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Posted at 8:41 AM ET, 02/17/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Obama voices strong support for Wisconsin public employees: With the standoff continuing to rage over Governor Scott Walker's push to strip public employees of bargaining rights, Obama has now waded into the debate, denouncing Walker's proposal as an "assault on unions."

In an interview with local WTMJ-TV which is now up online, Obama said we all need to "make some adjustments to new fiscal realities," but insisted it's important not to "vilify" public employees and described them as "our neighbors, our friends":

"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions. And I think it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends. These are folks who are teachers and they're firefighters and they're social workers and they're police officers.

"They make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution. And I think it's important not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees."

Obama's comments -- which put him squarely in opposition to the right's ongoing campaign to scapegoat public workers for our economic woes -- could draw more national media attention to a story that's mostly unfolded so far online.

* South Dakota shelves "justifiable homicide" bill: The state legislature has now indefinitely postponed plans for a vote on that bill making homicide justifiable to defend the life of the unborn in some cases, and may drop it entirely. I reported here yesterday that its author was reconsidering the plan.

It's interesting to consider that if it hadn't been for blogs and new media, this bill could very well have become law, though it's still unclear what real-world legal consequences that would have had.

* Bad week for culture war veterans? Amy Sullivan sums it up: "Between this and the whole redefining rape kerfuffle, it's turning out to be a bad p.r. month for culture warriors."

* Tea Party shows signs of ideological consistency: It turns out the defeat of the $450 million for an alternative fighter jet engine, which House Speaker John Boenher wanted because it benefits his state, was fueled by many Tea Party House GOP freshman, suggesting they may continue making life difficult for GOP leaders on spending.

* GOP punting "entitlement reforms" back to Obama's side of the field? Jake Sherman notes that many Republicans who are slamming Obama for sidestepping "entitlement reforms" are simultaneously ducking coming up with ideas of their own, another sign of how reluctant both sides are to take the first step on to this treacherous political turf.

* But Paul Ryan may take that first step: He assures Politico that Republicans will indeed unveil plans for "comprehensive" reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, vowing to lead where the president failed, suggesting Republicans may take up the White House's challenge to make the first move.

* Only crazy hippie lefties think government spending is the answer: Interesting big-picture read from Dan Froomkin: Those who argue that more spending is the way out of the recession have been entirely marginalized in Washington discourse, meeting the same fat as those who warned against the Iraq invasion.

* Obama changing the politics of deficit reduction? Relatedly, E.J. Dionne argues that it's refreshing to see Obama refusing to fall for the usual Beltway "deficit hawk" chump bait by continuing to insist that new revenues, not just cuts, are crucial to bringing down the deficit. Dionne hopes that in so doing, Obama will succeed in "changing the politics of deficit reduction."

I'd only add that a great deal of Obama's legacy on this front will turn on whether he makes good on his vow to aggressively re-litigate the fight over the Bush tax cuts for the rich.

* Bipartisan group of Senators press forward on deficit proposals: The devil will be in the details, but a bipartisan group of Senators is inching forward on a proposal based on the deficit commission's work that would trigger tax hikes and budget cuts if fiscal targets aren't met.

It's unclear how this plays into the politics of the spending and "entitlements" standoff, but here's a key detail: "The Social Security system is on firmer financial footing than other major entitlement programs and raises political sensitivities that lawmakers want to deal with separately."

* Why Fox watchers have more negative view of Muslims: Alex Seitz-Wald does the math and finds that Fox spends far more time than any other network warning viewers about the impending sharia law takeover, the global caliphate, homegrown jihad, and other varieties of Islamophobic paranoia.

* Pete King caught between demagoguery and buffoonery: A funny take from Alex Pareene on why King's hearings into Muslims "may end up being slightly less hysterical than they sounded when he proposed the idea."

* And Michele Bachmann, on whether Obama is a citizen and a Christian: Bachmann on ABC News: "We should take the president at his word."

Hard not to notice that we've been hearing this precise phrasing an awful lot lately.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | February 17, 2011; 8:41 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security, House GOPers, Labor, Morning Plum, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, Social Security, Tea Party, deficit  
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Next: Fox News isn't just `negative' about Islam. The network tells nonstop lies about it.

Comments

I met the same fat, once.
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 17, 2011 8:57 AM | Report abuse

-- Obama's comments -- which put him squarely in opposition to the right's ongoing campaign to scapegoat public workers for our economic woes -- could draw more national media attention to a story that's mostly unfolded so far online. --

Kudos to Obama. Now maybe he can give Andrew Cuomo a call and ask him to stop vilifying public employees.

Or maybe it's past time for New York's public employees to cripple downtown Albany with a little march on the governors mansion so as to give Andy a little wake up call.

...

Posted by: unymark | February 17, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Fond memories of White House Watch.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 17, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Fond memories of White House Watch.

Posted by: caothien9
------------------------------------------

I always enjoyed Froomkin's work and him leaving was a big loss for WaPo.

