Saturday, February 14, 2009

Why I Get So Angry

It surprised a friend of mine last week, who knows me well enough to have heard my passion on certain topics before. Nevertheless, I think she expected me to have mellowed.
I've never linked to Bob Somerby before, because his blog of media criticism is pretty inside baseball even for junkies like me.
But I'm still up waiting to take some medicine so I wandered over the Daily Howler just to see what he is on about these days.
What do I find? Gold, pure gold.
So far, Hardball has featured 46 guests in discussions of the stimulus package. Only one of the 46 guests was an economist, this new study says.
But wait, it gets better. The one economist was Dick Armey. Sheesh.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Walks Like A Duck

 quacks like a duck. But guess what, it's a mouse. Or is it?

Three projects would turn abandoned industrial salt operations back into natural wetlands, about 26,000 acres in all. It turns out the mouse is an endangered species that likes tidal salt marshes, and it's mentioned by name as one of several species that will benefit.
But the projects themselves -- the South Bay Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the Napa Plant Site, and the Napa Salt Marsh restoration --are intended to do more than just benefit wildlife. It's major construction work to create recreation areas and to restore marsh land that will resist flooding and storm surge.
"This is bulldozers, front-end loaders, backhoes. These are major earth-moving projects to break down levees, to re-sculpt the landscape and to make sure nature can do its thing," Ritchie said. "Right now, we just have these lousy little salt pond levees and they break."
"These are real jobs, and these are truly ready to go,"  he added. "We can definitely spend this money for construction by Nov. 30, 2010."
Given this description of the projects, which were first reported in the San Jose Mercury News, it's a serious distortion to say there's money in the bill to protect San Francisco mice. The bill doesn't even list the San Francisco projects by name. And the funding agencies -- the Corps of Engineers or NOAA -- could still decide to fund the projects or not. The bill passed a final vote in the House on Feb. 13, with no Republicans supporting it.
So Pelosi did not put an earmark in the bill to save the mice. In fact, there's no money in the bill for mice. For this reason, we rate Pence's remark False.

President Obama

Today a man with impeccable credentials as a giving, caring person visited my exercise class and said he felt compelled to remove an allusion to Obama on the white board notice that we will not have class on Monday. Then he tried to tell me why any mention of "that guy" drove him crazy. I told him I didn't want to talk about it, it was bad for my blood pressure.
He, oddly, said he didn't want to talk about it either and some guy on the other side said "talk about what."
I've been pondering ever since.
NPR talking heads has been on all day and suddenly, at this late hour, I realize what drives him crazy.
Every so many minutes, it is again President Obama this, President Obama that.
When it was Bush, it drove me crazy, too.
There are people who not only hate Obama, but hate all he stands for, whatever they think that is. They are threatened. They feel doomed. They blame him. They blame it. I know how they feel. I used to feel that way, too. Now, not so much.

Good Sarah, Good Dog!!

Sarah Palin is credited by Obamaite David Plouffe as a serious asset to the ... wait for it...Democratic presidential candidate.

Here is Plouffe on Gov. Sarah Palin: "Vice presidential picks rarely but sometimes make an electoral difference. Our view was it probably wasn't going to matter that much. It's the most over-covered story in politics. This was the one exception to that. It did have an effect."
"She was our best fundraiser and organizer in the fall."
The larger story is the silliness surrounding Plouffe's contract to hold a "no press" talk, which Dana Milbank at WaPo dediced two months later must be protested.
This is the insider, Beltway, Village approach to news. It's all infotainment, folks. I'd comment "sad" but the word is overused and I've sworn off it. Instead, I'll just say "awesome!" Brilliant!

