Thursday, December 27, 2012

"These people are so evil. They’re basically Fascists. It’s unbelievable.”

This article with stories from the National Review cruise is pretty great and worth reading:
After drinks, we moved to the Manhattan Dining Room, an elegant two-story restaurant at the ship’s stern, where we would meet each evening, tabled with a different assortment of cruisers, sometimes hosted by writers and pundits from the National Review. Kevin Hassett, a former economic adviser to Mitt Romney, hosted my table of eight that night, arriving in a bright-green golf shirt and rimless glasses. He announced that this would be a “family” conversation in which he was the moderator.

“Minorities came out like crazy,” said Hassett, sighing. “White people didn’t get to the polls. There are far more African-­Americans voting than they expected.”

“In Tampa,” noted Bobbie, a petite woman from Vero Beach, Florida, “they had lots and lots of lines.”

Hassett, with an oddly cheerful, Oh-What-My-Country-Has-Done-Now mien, predicted economic doom under Obama, the most likely scenario being another Great Depression, which would make 2008 look like a joyride.
As we drained the Pinot Noir, Hassett gave his audience the insider’s view of the Romney campaign, describing how its election-monitoring software crashed on November 6 and Obama was probably behind it, “because those guys are so evil.”

The table grumbled in assent.

“The thing we have to understand is, these are people who don’t have any morals,” said Hassett. “They’ll do anything. I’m one of their No. 1 targets. I mean, they really want me bad.”

“Well, you’re safe on this ship!” said Bobbie boldly.

Then Hassett pivoted to the liberal media. “I actually think that Goebbels was more critical of Hitler than the New York Times is of Obama,” said Hassett, tucking into a piece of strudel. “I was in the middle of the fight against the propaganda, and I have stories like you wouldn’t believe. These people are so evil. They’re basically Fascists. It’s unbelievable.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Led By Delusional Morons, Right Until The End

This whole article about Mitt Romney's campaign is interesting, but this is particularly awesome:
Arriving at his suite in the Westin Boston Waterfront ­hotel, Romney received regular updates from his staff. He made small talk about the Patriots and the Celtics and played with his grandchildren. He was about to concede around 11:15 p.m when Republican strategist Karl Rove made his now-infamous appearance on Fox News Channel, insisting that his own network was wrong in calling Ohio for the president.

The concession call was canceled, followed by an hour of uncertainty. Then, after Fox ­executives dismissed Rove’s concerns and stood by the network’s projection, Romney said: Call the president.
Someone heard Karl Rove's insane ramblings and said "wait! wait, let's see how this plays out"... and then waited another HOUR. One of those people was almost president.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Saved by the Tea Party... AGAIN.

Conservatives in the house publicly humiliated John Boehner last night, rejecting his messaging bill in pretty spectacular fashion. I tend to agree with David Dayen here that this prevents any future deals until the 3rd, after the vote for speaker goes down. So going with the assumption that we end up going over the fiscal cliff, this would provide the second time that President Obama has tried his hardest to cut our social insurance programs, only for these plans to be stopped not by fellow democrats or liberal groups, but by the tea party. This seems like an opportune time to examine where we stand in relationship with the Democratic party.

The main push for Social Security and Medicare cuts over these last two years has come directly from President Obama, there is no way around that (read this from Jane Hamsher for a depressing play by play). He seems hell bent on including it in negotiations from here on out, so we should do whatever we can to call him on having done so and try to shame him into not doing so. He seems pretty committed, but bringing up how much he wants to do something insanely unpopular can't hurt. Reid and Pelosi didn't get to their respective positions by talking out of turn, so I fully expected them to fall in line and support whatever Obama was pushing. I was slightly surprised at the soullessness of Pelosi cheerfully advocating for chained CPI as way of strengthening Social Security. Don't click that link on a full stomach.

But the most disgusting of the lot and the only one that actually felt like a betrayal was Rich Trumka. Watching someone who I like and respect a great deal, not strongly opposing a benefit cut to social security given away in unnecessary negotiations to solve a nonexistent problem is a bit tough to take. Unions should demand that he take back his statement or resign. And if he won't, they should take votes on pulling out of the AFL-CIO. There will always be crappy political leaders to hold us back, but we get to choose those who lead our organizations and shit like this just can't be tolerated under any circumstances.

It's a time for being thankful that the tea party exists and killed this deal, but it's also a time for introspection into our side and ask how the fuck that nearly happened, what needs to change and what can be done. I'll hopefully have some more posts on these topics as I'm able to digest what just happened. But for now, we can breathe deep until after Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Year of Bank Fraud

I don't normally like to cut and paste this much so please click on the link, but wow. The year in bank fraud, from Felix Salmon's great blog on Reuters:
Bank of America: the US Justice Department is seeking $1 billion in fines for troubled loans sold to Fannie and Freddie; MBIA’s lawsuit against Countrywide, which was disastrously acquired by BofA, rolls on; BofA is one of five banks participating in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. (Price to book: 0.56, here and throughout via Yahoo Finance)
Bank of China: the families of Israeli students killed in a 2008 terrorist attack are suing the BOC for $1 billion “intentionally and recklessly” handling money for terrorist groups.
Bank of New York Mellon: a subsidiary paid $210 million to settle claims it advised clients to invest in Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme; the DOJ continues to investigate possible overcharges for currency trades that it says generated $1.5 billion in revenue. (Price to book: 0.86)
Barclays: $450 million settlement in the Libor scandal; also fined by the FSA for mis-sold interest rate hedges. (Price to book: 0.72)
BBVA: settled overdraft suit for $11.5 million. (Price to book: 0.83)
Citigroup: settled CDO lawsuit for $590 million; one of five banks participating in the $25 billionnational mortgage settlement; paid $158 million to settle charges it “defaulted the government into insuring” risky mortgages. (Price to book: 0.62)
Credit Suisse: sued by NY state for allegedly deceiving investor in the sale of MBS. (Price to book: 0.85)
Deutsche Bank: settled a DOJ mortgage suit for $202 million; FHFA fraud case is ongoing. (Price to book: 0.56)
Goldman Sachs: FHFA fraud case is ongoing; after a ruling by federal appeals court, a class action lawsuit over MBS will go forward. (Price to book: 0.91)
Crédit Agricole: sued by CDO investors two times. (Price to book: 0.35)
HSBC: settled money laundering charges for $1.9 billion; set aside $1 billion for future settlements related to mis-selling loan insurance and interest rate hedges in the UK; Libor settlement still to be reached. (Price to book: 1.17)
ING: settled charges that it violated sanctions against Iran, Cuba, etc. for $619 million. (Price to book: 0.5)
JP Morgan Chase: being sued by NY state for MBS issued by Bear Stearnsclass action lawsuitand criminal probe over failed derivatives trades in its Chief Investment Office; one of five banks participating in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. (Price to book:0.87)
Mitsubishi UFJ: paid an $8.6 million fine for violating US sanctions on Iran, Sudan, Myanmar and Cuba. (Price to book: 0.54)
Morgan Stanley: fined $5 million for improper investment banking influence over research during Facebook’s IPO. (Price to book: 0.63)
Royal Bank of Scotland: $5.37 billion shareholder lawsuit related to 2008 rights issuance; set aside $650 million to cover claims it mis-sold payment protection products; also fined by the FSA for mis-sold interest rate hedges. (Price to book: 0.28)
Santander: fined by the FSA for mis-sold interest rate hedges. (Price to book: 0.77)
Société Générale: rogue trader Jerome Kerviel loses appeal his appeal 3-year sentence for trades that generated $6.5 billion in losses. (Price to book: 0.45)
Standard Chartered: $340 million fine paid to NY state department of financial services for allegedly hiding the identity of customers in transactions with Iran and drug cartels; $327 millionpaid to the Federal Reserve and US Treasury’s anti-money laundering unit.
State Street: fined $5 million for lack of CDO disclosure. (Price to book: 1.09)
UBS: $1.5 billion Libor fine and two traders criminally charged; rogue trader responsible for $2.3 billion loss found guilty of false accounting. (Price to book: 1.12)
Wells Fargo: Federal lawsuit over mortgage foreclosure practices ongoing; paid $175 million over mortgage bias claims; one of five banks participating in the $25 billion national mortgage settlement. (Price to book: 1.29) — Ben Walsh
If you or I decided to rob $50 from the 7-11, we'd be in jail for quite some time. These fines are a joke. Send a CEO or two to prison and this list doesn't exist next year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Obama Offers Social Security Cuts in Latest Deal

The proposal to change how Social Security calculates inflation sounds benign, but it's far from it. David Dayen:
First of all, this is a benefit cut of about 0.3% a year, as Dean Baker points out. He adds that “This loss would be cumulative through time so that after 10 years the cut would be roughly 3 percent, after 20 years 6 percent, and after 30 years 9 percent.” Actually if we started using chained CPI in 2002, we’d be 3.6% behind today. That’s well over $1,000 a year, and the situation grows worse over time. So the greatest impact would be on the oldest seniors, which happens to correlate with the poorest.
If you think that senior citizens have had it too good for too long, getting that sweet sweet cost of living adjustment to make them unfairly wealthy, then maybe you think chained CPI is a solid idea. If you think that the highest expense for a senior is medical costs, that seniors don’t exactly comparison shop when they need medical care, that they cannot substitute along those lines, and that a cost of living index that features that substitution effect prominently doesn’t correspond to the real costs seniors face, well, you would be right.
But it makes sense in Washington to “get a deal,” regardless of the consequences of that deal on our seniors. We just had a national conversation about how the primary task of government was to protect the vulnerable. How quickly we forget.

There are a couple variables in the reporting. First of all, Administration sources say that they plan to protect “the most vulnerable populations.” For example, they don’t want to apply chained CPI to wounded veterans and the disabled on Supplemental Security Income. This is an admission that people will get hurt by chained CPI; they’re just trying to manage the fallout. The rest of the ways to protect the most vulnerable haven’t been defined. Usually, you see some sort of “bump-up” in benefits to compensate for the changes to the COLA, particularly for the poorest recipients. However, the National Women’s Law Center points out that the bump-up envisioned in Bowles-Simpson (which included chained CPI) would only restore benefits to current-law levels for two years, before falling behind again. So we don’t know, but if the bump-up took complete care of the benefit cut, nobody would be suggesting doing this as a means to save money.
So much shame to go around.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Obama's Remarks on the Newtown Shooting

You really get the sense that this is going to be one of those speeches you see 50 years from now. Really well done.

Friday, December 14, 2012

More Senseless Gun Violence

At an elementary school. What the fuck is wrong with people? And how many more people need to die before we can seriously talk about gun control?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fiscal Cliff and Trail Baloons

Really great podcast here where Sam Seder interviews Digby. I think they make some really good points in discussing how these "trial balloons" seem to pop up out of nowhere, and how to respond.

I've gotten better at sensing when these trial balloons come up, but it's always hard to figure out what their real purpose is. This time might have been a smokescreen to get liberals extremely upset about an unconscionably stupid plan so there is less opposition to smaller cuts in the future. The only reason I say this is since that podcast, Pelosi, the head of CAP, and others have gone really hard at the idea of raising the eligibility age, and you can usually tell when these things are actually going to happen because everyone vaguely says no or keeps their mouth shut.

The Party of Killing Democracy

If you support the Republican party, just be clear that this is the rule, rather than the exception. The only difference is that this guy was dumb enough to tell the truth on camera:
"A lot of us are campaign officials -- or campaign professionals -- and we want to do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that's voter ID, sometimes we think that's longer lines -- whatever it may be."

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Train of Thought Lounge: Mos Def

Hell week the sequel continues, sorry to not have more here when there is lots to write about.

Also be sure to read JN's post from last week on Tibet in case you missed it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Holy Fuck We Are Ruled By Monsters

If this is true (and I tend to trust it since the admin tends to float things to Ezra Klein all the time), then this would be an incredibly dumb and destructive deal.

You see the deal that’s becoming clear here?

Talk to smart folks in Washington, and here’s what they think will happen: The final tax deal will raise rates a bit, giving Democrats a win, but not all the way back to 39.6 percent, giving Republicans a win. That won’t raise enough revenue on its own, so it will be combined with some policy to cap tax deductions, perhaps at $25,000 or $50,000, with a substantial phase-in and an exemption for charitable contributions.

The harder question is what Republicans will get on the spending side of the deal. But even that’s not such a mystery. There will be a variety of nips and tucks to Medicare, including more cost-sharing and decreases in provider payments, and the headline Democratic concession is likely to be that the Medicare eligibility age rises from 65 to 67.
So we could get a better deal on taxes by doing absolutely nothing... and in exchange for accepting a worse deal, we get horribly stupid and incredibly damaging cuts to medicare. Kill this deal and anyone with fire. Primary anyone who supports it.