As for the "we'll take him at his word" I wonder if Dems can turn that around on Republicans next time they call Obama a liar or say they don't think he'll follow up on something he says he will.

You do have to admire their ability to stay on message and adopt a universal response to birthers that is ambiguous and open to interpretation. And you have to despise what appears to be the lack of follow-up questions by a complicit press.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 17, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Greg,

Obama said we aren't allowed to relitigate past fights. So which is it?

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 17, 2011 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Greg,

Obama said we aren't allowed to relitigate past fights. So which is it?

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 17, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"it's turning out to be a bad p.r. month for culture warriors."

Every month is a bad pr month for culture warriors. They don't care. Zealots just don't care what the public thinks, they are on a mission from God, you can see their handiwork all over Iran these days.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, kudos to Froomkin. Just a reminder how completely wrongheaded this deficits argument is. The big problem is the unemployment. The time to have worried about deficits was BEFORE we had the black President. It's yet another testament to how good the GOP is at their messaging and changing the argument. (Yeah, I know the Conservatives will insist that I'm elitist by assuming that the middle class voters want to have jobs, but so be it.)

But really, we need to have more spending, not less.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 17, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

"They don't care. Zealots just don't care what the public thinks, they are on a mission from God, you can see their handiwork all over Iran these days."

Many culture warriors see bad publicity as vindication. Criticism or disagreement with their points is an attempt at censorship which is persecution and makes them a martyr.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 17, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"economists forecast inflation in the United States to run about 2.5 percent this year."


Horrors!

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Awesome, the Tigers season just ended in February, what with Cabrera getting arrested for drunk driving. He apparently took a swig of scotch in front of the arresting officer.

Looks like politics will be the only sport I'm paying attention to this summer.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 17, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Hey ashot - at least you're not stuck with our sports teams here in Cleveland!

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 17, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Sports and politics make strange bedfellows...

"Formula 1 teams concerned about opening race in Bahrain"

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I keep forgetting that the Tigers have actually been decent to good these last few years.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 17, 2011 10:05 AM | Report abuse

All this "unrest" is bad for car racing and anyway, why should a Shiite population be mad about being ruled forever by one Sunni family?

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 10:07 AM | Report abuse

quarterback -- the tax cuts were only extended temporarily. therefore there will be another argument in 2012 over whether to continue them. in other words, it's not a "past fight."

Posted by: sargegreg | February 17, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Gaddafi, no more Mr. Nice Guy,

"Live ammunition being used against demonstrators in Bayda, East of Benghazi." BBC

Meanwhile, The US military, which has a navy base in Bahrain, calls for restraint from all sides, with Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan describing the monarchy as a "long-time ally" and "important partner". Oh great, it is always nice to see us on the right side of history.

Some good news..."real change may be on the way in Egypt: defence official Maj Gen Mokhtaar Mullah says there will be "no presidential candidate from the military establishment in upcoming presidential elections."

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse

[Greg sneers: "Fox spends far more time than any other network warning viewers about the impending sharia law takeover, the global caliphate, homegrown jihad, and other varieties of Islamophobic paranoia."]

So Greg found yet another progressive to disagree with Fox viewers on Muslim intentions?

*pffl*

International poll: Muslims support strict Sharia, Islamic supremacism
http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20090225/pl_usnw/muslim_publics_oppose_al_qaeda_s_terrorism__but_agree_with_its_goal_of_driving_u_s__forces_out

"...Majorities agree with nearly all of al Qaeda's goals to change U.S. behavior in the Muslim world, to promote Islamist governance, and to preserve and affirm Islamic identity."

=====
Translated: The vast majority of Muslims differ with Al-Qaeda on the means, not on the ends.

Here is a pdf of the full report.
http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb09/STARTII_Feb09_rpt.pdf

See especially pages 27 through 30: "Islamist Groups and Shari'a." On page 27, the report says: "The Islamist goal of giving Shari'a a larger role in Islamic society is viewed positively."

And on page 29: "In Egypt 81 percent said they agreed with the al Qaeda goal of "requir[ing] a strict application of Shari'a law in every Islamic country" (65% strongly); only 12 percent disagreed. Pakistanis were similar with 76 percent agreeing with this goal (52% strongly); 5 percent disagreed. Indonesians, however, agreed by only a narrow plurality: 49 percent supported the goal (just 14% strongly), while 42 percent disagreed. In Morocco in late 2006, 76 percent agreed."

Try harder to resist your Candorphobic paranoia of clearly better-informed Fox viewers, Greg.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 17, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

[Greg sneers: "Fox spends far more time than any other network warning viewers about the impending sharia law takeover, the global caliphate, homegrown jihad, and other varieties of Islamophobic paranoia."]

So Greg found yet another progressive to disagree with Fox viewers on Muslim intentions?

