Saturday, September 12, 2009

Last Call

Via Steven D at the Frog Pond, I'd like you to meet Las Vegas pawnbroker and gun salesman Glen Parshall.
Mr Parshall, though, is not just a businessman for whom the recession is a boon. He is also one of the out-riders for libertarians who believe that America under Obama is turning into a socialist state.

I do not exaggerate.

"We've got someone who is an out-and-out Marxist, a total socialist, who is trying to put everything under government control," Mr Parshall told me.

"There's a lot of people that are rising up," he says.

He and other self-described "free-thinkers" make much of Thomas Jefferson's statement: "The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

I asked him whether, given the taking over of America by a socialist, violence against Mr Obama would be legitimate.

"If they don't start conforming to our constitution, we may have to rise up in arms and take our country back," Mr Parshall replied, though he says that would be a last resort if elections did not do the job first.

And there's a hell of lot of people out there who believe exactly like Glen Parshall does, that violence against Obama and the government may be justified.

The really chilling thought is that there are people in this country who think the time for that violence has already come.

Night, folks.

Lehman Brothers: One Year Later

A year has gone by and nothing much has changed on the financial reform front.

The Obama administration has proposed regulatory changes, but even their backers say they face a difficult road in Congress. For now, banks still sell and trade unregulated derivatives, despite their role in last fall’s chaos. Radical changes like pay caps or restrictions on bank size face overwhelming resistance. Even minor changes, like requiring banks to disclose more about the derivatives they own, are far from certain.

Coming on the same weekend as the 11th-hour bailout of the giant insurer American International Group, and the sale of Merrill Lynch, Lehman’s failure was the climax of a cataclysmic weekend in the financial industry. In the days that followed, nearly everyone seemed to agree that Wall Street was due for fundamental change. Its “heads I win, tails I’m bailed out” model could not continue. Its eight-figure paydays would end.

In fact, though, regulators and lawmakers have spent most of the last year trying to save the financial industry, rather than transform it. In the short run, their efforts have succeeded. Citigroup and other wounded banks have avoided bankruptcy, and the economy has sidestepped a depression. But the same investors and economists who predicted, and in some cases profited from, the collapse last fall say the rescue has come at an extraordinary cost. They warn that if the industry’s systemic risks are not addressed, they could cause an even bigger crisis — in years, not decades. Next time, they say, the credit of the United States government may be at risk.

Simon Johnson, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, said that the seeds of another collapse had already sprouted. If major banks are allowed to keep making bets that are ultimately backed by taxpayer guarantees, they will return to the practices that led them to underwrite trillions of dollars in bad loans, Professor Johnson said.

“They will run up big risks, they will fail again, they will hit us for a big check,” he predicted.
It's really telling that despite the overwhelming approval Obama has on reforming the financial system from the American public, Congress refuses to move on legislation to do so, and the President isn't going out of his way to push the issue either.

But I can't say I'm surprised. Not on this subject. The banks still own Washington to the tune of trillions.

Pinstripe Power

Derek Jeter passed Lou Gehrig last night to become the Yanks' all time hit leader.

Collectively, they have 19 All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves, an American League MVP and an AL Championship Series MVP.

But that didn't stop Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte from marveling at Derek Jeter's accomplishment any less.

The three were among the roughly 30 Yankees who cleared the dugout on Friday to trot out to first base after Jeter's third-inning single moved him past Lou Gehrig for sole possession of the franchise all-time hits record, at 2,722. The captain added a hit in the fourth inning to push what promises to be an ever-expanding record to 2,723.

"We've been playing so well lately, so we felt we could all really enjoy [Jeter's] moment," said Rodriguez, who led the group of players onto the field in what he deemed a spontaneous but well-deserved tribute.

"It's really all about [Jeter]," he said. "I think every player was more about his [record-setting] hit than anything else the last few days, which has been great."

It was a fitting tribute, as the already rain-delayed game stopped for three minutes following the record-breaking single, allowing some of the longtime Yankees to feel the magnitude of the moment.

"You knew he was special, you knew he carried himself a little bit different than a lot of other guys," said Friday's starter, Andy Pettitte, of the first time he saw Jeter in Greensboro, N.C., in 1992. "You knew really early that he was a great player, but not only was he a great player, he took it to another level in big situations and in great moments that could be made."

And Friday's moment was among the best, a fact that even a notoriously team-first player such as Jeter couldn't ignore. After reaching first, Jeter was greeted with a line of hugs from his teammates before doffing his helmet twice to the rousing home crowd of 46,771.

Even as jaded as I am over sports and the Yanks in particular, to see something New Yorkers can be damn proud of happening on September 11th is nice to see, period.

