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Liberal Outrage

New Jersey 2008 - Public Questions To Be Voted Upon

Thoughts and recommendations on the ballot initiatives in the New Jersey 2008 election (initiatives are only available in PDF online, so i apologize for any typos due to my manual keying):

#1 Voters to approve authority bonds payable from state appropriations

Do you approve the proposed amendment to the State Constitution which provides that, after this amendment becomes part of the Constitution, a law enacted thereafter that authorizes State debt created through the sale of bonds by any autonomous public corporate entity, established either as an instrumentality of the State or otherwise exercising public and essential government functions, such as an independent State authority, which debt or liability has a pledge of an annual appropriation as the ways and means to pay the interest of such debt or liability as it falls due and pay and discharge the principal of such debt, will be subject to voter approval, unless the payment of the debt is made subject to appropriations of an independent non-State source of revenue paid by third persons for the use of the object or work bonded for, or are from a source of State revenue otherwise required to be appropriated pursuant to another provision of the Constitution?

Ballot's Interpretive Statement
This amendment to the State Constitution will require voter approval of new laws that allow the State to borrow money by issuing bonds through any State agency or independent authority backed by a pledge of an annual appropriation to pay the principal and interest on the bonds. New laws to allow the issuance of these State authority bonds for State government purposes will be subject to voter approval. State courts have ruled that the State constitutional requirement tha the Legislature and Governor must seek voter approval for bonded debt does not apply to such borrowing. That requirement is followed only for proposed State bonds that contain a binding, non-repealable pledge to pay off the bonds directly with State taxes. Most State authority bonds can be issued without voter approval because the payment of the bonds is backed only by a promise of the Legislature and Governor that they will enact appropriations in the future to meet the bond payments. The courts have said this is a legal means of avoiding submitting the issuance of debt for voter approval. Laws to permit such debt that are enacted after this amendement becomes part of the Constitution will have to authorize voter referenda for approval of such debts. Exceptions to voter approval for authority bonds will be permitted if the bonds are to be paid off from 1) a source of revenue dedicated by the State Constitution, which only the voters can establish, or 2) an independent non-State governement source of payments for use of projects built or obtained with the borrowed money, such as highway tolls or user fees.

Fnord's oversimplified interpretation: Should the state legislature have to put it to a public referendum every time they want to raise money through bonds (i.e., go into debt)? This seems to be an attempt to plug up a loophole that is allowing the government to continue issuing certain types of bonds after a previous amendment (or possibly an original clause in the Constitution) to force all borrowing to be voted on by referendum.

Pros:Generally speaking, referendums are more democratic, because they allow voters to directly impact government policies. Also, this would potentially raise awareness of what the government is doing, which is good. Potentially corrects a 'loophole' in the original law.

Cons:Special elections are a costly unnecessary expense. Single issue elections like this do not have high participation and are especially vulnerable to interest groups, like Norquist's Club for Growth. This initiative would make it substantially more difficult for the government to raise funds and deficit spend. Deficit spending is especially useful during a recession. Not having that ability would reduce the government's ability to combat recessions.

Recommendation: Vote No.

#2 Provides that method of selection and appointment of certain municipal court judges be set by statute rather than by the constitution.

Shall the amendment to Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, agreed to by the Legislature, providing that judges of inferior courtswith jurisdiction extending into more than one municipality be appointed as provided in law rather than as provided in the Constitution which requires nomination by Governor and appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate, be approved?

Ballot's Interpretive Statement
This constitutional amendment would provide that the method of selection and appointment of certain municipal court judges would be set by statute, rather than be provided for in the Constitution. These judges may include judges of joint municipal courts and judges of central municipal courts with jurisdiction extending to the territorial boundaries of a county. This constitutional amendment does not preclude the possibility that a statute would continue to provide for nomination by the Governor with the advise and consent of the Senate, but it does permit a statute to set forth another method of selection and appointment that may not involve the Governor and the Senate.

Fnord's oversimplified interpretation: Changes the process for nominating certain types of judges, taking away the power from the Governor and giving it to the Legislature. I don't know the impetus of this initiative and i couldn't find any additional information on the web.

