Monday, May 24, 2010

Last Call

John Cole has a point tonight as there's a deal between Congress, the White House, and the Pentagon about a Congressional repeal of DADT coming as soon at this week.
If he’d really cared, he would have signed an executive order on day one and said “F- You bigots,” then it would have counted and Democrats would be motivated to go to the polls. But this doing things through the legislature so it is permanent and official and successful- that’s not the hope and change we signed up for. Where’s the passion! Where’s his inner Truman FDR George Bush…
In the end this guy gets things done.   Keep that in mind sometimes.

Imagine All The People

Via Media Matters, imagine if there was a state over the weekend where 30,000 people turned out to protest the government.  Imagine they marched on the state capitol building and peacefully but impressively called out the governor of that state for destroying their economy.

It happened over the weekend.  You didn't hear about it because they weren't Teabaggers They were union protestors in New Jersey, marching against GOP Gov. Chris Christie's massive state jobs cuts.
More than 30,000 angry New Jersey residents marched to the state capitol Saturday, delivering a blistering message to the governor in an effort to protect their turf and their paychecks.

At times resembling both a rock concert and a pep rally, more than 30,000 union employees and community activists gathered for a massive protest at the capitol to blast the governor.

"He has absolutely forfeited every one of his promises," teacher Anna Kimerly said.

It's a budget they say cuts to the bone.

"Fifty thousand parents will be denied health coverage," Bruce Davison said.

The emotions matched the size of the biggest crowd state police had seen in years, with signs calling Governor Chris Christie the biggest loser, a liar, and someone who duped them.

"We ask the governor, while school system is trying to teach diversity and anti-bullying, to stop being the biggest bully in the state," James Harris, of the NAACP, said. 
But you didn't hear about it because all these teachers, health care workers, NAACP members and working class Americans don't count as "Real Americans", not to the GOP, not to the Village, and never to the Teabaggers.  These are the people who are supposed to suffer so that Republicans can have more tax cuts.

If a tenth of these people had shown up as Teabaggers, it would have been national front page news.

2012 As 1980: We've Been Here Before

Over at Zero Hedge we get a gaming out of the worst-case scenario in 2011 and 2012: the inflation of the Carter years leading to the GOP taking back everything in two years.   How bad is it?  President Sarah Palin bad.
The $887 billion stimulus wad has now been mostly spent or committed, delivering us with a couple of quarters of decent growth. The effect was no doubt help by the Fed’s ZIRP strategy and massive housing subsidies. The “V” is in. Once the effects of this spendfest wear off, we slip back into a deep recession, setting up the classic “W.” Unemployment stays stick in the high nines, and around 18% when you throw in discouraged job seekers, jobless college graduates, and those with expired unemployment benefits, and the underemployed. This afflicted Franklin D. Roosevelt in the thirties.

So Congress passes another $1 trillion reflationary budget. Everybody gets wonderful new mass transit upgrades, alternative energy infrastructure, smart grids, and bridges to nowhere. But with $2 trillion in extra spending packed into two years, inflation really takes off. The bond market collapses, as China and Japan boycott the Treasury auctions. The dollar tanks big time, gold breaks $2,300, and silver explodes to $50. Ben Bernanke has no choice but to engineer an interest rate spike to dampen inflationary fires and rescue the dollar, taking the Fed funds rate up to a Volkeresque 18%. %. The stock market crashes, taking the S&P well below the 666 low we saw in March. Housing, having never recovered, drops by half again, wiping out more bank equity, and forcing the Treasury to launch TARP II.

The bad news accelerates into the 2012 election year. Obama is burned in effigy; Sarah Palin is elected president on a “Tea Party” platform, and immediately sets to undoing all of his work. Republicans, reinvigorated by new leadership, and energized by a failing economy, retake both houses of congress. National health care is shut down as a wasteful socialist mistake, boondoggle subsidies for alternative energy are eliminated, and the savings are used to justify huge tax cuts for high income earners. We invade Iran, and crude hits $500.

If you’re over 50, and all of this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because we’ve been through it all before. Remember Jimmy Carter? Remember the “misery index,” the unemployment rate plus the inflation rate, which hit 30, and catapulted Ronald Reagan into an eight year presidency? A replay is not exactly a low probability scenario. This is why virtually every category of risk asset has melted down in the last two weeks. It’s also why the investing public is gun shy, favoring bonds over stocks by a ten to one margin. Are the equity markets pricing in these possibilities? Not a chance.

The risk of economic Armageddon is still out there. Personally, I give it a 50:50 chance. Batten the hatches, and please pass the Xanax.
Even a coin flip chance of this happening should scare the utter crap out of everyone.  What's worse, this doesn't begin to price in the true costs of the Deepwater horizon oil spill, either.  Certainly it's a worst-case scenario.  But it's important to remember what's at stake here in the economy, the Fed, and in the 2010 elections to boot.

Austerity Hysteria

Here's what you can look forward to with a GOP Congress again, folks.

Q: Senator Gregg, is there a point, you think, when the government has to sort of end these ever-continuing claims?
Gregg: Yeah, right now. This week, however, we’re going to extend it again. And this has become counterproductive. We’re basically undermining the cyclical event. Because you’re out of the recession, you’re starting to see growth and you’re clearly going to dampen the capacity of that growth if you basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment. Yes, it’s important to do that up to a certain level, but at some point you’ve got to acknowledge that we’re not Europe.
This is what I mean by "austerity measures are coming to the United States."  They will be a certainty if the GOP regains control of Congress.  And the Teabaggers are leading the way in cutting the net out from under everyone.  This makes sense after all, as they tend to be rabidly conservative older, wealthier white Americans.  They got theirs.  They're coming for yours.

So You Had A Bad Day

The week in Randmentum:

All of a sudden things aren't looking too good for RandCat.  The Village Victim card doesn't work when the rest of the GOP is too busy throwing you under the bus too.

The Firebagging Begins Again

The firebagger attacks on Obama's response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster are in full swing now, and it's former Clinton campaign operative Peter Daou leading the charge over at HuffPo.
The administration seems miffed and mystified that it is being criticized. After all, it can reel off dozens of swift actions taken in the aftermath of the spill. The White House's defenders want the spotlight aimed exclusively at BP. But this is a situation where body language and words are just as important as actions. Scheduling an 'angry' presidential news conference weeks after oil started gushing into the Gulf waters is exactly the wrong thing to do. Authentic anger isn't something you turn on for the cameras and leak to the press the previous day. Indignation and defensiveness are precisely the wrong message...
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs faced a barrage of questions at his daily briefing about why the federal government is not intervening to take over responsibility for the cleanup from BP. "Again, we are overseeing the response, OK?" Gibbs said just hours before the news about the commission broke. "I don't know what you think - we're - we're working each and every day. That's why Secretary (Steven) Chu - the Department of Energy - it sounds technical. The Department of Energy doesn't have purview over oil, oil drilling. That's not in their governmental sphere."
That this lame response from various quarters of the administration, Congress, the media and the public comes on the heels of a banner year of climate denialism is no coincidence. We are at an inflection point, one that will likely determine the fate of our species. Green-haters have been winning the message war, the all-important battle of public opinion. If those of us who want to salvage and protect our earth don't rise in righteous anger and use this moment to cement our case, then we have failed ourselves and future generations. 
Here's the problem.  On one hand, I've said before that without a strong response from the Obama administration, these attacks were going to be inevitable, and that response has in fact not been good enough yet...not even close.

On the other hand, Daou's righteous indignation, while justified, doesn't serve much of a useful purpose here. Blaming Obama for this catastrophe only helps the Republicans get back in power in November, and the response from the GOP on this will absolutely be far worse.  Crap like this is uncalled for.
This isn't Katrina II, it's worse. As the oil keeps gushing and the damage keeps growing, we are squandering a rare chance to turn the tide against those whose laziness and greed and ignorance is imperiling every living thing on our wonderful and beautiful - and wounded - planet.
This will fix the oil geyser, how exactly?  This will keep the Republicans from continuing to rape the environment how exactly?  To their credit, the Firedoglake crew actually has a list of things the Obama administration should be doingBut hanging the "Obama's Katrina" albatross on Obama isn't going to do a goddamn thing to fix this mess, and Peter Daou knows that.

The wingers are gleefully screaming "Even the liberal Huffington Post..." this morning.  Good work, Pete.

The good news is we're finally seeing the Obama Administration threaten the big stick on BP:  The DoJ.
BP, whose shares have dropped from £6.50 to £5.17 since the disaster began, is now blocking the EPA from publishing the reasons it has given for refusing to stop using Corexit, citing commercial confidentiality. The agency is therefore "evaluating all legal options". 

Company executives may soon have to worry about the prospect of criminal charges. The White House says Justice Department officials are also in the region following President Obama's announcement on Saturday of a formal inquiry, which he said could lead to possible prosecutions. 
It's a start.

Moose Lady Thinks You're A Moron

Because she believes you'll never remember her campaign slogan in 2008 was "Drill baby drill".
With the PR disaster surrounding British Petroleum reaching near cataclysmic proportions, Palin must have sensed it politically opportune to attack that which has so bolstered her own career, which is exactly what she did during a Sunday television appearance.

Speaking during a Fox News segment, Palin suggested campaign contributions may explain why Obama was "taking so doggone long to get in there, to dive in there and grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico."

"I don't know why the question isn't asked by the mainstream media and by others if there's any connection with the contributions made to president Obama and his administration and the support by the oil companies to the administration," she added.

"We were there immediately," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs clarified, speaking to reporters the same day.
To recap, Sarah Palin, the former half-term Governor of Alaska, is attacking Obama on his ties to oil companies.  This is a woman who ran the most pork-laden state in the country, a state that literally gives out paychecks to Alaska residents based on oil revenues for the state every year, a woman who demanded we drill in the national wildlife refuge in her own state, a woman who bragged about a deal for a huge gas pipeline being built in her state, is attacking Obama on his ties to an energy company.

This is pretty much like Darth Vader complaining that Luke Skywalker has anger issues.

And yes, Sarah Palin thinks you're a complete and utter idiot.  She believes you will ignore all this and say "Obama's in BP's pocket!"  She is literally the least qualified person in national politics to make that claim.

This Week On The Roller Coaster

News over the weekend that the Spanish government nationalized savings bank Cajasur has completely spooked the markets, and today looks like another brutal day on the Wall Street roller coaster.  That's dropping the euro like a rock again and who knows how this week will turn out as we finish out May.  Even better news:
The move highlighted the weakness of the banking sectors of some euro zone members, which are already suffering from fiscal problems and struggling to bring down their budget deficits.

Spain's largest workers union said on Monday the country was heading for a general strike in protest at the government's austerity measures, although it preferred not to call one.

"Essentially the Bank of Spain news was an excuse for more selling, and the longer-term picture in euro/dollar is lower," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

"There are wider concerns that a debt problem can't be solved with more debt and about the effects of austerity measures on growth," he added.
You mean austerity measures might not fix this problem either?  Somebody better tell Mike here that he needs to get on the approved script, that austerity measures are the way to go...because they're coming here at some point.

StupidiNews Focus: Israeli Nukes Edition

Today's Guardian report is the second "this proves the existence of Israeli nukes" story I've seen now in less than three weeks.  The first one was all about the IAEA's meeting on June 7th and how Israel's nukes would be on the agenda.  It was a tacit admission, but not a direct one.  Today's story is absolutely an admission from Israeli defense minister Shimon Peres that Israel had nukes as early as in '75...and 35 years later, Peres is now Israel's President.

You'd better believe there are some frantic phone calls being made in Tehran, Tripoli, Riyadh, Dubai, and all around the Middle East this morning.

But the fact that Israel was trying to sell nukes to apartheid South Africa should really make Israel hang its head.  Who was South Africa going to use those nukes on?  Juan Cole has an idea:
The White South African government appears to have wanted to buy Israeli nuclear-tipped missiles for potential use against Black African neighbors such as Angola, Botswana, Zambia and (at certain points) Mozambique– countries against which the rogue regime often launched cross-border raids.

It is worth remembering what kind of pariah, racist and repressive regime Apartheid South Africa really was. Non-binding UN Security Council resolutions starting in the 1960s discouraged conventional arms sales to the regime, much less nuclear weapons! (The UN-imposed arms sale ban became mandatory on member states in 1977, shortly after the Israeli offer had been made).
The similarities in aparteid South Africa and "two-state" Gaza/West Bank are startling, are they not?  LG&M's Robert Farley sums it up:
“Correct payload” could conceivably mean something other than a nuclear warhead, but it’s fair to say that the inference is likely correct. It should also be emphasized that the sale would have required Prime Minister Rabin’s approval, although there’s little reason to think that Peres would have made the offer without Rabin’s knowledge. Let’s put it this way; if this sort of evidence emerged about a potential deal between North Korea, Syria, and Iran, the Israeli response could hardly be characterized as tepid.
How much play this will get inside the US is anyone's guess.  I expect Hillary Clinton to be asked about this report should she give any sort of presser today from China.


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