LIGHTNING ROUND: IT'S LIMBAUGH'S PARTY NOW.

  • The House will vote tonight on the $825 billion economic stimulus package whose vote for floor consideration already attracted significant "blue dog" defections. Meanwhile President Obama is continuing his outreach efforts, hosting a reception at the White House for Congressional leaders of both parties and courting CEOs to support the bill. Mike Castle (R-Del) bets that the bill will receive zero Republican support while Marc Ambinder makes the political case (not compelling, in my view) for Republicans to support the bill.
  • After making the sensible point that blowhards like Rush Limbaugh have more freedom to be, shall we say, iconoclastic than elected officials, Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) pathetically retracted his statement and went on to praise the "conservative conscience" that right-wing radio represents. "Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans -- myself included -- turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination."
  • In an encouraging piece of front-page reporting, The Washington Post actually takes a look at progressive opposition to the stimulus -- you know, arguing that it doesn't do enough -- and breaks with recent reporting that seems to focus solely on the concerns of conservative Republicans (not enough tax cuts!). Then there's Eamon Javers and Jim VandeHei's libertarian mash note in today's Politico that details the supposedly influential "Do-Nothing Crowd" who are opposed to the stimulus plan in its entirety. Who's in this exclusive group? Javers and VandeHei quote a couple libertarian sources (Cato, Americans for Limited Government) but mostly rely on an investment consultant named Andrew Schiff who provides this nice piece of social Darwinism: "Our standard of living needs to come down to the point where it can be supported by organic output. It’s brutal, but it’s called capitalism, and it works. The alternative is called socialism, and it doesn’t work." Matt Cooper has more on Schiff's politics here.
  • The good: the ACLU presses the Obama administration to release Bush legal memos making the case for torture, surveillance, and indefinite detention. The bad: Eric Holder reportedly promised Kit Bond (R-MO) he wouldn't seek prosecutions for Bush administration officials who authorized torture in exchange for a timely confirmation as AG. (For the record, the White House denies Holder made this deal so someone's lying.)
  • Gallup has put up the first in a four-part series on the "State of the States," looking at party affiliation and the results don't jibe too well with the conventional wisdom of a "center-right" nation. Only five states could be considered Republican or Republican-leaning in Gallup's analysis, with 35 going to Democrats and the remaining ten considered "competitive." Those five states make up 2 percent of the nation's population.
  • The Senate Intelligence Committee voted to approve Dennis Blair for national intelligence director, clearing the way for a full Senate vote.
  • Fearing the masses might revolt if they couldn't keep up with this season's American Idol, Barack Obama successfully lobbied the Senate to delay the digital television transition from February 17 to June 12. Unfortunately, the House didn't feel as magnanimous and shot down the proposal.
  • Perhaps instead of Obama trying to reach out to Republicans through personal and intellectual appeals he should challenge them all to a series of two-on-two, winner-take-all basketball challenges. Only then will we know who truly has game.

--Mori Dinauer

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