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The Morning Plum

* So here's where we're headed: Dem Senators appear to be coalescing around an energy bill that caps carbon emissions only for utilities. But it remains unclear if even that can win 60 votes.

* Also in the above link, the Lucy/football moment of the day: John Kerry vows to make still more concessions to win Republicans, but wonders aloud if there's anything they will support. Says Kerry: "Show me the compromise."

* But compromise is not bloody likely: Lamar Alexander says we can't pass legislation pricing pollution "while we are cleaning up from the oil spill." Worth remembering that this is the widely-held GOP position.

* Lucy just may hold the football in place this time: Financial reform is back on track as Dems propose more concessions to win back Scott Brown after he balked at the bank tax.

* A useful overview of the emerging compromise from Kevin Drum.

* Of course, it's probably not a good idea to assume that Brown and other Republican moderates won't find yet another pretext to pull their support.

* Stomping on Boehner's ant: The DNC rushes out a new Web video on John Boehner's now-notorious claim that Wall Street reform is akin to "killing an ant with a nuclear weapon."

* And: Boehner's ant crack "will be heavily featured in DNC ads this fall," a Dem official emails.

* Jon Ralston delivers: Sharron Angle walks back her "Second Amendment Remedies" line, saying she was "speaking broadly" about the Constitution and admitting the language was "a little strong."

* Department of self-promotion: In case you forgot, that "Second Amendment" remedies story was broken on this blog.

* Jon Cohen explains why the DailyKos/Research 2000 brawl is important: It gets at "the rampant confusion about the right ways to judge poll quality."

* While you weren't looking: The health reform law continues to edge up in popularity, with a new poll showing a plurality approves, 48-41.

Key takeaway: This continues to happen even as both sides are currently engaged in all-out war to shape public perceptions of the bill.

* Key moment from the Elena Kagan hearings: She signals general support for the health reform law's individual mandate, suggesting she embraces a generous reading of Congress's authority to regulate the economy.

The Constitution "grants broad deference to Congress in this area," Kagan says.

* Key moment from the David Petraeus hearings: He predicts fighting in Afghanistan will get "more intense in the next few months," lowering expectations of his performance in the near term.

* And Eric Cantor is "hyperambitious" and thinks he's just the man to rebrand the GOP.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  June 30, 2010; 8:24 AM ET
Categories:  Climate change , Financial reform , Health reform , House GOPers , Morning Plum , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Happy Hour Roundup
Next: Sharron Angle: We should cut unemployment benefits to encourage jobless to go back to work


Michael Gerson on Weigel.

"My political friendships and sympathies are increasingly determined not by ideology but by methodology. One of the most significant divisions in American public life is not between the Democrats and the Republicans; it is between the Ugly Party and the Grown-Up Party."

This distinction came to mind in the case of Washington Post blogger David Weigel, who resigned last week after the leak of messages he wrote disparaging figures he covered. Weigel is, by most accounts, a bright, hardworking young man whose private communications should have been kept private. But the tone of the e-mails he posted on a liberal e-mail list is instructive. When Rush Limbaugh went to the hospital with chest pain, Weigel wrote, "I hope he fails." Matt Drudge is an "amoral shut-in" who should "set himself on fire." Opponents are referred to as "ratf -- -ers" and "[expletive] moronic."

Gerson, the grown-up (you can tell because his spats are polished and his top hat recently blocked) probably ought not to have brought Limbaugh into graph two because what Weigel wrote for a very private audience was infinitely less ugly in intention and consequence than what Limbaugh has put out over the airwaves for millions of listeners every day over a period of decades. And Gerson, the grown-up (you can tell because he doesn't use words that reference bodily functions) has nothing at all to say here about "the tone" of Mr. Anal-Poisoning/I want the President to fail Limbaugh.

Gerson does take a single shot at Coulter and then, for grown-up balance, ads a shot at Mike Malloy. Both, in his constrtuction, equally guilty of 'ugly'. Does anyone here even know who Mike Malloy is? I don't. Gerson totally and completely refuses to mention or acknowledge the millions of books Coulter has sold - along with the thousands of TV appearances on FOX and elsewhere - that are filled with the 'ugly' Gerson claims pollutes our discourse and which he cannot be seen in the company of.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse


This is a morally and intellectually despicable column by Gerson. The modern conservative movement has been shaped and defined by the "tone" of Limbaugh and Coulter and so many others like them who have a deep reach into the culture and discourse of the nation. And the modern conservative movement, along with the GOP, has done nothing to temper these destructive extremities. They have moved only to seek electoral and cultural gain from it.

