Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 23, 2009

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

* The Senate shot down a Republican filibuster of health care reform this afternoon, the last hurdle before an up-or-down vote on the bill. The vote was 60 to 39, with Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) skipping the proceedings for an undetermined reason.

* Tomorrow morning's Senate vote has been moved from 8 a.m. (ET) to 7 a.m. (ET), to help senators avoid winter storms. The vote will be the first held on Christmas Eve since 1895.

* Democrats made one last attempt to have the vote today instead of tomorrow. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) refused.

* Good economic news: "Personal incomes rose in November at the fastest pace in six months while spending posted a second straight increase, raising hopes that that the recovery from the nation's deep recession might be gaining momentum."

* Bad economic news: Purchases of new homes in the U.S. unexpectedly fell last month, indicating a recovery from the worst housing slump since the Great Depression will be slow to develop.

* At this rate, Gitmo may never close.

* Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, denounced the Senate health care reform bill today, saying it should be scrapped and lawmakers should start over. Slaughter did not, however, rule out voting for the final reform bill.

* As part of a Republican attack on health care reform today, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) read a post from FireDogLake on the Senate floor.

* On a related note, progressives are only invited onto "Fox & Friends" for two reasons: 1) to be used as a punching bag; or 2) to be used to undermine the Democratic policy agenda. There is no third reason.

* Excise tax vs. wealthy surcharge? Ezra makes the case for the former.

* A counter-intuitive new CNN poll found that Americans, simultaneously, approve of the escalation of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and oppose the war itself.

* ACORN seems to be having a good month: "The controversial community organizing group Acorn has not broken any laws in the last five years, according to a Congrssional Research Service report released Tuesday evening."

* Nate Silver makes the case for Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee being the 2009 Democrat of the Year.

* And Newt Gingrich believes a Republican takeover of the House could make Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) a committee chair, despite her being stark raving mad. It's the kind threat that might help motivate the Democratic base a bit.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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* Democrats made one last attempt to have the vote today instead of tomorrow. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) refused.

Well, yeah. It'd be a shame if his wife expected him home tonight seeing as how the DC hooker for this evening has already been paid for.

Posted by: zeitgeist on December 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK
On a related note, progressives are only invited onto "Fox & Friends" for two reasons: 1) to be used as a punching bag; or 2) to be used to undermine the Democratic policy agenda. There is no third reason.

Jane was supporting policies that 1) are supported by most Democratic voters 2) were campaigned on by the President and 3) and was in the 2008 platform.

How is that undermining the "Democratic policy agenda"? I'd say that ship has already sailed.

Posted by: David Kaib on December 23, 2009 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

"The vote was 60 to 39, with Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) skipping the proceedings for an undetermined reason."

Another victim of "friendly fire" prayers for illness, no doubt.

Posted by: petorado on December 23, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

* Good economic news: "Personal incomes rose in November at the fastest pace in six months [...]

*Whose* personal incomes? Not mine, not my neighbours', not anyone's in my family... It's like that old joke about Bill Gates being in a bar, with 5 other guys and their average income is in millions. But, let Gates leave and, poof! The average income is, suddenly, in tens of thousands. Take the CIGNA CEO (and others such) out of the equation...

And petorado (@17:51) stole my joke; I shall pout and whine.

Posted by: exlibra on December 23, 2009 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

@David Kaib Jane Hamsher's joint effort with Grover Norquist makes perfectly clear that she is more interested in promoting her agenda than working to get as much as the Democratic platform enacted into law over the rest of Barack Obama's presidency.

Posted by: CMB on December 23, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

What David said above. Imagine how much of a political winner this bill is, if both bases are united against it. I think the damned thing better move left and fast, or it will kill the Democratic party. The whole mandate thing will make death panels seem like a reasonable disagreement. I hate it when we give Republicans an issue which makes it appear they support the common man. Republicans have torched individual freedom, rights and prosperity for more than a century; I hate that the leadership allowed itself to fine Joe the Plumber. We need to fix the obvious loser parts of the bill. I am grateful for some of the fixes thus far. But man, we haven't seen 24/7 tea-bagging like will come of the heels of fines and failures. . .

Posted by: Sparko on December 23, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Remember this Hamsher piece: Democrats Don't Let Democrats do Fox?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jane-hamsher/democrats-dont-let-democr_b_85116.html

Posted by: CMB on December 23, 2009 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I have total sympathy for those who recognize the Dem leadership has sold us out to big biz. But they must have incredibly short memories to help the Republicans -- who are simply downright evil.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on December 23, 2009 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Can it be true that Ms Shit-4-brains Bachmann stands a chance of reelection? Can this possibly be the SAME Minnesota that elected Al Franken?

Posted by: Chopin on December 23, 2009 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

"And Newt Gingrich believes a Republican takeover of the House could make Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) a committee chair, despite her being stark raving mad. It's the kind threat that might help motivate the Democratic base a bit."-Benen

Progressive anger and frustration is so totally misguided according to many of the comments I've been reading on progressive sites and hearing from Thom Hartman and Ed Shultz when it comes to HC reform all threatening huge republican wins come election time when just the opposite should be true.

The public will be outraged at those who obstructed HC reform not those who tried to make it a reality. We will be committed to getting rid of those who did nothing for the people on HC and have no intention of doing so.
\
We also will be outraged at those (all republicans) who voted against any kind of regulation of wall street or the financial industry...as well as those same people who are doing nothing, not even trying, to engage a new energy policy.

Why do these goobers keep insisting if they don't get their way they will bring back the very ones who will make sure they will not get their way and without any compromise. The very ones who brought us our current disaster and are stupid enough to continue taking us right over that cliff with a spending freeze during a recession-almost-depression "they" caused with all their deregulation.

Are you stupid or what...yeah I'm talking to you Hartman and Schultz. The public outrage will be directed toward those who are Obstructing progress...not those who are at least trying to bring change we believe in. Yet you are putting the idea into the minds of listeners and readers that we should punish the dem party...why?...because of a handful of bought and bribed dems voting against the dem agenda?

Were it not for the senate filibuster we would have already passed a good HC reform bill...we have 51 dem senators who would have made sure of it. Direct your anger toward the senate rules and those obstructionists...not the entire dem party...and my god man, just read the differences between the dem platform and the repub platform before threatening to put repubs back in power...please just recall the past 8yrs if need be because the repubs have not changed one bit offering nothing new at all, no new policies or even new ideas...they will just finish turning us into a corporatocracy and driving our democracy over a cliff

Just imagine a Palin presidency or Michelle Backmann as Speaker of the house...turn your rage to those who deserve it, not those who are trying to make a difference...turn your anger toward the senate rules that make it possible for 1 or 2 people to ruin legislation. You would have to be an idiot to vote for repubs just because HC reform didn't get passed...especially when the majority tried so very hard to get a good bill passed but an abused senate rule ruined it.

TRY putting the idea out there that we need more and better dems not that we must punish the entire dem party and vote repubs or threaten that others will do so when it is directly against their self interests. And if repubvs are reading from progressive blogs on the senate or house floors those blogs must finsh their posts with..."but no matter what, they are still better than those worthless anti-American repubs."

Posted by: bjobotts on December 23, 2009 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

The Afghanistan result isn't really counter-intuitive. If you asked me the same questions, I would answer in the same way. I'm opposed to the war, I want it to end, and I think that a troop increase is the best way to finish what we started.

Posted by: Steve Simitzis on December 23, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Michele "McCarthy" Bachmann with even MORE power!??!! I think not. As a Minnesotan, I'm so ashamed of her. And very proud of Al Franken.

Posted by: Athena on December 23, 2009 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Americans are for troop increases in Afg. but are against the war itself.

I guess most people feel that we need to just Git 'er done over there then leave.

What exactly constitutes git er done is beyond me, but hey, who am I?

One of these days this country will grow out of the old "Murica kicks ass!" mentality.

I hope.

Posted by: citizen_pain on December 23, 2009 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

* As part of a Republican attack on health care reform today, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) read a post from FireDogLake on the Senate floor.

And her figures were correct, too. Doesn't matter whether it's sleazy hacks like Hatch or policy pros like Hamsher, if the bill stinks, it should be buried and reconciliation started up.

Posted by: Balakirev on December 23, 2009 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

What exactly constitutes git er done is beyond me, but hey, who am I?
Posted by: citizen_pain

Seems to me that leaving is getting her done. It's the way we got Vietnam done. It's mostly the way we got Iraq done. Not going in in the first place would get 'er done even quicker!

Posted by: Dale on December 23, 2009 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

Is this site now called the Washington Rahmly?

Posted by: Dale on December 23, 2009 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

* On a related note, progressives are only invited onto "Fox & Friends" for two reasons: 1) to be used as a punching bag; or 2) to be used to undermine the Democratic policy agenda. There is no third reason.

Those are Fox's reasons. Jane had her own strong agenda and that was one way to put pressure on Obama and his Rahmian Brotherhood.

Posted by: Dale on December 23, 2009 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK

I've always considered Jane Hamsher to be a smart and gutsy lady, but I'm off the bus on this one. Unless she really *likes* being a tool and a pawn for the Republican machine, I would prefer that she dial back the outrage and start working on improving the bill after it gets passed rather than trying to torch the whole thing and leave the country with no improvements at all.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on December 23, 2009 at 8:23 PM | PERMALINK

Dale you catching a buzz tonight or what?

Either way, eventually we'll leave our present occupations, regroup, forget, and start some new ones.

That's how the industry exists.

We were warned.

Posted by: citizen_pain on December 23, 2009 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

What deeply disturbs is that as brilliant as the likes of Chris Hayes is as Lawrence O'Donnell interviews him tonight about Sarah Palin spreading more horrific lies about the health care plan (death panels) is that he's almost too brilliant..and yet there is no taking time to educate what the real truth is...

Hayes sits back and chuckles and says he loves how she does all this just vis a vi facebook..blah, blah...

Oh yeah? Well I got news you, for Mr. Intellectual..
It's Working!!!!!

Where is our equivalent of a Sarah Palin? Where do we get a facebook page that everyone can't wait to log onto--where we explain how and why using the term is so debase...

Richard Wolfe touched upon this last night on the show when he said calling the Republicans "Obstructionists" is too kind..that they are not just the party of NO, their the party that absolutely and completely abhors Obama, is so threatened this black man with a Muslim name won the Presidency, won all those red states, all those southern states...this man with an amazing vision that scares the hell out of them..they need to make him into some bizarre horrific evil
person..

I'm so tired of all this smart ass, self-import talk where we sit back and laugh about how stupid Palin and Bachmann are..it's so disempowering..

I want to know what are we doing to lash back? We can't let these lies just fester..we know how they grow and multiply within moments...

We need to fight back NOW!

Posted by: Insanity on December 23, 2009 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Come all ye faithful...

Doesn't matter whether it's sleazy hacks like Hatch or policy pros like Hamsher, if the bill stinks, it should be buried and reconciliation started up.

The Hamster clan's faith in reconciliation is like the right's denial of global warming.

Fact: The ice caps are going soft and melting.
Fact: The Senate is controlled by corporations with hard filibusters on their side.
Yes these are two inconvenient facts. But hard, dumb, rude facts nonetheless.

The only way I'd support the lunacy of "Kill bill. Kill bill," is if Jane and friends would agree to bus themselves to DC and raise hell on the streets like the Teabaggers do. And that for as long as it takes to force a new bill thru Congress. Will they do that? Will they create a visible, emotional, national disturbance like those annoying baggers? Or will they sit at home and type themselves into frothing keyboard rage, sign internet petitions by the dozens, and email their corporate controlled Congress-critters all to no avail?

Sorry. That didn't work the first time.
And I've got no faith in you, or your fellow hamsters, to leave your basement cages and make change happen. How about instead we learn a lesson here?

If you want serious serious change you have got to seriously mobilize on the streets to make it happen. Otherwise we are just barking in comment threads at a waning moon.

In the meanwhile, in the real world of hard knocks poison politics, where the republicans are doing everything possible to destroy my president.... I see a bill, come unto the world on Christmas Eve that guarantees his reelection.

Praise the Lord Jesus!
And god bless America!

Posted by: koreyel on December 23, 2009 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ummmm...in case officially partnering up with Grover Norquist wasn't plenty for one day, FDL is now threatening to primary Bernie Sanders if he votes for the bill.

Posted by: sue on December 23, 2009 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

O.K...at least Maddow is doing a much better job by actually showing the wording in the bill about the Medicare oversight board...and showing up the
"Death Panel Squad" for who they are..yes..she brings out a brilliant point..they don't care it's lie of the year..they are using it because it worked..and their timing is again brilliant because we are now heading into a break where more venom will be spread, as it was in August...

Still, I'd like to see a more cohesive plan from the administration and from Dems to really fight back aggressively with this kind of horrible terminology..

I mean..the term "Death Panel" in itself is just so unbelievably horrific..conjures up the worst instincts, evil intentions...it's defamation not just of Obama's character, but of the party entire....

How did we ever get this low so fast? I think Richard Wolffe was correct when he said how much they truly hate Obama, for many reasons...and I think this needs to be brought out much more.

Instead, Obama seems to be washing his hands clean of everything..even defensively argued that he never went against his campaign promises..that's just Bullshit. He did..And to not stand up and not say "Hey, look, it's been tougher than we thought, but we're doing the best we can" is insulting..

I thought he was more humble and honest than that..but his true colors are coming out now..he's starting to sound as arrogant as Bush..

And as indifferent...

Change you can believe in my ass.

And I don't care if Krugman says we shouldn't blame him..I disagree..I do blame Obama for a good deal of this..I know he has a congress that hates him, but he isn't facing up to this with a fight..he's just laughing it off with a big ol' SHRUG...what does he care?

His stand-offish stance is highly annoying..it's like he's trying TOO hard to show he doesn't care..and I think perhaps he truly might not be allowing himself to care..there is a wall around him..he seems very detached...it's like he doesn't want to get angry..and in doing so, he's rendered so impotent IMHO.

He just wants to get to Hawaii and after that grade himself upwards on a huge curve with that smug grin of his...I get it's a defense, but it's it's really starting to wear thin now...

The way he painted the summit on climate change so glowingly...yet another example...

Posted by: Insanity on December 23, 2009 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Right now Obama has the worst job in America and must pick his fights carefully since every area of government has been Bushed for 8yrs. That he gets anything through a senate with its abused filibuster rule is amazing.

What will really make the difference is what happens after this HC bill gets passed since the fear is that ANY government involvement in HC ins. COULD eventually lead to single payer. The weight of the nation is fully on his shoulders as far as public opinion is concerned and he is surrounded by the worst of advisers, When will Dawn Johnsen ever get 'approved' or any of the other 80 nominees on hold. Is there anyone capable of standing up to the war machine industrialists or to the corporatocracy that owns most of congress?

The senate filibuster rule allows for the complete destruction of any legislation. It has corrupted the senate completely. We have 51 senators who would pass good legislation except for this rule. Good reform is impossible until this rule is reformed and eliminated.

Bush was able to get nearly everything he wanted through the senate because he stood for the corporatocracy. They have billions to throw out to get what they want. Who pays for those huge Tea buggers signs and buses? If I could be bused to Washington for a liberal event all expenses paid, hell yes I'd go just like millions more like the masses who showed up under the arch in St. Louis when McCain could barely fill an auditorium.

Only gov is big enough to stop them...if only the senate were to get rid of this abused filibuster rule. Until then any reform or regulation is next to impossible to pass the senate.

Who is better to replace Obama from the republicans? Is there any republican out there that is not next to insane when it comes to what they support. They have become the party of hypocrisy and stupidity when it comes to solving the nation's problems.

Time to look at our expectations...vs the reality of what can be accomplished when dealing with a fixed game...the filibuster is the true enemy used by repubs to obstruct all legislation and by dems to avoid their responsibilities, of making changes we can believe in.

I'm glad we are pressuring the president as no one else but the right will do it. He must respond to us as well but he is dealing with the biggest mess ever left for a president to contend with...and this is his first year. I'll wait for more to come before I completely condemn him. He's still better than any republican would be in his position. Without him there wouldn't even be a HC bill.

First we get the bill (the first of its kind) into law and then we change it...and keep changing it...and keep changing it...until we have a Medicare for all type system that includes dental.

Posted by: bjobotts on December 23, 2009 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Excise tax vs. wealthy surcharge? Ezra makes the case for the former."

Except his "case" falls apart, because he conveniently (?) failed to mention that those union workers took better healthcare benefits, in lieu of pay increases in the past, at the insistence of their employers.

Now they don't have those pay increases they gave up, and Ezra wants them to also give up the benefits they swapped them for.

Ridiculous.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 23, 2009 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Newt is just sucking up to the teabag crazies after blowing his cred with them by supporting Scozzafava in the NY-23 race. He doesn't believe Bachman will be a committee chair any more than he believes Sarah Palin will ever be President.

Posted by: Rip on December 23, 2009 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

bjobotts: Excellent post.

I was way too harsh on Obama..I need to remember the larger picture.. It's bad enough what he inherited, but with all that, it's like he can do no good no matter what..

It's like he's up against a huge stone wall with so many strong interest groups who truly believe he is the devil incarnate, truly hate him and are threatened by him, truly believe (or want to believe) that he's not even legitimate (not a US citizen, that he's a communist, creating death panels and so on ..

I can't imagine what shock he must be in. And he's human, it's gotta sting.. I'm glad he's going to get a vacation--it's sorely needed.

We musn't forget we elected a black president with a name like Obama! That alone is huge..

I don't think anyone ever imagined this amount of vitriolic hate..I sure didn't.

I've never in my life seen such unbelievable degrading and debase and blatantly false and even demonic characterizations of Obama and the Democratic Party..

What can one President do with such bitter paranoid hate-filled barrage coming at him without
stop..it's like a bombardment..and with the 24 hour news cycle and all the right wing blogging
and radio..

Goodness, did anyone catch how quickly he responded to what he misses about his private life? He was sure ready to answer that one..

We must do what we can to help and remember
that change happens slowly over time..

If I'm this upset, I can only imagine how Sanders and Dean and Weiner and Brown and Dodd and all the others who worked tirelessly for the Public Option or even Single-Payor must feel..

We must all do what we can..no matter how small.

And we must cut Obama and others a huge amount of slack, even if we're disappointed somewhat..

Posted by: Insaniy on December 23, 2009 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

What Insaniy said. Huzzah!

Posted by: zoe kentucky on December 24, 2009 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

The Mellifluous One never campaigned on closing Guantanamo, remember?

Posted by: SteinL on December 24, 2009 at 5:35 AM | PERMALINK

Ditto to what insanity said, I think Obama is doing a great job when you realize what kind of opposition he has had, the repubs are teamed with the corporations & lobbyists to stop any reform of the health care in this country, they are bought and paid for, and with the few democrats that are also paid by the insurance industry Obama is having to work with what he has got and when this bill is passed I feel like it will be improved as we go along (especially if we keep democrats in the majority, or even get a few more.

Posted by: js on December 24, 2009 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

Count me in the camp that thinks Obama has done a great job all things considered. His only problem is that he has not acknowledged the importance of his progressive base as much as he should.

Democratic party building has fallen off dramatically. That is where we need to see some action, but alas Rahm is an old fashioned television air war kind of guy. He just wants to raise money and buy ads.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 24, 2009 at 7:54 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Friday, it isn't fair in terms of expectations, but: if increased pay *had* been given instead of better benefits, then it would have been taxed! If you get something "worth" X$, the argument is sound in general that it should be taxed like money assuming you'd need to buy it anyway. I guess the real issue is, are the health insurance premiums really worth that in a free market with real competition? I say, split the difference and tax half of the premium "value."

Posted by: neil b, on December 24, 2009 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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