Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Colbert SuperPAC -Updated

You have to love this guy. Colbert is asking the FEC for an exemption so he can form a SuperPAC and take undisclosed donations while utilizing his media forum to run political ads. Especially love his pitch:
Colbert's campaign to create a political action committee is not without some comic jabs. His political action committee slogan is "Making a better tomorrow, tomorrow."

Colbert's comic flair surfaced in a recent letter to the Federal Election Commission.

"Colbert Super PAC will also pay usual and normal administrative expenses, including but not limited to luxury hotel stays, private jet travel and PAC mementos from Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus," Colbert's lawyers wrote to the commissioners.

"This is not just about the cash," the comedian said during Wednesday night's episode of "The Colbert Report.""I will also accept credit cards."
Needless to say, The Village is not amused.

Update: Mother of God. The FEC gave him the green light. I suppose this will encourage all sorts of mayhem but then again, it's not like Fox "News" hasn't been an unoffical GOP SuperPAC for all these years anyway. I'd like to think this will ultimately shed some light on how much influence the big money boys already have on the media.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Obama gives GOPers some tough love

For all those who have impatiently waiting, and sometimes whining, Obama takes to the bully pulpit at a presser today and thrashes the GOPers. Particularly liked this part:
On the economy, Mr. Obama sounded dire warnings about the consequences of delaying a resolution on the debt negotiations, and expressed exasperation with Republicans in Congress, saying they needed to “do their job” instead of blaming him for a lack of leadership.

In a remarkable display of frustration, Mr. Obama said he was “amused” by Republican comments that he had not offered a clear direction in the effort to cut the budget and increase the nation’s debt ceiling.

“They are in one week, they are out one week,” the president said, in a week that the House is out of session. “You need to be here. I’ve been here. I’ve been doing Afghanistan and Bin Laden and the Greek crisis. You stay here. Let’s get it done. All right, I think you know my feelings about that.”
I missed the live version myself, but hearing "corporate jet owners" was the phrase of the day. Thinking it was pretty damn effective since the GOPers were reduced to stammering out their same tired old bromides. But as our Prez said:
Here in Washington, a lot of people say a lot of things to satisfy their base or to get on a cable news," he said, "Hopefully, leaders at a certain point rise to the occasion and they do the right thing for the American people."
A truly audacious hope.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Voters Remorse Grows

Well The Villagers may still adore him but New Jersey appears to have fallen out of love with its blowhard Governor.
More than half of New Jersey residents say they wouldn’t back Governor Chris Christie for a second term, disapproving of his choices on a range of policy and personal issues, from killing a commuter tunnel to using a state-police helicopter to attend his son’s baseball game.

Teachers, whose union Christie has targeted on tenure, pay and benefits, received a far higher favorable rating, 76 percent, than the first-term Republican. His favorable rating was 43 percent, according to a Bloomberg New Jersey poll conducted June 20-23.
Also, too, "The governor was viewed unfavorably by 53 percent of those polled."

You all know I just loathe polls, but the breakdowns on the various issues are worth reading. It appears now that reality has caught up with the campaign rhetoric, those "tough choices" don't look so attractive anymore.

Meanwhile, this isn't exactly new news, her numbers have been tanking for a very long time, but Obama would beat Palin in Alaska. Of course, that assumes the Yukon's former half-term governor would actually run for the office. Still betting it against it myself. Not while America's biggest grifter can cash in so handsomely on simply pretending to be interested in actually doing the job.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Let it all die

by Capt. Fogg

“Well what I want them to know is just like, John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too,”

-Michelle Bachmann on Fox News-

John Wayne, I never really liked him; not as an actor and particularly not as something he attempted to portray off the stage: a patriot. No, the only uniform he ever wore came from the costume department at Republic Studios, the folks who got him his 2A draft status during WW II because it would have meant lost profits had he followed so many actors into the military.

But of course by the time the Vietnam war became a tragi-comic opera, he was a Hollywood soldier of long standing, fond of telling many of us we weren't real Americans because we didn't quite see the glory of the whole thing.

So leave it to Michelle Bachmann to claim she's channeling his "spirit" -- whatever that might be. Whether that consists of telling us we're not real Americans because we dare to measure the age of things or don't accept the Biblical nonsense about the "waters" above and below the Earth I don't know, but there are few things that amuse me more than the trolls, public and private, who present their limitations and disabilities and delusions as their strength. Haven't we all had people tell us ungrammatically how stupid we are and spell stupid wrong? Petty irony it is indeed, but then such little moments of irony may provide the most satisfaction one can expect in our kind of times. It costs too much to care any more.

So should we laugh at Michelle for confusing Winterset, Iowa, birthplace of John Wayne (nee Marion Morrison) with Waterloo, Iowa, birthplace of John Wayne Gacy who strangled little boys and buried them in his crawl space? The entire pandemonium of journalists, bloggers and blowhards has been going at it since yesterday morning. Go ahead and join in, but I'm beyond laughter or tears for that matter. When it comes to giving a shit, I don't. I'm all out of givadamn and I'm not shopping for more. As I said, it just costs too much these days.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

And then they're going to storm the NRSC

Not entirely surprising that publicity seeking Tea Party guys want to banish Hatch. But this split within the astroturfers is a little weird. In any event, this is clearly quote of the day:
"One thing that this movement does is, we travel where the battle is. We run to the sound of the gun," Brandon added. "This is probably Orrin Hatch's worst nightmare. This race is probably going to get nationalized." ~Adam Brandon, a national spokesman for FreedomWorks
No idea who this Brandon guy is, but they're going to storm Hatch's office and after that he and his 30 or so henchmen are going to visit the NRSC and tell them to STFU and stay out of Utah.

Meanwhile, one of the FreedomWorks money guys who sits on the FW board and ultra-conservative nutcake Mark Levin are supporting old Orrin. Which raises the question, is this just theater or a real rebellion?

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Links too good to lose

For a number of reasons, it appears my internet access will be dicey at best for a while yet so let me archive some links that are worth keeping for future reference. You may even have missed some of these.

More Democratic proposals the GOP finds objecitonable:
Democrats want to close tax loopholes that benefit oil companies, and eliminate a tax preference that gives corporate aircraft a friendlier depreciation schedule than commercial aircraft. Additionally, Van Hollen said, Democrats were proposing to phase out tax deductions and certain credits for people making more than $500,000 a year. These would be paired with a reduction in the tax burden on lower earners, by eliminating existing limitations on their deductions.
We just passed the tenth anniversary of the Bush tax cuts and shockingly the GOPers didn't throw a party to celebrate. As I said at DetNews, if they really worked, shouldn't we be at zero unemployment now with a truly booming economy?

This was vaguely amusing. GOPers don't seem to understand the concept of penny wise and pound foolish. Especially like Benen's analogy here:
Understanding this just requires a little bit of thought. If we cut spending on volcano monitoring and tsunami warnings, we save a little money on maintenance, but pay a lot of money on damage repairs after disaster strikes. If we cut spending on food safety, we save a little money on inspection, but pay a lot of money on health care costs when consumers get sick. If we cut spending for the Securities and Exchange Commission, as Republicans are desperate to do, we save a little money on enforcement, but pay a lot of money to clean up financial catastrophes.
The instant subject was Rand Paul's objections to "funding the existing Older Americans Act, including a $2 billion investment to prevent senior hunger." There's also video at the link where Bernie Sanders schools Randy on the concept.

This story keeps trying to slither into the memory hole but one lives in hope that it eventually gets legs in the legacy media. Everything you need to know about the evolving Clarence Thomas ethics scandal.

This one didn't build enough steam either. GOPers and other health reform haters were widely citing this study that initally claimed something like 30% of employers would dump health insurance if reform isn't repealed. Thanks to a handful of tenacious bloggers, The McKinsey & Company finally come clean. They were forced to admit the study was seriously flawed and completely misleading.

