Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 8, 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.

* With Social Security recipients facing a second consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase, House Dems tried to pass $250 checks to these seniors. House Republicans killed the effort this afternoon.

* A week after a national election "marred by disorganization, voter intimidation and fraud," Haiti erupts in violence.

* Gates remains optimistic about Afghanistan: "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Wednesday that progress in the war in Afghanistan has 'exceeded my expectations,' giving a strong endorsement of the U.S. approach days before the White House is scheduled to complete a major review of its strategy."

* A rare judicial impeachment: "The Senate on Wednesday found Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of Federal District Court in Louisiana guilty on four articles of impeachment, the first time the Senate has removed a federal judge from the bench in more than two decades." This is only the eighth time a federal judge has been removed from the bench through impeachment in the history of the Senate.

* For crying out loud: "As Don Blankenship prepares to give up control of Massey Energy after the nation's worst mining disaster in four decades ... corporate filings are revealing the staggering cost of his departure -- a golden parachute that will provide Blankenship with $2.7 million upon retirement, a free house for life, millions more in deferred compensation, and a 'salary continuation retirement benefit' of $18,241-a-month that will continue for 10 years after his Dec. 31 departure."

* In 2011, expect the House to do a lot less work -- not because of partisan gridlock, but because lawmakers simply won't be in D.C. nearly as often. (thanks to R.P. for the tip)

* In a setback for the Tea Party crowd, House Republican leaders threw their support to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to serve as the next chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

* In an even bigger setback for the Tea Party crowd, those same GOP leaders are backing Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) as the next chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Rogers is known for his love of earmarks.

* The food safety bill is in trouble on Capitol Hill, but Dems haven't given up on it.

* Congressional action on the DREAM Act is still scheduled for today, but it won't enjoy the backing of "moderates" like Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who apparently is more worried about a 2012 primary than doing the right thing.

* Here's hoping this was hyperbole: "At an off-camera briefing this afternoon, National Economic Council director Larry Summers said that a failure to pass the tax cut compromise President Obama negotiated 'would significantly increase the risk' of a double-dip recession."

* It's great to consider this time "our generation's Sputnik moment." But to create that kind of foundation, "how about some Sputnik-level money?"

* And in her latest classic Fox News appearance, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) insisted today that tax cuts for the middle class cost money, but breaks for the rich do not. It's the kind of argument that only Bachmann could make with such enthusiasm.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Comments

I'm all for Don Blankenship getting a free house for life -- a Big one.

Posted by: scott_m on December 8, 2010 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) insisted today that tax cuts for the middle class cost money, but breaks for the rich do not.

Apparently she wasn't paying attention when her handlers instructed her not to address the two issues too closely together. She has more eloquently illustrated the inconsistency in the GOPs position better than any critic could.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 8, 2010 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

So do mindless obamabots, gratefully an increasingly diminishing set of Americans, still think chimpy's third-term is a good thing?

How's that hopey-changey thing workin' fer ya?

Posted by: larry on December 8, 2010 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Off-thread, but worthy of note:

Right now, there's some coverage on Yahoo.com about some Baltimore Oriole ranting about Obama, socialism, and his conviction that the President wasn't born here. Big whoop, right? Baseball player ignorant and prejudiced; news at 11:00.

But what's interesting is that the sports columnist added an "editor's note" consisting of a full-size, color copy of Obama's birth certificate.

So how hard was that? Is there any reason "real" news columnists can't do the same? Don't just note some ginned-up controversy over whether the Earth is flat; include a photo, shot from space, showing that those who believe it is flat are wrong.

Okay, rant over. For now.

Posted by: retr327 on December 8, 2010 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

@Larry, actually, it's working pretty good for all of us, despite the GOP's frantic efforts to make sure the car not only doesn't turn around, but goes right on over the cliff they started us on.

In other news, I disagree that "House Republicans killed the effort" for a cost of living increase. Still the minority, so blame Dems. Can't say, "oh, we're the minority, we cant' stop those mean ole Republicans" (for how many years?), then not get anything done as the majority.

Posted by: eadie on December 8, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

How is that hopey-changy thing going so far?

Pretty good, I approve of about 90% of the things I see on this list.

http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/

Compared to the previous guy at 10%, I'm pretty happy.

Posted by: mike on December 8, 2010 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

At an off-camera briefing this afternoon, National Economic Council director Larry Summers said that a failure to pass the tax cut compromise President Obama negotiated 'would significantly increase the risk' of a double-dip recession.

Utter nonsense.

If it happens, it won’t be because that turkey didn’t get enacted.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 8, 2010 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

In other current news...

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/avenging-wikileaks-anonymous-hackers-takes-mastercard-site/

Hackers have taken down MasterCard & Visa sites!

Cyber warfare is a tool available to the masses. Is it time for Americans to stand up to the wealthy and corporate interests who own the media AND THE MESSAGE?

Or, as my republican friends would say, this is why we can NOT have net neutrality.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on December 8, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Larry Summers is among the most compromised individuals I've ever seen. He thinks he is a genius, but in reality, all his advice has been pointed in one direction only: enriching Wall Street.

Obama: shame on you.

Posted by: jjm on December 8, 2010 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

LOL funny to see a few obamabots proclaim how great "hopey-changey" is as the administration craters and kisses off the folks that elected him.

Again - grateful that those that still sing obama's praise are a minority.

Perhaps some of you need to take a time machine back to the historic losses last November?

Yeah, I know, at least this time, chimpy's third-term is "your guy".

Posted by: larry on December 8, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

With Social Security recipients facing a second consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase, House Dems tried to pass $250 checks to these seniors. House Republicans killed the effort this afternoon.

Yet millions of seniors voted for Republicans last month.

The cognitive dissonance is astounding.


Posted by: Joe Friday on December 8, 2010 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK
Here's hoping this was hyperbole: "At an off-camera briefing this afternoon, National Economic Council director Larry Summers said that a failure to pass the tax cut compromise President Obama negotiated 'would significantly increase the risk' of a double-dip recession."

I think its more likely that failure to do so would increase the probable length and depth of the second dip; I think the probability of a double-dip recession is so close to 100% at this point that it is impossible to "significantly increase the risk" of one.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 8, 2010 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Methinks the trolls have finally slept off their election night drunk, and are starting to show up again for work.

A couple thoughts:

1. On Obama's base: I think we need a re-calibrate who, in the president's eyes, his base is. He may be a liberal at heart, but as President, the entire nation is his base. His base now is more like the "People of Peoria" - as in, "How does it play in Peoria?"

2. The President made some interesting points about compromise in his press conference yesterday - go to the 30 minute mark:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrTKUEfnegE

What struck me most was this comment: "This country was founded on compromise - I couldn't go through the front door at this country's founding. And if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn't have a Union."

I believe he's talking about the compromise about slaves that allowed the Constitution to be written, and the Union to be formed. Of course, that compromise eventually led to the Civil War...but look where we are today: a black president.

Check out:

http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_ccon.html

"As for the slave trade, for quite some time in the Convention, it was debated hotly. The states of the deep south wanted it maintained; the North and the middle south was opposed. But alliances between states kept some of the Northern states voting with the deep south, and any prohibition in new slave imports or import taxes were defeated. As the Convention progressed, though, it became clear to the South and her allies that some compromise would be needed. In exchange for a prohibition on export taxes, the South agreed to allowing the slave trade to continue for just 20 more years, and for imported slaves to be taxable."

Posted by: delNorte on December 8, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Brainwashed among us.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on December 8, 2010 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

For whichever president from Maine said she wanted the endorsement from one or both of the Bush presidents before she would vote for NEW START:

Former President George H.W. Bush is urging the Senate to ratify a nuclear arms pact with Russia.

His backing gives a potentially significant boost to the treaty sought by President Barack Obama but viewed skeptically by some Senate Republicans.

The first president Bush announced his support for the New START treaty in a brief statement: "I urge the United States Senate to ratify the START treaty."

(AP, via TPM News)

Now when is G.W. Bush going to step up to the plate and give his endorsement?

Posted by: meander on December 8, 2010 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Here's an interesting thought experiment:

Where do you suppose John McCain stands on the extension of the Bush tax cuts that he voted against?

Is any major political figure as inconsistent on every issue as old McCain?

Posted by: GL on December 8, 2010 at 9:01 PM | PERMALINK

Is any major political figure as inconsistent on every issue as old McCain?
Posted by: GL on December 8, 2010 at 9:01 PM

I read "inconsistent" as "incontinent" and started flipping, mentally, through all pols 80+ of age. And, if you add all the Tea the Repubs are now awash in, you might have to lower the age by a decade or so :)

Posted by: exlibra on December 8, 2010 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK

Because everyone -- even trolls like "larry" -- deserve a good belly laugh at least once a day...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hunter-becomes-the-hunted-as-palin-critics-say-she-cant-shoot-2153973.html

Perhaps "Palin's Alaska" ought to be combined with "Survivor (starring Dead-Eye Dick Cheney)"? Where both of them go hunting together?

And, because I'm afraid that PA won't let me post 3times in a row...

* With Social Security recipients facing a second consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase, House Dems tried to pass $250 checks to these seniors. House Republicans killed the effort this afternoon. -- Steve Benen

It may be hard to believe, given the coverage they're receiving, but House Republicans aren't in majority AS YET and won't be, for another month. So, for the measure to fail, they'd have needed a hand from some so-called "Democrats". A stellar example of a truly bipartisan effort.

Posted by: exlibra on December 8, 2010 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Rigged. All of this Obama/Republican "compromise" dance over taxes was rigged as a deal between the DLC Blue Dog Democrats and culture of corruption Republicans...and apparently President Obama went along with their game plan, if not actually chairing the behind-closed-doors meeting where this was discussed, where the rigging of the federal tax system to benefit the ultra-wealthy and their progeny was worked out. Maybe Larry Summers sat in on this meeting. Or maybe he chaired it. But a "rigging" meeting definitely took place, either earlier this year or last year shortly after President Obama was sworn-in, at which President Obama was given (or forwarded) a Republican/Blue Dog Democrat wish list of what they wanted during his presidency.

