Monday, November 2, 2009

Last Call

Someone needs to tell Rep. Joe "You Lie!" Wilson that you don't get to blame Obama for not responding to the H1N1 outbreak quickly enough when Wilson and 95% of House Republicans voted against vaccine funding.
Last week, some Democrats predicted that H1N1 could become a line of new line attack of attack on Obama from Republicans. In a release issued on Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee claimed that any criticism of H1N1 policy by the GOP would amount to hypocrisy.

The DCCC pointed to a June vote on a supplementary appropriations bill as evidence. Wilson joined 95% of Republicans and voted against the bill, which contained special funding to combat H1N1 both domestically and internationally. But the bill also contained other much more money for other plans and programs Republicans at the time viewed as wasteful, including the Cash-For-Clunkers car purchase incentive program.

Still, the DCCC says that a vote against the bill essentially equaled a vote against combating H1N1 and means Republicans who voted against it like Wilson favored a public health program that would have resulted in even less vaccine than is available now.

"The families, schools, and businesses fighting against the H1N1 flu pandemic deserve better than House Republicans' reckless, knee jerk partisanship and just-say-no approach to helping prepare for this national emergency," DCCC spokesperson Ryan Rudominer said in a statement released Oct. 27.

Republicans like Wilson attacked the President and said that H1N1 vaccine funding was wasteful pork and voted against it. Now they are attacking the President for not having enough vaccine. It doesn't matter what Obama does. They will attack him without logic or reason.

That's why it's called Obama Derangement Syndrome. Perhaps not slashing the CDC's budget under Bush would have been a start.

Harry Reid Loses Glasses, Discovers Cape And S On Chest

It's really too bad that Harry Reid spends 95% of the time as Clark Kent, but the other 5%, he calls out some Republicans:

While the two health care reform plans that are serving as the main building blocks for the merged bill have been publicly available for quite some time, I would note that the Republican leadership’s health care plan remains a secret, unless perhaps it does not exist.

Needless to say, I fully understand if your plan is still under development, and would not presume to suggest that you publicly share draft legislative text for even an individual element of your plan, let alone an entire bill, before it is finalized.

However, as soon as a comprehensive Republican alternative is complete, I hope you will be willing to immediately make it public. I am sure you agree that the American people deserve the opportunity to fully review both parties’ health care reform plans before we begin this important debate.

Nice, man. Now where the hell were you six months ago?

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Steve Benen asks:
A couple of angles to consider here. First, George W. Bush took months to ponder the "surge" policy in Iraq. I don't recall leading Republicans demanding immediate decisions at the time.

Second, how do GOP leaders, with a straight face, demand thoughtful, endless deliberations on domestic policies they've already decided to oppose, but insist on war escalation decisions based on an arbitrary timetable of their own making?

They're assholes, Steve. Any domestic policy must be delayed because Congress is moving too fast, unless it's a chance to blow up various and sundry Raghead Sunzabitches, in which case it's "Faster, please."

This is because the only purpose your average Republican has for Federal government is to use it as a weapon against people Republicans don't like. The rest of the functions of government are of course unbearable breaches of freedom and intolerable tyranny, except for the part where the State gets to do violence towards non-Republicans.

Self-Parody Alert

Rep. Virginia Foxx makes me Carolina proud!
Everywhere I go in my district, people tell me they are frightened. … I share that fear, and I believe they should be fearful. And I believe the greatest fear that we all should have to our freedom comes from this room — this very room — and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.
Are you kidding? People are telling her they are scared of a health care bill, and that it's a bigger threat to the country than terrorism?

They only thing they know is lying and fearmongering. That's all they have.

And yes, NC-5 is just right next door to NC-10, home of The Odious Patrick McHenry. I swear to God there's people in Winston-Salem or Mt. Airy (you know, where four people were shot over the weekend) who might disagree with the words Rep. Foxx is putting in their mouths.

Matt Taibbi Versus Sister Sarah

With The Moosewoman Of The Purgepocalypse's new book coming soon, Matt Taibbi celebrates by putting out the column he wrote but never posted on her gubernatorial ragequit extravaganza.
This amazing gaffe reminded everyone of what we might have to look forward to in 2012, when the Republican Party may well nominate a woman who would lose at Trivial Pursuit to a Chilean sea bass, who makes George W. Bush look like Sir Isaac Newton. What’s incredible about Palin isn’t that she has a few gaps in her knowledge base, but that she doesn’t know anything about anything at all; she moreover doesn’t seem to feel the need to make sure one idea follows the next when she talks, instead just blurting out random unconnected bits and pieces of deep-seated resentment and persecution complex. Even ideological consistency is an alien concept to her (she wears her religious fundamentalism on her sleeve, but lets her unmarried daughter shack up with a human hard-on in the next room over) and she appears to resent the notion that it shouldn’t be.

