2009 - %3, March

Rachel Maddow Video 5: Tweeting vs. Blogging

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 4:16 PM EDT

If you like this video, don't miss our other exclusive Rachel Maddow videos.

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Rachel Maddow Video 6: Work Anxiety Dreams About Petraeus

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 4:15 PM EDT

If you like this video, don't miss our other exclusive Rachel Maddow videos.

Rachel Maddow Video 3: Why We Need Full Time Reporters

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 4:14 PM EDT

If you like this video, don't miss our other exclusive Rachel Maddow videos.

America's Studliest State Rep Lives in Olympia, WA

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 3:51 PM EDT
State Representative Geoff Simpson of Olympia, Washington, has had it with chain emails from foot soldiers of the Christian Right. He's read the Bible and he's hitting back, and likely violating every rule he was taught in Staying In Office 101 in the process.

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Public Financing Bill: Go Time!

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 3:19 PM EDT

The public financing bill that I mentioned last week was introduced in Congress Tuesday. It's called the Fair Elections Now Act, and good government groups are already lining up behind it. Here's Common Cause, in an email to supporters:

Our nation is facing many challenges. But instead of focusing on addressing important issues like jobs, the economy and healthcare, elected officials in Washington are spending countless hours fundraising to make sure they can afford to run their next campaign.

And the problem is getting worse. Because the costs of campaigns are skyrocketing, our officials are more and more dependent on big contributions from wealthy donors and lobbyists, giving special interests undue influence over important policy decisions.

We need our leaders to spend more time on the job, instead of on the fundraising circuit. The bipartisan Fair Elections Now Act – introduced in Congress today – will make that possible.

Common Cause suggests you go this site and send a form email to your representatives.

Public Campaign Action Fund and Democracy 21 also quickly climbed on board. You can learn more about the bill at the website of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

Update: Change Congress gets in the game with a nifty vote whipping tool.

Rachel Maddow Live!

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 2:27 PM EDT
OK, it's not live.  She was live at a MoJo fundraiser on Saturday, though, and we taped her conversation with editors Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein so everyone else could see it too.  The clip on the right is all about Maddow's secrets to ratings success, and there are more clips here.  View them all!

It was a packed event, and when it was over I was almost afraid Maddow was going to get trampled by the throngs of fans who wanted their picture taken with her.  Marian and I didn't stand a chance against the crowd, though, so no pictures of us I'm afraid. Maybe next time.

Can Obama Get Anything Done?

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 2:18 PM EDT
John Dickerson says Obama has (justifiably) given up on working with Republicans:

At a recent lunch with reporters, Budget Director Peter Orszag was asked if he could name a useful idea submitted by Republicans. He couldn't — and didn't even pretend he'd considered many. When House Republicans put out a budget last week, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "The party of no has become the party of no ideas."

Gibbs probably wouldn't have said that 40 days ago, when the White House was treating the issue of bipartisanship more carefully. But after party-line votes in the House and Senate and minimum flexibility from GOP leaders, Obama aides say that Republicans are not "acting in good faith." Which leads them to two conclusions: One, their acts of conciliation buy them nothing in negotiations with the GOP; two, and more important, they've decided they'll pay no political price for acting in a more partisan fashion.

Jon Chait says he's not getting much support from his own party either:

The last Democrat who held the White House, Bill Clinton, saw the core of his domestic agenda come to ruin, his political support collapse, and his failure spawn a massive Republican resurgence that made progressive reform impossible for a decade to come. The Democrat who last held the White House before that, Jimmy Carter, saw the exact same thing happen to him.

At this early date, nobody can know whether or not Barack Obama will escape this fate. But the contours of failure are now clearly visible. In Obama's case, as with his predecessors, the prospective culprit is the same: Democrats in Congress, and especially the Senate. At a time when the country desperately needs a coherent response to the array of challenges it faces, the congressional arm of the Democratic Party remains mired in fecklessness, parochialism, and privilege.

A landslide victory isn't what it used to be, I guess.  Opposition has made Republicans near monolithic, while victory has done nothing for Democrats except sharpen their longtime infatuation with the circular firing squad.  It's times like this that make me wish I were a heavy drinker.

Sending a Message

| Tue Mar. 31, 2009 12:55 PM EDT
Jeffrey Goldberg talks to Israel's new prime minister and reports back:

In an interview conducted shortly before he was sworn in today as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu laid down a challenge for Barack Obama. The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — and quickly — or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself.

....In unusually blunt language, Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”

....Neither Netanyahu nor his principal military advisers would suggest a deadline for American progress on the Iran nuclear program, though one aide said pointedly that Israeli time lines are now drawn in months, “not years.” These same military advisers told me that they believe Iran’s defenses remain penetrable, and that Israel would not necessarily need American approval to launch an attack. “The problem is not military capability, the problem is whether you have the stomach, the political will, to take action,” one of his advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told me.

I don't believe Israel has the military means to take out Iran's nuclear facilities.  Hell, even the U.S. only barely has the means.  So why is Netanyahu bluffing like this?  To put pressure on Obama, obviously.  But to what end?  Why go out of his way to start off his relationship with Obama with warnings and threats?  This isn't a smart move on his part.