How do we know this was rigged?

Extending all the budget-busting deficit-exploding Bush era tax cuts will blow a $3 to $4 trillion hole in federal budgets over the next ten years, thus requiring $3 to $4 trillion in cuts in federal programs and services over the next ten years.

Oh, wait, a Cat Food Commission was created earlier this year before extending Bush era tax cuts was even being discussed (at least in public), a commission creasted by President Obama (after prodding by minority Republicans), a commission headed by Bowles and Simpson which just happened to recommend recently the cutting of $3 to $4 trillion from the federal budget over the next ten years, you know, to fill in the huge budgetary hole created by extending the budget-busting deficit-exploding Bush era tax cuts. Hmmmm.

Coincidence?

I really, really doubt it. Rigged, yes, coincidence, no.

Posted by: The Oracle on December 8, 2010 at 10:40 PM | PERMALINK

Because as Jon Chait noted yesterday,

$20.

I knew I was gonna get off easy. linking to The New Racist is too deeply ingrained a habit for you, Steve.

Posted by: some guy on December 8, 2010 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

The DREAM Act has passed the House. Next, it goes on to the Senate where it will die a slow and painful death.

Afterward, the usual crew will blame Obama, because he didn't pass the Act by fiat, and/or because he didn't wave his magic wand to make the Senate do what he wants.

=====

BTW, for the Larrys among us, keep in mind that your echo-chamber here on the 'net isn't the real world. In the real world, Obama is keeping a fairly impressive popularity rating despite your hyperbole about his administration "cratering". Also, ordinary people are actually noticing (with approval) how he blamed the GOP for their hostage tactics in that recent presser where he also chided you for your unrealistic attitudes.

Posted by: Shade Tail on December 9, 2010 at 12:01 AM | PERMALINK

GDit Obama should not be reaching over the balance of power lines. Let the dems and pubs, in the house and senate, hash out the legislation and do battle.

Obama should be saying 'I have no comment until this legislation, or bill, reaches my desk and then and only then I will either veto or sign the bill into law'

Posted by: Kill Bill on December 9, 2010 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

for ex libra, the usual suspects voting Nay on HR 5987


Nay WA-3 Baird, Brian [D]
Nay OR-3 Blumenauer, Earl [D]
Nay WA-1 Inslee, Jay [D]
Nay WI-3 Kind, Ronald [D]
Nay CO-4 Markey, Betsy [D]
Nay VA-8 Moran, James [D]
Nay NY-20 Murphy, Scott [D]
Nay OR-5 Schrader, Kurt [D]
Nay MS-4 Taylor, Gene [D]
Nay TN-8 Tanner, John [D]
Nay MS-4 Taylor, Gene [D]

Posted by: some guy on December 9, 2010 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

some of Debbie Wasserman-Schulz bestest friends were all about HR 5987:

Yea FL-21 Diaz-Balart, Lincoln [R]
Yea FL-25 Diaz-Balart, Mario [R]
Yea FL-12 Putnam, Adam [R]
Yea FL-18 Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [R]
Yea FL-20 Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [D]


while other friends of Debbie had better things to do with their time:

Not Voting FL-2 Boyd, Allen [D]
Not Voting FL-17 Meek, Kendrick [D]
Not Voting FL-10 Young, C. W. [R]

Posted by: some guy on December 9, 2010 at 12:23 AM | PERMALINK

And today's quick hits: yesterday was the day that BO's presidency went down the intertubes...

Posted by: Cas on December 9, 2010 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

` With Social Security recipients facing a second consecutive year without a cost-of-living increase, House Dems tried to pass $250 checks to these seniors. House Republicans killed the effort this afternoon.

And in 2012 seniors will once again vote overwhlemingly Republican. Sigh.

Posted by: Basilisc on December 9, 2010 at 3:37 AM | PERMALINK

Shade Tail

Obama refused to allow Democrats to deal with the tax demands of the Republicans that he so wonderfully screwed up. He pre-empted the legislative process and cut his own deal on the side. Society, which you say still approves of his performance, doesn't know what it's in for. Wait until they wake up to the results.

Posted by: impartial on December 9, 2010 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

See the article by Eskow in the Huffington Post for the REAL consequences of Obama's wonderful compromise.

Posted by: impartial on December 9, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

How could Summers' statement be viewed as hyperbole - he didn't say "there will be a recession if the deal is not passed"? The numbers clearly indicate a significant anti-stimulus if it is not passed. We may not like the tax cuts for the rich (or Summers) but that is no reason to disregard standard economics.

Posted by: skeptonomist on December 9, 2010 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

This is not about envy of the rich.

Read the comments referred to above and those by Robert Rubin and others. This bill has serious consequences for the economy and for people who aren't so fortunate.

Posted by: impartial on December 9, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's not hyperbole. It's a deliberate attempt to put lipstick on the cow.

Posted by: impartial on December 9, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK
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