Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 29, 2009

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

* The Fed seems cautiously optimistic about the beginnings of an economic recovery.

* Iraqi security forces, against the wishes of the U.S., launched an offensive against an Iranian dissident group. It's a move fraught with implications.

* Despite 280 supporters in the House, a sweeping food safety bill, which would improve inspections and oversight, is being slowed down on the Hill.

* Despite today's deal, some Blue Dogs still don't like health care reform.

* The center-right health care "compromise" emerging from the Senate Finance Committee will reportedly cost under $900 billion over 10 years. No word yet on what kind of concessions, or gimmicks, make this possible.

* When pressed, even the most right-wing lawmakers will rail against government-run health care and praise Medicare in the same breath.

* Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana wants to find the "center" of the health care reform debate. I have no idea what that means.

* The DCCC is not amused by mock-hangings put together by reform opponents.

* In an apparent attempt to be as annoying as humanly possible, Sen. Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska says he's undecided about Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The conservative Democrat said yesterday he needs to "convince myself she won't be an activist" on the bench.

* It can be challenging to keep the conservative front-groups straight when it comes the fight over health care reform, but ThinkProgress has done some interesting research on the Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights.

* The New America Foundation's Frida Berrigan has a great piece on the neocons drumming up opposition to the administration's policies on nuclear weapons.

* Both of Colorado's freshmen Democratic senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, are taking heat from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence for their votes on the Thune Amendment last week.

* Tennessee's Paul Stanley (R), in the wake of an ugly sex scandal, wisely chose to resign yesterday.

* And finally, Fox News can't find Egypt on a map. Apparently, the network's staffers are as confused as its audience.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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

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Comments

Iraq helping Iran ... Isn't it a pathetic irony, for the neocons, that Iran is perhaps the greatest beneficiary of shrub's war? Who among them even care?

Consistency is the hobgoblin of liberal minds.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on July 29, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Well, of course fox viewers are lost trying to find egypt. Since in their world we (the US) are the center of the universe & the world is flat, if Egypt isn't in the lower 48, they'll never find it.
*****
I'm waiting for the day when Rick Perry's sex scandal hits. Please let it be juicy, like beastiality. If everything is bigger in Texas, so should the scandals. Maybe sex for hire through Allen Sanford's corp?

Posted by: vwmeggs on July 29, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

That gun bill, supported by conservatives but a cram-down against State's rights ...

Consistency is the hobgoblin of liberal minds

Posted by: Neil B. ♪ ♫ on July 29, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

"And finally, Fox News can't find Egypt on a map. "

And that is why their viewership is consistently
rated the lowest in news viewership intelligence regarding current events!

Anybody here remember when Egypt was part of the United Arab Republic? Who was their
partner in that combination of nations?

Posted by: barkleyg on July 29, 2009 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Iraqi security forces, against the wishes of the U.S., launched an offensive against an Iranian dissident group.

The prospects of George W. Bush becoming our MidEast envoy are looking brighter every day.

From the article on Iraqi's invading the camp:
"They sprayed the residents with hot water and beat them with batons," resident Safa Mohammed said in a phone interview.

Hey, hot water! Thanks, no doubt, to US contractors.

Posted by: inkadu on July 29, 2009 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

in re the ' food safety bill':
The changes also exempted farms and food retail establishments from having to register with the FDA and pay a $500 annual fee charged to food manufacturers to defray the costs of the increased oversight.

-Another typical example of congresscritters being out of touch with the folks back home. Agribiz can affort the $500 fee. Farmer Fred, with his roadside stand selling corn and tomatoes cannot.

Ditto the wooden toy 'manufacture', with a bandsaw and belt sander in his garage, cannot afford to have his product tested for Chinese Lead Paint Contamination.

The definition of a Small Business is a company with less than 500 employees.

I'm a ceramic artist with no employees, and I recently had a visit from OSHA, wanting to know about silica and my record keeping and my Hazardous Materials Program.

Silica, for the liberal arts majors among us, is sand. . .

Posted by: DAY on July 29, 2009 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Steve just wants to give us another chance to drag out the obscure Kiss lyrics. . .

Posted by: zeitgeist on July 29, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

"The conservative Democrat said yesterday he needs to "convince myself she won't be an activist" on the bench."

Translation: "I ain't seen that new Porsche on mah porch yet, sonny."

Posted by: Curmudgeon on July 29, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Nelson's just trying to replace Martinez, Graham, or one of the other GOP'ers...you know, to not make it look like Sotomayor ran up the score.

Posted by: TonyB on July 29, 2009 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Nelson proves that there aren't enough voters of Hispanic heritage in Nebraska.

