Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CBS teams up with conservatives for 2012 campaign

This new collaboration sheds some light on why Mark Knoller has suddenly become a spokesmouth for GOP talking points. In an otherwise unremarkable piece about how the major media orgs are hiring young people -- read that work for less money -- to replace veteran campaign journalists, comes this bombshell of a media team up:
Ms. Kaplan and her new colleagues, part of a joint CBS-National Journal reporting team, said they had been thinking long and hard about the fact that what they say and do carries the imprimatur of their employer.

“I thought I’m going to have to develop a personality,” said Lindsey Boerma, 23, whose biggest assignment before writing for National Journal was as editor of the Pepperdine University student paper. “But we’re not providing commentary, we’re providing coverage. And you’ve got to find that line. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.”
On what planet would the National Journal be considered a neutral news organization? Or even a news org? They're the most prominent providers of right wing welfare for opinion writers in the US. Not that it will stop the hardcore cons from whining about the liberal media, but as far as I'm concerned, CBS just died as a news source today.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Drawing a bright line

In reponse to the Republican demand, as voiced recently by Eric Cantor, that any disaster aid has to be offset with spending cuts, White House spokesman Jay Carney throws down the White House position on disaster aid:
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Carney said the federal government’s priority should be to respond to the disaster. He also noted that Cantor (R-Va.) hadn’t demanded offsets when the Bush administration rang up “unprecedented bills.” [...]

The White House spokesman said it was premature to make a decision yet on the costs of Hurricane Irene for the federal government. “The principle (is) that when we’re having a natural disaster and an emergency situation ... our priority has to be responding to the disaster and helping those regions and states recover,” Carney said.
Holding aid to disaster victims hostage is not who we are, or at least not what we have always been, as a country. It abridges every lost "American value" that the GOPers claim to be pining for and wanting to restore. Interestingly, the post states, "some Republicans do not think disaster aid should be offset."

Really? Name two of them. And why have none of these Republicans spoken out publicly in defense of no strings relief spending? Oh right. Political suicide to suggest to their base that they show a little human decency.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Fan mail

Been a while since I've received an amusing fan mail from a DetNews reader who cared enough to track down my email addy. Rather like this one.
Maam,

I must admit that your columns are among the dumbest things that I've ever read in a "major" newspaper. Will you kindly grow up?
That may be the most polite insult I've ever received. Love it.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 29, 2011

Actually, Irene was under-hyped

Light posting yesterday because I was riveted to the twitter trying to get news about what was happening in western MA and Vermont. The teevee was no help. All the news orgs were replaying the same footage on a continuous loop, mainly from New York and New Jersey. Meanwhile, Vermont and WMA was being rapidly destroyed by horrific flash floods.

I have friends all up and down the East Coast, but the great majority of them live in these places, so to say I was irritated by the lack of attention and the notion the hurricane was being overhyped while towns were drowning, would be significantly understating it. I even told some smug west coaster to F off for complaining about over-hyping instead of badly focused coverage. Which I never do.

Coverage is a little better today, but the internets still do it better. And since I collected all these links anyway, here's what you probably didn't see on the teevee.

In my old home town, Northampton, MA. The Mill River, Smith College's Paradise Pond dam. The water here is usually so far down into the ditch that you could break your neck if you fell down the hill.

Franklin County was hit worse. Not even old timers remember the water at the Shelburne Falls at Bridge of Flowers being this high. A slightly wider view and this appears to be when the river was cresting and took out a building on the main street.

Not so devastating, the Falls at Mt. Toby in Sunderland aren't usually so vigorous this time of year.

But the really horrifying impact was in Vermont. The entire state is pretty much destroyed by tiny streams that morphed into raging rivers in mere minutes. This was not the only car floating down river. This one was in Bennington VT.

And if I didn't still miss him so much, I would be glad my old friend Dave Shapiro didn't live to see his Village of Grafton being washed away. Guess I am glad he didn't have to live through it though.

But this was probably the one video that almost made me sob, even though I have no personal connection here. The Lower Bartonsville Covered Bridge washing away before our eyes. This bridge has been standing since 1760. It belonged to history. Now gone forever. RIP.

Finally, the latest videos of Vermont devastation are all just as sad. I know and love so many of these towns.

Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, where the jaded were blissfully unaware of the suffering up north and making jokes about all those emergency supplies they stood in line to buy and then never used, they enjoyed a remarkable post-hurricane sunset in NYC.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's not always about optics

Look, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. I know politics often involves more optics than substance. Hell, I sometimes demand better optics from the political class myself. But I'm really irritated by this false meme that Obama is pretending to take charge of the response to Irene.

No. He's not just "learning the lesson of Katrina" and making sure it appears he's engaged and in charge. He's actually taking charge of the response, because it's his job and he's been fully engaged in doing that job from day one. He's not the one who asks for the Cliff Notes version for the briefings. That was the last guy and any superficial analogies between the two are wildly invalid. Not that it has stopped the media from plying this lazy narrative.

And of course, the usual GOPologists are working overtime to promote that bogus meme. But everybody knows they have an agenda. They don't pretend to be neutral observers.

There's lots of valid reasons to question and criticize Obama's decisions. But it's simply wrong to imply that he makes them without having become as fully informed as humanly possible.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 27, 2011

So wrong - Updated 2X

I can't believe they're doing this. Shades of Katrina:
"We are not evacuating Rikers Island," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a news conference Friday. Bloomberg annouced a host of extreme measures being taken by New York City in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, including a shutdown of the public transit system and the unprecedented mandatory evacuation of some 250,000 people from low-lying areas. But in response to a reporter's question, the mayor stated in no uncertain terms (and with a hint of annoyance) that one group of New Yorkers on vulnerable ground will be staying put.
The place is built on a freaking landfill and within the mandatory evacuation zone. But they're not moving the prisoners? We're talking about human beings here. And if you've forgotten what happened to prisoners in NOLA during Katrina, click the link. Just horrible.

Update: For what it's worth, lost the link but Mayor Bloomberg claims Rikers wasn't in the evac zone and is on high enough ground to be safe. Thankfully, it wasn't put to the test.

Update Two: Thanks to Kevin T. Keith in comments for doing the research that shows Bloomberg is lying about Rikers. And as Kevin points out, there isn't an evac plan for Rikers in the event of any kind of natural disaster. So -- still really horrible.

Labels:

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 26, 2011

Our broken media

If you read him regularly, he doesn't really say anything you probably haven't heard in this post, but Jay Rosen gets the quote of the day for this graf:
Political journalism should help us get our bearings in a world of confusing claims and counter-claims. But instead we have savviness, the dialect of insiders bringing us into their games. Nothing is more characteristic of the savvy style than statements like “in politics, perception is reality.” Doesn’t that statement make you mad? Whenever I hear it, I want to interrupt and say, “No, no, no. You have it wrong. In politics, perception isn’t reality. Reality is reality!”

But then I stop myself. Because I realize I sound like a lunatic.
Me. I don't stop myself from saying it. I harangue the media about it as often as I can. I don't care if I sound like a lunatic because it's true. In these times, we could certainly more of that kind of lunacy.


[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cantor: Can't afford to help you people every damn time there's a disaster

Well, Eric Cantor proves twice in one week he's a heartless bastard, but I guess you can give some credit for being consistent. With a hurricane bearing down that is so big governors all along the East Coast are pre-declaring state of emergencies and ordering mandatory evacuations, Cantor has this to say about disaster relief:
"We aren't going to speculate on damage before it happens, period," his spokesperson Laena Fallon emails. "But, as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts."
Of course his district is inland, so it's unlikely to suffer the real expensive damage the coastal areas are likely to see, but Cantor had the same attitude about the damage done to his constituents in this week's earthquake.
While touring the damage in his district, Cantor surmised, “Obviously, the problem is that people in Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance.” As the Insurance Information Institute notes, “earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.” So, for Cantor, the problem here is that Virginians didn’t have the foresight to predict an exceedingly rare natural disaster and pay out of their own pocket in advance.
You'll recall he has been consistently taking this position since the unfortunate residents of Joplin were completely wiped out by those tornadoes. So apparently, in the world according to Cantor, you can only help disaster victims if you take the money from other struggling Americans. Because you can be damn sure when he says the funds have to offset with other cuts in spending, he's sure as hell is not talking about cutting subsidies for his wealthy friends and donors.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Joe The Plumber, Foreign Correspondent, Author, Actor, Activist, Singer, Community Organizer, Public Speaker, and now...

