Thursday, March 1, 2012

Last Call

And Obama Derangement Syndrome gets one step closer to its logical endpoint.

Montana Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush nominee, admitted on Wednesday that he forwarded a racially-charged email implying that President Barack Obama might have been the product of a sexual encounter between his mother and a dog.

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email forwarded from Cebull’s official court email address on Feb. 20 read, according to the Great Falls Tribune. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”

The federal judge’s email called the joke “a bit touching” and said he wanted all of his friends to feel what he felt when he read the email. “Hope it touches your heart like it did mine,” he wrote.

Oh trust me, millions of Americans are having a good laugh at the black guy, privately.  There's a reason the dehumanization of the President is so wonderfully popular with Republicans.  Getting rid of Obama and punishing those who voted for him in 2008 remains the major motivation for GOP voters to get behind the current crop of "leaders".

Even federal judges think this blatantly racist stuff is "touching".

Mitt Romney Starring In "Wormhole X-Treme!"

E.J. Dionne makes the excellent case that Rick Santorum's reckless social extremism is giving Mitt Romney cover for Romney's own (even worse) reckless economic extremism.  Just because Romney isn't running around spouting brimstone doesn't mean he's any less dangerous for the country, either.

And the candidate who says that he’ll eliminate the deficit does not let on, as a new Tax Policy Center report noted Wednesday, that his tax giveaway would add more than $3 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. Romney talks vaguely about closing loopholes to recoup some revenue, but aren’t “moderates” supposed to see deficit reduction as urgent?
There is a terrible bias in the mainstream media that judges “moderation” almost entirely in relation to positions on social issues such as abortion or gay marriage. The media love these issues because they often involve sex, which everyone likes to read about, and do not demand elaborate explanations, charts or tables.
Go right on social issues, and the extremist charge can’t be far behind. But the media rarely peg an extreme economic conservative as “extreme” because doing so requires tedious math-laden paragraphs. Besides, people in pinstriped suits who are driven by money don’t seem “extreme.”
So here’s a counterintuitive argument: These primaries have damaged the Republican candidates’ images in the short run. But in the long run, they may yet help Romney — if he prevails — because by comparison with Santorum and Newt Gingrich, he seems “moderate,” and his supporters are more “moderate” than the voters backing the other guys. And Romney has been on so many sides of so many issues that pundits can arbitrarily imagine their own Romney.

Shorter E.J.:  If it takes more than 140 characters and doesn't include a crotch shot, Shiny Object Villagers get bored with it.  Besides, how can econ nerds be extremists?  You know, besides that shrill Krugman guy.

The larger issue is that Romney doesn't have to pivot at all from his current far right positions as long as Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are saying "He's not a real conservative!"  Voila!  If he's not a real conservative, he must be a centrist.  Q.E.D. and all.  As long as Marquis de Mittens here can keep from saying social stuff worse than "Those inner city kids should work as janitors!" and "That baby your rapist left you with is a gift, ladies!" then he can happily continue the work of transferring that slice of the pie the one percent doesn't have right on up the line.

Not that the Village would complain much about that, either.  Eventually, they'll just toss his "slide to the right" into the wormhole and say "How could Mitt Romney be an extremist?"  Worked for Bush.  Twice.

Correlation Does Not Equal Causation, Ricky

Rick Santorum seems to think high gas prices caused the housing depression and the recession, and so since Obama is causing high gas prices, he's going to cause another recession.  Of course, Rick Santorum wouldn't know his own ass from one of Saturn's moons, so it's all good.

Here’s what Dean Baker, who was miles ahead of most economists in giving early warnings about the housing bubble, said about Santorum’s theory.

“It doesn’t fit is the basic story. It doesn’t fit from the word go,” he told me by phone Tuesday. “[Housing] prices peaked in mid ‘06, dribbling downward, one percent a month by early ‘07 then to two percent a month by the end of ‘07.”

Energy prices, by contrast, “started climbing in late ‘07, but didn’t really go through the roof until late ‘08,” Baker said. 

