• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Catscatscats on Chernobylesque
    William on Chernobylesque
    William on Chernobylesque
    William on Chernobylesque
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Chernobylesque
    Niles on Chernobylesque
    Propertius on Chernobylesque
    HerstoryRepeating on Chernobylesque
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Chernobylesque
    William on Chernobylesque
    Sweet Sue on Chernobylesque
    HerstoryRepeating on Chernobylesque
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Chernobylesque
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Chernobylesque
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Chernobylesque
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    September 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Aug    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    2930  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • How Important Is The Drone Attack On The Saudi Oil Field?
      As you’d expect from the title, both more and less than it seems. The impact on oil prices is not that big a deal, despite the screaming. If they were to, say, wind up at $75/barrel for a few months, well the last time we had prices that high was… less than a year ago. […]
  • Top Posts

  • Advertisements

Saturday Morning News and Views: Populist Uprising Edition

Good Morning Conflucians!!!

President Obama was in Ohio yesterday trying to impersonate a populist.

“I won’t stop fighting for you,” he thundered in a campaign-style speech in economically sagging northeastern Ohio, remarks that provided a likely preview of the themes in his first State of the Union speech next Wednesday.

Trying to shore up public support, Obama urged people to “stand by me, even during these tough times.”

Like you stood by us Mr. President? When did you fight for us anyway?

Obama acknowledged that the healthcare overhaul — suddenly in limbo on Capitol Hill — had run into a political “buzz saw.” He dismissed concerns that his lengthy focus on healthcare meant he had taken his eye off the economy, the country’s No. 1 problem.

“Let me dispel this notion that we were somehow focused on that (healthcare) and so as a consequence not focused on the economy. First of all, all I think about is how are we going to create jobs in this area,” Obama said in Elyria, Ohio.

The president’s switch to a more populist tone followed his own admission in an ABC News interview earlier this week that he had lost a direct connection with everyday Americans.

I’m not so sure he ever had a connection with “everyday Americans”–those gun-toting bitter knitters? And those uppity women who don’t know their place? No, I don’t think so.

If Mr. Obama wants to make a “direct connection” with “everyday Americans,” he is going to have to give them more than “just words.” He is going to have to pretty much do a complete about face and become as “transformational” as he pretended to be when he was campaigning. He is going to have to stop impersonating Herbert Hoover and start impersonating Franklin Roosevelt. I’m really not sure if he is capable of that, but if he manages to do it, I’ll be the first to cheer him on.

From the Toledo Blade:

A defiant President Obama assured Ohioans yesterday that he will continue to fight for health care, banking, and energy reform despite recent political setbacks that some argue have endangered his agenda.

He made the promises at Lorain County Community College even as Ohio announced its unemployment rate had hit 10.9 percent in December, up from 10.6 percent the month before. The national jobless rate is 10 percent.

“I did not run for President to turn away from these challenges,” he told a town-hall meeting of about 1,300 people.

“I didn’t run for President to kick them down the road. I ran for President to confront them once and for all. I ran for this office to rebuild our economy so it works not just for the fortunate few, but for everybody who’s willing to work hard in this country,” he said.

Uh huh. Talk is cheap, Mr. President. Now lets see some action. Continue reading

Advertisements

Monday Midday: Zombietime News and Views

This is how I feel this morning

Hello Conflucians!! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’ve been sitting here staring off into space like a zombie since I woke up at 7AM Eastern time. The only time I’ve gotten up was to make a cup of tea and go to the bathroom. I guess it’s the end-of-the-semester syndrome–nearly compete emotional, physical, and spiritual burnout.

Here are a few interesting stories for you to discuss when you finish reacting to myiq’s post–maybe seeing that headline about Obama’s grade for his first year that bumped me into zombieland. B+?! What is that guy on? We’re in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, real unemployment is around 20%, the banksters are being bolstered by Obama’s free hand with the U.S. Treasury, health care reform is dead for at least another decade, and Congress is pushing for cuts in Social Security and Medicare. In my gradebook, that would be grounds for an F.

Anyway…where was I? Oh yeah. Headlines…..


Developing nations walked out of the Copenhagen climate talks this morning:

A little more here

THE Copenhagen climate summit is in chaos after poor countries walked out of negotiations en masse today.

The G77, a group which represents 130 developing countries, walked out because it is concerned the existing Kyoto protocol will be abandoned.

Australia’s Climate Change Minister Penny Wong confirmed that organisers were trying to fix the problem and coax back the developing world.

Many countries at the UN climate summit want a brand new treaty to tackle climate change, but the developing world wants the Kyoto protocol to continue as well.

