Friday, July 30, 2010

25 Bells


Step The Fuck Up


I have to say, I don’t get the administration waffling on Elizabeth Warren at all.
Leave aside the merits of appointing Warren, which are considerable, and think about the politics. At this point, not appointing Warren would be seen by the base as a slap in the face, and would seriously dampen enthusiasm going into the midterms. And Democrats need every bit of enthusiasm they can muster to avoid a Republican takeover of the House.
Whe puts it in those terms, that actually makes me think it's less likely that they'll nominate her. If they do, means "the left" would be happy, and that will make people who listen to Rush Limbaugh less likely to vote Democratic during the 2010 elections.

I really hope I'm wrong, and I think at this point there would be a political cost for not nominating her... but then again hiring her might upset Glenn Beck, so they better not risk it.

I'll also add my nomination for tweet of the century goes to Pachacutec for this:
Funny how no one talks about a "team of rivals" now that Elizabeth Warren is a threat to the clique.
Yep, gotta love the fierce debate of everyone vs. Jared Bernstein.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Train of Thought Lounge: Pharrell

Sorry for the lack of posting, it's been a crazy week at work.

Pharrell: Frontin' (feat. Jay-Z)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Train Link of the Day

Click on this (it's actually grosser than what you think it is), pronto!


That is all.

More Lives, Money Down The Drain

Amazingly timed with the wikileaks data dump that confirmed what many of us had feared about our escalating war in Afganistan, there's this:
Washington (CNN) -- The House of Representatives held a heated debate Tuesday over whether to pass a nearly $59 billion emergency spending bill, the bulk of which would go toward the U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan.
It took months to pass an extension on unemployment benefits, yet the funding for a war that even the commie hippies at the Council on Foreign Relations are beginning to question seems to be right on schedule.

I really thought the wikileaks disclosure would have put more pressure on the media and our politicians to ask a bit more about just what we're doing there, but everyone seems to have already moved on.

Leaving once we kill everyone who doesn't like us isn't a strategy, but from what I can tell that seems to be the plan. The sooner the Administration realizes this the better, and we can move on to other things, like not spending all of our money on pointless wars.

Monday, July 26, 2010

White Privilage Is A Myth, Says White Member of 99% White U.S. Senate

Adam Sewer has a great take down of Jim Webb's recent op-ed. The whole thing well argued and researched, but he really could have stopped after this:
There are a number of things about Senator Jim Webb's op-ed "The Myth of White Privilege" to dislike, starting with the fact that one of the awesome things about the existence of white privilege is that you can be part of a body like the U.S. Senate, which has a total number of zero elected black members, and write something titled "The Myth of White Privilege" without anyone batting an eyelash.
Webb is good on a lot of issues, but this is blindingly stupid.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

#126- A mosque is constructed in New York. The Right goes mad.

Newt Gingrich: "A mosque and community center is being built near Ground Zero in New York? There's only one appropriate response: lose my fucking mind."

America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization. Sadly, too many of our elites are the willing apologists for those who would destroy them if they could.

No mosque. No self deception. No surrender.

The time to take a stand is now - at this site, on this issue.

"Hey Newt, I heard there's a mosque or two in DC as well."

*Gingrich pisses himself, shits pants, and barfs in between screams. Continues doing so until he collapses several hours later.*

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Financial Reform Becomes Law

After a long legislative fight, the financial reform bill finally passed the Senate. It's extremely lacking in some key areas, and definitely doesn't do nearly enough to break up the power of the megabanks. With that said, unlike how I felt after the passage of health care reform, I feel pretty confident that this is a major improvement over the status quo, and I'm very happy it passed.

A major way the reforms can have an intimidate impact is if the right person is nominated to head the newly formed Consumer Protection Agency. Labor and advocacy groups are pushing Elizabeth Warren, and it's such a no brainer you can bet it won't happen. Tim Geithner seems to be opposed to her nomination, which should tell you everything you need to know about why she'd be a good choice.

The PCCC is gathering signatures in support of her nomination, so sign on to show your support.