In other words, high energy prices were not the cause of the housing bubble unless there's time travel involved.  And President Obama had nothing to do with the financial crisis unless again, time travel is involved and he was really running Bush's Fed policy and the banks in 2004-2008.  Your chart:

So back here in reality, it was roughly 8 years of Bush policies that broke our economy but good in 2008.  Of course, Santorum wasn't speaking to actual people, he was speaking to Republican primary voters, who are apparently the most gullible and/or stupid people on Earth.

After all, the number one thing on their mind is "beating President Obama."

An Old Crime Is Still A Crime

John Hinckley is a tragic case, a young man who did something incredibly stupid and will pay the price for the rest of his life.  However, the tragedy is that he committed the crime, not that he is paying for it.  Hinckley recently gave an interview where he claimed that he is just seen as "the guy who tried to kill Reagan."

Well, to be fair, he is the guy who tried to kill Reagan.

Trying to plead for unsupervised visits to see his mother, Hinckley claims that he is cured and not the same guy who tried to shoot the POTUS on that fateful day in 1981.

He may not be the same guy.  But he was that guy once, and was found guilty because he was guilty.

A second November 2011 psychiatric evaluation notes that a keyword search on a computer in the hospital library (which was used by Hinckley and others) showed hits for Jodie Foster, Reagan, the movie “Taxi Driver,” variations on the word “assassinate,” and the 2011 film “The Beaver,” which was directed by Foster (with whom Hinckley claims he is no longer obsessed).

Additionally, searches were conducted for the names of several women with whom Hinckley has carried on romantic relationships with while hospitalized, three Beatles, the 2011 book “Rawhide Down,” which reconstructed the day Hinckley shot Reagan outside the Washington Hilton, and killers Ted Bundy and Charles Manson.

When questioned about the hits, Hinckley denied responsibility for the searches. “All I can tell you is I didn’t type in Ronald Reagan or Jodie Foster or any of these names,” he told a psychiatrist. Asked specifically about Bundy and Manson, Hinckley answered, “Hell no.” He added, “Give me a little more credit than that, please.”

Given the evidence, there is no reason to give him credit for anything. His behavior since the crime has no bearing on the sentence he was given, and the reason he was sentenced. There are some things you just don't do. A classic example is trying to harm the POTUS or FLOTUS. If you do that, you should expect death or life without parole. Crazy doesn't mean stupid, and Hinckley hasn't tried to play the dumb defense. He knew the cost going in, and the price makes sense. Anything less is an invitation to the Hinckleys and Jared Loughners of the world.

When you walk up to an innocent person and fire at point blank range, you forfeit the ability to play nice and make up for it. Tragic doesn't change that, it just means it it's a sadder story.

Freedom Of Speech VS Facebook

I was trying to keep an open mind when I started reading about Mark Byron.  The reason I had reservations was that the word "threatened" came up early in the story.  I read this from end to end and no threats came forth.  Instead, it seems Byron vented his frustration with his divorce, and has now been ordered to post an apology on Facebook or face 60 days of jail time.  He's to post it every day for a month, and the woman who says she has been so offended isn't even one of his Facebook friends, so she will never be able to see it!

The idea "that anybody could tell you what to say to your friends on Facebook should be scary to people," said Cincinnati attorney Jill Meyer, who specializes in free speech and media issues.

The ruling is highly unusual and "troubling because it's a court telling someone to say something to - in some regards - his chosen group of friends," said Meyer. She noted that the comments were not directed to Byron's wife, Elizabeth Byron, who was blocked from accessing the page.

According to the ruling, Byron posted comments on his page in November, saying in part, "If you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husband's life and take your son's father away from him completely - all you need to do is say you're scared of your husband or domestic partner and they'll take him away."

Greiner said he doesn't think the First Amendment "allows a court to find that someone has harassed or caused a person to suffer mental abuse merely by expressing one's opinion about a court proceeding in a non-threatening way."

