Saturday Mashup (5/4/13)

May 5, 2013
  • This recent opinion column in the Murdoch Street Journal by Repug U.S. House Rep John Campbell of California tells us the following…

    There were many contributors to the 2008 financial crisis—including unsound housing loans and mortgage-backed securities, Fannie Mae FNMA -0.12%and Freddie Mac, FMCC -0.85%excess leverage by major financial institutions, and regulatory failures. Car and truck loans were not among the problems, and their lenders in any event pose no “systemic” risk to the financial system.

    And yet, amazingly, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—a creature of the Dodd-Frank Act, which was passed to correct and prevent the causes of, and problems that led to, the 2008 crisis—wants to change the way car loans are made. The CFPB’s proposal is a noxious attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and is likely to make a mess of one part of the consumer-loan industry that works.

    I’ll explain what is wrong here shortly.

    Currently, if you apply for a car loan through a bank, credit union or one of the car manufacturers like Ford Motor Credit or Toyota Financial, you are judged on matters such as your credit score, income and debt. The financial institution won’t know your race or ethnicity or even necessarily your gender. It will approve or disapprove the application and offer you an interest rate based on the data. That’s just as it should be.

    But it is not good enough for the CFPB. In a quest to make sure that all individuals falling within the “protected classes” under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act get the same interest rate as those who are not covered by it, the agency wants financial institutions to guess your race, ethnicity and gender based on your name and the address on your application. Put bluntly, they want lenders to profile you.

    The CFPB should withdraw this outrageous and abusive guidance immediately and focus on helping consumers in those areas in which the need for reform truly exists.

    Campbell is actually right about most of that without the vitriol (shocking, I know), but here is the problem. The “financial institution” may not have the demographic information on the person trying to purchase a vehicle, but the dealer sure does. And auto dealers have been known to engage in a practice called “dealer markup,” which the CFPB is trying to address, as noted here

    When consumers finance automobile purchases from an auto dealership, the dealer often facilitates indirect financing through a third party lender. The dealer plays a valuable role by originating the loan and finding financing sources. In this indirect auto financing process, the lender usually provides the dealer with an interest rate that the lender will accept for a given consumer.

    Indirect auto lenders often allow the dealer to charge the consumer an interest rate that is costlier for the consumer than the rate the lender gave the dealer. This increase in rate is typically called “dealer markup.” The lender shares part of the revenue from that increased interest rate with the dealer. As a result, markups generate compensation for dealers while frequently giving them the discretion to charge consumers different rates regardless of consumer creditworthiness. Lender policies that provide dealers with this type of discretion increase the risk of pricing disparities among consumers based on race, national origin, and potentially other prohibited bases. Research indicates that markup practices may lead to African Americans and Hispanics being charged higher markups than other, similarly situated, white consumers.

    Oh, and Campbell is a former auto dealership owner who apparently rents properties to dealerships, as noted here (um, want to try and find someone a little more objective to write a column like this? And Campbell is #40 on the list, by the way).

    If auto dealers and the lenders weren’t engaging in this type of nonsense, then there would be no need for the CFPB to step in (more info is here). But since they do…

  • Next, I know I teed off a bit on South Carolina a day or so ago, and with good reason I believe. And here is more cause for indignation…

    The Supreme Court may have ruled ObamaCare is constitutional, but implementing the controversial federal law would become a crime in South Carolina if a bill passed by the state House becomes law.

    The bill, approved Wednesday by a vote of 65-39, declares President Obama’s signature legislation “null and void.” Whereas the law that Obama pushed and Congress passed is known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, South Carolina’s law would be known as the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act.

    It would prohibit state officials and employees from “enforcing or attempting to enforce such unconstitutional laws” and “establish criminal penalties and civil liability” for those who engage in activities that aid the implementation of ObamaCare.

    So it looks like “The Palmetto State” is going to try the whole tenther, “nullification” BS to get around that socialist, big gumint Kenyan Muslim Marxist pre-dee-dint of ours.

    However, as noted here

    Steering South Carolina’s uninsured residents away from seeking primary treatment in emergency rooms and into free health clinics is a worthy idea. But it wouldn’t come close to matching the benefits of expanding Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of low-income South Carolinians.

    Last week, S.C. House Republicans launched a proposal designed to serve as an alternative to complying with the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. The proposal would pay hospitals $35 million next year to guide the uninsured to the state’s 20 free federally qualified health clinics.

