Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last Call

Interesting theory. The reason why Norm Coleman can't quit? Al Franken's best selling book from the Clinton years: Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot.

Democrats Urinate On Themselves At Command

This whole "Democrats refuse to close Gitmo because the Republicans are making scary faces" thing is really, really pissing me off.
The Senate voted 90-6 Wednesday to strip money from emergency-spending legislation to close the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility, a clear concession by Democrats that they lacked the political muscle to shutter the prison.

A Senate committee last week proposed spending $80 million from the $91.3 billion war spending measure to begin the closing process, but Wednesday's vote eliminated that money.

Senate Democrats said they weren't necessarily giving up on closing the facility and moving its 241 detainees elsewhere, even as Republicans argue that it should stay open.

An amendment to the spending bill, which is likely to be similarly approved by the House of Representatives, prevents the Obama administration from releasing any freed detainees into the United States or transferring any of them to prisons in the U.S.

This was a complete failure by Senate Democrats to do the right thing. At this point Obama must now turn around and keep Gitmo open because 90 Senators are too scared of terrorists to put them in prisons inside the US.

They are dumping this off on the President. This one's not Obama's fault, either. You can put the blame for this squarely on the shoulders of Harry Reid. As BooMan says, at this point Reid not only needs to go but that the netroots should in fact actively campaign against him in 2010.

I've been saying for quite some time now that Harry needs to go.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Two thoughts on this, actually.

One, is Newt Gingrich really the most qualified person to make ethical judgments on Nancy Pelosi,

Two, is Steny Hoyer allowed to speak truth to power to the Village like this?
"Republicans are going to stay on it as long as you guys keep printing it, as long as it continues to be a television item – not about the substance, but about the distraction," Hoyer told reporters Wednesday. "As long as you want to feed on it, the Republicans will continue to feed you."
And while I'm glad somebody is pointing this out, they're going to make him pay for that dearly.

The Village doesn't like being called out by politicians.

Default, Cali Style

Some things to keep in mind about California's budget disaster:

California cannot legally declare bankruptcy. No state can under US law. Cities and counties can and have done so before, but a state cannot declare bankruptcy.

A state however can default on loan payments and wreck their credit rating as a state. That means getting state bonds issued to fund spending will be wildly more expensive. We're about to see if California will be the first state to actually default on a bond payment, and what happens to the people, cities, and counties within as a result.

California will want to get billions in loans from Wall Street...but I can't imagine any Wall Street firm wanting to loan California a dime. That means Obama will have to step in and cut a deal with Treasury. With nearly all 50 states running deep in the red, I can't imagine too many Democrats in Congress are going to object ("There but for the grace of God go I" and all). Republicans of course will do everything they can to bury California and blame the Dems.

Obama will get his deal however. There are too many country club Republicans and corporate interests in the state to let California default. It will be ugly however, and there's the little matter of what California is going to give up in order to get the money...perhaps having to come up with a specific plan to get back in the black like the automakers did...or else.

Defaulting on said bonds would almost certainly cause a raft of lawsuits to be filed against the state forcing them to pay. At some point, somebody's going to have to decide who gets paid, California or its creditors.

That will certainly have to go to the Supreme Court.

[UPDATE] Megan McArdle has a point: once Obama bails out California, it's implied that he will bail out every city, county, and state government currently buried in red ink.

Those Who Can Afford The Least Give The Most

When you think of "the poor", most Americans have images that come to mind: the hard-working immigrant family, the inner-city single mother, the panhandler hanging around outside the office building where you work, the old veteran living under the bridge overpass.

Whether your mental image is from "The Wire" or "The Grapes of Wrath" or from personal experience, the word you probably least likely associate with the poorest 20% of Americans is "philanthropy".

Which is a shame, because it turns out the Americans with the least income give more than twice the percentage of their meager incomes as the wealthiest Americans do.
"The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity," said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. "The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give."

Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America's households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.

The figures probably undercount remittances by legal and illegal immigrants to family and friends back home, a multibillion-dollar outlay to which the poor contribute disproportionally.

None of the middle fifths of America's households, in contrast, gave away as much as 3 percent of their incomes.

"As a rule, people who have money don't know people in need," saId Tanya Davis, 40, a laid-off security guard and single mother.
I'm fairly shocked by that personally, but I know my parents regularly give a substantial amount to the local Catholic church and volunteer plenty of time, serving on several committees. They'd fall squarely into that second-highest tier and still give quite a bit.

Then again, the kind of folks earning $200k a year are the folks that work 80-100 hours a week too. Does that make them better people? If you're spending all your time working to earn money you don't have time to enjoy, or you don't have the inclination to give back, you have to wonder.

Money can't buy you happiness.

Followed Up By A Sucker Punch

To accompany today's "CIA as the victim here" leak story in the WaPo, we have WaPo's own columnist Michael Gerson to lead the Village scolding offensive.
Is there any precedent for a speaker of the House of Representatives seeking political shelter by blaming national security professionals? Or for a commander in chief exposing intelligence methods at the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union? Actually, such treatment has precedents. In 1975, the Church Committee nearly destroyed the human intelligence capabilities of the CIA. In the early 1990s, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan urged closing the agency entirely. The Clinton administration imposed massive budget cuts, leaving behind a demoralized institution.

And now Obama has described the post-Sept. 11 period as "a dark and painful chapter in our history." In fact, whatever your view of waterboarding, the response of intelligence professionals following Sept. 11 was impressive. Within days, the CIA had linked up with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and begun preparations to remove the Taliban. The counterterrorism center run of out CIA headquarters was the war on terror in the months after the attacks, making daily progress in capturing high-value targets. Now the president and his party have done much to tarnish those accomplishments. So much for the thanks of a grateful nation.

You know what must have really been demoralizing for the CIA?

Working for Bush and Cheney. Having the President ignore the CIA on 9/11 chatter preceding the attack and saying "Well, you've covered your ass." Having the Joker and the Penguin there twist their hard-earned intel to justify starting a war. Having them torture people to get evidence they knew was false, trapping them in a no-win situation. Having them purge the ranks of those career agents who resisted being the propaganda arm of BushCo instead of America's intelligence defense.

What Obama and the Democrats are doing to the CIA is painful, but necessary. The last remnants of the Bush cancer must be excised. But let's not forget who got the CIA into this untenable situation in the first place, Mr. Gerson.

It wasn't the Democrats.


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