Bipartisan BOHICA



Every time you hear how “the Republicans are worse” you should think about this story from Moneynews:


A bill that homeowners advocates warn will make it more difficult to challenge improper foreclosure attempts by big mortgage processors is awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature after it quietly zoomed through the Senate last week.

The bill, passed without public debate in a way that even surprised its main sponsor, Republican Representative Robert Aderholt, requires courts to accept as valid document notarizations made out of state, making it harder to challenge the authenticity of foreclosure and other legal documents.

The timing raised eyebrows, coming during a rising furor over improper affidavits and other filings in foreclosure actions by large mortgage processors such as GMAC, JPMorgan and Bank of America.

Questions about improper notarizations have figured prominently in challenges to the validity of these court documents, and led to widespread halts of foreclosure proceedings.

The legislation could protect bank and mortgage processors from liability for false or improperly prepared documents.

The White House said it is reviewing the legislation.

“It is troubling to me and curious that it passed so quietly,” Thomas Cox, a Maine lawyer representing homeowners contesting foreclosures, told Reuters in an interview.

A deposition made public by Cox was what first called attention to improper affidavits by GMAC.

Since then, GMAC, JPMorgan and others have halted foreclosure actions in many states after acknowledging that they had filed large numbers of affidavits in which their employees falsely attested that they had personally reviewed records cited to justify the foreclosures.

Cox said the new obligation for courts to recognize notarizations of documents filed by big, out-of-state companies, would make it more difficult and costly to challenge the validity of the documents.

[...]

“Constituents” Pressed For Passage

After languishing for months in the Senate Judiciary Committee, the bill passed the Senate with lightning speed and with hardly any public awareness of the bill’s existence on Sept.27, the day before the Senate recessed for midterm election campaign.

The bill’s approval involved invocation of a special procedure.

Democratic Senator Robert Casey, shepherding last-minute legislation on behalf of the Senate leadership, had the bill taken away from the Senate Judiciary committee, which hadn’t acted on it.

The full Senate then immediately passed the bill without debate, by unanimous consent. The House had passed the bill in April.

The House actually had passed identical bills twice before, but both times they died when the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to act.

Some House and Senate staffers said the Senate committee had let the bills languish because of concerns that they would interfere with individual state’s rights to regulate notarizations.

Senate staffers familiar with the judiciary committee’s actions said the latest one passed by the House seemed destined for the same fate.

But shortly before the Senate’s recess, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy pressed to have the bill rushed through the special procedure, after Leahy “constituents” called him and pressed for passage.

The staffers said they didn’t know who these constituents were or if anyone representing the mortgage industry or other interests had pressed for the bill to go through.

These staffers said that, in an unusual display of bipartisanship, Senator Jeff Sessions, the committee’s senior Republican, also helped to engineer the Senate’s unanimous consent for the bill.

Neither Leahy’s nor Session’s offices responded to requests for comment Wednesday. (emphasis added)


Hey Mr. Leahy! In the immortal words of Richard B. “Dick” Cheney:



“Go fuck yourself!”


To which I add “And the donkey party you rode in on!



_____________________________________________
UPDATE:

(From WCMB in the comments)

They are obfuscating because the problem isn’t the foreclosures themselves. The problem is all the mortgage-backed securities that spun off of those original notes – all the “side bets” that leveraged the original mortgage up to many multiples of the first note. Those are sitting on the big banks’ and hedge funds’ fake balance sheets of “assets” like big ole stinking turds.

The law required due diligence, and that non-performing loans did not get bundled into those “assets”. And the banks all winked and nodded and proceeded to pile garbage by the truckload into those “baskets” of derivatives, not bothering with the paper trail that was legally required. They were making money hand over fist on this Ponzi scheme, and figured they would never get caught because the housing bubble would never pop.

It’s not the foreclosures that will blow the whole thing sky high, it’s the side bets. Hillary knew this, which is why she wanted to actually unwind the MBS market, identify the toxic assets, and put them in a federal “bank”, a separate “pile” to isolate them from the rest of the system. Isolate them FIRST, leaving the banks healthy, then make decisions as to solutions for the toxic pile.

Our corporate govt is going to write a law, give a waiver, whatever they have to do to make sure that all that shaky leverage the banks took on is never exposed. Because if the banks are forced to take their real losses, many of them implode immediately.