    The plan also calls for giving the clinics $10 million next year to treat those patients. The money would come from $62 million the state Department of Health and Human Services received last year but did not spend.

    The plan also includes $20 million – $6 million in state money and $14 million from the federal government – to pay rural hospitals for the entire cost of uncompensated care they provide for low-income patients. Smaller amounts would go to other efforts to expand and improve care, such as $3 million for a program to repay the student loans of doctors who agree to work in underserved areas of the state.

    But not a single new person would be insured under the plan. By contrast, expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would result in about 500,000 more uninsured residents being covered.

    Also, here is some background on Bill Clinton’s 2012 Democratic National Convention speech in which he outlined the threat to Medicaid expansion from South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and her pals in charges of states across this country (oh, and has noted here, South Carolina ranks 44th out of 50 states in median income).

    Truly a miracle of Republican Party “governance,” my fellow prisoners…

  • Further, Charles Lane of the WaPo “wanks” as follows here

    Of all the arguments for the Obama administration’s green-energy loan program, one of the worst is that federal aid leverages private capital.

    Consider Fisker Automotive. In August 2009, this wannabe plug-in electric hybrid car company was hard up for cash to pay suppliers and faced potential layoffs.

    A green-energy loan was the only hope, Fisker executive Bernhard Koehler explained in an e-mail to the Department of Energy — because it would help bring in private money. “We are oversubscribed in this equity round with the DOE support — and nowhere without it,” Koehler pleaded.

    A month later, in September 2009, the Energy Department approved a $529 million low-interest loan. Vice President Biden stood before the proposed site of a Fisker plant in Delaware and described the department’s program as “seed money that will return back to the American consumer in billions and billions and billions of dollars of good new jobs.”

    Alas, government loans could not overcome Fisker’s fundamental problem: no experience mass-producing automobiles, let alone the complex battery-powered luxury cars that it proposed to sell for more than $100,000. Today, the company is nearly bankrupt; taxpayers are on the hook for $171 million, and private investors are probably nearly wiped out. (The story is well told, with documents, at PrivCo.com.)

    In response, I give you the following from here

    First, Fisker originally requested the federal funds it received in 2008, before President Obama took office. Why? Because the Bush/Cheney administration urged the company to participate in the federal loan program, seeing it as a worthwhile investment. If Republicans are convinced Fisker should never have received aid in the first place, they’re lashing out at the wrong president.

    Second, to condemn the federal loan program because one company struggled after receiving assistance is silly — some of the companies in the Department of Energy’s program fared well, some didn’t. It happens. As Michael Grunwald explained a while back, “That’s capitalism. That’s lending. That’s life. As one Obama aide told me: Some students who get Pell grants are going to end up drunks on the street.” It’s not as if those failures discredit the entire Pell grant program.

    And third, (House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell) Issa may want to get off his high horse — in 2009, he urged the Department of Energy to extend federal support to an electronic car manufacturer named Aptera, which declared bankruptcy soon after.

    In the case of this one company, it didn’t work out well, but others have fared far better. There’s no reason for Republicans to throw a fit.

    Silly Steve Benen – what else are the Repugs going to do besides throw a fit? Engage in the tedious, difficult work of actual governance? What a quaint notion (removing my tongue from my cheek).

  • Continuing, I came across this curious item from Think Progress recently…

    The Florida legislature passed a bill this week to impose new obstacles on challenging the death penalty in a state with the greatest number of exonerations. The bill’s intent was to shorten the time inmates wait for execution by imposing time limits for appeals and post-conviction motions, but DNA and other evidence often emerges years after a crime is committed – a concern that didn’t seem to faze Republican proponents of the bill who said swift justice is “not about guilt or innocence”:

    “Is swift justice fair justice?” asked Democratic party Senator Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa attorney who voted against the bill. “We have seen cases where, years later, convicted people were exonerated,” she said. […]

    But Republican Senator Rob Bradley said, “this is not about guilt or innocence, it’s about timely justice.” Frivolous appeals designed only for delay are not fair to victims and their families, he said. […]

    “Only God can judge,” Matt Gaetz, a Republican who sponsored the bill in the House of Representatives, said last week during House debate. “But we sure can set up the meeting.”

