LIGHTNING ROUND: VAST LEFT-WING CONSPIRACY EDITION.

  • It boggles the mind that Sen. Judd Gregg would refer to the budget reconciliation process as a form of mob rule when all it is is a simple majority-rule vote. Worse, The Washington Post article that contains the Gregg quote seems to parrot the notion that the 60-votes needed to invoke cloture is actually the norm in the Senate, whereas in reality the current filibuster threshold is only about 30 years old and how the filibuster itself is used has changed considerably over the years. At any rate, Gregg is a rank hypocrite and if the Republican opposition (and Evan Bayh's cowardly blue dog caucus) is going to continue implying that Barack Obama as some sort of dictator, then the administration shouldn't bother trying to work with these obstructionists and simply muster 51 votes for health care and cap-and-trade.
  • Even as the Senate moves on the AIG bonus scandal, the Obama administration is trying to get ahead of the story and take responsibility for it. This is arguably necessary, lest they lose credibility with the public, and fairly bold: statements like these will hasten the perception that the economy -- whatever state its in -- now belongs to the new president.
  • As you're no doubt aware, The American Prospect is the epicenter of a powerful, unaccountable, and vast left-wing conspiracy led by our own Ezra Klein, whom The New York Times' latest hire has referred to as no less influential a figure than William F. Buckley. With a zeal whose intensity could only be matched by the frantic hunt for a Bill Ayers-Barack Obama connection in the closing days of the presidential campaign, The Corner's Mark Hemingway has issued a couple of posts that take a concerned look at the frightening lack of transparency that comes with a private listserv, and Mickey Kaus chimes in with similar concerns that seem to be less about principle than they are whining about a lack of journalistic access. Mike Tomasky takes the uninitiated on a brief tour deep inside the hidden lair, where such diabolical discussions as "eating in or eating out" occur.
  • Policy and politics roundup: administration policy for engaging with Iran begins to take shape; Obama signs onto a U.N. declaration that decriminalizes homosexuality (previously rejected by George Bush); and the Pentagon ends the practice of forced-tour extensions, offering instead bonuses for those who remain after their enlistment expires.
  • It seems Arlen Specter is open to pulling a Joe Lieberman in Pennsylvania, telling The Hill that he's open to running as an independent next year. Since Specter can't switch after (presumably) losing in a GOP primary to Pat Toomey, a three-way race could emerge between Specter, Toomey and whomever the Democrats throw in the ring. Sounds like fun.
  • Remainders: Bradford Plumer asks whether Obama could be doing a better job selling cap-and-trade; anti-EFCA forces pull out the old "workers would make more money if they weren't so lazy" card; Iowa professors agree that Iowans are demographically representative of the United States at large; and CNN/Opinion Research finds a 55 percent majority believe Obama is trying to do too much at once (methodology unknown).

--Mori Dinauer

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