The 700 billion bailout did NOTHING to clean up their balance sheets. Not one goddamn thing. They are as insolvent in reality as they were when this shit started, no matter what their fictional balance sheets say.

Making them eat their losses in a structured, organized way, with some help from the treasury so that the whole system didn’t go down, would have been a difficult time for the economy. It would have sucked for the country. But we would have come out of it with clean accurate balance sheets and a solid foundation to rebuild.

Instead, we spent 700 billion papering over the theft, only to wind up now right back where we started, with the rot still lurking there underneath, threatening at any moment to go kaboom once again.


Morning Madness Meditations

 

Cutting thru the crazy in suburban NJ

 

It’s another manic day in the deepest. darkest suburbs of central NJ but my mind is turned westward.  I am very worried about the mental state of our Petulant Klown.  He’s got some serious hypergraphia lately, for good reason.  But Klowns like voters can be very unpredictable.  He’s obviously worried about the Democrats.  I expected the Democrats to roll out some extra special strategy with secret sauce after labor day and instead, their strategy seems to be playing chicken with their base.  I think they underestimate their base.

Yeah, it would totally suck if Republicans won.  They’re a wild and crazy bunch alright.  Everybody is losing their jobs and houses and then there’s that whole redistricting thing that will make voting all but a formality for many.  But the Supernanny treatment was never going to be easy.  The brats are going to scream and wail that it’s all your fault but you’ve got to remain firm.  Either the Democrats get their act together before election day or the this version of the party is history and not a moment too soon.

(BTW, as a voter in NJ under the regime of Republican governor Chris Christie, I can report that there are some unexpected benefits.  Everytime the municipality or school district cuts back on something, the perfectly legitimate excuse is “the budget didn’t pass”.  So now I know that when Brook develops permanent curvature of the spine from carrying home 80 pounds of tattered books instead of accessing her books online like she did last year, I will remember that it was Chris Christie who slashed the state aid to schools that forced local taxpayers to reject yet another significant hike to their local property taxes.  We only have to live through 3 more years of this before we are sick of Republicans once and for all.)

If the Democrats want us back in the fold, they can stop the beatings until morale improves.  Oh, and kill the Catfood Commission BEFORE the election.  Kill it dead.  We don’t want any zombie committees later.

In the meantime, I’m thinking about attending Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington on October 30.  Yeah, Jon Stewart was a total dick to Hillary during the 2008 primary season but I’ve seen enough of his stuff lately that suggests that he knows he made a terrible mistake.  Anyway, he gets the party.  All too well.

On a related note, Lambert at Corrente had a post on a study on collective intelligence. The study showed that groups dominated by a single individual who bogarts the conversation are less collectively intelligent than groups where the opinions of all members of the group are solicited.  But wait!  There’s more.  In the journal Science where the paper was published, the researchers found that collective intelligence, c, was composed of several principal components.  The most significant component is “social sensitivity”.  “Social sensitivity has to do with how well group members perceive each other’s emotions,”  To their surprise, the researchers found that the number of women in a group is a significant component as well and is correlated to social sensitivity.  Collective intelligence has no correlation with the mean or max intelligence of the individual members of a group.  (Of course, if all of the members of the group were socially sensitive, you wouldn’t need women.  I believe this can be taught.  Maybe some women should teach it.)

In other words, if you have one person in your group making all the decisions, getting all of the plum projects and all of the limited budget resources and all of the praise, and shutting every other person in the group out of the conversation, that group will be less effective than one where there is more delegation and sharing of information and resources.  If the rumors and complaints about the Obama White House are true, ie, that it is micromanaged and subordinates are told to shut up and do what they’re told, then we are in trouble.

So, verily we say unto you, Barack Obama, if you want to make your administration more collectively intelligent, add more women to it.  And LISTEN TO THEM.  If I recall correctly, you have fewer women in your administration than either George Bush or Bill Clinton.  And you know what?  It shows.

I’m off!  (Well, I’m always a *little* off).

One last thing: Jeralyn, you should be ashamed of yourself for picking on people who just want to have a little fun.  It really is beneath you to be so petty and mean spirited and reveals a want of character on your part.  We don’t pick our mothers.

You owe myiq2xu an apology.

Hey Paul! They’re USING YOU!