Pros: Presumably allows the Legislature to correct for a perceived problem with the way municipal judges are appointed when their jurisdictions extend beyond normal territorial boundaries. Maybe right now municipal judges are appointed by local governements (i.e., Mayors) unless their boundaries extend into other areas, in which case the Governor has to take over.

Cons:Takes away a traditional power away from the Governor and gives it not directly to the local governments, but to the State Legislature, who can then create laws that may or may not be any more fair than the current method. Potentially allows for a sort of 'gerrymandering' of judgeships.

Recommendation: A hesitant 'No'.

Bonus question

I have also been asked about the pros & cons of having a school board voted upon by the public vs. appointed by the mayor.

Arguments in favor of voter selection More democratic. Avoids political cronyism. Allows for a diversity of opinion. Allows for especially enthusiastic or committed individuals to campaign for the positions. Creates a low-level starting point for people wanting to get involved in politics.

Arguments in favor of appointment by mayor: Provides a buffer layer to protect school board from voters concerned about hot button issues such as evolution or teaching sex ed. Also, no one really puts the effort into researching school board member candidates anyway, so why not let the choice be made by the mayor, who is a more known factor that the public has selected?

Recommendation: In New Jersey, the risk of hot button issues becoming a factor is relatively low. I would vote in favor of the public voting directly for the board, but i don't think it's a terribly significant issue.

By fnord12 | October 31, 2008, 7:11 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Sometimes i suffer from Press Envy

Interview between neo-con Robert Kagan and German magazine Der Spiegel (5 pages long).

By fnord12 | October 29, 2008, 10:17 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I Don't Need No Stinkin' Debates

Who needs to hear the candidates give real answers to questions? What would be the point of that? I much prefer providing the candidates with a forum to give their stump speeches yet again. Really.

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

Thanks, 23/6.

By min | October 29, 2008, 8:24 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

What Are You Dressing Up As For Halloween?

Might i suggest this "terrorist" costume selling on Amazon?

You might be too late, though. The LA Times says Amazon caught themselves and took it off.

By min | October 27, 2008, 11:54 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Reading Is Fundamental

I know everyone's seen this many times already, but just watch it one more time. The best part comes towards the end. Katie Couric's expression cracks me up, too.

By min | October 26, 2008, 12:45 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

My Planks Are Solid, Also Too. How 'Bout Yours, Eh?

Focus on the Family is an evangelical group founded by a guy named James Dobson. Here's what wikipedia says about them:

The group supports the teaching of "traditional family values". It advocates school sponsored prayer and supports corporal punishment.[13] It strongly opposes abortion, so-called militant feminism, homosexuality, pornography, and pre-marital and extramarital sexual activity. Focus on the Family also embraces and reflects the wider political agenda of its audience, for instance promoting a religiously-centered conception of American identity and the support of Israel.

So, obviously, this was one of the groups Sarah Palin was allowed to speak to. She did a phone interview with Dobson of which Chris Kelly from Huffington Post takes excerpts. In this particular one, Dobson brings up the "Republican Platform" and asks basically aren't these are the same principles you've been trying to promote. Palin's response makes it pretty obvious she has no idea what a "platform" is and tries miserably to bluff her way through the answer.

Now, finally, we have very solid planks in the platform that will allow us to build an even stronger foundation for our country. It's all good and it's encouraging. You would maybe have assumed that we would have gotten further away from those strong planks. But no, they're there, they're solid, we stand on them and again I believe that it is the right agenda for the country at this time. Very, very clear and contrasted tickets in this election November 4th. People are going to see the clear contrasts, you just go to the planks in our platforms and that's where you see them.

If i had been drinking while i read this, i would have spewed it after the first mention of "planks". Oh, and there's more. Go read the rest on HuffPo. Make sure you're beverage-free, though.

By min | October 24, 2008, 1:31 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

A Modern-Day Medusa

From TPM:

The highest-paid McCain-Palin campaign staffer is Sarah Palin's makeup artist.

Good lord! If they have to pay the makeup artist so much, how hideous must Sarah Palin be underneath all that makeup?

By min | October 24, 2008, 10:02 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I keep coming back to this

And we're calling that socialism now?

