08/23/2010 archive

The Week in Editorial Cartoons, Part I – BP’s Soup Recipe

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma

John Sherffius

John Sherffius, Comics.com (Boulder Daily Camera)

Note: Due to a deluge of editorial cartoons over the past week or so, I’m going to, time permitting, post Part II of this weekly diary in the next few days.  In addition to some of the issues covered in this edition, I’ll include more cartoons on the floods in Pakistan, the withdrawal of combat U.S. forces in Iraq, and Rupert Murdoch’s $1 million contribution to the GOP.

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Chris Cillizza: Poll numbers in 1994, a bad year for Democrats, don’t bode well for them in 2010

Is it deja vu all over again for Democrats?

Some neutral observers and senior strategists within the party have begun to believe that the national political environment is not only similar to what they saw in 1994 — when Democrats lost control of the House and Senate — but could in fact be worse by Election Day.

A quick look at the broadest atmospheric indicators designed to measure which way the national winds are blowing — the generic ballot and presidential approval — affirms the sense that the political environment looks every bit as gloomy for Democrats today as it did 16 years ago.

“President Obama’s job [approval] number is likely to be as bad or worse than [Bill] Clinton’s when November rolls around, the Democratic generic-ballot advantage of plus 12 to plus 15 in 2006 and 2008 is now completely gone, and conservatives are energized like 1994,” said Stu Rothenberg, an independent political analyst and editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, a well-read campaign tip sheet.

Dick Cavett: Real Americans, Please Stand Up

I like to think I’m not easily shocked, but here I am, seeing the emotions of the masses running like a freight train over the right to freedom of religion – never mind the right of eminent domain and private property.

A heyday is being had by a posse of the cheesiest Republican politicos (Lazio, Palin, quick-change artist John McCain and, of course, the self-anointed St. Joan of 9/11, R. Giuliani). Balanced, of course by plenty of cheesy Democrats. And of course Rush L. dependably pollutes the atmosphere with his particular brand of airborne sludge.

Sad to see Mr. Reid’s venerable knees buckle upon seeing the vilification heaped on Obama, and the resulting polls. (Not to suggest that this alone would cause the sudden 180-degree turn of a man of integrity facing re-election fears.)

I got invigorating jolts from the president’s splendid speech – almost as good as Mayor Bloomberg’s

– but I was dismayed, after the worst had poured out their passionate intensity, to see him shed a few vertebrae the next day and step back.

Let’s have a chat about the economy

State of the Economy

by Ian Welsh

2010 August 23

The key issues are that States and municipalities are essentially bankrupt, and that corporations aren’t hiring.  Corporations aren’t hiring because their profits are fine, and because they don’t see where the sustained growth would come from.  States and municipalities are having income issues because the incomes of median taxpayers have not recovered and the number of employed is not increasing (ignore the “unemployment rate”, what matters is how many people are employed and that hasn’t recovered worth a damn.)  Since States and municipalities have limited ability to borrow and can’t print money, in both cases, unlike the Feds, this means they must cut or raise taxes and in general States are ideologically opposed to raising taxes and municipalities don’t feel they can.  Housing prices remain depressed, which is the main source of money for municipalities.

Since there is no chance of a real stimulus being passed (and if there was, Obama would do it badly, like he did the last one) and since Obama refuses to spend the TARP money on the economy until it’s his reelection on the line rather than Congressional Dems, and since there’s no obvious source of new jobs in the US economy, I see little reason to expect the US economy to recover.  Even if the world economy somehow does, it will route around the US, since the US is a high cost domicile and there is no good reason to produce in the US.  In the old days you produced in the US because that was where the next big tech boom occured, the skills were there, and you needed in.  With the deliberate strangling of innovation in the US due to the oligopolization of the economy, the next tech boom (if there is one) is unlikely to occur in the US.

None of this was necessary, but Obama chose to not just ask for too little money in his stimulus, but spent the money very badly even outside of the hugely useless tax cuts.  The money did not give the economy an obvious medium term direction: either a huge telecom build-out or an energy and conservation build-out, and the huge bailouts for financial firms created a more concentrated financial sector full of zombie banks with no intention to lend money.  The failure to create a workable cram down on housing prices which also rescued underwater home owners has left housing prices underwater and credit markets still sclerotic.  With the House either going Republican in the fall, or if it remains Democratic with the Democratic margin being controlled by hard-core Blue Dogs, even if Obama did buy a clue, there is little chance that a decent restructuring stimulus bill could get through Congress and the actions of regulatory bodies like the FCC, the Justice department, as well as Obama’s implicit recognition of the health oligopoly, make it clear that his administration has no intention of challenging, let alone dismantling, the oligopolies which are draining the life blood of the US polity.

