Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Stuff

Yes, I know he had his massive “White People Pity Party” today, on behalf of everyone still freaked out by our Kenyan Muslim pre-zee-dint (here)…

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
I Have a Scheme
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

(and oh, those nutty teabaggers - more here; and if I were Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, I'd wear that shirt as a badge of honor)

Update 8/29/10: And why am I not surprised by this?

…and I just thought this was a neat little tune.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Stuff

(I also posted some videos here.)

"Worst Persons" (Stupid criminal Preston Renninger of Allentown, Pa. drives the car that he stole right past the police, taking the report from the stolen car's owner - I think we have a "Darwin" candidate here, people; Rudy 9iu11ani can't even answer a question about a minor league baseball game without working in a reference to you-know-what; but Nick Turkal, M.D., the CEO of Aurora Healthcare of Wisconsin, gets the nod for billing Trevor Hill of Zion, IL 2 grand for saving a drowning times like this, where are the racists with the funny hats screaming about how only "socialized medzin'" from the "gumint" is evil)...

...and we lost SRV 20 years ago today - here is yet another memorable performance (check out playing the guitar behind his back at about 7:50 - unbelievable).

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday Stuff

It took Harry Reid long enough to come up with this, but kudos to him for doing it (kind of helps to have an opponent like Sharron Angle, though)...

...and no video, but I just like this new Petty song, so here it is.

Thursday Mashup (8/26/10)

  • Boy, did “Governor Bully” put his proverbial foot in it (here)…

    It was, according to New Jersey’s governor, a $400 million mistake.

    The state was drenched in recriminations on Wednesday as Gov. Chris Christie said a clerical error by a midlevel official had caused the state to lose out on $400 million in federal school reform money — an error that caused its Race to the Top grant application to fall short of the 10-member winner’s circle by just three points.

    The mistake, reported Tuesday by The Star-Ledger of Newark, resulted from a failure to correctly read a straight-forward question worth not quite 5 of the competition’s 500 points. The application asked states vying for billions in federal funds to compare their 2008 and 2009 school budgets to illustrate their commitment to education financing. Instead, a New Jersey official, whom the governor would not identify, compared the state’s 2010 and 2011 financing, thus forfeiting the points.
    Or, as Blue Jersey tells us here…

    …there was once an application - negotiated by the Christie administration's Commissioner of Education Bret Shundler (sic) and the NJEA - that would have scored high enough to get the $400 million. That application also didn't have the error that cost us $400 million. But Christie threw a another hissy fit when he heard about it on the news instead of from Shundler, and tossed that application out.

    Instead of just changing the parts he didn't like, Christie appears to have started from scratch as part of his hissy fit. As a result a question that was simply factual and had no bearing on the NJEA-Shundler negotiations was removed and replaced with the wrong information. And that led to the loss of $400 million during a massively problematic fiscal era.

    …there are only two explanations I can see for this disaster. The first is that Christie intentionally tanked the application in an effort to continue hurting the public schools to the extent where vouchers appear to be the only solution. Or that Christie intentionally mis-wrote the answer to that question in order to hide funding cuts by the previous administration in some effort to improve his own standing or image. I find conspiracy theories like this not terribly realistic, in no small part because Christie's not that clever.

    The more likely is that it was Christie's need to be in control, his hate of the NJEA and his inability to play well with others that lost this money. Essentially his pissy temperament - the same one that got him in trouble as a Freeholder and was so respected by the media as US Attorney - just cost every resident of the state of New Jersey $45. It's incompetence of the worst kind - willful and unnecessary.
    Oh, and here is more on Christie’s reaction from the Times…

    In a lengthy news conference on Wednesday, Governor Christie, a Republican, said he took ultimate responsibility for the error, which “believe me,” he said, “I am not thrilled about.” But he said no one would be fired over the matter, then he assumed his signature anti-Washington tone. The Obama administration, he said, should have called, or checked the state’s Web site, when it discovered the error, which was on just one page of a 1,000-page application.

    “That’s the stuff that drives people nuts about government, and that’s what the Obama administration should answer for,” he said. “When the president comes back to New Jersey, he is going to have to explain to the people of the state of New Jersey why he is depriving them of $400 million that this application earned them, because one of his bureaucrats in Washington couldn’t pick up the phone and ask a question.”
    Oh, so it’s Obama’s fault for not finding Christie’s error.

    The Repugs like to preach about how the private sector supposedly trumps the public one at every turn. Name for me one business that would condone an episode like this without some type of disciplinary action.

  • Update 1 8/28/10: Oops, looks like Schundler is out after all (here, and nice job on the sprinkler matter noted here, Guv).

    Update 2 8/28/10: And oh yeah, Think Progress makes a good point here about how the Repugs like to treat the unemployed as political punching bags, as TP more or less puts it, until one of their own needs to collect.

    Update 9/1/10: I give you another truly deplorable chapter in the ongoing, utterly ruinous Christie governorship (here - my sympathies to the Katsnelsons).

