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The Nation

March 29, 2009
Christopher Hayes

A dispatch from Greg Kaufmann:

On Budgets and Europe

Thursday afternoon, I was one of the 18 viewers in the age 3 to 100 demographic watching the Senate Budget Committee's markup of Obama's budget on C-SPAN.

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March 29, 2009
John Nichols
John Nichols

President Obama went on CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday to make the case for his great big war in Afghanistan.

The good news is that Obama says, "What I will not do is to simply assume that more troops always results in an improved situation."

The bad news is that Obama is dispatching more troops to a country that has never taken well to occupation.

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John Nichols
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March 27, 2009
John Nichols
John Nichols

After ThinkProgress.org's managing editor Amanda Terkel wrote a blog entry critical of Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly, the bloviator-in-chief sent a producer, Jesse Watters, to stalk Terkel.

It was a standard O'Reilly stunt, referred to as "ambush journalism." The TV tough guy's gone after dozens of targets using this technique.

But Terkel pushed back. She wrote about the incident in an article headlined "I Was Followed, Harassed, And Ambushed By Bill O'Reilly's Producer."

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March 27, 2009
Robert Dreyfuss
Bob Dreyfuss

It could have been worse. But there's a lot of bad news.

I listened to President Obama's speech, and I spent the morning over at the White House listening to officials there talk about where the Afghan plan is going. Here are some initial thoughts.

President Obama's new strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan war isn't Quaker-inspired, but it's not neocon-inspired, either. It has a lot of moving parts, but if you're looking for hopeful signs, or for a light at the end of the tunnel, perhaps the most important aspect of the plan revealed today is that it's a work in progress. It sets nothing in stone -- meaning that President Obama can adjust the plan -- escalate or de-escalate -- in the months ahead. What he does will depend on what happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and it will depend on what happens in the United States, too, in Congress, the media, and public opinion.

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March 27, 2009
Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman

We've got a new Think Again here. It's called "Cable News Blues." My Nation column, comparing Jon Stewart with yes, Edward R. Murrow, is here, and I did a post about Obama's press conference for The Daily Beast, here. Oh and I did an interview with TPMTV about the Israel Lobby here. Oh, and if you didn't make it into the Nation column, here is the key line:

PS: Don't tell my publisher, but Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Important Ideals is out in paperback.

Josh Silver

Hi Eric,

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March 26, 2009
Betsy Reed
Betsy Reed

Now this is truly sick. "Canadacare May Have Killed Natasha" says the New York Post, trumpeting an article written by Cory Franklin, first published by the Chicago Tribune (and given splashy play by the Daily Beast). Just as we are gearing up to begin debate in this country over a much-needed public healthcare plan comes a story perfectly calculated to arouse the fears of Americans that "socialized medicine" would endanger their health. Leaving aside for a minute the baselessness of those fears--and the bad taste involved in this nakedly political exploitation of an admired (and progressive) actress's tragic death--there's one little problem with Franklin's theory. It's wrong.

Richardson, Franklin writes, "required an immediate CT scan for diagnosis" after the head injury she sustained in a skiing accident. But, he claims, the hospital in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, where she was treated, was not a "facility capable of treatment." Franklin notes that, while "it hasn't been reported whether the hospital has a CT scanner, …CT scanners are less common in Canada." And he goes on to say that people who criticize the private US system for having too many specialized services like CT scanners are ignoring that "it is better to have resources and not need them than to need resources and not have them."

So Franklin's argument is based on the assumption that the hospital in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts lacked the equipment it would have needed to diagnose Richardson, all because of the decrepit state of government-run medicine.

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The Notion
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March 26, 2009
Eric Alterman
Eric Alterman

We've got a new Think Again here. It's called "Cable News Blues." My Nation column, comparing Jon Stewart with yes, Edward R. Murrow, is here, and I did a post about Obama's press conference for The Daily Beast, here. Oh and I did an interview with TPMTV about the Israel Lobby here. Oh, and if you didn't make it into the Nation column, here is the key line:

PS: Don't tell my publisher, but Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Important Ideals is out in paperback. 

The Beast piece comes up in this interview with CNN's Jack Cafferty here:

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March 26, 2009
Katrina vanden Heuvel

With reports that the Obama Administration will unveil its Afghanistan strategy as early as Friday -- and one senior Senate staffer telling me that Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, will hold a Senators-only briefing on Afghanistan/Pakistan today -- it was good timing that yesterday the Congressional Progressive Caucus kicked-off its six-part forum, Afghanistan: A Road Map for Progress.

In his opening remarks, Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva described the significance of this forum: "We felt that it's very important for staff, community organizations, and Members of Congress to begin to have this vital discussion on Afghanistan and Western Pakistan and the policy direction in which we're moving… One of the best ways [to do this] is to listen and allow ourselves to get information from very learned individuals…."

One of the "learned individuals" on yesterday's panel -- which focused on a "Historic Perspective on Afghanistan, its People and their Cultures" -- was Dr. William Polk, a former history professor and State Department Middle East expert who served in the Kennedy Administration. Polk traced his personal involvement with Afghanistan back to 1962 when he took a 2000-mile jeep trip around the country. He was on assignment to speak with the provincial governors and tribal chiefs about a series of programs under the Eisenhower Administration that had nearly all resulted in "disastrous failure." Polk said during the trip he "fell in love with" the country.

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March 26, 2009
Robert Dreyfuss
Bob Dreyfuss

Israel's (outgoing) prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has pretty much confirmed the news -- first reported by CBS yesterday -- that Israel bombed a convoy of arms dealers in Sudan in January to destroy a reported shipment of weapons from Iran to Hamas."Israel hits every place it can in order to stop terror, near and far," said Olmert.

An analysis from Amos Harel in Haaretz says that Israel's concern was that Iran might be sending advanced missiles to Hamas:

A reasonable assumption would be that Iran sought to provide Hamas with Fajr missiles, whose deployment in Gaza would constitute what the IDF terms as "a weapon that shifts the balance." During the Gaza lull, Hamas smuggled Katyusha rockets with an increased range from 20 kilometers to 40 kilometers. If it successfully managed to obtain Fajrs, Hamas could have placed Tel Aviv within missile range, which is exactly the coup it has sought in an effort to create the impression of a victory over Israel.

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