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Tilting at Windmills

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September 15, 2009

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

* Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said today the recession is "very likely over," but he doesn't think the job market is going to improve anytime soon.

* Retail sales figures were stronger than expected in August.

* Vice President Biden made his third trip to Iraq this year earlier today, but while he was in the Green Zone, "three large explosions near the American Embassy shook downtown Baghdad."

* The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told the Senate Armed Services Committee today he'll likely need more troops -- and more time -- for the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Senate Republicans were pleased; Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) was not.

* U.S. support for the war in Afghanistan has reached an all-time low in the new CNN poll.

* Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) let his colleagues know today that if Republicans slow down the chamber's schedule, he'll cancel their week-long break in October.

* Reid is also unafraid, for now, of reconciliation.

* The House is debating formal criticism of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) this afternoon.

* A conservative activist brought two guns to a protest outside President Obama's event in Minnesota over the weekend.

* Muntader al-Zaidi, freed after nine months in an Iraqi jail.

* The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) would save quite a bit of money.

* Might Operation Rescue go out of business? It's apparently a distinct possibility.

* Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) isn't especially impressed with the arguments of his right-wing constituents.

* After an 83 to 7 vote, ACORN will no longer be eligible for HUD grants.

* On a related note, ACORN is considering filing suit against Fox News, Breitbart.com, and two conservative activists.

* R.I.P., Norman Borlaug. Thanks for all the lives you saved.

* As it turns out, Obama's off-the-record "jackass" comment seems to be working pretty well, politically.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Comments

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said today the recession is "very likely over," but he doesn't think the job market is going to improve anytime soon.

I luv how "recession" (and every other econ term, for that matter) is defined to include only what is important to the ruling elite.

Posted by: Disputo on September 15, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told the Senate Armed Services Committee today he'll likely need more troops -- and more time -- for the U.S. strategy is Afghanistan. Senate Republicans were pleased; Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) was not.

What, the Republicans actually LIKE an idea coming out of the adminstration.

I still want to know what the hell the endgame is supposed to be in Afghanistan. Especially in light of the widespread reports of systemtic voter fraud carried out by the Karzai gov't. Are we going to put our selves in the position of defending gov't widely perceived by its citizens to be illegimate and one that has a long record of corruption? One installed at the behest of what is increasingly seen as a occupying foreign power?

How the HELL does that in any way help US security? And how can anything good come from that?

Obama really is turning Afghanistan into his own Vietnam.

Posted by: thorin-1 on September 15, 2009 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

As bad a news breach as the off the record "leak" was, the tweeter's comment -- "THIS is presidential?" -- is worse: she apparently does not grasp the fact that what Pres. Obama does is, by definition, "presidential": he's the elected president. Her question -- which implies that somehow he's not, or he doesn't know how to be (and why, exactly, wouldn't he?) -- betrays the racism now is trying somehow, anyhow, to delegitimize him. C.f., "Joe" Wilson, others. They need to stop, take a breath, and face facts. After all, Democrats did the same for Bush in 2000, even though that ascension was neither democratic nor honest.

Posted by: SF on September 15, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said today the recession is "very likely over," but he doesn't think the job market is going to improve anytime soon.

I side with Reich on this one. The current uptick in economic activity is temporary. The banks are still ladened with toxic assets. TARP papered them over but did nothing to actually make them go away. 100s of thousands if not millions of more homes are going into foreclosure over the next 3-6 months which will collapse the remaining foundation in the derivative house of cards.

We'll be back in recession land by Janauary at the latest.

Posted by: thorin-1 on September 15, 2009 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Blackwater can rape and murder, and still get government money.

A right winger says something mean about ACORN, and they get tossed off the dole.

Tell me against of the great differences between GWB and BHO? They both look like the same slimy scumbag to me.

Posted by: soullite on September 15, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

R.I.P., Norman Borlaug. Thanks for all the lives you saved.

That's one way to look at it. Another way is to say, "Thanks for all the lives you created... which we can feed but can't sustain otherwise." Either way, he kicked Thomas Malthus's ass but good.

Posted by: Grumpy on September 15, 2009 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Obama's off-the-record "jackass" comment seems to be working pretty well, politically."

Off the record, or "off-the-record"?

Posted by: flubber on September 15, 2009 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

* Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) let his colleagues know today that if Republicans slow down the chamber's schedule, he'll cancel their week-long break in October.

