Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Eleventh Hour In Lansing

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granhom informed Michigan's state employees that they will be laid off effective 12:01 AM Thursday morning unless the Michigan State Senate can pass a spending bill in the next few hours.
Because the Michigan Legislature has failed as of 2 p.m. today to meet its constitutional responsibility to enact a balanced budget for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2009, that notice remains in effect. You are temporarily laid off effective 12:01 a.m. on October 1, 2009, until a spending plan is in place or you are otherwise notified.

A bill authorizing the continued expenditure of state funds has been approved by both the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate but has not been given immediate effect by the Senate. If and when the Senate gives immediate effect to this continuation budget and the bill is signed into law by the governor, the Executive Office will notify news organizations and post a notice on You are directed to monitor those reports for updated information, because in the event of action by the Michigan Senate or other action to authorize expenditures for Fiscal Year 2010, you will be expected to report to work for the balance of your shift or for your next scheduled shift as appropriate.

Jenny's playing hardball, kids. No budget tonight, the state with the worst unemployment rate in the country effectively shuts down in roughly three hours, laying off thousands more workers until further notice.

Pray tell how many more states will face a situation like this over the next 12 months? I'm thinking a lot more than you believe. Not exactly fair for Granholm to hold state workers hostage like this, but then again, the state Senate has to send her a bill to sign first.

[UPDATE 12:35 AM] Looks like no deal as of yet. I'll check back in the morning.

Laying Into Grayson

Republicans are laying into Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson like he personally took a dump on Rush Limbaugh's studio chair or something. They're trying to Van Jones the guy out of Congress for his comments on the GOP health care plan (or complete lack of it). Grayson, for his part, refuses to back down, as HuffPo's Howie Klein reports.
GOP morning shill, Joe Scarborough, had reactionary sidekicks Pat Buchanan and Mika Brzezinski, comparing Grayson's well-reasoned and factual assault on Republican Party well-coordinated anti-working family obstructionism with the disgraceful outburst from secessionist lunatic Joe Wilson (R-SC). Some of the most extremist partisans among the obstructionist caucus took Grayson's criticism personally -- which makes sense. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), whose ProgressivePunch voting score since President Obama was elected is a big fat zero-- extreme even for the fringe Republicans -- demanded an apology. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), another goose-egg extremist-- with unanswered questions about a gay Republican triple homicide in Orlando involving one of his now dead "associates" -- was up early this morning tweeting away, demanding Speaker Pelosi call a vote to reprimand him.

If Grayson made one mistake, it was blaming only Republicans for the way Congress is treating American families in the health care debate. Sure, every single Republican is catering to the special interests who line their pockets and fill their campaign coffers. But perhaps Grayson should have found a way of mentioning that it isn't just 100% of Republicans -- who, by the way, have often said that the Democratic plans for reform will kill granny, etc. -- but that there are also a significant number of corrupt, bribe-besotted Democrats -- from Max Baucus and Blanche Lincoln to most of the Blue Dog caucus -- who also are trampling on the aspirations of working people in our country. Elijah Cummings stood up for Grayson to the vampiric Mika this morning. Georgia goofball Tom Price is introducing some kind of cockamamie resolution to condemn him.

Yeah, The Odious Patrick McHenry is even getting up off the GOP benches to attack the guy for telling the truth. And that resolution to condemn him? Going nowhere.

Tom Price, the Georgia congressman who chairs the conservative Republican Study Committee, announced Wednesday morning that he would introduce a resolution condemning Grayson for breaching House decorum.

But a few hours later, Price decided to hold his fire and give Grayson a chance to apologize to House Minority Leader John Boehner for his remarks.

"We thought that we would give Congressman Grayson an opportunity to do the right thing and recognize the comments that he made were disrespectful to the House and to the decorum," Price told CNN.

Price said Grayson, who hails from a conservative district in central Florida, "has maligned half, if not more than half, of his own constituents" who are Republican.

Asked if he will introduce the resolution if Grayson refuses to apologize, Price said "we'll certainly consider it."

He noted that House Democrats set a precedent for punishing bad behavior when they voted in favor of a resolution formally disapproving of Republican Joe Wilson for shouting "You lie!" at President Obama.

"That was the avenue that was defined by the Democrats in charge when someone breaches the decorum," Price said. "So we chose the same vehicle."

And now Republicans, in one fell swoop, are guilty of hypocrisy for all the yelling they did at Democrats. In their mind, this was as bad or worse than what Joe Wilson did to President Obama on national TV. It's hysterical, and it only makes them look like a bunch of petty crooks.

