Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Last Call

At the NY Times, Tom Friedman asks where President Obama's opinion on the Super Committee's budget planning is and "what his preferred outcome is".  Nobody seems to know, Friedman argues.  Why isn't the President leading by example?  Why is there no budget proposal from the White H...wait, what do you mean it's been out for months and Friedman's too lazy to Google it?

Helpful Yggy is helpful!

The answer is probably that few Americans do know the precise details of President Obama’s proposals for achieving long-term budget balance. One reason is that most people don’t really care. Another reason is that many more-engaged Americans rely on major newspapers to convey this kind of information to them. But those of us familiar with the world-flattening capabilities of the Internet are able to find such documents as “Living Within Our Means And Investing In The Future: The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction” (PDF) published by the Office of Management and Budget in September. As you might gather from the title, it contains a plan, endorsed by the president, for economic growth and deficit reduction. The details on the tax side are spelled out starting on page 43, with other sections dealing with mandatory savings and health savings separately. There are a bunch of summary tables in the back, too. Unfortunately the tables are too wide to be reproduced on the blog in a way that preserves legibility. But interested parties can and should download the document! My guess is that if Friedman phones up the OMB press office someone there would be happy to walk him through it. Barring that, here’s a four page fact sheet (PDF) and here’s video of OMB Director Jack Lew.

Apparently Friedman is the Village's version of Schroedinger.  He doesn't know if the long-term deficit reduction proposal exists or not until he opens the box.  There's lazy journalism, and then there's Tom Friedman.

The GOP Plan Comes Into Clear View

Via ABLC comes this video of California Democrat Loretta Sanchez outright accusing her GOP colleagues in Congress of wanting to sabotage the economy for political gain.

Interviewer: You’ve heard them say that?

Sanchez: Yes. They have said that. They’ve said that! They’ve said that behind closed doors to me! They said, “Nothing is moving.” They said, “We want to make him look bad. We want to get rid of him. We want to get rid of the health care reform bill.” They only way they believe they can get rid of health care reform is to get rid of President Obama.

Interviewer: Who is saying that, Congresswoman?

Sanchez: Well, I’m not gonna … these are actual friends on the other side who have said, “This is what is happening in our conference”, in their groupings when they’re meeting.

She does stop short of naming names, but let's remember that my state's Senator, Mitch McConnell, has publicly gone on record as saying the most important goal for Republicans is not jobs, not fixing the economy, not helping the American people through the housing depression and economic crisis, but defeating President Obama. That is his stated top priority. All other concerns are incidental to Republicans and they fully understand that continuing to hamstring the economy is politically damaging to the President.

It's the worst kept secret in Washington DC that Obama Derangement Syndrome is so pervasive among the GOP that they will resort to any measures to defeat him, up to and including throwing us into another recession through legislative inertia.

Unlucky Number 14

Or so I hope.

For the fourteenth time, Charles "Tex" Watson is trying to get out on parole.  For those who don't remember, Watson was the "handsome cowboy" of the Manson family.  He is the earliest example I can think of when it comes to a mass murderer having mass female fans.  For those too young to really know the story of Charles Manson, Tex was their Michael Kelso.

Every time this comes around, family members come to remind us that their loved ones are gone, taken in a way that was horrifying and painful, at the whim of a group of killers.  I still wouldn't buy it, but some criminals have gotten free by using the peer pressure method, and that is what they are trying to claim here.  He was tricked, some would say.  He was a young guy and now he's an old man, this is all because he listened to a tricky psycho decades ago and was suckered in.

You know who isn't old?  Sharon Tate.  Or Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.  If you watch later documentaries, there could be as many as a dozen "family members" who decided to leave and were killed instead.  They were rumored to be buried around the desert, sometimes as a warning and sometimes to prevent them from speaking with outsiders.  Old Tex wasn't tricked into killing just once, but multiple times, and in grisly ways that required dedication.  This wasn't a panic shot or overly enthusiastic purse snatching.  This is brutal murder.  A pregnant woman begged for her baby's life that night.  Another woman fought so hard that even with a cord tied around her neck she held off the intruders until blood loss from a bayonet made her too weak to stand.  These people fought hard and met  merciless death.  And this man was part of that from beginning to end.

Watson's attorney, Cheryl Montgomery, did not return repeated telephone messages.
Watson married and divorced in prison and has four children from conjugal visits, but his family did not respond to a request for comment that was left through the website that promotes Watson's prison ministry,

You know who doesn't get conjugal visits? The LaBiancas, who died knowing their spouse was also doomed. Sharon Tate died protecting her baby, she doesn't get to see them grow up. She was eight months pregnant when they killed her. They took special steps to kill her child, and made sure she knew it before they took her life.

He doesn't deserve prison, but it'll have to do. I don't believe he has a chance in hell, but I'm still grossed out and slightly worried because when you toss the dice you run the risk of the wrong outcome.

Missing The Point Epic Fail Style

CHICAGO  -- Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis apologized to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Monday after a video of Lewis saying Duncan had a lisp was made public.

Lewis, who is also the vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, made the comments during a Northwest Teachers for Social Justice event in Seattle on Oct. 1. Video from the event was posted on YouTube by the conservative Education Action Group late last week.

"Now, you know [Duncan] went to private school 'cause if he had gone to public school he would have had that lisp fixed," Lewis said in the video.

So much for social justice, right? Who is so dense as to open a speech at a themed event by making fun of an adult for their lisp? Can anyone that clueless possibly have anything to offer? It's clear that she tried to be cool and came off as an ass, bringing the wrath of others who covered the event.

Conservative columnist and EAG CEO Kyle Olson slammed Lewis in a blog post about the Seattle speech.

"I thought we taught children not to mock or make fun of others. Apparently the teachers are exempt from such lessons," Olson wrote. "This is the best the Chicago school employees have to offer?"
In this instance, I agree.  This was supposed to be about education, social justice, and being better than the crowd.  Karen Lewis failed on all counts.

It's About Time Someone Stepped In (Privacy On The Web)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has released the first draft of a new web standard aimed at improving online privacy. The W3C’s new Standard for Online Privacy is a set of tools that will ultimately enable your browser to stop sites from tracking your every move on the web.

The first draft of the new privacy standard revolves around the “Do Not Track” (DNT) HTTP header originally introduced by Mozilla as a part of Firefox 4. The DNT header — a bit of code sent every time your browser talks to a web server — can be used to tell websites you don’t want to be tracked. The goal is to give you an easy way to opt out of often invasive tracking practices like behavioral advertising.

Behavior advertising refers to the increasingly common practice of tracking your online behavior and using it to tailor ads to your habits. Advertisers use cookies to follow you around the web, tracking which sites you visit, what you buy and even, in the case of mobile browsers, where you go.

Participation can be circumvented by advertisement companies, but peer pressure should encourage sites to use only "approved" advertisements in the future. The FCC has failed to set any guidelines or rankings for privacy and enforcement is nil right now. This is an important first step in the right direction, now it's up to us to explain to businesses that we demand privacy and the ability to control when and how we are tracked.

Super Committee Super Collider, Part 2

The Super Committee's deficit reduction plans seem to have hit a bit of a snag in the "additional revenue" department.

It’s hard to see how the Super Committee can possibly reach a consensus by this time next week after Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling’s appearance on CNBC Tuesday night. The short version is that he left the ball in Democrats court, and hinted that if the committee fails, Congress will spend the next year or so trying to change the terms of an automatic penalty to make sure that hundreds of billions of cuts to defense programs never take effect.

Hensarling claimed that if the committee recommended even a dollar of new net tax revenue — the kind of revenue Dems are demanding — it would constitute a step in the wrong direction. He said a GOP plan put forward by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) — one which Republicans claim would raise revenues by nearly $300 billion over 10 years, but would also make the Bush tax cuts permanent — is as far as Republicans are willing to go on revenues. But that’s an offer Democrats flatly rejected as unserious. And unless one of the parties breaks cleanly with its publicly stated position, the committee will either fall well short of reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years as required by law, or will fail altogether.

The Super Committee was never going to reach a deal, and the cuts were never going to happen.  As long as Republicans can filibuster in the Senate and/or control the House (and right now they can do both) nothing substantive will get done legislatively.  Ever.  It's designed to fail, because the GOP assures it will.  That nine percent approval rating doesn't matter because 85%-90% of Congress will get re-elected even in a "wave election" year like 2008 and again in 2010.  It's the same thing.

It's depressing, but true.

Meanwhile, Jeb Hensarling is running around saying that the Democrats have to give him 100% of what he wants, and then he'll maybe decide what he and the GOP can deign to give back.  But as usual, their starting position is complete victory or else.

Same as it ever was.

Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il, Part 11

With his campaign in shambles, Rick Perry returned to Iowa and went for broke with the full Tea Party rewrite of the Constitution, knowing that there's no point now in pretending he's a moderate in any way.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas on Tuesday announced a proposal to alter the federal government that ranks among the most radical plans offered by any major Republican presidential candidate this year — and one that legal analysts say will almost surely never happen: making Congress operate part-time with half pay and ending lifetime tenure for federal judges.

“I don’t believe that Washington needs a new coat of paint — I think the whole place needs to be overhauled,” Mr. Perry said, speaking to applause from more than 100 people on the floor of the Schebler manufacturing plant here. “I’m a true believer that we need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C., and our federal institutions.”

Mr. Perry, who is trying to reboot a campaign that is lagging in the polls, proposed cutting the pay of Congress in half (or by three-fourths, under one proposal he sketched out) and halving both its budget and the time members spend in Washington.

“We have a lot of well-intentioned members of Congress, but they have become creatures of Washington,” Mr. Perry said. “They get paid more than three times the average American family, and they have doubled their own budgets in the last decade.”

Mr. Perry also vowed to “reform” the federal judiciary. “Too many federal judges rule with impunity from the bench,” he said, “and those who legislate from the bench should not be entitled to lifetime abuse of their judicial authority.” He proposed 18-year terms, staggered every two years, for new Supreme Court justices, and suggested similar limits on federal appellate and district court judges.

Shorter Perry:  If I am elected as Rock in 2012, I promise to nerf Paper, and to nerf Scissors too for good measure.

It's telling that Perry's basically relying on the lunatic fringe to power what's left of his campaign at this point, promising to end the Departments of Everything on top of all this stuff, putting tens of thousands out of work, cutting off government services to pretty much everyone, and all while not having a chance in hell of actually enacting his plan.  But it doesn't matter, he's just reduced to being as crazy as he can possibly be right now in order to try to win back the increasingly insane GOP base.

They deserve each other, frankly.  But of course, all of us deserve better than them.

A Friend In Need

On a serious note this morning, Rumproaster Strange Appar8tus is in really, really bad shape in the hospital and Kevin and the Rumpies are putting out a call for help.  I owe the Rumpies a hell of a lot, they were one of the first blogs to notice ZVTS and reach out to us.  If you can help them out, do so:

We have a sad and urgent message about our dear friend and Rumproast blogger StrangeAppar8us: for the past ten days, he has been hospitalized and fighting for his life.  He is stabilized now to some degree, but is on a long, difficult road about which nothing is certain but that it will include disability. We wish we could tell you, our wonderful readers and friends, more, but we are committed to honoring Strange’s privacy, which is also the wish of his family. The day after he was hospitalized, I flew to Pennsylvania, accompanied by his friend and Rumproast founder Kevin K. and his lovely wife. Marindenver is here with him now as well.

What the Rumpies really need is someone to take care of Strange's cats.  If you can help, head over to Rumproast.

We're pulling for you, SA.


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