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Posted at 06:53 PM ET, 05/16/2011

Happy Hour Roundup

* The Medicare wars kick off again with a vengeance as Paul Ryan digs in and delivers a speech aggressively defending his plan to end Medicare as we know it.

* And Ryan claims that Dems calling for high end tax hikes along with spending cuts are trafficking in “class envy.”

* Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi’s office offers some new messaging on Medicare for Dems:

Democrats have a plan to ensure older Americans have access to affordable, high quality care — it’s called Medicare and it currently serves more than 46 million Americans.

Not bad.

* But Pelosi says Dems are open to reforming Medicare, though nothing that would fundamentally change the program.

* The DCCC cranks up more attacks on House GOPers over Medicare, including a new Web site publishing their town hall schedules, in hopes of producing more scenes of Republicans getting an earful from angry constituents.

* Jonathan Bernstein has been doing a nice job tracking the missing “replace” part of the GOP's vow to “repeal and replace.”

* Good line from Digby, who notes that one of the main dangers Obama faces in positioning himself as a post-partisan compromiser is that Republicans will make “damn sure that nobody labors under the illusion that Obama has brokered a truce in the partisan wars.”

* Turns out Ronald Reagan warned that not raising the debt ceiling would be catastrophic.

* Steve Benen coins WWRD (What Would Reagan Do), in hopes that in this case it will matter to conservatives.

* But it won't, because only the mythical Reagan ever really existed and he never, ever said any such thing.

* Headline of the day, from Salon: “Trump officially ends fake presidential campaign.”

* Booman, on Trump’s aborted candidacy:

Only complete morons believed for a micro-second that Donald Trump was actually going to run for president. But he did do the president a giant favor by grabbing all the loose ends of dead-ender Birtherism, tying them all up into one giant ball of Stupid, and thereby letting the president set the whole thing on fire.

* Marcy Wheeler, who follows this stuff more closely than just about anyone, explains the significance of my story on Leon Panetta’s letter downplaying any role for torture in the killing of Bin Laden.

* Funny timing: Dave Weigel notes that Panetta’s letter hit just as Michael Mukasey, John Yoo and Marc Thiessen were speaking on a panel about torture’s alleged importance in getting Bin Laden.

* As Andrew Sullivan keeps tirelessly reminding us, beyond whether torture produces occasional info, there’s a strong moral case that torture “destroys human freedom, debases the torturers, spreads lies like cancer through any fair judicial system and recruits Jihadists more powerfully than any other factor interrogators have come across.”

* As Joan McCarter notes, it’s startling how little media attention has been paid to the fact that torture produced bad information.

* And the shocker of the day: Many Blue Dog Dems who were ousted last year are already back in D.C. — as lobbyists.

What else is happening?

UPDATE: The link to the Salon story above is fixed, apologies.

By  |  06:53 PM ET, 05/16/2011

 
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