The protocol forces rich countries to reduce or limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

Senator Wong said the walkout was “most unfortunate”.

“It is regrettable that we appear to have reached a gridlock on process,” she said.

I was getting excited, but the developing nations have already walked back in:

Developing nations return to Copenhagen climate talks

Talks at the UN climate summit resumed on Monday afternoon after protests from developing nations forced a suspension.

But talks have been limited to informal consultations on procedural issues, notably developing countries’ demands for more time on the Kyoto Protocol.

The G77-China bloc, speaking for developing countries, said the Danish hosts had violated democratic process.

Some delegates talked forlornly of the vast amount of negotiating left to be done before the summit concludes.

The countries that suspended co-operation were those which make up the G77-China bloc of 130 nations. These range from wealthy countries such as South Korea, to some of the poorest states in the world.

Italy’s Berlusconi to stay in hospital after attack (with video)

Italian Prime Minister is in the hospital after having a statue thrown at his face.

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi will stay in hospital at least until Tuesday after having his nose broken by an attacker, doctors say.

A medical bulletin reported in the Italian media said Mr Berlusconi was able to eat, but only with difficulty.

Mr Berlusconi, 73, suffered a broken nose, two broken teeth and a cut lip after being hit with a model of Milan cathedral after a rally in the city.

A 42-year-old man was arrested and has been charged with aggravated assault.

The suspect, Massimo Tartaglia, was said by police to have had a history of mental illness, receiving treatment over a 10-year period.

Excuse me, I started laughing inappropriately and had to take a short break. {wiping tears away}


The Horrible Health Care Destruction Nightmare Continues unabated. Will it ever end?

Health Care Progress Report: December 14

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) — one of the Democratic caucus members the plan was intended to appease — dropped a bombshell Sunday on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” when he said he would not vote for a bill that expands Medicare.

“From what I hear, I certainly would have a hard time voting for it because it has some of the same infirmities that the public option did,” he said about the Medicare buy-in.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), another conservative who may or may not vote for the health care bill, said on “Face the Nation” that the Medicare buy-in is “the forerunner of single-payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option.”

WTF are Lieberman and Nelson doing in the Democratic party anyway?


Is Reid Cursed by the Lucky Number 60?

Sixty is the number of senators in the Democratic caucus, and the precise number needed to overcome Republican filibusters. It is the magic number of votes that Mr. Reid needs to pull together to advance major health care legislation.

In many ways, 60 is also a mirage – falsely raising Democratic hopes, particularly those of more liberal senators, that they have the muscle to push the health care bill without making painful concessions to centrists in both parties.

To be sure, controlling 60 votes has generally been advantageous to the Democrats. They have repeatedly cleared procedural obstacles that Republicans set in their path, even on routine bills that ultimately are approved by overwhelming majorities.

But on the health care bill, in particular, the notion of nominally controlling 60 votes has emboldened many Democrats, especially liberals, to make demands that they might otherwise have regarded as unreasonable if their party held even one less seat.

WTF?!! Wanting Americans to have reasonably priced health care like the civilized countries do is “unreasonable?” Maybe it’s reading assinine stories like this every day that is making me feel like a zombie.

ProPublica.org is running a series of stories on police misconduct after Hurricate Katrina–highly recommended.

<a href=”After Katrina, police shot first and asked few questions.“>After Katrina, NO police shot first and asked few questions

Matt McDonald left his native Connecticut and headed to New Orleans in the summer of 2005, shortly before Hurricane Katrina struck and floodwaters engulfed the city. McDonald was a troubled soul, a heavy drinker who had lived on the streets, but he kept in touch with his family, calling from time to time.

After the storm, his brother John, an auto-body technician who lives in Norwich, Conn., began working the phones, reaching out to anyone in Louisiana he thought might know something. “I heard so many different things,” John McDonald recalled.

John McDonald’s wife, Kerry, spent the next month making one phone call after another. “It was such a big runaround,” said Kerry McDonald, who recalled speaking to FEMA officials, American Red Cross staffers, New Orleans police officers and numerous others. “One person would say he was shot to death; the next would say he was found floating.”

Eventually, despite the conflicting stories, one thing became clear: Matt was dead at 41. His body was identified by several distinctive tattoos, including the name of his daughter, Crystal, and a pair of black bat wings.

His girlfriend, Martha Dziadul, paid to cremate the body.

Four years later, a reporter looking at the conduct of the Police Department in the aftermath of the hurricane called Dziadul to ask whether she had ever seen the official report on McDonald’s death. The document said a police officer armed with an AR-15 assault rifle had shot him to death on Sept. 3, 2005.

