Monthly Archives: July 2011

“It’s not the Norweigans who are doing this . . . “

Shep found  this 2010 jewel in the wayback machine. Such good times.

Dear elvis, look how Obama has spent all our money!

In an earlier post, kitchenmudge asked if this nation ever had a balanced budget. I don’t know, but this post says the last time we did it was 1957.  He has some nice clean tables there. In this one, note that the deficit went down every one of  Clinton’s 8 years in office and it went up in 7 of 8 years of George Bush. Say no more.

 

And this is a good summary of historic trends in our debt; it sounds like any law demanding a balanced budget would preclude our ability to go to war since wars are always fought on borrowed money. I’ve faulted GW Bush for that, but the real problem was that he simultaneously implemented huge tax cuts.

The United States has had public debt since its inception. Debts incurred during the American Revolutionary War and under the Articles of Confederation led to the first yearly reported value of $75,463,476.52 on January 1, 1791. From 1796 to 1811 there were 14 surpluses and only 2 deficits. The first dramatic growth spurt of the debt occurred because of the War of 1812. In the first 20 years following the War of 1812, 18 surpluses were experienced and the US paid off 99.97% of its debt.

The second dramatic growth spurt of the debt occurred because of the Civil War. The debt was just $65 million in 1860, but passed $1 billion in 1863 and had reached $2.7 billion following the war. In the following 47 years America returned to the practice of running surpluses during times of peace experiencing 36 surpluses and only 11 deficits. During this period 55% of the US national debt was paid off.

The next period of major growth in debt came during WWI reaching $25.5 billion at its conclusion. It was followed by 11 straight surpluses and saw the debt reduced by 36%.

 

Friday oldie

This is his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (which was still on the air in 1966!). Listen to Sullivan and then go to 1:12 in for the definitive James Brown.

Can’t we all just get along?

I’m losing faith in the ‘Obama plays a long game’ theory. (h/t mac who brought this up today )

Gotta admit though, the Pentagon is about to deep-six DADT and that didn’t happen by executive order. Obama suffered the slings and arrows that descended on him when he didn’t just do it on January 21, 2009. He allowed the process to work until the support was broader. I suppose that’s that is playing  a long game.

Anyway, Tom Tomorrow nails it –  this is how Democrats see things today – click to enlarge.

‘The fighting mice’ – good one.

Please sir?

John Caruso at A Tiny Revolution is not impressed by the liberal threats against Obama. (Tracks nicely with one of my own favorite themes – the inept articulation and failure by the Democrats to deliver a message.

You’ve got to love the first three words of this article title:”Don’t You Dare: Obama Peddles Worst of GOP Thinking on Medicare”. Don’t you dare…or what, exactly? What’s the credible threat from Democrat-voting liberals that’s supposed to make Obama think twice about “peddling the worst of GOP thinking”?

Don’t you dare, or ___:

  • we’ll vote for you again—but with slightly less enthusiasm!
  • we’ll think about running a primary challenge against you! Not that we will, of course, but don’t you imagine for a second we won’t think about it.
  • we’ll publish even more articles telling you not to dare!
  • grrrrrrrrrr. See how mad we are? Grr!

The fightin’ mice of the 122nd Democratic regulars, ladies and gentlemen, girding themselves for yet another round of menacing squeaks.

STICKERLESS: Thanks to commenter Chatham for pointing out the futility of pitting satire against liberal reality, via this Tom Hayden quote: “I’ll support Obama down the road against Sarah Palin, Lou Dobbs or any of the pitchfork carriers for the pre-Obama era. But no bumper sticker until the withdrawal strategy is fully carried out.”

That’ll show ‘im alright!

Information overload

Too much happening; my brain just broke. Perhaps I need to see some movies.

So . . . unbloggy.

English as a first language. Yeah.

Benjamine, of course, was Ben’s shy sister.