As for the point of financial reform ("so that we never have a crisis like this again") I'm far far less optimistic. The big banks are just as powerful as they were before, and the masters of the universe whose ideas caused the crisis are still highly thought of (or you know, in the Administration), while the economists who have been right remain marginalized and largely ignored by those calling the shots.

The Elizabeth Warren thing is huge. If Obama fucks that up, it's a pretty big black eye not only because she would be amazing, but because it shows the worst elements of his Administration really are calling all the shots. Warren's nomination would at least be a glimmer of hope that the Larry Summers and Tim Geithner Experience might finally be coming to an end, Jared Bernstein could be let out of his cage and the chance of better economic policy might be in sight.

This is a fork in the road for the Administration's economic policy, hopefully they make the right call.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Conservative Hacks Rule Their World

Step 1: A right wing asshole (who also happens to be a pathological liar) releases part of a video featuring USDA employee Shirley Sherrod with the sole purpose of making it look like she said scary stuff about white people.

Step 2: Tom Vilsak (Obama's Secretary of Agriculture) immediately fires her, reportedly with pressure from the White House because "Glenn Beck was going to talk about it".

Step 3: Various news outlets (and unlike the ACORN scam, most of the mainstream media as well) decided to do the slightest bit of research to realize the story is 100% BS. The tape was taken out of context, CNN actually checks out the family in question, who call Sherrod a "family friend".

Step 4: The White House says that the decision to fire Sherrod was "100%" on Vilsak, but that they stand by it.

Chris Bowers pointed this out, but it's fairly telling that it took a couple of minutes to make the decision to fire Sherrod based on a known liar's bullshit, yet as of now she doesn't have her job back. And even though they denied it earlier, new reports say that Rahm chief of staff Jim Messina celebrated how quickly they had fired her at their morning staff meeting.

I'm pretty happy that the fallout from this will probably force the administration to rehire her, and I'm sure everyone's sorry now, but they way this whole episode went down speaks volumes about the Administration.

If you're a conservative, no matter how much of a lying hack you are, the White House will always ask "how high?"

Now if you're a Nobel prize winning economist offering substantive criticism of how Obama is running the economy...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

White Privilege

Tim Wise is a beast.

We seriously need to start a fund that allows him to be on every cable TV show that discusses race from now until the end of time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Racism and the Teabaggers

Even though we tend to post on teabagger insanity as comic relief around, I hadn't written anything about NAACP resolution because... well it's such a fucking no-brainer that I didn't think it would make that much noise.

I guess I should have known the media would have pushed this into a story/controversy/Sunday talk show topic, so here are a few fairly obvious points:

The teabaggers care more about being called racists than they do the actual racism prevalent in their ranks, and this should be pointed out. The NAACP resolution only calls on the teabaggers to condemn racism that exists in their own group! This isn't hard, and shouldn't be something you fight against, unless you think that a lot of your members are racists, and well, that leads to the next problem...

... Racism is pretty prevalent at these gatherings, and is why their leaders are so hesitant to make it look like they might not hate black people. Ours was only one example, but I walked through every corner of Beck's 9/12 rally with a sign that said "Gee, a whole lot of white people here today..." and was approached dozens of times WITH COMPLIMENTS. "Yeah, isn't it great none of them showed" up was the average comment. Three people saw my sign and called me out. All of them were reporters. Again, this is one example, but if I went to a rally for my cause and someone had a racist sign, I'd tell them to get the fuck out. People who aren't racists don't feel comfortable associating with racists, it's just that simple.

One more thing: If you are trying to show everyone you're not a racist, don't have the spokesman for one of the biggest teabagging organizations in the country do shit like this:
In the post, Williams calls NAACP President Ben Jealous "Tom's Nephew" and ties tea party calls for smaller government to "emancipation" (which, of course, is just steps away from the standard tea party line that Democratic policies amount to "tyranny.")

But the central theme centers around, as Williams writes, the "absurdity of a group that calls blacks 'Colored People' hurling charges of racism."

