Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Last Call

No, I don't care about the damn Casey Anthony trial/verdict/whatever.

Meanwhile, GOP racial dog whistles keep going off every 35 seconds.

South Carolina U.S. Senator Jim DeMint compared President Obama to an addict, saying Thursday that President Obama is “an addict-in-chief.”

“Washington is addicted to spending, and the addict-in- chief is the president,” Mr. DeMint said on the Senate floor.

Mmmhmm.  President Gangstathug McBlackguard is the addict-in-chief, yo.  But carry on, folks.

Greek Fire, Part 39

As I mentioned yesterday, with the ratings agencies now saying that they don't buy the notion that Greek debt is anything other than pure junk and that there are critical doubts that the latest round of European Central Bank/German bailouts will actually work, somebody has to eat the scheisseburger on Greek bonds:  either the ECB has to accept the Greek junk bonds, or Germany has to pay up to cover Greece's tab, or the ratings agencies have to lose the rest of their tarnished credibility and pretend Greece is solvent. (or some combination of the three).  If one of the three doesn't happen imminently, then the whole thing blows up like a land mine in a nitroglycerine factory.

Over at Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden thinks it's the European Central Bank that's going to be the loser in this game.

As a result of all this sudden uncertainty, Bloomberg now speculates that the ECB will have no choice than to flip flop on its own adamant position of isolating defaulted collateral, and accept Greek bonds even in an event of default: “The ECB cannot remove liquidity from the big Greek banks,” said Dimitris Drakopoulos, an economist at Nomura. “This discussion is a waste of time. The ECB is going to back down in the end -- what can they do?” he added."

Germany certainly isn't going to do it.  And the ratings agencies have clearly signaled that they're not going to be holding the bag on this one and say that Greek debt is just peachy keen.   That leaves the ECB as the odd man out.

The net result is that the ECB will ultimately have no choice but to bend its rules unless it wants a freefall run on the global bank, unless it manages to bribe the rating agencies with enough money created out of thin air, to make all the other money printed out of thin air, and soon to be collateralized with defaulted bonds, still valuable. 

Count on this to happen.  Open wide, Jean-Claude Trichet.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 27

What's this?  The Republicans may blink first on the debt ceiling?

Republicans might accept a “mini” deal with the Obama administration on raising the debt limit, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican leader, said yesterday on “Fox News Sunday.”

The idea may delay politically difficult decisions if it’s structured to postpone action on a larger package of spending cuts or revenue increases until after the 2012 election cycle, an analyst said.

“What we’ve been calling for is to have a down payment that’s as big as possible,” Marc Goldwein, former associate director of President Barack Obama’s debt commission, said yesterday in an interview.

Even so, the White House rejected a short-term extension of the debt limit, deputy communications director Jen Psaki said.

“The president has consistently said it is in the country’s economic interests for Congress to reach common ground on a significant long-term deficit reduction package,” Psaki said in an e-mail. “He has been clear in conversations with leaders in both parties about that.” 

That's just the problem:  Republicans have no intention of reducing the deficit.  They want to reduce spending, but reduce taxes even more, increasing the deficitThat's spelled out in the GOP budget plan, the elimination of as many non-defense and non-health care/Social Security functions as possible while eliminating taxes on corporations and cutting them sharply on the wealthy.

Besides, what makes anyone think the Republicans in the House will accept this?  They want 100% of their demands or they destroy the economy.  It really is that simple.  Cornyn and Senate Republicans can talk about all the deals they want, but the House GOP would rather see unemployment double and blame Obama when a default throws us into a depression.

Too little, too late, John.

The Unkindest Cut

If this is true, then Obama just sank his own re-election campaign.

Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues.

Administration officials and Republican negotiators say the money can be taken from health care providers like hospitals and nursing homes without directly imposing new costs on needy beneficiaries or radically restructuring either program.

Before the talks led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. broke off 12 days ago, negotiators said, they had reached substantial agreement on many cuts in the growth of Medicare, which provides care to people 65 and older, and Medicaid, which covers lower-income people. Those proposals are still on the table when Congress reconvenes this week, aides said, and are serious options that Democrats could accept in exchange for Republican concessions that raise revenues.

“Congress smells blood,” said William L. Minnix Jr., the chief lobbyist for nonprofit nursing homes. 

The one thing the Democrats had in 2012 was that the Republicans were happy with gutting Medicare and Medicaid.  If Dems turn around and propose these cuts, not only will the public tell them to screw off in 2012, but the Republicans will immediately attack the Dems for doing so, despite all their talk about wanting Democrats to "back off" the Medicare/Medicaid issue.

If Obama's really putting this on the table, then I don't know what to say, other than his re-election chances in 2012 significantly and exponentially go down if he signs them into law.

Privacy, Who Needs Privacy? Not Murder Victims

An investigator working for the News of the World allegedly hacked into the mobile phone of murdered girl Milly Dowler, a lawyer for the family says.
Mark Lewis said police told her parents that Glenn Mulcaire hacked into her voicemail while she was missing.
The Guardian has claimed he intercepted messages left by relatives and said the NoW deleted some, which gave her parents false hope she was alive.
This could have derailed the police investigation.  These actions could have allowed the murderer of a young girl to go free.  It caused grieving parents additional and unnecessary paid.  Until now, NoW has been mostly focused on celebrity and royal cell phones, but they are clearly branching out.  It's time to make an example out of this so that the message is clear.  This is just disgusting.

