Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last Call

In a sign of the times, Blockbuster Video is closing nearly a quarter of its stores by the end of 2010.
The store closures disclosed in documents filed Tuesday show that Blockbuster is having to cut much deeper than it anticipated to save money and keep its lenders happy.

Blockbuster now expects to close between 810 and 960 of its U.S. stores through 2010, up from the 380 to 425 stores that normally would be closed. If Blockbuster hits the high end of the new target for store closures, it will represent 22 percent of its 4,356 U.S. stores.

The Dallas-based company has closed 276 stores so far this year.
Netflix is killing them, period, just as ten years ago Blockbuster's business model and buying power was putting the locally owned video store out of business.

The Pretty Hate Machine Fails At Math

Eric Bohlert runs down the timeline on the 1.9 Million Invisible Teabaggers lie, and pins it on Malkinvania.
For most sane observers, what transpired over the weekend resembled a comical bout of telephone tag -- the game schoolchildren play when they whisper something into a friend's ear and then get a big laugh when, six or seven friends later, they hear how distorted the original message has become via garbled repetition. (Two million protesters!) The sad part is that right-wing bloggers are serious. They think they're engaging in some bold new era of citizen journalism. Instead, they just, you know, make stuff up.

It's just the latest example in a string of unforgettable whoppers from online conservatives who rarely let the facts get in the way of a good story. And, yes, irony abounds in that right-wing bloggers hate the press and that they hate the practice of journalism. They lecture reporters about accountability and fairness all the time, yet whenever amateur conservatives try their hand at reporting, they just produce guffaws for the rest of us. (Did I mention they miscalculated the size of the crowd by 1,930,000 people?)

On Saturday, facts didn't matter because right-wing ringleader Malkin was helping to spread a sprawling (and illogical) lie, and her dutiful followers knew just what to do: spread it hard and fast. Perhaps Malkin's only regret was she didn't aim higher; she could have claimed there were news reports of 12 million people protesting in D.C., and I'm sure every one of her willingly gullible devotees would have linked to her.

The amusing part of the weekend's blind-leading-the-blind charade was that Malkin already has a very long and detailed history of manufacturing phony stories that later leave nasty stains all over the blogosphere when they turn out to be turds. (Paging Jamil Hussein.) And that's what I think was so revealing about the 2 million-people-in-D.C. fiasco: Nobody within the right-wing blogosphere seems to be the slightest bit upset, let alone embarrassed or chastened, for having been part of a farcical, inept attempt to inflate the size of Saturday's rally by 1,930,000 people. Nobody seems to think it reflects poorly on them as a community, or that it will damage their collective reputation.

They really are shameless. And they really do inhabit their own parallel political universe where everyone's allergic to facts.

It deserves to be said again: they run on lies, they always have, and they always will.

The Fat And The Cat

Dubya on the Democrats that were vying for his job in 2008:
He always believed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. “Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk,” he once said (except he didn’t say “keister”). He didn’t think much of Barack Obama. After one of Obama’s blistering speeches against the administration, the president had a very human reaction: He was ticked off. He came in one day to rehearse a speech, fuming. “This is a dangerous world,” he said for no apparent reason, “and this cat isn’t remotely qualified to handle it. This guy has no clue, I promise you.” He wound himself up even more. “You think I wasn’t qualified?” he said to no one in particular. “I was qualified.”
Yeah, that's right. Chuckles there thought Obama wasn't qualified. Not as qualified as, you know, he was. (Also, Hillary has junk in her trunk.)

Zandar's Thought Of The Day


We'll Just Get America To Do It

Former J-Post editor Bret Stephens writes in today's WSJ that if Obama keeps up this silly diplomacy crap with Iran instead of bombing the place like a good little Israeli client state that Israel's simply going to have no choice but to bomb Iran and start a war anyway, and it will of course be all Obama's fault. (emphasis mine)
All this only helps persuade Israel's skittish leadership that when President Obama calls a nuclear-armed Iran "unacceptable," he means it approximately in the same way a parent does when fecklessly reprimanding his misbehaving teenager. That impression is strengthened by Mr. Obama's decision to drop Iran from the agenda when he chairs a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 24; by Defense Secretary Robert Gates publicly opposing military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities; and by Russia's announcement that it will not support any further sanctions on Iran.

In sum, the conclusion among Israelis is that the Obama administration won't lift a finger to stop Iran, much less will the "international community." So Israel has pursued a different strategy, in effect seeking to goad the U.S. into stopping, or at least delaying, an Israeli attack by imposing stiff sanctions and perhaps even launching military strikes of its own.