Here's a sample (the post is written in the form of a mock letter to President Abraham Lincoln from Jealous):
We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!
That's just the introduction. Here's the good stuff:
Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government "stop raising our taxes." That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society? Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house. Please repeal the 13th and 14th Amendments and let us get back to where we belong.
Again, for the record: this how an official at the Tea Party Express explains how not racist the Tea Party is.
It's no wonder this guy won't denounce racists within his group, huh?

Score one for the NAACP's tactics, because thanks to the news generated from his letter, he was forced out of the professional teabagging circut for... wait for it ... "racism". It does exist!

It doesn't take much effort to figure this stuff out:

Are the leaders of these groups doing/saying racist things on a regular basis? They are? Ok.

Are their members often seen carrying racist signs and saying racist things? They are? Ok.

Did the leadership of every teabagger group just go ape-shit at an organization that ASKED THEM TO CONDEMN RACISM? They did? Noted.

Hey teabaggers? Tired of being called racists?

Then stop saying racist shit!

It really is that fucking simple.

Nobody Could Have Predicted...

The Washington Post has a massive investigative piece today that takes a look at the military/intelligence/contractor clusterfuck that was spawned post 9/11:
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
The article is definately worth a read, but I thought two reactions were pretty dead on:

Oh Well

It occurs to me that some crazy hippies thought that a massive overreaction to 9/11, including pointless wars and massive expansion of the security state, might not be such a good idea. Well, nobody could have predicted. Bygones.
Matt Yglesias:
Dana Priest continues to do the kind of reporting that 90% of "reporters" only think they do.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Obama Embraces Deficit Hysteria with Open Arms

When the Democrats get slaughtered in the fall because the economy hasn't turned around, people will start looking for places to put the blame.

One of these quotes is Barack Obama, one of these quotes is from John Boehner:
"It’s time for government to tighten their belts and show the American people that we ‘get’ it"

"At a time when so many families are tightening their belts, he’s going to make sure that the government continues to tighten its own"
We’ll never know how differently the politics would have played if Obama, instead of systematically echoing and giving credibility to all the arguments of the people who want to destroy him, had actually stood up for a different economic philosophy. But we do know how his actual strategy has worked, and it hasn’t been a success.
Talking like a Republican while advocating conservative ideas isn't 11 dimensional chess, it makes it look like an idiot who doesn't stand for anything. And when the economy is this bad and voters can't tell who stands for what, it's the people in power who get booted.

But it's not just Republican talking points that this Administration has embraced, it's their failed policies as well: (via Digby)
Obama picks adviser to cut deficit

“Jack’s challenge over the next few years is to use his extraordinary skill and experience to cut down that deficit and put our nation back on a fiscally responsible path. And I have the utmost faith in his ability to achieve this goal as a central member of our economic team,’’ Obama said.

Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, called Lew “a superb choice’’ and a person of “the highest integrity.’’

“He knows how to make the tough choices. And he knows how to reach across the aisle to find bipartisan solutions,’’ Conrad said.
So Obama adopts Republican rhetoric and conservative ideas... which becomes a self fulfilling prophecy it leads to Repblican gains in the 2010 elections, giving Obama more Republicans to appease and beg for their affection.

I bet he and John Boehner will have some great discussions about the government "tightening it's belt" after Obama's deficit fetishism has made him speaker of the house.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010



The Return of the Levi

Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston are engaged, and they've shared the news on the cover of Us Weekly, seen below. They have not shared the news with Bristol's mom Sarah Palin, who has mocked Levi as "Ricky Hollywood" and poked at his "aspiring porn" career.

Bristol tell the glossy, "It is intimidating and scary just to think about what her reaction is going to be. Hopefully she will jump on board."

The Levi Johnston Experience continues.

It's Not About The Deficit

It's about the right wing ideology that believes that the poor should be forced to feel the pain of a recession. Kevin Drum:
Republicans like to pretend that deficit reduction is their (and their base's) top priority -- but have you noticed how often they reject ideas to actually help close the budget shortfall?

The Democratic health care reform proposal lowered the deficit ... and Republicans opposed it.

The Democratic student-loan bill lowered the deficit ... and Republicans opposed it.

The Democratic effort to let Bush tax cuts for the rich expire will lower the deficit ... and Republicans oppose it.