    For the record, Matt Gaetz is the son of Don Gaetz, who is in charge of the Florida State Senate. And this tells us that Gaetz the Younger worked in 2010 to defeat amendments that would prevent voting districts from being gerrymandered (which the Repugs have elevated to an art form…the surprisingly forthright excuse – though still a morally bankrupt one – is that the amendments would blunt a “conservative comeback”).

    Florida’s junior state representative also favored repealing Florida’s “Cap and Trade” law here (and get a load of his full-on wingnut language attacking former governor Charlie Crist…some BS about California romance, or something). And based on this, Gaetz the Elder is no prize either.

    However, I don’t believe that M. Gaetz has a right to involve himself on legal matters, at least not for a good while anyway, based on this.

  • Finally, William McNabb wrote the following in the Journal recently (returning to the “money” theme…McNabb is CEO of The Vanguard Group, the mutual fund investing behemoth based in Malvern, Pa.)…

    We estimate that since 2011 the rise in overall policy uncertainty has created a $261 billion cumulative drag on the economy (the equivalent of more than $800 per person in the country). Without this uncertainty tax, real U.S. GDP could have grown an average 3% per year since 2011, instead of the recorded 2% average in fiscal years 2011-12. In addition, the U.S. labor market would have added roughly 45,000 more jobs per month over the past two years. That adds up to more than one million jobs that we could have had by now, but don’t.

    At Vanguard we estimate that the spike in policy uncertainty surrounding the debt-ceiling debate alone has resulted in a cumulative economic loss of $112 billion over the past two years. To put that figure in perspective, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that sequestration may reduce total funding by $85 billion in 2013. Clearly, the U.S. debt situation is the economic issue of our generation.

    Spoken as a charter member of the “pay no price, bear no burden” investor class that continues to skate while the “99 percent rabble” lives paycheck to paycheck…

    Fortunately, Ezra Klein responded as follows here, citing the work of fellow “Wonk Blog” contributor Mike Konczal…

    How do (the authors of the “uncertainty” studies McNabb based his column on) construct the search of newspaper articles for their index, which generates a lot of the movement?

    Their news search index is constructed with four steps. They first isolate their search to a set of articles from 10 major newspapers (USA Today, the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal). They then search articles for the term “uncertainty” or “uncertain.” They then filter again for the word “economic” or “economy.” With economic uncertainty flagged, they then filter again for one of the following words to identify government policy: “policy,” “‘tax,” “spending,” “regulation,” “federal reserve,” “budget,” or “deficit.”

    See the problem? We don’t know what specific stories are in their index; however, we can use their search terms listed above to find which articles would have likely qualified. Let’s take a story from their first listed paper, USA Today, “Obama taking aim at GOP pledge on campaign trail,” from August 28, 2010 (for the rest of this post, I’m going to underline the words in quotes that would trigger inclusion in their policy uncertainty index):Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the House GOP lawmakers who crafted the pledge, said “it’s laughable that the president would try to lecture anyone on.” [….] Buck said the pledge was developed to address voter worries about high unemployment and record levels of government and debt.

    “While the president has exploded federal spending and ignored Americans who are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’, the pledge offers a plan to end the economic uncertainty and create jobs, as well as a concrete plan to rein in Washington’s runaway spending spree,” Buck said.

    Spokespeople for the conservative movement tell reporters that President Obama’s policies are causing economic uncertainty. Reporters write it down and publish it. Economic researchers search newspapers for stories about economic uncertainty and policy, and create a policy uncertainty index out of those talking points.

    It’s about jobs. It’s about generating demand. It’s about the utter failure of austerity not just in this country, but all over the world.

    I understand that McNabb and those in his orbit won’t admit the complete and total collapse of their wrongheaded ideology, but it’s despicable to watch them try and craft a narrative justifying their mistakes to the utter ruination of working men, women and families all over the world.

    On a bit of a happier note, though, this tells us that, while our supposed geniuses of finance have a collective freak out over pending “Too Big To Fail” legislation co-sponsored in the Senate by Sherrod Brown (no surprise) and David Vitter (WHAAA????), local community banks appear to have no problem with it.

    And those are the folks (and the credit unions also, let’s not forget) that are gradually digging us out of the financial mess created by the corporate Wall Street criminals. Those are the institutions releasing the loans and making the credit available to return the key sectors of our economy to life, thereby increasing demand and leading to better hiring numbers such as these (a long way to go I know, but improvement).

    community-banks
    And given all of this, I would say that this is a sign o’the times.

