Sunday, January 3, 2010

Last Call

There's a way to make Obama Derangement Syndrome worse, and that's to try to legitimize it by pretending the world's hatred for Obama is not only real, but the only reason as to why something occured.  To whit:  Rex Murphy of Canada's The Globe and Mail argues the only reason why Obama wasn't named Time's Person of the Year in 2009 is because clearly America hates the man.
I suspect Time knew just as well as everybody else that the real person of the year, whether you worshipped him or were a critic, was – how could it be anyone else? – Barack Obama. Was not Barack Obama sworn in as President in 2009? Was he not – the descriptors are now bonded to his name – “the first black man to occupy the White House?” Was this not a “historic milestone?” Did he not, almost immediately, also win the Nobel Peace Prize? Was he not the predominant politico-celebrity figure of the entire world this year?

What was Time waiting for before it would name him as person of the year? Did he have to win Wimbledon with one hand tied behind his back while simultaneously directing repairs to the Large Hadron Collider?

I think Time went to the relatively faceless functionary Bernanke mainly not to name Barack Obama. Time, like a lot of its fellows in the wild world of the contemporary U.S. media, is in an awkward place with regards to Mr. Obama. Having devoted so much incense to his remarkable ascendancy, a great swath of his country's press is looking for a convenient and not too noticeable off-ramp while it – shall we say – recalibrates its enthusiasm.

It's an uncomfortable pivot from the audacity of hope to buyer's remorse. Very uncomfortable for those in the media who played the cheerleader for Mr. Obama, who skated by controversies that would have sunk other candidates or abandoned the ruthless investigations they would have pressed on less congenial candidates.

The ferocity they applied to the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, in contrast with the timidity they brought to his campaign, will in time come to be seen as one of the most shameful episodes in American journalism. Not so much for what they did to Ms. Palin, but for what they neglected to do in examining the candidate for the office that really counted. In some curious way, the U.S. media's bulldogging of Ms. Palin was kind of an inverted compensation for what they weren't doing to him.
It's not Obama Derangement Syndrome if America really does despise the failed Kenyan usurper as much as Rex does, you see.  Ergo, it's not Obama Derangement's simply reality.  And thus, we've come full circle to October 2008 again:  the liberal media is in the tank for the black guy, it's unfair to Sarah Palin, and now the Wingers are vindicated fully: Obama not being Time's Person of the Year in 2009 is proof that the irrational hatred of him is perfectly rational after all.  We told you he wouldn't be able to solve America's problems in 11 months!  Failure!  Usurper!  Impeach!

The best part is if Obama was named Person of the Year in 2009...for he was named Person of the Year by Time in 2008, you would have been proof that Time was in the tank for the black guy, the media's unfair to Sarah Palin, and now the Wingers are vindicated fully.

Amazing how that works.

Coming To An America Near You

I've long argued (along with the excellent Digby and the fantastic crew at that the real lesson of California's budget disaster is the fact that while Republicans complain for months about remaking one-sixth of our economy if that one-sixth of our economy is health care, they have no problem whatsoever rolling the dice on one-sixth of our economy if that slice is the state of California.

More and more folks are coming around to the notion of  "As goes California, so goes the nation" and what it really entails:  As goes California's ungovernable budget disaster with all solutions blocked by an angry minority, so goes the United States Senate.  Today, Ezra Klein joins their ranks with a must-read article.
(More after the jump...)

New Year, Same Old Birther Nonsense

Via Digby:
In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama’s qualifications for the presidency, the group “Americans for Freedom of Information” has Released copies of President Obama’s college transcripts from Occidental College . Released today, the transcript school indicates that Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate at the The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California . The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship.

