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« Liberal Outrage: July 2009 | Main | Liberal Outrage: September 2009 »

Liberal Outrage

Sorry, but...

This guy is absolutely right.


By fnord12 | August 28, 2009, 3:07 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Should i be suspicious?

Link:

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former high-ranking members of his administration won't be criminally charged in a yearlong federal investigation into pay-to-play allegations involving one of the Democratic governor's large political donors, someone familiar with the case said.

The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe.

"It's over. There's nothing. It was killed in Washington," the person told The Associated Press.

I don't have any idea if Richardson did anything wrong. Politically speaking, he's generally a 'good guy', so i ought to be happy that he's not being charged with anything. But it seems suspicious that the investigation was dropped after Democrats took back the White House.


By fnord12 | August 27, 2009, 10:14 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Did your parents deprive you of the privilege of worshipping Thor?

Update: Neither I nor my online editor realized that this article was published in 1970! We regret nothing and pass the blame onto others!

Shameful original post remains below:

My online editor wanted you to see this:

In an extraordinary decision, Judge Camarata denied the Burkes' right to the child because of their lack of belief in a Supreme Being. Despite the Burkes' "high moral and ethical standards," he said, the New Jersey state constitution declares that "no person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience." Despite Eleanor Katherine's tender years, he continued, "the child should have the freedom to worship as she sees fit, and not be influenced by prospective parents who do not believe in a Supreme Being."

Pointing out the obvious, wouldn't Protestant parents unduly influence a child to not worship a Roman Catholic God, etc., etc.? I guess as long as we've got them worshiping something, it's ok. It seems to me that the child of an atheist (and a pantheist, for that matter) is more likely to have the freedom to worship as she sees fit than the child of parents of a particular religion, since she's not forced down any particular path before she's old enough to decide.

That Judge ought to be impeached, not because he's got a bias against atheists, but because his reasoning skills are badly flawed.


By fnord12 | August 25, 2009, 9:35 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



I was just issuing orders

Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed a prosecutor to investigate the torture that went on during the Bush Administration. But the prosecutor's mandate will be "relatively narrow" and seems to be focusing only on individuals who may have gone beyond the 'guidelines' given by top White House officials (i.e. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Dick Cheney). If true, and if it's not just the first step in a larger effort, doesn't really get to the heart of the problem, which isn't about bad apples down the food chain but about elected officials breaking the law and violating the Geneva Convention. If the people who issued the commands aren't prosecuted, there's no deterrent for a future Administration to not to it again.

Someone in the comments at the TPM article wrote:

Because the new paradigm is "I was just issuing orders" not "I was just following orders". This way, the little people get held to account.

By fnord12 | August 24, 2009, 3:37 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Lieberman's Recession Excuse

Ezra Klein says everything that needs to be said about Lieberman's excuse that we should hold off on health care reform because we are in a recession.


By fnord12 | August 24, 2009, 10:48 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Something you knew already

Link:

Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: [Former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Tom] Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was "blindsided" by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

It's worth noting that he didn't actually resign or make this known to the public. And now thinks he can write about it with impunity to sell his memoirs.

Also, as Atrios writes:

Sometimes it's a bit hard to remember just how nutty the world was in those post-9/11 days. Suggesting that Bush was using the terror alert for political purposes would have made you a crazy person, the mere suggestion of it would've put you outside the bounds of acceptable discourse.

Nowadays, of course, Obama is creating Death Panels.


By fnord12 | August 20, 2009, 12:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link



Dirty tricks come back to bite you

Another problem reaching 60 votes is that we have two very old and sick Senators, both of whom would normally be a reliable vote for health care reform. Neither have been making it to the Senate for votes lately, and both really ought to resign. From a tactical point of view, it's more straightforward for Senator Byrd from West Virginia. They've got a Democratic governor, and their law for replacing Senators is a simple appointment.