Please, keep Alan Grayson in the news as much as possible guys, so the Village keeps playing what he said yesterday over and over and over again...

It just might start to hit home, I'm thinking. Hey America, what have the Republicans done for you on health care?

Chad Ocho Pinko

Give some football players an inch, they'll take a yard. Give Chad Ochocinco an inch, he'll take an entire month...for charity.
The uniform-obsessed NFL is permitting a significant deviation for Week Four of the 2009 season.

As recently reported by Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, players will be allowed to wear pink cleats and/or pink gloves to promote breast cancer awareness.

In Week Four, and presumably only in Week Four.

And, of course, Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco sees this as an opportunity to push the individuality envelope. He has indicated, Twitter style, that he plans to wear pink shoes and gloves for the entire month of October, and to supplement them with a pink chin strap and a pink mouthpiece.

He also says that he'll match any fines imposed with a donation, most likely to breast cancer research groups.
I may give Chad a hard time, but even I think this is damn cool.

Harry Plays Hardball

Harry Reid has actually followed through on a threat for once, canceling the Senate's Columbus Day week recess so they can get their work done passing a freaking health care bill.
Reid had threatened earlier this month to cancel the break, but unlike similar warnings in the past, the leader followed through on Wednesday.

Reid has often threatened to cancel recesses or long weekends to spur colleagues to pick up their legislative pace. But he usually relents, letting fellow lawmakers fly home to visit their families and constituents around the country.

The pressure on Democrats to pass healthcare reform, however, has raised the stakes. Some Senate aides speculated that Reid did not want to give conservative activists a chance to stall progress by staging a second round of angry demonstrations during townhall-style meetings over the recess.

“The Columbus Day [recess] is fast approaching,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “It’s the week after next and with all the things going on here, it just would not be right for us to take that week off.”

Reid said the Senate would only work three days that week, taking off Columbus Day (a Monday) and the following Friday. The Senate would not vote until 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
But hey, it's at least three days to get work done. Must be nice, being exhausted from those three-day work weeks.

Home Is Where The Heart Is (Ripped Out Of Your Chest, Still Beating)

More than half of homeowners who have taken advantage of loan modifications have once again fallen behind on their payments.
More than 50 percent of homeowners with loans modified in the first half of last year had missed at least two months of payments a year later, the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision said Wednesday.

But the results were better among those who saw their payments drop substantially.

About one in three borrowers whose monthly payments were reduced by 20 percent or more had fallen behind again within a year. That compares with more than 60 percent for borrowers whose loan payments were left unchanged or increased.

The report highlights a significant challenge for the Obama administration's plan to tackle the foreclosure crisis, backed by $50 billion in money from the financial industry bailout fund.

Some people are being helped by this, but the reality is all the loan mods in the world aren't going to help you if you've lost your job and your insurance rates have gone up again, and you car breaks down, etc.

Sadly, this is only going to get worse.

That's It, It's Officially "The Left Is Just As Crazy" Day

The Wingers have now absolved themselves of everything remotely nasty ever said at a health care Town Hall Blitz thanks to Florida Democrat Alan Grayson.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) warned Americans that "Republicans want you to die quickly" during an after-hours House floor speech Tuesday night.

His remarks, which drew angry and immediate calls for an apology from Republicans, were highlighted by a sign reading "The Republican Health Care Plan: Die Quickly."

Veteran Tennessee Republican Jimmy Duncan abandoned customary reticence to chastise Grayson.

"That is about the most mean-spirited partisan statement that I've ever heard made on this floor, and I, for one, don't appreciate it," Duncan said.

"It's fully appropriate that the gentleman return to the floor and apologize," said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, another Tennessee Republican.

And actually, Grayson should apologize and clarify his statement and say "You know, the Republicans don't want you to die. They only wants traditional Democratic voters to die. And they are bastards for it. They don't give a damn about health care reform for Americans, they only care about political power. Screw them with a chainsaw. San Dimas High School football rules."

Which probably explains why I'm not a Capitol Hill aide and speechwriter.

How is that any different that the hundreds of Republicans who said the President wants to kill people with "Death panels"? Should they also apologize? Sarah Palin? Newtie? Bachmanniac? Glennsanity? El Rushbo?

Still waiting on those apologies...and what about YOU LIE!?

Hmm? Hundreds of Republicans on TV can do whatever they want. One Democrat calls them out on it, it's breathtaking and shocking and the wiorst thing ever.

Republicans are truly bastards. My country for a real opposition party to the Dems.

Stupidity Equivilency

Via John Cole, we get Tom Friedman concern trolling Obama Derangement Syndrome and pulling this kind of "It's just like that!" Village Idiot crap. First, the concern:

What kind of madness is it that someone would create a poll on Facebook asking respondents, “Should Obama be killed?” The choices were: “No, Maybe, Yes, and Yes if he cuts my health care.” The Secret Service is now investigating. I hope they put the jerk in jail and throw away the key because this is exactly what was being done to Rabin.

Even if you are not worried that someone might draw from these vitriolic attacks a license to try to hurt the president, you have to be worried about what is happening to American politics more broadly.

Our leaders, even the president, can no longer utter the word “we” with a straight face. There is no more “we” in American politics at a time when “we” have these huge problems — the deficit, the recession, health care, climate change and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — that “we” can only manage, let alone fix, if there is a collective “we” at work.
And then the trolling.
Sometimes I wonder whether George H.W. Bush, president “41,” will be remembered as our last “legitimate” president. The right impeached Bill Clinton and hounded him from Day 1 with the bogus Whitewater “scandal.” George W. Bush was elected under a cloud because of the Florida voting mess, and his critics on the left never let him forget it.
Because the attacks on Clinton and Obama's legitimacy by lunatics who impeached one and advocating a military coup against the other are just like the attacks on Bush's election screwup in Florida.

They are equivalent you see: the left is just as misguided and insane as the right. Village has always seen it that way and always will. Completely, 100% alike.

[UPDATE 11:53 AM] Hey look, Cap'n Ed Morissey can pull the equivalency card too. Gore Vidal is nuts too, so that absolves the entire right wing from the military coup thing from yesterday!

"The Left is just as crazy and violent" is no longer a valid excuse, people.

[UPDATE 2:32 PM] And Michael Steele still thinks Friedman is a "nut job" despite the fact that Friedman's column basically exonerates the Winger base by comparing the military coup freakos to those who thought Bush was not legitimately the President in 2000.


Jobapalooza Preview

ADP's job loss report for September is still pretty grim, another 254,000 jobs estimated lost.

The decline was greater than the 200,000 loss economists surveyed by had forecast. But the difference was "not statistically meaningful," according to Joel Prakken, an ADP spokesman and chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC.

"The pattern of improvement in headline number is undeniable at this point," Prakken said. Private sector payrolls will continue to decline at a slowing rate for the next few months before modest job growth resumes "in the first few months of 2010," he added.

Large businesses, those with 500 or more workers, let 61,000 workers go. Medium-sized businesses, with between 50 and 499 workers, shed 93,000 jobs. And small businesses, those with less than 50 workers, reduced payrolls by 100,000.

Small businesses held will continue to shed more workers than larger and medium-sized firms, Prakken said. That's because large businesses started shrinking payrolls earlier and therefore will recover sooner, he explained.

It's not statistically significant unless you're one of those 54,000 I suppose...or are somebody who is currently employed because of those 54, get my drift.

Modest job growth in early 2010, huh?

Don't see that happening, frankly.

Writing Off A Problem

The IMF is reporting that international bank losses still have a very long way to go.
The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday lowered its estimate for global writedowns for banks and other financial institutions to $3.4 trillion but warned that loan losses were set to rise as unemployment grew.

In April the IMF estimated in its Global Financial Stability Report that global bank losses could reach $4 trillion but said it cut the figure by $600 billion to reflect rising securities values and new methodology for calculating writedowns.

"Global financial stability has improved, but risks remain elevated and the risk of reversal remains significant," the IMF said. It added that the economic downturn was troughing but the recovery in advanced economies would be extremely slow.

The report said that while banks have enough capital to survive, their earnings are not expected to fully offset writedowns expected over the next 18 months.

It said stronger action was needed to bolster bank capital and earnings capacity to ensure banks could support a recovery.

The Fund said while private-sector credit growth has contracted in big economies, overall borrowing needs have not slowed as quickly because of burgeoning government deficits.

"The likely result is constrained credit availability," it said, adding that continued support by central banks may be required to alleviate this.

More bailouts and dirt-cheap loans will be needed, and in turn these banks will be sitting on the loans making money rather than risking lending that out to the cash-strapped American consumer or the businesses that employ them (for now).

The problem is that the banks will still need yet more money to stay up. We're maybe halfway through this mess at best. 2010 will not be pretty.

Going Coup-Coup

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog has a damn good point on yesterday's article advocating a military coup against the President:
If the Democrats don't step up and shut this kind of talk down right now, I fear we are going to see violence in this country. And yes, it will be the Republicans' fault. But it will also be the fault of the Democratic party for watching the crazy talk grow, and not doing a thing to stand up to it. At some point, silence abets.
Let's see some response to the Obama Derangement Syndrome, guys. It's gone way the hell too far. And as Logan Murphy at C&L reminds us, it's not just fringish stuff like NewsMax and World Net Daily openly talking treason, it's guys like El Rushbo too.
This thread of commentary clearly is pushing toward a single thought -- to push people in the armed forces into seeing Obama as a usurper and traitor, just like the Honduran president, and toward the idea that a similar military-based removal of him from office might be justified.

Keep in mind that Limbaugh is only of only four pundits still broadcast daily on Armed Services Radio, so our men and women in uniform are getting fed this garbage on a daily basis. (And Wes Clark was right: It is well past time to take him off.)

Dismissing these guys as harmless cranks isn't an option anymore, guys. It's time to stand up here and say something. The Wingers have become so insane with hatred that being out of political power for less than a year already has some of them talking about a military coup against Obama.

This is deadly serious stuff here, guys. It's no longer a funny fantasy or a comic absurdity. It's borderline treason.

[UPDATE 8:55 AM] Even Rick Moran thinks this guy is insane. Mainly because this guy is insane.

The Public Option Playbook

TPMDC's Brian Beutler takes a look ahead at the future of the public option after yesterday's twin defeats in the Senate Finance Committee.

Soon, Reid will have to decide whether or not to import the HELP Committee's public option into the package he brings to the floor. If he does, it would completely shift the onus on to the skeptics. As it stands liberals are forced to make the push for the public option; if Reid adopts it, conservative Democrats would be smoked out: either they'd have to accept it, or come out strongly against it by voting with Republicans to strip it, or by filibustering the entire bill.

But he probably won't do that. So what then?

Assuming he doesn't (a safe assumption) there will be more amendments, and, soon enough, the entire Democratic caucus will have to go on the record anyhow. More than that, they'll have to decide whether a public option is worth filibustering. That will be a key test of party unity.

And to take things one step further still, if a public option is not in the final bill that passes the Senate, Democratic leaders could still adopt one in negotiations with the House of Representatives. Maybe they will and maybe they won't, but if they do, then conservative Democrats will have to decide yet again whether it's worth tanking the entire reform project over the inclusion of a fairly modest provision.

That's a lot of choke points, and a lot of pressure on public option skeptics. So while it's much too early to predict what will happen, it's also extremely premature to say the public option fight is over. As you can see, there are much more favorable battlefields ahead.

And while Beutler is right on the fights to come, the whole point is that there shouldn't be Democrats fighting against this in the first place.

The public option is a no-brainer, folks. It will save Americans money, it will lower health care costs by giving insurance companies competition, and it will make more affordable health care more widely available to millions of Americans, yet with sixty Senators, Democrats are whining that they just don't think a bill with the public option has the votes to pass.

In other words, there are Democrats that plan to filibuster the bill or vote against the bill if it has the public option in it. That's a problem. And it's one that the Democratic leadership better make clear to the rank and file that failure to pass a real reform bill will cost a lot of Democrats their job in 2010 and 2012.

BooMan has more:

The ideal situation from a parliamentary point of view is to include the HELP version of the public option in the base bill, and then force the opponents to strip it out with an amendment. But that might not work out for the best. For example, if the Senate has a knock-down drag-out fight over the public option and defeats it, it will be harder to get them to turn around and support it if it comes back at them in the Conference Report. The liberal majority in the Senate Democratic Caucus might be better served to save their ammunition. Pass whatever can pass without a lot of fuss and then fight like hell to include the House's public option in the Conference Report. I could go either way on the strategy. The most important thing is that the progressives in the House hold firm in their pledge to vote against a Conference Report that doesn't have a public option. They must make sure it is included in the House bill and they must prevail for its inclusion in the Report.

If they do, the only way they can fail is if there are Democrats (or Lieberman) in the Senate who will filibuster this at the end of the process. And, if that happens, we just go to the reconciliation process. I don't sense that the administration is wobbly on this at all, although I'm sure they are plenty nervous. They are a lot of balls in the air at the moment, and anything can still go wrong.

But that still means Democrats will be the ones killing this bill, not Republicans. It may be the best chance for real reform to pass, but if it fails, the Democrats will take the blame, not the Republicans.


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