The Democratic energy/climate bill would lower the deficit ... and Republicans oppose it.

The Democratic effort to reduce bloated Pentagon spending would lower the deficit ... and Republicans oppose it.

And if you press Republican leaders on how they'd prefer to lower the deficit, they can't answer the question.

It's almost as if Republicans say they care about deficit reduction, until they're offered a chance to actually reduce the deficit. If I didn't know better, I might think GOP officials don't think a deficit-reduction measure "counts" unless it undermines struggling families in some way.
And if you weren't convinced that none of this was about the deficit, this type of economic logic should drive it home: (Drum again)
Fiorina, who decided to parlay her professional failures into becoming the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in California, talked to a the CBS affiliate in San Francisco this week about her approach to tax cuts.
"Let me propose something that may seem crazy to you: you don't need to pay for tax cuts. They pay for themselves, if they are targeted, because they create jobs."
This is, in most respects, even more ridiculous than Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) assertion that shouldn't try to pay for tax cuts. For the Senate Minority Whip, tax cuts are always good, even if they increase the deficit, because they shrink government. For the deeply confused Carly Fiorina, the policy is more fantastical -- paying for tax cuts is unnecessary because once taxes are cut, more money simply materializes, magically, in the federal treasury. The deficit simply won't go up, she argues, no matter how much taxes are cut.

Thirty years ago, this raving stupidity had a name: "voodoo economics." More recently, it's come to be known as belief in the "Tax Fairy."

Regardless of the name, the notion that tax cuts necessarily pay for themselves is one of the more pernicious lies in the far-right arsenal. It's both gibberish and right-wing propaganda, but it's nevertheless repeated from time to time.
In the conservative mind there's no problem with cutting taxes and creating massive deficits, because it shrinks government, and that's inherently a good thing in their eyes. Cheney famously said "Regan proved deficits don't matter" and he's right because nothing that conservatives care about will ever get cut, even when Democrats come into office.

Hell, Obama was so terrified of these harmless talking points that he went of his way to create a commission that will submit a bill that could cut Social Security and Medicare to a lame duck congress. Chances are it won't pass, but lending all that credibility to a right wing talking point does enough damage on it's own.

My hope is that one day we'll have a Democratic leader that will take the GOP head on with this deficit bullshit, and ask them to lead the charge in letting the Bush tax cuts expire to ease the "deficit crisis".Or call them out on their plans to cut Social Security. Or to take on the military industrial complex where there really is plenty of wasteful government spending to be cut. It's the easiest gotcha in the book.

I don't know what will force the Democrats to stop being such reactionary wimps, but hopefully in my lifetime...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mama Grizzlies

I have no idea how JJ could type up an entire post about Palin without including this gem- enjoy:

The Real Big (Alaskan) Meat

This really speaks for itself:
Sarah Palin's political action committee spent some $3,800 in the past quarter on "gift bag items" from an Alaskan company called Indian Valley Meats, according to SarahPAC's latest FEC reports

Indian Valley, according to its (drool-worthy) web site, sells gift boxes full of Alaskan meats: smoked salmon, caribou sausage, musk ox jerky, reindeer hot dogs, trail sticks, honey mustard sauce and more.

Palin apparently spent the nearly $4,000 on gifts for supporters at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference back in April. According to a report in Business Week, more than 3,000 delegates walked into Palin's speech to find "an Alaska snack from SarahPAC"-- Indian Valley's teriyaki sticks with caribou meat.
It must be nice to have lots of really stupid people give you truckloads of money for doing absolutely nothing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Train Of Thought Lounge: Prop Joe

Re-watching season 2 of the Wire, and I had forgotten how amazing the Prop Joe/ Sergei meeting is (starting around 3:30):

Not Fucking Helping

There's a general school of thought in progressive circles that while more stimulus is desperately needed, Obama is doing as much as possible to help the unemployment situation. I tend not to agree with that position for a variety of reasons, partially because they keep saying shit like this:
Here's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner on The Kudlow Report last night:
Sec. GEITHNER: We have a pro-growth agenda. Part of the agenda is growing exports. They're central to our future. What the president today is to say, that is important to the United States, we're going to be committed to making sure we're that we're expanding opportunities for American business everywhere. Now, this president understands deeply that governments don't create jobs, businesses create jobs. And our job as government is try to make sure we're creating the conditions that allow businesses to prosper so they can hire people back, get this economy going again.
This echoes President Obama, as quoted in a piece by TAP's Tim Fernholz:
"Now, government can't create jobs, but it can help create the conditions for small businesses to grow and thrive and hire more workers," President Barack Obama said yesterday as he urged Congress to take up new jobs legislation at an event honoring Small Business Owners of the Year. "Government can't guarantee a company's success, but it can knock down the barriers that prevent small-business owners from getting loans or investing in the future."
As Adam Bink and atrios point out, to say that the Government can't create jobs is 1) not true, 2) a conservative talking point 3) not true 4) the last thing you want to say if you claim you're also pushing for THE GOVERNMENT TO CREATE MORE JOBS.

Taking this into acount, we there are two options:

A: The Administration wants to create more jobs, but is extremely incompetent when advocating for further job creation measures.

B: The Administration doesn't think our current unemployment rate is a problem.

I hope option B isn't true, but option A isn't very encouraging either.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Train Of Thought Lounge: Talib Kweli

Talib Kweli - The Proud

In Memory of Oscar Grant

The Proud

Earlier this year:
A New Year's Day shooting in which a subway police officer fired a deadly shot into the back of an unarmed man has the San Francisco Bay Area demanding answers as authorities appeal for patience.

Bay Area Rapid Transit spokesman Linton Johnson told CNN affiliate KTVU-TV in Oakland, California, that the officer is presumed innocent and described him as devastated.
. . .
Some of the young men were handcuffed, but not 22-year-old Oscar Grant. The video from the anonymous passenger shows Grant seated on the floor with his back against the wall.

Grant holds up his hands, appearing to plead with police. Burris said Tuesday that Grant was asking police not to use a Taser.

"He said to them, 'Don't Tase me; I have a 4-year-old daughter,' " Burris said.

The interaction on the video is not audible.

Seconds later, police put Grant face-down on the ground. Grant appears to struggle.

One of the officers kneels on Grant as another officer stands up, tugs at his gun, unholsters it and fires a shot into Grant's back.

Burris said the bullet went through Grant's back and then ricocheted off the floor and through his lungs.

Grant, who has a 4-year-old daughter, died seven hours later, KTVU reported.

"I couldn't believe it. We was already following directions and everything, and they shot him," Fernando Anicete, one of the young men with Grant, told KTVU.
And 7 months later, the verdict:
Today Johannes Mehserle, the former BART police officer who killed Oscar Grant while he was lying face down and handcuffed in an Oakland train station, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter -- his crime, according to the jury, was negligence in not knowing the difference between his heavy black gun and his light yellow Taser. Of the possible outcomes Mehserle was facing, involuntary manslaughter was the best he could have hoped for short of acquittal. He faces a maximum sentence of four years for the original crime, possibly more for the use of a firearm.

I want to focus for a moment on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. To convict on the higher charge of voluntary manslaughter, the prosecution would have had to prove that Mehserle's fear of Grant and his friends was "unreasonable." It decided the crime was involuntary. In other words, Mehserle's fear? That was reasonable.
Adam Serwer expands on the role of fear in American society:
Fear is at the core of questions of justice involving the deaths of black people at the hands of the authorities in the United States of America, dating back to when Toussaint L'Overture put the fear of G-d in slaveowners by revealing that their "property" might someday rise up against them. L'Overture still has that effect on some people. Following emancipation were the days when "justice" was meted out in the South by terrorists posing as vigilantes. Even then, when such atrocities were an accepted part of black life, people inside and outside the South found ways to sympathize with the anger and fear white Southerners felt toward their black neighbors -- The New York Times editorialized in the 1890s that no "reputable or respectable negro" had ever been lynched.

