Tag: ek Politics

Jul 21

Third Way Democratic Electoral Victory?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Public Policy Polling as cited by John Aravosis and Taylor Marsh

For the first time since last July Barack Obama does not lead Mitt Romney in PPP’s monthly national poll on the 2012 Presidential race. Romney has now pulled into a tie with the President at 45%.

Obama’s approval rating this month is 46% with 48% of voters disapproving of him. There are 2 things particularly troubling in his numbers: independents split against him by a 44/49 margin, and 16% of Democrats are unhappy with the job he’s doing while only 10% of Republicans give him good marks. Republicans dislike him at this point to a greater extent than Democrats like him and that will be a problem for him moving forward if it persists.

Obama’s numbers are worse than they appear to be on the surface. The vast majority of the undecideds in all of these match ups disapprove of the job Obama’s doing but aren’t committing to a candidate yet while they wait to see how the Republican field shakes out.

How undecideds change the race if you allocate them based on their approval/disapproval of Obama-

Matchup Approve Disapprove Winner/Margin
Obama/Romney 21% 61% Romney 52-48
Obama/Pawlenty 9% 75% Tied 50-50
Obama/Bachmann 10% 67% Obama 51-49
Obama/Cain 8% 76% Obama 51-49
Obama/Palin 5% 84% Obama 54-46

Those are terrible numbers.  Do you think it might have anything to do with this?

Mitch McConnell for President! Or, No Wonder Ed Schultz Is Confused

By: Scarecrow, Firedog Lake

Wednesday July 20, 2011 11:00 am

The saddest part of Jane Hamsher’s interview on Ed’s show last night was listening to Ed groan in the background as Ms. Hamsher calmly explained that it was his supposedly Democratic President who was insisting on putting Social Security and Medicare at risk as a condition for avoiding a default on the national debt. How could this be?

Ed’s cognitive dissonance only got worse when Ms. Hamsher noted that Mitch McConnell’s original “clean” debt limit bill would have been acceptable, but the Democrat Harry Reid, on orders from the White House, demanded the bill be made “dirty” enough with harmful spending cuts to attract Tea-GOP votes. So when she pointed out this absurd revision was designed to make up for giving away the store last December in extending the Bush-Obama tax cuts, he couldn’t handle it.

But who can blame poor Ed, one of cable television’s most ardent liberal defenders, for snapping, wondering who is on whose side? One can only handle so much betrayal and cognitive dissonance before the mind’s defenses kick in to invent excuses for why your heroes only appear to be nuts.

So now we get to watch Harry Reid be the puppet for the CREEPs working for Mr. Obama as he turns a clean, common sense, analytically correct solution from Mr. McConnell into a “dirty” bill that slashes spending by a trillion and a half dollars or so and sets up procedures that allow Congress to slash more and be even less accountable and transparent than it already is. And the most tempting logical targets for the slashers in this process will be Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

The White House is not content with that terrible solution. No, they want something worse, like the Gang of Six mess whose framework and priorities mimic those of the Cat Food Commission. Since the media views only the debt reduction totals as the measure of the public interest, they have conveniently forgotten that the Simpson-Bowles recommendations, like the Gang of Six version, would worsen the inequality and maldistribution of the nation’s wealth.

That’s right. These geniuses believe the nation’s fiscal and economic problems stem from the richest not being favored enough and everyone else not giving enough to shared sacrifice. At the end of the day, the middle class and poor would be worse off, the wealthy would be even richer, and that outcome is what has the millionaires in the US Senate excited. They and their contributors would win, the rest of you would lose.

Jul 21


Ready, Set, Zoom

Jul 20

Striking Prisoners Denied Proper Medical Care

TheMomCat and I have been persuaded by long time contributor davidseth’s advocacy to support the California Prisoner’s Hunger Strike (commonly called the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike, though it has spread to other institutions).

What that means for you as readers and contributors is that we’ll be featuring pieces related to the strike as often as we can, even if there is some duplication in content and information.  This doesn’t mean that we’re uninterested in other subjects, but if you have something you’d care to add on the topic we certainly encourage you to do so.

It’s with that in mind I’d like to direct your attention to this post from FDL contributor Kevin Gosztola, who, with Jeff Kaye (Valtin), is now covering the civil liberties/justice/war crime beat (emptywheel and bmaz are now at www.emptywheel.net).

Pelican Bay Prisoner Hunger Strike: Prison Staff Not Following Medical Protocol

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Tuesday July 19, 2011 11:33 am

Prisoners engaged in a hunger strike at Pelican Bay supermax prison have been on strike for more than fifteen days now.  With a growing group of supporters on the outside, the strike against solitary confinement and other conditions in the prison has spread to at least thirteen other prisons. But, those providing support for the prisoners are concerned about the deteriorating physical conditions of the prisoners and whether the prison will be able to provide the prisoners with proper medical care.

Carol Strickman, staff attorney for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children and staff to the mediation team representing the hunger strikers, reports medical protocol is not being followed. They are supposed to be doing “daily assessments after two days and that includes weighing, physical condition, emotional condition, vital signs (such as blood pressure) and hydration status.

Scales for weighing prisoners are not synchronized and sometimes the prison staff weighs prisoners with chains and sometimes without chains. So, the accuracy of information is questionable right now. Additionally, the doctors are supposed to be performing physical exams. Strickman reports, instead of providing physical exams, “The medical staff is doing what I have been told are called drive-by exams, where they stand outside the door with no physical contact and just ask if people are okay, which is basically saying, ‘Are you alive?'”

Strickman further reports “medications are being eliminated entirely or reduced.” Multivitamins and salt tablets were to be provided to prisoners. Prisoners were given a sheet of medical advice on what to do during the strike. Yet, none of the prisoners have been provided with any tablets.

“Many of these prisoners are older and have pre-existing conditions such as advanced lymphoma, congestive heart failure, hypertensive disease, debilitating muscle disease and so on,” Strickman explains. “So for all these reasons every day the situation is becoming more critical.”

News of deterioration of prisoners’ health may lead one to suggest that is what a prisoner gets for engaging in hunger striking or prisoner resistance activity. That may be true, but there is a callousness and inhumanity to such a statement. The prisoners have five core demands and, according to Molly Porzig, Critical Resistance representative in the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, they are asking for “incredibly standard” and “basic” adjustments to prison policy.

I hope this is resolved soon and without permanent damage to the striker’s health.

Jul 19

La La La La La Land

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Can Obama Pull a Clinton on the GOP?

Robert Reich

Friday, July 15, 2011

Some in the White House and on Wall Street assume the anemic recovery will turn stronger in the second half of the year, emerging full strength in 2012. They blame the anemia on disruptions in Japanese supply chains, bad weather, high oil prices, European debt crises, and whatever else they can come up with. These factors have contributed, but they’re not the big story.

When the Great Recession wiped out $7.8 trillion of home values, it crushed the nest eggs and eliminated the collateral of America’s middle class. As a result, consumer spending has been decimated. Households have been forced to reduce their debt to 115% of disposable personal income from 130% in 2007, and there’s more to come. Household debt averaged 75% of personal income between 1975 and 2000.

We’re in a vicious cycle in which job and wage losses further reduce Americans’ willingness to spend, which further slows the economy. Job growth has effectively stopped. The fraction of the population now working (58.2%) is near a 25-year low-lower than it was when recession officially ended in June 2009.

Wage growth has stopped as well. Average real hourly earnings for all employees declined by 1.1% between June 2009, when the recovery began, and May 2011. For the first time since World War II, there has been a decline in aggregate wages and salaries over seven quarters of post-recession recovery.

This is not Bill Clinton’s economy. So many jobs have been lost since Mr. Obama was elected that, even if job growth were to match the extraordinary pace of the late 1990s-averaging 300,000 to 350,000 per month-the unemployment rate wouldn’t fall below 6% until 2016. That pace of job growth is unlikely, to say the least. If Republicans manage to cut federal spending significantly between now and Election Day, while state outlays continue to shrink, the certain result is continued high unemployment and anemic growth.

Electoral Victory my ass.

Jul 18

Evil or Ignorant?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

HarlequinNarrowIt hardly matters at this point.  Barack Obama has said in so many words that he’s perfectly willing to let the U.S. Government default on our National Debt unless he gets cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Even after the Republicans have capitulated on these issues.

It is no wonder that he loses to ‘generic Republican’ by 8 points.  People who claim to believe in ‘Electoral Victory’ are lying to you.

Obama is ensuring he is a one term failure by rushing to enact his Republican agenda with the complicity of corporatists who wear a D only because it’s convenient.  His highly paid and constantly wrong (2010) consultants contend ‘not as scary as that guy over there’, combined with ‘I’m a blind partisan’ will defeat the truth of ‘I don’t care about you’.

Barack Obama doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you and by the way clap harder for the Confidence Fairy, Invisible Bond Vigilantes, and Tinkerbell, otherwise you’ll die.

And so that’s where I’d have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you’re a conservative. And the reason is because if the only thing we’re talking about over the next year, two years, five years, is debt and deficits, then it’s very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained, how do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure.

If you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research, then you should want our fiscal house in order, so that every time we propose a new initiative somebody doesn’t just throw up their hands and say, “Ah, more big spending, more government.”

It would be very helpful for us to be able to say to the American people, our fiscal house is in order. And so now the question is what should we be doing to win the future and make ourselves more competitive and create more jobs, and what aspects of what government is doing are a waste and we should eliminate. And that’s the kind of debate that I’d like to have.

It’s hard to figure out exactly what his motivations are since his policy doesn’t make any kind of sense at all, even for rich people.  When ‘The Great Hair Cut’ takes place it will be all about deleveraging that $600 Trillion of Derivative Notional Value in the Shadow Markets.

Why?  Because there’s no place else to get the ‘money’.  It’s at least 10 times the ‘book value’ of all the World’s goods and services annually.  So while the slave owner may starve and whip his chattel, and force them to sleep naked in the cold, there is only so much blood in the turnip.

Bootlickers think they will somehow survive I suppose, who can have enough jesters and toadies?  Having been Capo di Tutti I’ll tell you they’re the first on the list.  They’ll continue to suck up anyway seeking to worm their way back into favor (see Pavlov).

Frankly it’s co-dependent behavior.  I’ve seen enough abusive relationships to know and I have an opinion- toleration is complicity.

How then to have an impact?

I call you to a life of resistance in the small and easily done things.  Move your money.  Use cash when you can.  Turn off your lights when you leave the room and properly inflate your tires.

I don’t think any amount of complaints will convince the Tsar he has bad councilors, but it’s certainly a minimum.  I do think that only votes get counted and I encourage you to do so early and often.  The thing about shunning is that it’s critically important that it be public and express the clear disapproval of the community.

Their guilty souls can’t stand that, witness the howls of outrage.

Jul 16

I like irony.

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

About That McConnell Deal…

By: Jane Hamsher, Firedog Lake

Thursday July 14, 2011 6:36 am

The irony is that the Obamabots are so out of touch with who Obama is and what he wants they don’t realize that by cheering for the McConnell deal, and his prowess in making McConnell “blink,” it amounts to twisting the knife for him. It makes it impossible for him to reject the deal (in) the end – which empowers the GOP to hold out.

Cantor offered a temporary extension three times last night, and by both Democratic and GOP accounts, that’s what made Obama snap. He wouldn’t be rejecting it “even if it brings my presidency down,” and taking his case to the American people, if he thought he had scored some big victory.

You gotta feel sorry for the guy. His most ardent supporters are the dumbest motherfuckers in the world, and they don’t  realize he thinks they are digging his political grave.

What Obama wants is to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.


Obama reiterated that his “strong preference is not just to raise the debt ceiling but also to take significant steps to restrain borrowing.” As I’ve said repeatedly, by his own words, he wants to use this as a leverage point. The family of the hostage victim has become the hostage taker. So you have to believe that this Reid/McConnell deal, which mandates spending cuts even though the Republican leader in the Senate took them off the table, is being tailored to placate a Democratic President.

He’s threatened to veto any bill that doesn’t do that.  He and the advisers he’s personally picked to listen to and put in positions of policy influence believe in provably false economic theories and ‘political science’ that’s equally suspect.

Electoral victory my ass.

Jul 13

Evolution vs. Economics

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Neoliberal Economics has as much credibility as Stalinist Genetics.”- ek hornbeck

Some people point out that Evolution is just a theory despite a clear fossil record, the evidence of written history (parts even since 4004 B.C. and so Bishop Ussher approved), St. Bernards and Chihuahuas, corn and potatoes, the Dodo and the Passenger Pigeon.

And Molecular Biology, one of those pesky ‘hard sciences’ with mathmatical models that predict replicable observable results that can be tested by experiment and when tested have proven true.

Economics?  Not so much.  One could credibly argue that as currently practiced it has all the mathematical certainty of Astrology (the planetary alignment is what it is and stars do chart their courses) and all it’s credulous superstitious magical thinking non-underwear changing during a hitting streak nonsense too.

As practiced currently by the constantly wrong and surprised it’s equal mixtures perfect markets and Jungian mystical mass psychology.

It’s fueled by enormous vanity and a refusal to admit one’s failure in theory given the evidence of experimental results that equals or exceeds the defenders of phlogiston and Ether.

Herr Doktor Professor

If you come at the current Lesser Depression from my angle, there’s no great mystery. Consistency in modeling isn’t always a virtue, but still, it’s striking how much continuity there is in the analysis of slumps: there’s a clear line of descent with only moderate modification running from Hicks 1937 to liquidity-trap models of Japan (pdf) to models that add in debt/deleveraging. The situation we’re in seems fully comprehensible.

But at Chicago and elsewhere in the freshwater universe they’re playing Calvinball (and what a good coinage that was from Mike Konczal). All kinds of novel and implausible effects – effects that weren’t in any of the models they were using before the crisis – are invoked to explain why we’re in a sustained slump; strange to say, all of these newly invented models just happen to imply the need for tax cuts and a shrunken welfare state.

But I don’t think it’s just political bias: part of what’s happening, I’m sure, is intellectual embarrassment. These people come from a movement that declared, with great arrogance, that Keynesian economics was dead – then failed to produce a workable alternative, and now finds itself in what is very recognizably a Keynesian world. Recognizably, that is, to everyone but them, because admitting that Keynesian-type thinking is useful now would just be too humiliating.

Jul 08


Backwoods Bunny

Jul 07

To the Person Sitting in Darkness

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Conscience of a Liberal

To those defending Obama on the grounds that he’s saying what he has to politically, I have two answers. First, words matter – as people who rallied around Obama in the first place because of his eloquence should know. Yes, he has to make compromises on policy grounds – but that doesn’t mean he has to adopt the right’s rhetoric and arguments. The effect of his intellectual capitulation is that we now have only one side in the national argument.

Second, since Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying.

The question then is why. As I’ve tried to show many times, the facts overwhelmingly refute the anti-Keynes talking points. Neither the invisible bond vigilantes nor the confidence fairy have made an appearance. So why is Obama talking up those talking points?

OK, here’s an unprofessional speculation: maybe it’s personal. Maybe the president just doesn’t like the kind of people who tell him counterintuitive things, who say that the government is not like a family, that it’s not right for the government to tighten its belt when Americans are tightening theirs, that unemployment is not caused by lack of the right skills. Certainly just about all the people who might have tried to make that argument have left the administration or are leaving soon.

And what’s left, I’m afraid, are the Very Serious People. It looks as if those are the people the president feels comfortable with. And that, of course, is a tragedy.

Extending the Blessings of Civilization to our Brother who Sits in Darkness has been a good trade and has paid well, on the whole; and there is money in it yet, if carefully worked – but not enough, in my judgement, to make any considerable risk advisable. The People that Sit in Darkness are getting to be too scarce ­- too scarce and too shy. And such darkness as is now left is really of but an indifferent quality, and not dark enough for the game. The most of those People that Sit in Darkness have been furnished with more light than was good for them or profitable for us. We have been injudicious.

Jul 03

Barack Obama is a Dick!

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

HarlequinNarrowYou know I’m kind of ashamed at myself for even addressing a topic so jejune and banal.  There was a time when I was an avid consumer of traditional media lies and hypocrisy and let them make me feel angry and betrayed as when Chris Matthews (and I watched every night, often 2 or 3 times) passed off the now notorious Republican shill master Frank Luntz as a neutral pollster for years and years.

I’d direct those interested in charting the decline at least as far back as Murphy Brown which thoroughly documented that the only thing of importance is the names in your Rolodex and truth an inconvenient virtue rarely found.

My family is now divided about the value of viewing.  I contend that watching at all makes you measureably stupider and they insisting that it’s at least an indicator of conventional wisdom.

What wisdom is that?  These people are constantly, consistently wrong.  They’re wrong about science and economics and politics and political science and history.  They are beyond stopped clock wrong and can’t be relied on to tell the truth even twice a day.  They have proven themselves as incapable as drowning turkeys in a thunderstorm of discerning whether someone’s pissing on their leg or if it’s really raining even with the aid of a window and a Maine Weather Stick (you put the stick outside your window, if it’s wet, it’s raining).

I wish I could work up a sense of righteous outrage at Mark Halperin but he is part and parcel of the Versailles Village system that through the sheer weight of it’s own ignorance and arrogance is moving us closer to July 14th every day.

“I like irony except I find that if you just toss your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes you hardly ever have to use it.”- ek hornbeck

“Barack Obama is a Dick!”, is the truest thing Halperin has said in years.

Jun 29


Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

MBIA is the Municipal Bond Insurance Association.  It is a monoline insurer that expanded into the Collateralized Debt Obligation market in the 90s and naughty aughties.

As it became undeniable that they’d engaged in Insurance Fraud and didn’t have nearly enough assets to pay off their policies their Insurance Financial Strength (IFS) rating declined from AAA in April of 2008 to BBB in March of 2010.

In 2009 they restructured the company, splitting off the original (and still profitable because they never default) municipal bond operation from the highly speculative and money losing CDO business.

The Insurance Superintendent of New York State oked this and MBIA has been using his approval to prevent defrauded customers like Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, UBS AG and RBS from bringing suit for fraudulent conveyance and breach of contract.  Well today the New York State Court of Appeals (don’t let the name fool you, this is the final court in New York) ruled that this was not legal and the suits could proceed.

NY Court: MBIA Policyholders Can Sue

By ERIK HOLM, The Wall Street Journal

JUNE 28, 2011, 12:57 P.M. ET

The judges in the majority in Tuesday’s ruling wrote that MBIA was wrong in its contention that a provision in New York state insurance law allowed the state insurance superintendent to be the “exclusive arbiter of all private claims” related to the MBIA restructuring plan.

“A cursory reading of the plain language reveals that it does not vest the Superintendent with the power to consider causes of action, such as plaintiffs’,” the judges wrote.

ABN AMRO and the other policyholders contend the restructuring wrongly left the account that backed the policies sold on structured securities without enough money to pay claims.

“The Court of Appeals has squarely rejected MBIA’s efforts to shut the courthouse door,” said Robert Giuffra, lead counsel for the banks and a partner with Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, in a statement. “We’re confident that MBIA’s fraudulent restructuring will be reversed.”

Much as I hate rooting for objectively bad actors like BoA to succeed, the truth is that having the vampire squid cannabilize each other in a feeding frenzy of fear and greed is the most likely avenue to punishing them the way they deserve.

Jun 25

Obama: Chump or Fraud?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Herr Doktor Professor

Republicans are deeply, deeply concerned about the budget deficit; they believe that our nation’s future is at stake.

But they’re willing to sacrifice that future, not to mention risk the good faith and credit of the federal government, rather than accept so much as a single penny of tax increases as part of a deal.

(T)he GOP never cared about the deficit – not a bit. It has always been nothing but a club with which to beat down opposition to an ideological goal, namely the dissolution of the welfare state. They’re not interested, at all, in a genuine deficit-reduction deal if it does not serve that goal.

And everyone who has preached bipartisanship, who has called for a meeting of minds on the subject, is either a fraud or a chump.

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