The Gregg Thing

Tom Daschle? Who's that? Dept.
So a day after the BIG SURPRISE withdrawal, the mainstream media seems to be obsessed as usual with the Republican talking points. But it turns out, there's this little Abramoff connection that, if nothing else, says he's out of a job at re-election time anyway.
I'm not gonna try to pin this down by finding a link, but here it is if you want to look yourself.
Denegre at Kos is highly respected, BTW.
So, without further ado, this TPM comment:

I think Gregg thought he could monkey-wrench the 2010 Census, ala Tom Delay and crew. When that got preempteviley yanked form his clutches, and two of his top aides where implicated int eh Abramoff scandal within the past week, he realized the noose is tighetning. As dengre pointed out yesterday over on Daily Kos, It turns out that Gregg's office was Abramoff central in 2002 to 2004. Kevin Koonce was not the only Abramoff connected staffer of Gregg's payroll. There was also John Mashburn, a former Team Abramoff lobbyist and others. Money from Abramoff moved through Gregg's office to the NH Republican Party. Allegations have been made that some of these funds were used for jamming Democratic GOTV phone lines on Election Day and other dirty tricks.
The court documents that identify "Staffer F" also make it clear that the Senator he worked for was helping Abramoff.
As the investigation heats up I am not surprised to see Gregg bow out. I am also glad that he will not bring his Abramoff tainted record into the White House.
It should be noted, however, that the Obama team didn't do a very good job of vetting this guy. Daschle indeed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Daschle, Gregg, And Counting

I told a friend last week that nobody but wonks and junkies would remember Tom Daschle in a week. I believe even fewer will remember this guy from some obscure state they call New Hampshire.
I'm all for fall leaves, etc., but really, who the hell cares who the SecComm(erce) is but Bill Richardson?
Anyway, TPM is falling on the side of orchestrated chaos. Who knows? And, really, who cares except the Beltway Village and anyone still looking for a Saviour?
Trouble is, just because nobody cares, doesn't mean nobody cares.
In honor of this event, I have created a new category that I hope will soon become the most popular search term. Feh (spits).

Oops, this was supposed to be part of the above.
Make it so, Lieutenant.
This much is now clear. Their clear and open intent is to do all they can, however they can, to sabotage the new administration (and the economy to boot). They want failure. Even now. Even after the last eight years. Even in a recession as steeply dangerous as this one. There are legitimate debates to be had; and then there is the cynicism and surrealism of total political war. We now should have even less doubt about what kind of people they are. And the mountain of partisan vitriol Obama will have to climb every day of the next four or eight years.

We Could Have Written It On A Cocktail Napkin

over beers at the corner tavern. That's what an insider once told me about the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
Commenter Arps says he got the whole stimulus solution in 5 minutes. Give it a try if you want. But remember, you still have to convince Sens. Nelson, Collins, Snow and Specter.
Ay, there's the rub, mate.
Your link in the last sentence of your piece on the economic stimulus package takes you to the Center for American Progress website where they have a "Design Your Own Stimulus Package Interactive program. Thought I would give it a try and in less than 5 minutes I had a stimulus package of $540 billion that created (or saved) over 4 million jobs. I had %100 billion for State block grants and extended unemployment and food stamp benefits by more than is in either the Senate or House bill and no personal income tax relief for anyone (Hey, if I don't get any, nobody gets any).

If I can do this with about 2/3rds of the Congressional plans, maybe I should be in Washington on the advisory team. Go home, Larry Summers. Maybe I should have stuck with economics instead of bureaucratic paper shuffling.

Mark Your Calendar

PBS will present an (always excellent) Frontline on the great financial meltdown featuring all your favorites from the recent past including Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. I'm hoping for a guest appearance from my fav, Alan Greenspan. Oh, and naked bankers. Lots of naked bankers.
(They call them zombie banks now, meaning the walking dead.)
Feb. 17. You can always watch online, too.

Question: Is there an uglier financial "expert" out there than Alan Greenspan? Not that Uncle Miltie was any matinee idol, but what's that thing the always darling Henry Kissinger said about power and aphrodisiacs?

Money (heh) quote, re: Paulson allowing Lehman to fail.
Paulson was thunderstruck. “This is the utter nightmare of an economic policy-maker,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman tells FRONTLINE. “You may have just made the decision that destroyed the world. Absolutely terrifying moment.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rush To Sell His Jet?

I don't even know who Clear Channel is exactly, but Rush Limbaugh does.
I say if newspaper advertising is diving, why shouldn't talk radio? And take the blubberpuss down with it.

Whew, We Have A Stimulus Bill

I've only read the first AP version and there's some discussion that state and local assistance cuts in the Senate compromise were restored, as well as unemployment benefits and Medicad for unemployed and some school construction at the expense of the one-time only tax rebate, which got cut in half, and the tax credit to homebuyers.
The original Senate version also cut the equivalent of between 440,000 and 340,000 jobs including 7,000 to 9,000 in Washington, my state.
But Harry Reid said a lot of that's fixed. If you hear anybody say there's no proof of any jobs in the stimulus, tell 'em you've got the numbers right here.

Buying Time

I've heard arguments like these a lot this week. Taplin said something similar.
They counter the puerile whining among the bankers who claims they want more detail but, when pushed, admit they haven't used the money we gave them to makes loans and they don't want anybody looking over their shoulders, either.
Maybe the O team does know what it's doing, it just can't say it.
We're going to print money, fight deflation with inflation, and change the whole system somewhere along the way.
I want to believe.

Politicians' Yearbook Photos

Women had more eyebrows in those days and what the hell is Huckabee wearing around his head? Is it an Arkansas white boy afro?
Oh, well. Great site.

This Is Why (They Hate Us) You're Fat

I heard Dick Stein and Nancy Leeson talking about the woven bacon blanket wrapped around a sausage loaf today, and it was enough to, oh you know.
Now this. BTW, I had two breakfasts today. The healthy one at 9 a.m. The bacon eggs potato version at 11:30, so hungry after exercise class. Hah!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stump Wins Westchester

UPDATE: Westminster, I meant. My bad.

He came out of retirement at the dog equivalent of 70 to take Best In Show.

The Crazy 36

is what Krugman  -- who's on a roll today -- calls the R's who voted against cloture yesterday.
This is his entire post on that topic:
I presume — I haven’t checked the roll call — that the 36 Senators who voted against cloture on the stimulus were the same 36 Senators who voted for the DeMint amendment, which would have replaced $800 billion of stimulus with $3.1 trillion of non-stimulative tax cuts. These, by the way, are the same people now accusing Obama of engaging in “generational theft.”
Anyway, this is the starting point for any analysis of the Senate from now on: 36 Senators — 87.8% of the Republican delegation — are irresponsible hypocrites.

So All The Hate and Discontent

over "hidden" health care provisions in the stimulus, including multiple callers on C-SPAN today (the hapless reporter answering questions hadn't a clue, which means she doesn't read Drudge) and a feature Bloomberg column by some Hoover Institution tool is really about this. Or at least that's how I read Krugman. Glad I waited to post about it.
The drug and medical-device industries are mobilizing to gut a provision in the stimulus bill that would spend $1.1 billion on research comparing medical treatments, portraying it as the first step to government rationing.

Comment O' Teh Day: UPDATED

My guess is that the solution for our financial crisis is going to come from a surprising, unexpected source. I don't think the people who were part of the system before it imploded are capable of stepping back and seeing what they have wrought and coming up with a fix. We need some Bolivian priests to burn some sage leaves over a fire and look into the smoke and give us the answers.
Made in thread of Robert Reich's analysis on TPM of Geithner's announced "plan" today.
I remain, like Krugman, "terrified."

Then there are the commentors who can get to the crux of things because they don't have to identify themselves to readers.
I want to believe Saladin knows what s/he is talking about:
There is no new solution, and Geithner is being set up as the designated future fall guy. I noticed it last night when Obama singled him out and said he didn't want to comment on Tim's plan. Then the NYtimes article came out clearly laying out the groundwork for Geithner to own this. The plan is the same as what we have been doing for the last two months the Fed on overdrive and Treasury and FDIC stepping in when necessary.
I think its a damn smart play, buys the Obama team a few more months of stability for the money the Fed is printing to make its way out the back door. If the national mood continues to shift left they can nationalize or if need be throw the tax dodger under the bus.
I mean what were they going to do? The entire financial world knows that a regulation overhaul is coming and therefore will not act without knowing what the new landscape will be. Outright nationalization that directly wipes out shareholders without having that landscape in place will scare off everybody, particularly our foreign finacers (I want to bring back the guillotine as much as the next guy but we can't handle a stampede of cash out of the country).
If one Zombie is really bad have the FDIC take it over or do it on the down low (Like how Bernake enforced the Merril/Bofa merger). The Fed is running the presses and team Obama is waiting for that to have an effect. That is where the money is going to come from hence why they were 'vague' on the sources. They can't straight up tell you that they are inflating the problems away, but that is what they are doing.
Posted by Saladin

Forget The Financial Bailout

and instead, dye your hair with Koolaid.

Monday, February 9, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Investigate Bush Administration

Sen. Patrick Leahy proposed a commission to investigate today. Obama said at his press conference that while he's more interested in going forward than looking backward, he believes crimes should be prosecuted.
Sign the petition here.

Liveblogging Potus

From the radio. I don't really need to watch, I already know he's handsome.

Elkhart, Ind. today---7.7% to 15% unemployment.
Highest in nation.
Last month lost equivalent of every single job in the state of Maine.
---stimulus will "save or create up to 4 mil jobs"
---fed govt only entity left with resources left to help---
break the cycle
----greater unemployment benefits, health ins. coverage, (thought the senators took those out)
tax credits---put more $ in pockets of those most likely to spend it
----tax cut strategy only got us here, didn't help
----not a single earmark---can't say everything will work exactly as hoped but....doing little or nothing...turn crisis into catastrophe
---urges C to resolve differences and pass it
Press ???s

AP---what could make our recession permanent---language too dire?
O---if delay under this severity creates a negative spiral much more diff. to get out of---like Japan's "lost decade"---the 90s, of no growth
"this is not your ordinary, run of the mill, recession"
half job losses in last 3 mos, means it accelerating
1--no govt intevention in marketplace
most economists recognize this big a problem govt. is important element to introduce additional demand into economy ($1 tril. this year, another $1 tril. next year loss of demand

2---(interrupted by phone, visitor)
all negatives create possibility of destabilizing region and contrary to our interests and international peace
---so we should employ all resources including diplomacy

3--Chip Reed?
What went wrong?
did you underestimate
O---a lot of bad habits built up in D.C., Americans get it
building trust over time---cabinet members, hope will be reciprocated
---but with economy, can't afford for Cong. to play usual political games
language--pork, wasteful spending when I hear that from folks who presided over unprecedented national debt--I inherited this
----no earmarks, just political rhetoric
bottom line is create 4 mil jobs, lay foundation for long term economic growth
don't call info tech in healthcare and greening federal buildings "wasteful"
school construction---short term jobs, long term economic benefit

4---Chuck Todd
isn't consumer spending what got us into this mess, shouldn't we worry about debt first?
O---not consumer spending, but bank irresponsibility
acknowledges savings rate declined and consumer economy for a long time--not sustainable
"The party now is over"
sequence now
1-stop spiral--put 4 in consumer pockets and two others, prop up economic recovery plan "I would love to not have to spend money right now"
2--mid-term and l.t. budget---figure out how to operate more prudently
change bad habits

Won't govt need more than the current $350 bil
O---his immediate task is to make sure this is spent properly
before thinking what else needs to be done (conventional wisdom out there says we'll need another $1 tril for next year)
---also refers to banking issues still to be clarified tomorrow (tomorrow) and housing issues
we dont' know yet how much additional money we're going to need
ultimately govt can't substute for private capital that's gone out of system

6---Jake (Tapper)
how figure if what we've done is working or need to go to plan B
O--initial goal is save or create 4 mil. jobs
2--are credit markets operating effectively, business still can't get credit
normalize credit markets
3--stabilize housing market
can stem foreclosure rate, help stabilize housing values
4---job growth

Afghanistan troop withdrawal timetable and no more sneaking the war dead back into country
blah-blah more dead today, signing letters to families
---media coverage of dead policies---are reviewing, he needs to evaluate
--re:Afgan. "big challenge" (heh)
national govt. seems very detached from what's going on around country plus Taliban a big deal
---Holbrooke and Petreuas --- coordination with diplomacy and development and allies
bottom line: "This is a situation in which a region served as a base to launch an attack that killed 3,000 Americans"
---can't allow Al Q to operate and have safe havens in that region---
no timetable yet

8--Helene Cooper

will next bailout require banks to make loans
O---he's avoiding preempting SecTreas
but "one of my bottom lines is is the money flowing to consumers"
package designed to help do that

9--Major Garrett

Biden said 30% chance will get it wrongg--what talking about

O--not sure what B meant, but "any single thing that we do is going to be part of the solution, not all of the solution" and not everything they do will work out

10--Michael Fletcher--Wapo
?reaction to A-Rod's disclosure of steriod use
O---depressing, message to kids, baseball finally taking it seriously,

re: Pakistan and safe havens in Afganistan---any country in Middle East have nuclear weapons? (she wants him to say Israel, nobody will do that in case you haven't noticed)
O---Holbrooke must warn Pakis they endangered as much as we are by the Al Q camps
re: nukes---"I don't want to speculate. What I know is this..."volatility puts everybody in danger...we with Russia must lead the way on this, we start reducing our arsenals together to give us standing to have more

12--Huffpo--Sam Stein
Leahy wants to set up bush admin. investigation
O--hasn't seen the proposal---but has said his admin. is going to operate in a way that leaves no doubt that w ndo not torture, abide by Geneva while vigorously pursuig those who will do us harm
"nobody is above the law" and where clear instances of wrongdoing, ppl should be prosecuted but more important to look forward rather than back
esp. members of intel

13--Mora Liasson---NPR (I am less than impressed with her)
bipartisanship---what need to do
O----old habits hard to break
coming off an election, people want to test the limits of what they can get, a lot of jockeying, positionng for next election
--people can't afford it right now
for the record R's were brought in early---pleasantly surprised---"I suppose what I could have done was start out with no tax cuts...then let them take the credit"
--need education reform (Dems, I'm looking at you) and entitlements need to be reformed (R's I'm looking at you)
---"my whole goal over the next 4 years"---pull people together around a pragmatic agenda
oppty with the recovery package---econ advisors to R's say we need a serious, spending effort
--"I am the eternal optimist" over time people respond to civility and rational argument

Best Of: The Sopranos

Not really but it's fun for awhile. Play a little and you'll get the idea. I don't know how long it is but it supposedly is every profanity in every episode from all (5-6?) seasons.
I miss Tony and Carm. And Big Pussy.

the sopranos, uncensored. from victor solomon on Vimeo.

The Empty Shirtsleeves of the Talking Heads

One of TPM's commentors is furious with the superficial treatment by the broadcast media of the financial crisis and Josh agrees.
Look, folks, it's already bad and it's gonna get worse.
They want to give their viewers something to hope about. Attribute that behavior to whatever you want, they're liars.
Money (pun? I made a pun?) quote:
"We'll eventually go to nationalization." Roubini in last two seconds of a 10-minute interview.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Oh, okay

Reports are that SNL was crappy last night. But not this.

First Wave Feminists

Devilstower over at Daily Kos fills us in on the strange and astonishing story of Victoria Woodhull, her sister Tennessee Claflin, and railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt who was, among other things, Anderson Cooper's great-grandfather. Age of innocence...NOT.
Where Gloria fits in all of it I'm not sure, but anyway it's a short, fun read for a Sunday.