Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 24, 2010

WEDNESDAY'S EXTRA-EARLY MINI-REPORT.... I have a medical appointment this afternoon that I've been pushing off until after the health care vote, so I'm afraid I have to wrap up early. Hoping that nothing extraordinary happens between now and 5:30, here's today's early edition of quick hits:

* Done deal? "President Obama and his Russian counterpart, President Dmitri A. Medvedev, have broken through a logjam in their arms control negotiations and expect to sign a new treaty in Prague next month that would slash American and Russian nuclear arsenals, officials from both nations said Wednesday."

* U.S. housing market still struggling.

* Not helpful: "With strains still high between Israel and the United States over the issue of Jewish settlements, construction of a contentious Jewish housing project in a predominantly Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem could start at any time, Israeli officials and experts said Wednesday."

* Improved prospects for financial industry reform?

* As promised, President Obama signed that executive order today on abortion funding.

* Today's must-read: "For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government's biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago."

* Funny, I didn't realize Republicans would be able to parse "full repeal."

* What's in the new health care law? The White House puts together a compelling list.

* Brian Beutler puts together a wild list of the 10 most ridiculous GOP-proposed health care amendments.

* Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) should probably offer taxpayers a hint as to how much of their money he'll waste challenging health care reform.

* The Wall Street Journal makes very odd editorial decisions.

* Winners in the fight over student loan reform.

* Dear Michael Steele, avoid the phrase "firing line."

* And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wants everyone to know, "I am pleased to report that, contrary to Sen. Bunning's prediction, I am alive and in good health."

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 3:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (37)

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Comments

You gotta love Ginsburg!

Just heard that the tea bag crowd cut a gas line at the home of a dem reps brother!

Posted by: JS on March 24, 2010 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

Show Nancy Pelosi that you're grateful for her efforts to keep health care reform alive. Call 866-596-1860 and send 3 roses for her birthday for $10.

More info here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/3/24/848163/-Yet-Another-Update:-1,740-Roses-for-Speaker-Pelosis-70th-Birthday!!

Let's show the Tea Party-ers that we know how to make our voices heard too and can do it more civilly.

Posted by: rainey on March 24, 2010 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Brian Beutler puts together a wild list of the 10 most ridiculous GOP-proposed health care amendments.

10. Sen. Tom Coburn: To require all Members of Congress to read a bill prior to casting on a vote on the bill.

Will Republican Senators and Reps be permitted to find someone who can read bills to them?


Posted by: SteveT on March 24, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

"Anything to add?"
Well, I just had a look at Fred Barnes' (of WEEKLY STANDARD infamy) April 6 list of "liberal dream agenda" items that "real Americans" of course had to stop at all costs.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/016/336gisqv.asp

So how are we progressives doing?

> government-run health care,

Accomplished and a f*cking big deal, hooray!


> a vast array of personal and business tax increases,

Here, Barnes naturally loathes the idea of allowing the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire, but this is what precisely what's happening.


> government authority to seize financial institutions in addition to banks.

The government did take over General Motors two months later to prevent the company from going under, but it is of course not something we progressives really enjoy.


> a cap-and-trade carbon tax,

Still work in progress, possibly before November elections?


MARCU$

Posted by: mlindroo on March 24, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I have a medical appointment this afternoon that I've been pushing off until after the health care vote [...] -- Steve Benen

I can't believe that they've implemented any of it that fast; not even for you :)

Posted by: exlibra on March 24, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, please, please, please tell us you're not unwell.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 24, 2010 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

...able to parse "full repeal."

What's so ridiculous about that? It obviously means that, whichever pieces are repealed, they'll be repealed fully. How do we know that's not what Republicans meant all along???

Posted by: Grumpy on March 24, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

"The Wall Street Journal makes very odd editorial decisions."

Fox News in print.

Posted by: Chris on March 24, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Grumpy...did you shout at any clouds today?

Just checking. ;-)

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 24, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

you heard it hear first: Steve is throwing a tantrum because the HCR didn't include a public option, and so starting the day after signing, he is refusing to work after 3:30.

serious, Steve, not that its any of our business but I hope all is well. I think you've earned an afternoon off.

Posted by: zeitgeist on March 24, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

rainey is a fantastic name, rainey. Someone I care about very much goes by that name in the real world.

Posted by: doubtful on March 24, 2010 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Zeit, Steve has earned a month off! But, please, don't tell him that...I don't know what I would do without Steve Benen and coffee in the morning. Life as I know it would cease to exist.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 24, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Ironic that Justice Ginsburg in all likelihood will still have her job when Senator Bunning has retired from his.

Posted by: scott_m on March 24, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Be careful at your doctor's appointment, Steve. If your doctor sends you to a colleague "for consultation", it could be a Death Panel.

