Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Last Call

Via The Political Carnival we learn that while it was outstanding to see Gabrielle Giffords back on the House floor, whether or not she will run for reelection after her near assassination is still very much in question.  Her spokesman issued the following statement when asked about her possible campaign:

“Congresswoman Giffords is focused on her recovery… No decision has been made about 2012. Going to Washington to cast a vote that was absolutely critical for the country doesn’t change the fact that she still has work to do…. No one could have predicted seven months ago that we would be where we are today… If the past is a guide … we should not speculate where we will be seven months from now.”

Whatever she decides of course is her decision and not ours.  If she decides that she feels she can represent her constituents effectively then voters will make that choice in 2012.  If she decides to not run again, I can certainly understand that after everything she's been through and it's up to the Arizona Democratic Party to field a candidate then.

We'll see what her decision is, but either way it will be an intensely personal one.  My personal beliefs are that I would like to see her run again because I believe she would win.  But winning is not everything, not by any means.

More luck to her on her continued recovery, regardless.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 50

The truly depressing thing about this "final" post on the debt ceiling nonsense is that Sen. Mitch McConnell is vowing to take the country hostage all over again in 2013 when the debt ceiling comes up again.  Greg Sargent:

The most honest man in Washington did some more truth-telling on CNBC last night. Speaking to Larry Kudlow, Mitch McConnell made perfectly clear that the hostage situation we just went through wasn’t a one-shot deal. It’s the new normal:
What we have done, Larry, also is set a new template. In the future, any president, this one or another one, when they request us to raise the debt ceiling, it will not be clean anymore. This is just the first step. This, we anticipate, will take us into 2013. Whoever the new president is, is probably going to be asking us to raise the debt ceiling again. Then we will go through the process again and see what we can continue to achieve in connection with these debt ceiling requests of presidents to get our financial house in order.
Previously, I’ve compared the debt ceiling to a bomb ticking away at the base of the economy. We don’t much notice it because it’s always been there and, despite a couple of close calls, it’s never gone off. But that doesn’t mean it won’t ever go off. Particularly if these sorts of showdowns become the norm.

And even if it doesn’t go off, Congress’s decision to make the risk of default more visible might well be enough to scare the markets. If you were an investor, would you want to put your money in a country that regularly held bitter partisan brawls over whether you would be paid back? Or would, say, German bonds begin looking like a comparatively better bet? 

Hey, and the markets tanked today even with the debt ceiling deal signed...because Wall Street knows the Tea Party absolutely will pun another gun to our heads again soon.  Hell, it may be in just a couple of months when the federal gas tax is set to expire on September 30. If it's not the gas tax, it'll be the budget battle heading into campaign season.

So yes, any wonder why the markets are going down in flames even with a deal?  Wall Street knows more hostage-taking is just around the corner.  The only way to stop it is to kick the hostage takers out of office.

Still In Trouble

Even with the debt limit deal passed by the Senate and signed by President Obama, the stock markets are now looking at that dismal Q2 GDP revision showing the recovery is over, and that this deal will in the short term make things worse.  The Dow dropped under 12k and things are still fugly, the S&P 500 is now in the red for the year.

Stocks slid, erasing the 2011 gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, while Treasury yields fell to the lowest levels since November amid concern the economic recovery is in jeopardy. Gold rallied.

The S&P 500 fell for a seventh straight day, losing as much as 2.4 percent to 1,255.87 at 3:52 p.m. in New York, leaving it down almost 0.1 percent for the year. 

The Dow closed down 265 points at 11,866 while gold rallied on South Korea saying it's looking to beef up its gold reserves.

The bottom line is the debt ceiling mess took us off the economy, which is now back into the "Hey isn't this a recession?" mode.  Wall Street has noticed however and with Congress gone through Labor Day, no help is coming anytime soon.

Unless the Fed steps in with QE3...

Is That A Different Tune I Hear?