Click on the image to see why taxes are going to have to go a lot higher if we want to play golf on the moon or watch Captain America punch out Hitler again.

By fnord12 | October 23, 2008, 1:55 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Too Late, Asshole

Greenspan finally realizes that mebbe he was wrong.

Accused of contributing to the meltdown, but denying that it was his fault, Greenspan told a House panel the crisis left him - an unabashed free-market advocate - in a "state of shocked disbelief."

The longtime Fed chief acknowledged under questioning that he had made a "mistake" in believing that banks in operating in their self-interest would be sufficient to protect their shareholders and the equity in their institutions. Greenspan called it "a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works."

They did exactly what you expected them to do - acted in their self-interest, which doesn't necessarily require the best interests of the shareholders. They got their hefty bonuses, their huge termination packages, the ridiculous salaries, and all they needed to do was keep manipulating the numbers long enough for them to make their money and get the hell out before the roof caved in.

You, Alan Greenspan, are either a moron or a liar when you say you didn't know this would happen. I'm sure Dean Baker or Paul Krugman could have clued you in to what your policies would lead to if you had had the brains or the inclination to listen. Hell, i prolly could have given you a decent run down using sock puppets. Twat.

By min | October 23, 2008, 1:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link

Oh Good Lord. Someone Get This Woman A Civics Textbook

Palin has now gone from having no idea what a Vice President does to having the wrong idea. You would think that they would at least have briefed on her on what the hell her job might be if she wins. Get her some index cards or something, ferchrissakes.

Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is "in charge of the United States Senate":

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, "What does the Vice President do?"

PALIN: That's something that Piper would ask me! ... [T]hey're in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

By min | October 21, 2008, 1:41 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Barbara Ehrenreich Confesses to the Socialist Conspiracy


The plan took shape during a particularly intense criticism/self-criticism session at our 2000 annual convention in a booth at an Akron IHOP. We realized that we'd been recruiting no more new members per year than the Green Bay Packers and that, despite all our efforts, more Americans have been taken aboard UFOs than have embraced the historic promise of socialism. So we decided to suspend our usual work of standing on street corners and hissing, "Hey, how'd you like to live in a workers' paradise?" Instead of building socialism, one worker at a time, we would focus on destroying capitalism, hedge fund by hedge fund.

First, we selected a cadre of crusty punks from the streets of Seattle, stripped off their Che T-shirts, suited them up in Armani's and wingtips, and introduced them to the concepts of derivatives and dental floss. Then we shipped them to Wall Street with firm instructions: Make as much money as you can, as fast as you can, and as soon as the money starts rolling in, send it out to make more money by whatever dodgy means you can find -- subprime loans, credit default swaps, pyramid schemes -- anything goes. And oh yes: Spend your own earnings in the most flamboyantly gross ways you can think of -- $10,000 martinis, fountains of champagne -- so as to fan the flames of class resentment.


Things were going swimmingly until about a week ago, when the capitalists suddenly staged a counter-coup. We had thought that the nationalization of the banks would bring capitalism to its knees, but instead, the capitalists were craftily using it to privatize the government. Goldman Sachs, former home of Henry Paulson, has taken the lead, planting its agents so thickly about the erstwhile public sector as to earn the nickname "Government Sachs." Among the former Goldman Sachs operatives now running the country, in addition to Paulson, are the president's chief of staff, the chairman of the New York Fed, the man appointed to take over A.I.G., and the 35-year-old boy wonder selected to oversee the bail-out program.

According to the New York Times, "Goldman supporters" insist there is no "conspiracy" and not a black helicopter in sight -- just a bunch of public-spirited investment bankers sacrificing their normal 8-figure salaries for the good of the nation. But we socialists know a conspiracy when we see one, and some in our ranks are complaining bitterly that as capitalism began to collapse, the bankers seized the life raft that was intended to save the laid-off, the foreclosed-upon, and the exploited masses in general.

Ah well, we socialists still have the election to look forward to. After months of studying the candidates' economic plans, we have determined that one of them, and only one, can be relied on to complete the destruction of capitalism. With high hopes and great confidence, the Socialist International Conspiracy endorses John McCain!

