Daily Archive: 01/26/2012

Jan 26 2012

The Big Fail

First thing- it doesn’t have anything to do with “Health Care” nor is it “Reform”.  It’s about Mandated Insurance Coverage, taking money from your pocket and forcing you to give it to ghouls.

Health Care All But Ignored in the State of the Union

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Wednesday January 25, 2012 7:46 am

If you look at President Obama’s State of the Union address as primarily a political speech to kick off his re-election effort, you get a strong sense of what the Obama campaign thinks are his strengths and weaknesses.



(I)n the entire 7,000 word speech, there are only two lines, one of which ignores the proposed large expansion of government Medicaid, sandwiched between other unrelated talking points.

I take this as a strong sign that the Obama campaign is basically admitting they simply can’t win the politics on Obamacare. It’s a sign they believe their best political approach is just to ignore the issue as much as possible in the campaign. The law was unpopular when it passed and is still unpopular to this day. There is no reason to believe it will get any more popular by November.

It’s not working-

Number of Uninsured Americans Steadily Increasing

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Tuesday January 24, 2012 8:58 am

Since President Obama took office the percentage of uninsured people in America has been steadily raising and has now reached a new high.



I simply don’t know how the Administration can successfully campaign on passing a law to expand coverage, when the level of uninsured has increased significantly during Obama’s tenure. It is tough for people to see such a law is any form of a real accomplishment when over a year after its passage it hasn’t even begun to accomplish its main promises and the exact opposite is taking place in people’s lives.

Instead of campaigning on delivering for the American people with his signature legislation, Obama will be forced to explain that even though the insurance situation has gotten worse, voters need to trust his claims that his signature law will eventually improve things in the future.

“Eventual change in the future I hope you believe me about” just doesn’t have that nice campaign ring to it.

The decision to delay the start date of the primary expansion in the Affordable Care Act until 2014 should be remembered as one of the most idiotic political and policy decisions ever made. I would argue that if Obama narrowly loses in 2012, it could be the single decision that is most responsible.



Almost no one will remember the bill’s official CBO score come November 2012, but plenty of people will remember they haven’t seen any tangle benefits from the law Obama spent a year working on in the middle of an economic and unemployment crisis.

It’s deeply, deeply unpopular-

American People Still Really Hate the Individual Mandate

By: Jon Walker, Firedog Lake

Thursday January 26, 2012 8:48 am

Even after almost two years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the individual mandate continues to be as unpopular as always. An overwhelming 2/3rds of the county holds an unfavorable view of the mandate and the majority thinks the Supreme Court should strike it down.



The individual mandate was clearly politically toxic long before the Democrats voted for the law and it has remained politically toxic ever since. The Democrats had both ample warning and ample time to replace it with a less controversial and unquestionably constitutional alternative to encourage individuals to get insurance. Such a modest correction would have been easy to make right before passage to increase support for the law.

I don’t know if I can think of another policy that was ever viewed so unfavorably by the electorate yet was still very publicly pushed forward by one party. The disdain this move showed toward public opinion played an important role in driving the conservative energy that allowed the GOP to win a historic victory in the House. The fact that Democrats could have easily avoided this political problem yet actively choose not to makes it one of the greatest unforced political errors in American politics.

Given how many people actually expect the Supreme Court to strike down the mandate, it is hard to guess whether a favorable ruling for the administration would be a political positive or negative for Obama.



They currently don’t think they need a Republican to win the Presidency for the highly unpopular mandate to go away. If the Court doesn’t get rid of it as these people expect, that could give many a new incentive to help elect Republicans in order for the GOP to get rid of the mandate with legislation.

Remember, it’s all about electoral victory!

Jan 26 2012

He Should’ve Opened With An Al Green Song

Jon Stewart gives his critique of President Obama’s State of the Union.

He doesn’t spare the Republican response for Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels or the GOP candidates.

Jan 26 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is 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.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Paul Krugman: Rooted in Politics, Austerity Worsens the Greek Tragedy

The Washington Post recently published a heartrending story on the suffering being imposed on ordinary Greeks. So much for the doctrine of expansionary austerity.

I do have a small bone to pick, however. In the article, published on Jan. 10 and titled “In Greece, Fears That Austerity Is Killing the Economy,” there’s the discussion of why such harsh austerity is being imposed: “European powers, led by fiscally conservative Germany, have been insisting that Greece correct years of mismanagement by enacting swift waves of cuts and other major economic reforms to regain the confidence of investors and ensure the integrity of the euro. Slashing the deficit quickly is essential to ushering in a sustainable future, they have argued, and the resulting social pain is necessary to impress on Greek politicians and society that such excesses should never happen again.”

