An opposition party has to oppose someone, right?

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama held separate meetings with GOP leaders in the House and Senate to discuss the stimulus bill moving through Congress. Afterward, the Republicans talked very nicely about the new president, saying that they appreciated that Obama was reaching out and listening to them. During the meetings, several of the Republicans noted that they welcomed "the tone that [Obama] had brought to Washington" and his "willingness to seek their views," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. In fact, Gibbs added, Representative Mike Pence, a leading conservative from Indiana, ended the House-side meeting by declaring that the door to the Republican House conference would always be open to Obama.

As a matter or realpolitik, the Republicans had little choice but to be darn gracious toward Obama. The president's early approval ratings are stratospheric. And with the economic crash continuing (if not accelerating, given this week's job loss numbers), a majority of Americans are rooting for the president, hoping whatever he tries to do about the economy will succeed. On Monday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent out an email touting a poll noting that 66 percent of Americans support the economic stimulus package put together by the Democrats in the House and supported by Obama. It would be foolish--except for Republicans from the most Limbaugh-loving areas of the nation--to stand in Obama's way. And, no small matter, the GOPers don't have the votes--particularly in the House--to stop him and the Democrats.

But can the Republicans simply cave? They have raised a fuss about certain portions of the stimulus package, labeling some provisions pork and calling for more tax cuts. Their complaints about a provision that would extend birth control coverage under Medicaid did lead Obama to ask the House Dems to jettison this piece of package. (And jettisoned it was.) But the Republicans have not gone after Obama.

Consider this statement released by House Republican Whip Eric Cantor after the meeting with Obama:

Is PTSD Purple Heart Worthy?

Not according to the Pentagon and The Nation is fired up about it:

"Every badge hunter and his brother will have this distinguished award in their sights," Army Captain Matthew Nichols wrote in a letter to the editor of Stars and Stripes last spring, when the specter of thousands of emotionally wounded teenaged and twentysomething veterans became an issue too pressing to ignore. Joe Palagyi, national adjutant of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, equated psychological trauma to "almost getting wounded." In other words, if a soldier's postwar life is emotionally shattered directly because of his service to his or her country, then it's their own damn unsoldierly fault; any heroism or quick thinking that led to one's almost—as opposed to actually—getting wounded is not triumphant but rather a gateway to mockery.

Is it just me, or is this one a toughie?

We've all seen enough movies to know that lots of Purple Heart winners took a bullet in the bum under less than glorious, non-dangerous circumstances. Still, there was always the notion that one had to have shed some blood somewhere in theatre to win such an honor, without looking closely at how that blood got spilled. I'm not as disgusted as The Nation. Maybe I will be, but I'm not there yet.

This is one of those issues you never see coming and kinda wish had never come up. I wonder how the question arose; I can't see lots of GIs demanding the PH for their PTSD.

I'm stumped. And I can't stop thinking about it. According to the National Purple Heart Hall of Fame one earns this commendation:

Forbes has done a round-up of 25 writers, bloggers, and TV personalities it considers to be the elite of the liberal media elite, and our own Kevin Drum made the cut. He clocks in at #23, just ahead of Michael Pollan and Kurt Andersen, just behind Ezra Klein. Like all lists, it is fun to argue with who made the cut, and who fell where. But even more entertaining is how the assemblers—Forbes deputy editor Elisabeth Eaves, reporter Hana R. Alberts, and Tunku Varadarajan, Forbes columnist/Opinions editor and a professor at the Stern Business School at New York University and research fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, who "canvassed the views of more than 100 academics, politicians and journalists"—defined "liberal":

Broadly, a "liberal' subscribes to some or all of the following: progressive income taxation; universal health care of some kind; opposition to the war in Iraq, and a certain queasiness about the war on terror; an instinctive preference for international diplomacy; the right to gay marriage; a woman's right to an abortion; environmentalism in some Kyoto Protocol-friendly form; and a rejection of the McCain-Palin ticket.

I guess that's as workable a definition as any.

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK IN THE WATER....She's b-a-a-a-a-ck! And she wants you to know that she's not just a smarmy, pathetically ignorant right-wing attack dog whose 15 minutes expired three months ago. In fact:

Gov. Sarah Palin believes all Americans must work together for the future, regardless of their party affiliation. Gov. Palin is the official chair of SarahPac, and its supporters are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and those unaffiliated with any political party.

Roger that. I'm sure there are just loads of Democrats who are signing up to support Sarah. I can't wait to see the list.

Via ThinkProgress.

Poll: Do You Miss Bush Lingo Yet?

We've had a highly articulate president for a full week now. Lest you forget just what an accomplishment English fluency really is, we at Mother Jones invite you to check out our favorite verbal missteps from the former Decider-in-Chief. (We had a hard time cutting the list down to this—as Jacob Weisberg at Slate knows, there are a lot to choose from.) What's your favorite Bush quote? Vote below.

Animal CollectiveAnimal Collective is nothing if not honest: they're a loosely-defined collaboration between a couple musicians of Baltimore heritage that includes at least one nominal critter, Panda Bear. Between 2000 and 2008, the combo produced eight albums of sometimes noisy, sometimes delicate music, stepping easily over the boundaries of genre as if they were painted in a lower dimension. Their Wikipedia page lists their musical style as "Experimental/Noise pop/Freak folk/Indie rock/Neo-psychedelia," just to cover all the bases, but their sprawling output has been unified by a dedication to pure, pleasurable melody, a world view, shared by many, that puts The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds at the center of the universe.

