Tuesday, November 30, 2010

(updated with even more stupid)

I laughed last night when Rumproast's Kevin K. linked to a post by PUMA blogger turned Palin cultist Kevin DuJan (leader, most recently, of the Bristol Palin ballot-box-stuffing campaign for Dancing with the Stars) in which DuJan argued that TSA backscatter machines in airports are a conspiracy to sterilize straight white conservatives:

One of my friends is a pharma rep with two sons.

He and his wife are trying for a daughter.

John flies twice a week for work.

He is convinced the TSA is going to sterilize him…and all the other white, successful, straight guys who make up 80% of flyers.

John thinks this is the point of what the Left is up to…to sterilize men who would most likely oppose them, and Islam, so that a generation from now the Left will have fewer people like John to resist them....

Ah, but that's just the rant of an absurd, self-promoting (and, bizarrely enough, openly gay) blogger, right? We can at least count on the fact that no person with any actual responsibility for public policy could believe anything so absurd ... right?


A conservative Loudoun County lawmaker says controversial airport pat-downs by the Transportation Security Administration are part of a "wide-scale homosexual agenda."

Eugene Delgaudio, a Republican representing Sterling on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, made the comments in a widely distributed e-mail sent in his capacity as president of the conservative nonprofit Public Advocate of the United States.

In the e-mail ... Delgaudio also says the TSA's non-discrimination hiring policy is "the federal employee's version of the Gay Bill of Special rights."

"That means the next TSA official that gives you an enhanced pat-down could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission," he wrote....

Delgaudio has been posturing like this for a long time:

In a petition urging opposition to The Student Non-Discrimination Act introduced in Congress by Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, Delgaudio said the bill would turn America's "playgrounds into homosexual breeding grounds."

In a fundraising and survey appeal, Delgaudio also reportedly said the homosexual agenda in Congress promotes same-sex marriages and adoptions, which will lead to "men hand-in-hand skipping down to adoption centers to 'pick out' a little boy for themselves."...

And there's more at Wikipedia:

He has staged numerous protests outside the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol including a "Perverts for Cellucci" rally opposing the nomination of Paul Celucci as ambassador to Canada [and] a man-donkey wedding to support the Federal Marriage Amendment....

Mr. Delgaudio recently issued a fundraising letter in which he reported the following:

One stormy night I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I'd heard something was up and wanted to see for myself. As I rounded the final turn my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses. Trembling with worry I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined. Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling. My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press. Suddenly a dark-haired man screeched, "Delgaudio what are you doing here?" Dozens of men began moving toward me. I'd been recognized. As I retreated to my car, the man chortled, "This time Delgaudio we can't lose." Driving away, my eyes filled with tears as I realized he might be right. This time the Radical Homosexuals could win.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one of America's fine elected officials. Still believe this country is ready for democracy?

(Via Fox Nation.)


MORE: I almost missed this story about a former government official who's an ideological soul mate of Delgaudio:

Joe Rehyansky, a former official at the Chattanooga, Tennessee, District Attorney's office, recently penned an op-ed opposed to allowing gays in the military, in which he argued that lesbians should be allowed to serve in the armed forces, in part because it would give straight male soldiers a chance to "convert" them.

The statement, which initially appeared at the Daily Caller but has since been removed, served as the apogee to an entirely controversial piece of writing, most of which still remains in the post.

Here's the original ending, now replaced:

My solution would get the distaff part of our homosexual population off our collective "Broke Back," thus giving straight male GIs a fair shot at converting lesbians and bringing them into the mainstream.

(Surely we ought to be aggressive to gays in this way because God knows what they'll do to us if given half a chance!)

And then (via Norwegianity) there's this guy, who's never been in the government but has ties to elected official in Minnesota (and I'm sure you can guess which ones):

Bradlee Dean of the religious ministry You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International believes Rep. Keith Ellison's support for LGBT rights is part of his strategy to bring Sharia law to the United States. On his radio show Saturday, Dean said that members of the LGBT community are fools for supporting Ellison and that he is "adamant about overthrowing the United States Constitution."

... "I said time and time again that there is a correlation between the Muslims and the homosexual agenda, and we have a couple of fools in the state of Minnesota that are putting a rope around their neck and they just don't realize it," said Dean....

"Why is he so adamant about overthrowing the Constitution as it is right now... because if you pay attention to the plow he’s planting the seed," Dean said. “He’s trying to come through with Sharee [sic] law."

... He continued, "Hello? Why is he after it? Because he wants to bring in Sharee [sic] law through the homosexual agenda!"

“They are using the homosexuals as a political battering ram to bring forth what? Sharee [sic] law.”

LGBT leaders in the United States are “ignorant,” Dean said, for allowing Ellison to serve as co-chair of the House LGBT Caucus.

“What is Keith up to? I think we have to ask the question, Keith,” said Dean. “I’m just asking the gay communities what’s up with Keith Ellison because they are so foolish, blind and stupid not to figure out that their vice chair is a Muslim. This is no hidden secret, folks. This is in America. Who is this guy working for?” ...

If you can follow this, you're smarter than I am. Maybe these folks can:

Dean and his ministry have c*lose ties to the Republican Party and GOP elected officials and candidates including gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Secretary of State and current state Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, and state Rep. Dan Severson. Rep. Michele Bachmann has fundraised for the group extensively in recent years as well.

As you may already know, Congressman Joe Barton of Texas has declared war -- literally -- on the Obama administration:

... The [House Energy and Commerce Committee]'s ranking Republican, Rep. Joe L. Barton (Tex.), has a slide presentation that he's e-mailing to colleagues, pledging to do for the administration what Gen. George Patton and company did for Germany.

... the money slide, titled: "What's in Store for the Obama Administration," [contains] photos of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Generals Omar Bradley and George Patton in uniform.

"Speaker Boehner is our Dwight Eisenhower in the battle against the Obama Administration. Majority Leader Cantor is our Omar Bradley. I want to be George Patton -- put anything in my scope and I will shoot it." ...

If you're wondering, Joe Barton was born in 1949 and never served a day in the military, even at the height of the Vietnam War. After graduating from Waco High School, he attended Texas A&M, receiving a B.S. in industrial engineering in 1972. He then got a master's at Purdue in 1973, and by that time, well, U.S. involvement in the war was winding down, wasn't it?

Incidentally, Barton's birthdate is September 15. For 1970, the year he turned 21, the top date in the military draft lottery was September 14. That means some poor sons of bitches who were born a day before Barton, and who weren't fortunate enough to obtain a four-year Gifford-Hill Opportunity Award scholarship like Barton, were sent to die in his place.

"General Omar" Cantor (b. 1963) has also never served. "Ike" Boehner (also b. 1949) enlisted in the Navy after high school, but was honorably discharged after eight weeks, reportedly for a bad back (which apparently doesn't impede his golf game these days).


YES, I KNOW: I'm overlooking the Hitler subtext. Well, obviously that's there, but I also see this as the standard-issue right-wing self-mythologizing, which often takes a military bent. Teabaggers imagine themselves as the folks who fought in the Revolutionary War; right-wing message boards use the phrase "Eagles up!" as a euphemism for "Hold on to your Cheetos, this will make you angry"; and now this.

Yesterday I noted that the wingnuttosphere seemed awfully quiet in response to news that Hillary Clinton directed U.S. diplomats at the UN to spy on their counterparts from other nations. Was the Hitlery/Hildebeast meme really dead on the right? It seemed that way yesterday -- but not today:

Also Fox Nation is front-paging this Dick Morris blog post:


The Wikileaks documents show that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has, as Voltaire said about the Bourbon kings of France, learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Her request that American diplomats at foreign postings and the United Nations gather personal data about their foreign counterparts is eerily reminiscent of her use of private detectives to unearth negative information on those who were politically inconvenient during the husband’s campaigns for president and his White House tenure.

At the time, I called these operatives, the “secret police.” Now, apparently, we call them the “diplomatic corps.”

The Wikileaks documents show that you can not only not teach an old dog new tricks, but you can’t stop her from doing the ones she has always done....

Yes, Condoleezza Rice did the same thing Hillary did, but -- somehow -- that doesn't disprove the fact that this reveals something horrible and rotten in Hillary's soul:

The fact that this current State Department covert operation was initiated under Secretary Rice does not lessen Hillary’s guilt for having pursued it. Mrs. Clinton, not Miss Rice, has run for president and is presumed to continue to be interested in the job. Her addiction to spies, dumpster divers, sleuths, and negative research operatives have always been a cause for concern.

Um, actually Hillary has said she'll never again run for elected office. But that was earlier this month, and in Dick Morris's mind it's always 1998.

My favorite part of the Morris blog post?

The jury has been out on how well Hillary is performing as Secretary of State. I have always been critical of her riding on her husband's name to achieve fame and power. But when she was appointed Secretary of State, clearly despite her husband rather than because of him, I felt it prudent to withhold judgment.

Scroll past this and you'll see that Morris links to two columns he wrote back when he was "withhold[ing] judgment": "HILLARY NOMINATION WOULD BE AN OBAMA-NATION" and "HILLARY APPOINTMENT: THE AUDACITY OF BROKEN PROMISES."

Oh, there's also this clip of Morris telling Sean Hannity that Hillary's acting like a big commie:

Elsewhere, the Fox-o-sphere is calling Obama a weakling: Bill O'Reilly says no one in the world fears the president, while Ralph Peters calls Obama a "gutless wonder."

Which means we're looking at the two quintessential evil-liberal archetypes: the all-powerful totalitarian and the limp-wristed stumblebum, in the persons of Clinton and Obama. Somehow, Democrats are always both of these things at once.


Meanwhile, Slate's Jack Shafer says Hillary will have to resign, not because she's evil but because that's what diplomats do when they get involved in espionage and are caught. So: the usual right-plus-center pile-on? Or will Hillary survive?

Forbes has published an interview with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, and the big newsbreak is this:

The founder of whistle-blower website WikiLeaks plans to release tens of thousands of internal documents from a major U.S. bank early next year, Forbes Magazine reported on Monday....

Asked what he wanted to be the result of the disclosure, he replied: "I'm not sure. It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume." ...

Like Kevin Drum, I see the likelihood of more good coming from this than from the current batch of leaks, but I think Digby is right as well -- Assange alludes to Enron, and she says, in reference to that:

Remember, they arrested Enron's big shots Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, but it didn't mean a thing to the Big Money Boyz. They carried on without losing a step. Its something to think about.


My problem with Assange's worldview is this: he seems to believe that everything that's kept secret is kept secret for a sinister reason, and that the most sinister stuff is likely to be whatever is kept secret. It doesn't seem to occur to him that an awful lot of what's malignant in modern life is legal, is traceable (and has been traced), and is hiding in plain sight. And he doesn't seem to grasp that, for instance, it's not always a bad thing that people are frank in their communications with one another -- it's OK for diplomats to express opinions they can't express publicly. The nasty contempt expressed by some Enron employees was a secret worth revealing, but it was a symptom, not the disease itself.

Oddly, Assange seems to believe what he believes because he's under the sway of theories of capitalist purity, as he explains elsewhere in the interview:

Would you call yourself a free market proponent?

Absolutely. I have mixed attitudes towards capitalism, but I love markets. Having lived and worked in many countries, I can see the tremendous vibrancy in, say, the Malaysian telecom sector compared to U.S. sector. In the U.S. everything is vertically integrated and sewn up, so you don't have a free market. In Malaysia, you have a broad spectrum of players, and you can see the benefits for all as a result.

How do your leaks fit into that?

To put it simply, in order for there to be a market, there has to be information. A perfect market requires perfect information.

There's the famous lemon example in the used car market. It's hard for buyers to tell lemons from good cars, and sellers can't get a good price, even when they have a good car.

By making it easier to see where the problems are inside of companies, we identify the lemons. That means there's a better market for good companies. For a market to be free, people have to know who they're dealing with....

It's not correct to put me in any one philosophical or economic camp, because I've learned from many. But one is American libertarianism, market libertarianism. So as far as markets are concerned I'm a libertarian, but I have enough expertise in politics and history to understand that a free market ends up as monopoly unless you force them to be free....

So Assange really seems to believe the libertarian notion that markets could function with perfect efficiency if there could be perfect transparency. And he seems to believe that about governments as well.

But lack of transparency isn't the only problem these systems have. We know a hell of a lot, for instance, about how we got into our current financial morass -- bookshelves groan with analyses -- and yet we don't have the national will to punish the guilty. Yes, I know the public is disgrunted and it's the government that's failing to do the punishing, but the people aren't out in the streets demanding that punishment be meted out; the midterms didn't turn on promises to get tough on the malfeasors (or on, say, BP, whose most prominent defender, Joe Barton, was reelected earlier this month).

Some of what Assange releases is good for the public to know, some isn't, and some -- I'd say quite a bit of the current document dump -- actually harms the public good. But Assange thinks all secret knowledge is good to know, and he seems to think all evil stems from secrecy. And that's just not right.

Monday, November 29, 2010


You may already know that President Obama has announced that he's freezing the pay of federal workers, excluding uniformed military personnel, for two years. Steve Benen responds:

For all I know, this might polls well. The public in general may like the idea of freezing these workers' pay, and the move will likely generate at least tepid praise from congressional Republicans.

But it's exceedingly annoying anyway, and I wish the White House wouldn't do stuff like this.

For one thing, it's really not what the economy needs. Granted, we're not talking about a lot of money, but to grow the economy, we need workers to have more money in their pockets, not less. A pay freeze is an anti-stimulus.

For another, if the White House expects a political reward for this, officials are likely to be disappointed....

I also assume this would poll well. Earlier in the year, New Jersey governor Chris Christie was struggling in public opinion polls in his home state -- but voters, including Democrats and those in union households, overwhelmingly favored curbing state workers' pay, and as he's been more confrontational with state employee unions, Christie's poll numbers have risen. And this is in what's usually regarded as a blue state. (Recent polls indicate that there's majority support in New Jersey for layoffs of state workers.)

So I understand why the White House is doing what it's doing -- government workers are a very easy scapegoat at this moment.

But Steve Benen is right about the futility of using this move as a negotiating tactic. Republicans aren't going to give him anything in return for this. First of all, they don't believe any quid from Democrats ever justifies a quo. Ever. Everyone but (apparently) the people in the White House understands that by now. Second, Republicans just don't think a freeze amounts to much.

We know this is dead on arrival because Fox Nation is already up with a post declaring the pay freeze "bogus," according to the well-known fiscal experts Rush Limbaugh, also cited is Jim Hoft of the blog Gateway Pundit, who calls the freeze "Kabuki." Reason? They say it's because federal workers now make double what private-sector counterparts make. They say this is something "the state-run media won't tell you," but their source is an August article from that radical samizdat publication USA Today, and they leave out a few details when they tell you this:

"Federal workers have been awarded bigger average pay and benefit increases than private employees for nine years in a row."

So this began back when we had an all-Republican federal government. (And please don't tell me that right-wingers have learned the error of their ways and now loathe George W. Bush for this kind of thing -- his book is still #1 at Amazon, and not even Sarah Palin can dislodge him.)

"Public employee unions say the compensation gap reflects the increasingly high level of skill and education required for most federal jobs and the government contracting out lower-paid jobs to the private sector in recent years."

Which is plausible. But no explanation is likely to damp down the outrage in this environment, especially when Republicans' baseline is something like this:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who will head the panel overseeing federal pay, says he wants a pay freeze and prefers a 10% pay cut. "It's stunning when you see what's happened to federal compensation," he says. "Every metric shows we're heading in the wrong direction."

Obama would probably need to announce an across-the-board 10% cut and staffing cuts -- and even then Republicans would say that had to be the minimum, and wouldn't offer anything in return.

So I understand the temptation to do this. But it's pointless.

A Palin tweet:

Right! Why can't the U.S. government be as security-conscious as Palin and her publisher, who's whose book ... um, was also leaked and therefore exposed to millions of people in an unauthorized manner? Hunh? Hunh? What's up with that?

Why doesn't the U.S. government just, like, sue Assange or something, so all those diplomatic communications can be un-leaked, and then everyone could just un-read the documents?


AND: thebewilderness asks in comments:

Do you suppose that Republicans actually think that citizens from other countries are required to demonstrate loyalty to the US or they will be tried for treason?

Answer: Yes, as we learned from the reaction to previous Wikileaks (and not exclusively from the Murdoch-aligned).


UPDATE: I always forget that after the Palin tweet we inevitably get the extended dance remix on Facebook, after a staffer has had the time to turn Palin's habitual angry foot-stamping into what seems like an essay in more or less coherent English prose. That doesn't mean these FB posts are worth anyone's attention; this one is noteworthy only for the following:

He [Julian Assange] is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?

You mean what, Sarah -- a shooting war? An unmanned drone attack on Assange's house? What's your plan?

And since I see I'm not the only person asking this, and since neither Palin nor anyone else in the current crop of wingnuts can ever climb down from a position once it's asserted, I assume that President Palin actually will have Assange killed if she gets the chance -- just 'cuz we laughed.


UPDATE: Embarrassing homonym error corrected.

Wikileaks III is the kind of story that makes me regret I ever started blogging -- everyone's talking about it, which means no one wants to read anything you might want to post about anything else, even though everything that can possibly be said about Topic A is being said by other people.

And the Wikileaks dumps have the striking ability to paralyze us with monomania even though there's really not all that much in them that would attract the attention of the non-pros and non-wonks among us if it showed up in conventional news stories. Purloined documents seem to be to the blogosphere what captured video is to TV news -- on TV, you know that a number of stories are aired not because the facts in them are what people want or need to know, but because really cool video is available. That seems to be how we all feel about dumped documents. The dumpedness is what draws us.

So, sorry, I'm not the go-to guy for smart, informed comment on this. I will note that, as an old guy who remembers the 1990s, I'm still conditioned to expect certain knee-jerk media reactions to stories involving the Clintons -- and yet here we are, learning that Hillary Clinton signed a directive ordering American diplomats to spy on representatives from other countries at the UN, yet no one is fitting the news into the old narrative of Hillary as an evil, sinister, power-mad behind-the-scenes schemer. Really? No one? Emmett Tyrrell? David Horowitz? Sally Quinn? Hello? I know, I know -- the right-wingers who establish the terms of the debate in this country hate furriners and the UN, so this isn't a bad thing. Still, she was the original Big Sis, right? She was Hitlery, dammit! They told us she terrorized a nation! And now nothing?

Sunday, November 28, 2010


First of all, a round of applause for Zandar, for excellent blogging while I was gone. Thank you, Zandar.

And now I see we're back to discussing the fact that everything is an unqualified disaster and no one seems to have an inkling of a possible way out, or even an accurate diagnosis of the problem. At the Mahablog, Barbara O'Brien is right to disagree with Frank Rich's insistence that there's widespread awareness of the harm caused by

the big money that dominates our political system, regardless of who's in power. Two years after the economic meltdown, most Americans now recognize that that money has inexorably institutionalized a caste system where everyone remains (at best) mired in economic stasis except the very wealthiest sliver.

Barbara says:

He's right that big money has inexorably institutionalized a caste system where everyone remains (at best) mired in economic stasis except the very wealthiest sliver. But I think he's wrong that "most Americans now recognize" that. I'm not sure they do. Or, if they suspect something, too many don't suspect the big money supporting their end of the political spectrum and pulling their strings; they just suspect the other side's big money.

In the center, where low-information and not-so-low-information swing voters reside, I think people have been so conditioned to ignore class issues that, yes, when a pollster asks them about big, unaccountable money in politics they say it's a bad thing, but they don't see any real way of fighting the plutocracy and they don't really even recognize tht the central thing they need to do is fight the plutocracy. On the left, some of us embrace Democrats, in the hope that they'll be on the side of people, or at least less on the side of the special interests, enough of the time, which kinda works when we're in a relatively comfortable period economically, but doesn't work when we have one of our periodic crashes, because ordinary people are always expected to pay whenever that happens. Alternately, some of us on the left rail against "the two-party duopoly," though no one who talks that way has a plan for how to construct an entire government that would institute progressive change -- the best we get is that a Ralph Nader or Nader-like substitute would become president and somehow magically push progressivity past the same old Democrats and Republicans in Congress, the media, and the business community, or that some voting innovation (instant runoff voting!) would magically flood the system with lefties.

And meanwhile, Jeffrey Rosen notes in The New York Times Magazine reminds us yet again of a peculiar but widespread belief system on the right that, preposterously, channels anti-plutocrat anger in a theocratic but economically libertarian direction. I'm talking, of course, about our old pals the Cleon Skousen fans. Skousen, of course, is the now-deceased nutjob whose rantings have been popularized by Glenn Beck. Rosen notes that the newly elected Senator from Utah, Mike Lee, is a hardcore Skousenite:

Many of the positions Lee outlined on the campaign trail appear to be inspired by the constitutional guru of the Tea Party movement, W. Cleon Skousen, whose 1981 book, "The 5,000-Year Leap," argued that the founding fathers rejected collectivist "European" philosophies and instead derived their divinely inspired principles of limited government from fifth-century Anglo-Saxon chieftains, who in turn modeled themselves on the Biblical tribes of ancient Israel.... Skousen argued that a dynastic cabal, including international bankers like the Rockefellers and J. P. Morgan, conspired to manipulate both Communism and Fascism to promote a one-world government.

Regular readers know I write about this all the time, but there it is again: the absurd notion that plutocrats are bad because they're commies. This serves to acknowledge whatever anger there is in the heartland against fat cats who've gotten away with murder while letting those fat cats off the hook for, y'know, the capitalism. See, they're not our enemies because they make buttloads of money while we get the crumbs; they're our enemies because -- only because -- they're in bed with government.

The argument is that there's a theoretical capitalism that would some leave more of the pie to the rest of us if business were regulated less. (I believe we tested this notion in the Gilded Age and the rest was a lot of starving waifs sleeping under bridges, but many of the 'baggers believe in it.)

As liberals, we believe that the legislation of the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society helped ordinary citizens and made the rich a little less able to grab all the pie; to the Skousenites, all that legislation just helped "the elites." And "the elites" are both the fat cats and the liberals who've tried to put some curbs on the fat cats' economic power. We think we're in conflict with the fat cats. The Skousenites think we're two peas in a pod. And right now, there are a hell of a lot more Skousenites in America than liberals.

I present all this, but I don't have any idea what to do about it, except my usual answer: somehow we need to make more liberals. Somehow we need more ordinary citizens who understand why citizen outrage backing effective, progressive government regulation and tax policy is the only way we can be a counterweight to the plutocrats. And no, I still have no bloody idea how that can happen.

The bailout for Ireland is here, and nobody's happy with it.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said his government has completed 10 days of negotiations on an EU-IMF bailout of his debt-crippled country and expects European financial chiefs to ratify the deal Sunday in Brussels.  

Cowen said in a statement issued by his office that talks which began Nov. 18 in Dublin with International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank experts "are concluding today" in Brussels. He says the Irish Cabinet met late Saturday to approve the plans. 

Cowen said he expects finance ministers of all 27 EU members to "adopt" the loan plans for Ireland. 

The question now is which Eurozone country will be next.  The smart money's on Portugal, but it turns out there's a host of European countries that have a higher debt-to-GDP ratio higher than Ireland does:  Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, Hungary, Portugal, and yes, the UK and Germany do as well.  (Japan's national public debt is now nearing twice its yearly GDP, for the record.)

Word is the EU is now operating on a permanent solution to the problem.

Under pressure to take dramatic action to arrest a systemic threat to the euro, the leaders of Germany and France, the EU's two central powers, agreed in principle with top EU officials on the broad lines of a permanent crisis-resolution mechanism.

Crucially, private bond holders would be expected to share the burden of any future sovereign debt restructuring of a euro zone country on a case-by-case basis, the source said.

And if Europe is considering making the investor class take some of the bailout burden, you know things are deadly serious.  Will the United States ever follow suit?

Saturday, November 27, 2010


When the media doesn't pay enough attention to Sarah Palin's antics (her book tour, her holiday Facebook manifestos, her show on TLC, her daughter on Dancing With The Stars), it's because we have a "liberally biased media that can't handle a strong female Republican media figure."

So when the media does pay attention to her, it's because they're obsessed with her, see.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: I should explain again as I do every week to the viewers as a kind of a viewer's guide that this is the weekly Sarah Palin segment in which the impression is given that the whole of conservatism in America is encapsulated in this one glorious woman?

PETERSON: Why do you oppose her candidacy if she has one?

KRAUTHAMMER: I never took a position on her candidacy. I am making a comment on the editorial judgment of this show in which she is prominently figured week after week, which is I think in the liberal imagination she is and will always be the only representative of conservatism of any importance.

COLBY KING, WASHINGTON POST: She is the most significant Republican, conservative around. She brought this your party back from oblivion to this wonderful state that it is in now...


KING: ...where the nation’s Democrats are quaking in their wake.

KRAUTHAMMER: You see what I mean?

KING: You ought to be proud of her. The elites, the elitists in the Republican Party puts this poor woman from Wasilla down. I think it’s a shame.

KRAUTHAMMER: Perfect evidence of how liberals are obsessed with Sarah Palin.

And it's the perfect no-win game.  The media cannot win either way when it comes to Palin.  If they report on her, it's evil bias against her.  If they ignore her, it's evil bias against her.  No matter what happens, Palin wins and the media loses, because Palin and the Republicans change the script to fit every time.  If the media bites on her self-serving narcissism, they're consumed with trying to destroy her.  If they take the high road and ignore her obvious news-generating gambits, they're misogynist "lamestream media".

The great part is the Village media is doing it to themselves.  She drives copy.  They can't not cover her, but if they do she rails against them.  She's grown too powerful to dismiss out of hand as a result.  They can't turn her off, so it becomes a mutual feeding frenzy instead.

She gets to sit in the eye of her hurricane and watch the damage around her.  And yet common sense would dictate that it's Sarah Palin obsessed with her own constant efforts to be newsworthy, outrageous, and omnipresent.  The Village is glad to enable her.  Krauthammer bemoans the media's obsession, and yet Palin refuses to stay out of the news for even 24 hours with her family's spectrum-saturating shenanigans, designed to create as much news as possible.

He's right in a sense that the media is enabling this behavior, in which case Krauthammer might want to see if he can convince her to tone it down.  Good luck with that.  The love/hate relationship will continue until one of them decides they don't need the other anymore.  Sadly, that won't be until at least early 2012.

The last two years in the Senate have seen some historic legislation, but it has also seen the loss of three great Senators, Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, and now the last true champion of civil liberties, Russ Feingold.  Slate's Dahlia Lithwick and Dave Weigel ask who will fill the Wisconsin Senator's shoes, and their answers are few and and very far between.

Civil rights and civil liberties activists now need a senator willing to go to the mat on these issues, knowing that he'll probably lose, yet hoping that he can shave off the worst bits of legislation with savvy and stubbornness. Feingold chaired the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and was next in line to take over the Foreign Relations Committee. Just as important, he was able to command the attention of the media. (Watch him explain the implications of allowing the government to listen to your overseas phone calls.) It's not clear to the civil liberties crowd who can keep this up in the Senate.

Their candidates, Minnesota's Al Franken and Rhode Island's Sheldon Whitehouse, could follow in Feingold's footsteps, but as far as filling his shoes, that will be an entirely different story.  Feingold was the only Senator who voted against the Patriot Act, and both Franken and Whitehouse voted to extend the measure when it came up again for a vote.

I personally think Feingold's ironic loss, his own legislation limiting campaign finance rules was struck down by the Roberts Court, and his Tea Party corporate opponent Ron Johnson unloaded enough of an advertising tsunami with his now unlimited money to bury Feingold, is the most depressing sign of 2010.  Feingold was sacrificed on the altar of his own accomplishments.

There's not his like in the Senate.  Not unless you think Rand Paul is really champion of civil liberties.

We're already hearing how "Obama got lucky again" stopping last night's attempted car bomb at a tree lighting ceremony in Oregon.  Luck had nothing to do with it.  The FBI had this guy cold and the public was never in danger.  Procedure triumphed here.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He is a resident of Corvallis, Oregon, and a student at Oregon State University, according to the FBI.

Mohamud was arrested by the FBI and Portland Police Bureau after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van that was parked near the tree-lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Justice Department said in a written statement. However, "the materials were not explosive," said Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd, who called the device a "mock bomb."

"The threat was very real. Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale," said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. "At the same time, I want to reassure the people of this community that, at every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack."

The arrest was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation during which Mohamud had been monitored closely as his alleged bomb plot developed, the Justice Department said. Officials said the public was never in danger from the device.

Law enforcement worked here.  The FBI should be commended for doing its job admirably and gathering overwhelming undercover evidence at every step of the way.  Hopefully this guy will go away for a very, very long time and this will send a message that yes, we know we're onto people who would harm Americans this way.  I have zero sympathy for these terrorist bastards or their agenda, but the point here is that our existing law enforcement procedures worked perfectly here.

That's something we should all be proud of.  Government worked to protect us as it should.

[UPDATETintin at Sadly, No! catches Jim "Gateway Pundit" Hoft miss the whole "never in any danger from the mock FBI device" thing because that's a pesky fact that doesn't fit into Hoft's whole fair and balanced "Obama nearly got half of Portland killed IMPEACH!" narrative.

Friday, November 26, 2010


President Obama now officially has a Big Fat Alan Simpson Needs To Go problem on his hands.

The co-chair of President Barack Obama's bipartisan deficit commission lashed out at seniors Wednesday because they are unhappy with his ideas for reducing the deficit by cutting Social Security benefits while reducing corporate taxes. 

"I've never had any nastier mail or [been in a] more difficult position in my life," Simpson told Jeremy Pelzer at the Casper Star-Tribune. "Just vicious. People I've known, relatives [saying], 'You son of a bitch. How could you do this?'"

The draft report released by Simpson along with co-Chair Erskine Bowles proposed raising the retirement age to 69 by 2070. Additionally, 90 percent of Social Security income would be taxable, as opposed to 82.5 percent as is currently projected.

Critics of the proposal have dubbed the group the "catfood commission" because seniors who see their benefits cut would have to reduce their expenses or find additional sources of income.

"We had the greatest generation," Simpson said. "I think this is the greediest generation."

Whether or not he's right is one thing.  Having him say this in earshot of a reporter is quite another.  Oh, but it gets worse.

Referring to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow as "that," the commission co-chair blamed political polarization for the attacks on him.

"You don't want to listen to the right and the left -- the extremes," he said. "You don't want to listen to Keith Olbermann and Rush Babe [Limbaugh] and Rachel Minnow [sic] or whatever that is, and Glenn Beck. They're entertainers. They couldn't govern their way out of a paper sack -- from the right or the left. But they get paid a lot of money from you and advertisers -- thirty, fifty million a year -- to work you over and get you juiced up with emotion, fear, guilt, and racism. Emotion, fear, guilt, and racism."

Awesome.  He's really blaming the press for actually telling people what he recommended in his own publicly released report.   Furthermore, he's actually upset because he doesn't understand why any rational American would be angry about a plan that cuts Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid benefits in order to lower the tax rate for the richest Americans.  That's something in Alan Simpson's worldview that we should be glad to accept, that it's the natural order of things for us peons, and why can't we just acknowledge that?

"Let them eat cake" is one thing.  This is far more sinister in its implications.  And yet Simpson here represents the prevailing Village Serious Centrist viewpoint: Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh are exactly the same (except Maddow is a fish/inanimate object).  They are extremists outside the worldview of Simpson, as is anyone who isn't a Beltway insider.  Only the Serious Village People in the middle can "govern" and by govern that means make the little people suffer, because that's what the powerful are supposed to do to the small.  If you're poor to the point where you actually need Social Security "handouts", then you're "greedy" and that's your damn fault.  What good are you to Simpson?

Spoken like a man who really, really despises your average American like only a rich and powerful former Senator can.

And yet the larger problem is that President Obama is the one who asked Simpson to help craft this plan. He might want to do something about that.

I remember shooting hoops with my dad and brothers in the driveway after Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma's house most years.  President Obama has a similar tradition, only somebody played for keeps this time out.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President received a dozen stitches after getting hit with an errant elbow during a Friday morning basketball game with White House aide Reggie Love and some unidentified family members at the Fort McNair military base in Washington.

A senior administration official said the cut was not caused by Love, a former player for Duke University who serves as the President's personal assistant, but the official was still checking for more details on who caused the accident.

"After being inadvertently hit with an opposing player's elbow in the lip while playing basketball with friends and family, the President received 12 stitches today administered by the White House Medical Unit," said Gibbs. "They were done in the doctor's office located on the ground floor of the White House."

Clinton jogged, Bush biked, Obama plays hoops.  Hope the guy's alright.  Whoever did throw that elbow has to be pretty mortified, at any rate.  Glad the President is alright.

I've seen worse accidents around my family.  Then again, my hoops games never made national news, either.  But are we really going to make a national issue about who fouled the President when we really do have much bigger things to worry about?
Former Bush speechwriter turned idiot Michael Gerson (How many friggin' former speechwriters have Republicans unleashed upon the Village, anyhow?) puts on his tinfoil hat and denies anything in the last decade has happened that isn't Obama's fault.  Guess he's sore about not making Salon's Hack 30.

Greg Sargent takes him to task on the notion that liberals are making up the part of the GOP wanting to destroy Obama.

And guess what: Some Republicans have actually admitted on the record that this was indeed the case. Here, for instance, is Mitch McConnell, in March of 2010, stating outright that Republicans calculated that they had to deny Obama bipartisan support on health reform at all costs -- the specifics of the legislation be damned -- specifically because the public would perceive it as a victory for Obama and Dems and would be more likely to support his initiative:
"It was absolutely critical that everybody be together because if the proponents of the bill were able to say it was bipartisan, it tended to convey to the public that this is O.K., they must have figured it out," Mr. McConnell said about the health legislation in an interview, suggesting that even minimal Republican support could sway the public. "It's either bipartisan or it isn't."
More famously, Jim DeMint said outright that defeating health reform was crucial if Republicans were to succeed in destroying Obama:
"If we're able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him. And we will show that we can, along with the American people, begin to push those freedom solutions that work in every area of our society."
More recently, of course, McConnell flatly stated that his primary goal is to ensure Obama is a "one term president," and even subsequently doubled down on that assertion.

Kinda hard for Gerson to deny the GOP plan when top Republicans freely admit to it.

When FOX's only goal is to make things up about Obama so they can attack him, why not use articles from The Onion to do it?  They're already made up and it's not like anyone will care to know the difference over there.

Most people recognize The Onion as the Peabody Award-winning satire machine that it is. Some people, however, don’t. Which is why we get a story like this every few months. Of course, it’s sometimes easy to mistake an Onion article for the real thing since the writers make sure to skew as close to their targets as possible. It also doesn’t hurt when real news outlets reprint the satirists work and decide not to let their readers know it’s a joke, as Fox Nation did today.

Yes, the Fox Nation editors were apparently so enamored with an Onion piece from today entitled “Frustrated Obama Sends Nation Rambling 75,000-Word E-Mail” that they reposted the first two paragraphs in their culture section with nary a sign as to its fictional nature. The only clue that this wasn’t real (besides a quick peek at your inbox to confirm that Barack Obama hasn’t been emailing you) was a link at the bottom instructing readers to go to TheOnion.com for the real story. This tiny link was, unfortunately, not enough for the vast majority of FN readers. At least, that’s the way it seems from the comments section.

And so "Obama e-mailed The Nation HERP DERP" will join the vast line of Obama lies, mistruths, and fabrications put forth as reality in the FOX world.  A vast majority of FOX folks don't ever bother to check the validity of what they're hearing or seeing, and they wouldn't care to know the truth anyway.  It interferes with their righteous indignation high that helps them feel better about themselves by hating the man.

Hell, FOX should just post Onion articles on a regular basis and pass them off as news.  It'll be great for "winning the morning".  FOX's cynicism has reached new lows.

We report (the lie), you decide to believe it anyway.

Via Rumproast, I see that not even Thanksgiving is safe from Sarah Palin's desperate attempts to win the news cycle at all costs, and that the only thing you need to know is that the media is unremittingly evil should it ever reveal that she is less than a goddess.  She takes to Facebook to perform the Turkey Day political equivalent of your Aunt Edna getting smashed on a box of wine at the family dinner and then declaring that none of you ever really loved her anyway.

If the media had bothered to actually listen to all of my remarks on Glenn Beck’s radio show, they would have noticed that I refer to South Korea as our ally throughout, that I corrected myself seconds after my slip-of-the-tongue, and that I made it abundantly clear that pressure should be put on China to restrict energy exports to the North Korean regime. The media could even have done due diligence and checked my previous statements on the subject, which have always been consistent, and in fact even ahead of the curve. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story? (And for that matter, why not just make up stories out of thin air – like the totally false hard news story which has run for three days now reporting that I lobbied the producers of “Dancing with the Stars” to cast a former Senate candidate on their show. That lie is further clear proof that the media completely makes things up without doing even rudimentary fact-checking.)

And actually the media makes up stuff all the time.  You know, like President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim or he has a secret army of millions or that he's indoctrinating our schoolchildren.  And yet, President Obama finds a way to run the damn country instead of going on Facebook on Thanksgiving and screaming how he's a victim, and that life is unfair, and that the nation's first African-American President is being held to a higher standard and that all you people suck.

Instead, President Obama continues with his job of being President of the United States, which is a much more difficult job than Governor of Alaska (Sarah Palin couldn't handle because it was hard and stuff and book tours are a lot more fun.)

Everybody makes gaffes.  Ask Joe Biden.  It's how you respond to them that counts, and Sarah Palin only seems to be worried about petty recriminations and looking to blame everybody but herself.  Bob Cesca continues to say it best:  Palin is nothing more than a tween girl on the internet who thinks life is a giant high school popularity contest.

I don't think Palin is completely unqualified to be President because she makes mistakes.  The last perfect person got nailed to a cross two millenia ago, they tell me.   I think she's completely unqualified to be President because she's the kind of person who takes a day of reflection and gratitude and instead turns it into a national hissy fit like the spoiled brat she is.  This is the kind of behavior you expect from Veruca Salt, not the next President.  It is always, always, always about Sarah Palin.  The country does not revolve around her stupid, petty, paranoid insecurities, but you'd be hard pressed to say so when millions believe the sun emerges from her ass every morning.

That's the real problem, the adoring throng who enable her by accepting this nonsense as something Presidential, something that our daughters and sisters and mothers should emulate, that we should somehow reward her for dumping gravy on the table because somebody hurt her goddamn feelings.  America deserves far, far better.

So to you, I say this: In your own words, madam...

Man up.

Act like an adult, you blithering twit.  Life is unfair.  We all have problems much larger than yours, with your generous earnings from FOX and The Learning Channel and your book publisher and your speaking tours and your celebrity appearances.  You are blessed with money, popularity, a large and loving family and you have taken the opportunity John McCain gave you and you have turned yourself into a household name with your efforts and seized the advantages you created.  That is the American way.

It is also the American way to show some gratitude on a day where millions of us Americans who don't have any of that are thankful for what little they do have.  Learn to appreciate what you do have in your life now because I assure you that wheel of fate turns in ways we can never predict and you never know for sure where you will be tomorrow, let alone two years from now.  Savor your blessings.

Because hubris is an unholy bitch, and she will take everything from you when you least expect it, so be thankful on Thanksgiving.

Way to completely miss the point of the holiday.  What an excellent example you set for America.

Not.  Presidential my ass.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


While you're watching the Lions and Cowboys get slapped around later this afternoon, some more perspective courtesy Barry Ritholtz.

Eighty-five percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2009, meaning that they had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households (14.7 percent) were food insecure at least some time during the year.

Something to consider on this holiday when we give thanks for what we have.  As the holiday season kicks into high gear, please consider helping those less fortunate than yourself:
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. ~ Winston Churchill

Indeed. If you happen to have any leftover canned goods you didn't open up or anything you can donate to a food bank this weekend, this is the time to do it. One in seven of us need help setting the table this year. Odds are very, very good someone you know is in that particular boat.

Help out if you can.  There but for the grace of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and all that.  Americans stick together when things get bad.  Be thankful for that.

Dean Broder has declared that Sen. Lisa Murkowski's write-in victory in Alaska means America wants bipartisan everything, which is about the most single inane thing one could possibly draw from her win.

The demographics required that Murkowski seek support from Democrats and independents, as well as Republicans. But she said their expectations did not differ from group to group. "I think what they are looking for is the same thing that any Alaskan is looking for: Represent our state. Work together with people that have opposing viewpoints to build good policy that allows our state and our nation to go in a positive direction.

"I think that's what voters are looking for. I don't think that most are looking for somebody that is going to follow the litmus test of one party or another, and never deviate from it. I think they want us to think, and I think they want us to work cooperatively together. So, that's my pledge to all Alaskans, regardless of whether you are the most conservative Republican or the most liberal Democrat, I'm going to try to find a way that we can find common ground to help the state and to help our country."

Want to know what the election was about? That's an authoritative answer.

And as usual, Broder doesn't know a damned thing. What the Alaska election was about was that a unique electorate who felt betrayed by Governor Half-Term liked Lisa Murkowski, and they realized that the best way to keep Joe Miller and his unique brand of earmark hating crazy out of the Senate was to put her back into office.

What the election means is that Lisa Murkowski knew Alaska far, far better than Sarah Palin did and Murkowski bet that she could win on a coalition of people who didn't want Joe Miller to be their Senator.  There's not really anything applicable to the other 49 states here, much less being the lesson of the entire 2010 election.  It was all about Alaska telling their former Governor and Joe Miller to go to straight to hell.

Broder is a senile old goofball, or he'd realize that Murkowski's platitudes were just that.  No, Lisa Murkowski saw an opportunity to stick it to her rival, to get her Senate seat back, and to continue on the gravy train.  Enlightened self-interest, with enough abject horror at the thought of Sen. Joe Miller that she was able to pull it out.

That's it.  No grand unifying lesson here...other than Sarah Palin's dismal favorability ratings are well earned.

And while I understand times are hard for many of us, it's good to keep some perspective in mind.  In Ireland, the banks there are being bailed out and the balance of the pain is being put on the backs of working-class Irish.  Marcy Wheeler:

The Fianna Fail government in Ireland has released the austerity plan it promised in response for the big bank bailout the rest of Europe forced on it.

There’s a lot that’s awful in it: big cuts in pension, huge increases in tuition costs, and a ludicrous claim that this austerity plan will help Ireland’s economy grow.

But I think the most telling aspect of it is that it lowers minimum wage from 8.65 euro to 7.65, a cut of 11.5%. But it retains Ireland’s controversial 12.5% corporate tax.

Meanwhile, the bond markets are none too impressed with Ireland’s plan.

There are lot of reasons to treat the plan with skepticism, if not outright derision. But I think the lack of confidence that this will work is the increasing likelihood that the governments on which the banksters are relying to push through this bankster bailout may not survive.

Imagine what would happen here if the minimum wage was lowered in order to cut corporate taxes.  You'd have riots...well, that is if anyone knew about it or cared.  Like Marcy I don't see Brian Cowen's government being able to pass anything like this without being tossed out on their arses.

And they're not even pretending to be for "the common people" here.  This will not end well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


We were told over and over again that the horrors of Obamacare would leave people dying in the streets as bureaucrats would decide who lives and who dies.  The reality of states taking over Medicaid plans and outsourcing them to private insurers is that the insurers do the same thing now, only with the goal of maximizing a profit from it.  Case in point:

One of the most destructive practices of private health insurance companies is the practice of denying care to customers for frivolous reasons. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services started including denial rates on its information section about health insurance companies on HealthCare.gov, in an effort to inform the public about this practice by the industry.

It was this practice of frivolous denials that ended up costing Jacksonville, Florida woman Alisa Wilson her life. For months, Wilson, her family, and the surrounding community had been pleading with her HMO to approve coverage for a liver transplant. Although Wilson was enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program, she was not guaranteed care because she was “forced to join a private plan as part of a Gov. Jeb Bush-era experimental overhaul of the program,” meaning she had to deal with a private, for-profit insurance company to get her care, not a government agency accountable to the public. 

Bush’s overhaul made “Florida the first state to allow private companies, not the state, to decide the scope and extent of services to the elderly, the disabled and the poor, half of them children,” the New York Times reported in 2005, as the move was being considered. “[N]o one is proposing changes as far-reaching and fundamental as” Bush, the Times noted.

After “scores of e-mails and…the help of a Florida state legislator,” the HMO, Sunshine State Health, finally gave in and approved coverage for Wilson two weeks ago. Yet her health was too severe for surgery by then. On Friday evening, Wilson passed away.

And the fact of the matter is in nearly all states, some or most Medicaid plans are administered by for-profit private insurers as managed care plans.  The bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor on Medicaid aren't government, they're unaccountable private insurance companies.  A large part of health care reform is to hold these companies accountable when they administer Medicare and Medicaid, but of course they've talked millions of Americans into "repeal tyrannical Obamacare!" and whatnot.

Unless you have the money to pay for health care when insurance companies deny it, you already have faceless drones deciding who lives and who dies for money.  They're called "claims approvers".

There's a reason why some states want out of Medicaid:  so they can funnel patients to insurance companies, and not have any federal accountability to go along with those federal dollars.

Oliver Willis finds this little gem from Palin talking on Glenn Beck's radio show today, where she's asked what President Palin would do handling the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula. She promptly responds in some quasi-English word soup run-on sentence:

PALIN:  "Well North Korea...this is stemming from, I think, a greater problem when we're all sitting around asking "Oh no, what are we gonna do?" and we're not having a lot of faith that the White House is gonna come out with a strong enough policy to um, sanction what is is North Korea is gonna do, so this speaks to a bigger picture that scares me in terms of our national security policies, but obviously, gotta stand by our North Korean allies, we're bound to by treaty..."
HOST: "South Korea."

PALIN: "...and we're also bound by prudence to stand by our South Korean allies and to uh, remind North Korea that we're not gonna reward bad behavior and we're not gonna walk away, and um, we need to press China to increase pressure on North Korea."

Yeah, North Korea, South Korea, Obama, Osama, it's an easy mistake to make and LEAVE BRISTOL PALIN'S MOM ALOOOOOOOOONE!

And even without that ludicrous mistake, what she said is exactly what Obama is doing:  pushing China to talk to North Korea, and to call for real sanctions against the regime there.  To her credit, at least she's not directly advocating bombing Pyongyang (yet) but really?  President Palin would get confused, blather stuff for 30 seconds and then remember what she read was told Obama was doing enlisting China's aid to mutual benefit?

I wouldn't vote this woman to be President of the Sarah Palin Fan Club.

New Census Bureau numbers show the median price of a home fell off a cliff last month to a new post financial crisis low of $194,000, even below the disastrous August '09 number of $195,000. CHart via Zero Hedge:

The Foreclosuregate mess is starting to take a real toll here. We've still got a long way down on the housing depression, folks. That means less consumption, less people needed to provide goods and services as demand decreases, more unemployment, and more people unable to afford mortgages and more foreclosures...a vicious cycle.

Unless we face this problem head on we're headed for a dangerous deflationary spiral that will trigger another financial crisis, a dangerous Fed overreaction that will trigger another financial crisis, or a Foreclosuregate putback/liability legal disaster that will trigger another financial crisis.

Or hell, all three.

Cheery thought, that is. Felix Salmon says Treasury is looking at the mess now, talking to outgoing Treasury official Michael Barr.

Barr was clear about what he expected to happen in 2011. Specifically, he said, “if there are legal violations found, banks are responsible for fixing them and for addressing the problems.” And more generally, the government’s actions “will increase the chance that when foreclosures happen, they will happen according to established law.”

The timetable for all this? The reviews should be largely completed this year, with the full scope of the problems being apparent by the end of January. By the end of the first quarter, the banks should be in serious discussions about how they’re going to fix what’s broken. And then it gets necessarily hazier: “Institutions are resistant to change and have difficulty implementing,” said Barr, but “you’ll see flow improvement over the course of the next year.”

Could I hold Treasury to that? Sort of: “You should hold us to whether things get better or worse. If a year from now nothing has changed, that would be a reasonable criticism.”

Point of order:  you guys don't have a year.  Not with the Republicans in the House.

I didn't think wingnuts could be this violently stupid, but then again we are talking about wingnuts here.  On FOX yesterday Imperial Hubris author and ex-CIA Bin Laden tracker Michael Schurer, who has had some pretty good insights on our failed Warren Terrah in the past, went nuts and openly asked why we hadn't attacked North Korea yet.

Host Brian Kilmeade begins by asking, "Michael, first off, what message did North Korea send, and what message can we send back as the chief ally to South Korea, this morning after they sent fire into that island last night?"

"I think the message they sent was they don't believe we're going to defend the South Koreans to any great extent," explains Scheuer. "The message we should have sent when they sank that North Korean boat or South Korean boat several months ago was we should have destroyed as much of North Korean Navy as we could immediately. I also suspect that we should have destroyed, had been ready to hit them again this morning because now the media and the politicians will talk their way out of defending South Korea and let the North Koreans get away with another act of war."

"So, the heck with what China thinks? Just go take them out because we are assigned...we are an assigned defender of South Korea?" queries Kilmeade.

Scheuer continues, "We need to act as what we are. We are a superpower, we have interests of our own and the North Koreans can do without a navy for a while. They can rebuild it. Instead of spending money on nuclear stuff, they can build new boats."

"Yeah, let their people starve," adds Kilmeade.

Echoing the attack North Korea sentiment today, conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds wrote, "If they start anything, I say nuke ‘em. And not with just a few bombs. They’ve caused enough trouble — and it would be a useful lesson for Iran, too. We can’t afford another Korean war, but hey, we’re already dismantling warheads. . . ."

Yeah, great idea guys.  We can't afford another Korean War, but let's have one anyway.  Let's turn a stupid attention stunt from the Norks into World War III.  Let's kill millions in a nuclear war instead.  Just when I think the idiots on the right had to be satisfied with the lasting damage they have done to our economy and our country, along comes Schurer and the Instapundit to drop us into a deeper circle in Hell.

Take your pick of the lesson here:  Conservatives my ass, that's not very fiscally responsible starting a third war, how can anyone take these guys seriously on foreign policy, do you believe there's a difference now between Obama and the right, what would President McCain/Palin do, yadda yadda.

It's enough to make a grown man weep.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Rush Limbaugh has picked a fight with Motor Trend Magazine over the chevy Volt being named 2011 Car of the Year.  He really should have stuck to terrorizing moderate Republicans, because MT's Todd Lassa is having none of it.

You said, “Folks, of all the cars, no offense, General Motors, please, but of all the cars in the world, the Chevrolet Volt is the Car of the Year? Motor Trend magazine, that’s the end of them. How in the world do they have any credibility? Not one has been sold. The Volt is the Car of the Year.”

So, Mr. Limbaugh; you didn’t enjoy your drive of our 2011 Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Volt? Assuming you’ve been anywhere near the biggest automotive technological breakthrough since … I don’t know, maybe the self-starter, could you even find your way to the front seat? Or are you happy attacking a car that you’ve never even seen in person?

Last time you ranted about the Volt, you got confused about the “range,” and said on the air that the car could be driven no more than 40 miles at a time, period. At least you stayed away from that issue this time, but you continue to attack it as the car only a tree hugging, Obama-supporting Government Motors customer would want. As radio loudmouths like you would note, none of those potential customers were to be found after November 2.

