Sunday, May 31, 2009


Over at Salon, they are saying:
When his show airs tomorrow, Bill O'Reilly will most certainly decry the death of Kansas doctor George Tiller, who was killed Sunday while attending church services with his wife. Tiller, O'Reilly will say, was a man who was guilty of barbaric acts, but a civilized society does not resort to lawless murder, even against its worst members. And O'Reilly, we can assume, will genuinely mean this.
I'll go further than that. O'Reilly will use the killing as a way to attack his various enemies (mostly those he calls the "far left"). He'll say that this incident has nothing to do with remarks like those he's made over the years, and that any charges against him or similar conservative pundits are unfair. That the real victims are people like him. Etc.

UPDATE: I was right.


Limbaugh is a supporter of "activist" judges:

Talk about rewriting the law. From the Sacramento Bee: (emp add)
"We have a really huge tent in California, right?" Limbaugh said on his show. "I mean, Schwarzenegger describing how to put the Republican Party together after helping destroy the state. And you know how he helped destroy the state? He fell for his own talk about big tents. If he would have just stayed the course that he was talking about when he announced his candidacy on Leno and when he had all these people out there to start his administration, when he was on the conservative path, he could have taken this by the gangbusters and maybe gotten the Supreme Court to change the Constitution so that foreigners could run for president. He had that opportunity, and he blew it big time going moderate."
U.S. Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5: (emp add)
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.


From Priests for Life:
Statement on the Killing of George Tiller

Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, issued the following statement upon hearing this morning of the killing of abortionist George Tiller:

“I am saddened to hear of the killing of George Tiller this morning. At this point, we do not know the motives of this act, or who is behind it, whether an angry post-abortive man or woman, or a misguided activist, or an enemy within the abortion industry, or a political enemy frustrated with the way Tiller has escaped prosecution. We should not jump to conclusions or rush to judgment.

“But whatever the motives, we at Priests for Life continue to insist on a culture in which violence is never seen as the solution to any problem. Every life has to be protected, without regard to their age or views or actions.”
Interesting list. Three (*) out of the four put the onus on something outside the formal anti-abortion movement.
  1. * an angry post-abortive man or woman
  2.    a misguided activist
  3. * an enemy within the abortion industry
  4. * a political enemy frustrated with the way Tiller has escaped prosecution


Statistics class:

Balloon Juice has flagged this blog post about a possible conspiracy to help Chrysler dealers who donated to Clinton:
This puzzled us. Why would there be a significant and highly positive correlation between dealer survival and Clinton donors? Granted, that P-Value (0.125) isn’t enough to reject the null hypothesis at 95% confidence intervals (our null hypothesis being that the effect is due to random chance), but a 12.5% chance of a Type I error in rejecting a null hypothesis (false rejection of a true hypothesis) is at least eyebrow raising. Most statistians would not call this a “find” as 95% confidence intervals are the gold standard for this sort of work. Nevertheless, it seems clear that something is going on here. Specifically, the somewhat low probability that the Clinton data showing higher survivability of Clinton donors could result just from pure chance. But why not better significance with any of the other variables? Why this stand out?
What's that all about, you might ask. Well, it turns out that Wikipedia's entry for p-value contains an example with almost the same value (.115). Turns out .125 isn't all that remarkable at all.


Relax, it's not a problem:

In light of Gordon Liddy's excellent observation:
"Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when [Sotomayor]'s menstruating or something, or just before she's going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then."
The question naturally arises:
Would a menstruating Supreme Court Justice trigger an attack by bears?
Because we don't want to see bears, enticed by the scent, entering the chamber and taking a bite out of Sotomayer and then going on to nosh on the more senior members. That would be a travesty (although it would allow Obama to replace some conservative justices, but this blog's high-minded approach won't entertain such a scenario).

Fortunately, studies have been performed to test the hypothesis that bears are attracted to the odors of menstruation, and the result are reassuring:
  • Grizzly Bears - "no evidence linking menstruation to any of the attacks"
  • Black Bears - "Menstrual odors were essentially ignored by black bears of all sex and age classes. In an extensive review of black bear attacks across North America, no instances of black bears attacking or being attracted to menstruating women was found"
  • Polar Bears - "polar bears are attracted to odors associated with menstrual blood"
The only possible threat comes from polar bears, but this nation is blessed. There are no free-ranging polar bears near Washington D.C., which completely rules out a bear-attack on the Supreme Court. This nation can all breathe a sigh of relief.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Go figure:

The Conservapedia entry for Sotomayer is not uniformly negative. For example, they have this in the section on abortion:
  • In a 2007 case, she strongly criticized colleagues on the court who said that only women, and not their husbands, could seek asylum based on China’s abortion policy. “The termination of a wanted pregnancy under a coercive population control program can only be devastating to any couple, akin, no doubt, to the killing of a child,” she wrote, also taking note of “the unique biological nature of pregnancy and special reverence every civilization has accorded to child-rearing and parenthood in marriage.”

  • In a 2004 case, she sided with pro-life protesters who sued police officers for violating their constitutional rights by using excessive force to break up demonstrations at an abortion clinic. Judge Sotomayor said the protesters deserved a day in court.

  • She wrote a decision against a pro-choice group in Center for Reproductive Law and Policy vs. Bush.The decision dismissed the claim of a Mexico-based organization which challenged policies requiring that foreign organizations neither perform nor promote abortions as a condition for receiving US funding.
There are a few of the familiar charges leveled against her by the right, but overall it's kind of flat-neutral in tone.


