Saturday, May 15, 2010

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Headline at CBS News: "Angry Obama Seeks to Deflect Blame for Gulf Oil Spill Crisis"

Boy that left-wing liberal media is really in the tank for the President, aren't they?

What Digby Said

It really is all about winning.
I've told the story before about sitting despondently in my front yard on the morning after the Supreme Court stopped the vote in Florida chatting with my neighbor about how shockingly undemocratic it was and wondering whether or not people would accept Bush as president. He shrugged and said that most people probably secretly respect him more for having gotten away with it. That was way too cynical for me at the time. Now, not so much. All you have to do is watch one of the ubiquitous reality show competitions (or Wall Street) to see that bending the rules is considered the smart move.

And while it's true that Republicans whine all the time about Democrats breaking the rules, they do it with a smirk and a wink thereby letting everyone know they are the ones gaming the system. (Do you think they really cared that someone called General Petraeus, General Betrayus? --- And doesn't that seem quaint at this point considering the current level of discourse?)

The Democrats should just eliminate the filibuster and let the Republicans howl. The teabaggers will have a mass aneurysm, of course, babble about revolution and say black helicopters are coming to take the babies away to FEMA camps, but so what? They do that when Obama attends the White House egg rolling ceremony. The Dems should be far less afraid to have that fight than to be seen whining about how the Republicans aren't playing fair. That's the main thing people like about them. It shows they are winners.
Because even when Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008 and gave the Democrats the largest margin of control in Congress in generations, by Summer 2009 the Dems were losers again.  These days the only question the Village is asking is how badly the Democrats will be crushed by in November, and how long they will be in the wilderness this time after Obama is rendered irrelevant along with the party, their elitist, out-of-touch ideas, and how dead liberalism itself will be as the GOP is rightfully restored to permanent power.  Obamamania was just a hiccup, you see.  We've been a right-wing nation since 1776, and liberalism only emerges through bouts of unfortunate kicking and screaming and the occasional civil war.

The reality is that the Dems still cling to antiquated, worthless ideas like "facts" and "logic".  Perception is reality.  Al Gore is fat.  Kerry is a coward.  Obama is a Kenyan Muslim, and Sarah Palin will save us all because she's the smartest woman on the entire planet because she knows just how stupid she is and doesn't mind telling us.

That makes her a winner because El Rushbo and Glennsanity say so, over and over again.  One side has people interested in debate, the exchange of ideas, and the betterment of all.  The other side is interested in crushing the first side into bloody paste and then setting that paste on fire until all vestiges of the first side's ideals pass into myths and legends used to scare children at night.  Guess which side wins in the end?

History is written by the winners, as they say.  Even more important is the fact that laws, budgets, jurisprudence and executive orders are also written by the winners.   One side understands that.

It's not the Democrats.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Nice of CNN Money's David Ellis to let us know that the people who have made an entire industry based solely on ripping you off at the ATM with a 20% fee on a $20 withdrawal don't much like the notion of limiting those fees to 50 cents.
In fact, some experts suggest that capping fees might result in more harm than good for consumers.

One likely consequence would be a reduction in the number of ATMs. At the end of last year, there were roughly 425,000 cash-dispensing machines across the country, according to industry figures. About half of them were controlled by independent operators like Cardtronics (CATM) and Louisville, Ky.-based firm Payment Alliance.

Experts said these companies would be devastated by a fee cap since they earn nearly all of their revenue from charging customers that visit their machines.

Independent operators, as a result, might choose to operate only in locations that generated a lot of foot traffic, where a greater volume of transactions would offset the decline in fees. Some community lenders and credit unions might also rethink whether it's worth having so many ATMs for their customers.

Consumers, of course, might argue that a decline in the number of ATMs wouldn't necessarily be a terrible thing, given the glut of cash-dispensing machines.

But some experts fear the contraction would be far more severe than people expect.

"You could get an ATM wasteland," said Nicole Sturgill, research director in delivery channels for consulting firm TowerGroup.
An ATM wasteland would be horrible!  You wouldn't want that.  Continue giving your money to people so you can use your money, peons!  How dare you ask for lower fees from an industry that makes a third of your domestic profits...why they won't be able to afford to run ATMs!

Won't anyone think of the poor, poor banks?

California Schemin'

You know those deep, painful, nasty budget cuts in California that Gov. Schwarzenegger keeps talking about but wasn't really specific on?

Yeah, meet the specifics.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger asked lawmakers Friday to eliminate the state's welfare program starting in October and dramatically scale back in-home care for the elderly and disabled as part of his May budget revision to close a $19.1 billion deficit.

The Republican governor also proposed cuts to state worker compensation. Besides asking for a 5 percent pay cut, 5 percent payroll cap and 5 percent increased pension contribution, Schwarzenegger has proposed cutting one day per month of pay in exchange for leave credit.

The proposal would affect all state workers under the governor's authority, regardless of whether they are general fund or special fund employees. Employees would not be able to cash out any of this unused leave credit when they leave state service. The plan would replace the three-day-a-month furloughs, which are due to end June 30.

Schwarzenegger said the sour economy, the failure of the Legislature to make cuts he proposed in January and the federal government's failure to come up with about $7 billion leaves policymakers with no choice but to make deep cuts.
How many other states are going to look at this and go..."You know...we could do this, and people would love us."  Quite a few, I'm thinking...