Thus, unlike Israel's air strike against Iraq's reactor in 1981 or Syria's in 2007, both of which were planned in the utmost secrecy, the Israelis have gone out of their way to advertise their fears, purposes and capabilities. They have sent warships through the Suez Canal in broad daylight and conducted widely publicized air-combat exercises at long range. They have also been unusually forthcoming in their briefings with reporters, expressing confidence at every turn that Israel can get the job done.

The problem, however, is that the administration isn't taking the bait, and one has to wonder why. Perhaps it thinks its diplomacy will work, or that it has the luxury of time, or that it can talk the Israelis out of attacking. Alternatively, it might actually want Israel to attack without inviting the perception that it has colluded with it. Or maybe it isn't really paying attention.

But Israel is paying attention. And the longer the U.S. delays playing hardball with Iran, the sooner Israel is likely to strike. A report published today by the Bipartisan Policy Center, and signed by Democrat Chuck Robb, Republican Dan Coats, and retired Gen. Charles Ward, notes that by next year Iran will "be able to produce a weapon's worth of highly enriched uranium . . . in less than two months." No less critical in determining Israel's timetable is the anticipated delivery to Iran of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft batteries: Israel will almost certainly strike before those deliveries are made, no matter whether an Iranian bomb is two months or two years away.

So if I'm getting this straight, Israel is not only running our foreign policy and supposed to be running our foreign policy, but Stephens here is openly wondering why the Obama administration hasn't yet accepted the fact that Israel should be running our foreign policy, and if Obama will not acquiesce to this stated fact and do what Israel wants, Israel will then proceed to play our foreign policy hand in Iran for us and then will expect us to deal with the consequences.

Now I ask you, does that sound even remotely right to you? Here's his finisher:

But most importantly, it is an abdication of a superpower's responsibility to outsource matters of war and peace to another state, however closely allied. President Obama has now ceded the driver's seat on Iran policy to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He would do better to take the wheel again, keeping in mind that Iran is beyond the reach of his eloquence, and keeping in mind, too, that very useful Roman adage, Si vis pacem, para bellum.
Since we're soon going to be at war anyway, Stephens argues, we might as well do it on America's terms and not Israel's...only that the terms for America that Stephens describes are the terms Israel has wanted all along, a U.S. war with Iraq.

Funny how that works out.

D-Day On The Baucus Plan

And now we arrive at the choice: No health care reform at all, or a health care reform plan so horrible that it will make you wish there was no health care reform at all.
So Max Baucus will reveal his long-awaited wet kiss of a bill tomorrow, with subsequent votes in committee in the coming week. We've already seen an outline of it, so we know that it would still cripple people financially who have the temerity to get sick, it would criminalize people who do not buy inadequate private coverage from the insurance industry, it would incentivize employers to offer crappy coverage and discriminate in hiring against people who have no coverage from a family member, and it would not include a public insurance option to compete with private plans. It won't even include a trigger, because the original trigger backer, Olympia Snowe, has decreed that it's a dead letter. Those weak state-based co-ops designed to allow nonprofits like Blue Cross, some of which control 90% of the insurance market, to access billions in government seed money, will be as close as we get in the Finance Committee to a public option. Seemingly, the only reason for the death of the trigger is that Susan Collins said they might lead to a (horrors!) public option, and Snowe probably wants her along as cover for a final bill.

You can pretty much tell what a steaming pile of garbage the Baucus bill would be by the fact that the drugmakers are going all in to support it.
And that's all you really need to know. Everybody's lining up behind the Baucus plan, the White House, Congressional Dems, and the drugmakers and health care industry. They know it's a massive gift to the industry, one that politically will annihilate the Democrats, but something the Republicans will never seek to overturn despite all the protestations they are throwing in front of it.

It's a disaster, and we're walking right into it.

The M3 Menace

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is warning that America's M3 number, the broadest gauge of the amount of actual money and credit in the economy, is currently showing the largest contraction since the Great Depression.
Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research said US bank loans have fallen at an annual pace of almost 14pc in the three months to August (from $7,147bn to $6,886bn).

"There has been nothing like this in the USA since the 1930s," he said. "The rapid destruction of money balances is madness."

The M3 "broad" money supply, watched as an early warning signal for the economy a year or so later, has been falling at a 5pc annual rate.

Similar concerns have been raised by David Rosenberg, chief strategist at Gluskin Sheff, who said that over the four weeks up to August 24, bank credit shrank at an "epic" 9pc annual pace, the M2 money supply shrank at 12.2pc and M1 shrank at 6.5pc.

