Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 11, 2009

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

* It's official -- the H1N1 swine flu virus is the first global flu epidemic in 41 years.

* The Senate passed landmark legislation this afternoon to regulate tobacco products. It passed 79 to 17.

* For now, James Von Brunn is still alive in a D.C. hospital. Today, he was charged with murder.

* The right's new line of attack: James Von Brunn, a notorious racist and anti-Semite, is a lefty.

* President Obama hosted a town-hall discussion today in Green Bay on health care reform.

* Congressional Republicans are balking at federal funding for the International Monetary Fund. Today, Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton accused GOP lawmakers of undermining U.S. national security interests.

* Stephen Johns, the security officer who was murdered yesterday at the Holocaust Memorial, is part of a union that requested bulletproof vests. The vests were never issued.

* Fox News went to comical lengths not to talk about yesterday's shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

* New York's state Senate, still a mess.

* The AMA's opposition to health care reform prompted one high-profile physician to resign from the organization today.

* Dr. George Tiller is gone, but a Nebraska doctor stepped up yesterday to say he'll perform late-term abortions in Kansas.

* Letterman walked back some of his Palin jokes, but the RNC wants a Letterman boycott. (What will Dave do without those insightful and engaging Republican guests?)

* Brendan Nyhan has a fascinating item on the difficulties in getting people to stop believing a lie.

* Video of the Day.

* Jeremiah Wright, please stop talking.

* Michael Steele should probably just steer clear of metaphors altogether.

* Once in a great while, Joe Scarborough says something sensible. This morning, for example, he mocked right-wing calls for a GM boycott "stupid," and the conservative proponents of the boycott "morons."

* And this afternoon, President Obama signed the coolest excused-absence note in the history of excused-absence notes.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (39)

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Comments

So the more common flu's are not global? How about the common colds - all these race around the world essentially unchecked.

I understand the concern about the H1N1 variety being high until its risks were better understood.

But all this sounds like a bunch of nothing now. It becomes hard to take these seriously when the system is flawed.

Posted by: George on June 11, 2009 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

are you kidding? david letterman didn't walk back anything!

he defended himself against the slanderous accusation of having made a joke about rape and palin's 14-yr-old daughter.

and he did it really well.

Posted by: karen marie on June 11, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

PAN-demic, not EPI-demic

Posted by: martin on June 11, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK
Once in a great while, Joe Scarborough says something sensible. This morning, for example, he mocked right-wing calls for a GM boycott "stupid," and the conservative proponents of the boycott "morons."

If you've seen Joe's recent interview on Hardball, it becomes appparent that he is positioning himself, quite carefully, as a centrist Republican, prior to standing for office again: I'm not sure what office, I'd hazard a guess at a Governors chair.

'

Posted by: firefall on June 11, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

For the record, WHO's pandemic warning system measures only how a disease is spreading, not a disease's virulence or potential danger.

Posted by: JM on June 11, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK
So the more common flu's are not global?

Either they aren't global, or they aren't new global spreads, they are post-pandemic varieties.

How about the common colds - all these race around the world essentially unchecked.

Common colds, not being influenza, would not constitute be a "global flu epidemic" or, more properly, influenza pandemic.

I understand the concern about the H1N1 variety being high until its risks were better understood.

The elevation of the pandemic to Phase 6 is not really a measure of degree of risk to life, it is a measure primarily of geographic spread (it indicates human-to-human spread in two or more countries in one WHO region and in at least one country in another WHO region.)

But all this sounds like a bunch of nothing now. It becomes hard to take these seriously when the system is flawed.

The system is not flawed, it is doing exactly what it is intended to do (note that, in past influenza pandemics, there have been several waves in each pandemic where the lethality increased with successive waves. Therefore, a global pandemic of what appears to be a fairly tame flu bug is still a reason for serious concern and development of response plans and management measures, as a more lethal subsequent wave is likely.)

The mainstream media coverage, of course, is, as always, very shallow, and doesn't make clear what the purpose and meaning of the various declarations is, which can create panic among the extremely uninformed, or the perception that the system is flawed among the merely modestly uninformed.


