Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 10, 2010

FRIDAY'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.

* Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize: "Imprisoned in China and with close family members forbidden to leave the country, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, an empty chair representing his absence at the prize ceremony here." The last time a winner was forbidden from attending: 1935, when Hitler prevented concentration camp prisoner Count Carl von Ossietzky from making the tip.

* The Chinese people couldn't watch, either: "China blocked broadcasts of the ceremony on television and Internet sites. Just before 8 p.m. in Beijing, as the ceremony was beginning, CNN and BBC television channels went blank -- as they had intermittently throughout the day." Text messages containing the words "Liu Xiaobo" and "Nobel prize" were also blocked.

* President Obama said Liu Xiaobo "is far more deserving of this award than I was."

* In an extraordinary display, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) of Vermont has held the Senate floor almost all day, delivering a very lengthy speech on economic inequalities. It's not a literal filibuster -- there's no bill before the chamber -- but it's the kind of showing we haven't seen from any senator in a very long time.

* Former President Bill Clinton met with Obama at the White House today, and endorsed the pending tax policy agreement. In an entertaining turn, the former president proceeded to hold "a remarkable, spur-of-the-moment news conference at a White House podium."

* In a pleasant surprise, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), not inclined to do the administration any favors, said today that the Senate is "very close" to having the support necessary to ratify the New START treaty. McCain added that he hopes it will come to the floor next week.

* The administration desperately needs to come up with a strong energy policy strategy in a hurry: "The Obama administration is retreating on long-delayed environmental regulations -- new rules governing smog and toxic emissions from industrial boilers -- as it adjusts to a changed political dynamic in Washington with a more muscular Republican opposition."

* In the meantime, the United Nations conference on climate change in Cancun is going nowhere fast.

* Command Sergeant Major Marvin Hill, a senior aide to Gen. David Petraeus, said U.S. servicemembers who can't adjust to the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should consider leaving the military.

* The White House is open to an overhaul of the income tax code, but the hullabaloo over this news may be overstated.

* Hate crimes: "Two men have been charged with assault and robbery as a hate crime after attacking a Muslim religious leader on a New York City subway platform."

* New international rankings measure the capabilities of high school students around the globe. The U.S. isn't even close to the top.

* And Glenn Beck told his minions yesterday that "the revolution has begun." I'm not sure what that means, but it doesn't sound encouraging.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

Glenn Beck still wants all your gold.

Posted by: andyvillager on December 10, 2010 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

It probably doesn't matter if the revolution has begun since Judgement Day is next May 21, according to one group putting billboards up around the Detroit area.

Posted by: Obee on December 10, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Bernie Sanders is now more than 7 hours into his filibuster of the Obama-Rethug tax plan.

He has been very eloquent in speaking to the needs of the working poor and middle class of our country and how there plight is contrasted to the lobbyists and their funders.

GO BERNIE GO

It is nice, but totally insufficient, to have one senator speak on behalf of the working American public instead of the corporations and the wealthy.

GO BERNIE GO

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 10, 2010 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of energy policy -- the bad, misguided type, in this case -- the Rural Blog passes on news from the Des Moines Register:

Congressional lawmakers have reached an agreement to extend the 45 cents per gallon subsidy for ethanol for one year and continue a tariff on the imports of the biofuel. The tariff will remain at 54 cents per gallon through 2011, said Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. The provisions would be included in tax legislation worked out with the White House, Philip Brasher of the Des Moines Register reports.
Grassley, who probably considers himself Seriously concerned about the deficit and also is probably a strong opponent of the ARRA, said that the ethanol programs "will boost jobs and investment in the alternative energy sector, exactly when the economy needs a real shot in the arm." I guess because these are tax cuts it's OK for them not to be paid for and to be called stimulus by a Republican. Also, I guess it's OK for a Republican to go back on free trade principles when the cause is corn. Posted by: meander on December 10, 2010 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Reform of tax code ... OK, but how does B-S "deficit" commission get to talking of lower rates? It undermines the whole fight against the Bush policy, and Obama appointed those clowns.

Posted by: neil b on December 10, 2010 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I admire Bernie Sanders, and I don't like the tax deal, either. But this lame-duck session is the only time some important legislation (DADT repeal, START treaty, DREAM Act) has even a chance of passing, and time is running out. I think he should stop talking and go sit down.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on December 10, 2010 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Rates could be lower if you eliminated the various deductions, but them there would be a lot of presssure to restore them. Drafting a tax code that is both simple and fair is harder than figuring out how to travel faster than light. You can have one of the two, but you can't have both.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 10, 2010 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

"New international rankings measure the capabilities of high school students around the globe. The U.S. isn't even close to the top."

