Friday, September 17, 2010

Last Call

What is it with self-proclaimed feminists proclaiming the world for female (Tea Party) candidates, women who honestly believe that women should submit their minds, bodies, and reproductive organs to men?

Can someone please explain this to me?  I sure as hell wouldn't vote for an African-American candidate who said "You know, we really should sit in the back of the bus."

Somebody please explain this to me.

Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Arctic Cold, Part 2

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is indeed kicking off her write-in candidacy tonight in Alaska.  Hotline On-Call:

Murkowski's decision will set up a 3-way battle between the incumbent, Miller and Sitka Mayor Scott McAdams (D), potentially turning the race on its head. Private 3-way polling has shown Miller leading, but by a narrow margin.

Murkowski will make the formal announcement tonight in Anchorage. She has been mulling her options after losing to attorney Joe Miller (R) by 1.8% -- or about 2K votes out of 110K cast.

Miller won with the backing of the Tea Party Express and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R). The Tea Party Express spent hundreds of thousands of dollars criticizing Murkowski's legislative accomplishments, and Palin campaigned against her rival in the race's closing days.

She has not formally said she will run, but her campaign is inviting reporters to call in. Murkowski spokespeople were not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon.

All I gotta say is "called this back in August".  Let the party begin.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Latest Fed numbers are that America's net worth has dropped from $65.8 trillion to $53.5 trillion, a loss of $12.3 trillion dollars, since 2007's peak.  That's how much this recession has cost us.

We tried to fix it with an $800 million stimulus package, less than ten percent of that amount.

Here endeth the lesson.

Hangin' In the Clubhouse

The GOP '12 crowd is hanging out at the Values Voters Summit in DC today, where the Republican hopefuls get to kiss the ring of the Dominionist right.  This year's VVS is no exception.

All the big boys from the moral side of things are here: Bill Bennett, Gary Bauer, Liberty University Law Dean Mat Staver (perhaps best known for telling Newsweek just after the 2008 election that President Obama is not the anti-Christ, but he "can see how others might" think he is), Sean Hannity, Phyllis Schlafly, anti-abortion heartthrob Lila Rose, the xenophobic Bryan Fischer and many, many more are scheduled to speak. Of course the star is FRC's president Tony Perkins, the man who keeps hope alive for the moral warriors of the right, batting down any chance that the GOP will shift too far away from it's traditional, religious-moral core.

And despite the tea party's public arm's-length distance from social issues out on the campaign trail, virtually all of it' political stars will be glimmering from the podium, including the newest and brightest star of the week, Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell. She'll be joined by tea party heavyweights Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and wannabe tea party heavyweight Newt Gingrich. Other political contenders scheduled to appear include Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. 

And that's the important part of all this.  This event is to show the Tea Party that they need the Dominionists, and the Dominionists need to show the Tea Party faithful that they are behind them as well.  It's full and complete integration of The Crazy into the Republican Party here, and it will all be on display this weekend.

Should be as depressing as it is hysterical.

Less Than Zero

The new inflation numbers for the month are very interesting.

Consumer prices posted a small rise in August, but outside of a big jump in volatile gasoline prices, inflation was essentially flat.

Consumer prices edged up 0.3 percent in August, matching the July increase, the Labor Department said Friday. Core inflation, which excludes food and energy, showed no increase in August.

So, consumer prices are going up due to commodities speculation.  Investors are putting money into basics like corn, wheat, sugar, rice and pork and that is raising the price on food.  At the same time, oil continues to hover between $70 and $80 a barrel so gas prices are still holding around the $2.80-$3 mark,  making things expensive despite the plentiful over-supply of oil products in the pipelines right now.  The flocking to commodities and continued high oil prices are providing inflationary pressures at the basic consumer level.

At the same time, core inflation excluding food and energy is basically in deflation right now due to the housing market's continuing massive depression.  Big ticket items like cars, washers and dryers, new PCs, all of those items are facing steep price pressures and discounting.  That's causing significant deflationary pressures.

Right now, those two forces are in balance, resulting in the near-zero inflationary rate figures for the year.  Economists call this "bi-flation".  It's not a good thing, because one of the two will have to crack and soon, leading to a painfully bad amount of the other.

All evidence points to that cracking being a flight out of the dollar to commodities, which will lead to big time inflation if not hyper-inflation.  The question is when.  In the meantime, there's plenty of opportunity to get trapped in an Ireland-style deflationary spiral, especially if the supports are cut by the Austerity Hysterics.

Neither one is going to be much fun to go through.  I think we're headed for a whipsaw ride from one to the other, and soon.

Irish Eyes Are Crying, Part 2

The whole world cries with you.  Lot of nice, pretty green to be burned here as the Greek Fire spreads to the Emerald Isles. Tyler D has the goods:

And the euro seemed so happy after its recent surge, that it completely forgot it is backed by an insolvent continent. Luckily, here's Ireland to remind us stuff is much, much worse than expected. According to the Irish Independent the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore, came very close to suggesting that Ireland is considering defaulting on its debts "when he talked about the Government "negotiating'' with bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank." Additionally, the same newspaper also reported that Ireland is on the verge of calling in the IMF for a bailout, citing "a report from Barclays, one of Europe's largest banks, said Ireland may yet need financial help from the IMF or the EU if conditions got any worse. But a spokesman for Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said last night: "The Government's strategy for dealing with the economic and financial challenges has been commended by the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and many other international experts." In other words, domino #2 has at most a few more days. Net result of all this: Irish-Bund spread explode, and gold hits a new all time high of $1,282.

So, odds are very good that within the week, and very possibly over the weekend, that Ireland will be waving the white flag instead of the green, white, and orange one.

Remember folks, it was Ireland's steep austerity plan that was supposed to prevent any need for a bailout, It was held up as a plan that the Austerity Hysterics here said we needed to follow immediately or that we would drown in a Keynesian catastrophe.  Spending cuts now!

But as I've been saying for months now, Ireland's austerity plan has failed miserably.  They are now trapped in a deflationary spiral along with plummeting real estate values, and the spending cuts have all but locked up the economy like an engine with no oil.  They've been at it for two years now, and it's gotten to the point where they need a major infusion of spending or the Irish economy is going to have a fatal heart attack.

Ireland now is where we would be without the Obama stimulus:  on the verge of needing a major IMF bailout that will dwarf Greece's hundreds of billions of Euros.  Our mistake was we went with half a tank of gas instead of no gas like Ireland and we're coasting on fumes again.  Ireland on the other hand is about to come to a complete halt.

Keep a careful eye on Ireland for the rest of the month.  The bailout is coming, and it's not going to be pretty.

On the other hand, all bets are off on the Irish bailout should Portugal need a bailout first...

By The Time I Get To Arizona, Part 12

Oh, this will end well.  I can feel it.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he is ramping up his fight against illegal immigration and is calling on armed volunteers to do the patrols.

Sheriff Joe is always talking about his department’s efforts to crack down on illegal immigration but now he wants to commission a posse whose only job will be to enforce illegal immigration and human smuggling laws.

The sheriff explains, “We have 57 different posses. I want 58.”

Arpaio says posse 58 will be devoted solely to illegal immigration. “I want a little specialized unit. I think it's time to do that.”

Details are sparse but, like the sheriff's other posses, this one will be made up of armed volunteers who will patrol rural areas looking for border crossers and human smugglers.

The sheriff explains, “I want to concentrate more in the desert, maybe that’s where our air posse helicopters can help out because a lot of smugglers are crossing the desert. I like to get to them before they get to Phoenix.”

Latino activist and Arpaio-foe Salvador Reza says Arpaio's announcement is meaningless because the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office already does sweeps and patrols. “He does this to create havoc and also to create fear,” Reza says. He says volunteer posse members who do not have full police training will likely make mistakes. Reza says, “The posse are just a bunch of inept people that are running around in sheriff’s marked cars.”

Because the best way to defuse a high-tension situation like this is to add more civilians with guns to the mix.  That'll help.  Nobody will get hurt here.  And you wonder why this clown is under DoJ investigation. 

Can you imagine what would happen if there were a black sheriff in Kansas or Oklahoma leading armed civilian posses on patrol?  What about a Latino sheriff deputizing folks in Florida or California?  What would America say about a Muslim sheriff doing the same thing in Texas?

I'm all for law enforcement, but I also believe it should be left to trained professionals.  What Arpaio has is goon squads meant to terrify the public.  Period.