She was staggered. “They never, ever told me the police shot him. They told me it was a homicide,” she said. “They said: We don’t even know what day it happened because we weren’t there.”

Shot or Not, Dead or Alive? Two Men’s Fate Lost in Chaos

A motionless body lay on the pavement. Perhaps 20 riled-up police officers milled around. On the shoulder of the road, an RTA bus was parked at a crazy angle, like a dislocated elbow. Nearby was a long white limousine, crashed into a pole.

What had we stumbled upon?

Then there were guns aimed at us, and my face was pushed against a wall. I heard lots of shouting and cursing.

It was three days after the levees broke: Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005 — in my limited view, the day things completely fell apart in New Orleans.

The desperation was mounting. The cavalry wasn’t coming, it seemed. We were in it alone.

The heat was brutal, punishing. Supplies were minimal, and shrinking.

Can any country that permits this kind of abuse and neglect of its people survive? I honestly don’t think so.

There are a couple of terrific opinion pieces at Truthdig today:

Scott Ritter on Afghanistan: Our Murderers in the Sky

The true test of a society and its leaders is the extent to which every effort is made to both properly define a problem as one worthy of military intervention and then exhaust every option other than the use of force. It is true that President Barack Obama inherited the war in Afghanistan from his predecessor and therefore cannot be held accountable for that which transpired beyond his ability to influence. But the president’s recent decision to “surge” 30,000 additional U.S. military troops into Afghanistan transfers ownership of the Afghan conflict to him and him alone. It is in this light that his decision must be ultimately judged.

In many ways, Obama’s presentation before the Long Gray Line at West Point, in which he explained his decision to conduct the Afghanistan surge, represented an insult to the collective intelligence of the American people. The most egregious contradiction in his speech was the notion that the people of Afghanistan, who, throughout their history, have resisted central authority whether emanating from Kabul or imposed by outside invaders, would somehow be compelled to embrace this new American plan.

Chris Hedges: Gravel’s Lament: Fighting Another Dumb War

I have spent enough time inside the American military to have tasted its dark brutality, frequent incompetence and profligate ability to waste human lives and taxpayer dollars. The deviousness and stupidity of generals, the absurdity of most war plans and the pathological addiction to violence—which is the only language most who command our armed forces are able to understand—make the American military the gravest threat to our anemic democracy, especially as we head toward economic collapse.

Barack Obama, who is as mesmerized by the red, white and blue bunting draped around our vast killing machine as the press, the two main political parties and our entertainment industry, will not halt our doomed imperial projects or renege on the $1 trillion in defense-related spending that is hollowing out the country from the inside. A plague of unchecked militarism has seeped outward from the Pentagon since the end of World War II and is now sucking our marrow dry. It is a familiar disease in imperial empires. We are in the terminal stage. We spend more on our military—half of all discretionary spending—than all of the other countries on Earth combined, although we face no explicit threat.

Mike Gravel, the former two-term senator from Alaska and 2008 presidential candidate, sat Saturday on a park bench in Lafayette Park facing the White House. Gravel and I were in the park, along with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and other anti-war activists, to denounce the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at a sparsely attended rally. Few voices in American politics have been as consistent, as reasoned and as moral as his, which is why Gravel, on a chilly December morning, is in front of the White House, not inside it.

Hedges is one powerful writer!

Please add more links in the comments. I’m sure I missed something big….

HAVE A MARVELOUS MONDAY!!!!!!!!!

digg!!! tweet!!! share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Economics Food Fight

Matt Taibbi

Finally we have something fun to talk about. This could save us from wallowing in the horrors of Obama’s health insurance company bailout bill all weekend long. Matt Taibbi’s latest piece came out in Rolling Stone weeks ago, but was only available to subscribers until recently. Suddenly there is a fascinating back and forth going on between Taibbi and Obama apologist Tim Fernholtz at American Prospect. Fernholz nitpicked Taibbi’s article in a much-discussed critique. Then Felix Salmon stepped in to add his two cents to war of words. Then, Taibbi put his own response to Fernholz up on his blog. And finally, the latest: Fernholz has a new response to Taibbi’s response and he includes a couple of digs at Salmon too!

Here are links to all the relevant articles with some highlights:

Taibbi’s original RS story: Obama’s Big Sellout

Taibbi’s main argument is that Bob Rubin and people closely connected with him are running Obama’s economic policy–ensuring that deregulation and free-trade will continue to be the order of the day, rather than efforts to control an out-of-control Wall Street.