Paul Rosenberg needs to take off the Kool-aid goggles:

And a very significant part of Obama’s campaign was that he fueled–in a very non-specific, non-cashable way–the sense that all of that had changed, and that we could all now expect more of each other as well as ourselves, and that we could rely on that expectation in order to do amazing things. That is what we hungered for, and it is a very large part of what went into Obama winning.

We saw a very dramatic demonstration of the long-term problem we face during the post-2000 election struggle in Florida. The GOP went all-out in hegemonic warfare mode. The Democrats, OTOH, told their base to stand down. Jesse Jackson lead just one rally–which locals had asked him to lead to bring them visibility–and the Gore campaigned told him to put a lid on it.

A continent away, in Los Angeles, I attended and reported on a rally with thousands of grassroots activists at the Westside LA Federal Building within days of the election, and a lively topic of conversation there was, “Where are the unions?” Because everyone knew that the unions could readily up the numbers by an order of magnitude. But after what happened with Jackson, folks had little doubt that the same orders had gone out the unions as well. It “wouldn’t look good” to have the sorts of people who vote Democratic out on the streets demanding that their votes be fairly counted. White Republicans staffers in suits, threatening to “shut it down” when the votes were being counted, now that’s the sort of demonstration that America could love! At least, that’s what the Democratic Party’s logic amounted to, boiled down it’s self-defeating basics.

So no. What we’ve experienced with Obama is not anything new. Not at all. But it is severely disappointing, since Obama himself came to victory largely by harnessing the rage that had developed in the Democratic base in part as a result of such past timidity.

Yet, even during the campaign, Obama had asked outside groups–including groups directly representing the base–to voluntarily silence themselves, just as Jackson had been silenced in Florida in 2000, while black votes were suppressed and an election was stolen.

So let us hope that the “One Nation” rally is a real, permanent turning point, a turning back to the grassroots, a turning back to the people whose lives this is really all about in the first place. Because that is what’s been missing on the left for low these many decades.

Turning point, shmurning point.

Doesn’t it seem that unless the base is saying exactly what benefits the Democratic party establishment they say STFU!? Gee, could it be that the Democrats want to control their base? Whose party is it anyway?

All the lefty activist groups have been neutered and vertically integrated into One Nation Under Obama. That’s because the Democrats think their grassroots is a lawn.

And what do you do with a lawn?

You walk all over it, let your dogs crap on it and when the blades get too tall you cut them down.

Hey, but at least it’s not astroturf!


BTW – add OpenLeft to the list of places in Left Blogistan that have banned the Petulant Clown.

The truth hurts, I guess.


Can this party be saved?

I’ve been cruising the web, checking out the blind men groping different parts of the elephant and trying to make sense of it all. None of them are seeing the big picture though, with the exeception of Ian Welsh and he’s even more pessimistic than I am. So, I thought I’d throw my own uninformed opinion into the mix. Here it is.

The Tea Party should give the Democrats the willies but not for the reason they think. It’s not the Koch brothers who are the big problem here. Oh, sure, the crazy idiot libertarians of the Republican party are about to get their wet dream fulfilled. But if they didn’t exist to fund the Tea Party, the voters might have invented it themselves. See, a lot of the people voting for Tea Party candidates are voters the Democrats might easily have claimed as their own two years ago.

If the blogger boyz could actually bother to get to know them, they’d understand what kind of pressure the working class is under. They work long years for stagnant pay while their under water houses take up more and more of their income. They can’t send their kids to college without saddling them with crippling debt. Their employment prospects are dim. And someone’s always got their hands out. Sometimes it’s teachers. Sometimes it’s bankers. Sometimes it’s their unemployed neighbors. To top it all off, the businesses that became cozy with both parties are ripping them off in every transaction from the ATM to the airlines to the gas station. And no matter how desperate they are for relief, the government only subsidizes the most destitute. In other words, you have to lose absolutely everything you have ever worked for before you get a boot with which you can pull yourself up.

Now, two years ago, those people had a choice. Or they THOUGHT they had a choice. They could have hit the reset button and gone back eight years or they could take a risk with Barack Obama. The choice was made for them by blogger boyz who felt they couldn’t leave this monumental moment of transcendent, orgasmic change in the hands of stupid working class people. So, we got change.

But while the blogger boyz were basking in the afterglow, life went on for the working class. And life has gotten significantly worse. The Democrats have given them nothing. The health care reform act was less than nothing. TARP was a disaster. HAMP is a disgrace. And as Peter Daou pointed out today, more people were killed in (non combat) operations in (not) Iraq, or something like that.