  • Next, I came across this interesting bit of concern trolling from Joe Trippi at the Fix Noise site (here)…

    Now come the questions: The first question is how well will Charlie Crist do with Democratic voters in November? Can he pull enough Democratic votes away from Meek to sneak past Republican Marco Rubio and win election to the Senate as an independent?

    The White House would clearly prefer a Meek or Crist victory in November. A win by either man could give the president a boost in his re-election bid a little over two years from now.
    For someone who is supposed to represent the Democratic Party, I would say that this is at best a tepid endorsement of Kendrick Meek, the winner of the Democratic primary for Florida’s U.S. Senate contest (I guess, though, that if Trippi did anything except write about the “horserace” and provide analysis with any actual depth or examination of the issues, Fix Noise would never publish him).

    Oh, and one more thing – would it have been too much trouble to point out that Trippi was a paid adviser to Jeff Greene, the “Democrat” Meek defeated in the primary election?

  • Also, what would a day be like without more wankery from former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm (probably a lot more enjoyable – here)…

    Having successfully shut down an estimated 23,000 American oil drilling jobs off the Gulf Coast, citing possible environmental concerns, the Obama administration is now moving on New England fishermen.
    This is the same lie peddled by Smokey Joe Barton yesterday, and here is the same Media Matters link that I used to update yesterday’s post.


    It's rained during much of Obama's latest vacation there. And now the Democratic president is scheduled to be confronted with a flotilla of protesters today off his private estate on the souvenir-laden island of Martha's Vineyard.

    The immediate boating protest is about their claim the feds are using bad science to set extremely limited area fishing allotments, certain to wipe out many traditional private family businesses.

    The fishermen -- possibly involving as many as two dozen vessels -- will be traveling from as far away as New Jersey and all along the Northeastern coastline. Wednesday the noon protest earned the support of the Greater Boston Tea Party.
    Funny, but I cannot recall receiving weather forecasts when Dubya and his pals vacationed anywhere (including the times he “cleared brush” at his “ranch”…you remember, the one Number 43 sold as soon as his misbegotten presidency finally ended and he didn’t have to perpetuate that phony-baloney image of a “regular guy” anymore).

    See, when legitimate journalists do sourcing for their material, they link to the AP, Reuters, McClatchy, etc., or particular individuals such as Dana Priest, Scott Shane, or other accomplished reporters. However, since we’re talking about Malcolm, he links instead to Michelle Malkin, Ed Morrissey and the like to tell us about what appears to be some kind of Obama protest flotilla that is scheduled to appear somewhere near the island (And am I the only one who can smell “astroturf” here, by the way?).

    And as far as the gripes of the fishermen with the NOAA, the following should be noted from here (a Forbes story dated about three weeks ago)…

    BOSTON -- The nation's top fishery managers met Tuesday with industry leaders from California to Maine to discuss ways to improve the troubled fishery law enforcement system amid findings of mismanagement, misspending and questionable fines.

    The summit at a Washington hotel, broadcast on the Internet, followed months of revelations about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's law enforcement division that have fractured relations between the agency and fishermen and have prompted lawmakers to call for the resignation of NOAA head Jane Lubchenco.

    Recent findings by U.S. Commerce Department Inspector General Todd Zinser described the misspending of millions of dollars in fishing fines and showed heavier fines for Northeast fishermen, who have long complained of unfair treatment. Zinser also said the head of the law enforcement division, Dale Jones, wrongly ordered dozens of files shredded during his investigation.

    Jones has since been replaced and NOAA has made various changes to better track fines and mend relations with the industry. NOAA hopes to have broader changes in place by October 2011.
    So it looks to me like the culprit more than Lubchenco here is Jones, an 11-year veteran of NOAA who was replaced in April by Alan Risenhoover, who had been heading NOAA's Office of Sustainable Fisheries.

    Also, the following should be noted from here…

    By including the new NOAA administrator as part of his core science team, Obama gave a boost to NOAA scientists who have long lamented the agency's low stature in Washington -- and who had complained their findings were altered or suppressed during George W. Bush's presidency.

    Lubchenco said she and (her boss, Commerce Secretary and) former Washington Gov. Gary Locke…are in sync on their priorities for NOAA. One shared concern is restoring the West Coast's salmon fishery. Their backgrounds and interests may signal a westward shift of focus in an agency best known for tangling with New England fishermen over the cod collapse and for tracking hurricanes.
    I’m not going to argue that everything is hunky-dory here and Lubchenco and her agency don’t have work to do. Somehow, though, I have a feeling that New England fishermen have been butting heads with Washington bureaucrats for longer than Malcolm would have us believe.

    For a change, though, it appears that Malcolm is actually in an element he knows well, and that would be “fish stories.”

  • Finally, Matt Bai tells us the following (here, in a column featuring Dem U.S. House Rep Earl Blumenauer of Oregon)…

    President Obama’s bipartisan panel on the national debt won’t issue any recommendations for reshaping the budget until after the November elections, but that hasn’t stopped liberals from mobilizing to discredit the panel’s work. This month, more than 70 organizations, including the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and, formed a group, Strengthen Social Security, to pre-emptively oppose the panel’s findings, starting with any reduction in Social Security benefits it might propose. And they are calling on Democrats in Congress to pledge the same.

    The liberal groups that are already speaking out against the debt panel’s unfinished work have chosen to start with Social Security because it is likely to be at the center of any budget compromise. “If there’s a place where it looks like Republicans and Democrats can reach agreement, we’re afraid it’s Social Security,” says Frank Clemente, the director of Strengthen Social Security. (In other words, the two parties might actually work together on something. They must be stopped!)
    You know, it really is shocking that the New York Times actually gives Bai a paycheck, particularly when he writes on this issue (and as an almost humorous counterpoint, the print edition of the paper featured a story on Alan Simpson’s recent outburst on this subject right next to Bai’s column – here and here are updates…and in yet another example of their tone-deafness, the Obama Administration is going to allow Simpson to continue to “serve”).

    The real problem, though, as noted by Atrios and others, isn’t Simpson; the problem is the very existence of the commission itself. And with that in mind, I bring you the actual reporting on this subject that Bai, and the rest of his paper, fails to do (here).

    As firedoglake tells us, this all started last year with a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” chaired by Pete Peterson, the hedge fund billionaire who made his money by not paying his fair share of taxes, and who has pursued a decades-long quest to destroy Social Security and has pledged $1 billion to achieve that goal (and Peterson is no small influence on Obama, who has said that overhauling Social Security would be “a central part” of his administration’s efforts to contain federal spending).

    Well, fortunately, filthy unkempt blogger types such as yours truly raised a ruckus, and Peterson was “disinvited” from the summit.


    In January of 2010, a bill sponsored by committed Social Security slashers Judd Gregg and Kent Conrad which would have created an official Catfood Commission to make recommendations about the nation’s deficit was defeated by the Senate on a bipartisan vote — 22 Democrats and 24 Republicans voted no.

    Undeterred, on February 18, President Obama issued an executive order creating a Catfood Commission anyway.

    Unlike Bill Clinton’s Danforth Commission, which ended in deadlock, Obama set this commission up in such a way that it was stacked with deficit hawks who largely agreed on what needed to be done: 12 of the 18 members were to be appointed by Senate and House leaders in each party, and 6 would be appointed by the President. This virtually guaranteed that Social Security privatization fetishist Paul Ryan would be on the commission, as would Gregg and Conrad.
    And who would be supplying “staffers” to this commission, top-heavy with “hawks” on “reforming” Social Security? Why, Pete Peterson, of course (and there’s a lot of other great reporting by fdl in their post, which to me is reminiscent of what they did on the “Scooter” Libby trial, another story basically ignored by our corporate media)…

    The post concludes with this…

    The Catfood commission is not legitimate. It was stacked with people who knew their job was to fulfill Pete Peterson’s dream of rolling back the New Deal and waging war on the social safety net. It is a committee of oligarchs designed to circumvent electoral repercussions for those who oppose the will of the vast majority of the American people, both Republicans and Democrats, who don’t want to see the federal budget balanced on the backs of the nation’s senior citizens.
    We all know what Bai is and it really doesn’t make sense to belabor the point (receive dictation, type it up to conform to the prescribed narrative, submit it, collect paycheck, show up for happy hour), but it really is shocking that this administration can try to perpetrate this garbage and still wonder why progressives feel no inclination whatsoever to support it.

  • Update: Kudos to mcjoan for this - probably didn't see it because too much smoke was coming out of my ears.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Wednesday Stuff

    I’m not sure about posting tomorrow, and Friday is even more questionable (should be OK with the videos, though).

    By the way, I keep putting up Jon Stewart because he continues to deliver funny and insightful stuff (more here)…

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    The Hurt Talker
    Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

    …and I hope nobody gets freaked out by bright colors.

    Wednesday Mashup (8/25/10)

  • I give you Smokey Joe Barton at The Hill (here)…

    News leaked out this weekend that the Obama administration knew that the moratorium on oil production (in the Gulf) would cost 23,000 jobs, yet rushed ahead anyway and that could be on the low side. The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association predicts 46,200 jobs potentially lost due to the moratorium and a Global Insight analysis says that job losses could reach 120,000 in 2014 if the moratorium is extended beyond six months.

    In fact, Louisiana State University economist Joseph Mason told the Corpus Christi Caller Times, “the moratorium could be more costly than the oil spill itself.”
    I’ll cut Barton a bit of slack on Global Insight, but “The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association” is an oil industry trade group, so of course they’re going to come up with the most dire possible scenario on the job impact of the moratorium (and as a commenter noted here, LSU received over $1 million from ExxonMobil in 2008).

    And as far as moratorium itself is concerned, the following should be noted (from here)…

    … the administration's moratorium covers only new deepwater Gulf drilling; moreover, more than 5,000 Gulf oil wells that are already producing oil and gas reportedly can remain in operation.*
    And as the Houston Chronicle tells us from Media Matters, “the administration's ban on approving new deep-water drilling permits for at least six months and the suspension of deepwater exploration do not affect the 4,515 shallow-water and the 591 deepwater Gulf wells now producing oil and gas.”

    And by the way, can someone explain to me how a moratorium of six months (and believe me when I tell you it will not extend beyond that point) could affect job forecasts about four years into the future?

    As noted here, though, Barton is perhaps Congress’ most notorious offender on the environment (hence his nickname); in 2008, he helped scuttle the Clean Air Interstate Rule, which was aimed at reducing smog and acid rain pollutants from power plants in the eastern half of the country, and he also took a leading role in killing the moratorium on offshore drilling.

    And let’s not forget this charming moment from Smokey Joe also.

  • Update 8/26/10: Gosh, color me shocked - looks like Smokey Joe tried to "snooker" us on that "23,000 jobs" claim (here).

  • Also, I’ll bet you thought we were done with “death panels” in health care reform, didn’t you? Well, Armstrong Williams isn’t (here)…

    The initial stages of ObamaCare death panels have begun by targeting the 40,000 American women killed by breast cancer annually. The FDA has recommended rescinding government approval of Avastin, a treatment for later-stage breast cancer, due to its high cost. Avastin can cost as much as $88,000 annually, but can have significant results in expanding the life of those suffering.

    The federal government needs to stay away from the personal health decisions of Americans. Yes, there are some who wouldn’t care to live longer after suffering from breast cancer. However, there are many women suffering from the illness who would like to spend every extra day possible with their families. Our government doesn’t have the right to withhold that from them.
    Oh, cute.

    As noted here, though…

    The debate over Avastin, prescribed to about 17,500 women with breast cancer a year, has become entangled in the politically explosive struggle over medical spending and effectiveness that flared during the battle over health-care reform: How should the government balance protecting patients and controlling costs without restricting access to cutting-edge, and often costly, treatments?

    The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the recommendation of influential scientific advisers to revoke authorization of the drug to treat metastatic breast cancer. Contrary to initial research, new studies indicate that the benefits of the drug, which costs $8,000 a month, do not outweigh its risks, the advisory panel concluded.

    Citing a dearth of evidence of the drug's effectiveness, its potential toxic side effects, and its high cost, many cancer experts, patient advocates and others are welcoming the prospect that Avastin's authorization for breast cancer might be repealed. But the possibility is alarming other cancer specialists, women taking the drug, some members of Congress and advocates for giving patients as much access to as many treatments as possible.
    Yes, this is a tough call, but it’s one that must be made after a careful review of clinic evidence (and without injecting the rancorous partisan BS that raged over this issue about a year ago).

    And as we know, only the government makes life-or-death decisions about patient treatment partly based on cost.


  • Next, we have this bit of philosophical tut-tutting from Beltway know-it-all Kathleen Parker (here)…

    Given the leadership vacuum, responsibility falls where it must -- to the transformative power of the individual. Enough of us retain a memory of what it means to be American, and it has nothing to do with race, ethnicity, religious belief or the date of one's citizenship. It has to do with a batch of exceptional ideas and a few simple rules of conduct.

    A primer on the latter: Be considerate; tend your garden; mind your own business; lend a hand; keep your clothes on and your hands to yourself; honor your family and your country; don't air your dirty laundry or vocabulary in public. And for God's sake, don't talk about religion. Oh, and resist spectacle.
    That last line is particularly funny when you consider that the author also concocted this based on a certain YouTube video (yes, we all know what John Edwards did to his personal and professional life, but that to me doesn’t absolve Parker in any way whatsoever from failing to “resist spectacle”).

    What exactly was that Pulitzer for again?

  • Finally, I give you the following from National Journal (here)…

    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has some advice for Republicans going into the midterms: Offer more specifics.

    McDonnell told Hotline On Call on Wednesday that he hasn't seen the level of detail in national proposals as he campaigned on in '09.

    "I haven't heard as much as I would like," McDonnell said when asked about specifics in the GOP platform.
    How about “specifics” such as reversing legal protections for gays and lesbians, Bob? Or “specifics” such as appointing Fred Malek to chair a 31-person advisory committee on reforming state government (Malek served under Nixon and, at Nixon’s request, compiled a list of employees at the Bureau of Labor Statistics with “Jewish-sounding names,” since Nixon thought he was being undermined by a “Jewish cabal” – everything in this paragraph can be verified here).

    Oh, and how about “specifics” such as “slamming gays, unwed mothers, and no-fault divorce” as McDonnell did in his college thesis (here)? And let’s not forget “specifics” such as McDonnell’s “Confederate History Month” proclamation that omitted any reference to slavery (here).

    Even though McDonnell is a highly imperfect example for any politician to emulate (something I hope I’ve made clear), I will grudgingly acknowledge that he’s right to call for honesty and transparency in political campaigns.

    And if his fellow Repugs were to follow suit the way they should, it would become easily apparent that they seek only to perpetuate the comfort of the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class and leave the rest of us to cope with an ever-shrinking economy and eroding prospects for the future that our children and families should be entitled to through our hard work and sacrifice (and offering only pointless squabbles over a never-ending parade of “wedge issues” instead).
  • Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Tuesday Stuff

    Yep, it's time for Jon Stewart again (lurching uncontrollably towards the truth, and why am I not surprised - more here)...

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    The Parent Company Trap
    Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

    ....and as noted here, composer George David Weiss recently passed away; this is one of his most famous works.

    Tuesday Mashup Part Two (8/24/10)

    (Part One is here.)

  • In case anyone missed it, yesterday was a really bad day in the “war on brains” (noted herehere is the story from the New York Times)…

    WASHINGTON — A federal district judge on Monday blocked President Obama’s 2009 executive order that expanded embryonic stem cell research, saying it violated a ban on federal money being used to destroy embryos.

    The ruling came as a shock to scientists at the National Institutes of Health and at universities across the country, which had viewed the Obama administration’s new policy and the grants provided under it as settled law. Scientists scrambled Monday evening to assess the ruling’s immediate impact on their work.

    The lawsuit at issue was brought last year on behalf of the adoption agency; two stem cell scientists, Dr. James L. Sherley and Dr. Theresa Deisher; embryos; and others. The judge dismissed the suit last year, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing, meaning they were not materially affected by the rule change.

    But the Court of Appeals reversed that ruling last year, saying the two researchers could be harmed by the new policy since they worked exclusively with adult stem cells and would face increased competition for federal financing under the new policy. After the appeals court ruling, all but Dr. Sherley and Dr. Deisher were dropped as plaintiffs to the suit.
    Oh, and by the way, Drs. Sherley and Deisher were bankrolled by the uber-conservative Alliance Defense Fund; here is more on the players in this drama from Think Progress (and how con-vee-nient that the ADF was “dropped as plaintiffs” now that their legal gambit has worked and their money is no longer needed).

    Continuing with the Times…

    With the case back in his court, Judge Lamberth ruled that the administration’s policy violated the clear language of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, a law passed annually by Congress that bans federal financing for any “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.”

    In rules announced last year, the administration allowed financing of research into any embryonic stem cell lines that either were allowed by the Bush administration or had been created using embryos discarded after fertilization procedures and in which unpaid donors had given clear consent for the embryos to be used for research purposes.

    The Obama administration said that its rules abided by the Dickey-Wicker Amendment because the federal money would be used only once the embryonic stem cells were created but would not finance the process by which embryos were destroyed. The judge disagreed, writing that embryonic stem cell research “necessarily depends upon the destruction of a human embryo.”
    So basically, Judge Royce Lamberth ruled against the plaintiffs, then they filed with the DC Federal Appeals Court, and that court decided that they could sue (again, Think Progress has more on that bunch in the link above). So when they went back to Judge Lamberth, he had to come up with some kind of pretext for allowing the suit to continue.

    One of the problems, though, is that Judge Lamberth’s temporary injunction…

    …returned federal policy to the “status quo,” but few officials, scientists or lawyers in the case were sure Monday night what that meant.

    (Dr. George Q. Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Children’s Hospital Boston) was among those who said they believed that it meant that work financed under the new rules had to stop immediately; others said it meant that the health institutes had to use Bush administration rules for future grants.
    And as the story tells us, Lamberth’s ruling could also extend even to the Bush-era guidelines, so we really could be returning to square one, as it were (as noted here, however, the Obama DOJ plans to appeal).

    In response, I would say that this post, bad language and all, captures pretty accurately how I feel about this.

  • Also, I have to tell you that Joke Line pushed one of my buttons big time yesterday (here, on the supposedly fading electoral fortunes of the congressional Dems and, by extension, President Obama)…

    The idea that these tumultuous anxieties would somehow be addressed if the President behaved more like Reagan is foolish. The idea, promoted by the Democratic Party's myopic left, that being more "progressive" might clarify things and restore the party's status is a fantasy.
    Let’s begin by stating point blank that I never, for a moment, suggested that Obama should act like The Sainted Ronnie R. Also, I always understood the word “myopic” to mean, in this context, lacking foresight or demonstrating a “narrow view” of a particular topic.

    So, then, was the left “myopic” when advocating for the public option in health care reform (here)?

    Were we “myopic” when we said that the “stimulus” was too small last year (here)?

    Were we “myopic” when we said that the President should get the hell out of Afghanistan last year since the al Qaeda presence didn’t justify our troop strength (here)?

    Were we “myopic” when we said that HAMP was an utter failure (here)?

    And are we “myopic” for wondering why the hell Elizabeth Warren is not, at this moment, in charge of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection for which she has personally advocated (here)?

    We know that “punching the DFHs” is something that Klein and his Beltway brethren do as a reflex to just about every story (and almost always in response to adoration of Repug orthodoxy), but when it comes to “myopia,” I would file this under the heading of “physician, stop being such a bloody wanker and heal thyself” (i.e., blame the right-wing noise machine for health care propaganda, but when it goes beyond them, don’t pretend it isn’t happening).

  • Update 9/2/10: And I'm sure Michael Scherer reads Joke Line also (here).

  • Finally, Repug U.S. House Rep Ed Royce tells us the following (here)…

    If it wasn’t bad enough that we lost in the hockey finals to “Our Neighbor to the North” at the Winter Olympics earlier this year, we now trail Canada in a slightly more consequential indicator – economic freedom. Every year the Heritage Foundation issues the Index of Economic Freedom and for the first time in, well ever, we no longer represent the “freest” economy in North America.

    (When it comes to our current economic difficulties) following the Canadian model would help us tremendously. In 1993, Canada faced a deficit of about 9% of its GDP and stagnate growth. Believing that severe cost cutting in the public sector was the only way to sort Canada's finances, the government cut back public spending and converted the deficit into a small surplus. During the following decade, the Canadian economy soared; growing 41 percent.
    In response, I give you the following from Paul Krugman (here)…

    Canada was able to offset the contractionary effects of fiscal austerity through increased exports to a booming US economy…

    Yep, you can have fiscal austerity without contraction if you have a massive devaluation against your main trading partner. So we can have austerity without a new depression as long as all the world’s major economies devalue against … oh, wait.

    And monetary policy, of course, wasn’t up against the zero lower bound, so the Bank of Canada could and did offset fiscal austerity with looser monetary policy (which partly explains the drop in the loonie.)
    (By the way, the “loonie” is the Canadian dollar coin, not necessarily the nickname of last year’s NHL penalty minute leader, Zenon Konopka of the Tampa Bay Lightning :- ).

    Also, as noted in the comments to Krugman’s post, Canada’s economy features (featured?) the following…

    1) A federal Goods and Services tax VAT of 7% on nearly all sales levied in addition to provincial sales taxes.

    2) A large trading partner with a booming economy (Dot com bubble anyone?)

    3) A 1995 Federal budget (that) also increased numerous taxes, including on corporations and banks, and a 1.5 cents per litre increase in gas tax.

    4) Budget cuts (including) agriculture subsidies, corporate welfare, and cuts to Defence (the spelling is a giveaway that we're talking about "The Great White North," of course).
    Oh, and by the way, here is one more feature of the Canadian economy we would do well to emulate (and which was utilized by a moose-hunting former governor). What say you in response, Repugs?

    (cue the sound of crickets…)
  • Monday, August 23, 2010

    Monday Stuff

    I'm sure it is thoroughly not surprising that Iraq remains a highly volatile country - maybe more of our corporate media should pay attention to that, particularly what is noted in the final minute and a half of Rachel Maddow's interview with Richard Engle including their lack of a power-sharing government between Sunnis and Shiites after all this freaking time (though I realize the "gatekeepers" of our discourse are preoccupied with the "ground zero mosque" and whether or not Obama is a Muslim, so they obviously have other priorities)...

    ...and oh yeah, I forgot that they're preoccupied with this stupidity also (as much of a dim bulb as Gohmert is, it's even scarier to consider that plenty of life forms in his district actually voted for him...and as far as Russell Pearce in Arizona is concerned - the clip ends before Maddow can explain - I would give this a look)...

    ...and look at the wonderful result of fearing people of a different culture and ethnicity, or someone presumed to be that way (more here - boy, would I like to know how much some Repug-simpatico astroturf group spent on this)...

    ...and I realize that this video is a complete "180" from the controversy noted above, but I just happened to find it (probably should have put it up about a month or two ago, but oh well).

    Monday Mashup Part Two (8/23/10)

    (Part One is here.)

  • Former Bushie Lurita Doan returned to today to opine as follows (here)…

    Our founding fathers endorsed a fundamental belief in the importance of the presumption of innocence, but recently, the far left seems to be challenging that basic principle.

    Tom DeLay was vindicated when the Justice Department dropped all charges. But, that wasn't good enough for left-wing extremist groups such as CREW that have continued their campaign to besmirch the reputation of the former House Speaker.
    I thought this recent editorial from the New York Times made some good points about the “Bugman” beating the rap, as it were (here)…

    The Justice Department decided last week not to bring charges against Tom DeLay, whose unethical conduct represented a modern low among Congressional leaders. The decision is a reminder that some of Washington’s worst big-money practices remain either legal or far too difficult to prosecute.

    Mr. DeLay, the Texas Republican who had been the House majority leader, crowed that he had been “found innocent.” But many of Mr. DeLay’s actions remain legal only because lawmakers have chosen not to criminalize them. Mr. DeLay’s wife and daughter, for example, were paid more than $500,000 by his political action and campaign committees for “strategic guidance” and event-planning. Others in Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have put family members on the payroll.

    The Justice Department spent six years investigating Mr. DeLay’s relationship to Jack Abramoff, the über-lobbyist who served three years in prison for fraud, corruption and conspiracy. Just to recall: Mr. DeLay, his wife and several staff members took a lavish 10-day golf trip to England and Scotland in 2000. The trip was arranged by Mr. Abramoff and paid for by gambling-industry clients, including the Choctaw Indian tribe. Two months later, Mr. DeLay helped kill a bill to ban Internet gambling — a proposal that the tribe and Mr. Abramoff’s other client feared would hurt their business.