The elephant in the room:

Get ready for some blunt language.

There has been a lot of discussion about Sonia Sotomayor's remark:
“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life."
Here's how I see it. That remark by Sotomayor is the kind of statement a Latina would make if she felt there was ongoing animus against people like her. Racism, in other words.

Now as much as I think that many while males are perfectly able to reach as good a conclusion as any Latina, the fact is that hostility towards Latinos and women is still out there and in significant numbers. The Republican reaction to her nomination (and remark above) is clear evidence for that. And if it's at the level we are experiencing right now in 2009, you can be sure the racism was more pervasive in decades past - when Sotomayer was in college and later in her legal career.

What I find odd is that Sotomayor's statement is being portrayed as an homage to identity politics, instead of a reaction to long-term discrimination. And the Republican response is being portrayed as "foolish politics", instead of an indicator that this country, to a significant degree, is biased against Latinos and women.

But it appears that in this country we're not supposed to assert that racism is still a part of the social dynamic. And as a result we don't say out loud what's really going on.

To clarify. I don't like identity politics at all. That's why I'm a liberal Republican (yes, you can laugh) and not a Democrat. My initial reaction to Sotomayor's remark was that she was peddling in identity politics. But as the Republican onslaught kept going, and growing, it became clear that identity politics was too narrow an assessment. That something worse was in play, and that was racism.

CODA: Just to clear the air. I'm not a strong supporter of Sotomayer, but she'll do fine. I think she's a bit of a loudmouth and might be abrasive with colleagues on the court, but I don't really care much if Alito and Roberts find her hard to handle. My main concern with liberal justices is that they have long expected life spans.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Looking for data to prove ...

Not sure how legitimate such analysis is, but here's something to chew on: (excerpts, emp add)
Investors are finding fresh reasons to bet on an economic rebound.

Stocks rose Thursday as gains in commodities like oil and natural gas signaled that traders expect a strengthening economy will demand more energy.

A jittery first half to the day's trading follows a drop a big drop a day earlier triggered by a spike in long-term interest rates as the yield on the 10-year bond jumped to its highest rate in six months.

Traders say the fractiousness could continue as investors look for data to prove that their bets this spring on an economic recovery were correct.
Seems to describe the market perfectly. Bad data is shrugged off, good data which you look for "proves" the market rally is for real.


Excellent news in the housing market:

New-home sales up 0.3% from the previous month.

With a margin of error of ±14%.


Don't need no empathy:

It appears that "empathy" is the word of the week, with it being seen by liberals as a good thing for SC nominee Sotomayer to have, while conservatives see it as problematical. But conservatives have their own "empathy" gig as Digby points out.

Empathy is overrated, or rather, it should be excluded as much as possible from the realm of law.

Many states have, for instance, sentencing procedures where the victims of a crime are allowed to talk about how they were affected. The result is that the sentencing agent (judge or jury) is affected by the empathy the victims are able to elicit. That's ridiculously unfair. If a grouch with no friends is murdered, should the criminal have a lesser sentence than the murderer of someone with an agreeable personality and a sterling reputation?

Some people would say, "yes", and be decidedly in favor of such fine-tuning of the judicial system. They'd say that there is a real difference in value of persons, measured in part by the "empathy" meter, and is to be applied whenever appropriate in a court of law.

I don't like that. I prefer to have all people treated the same, and if there is to be any special consideration (say, for those with a hardscrabble upbringing) to have it explicitly enshrined in the law. At least that way the "empathy" is objectively written down and not subject to the vagaries of this-or-that match-up between defendant and judge.

ALSO: We've been treated to a lot of this kind of talk:
X's personal life story is one of great accomplishments and a source of inspiration.
Who are we talking about? Alito? Sotomayer? Could be both. And it is!

Does a personal life story matter when assessing a potential justice? The empirical evidence says it doesn't. But in this wacky country, still addicted to a Romantic view of the world (see Noonan et al.) you get this irrelevant talk that has no purpose other than to allow people of limited knowledge or intelligence weigh in on topics beyond their comprehension.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

California crazy:

From the California Supreme Court ruling upholding Proposition 8 (which prohibits gay marriage): (p57)
In the years following the adoption of the initiative power in 1911, numerous constitutional amendments were proposed through the initiative process, and a substantial number of significant changes to the California Constitution were adopted by that means.

It was not until 1948, in the case of McFadden v. Jordan ... that our court had occasion to address the question whether an initiative measure that sought to change the California Constitution could not be submitted to the voters because the measure did not embody a constitutional amendment but instead constituted a constitutional revision.

In McFadden ... the petitioners sought an order prohibiting the Secretary of State from submitting to the voters a proposed initiative amendment to the California Constitution that had garnered the signatures of a sufficient number of qualified electors. The proposed amendment at issue in that case was referred to popularly as the “ham and eggs” initiative, because of the varied subjects it encompassed. In describing the proposition, the court in McFadden observed: “The measure proposes to add to our present Constitution ‘a new Article to be numbered Article XXXII thereof’ and to consist of 12 separate sections (actually in the nature of separate articles) divided into some 208 subsections (actually in the nature of sections) set forth in more than 21,000 words. The Constitution as now cast, with the amendments added since its original adoption as revised in 1879, contains 25 articles divided into some 347 sections expressed in approximately 55,000 words.”

The opinion then went on to summarize the content of each of the measure’s sections, a summary that runs a full six pages in the decision in the Official Reports. ... A simple listing of the titles and a truncated summary of each of the measure’s sections provides a flavor of the varied nature and wide breadth of the proposal.

... Section II, entitled “The California Pension Commission,” named the first five commissioners to serve on the commission and established their salaries.

... Section IV, entitled “Wagering and Gaming,” contained 50 subsections related to that subject.

... Section VI, entitled “Oleomargarine,” provided that oleomargarine could not be sold in California without a license and without payment of a tax or fee.

... Section VIII, entitled “Civic Centers,” declared there to be a civic center at every public school building within the state, and granted every nonprofit and nonsectarian organization in the state formed for “political, economic, educational, or moral activities,” the right to use such a civic center without charge or fee.

... Section XI, entitled “Surface Mining,” contained nine subsections regulating surface mining in the state ...
I like that, an initiative dealing with gambling, surface mining, and oleomargarine. Unfortunately, as the court notes:
From this description of the measure at issue in McFadden... it is apparent that were such an initiative measure to be proposed today, the proposal undoubtedly would be challenged and held invalid under the “single-subject rule” now embodied in article II, section 8, subdivision (d).
Damn, can't do that no more.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009


When Bill Clinton picked Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Supreme Court, I was vexed because at age 60, it meant she'd spend substantially less time on the bench than other candidates (pace Thomas et al). More frequent turnover of "liberal" justices means a particular seat can be captured should a resignation or death occur while a Republican is president. And it almost happened a year or two ago.

Now Barack Obama has picked Sonia Sotomayor to replace Souter. And I'm vexed once again. That's she's 54 year old is a good aspect, but I wonder about the life expectancy given that she's been diagnosed with Type I diabetes since age eight. Reports vary considerably, with estimates of a life shortened by anything between 15 and 0 years (much depends on treatment and improvements in drugs). So maybe it won't be a factor.

But I remain vexed.


Monday, May 25, 2009

The Weekly Standard makes the case "for" heterosexual marriage:

This from an essay defending traditional marriage:
"Every day thousands of ordinary heterosexual men surrender the dream of gratifying our immediate erotic desires. Instead, heroically, resignedly, we march up the aisle with our new brides, starting out upon ... the longest journey, attired in the chains of the kinship system ..."
Wow! How can you resist when it's portrayed that way?


UPDATE 2: The author of the Weelky Standard essay, Sam Schulman, also wrote this:
It is a truism that many married people feel little sexual or romantic attraction to each other--perhaps because they have been married too long, or perhaps, as some men have always claimed, because the death of sexual desire is coincident with the wedding ceremony. ("All comedies are ended by a marriage," Byron wittily and sadly remarked.) Many people--in ages past, certainly most people--have married for reasons other than sexual or romantic attraction. So what? I could marry a woman I did not love, a woman I did not feel sexually attracted to or want to sleep with, and our marriage would still be a marriage, not just legally but in its essence.
That's cold.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Forget the "pussy" angle, there's something more serious here:

That web-ad produced by the Republican National Committee has lots of people talking. Talking about the comparison of Nancy Pelosi with the Pussy Galore character from a James Bond film. Yeah, that's sleazy.

But what disturbs is the opening sequence where Pelosi is shown at the business end of a rifled gun barrel. Which then turns to red.

"Sophisticates" know that in the Bond film this means that 007 managed to get a shot at the potential assassin. But the fact remains that the RNC put out an ad that had as one of its graphic elements, Nancy Pelosi as a target for murder.

Look for David Broder to write a fiery column this week denouncing such unpleasantness.


Broder on demagoguery:

David Broder, writing about the speeches given last week by Obama and Cheney, said that it was
... two men arguing vital issues without the kind of disguised demagoguery that cheapens too many campaigns.
Here are some of the things Cheney said in his speech:
  • [The New York Times] impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn't serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.
  • ... we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative.
  • ... few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods ...
  • ... people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about "values."
  • ... to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims.
  • ... to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness ...
  • [There was an] overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations ...
  • The administration has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo.
  • Here we have ruthless enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the movies.
  • ... seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized.
  • For all that we've lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings.
Nope, no demagoguery there at all.


Friday, May 22, 2009

A Gingrich groupie, and Gingrich is wrong:

First, the paean to Gingrich by Rick Moran:
I’m absolutely convinced Newt Gingrich would love to be president. But every time he starts making noises like a candidate, he seems to back off as if remembering his sky high negatives and problematic personal life.

This is a shame because if ever we needed an idea man in the White House - someone who could grasp the essentials of a problem and offer a solution (some more viable than others), it is the former speaker, public intellectual, and I believe, the primary carrier of the Reagan legacy today.

Listening to Gingrich speak is a treat for the mind and his columns are equally thought provoking. His latest points up something that many in the MSM and pundit class are ignoring; that the vote in California rejecting tax increases was, at bottom, a vote against the political establishment and a victory for the grass roots:
Okay, enough of that.

But what about Gingrich's column in the Washington Post on the California initiatives that has Moran so excited? Here are some excerpts:
Five taxing and spending measures were rejected by 62.6 to 66.4 percent of the voters.