And this is a pretty old one, but worth revisiting from time to time. Corporations spend more on CEO compensation than they pay in taxes. A subject that's sure to come up again.

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Don't blame the Boomers

Why I love the internets. Digby collected a bunch of links I lost when the old computer died. Getting old and poor in a gilded age. Also includes an interesting Alternet project focused on re-organizing Boomers into a activist block, similar to what we had back in the day.

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New York stands up for equal marriage rights

I've been offline, so just finding this out. Blow me over with the wind off a butterfly's wings. My tweetstream had me convinced this wasn't going to happen, but hot damn. New York passes equal marriage rights:
Senate approval was the final hurdle for the same-sex marriage legislation, which was approved last week by the Assembly. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the measure at 11:55 p.m., and the law will go into effect in 30 days, meaning that same-sex couples could begin marrying in New York by late July.
This isn't an issue I follow all that closely so I didn't know this:
New York joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia as the only places in the U.S. where same-sex couples can get legally married.

It’s worth emphasizing, though, that not all of those states followed the same path. New York joins Vermont as the only states in the nation that approved marriage equality because they wanted to — the others approved measures under court order. In other words, policymakers in New York, just as in Vermont, legalized same-sex marriage because they thought it was the right thing to do, not because a judge told them they had to.
Final vote was 33 to 29, which I guess doesn't sound that big but I expected it to be closer than that. Good for the GOPers who bravely crossed the line into sanity.

I have only one quibble. I wish people would stop calling it gay marriage rights. Even same-sex, which is more accuratedly descriptive, makes it sounds like something extraordinary that must be ceded to this community when in fact, marriage is a basic human right for everyone. Thinking equal marriage rights is the best framing.

That aside -- Yeah! Congrats to everyone who worked so hard to make it happen.

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GOP drama queens

To no one's surprise the GOPers stalked out, with great drama, on the current negotiations to avoid a debt default as soon as it was their turn to cede some ground on raising revenue. Not shocking because this Lucy and the football dynamic is depressingly familiar. And naturally they'll keep using it for as long as it works.

They can't be shamed by editorials calling out their unserious, juvenile tactics. They just spin that to their gullible base as "wrongful" attacks by the "liberal media." Then they rinse and repeat their false talking points:
In a statement, Mr. McConnell said, “The president needs to decide between his goal of massive tax hikes and a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. But he can’t have both.”

“What Republicans want is simple: We want to cut spending now, we want to cap runaway spending in the future and we want to save our entitlements and our country from bankruptcy. We want to finally get our economy growing again. Sadly, the Democrats’ response has been a mystifying call for more stimulus spending and huge tax hikes on American job creators. That’s not serious, and it is my hope that the president will take those off the table on Monday so that we can have a serious discussion about our country’s economic future.”
Gah. These extortionists wouldn't recognize a serious discussion if it bit them on the ass. The only thing they're serious about is crashing the economy again and pinning the blame on the Democrats so they have a better chance at winning in 2012.

Sadly, so far the Democrats and the White House have let them get away with it. But on the brighter side, there are now small signs the Democrats are willing to push back and confront them on it, falling just short of calling it sabotage. And while I'm not in the camp that thinks Obama can fix everything from his bully pulpit, I have to believe it would be really helpful if our President would join in on this narrative. It's not like his fellow Dems are saying anthing that isn't absolutely true.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

The bond vigilante is a Keynesian

I lost a lot of saved links I was planning to blog this weekend, but I went out of my way to find this one again. Very important bond trader Bill Gross of PIMCO sounds rather shrill. Hell, he sounds as shrill as Krugman, whom he name checks in this very long letter to his investors.

Read it in full. Save it in your archives. It will no doubt come in handy in future debates with austerity freaks and other "fiscal conservatives."
A few selected quotes:
Solutions from policymakers on the right or left, however, seem focused almost exclusively on rectifying or reducing our budget deficit as a panacea. While Democrats favor tax increases and mild adjustments to entitlements, Republicans pound the table for trillions of dollars of spending cuts and an axing of Obamacare. Both, however, somewhat mystifyingly, believe that balancing the budget will magically produce 20 million jobs over the next 10 years. President Obama’s long-term budget makes just such a claim and Republican alternatives go many steps further. Former Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota might be the Republicans’ extreme example, but his claim of 5% real growth based on tax cuts and entitlement reductions comes out of left field or perhaps the field of dreams. The United States has not had a sustained period of 5% real growth for nearly 60 years.

Both parties, in fact, are moving to anti-Keynesian policy orientations, which deny additional stimulus and make rather awkward and unsubstantiated claims that if you balance the budget, “they will come.” It is envisioned that corporations or investors will somehow overnight be attracted to the revived competitiveness of the U.S. labor market: Politicians feel that fiscal conservatism equates to job growth. It’s difficult to believe, however, that an American-based corporation, with profits as its primary focus, can somehow be wooed back to American soil with a feeble and historically unjustified assurance that Social Security will be now secure or that medical care inflation will disinflate. Admittedly, those are long-term requirements for a stable and healthy economy, but fiscal balance alone will not likely produce 20 million jobs over the next decade. The move towards it, in fact, if implemented too quickly, could stultify economic growth

Additionally and immediately, however, government must take a leading role in job creation. Conservative or even liberal agendas that cede responsibility for job creation to the private sector over the next few years are simply dazed or perhaps crazed. ...

...In times of extremis, pushing on the private sector string is ineffective, especially within the context of a global marketplace that offers alternative investment locations. Government must temporarily assume a bigger, not a smaller, role in this economy, if only because other countries are dominating job creation with kick-start policies that eventually dominate global markets.
The always wrong McMegan wrote, “Keep that in mind when you hear people arguing about austerity. People like Bill Gross are the ones we ultimately need to convince..."

Of course, she's wrong again. He's already convinced he has the right answer. Maybe she should listen a little more closely. Gross makes a whole lot more sense than she does.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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An exemplar of Scott Walker's Wisconsin values

This is too funny. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker thought he had the perfect photo op. He was all set to hold a sweet signing ceremony for his union busting budget bill at a local manufacturing plant on Sunday. But there a small problem. Turns out nobody vetted the chief executive of the company.
DeCaster was convicted of eight felony counts of income tax evasion in the mid-1990s and was sentenced to three months behind bars. He was also fined $10,000, ordered to pay another $3,700 to cover prosecutors' expenses and given two years of supervised release. [...]

"It was something we wish we would have known on the front end," [Walker spokesman]Werwie said.
And it gets better:
Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch had been quoted earlier in the day praising the metal company, calling it an exemplar of Wisconsin values.

"Green Bay, and certainly the company that we're going to, reflects really what this budget and what Governor Walker's first term here is all about," Huebsch told Wispolitics.
Extra funny, because it turned out to be true. Needless to say, they found another manufacturer to host the photo shoot and one assumes they checked his criminal record first.

Addendum: It appears Think Progress may have broken this story but it doesn't appear they're being credited for it.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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RIP Old Dell

I knew it was coming, but hadn't expected to happen quite so suddenly. My old Dell died this morning. Wouldn't load no matter what I did to it. Obviously this will be putting a bit of a crimp in my blogging for a few days.

I'm at the library using their wifi with my old laptop, which is almost as old but hasn't been used much so shouldn't crash. Still, hoping these things don't come in twos.

I could use some advice. I can't use the laptop at home because I don't have a wifi connection set up and no open connections within range. I'm wondering if I should get a new desktop. Or maybe just a big screen laptop for at home and use the non-wifi modem that still works. Or maybe I should get a new wifi modem and try to figure out how to set that up and just use this little old laptop in the interim, until I can figure out what to do.

Can anybody tell me if it costs more to get a wifi connection from an ISP and how hard is it to set it up for a technodope like myself? That seems like the simplest and cheapest solution to me. At least for the moment.