The U.S. is getting it's ass kicked. That sort of dovetails with a couple of Harper's Index stats that I saw this AM at DKos.

• Amount the state of California spent last year on each minor in its juvenile-detention system: $224,712

• Amount spent on each student in the Oakland public school system: $4,945

Posted by: burro on December 10, 2010 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

I I

seriously, this is how the filibuster should have to work. an impassioned US Senator speaking against an issue that they clearly care about and doing so publicly. I know its not a filibuster but its the perfect example of how the process should need to work in order to grind Senate business to a halt.

Posted by: Mike on December 10, 2010 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

The revolution has begun? Great. I'll go get my pitchfork.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 10, 2010 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

The White House is open to an overhaul of the income tax code

Yes, by all means, more tax cuts for the Rich & Corporate !

It has worked so fantastically so far.

Posted by: Joe Friday on December 10, 2010 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

“The White House is open to an overhaul of the income tax code”

Let's start by eliminating the Hedgie fund manager "carried interest" loophole.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 10, 2010 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

If you are not watching C-span2 right now, you really should tune in. Bernie is amazing. He's almost into hour 8. He is standing up for the working and unemployed people in this country . Call your senators, your representatives and the house speaker. Tell them to just say no. It's probably the only shot we've got and Bernie is paving the way.

Posted by: Linus on December 10, 2010 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

Guess how long it took right-wing bloggers to claim that Obama's statement about the Nobel prize was "all about himself."

Posted by: T-Rex on December 10, 2010 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

* President Obama said Liu Xiaobo "is far more deserving of this award than I was."

Well that's mighty big of you, Mr President, seeing as how you never deserved it in the first place.

Posted by: Monty on December 10, 2010 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I admire Bernie Sanders, and I don't like the tax deal, either. But this lame-duck session is the only time some important legislation (DADT repeal, START treaty, DREAM Act) has even a chance of passing, and time is running out. I think he should stop talking and go sit down.
Posted by: Molly Weasley on December 10, 2010

and when time runs out, Bernie will say, me? I'm not responsible.

and he will be (unwittingly correct. He isn't responsible.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 10, 2010 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, back at the White House, president Obama trotted out former president Clinton to shill for the "plan" (and against Clinton's own policies). I don't remember a sitting president leaning on one of his predecessors to that extent ever. Obama even ducked out mid-briefing, leaving Clinton to occupy center stage on his own.

Posted by: Doctor Whom on December 10, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

CSM Hill: Hooah!

This is the military I knew: Follow your orders or get the hell out!

I can't recall ever being asked my opinion on personnel policy, and there's no good reason for it now.

Posted by: phein on December 10, 2010 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Former President Bill Clinton met with Obama at the White House today, and endorsed the pending tax policy agreement.

President Clinton’s support of President Obama is admirable, but he shouldn’t be saying that Dems should support the tax deal just because we can’t go through the same public policy battles we did in the mid-nineties.

Back then Clinton told the American people he wasn’t about to sign the Republican’s far-right agenda into law, and if the American people wanted that far-right agenda enacted into law, they were going to have to get themselves a different President.

That’s the advice he should be giving to Obama.


Posted by: Joe Friday on December 10, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

Molly Weasley and Johnny Canuck;

Bernie Sanders isn't taking the time from anything important. As several other blogs (for example Think Progress) pointed out, there had been no votes on anything scheduled for him *to* block. This is not a real filibuster; it's just a show of what a real filibuster ought to look like. Sanders, BTW, has been spelled every once in a while by Sens Brown (Sherrod? not the one from Mass) and Mary Landrieu.

Posted by: exlibra on December 10, 2010 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK
You know, I admire Bernie Sanders, and I don't like the tax deal, either. But this lame-duck session is the only time some important legislation (DADT repeal, START treaty, DREAM Act) has even a chance of passing, and time is running out. I think he should stop talking and go sit down.

Nothing that would happen on the Senate floor if Sanders wasn't occupying it at this time is relevant to those things passing; those things will or won't pass because of deals to be reached off the floor to secure the votes, which hasn't, for any of them, happened yet.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 10, 2010 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

Why does the GOP think we should pay billions of dollars in interest to finance deficit-funded tax cuts for millionaires? I can only assume it's because they know our interest payments will flow through the treasury to those same millionaires and from there to the RNC. Clever way to get democrats to pay for republicans to get elected.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on December 10, 2010 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Spinn Wreck wants to overthrow government but only after the terrorist that spread government cables is rendtiioned IWG

Sarahmouche, the problem is government, agrees.