For Kennedy, it's more complicated. Massachusetts also has a Democratic governor, but when Kerry was running for president and Mitt Romney was governor, the Democratic state legislature changed the law from an appointment to an election held 5 months from the resignation to prevent Romney from appointing a Republican if Kerry won. That would leave a vacancy in the Senate during this critical time.

Kennedy is now asking the state legislature to change the law back. It's a pretty clear abuse of power, in my opinion.


By fnord12 | August 20, 2009, 9:37 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Blue dog filibuster inevitable?

After finally realizing that the Republicans aren't negotiating in good faith and being surprised that people would be upset if they tried to remove the Public Option, the Democrats are now considering splitting health care reform into two bills, one which they pass normally, and one with more 'controversial' features that they pass via reconciliation.

(For those who aren't up on this procedural stuff, passing something via reconciliation means that you can bypass debate and get right to voting on the bill. So you don't need 60 votes to end the debate/filibuster. It's supposed to be used only for budget related votes, and anything passed via reconciliation expires when that budget plan expires, typically in 10 years. That's why Bush's taxes cuts will expire; you've probably heard talk of 'making the Bush tax cuts permanent'. Of course 'budget related' is relatively ambiguous. Clinton's odious Welfare Reform passed via reconciliation. Since health care costs are such a strain on our federal budget, it's reasonable to pass laws that seek to reduce that strain.)

I don't have any opinion on the tactics of splitting the bills this way. I think it's a joke to think that Republicans will respond positively to this tactic and vote for the less 'controversial' bill. I suspect they'll vote against anything the Democrats put out there, especially when they see that this is a trick to get the full reform passed. But i'm open to anything that gets us health care reform, and i have no insight into whether or not this is the best way.

But it clarifies a key point for me. The WSJ article on the bill split assumes one of two options: either you only have 51 votes, or you have 60 votes. In fact there should be a 3rd option: you don't have 60 votes for final passage but you have enough votes to break a filibuster. In other words, there will be some senators, especially these conservative Democrats like Nelson and Baucus, who won't vote for the bill... but do they really intend to filibuster their own party? Apparently yes.

So why are they Democrats? These Senators are given key committee chairs. We only need 50 Senators to keep Reid as majority leader. Not 60. And if these guys weren't Democrats, we'd have better Dems as committee chairs and we'd be getting better bills out of committee. If they won't vote to break a filibuster, there's no value to keeping them as Dems.

Immediate Update: One problem i see with this tactic is you pass the subsidies for people who can't afford insurance under reconciliation, and you pass the mandates that everyone has to buy insurance the regular way. In 10 years, the subsidies expire, and the Senate is now held by Republicans. They may restore the subsidies at a reduced rate or let them die altogether. And now you've created an impossible burden on those who can't afford insurance.

On a related tangent, I have a major problem with mandates without a public plan in any event, with or without subsidies. Without a public plan, you are simply creating a huge giveaway to insurance companies. You are saying everyone has to buy their product, and the government just pays the insurance companies for the people who can't afford their rates. This does absolutely nothing to reduce costs, and simply provides insurance companies with a captive consumer base (which is actually an incentive to raise prices, since demand is artificially raised).


By fnord12 | August 20, 2009, 9:00 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



It's what he's there for, right?

Greg Saunders at This Modern World:

You know what the healthcare debate could use right now? Profanity.

Seriously. I'm not kidding.

The debate over healthcare has become so poisoned with lies and bitterness, we need something to really shake it up. Something that really grabs attention and is a game changer media-wise. If I were in charge of media strategy for the White House, I'd get Joe Biden on a high profile interview show and when the subject turns to the townhall protests/death panels/etc., I'd have him say that it's "bullshit".

Do it on a Monday and the VP's potty-mouth will be the trivial topic du jour for the entire week. Republicans will spin up the faux outrage machine, reporters will pepper Robert Gibbs about whether or not Obama would repudiate Biden, and news outlets across the country would report the story and its various twists because, like it or not, it would be one of those silly little news stories they can't help but obsess over.

