Sunday, December 13, 2009

Last Call

Hey guess what kids?  Joe F'ckin Lieberman's out.
Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) informed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a face-to-face meeting on Sunday that he will vote against a health care bill that includes a public option or a provision that would expand Medicare, a Democrat Senate aide tells the Huffington Post.
The two Senators had a discussion in Reid's office shortly after Lieberman appeared on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday morning. The Connecticut Independent discussed with Reid some of his concerns about the legislation, elaborating on issues he had raised during the show.
According to the source, who was briefed on the exchange, Lieberman punctuated the discussion by telling the majority leader directly that he would vote against the bill if the Medicare buy-in and public option provisions remained in it. Roll Call reports that Lieberman said he would also support a Republican filibuster of legislation that included these provisions.

"Leadership was definitely a bit surprised with the lines being drawn in the sand the way they were," said the source. "We expected that he would say critical things about [the bill]. But he is not even giving us a chance to get it scored."
His corporate masters have spoken.  Senate King Poobah Lieberman has spoken in turn.  No health care reform for you, America!

It's getting tiresome, Lieberman turning down every deal and Democrats still coming crawling back for more, like something different will magically happen.  So glad he kept his chairmanship, so he'd be in a position to help Obama.

Lieber's Game

So what's Joe F'ckin Lieberman's game?  On one hand, Paul W. had a good point in earlier comments:
As much as I hate Lieberman more when he is happy than when he is concerned, giving him a face saving victory but getting a big down payment on reform is nothing to snub one's nose at.
Which is true.  Like it or not, the Senate's about horse trading and always will be.  On the other hand, Joe (and Ben Nelson) are still complaining about the Medicare/OPM compromise plan as "unacceptable" and a "deal-breaker" that they will both continue to oppose.

As Marcy Wheeler puts it,
Until we stop pretending these two men are brokering in good faith, we will never get to the point in the discussion of how we get the best health care reform without some industry mole spiking the reform. These men will not support anything less than an out and out bailout of the health care industry, and to hell with the federal budget, and pretending they will just poisons the efforts of those bargaining in good faith.
They understand that if they filibuster the plan, it's dead.  They keep trying to get what they can before everything is swept off the table and just put into budget reconciliation.  If they push too hard, the plan folds.  If they don't push hard enough, well, why negotiate?

This has been going on now for six months.  Every time they come with a new excuse, as Marcy says.  At what point does Obama stop giving into insanity and expecting a different result from these two clowns?

In other words, why is America's health care 100% dependent on the ego of Joe F'ckin Lieberman?  There's something fundamentally wrong with that.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Steve Benen has some good advice:
Remember: nothing becomes law in this Congress unless Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman approve. Literally, nothing. That's not an encouraging legislative dynamic, and it's not within the power of the White House to change it.

It is within the power of voters to change it.
It's not Obama that's been the problem for the progressive movement.  It's Congress.

Why Don't We Just Steal Away, Into The Night

It's that time of year again, holiday fruitcake, Christmas music on the radio, relatives showing up at the door, and people shoplifting the hell out of things.
In supermarkets and drugstores, meat, baby formula and over-the-counter medicine are routinely among the most-filched products. "Supermarkets survive on very thin [profit] margins," said Pernice. "Every time a product is stolen, it hurts these stores a little bit more."

Power tools, and surprisingly, weedkiller, are very popular with thieves at Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500), which is a client of ADT.

"Power tools are very easy to resell," said Pernice. "You can pawn them online or sell them to workers on a construction site."

Some bottles of weedkiller are expensive, as much as $100 or more per bottle. "I never thought weedkiller needed protection," said Pernice

Games, gaming software and consoles such as the Wii are regularly targeted at electronics stores. So are 42-inch TVs.

Just how do you steal a 42-inch TV? "It's either employee theft where it's done on the inside, or sometimes people create a diversionary tactic," Pernice said. "You set off the alarm in the front of the store and someone leaves with the product from the back."
And with the shape our economy's in, it's getting far more common this year.  Having worked in both electronics and office stores, I know  loss prevention tactics, and I know "grab gangs" exist, I've seen them in action and have been unable to stop them.

But what do you expect?  Two wrongs don't make a right, but when companies are stealing billions in taxpayer money, well...our priorities aren't very good these days.

Your ODI Update

Rasmussen's latest imaginary "We Hate Obama" number is at a record low -19, while's average is at +2.4%, giving a brand new record high ODI of -21.4%.

It's starting to get bad out there for Obama on health care. His approval rating average on is down to 52.3% against, only 40.8% in favor. Congress is killing his numbers on this, ever since the House passed their version with the Stupak Amendment, the numbers have gone belly up.

That Other Non-Obamacare Stuff

Meanwhile, funding the rest of the federal government before the end of the year will proceed as the Dems managed to beat back a Republican filibuster that would have shut the government down...barely.
The Senate cleared a key parliamentary hurdle Saturday on a spending bill that finances almost half the federal government and increases funding for the agencies it covers by an average of 10 percent.

The Senate voted 60 to 34 to close off debate on the must-pass omnibus spending bill. But in order to end a Republican filibuster, Democrats had to hold open the 15-minute vote for an additional 50 minutes so 92-year-old Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) could attend and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) could walk to the chamber from his synagogue in Georgetown.

Byrd has been ailing most of this year and votes only on important matters. Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, honors the Sabbath by refusing to drive and by rarely working on Saturdays unless absolutely necessary.

"Shabbat shalom [peaceful Sabbath]," Lieberman said to photographers as he entered the Capitol, after attending morning services on the second day of Hanukkah and then walking more than three miles to the Capitol on a cold December morning. He cast the 60th vote -- the minimum number needed -- for the $446.8 billion spending bill covering the Justice and State departments, among other agencies.

