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Posted at 8:31 AM ET, 02/18/2011

The Morning Plum

By Greg Sargent

* Wisconsin Dems hanging tough: The leader of Wisconsin Senate Dems tells the Milwakee Journal Sentinal that Dems won't buckle and have no intention of returning until the GOP takes the assault on public employee bargaining rights off the table:

"This is a watershed moment unlike any that we have experienced in our political lifetimes."

* The stakes in Wisconsin: Jane McAlevey has an important and detailed rundown of all the similar battles labor faces in other states, and lots more historical context, a reminder that the Wisconsin fight is an important precedent-setter in a much broader war.

* More national unions enter the fray: More national labor leaders are showing solidarity with the Wisconsin public employees, with some traveling to the state in an effort to draw more attention to what has increasingly become a national battle.

* Wisconsin governor says Republicans are being "bullied": Governor Scott Walker appears to believe that Republicans who would gut the bargaining rights of public employees are the ones being "bullied" by Dems who are standing up for them.

* Wisconsin fight going national: Chris Bowers:

#WIunions is trending nationally on Twitter right now, too. This fight is not isolated, and it's not going to be over quickly. It's coming to a town near you.

* Government shutdown brinksmanship heats up: With John Boehner refusing to temporarily fund the government at current spending levels, Harry Reid cuts a Web video arging that "the prospect of a government shutdown has not been this real in many, many years," another sign that Dems see advantage in tarring today's GOP with Newt's disastrous gamble.

* Could GOP's repeal push trigger a government shutdown? Also worth watching: The GOP is planning to add language to the budget restricting the use of funds for implementing the health law, which will be a nonstarter with the Dem-controlled Senate, which could also trigger a shutdown.

Key takeaway: As one analyst puts it in the above link, Republicans may have to choose between allowing the shutdown to happen or temporarily dropping the defunding push, which could infuriate the base.

* Paul Krugman tries to redefine "serious": Krugman says it's time we start labeling anyone who refuses to admit tax hikes into the discussion about deficit reduction as fiscally "unserious."

ICYMI: My take on the need to redefine "deficit hawk" is right here.

* Alaska Governor says No to federal health law money: Governor Sean Parnell's refusal to implement the health law after the Florida court ruling appears to mean he won't be applying for federal cash his state is entitled to under the law to create insurance exchanges.

* Head-spinning right-wing idiocy of the day: With Michele Bachmann and others on the right attacking Michelle Obama for wanting children to be healthier and happier, it turns out that Laura Bush also undertook similiar iniatives against childhood obesity and malnutrition.

* And are Tea Partyers turning against Afghan war? A bipartisan group of 45 House members sign a letter calling for an end to combat operations.

Key nugget: The group is targeting Tea Party House freshman deemed persuadable on the issue, and it's going to be very interesting to see how many of them join the cause.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | February 18, 2011; 8:31 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security, House GOPers, Labor, Morning Plum, Tea Party  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Happy Hour Roundup
Next: House Dem reveals abortion on the House floor

Comments

Happy Friday to you all.

GO BADGERS!
.

Posted by: jprestonian | February 18, 2011 8:41 AM | Report abuse

OpEd in today WaPo from two House members, one R and one D. Bipartisanship I can believe in.

""What are we giving up to maintain the status quo? Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz told the House Veterans Affairs Committee in September that the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan, including interest payments on the money borrowed for these wars and care for our wounded soldiers and veterans, is likely to total $4 trillion to $6 trillion.

Simply put, we believe the human and financial costs of the war are unacceptable and unsustainable. It is bankrupting us. The United States should devise an exit plan to extricate ourselves from Afghanistan, not a plan to stay there four more years and "then we'll see." This doesn't mean that we abandon the Afghan people - rather, we should abandon this war strategy. It is a failure that has not brought stability to Afghanistan and has not enhanced our own security. As the retired career Army officer Andrew J. Bacevich has written, to die for a mystique is the wrong policy.

It is easier for politicians to "go along" rather than make waves. But we were elected to do the right thing, not what is politically expedient. The discussion of Afghanistan shouldn't be about politics, which we acknowledge are difficult, but what is right for our country. And the right thing is to end this war.""

