Friday, June 17, 2011

Last Call

Taylor Marsh argues that Michele Bachmann is a real threat to Obama in 2012, because she's friendly and empathetic.  Yes, the Bachmanniac is friendly and feels your pain.

Mrs. Bachmann is touching on a real problem for Pres. Obama, which is he just doesn’t connect emotionally and it is his style, but it manifests in the feeling that he doesn’t seem to get what’s going on with people. His recent interview with Ann Curry I highlighted that sounded like he wanted a second term for the sake of it is another part of this problem.

Marsh's proof of this?  Why the words of Karl Rove and John Hindraker, of course.

Going against your type is the strongest counterweight to reveal depth of purpose, if not character. This is the most interesting move from Bachmann, revealing her camp not only gets it’s the economy that is the Right’s best weapon, but that the human element of tapping into the emotions driving how people feel about the economy is something she and her team gets, too.

There are a lot of women out there in Republican primary land who are sick to death of the men running their party. The boys’ club better take Hinderaker’s advice to start paying attention. 

Bachmann's policies of course are besides the point.  It's all about touchy-feely stuff, and Americans just aren't smart enough to handle policy positions.  So once again we're back to cold, unfeeling, overly intellectual Obama (or the GOP equivalent of cold, unfeeling, incredibly stupid Obama) and policies don't matter a damn.

Yes, we're to the point where" progressives" are asking why Obama can't be more like Michele Bachmann.  Awesome.

The Brits Are Getting It Right On Banking

Britain's bank head, George Osborne, is taking the first real concrete step towards solving the Too Big To Fail regime:  reinstating the separation of retail banks from investment banks.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced a major overhaul of Britain's banks Wednesday by approving a separation of their retail and investment businesses to help avoid another global financial crisis.

Osborne, part of the Conservative party heading a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, also unveiled the privatisation of Northern Rock, three years after it was nationalised to save it from collapse in the global financial crisis of 2008.

In a high-profile annual address to finance leaders in central London, Osborne backed the findings of the government-appointed Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) which earlier this year called for a "ring-fencing" of retail businesses.

"Today I have told the Commission that the government endorses both these proposals in principle... We will make these changes to banking to protect taxpayers in the future," he said.

Osborne said he had taken the decision bearing in mind a "British dilemma".

"As a global financial centre that generates hundreds of thousands of jobs, a successful banking and financial services industry is clearly in our national economic interests," he said.

"But we cannot afford to let it pose a risk to the stability and prosperity of the nation's entire economy."

This is pretty huge news.  When the firewall between retail banks and investment banks was destroyed here in the US by Congress and President Clinton, it set the stage for the disaster that followed just eight years later.  Britain too followed suit on repealing these provisions, and the result was a nightmare manifest.

Odds of this happening in the US of course are as close to zero as things ever get in Washington politics.  With trillions of dollars at stake, there's no way our lawmakers would dare do something like this.  And that's an incredible shame.

No Respect, I'm Telling Ya

Yesterday's Nancy Pelosi press conference had the networks salivating about her disposing of Anthony Weiner, but when she said she'd rather talk about jobs, the networks turned her off.  All of them.

Her conference began minutes after the news of Weiner's impending resignation leaked, and so reporters and cameras scrambled to what otherwise would have been a fairly routine press event. Indeed, because Dems are in the minority, it's not uncommon for Pelosi events to be under-attended by members the media. Not this time.

Unfortunately for them, Pelosi refused to offer a money quote. In a sign that Democrats want to turn the page on the Weiner scandal, she insisted up front that she'd maintain silence on Weiner's resignation until he announced it himself.

"As usual we're here to talk about jobs, about protecting Medicare and protecting the middle class. If you're here to ask a question about Congressman Weiner, I won't be answering any."

If you thought disappointed news networks decided then to make do with the other items on her agenda, you'd be wrong. All three of the major cable nets -- CNN, MSNBC, and Fox -- all cut away right then. 

Way to go, "liberal media".   Nobody wants to hear politicians talk about what needs to be done about jobs, certainly not America's unemployed.  No, we want dirt on Weiner!  How dare she not give it to us.  Screw her!

Oh, but Nancy learned her lesson and put out a statement yesterday after Weiner resigned.

"Congressman Weiner exercised poor judgment in his actions and poor judgment in his reaction to the revelations," said a statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who had pushed Weiner to step down. "Today, he made the right judgment in resigning."

Gotta feed the machine.

A Little Old School Fascism For New School Bloggers

A former CIA spy comes clean about Bush-era abuses of power targeting anti-war bloggers during Bush's second term.

Glenn L. Carle, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was a top counterterrorism official during the administration of President George W. Bush, said the White House at least twice asked intelligence officials to gather sensitive information on Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who writes an influential blog that criticized the war.

In an interview, Mr. Carle said his supervisor at the National Intelligence Council told him in 2005 that White House officials wanted “to get” Professor Cole, and made clear that he wanted Mr. Carle to collect information about him, an effort Mr. Carle rebuffed. Months later, Mr. Carle said, he confronted a C.I.A. official after learning of another attempt to collect information about Professor Cole. Mr. Carle said he contended at the time that such actions would have been unlawful.

It is not clear whether the White House received any damaging material about Professor Cole or whether the C.I.A. or other intelligence agencies ever provided any information or spied on him. Mr. Carle said that a memorandum written by his supervisor included derogatory details about Professor Cole, but that it may have been deleted before reaching the White House. Mr. Carle also said he did not know the origins of that information or who at the White House had requested it. 

If you think Juan Cole was the only blogger the Bushies went after, you're mad.  I've long suspected stuff like this happened, but to have confirmation of it is quite another thing.  This is what real fascism looks like, sending the CIA after people who publicly disagree with the policies of the administration.

Par for the course.  But of course we have to leave the past behind us...

Don't Forget The Sparkle Glue And Pee In This Cup, Citizen

Glenn and Kathy Kiederer's 12-year-old daughter wanted to join the school scrapbooking club. The Shohola couple was surprised at the consent form she brought home two years ago. It acknowledged that to be in the club, she would undergo a urine test for drugs and submit to random drug tests in the future.

"I feel I'm being coerced into signing this paper," Glenn Kiederer said Monday during a hearing in Pike County. "To drug test at this age makes it normal for them. If it's normal, when they have children, what will be normal for them? A chip in your arm that tracks where you go?"

The family believes the drug test is a violation of civil rights. The ACLU of Pennsylvania is suing the district on behalf of the Kiederers.

The policy requires some students — those who participate in extracurricular activities or who drive to school — to submit to a mandatory initial drug and alcohol test. Those students must then submit to random testing throughout the year.

If it's that widespread of a problem, parents can drug test and treat their kids.  If the parents do not choose to do so, the school has no right to force this on students.  They teach them their rights in class, and teach them those rights don't apply on the football field... or in scrapbooking meetings.  Our kids deserve our protection.  Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating drug use among children. I am, however, stating that due process and all rights should be respected in the solutions.  If there is that much of a drug problem, perhaps raising awareness and having security measures would be a better option.  Otherwise, we are forcing kids who may be suffering from addiction to hide in the shadows, a pattern that already plagues adult drug users and leads them to avoid activities that might be a healthy replacement for drug use.

This is the wrong way to treat a serious problem.  Not only do we have a Constitutional problem here, but we also have the issue of schools overstepping their boundaries.  Let's nip this in the bud before more damage is done.

Let's Try "Chocolate" Next Time, Please

CLEVELAND - The creator of an iPhone app used to manipulate and add effects to photos is under fire for using a racial slur in the name of a special effect.

The app, called “Picture Effect Magic,” is available in a free and paid version in the Apple App Store. The latest version is 1.8 and has a post date of June 10, 2011.

In the list of possible photo effects is one called, “54 N****r-brown.” In selecting this effect, it makes the image a brownish tint. In the list, it is near other similar effects that make the image purple, blue or warm.

Apple, which approves all apps before they are put on the market, has not commented yet.  The author seemed apologetic in a note that stated: “Feel so sorry to have expression mistake,New version will coming soon(sic)."  There is a chance the author did not realize the phrase was inappropriate because of cultural and geographic differences.  What is surprising is that Apple allowed this to pass and that the reaction wasn't even more severe than it was.  While Americans generally understand the connotations of this word, it isn't as easy to explain to those not surrounded by our media and steeped in our country's history.  Think it's easy?  Imagine explaining it to a child.  I recently had to break down some information for my niece, who would never hurt anyone's feelings on purpose but was confused by the use of the word in some rap music and movie lines, and the zero tolerance for that word in our family. 

Interesting that it hit the market, now I'm curious to see how it is handled.  Any guesses?

Useful Idiots At Netroots Nation

Our "liberal media" is having a fun time with this year's Netroots Nation conference in Minneapolis, and it's hard for them not to pass out from sheer ecstasy when Russ Feingold's keynote speech is all about how evil Obama is for taking corporate money, and Dan Choi is ripping up Obama flyers and saying he won't support the President.

Needless to say, "progressives hate Obama" is the only story that matters to the Village.  Even Howard Dean got in on the action.

Former DNC chairman Howard Dean also addressed the opening day of the conference, noting that “grousing about the president is a stage we have to go through.” Dean said he will continue to support the president, but rather than focus on Obama, he suggested, people should focus on what they can do in their own communities.

“We are responsible for the change we can believe in,” he said. “Change does not come from Washington, DC. Change comes from the bottom up.”

“Politicians follow. They don’t lead. We lead, collectively, all of us.”

So at best, Obama needs to be bypassed.  That's a super message to have going into the campaign silly season.  And people wonder why the media doesn't take progressives seriously enough, and how the Republicans got control of the House along with dozens of state legislatures in 2010.

Ripping up flyers is certainly going to solve all our problems, eh?

Greek Fire, Part 33

Things are getting very ugly in Greece, folks, to the point where it's fashionable to openly talk about how bad things could get if the Greek Fire burns down the government of Georges Papandreou.