The online analytics firm KISSmetrics quietly overhauled its web tracking methods over the weekend, and is now permitting users to block its surveillance, in a hurried response to a report slamming the company for using sneaky techniques to track web users who visit some of the biggest sites on the net.
The 17-person Bay Area startup made the changes after two of its highest profile customers — Hulu and Spotify — suspended their use of the service on Friday in light of the research and the Wired.com story that was first to report it. Separately, Hulu and KISSmetrics were also sued in federal court Friday for allegedly violating federal privacy laws, first reported by Online Media Daily.
On behalf of a whole lot of people who don't know how wrong this really was... thank you, Wired.  This could have become common practice and instead the bar has been set.  And thanks to the watchdogs who caught this and brought it out in the first place.

Take Two: Bon's Remix

So, Zandar touched on a couple of things this morning and he was right that they are dear to my heart.  I'll just have a short say here, he already did an excellent job of covering it.

It's about damned time.  Women's roles have changed in the world, as have our rights to own our bodies and to make choices about our health care.  One thing we obviously contend with that men do not is the responsibility of carrying a child and face much more pressure raise those kids after the dad says sorry and runs off.  Birth control is important as more women choose to take care of themselves instead of moving directly from parents to husband.  That sounds simple, but really think about how recently that change has come about, and how explosive the numbers have been.  Three generations ago, most women went from Dad to husband without a single moment in life to discover herself as a person.  Women were often cherished but rarely respected, and that is starting to change.  There is no logical reason why a woman cannot decide to avoid becoming pregnant.  In a time of global crowding, limited resources and women having to work to support themselves, it makes total sense to put off having kids until a woman has reached a point of emotional and physical maturity and make a decision to put their everything into it.

But it isn't having kids that is the real problem, am I right?  Nope, it's having sex.  Good old-fashioned bumping uglies, a little afternoon delight and some happy slappy later.  That is the problem for folks who think they should be able to tell others how to spend their lives.  Somewhere, a prude with power is losing sleep at the notion that two consenting adults might be having fun.  That just bugs the hell out of some people. The fact that kids result from this only creates tiny little victims in a power play between the pious in charge and the women who bear the price for their lofty opinions.  These idiots tsk at unwed mothers while denying them the solution.  Instead of celebrating a way to let people live how they choose and do an overpopulated world a favor, we have the righteous with no respect trying to force reproduction on those too poor or too intimidated to take advantage of a modern solution.

This is a major advancement in making birth control available to those who need it the most.  If Planned Parenthood could catch a break now, we could right a whole host of wrongs and make birth control even more available.  The strategy of making it difficult to obtain as an obstacle for the poor or using emotional bullying to enforce moral superiority just dropped a notch.  Morals don't belong in medical care.  Women should be able to use insurance for all medical needs, and pharmacies should fill the orders of physicians without personal judgment.  We have the right to make medical decisions for ourselves free of interference from others.  Anything less is discrimination, which has rightfully been recognized.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 49

Just about the last post on this whole mess I hope.  The Senate will take up the bill at noon today and it is expected to get 60 votes and go on to the President's desk before the end of the day.

Senate leaders seem confident they have at least the 60 necessary votes to carry the deal. If they're right, then the final bill would move swiftly to the President's desk for his signature. Once the ink is on the page, the the debt ceiling can be raised ahead of the nearing deadline, and the ticking timebomb of default will be defused.

It will be the end of a dangerous game of chicken that shook markets across the world as creditors faced up to the possibility that for the first time in its history America might fail to pay its credit obligations.

The chances of that happening dropped dramatically shortly after 7pm Monday, when the House passed the debt legislation by a vote 269-161. It was a controversial deal that many voted for unhappily, recognizing it was perhaps their last chance to halt a national leap into the unknown. Though the bulk of Republicans ultimately voted in favor by a tally of 174-66, the Democrats fractured right down the middle: 95-95. Intriguingly, the Republicans' so-called "Tea Party Caucus," which was reportedly described by Vice President Joe Biden as having acted like "terrorists," also split fairly evenly: 32-38. 

The 60 vote threshold in the Senate is to make 40-45 Dem senators vote for it, presumably, while the GOP will only have to put up 15-20.  Keep a close eye on the senators up for re-election next year and how they vote.  Republicans will want to hang this vote on as many Dems as they can, particularly Claire McCaskill (MO), Sherrod Brown (OH) , Bob Casey (PA), Jon Tester (MT), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Ben Nelson (NE) and Bill Nelson (FL).

Keep an eye on what Republicans Dick Lugar of Indiana, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and Olympia Snowe of Maine vote as well.  The cries of "primary them!" from the Tea Party were loud enough before this vote.

Meanwhile, the price tag on extra interest payments demanded by the bond markets because of this mess is becoming clear.

To be precise, the extra cost is $1,721,250,000 more in interest payments than the government would have needed to pay investors just two weeks ago, when they were willing to accept far lower rates before the debt ceiling became a crisis.

"That's real money," said IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh. "Taxpayers need to wake up to the fact that these kind of shenanigans in the end cost." 

Another $1.7 billion for the fire, and that was just two weeks worth of silliness.  Imagine what the damage will be if somehow this deal gets scuttled at the last minute with the deadline looming tonight. We'll see what happens.

Obama Administration Has It Covered, Ladies

Yet another meaningful victory for women, the Obama administration, and the ACA:  the Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidelines on coverage for women's health under the new health care law and is requiring health insurers to cover women's preventative care and birth control as of August 2012.

The mandate from the Health and Human Services Department represents a landmark decision in a decades-long debate on women's health issues that has pitted family planning groups against conservative organizations.

"Under the law, we're making it illegal to charge women more just because of their gender," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on Monday.

The guidelines, a product of last year's healthcare overhaul, go into effect on Monday, and require insurers to do away with co-payments on coverage of preventive care services for women in all new plans beginning in August 2012.

The rules largely follow recommendations from a scientific advisory group released last month.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) said in a July report that all government-approved birth control methods -- including the "morning-after pill," taken shortly after sexual intercourse to stop a pregnancy -- should be included in the U.S. list of preventive health services.

The newly required coverage also includes free screenings for gestational diabetes, testing for human papillomavirus in women over 30, counseling for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and screening for domestic violence.

"Today is a historic victory for women's health and women across the country," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "The decision by HHS is monumental for millions of women."

Big, massive check mark on President Obama's record in office in the "promise kept" column.  Bon will probably have a lot more to say about this as well, this has been a major issue that she's been talking about.

These are the kind of positive changes that we said were coming with the passage of ACA and lo and behold these benefits are kicking in now that the law has been in effect for a while.  Yes, we've got another year to go before it's fully implemented, but it's coming.  This is also why 2012's election is so vital in order to safeguard these gains.

Hotel New Hampshire

The latest government numbers on alcohol and marijuana use show if you're looking for a good time, the Granite State is where to go:

Around 52 percent of 137,436 Americans interviewed in 2008 and 2009 said they had a tipple in the past month, the report released late last month by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says.

Drinking was most prevalent among 18-25 year olds, with the northeastern state of New Hampshire leading the charge: three-quarters of young adults in the state said they'd used alcohol in the past month, the report says.

Also a big state for knocking back a few stiff ones:  North Dakota is America's binge drinking capital.  But New Hampshire also likes to toke as well:

SAMHSA also looked at Americans' marijuana use and found that numbers using pot in the past month were up for the two years covered by the report: 6.4 percent of Americans aged 12 and older said they had used marijuana in the past month compared to six percent in 2007-2008.

In the 12- to 17-year age group, marijuana use fell, but seven percent of US teens still use cannabis, the report said.

The 10 states that saw the highest use of marijuana were Alaska, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Then again when your state is inundated with Republican Clown Car candidates and Village Tire Swingers for two years out of every four, well you'd want to reach for an escape too.


Related Posts with Thumbnails