Saturday, July 30, 2011

Zero Hedge Goes Full Conspiracy Theorist Again

Obama's Final Loophole: The "Catastrophic Emergency" Clause? | ZeroHedge: "Politico's Ben White has pointed out something interesting, namely that while the 14th Amendment may or may not be practical under the current situation (especially not without a full blown constitutional crisis), one potential loophole that Obama may have comes from none other than former president Bush, in the form of the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-20, one which deals with such trivia as 'Catastrophic Emergency', 'Continuity of Government', 'Continuity of Operations', and lastly, and perhaps somewhat ironically, 'Enduring Constitutional Government.' Considering the amount of doom and gloom spun by the government is bigger than anything seen even under Hank Paulson, could this 'crisis' be interpreted by the constitutional scholar as one that merits the invocation of Homeland Security privileges? Is America's maxing out its credit card comparable to a nuclear or terrorist attack on the continent? We may find out in less than 48 hours."

On How Not To Network

Eight Cringe-Worthy Networking Blunders - BusinessWeek:
"As a columnist and media commentator on the changing workplace, I get networking overtures all the time, and luckily most of them are appropriate and charming. From time to time, though, an unclear-on-the-concept networker makes a major misstep, reminding me that not everyone was as well-steeped in the Golden Rule during childhood as we might hope. Here are eight of my favorite cautionary tales, plus tips to help you avoid becoming a networking outcast yourself."
I am NOT a big fan of "networking". It always reminds me of having lunch with a friend that "just happens" to be a life insurance salesman.

I have to also note that a careful reading of Ms Ryan's examples will show in at least one case she would have ended her up on her own list if the roles had been reversed. All in all though, an interesting read and useful if you MUST partake of networking as a sport.

Comment of the day - Politico Edition

The anti-Mitt Romney narrative develops - Alexander Burns -
"Romney is not just a good man, he is an exceptional man. He is not just a smart man, he is a brilliant man. He is not just qualified to be President, he is IMHO the single most qualified man since Thomas Jefferson."
The sad thing is that this was not a joke.

On Software Patents Again

The Supreme Court Should Invalidate Software Patents - Timothy B. Lee - Disruptive Economics - Forbes: "But the Supreme Court won’t take such a dramatic step unless there is a broad consensus that patents are detrimental to software innovation. And this is why it’s so valuable to have mainstream programs like This American Life covering the issue. Justice Kennedy was obviously unaware that most computer programmers consider patents an impediment to their work. Only if this fact becomes common knowledge, in the way that everyone knows doctors hate malpractice lawsuits, will we have any hope of the Supreme Court—and specifically Justice Scalia—doing the right thing."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Krugman on Friedman's Fetish

The Cult That Is Destroying America - "No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism."

No True Scotsman - Conservative edition

Tea Partiers: We're Not Anti-Intellectual, David Brooks Is Just Dumb - Politics - The Atlantic Wire: "The real story is that the Left regularly employs many 'pseudo-conservatives', fakes such as David Brooks, to attack the right and pretend it's not an attack coming from the left. David Brooks is only one of many. Another good example of a pseudo-conservative hired by a leftist organization to attack the right is MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. Stop buying into the idea he's a conservative. Conservative means being against spending beyond your means, against interventionist wars spending trillions on no-win wars rebuilding other countries, etc."

Booker Prize Longlist

Indies dominate Booker longlist | The Bookseller:
"Indies have dominated the longlist for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, announced today (26th July), with nine of the 13 titles from independent publishers. Former winner, Alan Hollinghurst, has also been nominated for his much-praised The Stranger’s Child (Picador).

Sebastian Barry's On Canaan's Side (Faber), Carol Birch's Jamrach's Menagerie (Canongate Books)
, Patrick deWitt's The Sisters Brothers (Granta)
, Esi Edugyan's Half Blood Blues (Serpent's Tail/ Profile) plus Scottish-based publisher Sandstone Press' The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers are all on the list.

Four debuts have made the 13: Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English (Bloomsbury), A D Miller’s Snowdrops (Atlantic), Yvette Edwards’ A Cupboard Full of Coats (Oneworld) and Patrick McGuinness’ The Last Hundred Days (Seren).

Random House has scored two, with Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending (Jonathan Cape) and 
D J Taylor's Derby Day (Chatto), while Hachette has Alison Pick's Far to Go (Headline Review)
. However, titles published by Penguin and HarperCollins failed to make the longlist."