It is bad enough that one of Bob Rubin’s former protégés from the Clinton years, the New York Fed chief Geithner, is intimately involved in the negotiations, which unsurprisingly leave the Federal Reserve massively exposed to future Citi losses. But the real stunner comes only hours after the bailout deal is struck, when the Obama transition team makes a cheerful announcement: Timothy Geithner is going to be Barack Obama’s Treasury secretary!

Geithner, in other words, is hired to head the U.S. Treasury by an executive from Citigroup — Michael Froman — before the ink is even dry on a massive government giveaway to Citigroup that Geithner himself was instrumental in delivering. In the annals of brazen political swindles, this one has to go in the all-time Fuck-the-Optics Hall of Fame.

Wall Street loved the Citi bailout and the Geithner nomination so much that the Dow immediately posted its biggest two-day jump since 1987, rising 11.8 percent. Citi shares jumped 58 percent in a single day, and JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley soared more than 20 percent, as Wall Street embraced the news that the government’s bailout generosity would not die with George W. Bush and Hank Paulson.

Fernholz’s critique: The Errors of Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi has done it again — written a nightmare of a story for Rolling Stone on Obama’s economic sell-out of his campaign. The piece is a factual mess, a conspiracy theorist’s dream, doesn’t even indict Obama for his real failures (which I’ll discuss in a post later today) and of course invokes the cold hands of Bob Rubin like a bogeyman at every turn. This is pernicious for a lot of journalistic reasons, but politically it’s bad for progressives beacuse conspiracy theories stand in the way of good policy analysis and good activism, replacing them with apathy and fear.

Salmon’s critique of Fernholtz’s critique: Fernholtz vs. Taibbi

Tim Fernholz’s intemperate attack on Matt Taibbi and his latest article is getting a lot of attention in the Twittersphere. It turns out that a lot of journalists don’t like Taibbi, and love it when he gets taken down a peg.

But Fernholz’s attack is weaker than it looks at first glance; a lot of it is simply a matter of slant and opinion.

Taibbi’s response to Fernholz: On Obama’s Big Sellout

So I fucked up with that line — “a former Clinton diplomat” — and for that I certainly am sorry, among other things because Rolling Stone’s fact-checkers are the most rigorous in the business (much more so than any other newspaper or magazine I’ve worked for) and I think actually this was my error and not theirs, a late-stage mixup near press time.

Now, that said, it was indeed Bob Rubin’s son Jamie who worked with Michael Froman in the Obama transition team. Had it not been Bob Rubin’s son, that would certainly have qualified as a serious error, because then we’d be making an argument based upon a factual error.

But the basic argument of the article was that an enormous number of people with ties to Bob Rubin and/or other Wall Street insiders had assumed positions of responsibility in the Obama transition and White House. And Jamie Rubin is Bob Rubin’s son, and he was a headhunter for Obama’s economic hires from the first days of the transition. So the meaning here is really not significantly different. The fact that this heads the Prospect’s list of complaints says a lot about the substance of this criticism.

Fernholz’s response to Taibbi’s response and Salmon’s critique of his critique of Taibbi: Lighting Round

So yesterday’s post on Matt Taibbi’s latest in Rolling Stone got a bit more attention than I had anticipated, including a response from Felix Salmon that I thought was worth addressing. Salmon defends Taibbi — I’d accuse him of some logrolling in our time thanks to his appearance in the piece, but Salmon is better than that — but it’s not a very strong defense….

Here’s my point: Taibbi has written an article arguing that Obama has sold out his campaign-era economic populism by surrounding himself with Bob Rubin’s lackeys and giving away the farm to the bankers — “one of the most dramatic political about-faces in our history.” Only it turns out, though, that many of the Rubinites he identifies don’t work on the things he says they work on, or don’t take the positions he applies to them, or aren’t as influential as he thinks they are. The people he says were “banished” from Obama’s inner circle, like Austan Goolsbee, weren’t. He manages not to mention any of the populist decisions Obama has made.

And Andrew Leonard at Salon is threatening to get involved–he sounds like another Obama apologist.

Is it my imagination, or does the attribution “spent 12 years as an executive at Goldman Sachs” now carry with it the stain of the scarlet letter? Nothing more need be said.

I will return to this theme later today when I tackle Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone assault on President Barack Obama but let’s note here for the record that this is yet another case of the White House proposing a sensible piece of regulatory reform — anything that quacks like a financial services banking duck should be regulated like a financial services banking duck — that has been watered down by Congress.

Back and forth–who will be heard from next and will they come to blows?