Monday Business Edition

Now That’s Rich

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: August 22, 2010

We need to pinch pennies these days. Don’t you know we have a budget deficit? For months that has been the word from Republicans and conservative Democrats, who have rejected every suggestion that we do more to avoid deep cuts in public services and help the ailing economy.

But these same politicians are eager to cut checks averaging $3 million each to the richest 120,000 people in the country.

What – you haven’t heard about this proposal? Actually, you have: I’m talking about demands that we make all of the Bush tax cuts, not just those for the middle class, permanent.

And where would this $680 billion go? Nearly all of it would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans, people with incomes of more than $500,000 a year. But that’s the least of it: the policy center’s estimates say that the majority of the tax cuts would go to the richest one-tenth of 1 percent. … And the average tax break for those lucky few – the poorest members of the group have annual incomes of more than $2 million, and the average member makes more than $7 million a year – would be $3 million over the course of the next decade.

In Striking Shift, Small Investors Flee Stock Market

By GRAHAM BOWLEY, The New York Times

Published: August 21, 2010

One of the phenomena of the last several decades has been the rise of the individual investor. As Americans have become more responsible for their own retirement, they have poured money into stocks with such faith that half of the country’s households now own shares directly or through mutual funds, which are by far the most popular way Americans invest in stocks. So the turnabout is striking.

The notion that stocks tend to be safe and profitable investments over time seems to have been dented in much the same way that a decline in home values and in job stability the last few years has altered Americans’ sense of financial security.

But then came a grim reassessment of America’s economic prospects as unemployment remained stubbornly high and private sector job growth refused to take off.

Investors’ nerves were also frayed by the “flash crash” on May 6, when the Dow Jones industrial index fell 600 points in a matter of minutes. The authorities still do not know why.

From Yahoo News Business

Special BP Blowout Disaster Coverage

1 Gulf claims chief says no-sue rule was his idea

By HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 22, 4:09 pm ET

NEW ORLEANS – The new administrator for damage claims from Gulf oil spill victims said Sunday it was his idea, not BP’s, to require that anyone who receives a final settlement from the $20 billion compensation fund give up the right to sue the oil giant.

But Ken Feinberg told reporters that he has not yet decided whether the no-sue requirement will extend to other companies that may be responsible for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

He insisted that payouts from the claims facility he will run will be more generous than those from any court. Feinberg also ran the government compensation fund created after the 9/11 attacks, and there was a similar no-sue provision.

2 For Gulf tourism, problem is perception – not oil

By NOAKI SCHWARTZ, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 22, 1:51 pm ET

BILOXI, Miss. – On the great yawning porch that once belonged to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, two women sit in rockers listening to the cicadas and looking out over Mississippi Sound as they wait for their tour to begin.

Before Hurricane Katrina, some 200 people came each day to visit the house – the only structure on the oak-shaded Beauvoir estate not destroyed by the storm. And that’s just what’s needed to break even. Tourism has dropped off 20 percent here, with just a few visitors on some days since BP PLC’s well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico.

The story here is mirrored across the Gulf Coast. Beaches have been cleaned of crude, the leak has been plugged and some cities never had oil wash ashore at all. Still, tourists stay away from what they fear are oil-coated coastlines – a perception officials say could take years to overcome and cost the region billions of dollars.

Outrageous?  We report…

“We the Parasites”

“We the Parasites” Benefiting from HAMP

By: emptywheel Sunday August 22, 2010 7:58 pm

The guys in charge of our economy actually seem incapable of understanding who they work for-not to mention the additional problems their “qualified success” will cause. (What happens in a decade when large numbers of middle class kids can’t go to college because the government decided it was okay to subject their families to more misery during a foreclosure?)

Or, they don’t give a shit that this program asks homeowners to pay over and over for their mistakes, all to make sure the banksters never have to pay for their own.

Which is the other problem with this attitude. The alternative to HAMP, of course, is cram-down, in which the banksters have to cut the principle owed to them to what was probably more realistic value in the first place. Every time cram-down gets dismissed, the person dismissing it as an option mobilizes the language of morality, the need to make homeowners pay for buying more home than they could afford (assuming, always, they haven’t been laid off because the banksters ruined the economy or run into medical debt). But there seems to be no language of morality to describe the price banksters should have to pay by failing to do any real due diligence on loans or for accepting transparently bogus assessments of value. Heck, even the banksters get the equivalent of cram-down without a big morality play.

Treasury’s attitude about HAMP is not just evidence they’ve lost all track of who they work for and where the benefits of the economy are supposed to be delivered, but it also suggests that these Treasury folks have lost the most basic notion of capitalism, that if businessmen never pay for bad decisions, they’ll continue to make bad decisions.

