Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Last Call

Add Oklahoma to the list of states where GOP lawmakers are pushing "sovereignty resolutions" and other WE HATE THE GUBMENT crap.

Last month, when teabaggers were rampant and the Governor of Texas was threatening to secede, we brought you the story of a movement--with roots in right wing separatism--making its way through conservative states.

That movement has resulted in the Georgia Senate, the South Dakota House, and both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature passing resolutions affirming their sovereignty and affirming their belief that the federal government stands in violation of the Constitution. The Georgia resolution in particular held that if the U.S. Congress were to pass, say, an assault-weapons ban, then "all powers previously delegated to the United States of America by the Constitution for the United States shall revert to the several States individually." In other words, in the eyes of the Georgia legislature, the union would cease to exist!

The Oklahoma resolution is significantly milder, but the state's governor Brad Henry vetoed it anyway. That's not stopping the legislature, though, which is set to override the veto and put Washington on notice.

This doesn't really change anything in a legal sense, but it's interesting inasmuch as it tells us whom Oklahoma's elected officials take their cues from.

By all means. Pull the trigger on one of these resolutions. Sign it into law. Get on the floor of your statehouses and say "We want to secede from this union." If you hate Barack Obama and the Democrats that much that you are passing resolutions declaring all Federal rules and regs not strictly in the Constitution null and void, then leave already. Be real men and women. Withdraw from the United States. Govern yourselves. Join with other like minded states and go your own way.

Otherwise, what you are doing now is useless posturing and worthless chest-beating from a group of cowardly idiots. Put your state where your words are, gentlemen. Return all Federal dollars. Close your borders. Print your own currency. Govern yourselves.

Go. Secede.

Otherwise, stop whining.

I mean honestly, these are people who cannot stand the idea of a black President to the point they would actually legislate not recognizing the government he heads.

That is true Obama Derangement Syndrome to the point where it is endangering the public good. These people are clinically insane. None of Bush's dictatorial power grabs were willing to cause you to try to declare the Federal government illegal. You loved it. You embraced the fascism. But a black man in the White House? You are reduced to the arguments of Jefferson Davis and John Calhoun overnight.

Get thee hence.

Epic Relative Bigotry Fail

When you come off as more of a bigot than Jeff Sessions, you are full of fail.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Wednesday he could consider a gay nominee for the nation’s highest court.

“I’m not inclined to think that’s an automatic disqualification,” Sessions said of a gay nominee. He said he intends to consider only the nominee’s legal judgment when deciding his support for Justice David Souter’s proposed replacement.

“I may disagree with some legal opinion on those issues, but I think fundamentally it will be up to the president to submit somebody who would unite the country and would be a clear statement of a mainstream judge who commits himself to the law,” said Sessions, who will have a key role in any confirmation debate.

Gay-rights groups have voiced hope that Obama will select the first openly gay Supreme Court nominee, and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund has offered two suggestions: Kathleen Sullivan, a former Stanford Law School dean, and Pam Karlan, another Stanford professor.

But conservative leaders have warned the nomination of a gay or lesbian justice could complicate Obama’s effort to confirm a replacement for Souter, and another Republican senator on Wednesday warned a gay nominee would be too polarizing.

“I know the administration is being pushed, but I think it would be a bridge too far right now,” said GOP Chief Deputy Whip John Thune. “It seems to me this first pick is going to be a kind of important one, and my hope is that he'll play it a little more down the middle. A lot of people would react very negatively.

Understand that this guy just played the bigot card that Jeff Sessions would not touch.

And the GOP wonders why it keeps losing.


The Marriage Maine Stream

Maine becomes the fifth state to allow gay marriage.
Maine's Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill into law allowing same-sex marriage in his state. Maine becomes the fifth state to do so. The other four: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont.

"In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions," Baldacci said in a statement. "I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage."

There is serious legislative activity to approve gay marriage in DC (where last night the city council voted to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere), New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York.

Also, in California, there’s a state Supreme Court challenge to Prop. 8.

As we wrote this morning, it's example #457 that we’re long removed from 2004.

And as more younger Americans continue to become involved politically, we're seeing more and more change towards equality. To me it's always been "Why go out of your way to outlaw it out of spite and hatred?"

Marry someone you love. Seems simple to me. When I was born, there were still states where my biological parents would not have been allowed to marry. That's stunning to me.

Go Maine.

Crunchy Numbers

D-Day does the math on Bank of America.
It really has been comical to see the leaks of the stress tests trickle out, first with full confidence in the strength of the banks, then less, then less, and now a situation where Bank of America needs $34 billion dollars. Their total market capitalization right now is only $70 billion. The word "insolvent" comes to mind.
The government has told Bank of America it needs $33.9 billion in capital to withstand any worsening of the economic downturn, according to an executive at the bank.

If the bank is unable to raise the capital cushion by selling assets or stock, it would have to rely on the government, which has provided $45 billion in capital through the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

It could satisfy regulators’ demands simply by converting non-voting preferred shares it gave the government in return for the capital, into common stock.

But that would make the government one of the bank’s largest shareholders.
The company has certain assets they could sell, if anyone's in the market for a bank right now. But the most likely scenario makes the US government a near-controlling interest in Bank of America. Citigroup, which already has converted government preferred shares to common stock, needs an additional $10 billion or so, according to this report. It's not all that reassuring to hear BofA spokesmen claim that they'll be able to make $30 billion a year in income once the recession clears, which I think is more than Exxon.
In other words, BoA is worth $70 billion. It already owes $45 billion in taxpayer TARP funds. It needs $34 more billion from somewhere to continue to operate. Last time I checked, that means Bank of America owes $9 billion more than the entire company is worth.

This makes the largest bank in America basically insolvent right now...and yet the bank's stock is actually up over 10% right now, giving it an extra $7 billion on its market cap. People see a bank that is insolvent as a buying opportunity. After all, it can't fail. The government will throw money at it until the end of time. You can't lose, and everyone else is buying because they know they can't lose, and the stock price magically goes up.

This is now the basis of our economy. The Yahoo Tech Ticker guys explain the shell game.
If this all sounds like something out of Superman's Bizarro world, is! But wait, there's more.

Since the capital BofA needs is less than the government's pledge, the bank would be left with an $11 billion "surplus" that it would seek to use to pay back its TARP loans, Alphin tells The Times.

So in sum, in all makes perfect sense: the government will use the TARP to help the bank repay its TARP loans. Peter, meet Paul. Paul, meet Peter.

But it's nothing but good news for an insolvent bank.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Indiana Republican Mike Pence.

This man makes laws for 300,000,000 Americans.

I weep for our country.

Missing The Forest For The Mustard Plants

Wingers are just dumb.
MSNBC, Obama's favorite network, reported on Obama's trip with Joe Biden to get a burger. Just two wild and crazy guys out for some red meat. Andrea Mitchell (does she have nothing else to do?) reported that Obama ordered a burger and mustard. Sounds like it had that "real guy kind of quality."

Mitchell even noted that Obama left a $5 tip in the tip jar. But she didn't mention one arugula-like fact, and you couldn't hear it on the MSNBC video because Andrea and her correspondent Kelly O'Donnel (they needed two people to cover this story) were talking so much.

NBC's regular news reported Obama's order as follows: ""I'm going to have a basic cheddar cheese burger, medium well, with mustard," Obama said. "Do you have spicy mustard? I'll take that."

Actually, the quote was "you got a spicy mustard or something like that, or a Dijon mustard, something like that" (at 0.55 of the unedited video below without Mitchell's talkover).

Obama ordered his burger with DIJON MUSTARD! Bet he had to seek John Kerry's counsel on that.
This blogger, William A. Jacobson, has a law degree. He is a tenured law professor. He is blogging about Obama wanting dijon mustard on his hamburger, and how MSNBC is trying to cover up this fact as some sort of proof that the media is in the tank for him, and this is a scandal of some sort. He feels the need to do this as a service to the country by mocking the President's choice of burger condiments as unacceptably metrosexually elitist or something.

Wingers. Are. Stupid.

Also, Zandardad likes dijon mustard too.

The Worst Kept Secret In The Universe

Israel's nuclear weapon arsenal is arguably the worst kept secret in the world. There seems little logical point to continue to pretend you don't have them after forty years. The Israeli Lobby is screaming bloody murder anyway, because the Obama administration wants Israel to admit is has nukes and wants it to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
President Obama's efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel's nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current U.S. and Israeli officials and nuclear specialists say.

The issue will likely come to a head when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mr. Obama on May 18 in Washington. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to seek assurances from Mr. Obama that he will uphold the U.S. commitment and will not trade Israeli nuclear concessions for Iranian ones.

Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, speaking Tuesday at a U.N. meeting on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), said Israel should join the treaty, which would require Israel to declare and relinquish its nuclear arsenal.

"Universal adherence to the NPT itself, including by India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea, ... remains a fundamental objective of the United States," Ms. Gottemoeller told the meeting, according to Reuters.

Which makes sense to me. However, Israel and its supporters see this as akin to the most foul betrayal imaginable by Obama, and are readily making it known that this will never, never happen.

Mr. Netanyahu, whose meeting with Mr. Obama on May 18 will be the first since both took office, raised the issue of the nuclear understanding during a previous tenure as prime minister.

Israeli journalists and officials said Mr. Netanyahu asked for a reaffirmation and clarification of the Nixon-Meir understanding in 1998 at Wye River, where the U.S. mediated an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu wanted a personal commitment from President Clinton because of concerns about a treaty that Mr. Clinton supported to bar production of fissile materials that can be used to make weapons. Israel was worried that the treaty would apply to de facto nuclear states, including Israel, and might oblige it to allow inspections of Dimona.

In 2000, Israeli journalist Aluf Benn disclosed that Mr. Clinton at Wye River promised Mr. Netanyahu that "Israels nuclear capability will be preserved." Mr. Benn described as testy an exchange of letters between the two leaders over the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. He said Mr. Netanyahu wrote Mr. Clinton: "We will never sign the treaty, and do not delude yourselves - no pressure will help. We will not sign the treaty because we will not commit suicide."

The Bush administration largely dropped the treaty in its first term and reopened negotiations in its second term with a proposal that did not include verification.

It will be interesting nonetheless. But at every turn Israel has won every concession it has demanded from the US, despite strong language from the Obama White House. Israel certainly has every right to exist as a sovereign country and to defend itself. But let's be honest...the country has nukes and refuses to admit them, just as it accuses Iran of doing.

Don't Crap Where You Eat, Arlen

If Arlen Specter's going to act like a Republican, root for Republicans, and vote like a Republican in the Senate, then his new Democratic Party buddies are going to treat him like a Republican.
The Senate dealt a blow tonight to Sen. Arlen Specter's hold on seniority in several key committees, a week after the Pennsylvanian's party switch placed Democrats on the precipice of a 60-seat majority.

In a unanimous voice vote, the Senate approved a resolution that added Specter to the Democratic side of the dais on the five committees on which he serves, an expected move that gives Democrats larger margins on key panels such as Judiciary and Appropriations.

But Democrats placed Specter in one of the two most junior slots on each of the five committees for the remainder of this Congress, which goes through December 2010. Democrats have suggested that they will consider revisiting Specter's seniority claim at the committee level only after the midterm elections next year.

"This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said tonight.

Specter's office declined to comment.
Nor would I expect them to have anything to say other than "Well damn, we certainly screwed up, didn't we?" Specter managed to piss off the entire Senate Democratic Caucus in the space of a week. Not even Joe F'ckin Lieberman managed to gather up that much hate.


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