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      Prime Minister Harper pretty much confirmed it: ‘Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened’ Yup.  Never let a crisis go to waste. I’m very sad that MPs and their staff were scared, and I’m sadder that a soldier lost his life.  But one attack does not justify increasing the police state.  However, if [...]
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And we get?


Anglachel discusses the Catfood Commission’s “disingenuous calls for sacrifice.”

The general criticism of the class bias in how the commission weighted the sacrifices (most for the little people, few for the monied elite) has been done by other commenters, so I’d like to focus on the last, rather amazing sentence in the above quote. The work of the New Deal is delivering value and providing economic security almost a century after it was done. It is an investment that continues to pay out.

Consider that at least 30 of those 80 years have occurred while a political party explicitly opposed to the New Deal has been in power, and that it has been under fire from that same faction since the early 1960s, more than half its life. We’re talking some institutional resilience. When a program provides material benefits to large portions of the population with little overhead and minimal intrusiveness, it’s going to be a winner. This is deep strength of Social Security and Medicare – they deliver. [There's also the incredible infrastructure investments of the WPA that continue to deliver, but those are less easy to identify as a personal benefit.]

This is why the attacks on them have failed thus far. Main Street can see the benefit these programs deliver. Main Street in this case is not just families, but also small business. Cost efficiencies for business is also a reason why these programs persist. How many small business owners can provide a retiree pension or medical insurance system with the cost efficiency as SS and Medicare, for example? People also see that these New Deal programs are about the only thing still delivering to them in the face of 35 years of continual and deliberate economic degradation


Continue reading

Same old, same old


Jonathan Alter at Newsweak has a post that is full of fail:

Why the Midterms Matter
The GOP’s agenda has to be stopped.

But elections aren’t just about who wins. They’re about what happens when one or the other party wins. We’re so eager to promote ourselves with the smartest take on how President Obama and the Democrats got themselves in this pickle that we haven’t done a good job explaining the stakes. We manage to sever cause from effect.

Let’s say you’re an independent voter who wants to send Obama a message on Nov. 2. Have the media told you what that would say? Here’s a clue: moderate Republicans are extinct. With big wins, the Tea Party will transform itself from an insurgency into the driving force within the GOP. Gains in statehouses and legislatures will allow right-wingers to use the 2010 census to redraw district lines that will entrench them in power until 2020. Back in charge in Washington, they will likely block even centrist choices for courts. Extremist senators like Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn will move from being irritants on the fringe to players at the center of our politics.

The Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress for four years, including a period when they had a filibuster-proof supermajority. They have held the White House for nearly two years following eight years of George the Lesser.

So, leading into the midterm election the best argument Alter can make is “ZOMG! The Republicans are worse!!?

That’s pathetic.

The Democrats are not facing a GOPer tsunami because of the Tea Partiers or the Chamber of Commerce. They are gonna get a big can o’ Whoop-ass opened on them by the voters because they failed to do what they were elected to do.

In 2006 and 2008 people voted for change, but all they got was more of the same old, same old.

Here’s the worst part:

Health insurers flirted with Democrats, supported them with money and got what they wanted: a federal mandate that most Americans carry health care coverage. Now they’re backing Republicans, hoping a GOP Congress will mean friendlier regulations.

The bankers and all the other malefactors of great wealth are doing the same thing. The Democrats sold out their constituents (that’s us) thinking they had some wealthy BFF’s to replace us with.

They got hustled, but we got screwed.

Hopenchange motherf**kers!


Extreme Makeover – Democratic Party Edition

No more clowning around

 


We all know that the leadership of the Democratic party is rotten to the core. They are corrupt and don’t represent the people that elected them. Obama could not have stolen the nomination without their help.

Trying to reform the party by sending a few new faces to Washington every few years is like throwing a few good apples in a barrel full old moldy ones. We gotta get rid of all the bad apples first.

If your house was riddled with termites and dry rot, you wouldn’t just slap a new coat of paint over everything and pretend it was okay, would you? No, you would tear out and replace all the diseased and damaged wood first.

Unfortunately the theory of “primary them” doesn’t work so well in practice. Just ask Senator Ned Lamont. My blue-dog congressman (Dennis Cardoza) got into office by primarying his predecessor, Gary Condit, but Gary had a little problem with a dead girl at the time. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen very often.

Because of the enormous advantages of incumbency, absent a scandal successful primary challengers generally have to be independently wealthy and/or famous. I’d prefer somebody more like me.

But what we’re talking about right now is a post-primary challenge to a corrupt incumbent. In this situation the challengers aren’t Democrats. If you really want to get rid of that corrupt Democratic incumbent, what are you gonna do?

Voting for them while thinking “Better luck next time” sure isn’t the way to do it. If you keep reelecting them they’re never gonna learn.

You can vote for a no-hoper third party candidate or “none of the above” (NOTA) and hope the incumbent loses. Now I’m all for building up a viable third party but if you’re gonna do that you need to go all-in a lot sooner than two weeks before the election.

Voting NOTA may make you feel pure and innocent but until they make NOTA an option on the ballot you’re just throwing away your vote. That’s all well and good when the race in your district or state isn’t going to be close.

But what if the race you’re voting on is too close to call and is between a batshit insane Tea Party Republican like Sharron Angle and a corrupt and ossified DINOcrat like Dirty Harry Reid? One of them is gonna win and a handful of votes may very well decide which one it is.

Either way the state of Nevada is gonna lose. But if you lived in Nevada, what would you do?

It’s your vote and you alone have to decide what to do with it. But one option you should consider is “Vote ‘em out.” Vote against the incumbent by voting for the leading challenger, regardless of party affiliation.

This is an option even if you believe “The Republicans are worse” because no pain, no gain. Vote out the corrupt incumbent Democrats this time and start working on finding new candidates who will represent our interests next time.

Keep doing it over and over until we get rid of all the rot and corruption.

Blow it up, burn it down, level it off and start fresh.

Just think about it.




Breaking up is hard to do


Elon James White at Salon:

Defending Obama and the Democrats is hard.

Not because I don’t think they’ve done some good in the past two years, because I do. It’s hard because I find myself constantly defending them, even when I’m not ecstatic about what’s happening. Don’t let my overly public defense of the Democrats fool you; I’m annoyed, tired and frustrated like a lot of people. Yet I don’t suffer from this enthusiasm gap that’s become all the rage to discuss. My enthusiasm is as strong as it has ever been because my choice is to either be frustrated with the Dems but know that a lot of good will come out of it or let the crazy people win. My issues with the Republicans and the Tea Party aren’t simply “a difference in opinion”; I’m overly enthusiastically against what they represent. I was really happy about Obama but my enthusiasm is on overdrive when it comes to stopping the Republicans.

But this doesn’t mean I’m drinking the liberal Kool-Aid.

I’ve mocked the Democrats on numerous occasions in the past two years when I believed they were really screwing up. Their P.R. skills are lacking even when they’re doing the right thing. The party’s various concessions to the bat-shit crazy contingent in order to push policies through has made my stomach hurt quite a few times, but even with all of that, I still have all the enthusiasm in the world. I am a hundred percent on whatever side that isn’t the one who keeps spouting off about “Real America.”

These days in Left Blogistan there are basically three different groups.

The first group are snorting Kool-aid powder straight from the package. These are the people who say that Obama is doing a stupendous job and has made historic achievements during his first two years in office. Obviously they’re either lying or delusional and I’m not sure which is worse.

This group has been steadily decreasing in size since Obama’s inauguration.

The second group are the ones that acknowledge that Obama has been a major disappointment but continue to support him anyway. This group includes those people who are recovering from Kool-aid as well as those who only experimented with it or used it socially. But there are also a number of people in this group who never drank the Obama juice but nonetheless voted for him and continue to support him and the Democratic party, primarily on the theory that “the Republicans are worse!”

We’ll talk more about these guys in a minute.

The last group are the people that Markos Moulitsas referred to as a “paranoid band of shrieking hold-outs.” They used to be Democrats but now they’re independent liberals. I’m one of them, as are Riverdaughter and the rest of the writers here at The Confluence. If you have big tire tracks across your back then you’re probably one too.

We weren’t fooled by the slick con job that the Malefactors of Great Wealth paid David Axelrod hundreds of millions of dollars to put over on the gullible. We refused to be bullied into either going along with the fraud or keeping silent.

We were prematurely correct about Obama, so of course we are hated and despised.

Now let’s go back and talk about that second group.

To hear them tell it, Obama and the Democrats in Congress are well-intentioned and share our values and goals, but they are cowardly, weak and spineless as well as politically inept. They don’t want to accept that Obama and the Democrats aren’t weak, they’re corrupt.

In other words, these people are in denial.

I’m gonna pick on Susie Madrak a little because she provided the perfect analogy.

Top Obama adviser David Axelrod got an earful of the liberal blogosphere’s anger at the White House moments ago, when a blogger on a conference call directly called out Axelrod over White House criticism of the left, accusing the administration of “hippie punching.”

“We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day,” the blogger, Susan Madrak of Crooks and Liars, pointedly told Axelrod on the call, which was organzied for liberal bloggers and progressive media.

Let’s expand on Susie’s analogy a little bit. Obama is the guy who already has a girlfriend (Wall Street, et al.) and doesn’t take the “under the bleachers” girl on dates or buy her gifts, he just uses her for booty calls. If he makes any promises he doesn’t keep them and when they do hook up he doesn’t even bother to provide “mutual satisfaction.”

That sounds like a pretty good description of Obama’s relationship with the netroots to me. The question is why the hell anyone would anyone want to be the girl in a relationship like that?

Susie:

As much as I despise the weak-kneed, corporate ass-kissing Democrats, I hate the Republicans even more for bullying their way into the front of the economic policy debate and forcing bad policies that just don’t work.

They don’t care. They’re Republicans, they don’t have to!

So the girl in Susie’s analogy tells the guy she doesn’t like the way he’s treating her but he doesn’t change and she keeps meeting him under the bleachers for those booty calls anyway because she *knows* that deep down he really loves her and one of these days he’ll realize it.

If this girl was your friend, what advice would you give her?

Unless and until liberals and progressives are willing to say “Enough is enough!” they are gonna keep getting screwed. As long as they keep supporting Obama and the Democrats because “the Republicans are worse!” they are sending the message that all the Donkeys have to do is be the lesser of two evils.

If the Democrats won’t give you what you want you need to find someone who will.




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.


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