Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last Call Plus

It's worth reading Bob Cesca tonight on the way out.
I wrote a Huffington Post column about this a while back, so I'm glad to see today that I'm not the only writer who thinks a Republican Congress would impeach the president. DougJ from Balloon Juice sees the writing on the wall (or on Glenn Beck's chalkboard as the case may be):
It seems worth asking: what would Republicans do if they gained control of the House? [...] My guess is that politically, the biggest thing would do is start lots of investigations. What do you think they would investigate? Anita Dunn and Van Jones, probably, but what else? Would they delve into Obama’s pre-presidential years? Would they hold hearings on his birth certificate? Would they impeach him? Would the press go along with all of this the way they did with Whitewater and Travelgate and Socksgate? My gut feeling is that the answer to the last three questions is “yes”.
I hate to be so grim, but these are the stakes. And I couldn't be more deadly serious.
In terms of the politics, it's what makes the soft-pedaling on healthcare seem all the more puzzling. Abandoning healthcare creates a snowball that will eventually grow to mammoth proportions and roll right over the White House. They have to pass this bill -- obviously because it will save lives and the economy -- but also to preserve Congress and the Obama White House.
And he's right.  Clinton was impeached on bullshit and nearly convicted.  They've already accused Obama of far, far worse.  A Republican-controlled Congress will be used to impeach Obama if they get into power in 2010.  The Teabaggers will start demanding it November 3rd.  They will say "He's not even a citizen."

It's going to be insanity.

Last Call

We're already up to 15 bank failures in January, on pace to break even last year's 140 bank failures, and looking down the road one of those banks may be Swiss giant UBS.
Switzerland's justice minister warned in an interview on Sunday that top bank UBS could collapse if sensitive talks with the United States over a high-profile tax fraud investigation fall through. 
"The actions of UBS in the United States are very problematic. Not just because they are punishable but also because they threaten all of the bank's activities," Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told Le Matin Dimanche newspaper.

"The Swiss economy and the job market would suffer on a major scale if UBS fails as a result of its licence being revoked in the United States," she said.

Switzerland and the United States have negotiated an agreement under which UBS would hand over information on some 4,500 account holders to US tax police.

But a Swiss court ruling earlier this month put the deal in doubt. 
In other words, the Swiss are warning that if the US plays hardball with UBS, it'll go under.  The problem is, UBS most likely broke the law and defrauded US taxpayers out of millions.  If they go under because we got that money that a bad thing?

I don't think so.  I also think UBS fully expects the DoJ to drop the case or something.  That's up to Eric Holder, but given the new Volcker Rules stance by the Obama administration and the one thing both progressives and Teabaggers can agree on is that banks are ripping us off, I'm not a sure as I would have been a month ago that Obama would fold on this.

We'll see.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

After the beatdown Paul Krugman gave to Roger "Baron Harkonnen" Ailes today on ABC's This Week...


..should we just call him Paul Muad'Dib or what?

Just sayin'.

Chinese Fire Drill, Part 2

Hey guess what kids?  Now we see why China's playing hardball with us on military cooperation.  It's because they have no real intent on that whole cooperation thing at all, but competition worldwide instead.  From the India Times:
China has signaled it wants to go the US way and set up military bases in overseas locations that would possibly include Pakistan. The obvious purpose would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter US influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"(So) it is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad," an article published on Thursday at a Chinese government website said. "It is our right," the article said and went on to suggest that it would be done in the neighborhood, possibly Pakistan.

"As for the military aspect, we should be able to conduct the retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighboring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the potential enemies' overseas interests," it said.

A military base in Pakistan will also help China keep a check on Muslim Uighur separatists fighting for an independent nation in its western region of Xingjian, which borders the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. Beijing recently signed an agreement with the local government of NWFP in order to keep a close watch on the movement of Uighur ultras.

"I have personally felt for sometime that China might one day build a military base in India's neighborhood. China built the Gadwar port in Pakistan and is now broadening the Karokoram highway. These facilities can always be put to military use when the need arises," Ramesh V Phadke, former Air Commodore and advisor to the Institute of Defense Studies told TNN. 
How very interesting.  More on this here.

Hey, what better way to bankrupt the US than to start a new arms race and force us to borrow money from the very country we're competing against?    Should the GOP ever get back in charge our little tiff with China is going to become front burner real fast.  If you think the Republicans are going to prctice fiscal discipline in the face of this, you're mad.  We're going to be adding tens of trillions to our debt in this little game.  Hell, even with Obama we're going to be forced to play the Build-A-Base game.  Brilliant move from the Chinese:  they'll bury us without firing a shot.

The 21st Century will not belong to the United States, folks.

This Week In Bobblespeak

Baba Wawa on Scott Brown and Fluffy, The Axeman and Orange Julius.
Gregory: Obama said we should stop demonize
each other

Boehner: he’s a well-spoken Guinean Witch Doctor

Gregory: the debt isn’t even his fault!

Boehner: yes but it could be

Gregory: huh

Boehner: he’s a crazy leftist terrorist

Gregory: oh ok

Boehner: the people are saying ‘Stop! We don’t Washington to end the recession!’

Gregory: are you prepared to say yes to anything
at all?

Boehner: the government is going to take over health care!

Gregory: so nothing at all??

Boehner: more war, torture, and tort reform

Gregory: awesome

Boehner: what we won’t stand for is government providing health care

Gregory: if people buy health care across state lines then the federal government will regulate health care

Boehner: nonsense - the American people can regulate the whole industry by themselves

Gregory: that’s insane

Boehner: government is evil!
This whole obstructionist thing is starting to hurt, isn't it? You know, eventually somebody going to figure out the reason the Dems can't get some things done is because of the Republicans saying no.

The Kroog Versus FOX's Roger Ailes

And Paul Krugman jacks the mutha up.  Via Media Matters:

Krugman:  "On this health care thing, I am a little obsessed with it because it's a key issue for me, people did not know what was in the plan and some of that was just poor reporting, some of that was deliberate misinformation...I have here in front of when President Obama said, he says rhetorically "Why aren't we going to have a health care plan like the Europeans have" a government-run program and then proceeded to explain why it was different, on FOX News what appeared was a clipped quote (looks at Ailes) "Why do we have a European-style health care plan?"  Right?  Deliberate misinformation."  All this contributed to a situation where the public did...
Ailes:  Wait wait wait wait...

Krugman: I can show you the clip on Youtube if you want to see it.

Ailes:  ...The people are not stupid.

Krugman:  No, they're ill-informed.

Ailes: In the Constitution, the Founding Fathers didn't need 2000 pages of lawyers to hide things...

Krugman: Oh come on.  Legislation is always long.

Ailes:  ...Then tell people, then tell people it's an emergency that we get it, but it won't go into effect for three years.  So you don't have time to read it...

Krugman: Again, deliberate misinformation.  It is...actually it is a Republican plan.  It was Mitt Romney's health care plan, people were led to believe it was Socialism.  And that was deliberate.  That wasn't just poor reporting.
And this is with FOX News head Roger Ailes sitting directly next to him. It's about time somebody told this douchebag to his face that his entire network is there to lie to the American people and do it on purpose.

Good for him.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Atrios tweets:
why is every male republican with a pulse thought to be a viable presidential candidate
Because Ronald Reagan is dead, and they hate women and minorities.


Obama Picks Up Ten Points In Two Days At Rasmussen

President Obama has picked up ten points in two days in Rasmussen's daily tracking poll, going from -17 on Friday to -7 today, his best Rasmussen number since November 7th.
This is the first update based entirely upon interviews conducted since the State-of-the-Union Address and it reflects a bounce for the President. The number who Strongly Approve is the highest in more than four months (since September) and the overall Approval Index rating is the best in more than three months (since October).

The bounce comes almost entirely from those in the president’s party. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Democrats now Strongly Approve, up from 50% before the speech. However, the speech appears to have had the opposite impact on unaffiliated voters. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 50% now Strongly Disapprove. That’s up from 42% before the speech. The next few days should give an indication as to whether these changes will fade or if they signify the beginning of a new phase in the political environment. 
We'll see if this trend continues.  Right now that -7 is actually pretty damn close to's -2.5% bringing the ODI down to the lowest number I can remember seeing it at, -4.5%.  Still, as you can see, Rasmussen's doing everything they can to spin this as far down the GOP lanes as they can.

I will be very, very interested to see what effect Friday's Question Time had on the polls by mid-week.

Just A Reminder About Congressional Dems

I do complain about what they haven't accomplished so far.  But they have accomplished a massive amount.
The productivity began with the stimulus package, which was far more than an injection of $787 billion in government spending to jump-start the ailing economy. More than one-third of it -- $288 billion -- came in the form of tax cuts, making it one of the largest tax cuts in history, with sizable credits for energy conservation and renewable-energy production as well as home-buying and college tuition. The stimulus also promised $19 billion for the critical policy arena of health-information technology, and more than $1 billion to advance research on the effectiveness of health-care treatments.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan has leveraged some of the stimulus money to encourage wide-ranging reform in school districts across the country. There were also massive investments in green technologies, clean water and a smart grid for electricity, while the $70 billion or more in energy and environmental programs was perhaps the most ambitious advancement in these areas in modern times. As a bonus, more than $7 billion was allotted to expand broadband and wireless Internet access, a step toward the goal of universal access.

Any Congress that passed all these items separately would be considered enormously productive. Instead, this Congress did it in one bill. Lawmakers then added to their record by expanding children's health insurance and providing stiff oversight of the TARP funds allocated by the previous Congress. Other accomplishments included a law to allow the FDA to regulate tobacco, the largest land conservation law in nearly two decades, a credit card holders' bill of rights and defense procurement reform.

The House, of course, did much more, including approving a historic cap-and-trade bill and sweeping financial regulatory changes. And both chambers passed their versions of a health-care overhaul. Financial regulation is working its way through the Senate, and even in this political environment it is on track for enactment in the first half of this year. It is likely that the package of job-creation programs the president showcased on Wednesday, most of which got through the House last year, will be signed into law early on as well.

Most of this has been accomplished without any support from Republicans in either the House or the Senate -- an especially striking fact, since many of the initiatives of the New Deal and the Great Society, including Social Security and Medicare, attracted significant backing from the minority Republicans. 
America, this Congress has managed to pass a lot of really, really good legislation in just 12 months.  Remember that when you decide to throw them under the bus and let the Republicans run things again to "teach them the lesson" that they aren't doing enough or that they are "just as corrupt as Bush was".

Patience and stamina, people.

Patience and stamina.

That Volcker, He Rules

Paul Volcker takes to the Sunday NY Times with a guest op-ed on the economy in this morning's must-read on Too Big To Fail.
What we do need is protection against the outliers. There are a limited number of investment banks (or perhaps insurance companies or other firms) the failure of which would be so disturbing as to raise concern about a broader market disruption. In such cases, authority by a relevant supervisory agency to limit their capital and leverage would be important, as the president has proposed.
To meet the possibility that failure of such institutions may nonetheless threaten the system, the reform proposals of the Obama administration and other governments point to the need for a new “resolution authority.” Specifically, the appropriately designated agency should be authorized to intervene in the event that a systemically critical capital market institution is on the brink of failure. The agency would assume control for the sole purpose of arranging an orderly liquidation or merger. Limited funds would be made available to maintain continuity of operations while preparing for the demise of the organization.

To help facilitate that process, the concept of a “living will” has been set forth by a number of governments. Stockholders and management would not be protected. Creditors would be at risk, and would suffer to the extent that the ultimate liquidation value of the firm would fall short of its debts.

