Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Last Call

Tyler Durden has found evidence of the coming Ragnarok.
...and now, S&P has just announced it has put Moody's on creditwatch negative, the reason: "We believe there may be added risk to U.S.-based credit rating agency Moody's business profile following recent U.S. legislation that may lower margins and increase litigation related costs for credit rating agencies." Just so you understand what is going on here - S&P: a credit rating agency, is downgrading Moody's, a credit rating agency, on concerns finreg will impair credit rating agencies. Well, if "suiciding" your chief competitor is the best way to approach this situation, whatever works... Next week, Moody's downgrades S&P, followed by another downgrade of Moody's by S&P, until both companies bankrupt each other with a mutual D rating. John Nash would be so proud.
Credit ratings agencies going after credit ratings agencies.  Not many people know this, but that's exactly what happened right before Atlantis sank.

Up To No Thurgood

Steve M. is on to something re: the GOP attack on Thurgood Marshall during the Elena Kagan hearings, even though GOP Senators can't name a single case that apparently typifies how Thurgood Marshall supposedly destroyed America.
But don't you see? The strategists who mapped this line of attack out didn't intend for the senators to be able to offer detailed backup for their argument. If this is going according to the usual script, the job of arguing the anti-Marshall line in detail will be handed off to a far-right Republican of non-European descent. The African American or Hispanic or Asian or Native American (maybe a woman -- a two-fer!) will write an op-ed for, say, The Wall Street Journal enumerating the supposed flaws in Marshall's jurisprudence. The op-ed will praise Marshall's role as a civil rights crusader; it will take him to task for other alleged sins. And the non-pink-skinned author of the piece will then appear repeatedly on Fox News and talk radio, restating the op-ed's bullet points.

Who's going to get the gig? Maybe Janice Rogers Brown or Miguel Estrada. Both are wingnut heroes, George W. Bush judicial appointees of color who were blocked by Senate Democrats. (Brown, who once compared liberalism to slavery in a speech, might have an approach that's a wee bit too harsh, however.) Or maybe it'll be an unknown. But righties are surely going to try to continue tarnishing Marshall, while giving themselves cover so they can say "Who, us?" when the racial dog whistle is identified as what it is.
About an 80-85% chance of that happening this week.  I'll keep an eye out.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Question for the assembled:

If you are Daily Kos's hired polling firm, Research 2000, and detailed analysis of your polling methodology by Nate Silver brings up major discrepancies, prompting Kos to then open an independent investigation of those same methodologies and then fire Research 2000 and file a lawsuit against them as a result of the analysis...

Your next step should be:

A)  Present a completely transparent process of methodology, plus the raw data you gathered, to show how you arrived at your polling conclusions.

B)  Apologize and show how your data in the past have been accurate and that you are relied on by other political news outlets.

C)  Pick a fight with Nate Silver through your lawyers that a middle school debate club could demolish.

Guess which one R2K went with?

World Cupdate

The final day of Round of 16 action took us to settle up groups F and G, with Paraguay taking on surprise Japan, and Spain and Portugal trading blows yet again.  First, Paraguay's 4-3-3 squad led by Benitez, Barrios and Santa Cruz took on Japan's 4-5-1 attack headed by Keisuke Honda.  Japan has miraculously avoided injuries and bookings and have ran the table so far with their starting eleven, while La Albirroja only have one booking suspension to deal with in Carcares out, Bonet was his replacement.  Early on the game broke out into near fistfights as both teams expressed an ardent desire for physical play and the referee didn't seem eager to blow the whistle at all.  That devolved into midfield detente' as both sides had difficulty issues penetrating the back line with 6 up, 4 back.  Both teams led sorties to probe the other's defense and were rewarded with a couple of break chances, but the defending and goalkeeping were what got both these teams into this round, and it held up during the first half.  Few shots, a couple corners and no bookings...a boring but safe match heading into the break.  In the second half, both teams saw scoring opportunities and went towards more physical play, the Samurai Blue finally picking up a few bookings, and Paraguay's defense upped their game with a couple of solid counter-strikes.  Both teams subbed in strikers for backs in order to generate offense and fought valiantly, but nothing could find the strings.  We went to overtime for only the second time in this Cup.  Paraguay exploded off the blocks to try to do Japan in with a couple of excellent chances, but keeper Kawashima blocked everything thrown at him.  Likewise, Honda's free kick was blocked out by Villar and in the second OT period, both sides went for broke but couldn't come up with anything left in the reserves to try to break the keepers.  We went to penalty shots to decide it, and Japan's Komano missed the third shot off the bar while Paraguay nailed all 5, giving them the win in what has to be a heartbreaker for the Samurai Blue.  Paraguay was the better team for most of that match however, and Japan has nothing to be ashamed of after their run.

But that brought us to Spain and Portugal in the battle for the Iberian Peninsula, and these ancient foes squared off yet again, La Furia Roja rolling out a 4-4-2 attack fronted by the dangerous Fernando Torres and David Villa, while Portugal's Shield Select went on the offensive with a 4-3-3 formation that featured strikers Cristiano Ronaldo, Almeida, and Simao.  Portugal's plan was to go on the assault and ding Spain early and they did get a few chances to do just that, meanwhile Spain was winning the set piece battle only to take ill-advised shots.  Both teams were playing trebuchet ball rather than driving in, and nothing was going anywhere near box.  While the early minutes belonged to Spain, Portugal came on very strong in the end of the first half with some brutal attacking and narrowly missed chances...but missed all the same.  In the second half Portugal went on the attack again and made a number of brilliant near misses that looked to drain  the fury out of La Furia Roja.  Meanwhile Spain looked ragged and blown out, so when both teams subbed in at 58' for fresh strikers, Danny's arrival for Spain (replacing the totally ineffective Almeida) was just the spark they needed to get back on offense.  It was David Villa off the Xavi pass at 63' that found the net as La Furia Roja came storming back.  Portugal managed to stanch the bleeding but the frustration boiled over as La Ablirroja's Ricardo Costa picked up a red card for a thrown elbow at the end of regulation and in the 3 minutes of stoppage time there was nothing doing.  Spain wins 1-0 and will face Paraguay as now only eight teams remain, and they will clash this weekend.

Don't Have The Juice

As widely expected, with the loss of Sen. Byrd and Sen. Feingold falling directly into Useful Idiot territory, the Dems now have a mountain to climb on financial reform and the bill itself is in mortal peril as "moderate" Republicans like Se. Scott Brown turn on the legislation.  The issue now is $19 billion in additional taxes on banks, and the Republicans won't stand for that.
Senate and House conferees on Wall Street reform are expected to reconvene Tuesday because of Republican objections to $19 billion in fees that would be placed on big financial firms.

The meeting would follow Sen. Scott Brown's (R-Mass.) letter to the chairmen of the conference committee on Tuesday, in which he said he would oppose the Wall Street overhaul bill as it stands.

In a letter to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Brown expressed "strong opposition" to the fees that were added in the conference process between House and Senate lawmakers last week.

"If the final version of the bill contains these higher taxes, I will not support it," he said.

Conferees had announced a deal early Friday morning, and had hoped to move to votes in the House and Senate this week.

No new conference meeting has been announced, but lobbyists and reporters are converging on the Rayburn House Office Building in anticipation of one this afternoon.

Brown had voted for the Senate's original version of the legislation before the fee was added. So had three other Republicans, but all of their votes are now in question.

The conference bill cannot be amended on the House and Senate floor, which would make a new conference meeting a requirement.
We'll see what happens, but I have been saying for months now that the Republicans will never let financial reform pass, and they are sticking right to the playbook.  When this issue is settled in conference, the Republicans will find something else to complain about and want to take out, all while running out the clock until campaign season.  It nearly worked on health care reform.  The rest of Obama's agenda:  climate legislation, immigration reform, and education reform, aren't going anywhere either.

The Republicans gain nothing if the bill passes, these financial firms have the money to pay off all sides.  But the Democrats lose with the voters if it doesn't pass.  That's been the case all along.

Let's not forget Russ Feingold's idiocy either.  Having this bill fail and making it even harder to pass it in January...that'll show em!

Playing The Paranoia Angle, Part 4

Sharron Angle is thoroughly repugnant and I just don't see how she can beat Harry Reid.  The more digging done on her past, the worse she looks.  This from January:
In a radio interview with Bill Manders on Jan. 25, Sharron Angle — the GOP candidate and Tea Party darling challenging Harry Reid for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat — came out firmly against abortion. She even took the extreme position that women should not have control over their reproductive rights in cases of rape or incest, because it would interfere with God’s “plan” for them:
MANDERS: Is there any reason at all for an abortion?
ANGLE: Not in my book.
MANDERS: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?
ANGLE: You know, I’m a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.
Rape and incest are part of God's plan?  Seriously?  We're supposed to combat getting pregnant through rape or incest with "a little faith"?  This woman can't be serious.  Of all the terrible answers to give to that question, I think that's the flat out worst.  To tell a rape victim to "have a little faith" when she's pregnant through that horrible act?  This woman's moral center looks like rotten eggplant.

And yet she is.  This is the person chosen by the Nevada GOP to run as a United States Senator.  Look, Harry Reid has his well-documented problems, but this woman is utterly bonkers.  I wouldn't trust her to run an ice cream stand on a July day, much less as a Senator.

Orange Julius Goes To Steeltown

GOP House minority leader John Boehner's truly bizarre interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review this morning is very revealing as to the GOP's 2010 strategy.  Highlights:

"The American people have written off the Democrats," Boehner said Monday in an interview with Tribune-Review editors and reporters. "They're willing to look at us again."

Boehner stopped short of predicting Republicans would gain the 39 seats they need to retake control of Congress, but he said a backlash against President Obama's policies has energized Republican voters more than Democrats. Boehner said voters are angry at a government they believe is overreaching and indifferent.
Stopped shortWasn't he predicting 100 House GOP pickups just a couple months ago?  Now he's hedging his bets?  What's going on here, OJ?
Boehner criticized the financial regulatory overhaul compromise reached last week between House and Senate negotiators as an overreaction to the financial crisis that triggered the recession. The bill would tighten restrictions on lending, create a consumer protection agency with broad oversight power and give the government an orderly way to dissolve the largest financial institutions if they run out of money.

"This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon," Boehner said. What's most needed is more transparency and better enforcement by regulators, he said.
Yeah how dare we try to prevent the next multi-trillion dollar financial bailout when they go bust at the Big Casino again. The only nuclear weapon used was on our economy.  Anyone here want to really argue the FinReg bill goes too far?

But it gets better.
Boehner said Obama overreacted to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill might warrant a "pause" in deepwater drilling, but Obama's blanket ban on drilling in the gulf -- which a judge overturned last week -- could devastate the region's economy, he said. Louisiana State University scientists estimate the ban could have affected more than 10,000 jobs. 
Wait, now Obama overreacted when the complaint was he wasn't doing enough and not showing leadership?   How does that work, OJ?
Ensuring there's enough money to pay for the war will require reforming the country's entitlement system, Boehner said. He said he'd favor increasing the Social Security retirement age to 70 for people who have at least 20 years until retirement, tying cost-of-living increases to the consumer price index rather than wage inflation and limiting payments to those who need them.
To recap, we can afford to bomb chunks of rock in some godforsaken hellhole, but we can't afford to help out retirees.  So that we don't take money away from our children and grandchildren, we have to raise the retirement age and take money away from our children and grandchildren.

Makes perfect sense, I know.  And Republicans wonder why people think they don't have any actual plans other than "Let's do whatever Obama's not doing currently!"

New Cold War, Same Old Spycraft

Yesterday's bust of a Russian spy outfit operating out of New York shows that old habits are hard to break.
"In Moscow, they will be angry," former KGB Colonel and British double agent Oleg Gordievsky told Reuters.

"'How much of the information we got was planted by the FBI -- that's what they'll be wondering in Moscow Center," said Robert Ayers, a former U.S. intelligence officer.

Saying the alleged spy group had recruited political sources and gathered information for the Russian government, U.S. authorities have charged 11 individuals with carrying out deep-cover work to learn about U.S. economic and foreign policy and intelligence and the world gold market.

Russia's Foreign Ministry called the allegations baseless and said it was regrettable that they came after Washington's call for a "reset" in ties between the Cold War foes.

Ayers said the U.S. revelations will have led to a profound "damage assessment" among Moscow's espionage leadership.

He said Russian spy chiefs would also be asking themselves: "If this group did manage to obtain classified information, will the FBI choose to reveal this in open court?"

Court papers show the group was under surveillance for years.

"You're positive no one is watching?" one of the alleged agents asks at a meeting at a New York coffee shop with an FBI agent posing as a Russian, court papers published online show.

The Justice Department documents say the group was given orders to live for years in the United States to cultivate credible backgrounds and spend time getting to know well-placed sources of information.
Ahh, the Great Game is still being played.  But if the Russians really wanted economic and security information that badly, they should just read econ and military bloggers, frankly.  If cable news outfits are just intelligence agencies with commercials and better looking operatives, national security bloggers are minus the commercials and have better writing.

Doesn't somebody over at the Russian Consulate have a subscription to STRATFOR, or read Danger Room, Zero Hedge, RGE Monitor or Long War Journal?  Roubini, Tyler Durden, Spencer Ackerman, Bill Roggio, these guys know what they're talking about, and at the intersection of military and economics you can find a hell of a lot of geopolitical motives.

For instance, if you've been watching these guys and using them to plant false flag stuff for years now, why burn them, you know, now?  What geopolitical motive changed there?  That's my question.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Who is being savaged more this week by the ghosts of revisionist history, Robert Byrd or Thurgood Marshall?

Austerity Hysteria, Wild Irish Rose Edition

Ireland's experiments with austerity measures are going very, very badly.
Nearly two years ago, an economic collapse forced Ireland to cut public spending and raise taxes, the type of austerity measures that financial markets are now pressing on most advanced industrial nations.

“When our public finance situation blew wide open, the dominant consideration was ensuring that there was international investor confidence in Ireland so we could continue to borrow,” said Alan Barrett, chief economist at the Economic and Social Research Institute of Ireland. “A lot of the argument was, ‘Let’s get this over with quickly.’ ”

Rather than being rewarded for its actions, though, Ireland is being penalized. Its downturn has certainly been sharper than if the government had spent more to keep people working. Lacking stimulus money, the Irish economy shrank 7.1 percent last year and remains in recession. 

Joblessness in this country of 4.5 million is above 13 percent, and the ranks of the long-term unemployed — those out of work for a year or more — have more than doubled, to 5.3 percent. 

Now, the Irish are being warned of more pain to come.

“The facts are that there is no easy way to cut deficits,” Prime Minister Brian Cowen said in an interview. “Those who claim there’s an easier way or a soft option — that’s not the real world.” 
Austerity measures have done nothing to help the Celtic Tiger.  The country is now trapped in a deep deflationary spiral, and there's end in sight to the pain.  Ireland's bond market is all but a ghost town, as the rapidly shrinking economy is nothing that outside investors want to throw money at.  Those investors are currently pouring into the US Treasuries.  Yesterday bonds rose and the yield is down to 3.02%.  If anything, US debt is among the safest bet out there right now.

The problem is in avoiding turning us into Greece, we're going to end up like Ireland.
Wage cuts were easier to impose here because people remembered that leaders moved too slowly to overcome Ireland’s last recession. This time, Mr. Cowen struck accords swiftly with labor unions, which agreed that protests like those in Greece would only delay a recovery.

But pay cuts have spooked consumers into saving, weighing on the prospects for job creation and economic recovery. And after a decade-long boom that encouraged many from the previous years of diaspora to return, the country is facing a new threat: business leaders say thousands of skilled young Irish are now moving out, raising fears of a brain drain. 
In other words, Ireland now is everything the deficit hawks want for America...and Ireland as a result is falling apart.  Even worse, the coming austerity measures for Germany and Britain, Ireland's major trading partners, mean that there won't be anyone to buy Irish exports.  That will wreck Ireland's economy even more.

In seeking not to make the mistakes Greece did, we also cannot make the mistakes Ireland has, either.  Ireland is where we would be now without the stimulus package enacted last year.  And without something else soon...that danger still exists.

Kaganology 201

The hearings are now upon us, and now that the hours of monologue are over, Day Two begins the hearings in earnest.  Adam Serwer gives you the rundown:
Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court has drawn glum shrugs from the left and yawns from the right, and that's probably just how the White House wants it -- they are looking for as quiet a confirmation process as possible. Because Kagan has no judicial record or large volume of academic work to speak of, Republicans have been forced to draw on even more specious arguments than usual to gin up opposition to her nomination. 
Which means conservatives risk looking like a bunch of partisan losers, especially when the arguments don't stick and Kagan makes it through even easier than Sonia Sotomayor did.   But, as Serwer reminds us, liberals have a job to do:
Kagan once argued that confirmation hearings had turned into "a repetition of platitudes." She's right -- but her nomination is in part the result of a White House eager to avoid a tough confirmation fight, and so she better be ready to call on those same platitudes to save her from a substantive grilling.

The Democrats on the committee should by no means let her get away with that. Her participation in the continued expansion of government power in the name of national security should be probed carefully. Just because most of the complaints conservatives have about her are baseless doesn't mean Democrats should give her a pass.

The president suggested that Kagan's critics don't have much to use against her. The flip side is that liberals don't really have much to like. Kagan should use the hearings to do more than deflect Republican criticisms. She should also give liberals a reason to vote for her confirmation. Barring some last minute game-changer, Kagan's road to confirmation is likely to be smooth -- all the more reason for Democrats to push for something more than the usual hollow Beltway ritual. 
Sadly, I don't see that happening.   In fact, I predict this hearing is going to be about as boring as watching cement dry, and as a result both sides are going to say really stupid things that have almost nothing to do with Elena Kagan and everything to do with a midterm election coming.

Supreme Consequences

As expected, yesterday's 5-4 ruling against Chicago's handgun ban has opened the door for legal challenges to every state and local handgun restriction in the country.

"It's going to be city by city, town by town, block by block," National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre vowed Monday. "We're going to have to work into every level to make sure this constitutional victory isn't turned into a practical defeat."

Monday's decision was somewhat predictable, in light of the justices' 5-4 decision in 2008 that first found an individual right to bear arms in the Second Amendment and the tenor of oral arguments in the Chicago case in March.

Yet it greatly expands the force and consequences of the ruling two years ago and generated new concern from city officials worried it would undercut gun laws and lead to more violence.

"Across the country, cities are struggling with how to address this issue," Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said at City Hall. "Common sense tells you we need fewer guns on the street, not more guns."

David Pope, president of the village of Oak Park, outside Chicago, which also was defending a handgun ban, said the ruling curbs local flexibility to address crime. "For a long time, we always thought it was reasonable and constitutional for different cities and towns to have different regulations," he said.

Several large cities, including Baltimore, Cleveland and Oakland, had urged the court not to rule against Chicago. They were joined by three states with urban centers, Illinois, Maryland and New Jersey, that warned if the high court extended the Second Amendment's reach, "nearly every firearms law will become the subject of a constitutional challenge, and even in cases where the law ultimately survives, its defense will be costly and time-consuming."

Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, which supports strict gun-control laws, predicted more than a new tide of lawsuits.

"People will die because of this decision," she said. "It is a victory only for the gun lobby and America's fading firearms industry."
No matter which side of this argument you're on, the direct result of this law means there will be more guns on America's streets.

The larger political issue is now that the gun battle now almost perfectly mirrors the abortion battle:  one side wants a complete ban, but the Supreme Court has disagreed, therefore the goal is to make getting one as difficult as possible.  The other side then says there's a right to have one and that more people will die without one as a result of these restrictive laws, and that government interference is wrong.

There's hypocrisy here on both sides.  I'm the kind of guy that wouldn't want to personally obtain either one, but I believe everyone should be given the freedom to exercise that choice.  I don't believe in handgun bans any more than I do abortion bans, but intelligent restrictions are needed on both.


Related Posts with Thumbnails