Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 26, 2010

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

* Election results in Iraq: "The former interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite once derided as an American puppet, galvanized the votes of Sunnis who sat out Iraq's first national elections and clawed his way back from political obscurity. But his wafer-thin edge of 91 to 89 over his nearest rival, the incumbent prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, falls far short of the majority of 163 of the 325 seats in parliament that he needs to form a government."

* Uh oh: "A South Korean naval ship sank early Saturday after an explosion tore a hole in its bottom near a disputed sea border with North Korea. The cause of the explosion was not clear, and the Seoul government did not blame North Korea for the incident."

* Campaign-finance ruling: "A federal appeals court on Friday handed another victory to conservative opponents of campaign-finance restrictions, striking down limits on individual contributions to independent groups who want to use the money for or against candidates in federal elections."

* Welcome changes to the Home Affordable Modification Program and the Federal Housing Administration program: "The Obama administration announced new ways Friday to tackle the foreclosure crisis, in part by requiring lenders to temporarily slash or eliminate monthly mortgage payments for many borrowers who are unemployed."

* Senate Republicans did what they do best: they blocked an extension of unemployment benefits.

* House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) spokesperson tries to explain why the GOP leader got the story of the magic bullet so very, very wrong this week.

* The closer one looks at the right's health care claims, the more one realizes conservatives are practically allergic to honest debate.

* In Tennessee, a man named Harry Weisiger apparently saw a stranger with an Obama-Biden bumper sticker, and proceeded to lose his mind.

* Fact-checking Joe Scarborough's claim that the Affordable Care Act represents "largest tax increase in history." (Hint: he's lying.)

* Despite foolish rumors to the contrary, members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in the new insurance exchanges created by the ACA. They did not "exempt" themselves, no matter what your emails from your crazy uncle say.

* On a related note, no, the IRS will not be auditing people to see if they have health insurance.

* Ever get the feeling that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) just isn't well?

* Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is coming on strong as one of Congress' nuttier members.

* How much student debt is too much?

* When we reported about the need for a beefed up rail corridor to ease truck traffic on 1-81, we were ahead of the curve.

* And on his Fox News show, Glenn Beck decried "using the politics of fear." Seriously.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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Clearly, Nunes has a bet with Bachmann and King on which one can make the craziest statement before getting called on it by a major news organization.

Posted by: Kris on March 26, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

The comments on that Tennessee story are amazing.

Posted by: TR on March 26, 2010 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I'm waiting for Michele Bachmann to admit that she's a actually a liberal comedianne and has been so accurately lampooning the extreme right wing that they bought her, hook line and sinker.
But saddly, I have to admit that it's possible for a republican that deranged, to not only be elected to office, but become a prominant voice.

Posted by: JoeW on March 26, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't the US/Bush Adminstration kick Allawi to the curb because he was too willing to cut deals with Sunni insurgents and former members of Baath Party? That should make for an interesting dynamic.

Posted by: thorin-1 on March 26, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) spokesperson....

Brad Dayspring: Clearly the Mouth of Sauron if ever there was one---and it took him HOW LONG to get on this one? He's not spinning to correct the mis-speak; he's spinning because his boss got caught in so obvious a lie.

GOPers are only ever sorry that they got caught....

Posted by: S. Waybright on March 26, 2010 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

He's not spinning to correct the mis-speak; he's spinning because his boss got caught in so obvious a lie.

And it's a fair bet that Cantor and/or a member of his staff will repeat the lie again next week and no reporter will call them on it. And it will be a mainstay of tea-bagger rhetoric for at least the next six months.

There are still GOP/tea-baggers activists repeating the death panel nonsense long after even Congressional Republicans backed off.

Posted by: thorin-1 on March 26, 2010 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

I thought I'd link to Politifact shooting down the other side of the tax cut argument -- namely that Durbin was also totally wrong. People might not naturally follow it from that posting analyzing Scarborough's claim.

Posted by: Dilip on March 26, 2010 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah you make fun of Cantor, but look at what some mean Democrat did to him now!

Posted by: Nied on March 26, 2010 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Beck, Bachmann, Nunes, Cantor. The crazy is strong within them.

Posted by: MattF on March 26, 2010 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding this:

"Despite foolish rumors to the contrary, members of Congress and their staffs must enroll in the new insurance exchanges created by the ACA. They did not "exempt" themselves, no matter what your emails from your crazy uncle say."

Politifact, once again, believes this is partially right:

Posted by: Dilip on March 26, 2010 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

The "welcome changes" to the HAMP program are not so welcome to those of us who have patiently been saving and waiting to buy something affordable. All of these efforts are "extend and pretend": trying to keep banks afloat by milking people who bought unaffordable homes into making those payments just a few months longer. Are renters going to get a 3 month payment holiday? No, didn't think so.

Posted by: Jimmy Jazz on March 26, 2010 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hmm...getting trucks of I-81 with $300 million of Federal funds, to go to a private corporation (Norfolk Southern) to operate a new rail trunk from New Jersey to Tennessee.

For me, sounds like a wise investment.

But, remind me again, what do Republicans call it when the Federal government gets involved in large projects like this, regulating and managing private companies.


And look who is calling for this $300 million of Federal money? I quote: "Bob Riley, a Republican, is governor of Alabama. Haley Barbour, a Republican, is governor of Mississippi...Bob McDonnell, a Republican, is governor of Virginia.

In fact, aren't the Attornies General of Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia SUING to block Federal involvement in private business????

Posted by: PQuincy on March 26, 2010 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

"The comments on that Tennessee story are amazing."

Posted by: TR on March 26, 2010 at 5:52 PM

No shit. 99% of the posters are contorting themselves to put the blame on the guy who got rammed, trying to claim that he entrapped him somehow. Even after a second story came out with an EYEWITNESS who said that the whacko rammed the guy more than once.

I'm sorry, but these people in TN are fucking twisted.

Posted by: bdop4 on March 26, 2010 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

I applaud helping unemployed people deal with mortgages, and I think we should force down interest bubbles in mortgage contracts. But this effort to bail out "underwater" people is an expensive and unfair (to the rest of us) farce. If you can make payments, your house not "being worth" as much on the market is not any immediate problem for most such people and nothing for us to bail out. You don't have the right for everything you wanted to go up in value, to do so. Buyers decided to get "a home" for X/month, and that's what they've got. It's not our duty to shore that up as an investment vehicle, especially since the bubble of "value" increase should never have happened in the first place.

If you can afford payments, than you should just keep on doing so. Finally, you can't get as much for your house if you have to sell it, but presumable you need a new one anyway. That one will be cheaper too, so it roughly cancels out.

Posted by: neil b on March 26, 2010 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, they're all class those Tea Party folk . . .


Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on March 26, 2010 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure Michele Bachman is perfectly healthy. She's just not very smart. Well, not smart at all. Okay, stupid.

Posted by: cmac on March 26, 2010 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

So apparently McLame and Pale-in (comparison) are now taking up Bonehead's "hell no" mantra and saying the Republicans are "the party of hell no". What happens when little Piper Palin starts mimicking her mom and using the H-word. Will she get in trouble? What about "family values"? Guess that went out the window when Pale-in (comparison) and other Rethugs started advocating and inciting their followers to commit violence against those they deem their political enemies.

These people are not only juvenile they are highly dangerous.

Posted by: Hannah on March 26, 2010 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

I just wanted to let everyone know that I found a really, really neat side-effect of HCR: a new-found ability to tell, without any doubt at all, whom amongst the people I know are clinically f***ing insane.

As soon as I hear/read anything about losing freedom or costs or taxes or DEATH PANELS!!! I know that person is in short supply, or dire need, of medication.

It's also made my Facebook friends list much easier to manage ...

Posted by: Mark D on March 26, 2010 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Party of No - no compassion, no brains, no honesty, no shame.

Posted by: N.Wells on March 26, 2010 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK


are the happening places!

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 26, 2010 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

Benen has used the term "lying" or "lies" very nicely today.

Perhaps it could become a Benen meme for description of Republican information, ideas, thinking, talking points or whatever.

Of course it would only be used when appropriate. Often.

