Friday, November 20, 2009

Wingnut Newsflash: Obama lost election!!!!!!!

Marshall (TPM): Americans Shame America

Fox News did a poll of what Americans think of an American president bowing to the Japanese Emperor.

You'll remember, this is when Obama shamed America and sent a signal of weakness to emperors worldwide by bowing to the Emperor Akihito, as is the custom in that country.

Oddly enough, Fox phrased the question in a pretty fair way. And Americans answered overwhelmingly that it was fine: 67% to 26%.

Marshall (TPM): Regular Daily Segment

We just had that new daily segment on Fox News where they apologize for getting caught using phony video to inflate GOP crowd sizes the previous day.

Fun new segment.

Kleefeld (TPM): Poll: Majority Of Republicans Think Obama Didn't Actually Win 2008 Election -- ACORN Stole It!

The new national poll from Public Policy Polling (D) has an astonishing number about paranoia among the GOP base: Republicans do not think President Obama actually won the 2008 election -- instead, ACORN stole it.

This number goes a long way towards explaining the anger of the Tea Party crowd. They not only think Obama's agenda is against America, but they don't think he was actually the choice of the American people at all! Interestingly, NY-23 Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman is now accusing ACORN of stealing his race, and Fox News personalities have often speculated about ACORN stealing the 2008 Minnesota Senate race for Al Franken.

The poll asked this question: "Do you think that Barack Obama legitimately won the Presidential election last year, or do you think that ACORN stole it for him?" The overall top-line is legitimately won 62%, ACORN stole it 26%.

Among Republicans, however, only 27% say Obama actually won the race, with 52% -- an outright majority -- saying that ACORN stole it, and 21% are undecided. Among McCain voters, the breakdown is 31%-49%-20%. By comparison, independents weigh in at 72%-18%-10%, and Democrats are 86%-9%-4%.

Now, the obvious comparison would be that many Democrats felt that George W. Bush didn't legitimately win the 2000 election. But there are some clear differences.

First of all, Al Gore empirically won the national popular vote in 2000, and lost in a disputed recount process in Florida. By comparison, John McCain lost the national popular vote by a 53%-46% margin.

In order to believe that Obama wasn't the true winner of the 2008 election, one would have to think that ACORN (and perhaps other groups) stuffed ballots to the tune of over 9.5 million votes, Obama's national margin.

PPP communications director Tom Jensen says: "Belief in the ACORN conspiracy theory is even higher among GOP partisans than the birther one, which only 42% of Republicans expressed agreement with on our national survey in September."

  • Kevin Drum adds:
    I understand that constantly calling the Republican base batshit crazy gets old. I really do. Honest. But via TPM, check out this survey result from Public Policy Polling: 52% of Republicans now think that ACORN stole the 2008 election from John McCain.

    There aren't words for this. Something like 40 million Republicans are now convinced that ACORN (!) somehow managed to steal an election that McCain lost by seven percentage points. Another 20 million think they might have stolen it but aren't sure. The Fox/Limbaugh/Palin axis, which probably directly reaches maybe 10 million people on a regular basis, has nonetheless convinced six times that number to buy into a conspiracy theory that makes the Area 51 crowd look sane by comparison.

    This is craziness. I could understand 10 or 15% believing this. That's sort of the base level of people who will believe any nutty idea. But 52%? Someone in the GOP needs to take a deep breath and a long look in the mirror, and then try to rescue their party. Condoning insanity is not a long-term electoral strategy.

HuffPost: Arianna On Olbermann: Glenn Beck Is "Morally Liable" For His Words "If Violence Ensues From What He Says" (VIDEO)

Arianna Huffington went on MSNBC's Countdown to discuss a new report from the Anti-Defamation League on anti-government rage, that calls Glenn Beck the "Fearmonger-in-Chief."

The report calls Beck "the most important mainstream media figure who has repeatedly helped stoke the fires of anti-government anger."

Arianna argued that although Beck may not be legally liable, he is "morally liable" for the violence and anger his show may provoke.

Think Progress: Foxx: Republicans ‘Passed Civil Rights Bills Back In The 60s Without Very Much Help’ From Democrats

During a debate on the House floor today over designating 21 miles of the Molalla River as “wild and scenic,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who opposes the legislation, tried to claim a progressive environmental record for her party. “Actually, the GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this country,” said Foxx.

Foxx then extended her claims of the GOP’s progressive history to the issue of civil rights. “Just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the ’60s without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle,” said Fox. “They love to engage in revisionist history.” When Foxx finally yielded her time on the floor, Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) passionately rebuked her:

CARDOZA: Today, what I’m hearing on the floor really takes the cake. The gentlelady from North Carolina, in her statement just now, indicated that the Republican GOP had passed the Civil Rights Act legislation with almost no help from the Democrats. I can’t believe my ears. It was the Kennedy and Johnson administration where we passed that Great Society legislation. It was over the objections of people like Jesse Helms from the gentlewoman’s state that we passed that civil rights legislation. John Lewis…

FOXX: Would, would the gentleman yield?

CARDOZA: No, I will not yield. John Lewis, a member of this House, was beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge to get that civil rights legislation passed. Tell John Lewis that he wasn’t part of getting that legislation passed.

When she was given a chance to respond, Foxx could only say that Jesse Helms wasn’t elected to the Senate until 1972. Watch it:

Foxx’s claim that Republicans were the real engine behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a common notion among conservatives. But as Cardoza points out, it was President Lyndon Johnson who “choreographed passage of this historic measure in 1964.” In fact, the Republican presidential candidate in 1964, Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ), voted against the legislation.

To support the claim that Republicans were actually the architects of civil rights, conservatives often point out that a “higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats supported the civil-rights bill.” But this ignores the “distinct split between Northern and Southern politicians” on the issue. When this is taken into account, the facts show that “in both the North and the South, Democrats supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act at a higher rate than the Republicans.”

Anti-Islam paranoia the new McCarthyism Nov. 19: Rachel Maddow is joined by Suhail Khan, senior fellow for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement, to talk about the right wing's apparent anti-Islam sentiment.

John Cole: Welcome to Judge Arpaio’s Police State

This is insane:

Freelance journalist Nick Martin has an update on Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Stoddard, who last October was caught on video swiping a file in open court from defense attorney defense attorney Joanne Cuccia.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Gary Donahoe held a hearing on the matter, and on Tuesday ordered Stoddard to hold a press conference to apologize. It’s a weak and odd way of admonishing Stoddard for such a brazen trespass on attorney-client privilege (not to mention Stoddard’s arguable violation of a number of other laws, rights, and rules of procedure).

