Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Last Call

As Greg Sargent points out, it's not Bachmann's idiotic comments on John Quincy Adams and the Founding Fathers that are the problem, it's her belief that getting rid of all government regulations including the minimum wage should be the solution to our problems.

Pressed repeatedly by George Stephanopoulos to say whether she stood by her 2005 claim that nixing the minimum wage “could potentially wipe out unemployment because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level,” Bachmann did not back away from it, and seemed to confirm that ending the minimum wage should remain on the table.

“I think we need to look at all regulations--whatever ones are inhibiting job growth,” Bachmann said. “All regulations, George. I think every department.”

It has often been speculated that Bachmann may drag the 2012 GOP field to the right by forcing other candidates to try to match or even outdo her crowd-pleasing bumper-sticker extremism. Here’s a case in point. Bachmann thinks doing away with the minimum wage permanently could represent a legitimate solution to our economic problems and should be considered seriously. She thinks literally all regulations should be on the table. What does that mean? Do her rivals agree?

Does anyone in America honestly believe the real problem with our country's unemployment is that the people making minimum wage are making too much money?  Michele Bachmann does.

That might be a problem.  And it's far more dangerous than her feeble foibles.

Greek Fire, Part 35

As the Greek government prepares to vote on the bailout/austerity package tomorrow, a 48-hour general strike begins today by Greek citizens and that has the entire country on edge as the Greek Fire burns.

Greek riot police fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators Tuesday, as thousands marched to protest proposed austerity measures on the first day of a two-day strike.

CNN reporters at the scene said they witnessed police firing tear gas cannisters into the crowds as protesters threw rocks at security forces, but no casualties were visible.

The protesters are rallying outside the Greek Parliament building in the center of the Greek capital, where lawmakers are set to vote Wednesday on a tough five-year package of tax increases and spending cuts.

Police in riot gear manned barricades outside the building, as the latest of a series of rallies over the past several weeks heated up.

Live television footage showed clouds of tear gas and black smoke from small fires billowing through the streets.

Police appeared to be trying to force protesters out of Constitution Square, CNN reporters said, but some demonstrators were returning and others were gathering in side streets ready to move back in.

Tomorrow's vote is the key, and the protesters have made it clear that the pain of austerity will not all be suffered by the people, but by the government as well.  With unemployment over 16 percent, I don't blame them.

And yet the same austerity is coming the the US sooner than you think.  What will our response be?

Loan Sharkin' In New Jersey

On Sunday I discussed the real reason why Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels wasn't running for 2012: his disastrous failure in attempting to privatize the state's public assistance programs.  Now we get word of why New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie has turned down the 2012 Clown Car Circuit.  His term as Governor has been mismanaged to the point where "Mr. Fiscal Responsibility" may have no choice but to take a $2.25 billion dollar loan from the bank.  Zero Hedge:

Is New Jersey the canary in Meredith Whitney's coalmine? According to the WSJ, New Jersey may be the first state to use the highly unconventional approach of using a commercial bank funded bridge loan as large as $2.25 billion to "plug a cash shortfall." The loan raised by Chris Christie's state, "would cover bills the state will need to pay as its new fiscal year begins July 1. Normally, states have some cash available as they finish one fiscal year and begin the next, while gearing up for a bond offering based on the new budget...Terms of the loan, also known as a credit line, haven't been finalized and negotiations could fall apart, according to the people familiar with the matter." And since this will likely be a benchmark loan whose term sheet will be promptly circulated to other cash-strapped states, it will be all the more important in defining such key term components as subordination, collateralization, and general interest rates.

And who would give the Garden State a loan?  Why, JP Morgan Chase. But isn't Christie the GOP's poster child for how to run a blue state?  If he's so good at it, why is New Jersey going to be broke on Friday?  Still wondering why Christie decided not to run for the White House?  Not me.  New Jersey's short because the state's had revenue problems caused by a stagnant economy...an economy that has slowed down because Christie's spending cuts aren't creating jobs, and fewer jobs means fewer people paying taxes into the system.

Worse, his plan to raise taxes on working-class New Jersey families, to slash Medicare and family planning funding, and to gut education in order to save money was offset by a billion dollar tax cut for families making over $400,000.  Christie's half a billion in cuts to education were overturned by the state's supreme court, but that fight continues.

Meanwhile, the state runs out of money end of the week.  And you wonder why Christie's not running. Somebody might notice that the GOP tax cut for the rich plan is failing miserably, and the GOP can't have the national spotlight on that.

Herman, Caned

This is starting to look depressingly familiar for the 2012 Clown Car Crew.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain’s New Hampshire state director, his only staffer in the state, as well as a Cain campaign regional director have both resigned.

Matt Murphy is the former state director and Jim Zeiler is the former regional director. Both defections raise the question of whether or not the Cain campaign is facing some trouble.

Ellen Carmichael, a spokeswoman for the businessman and former radio host, confirmed to CNN the story that was first reported in the New Hampshire Union Leader. She smacks back any notion that this spells trouble for the campaign.

“We have hired a new New Hampshire director already, who we will announce in the coming days,” Carmichael said.

When asked why Murphy resigned, Carmichael said, “I’m not sure. I mean, it was very amicable, we still correspond with him.” She said that Murphy had another opportunity with another organization.
As for Zeiler, Carmichael said she does not know why he left the campaign.

I'm going to venture an educated guess and go with "Herman Cain is a batshit crazy liar who I wouldn't trust to run a flashlight."  At this rate, all the campaign people for all these wingers will have resigned by October or so.  Maybe if they all banded together in one giant campaign, they could share a staffer.

The Big(ger) Payback

Looks like Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the man who took down Russ Feingold last year, has yet to answer some extremely interesting questions as to how he did it and with what money.

Last week the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel started asking uncomfortable questions about $10 million in deferred compensation Johnson received from his former company, Pacur, weeks after his $9 million self-financed successful 2010 campaign came to an end.

For those of you playing the home version, even in a post Citizens United world, direct corporate contributions to a candidate is a no-no, especially when the corporation in question employs the candidate.  The $10 million just happened to cover the cost of Johnson's campaign, which Johnson says is a complete coincidence.  If that's true, then Johnson surely has a written agreement with the company covering the deferred compensation, yes?

So far Johnson has not produced a written deferred compensation agreement that was signed and dated before he launched his campaign. Absent such an agreement, Johnson could face serious charges that he violated campaign-finance laws barring direct corporate funding of federal candidates, election law experts tell TPM.
Arent Fox's Brett Kappel, an election law attorney, said evidence of a written agreement before Johnson ran for the Senate is critical to prove he did not rely on corporate funds for his campaign.

Well then, that might be a problem if the FEC takes a look at...

Even though watchdogs are raising serious red flags over Johnson's deferred compensation, they're not counting on the FEC, a broken agency that either deadlocks over critical and controversial decisions or fails to take up cases at all.

Never the hell mind.  This ledger domain legerdemain is just how the Galt's Gulch Bandits operate. Any of them will tell you the real problem would be the FEC existing at all.  Smaller government means there's nobody to complain to...well, unless a Democrat gave the appearance of conflict of interest, that is.

Best part is the guy who had $9 mil to spend on his own Senate seat and getting $10 mil payback is a real salt-of-the-earth, Real 'Murican hero.  Didn't Blago just get convicted of trying to sell a Senate seatBuying one seems to be pretty okay by comparison, IOKIYAR.

A Shocking Discovery

For many of us, static electricity is one of the earliest encounters we have with electromagnetism, and it’s a staple of high school physics. Typically, it’s explained as a product of electrons transferred in one direction between unlike substances, like glass and wool, or a balloon and a cotton T-shirt (depending on whether the demo is in a high school class or a kids’ party). Different substances have a tendency to pick up either positive or negative charges, we’re often told, and the process doesn’t transfer a lot of charge, but it’s enough to cause a balloon to stick to the ceiling, or to give someone a shock on a cold, dry day.

Nearly all of that is wrong, according to a paper published in today’s issue of Science. Charges can be transferred between identical materials, all materials behave roughly the same, the charges are the product of chemical reactions, and each surface becomes a patchwork of positive and negative charges, which reach levels a thousand times higher than the surfaces’ average charge.
This could lead to a new understanding of charge, power... and power sources. 

Rotten Peachtree

As expected, a federal judge has blocked parts of Georgia's immigration law from taking effect.

Judge Thomas Thrash also granted a request from civil liberties groups to block a part of Georgia's law that penalizes people who knowingly and willingly transport or harbor illegal immigrants while committing another crime.

"The defendants wildly exaggerate the scope of the federal crime of harboring under (the law) when they claim that the Plaintiffs are violating federal immigration law by giving rides to their friends and neighbors who are illegal aliens," he said.

The judge was especially critical of that provision, blasting the state's assertion that federal immigration enforcement is "passive." Thrash noted that federal immigration officers remove more than 900 foreign citizens from the country on an average day.

He also wrote that the state measure would overstep the enforcement boundaries established by federal law. Thrash noted that there are thousands of illegal immigrants in Georgia because of the "insatiable demand in decades gone by for cheap labor" in the agriculture and construction industries. But he said the federal government gives priority to prosecuting and removing illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.

The civil liberties groups had sued to have those and other provisions blocked before they took effect Friday, though Thrash did toss parts of that lawsuit. The groups had argued that the law allows unreasonable seizures; blocks a constitutional right to travel; and restricts access to government services on the basis of national origin. The judge dismissed those claims, along with allegations the measure violates property rights and the state constitution.

So it's a partial victory, mostly on grounds that the state is stepping in on what should be a purely federal duty, and that's in line with other similar provisions partially blocked by federal judges in other states besides Georgia.  Again, completely expected, and until one of these state cases reaches SCOTUS, it will be repeated in red state after red state as they all vie to become the State That Hates Brown People The Most.

The endless war against people who are not white males is the GOP's top priority at the state level.

It's Over Ten Thousaaaaaaaaaaaaand!

Sometime over the weekend we hit 10,000 posts.


That's a lot of The Stupid to be versus, you know.

What Digby Said

On Breitbart and the Village:

But it's a mistake to only focus on Breitbart. As Perlstein writes, this journalistic convention is one of the things that's killing us. They are legitimizing anti-social political behavior to the point where the depraved Ann Coulter -- featured in a cover story in TIME magazine just a few years back --- is still considered an acceptable guest on a staid political round table hosted by Fareed Zakaria. Indeed, there's an entire generation of these hideous right wing destroyers of any and all rules of engagement who are treated as perfectly normal political players by the mainstream press

Worse, these non-rational actors are held up as the ultimate defense in the "Earth is flat, views differ" argument.  If anyone to the left of these nutbars says "Hey, you shouldn't be justifying this nonsense by giving them a legitimate platform" then it's "But they are no different from you, both sides do it" and the argument immediately ends.

Attacking the Village on its lack of objectivity only makes them cleave more tightly to the conservative side because in a post 2008 election world, being a liberal is the kiss of death.  Even more than politicians (who accept freely that not everyone's going to like them) the Villagers can't comprehend how anyone would be angry at them, so all the sturm und drang from the Right about bias and victimization is their weak point as the Villagers know it.

And so it goes.  Meanwhile, the Villagers and Congress play softball together for good causes, so why would our press be adversarial or even objective with people they see as friends with benefits?


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