Monday, January 31, 2011

To Gay Or Not To Gay

The question that is currently tearing the conservative movement apart:
This year's Conservative Political Action Conference gets underway next week in Washington, and it's shaping up to be quite an event this time around.

CPAC is the Detroit Auto Show, no, even better, the Cannes Film Festival of movement conservatism. Has been for years. But this year the participation of the gay Republican group GOPProud is prompting a boycott from some key movement figures: the Heritage Foundation, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are all taking a pass on the event (although only Heritage is fessin' up as to the real reason, after initially denying it).
It's not like there aren't problems within the Democratic party, but at least we aren't in a major debate over whether gays are people or not.

No word on if this year's CPAC will have another installment of XXXX CPAC XXXXX:

I still can't get over that picture in the bottom right of James O'Keefe. It's unclear if he will attend this year's conference after getting a bit too XXXXPAC XXXXXTREME last year when he attempted to tap the phone lines of a US Senator and tried to lure female reporters onto his rape boat.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Ayn Rand Was Too Big To Fail

This is just too hilarious for words: (via boing boing)
An interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand's law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand's behalf she secured Rand's Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O'Connor (husband Frank O'Connor).

As Pryor said, "Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out" without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently... She didn't feel that an individual should take help."

But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so.
This revelation actually makes her a perfect example of everything the teabaggers believe in.

Strongly against government doing anything... unless it helps me, then gimme gimme gimme and fuck everyone else.

Atlas Shrugged.

Egypt on Fire

If you want good coverage of the latest developments in Egypt, the US networks are failing miserably. They have more important stuff to do, like interview the Kardashians or air what Michelle Bachmann thought about the state of the union.

Al Jazeera English streams live for free at any time. Check it out.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When In Doubt, Just Make Shit Up

The right gets away with stuff like this on such a regular basis it's mindblowing:
In late December, the New York Post reported, Halloran "met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department -- and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan." They allegedly told him that snow clearance was poor as a payback for union umbrage suffered at the hands of the mayor. But the brave whistleblowers, Halloran says, "didn't want to be identified because they were afraid of
retaliation."

Problem is, according to the Times, no one else is backing them up:

"But the more that investigators look into Mr. Halloran's story, the more mystifying it becomes," writes the Times. "[I]nvestigators had hoped that extensive publicity would bring out others with knowledge of the purported plot. That has not happened, according to the people briefed on the investigations, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigations are continuing. This leaves prosecutors with no proof that anything occurred."
No evidence whatsoever.

This story spent weeks being blasted around talk radio, fox news and other outlets, and I have no doubt they'll rush to make a correction.

While these last couple years have made me feel less confident in the Left's unwillingness to engage in some of the right's worst habits (cult of personality worship), this is one thing that will always remain the same. The major voices on the right simply have no concern whatsoever about the truth, ever.

This is also what bothers me about the bipartisan lovefest that Obama outlined in his speech. I'm all for an exchange of ideas, but you can't have that with people who are worried about Shariah law in the united states, making up lies about "agents" enforcing health care reform and think that Global warming is a hoax.

A debate of differing ideologies is one thing, but you have to coexist within the same reality. That may have been different in another time, but that just isn't the case with today's right wing. And as long as the GOP remains captured by these nuts, good luck trying to get anything accomplished with their help.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What If We Lose The Future?

A few thoughts on last night's speech:
  • Let's get this out of the way: there's no getting around how awful "winning the future" sounded. Maybe it was just me, but when I heard it was going to be the speech's theme, I winced and really hoped it wasn't true. Obama usually has very good speech writers, so I'm a bit confused how something so corny would be allowed make it this far.
  • Positive: the number of "winning the future" references on this blog will skyrocket, so there's that.
  • Pleasantly surprised that he mentioned infrastructure spending as much as he did, especially trains. Would have been a good opportunity to call out asshole Republican governors who turned down high speed rail projects, but you go to war with the Barack Obama you have, not the one you'd like to have.
  • Well done mentioning the dream act and immigration reform, although talking about when it actually had a chance to pass last month might have been a bit more helpful.
  • The talk about how we have the highest corporate taxes in the world made me enraged, because it's a right wing talking point and it leaves out the fact that most major corporations DON'T PAY ANY TAXES. 
  • Michelle Bachmann's Tim and Eric style response video mentioned our horrendous unemployment rate a lot. Barack Obama didn't. This is a problem.
  • David Sirota had the tweet of the night, which I'm kind of surprised more people didn't notice: 
No seriously - someone PLEASE tell me he didn't cite transcontinental railroad built by Chinese labor as proof we'll outcompete the Chinese.
This sounds awful, but I enjoyed the speech much more when you set your expectation level for "Eisenhower Republican", and react from there. Depressing, but there's no need to get your hopes up for stuff that isn't going to happen.

What did you all think?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union LIVEBLOG

Destruction of the Democratic Party Averted

Dumbest political move in history avoided for now, if this article is to be believed:
President Obama has decided not to endorse his deficit commission's recommendation to raise the retirement age, and otherwise reduce Social Security benefits, in Tuesday's State of the Union address, cheering liberals and drawing a stark line between the White House and key Republicans in Congress.

Over the weekend, the White House informed Democratic lawmakers and advocates for seniors that Obama will emphasize the need to reduce record deficits in the speech, but that he will not call for reducing spending on Social Security - the single largest federal program - as part of that effort.

Liberals, who have been alarmed by Obama's recent to shift to the center and his effort to court the nation's business community, applauded the decision, arguing that Social Security cuts are neither necessary to reduce current deficits nor a wise move politically. Polls show that large majorities of Americans in both parties - even in households that identify themselves as part of the tea party movement - oppose cuts to Social Security.

"Most of us would like to see the Democrats remain the strong defenders of Social Security, which they have to be if they want to win the next election," said Roger Hickey, co-director of the liberal Campaign for America's Future.

Administration officials said Obama is unlikely to specifically endorse any of the deficit commission's recommendations in the speech, but cautioned that he is unlikely to rule them off the table, either. On Social Security, for example, he is likely to urge lawmakers to work together to make the program solvent, without going into details, according to congressional sources.
That last paragraph still makes me nervous because as I said a few weeks ago:
Reminder: When Social Security cuts are proposed, it will be to "save" or "fix" SS. No one is dumb enough to actually say they're cutting it
While I'm thrilled Obama won't be using his biggest stage as president to announce cuts to social security, that last paragraph from "administration officials" is hardly something to celebrate either.

The way that he's using the right's crisis rehtoric about social security isn't helpful, and the fact we're even having to worry about this is fucking infuriating.

How he actually addresses this/doesn't address it during tomorrow's state of the union will be one of the biggest subplots. And you can follow those developments and more.... with our STATE OF THE UNION LIVEBLOG!!!

TONIGHT - 9:00 PM - BE THERE!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Schadenfreude City

The Chicago mayoral race obviously isn't a huge concern of mine, but this is just too awesome:
An Illinois court on Monday threw Rahm Emanuel's name off the Chicago mayoral ballot, possibly ending the former White House chief of staff's bid to lead his hometown.

By a 2-to-1 vote, an appellate panel overturned two previous decisions and ruled that Emanuel is not eligible to run because he moved to Washington D.C. for two years.

"We conclude that the candidate neither meets the municipal code's requirement that he have 'resided' in Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement," said the majority opinion by justices Thomas E. Hoffman and Shelvin Louise Marie Hall.
I'm sure after a few days he'll find a new position where he can serve his corporate masters and ridicule progressives, but for the moment this is very fun to watch.

Don't Hate Joe Leiberman Enough?

This Clip:



Summary for those who don't want to hear his voice:

1) He claims that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, which even Bush now admits is not the case.

2) When confronted by Arianna Huffington that this is not true, he decides to be a sexist asshole, and calls her "sweetheart".

Cannot wait for a day when he is no longer on television.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Time To Cash Out

A few weeks ago Obama said something about the sacrifice Robert Gibbs made serving as his press secretary for the "modest wage" of $172,000 a year. As someone who thinks that $172,000 a year is a shitload of money and pretty far from "modest", those comments enraged me.

