Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 17, 2009

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

* Deadly blast in Indonesia: "Eight people were killed Friday in two separate explosions at the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in central Jakarta, just over a week after the world's most populous majority-Muslim nation held a peaceful presidential election."

* Unrest continues in Iran: "Security forces used tear gas and batons to break up opposition demonstrations during and after the Friday Prayer at Tehran University, witnesses said, as the leading opposition cleric, urging national unity, harshly assailed the government's handling of what he termed a 'crisis.'"

* Sen. Dick Lugar (R) of Indiana announced his support for Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination today. Soon after, other Republicans, including Florida's Mel Martinez and Maine's Olympia Snowe, followed suit.

* Following up on an earlier item, health care reform has passed both the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. Energy and Commerce, however, remains the more difficult challenge.

* Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) apparently doesn't want President Obama to talk about health care. Imagine, just for a moment, how much closer we'd be to real reform if the 60-seat Dem majority didn't care what Grassley thinks.

* Home construction went up more than expected in June.

* There are no metro areas in the U.S. in recovery yet, but MSNBC and Moody's Economy.com have identified 23 of the nation's metro areas "nearing the bottom of the recession."

* If you missed President Obama's speech at the NAACP event last night in New York, it's worth watching. When you're done, check out Adam Serwer's great post on this.

* An expanded hate-crimes measure takes one step closer to becoming law.

* Joel Sawyer, who has served as South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's communications director, resigned today. That was a very good idea.

* Paul Krugman explains the problem with Goldman Sachs' record quarterly profits.

* EFCA without card check? T.A. Frank presented the idea in this very magazine not too long ago, and it seems to be the basis for a new Senate "compromise."

* It's about time: "Foreigners who have HIV would be allowed to travel and immigrate to the United States under a plan by federal health officials to lift a 22-year ban on infected visitors that critics say was unnecessary from the start."

* Under the circumstances, I think The Hill may not have much of a choice but to drop David Keene's column.

* Fascinating discussion between Glenn Greenwald and Chuck Todd on investigating Bush-era torture. Take a wild guess who made the more compelling case.

* Were Chinese intelligence officers given access to Uighur detainees at Gitmo?

* Don't go away mad, Lou Dobbs, just go away.

* Why am I pessimistic about the new Pecora Commission? Two words: Bill Thomas.

* And finally, one of these days, the GOP is going to learn something about modern technology: "A Republican National Committee online game that challenges players to spend trillions of dollars was taken down today after reports that it offered some objectionable items for sale - including sexually explicit, anti-Semitic and anti-Latino items."

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Steve asked "Fascinating discussion between Glenn Greenwald and Chuck Todd on investigating Bush-era torture. Take a wild guess who made the more compelling case."

Lemme guess: whomever made the case for an aggressive, scorched-earth investigation?

dissapointingly predictable Steve... I sure do miss Kevin.

Posted by: Jimmy on July 17, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

From my National Review Cruise journal
Days 9 and 10 - At sea and in Sicily

The cruise is winding down. Although this has been a great opportunity to share my thoughts with high-profile Republican politicians and pundits on what they could be doing better, I am glad to be getting back home to Vieja Cabra. I miss Fox & Friends and Dunkin Donuts.

Thursday was our second and last sea day and the most intellectually vibrant day of the cruise, packed with fascinating panel sessions and workshops. The morning session, “Social Issues 2.0,” was a spirited discussion on how we can strengthen the party by doubling down on our core social beliefs. With McCain heading the ticket last year, moderate and independent voters could see no difference between the parties. There’s no reason to think they wouldn’t have voted GOP if a more traditional conservative had been the candidate. Palin’s enormous popularity shows that citizens are hungry for unflinching moral leadership.

Some of the intriguing suggestions that came out of the panel: conferring legal personhood on individual sexual urges, which really gets at the issue in the early stages before it becomes a full-blown problem, and criminalizing Judy Garland music and Birkenstocks. We also support legislation to institute random pregnancy checks on women between ages 13-55 and to publish the names of all who test positive. Some may think this goes too far but I think if you want to make a traditional values omelet you have to break a few eggs.