*pffl*

International poll: Muslims support strict Sharia, Islamic supremacism
http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnw/20090225/pl_usnw/muslim_publics_oppose_al_qaeda_s_terrorism__but_agree_with_its_goal_of_driving_u_s__forces_out

"...Majorities agree with nearly all of al Qaeda's goals to change U.S. behavior in the Muslim world, to promote Islamist governance, and to preserve and affirm Islamic identity."

=====
Translated: The vast majority of Muslims differ with Al-Qaeda on the means, not on the ends.

Here is a pdf of the full report.
http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/feb09/STARTII_Feb09_rpt.pdf

See especially pages 27 through 30: "Islamist Groups and Shari'a." On page 27, the report says: "The Islamist goal of giving Shari'a a larger role in Islamic society is viewed positively."

And on page 29: "In Egypt 81 percent said they agreed with the al Qaeda goal of "requir[ing] a strict application of Shari'a law in every Islamic country" (65% strongly); only 12 percent disagreed. Pakistanis were similar with 76 percent agreeing with this goal (52% strongly); 5 percent disagreed. Indonesians, however, agreed by only a narrow plurality: 49 percent supported the goal (just 14% strongly), while 42 percent disagreed. In Morocco in late 2006, 76 percent agreed."

Try harder to resist your Candorphobic paranoia of well-informed Fox viewers, Greg.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 17, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@ashotinthedark "Fond memories of White House Watch.

Posted by: caothien9
------------------------------------------

I always enjoyed Froomkin's work and him leaving was a big loss for WaPo."

Agreed. I thought White House Watch was better focused and more readable than his current column at the Huffington Post.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 17, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

On to the real news of the day, the AP reports, "the Moroccan teenager at the center of a prostitution scandal that has sent Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi to trial says she has done nothing wrong and that "all the gold in the world would not be enough" to compensate her for the hurt she has suffered."

Oh Ruby, how could you ask for money from that nice man? Poor guy, give him a break, he is 57 years older than you.

Ruby "lamented that she has been "treated as a prostitute by all the Italian and foreign media."

Oh say it ain't so Ruby, say it ain't so.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 17, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

[Greg sneers: "Islamophobic paranoia."]

Is our revulsion over the public gang-rape *tournante* on CBS's Lara Logan a case of "Islamophobic paranoia"? or did media Candorphobia cause CBS to wrecklessly endanger their reporter?

*See "Battered Westerner Syndrome"
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0802/steyn1.asp

Try harder to resist your Candorphobic paranoia of better-informed Fox viewers, Greg.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 17, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

We shouldn't take Obama at his word regarding citizenship. Official state documents, on the other hand, are fine. Not to mention the fact that his mother was an American citizen, making him one by birth regardless of where he was born.

I'll await the usual birther claptrap.
BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 17, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

All, nice post from Adam Serwer on Fox News's nonstop lies about Muslims:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/draft_3.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 17, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"right's ongoing campaign to scapegoat public workers for our economic woes." fox news negative portrayal of all things islamic from mosques to sharia law to the muslim brotherhood to the left's tree hugging, dirt loving socialist standing for unions more spending on job creation and increased revenue as the only true way out of our deficit, have all been gleefully covered to the point of legitimizing and marginalizing any thought, fact or history other than their own.

Posted by: sbvpav | February 17, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"Michele Bachmann, on whether Obama is a citizen and a Christian: Bachmann on ABC News: 'We should take the president at his word.'"

Now how in the name of what makes sense does it make sense that we should put the onus on president Obama to verify his citizenship? I mean, it's not like he can remember where he was born, right? He has to rely on the same Hawaiian authorities same as we do, no?

I mean, WTF is with that anyway???

Posted by: mmyotis | February 17, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

How would a union stop JoeCorporation from moving jobs overseas when asking for decent wages/benefits doesn't really mean much when you can pay some poor guy two bucks an hour? Unions aint the problem here, folks.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 17, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

It is interesting that Walker and the WI Repubs left police and fire unions out of the legislation to strip public workers of their bargaining rights. I would hope that the WI police and fire unions are currently SUPPORTING their co-public employees in their fight to throttle this legislation?

The WI Senate Dems walked out of the Senate, leaving the body without a quorum to proceed. Will the Republicans turn the WI State Police into "thugs" and have them retrieve these members? Hopefully, WI State Police (i.e., public employees) will refuse this request in solidarity of the others?

Posted by: dozas | February 17, 2011 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"Seems like an assault on unions"

SEEMS??? Gee, ya THINK?

Maybe YOU call that "strong," Greg, but I do not. I call it weak and cowardly.

If Obama had any balls he'd be in Wisconsin.

Posted by: solsticebelle | February 17, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me the "Let's take the president at his word" Birtherism dodge is a way to keep the issue in the realm of opinion, so those who DON'T trust Obama can continue to believe what they want. Please notice this phrasing is always used near comments in which the speaker refuses to call out others for spreading this malicious BS.

Posted by: nitpicker | February 17, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

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