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Tilting at Windmills

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February 8, 2010

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

* Iran: "Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday that it will start producing higher-grade enriched uranium, prompting the United States and France to call for tougher U.N. sanctions against the country."

* Tehran fails to impress: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Saturday played down assertions by Iran that it is ready to reach a deal on its nuclear program, saying Tehran's overall response to overtures from the Obama administration has been 'quite disappointing.'"

* Anthem Blue Cross in California is jacking up its health care premiums by as much as 39% next month. The Obama administration wants "a detailed justification for these rate increases to the public."

* Ukraine: "The opposition leader Viktor F. Yanukovich appeared on Monday to have won a narrow victory in Ukraine's presidential election, according to nearly complete results, giving him an unlikely comeback from his humiliating defeat in the 2004 Orange Revolution, when he was shunned as a bumbling Kremlin sidekick."

* Why the European debt crisis matters to the United States.

* After the explosion at the Kleen Energy Systems: "All workers at a Connecticut power plant that exploded have been accounted for, leaving the death toll at five and the number of injured at 12, the mayor of Middletown said on Monday."

* Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was asked if the U.S. is at risk of losing its triple-A bond rating. "Absolutely not," he replied. "And that will never happen to this country. When people were most worried about the stability of the world, they still found safety in the Treasuries and the dollar. That is a very, very important sign of basic confidence in our capacity as a country to work together to fix these problems."

* Matt Yglesias explains why President Obama is having far more success than the conventional wisdom suggests.

* Getting a sense of what and whether college students actually learned after four years.

* Retired Col. David Hunt, a Fox News military analyst, is generally pretty conservative. But he supports the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and criticized John McCain on the air over the issue.

* Fact checking the Sunday shows.

* No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition.

* Remember that awful Reuters report about the Obama budget and "backdoor" taxes that don't exist in reality? The reporter who wrote it is no longer at Reuters.

* I tend to think Sarah Palin writing her beliefs on her palm is a fun little side story, but it never occurred to me the defense that Fox News would come up with. Gretchen Carlson "suggested that it was a brilliantly clever plot to draw attention to Obama's use of a teleprompter." Oh my.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (33)

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Comments

"...Sarah Palin writing her beliefs on her palm is a fun little side story, but it never occurred to me the defense that Fox News would come up with."

It's stupider than that, I'm afraid. There are several vidcaps circulating that show her, while campaigning for Perry, with "Hi, Mom" written on her left palm. It looks photoshopped to me, but it's possible it was merely highlighted to make it easier to read. In any case, the Teabaggers now appear to be trying to conflate the two, as if in the latest case she just had some touching inscription on her palm that would keep her grounded with her family, thus making her appear even more cute and folksy.

If that's the way it was, why did she look at it for a significant time after being asked a question; was she asking her Mom for inspiration? Why the rubbing motion on her leg afterward?

Not to overanalyze it, but if it was a stunt it was a dumb one. Maybe the base will buy it, but it looks as if independents think she's a dozy putz.

Posted by: Mark on February 8, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Gretchen Carlson graduated with honors from stanford and attended oxford. how she debases the education she received to take that murdoch check tells you everything about that woman's morals.

she doesn't have the excuse that she's a dumb broad.

Posted by: bkny on February 8, 2010 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

the latimes had a piece the other day about anthem insurance. it's infuriating that the democrats aren't using these rate hikes in daily talking points:

"I've never seen anything like this," said Mark Weiss, 63, a Century City podiatrist whose Anthem policy for himself and his wife will rise 35%. The couple's annual insurance bill will jump to $27,336 from $20,184.

Posted by: bkny on February 8, 2010 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

* I tend to think Sarah Palin writing her beliefs on her palm is a fun little side story, but it never occurred to me the defense that Fox News would come up with. Gretchen Carlson "suggested that it was a brilliantly clever plot to draw attention to Obama's use of a teleprompter." Oh my.

The teapartyers are going to make this their purple finger moment. THey will go to rallies with Sarah's "beliefs" written on their palms and wave them around in solidarity with each other.

Posted by: martin on February 8, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Gretchen Carlson graduated with honors from stanford and attended oxford. how she debases the education she received to take that murdoch check tells you everything about that woman's morals.

Plus, she looks like Chief Wiggum. No, really.

/THey will go to rallies with Sarah's "beliefs" written on their palms and wave them around in solidarity with each other.

That ought to make for some entertaining misspellings and malapropisms from the "morans" and "niggars" crowd.

