More Housing Fairy Tales From Former President “Bubble Boy”

May 29, 2009

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So how exactly did everything go for Dubya last night in Michigan (as a follow up to this earlier post)?

Well (from this AP/WaPo story)…

About eight people protested Bush’s appearance outside the venue, carrying signs that called him a murderer and a traitor.

God bless them for their efforts. And what exactly did Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History have to say?

He talked about the economy, blaming “a lack of responsible regulation” in the lending industry for the recession and said that the Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., or Freddie Mac, shouldn’t have engaged in certain financial practices.

“I don’t want to sound like a self-serving guy, but we did try to rein them in,” Bush said.

Oh really?

I think this post does a really great job of explaining the “cause and effect” behind the Gramm-Leach-Bliley atrocity signed into law by President Clinton (with Daily Kos poster RachelMO quite rightly noting that the Repugs had enough votes to override a Clinton veto), which ended up creating a demand for mortgage-backed securities.

To feed that demand, President 43 and his Republican playmates did their best to loosen restrictions on home ownership through the so-called American Dream Downpayment Act in 2003 (subsequent to making riskier loan products available to minority and low income buyers), and the Zero-Down Payment Initiative in 2004, which “(eliminated) the statutory requirement of a minimum three percent down payment for FHA-insured single-family mortgages for first-time homebuyers.”

“Rein them in” my ass, you fraud!

So where are we now in this mess? Well, as the New York Times tells us here (h/t Atrios)…

More defaults by unemployed homeowners could shunt more houses onto an already saturated market, economists said, dragging prices down farther.

“We’re still caught in this vicious cycle,” said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight. “These numbers were horrible, and they’re going to get worse. This problem’s going to be with us for a while.”

And what exactly does Dubya miss now that he’s no longer taking up space in An Oval Office?

Flying on Air Force One, eating meals prepared by the White House kitchen staff and drawing inspiration from his encounters with U.S. military personnel were among things former President George W. Bush missed since leaving office, he said Thursday.

So basically, he misses the trappings of power, and that’s about it.

Figures.


Stop The Rick Scott Propaganda Show

May 29, 2009

Here’s an action alert from Democracy for America…

This Sunday, following Meet the Press, a 30-minute “infomercial” attacking a public healthcare option is set to air on NBC. The ad is the work of disgraced former hospital CEO Rick Scott and his group “Conservatives for Patients’ Rights.”

Rick Scott has a track record of deceit.

Scott’s previous ads contained blatantly false statements and misleading excerpts of interviews with healthcare professionals. If Scott’s 30-minute “documentary” contains falsehoods, NBC could be liable for an FCC violation and serious fines. Furthermore, Meet the Press needs to know that their credibility is being used by Rick Scott, and will be tarnished by the association to these swiftboat style attacks.

Lawyers from the Service Employees International Union have sent a letter to NBC demanding they don’t run the ad. It is up to us to back them up with the voices of thousands of viewers demanding action.

DEMAND NBC AND MEET THE PRESS STOP SWIFTBOATING OBAMA’S HEALTHCARE REFORM.

DFA and our partners are not the only organizations raising serious questions about Rick Scott and Conservatives for Patients Right’s credibility. The highly-respected website Factcheck-org, run by the non-partisan Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, has labeled Scott’s prior advertisement as “very misleading.”

CPR’s weak rebuttal to these criticisms should have given NBC pause before agreeing to air the latest iteration of these advertisements in the full “documentary”. Essentially, CPR’s rebuttal conceded that it is painting a scenario that has not been proposed by President Obama or Democratic Congressional leaders and, indeed, Factcheck-org labeled CPR’s response as “nonsense.”

Based on Rick Scott and Conservatives for Patient Rights records, this 30-minute fake “documentary” will be false, deceitful, and filled with distortions. It is up to us to stop NBC from running the ad.

PLEASE SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO NBC NOW.

As a back-up, if we don’t succeed in stopping NBC from showing the fake “documentary,” we’ve joined with other healthcare reform advocates and organizations to shoot a 1 minute rebuttal ad featuring Governor Howard Dean, M.D. to run immediately afterwards.

Time is not on our side right now, so we’re working as fast as we can. We must send NBC a strong message.

Let’s hope we don’t need to show our rebuttal ad. Let’s get NBC to do the right thing and stop the swiftboating of a public option and Obama’s healthcare reform.

Thank you for everything you do.

-Charles

Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America

And in case we needed to learn more about Rick Scott, Rachel Maddow provides more gory details here.


“Captain Clueless” Returns To The Scene Of The Crime

May 28, 2009

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This tells us that a certain 43rd President Of The United States will (I’m sure) accept a hefty sum (if he hasn’t already) to offer what passes for his reflections on the utter mess he wrought over his time in office (portrayed as sympathetically as possible, of course) in a “meeting” tonight at The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan tonight at 8:00 (more information on this outfit is here).

And I can only hope that he will receive the same “sympathetic” greeting he received here when he spoke in Calgary a couple of months ago.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that it is utterly typical of Dubya, in his invincible, swaggering ignorance, to appear in the state which has the highest unemployment rate in the country (at least, it did as of last summer when “Straight Talk” McCain campaigned for the presidency, as noted here). I mean, it would have made more sense for him to spread his hooey all over the place at, say, AEI, the Heritage Foundation, or the Hoover Institute at Sanford.

Finally, speaking of Michigan, Commander Codpiece and what’s left of our economy, I should note from here that Michael Moore is currently working on a film on the subject, with few details available at the moment. If and when more information becomes available, I’ll pass it along.

Update: A “bubble boy” he was, is and always will be (here)…


A “Tortuous” Cheap Shot On Patrick Murphy

May 27, 2009

baby,crying,tantrum-thumb(I know I just used this graphic a few days ago, but it fits again.)

This item made the “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” section of the Bucks County Courier Times last Friday while we were away, but it was too pathetic to ignore….

(Thumbs Down) To Bucks County Congressman Patrick Murphy, who seems to have lost the will or the ability to speak for himself. Pretty much every time a reporter calls Murphy for comment, we hear from a “spokesman” instead.

The latest non-comment came in response to a question about Murphy’s reported attendance at two CIA briefings on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, otherwise known as torture. Our reporter called Murphy because of the firestorm raging over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s allegation that the CIA “lied” during briefings she attended with lawmakers.

It would be nice to hear from Murphy on that raging national issue. His perspective would be appreciated, given his attendance at the CIA meetings and his experience in Iraq.

Instead, Murphy’s spokesman confirmed only that Murphy attended “a number of intelligence briefings + but cannot disclose what was discussed.”

No surprise there. Doesn’t seem like the congressman cares to disclose much of anything to constituents via his hometown newspaper.

WAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

This is truly sad even by the wretched, Dem-liberal-progressive-bashing standards of this newspaper.

Let’s back up for a minute and try to establish a chronology, OK?

In September 2002 (according to an interview with Rachel Maddow), Pelosi said that she was told that “enhanced interrogation techniques” were being considered by Bushco, and there was a legal rationale in place for these techniques (here), and this (NY Times content) tells us that she was told in 2003 that those techniques were being used.

And it bears repeating again that the briefings in which Pelosi and others learned of this were confidential; the only recourse for Pelosi and/or others who may have objected was to bring their concerns directly to a White House that considered Congress a subsidiary of sorts to the executive branch anyway.

And was Patrick Murphy serving in Congress at that time? Uh, no – he was deployed to Bosnia in 2002 and Iraq in 2003 with the U.S. Army (as noted here).

Who was serving in Congress at the time, representing PA’s 8th Congressional District? Why, that would be Repug Jim Greenwood, who, as noted here, served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in which he “led investigations and held hearings on a variety of issues within the vast jurisdiction of the Committee including corporate governance, bioterrorism, port and border security.” So, if anyone was also likely to be briefed on the techniques Pelosi mentioned, it would be Greenwood (or, at least, he should have been given his leadership position).

Why doesn’t the Courier Times follow up with our former House rep to find out if HE wants to “disclose much of anything to (his former) constituents via his hometown newspaper” instead?


News From The Real World

May 26, 2009

More here – don’t know about posting for tomorrow, but I hope to be back no later than Wednesday.


A Memorial Day Meditation

May 25, 2009

This is a day to fly the flag, and observing a silent moment of reflection today at 3:00 is a good thing also…just sayin’.


Gibbons’ Hissy Fit Should Have “Stayed In Vegas”

May 20, 2009

baby,crying,tantrum-thumbFor what it’s worth, I should note that The Hill has suddenly emerged as a plentiful source of posting material for your humble narrator, and it doesn’t disappoint again today. Cheri Jacobus, a Republican strategist opining in the site’s Pundit blog, is trying to fan the proverbial flames of a dustup between President Obama and Nevada’s Repug governor Jim Gibbons here.

Jacobus tells us the following…

Words matter. The words of a president matter a whole lot.

So when President Obama chastised corporate America for holding conferences in Las Vegas in bad economic times, he should have known his utterances would hurt the Nevada economy. The state is suffering from a $100 million loss after the Obama comments. He apparently doesn’t care.

Just for the record, this tells us that the drop in Las Vegas tourism accelerated near the end of 2008 (before Obama was sworn in and thus mirroring the rest of this country’s economic descent) and his supposed controversial remarks were uttered last February (and this is what he said)…

It was only a five-second soundbyte, meant for Wall Street fat cats asking for government bailouts.

“You can’t get corporate jets. You can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer’s dime, ” President Barack Obama said to a town hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind. last week.

Ooooh, that’s some scary stuff, isn’t it, kiddies? And here’s more from Jacobus…

Now that the president is headed out to Nevada to raise money for the increasingly unpopular Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Gov. Jim Gibbons has asked Obama to meet with a few folks and try to walk back his earlier statements that helped tank the Vegas tourism and business conference trade. The governor wants to do everything possible to stem the tide of the sinking economy in his state (as any governor would) and has requested the president’s help.

Obama has refused. Gov. Gibbons is furious, and he has every right to be. He is now appealing to Reid to use any influence he may have so that something can be done to help ameliorate the damage before the summer vacation season begins and the state economy suffers even more.

(And by the way, when Obama meets with Reid, I hope the president communicates as directly as he can to the Senate Majority Leader that he can’t afford repeat episodes like this one, generating a media feeding frenzy in which it seemed as if everyone competed to see who could come up with the best “Drudge bait” that they could.)

As far as the way Gibbons is acting is concerned, I think this Las Vegas Sun editorial summed it up pretty well (and as the editorial tells us, Gibbons was a loyal Bushie when he served in Congress – would that he had tried a little harder to head off the rupture of our economy back when he could have done something about it in Washington).

Also, this is hardly an uncommon moment of wankery for Jacobus; she misrepresented remarks from John Kerry to his supporters after his presidential election loss in ’04 (interesting to speculate now whether or not Obama would have mounted a primary challenge in the event that Kerry had won – officially, that is, not counting Ohio). Also, she spun the fiction that Bush conducted the Iraq war in an “apolitical” fashion, and she also neglected to blame Repug Virginia House Rep Virgil Goode for slamming Muslims over Dem Rep Keith Ellison’s use of the Koran in his swearing-in ceremony (Ellison of Minnesota is Muslim – all this and more “fun” with Jacobus is available from here).

But getting back to Gibbons, I think that blaming Obama for the economy of his state is kind of like blaming the proximity of the craps tables in the casino by the gambler who lost a wad of dough.

(And by the way, this will be my last post for awhile, probably until Memorial Day or next Tuesday – have fun.)

Update 5/26/09: Wank away, Jim.


Health Care For Our Military Is Good Enough For Us

May 19, 2009

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In what should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, Think Progress tells us the following (from here)…

Last week, the health insurance lobby met with President Obama and pledged to “work together” to provide quality, affordable coverage and access for every American. In less than five days, the insurers not only broke that promise, but the Washington Post reports that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has drafted ads aimed at smearing the President’s proposed public health insurance plan.

Think Progress also tells us that the various bad actors who plied their dark arts to help scuttle the Clinton health care plan in the ‘90s are at work once more, including PR guru Frank Luntz.

Yep, get ready for an updated version of “Harry and Louise,” people, only for a crowd closer to the under-50 demographic (“Trevor and Belinda”? “Dorian and Natalie”?).

However, at Igor Volsky notes here, any Repug who decries a “public option” will have a hard time doing so, considering the fact that the VA provides government-run care for our veterans, which is the way it should be as far as I’m concerned, to the point where an Obama administration proposal allowing private carriers to pay for combat-related injuries (and thus save the government about $530 million a year) was shot down (again, the right thing to do as far as I’m concerned; saving money at the expense of those who serve is never a good thing).

Also, on the matter of single-payer health care, look for another supposed argument to be floated that it is more costly than a private plan, even though Medicare, an example of a single-payer plan, caters to an older population that is bound to have higher premiums and more extensive coverage needs.

I don’t know if the Dems can squeeze all of that information about the VA and Medicare into a 30-second ad in response to what the Repugs and their “fellow travelers” are cooking up, but I hope they give it a good try.


More On The “Exonerating Report” That Wasn’t

May 18, 2009

ManHoldingQuestionMarkSmallCroppedIn his New York Times column yesterday, Frank Rich reminded us of a news story that more or less came and went with barely a notice, and that was the withdrawal of the Pentagon Inspector General’s report which basically “exonerated the Bush Pentagon of allegations that it violated regulations in the conduct of its Retired Military Analyst program,” as Media Matters noted here about 10 days ago.

(Also, in the case of the WaPo, there was no notice of the withdrawal in the Post’s print edition, noted by Media Matters – the “exonerating report” was issued in January…a prior post on the Pulitzer-winning story of the defense analysts written by David Barstow of the New York Times is here).

This document, from TPM Muckracker, is the official notice of the report’s withdrawal from Donald M. Horstman, Deputy Inspector General for Policy and Oversight, citing “inaccuracies in the data concerning retired military analysts’ relationships with Defense contractors”; Horstman also noted that the report “did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product.”

That’s all well and good, but my question is this: who wrote the report?