UPDATE I:

Here is the promised attack on Taibbi by Andrew Leonard: Matt Taibbi goes Obama scalp hunting

And, another voice pipes up from the peanut gallery, Big Media Matt, king of the apologists, Blame Obama First h/t MABlue


UPDATE II:

Salmon returns Leonard’s serve: Don’t Ask Taibbi to be Krugman

But where does Salmon get the idea that we have a “left-leaning government now?” What is he smoking?

digg!!! tweet!!! share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

High Noon for Goldman Sachs

A couple of days ago, Alice Schroeder wrote a piece at Bloomberg about a friend of a friend who works at Goldman Sachs. Apparently the bankers are getting a little nervous about blowback from the working class.

“I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

Schroeder was also able to get confirmation from the NYPD that a number of bankers have been getting gun permits. Wow, I’m glad to know the Goldman Sachs guys are running scared. Schroeder notes that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankenfein (whom she nicknames “Cool Hand Lloyd”), has been nervous for quite a long time. Get this–he installed a security gate at his house a couple of months before Bear Stearns went down. How very prescient of him. Schroeder writes:

…talk of Goldman and guns plays right into the way Wall-Streeters like to think of themselves. Even those who were bailed out believe they are tough, macho Clint Eastwoods of the financial frontier, protecting the fistful of dollars in one hand with the Glock in the other. The last thing they want is to be so reasonably paid that the peasants have no interest in lynching them.

Hmm…I like the movie references. So the bankers are resorting to guns so they can make A Few Dollars More before the proles can Hang ’em High?

According to Peter Cohan of Daily Finance, what is making the bankers so anxious is that they will soon be getting their outlandish end-of-the-year bonuses, while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet and have no idea how we’re going to buy any Christmas gifts. Cohan writes:

Once news of the final tally on Goldman’s bonuses breaks, the bank is going to face an even tougher public relations campaign. Goldman’s partners are expected to receive record bonuses this year. Some bankers fear a repeat of what happened in March to the AIG Financial Products employees who received $165 million in bonuses. Once word got out about the bonuses, demonstrators went to the employees’ homes and protested on their front yards.

What Goldman execs need to remember is that the firm wouldn’t be doing so well if it weren’t for the public’s munificence. After all, $12.9 billion of the AIG bailout money went to Goldman. And it is still enjoying $52 billion in low-interest loans from the U.S. government to finance its trading profits.

Cohan even argues that Goldman should be offering reparations to people who have lost their homes and jobs. Somehow I don’t think that is going to happen, but I’m glad to learn that these thugs in three-piece suits are feeling a little bit edgy.

digg!!! tweet!!! share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Oprah introduces America to civilized (socialist) Denmark

I stole this video from Lenore Skenazy at Freerangekids.  HER focus was on the fact that two month old twins were allowed to nap in the sunshine. Outside.  Unattended.  And no one called the cops on the parents for child endangerment or neglect.  It turns out the entire country is *full* of parents who leave their adorable blonde babies on the street in their prams for some crazy nut job to snatch away.  And I guess that there are so many of them hanging around that there’s not much temptation anymore.  Most kids do not get stolen.

But I digress.

The real story is that these incredibly beautiful, simplicity loving, high tax paying, Ikea addicts are the happiest people in the world.  They say they are Democrats but Oprah says they’re socialists.  Au Contraire, says the swimsuit model (presumably with a PhD in architecture).  They are merely civilized.  It is civilized to take care of the poor and the old.  It is civilized to spend time with your family and friends.  It is civilized to have fewer things so that you can have more freedom.  What a concept!

Too bad Oprah didn’t do this last year instead of helping to force that Republican lite, corporate loving, uber shmoozer on us for president. I guess it’s possible for even Oprah to get rolled every now and then.

Is she trying to atone or is she trying to get us accustomed to wanting a lot less, now that her White House friend has bungled the recovery?  Who knows?  I wouldn’t mind living a Danish life and I suspect there are a lot of Americans who when faced with another $4000/month mortgage payment on the McMansion while they wait on pins and needles to see if they still have a job, would find a small flat and a resilient social safety net in Copenhagen just charming.  I just hope it isn’t too late for America to get the message.

digg!!! tweet!!! share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Saturday Morning at The Confluence

Good morning everyone! What are you reading this morning? I recently started the new book by John Perkins, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded–and What We Need to Do to Remake Them.

In the news, I’m half-heartedly following the health care bill’s progress and wondering what is going to happen with the Fort Hood story. Even though there seems to be a lot happening, I get the feeling that absolutely no progress is being made on anything whatsoever. Is it just me?