Posted by: cmdicely on June 11, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

The right's new line of attack: James Von Brunn, a notorious racist and anti-Semite, is a lefty.

Fox News went to comical lengths not to talk about yesterday's shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The comments section at the latter story largely reflect the parroting of the former talking point by the right-wing dittoheads.

Posted by: qwerty on June 11, 2009 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Obama is getting some credit from some villagers. On CNN this afternoon, I heard Jack Cafferty talking about Obama and the "Cairo effect": Obama's speech etc. to the Muslim world improved their perception of the US. It could have tilted the election in Lebanon to the more US-friendly Sunni coalition, which defeated the Hezbollah coalition. (That's more helpful to the US and Israel than any kissing up to Likudniks would do.)

If Mir Hossein Musavi beats Ahmadinejad in the Iranian election tomorrow, that might have been tweaked by Obama's influence. I hope some conservatives will accept that positive fallout from Obama's overtures.

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on June 11, 2009 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Stephen Johns, the security officer who was murdered yesterday at the Holocaust Memorial, is part of a union that requested bulletproof vests. The vests were never issued."

Bastards.

Posted by: Joe Friday on June 11, 2009 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Once in a great while, Joe Scarborough says something sensible.

Well thank heaven for small favors.

If he succeeds in stringing two of them together in the same day (week? month?), I'll take note.

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on June 11, 2009 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

This belonged on the thread below but I'm late to the party:

Liz Cheney has her head up her ass.

Posted by: Chocolate Thunder on June 11, 2009 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

The denial of a bullet proof vest was a stupid and silly company economy gesture, obviously they should be sued. No amount of money is enough. These are brave souls who defend the truth. You have to imagine they have their regular right wing run-ins.

Posted by: Sparko on June 11, 2009 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

This belonged on the thread below but I'm late to the party:

Liz Cheney has her head up her ass.

Not to nitpick, but it could belong to the majority of threads -- substituting names as appropriate (Dick, Karl, any Senator from Oklahoma, etc).

Posted by: e henry thripshaw on June 11, 2009 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

A $hot of courage...

Dr. LeRoy Carhart ... insisted "there will be a place in Kansas for the later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon."

There ought to be a fund whereby someone like me can directly contribute to Carhart's salary. If he has the courage to step into the breach, I'd like to make it worth the risk.

In fact:

There ought to be a way to make direct micro-payments into a fund for these doctors across the country. I can't think of a better way to piss off bible-toting loons then to make these docs multi-millionaires, and encourage more to the calling...

Can you?

Posted by: koreyel on June 11, 2009 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

The right's new line of attack: James Von Brunn, a notorious racist and anti-Semite, is a lefty.

Ben Smith, over at Politico, went to absurd lengths to show that Von Brunn "can't be classified as right or left" because apparently Von Brunn didn't like the Weekly Standard. I thought that was bad enough until I read the comments.

Has Politico always had a right-leaning, Drudge-clicking readership? I studiously avoided Politico during the election because I hate gossipy, insidery Washington-centric journalism, but reading the comments. I dunno what to expect, I certainly didn't expect it to read like the Free Republic with the occasional dissent.

Also, do they have a print edition? I'd like to subscribe so I can train my dog to take a shit on it every day.

Posted by: Shine on June 11, 2009 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Scaborough's extreme douchebaggery in the Video of the Day more than makes up for anything not-quite-so-idiotic-as-usual he may have said the entire rest of the week.

Posted by: melior on June 11, 2009 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK
"Stephen Johns, the security officer who was murdered yesterday at the Holocaust Memorial, is part of a union that requested bulletproof vests. The vests were never issued."

Bastards.

Posted by: Joe Friday on June 11, 2009

ditto

Posted by: MarkH on June 11, 2009 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

hey, excellent idea, koreyel. i'd contribute to that!

Posted by: just bill on June 11, 2009 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

More right-wing terror, or apologies and incitement, on the way:
From http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/06/a-christianist-terror-threat.html

11 Jun 2009 07:36 pm
A Christianist Terror Threat

Randall Terry of Operation Rescue is upping the ante:
In response to a follow up question from The Washington Independent's Dave Weigel about the correlation between violent right wing extremism and Democratic administrations, Terry recalled a quote, which he believed to have originated with either Robert or John F. Kennedy: "When you make peaceful protest impossible, you make violent protest inevitable," adding, "I can promise you this--there is visceral contempt for this administration," in the pro-life community.