Posted by: shortstop on February 8, 2010 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

I read this article yesterday and was surprised that it hadn't made the rounds yet (that I've seen) usually I'm the one who is late to these things. Anyway, it's a fascinating article on the BBC News website called Guantanamo guard reunited with ex-inmates. Here's the link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8452937.stm

Maybe someone can email this to Sullivan.

Posted by: Ben on February 8, 2010 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

The Obama administration wants "a detailed justification for these rate increases to the public."

Because Lieberman is a DICK and Obama and Reid refused to play hardball for meaningful reform that took on the insurance companies -- the companies that with phuck us and phuck us no matter what bill passes or doesn't.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on February 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Spanish Inquisition: I loved the title of the article for this reference... “If Marc Thiessen Doesn’t Want to be Compared to the Spanish Inquisition, He Should Stop Advocating Torture Techniques Used in the Spanish Inquisition”

Re: health care costs in Calif: Well all Pacificare and the other healthcare insurance giants have to do now is fund Republicans until their opponents are defeated and Americans can go back the the glorious days of the late 19th century when so America can government OF the corporations, BY the corporations, and FOR the corporations.

meanwhile:

The stimulus worked and it prevented another Republican created Great Depression. Hank Paulson said so himself on NBC on Sunday. When the Republicans tell You differently they LIE, talking their tactics from Vladimer Lenin who said, a lie told long enough becomes the truth.

The stimulus worked and it prevented another Republican created Great Depression. Hank Paulson said so himself on NBC on Sunday. When the Republicans tell You differently they LIE, talking their tactics from Vladimer Lenin who said, a lie told long enough becomes the truth.

The stimulus worked and it prevented another Republican created Great Depression. Hank Paulson said so himself on NBC on Sunday. When the Republicans tell You differently they LIE, talking their tactics from Vladimer Lenin who said, a lie told long enough becomes the truth.

Posted by: Kurt on February 8, 2010 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Correction: Re: health care costs in Calif: Well all Pacificare and the other healthcare insurance giants have to do now is fund Republicans until their opponents are defeated and Americans can go back the the glorious days of the late 19th century when American government OF the corporations, BY the corporations, and FOR the corporations was not expected to pass from this earth.

Posted by: Kurt on February 8, 2010 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

here in eastern Iowa our rep has sent the following:

I was very disappointed when I heard from concerned citizens in the 2nd District that Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, has sent a fundraising appeal into our district that looks like an official Census document. This fundraising letter even calls itself a 'Census survey' and asks people to pay for the cost of processing the census form.

The Census is vital for our communities because an accurate count helps ensure that Iowans get adequate funding for schools, roads, and hospitals. It is also critical for flood recovery, and helping our disaster stricken neighbors.

Please look for your official Census in the mail over the next few months. It will not ask for party affiliation or for money.

That the RNC would target our district shows just how determined they are to take back the House. Please stay vigilant and please be in contact if you see any further attempts to mislead our community.

Posted by: elisabeth on February 8, 2010 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

This just in...

Shelby now claims he only put a hold on 70 presidential nominees just to “get Obama’s attention”, and that it had nothing whatsoever to do with all the pork he was demanding.

He has removed his hold.

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 8, 2010 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin will never go for the Presidency...

Way too much work...

She wants to be the next female Rush Limbaugh..

Lot's more dough! And lots more exposure/influence.

Posted by: Insanity on February 8, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's desire for a publicized bi-partisian debate on Health Care is way too little, way too late and will produce nothing. He may gain a few points for showing them to be the idiots they are, but it won't move anything forward.

He's still working with a false hope that reason and truth will prevail over insane rationales and ideological adherence. He's still hoping somehow to show them up, he's still thinking he has a legitimate party to indeed "show up".

That time has come and gone..that would have been the thing to do 6-8 months ago.

He's WAY behind...

Meanwhile Anthem Blue Cross has increased my monthly premium (as Benen reports here) by an astronomical amount with no rationale. It was already high..and now it's only for the wealthy.
I am forced to dumb my health care and use ER's and free clinics.

In the great words of our sage, Steve Benen:
Pass the damn bill now.

Posted by: Insanity on February 8, 2010 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Tehran fails to impress: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Saturday played down assertions by Iran that it is ready to reach a deal on its nuclear program, saying Tehran's overall response to overtures from the Obama administration has been 'quite disappointing’.

Actually, it was Iran that challenged the West to agree within the last 90 days to a program of simultaneous exchange of their LEU (low-enriched uranium) for high purity 20 percent enriched uranium from Russia and France for use as medical isotopes, or they would proceed themselves.

The six Western nations failed to respond, so Iran is proceeding to legally enrich uranium to 20 percent on it’s own.

What a way to run a foreign policy.

