Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 3, 2009

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

* The White House jobs summit has wrapped up.

* Encouraging: "First-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000, the lowest total since the week of Sept. 6, 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday. Wall Street economists expected an increase, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters."

* Deputy Attorney General David W. Ogden, who manages the day-to-day operations at the Justice Department, is stepping down in February.

* Bank of America apparently has a plan to repay all of its federal aid. That's $45 billion.

* A national Reuters poll found that nearly 60% of Americans support a public option as part of health care reform.

* Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had an unpleasant day with the Senate Banking Committee, which is considering his re-nomination. Under fire from members of both parties, Bernanke eventually conceded, "In the area where we had responsibility, the bank holding companies, we should have done more. That is a mistake we won't make again." Nevertheless, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has a hold on the nomination.

* As expected, the Mikulski amendment passed today. McCain's Medicare amendment didn't.

* Vice President Biden today called the administration's policy in Afghanistan "a clean break from the failed Afghanistan policy of the Bush administration, and a new, focused strategy that can succeed."

* On a related note, a new USA Today/Gallup poll shows a narrow majority of Americans supporting the Obama policy.

* Brown Dog Democrats -- Dems from manufacturing and coal states -- are willing to consider the climate bill, but have presented the White House with a series of conditions to consider.

* Comcast is buying NBC.

* And for what it's worth, the Comcast CEO is a big supporter of health care reform.

* Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington would like the Senate Ethics Committee to review the process of secret holds.

* MSNBC's Chris Matthews apologized last night for calling the U.S. Military Academy at West Point President Obama's "enemy camp." Matthews told viewers, "I used the wrong words and, worse than that, I said something that is just not right and for that I deeply apologize."

* What the Bushies did to the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department was a tragedy.

* Newt Gingrich, still not fact-oriented.

* Are threats against the president up this year? Perhaps not.

* I'm reminded as to why Robert Samuelson isn't worth reading.

* Another FNC journalistic ethics fiasco: "'Fox & Friends' co-host Gretchen Carlson interviewed Derek Jeter Wednesday morning -- but in the course of praising the Yankees star, she neglected to mention that her husband is his agent!"

* Beautiful speech from New York state Sen. Diane Savino (D) on marriage equality.

* And finally, Michael Rosenwald had a "great pick of the day" today: "40 years of Washington Monthly."

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

Vice President Biden admits today he doesn't know what the phrase 'clean break' means.

Posted by: doubtful on December 3, 2009 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Samuelson's oil drilling explanation is total bullshit. The US oil rig count is currently down about 700 from last year, despite more available leases. Why'd that happen? Oil prices fell, and it's cheaper to drill elsewhere. Unless Mr Samuelson is expecting oil companies to drill where it's not profitable, US oil production isn't going to rise. Want more drilling here? It won't happen until oil prices spike again. A war with Iran would accomplish that, but it wouldn't be worth the cost.

Posted by: fostert on December 3, 2009 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

What is republican Peter King playing at, it is OK for the gatecrashers not to talk to congress, but not OK for the white house social secretary to miss testifying. Is is touching that he is so transfixed with the whole subject of the president's safety. These people have been riling up their tea bagging followers to bring guns etc to town halls and upping the hate towards Obama, now his safety is the biggest concern they have? Sorry it does not ring true.

Posted by: js on December 3, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Vis unemployment: Wall Street economists expected an increase, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters."

That's how they earn their bonuses on Wall Street; by always being right.

Posted by: exlibra on December 3, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

"Bank of America apparently has a plan to repay all of its federal aid. That's $45 billion."

$45 billion isn't hard to make when you jack cardholder interest rates to 30% (among other things).

Posted by: bdop4 on December 3, 2009 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Got a questionaire in the mail today from Newt Gingrich, what a load of rubbish, all the questions were really pathetic, like
Do you support Obama's radical agenda of appointing
activists to the supreme court.
Do you support Obama's plan to impose the largest tax increases ever.
Do you support Obama's plan to ration healthcare in a massive takeover of the healthcare of the country.
The list goes on & on - I wrote an answer and rebutted every point and told him that if the repubs keep spreading lies like this they will soon be extinct.

Posted by: Joan on December 3, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

"Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington would like the Senate Ethics Committee to review the process of secret holds."

Can someone explain to me the rationale for this policy, other than to avoid catching huge quantities of shit from other senators and constituents?

Posted by: bdop4 on December 3, 2009 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

I recently recieved a questionnaire from the Heritage Foundation that was very similar to the one Joan mentioned from Gingrich. Every question was loaded and at the end they asked for money. I too, gave them my opinion of their questions and I doubt I'll be getting anymore.

Posted by: maggie on December 3, 2009 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

For Bank of America to repay the TARP, Bernanke must have bought all their toxic assets at face value. There is no way they would have the capital to repay otherwise, even with the stock dilution.

Posted by: montag on December 3, 2009 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

"First-time clains for unemployment insurance dropped by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000, the lowest total since the week of Sept. 6, 2008..."

What is a typical number of first-time claims in a reasonably strong economy? I have no context for this figure, other than that it is the best performance in over a year.

Posted by: KTinOhio on December 3, 2009 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Is the Comcast CEO a bigger supporter of Rachael Maddow? And MSNBC in general? That worries me.

Posted by: JWK on December 3, 2009 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

"The White House jobs summit has wrapped up."

During which, Bob Iger, President & CEO of Disney, the parent company of ABC News, suggested LOWERING THE CORPORATE FEDERAL INCOME TAX RATE, which he claimed would help create jobs.