Believe it or not, guys, the working class can read.

They are not amused. At this point, the lives of the working class of the Tea Party have become like a sinking liferaft. They are throwing everyone else over to save themselves. Well, who can blame them? The Democrats gave them nothing in the past 6 years. At least the Tea Party Republicans offer them tax cuts. If that’s all they can get, they’ll take it.

And don’t blame them for this choice. It’s not because they’re stupid. It isn’t that they don’t understand that they are only hurting themselves. It’s that the Democrats give them no alternatives. And they’re pissed off. They could have had another Clinton.

Now, the lefty bloggers can continue to make fun of them and pile on Sarah Palin but that only going to make the former Democrats in the Tea Party even madder and more committed to getting rid of Democrats. They are tired of being mocked and treated like suckers.

The Democrats appear to be headed for political impotence. If they lose Congress, it’s back to the hinterlands, with no committee chairmanships and less seniority and meager campaign contributions. Obama will have to carry the ball for the whole party. Let me repeat that. OBAMA will have to carry the ball for the entire party.

Can this party be saved? I dunno. Depends on how badly it wants to save itself. Is it ready to make peace with the people it stupidly threw away in 2008? I’d like to think so but the Catfood Commission is still in business. That’s a bad sign. Oh, and Elizabeth Warren’s appointment would signify that the days of a free ride for bankers and credit card companies are coming to an end but that doesn’t look very promising at the moment.

It would be helpful to bring in another quarterback for 2012 but the blogger boyz are sneering at that idea.

I guess the answer is, No, unfortunately. Too bad really. Because unless the voting machines are already rigged, a party still needs voters to remain viable. And the Democrats got rid of a good chunk of them in 2008.

Pass the crumpets.

The Democrats are going to run on “results” in November??

Bart Stupak, poster boy for the "party of results"

I know, I know.  It took me awhile to stop giggling too.  They can’t possibly be serious.  But that’s what PoliticalTicker is claiming.   Swallow your coffee before you read it:

Washington (CNN) – When voters head to the polls in November, the Democratic National Committee would like them to remember Democrats with one word: results.

On Wednesday at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, chairman Tim Kaine revealed his party’s new message and strategy months ahead of the midterm elections. Kaine talked about the efforts with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in an interview that aired on John King, USA.

Kaine told King that Democrats hope to convince voters they are the party of results. Part of their new strategy will involve pushing that message, helping local candidates, and convincing many of the new voters – that voted for President Barack Obama in the last election – to support Democrats in the midterms.

The DNC chairman said that while the economy still needs improvements, it’s moved from recession to recovery.

Kaine said, “I think the improvement will be noticed by our voters and we’ll be able to make the case to them, do you want to keep climbing or do you want to hand the keys back to the guys who put us into the ditch?”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s what they will be thinking as they head out the door today with their complimentary cardboard box for their stuff and their three month severance packages.

Actually, that’s not what I’ve been witnessing here in the heart of middle class suburbia.  What is happening is that the Republicans in NJ are stirring up an anti-tax rebellion and directing it against hapless teachers.  Why should THEY be getting decent bennies and a steady paycheck when the people footing the bill with their ridiculous property taxes are seeing their industries disappearing and their own lives on the brink of disaster?

Tim Kaine and the Democrats are utterly clueless.  They have no idea what is really going on out here.  Results?  What results?

Was the stimulus package big enough to stave off these drastic cuts in our school districts?

Did Democrats end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Did the Democrats fight hard for the entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the capital they need to start new ventures so people would have jobs?

Did the Democrats soak the rich bankers within an inch of their lives so that they would learn a valuable lesson and the financial catastrophe they brought upon us wouldn’t happen again?

Did Democrats put together an adequate bailout and mortgage restructuring package for strapped homeowners so they wouldn’t throw in the towel and walk away from their obligations?  Did they make it easier for mortgage owners to keep money flowing to the banks to keep them solvent?

Did the Democrats impose some emergency regulations so that bankers would stop gambling away our futures?

Have the Democrat done ANYTHING so far to make sure that no one touches Social Security and that we get our Trust Fund money back from the thieves who took it?

Did the Democrats give us actual health care reform that’s truly universal, affordable, with competition?

Did the Democrats protect womens’ rights and autonomy of her own body?