Right to Work For Less Moves Forward in Michigan

This is absolutely awful. David Dayen:
Within a matter of hours, both houses of the Michigan legislature passed right to work legislation, while arrests and lockdowns occurred inside and outside the chamber. In the end, Michigan Democrats staged a walkout to protest the closed Capitol. But eventually, the votes were taken, through a gut-and-amend process with a substitute bill that was supposed to create a commission to deal with labor disputes. The main bill then passed the House by a 58-52 vote, and the Senate 22-16.

You can see by these numbers why the Michigan GOP wanted to get this done fast, within the lame duck session, before the new legislature gets sworn in January 1. Six Republicans crossed the aisle in the state House to vote against the bill. With Democrats picking up five House seats in the election, the new configuration would not have had the votes to pass right to work.

However, if Governor Rick Snyder signs the bill – and he’s made every indication that he would – it will be very hard to dislodge. The legislature added an appropriation of state funds to the right to work bill, which eliminates the possibility of it getting overturned by referendum. But assuming it stands, Republicans still control the legislature and the Governor’s mansion in the next session, and so right to work would be in place for a couple years before unions have a chance to overturn it by retaking state government. And the longer that takes, the more battered unions will become, as the entire point of right to work is to decimate the ability for unions to function. That’s how it has played out in the other 23 states where mandatory dues have been barred for workers operating under collective bargaining agreements.

President Obama did weigh in today, opposing right to work legislation in general and specifically in Michigan. “President Obama has long opposed so-called ‘right to work’ laws and he continues to oppose them now,” said spokesman Matt Lehrich. “The President believes our economy is stronger when workers get good wages and good benefits, and he opposes attempts to roll back their rights. Michigan – and its workers’ role in the revival of the US automobile industry — is a prime example of how unions have helped build a strong middle class and a strong American economy.”

But this hardly matters, as the sneak attack on Michigan workers is almost certain to be successful. Democrats in the House put up a host of amendments that all failed, but were able to force a reconsideration of the bill. However, that’s likely to get dispensed with as a procedural matter, and the suite of bills will pass on a subsequent vote. There are separate bills for private employees and public employees that need to be reconciled and wrapped up.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What is going on in Tibet? Volume 2.

A few months ago I posted an overview of what was happening with the self-immolation crisis in Tibet here.  Since then things have changed in a few big ways, and I’d like to take a chance to get some of my thoughts out here.

First, and perhaps most importantly, the epicenter of the self-immolations has changed.  Take a moment and look at this map, prepared by ICT.  On it we can see the original center of the self-immolations, a town called Ngaba which has racked up an astonishing 30 self-immolations to date.  The first phase of the self-immolations may well be seen as the story of Ngaba, where a confluence of forces turned self-immolation from something unknown in Tibet into what was, over the last month, an almost daily occurrence.  Ngaba’s Kirti Monastery was one of the biggest in Tibet a few years ago, and the 2,500 monks who lived there were highly active participants in the 2008 Tibetan Uprising.  Afterwards, Chinese authorities at the provincial, prefectural, and monastic level turned Kirti into something that sounds more like a prison- a crackdown the authorities forgot to end.

Repression in Tibet can be bad enough on a good day, but the crackdown in Kirti Monastery was constant and punishing enough that it produced the first self-immolation in Tibet.  A young monk named Tapey lit himself on fire after hearing that authorities had forbidden the observance of Monlam, an important Tibetan holiday.  This appears to have been the last straw for him, and although it would be two years before another Tibetan self-immolated, the first few dozen self-immolators were drawn chiefly from the Ngaba area, and Kirti in particular.

Over time the phenomenon began to spread, though, and from the same map we can see that self-immolations have taken place in pretty much every region where Tibetans live.  The development of another cluster, this time in northern Amdo, is an important point.  If the epicenter was originally placed at Ngaba, it has now moved to Rebkong.  In recent weeks the Rebkong and Labrang areas have been hit almost daily by self-immolations, in a wide arc ranging from Rebkong to Labrang and the surrounding grassland towns and on towards Tsoe and Luchu.  These places combined now surpass the number of immolations in Ngaba.

These numbers tell a troubling story for the Chinese government.  It marks the normalization of self-immolation as a political statement in Tibet, and a blending of local and Tibet-wide politics.  Although each of the 92 immolators so far has probably come to the decision to light themselves on fire for a unique mixture of factors, there are some commonalities that have emerged from what they have shouted while aflame, or left behind in written statements.  Common refrains include requests for the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet, freedom for Tibet, unity among Tibetans, and the protection of Tibetan language and culture.  Chinese crackdowns have left Tibetans unable to express their discontent through what we would consider normal means, but this has in turn created a form of protest that China cannot hope to control.

China has no idea what to do about the self-immolations.  This was true last time I wrote here, and it is even truer now.  As the self-immolations have spread through Tibet and come with increasing frequency, Chinese attempts to stop them have been more and more hopeless.  Attempts to combat them with increased repression have just added more fuel to the fire.  An insultingly snide pamphlet passed around to Tibetan students typifies another kind of cluelessness.  At a time when the main street in Ngaba, witness to more self-immolations than any other single place, is called ‘Martyr’s Road,’ and the deceased are being given the title ‘hero,’ having a pamphlet published by the government insinuate that the self-immolators are terrorists was sure to give further offense to the students, and a massive protest followed.

China is unable to bring the burnings to a stop because they are aggressively attacking the symptoms, while completely ignoring the underlying disease.  Repression is what gave rise to this crisis, and more repression can only aggravate the situation.  Self-immolations are impossible to stop on a practical level, and once China has created circumstances bad enough for them to be employed as a tactic by Tibetans, there isn’t any clear reason for why they should stop unless the circumstances in Tibet improve.  The Communist Party has also hurt its ability to respond to this crisis by essentially alienating every important Tibetan.  Because any Tibetans with clout are forced to toe the Party line loudly and publicly, they either end up destroy their own standing among the Tibetan public by doing so, or they decide to disobey Beijing and end up in exile, imprisoned, or dead.  Thus the Communist Party is left without any bridges with which they can effectively speak to Tibetans.  If the young Panchen Lama hadn’t been abducted and replaced by someone Tibetans see as an impostor, could he bring the burnings to a stop?  Perhaps.  Thanks to Beijing’s short-sightedness, we don’t get to find out.

