Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 16, 2010

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

* Afghanistan: "Fighting has slowed in the battle for Marja, with Taliban fighters still engaging in fierce resistance but with less consistency, a spokesman for the international forces said Tuesday."

* Speaking in Saudi Arabia, HRC sends Iran another message: "The confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program appeared to deepen Tuesday as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton escalated her verbal assault during a Persian Gulf visit and Russia joined the United States and France in bluntly questioning Iran's ultimate intentions in enriching uranium."

* The other nukes: "President Obama told an enthusiastic audience of union officials on Tuesday that the Energy Department had approved a loan guarantee intended to underwrite construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia, with taxpayers picking up much of the financial risk. If the project goes forward, it would be the first nuclear reactor built in the United States since the 1970s."

* Upbeat earnings reports made Wall Street happy.

* John Murtha is laid to rest at a funeral service in Johnstown, Pa.

* Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) was hospitalized overnight after a fall in his home. He was diagnosed with a bleeding ulcer and is expected to make a full recovery.

* I still find it hard to believe the Washington Post hired Marc Thiessen.

* No, really. I still find it hard to believe the Washington Post hired Marc Thiessen.

* The story of SUNY Binghamton and its desire to compete in Division I athletics is a striking and cautionary tale.

* There's all kinds of talk about possible vacancies on the Supreme Court, but I'd be surprised if there's more than one.

* Nice to see Will Bunch join the Media Matters team.

* The Heritage Foundation isn't a very good think tank.

* And on Fox News this morning, Steve Doocy suggested that potential airline terrorists all "pretty much look alike." I don't know if Doocy has ever seen pictures of Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but if he thinks the two look similar, he has a real problem.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

This is an interesting strategy being pursued by the SoS. We have no way of knowing whether it's true or not that the Revolutionary Guard has all the pieces to mount a military takover, however, sowing seeds of suspicion, fear and mistrust could pay off for the west.

The only Supreme court retirements that would have meaning right now is Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas.

Posted by: bcinaz on February 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, unless one of the five Republican ward heelers on the Court retires, the composition is not really going to change significantly.

We are probably going to have to wait until Roberts greed leads him to accept a big offer from a DC firm.

Posted by: bob h on February 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Reid and Abdulmutallab: separated at birth?

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on February 16, 2010 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately, newspapers are a dying industry. They grab at all the readers they can get. The moeny is greatest in the FOX NEWS camp singing to the choir. So for the WashPo it is dye or become FOXNEWS.

Posted by: George on February 16, 2010 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

And on Fox News this morning, Steve Doocy suggested that potential airline terrorists all "pretty much look alike."

Yeah, Doocy, all black people look alike as well.

Posted by: sue on February 16, 2010 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, a good place to pitch the following site and epitomic link: http://www.dickipedia.org/dick.php?title=Glenn_Beck.
It mostly targets right-wingers and corp media wankers etc. - the kind of people we generally don't like.

Posted by: neil b on February 16, 2010 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

[...] Russia joined the United States and France in bluntly questioning Iran's ultimate intentions in enriching uranium. -- NYT

I find it incredible. How did Obama manage that feat, without looking into Putin's and Medvedev's souls?

-----------------------
I don't know if Doocy has ever seen pictures of Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but if he thinks the two look similar, he has a real problem. -- Steve Benen

What's the problem? He's truly colour-blind; we need more like him... :)

And on the SCOTUS front... Maybe, if Scalia were to go duck hunting again with Dead-Eye Dick, things would look up a bit. Roberts has fits, though I'm not saying I'm stuck on that solution; his taking a lobbying job (as per bob h, @17:45) would serve as well. Thomas could fall asleep during the proceedings -- does it all the time -- and never wake up. That would be change I could believe in. Stevens? Or even Ginsburg (God forbid)? Wouldn't change the dynamics one bit.

Posted by: exlibra on February 16, 2010 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

So if taxpayers are picking up much of the financial risk with the new Georgia nukes, what is our rate of return when it begins operating?

Posted by: montag on February 16, 2010 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, I truly empathize with your shock--I don't even read the Washington Post anymore, it's so damn unrecognizable from the fantastic paper I grew up reading daily (in the 70's and 80's).
Very sad.

Posted by: Insanity on February 16, 2010 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's new nuclear power plant should appeal to the Reich Wing, but no: Glenn Beck and Laffer, his blackboard pal of the day, said it (A) would be YEARS before it came on line, and (B) would result in high paid UNION jobs. There's no pleasing some people. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 16, 2010 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

How about a shout out to Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado who is sending a letter to Reid urging that reconciliation be used to put the public option back in HCR and is rounding up co-signers, including so far (as of my last checking) Sens. Gillibrand, Merkley and Sherrod Brown? Go team.... and put another way, could it be that the Dems can find among themselves some guts and gumption?

Posted by: SF on February 16, 2010 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

President Obama told an enthusiastic audience of union officials on Tuesday that the Energy Department had approved a loan guarantee intended to underwrite construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia, with taxpayers picking up much of the financial risk. If the project goes forward, it would be the first nuclear reactor built in the United States since the 1970s.

Obama stated:

nuclear energy remains our largest source of fuel that produces no carbon emissions

LIE.

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 16, 2010 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

montag wrote: "So if taxpayers are picking up much of the financial risk with the new Georgia nukes, what is our rate of return when it begins operating?"

Less than zero. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that there is a greater than 50 percent probability of default on Federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants:

CBO considers the risk of default on such a loan guarantee to be very high--well above 50 percent. The key factor accounting for this risk is that we expect that the plant would be uneconomic to operate because of its high construction costs, relative to other electricity generation sources.

Obama's Energy Secretary Chu admitted in a conference call with reporters today that he didn't even know about the CBO report. But he said he "didn't believe" it. And offered no data to back up his "faith-based" support for nuclear power.

It is ironic that just as the Obama administration is preparing to bilk the taxpayers and the ratepayers and to squander precious public resources on the nuclear boondoggle, that the French energy company Areva -- whose "next generation" nuclear power plant under construction in Finland is billions of dollars over budget, years behind schedule, and mired in the same safety problems that have always afflicted nuclear power -- announced they are purchasing Ausra, the builder of concentrating solar thermal power plants, and will be investing heavily in CSP which they believe (with good reason) will be a lucrative, rapidly growing energy sector.

Same old same old: whether it's Bush or Obama in the White House, US energy policy remains in the death-grip of the fossil fuel and nuclear corporations. That's why Obama's energy plan gives lip service to wind and solar but puts the real money behind nuclear power, the "clean coal" hoax, and offshore oil drilling.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 16, 2010 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Energy Department had approved a loan guarantee intended to underwrite construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia, with taxpayers picking up much of the financial risk..."

I would have thought McCain would be happy also.

"Glenn Beck and Laffer, his blackboard pal of the day, said it (A) would be YEARS before it came on line, and (B) would result in high paid UNION jobs. There's no pleasing some people. . ."

I suppose they want the quick and dirty version of a Nuke plant... say CHERNOBYL!

Posted by: Kurt on February 16, 2010 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

And utility rate payers in Georgia are already paying for this nuclear boondoggle. The Georgia legislature took the unusual measure of passing a law allowing for ratepayers to advance pay for the nuclear plants.

Me thinks the Southern Company owns our governments (state and federal).

Posted by: anomaly on February 16, 2010 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

As he tried to sell the support for two new Nuclear Plants, I almost fell asleep.

I admire this President of ours, but wow--he really does love to hear himself talk, and I can't help but wonder yet again..at what cost?

Wow..so wordy, so oratory, and so non-compelling to the ordinary rushed exhausted American.

His style was once appealing in light of Bush who was so polar opposite..so deer in the headlights and just smug, indifferent...

But Obama makes me into a deer in the headlights after five minutes of listening him try to sell something!

Posted by: Insanity on February 16, 2010 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

On a purely human level, I wish only the best health for Senator Lautenberg. As a New Jersey Democrat, I particularly hope that the 86-year-old senator stays healthy, now that my fellow New Jerseyans have seen fit to elect to the governorship a Republican, who would name Lautenberg's replacement were his seat to be vacated for any reason.

Posted by: navamske on February 16, 2010 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Some people can be sooo short-sighted.
If the cost of getting support for renewable energy investment is taking a 50% risk on two nuclear reactors in Georgia, I'm happy with it.

Posted by: Doug on February 16, 2010 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

By "pretty much look alike" I think it's safe to say Doocy means "aren't blonde."

Posted by: arbequina on February 16, 2010 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

How is it that so many other states have amazing plans and yet others such as the one in CA is making folks literally lose their shirt?

Why don't the states take a clue from these other models..like where is it? Hawaii's plan sounds amazing..(Jon Stewart's piece was cool)..and others' caps and options such as Vermont and Mass. aren't too shabby either..

The disparity is something I was not aware of until recently..it's disturbing and promising.

Posted by: Insanity on February 16, 2010 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

health care that is...

Posted by: Insanity on February 16, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

Whats a war crime here and there?

Posted by: Smack the Trollop! on February 16, 2010 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

In other areas, I find it hard to believe that Jean Schmidt continues to represent OHIO.

She appears tone deaf, as well as consciously political in every bizarre utterance.

Having her is like some lifetime movie series for women, this very different, strangely unusual person, representing people who need a rational voice--and don't really have one???

Posted by: respect differences on February 16, 2010 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

I observe that Steve Doocy of Fox News is so vanilla yet imposingly deceptive with his naive presentation. I suppose he plays a solid role to this regard, along with the female co-host--whose name of course escapes me, as it is likely meant to, as she regularly 'dumbs down' her remarks as well, while possessing admirable collegiate credentials. It works for the Fox crowd, sipping coffee while listening to degrading comments about Democrats as well as the illustriously
intelligent, well educated president. But I do think more and more voters are on to this silly game.

Posted by: respect differences on February 16, 2010 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

How much support for renewable energy was guaranteed?

Posted by: anomaly on February 16, 2010 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

Well, since the Washington Times is imploding, Fred Hiatt has a lot of additional right-wing propaganda to propagate.

Posted by: Midland on February 16, 2010 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

More progress in power from wind energy:

http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/24813/

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 16, 2010 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

"President Obama told an enthusiastic audience of union officials on Tuesday that the Energy Department had approved a loan guarantee intended to underwrite construction of two nuclear reactors in Georgia, with taxpayers picking up much of the financial risk.

He did say that he was in favor of safe nuclear power, in his acceptance speech and during the debates. The only question was how safe he considered "safe". Now we know the answer to that question.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 16, 2010 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

This appeared in the Tribune Review Newspaper and was written by the owner and publisher, Richard Scaife.
Entitled "A True Patriot"

"Congressman John P. Murtha was one of those rare, larger-than-life figures whom I was fortunate to consider a friend.

It wasn't just his towering frame, his booming voice or his bear-paw handshake that made him seem that way. His attitudes about his constituents, his country and the challenges affecting both all made him fill any room the moment he entered.

I met Jack in the 1970s, when I was a relatively new newspaper publisher in Greensburg and he was the newly elected congressman from Johnstown. We liked each other immediately and remained friends for the next 40 years.

He was not your conventional politician.

Unlike some Democrats who dislike the military, Jack respected our men and women in uniform; he had been one of them, beginning in the 1950s and continuing through the war in Vietnam.

He understood the absolute necessity of maintaining a strong military to protect America -- yet he also understood the absolute responsibility of ensuring that its ranks not be squandered in ill-conceived, ill-equipped wars.

Unlike many members of Congress who publicly condemn "pork-barrel spending" but privately funnel money to their pet projects, Jack never flinched from helping a corner of Southwestern Pennsylvania that had been devastated by rust-belt downsizing and outsourcing.

"I am here to help to take care of the district," he unapologetically declared.

Unlike most politicians, he was unafraid to speak his mind regardless of the consequences -- and he did so regularly.

He backed Republican presidents on foreign-policy matters, regardless of what fellow Democrats said. An early supporter of the war in Iraq, he later opposed it when doing so still was not popular and braved a firestorm of condemnation to raise questions about how it was affecting U.S. troops.

He braved another when he wondered publicly what many people said privately -- that racism would drive some voters in the 2008 presidential election.

You didn't need to agree with him on these or other issues, yet you had to respect his guts in addressing controversies that you knew would get him in trouble -- but that deserved to be raised nevertheless.

You wouldn't find him on congressional junkets to exotic, luxurious foreign spots. Instead, he'd go to some war zone or lonely outpost to see how U.S. military forces were being treated and armed.

I respected Jack for his constant, clear commitment to putting America's security first and foremost. I admired the way he remembered wounded troops, visiting them in military hospitals without fanfare or publicity.

He was a true patriot. And he will be terribly missed, in the halls of Congress and in the lives of those who knew him well."

Posted by: Greensburg girl on February 16, 2010 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

Greenburg girl - is that the same Richard Scaife who bankrolled the Clinton attacks in the '90's? Just curious.

Posted by: Patrick Starr on February 17, 2010 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

I still find it hard to believe the Washington Post hired Marc Thiessen.

No, really. I still find it hard to believe the Washington Post hired Marc Thiessen.>/i>

If Fred Hiatt had been editor of the Washington Pest in 1973, Richard Nixon would still be President In Perpetuity.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 17, 2010 at 1:07 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think too many terrorists look alike, but I think that maybe all right wing doofuses look alike.

Posted by: rbe1 on February 17, 2010 at 6:37 AM | PERMALINK

I think there's a lot stuff in the news lately to distract people from important civil rights issues, like ohhh i don't know, gay rights?? http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/02/09/judge-in-prop-8-case-is-probably-gay-so-what/

Just saying, is all...

Posted by: Tony on February 17, 2010 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Doocy meant "around closing time".

Posted by: berttheclock on February 17, 2010 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Late entry--it is the same Richard Scaife.
It was a lovely tribute to Jack Murtha.

Posted by: greensburg girl on February 17, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding our current initiative in Afghanistan: What the Taliban is doing is not called, "not wanting to stay." It's called "fading into the countryside," and it was a pretty effective tactic when the Viet Cong used it.

We can only hope that President Obama recognizes a CYA report when he hears it. What are the chances that he instructs his generals to come back with a more realistic assessment?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Posted by: MrToad on February 17, 2010 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Well said, and interesting, from The Nation editorial page today--similar to above, no less:

"...While the tea partyers bash the bailouts, conservative politicians like John Cornyn skulk around New York hustling to get their hands on some of that bailout-facilitated campaign cash. It's a fresh version of the tried-and-true GOP approach described by Thomas Frank in What's the Matter With Kansas?, though this one is more audacious: rather than using social issues to distract from an economic agenda favoring the plutocracy, rage over bank bailouts provides cover for efforts to raise money from banks and stymie bank regulation."

"Rank hypocrisy has never spelled doom for a political party in America, and it won't hurt the tea party so long as its views remain opaque. The easiest way to highlight the contradictions between the vaguely attractive populism of the tea partyers and the decidedly unpopulist governing vision of the party they serve is to attack the banks with a tea party-like zeal and force the GOP to close ranks around its new financial benefactors..."

Posted by: greensburg girl on February 17, 2010 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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