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    Monday Mashup Part One (5/3/10)

    May 3, 2010

  • 1) Are you as under-whelmed by the entry of billionaire speculator Jeff Greene into the Florida Senate race as I am?

    As the Murdoch Street Journal tells us here, Greene made a fortune on credit default swaps against the collapsing Florida housing market; also, somewhat astutely I think, Greene had previously donated to the campaign of real Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek (here).

    Oh, and I got a kick out of the Journal highlighting the fact that Meek is supposedly a “high roller” because he has $3.8 million in campaign funds; gee, wouldn’t it have been “fair and balanced,” as it were, if they pointed out that presumptive Repug nominee Marco Rubio raised very nearly that amount in the first quarter alone (here)?

    Also, the fact that Greene has brought on board DLC Dems Joe Trippi and especially Doug Schoen tells you all you need to know about Greene’s allegiances (didn’t Terry McAuliffe try this in Virginia, ultimately helping to elect Repug Bob McDonnell as governor?).

  • 2) Also, I’m glad some news organization somewhere on this planet is calling out Laura Bush for that claim that she was supposedly poisoned in Germany in 2007 (here)…

    We see absolutely no evidence to support (these allegations) at all,” said Christian Ploeger, a spokesman for the Fundus Group that owns the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm in northern Germany where the Bushes stayed for a G8 summit.

    “The food was checked by security staff,” he said.

    “I suspect that this may be just to try and sell more copies of the book.”

    Word to that, yo (and how disgusting is it for her to make a charge like that when, for example, the enemies of our ol’ buddy Vlad Putin routinely seemed to be ingesting exotic chemicals that ultimately killed them – I mean, when they weren’t falling out of buildings to their deaths, that is?).

    Oh, and speaking of the former first couple, just when you thought that only David Broder was concocting the dreaded “Bush bounce” stories, I give you this.

  • 3) Finally, I’m scratching my head over this bit of Old Gray Lady wankery from John Harwood (here)…

    Bush administration officials had multiple arguments for war with Iraq. But to anchor their public case, Paul D. Wolfowitz, the former deputy secretary of defense, once explained, “We settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on, which was weapons of mass destruction.”

    For similar reasons, Republicans accused Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats of perpetuating bank bailouts through their proposal for shutting down failing Wall Street institutions. Though the plan explicitly aimed to prevent bailouts, Republicans seized on potential loopholes in hopes of capitalizing on public resentment.

    Senator Bob Corker questioned fellow Republicans’ arguments, helping shift debate toward issues like Senator Blanche Lincoln’s derivatives spinoff plan.

    But Mr. Obama called that argument “cynical and deceptive,” and Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, publicly questioned its credibility. Senate Republican leaders could not hold rank-and-file members against beginning floor debate, especially as Democrats signaled willingness to compromise on disputed provisions.

    OK, the last paragraph is pretty much rooted in the real world, so I think that’s OK. However, the line about “Democrats…perpetuating bank bailouts through their proposal for shutting down Wall Street institutions” is factually wrong.

    As noted here…

    STEPHANIE DHUE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Republicans oppose this idea of a bail-out fund, saying it will institutionalize “too big to fail.”

    FRANK: Well, there is no bail-out fund. Your use of the phrase, frankly, ought to make Mitch McConnell happy, because there is no bail-out fund. A bail-out fund suggests that there is money that is going to help an institution.

    DHUE: So we should call it a “dissolution fund”?

    FRANK: Yes, it is — actually, it is a “funeral expenses fund.” And it’s a dissolution fund, which is, in fact, what we do call it.

    A bail-out fund suggests that you take money from the tax-payers and give it to institutions that have screwed up to keep them alive. None of that applies to our fund. In the first place, what it is is money that is raised from financial institutions, not from the tax-payers. Secondly, it can only be spent to help put the institution to death. What we do in this bill, first of all, is to say that unlike the current law, the regulators don’t have to pay — they don’t have to choose between paying all of the debts and none of the debts. They can pay only those debts of an ongoing — of an institution that are necessary to avoid a collapse.

    But there is no bail-out. There is no public money. And more importantly, the institution is dead. Not a penny can be spent until the shareholders lose everything, the CEO is fired, the board of directors is fired, the company is basically dissolved.

    Of course, since Senate Democrats lack the spine of House Democrats, the fund was dropped, as noted here; also, for reasons that utterly escape me, President Obama bought into the wingnut talking point that the fund would be used for bailouts, when, as Barney Frank already pointed out, no such thing would have occurred.

    It should also be noted that the whole “bailout fund” talking point has been echoed everywhere by our corporate media, including former Bushco flak Dana Perino here, who defended the GOP’s actions on financial reform, saying the party was “leading” (as noted here, though, this is one of many topics about which she is not an expert – claims from the prior post include misinformation about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the entire question of whether or not our economy was even in a recession as far as she knew while her boss’s term in office mercifully concluded).

    And just to make sure that Perino’s misinformation is current on financial matters, I give you this also.

    Oh, and one more thing, Harwood – Iraq’s WMD were never found (apparently it is necessary for me to remind you of that).


  • Friday Mashup (2/19/10)

    February 19, 2010

  • I haven’t paid much attention to Christine Flowers of the Philadelphia Daily News lately, but she came up with a whopper today in her column about “anti-social networking,” in which gangs reportedly use Facebook, etc. to congregate for juvenile delinquency…

    It’s beyond frightening – and frustrating – to think that this is what is being spawned in our urban incubators these days, clueless, rudderless and amoral boys and girls who don’t give a damn about private property and the safety of others. Their anti-social, criminal behavior shouldn’t be cleaned up with euphemisms.

    In recent times, bleeding hearts who have more sympathy for the lawless than for their victims have urged understanding. Argued against stiff sentences. Opposed placing these baby felons into adult proceedings and have even, somehow, convinced the Supreme Court that minors shouldn’t be eligible for capital punishment, no matter how heinous their crimes.

    Notice that Flowers didn’t say anything about “rural incubators” (so clever with the wingnut code, Christine).

    And Flowers is right that The Supremes ruled against juvenile capital punishment in 2005, as noted here. However, we should keep in mind the following…

    (Justice Anthony) Kennedy’s (majority) opinion rested in large part on the fact that 30 states, including the 12 states that have no capital punishment, forbid the death penalty for offenders younger than 18. That number represented an increase of five since the court upheld the juvenile death penalty in 1989.

    The court weighs death penalty laws according to what a 1958 ruling called the “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society,” and looks to state legislation and jury verdicts to decide whether a “national consensus” has developed against a previously accepted practice.

    In 2002, the court voted 6 to 3 to strike down the death penalty for the moderately mentally retarded, which it had upheld 5 to 4 in 1989. In the 2002 case, Atkins v. Virginia, the court noted that the number of death penalty states banning that practice had grown from two in 1989 to 13 in 2002, while none had gone the other way.

    The recent shift of states against the juvenile death penalty, though less dramatic than the evidence the court found sufficient in the mental-retardation case, was enough to carry the day, Kennedy concluded.

    For the Supreme Court itself, perhaps the most significant effect of yesterday’s decision is to reaffirm the role of international law in constitutional interpretation.

    The European Union, human right lawyers from the United Kingdom and a group of Nobel Peace laureates had urged the court in friend-of-the-court briefs to strike down the juvenile death penalty.

    Even a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger such as yours truly opposes destruction to people and/or property, no matter who the alleged perpetrators are. But is Flowers seriously contemplating the death penalty here for a bunch of dumb kids who vandalize a department store?

  • Also, Dick Polman of the Inquirer weighed in on the brewing travesty concerning the production on the Kennedys currently being worked on for The History Channel here (I got into this here)…

    (Filmmaker Robert) Greenwald is unhappy that the top guy on the Kennedy film project is Joel Surnow, a conservative who created the Fox show “24.” Greenwald insists, however, that he’s not trying to censor anybody. But judge for yourself whether Greenwald ally Ted Sorenson, a former Kennedy aide and one of the earliest Kennedy hagiographers, is threatening censorship when he warns that “there will be hell to pay if anyone is ever foolish enough to put this banal, repetitive, old hat lists of libels and slanders on the air.”

