Friday, June 3, 2011

Last Call

At C&L Karoli calls the House GOP hostage-taking on the debt ceiling what it is:  treasonous.

I have had just about enough of this nonsense. Forcing a sovereign debt crisis for cynical political gain is not just unpatriotic. It's treasonous. This is not a political football, it's serious business and the Very Serious People inside the Beltway had better come to their damn senses and figure that out. You don't hold hostages in this situation. I realize Republicans have gotten their way by stomping their tiny little hooves and bleating that they must, simply must, have concessions before they will do the right thing for this country, but the debt ceiling is not in that category.

It's a little like telling the Visa folks that you'll refuse to pay your balance until they lower your interest rate. Good luck with that. Same thing here, and it's time for this idiots and asshats in Congress to start acting like Americans first and Republicans second. 

Which is exactly why the Village is in on it, trying to convince us that defaulting would be "good in the long run" because it would force trillions in spending cuts, cuts that wouldn't help the deficit one bit because they were strangle what growth we have and GOP just wants more tax cuts for the wealthy anyway, they could give a damn about deficits. 

The only way to turn the Republican treason away from a political loss for the President is for that ransom note to be circulated far and wide, to simplify the message and boil it down to this: Republicans are holding the US credit rating hostage until seniors' health care is cut, and cut deeply. Forget throwing Grandma off the cliff; they want to throw the whole damn country down it.

Agreed.  Threatening to destroy the country for political reasons is the modern Republican definition of terrorism, is it not?

We're Not In Kansas Anymore, Folks

And for those of you who are, my condolences.  Your governor is an idiot.

While many Americans on Saturday were enjoying the start of the Memorial Day weekend, Kansans were gaining the dubious distinction of becoming the nation's only citizens to live in a state without an arts agency.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback took the major step of privatizing the arts in Kansas, turning back the clock to a pre-1960s era. The governor erased state funding for arts programs, leaving the Kansas Arts Commission with no budget, no staff and no offices. The commission was founded in 1966, a year after Congress established the National Endowment for the Arts.

Oh, but that's not the only thing Brownback has gotten rid of.

Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday defended his approval of a bill that prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage unless the procedure is necessary to save the woman’s life.

“The abortion debate is a difficult one,” said Brownback, an anti-abortion Republican who has signed several anti-abortion measures this year.

“There are a number of people that do not believe it is appropriate to use taxpayer dollars for abortion. There are a number of people, they don’t want it in their insurance policy that they are paying for and that is the issue that came up in the Legislature, and the Legislature passed it and I signed it,” Brownback said.

Keep in mind Brownback here is going after private insurance policies.  Starting July 1, women in Kansas are no longer covered under their insurance for an abortion unless they or their employer have bought a special policy that covers only abortions, or the life of the woman is in jeopardy.  So if you're a rape victim in Kansas and you get pregnant, too effing bad.  You should have bought a spare tire.

Another "free market solution" from the Republican Party.  Including abortion coverage in group insurance policies is "unfair".  You know, by that logic, if you're white and you make the argument that black people have higher incidences of sickle cell anemia or Native Americans have higher incidences of diabetes, shouldn't those groups have to get special riders to cover those?  It's driving up the cost of your group insurance plan, you know.

Just imagine what will happen should Republicans gain control of the Senate and White House in 2012.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

I'm moderately impressed that despite Gallup's wording, taxing the rich is still evenly splitting the country like it has been for over a decade now.

Trend: Views on Redistributing U.S. Wealth by Heavy Taxes on the Rich Trend: Views on Redistributing U.S. Wealth by Heavy Taxes on the Rich

Here's the real gobsmacker on this Gallup poll, however:

1984-2011 Trend: Views on Distribution of Wealth in the U.S.

For 25 years now, a very healthy majority of Americans have pointed out the obvious here: wealth distribution in the country since the Reagan years has been terribly unfair. There's plenty of evidence to support that.

The richest controls 2/3 of America's net worth

The wealthiest 10% of Americans control almost 75% of the country's net worth.  That was before the financial crisis.   By now, I'm expecting that number to be 75% or higher.  And keep in mind the Republicans are saying out economy is crumbling because this percentage isn't high enough, that we have to give more back to the "job creators" and cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans because they are suffering under too much of a burden.  These are the people suffering, supposedly:

Average Income by Family, distributed by income group.

