Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 1, 2010

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

* The official death toll in Chile stands at 723, with 19 others missing.

* As devastating as Chile's quake was, government regulations and preparations prevented it from being even worse.

* Uh oh: "Hazardous materials crews and the FBI were on the scene Monday at the IRS building in Ogden, Utah, where several people were subjected to decontamination showers.... The IRS confirmed that 'an unknown substance' was discovered but also gave no further details. Local news reports suggested that a suspicious white powder may have been found in mail delivered to the facility."

* Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-Ky.) tantrum is also hurting doctors in a serious way.

* Greece isn't out of the woods yet: "The commissioner for monetary affairs at the European Union, Olli Rehn, said Monday that austerity measures announced by the Greek government to stave off a mounting fiscal crisis were 'in the right direction' but not adequate to reduce a bloated budget deficit by 4 percent this year and tackle a debt crisis threatening the euro zone."

* President Obama has a rare opportunity to leave his mark on the Fed.

* Education on the agenda: "President Obama pledged today to tackle the dropout rate of American high school students, calling it an economic imperative if the United States intends to remain competitive in the global society."

* Let's just say cap-and-trade's future isn't looking very good.

* Republicans sure have voted in support of reconciliation a lot. It's enough to make me wonder if, perhaps, their whining is insincere now.

* As a connoisseur of John McCain's flip-flops, I can really appreciate how perfect this reversal is.

* Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) seems pretty annoyed at the media's reconciliation-related confusion. I don't blame him.

* Undergraduates just aren't interested in majoring in business anymore.

* If the Democrats' health care reform proposal goes easy on the insurance industry, why are they fighting so hard against it?

* Fact checking the Sunday shows.

* Rep. Nathan Deal (R) is resigning from Congress, ostensibly to focus his attention on his gubernatorial campaign. But there may be another explanation -- an embarrassing, ongoing ethics investigation.

* Keeping the Olympics in one permanent location? Where have I heard that idea before?

* And for all the hyperventilating about snowfall disproving climate change, January 2010 was the warmest January ever recorded. Someone ought to let Inhofe know.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (27)

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Comments

* Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-Ky.) tantrum is also hurting doctors in a serious way. -- Steve Benen

Pshaw; these are only the commie doctors, the ones who see Medicare and Medicaid patients. The Real American doctors, like our erstwhile contributor Mike K (not to be confused with his parodist nemesis, Myke K) will not be hurt at all, because they never accept patients culled from the great unwashed.

Posted by: exlibra on March 1, 2010 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Since it's an open thread, did anyone else catch the Q&A on C-SPAN yesterday, and re-run this AM?

Brian interviewed a Venezuelan photographer who has done a book on Washington, documenting the district, with heavy emphasis on the homeless, the outcasts, the sleepers on grates in the "Shining City on the Hill".

Devastating.

Posted by: DAY on March 1, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Given how many people Bunning has royally screwed with his temper tantrum, and his astonishing reactions to criticisms of it, shouldn't people be asking him to resign? In any other walk of life, his mental soundness would be a cause for great concern.

He doesn't know what he's doing, why he's doing it, or why people find it objectionable. And he's in a position to cause great harm to countless people. If only for the sake of his own dignity, he should retire now.

Posted by: JoeW on March 1, 2010 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

Bunning just became a posterboy for why one senator should not be able to block senate action indefinitely. If we could extend the reasoning from one senator who is no longer particularly attached to reality to one party that is no longer attached to reality, we'd be in good shape.

Posted by: N.Wells on March 1, 2010 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) seems pretty annoyed at the media's reconciliation-related confusion. I don't blame him."

I'm pretty annoyed at Conrad's inability to directly debunk BS GOP talking points and speak in simple declarative sentences. Instead, he regurgitates a bunch of sound bites that convey the exact opposite message. Heckuva job!

Posted by: bdop4 on March 1, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK


"Republicans sure have voted in support of reconciliation a lot. It's enough to make me wonder if, perhaps, their whining is insincere now."-Benen

Why are you being so damned nice about their blatant lying. They are even trying to conflate reconciliation with "the nuclear option" which they know aren't even related. These are lying dogs which is far beyond "insincere". They know a HCR bill has already passed. They KNOW reconciliation is for minor tweaks of the bill. They are lying and obstructing and are very sicere about their dishonesty.

Isn't you Steve who is always pointing out we should not just identify the problem but start making it clear just who is causing the problem...republicans.

Posted by: bjobotts on March 1, 2010 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

If nothing else, 2010 will go down as the year Americans woke up to the fact that corporate interests are ruining their country.

2010. A year when millions lost jobs.

2010. A year when it became crystal clear that a government for the people, by the people could just possibly vanish from the earth as corporate insurance profits sunk their tentacles into the very fabric of the American economy.

Finally. How does one reconcile snowfall with climate change?

Snow is a hexagonal crytalline lattice.

Climate is a macro concept.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 1, 2010 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like Ron Wyden may get a credible R challenger this fall. Rumor says that Lewis and Clark Law School prof Jim Huffman, (he is also the former Dean of that law School) will announce soon. The Tea Party mentality doesn't run too deep here in Oregon, though the R's have their share of crazies. But, they are a pragmatic group, and may excuse Huffman for being a smart, reasonable guy and send him to challenge Wyden, anyway.

http://theoregonpolitico.com/blog/2010/02/25/lewis-and-clark-law-professor-jim-huffman-to-announce-campaign-for-us-senate/

Posted by: JMC on March 1, 2010 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

As devastating as Chile's quake was, government regulations and preparations prevented it from being even worse.

Amen to that. But it bears mentioning that it is just that kind of regulation and government interference that the GOP generally opposes.

Posted by: majun on March 1, 2010 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

Because we are a nation of selfish third-graders who hate taxes and love recess...

Benen: "As devastating as Chile's quake was, government regulations and preparations prevented it from being even worse."

May I suggest bold Steve?

Posted by: koreyel on March 1, 2010 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Persistent SOB...
http://washingtonindependent.com/77958/bunning-kills-ui-extension-for-an-eleventh-time

Posted by: exlibra on March 1, 2010 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Why are you being so damned nice about their blatant lying.

I don't think that was politeness, bjobotts. That was the use of understatement for comedic effect. It's something Benen uses quite frequently, and I suspect that too often, people mistake this device as being some sort of sign that he just doesn't get it.

But I, on the other hand, would find this blog to be extremely boring if Benen always wrote "Republicans are still lying about..." before every post. We're not children and we don't need to be told what to think. Benen reports the news with enough analysis for us to get the point, and does so in a lighthearted way. And that's the reason this is often the only blog I read.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on March 1, 2010 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

If the Democrats' health care reform proposal goes easy on the insurance industry, why are they fighting so hard against it?

The same reason the credit card idustry fough so hard against a reform that didn't really hurt them. Appearance.

It also keeps the fight about things that, in the end, they don't really care about. A congress arguing over insurance subsidies is a congress not arguing about single-payer or Medicare for all. Stuff that actually would hurt them (and help the rest of us).

Posted by: thorin-1 on March 1, 2010 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Tomorrow is the day Texans vote in our primaries. A run off on the Republican side for governor could give us a chance to elect the first Democratic governor since Ann Richards. We won't know till the November 2nd election but Bill white is expected to be our nominee and is a good solid candidate.

Posted by: Kenneth D. Franks on March 1, 2010 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

The same reason the credit card idustry fough so hard against a reform that didn't really hurt them. Appearance.

Really. They're spending tons of money and all their influence in Congress to keep up appearances? I'm sorry, but that's totally lame and you should be embarrassed for having offered that explanation.

And no, the credit card industry ISN'T happy about the changes made, because it costs them plenty of money to look for loopholes and devise new gimmicks to rip people off. These people were plenty happy with the status quo, and none of this is good for them. Just because we didn't put them out of business doesn't mean they're happy about what we did.

Their biggest worry isn't even necessarily what's in this bill, though they're probably not happy about it, but that this is the thin end of the wedge. Because once it's established that the government is supposed to improve healthcare, we'll keep tightening and tightening things until we're essentially at single-payer. I'm not sure why you people pretend as if the bill we get now is the only bill we'll ever have, but it never works out that way. Social Security and Medicare were improved over the years too. And if we get this passed, Dems will keep promising to improve it every election and Republicans will get screwed harder every time. That's a can of worms the insurers surely want to avoid.

And sure, perhaps I'm wrong about this and the insurers are hiring all these lobbyists just as some sort of master fake-out, but that seems beyond far-fetched. Occam's Razor suggests that insurers are hiring lobbyists to oppose the bills because they oppose reform.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on March 1, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Premiums will go up: TRUTH. If you add on caveats it changes the meaning of the sentence. As George Will said, because you are getting, arguably after all, we'll see whether healthcare is better after this, a Lexus instead of an Accord does not mean it is not a premium increase. In fact, Barack Obama told a falsehood, but no one at all polite would accuse him of lying. Mistaken; confused; whatever ... just how loopy are you policy incompetents?

In fact, if you'd still adhere to them, this is de facto and de jure charge or tax increase on all 31 million uninsured USAers. If you think this is a winner in 2010, you deserve what's next.

Posted by: Real Democrat on March 1, 2010 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Consider joining the Coffee Party Movement. I kid you not, it's a counter to the Tea Party. They have a Facebook Page as you can imagine (not much doesn't anymore.) Van Jones is a FBF of mine and a fan, maybe others you'd know. Check it out, we need something to face teabaggers with. Wake up and smell the coffee!

Coffee Party on Facebook

Posted by: Neil B on March 1, 2010 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

"If the Democrats' health care reform proposal goes easy on the insurance industry, why are they fighting so hard against it?"

Because the dems will give them even *more.* When throwing a tantrum is rewarded you see more tantrums thrown.

If the insurance industry keeps fighting one of two things happens-
the dems pass the current giveaway bill
or the dems pass nothing and the reps pass even more of a giveaway bill

If the insurance industry stopped fighting we might actually make some ground. Can't let that happen.

Posted by: Tlaloc on March 1, 2010 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Real Democrat, premiums will go up for people with no insurance, as well as the under-insured. You got us. Guilty as charged.

To use your analogy, people who had bikes or walked to get around will now have the government subsidize their automobiles; assuming we're remembering that the "automobiles" in your analogy are human lives who will require automobiles throughout their lives. And...for people who already had these automobiles, their premiums will stay the same or go down.

Yeah, what a political loser for us. Thanks for the concern.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on March 1, 2010 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

"Education on the agenda: "President Obama pledged today to tackle the dropout rate of American high school students, calling it an economic imperative if the United States intends to remain competitive in the global society.""

Ummm..AFAIK there's substantial unemployment among high-school grads. There's also substantial unemployment among college grads.

While better education is a social good, it does less than anything for the economy at large. (More people with skills drives down wages)

Posted by: Karmakin on March 1, 2010 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

While better education is a social good, it does less than anything for the economy at large. (More people with skills drives down wages)

Uh, Karmakin? First off, unemployment is surely higher for dropouts than people who graduated high school. Secondly, it benefits the economy to have smarter citizens. Thirdly, what's at issue here is our competitiveness with other countries. No one's suggesting that high school graduation will make anyone recession-proof.

As for your point that it drives down wages to have more skilled workers...I'm dumbfounded. I suspect you're trying to say that wages for skilled workers goes down if we have more skilled workers, but that's different from suggesting that wages go down for everyone. Beyond that, high school grads generally aren't considered "skilled" workers. Rather, that's the bare minimum.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on March 1, 2010 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Doctor Biobrain -- nice of the troll to come pre-labeled Real Democrat, though. As in "I'm a Real Democrat, but..."

Posted by: Redshift on March 1, 2010 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

My hubby & I will be tossing our support to Bill White in the primary tomorrow.
I wish I had the new credo bumper stickers for all the GOP cult members I'll encounter at the polls.
OMG GOP, WTF!

-love it!
happy voting, fellow texans & wish us luck to the rest of ya.

Posted by: vwmeggs on March 2, 2010 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

Wait until average Americans realize that not paying bills is a business decision rather than a moral commitment.

" Someone ought to let Inhofe know"... What year it is?

Posted by: anomaly on March 2, 2010 at 7:07 AM | PERMALINK

Bunning looks much crazier when you realize he was one of those repubs that voted against Obama's paygo initiative.

Posted by: JS on March 2, 2010 at 7:37 AM | PERMALINK

* Republicans sure have voted in support of reconciliation a lot. It's enough to make me wonder if, perhaps, their whining is insincere now.

In my heart-of-hearts, Steve, I would like to believe this is an attempt at irony on your part. If, however, you are sincere about wondering if the Rethug's are 'insincere' then I am forced to be believe you just fell off the turnip truck.

Posted by: rRRk1 on March 2, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

* Uh oh: "Hazardous materials crews and the FBI were on the scene Monday at the IRS building in Ogden, Utah, where several people were subjected to decontamination showers.... The IRS confirmed that 'an unknown substance' was discovered but also gave no further details. Local news reports suggested that a suspicious white powder may have been found in mail delivered to the facility."_____________***

Good thing Bush(it) and DICK kept us safe from terrorism and caught those anthrax killers! Whew! That was so cool how they did that. And in record time too. Tried them in the military system, tortured their children in front of them by smashing their testicles with pliers, got confessions, and then blew their heads off. Now those killers can't try it again! Wait. NO? Oh, you mean that was only in their sick, bitter, twisted and delusional little minds? oh. ok. So much for keeping us safe,...DICK! Maybe you actually shoulda used some "legal" investigation and force here? Total tiny penis, 5 war deferment but many war starting ASSHOLE.

Posted by: In what repect, Charlie? on March 2, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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