The phony balanced budget jibber-jabber

Everytime I visit Bruce Bartlett ‘s blog, Capital Gains and Games, I learn such interesting things. Like this:
Next week, House Republicans plan to debate a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. . .  In fact, it’s just more political theater designed to delight the Tea Party.
Historically, those supporting a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution were only interested in balance per se. That is, requiring that revenues and expenditures be as close to equal as possible. The view was that if the states – almost all of which are required to balance their budgets annually – could do it then so could the federal government.
One problem is that the states don’t really balance their budgets. All have separate operating and capital budgets and only the operating budget is required to be balanced. By contrast, the federal budget lumps together operating and capital expenses, such as roads and buildings that will last for decades. Moreover, the states are notorious for using gimmicks to give the appearance of budget balance even though they run deficits. . . .  If Republicans were really serious about putting a balanced budget amendment into the Constitution they would . . .  held weeks of hearings with such experts and planned many more weeks of floor debate. GOP think tanks would have been urged to hold conferences and publish studies of the proposed amendment.
None of this was done, of course, leaving the inescapable conclusion that this is nothing but a political ploy designed solely to appeal to the GOP’s Tea Party wing. The time wasted debating a balanced budget amendment would be better spent taking care of the House’s long list of unfinished business, such as passing appropriations bills.

Bet you could use a laugh

Busy day, but even with distraction I can’t shake a deepening gloom that’s closing in as I watch the fourth graders in Washington ‘dealing’ with the country’s finances.

Let us share a laugh – starts at 1:00 in:

FOX News screenshot – just like the New York Post

They all got the memo.

Follow the red arrow to find the News Corp hacking story.

 

So how is News Corp’s other New York paper handling it?

It’s easy, just ignore it. Front page today:

Anybody told the WSJ yet that the head of Scotland Yard just resiged?

So the WSJ editorial page was/is/always will be conservative. They embraced neoconservativism. They loved them some wars. They embraced ‘trickle down’ and ‘supply side’ economics, and they embraced some of the wackiest Republican office seekers in a century.

But they were still part of a great paper, full of real journalists who have to read this today.

News and Its Critics
A tabloid’s excesses don’t tarnish thousands of other journalists.
When News Corp. and CEO Rupert Murdoch secured enough shares to buy Dow Jones & Co. four years ago, these columns welcomed our new owner and promised to stand by the same standards and principles we always had. That promise is worth repeating now that politicians and our competitors are using the phone-hacking years ago at a British corner of News Corp. to assail the Journal, and perhaps injure press freedom in general.

That is a deeply political statement. This is pretty good too:

The British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics are also the same statesmen who have long coveted media support. The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more resignations from the news side soon, something that in any case has been happening for three and a half years. Back in April, when Reuters announced some new top editorial appointments, many of them were former WSJ reporters.  At the time, Media Matters wrote:

It’s the latest chapter in the steady loss of talent from Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal since Rupert Murdoch took over. And many of the departed personnel are helping to boost the efforts of Dow Jones’ biggest rivals — Reuters, Bloomberg, and The New York Times.

Even before Murdoch’s News Corp. finalized the purchase of Dow Jones in late 2007, concerns arose in and out of the news operation . . . strategy could slant coverage or, at least, hurt quality.

In interviews with Media Matters, many of the dozens to flee the Journal and Dow Jones in the past three and half years say the push for shorter stories, less investigative work, and — at times — a subtle nudge for more business-friendly stories has made it a worse place to work and resulted in a diminished editorial product.

That’s destruction, turning a national treasure into just another ‘product’.  But it’s what Daddy wanted.

NBC did a Sunday funny

The ego of the pundit (and producer) knows no bounds. On Meet the Press today, Gregory called his round table discussion (which was actually quite good) a Jobs Summit. Really.

Just like Nixon/Mao. Just like Reagan/Gorbachev. You know, a summit.

Pet peeve: protestations of equivalency

People / things I love to kick when they’re down.