All of which makes Sarah Palin the perfect leader for the inevitable pushback against the Obama era, when America in a vague and superficial sort of way decided to celebrate the values of culture, tolerance and knowledge. The other America doesn’t read and doesn’t remember anything it didn’t learn in the last five minutes; it’s angry and unhappy but doesn’t want to think about why, and knows only that it wants someone to pay the price for what it feels.

These people don’t want a president who reads Urdu poetry, they want a president who thinks Urdu is a Swedish dog food and doesn’t care if you know it. Just like them, Sarah Palin is now an unemployed loser who lost her job and her status thanks to forces beyond her comprehension and thinks she knows exactly whom to blame – laugh at her now if you like, but see if her humiliating exit doesn’t turn out to be the hole card that wins her the Republican nomination.

And lo, once again the Taibbi is prophetic. We'll see how close he gets.


Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Nice to see I'm not the only one who thinks that it's long overdue for Timmy's ass to be fired. Of course, I stand by the fact that I believed Geithner to be the wrong person last year for the job for precisely those conflict of interest reasons listed.

Counting Those Chickens

...before the eggs have even been laid is Human Events editor Jed Babbin, who says that the only possible, conceivable message of conservatives winning in Virginia and upstate NY on Tuesday is that America will soon banish moderates and the Democrats from the land.
In the House, Scozzafava’s fate will have already sunk in. The pro-abortion, pro gay marriage Scozzafava was chosen by local Republican bosses to run for John McHugh’s empty seat (McHugh having been picked for Army Secretary by President Obama). New York’s 23rd congressional district was moderate but pretty solidly Republican. But her nomination galvanized conservatives nationwide, bringing most of the powerful conservatives in to support her third-party challenger, the hitherto unknown Doug Hoffman. With them came an outpouring of campaign money and -- as of last weekend -- dozens (hundreds?) of Tea Partyers coming to the district to campaign for Hoffman door-to-door.

Scozzafava, to her credit, dropped out of the race. Tomorrow, Hoffman will probably be elected. Those who ignore the lessons of NY-23 and Virginia -- moderate Dems and establishment Republicans alike -- will suffer greatly in 2010.

House Republicans believe that some 46 House Democratic seats are within reach of a Republican takeover next year. That’s a bit optimistic. There are 52 “Blue Dogs” who still pretend to moderation and independence from Speaker Pelosi.
The real lesson of the Hoffman Effect is that the GOP is fully committed now to replacing everyone in the House and Senate with Teabaggers. The 2006 and 2008 repudiation of these idiots only proved to them that Republicans weren't batshit insane enough. They'd rather wreck the country than give an inch. To them, the last three years simply didn't exist, nor do the voters who voted for it.

Only the teabaggers matter in their America now.

Digging Deep

All this week McClatchy is running a series on Goldman Sachs entitled "Low Road to High Finance." Today's story is how Goldman has gotten into the foreclosure business.
When California wildfires ruined their jewelry business, Tony Becker and his wife fell months behind on their mortgage payments and experienced firsthand the perils of subprime mortgages.

The couple wound up in a desperate, six-year fight to keep their modest, 1,500-square-foot San Jose home, a struggle that pushed them into bankruptcy.

The lender with whom they sparred, however, wasn't the one that had written their loans. It was an obscure subsidiary of Wall Street colossus Goldman Sachs Group.

Goldman spent years buying hundreds of thousands of subprime mortgages, many of them from some of the more unsavory lenders in the business, and packaging them into high-yield bonds. Now that the bottom has fallen out of that market, Goldman finds itself in a different role: as the big banker that takes homes away from folks such as the Beckers.

The couple alleges that Goldman declined for three years to confirm their suspicions that it had bought their mortgages from a subprime lender, even after they wrote to Goldman's then-Chief Executive Henry Paulson — later U.S. Treasury secretary — in 2003.

Unable to identify a lender, the couple could neither capitalize on a mortgage hardship provision that would allow them to defer some payments, nor on a state law enabling them to offset their debt against separate, investment-related claims against Goldman.

In July, the Beckers won a David-and-Goliath struggle when Goldman subsidiary MTGLQ Investors dropped its bid to seize their house. By then, the college-educated couple had been reduced to shopping for canned goods at flea markets and selling used ceramic glass.

The Beckers won because Goldman simply couldn't prove they actually had the Beckers's mortgage.
In July, after U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Roger Efremsky of the Northern District of California threatened to impose "significant sanctions" if the firm failed to complete a promised settlement with the Beckers, Goldman dropped its claims for $626,000, far more than the couple's original $356,000 in mortgages and $70,000 in missed payments. The firm gave the Beckers a new, 30-year mortgage at 5 percent interest.

That lowered their monthly payment to $1,900, less than half the maximum $4,000 a month their subprime loans could've demanded.

Fabos-Becker, 60, said that the trauma has left her hair "a lot grayer." Much of the stress would have been alleviated, she said, if a law required lenders to identify themselves, especially to borrowers facing hardships.

"I take solace," Tony Becker said, "in knowing that I was up against the worst possible opponent — the biggest, strongest investment bank in the world."

And now Americans all over the country are in their own fights with Goldman.

Some may win. Most will not.

We're All Partisans Now

Because if FOX News is considered partisan, than all news is, according to the NY Times's John Harwood.
In audience surveys from August 2000 to March 2001, Fox News viewers tilted Republican by 44.6 percent to 36.1 percent. More narrowly — 41.4 percent to 39.4 percent — so did the audience for MSNBC. The audiences of CNN, Headline News, CNBC and Comedy Central leaned Democratic.

Four years later, amid the Iraq war and President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, the audience data had shifted. Fox News viewers had become 51 percent Republican and just 30.8 percent Democratic, while MSNBC viewers leaned Democratic by 41.7 percent to 40.4 percent. Viewers of CNN, Headline News, CNBC and Comedy Central grew slightly more Democratic.

By 2008-9, the network audiences tilted decisively, like Fox’s. CNN viewers were more Democratic by 50.4 percent to 28.7 percent; MSNBC viewers were 53.6 percent to 27.3 percent Democratic; Headline News’ 47.3 percent to 31.4 percent Democratic; CNBC’s 46.9 percent to 32.5 percent Democratic; and Comedy Central’s 47.1 to 28.8 percent Democratic.
Thers disabuses Harwood of this idiocy (seriously, Comedy Central is a news network now?)
The answer of course is that including it makes a tendentious conclusion smell better; but still, its inclusion serves admirably to demonstrate that tendentiousness.

Because it does not take two, or more, to "polarize." It takes one. Fox gleefully went full metal GOP, and by and large other networks remained "objective" and "nonpartisan," according to the very strange interpretation of such concepts on the part of the media elites.

Right, which of course means that there's that whole "reality has a well-known liberal bias" thing. I gotta call Dubya's Rule on this one: At some point, a Liberal said something bad, ergo it exonerates everything Wingnuts do from here until the end of time.

Orrin Hatch Admits The GOP Plan

GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah knows what the GOP Plan is and why the GOP needs it:

Hatch asserted that the health bills, which he believes is a "step by step approach to socialized medicine," will lead to Americans' dependence on Democrats for their health and other issues.

"And if they get there, of course, you're going to have a very rough time having a two-party system in this country, because almost everybody's going to say, 'All we ever were, all we ever are, all we ever hope to be depends on the Democratic Party,'" Hatch said during an interview with the conservative

"That's their goal," Hatch added. "That's what keeps Democrats in power."

That claim led Hatch to suggest that some Democrats are "diabolical" in their pursuit of health reform.

In other words, if the Democrats can take credit for health care reform, people will vote for them in the future. The fact that Republicans could have done this and instead chose to give Big Pharma a multi-billion dollar gift with it says volumes.

Hey Orrin, doesn't this mean that Republicans would still be in charge if they passed meaningful health care legislation?

Of course, affordable health care doesn't matter to Orrin Hatch. If you're a Republican, the only thing that matters is raw political power. This is the only reason why Democrats could want to pass a bill like this in the eyes of a Republican like Hatch.