Most of that is right – but not the bit about regaining the confidence of investors – or at any rate, that’s not what it’s about these days. For it’s quite clear that at this point investor confidence is unregainable. Greek borrowing costs aren’t coming down to affordable levels for a very long time.

Amy Goodman: Obama’s Late Payment to Mortgage-Fraud Victims

In his State of the Union address, many heard echoes of the Barack Obama of old, the presidential aspirant of 2007 and 2008. Among the populist pledges rolled out in the speech was tough talk against the too-big-to-fail banks that have funded his campaigns and for whom many of his key advisers have worked: “The rest of us are not bailing you out ever again,” he promised.[..]

Obama is aware that those at the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country include many who were his most active supporters during the 2008 campaign. Does the formation of the new task force signify a move to more progressive policies, as MoveOn suggests?[..]

This is the Occupy Wall Street conflict distilled. Will Eric Schneiderman’s new job lead to the indictment of fraudulent financiers, or to just another indictment of our corrupt political system?

New York Times Editorial: A Mortgage Investigation

In the State of the Union address, President Obama promised a fresh investigation into mortgage abuses that led to the financial meltdown. The goal, he said, is to “hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.” Could this be it, finally? An investigation that results in clarity, big fines and maybe even jail time?

There is good reason to be skeptical. To date, federal civil suits over mortgage wrongdoing have been narrowly focused and, at best, ended with settlements and fines that are a fraction of the profits made during the bubble. There have been no criminal prosecutions against major players. Justice Department officials say that it reflects the difficulty of proving fraud – and not a lack of prosecutorial zeal. That is hard to swallow, given the scale of the crisis and the evidence of wrongdoing from private litigation, academic research and other sources.

Robert Sheer: Obama’s Faux Populism Sounds Like Bill Clinton

I’ll admit it: Listening to Barack Obama, I am ready to enlist in his campaign against the feed-the-rich Republicans … until I recall that I once responded in the same way to Bill Clinton’s faux populism. And then I get angry because betrayal by the “good guys” for whom I have ended up voting has become the norm.

Yes, betrayal, because if Obama meant what he said in Tuesday’s State of the Union address about holding the financial industry responsible for its scams, why did he appoint the old Clinton crowd that had legalized those scams to the top economic posts in his administration? Why did he hire Timothy Geithner, who has turned the Treasury Department into a concierge service for Wall Street tycoons?

Joe Conason; Mitch Daniels: Bombast From the Past

Why the Republicans chose Mitch Daniels-the Indiana governor who once thrilled right-wing pundits as a 2012 hopeful-to deliver a rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address is puzzling. His uninspiring remarks surely killed the Daniels fad, revived lately as Republicans fret over the unappetizing choices available in their primaries.

By shining the spotlight on Daniels, the Republicans risked losing much more than a political rescue fantasy. He isn’t merely a politician who looks like an accountant; he actually was an accountant-or at least he played one during the Bush years, when he served as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Listening to him drone on about fiscal rectitude just might have reminded voters of the true source of our national problems.

William Rivers Pitt: Staring at Empty Pages

The Occupy Wall Street movement should spend today doing a nice little victory lap, because it seemed for all the world like its members were ghost-writers on President Obama’s State of the Union speechwriting staff. Though he never directly mentioned the movement itself, Mr. Obama spent a great deal of time on Tuesday night underscoring many of Occupy’s most central themes: income inequality, tax fairness, and the need to rein in the illegal and immoral behavior of the nation’s largest financial institutions.

Talk is cheap, of course; despite all of Mr. Obama’s high-flown rhetoric, his administration is reportedly prepared to cut a disgracefully easy deal with the five banks most directly responsible for the financial meltdown, giving his so-pretty words a hollow ring [..]

Dan Kaufman: A Judge in the Dock

IN October 1998, British police officers arrested the Chilean general Augusto Pinochet while he was recuperating from back surgery at a London hospital. They were acting on an international warrant issued by the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón seeking General Pinochet’s extradition to stand trial in Spain on charges of torture and murder. After a 17-month legal battle, General Pinochet was released on medical grounds, but Judge Garzón’s warrant paved the way for stripping the former dictator of immunity and prosecuting him in Chile. [..]