Did the Democrats fix gender paycheck inequalities for real or did they simply pass a law with no teeth?

Did the Democrats try to protect American workers’ jobs?

I haven’t seen any results.  I’ve seen them turn their backs on their own voters in 2008 in order to elect their lightbringer, an easy win for them.  All they had to do was change the roolz in the middle of the game and cudgel frantic American voters with false accusations of racism to guilt them into voting for one of the most unprepared but nakedly ambitious presidents since George W. Bush.  But it wasn’t enough to make him president.  No, the world had to give him a Nobel prize as well.  What’s next?  A MacArthur genius grant for curing cancer?  Where does he find the time??  The awards must be piling up on his little display etegere, like a bunch of 3rd place martial arts trophies.  Everyone who participates gets a prize for trying.

And the whining.  I can’t stand it.  We are now supposed to believe that a minority party, the Republicans, are responsible for all that has gone wrong.  They stand in the way.  They say no to everything.  Even when Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, the Republicans were responsible.  How can that be??  I am trying hard to wrap my head around this concept.  Here’s what I’ve got: 1.) Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the senate.  2.)Republicans got what they wanted anyway.  3.) Soooo, maybe the problem is actually *in* the Democratic party.   Three names come to mind immediately: Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak.  You can throw Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu in there as well but at least they can be leaned on.  Who leaned on Nelson, Lieberman and Stupak?  Those three swaggered all over Congress and Stupak in particular got whatever the hell he wanted.  It was Bart Stupak vs the majority of voters in the USA and Bart won.  BART won.  The Democrats allowed Bart and Obama to screw millions of women out of their personal autonomy and Democrats have the nerve to blame Republicans?

I don’t think Democrats understand the impact of their cowardice.  Women are not a special interest.  Workers have to work to pay taxes.  The financial investment industry is out of control and wrecking havoc around the world.  Our current wars are pointless wastes of lives and money.  Sick children should never have to pass through a gauntlet to get affordable health care.  And we need teachers, even the mean ones who can’t be bothered to address the needs of the gifted.  If they do a good job with the other 98% of the students in their classes, we will have gotten more than our money’s worth.

You want to know what I want to see in the results category?  I want to see real passion on the Floor.  I want to see yelling and screaming.  I want to see the progressives and liberals eat some red meat and throw a fit until the Bart Stupaks in their own party back down.  I want to see eggs thrown and smoke bombs and bloody noses.  I want to see incivility.  I want to see so much fighting in Congress by Democratic representatives on behalf of Americans not in the bonus class that the editorial page of the New York Times faints before it can reach the smelling salts.  I don’t want two Republican parties.  I want to see Democrats actually ACT like Democrats. 

Shove your “party of results” meme until you have some results.  I own my vote.  I don’t give it away for social promotion purposes.  You can’t scare me with the Republican boogie man anymore.  I voted for downticket Dems in 2008 but they haven’t pulled their weight.  If Republicans win this fall, Democrats have themselves to blame and no one else.  It was their responsibility to get things done and they blew it.  They coasted.   This fall, I’m not voting for either party.  I’m voting for a party to be designated later.

And stop calling me for money.

Martha Coakley and the Despicable Democratic Spin Meisters

The Dems are fashioning a pre-emptive strike in advance of Martha Coakley’s potentially disastrous loss on Tuesday.  Let the record show that the Democrats are starting to parrot the Fox News pundits.  From the NY Times this morning comes these tasty tidbits to savor:

“It comes from the fact that Obama as president has had to deal with all these major crises he inherited: the banks, fiscal stimulus,” said Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr., the Democrat who holds the Massachusetts seat on an interim basis pending the special election. “But for many people it was like, ‘Jeez, how much government are we getting here?’ That might have given them pause.”

and…

Senator Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, said the atmosphere was a serious threat to Democrats. “I do think there’s a chance that Congressional elites mistook their mandate,” Mr. Bayh said. “I don’t think the American people last year voted for higher taxes, higher deficits and a more intrusive government. But there’s a perception that that is what they are getting.”

I love this stuff.

Presumably, the 2008 primary voters of Massachusetts realized that Obama would inherit a lot of crap from his predecessor.  This is not news to them.  That’s probably why they didn’t vote for him. Maybe it’s just me but when I was written off by my own party as an inconvenient vote, a rage simmered in me just waiting for an opportunity to strike back.  Maybe, if Jon Corzine had acted like a real Democrat and had spent his four year term making the NJ tax system fairer, he would have gotten a second chance.  But Corzine wasn’t done in by more Republicans voting so much as he failed to get Democrats to the polls.  You can call it an enthusiasm gap if you want.

