Monday, June 28, 2010

Last Call

EW's Darren Franich asks:
While the world waits in quiet terror to see if 2011′s Captain America and Thor will be good/bad/worse than Punisher: War Zone, Marvel is launching a surprise attack on the small screen. Today, Marvel Entertainment created a new Television division, to be headed by Jeph Loeb, an iconic comic book writer with a lengthy TV resume. (That resume includes Lost and Heroes, so this could go either way.) There’s more information at Marvel’s website. This thing is still in the early stages, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start writing up a wish list: What Marvel characters need get their own TV show?
Given the success of losers lately in pop culture, (Glee, Big Bang Theory, etc.) I'd love to see Marvel put together a lovable losers squad:  Speedball, Squirrel Girl, Gravity, know, the really lousy superheroes with the not-so-great powers.  Have them fight the classic loser bad guys like Beetle, Stilt Man, Paste Pot Pete, and my personal favorite, The Spot.

If you want to go from D-list to B-list, I got two words for you:  Doctor Strange.  There's an excuse to have any ol' Marvel second banana superhero over:  Luke Cage, Iron Fist, US Agent, Moon Knight, Hawkeye, Vision...

Think "Dresden Files" only a slightly bigger power scale, and better costumes.

Well I'm Glad Somebody Noticed

Hey, here's a question:  If BP goes under, will it take any Wall Street megabanks with it?
After poring over documents and asking banks about their exposure to BP over the past two weeks, the Fed found no systemic risk, and hasn't asked firms to alter their credit relationships with BP, the sources told Reuters.

"The Fed gave banks' exposure to BP a passing grade," said one of the sources on condition of anonymity.

Beyond's BP survival prospects, the Fed examination underscores market uncertainty about how the spill's staggering clean-up bill might affect Wall Street, a fragile economic recovery, or the multitrillion dollar energy market.

BP until recently had stellar credit ratings and generated $30 billion of cash from its oil and gas production and trading over the last year, making it a golden counterparty for many financial firms that trade in energy, including the largest Wall Street banks.

Since April, when it began trying to plug an oil spill that has spewed up to 60,000 barrels a day into the U.S. Gulf, the company has lost $100 billion in stock market value and suffered several credit downgrades.
Everything's fine!  No problems here!  We're all fine!

Isn't this the sort of thing we should have Wall Street financial reform for?  Just asking.

Drawn And One Quartered

A new CBS/Vanity Fair poll shows that 24% of Americans believe Barack Obama was born outside the US.
Long after the question of President Obama’s birthplace should have been put to rest, a new poll shows that nearly one in four Americans believe the “birther” lunacy that the president was born outside the country. The Vanity Fair/60 Minutes poll found that 24 percent of respondents think Obama was born outside the U.S., with six percent saying he was born in Kenya, another two percent choosing Indonesia, and the remainder being unsure of his exact foreign origins.
There a two problems here:  A whole lot of Americans are convinced (we're talking tens of millions here) that Obama isn't American, and I'm not sure if the core problem is A) how stupid Americans are about things like this or B) the fact that the Village won't actively correct stuff like this.  Only 39% of the people asked got the question right:  Hawaii.

It's less Birtherism and more ignorance...but then again the only difference is that Birthers are willfully ignorant.

World Cupdate

Four teams through, four more spots left to be earned, and two decided in today's Group E/F action.  First up, the Netherlands versus Slovakia in a battle of styles, the Oranje were sidling up with a 4-2-3-1 attack led by striker Robin Van Persie, while the Repre went with a basic 4-4-2 squad with Jendrisek and Vittek on the attack.  Both teams had early chances but Holland quickly took over the midfield to try to direct the flow of the game in order to avoid the shock early goals that knocked out the USA, England and Mexico.  Slovakia tried to rush but it was Arjen Robben who stuffed in a brilliant long shot on the counter attack taking advantage of an overeager Slovakian squad at 18'.  The Oranje settled down into a control game, daring the Slovenians to go on the offense so that Holland could counter and Robben nearly did it again late in the period.  The Slovaks just weren't up to the task in the first half and the Dutch owned a good three-quarters of the field.  The second half was more of the same, the Slovaks looking unsure and the Dutch owning the midfield.  Finally with time running out the Slovaks went for broke and ran right into the Dutch counter kill on the break that resulted in a Sneijder header at 84' to seal it.  Slovakia got on the board at the bitter end when a penalty call in the box gave Vitter a goal at 90+ 4' but it meant nothing in the end, and the Dutch advanced easily 2-1.

They would meet the winner of the second game, Brazil taking on Chile in a highly-anticipated matchup where finally one of the South American teams that has all but dominated this tournament would be sent home.  The Canarinhos rolled in with a modified 4-4-2 format, led into battle by the familiar pair of Robinho and Luis Fabiano, while Chile rolled out a 4-3-3 attack, with Sanchez, Suazo, and Beausejour up top.  The real problem for La Roja however were that they were without three of their top defensive men due to bookings.  Estrada, Ponce, and Medel were all gone as a result of the ugly win over Spain, and that meant Chile's offense would have to keep them in this.  Early on it was all Chile as they put pressure on Brazil in the first ten, but Brazil absorbed it and the game moved to the midfield, both sides exploding out on breaks only to be cut off (or in Chile's case, to finish poorly). But the Selecao broke the match wide open with a Juan monster header off a free kick at 34' and then Luis Fabiano acoring at 38', and in the space of five minutes Chile's fate had all but been sealed.  They managed to drag themselves off the field before any further damage could be done, but in the second half Chile swapped in an extra striker in Jorge Valdiva and went 3-3-4, all out offense, but all that did was to allow Brazil to counter attack and Robinho drove the stake through the hearts of La Roja with a laser at 59' that finished the deal.  To their credit, Chile refused to go down without a fight...too bad they went down without actually scoring.  Even on a mediocre day the Samba Kings won 3-0 and the Dutch now have to be very, very nervous.

In Which Greg Sargent Layeth The Smack Down

Greg Sargent steps up to defend his former WaPo colleague, Dave Weigel, from the nefarious forces of...the Washington post newsroom.
Now that the smoke has cleared from the Dave Weigel mess, here's a response to the anonymous sources inside the Post who used Jeffrey Goldberg's blog to urinate on the type of opinionated journalism that Weigel, Ezra Klein and others (myself included) practice.

The sources told Goldberg that practitioners of this type of journalism are not real reporters:
"This is really about the serial stupidity of allowing these bloggers to trade on the name of the Washington Post."
"It makes me crazy when I see these guys referred to as reporters. They're anything but. And they hurt the newspaper when they claim to be reporters."
The cowardly hiding behind anonymity is pathetic enough. But let's take on the substance of this. I submit that someone can be a "real" reporter if he or she is accurate on the facts and fairly represents the positions of subjects; if he or she has a decent sense of what's newsworthy and important to readers; and if readers come away from his or her stuff feeling more informed than they were before.

There's simply no reason why caring what happens in politics -- prefering one outcome to another -- should inherently interfere with this mission. By publicly advertising a point of view, bloggers are simply being forthcoming about their filter: They are letting readers in on what guides their editorial choices. This allows readers to pick and choose communities where they can expect discussions about topics that interest them with other, generally like-minded readers.

There's no basis whatsoever for the B.S. charge that revealing a point of view of necessity compromises the integrity of the actual information purveyed. If Ezra isn't a "real" reporter, why did readers of his stuff feel more informed about the ins and outs of the health care debate than after consuming the work of a hundred other journalists? Why did readers feel more informed by Weigel's stuff about the Tea Partiers than they did by hundreds of more "objective" articles about the topic that appeared in scores of "neutral" publications?

If the reporting on these blogs isn't "real," then why do other news orgs consistently follow up on their scoops
Greg has a real point for not just himself but other "newsbloggers" out there that are quoted by newspapers and magazines as legitimate reporting sources...that's because they are legitimate reporting sources, the good ones.  More and more the real news sources are the rapid world news services like Reuters and AP, and more and more bloggers like Greg, Ezra Klein, Josh Marshall, Reid Wilson, etc. who get quoted by newspapers all the time.

They're doing the yeoman's work on this, and the Village knows it.  It's pissing them off and they cut Dave Weigel out.  But it only displays how petty the Village is.

Courting Danger

As widely expected, the Supreme Court struck down Chicago's 28-year old ban on handgun sales, and struck down the auditing board part of the Sarbanes-Oxley accounting legislation enacted after Enron, saying both were unconstitutional.

The courts however did leave open some hope for gun control laws, suggesting that while total bans were unconstitutional such as Chicago's law, some limitations on gun sales were permissible.  It was not the sweeping Second Amendment ruling that firearms advocates wanted.  However this almost certainly means state and local firearms laws will now be challenged across the country.

As far as the SOX auditing board goes, the court found it unconstitutional on grounds that the board was appointed by the SEC, and not by the President.  The court agreed.  However, again the court didn't give the sweeping ruling that corporate advocates wanted, mainly that whole SOX law was unconstitutional on the grounds that the SEC couldn't regulate corporate accounting in that fashion.

Not a real win for anyone today.

Going All In To Take Abortion Out

Orange Julius figures bringing the Stupak Amendment as the first of a new batch of laws banning abortion will earn the GOP the vote in 2010, and this time they figure they have enough Dem votes to get it passed.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced this weekend that Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) will soon introduce legislation that would bar Congress from using taxpayer money to support abortions or abortion coverage.

The legislation would extend the so-called "Hyde amendment," which in its current form only applies to Health and Human Services (mainly Medicaid) funds allocated in the department's annual appropriations bill;
the issue came up again during the healthcare reform debate when an amendment by Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Joseph Pitts (R-Penn.) to apply the Hyde language to the bill passed the House but not the Senate.

"I believe this must be the next objective for pro-life America," Boehner said, speaking Saturday at the 40th annual National Right to Life Convention in Pittsburgh, Penn. "It's clear from the health care debate that the American people don't want their tax dollars paying for abortion, and a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives agrees."
And from there Orange Julius and friends force abortion coverage into the realm of no affordability because any insurance carrier that wants to do business will have to then drop abortion coverage or include expensive riders, and then it goes downhill from there.

I really do love how Republicans consider any laws restricting the purchase of firearms as unconstitutional breaches of the rights of Americans, but pile as much restriction as they can on to the federal government regulating a woman's reproductive system.

The Senate After

Although the Senate and the country will badly miss the late Sen. Robert Byrd, the reality is the business of the United States Senate must proceed, and the time to speak of who will serve out Byrd's term is now.  That decision will be made by West Virginia's Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin.  Reid Wilson charts the path ahead:
With Sen. Robert Byrd's (D-WV) passing this morning, his constituents are mourning the loss of their long-time champion. Someone new will soon fill Byrd's seat, but it will be impossible to replace a man who held his seat for 51 years.

WV law gives Gov. Joe Manchin (D) the power to appoint Byrd's replacement. If a vacancy occurs within 2 and a half years of the beginning of the next term, the governor appoints a replacement until that next election. But state law says an election must be called if a vacancy occurs more than 2 and a half years before a term expires. Byrd's term would have had 2 and a half years left as of next week -- July 3.

But a special election is unlikely. State law says Manchin's appointment will be valid "until a successor to the office has timely filed a certificate of candidacy, has been nominated at the primary election next following such timely filing and has thereafter been elected and qualified to fill the unexpired term."

The WV primary took place May 11, making it unlikely that a special election will take place this year. And odd-year elections, used in many states to pick local officials, are a rarity in WV. In recent years, voters went to the polls only in '05, when they voted on a constitutional amendment. No elections were held in '07, '03 or '01.

Because the primary has already occured, the next opportunity to "timely file" will be Jan. '12 -- when Byrd's seat would have come open anyway. A primary would follow in May, with a special election to be held in concurrence with a general election later that year.