However, this was before I found out the tremendous sacrifice new chief of staff Bill Daley was making to serve our government. (via Americablog)
William Daley, President Barack Obama’s new chief of staff, filed a notice with the Securities and Exchange Commission today to sell 186,190 shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co. that he valued at almost $8.3 million.

The approximate date of sale was listed in the filing as today and comes as Daley, a former JPMorgan executive, divests his holdings to work at the White House.

Daley’s last day as a vice chairman at JPMorgan was Jan. 7. He resigned from the boards of Boeing Co. and Abbott Laboratories the same day.
Oh. Well at least he earned that money at JP Morgan doing good honest work wrongly foreclosing on the houses of military families.

So Bill Daley gets 8.3 Million dollars to supplant the "modest wage" he'll make at the Whitehouse, which is a hell of a lot more than those military families  that JP Morgan screwed over can say.

What a world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You Don't Fuck With Social Security

Nobody could have predicted...
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's apparent willingness to consider cuts in Social Security benefits may be winning him points with Washington elites, but it's killing him with voters, who see the program as inviolate and may start to wonder what the Democratic Party stands for, if not for Social Security.

That's the conclusion of three top progressive pollsters who spoke to reporters Wednesday at a briefing sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute, the Century Foundation and Demos.

"For the public, cutting benefits is the problem, not the solution," said Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart Research Associates.

As a result, the pollsters said that any Democrat seeking elected office in 2012 should be begging Obama not to say anything about Social Security cuts in his State of the Union address later this month.

A post-election poll by Celinda Lake's Lake Research Partners found that, by a margin of 3 percentage points, Americans now trust Republicans in Congress more than Democrats when it comes to Social Security -- surely the first time since the program became a signature issue for the Democratic Party in the 1930s.


The poll found confidence in Democrats on the issue dropping 14 points just since January 2007, accompanied by a 13-point increase for Republicans.

The public favors congressional Republicans over Obama on Social Security by an even larger 6-point margin. Obama's 26-percent rating is not only less than half Bill Clinton's (53 percent), it's even lower than that of George W. Bush (37 percent), whose proposal to privatize the program went down in flames.


It's hard to overstate how shocking this new dynamic is. In the two previous low points for Democrats -- June 1995 and April 2002 -- Democrats still had a 10-point advantage on Social Security.
Heckuva job guys! The public now trusts fucking Republicans on Social Security than the party that created the program.

But then again, it makes David Broader happy, so does anything else matter?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Connecticut for Lieberman Offices Go Dark...

The biggest asshole in the Senate and chairman for life of the Douche Caucus has finally redered himself so unelectable that he'll be forced into retirement at the end of this term.
WASHINGTON -- Joe Lieberman will not run for reelection in 2012, Connecticut Democratic sources tell HuffPost, ending his four-term Senate career. Two prominent House Democrats, Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney, are eyeing a bid, with Susan Bysiewicz, a thrice-elected former secretary of state, also jumping into the race.

Lieberman, who lost a 2006 primary to netroots insurgent Ned Lamont, will announce his retirement on Wednesday. "Senator Lieberman made a decision about his future over the holidays which he plans to announce on Wednesday," a Lieberman spokesman said. In 2006, Lieberman ran under a party he created called Connecticut for Lieberman. Anti-Lieberman activists, however, have since taken it over.
It would have been nice to watch him get his ass handed to him in the next election, but it will be nice to see him out of office regardless.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Obama Orders Review of "Regulations"

This is the type of mindless bullshit I'd expect from President Mitt Romney:
Obama took action after unveiling his plan in an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal in which he said some rules have placed "unreasonable burdens on business -- burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs."

The executive order marked Obama's latest move to repair relations with U.S. business, which were frayed amid bitter debate over his overhauls of Wall Street regulations and healthcare that some business leaders said would stymie corporate America.

Obama has struck a more business-friendly tone since his Democrats lost the U.S. House of Representatives and saw their Senate majority reduced in November congressional elections widely seen as a verdict on his handling of the stumbling economy and persistently high unemployment.
His op-ed's tactic of mentioning one obscure problematic regulation (that just got fixed, by the way) in order to justify a broad takedown of "regulation" is directly out of the right-wing playbook. The Center for Progressive Reform has a great response:
In an op-ed on the opinion pages of today’s Wall Street Journal, truly the belly of the conservative beast, the President embraces a frame for the coming discussion about the role of regulation in society that is right out of the Republican hymnal, calling for “balance” between safety and economic growth, and bemoaning regulations that sometimes “place[e] unreasonable burdens on business—burdens that have stifled innovation and have had a chilling effect on growth and jobs.”