"Don't make me turn this Senate around! Don't test me, I'll do it!"

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on September 15, 2009 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, told the Senate Armed Services Committee today he'll likely need more troops -- and more time -- for the U.S. strategy is Afghanistan.

Since when is playing whack-a-mole a strategy? Afghanistan was lost when the majority of our assets were pulled out and sent to Iraq. The Taliban, warlords, drug producers, and all of the others have had years to resupply, regroup and retrain.
How many more lives will be wasted in pursuit of nebulous, unrealistic goals in countries that don't want us there in the first place?

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on September 15, 2009 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Oh Noes.....if Harry is pretty sure Now that he will use reconciliation if he has to, we're f...king doomed. Harry's track record on actually doing most anything major he claims he will do in advance....ain't very reassuring.

Posted by: dweb on September 15, 2009 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

I really wish Obama would go on TV and outline what EXACTLY we're trying to accomplish in Afghanistan and put some blame on the Bush Administration. He has been terribly silent on our reasons for being there and our goals.

He really owes it to us to explain, in simple language WHY and HOW.

Soon, too.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on September 15, 2009 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

* Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said today the recession is "very likely over," but he doesn't think the job market is going to improve anytime soon. -- Steve Benen

Over for me, but not for thee? Eff thee, perfessor.

Posted by: exlibra on September 15, 2009 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Another way is to say, "Thanks for all the lives you created... which we can feed but can't sustain otherwise." Either way, he kicked Thomas Malthus's ass but good."

Did he? He didn't create any new water, and with the Green revolution, water is now in short supply. His revolution is basically using water at an unsustainable rate. When it runs out, billions will die. It's nothing more than borrowing your way out of debt. Eventually, the bill comes due. Ever do any population simulations? Usually, they overshoot their capacity and crash dramatically. Expect that to happen. A hundred years from now, the population will be around 5 billion after spiking to 10 billion. His heart was in the right place, for sure. But he really only delayed the issue. The city of Angkor was the largest and most prosperous city in the world for 500 years, but it was abandoned. Why? They ran out of water. Ground water doesn't go all the way down to the center of the earth. So if you have to keep drilling deeper wells, eventually you'll hit the bottom of the aquifer. And everywhere in the world, we are drilling deeper wells. Plants are mostly water, so water is the limit on plant growth.

Posted by: fostert on September 15, 2009 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like the House voted to Rebuke Wilson's comments..

Posted by: insanity on September 15, 2009 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

What a shame...ACORN has helped so many communities and for some senator to say the millions given them in funding has gone to fraud is just ridiculous.

2 soldiers executed 7 innocent Iraqi citizens just for fun...did this Senator stand up and say all funding for the military should be taken away? That's how ridiculous it is to remove funding from this organization because of a couple of bad apples.

Republicans have essentially removed millions in available aid to combat poverty...using ACORN as an excuse to remove aid to those in poverty.

Senators should be supplied housing and living expenses but no salaries...they'd have a very different idea on how to deal with community groups.

Posted by: bjobotts on September 15, 2009 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

We are in Afghanistan to hunt IEDs.

We are in Afghanistan to monitor hashish and opium productuion.

We are in Afghanistan so that our drones can practice hitting remote mountain targets with assorted munitions.

Heck, all of the above reasons are great if one believes in perpetuawar. Me? I think we're reaching out Vietnam moment.

Dissent is American as Apple Pie. The hawks have had their fun. It's time for us Doves to yell enough!

The Taliban is all about hatred of women, misogyny, etc.

Women all over the planet are very tired of boys killing each other and treating women as slaves or less than human.

Treat women with respect, war vaporizes.

The real reason we're in the mideast is drugs, oil, and guns. No exit anytime soon.

Prove me wrong.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on September 15, 2009 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

The Resolution of Disapproval was passed against Joe Wilson. All he really had to do was stand up in front of the House and apologize which he refused to do. Knowing republican politicians as I do I suspect Joe Wilson of ulterior motive(s). He sees his potential constituentcy as the Tea Baggers plus the rest of the fringe and wouldn't be surprised to find him declaring his candidacy for Prez in 2012. South Carolina politicians have always been a pain in the ass and nothing has changed. They, above all, really NEED healthcare.

Posted by: fillphil on September 15, 2009 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Muntader al-Zaidi is my hero.