Beyond the immediate hit to banks, the biggest fear is that of contagion -- a difficult-to-predict chain reaction that could roil markets and make it harder for other indebted countries to cope with their debts, with the result being higher borrowing costs for eurozone countries.

Some even say the end of that road could be one or more of the weakest euro members -- such as Greece -- leaving the shared currency, though the political will to prevent that remains strong.

Some are comparing a Greek default to the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in September, 2008, which triggered the most severe phase of the world financial crisis, freezing credit markets and leading to a slump in global trade.

It's not clear a Greek default would be that sweeping, but economists say that like Lehman's collapse, its damage could be greater than expected.

"The risk of a 'Lehman moment' for the eurozone is increasing," says Neil MacKinnon, analyst at VTB Capital. "The nature of the eurozone debt and banking crisis is similar to previous financial crises in modern times because of the inter-connectedness between the banking sectors and government debt."

Now last time I checked, Greece (the country, some $330 billion in GDP) was only about half the size of Lehman Brothers (the company, some $600 billion in assets) was when it fell.   But the problem, as it was with Lehman, is counterparties.

A whole mess of European banks own Greek bonds right now, and Greek bonds are getting to the "completely worthless" stage of the game.  Greek 2-year rates are now above 30%. the equivalent of big red AWOOOGA "Nigerian email scam" klaxons.  Imagine how bad your credit would have to be to get a 30% interest rate on a credit card, and you see the kind of trouble Greece is in.

The bottom line is that the fate of the Greek government will be decided in the next several days, perhaps as soon as Sunday.  If the Greek vote to accept the EU's bailout terms fails, then literally all bets are off as to what will happen.

I've been chasing the Greek Fire story for over a year now, and it's looking like things about to go up in a towering inferno very very soon.  Iceland defaulted on $85 billion three years ago, and they're back in the game now.  But an Iceland style default plan may not work on Greece.

“People should be careful when it comes to drawing comparisons between Iceland on the one hand, and Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland on the other,” Finance Minister Steingrimur J. Sigfusson said in an interview in Reykjavik. “Iceland didn’t have the ability to save the banks. Trying to rewrite the events that led to that eventuality as some sort of an export product is irresponsible.”

Iceland’s success in rebuilding its economy has been contrasted with the plight of euro member Ireland by economists including Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. Ireland, where most bank debt has been protected by a state guarantee since 2008, would have been better off using Iceland’s “bankrupting yourself to recovery” model, Krugman argued in a Nov. 24 New York Times column. Sigfusson says the advice could be dangerous, as European leaders try to agree on how investors share the cost of a second Greek rescue. 

Then might work.  The sure losers will be the European banks of course...but how much damage will they do as they thrash about on fire?

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

GOP "moderate" Tim Pawlenty's campaign ground game in New Hampshire is assisted by a man named Ray Shakir.  This guy's a real piece of work, alright.

Pawlenty, for instance, has repeatedly dismissed the unfounded rumors questioning President Obama's US citizenship. Shakir, however, says Obama is "a jungle alien. Because that's what he is—he's not an American. You can call me a birther if you want." Shakir claims the long-form birth certificate recently released by the Obama administration is merely a clever forgery. (The Pawlenty campaign did not respond to a request for comment.)

Moving to other issues, Shakir called human-caused climate change "bullshit" and accused liberals of "trying to destroy this country."

"They're brainwashing people," he says.

Shakir has a history of rhetorical flamethrowing. He's referred to President Obama as "Borat Hussein O'Bummer" and suggested he is "a radical, subversive, con-artist fraud." His repertoire also includes referring to Democrats as "Democ-Rats," Bill Clinton as a "charlatan," and former vice president Al Gore as "vice circus barker." In 2007, he called then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton "Osama's dream girl." And he once derided people who support a sales or income tax in New Hampshire as "pathetic individuals [who] are obviously deaf, dumb, and blind (oops...audibly, mentally, and visually challenged)."

In March, Shakir sparked outrage during a meeting of the Conway budget committee, of which he's a member. At the time, citizens were enmeshed in debate over a proposed 11-percent budget cut to school spending (which was ultimately voted down). In response to a special education official who said there was "no such thing as an uneducatable person," Shakir told a gym full of citizens: "I would dispute that fact. There are certainly individuals that are uneducateable. I am simply suggesting to you and everybody else that there should be a line drawn where the taxpayer is responsible to educate certain people."

Shakir's statement drew a chorus of boos, calls to resign, and even a comparison to Hitler. To which Shakir responded, "If you don't like it, that's the way it is. You people are divorced from reality."

Charming individual.  And he's throwing campaign parties for Tim Pawlenty.  I wonder what the former governor's response is to this, and does he agree with Shakir that liberals are "brainwashing" people, that special needs children are "uneducatable" and that Obama is a "jungle alien"?

New tag:  The Moderate Tim Pawlenty.  Moderate enough to have a flaming racist asshole run part of his ground operation in New Hampshire.


Related Posts with Thumbnails