Friday, July 29, 2011

Last Call

So here we are going into the final stretch on Debtmogeddon:

As promised, all Senate Democrats aligned Friday night to kill the just-passed House Republican bill to raise the debt limit.

The roll call fell closely along party lines, 59-41, with all Democrats voting to table Speaker John Boehner's controversial bill, joined by several Republicans who also oppose that plan.

Now we enter a period of calm. Before midnight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to introduce his own debt limit bill -- amended to include more spending cuts, and a few as-yet undisclosed carrots, to entice enough Republicans to overcome a filibuster and pass the legislation.

Senate Democratic aides confirm that the legislation is being updated now, but the precise details are tightly held.

They need to get those details right. House Republicans have scheduled a symbolic Saturday vote to knock down the original version of Reid's bill -- a move meant to illustrate that without further cuts and enticements can't Reid's bill pass the House.

Odds are very good that nothing Reid can put forward will be able to pass the House.   After that, well, we're deep into the "Here There Be Default" part of the map.  Tomorrow the House is expected to kill the un-modified Reid bill, while the actual bill gets sent back to the House if it passes a filibuster in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

After that, the Senate would vote on it first thing Monday, and then to the House it would go.  Whether any of this happens, who knows.  Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi still will not greenlight the 14th Amendment solution.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday declined to endorse a 14th Amendment solution to the debt-ceiling impasse.

All of Pelosi's top lieutenants have urged President Obama to invoke the Constitution and hike the debt limit unilaterally as a last resort if Congress fails to act by the Aug. 2 default deadline.

But Pelosi, thus far, is staying on the sidelines of that debate.

"I hope that we can come to an agreement before then," Pelosi said as she left a Democratic Caucus meeting Friday afternoon. "That's where I'm focusing my attention."

Without Pelosi's blessing I don't see Obama even bothering.  Noise from the White House this evening suggests a short extension, 48 hours or so, if it means a real plan.  My guess though is no plan remains forthcoming that will pass the GOP.

From here I don't honestly know what will happen.

The Pain In Spain, Part 2

Ahh, but across the pond in Europe, the financial mess over there is still in full swing, and there are a whole lot more individual countries with ugly credit rating problems to worry about, like Spain.

Rating agency Moody's put Spain on review for a possible downgrade on Friday, adding to concerns that a Greek rescue package has done little to halt the spread of Europe's debt crisis.

Moody's move to place the Aa2 government bond rating on review cited concerns over growth and said funding costs would continue to be high in the wake of euro zone leaders' bolder moves to curb the Greek crisis last week.

That added to a sense that Spain - and Italy - are still firmly in the firing line, and the euro and Spanish bond prices fell in response.

Particular focus rested on Spain's regional governments, many of whom are struggling with burgeoning debt loads after a decade of reckless spending. Analysts fear control over regions' debt loads is slipping out of the central government's grasp.

Regional authorities will miss their collective budget deficit target by up to 0.75 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), Moody's said, hampering the central government's program of austerity to reduce the overall shortfall.

"Regional governments' finances may prove difficult to control due to structural spending pressures, particularly in the healthcare sector," Moody's said in a release.

Translation: People are still expecting another major European bailout, and we'd be talking about it if everyone wasn't scared out of their wits that the Tea Party here in the states is about to push the Big Red Button.  The PIIGS nations are still quite firmly in real trouble and the Greek Fire is spreading. It's pretty clear that people are expecting a huge, comprehensive European bailout package and soon.