A final vote is scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The House passed the measure last week, and President Obama has indicated he will sign the bill.

All but three Senate Republicans opposed the measure, citing what they consider to be wasteful spending on domestic agencies at a time of war. Three Democrats -- Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Russell Feingold (Wis.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) -- joined Republicans in supporting a filibuster of the bill.
Now, Evan F'ckin Bayh I can see pulling this crap, but Claire McCaskill should know better, and Russ Feingold is doing this from the left. I don't agree with him, but I at least respect the reasoning behind it. The Republicans really could have caused havoc on this, but didn't. In the end, Joe F'ckin Lieberman earned himself another big fat credit chit with the Dems. How lovely. I'd rather have seen McCaskill or Feingold swallow their pride than have Joe F'ckin Lieberman win another round, being the guy that saved the Dems from a government shutdown.

He'll want payback for that. He'll get it at our expense, of course.

Air America

Add Frank Rich to the list of folks who believe that George Clooney's new vehicle Up In The Air is the seminal film of the economic times, as well as being an excellent movie.
What gives our Great Recession its particular darkness — and gives this film its haunting afterlife — is the disconnect between the corporate culture that is dictating the firing and the rest of us. In the shorthand of the day, it’s the dichotomy between Wall Street and Main Street, though that oversimplifies the divide. This disconnect isn’t just about the huge gap in income between the financial sector and the rest of America. Nor is it just about the inequities of a government bailout that rescued the irresponsible bankers who helped crash the economy while shortchanging the innocent victims of their reckless gambles. What “Up in the Air” captures is less didactic. It makes palpable the cultural and even physical chasm that opened up between the two Americas for years before the financial collapse.
The private-equity deal makers who bought and sold once-solid companies like trading cards, saddling them with debt, never saw the workers whose jobs were shredded by their cunning games of financial looting. The geniuses in Washington and on Wall Street who invented junk mortgages and then bundled and sold them as securities didn’t live in the same neighborhoods as the mortgagees, small investors and retirees left holding the bag once the housing bubble burst.

Those at the top are separated from the consequences of their actions. They are exemplified by Robert Rubin, formerly of Citigroup and a mentor to both Obama’s Treasury secretary and chief economic adviser. He looked the other way when his bank made ruinous high-risk bets, and then cashed out and split, leaving taxpayers to pay for the wreckage while he escaped any accountability. Such economic wise men peer down at the country from a hermetically sealed bubble of privilege and self-interest, much as Ryan does from the plane flying him to his next mass firing. And they tend to think, as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs notoriously put it, that they are doing “God’s work” to sustain our free-market system.
(More after the jump...)

Following The Money Trail

Over at Nakedcap this morning, Yves Smith has a hell of a Guardian story flagged about just where the liquidity to save the banking system really came from during the credit crisis in late 2008 (emphasis mine):
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were “the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result
Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. “In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor,” he said.

Some of the evidence put before his office indicated that gang money was used to save some banks from collapse when lending seized up, he said.

Inter-bank loans were funded by money that originated from the drugs trade and other illegal activities… There were signs that some banks were rescued that way.” Costa declined to identify countries or banks that may have received any drugs money, saying that would be inappropriate because his office is supposed to address the problem, not apportion blame. But he said the money is now a part of the official system and had been effectively laundered.
Or, as Yves puts it (again, emphasis mine):
Wow, so it wasn’t Turbo Timmy, the AIG rescue, the alphabet soup of Fed currency facilities or the currency swaps that saved the global banking system. The marginal suppliers of capital, according to the UN, were drug lords. That means that the UN is saying that the banks went into the money-laundering business on a much greater scale than before as a matter of survival. I would presume if this is accurate, it would also mean terrorist groups were able to more more money through the banking system.
Of course, Costa has been raising this alarm since January 2009.  I'm not sure why this story is only now getting attention eleven months later (of course, I have some pretty damn good ideas as to why) but it's still a problem.  The only new information since January is the exact amount of cash involved: $352 billion.  Guess it took the UNODC that long to crunch the numbers.  Costa doesn't want to name names, of course...but I'm thinking there are those who most certainly want him to do so.

Epic Houston, We Don't Have A Problem Win

In a city where same-sex partner benefits are denied city employees, where the effort to draft a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage won overwhelming support, Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in the country, now has an openly gay woman as mayor as Annise Parker has won the runoff election over Gene Locke.
"Houston is a multiracial, multicultural, international city. And I think my election will send a message to the world that Houston is a city that might surprise a lot of folks," Parker said before the runoff.
Parker, 53, has never shied away from, nor made an issue of, her sexual orientation. She has been with her partner for 19 years and they have two adopted children.

She was elected to the city council and then spent the past five years as city controller. She ran for mayor on a platform of fiscal conservatism.

"I have always stood up for the fact that I am gay. It's part of the resume that I bring to the table, but it's just a piece of the package," she said.

After the mayoral race entered a runoff, conservatives and anti-gay activists mounted an intense campaign against Parker. Houston residents received flyers in the mail that highlighted Parker's support from gay groups and her relationship with her partner.

"There's a certain segment of Houston, there's a certain segment of society that has problems with the issues around sexual orientation," Parker said. "But the citizens of Houston have elected me six consecutive times to public office. They know me, they trust me.

"I think it's a small and shrinking minority of Houstonians who have that attitude and I look forward to it as being mayor of all of Houston," she said.
Maybe there's hope for the universe after all.

Related Posts with Thumbnails