"For the first time in the post-WW2 [Second World War] era, we have deflation in credit, wages and rents and, from our lens, this is a toxic brew," he said.

In other words, banks aren't lending. They are in fact hoarding cash, and by doing so and failing to counteract the massive deflationary pressures of the twin residential and commercial real estate market crashes, they are setting up a secondary "double-dip" recession.

In fact, right now the bank hoarding of cash has gotten so bad it has more than counteracted the stimulus package in the last month, leading to these staggering annual contraction rate numbers.

Our economy is freezing up again like it did this time last year, only it's happening at an even faster pace. Yves Smith at nakedcap has more:

Note that the “reducing loans” takes place not only via tougher lending standards, but also pricing. Look at how banks have jacked up rates on credit cards. Now admittedly, many consumers are trying to cut back, but now it is becoming too costly not to.

William White, of the BIS, one of first to warn of the dangers of leverage, today said that he saw a strong recovery as particularly unlikely. But the true believers are not deterred.

Go go happy face financial media! Clap harder and you too can save the economy...

[UPDATE 11:45 AM] Helicopter Ben says the recession is over.

Sure it is, we've got to clear the decks for the next recession, you see.

Republicans, Give Dem An Inch, Dey Swim All Over Ya

Hey look, Max Baucus's brand new compromise health care plan is 100% unacceptable to Senate Finance Committee Republicans!
A summary of the senators’ views, prepared by the Finance Committee, says Mr. Enzi believes that the federal government should pay “100 percent of the cost of the Medicaid expansion, in order to avoid an unfunded mandate” for states, which ordinarily share Medicaid costs with the federal government.

Mr. Enzi and Mr. Grassley have also objected to the fees that Mr. Baucus wants to impose on health insurance companies, clinical laboratories and manufacturers of medical devices. Such fees would help finance coverage of the uninsured.

Mr. Enzi and Mr. Grassley also told Mr. Baucus that health legislation must include language affirmatively prohibiting the use of federal money to pay for abortion. The restriction, they said, should apply to any subsidies that help low-income people buy insurance. In addition, they said, health plans should not be obliged to provide abortion. Thus, they said, the bill should “include a conscience clause to protect entities from being required to contract with abortion providers.”

By contrast, a Democrat participating in the negotiations, Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, told colleagues that the legislation should “remain silent” on abortion, according to the committee documents.

Mr. Baucus and other senators agree that illegal immigrants should not benefit from the health care overhaul in any way. Mr. Enzi and Mr. Grassley want a five-year waiting period for legal immigrants to receive tax credits, or subsidies, to help them buy insurance.
They want more. And when Baucus caves and gives it to them, they will want even more. The plan here of course is to get Baucus to cave so much that the plan becomes a disaster for the Democrats, either not passing at all or worse, passing as the disastrous Republican health care plan that mandates Americans buy private health insurance or pay thousands in penalties.

Anything Max Baucus comes up with won't meet with Republican approval, so why is he caving in the first place?

Yet Another Stellar Reason We Need Health Care Reform

As HuffPo's Ryan Grim reports, health insurance companies will use anything to justify charging people higher premiums, including domestic violence, and Republicans are too busy doing backflips to justify the insurance companies being able to do this.
It turns out that in eight states, plus the District of Columbia, getting beaten up by your spouse is a pre-existing condition.

Under the cold logic of the insurance industry, it makes perfect sense: If you are in a marriage with someone who has beaten you in the past, you're more likely to get beaten again than the average person and are therefore more expensive to insure.

In human terms, it's a second punishment for a victim of domestic violence.

In 2006, Democrats tried to end the practice. An amendment introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), now a member of leadership, split the Health Education Labor & Pensions Committee 10-10. The tie meant that the measure failed.

All ten no votes were Republicans, including Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), a member of the "Gang of Six" on the Finance Committee who are hashing out a bipartisan bill. A spokesman for Enzi didn't immediately return a call from Huffington Post.

At the time, Enzi defended his vote by saying that such regulations could increase the price of insurance and make it out of reach for more people. "If you have no insurance, it doesn't matter what services are mandated by the state," he said, according to a CQ Today item from March 15th, 2006.

Besides the obviously horrible reasoning for making battered women pay more for insurance (I mean honestly, how much of an asshole do you have to be to work in the insurance industry?) the fact that Sen. Mike Enzi that's doing everything he can to kill an affordable public option is the same exact Mike Enzi that justified this odious practice because he was worried about private insurance becoming unaffordable is just peachy.

How nice.

Good Night, Irene

Can we finally put the Phantom One Point Nine Million Additional Teabaggers to rest now?
In the competitive world of Washington protests, crowd size is often a matter of dispute. Organizers usually boast of huge crowds, while police and the news media offer much smaller estimates.

