Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Last Call

I leave you this evening with TNR's Rich Posner being firebagger depressing, even for him.

The American economy currently has both a short-term problem and a long-term problem. The short-term problem is that the economy is depressed; it is growing more slowly than the population, with the result that per capita income is declining. The high rate of un- and underemployment is a factor, but is itself the product of other factors, having mainly to do with the reluctance of over-indebted consumers (over-indebted in major part because of loss of equity in their houses, the major source of household wealth) to spend, the reluctance of the impaired banking industry to make risky loans, and the reluctance of businesses to invest and to hire, which is due in part to weak consumer spending and in part to profound uncertainty about the nation’s economic future.

The roots of this catastrophic situations lie primarily, I think, in the incompetent economic management of the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve. The persistence of the depression, however, is due in part at least to surprising failures of the Obama administration—poor leadership, poor management, the sponsorship of incomprehensibly complex health care and financial regulation laws that have created widespread uncertainty that has discouraged consumption and investment, and the inability to explain the nature of the economy’s problems to the general public. These failures caused the stimulus enacted in February 2009 to be botched in both in its design and its administration, resulting in the discrediting of deficit spending as a response to depression.

Yep.  Lack of bully pulpit and Obamacare killed the economy.  So what's Posner's solution?  Very next paragraph:

So what can be done now?  Probably nothing.

You ever notice that's the firebagger solution to pretty much every problem America has?   "Hey, so you're complaining about President Obama.  What do you think he can do to fix it?"  "Probably nothing."

And people wonder where I get the phrase "Emoprog" from.  Jesus wept.

Mother Nature Has A Pair Of Fives

A pair of earthquakes, that is.  One this morning in Colorado near the New Mexico border...

A moderate 5.3-magnitude earthquake that rattled southern Colorado early Tuesday morning was the largest to hit the state in more than 40 years, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The quake's epicenter was seven miles southwest of Cokedale, and 180 miles south of Denver. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

A dispatcher at the sheriff's office in Las Animas County, which includes Cokedale, said the quake lasted almost 30 seconds. The office received reports of rocks falling on a highway and of some structure damage.

It was the largest in a series of earthquakes that struck the area. As of 5 a.m. local time (7 a.m. ET), the USGS reported seven quakes centered just south of Cokedale since midnight.

And one this afternoon in Virginia near DC.

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 struck Tuesday near the nation's capital and sent shock waves up and down the East Coast.

"It's one of the largest that we've had there," said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones. Aftershocks were a concern, she said. "People should be expecting (them), especially over the next hour or two," she added.

Near the epicenter -- Mineral, Virginia -- Louisa County Sheriff's Lt. Roy "Snake" McGehee said he had heard of no injuries. "We've had some structural damage," he said. "My wife said the house shook pretty good." He'd felt three aftershocks in the hour after the initial quake.

And yes, yours truly did feel the second one as I was on the second floor of a building near the corner at the time.  I thought it was the wind at first until I saw the TV on the way out.  Nothing weird, been through them before, but DC is not used to these kinds of things.

A pair of fives, indeed.

Land Of The Rising Core Temperature, Part 39

Please pay no attention to the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan and the fact that thousands of people will basically never be able to return to their homes near the still radioactive Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Broad areas around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant could soon be declared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades, after a government survey found radioactive contamination that far exceeded safe levels, several major media outlets said Monday.

The formal announcement, expected from the government in coming days, would be the first official recognition that the March accident could force the long-term depopulation of communities near the plant, an eventuality that scientists and some officials have been warning about for months.

Lawmakers said over the weekend — and major newspapers reported Monday — that Prime Minister Naoto Kan was planning to visit Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant is, as early as Saturday to break the news directly to residents. The affected communities are all within 12 miles of the plant, an area that was evacuated immediately after the accident.

The government is expected to tell many of these residents that they will not be permitted to return to their homes for an indefinite period. It will also begin drawing up plans for compensating them by, among other things, renting their now uninhabitable land. While it is unclear if the government would specify how long these living restrictions would remain in place, news reports indicated it could be decades. That has been the case for areas around the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine after its 1986 accident. 

So yeah, Japan is washing its hands of a 12-mile radius around the plant...and the place is still hot.  Who knows how much larger the no-go zone could get say, six months or a year from now?  All land in 25 miles?  50 miles?  This thing isn't over by a long shot, and only now is the government admitting that being in 12 miles of the plant is uninhabitable by humans.  Who's going to live 13 miles from the plant?

This disaster just keeps on in its horror...and will for decades to come.

Brave Cop Couldn't Have Saved Child

Police in Southern California found the body of a baby girl near the scene where a police officer was filmed while being shot in the neck during a gun battle Sunday, officials said today.

Officer Jarder Slocum of the El Cajon Police Department, who is in stable condition, was shown stumbling and bleeding on camera after being hit with a bullet during a firefight between cops and a man hiding out in a house in a residential neighborhood.

Police found him dead in the home after the gunfight, and found the body of a 1-year-old girl in the suspected gunman's nearby truck, according to the Associated Press. Police believe the girl might be Collier's daughter, the report said.

As much as I watch the police and detest their use of excessive force and intrusion, this is a case where a good man tried to do the right thing and nearly paid for it with his life. Here's hoping Mr. Slocum makes a speedy recovery.

Even More Exciting New Levels

Follow-up regarding the girl who was sexually assaulted at school and forced to apologize when administrators said they didn't believe her.
Board President Ken Knierim said he feels confident the district did nothing wrong.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there," he said. "You need to get information from police reports. This was all handled properly. ... People are jumping to conclusions before they know all the facts."

The News-Leader requested incident reports from the Republic Police Department, but Chief Mark Lowe denied the request, citing Chapter 211.321 subsection 3 of the Missouri Statutes, which concerns the confidentiality of juvenile records.

If you want people to know facts, you have to share them. Sure, a minor's information should be protected, but don't expect me to believe that is what concerns them. If they were so worried about the girl, they wouldn't have allowed her to be sexually assaulted after forcing her to apologize for letting them know about the first attack.

People are pissed. I don't blame them. I'm pretty sure if the facts worked to their advantage, Republic schools would be quick to share them.  In the meantime, they can't have it both ways.  They cannot withhold information and then complain the facts aren't known.  The facts we do have say enough, and so far nobody has contested what is on record so far.


The Texas Miracle Is A Tall Tale

Republicans won't shut up about the "Texas Miracle", that the state created 126,000 jobs since President Obama took office, tops in the nation.  But something very interesting happens if you factor in the total number of jobs created compared to the total growth in the labor pool:

That's right. Texas added 126,000 jobs...but its labor force grew by almost three and half times that. What Texas really ended up doing was add nearly 450,000 people to the labor pool...and less than a third of them found jobs.

Texas, in other words, added 300,000 unemployed people to the country's rolls since President Obama took office...putting them dead last in the nation on that count.

Texas Miracle my ass.

Kasich Buckeyes Over The Unemployed

Ohio has a 9% unemployment rate, you say?  Why, let's leave $176 million in already appropriated federal money on the table and cut off people on extended federal jobless benefits instead.

Ohio faces its final deadline to expand its unemployment benefits program. If state officials choose to do so, the state is eligible for $176 million in unemployment insurance funds made available in the 2009 Recovery Act to states that broaden their unemployment programs.

However, despite a steadily increasing unemployment rate that is currently at 9 percent, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has failed to apply for the federal funds. His reasoning? Extending unemployment compensation “makes no sense

Yep.  Ohio Republicans are leaving two-thirds of the federal money for extended federal benefits because they don't want to do any of the following:

To receive the remaining two-thirds, the state would have to choose two options from among several: Allow people seeking part-time work to qualify for benefits, extend benefits to those in approved job training programs, increase the allowance for dependents, and provide benefits to people who leave work for certain family reasons, such as domestic violence or transfer of a spouse.

You see, to Kasich and Ohio Republicans, none of those options makes any sense.  So Ohio's long-term unemployed are going to get cut off in an economic recession because it's more fun to blame Obama instead, even though by taking the money and paying down the state's debt, it would save Ohio taxpayers millions in lower interest payments.

But attacking Obama in Ohio is more important than Ohio's long-term unemployed. That makes tons of sense.

Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il, Part 7

In hindsight, Rick Perry should probably have been made aware that writing a book at all designed to cater to the Tea Party nutjobs meant he had recorded unpopular positions he couldn't weasel out of by calling them a liberal media plot to misquote him and that he'd have to quickly deny any and all knowledge of the tract as soon as he made his Presidential ambitions known.

[Perry's] communications director, Ray Sullivan, said Thursday that he had “never heard” the governor suggest [Social Security] was unconstitutional. Not only that, Mr. Sullivan said, but “Fed Up!” is not meant to reflect the governor’s current views on how to fix the program. [...]
In an interview, Mr. Sullivan acknowledged that many passages in Mr. Perry’s “Fed Up!” could dog his presidential campaign. The book, Mr. Sullivan said, “is a look back, not a path forward.” It was written “as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto,” Mr. Sullivan said.
The campaign’s disavowal of “Fed Up!” is itself very new. On Sunday evening, at Mr. Perry’s first campaign stop in Iowa, a questioner asked the governor to talk about how he would fix the country’s rickety entitlement programs. Mr. Perry shot back: “Have you read my book, ‘Fed Up!’ Get a copy and read it.”

Right.  So a book written nine months ago does not nor did it ever reflect the Governor's current views.  Perhaps it's because the book included changes to the US Constitution like this:

Among Perry's changes, ending lifetime tenure for federal judges, allowing a 2/3rds vote in Congress to overrule any SCOTUS decision, a balanced budget amendment and scrapping the 16th and 17th Amendments, ending national income tax and direct voting for senators, not to mention the end of same-sex marriage and abortion...and putting that in the Constitution as well. 

Of course the real problem is that in the book, Perry challenges that Social Security is unconstitutional as well.

Perry not only argued that Social Security is bad policy but also questioned whether Congress ever had the power to enact it. He argued that the Taxing and Spending Clause allows Congress to levy taxes and spend money only in limited areas. He said he doubted that when the founders gave Congress this power they were "thinking about a federally operated program of pensions."

So really, Rick Perry is telling you that as long as you don't pay attention to the book he wrote on his political positions, he never took those political positions.

More on this idiocy at Rumproast and Steve M.'s place.


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