Sacramento politicians will now reject the voters' call for lower taxes and less spending and embrace the union-lobbyist-bureaucrat machine that is running California into the ground, crippling its economy and cheating residents.
Five initiatives failed (1A 1B 1C 1D 1E) but to characterize them all as "taxing and spending measures" is dishonest.

While they were solidly rejected, the one that was rejected the most was 1E (66.4%), which would have reduced services to the mentally ill by transferring money from a special tax to the general fund.

Close behind, and within a hair of being the second most rejected initiative was 1D (65.8%), which would have reduced the budget for the California Children and Families Program by transferring money from a special tax to the general fund.

You can argue that Californians don't like taxes, but you cannot say that Californians are opposed to spending, because otherwise they would have voted Yes on initiatives 1D and 1E. Californians voted to keep two benefits programs intact. This is what Gingrich doesn't tell you.

Clearly, the state has to come to terms with its conflicting wishes, but Gingrich cannot argue, based on the election results, that Californians are currently opposed to spending on programs for the poor and unfortunate.


From Cheney's speech:

This didn't get much coverage:
"You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States."
What's the situation these days with nuclear-armed terrorists? How many nuclear-armed terrorists are out there? How many nukes do they have? What kind of nukes? Why haven't they detonated at least one bomb somewhere in the world, to show they mean business, in the last ten years? Etc.


Rush Limbaugh doesn't believe in evolution:

Like the guy at Little Green Footballs, I've wondered if Limbaugh ever staked out a position on evolution. We know Limbaugh is dismissive of global warming claims, but he's generally been cagey on other science topics. But now the LGF dude caught this by Limbaugh: (emp add)
Drudge had as a lead item up there this morning on his page a story from the UK, Sky News:
"Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution."
It's all about how Darwin would be thrilled to be alive today.
"Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilised skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution."
It's a one-foot, nine-inch-tall monkey, and it's a lemur monkey described as the eighth wonder of the world.
"The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years - but it was presented to the world today --"
So I guess this is settled science. We now officially came from a monkey, 47 million years ago.

Well, that's how it's being presented here. It's settled science. You know, this is all BS, as far as I'm concerned. Cross species evolution, I don't think anybody's ever proven that. They're going out of their way now to establish evolution as a mechanism for creation, which, of course, you can't do ...
This is a good data point to remember.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Shorter Obama vs Cheney:

We must honor the rule of law.
To hell with that.


No royal courtier could have been more unctuous or more fawning:

Bill Kristol on Cheney:
Cheney's is the speech of a grownup, of a chief executive, of a statesman. He's sober, realistic and concrete, stands up for his country and its public officials, and has an acute awareness of the consequences of the choices one makes as a public official and a willingness to take responsibility for those choices.


Becoming more obvious with each day:

John Cole notes:
... what is really weird is that [Republicans] seem to have just given up any pretense that Bush was anything other than an empty suit. Between Dick’s multiple pronouncements, his really odd response on MTP in which he said “I guess the President had been briefed,” and stunts like this speech today, Cheney is basically telling you who the HMFIC for the last eight years was, and he wasn’t a legacy frat boy from Connecticut.


The key point at issue:

From Cheney's speech (full transcript here): (emp add)
So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.
Readers of this blog know where I stand. In terms of severity, it was a one-time event ("one-off" is a Britishism that I'm not fond of). I'm surprised that Cheney even mentioned it, because the notion of uniqueness of the attack is very rarely mentioned anywhere.

There are compelling reasons for that view. The weapons used, large jet planes, were not owned by al-Qaeda. They were stolen by exploiting a (now closed) vulnerability (cockpit cabin doors). There was nothing else in al-Qaeda's arsenal. al-Qaeda should have been targeted for capture or destruction, but the Cheney-approved hysteria was completely disproportionate to the threat. And Iraq was of no significance vis-a-vis al-Qaeda.

UPDATE: Joe Klein sees the "one-off" category as a binary-choice rhetorical trick that he's not going to be swept up in:
... the notion that those who oppose his policies saw 9/11 as a "one-off"--Cheney proceeded to mischaracterize, oversimplify and distort the views of those who saw his policies as extreme and unconstitutional ...
Apparently, Klein saw (an sees) al-Qaeda as a reallybigthreat but didn't want to do torture or invade bystander countries.


Based on perception, not reality:

When I read this headline/teaser
April leading indicators rise; recession to ease

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The recession will be less intense in the near term, and there could even be small growth in the second half of the year, the Conference Board said Thursday.
I was pretty sure it was due to the stock market since just about every other metric has been negative or weakly positive. Sure enough, the report said: (emp add)
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The recession will be less intense in the near term, and there could even be small growth in the second half of the year, the Conference Board said Thursday. The index of leading economic indicators rose 1% in April - the first increase in seven months -- following a revised dip of 0.2% in March. "The question is how long before declines in activity give way to small increases. If the indicators continue on the current track, that point might be reached in the second half of the year," said Ken Goldstein, economist at the Conference Board. Of the 10 indicators that comprise the index, seven rose in April, with the largest positive contribution from stock prices. The largest negative contribution came from the real money supply.
UPDATE: Justin Fox notes:
... three of the seven positive readings this month (stock prices, the interest rate spread, and the index of consumer expectations) were about sentiment as much as reality, and a fourth was average weekly jobless claims, where after an encouraging month the trend may now be shifting back in the wrong direction


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Geithner: bought and paid for by the banks

In the news:
“In general, our objective will be to sell these warrants as quickly as we can,” Geithner told the Senate Banking Committee today. “What I’m reluctant to do is have the government be in a position where we hold these investments for a long period of time, longer than is desirable, in the hopes that we’re going to maximize value.”
Way to go Tim. You always get the best deal when you lay your cards face up on the table and tell what you plan to do and when you will do it.

