Saturday, March 7, 2009

They write letters

I wrote a letter to my Republican Congresswoman:

Thank you for your letter (2/24/09) in response to my concerns over the Republican opposition to the stimulus bill. I appreciate your willingness to engage on this issue.

However, I remain deeply upset by the Republican response to our national economic crisis. The widespread dissemination of easily disproven lies by Republican members of Congress (such as "Pelosi's mouse" and the "Sin City train" canards), for the purpose of confusing the American public at a time like this is simply and utterly inexcusable.

And now, your caucus has decided to promote a federal spending freeze. In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the GOP caucus explained your rationale: "At a time of record deficits, a freeze would allow the federal government to keep functioning at current spending levels without requiring beleaguered taxpayers to pay for new spending increases. Congress could ensure that essential government functions are carried out without any cuts while still protecting taxpayers from spending increases during a time of economic hardship."

I'm sure that polls well as a bumper sticker slogan, but surely you understand that is literally the worst thing that could be done at this time. As Pat Garofalo recently explained: "The economic stimulus package's main purpose is to close the GDP gap and jumpstart the economy by spurring spending by households, government and the private sector. A spending freeze would act as an 'anti-stimulus,' cutting spending precisely when it's too low and the economy is moving too slowly."

When TPM Media's Josh Marshall heard of your "plan", he wrote: "Let's just stipulate DC Republicans are simply not part of the discussion when it comes to repairing the US economy or arresting our slide into deep economic misery. And any reporters who aren't clear about this are just lying to their readers or viewers. The latest Republican plan, in the face of today's new spike in unemployment, is a freeze on federal spending. I'm not even sure it's fair to say that this is a replay of the disastrous decisions the magnified the Great Depression between 1929 and 1933. It's more a parody of it. When the crisis is a rapid and catastrophic drop off in demand, you handcuff the one force that can create demand (i.e., the federal government) in the throes of the contraction. That's insane. Levels of stimulus are a decent question. Intensifying the contraction is just insane and frankly a joke. It's time to recognize that the only debate here is happening among Democrats and sundry non-affiliated sane people. The leaders of the GOP are simply not part of the conversation."

Blogger John Cole who, until 2005 was a right-wing Republican stalwart, recently took a trip down memory lane. "I remember 2000 and 2001 pretty well. I was a Republican at the time, and we have talked before about how excited I was to vote for Bush. I remember not being able to sleep, waking up early to go vote as soon as the polls open, and I remember going to see a movie during the afternoon to take my mind off the election .... I remember coming home and watching the returns until late in the morning, I remember the sinking feeling over Florida, and thinking “We are going to get screwed. The Democrats are going to steal this.” I remember all of that." ... "And just so we are clear, until shown otherwise, what I remember is the following: 2001, time of mild economic downturn but with a large budget surplus projected as far as the eyes can see, and Democrats stated the tax cuts are bad policy and should not be adopted. 2009, during two wars, a financial disaster, an economic crisis and massive unemployment and trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and the Republicans and Limbaugh are rooting for Obama to fail so they can regain some political power. Until I am shown otherwise, that is how I see things. What is happening right now is nuts, and there simply is no comparison. Show me the tapes. Show me the transcripts. Show me Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid standing in front of a camera saying “I want President Bush to fail” just like we have seen Mike Pence and the parade of other Republican leaders do in the past few days. Bring it on, and I don’t mean some random jackass on the internet or some crazy tenured prof at a community college somewhere. I will admit my memory was wrong if it happened, but I want to see it, because I don’t remember it. And I’m not merely talking about opposition to policy. I mean stating that they wanted the President to fail. And then when you are done, you can show me the video tapes or transcripts of all the Democrats groveling and begging for forgiveness at the feet of Michael Moore (who, by the way, is fat) after dissing him. Also, when a real crisis happened on 9/11, I remember the Democrats rushing to do whatever Bush wanted. I remember hand-holding and singing on the Capitol Steps. I don’t remember them hoping Bush’s response would fail."

Ms. Capito, you should read John Cole's piece in its entirety at When you do, remember that he was a true believer who was driven from the Republican party when he suddenly realized that the entire Republican edifice was built on lies. He is still conservative, but with a meaning for that word that is unrecognizable in the policies and actions of today's republican party.

Our nation is in a crisis every bit as real and dangerous as 9/11. The Republican party, your party, is responding by promoting nonsensical economic policies that are designed only to confuse. It is in your power, as a member of the Republican caucus, to begin changing that dynamic by insisting that the party play a constructive role in restoring America to greatness.

It is in your power, as a member of the Republican caucus, to insist that your party serve the interests of all Americans instead of seeking partisan political gain at a time of national crisis.


President Obama has another weekly address that is breathtaking in its honesty and clarity. It stands as a welcome counterpoint to the repuglican strategy to be breathtakingly dishonest and obstructionist as a time of great national crisis.

Speaking of national crisis, atrios tells us the vacancy rate is 1 in 7
The vacancy rate is stunning.
Across the nation, 19 million houses and apartments — nearly one out of every seven — are vacant, the highest percentage since the 1960s. But only about six million of those homes are for sale or for rent. That means millions more could still flood onto the market, depressing prices further.
During the debate over the economic stimulus package, there were a few voices raising concerns that the spending wasn't nearly ambitious enough for the task at hand. Those voices were largely ignored, especially by major news outlets, which focused on how it could be smaller.

The result was a good bill that could have been far better. And now there are growing indications that, as a result of congressional efforts to shrink the bill and the administration's overly-honest approach to negotiating, policymakers may have to try again.

The nation is losing jobs so quickly that the government, racing to deal with the crisis, is having trouble keeping up.... It also means that the government faces even more pressure to take further action to stabilize the economy and the financial system. [...]

The stimulus package was designed to "save or create" 3.5 million jobs, according to the administration. But the nation has already lost 4.4 million jobs since the start of the recession. ...

Heather Boushey, senior economist with the Center for American Progress, said, "It's not going to be enough, folks. I hate to break it to you."

