Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Last Call

Obama talks about "turning a page" in Iraq.
President Obama declared that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended" in his prime-time address Tuesday.

"Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country," he said.

Obama said the winding down of the war in Iraq means it's time for citizens to unite and build a better life for all Americans.

"Our most urgent task is to restore our economy and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work," he said in his nationwide address from the Oval Office.

"... This will be difficult. But in the days to come, it must be our central mission as a people and my central responsibility as president."

The president said ending the war in Iraq is in the United States' best interest and "it is time to turn the page."

Obama said he has spoken with former President George W. Bush about moving forward on Iraq's future.
Hard to turn the page when they are stuck together due to being soaked in blood, man.  Still, Obama's at least not giving in to the Republican demands to "give Bush credit for winning the war".  Bush only deserved credit for starting this unconscionable mess in the first place.

We'll see.  Now, about that economy...

In Which Zandar Wonders What Yglesias Is Smoking

...because it's clearly some primo product, man.
I’m a firm believer in the link between higher levels of immigration and higher average living standards for native-born people. But I recognize that this remains controversial. Something that certainly shouldn’t be controversial is the fairly obvious point that if we allowed more immigrants to come to the United States this would bolster home price values in a clearer and more sustainable way than any kind of crazy patchwork of tax breaks. Right now we have more houses than households, if we had more immigrants we’d have more households. We’d work off the excess inventory more quickly, and be closer to the day when home construction returns as a viable economic sector.
Umm, Matt, I dunnae have a Ph.D. or anything, but even I've got it pegged that the problem isn't "number of people in the country" but "number of households earning a wage that allows for the purchase of a home on mortgage".

The bar to home ownership is price and wage, not number of people in the market.  Unless this plan is somehow limited to "visas that allow people who are wealthy enough to buy houses outright to encourage them to move, live, and work here" into the country, I'm gonna go with that this is pushing on a string.

What we need is more jobs with better-paying wages, not more people inside the US.

Gold Rush, Part 10

Gold's been kicking around the $1,200 mark now for a couple months, but the latest economic numbers have people heading into the yellow stuff and hoping the elevator reaches $1,500 or more.
Investors are accumulating enough bullion to fill Switzerland’s vaults twice over as gold’s most- accurate forecasters say the longest rally in at least nine decades has further to go no matter what the economy holds.

Analysts raised their 2011 forecasts more than for any other precious metal the past two months, predicting a 10th annual advance, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The most widely held option on gold futures traded in New York is for $1,500 an ounce by December, or 18 percent more than the record $1,266.50 reached June 21. Holdings through bullion-backed exchange-traded products are already at more than 2,075 metric tons, within 0.1 percent of the all-time high.

“Either a swift economic recovery or further dismal economic performance should bring new buyers into the market,” said Eugen Weinberg, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt who was the most accurate forecaster in the first quarter and expects the metal to rise as high as $1,400 next year. “A stronger economy would create more jewelry demand. If the economy stays weak or gets worse, then investors will be looking for a safe haven.” 
Gold today has bounced up towards $1,250.  I do see that June 21 mark of $1,266.50 falling pretty soon, but again like any bubble gold's got to pop some time.

Doesn't mean it will be soon however.   Gold's been ramping up since 9/11 when it was around $300 an ounce.  It could have a long way to go, or not.  It does mean however that people are getting out of stocks, currencies, and bonds, and that's the important thing.

Darn Good Conway

Not sure if this is the best plan of attack for Jack Conway, touting his credentials as an elected official (in this case this ad about his tenure as a strict law and order drug warrior as Kentucky's AG) given the country's anti-incumbent mood right now and Rand Paul's "outsider cred".

On the other hand, Kentucky is a state where Democrats run as relatively sane Reagan Republicans, and Republicans run as completely insane Ron Paul Libertarians.

Democratic nominee Jack Conway has a new ad in the Kentucky Senate race, touting the support of the state Fraternal Order of Police -- and declaring that he's "darn good" at his job as state Attorney General.

"Jack Conway is the chief law enforcement officer for Kentucky and a darn good one," says Calloway County Sheriff Bill Marcum. Notably, the ad also points to Conway's record in a major drug bust in the state, which nabbed 518 people. As the Conway camp's press release says: "Conway's record stands in stark contrast to that of opponent Rand Paul, who has come under fire for saying illegal drugs aren't a 'real pressing issue' in Kentucky."

Still, sticking Rand Paul on the "Let the states deal with meth labs and leave the Feds out of it" seems to actually be working for Conway.  We'll see.

Bully For You

The human capacity for justification is a truly amazing thing.  Seems Focus on the Family is worried that trying to help schools prevent bullies from harassing students over being gay is of course, turning kids gay.  Or something.
Candi Cushman, an education analyst for the James Dobson-founded group, told The Denver Post this weekend that gay rights advocates have inserted their agenda into anti-bullying efforts, at the expense of Christian values.
"We feel more and more that activists are being deceptive in using anti-bullying rhetoric to introduce their viewpoints, while the viewpoint of Christian students and parents are increasingly belittled," Cushman told the Post.
In an email to TPM, Cushman expanded her argument. "Listing certain categories creates a system ripe for reverse discrimination, sending the message that certain characteristics are more worthy of protection than others," she said.
Cushman's argument has two levels: first, she says anti-bullying efforts wrongly put the focus on the "characteristics of the victim" instead of the "wrong actions of the bullies." Second, she thinks that gay rights activists are using the whole issue to sneak their agenda into the nation's schools.
She denounced the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
"In many cases, these politicized bullying policies are being used as tools to undermine parental rights," she said, "and censor or marginalize students and parents with differing viewpoints."
Look, it's hard enough being a teenager in this completely screwed up America we live in right now.  It was agonizing being different in the 80's and early 90's when I grew up, but I was just the tuba-playing nerdy fat kid who kept blowing the school test curves in science classes.  I was lucky, the school's AD was a good friend of my grandfather's and the soccer and wrestling coach lived a couple doors down from us, so people left me alone.  It's got to be full-scale war these days for anyone who has to deal with homosexuality on top of it all.

Now people are actually saying "Your campaign to stop bullies is really advocating your deviance"?  Really?  Trying to stop bullies is "undermining parental rights"?

What's the alternative?  Saying "Well son, I understand he beat the crap out of you, but really you're interfering with his right not to be around anyone who's gay.  You're making him uncomfortable" or something?  Really?

The advocation of bigotry is one thing.  Doing so and using school bullies as an excuse, giving the implication that some of the reasons they may have to attack students are justified, is entirely something else.  Or do we forget when school bullying over sexuality turns fatal?

Bridge too far, guys.

Enemies Both Foreign And Domestic (Mostly Domestic)

Our old friends the Minutemen are back in the news and they've got a new battle to fight:  American Muslims!
In an e-mail last week, the Minuteman PAC used an attack on Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) to fundraise against his re-election campaign, referring to Carson as an "Islamist" who is "championing Islam, the Ground Zero Mosque and Sharia law in America!"
The release, sent out by political arm of the more-grassroots Minuteman Movement, also accused Carson of being funded by "terror-linked Islamists," and of having ties to Louis Farrakhan, who the release describes as "an extremist black Muslim who spews vile racial hatred and virulent anti-Semitism whenever he gets the chance!" It requests donations to help Minuteman PAC defeat Carson.
Carson, one of two Muslim representatives currently serving in Congress, has come out strongly in support of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, asking: "Are we a country of laws and principles? Or are we a country who will be moved by the winds of emotion each and every time there are issues that come up to divert us from the true meaning and intent of the founding fathers?"
But the Minuteman PAC has also found a way to tie recent wave of Islamophobia to its raison d'ĂȘtre. One of the "projects" featured on its website is called "Third Jihad Watch," and a post about it describes how "nothing makes the U.S. more vulnerable to another 9-11 attack like open borders."
"The threat of terrorism has no borders," it says. "No one is safeguarded against the deadly threat that terrorism poses around the world."
It's getting tiresome.  I understand the root cause of the unrest in the country is the economy and much of this is misdirected and projected anger coming from those looking for anyone to scapegoat for America's unemployment situation.

But you have to admire the wingers, instead of directing anger at the banks that nearly wrecked out economy playing Big Casino games with trillions is CBOs and derivatives, we're going after Muslims instead.

Now the Minutemen want in on the action and they're going after Andre Carson because, of course, he has to be a terrorist if he's a Muslim.

It's depressing.

Too Little, Too Late

Obama did get around to mentioning another jobs initiative in the coming weeks in his Rose Garden speech yesterday.
"So, as Congress prepares to return to session, my economic team is hard at work in identifying additional measures that could make a difference in both promoting growth and hiring in the short term, and increasing our economy’s competitiveness in the long term. Steps like extending the tax cuts for the middle class that are set to expire this year. Redoubling our investment in clean energy and R&D. Rebuilding more of our infrastructure for the future. Further tax cuts to encourage businesses to put their capital to work creating jobs here in the United States. And I’ll be addressing these proposals in further detail in the days and weeks to come."
I'm sure he'll make a big show of shuffling money around.  He may even be able to scrape up $20 billion or so for some new initiatives before the election.  It's not going to be anywhere near large enough to help.

At this point Obama needs to go for broke with a major brand new stimulus package.  No, it will not get passed.  Let it be on the Republicans for blocking it weeks before an election on the economy.  At this point the House is lost and the Senate is all but gone depending on who you ask.  Exactly what does Obama lose politically by trying to pull out all the stops here?  Conventional wisdom is that he's doomed anyway.

As Booman said, make the election the Obama stimulus package against Republicans doing nothing.  Go down swinging at least.

Limit Break

So how's that massive IMF-backed European bailout of Greece going, anyway?  Surely everything's fine, right?
Back in April, when we discussed the inception of the IMF's then brand new New Arrangement to Borrow (NAB) $500 billion credit facility, we asked rhetorically, "If the IMF believes that over half a trillion in short-term funding is needed imminently, is all hell about to break loose." A month later the question was answered, as Greece lay smoldering in the ashes of insolvency, and the developed world was on the hook for almost a trillion bucks to make sure the tattered eurozone remained in one piece (leading to such grotesque abortions as Ireland, whose cost of debt is approaching 6%, funding Greek debt at 5%). Well, if that was the proverbial canary in the coalmine, today the entire flock just keeled over and died: today the IMF announced it "expanded and enhanced its lending tools to help contain the occurrence of financial crises." As a result, the IMF has as of today extended the duration of its existing Flexible Credit Line (FCL) to two years, concurrently removing the borrowing cap on this facility, which previously stood at 1000 percent of a member’s IMF quota, in essence making the FCL a limitless credit facility, to be used to rescue whomever, at the sole discretion of the IMF's overlords. Additionally, as the FCL has some make believe acceptance criteria (and with countries such as Poland, Columbia, and Mexico having had access to it, these must certainly be sky high), the IMF is introducing a brand new credit facility, the Precautionary Credit Line (PCL), which will be geared for members with "sound policies [which just happen to need an unlimited source of rescue funding] who nevertheless may not meet the FCL’s high qualification requirements." In other words everyone. In yet other words, the IMF as of today, has a limitless facility to bail out anyone in the world, without a maximum bound in how much is lendable. One wonders who would be stupid enough to take advantage of the gullibility of IMF's biggest backers (the US), to borrow an infinite amount of money for any reason whatsoever... And just what all this means for the imminent explosion of the amount of money in circulation...Not to mention the brand new Ben Bernanke smokescreen of having a new justification to print a few trillion dollars when Europe unexpectedly collapses yet again.

Oh.  Well then.  That explains it.   Limitless borrowing from the IMF to prevent any sort of sovereign debt crisis, eh?  Gosh, that's not a huge flashing red alert signal about where Europe is heading or anything.

In The Absence Of A Clear Message...

...misinformation fills the vacuum.
Republicans lead by 51% to 41% among registered voters in Gallup weekly tracking of 2010 congressional voting preferences. The 10-percentage-point lead is the GOP's largest so far this year and is its largest in Gallup's history of tracking the midterm generic ballot for Congress.
2010 Trend: Candidate Preferences in 2010 Congressional Elections, 
Based on Registered Voters
These results are based on aggregated data from registered voters surveyed Aug. 23-29 as part of Gallup Daily tracking. This marks the fifth week in a row in which Republicans have held an advantage over Democrats -- one that has ranged between 3 and 10 points.

The Republican leads of 6, 7, and 10 points this month are all higher than any previous midterm Republican advantage in Gallup's history of tracking the generic ballot, which dates to 1942. Prior to this year, the highest such gap was five points, measured in June 2002 and July 1994. Elections in both of these years resulted in significant Republican gains in House seats.
The stark reality is if voting patterns hold true to these numbers, the House is lost to the Democrats and the Senate is all but gone.  The Dems were up six points just six weeks ago...and then the bottom fell out.  Booman at least has an idea or two.
Rather than looking helpless, the administration should just start making the argument that we have a choice between prolonged high unemployment or another big stimulus package. Make the election a referendum on that choice. 
While he's right, this is the argument that should have been made, oh, six to nine months ago.  Given what I expect to happen economically for the rest of the year, there's really not anything Obama can say that won't be met by voters with an avalanche of complete indifference.

Americans are tired, depressed, and for the most part they're looking elsewhere for a message of hope.  In the absence of a clear message from the Democrats, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and John Boehner have filled the void over the last month.

We see where that has gotten the Democrats in this country:  up against a wall where Obama's critics believe he is the greatest threat to the country ever conceived and that he must be removed, and Obama's supporters really don't give a damn anymore.

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

A new Newsweek magazine poll contains what would be shocking results about what Republicans think about Barack Obama, but by this point I don't think anyone's shocked at the depth and breadth of the pure hatred GOP voters have for the man.

The survey-takers asked:
Thinking about Barack Obama and what he has said about issues like the proposal to build an Islamic cultural center and mosque a few blocks from the World Trade Center site in New York City… Do you think Obama favors the interests of Muslim Americans over other groups of Americans, or do you think he has generally been even-handed?
A clear majority of Republicans, 59 percent, said President Obama favors Muslim interests over everyone else. By contrast, just 9 percent of Democrats felt that way.
Then, questioners asked:
Some people have alleged that Barack Obama sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world. From what you know about Obama, what is your opinion of these allegations?
Shockingly, 52 percent of Republicans answered "definitely true" or "probably true," compared to 27 percent of independent voters and 17 percent of Democrats.
Yeah, that's right:  a majority of Republicans think Obama wants to impose Sharia law around the world.  That's insanity, mass delusion on a staggering scale, and yet among Republicans it is now the majority belief, the definition of mainstream Republicanism.

I can't think of why this is happening save that A) hard-core Republicans will believe anything talk-radio says, and that B) just as I believe "Obama is a Muslim" is a dog-whistle euphemism for race, "Obama supports Sharia law" is a euphemism for reparations and vengeance for America's bloody history of enslavement.

There are millions of folks out there who honestly believe that Obama is trying to destroy the economy and the country out of revenge for slavery.  All this paranoid shuddering, playing the victim card again and again, the belief that Obama is a traitor to America and not even American himself, it all stems from fears that Obama is the agent of vengeance for hundreds of years of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, you name it.

But hey, it's called Obama Derangement Syndrome for a reason.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Last Call

Three words for you.  President.  John.  Bolton.
Asked if he gives any credit at all to the president for increasing drone attacks against terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere, and tripling troop levels in Afghanistan – both moves that have upset his left flank – Bolton said they were moves the president was forced to take.
“Well, certainly he has done things that have been unexpected in Afghanistan and certain aspects of the War on Terrorism. I think those are steps he has taken because it has been impossible – even for him – to avoid taking them,” Bolton proffered. “For example, much of what he has done in terms of interrogation or Guantanamo Bay or aspects of the War on Terrorism are things that are driven either by the imperative of defending executive branch prerogatives under the Constitution or because he has come to realize that the Bush administration looked at a lot of alternatives and couldn’t find any. So it is not that he has done these things happily or willingly.”
Bolton has been unabashed in his view that military action will be necessary to stop Iranian nuclear proliferation. When asked whether he thinks that the president would ever order such strikes, Bolton said he couldn’t imagine it.
“I don’t see it. I just kind of think it is contrary to his ideological DNA. I’d love to be proven wrong and the future will tell. But I don’t see it,” he said.
One area Bolton has been particularly critical of the president’s foreign policy is in the president’s handling of the U.S-Israel relationship. He told TheDC that he thinks the president’s push for a peace process will not only not lead to peace, but will ultimately make an unstable region even more so.
Peace is war, and war is like peace, only with explosions and more awesome.  New tag :  John Bolton.
Walrus Man and Moose Lady in 2012!

Somehow I see all John Bolton tags automatically getting the Iran, Military Stupidity, Warren Terrah and Wingnut Stupidity tags as well.  Just a guess.

Score One For Science

Virginia's GOP Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, not only sued the government over "Obamacare" but also went after Penn State climatologist Dr. Michael Mann over his work at the University of Virginia, basically saying that since the official state position on climate change apparently is that it's a "fraud" and that at the time Dr. Mann was a state employee teaching at UVA, that the state was therefore entitled to sue him over a state grant, subpoenaing the records of Mann's tenure there.

Luckily a judge called Cuccinelli out and quashed the subpoena.

An Albemarle County Circuit Court judge has set aside a subpoena issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the University of Virginia seeking documents related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann.

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli's subpoena failed to state a "reason to believe" that Mann had committed fraud.

The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic who had maintained that he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005.

According to Peatross, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, under which the civil investigative demand was issued, requires that the attorney general include an "objective basis" to believe that fraud has been committed. Peatross indicates that the attorney general must state the reason so that it can be reviewed by a court, which Cuccinelli failed to do.

Peatross set the subpoena aside without prejudice, meaning Cuccinelli could give the subpoena another try by rewriting the civil demand to better explain the conduct he wishes to investigate. But the judge seemed skeptical of Cuccinelli's underlying claim about Mann, noting that Cuccinelli's deputy maintained in a court hearing that the nature of Mann's fraud was described in subsequent court papers in the case.

"The Court has read with care those pages and understands the controversy regarding Dr. Mann's work on the issue of global warming. However, it is not clear what he did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia," Peatross wrote
Yeah.  Oops indeed.  Maybe the AG should quit wasting taxpayer money as a state employee on frivolous lawsuits before, you know, somebody sues him for fraud.

The Amazing Vanishing Unemployment Rate

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Robert Barro, the macroeconomics version of Brett Favre.
To get a rough quantitative estimate of the implications for the unemployment rate, suppose that the expansion of unemployment-insurance coverage to 99 weeks had not occurred and—I assume—the share of long-term unemployment had equaled the peak value of 24.5% observed in July 1983. Then, if the number of unemployed 26 weeks or less in June 2010 had still equaled the observed value of 7.9 million, the total number of unemployed would have been 10.4 million rather than 14.6 million. If the labor force still equaled the observed value (153.7 million), the unemployment rate would have been 6.8% rather than 9.5%.

Consider how the prospects for Democrats in the November elections would look if the unemployment rate were now only 6.8%. Obviously, this change would make all the difference, and President Obama can reasonably blame his economic advisers. They should have protected their boss by standing firm and arguing that a reckless expansion of unemployment-insurance coverage to 99 weeks was unwise economically and politically. Congressman Boehner's advice to Mr. Obama seems correct, though possibly too late to matter.
Yeah, consider how better off Obama would be if he was claiming, right now, that the number of people on long-term unemployment never would have exceeded 24.5% and therefore the unemployment rate can't be higher than 7%.

In other words, all the folks currently between 26 and 99 weeks of unemployment would either A) vanish from the labor force and not be counted as unemployed making the unemployment rate 6.8% or B) magically would have found jobs from the Magic Employment Fairy.

No really, this is coming from a famous Harvard economist.  It's awesome.

Wait'll Krugman finds out.  It'll be like 300, only with aggregate demand.

The Real Lesson Of Park51

People outside America now know that America's Constitution doesn't mean jack when it comes to Muslims, and that the real bad guys are using our bigotry as a recruiting tool.
"By preventing this mosque from being built, America is doing us a big favor," Taliban operative Zabihullah tells NEWSWEEK. (Like many Afghans, he uses a single name.) "It's providing us with more recruits, donations, and popular support."
America's enemies in Afghanistan are delighted by the vehement public opposition to the proposed "Ground Zero mosque." The backlash against the project has drawn the heaviest e-mail response ever on jihadi Web sites, Zabihullah claims -- far bigger even than France's ban on burqas earlier this year. (That was big, he recalls: "We received many e-mails asking for advice on how Muslims should react to the hijab ban, and how they can punish France.") This time the target is America itself. "We are getting even more messages of support and solidarity on the mosque issue and questions about how to fight back against this outrage."
Zabihullah also claims that the issue is such a propaganda windfall -- so tailor-made to show how "anti-Islamic" America is -- that it now heads the list of talking points in Taliban meetings with fighters, villagers, and potential recruits. "We talk about how America tortures with waterboarding, about the cruel confinement of Muslims in wire cages in Guantanamo, about the killing of innocent women and children in air attacks -- and now America gives us another gift with its street protests to prevent a mosque from being built in New York," Zabihullah says. "Showing reality always makes the best propaganda."
Mission accomplished, 70% of America against the "Ground Zero Mosque."  Keep up the good work!

Bonus lesson on Park51 and the crazy month of August:
"There is no doubt that the election season has had a major impact upon the nature of the discourse," Abdul Rauf said in an interview with Abu Dhabi's The National newspaper.

The imam said the issue was "not between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between moderates of all the faith traditions and the radicals of all the faith traditions."
You got that right.

In AD 2012 Moose Was Beginning

All your Palin are belong to us.
Two days after Sarah Palin fired up a large crowd at Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally in Washington, a newly released survey suggests a clear majority of Americans don't think the former vice presidential nominee has the right credentials to be president.

According to the new survey from Vanity Fair and CBS News' 60 Minutes, only 1 in 4 of all adults thinks Palin is qualified to be commander-in-chief while 60 percent say she is not.

By a narrow 47-40 percent margin however, Republicans do feel Palin has the right stuff to be president. But self identified conservatives – constituting the segment of the GOP largely thought to most favor the former Alaska governor – are essentially split 41-40 percent on her abilities to govern the country.
Dear Republican primary voters in 2012:  feel free to nominate Sarah Palin for President.  Do everything in your power to make that happen.  Go for it.

Please.  (For great justice.)

Because I really can't think of any better way to assure America four more years of Obama.

A Tax Credit Where Credit Is Due

Another homebuyer tax credit, that is.  Could the Obama administration throw an even larger tax credit our way, and this time for all Americans to benefit from, in order to be the defibrillator to the cardiac arrest the housing market is in?
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, appearing on CNN's State of the Union this weekend, didn't rule out another tax credit. He did say it's "too early to say," but then added that "we're going to be focused like a laser on where the housing market is moving going forward, and we are going to go everywhere we can to make sure this market stabilizes and recovers."

After that several Congressional candidates in Florida threw their voices behind the possibility, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist then chimed in on the same show, saying that another tax credit, "would stimulate the economy. It would increase home sales in Florida." He finished with: "I would absolutely encourage the president to support that because it would certainly help my fellow Floridians."
Or should we let the patient go under and liquidate what's left?  Hmm, there's that argument again:  stimulation versus liquidation.  Funny how it's always big business on the side of liquidation and letting the chips fall where they will...

Austerity Hysteria, Meet Liquidation Nation

Add mega-billionaire Jim Rogers to the list of folks who say -- surprise! -- the US needs European austerity measures now!
"I'd rather have the Europeans running the U.S. central bank than the people running the U.S. central bank, least they know how to try to build for the future," Rogers told CNBC Monday.
“In America, Bernanke just says we'll print more money, we'll spend more money, even though the United States is now the largest debtor nation in the history of the world."
Rogers reiterated that economies in trouble should be allowed to go under, like bad companies.
"The things that have worked in the past... will be you go bankrupt then you re-organize and you start over. You have a painful period for awhile, and then you start over. This has been done in the past 3 or 4 thousand years, and that's the way you do it," said Rogers.
"Trying to push the problem out to the future, and printing money, we just had another example here in the U.S., it didn't work and it's not going to work."
Rogers said that with central banks "flooding the world with money", the only place to invest right now is in real assets, whether it's in "silver, or rice or natural gas".
"Paper money is not going to do it for you," he added.
Lemme translate for you.

Who benefits if the US economy is forced to sell off real assets like failed, bankrupt businesses at fire-sale prices?

Who benefits if there's a rush from cash to commodities like "silver, or rice or natural gas"?

Who benefits if the major problem becomes a serious lack of liquidity and having the bulk of your real wealth tied up in, say, your mortgage?

Why, that would be the guys with heavy investments in commodities and lots of liquidity to spare because they are a billionaire investment guru, like, oh I dunno, this Jim Rogers fellow.

Just sayin'.

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

It's an oldie but goodie that proves everything old is new again:  Obama is a "Muslim" has always been a euphemism for Obama is something else...not M as in Muslim but N as in...well, you know.  Steve Benen:
President Obama sat down with NBC's Brian Williams yesterday, covering a fair amount of ground over the course of 22 minutes. Before I saw the interview, I saw a headline: "Obama blasts lies, disinformation." That's sort of true, but it's not quite how I'd characterize the discussion.

After talking at some length about the problems afflicting the Gulf Coast in general and Louisiana in particular, Williams noted public opinion polls showing significant numbers of Americans questioning the president's faith and birthplace. Obama more or less just shrugged off the nonsense. "The facts are the facts," he said, adding, "I'm not going to be worrying too much about whatever rumors are floating on out there. If I spend all my time chasing after that, then I wouldn't get much done.... I can't spend all my time with my birth certificate plastered on my forehead."

The president, in other words, treated this is a silly, trivial distraction, which it is.
Unfortunately, both Benen and Obama are going about this the wrong way.  Candidate Obama fought this kind of misinformation and was brutally effective.  President Obama on the other hand is remaining above the fray, and as E.J. Dionne rightly points out, that's leaving a vacuum for the Wingers to fill with misinformation and it is indicative of a much larger issue.
He and his party are often defensive when it comes to saying what they really believe: that government, well-executed, is a positive good; that too much economic inequality is both dysfunctional and unjust; that capitalism has never worked without regulation and a strong dose of social insurance. They no longer dare talk about public enterprise, a phrase my friend Chris Matthews reminded me of recently, visible in our great state universities, our best public schools, our road and transit systems, and in the research and development that government finances in areas where there is no immediate profit to be made.
The Obama press office, I know, can send me speeches in which he has made some of these points. But the president's efforts to lay down a consistent rationale, argument and philosophy have been sporadic. He has created a vacuum, filled by the wild charges of Glenn Beck, the disappointment of progressives who emphasize what he hasn't done and the tired "government is always the problem" rhetoric of his mainstream conservative opponents. He has thus left himself and his Democratic allies with weak defenses against a tide of economic melancholy.
It is too late to turn the midterm election into a triumph for the administration but not too late to salvage his party's congressional majorities. Given dismal Democratic expectations, that would now be rated as a victory. But doing so will require Obama to think anew about what "politicking" really means, to pick more than tactical fights with his adversaries, and to lay out, without equivocation or apology, where he is trying to move the country. It's just too bad he didn't start earlier. 
I miss Candidate Obama.  He was a hell of a fighter.  President Obama is too busy remaining above the fray and dismissing this Muslim euphemism as something not worth paying attention to.  All that does of course is allow the misinformation to fester allowing the wingers to go to the next step on this unopposed: the false notion and projection fantasy that Obama is dismissing large swaths of Americans as irrelevant as well.

This President's keeping his hands clean.  He really does have bigger problems to worry about...much, much bigger ones.  The problem is this small wound, allowed to fester, can be just as fatal to his presidency.

The Criminalization of Adolescence

Mistermix on inducting America's teenagers into the Bush-Obama surveillance state:
While children are learning to tolerate more surveillance, I don’t think that our current society is set up for kids to be completely dutiful. The drinking age is now 21 everywhere, smoking pot is still more-or-less illegal, and the downloading of media (music or movies) can come with bigger fines than smoking a joint. Teenagers still engage in all of these activities, and in order to do so, they’re sneaking around. There may be more surveillance, but the need to evade it is as strong as ever, and I have faith that the desire to smoke a joint, drink a beer or download a pirated movie will trump whatever indoctrination occurs in the schools.

Just to be clear: I think the increasing criminalization of adolescence is outrageous – I’m just observing how things are, not how I wish they were.
Teenagers going to methods of communication outside phone calls these days -- and putting a premium on privacy in those communications -- is pretty normal.  Unfortunately we're treating kids like potential terrorists for their efforts.

The increasing use of student surveillance and intrusion of school districts into students’ extra-curricular conduct should alarm us all.   Whether it is a district surveilling students in their bedrooms via webcam, conducting random drug or locker searches, strip-searching students, lowering the standard for searching students to “reasonable suspicion” from “probable cause,” disciplining students for conduct outside of school hours, searching their cellphones and text messages, or allegedly forcing them to undergo pregnancy testing, student privacy is under increasing threat.

The other day I mentioned a Connecticut school district that wanted to require students to carry an ID card with an RFID chip so that they could track their location. The surveillance capability included locating the student if they were off school premises and in town. Today, I came across another news story from earlier this month that also involves tracking students. KTVU in California reported that the Contra Costa County School District began introducing a tracking system for preschool students that would alert staff when a student leaves school premises. In order to accomplish that, students will reportedly be required to wear a jersey that contains the RFID tag that uses Wi-Fi to send signals to sensors located throughout the school.
Yes, this is going on in America's schools today, now.  Anyone born after, say, Bill Clinton took office has basically always lived in a world with no expectation of privacy and always been under watch by someone electronically because of 9/11.

They expect it now.  That's how the world works because to them that's how it always has been.

The Real Redistributionists

I often hear Obama called a "redistributionist", someone who takes money away from hard-working Americans through taxes and gives it to the undeserving.  Obama is coming for the sweat of your brow, they say, he's coming for the fruits of your work to fund his massive welfare state and to entrap America as slaves to government.

The funny part is that the people who scream this the loudest have been redistributing wealth from the middle class to the top...to themselves... for decades now.  Jim Quinn:
The parallels between the period leading up to the Great Depression and our current situation leading to a Greater Depression are revealing. When you examine the facts without looking through the prism of party politics it becomes clear that when the wealth and power of the country are overly concentrated in the clutches of the top 1% wealthiest Americans, financial collapse and depression follow. This concentration of income and wealth did not cause the Stock Market Crash of 1929 or the financial system implosion in 2008, but they were a symptom of a sick system of warped incentives. The top 1% of income earners were raking in 24% of all the income in America in 1928. After World War II until 1980, the top 1% of income earners consistently took home between 9% and 11% of all income in the country. During the 1950′s and 1960′s when Americans made tremendous strides in their standard of living, the top 1% were earning 10% of all income. A hard working high school graduate could rise into the middle class, owning a home and a car.

From 1980 onward, the top 1% wealthiest Americans have progressively taken home a greater and greater percentage of all income. It peaked at 22% in 1999 at the height of the internet scam. Wall Street peddled IPOs of worthless companies to delusional investors and siphoned off billions in fees and profits. The rich cut back on their embezzling of our national wealth for a year and then resumed despoiling our economic system by taking advantage of the Federal Reserve created housing boom. By 2007, the top 1% again was taking home 24% of the national income, just as they did in 1928. When the wealth of the country is captured by a small group of ruling elite through fraudulent means, collapse and crisis becomes imminent. We have experienced the collapse, while the crisis deepens.
And now, once again we are in a depression.  The money's already been taken from you, not by government but by the people at the top seeing massive wealth growth while 90% of Americans have seen their real income fall since 1990.

The American middle class was dying long before Obama ever entered national politics.

Taking A Swing At It

As President Obama prepares to host Mideast peace negotiations later this week in Washington, a Kuwaiti newspaper is reporting that an Israeli attack on Hezbollah targets in Syria is imminent.
Israel is planning to attack Hezbollah arms depots and weapons manufacturing plants in Syria, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported on Saturday.
The report is based on Western sources who asserted that Israel has increased its military force level along the northern border in the Golan Heights and Mount Dov areas.
The report cited European sources who claimed that recent Israeli unmanned aerial drone flights over Lebanon and Syria signal Israel's intentions to carry out operations in the area. 
According to the report, Israel plans to attack Hezbollah weapons depots, including ones deep inside Syria that store long-range rockets.
The Al Rai report said that the situation on the Israel-Syria border is tense and that Syria could respond immediately to any Israeli attack and not demonstrate the restraint that it did after the Israeli Air Force bombed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria in the fall of 2007.
According to the report, Syria's military is on high alert and is strengthening its anti-aircraft defenses along the border with Israel and at strategic sites within Syria. 
Needless to say, an Israeli attack on Syria right now would definitely complicate things in this week's peace talks. It could very well be complete hogwash too meant to scuttle the talks before they start, but certainly US intel would be able to determine any Israeli troop buildup and would be able to corroborate these drone flight reports.

Still, we'll see how this shakes out.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last Call

Bonus points for intellectual consistency for the man who would be Alaska's next Senator, Joe Miller.  He really is crazy enough to to go to Washington as Alaska's Senator in order to cut the state off at the knees financially.
"I don't think anybody can [claim] - sitting at $13.3 trillion in absolute debt, by some estimates $130 trillion in future unfunded obligations - that we are in any way in a good financial state," Miller said.

"The answer to this is to basically transfer the responsibilities and power of government back to the states and the people. That is really the only answer, I think, out of this crisis," Miller said.

"As we continue to tighten our belts because fiscally that's critical for the economic solvency of this nation, we also transfer it to the states more power. That means more ownership of lands. It's not a situation where you just yank the financial plug, but at the same time you're transferring over discretion over the use of the resource base," Miller said.

"In this state, two-thirds of it is owned by the federal government. There really isn't a good constitutional basis for that," Miller said. "It's our position that as the money is restricted, the lands are transferred." 
Alaska gets $1.84 for every dollar that they pay in federal taxes.  Joe Miller figures the state has the resources to go it alone.  That especially means Alaska's infirm and elderly.

Schieffer noted that Miller has also taken controversial and even extreme positions. "First you say you want to phase out Medicare. You want to privatize Social Security. I have to say there are a lot of people in Alaska who are on Medicare and are getting Social Security. Isn't that position going to be a problem for you in the [general] election?"

"I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme, then you would also think that the founders are extreme," Miller said. "We just simply want to get back to basics, restore essentially the constitutional foundation of our country. 
See, there's nothing about Social Security or Medicare in the Constitution.  If you really love America and the Constitution, you'll understand we have to go back before they existed, you know.  We need "other solutions" for dealing with the sick and elderly.  They're not pulling their weight, you know.

I may complain about Obama's Catfood Commission, but Joe Miller and the Republicans make what the Democrats are considering look like spring rain in the desert by comparison.

150 years ago a bunch of folks thought it would be really great to give power to the states.  Didn't work out so well, if I recall.  Things kind of got nasty.

Meanwhile, Over There...

Afghanistan is still a nasty little war.
Afghan and coalition soldiers killed more than 30 insurgents, including 13 would-be suicide bombers, as they fought off assaults on two military bases and government buildings in eastern Afghanistan, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Sunday.

The attacks, which happened Saturday morning, were led by Haqqani network insurgents and were against Forward Operating Base Salerno and Forward Operating Base Chapman, ISAF said. Both bases are located in Khost province, a volatile region on Afghanistan's rugged border with Pakistan.

The Haqqani network is a militant group with ties to al Qaeda.
Perhaps we should be removing our troops from such a target-rich environment.  It's not like we're flush with cash as a country these days.

If we're looking for sources of spending we can all agree on cutting, I think our now pointless nine year war in Afghanistan is a good place to consider starting.

Cult Of Personality

Some perspective to keep in mind next time you hear remarks on "Obama's cult-like following" or his "messianic tendencies".
Among those surprised by all of conservative TV host Glenn Beck's recent religious talk - including at Saturday's Washington rally, where Beck said that "America today begins to turn back to God," - is the Rev. Richard Land, a Southern Baptist leader.

"I've been stunned," said Land, who directs public policy for the Southern Baptist Convention and who attended the Saturday rally at Beck's invitation.

"This guy's on secular radio and television," Land said Saturday, "but his shows sound like you're listening to the Trinity Broadcasting Network, only it's more orthodox and there's no appeal for money ... and today he sounded like Billy Graham."

Beck's speeches around his "Restoring Honor" rally have brimmed with religious language: "God dropped a giant sandbag on his head" to push him to organize the rally, he said Friday.

On Friday night, Beck held a religion-focused event at the Kennedy Center that was billed as Glenn Beck's Divine Destiny.

Beck's speech Saturday also evoked the feel of a religious revival.

"Look forward. Look West. Look to the heavens. Look to God and make your choice," he said.
Glenn Beck's not running for anything so pedestrian as a political office.  He's running for something somewhat...higher in nature (or lower, depending on your theosophy.)   Sarah Palin I think is content with being a grifter, but Beck actually lets himself believe his own rhetoric, and that's what makes him truly dangerous.

Dismissing him as a loudmouth TV host is a critical error.  He has a lot more in mind for both himself and America.

Mostly himself, however.

[UPDATE] A much more informative article on Beck's Messiah complex by AlterNet's Alex Montgomery.
Beck, who seems to view himself in increasingly messianic terms, says he is helping to launch another religious “Great Awakening” that will shape American history and promised attendees that on Saturday they would be “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Beck has plenty of company among those who saw Barack Obama’s election as a sign that politics is failing America, and that a religious revival is the only real hope for its future. In fact, it’s become practically routine at Religious Right events for leaders to announce that history would view their event as the spark of a new awakening. But none of them have had an audience near the size that Beck does.
And it is that combination of big business "win the news cycle at all costs" Republicanism and Christian Dominionist "We're on a mission from God" theory that makes Beck uniquely and truly dangerous. 

The revolution will be propagandized.

Uncontrolled Burn

The rampant Islamophobia in this country is getting more and more dangerous.
Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.

Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.

Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.

The ATF, FBI and Rutherford County Sheriff's Office are conducting a joint investigation into the fire, Anderson said. 
Murfreesboro, Tennessee...also too close to Ground Zero, apparently.  And now the stakes just got a lot higher and a hell of a lot more dangerous.

We've gone from demagoguery to angry protests in Manhattan to national protests at mosque sites across the country now to arson, in just a few short months.  What happens when someone is hurt or killed because of this, or worse?

[UPDATE] As Maha points out:
There have been Muslims in the community for 30 years; they have been worshiping in an office building. Members of the Muslim community say they have never experienced hostility until they began to build their new facility.
Opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer; they are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.
“They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group,” Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.
Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore “Vote for Jesus” T-shirts and carried signs that said “No Sharia law for USA!,” referring to the Islamic code of law.
Others took their opposition further, spray painting a sign announcing the “Future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro” and tearing it up.
Earlier this summer opponents criticized the planned mosque at hearings held by the Rutherford County Commission, as supporters held prayer vigils.
At one such prayer vigil, WTVF reported opponents speaking out against construction.
“No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Evy Summers said to WTVF. “Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity.”
So can we call Evy Summers et al. bigots now? If that isn’t bigotry, I don’t know what is.

Now we're up to arson.  Is it going to take actual mosque burnings and possible deaths before America realizes this is wrong?

The Democrats' Path To Victory

...is pretty clear cut:  jobs, jobs, jobs.  Steve Benen:
It's worth noting, then, that there's at least some evidence that attitudes have shifted in a more constructive direction. This question in the newly-released Newsweek poll bears special attention:
"Which one of the following do you think should have the higher priority for policy-makers in Washington right now:
37% Reducing the federal budget deficit
57% Federal spending to create jobs
6% Don't know
This strikes me as very encouraging. For many Americans, the "deficit" has become an amorphous concept that they've been conditioned to viscerally reject, and the polling last year suggested this knee-jerk reaction was so strong, deficit reduction was actually perceived as more important than the economy itself.

But the Newsweek poll -- yes, I know, it's only one poll -- wasn't close. Asked which should be a higher priority, the deficit or spending money on job creation, the latter won by 20 points.

Dems on the Hill are afraid to make economic investments because they expect a public backlash. They're nervous enough about the midterms and aren't in the mood to hear another round of "government spending is bad." But here's data showing that spending on job creation is actually quite popular. Republicans would respond by saying the deficit matters more, but that's not where the public is right now.

So why not borrow the money and invest in job creation? Like, immediately?
You would think so.  But gosh, Republicans keep blocking job bills "against the will of the people".  Obama needs to look into an executive branch program for jobs if possible, using the resources of the Treasury and Fed if he has to.

If he doesn't, enjoy the GOP-controlled Congress.  Really is that simple.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Last Call

Looks like our friends the Invisible Teabaggers are back. Gateway Dipstick:

Glenn Beck announced, “I heard two estimates from the media. One was 300,000 and the other was 500,000. So, who knows just how many are actually here today.”

Wow, half a million is certainly an impressive number...if by "half a million" you mean less than a hundred thousand.
An estimated 87,000 people attended a rally organized by talk-radio host and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.
The company AirPhotosLive.com based the attendance on aerial pictures it took over the rally, which stretched from in front of the Lincoln Memorial along the Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument. Beck and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at the rally.
Beck, who predicted that at least 100,000 people would show up, opened his comments with a joke: "I have just gotten word from the media that there is over 1,000 people here today."
AirPhotosLive.com gave its estimate a margin of error of 9,000, meaning between 78,000 and 96,000 people attended the rally. The photos used to make the estimate were taken at noon Saturday, which is when the company estimated was the rally's high point.
Yes I know, it's another massive left-wing conspiracy to hide the other 400,000-plus people just like last year, when they said 70,000 people was actually two million.

By that winger math anywhere from 2.28 million to 2.74 million wingers were really out there, it's just all the aerial photos are owned by George Soros, right?

At least they've kept their lies within an order of magnitude this time.

Follow The Money Trail

If you want to know why the Dems are in real trouble, you must glean the scene of Wall Street green.
At a black-tie dinner in April, a politically influential hedge fund manager named Paul Singer offered a blistering critique of the “terrible path” he said Washington politicians were charting on economic issues.
Mr. Singer, professorial and soft-spoken, used a gathering of business and government leaders at the conservative Manhattan Institute to lash out at “indiscriminate attacks by political leaders against anything that moves in the world of finance.” Government efforts to “take over and run” the economy through more regulations, he warned, threatened to ruin the United States’ standing as the world leader in finance.
As the head of a $17 billion hedge fund, Mr. Singer, a self-described Barry Goldwater conservative who is 66, is using his financial might to try to change those policies. He has become one of the biggest bankrollers of Republican causes, giving more than $4 million of his money and raising millions more through fund-raisers he hosts for like-minded candidates who often share his distaste for what they view as governmental over-meddling in the financial industry.
The same day in June that the House gave final approval to the sweeping overhaul of financial regulations, Mr. Singer had a fund-raiser at his Central Park West apartment, netting more than $1 million for seven Republican Senate candidates who had opposed the bill. His hedge fund, Elliott Management, is the biggest source of money to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
With economic problems weighing heavily as the November elections approach, the divide between Republicans and Democrats in their attitudes toward Wall Street and the economy promises to be a recurring point of attack for both parties, and Mr. Singer is using his money to push conservative causes. 
And thank to the Supreme Court, those donations are now unlimited.  Welcome to the gilded age of the Golden Rule:  he who has the gold, makes the rules.

We're about to end up with the best Congress money can buy.

Taibbi On The Summer Of Insanity

Do read the whole thing.
There’s nothing in the world more tired than a progressive blogger like me flipping out over the latest idiocies emanating from the Fox News crowd. But this summer’s media hate-fest is different than anything we’ve seen before. What we’re watching is a calculated campaign to demonize blacks, Mexicans, and gays and convince a plurality of economically-depressed white voters that they are under imminent legal and perhaps even physical attack by a conspiracy of leftist nonwhites. They’re telling these people that their government is illegitimate and criminal and unironically urging secession and revolution.
The Fox/Rush/Savage crowd in the last 18 months has taken the anti-Muslim fervor that launched a phony war in Iraq, carried George Bush to re-election, and pushed through the Patriot Act, and re-directed that anger at a domestic nonwhite enemy. In doing so they’ve achieved a perfect storm of political cross-purposes: they’ve almost completely succeeded in distracting the public from the real causes of their economic misfortune (i.e. Wall Street corruption), they’ve re-energized a Republican party that was devastated by eight years of Bush-era corruption and incompetence, and, as usual, they’ve made Rupert Murdoch a shitload of money. 
And in the end that's all that matters. It's a brilliant plan, and it's working perfectly, to the point where the Republican party is poised to take back the House and very possibly even the Senate as well, and then unleash a never-ending Clinton-era storm of endless investigations and infinite-ring circuses to destroy what's left of liberalism in this country.

Taibbi certainly understands what's coming.  I don't think enough in the Obama administration do.

Keep The Home Fires Burning

President Obama dedicated his weekly address today to the fact he's brought 90,000 troops home from Iraq since he took office.  That's true...

