Friday, September 16, 2011

Last Call

The courts stopped Kansas from closing their state's abortion clinics with nearly impossible to meet state government health regulations, but that's not stopping Republicans in Virginia from approving the same plan to regulate abortion clinics out of existence in the state.

New rules to regulate abortion clinics cleared a state health panel Thursday, the last public step in the approval process before they are to take effect by the start of next year.

On a 12-1 vote, the Board of Health advanced temporary regulations requiring licensure of clinics where at least five first-trimester abortions are performed per month.

The vote came after a lengthy public hearing and discussion by the 15-member board, composed of nine Republican appointees and six Democratic ones. Two Democratic appointees were absent Thursday.

The guidelines would hold clinics to architectural standards that many facilities don't presently meet, and establish annual licensing protocols and procedures for unannounced inspections, among other directives.

Support for the stricter rules is shared by many abortion opponents, including some faith-based advocacy groups, who say it requires greater government oversight to protect patient safety.

Abortion rights supporters claim the regulations are designed to force clinics out of business by imposing standards that make compliance difficult.

They estimate that as many as 17 of the more than 20 clinics in the state could cease operations.

But remember, we need less government interference in small businesses instead of drowning them in job-killing regulations, right?

Oh wait.

A Troubled Bridge Over Water

I talked about this on Twitter yesterday and will do so again here:  President Obama is coming to Cincy to make his infrastructure pitch to America with our own obsolete and crumbling Brent Spence Bridge in the background, connecting Orange Julius's district with Mitch McConnell's state.

President Obama will promote his jobs bill at a bridge important to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) district next week, the White House announced Thursday.
The White House said that Obama would visit the Brent Spence Bridge in Ohio on Sept. 22 in order to highlight the “urgent need” for infrastructure improvements, one of the ideas included in his bill.
Although the bridge is located very near Boehner’s district, Obama has not spoken to the Speaker since he gave his speech introducing the bill to a joint session of Congress last week, and White House press secretary Jay Carney did not know Thursday whether Boehner had been notified.
Carney said the bridge was chosen because it is “relatively easy to get to from Washington.”

Republicans are howling that this is a "political move" and a snarky use of the Brent Spence as a prop to sell Obama's jobs bill.  You know what?  This is a political move and a snarky use of the Brent Spence as a prop to sell Obama's jobs bill, and frankly I can't think of a better place in America to do it.  Republicans are just pissed off that this is such low-hanging fruit that favors the President.  Sour grapes, folks?

I'm going to be off Thursday, so I'll see what I can do as far as getting across the river and getting some pictures.

Shore Is Fishy, Yous Guys

Turns out if there's one thing New Jersey Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it's being pissed off over MTV getting nearly half a million in state tax credit for filming Jersey Shore in New Jersey.

On Wednesday, reported that taxpayers would be paying the credit for the show's first season in 2009, as approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

"I can't believe we are paying for fake tanning for 'Snooki' and 'The Situation', and I am not even sure $420,000 covers that," said State Rep. Declan O'Scanlon (R). "This is a great investment for the taxpayers, as if they can make a show called 'Jersey Shore' anywhere else."

State Sen. Joe Vitale (D) called on Christie to veto the credit. "It is disparaging to Italian Americans. He should veto it," he said.

Christie himself has criticized "Jersey Shore" for misrepresenting the state (most of the cast members are from Staten Island or other parts of New York). "The Governor's opinions about Jersey Shore and its New Yorker cast are well-known," his office said in a statement Wednesday. "They are phonies and the show is a false portrayal of New Jersey and our shore communities."

But, Christie's office said, "the Governor cannot veto EDA action that is in compliance with non-discretionary, existing law....The bottom line is that the governor has not been in favor of this tax credit, and this and other applications were in the pipeline from the prior administration."

Of course Chris "Big Pussy" Christie has a problem with the tan/gym/laundry crowd, but not enough to show these goombas the door.  Nothing personal, just business.

Greek Fire, Part 42

Zero Hedge has you covered on some weighty reading on what will happen when Greece defaults...and the operative word there is when, not if.

With each passing day bringing us new predictions in the form of research reports, white papers, analyses, and plain old rants on what a Greek default would mean for the Eurozone, for the Euro, for markets, and the for world in general, it is clear that absolutely nobody knows what will happen. Alas, since this topic will be with us for a while until the can kicking finally fails, many more such prognostications will be forthcoming.

Today, we present three different pieces, one from Reuters, which gives a 30,000 foot perspective, one a slightly more technical from Citi, looking at a Greek default from a rates point of view, and lastly, a primer from Goldman's Huw Pill, looking at the aftermath of the current situation for the euro area, with or without a Greek bankruptcy. While we have no idea what will happen to global markets should Greece default, and it will, we are 100% certain that we will present many more such analyses in the future as more and more people piggyback on the Cassandra bandwagon.

Keep an eye on these analyses and how they measure up when the bottom finally rusts through. I've been waving red flags on Greece now for a year and a half now, and I'm more convinced than ever that this will wreck the Eurozone and be the center of the hurricane that will batter our already heavily damaged economy.

I'm hoping that in a second term President Obama will have more freedom to act.  What I fear is a GOP government in 2013 that will drop us into another lost decade with austerity and complete the destruction of the middle class.

The Netflix Conundrum: Aftermath

Netflix has shown a drastic decline in subscribers, more than expected.  Either they have something up their sleeve, some hidden power move that will make this all come together, or they are the poster child for Worst Management Ever.