Various folks have picked up on this video, including C&L: Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi tells us how he really feels about Rush Limbaugh on Hardball. I've never seen Matt pull his punches and he sure as hell doesn't hold back here. But I think they are missing the key point here. Sandwiched between Taibbi comments we see "very serious person" Margaret Carlson telling us that Limbaugh is very entertaining and intellectual and beloved by many. She is part and parcel of the msm culture that finds Limbaugh acceptable and fun ... and welcome. This is the same Margaret Carlson who found it so very very entertaining to make fun of Al Gore in 2000, and was very much a player in the media gang rape that helped turn the election to Bush. Why is she on my teevee? Really, why is she allowed out in public?

Public vs Private Interest

This is a fascinating time for a national discussion of the public interest versus the private interest and the role of government in our society. The Repuglican party advocates for a mostly private system where the markets are left unfettered to do the voodoo that they do so well just the way they always have - in the repuglican's fevered brains.

In the context of the movement that led to the F.D.A. following publication of Sinclair's "The Jungle", this Maddow segment (which should be required viewing for every social studies student in America) discusses the role of government in serving the public interest and notes that "the basic idea of the government's regulatory role is anathema to the conservative movement." "Industry will, rightly, pursue its private interest, which these days is both profit and not getting sued. ... It's the role of government to look after public interest."
Did spreading salmonella deserve a high grade? March 6: Rachel Re: Rachel Maddow gives props to a New York Times investigative piece about how private food inspectors, not the kind employed by the FDA, gave the Peanut Corporation of America high marks, while it is now known they were shipping out salmonella.

Krugman on the Party of uh-huh-huh-huh

I’m as cynical as they come. Even so, I’m shocked by the total intellectual collapse of the Republican Party in the face of this economic crisis.

I suggested a little while ago that the GOP has become the party of Beavis and Butthead, reduced to snickering at line items in legislation that sound funny. And we’re not just talking about the usual crazies: we’re taking about Saint John McCain, cracking jokes about “Mormon crickets” and “beaver management” when a minute or two on Google reveals that these are, in fact, serious issues.

But it’s getting truly serious when the House minority leader — essentially, the nation’s second-ranking Republican (after Rush Limbaugh) — declares that the answer to the economy’s downward spiral is a spending freeze. That’s not a retrogression to Herbert Hoover; even Hoover knew better than that.

I’d really like to see some genuine bipartisanship in America. But that can’t happen until we start having at least somewhat sane partisans.
  • Benen adds that THEY'RE NOT EVEN TRYING....

    This is, of course, completely insane. As Pat Garofalo recently explained: "The economic stimulus package's main purpose is to close the GDP gap and jumpstart the economy by spurring spending by households, government and the private sector. A spending freeze would act as an 'anti-stimulus,' cutting spending precisely when it's too low and the economy is moving too slowly."

    But stepping back and considering the larger context, that the top House Republican is seriously and publicly advocating such an idea is genuinely scary. ...

    Given the truly bizarre ideas coming from congressional Republicans, there's really no reason to engage them in good-faith discussion. A group of people are working diligently to put out a raging fire, and the failed minority party, which helped set the blaze, can't imagine why no one is taking their more-lighter-fluid agenda seriously.

    I know President Obama likes bipartisanship. I know voters love the idea of well-intentioned patriots from across the spectrum getting together to work out meaningful solutions. It somehow seems unfair to block elected officials out of the governing process, just because they've created a crisis and are determined to make it worse.

    But Republicans, at this point, just aren't trying anymore. They deserve a lot of things -- ridicule, scorn, derision -- but at a place at the policy negotiating table isn't one of them.

Just read it

Media Matters:
The media's tax fraud
When is a tax cut for 98 percent of taxpayers portrayed as a tax increase? When some of the small handful of people whose taxes will go up happen to control the nation's news media. ...

When evil needs public relations ...

CHARLES M. BLOW: Who has surfaced as the saviors of the Republican Party? Bobby Jindal, Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh, otherwise known as the axis of drivel.

In the midst of all the RW charges that Obama is destroying America, it is helpful to remember that ...
Daily Kos' BarbinMD: Your Stimulus Money At Work

Last January, twenty-five police recruits in Columbus, Ohio, were told that rather than being sworn in as police officers, they were going to be let go due to budget cuts. But today, according to a White House press release, President Obama will speak at their graduation after money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved their jobs.

Meanwhile, Vice President Biden will be in Florida, meeting with officials to discuss the $4 billion in stimulus money to be used for state and local law enforcement, and "specifically for Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program funds - which will help keep police officers on the street."

These are the kind of programs that the Republican Party was trying to derail when they marched in near lockstep opposition to the stimulus bill. While they busily screamed in pseudo-outrage over condoms, they ignored the tangible help the bill would provide to individuals and their families, and to towns, cities, and states.

While Republicans took their cues from a radio host and rooted for failure, Democrats took action. And today, perhaps those same Republicans will hit the airwaves and explain why the party of law-and-order objects to having more police officers on the job and on the streets. Or they can talk about socialism.


8.1 percent unemployment in February, the highest in 25 years. We're now at 4.4 million jobs lost. Meanwhile, Speaker Pelosi's office updates The Scariest Chart Ever with the new data:


The situation would look a little less dire if that chart were adjusted for population growth. But only a little.

Snark of the day, John Cole in response to the new (and horrible) jobless report:
Clearly this news today makes the point that we must move quickly to cut the capital gains tax rate.

If this were funny, I would be laughing. But as Josh Marshall says:
Republican economic policies are Just A Joke
Let's just stipulate DC Republicans are simply not part of the discussion when it comes to repairing the US economy or arresting our slide into deep economic misery. And any reporters who aren't clear about this are just lying to their readers or viewers. The latest Republican plan, in the face of today's new spike in unemployment, is a freeze on federal spending. I'm not even sure it's fair to say that this is a replay of the disastrous decisions the magnified the Great Depression between 1929 and 1933. It's more a parody of it. When the crisis is a rapid and catastrophic drop off in demand, you handcuff the one force that can create demand (i.e., the federal government) in the throes of the contraction. That's insane. Levels of stimulus are a decent question. Intensifying the contraction is just insane and frankly a joke. It's time to recognize that the only debate here is happening among Democrats and sundry non-affiliated sane people. The leaders of the GOP are simply not part of the conversation.

Bummer TPM headline: Siegelman Appeal: Court Upholds Most Counts
Marcy aka "emptywheel" parses the ruling:

Three Republican-appointed judges have upheld most of the convictions of Governor Don Siegelman--while throwing out two counts of Mail Fraud.

