I spent a whole day without the comforting glow of cable news and I feel 100% smarter. The rest of the rest:
• The House of Representatives actually debated the war in Afghanistan today. Josh Mull liveblogged it. He was one of the few to cover it, actually, which angered Patrick Kennedy, who called the media “despicable” for focusing on irrelevant nonsense instead of matters of war and peace. The vote to bring home the troops through the War Powers Act just wrapped up: 65 yes (including 5 Republicans), 356 no. Earlier, the vote to bring the bill to the floor showed 28 cowards on the Democratic side who didn’t even want to talk about it.
• Patrick Kennedy, in lashing out at the media for ignoring the war in Afghanistan, said that they are focused on “Eric Massa 24/7″. With the dredging up of stories from Massa’s Navy days, expect that to continue. The media should probably ask themselves if rumormongering is why they got into political journalism.
• Coverage of Kathleen Sebelius’ visit to the insurance industry conference here and here. I do find it a little hard to take seriously, as it’s more a meta-fight than a real one, designed to propel reform. Sebelius should speak in front of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops if she wants to really take it to the enemy on this one.
• Alan Grayson’s Public Option For All Act has already snagged 10 cosponsors. They won’t be the last.
• The President’s latest idea is to use health spies, “bounty hunters,” to reduce fraud in health care. Some of this is done through Presidential memorandum, and some through supporting legislation outside the health care bill. None of it is much more than theater.
• You can tell just how great financial reform is going (actually, this is OK, but the rest is dreck) by the fact that Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin just introduced their own bill that would essentially enact the Volcker rule on proprietary trading. In a statement, Merkley said, “There is a place for high-risk speculation on the prices of stocks or securities, but these bets can no longer be allowed to threaten our entire financial system. Taxpayers should never again be told that they have to save bankers from their bad bets.” Surely the second financial reform bill will be a much better ride than the first. Right?
• Meg Whitman invited the press to an event and then refused to talk to them, which is actually standard practice for her. She thinks she can avoid any and all press requests, and just buy the election – and with those ad buy numbers, and the pathetically small California press, she might be able to pull it off.
• The DCCC still thinks they can make advanced in GOP-leaning territory in the fall, announcing a first round of Red to Blue districts that includes 13 candidates. It’s a smaller map than 2006 or 2008, but there’s still some offense being played.
• Some may be opposed, but I actually kind of like this push for federal education standards in K-12, provided it’s a floor and not a ceiling.
• John Roberts had his widdle feelings hurt at the State of the Union. The White House fired back. Entitled people with lifetime jobs and tremendous power should probably shut their mouths, Mr. Roberts.
• Joe and Valerie Wilson’s statement on Karl Rove’s new book is worth reproducing in full:
Karl Rove’s book “Courage and Consequence” is less memoir than hoax. The chapters that relate to the CIA leak scandal are yet another attempt to deflect attention from his central role in the betrayal of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity as a covert CIA officer. His distortions and fabrications are consistent with his approach throughout this sordid and criminal affair. Wasting his opportunity to tell the truth, he offers absolutely nothing new, and his selective use of facts and quotes are a transparent effort to continue his long campaign to confuse people, unfortunately consistent with his past behavior. His book is a pathetically weak defense of the disastrous policies pursued by the Bush administration, involving our country in a war of choice based on false intelligence and badly tarnishing the good name of the United States of America. Nothing in Karl Rove’s book refutes those facts. His book, however, is illuminating in further exposing his political methods, especially his reliance on personal insults, not simply towards Valerie and myself, but also towards all those who opposed his unprincipled behavior. If any additional proof to the irrefutable historical record were needed, Rove’s book demonstrates once again the actions of a vindictive, angry and petty man. Karl Rove betrayed his nation; now he has betrayed history.
• The House Budget Committee would have to get their hands on any health care bill using reconciliation, which means next Thursday is, er, completely unrealistic to pass the bill.
• Everyone should study up on interest rate swaps. Whole municipalities are being fleeced by the banks.
• Barbara Hafer’s out in PA-12, meaning Murtha staffer Mark Critz is the Democratic standard-bearer there – and the Republicans may not even contest the special election.
• I had never heard of Edward Tufte before today, but his new role in the Obama Administration could yield some interesting results.
• Rush Limbaugh clarifies, says he doesn’t want to go to live in Costa Rica, just that he would use its socialized medicine. Surprised he didn’t opt for Britain.
• I have to confess something. The second date with my wife was at this restaurant where a sting operation discovered they were serving whale meat. You can ask Mrs. dday: I didn’t like the joint.
• And finally, Glenn Beck’s found me out: