Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Call

And everyone knew this was coming considering the lengths Politifact went to in order to include it in their short list for the year's biggest whopper:  the fact check site has indeed named the DCCC's claim that the GOP voted to end Medicare as we know it their Political Lie of the Year.  But there's a distinct reason they did so, and they were happy enough to include it in the text.

"Both parties use entitlements as political weapons," Ryan said in an interview with PolitiFact. "Republicans do it to Democrats; Democrats do it to Republicans. So I knew that this would be a political weapon that the other side would use against us."

Liberal bloggers and columnists contend it's accurate to say Republicans voted to end Medicare. Left-leaning websites such as Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, and The New Republic said PolitiFact's analysis was wrong, as did New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.

"According to (PolitiFact's) logic, if the FBI were replaced with a voucher program wherein citizens would receive subsidies for hiring private investigators to look into criminal activity, but the agency running the voucher program were still called the FBI, it would be unfair to say that the FBI had been ended," wrote Jed Lewison for Daily Kos. "I guess it's their right to make that argument, but it's transparently absurd."

In a blog post, the DCCC stood by its claim, saying the ad accurately stated Ryan's plan would "abolish" Medicare.

And it does.  Politifact's argument about Medicare is absurd, because only an absurd argument can justify such an awful conclusion.  It would be like replacing sugar with asphalt, then writing "sugar" on the side of the container.  You can argue that there's sugar in there, but try selling cookies made out of what's in there and see how long that lasts.

The Kroog was merciless again this morning:

The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear “balanced” — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.

Way to go, guys.

And as Dave Weigel points out, the actual lie that Politifact attributes to the DCCC actually came from...Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal.

Getting somewhat lost in this discussion is where the "ends Medicare" line came from. It was not birthed like Athena from the skull of Nancy Pelosi. It came from an April 4, 2011 preview of the Ryan plan by Naftali Bendavid, writing in the Wall Street Journal -- that simmering pot of liberal bias.

Yep, the fact checkers can't get their facts straight on this one...all the way to calling this the lie of the year, just to play "See, both parties tell massive evil lies!"  Politifact really is useless, irrelevant, and as of now, no longer cited at ZVTS.

See ya.

Too Big To Fail Is Failing

The country's largest bank, Bank of America, is now on life support with its stock under the $5 a share poison price as of close yesterday on the Dow.

Bank of America dropped 4.1 percent to $4.99 at 4:15 p.m. in New York, the worst showing in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after falling as much as 5.4 percent, the most in more than a month. The lender has plunged 63 percent this year.

European regulators are struggling to quell concern that their lenders may be hurt by the sovereign-debt crisis. For Bank of America, a sustained decline below $5 could reduce its appeal to investors, said Eric Teal, chief investment officer at First Citizens Bancshares Inc., which manages $4 billion in Raleigh, North Carolina, including Bank of America shares.

“As active managers, we have screens that usually prohibit us from buying stocks under $5,” Teal said in an interview, citing the greater volatility and risk of such equities. “If we own it, we would not kick it out automatically, but generally we tend to avoid stocks like that.”

Bank of America shares have been pummeled as bond buyers and insurers demanded the company repurchase soured mortgages made by Countrywide Financial Corp., the home lender acquired in 2008 whose lax underwriting contributed to record U.S. defaults. Concern has also focused on the impact that a sovereign European default could have on the world’s largest financial firms. 

No secret here that B of A has too much exposure to a European implosion, as do the rest of the big banks in the US.  But there's still Foreclosuregate to deal with, and the two combined mean this bank is in real trouble.

Enough to be in $5 freefall and falling.  Could this be the trigger event that causes the Fed to step in?  Can the Fed even try to step in without the Republicans literally trying to string up Helicopter Ben?  And how bad will it get before the Fed is allowed to do anything about this mess?

2012 will show us these answers and more, I suspect.

And Then...Enter The Moose

Sarah Palin's bank account must be running dangerously close to under a couple million or so, either that or her narcissism is kicking in full blast, because...she's baaaaaaaaaaaack!