The opinion starts by invoking the controversy surrounding the case--then nods to deference to the jury in retaining the convictions.


Furthermore, to the extent that the jury’s verdict rests upon their evaluations of the credibility of individual witnesses, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from that testimony, we owe deference to those decisions.

It's the jurors, fault, you see, even though several issues mentioned in the appeal pertain to problems with the jury.

You can read through the rest and see what you make of the Courts issue by issue treatment of Siegelman's appeal. But note, in particular, the centrality of Nick Bailey's testimony in the Court's decision to uphold most of the convictions.

That's important because--as 60 Minutes reported on its piece on Siegelman--there are allegations Prosecutors coached Bailey's testimony and then did not turn over notes from that coaching to Siegelman's defense team to use to impeach Bailey. Here's Scott Horton explaining what happened (and Mukasey's non-denial denial of the problem). ...

A better legal outcome, Benen on BIRTHERS LOSE IN COURT....
The Birthers' latest case was not only thrown out, by the federal judge mocked the plaintiffs for being so foolish and wasting the judiciary's time.

A federal judge on Thursday threw out a lawsuit questioning President Barack Obama's citizenship, lambasting the case as a waste of the court's time and suggesting the plaintiff's attorney may have to compensate the president's lawyer.


"This case, if it were allowed to proceed, would deserve mention in one of those books that seek to prove that the law is foolish or that America has too many lawyers with not enough to do," U.S. District Judge James Robertson said in his written opinion.

Robertson added, "Even in its relatively short life the case has excited the blogosphere and the conspiracy theorists. The right thing to do is to bring it to an early end."

Better yet, the judge called the plaintiff's attorneys "agents provocateurs" and described their local counsel as "a foot soldier in their crusade." Robertson ordered the lead counsel to prove why he hadn't violated court ruled prohibiting frivolous and harassing lawsuits, and why he shouldn't have to pay the legal fees of the president's attorney. ...

Tim F.: In the end Republicans could have kept their yap shut and let the country think that a drug-addled ignoramus pulls their strings. Instead they opened their mouth and proved it.

Tim F: on the grand Omabunist conspiracy involving Rush Limbaugh:
Here is the underpants gnomes version of Obama’s evil plot.

Step 1: Publicly suggest that Republicans agree with Rush Limbaugh.
Step 2: ??
Step 3: Clear Channel replaces Rush’s show with Randi Rhodes and CounterSpin.

Maybe Tom Robbins could put together a semi-plausible Step 2. I don’t have that kind of mojo.

Gail Collins (fast becoming one of my favorite columnists) suggests the repuglicans Just Steele Yourselves

The Republican Party is not going to be cool. The Democratic Party is barely cool, and it has Barack Obama. The Republicans have Rush Limbaugh, a man whose popularity among Americans under the age of 60 is lower than a share of Citigroup stock.

The party was so desperate for a youth patina that it shoved Bobby Jindal into the spotlight when the governor of Louisiana was still a political newbie — like a tiny bud that can one day become a peach or an apple. Unless some desperate person yanks it off the tree and stuffs the bud on national television where the whole nation can watch it shrivel, leaving nothing behind but an interesting dispute on how much of Jindal’s story about pointy-headed bureaucrats interfering with Katrina rescues was pure fiction.

When the Republicans aren’t arguing about Steele they are arguing about Limbaugh. Steele helpfully made it possible to argue about both simultaneously when he went on TV and called Limbaugh’s show incendiary and ugly. (The content of the debate over this remark seems to center less on whether Steele’s statement was wrong than on whether making it was a good plan.)

Then Steele apologized, which ....

Right question of the day, via Sully: Can Obama Legally Take Over The Big Banks?

Pete Davis explains why nationalization is a bad idea. McArdle summarizes his first point:

No US institution currently has the legal authority to take over a multinational financial conglomerate. Banks are relatively simple operations, and the FDIC has extensive experience in resolution of a liquidation. But banking and insurance and stockbroking and securities underwriting and capital markets trading all piled into one institution are vastly more complicated--there is, after all, a reason why each of these businesses have different regulators. The argument for breaking banks into commercial and investment banking doesn't seem to have made much sense from an economic standpoint, but it may have made sense from a regulatory standpoint. At least in the US, no regulator had the expertise to oversee these giant companies.

Why is it that the fact that the government has no legal authority to take over these massive banking enterprises is all but absent from the current debate? Isn't it, er, a little bit relevant?

Jon Chait said:, "What's on display is the worst elements of political demagoguery meeting the worst elements of the instant-reaction internet culture. They think the very idea of trying to learn about something before you take a position on it is a joke." (h/t Benen)

Steve Benen: About a month ago, the New York Times' Frank Rich, commenting on the Republican Party's approach to the economy, said, "The nightmare is that we have so irrelevant, clownish and childish an opposition party at a moment when America is in an all-hands-on-deck emergency that's as trying as war." As "trying as war" strikes me as the key point that seems to go overlooked. The ongoing crisis is, by most measures, the economic equivalent of a 9/11-style terrorist attack. "Everything changed" in September 2001? Everything should change now. ... ... ... Perhaps, one of these days, Republicans will shake their "pre-recession mindset" and improve the government's ability to respond to the economic 9/11.

Bruce Bartlett via Benen:

"According to a recent Treasury Department study, Ronald Reagan proposed the largest peacetime tax increase in American history as part of a budget deal to get the federal deficit under control. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1982 was signed into law on Sept. 3, and most of its provisions took effect on Jan. 1, 1983.

During debate on TEFRA, many conservatives predicted economic disaster. They argued that raising taxes in the midst of a severe recession was exactly the wrong thing to do. "Every school child knows you don't raise taxes in a recession unless you want to make it worse," The Wall Street Journal's editorial page warned. Said Rep. Newt Gingrich, "I think it will make the economy sicker." The Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. said it had "no doubt that it will curb the economic recovery everyone wants."

Looking at the data, however, it is very hard to see any evidence that TEFRA had a negative effect on growth. Indeed, one could easily make a case that its enactment stimulated growth."


One would like to think that being wrong, over and over again, about the exact same issue, might lead some of these characters to back off. Likewise, one might also like to think that major news outlets, recognizing how wrong these folks have been for the last few decades, might stop taking their prognostications seriously. Alas, this is not the case.

Bartlett concluded, "[W]hen Republicans claim that higher taxes will destroy the economy, they should be reminded that they made the same argument in 1982 and 1993 and that the actual economic results were the opposite of what they predicted. And when they denounce Obama's health plan for expanding the size of government, they should be asked how they voted on the Medicare bill in 2003."

Slate's Daniel Gross noted last night, "To hear conservatives tell it, you'd think mobs of shiftless welfare moms were marauding through the streets of Greenwich and Palm Springs, lynching bankers and hedge-fund managers, stringing up shopkeepers, and herding lawyers into internment camps. President Obama and his budgeteers, they say, have declared war on the rich." If only that were an exaggeration. Have you seen the latest cover of the National Review? The right has gone from merely misguided to wildly hysterical. If the unhinged rhetoric were limited to right-wing blogs and talk radio, ...

Aravosis: RNC chair Michael Steele's blog is no more
The emasculation has begun. When will Steele learn that there's only one leader of the Republican party? And it's never going to be him. For people who scream and yell that Limbaugh isn't the story, that Limbaugh is irrelevant, Mr. Irrelevant sure took his pound of flesh out of Michael Steele, and continues to take it.

This post is just one more reason why Steve Benen should be on your daily "must read" list: THE WRONG HISTORICAL REFERENCE POINT....
The LA Times has a piece today on Glenn Beck, who can fairly be described as unbalanced, making the transition to Fox News from CNN's Headline News.

Before Glenn Beck started his new show on Fox News in January, he sat down with Roger Ailes, the network's chief executive, to make sure they were on the same page.

"I wanted to meet with Roger and tell him, 'You may not want to put me on the air. I believe we are in dire trouble, and I will never shut up,' " said the conservative radio host.

But before Beck could say anything, Ailes shared a message of his own: The country faced tough times, he said, and Fox News was one of the only news outlets willing to challenge the new administration.

"I see this as the Alamo," Ailes said, according to Beck. "If I just had somebody who was willing to sit on the other side of the camera until the last shot is fired, we'd be fine."

Um, Roger? As I recall, the Alamo didn't turn out too well.

As Oliver Willis noted, "Let's leave aside the notion of a television network designing itself in opposition to the president with the slogan 'Fair and Balanced' for now, and let's go to the tape on The Alamo. Almost everyone at the Alamo died at the hands of Mexican soldiers. Should we tell Steve Doocy goodbye?"

When evil needs public relations ....

atrios says: Shitpile: Actually Really Shitty
As Krugman explains, someone really needs to sit Geithner down and explain to him that all those pieces of shitpile are indeed really shitty. This fantasy of undervalued assets is just a fantasy.
... Why do officials keep offering plans that nobody else finds credible? Because somehow, top officials in the Obama administration and at the Federal Reserve have convinced themselves that troubled assets, often referred to these days as “toxic waste,” are really worth much more than anyone is actually willing to pay for them — and that if these assets were properly priced, all our troubles would go away.
"The government is seeking to resuscitate the nation's crippled financial system by forging an alliance with the very outfits that most benefited from the bonanza preceding the collapse of the credit markets: hedge funds and private-equity firms.

The initiative to revive the consumer lending business, outlined by officials this week, offers these wealthy investors a new chance to make sizable profits -- but, thanks to the government, without the risk of massive losses."
They made bad bets when they at least theoretically thought they could incur losses. Now the cunning plan is to hope they make good bets even chance of losses!

This is all going to end really badly.

Josh has
Few Random Thoughts on the Economic Crisis

Looking over the consolidation of the financial services industry you see a distressing pattern. Find one company that brings together a lot of decently run and profitable companies under one roof. Then set up one subsidiary which sells a long run of risky and substantially fraudulent 'financial products' which sucks the entire conglomerated company to the brink of bankruptcy ... or rather into bankruptcy, but is held just on the brink by permanent infusions of taxpayer funds, much of which is siphoned off into bonuses to keep the prized talent at the bankrupt company from leaving and going to other de facto bankrupt companies.

Another point. The more I learn what got a lot of these companies into trouble, foolish bets or excessive risk taking don't really capture what we're talking about. A lot of this stuff just amounts to fraud. So where are the criminal investigations. Not just hassling CEOs up on Capitol Hill, which is fine. But accountability before the law for the people who ruined the economy? There may be some short term prudential argument for not getting distracted while we're in crisis mode. But I'm not sure I buy that. I lot of this was simply criminal.

Josh Marshall has Not Enough Thumbs to Twiddle

It is a small subset of the larger problems we are facing. But when historians look back to write the history of this crisis, it will be difficult to explain why everyone conspired together to face the crisis with an unstaffed Treasury Department. It's truly astounding. There were hints of this back in January. But it's really only bleeding into the press now. Just yesterday, likely nominees for two critical positions pulled their names out of consideration.

The reasons for the delays seem clear at least in broad outlines. The Obama administration has set pretty stringent ethics requirements, relating to lobbying and conflicts of interests. That's taken lots of people out of contention. And that's been aggravated by the vetting snafus on Geithner and Daschle, which have probably made them still more gun-shy.

Then there's a whole separate obstacle. Lots of the people who would staff a Treasury at the moment are compromised by their own roles in the debacle we're facing. Whether that's because so many of the people with the requisite experience are tainted or whether it's just that so many of the people the principals -- Geithner, Summers, et al. -- know and trust are compromised is unclear to me.

Nor is it only people who caused the mess in the private sector but people in the regulatory agencies who enabled it or failed to prevent it.

To some degree, you can knock the Republicans for not helping to fast-track the confirmations of anyone who is immediately needed at Treasury. As I mentioned last night, Republicans are holding up two critical appointments on the National Economic Council for what they readily admit is payback. But fundamentally it's a Democratic administration and a Democratic Congress. We're in the midst of the worst economic crisis in almost anyone's living memory. And we have a Treasury Department where a lot of the key offices are empty.

Obama Science Advisers Still Slowed as No Culprit Steps Forward

The slowdown in approval of President Obama's economic team, both at Treasury and the Council of Economic Advisers, is getting a lot of attention today. But let's not forget that two senior White House science adviser-designates are still going nowhere: John Holdren, named to lead the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Jane Lubchenco, named to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, remain in limbo.

The likely source of the culprit would seem to be the Senate Commerce Committee, although that panel approved the nominations last month. "I am unaware of any GOP Commerce Committee members who are raising questions," one Senate source said via email.

But other sources pointed me to Commerce -- so just in case, I reached out to all the Republicans on that committee. The next likely source of the slowdown would be GOPers on the Senate environment committee, particularly given Holdren's progressive views on climate change, but Sen. Jim Inhofe's (R-OK) office did not return a request for comment on the nominations.

Rest assured, however, that we'll stay on this story.

John Cole's Deep Thought: If the Beltway boys and girls think the number one problem with the Obama administration is trying to do too much, it would be nice if they paused their concern trolling and applied some pressure on the folks who are, for no reason whatsoever, delaying the votes of the people Obama has picked to join his administration help him get things done.

Gail Collins:
The Rant List

I am having a tough time dealing with news that the former president of Countrywide Financial, the mortgage company that did so much to dig the hole in which we all now reside, is making a killing buying up delinquent mortgage loans from the government at bargain basement rates.

“It’s like Jeffrey Dahmer selling body parts to a clinic,” sniped one of my friends.

As Eric Lipton reported in The Times, Stanford Kurland, who was president of Countrywide during the years when it was selling mortgages with temporary low “teaser” rates that later turned into permanent unaffordable ones, now leads Private National Mortgage Acceptance Company, known to its friends as PennyMac.

In what one company official said was “off-the-charts good” business, PennyMac buys troubled mortgages from the government (which got them from failed banks) at rates like 38 cents on the dollar. Then it offers the beleaguered homeowners a chance to refinance at far more favorable terms. PennyMac makes money, the homeowner gets an affordable mortgage and the government gets a share of the profit.

Everybody’s happy! Except, of course, those of us who helped come up with the other 62 cents on the dollar.

Once again, we are reminded that life is not fair. Lately these unfairness bulletins have been coming so fast and furious that there isn’t time to get upset about all of them. Prioritization is essential.



.... according to a new Fox News poll, that won't work, either.

Are we still a center-right nation, as many Republicans continue to insist? And can the GOP revive itself through a return to the spirit of Ronald Reagan, as Rush Limbaugh has said?

Check out this question from the new Fox News poll: "What do you think the nation's economy needs more of right now -- the economic policies of Ronald Reagan or the economic policies of Barack Obama?"

The answer: Obama 49%, Reagan 40%.

Of course, it's probably worth noting that, as long-time Monthly readers may recall, Reagan's economic policies aren't quite in line with at least some Republicans' memories. Reagan did, after all, raise taxes several times, in order to help offset the costs of increased spending.


When respondents were asked about Obama's tax plan -- increases on households earning over $250,000 a year, cuts for nearly everyone else -- 66% approved of the idea (even 41% of self-identified Republicans endorsed the White House plan).

And for Ayn Rand fans, there was one other interesting question, flagged by Greg Sargent: "Do you think asking the wealthiest Americans to pay more in taxes is a good idea because it levels the economic and social playing field, or a bad idea because it punishes work and success?"

Despite the wording of the poll, a majority (55%) of the Fox News poll's respondents said it's a good idea to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

The John Galt movement is probably going to struggle a bit.

Maddow on a Reckoning for Rove March 5: Former Bush advisor Karl Rove is finally testifying to the House Judiciary Committee about issues ranging from the firing of U.S. Attorneys to his involvement in the case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Rachel Maddow is joined by Gov. Siegelman.

Olberman and Hayes on Rove

Friday, March 6, 2009

Marching toward Meltdown

Friend BobK suggested this one. Posted below in it's entirety (I hope Mr. Weisman doesn't mind).

[corp-focus] Wall Street's Best Investment II: 12 Deregulatory Steps to Financial Meltdown
Fri, 06 Mar 2009 14:27:24 -0500
By Robert Weissman
March 6, 2009

What can $5 billion buy in Washington?

Quite a lot.

Over the 1998-2008 period, the financial sector spent more than $5
billion on U.S. federal campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures.

This extraordinary investment paid off fabulously. Congress and
executive agencies rolled back long-standing regulatory restraints,
refused to impose new regulations on rapidly evolving and mushrooming
areas of finance, and shunned calls to enforce rules still in place.

"Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America," a report
released by Essential Information and the Consumer Education Foundation
(and which I co-authored), details a dozen crucial deregulatory moves
over the last decade -- each a direct response to heavy lobbying from
Wall Street and the broader financial sector, as the report details.
(The report is available at:
.) Combined, these
deregulatory moves helped pave the way for the current financial meltdown.

Here are 12 deregulatory steps to financial meltdown:

1. The repeal of Glass-Steagall

The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 formally repealed the
Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and related rules, which prohibited banks
from offering investment, commercial banking, and insurance services. In
1998, Citibank and Travelers Group merged on the expectation that
Glass-Steagall would be repealed. Then they set out, successfully, to
make it so. The subsequent result was the infusion of the investment
bank speculative culture into the world of commercial banking. The 1999
repeal of Glass-Steagall helped create the conditions in which banks
invested monies from checking and savings accounts into creative
financial instruments such as mortgage-backed securities and credit
default swaps, investment gambles that led many of the banks to ruin and
rocked the financial markets in 2008.

2. Off-the-books accounting for banks

Holding assets off the balance sheet generally allows companies to avoid
disclosing “toxic” or money-losing assets to investors in order to make
the company appear more valuable than it is. Accounting rules -- lobbied
for by big banks -- permitted the accounting fictions that continue to
obscure banks' actual condition.

3. CFTC blocked from regulating derivatives

Financial derivatives are unregulated. By all accounts this has been a
disaster, as Warren Buffett's warning that they represent "weapons of
mass financial destruction" has proven prescient -- they have amplified
the financial crisis far beyond the unavoidable troubles connected to
the popping of the housing bubble. During the Clinton administration,
the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sought to exert
regulatory control over financial derivatives, but the agency was
quashed by opposition from Robert Rubin and Fed Chair Alan Greenspan.