Investors are fleeing Netflix's stock and many subscribers have turned their backs on the Web's No. 1 video-rental service.

Netflix recently recommended 'High Noon' for streaming. Superb movie but 60 years old. Netflix needs more sought-after content.

A combination of skimpy selection in Netflix's Internet-streaming library, problems acquiring content, and an unpopular price increase have led the company's leadership to what appears to be a crucial moment. Observers are beginning to wonder if Netflix's stunning growth of the past two years is coming to an end.

Netflix said today that it expects to report 1 million fewer U.S. subscribers in the third quarter than previously anticipated, a 4 percent shortfall. That number includes almost 800,000 fewer DVD-only subscribers than expected.

I was one of those people. We can't vote to control the country, but mess with our American Idol, dancing star or entertainment, and we are all over that.


University Of Hard Knocks

The ACLU has wasted no time in going after Linn State Technical College in Missouri, the little school that made big noise with its mandatory student drug testing policy.

Linn State Technical College’s first-in-the-country, mandatory student drug testing that could lead to no-refund dismissals has been challenged in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri this week filed a federal lawsuit accusing the two-year publicly funded college in Linn, Mo., of “violating the constitutional rights of its students by forcing them to submit to mandatory drug tests as a condition of their enrollment.”

On Thursday, a judge in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, where the lawsuit was filed, granted a temporary restraining order to stop the testing and analysis of any samples already collected and to block release of any results garnered from the testing.

Donald M. Claycomb, president of Linn State Technical College, and members of the board of regents are named as defendants. Officials at the college east of Jefferson City declined to comment and referred calls to their attorney Kent Brown, who was not available for comment.

The drug testing policy was adopted earlier this month and requires all students — first-year and those returning after at least a semester-long break — to pay a $50 non-refundable fee and submit to urine test. The college has 1,176 students.

The folks who should be screaming the loudest at this are the Ron Paulites and the smaller government conservatives, but Paulites will say that there should be no community colleges period and conservatives have no problem using government power to go after college kids who might learn something and become liberals (or graduate from technical school and take up trades as -- the horror -- unionized blue collar workers).

I'll let Bon take this one from here, seeing as this is in her backyard.

The Keystone To The 2012 Election

In a rare admission of logic, GOP Rep. Pete Sessions is far more worried that the Dems will bring the noise to Pennsylvania's suburban swing districts and cause more serious damage to the GOP political power in the House than the Republicans would gain under the state GOP's electoral college split scheme.

Keystone GOP leaders want the battleground state, which has gone Democratic in the past five presidential elections, to divvy up its 20 votes in the Electoral College according to the winner of each congressional district, rather than the winner-take-all system used by all but two states. In theory, it could allow Republicans to win the majority of Pennsylvania electoral votes even if they lose the popular vote. That’s because many of Pennsylvania’s rural congressional districts are heavily Republican.

The problem: Since statewide vote totals would no longer matter, Republicans worry Democrats will move campaign efforts out of safe Democratic districts in urban population centers and into the more moderate suburbs. That could put extra heat on GOP House candidates.

“This proposal will have a minimal effect on the presidential race at the expense of negatively altering the political landscape for Republicans in Pennsylvania’s House races,” said Mr. Sessions, a Texan who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee.

On one hand, seeing this in the WSJ made me smile. TP vs DC Conserva-schism time.

On the other hand, the protesting by Sessions and some PA Republicans in those swing districts seems hollow to the point of being self-serving fantastical crap. Specifically, it seems designed to blunt Democratic party criticism of the GOP's proposed move as a naked power grab.

On the gripping hand, I've been saying all along that Republicans are winning because they are gathering power at the state level and redistricting Democrats out of existence, leaving a majority of districts as suburban and exurban safe GOP zones and forcing all the state's Dems into one or two minority-majority districts that are 90% blue.  Sessions' concerns do reflect the downside of that strategy that some of those new GOP districts are stretched thin.  Only so many Tea Party bigots to go around, you know.

We'll see how this works out. 

More Leftover Weiner

NY1 politico Errol Louis says "all politics are local" in the Dems' loss of Anthony Weiner's seat, then proceeds to pin the entire thing on President Obama.

But the larger lesson to be drawn from the Turner victory is a basic one that the Democratic establishment appears to have forgotten or ignored: All politics is local. That well-known observation by former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill has a New York City corollary: In the often-rowdy ethnic stew of America's most diverse city, all politics is tribal. The Democrats goofed on that, too.

OK, so it's all local.  How is it President Obama's fault then?

National Democrats, including Team Obama, have their work cut out for them. Not only do they have to continue the fight to revive the economy in this election season, they have to get much smarter about how to tailor and target their positions, candidates and rhetoric to each of America's 435 congressional seats.

A one-size-fits-all approach might work for Obama himself, but when it comes to Congress, every district has its own peculiarities. And at that level, all politics is -- well, you know the rest.

So again, all politics is local, but it's President Obama's fault?

So when Jewish, Democratic ex-Mayor Ed Koch crossed party lines to endorse Turner -- and called for other Jewish Dems to follow suit as a way to send a message to Obama -- the message resonated. Prominent rabbis, who were already upset over Weprin's support for same-sex marriage, took Koch's move as another reason to support Turner, a conservative Catholic.

So wait, now Weprin lost because all politics is local, but really he lost because of the President's policies towards another country.   Awesome.  He lost because Ed Koch stabbed both Weprin and the President in the back, but somehow, it's always President Obama's fault.

And people wonder why Dems lose elections.  Jesus wept.


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