Posted by: Al on March 24, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

@ exlibra

Good one! LOL.

Posted by: ted on March 24, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

* Dear Michael Steele, avoid the phrase "firing line."
I have failed wonderfully to follow the connection this makes .

Posted by: FRP on March 24, 2010 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

>>>"The Wall Street Journal makes very odd editorial decisions."

Could someone please explain this one to me.....I am a little slow today. TIA.

Posted by: ted on March 24, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Ted,

page shows headline above healthcare signing which is favorable to those who want massive tax-breaks, i.e. the already greedily wealthy.

So how come Steve is surprised?

Wall Street Journal = big fucking tax breaks over big fucking deal.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 24, 2010 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

@ Tom

Got it. Thanks.

Posted by: Ted on March 24, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

yeah, that Obama sure is unpopular these days. for his first sell-the-HCR stop in Iowa City tomorrow, there are 3,000 tickets available and only. . . 16,000 people have signed up. so far. must really suck to have such low approval.

Posted by: zeitgeist on March 24, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Done deal? "President Obama and ... President ... Medvedev, ... expect to sign a new treaty in Prague next month that would slash American and Russian nuclear arsenals..."

Still has to be ratified by the Senate. I wonder if the Republicans would actually go so far as to filibuster an arms control treaty? Wait, of course they would. I wonder how that will look on the world stage?

The US Senate unable to ratify an Arms Control Treaty. Forget cooperation on Non-proliferation.

Posted by: thorin-1 on March 24, 2010 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Two comments on two separate points:

(1) I work in a blue-state AG's office. Figuring out how much taxpayer money Cuccinelli is spending on this challenge to the health care law is not a matter of finding out information; it's more like reconstruction. The people working on the case, from the lowest line AAG or paralegal to the AG himself, are on flat salary. If they weren't doing this, they'd either be doing other work or wasting their time on the internet. One could more or less arbitrarily assign an hourly rate to all of those folks (but on what base of assumed hours?) and do a simple arithmetic exercise, but that would be artificial. Unless someone has been hired to do work that would otherwise be done by these people, the taxpayers aren't paying more than filing fees or a minuscule mount for consumable office supplies because of this lawsuit. Not to defend the lawsuit. It's better that the resources not be put to bad use, but the marginal increase in resource use is tiny and any perceived gain from better results from spending the extra time on other cases is speculative.
(2) Is it just me, or have others noticed that a fair number of otherwise well-informed people who are, shall we say, unlikely for political or cultural reasons to have a significant number of Jewish friends and acquaintances, have trouble spelling the name of one of America's most prominent Jews?

Posted by: CJColucci on March 24, 2010 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) should probably offer taxpayers a hint as to how much of their money he'll waste challenging health care reform.

From the link: At a press conference, State Sen. Doald McEachin accused the AG of pushing "a right wing agenda" with the approval of Gov. Bob McDonnell, and blasted Cuccinelli for devoting time to a suit that is"doomed to fail."

See? There's someone left in Virginia politics who has a brain!

Posted by: chrenson — of Va. on March 24, 2010 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

There is lots of irony in conservative opposition to mandatory purchase of health insurance. They often complain that they don't like for people to get services and not have to pay for them. Well, sick people without HI do get expensive treatment anyway (as the cons somehow love to point out) in e.g. ERs. So making people buy the insurance lines right up with their usual viewpoint on that much of the issue. Maybe it's subsidizing the purchases that's the real problem?

CJColucci: under principles of full-cost accounting that takes "counterfactuals" into account, the money "cost" of doing X includes lost work that would have been done instead. The easy way to cost it, is to take the equivalent hourly rate and say "this is what'd we would have paid to get real work done, that didn't get done because AG was off on a tangent." Then add the direct extra costs.

Posted by: neil b, on March 24, 2010 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Nuke treaty with the Russians?

"I want Obama to fail!"--Rush

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on March 24, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Steele's "firing line" comments are watered-down porridge, compared to the cover story on Mother Jones. Soldiers talking about going AWOL and shooting at their own, all in the name of those wretched OathKeeper twits?

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 24, 2010 at 7:18 PM | PERMALINK


If not mentioned already in nutty-rightie links:
Daily Mail says that about 1/4 of Repubs think Obama may be Anti-Christ:

Daily Mail

Wouldn't Lady Gaga make a terrific Great Harlot?

Posted by: neil b on March 24, 2010 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

{{{thwack}}}

bwahahaha ... take that, senator bunning. justice ginsburg is one very tough woman.

Posted by: bkny on March 24, 2010 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

If the Senate stops work at 2, then you should be able to stop early in sympathy.

