Saturday, March 24, 2012

Last Call

How do I know President Obama's nomination of Dr. Jim Yong Kim to head the World Bank is an inspired and awesome choice?  Two reasons.  One, all the smart Puritopian money was depressingly convinced that President Obama was going to fail progressives again because he had to choose Larry Summers for the job.

Second, the right is having a small series of heart attacks.

What will be interesting is how a left-wing physician will run the only aid organization with a decent smattering of free market economists, who have tried, sometimes successfully, to help nations build private insurance-based healthcare systems. My suspicion is that more and more of the competent staff will leave, and the Bank will endorse more centralized medical systems development. I guess it has symmetry that as Obamacare is about to be challenged in the Supreme Court, the president doubles down on his intent to move the rest of the world away from private healthcare.

Now go figure, Fred Hiatt is in love, and Noam Scheiber is convinced that Kim's views will be neutered, and therefore President Obama deserves no credit for his selection:

In Kim’s case, it’s not hard to see how that might put him at odds with the Obama administration, at least when it comes to global health, his area of expertise. Kim’s formative professional experience was co-founding and running the group Partners in Health (PIH), which was dedicated to battling expensive, hard-to-treat diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis in the most forsaken places on the planet. To realize that goal, as Ezra Klein points out, Kim and his more famous PIH co-founder, Paul Farmer, had to wage a years-long battle against the global health establishment, which was generally skeptical of the approach. Suffice it to say, he believes in it pretty deeply.

Problem is, the Obama administration has taken a very different (and, in the post-PIH world, equally controversial) position on global health aid: It has slowed the rate of growth in the money the U.S. government spends fighting AIDS and TB abroad, and instead spent a good deal of money on equally deadly but far easier-to-treat illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria (especially for children).

I doubt a Wolfensohn or Zoellick type would have challenged this approach—such a person probably wouldn’t have spent much time thinking it through before ascending to the World Bank presidency. But in Kim’s case, opposition to the Obama approach is, you know, the foundational principle of his career. Will he dissent from the Obama administration line or pull his punches?

Just...really?   So, President Obama gets pretty much no credit for doing what the left begged him to do, which is "Please pick anyone but Larry Summers!".  They can't even give him credit for that, it was served to him on a short list by others of course, and now Scheiber is wondering if Kim is going to actually be any better than Summers or if Obama will make him "pull his punches."  Christ.

Yeah, and you wonder why I'm mad at the "professional" Left all the damn time.  They got an inspired choice, Obama surprised them pleasantly and the first thing they ask is "Will Obama just ignore him anyway and keep being the worst administration ever?"


Presented For The Assembled

Glenn Greenwald this morning after being on Real Time With Bill Maher last night:

I was on Real Time with Bill Maher last night and the most contentious debate occurred over the claimed power of the Obama administration to target assassinations of American citizens, such as Anwar Awlaki, without due process. Below is the clip of that discussion. One irony is that is was preceded by a discussion of hate crimes prosecutions (in the context of the Trayvon Martin and Tyler Clementi cases) in which both Maher and Andrew Sullivan insisted that Americans have the inviolable right to express even the most hateful and repellent opinions without being punished for it by the state, yet were both supportive of the Awlaki killing.

Yes.  Greenwald went there.  Obama is no better than Zimmerman.

We're done here.

The Order In The Court

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick makes the argument that the conservatives on the Supreme Court may very well be willing and able to strike down the entire health care reform law...but that they won't do it and for an obvious reason:

So that brings us to the really interesting question: Will the Court’s five conservatives strike it down regardless? That’s what we’re really talking about next week and that has almost nothing to do with law and everything to do with optics, politics, and public opinion. That means that Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the Raich medicinal marijuana case, and Chief Justice John Roberts’ and Anthony Kennedy’s opinions in Comstock only get us so far. Despite the fact that reading the entrails of those opinions suggest that they’d contribute to an easy fifth, sixth, and seventh vote to uphold the individual mandate as a legitimate exercise of Congressional power, the real question isn’t whether those Justices will be bound by 70 years of precedent or their own prior writings on federal power. The only question is whether they will ignore it all to deprive the Obama of one of his signature accomplishments.

But here's the thing:  Lithwick is betting they won't do it, and the reason is if they do, the court loses the Washington Sensible Centrist tag for good.  And John Roberts expects to be Chief Justice for a long, long time.

On the other hand, I’d suggest that there is an equally powerful countervailing force at work on the justices. Because, as it happens, the current court is almost fanatically worried about its legitimacy and declining public confidence in the institution. For over a decade now, the justices have been united in signaling that they are moderate, temperate, and minimalist in their duties. From Chief Justice Robert’s description of himself as just an “umpire” and his speeches about humility and the need for unanimity, to Stephen Breyer’s latest book Making Our Democracy Work—a meditation on all the ways the courts depend on public confidence. Roberts even nodded at that court-wide anxiety by devoting most of his 2011 State of the Judiciary report to issues of recusal and judicial integrity, and by reversing his own policy on same-day audio release, in order to allow the American public to listen in on the health care cases next week (albeit on a two-hour delay). That means that the court goes into this case knowing that the public is desperately interested in the case, desperately divided about the odds, and deeply worried about the neutrality of the court. (Greenhouse points to a Bloomberg News national poll showing that 75 percent of Americans expect the decision to be influenced by the justices’ personal politics.) To hand down a 5-4, ideologically divided opinion just before the Republican and Democratic Party conventions, would—simply put—prove that 75 percent correct, and erode further the public esteem for the court. Justice Clarence Thomas doesn’t worry much about things like that. I suspect Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy worry quite a lot.

