Thursday, November 19, 2009

Last Call

Thierry Henry's handball foul/goal for France yesterday knocking Ireland out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is turning into a full-blown international incident.
Soccer star Thierry Henry became the villain of Dublin on Wednesday.
In the Irish national soccer team's most important game since October 2005, the Boys in Green saw their World Cup hopes dashed when the prolific French striker used his hand to control the ball near the goal -- not once but twice.

The ball appeared as if it might go out of bounds, but Henry palmed the ball to his feet and then flicked it with his right foot to former Arsenal teammate William Gallas, who buried a header and stamped France's ticket to the 2010 World Cup.

Irish goalkeeper Shay Given ran to the referee, pleading emphatically that Henry had cheated. Such cries -- from players, fans, even from the Irish justice minister -- only grew louder after the game.

"I will be honest. It was a handball, but I am not the referee," Henry said after the match at Stade de France in Paris.
Ahh, but it gets even more bizarre...
Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern entered the fray Thursday, saying in a statement that he was petitioning Ireland's governing soccer body to demand a rematch.
For the uninitiated, this is akin to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that the NFL make the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins play again because of a disputed fumble in the end zone.

Ahern conceded that his chances were slim: "They probably won't grant it, as we are minnows in world football, but let's put them on the spot. It's the least we owe the thousands of devastated young fans around the country. Otherwise, if that result remains, it reinforces the view that if you cheat, you will win."
You understand of course European countries have actually gone to war over less within the last 1200 years or so.  Still, the ministerial level?  Be interesting to see how this goes.

Don't get to use the Non-American Stupidity tag very often, but...

Epic Liberals Ate My Civics Homework Fail

I speak tonight of GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx AGAIN, after this time she tried to pass off the GOP as being the party of civil rights legislation.  Luckily, she was rather forcefully corrected by Democratic Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California:
CARDOZA: Today, what I’m hearing on the floor really takes the cake. The gentlelady from North Carolina, in her statement just now, indicated that the Republican GOP had passed the Civil Rights Act legislation with almost no help from the Democrats. I can’t believe my ears. It was the Kennedy and Johnson administration where we passed that Great Society legislation. It was over the objections of people like Jesse Helms from the gentlewoman’s state that we passed that civil rights legislation. John Lewis…
FOXX: Would, would the gentleman yield?
CARDOZA: No, I will not yield. John Lewis, a member of this House, was beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge to get that civil rights legislation passed. Tell John Lewis that he wasn’t part of getting that legislation passed.
(Here's the video after the jump...)

An Expensive Lesson In Irony

The cost of a 4-year degree from a state college in Cali?  Price just went up ten grand.
As hundreds of students demonstrated outside, University of California leaders on Thursday voted to approve a 32% hike in undergraduate fees, arguing the increase is crucial because of the state's budget crisis.

The UC Board of Regents, meeting at UCLA, approved a two-phase increase that will boost the average undergraduate fee $2,500 by next fall. That would bring the average annual cost to about $10,300 — a threefold increase in a decade.

After a series of deep cuts in state aid, and with state government facing a nearly $21 billion budget gap over the next year and a half, regents said there was no option to higher fees.
That's right, college tuition in the UC system was about $3,800 in 1999.  Now it's $10,300 in 2010.  When I was in school, going to a good state school meant you'd save big money over private universities and a student loan was affordable.  Nowadays, community college is the only choice for a lot of students.  And private school?  Well, you got 150 grand lying around?

Didn't think so.  Here's your first free lesson for prospective poly sci majors in California: screw you.

He's Lame Evan Bayh These Standards

Yes, The Hoosier Daddy of ConservaDems is back, polishing his Sensible Centrist hall monitor badge over at CNN today, complaining about the national debt:
The path of least resistance that we have trod for so long is the path to national weakness. If you have the same people and the same process, you are going to get the same results. 
For this reason, I will vote "no" on raising the debt ceiling unless Congress adopts a credible process to balance our books and eliminate the red ink.
Oh, so now Evan F'ckin Bayh is Evan F'ckin Bayh, Fiscal Conservative?  My ass.
There are, however, some issues to consider. For example, it was none other than Evan Bayh who recently voted to "reform" the estate tax, cutting taxes for the extraordinarily rich, at a cost of $750 billion over the next decade. To pay for it, he recommended ... nothing. The costs would simply all be added to the deficit. Given this, I hope he'll forgive my skepticism about his credibility on the subject of fiscal responsibility.
For that matter, I know everyone is always supposed to believe at all times that "both sides are equally to blame," but Bayh's shorthand is lazy and wrong. Democratic policymakers cut the deficit and created a surplus. Republican policymakers were the single most fiscally irresponsible officials in American history. Yes, Dems are running high deficits now, but only because the alternative is a wholesale economic collapse. Skipping over this history is, at best, misleading.