  • Sarah Palin
  • Fox News
  • other Palins

Anyway,  on with it: whenever (which is often) FOX News is accused of faking their journalism, they get all weak with the vapors. At which point ‘media critics’, the ones still allowed on television anyway (I’m looking at you Howard Kurtz), remind their viewers and readers that MSNBC and CNN and some other elvis-forsaken entity do it too! After all. To be fair. You know.

It’s nonsense of course. Here’s an oldie but goodie. Ever seen CNN do this? Such good times:

During a segment in which Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade labeled New York Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe “attack dogs,” Fox News featured photos of Steinberg and Reddicliffe that appeared to have been digitally altered . . ..

Here’s a screenshot of photo Fox & Friends used for Steinberg, with the actual photo on the left.

 

 

 

 

 

And here’s Reddcliffe.

Extreme suckitude . . . I need to lay down now

I wish this were a joke. It was always a long shot, in spite of it being the proper and perfect appointment. Republicans in Congress had made it clear that they would never confirm her becasue she actually was a consumer advocate and didn’t just play one in D.C.

Wonder if this was part of a deficit grand bargain?

President Barack Obama has chosen a candidate other than Elizabeth Warren as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a person briefed on the matter.

Fox finally addresses Murdoch story: victim / perp same exact thing

FOX News steps up and sends heavyweight Steve Doocey out to face the music. Not. This is laugh out loud funny.

Friday slow-dancing oldie

Digby on Mark Halperin and the village

A week or so back, John Amato at Crooks and Liars  added some commentary to the “OMG Halperin called the president a dick!!!” nonsense, (it was the story of the day either before or after Anthony Weiner’s underwear took over). Halperin has done much worse.

Amato brought us some words from Digby. Reflecting on the self-absorbed, incestuous Washington press corps (which she calls the ‘Village’, as coined by either Atrios or The Daily Howler) – who too often miss the real story – she lays a little vocabulary on them.

This really is nonsense. It’s not the word “dick” that’s the problem, fergawdsake. It’s not pictures of dicks either. It’s that these people have contrived this absurd set of shallow manners in which saying dick or taking a picture of a dick is wrong while lying, manipulating and cavalierly risking the country’s future (which is what Obama was allegedly being a dick about!) is considered perfectly acceptable.

It’s the perfect manifestation of the Village. A bunch of decadent aristocrats pretending to be virgins and nuns, moralizing over trivia as a “lesson” for the rubes, all the while indulging in a debauched orgy of power and privilege.

And Mark Halperin is the poster boy.

Palin movie opens to empty house in, gasp, Orange County!

Petty of me, I know, but who can resist repeating this news? We may fervently hope it signals the end of the Palin road show. Conor Freidersdorf of The Atlantic Monthly went to the AMC in Orange (one of ten ‘select’ theatres around the country chosen for the opening of “The Undefeated”, the Palin biopic).  And there was no one there. No one.

It’s odd, because who would want to miss this?

Earth to D.C., earth to D.C., earth to .. .

Bruce Bartlett:

It appears that Republicans have walked away from a historic opportunity to reduce the deficit because of their obsessive insistence that not one penny come from higher revenues. Recent polls, however, suggest that the American people are not so obstinate and are more than willing to accept some increase in taxes to reduce the deficit. There is a high degree of consistency in every poll I could find on this topic.
His supporting graphic is not transferable, so you’ll have to go there to see it. He lists 11 polls, mostly from the last three months. On average, 65% of the people said we need to address deficit with a mix of taxes and cuts. An average of 29% said spending cuts alone.
 
Still doing the people’s business alright.
 
 

Actions. Consequences. No nonsense. Love Buffett.

From Political Irony, where I go when I need to lighten up:

Warren Buffett has one solution: “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP all sitting members of congress are ineligible for reelection.”

That’s appealing on so many levels . . .

As Linda Ellerbe used to say: And so it goes . . .

