Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Last Call

Republicans are now actively calling for Social Security and Medicare cuts in order to "fix the economy".  Orange Julius and Eric Cantor in particular have no issue removing taking a jackhammer to the third rail of US politics.

"The worst thing Washington can do for our economy is raise taxes on the people we need to start hiring again," Republican House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a USA Today opinion piece.

The lawmakers noted that a newly created US Congress "super committee" faced a late-November deadline for recommending $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts over ten years and urged cuts to government-backed health and retirement programs.

The committee "will be in a position to make tough choices to rein in the mandatory and entitlement spending that is driving our long-term debt," said Boehner and Cantor.

"We believe this work can be done without imposing job-crushing tax increases. We should be able to move forward on the areas in which we agree on the former, without tying them to areas of disagreement -- such as the latter," they said.

In other words, they are back spouting the same crap as they were during the debt ceiling deal:  cut SS and Medicare or else.  They aren't trying to hide it.  They aren't being sneaky about it.  They are straight up saying that Republicans intend to balance the budget with zero tax increases and 100% social program cuts.

The question is what do Democrats do about it?  Because the longer Cantor and Boehner are able to get away with the ridiculous falsehood of saying "The only way to create jobs is to destroy SS and Medicare" then the more Cokie's Law comes into play and the conversation then moves to "Well all the serious people in Washington agree that we have to dismantle it because we can't afford it anymore."

Dems need to come out swinging on this.

He Really Said "Pizza Was A Good Idea"

In non-"Rick Perry is a douchebag" related news items, Herman Cain is a douchebag.

Asked on a conference call with bloggers this evening why Republicans can't just impeach Barack Obama, Herman Cain answers that it's mostly a matter of legislative politics, POLITICO's Elizabeth Titus reports:
"That’s a great question and it is a great — it would be a great thing to do but because the Senate is controlled by Democrats we would never be able to get the Senate first to take up that action, because they simply don’t care what the American public thinks. They would protect him and they wouldn’t even bring it up," Cain said, citing the administration's position on the Defense of Marriage Act as an impeachable offense.

I mean honestly, we all know that if the GOP retains control of the House in 2012, they will try to impeach President Obama.  If you're running for President on the notion that we should impeach the current President, then really, nobody can help you with the existential levels of fail.

Analyzing Cain's strategy at another level, he appears to be trying to convince people that even if the GOP nominees (including the subset of one Herman Cain) are too insane to actually be elected President because they keep pushing the extreme notion that President Obama should be impeached over DOMA, you should vote for Republicans anyway at the congressional level because they'll impeach Obama.

I know, it makes my head hurt too.

Hacked Off In The UK, Part 8

Been a few weeks since a solid update on the Murdoch empire's phone hacking scandal, but the latest is a doozy: several new letters involving News Corp staff and phone hacking were sent to high ups, including Rupert Murdoch's son James.

The most incendiary of the letters, dating from 2007, was written by Clive Goodman, the paper's former royal editor, who was once close friends with Coulson. The then NoW editor fired Goodman when he pleaded guilty four years ago to hacking into mobile phones belonging to members of the royal household.

Goodman mounted an appeal against his dismissal. In a letter written in March 2007, and handed to MPs by the law firm Harbottle & Lewis – beware a lawyer scorned – Goodman claimed Coulson was aware that phone hacking took place. He said the practice had been openly discussed in editorial conference until Coulson himself barred those who attended from mentioning it.

As smoking guns go, this one is still hot: there is a devastating line in every paragraph. For years, News International has insisted it had one rotten apple in the newsroom: Goodman. Now it appears that all along it has been sitting on a letter which explicitly claims that the entire newsroom was rotten. The letter also alleges that Crone and Coulson offered Goodman his job back if he did not implicate the paper or its staff in his mitigation plea. It is true that Goodman may be a man with an axe to grind, but News International, interestingly, did not try to claim that he could not be trusted.

Even more tellingly, a second copy of the Goodman letter, sent to the committee by News International itself, was censored by the company so that Goodman's reference to discussion about hacking in editorial conference was removed.

Goodman's claims, if true, undermine repeated denials from Coulson, who told the same MPs in 2009 that he was not aware of the practice.

So if these letters are true, News Corp's top brass knew about the phone hacking, knew it was widespread at News of the World, and knew about it for several years.  All three combined means Rupert and James Murdoch were more or less completely lying to the British parliament when they testified in front of them last month.

In other words, the Murdochs are in serious trouble.  This was the inevitable other shoe dropping, and now we'll see just how much Britain will do about it.  And let's not forget possible charges against News Corp for their US operations, either.

It's about to get ugly.

New Tattoo - Not Just For Sailors Anymore

It seems the advancement in using tattoo-like interfaces to monitor health has just taken yet another major leap.
The device platform includes electronic components, medical diagnostics, communications, and human-machine interfacing on a patch so thin and durable it can be mounted to skin much like a temporary tattoo.
What's more, the team was able to demonstrate its invention across a wide range of components, including LEDs, transistors, wireless antennas, sensors, and conductive coils and solar cells for power.
"We threw everything in our bag of tricks onto that platform, and then added a few other new ideas on top of those to show that we could make it work," said engineering professor John A. Rogers in a news release. The research is described in detail in the journal Science.

