Good morning everyone! WTV here with some Saturday reads and rantage, but first a recommendation — I know it’s making the rounds, so you may have already seen it, but please be sure to watch the cartoon to the right if you haven’t already. It’s a short by Rebellious Pixels entitled, “Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck in Right Wing Radio Duck.” The entire thing is just shy of eight minutes and may take a few moments to get into at the very beginning, but stick with it. The payoff at the end is worth it, and being able to laugh either before or after you finish this roundup will help today’s headlines go down a little easier.
Now, onto the news. First up, a disturbing polling trend from CNN that we Cassandras saw coming:
By 47 to 45 percent, Americans say Obama is a better president than George W. Bush. But that two point margin is down from a 23 point advantage one year ago.
Nothing like a DINO President and a DINO Congress to rehabilitate the Bush brand.
Right on cue, over at Faux News naturally, the faux cowboy’s swagger is back:
“I have written a book. This will come as a shock to some of the elites. They didn’t think I could read a book, much less write one,” Bush quipped.
LOL. What a charmer. I wasn’t planning on reading his book, but maybe I’ll set aside 10 minutes to flip through the Annals of Deciderism at Borders when it comes out next month after all. I figure that’s all the time W. spent studying Iraq before he took us to war there, so his book deserves the same thorough treatment.
Back to the CNN polling write-up:
“Democrats may want to think twice about bringing up former President George W. Bush’s name while campaigning this year,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
I tend to agree and think that card has been overplayed, and played poorly at that. Obama, Pelosi, and Reid had a lot of ground they could have covered in the early months of O’s presidency if they would have used the backdrop of 8 years of GOP Fail to push through bold FDR-style legislation. The country didn’t vote Democrats in during the 2008 election to hem and haw once they got in while genuflecting at the altar of some manufactured style-over-substance semblance of bipartisanship. They voted Democrats in to give them a chance to fix the mess Bush-Cheney and the GOP had made. If the Democrats had wanted to use their muscle on behalf of genuine Democratic policy ideas, they could have, but, that’s not what the so-called Democratic leadership wanted to do and it’s not what they did.
So to remind people of the Bush years does nothing in the absence of anything in the Obama years to point to that viscerally hits home the point that he changed anything when it comes to substance. Instead, the more the Democrats mention W. now., the more they unwittingly remind Americans of the similarities between W. and his successor. Both W. and O. enjoyed media darling coverage during their first presidential runs and were touted as “good” campaigners after all, and both subsequently fell far short of their promises to “unite the country” with their buzzwards (hope, change, and compassionate conservatism) once it came time to govern.
If the Ds want to keep playing the George W. Bush card while refusing to fill the void when it comes to true blue Democratic leadership and governance themselves, the rest of America may very well catch on to what Cassandras like myself have long since figured out: W. and O. represent two different styles of presidentin’, but the end product of both has been the same corporate governance by, for, and of K-Street.
The excuse handed to the electorate this time around by Obama and his apologists is often some variant on the theme that America is just “ungovernable,” even though, as my blogosphere buddy, paper doll, astutely pointed out the other day:
hello..using the the word ” ungovernable” when speaking of voters in a supposedly democratic society….. and it doesn’t raise eyebrows, is remarkable
I’m just getting started with my roundup, so click to keep reading after the jump.
Another trend from CNN’s polling (same link as above) underscores just how remarkable it truly is that more eyebrows aren’t raised and the conventional wisdom isn’t being re-examined as thoroughly as it needs to be yet:
“But that doesn’t mean that Americans regret their decision to put Obama in the White House in 2008. By a 50 to 42 percent margin, the public says that Obama has done a better job than Sen. John McCain would have done if he had won. And by a 10-point margin, Americans also say that Joe Biden has done a better job than Sarah Palin would have done as vice president,” adds Holland.
I find this interesting, though unsurprising–the idea that McPalin would have been worse is obviously a comforting thought to an electorate that voted for change but actually wound up getting shortchanged instead. Looking at the situation through the lens of who would have made a worse president misses the larger point in my view, though. I’m working on a separate post on this, so stay tuned.
CNN’s polling has a lot of other findings detailed at the link that you can go read, but the other one that I wanted to point out was this:
According to the poll, independents say they would vote for the Republican candidate over the Democrat by a two to one margin.
More evidence of the obvious: Independents are G-O-N-E and not coming back to the DINO side this election cycle.
