Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Last Call

As a good friend of mine said today on the Discovery Channel building hostage mess:

This guy is nuttier than a jar of Planter's peanuts. No doubt the Left will blame him on the Right, because one point is anti-immigration. No doubt the Right will blame him on the Left, because all the other points are pro-environment. In the meantime, he'll just keep wallowing in his thirty seven unique flavors of CRAZY.

I'm hoping that the lesson here is that times are bad enough that trying to use horrible events like this to attack another group's political agenda is benefiting precisely nobody.  Crazy and dangerous is crazy and dangerous, period.

Moose Tracks Of Clay

People don't like it when you reveal their heroes are human.  They like it even less when you reveal those heroes are flawed.
Few aspects of Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential candidacy have been more discussed than the $150,000 worth of clothing and accessories bought by the Republican National Committee’s coordinated campaign fund on behalf of the candidate and her family in 2008. Yet interviews with campaign aides and internal campaign e-mails and documents obtained exclusively by Vanity Fair shed new light on the situation, revealing Palin to have been more innocent at the start of this shopping odyssey than has previously been reported—and more knowing and more calculating as time went on.

Initially, Palin objected to the very idea of clothing being purchased for her to wear at the Republican National Convention. When she was first presented with a $3,500 jacket, an aide recalls, the price tag sent her into shock: “I don’t spend that much money on my clothes in a year,” Palin said. “I will not do this.” Aides decided, in future, to cut off the price tags, so Palin wouldn’t quite know how much was being spent. But eventually, they say, Palin grew accustomed to the privilege of a designer wardrobe—not only for herself but also for her family.
Small town girl captured by the big spotlights aside, while the right is more than happy for Palin to be "Real America's dream girl", they're much less sure about her actually running for President...even in Alaska.
Alaska may be known for its freewheeling individualism and rugged pickup truck conservatism, but a new poll on possible GOP presidential candidates for 2012 shows Alaskans giving the nod to button-down Mitt Romney over Sarah Palin in her own backyard.

The former Massachusetts governor was the choice of 20 percent of 805 Republicans surveyed, according to figures released today by Public Policy Polling. Palin, who resigned as governor of Alaska a year ago, and Mike Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, garnered 17 percent each, with Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the US House, at 16 percent, and Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas, at 10 percent.
Not a good sign for Les Mooserables.  Perhaps Alaskans are a little sore about the last time they voted her into office and she quit to go make Discovery Channel specials instead.

Teach The Young So That They May Follow

Way to go, responsible adults like Newt Gingrich, Pam Geller, and Sarah Palin!  You provide such great examples for America's kids on how Americans should act!
Five teenagers have been arrested for disrupting religious services at a mosque in upstate New York after allegedly driving by the mosque during Ramadan services, honking their horns and firing a shotgun.

The five, who are all 17 and 18, have allegedly driven by the World Sufi Foundation mosque in Carlton, N.Y., during Ramadan services twice over the past week, yelling obscenities.

Last Friday, one of them also fired a shotgun into the ground. No one was hurt. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, a felony; the others have only been charged with disrupting religious services, a misdemeanor, but more charges are expected.

Then, on Monday, when the teens drove by screaming and honking their horns, members of the mosque came running outside. One member was swiped by one of their cars and was treated for cuts and bruises. Prosecutors say they are investigating whether the member ran into the car or the driver swerved into him. 
How long do you think it'll take for the right to claim that Obama had his fascist brownshirts arrest these true-blue Islamophobic Real American kids, eh?

Bonus question:  how fast would a nice horde of folks descend on these children and their families if they were Muslim kids harassing a church service?  With a shotgun?

My lord.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Ta-Nehisi Coates wins the Internet today.

More McMath McFail

Megan McArdle takes one look at this chart:


And freaks out.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has made some splashes with this graph. I find this strangely unconvincing as a policy argument for anything.

For starters, the 0.7% of GDP that it covers only matches the shortfall for a brief period, at least according to the Social Security Trustees report. By the middle-to-late twenties, the shortfall is more than twice the amount of the Bush tax cuts on the rich. Even if we hadn't already (hopefully) earmarked this money for something else, this would be at best a stopgap measure; the program would rapidly begin putting more pressure on the budget.
It takes Ezra Klein all of 15 seconds or so to take McMegan apart.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has posted a response that's pretty persuasive, and suggests that McArdle misread one of the underlying CBO documents. So I'm calling this one for CBPP, at least for the moment.

But that leaves us with McArdle's second point: "While it is perhaps true that you could 'pay for' the Social Security shortfall by rescinding the Bush tax cuts on the rich," she writes, "that would leave a gaping budget deficit that would then have to be paid for in some other way." Well, yes. The contention is that there are better ways to pay down the deficit than raising the Social Security retirement age or cutting benefits.

People like to look at Social Security in isolation, and they routinely say there's no way we can possibly afford the program as currently constructed. The point of the comparison to the Bush tax cuts for the rich is that that's simply not true. The same people saying we can't afford Social Security's shortfall are saying we can afford tax cuts of the same size. Both things can't be true.
You know when I first saw that graph yesterday I figured "Well gosh, that's a pretty simple point."  Yes the SS shortfall will get bigger, but hey, so will the shortfall from the reduced tax revenue over the years.  Ezra's point stands pretty firmly clear here:  you can't have it both ways.

Tax cuts = revenue shortfall.  Ask any state or local budget person.  They actually have to balance their numbers.

Birther Of A Nation, Again

It's one thing to be a nutcase like Orly Taitz and make a cottage industry out of suing the President over his "long-form birth certificate" and whatnot, and people like Lieutenant Colonel Terry Lakin, who chose to face court martial over not believing his Commander-In-Chief was born in Hawaii.

But it's entirely something else to see a retired three-star general like Tom McInerney back the crazy.  Dave Weigel:

How wild is McInerney's statement? This wild:

[I]t is my opinion that LTC Lakin's request for discovery relating to the President's birth records in Hawaii is absolutely essential to determining not merely his guilt or innocence but to reassuring all military personnel once and for all for this President whether his service as Commander in Chief is Constitutionally proper. He is the one single person in the Chain of Command that the Constitution demands proof of natural born citizenship. This determination is fundamental to our Republic, where civilian control over the military is the rule. According to our Constitution, the Commander in Chief must now, in the face of serious-- and widely held-- concerns that he is ineligible, either voluntarily establish his eligibility by authorizing release of his birth records or this court must authorize their discovery. The invasion of his privacy in these records is utterly trivial compared to the issues at stake here. 

And is McInerney a serious person? Yes. He's a West Point graduate who ran the Alaskan air command during the Exxon Valdez disaster. As recently as August 5, he was featured on Fox News and referred to as a network contributor -- he's typically referred to as a network military analyst. He writes and comments fairly frequently about how America could bomb Iran. Point is, he's not some kook, and now he's staking his reputation on... this.
This is now getting beyond crazy deep into dangerous territory on the birther stuff, folks.  Orly Taitz was a harmless annoyance.  Generals doubting Obama is ineligible for command authority over the military is a serious, serious provocation.

It's not a game anymore.

Not All Obama Derangement Syndrome Is Aimed At Barack

It's all about his wife, too.
Tom Tancredo isn't going away. The former congressman and one-time presidential candidate may have upended the Colorado gubernatorial race with his third-party run, but he's still not shy to air his controversial views on national issues. In a phone interview with TPM, Tancredo discussed the gubernatorial race, the Cordoba House project, and what he really fears about Obama. He also referenced a long-standing urban legend about the Obamas' supposed war on Christmas.

"I remember a little thing, like Ms. Obama saying she didn't want any Christian artifacts in the White House during Christmas time," Tancredo said. Another problem, Tancredo said, is "hosting Ramadan events there."

Tancredo's recitation of the urban myth about Michelle Obama disdaining Christmas is just one of several instance of Tancredo ascribing an otherness to the Obamas.
Boy I remember when those mean, nasty liberals completely ripped into Laura Bush for wanting kids to be healthier and for showing knowledge of religions other than Christianity, called her "food police" and "political correctness maven" and all that...

...oh wait, except Laura Bush and the Bush family were out of bounds, unlike Democratic presidents and their families.  Funny how that works.

Beijing Calling...Or Not

As of today, September 1, you need an ID to get a mobile phone in China.
China began requiring identification on Wednesday from anyone purchasing a new mobile phone number in what it says is a bid to stamp out rampant junk messages but that some say gives the government a new tool for monitoring its citizens.
The rules apply to everyone, including foreigners visiting China for a short stay, the China Daily newspaper reported.
The paper said the regulation was "the latest campaign by the government to curb the global scourge of spam, pornographic messages and fraud on cellular phones."
But some say China is looking for a way to track people who might spontaneously join protests. Users could previously buy low-cost mobile phone SIM cards anonymously with cash at convenience stores and newspaper stands and use them right away.
"I think the government has an eye on Iran where protests were fueled by text messages and Twitter and they are doing this for social stability reasons," said Wang Songlian, research coordinator with the Hong Kong-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders.
That's part of the issue of course, but the real problem is China's not the only government cracking down on digital anonymity.  Mobile phones, texting, twitter, the Internet, all of it allows people to communicate on the go and on the fly, and without having to sign your John Hancock to it.

Governments don't like this, including our own here in the states.  Of course, we'd use the excuse "We're cracking down on terrorist communication tools" if legislation like that passed here, which I'm thinking it soon will.

Will The GOP Ground Helicopter Ben?

Count on it, says Stan Collender.
Ben Bernanke may have painted a big bullseye on the Federal Reserve when he spoke last week in Jackson, Wyoming, about the Fed providing additional stimulus if the economy needs it.