There's Some Fight Left In Them Yet

The Dems are finally going on the offensive in the Senate, looking to pass two measures as attachments to the yearly defense appropriations bill.  The first is a repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and the other is the DREAM Act, allowing a path to citizenship through military service.  BooMan runs down the specifics:

As you probably know, the Defense Appropriations Bill is the most must-pass bill in existence. If it doesn't pass our troops are left in the field with nothing but their genitalia in their hands. If you want to pass something that cannot otherwise pass, you attach it to the Defense spending bill. That's also why Harry Reid is including language in this year's bill that will end the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. He's letting the Republicans offer an amendment to strip that language out, but they'd need 60 votes to accomplish that, and there's not a chance in hell that they can pick up 19 Democrats to maintain a homophobic law.

McCain is probably more pissed off about the Democrats giving something important to both the Latino and the LGBT communities on the eve of the midterms than he is about the procedure being used.

Maybe the procedure isn't pretty, but it's payback for the Republicans' unprecedented obstruction. The Democrats will put the DREAM Act in the Defense Appropriations bill and defeat any effort to keep Don't Ask, Don't Tell before they recess for the elections. They will also force the Republicans to vote for or against keeping tax cuts for 97% of Americans, and then for or against keeping tax cuts for our richest three percent. It helps to be able to set the agenda.

Meanwhile, the Republicans will spend much of their time trying to explain their fondness for rape babies and hatred of Social Security, Medicare, and masturbation. 

It's not pretty in the least, but both measures absolutely belong in a defense related bill as they are military personnel issues,  and let's face it:  Republicans have filibustered both measures in the Senate for the last six months.

The question now is whether or not the Democrats are willing to follow through on this plan.  Republicans have vowed not to hand any more legislative victories to Obama and the Democrats, especially six weeks before the election where the Dems can point them out.  The Republicans are going to do everything they can to scuttle a bill that must pass for our troops in the field and then blame the Democrats.

The Democrats have put support from both LGBT and Latino communities on the line here, not to mention military families.  If the Dems fold on this, they are most likely going to get savaged as the base decides "You know what?  These Democrats can't get things done."  (The same goes for the middle-class tax cuts, too.)  It's a gamble.  The Republicans know they can break the Dems' backs if they can force them to drop the DADT and DREAM Act measures.

So, the question then becomes "Will the Dems hold out?"  The Republicans have already shown that they'd rather see the country burn than pass legislation that the Democrats can take credit for that helps the economy.  Will they be willing to kill the defense bill?  The Democrats need to operate with the assumption that they will and have to be prepared to go the mattresses on this.

We'll see.  The election could be on the line over this.

What Are They Up To?

Politico is reporting that the GOP indeed plans to roll out their policy initiatives over the next two weeks.  What do they include?

Nobody's really sure, and the Republicans aren't eager to deal with specifics.

One of the GOP proposals would require bills to have a specific citation of constitutional authority, on the heels of criticism that Democrats breached their constitutional limits in Congress with big-ticket bills like health care reform. If a member questioned whether the House had constitutional authority to pass a bill, that challenge would receive debate and a vote.

The second major initiative would encourage — though not require — members of Congress to read bills before they vote. According to a senior House GOP source, Republicans plan to push for a new rule that would require the House to publish the text of a bill online at least three days before the House votes on it, also giving the public an opportunity to review legislation.

Other bills and initiatives that are likely to be launched alongside the agenda include tax policy proposals, health reform proposals and jobs-related measures, though GOP aides involved declined to release any specifics ahead of the unveiling. 

So another tool for gridlock and obstruction with this additional "Constitutional debate" junk, and we promise to read bills!

Exactly how that's supposed to fix the housing market and spare America from a double-dip recession or help us create the 8 million plus jobs we need to get back to 2007 levels of employment, well we're not too sure.  Here's the best part:

Top GOP aides stressed that the specifics of some of these priorities may not be resolved in the next few weeks.

If it takes until next Congress to get things done, so be it. But we’re not waiting,” one Republican aide said.

Translation:  we have no idea how to fix anything and we're not going to tell you what we plan to do until after the elections, but you should vote for us anyway!

You know, if the GOP has a plan to fix things, why not tell us what it is?  As a voter I'm more than willing to listen to ideas to help all of us out of this dismal hole we're in.  So let's hear it, guys.


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