Saturday, February 27, 2010
Hope you like it as much as I do. I'll be tweaking the settings as I go. The final straw was the fact that, for some strange reason, my sidebar ended up under my posts.
* Sorry, Sarah, I calls 'em like I sees 'em
Friday, February 26, 2010
Gov. David A. Paterson announced on Friday afternoon that he was ending his election campaign and would not run in November.
Mr. Paterson, his administration caught up in a whirlwind of allegations about its intervention in a domestic violence episode involving a top aide, ended his campaign less than a week after it officially began. But he defiantly denied any wrongdoing in the burgeoning scandal over his involvement in the abuse case.
The final straw was his special assistant, David Johnson, and allegations that he was a serial abuser of women. He was forced to turn the investigation of his administration over to his likely opponent in the Democratic primary next year, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
In short, he was screwed into office and now screwed out of it.
Paterson's was a landmark governorship. He was the first legally blind governor elected in New York State, as well as the first African American governor in our history. Paterson's accomplishments, his father's influence notwithstanding, are many, and we should take a moment and salute him for coming this far.
Sadly, he fell short, and accumulated ridicule almost from his first day in office for his open marriage. That admission did not inoculate him from sex scandal rumours, including one horrible abuse of the journalistic process perpetuated by the New York Times.
Apparently, despite a buildup that promised a story more salacious than Fanny Brice, Paterson got nebulously involved in the dispute between Johnson and the woman who alleged Johnson assaulted her, but even at that, his involvement sounded more like he supported her story than defended Johnson.
This was not the first time that Paterson sent chilling signals. He had state police investigate then-state senate majority leader (and now convicted felon) Joseph Bruno.
His administration was all but in the toilet anyway, and his popularity ratings made Dick Cheney smile. It's sad, but he could have been so much more and ended up so much less.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The House voted Wednesday to strip health insurance companies of their exemption from federal antitrust laws, a Democratic measure that could resonate with public concerns about insurers but that has an uncertain future in the Senate.
The provision passed on a 406 to 19 vote, with most Republicans joining all the House Democrats in voting for the measure.
President Obama has said he favors the idea of repealing the exemption, and House Democrats say doing so would add scrutiny to the practices of health insurers. "The American people want and need this protection," said Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.)
Basically, the regulation and oversight of insurance companies was done on a state-by-state basis after a 1945 anti-trust exemption was passed. Nominally, this was supposed to avoid collusion, price manipulation, and other lovely outcomes of monopolization.
Except...well, when you have major corporations who can talk to each other about what they're doing in New York as opposed to Montana, and yet, Montana and New York's attorneys general do not or cannot talk to each other on how to handle it...I said it the other day: in confusion, the more powerful force will manipulate the situation to aggregate more power.
A state or two is not as powerful as a multinational insurer with lobbyists in Congress.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office believes this repeal will do little to lower insurance premiums. I disagree. That might be true short term. It will take a while for Congress to bone up on insurance and monopolies. Long term, however, I think this will dampen increases and perhaps even lay the groundwork for lower rates.
If. We. Have. A. Public. Option.
It's funny how Republicans seem so scared of free enterprise. They don't seem to mind the anti-capitalist conglomerates that fund their campaigns, but they mind someone bigger coming along to bully them.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Republican Congressional leaders on Tuesday rejected President Obama’s challenge to come up with a single comprehensive proposal to achieve his goal of guaranteeing health insurance for nearly all Americans.But they said they would attend a televised forum to discuss the issue with Mr. Obama on Thursday, even as they voiced doubt that he and Congressional Democrats were acting in good faith.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Just today, before I sat down to write this, I saw Anderson Cooper on CNN and Bill O'Reilly on Fox trying to figure it out … and missing the point entirely. Anderson, a very smart man, was asking Ron Paul why "the tea party hasn't endorsed your son, running for Congress?" I didn't wait to hear Paul's answer, but I was laughing at Cooper's lack of understanding of the "tea party" itself. It's not an organization, a political "party"; there are no paid flacks laying out strategies in a back room, painting signs for out-of-work folks to parade in public places, hardly knowing what the slogans are about. It's not a long planned, well laid out agenda aimed at toppling some party or promoting another – or even creating a new one.
Mind you, this came on the heels of Boone practically whining about how no one noticed that *he* was the first person to call for a New Boston Tea Party:
On March 7, a year ago, in this space I called for "A New Boston Tea Party." Though I hadn't heard anybody else proposing it, I soon learned that others were spontaneously and independently calling for the same thing.
OK, so let's get back to the topic I was going to write about. Remember, Boone said this was not an organization.
Yet, the very next line after making that point, we find this....Have you seen our Tea Party Store? Everything you need to express your outrage with the Obama Socialist Express
What liberals and party bosses and jaded people in the media can't seem to comprehend is that nobody started this, nobody organized this, no secret big money funded it, and nobody is orchestrating it now!
Sarah did a pretty good job of explaining there is no governing authority, nobody presuming to tell the huge, disparate, diverse horde of citizens what they have to say or not say.
Did you get that? Now get this:
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps in aggregate several millions of Iranians have taken to the streets, the parks, the plazas, also chanting and yelling and waving placards, also demanding that their governing authorities listen to them and do their bidding.
That's right! He equates the Teabaggers, a small group of disgruntled sheeplejerks whining about the ultrarich paying a few dollars more in taxes with people trying to get free of a repressive religiocratic regime!
I wonder if the Iranians can buy T-shirts?
Turkish investigators grilled more than 40 military figures on Tuesday, including the retired heads of navy and air force, after mass arrests over an alleged plot to oust the Islamist-rooted government.
In the most dramatic move to date against the armed forces, anti-terror police detained the suspects Monday over a purported plan codenamed "Operation Sledgehammer", drawn up in 2003 soon after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power.
Investigators say the suspects planned to bomb mosques and escalate tensions with Greece in a bid to force the downing of a Turkish jet over the Aegean, thus discrediting the government and ultimately leading to its downfall.
Turkey has long been a fairly reliable ally for the US in the Middle East region. In its bid to have full membership in the European Union, it has accepted its role as bulwark against the Islamist wave in less hospitable countries it borders. A strong democratic tradition coupled with a vigilant military (for those occasions when an Islamist government has taken over the reins) has kept Turkey in good standing with the West.
And yet, once again, the military was about to step in.
The Turks are at the center of several controversies in the region that will require US attention, most notably its attitude towards the Kurdish population that it shares with Iraq as well as its frosty relations with Greece and Armenia.
Monday, February 22, 2010
He invented a new kind of fuel cell, which is like a very skinny battery that always runs. Sridhar feeds oxygen to it on one side, and fuel on the other. The two combine within the cell to create a chemical reaction that produces electricity. There's no need for burning or combustion, and no need for power lines from an outside source.I'm sniffing the cold fusion craze...
SO HERE’S A QUESTION: Would a default on Treasuries accomplish what the Balanced Budget Amendment was supposed to achieve, by forcing the government to spend no more than it takes in?I dunno, Glenn...would shoving a stick in your ass make you smarter than wood?
Bruce Bartlett goes over the reasons this latest moronic trope floated by the Right Wing Talking Trash Elmo doll won't work.
1. The Treasury can never default on the debt...Bartlett goes onto mention that the cost of borrowing for the United States would skyrocket, since our Treasuries are back by "the full faith and credit" of the US government, which of course would default as quickly as the bonds.
2. Even if the Treasury somehow defaulted—that is, failed to make a timely interest payment—it would not achieve what Reynolds and other conservatives wish: an end to all federal borrowing and de facto imposition of a balanced budget by cutting all spending in excess of revenues.
3. The disruption to financial markets, commerce and the well-being of all Americans from a Treasury default are really beyond my ability to fully describe. But here are a few points to ponder. Interest rates would skyrocket to unprecedented levels, which would cause a collapse of private borrowing and massive capital losses for all bond holders, which include pension funds, insurance companies and foreign central banks, among others. It might be impossible for pension funds to make payments to millions of individuals depending on them for life itself.
Reynolds, of course, backpedals in the face of such an exhaustive and detailed analysis of what one can only hope was an opiate nightmate.
But since this has become a fairly common trope among the chattering monkeys on the right wing porch as it ties in neatly with the Teabaggers and the Paulists, you need to be aware of it.
First off, we've already been through a dry run of an American bankruptcy: the stagflation of the late 1970s, early 1980s, caused in large part by the OPEC nations holding the rest of the world hostage: de facto, we were operationally bankrupt as a nation.
How? When the Fed tried to loosen up the economy, there was no proportionate increase in economic activity. The money went to oil. This created an inflationary spiral and next thing you know, we've raised interest rates (the prime reached not only double digits, but approached 20%, a rate usually associated with third world military juntas).
Which only served to dampen down the economy.
By the way, we are currently in the middle of yet another stagflationary period. Oil, again, played a large part in it. Remember $5 a gallon gas? It wasn't that long ago.
Odd, considering we had two oil men running the country at the time it kicked off.
Monetary policy hasn't worked this time, either, as the money supply was pretty much dried up going in, due to low interest rates and the availability of cheap mortgages drying up investable cash reserves.
But I digress into territory not suited for a blog devoted to snarcasm.
Too, defaulting on national obligations is not like going to bankruptcy court because you can't pay your mortgage anymore. China (which has started dumping Treasuries, so beware) isn't about to accept pennies on the dollar in exchange for a clean bill of health.
We will be forced to pay it back in some form or other. If you don't believe me, just think of how we've bullied and badgered third world nations to repay their debts to us, funds that could have been used to improve infrastructure, or for economic development.
You'll note the Bushies only got involved because they wanted Iraqi war debts forgiven, and Iraq sits on the second largest oil reserve in the world.
If anything, defaulting on American treasuries would force even more spending on domestic social programs, while forcing the United States to cut back on its defense programs.
Hm. Maybe it's not such a bad idea, after all!
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