The self-immolations are illustrating exactly how deep opposition to Chinese rule runs in Tibetan society.  Chinese commentators have frequently claimed that trouble in Tibet is being stirred up by a small number of criminals and terrorists who want to return the Dalai Lama and his Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism to the throne.  Any slight hint of believability that this narrative has comes from the fact that monastaries, frequently Gelug, have been central to much of the resistance ever since the Chinese first arrived.  Over the last year, however, self-immolations have come from a wider and wider base.  Recent burnings have come from young schoolgirls, middle-aged parents, farmers and nomads, and an aging grandfather.  The community has generally treated them as heroes, with bystanders fighting riot police to keep their bodies out of the hands of the authorities, shops being closed in mourning, entire towns defying restrictions to attend memorials, and cremations of immolators taking place in areas normally reserved for the cremations of high lamas.  Popular singers are composing odes in their honor, protests are following the burnings, and people are risking their safety to send images and videos of the immolations to their friends inside and outside of Tibet.  Most recently there were reports of a two-day hunger strike in late November, undertaken by a number of well-to-do Tibetans in solidarity with the immolators.

Tibetans have been trying to send messages with their immolations, and to some extent they seem to be successfully doing so.  In particular, a cluster of self-immolations near the start of the Party Congress appear to have been an attempt to force incoming leader Xi Jinping to deal with the Tibet issue.  As the toll has risen, the EU, US, and UN have begun to slowly swing into gear.  All three would perhaps rather ignore the issue, but that’s becoming less of an option as the 100th self-immolation approaches.  Although exactly what they’ll do remains to be seen, simply mentioning Tibet during talks with China and then checking off that box is hopefully becoming less feasible.  News of the self-immolation crisis is slowly leaking out within China, too, although Beijing’s (largely successful) efforts to keep the Han Chinese majority from understanding the Tibet issue are complicating the conclusions ordinary Chinese draw from hearing about it.  Finally, given that self-immolations have occurred in every major region of Tibet except for the largely unpopulated Ngari, it seems that immolations as a form of communication between Tibetans, calling them to take action and stand together, are certainly having an effect.

Where it goes from here is going to depend on what the Chinese government does.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Train of Thought Lounge: Gnarls Barkley

There are some weeks where work and school combine to make blogging virtually impossible. This is one of those weeks. If you're watching the news, just remember that no one actually cares about the deficit and government spending only creates jobs if they are created in the military industrial complex.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What Do Benefit Cuts to Medicare Mean?

As usual on these issues, Atrios nails it:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Irsael/Palestine in a Nutshell

Finally, recognition by the UN, in a symbolic step, but a still significant one:

The historic General Assembly decision late Thursday to accept “Palestine” as a non-member observer state won’t actually grant independence to the 4.3 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Israel remains an occupying force in the first two territories and continues to severely restrict access to Gaza, ruled by the Hamas militant group. Nor does the vote plaster over the rift in the Palestinian leadership that has led to the emergence of dueling governments in the West Bank and Gaza.

But by gaining approval at a world forum overwhelmingly sympathetic to their quest, Palestinians hope to make it harder for Israel to resist global pressure to negotiate the borders of a future Palestine based on lines Israel held before capturing the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967.

The massive international recognition of the Palestinians’ right to a state — only nine of 193 General Assembly members voted against it — gave them hope that the tide had turned in their favor.

“It’s a great feeling to have a state, even if in name only,” said civil servant Mohammed Srour, 28, standing in a flag-waving a crowd of more than 2,000 packed into a square in the West Bank city of Ramallah late Thursday. “The most beautiful dream of any man is to have an independent state, particularly for us Palestinians who have lived under occupation for a long time.”

But even though the resolution did not immediately change their lives, Palestinians say the recognition isn’t just symbolic. They believe it will strengthen their hand in any future talks with Israel, which has attacked the Palestinian move as an attempt to bypass such negotiations.
Israel's response was fitting of the colonial state that they are:

JERUSALEM — Israel approved the construction of 3,000 homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, a government official said Friday, drawing swift criticism from the Palestinians a day after their successful U.N. recognition bid.

The Palestinians strongly condemned the announcement and repeated their refusal to start peace negotiations while building continued. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently poised for re-election and insisting that any negotiations begin without preconditions, prospects for peace appear to be going into deep freeze.

The unusually large building plan came a day after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem as a non-member observer state, setting off jubilant celebrations among Palestinians.
The irony here is that Israel is actually screwing themselves royally in the long run. Building more settlements in Palestinian territory doesn't get rid of Palestinians (although they're trying their best, see Gaza). What it actually does is make a two state solution impossible, and it makes it much more likely that the only workable solution in the future is with one state where everyone has equal voting rights.

The Truth About Fracking

One of the things that drove me absolutely nuts during the election was both Obama and Romney falling over themselves to prove how much they support and love fracking. It's an absolute disaster, and please watch this really well done video on the subject:

I wanted to add D's comment to the post cause I thought it did a really good job of  describing the overarching problem here about what the right has done with science in our public discourse: (emphasis added is mine)

This is all incredibly depressing. It's become too easy to dismiss years of scientific research by creating a "controversy." The real irony of it all is that opponents of science can play off the scientific process, which in and of itself is about controversy. The scientific method with its dependency on repetition and the peer review process that encourages critical assessment of alternative explanations both facilitate this "debate" idea even in cases where the evidence is overwhelming in favor of one viewpoint (see Evolution for an excellent case study). The fact that the science education is this country is slightly better than awful also compounds the issue because the general public can't think critically about scientific alternatives and journalists are afraid to take sides or think critically because they don't want to be labeled as biased or even worse, LIBERAL.

So, as I said at the beginning, the state of science and policy is depressing and disheartening. All too often it takes a catastrophe to destroy the public's apathy or disillusionment with these issues. 
A reason having this blog is awesome: Having crazy smart actual scientists like Jaypop, D, Nick F. and others being able to read and chime in regularly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

RIP Sean Taylor

Hard to believe it's been five years. My all time favorite Redskins player.

Good Riddance, Health Shuler

Via Zaid Jilani on twitter, this video of Health Shuler:

Health Shuler just took a position with Duke Energy. Not surprising, but still hilarious.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Durbin: Medicare/Medicaid on the Chopping Block

Not good news on the grand bargain front:

Sen. Dick Durbin said today that his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate should be willing to address entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid in deficit reduction negotiations.

“From my side of the table, bring entitlement reform into the conversation,” Durbin said on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “Social Security — set aside … doesn’t add to the deficit.  But when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, protect the integrity of the program, but give it solvency for more and more years.”

But Durbin ruled out raising  the age of Medicare eligibility as a potential reform.
Not good. Dick Durban is almost always speaking for the White House when he says stuff during negotiations like this. Possibly worse? During the interview he kept referring to Lindsay Graham as "his friend." Gross.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

As is the tradition:

Garfield's Thanksgiving Special Part 1 2 by bul212121

Garfield's Thanksgiving Special Part 2 2 by bul212121

Also... this, later today:

Hopefully RG3 gets the first win over Dallas, in the most humiliating way possible.

