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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Emboldened by Beckian Teflon, FOX moves to outright censorship

They've refused this completely anodyne advertisement:

The cost of technological innovation in Washington

All you need to know about applied technology in America starts with K-street.

Was this Chertoff's only adventure, or was there another? I can't remember.

Frank Schaeffer

One voice, crying the desert, worth listening to.

Here's his take on Evangelicals and The Jews.

No money quote, because it's gestalt.


"The Simpsons" took its latest dig at Fox News on Sunday's episode, inventing a new motto for the channel: "Not Racist, But #1 With Racists."

Monday, November 22, 2010

GOP-Tea Obstructionism: After trillions, we must spend more on nukes


Here are today's headlines on START. Can you find the one that doesn't belong?

European allies say New START would aid policy
Ex-Eastern Bloc nations tell US Senate to ratify New START
Russia, NATO call on US to ratify START treaty
Reagan yes, START yes
Lugar Urges Senate Support For New START: 'Please Do Your Duty For Your Country'

The Nuclear Treaty Rush

I can't figure out why the GOP-Tea is opposed.

They want more money spent on nukes? Why? Have they noticed the deficit? Does most of the money go to Arizona, Senator Kyl's state?

They want to stop Obama, no matter the cost, from looking smart and effective on foreign policy, too?

They want to sabotage our position vis-a-vis Iran.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flash your 'stache - Movember Men With Little Time Left


Checking in on how the men of Movember are doing.

It appears that some in Afghanistan are sympatico.

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – During the month of November, some Marines in Afghanistan are growing mustaches to raise awareness for men’s health.

-True that

Meanwhile, down under, handlebars seem to be the rage... [pic link and the $2500 team]

College Republicans Kick Out Gay Chairman

Duke has enough problems that their President just sent out an appeal to propriety this week. Even Gawker took note.

But their troubles are just ramping up with Justin Robinette, who apparently was impeached from his position in the College Republicans. The reasons for that are in dispute, but this tidbit about the response from the Dean of Students suggests that Duke is in for a world of hurt:

When the last of their attempts to go through the student government to resolve claims failed, Robinette met privately with several administrators, including Dean of Students Stephen Bryan and President Richard Brodhead.

“The meeting with Bryan proved to be the most humiliating,” Robinette said. “He told me he had a theory that as a closeted gay guy in the organization, I had developed sexual feelings and was rejected, and that explains this scorn I have towards them.

- Tar Heel

It does seem odd that a Republican-linked organization would impeach someone simply for incompetence. /snark

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Whither the Mortgage Crisis


The Democrats were unable to get real reforms on mortgage debt past the Mortgage Bankers Association, who bought more Senators than had Obama, apparently.

Meanwhile, the fight over who pays for the fraud on Wall Street may seem settled (hint: Main Street lost in Washington and the wealthiest won in the last election).

However, behind the scenes Fannie and Freddie and some of the other bond insurers have been pushing back. And, once the amounts get into the tens of billions (reported by Barron's), one's eyes open from their general glaze of surrender.

Directly related or not, the GOP is honing its knives for the agencies who would dare to do such a thing as insert accountability of this size into the world of go-go finance.

[Ed Royce-R, CA] acknowledged there was little immediate difference between him and the Treasury over the idea of a slow reduction in the government’s role and said he would write legislation that he hoped the administration would support.

I don't know how Geithner came over to the opinion that Freddie and Fannie don't have a role any longer. The organizations have functioned well since the Great Depression, so what has changed, except unchecked fraud at origination and lax underwriting, when Mudd was Chairman (and I do believe that is the crux of what went wrong).

More importantly, what would we have done without them in this crisis? To simply throw away institutionalized expertise like they have is ...

Yet, if the moves by Fannie to lock people out of refinancing their homes, potentially, by raising debt-to-equity demanded at refi come into full force, as expected, then how is that good for recovery?

Does anyone disclose how many borrowers are affected by this?

While the Irish dust is still in the air above our heads


I couldn't help but notice that autocratic-capitalism China is raising reserve requirements, as its economy heats up.

There is plenty to dislike about China's government, but it sure is amazing to watch just what can be done.

As you know, U.S. banks let their reserves against bad loans, especially consumer credit, fall to a pittance, as they fueled a consumer-debt boom during a time of super-low, Greenspan policy rates.

Even after Greenspan started to raise rates, I'd love to see a chart of how many reserve requirements were actually waived. I do recall seeing a footnote in an annual report of one of the majors to that effect.

That's how I roll...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Taxes: Structural Changes in Taxes as a Response to Cyclical Turns

I worried aloud when Bush-43 pushed through his structural tax cuts (creating a obvious structural budget deficit), partly using justifications based on cyclical downturns.

And, as predicted, no one raised taxes, once the worst of the cycle was over and the Fed started to raise rates.

When we do, today, what Bush-43 did, promising "permanent" tax cuts, we are no longer all Keynesians.

We're just fools.

Update: sames goes for "Tax Holidays". Unless the people proposing them also say when the "Tax Jubilee" kicks in that pays back the holiday, who's interested in passing out this kind of crack?

FNMA: Hellbent on more structural misery in America


Can you believe that FNMA is adding yet another round of credit requirements?

If there is a quick way to neuter accommodating monetary policy, it would be to make sure that low rates matter less.

Now FNMA is locking out more borrowers. This is timely? The time to tighten credit standards is at the top of the cycle, not the bottom.

The latest. Are there any statistics that truly justify this?

  • -A whopping 10% shift in debt-to-income ratio. Like the prior guidelines, probably no phase-in period. Consider what this means for people who are committed to refinancing, to take advantage of lower rates or because they took advantage of a 3 or 5 year ARM!
  • -A single missed payment will now cost 5% penalty added to debt-to-income. No info on what the lookback period is. The predictive content of a single missed payment must be very small, at the margin, right?
  • -Borrowers with 10 payments left in a special new category
  • -The tyranny of FICO continues. If you miss a single credit-card or student-loan payment, you face a whopping 5% penalty.
  • -After upping the cap on bankruptcy workout, they are now doing the same for foreclosure, to seven years. These baffle me the most. It's like admitting that all their ramped-up loan-level adjustments and new equity requirements are bunk. They still need a special category.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

DADT - Read the (known) Amendments

After Senator Murkowski said she wanted to focus on important things rather than vote on DADT, I spent the time to do some digging on what is publicly known about amendments that were offered but didn't get considered with the Defense Authorization Bill, in which the removal of DADT is couched. Afterall, indications were that the GOP-Tea folks had plenty of "serious" material, including flag waving in Haiti.

Here's the Bill itself (S. 3454). [Take special note of the Cuba section].

Read the amendments in the GPO's pdf.

It's worth the time for a skim, because this is one of the Bills in which everything goes down. Starts with a list of who offered amendments, then continues with the text. You see why Kyl is ape about the START treaty.

Senator Voinovich wants a "COLONEL CHARLES YOUNG HOME SPECIAL RESOURCE STUDY". That's critical, right Senator Murkowski?

Kay B Hutchinson has detailed ideas about how base money should be spent - what's up with that?

Blanche Lincoln is on a tear for military family needs. Somehow more than the lobby groups in Washington and anyone in Committee?

Big John Cornyn - Went to Washington and Showed 'Em How Its Done

Bring home the earmarks ... Big John.

Now, rather than follow the VA's program for rural areas or follow the GOP-Tea's sometime plan to shift military care from the VA to private care, we have Senators building facilities and making "findings":

SA 4639. Mr. CORNYN (for himself and Mrs. Hutchison) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by him to the bill S. 3454, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2011 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:

At the end of subtitle G of title X, add the following:


(a) Findings.--Congress makes the following findings:

(1) The current and future health care needs of veterans residing in the Far South Texas area are not being fully met by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(2) The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that more than 117,000 veterans reside in Far South Texas.

[Page: S7294] GPO's PDF

(3) In its Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services study, the Department of Veterans Affairs found that fewer than three percent of its enrollees in the Valley-Coastal Bend Market of Veterans Integrated Service Network 17 reside within its acute hospital access standards.

(4) Travel times for veterans from the market referred to in paragraph (3) can exceed six hours from their residences to the nearest Department of Veterans Affairs hospital for acute inpatient health care.

(5) Even with the significant travel times, veterans from Far South Texas demonstrate a high demand for health care services from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(6) Current deployments involving members of the Texas National Guard and Reservists from Texas will continue to increase demand for medical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

(b) Construction of Major Medical Facility in Far South Texas.--

(1) IN GENERAL.--The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall carry out the construction of a major medical facility project in Far South Texas consisting of a full service Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.

(2) FACILITY LOCATION.--The facility referred to in paragraph (1) shall be located in a county in Far South Texas that the Secretary determines to be most appropriate to meeting the health care needs of veterans in Far South Texas.

(3) REPORT.--Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the Committees on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and House of Representatives a report identifying and outlining the determination of the Secretary under paragraph (2) and a detailed estimate of the cost of and time necessary for completion of the project required by paragraph (1).

(c) Definition.--In this section, the term ``Far South Texas'' means the following counties of the State of Texas: Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Crockett, DeWitt, Dimmit, Duval, Goliad, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Victoria, Webb, Willacy, and Zapata.

(d) Authorization of Appropriations.--There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2011 for the Construction, Major Projects account such sums as may be necessary for the project required by subsection (b).

Upaid for Tax Cut = Tax on your kids

There is NO tax cut, if it is paid for with borrowed money.

To say otherwise is Washington double-speak.

Democratic Party Fail: An "Up-Down" Vote on Taxes is NOT Leadership


Staging an up/down vote is not leadership. As a political party, not individuals, one needs to mark out and propagate - good sense of the term - why their vote on taxes "makes sense", up or down.

After this vote fails, the Dems will be technically complicit, once again, in the GOP-style cuts-tax-and-spend. Next time they promise that some program is "completely paid for", should I bother to listen to them?

And they wonder why the polls of independent voters continue to suggest that they trust the GOP more to do things like balance the budget.

They had a once in a lifetime chance to show that they were better than the GOP. They started, with curbing earmarks and with Pay-Go rules.

Now, when the risks and numbers get high, all they can do is stage a vote?

That's not leadership.

It's not just income taxes. The estate taxes and more are involved.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry - Genesis says it's okay


This is why George Soros is right. Anyone who couldn't take this to the bank is not a professional politician, in the good sense of the term.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Chair Apparent
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

Yigit Pura

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is Bernanke Buying the Right Assets?


After having paid for the election, in their mind, is it any surprise that, in addition to "no taxes", there are quarters call today in unison for the Fed to stop taking human misery into its considerations? Afterall, the wealthy are not the ones unemployed are they?

Anyway, QE2 is all the rage to worry about.

Has anyone wondered aloud whether Ben should be buying up risky assets, rather than Government debt?

Are they monetizing the wrong asset(s)?

Just curious...

What does "Fiscal Conservative" Mean?


I'd suggest, again, that it is Andrew Mellon: tax cuts only if they are paid for in advance by spending cuts.

What do we find instead, keeping in mind the Reagan-era debt explosion? Well, Andrew Sullivan lauds:

1986-style tax reform (largely removing deductions and lowering rates) - link

Why is this "conservative" or "fiscal conservative"? It sounds more Republican than conservative.

Lower marginal income tax rates looks like chasing the already long-in-the-tooth Reagan era. You can't fight diminishing returns to a strategy...

Why isn't the "conservative" position simply to recognize the structural deficit created by the Bush tax cuts and to raise taxes?

Last, the legacy of the Reagan era reforms looks Republican and even more risky for nation with a completely different set of economic realities:

When all was said and done, the total tax burden imposed on the American people from all sources—state and local taxes, federal income and capital gains taxes, and payroll taxes—remained basically unchanged throughout the 1980s. In the end, Reagan's reputation as a tax-cutter far outran his actual performance.

Reagan's tax policies did, however, redistribute the tax burden significantly, even if they failed to reduce it overall. By cutting income taxes, which are paid at a higher rate by the wealthy, while increasing payroll taxes, which are paid at a higher rate by the working poor and middle class, Reagan shifted the tax burden down the income scale. During the 1980s, the total effective federal taxation rate for the poorest one-fifth of American families actually increased by more than 16%. By contrast, the effective taxation rate for the wealthiest one-fifth of families fell by 5.5%, and the richest one percent of Americans saved even more: their tax rate fell by 14.4%.25

Eyewash from GOP-Teapublicans

The eyewashing of the GOP-led debt couldn't be more clear, to anyone familiar with the numbers.

But, these charts from Andrew Sullivan (via Fallows via Spinney) are right, as far as they go, but they are incomplete. Let me help. Either you remove all the social security receipts, for an adjusted figure of debt-held-by-public or you include both cash receipts and accrued obligations.

What passes as a position for conservatives on fiscal matters?

Let the Military Move When Ready


70% of the military and 57 Senators (representing probably at least 70% of the nation) favor repealing the military's costly policy on gay servicemen and women, who contribute to our nation's security, daily. Not personally costly, although that's a factor for military integrity, but also tax-dollar costly.

The current language in the Defense Authorization bill does not repeal the policy. It is simply a vote to let the military proceed, if and when they are ready.

Colin Powell's harmful, damaging disinformation on the matter, here, along with Meet the Press's inability to correct it on air.

Recall, that Israel moved fast, once they saw the need to do so:

Within three months, then-IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak signed the command banning military discrimination based on sexual orientation into law

We've been at it for 17 years, and intensively for ten months this year.

photo: Jeff Sheng

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Disabled, From 'The poor, the disabled, the infirm, and kids"

AEI takes a shot at the disability programs:

The fastest rising cost for Social Security isn’t retiring baby boomers, but skyrocketing Disability Insurance benefits. Disability benefits now make up 18 percent of all Social Security costs, up from only 10 percent in 1990. This year, the federal government will spend $125 billion for disability benefits. Including the Medicare benefits that are paid to D.I. recipients, total expenditures approach $200 billion. - Andrew Biggs

While fraud and abuse of any program is of interest, I'm not sure that the assertion that this is the fastest rising cost is true. See here.

As long as we're starting memes, why does the army in Texas need a list of facilities that runs as deep as your elbow?

COLA for benefits but not COLA for property taxes?


If benefits are to be indexed to COLA, shouldn't revenue caps be indexed as well, things like distortionary property tax caps? (cf Orzag on Social Security).

The immediate problem with social security isn't the long-term actuarial shortfall. It is that the trust is going to need hard cash for its enormous mountain of IOUs, soon; and, rather than prepare for that day, we've been spending social security receipts and compounding the risk of that by indulging in tax-cuts and tax-cut rhetoric. This is why the Catfood Commission's 50-year phase in on new revenues is far too risky, almost laughable. Do it now (and phase it out over 50 years, if that is the political compromise needed to get it done).

If Gore had done his "lock box", we wouldn't face nearly the same risks as those brought down by Bush's profligacy. It's amazing that GOP-Tea folks, some of them, wanted a balanced budget amendment, but they refused to follow rules-based commonsense, in terms of financial risk to the social security program.

As for cutting benefits, the wisest thing is to put pressure on employers to design jobs that are suitable to seniors and to those 55+, who don't get a fair shake, often, in the current job market. Surprisingly, a lot of people would like to work - just ask them - if they can get a job that is tailored to their needs. After that, the first benefits to cut are those that aren't needed to alleviate poverty in old age. Clearly, healthcare is a key cost consideration in hiring older employees, so do something with that.

Last, benefits, perhaps even retirement age, should be tied to the actual performance of the economy. That's very complicated, but it seems that some formulas could be worked out, so that one wouldn't have to rely on Congresscritters to take corrective action. Such formulas would tie actuarial assumptions with actual experience in those variables and make revenue adjustments and benefits changes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Mission Critical", Theoretical and Practical Aspects

DADT harms the nation's security. Getting rid of it is more than just a moral appeal to "the right thing to do".

There is no need to balance this with any other practical consideration, is there, including that some GIs might feel uncomfortable, until such time as they 'get over it':

The data confirm a long-term trend, and a 2005 Government Accountability Report found that the military fired 757 mission-critical specialists, including 322 linguists, in the first decade of "don't ask, don't tell." JD Smith, co-Director of OutServe, said that today's news shows how "don't ask, don't tell" jeopardizes the safety of the troops. "These discharges put our lives at risk," Smith said. "As leadership continues to fire gay service members in critical career fields, it is the troops on the ground who will pay with their personal safety." OutServe is the first-ever organization made up exclusively of currently-serving gay and lesbian troops. It now includes more than 500 members.

The new data were collected by the Defense Manpower Data Center and made available by the House Armed Services Committee. They were submitted to the Committee in compliance with current law which requires each of the services to disclose on an annual basis the number of service members who have left the service, why they left and what jobs they performed.

-Palm Center

Mr. Loathsome Goes to Washington

Compromised in advance, from Indiana, Mr. Coats.

Hate, Fear, Compassion

I blogged about it once before, and it seems that the Kos daily hate mail is brimming with gay fear and hate. It's not new that "faggot" is somehow the worst epithet. But the response is relatively new (I think): "It's okay to come out of the closet."

Meanwhile, flashback:

"Back in the early 50s (I was 14), I used to bowl in the little bowling alley in the American Colony in Nueva Rosita, a mining town in Coahuila, Mexico. We used to snicker and circle any total of 41 pins. It seems that sometime in the early 50s, Mexico City cops broke up a raucous gay party and arrested 41 men. Since then the number has been used to describe gay men in Mexico. He is one of the forty one! In Argentina we call gay men trolos and lesbians tortilleras. I don't know the origin of the former and the latter confuses me as a tortilla maker in Argentina would make omelettes while in Mexico she would make tortillas."

-Artist, photographer, Alex Waterhouse-Hayward

Saturday, November 13, 2010

@Madrigal @Zadie #AtlanticOnline

Nothing's changed: All the world's a stage. There. One tweet saved 10,000 words.

Liberals on Taxes: Question Of the Day

How can Chris Matthews have a discussion with Ed Rendell on what the appropriate level of taxation is in the country, what the appropriate structure to taxes might be, but think that "the deficit" is "that other question"?

What exactly frames or grounds "the debate" about taxes for Liberals, in general or at this time?

The GOP 'fiscal brand' in tatters? The deficit? The recession? Middle class versus millionaires? 2012? Balanced budget? Discretionary spending? Wartime spending? Mandatory spending? Cost control, especially health cost but not just? The optics of "being for tax cuts"? Which party ran up the deficits and why? Who historically has benefited the most from tax cuts and who hasn't?

If you don't have a clear vision of how all those things go together, it's hard to fight a univocal "no".

Separately, it was good to see Obama recognize at his press conference that his role isn't to negotiate in the Press.

Will he recognize that he needs to reach out to the public, a la Reagan, not just to "leaders of both parties"?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Jon Stewart and the Media

I didn't find much in the Maddow Stewart interview, except his upfront recognition that FOX has, like a religion, immunized itself from criticism, because all critics must be "liberal non believers", "pinheads", or "loons".

Jon seems to want to find synthesis, when there hasn't been thesis and antithesis, yet, at least not like we used to have, during the days of yellow journalism and so forth.

It's not at all plain that the "correct" response to the propaganda that started on FOX is to re-dedicate oneself to the principles of objective journalism. This assumes that "the center will hold". But, the disinformation from "FOX" is starting to show the ability to radicalize the center, to marginalize it at a minimum. Besides, we had a fairly decent press of that sort. It's been losing and is no longer economically viable in its old form.

Since our politics, and therefore our media, is hopelessly bi-polar, these kinds of changes at one side of the see-saw are going to have an impact on the other side.

Some, strange multifaceted approach is probably both what will occur and maybe even what should occur.


Is Reid, so far, the only Democratic Party Senator who has said that $700 billion in even temporary tax cuts is too much or even said that it's an unrealistic demand from a GOP-Tea Party who just campaigned on "trust me, we won't use your kid's ATM" and don't "trust the Democrats".

The rest of them better caucus and wise up to the fact that, if they don't hang together, they will hang separately.

Beyond the Singing Nun

The power of the tube:

The kids on the primetime hit are not actually members of glee club. They are in a show choir. Their inventive production numbers are an outgrowth of musical theater.

The series may have a misleading title but its cultural dominance has helped spark a new wave of harmonics at high schools and colleges.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Team Sanity: The Right - Far Right Compromise

Andrew Sullivan suggests, in passing, that I should look at the $750 billion in tax increases, that aren't quite at a level of detail to do so, convincingly.

On my numbers, if you rely on dividend income from a U.S. company, you could see an increase in after-tax income. So, I'd like to know how they did their projections of 'savings'.

Finally, a big-ticket item in the defense budget like "reduce procurement by 15%" is a throw away. Tax cuts for the top bracket should be made conditional on achieving these cuts. That way, the 'money interests' have an incentive, not to rip off the government, but to improve its efficiency and vie for good governance, in general, rather than 'regulatory capture'.

A 22% increase in dividends possible, leading to an 8% increase in after-tax dividend income:

Corporate Earnings Chart

$ 100 $ 100

Earnings before taxes

65 75

After taxes at 35% and 25% proposal

26 36

Cash available to payout in dividends

39 39

Cash needed for re-investment

22.1 27 4.9 22% Dividends paid

3.32 6.75 3.4 104% Tax on Divs, at 15%, 25%

$ 18.79 $ 20.25 1.5 8% Income to "wealthy"

*25% is the top proposed bracket, so if you are in a lower bracket, there would be even more of an increase in dividend income.

Axelrod Prepared to Give GOP-Tea Their Brand Back With Both Hands


The man just isn't up for the job. His "strategic think" is off-the-wall in the wrong direction.

You know, it's funny. I was going to question his ability to lean toward "audacity", before this news broke. Despite expert analysis of the moment, they appear to lack a sense of the moment. It's hard to describe. I'm not even talking about grand gestures.

I'm talking about the simply ability of the President to give a speech in Sleepy Hollow that starts a national debate rampage (they should have some experience, even if he did it inadvertently on the mosque). Read some old Greenspan speeches. All you need is an assessment of the facts; a plain, dry judgment; a wry, catchy phrase; and some time to "nurture" it as it grows.

Now, he's sent out a signal that Democrats will be terms takers, not terms makers on tax cuts, despite being in nominal "control" of two branches of government.

No shaping the terms of the debate. No changing the mind or the perceptions of the public. No, "I'm the President, and I'm going to tell you what you need to know, not what you want to hear."

Just, sit in the WH with a bunch of polling data, presumably, and a vague reference to "the world as we find it" and rest on your health care laurels.

When you have an over-extended opponent, like the 2010 GOP-Teapublicans, and a lay-up right in front of you, you don't call a time out and kick the can down the road two years.


President's Commission: "It Is Cruelly Wrong to Make Promises We Can’t Keep"
David Axlerod, model of courage: We can do and say anything, as long as it isn't permanent.

The Real Cap-and-Trade is Disguised As "Comprehensive Tax Reform"

GOP-Tea strategy:

1. Cap state/local property taxes [already done in 43 states...]
2. With liberals, be seen appearing to trade lower tax rates on (unlimited) income with (already capped) tax deductions on property and hope they don't notice the asymmetry
3. Celebrate with Merlot

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thinking Fiscally, On the Right Side of the Brain

Would it surprise anyone to find that draft from the "President's Deficit Commission" does not admit upfront that we have a revenue problem? Nor does it admit anywhere that there is a revenue "alternative solution" to Social Security solvency?

Indeed, there are two major categories, spending cuts/cost containment and, instead of tax hikes, something euphemistically or quixotically or lovingly called "comprehensive tax reform".

Why? Because at least one Party in the nation can't say the words "tax hikes", even despite a long preamble about Patriotic Duty that includes the words "shared sacrifice" and "everything must be on the table".

Consider that part of the proposal is that we move quickly to just three federal tax rates.

Without knowing anything more, doesn't that just sound like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic to you, in the context of trying to solve a problem of great magnitude? I mean, if you had to brainstorm ideas to close a fiscal gap or to drop debt-service ratios, would you immediately blurt out, "let's have just three federal tax rates, that will solve the problem!"?

"Iraq the Model" :: We have a deal


Let's hope that the political, costliest deal-of-the-century, which includes Allawi's group having a speakership, can now also stem the recent tide of violence, some of which must have occurred opportunistically to capitalize on political uncertainty.

They Got Away With It

It perhaps comes as no surprise that the CIA are good at making up cover stories:

After an exhaustive probe that lasted nearly three years, federal prosecutor John Durham concluded that he would not bring a criminal case against the CIA officers. The burning of the 92 tapes on Nov. 9, 2005, was authorized in a cable sent by Jose Rodriguez Jr., head of the agency's directorate of operations.


Three years and yet another under-prosecution from the Bush era.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dear Economists, Why Doesn't the Left Have Economic Urban Legends


We all know the ones from the Right that have gotten insinuated into the public discourse: "Welfare queens", "family farms stolen by the estate tax". In the up-and-coming category, "The Fair Tax".

Where are the Left's?

Is it just Paul Krugman's infuriating intellectual honesty that is the dike?

Is it political donations envy or donation fear?

Why can't we have "Ferrari Mac Daddies"?

Can't you just see Max Baucus say, "We're not running the U.S. economy to spare the Ferrari Mac Daddies!"?

No? Me either. Why?

The New GOP-Tea Extremism: "Commonsense Conservative"


Given that the GOP-Tea people are putting tax cuts ahead of fiscal balance, yet again:

And, after all, it appears that "compassionate conservative" has found its new incarnation as "commonsense conservative", if only because the Party's Tea-people, like Palin, are using it and so are the rest-filled Young Guns.

It's perfectly Orwellian. That's probably why it has traction.

Why, it was just yesterday, that millionaire-from-the-civil-payroll Governor Rick Perry from Texas, was reminding us that the way to rocket America ahead was on the backs of the poor, the disabled, the children (including disabled children, cf. "eliminate the DOE"), the infirm, and the elderly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Philosphy of Cannibus Geist

Alcohol got there first.

Work backward from that, and Dish readers can figure out why Prop 19 didn't pass. It may be that simple to say, but that complex to understand (as to why that matters and why it is meaningful and, perhaps, both rationally and a-rationally defensible)

Commonsense Cowardice

It would come as a surprise to the majority of the military's servicemembers and to a large majority of Americans that the repeal of DADT is "controversial". Civilian and military polls now confirm this. 57 votes in the Senate confirm this.

Yet, we continue to hear 'commonsense wisdom', which really translates more like cowardice, lack of leadership.

One of the most common is "we are at war, now is no time to repeal DADT".

First, the opposite is true.

Leadership conquers confusion, focuses effort. There is nothing like the urgency of mission to bring clarity and focus to the task-at-hand, to separate the critical from the incidental, the urgent from the indulgent. It's precisely at times of intense effort, that clarity on an issue like DADT is plain: you don't care if the medic who just helped evac you is gay, you don't have time to worry about differences, you must focus on task, when the day is long and hot and everyone is depending on you. And, if you fall out of line, there is someone there, with a mission objective in hand, to nudge you back, firmly or otherwise.

Second, perhaps Senator Levin can review all that the military have done in our Afghan and Iraq adventures and explain the "commonsense" that they can't handle repeal of a policy, which is a shrug for the average GI.

Think about just half of what we've done in terms of logistics and projecting power halfway around the world, into hostile, volatile, and harsh areas. It really is incredible what our military has done. No, really, stop and make a list: food, people, equipment, fuel, training, drones, provincial reconstruction teams, solider-ambassadors ...

But, somehow, not expelling gay soldiers is going to bring that amazing machine to its knees or somehow be the task at the margin that it cannot handle.

Don't mistake 'commonsense' objections for the smokescreen cowardice they are.

Scope and Size of Lame Duck Makes Dems Look Amateurish

Can you believe the size and scope of all this?

Senate Democrats Lay Foundation for Party Split in 2012

The yet fully arranged tealeaves are dangling that the Senate Democrats have no stomach for a fight.

They appear to be "conflicted" over the Bush tax cuts, when this issue, as it stands now, actually plays into the hands of their Party and their President, given how the GOP-Teapublicans are so overextended and that overextension is fresh in the minds of voters.

Word today that they are giving up on employment non-discrimination. If they don't fight this fight, then there are people who are going to be looking for a party re-set, just like the teabaggers did.

Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, are in talks on stripping the proposed repeal [of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"] and other controversial provisions from a broader defense bill, leaving the repeal with no legislative vehicle to carry it.

-WSJ online

Senate Democrats better wake up. Cheney will have been right that Obama was a GOP godsend, if they Senate loses the base of the party. That doesn't mean no compromise. But it does mean one can't just walk away from the right fights, and hope that everyone comes around in the better economy of 2012. It ain't gonna work that way. There are sharp pens on the Left...

Thought for the Day

Offhand note to Center for American Progress:

It's not progressive to attack credit unions with new taxes.

How can that be progressive? What am I missing? If nothing, then this just looks like "compromised in advance".

The New GOP-Tea Extremism: Rand Paul's Stomp Continues

From his quiver of far-out ideas, he's brought up the Balanced Budget Amendment, again.

Think of the millions of unemployed we'd have if we had a balanced budget amendment during this past crisis. Can you imagine how the sharks would have had their knives out for U.S. securities, knowing that the "full faith and credit" of the U.S. government was capped, so that we were hiking taxes (or cutting spending) into a vicious cycle of economic contraction? We'd probably have no auto industry in the U.S., except by what is run by the lavishly spending rest-of-world. USA business-cycle-amplifier bonds for sale! Get 'em while they are hot!

What's more, for a group who don't believe in regulation, isn't a Constitutional Amendment the ultimate in "regulation"? One can only think back to 2001, when Robert Rubin and the rest of the brain trust decided that there could be no "rule" for when and by how much to cut taxes, because (as best I recall), his view was that people would just game the rules. Coming from Wall Street, one imagines some authority behind such a view.


The Huffington Post editors did not pick up that Rand Paul assertion that the average income for Federal Employees is $120,000 is inaccurate, more hype and hyperbole than fact, because it's so far off from the truth, which is about a 11% difference in average pay ($7K). Nor does he mention that the Federal government collects taxes at a higher rate on higher salaried employees, even Federal ones.

GOP-Teapubicans: "Hype you can believe in"?

The weekend was full of GOP-tea news.

As for GOP-Tea's Eric Cantor, it appears that the party of "No" has become the party of "we won't tell you, even if you ask". He was not alone.

But he was not the worst - truly, watching the Teapublican idea machine of today would cause even William F. Buckley, Jr. to recoil.

With the GOP-Tea so overextended in promises, the only question remained whether the Democrats would circle the wagons - to shoot at themselves. (So far, a few indications favor it, sadly).

Kossack QOTD: New GOP-Tea slogan: "Mr. Thumb, Meet Mr. Scale."

My favorite, of course, if Bobby Jindal, who has presided over LA "Mankiw moment" (they cut taxes, then faced enormous shortfalls).

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX): Perry said that, when it came to the stimulus, “this was pretty simple for us…We can take care of ourselves.” But he used $2 billion in Build America Bonds for highway improvements and another $182 million for “public improvements.”

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS): “A lot of this is just crazy,” Barbour said of the stimulus. “I’m better off not to get it.” But that didn’t stop him from using $98 million in Build America Bonds for recreational facility improvements.

Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN): “It hasn’t worked,” Daniels said of the stimulus. “You have to be a blind zealot to say that this thing has done any good.” The Indiana Financial Authority issued $192 million in Build America Bonds, while the Indiana Bond Bank issued another $54 million.

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA): Jindal has called the Recovery Act “a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus that has not stimulated.” Louisiana has issued $181 million in Build America Bonds for highway improvements.

American "Family Values" Head Fake

This is what happens when a Nation's security really does depend on making sure you have the best and the brightest and when it is exclusion that disrupts the unit more than inclusion:

In February of that year [1993], things began to change. The Knesset held its first hearing on gays in the military, where Uzi Even, the chairman of Tel Aviv University’s chemistry department, testified that he had been fired from his top secret position in Israel’s nuclear facilities because he was openly living with a man. The fact that he was dismissed after 15 years of service created a national outcry and inspired Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin to rethink the policy. Within three months, then-IDF chief of staff Ehud Barak signed the command banning military discrimination based on sexual orientation into law. [...]

-Wonk Room

The gay "grassroots" should fight in the lame duck.

Outsourcing action to "lobby groups" is a waste. Whenever they sense a losing fight, lobby groups fall silent and "run".

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The New GOP-Tea Extremism: Michelle Bachman, Talk To The Hand

For their own issues, certain envious "homoSEXuals" are eying new technology, designed to make it easier to talk to GOP-Teapublicans.

Hands free. Batteries not included. Any age. Not responsible if Teapublicans violate or change narrative at a moment's notice.

(h/t Slog)

The Week in Review

While Christine O'Donnell provided sport, it was Marco Rubio who was dancing with the stars, with diamonds:

True, some of this might be scaled by the size of the state / media market, but even so Rubio got nearly as much as everyone else combined.

Chart: Angle Buck O'Donnell Rubio Toomey Paul Lee Johnson Miller

Out-of-state (red) and in-state (blue) dollars to GOP-Tea extremists:

via Maddow Blog

The Week in Review

All the real stuff in the country is going down on Oprah.

Some of these stories and the suggestion of their prevalence are heart-rending.

With ruptured trust on this scale, rips in the social fabric, one just has to heap that much more scorn on the cheap moralizing of "Family Values" groups who think the real threats to society are from gay couples.

The Week in Review

Ted Sorensen.

Words and the occasions to use them are so cheap now, in comparison, it seems to have cheapened them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thought for the Day

How could Senate Democrats have the upperhand in the brinkmanship with the GOP over Bush tax cuts? (Not that they are willing, but that's a separate failure in the Party...).

Three words: the estate tax

Of course, one has to bet that this fails:

If their goal is to recapture the Presidency, then the rational course for them is to regard the American economy in the same way that General Sherman regarded the Confederate economy. They should aim at destruction and ruin. The lesson here is not peculiar to the Republicans. In a divided government in which the other party holds the presidency, the American people are functional masochists: they will reward you with office if you beat them. Hard.

Actually, I think the truth of this is the opposite. In a game of brinkmanship, well played, it is always the Chief Executive that wins. He's the one that the people rally around. Sad, but true.

Someone needs to tell the Democratic leadership that, if they don't hang together, they surely will hang separately. Why, Krauthammer is already talking about an "operational majority" in the Senate for the GOP-tea.

Obama and Trade Policy

I don't know what Obama is going to "announce" as part of his Asian trip, in relation to trade.

However, the time is ripe for him to also fulfill his campaign talk about Cuba, subject only to how many things he can do at once. No point waiting on events.

There is a rank ideology that drives the Right on Cuba. If the Democrats have any political skill, they might take the opportunity to crack that nut and, thereby, take another tool out of the hands of the rightwing.

The case for a realistic foreign policy toward Cuba trade in the face of economic necessity is waiting with open lips to be made, perhaps by you, Mr. President.

It's hard for me to read the tealeaves, but I think Florida politics could handle it, right now, too.

(And highlighting with action political leadership differences is not 'scoring political points' - it's making the case to voters why you think you are more fit to govern than the next guy, especially on questions of true import, unlike the Terri Schiavo spectacle).

Minority View


The "bleed them slowly" issue is healthcare, with a dash of 'government waste' investigation, if one believes that the TEA-GOP can get legs on that issue, outside of the courts.

But I would suggest that the Democrats, having the advantage on that, ought to press the issue of immigration reform.

Why? Because, having abjectly politicized the issue, the GOP now have no interest in "solving" a problem that they can use again and again to get people to vote against their economic interests, always their raison d'etre. (Sometimes I don't think Rachel Maddow gets that raison d'etre, thinking that other things really do matter and are not noise...).

So, the GOP is happy to leave the issue unsolved, so they can trot out "dangerous brown people" for as many elections to come as possible.

How should the Democrats do it? Two ways (at least). They should make it into an economic issue, because it is one. This will reinforce the pragmatism of the Democratic party. It's also an Obama strength. They could find a way to make it into a Left-Right issue, both by suggesting that it is fear of new voters, not "principle" or criminals, that drives GOP opposition and perhaps in some other ways, too.

The Strangest Thing - The Limits of Empathetic Understanding

Why is this?

For some reason I have no problem "understanding" how someone born into wealth could nevertheless become a champagne liberal ("I never pretend to be one of the people, just to be for the people").

However, it's hard to "understand" the opposite.

How is it that people can come from hard or humble or "middle" class upbringing, yet become hard right, even ideologically rabid hard right? (I mean, apart from the misled religious hard-right.)

Supreme Court Justice Thomas comes to mind. He included in his life story a reference to his difficult formative years, with "there but for the grace of God go I"; but his ideological judicial opinions/philosophy is so contrary to that, it seems. Alito has a touch of it, in his hyper-rationalized world that seems out of sink with what one might expect given his background. Marco Rubio who embraces Arizona's show-your-papers law as "just" and not some ploy that doesn't solve anything. Boehner, this week, talking about how he worked every odd job he could find on the way up, now adamant about putting a tax-cut for the super-wealthy on the "national ATM" ...

Understanding the Joe-the-Plumber is perhaps easier.

How badly are the Teapublicans overextended?

Why only late-night comedians can see the truth more than millionaire Democratic Senators, I'll never know:

"Republicans won big on election day. They say their two big priorities are cutting taxes and reducing the debt. Which is sort of like wanting to lose weight and win 'Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest.'"

---Jimmy Kimmel

You don't get too many political lay-ups, Mr. President. Don't fail to take the shot.

Now is the time, too, when all the campaign slogans are fresh in people's minds. Now. Yes, now, not kick the can down the road, two years.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The New Teapublican Extremism


Yglesias, dark lord of the liberal mobs, puts up a self-confessing chart of Obama's massive big government takeover:


Add to this the inconvenient truth that the U.S. will not lead the global recovery for the first time in a long time. (Martin Wolf had some good charts, but I'm sure the OECD or IMF's are as good).

China (and Asia) are leading the global recovery, and Europe's growth is faster, even though their downturn was deeper. Yes, autocratic capitalistic China, the people who did well calibrated stimulus with ease and who didn't pass out poorly designed tax cuts because they don't share government with Grover Norquist...

Glenn Beck : The Master of Propaganda


I'm not trying to scare you, but there are people plotting a New World Order, and they don't have to be in the shadows, any longer. They want to do away with capitalism.

Let me mention George Soros, several times, ... randomly ... or maybe not! >:0)

I'm not trying to scare you, but harken - harken - to the real possibility and be prepared.

Seriously, there are books and papers that people write - have you seen them, no you probably haven't heard, but do your homework on the 60s - books that are worse than, worse than, well, I'd say the book of Revelations, but that would be an unwanted overtone, something that wouldn't help the point, so I won't say that.

I won't say how many people are involved or anything. Some people say the probability is high, but you have to do your own research. (Some people, my guest, won't even answer the question of how probable it is that China stops buying Treasury bonds suddenly one Monday, but let me rush on to "panic", anyway)

"The forces are trying to get us to turn on each other." "Until you see the roots of Obama's rage."

"Liberalism is an impulse control disorder".

"What is coming is profound." Darkness or love. It's up to you which direction we go.

"Goodnight, America"

More on Restoring Fiscal Sanity


Andrew Sullivan keeps saying that Obama is the adult in the room, but this (KOS-link) is not a politically savvy "compromise", is it? "Adult" is not the label I would use.

Here's what the President and all the "Democratic Leaders" need to come out and say:

The Republicans are going to tell you what you want to hear, that we can "afford" a tax cut for everyone and you "deserve it".

(Because I'm The President,) I'm not going to tell you what you want to hear, but I'm going to tell you what you need to know.

For every dollar in fraud, waste, and abuse that the Teapublicans find and cut, Senate Democrats (not Obama) should offer to lower the marginal tax rate on the top 2% by just that much, immediately. Nothing more. That's the Andrew Mellon plan, not the "Mankiw Moment" plan.

Now that's a political compromise.

What Jed has written is not a "fair compromise'. In fact, it is a landmine, because, as I've argued, it makes the Democrats complicit in the GOP's inanity.

The GOP are not offering a compromise. They are offering an old fashion hold-up. Why is Jed so ready to accept a compromise position, rather than demand that the GOP offer up a compromise position first? The Democrats must try to make their case. They cannot shy from this fight. It has to be done visibly, publicly, and with full force.

The New Teapublican Extremism


You don't need religion to be a wingnut. Birther is now Majority Leader in Missouri.

If I had to build a subversive, Beckian counter-theme, like the one they built against the Democrats, this would be the foundation: "the new teapublican extremism"

The Education of a President

What's missing in Obama's spirit, these days?

Two words: Ted Kennedy.

I like the fact that Obama is a "philosopher-king" (NYT), but he's missing that senior statesman who has the perspective to say, "now. this. push. win."

Why Democrats MUST fight to restore "sanity" to tax rates


The Democrats, led by Obama, must visibly, publicly, and loudly fight the extension of tax cuts for the top 2% and the Bush-era revisions to estate taxes.

To not do so will make them complicit. They will be complicit in selling out the middle class, complicit in using "the ATM of the next generation".

To become complicit is to basically give the GOP back its mojo, right?


They have to find their voice on long-term fiscal issues, too, and this is a key opportunity to do it, no matter what Geithner, Summers, or Orzag say. They don't need to wait-and-see for a mystery bipartisan group report, that may never arrive.

A strong President can, like Reagan, go over the GOP leadership, appealing directly to people to "Call your new Republican Congressman and tell them you don't want your kids future mortgaged so that the top 2% can have a tax break"
The polling is good enough. A strong President can, like Reagan, go over the GOP leadership, appealing directly to people to "Call your new Republican Congressman and tell them you don't want your kids' future mortgaged so that the top 2% can have a tax break" or people with massive estates should pass them on at Bush-level tax rates.

If the Democrats eventually want to compromise, after they have put up a fight, then let it be the top 1.5%, not the top 2%. But, if they don't fight, they risk complicity in the GOP's inane posture on debt-free tax cuts.


It's not a question of scoring political points, of putting principle needlessly or mindlessly ahead of progress. It IS a question of doing what is right by the country, in the long term. There is no need for that question to be postponed.

It will give the Democrats a chance to remind the public that they already got a tax cut, as part of the stimulus.

The President, perhaps used to a breakneck pace, needs to slow down, pick some battles to win.

This one is a good start, even if it hasn't been teed-up well, for the lame duck.

A quick, backroom compromise is going to make it look like they deliberately put the issue off until after the election, so they didn't have to "come clean" with the base.

Some strange calculation that their election prospects in 2012 will be better by extending everything is misguided. A rebounding economy in 2012 is not guaranteed and the base will remember that they didn't put up a fight. Look at the union-voter returns for 2010 in the heartland. Folks notice when the people who are supposed to have their back in Washington are busy doing other things...

Rachel Maddow Gets It - Clear Problem Identification At Last

Unfortunately, the prescription of what to do is not so clear or easy.

I did try to warn all those who cheered on the way to the end of the mainstream media to be careful what they hoped for, because the noise when it was silenced would be deafening, and the tug-o-war, like going back 100 years.

This goes beyond Manufacturing Consent. This seems like a new, old ball of wax. What would happen if the disinformation machine started in with truly seditious propagation?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

HuffPo Editors Fall Right Into Baited Trap

Here they go with 'McConnell versus Obama'.

This is exactly what the GOP want the "narrative" to be, and now the media are obliging ('cause nothing sells like a grudge-match?). Better headline? "McConnell addresses Heritage Foundation, Fails to Produce Credible Birth Certificate" Mock back, perhaps with the goal that at sometime someone will actually take responsibility for the irresponsible politics of the past two years.

McConnell doesn't need a promotion. He is not a President. He's a Senator. He should be talking to other Senators. He should be pictured with them. Get it? Do you understand why this is critical?

Next up to fall into the trap? I'll bet Gibbs just can't discipline himself...

"Scoring Political Points"

I'm confused about what the President thinks of as 'scoring political points'.

While I agree with Sullivan that he shouldn't become something he isn't, you cannot lead without passion, with just masked firmness.

Someone might nicely remind Obama that, if he has no "points" at the end of the game, not only will he not get elected, but the Democratic Party is going to be seriously damaged.

Ike had hatchet men that did his work for him, people who did the pushing and played 'the heavy'. Bush had Cheney, to some degree. So far, Obama doesn't have his bearings on the whole equation, at least as much as is obvious to a casual observer.

One has to understand, as did Lincoln, the difference between venting, especially in public, and showing visibly that you care and are anchored and will not be pushed around easily, as Reagan did so well.

And FDR and Lyndon Johnson, both great legislators, played "the game" for political points.

Someone might nicely remind Obama that, if he has no "points" at the end of the game, not only will he not get elected, but the Democratic Party is going to be seriously damaged.

Will Republicans Repeal Their Own Amendments to the Health Security First?

How many amendments to the Health Security legislation were Republican? Over 100?


White House

""If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction," - Mitch McConnell, speaking at Heritage today.

The Rise of the Indecent Right

The Right would have you believe the Left is "Godless".

But, frankly, apart from their pious pretenses, the Right are happy to do whatever.

In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.
Bush writes that his reply was "Damn right" ...


Torture is way out of bounds.

The "vengeance" implied in "damn right" and the treatment given to the disturbed travel agent? Same.

Separately, the religious Left still not energized, perhaps, as yet another rightwing "let us question your faith" goes by. I hope Chait keeps watching and watching, until the light goes on one day, there (about the threat of this one-sided "toleration").

O'Reilly Propaganda Watch: Liberal Policies Will Get You Killed


Remember Glen Beck threatening that Obama or liberals or whomever was leading people to "a place of slaughter" (biblical reference, too)?

Well, O'Reilly didn't learn anything from that.

According to his "memo" tonight, some liberals are in a bubble, with policies they believe in that apparently always fail. There may be some nonliberals in a bubble, but it's still called "San Francisco Syndrome", so that minimizes them - there isn't even a name for them - and no need to enumerate them for the listener!

"The bubble world can get people killed and lead to economic devastation."

Throw in an unexplained, unsubstantiated reference to Jimmy Carter and Warren Harding. Did Jimmy Carter get someone killed? Did Warren Harding create "economic devastation"? Were they the only liberals in history? Did Jack Kennedy not get us to the moon?

Indeed, the only thing according to O'Reilly that delineates reality from bubble is the fact that some people have different opinions than you might. Somehow, I think any psychologist would reject that definition of accepting reality. Hence, the question, "Are FOX opinion polls the only reality?"

But, he's played the Beck fear card, with one of the key lynchpins of the mental grip of propaganda: listening to and/or following liberal bubble policies may get you killed.

People who say that secularism has a higher bar, that religious people are the real nuts, need to listen to the propaganda from FOX. What we think of as secular, non-religious discussion is no better at protecting us from the unreasonable than is "religion".

I'm looking at the Media Matters website. They need to reorganize thematically, rigorously. They might consider finding a professor who knows this stuff, who can organize their criticism into the various types of propaganda.

Their service, keeping track, is invaluable.

They also need to find ways to get their message out to people who are "passive" listeners, beyond people who actively go to their website. It's all of our responsibility to expose the propaganda. I'm getting ahead of myself, but the appropriate response is not to remain calm, as Jon Stewart suggests, it's to get animated.

Separately, I don't watch the "Ed Show". But, I heard a snippet, tonight. Ed, I don't care who you trust or don't and whether you think Boehner is an "enemy". You're not my mullah. If his actions make him out to be untrustworthy, show it. If he is petty or mean or mindless or narrow, show it or give examples, because a label of "enemy" is just cheap.

Bernanke - our age of ridiculous?

He's willing (required?) to buy over a trillion dollars - so far - of government debt, but he couldn't come up with $4 billion or so to keep Lehman afloat when JPM made a collateral call.

Team Obama, I'm about to give up

Not an easy job! But, it's past time to take it up a skill level notch.

Apparently, Gibbs today started to talk about what the President would give away in a negotiation on the expiration of Bush's ruinous tax cuts.

The GOP haven't even had to argue or defend their proposal in public, yet the leader of the Democrats is already making concessions in public.

This is so ridiculous, at so many levels, that I'm about ready to give up.

First of all, Obama has a campaign promise on the table. Letting his press secretary violate that during a no-cameras "gaggle" is the kind of communications failure that this White House will not be forgiven a second time around. If Gibbs doesn't have the rhetorical skill to avoid "negotiating in the press" when the cards are stacked, he's got to go.

Second, shouldn't the Senate be running interference for the President, so we can avoid the President-versus-McConnell routine that's only going to play to the GOP's advantage? The list goes on and on, from a communications perspective. It's fine the the President is having the new leadership to the White House, but, more often than not, Senators should talk to Senators and the President should be, well, the President of the United States, not "super Senator from Illinois".

Everyone does not "deserve" a tax cut. So much for shutting down the "ATM of the next generation" - do you think that the middle class isn't going to be asked to pay the check in 2012?

If Obama has a coherent set of reasons to make a concession, he'd better articulate them, fully. If he thinks people are going to "trust him twice" about his campaign promise, he's not understanding how long a memory people have on this.

Teapublicans Eschew Accountability in Government

Seems as though some people are glad that the teapublicans aren't responsible to anyone, being decentralized. There is no one person or thing they are accountable for.

Some appear to think they are well-served as part of the blameless, those, like Palin, who travel in the GOP-financed "iconosphere".

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce recently called on Teapublicans to accept that bribing foreign officials and businessmen is a good idea, when they took aim at the foreign corrupt practices law. I wonder how 'Aqua Buddha' feels about the ethics of that.

Mitch McConnell : Glittering Generalities

"Big government"
"Listen to the people"
"End Bailouts"
"Concern over spending and debt"

So, "where's the beef", Senator?

Like Obama said yesterday, posturing on these glittering generalities might have fooled some of the people some of the time, but it isn't going to fool all of the people all of the time.

We've got your number. The gig is up on this kind of stuff.

Update1: President Bush is out defending TARP (i.e. "bank bailout"), GM bailout will have saved millions of jobs and cost the taxpayer nothing, afterall (Mexico "bailout" was a huge success during Clinton era, also viscerally opposed by GOP).

Update2: Cutting government the way the Tory's have might cost a huge number of federal worker jobs (well into the hundreds of thousands, at a time when the private sector is limping along).

Why the midterms defy analysis

One possible reason: the propaganda from the Right is "working" and one function of propaganda is to separate people from reality. They didn't reason from 'what is really happening or in my interest', they chose instead to vote a "narrative".

How is John Stewart Wrong about FOX?

First, I don't think anyone who watched Rachel Maddow's show last night could say that there is something equivalent on FOX.


The opening of her show was a perfect example of how using slant can actually help the exposition of a point. She would be on shaky ground if her portrayal the two congressman who she held up as non-compromisers, Joe Barton and Steve King, had a voting record of saying one thing but voting for compromises. In other words, if she put too much emphasis on rhetoric than on actions.

She might have had an interview with them, to round out the whole story. She might have looked for disconfirming evidence in the background of these congressman, cases in which they may have contradicted themselves or agreed with more moderate or conciliatory views.

She might have considered other angles, for example, what the pressure might be on these congressman if the Senate and the President agree or whether there really is no 'principled' opposition on any of these issues, just a cynical use of them for political gain. But, even deliberate omission of those angles wouldn't be sufficient to make what was reported plainly propaganda.

In other words, if the case to support her viewpoint was really based on a true distortion of the facts, then let's hear about it. Is there some "there" there, in Barton's "Better Use of Lightbulbs Act" or does his "nay" on the "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007" say it all? Etc.


Otherwise, this is far, far different than say, impugning Obama as a "far left ideologue" with the comments of his father on African socialism, a or a few clipped comments that look similar to those in Maddow's piece, etc., rather than the preponderance of the evidence.

Indeed, continuing to repeat that "Obama is an ideologue" of a higher order than even Bill Clinton, etc., unsupported, without any argumentation or facts, is something different. What is it? Well, it looks like repeating the lie enough until people start to believe it, right? It's tearing down the office of the President. It's tearing down one man as the symbol of the nation. In other words, in propaganda terms, they know exactly what they are doing, right?

One could argue that the Left demonized Bush in the same way, but the war complicated things. A better comparison might be Bush-41, not 43, or Reagan. Whatever you think about the media, no one in the "liberal media" set out to tear down those Presidents quite in that systematic way, that I can think of.

FOX gave Monica Crowley a platform to say words to that effect over and over (also a technique), yesterday, and gave her many others who nodded their heads in agreement or even intimated the same. If fair-and-balanced is giving someone a minute to go on-and-on then quickly whispering, "I disagree with you, and in other news today", that's a form of deliberate distortion, not balance.

In part two, we'll look at John Stewart's observation or question whether it is good for MSNBC to mimic FOX in trying to counter them.