    This bid to, at minimum, pre-spin an unproduced docudrama is foolish for many reasons. Attacking the partial early drafts of any film script is akin to attacking a singer-songwriter on the basis of how his new material sounds as it’s taking shape in early studio sessions. In that sense, Greenwald’s campaign is an attack on the artistic process itself. Things change. There are endless revisions, additions, and deletions. Perhaps the Kennedy flamekeepers should take chill pills and let this process play out; as Stephen Kronish, the project’s writer – and a self-described liberal Democrat – reportedly said the other day, “Next year, when it’s done and it’s on the air, if people want to criticize it, so be it.”

    Soo…Polman thinks that Sorenson, Greenwald etc. are supposed to know this stuff is going on…and say and do nothing?

    Polman points out that Greenwald and others have objected to scenes where “JFK” is making out with some floosie in a swimming pool while a crisis develops, as well as a remark about Kennedy needing sex to prevent migraines, and Polman responds that both of those episodes have been documented.

    However, there is also a moment in this production when Joe Kennedy Sr. breaks a crucifix over his knee, when there is no record anywhere of that ever having occurred. Further, there is no mention whatsoever of the Cuban Missile Crisis. What the hell kind of a Kennedy “documentary” is this, then (Polman would have learned this from Greenwald’s approximately-twelve-minute film, which you can view from the link to my prior post, in which Greenwald features Sorenson, along with historians Thurston Clarke, David Nasaw, Nigel Hamilton – who is hardly a Kennedy fan – and Rick Perlstein, as noted here).

    The point of all of these individuals is that, if Surnow wants to make some trash biopic on the Kennedys, that’s his right, Polman’s editorializing to the contrary. However, such a mess has no place on The History Channel (and it’s more than a little disingenuous for Polman to mention “The Reagans,” since that didn’t show on The History Channel either; it ended up on the Showtime cable network, which has a significantly smaller audience than CBS, where it was originally slated to run before the right-wing outcry).

  • Finally, as we wind down towards the weekend, it’s time for some comedy from Matthew Continetti of The Weakly Standard (here, concerning a certain presidential election)…

    In 2000, George W. Bush’s solid lead collapsed the weekend before the election when media broke the news of his 1976 DUI. Florida was the result.

    Too funny (the Dubya DUI story broke too late to matter, just before November 4th) – as noted here…

    Bush took an early lead in the polls but his opponent, Vice-President Al Gore, bounced back after the Democratic convention, when he started sounding a populist theme. The media had a field day with Bush’s tendencies to malapropisms and Gore hammered at his foreign policy weaknesses and lack of experience. There was also some criticism of an alleged subliminal messages in a Bush campaign ad in which the word “Democrats” morphed into “rats” for a split-second. Bush immediately pulled the ads, and continued to display his people skills. “What Bush does with people is establish a direct, personal connection,” wrote reporter Nicholas Lemann in the New Yorker. Lemann claims that Bush has “a talent for establishing a jovial connection with an unusually large number of people.” The polls drew close and a series of three debates in October was expected to be decisive. Gore, portrayed as a man with more command of policies and details, was expected to win. However, Bush more than held his own, and his folksiness made Gore look stiff by comparison. In a second debate Gore was more agreeable, and the two candidates declared much common ground. However, Gore’s dramatic mood shift made him appear insincere to some voters. Bush remained adamantly “on message,” repeatedly sounding his issues of education reform, social security privatization, and tax cuts, while downplaying controversial issues such as abortion.

    And I would argue that former Commander Clueless was aided in no small part by some big-time media love in 1999-2000; how many “Bush as a regular guy” stories did we hear, as opposed to variations on this theme when it came to Gore?

    Continetti concludes, by the way, by saying that “in politics, ignorance rules.”

    Spoken like a true Republican.


  • Wednesday Mashup (9/30/09)

    September 30, 2009

    Obama_Crist

  • So it looks like Repug Florida Governor Charlie Crist, running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Mel Martinez, is trying to play to the base by claiming that President Obama will fall victim to a “Carter-esque loss” in 2012 here (recalling the loss President Carter suffered to Reagan in 1980).

    Putting aside Crist’s ridiculous attempt at political prognostication for a moment, I would say that his pronouncement (funny when you consider how Crist smartly supported Obama on the “stim” earlier this year, pictured above) has a lot more to do with this than anything else.

    This is how the Republican Party treats anyone showing any impulse for moderation whatsoever. And this is why their only possibility of electoral success lies with Democratic cowardice in the face of positions of popular support, to say nothing of failing to make the case for party causes not enjoying that support (and sadly, either prospect is always a possibility).

