Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 1, 2010

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

* Just a reminder, the Monthly's annual pledge drive is underway. We sincerely appreciate those of you who've already shown generous support, and hope other readers will take a moment to help out.

* A big win for Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration: "The Obama administration scored a victory in its drive to curb the worldwide spread of nuclear material with an agreement on Wednesday by the hard-line former Soviet republic, Belarus, to surrender its stockpile of highly enriched uranium by 2012."

* Fiscal commission reports, D.O.A.: "The leaders of President Obama's fiscal commission released a final report Wednesday that is full of political dynamite, recommending sharp cuts in military spending, a higher retirement age and reforms that could cost the average taxpayer an extra $1,700 a year."

* Colin Powell joins the White House's effort to press the Senate to ratify the pending arms control treaty with Russia, New START, during the lame-duck session.

* Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) effectively announced today that Dems need to cave on tax cuts for millionaires by Monday, or he'll undermine U.S. national security interests.

* Cutting off coastal drilling areas: "Pointing to the BP blowout and risks of a new environmental disaster, the Obama administration reversed itself Wednesday and promised not to pursue offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or anywhere else along the nation's East Coast."

* On the debate over tax policy, House Dems are going with the middle-class-first plan, whether Republicans like it or not.

* It was worse than we knew: "The Federal Reserve released documents Wednesday showing that its efforts to help stabilize the markets at the height of the financial crisis reached far beyond Wall Street and deep into the economy. The disclosures reveal the extent to which corporations were forced to rely on the Fed for the money to pay suppliers and make weekly payroll. The crisis in the commercial paper market, the documents show, was more extensive and lasted longer than was previously known."

* It's not marriage equality, but state lawmakers in Illinois today passed a bill for civil unions for same-sex couples. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) will sign the measure into law. (thanks to D.D. for the heads-up)

* Major news outlets love to gush about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Those same media organizations tend to ignore his massive screw-up, and subsequent dishonesty, about education policy.

* It's a rare treat to see a college accreditor actually flexing its muscles.

* The new right-wing scare tactic: DADT repeal might lead to a draft.

* And those 2.5 million Americans who've lost their unemployment benefits can thank the perpetually confused Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who was responsible for blocking the Democratic effort to extend the jobless aid. How "moderate" of him.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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If ya ain't got nuttin' else to do, tune in to C-SPAN 2, for live senate session. The Dems are showing some spine. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) kicked some R butt and Chuck Schumer is doing same.

Q: Where is Harry Reid?

Posted by: DAY on December 1, 2010 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

On the debate over tax policy, House Dems are going with the middle-class-first plan, whether Republicans like it or not.

That sounds like a great strategy. It will really help the Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections ...

Oh Wait.

Posted by: thorin-1 on December 1, 2010 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

It was worse than we knew:

Correction. It was worse then the MSN and the government let on. A whole lot of us KNEW just how bad things were/are. The Fed is still sitting on $2 trillion in bad debt taken from the banks and is basically covering it by printing money from nothing. Meanwhile the banks who benefited from the Fed's actions are still refusing to lend money to US economy. The Feds latest move is doing little. What little money the banks are investing is going to create new bubbles in developing economies.

Posted by: thorin-1 on December 1, 2010 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding ending DADT leading to a draft:

Hasn't Ollie North ever heard of stop-loss? 30% of the military can say whatever the hell they want, but they can't quit unless the army/navy/air force/marines let them.

Posted by: MCD on December 1, 2010 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Re Chris "Krispy Kreme" Christie: those of us from NJ with long memories remember that the national press had a similar love affair with Christie Whitman back in the 1990s. Just like the media are overlooking Christie's flaws and fuck-ups now, they did the same with Whitman and were shocked when she almost lost re-election in 1997 to a then-unknown Jim McGreevey. Even though those of us in NJ could have told anyone else who would've cared that Whitman wasn't very popular, just as we can tell anyone else who cares now that Christie isn't that popular in NJ either.

Krispy Kreme won't be President -- he may not even be governor after 2013.

Posted by: Eisbaer on December 1, 2010 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

On Huffington Post, defeated Ohio governor Ted Strickland, a coal-belt progressive who knows how to talk to both the base and his (and my) fellow Appalachians, issues a from-the-soul plea to Obama: "Democrats are suffering from 'Intellectual Elitism'" and "Realize these people (the Republicans) want to destroy you."

Posted by: ericfree on December 1, 2010 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

"The Obama administration scored a victory in its drive to curb the worldwide spread of nuclear material with an agreement on Wednesday by the hard-line former Soviet republic, Belarus, to surrender its stockpile of highly enriched uranium by 2012."

Maybe global nonproliferation efforts would be easier if everything wasn't always portrayed in such stark moralistic terms with glorious winners and loathsome losers. I wonder what the media response would be if Brazil asked the "hard-line" United States government to withdraw all of its tactical nuclear weapons from outside our territory proper?

Posted by: Anon on December 1, 2010 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Concerning the DADT story with the criminal Col. North expressing his alleged expertise: sure, that's what they always say. I'm not kidding. Literally, in country after country that had a no homosexuals policy, staff officers always say they will leave if the rule is changed.

Then the courts changed it, or the executive equivalent in that country changed it, and... nothing happens. The officers and soldiers don't quit, they stay right where they are. Because they typically discover that their peer and reporting personnel were composed of more gays than they knew -- and they were already competent and well-known to them. Look at all the per-country reports out of the Palm Center. They all say the same thing, whether is Israel, UK, or Australia.


Posted by: Rathskeller on December 1, 2010 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

3 whole days without a single link to The New Racist! wow, very impressive. keep up the good work, Steve, and 11 more such days and my check will be in the mail to the Monthly.

I think this is almost a new record

Posted by: some guy on December 1, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

I was so happy to hear Bernie Sanders tell it like it on Maddow yesterday re: Obama's preposterous wishy-washy behavior and magical thinking.

NO more excuses for this B.S. about Obama still thinking Republicans will negotiate and compromise and have good will.

He point blank said Obama has appeared to learn nothing in two years.

Posted by: Boy was I wrong about Obama on December 1, 2010 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

What is so scary about a draft? It would probably get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan a lot faster than Barry will.

Posted by: montag on December 1, 2010 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

And I think it was Howard Fineman (on Olbermann or Maddow) who said that Obama appears to have no plan.

It's like a horror show.

Why is he afraid to be angry and tell the American people that they're being screwed.

And he keeps using softy comments like we won't get anywhere with 'grid-lock.


More like treason, complete obstructionism that is endangering millions.

He seems so indifferent now. So much for "fired-up".

Posted by: Grid-lock? It's Republican Negligence on December 1, 2010 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Are you serious? The WP article on the fiscal commission's report is talking about reducing the annual deficits to 0 by 2035 but lowering the top bracket tax rate for individuals and corporations from 35% to 29%. FFS... force people to work until they're 69 but god forbid the wealthiest people in the WORLD have to pay 35% in income taxes.

Those slimy self-serving...

They're praising their genius for reducing the annual deficit to 0 in 25 years on the backs of the middle class.

Posted by: NK on December 1, 2010 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK


Someone noted in the comments that the ransom letter signed by Republicans is dated Nov. 29, the day before the White House summit. Here's a thought: what if the President got wind of this letter, or actually read it, before the White House summit on Tuesday - that would explain his seemingly over-the-top conciliatory behavior towards the Repubs...now that the Repubs have released their demands, Obama can claim the moral high ground, from which he can fling mud down at the Republicans.


Another mind game: What if the Senate merged all of the pending legislation they'd like to pass into one big bill (DADT repeal, DREAM act, extension of unemployment benefits, DISCLOSE, (Public Option?)) and then added a 2 year extension of tax cuts for the rich to lure Republican votes: would this be a deal worth making, or not?

If Republicans balk, then just pass the tax cuts for $250K or less. I wonder just how much Republicans would give up to get those cuts for the rich...

Posted by: delNorte on December 1, 2010 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

"On the debate over tax policy, House Dems are going with the middle-class-first plan, whether Republicans like it or not."

They should take a page out of the Republicans playbook and call the legislation the:


Let the Republicans go down on record voting against that.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 1, 2010 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Our national debt crisis has become so severe that even the liberal bent President Obama's Deficit Commission has started an approach to a real solution. As Obama appointed virtually no real republicans, it is quite surprising. President Obama's Deficit Commission is composed of only a couple of real republicans, with the bulk of the members being RINOs and liberals.

They have found a good starting point for discussions. They understand that the real problem with our economy is that the wealthy do not have enough wealth to expand job creation.

Cutting the top income tax rates and cutting corporate tax rates, insufficient as they are proposing, is a good start. However, subjecting capital gains and dividends to income tax rates will kill job creation in our country. An acceptable modification would be to parallel what is done with social security taxes and not tax capital gains and dividends for those with incomes above $108K per year.

We are in agreement with President Obama's Deficit Commission's proposal to eliminate home mortgage deductions.

We whole-heartedly endorse President Obama's Deficit Commission's plan to eliminate tax deductability of employer provided medical insurance costs. We believe that businesses should not have to provide medical insurance to their employees. We agree that health care decisions are best left to individuals. We can agree to the concept of providing a 'tax credit' for working people to assist them in acquiring medical insurance; provided the caveats 1) that such assistance should only be for the short term as people adjust to the independence of providing their own care and 2) that the 'tax credits' be like our graduated tax rates, the amount of the 'tax credits' be increased as the tax rates increase.

As it is widely known that the core deficit problem we face long term is social security, it is appropriate that President Oboma's Deficit Commission recognize that the retirement age should raised. They fall short in that everyone knows that the retirement age should be increased to 75 and in a much, much shorter time frame. The only persons who should retire before that age are those who have had the intelligence, foresight, work ethic, and skill to become wealthy enough to afford to retire, unless they have inherited enough wealth to retire. President Obama's Deficit Commission does realize that most of our current social security recipients are leeches sucking out the productivity of our country and it's wealthy, the job creators of our country.

There is much imperfection in President Obama's Deficit Commission's plan. The ultra-liberal Durbin's proposal to have a payroll tax holiday is a complete non-starter and must be eliminated. It is a debt adder of the first degree. A better proposal would be to eliminate the employer's portion of the social security tax and quadruple the employee's portion of the tax. Employer's would always pass that savings along to workers as increased wages. And, as people also pay income taxes on the social security taxes they pay, it will increase our reduction of the deficit mulifold. Of course, it is imperative that the cap above which these taxes are not collected be continued.

The work of President Obama's Deficit Commission is not perfect, but it provides a framework that can be built upon to reduce our federal spending, our federal deficits, and affirm the knowledge that our wealthy job creators pay too much tax and that the bulk of the working population pays too little.

I, therefore, will initally support President Obama's Deficit Commission, as I await further clarifications to assure that our debt be eliminated without hurting the job creators of our country.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on December 1, 2010 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Don't count your chickens before they're hatched... It looks like we're gonna have to live with the salmonella-spiced eggs after all. "Hapless" and "mindless" doesn't begin to describe the Senate Dems. Me, I had assumed that, like with every other bill, the House had passed it eons ago, and that it had been stuck in the Senate like everything else. Apparently not:

Posted by: exlibra on December 1, 2010 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

For fun and based on fact:
B-Side Stories
Lady Gaga Made Possible Wikileaks National Security Scandal? Here's How.
She's going to bring back Baal worship, remember that?
Ga-ga ooh la la ah!

Posted by: neil b on December 1, 2010 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

On a more serious note, re "* It was worse than we knew:" This shows how critical government action is in the midst of a financial crisis (not that they should have even let it happen, or can be very much forgiven for that.)

BTW, the "deficit commission" talking about lowering tax rates as part of their plan! What in the hell... it's the cat food and pig turd commission.

Posted by: neil b on December 1, 2010 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

* Major news outlets love to gush about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). Those same media organizations tend to ignore his massive screw-up, and subsequent dishonesty, about education policy.

what else is a liberal media to do but carry water for vile, disgusting, bullying, dirt-bag republicans.

Posted by: pluege on December 1, 2010 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

Listening to Maddow is a breath of fresh air.

Tune in folks.

Posted by: Maddow rocks the house on December 1, 2010 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

Kyl's actions border on treason.

Posted by: JWK on December 1, 2010 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Nobody loves Nelson, boo hoo

Posted by: exlibra on December 1, 2010 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, remember the food safety bill? Democrats' first genuine legislative achievement in many months?

Turns out they screwed it up: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/fail-dems-unconstitutional-mishap-could-kill-food-safety-bill.php.

Oh, for crying out loud.

Posted by: Basilisc on December 2, 2010 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

We've got a critical arms treaty on the table, Putin's threatening to re-escalate the arms race and Mitch McConnell is writing memos in crayon about wanting to clean up all the poop in the playground he and his fellow Republicans put there during the Bush Administration.

Can we outsource the Senate?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on December 2, 2010 at 4:40 AM | PERMALINK
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