Yet Judge Garzón is now himself under legal attack for confronting Spain’s own dark history. He is on trial this week before the Spanish Supreme Court for daring to investigate crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and the nearly four-decade dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. The case against him is fueled by domestic political vendettas rather than substantive legal arguments and it could dramatically set back international efforts to hold human-rights violators accountable for their crimes.

Jan 26 2012

Is This A Sell Out?

I realize that there has been a lot of speculation about what went down in the 24 hrs prior to the SOTU after Miller announced that there was no bank/state settlement deal. There is a lot of speculation about Schneiderman and not without good reason. When I was writing my article for Stars Hollow I was careful not to join in the “sell out” theme that was running hot with some very respected bloggers. I think Obama is desperate. He knows that he is losing the Independents and moderate Republicans and needed to do something fast, especially in the light of the unpopularity of the 50 state agreement and the massive push to stop it. On the other side, and I somewhat agree with RJ Eskow on this, Schneiderman has the upper hand. He is wildly popular and scares the crap out of Cuomo & company. Schneiderman is not dropping the investigation here in NY, he’s expanding it from what I hear.

That said, I think that if this unit doesn’t move quickly in the evidence they already have, evidence BTW Schneiderman has not had access to, he will drop this like a hot potato and walk. Obama is walking a thin line and realizes that Wall St money alone will not get him reelected. I think Schneiderman is playing on that and hopes to at least hold some of them more responsible and get some better compensation for the homeowners that got screwed along with some regulation of the securitization that caused this all.

I have my doubts. There are better ways to do this, namely appointing a special prosecutor with a budget, investigators and subpoena power. I’m not willing to throw Schneiderman under the bus just yet.

I also think Obama wants him to succeed Holder who said he would leave this year even if Obama is reelected. It’s either him or CA’s AG Harris.

This was a complete surprise, so I’m being very cautious here, knowing what I do about Schneiderman and who is politically afraid of him. Like after Obama was elected, I’m watching and listening very carefully. Hoping that it is not as bad as it looks.

Eskow’s opinion appeared in Huffington Post and he disclosed that he is a fellow at Campaign for America’s Future, a left wing strategy center. (This site, however, is not affiliated with any outside organization and opinions expressed here are solely are own.) He gives a good analysis of the reasons for the skepticism of David Dayen, Yves Smith and Duncan Black (Atrios) who said, “It’s hard to see the Schneiderman thing as anything but bad news.”

Eskow dissects the reasons for the skepticism

The administration’s lack of prosecutions has been inexcusable. His administration has refused to prosecute even the most compelling prima facie cases of and has appointed one revolving-door banker after another to key economic positions. Its financial settlements with Wall Street have been disgraceful. For far too long the president pushed the nonsensical argument that “Wall Street and Main Street rise and fall together.”

And with an election coming up, bankers can write big checks that most other people can’t.

He also points out that if the Department of Justice and the SEC had been doing their jobs in the first place neither the Financial Fraud Task Force or this unit would be necessary. It’s hard not to agree with him that committees are “designed for paralysis and gridlock, not efficiency” and that president who promoted “”streamlining government” and “eliminating bureaucracy” would create this committee. Looking back on what happened with health care and financial reform everyone on the left has good cause to be wary of anything that President Obama does at this point and some groups, perhaps shouldn’t have been so effusive in their praise of this deal. Eskow, as do I, thinks that the White House, left scrambling after Iowa AG Tom Miller announced that there was no settlement with the banks and presented with citizen petitions that had hundred of thousands of names, reversed course in desperation. Then with the announcement that Schneiderman would “chair” the committee, there was a rush of exuberant relief that Obama was finally showing some signs of supporting the 99%.

As to the possibility that Schneiderman “caved”to pressure from the White House, Eskow backs up what I have said, Schneiderman has too much leverage:

Whatever Eric Schneiderman’s goals are, I doubt they include being stigmatized by progressives as a sell-out. His actions over the last few months have not been those of a guy who rolls over easily. It’s safe to assume that he wants to prosecute bank fraud, and that this appointment will give him access to the resources he’s needed to conduct a thorough investigation. [..]

Consider this: What would it do to the White House if Schneiderman labeled the entire effort a sham, resigned in protest, and continued his investigations alone? He must know he has leverage now, and presumably will use it if necessary.

Escow appeared with Cenk Uygur on “The Young Turks” to discuss the unit and Schneiderman with Cenk’s panel:

I certainly don’t agree with Michael Shure and what basically is “the lesser of two evils” meme. It can be just as bad with Obama. That said, could this turn out as the cynics are predicting? Sure and if it does we here at Stars Hollow, like Eskow, will say so.

Another good discussion of this new committee was with Delaware AG Beau Biden who appeared with Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC and his other guest real estate analyst, Jack McCabe:

I’m not ready to throw in the towel nor am I going to get on the cheer-leading band wagon. I will wait to see what transpires and keep my fingers crossed for the best outcome for the most people, the 99%.

Jan 26 2012

On this Day In History January 26

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

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 26 is the 26th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 339 days remaining until the end of the year (340 in leap years).

On this day in 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guides a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with great fanfare.

Australia Day (previously known as Anniversary Day, Foundation Day, and ANA Day) is the official national day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of New Holland.

Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. It is presently an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia and is marked by inductions into the Order of Australia and presentations of the Australian of the Year awards, along with an address from the governor-general and prime minister.

The date is controversial to some Australians, particularly those of Indigenous heritage, leading to the use of alternate names, such as Invasion Day and Survival Day. Proposals have been made to change the date of Australia Day, but these have failed to gain widespread public support.

Arrival of the First Fleet

On 13 May 1787, a fleet of 11 ships, which came to be known as the First Fleet, was sent by the British Admiralty from England to Australia. Under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, the fleet sought to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay on the coast of New South Wales, which had been explored and claimed by Captain James Cook in 1770. The settlement was seen as necessary because of the loss of the colonies in North America. The Fleet arrived between 18 and 20 January 1788, but it was immediately apparent that Botany Bay was unsuitable.

On 21 January, Philip and a few officers travelled to Port Jackson, 12 kilometres to the north, to see if it would be a better location for a settlement. They stayed there until 23 January; Philip named the site of their landing Sydney Cove, after the Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney. They also had some contact with the local aborigines.

They returned to Botany Bay on the evening of 23 January, when Philip gave orders to move the fleet to Sydney Cove the next morning, 24 January. That day, there was a huge gale blowing, making it impossible to leave Botany Bay, so they decided to wait till the next day, 25 January. However, during 24 January, they spotted the ships Astrolabe and Boussole, flying the French flag, at the entrance to Botany Bay; they were having as much trouble getting into the bay as the First Fleet was having getting out.

On 25 January, the gale was still blowing; the fleet tried to leave Botany Bay, but only the HMS Supply made it out, carrying Arthur Philip, Philip Gidley King, some marines and about 40 convicts; they anchored in Sydney Cove in the afternoon.

On 26 January, early in the morning, Philip along with a few dozen marines, officers and oarsmen, rowed ashore and took possession of the land in the name of King George III. The remainder of the ship’s company and the convicts watched from onboard the Supply.

Meanwhile, back at Botany Bay, Captain John Hunter of the HMS Sirius made contact with the French ships, and he and the commander, Captain de Clonard, exchanged greetings. Clonard advised Hunter that the fleet commander was Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de La Perouse. The Sirius successfully cleared Botany Bay, but the other ships were in great difficulty. The Charlotte was blown dangerously close to rocks; the Friendship and the Prince of Wales became entangled, both ship losing booms or sails; the Charlotte and the Friendship actually collided; and the Lady Penrhyn nearly ran aground. Despite these difficulties, all the remaining ships finally managed to clear Botany Bay and sail to Sydney Cove on 26 January. The last ship anchored there at about 3 pm.

Note that the formal establishment of the Colony of New South Wales did not occur on 26 January, as is commonly assumed. That did not occur until 7 February 1788, when the formal proclamation of the colony and of Arthur Phillip’s governorship were read out. The vesting of all land in the reigning monarch George III also dates from 7 February 1788.

Jan 26 2012

My Little Town 20120125: My Cars

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Last time we talked about some cars that I helped my father restore either for resale or for keeping.  Cars seem to be a popular topic here, so we shall continue this theme about cars that were mine back in the day when I was growing up.

I have also decided to define my “growing up” period from birth to when I was 20 years old.  I have chosen this somewhat arbitrarily, but since I married at 20 it seems to be a pretty good choice.  Realistically, I do not think that anyone is grown up at 20, but I have to make some sort of demarcation.