Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 26, 2009

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

* The twin car bombs in Baghdad yesterday were simply devastating. "Unlike the carnage unleashed by attacks in crowded mosques, restaurants and markets, aimed at igniting sectarian strife, these blasts appeared to rely on a distinctly political logic."

* As of this afternoon, the bomb blasts had killed as many 155 people, with more than 500 wounded and an unknown number still missing.

* Two helicopter crashes in Afghanistan today killed at least 14 Americans.

* President Obama spoke to a military audience in Jacksonville, Fla., today, defending his Afghanistan timetable. He said he would not "rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm's way.... I won't risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary. And if it is necessary, we will back you up to the hilt."

* Saturday, President Obama declared H1N1 flu a national emergency, which in turn "clears the way for his health chief to give hospitals wider leeway in how they handle a possible surge of new patients."

* There are too many institutions that are too big to fail. Policymakers are poised to consider solutions to the problem.

* Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a strong supporter of a public option, is satisfied with the opt-out compromise.

* On a related note, A.L. has an interesting item about the larger political implications of the opt-out approach.

* The newspaper industry is in very, very deep trouble.

* CNN should not be slipping into fourth place in primetime among the cable news networks.

* Forcing women to pay higher health care premiums than men, based on nothing but gender, is crazy.

* First they came for the multibillion-dollar media companies...

* Why, oh why, can't Dawn Johnsen's nomination to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel come up for a vote?

* If government-run health care is such a tragic mistake, these 55 Republicans should stop taking advantage of Medicare immediately.

* Before the controversy over Treasury "snubbing" Fox News goes away completely, Fox News is contesting the administration's version of events, and the White House is pushing back against the pushback.

* Fred Hiatt doesn't like the public option. Peter Orszag isn't impressed with Hiatt's argument. Neither is publius.

* Malkin takes cheap shots at the Axelrod family. Classy.

* Roland Burris should probably brush up on some governmental details before the next Senate hearing.

* Jane Hall, associate professor in the School of Communication at American University, felt compelled to leave Fox News after 11 years as a contributor in part because of Glenn Beck's insanity.

* Guess how much the Republican National Committee's silly new website cost. A whopping $1.4 million -- five times more the DNC's redesigned site. I'm afraid the RNC didn't get its money's worth.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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

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Comments

$1.4 million?
sweet jeebus!
the dot com bubble never did pop fer them thar Repugnants...or whoever suckered them...

Posted by: neill on October 26, 2009 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Saturday, President Obama declared H1N1 flu a national emergency, which in turn "clears the way for his health chief to give hospitals wider leeway in how they handle a possible surge of new patients."

Apropos 'health chief'. Any signs the R's might be inclined to speed up the confirmation of one Regina Benjamin? Having a Surgeon General in place might be kind of helpful in the current situation, No?

Posted by: SRW1 on October 26, 2009 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

$1.4 million for a web site??? It's funny to see Republicans fleecing themselves.

They're so paranoid they probably paid $1.3 million on cybersecurity. The money certainly didn't go into upgrading the content.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 26, 2009 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

"Guess how much the Republican National Committee's silly new website cost. A whopping $1.4 million -- five times more the DNC's redesigned site. I'm afraid the RNC didn't get its money's worth."

No, but it was worth every penny !

Posted by: Joe Friday on October 26, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Guess how much the Republican National Committee's silly new website cost. A whopping $1.4 million -- five times more the DNC's redesigned site. I'm afraid the RNC didn't get its money's worth

I'm guessing $1.3 went to the company CEO. Free Market, Baby. Free Market.

Posted by: martin on October 26, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Roland Burris should probably brush up on some governmental details before the next Senate hearing.

Yeah, it's always educational watching a couple racist white boys like David Weigel and Steve Benen mock the speech patterns of the only African-American in the Senate.

You effs aren't even trying to pretend anymore, are you?

Posted by: Disputo on October 26, 2009 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

During Sunday's Meet the Press, David Gregory was telling Erin Burnett (talk about your Dumb & Dumber), that the federal deficit "has gone up dramatically since the president [Obama] came into office".

A chart then displayed on the screen showed a previous $1.2 trillion deficit and the current $1.4 trillion deficit.

By what possible metric is that a DRAMATIC increase compared to the doubling of the federal debt by more than $5 trillion over the previous 8 years ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on October 26, 2009 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Guess how much the Republican National Committee's silly new website cost. A whopping $1.4 million -- five times more the DNC's redesigned site. I'm afraid the RNC didn't get its money's worth."

This from the folks who paint themselves as fiscally responsible?

Posted by: Sister A on October 26, 2009 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

Why shouldn't CNN be in fourth place? They certainly suck hard enough. Should we follow up on that story? Oops. Guess we've got to leave it there.

Posted by: Cazart on October 26, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised that Ron Paul is on the list of 55 Repubs who are suckling at the "poor" public health care teat.

Posted by: Former Dan on October 26, 2009 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

I was all set to say exactly what Cazart just said so ... dittos. CNN sucks like a black hole (as a network) -- why shouldn't it fail? It ought to. Buh-bye, and don't let the screendoor hit your a$$ on the way out.

"CNN -- Too Big To Fail?"

Posted by: Rob on October 26, 2009 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

* There are too many institutions that are too big to fail. Policymakers are poised to consider solutions to the problem.

My humble suggestion:

If a corporations declares bankruptcy, or if it requires a federal bailout, then the CEO, the Board of Directors and the next two levels of executives must pay back all but $300,000 of the compensation they've received over the previous three years.


Posted by: SteveT on October 26, 2009 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

Just because Steele, Burris, Inhofe, Palin and Bachmann are all black women, it doesn't make me a racist misogynist to say that they're all incoherent dimwits as well.

Posted by: exlibra on October 26, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

love Orzag's brutal shot at Hiatt about "for readers who have not read their Washington Post for a couple of weeks. . . " Ouch.

Cazart, the reason CNN shouldn't be in 4th is that it is, whether successful or not, the only net attempting, or at least billing itself, as offering "hard" news rather than features (HLN) or opinions (MSNBC/Faux) in prime time. It is rather sad in a democracy that the masses appear to want (a) to seek out validation of their positions rather than reporting and (b) seem to reward those who yell the loudest with the least content (Faux). The result becomes a self-reinforcing polarization not just of opinions, but (per studies on Faux viewers) of the underlying facts.

Personally, I find that very problematic, even as I admittedly contribute to the problem by watching MSNBC in the evenings. But then again I seek out many sources throughout the day for the underlying facts.

Posted by: zeitgeist on October 26, 2009 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

cnn.com is my home page and yesterday - Sunday - they had a lead article about whether Obama is going to be "a Reagan or a Carter". The man has been in office eight months - and given the problems he's inherited - the assholes at cnn.com are trying to tear him down already!

Does anyone here have a better home page than cnn.com? Something that gives US/World news and weather?

Let me know. I'm getting really sick of cnn.com...

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on October 26, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

"CNN ... is, whether successful or not, the only net attempting, or at least billing itself, as offering "hard" news rather than features (HLN) or opinions (MSNBC/Faux) in prime time"

They've got us trained! We're cocaine-addicted hamsters, pressing-pressing-pressing that bar, getting naught but "Mad Men Set Is All About Detail" for our efforts. (Also, no cocaine.)

I hate them. If you want news, it's the News Hour. End of story. Jim Lehrer still delivers the goods. So to speak.

Posted by: Cazart on October 26, 2009 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK


An idea that deserves some exposure:

Hiring lawyers to investigate Wall St.

"What kind of legal talent might be assembled to bring today's robber barons to justice if even a third of this country's 300 million people ponied up just $1 to fund such an effort?

That's $100 million to bore deeply into banking and securities regulations to find a way to get the so-called wizards of Wall Street into court, and to do whatever else might be necessary to hold them accountable for our tanked 401(k)s, for the jobs we've lost or are barely hanging on to, and for the mortgaging of our children's future, and their children's future."

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/102509/opi_508629408.shtml

Posted by: anomaly on October 26, 2009 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Johnsen and Benjamin and all the other Obama appointees awaiting confirmation need to get those up-or-down votes the Rethugs were screaming that they were being denied not too long ago (which wasn't exactly true). Why are Reid and the Dems putting up with this garbage?

Posted by: Me on October 26, 2009 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

...and Michael Steele's vaunted blog "What Up/Change the Game" still has only one post -- the first one, dated 10/13. Two names, one post: not the best ratio. Yet another Steele embarrassment.

Posted by: jvwalt on October 26, 2009 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Big Brother sez:

Failure is Success!

Problem solved.

Posted by: anomaly on October 26, 2009 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

To illustrate how small cable news ratings are: A show an Cartoon Network, the Venture Brothers, got 450K viewers. Well 450K viewers, male 18-34. On a Sunday, at midnight. And that's double prime time ratings at CNN and MSNBC.

Posted by: Rob on October 26, 2009 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a hardcore Liberal and Obama supporter to the T...But i hate the opt-out option by states because it still will leave millions without health insurance including me. I live in Texas, a freakin' Red State...Rick Perry is gonna opt-out and screw us in Houston.

Posted by: wockeezy1 on October 26, 2009 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

-wockeezy1-
I'm in dallas & shaking in my boots about how hard gov-good hair is gonna give it to us.
He's already stripped out the additional unemployment benefits, chip & pushed wic out of reach for those who are working poor.
I wish KBH wins, only because the state is too redtarded to vote in a dem.
I too am a hard core lib/progressive, but most of my fellow campaign supporters have lost their steam or faith in O.

Posted by: vwmeggs on October 26, 2009 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

Copy of Dreamweaver CS4: $399.00
One year site hosting: $76.00
Using the two to fleece the Republicans for $1.4 million: priceless!

Posted by: Dennis-SGMM on October 26, 2009 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

The opt-out plan dovetails with a notion I've been considering: a voluntary sub-federation of states willing to self-tax and implement programs for growth, environment, research, transportation and health that are consistently blocked at the federal level in the Senate by low-population conservative states. The opt-out plant is a back-door approach to the same end. Let them forgo, rather than block. Watch the regional differences in education and productivity accelerate.

Posted by: Jon on October 26, 2009 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

>"Forcing women to pay higher health care premiums than men, based on nothing but gender, is crazy."

Eh? Why would you say that?

Is forcing young men to pay higher car insurance premiums than women, based on nothing but gender crazy?

Hint: Neither are really 'crazy'... insurance premiums are based on the risk carried by a particular demographic group. The only way to avoid this is have everyone in a huge 'flat-rate' pool.

In a flat pool some people (low risk) will pay more than their share, others (high risk) will pay less than their share.

Posted by: Buford on October 26, 2009 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Women should pay higher rates. They can have babies. Plus they have vaginas, which break down at a greater rate then penises.

Is it unfair? No more so than charging higher rates to males under the age of 25 for car insurance. If you don't like it, community rate across all categories (including pre-existing conditions) or STFU. Private insurance is not about being fair.

--

Speaking of being fair, Rob, a single episode of Venture Bros. is more entertaining than anything CNN has run in the past 20 years.

Posted by: inkadu on October 26, 2009 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK
CNN ... is, whether successful or not, the only net attempting, or at least billing itself, as offering "hard" news rather than features (HLN) or opinions (MSNBC/Faux) in prime time

The real key is whether their ratings suck because they're claiming to offer hard news or because they really, really suck at it? The article that was linked drew an unjustified conclusion, in my opinion, at least based on the facts available.

Posted by: PaulB on October 26, 2009 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

"The real key is whether their ratings suck because they're claiming to offer hard news or because they really, really suck at it?"


It's because they really, really suck at it. They don't actually provide much more information than MSNBC while subjecting you to too much right wing BS that you can already get from FOX.

If CNN had put up a fight when FOX first got going and kept thing straight down the middle instead of adopting the phony equivalence that treats everything conservatives say as valid no matter how crazy of deceitful it is, they would cemented themselves as the alternative to FOX and left MSNBC to whither on the vine.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on October 26, 2009 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

MBunge, I'd love to think you are correct. I'd be fine with people rejecting CNN because they suck. But I have trouble believing that is the problem because, lets face it, HLN and Faux suck worse. (If I never hear or see Nancy Grace again in this life. . . )

I believe the truth is more problematic: that even if CNN provided the best damned straight reported news ever - the kind to make Murrow and Cronkite green with envy - I suspect more people would watch Faux and MSNBC. Sheeple want to be told how to think; people want their emotional buttons manipulated, which is antithetical to good news journalism. People want conflict and tension, and a pep rally for their "side." I fear we've dumbed down to the point where there just isn't much market for traditional journalism.

As Rachel would say, talk me down.

Posted by: zeitgeist on October 27, 2009 at 1:33 AM | PERMALINK

Malkin = Trollop, takes one to know one!

Posted by: Trollopy Goodness on October 27, 2009 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

first, cnn has lou dobbs. are you really going to count him among the non-opinion section? It undermines any notion that cnn is doing straight news.

when i watch cnn i dont find it particularly educational. i might learn that something happened but beyond that i dont learn enough real background about it and i dont learn any of the truths that relate to it. i simply seem to hear very light fluff that doesnt tell me much or i hear typical balanced stuff. cnn isnt hard hitting and the quality doesnt draw viewers.

Posted by: The Gaucho Politico on October 27, 2009 at 4:26 AM | PERMALINK

RE FRED HIATT

"Single-payer national health insurance may be the best outcome, but we should get there after an honest debate, not through the back door."

With all due respect, on what planet has Hiatt been living the past 9 months? An honest debate on healthcare cannot happen while there is so much misinformation and disinformation being disseminated by the insurance industry and its Republican and "moderate" Democratic allies. The tea parties showed how easily many on the right are manipulated. It also proved that opposition politics and protecting vested interests is all that matters to 198 house Republicans and 48 (or 49 depending on the forecast for Snowe) Senate Republicans.

Moreover, the debate from Congressional Democrats has been, by and large, an honest one. Most acknowledge a public option would draw customers from private insurance. It is a major reason so many Southern Democrats are against one. The Republicans have said as much. Both groups couch the prospect of Government undercutting private insurers as a bad thing yet the public option still enjoys majority support in public polls. That's probably as honest as you're ever going to get.

Competition brings down prices - it also creates winners and losers. If it makes Hiatt uncomfortable that a public option may put private insurance companies out of business, think about all those foregone tax dollars from insurance deductibility that went toward industry profits (or outrageous revenue over expenses for the "non-profit" companies). Or, think about the 50 million uninsured. In my region the CEO of the local healthcare "non-profit" is routinely among the top 10 highest paid executives (and we have 2 fortune 500 headquarters here). My heart bleeds for him.

The US has a history of creating regulated monopolies - think electric utilities - when other countries created government run systems. Both are legitimate depending on the underlying circumstances. Rural electrification in the south would have been impossible in the 1930s without government interventions like Tennessee Valley Authority and others.

Moreover, the experience from Medicare suggests the government can run a large, public plan efficiently and with a lower cost curve than private insurance. Lost in the Medicare issue is that it serves the most expensive, sickest group of Americans - the elderly and disabled. How much more would it cost if private insurers covered the elderly?

Lastly, even if Hiatt's hypothetical worst case situation comes to pass, there's still room for private insurance. The Swiss have highly regulated, private, non profit, basic plans. However, most Swiss also purchase add on insurance from for profit subsidiaries of the major insurers. It is possible that this model, or some version of it, could evolve from the present situation.

A word of advice: Expect Santa to come by the end of the year before expecting an honest debate on healthcare.

Posted by: Bob on October 27, 2009 at 6:57 AM | PERMALINK

An honest debate on healthcare cannot happen while there is so much misinformation and disinformation being disseminated by the insurance industry and its Republican and "moderate" Democratic allies.

Not to mention the Op-Ed page of the Washington Post.

Posted by: Gregory on October 27, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK
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