Sure, there's downsides. Biden looks like a jackass (again), it would distract from the White House's wonkish healthcare messaging (that people aren't really following anyways), but there are two huge upsides.

One, it energizes the base. When Dick Cheney told Patrick Leahy to fuck himself, liberals nearly passed out from all the faux outrage, but at the end of the day Cheney refused to apologize and conservatives respected him all the more for it. With liberal enthusiasm pretty much at a nadir, we could use a galvanizing middle-finger like gesture to feel more empowered (because our majorities in both houses of Congress don't seem willing to stand up for anything).

Secondly, if Joe Biden calls protester bullshit for what it is, every mention of the story just repeats the association. Death panels, bullshit, pulling the plug on grandma, bullshit, euthanasia, bullshit, socialism, bullshit, Hitler, bullshit. It's a seed that needs to be planted in the minds of every uninformed person who's seeing footage of these rabid townhall protests and thinking "If they're THIS mad, there must be something wrong."

Ummm...no, it's just a bunch of bullshit.


By fnord12 | August 17, 2009, 4:58 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



The Bipartisan spirit

Link:

PRESIDENT OBAMA (Aug 11): I think that there are some of my Republican friends on Capitol Hill who are sincerely trying to figure out if they can find a health care bill that works -- Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

CHUCK GRASSLEY (Aug 13): If I had not been at the table, there would have been a bill through the committee the week of June 22, and it would have been through the Senate by now because there's sixty Democrats.



By fnord12 | August 14, 2009, 4:09 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Europe vs. the US

Naked Capitalism:

Reader Alex C sent a link to an article in the Guardian by Mark Weisbrot in which he surveys some recent findings aht disproved cherished myths about the US economy. Two are related to the widely-held fantasy that America is a land of dynamic entrepreneurship. In fact, a recent study found that the US ranks low among advanced economies in the proportion of people employed by smal businesses. The likely culprit? Lack of universal health care. But you won't see that on the agenda of organizations like the right-leaning Kauffman foundation, whose mission is to promote entrepreneurship and innovation. And I must say from my own sample that most of the self-employed people I know did not have a career goal of starting a business, but out of necessity, due to job loss or being badly stymied at their employer and unable to land comparable new work.

A second element of the entrepreneurship myth is that the US is a land of economic mobility, that if you work hard and apply yourself, you can improve your economic standing considerable. Again, the US scores poorly in by international standards in economic mobility. The have-nots tend to remain have-nots.

In addition. the high level of US carbon production is due to a surprisingly significant degree to our lifestyle, working long hours to consume, rather than "consuming" more vacation as Europeans do.

The vacation part was interesting. Here's more from the Guardian article:

On the other hand, most Americans pay a high price for the institutional arrangements that bring us these mythical successes. We have the dubious honour of being the only "no-vacation nation", ie no legally required paid time off and of course some weeks fewer actual days off per year than our European counterparts enjoy. We have a broken healthcare system that costs about twice as much per capita as that of our peer nations and delivers worse outcomes, as measured by life expectancy and infant mortality. We are near the top in terms of inequality among high-income countries and at the bottom for parental leave policies and paid sick days. The list is a long one...

There is another area where the comparison between the American and European model has serious implications for the future of the planet: climate change. "Old Europe" uses about half as much energy per capita as the US does. A big part of this difference is because Europeans, in recent decades, have taken much more of their productivity gains in the form of increased leisure time, rather than working the same (or longer) hours in order to consume more.

We estimated that the US would consume about 20% less energy if it had the work hours of the EU-15. This would have a significant impact on world carbon emissions. Furthermore, when the world economy recovers, there are a number of middle-income countries that will approach high-income status in the not-too-distant future (South Korea and Taiwan are already there). Whether they choose the American or the European model will have an even bigger impact on global climate change.