He also used the op-ed to announce a new initiative “to review outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.”  By casting the discussion in those terms, the President swallows the GOP’s frame for the debate hook, line, and sinker.

If you listen carefully, you might hear the voices of disbelief and anguish from the families of the 11 workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the 29 workers whose lives were extinguished at the Big Branch mine, and the nine who died after eating peanut butter crackers and similar products infected by salmonella. How about the people who knew the uncounted tens of thousands of others who were given cancer by airborne toxics at work or in the neighborhood,  experienced devastating headaches because Chinese manufacturers put sulfur compounds in their drywall and no one checked the product as it crossed our borders, or were crippled by repetitive movements in a slaughterhouse or a poultry processing plant, all on President Obama’s watch? The families, friends, and co-workers of these victims of under-regulation and under-enforcement might conclude that the United States is reverting to a place where the government most definitely does not protect people who can’t protect themselves. Sure, they think to themselves as they read about the president’s new d├ętente initiative with big business, we all need jobs, but aren’t all those billions in profits and executive bonuses enough for the business sector? Didn’t the government bailouts of the big banks do the trick?

Large corporations were at the bottom of all of the human damage listed above, not because they are intrinsically evil but because they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. And given the current state of regulatory dysfunction at the agencies founded to protect the public, caused by a noxious mix of underfunding, political attacks, and lack of effective enforcement authority, that’s exactly what they’re doing way too much, almost everywhere you look. 
Obviously there are some regulations that are outdated or could use a tweaking but that's not the point. The point is that those are not the regulations that today's conservatives are opposed to. They're opposed to crazy outdated regulations like the minimum wage, overtime pay, and child labor laws.

YES, EVEN FUCKING CHILD LABOR LAWS.

I can't decided which part of this bothers me more:
  • Obama is using the presidential power of "setting the debate" to frame issues in right wing terms (Do we have too many regulations?)
  • Obama actually believes that making multimillionaire CEOs feel better will actually do something to improve the economy.
Either way, it's a pretty worrisome sign for the next two years.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Good Speech!

I like listening to this at least once a year. Now's as good a time as any!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Joe Buck Disgusting Act of The Week: MLK Would Have LOVED Our Aweome Modern Wars


Sweet Jesus, why would the Pentagon even go there:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2011 – If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, would he understand why the United States is at war?

Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel, posed that question at today’s Pentagon commemoration of King’s legacy.

In the final year of his life, King became an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, Johnson told a packed auditorium. However, he added, today’s wars are not out of line with the iconic Nobel Peace Prize winner’s teachings.

“I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack,” he said.
So a man who preached and lived by non-violent teachings, who was under the threat of (and then victim of) terrorist plots for the majority of his life, would be cool with this what we're doing in Afganistan, you know, because of... terrorism.

Oh yeah, and unlike when Dr. King lived, during an era when a race of people WERE NOT TREATED AS HUMAN BEINGS, this is a "complicated world", so he would understand.

Man this is some shameful shit...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Score One For The EPA

This is a big fucking deal:
In nearly four decades since the Clean Water Act was passed, the Environmental Protection Agency has never vetoed any mining permit retroactively. That changed this morning.

Word is just coming down via Coal Tattoo that the Obama administration EPA has just vetoed the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. The permit was initially awarded during the previous very fossil-friendly Bush administration, after a fractious decades-long court battle.

By retracting the Clean Water Air permit for Arch Coal’s 2,300-acre mine proposed for the Blair area of Logan County, West Virginia, the EPA is effectively suspending most major activity.

The decision comes after it reviewed more than 50,000 public comments and held a major public hearing in West Virginia, and is part of the Obama administration EPA crackdown on mountaintop removal.

EPA officials this morning were alerting West Virginia’s congressional delegation to their action, and undoubtedly preparing for a huge backlash from the mining industry and its friends among coalfield political leaders, including new "Democratic" Senator Joe Manchin, an EPA foe.
A huge step by Obama's EPA. Well done.