Here’s a bit of hullabaloo on the horserace in the Senate race in MO, from a rightwing source, so take with the requiste amounts of salt:
The DSCC is moving TV ad money out of Missouri, a sign that the Senate race may be moving beyond Democrats’ grasp.
Four Republican sources who monitor media buying and three Missouri TV stations have confirmed to Hotline On Call that the DSCC has canceled reservations from Oct. 11 to Oct. 25. The DSCC still has reservations in Missouri for the last week before Election Day.
The progressive Swing State Project had this to say on what exactly it is the DSCC is signaling:
As is often the case with these advancing-in-a-different-direction stories, there have been some mixed signals about whether the DSCC is packing up in Missouri. Hotline is observing that this seems to be at least partially the case: they’ve canceled buys from Oct. 11 to Oct. 25, although the buy still seems intact for the last week before the election. They’ve spent $1.8 million in Missouri so far, but probably will be looking to spend that money on defense in West Virginia, or maybe even Washington, which seems to be slowly edging back onto the map.
Here’s a Boston Herald headline — “Dems pour cash into key House contests.” It’s an AP article running elsewhere as “Dems Struggle To Build ‘Firewall’ Against House Losses,” so that pretty much tells the whole story. (The latter is a headline from Huffpo, though I linked to it via a preview from US News & World Report).
This next one is a direct link to Arianna’s place, so don’t click if you’re squeamish about that kind of thing — I know some Hillary supporters still don’t want to give her traffic after her bad behavior during the primaries, so I like to give a heads up.
Sam Stein over at Huffpo reports that “Obama, Biden To Go To Delaware, Aiming To Make O’Donnell Face Of The Tea Party“:
“Elevating O’Donnell as the face of the Tea Party isn’t a bad thing,” said the strategist. “Think about the tightening [in the polls] after she got nominated. The money that started rolling in. She’s Sarah Palin. She causes people to pause and say, ‘Whoa, this is who the Tea Party is. Do we really want to hand them the keys to the kingdom’.”
Ugh, I’m so tired of hearing about O’Donnell personally. Much bigger fish to fry. After what Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi let pass Congress without our knowing about it, I really couldn’t give a flying you-know-what about the vapidity of O’Donnell and all the outrageous fluff she said on Bill Maher in the nineties. Moreover, the Delaware race really doesn’t deserve attention from Obama and Biden. Coons is going to win this race, unless the Democrats screw it up and create a backlash against their O’Donnell Obsession. All this stuff is a distraction. Speaking of which…
Switching gears completely to the global stage for awhile, here’s a headline that didn’t make me want to slit my news junkie wrists for a change — “US given one-month deadline to rescue Mid-East talks,” from the BBC:
Arab League ministers have given the US one month to rescue deadlocked Middle East peace talks.
The ministers, meeting in Libya, endorsed a decision by Palestinian leaders to stay away unless Israel restores a ban on settlement building.
But the ministers said the US had to be given more time to break the impasse.
Time to insert my motto — here’s hoping against Hope™.
And, good luck to our Secretary of State and her parallel administration in their peace efforts. (That is dripping sarcasm directed at the idiots who feared she would run one, for the snark-impaired).
Beijing, China (CNN) — With news media across the globe reacting to this year’s Nobel Peace Prize announcement, authorities in the winner’s homeland are racing to delete his name from all public domains.
Type “Liu Xiaobo” — or “Nobel Peace Prize,” for that matter — in search engines in China and hit return, you get a blaring error page.
CNN goes on to report that “Nobel Peace Prize” was the top trending item on Chinese blogs until the censors disappeared all mention of the award. Stories on Liu from international broadcasters, including CNN, are being blocked as well, and even text messages are being thwarted.
For most ordinary Chinese, the only glimpse of the story came when an anchor read a short statement from the foreign ministry on state TV, blasting the Norwegian Nobel committee’s choice of an imprisoned Chinese dissident for the prize “a blasphemy.”
This piece in the WSJ on the trapped Chilean miners is heartwrenching:
Among them are Victor Zamora and Carlos Barrios Contreras—the first, a family man who has come to be called “The Poet,” the other, a 27-year-old who friends characterize as a quick-tempered ladies’ man. How these two, and the other 31 miners, will be changed by their ordeal is something friends and psychologists are grappling to understand.
In letters and verse passed to family above ground, Mr. Zamora has written of the agonizing days that passed after the mine’s Aug. 5 cave-in, during which the men listened helplessly as probes sent by rescue drills above ground just missed finding them.
