Charlie Brown, Meet Football

Charlie Brown, will you never learn? You really thought Democrats were actually standing up to the Republicans on financial reform, huh? From Huffington Post:

Threatened with the prospect of having to spend the entire night sleeping on a cot inside the white sepulchre known as the United States Capitol, Senate Republicans have apparently assented to allowing a debate on the financial regulatory reform bill. Victory for Main Street! Unless, of course, Senate Democrats decided to back down on a strong(ish) bill so that the seeds of bipartisanship could be sown. In which case: Victory for David Broder!

No one exactly knows what is happening [Editor’s note: The Washington Post now confirms the deal], buthere’s what the New York Times is reporting:

Republicans insisted that they had won some crucial concessions from Democrats, including the elimination of a proposed $50 billion fund that would be paid for by big financial companies and would be used to help pay for putting failed banks out of business.

The Obama administration also had expressed opposition to the fund, out of concern that it would complicate efforts to deal with more costly failures of financial companies. And the Democrats already had expressed a willingness to remove the fund from the bill.

Oh, well, that’s just great! You know, it seems like only a week ago, Republicans were calling that provision the “permanent bailout fund” because that was the precise lie that Frank Luntz coached them to tell, over and over again. Incensed Democrats complained about this falsehood, over and over again, and actually did pretty well in getting the media on their side. But now, it’s just one more thing that nobody really liked anyway, whatever — hope you enjoyed the Kabuki theater.

Of course, we now have the benefit of viewing Senator Christopher Dodd’s FinReg bill alongside the one put forth by the GOP, and can appreciate the ways in which they parted company. (TheWashington Independent‘s Annie Lowrey has a great comparative analysis of which you can avail yourself.)

Significantly, the two proposals aren’t exactly worlds apart. But one way in which they part company dramatically is in the area of consumer protection. Per Matt Yglesias:

The ugly part of the bill is what it does to consumer protection. On the one hand, it seemingly weakens the independence of the consumer regulator. On the other hand, it has the consumer regulator preempt any and all state regulations. This is a helpful reminder that nobody on the right actually gives a damn about federalism except as a tool to advance conservative substantive policy–federal preemption of strong state regulation is always welcome.

An Annie Hall Moment

I was just telling someone this story today. Since I have so many younger friends, I sometimes assume they get certain cultural references — when they don’t.

Anyway, some years ago, I was at a dinner with a bunch of other people, and a married couple I know was sitting next to me. We were discussing a rather obnoxious person we all knew, and I said brightly (quoting Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall”), “He’s what Grammy Hall would call ‘a real Jew’.”

And they just looked at their plates.

At first, I thought it was funny. “It’s a scene from ‘Annie Hall,'” I said, thinking I just had to jog their memories. (They’re real movie buffs, I couldn’t believe they never saw it.)

And they looked away.

I thought of trying to explain that my own kids were half Jewish and I really wasn’t an anti-Semite, but I just gave up. It was just one of those things. But it’s kind of funny, too.

The pertinent part starts at 2:00…


I was so excited to find a can of Campbell’s Pepper Pot soup in my corner store, I neglected to notice I was paying $2.89. For a can of soup.

Volunteers Needed


There really, honestly aren’t enough California doctors to volunteer for this all-too-needed program?

By 11 a.m. Wednesday all appointments to a massive weeklong free health clinic were gone. Those left in line were turned away.

With more than 1,000 people waiting outside Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, organizers realized early that demand would exceed availability.

Instead of 1,200 wristbands to distribute as they originally said, volunteers were left with only 750. The lower number was the result of significant overflow on the clinic’s first day.

Despite staying open until 8 p.m., two hours later than scheduled, organizers said by day’s end they had to ask 630 people to come back later for additional services.

Stan Brock, who founded the nonprofit Remote Area Medical, which organized the clinic, said a shortage of volunteers, particularly dentists, caused the overflow. Although the clinic has 94 dental chairs, Brock said 20 were empty much of Tuesday.

And even fewer dentists signed up to volunteer Wednesday and Thursday, he said. The experience on the first day raised questions about whether the clinic can meet its daily goal of serving 1,200 patients.

Brock said the shortage of volunteers highlights the importance of pending state legislation that would allow out-of-state doctors to volunteer at the clinic.

“That is absolutely vital,” he said. “I could have recruited another 20 or 30 volunteers and you know they’re going to be here because they buy the airfare and take time off.”

Regrets, I’ve Had A Few

Even though the Sestak campaign will of course turn this into an attack ad, I don’t think there’s anything nefarious about Arlen Specter wondering if he should have stayed in the Republican party to counterbalance the extreme right.

Sometime I wondered if I should have stayed married for the kids’ sake, but ultimately what counts is the actual decision I made – not the regrets.

Torture in Iraq

Remember when reports like this were used as the rationale to invade Iraq? Now we help them cover it up:

Prisoners held for months without charge in a secret jail in Baghdad were subjected to horrific torture over a period of months – including electric shocks and rape, claims suggest. A British citizen, who is still in detention, is among the men making the allegations.

The BBC has spoken to former prisoners who back up the picture of systematic abuse at the detention centre detailed in a new report by the US-based pressure group, Human Rights Watch.

The secret detention facility at Muthana airbase is now closed.

[…] The man does not want to reveal his identity for fear of retribution, but he is one of a number of people spoken to by the BBC whose stories of terrifying abuse are almost identical to accounts given to Human Rights Watch by former inmates of Muthana now in detention elsewhere.

“Some of us were sodomised, with sticks or sometimes steel pipes and they applied electric shocks to our genitals. They told us if we did not confess they would bring our mothers and sisters and rape them in front of us.”

Carl Jung, Genius

Oh, look. These are the exact same things the Republican always accuse ACORN of!

Orange County authorities are launching an investigation into possible voter registration fraud after a local newspaper reported over a hundred cases of voters being tricked into registering as Republicans by petitioners who asked them to sign petitions for, among other causes, legalizing pot.

The Orange County Register reported last week that the Orange County District Attorney’s office announced it would team up with the Secretary of State on the case, following a Register report that 99 written complaints were filed since March by voters who said they were registered as Republicans without their consent.

Another 74 voters reached by the Register said they, too, were unwillingly made members of the GOP.

In a lengthy investigation published earlier this month, the paper pointed to an $8 “bounty” offered by the California Republican Party for each new registration as a cause for the problems. It identified multiple petitioners who work for vendors “with ties to the California Republican Party.” Back in 2006, a similar scandal led to the convictions of several petitioners.

Not the Democratic Party. Not ACORN. Imagine that!

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