By min | October 21, 2008, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


John Meachum of Newsweek:

After about an hour, there seemed to be no more questions for him, so Newsweek editor Jon Meacham turned to his audience - about 100 graduate students at Columbia journalism school - and said he had a question for them: Did anyone in the room read Newsweek or Time? There was a small, awkward rumbling before finally, a man shouted, "No!"

Mr. Meacham scanned the audience for his quarry and then asked the journalism student, clad in a black turtleneck, whether he read The Economist. Yes, he did.

"It's the most talked about and least read magazine," said Mr. Meacham. "Have you looked at Newsweek?"

"Sure," said the J-schooler.

"And it's not up to your standards?"

"I find less useful honestly. The news? I don't get it from Newsweek. The Economist is more courageous," he answered.

"The success of The Economist--the fact that you read it, a black-turtlenecked guy at Columbia," Mr. Meacham began. But then he changed tack.

"Look, I need you," said Mr. Meacham. "And I need - I've got people out there risking their lives right now. The Economist is not, by the way ..." He changed tack again. "I've got four people in Baghdad who could be killed at any moment who are trying to tell the truth the best they can of that story. We have people in 13 different countries. We have a guy in Afghanistan who has Taliban sources who the federal government has asked about because we have better intelligence than government does - he's risking his life."

"And how to communicate that we have things to say that are both factually new and analytically new and to get you under the tent is a fact that scares me - not The Economist per se. It's an incredible frustration that I've got some of the most decent, hard-working, honest, passionate, straight-shooting, non-ideological people who just want to tell the damn truth, and how to get this past this image that we're just middlebrow, you know, a magazine that your grandparents get, or something, that's the challenge. And I just don't know how to do it, so if you've got any ideas, tell me."

The grad student suggested they try re-branding. Mr. Meacham said thank you, and a few moments later, the lecture was over.

The Economist is a center-right, pro-"globalization" magazine (which is possibly what Meachum keeps dancing up to but never actually says), but that bias is pretty clear once you read a few articles or editorials (which allows you to mentally filter for it), and no one can deny that its articles are long and detailed and span a large variety of topics and issues from around the world. Newsweek is simple and frivolous, usually with one or two decent lengthed articles and a lot of tiny paragraphs and "quotable quotes" and blurbs and other garbage. They strive for the fake 'objectivity' or 'balance' or "Republicans say this but Democrats say that" weak sauce. Meacham's cover story this week is the conventional Washington Beltway wisdom that Obama had better govern like a watered-down Reagan no matter how big his mandate because that's what 'everybody' knows the people really want.

That's why.

By fnord12 | October 20, 2008, 1:37 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Palin's Just a Delicate Flower

This is just unbelievable, by which, i mean i'm totally not surprised but i am disgusted.

At those times on the campaign trail when sometimes it's easy to get a little bit discouraged, when, you know, when you happen to turn on the news when your campaign staffers will let you turn on the news," she said, prompting laughter from the group. "Usually they're like 'Oh my gosh, don't watch. You're going to, you know, you're going to get depressed.'"

Yep. Her staffers aren't letting her hear anything negative about her so that her delicate feelings won't be bruised. Sort of reminds you of Bush and how he gets all cranky if someone says something unflattering about him.

So, the VP who has supposedly been keeping the Russians at bay up there in Alaska and has been talking trash about whiners and accusing Obama of "pallin' around with terrorists" isn't strong enough to hear some criticisms?

So, this is the tough, lipstick-wearing pitbull who didn't blink as she took off the gloves and put on the heels (this is starting to sound like a Skinemax plot summary)? Sounds to me like she's actually just a namby pamby pussy.

First off, it's pretty sexist to say you've got to protect li'l ol' Sarah Palin from the big, nasty media (who have been, and to a great extent still are, shilling to the GOP for the last 2 decades, at least). Would any male VP candidate admit to hiding behind his staffers' skirts and would any GOP campaign let this info out if their boss was a man?

Second, you know that if anything even remotely like this was going on with a Democrat, it would be red meat for the Republicans. They would waste no time as portraying this as more evidence that Democrats are weak and not capable of running this country.

It must be a full moon because for once, i agree with the Republicans on something. She's certainly not capable. Of anything.