Posted by: mlm on July 29, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Iraqi security forces, against the wishes of the U.S., launched an offensive against an Iranian dissident group."

Actually, this "dissident group" is still considered a terrorist organization by the US state department, something the Post article only points out on the second page towards the end of the article.

So, Steve, when is a group a dissident group? If they are dissidents, will you refer to various other armed groups as dissidents? I know that they have, e.g., been removed from the terror list in Europe, and that there is a lot of disagreement in the US about whether they still belong on the list. But we are not talking about Andrei Sacharow here; it's a fairly violent armed group.

Posted by: TS on July 29, 2009 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

The CBO's evaluation of HR3200 (which includes the public option) had it net costing $239 billion over 10 years (when savings & revenues are, of course, factored in) for the federal government.

If Medicare payment reforms and Medicare prescription drugs price negotiations are included, it's a net surplus, too.

So this "under $900 billion" is another worthless, bullshit accomplishment trumpeted by the fake 'deficit hawks' who never cared about Republican pro-rich tax cuts or Medicare pharmaceutical company giveaways.

Posted by: El Cid on July 29, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone hear, about a plan for a national day of "going Galt" tomorrow July 30? Read about it from promoters here:
http://www.resistnet.com/profiles/blogs/calling-all-patriots-time-to
They are supposed to "call in conservative" (odd, not the same as libertarian/objectivist anyway ....) and not go to work etc. Maybe some will get fired like they deserve to be.

Here's what they say about that:
No doubt employers and business owners will threaten employees with termination if they 'call in conservative' on that day. Don't let them intimidate you. They need conservative employees, who tend to be the most reliable and conscientious. And, it must be stated that some will probably lose their jobs. Thus, your participation is a matter of great sacrifice.

Might be interesting to see what happens.

Posted by: Neil B on July 29, 2009 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, Neil B. Hopefully enough Randian conservatives will lose their jobs and see what the real world is like. Maybe they'll wise up a bit, and see where their interests lie.

Posted by: Michael W on July 29, 2009 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

The Money Party doesn't like health care reform, nor does it want food safety.

The Money Party appears to want unhealthy food to cause more medical emergencies, necessitating health insurance for more Americans, resulting in higher payments to hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical companies, which will make more money for stockholders and execs.

Follow the Money Party.

Posted by: anonymous on July 29, 2009 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Fox News can't find Egypt on a map -- Steve Benen

Why would they want to? Now, if it took them longer than 40 years to find Israel, there might be a problem. For them, at any rate; me, I'd be happy for them to wander in the desert much longer than that.

Posted by: exlibra on July 29, 2009 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

vwmeggs, You are sooo right! Maybe another picket outside the guv's mansion.

Posted by: annjell on July 29, 2009 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

One of the Blue Dogs was on MSNBC this morning saying that the Insurance industry in his state must be protected. When questioned that the industry is more important than the public, he tried to back-track and spin what he'd said.

Posted by: annjell on July 29, 2009 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

Looks as though one Randy Randian politico from Tenn. did lose his job.

However, Chrissy Poo continues to display his ignorance over at Hardball - He butchered my great congressman's name, Blumenhauer, from Portland. Then, he didn't have a clue why offering advice to patients about Living Wills is important. Yeah, Chris, only really really really old people die, eh? Having spent the last four months living around the clock with my mother, who was dying from cancer, while being aided by Hospice, I can attest to the importance of Living Wills.

Posted by: berttheclock@comcast.net on July 29, 2009 at 9:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kinda butchered that post - My mother passed away in 1989. I was with her for her last four months. However, under Kansas law, had she not had a Living Will, the state would have stepped in and she would have spent her last months lingering with tubes. But, to this day, I can not praise those Hospice nurses highly enough.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 29, 2009 at 10:02 PM | PERMALINK

Yesterday (I think) at the mid-day campaign "thingie", Steve had an item suggesting that Creigh Deeds (VA Dem candidate for Governor) was avoiding Obama -- he would not be appearing at Obama's healthcare rally in southern Virginia.

It did sound weaselly and it did gnaw at me so, today, at our Dem picnic (it stopped raining an hour before people were due! We managed to set everything up in time and without getting soaked. By the time people began to show up even the puddles were drying up. And we had almost a 100 attendees, way more than in the past. Amazing) I asked around.

It appears that the answer is fairly straightforward and not dishonorable at all. The rally was Obama's "thing", done on taxpayer's dime. For Deeds -- currently running for office -- to appear with him would have broken some financing law or rule, since it would force taxpayers to, indirectly, support Deeds' campaign. When Obama comes to Virginia to campaign for Deeds in August, it'll be on his own dime, not the taxpayers'. Or so I was told...