It's time for the pro-life community to repel Terry from their ranks.

Posted by: demoraptor on June 11, 2009 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

koreyel:

and encourage more to the calling...

I donated to Medical Students For Choice in memory of Dr. Tiller. While it may not encourage the current doctors, this organization is working to help a new generation of doctors emerge so there are providers in the future. There are also organizations to assist those without the means to be able to reach the services.

I second the call for a way to offer support for the providers themselves.

See http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/05/31/in-honor-of-dr-tiller/ for a few more possibilities.

Posted by: IOKIYAR on June 11, 2009 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

As someone who found some truths in Jeremiah Wright's more "colorful" sermons and was impressed by his education and military service, I defended him (this was prior to the Press Club Q&A). Now I wish he would just go away. He seems to have forgotten that as a Christian and as a pastor, he is supposed to serve people with humility. Instead he appears to have gotten rather large-headed and possibly bigoted. Gaaaaaa!!!!!

Posted by: No more on June 11, 2009 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Word Watch - NeroCon

A Republican who fiddles around while their party burns.

Posted by: Shivas on June 11, 2009 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Ben Smith, over at Politico, went to absurd lengths to show that Von Brunn "can't be classified as right or left" because apparently Von Brunn didn't like the Weekly Standard. -- Melior, @19:21

Given that Weakly Substandard is Kristol's paper and given that Von Brunn is an anti-Semite of Hitleric proportions, his dislike of the paper is not suprising. He probably doesn't like WSJ either. But, even so, he sure as hell has more in common with today's fRighites than with us.

Posted by: exlibra on June 11, 2009 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely on June 11, 2009 at 5:52 PM

Nicely written.

We have been warned.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on June 11, 2009 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Brendan Nyhan has a fascinating item on the difficulties in getting people to stop believing a lie.

It'a partly due to some goofs by Obama. He said that America is not a "Christian nation", which is correct in light of the Bill of Rights. But then he said that American could be considered one of the largest "Muslim nations", which is incorrect. He ought to have stopped with the comment that America has one of the largest Muslim populations -- also not really true (what, we rank about 30 or 40?), but closer to his intended meaning.

As candidate he stressed his Christianity, but as president he has stressed his Islamic ties and drawn attention to his Muslim middle name. It's contributing to the perception (mountain-top coal stripping anyone?) that he isn't much that he campaigned as.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on June 11, 2009 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

MRM, you are an ass.

I have some serious issues with Obama's performance so far, handling of the banks and secrecy, mostly, but he has followed through with his campaign spiel better than any candidate I can remember.

Your hero, the shrub, the "compassionate conservative", forgot everything he said on the campaign trail once he was sworn in, except tax cuts for the wealthy. Never heard a word from you, then.

PS: I guess you could also through NCLB in there, which was completely unsupported by his shrubness once it was passed.

Posted by: says you on June 11, 2009 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK
But then he said that American could be considered one of the largest "Muslim nations", which is incorrect.

Um, no, that's not what he said. And his meaning was perfectly plain to anyone who isn't a moron or a mindless partisan (but I repeat myself). As to the rest of the drivel you wrote, I'm not going to bother.

Posted by: PaulB on June 11, 2009 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Letterman did not "back off." He cleared the air while continuing to ridicule them by rereading the jokes and discussing them precisely.

Horrible comments at Huffington Post, as always.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on June 11, 2009 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

the palin complaint about letterman is yet another fauxtrage...no way the joke was about the 14 year old, it makes no sense that way, as i prove on my blog (w/a special guest appearance in the comments section by jim treacher himself!)

Posted by: skippy on June 11, 2009 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

If [Scarborough] succeeds in stringing two of them together in the same day... -e henry thripshaw

...then he'd be as useful as a broken clock.

Posted by: doubtful on June 11, 2009 at 10:26 PM | PERMALINK

If I can help expose more people to the wit and wisdom of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, it's all worth it.