SENATE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL

I know I should be all worked up about the health care bill, but I’m not. The Senate will have a vote tonight at 8PM to see if debate on the bill can go forward, but who cares? The bill doesn’t seem worth all the months of arguing and haranguing. The politicians haven’t listened to the people’s concerns at all, as far as I can tell. It has all been just a big kabuki dance leading up to the next corporate bailout.

The New York Times has an editorial on the situation, but it’s hard to tell if they are endorsing the bill or not:

The Senate bill is weaker in many respects than the trillion-dollar bill passed by the House, which would cover more of the uninsured and provide greater subsidies. It would postpone many reforms until 2014, a year later than the House bill, delaying benefits for millions of Americans. It also lacks an explicit mandate on employers to offer coverage. The House bill does a better job of closing the gap in Medicare that leaves many elderly beneficiaries struggling to pay for medicines.

Conservative Democratic senators whose votes will be needed to break a Republican filibuster are restive over the costs of the overall plan and over including a public option, even with an opportunity for states to opt out. Some may also object to provisions that would allow enrollees to buy plans that cover abortions on the exchanges using their own money, a more reasonable standard than the virtual ban on abortion coverage under the House bill. Despite these concerns, conservative Democrats owe it to the nation to help break a Republican filibuster and allow debate to proceed.

Whatever….

More health care reform links:

Reuters: Healthcare bill faces first U.S. Senate test

Bloomberg: Reid, Democrats Face First Big Senate Test on Health-Care Bill

CNN International: What to expect in Senate’s Saturday health care vote

Politics Daily: Pollster Celinda Lake: Where Women Really Stand on Health Care

Washington Post: Health Bill Opponents Turn Up the Volume


FORT HOOD SHOOTINGS

News 8 Austin: Hasan to have first court hearing Saturday

Wall Street Journal: Army Taps General to Probe Shootings

AFP: Fort Hood Shooter Talked with Radical Cleric

Boston Globe Editorial: Questions swirl in Fort Hood

CRUCIAL QUESTIONS need to be answered about the motives and contacts of Colonel Nidal Hasan, the suspect charged in the mass murder at Fort Hood, Texas. Was the army psychiatrist radicalized by a Yemeni-American imam who had known two of the 9/11 hijackers and who called the Fort Hood massacre a “heroic act’’? Could the killings have been prevented if the FBI had notified the army about an exchange of e-mails the bureau was monitoring between Hasan and the radical imam?

These are questions that may not be the focus of prosecutors but are rightfully the concern of congressional committees with oversight responsibilities. Irritating as Senator Joe Lieberman’s grandstanding on other matters might be, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was doing what needs to be done when he opened hearings Thursday to determine if federal agencies “missed signals or failed to connect the dots in a way that enabled Hasan to carry out his deadly plan.’’

LA Times: Senate inquiry into Ft. Hood misplaced

Sen. Joe Lieberman insists on pushing ahead with a Senate inquiry into the mass murder at Ft. Hood, despite White House and Pentagon anxieties that the probe could compromise the prosecution of alleged killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

It’s always interesting to see how many friends due process has in times of extreme stress. Given what looks like the security authorities’ wretched mishandling of the Hasan case — the guy appears to have done everything but paste an “Osama bin Laden Rocks” bumper sticker on his car — there’s every reason for the administration and the FBI to want to put off a legislative reckoning for as long as possible. “We want to guarantee everyone a fair trial” is always good cover. But in this case, it has the additional virtue of being true.

Lieberman isn’t the only Senator calling the Fort Hood attack “terrorism.” Now Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan is saying it too:

The Hill: Sen. Levin: Fort Hood shooting rampage was likely a terrorist attack

“It probably could be labeled as a terrorist attack. I am not uncomfortable with thinking that’s the likely outcome here or the likely accurate description,” Levin added.

[….]

Levin said his panel has to receive a number of closed-door briefings from the military and other involved agencies before it holds a public hearing. Levin did not offer a timeline as to when the hearings will occur but said he is committed to holding them.

He also stressed that Congress has an important oversight role to play in regard to the shooting and identifying deficiencies within military processes and policies.

This could get ugly.


THE ECONOMY

NYT: New Consensus Sees Stimulus Package as Worthy Step

WSJ: Goldman Holders Miffed at Bonuses

WSJ: House Attacks Fed, Treasury

Obama Says Asia Trip Focused on Economy and Creating U.S. Jobs


ODDS AND ENDS

Man arrested at LAX with fifteen live lizards strapped to chest

In an apparently cold-blooded attempt at smuggling, a Lomita man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport this week with more than a dozen wriggling lizards strapped to his chest.

Michael Plank, 40, was detained by U.S. Customs agents after they discovered 15 live lizards stuffed into his money belt, officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said Friday.