Three days before the official end of the US combat mission in Iraq, US President Barack Obama said on Saturday that the war in the country was "ending" and called Iraq a "sovereign" nation free to determine its own destiny.
"On Tuesday, after more than seven years, the United States of America will end its combat mission in Iraq and take an important step forward in responsibly ending the Iraq war," Obama said in his weekly radio address.
The president, who spends Saturday his last full vacation day at on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, will cover the issue of Iraq in a nationally-televised address from the Oval Office on Tuesday.
"As a candidate for this office, I pledged I would end this war," Obama recalled in the address. "As president, that is what I am doing. We have brought home more than 90,000 troops since I took office."
US troop numbers in Iraq fell below 50,000 last Tuesday in line with Obama's instructions as part of a "responsible drawdown" of troops, seven years on from the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
...but how many of those 90,000 troops are now in Afghanistan as part of the "surge" there to fight that particular losing war?  Obama really, really should avoid making "Mission Accomplished!" type statements like this until he's brought all of our troops home from the Middle East...

...which of course will never happen.

Thoughts On Beckapalooza

As Glenn Beck helpfully reminds everyone today that the civil rights movement was really all about white people and what they contributed to help black folk ride buses (the same buses that 47 years later we should shut down for being tax-consuming parasites apparently) and drink from water fountains in parks (which 47 years later should also be shut down for being tax-consuming parasites) I can't help but think that maybe there's something that Glennsanity is overlooking just a bit.

Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald puts it brilliantly.
We're in an odd moment. Having opposed the freedom movement of the 20th century, some social conservatives seek, now that that movement stands vindicated and venerated, to arrogate unto themselves its language and heroes, to remake it in their image.
Thus, you get claims that "racism" is now what Shirley Sherrod said in a speech to the NAACP. And people calling Sarah Palin the new face of feminism. And conservatives touting the likelihood that King voted Republican — as if the party in 1957 bore any resemblance to the party now.
But even by those standards, Glenn Beck's effrontery is monumental. Even by those standards, he goes too far. Beck was part of the "we" who founded the civil rights movement!? "No." Here's who "we" is.
"We" is Emmett Till, tied to a cotton gin fan in the murky waters of the Tallahatchie River. "We" is Rosa Parks telling the bus driver no. "We" is Diane Nash on a sleepless night waiting for missing Freedom Riders to check in. "We" is Charles Sherrod, husband of Shirley, gingerly testing desegregation compliance in an Albany, Ga., bus station. "We" is a sharecropper making his X on a form held by a white college student from the North. "We" is celebrities like Harry Belafonte, Marlon Brando and Pernell Roberts of "Bonanza," lending their names, their wealth and their labor to the cause of freedom.
"We" is Medgar Evers, Michael Schwerner, Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, Cynthia Wesley, Andrew Goodman, Denise McNair, James Chaney, Addie Mae Collins and Carole Robertson, shot, beaten and blown to death for that cause.
"We" is Lyndon Johnson, building a legislative coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats to defeat intransigent Southern Democratic conservatives and enshrine that cause into law.
And "we" is Martin Luther King, giving voice and moral clarity to the cause — and paying for it with his life.
The we to which Glenn Beck belongs is the we that said no, the we that cried "socialism!" "communism!" "tyranny!" whenever black people and their allies cried, freedom.

I'll boil it down to "screw you, Glenn Beck."   The man is trying to rewrite history to benefit himself.  He should be ashamed, but I don't think he's capable of it.  Up until now I thought Beck was a dangerously egomaniacal demagogue, but now the guy is borderline evil.

He opposes everything Dr. King stood for and died for, most of all social justice.

What kind of man would do something like this to the African-American community and sill be able to sleep at night, untroubled by the ghosts of people who died so he could exploit them?

Jesus really would have wept.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Last Call

Just how big should the "exclusion zone" be that supposedly should prevent the Park51 project from being built?  Of all the outfits to actually ask people that question, it's the friggin' Daily Caller and the results are both hysterical and pathetically sad.

So how many “steps away,” exactly, would a mosque need to be to avoid controversy?
It’s just not that simple, said Robert Spencer, author and editor of the website Jihad Watch, adding that it would be impossible to pin down an exact appropriate location for an Islamic center in the neighborhood.
The proximity to Ground Zero is just one component of a wide range of factors that ought to be considered, he said. These include “the historical connections of the new site to 9/11 and the buildings in the surrounding area.” Also, the site would need to be “as far away as would be necessary to take away the symbolic value that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Kahn have alluded to in saying that this mosque is intended to make a statement about 9/11.” With that in mind, he said, any answer with just a specific distance that did not provide for the other elements would be incomplete.
“I’m not going to give you an address. There is no way I could possibly do that or anybody could do that,” he replied when asked during a phone interview. “…You’re trying to trap me and I know it. You want to play the game? I know how to play this game. I’ve been doing this for many years, alright? I’ve talked to lots of reporters, I know the games you play. I ain’t playing. You’re trying to get me to give you an address and say ‘oh, if it’s one block over or one building over then it’s okay with Spencer, but one building over here, no then it’s a triumphal mosque.’ Well I’m not playing.”

Could it be because the argument is complete crap there, Rob, and that once you say "it's too close" then all of America has to qualify as too close, or your argument is exposed for the arbitrary hypocritical bull that it is when you actually do pin down a location?

Because without the veneer of "it's too close to Ground Zero" the actual problem is that you don't like Muslims, yes?

Baby Bust

The US birth rate numbers are looking rather low these days, here in the middle of the depression.
The U.S. birth rate has dropped for the second year in a row, and experts think the wrenching recession led many people to put off having children. The 2009 birth rate also set a record: lowest in a century.

Births fell 2.7 percent last year even as the population grew, numbers released Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics show.

"It's a good-sized decline for one year. Every month is showing a decline from the year before," said Stephanie Ventura, the demographer who oversaw the report. 

The birth rate, which takes into account changes in the population, fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year. That's down from 14.3 in 2007 and way down from 30 in 1909, when it was common for people to have big families. 

"It doesn't matter how you look at it—fertility has declined," Ventura said. 
Two observations:
1)  Kids are expensive.

2)  Cue the winger outrage that clearly this proves abortions are going to destroy America and must be outlawed now in 3...2...1...

Down In A Hole

Feeling so small...
How many House seats will the Republicans gain in 2010? To answer this question, we have run 1,000 simulations of the 2010 House elections. The simulations are based on information from past elections going back to 1946. Our methodology replicates that for our ultimately successful forecast of the 2006 midterm. Two weeks before Election Day in 2006, we posted a prediction that the Democrats would gain 32 seats and recapture the House majority. The Democrats gained 30 seats in 2006. Our current forecast for 2010 shows that the Republicans are likely to regain the House majority.

Our preliminary 2010 forecast will appear (with other forecasts by political scientists) in the October issue of PS: Political Science. By our reckoning, the most likely scenario is a Republican majority in the neighborhood of 229 seats versus 206 for the Democrats for a 50-seat loss for the Democrats. Taking into account the uncertainty in our model, the Republicans have a 79% chance of winning the House.
Good thing Dems backed down on jobs bills, additional stimulus, Wall Street reform, national immigration reform and climate legislation to accede to Republican demands in the name of bipartisan progress, because the voters sure are going to reward them for it...and what does that mean for America in 2011 with the GOP plan for "going forwards" and fixing the economy?
If President Barack Obama needed any more incentive to go all out for Democrats this fall, here it is: Republicans are planning a wave of committee investigations targeting the White House and Democratic allies if they win back the majority.

Everything from the microscopic — the New Black Panther party — to the massive –- think bailouts — is on the GOP to-do list, according to a half-dozen Republican aides interviewed by POLITICO. 
Won't this be fun?  Remember folks, Clinton tacked hard to the right, gave the GOP everything they wanted, repealed Glass-Steagall and balanced the budget during one of the biggest peacetime economic booms in American history.

The GOP responded by impeaching him anyway.

Imagine what they're going to do to Obama with a 10% unemployment rate. 

Meanwhile In Pakistan

...It's still hell on earth.
Fresh flooding has sent a million people fleeing from their homes in the south in the past 48 hours, the United Nations said. 
The death toll from the floods, triggered by unusually heavy monsoon downpours over the upper Indus basin a month ago, was expected to rise significantly as more bodies were found while many people were missing, a disaster authority spokeswoman said.
Floodwaters are beginning to recede across most of the country as the water flows downstream, but high tides in the Arabian Sea meant they still posed a threat to towns in Sindh province such as Thatta, 70 km (45 miles) east of Karachi.
"Concern continues to be the south," U.N. spokeswoman Stacey Winston told a news conference. "In the last 48 hours nearly one million people have been displaced."
The U.N. earlier said the floods had forced about six million people from their homes.
Millions of people now homeless in a flood-ravaged country and more water coming in some parts, in a place where government is barely holding on...a government with nukes and a serious domestic terrorism problem.  This disaster has been going on for weeks now with no real end in sight.

This will come back to haunt us.  Guaranteed.

Look For The Union Moose

The fight between Sarah Palin and AFL-CIO president Rich Trumka is getting really interesting, but I think Moose Lady might have bitten off more than she can chew. Palin's certainly picking a fight:

To my hardworking, patriotic brothers and sisters in the labor movement: you don't have to put up with the scare tactics and the big government agenda of the union bosses. There is a different home for you: the commonsense conservative movement. It cares about the same things you and I care about: a government that doesn't spend beyond its means, an economy focused on creating good jobs with good wages, and a leadership that is proud of America's achievements and doesn't go around apologizing to everyone for who we are. 

But after spending most of, oh, the last two years demonizing union employees, I doubt many are going to fall for it.  Trumka's response is classic:

Sarah Palin?

She used to have a job, your governor.... You knew her.... Or thought you did.... I know I thought I did. She seemed like a decent person, an outdoorswoman. Her husband's a steelworker. She seemed to take some OK stands for working families.

And then things got weird. After she tied herself to John McCain and they lost, she blew off Alaska. I guess she figured she'd trade up...shoot for a national stage. Alaska was too far from the FOX TV spotlight.

I bet most of you, on a clear day, can see her hypocrisy from your house.

I think Sarah Palin quit so she wouldn't have to be accountable... so she wouldn't have a record that could be scrutinized...

Instead, she's hanging out on cable TV, almost a parody of herself, coming out with conspiracy theories about Obama and his "death panels...." Talking about "the real America." Talking about building schools in "our neighboring country of Afghanistan." Writing speech notes to herself on her hands.
And he's not backing down from her, either.  It's good to remember that standing up to Palin's endless teenage tweet garbage and Facebook rants is actually the correct thing to do instead of slinking away from her, hoping she'll leave you alone.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

This is rich.
Nevadans would like a do-over.

Two-thirds of voters who say they back Sharron Angle wish another Republican had won the nomination, according to a poll for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and 8NewsNow that shows deep dissatisfaction with both the Tea Party pick and U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.

Nearly eight of 10 voters who remain undecided or who don't like Angle or Reid say they, too, would have preferred if the staunch conservative hadn't won the June 8 primary over her more moderate foes. And 58 percent of such nonaligned voters say they wish Reid hadn't won the Democratic nomination, suggesting a majority of Nevadans are unhappy with their choices.

Oh well, nobody ever accused Republican primary voters of being anything other than angry.  You know, like "attentive to issues of their candidate".

The Kentucky Waltz

Over at Down With Tyranny, Howie has an pretty thorough run-down of the House race in my own backyard: KY-4 and Republican Geoff Davis vs Democrat John Waltz.
In primary after primary, Republican incumbents have found themselves in real peril from an angry group of right-leaning voters who resent the budget-busting policies that helped bring the economy to its knees. There is a growing divide between the Mitch McConnell machine and the grassroots movement that lifted Rand Paul to notoriety. What will happen when the choice moves to the general election? Can a left-leaning candidate that shares the fundamental frustrations and fiscal concerns of the Tea Party carry more appeal than a follower of Mitch McConnell?

This is a real possibility in a place like Kentucky where the voters typically choose Democrats for state office, but lean Republican in federal elections. The state is not as red as it may initially appear and populism is a winning message in a state that fell in love with the Clintons.

Enter John Waltz, a progressive-minded, populist, blue-collar Democrat running a stronger than expected campaign against one of the least accomplished McConnell loyalists in Congress, Geoff Davis. Waltz's policy positions are progressive, and his style and populist message are ones that Kentucky Tea Partiers could almost certainly learn to appreciate.

Waltz served in the Navy in Iraq and Afghanistan and when he returned home from the wars, he suffered serious health problems and went to Geoff Davis for help. “I figured he was a veteran and a Congressman and he would help me. I was wrong,” Waltz says. As a veteran advocate, Davis brought him to fundraisers and used him as a prop to talk about taking care of America’s heroes, yet he did nothing to actually help. Waltz worked with other veterans as well and had the same experience. Waltz says he is telling his story to show that if Davis can’t even bother to find the time to help disabled veterans, we know what he’s going to do when you give his office a call.

Instead of just giving up, John decided to challenge the powerful northern Kentucky incumbent. With no money and no political experience, Waltz’s biggest asset has been tenacity. He outraised Geoff Davis in the most recent fundraising reports filed with the FEC and he did it the hard way. Waltz raised slightly more than Davis in small donations from more than 400 people. Davis on the other hand collected 98% of his money from big PAC checks. Only 8 people actually donated to Davis’ campaign, a point that Waltz makes with zeal.
Howie's logic is that John Waltz can turn the Kentucky Tea Party anger against Mitch McConnell and incumbents in general against Davis, and that Waltz can ride that wave to the House.  He's an Iraq vet and his story of deciding to run against Davis when Davis was refusing to do anything to help Iraq/Afghanistan vets is a strongly moving tale.  He talks a solid budgetary game and is actually preaching fiscal responsibility, and his issue page is definitely stuff I agree with:  health care, jobs, reducing foreign debt to improve the jobs picture (smart guy, this Waltz) and green energy.

Will anti-incumbent anger at Davis be enough to give Waltz a win?  Howie thinks so.
Davis ran afoul of the Tea Party movement early on. The Kentucky Club for Growth publicly took him to task for ridiculing and dismissing those that were fighting back against the fiscal mess created by Republicans. An excerpt from the group’s website:
“In the interview, Davis calls the ideas of the Tea Parties, that bailouts and reckless spending is bad and the expansion of liberty is good, as "Pie in the Sky," then proceeds to criticize the Club for Growth, saying as David Adams transcribes:

"A lot of conservative groups like Club for Growth and others unfortunately spend all their time going after Republicans. As I've shared, it would be nice if they tried to defeat a liberal now and then."

Mr. Davis, just because someone has an "R" next to their name doesn't mean that that person is voting to uphold conservative principles.”

Davis has been backtracking ever since and attempting to reach out to Tea Party voters. It is not an easy sell for a three-term incumbent who has proved more of a machine politician than a reformer. Especially one who insulted the Club for Growth by saying they were wasting their money attacking elected “RINO” Republicans. Davis dodges questions about whether Obama has a legitimate birth certificate, possibly because he himself was born in Quebec Canada.
Davis really is a terrible politician and Northern Kentucky deserves better.  I've given my own reasons why I'm supporting John Waltz for the House as well.  I think Waltz has a legitimate shot.
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