“One passed by, and another went halfway,” Mr. Zamora wrote of the errant probes, in missives that gained him his nickname in the Chilean press. “Hear me God, I can’t take it anymore.”
And, with that we’re back to news junkie wrist slitting. Right about now would be a good time to go watch the cartoon at the top, btw, if you haven’t already. It helps to remember that it’s a hysterically funny world out there in spite of all the doom and gloom.
Oh, and hooray, as I was writing this post–news to be cautiously optimistic about trickled out! From the Gray Lady, “Drill Reaches Trapped Miners in Chile, but Risks Remain“:
SAN JOSÉ MINE, Chile — A drill has broken through and reached the 33 miners trapped nearly a half a mile below underground for more than two months, Chilean officials announced Saturday morning amid celebratory bells.
There is a beautiful picture at the NYT link of relatives of the trapped miners rejoicing.
And according to a new report from the liberal blog Think Progress, overseas corporations will underwrite that work through memberships on the Chamber’s “Business Councils” in nations such as Bahrain and India.
Why would foreign interests support the U.S.-based Chamber? Presumably to help big business attack Democrats who have fought the outsourcing of jobs and supported free trade. And wasn’t it the Chamber that suggested U.S. taxpayers should help pay for the BP oil spill?
Worse, voters have no way of knowing who’s writing the checks. A new analysis by People for the American Way demonstrates that many of these groups are operating as 501(c)(4) “social welfare” or 501(c)(6) “trade association” organizations, which don’t have to reveal their donors. The report, “After Citizens United,” documents how these groups fund ads that are not only misleading, but mysterious.
Look, this stuff is as troublesome to me as is anything that has to do with corporations being in bed with government, but I thought it was obvious we were headed this direction and hearing the poutrage over it from Donna B. is a little much. In 2008, the DINOs were happy to have the corporate cash edge and flaunted it, even while the head DINO himself, laughably insisted he wasn’t taking money from special interests. Marketing prevailed, and the mundane reality that corporations were still in control of everything was obscured. And, before anyone tells me that Hillary took Wall Street’s money too–save it. I know she did, but it’s very clear to me who Wall Street trusted to stay bought and paid for and who they didn’t. You don’t throw cash at Hillary and then back Obama for no reason.
Now that the GOP is back in its unfortunate fighting form and enabled by the SCOTUS ruling on the Citizens United case, the Democrats’ progressive allies are naturally focused on the evils of corporate influence as if it were primarily a GOP problem–which in elections past I might have done myself if it were not for the fact that we have a DINO Congress right now led by the duo of extraordinaire DINOs, Pelosi and Reid, who have left no doubt about the Democratic leadership’s true corporate colors. Just look at the unconscionable foreclosure legislation they passed with bipartisan support bought and paid for by K-street, hoping the American people really are as stupid as the Bill Mahers claim they are and they wouldn’t notice.
I am reminded of a quote I have referred to before. Paul Douglas in 1932, as quoted by Thomas Frank in the WSJ last year:
Back in 1932, the future Illinois Sen. Paul Douglas advised progressives not to expect too much from the Democratic Party. It was, he wrote, “maintained by the business interests” as a kind of “lifeboat.” Whenever the GOP ship sprung a leak—whenever Republicans were no longer willing or able to do business’s bidding—the interests simply piled into the other party and made their escape.
That is what happened in 2008, and now the music is playing again and they’re switching chairs. What Think Progress is reporting certainly makes me cringe and shiver when I think of what’s in store, but I can’t say I am one bit surprised. Until we find a way to push back on the big money that has infested every nook and cranny of our politics, we won’t wake up from this nightmare.
Elsewhere in progressive media, WaPo blogger Ezra Klein takes a break from apologizing for Obama to do something useful for a change. Here’s a snippet from his interview with the Cassandra of Derivatives herself, Janet Tavakoli, about her take on the recent developments in the housing crisis:
Ezra Klein: What’s happening here? Why are we suddenly faced with a crisis that wasn’t apparent two weeks ago?
Janet Tavakoli: This is the biggest fraud in the history of the capital markets. And it’s not something that happened last week. It happened when these loans were originated, in some cases years ago. Loans have representations and warranties that have to be met. In the past, you had a certain period of time, 60 to 90 days, where you sort through these loans and, if they’re bad, you kick them back. If the documentation wasn’t correct, you’d kick it back. If you found the incomes of the buyers had been overstated, or the houses had been appraised at twice their worth, you’d kick it back. But that didn’t happen here. And it turned out there were loan files that were missing required documentation. Part of putting the deal together is that the securitization professional, and in this case that’s banks like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, has to watch for this stuff. It’s called perfecting the security interest, and it’s not optional.