Obama's Remarks in Tuscon

Holy shit that was a good speech, and a really moving event.



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Climate Change: Yep, Still Terrifying

Tis the season for climate change concern. Between floods in Australia that were caused by temperature-dependent tropical storms, and the repeated blizzards that shut down significant portions of the United States over the last few weeks (strangely, warmer winters tend to have more snow), the tangible impacts of a warming planet are starting to feel a little more tangible.

On the scientific side, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced today that 2010 was tied with 2005 as the warmest year since scientists started keeping sufficient records of global temperatures. At 58.12°F, 2010 was 1.12°F over the 20th century average; but the Northern Hemisphere's 58.31°F average temperature make 2010 its warmest year ever, 1.31°F above the 20th century average.

To put this in context, the ten warmest years on record are 2010, 2005, 1998, 2003, 2002, 2009, 2006, 2007, 2004, and 2001. So with the exception of 2008, all ten of civilization's hottest years are within the last ten years.

Dunno about y'all, but I find that last sentence to be fucking terrifying.

Save the Rich, Fuck Anyone Else

In a surprisingly good column by Dana Milbank comes this amazingly honest quote: (via Balloon Juice)
All of this gave the business lobby much to celebrate as chamber members discussed the State of American Business over mini-muffins and banana bread Tuesday morning. Tom Donohue, the chamber's white-maned CEO, hailed the "new tone coming from the White House" since the elections - which the chamber influenced by spending tens of millions of dollars from donors kept anonymous, Donohue explained, so opponents couldn't "demagogue them." Donohue said he's "absolutely convinced" that the new business-friendly White House will move his way on regulation and trade.

A reporter asked Donohue for a suggestion of what corporate America, with its record profits, should do to put people back to work. "I got to think about this for a minute," Donohue said, then added: "I think the most important thing to tell a company is to return a reasonable return to their investors."
What an asshole.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hammered

Looks like Delay is actually going to pay the price:
AUSTIN, Texas — Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, once considered among the nation's most powerful and feared lawmakers, was sentenced to three years in prison Monday for a scheme to influence elections that already cost him his job, leadership post and millions of dollars in legal fees.

The sentence comes after a jury in November convicted DeLay, a Houston-area Republican, on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering for using a political action committee to illegally send corporate donations to Texas House candidates in 2002.
Gotta love all the teabagger rhetoric about corruption and "the crimes of the Obama Administration" *fartz* while one of the most important Republican of the last while is literally going to prison for committing real crimes.

Political Violence

Regardless of what motivated this guy, or if he was just crazy as shit (this interview with his friend seems to lean that way), I think my reaction to the shootings was significant.

When I heard about the shootings on Saturday, I felt a lot of emotions but I wasn't surprised. Not in the slightest.

Whether or not Beck and others like him helped motivate this guy, there's only so long they can tell their listeners (that most certainly include unstable people) that we've had a undemocratic takeover of our government by a scary foreign guy before someone decides they're going to be the hero that saves us from this tyranny.

Friday, January 7, 2011

If the Answer is Bill Daley, What Was The Question?

Apparently Obama's qualifications  for chief of staffs is that they be the people most responsible for pushing through NAFTA :
William M. Daley has the deep political experience one would expect in a top White House hire: scion of a Chicago political dynasty, adviser to numerous presidential candidates, former Cabinet secretary who also relishes exerting influence behind the scenes.

But in turning to Daley as his new chief of staff on Thursday, President Obama was looking as much at the other pages of his resume. With extensive experience as a businessman and Wall Street executive, Daley comes to the administration positioned to help the president rebuild his frayed relationship with the corporate world.
Discussion of why he sucks here and here.

While agreeing that he sucks, hope that he'll friendlier to liberals in the role of gatekeeper here.

The fact that the White House seems to be more concerned with the optics of "Obama is mean to big business" than "Obama hires career wall street servant as number two" is pretty troubling to say the least.

How DC Elites Think

Wonder why Obama would see cutting Social Security as a shrewd PR move and raising taxes on the rich as controversial? This is the media he's trying to please. Actual poll from the Washington Post earlier this week:

Notice anything missing?

Maybe "The Economy"??? Maybe "9.4% Unemployment"???

Fucking morons.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Threat To Social Security Is Real

Having some time to discuss the current state of politics with friends and family over the holidays, one thing stood out above the rest. When our conversations would turn to Obama and his plans for the next two years, almost no one thought it was possible that Obama would actually be willing to cut social security.

Some reasons I was given for why he won't do it, and why I don't believe them:

It's Political Suicide!

Yes, that's true. Cutting social security would be a horrific political move and could very well end the Democratic coalition as we know it. But don't think that will stop him from doing it. Keep in mind that one of the worst aspects of Obama's presidency so far has been his desperate attempts to please the mindless "centrist" and conservative pundits. David Broder, David Brooks and all the other morons would fall over themselves trying to applaud him for realizing that he needed to make the "tough decisions" and cut an unbelievably popular program like social security. If you don't think these people are that insane, remember how Broder talked about how escalating the war in Iraq would make Bush popular again or how Obama should start a war with Iran to fix the economy? Yeah.

He's A Democrat and Wouldn't Cut Social Security!

Maybe, but if he does, he's got a funny way of showing it. When the Senate rejected the idea for the Catfood Commission, Obama not only created it himself, but then stacked it with people who believe in cutting social security. He uses right wing austerity rhetoric as often as most Republicans do, and unlike many Democrats who do the same he goes out of his way to include cutting "entitlements" as part of the needed medicine. It's rumored to be part of his State of the Union speech. Not that all these reports can't be wrong, and he could be just saying some of this stuff to "sound serious" (that would still be fucking stupid) but I don't think we should blindly assume that he won't attack social security just because he has a D next to his name.

Social Security is Solvent till 2037, and It Doesn't Even Impact The Deficit!

Both true, but facts rarely matter, especially when Obama has been leading the charge of the need to "preserve" or "fix" Social Security. We were able to stop Bush's efforts in 2005 because of a solid front of Democrats saying the "crisis" talk was 100% bullshit. Now we have a Democratic president leading that charge.

For All The Reasons You Just Mentioned, It Won't Actually Be Cut

Maybe, but the people in the know on this issue are worried. Like, really worried:
Maria Freese of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said she thinks Social Security is "more at risk than it was in 2005,” when President George W. Bush proposed far-reaching changes to the program, including personal accounts. The plan was vigorously opposed by Democrats and liberal groups and never came up for a vote in Congress.

Now, with Social Security coming to the forefront once again, liberal groups are preparing a campaign to oppose any “backroom” deals on retirement benefits.

“What I am really afraid of is another deal behind closed doors,” said Nancy Altman, the co-director of Social Security Works. “At least with President Bush, he went around the country on a tour and presented his plan, and people didn’t like it.”

Both Altman and Freese said that it is unlikely there will be changes to Medicare and Medicaid this year, given the lingering polarization from last year's healthcare debate. They said Social Security is easier to tamper with and more likely to be targeted.

Freese and Altman’s groups already feel betrayed by Obama for backing a cut to the Social Security payroll tax that was approved during the lame-duck session. They worry that the cut will be extended indefinitely and erode Social Security's solvency.
As with many things that happen in DC, you need to suspend disbelief at how mindblowingly stupid this would be and come to terms with the possibility that it could very well happen.

Once we've done that, we can figure out how best to stop this madness.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cruelty As Diplomacy

Revealed via Wikileaks:
Israel told U.S. officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza's economy "on the brink of collapse" while avoiding a humanitarian crisis, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by a Norwegian daily on Wednesday.

Three cables cited by the Aftenposten newspaper, which has said it has all 250,000 U.S. cables leaked to WikiLeaks, showed that Israel kept the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv briefed on its internationally criticized blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The territory, home to 1.3 million Palestinians, is run by the Islamist Hamas group, which is shunned by the West over its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence or accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals.

"As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to (U.S. embassy economic officers) on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge," one of the cables read.