Between the morning and afternoon panels I watched a game of shuffleboard on the top deck. Pat Buchanan kept throwing the discs overhand instead of using the pole so most observers left the scene quickly. Energy was also high at the ping pong table where I saw Meghan McCain repeatedly smash the ball directly at Sam Wurzelbacher’s face. He seemed never to notice when it hit him. I finally settled down to a quiet game of trivia in Davy Jones’ Locker Lounge. The topics were Buddy Holly lyrics, yellow foods and radical Islam. I am proud to say my team took first place to win the beer huggies.

In the afternoon we broke into small task forces to brainstorm opportunities and troubleshoot challenges. Various groups discussed “Victim = Victor: Turning Whining Into Winning,” “Reaping the Benefits of Bush Nostalgia” and “An Armed Society Is Not a Socialist Society.” I participated in a lively discussion, “Divide, Deride and Conquer,” exploring new ways that whites’ natural suspicion of non-whites can benefit us at the polls.

The only unpleasant moment during the day came during the book fair showcasing the works of the cruise speakers. I had brought a small carton of copies of my own book along and was stunned when an officious young man in a bow tie informed me that I couldn’t put them out on display. He was very offensive about my book having been self-published and I do not think he understood the valuable political perspectives of a novel set during the Anglo-Zulu War. Since I paid more for this cruise than most Democrats pay in taxes in a decade I plan to take this up with NR when I get home.

Another small “oops” moment at dinner when I dropped my fork and asked J.C. Watts, who was then passing by my table, to get me a clean one. Fortunately he laughed heartily at my faux pas and then went off himself to find me a waiter. It’s good to finally meet a black man who doesn’t take himself too seriously. The One probably would have had the IRS audit me had I made this honest mistake with him.

Candy said she was in the mood for a little Hi Lo and headed off to the casino. I made the round of the lounges to listen to music. There was a fellow from Texas doing very fair covers of Leo Greenwood songs, but I preferred the family act calling itself Bootstraps. Some of the younger passengers seemed to like Gabe A. Hey, a Johnny Ramone impersonator.

I hit the hay early as I was looking forward to Sicily today. It is disappointing that Candy has not been “in the mood” all week. Back in our dating days a night on the gently rolling waves usually made her amorous.

Sicily was the best port of the entire cruise. I spent the whole time in a restaurant as there is nothing much worth seeing on the island. After the quarto piatto I began to feel full but pushed manfully on a little farther. Exceptional cassata.

Unfortunately my good mood dissipated when I got back on board and reviewed my cruise bill. Given how much time she spent in the casino I was surprised that Candy’s chips only came to $100 total. She must have been exceptionally lucky on the first day and stayed that way. However, I was enraged to see that my liquor bill for the 10 days came to $2,994.

After a long wait in line at the reception desk with similarly furious passengers I had an unsatisfactory conversation with a cruiseline employee. She could not understand my point that alcohol, spa treatments, bingo cards, gambling chips, souvenir photographs and everything else should be included in the cruise price. This employee maintains that the cruise ship fare is set low because customers demand it that way, and that most passengers understand and are fine with the concept of paying nominal fees for extras they choose to use. I told her I didn’t want the cruise fare to go up and I didn’t want to pay extra for any goods or services either. I feel like I have had this kind of conversation many times before.

Posted by: Myke K on July 17, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Today must be "Attack the Blogger" day.

Posted by: mlm on July 17, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Why, Jimmy? He is still blogging away and you can visit him every single day at Mother Jones just like the rest of us do.

Posted by: Realist on July 17, 2009 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the link Realist, I've got it bookmarked! I don't guess I'll be coming back here much... life is too "sunny" out there.

Posted by: Jimmy on July 17, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Just wanted to remind everyone that this blog is still really ugly and I blog for free

Oh yeah, and Bush still sucks.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on July 17, 2009 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

upbeat summary of biofuels

Along with assessment of the costs of mistakes.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on July 17, 2009 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

it seems to be the basis for a new Senate "compromise."

So is this another one of those "compromises" where non-Blue Dogs give up something and the conservative bloc (D and R) vote against the result en masse anyway?

Magic 8-Ball says "signs point to yes."