Nooners' Torch Song For President Obama

Ahh, Peggy Noonan.  When one needs the opinion of President Obama by a woman with the same dysfunctional love-hate relationship as a drunken stalker ex on a lost weekend, you can always count on Nooners.
But that actually is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about something that started to become apparent to me during the debt negotiations. It's something I've never seen in national politics.
It is that nobody loves Obama. This is amazing because every president has people who love him, who feel deep personal affection or connection, who have a stubborn, even beautiful refusal to let what they know are just criticisms affect their feelings of regard. At the height of Bill Clinton's troubles there were always people who'd say, "Look, I love the guy." They'd often be smiling—a wry smile, a shrugging smile. Nobody smiles when they talk about Mr. Obama. There were people who loved George W. Bush when he was at his most unpopular, and they meant it and would say it. But people aren't that way about Mr. Obama. He has supporters and bundlers and contributors, he has voters, he may win. But his support is grim support. And surely this has implications.
Ahh, we're back to Nooners being spurned by the imaginary Old Spice Guy she sees the President to be and instead she sees the bloodless, frigidly logical Vulcan who inspires nothing in the depth of her own broken soul, and that's pretty much normal Nooners.  Oh, but she's really, really mad at the President in this week's column.
The secret of Mr. Obama is that he isn't really very good at politics, and he isn't good at politics because he doesn't really get people. The other day a Republican political veteran forwarded me a hiring notice from the Obama 2012 campaign. It read like politics as done by Martians. The "Analytics Department" is looking for "predictive Modeling/Data Mining" specialists to join the campaign's "multi-disciplinary team of statisticians," which will use "predictive modeling" to anticipate the behavior of the electorate. "We will analyze millions of interactions a day, learning from terabytes of historical data, running thousands of experiments, to inform campaign strategy and critical decisions."
This wasn't the passionate, take-no-prisoners Clinton War Room of '92, it was high-tech and bloodless. Is that what politics is now? Or does the Obama re-election effort reflect the candidate and his flaws?
He's too intelligent, too nerdy, too analytical, and he's failed failed failed FAILED to stop the naughty Tea Party from ruining her cotillion or whatever.  Look, the only thing more gorram obnoxious than the stupid President Angry McBlackhulksmash stuff is the President Tuvok bullshit, and I for one am personally getting sick of the cartoonish racism that says Barack Obama is only capable of two emotional states, endless rage or nothing.

If you argue that President Obama is even capable of complex nuance, you're a hopeless Obot chump, apparently.  Clinton just "got people" and Dubya just "got people" and Obama just "doesn't get people", so he's a flippin' caricature, the kind of two-dimensional meatbag you find in a Michael Bay film.  He's always, always too angry (and makin' the white folk swoon with his ethnic rage) or just dead inside, and it's getting to the point where people just don't choose to understand that there's a cultural difference in when, where, and how a black man in America is allowed to display emotion as opposed to a white man, let alone when that man is President of the United States.

I understand the need of the Village to distill everything down to sound bites and political cartoons that sum up Presidents in a split second, but that's not who Barack Obama is.  The sound bites are not the man, and when this much is at stake with the Tea Party literally trying to destroy the economy in order to take POTUS out, relying on cardboard standies is not only bad judgment, it's bad for the country as a whole.

So yes, President Barack Hussein Obama is a complex, complicated man.  He has a unique perspective on a lot of American culture and on American politics.  He is staggeringly intelligent.  He has a loving family.  He was raised by a single white mother in Hawaii.  He challenges all the preconceived notions of what a black man is in America in 2011.   But what do we get?  Reductio ad Noonium.  She can't handle the truth.  Hell, tens of millions of Americans can't.

Oh, and Nooners is totally hawt for POTUS.  Just so you know.

More Be-Shear Chutzpah

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  the closest thing the Republicans have to a moderate Governor is Kentucky's own Democrat "Dinosaur" Steve Beshear.  Ol' Dinosaur Steve is insisting he totally didn't dump President Obama at Ft. Campbell in May to meet the troops that pulled off BOOM HEADSHOT on Bin Laden.

Beshear's opponent this year, David Williams, smells blood and finally, two months later, Beshear is going on the record to say that President Obama wisely never even invited Dinosaur Steve to the ceremony in the first place, invariably to save him from having to turn down being seen with POTUS in a state where his approval ratings are in the mid-30s at best.

Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday that he did not mislead the public when he said a scheduling conflict prevented him from appearing with President Barack Obama at Fort Campbell in May.

Although the White House did not extend a formal invitation for Beshear to attend Obama's appearance, Beshear said he would have been there to greet the president if his schedule had allowed it.

"We learned of the president's visit about 36 hours before it was to take place," Beshear said during a Capitol news conference called to discuss an education grant. "There were apparently no formal invitations sent, but I feel as governor it is always my responsibility and privilege to welcome a president of the United States."

At the time of Obama's appearance, Beshear said he was already scheduled to meet with executives at Churchill Downs on the friday before the Kentucky Derby.