Posted by: mad_nVT on March 26, 2010 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

TR, those Tennessee comments were shocking! No concern for the child, blamed the guy with the bumper sticker and thinks he probably deserved it. These people are just beyond the pale.
I'm wondering, why did I behave like a lady when President Bush was blowing the bank roll on a "lied us in to it" war?

Posted by: maggie on March 26, 2010 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

The NK ship sinking was an interesting headline story.

On HuffPo, the headlines progressed:

Korean navy ship sinking off west coast

Korean navy ship sinking off west coast of South Korea

NK Ship sunk after explosion off SK west coast

I just love HuffPo headline evolution.

Posted by: tomj on March 27, 2010 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

in the "open vein" thread:

TPMDC has the Sunday talking heads line-up posted and, for the third week running (I think) there's no President (Chipmunk) McCain scheduled to pontifi... er... to illuminate the current situation (could be because he's back home, whooping it up... er... fundraising with the Caribou Barbie). Anyway... Most of the line-ups are dead-boring but this one caught my attention:

CBS, Face The Nation: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

So, who's gonna face the nation? Two dementeds and one milky way. I don't watch TV, so it's no skin off my nose but, really... They hope to sell any ads on the strength of *that*?

Posted by: exlibra on March 27, 2010 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Someone has been keeping track.


Posted by: Dave on March 27, 2010 at 5:42 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing the things you find on the intertubes. Now there is a call to include, get this, "Confederate Southern Americans" on the census forms and consider it a "race".


Posted by: Dave on March 27, 2010 at 6:29 AM | PERMALINK

I was awoken this AM by my kitty cats, so I've been doing some reading. In line with the report above about Confederate Southern Americans, seems to me they want to establish a new "race" and be considered a minority. In doing so, IMHO, would reduce the white race count in this years census and start to make white a minority sooner than anticipated according to the report below.


Posted by: Dave on March 27, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

Bachmann continues to do a great job of positioning herself for a Republican presidential run in 2012. She knows exactly what to say to her base, she's completely indifferent to objective truth, and she's cultivating the networks to get plenty of un-contradicted air time to promote herself and her views. She's going to be a power in the party.

Posted by: Midland on March 27, 2010 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Er, tomj, did you stay a tad too long at the bar with Harry Weiseger, yesterday? I would suggest you peruse the headline at Huffpo about the South Korean Naval vessel which sunk.

Interesting though about the difference in comments left at the Nashville ABC affiliate and those on the web site of the Tennessean, the Nashville newspaper. The ones posted at the newspaper's site are far more civilized. The ABC station must have picked up a great deal of viewers from the FOX affiliate, WZTV. However, the article from the Tennessean quotes Duren, the victim, as being upset with comments from left wing sites, especially, anyone calling Weisiger a "lunatic" - Duren said that anyone who over drinks can make poor decisions. He asks for more compassion for Weisiger.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 27, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

i would suggest that if we WERE in a totalitarian regime, people like nunes would be taken outside and shot for saying this shit....

Posted by: dj spellchecka on March 27, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Home mortgage modifications? Instead of just forgiving part of the principle, have the "bank" take a percent ownership in the home? If they forgive 10% and take a 10% ownership position, the owner is off the hook for 20% of the principle and the bank may make back some of it's money if the house is sold for more than they "paid" for it. Yes, devil in details, but lenders also need some skin in the game. Once they can pass off all their risk to other suckers, I mean investors, we'll have a major problem. (hmmm...) This way, people take a hit for buying too much house and banks take a hit for overselling bad mortgages to both the mortgagee and the investors in the "safe" mortgage backed investments.

Posted by: golack on March 27, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Iyad Allawi? Are you shitting me? The same Iyad (sometimes "Ayad") Allawi that the American provisional Iraqi Government frantically tried to get jockeyed into the top slot? The Iyad Allawi that was so chummy with Iranian spy/agitator and sometime Iraqi oil minister Ahmed Chalabi (whom Washington always forgives, no matter what he's done, because he's totally without scruples and will do anything for money)? That Iyad Allawi?

How is this not a huge story?

Posted by: Mark on March 27, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: international news on April 1, 2011 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK
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