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 8, 2010 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin writing cheat notes on her palm is something that should be taken seriously! The NYT had an article the other day making it sound as though she gets daily briefings on issues and events - maybe she gets them, but she doesn't read or digest them. She has to have cliff notes to get through a set of pre-arranged questions, she never held a press conference while running for VP, she won't appear at a conference where she would have to openly respond to unscreened questions - the Empress can't be clothed, even for $150K! Her husband was doing the decision making in AK, to the point of having an office within her office and directing her staff. This can't be dismissed a s a set of rules that work for her because she's "different" as Chuck Todd apparently dismissed it this morning. Can you picture Diane Feinstein, Kathleen Sebelius, Kay Bailey Hutchinson checking their palms for answers? how can this woman be taken seriously for a second? If the media and the Republican Party give legitimacy to this harebrained woman, we could end with her in a place where it hurts. For her to suggest thatwe invade Iran as a political "card" - and be allowed back on a podium anywhere? Someone should at least ask her if there's anything written on her elbow or soemwhere about the "sanctity of life" and it's place in sending our young people to war and killing others' children.

Posted by: ghillie on February 8, 2010 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

Open Thread...is it me or is it time for Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend to hang it up? Just askin'

Posted by: johnr on February 8, 2010 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

[...] it looks as if independents think she's [Palin's] a dozy putz. -- Mark, @17:57

Not, if they know even a smidgen of Yddish, such as a 12months of residency in NYC would provide. There's *no way* Sarah could be a "putz", since her kind disapprove, strongly, of sex-changing operations.

Posted by: exlibra on February 8, 2010 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Shelby now claims he only put a hold on 70 presidential nominees just to “get Obama’s attention”, and that it had nothing whatsoever to do with all the pork he was demanding. He has removed his hold.

Kinda convenient, he does this just as we're going into the final week before a recess and when the week seems to be sort of reserved for work on the jobs bill. None of those 70 nominees are actually going to get voted on now that the hold was lifted, are they?

Posted by: mcc on February 8, 2010 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

f-bombed

The country is foxed up beyond all repair...
Why don't you go fox yourself a new one...
I don't give a fox what you think...
Get the fox out of here...
Ow! Fox that hurts!
Motherfoxer...
What the fox?

For those wishing to wean yourself of the f-word...
There has never been an easier way...

Posted by: koreyel on February 8, 2010 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

"All workers at a Connecticut power plant that exploded have been accounted for. . ."

How about the workers that didn't explode?

Posted by: Steve on February 8, 2010 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

March in mid-March

Those who have been itching to make some noise and take your liberal passion to the street, here is the ride you've been waiting for...

Via Naomi Klein: Join the Climate Trial

Sounds like damn good old-school 60s fun....

Posted by: koreyel on February 8, 2010 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

if the Kleen Energy System plant that blew up had been one of the several nuklear power plants on the Connecticut River, obama's clean energy technology would have killed millions and wiped out a chunk of the northeast and mid-Atlantic (and possibly Western Europe) depending on the winds, for thousands of years. What say you clean energy cretins? Speak up on that NOW obama and your ridiculous fans!

Posted by: zoot on February 8, 2010 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Anthem Blue Cross
In a wag the dog spirit, maybe this is showing their support for reform, as in We'll keep jacking with you until you get some working solutions going.

Posted by: Kevin on February 8, 2010 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

The Credit Default Swap Assassins are back

Here we go again...
Benen's European debt crisis link includes this beautiful piece of analysis:

Q: Just how do investors bet against these countries?
A: They do so through credit-default swaps, which are exotic insurance-like financial instruments that signal how investors view the risk of any particular country's debt. As part of prudent management of the risks they're assuming, big investors that buy a country's bonds also buy these swaps as protection against default. Investors with no underlying stake in the bonds, however, can also buy swaps and bet against a country.
If investors think a country is financially weak, the cost of insuring the purchase of its bonds goes up, and this also influences the return investors will demand in exchange for assuming the risk of buying a country's bonds.
Q: Why do these swaps sound familiar?
A: They're the same instruments that helped amplify the near-meltdown of the U.S. financial system in September 2008. Investors bet against the bonds of investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the insurer American International Group and others. In good times, swaps help manage risk. In bad times they seem to increase fear and panic.
So the smartest guys in the room, who destroy countries for fun and profit, are back and partying it up again. George Soros had a brilliant editorial on in the Financial Times back in mid-2009: My three steps to financial reform. Here is his concluding paragraph:
Custom-made derivatives only serve to improve the profit margin of the financial engineers designing them. In fact, some derivatives ought not to be traded at all. I have in mind credit default swaps. Consider the recent bankruptcy of AbitibiBowater and thatof General Motors. In both cases, some bondholders owned CDS and stood to gain more by bankruptcy than by reorganisation. It is like buying life insurance on someone else's life and owning a licence to kill him. CDS are instruments of destruction that ought to be outlawed.