In a pre-taped interview set to air tonight on Fox Business Network’s “Follow The Money,” Eric Bolling mentioned to Sarah Palin that people constantly tell him they wish she was running for President. Instead of tut-tutting the idea, Palin — who said on Sunday that she wasn’t ready to endorse any Republican candidate yet — swung the door wide open for a possible entry into the GOP field:

“Any chance we can see you making a play, even after Iowa or New Hampshire?” Bolling asked. “There’s still plenty of time, Governor.”
“You know, it’s not too late for folks to jump in,” Palin replied. “And I don’t know, you know, it — who knows what will happen in the future?”

So… good news for all those people who bought “Palin 2012″ t-shirts as a joke four years ago; they may soon be wear-able outside of Halloween parties or in ironic neighborhoods of Brooklyn. And love her or hate her, Palin entering the race could add a fun element to the GOP race, which is due for another major shake-up soon.

And so, the Great Alaskan Grifting resumes.  People will send her money, she'll get on TV, she'll get attention...and then she'll pull out like she always does.  And her fans will love her all the more for it.

She can do this for decades.

"Record Number" Of Youths Leaving Church & Questioning Ethics

(CNN) -- Republican conservatives should be worried. Evangelical churches that frequently support conservative candidates are finally admitting something the rest of us have known for some time: Their young adult members are abandoning church in significant numbers and taking their voting power with them.

David Kinnaman, the 38-year-old president of the Barna Group, an evangelical research firm, is the latest to sound the alarm. In his new book, "You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith," he says that 18- to 29-year-olds have fallen down a "black hole" of church attendance. There is a 43% drop in Christian church attendance between the teen and early adult years, he says.

• Seven in 10 millennials say sex between an unmarried man and woman is morally acceptable (PDF). (According to Kinnaman, young Christians are as sexually active as non-Christians.)
• Most women in their early 20s who give birth are unmarried.

• More than six in 10 millennials (including 49% of Republican millennials) support same-sex marriages.

• Six in 10 millennials say abortion should be legal (PDF), a higher proportion than found in the general population. A higher percentage say abortion services should be available in local communities.

Millennials also part ways with conservative orthodoxy on wealth distribution and caring for the environment. According to a report in The Christian Science Monitor, three out of four say that wealthy corporations and financiers have too much power and that taxes should be raised on the very wealthy, and two out of three say financial institutions should be regulated more closely. In addition, most say that creationists' view on evolution is outdated.

Sounds a lot like Democratic ideology to me.
I come from a strong religious background, and from an area famous for using religion to bully people.  I'm glad to see our young people stop, pause, and think it through.  There are many conclusions they can come to, but the moment of pride is when they use common sense and independent thinking to reach their decisions.

Politically speaking, this can mean a lot of changes.  The "voting army" of Republicans may be on the decline.  It also means that religious behavior won't be associated so strongly with Republicans.  After all, there are plenty of spiritual Dems out there.  Most important of all, these young people are able to see these issues as separate topics instead of a bundle, which is a major weakness in the Republican design.

We have educated, free-thinking individuals coming up as a next generation who believes in equality and fairness.  That is the biggest threat to the elitist, compartmentalizing disposition of the GOP.  They are less likely to fall for the "if you don't believe my every word you are my enemy" strategy employed thus far, and are actually likely to be turned off and disgusted by the open discrimination we see when Republicans rally to restore DADT and dismiss the working poor.  The closing paragraph says it the best:

And that's a good thing. As the most diverse generation ever, they've shown themselves to be better than their elders at seeking areas of common ground and making compromises. They're also more optimistic: Despite the economic instability of their generation, more than two-thirds believe they can achieve success regardless of race, ethnicity or social class. All of us, whether we're churched or unchurched, could use that kind of faith.
Can I get an amen?

To Be Franco About It

A former NYU professor claims he got the chop because he dared give James Franco a "D" -- this according to a new lawsuit.

José Angel Santana -- who taught Franco in his "Directing the Actor" class -- is now suing the University for his job back, claiming he was wrongfully terminated ... simply because he gave Franco a low grade.

According to the lawsuit, Santana dropped the D on Franco for missing 12 of the 14 classes in the MFA course. No shocker, considering the pic TMZ posted back in 2009 ... showing Franco passed out at one of his Columbia classes.

Twelve of fourteen? He deserved an F. Sleeping in class, disrespecting the teacher, all reasons to score poorly. I find myself sympathizing with the teacher here, who wants the craft to be taken seriously.

Besides, I've seen Franco's movies. He should have stayed awake.

The Comeback Kid

No, not Bill Clinton, Barack Obama.

Aided by comparison to the vastly unpopular Congress, Barack Obama has advanced to a 49 percent job approval rating in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll - his best showing since spring, and one that, if it holds, that may put his re-election prospects back within reach.

The result continues an improving trend for the president amid some signs of economic gains. And it contrasts with both parties in Congress, embroiled in their latest game of political chicken. A mere 27 percent of Americans now approve of the Democrats in Congress, and just 20 percent approve of the Republicans – both new lows in ABC/Post polling back to 1994.

Obama’s rating, while still (barely) under 50 percent, is up from his career-low 42 percent in October, and back at the level at which he could run competitively for a second term. George W. Bush had 47 percent approval as close as three months before he won re-election in 2004.

Now because this is a major Villager poll, they proceed to dump on the President for the entire rest of the article, but these numbers are a serious improvement.

It also means that the House is up for grabs in 2012...but it also means the Senate is up for grabs too.  It's going to be a long campaign season and every race, every vote is going to count.  Make sure you do your part.

The Sandbag Game, Orange Julius Version

Having completely lost control of his caucus to the Tea Party, Orange Julius is now using legislative parlor tricks to assure that the payroll tax cut extension fails and that the Senate bill, passed 89-10 by an overwhelming bipartisan majority is scrapped for the House version.  On top of that, the House plans to leave town for the holidays after the vote, leaving both Senate Republicans and Democrats with a take it or leave it deal.  Brian Beutler:

“We will have a motion to reject the Senate amendment and go to conference,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters at a Monday press briefing. “We expect the minority to have a motion to instruct conferees. And then we will have a majority resolution that will lay out our House position that is consistent with the bill that we passed last week.”

In other words, House GOP members will get to vote “yes,” but in a way that says “no” to the Senate bill. This bears some resemblance to the health care reform-era controversy over so-called self-executing rules, when Democrats briefly considered tying two votes together into one, thus “deeming” unpopular legislation passed. Under the GOP’s plan, there’s no way for a vote to result in passage of the Senate bill.

Despite the delays and the procedural hijinx, House GOP aides confidently predicted that their measure will pass Tuesday. That would leave Reid to decide whether to stick to his guns or to appoint negotiators to work through the holidays on a full-year plan to renew the payroll tax cut, extend unemployment benefits, and patch a Medicare reimbursement formula to make sure physicians don’t take a big paycut on the first of the year. Reid has insisted he considers the matter closed and will leave Boehner holding the ball — giving him a choice between quelling the rebellion and passing the bipartisan Senate bill before January 1 or triggering a tax increase on middle class workers in a weak economy.

Republicans will hit back and call on Democrats to return to Washington to strike yet another compromise. Complicating that message for them? Many Republicans plan to leave town tomorrow after the close of votes. 

In other words, after the deal was worked out in the Senate and Speaker Boehner signed off on it Saturday, the Tea Party revolted.  Orange Julius has now lost complete control of his own caucus, and the Senate deal cannot be passed under this 2 for 1 vote.  If today's vote passes, the Senate deal is automatically scrapped, if it fails, the Senate deal dies normally.  Jon Chait points out why the revolt happened:  Boehner is a terribly weak leader, and the Tea Party caucus has decided that America's poor, working class, and middle class aren't paying enough taxes.

Republican opposition to extending the payroll tax is, in part, an expression of this same belief that the lower-earning half of the income distribution is getting a free ride – that the “takers” are exploiting the “makers,” to use Paul Ryan’s increasingly common catchphrase. This happens to be a wildly unpopular position, and Republicans are attempting to avoid having to defend it openly. (Being unpopular obviously isn't the same as being wrong, though I do disagree with the Republican position.)

Surprise, the Tea Party has always been the political patsy of the one percent, and nowhere is this more clear than the payroll tax cut rebellion in the House.  The fact of the matter is the Tea Party doesn't care if the 160 million Americans get burned with higher taxes next year...as far as they're concerned, you're all looters and moochers anyway.


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