It's also worth keeping in mind that the president's budget proposals already project deficit reductions, and health care reform would further bring significant reductions to the deficit.

But perhaps the biggest question I have for Bayh is: why wait? If the Indiana senator and his cohorts wants to put together a deficit reduction strategy, why not put pen to paper and present a plan?
Because the only thing "fiscal conservatives" hate more than "red ink" is pissing off their corporate constituents by cutting industry subsidies...or pissing off voters by raising taxes.

Why Don't We Steal Away

Well, I can't say I'm surprised at this, but Republicans have finally just gone over the edge.  They're insane.  They do not respond to reality well.  More than half of them, according to this poll from Public Policy Polling, believe President Obama stole the election with the help of ACORN.
The Republican base is with him though. PPP's newest national survey finds that a 52% majority of GOP voters nationally think that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama last year, with only 27% granting that he won it legitimately. Clearly the ACORN card really is an effective one to play with the voters who will decide whether Hoffman gets to be the Republican nominee in a possible repeat bid in 2010.

Belief in the ACORN conspiracy theory is even higher among GOP partisans than the birther one, which only 42% of Republicans expressed agreement with on our national survey in September.

Overall 62% of Americans think Obama legitimately won the election to only 26% who think ACORN stole it for him, as few Democrats or independents buy into that line of thinking.
Are you kidding me?  Only 27% of Republicans think he's legitimately President.  One in four.  Really?  Obama stole the election?  Rather than even entertain the possibility that America rejected Republicans after Bush, three-quarters of Republicans doubt Obama won the election.  They do not believe he is actually the President.

This goes beyond denial.  This goes straight to mass hysteria.

[UPDATE 3:58 PM] Digby gets it.
The conservative movement has long held that Democrats can never be legitimate office holders because it is an article of faith that a majority of the country believes as they do. The Village agrees --- they are always going on about how "this is a conservative country." So they can't compute how a person who doesn't run openly and proudly as a conservative Republican could possibly legitimately win an election.
As does D-Day:
Though a majority of Americans believe the President legitimately won the election, the fact that so many Republicans believe in what practically every actual study has shown to be a mythical scenario of voter fraud has value for the conservative movement in delegitimizing Democratic political figures. This moves the rhetoric on the conservative side further and further to the right, as an illegitimate figure is easily demonized, and conservatives willing to believe in an fantasy “stolen election” scenario are willing to believe in all kinds of conspiracies.
If Republicans are convinced Obama stole the election, then why should they even afford him basic human decency?

[UPDATE 2 5:04PM] Steve at NMMNB explores this new ACORN: Liberal Supervillain Organization angle.

A Major Mistake

NPR's story on Maj. Nidal Hasan's evaluations support the notion that the alleged killer was unstable rather than a jihadi.  Not that there's a difference to the Wingers, mind you, but it's shaping up to be a classic case of the overworked doctor unable to deal with his own problems, and a system that looked the other way.
On May 17, 2007, Hasan's supervisor at Walter Reed sent the memo to the Walter Reed credentials committee. It reads, "Memorandum for: Credentials Committee. Subject: CPT Nidal Hasan." More than a page long, the document warns that: "The Faculty has serious concerns about CPT Hasan's professionalism and work ethic. ... He demonstrates a pattern of poor judgment and a lack of professionalism." It is signed by the chief of psychiatric residents at Walter Reed, Maj. Scott Moran.
When shown the memo, two leading psychiatrists said it was so damning, it might have sunk Hasan's career if he had applied for a job outside the Army.

"Even if we were desperate for a psychiatrist, we would not even get him to the point where we would invite him for an interview," says Dr. Steven Sharfstein, who runs Sheppard Pratt's psychiatric medical center, based just outside Baltimore.
(More, plus a rant after the jump...)