Damn straight...
How many countries or business have to be assassinated before something is done?

Posted by: koreyel on February 8, 2010 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

The business pages are interesting these days. A judge ruled against a company and for rice farmers hurt by genetically altered rice, and another judge blocked Pratt and Whitney from violating its contract by moving 1000 jobs out of state. The GOP psychopaths are going to be really upset when they find out. I mean, whatever happened to freedom, where a man could do whatever he wanted?


http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=9767916

http://www.rep-am.com/news/465258.txt

Posted by: Bob M on February 8, 2010 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

if the Kleen Energy System plant that blew up had been one of the several nuklear power plants on the Connecticut River, obama's clean energy technology would have killed millions and wiped out a chunk of the northeast and mid-Atlantic (and possibly Western Europe) depending on the winds, for thousands of years. What say you clean energy cretins? Speak up on that NOW obama and your ridiculous fans!

What is ridiculous is your false analogy. The explosion was caused by natural gas. It was to be a natural gas burning power plant. They were purging the gas lines of air pockets when the gas ignited. There is no analog in the construction of a nuclear plant, ergo your premise is false.

Second - you are a scientifically illiterate moron and a detriment to the left. Do you know why the area around Three Mile Island is not dead and sterile now, but instead goes on as if nothing ever happened? The containment field worked as it was designed to.

Nuclear power went online in the US in late 1957. Since then we have had one accident and it was stopped in it's tracks by the safeguards built into a plant that sported 70s technology. Most industries would kill for a track record like that.

I don't mind criticism, but it needs to be factual and amount to more than the neo-hippies at a high-school career day who don't know a single fact, but start mindlessly shrieking when a buzzword is heard; or as in this case, imagined.

Posted by: Your friendly neighborhood physicist on February 8, 2010 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah’s dismissal of Obama’s thrashing of the Republican House caucus (sans teleprompter) as a mere “regurgitation of talking points” combined with her own vapid responses confirmed my fears; she really can’t tell the difference between a knowledgable nuanced argument and empty rhetoric. She honestly thinks Obama (and everyone else) is winging it just like she is.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on February 8, 2010 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

“What say you clean energy cretins?” - zoot @ 9:05
I say build the plants in Alabama and South Carolina and zoot’s back yard.

Posted by: Chopin on February 8, 2010 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK

From snowy Pennsylvania
As Olbermann pointed out, Sarah Palin criticized our BarackStarObama
for reading from the teleprompter at the lecturn
as SHE read from HER PACK OF NOTES AT THE LECTURN
while even looking at junior high style "crib notes" on her hand.
What a hypocrite she is, saying Limbaugh wasn't at fault for ALSO using the retard word...
oh... with Rush it is just "satire." Even Fox New's usually reliable winger Chris Wallace called her out.

She, of cultural literacy depravation, thinking Africa is a country,
as opposed to continent, unable to diffentiate Iran and Iraq, Middle East 101??
What a big joke she remains.

Oh, yeah, and Tom Tancredo puts on his KKK head piece asking for literacy exams for voters////

Posted by: level of cynicism/consider wisely on February 8, 2010 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

re Blue Cross:
The timing of this leaves me just a little bit suspicious. That aside, how do all the good folks feel about a mandate for insurance coverage while being circled by the sharks in the private insurance cartel, sans public options, that is ?

Posted by: rbe1 on February 9, 2010 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

re Iran:
Is it illegal under international law for Iran to enrich Uranium ? If not, why does this announcement immediately provoke a call for sanctions ?

Posted by: rbe1 on February 9, 2010 at 6:15 AM | PERMALINK

rbe1, it is part of the "nonproliferation framework" I think, not IL per se. But Israel wasn't supposed to do it either, and now they have 200 Bombs. How so?

Posted by: red reptile on February 9, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

UH some poster said;"can you imagine Dianne Feinstein doing that?"

Well Palin was making a speech, but, what about Dianne Feinstein, who actually cheated with cheat notes on her plam during a no notes debate against Pete Wilson for governor back in 1990? And when she got caught, she denied it.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Dianne+Feinstein%2Bpalm+crib+notes%2Bvideo&btnG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&oq=

http://www.calbuzz.com/2010/02/palin-channels-difi-meyer-takes-on-boss-emeg/

Posted by: Travis on February 12, 2010 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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