Friday, November 27, 2009

Last Call Plus

Oh and one more thing tonight:  I thought "Climategate" was the indisputable proof that climate change was a myth, and that Copenhagen was now doomed.

Gosh, if anything it's looking like Copenhagen will be a major international success, and even China and the US are in, according to UN head Ban Ki-Moon.
"Our common goal is to achieve a firm foundation for a legally binding climate treaty as early as possible in 2010. I am confident that we are on track to do this," Ban told a summit of Commonwealth leaders in Trinidad and Tobago.
"Each week brings new commitments and pledges -- from industrialized countries, emerging economies and developing countries alike," he added.

"An agreement is within reach ... We must seal a deal in Copenhagen," Ban said. He, Rasmussen and French President Nicloas Sarkozy attended the summit of the 53-nation Commonwealth as special guests to lobby on Friday for international consensus on a climate pact.

Rasmussen said Denmark had received an "overwhelmingly positive" response to its invitation to world leaders to attend the talks next months. "More than 85 heads of state and government have told us they are coming to Copenhagen, and many are still positively considering," he said.

He urged major developed countries to deliver firm commitments on cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to "put figures on the table" for "up-front" financing to help poor nations combat climate change.
"The need for money on the table -- that is what we want to achieve in Copenhagen," Rasmussen told a news conference later.
There's just too much evidence out there showing we're in real trouble, guys.

Last Call

When Sully's not sticking a loaded gun to his head over Trig Palin, he's capable of smashing blowhards like Karl Rove.
I learned then that nothing beyond short term politics motivates Rove. Nothing. And I also learned: this fathomless cynicism is not just repulsive, it's invariably wrong. People sure did vote on deficits in 1992. And one small reason Obama won in 2008 is because many Independents and Republicans couldn't trust the GOP to stop spending and borrowing us into oblivion in an era of economic growth.
Now, Rove - whose shamelessness is only matched by his incompetence - is writing a deficit hawk column for the WSJ.

The sliver of argument he has left is that the debt we now face is vaster than we imagined only a year ago. The reason? Rove would have you believe it's those spend-and-splurge Democrats. In fact, of course, the massive debt has been building for years and its new height was precipitated by the recession begun under Bush (who was still in office a year ago), by the stimulus necessary to prevent a total abyss, by the bailout money required to rescue the banks, and by the continued de-leveraging after the reckless private borrowing of the Bush-Cheney years.
Steve Benen gets in on this one too.
Rove wants to see an "honest appraisal" of where we are. Good idea. The stimulus was necessary because Rove's old boss left the president an economy on the verge of wholesale collapse. S-CHIP expansion was necessary because Rove's old boss rejected a bipartisan measure to help low-income children go to the doctor. Rescuing the auto industry was necessary because it was a continuation of Rove's old boss' policy and the nation couldn't afford to cut off American manufacturing at the knees at the height of the recession. Cap and trade, Rove neglected to mention, wouldn't add to the deficit, and is necessary because Rove's old boss ignored the climate crisis for eight years. The health care reform bill would cut the deficit significantly, and is necessary because Rove's old boss fiddled while the dysfunctional health care system got worse.
That's an "honest appraisal."
Granted, Karl Rove takedowns are low-hanging fruit, but considering he gets a new column in the WSJ to lie about every two weeks or so, it's necessary harvesting.  Karl Rove's about as qualified to write about deficit reduction the same way GOP Sen. David Vitter is qualified to write about monogamous relationships.

The Kroog Versus Dubai

With the U.S. markets losing a percent and a half or so on today's half-day session due to the growing likelihood of a 'major sovereign default' in Dubai, Paul Krugman takes a look at what Dubai means for the bigger financial picture here in the states and across the globe.
As far as I can tell, there are three ways to look at it — three stories, if you like, about what Dubai means.
First, there’s the view that this is the beginning of many sovereign defaults, and that we’re now seeing the end of the ability of governments to use deficit spending to fight the slump. That’s the view being suggested, if I understand correctly, by the Roubini people and in a softer version by Gillian Tett.

Alternatively, you can see this as basically just another commercial real estate bust. Either you view Dubai World as nothing special, despite sovereign ownership, as Willem Buiter does; or you think of the emirate as a whole as, in effect, a highly leveraged CRE investor facing the same problems as many others in the same situation.

Finally, you can see Dubai as sui generis. And really, there has been nothing else quite like it.

At the moment, I’m leaning to a combination of two and three. For what it’s worth (not much), US bond prices are up right now, suggesting that the Dubai thing hasn’t raised expectations of default.
(More after the jump...)

There's Always One

Some people choose to be less than thankful for their families this time of year.
Police in southern Florida were searching Friday for a man in connection with the fatal shootings of four people and the wounding of another.

Detectives in Jupiter, Florida, were looking for Paul Michael Merhige, 35, said Jupiter Police Sgt. Scott Pascarella.

The victims were found Thursday night in a home in Jupiter, he said.

Merhige's 33-year-old twin sisters, Carla and Lisa Merhige, and Ramon Joseph, 76, were fatally shot, Pascarella said. The suspect's 6-year-old cousin, McKayla Sitton, died after being rushed to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach.
Puts those family arguments you have over turkey into perspective, doesn't it?

If you get a chance to make amends with your family, make the most of that chance, folks.

Nameless One 2012: Why Vote For The Lesser Evil?

Republican Wingnuts.  Who else would think a guy with a VP job approval rating in the teens would win a presidential election?
A new group wants former Vice President Dick Cheney back in the White House.

The organization - "Draft Dick Cheney 2012" - launched on Friday, and unveiled their new Web site. Their aim: To convince the former vice president to seek the Republican presidential nomination in the next race for the White House. But there may be a major roadblock to the group's pitch - Cheney himself.

"The 2012 race for the Republican nomination for President will be about much more then who will be the party's standard bearer against Barack Obama, the race is about the heart and soul of the GOP," said Christopher Barron, one of the organizers of the Draft Cheney movement. "There is only one person in our party with the experience, political courage and unwavering commitment to the values that made our party strong – and that person is Dick Cheney."
The guy left office with an approval rating of thirteen percent.  Thirteen. Everyone in the country hates the guy.  And these idiots think he can win.

By all means, run a Palin/Cheney ticket.  Please.  Better yet, make it Cheney/Palin.

Because Clearly The Problem With Health Insurance Is Lawyers

Chuckles wants to scrap health care reform and "do it right", in this case we're back to the same old GOP talking points of tort reform and abolishing interstate barriers.
First, tort reform. This is money — the low-end estimate is about half a trillion per decade — wasted in two ways. Part is simply hemorrhaged into the legal system to benefit a few jackpot lawsuit winners and an army of extravagantly rich malpractice lawyers such as John Edwards.
The rest is wasted within the medical system in the millions of unnecessary tests, procedures, and referrals undertaken solely to fend off lawsuits — resources wasted on patients who don’t need them and which could be redirected to the uninsured who really do.
In the 4,000-plus pages of the two bills, there is no tort reform. Indeed, the House bill actually penalizes states that dare “limit attorneys’ fees or impose caps on damages.” Why? Because, as Howard Dean has openly admitted, Democrats don’t want “to take on the trial lawyers.” What he didn’t say — he didn’t need to — is that they give millions to the Democrats for precisely this kind of protection.
Second, even more simple and simplifying, abolish the prohibition against buying health insurance across state lines.
Some states have very few health insurers. Rates are high. So why not allow interstate competition? After all, you can buy oranges across state lines. If you couldn’t, oranges would be extremely expensive in Wisconsin, especially in winter.
And the answer to the resulting high Wisconsin orange prices wouldn’t be the establishment of a public option — a federally run orange-growing company in Wisconsin — to introduce “competition.” It would be to allow Wisconsin residents to buy Florida oranges.
But neither bill lifts the prohibition on interstate competition for health insurance. Because this would obviate the need — the excuse — for the public option, which the left wing of the Democratic party sees (correctly) as the royal road to fully socialized medicine.
There's stupid, and then there's National Review stupid, which is stupidity with intent to mislead other people into buying their particular brand of stupid by lying about how stupid it would be in actual practice.

(More after the jump...)

The Road To Hooverville

If these Rasmussen numbers are even close to right, then the President has lost the war on the economy in the minds of the American people.
Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters believe the $787-billion economic stimulus plan passed by Congress in February has helped the U.S. economy, while 34% say it has hurt the economy. Twenty-four percent (24%) say it has had no economic impact. 

While some in Congress are pushing for a second stimulus package to fight the country's rising unemployment rate, only 21% believe that additional stimulus spending is the best tool. Sixty-two percent (62%) believe tax cuts are a better way to create jobs and fight unemployment. Fifty-one percent (51%) say a better way to create jobs is to stop all stimulus spending now

Most voters (53%) worry that the federal government will do too much when it comes to reacting to the nation’s financial problems. Concern about the Federal Reserve's actions in recent months is advancing a bill to audit the Fed in the House.

Voters continue to think that the president’s top budget priority should be cutting the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term in office. But they see it as the goal the president is least likely to achieve.
It's insane.  We're deep in a deflationary event where the only thing keeping the economy going is government spending, and 62% of Americans think the answer is tax cuts.  51% want to cancel the rest of the stimulus spending and say that will magically create jobs.

Obama's economic team has dropped the ball so badly that they think the same economic policies that led to the near collapse of the global economy are the solution to the problem.  We've spent a couple trillion extra dollars this year and producer and wholesale prices have remained flat.  Housing prices continue to fall dramatically.  If the stimulus wasn't there, we'd be in freefall.  As it is, we haven't spent enough to counteract the housing depression.

And yet more and more Americans are being convinced that Obama, the Democrats in Congress and  the stimulus caused the depression.  All they know is people are losing their jobs, so we need tax cuts, because that's what the Pretty Hate Machine tells them to think.

StupidiNews Focus

Today's WaPo lobbyist story is a pretty damn big one, and provides a sorely needed boost to a lot of people's estimation of President Obama (including me).
Hundreds, if not thousands, of lobbyists are likely to be ejected from federal advisory panels as part of a little-noticed initiative by the Obama administration to curb K Street's influence in Washington, according to White House officials and lobbying experts.
The new policy -- issued with little fanfare this fall by the White House ethics counsel -- may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts.

The initiative is aimed at a system of advisory committees so vast that federal officials don't have exact numbers for its size; the most recent estimates tally nearly 1,000 panels with total membership exceeding 60,000 people.

Under the policy, which is being phased in over the coming months, none of the more than 13,000 lobbyists in Washington would be able to hold seats on the committees, which advise agencies on trade rules, troop levels, environmental regulations, consumer protections and thousands of other government policies.
(More after the jump...)


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