By min | October 17, 2008, 1:23 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

McCain loses debate to cardboard Obama


By fnord12 | October 17, 2008, 9:06 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Ignorance or Deliberate Racism?

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."

You can check out the rest of the article here.

The president of the group claims she had no idea it was racist in any way.

She said she doesn't think in racist terms, pointing out she once supported Republican Alan Keyes, an African-American who previously ran for president.

And some of my friends are black, too!

I'm trying to figure out if she sent this out totally oblivious to the racism inherent in the imagery, was unaware that there were African American members of the group and therefore didn't think she'd get called out on it, or knew she was being racist and didn't care if it offended the minority members because she didn't want them in the group anyway.

I think the first option is just too unbelievable. You can't live in this country and not know referencing fried chicken, ribs, and watermelon in conjunction with a black person is playing on the stereotype.

My vote is for #2. It just seems the most likely to me. She just didn't think that among "her people" she would have to worry about being PC.

My question is why are minorities still under the illusion that the Republican party in any way welcomes them? Those minority members who belong to this group ought to really rethink their choices. How much more proof do you need? The current Republican presidential and vice presidential candidates are deliberately stirring up the most racist elements in their supporters with their rhetoric of late, and it wasn't until it got really ugly and it looked like they were going to experience backlash from the public before some Republicans came out against it. Is this really the party you want to support?

By min | October 16, 2008, 3:46 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Dean Baker, Debunker


During last night's debate, Senator McCain blamed the housing market meltdown on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's lending practices. While Fannie and Freddie, as huge actors in the mortgage market, certainly contributed to the bubble, it is absurd to point to them as principle culprits. Their market share actually fell as the bubble grew to ever more dangerous levels, dropping from 50.1 percent in 2002 to just 34.8 percent at the peak of the bubble in 2006.

Fannie and Freddie deserve blame for failing to recognize the bubble (this is their job), but clearly they were not the primary cause.

The media should have highlighted this major gaffe by Senator McCain. This would be like Obama talking about a border between Iraq and Afghanistan or some other major error on a foreign policy issue.

and here:

Much of last night's presidential debate centered on "Joe the Plumber," Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber who Barack Obama met while campaigning in Ohio. According to the New York Times, Mr. Wurzelbacher says that he is planning to buy a plumbing business that has profits of between $250,000 and $280,000 a year.

While this income would put Mr. Wurzelbacher above the threshold where he could expect to pay higher taxes under Senator Obama's tax plan, the increase in his tax bill would be relatively modest. Under Senator Obama's plan, the tax on income above $250,000 would increase by 3 percentage points from 33 percent to 36 percent. This means that Mr. Wurzelbacher could expect to see his tax bill rise by between $0-$900, assuming that this plumbing business would be his entire taxable income. If he has additional taxable income, then he would see a larger increase in his taxes.

It would have been useful for reporters to explain the extent to which Joe the Plumber would see his taxes increase under Senator Obama's tax proposal. It is unlikely that this tax increase will seriously impair his plans for his business as Senator McCain implied.

I always think it's cute when Dean Baker says that he thinks the press should do its job. By cute, i might mean 'depressing'. And i love the snark about the hypothetical border gaffe; we all know who really made that gaffe and who got away with it.

Also note the part that i italicized. People often don't realize that with our graduated tax scales, it's only the part of your income over the threshold that is taxed at the new level.

By fnord12 | October 16, 2008, 11:47 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Mean, out of context image of the day

Update: More, because i can't control my id:

By fnord12 | October 16, 2008, 9:31 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link


Palin, using a line of reasoning that i'm sick of:

After her Dover speech, Palin went outside to speak briefly to a crowd of people who couldn't get into to the gymnasium. Holding a microphone in one hand and her son Trig in the other, she addressed someone who appeared to be heckling her.

"Sir, I don't know what you're saying, but if you're protesting, that's cool, too," she said. "My son's over in Iraq fighting for your right to protest."

Help me with this. Was Iraq dangerously close to developing intercontinental anti-free speech missles? Does her son being a soldier make criticism of her off-limits? If not, why bring it up? Joe Biden's got a son in Iraq as well; should she not be allowed to criticism him?