Posted by: exlibra on July 29, 2009 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry about your Mom, Bert :(

Posted by: MissMudd on July 29, 2009 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

When pressed, even the most right-wing lawmakers will rail against government-run health care and praise Medicare in the same breath.

I'm sick of this crap and the inability of the Dems to articulate reality. I'm increasingly of the opinion that the only way to get to Single Payer is to first kill Medicare.

Posted by: Disputo on July 29, 2009 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Landrieu's question about the 'center' on the health care reform debate is understandable, but the answer may be hard to accept.

In short, we have been very far to the right (in some sense) for a long time. First, we have a free market place which denies coverage to many people. That in itself might be seen as 'right' by Europeans, but we generally accept it as 'normal'. When you go to buy a car there are some you just can't afford. Normal. Where we go 'right' is in how little we regulate the private insurers. We let them reneg on contracts by denying coverage to someone who has been making premium payments. We let them advertise a product and then deny it to someone whom they say has a 'pre-existing condition' (as if we don't all have something). In short, we let them treat people (us) like crap. We also let them increase prices the way any capitalist company would -- as much as the market can bear. But, with health insurance that has the effect of bankrupting a lot of people and leaving others out in the cold. How unconscionable is that? It's 'right'.

The center of our traditional American thinking has been "what we're used to". The center of where we might go has to relate to the bigger 'outside of the box' view of where we COULD go.

We Americans like to be free and think big, but we've been taught to only consider a narrow range of possibilities on some things. Health care insurance and many business practices is one of those areas.

Considering the wider range of possibilities I think it's pretty centrist to believe it is simply unacceptable for people to go without insurance (and health care) just because they're poor. We provide coverage through Medicaid for those folks. What about the almost poor who still can't afford it? There are a lot of people the insurers are leaving out and employers haven't decided to cover.

Clearly there is a need to provide insurance (or at least health care) to a lot of people. We need to move a little to the Left to achieve that. Is it the Center? Eh, maybe.

How far Left should we shift?

We could try market reforms to see if the 'free market' will begin to cover everyone at reasonable prices. But, haven't we seen that tried? Hasn't the insurance biz been relentless about NOT covering anyone for whom they might have to pay out money? It is hard to imagine what kinds of reforms we could make that would push them into covering everyone. It has to be profitable for them to do it.

However, we can regulate them into treating existing customers better. That's part of the current reform legislation. That's a tiny step Left.

If anyone has better ideas about how to cover everyone, then I'd be happy to listen. The co-op is the closest try.

But, covering everyone is only one of the president's goals. We would also like to push insurers to lower (or at least restrain) their prices (before we ALL go bankrupt).

That's where the public option plan(s) comes int play. It's also the lightning rod since it's real government activism and not just regulation.

Covering more people is a good goal. Covering more people with an eye to lowering everyone's individual premiums is even better.

That's a significant step Left and it's understandable why so many people are concerned about it.

But, how else can we enroll enough people to get premium costs down?

If there's another technique or practical way to get the job done (insuring more people and pushing insurers to keep costs down), then present it. Otherwise you're back to debating the validity and urgency of the original goals. But, I don't think anyone can justify leaving people uninsured (without care) or the amazingly fast rise in health care/insurance costs or where those cost increases are going to lead us in the future. The future course must not be allowed to continue.

With no other good options we have... the 'public option'.

Posted by: MarkH on July 29, 2009 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Back from the brink of bat shit crazy

Andrew Sullivan:

My goal here is transparency and avoiding double standards. I'm sorry I got lost a little in the weeds there. And I would think it's clear enough I'm not part of the Birther crowd. I'm trying to defuse them. I'm done now.
Side note to Andrew:
The birthers are questioning the nativity creds of my president solely because he is born of a Kenya father. This isn't about transparency or a failure to proffer proof. Rather it is sheer enmity: The President isn't a Native Son he is an illegitimate son. A black bastard if you will. There is no way you can "defuse" that wickedness.
The real story here is going to be the backlash. A whole lot of Americans don't like the taste of this attack. The bile is building. The republican party bears guilt of ownership. They will pay a steep price...

Posted by: koreyel on July 29, 2009 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

the beginnings of an economic recovery

That's not possible. According to Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize in economics, the Democratic Administration and Congress have not borrowed nearly enough money for an economic recovery to occur.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on July 29, 2009 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

MarkH, you are definitely right.

The American people are getting the shaft when it comes to health care.

What puzzles me the most, is a person from another country can have medical problems, the doctors in this country pays for their airfare, provide free housing, and then donate their serves for surgery free of charge.

Yet, if an American come into the hospital with no insurance, sure, they will treat them, but, they are hounded by collection agencies/attornies, and eventually credit ruined. Why not doctors donate their services free of charge for those who truly can't pay.

