Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 30, 2010

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

* White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will leave his post tomorrow, in preparation for a mayoral campaign in Chicago. His post will be filled, at least for now, by senior adviser Pete Rouse, though he may be "interim" and may not want the job long-term.

* A pleasant surprise: "New claims for unemployment benefits plunged by 16,000 last week to 453,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday, a steeper fall than had been anticipated in a sign that labor markets may be strengthening modestly."

* The Senate managed to confirm two Federal Reserve Board governor nominees, Janet Yellen and Sarah Bloom Raskin. A third, economist Peter Diamond, was blocked by Republicans for no reason. Again.

* Afghanistan: "Pakistan brought a critical NATO supply route for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan to an abrupt halt on Thursday after NATO aircraft crossed into Pakistan in a confused attack that killed three Pakistani paramilitary troops."

* Revised totals showed that the economy grew at 1.7% in the second quarter, up ever so slightly from the previous 1.6% estimate.

* AIG is paying us back, and will likely return a profit to U.S. taxpayers.

* No progress on the Korean peninsula: "The first military talks in two years between North and South Korea ended Thursday with no apparent progress and no new talks scheduled, according to an official with South Korea's Defense Ministry."

* The Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) staffer who published an item online saying "all fa**ots must die" has been identified and fired.

* With Elizabeth Warren leaving the Hill for the administration, departing appointed Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.) will take her place overseeing TARP for Congress. He's a strong choice.

* Good: "J.P. Morgan Chase, one of the nation's leading banks, announced Wednesday that it will freeze foreclosures in about half the country because of flawed paperwork, a move that Wall Street analysts said will pressure the rest of the industry to follow suit. "

* Congress' Net Neutrality bill dies.

* Andrew Shirvell, a lawyer in the office of Michigan Attorney General, seems like a very odd man.

* This is pretty scandalous: "Experts are now seriously questioning Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy Louie Puroll's much-hyped tale of being shot by drug smugglers in a remote part of the Arizona desert. But even if every detail of Puroll's story is true, it still does not square with many of the claims the Sheriff's office has peddled about the case."

* President Obama gave a hearty plug to Jon Stewart's planned rally to "restore sanity" yesterday in Virginia. Describing the kind of folks who'll attend, Obama said, "They are just expecting some common sense. ... Having those voices lifted up is really important."

* And maybe it's just me, but when I hear about a "Goldilocks" planet that appears capable of supporting life, I don't think, "Cool, maybe there are aliens there." I think "Cool, maybe we can move there after we've finished screwing up here."

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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

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Comments

If Democrats really wanted to win and bring many of the angry Teapublicans over to a stance more favorable to Democrats, they would try to get the Tea Party to adopt the slogan "Bring the taxes on home." By that I mean making the public aware of the huge and chronic subsidy of Red states by Blue states in terms of federal taxes paid in vs. federal expenditures made back in each state.
Example: in 2005 California sent $50 Billion, and NY $20 B, more in tax dollars to Washington than it received back in all forms of Federal spending, and it has been going on for many decades. The Blue states are vastly subsidizing the red states, which is a form of ingrained socialism, isn't it? This fact would shatter the beliefs and mythology of the earnest Teapublicans. The Red and Blue maps fit almost perectly over the net recipients and net contributor states. Amazing!

Here's the non-partisan citation and source, theTaxFoundation, founded in 1937 to pursue efficient tax policy.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/266.html

This page and its backup pages show the dollar percentage each state pays and gets back in Federal spending. NJ gets back 62 cents for every dollar paid in. Alaska get more than $2.

Doesn't any Democrat realize how explosive of a campaign and political issue this is? It is nuclear, but the wimpy Democrats seem, as Rachel Maddow says, that they want to lose the election given their limp campaigns and fear of fighting. Maybe copy this and send it to a few Dem friends up the ladder?

Posted by: Enough3 on September 30, 2010 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, I wonder when we will declare our war in Pakistan? Maddow is correct in her statements on this issue.

Posted by: Trollop on September 30, 2010 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

As a gay, I must concur with the unidentified staffer that indeed one day all gays will die! Indeed so will stupid people and Mr. Chambliss indeed die, none too soon I imagine for the sake of those left alive..

Posted by: Trollop on September 30, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

And maybe it's just me, but when I hear about a "Goldilocks" planet that appears capable of supporting life, I don't think, "Cool, maybe there are aliens there." I think "Cool, maybe we can move there after we've finished screwing up here."

Insufficiently cynical!

I think we'd move there only after we've finished screwing up here AND exterminated all the natives on the new planet.

Posted by: Quicksand on September 30, 2010 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Re the "pleasant surprise": a drop of approx. 4% should not be described as a 'plunge'. That's a 'slight, but welcome, drop'.

Very sloppy language.

Posted by: PowerOfX on September 30, 2010 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

No, if we find another planet, let the 30% of the country that keeps holding us back go there instead.

Posted by: Alli on September 30, 2010 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "... when I hear about a 'Goldilocks' planet that appears capable of supporting life, I don't think, 'Cool, maybe there are aliens there.' I think 'Cool, maybe we can move there after we've finished screwing up here'."