Greiner said that a court compelling speech through a court-written apology raises as many free speech concerns as actions prohibiting free speech.

I've seen worse Facebook divorces. I find it troubling that a man is forced to repeat a statement he feels to be false as punishment for making statements he felt to be true. It doesn't seem that there is any kind of successful slander or libel route from his ex-wife, so the evidence would seem to be imply that Byron is within the boundaries of the law, if not those of good taste.

Pulling One Snowe-ver On Us

Jon Chait argues this morning that Sen. Olympia Snowe's surprise announcement that she's quitting the 2012 race is really nothing the Dems should be cheering, because all indications are that the real reason behind her bowing out is that Americans Elect and their Sensible Centrist shenanigans are afoot, judging from her outro statement.

This sounds exactly like the kind of rhetoric emanating from Americans Elect, the third-party group that believes that both parties should put aside partisanship and come together to enact an ever-so-slightly more conservative version of Barack Obama's agenda. Moderate retiring senators often deliver lofty, vacuous paeans to bipartisanship on their way to a lucrative lobbying career. But Snowe's statement seems unusually specific ("unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate") about her intent to do something.
I suspect it may not be coincidental that David Boren, the former Democratic senator from Oklahoma and oil industry lickspittle, came out for Americans Elect today. The group is set up so that its presidential and vice-presidential candidates need to come from opposing parties. The process is set up to, at least putatively, allow the voters to choose the ticket. But Americans Elect and its well-heeled funders have maintained tight control over the proceedings to ensure their envisioned ticket pairing establishmentarian insiders can prevail over candidates like , say, Ron Paul who might be able to actually win an open vote.
Snowe and Boren would make for the kind of ticket Americans Elect is looking for. Is that the plan?

Americans Elect is definitely designed to take votes away from one candidate and give a "less than 50% popular vote but 270+ electoral vote" situation, which will faithfully be interpreted by the Village as a "you don't have a mandate so you'd better listen to us" win.  That would be more effective if used against Barack Obama, but I'm not entirely convinced that the Americans Elect ticket would hurt only the President, especially given Romney as the GOP nominee.

On the other hand if you believe that there's going to be a brokered convention leading to a crackpot wingnut non-Romney nominee however, Americans Elect is exactly the vehicle that could give that nominee the win in November.

On the gripping hand, Romney keeps winning the GOP primary voters whose motivation is solely defeating Barack Obama.  It's also very possible that the anti-Obama vote will line up behind Romney, and with Americans Elect in the mix, it could be enough to put Mitt in the White House even with an otherwise depressed GOP base.

And yes, Snowe would have won re-election easily, unlike Arlen Specter or Evan F'ckin Bayh or Joe Lieberman.  She bailed for a reason, and Cohn's argument as to why makes sense.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Red states and industrial lobbyists are getting their trial against the EPA underway, and their attack on the government is of course THE SCIENCE ISN'T SETTLED!
Heavy industry groups and states argued in a federal court on Tuesday that U.S. environmental regulators had used faulty science in determining that greenhouse gas emissions endangered human health in the latest attempt to dismantle the Obama administration's rules on the emissions.
During the first of two days of arguments on a case that seeks to overturn Environmental Protection Agency regulations, Harry MacDougald, a lawyer for the petitioners, said uncertain evidence was used to reach "90 percent" certainty that human emissions are responsible for harmful climate change.

Too bad the judges aren't buying it.

The three judges hearing the case appeared to resist deciding on whether the EPA's science was sufficient, with U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel pointing out the agency had found the science certain enough.
"To win here, you have to make an argument that EPA's decision is actually arbitrary and capricious," Tatel said.

But it doesn't matter, of course. No matter what the decision here, the case will be decided by SCOTUS eventually and given the fact that in practically every major business law case before the Roberts court that the court has sided with big business, I don't see anything being different here. At the very least they stall until a new President comes in and tells the EPA to go suck on a smokestack and the regs are dropped. That's certainly what business wants to see happen, and you can bet these same lobbies are giving heavily to see President Obama defeated.


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