She's used this line reflexively, even accidentally against her own supporters. Even here she's not sure what they're saying. It seems a little pathological to shout "My kid's in Iraq!" every time you don't know what someone is saying. But even beyond that, the reasoning just seems screwy to me.

By fnord12 | October 15, 2008, 4:00 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


I've been ignorning the ACORN-related conspiracy theories for a while now on the grounds that it's one of many far right wing web site obsessions that aren't going anywhere (for example, like the crazy idea that Bill Ayers actually ghost-wrote Obama's books. No, really.). But it looks like this one is actually perculating its way up into the "mainstream", by which i mean Fox news and the McCain campaign.

ACORN is a good group. It's one that min and i donate to on a regular basis. They are the dreaded "community organizers". They've been doing good work in helping to rebuild New Orleans, for example.

But one of their weaknesses is that they hire low wage workers on their voter registration drives. This is intentional; they don't have huge budgets but they like to create jobs instead of relying on volunteers. Some of these 'employees', however, have been known to make up names instead of bothering to go door to door to get people to fill out voter registration cards. ACORN is aware of that problem and always reviews the results and informs election officials when they see problems (by law you have to hand in all voter registration cards, even ones that are obviously fradulent, so that there can be no accusations of voter suppression). But Republicans are naturally against the registration of low income (and mostly black) voters, and they have always been antagonistic towards the group. This year, however, they are going nuclear because new voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives are such an important part of Obama's election strategy.

For some more of the details, see here, here, and here.

Update: The TPM link above reminds us that this relates back to the US Attorney firings scandal, as those attorneys were fired for failing to find any evidence of wrongdoing relating to this exact issue.

By fnord12 | October 10, 2008, 4:32 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

You Knew It Wouldn't Take Chavez Long

"Comrade Bush is heading toward socialism."

And he's not the only person in Latin American who sees the irony. Congressman Edwin Castro of Nicaragua had this to say about our government's bailout plan:

"We were just talking about that this morning on the floor," said Congressman Edwin Castro, who heads the leftist Sandinista congressional bloc in Nicaragua. "We think the Bush administration should follow the same policies that they and the International Monetary Fund have always told us to follow when we have economic problems -- a structural adjustment that requires cutting government spending and reducing the role of government.

"One of our economists was telling us that Bush has just implemented communism for the rich," Castro said.

Here's the rest if you'd like to read it.

Socialism for the rich. Free market for everybody else. That about sums up the situation. People who worked at Lehman Brothers for decades are laid off and then get told Lehman's won't be able to pay them severance effective now. But the CEOs get to "retire" instead of being fired which means they get a nice retirement package to take along with them. And thanks for your years of service making horrible financial decisions.

AIG execs and sales people went on a $443k luxury retreat at a beach resort a week after they got a taxpayer funded $85 billion bailout. And then when they get called on it, they had the balls to come out and say it's no big deal, they do this all the time.

Hello, braintrust, I think part of the reason we're in the trouble we're in now is because morons like you are in charge of so many people's finances and don't seem to grasp simple concepts like how wrong it is to have a $443k "meeting" in the first place. Gah!

By min | October 10, 2008, 12:33 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

The Religious Party

I think it's too soon for this type of analysis, but Andrew Sullivan sees a realignment of the Republican Party wherein they are stripped of all support outside of the Religious Right, putting them in a permanent minority status. Hard to buy, but he's not the only one saying the current economic crisis could result in the end of one or both of the current political parties, and it's certainly a nice thought.

By fnord12 | October 9, 2008, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

If you aren't doing anything wrong, then what are you worried about?

That's generally the response to invasions of privacy. But private matters are just that... private... and shouldn't be subjected to review by government agents.


Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.

"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'," Faulk told ABC News.

By fnord12 | October 9, 2008, 1:15 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


I was reminded of the following section from the debate while reading this review of the debate from Politico, which i agree with (the quote below is from page two):

Brokaw provided the candidates a clear opportunity when he asked about consumers getting drunk on easy credit.

But neither candidate took him up on the invitation. Obama's message was about the need for more regulation to protect investors and McCain gave a paean to the inherent greatness of Americans.