Israel wanted the coastal territory's economy "functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis", according to the Nov. 3, 2008 cable.
I guess the bar for "avoiding a humanitarian crisis" was lowered quite a bit when Israel used White Phosphorus on the Gaza Strip in January 2009.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Silly Constitution, Women Aren't Human Beings

Scalia is amazing:
WASHINGTON -- The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

In a newly published interview in the legal magazine California Lawyer, Scalia said that while the Constitution does not disallow the passage of legislation outlawing such discrimination, it doesn't itself outlaw that behavior:
I guess I always kind of assumed he had views like this, but nice that it's out there in the open.

Taking Sides

Didn't expect much different, but this isn't to incouraging for anyone hoping against hope that Obama would adopt a less Wall Street friendly economic policy:
From today’s WaPo report it seems that the shortlist to replace Larry Summers at the NEC has been whittled down to three men — Gene Sperling, Roger Altman, and Richard Levin.
. . .
The second notable characteristic of the three is that they’re all multi-millionaires with close ties to Wall Street. None more than Altman, of course, who has his own bank. But Levin is on the board of American Express, which paid him $181,362 in 2009, and where he has shares and “share equivalent units” worth $539,000. Which might not be a huge sum compared to the $1.5 million or so that he’s earning at Yale, but is still more than enough to make him a denizen of Wall Street rather than Main Street.

Finally there’s Sperling, who in some ways is the worst of the three when it comes to grubbing money from Wall Street. The other two have well-defined and easily-understood jobs; Sperling, by contrast, signed up with the Harry Walker Agency and started giving speeches to anybody with cash, including not only Citigroup but even Allen Stanford. He also wrote a monthly 900-word column for Bloomberg for $137,500 a year, which works out at about $13 per word.
As Atrios, Digby and others pointed out, any time an economic adviser gets floated, there seems to always be some commentary from someone who worked with them at some point in their career that they are a "secret liberal". I wrote about this after Obama's inaugeration when various people who I like were telling me that Larry Summers and Tim Giethner were going to use their credibility with conservatives to install tons of progressive reforms. It didn't make any sense then, and it makes even less sense now that people have seen two years of who Obama trusts to run the economy. It ain't progressives. And then there's this:
President Barack Obama is considering naming William Daley, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and former U.S. Commerce secretary, to a high-level administration post, possibly White House chief of staff, people familiar with the matter said.

Such a move, which is still under discussion, would bring a Washington veteran -- and someone with strong business ties -- into the administration as Obama sets out an agenda for the second half of his term while dealing with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

“Daley is highly respected by the business community and has great connections,” Douglas J. Elliott, an economic studies fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, said in an e-mail. Naming Daley to a top post, he said, “could help mend fences” with executives who have complained that the Democratic administration is anti-business.
The fact that the White House might actually buy into this nonsense that they haven't been good for the business community is staggering. That actually bothers me the most in this mess, because even in 2008 it didn't surprise me that Obama would stack his economic team with Wall Street friendly conservatives, but it does shock me that someone so smart would put any weight into a criticism that is so obviously made in bad faith and factually false.

There was somewhere around a 0% chance the White House would change course and take the keys away from the masters of the universe, but it obviously didn't come to be. I guess "Obama 2012: We're slightly less beholden to Wall Street than Mitt Romney" tested well in focus groups.

Monday, January 3, 2011

It's Not About His Birth Certificate

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie may have good intentions, but further proving that Obama is a US citizen won't do anything to stop the birthers.  Jason Linkins has the right idea here:
The flaw in Abercrombie's thinking is that he believes this is a matter that can be laid to rest. But the birthers already believe in an ornate conspiracy, spanning many generations of bipartisan officials on the local, state, and federal level, to conceal the heritage of a biracial child in order to install him in the White House for ... well, for kicks, I guess! Given that they already successfully contain all that derangement inside their cranial cavities, there's really no big reveal Abercrombie can offer that won't simply be seamlessly incorporated as component of this bonkers theory.
These people are crazy is shit. They don't like Obama. Based on the evidence and the type of smears that gain traction, I would say that a large portion of this stuff is about race. And even if it's not, these are the same people that genuinely thought Bill Clinton murdered people during his administration, so it's not like they're operating rationally.

Unless Obama stops being a Democrat or being black, it's hard to see any of this stuff subsiding.