Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Last Call

Felix Salmon dissects why Helicopter Ben is continuing Operation Twist to keep interest rates and inflation low rather than going for quantitative easing from the Magic Printing Press.

From today’s presser, my feeling is that Bernanke maybe doesn’t feel as strongly any more that he would be reckless to act more aggressively. But he does still feel that the upside from doing so is “doubtful”. If he’s forced by crisis to pull out the ammo, he’ll do so. But Bernanke clearly doesn’t consider the unemployment crisis to be a crisis in that sense. If something happens suddenly, then policymakers can act strongly and decisively. Years of high unemployment are in many ways more damaging than the sudden drop in government spending that risks arriving with the fiscal cliff. But because the damange is slow-acting and invidious, it seems that unemployment, on its own, is incapable of persuading Bernanke to do more.

My question is what will it take to get Helicopter Ben to hit the big red button, a full-blown European meltdown?  Because that's where we're headed.

Something's Been Bugging Me

Turns out the Big Apple is no longer the bedbug capital of the US.  That honor goes to Philly, but here in Cincy, we're the new #2 and Ohio in particular has been hit hard by the pests.

The dubious honor is bestowed by Terminix, a Memphis-based pest-control firm that compiles bedbug data every year from its 300 branches across the country. The city rankings are created "by evaluating service calls from customers, as well as confirmed cases by service professionals," the company explained in a press release.
  • Philadelphia wasn't the only city to pass New York in the rankings; Cincinnati moved up to No. 2, pushing NYC down to third.
  • Ohio remains a hotbed of bed bug activity in general, with three of its cities -- Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland -- included in the top 15 for the third year in a row.
  • Chicago and Detroit round out the top five, followed by Washington, Columbus, San Francisco, Denver and New Haven, Connecticut.
  • The rest of the top 15 are Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami and Cleveland.

Given the fact that bedbugs really do require professional extermination measures to deal with and careful spraying over multiple visits (bed bug foggers are pretty much useless) is necessary between visits, not to mention the fact that hotels around the NKY/Cincy area have been battling the pests for a couple of years now it's no wonder that they are a growing problem in the Midwest.

New York has slammed down hard on the little bastards, but Cincy doesn't have the money.  Hamilton County is $20 million in the hole this year as it is and that means hundreds more if not thousands more jobs lost.  Bedbug fighting?  Not real high on the list when Republican budget cuts at the state level leave counties gasping for air and having to slice more cops, firefighters, and safety officials from the rolls.

The greatest, wealthiest country on earth?  Doesn't have the money to stop bedbugs.  Nope.  Let's cut taxes more and hope we can drown the vermin in the Laffer curve.

Old-Age Mutant Nimrod Turtle: Zero In A Halfwit

And my senator would like everyone to know that the US tax code benefits the poor too much, and that oversight needs to be changed under Republican rule.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says that the U.S. tax system is unfair to the wealthiest Americans.

“I understand full well that our friends on the other side live to every day to raise taxes,” McConnell told CBS host Charlie Rose on Tuesday. “Almost 70 percent of the federal revenue is provided by the top 10 percent of taxpayers now. Between 45 and 50 percent of Americans pay no income tax at all.”

“We have an extraordinarily progressive tax code already,” he added. “It is a mess and it needs to be revisited again.”

Which is funny, because all Americans pay sales taxes when they buy things, and gas tax when they buy fuel, and  state and local taxes when they pay their cell phone bill every month, but we have to punish the 50% of Americans who don't pay income taxes because...they don't earn more than $13,000 or so income in a year from work.  Meanwhile, I'm willing to bet at least one of the people who doesn't pay income tax is Mitt Romney, because he doesn't have a job, he has capital gains and blind trusts instead.

So remember as President Obama cut taxes for working Americans when he reduced the payroll tax, Mitch McConnell wants to "revisit" the tax code because he believes poor and working class Americans aren't paying enough taxes and people like Mitt Romney are paying too much.

That's what you have to look forward to should the Republicans win in November.  You can do something about that, you know.

Couple Denies Tacky Justice

From the Herald Tribune:

According to a sheriff's report, one day in May, someone spread carpet tacks over a long section of the paved hiking and biking trail that stretches from Sarasota to Venice.
The scene of the crime was not far from the Bay Street entrance in Osprey. Before the tacks were reported and cleaned up, some bike club members I talked to estimate the tacks caused flats on 30 to 40 bikes. Many were riding in groups and hit them together.
Who knew it was that easy for some unknown jerk to anonymously ruin so many people's rides on that popular trail?
But hold on. Did I say unknown? Just maybe, the culprit isn't all that anonymous.
As a report makes clear, an investigator felt sure right away who his prime suspect had to be. He thought of the woman who had, in his written words, "left large piles of debris in the middle of the trail," and "disrupted events and made threats to persons using the trail." The investigator concluded: "I feel that it can be attributed to her."
Now, the article explains why this couple would be suspects, and even has some evidence (such as buying tacks).  However, it does seem a little strange to me to hear that their guilt is just assumed.  I realize this isn't a major criminal investigation, but really, anyone could have done it.

Yes, they have a bad history, including calling the cops to the point that they no longer respond.  I'll even go so far as to say they are likely involved.  But we can't just assume their guilt, or what we are doing is far worse than scattering tacks on a trail.


BREAKING: Privilege Has Its Privileges

And the whole "Eric Holder/Darrell Issa Contempt of Congress" thing has been blown up by the White House citing executive privilege over Fast and Furious documents, the first time the Obama administration has resorted to the common Bush-era tactic.

The fact of the matter is that Rep. Darrell Issa has increasingly asked for more and more documents with the intent of hounding Eric Holder and nothing has changed.  It remains a vendetta to impeach POTUS by proxy.  Five thinks you must know about Issa and his mad-on, from Ian Millhiser at Think Progress:

1. Issa Has No Case: Issa’s uncovered no evidence showing Holder bears any blame for the botched operations begun under George W. Bush, even though the Justice Department turned over thousands of pages of documents concerning the operations. Instead of accepting this fact, Issa has requested many more documents containing confidential information regarding ongoing law enforcement investigations, and is now threatening to hold Holder in contempt if these documents are not turned over. Holder is entirely correct to withhold these documents, however, because Justice Department documents are not subject to congressional subpoena if they would reveal “strategies and procedures that could be used by individuals seeking to evade [DOJ's] law enforcement efforts.”
2. Reagan’s Justice Department Agreed With Holder: President Reagan’s Justice Department warned in the 1980s that the Constitution’s separation of powers prevents the kind of documents Issa is seeking from being revealed to Congress because of the risk that the legislature could “exert pressure or attempt to influence the prosecution of criminal cases.”
3. Law Enforcement Rejects Issa’s Witchhunt: Issa’s efforts to embarrass Holder are an unnecessary distraction that hinders the Department of Justice’s ability to do its real job. As an organization representing numerous senior law enforcement officials warned Issa, his efforts are “an impediment to the vigorous enforcement of violence and crime.”
4. Even Top Republicans Think Issa Goes Too Far: After Issa leaked his plans to pursue contempt charges to the media, the House Republican leadership pressured him to back off. Indeed, even House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has indicated that Issa is overreaching.
5. Issa Is Fixated On A Conspiracy Theory: Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this affair is what Issa once suggested his investigation will uncover. In an interview with Sean Hannity, Issa claimed that the Obama administration “made a crisis” when they continued the Bush-era gunrunning operations because they wanted to “us[e] this crisis to somehow take away or limit people’s Second Amendment rights.” This accusation originates from a former militiaman who supports violent resistance to imagined government attempts to seize his guns. And it amounts to an accusation that a series of botched gun stings that begun during the Bush Administration were actually part of a secret Obama plot to release guns to Mexican drug lords, so that those guns could then be used to kill federal agents, which would then cause a national uprising in support of gun control.

None of this has changed with the White House now protecting Holder because Issa gave them no choice.  Holder sat down with Issa to make a deal and Issa brushed him off.  Issa will not stop until Holder resigns, or is forced to turn some sort of evidence against the President.  It's a massive delusion Issa is under.

And now the Republicans will scream DICTATOR for a while, and then this story dies, hopefully.  But remember, it's all about Issa's lunatic hatred.

Marco? Oh No!

The Romney campaign let slip that Marco Rubio's not even really being considered at this point for the Veep slot, according to ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl.

Even before the Republicans chose a presidential nominee it was widely assumed that Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would be at the top of anybody’s list of vice presidential candidates. The reasons are obvious: Not only is he young, charismatic and wildly popular with conservatives, but he could also help Republicans win a key state (Florida) and make inroads with Hispanics.

But knowledgeable Republican sources tell me that Rubio is not being vetted by Mitt Romney’s vice presidential search team. He has not been asked to complete any questionnaires or been asked to turn over any financial documents typically required of potential vice presidential candidates.

Although it is possible that Rubio may yet be asked to go through the vetting process, it has been nearly two months since Romney named his long-time aide Beth Myers to run his vice presidential search. The fact that Rubio has not been asked to turn over any documents by now is a strong indication that he is not on Romney’s short list of potential running mates.

He was never even under consideration because Rubio would cost far more anti-Latino bigot votes than he'll gain the ticket running as Veep.  I could have told you that.  And I did:  Rubio also would have been a huge albatross on Romney's neck when it came to his 100% support for the GOP War on Women.  No possibility of a centrist reset down the stretch.  Rubio has too many actual positions.

Bland milquetoast Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio remains the Villager's choice for a reason:  he's as boringly bad as Romney is.

Mittens In The Lion's Den

I will give Mitt Romney credit for this.

Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney will address the NAACP’s national convention next month, a campaign aide confirmed Tuesday.

News of Romney’s plans to attend the convention, which takes place July 7-12 in Houston, was first reported by April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks. Romney is scheduled to speak on July 11.

The move makes Romney the latest GOP White House hopeful to attend the annual summit. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) addressed the convention in July 2008; George W. Bush declined an invitation in 2004 but spoke at the 2006 summit.

Didn't really help McCain, but Romney still has to pretend to be a centrist.  He's good at pretending.


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