But one big reason for the crisis is that ordinary Americans bought cars, houses and other things they simply could not afford. They entered into mortgages they knew could be too good to be true: no money down, low payments for the first few years.

Like Brokaw's question on the social security "crisis", i would have liked to see Obama challenge the premise here. Consumers didn't get "drunk" on "easy" credit. Faced with declining wages and limited job opportunities, they followed the advice of politicians advocating for an ownership society and fell victim to deceptive loan deals. Surely some, maybe many, people were irresponsible, but they didn't act in a vacuum. It took changes in circumstance and policy for this to become a crisis. Also, lending institutions pay people six digit salaries to assess risk. They obviously weren't earning their pay.

Don't blame the victim. Create jobs to raise wages so people can afford to live without debt.

Update: And let's not forget that declining house prices have resulted in people having mortgages for more than their homes are worth.

By fnord12 | October 8, 2008, 3:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link


Brokaw has been in this industry as long as i've been alive. He can't handle two seconds without his teleprompter? What do we need him for?

Overall thoughts on the debate: it sucked. The general consensus, even from partisan Republican sources like the Weekly Standard, is that Obama won the debate and it was his strongest night. I'm amazed by that (but happy to accept it). I thought it was a terrible debate. The supposed townhall format was a joke, with both candidates, as usual, continuing to give their standard stump speech responses to specific questions. For example, someone asked Obama essentially "How come congress was able to move so quickly on the bailout, but most things take so long, and as president how will you quickly push through your agenda items, such as global warming?" And Obama responded by giving his policies on global warming.

I did think Obama gave one really good answer on why the bailout was necessary. And it may have been because the answer was more of an explanation than a definition of his policies. It showed Obama's ability to distill complex questions into something that is understandable while still treating voters like intelligent adults. It's something that first made me like Obama (in his initial Reverend Wright speech) that i haven't seen much of since. I also thought he delivered a great counterpunch when McCain tried to say Obama's policy on crossing the Pakistan border was dangerous by listing all of McCain's belligerent "policies" (Bomb, bomb Iran, etc.). But for the most part, Obama seemed to be constantly reacting to McCain's charges instead of clearly answering questions.

McCain wasn't any better. He's generally pretty good about connecting with people in Townhall meetings, but this fake Townhall meeting stifled him. And he needed to win this more than Obama did. So it's another win-by-attrition for Obama. But Obama didn't impress me, and more than anything, we need to do something about these debate formats.

By fnord12 | October 8, 2008, 9:25 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (8)| Link

Holy Crap

It's like someone got a hold of Campbell Brown and gave her a lobotomy.

"As journalists, and certainly for me over the last few years, we've gotten overly obsessed with parity, especially when we're covering politics," Ms. Brown said. "We kept making sure each candidate got equal time -- to the point that it got ridiculous in a way."

"So when you have Candidate A saying the sky is blue, and Candidate B saying it's a cloudy day, I look outside and I see, well, it's a cloudy day," she said. "I should be able to tell my viewers, 'Candidate A is wrong, Candidate B is right.' And not have to say, 'Well, you decide.' Then it would be like I'm an idiot. And I'd be treating the audience like idiots."

I mean, not that i've ever watched Campbell Brown before so mebbe she's always been like this (doubtful), but to ever hear any reporter anywhere say this is mind blowing. And that it should be so shocking is in itself a commentary on the state of our media.

We've been saying it forever. It's not unfair to point out if something is completely untrue. And there are things that you can definitely be right about and wrong about. That's what facts are. For the last several years, politics and the media have been turning into my freshman year expos class where every answer is equally valid, and it's been so frustrating (dammit, sometimes a tree is just a friggin tree).

I hope Brown's able to stick to her word and tell Candidate A, Pundit B, Political Analyst C, Expert D, and Correspondent E they're wrong when the facts show that indeed they are.

By min | October 7, 2008, 12:57 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Getting Ugly

Dana Milbank:

McCain had said that racially explosive attacks related to Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are off limits. But Palin told New York Times columnist Bill Kristol in an interview published Monday: "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more."

Worse, Palin's routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."

The angry GOP vice presidential nominee even found a way to blame the market decline on the yet-to-be-enacted tax policies of the yet-to-be-elected Obama.

"If you turn on the news tonight when you get home, you're gonna see that, yah, this is another woeful day in the market, and the other side just doesn't understand -- no!" she said at an afternoon fundraiser at the home of mutual fund giant Jack Donahue. "Especially in a time like this, you don't propose to increase taxes. The phoniest claim in a campaign that's full of them is that Barack Obama is going to cut your taxes."

Of course, Obama never promised to cut taxes for people at $10,000-a-plate lunches in air-conditioned tents on waterfront compounds. And the crowd -- among them New York Jets owner Woody Johnson -- reacted without applause to Palin's Joe Six-Pack lines. After they didn't strike up the usual "Drill, baby, drill" or "USA" chants, Palin, rattled, read hurriedly through the rest of her speech.

The reception had been better in Clearwater, where Palin, speaking to a sea of "Palin Power" and "Sarahcuda" T-shirts, tried to link Obama to the 1960s Weather Underground. "One of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers," she said. ("Boooo!" said the crowd.) "And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,' " she continued. ("Boooo!" the crowd repeated.)

"Kill him!" proposed one man in the audience.

It'd be nice to see a landslide election that could be interpreted as a repudiation of this kind of politics, but at the same time there will be a sizable minority in this country that is riled up by this stuff and spends the next eight years believing that they are being oppressed.

By fnord12 | October 7, 2008, 10:04 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link


(Breaking radio silence on my vacation with this rant.)

For a long time now, moderators in a candidate debate have been relatively superficial. A very specific question, say, "What type of concessions would you be willing to make in order to provide an incentive for Iran to commit to not develop nuclear weapons?" may as well be "Blah blah blah please give the portion of your stump speech on Iran blah blah blah blah." I'd like to at least see candidates forced to say something like "I don't think it's prudent to give away details of negotiations ahead of time" before going into generalities (and on non-foreign relations related questions, i don't think something like that is even acceptable). But moderators, for the most part, have let the candidates get away with that sort of crap, sometimes attempting a weak follow up, sometimes throwing up their hands and saying "It's your format, gentlemen." But at least candidates have been forced to stay at least generally on topic. You could more or less replace the moderator with a fishbowl that had index cards with various high level topics on them, but at least the candidates talked about the topic on the card.

Last night in the Palin/Biden debate we saw the moderator sink to new levels of irrelevancy. Gwen Ifill was just terrible. Or rather, Sarah Palin was absolutely terrible, but in a way that a lot of people may have not noticed, and Ifill let her get away with it. I don't know if it's because the Republicans spent the past few weeks screaming about Ifill's "bias", or if it was because of the agreed upon format that there would be no follow-ups, but what she allowed to happen was a failure of her responsibilities as a journalist.

Sarah Palin would literally not talk about the topics she was asked about. Asked about her position on the Wall Street bailout, she repeatedly talked about how she supported tax cuts or her energy policy. Asked about whether or not she supported intervention in Darfur, she talked about how she was a Washington outsider. Asked to describe her Achilles' Heel, she talked about how great a boon her experience as a governor and as a member of the "heartland" would be. At one point she said to Joe Biden, "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people."

Palin has shown herself to be just fine at reciting talking points. Where she got into trouble in her recent interviews with Gibson and Couric wasn't usually in the first response to the question (unless the question didn't directly relate to a talking point she had prepared), but as they tried to probe deeper and get beyond the intitial platitudes. There was no follow up here, but that was apparently what they agreed to. Shame on the Democrats as well for agreeing to such a substance-free format, but what Ifill allowed Palin to get away with was even worse. You can't answer a question on the Wall Street bailout by giving a speech on tax cuts or energy policy. It just shouldn't be allowed. It should at least be pointed out.

In my opinion Biden should have done more to point out her non-sequitors, but he was clearly coached to play it safe and leave Palin alone so he didn't look like a bully. All of his attacks were directed at McCain. This was frustrating, but probably a good strategy. And it really shouldn't have been his job to make sure that the basic format was being adhered to. That's the moderator's role. And Gwen Ifill did a terrible job.

By fnord12 | October 3, 2008, 11:07 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

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