The letter from Deputy IG Horstman lists an individual named John R. Crane, Assistant IG for Communications and Congressional Liaison, at (703) 604-8324 as the contact person (this DoD link also lists Thomas F. Gimble as the principal deputy IG – I’ll try to contact assistant IG Crane and I’ll let you know if I find out anything).

However, I have a feeling that the person who can answer my question (if he were disposed to do so) is Gordon S. Heddell, who formerly was the IG of the Department of Labor (didn’t know they had one – wonder how he “got on” with “Puffy” Chao?) before he also assumed his duty as the acting DoD IG in July last year, as noted here (and as noted here, concern over Heddell’s “split time” arrangement between the two agencies was voiced by Repug Sen. Charles Grassley).

The report that supposedly exonerated the military contractors should be the subject of a congressional hearing, and another DoD IG report should be commissioned at the earliest opportunity (yet another Bushco mess for the Obama Administration to clean up). And at the hearing, acting DoD IG Gordon Heddell should be the first person called to testify.


Is the Repug Torture House Of Cards “Fallin Down”?

May 15, 2009

M_Fallin_92fallin1Yesterday here at The Hill, Repug Congressional rep Mary Fallin told us the following…

The American Civil Liberties Union is outraged that President Obama has violated one of his campaign assurances to the left by declining to release photographs that purport to show terrorist detainees being abused. The planned release of the photographs was the result of an ACLU court action, and it is the ACLU’s clear position that the need to expose past wrongdoing entirely trumps any potential harm that such exposure might cause.

That is nonsense.

No one is condoning prisoner abuse. In fact, the Pentagon is taking appropriate steps to punish the very small number of troops who might have participated in such misconduct and to ensure no further instances occur. We can pursue justice, however, without releasing images that will surely be used as a weapon against the United States.

In response, allow me once more to link to Keith Olbermann’s interview with former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who, for a time, was commander of three large U.S.-and-British-led prisons in Iraq, as well as eight battalions and 3,400 soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve. She makes it clear even to individuals such as Rep. Fallin that the supposed “very small number of troops” engaged in criminal actions received their orders directly from the top of what passed for the Bushco chain of command (and by the way, this is a follow-up to yesterday’s post here).

And I took a closer look at Rep. Fallin as a result of her remarks, and though she’s pretty much emblematic of what passes for a Repug these days, there are still some interesting highlights:

  • This tells us that she aided and abetted the “teabaggers,” along with many others of her party.
  • This tells us that she went nuts over the DHS report on extremist groups from Secretary Janet Napolitano (hitting a little too “close to home,” I guess), without noting that the report included left wing extremist groups also.
  • This tells us that Fallin responded to the notion of the dollar being replaced as the major reserve currency in the world by supporting a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would disallow a foreign currency replacing the dollar as legal tender in the USA (hat tip to the blog “Kids Prefer Cheese”); even though the “global currency” rumor is admittedly silly (as was Fallin’s response), there are countries, most notably China, who are looking to valuate against a “basket” of currencies as opposed to the dollar, as Nouriel Roubini noted in the New York Times on Wednesday.
  • This tells us that Fallin was one of the House reps who changed her vote on the Wall Street bailout from “no” to “yes.”
  • This contains more about her voting record, noting that, among other things, she voted against the “cramdown” legislation to help people restructure their mortgages, the “Pay for Performance Act” in the matter of executive compensation, the stimulus (of course), SCHIP, the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act, relief for the Alternative Minimum Tax, the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act, extension of unemployment insurance, the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights, and on and on and on.
  • I realize that all of this is pretty typical of a Repug, but Fallin does stand out in one way that many of them don’t.

    And that is over this from October 2006, in which Fallin “…kissed and had inappropriate contact with (a) state employee,” an Oklahoma State Trooper who eventually resigned (Some funny business from the “Family Values” Party? OMIGOD!). However, Fallin ended up winning election to Congress afterwards, and after a stint as lieutenant governor, is now a candidate in next year’s gubernatorial election.

    Oh, and one more thing: in her “Hill” column, Fallin notes the 1949 quote from former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson about the Constitution becoming a “suicide pact” in Jackson’s dissent concerning a free-speech case. As noted here, though, Judge Harold Baer added the following to that phrase, in a ruling against a New York ordinance banning the wearing of masks in public…

    “[T]he rational and measured exercise of jurisprudence must be zealously sustained even in time of war, including the war on terrorism.”

    Judge Baer, by the way, was, in essence, ruling in favor of the KKK’s right to demonstrate. And if the odious activities of that group are still permitted as long as they only intend to march and do no other harm (even though their very existence poses a threat of violence), then I would say that anyone opposing the release of the latest round of torture photos (claiming that violence would also ensue against our military or foreign service personnel) is standing on what is, at best, shaky legal ground.


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