09/03/2010 archive

The Enthusiasm Gap: Why Obama and the Democrats are Losing

Are the White house and the Democrats really so isolated that they don’t realize that no matter how well they say they have done the American voters don’t agree? From the sinking economy, lack of jobs, the ineffective health care and financial regulation bill, the Cat Food Commission to the weak support of GLBT and Women’s Reproductive Rights, the  lack of strong support for Progressive/Liberal issues is affecting Democratic candidates in key races.

It is not a “profound mystery” that the Democrats and the President have sold out on core Democratic principles and have failed to get the job they were elected to do done.

The Economy is the biggest problem and will need some really bold moves by the President and Congressional Democrats, even if the Republicans and Blue Dogs object. It is well part time that the the administration embrace the Congressional Progressive/Liberals and throw the conservative Democrats under the bus.

From Paul Krugman:

Lately, the hysteria over deficits in the United States has definitely brought back memories of that march to war. In a recent opinion piece about the current enthusiasm for fiscal austerity, Chris Hayes, Washington editor for The Nation, wrote: “From one day to the next, what was once accepted by the establishment as tolerable – Saddam Hussein – became intolerable, a crisis of such pressing urgency that ‘serious people’ were required to present their ideas about how to deal with it.”

If the Iraq parallel is any guide, and deficits become intolerable for everyone, years from now, when the American economy is mired in a deflationary trap – long after most people will have conceded that austerity was a mistake – only those who went along with the mistake will be considered “serious,” while those who argued strenuously against a disastrous course of action will still be considered flaky and unreliable.

This is the biggest reason for the President to end the Cat Food Commission and distance himself from Alan Simpson and conservative Democrat, Erskine Bowles, as well as the conservative bias of the rest of the commission.

From Robert Reich:

Many big American companies have been showing profits because they’re doing ever more business in China while cutting payrolls at home. American consumers aren’t buying much of anything because they’ve lost their jobs or are worried about losing them, and are still trying to get out from under a huge debt load (the latest figures show more consumer debt delinquent now than last year and a surge in personal bankruptcies). The U.S. housing market is growing worse, auto and retail sales are dropping, and the ranks of the jobless continue to swell.

Why are companies making huge profits sending jobs to China? Because like the failure of Congress to truly regulate Wall St, the President has backed away from his promise to close the tax loop hole that makes it more profitable for these companies to ship jobs overseas. The proposed bill died in Congress this past May along with extending unemployment for the “99ers”.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

h/t Glenn Greenwald @ Salon

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.

Paul Krugman: The Real Story

Next week, President Obama is scheduled to propose new measures to boost the economy. I hope they’re bold and substantive, since the Republicans will oppose him regardless – if he came out for motherhood, the G.O.P. would declare motherhood un-American. So he should put them on the spot for standing in the way of real action.But let’s put politics aside and talk about what we’ve actually learned about economic policy over the past 20 months.

When Mr. Obama first proposed $800 billion in fiscal stimulus, there were two groups of critics. Both argued that unemployment would stay high – but for very different reasons.

One group – the group that got almost all the attention – declared that the stimulus was much too large, and would lead to disaster. If you were, say, reading The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages in early 2009, you would have been repeatedly informed that the Obama plan would lead to skyrocketing interest rates and soaring inflation.

The other group, which included yours truly, warned that the plan was much too small given the economic forecasts then available. As I pointed out in February 2009, the Congressional Budget Office was predicting a $2.9 trillion hole in the economy over the next two years; an $800 billion program, partly consisting of tax cuts that would have happened anyway, just wasn’t up to the task of filling that hole.

Anthony D. Romero and Vincent Warren: Sentencing terrorism suspects to death — without trial

Since 2001, the United States has been carrying out “targeted killings” in connection with what the Bush administration called the “war on terror” and the Obama administration calls the “war against al-Qaeda.” While many of these killings have been carried out on battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq, our government has increasingly been employing lethal force in places far removed from any zone of armed conflict, effectively carrying out executions without trial or conviction. Some of the individuals on the government’s kill lists are U.S. citizens.

On Monday, our organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of targeted killings that take place outside zones of armed conflict. We did not do this lightly. But we simply cannot accept the proposition that the government should have unchecked authority to carry out extrajudicial killings, including of U.S. citizens, far from any actual battlefield. Nor can we accept the contention that the entire world is a battlefield. In protecting this country from the threat of terrorism, the government cannot jettison the rights that Americans have fought for more than two centuries to safeguard.