The mobility of the technology is as impressive as its potential uses.  Instead of waiting at the doctor's office, you can just enter a site and be scanned.  Blood sugar, toxins and oxygen saturation can all be monitored easily.  It's a little creepy to me for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, but I can't deny the possibilities far outweigh the risks.  Once the technology is available to everyone, we will see the way checkups are conducted change forever.

Rehabilitation Program Gives Hope

Venezuela's Coro prison is on to something.
Surrounded on four sides by high walls or fences, looked over by a watch tower and countless closed-circuit cameras, the inner courtyard at this mixed prison is a barren and unwelcoming place.
But the music is a clue that not all is so bleak at this jail.
In the auditorium, more than 300 prisoners are preparing to show off their musical skills.
Around half are learning to play an instrument - violin, tuba, double bass or saxophone - while the others have been training their voices during choir practice.

Prison should not be fun.  However, teaching people inside to learn pride, honest skills and good character habits is a major win for society.  This is clearly the latter.  Prisoners learn responsibility, work ethic, appreciation of music... and a trade.  How can we turn criminals around without goals?  Music teaches so much, including patience and dedication, an appreciation for something that has lifted souls for thousands of years.  And they show measurable success to back their claims of improvement.

How To Invest A Million Dollars Over Ten Years

Buy a congressional Super Committee, for starters.

The conservative Club for Growth and its members gave more money to lawmakers who are members of the new congressional "super committee" on debt than any other organization, PAC or group of individuals, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan

Club for Growth, its members and employees, contributed more than $990,000 over the last decade, topping Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, EMILY's List and others.

The club has been an influential force in political campaigns, and helped propel its past president, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), to the Senate last fall. Toomey was named last week to the new super committee.

Bought and paid for, ladies and gentlemen.  And they get to decide the fate of Social Security.

Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il, Part 3

Wow, it's only been like three days, and Rick Perry has already racked up enough demerits for KP duty.  Brian Beutler:

Texas governor, and freshly minted GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry will have to explain what he meant when he said "we would treat [Fed chairman Ben Bernanke] pretty ugly down in Texas" if he prints money -- or, more charitably, printing more money than usual. Likewise, he'll have to explain why he thinks printing money -- or prints more money than usual -- would be "almost treasonous," at least as compared to, say, secession.

But what's gone completely unnoticed in the wake of candidate Perry's first big flap is his rationale for opposing a looser Fed policy in this depressed economy: specifically that it would work, boost the economy, and thus make it harder for the GOP to defeat President Obama.

"If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas. Printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost treacherous -- or treasonous -- in my opinion."

To recap, exercising Fed policy to save America's economy when a Republican is president, vital and necessary.  When that President is Barack Obama, it's treason.   Also, Texans will attack central bankers on sight.  This from, as Beutler mentioned, a proponent of the state's secession from the union.

I told you guys the opposition research on Perry would be miles of laughs, right up until this jackass gets the nomination.

I will give Perry credit for one thing however:  he's pissing off Karl Rove.  Meanwhile, President Obama is having fun with the newbie.

You know, Mr. Perry just got into the presidential race. I think that everybody who runs for president, it probably takes them a little bit of time before they start realizing that this isn't like running for governor or running for senator or running for Congress, and you've got to be a little more careful about what you say. But I'll cut him some slack. He's only been at it for a few days now.

 Classic Obama, folks.  Classic.

Realpolitik Is Pretty Fugly

Especially because we need Pakistan.

The United States has no choice but to keep up its alliance with Pakistan despite concerns over Islamabad's ties to Islamist militants, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.

Panetta, speaking to an audience of military officers at the National Defense University, said relations with Pakistan were difficult because elements of the government had links with the Haqqani network, which is staging attacks on US-led troops in neighboring Afghanistan, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for orchestrating attacks in India.

"What makes this complicated is that they have relationships with the Haqqanis, and the Haqqani tribe are going across the border and attacking our forces in Afghanistan," he said at the Washington insitution, which is tasked with providing training in national and international security for US and foreign officials.

"It's pretty clear that there's a relationship there," said Panetta, who appeared along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the event.

What Panetta doesn't say here is even more important:  somewhat unstable Middle East country with nuclear weapons that's the traditional enemy of one of our larger trading partners (India) is not somebody we can just put in the time out corner.

Better our friend so we can keep them close, than our enemy.  Despite all the GOP grumbling, or in fact especially because of it.   Probably why we're paying for their new dam project.

Even as U.S.-Pakistani cooperation on anti-terrorism programs is withering, the United States is considering backing the construction of a giant, $12 billion dam in Pakistan that would be the largest civilian aid project the U.S. has undertaken here in decades.

Supporters of a U.S. role in the project say American participation would mend the United States' tattered image, going a long way toward quieting widespread anti-Americanism amid criticism that the U.S. lavishes money on Pakistan's military while doing little for the country's civilian population.

And yes, it's a $12 billion bribe.  Like I said, fugly.


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