There is settled case law on the point. In '94, Kanawha Co. Circuit Court Judge John Hey resigned in April. A local GOP party chairman sued then-Gov. Gaston Caperton (D) to try and compel a special election for the following Nov. The state Supreme Court, in Robb v. Caperton, ruled against the local party chairman and said Caperton's appointee would serve until the '96 election, when the office would have come up for election anyway.

With an election set for more than 2 years away, Manchin has the chance to pick a successor to hold Byrd's seat. It has been an open secret in the Mountineer State for years that Manchin covets a Senate seat, and his second term as the state's chief executive expires after the '12 elections -- meaning he could very likely appoint himself.
I would think that the odds would be very good for Manchin to pull the Senate Shuffle and end up in Byrd's seat.  Whether or not that's a good idea for the Dems, I have no idea.  However with the state's primary already passed, I would think that the election will most likely not be held until 2012...I just don't see the Republicans pushing too hard on this when the seat would got to Manchin anyway.

Anarchy On Your TV Screen

Remember our old friend AL-2 Tea Party nutjob Rick Barber?  Last time we checked he was, well, completely nuts, comparing himself to George Washington leading another American Revolution.  Now he's using Abe Lincoln to declare that taxation is slavery.

No really, that's the schtick.  Taxation = Plantation.  This guy doesn't want to drown government in the bathtub, he wants to target it with artillery strikes.  Here's a guy who honestly believes he should be sent to Washington to dismantle the federal government from the inside.  I get it now, he's an anarchist, right?

I have to admit it's a better campaign slogan than "Vote for me, I'm completly f'cking insane."

An Oil And Water Reaction

Steven D over at BooMan's place catalogs the reaction to the oil disaster of Mississippi GOP Gov. Haley Barbour, and you wonder why I think it's not going to hurt Obama nearly as much as it's going to hurt these red state gubernatorial goofballs.
Out of the 6,000 National Guard troops President Obama has authorized for response in Mississippi, Haley Barbour has mobilized only 58. However, he has declared today to be a Day of Prayer “to remember the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” [...]

“The most important thing right now is the 2010 elections,” Barbour said. “We can’t wait until 2012 to take back our country.”
Fifty-eight National Guardsmen for the entire State of Mississippi? Elections the top priority right now? Any comment people of Mississippi on whether your Governor's priorities are the right ones?

Barbour on Thursday held Washington fund-raisers for the Republican Governors Association, which he heads, and for one of his political action committees, which is raising money for GOP congressional candidates. His fund-raising is receiving some national media attention and fueling speculation that he is already gearing up for a run for president in 2012.
Gosh, I'm sure Barbour would fix everything in a jiffy if he were President, just like he has done such a bang up job as Governor of Mississippi. Can't wait to see him take on Obama in 2012. Can you? 
Nope.  "Accidents Happen.  Vote Republican!"   After all not mobilizing the National Guard and then blaming Obama is much more cost-effective than actually having people clean up the mess.

The Kroog Versus Hope Itself

Paul Krugman has finally thrown up his arms and said "Screw you guys." (Emphasis mine:)
Recessions are common; depressions are rare. As far as I can tell, there were only two eras in economic history that were widely described as “depressions” at the time: the years of deflation and instability that followed the Panic of 1873 and the years of mass unemployment that followed the financial crisis of 1929-31.

Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline — on the contrary, both included periods when the economy grew. But these episodes of improvement were never enough to undo the damage from the initial slump, and were followed by relapses.

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending
Krugman's right that the G-20 deficit hawks have won, pledging to halve their deficits in just 3 years and balance their budgets in six.  The spending cuts that will be needed to do that will almost certainly break our consumer-driven economy, crash what's left of our real estate market, and render untold millions destitute as ten percent unemployment becomes the fondly remembered "good times."

The mindset not that "a rising tide lifts all boats" but "we must suffer badly now or suffer even worse later" is taking over, and it's just as incorrect as Bush's rising tides idiocy was.  We now have the greatest wealth imbalance in this country ever, and it's about to get much, much worse.

We're on a one-way bullet train back to the Gilded Age, folks.  Odds are you're not gilded.  The headline at CNBC this morning?  "Futures Rise As Obama Looks To Austerity".

Gonna get ugly, folks.


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