Eugene Robinson: The spoiled-brat American electorate

According to polls, Americans are in a mood to hold their breath until they turn blue. Voters appear to be so fed up with the Democrats that they’re ready to toss them out in favor of the Republicans — for whom, according to those same polls, the nation has even greater contempt. This isn’t an “electoral wave,” it’s a temper tantrum.

It’s bad enough that the Democratic Party’s “favorable” rating has fallen to an abysmal 33 percent, according to a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll. It’s worse that the Republican Party’s favorability has plunged to just 24 percent. But incredibly, according to Gallup, registered voters say they intend to vote for Republicans over Democrats by an astounding 10-point margin. Respected analysts reckon that the GOP has a chance of gaining 45 to 60 seats in the House, which would bring Minority Leader John Boehner into the speaker’s office.

NYT: Feeding the Hate

The NYT took a question that was meant to point out the hypocrisy of those who are opposed to the Park 51 Islamic Cultural Center that is near Ground Zero and used it to poll New Yorkers. Good going, NYT’s Editorial Board, just feed the fear and hate. And one more thing, it is NOT a “house of worship”, it is NOT a Mosque. Get your damned facts straight.

Mistrust and the Mosque

The furor over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near ground zero keeps giving us new reasons for dismay. As politicians and commentators work themselves and viewers into a rage, others who should be standing up for freedom and tolerance tiptoe away.

To the growing pile of discouragement, add this: A New York Times poll of New York City residents that found that even this city, the country’s most diverse and cosmopolitan, is not immune to suspicion and to a sadly wary misunderstanding of Muslim-Americans.

The poll found considerable distrust of Muslim-Americans and robust disapproval of the mosque proposal. Asked whether they thought Muslim-Americans were “more sympathetic to terrorists” than other citizens, 33 percent said yes, a discouraging figure, roughly consistent with polls taken since Sept. 11, 2001. Thirty-one percent said they didn’t know any Muslims; 39 percent said they knew Muslims but not as close friends.

On This Day in History: September 3

September 3 is the 246th day of the year (247th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 119 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1783, the Treaty of Paris is signed ending the American Revolution

The treaty document was signed at the Hotel d’York – which is now 56 Rue Jacob – by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay (representing the United States) and David Hartley (a member of the British Parliament representing the British Monarch, King George III). Hartley was lodging at the hotel, which was therefore chosen in preference to the nearby British Embassy – 44 Rue Jacob – as “neutral” ground for the signing.

On September 3, Britain also signed separate agreements with France and Spain, and (provisionally) with the Netherlands. In the treaty with Spain, the colonies of East and West Florida were ceded to Spain (without any clearly defined northern boundary, resulting in disputed territory resolved with the Treaty of Madrid), as was the island of Minorca, while the Bahama Islands, Grenada and Montserrat, captured by the French and Spanish, were returned to Britain. The treaty with France was mostly about exchanges of captured territory (France’s only net gains were the island of Tobago, and Senegal in Africa), but also reinforced earlier treaties, guaranteeing fishing rights off Newfoundland. Dutch possessions in the East Indies, captured in 1781, were returned by Britain to the Netherlands in exchange for trading privileges in the Dutch East Indies.

The American Congress of the Confederation, which met temporarily in Annapolis, Maryland, ratified the treaty of Paris on January 14, 1784 (Ratification Day).[1] Copies were sent back to Europe for ratification by the other parties involved, the first reaching France in March. British ratification occurred on April 9, 1784, and the ratified versions were exchanged in Paris on May 12, 1784. It was not for some time, though, that the Americans in the countryside received the news due to the lack of communication.

Great Austerian Success Stories!

Part 1- Ireland

Irish Ask How Much Is Too Much as Bank Rescue Trumps Austerity

By Joe Brennan and Dara Doyle, Bloomberg News

Sep 2, 2010 5:35 AM ET

Anglo Irish Bank Corp. said Aug. 31 it needs about 25 billion euros ($32.1 billion) in state funding, equivalent to about two-thirds of this year’s tax revenue. Standard & Poor’s, which last week cut the country’s credit rating to AA-, said the state may have to inject as much as 35 billion euros.

While Ireland provided the model for euro partners Spain and Greece in implementing tax increases and spending cuts, the bill for bailing out its banks is mounting. That’s left taxpayers, some enduring pay cuts of 13 percent, questioning the wisdom of the government and Dublin-based Anglo Irish’s management in keeping the lender alive.

“Ireland had been seen as leading the way for the rest of Europe in terms of austerity measures, but now the market isn’t too keen on this black box that’s been opened up by the banks,” said David Schnautz, a fixed-income strategist at Commerzbank AG in London. “Investors don’t doubt the willingness of the Irish to accept the pain, but they are beginning to ask if the scale of the banking problem is just too big to handle.”

The government so far has injected almost 33 billion euros into banks and building societies, with two-thirds of that going to Anglo Irish. It has paid a further 13 billion euros for real- estate loans that were once worth 27.2 billion euros, the agency responsible for the debt said on Aug. 23.

“At this point, the taxpayer has paid enough,” said Brian Lucey, associate professor of finance at Trinity College Dublin. “It’s time to consider strongly if the senior bondholders should bear some pain. The only group that should be totally protected should be the depositors.”

(h/t AmericaBlog)

Morning Shinbun Friday September 3

Friday’s Headlines:

Hurricane Earl, downgraded to Category 2, begins hitting Outer Banks

Malaysia tackles national woes with ad campaign


BP Says Limits on Drilling Imperil Oil Spill Payouts

Survey: Employers still shifting insurance costs to workers


Bundesbank sacks ‘racist’ board member

ECB to create ‘super regulators’ for banks

Middle East

Netanayahu and Abbas agree to biweekly Israeli-Palestinian meetings

Gaza militants vow new Israel attacks after peace talks


Pakistan’s rich ‘diverted floods to save their land’

Taiwan in a rice wine stew


UN ‘ignored Congo rape warnings’

Latin America

Mexican army kills dozens of drug suspects

Pyramid Scheme

Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Winner in Economics– “Contrary to what you may have heard, there’s very little that’s baffling about our problems – at least not if you knew basic, old-fashioned macroeconomics. In fact, someone who learned economics from the original 1948 edition of Samuelson’s textbook would feel pretty much at home in today’s world. If economists seem totally at sea, it’s because they have carefully unlearned the old wisdom. If policy has failed, it’s because policy makers chose not to believe their own models.”

You know, you can’t make a career in Academia by saying ‘problem solved’, it makes for very short papers, so there is a perverse incentive, especially in the Social “Sciences”, to disagree simply to be disagreeable and come up with insane theories about Pyramids being landing platforms for a race of parasite infested Galactic Overlords (I am of course talking about Stargate and not Scientology).

How has that Pyramid scheme worked out?

(L)et’s put politics aside and talk about what we’ve actually learned about economic policy over the past 20 months.

One group – the group that got almost all the attention – declared that the stimulus was much too large, and would lead to disaster. If you were, say, reading The Wall Street Journal’s opinion pages in early 2009, you would have been repeatedly informed that the Obama plan would lead to skyrocketing interest rates and soaring inflation.

So what actually happened? The administration’s optimistic forecast was wrong, but which group of pessimists was right about the reasons for that error?

When in doubt, bet on the markets. The 10-year bond rate was over 3.7 percent when The Journal published that editorial; it’s under 2.7 percent now.

What about inflation? … Sure enough, key measures of inflation have fallen from more than 2 percent before the economic crisis to 1 percent or less now, and Japanese-style deflation is looking like a real possibility.

The actual lessons of 2009-2010, then, are that scare stories about stimulus are wrong, and that stimulus works when it is applied. But it wasn’t applied on a sufficient scale. And we need another round.

But politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. The economic theory behind the Obama stimulus has passed the test of recent events with flying colors…

So, as I said, here’s hoping that Mr. Obama goes big next week. If he does, he’ll have the facts on his side.

Unfortunately, as Atrios says any action at all at this point looks unlikely.  “Some big, new stimulus plan is not in the offing.”

So given the choice between going big and going home, the Obama Administration has decided to go home.

Prime Time

Day 2 of Zap2it.  I had a longer edition, but it got flushed during my power outage.  Last chance this week for all Keith and Rachel all night long.

College Throwball, some halfway decent movies, and premiers.


Dave hosts Will Arnett, Tommy Johnagin, and Karen Elson.  Alton does Sushi (if you knew her like I knew her).  The Better Man, Dr. Orpheus’ back story and Triana dumps Dean.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Disasters show ‘screaming’ need for action – climate chief

by Alexandra Troubnikoff and Richard Ingham, AFP

Thu Sep 2, 1:19 pm ET

GENEVA (AFP) – UN climate chief Christiana Figueres on Thursday warned that a string of weather calamities showed the deepening urgency to forge a breakthrough deal on global warming this year.

Speaking before some 40 countries were to address finance, an issue that has helped hamstring UN climate talks, Figueres said floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia and other weather disasters had been a shocking wakeup call.

“The news has been screaming that a future of intense, global climate disasters is not the future that we want,” Figueres, newly-appointed executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters.