August 4, 2011 archive

Late Night Karaoke


Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Herr Doktor Professor

What Would I Have Done?

August 1, 2011, 11:01 am

I would have made a statement declaring that giving in to this kind of blackmail would constitute a violation of my oath of office, and that my lawyers, on careful reflection, have determined that there are several legal options that allow me to ignore this extortionate demand.

Now, the Obama people say that this wasn’t actually an option. Well, I hate to say this, but I don’t believe them.

It’s much, much too late for Obama and co. to say “Trust us, we know what we’re doing.” My reservoir of trust is now completely drained. And I know I’m not alone.

Where’s My Relief Rally?

August 1, 2011, 11:05 am

Weren’t we supposed to have a big rally in the stock market now that the threat of default was past and our deficit was on the way to being solved?

Um, well.

Dow down 77 at the moment. And long-term interest rates – a barometer of hope or lack thereof in recovery – have fallen to 2.73 percent.

Mr. Market is apparently underwhelmed.

Meanwhile, in the Global Economy

August 1, 2011, 11:37 am

Bad news all over. In the US, Manufacturing growth hits lowest level in 2 years. In Europe, my favorite current indicator of the eurozone crisis, the Italy-Germany bond spread, has blown out again. And while part of this is due to falling German rates – which, like falling US rates, reflect growing pessimism about growth – the Italian bond rate is once again at 6 percent, a level that invites a self-fulfilling debt spiral.

Oh, and in Britain, poster child for wonderful expansionary austerity, we have this:

For the fifth consecutive month, the manufacturing sector has disappointed expectations. In the past six months, the headline composite index has crashed by 12.5 points, a record only exceeded post-Lehman in 2008. Output has been slightly better behaved over the past few months, but July’s 2 point decline to 50.6 leaves it slightly below May’s trough. Worryingly, the temporary supply-chain disruptions that depressed output in May appear to have eased, indicating that July’s weakness might be more structural.

I’m so glad we have a deal that will bring the confidence fairy to our rescue!

If I Were In The House

August 1, 2011, 11:55 am

I guess I have to be explicit at this point: yes, I would vote no.

(T)he people who claim that terrible things would immediately happen in the markets also claimed that there would be a big relief rally once a deal was struck. Not so much: the Dow is down 121 right now.

(T)he idea that a temporary disruption would permanently damage faith in US institutions now seems moot; if you haven’t already lost faith in US institutions, you’re not paying attention.

This guy knows nothing.  It’s only a fucking Nobel Prize in Economics.

Barack Obama has a Peace Prize!  So there.

Another Hostage: Federal Aviation Agency

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Congress has left town until after the Labor Day weekend leaving the Federal Aviation Agency unfunded. Because the Republican controlled house hates unions and workers, they are holding the FAA hostage on behalf of Delta Airlines. This effects 4,000 FAA employees who have been furloughed, 70,000 contracted construction workers laid off and the loss of $1 billion in tax revenue that will not be collected on ticket sales. While air traffic controllers will continue on the job with pay, safety inspectors are expected to work unpaid. All this because Delta Airlines is in a dispute with workers who want to unionize. Even worse is that most of these workers will be not have health care insurance to take care of themselves or their families.

David Dayen at FDL News gives the details in a nutshell:

Lawmakers in both houses of Congress have passed an FAA authorization bill. The particulars are in the range of 90% the same. While they work something out on the last 10%, they could pass an extension of the old authorization, the way they have 20 times since 2007. But House Republicans want to make it harder for Delta’s workers to unionize. They want to mandate that any absent voter in a union election is a vote against the union. They haven’t yet applied this to their own elections, but that’s how they want unions to operate. The NLRB passed regulations that would ban this practice, and Delta simply won’t allow votes for its workers under the new rules. And Republicans have hijacked the FAA on behalf of Delta.

That’s the real battle behind the FAA authorization, and the main reason that agency is partially shut down right now. The House passed an extension that basically punished rural airports in the states of the main Senate negotiators on the bill. But Harry Reid was actually willing to accept them yesterday and pass the extension. Senate Republicans blocked it by denying unanimous consent.

From Rachel Maddow:

Congress demonstrates a bankruptcy of principles with FAA neglect

Rachel outlines the damage being done in term of jobs and wated public money while the FAA awaits authorization from Congress.

The tea partying Republicans don’t give a rat’s butt about the over 74,000 workers who will add to the unemployment figures this month. Their only concern is the interests of a high flying CEO that contributes heavily to their campaign chests.

The tea partying republicans hate America and are worse than any terrorist group that uses explosives to take lives and destroy this country.

Obama’s Shock Doctrine

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In the “Shock Doctrine”, Naomi Klein describes disaster capitalism as “treating disasters as exciting market opportunities”. She also explains core economic philosophy of Milton Friedman, an American economist, statistician, academic, and author who taught at the University of Chicago. He was also economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan. What has now become known as the “shock doctrine” is Friedman’s lasting legacy. It is Friedman’s teaching that are at the core of the tactics being used by the Tea Party and the GOP in with the completely manufactured debt ceiling crisis.

Friedman observed in “Capitalism and Freedom:

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depends in the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible  becomes the politically inevitable

This is precisely what has unfolded over the last 11 years since President George W. Bush cut taxes favoring the wealthy and corporations until today with the passage of the bill raising the debt ceiling and the creation of the new “super committee” that will inevitably slash Social Security, Medicare and any other social safety program while raising no revenues.

Friedman also noted that a new administration has a six to nine month window to achieve major changes and if it doesn’t seize the opportunity to act decisively in that period, it won’t get another chance. The Bush administration understood that along with controlling both houses of congress which facilitated the tax cuts, the passage of the Patriot Act and the trillions that were thrown at the wars and the banks in 2008 with TARP.

President Obama had the perfect opportunity to do do much of what he had promised in the first six months if 2009. The question is why didn’t he press his agenda with the Democratic majority controlled congress? If you look closely at his campaign speeches and interviews and his history in politics then the legislative and policy results of the last three years were quite predictable.

It was Rep. John Conyers (D-CA), angered at Obama during this debt ceiling negotiations, who pointed out that it was Obama who put the big three social safety programs on the table, not the Republicans. Republican were decimated in two electoral cycles partially based on the electorate fear that these programs would be thrown to the wolves of corporations and Wall St. Little did most voters realize that it would be a Democratic president and congress that would chisel away at those programs with “shock Doctrine” tactics of making them vulnerable with the ACA, which helped revive the Republicans, and the manufactured debt ceiling crisis.

Some Obama supporters, in attempts to explain his policy’s and what at first glance appears to be failure and leadership weakness, blame the obstructionist tactics of the GOP and feckless blue dogs in the Senate and the tea party. But it was Obama who created the deficit commission to look at ways to cut the deficit. It was Obama who appointed two deficit and anti-social security hawks to chair the commission. And who helped finance it? None other than octogenarian, billionaire Pete Peterson whose life’s goal has been to end Social Security and Medicare.

It was Obama who took single payer off the table even before talks on ACA began. He then proceeded to negotiate behind close doors with hospital executives, insurance and pharmaceutical industry to remove the public option and lower prescription drug costs.

It was Obama who failed to get a strong bank regulatory bill and prosecute the bankers for the fraud in the mortgage and housing collapse. It was Obama who agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two more years worsening the deficit and cut payroll taxes making Social Security part of the deficit problem for the first time and actually raising taxes on households making less than $40,000 worsening their economic status. It was Obama who blocked cost of living raises for Social Security recipients and retires federal employees and froze pay for all federal employees.

Some critics are trying to explain away all these events as weakness either do not understand, or are just ignoring, that this latest “crisis” ws as much Obama’s making as it was the tea party’s.

Paul Krugman gets it now when he concluded that this is what Obama wants

Glenn Greenwald said “the President wanted tax revenues to be part of this deal.  But it is absolutely false that he did not want these brutal budget cuts and was simply forced — either by his own strategic “blunders” or the “weakness” of his office — into accepting them.  The evidence is overwhelming that Obama has long wanted exactly what he got: these severe domestic budget cuts and even ones well beyond these, including Social Security and Medicare, which he is likely to get with the Super-Committee created by this bill.”

At “Rolling Stone”, Matt Taibbi, on pondering Obama’s tack to starboard, thinks that Obama is doing what he is told

The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn’t fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time — as fixed fights go, you don’t see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did — but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn’t bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won’t be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

And what does that mean? Who spends hundreds of millions of dollars for what looks, on the outside, like rank incompetence?

It strains the imagination to think that the country’s smartest businessmen keep paying top dollar for such lousy performance. Is it possible that by “surrendering” at the 11th hour and signing off on a deal that presages deep cuts in spending for the middle class, but avoids tax increases for the rich, Obama is doing exactly what was expected of him?

Yes, that is exactly what he is doing. This was and is Obama’s plan.

h/t Vastleft for the graphic

My Little Town 20110803: Tim Shrum

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile of so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I never write about living people except with their express permission, but since he is long gone, he is fair game.  He was not really an uncle, but I shall explain that later.  I knew him pretty well, and also his son, Tim, who as far as I know still is living.  But if he is, he must be in really bad shape, so he is fair game tonight.

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