The discovery of the "Goldilocks" planet Gliese 581g is a hugely impressive accomplishment for astronomy. Congratulations to the team that made the discovery.

But "we" are not going anywhere.

Except to the hell on Earth that we are busily creating.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on September 30, 2010 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK
AIG is paying us back, and will likely return a profit to U.S. taxpayers.

I'd say that Republicans would switch from criticizing the bailouts to criticizing the administration for brutally extorting money from innocent companies, but since facts never influence their attacks, I don't actually expect any change at all.

Posted by: Redshift on September 30, 2010 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

If Democrats really wanted to win and bring many of the angry Teapublicans over to a stance more favorable to Democrats, they would try to get the Tea Party to adopt the slogan "Bring the taxes on home."

That would require the Tea Party outrage about taxes to be remotely based on reality first. Since the Fox/talk radio GOP propaganda has already convinced them that taxes have gone up under the Obama administration when the opposite is true, I somehow doubt this fact would be much of a bombshell.

Posted by: Redshift on September 30, 2010 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

Americans are religions savants

How do you spin the epic fail on Pew's basic religion test given to 3400 Americans?
Leave it to the geniuses at Fox News to turn stupid into smart...

We Didn't Flunk the Religion Test--4 Important Truths about Americans and God:

Americans know more about religion than almost any other topic.
To begin, the 3,412 people polled for this study are not exactly students of history. The first substantive question respondents were asked was, “Can you tell me the name of the vice president of the United States?” Only 59% knew the correct answer. The same minimal number knew what antibiotics do, and an even smaller percentage could correctly name the New Deal as the signature program of Franklin Roosevelt. So as a baseline: These people were not very knowledgeable about the world in general.
By contrast, their answers about religion seemed downright worthy of the Nobel Prize. Three-quarters knew the Jewish Sabbath falls on Saturday; 68% knew the Constitution forbids the establishment of religion; 63% knew the first book of the Bible is Genesis; and the same number who knew Joe Biden knew the Koran is the holy book of Islam. Americans are religious savants.


Posted by: koreyel on September 30, 2010 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Man in search of a headline writer

Alli: No, if we find another planet, let the 30% of the country that keeps holding us back go there instead.

May I suggest: "Left Behind"?

Posted by: koreyel on September 30, 2010 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Chambliss fired the person involved but did not identify him. It seems as though transparency and personal responsibility is not important for Republicans.

Posted by: JL on September 30, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, your final thought was put forth exactly by Brian Williams tonight. As for "net neutrality" - incredibly, Limbaugh peddled the confusion that it meant neutrality of opinion - that it was like the fairness doctrine. He is that dishonest, his listeners are that stupid. Not even "incredible" anymore.

Posted by: neil b on September 30, 2010 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Cool, maybe we can move there after we've finished screwing up here."

If they have life, they might have oil.

Which means, we'll find a way to get there. Mary Landrieu will insist on it.

Posted by: Dwight on September 30, 2010 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

The reality of trans-planetary migration is that only a very few will be able to go, if any at all.
There is no possible way to charter a bunch of Greyhound space ships and move the whole population. Almost all of humanity is stuck here. We need to keep that clear in our heads.
Of those infinitesimally few that might possibly go, who will they be? Probably the scion of the very rich and powerful. The Koch family will have a berth, some Russian billionaires, no doubt, and the Saudi royal family. The new planet will be Hell from the start.
oldswede

Posted by: oldswede on September 30, 2010 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK
Rahm Emanuel will leave his post tomorrow, in preparation for a mayoral campaign in Chicago.

Did he poll Chicago? What makes Rhambo think he can win a dem primary?

I don't get it. He's shown himself to be a pretty vile person since becoming Obama's chief gofer.
How can anyone like him expect to get votes?

Could Chicagoans be that thick?

Posted by: cwolf on September 30, 2010 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sadly, Shirvell is not really an odd character at all, although perhaps a bit more extreme than usual. He's much the same as Larry Craig, Rev. Long, Mark Foley and many, many, many more self-hating, repressed gay men who have been taught all their lives that homosexuality is evil and must be denied. It's not at all unusual for people like that to have erotic attraction that takes the form of venomous hostility toward someone who represents everything they don't have -- happiness, self acceptance, and in this case, obviously, good looks. Exhibit A for why the closet is evil and soul-destroying.

Posted by: T-Rex on September 30, 2010 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

koreyel, @19:07
I'm hoping Steve will bring up the NYT article in his Saturday TWIG. As an atheist, I was pleased to hear that we know more about religion (especially when applied to *world-wide* belief systems) than everyone else, including the rabidengelicals :)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It seems as though transparency and personal responsibility is not important for Republicans.
Posted by: JL on September 30, 2010 at 7:36 PM, re: Chambliss staffer fired over anti-gay comments

"For me but not for thee" (and vice versa) should be the motto of the Teapubs; it seems to apply in *every* situation you can think of -- transparency, sins, personal responsibility, taxes, welfare... They seem to stand for two separate -- and not even equal -- universes.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Did he poll Chicago? What makes Rhambo think he can win a dem primary? -- cwolf, @22:03

Innate arrogance? Frankly, I don't give a s... for the *source* of his delusions. I'm just happy he's gone. I can't even force myself to care whether or not Chicago will hand him his ass on a platter, a la modernised version of Salome. It would be nice, but, who cares. The only unpleasant thought attendant on his departure is that Obama is likely to stump for him, thus bleeding off some more of his credibility.