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/17/AR2011021705822.html

Posted by: lmsinca | February 18, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Did the right really want to set up the circumstances where a populist uprising would appear and spread across the country and arrive on everyone's tv sets? Did they really not consider that what they were about to do in terms of reach (over-reach, if you prefer) would bring about a vital movement which wasn't organized by large PR firms in the employ of corporate interests?

I admit I don't know how best to understand this yet.

Posted by: bernielatham | February 18, 2011 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Excellent round-up.

There's a 2012 angle that might be worth pursuing.
http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=01&year=2011&base_name=wisconsin_to_make_voting_as_pa

This transparent attack is a two-fer for the GOP: It hurts people who don't support Walker and Kasich's warped economic priorities, and it's part of a larger effort meant to soften up two key swing states for the GOP nominee.

Posted by: michael_conrad | February 18, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

caught a little on the WI situation while on the treadmill last night --- best protest sign: "I blame Favre"

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 18, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Morning all!

Payer's requesting an interesting tune from the piper.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_wiki_china_treasury

Hope everyone has a great day!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 18, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

People of Syria finally deciding to do something about their police state (instead of obsessing about Israel).

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

"People of Syria finally deciding to do something about their police state (instead of obsessing about Israel)."

Shrink, part of me thinks that after they throw off their oppressor's yoke, the "real" obsessing over Israel can begin. In earnest. Think tue Iranians are going to let a client state down? Nah, me neither. :-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 18, 2011 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Here in Michigan, the new governor, Snyder is already taking heat for cutting education across the board along with protection for children and seniors, while simultaneously cutting corporate taxes. Michigan desperately needs to court business, so I recognize the middle class is going to feel some pain. However, there is a pain limit, particularly when it comes to the cost to children, and the limit might be lower when the brunt of the pain is felt by the middle class. Cuts are always going to be unpopular and that doesn't mean we should avoid them, but they need to be perceived as fair and balanced if you expect people to tolerate them. So far Republicans seemed to have not achieved the balance people are looking for.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Well they are shooting protesters in Bahrain again now, according to twitter.

As for Israel and Iran, they deserve each other.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Really? Conservatives are against breast feeding???

Man, what a national embarrassment.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 18, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"Intel and Obama will embrace in Hillsboro OR today over shared priorities. The president and Intel's CEO share similar aims, seeking more innovation and better education. They also share a common problem: How to boost education while cutting corporate taxes and government spending." The O

Better education for free, I like that idea.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

ashot,

Yeah, not a whole lot to like in Snyder's budget, save closing a prison. We are way over-incarcerated here in MI. We really need some reform in that area.

At least Snyder has not yet shown signs of going the same path as Scott (Little Hosni) Walker, or Kasick in OH.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 18, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"Better education for free, I like that idea. "

You socialnazist

Posted by: DDAWD | February 18, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Imsinca-

I agree wholeheartedly with that. Thanks. Its time for us to get over our pretentions to the global watchdog, and get our house in order here.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The First Lady is clearly out of line. Listen to this stuff:

"Our government is working to encourage children and teens to make wise choices about their health. … HHS launched the WeCan! Initiative, which promotes better nutrition for children, and educates parents and caregivers about how to get children to spend less time in front of the TV and computer screen, and more time being physically active. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has partnered with states and schools to improve physical education, and to provide more nutritious foods for children during the school day. …

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is launching a new effort -- led by the Surgeon General -- to coordinate and expand our government's existing childhood-overweight and -obesity prevention programs. As part of this campaign, the Department's Administration for Children and Families will establish a new National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play. With a $12 million, four-year grant, the Center will help Head Start programs across the country evaluate their playgrounds and their outdoor play spaces, and educate children and families about the importance of healthy food and physical activity. ACF will also provide $10 million to build and upgrade Head Start Playgrounds, making sure children have safe places to play and exercise outdoors."

What a nag! It's clearly government overreach.

That speech was given by the First Lady. That is to say, Laura Bush in 2007. Funny how Michelle, Sarah, Rush, Sean and the rest forgot to denounce her.

Thanks to The New Republic for the text. http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-cohn/83673/michelle-bachmann-obama-breast-pumps

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | February 18, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Benen again with an interesting perspective:

So to review, Boehner wants to make unemployment worse on purpose because of a bogus statistic he made up, built on a bogus premise he made up, shaped by an economic theory -- layoffs create jobs -- that doesn't make any sense.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_02/028065.php

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 18, 2011 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I can't take the GOP seriously anymore. Seriously.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Sue- "At least Snyder has not yet shown signs of going the same path as Scott (Little Hosni) Walker, or Kasick in OH."

Yeah, and I would have been surprised if he had gone that route given how pro-union Michigan generally is. I would be even more surprised if he did it given what has happened in Wisconsin.

Overall, I wasn't particularly surprised with his budget. I was very annoyed with Crain's headline and article that largely focused on him ending tax cuts for businesses, but failed to note the new cuts he gave them.

Has there been any analysis as to how necessary Scott's ummm....ambitious...union reform is. Could the deficit be addressed with some combination of additional pension contribution and other minor measures like furlough days (Macomb County in Michigan has one today)? I've seen the analysis that Scott created this budget crisis with his tax cuts.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Palin and Bachman are doing one thing and one thing only. Step all over a positive message. No positive message is allowed to get through by the partisans. Because God forbid people view the Obama's as decent people. Every time they suggest anything decent and noble, the right will step all over it.

It's what they do, foment hatred.

Now, lets hear it from the right wingers that Democrats did this to Laura Bush and Barbara Bush too while they were in the WH.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

"I can't take the GOP seriously anymore."

You did? It has never occurred to me to vote for a Republican, not even close. The Democrats are bad enough.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Chuck

I am perplexed that there is not more public outcry to end the war. Virtually every poll suggests the public is losing patience and the debt burden keeps growing. It seems to me this is one issue where left and right can form a coalition and pressure DC to end this thing. Obama just announced yesterday that he's sending 17,000 more troops to deal with urgent security needs.

Anyway, it's something I'm following and hoping to join a protest group but there's very little activism out here and believe it or not I'm having trouble finding anything. Veterans for Peace has a presence but so far it's only local to DC as far as I can tell, that's a stretch for me.

Posted by: lmsinca | February 18, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

ashot,

All indications are there was no budget crisis in WI. It was manufactured. Check out this:

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/wisconsin-gov-walker-ginned-up-budget-shortfall-to-undercut-worker-rights.php?ref=fpa

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 18, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

"Now, lets hear it from the right wingers that Democrats did this to Laura Bush and Barbara Bush too while they were in the WH."

You have to get out of the mindset that elected officials care about anything other than their next campaign. I don't look down on the GOP or the Democrats. They are equally worthless. There are a lot of ways to make the world a better place -- elected office just isn't one of them.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 18, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Nick Kristof better watch himself. Bahrain is not Cairo. He has himself in harms way (I know, already?) again. One, they have oil and two, their military are all mercenary, mostly Pakistani and they don't care (they don't own all the hotels and tourist traps, for example) about the country, they just want to get paid. Bottom line, the Sunni royals don't mind spilling Shiite blood and they are not going to quit.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Greg Sargent lied" "Wisconsin Dems hanging tough"
---------------------------------------
LMAO!

I guess you haven't seen the videos of these cowards being chased out of posh resorts in IL?

Posted by: illogicbuster | February 18, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"layoffs create jobs -- that doesn't make any sense."

Well, we are talking about the party that believes tax cuts raise revenue.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 18, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

All, this is some must watch video of a House Dem admitting to an abortion on the House floor and dressing down a GOP colleague:

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

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 18, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Oh I forgot this part, from just five minutes ago...Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times tweets from Manama: "Seems to be mostly rubber bullets. But terrible, gaping wounds, maybe meaning close range." Got that right.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

When it came to Iran the flame of democracy didn't burn so brightly in progressive hearts. Even when the Iranian protester, Neda, was shot dead while standing peacefully on a street in Tehran, The Obamateur responded by ...going out for an ice cream cone.

But a mob of Egyptians start decapitating mummies, and The Obamateur was on the horn telling Mubarak he had to leave. Obama didn't acknowledge Neda's existence, but the moment Egyptians started rioting, Obama said, "We hear your voices."

The fact that Leftists support democracy in Egypt (but not in Iraq or Iran) can mean only one thing: Democracy in Egypt will be bad for the United States and its allies.

Leftists opposed democracy in Russia, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and all the Soviet satellite states, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, Grenada, Nicaragua... and (now) Wisconsin.

Progressive mobs are all for meddling overseas-- but only provided a change of regime will HARM American interests.

As Joe McCarthy once said, if Leftists were merely stupid, the laws of probability would dictate that at least some of their decisions would serve America's interests.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

[lmsinca bedwet: "I am perplexed that there is not more public outcry to end the war... it's something I'm following and hoping to join a protest group but there's very little activism out here and believe it or not I'm having trouble finding anything."]

It is refreshing to find history vindicating the Bush doctrine-- even as Obama emulates it in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So why isn't billionaire progressive George Soros financing any unhinged Leftist rent-a-mob rallies against ObaMao's summary execution of (un-Mirandized!) civilians by Reaper drone airstrikes in Pakistan?

Afterall, Obama's targeting tactics are clearly more Miranda-despising than Bush's post-9/11 moistening of KSM, et.al.

Obama's policy to use Reaper drones to target (un-Mirandized!) civilians has increased markedly without a peep. Get busy, Leftists.

Rev. Wright should burn a Koran every day until Obama either releases his birth certificate or ends his Reaper drone madness.

Rage against the machine, progressives!

Oh noes! More *Obama Doctrine* success:

Al-Qaeda Leader Admits Drone Strikes Wreak Havoc
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/al-qaida-leader-admits-facing-pressure-u

"A purported al-Qaida leader in Pakistan says the terror network is losing territory and fighters amid a U.S. drone strike campaign, according to an audio message monitored by a U.S. organization that tracks militant propaganda..."

*Miranda-despiser-in-Chief*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa promises dialogue once calm returns. He calls on everyone to withdraw from the streets. The prince is also deputy supreme commander of the Bahrain Defence Force (BDF), whose troops have been firing on anti-government demonstrators."

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I gotta ask Kaddafi. Do you think you're being clever? Do you think you're coming across as intelligent or something?

I can't figure out if you're purposely trying to sound over the top or if it just comes naturally.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 18, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

shrink-

I was kinda being ironic. I'd never vote for one of them for dogcatcher, much less anthing else.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Good to see the workers of Wisconsin resisting the dictator and fighting for their rights and freedoms!

Posted by: fiona5 | February 18, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Got it, thought so. It the run up to Obama's 2nd term, is actually a good thing American moderates get to see the zany antics of the wingers who gained office in November.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

"Good to see the workers of Wisconsin resisting the dictator and fighting for their rights and freedoms!"

I must have missed the story about how the governor had the opposition lined up and shot. Dictator. what a joke.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | February 18, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think gaddafi is the real thing, mike -- a genuine rightwing lunatic. Probably has a bunch of guns, never had a date, and has a gigantic chip on his shoulder. Those are usually matched by a tiny -- ahem.

He's a Joe McCarthy fan, that should tell you everything you need to know.

Posted by: fiona5 | February 18, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

"ashot, Yeah, not a whole lot to like in Snyder's budget, save closing a prison. We are way over-incarcerated here in MI. We really need some reform in that area. At least Snyder has not yet shown signs of going the same path as Scott (Little Hosni) Walker, or Kasick in OH. Posted by: suekzoo1"

It is that interesting Republican process running around all over the country. Push through a very unwise tax cut, (In Ohio Taft did that, in stages because he didn't want the full impact during his administration) and when the State then runs a deficit, declare it to be the fault of "Unions" and attack them. AND cut State funds to education.

If you are Texas you also make it illegal for localities to raise taxes locally so that, when the State cuts your funds you have absolutely no recourse but to cut teachers, class rooms, staff.

After all, public schools are THE biggest component og "Government"n just about every state, so to reduce "Big Government" you have to reduce the schools.

Yet Taft and Kasich both demand that they are "education" Governors."

Meanwhile in Congress the Tea Party tried to do away with the NLRB.

This isn't a common sense movement any more, it is an ideological assault on civilization. You can't have civilization without government, and the Teasers want to do away with Government.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 18, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"...do away with Government."

Installing a theocratic police state is more like it.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

The teabaggers are no different than the Taliban.

Posted by: fiona5 | February 18, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, it is creepy seeing Pakistani mercenaries driving around Bahrain's capitol in armored Humvees. Your tax (and oil) dollars at work.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 18, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

This is all so entertaining.

Liberalism got shellacked in the last election and now the union thugs are trying to steal our democracy. To which the liberals here reply "right on brothers and sisters!"

Now we know quite clearly why the liberals want to strip America of its ability to defend itself while confiscating the incomes of anybody even modestly successful in this country. They need the money to pay government employees!! Who knew? We don't need a military, so called rich people don't need their money.

Oh no, the proper priority for spending in America is to insure that teachers make $50/hour and retire at 55 on money paid to them by us. That's the single most important thing upon which America can lavish its limited resources, right guys?

Let me tell you what will happen if the unions win this time around: First there will be steep, steep cuts in welfare benefits. Formularies will be slashed, subsidies will be slashed, case workers and the hoarde of civil servants that are required to prop up the modern welfare state will be layed off. So will policemen and firemen.

but hey, let's not take away the rights of the civil service unions to pay nothing and get everything, right guys?

That's the short term. Long term: it is Greece and the firing starts. Sorry to disappoint you nasty liberals but I'm not advocating armed insurrection, I'm predicting it.

the stakes cannot possibly be higher right now. The unions know that they even though they spent a ton of money on the last election the people shunned their candidates. So the only way they can keep their rice bowl is via intimidation of the candidates that won.

Why should the voters allow the unions that option?

As Jay Nordlinger aptly describes it: It is disgusting.

Let me leave you with a quote from a true public service union stalwart. This quote sums up the attitude of the public employees perfectly. This is none other than Albert Shanker:
"When school children start paying union dues, that 's when I'll
start representing the interests of school children"

that who the liberals here stand with.

Just disgusting.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 18, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

[mikey whined: "Do you think you're being clever?"]

...as compared to what? You? Your consistent inability to address my points demonstrates abject intellectual bankruptcy.

Try harder to keep up.

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 18, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Comrade skip,

Turned in any fellow citizens yet?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 18, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Now we know quite clearly why the liberals want to strip America of its ability to defend itself while confiscating the incomes of anybody even modestly successful in this country.
----------------------------------------
What defense cut proposals are you referring to? Surely you have some easily accessible numbers that show the income of the poor and middle class increase while the income for the wealthy decreases. Were you asleep when a democratic Congress extended the Bush cuts or when that was signed by Obama?

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 18, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

"What defense cut proposals are you referring to? Surely you have some easily accessible numbers that show the income of the poor and middle class increase while the income for the wealthy decreases. Were you asleep when a democratic Congress extended the Bush cuts or when that was signed by Obama? Posted by: ashotinthedark "

Save your virtual ink. This is the Republican "Strong on Defense" blather out there raving again.

They want some rather useless but very expensive defense systems, (currently ABM defense) that have no actual probability of ever being needed, and even less likelihood of functioning should they ever be called on to do their thing, but don't actually want to pay for them, and don't want them in their back yard either, for that matter. This qualifies them as the Party Strong on Defense, although the things they want add nothing to our security or defense.

But paying for the average ground pounder in appropriate numbers, and definitely paying for support to discharged veterans are not something they ever even consider. "Costs too much." "We can't afford it."

And when the Democrats question these wasteful systems, well we are betraying the country to the (non existent) enemy.

In this case, though, the SODR did manage to get his contradictory position in one rather tight sentence, something of a rarity from that side of the aisle.

He objected to democrats wanting to pay for the defense of the country and complain that they wanted to weaken that defense in slightly more the the maximum characters allowed in a twit.

Posted by: ceflynline | February 18, 2011 3:17 PM | Report abuse

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