Menwhile, I'm silently sobbing about losing the stuff on the old puter that I never backed up. It was way over loaded with junk I didn't need,and haven't looked at in years, but there were still a few photos I hadn't saved anywhere else. And there's probably some stuff in the old documents that I would have liked to have on disk. As the kids say, FML.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Obama on Afghanistan

I watched Obama's speech on Afghanistan last night. Contrary to my usual M.O., instead of posting my fresh impressions, I read a lot of reaction first and have been mulling my response over all day.

I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint my friend Steve Hynd. He was right. I'm not going to bitch about it as much as if I would have, had Bush made that speech.

That's not to say I'm not disappointed in the slow schedule for the drawdown. I was one of the 10% who fought bitterly to stop us from ever invading in the first place. I'm still firm in the belief that sending in an army to fight a ragtag band of outlaws was a bad mistake. But once Bush installed the occupation, the choices changed.

Sure, I want all our troops removed. Yesterday. But I'm not sure that's the right strategy at this point. Over the last ten years, the situation in the region has changed considerably. It's a mistake, I think, to look at Afghanistan in isolation. And it's useful to remember that this speech wasn't just for the U.S. The whole world was watching. Expect the Arab Street was watching more closely than most Americans.

Obama is clearly focused on the big picture. He has a regional strategy. He boldly confronted Pakistan. He admitted the U.S. is not omnipotent and unable to secure international security alone. He made clear it wasn't about empire. He deserves credit for changing the framing of the mission. He successfully rebranded it as fight against extremists instead of a war on all of Islam.

As for clarifying the mission in Afghanistan, again he inherited an 8 year old war with no real declared metrics. Sure he took possession when he ordered the surge, but that's what he said he was going to do. And really, what choice did he have but take the advice of the brass on the ground? There was this small economic meltdown happening at the same time.

Sure the metrics are still murky. But we have a declared end date. Whether or not it turns out to be true, it's more than we had before. We have admittedly vague, but still, publicly declared goals for being in Afghanistan and the greater region. And a genuine request for international cooperation. Including an already scheduled meeting. And an expressed acknowledgement that the war was costly and we needed to focus on spending at home. Feels like a whole lot more than we started with to me.

I'm not saying I didn't see some eerie similarities in the phrasing of this speech. I literally gagged on the "freedom at home" bit. But that's the language Presidents are required to use in addressing international events. In the end, Obama is simply not Bush. Not even close.

As a life-long anti-war activist, I hate this strategy. But I believe our President is as fully informed as is humanly possible and wholly engaged in the decision making process. How is that anything but a sea change for the better?

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America's most wanted

I honestly didn't think I would live to see this happen. The end of a legendary manhunt.
Fugitive South Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, wanted for 19 murders, was captured last night in Southern California, the result of a tip from FBI television spots that began airing this week. His capture ended a 16-year manhunt that spanned the globe.
Maybe you have to be from New England to appreciate Whitey's legend. He was so colorful a character, rainbows paled in comparison. He was always in the news before he went on the lam. Putting aside that he did some terrible things, I have to admit I'm a little sad they finally got him. It feels sort of like getting to the last page of a book you really loved and don't want to end.

Anyway, the only thing that could top this would be finally finding Jimmy Hoffa.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Speed-up crashes the recovery

This didn't get nearly enough attention yesterday. MoJo zeros in on what's driving corporate profits.
"In all the chatter about our "jobless recovery," how often does someone explain the simple feat by which this is actually accomplished? US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008, and twice as fast again in 2010: workforce down, output up, and voilá! No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent."
And why aren't corporations hiring?
...[I]ncreasingly, US workers are also falling prey to what we'll call offloading: cutting jobs and dumping the work onto the remaining staff. Consider a recent Wall Street Journal story about "superjobs," a nifty euphemism for employees doing more than one job's worth of work—more than half of all workers surveyed said their jobs had expanded, usually without a raise or bonus."
What's their incentive? As long as unemployment remains high, they can blackmail their remaining employees into doing the work of two people and get them to take benefit cuts besides. Because -- you know -- lucky to have a job. Most of the corporations don't need American consumers to make their profit margin anymore. The executive class is back to getting big salaries and hefty bonuses, so it's all good. For them.

I'm so old, I remember when owners were concerned about their workers' well being, appreciated that it was a team effort and shared the wealth. Even big companies. Those days are long gone.
Productivity has surged, but income and wages have stagnated for most Americans. If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000."
When we allowed the corporate conglomerates to become "too big to fail" they also became too big to care.

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Undocumented immigrants among us

A lot of buzz today about Pulitzer prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas' public confession that he is an undocumented immigrant. If like me, you've run of out of free views at the NYT before you ran out of month, you can watch this shorter video version:



It also appears that the NYT article is reprinted here. Vargas is for all practical purposes an American and the DREAM Act was written to cover people like him, who were brought here as children. It can't be denied he has contributed to our society and it would be a great loss if he were to be deported. A distinct possibility.

There are thousands like him who don't have the cover to make this sort of brave admission. Under Obama's watch, the US has deported around 800K undocumented immigrants. Some were no doubt criminals, but for many their only crime was entering our country without papers in order to lift themselves and their families out of crushing poverty in their home countries.

Meanwhile, in thanks to the good ole bigots that run the state, Georgia farmers are watching their crops rot in the fields because the immigrants fled after an draconian anti-immigrant law was passed. Shockingly, no legal Americans are flocking to take over the backbreaking work in the blazing sun for the low wages the farmers are willing to pay. Which won't stop the GOPers xenophobes who passed that hateful legislation from blaming Obama for the rising cost of produce. [hat tip to Chris L Hayes for the video.]

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In a nutshell

Quote of the day goes to Josh Marshall on Twitter:
Shorter GOP: Tank the economy (with huge budget cuts) or we'll crush the economy (with debt default).
Adding, of course, and they will blame it on Obama either way. Who will probably deserve some of the blame because he insists on negotiating over their hostage demands instead of calling their bluff.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stupid frat boy tricks

If the Republicans could get any more juvenile, I don't want to know how. One would wish the NRSC's latest frat boy trick is as low as they could go. Suppose it's a fool's hope with these good ole boys though.
The NRSC has created new website to win friends and raise the bar for respectful political debate ::snort:: sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face while typing that. The URL for the site is demsplanforamerica.com, and when you visit, you find… get this… a blank web page.
But that's not the really lame part. Then they promoted the website by posting a bunch of fake retweets on Twitter, impersonating President Obama and leading Democrats. Screen grabs at Angry Black Lady's link above. I would think it should be illegal to impersonate the President without some kind of disclaimer, but I suppose they'll get away with it. The media certainly didn't seem interested in reporting it. You know the drill. IOKIYAR.

Meanwhile, in completely unrelated news, you'll recall Mitt Romney's "joke" at a meet and greet with unemployed Floridians last week? Well, here's how Mitt is struggling with his unemployment:
At one table, a boy offered Romney a $1 bill that he had folded origami-style for good luck. The candidate happily accepted it, but then rifled through his wallet looking for money to give the boy in return. Romney had a $100 bill, but evidently did not want to give that away. An aide handed him a $1 bill, but Romney said that wasn’t enough.

Then, deep inside his leather billfold, Romney found a $5 bill. “We’ll give you an Abraham Lincoln back,” he said, handing it to the boy.
That's our Mittens. Man of the people. I mean, finding an Honest Abe among the Ben Franklins is such a common problem these days.

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License to lie

The corporate owned jurists on SCOTUS are on a roll. In the world according to the cons on the Roberts court, corporations are people when it comes to their rights to scam the public but the corporate person can't be held culpable for its fraud.

The case, Janus Capital Group, Inc. v. First Derivative Traders, received little notice in the onslaught of punditry over the Walmart win against workers rights, but it effectively innoculated the investment firms from any accountability for lying to their investors. Even worse, this decision just gave "CDO arrangers a huge get-out-of-lawsuits-free card."

So this, my impatient progressive friends, is the best single reason to give Obama another term. For all the disappoinments, he did make two good picks for the court. With the slight possibility that Clarence Thomas' growing ethics scandal might force him to resign, and the very real possibility that Ginsburg might have to retire, we could change the balance on SCOTUS. Over the long run, that could serve our common good the best.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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From the mouths of babes

I been waiting for this video to show up in my social media timelines. I love how kids react to POTUS. It brings to mind that meme that was going around in 08 about his magical "lightbringer" quality.



[Via E on Twitter.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Choose your battles wisely

Don't often visit the Great Orange Satan, but this is certainly worth a read in full. Chris Bowers explains why poutrage is useless and gets quote of the day with this line.
Progressives staying home poses no threat to those who oppose progressives.
Don't agree with every single thing he said here but the overall point that bitching on the internets isn't going to advance progressive goals is a good one.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Quash the vote

A basic rule of thumb is that if GOPers are accusing Democrats of doing something bad, in reality, it's something they're doing themselves or planning to do. So it is with so called voter fraud, which for all practical purposes is non-existent. Meanwhile, it's the GOP's longtime campaign of voter suppression that's the real defrauding of our electoral system.

Republican controlled state governments are going into overdrive to pass laws transparently designed to suppress the ability of traditional Democratic voters to cast ballots. As EJ Dionne points out at the linked op-ed:
These statutes are not neutral. Their greatest impact will be to reduce turnout among African Americans, Latinos and the young. It is no accident that these groups were key to Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 — or that the laws in question are being enacted in states where Republicans control state governments.
The laws run the gamut from abolishing early voting to making it extraordinarily difficult to register new voters. And of course, the ever popular Voter ID scam. My personal favorite is the provision in Texas that "allows concealed handgun licenses as identification but not student IDs." I'm sure that has nothing to do with the fact, "Nationwide exit polls show that John McCain carried households in which someone owned a gun by 25 percentage points but lost voters in households without a gun by 32 points."

An earlier NYT editorial adds additional context on the ID requirement.
A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that 11 percent of citizens, 21 million people, do not have a current photo ID. That fraction increases to 15 percent of low-income voting-age citizens, 18 percent of young eligible voters and 25 percent of black eligible voters. Those demographic groups tend to vote Democratic, and Republicans are imposing requirements that they know many will be unable to meet.
Kansas has also come up with a novel approach to suppress voter registration drives. Not only are voters "required to show a photo ID at the polls. Before they can register, Kansans will have to produce a proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate." This is being sold as a way to prevent the grave threat of voter fraud. To put it into context:
Kansas has had only one prosecution for voter fraud in the last six years. But because of that vast threat to Kansas democracy, an estimated 620,000 Kansas residents who lack a government ID now stand to lose their right to vote.
Of course of this speaks to GOPers recognition that they can't win an election in a fair fight. But that's small comfort while they're successfully disenfranchising millions of voters across the country. [Graphic via Zaetsch.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not funny

Everybody is talking about Reggie Brown, an Obama impersonator who appeared at the GOP's leadership convention in Louisiana yesterday. The media spin seems to be that he was hauled off the stage by the organizers because of the racist jokes he was making about Obama but if you watch the video, it wasn't until he started mocking the GOP candidates that he got the hook.

In any event, he's a terrible comedian. His jokes were mean spirited and not at all funny. Well, unless you hate Obama I guess. The audience did roar with appreciation when the target was our President. But you do have to give him some credit. His impersonation of Obama was actually very good. Especially the voice inflections.

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Father's Day

By Capt. Fogg

Things change, everyone gets older. You start to wonder how many more father's days will pass while you still have a father to spend it with. It's good then, to see how some things never change; things like the bitter, miserable, vicious lies that spew from the GOP. Take the current Elmer Fudd of the Party, John McCain, the tortured war hero who didn't have the courage to stand up to the party's support of torture. Take John, who is making this Father's Day so much happier by blaming the Arizona wildfires on illegal immigrants rather than on the drought.

But he has substantial evidence, which he will, no doubt, reveal eventually, or not reveal or simply forget about after the wildfire of hate has got beyond control. Remember when Mexicans were bringing leprosy across the border? Many will long remember Lou Dobbs' accusations but not the lack of evidence and perhaps the wildfire libel will stick long after McCain's slide into dementia becomes all too obvious.

Well thanks John, for all you do and for reminding us of Republican fathers long gone like Joe McCarthy with their vaporous claims of "evidence" and I'm sure your legacy will stink long after you're gone.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

You say you want an evolution -Updated

These's a lesson for actvists of all causes here. Attitudes evolve over time and society eventually reflects those changes. This was all over the internets but it's so rare to hear a Republican stand up like this, it's worth archiving and deserves quote of the week:
“You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, f—- it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing.” ~ Sen. Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga)
He's talking about a bill to authorize same-sex marriage that went on to pass by quite a hefty margin in the New York State Senate. Sen. McDonald bravely changed his vote from no to yes.

I'd also remind impatient progressives that it was only as far back as 2004 when Bush successfully managed to squeak out a second term in large part because the GOPers were able to use fear of gay marriage as a wedge issue.

Update: I swear I read somewhere that this bill already passed but now I'm seeing lots of reports that it's still in the negotiation phase. Last I heard, GOPers were trying to keep it off the floor altogether. But still -- progress.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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No, Vitter should not resign

I understand the irritation with the double standard and the hypocrisy, but Steve Weinstein is right. This outcry on the left for the resignations of GOPers who have been in sex scandals is not helping. As Steve says:
But there is a reason some wise person named Mahatma once said: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Blind serves the GOP as they goose step about demolishing Planned Parenthood and unions, plundering jobs and any hopes for the survivability of an American middle class. The more they can saturate the airwaves with noise about penises and diapers, the easier it is for them to murder everything liberals hold dear.
And beyond the distraction factor, the remaining question is, are liberals really willing to act as proxy theocrats? Are they really willing to condemn non-harmful sexual conduct between consenting adults because it's a political opponent commiting the act? Not seeing how that's so different from what Bretibart and the fundies are doing.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Psychic

Somewhere on the internets, perhaps as far back as 2009, I predicted Bachmann was prepping for a 2012 run. No one believed me. In fact, I was mocked. But look at her now. Minnesota's favorite manic regressive is building on the crazy narrative she started building back in the census days. And remember when she accused certain unnamed members of the Congress of being anti-American?

She's more dangerous than Palin. She's just as nuts, probably crazier, but she's a long range thinker and unlike Quitzilla, I think she really wants the job. It appears she cares more about the power than the money. [graphic via whoistim]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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No. Not Acceptable Mr. President

Kind of disgruntled today. Sleep patterns all screwed up. Sick of the stupid in the news cycle. Irritated by petulant progressives who demand instant gratification. And now Ezra tells me the White House is backing odious Medicaid cuts.

Dear President Obama. This is not acceptable. The unemployment crisis has made Medicaid coverage critical for millions of poor children and elderly Americans. You can't cut any further without hurting our most vulnerable citizens. I don't want to hear any talk about any more cuts to social programs until raising taxes on the wealthy is slammed firmly onto to the table and defense cuts become a much bigger part of the conversation.

The GOPers are going to do all they can to crash the economy no matter what concessions are made. Now is the time to stand firm for policy rooted in human decency that serves the common good. Nothing less will do.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Conservative Values

This editorial Mike Finnigan posted on FB is the best read of the day. This graf in particular sums up what I see in the comments from my conservative "fan" club every time I post at the Detroit News.
Scarcely a generation ago, you wouldn’t have found many conservatives who would have sneered at compassion or tolerance or fundamental fairness, even if they disagreed with liberals on how these concepts might operate in the real world. Today, open contempt for these values is conservative boilerplate for Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, and even for the Republican Party itself, whose idea of cutting government is always cutting programs that help the weakest and least fortunate Americans and whose idea of compassion is caring about the tax burden of the wealthiest Americans. Beyond politics, these attitudes threaten to make this the first generation that promulgates an individualism untempered by common decency.
I'm not sure generation is the right word. The absence of even the tiniest shred of empathy percolates through all age groups in my world. As does the disdain for any fact-based evidence that would threaten the validity of their prejudices. Doesn't leave much hope for an honest debate ever again. But what really galls, is the duplicitous gasbags who are getting rich off of it.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Media Fail: No context

Despite the ocassional good analytical piece, I've been more and more disappointed in The Hill lately. Case in point, this weak reporting on Boehner's problems with his caucus. The basic theme is Boehner's woes in reconciling competing factions but these two bits stood out as a prime example of everything that's wrong with "journalism" today.
Boehner communications director Kevin Smith said the House Republican Conference has worked well together over the past six months.

“Working together, our team has made real progress in passing our agenda focused on creating jobs, cutting spending, repealing ObamaCare and expanding American energy production,” Smith said. “We’re going to continue working with our members to build on the progress we’ve made.”
Not one word of context questioning whether this is a true statement. Not even so much as a "she said" reply from the Dems. I mean, what progress? Did the GOPers create a single job since they took the House? No, they didn't. Every single thing they passed destroys jobs. Did they actually repeal health care reform? No. They wasted time on meaningless bills saying they wanted to repeal it. And how exactly have they expanded energy production? Did "drill baby, drill" slogans magically fill up the gas pumps? I suppose they could legimately say they cut spending, but a list of their inhumane cuts to the programs that serve neediest Americans would have seemed germane. So would a mention that those spending cuts were all negated by their revenue robbing, deficit inflating tax cuts.

And this bit really rankled.
For example, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has been pushing his plan to allow companies to bring foreign-based income back into the United States at a reduced tax rate. [...]

On Wednesday, Cantor’s office issued a press release titled, “Repatriation Would Create Jobs.”
To be fair, The Hill did at least mention the White House is against the proposal, but major fail in neglecting to mention this is the exact same trick Bush played during the last corporate tax amnesty that was deceitfully billed as a job creator. As you may recall, immediately upon repatriating their profits that time, there were mass layoffs in their US companies and they used the extra money mostly on buybacks of their own stock to further inflate their profits.

Just more proof that media consolidation is destroying our democracy by perverting the information chain that is supposed to inform the electorate. The Hill is a relatively small player inside the Beltway, but a look at their corporate structure reveals The Hill is owned by Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc. The corporate connections of its CEO James Finkelstein are far ranging. In 2009, they bought out 42 Nielsen entertainment titles including The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Backstage, Adweek, Brandweek, Mediaweek and Editor & Publisher. I'm sure you'll recall what they did to E&P. Once it was a reliable source of news. No more.

We are well and truly screwed.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

3000 channels and nothing worth watching

Building a bit on my earlier post, cable companies are suddenly worried about household poverty. They've apparently realized there's a lot of newly poor people out there who have been priced out of their product. And while they're a bit worried about competition from Netflix and other alternative entertainment providers, their attitude is a bit dismissive, since Netflix doesn't provide any appreciable original content.

Well, they certainly should be concerned about poverty but they ignore those who have dropped out because the original content they're offering is increasingly pure crap. I want real news, not infotainment. To the extent that I watch TV shows, I want well written programs, with real actors, not all these "reality" shows. I'm not the only one I know who stopped subscribing because I was no longer getting it.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Why I cancelled my cable

When I was young, I went for years at time without even owning a teevee. When I finally bought one, I subscribed to cable mainly to get the weather station and CNN. Back in those days, the weather station did continuous weather and CNN actually reported real news. When I moved about two and half years ago, I didn't bother to subscribe to cable.

Can't say I've really missed it. There's nothing of value on it anymore. Weather station barely shows the weather maps anymore and cable news - well -- last week's stats on "news" coverage says it all. GOPers are actively sabotaging our future by courting economic disaster solely for political gain, they're courted on the bobblehead shows where they're allowed to spew an endless stream of outright lies and while our country is rushing to hell in a hand basket, the number one story of last week was Anthony Weiner's dick. Furthermore, cable "news" historically devotes fully one third of its air time to Congressional sex scandals. I assume that doesn't include Hollywood scandals and stupid soundbyte frenzies over meaningless trivia. There's actually a story on the front page of MSN home page today asking whether Michelle Obama got a hair cut.

Network news is marginally better. I can get the nets for free with rabbit ears and a converter on my now ancient teevee. So why should I pay for the crap the cables are selling? I refuse to financially support the media's new business model. It's a disgraceful dereliction of their duty as journalists and it's destroying civil society. If everyone cancelled their subscriptions, maybe they would get the message and start doing their job again. [Graphic via Crunchgear.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Silver Lining

This could be good news. Michele Bachmann won't run for re-election to Congress as long as she's running for the presidential nomination. Can't think of more efficient way to get her out of government.

Of course, as someone on Twitter pointed out, she has until early June 2012 to drop out of the presidential race and still file for her old seat. A good reason to help her win the nomination. Maybe I'll start saying nice things about her. Oh wait. That won't work because the cons won't support her if I do. So maybe I should amp up the criticism... [Photo via Alan Colmes.]

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The GOP Freak Out

I haven't had cable in over two years so I didn't see the GOP debate last night, but I "watched" it for a while on Twitter. I made it to the Leno or Conan question and turned off the computer in disgust. I am so tired of our dysfunctional media. The GOPers are allowed to go on TV and lie their faces off and the moderators don't challenge them. It's not like they should need factcheckers at their elbow for "misstatements" that have been debunked so long ago they could be taught in Ancient History classes.

And even if they can't react immediately, the day after coverage is all horserace bullshit. Forget about reporting the policy implications of their remarks. It's not about what they said. It's about how they said it. Their stage presence. Who wins the news cycle. The political implications on their standing in the tiresome polls.

If we had a functioning media that remembered how to do its job, they would have asked these important questions and wouldn't let the candidates weasel out of answering either. And no, John King trying to bully TPaw into insulting Mittens to his face doesn't count. King was just looking for an easy soundbyte.

The media needs to leave the horserace analysis to the experts like Andy Borowitz who tweets the quote of the day:
The consensus is that the big winners of Monday's GOP debate were the people who didn't watch. #CNNdebate
Amen to that. Watching paint dry would have been a more productive use of the time.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Living in the Banksters world

And by Banksters, I mean the owner/investor class. If you're still wondering why there's no political will to deal with the unemployment crisis, the explanation is simple enough. Two words. Corporate profits:

Profits at American companies are poised to be one of the few bright spots in the U.S., helping to steady the faltering recovery.

Earnings will climb an average 10 percent a year through 2013, more than three times quicker than the economy, after what has already been the fastest rebound since the late 1940s, JPMorgan Chase & Co. projects.
And why don't the corporations care that the consumers in our consumer economy don't have any money if they don't create jobs? Pretty much the same answer. They're making mega-profits in foreign markets and low wages at home mean -- more profits.

“Employment growth will gradually get better, but the increase in wages for each worker will remain weak,” Mellman said. Unemployment exceeding 9 percent and a pool of almost 14 million Americans without a job give workers little leeway to ask for higher pay. That means the Fed will stick to its “low- for-long” policy on interest rates for some time, he said.

“With increasing profits and a lower jobless rate, at some point wages start to go up as workers get more bargaining power,” Mellman said. “But we’re probably a few years away from that.”
On a related note, this is part of the Banksters' grand plan to restore a feudal society.
The aim a century ago was to mobilize the Industrial Revolution’s soaring productivity and technology to raise living standards and use progressive taxation, public regulation, central banking and financial reform to distribute wealth fairly and make societies more equal. Today’s financial aim is the opposite: to concentrate wealth at the top of the economic pyramid and lower labor’s returns. High finance loves low wages.
Read the whole wonky piece at the link for all the gory details. Our system is so broken. These guys literally want to take over the world and leave the majority of us in complete serfitude. And our political class will sell their souls to their cause for a few paltry million in campaign donations. We are so screwed.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Saving Margaret Thatcher

You know I try to avoid paying any attention to the Yukon's Greatest Grifter, but Dems could take a lesson from Lady Thatcher's handlers. They clearly have bigger balls than all of Congress put together, and that includes the hapless Weiner.

You'll recall a few days ago Thatcher's people responded to Quitzilla's feelers about a meeting with this: "Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling for Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts."

In the face of the predictable, furious and frenzied outraged response from the Creepy Con Keyboard Commandos, the Thatcher team's reply was pitch perfect:
The ally who criticised Palin said the Thatcher circle would not change their minds despite the backlash. "Margaret will not be meeting Sarah Palin. If necessary we will make sure that Margaret has an off day when Palin is in London."
Dems, please take note. This is how you deal with crazy people. [via]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Amusing and/or soothing

Tom called it mesmerizing but I think hypnotizing might be a better description for this video. When I started I said, "Meh, 33 minutes long? I won't last 33 seconds." Five minutes later, I said, "I have to turn this off. It's messing with my head. Feels like it's planting subliminal messages in my brain." But I think it's very cool so I expect I'll watch all of it eventually. In five minute spurts.



If you're in the mood for more dizzifying stuff, Color-Changing Dots Earn Best Illusion of the Year Award.

If you prefer some stills, via Hudsonette, I liked a lot of these minimalist photographs. And Hudsonette's personal view of Manhattan is gorgeous.

Thinking I may have posted this a long time ago, but still love it on review. Grains of sand under a microscope.

And if you're in the mood for music, don't forget The National Jukebox from the Library of Congress.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Junk Shot

Really sick of hearing about weiners, but shamelessly stealing this meme. Atrios' junk shot was very clever. But my junk shot is less depressing.


[Graphic via Chinese junk project.]
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Scott Walker brews trouble for beer crafters

Conservative hero Scott Walker redefines small government.
Tucked into Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) much-discussed budget was a little-noticed provision to overhaul the state’s regulation of the beer industry. In a state long associated with beer, the provision will make it much more difficult for the Wisconsin’s burgeoning craft breweries to operate and expand their business by barring them from selling directly to restaurants and liquor stores, and preventing them from selling their own product onsite.

The new provision treats craft brewers — the 60 of whom make up just 5 percent of the beer market in Wisconsin — like corporate mega-brewers, forcing them to use a wholesale distributor to market their product. ...
A move made to protect his corporate donor MillerCoors from the slight competition offered by the small craft brewers. Said provision having been snuck into the budget with no announcement, debate or input from the small brewers themselves. But of course, the claim is Walker's Republican minions in the Statehouse were "protecting" the little brewpubs from the other big distributor Anheuser-Busch.

Wondering how my conservative small government loving "fans" are going to justify this one. [Photo via Two Beer Dudes.]

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Incentive to outsource

If you needed any more proof that tax incentives to big business don't and will never solve the unemployment crisis, today the NYT shows us how current tax policy is a disincentive for hiring. In fact, it doesn't even encourage domestic spending on capital goods.
Two years into the recovery, hiring is still painfully slow. The economy is producing as much as it was before the downturn, but with seven million fewer jobs. Since the recovery began, businesses’ spending on employees has grown 2 percent as equipment and software spending has swelled 26 percent, according to the Commerce Department. A capital rebound that sharp and a labor rebound that slow have been recorded only once before — after the 1982 recession.[...]

To add insult to injury, much of the equipment used to replace American workers is made by workers abroad, meaning that capital spending is going overseas. Of the four pieces of equipment Vista bought last year, one was made domestically. The others came from Israel, Switzerland and Germany. ...
It's not that finding ways to automate routine functions is necessarily a bad thing. Or it wouldn't be if the corporations actually passed on the savings to the consumer instead of pocketing the additional profits. But what's good for big business, isn't good for America right now. The millions of "on the verge of retirement" Americans need immediate jobs to recoup their losses from the Bush era. Private sector isn't going to step up to provide them.

If the Bush era taught us anything, it's that an economy that only booms for the owners and investors is neither humane, nor sustainable. Wondering when the White House is going to learn that lesson?

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Newt's troops scoot

Of course, by now you know Newt's campaign imploded yesterday with a mass exodus of his senior staff. I'm not quite feeling the prevailing schadenfreude since I never really took Newt's candidacy all that seriously in the first place but I think Mad Kane had the best response:
Limerick Ode To Newt Gingrich
By Madeleine Begun Kane

Here’s some news that inspires a laugh:
Newt Gingrich has lost his main staff.
They quit him en masse.
(Do they think him an ass?)
Newt’s so peeved, he may shoot a giraffe.

UPDATE: Was my “giraffe” reference too obscure? For those who don’t know what it refers to, just follow the link in the last line of my limerick.
Rumor has it, Newt's troops left because of Calista. Or maybe they figured out associating with a laughingstock wasn't good for career advancement. Nevertheless, Newt announced he intends to start afresh and stay in the race. I expect he will as long he can the media to chase him. Hell, it's a good way to promote his other projects.

And by the way, if you're not reading Mad Kane regularly, well, you're missing out.

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Fired up in Florida

Becomes more clear every day that the Republicans' overreach is backfiring on them. I knew the Florida progressives were organizing various protests and outreach efforts, but I missed this local Florida election outcome:
Last month, Alvin Brown's upset victory over Tea Party favorite Mike Hogan in the Jacksonville mayor's race sent shock waves through some corridors of the RPOF, as Brown became the first Democrat to lead that city in 20 years.

Brown's pollster, Dave Beattie, told the Jacksonville Times-Union that their camp was thrilled when the governor endorsed Hogan. "Barack Obama is actually viewed more positively in Duval County than Rick Scott."
The GOPers have to know all this bullying through of their far fringe right agenda is hurting them at the polls. They obviously don't care since they don't even try to be coy about it. Figuring their plan is to just get as much codified as quickly as possible and damn what the people want. That way even if they lose in the next rounds, their morass of odious new laws will hamstring incoming administrations for a good long time. And of course everything they set in place sabotages economic recovery. As the saying goes: a feature, not a bug. [graphic via]

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A horse of the same color

by Captain Fogg

Take Herman Cain -- please. Take him far away from any office that allows him to rule and ruin other people with his beliefs; allows him to substitute his beliefs for law and invent crimes at will. Cain, you see, says that homosexuality is a "choice" and is a sin and he believes it because he believes it and that makes it true.

“I believe homosexuality is a sin because I’m a Bible-believing Christian, I believe it’s a sin,”
he says and yes, that's just the sort of thing Republicans like to pass off as reason and package this fear of retributive and divine bogeymen with fear of communism and common decency like Wall Street packages bad loans.

Sin, Mr. Cain, is not crime, it's a tool used to tyrannize the mind and because the sin of one frame of reference is not the sin of another and because we are a government of laws and not of prophets and because those laws are designed to protect liberty and property and not to protect your tangled web of beliefs or promote them or ennoble them or sanctify them or elevate them to the status of law and permit them to persecute others: and because sir, you are a man like the rest of us, neither better nor worse nor more to be obeyed because of your beliefs, you should save them for Sunday and leave the rest of us the hell alone with your damned arrogant beliefs. No man is elevated by standing on Bibles.



Preacher Cain of course would be a good choice for the GOP at this point -- evidence that they're not really racists and have only set the dogs on that other black man because he's not Christian enough or as concerned with the things God hates like Medicare or the Minimum wage. A different shade of black man and one more easily used as a tool to get things back to the way they used to be when there was a place for everyone and everyone was in his place.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

It's the unemployment, stupid

Going to be dealing with a paperwork problem for a few more hours today, so here's a good read from Bob Herbert in his new home. Should be read in full, but here's one of the money quotes on the unemployment problem that's being ignored by the DC elites:
How hard is it to understand that a consumer society cannot flourish when the consumers have been crushed?
Via Doug J who has the other money quote. And like Doug, I think I didn't read Herbert often enough when he was with the NYT but I'm liking his slightly more aggressive tone at the new place. We should support Bob's new gig. He really is one of the rare mainstream voices that speak up for the working class people.

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What to do about this Weiner now

Unexpectedly took the day off for a little trip to the mountains yesterday. Crashed out early after all that fresh air and boat riding. Have to deal with car stuff this morning, so I'm outsourcing my first post of the day to Mistermix who says Weiner should stay put. I'll give you the lede and the closer but I agree with his whole post.
I’ll leave the higher moral questions of whether Anthony Weiner should resign to the fainting couch brigade, but the politics are dirt simple. Weiner should remain in his seat until the next general election. [...]

Weiner didn’t do anything that will merit more than a slap on the wrist from the House Ethics committee, and whatever national political damage he could do has already been done. He needs to stay in his seat, turn off his Blackberry, and ride out the next year so that Democrats can hold NY-9.
Do read the middle at the link for his cogent explanation of why this is would be the best outcome.

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Serious as a heart attack

Good Lord. These are truly evil people. Americans for Prosperity play a cruel trick on struggling homeowners:
The state director of the conservative group Americans for Prosperity offered no apologies today for papering homes in Detroit’s Delray district Monday with fake eviction notices.

Bearing the words “Eviction Notice” in large type, the bogus notices told homeowners their properties could be taken by the Michigan Department of Transportation to make way for the New International Trade Crossing bridge project. The NITC is the subject of debate in Lansing, and Americans for Prosperity is lobbying heavily against it.
Because the invisible hand of the free market must slap down any competition. They're really lucky no one had a heart attack after seeing the fake notice. At least one elderly homeowner came close.

These fringenut ideologues have breached the line into public menace. Seriously asking. How do we stop this evil?

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How the Koch heads hedge their bets

As their PR operation at Americans for Prosperity gears up for its newest disinfo tour designed to blame President Obama for rising gas prices, via Karoli, a stellar Lee Fang investigative piece on the Koch brothers revealing how the odious Kochs have been manipulating oil futures since the late 80s.

Karoli sums up the shorter for us:
The timeline is particularly interesting. In a nutshell, the very first oil derivatives were born in 1986, during the Reagan presidency. With the help of Phil Gramm in the Senate, and his wife Wendy Gramm, oil speculation was deregulated and the Kochs were laughing all the way to the bank. Wendy deregulated oil derivatives on the very last day of the George HW Bush administration, just before Bill Clinton took the oath of office.
Read the longer at the Think Progress link, but take your blood pressure meds first. In a sane world these sociopaths would be in jail, or at least in a locked psyche ward. Sadly, in the world we live in, not only do they get away with these criminal machinations, they're richly rewarded for them. It's enough to make me wish for the Apocalypse.

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Poster Boy for a corrupted system of government

When Evan Bayh quit the Senate, he said he wanted to do something honorable, like teaching. Well, that lofty sentiment lasted about as long as the life cycle of a fruit fly. Looks like he's going to cash in on full time whoring for the Corporatocracy instead. Bayh's newest gig:
As iWatch News' Peter Stone reports, Bayh has signed on with one of the most corporate-friendly, anti-environment shops in all of Washington, DC: the US Chamber of Commerce. According to an internal memo penned by Chamber president Tom Donohue, Bayh, along with former Bush White House chief of staff Andy Card, are now part of the Chamber's anti-regulation messaging team, doing "speeches, events, and media appearances at local venues."
Add that to list of Bayh's other jobs:
The McGuire Woods law firm, which specializes in representing "national energy companies, foreign countries, international manufacturing companies, trade associations and local and national businesses.”

Apollo Management Group, a giant public-equity firm.

Fox News, as a contributor.
So alleged Democrat Bayh, who was a useless Dem in the Senate anyway, is joining a Bush administration alumnus to fight corporate oversight and work to thwart any reform of the utterly corrupt regulatory system that would protect consumers and might prevent future economic catastrophes. As Booman points out, this is why we can't have nice things. Once they hit that revolving door, party afiliation means nothing. They all sell us out.

[Thanks to Jon Perr from the fabulous Perrspectives for kindly linking in at Mike's Blog Round Up.]

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Bonehead Weiner

Okay. It's official. Anthony Weiner is an unmitigated idiot. In the immortal words of John Hiatt, ...so easily led when my little head does the thinking.

I don't really care one way or the other about his fantasy infidelity. That's between him and his wife. But I am very pissed that he didn't come clean for so long and gave slimy Breitbart his "Dan Rather moment." This could have long blown over but now, the media frenzy will go on for days and that smarmy smear monger Andrew will have cover to perpetrate his future frauds simply by evoking Weinergate. Thanks for nothing you bonehead.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

A perfect scam

Of course, he says he's doing it "for the taxpayers" but a look at the policy reveals FL Gov. Scott's new drug testing law is a scam designed to enrich his corporate friends in the health care industry.
Under the law, which takes effect on July 1, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be required to conduct the drug tests on adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The aid recipients would be responsible for the cost of the screening, which they would recoup in their assistance if they qualify.

Those who fail the required drug testing may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of their children, and do not receive a refund for the test.
Putting aside the vicious and largely false stereotyping of welfare mothers as drug addicts, this will cause immediate harm to poor children when their parents have to fork over money for the tests that then won't be available for necessities in households that already live hand to mouth. As for saving the taxpayers money, administering the paperwork on the tests and the reimbursements will not only cost more in overhead but will bleed money from the program that could be used for benefits instead.

Much has been made of Scott's connection to walk-in clinics that do drug testing. However, he claims his company won't be doing any of the work and further states he's in the process of selling off his family interest in the corporation altogether.

Well and good, but has anyone ever heard of secret kickbacks? Nearly impossible to prove, but with millions to be made on this scam and Scott's own shady history of being convicted of fraud related to his health care business interests, it's not much of a stretch to imagine such an arrangement exists.

It certainly would explain why he's gone so drug test crazy. You'll recall he recently signed another law requiring random testing of all public employees. Another unneccessary program since one assumes any employee where public safety is an issue, already is drug tested and where safety isn't an issue it will pour tax dollars into a private industry without requiring any reasonable evidence of drug abuse. How does this expense make any sense at a time when vital public employees are already being laid off for lack of funds?

Like every single Republican policy enacted since the sweep of 2010, the long term effect will be to further weaken our already struggling economy. Which has been the GOP's publicly stated game plan from the day Obama was inaugurated.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Sunday, June 05, 2011

The real debt crisis

Hint to all the very serious pundits. It isn't the US government's debt load. The real debt crisis is the millions of jobless homeowners.
Morris A. Davis, a former Federal Reserve economist, estimates that as many as a million homeowners slipped into foreclosure because of insufficient help for the unemployed. [...]

Administration officials said their programs have had a positive impact, albeit not as large as they had hoped. But they say that the problems of unemployment and negative equity on homes are not easily solved. They also say programs to curb foreclosure are voluntary, so they are limited in how far they can push mortgage servicers and investors, who often make more from foreclosures than from offering aid.

“We are trying to be careful in designing programs that at the end of the day aren’t just about spending money but getting people back on their feet,” said James Parrott, a senior adviser at the White House’s National Economic Council.
Wrong "wise" advisers. Spending money to bail out the jobless in order to keep them in their homes is exactly what will get these homeowners "back on their feet." It's criminal these people have only spent under $2 billion out of $46 billion earmarked to prevent foreclosures.

Painfully clear to me this has nothing to do with money. It's all politics. White House is afraid of the GOP demagoguery about how unfair it would be to people who can afford to pay their mortgages to help those "lazy unemployed" people keep their homes. Never mind the long term overall effect of helping them would boost the economy in ways no tax cut ever could. Screw the banksters. They're already screwing everybody else. Do something to make foreclosure less of an incentive. And screw the moral hazard. Just help these homeowners, dammit.

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Conservative Utopia

GOPers aren't even trying to hide anymore that their ultimate goal is to privatize all central government functions with the possible exception of the top tiers of the military brass. But they could spare those of us who like the country the way it was before they started destroying our long standing institutions and policies by moving out. Nick Kristof finds the conservative's utopia already here on earth.
"It has among the lowest tax burdens of any major country: fewer than 2 percent of the people pay any taxes. Government is limited, so that burdensome regulations never kill jobs."

"This society embraces traditional religious values and a conservative sensibility. Nobody minds school prayer, same-sex marriage isn’t imaginable, and criminals are never coddled."

"The budget priority is a strong military, the nation’s most respected institution. When generals decide on a policy for, say, Afghanistan, politicians defer to them. Citizens are deeply patriotic, and nobody burns flags."

"So what is this Republican Eden, this Utopia?" ...
Read the link to find out. Kristof doesn't think there's much danger of us actually becoming this country. Me, as successful as the GOPers are with their ransom strategies, I'm not so sure.

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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Give me more, give me more

Attorney Todd Allen is my new hero. Seriously. I want to see more of this kind of lawyering. Bank of America attempted to wrongfully foreclose on a property they never even held a mortgage on and then blew off paying the court-ordered legal fees to the homeowners. So he turned around and "seized the bank's assets."
"They've ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated, " attorney Todd Allen told CBS.

Sheriff's deputies, movers, and the Nyergers' attorney went to the bank and foreclosed on it. The attorney gave instructions to to remove desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets and any cash in the teller's drawers.

After about an hour of being locked out of the bank, the bank manager handed the attorney a check for the legal fees.

"As a foreclosure defense attorney this is sweet justice" says Allen.
Been a long time since I've seen such genuine justice in our current convoluted business of law. And very rare to see an attorney willing to pursue it so vigorously against the big bankster crime syndicate. Think I'll send him a thank you note. (todd@swfloridalaw.com. )

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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The Sesame Manifesto

By Capt. Fogg

It's impossible for me to watch a Fox "panel" chew a story without thinking of an alligator feeding frenzy or a bunch of mean dogs fighting for possession of a bit of rawhide. Actually it's impossible for me to watch Fox News at all, but for those of a tougher breed, here's a prime example of the ruthless war on reality called Fox.

Listen carefully and you'll spot the message that Sesame Street aims at lower income, Urban kids and you'll smell the racism and you'll hear the Republican anthem that the fraction of a cent per taxpayer that this show costs is "on principle" too much and especially because it tries to elevate the underclasses in direct contravention of Divine Law and Ayn Rand, whichever is the more powerful.

Does anyone really believe that Big Bird is a Communist or that Sesame Street is ruining America and the morals of its children? (perhaps Doctor Spock fans can sigh with relief now that they've moved on to a new chew toy.)

Perhaps you do, perhaps you watch Fox anyway. Perhaps you're a malicious idiot with delusions of persecution, but here it is again:


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Friday, June 03, 2011

Don't want to go to war no more

A meaningless resolution voted up in the House today for all the wrong reasons, but I approve of it.
The House of Representatives voted Friday to rebuke President Obama for continuing to maintain an American role in NATO operations in Libya without the express consent of Congress, and directed the administration to provide detailed information about the cost and objectives of the American role in the conflict.

The resolution, which passed 268 to 145, was offered by Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, to siphon off swelling Republican support for a measure sponsored by Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, which calls for a withdrawal of the United States military from the air and naval operations in and around Libya.

The resolution criticizing the president passed with the support of 45 Democrats and all but 10 of the Republicans who were present. The measure from Mr. Kucinich, one of the most liberal members of the House, later failed by 148 to 265, with 87 Republicans voting in favor.
Can't help but think, with some bitterness, that it would have been really great if these guys had found their anti-war mojo about ten years sooner.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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The Horror

By Capt. Fogg

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow-

________________

I had pretty much made up my mind that I wasn't going to grant Sarah Palin any more free publicity or waste any more stress-filled time reacting to the Idiot's Princess, but like the safety valve on a boiler, I have my set limit. Pop goes the weasel, or at least the blogger.

I read her garbled soliloquy yesterday, about how the immigrants who built this country up from an agrarian economy to an economic giant had a terribly hard time gaining entrance and getting citizenship and could not favorably be compared to those today who were raised in the USA from infancy, got an education and became part of our society only to be expelled on some error in their parent's papers. She's right, you can't. It took a matter of hours to go through Immigration in the Ellis Island days and if you weren't Chinese, you were all right. No English required, no guaranteed job, no nothin' -- and they came by the millions. Today it takes years, of course, but we're dealing with Sarah Palin, congenitally stupid product of a fourth tier higher educational system and a lifetime of reading nothing. She's dumber than a pre-schooler and she's a Republican front-runner.

My mother read me that Longfellow poem when I was little more than an infant and I don't think any of my contemporaries did not know by early grade school of that somewhat mythological event, but no, not Sarah Palin who seems to think that the famed Boston silversmith was a spokesman for the NRA and a right wing, saber rattling blowhard whose main concern was promoting gun rights in the American wilderness.
“…he who warned the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and, um, makin’ sure as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free. And we were gonna be armed.” You betcha, gol durn it!


The fact that this perky little peanut brain couldn't graduate 5th grade much less pass a citizenship test -- or even apparently, read a newspaper, isn't just obvious, it's horrifying and what these daily enormities we're subjected to say about her is still less horrifying than what this says about America.

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Obama draws a line on GOP demands

It was the Democrats turn to have a tete-a-tete with Obama and our President set the goalposts for the debt ceiling negotiations:
According to multiple meeting attendees, the president reiterated on several occasions that a deal to raise the country's debt ceiling would include revenue increases, even as Republican lawmakers insist that such a deal should be restricted to spending cuts and entitlement reforms.

...One of those lawmakers, who agreed to speak about the event on condition of anonymity, said that members were "worried that the Obama Administration would cave [in debt ceiling negotiations] because Republicans were willing to default on our debt if they don’t get what they want."

The President responded by saying it was vital to have revenues as part of the mix, stressing that a budget can't be balanced on non-defense discretionary spending or the "backs of the most vulnerable." Obama added, according to the member, that, "he would not support extending the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent again no matter what hostages Republicans took."
Also, "Pelosi was adamant that the party not cut Medicare benefits." Which given the upset victory in the NY state special would appear to be the winning strategy.

On the not so bright side, I see little reason to hope the scheduled drawdown of troops in Afghanistan will be anything more than symbolic. Yet no one seems to be able to articulate why we're staying. It's not like there's anything to even "win" there and the bin Laden mission demonstrated military might is not the way to fight terrorism. Thinking the real reason they won't bring the troops home is, there's no jobs for them when they get here and it would just make the unemployment situation even worse than the dismal morass it is right now.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Has anybody tried throwing a bucket of water on her?

I'm already very tired of hearing about Sarah Palin. It was blessed few weeks when she disappeared from the narrative. Somebody. Please. Make her go away again.

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