Starting To Sound Like Me There

Of the non-economists out there who have been sounding the economic alarm bells, BooMan Tribune's Steven D has been on top of the situation for quite some time now.  Today he has another layman's read of the economic nightmare we're in, and like myself he believes that as bad as 2009 has been out on the front lines, 2010 will be worse.  It's a very sobering analysis, even by my standards.  Emphasis mine:
The Tea Baggers and their talk of a tax revolt and railing against the mythical socialist takeover of America by the Obama administration isn't the problem.

The problem is that we've been scammed by Wall Street financial firms (the megalithic survivors) into juicing their balance sheets while getting less than zero in return for our billions of dollars of bailout expenditures by the Fed and Congress and trillions more for Federal guarantees of Wall Street's toxic junk financial derivatives.

In short, our investment of tax dollars in an essentially opaque, unregulated, subsidized and protected financial sector is proving to be a very, very bad bet for the future of any real economic recovery for the vast majority of Americans who don't work for Goldman Sachs and their ilk. This isn't a rational free market by anyone's definition. It's a con game, one that Obama's economic team has been more than willing to ignore in the interest of helping their friends, even if that means unacceptably high unemployment and lower investment in the real drivers of our economy -- small businesses, workers and manufacturing.
(More after the jump...)

Taking The Hill

Doug Hoffman:  still a loser.  Since Republicans can never lose elections, it must have been stolen by ACORN.

No, seriously, that's his excuse. Dave Weigel has the goods:
As the very, very small chance of a late upset vanishes in NY-23, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman is lashing out and accusing “ACORN, the unions and the Democratic Party” of tampering with the election.
Hoffman’s getting some brushback from local Republicans. George Williams, chairman of the Oswego County Republicans, says Hoffman’s wrong and says the party is “not going to take the blame because he didn’t hold his concession speech.” I was in the district in the run-up to the election, when Hoffman accused Democrats or ACORN of slashing a campaign worker’s tires; when that charge turned out to be baseless, ACORN spokesmen informed me that they had no volunteers in the district. While ACORN’s credibility has been challenged left and right lately, its very public implosion would seem to back that up.

This isn’t the sort of behavior that wins over a skeptical electorate looking at a possible rematch between Hoffman and Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.).
But hey, who cares?  A Democrat can never win a fair election, they only steal it from Republicans.

That's the classy guy I'm sure the people of NY-23 want to represent them.

Karl Rove Strikes Again

I'm convinced Karl Rove's job is simply to accuse Obama of doing everything his guys did while running the White House.  He now gets paid by the Wall Street Journal to do this, so it must be good money for someone as Steve Benen informs us.
Karl Rove is lecturing the White House on appreciating the consequences of policy decisions? Did Rove ever have to deal with the repercussions of his own misconduct?

At least, however, the almost farcical column is in keeping with Rove's general m.o. Rove ran a White House that embraced a "permanent campaign," so he's accused the Obama team of embracing a "permanent campaign." Rove embraced the politics of fear, so he's accused Obama of embracing the politics of fear. Rove relied on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted " political events, so he's accused Obama of relying on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted" political events. Rove looked at every policy issue "from a political perspective," so he's accused Obama of looking at every policy issue "from a political perspective." Rove snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan, so he's accused Obama of snubbing snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan.

A lesser hack may find it difficult to launch political attacks that are ironic, hypocritical, and examples of projection, all at the same time, but Rove is a rare talent.
It's rather sad, but that's all they've got now. They don't have any substantive policy arguments, so they resort to Karl Rove calling people names.

StupidiNews Focus

More on Republicans killing Chris Dodd's measure to keep credit card companies from jacking up interest rates ahead of February's new laws taking effect.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), who heads the Senate Banking Committee, had authored a bill that would have prevented credit card issuers from hiking interest rates ahead of a new law coming into effect in February that restricts how and when rates can be raised.

Earlier this year, Dodd wrote and passed through the Senate the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act, which requires credit card issuers to give customers advance notice before hiking rates and fees.

That bill comes into force in February. But, as news sources reported earlier this year, credit card companies took advantage of the delay to hike interest rates before the bill became law.

(More after the jump...)