Ancient Crocs Ate Dinosaurs

Thursday, University of Chicago dinosaur hunter Paul Sereno writes about five skeletons of ancient crocodiles that lived 100 million years ago.

“We have crocs that ate plants and galloped and ate dinosaurs and were flat as a board,” said Sereno, who unearthed the skeletons over the last several years in the Sahara.


Tips for the Admissions Test … to Kindergarten

Test preparation has long been a big business catering to students taking SATs and admissions exams for law, medical and other graduate schools. But the new clientele is quite a bit younger: 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents hope that a little assistance — costing upward of $1,000 for several sessions — will help them win coveted spots in the city’s gifted and talented public kindergarten classes.

Motivated by a recession putting private schools out of reach and concern about the state of regular public education, parents — some wealthy, some not — are signing up at companies like Bright Kids NYC. Bright Kids, which opened this spring in the financial district, has some 200 students receiving tutoring, most of them for the gifted exams, for up to $145 a session and 80 children on a waiting list for a weekend “boot camp” program.

Quick restart of Big Bang machine stuns scientists

The nuclear physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider were surprised that they could so quickly get beams of protons whizzing near the speed of light during the restart late Friday, said James Gillies, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
The machine was heavily damaged by a simple electrical fault in September last year.
Some scientists had gone home early Friday and had to be called back as the project jumped ahead, Gillies said.

HAVE A STUPENDOUS SATURDAY, EVERYONE!!!!


digg!!! tweet!!! share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Friday Morning News and Views: Friday the 13th Edition

2007-04-16

Looming Nor'easter in New England

Good Morning Conflucians! It’s a gloomy Friday the 13th here in the Boston area. I guess we’ll be getting hit with the tail end of Hurricane Ida over the next couple of days. I’m feeling a bit lethargic this morning, but I’ll try to locate a few interesting news links nonetheless. Please add your own in the comments!

Did you know this is the third Friday the 13th in 2009? Maybe that’s why this year has been such a disaster. Anyway, its supposed to make today “extra freaky.”


THERE IS HOPE FOR THEM YET

Paul Krugman is finally back to criticizing administration policy–without mentioning the President. But it’s a step in the right direction. Will Krugman be summoned to the White House for another Koolaid injection? He explains why Germany isn’t suffering from massive unemployment as the U.S. is.

Here in America, the philosophy behind jobs policy can be summarized as “if you grow it, they will come.” That is, we don’t really have a jobs policy: we have a G.D.P. policy. The theory is that by stimulating overall spending we can make G.D.P. grow faster, and this will induce companies to stop firing and resume hiring.

The alternative would be policies that address the job issue more directly. We could, for example, have New-Deal-style employment programs. Perhaps such a thing is politically impossible now — Glenn Beck would describe anything like the Works Progress Administration as a plan to recruit pro-Obama brownshirts — but we should note, for the record, that at their peak, the W.P.A. and the Civilian Conservation Corps employed millions of Americans, at relatively low cost to the budget.

Alternatively, or in addition, we could have policies that support private-sector employment. Such policies could range from labor rules that discourage firing to financial incentives for companies that either add workers or reduce hours to avoid layoffs.

And that’s what the Germans have done. Germany came into the Great Recession with strong employment protection legislation. This has been supplemented with a “short-time work scheme,” which provides subsidies to employers who reduce workers’ hours rather than laying them off. These measures didn’t prevent a nasty recession, but Germany got through the recession with remarkably few job losses.

I’m really starting to wish I could move to a European country–preferably one with universal, affordable health care like Italy or France. On the other hand, I love the wide open spaces here in the USA and I would prefer to stay here if I could. Sometimes I even fantasize about moving to Western North Dakota near Theodore Roosevelt National Park or maybe way up near Canada where I can live really cheaply and relatively free from government interference. Not that I’d join a militia or anything, lol, just that I’d be less noticeable to the authorities and maybe I could survive the authoritarian crackdown that I think is coming when the economy really collapses.

I have made fun of Chris Bowers and Open left over the past couple of years because of their slavish adoration of Obama, but I am starting to read them again. They are really standing up to their former “precious” of late. I’ve always like Paul Rosenberg’s work, and Natasha Chart has been on fire. Here’s her latest:

DNC, OFA Abandon Women In Healthcare Action Alert

Nancy Keenan, head of the national NARAL group (and most obedient of the obedient losers) was apparently personally promised before the health care battle by the Obama administration that they would look after the organization’s constituency interests in the health care bill and preserve the status quo. In return, NARAL was asked to stand down its activism.
They did. So with all their colleagues, they got caught with their pants down when a floor vote on the Stupak amendment was imminent.

