recent weeks, closed museums and shuttered schools from kindergarten to university for millions of young people in and around the capital on Friday, and urged people with flu symptoms to stay home from work. The new strain contains gene sequences from North American and Eurasian swine flus, North American bird flu and North American human flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A similar virus has been found in the American Southwest, where officials have reported eight nonfatal cases.

Most of Mexico’s dead were young, healthy adults, and none were over 60 or under 3 years old, the World Health Organization said. That alarms health officials because seasonal flus cause most of their deaths among infants and bedridden old people, but pandemic flus ­ like the 1918 Spanish flu, and the 1957 and 1968 pandemics ­ often strike young, healthy people the hardest.

** Further information from the Medicine Hat News (Canada) at http://www.medicinehatnews.com/content/view/93837/66/ excerpt:

Genetic sequencing done to date reveals a seemingly unique influenza A virus of the H1N1 subtype made up of a distinctive mix of swine, bird and human flu virus genes. "There have been no reports of this virus in pigs," said Dr. Marie Gramer, a swine flu expert with the University of Minnesota's college of veterinary medicine. "It doesn't seem to be very similar to anything that is currently circulating, from what I have," said Gramer, who has an extensive library of swine flu virus isolates. (emphasis is obviously mine -- Bill)

** Now some news from Virginia, earlier this week: http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=89293

Fort Detrick disease samples may be missing

Originally published April 22, 2009

Army criminal investigators are looking into the possibility that disease samples are missing from biolabs at Fort Detrick.

As first reported in today's edition of The Frederick News-Post by columnist Katherine Heerbrandt, the investigators are from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division unit at Fort Meade.

Chad Jones, spokesman for Fort Meade, said CID is investigating the possibility of missing virus samples from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. He said the only other detail he could provide is that the investigation is ongoing. Fort Detrick does not have its own CID office, Jones said, which is why Fort Meade's CID was brought in. Jones said he could not comment on when the investigation started.

CID is responsible for investigating crimes where the Army is, or may be, a party of interest, according to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command website. USAMRIID is the Army's top biodefense lab, where researchers study pathogens including Ebola, anthrax and plague.

In February, USAMRIID halted all its research into these and other diseases, known as "select agents" following the discovery of virus samples that weren't listed in its inventory. The institute's commander, Col. John Skvorak, ordered research halted while workers conducted a complete inventory of the institute's select agents. That inventory is nearly completed, though the exact end date isn't known yet, said Caree Vander Linden, USAMRIID spokeswoman. Vander Linden said she didn't know about the CID investigation and referred questions to the CID's head public affairs office.

There is no indication whether the CID investigation is connected to USAMRIID's re-inventorying of its select agent stocks.

** Oh yes ... you have heard of Ft. Detrick ... see:

Complete Bruce Ivins coverage ­ Bruce Ivins, a Fort Detrick scientist and leading anthrax researcher, was named the sole suspect in the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people and 17 others.
fredericknewspost.com/ivins

*****

Anybody got Glenn Beck's email address? He'd LOVE this. Those FEMA Camps are really quarantine centers, where we'll isolate the Detrick Flu victims. Or maybe, where the wealthy will be housed while the poor die off. "Masque of the Red Death, 2009" - or - get your "I survived the Detrick Flu!" tee shirts!!

Posted by: Will Flood on April 24, 2009 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

zeitgeist wrote: "I think you go way too far the other way in assuming they are all cold, calculating tacticians."

When I say that "the Republicans" are deliberate, calculating liars, I don't mean that each and every one of them is a Rove-like evil mastermind.

I realize that some of them are just reciting the scripted talking points concocted and spoon-fed to them by the cold, calculating, Rove-like tacticians. Some of them, like Inhofe, have paid advisors who do the research into things like global warming denialism, and write their material for them. And some are probably of low intelligence.

But that doesn't mean they are "confused" or "crazy" or "divorced from reality". It means they are maliciously dishonest, lying thugs. The fact that they are regurgitating lies concocted by someone else is no excuse.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 24, 2009 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

If you didn't see already, this link http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/24/AR2009042401387.html reports that the Pentagon will release prisoner abuse probe photos. It should be revealing and interesting. BTW, where can we see the photos from a few years ago of prisoner abuse in Iraq, that Pelosi said were so shocking etc?

Posted by: Neil B ♣ on April 24, 2009 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Guess what religion Reid and Bybee have in common?

Posted by: Agent Smith on April 24, 2009 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

But that doesn't mean they are "confused" or "crazy" or "divorced from reality". It means they are maliciously dishonest, lying thugs. - SecularAnimist

When they say something that clearly is not true, it suggests either mendacity or stupidity. If Steve wants to "give them the benefit of the doubt" by conceding stupidity, I have no problem with it. I find it amusing, even when it isn't he more likely choice. I also think most of the readers here get it and draw the conclusion that "stupid" is generous.

You disagree. I so get that. You used to have a lot of things to say, but now you are so singularly focused on this issue, it gets tiresome.

But the other issue is that the Republicans, because they are a top down organization, draw candidates who are willing to sell the Republican platform like it's Avon cosmetics. In the process, they tend to attract good looking, yet oh so stupid people. You will never convince me that people like Palin, McCain, Bachman, Steve King, Cantor, Barton, Jean Schmidt, Steele, and Bush are merely mendacious. The willingness to lie is a given. The quality of the arguments is mind-numbing, whether they believe them or not.

Posted by: Danp on April 24, 2009 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

I was disappointed in Obama today for not using the word "genocide" to describe what happened to the Armenians during WWI (today is Armenian Genocide Memorial Day). No U.S. president should let what he or she can say be dictated by another country. And to those who say, "yeah, but we don't want to jeopardize our relations with Turkey," does that mean that if Germany denied the Holocaust, it would be appropriate for the U.S. government to follow suit?

Posted by: Lee on April 24, 2009 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Lawrence Wilkerson just called dik cheney CHICKEN on the Rachel Maddow Show tonight.
He did it eight ways to Sunday from calling him out on draft defermets to hiding in undisclosed locations. It was gold.

Posted by: myshadow on April 24, 2009 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

If you haven't seen Paul Krugman's latest column, it's worth reading. On the topic of torture he says (in part):

"What about the argument that investigating the Bush administration’s abuses will impede efforts to deal with the crises of today?

"...would investigating the crimes of the Bush era really divert time and energy needed elsewhere? Let’s be concrete: whose time and energy are we talking about?

"Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, wouldn’t be called away from his efforts to rescue the economy. Peter Orszag, the budget director, wouldn’t be called away from his efforts to reform health care. Steven Chu, the energy secretary, wouldn’t be called away from his efforts to limit climate change. Even the president needn’t, and indeed shouldn’t, be involved. All he would have to do is let the Justice Department do its job — which he’s supposed to do in any case — and not get in the way of any Congressional investigations."

Posted by: MichMan on April 24, 2009 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

At Cheney's request, release all documentation even remotely dealing with torture, "detainee" abuse, information leaks, undercover ops and see how that is received. Give Cheney what he wants, and more.

Posted by: st john on April 24, 2009 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a very depressing article about the growing population at the ICE and private immigration detention centers around the country.

Posted by: MissMudd on April 24, 2009 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Here is Lawrence Wilkerson's scathing derision of dik cheney on Rachel Maddow's Show.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtxoZw4K6kE

Posted by: myshadow on April 25, 2009 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

myshadow,

I saw that when it aired. It was a delight to see/hear after a long hard week. Putting my feet up and having this air on Rachel's show was quite welcome.

I hope the youtube segment gets lots of hits over the weekend by those who missed it on air.

Cheney is at heart a coward, and needed to be called out as such. I only hope that more and more people understand this as a given, as he tries to manipulate public opinion re: his part in the orders to commit torture.

Posted by: jcricket on April 25, 2009 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Harry Reid isn't ready to impeach Jay Bybee.

Ried displays all the political fortitude of a moistened kleenex? Well there's a shocker.

Posted by: jonas on April 25, 2009 at 2:57 AM | PERMALINK

Reid and Lieberman are brothers.

Posted by: Schtick on April 25, 2009 at 4:26 AM | PERMALINK

Another point Rachel Maddow made on her show is that the two documents Cheney requested the National Archives to release are from 2004 and I think 2005. She specifically mentioned that this was long after the interrogation of KSM was over and right after Abu Ghraib became public. In other words, it wasn't a timely report on what was being learned as CIA interrogated KSM, it was an after the fact CYA report when it first looked possible that everything might become public.

Posted by: tanstaafl on April 25, 2009 at 5:04 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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