More from a different Naked Capitalism post:

It was conventional wisdom in the US and UK financial press that Europe was dong a hopelessly bad job of responding to the economic downturn, that it needed to do vastly more in the way of fiscal stimulus, that it was consigning its citizens to continued recession, and the Te Germans in particular were to blame for their conservatism re emergency fiscal measures. German readers begged to differ, pointing out the Germany (and the rest of Europe) has large automatic stabilizers (very generous unemployment insurance, for instance), making discretionary fiscal spending less necessary.

I was traveling along the Danube and Rhine in June, and saw far fewer signs of distress (like vacant retail stores) then I see is TARP-supported Manhattan. I thought this was merely sample bias, the vagaries of being in tourist areas (albeit before tourist season was in full swing) and discounted my impressions.

Turns out my sample may not have been so unrepresentative. The Wall Street Journal reports that Europe appears on the cusp of a bona fide recovery, with France and Germany both showing decent second quarter growth, while the US is trying to pretend that "things are getting worse less quickly" is tantamount to recovery.

Now are any of the Euro bashers about to give the EU authorities some credit? I doubt it.

And this disparity, if it persists, points to a much deeper issue. The US chose to deregulate across a wide range of activities and let the devil take the hindmost. Europe cares more about institutional frameworks and collective outcomes. US commentators regularly describe Europe [as] sclerotic. But if the EU winds up delivering better growth, what justification do we have for a system that seems best at redistributing income to [the top?]


By fnord12 | August 14, 2009, 3:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



CEO of Whole Foods comes out against health care reform

Guess i won't be shopping there anymore.


By fnord12 | August 13, 2009, 3:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



These town hall meetings

I'm seeing that a lot of Democrats are publicly stating that the reactions they're running into in their town hall meetings are not influencing their decisions about supporting health care reform. I'm a bit torn about that, actually. On the one hand, these protesters are extremely misinformed and irrational, and according to polls they don't seem to represent even close to a majority opinion. And it's nice to see Democrats actually standing up for (supposedly) their principles. But on the other hand, i know what it's like to hear your protests dismissed as fringe views and that despite a huge showing at demonstrations across the country, politicians are going to continue with their proposed policies. It feels very anti-democratic.

Also, strategically, you have to wonder what the purpose of these town halls are. It's clearly not to gauge the opinions of their constituents. And it doesn't seem to be a great forum for educating or gaining support. It seems largely a way to generate news coverage for the protesters. Even if the Dems weren't prepared for that initially, by now they should know better. This is a tactical failure; the Democrats were outmaneuvered by the Republicans. They let the debate on the bill extend into recess, and didn't anticipate the attack that was waiting for them at their town halls. It's time to cut that loss and find a new way to go on the messaging offensive.


By fnord12 | August 13, 2009, 10:46 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Bizarro world

Ladies and gentlemen, the Wall Street Journal:

Liberating Afghanistan, like the various bailouts and stimuli, was a direct response to an immediate crisis, whereas liberating Iraq, like ObamaCare, was a response to a chronic problem. Thus one could argue that ObamaCare is the domestic equivalent of a "war of choice."

But the comparison sells President Bush short in a way that is independent of the merits of the policies. Whereas Obama seems to think the country owes it to him to accept ObamaCare because he was kind enough to agree to be our president, Bush actually made an effort to persuade the public--including the opposite party--that his plan for Iraq was a good idea. The effort was very successful: Congress authorized the use of military force with strong bipartisan majorities, and by early 2003, public approval of the plan was in the 70% range.

Republican politicians did not label opponents of the war effort "un-American," as Steny Pelosi and Nancy Hoyer have done to ObamaCare foes. Bush's White House, unlike Obama's, did not urge supporters to report "fishy" pro-Saddam arguments. Bush did not tell his critics to shut up and "get out of the way," as Obama did last week. The Bush administration simply made a compelling argument and won. The Obama administration, on the verge of losing after making a poor argument, now is lashing out at its critics--which seems a strategy to maximize the damage of this effort.



