Political Animal


January 24, 2012 5:30 PM Tuesday’s Mini-Report

By Steve Benen

Today’s edition of quick hits:

* Europe: “Euro zone finance ministers on Monday rejected as insufficient an offer made by private bondholders to help restructure Greece’s debts, sending negotiators back to the drawing board and raising the threat of Greek default.”

* On a related note, the IMF is clearly concerned: “The International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday that global growth prospects had dimmed as the sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone entered a ‘perilous new phase.’ Releasing quarterly updates of three reports on the outlooks for the economy, debt and global financial stability, the fund cut its estimates of global growth this year.”

* Syria: “The Arab League sought help from the United Nations to address the escalating crisis in Syria on Tuesday, amid Syrian defiance of Arab efforts to broker a peace settlement and an upsurge of violence in which dozens of people died.”

* Rumors in Afghanistan: “The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan on Tuesday condemned rumors that the United States is planning to divide the war-torn country, saying the suggestions were ‘lies that dishonor the sacrifice of more than 1,800 American service members who have died in the cause of a unified Afghanistan.’”

* Encouraging news out of Chicago: “Sen. Mark Kirk was doing better than expected after suffering a stroke and undergoing emergency surgery, his neurosurgeon said Tuesday, noting the Illinois Republican was answering questions and even asking for his Blackberry. Dr. Richard Fessler, who performed surgery on Kirk at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said the 52-year-old ‘is doing very well’ but that the road to recovery will be long.”

* Quorum avoidance in Indiana: “The Indiana House again remained at a standstill today, as most Democrats boycotted the chamber to stall the controversial ‘right to work’ bill.”

* The inconsistencies of libertarian lawmakers: “Outraged over being detained by the TSA when he refused a pat-down after setting off an airport scanner, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren on Monday night that even though he doesn’t want ‘special treatment,’ TSA pat-downs need to be less random, targeting people such as ‘Middle Eastern students.’”

* When he was being considered for John McCain’s 2008 ticket, Mitt Romney turned over 23 years of tax returns. If McCain can see 23 years of returns, why can American voters only see two?

* For-profit colleges have their share of detractors on the Hill: “Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) is introducing legislation to limit the amount of federal funds for-profit colleges can derive from veterans.”

* And First Lady Michelle Obama will have several notable guests join her for the State of the Union address tonight. Of particular, she’ll be sitting with Debbie Bosanek, who just happens to be Warren Buffett’s secretary, and who pays a higher tax rate than her billionaire boss.

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
  • Chris on January 24, 2012 5:37 PM:

    I'll be crying myself to sleep tonight knowing that tomorrow is Benen's last day of full-time blogging.

    The horror. The horror.

  • meady on January 24, 2012 5:58 PM:

    Shorter Rand Paul: A white male's intentions should never be questioned.

  • ahoy polloi on January 24, 2012 6:06 PM:

    Even shorter Rand Paul: I got my civil liberties and I don't give a fuck about yours.

  • Dan Radmacher on January 24, 2012 6:08 PM:

    "When he was being considered for John McCain’s 2008 ticket, Mitt Romney turned over 23 years of tax returns. If McCain can see 23 years of returns, why can American voters only see two?"

    Of course, after seeing those 23 years of returns, McCain decided Palin would be the less risky choice.

    'nuff said.

    Good luck, Steve. You will be missed, terribly.

  • wvng on January 24, 2012 6:47 PM:

    What Chris said. Much gnashing of teeth over at Balloon Juice on this development as well. Good luck Mr. Benen.

  • Kevmo on January 24, 2012 6:57 PM:

    And with this, we bid you Fare Well, Steve. All the best of luck for you at the Maddow Show.

    We expect great things, and to hear from you soon.

  • Mike on January 24, 2012 7:34 PM:

    Steve -

    Don't you go short timer on us... from your writing you've made it clear that you agree with Mr. Klein quite often (as do I) but I don't think that should mean that his odd choice of "both sides say crazy sh1t" should go unmentioned:
    "Democrats might prefer that the rich hand their fortunes over to the government, but that’s not, most Republicans would argue, how economies grow. During Romney’s career, he has made an enormous amount of money by taking over weak companies and, in many cases helping to turn them around, and he has used that money to finance further productive investments in the economy. That Democrats see something wrong with them is simply further proof of how little they understand about job creation."
    what kind of a crock is that? what Dems with any power or influence are arguing that "the rich hand their fortunes over to the government"? please burn that straw man down just as you have so many others - even if its in passing.

    good luck with your new career move. you've earned the opportunity, make the most of it and help keep us informed in your new media. thanks for your contributions to the larger conversations of our nation and for calling out things that many others kowtowed to when it wasn't popular or convenient.

  • Rose on January 24, 2012 7:55 PM:

    Steve, you're the first and last site I read for so many years. I will miss you and best of luck.

  • knightphoenix2 on January 24, 2012 8:47 PM:

    Good Luck, Steve!

    You ALWAYS was the best liberal blogger out there!

    I followed you to the Washington Monthly from The Carpetbagger Report, and will follow you to The Maddow Blog.

    Hopefully, your successor here will be worthy of you.


  • Patrick Star on January 24, 2012 10:41 PM:

    Just got home from work, on the road all day and didn't have a chance til now to express my heartfelt thanks for all the work you did here at WM. This is where the REAL political junkies got their news fix every day. You, Steve, deserve a MUCH wider audience for your insights into the current mess that our American political system finds itself in these days. Good luck! (even Capcha will miss you!)

  • Skip on January 25, 2012 11:39 AM:

    Shorter Rand: I don't want special treatment, I EXPECT it.

    I can't believe this is Steve's last day at WaMo while Rush Limbaugh stays on and on and on and on....ad infinitum. [sigh]