Or you can parrot the Republican line and say that people are objecting to more big government.  {{snort!}} Yes, that may be the perception that they’re getting because that is the perception that Democrats like Bayh are promoting.  But if that’s true, why the heck is my email account cluttered up with appeal after appeal for money for Coakley in Massachusetts.  I mean, don’t Democrats want government that works for voters?  So, they are saying one thing to the cable news audience and another thing to their (former) Democratic base?  Whoda thunkit?

Could you Democrats just cut the crap already?

If Martha Coakley loses on Tuesday it will be because she succumbed to a trait common to most tragic heros: arrogance.  Everyone thought that she was a shoe in when she won the primary, including the candidate herself.  What she is instead is a very bad politician.  Politics requires some showmanship.  You have to be able to read your audience.  But Martha Coakley is stupidly honest about what she thinks of her sucker voters.  She roped in her liberal Massachusetts constituents by presenting her liberal credentials in the primary and then did a 180 on them a short time later by embracing the health care reform act.  She signalled in advance that she didn’t really give a damn about what her liberal constituents thought.

Martha didn’t have to do this.  This is Massachusetts.  Democrats outnumber Republicans by millions.  It remains a mystery why she tacked right in a state where tacking right is a non-starter.  I can’t imagine what DC Democrats thought they could get from it unless they wanted her to lose.  But then, why all of the appeals for cash?  Why the sense of panic and desperation?  What nitwit in Washington thought it was a good idea for Coakley to broadcast the fact that she was going to screw her voters?  The loyalty pledge to Obama and the powers that back him up has finally met its match.

I wouldn’t presume to tell Massachusetts how to vote on Tuesday and they’re not looking for me for guidance anyway.  But we can look at the likely outcome.  It’s going to be Democrats that determine this thing, either by defection or by staying home.  If they elect Scott Brown, they send a potent message to the party and the country that they’re sick and tired of being jerked around by Democrats In Name Only that pretend to share their values but are really beholden to a small evil group to which no one they know belongs.  That gives national Democrats about 10 months to get their shit together and quit playing games.

If they vote for Coakley, even if the outcome is close, they signal to Washington that they are perfectly willing to be suckers but they end up with a woman who will get them closer to that 30% critical mass of female legislators that will eventually have the power to tell the Rahm Emannuel types to go take a long walk on a short pier when it comes to selling out their gender for the sake of some uber shmoozer’s political reputation. Unfortunately, that 30% level is still a loonnnng way off. Still, going forward is a potent argument.

But it Coakley loses on Tuesday, the Democrats would be wise to yank the Kirks and Bayhs from the airwaves.  The base won’t be buying it anymore.

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Zombie lies and the lying liars that tell them


I ran across this pile of shit over at Cinie’s place:

I remember the moment when the last vestiges of the admiration I had once felt for Bill and Hillary Clinton vanished.

By May 2008, Barack Obama had opened up an all-but-insurmountable lead over Hillary in the contest for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination. The former first lady was asked why, therefore, she was prolonging the battle, risking significant damage to the party in the process.

“We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California,” she replied.

To raise the spectre of political murder in any campaign would have been startling. To do so against Obama – whose status as the first serious African-American candidate for the White House had obliged him to have secret service protection from a conspicuously early stage – was disgusting.

Hillary’s comment was even more incendiary because it came towards the end of a campaign in which the family that had dominated Democratic politics for most of the previous two decades had shown little reluctance to play the race card.

I don’t know who Niall Stanage is but he’s dumber than a drunken Blogstalker.  First of all, Hillary won the popular vote and only trailed in the pledged delegate race by 17 delegates AFTER the Rules & Bylaws Committee decision on May 31, 2008 AND with 908 “uncommitted” pledged delegates and all the superdelegates still not counted.

Secondly, the RFK Fauxrage has already been thoroughly debunked. Hillary was not “raising the spectre” of anything, against Obama or anyone else. The whole incident is a prime example of the pro-Obama lunacy that ran amok in Left Blogistan during the 2008 election.