Two more excerpts from Tavakoli’s responses:
TARP was just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve given them guarantees on debts, low-cost funding from the Fed. But a lot of these mortgages just cannot be saved. Had we acknowledged this problem in 2005, we could’ve cleaned it up for a few hundred billion dollars. But we didn’t. Banks were lying and committing fraud, and our regulators were covering them and so a bad problem has become a hellacious one.
The financial crisis was a product of our irrational reaction, which protected crony capitalism rather than capitalism. In capitalism, the shareholders who took the risk would be wiped out and the debt holders would take a discount but banking would go on.
David Dayen also has an informative read up at FDL called “Foreclosure Fraud Destroys Claim of TARP Success.” It has good links in there, including to the Ezra interview with Tavakoli and to Mike Konczal’s “Foreclosure Fraud for Dummies.”
The Financial Times has this blurb on Larry Summers calling for infrastructure spending:
Speaking at the Financial Times’s View from the Top conference in New York, Mr Summers called it a “short-term imperative and a long-term macroeconomic imperative” that the US government increase infrastructure investment. He said that a combination of low borrowing costs, cheap building costs and high levels of unemployment in the construction sector made this the ideal time to rebuild roads, bridges and airports.
Speaking of Summers, I stumbled upon the following article from a few days ago in a comment section at FDL (on another post from Dayen called “Krugman Assails Christie for Rail Tunnel Cancellation”). The article is called “Larry Summers and the Subversion of Economics” by disillusioned Obama supporter and filmmaker Charles Ferguson, from The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Summers is unique but not alone. By now we are all familiar with the role of lobbying and campaign contributions, and with the revolving door between industry and government. What few Americans realize is that the revolving door is now a three-way intersection. Summers’s career is the result of an extraordinary and underappreciated scandal in American society: the convergence of academic economics, Wall Street, and political power.
That’s just a little teaser. Be sure to check it out.
Some quick links. “FDIC May Seek More Than $1 Billion From Failed-Bank Executives,” from Bloomberg. And, from CNBC –“BofA, PNC Announce More Halts in Home Foreclosures.”
Shifting to the embarrassing “debate” we’re still having in America over whether we want to live up to the ideal of religious pluralism upon which our country was founded, a few interesting findings from Public Policy Polling on NY polling and Park 51. Even though it still shows that most voters oppose building Park 51, the poll also finds that…
59% of voters think the developer has the right to build it to only 30% who disagree on that front.
That’s the good news. Here’s the pathetic news:
Just 4% of Republican voters support building the Ground Zero mosque. But 21% say they would support a Ground Zero strip club!
Democrats narrowly support the mosque but oppose the strip club, independents oppose both the mosque and the strip club.
As usual, I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m not a fan of strip clubs or organized religion, but build whatever you can get the permits for two blocks from Ground Zero–it’s supposed to be a free country.
And, on that note, your history trivia for today. Besides Che Guevara’s execution in 1967, here are some things that have happened on October 9th.
The first two are from infoplease.com’s “This Day in History” listing for October 9th and go way back into our country’s history:
Religious dissident and Rhode Island founder, Roger Williams, was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
For the first time the public was admitted to the Washington Monument.
Second link is from Anne Marie’s chemistry blog at about.com:
October 9th is Max Von Laue’s birthday. He was the German physicist who discovered x-ray diffraction in crystals and earn himself the 1914 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Next is one of many from the Jamaican Observer’s “This Day in History — October 9th” entry:
2001: Americans Eric A Cornell, Carl E Wieman Wolfgang Ketterle win the Nobel Prize in physics for creating a new state of matter: an ultra-cold gas that could aid in developing smaller and faster electronics.
And, last but not least, from pbs.org:
1930 October — Laura Ingalls, flying in a Moth biplane, becomes the first woman to make a solo transcontinental flight. Ingalls took off from Roosevelt Field, New York, on October 5, made nine stops along the way, and landed in Glendale, California, on October 9. Her east-to-west flight took 30 hours and 27 minutes.
I hope you have a lovely Saturday! As always, please feel free to share what you’re reading and what’s on your mind this morning in the comments.
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