Also, "as quickly as we can" ≠ "longer than desirable".


Established Men:

Hmm. Interesting concept.

Welcome to a brand new service catering to ambitious and attractive girls seeking successful and generous benefactors to fulfill their lifestyle needs.

What is an Established Man

Are you a wealthy and successful man who is looking for a woman who can stimulate you mentally and physically?

What is a Perfect Princess?

Are you an attractive, sophisticated, ambitious young woman interested in the finer things in life?
Found at the Calculated Risk blog!


Ireland is "a country grown weary of revelations about child molestation by priests"

Yeah, that's bound to happen after a while.


Limbaugh - Powell battle heats up:

Powell said:
"Rush Limbaugh says, 'Get out of the Republican Party.' Dick Cheney says, 'He's already out.' I may be out of their version of the Republican Party, but there's another version of the Republican Party waiting to emerge once again."
Limbaugh responds: (emp add)
"The version of the party that he's waiting to emerge is not the Reagan wing of the party. Does Powell have the pulse of the Republican Party, folks? He's for more spending. He's for higher taxes. He's against raising the social issues. He's for affirmative action. He's for amnesty for illegals. He endorsed Obama.

"And now there's an agenda -- an emerging agenda -- that he's waiting for for the Republican Party? The only thing emerging here is Colin Powell's ego. Colin Powell represents the stale, the old, the worn-out GOP that never won anything. The party of Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Bill Scranton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and those types of people. Has anybody heard Colin Powell say a single word against Obama's radicalism -- or Pelosi or Reid, for that matter? Maybe he has but his fawning media sure hasn't reported if he has said it."
This split between the "Limbaugh camp" and the "Powell camp" makes you wonder if the moderates will throw in the towel and cozy up to Democrats, many who are quite conservative on specific issues.


Monday, May 18, 2009

"It may not happen until ..."

1) Byron York interviews Republican strategist John Weaver who says:
"If it's 2012 and our party is defined by Palin and Limbaugh and Cheney, then we're headed for a blowout"
2) Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard blog, takes issue with the notion that "the GOP is outside the mainstream" and writes:
It takes a while for the public to catch up. When they do - and it may not happen until 2016 - they'll go looking for someone who, in all likelihood, opposed the stimulus, cap-and-trade, and ObamaCare. He (or she!) won't be a moderate ...
Until 2016!

TRANSLATION: To hell with moderate Republicans. We will gladly lose until, well, until whenever.

It's classic failed revolutionary talk.



Think Progress reports:
Rep. Tom Price: ‘It’s Not Up To Rush Limbaugh To Decide Who Ought To Be In The Republican Party’

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe today and publicly distanced himself from Rush Limbaugh’s version of the Republican party. Price said that “it’s not up to Rush Limbaugh to decide who ought to be in the Republican Party” and such exclusivity is “counterproductive.” He also said that Vice President Cheney was wrong in saying that Limbaugh is a better Republican than former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
What Think Progress doesn't note is that Tom Price is from Georgia's 6th congressional district, a seat that was represented by Newt Gingrich. Also:
The 6th is Georgia's most affluent and educated district. 51% of residents in the district have at least a Bachelor's Degree.

The residents in this district are largely white, very affluent, well-educated, and overwhelmingly Republican with fiscal conservatism being by far the most salient feature. The district is largely a suburban bedroom community for those who commute to downtown Atlanta.
UPDATE: Limbaugh goes after Price for his remarks on Scarborough.


But what about ...

In the news:
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley applied to repay the combined $45 billion they received in October from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, said people familiar with the matter.
But what about the money funneled to them via AIG? Payments "at par" (100 cents on the dollar) even though the contracts were trading at substantial discounts and could have been settled for much less.

We're supposed to forget that.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Children's Crusade:

After reading those bible quotes in Rumsfeld's reports to the president, I would think that many, perhaps most, Christians would be offended by such usage. But what do I know?

UPDATE: Interesting comment at ABC's The Note:
But what bothers me even more at an intellectual level is this sense of marketing strategy that lies behind these reports. What on earth do they need slogans for or graphics (beyond the normal graphs and charts)? Are not the officials of our government grown up and intellectually developed enough to make decisions without all the stupid bells and whistles you'd find on, say, an issue of GQ? Good lord. This just seems like a bubble-headed waste of time and money and the work of people who can't defend their thesis with a logical argument. My god, if I turned in my college thesis with a graphic and a biblical slogan unrelated to the material on the front, I would have been laughed out of my seminar. These are intelligence reports not marketing brochures. Hopefully with the change of administration we have some grownups in office who don't need pretty pictures to help them digest potentially dry information.