Nevermind that it's never happened, and just a reminder that according to the GAO, American corporations pay little or no federal income taxes NOW:

MORE THAN TWO-THIRDS OF CORPORATIONS PAY NO TAXES

~~~~~~~

STUDY SAYS MOST CORPORATIONS PAY NO U.S. INCOME TAXES


Can RightWingers ACTUALLY be THAT STOOPID ???

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 3, 2009 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

Since this is an open thread, I am pasting my comment to the Al Franken blog from early this morning regarding his amendment that passed, over the objection of 10 male Republicans:
"Probably too late for a comment, but I'll make one anyway: Ask the esteemed senators to put the questions to their wives/significunt others(or mistresses). How would you vote if it were me that was gang raped? Would it make a difference if the rapists were of another political persuasion? One of your corporate sponsors?

Might produce some interesting results.

Posted by st john at December 3, 2009 6:55 PM"

Posted by: st john on December 3, 2009 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

well now here's a funny thing.

Washington Monthly College Guide, December 2, 2009:

Student Lending Bill Unlikely in 2009

Washington Monthly, April 25, 2009: MAKING STUDENT LOAN REFORM POSSIBLE....

This should be a no-brainer. The student-loan industry is getting government subsidies to provide a service the government can perform for less. Obama can remove the middle-man, streamline the process, save taxpayers a lot money, and help more young people get college degrees. [...] This week, the president found a way to go around Nelson. Here's hoping it's not the last time.

Yeah, so, that worked out well, didn't it. Hate to see what will happen on a "brainer" issue. Oh wait.

Posted by: tatere on December 3, 2009 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I just had a flash of insight based on an earlier item about the question in the 1992 presidential election about how the national debt had affected the candidates' personal lives.

I bet that people think the "national debt" and/or "the deficit" means "the total money _Americans_ owe." Not "the total money _the American government_ owes." And that's why polls suggest that people care about "the deficit."

Who's with me?

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 3, 2009 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

* A national Reuters poll found that nearly 60% of Americans support a public option as part of health care reform.

And yet every single time I hear a repub senator open his mouth on the Senate floor, the claim is made that the American public has rejected not only the public option, but the "Democrat health care plan". Shouldn't these people be censured for lying?

Posted by: Hmmmm on December 3, 2009 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Senator=You Lie!

Posted by: st john on December 3, 2009 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

every single time I hear a repub senator open his mouth on the Senate floor, the claim is made that the American public has rejected not only the public option, but the "Democrat health care plan"

What they mean is that if the public really supported a public option, they would be willing to bribe me more than the insurance companies.

Posted by: qwerty on December 3, 2009 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Yes indeed, 'Corporate Slave State America has the highest corporate tax rate on the planet!' This is the new mantra of the ReichWing propagandists. Well, they do leave out the apt descriptor 'Slave' but this is all over NPR, Press the Meat, and all points MSM.

No one ever discusses what the effective tax rate is.....

And for good reason, as Joe Friday almost gets right. Where Joe misses the boat, and I do not mean to be too picky as Joe's post is accurate and to the point, is where he ascribes this misinformation to 'stupidity'. It is far from it. Most folks do no analysis of what they hear. It just comes in the ear hole and sinks in. The lies are here to stay. Ask any psychologist or social scientist.

It's a serious problem in our society when folks are fed a steady diet of NOTHING BUT LIES!

This one about the poor overtaxed corps is just the latest.


Posted by: A.Citizen on December 3, 2009 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Bernanke re-appointment being held up by Republicans and an Independent.


Man, the Democrats are presiding over the biggest hammering of the Middle Class EVER, and they wont stop it. So did Rahm redefine "helping the middle class" as getting Wall St banksters multi million dollar bonuses or what?

2010 and 2012 are going to be Democratic blood baths.

Posted by: Glen on December 3, 2009 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama wants a real clean break from GWB's Afghan policy, he needs to stop listening to people who are experts at killing people, and start listening to people who are experts at economic development.

Posted by: Disputo on December 3, 2009 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

"First-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 457,000, the lowest total since the week of Sept. 6, 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday. Wall Street economists expected an increase, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters."

Next month that figure will be revised upward without fanfare.

Posted by: Disputo on December 3, 2009 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Most folks do no analysis of what they hear. --A.Citizen, @21:49

Often, because they trust the source of their misinformation. I just recently sent a snopes-rebuttal to an acquaintance, after she forwarded a message -- which "smelled" like a barrel of rotting fish -- with an exasperated question: "have you got it directly from La Palin?" Her -- quite stricken -- response was "My God! It never occurred to me to check, because the sender is a dear friend *and* a good Dem!"

Posted by: exlibra on December 3, 2009 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Vice President Biden today called the administration's policy in Afghanistan "a clean break from the failed Afghanistan policy of the Bush administration, and a new, focused strategy that can succeed."

And the sun will rise in the west tomorrow after the tooth fairy leaves you a million dollars under your pillow.

Biden has his head up his ass, but it's nothing the rest of them aren't doing too.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 3, 2009 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: gift ideas on December 4, 2009 at 4:27 AM | PERMALINK

Just thought I'd try out some anti-climate-change logic: since unemployment went down this past month, this means that the recession was a democrat-liberal- black-loving- gay-loving-left-wing-anti-American conspiracy.

Posted by: rbe1 on December 4, 2009 at 4:48 AM | PERMALINK

Go Bernie! One of the few real progressives in the bunch ...

Posted by: neil b on December 4, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

"And for what it's worth, the Comcast CEO is a big supporter of health care reform."

I read the article and I don't know what to think considering the page I use to access my Comcast account is almost entirely news from Fox News. I always figured the Comcast folks were stark republicans, but this perplexes me, any thoughts ?

Posted by: ScottW on December 4, 2009 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK
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