With that kind of pedigree, it's understandable that Animal Collective have always been critical darlings, but their just-released ninth album, the more electronic-based Merriweather Post Pavillion, is getting some of the best reviews of their career. Pitchfork gave it a 9.6/10, describing the album as the culmination of the band's musical searchings, "a new kind of electronic pop." Entertainment Weekly called it "joyful, pure, and best of all, totally inclusive," Drowned in Sound gets all James Joyce-y, burbling about "the rush of life, the rush of electricity, the rush of joy, joy unbounded," and Uncut actually said "it feels like one of the landmark American albums of the century so far." If these critics don't look back from December and change their minds, Pavillion will be 2009's album of the year. So, is it really, or did the album's eye-straining cover art (the product of Japanese psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka) just hypnotize everybody?

The Real Obama

THE REAL OBAMA....Bruce Falconer notes today that Predator attacks over Pakistani territory are continuing unabated:

Obama approved a continuation of the strikes last Friday at his first meeting of the National Security Council. That same day, a missile fired from a drone in Waziristan killed at least 20 people — powerful evidence indeed of Obama's decision.

Given the new president's quick break with many of his predecessor's policies, Obama's decision represents a rare point of continuity — and comes not without criticism. UAV attacks in the region, numbering at least 30 according to a Reuters estimate, have ignited protest from the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai and provided a handy propaganda tool and recruiting engine for insurgents. Indeed, for all of the top leaders reportedly killed in air strikes over the years, Al Qaeda and the Taliban have only grown stronger.

This is yet another case of Obama doing what he said he'd do during the campaign, and it's what I meant a few days ago when I said that he seemed to be taking campaign promises unusually seriously "both for good and ill." Some progressives may not like the continued bombing campaign over Pakistan, but it's not as if we weren't warned. Likewise, on an issue like nuclear power plants, where he waffled, we should expect that he'll probably continue to take something of a mixed position.

Real life will make Obama's life much more difficult before long, when speeches and executive orders are no longer enough. Still, when all's said and done, I suspect his administration will turn out to be almost eerily foreshadowed by what he said on the campaign trail in 2008. At this point, anyone who claims not to know what Obama "really" believes just hasn't been paying attention.

It's Official: MoJo Interns Rejected for TARP Funds

Well, it looks like it's official. Despite our considerable efforts, Mother Jones is getting no federal bailout funds. According to YooJin Na at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, "your organization is not eligible for the TARP-CPP." Supportively, he included a link to the Treasury Department's special Emergency Economic Stabilization Act website.

TarpEmail.JPG

But that's only one G-man's opinion—we have yet to hear the verdict from the other places we applied. So there's still hope.

Like Matthew Lesko and Edwardsville, Alabama, we know there's got to be federal money for everyone somewhere. We've condensed the already pretty effortless Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) application process below, so you too can test your luck.

Apply for your bailout, in two frighteningly easy steps:

1. Fill out this form.

2. Email it to the Federal Deposition Insurance Corporation at assessments@fdic.gov, the Office of Thrift Supervision at webmaster@ots.treas.gov, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at Customer.Assistance@occ.treas.gov, or the Federal Reserve. Try all four to maximize your odds.

It pays to take your chances: 27 minutes for a possible 30-billion-dollar payout. That's sure better than than waiting tables.

—Alexis Fitts and Daniel Luzer

The Future of CFLs

THE FUTURE OF CFLs....A couple of years ago I went on a binge and replaced a whole bunch of incandescent bulbs in our house with CFLs. Unfortunately, I discovered that their burnout rate was surprisingly high. Out of 20 bulbs or so, I think I had to replace four or five within 18 months. CFL expert Michael Siminovitch confirms that my experience wasn't just a fluke:

Consumers have an expectation that compact fluorescents will last a very long time — significantly longer than the incandescents that they're replacing. This is technically achievable. Compact fluorescents can last a very long time. Unfortunately, I think we've compromised greatly on quality with many compact fluorescents and these things are not lasting quite as long as consumers have been led to believe. This is an issue.

He says that color and dimming issues with CFLs (which I was aware of before I bought mine) can also be addressed, but only with tighter standards and higher prices. If we got serious about it, though, economies of scale would drive down the price of high-quality bulbs fairly quickly. More here.

Who Should Progressives Root for in the Super Bowl?

superbowl-43-logo.jpg So you're not a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and you're not an Arizona Cardinals fan, but you've been invited to a Super Bowl party and you need to know who to root for. Before you pick the Cardinals because you're a progressive and you love underdogs, I urge you to consider a few facts.

Dan Rooney, the 76-year-old owner of the Steelers and a lifelong Republican, endorsed Obama and stumped for him not just in Pennsylvania but in the surrounding swing states. He did so despite the fact that Obama's promise of increased taxes on the wealthy forced Rooney's family to restructure the ownership of the team. Head coach Mike Tomlin is a vocal Obama supporter. At a recent press conference he said, "Barack is selling hope. And I'm buying." Steelers players have spoken out about how they hope to win the Super Bowl in part because it would mean they would be the first championship sports team to visit Obama's White House. (Also worth noting: Barack Obama grew up a Steelers fan and is rooting for the Steel Curtain on Sunday.)

The Bidwell family, longtime owners of the Cardinals, are major Republican donors. Their donor history can be found on opensecrets.org, but to save you time, I'll point you to a couple links. The LA Times reports that team President William Bidwell and Vice President Michael Bidwell each gave $50,000 to Republicans this past election season. Politico adds that as fundraisers for McCain, they bundled upwards of $350,000 for the Republican presidential candidate.

Mull that over as you tip back your favorite adult beverage on Sunday evening. I think your choice is clear.

Update: More proof! Arizona's starting quarterback Kurt Warner appeared in an advertisement opposing stem cell research in 2006.