It would be hysterical if it wasn't so pathetic.

Say It Ain't So, Johnny Reid Edwards

And so the hammer falls on John Edwards for allegedly using campaign funds to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter.

The 19-page indictment charges Edwards on six counts -- one count of conspiracy to violate federal campaign finance laws and to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission; four counts of accepting and receiving illegal campaign contributions from two donors and one count of concealing those illegal donations from the FEC.

"Mr. Edwards is alleged to have accepted more than $900,000 in an effort to conceal from the public facts that he believed would harm his candidacy," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breur said in a statement. "As this indictment shows, we will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws."

The government's case centers on somewhat of an untested legal theory: that the Edwards campaign centered on his image as a family man, and that the North Carolina Democrat had to hide his affair to maintain that image. 

You know, I liked Edwards's politics.  But the whole "I cheated on my wife because she had terminal cancer" thing is just horrible.  I hate to say this, but at least Newt Gingrich served his wife with divorce papers when he left his wife with terminal cancer and found a new one.

All I can say is "glad we didn't elect the guy".  Could Edwards have beaten Hillary in a field without Obama in 2008?  Quite possible, actually.  Then where would we be right now?

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

First, the news item:  Investor's Business Daily points out that wage growth over the last ten years has been virtually stagnant, even worse than the Great Depression years.

The increase in total private-sector wages, adjusted for inflation, from the start of 2001 has fallen far short of any 10-year period since World War II, according to Commerce Department data. In fact, if the data are to be believed, economywide wage gains have even lagged those in the decade of the Great Depression (adjusted for deflation).

Two years into the recovery, and 10 years after the nation fell into a post-dot-com bubble recession, this legacy of near-stagnant wages has helped ground the economy despite unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus — and even an impressive bull market.

Over the past decade, real private-sector wage growth has scraped bottom at 4%, just below the 5% increase from 1929 to 1939, government data show.

OK, so 2001-2010 was not very good at all for the American worker.  We all know that.  So why am I filing this under Obama Derangement Syndrome?

Guess.  Doug Ross:

Obama's record is a perfect one -- he's ruined the housing, energy, auto, banking, health care, insurance and probably other industries I'm forgetting.

His swollen bureaucracies and regulations are strangling the private sector and, by extension, our livelihoods. What the ideologue-in-chief has yet to figure out is that his leviathan -- his unconstitutional federal bureaucracy -- can't exist without us. Without the taxpayers. By strangling us, he'll end up strangling the federal government. It's simple mathematics. And whether through total systemic collapse or by booting his incompetent rear out of office in 2012, it will end.

Our old friend Zip takes his shot too:

Imagine what America will look like if we get another four years of Mr. Hope-N-Change?

Right, because Obama was responsible for the stagnant wage growth from 2001 to January 2009, you know, when Bush was President for eight years.  Blaming the last economic decade on Obama is weak and pathetic, even for these clowns...but that's all they have.  Bush doesn't exist for these morons.

It's always Obama's fault.  Even when it can't be.

Practical Stupidity: Flyin' High Edition

How do you combat The Stupid?  By learning things.  So for those who may like to stock up with random facts, or even send it to a friend as an "I told you so" for random water cooler conversation, this tag is for you.

Today's practical bit of wisdom involves airports, flying, and some myths.  The article also explains some changes from how the good old days of travel used to work.  Those who travel often won't find any surprises here, but those who have waited a while may be in for a surprise.

My greatest surprise was that something had been changed in favor of the traveler:

You might get a big payout, if you're involuntarily bumped and if you can't be quickly accommodated on another flight. In fact, starting in August when the rates go up, you could get as much as $1,300 in cash for being booted from an overbooked flight, but if you're rebooked on a plane that gets you to your destination within one hour of the originally scheduled arrival time, you get zip.

By the way, a big boo and hiss to ABC News for their site forcing you to sit through a commercial without the ability to mute it.  Not only is it rude, but it's going to put a major dent in their from work web traffic.  