Last of all, the only people “playing the race card” during the election (and repeatedly ever since) were Obama and his supporters.

So I would like to invite Mr. Stanage to kindly fuck off.



(zombie graphic courtesy of Joseph Cannon)

Mather does not Cotton to the Pseudo-Puritanism of O’Keefe and Giles

jesus_mary_magdalene
O’Keefe and Giles, in their portrayal of pimp and prostitute, reek of puerile classism. Were it not for the overwhelmingly noxious fumes emanating from the handful of ACORN employees who were apparently willing to enable a child prostitution ring exploiting illegal immigrants, the stink of the ill-informed moral superiority of O’Keefe and Giles would drive evolutionarily advanced members of our species to avoid contact.

Let’s cut to the chase. The child prostitution enablement shown in the videos is beyond the pale. It is wholly unacceptable. Giles and O’Keefe deserve credit for exposing this potential for promoting abuse with ACORN’s structure.

For ACORN to continue doing the good they do for the community, they must clean their house. This said, many houses and streets in the U.S. are in need of a good cleaning.

Credit granted where it is due, I am discomforted by the prurient form of Puritanism implicit in the method O’Keefe and Giles chose to expose ACORN’s illness. Their sting starts with a young female sex worker trying to buy a home, before it lures the ACORN workers into the ugliness of underage sexual exploitation. My issue with O’Keefe and Giles is that they appear to believe that people engaged in the sex trade should not be able to have normal life dreams.

Life in the Sex Trade

Life circumstances lead some people to prostitution. In our culture, it is rarely a profession of choice. This is something our political class should be well aware of, given the large number of personally undertaken, hobby social science, in-depth probes they have engaged in over the years.

There are volumes of research on the various factors and dynamics that create the participants in the world’s oldest profession. In our culture, an experience of sexual abuse and economic vulnerability are common themes in the dynamic of becoming a prostitute.

Should being a sex worker be a barrier to living as other citizens live?

If a sex worker wants to buy a home, and she meets all of the relevant requirements for obtaining a mortgage, other than that she cannot state her profession on the mortgage application because her form of employ is illegal, what is she to do, other than lie? If that sex worker wants to do the proper thing as a citizen and pay her taxes as a self-employed person, what is she to do, other than lie?

The simple answer is that citizens who want to pay taxes and buy homes should not choose to live the lifestyle of a prostitute. This is the type of answer one expects from those who are ignorant of the dynamics that create prostitution, especially in the underage realm. For example, leaving is often not merely a personal decision and few pimps are as non-threatening as the one portrayed by James O’Keefe. Accordingly, it fits that such an answer would come from those who choose to disregard how the practice of their political philosophy enhances the conditions that create the sex trade.

In this regard, Ms. Giles words to Sean Hannity on how she conceived the project:

It’s amazing what girls think about when they are jogging. And that was just something that popped into my head. I had never seen an ACORN office, I really didn’t even know that they existed and I jogged into the wrong part of town, saw some homeless people and street ladies and I put two and two together when I turned around to get back into a safe neighborhood. And it’s like — what if these people went into ACORN — a prostitute and what would come from that? No bills, no nothing — would they get a house? Could they start a business? So we put it to the test.

It is telling that Giles was interested in whether or not ACORN would help a street lady buy a home and, apparently, not so interested in what caused the women to become street ladies. Then again, perhaps that’s simply a feature of rarely running into the “wrong part of town?” Regardless, Giles began her project with two targets, ACORN and street ladies who wanted to buy a home.

For O’Keefe and Giles, having to live with the danger, and adopt the stigma, attached to selling sexual services does not seem to be enough punishment. They appear to think there is something improper about a prostitute wanting to own a home, which, if she worked there, would also be a brothel. They seem unable to see that owning a home might serve as a base upon which to leave the sex trade. Thankfully, many ACORN employees are not afflicted by the anti-New Testament immorality that informs that type of thinking.

ACORN: The Bad and the Good

ACORN has problems at a variety of levels. It is reasonable to call for a proper audit of the organization, given their government funding. A good time for the audit might be immediately after a full accounting of every dollar of TARP funding is released to the public.

Notwithstanding ACORN’s many problems, it provides valuable community services. ACORN employees work to bring a better life to many citizens and many of these citizens reside in the underclass. Working with people in the underclass requires empathy for their circumstance and a pragmatic attitude that involves working with limited resources to bring about optimal results, which will necessarily be modest at best. To me, it is entirely appropriate for an ACORN accountant to bend a category to find a way for a sex worker to pay her taxes so she can buy a home. (Perhaps the idea of a citizen wanting to pay taxes is outside the worldview of the young Republican film makers?)

O’Keefe and Giles have done a community service by exposing rot in the structure of ACORN. Unfortunately, their methodology lacks the discipline of the precautionary principle. As a tool for the healing of the body politic, therefore, the methodology of O’Keefe and Giles is flawed, because they are willing to worsen the lives of sex workers to achieve their aim of disarming ACORN. Accordingly, the methodology of O’Keefe and Giles is unethical because it causes a wholly unnecessary amputation, where a good anti-biotic would have done the job. For this reason, I reject the pseudo-Puritanism implicit in their methodology for its lack of empathy and wisdom.

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The Culture of Cannibalism in US Politics: The Cycle of Corruption

MarkTwain_arts Mark Twain, in “Cannibalism in the Cars,” suggested that cannibalism of the body politic is a logical outcome of the practice of the political values of the elected representatives of the United States, in dire circumstances. What would occur, if such dire circumstances did not require a natural disaster, but became a systemic feature of the political landscape?

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The current economic crisis and America’s abject failure to provide economically-efficient, affordable healthcare are two examples of dire circumstances that are systemic features of America’s political landscape. Both crises are the results of bad governance. Both circumstances are direct products of the growth of influence of en-corporated political interests (encorps) in the system of governance of the United States. Bad governance, in both cases, involves a betrayal of the public trust that is manifested in not regulating the encorps in a way that protects the public’s interests, especially with respect to not meaningfully regulating the encorps ability to influence government officials.

The United States was born wary of the power of vested interests to influence public policy. Alexander Hamilton’s comments in the Federalist Papers are an example of this concern. .

In republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community, by the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great pre-eminence and power, may find compensations for betraying their trust, which, to any but minds animated and guided by superior virtue, may appear to exceed the proportion of interest they have in the common stock, and to overbalance the obligations of duty.

Unfortunately, keeping the vested interests out is not a simple matter. How can it be when parties themselves are collective expressions of a set of weighted interests? Frankly, it is sensible for people of like purpose to strive together to achieve their aims, and there is nothing necessarily insidious about the practise. In fact, it’s a cornerstone of Democracy and civil society.

It is also, however, the entry way for corruption because the crux of the matter is not that people have differing and competing interests: it’s that they differ so greatly in terms of their power to realize those interests. When the power to realize those interests is used to unjustly deny the interests of less powerful, but equally or more deserving citizens, through a donation that is traded for a piece of unjust legislation, then it can be said that a positive feedback loop of corruption has been initiated.
The overly simple analysis that follows attempts to describe the basic workings of this system.
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This was the plan all along

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Glenn Greenwald finally gets it:

That’s obviously true. In fact, it’s so obviously true that no matter how dumb one might think Democrats are, they’re certainly not so dumb that they failed to realize that the GOP was highly unlikely to help Obama pass health care reform no matter what the bill contained. From the start, it’s been obvious to everyone — the Obama White House and Senate Democrats included — that the GOP would not help Obama pass health care reform. Why would the GOP want to help Obama achieve one of his most important and politically profitable goals? Of course they were going to try to sabotage the entire project and would oppose health care reform no matter what form it took. Everyone knew that from the start for exactly the reason that it was so obvious to Benen.

The attempt to attract GOP support was the pretext which Democrats used to compromise continuously and water down the bill. But — given the impossibility of achieving that goal — isn’t it fairly obvious that a desire for GOP support wasn’t really the reason the Democrats were constantly watering down their own bill? Given the White House’s central role in negotiating a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry, its betrayal of Obama’s clear promise to conduct negotiations out in the open (on C-SPAN no less), Rahm’s protection of Blue Dogs and accompanying attacks on progressives, and the complete lack of any pressure exerted on allegedly obstructionists “centrists,” it seems rather clear that the bill has been watered down, and the “public option” jettisoned, because that’s the bill they want — this was the plan all along. (emphasis added)

Well no shit, Sherlock! That’s why I keep saying – “Failure is a feature, not a bug.” I’m glad to see that people smarter than me are starting to figure it out too.


One more time:

“Because that’s the bill they want — this was the plan all along”

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