And in 2010 and 2012, the GOP wants to bring California's budget to the entire country, too.  Great news!

Because hey, the people who lose welfare can just, you know, turn to the UN or something.  Works in Africa, right?

A Stimulating Debate, Part 2

Matt Yglesias argues today that a substantially bigger stimulus still would not have produced anything close to the Public Works Administration of the New Deal era, due to the kinds of government regulations we have in place for environmental impact, contract bidding, and oversight acting as a bottleneck on stimulus, defeating the purpose.
Two lessons from this. One is that I think we need some more real talk about environment-impact reports and community input—it’s good that we no longer do infrastructure projects with a total disregard for these things, but there’s a real need to transform these processes into something more streamlined that takes a finite and knowable amount of time.

The other is that we need to work much better on our automatic stabilizers. The paradox of ARRA is that even though the stimulus package was sort of enormous, in the aggregate there’s been no net public sector stimulus whatsoever once you take state and local government into account. What’s needed for future downturns is some kind of fairly automatic mechanism to prevent this state and local contractionary impact. Recall that this was also actually the big problem with the Roosevelt administration’s policy—for all the WPA-nostalgia that exists in some quarters there was almost no aggregate public sector stimulus until the World War II defense buildup. 
On the other hand Atrios strongly disagrees with that assessment that the bottleneck is there at all, if anything there's a backlog of badly needed infrastructure repairs needed thanks to Republicans cutting projects.
Yes certain kinds of projects were never going to happen with stimulus money, but there are plenty of on the shelf projects that could have happened if the money showed up. My local transit authority has plenty - not new SUPERTRAINS, just years of deferred maintenance projects (stations, bridges) - as does my local water authority. My local transit authority did get some stimulus money for projects, of course, but it could have gotten more. Maybe the money can't get out the door quite as fast as we would like, but it can get out there fast enough.
I'm going to have to go with Atrios on this one.  I look at cities like Colorado Springs having to close parks and cities across the country laying off people left and right while we've got roads, bridges, water mains, gas lines, sewers, subway tunnels, transit lines, and power grids in various states of disrepair all over the place.  Those repairs and improvements seem like worthy ways to employ Americans if we had more money to do so, but Republicans said no.  Remember, the only worthy government spending to a Republican is military.  Roads?  Those are fixed by lazy gubmint unions living like kings and young bucks driving Cadillacs.

Science Applied As A Verb

Via the Rumpies, President Obama is sending top men...TOP MEN! to science all the hell over the oil spill.
President Obama's new plan to fix the Gulf oil spill is so crazy it just might work...

As BP's high-priced industry experts flail, the president has turned to a rag-tag band of big-think scientific renegades, and sent them on a mission to somehow MacGyver a way to stop up the leak -- before it's too late.

OK, maybe that's going a bit far. In fact, the news that Obama and his energy secretary, Steven Chu, have sent a team of leading physicists and engineers to the Gulf to work with BP offers further evidence of the administration's essentially technocratic approach to governance, and its faith in knowledge-based expertise. That might seem like common sense, but it represents a shift from the Bushies' faith in the problem-solving power of industry, and its willingness to let science take a backseat to the concerns of its religious base.
 Yeah, I'll up StrangeAppar8tus's Team Banzai reference with...Misfits of Science!

Time to science this mofo.

Epic What BooMan Said Win

Here's why BooMan Tribune should be on your core list of daily reading:
Why do you read this blog? Here's why. From tonight's The Hill:

CBC could see its spending clout increase in the next Congress If House Democrats keep their majority in the next Congress, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) is likely to become chairman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations subcommittee. The only members ahead of Fattah in seniority are panel's chairman, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), who lost a primary race this week, and retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.)
Here's me, three days ago:

Don't get me wrong, like most long-time appropriators of both parties, Mollohan had long ago compromised himself and become corrupt. I'm kind of glad to see that he's gone. I'd be more enthusiastic about it if his replacement gave me hope for improvement. But, hey, West Virginia's loss will probably be Philadelphia's gain. Mollohan was the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Now that he's been defeated and Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island is retiring, the chair should go (by seniority) to my old congressman, Rep. Chaka Fattah. Of course, Fattah recently announced that he will compete in the next Congress for the chair of the entire Appropriations Committee. That doesn't surprise me. When he was running for mayor of Philadelphia, we were talking at the upstairs bar at The Khyber when he explained to me that he wasn't going anywhere in Congress. I had asked him whether he couldn't better serve Philadelphia as a member of the House Appropriations Committee. And he explained that he had no seniority and no prospects of even chairing a subcommittee anytime soon. So, he was bolting to be mayor. Except, he got crushed in the primary, so he went back to his dead-end job in DC. And now he's ready to become the first black man to be in charge of the Justice Department's budget. Amen.
I have to toot my own horn because no one else will. 
Hell, I will.  BooMan's been doing this dirty hippie blogger thing for years now and is better than 99.9% of the professional Village pundits out there when it comes to the workings of Capitol Hill, and equal to their best.  He absolutely called Chaka Fattah's expected rise, and did it before the pros did.

If you want to know what's going on in the Beltway, BooMan's got the gritty reality of Washington's Three Branch Circus down better than the big boys, and he's done it time and time again.


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