From Ezra Klein this morning:

The budget deficit is shrinking, reports Jeff Bater: “The U.S. budget deficit for the first nine months of fiscal 2011 was $970.52 billion, a figure that is smaller than the $1.29 trillion deficit for the same period in the prior fiscal year. The U.S. Treasury Department, in a monthly budget statement released Wednesday, said the budget deficit for June 2011 came in at $43.08 billion, less than June 2010, which was $68.42 billion.

Meanwhile, our congressional overlords stay busy doing the people’s business:

The House voted to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate water quality, reports Robin Bravender: “The House on Wednesday approved legislation to smack down the Obama administration’s water pollution policies, despite a looming veto threat from the White House. The chamber voted 239-184 to adopt a bipartisan bill that seeks to limit EPA’s authority over state water quality decisions after recent agency actions have irked lawmakers, particularly in coal states and in Florida. Backers of the bill sent a loud message that they’re not pleased with recent EPA water policies, including a January veto of a West Virginia mining permit and new nutrient pollution standards in Florida…The bill is one of several recent House efforts to limit the Obama administration’s water pollution policies, including a series of riders attached to the fiscal 2012 Interior-EPA spending bill.”

My eyes! OMG, my eyes!

“The criminalization of American society”

On his blog, Jonathan Turley keeps an eye on stories that mostly fly below the media radar. Turley is a law professor at George Washington University and appears periodically on the cables for legal commentary.

From today:

Michigan woman criminally charged for vegetable garden in her own front yard

Julie Bass is facing a misdemeanor charge in Oak Park, Michigan. Her crime? Planting vegetables in her own front yard. It is the latest example of the criminalization of American society . . .

How about this one?

Arkansas man arrested after videotaping police from his own front yard

 . . . a video has been released of a Jonesboro, Arkansas man who arrested after filming police conduct a search of a neighbor’s vehicle and body. The video was taken last year . . .

Police officers then confront the man for . . .  threaten him with a variety of possible charges from disturbing the peace to disorderly conduct to obstruction. Since when is it a crime to swear at officers?

The man is rude and clearly hostile to police. . . [but] Police are trained to deal with obnoxious and hostile people which is an unfortunate reality of the job. The response is not to demand identification when insulted and threaten arrest.

This one?

Good citizen, bad arrest: New York woman arrested after videotaping police – from her own front yard.

. . . new report of police arresting a citizen because she videotaped them — this time from her own front yard. According to his report, a woman named Emily Good was arrested after videotaping an arrest of a man at a traffic stop in Rochester, New York.

Deeply disturbing:

California family hit with SWAT raid . . . ordered by the Department of Education

In Stockton, California, Kenneth Wright was at home with his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11 when a SWAT team burst into his home at 6 a.m., dragged him out on the lawn, threw him to the ground, and put the family (including the kids) in squad cars. His alleged crime: default on student loans.

Add to ‘criminalization of American society, the ‘militarization of American police’. The first three arrests/threats of arrest are wrong, very wrong; but they could be attributed to a misunderstanding of the law by the officers involved. Or just regular abusive behavior by the police.

The SWAT story, however, should terrify you. It’s an extra-legal escalation.

Minnesota braces for riots in the streets

Could happen. It’s not a stretch.

Hundreds of bars, restaurants and stores across Minnesota are running out of beer and alcohol and others may soon run out of cigarettes — a subtle and largely unforeseen consequence of a state government shutdown.

Now that could get the locals riled up. Law requires that retail suppliers buy State stamps for all the liquor, beer and cigarettes they sell. The stamps are a staple of state revenue. Gone.

UPDATE: In comments, jean-philppe has dotted my i’s and crossed my t’s with an eerily apropos Simpsons video.

Roadblocks? They both do it. Exactly the same.

No. It’s not exactly the same. This chart is from a poll done by  The Economist wtih their polling partner YouGov. The story and more charts here.

 

World population about to hit 7 billion!

The year I was born the population of the planet was 3 billion. The population of the US was 125 million (no wonder parking spaces came easier!).  Here’s a really nifty counter that Ed sent today:

http://www.worldometers.info/

Memo to Dems: language matters

They've tried to kill SS for 50 years.

I’m listening to Obama’s press conference right now and getting a bit frustrated. If I could whisper in his ear, I’d tell him:

Don’t say  “I think this is what the American people want”.  Say “This is what the American people want.”

Don’t use the future tense, as “I”m willing to move in their direction”, be firm and say “We’ve already moved in their direction”

Dont’ say ‘entitlements’: We didn’t use to call SS and Medicare ‘entitlements’, because they were shared programs and everyone paid in; then 20 years ago the GOP carefully – and very successfully – injected that word into the mainstream.  And your Democrats? What did they do? Why they just went along and today you’re up there reading from their script, calling the social contract with the American people ‘entitlements’.

OMG! Fair and balanced? Do you know that’s FOX News logo?

And really, Mr. President, you keep referring to ‘raising taxes’. How about “its time to  remove outdated corporate entitlements but not starting until 2013. And for the very richest Americans, we’re asking them to pay Clinton-era marginal rates. That is all. Those rates are already historically low.” But he keeps using the words ‘raising taxes’. Even when you say you’re not doing it, phrase it differently!

Language matters, Mr. President. Language matters.

A dime’s worth of difference?

POSTED BY ORHAN

So Obama offers a debt deal to the Republicans: he’ll cut Social Security and Medicare. In exchange, the Republicans will, maybe, allow the Bush tax cuts to expire. Or hike some other taxes; whatever.

Now the Republicans are saying no deal, they’ll only accept spending cuts; they’ll cut Social Security and Medicare, plus keep the Bush cuts, but deep-six the tax hikes.

So, let’s see, that means if Option 1, the Democratic plan, had been accepted, the rich would have been back to where they were under Clinton, and the poor and middle would have been worse off. But if Option 2, the Republican plan, is enacted, the rich will keep what they got from Bush, and the poor and middle will be worse off.

What can we say about America’s future from the horns of this little dilemma? If it plays out the way the health care farce did, we can make a few predictions:

The Tea Party will be left swinging in the breeze. The folks who screamed, “Keep your hands off my Medicare!” are about to have their Social Security and Medicare seriously FUBARed. Even the most hardcore non-rich Tea Partier will realize sooner or later there’s nothing here but, as the song says, the promise of an early death.

The Democratic base will be left swinging in the breeze, after having its veins opened, its throat slit, and a dagger slipped between its ribs. The new default “far left” bargaining position will start with Social Security and Medicare cuts. Obama will initiate his trademark “compromising” from there. Predicting which once-sacrosanct progressive program he’ll negotiate away next will be all the rage in DC.

Mainstream middle and working class Republicans will be left swinging in the breeze; it’ll just take them a while to figure it out. Sooner or later the most diehard trickle-down true believer will realize the upcoming corporate cash infusion (via “amnesty” or any other method) isn’t going to create any jobs for Americans, other than the corner-office and lobbying jobs for the politicians who sold us all down the river; but CEOs will no doubt receive some kickass bonuses over the next few years.

Life is about to get one hell of a lot harder for most Americans. Thanks to Democrats. And Republicans.

Bobblespeak translations are up!

If you watch the Sunday morning shows and shout at the TV, you should:

  1. examine your priorities
  2. question your sanity, and
  3. go read the Bobblespeak Translations as soon as they’re up. So you can find out what they really said.

NOTE: Primary target of ridicule is David Gregory and he’s a worthy target. (Oddly, today’s offering is not nearly as snarky as is the norm. I guess reality is now officially insane and impervious to satire.)  And by the way, the metaphor of the day across networks was ‘kick the can down the road’. I heard it three times from different people. I guess they all got the memo.