And the modern conservative movement has been exactly and consistently this despicable while hiding under the pretense - as Gerson does here - of moral purity.

But there's something else going on here too and to get it properly conceived, one needs to understand that Gerson is not merely a moral black hole, he's a propagandist. The GOP is in danger in November and beyond from the extremisms of its "fresh" candidates and from its increasingly extreme views on governance, the constitution etc (see Texas party platform, see Republican governors threatening to pull out of the union because the black fellow at the top is Hitler) and because the constant "ugly" coming from the conservative media. The only way people like Gerson might attempt to lessen the electoral consequences of these realities is to claim that the conservative movement is not uniquely evil.

Well, it is. And Gerson represents this more than the jerk will ever be able to comprehend.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Got a question cuz I really dont know. Was the charge to banks in fin reg always put forth as a tax! Or is this just another instance where Republican messaging won out? I ask becuzin Scott Brown's letter he infers that bank tax is his own term for it and every story since that letter has included the words bank tax.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 30, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

Got a question cuz I really dont know. Was the charge to banks in fin reg always put forth as a tax! Or is this just another instance where Republican messaging won out? I ask becuzin Scott Brown's letter he infers that bank tax is his own term for it and every story since that letter has included the words bank tax.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | June 30, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

"Lamar Alexander says we can't pass legislation pricing pollution while we are cleaning up from the oil spill."

Just like how we can't have police stations while we still have crime. Or how we shouldn't have teachers until we're sure students are smart enough to learn. Or how we shouldn't have firefighters until we put out all fires.


Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | June 30, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

As I said here at the beginning of Obama's term, in order for the GOP to regain the WH they must necessarily be able to make the argument that Obama has failed. And in order to make that argument believable, they must necessarily attempt, from the onset of his taking office, to build a narrative that he is failing.

With that in mind, take a look at the NRO headline this morning:

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

"The DNC rushes out a new Web video on John Boehner's now-notorious claim..."

I think the term "rushes" would be the right one. That's a terrible ad. It's neither effective nor memorable - just like so many other political ads.

The DNC needs to take a chance and do something creative and memorable in their ads. That's the only way they will resonate in this political climate, because everyone is currently turned off by traditional political advertising.

How about doing an ad where it's like a 50's moster movie, with a giant ant attacking a city/country. One could show hilariously cheesy footage of this giant monster ant, with a voiceover wondering aloud if this could possibly be what Boehner was thinking of - because to think that Bush's 2008 financial meltdown was merely an "ant sized" problem would be incredibly out of touch with the nation.

This isn't rocket surgery.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | June 30, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse


Did you read Air Melber's take on the Weigel issue?

You really should. Melber is one of the best political journalists out there, and I think he's spot on with this piece. Key quote:

"Weigel’s fall was not a revenge of the inventions – blogs are blurry, Twitter is scary and his colleague’s media listserve was just a press conference waiting to happen – his problem was getting caught going negative on people who matter."

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | June 30, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

"Stomping on Boehner's ant: The DNC rushes out a new Web video on John Boehner's now-notorious claim that Wall Street reform is akin to "killing an ant with a nuclear weapon.""

Jeez. I hadn't heard that one.

When political statements have the sole function of the "now we create our own reality" methodology, they are necessarily detached from what is real. What does one tell one's children about such people?

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

"This isn't rocket surgery."

Oh, I do like that one, BBQ.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

From Benen:

"It's also worth noting the oddity of the "moderate" Republican demands. Under the original financing mechanism, a modest fee would be imposed on banks over the next five years. To satisfy Brown, financing will now largely come from a shut-down TARP system. In effect, Brown insisted that the Wall Street reform initiative itself is paid for by taxpayers, instead of by banks. But, you know, he sort of drives a truck, so he must be a man of the people."

Scott Brown is DEMANDING that banking reform be paid for by taxpayers not banks. And to SG's question: this would be a FEE on banks to finance the necessary reforms. But it is a TAX on the American people because we are the ones who will now be paying instead. Now the GOP is insisting on corporate welfare and calling it tax relief. And they are getting away with it!