Back to us for a moment, our credibility, Mr. Limbaugh, comes from actually driving and testing the car, and understanding its advanced technology. It comes from driving and testing virtually every new car sold, and from doing this once a year with all the all-new or significantly improved models all at the same time. We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.

It's awfully nice to see people stand up to Rush.  Lassa goes on to explain in detail how Rush's crusade against the Volt is based in fantasy, and was all created under, get this, Bush-era programs (and the takes George Will to task for the same distortions).  I'm curious as to how Limbaugh will exact his revenge.  I'm sure El Rushbo is having the House GOP work on it right now, because this time it's personal, baby.  So nice when a media figure has an entire political party to perform character assassinations with. I wonder how long Todd keeps his job.  My guess is he'll be pressured into a public apology and/or canned for this before Christmas, mainly because the article ends in this classic:

Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

I laughed for a good 3 minutes.

I do believe I owe Mr. Lassa here a round, he's going to need it before the Breitbart machine produces a video where he's seen crushing a box kittens with a 20 pound sledgehammer in front of a Sunday school class.  If you're going to go down, you go down swinging, sir. Kudos!

Seems that Republicans are not only against Nancy Pelosi stil being in charge of the Dems in the House, they don't have a very good opinion of their own House leadership, either.

If you need any more proof that Republicans retaking control of the House earlier this month wasn't much of a mandate consider this: 55% of Americans think House Republicans should replace the leaders they've had for the last couple years to only 27% who believe they should keep their positions with the ascent to the majority.

Independents were integral to the big Republican gains earlier this month and they in particular think it's time for the GOP to clean house- only 20% of them think the party should keep its current leadership in the House while 57% think it should be replaced. The results of last week's leadership elections made it clear Republicans don't plan any change of course and that's a big part of why Democrats could conceivably take the House right back in 2012- the GOP may need to change its act to keep the support of these independents but it doesn't appear to have any interest in doing so.

Democrats predictably think the Republicans should clean house, by a 67/17 margin. What might be more surprising is the continuing dissension within the GOP ranks-
only 43% of Republican voters think the party should keep its leaders while 40% think they should be replaced. There had been some thought that winning would heal all wounds but that's clearly not the case- much of the GOP rank and file still wants to see a change in the party's Washington leadership.

Now that's just funny.  You thought America was mad at Nancy?  Seems they have a real big problem with Orange Julius as well.  Oh, best part of the poll?  Some 21% of America thinks the Republican party is too liberal, and a solid majority, 53%, think any incoming freshmen lawmakers who ran against health care reform should give up their government health plan.

The awesome cannot be contained.

Greg Sargent maps out the DADT repeal plan from here:

As you know, the news broke this morning that the Pentagon will release its much-anticipated report gauging the impact of repeal on November 30th, one day earlier than expected. It's reported to find that the policy can be repealed with only minimum and isolated risk. So how does this change the game?

The central question still remains: Will the Senate Democratic leadership agree to hold a cloture vote on the Defense Authorization Bill containing repeal, and will the leadership commit to a two week period of floor debate? This is key because in combination with the Pentagon report, holding this debate -- and allowing the full and open amendment process that Republicans have insisted on -- could remove the last pretext GOP moderates have to withold their support.

So here's what to watch: A senior leadership aide tells me the final decision on whether to hold that cloture vote and open debate will likely be made later next week. That's because Senator Carl Levin, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, has said he will hold hearings later next week on the released Pentagon report. The Senate Dem leadership intends to watch closely how the moderate GOP Senators publicly react to the Pentagon report in those hearings. If they seem to be softening, the prospect of getting 60 votes for repeal increases -- this is a real possibility, as far-fetched as it may seem -- which would ratchet up the pressure on Senate Dems to allow the cloture vote and agree to the protracted floor debate.

In other words, Carl Levin wants a public hearing, no doubt to shame moderates in both parties into voting for this.  It's a solid plan and one I think is going to work.

On the other hand, this plan does depend on Harry Reid following through on this.  And that's never a sure thing.  The hearings may be to pressure Reid more than Republicans, several of which have already come out in favor of repeal.

And again, the major obstacle to all this is Sen. John McCain, who continues to hold up proceedings even though he no longer has an argument.

In late September, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressing his concerns that the Pentagon’s Working Group review of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy was operating under the condition that “the policy will be repealed” rather than studying if it should be changed. “I urge you and Admiral Mullen to modify the review and the survey instrument, or to conduct supplemental surveys, aimed at ensuring that the question of whether the DADT policy should be changed is answered,” McCain wrote in a letter dated September 28, 2010. [Read a copy of McCain's letter HERE]

Responding to the Senator’s request in a previously unreleased letter from October 25, 2010, Gates explained that the review was not a “referendum” on the policy, stressing, “I do not believe that military policy decisions — on this or any other subject — should be made through a referendum of Servicemembers.” He also emphasized that the final report would inform military leaders of the impacts of lifting the ban and help guide Congress in its decision making. 

Still not good enough for Johnny Volcano, who has changed his mind on DADT yet again and now says yet another study is needed...

Kudos to McClatchy for not only conducting a poll that finds a solid majority of Americans want to keep health care reform or improve it, not repeal it, but kudos for mentioning that fact in the story as well as part of a greater narrative that the GOP does not have a mandate.

A majority of Americans want the Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it, despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

The post-election survey showed that 51 percent of registered voters want to keep the law or change it to do more, while 44 percent want to change it to do less or repeal it altogether.

Driving support for the law: Voters by margins of 2-1 or greater want to keep some of its best-known benefits, such as barring insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. One thing they don't like: the mandate that everyone must buy insurance. 

Of course it's complicated.  Everything is.  But the three big lame duck issues, the Bush tax cuts, health care reform, and repealing DADT are pretty much an even split. (51-45 against extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, 48-47 in favor of keeping DADT.)  It's not an overwhelming mandate anymore than Bush thought he had in 2004.

So of course the GOP is going to overreach on this.

Monday, November 22, 2010


It seems even the FCC's completely half-assed plan to provide some net neutrality (to landline internet and not mobile networks) is going to be killed by House Republicans.

After the mid-term Republican landslide in the US House, many political observers proclaimed that hopes for true "Net Neutrality" policies passing Congress had gone up in flames along with the Democratic majority.
Now the last chance for those rules, known to supporters as the First Amendment of the Internet, may be slipping away as well.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which would have to act independent of Congress, is formulating a series of proposals based upon principles from legislation first proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), according to a Monday report by Politico.

Waxman, who vowed that he would support the so-called 'Net Neutrality' policy proposals favored by most Democrats and progressives, instead put forward a legislative framework that explicitly prohibits the FCC from regulating broadband Internet under Title II of the Communications Act. It would have effectively enshrined proposals by telecom and data giants Google and Verizon, which mandate neutrality for wireline networks but allow for tiered services over wireless.

A disturbing number of Democrats who signed on to a net neutrality program were defeated in the House in 2010.  They were targeted and removed from office by Super-PACs with unlimited cash and anonymous donors.  Unfortunately, it's looking like now the FCC will fail to take any action, meaning that a de facto tiered system will be created in the meantime as Google, Verizon, and other net giants plunge ahead.

Even the halfway system would have been some improvement.  Now?  Who knows where the net will be in two years, or online news services, or bloggers, or anything.  What's to stop Google from having Droid connections to any of its Google products go ten times faster than iPhone, Blackberry, or Windows Phone 7 phones, or cutting a deal with Verizon to give its network priority traffic?

And so it goes.  Which internet will you be able to access in the future?