Especially since pretending majority sign-up was the sticking point was just a PR move, and the real killer for the business lobby has always been binding arbitration.

Posted by: Redshift on July 17, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding the metro areas in the U.S. closest to recovery:

Glad to see green shoots in California. Hanford-Corcoran is leading the way out of the darkness! With the exception of CO and TX (and possibly GA) these are pretty obscure places.

Aside from demonstrating that places nobody wants to move to largely immune to real estate bubbles, I'm not that sure I'd read too much into that.

Congrats to Texas, clearly they did something right in the bubble.

Posted by: Tentakles on July 17, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it is definitely a fact the GOP has run out of ideas and now they are running out of 'fresh new candidates.'

I found this funny that this is the rumors among some of the new candidates they had -

Kim D. Hendren - AR, called Chuck Schumer "That Jew." A black judge, "this new minority judge."

Brad Goehring - CA, admitted 40% of his vineyard workers were undocumented immigrants, Social Security Admin. notified him the records didn't match. ***This means they used fake SS#'s

Bill Cassidy - LA, being sued by his former media consultant for breach of contract.

Yes, the list goes on.

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

Myke K, one of your best satiric posts yet. Everyone I've met on a cruise, and even hubby and myself, are always surprised at the amount of the add-on bill for alcohol, etc. that comes at the end.

Who knew that a drink you could make at home for maybe fifty cents actually costs six or seven dollars for a cruise ship. AND, these days they won't even let you take your own bottle(s) of booze on board.

Posted by: Michael W on July 17, 2009 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

* Don't go away mad, Lou Dobbs, just go away.

So Dobbs is cozying up to the birthers? Do you suppose he suspects that Obama might really be a Mexican?

Posted by: jim strain on July 17, 2009 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Anthony Woods of Cali will run in 10th Cong. Dist. in the special election (candidacy), he's openly gay, and was discharged from the military under DADT.

As a heterosexual female, if I haven't moved to the Caribbean by then, I will vote for him.

People need to send a message to the GOP that real Americans have a seat at the table.

***Real Americans are all Americans, all ethnic groups, all sexual-orientations, all social-economic groups.....

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Annjell, I don't know that I would recommend moving to the Caribbean. I lived in Ft. Lauderdale through Frances, Jeanne, Katrina, Rita and Wilma, at least.

The Caribbean was not treated nicely during those storm, nor others that come to mind.

Posted by: Michael W on July 17, 2009 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Home construction went up more than expected in June."

Unfortunately, it did not.

Housing Starts in June were DOWN 46% from June of 2008.

Once again, because of potential seasonal distortions, the proper comparison is to the same month of the previous year, not to the month before.

Not to mention that even the meaningless monthly number of a rise of 3.6% is plus/minus a stunning 11.3%, which renders the monthly number even more meaningless.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 17, 2009 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Michael W...you have to know the tricks! Buy a Box of wine and smuggle it aboard...no problem! But if you want hard liquor it may be more difficult...Maybe fill empty milk cartons with booze? Boxes don't show up on the x-ray!

Posted by: Joan on July 17, 2009 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

Annjell, hubby and I have used empty water bottles filled with vodka or gin, since they're colorless. The cruise lines don't charge extra for orange juice or tonic water. ;) Plus, if you have a hip flask, you can still lounge around the pool with your glass of "orange juice" and no one is the wiser.

Posted by: Michael W on July 17, 2009 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, that should have been to Joan @7:30.

Posted by: Michael W on July 17, 2009 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Michael W, I know about the hurricanes. Turns out I had left the Cayman Islands a few days before hurricane Ivan hit.

But I need to get away for a while. This country is just too crazy right now. I do not endorse the things going on, racism, sexism, rich-poor....

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

The conversation between Glen Greenwald and Chuck Todd clearly shows that while well intentioned, Chuck is as big a tool as anyone out there who calls themselves a "journalist." I hope he took some food for thought and will stop being so ignorant and lazy (if his corporate masters will let him).

Hey Jimmy, as long citizens fear holding their elected officials accountable, nothing is ever going to change. Ignoring a problem never solved anything. Deal with it.

Posted by: bdop4 on July 17, 2009 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Burn. Baby. Burn.