You really have to watch the video. The cop just walks up, starts snooping through her notes, calls over another deputy, pulls stuff out of her folder, hands it to another cop, and he walks out with it.

And, he will most likely get away with it. Time to break out the foam USA fingers. You can’t get justice like that in a Banana Republic! Oh, wait.

Blue Texan (FDL): Late Night: Fred Thompson, Defeatist Underminer of US Troops, Says We’ve Lost the War in Afghanistan

Why has Fred Thompson lost faith in our troops in the field?

Former Sen. Fred Thompson today intensified his party’s criticism of President Obama’s long deliberation over policy in Afghanistan, announcing that Obama’s delay signals that “the war has been lost” and that nothing the president now does will “make any difference.”

I wonder if the Anchor Baby will solicit letters from active military accusing Thompson of treason?

I wonder if Ollie North will write angry op-eds for Faux News accusing Thompson of embracing defeat?

I wonder if Bill Kristol will call Thompson a “disgrace”?

I wonder if Rick Moran will accuse Thompson of “giving aid and comfort to the enemy“?

I wonder if Sean Hannity will say that Thompson wants American troops to die?


Still, it is worth revisiting this.

Related posts
Jesus General: Senators prescribe firearms for PTSD and other mental disabilities
As many as 300,000 veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are afflicted with post traumatic stress disorder and other mental disabilities. The suicide rate for soldiers is now five times higher than in the Persian Gulf War and 11% greater than during Vietnam. Crimes of violence are skyrocketing on military bases, making the surrounding communities some of the most dangerous cities in the country.

Thank God, Senators Burr and Webb have identified the source of the problem: "mentally incapacitated" veterans are angry and frustrated because the Gun Control Act of 1968 bars them from owning firearms.

Yes, that's right, the federal government uses mental competency as a litmus test for whether a person should own a gun or not.

Unbelievable, but that's socialism for you.

Fortunately, Burr, Webb and 18 other senators are sponsoring legislation to right this wrong. The Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act will allow mentally incapacitated vets to buy guns unless a judge diagnoses them to be psychologically unfit to own firearms.

It's nice to see that the Senate isn't spending all it's time on crazy things like a public health care option.

Elsewhere: Sen. Burr wants to protects us from the threat posed by due process.

Getting to know Sen. Tom Coburn Nov. 19: TMI: Kent Jones joins Rachel Maddow to take a closer look at Republican Sen. Tom Coburn

...a bit of a loser's instinct.

Ezra Klein: Why solve problems?

"After you do one really, really big, really, really hard thing that makes everybody mad, I don't think anybody's excited about doing another really, really big thing that's really, really hard that makes everybody mad," Sen. Claire McCaskill said. "Climate fits that category."

I'm reluctant to really beat up on McCaskill for this statement, as you hear it all the time, and it is an accurate reflection of how Congress feels about, you know, working. It's good when politicians say true things. But that doesn't excuse the perversity of the legislative branch, which measures its workload in terms of political pressures rather than problems that have to be solved. It's one thing for James Inhofe to oppose climate change legislation, but for a senator who believes in the problem to feel more urgency about reelection than carbon pricing is morally astonishing.

Reading that last bit, I almost deleted this post. Beating up on Congress for caring more about politics than about problems. How trite! But that instinct is the accomplice of the problem. The fact that most members of Congress know we have a fiscal crisis looming and know we're cooking the climate and still seem more interested in reelection than in not being complicit to utter disaster is a scandal, and there's no use acting all wry and knowing about it. It's good that Congress is solving, I don't know, 45 percent of the health-care problem, but that's not the same as it being "enough." Nobody forced them to run for office, but so long as they're there, they have to deal with what the moment throws at them. They can solve fewer problems when there are fewer problems to solve.

  • from the comments:

    Claire McCaskill has a bit of a loser's instinct. It's not that "we can't do two really big hard things." The correct mindset is that "if we try to do a really big hard thing and win, then it makes winning on the next really big hard thing even easier."

    Combine this with the spite vote-- "let's show those Oklahomans who love Inhofe that Missourians think you guys are crazy!" -- and you have the potential to do something with your political power.

    Posted by: constans | November 19, 2009 5:26 PM
Smooth Like Remy: Joe Lieberman Is A Lying Sack Of Shit
I know I am not breaking any news here with the headline. But Ezra Klein fisks his latest wankery, the claim that President Obama never talked about a public option in health care before the election.

In the immortal words of Dana Milbank, "What a Dick"
Ezra Klein: Joe Lieberman says Obama didn't support a public option during the campaign

"If you look at the campaign last year, presidential, you can’t find a mention of public option,” Joe Lieberman said. “It was added after the election as a part of what we normally consider health insurance reform." That's not true, of course. Much like Lieberman's belief that the public option will increase the deficit, which has been rejected by the CBO, and has never been explained by Lieberman (requests to his office for comment or clarification were not returned).

But why go to all this trouble? Lieberman doesn't have to support the public option. He can oppose it on philosophical grounds, or on personal principles. Instead, he keeps raising verifiably untrue objections. It's baffling.
Let's see. First, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said he liked the Stupak amendment and would be "highly unlikely" to vote for health care reform unless it included the language, or something very close to it, in the final bill. Then, Nelson shifted gears, saying he misunderstood a reporter's questions the first time, and is satisfied with Senate Dems' restrictions on public funding of abortion.

Now, Nelson has moved back in the other direction again.

The language in the Senate healthcare reform bill designed to bar federal funds from paying for abortions is not good enough, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) modified the healthcare bills approved by two committees in order to address concerns from anti-abortion-rights senators that the bill would change current laws prohibiting taxpayer money from being spent on abortion while not alienating abortion-rights supporters.

Reid did not succeed, according to Nelson, a key centrist swing vote Reid needs to advance his healthcare bill at a crucial test vote set for Saturday.

"We have looked at the language," Nelson told The Hill. "That language is not language that I would prefer.... I think you need to have it eminently clear that no dollars that are federal tax dollars, directly or indirectly, are used to pay for abortions and it needs to be totally clear. [It's] not clear enough, I don't think."

But here's the kicker: Nelson may be playing a little game here. Reid's measure on abortion funding is the right way to go, and Nelson almost certainly knows it. So what's the problem? Nelson wants to kill the public option once and for all. In fact, Nelson said today, "If there's no public option, perhaps some of the [abortion] problem goes away."

The problem, then, isn't with the abortion-related language -- Nelson is just looking for leverage. The message to Reid, in effect, is, "You get rid of the public option and I'll accept your provisions on abortion."

Also note, Nelson said yesterday, "If you don't like the bill, then why would you block your own opportunity to amend it?" Today, he said he's undecided on whether he would block his own opportunity to amend the bill.

And speaking of "centrists," Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is still threatening to kill health care reform if there's a public option -- and now thinks he can pull some other Dems with him.

Maybe now would be a good time to pause and note how unbelievably ridiculous these center-right senators are being. Harry Reid has offered them an affordable reform bill that doesn't cost too much, lowers the deficit, restricts funding of abortion, restricts aid to immigrants, and doesn't raise taxes on the middle class.

And the "centrists" are still complaining, suggesting they're not really willing to compromise on anything.

Reform advocates see remain hopeful Nov. 19: Rachel Maddow is joined by Sen. Amy Klobuchar to talk about the health care debate and the fight to get conservative Democrats on board.
Think Progress: Senate health bill restores abstinence-only education funding.

President Obama’s FY2010 budget eliminated funding for abstinence-only education and school districts are increasingly moving away from such programs because they have proven to be ineffective at reducing teen pregnancy. However, Newsweek reports that the recently released Senate health care bill restores some funding for abstinence-only programs, inserted by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), which seems to be “a slight concession to the Senate’s social conservatives”:

Their provision would restore a program called Title V, which, since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, has allocated a yearly $50 million in grants to abstinence-only education programs. Obama let the program lapse in June, leaving some abstinence-only groups in dire straits. So in September, Sen. Orrin Hatch offered an amendment to restore Title V via heath-care reform, which (much to the outrage of liberal groups) just squeaked through the Senate Finance Committee with a 12–11 vote. A similar amendment, offered in the House by Rep. Terry Lee from Nebraska, died in committee.

If the Senate language survives reconciliation, the Title V program will be extended through 2014. This will not, however, bring abstinence funding back to the levels of the past decade. In 2008, Title V grants accounted for just under 25 percent of the federal abstinence budget (the rest of the budget came from other abstinence-only funding sources not restored in the Senate bill, including Community Based Abstinence Education Grants and the Adolescent Family Life Act).

Funding for comprehensive sex education is also in the bill. Sec. 2953 also provides “$75 million per year through FY2014 for Personal Responsibility Education grants to States for programs to educate adolescents on both abstinence and contraception for prevention of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Trawling for Assassins

The right's reckless rhetoric Nov. 17: Rachel Maddow is joined by The Huffington Post's Frank Schaeffer to assess the latest anti-Obama rhetoric from the right, including praying for his early death.
Washington Times editor Wesley Pruden trashed President Obama in his column today, which wouldn't ordinarily be especially interesting. The right-wing writer, however, touched on a specific kind of attack that illustrates a larger trend.

In this case, Pruden is all worked up because the president bowed before the Japanese Emperor. Pruden believes Obama doesn't understand "American history" because "the essence of America is that all men stand equal and are entitled to look even a king, maybe particularly a king, straight in the eye."

That's nice rhetoric, which would be more compelling were it not for the various photos of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and H.W. Bush bowing before foreign leaders during their respective tenures. I've looked for related columns of Pruden trashing these Republican presidents for forgetting "the essence of America," but can't seem to find any.

But the key to the column is the wrap-up:

...Mr. Obama, unlike his predecessors, likely knows no better, and many of those around him, true children of the grungy '60s, are contemptuous of custom. Cutting America down to size is what attracts them to "hope" for "change." It's no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what the America of "the 57 states" is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared by grandparents in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.

This is obviously some pretty offensive nonsense from a shameless hack, but it also speaks to a Know-Nothing strain that lingers in American politics.

Nativism was more common during last year's campaign. Columnist Kathleen Parker, for example, wrote a piece in May 2008 on questions of candidates and "full-bloodedness." She wrote, "It's about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots.... We love to boast that we are a nation of immigrants. But there's a different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines back through generations of sacrifice.... Full-blooded Americans get this."

The skepticism was, of course, directed at Barack Obama, which is odd when one thinks about it -- his grandfather fought in Patton's Army, and Obama himself is apparently a distant cousin of Dick Cheney. How his "roots" have been deemed inadequate is a mystery.

Unless, of course, you're a conservative who think the president's father doesn't count because he was African; his mother doesn't count because she married a man from "the Third World"; and his birthplace doesn't count because it's a non-contiguous state. It's what makes Pruden comfortable openly mocking the president's "blood impulse" -- as if the president is only technically American, in a way that we shouldn't respect.

It's a shame such reminders are necessary in the 21st century, but I'd like to note that America isn't a country club or fraternity reserved for the white, wealthy elite. Obama's story is a uniquely American story. Some of us take pride in such things. The notion that we must judge citizens based on a right-wing understanding of "natural instincts" or "heritage" -- more generations = more American -- is an idea that offends everything our country stands for.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our Media

Can you doubt it?
Ben Frumin (TPM):
On Monday night, the Daily Show argued that a civilian trial in New York City for self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a bad idea -- not necessarily for some of the reasons offered by conservatives -- but because the media will definitely go way overboard.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Law & Order: KSM
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Atrios calls the following piece journamalism. I wonder why.
Newsweek Taps Bush Aide For Obama Reporting

See if you can follow this logic.

A recent article in Newsweek states that Democrats could have won a "very significant number of Republican votes in Congress" for the stimulus -- had there only been a "meaningful tax-cut component." Political journalism is often imaginative, but this verges on delusion. After all, Obama labored to add about $280 billion in tax cuts to the stimulus -- over objections from many Democrats -- and still netted zero Republican votes in the House. Then, the piece asserts that Obama has no "coattails," based on 2009 elections, and reports "early signs of Obama fatigue are emerging." (Again, another observer might note that Democrats have won all 5 special congressional elections this year.) The article also predicts that gubernatorial losses in Virginia and New Jersey "will" make some Democrats "very nervous" about health care reform, which is a "political risk" for the party.

"We appear to be witnessing the beginnings of a significant Republican revival," continues the piece, bringing home its quirky counter-narrative. Lucky for struggling Democrats, however, this Newsweek item closes with some free political advice. "Liberals in Washington would do well to let go of the Republican breakdown narrative," notes the final sentence, "and pull back to the center--or suffer the consequences."

It's the kind of article that might leave you wondering if the author simply works for the G.O.P.

Newsweek's byline states that the writer, Yuval Levin, is "editor of National Affairs and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center." It all sounds quite journalistic and non-partisan. But Levin is also a former aide to President George W. Bush. (He served on the White House domestic policy staff as recently as 2006). If anything, this government experience makes Levin's political analysis more interesting. Why keep it from readers?

As it happens, Levin's first piece for Newsweek, back in March, was prominently billed as Obama analysis from "a Bush veteran." So I put the question to Newsweek, and spokesperson Katherine Barna shares their rationale:

Levin's previous article for Newsweek involved the issue of bioethics, his primary focus while at the White House. He disclosed his prior position in the body of that piece. His most recent article was not related to that topic. We believe our readers are aware of Mr. Levin's background, and are able to discern a reported news article from argument, which Levin's recent piece was. (Emphasis added.)

Really? Does anyone think most readers keep track of White House staff by name? Or that readers memorized Levin's affiliation from March? It's hard to tell if the magazine somehow believes this argument, or just doesn't care that it's not very believable.

And, of course, the whole point of a byline is to provide "background." Levin's article already lists two affiliations for background -- they are just less relevant than his affiliation serving in a senior position in Obama's opposing party, since Levin is purporting to advise "liberals in Washington."

While we're at it, Levin has also been leading the fight to squash Obama's health care plans. He coauthored a June column with another former G.O.P. official, Bill Kristol, declaring, "ObamaCare is wrong. It should and can be defeated." Levin fails to disclose that position during his Newsweek health care coverage, which argues that reform is a "political risk" for Democrats, (his political opponents).

Now yes, people may be so accustomed to paltry disclosure and conflicts of interest that this all draws a collective yawn. Surely there are bigger problems to blog today. And so on. But it is striking that, as public views of the press hit 20-year lows, major media organizations still will not take responsibility for giving their readers basic transparency and information about contributors. And it's especially rich when the proffered explanation is that readers already know.

O'Reilly Asks Dobbs: 'Barack Obama - Is He The Devil?'

C&L: ADL report on tide of anti-Obama rage calls out Glenn Beck as 'fearmonger in chief'

It's nice to know that we're not alone in raising concerns about the increasingly unhinged nature of the kind of rhetoric right-wing talkers are unleashing in the name of their jihad against President Obama -- in no small part because such rhetoric inevitably produces acts of horrific violence.

Yesterday, the Anti-Defamation League confirmed that these concerns are anything but groundless, with a devastating report titled "Rage Grows in America: Anti‑Government Conspiracies":

Since the election of Barack Obama as president, a current of anti-government hostility has swept across the United States, creating a climate of fervor and activism with manifestations ranging from incivility in public forums to acts of intimidation and violence.

What characterizes this anti-government hostility is a shared belief that Obama and his administration actually pose a threat to the future of the United States. Some accuse Obama of plotting to bring socialism to the United States, while others claim he will bring about Nazism or fascism. All believe that Obama and his administration will trample on individual freedoms and civil liberties, due to some sinister agenda, and they see his economic and social policies as manifestations of this agenda. In particular anti-government activists used the issue of health care reform as a rallying point, accusing Obama and his administration of dark designs ranging from “socialized medicine” to “death panels,” even when the Obama administration had not come out with a specific health care reform plan. Some even compared the Obama administration’s intentions to Nazi eugenics programs.

Some of these assertions are motivated by prejudice, but more common is an intense strain of anti-government distrust and anger, colored by a streak of paranoia and belief in conspiracies. These sentiments are present both in mainstream and “grass-roots” movements as well as in extreme anti-government movements such as a resurgent militia movement. Ultimately, this anti-government anger, if it continues to grow in intensity and scope, may result in an increase in anti-government extremists and the potential for a rise of violent anti-government acts.

Just as we have frequently remarked here, this rage is being fed to a remarkable extent by mainstream media pundits on the right, particularly Glenn Beck, who has a long history of promoting extremist ideas and rhetoric:

Though much of the impetus for anti-government sentiment has come from a variety of grass-roots and extremist groups, segments of the mainstream media have played a surprisingly active role in generating such segment. Though a number of media figures and commentators have taken part, the media personality who has played the most active role has been radio and television host Glenn Beck, who along with many of his guests have made a habit of demonizing the Obama administration and promoting conspiracy theories about it. Beck has acted as a “fearmonger-in-chief,” raising anxiety about and distrust towards the government.

It devotes a whole section to exploring this:

The most important mainstream media figure who has repeatedly helped to stoke the fires of anti-government anger is right-wing media host Glenn Beck, who has a TV show on FOX News and a popular syndicated radio show. While other conservative media hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, routinely attack Obama and his administration, typically on partisan grounds, they have usually dismissed or refused to give a platform to the conspiracy theorists and anti-government extremists. This has not been the case with Glenn Beck. Beck and his guests have made a habit of demonizing President Obama and promoting conspiracy theories about his administration.

On a number of his TV and radio programs, Beck has even gone so far as to make comparisons between Hitler and Obama and to promote the idea that the president is dangerous.

The ADL report was issued that same day as Sam Stein's devastating examination of the extremists Beck has historically promoted on his programs:

The Huffington Post took a look some of the bombastic host's past guests and found names steeped in controversy. Beck has hosted, and even occasionally praised, a renowned white supremacist, a devout southern secessionist, a defender of slavery, and a 9/11 skeptic.

... If Beck were a self-avowed journalist -- which he's not -- these guests could be chalked up as an effort to foster intriguing debate, whether about immigration policy, constitutional principles or the strength of the dollar. But, taken as a whole, the roster reflects the host's partiality to an ideology that is far-right if not outright extremist.

Of course, this is a subject C&L readers are well familiar with. But the evidence keeps piling up: Glenn Beck is perhaps the foremost conduit for extremist belief systems and ideas to infect our mainstream conservative in the history of the mass media.

And he's just getting started. God only knows to what effect.

An aging Tina Fey impersonator

QOTD, Greg Sargent, finds men thinking with their little buddy:
One other suggestive finding: Palin has significantly higher favorability ratings among men (48%) than among women (39%), and only a third of women think she’s qualified to be the first female president.
QOTD2, Anne Laurie:
The Sarah cut-n-pasting a word salad of political talking points and half-remembered celebrity tropes, seasoned with pageant-queen nods and tics, was not a politician or a writer or even an entertaining racouneur—she was a silly, self-involved, aging Tina Fey impersonator.
DougJ: Shadoobie Shaddegg

Obviously, we can’t hold Congressmen to the same high standards as late night comedians:

On the House floor last night, Media Matters points out, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) made his case against holding trials for 9/11 suspects in New York City, directing a question to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“I saw the mayor of New York said today, ‘We’re tough. We can do it.’ Well, Mayor, how are you going to feel when it’s your daughter that’s kidnapped at school by a terrorist?” Shadegg said.

I’m kind of surprised they haven’t used the “if it was your child strapped to that ticking bomb” argument in favor of torture more, to be honest with you.

  • Atrios adds, Grand Old PantsPoopers: There was always a duality to the Republican chest-thumping, but I'm actually missing the days when they all had fantasies of personally thwarting major terrorist attacks with their cheetoguns. Now it's all WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH.
Smooth Like Remy: "I Don't Care About The Constitution"
Bill O'Reilly finally says what and other right wingers really think about our Constitution.

The more these dumbasses rail against putting KSM and other terrorists on trial here in federal court, the more they are going to reveal the venal cowards that they really are. It will be interesting to see if Bill O'Reilly tries to walk back his denouncement of the document that he and his cohorts claim to be upholding the values of night after night.

Think Progress: ‘Teabagger’ was an Oxford Word of the Year finalist.

In February, when conservatives began protesting against President Obama with tea parties, the Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel photographed a protester carrying a sign that declared, “tea bag the liberal Dems before they tea bag you!!” Soon after, the term “tea bagger” became a ubiquitous and often derogatory handle for right-wing protesters. Now, Mediaite reports that the term “teabagger” was a finalist in consideration to be the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year:

In a press release touting “unfriend” as the word of the year, the New Oxford American Dictionary may have unwittingly made a more controversial move than the New Oxford American Dictionary pretty much ever does.

No, it wasn’t another cutesy tech neologism: they included “teabagger” as one of their Word of the Year finalists.

According to the release, they define “teabagger” as “a person who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as ‘Tea Party’ protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773).”

Richard Cohen:

Finally, the Institute for the Study of Sarah Palin will mull what she represents. She has a phenomenal favorability rating among Republicans -- 76 percent -- who have a quite irrational belief that she would not make such a bad president. What they mean is that she will act out their resentments -- take an ax to the people and institutions they hate. The Palin Movement is fueled by high-octane bile, and it is worth watching and studying for these reasons alone.

It may be asking too much of Bush to put his money into something useful instead of the standard presidential monument of self-aggrandizement. This, though, is his chance: Study Sarah Palin. If she's a comer, then we're all goners.

Eugene Robinson:

No force on Earth can stop Sarah Palin from becoming our very own "lite" version of Eva Perón -- a glamorous and tragic legend, minus the tragedy. Eventually, some clever composer will write a blockbuster musical about her life and times. Stage directions will include: "SARAH fires gun. MOOSE dies." [...]

True believers will not mind. Palin's unconventional trajectory and unkempt mind are seen as authentic, in the sense that we all know people who've had ups and downs in their lives and who couldn't point to Kazakhstan on a map. Her success to date represents a triumph of authenticity over accomplishment. In the final analysis, I believe, that's not enough to make her president. But others seeking the 2012 Republican nomination underestimate her at their peril.

Toward the end of her life, Eva Perón gave a famous speech in which she vowed, "I will return, and I will be millions!" Sarah Palin, our Evita, has returned -- and she will make millions.

Another political gamble for Palin Nov. 16: Rachel Maddow reviews highlights of Sarah Palin's interview on "Oprah" in the context of the half-term governor's political trajectory.
Sully: The Odd Lies Of Sarah Palin XI, Ctd: Asking The Girls

This topic has come up before, and is, in fact, Odd Lie XI. But in the unedited version of the Oprah love-fest, we get yet another version of the story about her asking her children if she should run for vice-president. Here's her latest statement broadcast today:

"This time, there wasn't a family vote. Other steps in my political life, I've polled the kids, and I have abided by some of the results of the polls that the kids have partaken in. This time, no."

This is what she said last fall:

"It was a time of asking the girls to vote on it, anyway. And they voted unanimously, yes. Didn't bother asking my son because, you know, he's going to be off doing his thing anyway, so he wouldn't be so impacted by, at least, the campaign period here. So ask the girls what they thought and they're like, absolutely. Let's do this, mom."

I just want to reiterate the details of the first story. We even find the result of the girls' vote: it was unanimous. And we discover that Track was not polled. But none of this happened at all.

This is not a faulty memory, since the event took place very soon before her first lie about it. And a year later, her memory remembers the truth. So it was a delusional fantasy, or something she thought sounded cool, and had done on previous occasions, so she said it because she figured no one would ever know the truth, so why not make it up?

It was demonstrably untrue at the time, mind you, because we had a contemporaneous document giving a full history of events which proved that logically she had to be lying. And no one in the media, apart from the Dish, ever called her on it.

This is why I will not relent. A person who could have been president told lie after lie after lie in a campaign and the media simply let the fantasies stand. We have no way of knowing what is true or false in her series of statements, and she is never questioned by the media to get at these endless inconsistencies and untruths. Since when does a politician get away with this? And what does it say about our democracy if she can?

Think Progress: Sarah Palin Rejects GOP Senate Candidate Mark Kirk’s Plea For An Endorsement

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a candidate for Senate in 2010, wrote a memo to Sarah Palin requesting that she endorse him during her visit to Chicago for the Oprah Winfrey Show. The Post noted that “Palin’s endorsement [of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman] helped force state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) from the race” in the NY-23 special election, and that Kirk’s memo is “tangible evidence of the power of Palin’s endorsement in a Republican primary.”

The memo is also tangible evidence of Kirk’s willingness to dramatically switch positions in order to gain political power. Last year, Kirk panned Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) selection of Palin as his running mate, telling the Chicago Tribune, “I would have picked someone different.” Asked about Palin’s qualifications for office, Kirk said, “Quite frankly, I don’t know.”

However, it appears that Palin has rejected Kirk’s request for an endorsement. Recently, Kirk told ThinkProgress that he had been expecting her endorsement once she visited Chicago:

TP: How about Sarah Palin? How close are you to getting her endorsement?

KIRK: We sent a memo detailing the race, and she’ll be coming in to Chicago shortly.

Watch it:

However, Palin visited Chicago last week to tape an interview with Winfrey and made no mention of Kirk. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal noted that Kirk was “unsuccessful” in his bid for an endorsement, despite his detailed memo.

Facing a competitive challenge from businessman Patrick Hughes in the Republican primary, Kirk is attempting to veer to the right. After voting in favor of cap-and-trade clean energy legislation during the summer, Kirk quickly changed his mind and told tea party activists that he would vote against the same bill in the Senate. Speaking to another assembly of conservative supporters in April, Kirk suggested that people should shoot Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) for raising taxes.

Sargent: Sarah Palin Tanking Among Moderates, Independents

This isn’t terribly surprising but it’s noteworthy: Whatever successes Sarah Palin is having among Republicans, she’s absolutely tanking among independents and moderates.

The internals of the new ABC News/Washington Post poll find:

* Only 37% of independents think she’s qualified for the presidency, barely more than a third.

* Only 30% of self-described moderates think she’s qualified, less than a third.

* Only 38% of moderates view her favorably, versus 58% who view her unfavorably.

Meanwhile, the new CNN poll finds that only 29% of independents think she’s qualified.

This points to the deepening isolation of Palin Nation — it’s kind of the polling equivalent of her decision to conduct her book tour almost entirely in the Real America.

It also highlights an interesting conundrum she faces as she seeks to maintain a national profile. Palin and her ghostwriters have successfully resorted to the most harsh and lurid attacks on Obama to break through into the national conversation (the death panels being only the most prominent example). But those same tactics are severly complicating her ability to broaden her appeal, to the degree that she even wants to do this in the first place.

One other suggestive finding: Palin has significantly higher favorability ratings among men (48%) than among women (39%), and only a third of women think she’s qualified to be the first female president.

Laurie: Obligatory Sarah Palin

I suspect good progressives are too hip ever to have watched Judging Amy, but the new infotainment-friendly Sarah Palin strikes me as the runaway offspring that Tyne Daly was too embarrassed to tell Amy Brenneman and her siblings about…

Andrew Sullivan complains She wants to be a celebrity, not a politician. And if she could get to be a politician using the prerogatives of a celebrity – and a propaganda channel like Fox News – she would be happy. That’s what’s at stake here – beneath this farce.” Which is a pretty good summary, assuming that the nouns in the second sentence got swapped in the heat of live-blogging: Palin wants to be a celebrity, and was willing to act out what she understood to be a politician’s role to get the prerogatives of celebrity. When Bill Kristol’s Cruise Ship of Fools Neocons breezed into Juneau, Palin had aged out of the beauty-queen pageantry competitions that seem to have been her formative social training, her unwillingness or inability to handle the tedium of actual governance had her underlings trembling on the edge of revolt, and her attempts to reclaim Modern Supermom status on her own or by proxy weren’t going so well. It was… providential!... that Someone should send unto her a Messenger, trailing clouds of astroturfing calculation, proclaiming that Sarah Palin could be chosen to stand among the Elect. For lo, all her life she had been journaling, recording both the firewood-stacking and the prayers that were the Aleph and Omega of her Real American™ small-town red-state life—and at last her determined piety was rewarded! Prosperity Gospel, unbelievers!

For in her latest incarnation, Sarah Palin represents an American stereotype at least as old as the Chatauqua circuit and as new as the American Idol wannabes who get showcased in the early episodes of each new season for their combination of fervent conviction and utter lack of talent. She wishes—she feels entitled—to be Famous, in the way a thirteen-year-old writing fanfiction understands “famous”: Everyone should know her name, and want to be just like her, and love her not for her talents or her achievements but just because she’s Sarah. After all, God wants her to be happy, and how can she be happy if she’s not famous?

I’m not an Oprah watcher, but I think Ms. Winfrey did a pretty good job of undercutting Palin’s “serious” pretentions here. The Sarah cut-n-pasting a word salad of political talking points and half-remembered celebrity tropes, seasoned with pageant-queen nods and tics, was not a politician or a writer or even an entertaining racouneur—she was a silly, self-involved, aging Tina Fey impersonator. Pathetic, and scary.

Think Progress: O’Reilly warns of a coming ‘tax revolt’: ‘Pelosi will be bobbing up and down in the Boston Harbor.’


Glenn Beck had Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on his radio show today to promote their upcoming “Bold & Fresh Tour,” which will take the two right-wing personalities around the country to preach “the truth — straight up, whether you like it or not.” When Beck brought up Dennis Miller’s appearance on the O’Reilly Factor last week — in which Miller warned of a coming “insurrection“– O’Reilly predicted a “tax revolt” that will “get nasty” and end up with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “bobbing up and down in the Boston Harbor.”

BECK: Last week, I head you say that — you were on with Dennis Miller. … You two were talking about an insurrection coming.

O’REILLY: Tax revolt.

BECK: He used the word insurrection. And not in a comedic way.

O’REILLY: Yeah, tax revolt. I think people, when they figure out how badly they’re going to get hurt in the next few years, there’s going to be a tea party on taxes and its gonna get nasty. Nancy Pelosi’s going to be bobbing up and down in the Boston Harbor.

This statement appeared to be too much for Beck even, who replied, “Uh, I don’t think that’s necessary.” Listen here:

It's almost tragic to see what a guy has to do to seek the Republican presidential nomination these days.

In the era of tea-party conservatives, [Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R)] is calculatedly veering to the right. Speaking to the Economist in St. Paul, he recently explained that the Earth might be warming but that it is unclear "to what extent that is the result of natural causes."

Pawlenty obviously knows better. We know he knows better because he has a lengthy, public record on environmental issues that bears no resemblance to his new positions. Lee Fang has a terrific timeline, which makes clear that "over the course of the last three years, Pawlenty has gone from an outspoken proponent of clean energy to a Glenn Beck pandering climate change denier." In late 2006, Pawlenty not only sought to reduce carbon emissions, he even promoted a regional cap-and-trade program. In late 2007, he declared climate change "one of the most important of our time."

That was then. Now Pawlenty opposes his own cap-and-trade plan and claims to question the basics of global warming.

Is winning a primary more important than losing one's self-respect?

Pawlenty was inclined to stay out the special election in New York's 23rd, right up until right-wing bloggers demanded he intervened. He backed the Conservative Party candidate soon after. Pawlenty engaged in grandstanding against ACORN funding that doesn't exist. He validated "death panel" nonsense. He's even dabbled in radical Tenther ideas.

Pawlenty, in other words, still hasn't sought treatment for his Romney-itis. Remember Romney? He was the relatively moderate Republican governor of a reliably "blue" state, who could present himself, with a straight face, as a pragmatic, sane policymaker. That is, until he wanted to be president, and decided to experience some kind of ideological metamorphosis -- sane, moderate pragmatism wouldn't win over the Republican base, so that persona would have to be cast aside. It was painful to watch, and ultimately ineffective.

But that hasn't stopped Pawlenty from trying the identical strategy.

The base demands fealty. Tim Pawlenty hopes to prove to them what a great "leader" he'll be by following their commands and abandoning his own record in the hopes of impressing them.

During the floor debate over health care reform, Rep. John Shadegg (R) of Arizona generated a little attention for himself by bringing a 7-month-old baby to the podium, and pretending to speak on her behalf.

Last night's speech wasn't nearly as adorable. Shadegg spoke from the House floor to rail against a criminal trial for alleged 9/11 conspirators in New York City. In particular, the far-right Arizonan was incensed that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) believes, "It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered."

As Matt Finkelstein reported, Shadegg doesn't see it quite the same way. "I saw the Mayor of New York said today, 'We're tough. We can do it,'" the Republican congressman said. "Well, Mayor, how are you going to feel when it's your daughter that's kidnapped at school by a terrorist? How are you going to feel when it's some clerk -- some innocent clerk of the court -- whose daughter or son is kidnapped? Or the jailer's little brother or little sister?"

As a matter of decency, Shadegg's little tantrum was vile and unnecessary. If Shadegg has a policy argument to make, fine. But openly speculating on the House floor about imaginary kidnappings of the mayor's daughter is loathsome, even by the standards of congressional Republicans.

And while I'm hesitant to offer any kind of substantive response to such transparent nonsense, I can't help but wonder, where has John Shadegg been? Why didn't he pop off like this during any of the other criminal trials against the hundreds of terrorists who've been put through the federal justice system? If this right-wing lawmaker seriously believes court proceedings lead foreign terrorists to kidnap children on American soil, why has Shadegg remained entirely silent on the point over the last couple of decades?

Economics 101

The utter failure of the Obama administration to reach out or listen to progressive economists - economists who tend to be right on most issues when you can look at them in hindsight - is a big problem.
Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz didn't receive invite to Obama "Jobs Summit" either

I reported the other day that Nobel laureate in economics Paul Krugman had not received an invite to President Obama's "Jobs Summitt" in early December. I now have an update from Anya Schiffrin, Joe Stiglitz's wife, who just emailed me (the email is real, we know each other):

I saw your post mentioning Joe. We never saw an invitation. It is possible they sent one and it didn't get passed on to us, but I am guessing he was not invited.
I wrote the White House a letter:
As a strong supporter of President Obama, I have great difficulty understanding why your administration consistently fails to include world class, progressive economists like Dr. Krugman and Dr. Stiglitz as key outside advisors on economic issues. They tend to be right on the issues, when we are able to look at them in hindsight. For example, they were both right on the need for a larger stimulus plan.

So why in the world are they not invited to your December jobs summit? The last thing I expected of an Obama administration was a tendency to exclude viewpoints that might be politically or ideologically uncomfortable.

Do you really think that behaving like the Bush administration is a good thing?
So why, exactly, is the WH not inviting this guy?
It’s the stupidity economy

OK, maybe a more polite way to say it is this: bad ideas are acting as serious constraints on policy.

We’re in a liquidity trap, with interest rates up against the zero bound. This means that conventional monetary policy isn’t sufficient. What should we do?

The first-best answer — that is, the answer that economic models, like my old Japan’s trap analysis, suggest would be optimal — would be to credibly commit to higher inflation, so as to reduce real interest rates.

But the key thing to recognize about this answer is that it’s all about expectations — the central bank only has traction over expected inflation to the extent that it can convince people that it will deliver that inflation after the liquidity trap is over. So to make this policy work you have to (i) convince current policymakers that it’s the right answer (ii) Make that argument persuasive enough that it will guide the actions of future policymakers (iii) Convince investors, consumers, and firms that you have in fact achieved (i) and (ii).

In reality, we haven’t even gotten anywhere near (i): the conventional wisdom is still that any rise in expected inflation above 2 percent is a bad thing, when it’s actually good.

So some readers have asked why I’m not making the same arguments for America now that I was making for Japan a decade ago. The answer is that I don’t think I’ll get anywhere, at least not until or unless the slump goes on for a long time.

OK, so what’s next? The second-best answer would be a really big fiscal expansion, sufficient to mostly close the output gap. The economic case for doing that is really clear. But Washington is caught up in deficit phobia, and there doesn’t seem to be any chance of getting a big enough push.

That’s why, at this point, I’m turning to what I understand perfectly well to be a third-best solution: subsidizing jobs and promoting work-sharing.

Call it constrained optimization, where the constraint comes from the power of bad ideas.

Yglesias: State Budget Deficits


I’m not really sure how the view that ARRA is somehow causing a malign delay in necessary and beneficial structural adjustments can really survive contact with this analysis of federal aid to state budgets from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. As you can see here, there’s pretty clearly an awful lot of adjusting taking place even with the ARRA money pouring in. Looking at this it’s pretty clear that we should have provided a lot more money for FY 2009 and FY 2010 in order to forestall the need for mid-crisis fiscal contractions from state government. That still would have left states facing massive FY 2011 and FY 2012 shortfalls in which any positive things that you may think follow from state budget cuts could have happened.

These details aside, I can’t help but think that it would be really nice to see some work done on clever things the federal government could do on a systematic basis to prevent (or discourage) the boom/bust cycle in state budgeting. I’m not really sure what kind of constitutional limits may exist, but this poor budgetary behavior is a perennial macroeconomic problem. It’s also a kind of serious political problem, since the tendency of boom/bust budgeting is to make anyone who happens to be governor during a boom (see George Pataki or George W. Bush or Charlie Crist) look like a brilliant innovative governor while anyone who governs through a bust (see John Corzine, David Patterson) looks like a fool. The reality is that it’s easy to be a successful pragmatist as long as economic growth lets you cut taxes, hike spending, and then stick someone else with the structural imbalance when the next recession hits.

Krugman: Fiscal perspective

It’s truly amazing, and depressing, how completely deficit-phobia has swept the field in Washington. The economy remains in deeply dire straits: here’s long-term unemployment:

DESCRIPTIONBureau of Labor Statistics

Yet the respectable thing, all of a sudden, is to claim that we can’t possibly afford to spend any more money on job creation.

History says differently. Here’s a comparison of debt/GDP levels, actual levels for several countries (OECD for Belgium, IMF for the rest), and projected levels (from the IMF) for the United States. (Note that these are for general government, i.e., including state and local, so they’re higher than the numbers you usually read).


Yes, we’re going fairly deep into debt. No, it’s not unprecedented. Other advanced countries have been substantially deeper in debt without either defaulting or having runaway inflation — and some of those countries have historically had weak governments (Belgium because of the linguistic divide, and Italy because it’s Italy).

I’d be a little more forgiving of the nonsense if all the people screaming about the deficit were sincere. And some are. But many, if not most, are perfectly happy to incur huge unfunded liabilities for the wars they want to fight, and/or to eliminate inheritance taxes for the heirs of multimillionaires. It’s only deficits incurred to help working Americans that get them all moralistic.

Anyway, the point is that the economy desperately needs more help — and yes, we can afford to provide it.

Chris in Paris (AmBlog): TARP recipients falling behind on payments

Especially in light of the soft touch on Wall Street, this is very troubling. Neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration has had the stomach to be firm with the financial industry despite their deep responsibility for the recession. Maybe it's wishful thinking or perhaps too many have bought into the Wall Street centric view of the world. Wall Street is important for the future growth of the US but we can't overlook the severe damage that they inflicted on everyone else.

To repeat, rescuing the financial industry had to be done. There is little doubt that the recession could have been much more painful without the bailout. The terms were all too often botched, which is why we are seeing failures, more money and a two-tiered financial industry based on the haves and have-nots. (Goldman Sachs, obviously is on the "haves" list.) So will the banks will be treated differently from individuals who can't meet the terms of their agreements. Surely they will, but this round needs to push back against the banks instead of providing a wish list for the banks. As we are seeing from AIG and others, the initial round was about as poorly implemented as possible. Unfortunately, the current team were leading the first bailout so it's hard to imagine any major improvement or lessons learned. Washington Post:

Officials poured about $700 billion into investments in scores of companies, from giants such as the automaker General Motors and the insurer American International Group to smaller regional banks. Of them, 46 had missed required dividend payments to the government as of the end of September, according to the inspector general overseeing the program.

On Nov. 6, United Commercial Bank of San Francisco failed, becoming the first recipient of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, to collapse. The cost to taxpayers: $299 million.

Analysts expect more bailed-out firms to fail in the months ahead. Others may survive but will struggle to repay the government. Steven Rattner, the former head of the government's efforts to bail out the auto industry, said recently that the full public investment in GM is unlikely to be repaid. Meanwhile, AIG is dismantling itself, selling healthy subsidiaries at what critics say are bargain prices in an all-out effort to get cash to repay the government.
John Cole: Thick as Thieves

More good news about the Goldman boys and Tim Geithner:

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York gave up much of its power in high-pressure negotiations with the American International Group’s trading partners last year, according to a government report made public on Monday.

Just two days before the New York Fed paid A.I.G.’s partners 100 cents on the dollar to tear up their contracts with the insurance giant, one bank volunteered to take a modest haircut — but it never got the chance.

UBS, of Switzerland, alone offered to give a break to the New York Fed in the negotiations last November over how to keep A.I.G. from toppling and taking other banks down with it. It would have accepted 98 cents on the dollar.

But UBS’s good-faith gesture was quickly drowned out by Goldman Sachs and the top French bank regulator. They argued, with others, that it would be improper and perhaps even criminal to force A.I.G.’s trading partners to bear losses outside of bankruptcy court.

The banks and the regulator were confident that the New York Fed was not willing to push A.I.G. into bankruptcy, because earlier in the fall the New York Fed had stepped in with $85 billion to prop up the insurer.

The New York Fed, led then by Timothy F. Geithner, who is now the Treasury secretary, therefore had little leverage in the negotiations, according to a post-mortem of what has emerged as the most inflammatory episode in the rescue of A.I.G.

In the Army, we had a saying called “Fuck up, move up.” Looks like that sure was the case for Geithner. And you just have to love the sense of entitlement from the Goldman boys- it would be illegal for them to not get paid in full! And, because of who they are and where their people are in our government, the gambit worked.

I seriously think Goldman Sachs and the folks like them are the biggest threat to the future of this country, but since they own everyone, they’ll just keep siphoning off the money until the nation collapses.

tristero: 49 Million Americans
I am so glad that Wall Street is on track for such huge bonuses this year. That's because they can use all that money to buy food for the 49 million Americans - 49 million Americans! Jesus! who "lacked consistent access to adequate food" by the end of the Bush administration.

49 million Americans. Shameful. Shameful!

And check this out towards the end:
“Very few of these people are hungry,” said Robert Rector, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “When they lose jobs, they constrain the kind of food they buy. That is regrettable, but it’s a far cry from a hunger crisis.”
49 million Americans have been "struggling with hunger" - as the director of the food center who sponsored the study says - and all conservatives can say is, "Hey, that's not so bad."


My God, that anyone takes conservatives seriously on anything simply boggles the mind. 49 million Americans can't eat well on a regular basis - not won't, but can't - and this asshole pooh-poohs the problem. (By the way, you might want to Google "Robert Rector Heritage Foundation" for a good idea of how wrong someone can be. Authoring flawed studies on immigration. Advocating worthless sex education programs. He's one more extreme-right conservative clown clone.)

Let's look closer at the situation. Here's a pdf of the report and and here are a few details from the introduction:
On a given day, the number of households with very low food security was a small fraction of the number that experienced this condition “at some time during the year.” Typically, households classified as having very low food security experienced the condition in 7 or 8 months of the year, for a few days in each of those months. On an average day in late November or early December, 2008, for example, an estimated 1.1 million to 1.4 million households (0.9-1.2 percent of all U.S. households) had members who experienced very low food security, and children experienced these conditions in 86,000 to 111,000 households (0.22 to 0.28 percent of all U.S. households with children).
The report says that a "small fraction" of those with "very low food security" are suffering badly on a given day. That is not cause for celebration or relief. To understand exactly what this statistic means we have to personalize it. There isn't a single person reading this blog who wouldn't be appalled at the prospect, let alone the reality, of "having very low food security... in 7 or 8 months of the year, for a few days in each of those months."

That is what Heritage's Robert Rector dismisses. There is only one appropriate and measured response to him: Fuck you, Rector.

All Americans should be ashamed that this is how low the richest, most powerful nation on earth has sunk. True, Bush and Cheney drove this country off a cliff, but it is our collective country, not theirs alone, and this is simply unacceptable. They caused the economic conditions that caused this, but we must address the food access problems that resulted and do so immediately (and seek criminal charges, where appropriate, against those who caused this misery). To the extent that hunger in America - or "food insecurity," to use the euphemism - is not among the most important of our national issues, that is the extent to which this country has had its moral compass warped by rightwing social ideologies, including the ideology of greed.

And man, of man, 49 million Americans struggling with hunger is damned warped.