Saturday, June 11, 2011

A. Weiner Is Fried

Looks like Rep. Weiner is doing the "time off to get his head straight" thing with a "break" from Congress...and even odds he doesn't return.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who has been under fire after admitting to inappropriate communications with women online, has decided to seek treatment "to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person," his spokeswoman said Saturday.

While the New York congressman seeks treatment at an undisclosed location, he will take a "short leave of absence" from Congress, Risa Heller said in a statement.

A Democratic source, familiar with conversations among Weiner and Democratic leadership about his fate, did not know what specific type of treatment Weiner, 46, would undergo.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called for Weiner to step down in separate statements earlier Saturday.

The congressman has resisted calls to resign. 

If Pelosi is calling for him to go, he's playing musical chairs with no chairs in sight and the music about to stop for good.  I think I'm being very generous when I say his odds of returning to the House are 50/50.  It looks like the police investigation in Delaware is the last straw.

We'll see how this turns out.  My gut says this break becomes permanent.  There's just too much "oh, and another thing I forgot to tell you" post-presser for him to get the benefit of the doubt any longer.

Steve M. argues Weiner would survive this mea culpa if he were a Christian Republican from the South seeking forgiveness. Alas, as a Jewish Democrat from Brooklyn, I agree that playing the "seeking help" card won't work.  His rabbi will know better.  This is one of those "Dems get held to higher standards" things...and I can't say he doesn't deserve the full business from On High.

I hate to see him go.  But my money's on him not returning to Congress if I had to place a bet right now.

Two Sides Of Crime

On one side, you have a cop who sexually assaults a woman who is in the middle of a domestic abuse situation.  On the other side, you have a woman who recorded that crime without the cop's knowledge.

They face the same amount of jail time.

There are a few things that are worth considering.  One is that it absolutely is important that recording is only done with consent.  However, while a crime is in progress is a logical exception, as are the words and actions of a public servant.  Without putting citizens at risk, we can make it so that this can't happen again and justice is served.

Epic Rise From Your Grave Win

Elizabeth Edwards, before she died of terminal cancer, apparently secretly recorded a video deposition for federal prosecutors who were investigating her husband's alleged use of campaign funds to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter.

IN a devastating act of ultimate revenge, a dying Elizabeth Ed­wards recorded a bombshell secret videotape for prosecutors – nailing her cheating husband John as he will stand trial on charges that could land him behind bars for 30 years.

That's the stunning secret behind the federal indictment brought against the disgraced former presidential candi­date on June 3 -– following a two-year grand jury investigation into whether he illegally used campaign funds to cover up his affair with his then-pregnant mistress Rielle Hunter.

The grave is no bar to Elizabeth Edwards's asskickery.  No.  Bar.

Medical Privacy - You're Doing It Right

It's so rare that we gain ground with privacy rights that I am always surprised.  Recently, this change has been proposed, and it's a great idea.

Under the rule proposed by the Department of Healthand Human Services (HHS), health-care-related businesses must list everyone in their firms — from doctors to data-entry clerks — who has accessed a patient's electronic records and when.
"It is important to protect a person's right to know how their health information has been used or disclosed," said Rachel Seeger, spokeswoman for HHS' Office of Civil Rights.
For example, in 2008, the UCLA Medical Center fired several employees who looked at Britney Spears' medical records without being directly involved in her care. Under the new rule, Spears could see who accessed her records.

For yet one final surprise, Britney Spears (indirectly) contributed to the world.  Seriously, people have a right to know who has accessed their information, and concerns about people who work in the health care care industry aren't screened enough to guarantee ethical treatment of our records.  This is important not only for our peace of mind, but ensures accountability for those who manage our information.

Deep In The Heartless Of Texas, Part 2

Lot of buzz on the right that Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry will be jumping in the race for President and will do so soon.  The GOP is very desperate at this point to consider Perry at all.  I've said Perry was too smart to get in the race because of the massive baggage he has as Governor, namely his suggestion that Texas should consider secession from the United States.  That may play well in Dallas, but not Detroit, Decatur or Denver.

Think Progress has nine more reasons why Perry is already in real trouble should he decide to throw his ten-gallon hat into the ring.  Here are a few:

(3) PERRY PROPOSED LETTING STATES DROP OUT OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICAID: Despite the programs’ importance and popularity, Perry has argued that states like Texas should be allowed to opt out of Social Security and Medicaid. Were Perry to have his way on Social Security, “the entire system would collapse under the weight of too many Social Security beneficiaries who had not paid into the system,” notes Ian Millhiser. On Medicaid, in addition to stripping 3.6 million low-income Texans of their health care, Perry’s proposal would actually hurt, not help, the state’s budget deficit. This is because, as Igor Volsky writes, opting out of Medicaid would take “billions out of the state economy that goes on to support hospitals and other providers,” while forcing hospitals “to swallow the costs of caring for uninsured individuals who will continue to use the emergency room as their primary source of care.”

In fact, Perry's tenure as Governor has a number of health care related issues.

(5) PERRY DESIGNATED AS “EMERGENCY LEGISLATION” A BILL REQUIRING ALL WOMEN SEEKING ABORTIONS TO HAVE SONOGRAMS FIRST: In January, Perry proposed requiring all women seeking abortions to have a sonogram at least 24 hours before the procedure. Under the bill, doctors would be required to “tell a woman the size of her fetus’ limbs and organs, even if she does not want to know.” Before a woman is permitted to have an abortion, physicians are also forced to provide an image of the fetus and make the woman listen to the sound of its heartbeat. Perry designated his proposal as “emergency legislation,” allowing the bill to be rushed through the legislature. He signed it into law last month.

That was Perry's top legislative priority in Texas this year.   There's been a lot of noise about the Perry economy in Texas too, but the jobs going to Texas, a state with no income tax, have come at a steep price:

(10) DESPITE HAVING THE WORST UNINSURED RATE IN THE COUNTRY, PERRY CLAIMS THAT TEXAS HAS “THE BEST HEALTH CARE IN THE COUNTRY” : On Bill Bennett’s radio show last year, Perry claimed that “Texas has the best health care in the country.” In reality, Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents of any state. More than one in four Texans lack coverage; the national average is just 15.4 percent. As such, there are more uninsured residents in Texas than there are people in 33 states. Despite Texas’s low coverage rates, the state has some of the most restrictive Medicaid eligibility thresholds, and Perry has even proposed dropping out of the program. Texas also has an inordinately high percentage of impoverished children, yet Perry opposed expanding the successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Some 26% of Texans have no health insurance, the worst of any state in the US, and that's before adding in the millions more who would lose coverage should Perry direct the state to opt out of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

And that's on top of the secession thing.  Sure, Republicans, run Rick Perry as your savior.  By all means.  I'll add reason #11:  Remember the last President we had from Texas?

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Justin Raimondo at just cut Glenn Greenwald off at the knees for not supporting "true" anti-war candidates like Ron Paul enough.

I’ll tell you another thing tribal loyalties have rendered sinful and heretical: ascribing sincerity to members of the other tribe, which is something Greenwald seems unwilling or unable to do.  

Greenwald is wrong, on two counts. 

If we take Greenwald’s theory of partisanship to its logical conclusion, then no one is ever capable of learning or changing – and, of course, everyone is a cynical partisan hack. Yet his attack on the sincerity of the rising antiwar GOP’ers such as Sen. Rand Paul and the "Kucinich Republicans" in the House, is manifestly unfair: many if not most of them weren’t even in office during the Bush era, and, indeed, arose specifically in opposition to the free-spending "Big Government conservatism" that characterized Bush II’s reign. 

Secondly, Greenwald is wrong about the defense of civil liberties and opposition to the militarism of the National Security State being "inherently" "non-ideological." Indeed, no more intensely ideological issues are currently at the heart of the national discourse. The revival of the Old Right in the Republican party and among the grassroots conservative movement is an intensely ideological phenomenon, one which inherently distrusts any and all government action – including overseas. The GOP Establishment is fighting a losing rearguard action against them, but they have the momentum and seem destined to triumph – precisely because of the disaster visited on the nation (and the GOP) by Bush II’s foreign and domestic policies. 

Opposition to the gutting of the Constitution and the policy of untrammeled imperialism is inherently inscribed in the conservative-libertarian tradition, and the revival of this tradition is what is energizing the "tea partiers" and the rising "Kucinich Republicans." Except that they aren’t "Kucinich Republican," they’re Taft Republicans, as in Robert A. Taft [.pdf], the leader of the conservative wing of the GOP in the 1940s and early 50s, whose opposition to interventionism and the Warfare State, although not always consistent, symbolized what the liberal interventionists of the time derided as "reactionary isolationism." 

Greenwald's argument is that anti-war Republicans opposed to "whatever Obama is doing this week" as opposed to war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and hey, Yemen.  Raimondo argues the opposite, that anti-war Republicans like Ron Paul are coming around after Bush and deserve progressive support at least as a means to an end for dismantling the permanent warfare state.

The real problem is given away at the end of Raimondo's article:

According to Glenn, we have to wait until Obama is defeated and a Republican is installed in the White House before we can properly judge the motives of antiwar/civil libertarian Republicans and gauge them on his Sincerity Meter. I, for one, am not willing to wait that long – and we don’t have to. The reality is that – given the conduct of the "progressives" in Congress, and in the media, during the Obama years – it’s the sincerity of the "progressives," whose faith in government is apparently boundless, that really has to be called into question.  

And this has led to quite the pissing match between the two over who hates Obama and the Democrats more right now, while being "libertarian" enough to embrace the GOP.

And people keep wondering why "progressives" keep failing to win over people and get things done when our "own side" is racing to see how quickly they can disown Obama first and allow Republicans to get back into complete control of the country again, which is a situation I think both of these guys would heartily enjoy because of the increased voice they would have.

So why are these guys considered allies of the left, exactly?

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter Part 71

Foreclosuregate has so backed up the courts as far as processing delinquent homes that a growing number of Americans are stuck in limbo: living in their homes, but not making mortgage payments.

Some 4.2 million mortgage borrowers are either seriously delinquent or have had their cases referred to lawyers to pursue foreclosure auctions, according to LPS Applied Analytics. Of those, two-thirds have made no payments at all for at least a year, and nearly one-third have gone more than two years.

These cases can go on and on. Nationwide, it takes an average of 565 days to foreclose on borrowers in default from their first missed payments to the final auction. In New York, the average is 800 days and in Florida, where the "robo-signing" issue is particularly combative, it's 807.

If they want to fight evictions hard, borrowers can remain in their homes even longer while their cases are being worked through.

The Segals have been doing that -- in court. They bought their home in 2003 with an adjustable rate mortgage. After a few years, their monthly payments tripled to $3,000, just as their home-inspection business was cratering.

The Segals want the bank to modify the mortgage so payments are affordable, and they think the court will agree that their lender put them into a toxic loan.

"The evidence will show that we were defrauded," said Jill Segal.

It's hard to feel total sympathy for folks who had a home and plenty of equity, saw the value of their property double or triple during the Bush Bubble, and then took out hundreds of thousands of dollars against their home only to see the value crash and end up holding the bag for half a million. They should have known it was too good to last.

Others, like the Segals, got in on the underwater side and were not told by the banks about the risks of adjustable rate mortgages.  It's a lot easier sympathizing with them.  On the other hand, it's not like the banks are innocent either, making trillions off of designing a massive housing fraud bubble, then betting against that bubble and walking away with trillions more.

The problem is these 4.2 million folks stuck in foreclosure limbo, living in their homes for years without making mortgage payments, are in effect taking money right back from the banks.  That means a lot of mortgage outfits are losing money on loans they say they are getting paid on.  The banks are in fact happy to lose only a couple thousand a month per home rather than be stuck with a house that's dropping by far more than that in value per month and that they can't sell, a situation leaving the bank with no mortgage payment as income and a house losing value on the market.  It's lose-lose for them to foreclose ASAP.

Something's got to give on this.  Eventually the banks are going to say "screw this" and leave these millions of foreclosures in the hands of the government -- and the taxpayers.  When that happens, it's going to get really, really ugly for the housing market.

Foreclosures will continue to drive the next leg down in the housing disaster, and there's literally millions of them to work through.

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