Posted by: garnash on September 15, 2009 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Vice President Biden made his third trip to Iraq this year earlier today, but while he was in the Green Zone, "three large explosions near the American Embassy shook downtown Baghdad."

The White House will just keep sending him until they get it right.

Posted by: CJColucci on September 15, 2009 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK
Steve: "As it turns out, Obama's off-the-record 'jackass' comment seems to be working pretty well, politically."

Two thoughts:

(1) President Obama was simply stating the obvious.

(2) While it's refreshing to hear the president speak frankly about someone who's being so disagreeable, last I heard, Kanye West isn't a member of Congress.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 15, 2009 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK
fillphil: "South Carolina politicians have always been a pain in the ass and nothing has changed. They, above all, really NEED healthcare."

Funny you should say that, because I was actually thinking that they need to be quarantined.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 15, 2009 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

fillphil:

"All he really had to do was stand up in front of the House and apologize which he refused to do."

I probably don't agree with Wilson about anything, but I don't see what was so bad about what he did. Why did he have to apologize at all, even privately? There are other countries where leaders get heckled all the time in their legislatures. The House censure was absolutely ridiculous--just as much so as the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Posted by: Lee on September 15, 2009 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

garnash:

"Muntader al-Zaidi is my hero."

Ditto. He showed more courage than the entire U.S. press corps combined, including Saint Tim Russert.

Posted by: Lee on September 15, 2009 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

LEE: probably don't agree with Wilson about anything, but I don't see what was so bad about what he did. Why did he have to apologize.

You see Lee. He broke the House Rules and embarrassed his fellow members. The calling of the POTUS a "liar" is an egregious violation. Never before in our history has a member acted this way. To ignore this would set a dangerous precedent that could lead to acts like those that occur in Korea and other places. We like to think we're above that.

Posted by: fillphil on September 15, 2009 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

fillphil, forget Korea. Think instead the Parliaments of Great Britain or Australia. Oftentimes, they degenerate into fisticuffs.

Posted by: Michael W on September 15, 2009 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

e sees his potential constituentcy as the Tea Baggers plus the rest of the fringe and wouldn't be surprised to find him declaring his candidacy for Prez in 2012.

Oh, of course he'll run. Palin/Wilson 2012!

Posted by: Disputo on September 15, 2009 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

fillphil:

Ah yes, that pesky American exceptionalism. Chill out. The fact that many Americans don't have health care coverage is "egregious." What Wilson did isn't. And what's the big deal about the word "liar"? We all know virtually all politicians are liars anyway.

"Never before in our history has a member acted this way."

You should read up on the Sumner-Brooks affair. That went well beyond mere words.

Posted by: Lee on September 15, 2009 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

* Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said today the recession is "very likely over," but he doesn't think the job market is going to improve anytime soon.

Well the "RECESSION" is not over in any school system I know of so I suggest Burnache stick it up his poop chute.

Posted by: cwolf on September 15, 2009 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Didsputo:
In a political party of liars, he who speaks half-truths is king.

If only the Republicans had one. they could find better candidates than Palin/Wilson in 2012.

Posted by: anomaly on September 15, 2009 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

R.I.P., Norman Borlaug. Thanks for all the lives you saved


I have to disagree. It is harsh, but as stated above supplying more food does not solve over population. Not that I know the solution. The green revolution just made things worse.

On a personal level you feel the death of every individual. On a logical level you understand the cost associated with every birth.

Posted by: JohnK on September 15, 2009 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"I watched the speech. Joe called me up after the speech on Wednesday night, and I said, 'Joe, who's the nut that hollered out, "you lie"?'"
- Roxanne Wilson, talking about her husband, Rep. Joe Wilson, in a recent campaign video

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 15, 2009 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

"...You should read up the Sumner-Brooks affair."
Lee @ *:35 PM.
That was when Rep. Preston Brooks (Idiot-SC, I believe) beat the hell out of Charles Sumner (R-MA, if I'm correct) following an anti-slavery remark/speech by Sumner. Real brave act on the part of Brooks since he was, as I recall, twenty years younger than Sumner, who, while attempting to stand up and face Brooks, got wedged in his seat in the House chamber. It was one of those old-fashioned desks where the seat is attached to the desk; Sumner couldn't even get out of the way of the weighted cane as Brooks demonstrated the preferred method of Southern governance: beating your opponent nearly to death.
A Southern tradition that, to this day, hasn't completely died out.
Anyway, the rules of how one behaves amongst one's peers are often different from those to be followed when guests are present.