To put it simply, in no sense would these capital market institutions be deemed “too big to fail.” What they would be free to do is to innovate, to trade, to speculate, to manage private pools of capital — and as ordinary businesses in a capitalist economy, to fail. 
And this is the guy who should have been running the show at Treasury from the start.  Obama needs to make sure the major thing Dems in Congress can do to win and to do the right thing is get the Volcker Rules made into law ASAP.  Dump Larry Summers.  Dump Timmy.  You had your chance to dump Helicopter Ben but didn't, but that means all the more that Obama's policy needs to be Volcker's, and the rest of the econ team needs to be pushing the Volcker Rules as a good idea.

Make this happen, Dems.  You want to win in 2010?  You want to save the economy?  Make this happen.

A Cincinna-Tea Party

Here in Cincy the buzz today is about Howard Wilkinson's Enquirer article on the local Cincinnati Tea Party trying to rebuild southwest Ohio's GOP from the ground up.
They are doing it here by the hundreds by filing as candidates in the May 4 primary election for the office of precinct executive, the lowest rung of the political party structure.
"It's the place where you can have the most impact,'' said Mike Wilson, the founder of the Cincinnati Tea Party. "It's one thing to talk to the party leaders about change. It's another thing to actually be the party leadership and make the change from within."

It is a strategy that has worked elsewhere - Tea Party activists essentially took over the Nevada Republican Party earlier this month; and, in Florida, they were successful in forcing out a state party chairman who was seen as too centrist.

A Tea Party takeover of a county party organization would, no doubt, result in a far more conservative party organization that would likely field candidates who are hard-liners on taxes and spending.

Wilson and other Tea Party leaders - working with a loose affiliation of conservative groups like Ohio Liberty Council and the Cincinnati 9/12 project - have traveled around Southwest Ohio over the past few months holding meetings where they give Tea Party activists a PowerPoint crash course on how to run for precinct executives.

Leaders of the suburban county Republican Parties agree they've noticed a surge of interest from those with Tea Party affiliations.

Wilson said he alone has talked to at least 5,000 people over the past few months; and said he knows of at least 300 Tea Party activists who plan to run for precinct executive positions in southwest Ohio. The number is likely to grow considerably before the Feb. 18 candidate filing deadline, he said.

"We're asking people to run, regardless of which party they choose,'' Wilson said. "Both parties need reforming."

But Wilson and other Tea Party organizers concede that the vast majority of them will run as Republicans, just because that is the party that most closely represents their anti-tax, anti-government spending philosophy.
For those of you not in Cincy, I can tell you that Southwest Ohio is the battleground part of this battleground state.  Cincy itself has a decently high African-American urban population in the city and not one but four universities:  Xavier, U of C, Cincinnati State and Miami of Ohio.  It has an African-American Mayor in Mark Mallory and a pretty decent cultural core:  the Taft Museum of Art, the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Cincy Zoo, and the Classical Music Hall of Fame is here too.

And all that barely balances out the blood red, heavily pro-life Catholic suburbs in places like West Chester and Dayton.  Democrat Steve Dreihaus is Cincy's rep, but he's a Blue Dog through and through, and surrounding him are Republicans like Mean Jean Schmidt and John "Orange Julius" Boehner.

If there a place where the Teabaggers can do a lot of local damage, it's Cincinnati.  After all, look what they did in Dayton.

These guys plan to push out any semblance of moderation or bipartisan cooperation in Cincy.  They're not here to reform ther government, they're here to dismantle it, to prove it doesn't work to voters by making sure it's not allowed to do anything but cut taxes and create larger budget holes that will have to be filled with the corpses of programs meant to help the least among us, school budgets, city and county social services, and infrastructure projects.

It's Compassion-less Conservatism run by a single question:  "Why does my tax money go to help anyone but me?"  And if that doesn't sum up Cincy Republican politics, I dunno what does.

They will go far here.  Very far.  And they will be with us a long time.
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