Shorter George Will:
We should abolish anti-gouging laws so that the next time there is a flood or hurricane or tornado, those greedy merchants charging super-high prices for water and batteries will be punished - because that's what happens in highly fluid bid-markets where many individuals post asking prices for college football tickets.
Sorry it wasn't shorter, but that's how it is.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cheney just won't shut up:

According to William Kristol:
Cheney [will give] a speech this week in which he'll lay out the case for the surveillance, detention, and interrogation policies of the Bush administration in the war against terror.
Why is Cheney sitting down for interviews or giving speeches? It's inefficient. Fox News Channel should give him a show.



Bill Kristol writes:
What will Republican chances be in 2012 if voters don’t remember the Bush administration–however problematic in other areas–as successful in defending the country after 9/11?
Except for 9/11, it's a great record.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Gingrich's expanding vocabulary:

Today, speaking about Pelosi, Gingrich said: (emp add)
“I think this is the most despicable, dishonest and vicious political effort I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

“She is a trivial politician, viciously using partisanship for the narrowist of purposes, and she dishonors the Congress by her behavior.”
Those words,
  • despicable
  • dishonest
  • vicious
  • trivial
  • dishonors
are not in the famous 1996 Gingrich GOPAC memo that presented 64 negative words to "apply to the opponent".

That's Newt for you, the Republicans' intellectual; learning new words and putting them to good use.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Republicans disappoint:

Their rebranding of the Democratic Party as the Democrat Socialist Party was not their best effort. They should have gone for:
Demo stinky-pants, I Know You Are but What Am I?, elephant butt hair, Cheater Cheater apple eater, Isamo-Socialist Party
Or something along those lines.


Allahpundit at the right-wing Hot Air blog:
Stupid: RNC to pass resolution rebranding Democrats the “Democrat Socialist Party”

Just the sort of smart, sober gesture we need to convince Americans of the party’s new seriousness of purpose. Even Michael Steele — Michael Steele — sees the publicity trainwreck a-comin’, although he’s powerless to stop it.

Oh well. The base will love it, and that’s all that matters.

More than anything, this reeks of impotence, operating almost as a concession that the right’s argument on the merits that the left is evolving towards socialism isn’t working to shift public opinion. So now they’re going to up the ante by trying the hard sell: Just repeat “socialism” as much as possible to try to drive it into people’s skulls, never minding the fact that that term’s already lost some of its taboo and might well lose more as it goes further mainstream. Or at least, I hope that’s the GOP strategy here. The alternative, that they’re simply sticking their fingers in their ears and repeating “socialist” over and over out of spite like a five-year-old, is too depressing to contemplate. What’s next, a formal resolution declaring french fries “freedom fries” in the Republican Party henceforth and forevermore?
Rest assured, freedom fries will be served at Tea Party 2.0


Lindsey Graham is right:

... one of the reasons these [torture] techniques have survived for about 500 years is apparently they work.
They sure do! No doubt about it.


If this actually happens, what will David Broder say?
... when the RNC meets in an extraordinary special session next week, it will approve a resolution rebranding Democrats as the “Democrat Socialist Party.”

... Two other resolutions — to urge Republican lawmakers to reject earmarks and to commend them for opposing “bailouts and reckless spending bills” — are also on the agenda ...
Where is the bipartisanship? The Dean must surely be disappointed. Look for a column slamming the Republicans any day now.


This should help Detroit:
Reports: GM to sell China-built cars in U.S.

... If true, GM could end up becoming the first automaker to begin exporting to the U.S. from China. Previously announced plans by Chinese manufacturers to crack the U.S. market have so far fizzled. ...

Opting to export from China would help the company, now surviving on $15.4 billion in federal loans, to slash production costs ...
Don't see any downside at all. It's the perfect solution.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting there?

This blog's post on 19 January:
Will Limbaugh stumble?

This morning Limbaugh was talking about Obama and in doing so, brought in a lot of racial language and politics. Stuff like, "We're being told we have to support this guy because his father was black." And he also mentioned some other black dude who was saying that since Obama didn't have "slave blood" that this country hasn't truly gotten over its racist heritage. There was no overriding point to all that Limbautg said (at least to my ears), but race was the topic du jour.

Maybe this is just a one-day affair, but if Limbaugh makes race the nexus of his show, he may very well go too far one day and get into hot water. Really hot.
On 11 May, Limbaugh said this:
"In the Oval Office of the White House none of this is a problem. This is the objective. The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state. And the objective is to take the nation’s wealth and return to it to the nation’s quote, “rightful owners.” Think reparations. Think forced reparations here if you want to understand what actually is going on."


The best part of John Yoo's Philadelphia Inquirer column is this:
With large majorities at his back, FDR pushed through sweeping legislative efforts to end the Great Depression (which never really worked).
Yoo's essay was mostly about the Supreme Court and pending replacements. He didn't have to opine on the New Deal. But he did. And to a viewpoint that is contrary to the evidence and judgment of historians.

Yoo reminds me of a particular kind of religious person. In a discussion about something-or-another they hew to the topic at hand, but eventually they can't hold it in and have to tell you that Jesus saves. This isn't a slam on Christians. They are ideological, and that's their right.

Looking at Yoo (and others) one has to conclude that the Republican party is strongly ideological as well. But political parties have to be empirical and pragmatic to survive. Republicans appear to be headed for marginalization as long as they cling to an invented and fictional view of the world.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Wanda Sykes' mistake:

This appears to be a defense of Sykes' routine over the weekend:
... Sykes' joke, while obviously pushing the envelope, is hardly more outrageous than the typical daily edition of her intended target. I had an idea for how to drive this point home, but Adam Serwer beat me to it.
Wanda Sykes' comedy routine at the White House Correspondent's Dinner was really offensive. In it, Sykes suggested that conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is supported by Hamas, and that Islamists are "constantly issuing Limbaugh talking points". She joked about terrorists supporting conservatives in general, suggesting that recent violent events in Iraq are attempts by terrorists to swing the upcoming midterm elections in favor of Republicans.

Then she got really personal. She joked that Limbaugh was a racist who doesn't want black people to "escap[e] the underclass". She accused him of being responsible for killing "a million babies a year", and aired her friend's theory that Limbaugh himself was a terrorist attack," a followup to 9/11. She also, most disgustingly, said that if conservatives kept apologizing to Limbaugh, they'd eventually contract "anal poisoning." She wondered when Republicans would finally stop "bending over and grabbing their ankles" for Limbaugh, and finally concluded that Limbaugh was just a "bad guy".
The punch line, of course, is that Sykes didn't say any of these things. They're all comments from Limbaugh, directed at the president or his party in the past year.
Yes, they're all comments from Limbaugh, but Limbaugh didn't say them at a White House Correspondents Association dinner.

Venue matters. Sykes chose an inappropriate forum to play the anti-Limbaugh. Also, the comedy was third-rate. Sykes could have quoted Limbaugh (e.g. "torture at Abu Ghraib is just like fraternity pranks") and then turned them on Rush ("I know of a special frat-house in Baghdad that Limbaugh should join"). Instead, it was pure personal attack. Sykes is not smart.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Coverage of the economy:

In the last couple of days we've been treated to many reports about the unemployment rate. One striking aspect was how frequently people were being told that unemployment is a lagging indicator and that it doesn't mean much in terms of predicting the future. That an upturn/recovery could be just around the corner, no matter what U3 or U6 happens to be this month. News outlets were dismissing the unemployment rate figures so much that you began to wonder why they even bothered reporting it at all.


According to a Republican-approved "scientist", God doesn't like the Carteret Islands:

1) Sen. Inhofe Lists Creationists as Prominent Scientists in Global Warming Report:
A Southern Baptist creationist without a college degree is listed as one of the 700 prominent scientists who object to the statement that the scientific community has reached a consensus about man-made global warming.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) issued a report that said, “Over 700 dissenting scientists … from around the globe challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore.” ...

One of the listed prominent scientists is Chris Allen, who holds no college degree, believes in creationism and belongs to a Southern Baptist church.

Allen is a weatherman at the FOX-affiliated TV station in Bowling Green, Ky. ...

[A post on Allens' blog read:] “My biggest argument against putting the primary blame on humans for climate change is that it completely takes God out of the picture,” he wrote on Feb. 7, 2007.

“It must have slipped these people's minds that God created the heavens and the earth and has control over what's going on. ... Do you honestly believe God would allow humans to destroy the earth He created?
2) In the news: (Kevin Drum summarizes)
The residents of the Carteret Islands have finally lost their long battle with global warming. Sea levels have been rising for decades, crops no longer grow, and they're now left with no choice but to get out.


George Stephanopoulos' Bottom Line:
Stress Test Result: No Bank Bailout II

Here's the bottom line on today's stress test results: Team Obama will not have to come back to Congress for more TARP money this year.

In fact, with at least $25-billion in paybacks from JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and others, the TARP fund could actually grow in coming weeks.

That clears the congressional decks for the rest of the Obama agenda -- especially health care.
That is a very superficial reading of the situation. But not to worry, tomorrow, to help us all understand what's going on, ABC's This Week will have at the roundtable:
  • George Will
  • Cokie Roberts
  • Sam Donaldson
  • former Labor Secretary Robert Reich
Stephanopoulos typically calls a roudtable with the first three individuals a "Classic" roundtable, so it's probably going to be extra-special-good. Plan on hearing George Will talk about Toyota losing lots of money with the Prius (those stupid Japanese auto manufacturers!) and Cokie Roberts to opine that something is "interesting".


Looking at House votes:

At HuffPo, there's this:
Obama Makes Push For Credit Card Legislation

Obama has prominently lobbied for a bill calling for a credit card crackdown. It already has cleared the House and awaits action in the Senate. ...

The bill's boosters are tapping into public anger over corporate excesses and the conduct of companies receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer money.

The House measure, called the Credit Card Holders' Bill of Rights, passed on a bipartisan vote of 357-70 following lobbying by the Obama administration. It would prohibit so-called double-cycle billing and retroactive rate hikes and would prevent companies from giving credit cards to anyone under 18.
How did that vote go? Like this:
Who was that Democrat? Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota. And what goes on in that state?
The service industry is the largest economic contributor in South Dakota. This sector includes the retail, finance, and health care industries. Citibank, which was the largest bank holding company in the United States at one time, established national banking operations in South Dakota in 1981 to take advantage of favorable banking regulations.


Friday, May 08, 2009

Why am I not surprised about this:
The Federal Reserve at the last minute significantly scaled back the size of the capital hole facing some of the nation's biggest banks, following days of intense bargaining over the stringency of the stress tests.
When the Fed last month informed banks of its preliminary stress-test findings, executives at banks including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. were furious ...
It's all about appearances. Always has been. Always will be.


You can take this to the bank!