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims unchanged at 505K, continuing claims down 39K to 5.61 million.

And where, pray tell, is the holiday hiring rush this year? Also, a million more Americans will lose all their unemployment benefits regardless in 2010 unless Congress re-approves the entire jobless benefit extensions program into 2010.  There's a reason why Republicans are delaying Congress as much as possible, and stalling legislation to the point where Americans lose their unemployment checks is simply scoring political points against the Dems, you see.

PS:  92% of economists in the latest survey don't see jobs coming back until at least 2012.  40% say it will be 2013 or later.  So yes...unemployment hitting 12 or 13% is not only not out of the question but very possible.  That would put the U-6 rate at 20% or more, nationally.

One in five Americans unemployed or underemployed.  Cheery, eh?

The Helicopter Ben And Timmy Show Has Critics

And some, like Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, think they should be fired.
President Barack Obama "is being failed by his economic team" and should replace Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House economic policy director Larry Summers, says US House Rep. Peter DeFazio.

The prominent member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus told MSNBC's The Ed Show that he and other House members are growing increasingly frustrated by a White House economic policy that focuses on maintaining the financial stability of Wall Street firms while largely overlooking Main Street concerns.

"I think there is a growing consensus in the [Democratic] caucus [that] we need a new economic team that cares more about jobs, Main Street and the American people than it does about Wall Street and huge bonuses," DeFazio (D-OR) told host Ed Schultz.

DeFazio suggested that the government "reclaim the unspent funds ... reclaim some of the funds that are being paid back, which will not be paid back in full, and we use it to put people back to work rebuilding America's infrastructure.

"We may have to sacrifice just two more jobs to get millions back for Americans," DeFazio said.
I'm torn between saying "These clowns have to go!" and saying "How convenient to use them as scapegoats for decisions made by people higher than themselves."

Either way, DeFazio has a point.  I've long said that Tim Geithner was the wrong man for the job from day one, and that Ben Bernanke needed to have been fired long ago. But Congress's failure to oversee and regulate the financial industry and failure to pass strict laws to prevent this from happening again (and it will happen again folks, we're in another bubble right now) cannot be rewarded in the elections ahead.

Somehow I don't think they will be.

Some Small Justice At Last

A federal judge has ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for the flooding of St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina.  The Corps was found negligent in its maintenance of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet canal system, or MR-GO.
"The failure of the Corps to recognize the destruction that the MRGO had caused and the potential hazard that it created is clearly negligent on the part of the Corps," said U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. in his ruling. "Furthermore, the Corps not only knew, but admitted by 1988, that the MRGO threatened human life ... and yet it did not act in time to prevent the catastrophic disaster that ensued with the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina."

"The Corps' lassitude and failure to fulfill its duties resulted in a catastrophic loss of human life and property in unprecedented proportions," Duval wrote. "The Corps' negligence resulted in the wasting of millions of dollars in flood protection measures and billions of dollars in Congressional outlays to help this region recover from such a catastrophe. Certainly, Congress would never have meant to protect this kind of nonfeasance on the part of the very agency that is tasked with the protection of life and property."

Duval's 156-page decision could result in the federal government paying $700,000 in damages to three people and a business in those areas, but also sets the stage for judgments worth billions of dollars against the government for damages suffered by as many as 100,000 other residents, businesses and local governments in those areas who filed claims with the corps after Katrina.

Duval ruled, however, that WDSU-TV anchor Norman Robinson and his wife were not entitled to damages because the corps' dredging of the MR-GO did not affect the levee system that protects eastern New Orleans from hurricane storm surge. That probably means eastern New Orleans residents would not be able to collect on claims they've filed against the corps, said attorneys representing plaintiffs in the case.

"The people of this city have been vindicated," said attorney Joseph Bruno, a leader of the large team of lawyers who represented the plaintiffs. "They didn't do anything wrong and it's time they be compensated."
But the reality is none of  NOLA's residents will see a dime from the government.  The question is how long will justice be delayed by the Obama administration?  It's a certainty that this will go before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the Roberts Supreme Court in the years ahead, and there would already be four votes against the plaintiffs there: Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia.

Odds are very, very good in fact that this ruling is merely a waste of time.  There's still a long, long way to go for the negligence of Katrina to ever be redressed...and if it ever even will be.


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