Overestimating The Opposition

I'm not sure which looks worse, House Dems clearly pissing themselves worrying about 2 million birthers showing up, or the fact that only tens of thousands of them actually did.
A sea of protesters filled the west lawn of the Capitol and spilled onto the National Mall on Saturday in the largest rally against President Obama since he took office, a culmination of a summer-long season of protests that began with an opposition to health care and grew into a broader dissatisfaction with government.

On a cloudy and cool day, the demonstrators came from all corners of the country, waving American flags and handwritten signs explaining the root of their frustrations. Their anger stretched well beyond the health care legislation moving through Congress, with shouts of support for gun rights, lower taxes and a smaller government.

But as they sang verse after verse of patriotic hymns like “God Bless America,” sharp words of profane and political criticism were aimed at Mr. Obama and Congress.

Dick Armey, a former House Republican leader whose group Freedomworks helped organized the protest, stood before the crowd and led the rallying cries in nearly the same spot where Mr. Obama took his oath of office eight months ago.

“He pledged a commitment of fidelity to the United States Constitution,” Mr. Armey said, suggesting that Mr. Obama was in violation of what the founding fathers intended the size and scope of the government to be.

“Liar! Liar! Liar! Liar!” the crowd shouted back.

The crowd numbered well into the tens of thousands, though police declined to provide an estimate of the size of the crowd. Many of the participants simply came on their own and were not part of an organization or group. But the size of the rally took the authorities by surprise, with throngs of people streaming from the White House to Capitol Hill for more than three hours.

Whee, fun for all this morning. My favorite quote:
I want Congress to be afraid,” said Keldon Clapp, 45, an unemployed marketing representative who recently moved to Tennessee from Connecticut after losing his job. “Like everyone else here, I want them to know that we’re watching what they’re doing. And they do work for us.”
That abyss keeps staring back, folks.

[UPDATE 3:20 PM] Malkinvania claims the crowd really is two million. This is getting funny. Since when does anybody on that side of the line deal in reality, anyway?

[UPDATE 3:25 PM] Stay classy, Wingnuttia.



[UPDATE 3:30 PM] Why are the GOP astroturf groups behind this lovely little display trying to pass it off as a bi-partisan event, and why is the Village playing along?
This is not people upset over one particular politician or one particular party," Williams has said. "In fact, if you ask the Republicans in the crowd, you'll find they are just as upset at their party as they are at the Democrats." Members of conservative groups such as FreedomWorks, run by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Campaign Liberty and the Institute for Liberty also were expected to participate in Saturday's rally.
Oh I see. Congress hasn't impeached the Kenyan usurper yet. Nice.

[UPDATE 7:30 PM] Still no reliable numbers on how many people have showed up, but as Think Progress reports, the racist, birther freaks were out in force.

Proxy Fight

Joe "You Lie!" Wilson has raised a very impressive $750,000 in campaign contributions since Wednesday night, but his Democratic opponent Rob Miller has raised an even more impressive $1 million in 48 hours.
To put this fund-raising haul in perspective, Wilson, by early next week, could equal the total amount of money he raised in the entire two-year-election cycle of 2008, when he raised a little more than $1.1 million.

Miller, by contrast, raised just $390,000 in donations for the entire 2008 cycle and lent himself another $235,000 of his own money, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission. So he's already doubled, in just two days, his total donations over a two-year period.

The controversy will definitely go on through the weekend, as Wilson -- a quiet backbench lawmaker who's never been in the national spotlight -- is scheduled to appear on the Sunday morning news show "Fox News Sunday." If he continues to refuse to make a public apology on the House floor, Democrats plan to offer a resolution admonishing his comments to Obama.

After liberal Internet activists turned Miller into a cause celebre in their effort to extract revenge on Wilson, conservatives joined the fray. Wilson, who hired GOP web strategist David All, now has ads running on conservative-leaning web sites such as the Drudge Report.

However as Mark Silva points out, Wilson may have gotten onto the national map and certainly upped his cred among the base and he's certainly won the publicity battle...but may end up losing the war in 2010.
Wilson and Miller are virtually tied in a new survey run by Public Policy Polling - 44-43 - in the aftermath of the shout-out. Nearly two-thirds of voters in Wilson's district say they disapproved of Wilson's action.

"In a matter of seconds Joe Wilson turned himself from a safe incumbent into one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country for 2010," said Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling.

Joe Wilson picked this fight, folks. Now he's definitely going to get one. We'll see how long this momentum lasts for both Joe Miller and Rob Wilson, but they now have a couple million between the two of them in just a few days to wage that war with. A few more outbursts like this and the Dems may not be as doomed as everyone thinks they are next year.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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