Just when you think his fifteen minutes of fame are over at last, John McCain's favorite everyman keeps cropping up like a persistent case of foot fungus. Joe the Plumber is back with a new career plan. It appears he's being urged to challenge Marcy Kaptur for Congress.
Mr. Wurzelbacher wouldn't confirm or deny a congressional run. "I think it's a very interesting idea," he said Tuesday. "That's as much as I can say."
No seriously. That's really all he can say. That's the longest coherent sentence he can make at any given time. Perfect for today's Republican party.

Nonetheless, Kaptur's people say "a challenge from Mr. Wurzelbacher is definitely something we would take seriously.'" And well they should.
Some Republicans feel Mr. Wurzelbacher could give Miss Kaptur one of the strongest challenges she has faced in recent years.

"He would make a fantastic candidate," Mr. Stainbrook said. "He goes hunting with Sarah Palin. He's friends with Ann Coulter. He's got the ability to raise the money if he makes a decision to jump into the race."
Sadly, that's likely all too true. He's got all the attributes the base apparently loves. Big, brash and brainless.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Every picture tells a story, don't it?

Politico flags a really stupid photo comparison making the rounds of wingnut venues. It shows a split screen image of Perry vs. Obama, allegedly at 22 years of age. Of course, as is so typical of wingnut memes, they don't even get the facts right. Obama is younger than 22 in that shot, but that's not really the point. Of the photo or this post.

A lot of people assuming the comparison is about Perry's military service versus Obama never having served. But that's not the dog whistle I heard when I first saw it. More like all that all-American white guy of the 50s versus the young, black hoodlum lurking just around the corner, who's going to break into your car and seduce your virginal daughter.

I do agree with everyone that it's a ridiculous photo that won't make any difference outside of amusing the Obama haters for a while. And it was only moments later that the left came up with more creative comparisons that might actually resonate with voters. Jamison Foser's edit was brilliant and is getting a lot of play on the blogs today. But I thought Delrayser's take off was even better.


Perry at 60 years old versus President Obama at 50. That's a comparison that resonates.

[Thanks to mistermix and Doug J for kindly linking in. Note that Jenny posted some other pictures at comments 3 and 4 on Doug's post that might be useful in the future for talented photoshoppers.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Public meeting, off the recording

Back in the summer of Tea Party Town Meeting Tantrums, Republicans were all about letting the people speak. As long they were speaking out against health care reform. Now that the GOPers are in the hot seat of constituent discontent themselves, well, the people's voice apparently needs to silenced. Take Ohio GOP Congressman Steve Chabot for instance.
Last night it was supposed 'security reasons" that they again not only banned citizen speech, but the photographing and filming of the Congressman speaking as well. Chabot's security team enlisted the help of the on-duty Cincinnati Police (car # 05313) to enforce this policy with the threat of arrest and the actual confiscation of two video cameras until the conclusion of the meeting.


Think Progress has a different camera angle, brings up a good point and asks the big question:
Media were permitted to record the event, making the ban on citizen cameras all the more baffling. Clearly no “security” threat existed; rather, as one of Chabot’s staffers told ThinkProgress, they wanted to “prevent” people from “making a show” of the event. Indeed, Chabot and his staff were worried enough about citizens voicing their anger at his policies that they only accepted pre-screened questions chosen by the congressman’s staff.

As town halls continue across the country this month and more voters have a chance to speak out against the GOP’s insistence on slashing spending and eliminating jobs, other congressmen will face a similar choice: will they listen to citizens who demand Republicans address the jobs crisis rather than cutting spending, or will they silence constituents with camera bans and pre-selected questions?
Which brings up the eternal question. What would conservatives be saying if a Democratic Congressman did this? Yes, that's a rhetorical question. We all already know the answer.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels:

Bookmark and Share

Baaa-d example

The slow news cycle breeds odd posts. Think Progress flags this story about a PA school cuts costs by using sheep to cut the grass.
Rather than spend money on cutting grass, the Carlisle School District has brought in 7 Romney sheep to tend the fields. “They’ve done a good job so far,” says Superintendent John Friend.

The sheep come free of charge, since they belong to the principal of the middle school. Friend estimates that they will save the district about $15,000 this year in mowing costs.
The reaction among the so-called "hippie class" has been surprising.
Steve Benen: "You know, nothing says “21st century global superpower” like schools turning to sheep because they can’t afford lawnmowers."

Bob Cesca: "We’re seriously a few more sheep and a Thunderdome away from becoming Bartertown."

My reaction: "But using sheep instead of lawnmowers is good for the environment. Real hippies have been using sheep and goats forever, for that very reason."
The comment sections tell me I'm not the only one who had that thought. Now I understand the reason the school system turned to a green solution is because of horrible budget cuts to education. And yeah, the human being who was being paid to mow with pollution spewing equipment is going to suffer loss of income. But life is a balancing act.

I have empathy for the lawnmower guy, but he's in the wrong business. I'd approve of this strategy even if the schools were fully funded. I mean how can you support addressing climate change without considering this exact solution to lawn maintenance?

And as for the people who wonder what happens to the sheep shit? Well as manure goes, sheep droppings are one of the better manures:
Because sheep make use of ingested sulfur compounds to produce wool, their manure does not have the unpleasant-smelling sulfides found in cow manure. It is also in separate pellets, or in pellets that hold together in a clump [which looks kind of like a pinecone], and thus is less messy in the garden. . . [In the pastures], its pelleted form causes it to fall in the grass instead of lying on top of it where it might smother the vegetation.
Also relatively dry when fresh and dries out quickly in the field. Not really icky to step on and if memory serves, doesn't stick to your shoes like stepping in pile of cow dung, or even dog poop, would.

Assuming most of the critics are city people and don't know this, but surprised Benen didn't see the benefits. I mean, he lives in Vermont. Also, Rachel Maddow, who flagged Benen's post on the twitter. She's from the Happy Valley, one of the few remaining hippie havens in America.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Simply So Predictable

No surprise to find conservatives desperate to find a way to blame Obama for the earthquake. Or least to make some analogy to make it just as bad as Bush fiddling on stage a full day after Katrina drowned New Orleans. Because somehow Obama going golfing after an unexpected event in which no one was hurt and with little property damage over 22 states is exactly the same as Bush cutting birthday cake with John McCain many hours after the storm hit and jetting around the country to fundraisers while 10,000 Americans were trapped in the Superdome.

First out of gate in the race to blame was Wingtopia's favorite idiot, Jim Hoft. Charles Johnson braves his comment section and finds this gem:
To bad that all, ALL the liberals weren’t in that tunnel going out into Virginia from the Capital and our representatives buildings, and it caved in taking them all out! Then that way the largest majority in Washington would be the conservative Republican’s. Then when Obama came back from Martha’s Vineyard he’d have no one to support his crazy ideas that are destroying this nation. You know that Obama is good friends with Maurice Strong who thinks he runs the world with all his bogus organizations and even more bogus NGO’s. Our conservative Republican’s could defund all the U.N. agreements where we don’t know where the money goes. America could begin returning back to where it ought to be. And if all the liberals were dead, Obama couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it. I would like to see him in a situation like that, and I would like to see America in a situation like that, where we would have a small conservative government that got the things done that it is supposed to do and that’s all.
Granted it's nutpicking to use a single commenter, but it strikes me as pretty damn representative of some of the conservatives I know personally. Gratefully, not all of them.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Felt the earth. Move. Under my feet.

