Monday, May 30, 2011

Last Call

Brian Mooney's piece in the Boston Globe about Mitt Romney and the MassCare program is definitely worth a read, if only to witness Mittens refusing to throw the plan under the bus.

Some of these critics maintain that Romney must disavow the Bay State health reform to have any chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
He will not.
“Overall, it was a positive approach,’’ Romney said in a Globe interview for this story. “I’m proud of the fact we took on a real tough problem and moved the ball forward.’’
“I know this is going to get a lot of conversation,’’ he said, “but the health of the people in Massachusetts is more important to me than the health of my political prospects.’’
During a 51-minute interview, he used a variation of that line three times.

Mitt can't disown the program, frankly.  But that is the reason you can 100% count Romney out of the 2012 race.  He never had a chance, because for the GOP to accept it is for the GOP to accept the PPACA, and that will never happen.  It's nice of the Globe to try to sell the plan to the Republican primary voters, but they will never go for it.

But by all means, he should consider running still.  Nothing I like to see more than Republicans wasting political donations and news column inches on folks like Mitt Romney.

The Institution Leaves The Institution

The big sports news here in Ohio is legendary Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel resigning his position.

Jim Tressel, head coach of The Ohio State University football program, has resigned, the school said in a press release.

“After meeting with University officials, we agreed that it is in the best interest of Ohio State that I resign as head football coach," Tressel said in a statement.

Assistant coach Luke Fickell will serve as interim coach next season, the school said. The search for a new head coach won't begin until after the 2011-2012 season ends.

The school fined Tressel $250,000 in March and suspended him after learning he failed to acknowledge that some of his players may have violated NCAA rules.

“In consultation with the senior leadership of the Board of Trustees, I have been actively reviewing matters attendant to our football program, and I have accepted Coach Tressel’s resignation,” President E. Gordon Gee said in a statement. “The University’s enduring public purposes and its tradition of excellence continue to guide our actions.”

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith said the school had been investigating Tressel since January.

"Obviously I'm disappointed that this happened at all," Tressel said in a press conference in March. "I take responsibility for what we do at Ohio State tremendously seriously ... and obviously I plan to grow from this. I'm sincerely saddened by the fact that I let some people down, and that I didn't do some things as well as I could possibly do."

Tressel brought the Buckeyes seven Big Ten titles in ten years, as well as a national championship.  But the truth of the matter is that he bent the rules to the point of fracture doing it.  His guys were selling Ohio State championship merchandise under the table, and Tressel was clearly looking the other way.

The larger problem is the NCAA itself and the billion dollar business of college football, of which the athletes see basically nothing.  Tressel's sacking is only a symptom of a much deeper infection in the sports world.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

I've stayed out of the whole Anthony Weiner's fake underwear picture on Twitter nonsense, mainly because it looks like Andrew Breitbart is behind it.  Daily Kos has a pretty good rundown of the hoax and how it was pulled off, and Gawker notes that all the evidence points to a massive hoax that surprise!  Andrew Breitbart fell for/ran with.

Gennette Cordova, the Seattle-area student who received a picture of an erection covered in underwear from the Twitter account of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D - N.Y.), released a statement on Sunday, categorically denying she is Weiner's "mistress" and cataloging the harassment she received from jeering conservatives on Twitter.

Cordova's account, published in the New York Daily News, would seem to corroborate the theories of DailyKos user Stef, who tracked down the original source of the allegations against Weiner, Twitter user "patriotusa76" (real name Dan Wolfe).

As Stef notes, Wolfe appeared to have "foreknowledge that something was going to go down," and Tweeted obsessively about Weiner and "young girls." Cordova writes that she had been "harassed" by a Twitter user ever since Rep. Weiner had started following her; it seems clear that Wolfe was that Twitter user, and may be the person responsible for the congressman's errant Tweet.

Cordoba identifies this website as "suggesting" that she is the congressman's "mistress"; we believe we treated the claims being made with fairness, and regarded BigGovernment's sources with the proper amount of skepticism. Frankly, given the horrible journalistic track record of Andrew Breitbart and (which broke the story), we're inclined to believe her. But her statement doesn't necessarily vindicate Weiner, either — the Tweet still came from his account, and it's unclear how or why.

But the idiots on the right ran with this story all weekend, and Andrew Breitbart was at the head of the pack.  And yet, this assclown is still treated like a legitimate journalist.  At absolute best-case, Breitbart totally dedicated his website and resources to smear Weiner with a fake scandal.  At worst, he created the hoax in the first place.

Somebody explain that to me how he's still employed at CNN.

Oh and ABL makes the very, very good point that Gennette Cordova is the real victim here all because Andrew Breitbart doesn't give a good god damn about who or what ends up destroyed in the collateral damage of his steaming pile of internet bullshit.  Yes, the target was Weiner, but he's a public figure and there are laws and resources that he has to protect himself.  Gennette Cordova?  Innocent.  Happened to be on Twitter.  Now her life is turned upside down, being accused of being Weiner's mistress.  The right wing assholes are circling around her like sharks in the tank, and who's going to stand up for her against this deluge of harassment?

Who is going to put her life back together?  Breitbart?  Why is it okay for him to do this and walk?

The Kroog Versus Structural Unemployment

Paul Krugman argues that both our political parties have largely surrendered to the unemployment issue and he's right:  Republicans refuse to do anything about it other than believe in the fantasy that cutting corporate taxes for companies that already pay no taxes thanks to loopholes will magically create jobs, and Democrats are too weak to stand up to the Republicans.  Krugman points out that there are things our political leaders could do...but Democrats will not do them, and Republicans will make sure those things don't get least until Republicans are back in charge.

Bear in mind that the unemployed aren’t jobless because they don’t want to work, or because they lack the necessary skills. There’s nothing wrong with our workers — remember, just four years ago the unemployment rate was below 5 percent.

The core of our economic problem is, instead, the debt — mainly mortgage debt — that households ran up during the bubble years of the last decade. Now that the bubble has burst, that debt is acting as a persistent drag on the economy, preventing any real recovery in employment. And once you realize that the overhang of private debt is the problem, you realize that there are a number of things that could be done about it.

For example, we could have W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads — which would also, by raising incomes, make it easier for households to pay down debt. We could have a serious program of mortgage modification, reducing the debts of troubled homeowners. We could try to get inflation back up to the 4 percent rate that prevailed during Ronald Reagan’s second term, which would help to reduce the real burden of debt.

So there are policies we could be pursuing to bring unemployment down. These policies would be unorthodox — but so are the economic problems we face. And those who warn about the risks of action must explain why these risks should worry us more than the certainty of continued mass suffering if we do nothing.

In pointing out that we could be doing much more about unemployment, I recognize, of course, the political obstacles to actually pursuing any of the policies that might work. In the United States, in particular, any effort to tackle unemployment will run into a stone wall of Republican opposition. Yet that’s not a reason to stop talking about the issue. In fact, looking back at my own writings over the past year or so, it’s clear that I too have sinned: political realism is all very well, but I have said far too little about what we really should be doing to deal with our most important problem.

As I see it, policy makers are sinking into a condition of learned helplessness on the jobs issue: the more they fail to do anything about the problem, the more they convince themselves that there’s nothing they could do. And those of us who know better should be doing all we can to break that vicious circle. 

It's jobs, stupid.  But nobody in Washington seems to care.  And that's a massive problem for both parties and an even bigger one for America itself.

Practical News: Plate Replaces Food Pyramid

(CNN) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is planning to swap in a plate icon for the food pyramid this week, an individual familiar with the new guidelines told CNN Saturday.
The new image, expected to be unveiled Thursday, is meant to help remind Americans to make healthy food choices.
"We presume that it will be divided into sections that will show you how much of different types of foods you should be eating," said Elizabeth Cohen, CNN senior medical correspondent, about the plate image.

That's actually a really good idea.  Visual reminders with symbols reminding us to exercise are pretty useless, but to demonstrate what a plate should look like and give a visual reminder of what a balanced meal should look like is a step in the right direction.  For those who need help with portion control, neither visual tool is a deterrent.  For those who tend to starch up or neglect proteins, this is a chance to compare and see what changes can be made.

Welcome Back, Paget

Paget Brewster is returning to Criminal Minds.  She had a role on the pilot for another series, but it was not picked up and she is returning to the role of Emily Prentiss.  I'm happy to see her return, and A.J. Cook will continue her role as well.  The only contract still being negotiated is that of Thomas Gibson, but there has been no mention of trouble.

Does this mean they will finally tie up some loose ends?  I admit it's one of few series I watch, and I hate to see a good team fall apart.  I'm glad I'm not alone.

Correct Him If He's Wrong

Calling the TSA's policy of random screening "political correctness" that "won't save any lives" GOP Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia went on FOX News yesterday to demand that the TSA focus on catching "real terrorists", a.k.a. Let's Go After The Arabs.

Broun goes on to argue that the TSA is wasting billions of taxpayer dollars screening people, and that instead we need more human intelligence to "inflitrate" terrorist groups.  Odd, I thought it was the GOP who said we needed the create the TSA to keep us safe and that human intelligence was suspect ("Hey, some of our Arabic translators are gay, let's fire them!" or "Well, we can't really trust any American Muslims") but now that there's a Democrat in the White House, the TSA is "wasting billions of dollars" and it's "all about human intelligence".

Funny how that works, huh.

Greek Fire, Part 30

The unquenchable conflagration continues to engulf Europe as EU officials are now scrambling to come up with a second Greek bailout in order to prevent a default as the country's austerity measures have failed miserably to turn the Greek economy around.

The European Union is working on a second bailout package for Greece in a race to release vital loans next month and avert the risk of the euro zone country defaulting, EU officials said on Monday.

Greece's conservative opposition meanwhile demanded lower taxes as a condition for reaching a political consensus with the Socialist government on further austerity measures, which Brussels says is needed to secure any further assistance.

Moves to plug a looming funding gap for 2012 and 2013 were accelerated after the International Monetary Fund said last week it would withhold the next tranche of aid due on June 29 unless the EU guarantees to meet Athens' funding needs for next year.

Senior EU officials held unannounced emergency talks with the Greek government over the weekend, an EU source said.

Greece took a 110 billion euros ($158 billion) rescue package from the EU and IMF last May but has since fallen short of its deficit reduction commitments, raising the risk of a default on its 327 billion euro debt -- equivalent to 150 percent of its economic output.

Here's the problem:  austerity measures aren't going to fix the issue.  It's trying to fight a fire with halon to suck all the oxygen out of the room, only the firefighters are still inside.  Here's the bigger issue however:

EU officials said a new 65 billion euro package could involve a mixture of collateralized loans from the EU and IMF, and additional revenue measures, with unprecedented intrusive external supervision of Greece's privatisation program. "It would require collateral for new loans and EU technical assistance -- EU involvement in the privatisation process," one senior EU official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Yeah, folks, that means Greece will have to agree to having the EU take over the Greek economy and start making the decisions for them.  Somehow, I don't see that happening.  The price tag for Greece getting a second bailout is awfully high, and I don't see them paying it.  If they don't, and they default, the Euro is done.  If they do, Greece is done.  If you were Greece, what would you do?

Twisted Sister City: Cleaning Up

President Obama visited Joplin, Missouri yesterday to honor those who gave their lives to save others in the massive tornado that obliterated the city, and to promise that the country will help rebuild.

Those who have survived a devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri, should do their utmost to live up to the example set by those who died while helping others escape the storm, President Barack Obama said Sunday at a memorial service for the victims.

Obama spoke about two of the heroes from the twister, which barreled into Joplin packing 200-mph winds a week ago Sunday.

One of them, Dean Wells, directed his co-workers and customers at Home Depot to safety, returning again and again for more people until a wall of the store fell on top of him, the president said.

And Christopher Lucas, 26, a manager at a Pizza Hut, herded employees and customers into a walk-in freezer, finding a bungee cord to hold the door shut from the inside and wrapping the other end around his arm. Lucas held on as long as he could, Obama told the crowd Sunday, "until he was pulled away by the incredible force of the storm. He died saving more than a dozen people in that freezer.

"There are heroes around us all the time," the president said. "And so, in the wake of this tragedy, let us live up to their example, to make each day count, to live with a sense of mutual regard, to live with that same compassion that they demonstrated in their final hours. We are called by them to do everything we can to be worthy of this chance we've been given to carry on."

The service was pretty sobering, and it was the right thing to do to honor the dozens who fell in the tornado's devastating path.  But equally as important is the promise the President made to help rebuild Joplin.  Some 75% of the city's buildings are gone, along with most of the city's infrastructure.  It's going to take a long time to get Joplin back to where it was just ten days ago, but it's the right thing to do.

That's why it's confusing to me to see Republicans like Eric Cantor insist that to help Joplin, we must make cuts elsewhere in America.

In an appearance on "Face the Nation," Cantor (R-Va.) emphasized that, in dealing with the devastation, "there is an appropriate federal role" - but that, like any family, the government doesn't have unlimited resources.

"Congress will find the money," Cantor told CBS News senior correspondent Harry Smith. "And it will be offset."

"I know that America is just stunned by the scope of devastation and loss and the horrific tragedy that the people of Joplin and other places across the country really are experiencing this tornado season," Cantor said.
But, he added, comparing the federal government to a family on a tight budget, the government would have to make cuts somewhere else to compensate for the expenditures.

"When a family is struck with tragedy - like the family of Joplin ... let's say if they had $10,000 set aside to do something else with, to buy a new car ... and then they were struck with a sick member of the family or something, and needed to take that money to apply it to that, that's what they would do, because families don't have unlimited money.

"Neither does the federal government" have endless resources, he continued.

Idiotic comparisons like that aside, can you recall Democrats ever saying after a massive disaster like this that "We don't have the resources to help you so we'll have to make cuts elsewhere"?  And I surely can't recall Republicans saying that before.  That's the second time in less than a week Cantor has promised that the only way Joplin will get any money is for it to come from spending cuts.  I'm sure that's news to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, also a Republican.

Nixon noted that the state government had already put aside $25 million in funds to begin that process - and said that the state would "make our case" to the Obama administration "to make sure we get the dollars that other regions have gotten."

"I'm confident we'll find the resources to get this done," he said. "Whatever method it takes. I mean, we've had an unbelievable outpouring of private donations already and I have a great deal of experience with our federal partners. I fully expect that we will have the resources to rebuild here." 

Might want to call Eric Cantor's office there, Jay.  He's holding your state hostage for more budget cuts.  Please note the difference between the President's response and Eric Cantor's response, too.

StupidiNews, Memorial Day Edition!

Related Posts with Thumbnails