Posted by: Doug on September 15, 2009 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK
Lee: "You should read up on the Sumner-Brooks affair. That went well beyond mere words."

Boy, did it ever.

Sen. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts never really recovered from the physical beating he sustained at the hands of South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 1856. It was an ugly incident that served to heighten tensions dramatically between the northern and southern states just prior to the Civil War.

Further, Preston's attack was the catalyst for the Senate rule that no member of the House may enter onto the floor of the Senate chambers without the permission of the presiding officer of the Senate.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 15, 2009 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Open Letter to Gabrielle Giffords (BlueDog-AZ)

So you voted no to censure Joe Wilson's "YOU LIE!"
You have lost three democratic votes in the midterms. You have also earned my unrepentant scorn everywhere on the web: Bad advertising, word-of-mouth, comment posts, that sort of damning thing. Weaselly politicians like you deserve to be steeped on. I'll do my best to trod hard.

And by the way, at your next town hall...
That will be me shouting "YOU LIE!" after everything you say.

If it is good enough line for Joe Wilson in the well of the Senate at the President, it sure the hell is a good enough line for me at your town hall...

Posted by: koreyel on September 15, 2009 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

Society originates in empathy,

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327256.600-review-the-age-of-empathy-by-frans-de-waal.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

a view the Founding Fathers held from the Scottish Enlightenment, contra the social conservative's inherent thickness and savagery.

For example, scientists are learning a lot about the evolution of human social behaviour from the social carnivores whose behaviour and social organisation closely resemble that of early hominids and who show high levels of cooperation and empathy. Monkeys, cetaceans, elephants and rodents (rats and mice, at the very least) all exhibit empathy and what we might call moral intelligence.

Given all that we know about empathy in animals, why do so many persist in seeing ours as a dog-eat-dog world? De Waal chalks it up to what he calls "macho origin myths", which insist that "our species has been waging war for as long as it has been around". But humans have shown empathy for as long as we've been around too. Even if our animal brethren were as violent as some think they are, that wouldn't mean that we are as well, or that we ought to be. Such thinking suffers from the naturalistic fallacy that just because things are a certain way, that's the way they should be.

. . . . Primatologist Robert Sussman and colleagues have shown, for instance, that the vast majority of social interactions in a wide variety of monkeys are affiliative rather than agonistic or divisive.

. . . .The truth is, it's not a dog-eat-dog world after all, because dogs don't eat other dogs.

Posted by: cld on September 15, 2009 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

And here's a long article about exactly that,

happiness is catching and promotes good health, and the happy live longer, with other happy people,

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/magazine/13contagion-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine

Posted by: cld on September 15, 2009 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

The U.N. Human Rights Council released it's report on the Israeli military invasion of Gaza, focusing on last December's 32-day air and ground campaign and the obvious War Crimes committed.

The 574-page report concentrates primarily on what it calls grave breaches of the Geneva Convention by Israeli forces, including willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction of property.

From the U.N. Human Rights Council report:

"Israel deliberately targeted civilians by launching military operations against homes, factories, schools, and hospitals, in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force."
"Israeli forces committed grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in Gaza, including: willfully killing, torture or inhumane treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body and health, and extensive destruction of property."
Posted by: Joe Friday on September 15, 2009 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Jobless recovery?
Wall St profits are recovering. WTF?
--

the rich keep laughing at our expense.

Posted by: Jay in Oregon on September 16, 2009 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

.
There's never a recession on Wall Street. Just new opportunities to screw different people. Or the same people differently. They drained us dry privately, so then they switched their suction-hoses to the public side. "URP! Sorry, nothing left for you, America! Thanks for all the bonuses and stuff!"

It's easy when there's no possibility of an uprising. Or even a mild set of reforms.

Hardly news, though, eh? How 'bout some old, bold news?
.

Posted by: cosanostradamus on September 16, 2009 at 7:38 AM | PERMALINK

"U.S. support for the war in Afghanistan has reached an all-time low in the new CNN poll."

I would find such results more interesting if participation was based on the correct answers to the following:

a. What continent does Afghanistan belong to? ("Over there" is not acceptable)

b. What historical event links the US and Afghanistan?

Posted by: bob h on September 16, 2009 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK
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