I actually didn't feel the earthquake today but I lived it vicariously through the twitter. The jokes have long since all been made, but now the serious posts are arriving. Ironically, the quake was centered in Eric Cantor's district. As emptywheel points out, Cantor was defending cutting funds for USGS and warning systems for natural disasters as recently as last March.

As for why it was so big and felt so widely, there was a lot of speculation early today that it has something to do with fracking. And to be fair, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that links the two. But in this case, geology explains the causation. Think it's kind of cool that it was centered on the Spotsylvania fault zone. Sounds like somewhere Dracula would live. And I had no idea there were so many fault lines here on the East Coast.

Not so cool that they built a nuke plant right on the fault line though. The one nearest the epicenter lost power almost immediately and several others had "unusual incidents." Fortunately, no danger of meltdowns but it's a good reminder of the hazards of nuke energy.

And if you're wondering how strong the quake was in your area if you felt it, or in those of your friends and family back East, you can check the intensity by zip code here. [Last two links via argylestyle who's been on a tear today with great links.]

Update: Haven't looked at this one yet, but it's an animation of the seismic waves. Science is so cool. Makes you wonder why so many conservatives hate it so much.


[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Tea and Reason

by Capt. Fogg

Rick Santorum: the whole line-up of Tea Party candidates -- can't stand to listen to them, not allowed to drown them in a cesspit. What's a patriot to do?

We have all the 'important' Teabagger candidates now segueing smoothly from condemning the president for action to laughing at his inaction after he acted contrary to their threats and demands and tantrums. Santorum, in case you haven't heard, was quick on the draw in assuring us that President Obama was an "indecisive" man who can't take any credit for the fall of the Libyan despot, Moamar Gaddafi and his sons. Obviously, an Obama success; a mission actually accomplished, must not be allowed to interfere with the program of sabotaging our country, its economy, its prestige and anything good we ever pretended to stand for.

Of course, people who admire vermin like Santorum; Tea people who call their jive talking, hate stinking, subversive jihad a political party, aren't biologically capable of asking themselves why Obama was to be impeached just a short time ago for being too decisive by assisting NATO in helping Libyan rebels to overthrow the government -- but by having done so is "indecisive." Like other satanic saviors who come to mind, the lie's the thing. Keep saying it, shouting it repeating it, blogging it, blasting it from the Foxhole relentlessly around the clock and it becomes true. The steadfast become indecisive, the brave cowardly, and anyone who isn't an outright thief becomes a Communist.

One doesn't need to walk on water to be seen as a savior to these atavistic genetic accidents desperate for self esteem. One needs only to be a bigot, a fool a scoundrel and a bastard. (No offense intended to people whose parents never married.) Frankly any person who tolerates and supports such anti-American Tea Party idiocy is doing more than trying to make the president fail so they can put a moron and a crook in his place, they're assuring, promoting and cheering the failure of our country. Remember, the only difference between reason and treason is a T.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 22, 2011

What we have here is a failure to innovate

This piece blipped across the radar rather quickly. It's the kind of wonky post you have to be an economist to even want to read it, but it makes an important point about our lack of innovation.
THERE’S been a lot of bad economic news lately, yet we may be overlooking the most disturbing development of all: our economic productivity has been weakening.
It goes on in excrutiating detail about how that's determined, but this is the important bit:
It is increasingly clear that many of our current economic problems predate the financial crisis, even if the crisis accelerated them or brought them into clearer view. A recent study by E. J. Reedy and Robert E. Litan, both researchers at the Kaufmann Foundation, found that sluggish job creation was a long-term trend. For instance, job creation from start-ups has fallen every decade since the 1980s, raising the specter of an America with an innovation shortfall.
This harks to an argument a discussion I had with a friend recently about Big Pharma. We're told that they must charge outrageous amounts for drugs to fund R & D but in truth, they don't develop new drugs anymore. They develop new variants of old drugs on which the patents are expiring. Often they're not even as effective as the ones they replace and come with worse side effects besides.

My friend was defending the industry. He knows a small research group that is working on new stuff, but all he could come with when I asked him what the industry in general has developed in the last two decades was AIDS drugs. But I'm not sure they count since they aren't meant to be cures, merely treatments to prolong life and require sustained use of the drug to do so. I mean, where are the Jonas Salks of our time?

This same dynamic rules all our major industries. The only real innovation is in electronics but even there, they're not so much innovating as incrementally releasing ever new versions of the same products with a few new tricks. And the marketing is designed to make the new version obsolete almost before it leaves the shelf.

I believe real innovation could save us, but as long as short term profit for the corporation trumps long term progress for the common good, I don't think we're going to see it in any meaningful way. At least not in a way that solves the decline of our collective humanity.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

The real welfare queens

This is wonky but stunning. How the Fed covered up for the Banksters:

Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits.

By 2008, the housing market’s collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s unprecedented effort to keep the economy from plunging into depression included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages.
Basically, The Fed helped these guys hide the fact they were dead broke. And they did for Europe too.

I'm no expert. Maybe there no other choice. Have to think a massive global default would have been worse than the meltdown we had, and they claim they didn't lose a cent in the long run. In fact, they say made $13 billion "in interest and fee income."

But still it rankles that that not only was no one ever really held to account for allowing them to overextend in the first place, but no one seems to be all that interested in setting up new strict safeguards to make sure they don't do it again. What rules are proposed wouldn't even take effect until 2015 to 2018. Plenty of time for our political overlords to water them down to complete ineffectiveness. Furthermore, this has been kept a secret for this long at the behest of the Banksters.

Meanwhile, bankster profits are still mostly up and executive bonuses are ever rising while they lay off rank and file workers. And they're lending money to each other while the little guys can't get a tiny loan to save their livelihoods. Nor can they seem to find a few bucks to help underwater and other struggling homeowners.

As Atrios often says, it's their world. We're just living in it. If you can call the current state of the middle class living. More like barely surviving at this point. And they wonder why everyone hates "Washington, DC."

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why we still need the USPS

As Atrios often says, you can't follow everything, so I haven't really been following the travails of the US Postal Service all that closely. I was concerned when I heard they want to lay off 120,000 workers because that ties into the economy and unemployment which I have been following. But I didn't really stop to think about what closing down a lot of post offices would mean to the public generally.

This comes up because Tony Fratto tweeted something about never using the post office yesterday. I exchanged a tweet with him about it but it didn't occur to me I should get irritated with him over it. Even though he's an ex-Bushie whom I disagree with 98% of the time, I rather like the guy outside of our political differences. I assumed he was just making a off hand observation, as we all do on the twitter.

Apparently, since I don't follow twitter fights, or most of the big name tweeters, I missed the spat he had with Marcy Wheeler over it. Marcy, better known as emptywheel at Fire Dog Lake, now has her own website and posted about the the importance of the post office to the poor, disabled and elderly. She makes good points about why we should defend the service and try to stop the closings of local offices.

Also, having lived in cities for so long now, I forgot how much of rural America still doesn't have broadband access. Much of western Mass still doesn't and they've been trying really hard to get the ISPs to provide it for well over a decade now. So the PO access is more important in these places for that reason as well, and it's precisely in those sparsely populated areas where they want to close the little local offices to save the money.

So, while I think Marcy was a little too harsh with Tony, her point is valid and well taken. If our government can drop billions on weapons of mass destruction and other foreign nation building, they should certainly be able to spend some of our tax dollars on keeping the PO alive for the Americans who need it.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli

Even though they're not there, the Marine's Battle Hymn has been lodged in my ear since last night when I heard the revolution is reaching Gadhafi's doorstep. It's a bit confusing at this point of course. The twitter is telling me that right now the CNN bureau international journalists* in their local hotel are scrambling for safety as heavy gunfire surrounds them. But Juan Cole has some details posted now and he's been a reliable reporter on all things Middle East forever. Also, my pals at
Newshoggers collected lots of links to breaking news sources
. And let me add my friend Ken Bazinet who's been current on new developments since this started.

For myself, I don't really have anything to say about this at the moment. It's hard to imagine deposing Gadhafi would be bad for the country, but one never knows if his replacement will be any better. Still rather amazing to watch it all unfold.

*: Follow Matthew Chance of CNN for those updates.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Romney needs more room(s)

This appears to be Romney's new jobs program:
LA JOLLA — GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, scheduled to attend a series of fundraisers this weekend in San Diego, is also working on plans to nearly quadruple the size of his $12 million oceanfront manse in La Jolla.

Romney has filed an application with the city to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot, single-story home at 311 Dunemere Dr. and replace it with a two-story, 11,062-square-foot structure. No date has been set to consider the proposed coastal development and site development permits, which must be approved by the city.
Think Progress adds "Romney tells Politico that the existing $12M mansion is 'inadequate for their needs.'"

You know the "corporate person" is pretty big, so I guess it's not so surprising he needs more space.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Huntsman's temporary sanity - Updated

Since I have cable here, watching This Week to catch the Huntsman interview. Sure, he delivered the sane soundbytes on climate change but the rest of his schtick is pure GOP voodoo economics. Flat tax, too much regulation, Obama is too far to the left, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Might have to turn it off now. Now sure I can take George Will on the roundtable. Made the mistake of eating breakfast before the show.

Update: As always, if you missed the show CoT's Bobblehead Translations are the best transcript.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Those food-chillin' mofos

This made the rounds, but if you somehow missed it, one of Jon Stewart's best efforts. Bound to become a classic. The World of Class Warfare -- the poors free ride is over.
Bookmark and Share

GOP's dangerous game

James Fallows flags an old NYT piece today that I meant to link to earlier as well about how Republicans are ruining our country.
[T]he short version is: Since winning control of the House, the Republican leadership has been brilliantly successful in convincing some of the public, enough of the news media, and at crucial points the Obama Administration that the main threat to America is future deficits. Thus the debt-ceiling collision; thus the agreed-on cutbacks; thus the frenzy through these past few months about deficit projections.
James is right, it should be read in full, but this bit explains how to repair the economy.
Meanwhile, what business people, ratings agencies, financiers, investors, central bankers, and even most Republican economists (with a predictable exception) consider the real emergencies for the country -- stagnant growth, very high unemployment, the prospect of worldwide recession yet again, which among other bad effects would drive deficits even higher -- will only get worse because of the new austerity drive.

Instead, these critics say, Washington should be focusing on stimulating the economy in the near term to induce people to spend money and create jobs, while settling on a long-term plan for spending cuts and tax increases to take effect only after the economy recovers.
Of course, the DFH community has been saying this for literally years now, but no one listens to hippies so they won't get any credit if anyone takes this advice. Nonetheless, it's good this narrative is finally building in "serious" circles.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

A new, new Supercommittee

Are DC Dems finally catching up to the will of the people and about to do what the DFHs have been suggesting for months on end?
For some time now, Dems have been trying to find a way to get the new Congressional “super committee” on deficit reduction to also focus on jobs. The idea is that job creation — in addition to being urgently needed — can also help with deficit reduction. [...]

Larson and Dems plan to introduce several proposals next week along these lines to amend the current law creating the super-committee — and they will ask Congress to pick from among them. One proposal would simply amend the super-committee’s current mission to include job creation. The second would ask each of the four Congressional leaders to appoint one more person to the committee, bringing its membership to 16 — and create a sub-committee on job creation that would produce a jobs proposal as part of the final deficit reduction package.

This committee's work would also be subject to a trigger and sets a clear metric: "The proposal has to represent a credible effort to bring unemployment down to 5.5 percent by 2014."

Or they could create a wholly separate committee. While I can see a lot problems with trying to define "credible effort" and finding consensus on whether the proposals will accomplish the goal, it is something. Certainly better than sitting around waiting to cave in to whatever insane plot the GOP hatches up next.

In any event, Greg's insiders say it will be taken to the floor for a full Congressional vote. Believe that when I see it, but I certainly hope it's true.

Meanwhile, David Dayen thinks it's too little, too late and that it's effect would be more political than practical. I don't disagree, we all know the GOPers will vote against anything the Dems propose, but isn't this part of what the professional left has been demanding? A rhetorical fight that creates a clear choice? Dems vote for job creation, GOPers vote against it? Seems like a clear winner to me, even if only as a political strategy.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 19, 2011

BoA to Rick Perry: We're here to help

Following up on my earlier post, Zerohedge catches Director of Public Policy for BoA, James Mahoney, in an intimate aside with Rick Perry. At the meet and greet after Perry's little speech at a New Hampshire political breakfast, Mahoney does a walk-by and tells Perry, "Bank of America, we will help you out."

Ben Smith does some follow up and gets a statement from Mahoney's office. They say Mahoney is not a money man and was merely offering informal policy advice. I'll just bet it would be about how to best rid the bank of those tiresome regulations. Ben also finds:
While Mahoney isn't a registered lobbyist, he is chairman of Bank of American's New Hampshire PAC -- an influence post focused on dispensing political cash, not a policy post. (Di Rita adds that Bank of America's PAC does not, itself, give money to presidential candidates. ...)
Guess that doesn't apply to state level politics though. Think Progress reviews BoA's long history of passing money to Perry in Texas:
Over the years Gov. Perry has benefited greatly from Bank of America’s financial support, and it appears that largesse will continue as he seeks the presidency on a platform of — coincidentally enough — bank deregulation. His gubernatorial campaigns have received $125,900 from Bank of America’s PAC and executives since 2003. During the 2010 cycle alone, Perry’s campaign received $30,160 from the bank’s PAC and executives. According to Texans for Public Justice, Bank of America has also given generously Republican Governors Association, which Perry led until recently and just happens to be his largest donor, contributing $4 million between 2001 and 2010.
Interesting timing in any event, considering BoA's announcement today of 10K pending layoffs of its ordinary workers and I'm sure I don't have to remind you that Perry is running on the notion that all bank regulation is unconstitutional. The system surely is working -- for them.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Bank of America hits the skids

Subscription only article, but here's the teaser:
Bank of America Corp. is cutting 3,500 jobs in the current quarter and working on a broader restructuring that could eliminate thousands of additional positions, people familiar with the situation said.
The twitter telling me that they expect up to 10K jobs to be cut before the bloodbath is over. Won't be good news for my corner of the world. BoA is a big employer in these parts. Meanwhile, David Dayen has the tick tock on the story. He's calling it a death watch.

He runs down their myriad problems. Looks like they're not going to be able to hide the fact they're sitting on a bunch of toxic "assets" and that they're broke for much longer. It appears we're finally going to see the Big Shitpile take down its first big victim that didn't deserve saving in the first place. Been a long wait.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Um Bruce, aren't you forgetting something?

Former Treasury official under Bush, Bruce Bartlett, calls Rick Perry an idiot, so he got that part right, even though I'm pretty sure Perry isn't really as dumb as he pretends to be. But then Bartlett goes off the rails here:
Bartlett said the politics at the Federal Reserve are a serious problem and in part blamed U.S. presidents, who he said have historically not focused their energies on the bank.

"He [Obama] has had open seats on the fed almost his entire presidency and I think that this sends a signal that he just doesn't care very much about what the fed does," Bartlett said.
What he fails to mention is the GOPers have been blocking Obama's nominees for the Board since day one. Maybe he forgot about Peter Diamond who finally withdrew his name after being held in GOP limbo for over 14 months?

Half truths aren't any more useful than full out lies, Bruce.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Huntsman kills his candidancy

Huntsman just took himself out of the 2012 race. It only took one tweet:
To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.
Thinking he's realized he can't beat the crazy this round so he's setting himself up for 2016.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Redneck revolt

This is my neck of the woods where all the hard core Republicans call themselves "independent conservatives" even though they consistently vote GOP and hate Obama. So Paddy McHenry's reception in the district is heartening:
Last night, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) encountered an “agitated” town hall audience in his heavily Republican district.
They wanted to know when the hell he was going to do something about creating jobs and fixing the economy. They didn't like his answers much. Apparently he anticipated they wouldn't:
McHenry, who was flanked by 14 police officers for security purposes, said the turn out at the town halls in Kings Mountain was the highest its been since 2009.
Of course, in 2009 the crowd was friendlier and loving his proposal to put Ronnie Reagan on the $50 bill. Pretty sure he didn't have 14 cops escorting him to that one.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Google's new travel toy

I have mixed feelings about google maps. They're useful for general information on routes but I've found they tend to overestimate traveling time. Also their written directions often seem to be a little convoluted and hard to follow. Not a huge deal and I do still use it a lot but it's never going to replace the utility of the GPS. However, this is very cool and is something the GPS can't do.
Today, we’re adding a weather layer on Google Maps that displays current temps and conditions around the globe, and will hopefully make travel and activity planning easier.

To add the weather layer, hover over the widget in the upper right corner of Google Maps and select the weather layer from the list of options. When zoomed out, you’ll see a map with current weather conditions from weather.com for various locations, with icons to denote sun, clouds, rain and so on. You can also see cloud coverage, thanks to our partners at the U.S. Naval Research Lab.
Going to fall in love with Google maps all over again for doing this. Click the link to see all the other fun features.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Nothing unethical to see here

When last we saw Darrell Issa he was using his position to advance his own business interests and sending love letters to Big Business asking what he could he do to make them happy. Today, we get an answer to the latter. Think Progress reveals the crooked Congressman Issa hired an undercover agent to run interference on regulatory oversight of his Wall St. cronies.
Has Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) turned the House Oversight Committee into a bank lobbying firm with the power to subpoena and pressure government regulators? ThinkProgress has found that a Goldman Sachs vice president changed his name, then quietly went to work for Issa to coordinate his effort to thwart regulations that affect Goldman Sachs’ bottom line.

Haller, as he is now known, went by the name Peter Simonyi until three years ago. Simonyi adopted his mother’s maiden name Haller in 2008 just as he was leaving Goldman Sachs as a vice president of the bank’s commodity compliance group. In a few short years, Haller went from being in charge of dealing with regulators for Goldman Sachs to working for Congress in a position where he made official demands from regulators overseeing his old firm.

It’s not the first time Haller has worked the revolving door to help out Goldman Sachs.
I expect Mr. Haller took a big pay cut to move over to "public service." Willing to bet he got an hellva severance package from Goldman Sachs to cover the difference. Or do you think he's working on a performance based kickbacks?

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Nobody's right if everybody's wrong

I've been reading all the whining on the internets tonight and deleted at least six posts. All I'm going to say is everybody lives in a bubble of their own making. Our president probably isn't as right as his advisors tell him he is, but neither is he as wrong as you probably think. It's a big world outside of your personal bubble. Really too big for anyone to see all horizons.

In the end the universe gives us all what we need. Which is not necessarily what we want.
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Today's conservatism

Not sure I agree with Doug J that Mittens can't win the nomination. At this point, anything is still possible. And as I said on the twitter yesterday, I'm not really willing to spend a lot of time analyzing the current media man-crush on Gov. Goodhair. They love Ricky because he's colorful and easy to cover. The daily soundbytes write themselves.

But I'm pretty sure he's going to flash and burn like a big old pile of crumpled up newspaper now that the media has lit that match. Thinking Goodhair will turn out to be the new Fred Thompson. He'll probably last longer, because he's not boring and he has more fire in the belly than old Fred. But the tea pleasing bombast that worked for him in Texas is going to scare the old people and what's left of the moderate indys as he becomes better known. Hell, I already have tons of damaging oppo archived on him. Just not going to bother to use it unless he actually starts to look like a serious contender.

All that being said, I linked to Doug J's post, because he flagged the most nicely articulated definition of conservatism I've seen yet. From long time Balloon Juicer Cleek:
"Today’s conservatism is the opposite of what liberals want today: updated daily."
Everybody in the GOP's clown car is desparately trying to deliver it but ironically, the one who delivers it best will be the worst possible choice. Admit as much as it worries me, given the quirks of the electorate, they might win, on some level, I find it vastly amusing.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

More hated than "Mooslums"

Well this op-ed doesn't tell us anything that the hippies haven't been saying practically since day one, but this new follow-up study once again proves the DFHs were right. The Tea Party is just another name for the same old bigoted theocrats that have ruled the GOP base for decades. They're not and never were, "nonpartisan political neophytes" suddenly sprung up from the grass roots to protest taxes, deficits or any other discernable issue.
So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do. [...]

Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.
But this is new:
Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.
I guess in a way we have the media's long enduring obsession with these fringe extremists to thank for their fall into disfavor. Without it, most of the electorate would never have figured out who they really are and what they really want -- namely a "Christian" nation, ruled by the laws of their God, but only as they interpret them. Not necessarily as they were written.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Libertarian Utopia

For the love of the Goddess I so wish this would really happen:
Pay Pal founder and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel has given $1.25 million to an initiative to create floating libertarian countries in international waters, according to a profile of the billionaire in Details magazine.

Thiel has been a big backer of the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to build sovereign nations on oil rig-like platforms to occupy waters beyond the reach of law-of-the-sea treaties. The idea is for these countries to start from scratch--free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place. Details says the experiment would be "a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons."
Assume the money is for R & D, since I'm pretty sure $1.25 million wouldn't buy a bathroom in Rush Limbaugh's house, much less build a whole island. But wouldn't it be great to see what grows in that "petri dish?" I've been thinking for years these guys should set up their own country and try to live by their lofty principles.

Labels:

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If they have nothing to hide...

Why are they hiding from the rank and file voters? The GOPers keep claiming they're pursuing their economy destroying policies under the mandate of those who elected them. But if that was true why is GOP Goldenboy Paul Ryan avoiding his working class constituents?
It will cost $15 to ask Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a question in person during the August congressional recess.

The House Budget Committee chairman isn’t holding any face-to-face open-to-the-public town hall meetings during the recess, but like several of his colleagues he will speak only for residents willing to open their wallets.
You can also add Ben Quayle and Chip Cravaack to the list who aren't holding open town halls.

And then there's Boehner's Boy's Club. Only male lobbyists are invited to join and get to surrepitiously gain the House Speaker's ear on the links at the exclusive men-only golf club. The article doesn't say whether he's planning to hold any any open forums for "the little people" but one suspects he won't. They all say they'll still hold office hours by appointment and anyone is free to come in and be politely deflected by their staffers.

Meanwhile the Weekly Standard (no, not linking and not clicking over myself) says Ryan is "strongly considering" jumping into the clown car. Also, too, some other wingnut site suggests Palin and Christie haven't completely ruled out donning the red rubber nose and strapping on the ole clown shoes themselves. Never has an analogy between the Republican field and a three ring circus felt more appropriate.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Big Business to the rescue?

Joe Nocera indulges in a lovely fantasy in this op-ed:
I am coming more and more to think that with the government essentially paralyzed for the foreseeable future, the only way we’re going to get jobs is by turning to actual job creators: business itself. With all their cash, companies shouldn’t be waiting for Congress to give them tax incentives to hire people. They should be trying to jump-start the economy — and fend off another recession — by making investments, and hiring workers, that will lead to renewed prosperity.

The only way that’s going to happen, however, is if our society implicitly makes the kind of compact that German society makes explicitly: We have to be willing to allow companies to sacrifice short-term profits for the long-term good of the country. As the leadership expert Michael Useem wrote recently on The Washington Post’s Web site, business needs to make “people a priority, not just earnings.”
Fat chance of that happening. To be fair, Nocera does admit it's a long shot that would require a tacit agreement among the players to voluntarily do it as a group effort. But with the culture of greed so firmly ingrained in the Corporotacracy, I'd guess you have a less of a chance of seeing this happen than you would seeing God answer Good Hair Perry's prayers for rain in Texas.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tell me sweet little lies

It's not a big deal. Just a stupid little white lie, but especially stupid for Bachmann to lie about attending her family reunion while she's under the sharp scrutiny of the White House media.
On her victory lap of Iowa yesterday, Straw Poll winner Rep. Michele Bachmann paid repeated tribute to her local roots, and repeatedly mentioned her family reunion that day, citing it as an excuse for her late arrival at a local party event in Waterloo.

But Bachmann's mother and two cousins told POLITICO's Emily Schultheis that Bachmann didn't attend the reunion, though her husband and children did. Her spokeswoman, Alice Stewart, didn't respond to two emails asking for an explanation of the disparity.
It does raise mild ethical concerns and calls her judgment into question. Did she think no one in our trivia loving media would follow up on that story? And what was she doing that delayed her if she wasn't at the reunion? Strategizing with her consultants? Nursing one of her mysterious migranes? People will likely want to know now that Pravda on the Potomac brought it up.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Profile in Corruption

I do so love me some for real, investigative journalism. As part of an ongoing series, NYT takes on Darrell Issa:
Even as he has built a reputation as a forceful Congressional advocate for business, Mr. Issa has bought up office buildings, split a holding company into separate multimillion-dollar businesses, started an insurance company, traded hundreds of millions of dollars in securities, invested in overseas funds, retained an interest in his auto-alarm company and built up a family foundation.

As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.
Of course, they pull their punches a bit. Potential for conflicts? Looks like glaringly obvious conflicts to me.

Most politicians at least go through the motions of selling off some interests or setting up blind trusts. Hell, even Cheney did that. And I'm sure you'll recall that it was Issa who wrote a love letter to 150 businesses and trade groups asking them to tell him which regulations they would like him to get rid of. But still, good to see NYT enter this stuff into the narrative, even if the TV media is likely to ignore it in favor of some trivial bullshit about Obama's little bus tour or the latest hijinks of the hopeful GOPers.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Bachmanns chow down

Just in case you were stuck on a deserted island with no access to the internets and haven't seen these photos that were so widely passed around, here's Michele Bachmann chowing down on a foot long corndog and the companion photo of Mr. Michele Bachmann taking the first bite.

Frankly, the pix kind of squigged me out, so not posting the actual photos, but figure it's worth archiving the links to document the lengths to which our media will go to generate traffic. And really surprised that low-life hack, Toby Harnden was the one to post Michele's awkward moment. He must be really desparate for hits.

Update: Good Lord. They just won't stop. Now comes Rick Perry taking a big bite. They must be thinking this will please the sexually repressed in the base. Which is pretty much most of them.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Buffett says it again

This is being linked all over and Warren Buffet has said it before, but it really can't be repeated often enough. Shorter: Please tax me, bro.

Slightly longer: He never saw an investor in 60 years who refused to enter into a money making investment because they have to pay taxes on the profits. No, higher taxes aren't job killers. And the numbers here are interesting in the context the entire population of the US in 2009 was 305 million.
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
I assume the over $10 million demo includes the fabulous 400 households who are worth billions.

And if you don't have time to read the whole short op-ed, these two bits were new:

"In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)"

"Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors."
Useful to remember, it's not really about the money for these guys. It's about the power and the thrill of playing the game. Willing to bet they wouldn't "go Galt" even the rate was raised back to Eisenhower levels. They love the game too much and obviously they can afford to pay to play. As Mr Buffett says, "My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Waterfail

In our America we take it for granted until you turn on the faucet and nothing comes out:
The heat wave of the past few weeks has burst hundreds of crucial pipes in California, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Kentucky and New York, temporarily shutting off water to countless consumers just when they needed it most. [...]

High temperatures can dry soil so that it shrinks away from buried pipes. Increased water usage raises pressure inside the water lines. Both factors add strain to pipeline walls, making older pipes more susceptible to bursting. [...]

It underscores the fact that much of the nation's underground water lines are 80 to 100 years old -- and approaching the end of their lives. [...]

Experts call it America's "Replacement Era," when hundreds of water utilities nationwide will be forced to replace their aging infrastructure -- or suffer the consequences. [...]

Who will probably have to pay for those hundreds of thousands of miles of new pipelines? Utility customers, industry experts say.
Or, you know, the federal government could hire a whole bunch of unemployed construction workers and just start pre-emptively replacing the aging pipelines -- before they burst. Of course, water, like electricity isn't really a public utility anymore, is it? Lot of cities have privatized their delivery systems because the free market is more efficient. Or so they said when they turned over critical infrastructure to the invisible hand.

Also, too. Al Gore is fat and lives in a big house.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Dear Big Media

So does this mean you will start treating them like crazy people who rant on street corners?
The reign of the Tea Party may be coming to an end in Washington, according to academic political experts who say polls show a backlash against the conservative movement.

Two national polls released this month by CNN and The New York Times in conjunction with CBS News showed the Tea Party’s unfavorable rating at an all-time high.
And by the way. Maybe if you hadn't adoringly obsessed on their every utterance like pathetic fanbois following the latest rock diva, they would never have had the power to fuck things up in the first place.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Turkey in the Straw

By Capt. Fogg

What does the Iowa Straw Poll really mean as an indicator of who might actually be the chosen Candidate to bring about the "end of an error?" I really don't know, but it proves that the extremist barn dance is still the thing in Iowa. I'm referring of course to the the fact that, although the lineup (or the menagerie if you prefer) included all sorts of wild things, the Minnesota Gobbler herself came in first. Here's the list as published in the Huffington Post:

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.): 4,823 votes
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas): 4,671 votes
Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty: 2,293 votes
Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.): 1,657 votes
Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain: 1,456 votes
Texas Governor Rick Perry: 718 votes
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney: 567 votes
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: 385 votes
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman: 69 votes
U.S. Rep Thad McCotter (R-Mich.): 35 votes

Neither Romney, Gingrich or Huntsman campaigned actively and Rick Perry had announced his candidacy only shortly after the barnyard gates were closed. All of them were thus at a disadvantage, but you'll notice that Ron Paul was only a half step and a do-si-do behind Bachmann. Perhaps Iowan Tea Tipplers think her 'holy roller two-step' dance gives her that ol' show-time religion shamanship the straight-talking Dr. Paul lacks.

Who knows? But it seems Rick Pawlenty is adding 'former candidate' to ' former governor' on his resume. He announced on ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour this morning that he was scraping the muck off his boots and going home.

Once again, I have no idea what all this means and who will be the great Republican Hope come next year. I do suspect that if he or she wins, the much wished for end of an error will be the beginning of a disaster.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

What's to debate?

I didn't have high expectations when I voted for Obama. I didn't expect to agree with all his policies. But I did expect him to be a much more forceful leader than he turned out to be. It's increasingly clear, Obama needs news advisors:
As the economy worsens, President Obama and his senior aides are considering whether to adopt a more combative approach on economic issues, seeking to highlight substantive differences with Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail rather than continuing to pursue elusive compromises, advisers to the president say. [...]

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.
Are they joking? Indy's don't give a flying leap about patent protections and everybody outside of The Village hates trade agreements. Not a day goes by that I don't hear some con or so-called independent curse NAFTA. And this is so wrong:

So far, most signs point to a continuation of the nonconfrontational approach — better to do something than nothing — that has defined this administration. Mr. Obama and his aides are skeptical that voters will reward bold proposals if those ideas do not pass Congress. It is their judgment that moderate voters want tangible results rather than speeches.
The voters they're chasing respond to slogans and machismo. They don't get nuance and small accomplishments, especially when bold moves are clearly required, sure as hell aren't going to impress anybody. As Reuters so adroitly points out:
And opinion polls show that Obama's job approval ratings are edging downward even as members of his own Democratic Party grumble about his leadership and fault his willingness to make concessions to opposition Republicans in Congress. [...]

