Political Animal


January 02, 2012 5:30 PM Monday’s Mini-Report

By Steve Benen

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Apparent hate crimes in NYC: “A wave of arson attacks spread across eastern Queens on Sunday night, and the police said the firebombings were being investigated as bias crimes — with Muslims as the targets. No one was hurt in the four attacks, in which homemade firebombs were apparently used. In three of the four attacks, the police said, Molotov cocktails were made with Starbucks bottles. “

* That ought to be interesting: “President Obama will fly to Cleveland hours after the Iowa caucuses for an address on the economy, the White House announced Monday. Obama will travel to the Ohio city aboard Air Force One on Wednesday and will deliver remarks on the economy at Shaker Heights High School. His remarks will come shortly after Hawkeye State voters kick off the 2012 presidential nominating race.”

* Austerity doesn’t work: “Europe’s leaders braced their nations for a turbulent year, with their beleaguered economies facing a threat on two fronts: widening deficits that force more borrowing but increasing austerity measures that put growth further out of reach.”

* Good riddance: “A federal tax credit for ethanol expired on Saturday, ending an era in which the federal government provided more than $20 billion in subsidies for use of the product.”

* Adam Serwer has a helpful, detailed look at the signing statement President Obama issued with the NDAA.

* The White House will give congressional Republicans a chance to pound their chests for no particular reason: “President Obama agreed on Friday to delay a request to Congress to expand the government’s borrowing authority by $1.2 trillion, allowing lawmakers time to return from recess and register their views on it.”

* Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has heard the talk about Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan needing to recuse themselves from the ACA case, but he’s not buying it.

* Matt Yglesias makes a compelling case that the economy is going to improve quite a bit in 2012. Here’s hoping Matt’s right.

* Nintendo, Electronic Arts, and Sony Electronics had all endorsed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). All three have since changed their minds.

* It’s hard to overstate how tiresome Artur Davis is.

* I wish the right could understand this: “[Y]es, debt matters. But right now, other things matter more. We need more, not less, government spending to get us out of our unemployment trap. And the wrongheaded, ill-informed obsession with debt is standing in the way.”

* I wish the right understood this, too: “[V]ery few who criticize the top one percent want them to stop existing…. We want them to face somewhat tighter regulations and substantially higher taxes. If you want Wall Street to contribute to ‘the public purse,’ you belong on the side of Elizabeth Warren, not Donald Trump.”

* Rick Perry supports the Keystone XL pipeline, though he may not fully understand that Canada is a foreign country: “Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source.”

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.


Post a comment
  • hells littlest angel on January 02, 2012 5:58 PM:

    Thanks to Rick Perry, I'm beginning to lose my sense of humor about rank stupidity.

  • SYSPROG on January 02, 2012 6:18 PM:

    Artur Davis is a jerk. After taking all the Dems had to offer, he has discovered that Alabama is a Southern far right state so NOW he thinks the Dems are 'liberals'. Go figure.

    captcha=nywhor nurnberg,

  • Doug on January 02, 2012 6:23 PM:

    I would like to suggest that those worried about "misuse", I admit to being one myself, of the various provisions of the NDAA seriously consider what would happen under a Republican administration and do their all to ensure the greatest number of Democrats possible are seated in DC in January 2013. Veto-proof majorities would be nice.
    The minimum changes needed are to the "indefinite" detention, assigning cases to tribunal courts and transferring those cleared but still being held at Guantanamo. It's not something easily debated/explained during an election, but that shouldn't stop Congress from correcting these mistakes.
    On the other hand, a Republican majority definitely WILL...

  • Kansachusetts on January 02, 2012 7:13 PM:

    Steve, a few days ago you avoided taking a stand on NDAA and instead pointed to a Dec. 16 post where you had referenced Adam Serwer's elucidation of the issue that day. You concluded Dec. 16: "There’s been a fair amount of coverage this week, arguing that the bill, among things, empowers the executive branch 'to throw American citizens into prison for life without charges or a trial.' Adam’s reporting shows otherwise."

    But today you point to Serwer's more recent elucidation, which actually admits the following: "Obama's signing statement seems to suggest he already believe he has the authority to indefinitely detain Americans—he just never intends to use it. (In the context of hot battlefields the courts have confirmed he does indeed have that power.) Left unsaid, perhaps deliberately, is the distinction that has dominated the debate over the defense bill: the difference between detaining an American captured domestically or abroad."

    I think a certain part of the Democratic-inclined punditry, which include you and TPM, prefers not to look at this issue closely because it is just too ugly.

    Again, I ask you to give your own opinion on why this is acceptable from President Obama.

  • maryQ on January 02, 2012 7:26 PM:

    I really wish we could do away with the word "hate crimes'. What is described above is terrorism. Plain and simple.

  • exlibra on January 02, 2012 7:29 PM:

  • chi res on January 02, 2012 8:21 PM:

  • Werewolf on January 02, 2012 9:08 PM:


  • Kansachusetts on January 02, 2012 11:16 PM:

    @chi res
    Thank you, that is a very helpful link. It does not change my opinion that a Democratic president should have fought by any means, including veto, to make it clear that American citizens can under no circumstances be held indefinitely without trial.
    The law is just to vague on that point and counting on a signing statement and a wise Supreme Court to protect citizens seems to me like almost criminal oversight. We will regret this.

  • chi res on January 03, 2012 12:58 AM:

    Glad the link was helpful.

    The way I read it, the NDAA adds very little, if anything, to the issues of rendition and dentention that isn't already part of the AUMF or court rulings stemming from the AUMF.

    I'm certainly not "counting on a signing statement and a wise Supreme Court to protect citizens", but I actually think the NDAA with the signing statement will provide greater deterrence to unconstitutional acts than before it was passed and signed, when the AUMF was the primary standard.

    I believe that this is why Obama signed it. A veto would most likely have accomplished nothing. If the veto were overridden, Obama would not have had the chance to include the signing statement.

  • SW on January 03, 2012 9:02 AM:

    'I wish the right understood this, too: “[V]ery few who criticize the top one percent want them to stop existing….'

    1% Jerkey. Sustainably harvested.

  • dj spellchecka on January 03, 2012 10:56 AM:

    rick perry: “Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source that isn't white.”