By fnord12 | August 12, 2009, 9:49 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link



I guess they couldn't tell, because he doesn't have an accent

Link:

But my favorite part of the editorial deals with the British health-care system, which if you believe IBD is basically condemning the old and disabled to die.

"People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless," the editorial claims.

Of course, that same Stephen Hawking who wouldn't have a chance in the United Kingdom was in fact born in the United Kingdom, has lived his entire life in the United Kingdom and lives there still today, at the ripe old age of 67. (He was in fact hospitalized earlier this month.) Hawking is, you might say, living, breathing proof that these people are first-class fools.


By fnord12 | August 10, 2009, 1:16 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Alberto Gonzales double-speak

Link:

Q: Some 70 professors at Texas Tech have signed a petition that protests your appointment and cites your "ethical failings," including misleading Congress abut the firing of nine federal prosecutors. What will you tell your students about that?

Gonzales: All the inspector-general investigations, they're now over with. They found that I had not engaged in any criminal wrongdoing.

Q: Isn't there still an ongoing investigation by a special prosecutor who was appointed last year to look into the removal of the attorneys?

Gonzales: I wish I could comment on that, but because it's an ongoing investigation, I cannot.


By fnord12 | August 10, 2009, 11:56 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Backdoor line item veto

Presidents do not have a line item veto. It's something they've been asking for at least since the first George Bush, but Congress have never enacted it. As well they shouldn't. Giving a president line item veto essentially destroys the negotiation process in Congress. You want to provide a tax break to a certain industry? Fine, i'll vote for that, but only if you'll put in a restriction on their carbon emissions. Then we send the bill to the president, and he crosses out my restriction before signing it? Forget it, i'm never negotiating on a bill again.

But the use of signing statements attempts to do the same thing. The president signs the bill, but says "Now, this portion of the bill right here, we're not going to comply with that." It's usually only done with laws that attempt to restrict Executive Branch power in some way. But it's still unacceptable. You can't sign a bill but say that certain portions of it don't apply.

President Obama campaigned against Bush's use of signing statements. But now he's doing it.

...other legal experts argued that signing statements were lawful and appropriate because it was impractical to veto important bills over small problems.

That's nonsense. Imagine reading over your lease agreement, seeing some provision you didn't like, and instead of going back to the landlord and negotiating, you just crossed out that line. If your landlord ever caught you doing whatever the lease was restricting, you'd be laughed out of small claims court if you told them you crossed that out before signing the lease.


By fnord12 | August 10, 2009, 8:55 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



More...

Am i beating this to death? I really thought this was a fluke, ironic and funny but nothing more, when i saw the first example of it. Not anymore.

During the town hall, one conservative activist turns to his fellow attendees and asks them to raise their hands if they "oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care." Almost all the hands shot up. Rep Green quickly turned the question on the audience and asked, "How many of you have Medicare?" Nearly half the attendees raised their hands, failing to note the irony.

By fnord12 | August 6, 2009, 3:27 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



This is getting serious

Arthur Laffer on CNN:

If you like the Post Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles and you think they're run well, just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid and health care done by the government.

We've moved beyond 'confused old people at rallies' and we're now looking at right wing economists on television. Are people really this confused or is this a coordinated effort to mislead?

Update: This is interesting. Don't know how accurate it is. But if it's true, i bet it's still effective with certain segments of the population, despite being "obsolete".

Let's be frank. From about the 1960's to the 1980's, the Post Office and other government agencies had a "disproportionate" number of blacks. That's due to a number of factors, the primary one being that the federal government was quicker to hire blacks than private enterprise. For a long time "the Post Office" and "the DMV" was code for such staffing.

But that's changed over the years as a visit to both places will attest. Laffer is dating himself, using an obsolete slur.


By fnord12 | August 4, 2009, 2:34 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4)| Link



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