Enjoy your thanksgivings everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Train of Thought Lounge: New Edition–“Every Little Step”

To ease into the holidays . . . New Edition in all their glory


How about... if we do nothing!

Some predictably terrifying news on the climate front:

In the absence of aggressive government policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, a number of leading organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank and others, have begun issuing analyses that regard potentially dangerous temperature elevations as not just a possibility should the status quo prevail, but a near certainty even if things start to change.

The latest report, released Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program, suggested that greenhouse gas emissions levels are currently around 14 percent above where they need to be by the end of the decade in order to avoid what many analysts believe could be a risky level of planetary warming.

That report comes on the heels of a study issued Tuesday by the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization, which stated that human civilization has pumped roughly 375 billion tonnes, or metric tons, of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial age, when the extraction
and combustion of fossil fuels began in earnest.

"These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, in a statement issued Tuesday. "Future emissions will only compound the situation."

On Sunday, the World Bank issued a report suggesting that the climate could warm a full 4 degrees by the end of the century -- less than 90 years from now -- even if countries fulfill the modest emissions-reduction pledges they've already made.

A 4-degree uptick in temperatures is significantly higher than what has long been deemed the maximum amount -- 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit -- that average global temperatures could rise while still maintaining a climate similar to that in which human civilization has evolved.
Obama held a press conference post election, and one aspect of it truly floored me. When asked a question on Climate change, he didn't even pretend to try, be basically said, yeah things are bad in other areas and I want to focus on them. If that's what we can expect from his second term, we're in some serious shit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Most Important Labor Action in Years Approaches

It's really hard to come up with enough superlatives to describe how important these black Friday strike at Walmarts are for workers rights in the United States. Josh Eidelson: (who has been amazing in his coverage of these strikes)

Weeks into a wave of historic strikes, and days before a planned Black Friday showdown, Walmart has filed a National Labor Relations Board charge alleging that the pickets are illegal and asking for a judge to shut them down. Walmart is no stranger to the NLRB: labor groups have filed numerous charges there accusing the retail giant of punishing or threatening activist workers, including dozens over the past few months. But this charge is the first one filed by the company in a decade. It will pose a decision for a judge and, even sooner, for the Labor Board’s Obama-appointed acting general counsel, who’s been a lightning rod for past Republican attacks.

The National Labor Relations Board, created by the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, is tasked with enforcing and interpreting private sector labor law. Walmart’s charge, filed Thursday night and reported by Reuters Friday evening, sets two processes in motion. The first, which could take months, is the full investigation and resolution of the allegation, beginning with fact-finding by board agents based in Walmart’s backyard (NLRB Region 26, which covers Arkansas and three other states). The second, which could advance as soon as this week, is the decision whether to grant an injunction restricting strikes against Walmart while the investigation proceeds. Experts say NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon would have final say over whether the board seeks the injunction; if it does, a district court judge will decide whether to grant it.

While the NLRB is most often criticized by conservatives, its swiftest and strongest remedies are devoted to restricting unions. Federal law requires the NLRB to prioritize employers’ allegations of illegal picketing over other charges, and to request an injunction to stop the picketing if it finds “reasonable cause” to believe such allegations are correct, and expects to issue a complaint (the equivalent of an indictment). So injunctions restricting picketing are often granted within a few days of workers’ going on strike (in contrast, workers who allege they were fired for their union activism often wait for months, injunction-less, to find out whether they’ll get their jobs back). Experts say that, if Walmart has strong enough evidence, an injunction could potentially be issued in time to block Black Friday pickets. But that’s a very big “if.”

Not only would these black Friday strikes deal a economic/PR blow to Walmart on their busiest day of the year, but they would empower other Walmart workers across the country who face the same issues on the job. Go do and to see if there is anything you can do to support a store on Black Friday. If you live in the DC area, I know that the Hyattsville Walmart will have workers out on strike. Even stopping by with some donuts or coffee would be a big help.  These people are working minimum wage jobs, and risking what little pay and security they have this Friday. Their courage should inspire us all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

No Country On Earth Would Tolerate This!

Well said Sahar.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Israel in the Process of Destroying Gaza. Again.

A good recap of how we got where we are::

Shortly after the return of Gilad Shalit, I drafted a proposal to the Government of Israel and Hamas to enter into a long term ceasefire arrangement based on the assumption that, for the time being, neither side was interested in engaging in renewed warfare. The assumption was well founded and based on the experience that I gained directly in helping to arrange a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza after the terrorist attack across the Sinai border in August 2011, while the Shalit negotiations were taking place.

Repeated rounds of rocket fire over the following year yielded the same results with both sides seeking a ladder to step down and avoid full escalation, which would not bring any political or military gains. Since that time, with the exception of the last round of violence two weeks ago, the rocket fire from Gaza was launched after a pre-emptive Israeli strike against terror cells. Based on Israeli intelligence information, pre-emptive strikes were conducted primarily against cells from the Islamic Jihad and the popular resistance committees. Hamas almost always sat on the sidelines and allowed the other factions in Gaza to shoot their rockets until the price in human life became too high. At that point, Hamas urged the Egyptians to intervene to secure a return to calm. In the last rounds, Hamas, under pressure from its public, joined in the shooting of rockets—but it almost always aimed its rockets at open spaces in Israel and their damage was minimal. It was clear to all involved that Hamas was not interested in escalating the situation and for its own reasons and agreed to impose the ceasefire on all of the other factions, and on itself.

The key actor on the Hamas side was Ahmed Jaabari, the commander of Ezedin al Qassam, the military wing of Hamas. When he was convinced that Israel was ready to stand down as well, Jaabari was always ready to take the orders to force the ceasefire on all of the other factions and on Hamas.
Both Israel and Hamas had decided months ago not to take action on my proposed ceasefire option, which included within it a mechanism that would prevent Israeli pre-emptive actions and would enable Hamas to prove that it was prepared to prevent terror attacks against Israel. Both sides responded very seriously to the proposal, but without any signal that there was an openness on the other side, neither was willing to advance the possibility for testing it.

Several weeks ago, I decided to try once again and, through my counterpart in Hamas, we both began speaking to high level officials on both sides. A few days ago I met my counterpart in Cairo and we agreed that he would draft a new proposal based on our common understanding of what was required to make it work.