Posted by: Jim Treacher on June 11, 2009 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Did I mention how much I not only adore our new President but also how much I enjoy the morons who basically sang "America, Fuck Yeah" for real over the last 8 years are now steaming in their own shit pile? Ain't life grand Ms. Dee?

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on June 11, 2009 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

Andrew Breitbart informs us that von Brunn is a "multiculturalist just like the black studies and the lesbian studies majors on college campuses."

Social conservatives don't care what the object of is as long as they contextualize it within their freaked out bedtime story.

It's all about being in an enraptured state of borderline hysteria. You know, just like von Brunn.

Posted by: alan on June 11, 2009 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Breitbart apparently doesn't understand what the word "multiculturalism" means, since von Brunn was loudly and violently advocating exactly the opposite thing for decades.

It's really 1984 now. The GOP and the wingnuts have perfected Doublethink.

Posted by: bluestatedon on June 12, 2009 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Once in a great while, Joe Scarborough says something sensible. This morning, for example, he mocked right-wing calls for a GM boycott "stupid," and the conservative proponents of the boycott "morons."

About 90% of American workers do not belong to unions, and about 85% of American workers are not employed by government. It makes perfectly good sense for those non-government, non-unionized American workers to buy autos from American non-government, non-unionized auto manufacturers. (Unionized public school teachers are the most natural market for GM.) An actual boycott is not really necessary. If America imposed higher tariffs on imported autos, it would probably help the non-unionized non-government auto companies (several of which are expanding US production faster than the "government-issue" companies) at least as much as it would help the "government issue" auto companies.

According to polls, only about 40% of GM owners would consider purchasing a GM auto for their next car. They may change their minds once they drive the Volts at the dealerships, but if not, about 60% of GM owners have already decided to boycott GM in the future.

Congress has objected to the dealership closures, in some cases successfully (e.g. Rep. Frank's success in halting some closures in Massachusetts.) Can we expect Congress to start deciding which battery companies GM has to buy from? A123 is in Massachusetts, and is probably well represented in the current lobby industry. If there are battery factories near Johnstown, PA (or perhaps even if there are not), Rep Murtha will probably work to ensure that they (or a company owned by his family) get a portion of the battery market. The federal subsidy to GM could last as long as the federal protection of the sugar industry -- and we all know how well that works for the American candy manufacturers.

If this policy attitude had been influential back in the day, we'd still have AMC, Studebaker and (exaggeration coming up!) Conestoga.

Says you: PS: I guess you could also through NCLB in there, which was completely unsupported by his shrubness once it was passed.

A hit, a palpable hit. I also objected to his signing of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform (but it was before I started posting here); I objected to his signing the Schiavo law; I defended Social Security when he started trying to whittle it down in 2005; I also objected to the bank bailout. but Bush isn't president anymore. Now Obama is president, and he is disappointing some of his followers, and tying himself in his own rhetorical knots.

Obama gives really good speeches, and he seems to be really smart about politics (consider how he outmaneuvered Hillary Clinton by nominating her to be Secy of State, and his excellent choice of Judge Sotomayor), but he also says some foolish or false things, and he has to run the gauntlet the same as every other president.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on June 12, 2009 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

The Senate passed landmark legislation this afternoon to regulate tobacco products.

Sooner or later it's gong to occur to people that farming all that tobacco land for biofuel feedstocks is much more in the public interest than growing tobacco. When that happens, however, revenues from tobacco sales will decline.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on June 12, 2009 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK


It's interesting how FOX won't say anything about the right-wing extremist who went on a rampage in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington, but Hannity & co. are making a big stink about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and his "Jews" comment. Double-standards.

Posted by: ctrenta on June 12, 2009 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

It's also interesting that the "right-wing" extremist was also targeting Fox News and the Weekly Standard.

Posted by: Jim Treacher on June 12, 2009 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK
It's also interesting that the "right-wing" extremist was also targeting Fox News and the Weekly Standard.

Of course—given that his stated reason for opposing various, comparatively mainstream, elements of the right is that they were too moderate, and, in his view, all talk and no action against the left—while this may be "interesting" on some level, it does nothing to refute, and much to prove, that he is, in fact, a right-wing extremist.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 12, 2009 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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