Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 26, 2010

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

* Afghanistan: "Insurgents struck Friday at hotels in the heart of Kabul with suicide attackers and a car bomb, killing at least 16 people -- half of them foreigners -- in an assault that showed the militants remain a potent force despite setbacks on the battlefield and the arrest of more than a dozen key leaders."

* GDP: "The U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster pace than originally thought during the last three months of 2009, according to a government report Friday." The original report pointed to 5.7% growth; the revised report says the economy grew at an annual rate of 5.9% in Q4.

* New York Gov. David Paterson (D) won't seek re-election, but he intends to serve the rest of the year.

* Yoo seems to owe us some emails: "Senior Democrats and watchdog groups demanded Friday that the Justice Department investigate the disappearance of e-mail messages by Bush lawyers who drafted memos blessing harsh interrogation tactics, saying their absence cast doubt on an ethics report that cleared the lawyers of professional misconduct."

* The House ethics committee believes Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) violated House rules "that forbid hidden financing by corporations."

* In related news, the PMA Group probe appears to be complete: "The House ethics committee will clear seven members of Congress in a year-long probe that explored whether they may have violated ethics rules in steering hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to contractors represented by one powerful defense lobby firm."

* It's as if Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) were a walking, talking case study on the desperate need for Senate reform.

* The Obama administration is "planning to use the government's enormous buying power to prod private companies to improve wages and benefits for millions of workers."

* Good advice to House Dems from former Rep. Marjorie Margolies (D-Pa.), who knows a little something about casting tough votes.

* Good to see SEIU's Andy Stern on the White House's debt commission.

* The White House will need a new social secretary.

* Did the Falwell-created Liberty University violate tax law? It sure looks like it.

* Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) hearts lobbyists.

* It's awfully big of the president to be this gracious towards Dick Cheney. Obama obviously has a lot of character, but I'm not sure I would be so classy if I were in his shoes.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

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Comments

I think it bizarre that Obama called Cheney.

It's disturbing beyond belief and it was un-necessary.

Indicative once again of his level of denial.

This is not simply being gracious, this is just more Obama trying to prove how unpredictable and unflappable he is--I see this as a frighteningly underestimated weakness in Obama--one he himself may not even be aware of--and it comes out in many ways, including keeping out of important legislative battles that he needs to jump into.

This 'holier than thou' crap so integral to his persona is not just for show and not just superficial IMO--it's ramifications are what I observe to be insidious, subtle, far reaching and deleterious for the Democrats.

Posted by: Insanity on February 26, 2010 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

God damn Dick Cheney's shit-filled soul to hell -- presidential protocol not withstanding.

Posted by: neill on February 26, 2010 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Coverage of the subtle points of the filibuster is breaking away from the normal Post/Times/political-insider coverage and thereby getting closer to the mainstream. Last week's public radio program Living on Earth -- which focuses on the environment -- had an interview with labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan about the "ghost filibuster" and how the filibuster is stopping action on climate change, and more importantly, how the rules of the filibuster have changed so that merely the threat of a filibuster will stop a bill. That last point is very important to get across to the public, so it was heartening to see a program normally devoted to endangered species, pollution, the natural world and such things to give some time to a subtle political point.

Link to transcript and downloadable audio file at Living on Earth

Posted by: meander on February 26, 2010 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Man has a heart attack, you call him and wish him well. Cheney will be burning in hell soon enough, no point in being ungracious while we wait.

Posted by: Midland on February 26, 2010 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

no pass, Midland..Steve's visceral response is much more fitting here IMHO.

Cheney basically wished Obama himself and the country entire to be blown up just days after Obama was sworn into office.

And he continues to spread such lies, such vitriol that entices and escalates the chances of real damage happening.

It's one thing for others like journalists to wish him well or even if someone else from the administration (even Biden would have made more sense)but Obama?

No--this was preposterous because he did it for show. He cares more about the show than anything else. And maybe in this instance it appears noble and harmless, but I see it as symbolic of the phony Obama is showing himself to be.

Call me a cynic, but I don't see the call as an isolated incident. I've argued before that Obama is dangerously detached
from what matters and from showing he cares (he's said multiple times that he doesn't let what others say about bother him--and I think that's a lie, because being human you have to--but he likes to act as though this is so--so much so that it that this stance can and does do harm.

Posted by: Insanity on February 26, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

And I don't think this is about ungracious.

It's about being real.

If a man spits on you, you don't thank him.

(And that's putting it mildly).

Again, I assert Obama did it for show.

So, maybe it will make him look good, maybe not.

But I am beginning to worry he's WAY too concerned about looking good than doing any real good.

O.K...getting off my pedestal..sorry if I sound so cynical.

Posted by: Insanity on February 26, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Americans United also alleges that Liberty administrators used the school newspaper inappropriately to champion [Republican candidate] Garrett. Liberty characterized the paper’s coverage of the November election as “fair and balanced.”[/quote]

I can't decide whether to laugh or cry.

Kudos to Obama. In his shoes, I'd probably have phoned up Cheney and started talking about plans to investigate Haliburton contracts under Cheney's leadership, or to create a Cheney Medal in honor of Mary Cheney, to be awarded to people who contribute to social progress for gays, or to build a Cheney statue to honor Vietnam-era draftees who had the courage to stand by their convictions and refuse military service, or something along those lines, in the hopes of seeing him turn purple and fall over.