  • kaganohanlon31

  • Here is some spin from this New York Times article today about President Obama and his supposed communication problem with Afghanistan U.S. commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal by Times reporter Peter Baker…

    Questions about Mr. Obama’s relationship with General McChrystal have percolated for weeks, following reports that the administration delayed his troop request and kept him from testifying before Congress. “Someone has to explain what the strategy is,” said Frederick W. Kagan, a military expert at the American Enterprise Institute. “I think it’s important for the American people to hear from the commander.”

    And just as a reminder, here is “military expert” Kagan pronouncing that the Iraq civil war is over, recounted in this March 2008 post from Glenn Greenwald, even though Patrick Cockburn of The Independent reported that “a new civil war is threatening to explode in Iraq as American-backed Iraqi government forces fight Shia militiamen for control of Basra and parts of Baghdad” at very nearly the exact same time.

    So basically, I don’t think Kagan can speak with any credibility on anything related to matters of war.

    But Baker’s piece actually gets more interesting…

    Some supporters of the war said Mr. Obama had made a mistake not to consult more directly with his commander.

    “I don’t think I can defend him for being out of touch with his commander,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution (in the pic above, O’Hanlon is on the right and Kagan is at the left). “He has other people who advise him. But there’s no one else with the feel on the ground that McChrystal has.”

    See how having fewer meetings with McChrystal than Dubya did with his military people running Iraq translates to Obama being “out of touch with his commander,” according to O’Hanlon.

    Yep, that’s the same Michael O’Hanlon who (as noted here) advocated for the Iraq “surge” in the pages of the Times despite the fact that seven active duty force members wrote an Op-Ed that also appeared in the Times at about that same time saying that the surge wasn’t working.

    As Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones tells us…

    What O’Hanlon refuses to recognize is that the surge was designed to slow violence in Iraq only in service of political ends. Going on the offensive against the insurgents is fine, but it’s only an important development if Iraqi politicians seize the opening and make progress towards a reconciled nation and a functioning government. They haven’t done that. They haven’t even come close.

    Without political progress, the surge (and the military success O’Hanlon believes it is having) is just another swing in the cycle of war. We’re doing better now, but the insurgents will return with new and different tactics in a few months.

    And as Stein also notes, we lost more troops in Iraq during June-July-August of 2007 than at any other same-month period of time during the war, despite O’Hanlon’s surge cheerleading.

    On second thought, though, I suppose O’Hanlon is a subject matter expert when it comes to being “out of touch.” I hope that is the only reason why the Times would be interested in his otherwise worthless opinion.

  • 091509PimpandHo3wf

  • Finally, here is some true Fix Noise comedy on the matter of the ACORN controversy…

    The courts should vindicate the First Amendment rights of the reporters and media outlets involved in breaking the ACORN scandal wide open.

    The intrepid duo of independent reporters James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles (pictured above), working undercover, caught ACORN workers in Baltimore and other locations across the country on tape, talking about these workers’ willingness to help the undercover pair engage in tax fraud, housing fraud, prostitution, and even smuggling in underage girls from abroad to be prostitutes in a brothel that would be obtained with ACORN’s help.

    “Intrepid duo” – tee hee hee (here)…

    Well anyway, given the legitimate news story about questions surrounding the contracting of Sarah Palin’s house on Lake Lucille and the concurrently contracted Wasilla Sports Complex (here), I think the above description can be edited as follows…

    The courts should vindicate the First Amendment rights of the reporters and media outlets involved in breaking the story of alleged favors involving the construction of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s house on a two-acre site along scenic Lake Lucille in Wasilla, assessed at $532,500 (3,500 square feet with four bedrooms and four baths), wide open.

    The intrepid duo of independent reporters Wayne Barrett of The Village Voice and Huffington Post blogger Shannyn Moore reported that Palin steered contracts for the 2003 construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex before leaving office as Wasilla mayor the previous fall, in return for work building her home about the same time.

    And Just Plain Folks Sarah Palin and her team of barracudas can huff and puff all they want, but the last time I checked, the truth was always a sound defense regarding a question of libel.

    And the only ones who are alleged to have broken any laws here are “journalists” O’Keefe and Giles, as noted here.


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