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      by Tony Wikrent North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Economist Mariana Mazzucato has demonstrated that the real driver of innovation isn’t lone geniuses but state investment. [Wired, via The Big Picture 10-19-19] ….Mazzucato, an Italian-American economist who had spent decades researching the economics of innovation […]
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Watch What I Say, Not What I Do

I’m thrilled to introduce you to the newest front-page blogger at The Confluence, sandress. You know her as our frequent commenter, Sandra S. and she also blogs at New Agenda Report as Sandra.

Sandress, I’m so excited to welcome you — Thank you for this wonderful post! — katiebird


It’s no shock to any of us here at The Confluence that Obama’s popularity is finally tanking. Apparently people don’t like incompetence in their leaders during a massive ecological crisis. Who knew? The media has tried to spin this as voters demanding tears and emotional outbursts, which Obama has thus far failed to deliver. But the fact is that people want Obama to have a Plan, and now that he doesn’t have the smart girl to crib off of, he’s got nothing. And we all know what that means: A MAGIC SHOW!

Actually, it means someone is getting thrown under the bus, and since Obama is running out of members of his inner circle to sacrifice, that can only mean one thing: we need a woman to burn in effigy! Hillary is already in trouble, what with standing apart in the McChrystal scandal, and being talked up by Sally Quinn as Biden’s replacement. I’m fairly certain we’ll see some solid anti-Hillary sentiment stirred up unless Obama can find a way to take credit for her good work. But no, I think Sarah Palin is going to bear the brunt of this particular witch hunt. After all, this is the woman who champions drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife National Refuge. Who would make a better target for progressive ire while Obama fails to make gains combatting the devastating Gulf Oil Spill?

As we gear up for another fun round of Pin the Blame on the Scapegoat, we’ll all be reminded over and over again that we only know what They want us to know. The average voter, and the average opinionated blog-stalker, has no idea what Obama’s actual voting record was, and certainly none of them have any idea about what Palin was actually like in office.

So here’s a quick quiz, just to brush up. Heck, use it to challenge the most politically savvy people you know. (Note: Since Obama chooses to be judged on his words rather than his actions, I’ve leaned heavily on rhetoric in the quiz)

The All-New Obama/Palin Quiz

  1. Who said “I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.”
  2. Who said “I’m pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues”?
  3. Who said “I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles”?
  4. When asked if s/he would support an abortion ban in their state if Roe v. Wade were overturned, who responded: “It would be up to the people… to discuss and decide how we would like our society to reflect our values”?
  5. Who more than tripled funding in their state for an organization providing programs for homeless, runaway, and pregnant youth?
  6. Which political figure appointed a notably anti-choice and anti-contraception woman to a prominent position in charge of health-related funds?
  7. Who responded to the aftermath of a major ecological disaster by saying: “The oil companies are our partners in a sense, in that they do hold the leases, the rights to develop our resources, but it’s our duty… to make sure that we have… sound, responsible oversight… that there are the commitments by industry to safely and responsibly develop our resources… We will make sure that something like this does not happen again”?
  8. In 2007, who wished to impose sanctions on Iran and its allies, and to designate the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group?
  9. When asked about increasing state-funded faith-based initiatives in 2006, which major political figure responded that current levels of funding were adequate?
  10. Which political figure is responsible for the assertion that the prosecution of warrantless wire-tapping represents “exceptionally grave harm to national security”, and that the United States government possesses “sovereign immunity” which allows them to use surveillance violating federal privacy statues and not be sued?
  11. Who said “If we’re going to end genocide and stop the scourge of HIV/AIDS, we need people of faith on Capitol Hill talking about how these challenges don’t just represent a security crisis or a humanitarian crisis, but a moral crisis as well”?
  12. When asked about Thomas Jefferson and the Separation of Church and State, who replied “His intention in expressing that was so that government did not mandate a religion on people. And Thomas Jefferson also said never underestimate the wisdom of the people. And the wisdom of the people, I think in this issue is that people have the right and the ability and the desire to express their own religious views, be it a very personal level, which is where I choose to express my faith, or in a more public forum”?
  13. Who said “To say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity; our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition”?
  14. Which political figure was willing to compromise on the mandated reporting of leaks at nuclear energy plants?
  15. Who cited a trip abroad as a college student as foreign policy experience in 2008?
  16. Bonus Question: According to Frank Llewellyn, national director of the Democratic Socialists of America, who is more socialistic, Obama or Palin?

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Wednesday News – Breaking: McChrystal Out

Good morning Conflucians!!

We’re awaiting the final nail for McChrystal’s coffin, here are some things happening today. When the news breaks, I’ll update it at the bottom.

New home sales plummet:

New home sales plummeted to a record low in May, the first month following the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit. This snapped a two-month streak of gains.

New home sales declined 32.7% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 300,000 last month, down from an downwardly revised 446,000 in April, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Sales year-over-year fell 18.3%.

This is the slowest sales pace since the Commerce Department began tracking data in 1963. The prior record was set in September 1981, when new homes sold at an annual rate of 338,000.

“We expected a slowdown, but the extent of this decline was a surprise,” said Anika Khan, an economist at Wells Fargo. The figure was even worse than her relatively pessimistic forecast of an annual rate of 380,000 in May.

A consensus of economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected May sales to slide to an annual rate of 430,000.

“Clearly, the lack of a tax credit had a lot to do with it, and it’s going to be a bit of a bumpy road ahead as we get a few more months of payback,” Khan said.

It’s just hard to compete with a really large inventory of non new homes at lower prices. I’m not surprised at all. And combine that with the homebuyer tax credit expiration, it’s no wonder. Of course the underlying disastrous economy is the big picture issue. And on top of that, the general impression of how bad things are I think has been greatly effected by the oil gusher.

The nurse in the famous WWII picture dies at 91:

A nurse who was photographed being kissed in Times Square in New York to celebrate the end of the second world war in 1945 has died, aged 91.

The iconic VJ Day picture of Edith Shain by Alfred Eisenstaedt was published in Life magazine.

The identity of the nurse in the photograph was not known until the late 1970s when Shain wrote to Eisenstaedt to say that she was the woman in the picture. It was taken on 14 August 1945 when she had been working at Doctor’s Hospital in New York.

After a judge recently reinstated deepwater drilling, Obama is seeking a new ban:

The White House was set on Wednesday to step up its legal battle to keep deepwater drilling on hold in the Gulf of Mexico following the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

A U.S. judge on Tuesday overturned a six-month ban on drilling in water deeper than 500 feet (152 metres) after an appeal by drillers who stand to lose business.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he would seek to replace the ban with a new order clarifying why it was necessary. The moratorium was imposed after a well operated by British oil company BP ruptured on April 20 and began spewing millions of gallons of crude into the sea.

“We see clear evidence every day, as oil spills from BP’s well, of the need for a pause on deepwater drilling,” Salazar said in a statement.

Late word is the cap is fallen over, so getting the ban back in place should not be hard. We’ll update on the cap failure as we learn more.

Eliot Spitzer has been hired by CNN to host a new show:

CNN, the 24-hour cable news network owned by Time Warner Inc., said former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer and journalist Kathleen Parker will host a nightly roundtable TV show.

The new show will start in the fall and air weeknights at 8 p.m., Jon Klein, the president of CNN U.S., said today in an e- mailed statement.

CNN is revamping its prime-time lineup to reverse ratings that have fallen after the 2008 U.S. presidential election amid increasing competition with NBC Universal’s MSNBC and News Corp.’s Fox News. Parker, who describes herself as a “rational conservative,” and Spitzer, a Democrat whose call-girl scandal forced him to resign as governor in 2008, will exchange opinions and analysis with guests and contributors, CNN said.

Desperate times I supposed. Of course despite Eliot’s transgressions, I always wonder if he hadn’t been going after Goldman Sachs like he was, would he have been exposed in his sex scandal. Who knows.

Back to the McChrystal issue, the WP has some background:

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s belittling critique of some of the Obama administration’s top officials has left the president with a stark choice: overlook comments that border on insubordination, or fire his top commander at a critical moment in Afghanistan.

Even as thousands of U.S. troops were moving into Kandahar province for what is expected to be a crucial phase in one of the longest U.S. wars, McChrystal appeared dangerously close to losing his command because of the incendiary remarks he and members of his inner circle had made in an article in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

While a U.S. official said that McChrystal had already made an informal resignation offer to senior military officials before flying to Washington Tuesday, President Obama made it clear that it is up to him to decide the general’s fate.

McChrystal met with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at the Pentagon early Wednesday morning before arriving at the White House for a private session with Obama that began about 9:45 a.m.

“I want to make sure I talk to him before I make any final decision,” Obama, whom aides described as furious over the article, told reporters Tuesday.

Obama met with McChrystal earlier today. But seems to be taking quite a while to make the decision and to announce it.

That’s only a few items, but we’re all sort of waiting for the shoe to drop. I’ll do an update here as soon as it hits the fan. Stay tuned. Chime in with updates and other news.

Update: Breaking News

Obama has accepted McChrystal’s resignation. Here’s the story from USA Today and here it is from AP.

First from USA Today:

President Obama has relieved Gen. Stanley McChrystal of his command in Afghanistan, administration officials said.

Obama is scheduled to make the dismissal official at 1:30 p.m.

The news comes just a few hours after McChrystal suddenly left the White House following a 30-minute meeting with Obama — and less than 90 minutes before a major national security meeting on the Afghanistan war that McChrystal had been scheduled to attend.

When Obama address McChrystal’s status at 1:30 p.m., he will appear by himself.

And then from AP:

A senior administration official tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama has accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and is replacing him with Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command.

McChrystal was pushed out over his blistering remarks about administration officials quoted in a magazine interview.

After an Oval Office meeting with McChrystal in the morning, Obama huddled with his war advisers and planned to announce his decision on the general’s fate to the nation at 1:30 p.m. EDT in the Rose Garden.

The official spoke only on condition of anonymity, because the president’s announcement was not yet public. Petraeus now oversees the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) – A source tells The Associated Press that President Barack Obama will name Gen. David Petraeus to succeed Gen. Stanley McChrystal as top war commander in Afghanistan.

There you have it. Reasonable decision, and really the only decision about McChrystal. Interesting decision to replace him with Petraeus. We’ll have to watch how that plays out.