Posted by: N.Wells on February 26, 2010 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Obama obviously has a lot of character

I agree. Watching him work, I'm seeing a truly gifted and principled leader, something we haven't had in the White House for at least as long as I've been paying attention.

I especially like how he continues to make the republicans look like petulant, slow-witted children at every public encounter. Eventually, even the voting public might start to wonder if the conventional wisdom being fed to them by the MSM isn't perhaps horseshit.

Posted by: DelCapslock on February 26, 2010 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

I'm pleased to report that WAVE-TV, Channel 3 (NBC affiliate) in Louisville, KY is reporting on Jim Bunning's filibuster against the temporary extention of unemployment benefits. They are also running a poll to see what people think.

If you haven't already done so, please call your senators and tell them to shut his despicable action down.

Posted by: knightphoenix2 on February 26, 2010 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Bunning is blocking unemployment benefits because they're not paid for. Maybe while he's fillibustering he can explain why he opposed Paygo but is now for it in this instance.

Posted by: Gridlock on February 26, 2010 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

We don't need a Senate. Time to abolish it.

Posted by: freelunch on February 26, 2010 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK

What Obama did was a decent, humane thing, showing that he's a much better person that Cheney could ever hope to be.

Posted by: Speed on February 26, 2010 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Steve: Great reporting on the way forward (to HCR Bill Passing): wasn't sure how the process worked..you put it out very clearly with the usual great references.

Posted by: Insanity on February 26, 2010 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

I dunno - it couldn't have done Cheney's heart any good to have to take the call and be gracious. I hope Obama turned the screws and mentioned that they are distantly related, eighth cousins or something, and the whole family wishes him well. No matter what, he needed nitro under his tongue as soon as he hung up, so good on Obama.

Posted by: Realist on February 26, 2010 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Surprise, surprise! As I just heard on NBC NN, just take a wild guess who is feature on MTP Sunday? None other than the peripatetic most unbearably distinguished Senator, maverick, war hero (despite his carelessness helping fry an aircraft carrier, and he can be forgiven for breaking under pressure - I and 99% of us would have - but then he isn't quite as "heroic"), and World's worst sidekick picker John McCain! Can you believe that?

Posted by: neil b on February 26, 2010 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Obama called Cheney because Obama is a man of faith and hope. That's how you try turn enemies into friends, you reach out to them with compassion and forgiveness in their time of despair.

Posted by: Johnboy on February 26, 2010 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

I don't like it, because I'm a mean spirited sonofabitch were American fascists like Cheney are concerned. But Obama didn't publicize the phone call. His spokesman was asked a question, and answered truthfully. It will look good in the history books.

Posted by: JwW on February 26, 2010 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

Obama called Cheney because its The Right Thing To Do, the same as your mom made you write a thank you note to the aunt who smells bad and drools all over you, for the present you've already thrown away or buried in the back of the closet.

Although I'm completely in agreement with this:

Kudos to Obama. In his shoes, I'd probably have phoned up Cheney and started talking about plans to investigate Haliburton contracts under Cheney's leadership, or to create a Cheney Medal in honor of Mary Cheney, to be awarded to people who contribute to social progress for gays, or to build a Cheney statue to honor Vietnam-era draftees who had the courage to stand by their convictions and refuse military service, or something along those lines, in the hopes of seeing him turn purple and fall over.

Posted by: efgoldman on February 26, 2010 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, we do not stoop to their level in this area. One needs to stay above the low road and let their actions speak for their character.

Posted by: Roger on February 26, 2010 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

History will not be kind to Barack Obama.

Posted by: square1 on February 27, 2010 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

The various reactions above to Obama's Cheney phone call remind me of the way FDR polarized the public.

Republican's refused to say his name, calling him "That Man", while others called him "Our Greatest President."

Obama's brief time in the public eye gives us little to judge him by. Remember G W's popularity numbers at Ground Zero?

Some say he's aloof, afraid to get his hands dirty, while others see him as Mr. Spock, playing three dimensional chess with lesser mortals.

I'm withholding judgement until there's more to work with. Until, say the second half of his second term. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 27, 2010 at 7:03 AM | PERMALINK

Something to make everyone's morning from CNN:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/26/liberals.atheists.sex.intelligence/

Posted by: DelCapslock on February 27, 2010 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

DAY: The difference is that, while FDR was polarizing, those on his side calling him "Our Greatest President" represented a majority of the country. FDR was so wildly popular that the Democrats remained the dominant political party for roughly the next 30 years. When Eisenhower and Nixon ran for President and governed, they did so within the liberal paradigm that FDR had created. As for FDRs enemies and critics, he said "I welcome their hate."

OTOH, Obama steadfastly refuses to antagonize anyone (not that his incessant pleas for bipartisanship will ever placate the GOP, nor will calling arch-scumbag Cheney on the phone). He is so unwilling to fight for principles (other than the principle of not antagonizing Wall Street) that a majority of his own party now thinks of him as a disappointment.

Obama entered the WH with massive advantages, including huge majorities in Congress. But he is like a quarterback who starts a football game at home, with an all-pro offensive line, receiver corps and running back, who proceeds to throw 3 interceptions and fumbles the ball 4 times in the first quarter. I do not need to wait until the 4th quarter to realize that he is not getting the job done.

Posted by: square1 on February 27, 2010 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Obama humiliated Cheney. End of story.

Posted by: SqueakyRat on February 28, 2010 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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