Still Not Worried About 2010

Gallup's new generic ballot poll has the Dems up 46%-44% over the GOP with 10% undecided. On the surface that's bad news, especially given Gallup's prediction model for mid-term elections shows that if the Dems are anywhere under 48%, that they lose the House. In fact, if Gallup's model holds true, the Dems would lose a ton of seats, somewhere between 42 and 60, giving the Republicans a solid lead in the lower chamber:

Gallup Midterm Election Seat-Prediction Model: Predictions of Democratic House Seats, Based on Ultimate Democratic Share of Vote

The trick is that 10% undecided, and the fact that even a couple of percentage points means the Dems will be more than ok. At 51 or 52%, the Dems would in fact have a shot at gaining seats from where they are right now. the other problem is the turnout model and prediction models no longer hold true. We're in new territory electorate-wise since 2008. 2010's electorate is simply demographically far different from 1994. If that undecided falls evenly, the Dems are fine.

If all the undedcided break for the GOP, then the Dems are in trouble, but I just don't see that happening. Remember, this is a chart of the ultimate total share of a two-party poll without undecideds. Even 6-4 the GOP way still leaves the Dems at 49% and they keep the House according to the model.

Still not worried.

The Chips, My Watch, The Deed To The Ranch And My Lucky Rabbit's Foot

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board goes all in on defeating Obamacare with a whirlwind tour of discounted GOP talking points direct from August.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reportedly told fellow Democrats that she's prepared to lose seats in 2010 if that's what it takes to pass ObamaCare, and little wonder. The health bill she unwrapped last Thursday, which President Obama hailed as a "critical milestone," may well be the worst piece of post-New Deal legislation ever introduced.

In a rational political world, this 1,990-page runaway train would have been derailed months ago. With spending and debt already at record peacetime levels, the bill creates a new and probably unrepealable middle-class entitlement that is designed to expand over time. Taxes will need to rise precipitously, even as ObamaCare so dramatically expands government control of health care that eventually all medicine will be rationed via politics.

Yet at this point, Democrats have dumped any pretense of genuine bipartisan "reform" and moved into the realm of pure power politics as they race against the unpopularity of their own agenda. The goal is to ram through whatever income-redistribution scheme they can claim to be "universal coverage." The result will be destructive on every level—for the health-care system, for the country's fiscal condition, and ultimately for American freedom and prosperity.

Giving Americans affordable health care is the "worst bill ever" according to these clowns. I'll spare you the rest of the ravings on how allowing the protecting the country's largest anti-trust exempt industry is paramount to preserving American freedom (after all, that why we fought the Redcoats back in 1776, to protect our vital insurance companies from King George) but the bottom line is that the WSJ board has decided that protecting them is more important than your ability to afford health care.

Might want to keep that in mind. The closer this bill gets to passing, the worse the attacks are going to be. They're not even pretending on being impartial anymore in the Village.

The Japanese Puzzle Box

Barry Ritholtz has flagged this article from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard as a must-read today, as the Telegraph's international econ reporter reminds us there are bigger problems than America's economic woes, and that's Japan's looming meltdown.
Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), told the US Congress last week that the debt path was out of control and raised "a real risk that Japan could end up in a major default".

The IMF expects Japan's gross public debt to reach 218pc of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, 227pc next year, and 246pc by 2014. This has been manageable so far only because Japanese savers have been willing – or coerced – into lending for almost nothing. The yield on 10-year government bonds has been around 1.30pc this year, though they jumped to 1.42pc last week.

"Can these benign conditions be expected to continue in the face of even-larger increases in public debt? Going forward, the markets capacity to absorb debt is likely to diminish as population ageing reduces saving," said the IMF.

The savings rate has crashed from 15pc in 1990 to near 2pc today, half America's rate. Japan's $1.5 trillion state pension fund (the world's biggest) has become a net seller of government bonds this year, as it must to meet pay-out obligations. The demographic crunch has hit. The workforce been contracting since 2005.

Japan Post Bank is balking at further additions to its $1.7 trillion holdings of state debt. The pillars of the government debt market are crumbling. Little wonder that the Ministry of Finance has begun advertising bonds in Tokyo taxis, featuring Koyuki from The Last Samurai. If Japan's bond rates rise to global levels of 3pc to 4pc, interest costs will shatter state finances.

The notion of Japan going into default, as in Japan the country, the second largest economy out there, should scare the bloody hell out of all of us. Where Japan is now is where America is ultimately headed, but should another world-breaker of a crisis hit, it will hit here.