Today, I got a press release from the DNC, and their Organizing For America project, on their plan to drum up more support for the health care reform bill: targeting Republicans.

It says nothing about women’s healthcare. Nothing. Like it isn’t even at issue. OFA is still watching NARAL’s back, women’s backs, as well as they always have.

OFA is crowing about the 500,000 phone calls they’ve prompted on the health care issue. Were any of them centered around preserving reproductive health care when it mattered? Ha! As Femlaw says at the link, “The idea is to build organizational capacity, so when really critical moments in the campaign happened, OFA could deliver huge numbers.”

Targeting Republicans is critical. Encouraging Democrats to stand together for women’s health and rights, not critical.

Even The Huffington Post has begun to rag on Obama’s policies. Here’s the big headlined post this morning:

Goldman To Private Insurers: No Health Care Reform At All Is Best by Sam Stein

A Goldman Sachs analysis of health care legislation has concluded that, as far as the bottom line for insurance companies is concerned, the best thing to do is nothing. A close second would be passing a watered-down version of the Senate Finance Committee’s bill.

A study put together by Goldman in mid-October looks at the estimated stock performance of the private insurance industry under four variations of reform legislation. The study focused on the five biggest insurers whose shares are traded on Wall Street: Aetna, UnitedHealth, WellPoint, CIGNA and Humana.

That must be why the Goldman Sachs administration Obama administration is doing it’s darndest to kill health care reform by excluding women’s health coverage.


LATEST BREAKING STORIES

This news is just breaking around the world: ‘NY trial’ for key 9/11 suspects

Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be sent from Guantanamo Bay to New York for trial in a civilian court, reports say.

Citing unnamed government officials, the reports said he would be transferred from the US prison camp in Cuba with four other suspects.

US Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to announce the decision later, the officials say.

Mr Mohammed has admitted planning the 9/11 attacks, the US military says.

That seems like a step in the right direction. Maybe we will see Guantanamo closed after all. I’d sure like to see that happen.

Politico: After spending binge, White House says it will focus on deficits

Bloomberg:
Home-Purchase Index in US Plunges to Lowest Level Since 2000

NYT: Among Obama Aides, Debate Intensifies on Troop Levels

The Nation: Whose Team Is It, Anyway? by Katha Pollitt

The Hill: Tensions brim between GOP and CEOs over healthcare reform

The Latest Lecture from Charles Krauthammer: Medicalizing mass murder (he does have a few good points)


WEEKEND ESCAPES

What’s Friday the thirteenth without the release of a big horror/disaster movie?

‘2012’ Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need To Know

It’s 2009 and a couple scientists discover the sun is freaking out and heating up the Earth’s core. Good news for anyone who likes a nice subterranean sauna. Bad news for anyone who wants the Earth not to fall to pieces in the few years.

Disaster kingpin Roland Emmerich’s “2012” then cuts to the year 2012, which looks pretty much like 2009, except the governments of the world are scrambling to come up with a secret survival plan for humanity. Which they are going to need — stat! — because it’s not too long before a few Los Angeles tremors make way for mega-quakes, lava-gushing volcanoes and tsunamis that no amount of human fortitude can combat.

Into this apocalyptic mess comes John Cusack’s struggling novelist Jackson Curtis, who has to rescue his ex-wife and kids while trying not to pee himself.

This one, on the other hand, looks really worthwhile, even if you need to bring a box of Kleenex with you.

Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

It’s hard to believe that a movie that traffics so operatically in images of brutality and squalor can be so fleet, assured and lyrical. But such breathtaking contradictions abound in “Precious,” which in the course of introducing the viewers to unspeakable despair, manages to imbue them with an exhilarating sense of hope — if not in a bright and cheery future for the film’s beleaguered protagonist, then at least in the possibilities of cinema as a bold, fluent and adamantly expressive art form.

That beleaguered protagonist is Claireece “Precious” Jones (played in an astonishing debut by Gabourey Sidibe), a 16-year-old girl who, as the movie opens, is still attending junior high school in 1980s Harlem. Morbidly obese, functionally illiterate, pregnant with her second child after being raped by her father, Precious lives with her mother, Mary (Mo’Nique), in a squalid apartment where she endures the latter’s near-constant verbal, physical and sexual abuse. Precious’s only escape from this lurid tableau is rich, glittery fantasy life, in which she has a “light-skinned boyfriend” and “good hair,” dresses in ball gowns and carries a little terrier.


HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH!

digg!!! tweet!!! share!!!


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine