Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 25, 2009

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

* Iraq: "At least 10 people were reported killed Wednesday in Iraq, including four who perished in twin bombings near a revered Shiite shrine in Karbala. The other six were members of a family whose home north of Baghdad was raided overnight by suspected insurgents, according to Iraqi authorities."

* Good news on the economic front: "[T]he number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits fell below 500,000 last week for the first time since January.... The number of people filing first-time claims for jobless aid fell by 35,000 to 466,000, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That was the fewest since September of last year. And it was far better than the 500,000 economists had expected."

* More good news on the economic front: "Consumer spending ticked upward in October, the Commerce Department estimated today, a marked reversal from the month before."

* When President Obama unveils the future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, he'll do so in a speech at West Point.

* Soon after the president's remarks, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will hear directly from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

* In a bit of a surprise, support for additional troops in Afghanistan is growing, not shrinking.

* Israeli officials today approved a 10-month settlement freeze, but the exceptions to the policy make it controversial.

* The U.S. delegation to Copenhagen next month will include Al Gore.

* More lists from the White House visitor logs.

* The media gave Sarah Palin all kinds of attention last week -- more than most Americans were interested in.

* Phillip Carter resigned this week from the Defense Department after just seven months on the job. He cited "personal reasons," which by all accounts, is the truth.

* Alex Koppelman and Mike Madden have a nice overview on why the Senate leadership aren't anxious to approve health care legislation through the reconciliation process.

* One step closer to impeachment proceedings against South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R).

* If John McCain wants to talk about "viciousness" and "personalization" in political attacks, we can oblige.

* Over time, policymakers shifted their focus away from class size in K-12. The same shift is underway in higher ed.

* Of the 10 longest pieces of congressional legislation considered over the last decade, five of the bills were written by Republicans. (If the GOP were willing to consider ending the whining about the length of the health care bill, now would be a very good time.)

* For Dana Perino, maybe Bush's first term doesn't count.

* And finally, as presidential pardons for Thanksgiving turkeys go, today's was pretty amusing.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Chicago protests against Obama's war:

Monday Nov. 30, 2009
11am, Federal Plaza (Jackson and Dearborn)
Downtown Chicago

Tues, Dec 1st at 12, noon,
Please join me in going up to the offices of Senators Durbin and Burris to state our case against the surge, meet at the Argo Tea at Adams and Dearborn, across the street from the Fed Plaza at noon.

Chicago's Emergency Response action will begin at
5 PM, Wednesday, December 2nd at Federal Plaza,
corner of Adams and Dearborn Streets, Chicago, with a march to follow.

The Saturday following the surge announcement (December 5th), there will be a follow up action at Federal Plaza at 12 noon.

Protest Obama's decision to send 34k more boys and girls to die on foreign soil.

Posted by: Disputo on November 25, 2009 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

You forgot to compare Obama to Bush, say he's sold progressives out, insult Harry Reid and say NOT ONE CENT TO THE DNC unless blah blah blah. How are you going to get more page views and comments with shoddy blogging like this Steve?

Posted by: Ditka on November 25, 2009 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, Israel calls its downtime between settlement expansions a "halt". Such wonderful people, so honest.

Posted by: Bob M on November 25, 2009 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Alex Koppelman and Mike Madden have a nice overview on why the Senate leadership aren't anxious to approve health care legislation through the reconciliation process."
_____________________________________

Let me see if I understand their "nice overview" correctly, Steve. They perceive two very strong objections to reconciliation on the health care bill. First, the Senate Parliamentarian would have to agree it doesn't violate the Byrd Rule, and Reid could ignore that...but won't. Second, Republicans would object to so many key provisions in the bill.

As for one, it isn't an objection at all, since the Republicans regularly ignored the Parliamentarian during their sojourn at the front of the feeding queue in recent years. And the second...? Do we really think that going for 60 votes instead of 50 is going to make it easier to deal with the Republicans? In what version of reality is this the case?

Koppelman and Madden read like conventional Village wisdom, but like all Village wisdom, it is more revelatory of sub-cultural relationships than logic or intelligence. I'm still left wondering after their overview, just why reconciliation isn't better for this than 60 votes with endless concessions to the likes of Nelson, Landrieu--or even Snowe?

Posted by: Balakirev on November 25, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

The turkey pardon was cute -- especially the line "we have created, or saved, four turkeys."

Also, apropos of the above comments, I actually think it's nice to see antiwar progressives standing by their principles even when a Democrat is in office. Compare that to the other side: funny how we didn't see thousands of outraged teabaggers converging on Washington to protest the deficit spending and encroaching police state of George W. Bush. Interesting how that works.

Posted by: jonas on November 25, 2009 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

I've never been a fan of Senator Burris, and I've long been a fan of Senator Sanders, but both of them are on the record stating they will not vote for a healthcare bill without a Public Option or a Public Option with a bogus trigger.

Reid better start brushing up on reconciliation and get on with it.


Posted by: Joe Friday on November 25, 2009 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Next up a commission to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Posted by: Arlene McCarthy on November 25, 2009 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Politico's comment section is quite the swamp.
Say something even handed about congress, and you are all of a sudden some Obama toady. Yeeps.

Posted by: MobiusKlein on November 25, 2009 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Happy Thanksgiving Steve!

Posted by: MissMudd on November 25, 2009 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Let me see if I understand their 'nice overview' correctly..." Balakirev @ 6:34 PM.

I don't think those two words mean what you think they do...
In the context used by Mr. Benen, "nice" is not necessarily a laudatory adjective concerning the conclusions of the writers. It is used to describe how well the authors presented, not only their material, but the reasoning behind how and why they arrived at their conclusions.
I hope they are wrong, but that doesn't affect the fact that they produced an informative and well-written article.

Posted by: Doug on November 25, 2009 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Possible problem in New Zealand's published temperature record.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on November 25, 2009 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

I read the political animal nearly every day and the mini-report even more often than that it seems. Thanks Steve-In case you're not working tomorrow, although you probably are! Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by: dannyshenanigan on November 25, 2009 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

"Alex Koppelman and Mike Madden have a nice overview on why the Senate leadership aren't anxious to approve health care legislation through the reconciliation process."-Benen

What a part factual spin which ignores or better yet muddles what could be accomplished via reconciliation on HC reform.

No Mention what so ever of the idea of EXPANDING Medicare's budget to include Medicare for all. Then there would no longer be any concern for a PO, pre-existing conditions, or caps.

Kind of just left that out of the discussion...why...because it would all but eliminate private ins. profiteering... so they don't want to talk about it...but throw out a bunch of misdirection on why reconciliation with the "Byrd rules" would be so difficult etc...when it would be easier than anything else on passing true HC reform.

Thanks Salon for such an in depth dismissal of reconciliation for HC reform...it was so convenient it should make opponents of HC reform very happy.

Dana Perino is an habitual liar and should be part of the "De-Bushifying the government Project"

Haven't we all had enough of McCain after he brought us the embarrassing Palien project.

Once again Reid...threaten to introduce the expansion of the Medicare program's budget to cover Medicare for all and see how quickly senate opposition falls into line.

"Posted by: Ditka on November 25, 2009 at 6:24 PM

What horseshit ditka...that's your interpretation and petty idea of motivation...Pearls before swine I guess.

All these years later and our population still doesn't get what an utter waste of life Viet Nam was...how badly we were lied to that on his death bed Gen Westmoreland confessed it was just a war to test weapons and make money. It accomplished nothing except giving the war mongers power and wealth...and people are stupid enough to fall for it again in Afghanistan where roads and hospitals and schools built by residents is so much cheaper and does so much more good than an invading occupation will ever accomplish. The question "What does winning look like" could never be answered by McCrystal. Could you even imagine Sarah Palin in charge of any of it or McCain...or for that matter any republican. Wich we could convince Obama to stop acting like one and get more progressive advisers...ones that haven't been wrong on everything they ever proposed.

I am thankful for all that hasn't happened as much as I am for all that has.

Posted by: bjobotts on November 25, 2009 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

"on his death bed Gen Westmoreland confessed it was just a war to test weapons and make money." bjobotts on November 25, 2009 at 11:22 PM |

Hadn't heard this before, and just read 5 contemporaneous obits for WM, and 2 later reflections on the legacy of VietNam & Westmoreland's involvement, w/ no mention of this.
Where should I be looking for details, pls?
Thanx in advance & Happy Turkey to you -- and to all.
Cheers!

Posted by: smartalek on November 26, 2009 at 3:10 AM | PERMALINK

(If the GOP were willing to consider ending the whining about the length of the health care bill, now would be a very good time.)

Somehow you imagine that a bill restructuring 1/6 of the economy would be on the long side.

Posted by: bob h on November 26, 2009 at 6:25 AM | PERMALINK

The Israeli settlement freeze is Happy Horse shit. Only American politicians could be ready to swallow it. If you take a look at it, it codifies the annexation of East Jerusalem by Israel, and does nothing to halt work already approved, as well as nothing to halt infrastructure projects. Good joke, though. I expect the lapdogs in the House, Senate, and White House to suck it up, though.

Posted by: rbe1 on November 26, 2009 at 6:42 AM | PERMALINK

Must see - on BBC the hearing on the lead up to the Iraq war, the truth, of course we all know how Bush lied from the beginning, but to hear it from the British Ambassador of the time in his own words about the phone calls to him and all that went on, Why don't the US networks carry this?

Posted by: JS on November 26, 2009 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

I've been noticing that the British have begun to notice that the Iraq war may have been started based on false pretenses. Is this for real ? After all this time ? Good for laughs at any rate.

Posted by: rbe1 on November 26, 2009 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

"Phillip Carter resigned this week from the Defense Department after just seven months on the job. He cited "personal reasons," which by all accounts, is the truth."

It might be the truth but the article you linked to provides no evidence beyond Carter saying "I know you're skeptical but it really was personal reasons".

Unless you consider this to be evidence: "But I don’t think he resigned over policy differences or over professional personality conflicts."

Posted by: Larry Roberts on November 26, 2009 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

I think that the nation has every right to hold that turkey on charges of Suspicion of Deliciousness. It should be given a Habeus Turkus hearing, be allowed to meet with a court-appointed lawyer, be given a speedy trial, and, if found guilty, be immediately executed by roasting. If it can produce evidence that implies, within a reasonable doubt, lack of tenderness, it should be acquitted. I see no reason for a pardon.

Posted by: Tim H on November 26, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

"I don't think those two words mean what you think they do...
In the context used by Mr. Benen, "nice" is not necessarily a laudatory adjective concerning the conclusions of the writers. It is used to describe how well the authors presented, not only their material, but the reasoning behind how and why they arrived at their conclusions.
I hope they are wrong, but that doesn't affect the fact that they produced an informative and well-written article." -Doug
_______________________________________

Perhaps I wasn't clear enough, Doug. I don't find any overview in Koppelman and Madden's piece, just a statement of two points against reconciliation without any attempt to place them in context--a very important element arguably of any overview. Their brief comments also ignore what we could expect from any of the player groups with, and without reconciliation. In short, it isn't an overview at all, much less a "nice one," as Steve remarked. It is only a brief anti-reconciliation ad for the Broderites among us who feel a bit intimidated. That's all.

Posted by: Balakirev on November 26, 2009 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Britain Iraq war inquiry underway. Let Britain point out how they were influenced by the Bushies.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-britain-inquiry25-2009nov25,0,7457500.story

Posted by: Dave on November 26, 2009 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Very fun Mr. President. Get our troops out of Afghanistan! Now!!

Posted by: Trollop on November 26, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

And now, because nobody asked... Checking in on the HRC 2016 watch.

Ms. Clinton has completed about 10% of her first term as SoS, perhaps 5% of her total career in the office.

Thus far, I have heard a few flowery turns of phrase and the obligatory "we're so sorry" and "our partnership is strong" cliches, but nothing that suggests to me that HRC is making any moves that will produce breakthroughs in world peace.

I am willing to believe there is substantially more going on behind the scenes and diplomacy is making progress inch by inch in such a dull and plodding manner that it arouses no media attention. If this is not the case, I urge Ms. Clinton to attend more to her current duties than the posturing and avoidance of failure that she fancies a risk to her future aspirations. Eight years of treading water is, itself, a black mark, Ms. Clinton.

Get off the dime.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on November 26, 2009 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK
"And it [466,000 first-time filers for unemployment] was far better than the 500,000 economists had expected."

34,000 less than the number expected averages out to less than 700 per state. How can that be a big deal? What are they smoking?

Can we say, "Spin"?

.

Posted by: SteveGinIL on November 26, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Nothing in the minireport about the East Anglia email and data affair. Since the now released information rather thoroughly quashes the "settled science" idea, it remains to be seen what effect with this will have on Copenhagen.

Posted by: trashhauler on November 27, 2009 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK
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