This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Obama’s detractors have been seeking. Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya and there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship, this is looking pretty grim. The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about Obama’s legitimacy and qualification to serve as President.. When reached for comment in London , where he has been in meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama smiled but refused comment on the issue. Britain ’s Daily Mail has also carried the story in a front-page article titled, “Obama Eligibility Questioned,” leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Obama’s first official visit to the U.K.
Only one problem.  This entire "AP story" is fake.  It's part of a vicious email chain going around these days to discredit the President.  But like the whole "Saddam caused 9/11" and "Barry's a Muslim" baloney, this continues to float around the internet like a case of herpes, bursting through every couple of months. This will continue for years, folks.

What?  You thought 2010 was going to feature less Obama Derangement Syndrome?

Looking For Supreme Victory

Opponent of health care reform are increasingly looking towards challenging legislation in the judicial branch in order to keep it from being implemented, and to eventually dismantle the measure entirely.  But the real issue isn't health care at all:  the forces behind this complete about face on the Republican-supported issue of insurance mandates want the Supremes to issue a sweeping ruling that will strictly limit the constitutionality of Congress to regulate the states.  They give the game away here in the Washington Post today.
"In the history of this country, the federal government has never required every American to enter into a contract with a private company," said Randy Barnett, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Barnett and two co-authors made the case against the individual mandate in a legal memorandum published by the conservative Heritage Foundation in early December. To uphold the constitutionality of the individual mandate, they argued, the Supreme Court would have to find that the Constitution's Commerce Clause has "no limits."

"If Congress can mandate this, they can mandate anything," they wrote. "Congress could require every American to buy a new Chevy Impala every year, or pay a 'tax' equivalent to its blue book value, because such purchases would stimulate commerce and repay government loans."
When Congress and the White House was under Republican control, there was no issue about the constitutionality of Bush's plenary executive branch.  Now that the voters have thrown the Republicans out of office however, Obama is a fascist dictator who must be reigned in, and Congress's power to regulate the states must be curtailed in the name of freedom by the judicial -- the same judicial branch that Republicans constantly and consistently" accuse of being "activist judges" who "legislate from the bench" in an unaccountable way to the American people.

Needless to say, having the Supremes declare much of the Congress's current applications of the Commerce Clause as overstepping its authority, thus forcing the government to dismantle much of the federal government's regulatory powers, would be a dream come true for the Club For Growth goons.

From a legal standpoint however, they've got no leg to stand on.

(More after the jump...)

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Bob Cesca documents the atrocities:
Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney U.S. Air Force (Retired) thinks that we should strip search all 18-28 year old Muslim males at the airport.
And no he's not kidding. This was a three-star general in our armed forces who must have served with and commanded both Muslims and African-Americans at some point in his career, and he's saying "strip search all of them."  As Bob says, how do you know if they're Muslim?  You don' that means strip searching anyone who could be a Muslim.

Think about that for a while.  Anyone who could be a Muslim.  Can you assume by looking? have to strip search everyone, frankly.  And why stop at airports?  Why not office buildings, stadiums, schools, malls?  Why not especially churches and synagogues?  If the possibility of killing 300 Americans is enough to make us consider throwing away the Bill of Rights, then we need to apply that to any place where 300 or more Americans can gather, correct?  Aren't these "soft targets"?  Why limit that to 300?  Is killing 299 Americans just as bad?  How many lives are worth strip searching Americans who might be suicide bombers?

You have to follow this logic all the way once you go down this path.  It's called a slippery slope for a reason.

Bob's even more salient point:
It goes without saying that the #tcot and teabagger crowds -- the Glenn Beck disciples who have been complaining all year about how the Obama administration is "attacking the Constitution" are all in favor of this kind of profiling. Suddenly they're not so interested in the Constitution. Cowards.
And it's true.  These assholes throw away the Constitution the millisecond it can be used to protect The Dreaded Enemy.

Standing Athwart History, Yelling "Obama Sucks!"