4. Formal financial derivative deregulation: the Commodities Futures
Modernization Act

The deregulation -- or non-regulation -- of financial derivatives was
sealed in 2000, with the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. Its
passage orchestrated by the industry-friendly Senator Phil Gramm, the
Act prohibits the CFTC from regulating financial derivatives.

5. SEC removes capital limits on investment banks and the voluntary
regulation regime

In 1975, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) promulgated a rule
requiring investment banks to maintain a debt to-net capital ratio of
less than 15 to 1. In simpler terms, this limited the amount of borrowed
money the investment banks could use. In 2004, however, the SEC
succumbed to a push from the big investment banks -- led by Goldman
Sachs, and its then-chair, Henry Paulson -- and authorized investment
banks to develop net capital requirements based on their own risk
assessment models. With this new freedom, investment banks pushed ratios
to as high as 40 to 1. This super-leverage not only made the investment
banks more vulnerable when the housing bubble popped, it enabled the
banks to create a more tangled mess of derivative investments -- so that
their individual failures, or the potential of failure, became systemic

6. Basel II weakening of capital reserve requirements for banks

Rules adopted by global bank regulators -- known as Basel II, and
heavily influenced by the banks themselves -- would let commercial banks
rely on their own internal risk-assessment models (exactly the same
approach as the SEC took for investment banks). Luckily, technical
challenges and intra-industry disputes about Basel II have delayed
implementation -- hopefully permanently -- of the regulatory scheme.

7. No predatory lending enforcement

Even in a deregulated environment, the banking regulators retained
authority to crack down on predatory lending abuses. Such enforcement
activity would have protected homeowners, and lessened though not
prevented the current financial crisis. But the regulators sat on their
hands. The Federal Reserve took three formal actions against subprime
lenders from 2002 to 2007. The Office of Comptroller of the Currency,
which has authority over almost 1,800 banks, took three
consumer-protection enforcement actions from 2004 to 2006.

8. Federal preemption of state enforcement against predatory lending

When the states sought to fill the vacuum created by federal
non-enforcement of consumer protection laws against predatory lenders,
the Feds -- responding to commercial bank petitions -- jumped to
attention to stop them. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
and the Office of Thrift Supervision each prohibited states from
enforcing consumer protection rules against nationally chartered banks.

9. Blocking the courthouse doors: Assignee Liability Escape

Under the doctrine of “assignee liability,” anyone profiting from
predatory lending practices should be held financially accountable,
including Wall Street investors who bought bundles of mortgages (even if
the investors had no role in abuses committed by mortgage originators).
With some limited exceptions, however, assignee liability does not apply
to mortgage loans, however. Representative Bob Ney -- a great friend of
financial interests, and who subsequently went to prison in connection
with the Abramoff scandal -- worked hard, and successfully, to ensure
this effective immunity was maintained.

10. Fannie and Freddie enter subprime

At the peak of the housing boom, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were
dominant purchasers in the subprime secondary market. The
Government-Sponsored Enterprises were followers, not leaders, but they
did end up taking on substantial subprime assets -- at least $57
billion. The purchase of subprime assets was a break from prior
practice, justified by theories of expanded access to homeownership for
low-income families and rationalized by mathematical models allegedly
able to identify and assess risk to newer levels of precision. In fact,
the motivation was the for-profit nature of the institutions and their
particular executive incentive schemes. Massive lobbying -- including
especially but not only of Democratic friends of the institutions --
enabled them to divert from their traditional exclusive focus on prime

Fannie and Freddie are not responsible for the financial crisis. They
are responsible for their own demise, and the resultant massive taxpayer

11. Merger mania

The effective abandonment of antitrust and related regulatory principles
over the last two decades has enabled a remarkable concentration in the
banking sector, even in advance of recent moves to combine firms as a
means to preserve the functioning of the financial system. The megabanks
achieved too-big-to-fail status. While this should have meant they be
treated as public utilities requiring heightened regulation and risk
control, other deregulatory maneuvers (including repeal of
Glass-Steagall) enabled them to combine size, explicit and implicit
federal guarantees, and reckless high-risk investments.

12. Credit rating agency failure

With Wall Street packaging mortgage loans into pools of securitized
assets and then slicing them into tranches, the resultant financial
instruments were attractive to many buyers because they promised high
returns. But pension funds and other investors could only enter the game
if the securities were highly rated.

The credit rating agencies enabled these investors to enter the game, by
attaching high ratings to securities that actually were high risk -- as
subsequent events have revealed. The credit rating agencies have a bias
to offering favorable ratings to new instruments because of their
complex relationships with issuers, and their desire to maintain and
obtain other business dealings with issuers.

This institutional failure and conflict of interest might and should
have been forestalled by the SEC, but the Credit Rating Agencies Reform
Act of 2006 gave the SEC insufficient oversight authority. In fact, the
SEC must give an approval rating to credit ratings agencies if they are
adhering to their own standards -- even if the SEC knows those standards
to be flawed.

From a financial regulatory standpoint, what should be done going
forward? The first step is certainly to undo what Wall Street has
wrought. More in future columns on an affirmative agenda to restrain the
financial sector.

None of this will be easy, however. Wall Street may be disgraced, but it
is not prostrate. Financial sector lobbyists continue to roam the halls
of Congress, former Wall Street executives have high positions in the
Obama administration, and financial sector propagandists continue to
warn of the dangers of interfering with "financial innovation."

Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational
Monitor, <> and director of Essential
Action <>.

(c) Robert Weissman

This article is posted at:

Practically Perfect in Every Way

The great Jed utterly and completely nails it in the following video.

Kos on
Limbaugh is the winger's fault, not anyone else's

Stung by the negative public reaction to Rush's takeover of the Republican Party, a new line of spin has been birthed by the crazies on the Right -- that the dastardly Democrats have conspired to push Limbaugh into the public debate to take away attention from the failed Obama Administration.

Yeah, yeah, laugh. It is hilarious, particularly because the American people are loving what Obama and the Democrats are doing. But before these blowhards start casting about for blame, maybe they should take a look in the mirror:

In short, they were practically creaming themselves in anticipation of Limbaugh's CPAC speech, and spent days promoting it non-stop. Catch the Fox News bimbo say, after yet another FNC promo for the speech, "He's like a god at CPAC!" Did Democrats make her say that?

Throw in the repeated groveling by the GOP's leadership at Limbaugh's feet (also the fault of Democrats, I'm sure), and Limbaugh's own bombastic proclamations laying claim to the conservative movement, and really, all Democrats (and their allies) have to do is sit back and point to the circus show. There's no need to orchestrate anything.

It's pretty obvious for all to see.

Healthcare, RW lies, Fainting Couches, and Swingsets

Think Progress: OBAMA: Now I just want to be clear if you actually saw the movie, they did drive over the cliff. So, just want to be clear, that’s not our intention. (Laughter)

Highly recommended. Yglesias: Why We’re Summitting About Health Care
Given that there’s no particular health care plan that’s yet got nearly the level of legislative momentum behind it for anyone to be worried about it passing or failing, it may not be immediately obvious to people why the White House is bothering to hold a health care summit today. The reason is that securing agreement on the meta-issue that “there should be large-scale health care reform in the near future” is more important than it might seem. Specifically, the prospects for any particular reform measure passing get much better if the budget resolution can pass with an adequate level of headroom for a plan to fit into. Consequently, there’s not only no need to discuss particular reforms but in many respects it would be counterproductive to do so. Instead, we’re talking about “reform” and the need for it.

Then we have the people in the middle. These are people, and you find them in both parties, who happily concede the need to reform the health care system. But they think the time isn’t right. Maybe we should wait until we solve the economic crisis, end the war in Iraq, stabilize Pakistan, and balance the budget and then sometimes in the dim mists of the future we can reform the health care system. Maybe we “can’t afford it” right now.

The problem with this view is that we can’t afford not to do it. ...

The speech ended. "Let's get to work," the President said. The attendees -- a mixture of congressmen, advocates, stakeholders, and analysts -- filed down the long hall to their breakout sessions. Another reporter turned to me. "What did you think of the speech?" He asked. "Pretty banal, right?"

And maybe it was. We've heard Obama say that "our goal will be to enact comprehensive health care reform by the end of this year." We've heard him say that ... There was nothing new here.

But this is the banality of progress. It is no longer a scoop to report that Obama plans to pass health reform by the end of 2009. There is no surprise when he emphasizes the fiscal necessity of change or the moral urgency of reform. Today's summit, so far, has provided for few easy headlines. It is just another step on the road to a bill. It's the process. That may be banal, yes. But when the President of the United States pushing forward on health reform becomes banal, then that, in itself, is news.

The President's full remarks follow the fold. ...

Benen on BUILDING ON A SENSE OF COMMON PURPOSE....Since I just got finished highlighting the health care idiocy of one far-right Republican lawmaker, I guess it's only fair that I also point to some surprisingly encouraging comments from another far-right Republican lawmaker on the same subject.

Elana Schor noted Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Texas) appearance at today's health care event at the White House. Now, Barton, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is not exactly a "moderate." So when he made these remarks, it was a very pleasant surprise.

This is a different approach [than the one embraced by the Clinton White House]. [Sen. Chuck] Grassley and [Sen. Max] Baucus working together in the Senate is great ... we can get a different result. You can't oppose the president's principles. It's in the details, though, and how you put the plan together. But this is a good step." [emphasis added]

I don't doubt that Barton will have some significant concerns about the eventual plan, but his concession effectively means that even conservative Republicans are prepared to accept the need for a reform initiative, and work towards a solution.

This may not sound like much of a breakthrough, but .... ... It's a foundation -- Democrats and Republicans can at least agree that there's a problem and it needs a solution, soon. It's not much, but given Republican obstinacy of late, it's something to build upon.

Speaking of republican obstinacy, here's
Maddow: GOP vs. Steele? March 5: A leaked memo from an active member of the Republican National Committee called for Chairman Michael Steele's resignation. Rachel Maddow is joined by Dr. Ada Fisher, the woman who wrote the memo.

Important question, inspired by Cohen's lame One France Is Enough column in the Times, from Kevin Drum, "Is there something about having a New York Times column that makes you lose your mind? Obama wants to push taxes on the super wealthy back up to 2001 levels. He wants to move in the direction of carbon pricing and universal healthcare, just like he promised repeatedly during the campaign. He wants to increase defense spending, but increase it slightly less than the Pentagon would like. Stimulus outlays aside, the budget as a whole is up only moderately compared to two years ago. If you object to this, fine. But Cohen doesn't."

Memewatch: too fast, too furious

It’s interesting to watch these things evolve. Brooks last week:

But the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor — caught up in the self-flattering belief that history has called upon it to solve all problems at once.

Roger Cohen ...

Jay Leno last night:

... Is he biting off too much? Should we just go, ‘All right, let’s fix the economy; next year we’ll talk about health care or energy.’ Should you pick one and focus on that? It’s like we’re doing everything all at the same time.”

Broder yesterday: ... Brooks today: ...

All of these critiques have one thing in common: they offer no substantive criticism of any particulars of any policy but rather an overall pessimism about the possibility of doing anything. In that sense, this is a classic example of a Beltway meme. It has no basis in any definable or quantifiable reality, but instead exists only as an unspecific reaction in the guts of various Beltway wisemen.

  • Attaturk thinks the beltway Thinks Small

    OMG! The President, he's...

    1. Too ambitious! (David Gergen)

    2. Doing too much! (David Brooks)

    3. Working too hard! (NY Times)

    4. Too mean to Rush Limbaugh (John Boehner)

    All of which apparently make him...

    5. Too popular!

    Meanwhile, how is the GOP doing?

    Four months after John McCain’s sweeping defeat, senior Republicans are coming to grips with the fact that the party is still...looking for the bottom.

    They're not even trying to avoid punchlines anymore.

Speaking of lousy journalism, here's Aravosis: Since the media has now jumped to Rush's defense, let's revisit exactly what Limbaugh said
I'm reading more and more reporters making the ludicrous statement that Rush Limbaugh's words were taken out of context when we quote him saying he wants Obama to fail. Listen to Limbaugh for yourself. There are three different multi-minute audio selections of Limbaugh saying, outright, that he wants the stimulus package to fail. He says it repeatedly. He says it, not in a snippet - he says it in a multi-minute rant. You really need to hear this man speak - I know it sucks, but do it. Listen to the audio. Limbaugh is one of the leaders, if not the most prominent leader, of the Republican party. He outright says, repeatedly, that he wants Obama to fail, that he wants the stimulus package to fail. And yes, my reporter friends, it is despicable to suggest that anyone wants the stimulus package to fail when the stimulus' goal is to save 4 million jobs, and stop us from falling into a depression. When failure means possible economic collapse. The words aren't out of context, they're in context. And they are despicable. And typical, of the conservative wing that controls the Republican party today. For the corporate media to come running to Rush's defense, to claim that his comments are out of context, is beyond belief. Listen for yourself.
Yglesias: Military-Industrial Complex Planning to Use Taxpayer Dollars to Lobby for Waste

Spencer Ackerman reports on defense contractors gearing up for battle with the Obama administration:

One Pentagon official expects much more of that as the services and the defense industry push back against reform. Their “ground game,” the official said, will be run from the services’ legislative outreach and public-affairs offices, feeding talking points and strategy information to sympathetic members of Congress ... An “air game” will feature “a lot of ominous whispers on background to the press and conservative think tanks and commentators about endangering the American people and costing lives in some future fight.”

Gates, whom Obama tasked with working closely with OMB, has told confidantes that he views a sustainable long-term rebalancing of defense priorities as one of his most important tasks now that Obama has given him the chance to continue on as Pentagon chief. His service under the Bush administration was more about supporting the immediate needs of the Iraq war after Bush fired Rumsfeld in November 2006. “The services are accustomed to reviews that start out with a lot of talk about setting priorities and making tough choices but in reality usually end with leaving everything more or less intact,” the Pentagon official said. “This time they have a secretary who really means it.”

Note that “the services’ legislative outreach and public-affairs offices” are technically part of the United States government. Indeed, they’re technically not supposed to be doing any lobbying at all. In fact, they regularly lobby congress against positions taken by the civilian leadership of the United States and on behalf of the defense contractors they’re hoping will employ them post-retirement.

  • dday: The Contractors Strike Back
    ... The fact that the door between the Pentagon and the defense industry is constantly revolving means that a government official who steers contracts to the right company is simply fattening their own resume for the inevitable post-public service career. This is why it's called a military-industrial complex, after all.

    And under the Bush regime, this kind of coziness between government officials and their cronies was simply rampant. In a little-discussed tidbit in yesterday's press briefing, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack mentions a $400,000 consulting contact with the USDA that he recently cancelled because career staffers considered it "inappropriate." There's a follow-up, and the information had to practically be dragged out of Vilsack, but the picture he eventually paints is one of a mob boss creating make-work jobs for his henchmen (Major Garrett is the questioner, trying to make some case for the necessity of useless contracts to avoid lawsuits, or something): ... As these things go, NCFAP doesn't even sound all that bad, but this is just one example of the insidious web of official Washington, between think tanks and contractors and politicians and journalists and staffers and hangers-on, that Obama is basically taking on with this effort. It's necessary, but it's going to be a very hard road that's bound to be more than a little disappointing along the way.

Josh Marshall asks Repuglicans to Please Grow Up
There's often a lot of game-playing in getting appointees approved by the senate. But this requires more attention. The senate Republicans are refusing to give a vote to two of President Obama's key (hopefully soon to be) economic advisors -- Austan Goolsbee and Cecilia Rouse. So for the moment they're barred from advising the president at all. The Republicans seem pretty candid about the fact that this is pay back for stuff that happened back in the Bush era. But aren't we in the throes of a catastrophic economic crisis?
  • Hilzoy adds:

    Meanwhile, Sen. Robert Menendez and other anonymous Senators have blocked two of Obama's science advisors. This isn't just bad for science, it's bad for the economic stimulus package, which contains a lot of science funding:

    "The holdup could slow timely science and environmental policy work between Congress and the administration, particularly the spending of roughly $21.5 billion dedicated to science in the economic recovery package."

  • via Drum, Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post:

    Barack Obama made no secret of his feelings for "Washington lobbyists" during the campaign and vowed that they wouldn't be staffing his White House. The implementation of that rule, however, has led to a number of consequences that Obama could never have intended....Lobbyists who for years have fought for workers' rights, environmental protection, human rights, pay-equity for women, consumer protection and other items on the Obama agenda have found the doors to the White House HR department slammed shut.

Tim F. Times Change
It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans imagined themselves as defenders against moneyed elites. That was great.

It is kind of remarkable to watch conservatives collectively pivot from Palinist elite bashing to Santelli-fueled Galtism in about three months. Figuring out how someone can do that is a challenge only if you’re the kind of person who cares about ideas.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Zombie RW Lies

Jed Lewison nails it.
It all started when Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal falsely accused Democrats of inserting an earmark calling for an $8 billion rail line between Disneyland and Las Vegas. Now, the Fox News-GOP propaganda machine is claiming the nonexistent Disney-Vegas rail line goes straight from Disneyland to the door of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada.

The problem is, even if the fictitious Fox News-GOP rail line actually existed, it wouldn’t even get you halfway to the Bunny Ranch, which is located 422 miles from Las Vegas.

The whole thing is a complete lie, another example of how Fox News is really just a partisan news network with zero regard for truth and accuracy.

K-Tum: "So please read this story."

Karen Tumulty: How the Health Care Crisis Hit Home for My Family

And how it might hit yours, too:

Like most journalists, I do my best to operate in a comfort zone of detachment. But the subject of my cover story in the upcoming edition of TIME is one about which I won't claim the slightest bit of objectivity. It is about my brother Patrick. Last summer, he found out his kidneys were failing; a few weeks later, he found out his health insurance wasn't going to pay for his treatment.

... Health problems are behind half the bankruptcies in this country, and three-quarters of those bankrupt people had health insurance when they got sick. Just about anyone could be one diagnosis away from catastrophe. My editors decided to put this story on the cover not because it is so extraordinary, but because it is so common, and becoming more so every day.

So please read this story. And after you do, go find your health insurance policy and read it, too.

Stewart on Fire

In a rational world, CNBC would not survive a takedown like this. This one "comedy" show was a more substantive look at crappy media stories and the financial problems we face than I have seen almost anywhere else. Maybe Maddow has done as well.

It all becomes clear.