So supporters of Saturday’s “tea party” protests against President Barack Obama were quick to highlight their big turnout. To bolster countless claims on blogs and Facebook, many posted a photograph that showed a gargantuan crowd sprawling from Capitol Hill down the National Mall to the Washington Monument.

But it turns out the photo is more than 10 years old, apparently taken during a 1997 Promise Keepers rally.

Bunch of lying chumpass chumpity chump chumps, the Wingers are. Imagine that, making crap up wholesale.

We asked Piringer whether there were enough protesters to fill the National Mall, as depicted in the photograph.

“It was an impressive crowd,” he said. But after marching down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, the crowd “only filled the Capitol grounds, maybe up to Third Street,” he said.

Yet the photograph so widely posted showed the crowd sprawling all the way to the Washington Monument, which is bordered by 15th and and 17th Streets.

There’s another problem with the photograph: It doesn’t include the National Museum of the American Indian, a building located at the corner of Fourth Street and Independence Avenue that opened on Sept. 14, 2004. (Looking at the photograph, the building should be in the upper right hand corner of the National Mall, next to the Air and Space Museum.) That means the picture was taken before the museum opened exactly five years ago. So clearly the photo doesn’t show the “tea party” crowd from the Sept. 12 protest.

Also worth noting are the cranes in front of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. According to Randall Kremer, the museum’s director of public affairs, “The last time cranes were in front was in the 1990s when the IMAX theater was being built.”

It appears that the photo was actually taken in 1997 at a rally for Promise Keepers, a group for Christian men. According to the group’s Web site, nearly 1 million people attended the event. Photos of the Oct. 4, 1997, event that were posted on various Web sites in 2003, 2008 and earlier this year show either the same picture or a similar photo that has identical tents and what appear to be TV screens in the same locations.

Conservative bloggers who originally posted the picture have backed down.

I wonder why? Is it because it makes them look more like complete douchebags more than they normally do? And the irony here is for once the mainstream Village media was 100% correct and nobody believed them.
Just 29 percent of the 1,506 adults surveyed by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press between July 22-26 said news organizations generally get the facts straight.

Sixty-three percent said news stories are often inaccurate, up from 34 percent in a 1985 study, Pew said.

Sixty percent of those polled said the press is biased, up from 45 percent in 1985. Just 26 percent in the latest survey said that news organizations are careful their reporting is not politically biased.

Seventy-four percent said news organizations tend to favor one side in dealing with political and social issues. Eighteen percent said they deal fairly with all sides.

But the difference between Winger blogs and the Village is the Winger blogs are "credible". Here endeth the lesson.

No Watering The ACORN

ACORN is back in the news, and not in a good way as the Senate last night voted to cut off federal funding for the organization after a series of legal problems have surfaced this month.
The 83-7 vote came as ACORN , which stands for the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is receiving bad publicity related to surreptitious videos. Two conservative activists posed as a prostitute and her pimp, then released a hidden-camera video in which ACORN employees in Baltimore advised the couple on house-buying and how to account for the woman's income on tax forms. Two other videos, aired frequently on media outlets such as the Fox News Channel, depict similar situations in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C.

If the House agrees with the Senate, ACORN could not win HUD grants for programs such as counseling low-income people on how to get mortgages.

Last week, the Census Bureau severed ties with ACORN, saying it does not want the group's help with the 2010 count. The group, which advocates for poor people, conducted a voter registration effort last year and became a target of conservatives when some workers were accused of submitting false registration forms with names including Mickey Mouse.

Last week, prosecutors in Miami-Dade County, Fla., arrested 11 people on charges that they falsified hundreds of voter applications during a registration drive last year. ACORN tipped off authorities to the suspected fraud.
As with the Van Jones resignation, conservative bloggers are taking credit for the vote.

As BooMan points out:
And, as far as I can tell, the whole Congress is afraid to do anything disagreeable to the teabaggers.

The only U.S. Senators willing to stick up for ACORN?

Burris (D-IL), Casey (D-PA), Durbin (D-IL), Gillibrand (D-NY), Leahy (D-VT), Sanders (I-VT)

Casey and Gillibrand just went up significantly in my estimation.

And for the same reason, Al Franken and Russ Feingold just took a hit in my books.

It's amazing how the Wingers continue to run Washington. For the second time in two weeks, they demand scalps, Washington snaps to attention so quickly that it makes your head spin, including "progressive" Senators and the Obama White House.

And here I was worried about the Democrats emboldening thugs.


Related Posts with Thumbnails