O Irony, Thy Name Is ABATE

(CNN) -- A bareheaded motorcyclist participating in a ride to protest mandatory helmet laws was killed when he was thrown over the handlebars in Onondaga, New York.
Philip A. Contos, 55, of Parish, New York, was on a ride organized by the Onondaga chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE), state police said Sunday.
Contos hit his brakes, began fishtailing and lost control of his 1983 Harley Davidson. He shot over the handlebars, hit his head on the pavement and was taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse, New York, where he was pronounced dead.
State police say evidence at the scene plus information from the attending medical expert indicated Contos would have survived had he been wearing a helmet as required by state law.

Personally, I'm for helmet laws.  I am not a biker, so I do not understand the argument.  To me, it is an echo of the seat belt laws.  While they don't save all lives, they save some.  This not only protects the rider, but other drivers.  They're surely not comfortable but the best I can tell, they are necessary.  I really just picked this up because it was too poetic to pass over.

Ministry Of Silly Walks

Not a good sign when Japan's new construction minister in charge of rebuilding the country's infrastructure is forced out of the job after just one week due to having the public relations skills of a leftover manatee placenta.

Beleaguered Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan took another blow on Tuesday when his reconstruction minister said he intended to resign after about a week in the job over criticism for remarks that offended victims of the March earthquake and tsunami.

Jiji news agency said Ryu Matsumoto, appointed to the newly created post of reconstruction minister at the end of June, had decided to step down after a public outcry over his comments.

Apparently pulling a Eric Cantor in Japan is not a good idea.

Japan’s new disaster reconstruction minister submitted his resignation Tuesday after making remarks widely criticized as offensive during a visit to the earthquake-devastated northeast coast, where he refused to shake a governor’s hand, scolded the official and threatened to withhold aid.

In meetings with local governors over the weekend, Ryu Matsumoto appeared arrogant and uncaring, angering local residents and political opponents. He told the governor of Iwate, one of the hardest-hit prefectures, that the government would not help municipalities that did not have good ideas about rebuilding.

So, when's Eric Cantor going to resign for telling the residents of tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri that the deficit is more important than rebuilding the town?

Oh right, never.

Four Out Of Five Children Left Behind

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says with massive education budget cuts and a law that kicks the can down the road, No Child Left Behind is about to detonate America's public school system.

With the clock ticking, federal education officials fear that calamity awaits.

If Congress doesn't move quickly to change the No Child Left Behind law, they project that a whopping 82 percent of the nation's public schools could fail to meet proficiency targets this year, facing sanctions that ultimately can include a loss of federal aid. That's up from 37 percent last year.

Beset with a case of the jitters, Education Secretary Arne Duncan is warning of "a slow-moving educational train wreck for children, parents and teachers" — and he's not waiting for the crash.

With Congress showing no signs of meeting a request by President Barack Obama to overhaul the law by this fall, Duncan said he'll use executive authority to waive some requirements of the law, essentially freeing states from any harsh consequences if their schools fail to meet the federal testing requirements.

His threat has set off a clash on Capitol Hill, where key lawmakers say it would be a mistake to bypass Congress. They're not particularly eager to relinquish their authority to the executive branch.

No doubt Republicans in Congress want to eagerly pin failure of schools to meet NCLB standards on the President, but then again they've blocked any reform to the bill since Obama took office, especially since that means federal education money will be slashed across the board for schools that don't meet the standards.  

The problem with NCLB is that on paper it's great, but the money to cover these higher testing standards was never put into the budget.  Instead, school districts were on their own, and told unless they improve they lose funding...which of course makes it harder to improve.  The whole point was to set up schools to fail, and that's exactly where we are ten years after Bush passed NCLB in the first place.  Instead, trillions of dollars went to Iraq and Afghanistan and tax cuts to the wealthy.

And Republicans know if they do nothing, they can point at America's "failing schools" and demand that billions more education dollars get stripped from public schools and put into charter school experiments. 

The game's been rigged for years, folks.  And our kids are the losers.

Settling Up Your Debts

South Carolina Republican Lt. Gov Ken Ard has squared away his 100 plus ethics violations, apparently you can do that.

South Carolina Lt. Governor Ken Ard (R) has settled his 107 ethics violations with the State Ethics Commission, and agreed to pay a $48,400 fine, cover the cost of the investigation, and reimburse his campaign for $12,121 in illegal expenditures.

Among those expenditures, Corey Hutchins of the South Carolina Free Times reports, was Ard's wife's phone bill and more than $3000 at Best Buy for a "Playstation 3, a flat-screen TV, an iPod Touch 8G, and two 3G iPads." Ard initially claimed the purchases were "computer equip" for "campaign and office-related purposes."

Question, if he was skeeving his campaign fund for 12 grand, where'd he get the money for the $48,000 fine?

Ard also told ethics investigators that the $2,543 he spent to take his family to Washington, D.C. was for a visit to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) -- a meeting Graham's office said never took place.

"I'll be honest, I'm not really good at dotting i's and crossing t's, but I've got a lot -- a lot -- of money in here and I'm certainly not spending any money on my own personal behalf," Ard told the Free Times back in January. "I've got a vast amount of my personal wealth tied up in this campaign and I'm just trying to recoup as much of that as I can."

As part of the settlement Ard admitted to 38 of the illegal expenditures and was given a public reprimand.

IOKIYAR.  A Democrat who took campaign funds for their own personal use would of course be forced to resign, yes?  After all, Nikki Haley promised a transparent and accountable government, right?  Stealing a couple thou for Playstations and flat screens?  That's just "dotting i's and crossing t's."


Related Posts with Thumbnails