And with all the cases heading to SCOTUS this year, losing that oh so valuable Sensible Centrist designation and becoming a dreaded Partisan Institution is not something that's going to make Roberts really popular at parties.  His fee-fees would be hurt.  He won't risk it.

At least, not for this.  Now striking down Roe...

T-Mobile Cuts 1,900 Jobs

T-Mobile is closing seven call centers, and increasing hiring at the remaining ones.  They are cutting 1,900 jobs but plan to add approximately 1,400 at the remaining centers.

I'm not surprised.  When the AT&T merger broke in the news, I watched carefully.  When it failed, people rejoiced but it only made sense to me that T-Mobile was going to make some mighty big changes.  I worked for T-Mobile even though I saw the end coming, but finally got out about a month ahead of the cuts.  Our particular location wasn't affected (this time) but I had no way of knowing, and neither did several others who saw the writing on the wall.

For the locations adding jobs, it's good news.  T-Mobile is an excellent place to work, and their benefits are outrageously awesome (though I expect that will be the next thing to go).  They have a structure that really works for the employees, and offsets the sometimes brutally high expectations. To give credit where it's due, they do seem to care about employees.  For example they are offering relocation assistance to those who would follow their job.  They are also offering career counseling to help those who stay find a job that will be a good match for them.

AT&T is crowing today, saying they told the FCC that not allowing the deal to go through would "force" T-Mobile to lay off employees.  Well, not quite.  T-Mobile has had issues in the past, and their investment into their network will inflate their selling price, and laying off employees will increase their profit margin.  More writing on the walls: T-Mobile looks like they are laying the early groundwork to get the hell out of Dodge.  In fact, if the details of the merger are ever released I bet you find TMO reached out to AT&T.

Also, think about this.  AT&T puts up earnest money, TMO keep it but invests it back into a network that AT&T will likely be making a future bid for.  TMO walks with a bit of padding, AT&T claimed its loss and still gets the benefit of how it was spent, and everyone still gets what they want. I'm just saying, it could happen.  It they ever make a second attempt to buy them again, you can bet people will be trying to connect the dots to prove this was just an elaborate plan B.

The Facebook Conundrum

Would you ever give a potential employer your Facebook password?  No freaking way, and no way should it be asked of anyone.

There are the obvious reasons, such as private correspondence and pictures that people have stored with reasonable expectation of privacy.  There are smaller but still important reasons, like its ability to give insight to political views, health issues, thousands of pieces of information that can profile people.  Information that courts have ruled private and in support of the information remaining within our control.  So if you're stupid enough to let those sloppy drunk Mardi Gras pictures get out, that's your problem.

Employers are taking advantage of the hungry and desperate by forcing people to share passwords and submit to other ridiculous invasions of privacy.  Competition is tight, and applicants know if they don't jump through the hoops, someone else will.

There's no question it's wrong.  The question is, why isn't anyone stopping it?

Skunked And Stumped

Deaniac83 over at The People's View notes that in the major Democratic primaries this year at the Congressional level, the "progressives" are getting their asses kicked.  And by "progressives" I mean Kucinich and Ilya Sheyman.

For all the Republican primary woes, a very strong current of positive news is coming out of the Democratic primaries this year - the Democratic Congressional primaries, specifically. Whenever ideological warriors on the Left flank of politics aim to beat down common sense pragmatism, our base is sending a message: we want good results, not just "good fights." Early this month, in Ohio, the least valuable Democrat in Congress, Dennis Kucinich, went down in flames in his Democratic primary. True to style, he chose to exit the stage as his usual bitter self. And last Tuesday, in Illinois' 10th Congressional District, the Professional Left's wonder kid, Ilya Sheyman, lost by a near double digit margin to progressive businessman Brad Schneider. To listen to the Internet's Lefty keyboard warriors, Sheyman's loss was a big tragedy for the progressives, and well, it's all the polling's fault.

Sheyman is the former Mobilization Director for, and organizing manager at Big names on the "netroot" Left - the PCCC (I find it amazing that people keep associating with them despite their open racism), MoveOn (duh) and Democracy for America all got behind Sheyman for a big push. If there is a personification of "netroots," - aka the keyboard warriors - Sheyman is it. The computer commandos attacked Schneider as a "Republican", based on the fact that over the past two decades, he'd donated to four Republicans, totaling less than 10% of his political donations. Local Democratic leaders condemned the tactics of these groups for reprehensible half-truths about a fellow Democrat.

When election night rolled around, Sheyman lost. Big. He lost big despite the support of these groups, and despite outspending his chief opponent hugely.

And there's an important lesson there.  We need more and better Democrats.  There's honest debate as to which is more important, the "more" part or the "better" part.  I lean towards "more" first generating better later, but I can see the argument for "better" first to an extent.

But Sheyman and Kucinich are neither.

The IL-10 race was really a profile of the "Netroots" going all-in, tearing up their Democratic opponent, and... failing completely and utterly. It's perhaps the race that shows the biggest difference between the Republican base and the (actual) Democratic base: the Democratic base is looking for people who will stand up for what they believe in, and one of the things we believe in is the fierce urgency of governing effectively. Just as the Republican base is in the business of moving their candidates to the unrecognizable fringe, the Democratic base is rejecting ideological warfare in favor of pragmatism and solutions.

That's what the Democratic party stands for. That's what the Democratic base stands for. We stand for pragmatic governance with progressive goals. We stand for moving forward with what progress can be made, and always sticking around for more. We do not have a cow every time one of our own says something nice about someone in the opposing party. We believe that ideological warfare is harmful, and that to move our country forward, we must govern - and that governing entails compromises. We do not think that compromise is a dirty word. We are too smart to fall into a Tea Party trap of our own.

Most of us, anyway.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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