Posted by: exlibra on September 30, 2010 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

AIG to return a profit to taxpayers? LOL. I don't think so. Not in this lifetime.

Posted by: square1 on September 30, 2010 at 10:52 PM | PERMALINK

Can somebody explain to me why a White House CoS, who used to be a U.S. congressman and the head of the DCCC wants to be the mayor of Chicago.

Is this a career track to becoming POTUS that I don't know about?

Posted by: manny on September 30, 2010 at 11:37 PM | PERMALINK

Did he poll Chicago? What makes Rhambo think he can win a dem primary?

He doesn't have to win a Dem primary. Chicago has a top-two primary system for municipal office. If no one cracks 50 percent (and no one will this time), the two candidates with the most votes, regardless of party, face off in a runoff election two months later. And, it pains me to say, Rahm will very likely be one of the top two.

Posted by: shortstop on September 30, 2010 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

And maybe it's just me, but when I hear about a "Goldilocks" planet that appears capable of supporting life, I don't think, "Cool, maybe there are aliens there." I think "Cool, maybe we can move there after we've finished screwing up here."

It's orbiting a dim, red, star. I don't know how many of you have spent time in the service in red light conditions aboard a ship, preparatory to going on night duty, but red light eventually makes you want to throw up if you stay in it for an extended period past a couple hours. For humans to live on a planet like this, they would have to be modified with "night eyes" to be able to survive.

And 20 light years is about 2,000 years one-way in a multi-generation ship going 95% of light speed. Not quite a real "alternative Earth."

Posted by: TCinLA on October 1, 2010 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

"when I hear about a 'Goldilocks' planet that appears capable of supporting life, I don't think, 'Cool, maybe there are aliens there.' I think 'Cool, maybe we can move there after we've finished screwing up here.'" —Steve Benen 5:30 PM

What a novel idea!
Y'know, I bet you could find a pretty good movie script somewhere in there.
Of course, it would take an exceptional director to do it justice -- somebody with both mainstream blockbusters and sci-fi in their oeuvre.
Say, wasn't the guy who did "Titanic" also the one who did "Aliens?" And at least one or two of the "Terminator" flicks?
What was his name again -- Cameron something-or-other? Cameron Crowe? No, that was "Jerry Maguire" and "Vanilla Sky." Russell Crowe? No, he's that actor buy who beats up on hotel clerks. Dammit, it's on the tip of my tongue...
But I do think you actually would want to have some aliens in there, too -- maybe a subplot involving a human-alien romance?
Well, maybe that's pushing it a bit -- too obviously derivative, like "Pocahantas" meets "Rambo" meets "Star Trek."
Still, you never know what a good director might be able to do with even the most hackneyed of plots... Especially if there are killer sfx in there too; maybe do it in 3d?

Posted by: smartalek on October 1, 2010 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

And 20 light years is about 2,000 years one-way in a multi-generation ship going 95% of light speed. Not quite a real "alternative Earth."

Which is why we should brand it the "Red" planet, tell Republicans that God made it for them without any liberals, and watch them pack their bags.

Posted by: square1 on October 1, 2010 at 7:31 AM | PERMALINK

AIG is paying us back, and will likely return a profit to U.S. taxpayers.

Barry Ritholtz says otherwise, and I think he's pretty convincing, summarizing that AIG numbers as follows:

Total Bailout: $182.3 billion dollars
Amount Still Owed: $132.1 billion (as of June 30, 2010)
Shares Outstanding: ~700 million
Current price: $39.10 (+$1.65)
Market Capitalization: ~$27 billion dollars

His point is that there's no way a firm with market cap of $27B can repay a debt of $132B. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/09/aig-repaying-uncle-sam-not-by-a-long-shot/

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on October 1, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

low-tech cyclist: Exactly!

Plus, look at two of the ways that they plan on "repaying" us: growth and selling off of assets.

Hello? We already OWN the company. Anticipated growth is already priced into value of the shares that the U.S. owns.

As for selling off of assets. Again, hello? We already own the company, including the assets that will be sold. If AIG sells assets and pays the gov't back with the cash, it will only diminish the value of the remaining shares that we own.

The company is worth what it is worth. It is worth less than what we put in. We aren't turning a profit.

Posted by: square1 on October 1, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

According to Saxby:

* The Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) staffer who published an item online saying "all fa**ots must die" has been identified and fired.

I can't think of one reason why anyone would believe anything said by Serial Liar Saxby Chambliss.

After all the shit he shoveled to get elected, his mother should have washed his mouth with brown soap.

Posted by: cwolf on October 1, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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