Posted by: Kill Bill on December 10, 2010 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

BERNIE SANDERS FOR PRESIDENT!

Posted by: NTRLVR on December 10, 2010 at 8:58 PM | PERMALINK

Shame about China's reaction to the Nobel Prize. But just exactly when did Carl von Ossietzky (1889-1938) become a Count? Every biography I could find in a quick search makes no mention of this.

Posted by: Roger on December 10, 2010 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

I sent a letter to the editor of my local newpaper. It concerns Republican hostage taking and the editor says it will be published tomorrow. I am sure to be attacked by the local dittoheads. I don't care. I am never going to be ashamed of my positions in favor of America again. It is very liberating to actually take a small step to bring reality back to my country. You ought to try it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 10, 2010 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

"Former President Bill Clinton met with Obama at the White House today, and endorsed the pending tax policy agreement. In an entertaining turn, the former president proceeded to hold "a remarkable, spur-of-the-moment news conference at a White House podium."

That would be the same Former President Bill Clinton that signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act on 12 November 1999 which repealed Glass-Steagall. Slick Willy's gift to the uber rich on his way out the door had some unpleasant consequences. If he is involved, we know which way the jobs will be going in the Korea/USA job deal Obama has been touting. My point is I don't trust Clinton and the Tax Cut Deal still sucks.

Posted by: tko on December 10, 2010 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

December 10: Bernie Sanders Day of Herculean Truth Telling!!

Posted by: Jack Hammer on December 10, 2010 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

>>> "the revolution has begun.

Posted by: mike on December 11, 2010 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

"...U.S. servicemembers who can't adjust to the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" should consider leaving the military."

What, they stopped using "stop-loss orders" to keep people in the armed services when their enlistments end?

I missed that.

Posted by: Mouse Brain on December 11, 2010 at 2:18 AM | PERMALINK

I am tired with people who are whining about Obama's compromise with the repubs over taxes. I really hate it too, but what is the alternative?
If democrats had supported democrats running for the house and senate in the mid terms Obama would not have had to make this compromise, he is a realist and is thinking more about the un employed than his own ego right now, even if he does go down in the polls he has ensured that the unemployed can feed their families at Christmas.

Posted by: joan on December 11, 2010 at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK

First on the deficit: the 'deal' reveals there is no serious addressing of this issue. As long as poor people are forced to borrow money for their basic needs, there will be those making money off of this so they will be most happy to continue deficits at all levels. The Republicans first of all, but Obama has tipped his hand that he is favoring the financiers of our debt rather than the people who would prefer not to have it.

Second, on Glenn Beck. He is nothing but a Hitler wannabe. Old Adolph had revolution envy and characterized his Nazi movement as 'revolution' even though everything about it was thoroughly atavistic.

Posted by: jjm on December 11, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Bernie Sanders for king, fuck this "democracy" bullshit; it only benefits the top %1.0 and shits on everybody else's sweat equity!

PS, I would also request the half of my retirement fund (now renamed "unemployment insurance") back please, fuckers.

Posted by: Trollop on December 11, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

"New international rankings measure the capabilities of high school students around the globe. The U.S. isn't even close to the top."

***

I call foul on this.

I've worked in two Korean highschools: neither had computers available for the students anywhere in the building outside the computer classroom; neither had a library even half as big as the library in my 1960's era Iowa junior high; neither had any program at all for any special needs student, nor any remedial class for slower students; one didn't even have a gym (the one that did have a gym didn't have a shower room); neither had any sports teams of any kind, intra- or inter- mural, although they did organize impromptu teams for regional competitions once a year; neither offered any elective classes at all. Class size was around 40. Those are just some of the things that come to mind.

What they did have was semi-required evening study sessions every evening until 9 (unsupervised). Even the smallest towns have 'private institutes' (hogwans) for math, music, English etc. where students go between the end of school until evening study time.

Senior year, the kids stay in school til midnight studying. On the day of the university entrance exam (it's given only once a year), businesses open a couple of hours late so students won't have to fight traffic to get to their assigned test site; airplanes are re-routed so they won't fly over test sites during the language part of the exam so as not to interfere with the students' ability to hear the recordings.

What Korea has is a culture that places an enormous value on education. Not one single student in either school I'm familiar with had a car or a part-time job.

Posted by: Seould on December 11, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK
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