All part of the GOP's governing philosophy, highlighted in Citizens United, that corporations are equal to people and money is equal to liberty. Consider the civil rights legacy of the Scalia-Roberts Court: Apart from an historical quirk in Sixth Amendment Confrontation law, the ONLY "civil liberty" advance of the 30 year Conservative Court has been assuring that Americans can possess deadly weapons. That is what passes for civil liberty for conservatives.

The GOP scheme for dominance is becoming increasingly clear: Republicans believe in the supremacy of the majority, of the powerful and propertied, at the expense of minorities and the marginalized. It is Us Versus Them, with Us being the demographic majorities (whites Christians) serving as deckhands on the sleek yachts of the wealthy and privileged and Them being racial and ethnic minorities, the poor, the disabled and disadvantaged. The GOP considers these latter groups "thugs" of one kind or another, against whom "respectable Americans" must be protected.

A bit incoherent, I know, but I'm working on it. There IS something there.

Posted by: wbgonne | June 30, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of health care, there is supposed to be the beginning of the application process for high risk pools beginning tomorrow at I have heard a lot of grumblings about this and it hasn't been widely touted as becoming available as far as I've seen. I've had to search for information but I'll keep you posted on the process as my daughter will be applying.

Posted by: lmsinca | June 30, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

That's a good piece, wb. Well done.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

From Ryan McNeely, writing at Yglesias' blog:

"In contrast to conservatives who don’t actually care about the deficit, it’s important to remember that Barack Obama recently signed a massive deficit-reduction bill called the “Affordable Care Act.” The health care team at CAP just released a memo that explains “How Health Reform Saves Consumers and Taxpayers Money,” and while most of the figures won’t be a surprise to readers of this blog, it’s important to remember that ACA will save a lot of money.

(graph at link)

To sum up, Senate Republicans were in lockstep opposition to a bill that shaved over a trillion dollars off the long-term deficit, but they will go to the mat to filibuster an extension of unemployment benefits because…it will add $33 billion to the deficit. When Republicans block measures that help lower-income people, they claim they are doing so in the name of deficit reduction. But their opposition to health care reform shows that blocking measures that help lower-income people — not deficit reduction — is actually their primary concern."

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Jezzzus...Michelle Bachmann gives us this gem of economic mastery:

"Well, President Obama is trying to bind the United States into a global economy where all of our nations come together in a global economy. I don’t want the United States to be in a global economy where, where our economic future is bound to that of Zimbabwe. I can’t, we can’t necessarily trust the decisions that are being made financially in other countries."

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Hey Bernie, here's the post from yesterday on Boehner's "ant" crack:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 30, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Punditry as morality play.

A la Gerson's repugnant piece this morning, Benen this morning points to the outrage generated in conservative circles by the reporters captured in an open-mike moment after Palin's speech - Bias Bias everywhere and not a drop for us.

The statements made by the unknown reporters (with no intention they be actually broadcast to anyone) were not merely understandable given the incoherence of Palin's sentences and the lack of actual policy knowledge she continually demonstrates, they also do not hold a candle to the severity of criticism launched every night by Hannity for consumption by an audience of millions. Gerson's next column will possibly take up this instance of liberal bias.

But in the piece, Steve reminded me of Peggy Noonan's open-mike incident following on the announcement of Palin's nominatin to VP candidacy - "this is political bullshit".

That got her in some trouble, of course, being rather counter to the desired GOP narrative (best possible pick, mind like a steel cage, etc). So, she apologized, natch.

But what for? "I used a barnyard epithet". Indeed. I grew up in farm country and that's the way farmer's talk. "Dear, before you come in the kitchen, could you please scrape the barnyard epithet off your boots?" You hear that all the time on real American/Canadian farms.

The real reason for her "apology" was for dissing the candidate and for HONESTY.

Morality plays have really nothing to do with honesty at all. Honesty is unwelcome. What's needed is the pretense of it, the symbology of it (Miss Virgin curtsies to Mr Goodfellow who presents her with a blossom from The Tree of Rectitude).

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Greg. Sorry, time constraints result in these omissions.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

God in heaven. Michael Steel's response noted in your update! It's like an old toothless beaver hoping to gum down a stand of cedars.

OK, I've had enough of my species for this morning.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 30, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Bernie, thanks for that. Gerson is an idiot.