Beshear was criticized by many, including Republican gubernatorial challenger David Williams, for appearing to snub the president and the troops Obama was honoring who were involved in the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

But the Associated Press reported on Wednesday that a series of Beshear administration e-mails showed Beshear was never formally invited to attend the event. Williams, the Senate president from Burkesville, accused Beshear on Wednesday of lying to the public about why he didn't attend the event with Obama. 

President Obama is not popular in Kentucky, and that's putting it mildly.  He lost the state to McCain-Palin in 2008 by 16 points.  Out of 120 counties in the Bluegrass State, Barack Obama won eight of them, and that was before the economy got worse.  So yes, the President was smart enough to not invite Beshear in the first place, so that he could happily make up whatever excuse necessary to not be there within 100 yards of the President.  It's the worst-kept secret in Kentucky politics.  Beshear himself is enjoying 60%+ ratings and will most likely cruise to an easy win in November, but literally the last thing he wants to do is be seen with POTUS in this state.

It's the ugly truth here in Kentucky, but there it is.  New tag: Dinosaur Steve.

Patriot, My Ass

Wired got me started on this again.  With all the other stuff going on, I was temporarily distracted.  I've been waiting for this to build since the first articles surfaced, hoping there would be some breakthrough that filled some mighty serious gaps in information.  It's still not completely filled in, but there is enough now to see some mighty big problems. 
For months, two Senators have screamed bloody murder that the government holds a secret legal interpretation of the Patriot Act so broad that it amounts to a whole different law giving the feds massive domestic surveillance powers. Now, a measure by Sens. Ron Wyden and Mark Udall would force the U.S. intelligence chief, and by extension the entire intelligence community, to admit that they went too far in their Patriot Act interpretations — if they don’t find a way to wiggle out of it.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meets Thursday to prepare the annual bill authorizing the U.S. intelligence agency’s operations. During that “mark-up” process, Wyden and Udall will ask their colleagues to include a measure compelling the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General to produce a “detailed assessment of the problems posed by the reliance of government agencies” (.pdf) on “interpretations of domestic surveillance authorities that are inconsistent with the understanding of such authorities by the public.” Wyden’s staff provided Danger Room with a copy of the proposed amendment.

Sounds to me like someone is calling bullshit.   For a few reasons I am inclined to give these two the benefit of the doubt.  They aren't asking for change, they are demanding the public know the rules and details of what has been decided for them.  They argue for disclosure about process, not specific details.    No way should our government decide what citizens should know about its policies.  Transparency is required for citizens to hold government accountable.  If we are subject to it, we are (logically) entitled to know what we are subject to.  What is bothersome is how convinced they are that the people are going to freak out when they know the truth.  There is nothing to gain by being wrong.  If there is nothing of interest, it would be political suicide to make a hollow accusation of this magnitude.  If they turn out to be right, they could look like heroes at a time when people are increasingly becoming upset and feeling helpless about how they are treated by their own government.

Take it however you want, but it's clear government is testing its limits.  There could be a whole different kind of civil war if the government continues to push and then cross the line.  I really enjoyed this article.  His worst case scenario isn't hyperbole, it's actually possible.  That scares the hell out of me.  

I hope this gains attention and we get some more facts to work with.  And kudos to Wired. I offer a humble apology for being surprised at their chops.  

Circumcision Snipped From Ballot

(CNN) -- San Francisco residents will not be voting on whether male circumcisions should be banned in the city this fall.
A Superior Court judge ordered Thursday that the proposed measure, which had initially made it onto the November 8 city ballot, be removed entirely.
The measure proposed banning male circumcisions with the penalty of jail time or a $1,000 fine. It would not have granted religious exemptions.
 The decision is personal, and up to parents to decide for their children.  There are valid reasons on both sides of the debate, but what it amounts to is that nobody has the right to tell parents what medical and religious decisions they make for their kids.  People can disagree, but in the end if they can choose for themselves and their family the important battle has been won.

I Got Mine, The Rest Of You Rot In Hell

Michele Bachmann:  leading by example.

BACHMANN: Now unlike all of you, who I’m sure pay cash for your homes, there are people out there like myself who actually have to go to a bank and get a mortgage. And this is the problem. It’s almost impossible to buy a home in this country today without the federal government being involved. Whether it is with the FHA, whether it’s with Fannie, whether it’s with Freddie, it’s almost impossible to buy a home…What’s important is that we do dismantle a number of these federal programs that everyone agrees are clearly out of control.

To recap, federal programs that benefit Michele Bachmann personally are fine.  It's the ones she doesn't use that have to be eliminated because those programs are out of control.

GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann (R) has been in hot water in recent weeks for personally taking advantage of hundreds of thousands of dollars in government aid while denouncing the very programs she benefited from. Most recently, the Washington Post discovered that Bachmann and her husband signed for a $417,000 home loan backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac just weeks before she called for the two mortgage giants to be entirely dismantled.

Bachmann has been a consistently fierce critic of mortgage lending programs and has advocated abolishing the government sponsored mortgage enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Yet she took out the maximum possible loan from those programs to finance her family’s move to a lavish 5,200-square-foot home on a golf course. 

Food stamps, for evil welfare queens who are gaming the system.  Jumbo mortgages backed by the Federal government?  Perfectly reasonable use of taxpayer money.

This woman would lose the election to be President of her own fan club.

Epic Fiscal Responsibility Fail

There is fail, and then there is Republican Tea Party Fail(tm).

Last night the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story that Tea Party freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL), who has spent months lecturing President Obama and Democrats on fiscal responsibility, owes $117,437 in child support to his ex-wife and three children. Laura Walsh has asked a judge to suspend his driver’s license until he pays his child support. Despite loaning his own campaign $35,000 — and paying himself back at least $14,200 for the loans — Walsh claims he failed to make the payments because he “had no money.”

The tax-bashing congressman campaigned on a pledge to reject the Washington “status quo” and has bragged about his own frugality, claiming he even sleeps in his congressional office to save money. Walsh, who’s been described as “the biggest media hound in the freshman class,” has been a prominent voice in the debt ceiling showdown in recent weeks, making television appearances almost every day to denounce President Obama’s “reckless spending,” which he says has “bankrupted this country.”

To recap, the guy who is the voice of "fiscal responsibility" and ruthlessly scolds President Obama for his budgets won't even pay his own child support because he's a deadbeat dad.  He owes over a hundred thousand dollars, people.  You don't get much more Tea Party then that.

These are the assholes now in charge of squeezing our country dry.

This is not the first time Walsh has faced scrutiny for the disconnect between his rhetoric and the way he conducts his personal life. In 2009, Walsh lost a condo to foreclosure because he owed more than $300,000 on the property. In April 2010, an investigation revealed that Walsh failed to file his personal financial disclosure form as required by federal election law. When questions about his personal finances dogged his congressional campaign, Walsh once again claimed he wasn’t a rich man, despite managing to pay $3,300 per month for a house in upscale Winnetka.

And yet this guy is a Tea Party hero.  He's a crook and a heel is what he is.


For Want Of A State Senator, A Battle Was Lost

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue is in a situation very much akin to the one President Obama is in currently: a Democratic executive trying to fight off the Tea Party GOP hordes.  She lost her veto battle with the state's budget which means Planned Parenthood funding is gone and the state's education budget was ransacked.  Now, by one vote, Republicans have overruled her veto on strict new anti-choice laws that will leave thousands of women at risk.

Women must obtain ultrasounds, state-mandated counseling, and wait 24 hours before abortions under new requirements the state approved today.

The state Senate voted 29-19 to cancel Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a bill that seeks to limit abortions.
The House voted to override earlier this week, so the measure becomes law.
Democrats said the measure interferes in decisions between women and their doctors. Republicans said the requirements make sure women have more information.

Sen. Stan Bingham, a Republican who voted against the bill in June, left the building before the override vote

So by walking out, Bingham allowed his Republican buddies to override the veto and continue the Tea Party idiocy in my home state, because women are too stupid and emotionally immature to make decisions about their body, they have to have a waiting period to cool off their flighty girl brains, they have to be counseled against the procedure because they're too stupid to know better, and have to be shown an ultrasound to shame them out of it.

The same party that believes the lack of choice in the type of light bulb you buy is "government interference" hill to die on absolutely wants the government to interfere as much as possible in a woman's reproductive choices.  What a lovely bunch of assclowns.

So add North Carolina to the list of states being sucked under in the Tea Party tide.  Hey voters, you can do something about this in 2012, just so you know.


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