And it will hit here soon. New tag, Japan. Definitely going to keep an eye on this one. Japanese deflation may be the time bomb that blows the world to bits.

Dropping A Daisy Cutter

Wal-Mart's playing hardball this holiday shopping season.
Wal-Mart has vowed to be the "price leader" this holiday season, and announced plans on October 21 to cut prices every week until Christmas to fend off rivals and win over shoppers.

After it reduced toy prices at the end of September, Target Corp responded with price cuts of as much as 50 percent on toys like Barbie and G.I. Joe.

Analysts said many of these holiday price cuts are planned in advanced, allowing retailers to protect their margins.

But such cuts can be damaging to manufacturers, because they train shoppers to expect lower prices for their goods. They can also hurt retailers' profits if they must slash prices lower than expected to match competitors' prices, or they can not sell enough goods to offset the lower prices.

Somehow, I don't think Wal-Mart is too particularly worried about not selling enough toys this year. What they are trying to do is smash the crap out of every other toy retailer in America and be the last one standing.

They're betting big time that they will be. And frankly, I wondered why they didn't do this last year. Such aggressive price cuts will only hurt those retailers who can't keep up with Wal-Mart. Don't think this will be limited to just toys, either. Wal-Mart has also declared an all-out price war in books and in electronics and computers too. Whether it's coffee urns or coffins and urns, Wal-Mart's going for the whole enchilada.

When the smoke clears from this, there's not going to be a whole lot of other survivors.

It's No Contest

Hamid Karzai has been declared the winner in Afghanistan after his opponent Abdullah Abdullah dropped out over the weekend ahead of Saturday's runoff election. The meat of the issue:
Observers say Karzai's real test will be whether he can form a government that is seen as legitimate in the eyes of the Afghan people and the international community.
The answer to that is going to be "no way in hell" on the first part and "only in the eyes of the U.S." on the second.

If Afghans do not believe that the Karzai government is legitimate, then we have no path to "victory" in Afghanistan. All we'll end up doing is having American troops die to protect Karzai's regime. We've already spent a good eight years doing that and it has only gotten worse.

Once again, it's time to figure out how to withdraw.

Sure You Will, Guys

House Republican point man John Boehner says that GOP health care bill is still coming...

Mr. Boehner said Sunday the Republican bill would extend health-insurance coverage to "millions" of Americans but wouldn't try to match the scope of the House Democratic bill unveiled last week. The Democratic legislation, if passed, is estimated to expand coverage to more than 30 million Americans now without insurance. Its estimated gross cost is $1.055 trillion over 10 years.

"What we do is we try to make the current system work better," Mr. Boehner, of Ohio, said on CNN's "State of the Nation." The GOP plan would likely be less costly to taxpayers and involve less government intrusion into the private sector. Mr. Boehner said the bill would take "a step-by-step approach" to expanding coverage.

It would, among other things, propose new limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and make it easier for individuals and small businesses to pool resources to purchase insurance.

Mr. Boehner said the Republican bill would also propose grants for states that use "innovative" solutions to expand coverage. He pointed to states that have created special "high-risk pools" to provide insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions.

He said the bill wouldn't raise taxes, nor mandate that individuals and businesses purchase insurance, as the Democratic legislation does.

So, no tax increases, no mandates, limiting malpractice awards and grants to states that come up with their own plans. Let me translate for you:

"We don't have a plan. We're giving money to states to come up with their own solutions. Also health care costs are all the fault of lawyers."

I'm sure punting to the states will help. Not like they are facing major financial issues or anything.

Number Crunching

It's not that President Obama won the election a year ago that has the Wingers scared, it's that President Obama won the election with only 41% of the white male vote.

whitemenxh3 1 1

There are a couple messages you can draw from that, BooMan remarks that for the most part, the progressive movement is not made up of white men. But I think the converse of that is the more important inference to explore. When's the last time somebody got only 41% of the white male vote in this country and won...and won comfortably? It's never happened before. White men are no longer able to determine who runs this country anymore. Despite white males overwhelmingly voting for John McCain, McCain still lost both the electoral and popular votes by significant margins.

The result is Barack Obama as our nation's 44th President. The cause of that is the rapidly diminishing power of white men as a voting bloc. Some of them are terrified. Now, I agree with BooMan when he says any group losing power like that would cause a backlash. But when has that ever happened to white men before in America?

About as often as we've had a non-white President.


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