Posted by: bakho on March 24, 2010 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

[...] have trouble spelling the name of one of America's most prominent Jews?
Posted by: CJColucci on March 24, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Just whom did you have in mind? I honestly don't know. Krugman (whose name, easily, could have been spelled "Krugmann")? Ginsburg/Ginsberg confusion (a difference between a "town" and a "mountain", but, again, both versions are viable)? Someone else?

I will not ask how you formed this supposition:

[...] otherwise well-informed people who are, shall we say, unlikely for political or cultural reasons to have a significant number of Jewish friends and acquaintances [...]

though it does puzzle me... How on earth does one identify a Jew, to exclude him (or her) from the rolls of one's friends and acquaintances, "for political and cultural reasons" (or any other reasons, at that)?

Posted by: exlibra on March 24, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

* Funny, I didn't realize Republicans would be able to parse "full repeal."

My bad. I misread "full repeal" and instead saw "fool repeal."

Which actually is my view of many elected Republicans, repeal those fools, recall them, keep them as far away from any elected office as possible..., i.e., "fool repeal."

Posted by: The Oracle on March 24, 2010 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

Market is getting a little skeptical of taking on more U.S. debt:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/36017859

Posted by: Jon Marfelson on March 24, 2010 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

Icing on a teabag cake...

Your mission? See to it that teabaggers are tossed into the the compost pile. Every chance you get, and in every way you get: Undermine, ridicule, insult, and eviscerate teabaggers. When you make an boo-boo slap your head and shout out: I must have soggy teabags for brains! Going for a walk? Don't forget the cheap teabags. If you see a pile of dog dirt drop a teabag hat on it...

You get the idea: Teabaggers are to be the butt of every joke. All that being said, it is good to see Gary Trudeau enjoin the battle once again and bring Sunday Doonesbury back into relevancy. He had been losing it with endless morally muted panes on Iraq war soldiers.
Tepid timid stuff...

We need all hands on deck now.
Everyone with a sharp pen and mordant tongue in full denigration mode...

[Aside @ Gary Trudeau: Since when does racism need philosophical coherence? Take us there next Sunday, please...]

Posted by: koreyel on March 24, 2010 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder what the story is with Scott Brown in Mass. he keeps whining and whining that Rachel Maddow is going to run against him and asking for money. Rachel keeps saying she has no intention of running for office and tries to call his office to make it clear, they will not even take her calls.
I think Mass. just elected a real scared chicken.

Posted by: JS on March 25, 2010 at 6:50 AM | PERMALINK

I hope that you are just going for a check up. Hope that there is no real problem. Be well!!

Posted by: ecthompson md on March 25, 2010 at 6:55 AM | PERMALINK

When will someone write a book about the Bush family cleaning out the banks and financial institutions when leaving office?

I saw Jeb on the teevee this am and wondered when they will run him for potus and take a third strike at not robbing not just one bank, but all the banks.

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Posted by: pete on March 25, 2010 at 7:45 AM | PERMALINK

1. CJColucci: under principles of full-cost accounting that takes "counterfactuals" into account, the money "cost" of doing X includes lost work that would have been done instead. The easy way to cost it, is to take the equivalent hourly rate and say "this is what'd we would have paid to get real work done, that didn't get done because AG was off on a tangent." Then add the direct extra costs.
That would, of course, be the way to do it, but ascertaining the number of available hours for alternative work that would be devoted to alternative work is tricky. Most of the time, there is some slack in the schedules of the lawyers, paralegals, and what-have-you. There would have to be, or we could never take a case to trial, rush in for emergency relief, or generally manage our caseloads. The time I'm taking to read this post and comments could, theoretically, be devoted to real work, just as the time I spend on disposing of ridiculous cases brought by plaintiffs that I must respond to could be devoted to more work on cases I might actually have a chance of losing. Unless the Virginia AG's staff is stretched near its limits, however, much of the time spent on this wacky case would otherwise go to relatively unproductive use, like closing and boxing up old cases, filing the stuff in the pile on the credenza, and the like.

2. ex libra: The "prominent Jew" is a Supreme Court Justice whose name a United States Senator mis-spelled, Ruth Bader GinsbUrg. I've noticed on right-leaning LEGAL sites an unusual number of people who mis-spell it "GinsbErg." There is often independent evidence that people from certain political and social backgrounds rarely associate with Jews. How they know who's Jewish and how to avoid them -- if they do, and if their lack of exposure to Jews isn't largely geographical or the result of cultural and political self-selection (how many Jews likely run in Jim Bunning's circles in Kentucky?)-- is somethiong you'll have to ask them, not me.

Posted by: CJColucci on March 25, 2010 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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