Even decades after the civil-rights era, a cop shooting an unarmed black man is barely a crime -- a 2007 ColorLines investigation of police shootings in New York City found that in 12 instances when the victim was unarmed, only one officer was found criminally liable. There hasn't been a murder conviction on a police shooting in Oakland since 1983.  As Kai Wright wrote in the aftermath of the Sean Bell verdict, "American law has been sanctioning the killing of black people to mollify white fear for centuries. ... We scare the shit out of America. And that fear excuses just about any reaction it spawns." Mehserle is profoundly unlucky to be punished at all.

Times change, but the radioactive fear of black people, black men in particular, has proved to have a longer half-life than any science could have discerned. This is not a fear white people possess of black people -- it is a fear all Americans possess. It makes white cops kill black cops, it makes black cops kill black men, and it whispers in the ears of white and nonwhite jurors alike that fear of an unarmed black man lying face down in the ground is not "unreasonable." All of which is to say, while it infects all of us, a few of us bear the brunt of the suffering it causes.

This aged fear is not the only thing preventing justice for Oscar Grant. We live in a time when Americans are also possessed by a fear of terrorism. In the thrall of that fear we've done more than just cede civil liberties; we've come to accept extraordinary government power over life and death in the name of Keeping Us Safe. Instead of believing that people who hold the power of life and death in their hands should be held to the highest standards of conduct, we remember our fear and just feel thankful for their presence. Instead of believing that great power comes with responsibility, we shrug at the collateral damage, because at least it isn't us.
Extremely well said, and really fucking depressing.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stupid Policy, Stupid Politics

Shit on Labor? Why Not? It's something this Administration seems to do for fun:
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama is risking a revolt within his own party as he presses ahead on a free trade agreement with South Korea, setting the stage for a showdown after November legislative elections.

Organized labor, a critical support base for Obama's Democratic Party, and several Democrats have already vowed to fight the deal which they say would hurt workers.

"To try and advance the Korean FTA when so many workers are still struggling to find work would simply move our economy backward," said Representative Louise Slaughter, a Democrat who leads the powerful Rules Committee.

The deal would be the largest for the United States since the the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico in 1994.
This was a deal negotiated by Bush and has the same problems found in the rest of the NAFTA style trade agreements. Some of the details:
Foreign Investor Rights. The investment chapter still affords foreign investors greater rights than those enjoyed by U.S. investors. Not one word was changed in the Korea FTAs’ foreign investor chapters that promote off-shoring, and subject our domestic environmental, zoning, health and other public interest policies to challenge by foreign investors in foreign tribunals. The Korea FTA also allows challenges by foreign investors in foreign tribunals of timber, mining, construction and other concession contracts with the U.S. federal government.

Food Safety Provisions. The amended text does not address limits on imported food safety and inspection. These FTAs still contain language requiring the United States to accept imported food that does not meet our safety standards.

Procurement Provisions. The Korea FTA procurement rules subject many common federal and state procurement policies to challenge in trade tribunals and directly forbid other common procurement policies. These procurement rules continue the NAFTA/CAFTA ban on anti-off-shoring and Buy America policies and expose U.S. renewable energy, recycled content and other environmental safety requirements to challenge.

Agriculture Provisions. The text does not address the problems in the NAFTA-style agriculture trade rules that have simultaneously undermined U.S. producers’ ability to earn a fair price for their crops at home and in the global market place. Multinational grain trading and food processing companies have made enormous profits while farmers on both ends have been hurt. Continuing this model is projected to increase hunger; illicit drug cultivation; undocumented migration; and continue the race to the bottom for commodity prices, pitting farmer against farmer and country against country to see who can produce food the cheapest, regardless of standards on labor, the environment or food safety.

Access to Medicines. While the amended text of these FTAs removes the most egregious, CAFTA-based, provisions limiting the access to affordable medicines, the text still includes NAFTA provisions that undermine the right to affordable medicines for poorer countries contained in the WTO’s Doha Declaration.
Obama has always been a fan of this broken model of trade, so him pushing these agreements isn't a surprise. And his Administration has shown multiple times that he doesn't give a shit about going against labor in a legislative fight.

