Noontime News is a snapshot of our RSS feeds from the noon (Eastern time) hour.
Josh Marshall analyzes a piece by David Leonhardt about the Democrats losing the tax cut battle (“If [Democrats] cannot come up with a plan that can win 60 votes in the Senate, which means at least two Republican votes, Republicans can filibuster any bill. All of the tax cuts would then expire on Dec. 31. When the new Republican House majority arrives in January, it will be able to make its first order of business a retroactive tax cut — forcing President Obama and Senate Democrats to choose between a purely Republican plan and an across-the-board tax increase. … “).
From Josh: “Let me put it this way: If the roles we’re reversed and Democrats were on the opposite side of the issue, wouldn’t the analysis be that Democrats were running a huge political risk by blocking middle class tax cuts and getting blamed for raising everyone’s taxes? Admit it. You know that would be the analysis.
It reminds me of the line attributed to the old football coach Bum Phillips, speaking about the legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant: “He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.” Translated: He could beat you with his players then turn around and beat you with your players. […] It’s not the game isn’t winnable. It’s that the Democrats aren’t good enough to win it. All the proof you need of that is that the game would look very winnable if you swapped the teams. “
“In what amounts to an epic constitutionality #fail, Senate Democrats may have blown their chances to see their food safety bill signed into law.
The U.S. constitution requires that any revenue-raising bill must originate in the House of Representatives. To honor this provision, the Senate often finds a discarded old House bill, strips it bare, and uses it as a “shell” and passes it back to the House.
They somehow forgot to do that this time. “
“Early this week, after hacker attacks on its site, Wikileaks moved its operation, including all those diplomatic cables, to the greener pastures of Amazon.com’s cloud servers. But today, it was down again and mid-afternoon we found out the reason: Amazon had axed Wikileaks from its servers.
The announcement came from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Lieberman said in a statement that Amazon’s “decision to cut off Wikileaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies Wikileaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material.” […]
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for Internet freedom of speech by defending court cases, said the axing certainly doesn’t violate the First Amendment. But it is, according to senior staff attorney Kevin Bankston, “disappointing.”
“This certainly implicates First Amendment rights to the extent that web hosts may, based on direct or informal pressure, limit the materials the American public has a First Amendment right to access,” Bankston told TPM.”
“While others harp about the big subjects being neglected by the American education system, like science and math, one Utah Republican has a more particular curricular interest: mineral industry appreciation.
Last month, TPM reported the news that Utah state Rep. Jack Draxler (R) is sponsoring a bill to educate elementary school kids about the benefits of the oil and gas industries. “Mineral literacy,” he calls it. Money for the program would come out of a fund currently paid for by the oil industry to reclaim or plug abandoned wells — a fund he says often runs a surplus. Draxler’s bill was approved unanimously two weeks ago by the state House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee, and now moves on to a full state House vote. Yesterday, Draxler took a little time to talk to TPM about his efforts.”
“A spokesperson for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says the preeminent veteran in the U.S. Senate “misspoke” yesterday when he said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates never served in the U.S. military.
McCain dismissed Gates’ claim that repealing the military’s ban on openly gay and lesbian service members would have little or no effect on military readiness in an interview with NBC News yesterday by suggesting that Gates doesn’t really know what ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will mean for fighters on the ground. McCain, who continues to be opposed to repealing DADT, stated that Gates was not an objective expert on the matter because he’s “a political appointee who’s never been in the military.””
“Republicans say no Senate business until tax cuts are extended and the government is funded — presumably on terms favorable to the GOP. That apparently includes the START treaty. And now the man leading the resistance to ratifying the treaty during the lame duck says Dems have until Monday to come to terms with Republicans on those two issues.
“If the taxes all can’t be resolved and voted on and completed and spending for the government for the next ten months completed by like next Monday, I don’t know how there’s enough time to complete START,” Kyl told The Hill.”
Earlier in the day Republicans sent a letter vowing to block ALL legislation but said it did not include START.
“Earlier this week, every single Senate Republican released a letter indicating that they would block all Senate business until the wealthiest Americans receive additional tax cuts.[…]
The good news is that a brief window opens up next month which will allow the Senate to amend its rules with only 51 votes. Sadly, however, next year’s battleground is likely to shift to the House, where GOPer’s are already threatening to take the entire U.S. economy hostage if the nation does not agree to an as-yet unspecified list of demands.”
“The Republican National Committee will soon hold elections to potentially replace its gaffe-prone chairman Michael Steele, and today, FreedomWorks held a forum for those vying for the job. All the candidates present — Steele was conspicuously absent — touted their fundraising ability, but Mike Duncan, a former chairman running for another term, took the opportunity to wax poetic about campaign finance. Despite the recent troubling and unprecedented explosion of money in politics, Duncan called money “the mother’s milk of politics,” and argued, “there is not enough money” in politics:
DUNCAN: Money is the mother’s milk of politics. There is not too much money in politics, there is not enough money.”
“Yesterday, the Senate failed to extend unemployment benefits through next year, leaving over 2 million unemployed Americans without crucial aid in the midst of the holiday season. Senate Republicans refused to consider a year-long extension unless the cost is fully paid for. A particularly incensed Sen. Scott Brown delivered a “fiery speech” on the Senate floor last night, lambasting Democrats “for what he considers to be unwarranted diversions.” “We spent seven days on food safety!” Brown scoffed and reassured unemployed workers that “I have complete and total sympathy and understanding” and that “more than anybody here, I want to help.” However, when Democrats offered him that opportunity, he single-handedly slapped away the chance. Trying to beat the clock, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced a proposal Monday to extend benefits through 2011 at a cost of $56 billion without offsets. But when Democrats tried to pass the proposal yesterday, Brown blocked the effort, complaining that he’d “just found out” about it.[…] Brown defended his opposition, saying he “disagreed” that Congress should “pay for unemployment benefits” by “putting more debt on the credit card.” A curious position considering Brown is more than happy to slap the nation with a $830 billion bill in order to extend the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent of wealthy Americans.[…]
This morning, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) called Brown’s vote against 60,000 Massachusetts workers “outrageous” and a “question of national character.” “We need Scott Brown to see and be worried about the people of the Commonwealth who are trying to get groceries on the table while they continue to look for work,” he said.”
“Liberals see the president as a bad negotiator, willing to sell the farm for nothing. They point to concessions he has made on energy policy, health care and government spending — without guarantees of getting anything in return from Republicans.”
“The Atlantic Coast and the eastern Gulf of Mexico will remain closed to offshore oil and gas drilling for now, in what's considered a major recalibration of the nation's offshore drilling priorities after last spring's catastrophic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”
“The United States harbors a low view of the Russian leaders and little hope that Russia will become more democratic or reliable.”
“Following decades of allegations from the 44-year-old data processor, the vast conglomeration of all matter and energy known as the universe admitted Tuesday that it was directly responsible for every single hardship in the life of Dave Schwartz, and apologized for continually foiling him at every turn.
“Dave has good reason to say the universe is conspiring against him, because, well, it is,” said the cosmos, acknowledging that it has thwarted Schwartz’s hopes and dreams from the moment of his conception. “He may sound melodramatic when he goes on and on about the whole world having turned against him, but he’s actually not that far off. The forces of time and nature genuinely want him to fail at life, and fail hard.””So, yes, his anger and frustration are totally understandable,” the universe added. “Pointless and futile, but totally understandable.”[…]
When questioned Tuesday as to the motive for its actions against Schwartz, the universe told reporters that it had no good answer except to speculate that perhaps its essential nature was simply “cruel and meaningless or something.””
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