Yesterday morning, hours before Israel assassinated Ahmed Jaabari, my counterpart in Hamas presented the draft to Jaabari and to other Hamas leaders. Senior Hamas leaders on the outside had already seen it and had instructed him to check the reactions to it in Gaza. I was supposed to receive the draft yesterday evening to present to Israeli officials who were waiting for me to send it to them.

That option is now off the table. Jaabari is dead and so is the chance for a mutually beneficial long term ceasefire understanding. Why did Benjamin Netanyahu do it? The cynical answer already offered by Aluf Benn in Haaretz is elections consideration. Cast Lead was also conducted before elections. Hitting Jaabari, according to Netanyahu’s thinking, would help him in the upcoming Israeli elections. Perhaps this is true, perhaps not.
This government doesn't make any attempts at peaceful solutions because the know they don't have to. This is was going to lead to more violence. This is smartly said, by the President of the Palestine Center:
Israel's assassination today will only lead to further escalation and put civilians on both sides at great risk while doing little to change the dynamics on the ground. Israel's horrendous war on Gaza in 2008-9, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, and massive destruction in its wake did little to change the situation except to create more anger amongst Palestinians towards the policies of Israel. Truces and diplomacy however, brokered by third parties, have been more successful. Given this reality, it is hard to explain Israeli behavior as being dictated by anything other than the personal political interests of Israeli leaders seeking re-election in the coming months. It is certain than an unacceptable number of casualties will be created and little will change in terms of the dynamics of fire when the smoke finally clears.
For the millionth time that this has been mentioned on this blog, the United States funds this and allows this to happen. The truth is that if the US wanted this to stop, they could end it. Please keep that in mind as you see the horrifying images of this bombing campaign on the news.

Mitt Romney: Still the Worst

Very excited for the prospect of him leaving out lives forever:
Mitt Romney has a simple explanation for donors as to why his presidential campaign came up short: President Obama gave out too much stuff.

According to reports in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, the former Republican nominee said during a call with donors on Wednesday that Obama had been “very generous” in doling out “big gifts” to “the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people” as well as to women throughout his first term. Benefits such as access to “free health care,” guaranteed contraceptive coverage, more affordable student loans, and “amnesty for children of illegals,” all combined to give the president a decisive edge in popularity.

“The President’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift — so he made a big effort on small things,” Romney said. “Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.”
Yep. Gifts. Not everyone can "earn" all the privilege and wealth that you get when you're born as the son of a CEO massive company/Governor/Presidential candidate. Good riddance.

The Grand Bargain Marches On

This is a sign of how far down the road we are with Medicare and Social Security cuts in the Grand Bargain:
As part of an event with the Wall Street Journal and corporate leaders, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD) — a leading Democrat and ranking member of the House Budget Committee — indicated that he thinks cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits should be part of the upcoming deficit negotiations:
On Capitol Hill, it isn’t clear how strenuously Democrats will resist cutting entitlements. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) said he and others were open to changes as long as they were done in a measured way and were part of deal that included tax increases. Mr. Van Hollen also said changing Social Security and increasing the Medicare eligibility age above 65 should be part of negotiations. “I’m willing to consider all of these ideas as part of an overall plan,” Mr. Van Hollen said Tuesday at the Journal’s CEO Council.
Van Hollen is in the house leadership, has higher ambitions, and is no dummy. He would not be talking like this if the framework of a deal wasn't in the works.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Surveillance State Eats Itself

That title stolen from a tweet by Glenn Greenwald, but I really do find this aspect of the Petraeus thing hilarious. Atrios:
Kind Of Obvious but I haven't seen it said yet. Looks like a corrupt abuse of the surveillance state took down the CIA chief.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Paul Ryan:
In his first interview since losing the election, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wouldn’t admit that voters rejected his economic vision and instead chalked up President Obama’s victory to a large turnout of the “urban vote.” “I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare, we clearly didn’t lose it on those issues,” Ryan to local station WISC-TV. “I think the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race.”
Hmmm... the urban vote! WHAT COULD HE POSSIBLY MEAN????

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What happens to the Republican Party?

(Photo from Romney Rally in Lancaster, OH - Via this post of racist signs about Obama)

This has been a question that has been batted around after Tuesday's results, and I think it's a pretty interesting one. First off, we should point out that there are no permanent majorities and anytime a victory leads to talk of wins for a GENERATION that's the first sign that it will never happen. On the other hand, this election, even more so than 2006, 2008 and 2010 has shown some of the real fractures and long term weaknesses in the republican coalition.

So what happens?

Well, first, let's quickly look at what needs to happen long term: The GOP needs to purge the racists from their midst, and move away from anti-gay, anti-women, anti-latino and anti-science/math positions. Why? Because if they don' t they will cease as a viable political party as demographics change.

What will actually happen?

Well, none of the things above, at least any time soon. The biggest misconception out there right now is all the important Republicans will go back to DC, agree they went a bit to far, change all their positions to something more respectable and all will be fine again. This won't happen for several reasons:

1) Changing the fundamental makeup of a political coalition isn't like flipping a switch, it's like turning around a tanker. So for starters, it's not possible for any of these changes to take place immediately even if people actually wanted to make them!

2) In order for change to occur, your coalition needs to be somewhat open to that change. If you've dedicated your life to anti gay or anti-immigrant work, you didn't wake up on Wednesday and realize you've had it wrong this whole time. This is how the Republican base feels. When Obama came out in favor of gay marriage, there was no backlash because the vast majority of Democrats already supported gay marriage. When John McCain cosposored immigration reform, the bill was killed because of anger from conservatives freaking out house republicans. Conservatives don't want immigration reform any more than they did 6 years ago. These are not beliefs that will magically going to go away overnight.

3) And that is the major problem here: These racists, anti-immigrant, anti-science, anti-women people are the republican base. And Republicans need them to get reelected. You need constituencies to stay in power in politics, and while the rest of the country is moving in a more progressive direction in all these ways, the republican base shows no signs of doing so. I firmly believe that plenty of the republicans elected to DC don't even believe half the vile BS they're spewing, but they need to keep those constituencies happy in order to not get primaried out of a job.

4) More than any other factor, politicians care about one thing: losing their jobs. If you're a Republican right now, the biggest fear of losing your jobs doesn't come from people pointing out that you're a racist, it comes from the tea party wing of the party that has successfully knocked out multiple popular Republican incumbents who where cruising to reelection. For two straight cycles, tea party primary challenges have prevented the Republican party from achieving control of the senate. These people literally give no fucks. If you were in the position of moderate Republicans, wouldn't you fear them too?

If anyone doubts how deep the crazy resides in their base, please rewatch the Republican primary debates. Booing gay soldiers. Booing Rick Perry's support of the Texas dream act. Cheering "let him die". This IS the Republican party. These aren't views that will change over time, the only thing that will change over time is the people.

The Republican party will eventually evolve and break free of the bigoted neanderthals who are currently driving the ship. That change will come in 20-30 years, not because the GOP wised up and put a few more non-white faces on stage at their convention, but because in 20-30 years, most of the current Republican base will be dead.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Election Thoughts

Alright, everyone take a deep breath. A few quick thoughts on last night (written at 2 AM so try to stay with me):
  • An absolute ass kicking at the presidential level. As of now, Mitt Romney has one swing state total.
  • Major sea change victories on state propositions: Gay Marriage in MD, ME and WA as well as Marijuana legalization in CO and WA. The first time these issues have ever won on a ballot, and I think it is a sign of things to come. Sanity on both gay rights and the drug war are major, major progressive wins.
  • The Senate: Holy crap. North Dakota!!! Both Rape twins losing! I'm usually one who argues that we shouldn't be too quick to celebrate how right wing republicans have become, but this is the second straight election cycle where their embrace of unelectable crazy people has cost them a shot at controlling the senate. Amazing.
  • The quality of people elected matters, especially in the senate where it's much more important to have strong advocates than back bencher Ds. Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin (The first openly gay, female senator) both fit that bill. And especially Warren. A senator who has made her career fighting the banks? Yes please.
  • World's worst human Allen West loses.
  • California: Pass prop 30 (increase in tax on rich, sales tax, to fund education) and defeat prop 32 (anti union bill that stops political contributions). The push back on the 2010 anti-union wave continues.
  • I'm sure more will be written about this, but Obama (and Brown's) win in Ohio I think are still the after effects of SB5. That push may have burned Republicans in that state for a generation.
This strikes me as a broad victory for progressives in many ways, much more than the presidential race that got all the attention. Onward!

The Question We're All Asking This Morning

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ToT Predicts: Further Predictions!

Electoral Predictions! Fun! Excitement! Being Wrong!

Obama wins. 303-235. 51 - 46 Popular vote.

Swing states
Obama Wins: Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia
Romney Wins: North Carolina, Florida (FL will be too close to call tonight)

Democratic Wins: Massachusetts, Ohio, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Indiana, West Virginia, Virginia, Montana
Republican Wins: Nebraska, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri (that's right, the legitimate rape guy is winning, I'm calling it)
Douche Wins: Maine (Get ready to hear a lot about Agnus King on this blog. He's like Joe Lieberman's douchiness with Joe Manchin's intelligence)

Democrats pick up 10 seats, remains in Republican control.

One More Prediction
While you would assume that Republicans would take this loss (or the fact that if they hadn't nominated crazy people they would have had control of the senate both in 2010 and 2012) as a wakeup call that many of their ideas are very unpopular. That will not happen. There will be one, overwhelming takeaway from the right after this election: That they lost because Mitt Romney wasn't conservative enough, or wasn't a real conservative. Take it to the bank.

Important Note
When Ohio is called for Obama, the election is over, even if news networks are saying otherwise. My prediction is that both the state and the election get called around 9:20.

In housekeeping news, there won't be a liveblog unless on of our other blogmates decides to start one up and manage it. Why? Because I'm in a grad school program for public policy, and I have class tonight. If that doesn't make sense to you, you're not the only one, but doesn't seem to be a way I can get out of this one. I'll be on twitter after 10, and maybe will be able to set something up. Otherwise, I'll put up an open thread, or take your thoughts to twitter as well. Put your predictions in the comments if you've got any.

See you all later tonight as the madness unfolds!

ToT Predicts: Electoral Predictions and Political Hacks for a Day 2012

Rb’s Predictions, filled out at Based on a sabermetric analysis of Bryce Harper and RGIII’s WHIP average. And also I spoke with the Ghost of Tim Russert (RIP).


2012 prediction


Great find by Digby:

There's a reason why the right is doing everything in their power to stop you from voting.

Don't let them win. Vote.

And if you're in Maryland be sure to vote for prop 4 (the MD Dream Act) and Prop (Marriage Equality).

And if you're in Montgomery County, vote no on prop B, which limits the collective bargaining rights of police officers. The county thinks it's so important that they're using taxpayer money to hire canvasers to astroturf support for this bill. Be sure to do your part to defeat it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

In DC Pundit World, It's Only White People That Count

Here's Josh Marshall:
From an article just out from Politico
If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.

A broad mandate this is not.
As I’ve written many times before, the second rate product. If this is a subject that interests you, I’d encourage you to read the piece I linked right there.

Or to be more specific, Obama’s winning but not with the best votes. I mean really, if you can’t win with a broad cross-section of white people, can you really be said to represent the country? Really.
Well said.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Voter Suppression

This needs to be said often, and by anyone who has the ability to speak to a wider audience. And I have to say, voting rights need to be our "which side are you on" moment with the current GOP for any of our friends that lean conservative on some issues. If you support this republican party, you're supporting coordinated, state by state efforts to stop people from voting. They are at war against our democracy, on purpose, and with devastating effects.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Economy is Turning Around, Just Very Slowly

With today's jobs report (read Jared Bernstein for more on that), the scariest chart in the world from Naked Capitalism has been updated:

We're getting there, just extremely slowly.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Most Political Punditry is Completely Worthless

Not all of it obviously, but I'm mainly talking about things you see on TV that don't involve Chris Hayes and things you read in print that aren't Nate Silver.

And when I say it's worthless, I'm not saying that all talking about elections is worthless. It just means that people saying things that go directly against the available data measuring this stuff because it makes the race more interesting. The last couple of weeks online have led to a clash between the Nate Silver/other political modelers going up against the politico/morning joe version of the world. Basically after Romney got a bounce post 1st debate, the political media worked itself into a froth claiming the race was now 50/50 and a complete toss up. The problem, according to those that actually study polling data, was that while Romney had improved in most swing states, he was still trailing in almost all the keys states needed to win, especially Ohio, the most crucial of them all. Yet most of the political media didn't care, writings stories day after day about how tight the race was, when it was clear for weeks since that debate that Romney had moved no closer to actually winning the presidency.

If you're looking for an example of worthless journalism that I'm talking about, read this article from the SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, (the person in charge of reporting politics) for the Washington Post. It starts explaining Obama's polling lead in Ohio, and you think it might be going in the logical direction... BUT THEN:
After reviewing all of the available public polling data as well as talking to operatives in both parties about the private polls they are privy to, we are convinced that Ohio is a 1-3 point race in President Obama’s favor at the moment.

That — coupled with the state’s electoral history and the absolute necessity for Romney to win the state if he wants to be president — leads us to move it back to the “tossup” category.

Put simply: Ohio today has much more in common with Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire and Virginia (all “tossups” in the Fix rankings) than it does with New Mexico and Minnesota (“lean Obama” states in the Fix rankings).
Seriously look at those sentences, split apart.

Sentence 1: Obama is leading by 1-3 points consistently in all polls, and based on all the information we have at our disposal.

Sentence 2: Because Romney "needs to win the state", Chris Cillizza, the lead politics reporter for the Washington Post, has decided that the state should be considered a tossup.

Sentence 3: Ohio has more in common with the states we're calling tossups than the ones we are calling "lean Obama". What do they have in common? Why is any of this relevant to how the state will vote? Why is it more important than the ACTUAL DATA, SITTING RIGHT THERE AT YOUR DISPOSAL???

These are the jokes that report our election coverage. Why do they do this? Mainly because they provide absolutely no value at all to the coverage of politics and elections, so they bullshit like this to pretend that they do. Would people be less informed if somehow the politics section of the post was missing one day? No, actually they'd be better informed by not reading garbage analysis and made up story-lines that have no basis in reality. The sooner this type of political coverage goes away, the better.

It All Comes Down To Ohio

Get excited people! (mainly Kari)
So, in other words, we need to abolish the electoral college.

Happy Halloween

From my new favorite site "fuck yeah Springfield":

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Worst

Stay classy Romney campaign:

DAYTON, Ohio — The last-minute decision by Romney high command Monday to suspend politics while Sandy raged sent aides in Ohio scrambling to convert a scheduled victory rally into an apolitical "storm relief event" — a process that tested the campaign's agility, and left a few threads of partisanship inadvertently hanging.

On Monday morning, Romney's local team in Dayton was eagerly preparing to host the candidate the following day. A high school gym had been reserved, a stage had been rented, and a pair of celebrity guests — country singer Randy Owen, and NASCAR driver Richard Petty — had been booked to give the event some B-list heft.

Then, a little before noon, communications director Gail Gitcho announced the cancellation of "all events currently scheduled" for Tuesday. The superstorm that forecasters had been warning about for days had picked up steam, and people throughout the northeast were now bracing for the worst. In a statement, Gitcho said the decision to cancel campaign events had been made "out of sensitivity to the millions of Americans in the path of Hurricane Sandy."

But Boston wasn't quite ready to lose a full day of swing state visibility with a week left in the race. So, after some deliberation, the campaign decided to use their existing venue in Ohio to stage a makeshift, and nonpartisan, humanitarian project. It would be a way for Romney to show leadership — and get on the local news — without looking craven or opportunistic.. . .
The plan was for supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies to the event, and then deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman. To complete the project and photo-op, Romney would lead his crew in carrying the goods out of the gymnasium and into the Penske rental truck parked outside.
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it "did donate supplies to the relief effort," but would not specify how much it spent.). . .
But even as Romney, clad in blue jeans and rolled-up sleeves, hustled around his area of the gym, shaking hands, thanking supporters, and stacking cases of bottled water on top of each other, signs of stagecraft remained.

As supporters lined up to greet the candidate, a young volunteer in a Romney/Ryan t-shirt stood near the tables, his hands cupped around his mouth, shouting, "You need a donation to get in line!" Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, "What if we dropped off our donations up front?"

The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. "Just grab something," he said.
Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their "donations" to Romney. He took them, smiled, and offered an earnest "Thank you."

Fake "storm relief" even ts in Ohio? Pretending to wash clean dishes? The fuck is wrong with these people?

Friday, October 26, 2012

I would do anything for your endorsement, but I won't do that.

Meatloaf/some other weird people trying to sing American the Beautiful with a very awkward Mitt Romney watching:

What To Expect In Obama's Second Term: In His Words, Off the Record.

There was this back and forth between Obama and an Iowa newspaper the other day that ended up letting a very interesting interview see the light of day. Basically Obama did an "off the record interview with their editorial board, and they were pissed off that it had to be off the record, and publicly said so. In response, the Obama campaign released a transcript of the interview, to prove that they didn't actually care or something, but regardless, an interview that the president initially thought was off the record could show a little more insight into what he's actually planning for his second term than normal stump speech bullshiting. Right? Maybe? Either way, here is the interview:

When you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place, the commitment of both myself and my opponent — at least Governor Romney claims that he wants to reduce the deficit — but we’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business.

It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs.
And we can easily meet — “easily” is the wrong word — we can credibly meet the target that the Bowles-Simpson Commission established of $4 trillion in deficit reduction, and even more in the out-years, and we can stabilize our deficit-to-GDP ratio in a way that is really going to be a good foundation for long-term growth. Now, once we get that done, that takes a huge piece of business off the table.

The second thing I’m confident we’ll get done next year is immigration reform. And since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason I will win a second term is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community. And this is a relatively new phenomenon. George Bush and Karl Rove were smart enough to understand the changing nature of America. And so I am fairly confident that they’re going to have a deep interest in getting that done. And I want to get it done because it’s the right thing to do and I’ve cared about this ever since I ran back in 2008.

So assume that you get those two things done in the first year, and we’re implementing Wall Street reform, Obamacare turns out not to have been the scary monster that the other side has painted. Now we’re in a position where we can start on some things that really historically have not been ideological. We can start looking at a serious corporate tax reform agenda that’s revenue-neutral but lowers rates and broadens the base — something that both Republicans and Democrats have expressed an interest in.

I’ve expressed a deep desire and taken executive action to weed out regulations that aren’t contributing to the health and public safety of our people. And we’ve made a commitment to look back and see if there are regulations out there that aren’t working, then let’s get rid of them and see if we can clear out some of the underbrush on that. Again, that’s something that should be non-ideological.
My hope is, is that there’s a recognition that now is a great time to make infrastructure improvements all across the country. And we can pull up some of the money that we know we’re going to be spending over the next decade to put people back to work right now at a time when contractors are dying for work and interest rates are really low.
Even more solid evidence that he wants to do a completely useless grand bargain: BOO.

Immigration reform: YAY!

Stating that a grand bargain is what's needed to turn around the economy: Terrifying and I pray he doesn't actually believe it.
Conservative BSing about regulations: BOOOO.

Infrastructure spending: YAY!

Who knows how much of this is actually means anything, just figured it was worth passing along.