But just like the way his Administration has embraced the deficit fetishists, Obama has once again endorsed the always elusive dumb policy/dumber politics combo. Not only is the NAFTA model of free trade a disaster, but it's extremely unpopular with voters! Not to mention it's going out of the way to pick a fight with union members, who will be even less likely to turn out to work for Democratic campaigns.

The 2010 midterms might have been bad without this stuff, but the Administration seems to be going out of it's make sure it's a slaughter.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Right and Wrong

Paul Krugman illustrates the problem:
A quick note on David Brooks’s column today. I have no idea what he’s talking about when he says,

The Demand Siders don’t have a good explanation for the past two years

Funny, I thought we had a perfectly good explanation: severe downturn in demand from the financial crisis, and a stimulus which we warned from the beginning wasn’t nearly big enough. And as I’ve been trying to point out, events have strongly confirmed a demand-side view of the world.

But there’s something else in David’s column, which I see a lot: the argument that because a lot of important people believe something, it must make sense:

Moreover, the Demand Siders write as if everybody who disagrees with them is immoral or a moron. But, in fact, many prize-festooned economists do not support another stimulus. Most European leaders and central bankers think it’s time to begin reducing debt, not increasing it — as do many economists at the international economic institutions. Are you sure your theorists are right and theirs are wrong?

Yes, I am. It’s called looking at the evidence. I’ve looked hard at the arguments the Pain Caucus is making, the evidence that supposedly supports their case — and there’s no there there.

And you just have to wonder how it’s possible to have lived through the last ten years and still imagine that because a lot of Serious People believe something, you should believe it too. Iraq? Housing bubble? Inflation? (It’s worth remembering that Trichet actually raised rates in June 2008, because he believed that inflation — not the financial crisis — was the big threat facing Europe.)

There are two types of economists right now: There are those that do actual research, examine the past and come to scientific conclusions, and there are those blinded by an ideology that believes everyone but the rich in this country have it too easy. This isn't a straight ideology split (McCain's former economist Mark Zandi has supported more stimulus), but it is most certainly a split between those that have been right, and those that have been wrong.

The economists who have been wrong about just about everything for the past 30 years think that we should focus on reducing the deficit, while the economists who have been largely right are arguing that we needed and continue to need more stimulus.

David Brooks is a moron who thinks the biggest problem our country faces right now is that the poor have it too good. Paul Krugman is a Nobel prize winning economist who has been spot on in predicting the economy over the last 3 years. The idea that the administration has shut out Paul Krugman (and similar minded economists) yet is bending over backwards to please David Brooks is fucking appalling.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nobody Could Have Predicted

BP was just making shit up: (Via atrios)
In the 77 days since oil from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has skimmed or burned about 60 percent of the amount it promised regulators it could remove in a single day.

The disparity between what BP promised in its March 24 filing with federal regulators and the amount of oil recovered since the April 20 explosion underscores what some officials and environmental groups call a misleading numbers game that has led to widespread confusion about the extent of the spill and the progress of the recovery.

"It's clear they overreached," said John F. Young Jr., council chairman in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish. "I think the federal government should have at the very least picked up a phone and started asking some questions and challenged them about the accuracy of that number and tested the veracity of that claim."

In a March report that was not questioned by federal officials, BP said it had the capacity to skim and remove 491,721 barrels of oil each day in the event of a major spill.

As of Monday, with about 2 million barrels released into the gulf, the skimming operations that were touted as key to preventing environmental disaster have averaged less than 900 barrels a day.
And this doesn't even get into their use of dispersants, which sound like they've made the problem worse...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day!

This thing is pretty fucking amazing and worth reading on a regular basis. This is equally awesome, but less well known.

Happy 4th!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Joe Buck Disgusting Act of the Week: The DNC

Even a blind squirrel, or a broken clock...
"Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."...

"It was the president who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he's such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that's the one thing you don't do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan."
The man who said those words?

What up indeed.