Although he wasn’t specific about what it might do and when it might do it, Bernanke clearly indicated that the Fed was ready to use the tools it had at it’s disposal to stimulate the economy given that (1) the recovery was not as robust as he thought it should be and (2) that additional fiscal policy stimulus measures were unlikely to be enacted in the current politics-of-obstruction political environment. As the minutes of its August meeting, which were released today, confirmed, Bernanke was definitely talking for a majority of the board of governors.
It’s not at all clear, however, whether Bernanke realizes that the same political pressure that has brought fiscal policy to a standstill in Washington is very likely to be applied to the Fed if it decides to move forward. With Republican policymakers seeing economic hardship as the path to election glory this November, there is every reason to expect that the GOP will be equally as opposed to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve that would make the economy better, and that Republicans will openly and virulently criticize the Fed for even thinking about it. The criticism is likely to come both before any action is taken to try to stop it from happening and afterwards to make the Fed think twice about doing more.
At this point the worse the economy gets, the more political power the GOP stands to gain in November.  It just so happens that the correlation between the two is a coincidence, of course, and that the Republicans would never try to actively sabotage the economy or anything, right?

Not like they've tried to limit as much of the recovery as they could while ignoring Bush's spending or anything.

The Post-Mortems Begin

Nate Silver asks "How did the Democrats get here?"
We talked this morning about the Democrats’ poor electoral position — already shaky, it is probably now deteriorating further — but we haven’t talked as much about why they’re in this predicament. This is for a good reason: once you get past the premise that the state of the economy plays a large role (something that pretty much everyone would agree with) this is a very difficult question to answer.
The reasons for the Democrats’ decline are, as we say in the business, overdetermined. That is, there are no lack of hypotheses to explain it: lots of causes for this one effect. The economy? Sure. Unpopular legislation like health care? Yep. Some “bad luck” events like the Gulf Oil Spill? Mmm-hmm. The new energy breathed into conservatives by the Tea Party movement? Uh-huh.
And this hardly exhausts the theories. An inexperienced White House which has sometimes been surprisingly inept at coping with the 24/7 media cycle? The poor optics associated with Democrats having had a filibuster-proof majority in theory, but not always in practice? All of the above.
These causes can’t be so easily untangled on the basis of polling evidence; there’s really no basis on which to evaluate the competing hypotheses. This is particularly so given that different types of political events aren’t isolated from one another — health care might have been unpopular, for instance, but the reason for its unpopularity may ultimately have been the economy.
Nate's touching the actual reason, but argues that it's a number of reasons, objectively.  Of course, from the Jane Hamsher/Firebagger perspective, only one thing mattered.
Rather than focus on jobs creation in a country with climbing unemployment rates, Obama spent the better part of a year focused on passing a health care bill that looks like it will play no small part in the Democratic Party’s upcoming electoral woes.

Well, we warned you.
Jane's wrong too in a sense but she too is close.   Steve M. has a good point on this.
But I don't think it's the specifics of the bill that are hurting the Democrats. They didn't have the firepower to defend any bill, and didn't realize they needed firepower.

And I also think it's the failure on jobs that's really killing Democrats. If jobs were coming back, Democrats would hold the House and Senate this fall, health care bill or not.
And again this is close but not the answer.

That of course was the fact that the stimulus was too small to get the economy back on track.  I've been saying that for 18 months now, and all the woes that Obama and the Democrats are going through can be directly traced back to half-assing the stimulus package in order to get something...anything...passed.  The car got halfway up the hill, and now it's sliding back down towards that ditch.  If the stimulus had been larger at the outset, it may have worked.  We'll never know.

Conventional Wisdom says the problem will soon belong back to the Republicans, at any rate.

Piece Talks, Peace Talks

President Obama shifts gears from Iraq to Israel today with Mideast peace talks in Washington today and tomorrow.  Special Envoy George Mitchell is hopeful, at least.
Former Sen. George Mitchell, Obama's special envoy for Middle East Peace, told reporters at a briefing Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are paying close attention to polls in the Mideast which show fear there will be many more years of intense conflict if negotiations over a two-state solution collapse.
"Now, I believe that it is an awareness of these and other realities by the two leaders and their leadership that there is a window of opportunity," said Mitchell. "A moment in time within which there remains the possibility of achieving the two-state solution, which is so essential to comprehensive peace in the region, that -- difficult as it may be for both leaders, and we recognize that difficulty for both of them -- the alternatives for them and the members of their societies pose far greater difficulties and far greater problems in the future."
Several top officials close to the negotiations said it is hard to be optimistic about a peace deal right now, but hope springs eternal because at least the Israelis and Palestinians are meeting again after a year and a half of stalled talks. And Obama is getting more personally invested in the process this week because achieving a deal is one of his administration's top foreign policy goals.
Well, that's nice and all but Netanyahu figures he's going to get a much better deal starting in about, oh, two months and some change from a much more "Israel-friendly" Congress. All he has to do is mouth the words and count on the GOP to cut Obama off at the knees after November.  The reality is this isn't going anywhere.

Hey, at least they're talking again however, right?


Related Posts with Thumbnails