On This Day in History: August 23

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

August 23 is the 235th day of the year (236th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 130 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1902, pioneering cookbook author Fannie Farmer, who changed the way Americans prepare food by advocating the use of standardized measurements in recipes, opens Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery in Boston. In addition to teaching women about cooking, Farmer later educated medical professionals about the importance of proper nutrition for the sick.

Farmer was born March 23, 1857, and raised near Boston, Massachusetts. Her family believed in education for women and Farmer attended Medford High School; however, as a teenager she suffered a paralytic stroke that turned her into a homebound invalid for a period of years. As a result, she was unable to complete high school or attend college and her illness left her with a permanent limp. When she was in her early 30s, Farmer attended the Boston Cooking School. Founded in 1879, the school promoted a scientific approach to food preparation and trained women to become cooking teachers at a time when their employment opportunities were limited. Farmer graduated from the program in 1889 and in 1891 became the school’s principal. In 1896, she published her first cookbook, The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which included a wide range of straightforward recipes along with information on cooking and sanitation techniques, household management and nutrition. Farmer’s book became a bestseller and revolutionized American cooking through its use of precise measurements, a novel culinary concept at the time.

Cookbook fame

Fannie published her most well-known work, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, in 1896. Her cookbook introduced the concept of using standardized measuring spoons and cups, as well as level measurement. A follow-up to an earlier version called Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book, published by Mary J. Lincoln in 1884, the book under Farmer’s direction eventually contained 1,849 recipes, from milk toast to Zigaras à la Russe. Farmer also included essays on housekeeping, cleaning, canning and drying fruits and vegetables, and nutritional information.

The book’s publisher (Little, Brown & Company) did not predict good sales and limited the first edition to 3,000 copies, published at the author’s expense. The book was so popular in America, so thorough, and so comprehensive that cooks would refer to later editions simply as the “Fannie Farmer cookbook”, and it is still available in print over 100 years later.

Farmer provided scientific explanations of the chemical processes that occur in food during cooking, and also helped to standardize the system of measurements used in cooking in the USA. Before the Cookbook’s publication, other American recipes frequently called for amounts such as “a piece of butter the size of an egg” or “a teacup of milk.” Farmer’s systematic discussion of measurement – “A cupful is measured level … A tablespoonful is measured level. A teaspoonful is measured level.” – led to her being named “the mother of level measurements.”

I still have my copy.

Morning Shinbun Monday August 23

Monday’s Headlines:

Pakistanis Say Taliban Arrest Was Meant to Hurt Peace Bid

Another news flash from Jupiter


Far from Ground Zero, other plans for mosques run into vehement opposition

Growth puts pressure on California’s state parks


Rock-star critic takes new swipe at Putin

Half of French voters prefer Left candidate to Nicolas Sarkozy

Middle East

The families waiting for Iran to free their children

US troops ‘would only return to Iraq because of complete failure of security’


China may drop death penalty for economic crimes

Ex-policeman hijacks bus in Manila


Boys hoping to gain their manhood lose it – forever

Latin America

Trapped miners in Chile are alive

Pique the Geek

For some reason, I published an early draft of tonight’s column yesterday while editing it.  Please scroll down to see the final version for tonight.  I apologize for the confusion.

Warmest regards,


“They’re Trying To Make Us Look Like Racists”

If the shoe fits….a crowd of white, mouth breathing racists attacked a black construction worker at the protests of Park 51 because he looked like he was Muslim.

Prime Time

Well, what I’ll be watching is the Little League World Series on ESPN 2; Fairfield All-Stars vs. Pearland, Texas.  However the games only last 6 innings and there’s a definite possibility things will go badly even though we root, root, root for the home team so you’ll want some viewing alternatives.

There is Throwball, the Farves @ the 49ers.  Might be good for yucks.  TV Guide will be a thin sliver beneath the 16th repeat of Mannequin in 3 days.  Thanks for nothing assholes.

TheMomCat will be watching True Blood because she gets HBO.  I’ll note for the record that the two leads just got married.


Mostly networks are repeating tonight’s premiers, some of which I’ve tried to note above.

MSNBC has To Catch a Predator for you Chris Hansen fans followed by Sex Bunker.  The executives responsible for these abominations are motherfucking perverts.  Literally.

Adult Swim has the Season 3 Premiers of Boondocks It’s a Black President, Huey Freeman and Metalocalypse Renovation Klok (both repeats).  Also the first Season Finale of Dino Stamatopoulos’ new project Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole.

Yahoo TV Listings

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