Good For The Soul

It doesn't matter who you are, everyone loves a hug from their mom.  This video has gone viral, and for good reason.  In case you missed it, here is a little bit of goodness for you.  The little guy has a nightmare, and at 30 seconds in, gets a little comfort from a loving mother.

All together now: Awwwwwwwwww.


Unemployment rate up 0.1% to 9.1%, 54,000 jobs created in May.

Private employment rose just 83,000, the least since last June, while government payrolls dropped 29,000. Economists had expected payrolls to rise 150,000 and private hiring to increase 175,000 in May.

The government revised employment figures for March and April to show 39,000 fewer jobs created than previously estimated.

The job creation slowdown confirmed the economic weakness already flagged by other data from consumer spending to manufacturing.

It could stoke fears about the depth and duration of a slowdown that started early in the year.
"It is likely that this will be a soft patch in the coming months but overall it will probably be a soft patch rather than a double-dip recession or something worse," said Sean Incremona an economist at 4CAST in New York.

And yet we've seen confirmation that the housing depression is well into double dip territory now.  I don't see why the rest of the economy won't follow.

PS, May's numbers include a 206,000 birth/death adjustment, meaning we really lost 150,000 jobs last month.  The unemployment rate for African American men continues to be 17% plus and overall black unemployment for those 16-19 is 40% plus, and that's using the government numbers.  Reality is most likely worse.

Asariel's take this morning:

And...  Oh.  Oh, my.
Before we go any further, a little mood music.
Nonfarm payroll employment increased by 54,000 in May, missing expectations by 116,000.  The unemployment rate increased to 9.1%[1], with 13.9 million people unemployed and looking for work.  The average workweek increased mildly to 34.4 hours, and average hourly earnings beat expectations by increasing 0.3% to $22.98.
The number of long-term unemployed[2] increased by 361,000 to 6.2 million people, meaning they now make up 44.6% of the total population of the unemployed.  The number of people employed part time for economic reasons[3] declined slightly to 8.5 million.  Individuals marginally attached to the labor force[4] fell to 2.2 million.  This puts the effective unemployment rate at 16.1%.
Sing it with the Man in Black:
"IF I could start again
"a million miles away
"I would keep myself
"I would find a way."
A little Johnny Cash is certainly appropriate, old friend.   But remember, Weinergate!  Sarah Palin's Schoolhouse Schlock Bus Tour!  John Edwards has been indicted!

Think Washington cares?  I don't.  Neither party seems to give a damn right now.

[UPDATEDave Lindorff is looking more and more correct.

Moose Charge Up Bunker Hill

The Sarah Palin "Ha Ha Ha You're Paying Attention To Me!" 2011 Tour continues, this time with Palin going after Mittens.  A lot of people are convinced she has to be running...but the smart people are even more convinced she's not.  Steve M. explains why she's going after Romney:

If you're not running against him, would you blindside your own party's front-runner? Especially when he seems to be the only person in the party who's running and who could possibly win both the nomination and the general election?

It seems like a strange thing to do -- but if you're Sarah Palin, maybe you'd do it. Maybe you feel 100% confident that Romney can be vanquished, and that the party won't despise those responsible for the purge. And maybe you realize that you have a lot of company.

After all, last week we learned that the #1 goal of Dick Armey's FreedomWorks is to stop Romney in 2012. And today we read this:

The Western Representation PAC, a Nevada-based group led by the infamous former Alaska Senate candidate and Tea Party darling Joe Miller, launched its "Stop Romney" campaign today, designed to prevent Romney from becoming the GOP candidate.

Laugh if you want, but the co-founder and chief strategist of this group is Dustin Stockton, who hangs with Sal Russo, the chief honcho of the Tea Party Express. This could be a lot of firepower.

And hell, even Joe Miller is probably not a joke among the crazy base -- I bet if he were a declared candidate for president, he'd be outpolling Jon Huntsman in Iowa. Then again, as we learned from a Public Policy Polling survey yesterday, who wouldn't be?

Jon Huntsman [is] 8th with 0% (only one respondent to the poll picked him.)

So if, as Jamie Malanowski argues, Palin is just faking interest in the presidency because it's what will keep her speaking fees high, then obviously she thinks an attack on Romney won't be seen, at the end of the day, as a betrayal of her party. Or she doesn't care if she falls out of the party's good graces, because the tea party is her real revenue stream.

When you objectively look at the situation, Sarah Palin is the number one recipient of Wingnut Welfare(tm).  She commands ludicrous amounts of money just to exist as Sarah Palin, and the reason that works is because while she may make a terrible President, the one thing she excels at is playing Chase The Shiny Object with the Village Idiots.  The Tea Party leaders get their cut, Palin gets her cut, and she gets to take a bus trip around the nation making the entire country's national political press corps follow her around like she's the only source of water in the entire desert.

She has been able to string the press along for over two years now.  The last thing she wants to do is actually run for President when she gets twice the attention for none of the work by just dancing along the line.

She's playing the press, the Tea Party, and millions of people for fools, a grift job writ across the American map, and she's having the time of her life.  For an avowed egomaniac, she's in absolute heaven right now, and she's smart enough not to blow it.

Eventually the press will get tired of her Presidential follies...and that's when the "Draft Sarah for Veep" party starts and we get to go through the "will she or won't she" garbage all over again next year too.

The Dick Behind The Weiner

Over at ABL's place, Allan Brauer has a terrific article involving the specifics on why the Right wants Weiner gone for good:  Weiner's the only one banging the drum on Clarence Thomas, his wife Ginny's involvement in the Tea Party, and how this massive conflict of interest threatens our country..and how it comes back to Andrew Breitbart.

Even though Thomas had been appointed to the Court, the experience of his confirmation hearing had ripple effects that shaped an entire generation of political operatives. A conservative sleaze-merchant by the name of David Brock wrote a brutal hit-piece of a book called The Real Anita Hill, in which, as he characterized it later, he did everything he could to “ruin Hill’s credibility,” using “virtually every derogatory and often contradictory allegation I had collected on Hill into the vituperative mix. I demonized Democratic senators, their staffs, and Hill’s feminist supporters without ever interviewing any of them.” 

Not long after, while working on smearing the Clintons in similar fashion, he had an epiphany and renounced his evil ways, and ultimately founded Media Matters, the liberal-leaning organization that monitors the smear and disinformation machine of the American Right.

At the same time a young man named Andrew Breitbart watched the Thomas hearings and had an epiphany of his own. He credits the treatment of Clarence Thomas, and a daily dose of Rush Limbaugh, with converting him to the cause of conservatism. In fact, Breitbart’s latest book is dedicated to Clarence Thomas, and he grows verklempt relating the story of the time Ginni Thomas introduced herself to him. (Don’t click this clip of Breitbart being led through his paces by Armstrong Williams without a puke bucket standing by.)


It’s fascinating to think how each of them changed teams as a result of the Thomas hearings, and how they remain, to this day, sworn enemies. And how the events of that hearing are still driving the narratives of resentment and sore winnerdom for the vicious, sleazy, lying scumbuckets who are now attacking Congressman Anthony Weiner.

In other words, there's a very, very plausible reason Breitbart is running with this idiocy:  Anthony Weiner is going after his professed idol, so Breitbart in turn is targeting Weiner.  It really is nothing more than a massive grudge match...and it always is with these assholes.

Again, Allan has absolutely done his homework here, this one is by far the best explanation for the motivations behind what's going on this Weinergate now approaches Day 7 atop the Memorandum page.  They never forgive and never forget a slight, real or perceived.  What Weiner is doing is something that Breitbart clearly sees as a legitimate clear and present danger to his hero, Clarence Thomas, so Weiner's getting the Full Monty here for a reason.

The same day, last Friday, that Clarence Thomas made public his 2010 financial disclosure forms in a Friday Night Holiday Weekend News Dump(tm) for he and his wife, and Weiner then tweeted about them (and the fact that for more than ten years Clarence Thomas had "forgotten" to include a total of more than three-quarters of a million dollars in financial activities on his yearly court disclosure forms), just hours later we have this picture show up in Weiner's Twitter feed and this whole obnoxious mess.

The art of misdirection, indeed.  Weiner is being targeted for a reason, folks.  It's to instantly put the Clarence Thomas story down the memory hole.

Bravo to Allan for digging it back out.  This is the why behind Weinergate, folks.  I guarantee it.


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