So how does the DNC respond? Well since it's the DNC, they do it in the most hacktastic way possible:

Here goes Michael Steele setting policy for the GOP again. The likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham will be interested to hear that the Republican Party position is that we should walk away from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban without finishing the job. They'd also be interested to hear that the Chairman of the Republican Party thinks we have no business in Afghanistan notwithstanding the fact that we are there because we were attacked by terrorists on 9-11.

And, the American people will be interested to hear that the leader of the Republican Party thinks recent events related to the war are 'comical' and that he is betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan. It's simply unconscionable that Michael Steele would undermine the morale of our troops when what they need is our support and encouragement. Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and that his words have consequences.
So opposing the war in Afganistan means you're "Betting against our troops"and "rooting for failure". Good to know.

I know Steele is only saying it because Obama is running the war, but that shit doesn't matter. It was wrong when the Bush Administration questioned the patriotism of those who opposed their wars, and it's wrong the the DNC to do it now. Period.

It would be absolutely insane for Michael Steele to lose his job over this (as opposed to all the legitimately destructive stuff he's done), but considering how stupid our political culture is, I wouldn't be surprised.

The Unemployment Crisis

Really bad news: (via Ezra Klein)

A brutal unemployment report this month. Payrolls dropped by 125,000. In another one of those unwanted lessons in how we calculate unemployment data, the unemployment rate dropped from 9.7 percent to 9.5 percent -- but not because people got hired. Instead, 652,000 people gave up and stopped looking for work. And that number might be higher than it looks, as the natural monthly growth in the labor force is about 100,000 -- so to see a 652,000-person drop might mean something like 752,000 current workers left as 100,000 new workers entered.
The Douche caucus doesn't take this stuff seriously cause they're assholes, and Ben Bernanke doesn't believe lowering unemployment is his job, and the rest of Obama's econ team is too busy repeating Republican talking points about deficit reduction to spend any political capital on something that might help the situation.

Obama could have chosen Stiglitz, Krugman or Baker but instead he hired Summers, Bernanke, the very people whose ideology is responsible for the economic crisis we have today.

As atrios often says, he doesn't "hope" for bad news, but he hopes for something that will get the Administration's attention on the severity of this crisis. Maybe these numbers will do it, maybe they wont. All I know is that if they'd tackled this problem with half the crisis rhetoric/bullshit committee making energy that they've put into fighting the non existent problem of running a deficit during a rescission, we'd be in a far, far better place.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ben Nelson Strikes Again

He's up for reelection in 2012, which gives us time to find someone that can take this asshole down: (TPM)
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) last night prevented his fellow Democrats from finally passing legislation to extend needed unemployment insurance benefits to out of work Americans. It was the third time the legislation, which has been repeatedly pared down and reshaped in the hunt for votes, has failed to overcome a filibuster. But it was the first time that success or failure rested on a single deciding vote. And because Nelson, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, joined Republicans and blocked the bill, it will likely not pass until mid-July, after the Senate returns from Independence Day recess. By then Robert Byrd's replacement will be seated, and Dems will have the votes they need to pass their jobs bill.
. . .

That's what happened last night. With the death of Robert Byrd, Democrats have 58 voting members. Last night, they were joined by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). That would have brought them to 60, breaking the filibuster...but Nelson said no. He's opposed the legislation repeatedly on the grounds that it's not completely paid for (though emergency extensions of unemployment benefits are often not paid for). He brought Democrats down to 59 votes -- one short of the supermajority they needed -- and because of that, Reid changed his vote, drawing the total down to 58.

A day earlier, Nelson released a long statement explaining his repeated opposition to the bill.

"The bill has been revised several times already and each time the deficit spending was less. Tough choices are possible and necessary to not add to the deficit," Nelson said. "Some also say we need more emergency spending now to keep the recovery going. But in my view it could jeopardize the recovery and would add to our already enormous deficit, likely to be around $1.4 trillion for the second year in a row.... Congress should provide additional unemployment benefits but not as a bailout to the states that worsens the deficit and passes the bills onto our children."
It's great that he mentions children, since long term unemployment hurts children more than just about anyone else. With Blanche Lincoln out the Senate in November, it looks like Ben Nelson has positioned himself nicely to take over a leadership position in the Douche Caucus.