From the NYT:
“The results off the stress tests should put to rest the harmful speculation we have seen over the past few months,” declared Edward L. Yingling, president of the American Bankers Association, hours before the results were even made public.
Okay then. No more harmful speculation is warranted. That's a relief.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Meaningless precision:

From Bloomberg:
The Federal Reserve determined that 10 U.S. banks need to raise a total of $74.6 billion in capital, concluding its unprecedented probe of the health of the nation’s 19 largest lenders.

The results showed that losses at the banks under ‘more adverse” economic conditions than most economists anticipate could total $599.2 billion over two years.
Got that? Not $600 billion, but $599.2 billion.

Phew! Just got under.


Joe the Plumber walks away from easy money:

In the news:
Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, tells TIME he's so outraged by GOP overspending, he's quitting the party ...
It's not clear exactly what he's looking for since he doesn't want to see cuts in "Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid", so his move may be based on (yet to be clarified) principles.

But whatever you can say about the guy, he got a ton of recognition and, presumably, opportunities to make money giving speeches or with a (well ghost-written) book. Conservatives and many Republicans were delighted to use him as a totem for everyman. And now he's saying he doesn't want to be a part of that.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

George Will repeats himself, the second time in the august pages of the Washington Post:

Last Sunday, as reported by Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly: (emp add)
Over the weekend, ABC's "This Week" briefly covered the president's latest White House press conference. The show featured a clip from Obama in which he said, "I know that if the Japanese can design an affordable, well-designed hybrid, then doggone it, the American people should be able to do the same. So my job is to ask the auto industry, 'Why is it you guys can't do this?'"

George Will was unimpressed.
"I assume the president is talking about the Prius. It's affordable because Toyota sells it at a loss, and it can afford to sell it at a loss because it is selling twice as many gas-guzzling pickup trucks of the sort our president detests. So as an auto executive, he's off to a rocky start."
Actually, the only thing "rocky" here is the quality of Will's analysis.

In reality, Toyota used to sell hybrids at a loss -- in 1997. The industry and consumer trends have changed considerably over the last 12 years, and Toyota started making a profit on each Prius sold way back in 2001.

Indeed, reader R.H. directed me to this item, which noted, "[T]he Nikkei newspaper in Japan estimated just last week that both Honda and Toyota make over $3,000 of profit on each hybrid sold."
George Will in the Post Thursday, May 7:
[Obama] says: "If the Japanese can design [an] affordable, well-designed hybrid, then, doggone it, the American people should be able to do the same." Yes they can -- if the American manufacturer can do what Toyota does with the Prius: Sell its hybrid without significant, if any, profit and sustain this practice, as Toyota does, by selling about twice as many of the gas-thirsty pickup trucks that the president thinks are destroying the planet.
Wow!     This guy never quits.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Crony capitalism defined:



Is Pakistan about to become a really big story?

Getting some vibes that we may see major worries from that part of the globe in the next eight weeks.


Sunday, May 03, 2009

News to me:

The way the website The FOX Nation appears to work is that they basically provide short headline-summaries to stories running on other (very right wing) websites (e.g. World Net Daily, Newsbusters). But FOX Nation does provide a comment thread for the links. For one story, Why Does NBC News Attack Average Americans?, there was this comment:
They [NBC] are in bed with the Chicago thugs [aka Obama]. WAKE UP AMERICA - I was listening to the Michael Slaughter radio show and our government during the Swine Flu Crisis tabled a bill (HJResolution 1) that will amend the Constitution on removing term limits on the Presidency. You can't trust the left wing media or the left wing Democrates.

WAKE UP AMERICA - The census takers (Federal Government) are taking GPS readings at your front door. This is scary. Next will come the micro chip in your body.
This comment, like many others at FOX News, appears to be serious. Without a doubt, we are witnessing The Paranoid Style in American Politics.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

George Will is wrong, #427:

In a slam at California, Will writes about the state's current fiscal woes:
Liberal orthodoxy has made the state dependent on a volatile source of revenue -- high income tax rates on the wealthy. In 2006, the top 1 percent of earners paid 48 percent of the income taxes. California's income and sales taxes are among the nation's highest ...
It was the conservative-advocated Proposition 13 of 1978 that severely reduced taxes on property (which is a wealth tax, much less subject to economic rhythms). That's what has put California in the situation where its taxation is pro-cyclical, meaning that when times are bad, the state suffers just as much if not more so.

The sharp reduction in property taxes was not something "liberal orthodoxy" ever supported. George Will is wrong.

UPDATE: From the comment thread:
Will is flat out lying, and he knows it. He says "Liberal orthodoxy has made the state dependent on a volatile source of revenue -- high income tax rates on the wealthy." California's real problem is Proposition 13, which has for three decades produced artificially low property tax rates. Proposition 13 -- championed by conservatives -- is why the state is dependent on more volatile income taxes. Will doesn't even mention Prop 13, which makes this whole column, like every other column he has written on the subject, utter garbage.
5/3/2009 1:11:21 AM


Friday, May 01, 2009

Suggestion of the day:

At Balloon Juice there's this:
[Josh Marshall @ TPM] notes that many are saying that the retirement of Justice Souter, like all other earthly events, is good news for Republicans. I expect to hear the phrase “a chance to get their mojo back” a lot over the next few weeks.
Why stop at Souter? Scalia should be urged, by Republicans, to exit the court because then conservatives would be really charged-up.