Political Animal


September 15, 2011 5:30 PM Thursday’s Mini-Report

By Steve Benen

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Europe: “Worried that Europe’s debt impasse posed a growing threat to the global economy, the world’s major central banks moved Thursday to assure investors that European banks would not run short of American dollars, as they nearly did at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. The banks, in a coordinated action intended to restore market confidence, agreed to pump dollars into the European banking system in the first such show of force in more than a year.”

* U.S. jobs crisis: “New applications for unemployment compensation climbed 11,000 last week to 428,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 417,000 from an original reading of 414,000.”

* A well-deserved honor: “President Barack Obama on Thursday bestowed the nation’s highest military honor on Dakota Meyer, a young and humble Marine who defied orders and barreled straight into a ferocious ‘killing zone’ in Afghanistan to save 36 lives at extraordinary risk to himself.”

* Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) brought a measure to the Senate floor today, demanding cuts to foreign aid to pay for FEMA disaster relief funding. It failed, 78 to 20, but that means one-fifth of the Senate thought this idea had merit.

* Not exactly helping European banks: “A rogue trader for the Swiss bank UBS was arrested in London on Thursday, authorities said, and is suspected of causing an estimated $2 billion loss in unauthorized trades.”

* Reasonable doubts: “Hundreds of thousands of people are rallying behind Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis — not just because they oppose capital punishment but because they believe the state could put an innocent man to death. The case is fraught with drama: The murder of an off-duty police officer. Conflicting eyewitness testimony. Last-minute court decisions sparing a condemned man’s life and global dignitaries who say they fear an innocent man could die.”

* Democrats on the Murray/Hensarling super-committee are at least discussing Sen. Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) idea, which would evaluate the panel’s ideas based on their impact on unemployment. MoveOn.org, meanwhile, is on board with the proposal. (Kudos to my friend Greg Sargent for his excellent work on this story.)

* A good call: “A federal judge on Wednesday blocked enforcement of a first-in-the-nation law that restricted what Florida physicians can say about guns to their patients, ruling the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s free speech guarantees and does not trample gun rights.”

* Losing the future: “The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s annual report on education across the world came out recently. America continues to lose ground.”

* It’s frustrating when prominent lefties, who should clearly know better, make racially-dumb comments about the president.

* A terrific, five-minute video explaining what tobacco company propaganda and climate deniers’ propaganda have in common.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • T2 on September 15, 2011 5:35 PM:

    I know Rand Paul is a wacko....but actually, if I had to choose between helping fellow Americans rebuild their lives and property after a natural disaster, and funneling a few billion into Karzai's pocket or Al Maliki's pocket......well it would be a quick choice.

  • chi res on September 15, 2011 5:56 PM:

    Itís frustrating when prominent lefties, who should clearly know better, make racially-dumb comments about the president.

    Moore is just less subtle than a lot of those attacking Obama from the left. Far too many haven't examined their motivations deeply enough.

    Washington was always considered a southern city, you know.

  • kindness on September 15, 2011 5:58 PM:

    Yea ABL posted the Michael Moore thread over at Balloon-Juice and it's been an ongoing car wreck. Not pretty any way you look at it.

  • flubber on September 15, 2011 6:48 PM:

    "It's frustrating when prominent lefties, who should clearly know better, make racially-dumb comments about the president"

    Bill Maher is quite dumb, unfunny, and damn near a complete asshole. That's about it. Ever watch his show? He knows very little about which he is speaking, and still manages to come off like an arrogant old crank. He is an asshole.

    Michael Moore' work, even though it explores leftie themes, is really weak. People convinced by it must have not been exposed to the issues much. He does not use logic, or evidence, but the appearance of them. He makes people dumber, as does most propaganda. He is embarrassing.

    As for the accusation that "a lot" of Obama's critics from the left are motivated by racism, that strikes me as really quite incorrect. Can someone attempt to quantify the weasel words "a lot"?

  • Joe Friday on September 15, 2011 6:53 PM:

    Boehner reveals his alternate jobs plan:

    deregulation and tax cuts

    Whose gonna tell Boehner we tried that for eight years under Chimpy Bush, and it resulted in two recessions, millions and millions of jobs lost, ending up in an economic depression ?

  • Sean Scallon on September 15, 2011 7:08 PM:

    "but that means one-fifth of the Senate thought this idea had merit."

    Yeah, I suppose Israel needs all those billions compared to those flood Vermont towns.

  • Anonymous on September 15, 2011 7:50 PM:

    I figure it's rare for a soldier to be honored even when he defies orders, I suppose the results had better be good - ?

    Sean, good dig - altho don't you think those critters would find a way to separate money for Israel anyway, like putting it under "defense budget" etc? BTW, the main reason Democrats lost NY-9 was candidate attitudes towards Israel. Israel sympathizers are the new neoconfederates.

  • Sparko on September 15, 2011 7:55 PM:

    Steve, I know you were thinkin' it:

    Palin/Rice 2012


    I think we see why she is only pretending to run. Now about that weird unknown pregnancy business. . .

  • Old Uncle Dave on September 15, 2011 8:40 PM:

    Got any Republican friends you want to piss off? Send them a copy of John Thorpe's latest essay:
    Why Are Some Americans So Shockingly Cruel?

  • exlibra on September 15, 2011 9:15 PM:

    T2 (@5:35) and Sean Scallon (@7:08),

    While the devil is in the details, as usual, I'm pretty sure that the cuts wouldn't have covered either of those two areas you're talking about (supplying arms to Israel and propping up Karzai). I don't think either counts as foreign aid. What was more likely to get axed would have been things like continuing help to Haiti (post quake), and various food and health programs in Africa. Which aren't overgenerous as it is but which, if zapped altogether and redirected, *just might have* covered some of the rebuilding in Vermont.

  • exlibra on September 15, 2011 9:24 PM:

    It's good to know that Ron Paul stands on his principles undeterred by personal experience:

  • T2 on September 15, 2011 9:41 PM:

    Correct exlibra, I was generalizing based on my thoughts. Paul, if asked, would probably not even be able to name any specific areas of cuts. My thinking was simply that we waste billions a week in so called foreign aid that is literally money down the drain. And now, the blame is on Obama for it. And if you don't wanna call payoffs to Karzai foreign aide, fine. You can just call it money that could go to help Americans that we pay a crook.

  • Ron Byers on September 16, 2011 7:26 AM:

    Dakota Meyer is a real hero. He saved 31 Americans and Afgans but feels a failure because he was unable to save 5 more who died in the ambush. He defied orders from officers who told him it was too dangerous to save the pinned down soldiers. There was at least one other person involved in the rescue. I wonder if his heroism was recognized.