And wbg, keep it up on that track: agree that the narrative from the right is "what's good for GM is good for the country," but with the inviolable caveat that it's the COMPANY and not the workers.

If the Dem party can't make coming elections a referendum on the Corporate versus the citizen then it is in BIG trouble.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 30, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse


* Goldman admits it had bigger role in AIG deals *

Reversing its oft-repeated position that it was acting only on behalf of its clients in its exotic dealings with the American International Group, Goldman Sachs now says that it also used its own money to make secret wagers against the U.S. housing market.

A senior Goldman executive disclosed the "bilateral" wagers on subprime mortgages in an interview with McClatchy, marking the first time that the Wall Street titan has conceded that its dealings with troubled insurer AIG went far beyond acting as an "intermediary" responding to its clients' demands.

The official, who Goldman made available to McClatchy on the condition he remain anonymous, declined to reveal how much money Goldman reaped from its trades with AIG.

However, the wagers were part of a package of deals that had a face value of $3 billion, and in a recent settlement, AIG agreed to pay Goldman between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. AIG's losses on those deals, for which Goldman is thought to have paid less than $10 million, were ultimately borne by taxpayers as part of the government's bailout of the insurer.

Goldman's proprietary trades with AIG in 2005 and 2006 are among those that many members of Congress sought unsuccessfully to ban during recent negotiations for tougher federal regulation of the financial industry.

Shorter Boehner: Nothing to see here! Goldman Sachs and AIG are my buddies! Nananananana we're not listening!

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 30, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

During his confirmation hearings: Justice Roberts said that a Supreme Court Justice calls Balls and Strikes, just like a baseball umpire.

Looking at his record, since he was confirmed, Roberts does not call balls and strikes.

He is like an incompetent World Cup Soccer Referee, who keeps taking away legitimate goals scored, and allowing illegitimate goals to be counted.

Like those rotten World Cup Referees, John Roberts, and his four line judges, should be sent home, in disgrace.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 30, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Looking at a video clip of the part of the hearings, where Senator Graham asked Ms. Kagan where she was on Christmas Day; it appears to me, that Senator Graham was actually playing the straight man, to set her up for the punch line.

It looks like she missed the set up, at first, and he had to remind her that he had just asked her where she was on that day. She laughed openly for a while, before delivering the punch line, because she realized that she has missed the set up.

If you listen to the Senators comments, right after she gave the punchline, several of them said that they knew what was coming, and Senator Graham said that he did too.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 30, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Btw, GREAT roundup this morning Greg. I am so glad you led off with energy.

On that note, here is part of a really informative (but not too geeky) interview with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) at

DR: Isn't part of the reason Kerry-Lieberman ended up hundreds of pages that they did a lot of work to address those regional disparities, via allowance revenue?

JM: [pause] Yeah, it is an extremely complicated plan. We have to look for strategies that are simpler, easier explained to the public, and less subject to looking a like every special interest has been taken care of.

DR: The quotes I'm hearing post-meeting from senators like Snowe and Lincoln are, "we cannot put a price on carbon during an economic downturn, full stop." It seems as if opponents have completely dug in their heels and proponents are doing all the compromising. How do you put the brakes on that dynamic?

JM: Let me just share my opinion on this. If you structure a bill which will create a million jobs -- which we can do -- and you structure a bill which creates a path for ending our dependence on foreign oil -- which we can do -- and you put in a "polluter pays" structure which is somewhat simpler that Kerry-Lieberman structure ... we have a chance of passing that. I think you go to the floor and you have the fight. You can't run up the white flag until you have the fight.

The whole thing is worth a read...

Posted by: Ethan2010 | June 30, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

All, Sharron Angle says we should cut unemployment to encourage those who have lost their jobs to reenter the labor force at a lower level than they left it:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 30, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Liam... Congrats! KO used your Sharon Obtuse Angle formulation on Countdown last night!

Posted by: jzap | June 30, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Liam, get thee to a copyright lawyer.

Posted by: BGinCHI | June 30, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

@lmsinca: "There is supposed to be the beginning of the application process for high risk pools beginning tomorrow at I have heard a lot of grumblings about this..."

Please do keep us informed. I heard this morning that California is not yet set up to provide such pooled insurance.

Posted by: sbj3 | June 30, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

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