"He has a unique opportunity now to really make the case to the American people. Congress is home and it is a chance for him to try to build consensus around a bold alternative," said Romer, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. The Congress is on summer recess.
For a change, even the Congressional Dems get it. The Republicans are handing Obama a campaign issue on a golden platter and he refuses to take the gift. It doesn't matter if it passes Congress. Nothing useful is going to pass Congress because the GOPers have gone insane. As Steve Benen puts it so well:
Republicans respond to all of this by … not caring at all. Some may want a weaker economy on purpose, some are too blinded by ideology to consider objective information, some aren’t terribly bright, and some, as David Brooks recently noted, simply “do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities.”
What would work for Obama is to put forth a bold vision. Propose jobs bills instead of adopting GOP framing that government can't create jobs. Demand more short term stimulus spending to repair the economy and let the GOPers shoot it down. Draw the proverbial clear, bright line.

Jobs now, deal with the deficit later. Nobody outside of DC and the Tea Party cares about the deficit. If Obama is perceived as fighting to restore their economic security, he could reprise his 2008 victory all over again. It doesn't matter if he wins the fight. What matters is that he looks like he's fighting for the voters -- the workers -- instead of meekly caving to the Republicans in order to protect the investor class.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Gimme that old slime and religion

By Capt. Fogg

The Republican circus' Big Top is beginning to fill with snarling dogs, rooting hogs and booming frogs fighting to get into the center ring -- the kind of things once relegated to side shows so as not to frighten young children and more 'sensitive' viewers.

Rick Perry is, as I write this, now announcing his candidacy from the State of South Carolina, where the First Civil War started with the booming of cannons 150 years ago. The Cold Civil War is heating up and so is the rhetoric. Rhetoric just as emotional and just as full of vain invocations of the common divinity. "It's time to get America working again" he says as though his party hadn't presided in ZERO job growth in the eight Republican years and as though we haven't had significant job growth since. Has Perry suggested anything positive or anything other than blind faith in what got us into this mess? Remember he's the guy who thinks the climate responds better to prayer than to carbon dioxide levels. So far it's still not raining in Texas.


Not all the candidates, however, are quite so willing to engage in such a pitched battle on an even field. All the likely female contestants for instance -- like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich seem to prefer to come out slapping and eye gouging but should anyone be so unfair as to ask such inappropriate, unfair "Gotcha" questions as "which newspapers do you read" or just what Mrs. Bachman meant when she said:
"But the Lord said, 'Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.' "

Perhaps since she wears her religion, not only on her sleeve and on her shield like a crusader, but constantly suggests the superiority it gives her along with the right to make peremptory statements about how the rest of us live our lives, it's an appropriate question. It's the same Question President Carter asked of the Southern Baptist Church and not liking the answer, quit the church in which he was raised and spent his life. She'd have us believe she only meant "respect" contrary to the literal word she's so eager to worship. But she didn't say respect, now did she? Nor did the word of God she thinks she's quoting.

Suggesting both that it's offensively inappropriate for anyone to ask clarification of Bachmann and that her explanation would be far too nuanced for us heathen to understand, we have Roland Martin writing on CNN.com today.

Martin tells us she was asked by Byron York:
"As president, would you be submissive to your husband?"
Forgetting the "Billary" gambit directed against Bill Clinton, Childe Roland hesitates not a bit to be offended on behalf of Biblical literalists and for the shy, sensitive and ever-so-subtly nuanced Bachmann who brought the subject up in the first place.

I don't know how old Roland Martin is; whether he remembers the Republicans' question as to whether John Kennedy would obey the Pope instead of the Constitution or whether like the other hand-waving, special pleading, smoke and mirrors artists he can only take refuge in fog shrouded ineffability when someone asks a damned good question he wouldn't hesitate to ask of others.

It's a question asked only because she's a woman, asserts Martin rather tautologically. After all, men aren't ordered to obey their wives in the old books some people confuse with the US Constitution. Apparently he thinks men aren't even asked similar questions about the conflict between their beliefs about the the legitimacy of government, their credos and their ability to administer secular laws in a secular country they may disapprove of.

He's quite wrong of course. These questions are asked and not just by me -- and they are important questions to ask of a party that is insisting in ever louder voices that secularism is a problem and that the country rightly belongs only to those with suitable church affiliations.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Friday, August 12, 2011

Romney channels McCain

Feels kind of like 2008 all over again:




Think Progress has more video of other surly conservative questioners:

The first questioner asked Romney if he would raise the cap on payroll taxes, so that the rich pay more into the system. Romney — who has a net worth of more than $200 million — said that raising the payroll tax cap for Social Security was tantamount to “attacking people because of their success”

And Steve Benen reminds us of Romney's jobs problem:
Romney slashed American jobs as if his career depended on it — and it did. Frank Rich recently explained, “In [his 1994 Senate] campaign, Romney was stalked by a ‘Truth Squad’ of striking workers from a Marion, Indiana, paper plant who had lost jobs, wages, health care, and pensions after Ampad, a Bain subsidiary, took control. Ampad eventually went bankrupt, but Bain walked away with $100 million for its $5 million investment. It was an all-too-typical Romney story.”
And yet, he won the gubernatorial race in the very liberal Commonwealth of Mass against an old line Democrat. Of course Shannon O'Brien was an extremely weak candidate and had her own baggage in connection with her previous office in the state but Romney turned out to a formidable candidate in that race. Frankly, he makes me nervous. I think he's the most likely to win in the general against Obama.

On the bright side, he probably won't win the nomination. Poor Mittens is just not pure enough to please the cons in the present environment. So there's that.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Solving the wrong problem

Via Jay Ackroyd, the ever increasingly shrill Doctor Krugman diagnoses the problem:
Has market turmoil left you feeling afraid? Well, it should. Clearly, the economic crisis that began in 2008 is by no means over.

But there's another emotion you should feel: anger. For what we're seeing now is what happens when influential people exploit a crisis rather than try to solve it. [...]


What the market was saying - almost shouting - was, "We're not worried about the deficit! We're worried about the weak economy!" For a weak economy means both low interest rates and a lack of business opportunities, which, in turn, means that government bonds become an attractive investment even at very low yields. If the downgrade of U.S. debt had any effect at all, it was to reinforce fears of austerity policies that will make the economy even weaker. [...]

What would a real response to our problems involve? First of all, it would involve more, not less, government spending for the time being - with mass unemployment and incredibly low borrowing costs, we should be rebuilding our schools, our roads, our water systems and more. It would involve aggressive moves to reduce household debt via mortgage forgiveness and refinancing. And it would involve an all-out effort by the Federal Reserve to get the economy moving, with the deliberate goal of generating higher inflation to help alleviate debt problems.

The usual suspects will, of course, denounce such ideas as irresponsible. But you know what's really irresponsible? Hijacking the debate over a crisis to push for the same things you were advocating before the crisis, and letting the economy continue to bleed.
It's always about sparing the investor class any pain and letting them "keep more of their own money" by eliminating those horribly costly social service programs that make up for some of the exploitation of the ever growing working poor class by the owners. Our society is so sick now. The greedy cretins have multiplied like cockroaches. Mass extinction may be the only answer. Worth a read in full.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Kids for Cash judge sent to jail

It's so rare to see justice served and especially sweet to see it dished out to this creepy judge who so unequivocally deserved the punishment.
SCRANTON, Pa. — A longtime northeastern Pennsylvania judge was ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state’s high court to toss thousands of convictions.

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in federal prison for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as “kids for cash.”
As you'll probably recall, those thousands of convictions were all children, wrongfully sent into hellhole, juvenile detention centers. I only wish they had also ordered him to give every cent he had to the kids as some small compensation for the injustice he perpetrated against them -- out of pure greed.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels:

Bookmark and Share

The best the GOP has to offer

I missed the debate last night. Looking at the highlight reel, I'm not really sorry about it.



Pretty pathetic that this is the best the GOP has to offer. And pretty scary to think what would happen if by some misfortune any one of would win in 2012. [Via]

Meanwhile, John Cole won the night on twitter. Best running commentary ever. The man was born to tweet.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Queen of the Damned

By Capt. Fogg


And, in few words, I dare say; that of all the Studies of men, nothing may be sooner obtain'd, than this vicious abundance of Phrase, this trick of Metaphors, this volubility of Tongue, which makes so great a noise in the World. But I spend words in vain; for the evil is now so inveterate, that it is hard to know whom to blame, or where to begin to reform.

(Thomas Sprat, The History of the Royal Society, 1667)

_____________


When I got my copy of Newsweek yesterday; the cover showing Michelle Bachmann looking upward as though reading a celestial teleprompter, I fired off a letter similar to the one I wrote when Sarah Palin became the cover girl not long ago. "Indecency or obscenity can be difficult to define" I said, "but I recognize it when I see it."

Somehow, her supporters saw it differently, condemning the wide-eyed lunatic pose as having been selected by the "liberals" to make her look crazy, but scanning the web for other photos, I found it hard to find one where she doesn't look like a two year old who has just, to her great surprise, soiled her diaper -- but that of course, is only my opinion. No offense to incontinent toddlers is intended.

Her stance on "the evils of Government" as the headline blares, is harder to see as being other than obscene unless it's the indecent dishonesty behind her rhetoric that pushes your particular buttons.

I have to wonder: if Democracy is so inherently bad, what kind of government would she then prefer? If Government itself is the enemy of freedom, who or what could be the ally? I have to wonder if the government is really broken or is she trying to break it to prove her point?

Making big noises in Kansas about an oppressive government that makes tyrannical rules about what kind of light bulbs to use and destroys our freedom by inspecting meat, she certainly begs the question of why she nonetheless promotes a "faith based" government that tells us what kind of sex we can have and with whom; promotes poisoning the well if someone can get rich doing it, which encourages us to pray rather than to fix our problems and to be a nation of individuals who owe nothing to anyone.

Then there's also the question of the deceit involved in taking government subsidies under false pretenses and using one of them illegally to fund prayer sessions in the guise of psychotherapy. Really, if we can't call her crazy, what other excuse can we make for her? Ignorant? Malicious? Greedy?

It's a two tier government she dreams about, with one set of rules for 98% of us that exist to preserve and increase the capital and the power of Corporations, Plutocrats and Theocrats. Of course no one with any understanding of Capitalism and what makes it expand would recommend policies that shrink the numbers of people whose spending makes Capitalism work while the one-percenters send capital and jobs abroad, but what made you think the Teabaggers are Capitalists in the first place? The kind of Randian, take the money and run Utopia these people claim to envision is Feudal as well as futile and self-destructive. The rabble-rousing and specious rhetoric smells more of the Brown Shirts and Bolsheviks than Tom Paine or Tom Jefferson.

Of course those who follow the Tea Party Queen like the mice of Hamlin, should be intelligent enough to realize that not only do we not have an oppressive, confiscatory tax situation, but that very low marginal rates inevitably produce bubbles and busts as they did in the 1920's and at the end of the last decade. They should recall that the years of low debt and high prosperity were the years of high marginal tax rates. They should be smart enough to see that all that extra cash in already deep pockets does not create US jobs, but inflates the market and makes hedge funds flourish - but only for a while. They should be, but they're either too ignorant or too stupefied by the pied pipers of the radical right. But like the Shadow, Bachmann knows what rage lies in the hearts of men. Unlike the Shadow, she's hell bent on making a buck for her backers out of it.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Damned if you don't

By Capt. Fogg

Even in the mean, scummy world of American presidential campaigns, there are few examples of behavior more scurrilous than the personal attacks on Barack Obama and his wife and children. Central to the defamation were the attacks on his religion, descriptions of which which ranged from radical Christian anti-white crusades to militant, anti-Christian Islam. Of course these attacks are ongoing and virulent even while such a potential candidate as Mitt Romney is feigning shock and dismay at what seems to be a largely non-existent attack against him and his Mormon affiliations.

In a lurid article at Politico, titled Obama Plan: destroy Romney, Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin try to convince us that the Obama campaign staff is planning unconscionable and personal attacks on Romney's religion and character.

Shocking, I know. That sort of thing never happens in America and Republican campaigns never, ever fabricate stories about the war records or terrorist affiliations or high crimes or foreign influences or membership in weird religious cults or even the citizenship of their opponents.

None the less, there was an anonymous source or two we must trust as well as we trust the journalistic integrity of Politico. It's just political reality, says the article. He can't campaign on accomplishments so he has to get dirty and therefore he's already dirty. Seems logical even if it isn't actually the truth, much less fair or balanced reporting.
"And so the candidate who ran on “hope” in 2008 has little choice four years later but to run a slashing, personal campaign aimed at disqualifying his likeliest opponent."

No, he has little choice so he's already guilty of what we predict he will do: he'll be as bad as we Republicans. Those dirty Democrats want to go after Romney's poor record of getting rich while eliminating jobs as CEO of Bain Capital, for instance. They'd like to portray him as "weird" and personally awkward, and even stiff, perhaps like John Kerry was said to be by his GOP opponents. That's slashing for ya! And what about 'Romneycare' in Massachusetts?

Weird. It's a word used often by Obama campaign headquarters we're told. " there’s not a lot to like about Mitt Romney,” said Pete Giangreco who worked on Obama's 2008 campaign;
“There’s no way to hide this guy and hide his innate phoniness.”

Calling a candidate a phony just for being against what he used to be for? I mean how far below the belt will they punch? An "unidentified" source even suggested that Romney's personal awkwardness might turn off some voters -- outrageous!

"In a move that will make some Democrats shudder, Obama’s high command has even studied former President George W. Bush’s 2004 takedown of Sen. John Kerry."
says Politico. I admit - I'm shuddering, but with laughter.

Of course the Romneyites are already calling Obama "disgraceful" for doing what he hasn't done but they predict he will do since they've backed him into a corner -- and their outrage is justifiable. What could be worse, from a Republican perspective, than Democrats doing what Republicans did? And not actually having done it is no excuse! What could be worse than interrupting the personal attack on Obama with an attack on Romney, even if the personal attack on Romney as a "weird" Mormon is a fabrication?

But perhaps here's the grounds for impeachment they've been looking for since the day the oath of office was administered (improperly, they say.) Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) told a Tea Party rally that impeachment "needs to happen" but when asked for the grounds, he had to dissemble since bribery, treason and such things are hard to substantiate in the absence of guilt. Hey, use your imagination, Mike. Just predict he will!


Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Right but wrong

By Capt. Fogg

You could fault Ron Paul for stating the obvious, but hey, somebody has to do it. Should the country try to save it's triple A rating with Moody's? Why bother when those helium-filled bond ratings proved to be based on politics and greed and by giving investors false confidence, helped precipitate the market collapse of 2008?

“I always wonder about this ratings, the bond ratings before the crash three years ago wasn’t helpful, so sometimes I wonder if it’s political theater to build up the fear.”

said Dr. Paul on Bloomberg TV yesterday. Of course it is, but is he doing the same thing?

But I'm not sure that I agree with the rest of his assessment: that the country is insolvent and bankrupt and got that way by excessive spending on the health and welfare of Americans. It's a bit like telling your spouse that the family could go to Disneyland more often if they weren't saddled with life insurance and a retirement savings plan, but I don't think one can rightly compare the financial problems of an individual or a family with the problems of a country in such a simplistic fashion.

One becomes insolvent and enters bankruptcy because one's income is insufficient to be able to manage one's debt. An individual does not always have control over how much money he makes; can't always find a job, can't always be healthy enough to work, can't always pay medical bills.

That's not so with a government. Our revenue shortfall is in some large part voluntary; an effort to "starve the beast" by thwarting its ability to run programs that the electorate voted for. That attempt is also a bit of political theater with a lot of smokey pyrotechnics and a bit of dramatic hand waving involved so as to obscure the fact that very low taxes on large incomes do not raise revenue, by magic transfer from the people who put much of their incomes into hedge funds and equities to the people who spend most of their incomes on food and shelter.

So yes, Social Security, a government program that did much to create the Middle class and take tens of millions of older people out of abject poverty, is going to run out of funds eventually because they're going to make it run out of funds so that they can do away with it. So yes, it's also political theater designed to create fear and panic, but perhaps the word 'theater' isn't quite strong enough. I'd call it a scam.


Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share