I respect Steve Benen's patient explanation as to why Chuckles Krauthammer is full of crap for saying Obama is soft on terror because he doesn't use the phrase "war on terror."
Can we try being adults about this? The Obama administration agreed early on that the "war on terror" phrase was lacking. That was hardly shocking; one can't wage a "war" against a tactic. It also made strategic sense -- Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explained the "war on terror" has "became associated in the minds of many people outside the Unites States and particularly in places where the countries are largely Islamic and Arab, as being anti-Islam and anti-Arab."

By moving away from the phrase, the president and his team came into line with the thinking of Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who banned the use of the phrase "Global War on Terror" back in 2007. Even Donald Rumsfeld rejected the phrase back in 2006: "[I]t is not a 'war on terror.'"

And as Matt Yglesias noted yesterday, none other than Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who's tried to get out in front of the confused lynch mob since Christmas, said as recently as 2008 that the phrase "war on terror" is the "dumbest term ... you could use".

If our discourse could rise above a junior-high level, "even the dimmest" would understand that the key to national security is the efficacy of the policy, not the semantics. And when it comes to counter-terrorism, Obama and his team have proven themselves quite effective at capturing, detaining, and occasionally even killing terrorists. If Krauthammer is unsatisfied with this, he'll have to do a far better job of explaining why.
But the reality here is that Benen has actually described a far more common phenomenon that easily explains Krauthammer's argument (or complete lack of one) where logic dictates taking an intelligent and reasonable course of action, where neutral non-partisan parties agree it's the correct action to take and even some Republicans have gone on record as saying it's the correct action for America to take.

However, if Barack Obama actually takes the above action, he is attacked for being anywhere from misguided to being outright stupid and some even go so far as Krauthammer implies here that Obama is actually weakening the country and inviting new attacks that may cost American lives.

Of course, this is the very definition of Obama Derangement Syndrome.  Chuckles here has been dancing around this level of irrational Obama hatred for months now, but this weekend's column puts him squarely into the Wingnut category.  This loony screed could have been cribbed from any Townhall or Pajamas column, but instead Chuckles is now the new voice of instability for the Washington Post.  Your liberal media, ladies and gentlemen.

2010 picks up right where 2009 left off.  It's much more useful to call ODS for what it is.

Job Fishing

In the 90's, Midwest states like Ohio went out of their way to give fat tax breaks to Japanese companies like Toyota to attract tech and manufacturing firms to open North American shops.  In the Oughties, it was China.  As the Teens open up, the shift has moved again to Ohio attracting firms from another high-tech country:  India.
Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is quick to admit that he doesn’t “particularly enjoy heights.” So why would he climb into a cherry picker to be lifted 40 feet in the air?

To show off a 196,000-square-foot office park in the Cincinnati suburb of Milford to executives from Tata Consultancy Services, India’s biggest tech company and a thriving part of the Tata Group conglomerate.

To sweeten the deal, Strickland threw in $19 million in tax credits and invited the TCS crew to a state dinner at the governor’s mansion. “The economy is difficult,” Strickland says in the Jan. 11 issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “I will go wherever I can to find jobs.”

TCS said yes, and in November Strickland showed up at the sprawling wooded campus for a ceremony to mark the hiring of the 300th employee at what has become the cornerstone for TCS’s North American efforts.

Tata has hired some 250 graduates of Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati, and other nearby schools. Soon the facility may employ as many as 1,000 Americans doing back-office and technology outsourcing for U.S. health-care companies and local governments.
The irony is pretty thick here however: Ohio has found a firm from India to come here so that other Ohio companies can outsource their jobs to it. Here in Cincy, TCS maybe be providing 1,000 jobs...but they may be displacing even more as in-house IT workers vanish.

Having said this, I can tell you that IT has been headed down the managed services path for years. I've worked for managed services companies for quite some time now. I can tell you however that the decision is always "We'll get rid of our in-house IT guys and hire the outsourcing company for the same money or even less, and get far more resources for our dollar."

And right now, that's a very, very attractive sales pitch to businesses.
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