If you missed President Obama's speech at the NAACP event last night in New York, it's worth watching.

I didn't miss it. It was:
Phenomenal. Powerful. Passionate.

Now imagine if he gave a health care speech with those same specs. He needs to crack a heavy and hot whip on this issue. NOW. Enough with the futzing around already. He needs to stand, deliver, and put a lot of people's feet into the fire on this issue.

We've been trying to do this shit for 50 years. How about talking about that? And how about talking about how the country will look 10-20 years from now if this bill isn't passed? And how about talking about politicians who run tv ads when they run for office talking about the importance of health care reform? And how about talking about people who lost their homes yesterday to pay their medical bills?

I mean... WTF?
It is time to Burn. Baby. Burn. on this issue.

It is now or never god damn it....

Posted by: koreyel on July 17, 2009 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, either Myke K is writing a book, or he's delusional, or both.

We know that Patsy Buchanan was on MSNBC yesterday. So, how is it that he was on the cruise ship with Myke K?

Oh wait, maybe Patsy has magical powers!!!

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

* Following up on an earlier item, health care reform has passed both the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. Energy and Commerce, however, remains the more difficult challenge.

Proof positive that healthcare should be not-for-profit and not something that Commerce has any say in. And I have to wonder... just how do health and *Energy* intersect?

Posted by: exlibra on July 17, 2009 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

"EFCA without card check? T.A. Frank presented the idea in this very magazine not too long ago, and it seems to be the basis for a new Senate 'compromise'."

Card check exists under current law, how would going backwards and eliminating card check be a "compromise" ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 17, 2009 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Michael W, I forgot to say - these islands are outside (allegedly) the hurricane belt,
1. Aruba
2. Bonaire
3. Curacao
4. Panama

You'll still get some winds, rains, but not the destructive hurricanes that plague the other islands.

Cayman Islands lend out generators to residents that can't afford them. This is a stuffy place - rich people U.K dependent. There's crime, but not much, rarely it affects a tourist.


This is who is target to arrest:
1) residents wearing baggy pants, gang attire, display of tattoos...
2) gay tourist who show public display of affection.
3) tourist, work permitted workers who overstay their visas......

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

.
The real news vs. NewsCorp: Indonesia: Human Beings Slaughtered. Wall St Journal et al MSM: "Rich People Might Lose Some Money"
.

Posted by: cosanostradamus on July 17, 2009 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Car dealer gives away an AK-47 with every car purchase,

http://www.kctv5.com/news/20085629/detail.html


Missouri, the Show Me State!

Posted by: alan on July 17, 2009 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Republican's receive donations from Health Plan" John Cornyn
Mitch McConnell
George Vinovich
received donations from WellCare Health Plans - this office was raided by state/fed agents
see: www.kissmybutt.com/october.htm
***the site is either kiss my butt, or kiss my blue butt.

*****California May Declare Bankruptcy***
according to "Real Orange" cable show on KOCE.org

apparently, California wants to declare BK in order to rewrite the state's constitution, rewrite pension plans...yet, if it declares BK it will never be able to borrow again. It's easier for cities & counties to file BK, but not states.

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

Fascinating discussion? Hardly. Chuck Todd isn't that impressive and I can't imagine how he became a director of anything. He's just a feather in the political wind.

Greenwald on the other hand has always sliced right to the core of the matter. Maybe that's why he's not a political director on a cable news channel.

Posted by: citizen_pain on July 17, 2009 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

Panama's not an an island. My family (from the Caribbean, I'm first gen American) also doesn't consider it (as well as Costa Rica, Honduras, Belize, et al) to be part of the Caribbean.

Posted by: leave it alone on July 17, 2009 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

I preferred the family act calling itself Bootstraps. -- Myke K, @ 17:42

Jesus Mary and Joseph, save us... Is there NO perversion that the Repubs won't take with them when cruising???

Posted by: exlibra on July 17, 2009 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

And in New York City a Giant of a human being passed away, today. Mr Cronkite, you will be sorely missed.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 17, 2009 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, Central America!!!

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, as long as I've had my passport, and when I didn't I've never stepped foot in Tijuana or any parts of Central America.

Posted by: annjell on July 17, 2009 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK
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