I remember a pregnant lady that lives in the Cayman Islands had to receive some type of emergency medical care here in the states. She was airlifted to Florida - if the bill was ever paid, I don't know.

There was a time, people from other countries would come here just to deliver their babies. It was noted that they didn't have to pay. If true, they got 2-for-1, free medical care, and a child that's an American citizen.

I'm not saying there's something wrong with becoming a citizen this way, however, go to Europe and have a baby, the child will, in most cases, not be a European citizen.

Example, in the Cayman Islands, the only way a person is considered a citizen, is one or both parent(s) are citizens.

Posted by: annjell on July 29, 2009 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

WELL ISN'T THAT SPECIAL ?


Boston Police Officer Suspended For Calling Gates A "Jungle Monkey"

An officer in the Boston Police Department was suspended yesterday for allegedly writing a racially charged e-mail about Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. to colleagues at the National Guard, a law enforcement official said. The law enforcement official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Officer Justin Barrett referred to the black scholar as a " jungle monkey" in the letter, written in reaction to media coverage of Gates's arrest July 16. Barrett, a 36-year-old who has been on the job for two years, was stripped of his gun and badge yesterday and faces a termination hearing in the next week, said police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll. Mayor Thomas M. Menino compared the officer to a cancer and said he is "gone, g-o-n-e" from the force.
Boston Globe

The Neanderthals are coming out of the woodwork.

Posted by: Joe Friday on July 29, 2009 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Theory: there are just enough Hispanics in Nebraska to arouse the hatred and resentment of the rednecks there, but not enough Hispanics to make pandering to that resentment a losing proposition.

Posted by: kth on July 30, 2009 at 1:01 AM | PERMALINK

I received an email today from the local farmer from whom I get my produce asking me to contact my representative. It seems there are requirements in the food safety bill which will further help to eliminate the small farmer in favor of large industrial farming. Please read into the issue more and you like to get your food from smaller local sources.

Posted by: John on July 30, 2009 at 1:32 AM | PERMALINK

It seems there are requirements in the food safety bill which will further help to eliminate the small farmer in favor of large industrial farming.

There's a lot of tinfoil nonsense from otherwise sane people swirling around the inet regarding that bill. My suggestion is to read the bill and make up your own mind.

Posted by: Disputo on July 30, 2009 at 2:56 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, I glanced through some of the comments on roots website.

This should clear up some of the discrepancies. The black officer Carlos Figueroa is probably from Dominican Republic.

The myth that people have is blacks get along with blacks from the Caribbean, and blacks from African nations. This is not true.

Another myth, Latinos from the U.S. get along with Latinos from South, Central America and Mexico. This is not true.

One there is a cultural difference. Two, I heard somewhere that there's a misunderstanding with economics & livelihood - people that come to this country have the fantasy that America is the land of milk and honey, and that everyone is rich or everyone will be rich. This is not true.

Notice when you go on vacation, people assume that you are rich. The sometimes feel because you can take a vacation, you have lots of money to spend. This is not true.

Posted by: annjell on July 30, 2009 at 5:37 AM | PERMALINK

'you have lots of money to spend"

The tide may be turning on that with more and more CARE packages arriving from both Europe and Central/South America. Don't know what some of us would do without those CARE packages and our local Beijing Bank ATM machine.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 30, 2009 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

Egypt shares a border with Iran, and Alaska shares a border with Russia. Must have gone to school with Sarah Palin.

Posted by: Winkandanod on July 30, 2009 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

And finally, Fox News can't find Egypt on a map. Apparently, the network's staffers are as confused as its audience.

That is itself is shocking, but the real travesty is there are people working at Fox News who don't know where Iraq is on a map of the Middle East. The station that loved the war, but hated the details, like where the god damn country is located. It's a pretty damn good indication of where they stand on policy or even details. It's pathetic.

Posted by: ScottW on July 30, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

That's not possible. According to Paul Krugman, who won the Nobel Prize in economics, the Democratic Administration and Congress have not borrowed nearly enough money for an economic recovery to occur.

Nice to see that Marler has abandoned his feeble pretense as an honest commentator -- which was, after all, fooling no one -- and has resumed his former role as a typically bad faith Republican troll.

The economy can begin to recover without the government having spent all the money it needs to until the private sector takes over, jackass.

Posted by: Gregory on July 30, 2009 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory: The economy can begin to recover without the government having spent all the money it needs to until the private sector takes over, jackass.

You and I agree on that, but Paul Krugman has been clear and persistent in warning that the stimulus measures to date are too small. He has persistently (as I persist in writing) called for more spending and borrowing.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on July 30, 2009 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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