    There were several other trips arranged by Mr. Abramoff and conveniently followed by legislative favors. In 1997, Mr. DeLay and his wife visited the South Pacific island of Saipan. The trip was paid for by the island’s government and garment manufacturers, clients of Mr. Abramoff. Mr. DeLay later helped block a bill that would have required the garment manufacturers to pay workers the minimum wage.
    Doan continues…

    (The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) has declared that Mr. Delay is “one of the most corrupt” members of Congress. But, the Justice Department looked at the evidence and decided that the evidence does not support those charges.

    "Innocent until proven guilty" isn't directly stated in the U.S. Constitution, but it is understood to be a fundamental principle of U.S. juris prudence. When biased groups, such as CREW, try to pass themselves off as objective third parties and try to ram through their flawed sense of moral right or wrong, they undermine citizens' confidence in our system of justice.

    Of course, there is a certain irony in CREW's pretense of objectivity and their, supposedly, objective declaration of Mr. Delay’s guilt since their efforts are made, at least partly, possible with generous funding from George Soros, who may be politically motivated to press such an attack.
    As noted here (near the bottom), Soros “does (not) have any input over CREW's day to day activities.”

    Continuing with Doan…

    This intolerance seems merely the latest manifestation of the age of oversight and investigations where powerful politicians, looking for an edge in forcing legislation or winning an election, find willing allies in the press, special interest groups and federal investigator corps anxious to escalate any “allegation” into a page one scandal.

    For example, Speaker Pelosi's reaction when Americans objected to the building of a mosque at Ground Zero was to call for an investigation into the funding of the protesters. Too often, Americans are seeing congress abusing their positions of power, using investigations to settle policy disputes, preferring to attack using the levers within their control rather than debate the merits of an issue.
    I can’t think of a word to describe the willful ignorance of that observation, considering that Doan, as former head of the GSA, was a charter member of the Bushco gang that, as noted here, used the Patriot Act to try and criminalize the activities of antiwar protesters, which, I would say, goes just a bit beyond trying to find out how their activities were funded.

    It’s fairly plain here that Doan is out to try and settle scores over accusations leveled against her that, while employed by our prior ruling cabal, she quite probably violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government resources – including employees' time or space in a government building – from being used for partisan politics (first item from here).

    Doan finishes by asking “Where does one go to get one’s reputation back?”

    Gee, I don’t know - maybe the same place you would go to find out what happened to the following: $14,000 for Internet dating services and a dinner at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in Orlando, Fla.; $45,000 at Brooks Brothers and similar stores for tailor-made suits — $7,000 of which were purchased a week before Christmas; and $642,000 from 180 convenience checks written by an Agriculture department employee for a live-in boyfriend over a six-year period (all charges on government credit cards that should have been flagged by Doan and her agency, seeing as how they constituted abuses on her watch).

  • Next, we had the following from Repug U.S. House Rep Ted Poe last week (here in the New York Times)…

    The Republican National Committee is demanding that the Census Bureau stop being so nosy, or at least stop requiring that Americans comply.

    The Republican Party isn’t taking on the census itself, the count of the United States population made every 10 years, but the more comprehensive American Community Survey.

    …the Republican National Committee resolved this month that the Census Bureau behaves “exactly as a scam artist would, asking very personal questions,” and called the survey “a dangerous invasion of privacy,” and “overreaching and intimidating.” The committee said the Census Bureau was “spending millions of tax dollars to violate the rights and invade the personal privacy of United States citizens.”

    The resolution invokes the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and notes that the Constitution mandates a count only every 10 years — to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives. The party is demanding that the bureau either scrap the American Community Survey or make participation voluntary.

    The resolution endorses legislation introduced by Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, to require the bureau to stick to the basics: name, contact information, date and the number of people living at an address. A spokesman for Mr. Poe said on Thursday that the bill had attracted 34 co-sponsors.
    With that in mind, we learn the following from this Daily Kos post…

    ..the reluctance of Texas Republicans to complete the Census might be owed to their representation in Congress, which has been quite vocal on the subject…

    The irony, of course, is that the lunatic rants of GOP Congressman like Poe and (Ron) Paul, should they prove successful, will have one near-certain consequence: fewer Republican districts. Meaning, of course, fewer Republican Congressmen.
    Tee hee hee…

  • Next, this Times story tells us the following…

    David A. Moss, an economic and policy historian at the Harvard Business School, has spent years studying income inequality. While he has long believed that the growing disparity between the rich and poor was harmful to the people on the bottom, he says he hadn’t seen the risks to the world of finance, where many of the richest earn their great fortunes.

    Now, as he studies the financial crisis of 2008, Mr. Moss says that even Wall Street may have something serious to fear from inequality — namely, another crisis.

    The possible connection between economic inequality and financial crises came to Mr. Moss about a year ago, when he was at his research center in Cambridge, Mass. A colleague suggested that he overlay two different graphs — one plotting financial regulation and bank failures, and the other charting trends in income inequality.

    Mr. Moss says he was surprised by what he saw. The timelines danced in sync with each other. Income disparities between rich and poor widened as government regulations eased and bank failures rose.

    “I could hardly believe how tight the fit was — it was a stunning correlation,” he said. “And it began to raise the question of whether there are causal links between financial deregulation, economic inequality and instability in the financial sector. Are all of these things connected?
    To which I reply, well, duuuh! (here is some food for thought on that subject…and I should note that this story appeared on the same day as this one in the Times, which was quite rightly commented on by Atrios and others, so it’s possible that it was overlooked).

    I suppose you could file it under the category of “something our corporate media doesn’t give a fig about unless it impacts the investor class” (which is a HUGE category of stories, it should be noted).

    The Times story also tells us the following...

    R. Glenn Hubbard, for instance, who was the top economic advisor to former President George W. Bush, said income inequality was not the culprit in the most recent crisis.

    “Cars go faster every year, and G.D.P. rises every year, but that doesn’t mean speed causes G.D.P.,” said Mr. Hubbard, dean of the Columbia Business School and co-author of the coming book “Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity.”
    This tells us the following about Hubbard who, like Lurita Doan, also served our prior ruling bunch of pirates…

    President Bush also politicized the Council of Economic Advisers, which is supposed to produce straight analysis, not administration spin. CEA staffers complained that top Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey, not even a member of the council, encouraged them to produce data supporting the president's controversial tax cut initiatives. CEA chairman Glen Hubbard also pushed staffers to find literature supporting the questionable argument that tax cuts created job growth.
    Many thanks to the Times for more accountability-free reporting.

  • Finally, I give you the following from the office of Dem U.S. House Rep Patrick Murphy…

    Patrick Murphy Announces New Support for Program to Expand Bucks Manufacturing

    Pennsylvania Congressman visits Quakertown fabric manufacturer, highlights program that helps local small businesses secure American jobs

    (Quakertown, PA) – The Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center (DVIRC) exists to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers in the region develop strategic expansion plans, increase exports, and compete in the Philadelphia area and around the world. But not enough businesses are taking advantage of the help that DVIRC could provide.

    On Thursday August 12, Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-8th District) visited a Quakertown manufacturing company, Fabric Development, to highlight the work that DVIRC does and how companies can learn about and use their services. He also announced that the $185,000 in federal funding he is working to get for DVIRC has cleared a key legislative hurdle toward becoming law.

    “To propel our economy out of the recession, we need to focus on making things in America again,” Murphy said. “I’m committed to connecting small businesses with the resources that will help them succeed, grow, and hire new workers. DVIRC is a key resource, and I’m proud to partner with them to support domestic manufacturing here in Southeastern Pennsylvania.”

    Among other things, DVIRC puts together strategic plans for manufacturing companies looking to expand, improve the efficiency of their operations, or take advantage of new export opportunities. DVIRC will meet with business owners and put together a specific proposal for that company. If the company accepts the proposal, DVIRC will serve as their consultant and help them carry out the expansion plan.

    “Patrick Murphy’s support allows us to help Bucks County manufacturers operate more efficiently and create jobs, even in today’s difficult economic climate,” said Tony Girifalco, Executive VP of DVIRC. “Many of our clients have been able to avoid layoffs or even hire new workers during the recession because of the improvements they’ve made to their operations.”

    “Patrick Murphy understands the needs of small businesses,” said Mary Shafer, General Manager of Fabric Development. “By supporting organizations like DVIRC, he is helping local manufacturers from the ground up, giving us the tools to increase our competitiveness and retain or hire new workers.”

    Fabric Development, a fabric and textile manufacturer with 91 employees, is one of dozens of companies in the region that have benefitted from DVIRC’s services. On Thursday, Shafer addressed the changes her company has made as a result of their partnership. She said the company has adopted new “lean manufacturing techniques” to become more competitive and retain jobs. Shafer credited DVIRC’s strategic plan for the company as a main reason why they have gotten through the economic downturn without having to lay off a single employee.

    To help DVIRC serve more companies, Patrick Murphy is fighting for $185,000 in federal funding that DVIRC will be use to help more small and medium-sized manufacturers develop growth strategies. That funding has been passed by the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee, the first major step toward becoming law. DVIRC would use the funding to develop an Emerging Manufacturing Initiative, a program designed specifically for smaller manufacturers to help them develop growth strategies for their businesses and to become leaders in our regional economy.

    In the past, Murphy has fought for full funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce. DVIRC is part of the national MEP network.

    Companies seeking additional information on DVIRC can click
    To reward our congressman’s good behavior, click here.
  • Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Sunday Stuff

    Hopefully back to posting tomorrow - we'll see...

    I liked Michael Eric Dyson after seeing him on "Real Time" every so often, and I thought he was good again in the clip below from early last week (in response to that idiot Franklin Graham - and speaking of religious propaganda, Frank Rich had a particularly good column on that today)...

    ...and I thought this was an appropriate meditation also.