Thus Said Al Gore

Booman Tribune ~ Name that Quote: "We haven't gone nuts -- but the 'conversation of democracy' has become so deeply dysfunctional that our ability to make intelligent collective decisions has been seriously impaired. Throughout American history, we relied on the vibrancy of our public square -- and the quality of our democratic discourse -- to make better decisions than most nations in the history of the world. But we are now routinely making really bad decisions that completely ignore the best available evidence of what is true and what is false. When the distinction between truth and falsehood is systematically attacked without shame or consequence -- when a great nation makes crucially important decisions on the basis of completely false information that is no longer adequately filtered through the fact-checking function of a healthy and honest public discussion -- the public interest is severely damaged."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dumb Comment of The Day - Zero Hedge Edition

Full Transcript and Word Clouds Of Obama And Boehner Speeches | ZeroHedge: "Historians will look back at the US Tax code as form of slavery, but in some ways worse than physical slavery due to the psychological impacts."

Something I keep Saying

Moving American Politics to the Left : Lawyers, Guns & Money: "I feel like this issue of organizing on the local level and building from the bottom of the political party up to the top is one of many ways that conservatives understand American politics better than liberals."

To All My Friends At firedoglake

The President wasn't talking to you.

If you don't understand who the audience of that speech was then you really need to sit down and shut the fuck up

Obama's Speech On The Debt Ceiling

 Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Primetime Debt Speech
Monday, July 25, 2011
Washington, DC
As Prepared for Delivery –
Good evening.  Tonight, I want to talk about the debate we’ve been having in Washington over the national debt – a debate that directly affects the lives of all Americans. 
For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in.  In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus.  But instead of using it to pay off our debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nation’s credit card. 
As a result, the deficit was on track to top $1 trillion the year I took office.  To make matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for middle-class families; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off.  These emergency steps also added to the deficit.  
Now, every family knows that a little credit card debt is manageable.  But if we stay on the current path, our growing debt could cost us jobs and do serious damage to the economy.  More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans.   Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books.  Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money – the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand.  And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid. 
Because neither party is blameless for the decisions that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.  And over the last several months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do.  I won’t bore you with the details of every plan or proposal, but basically, the debate has centered around two different approaches. 
The first approach says, let’s live within our means by making serious, historic cuts in government spending.  Let’s cut domestic spending to the lowest level it’s been since Dwight Eisenhower was President.  Let’s cut defense spending at the Pentagon by hundreds of billions of dollars.  Let’s cut out the waste and fraud in health care programs like Medicare – and at the same time, let’s make modest adjustments so that Medicare is still there for future generations.  Finally, let’s ask the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to give up some of their tax breaks and special deductions.
This balanced approach asks everyone to give a little without requiring anyone to sacrifice too much.  It would reduce the deficit by around $4 trillion and put us on a path to pay down our debt.  And the cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small business and middle-class families get back on their feet right now.  
This approach is also bipartisan.  While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts it makes, enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared.  While Republicans might like to see deeper cuts and no revenue at all, there are many in the Senate who have said “Yes, I’m willing to put politics aside and consider this approach because I care about solving the problem.”  And to his credit, this is the kind of approach the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was working on with me over the last several weeks. 
The only reason this balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law right now is because a significant number of Republicans in Congress are insisting on a cuts-only approach – an approach that doesn’t ask the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to contribute anything at all.  And because nothing is asked of those at the top of the income scales, such an approach would close the deficit only with more severe cuts to programs we all care about – cuts that place a greater burden on working families.
So the debate right now isn’t about whether we need to make tough choices.  Democrats and Republicans agree on the amount of deficit reduction we need.  The debate is about how it should be done.  Most Americans, regardless of political party, don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask corporate jet owners and oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get.  How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries?  How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?  
That’s not right.  It’s not fair.  We all want a government that lives within its means, but there are still things we need to pay for as a country – things like new roads and bridges; weather satellites and food inspection; services to veterans and medical research. 
Keep in mind that under a balanced approach, the 98% of Americans who make under $250,000 would see no tax increases at all.  None.  In fact, I want to extend the payroll tax cut for working families.  What we’re talking about under a balanced approach is asking Americans whose incomes have gone up the most over the last decade – millionaires and billionaires – to share in the sacrifice everyone else has to make.  And I think these patriotic Americans are willing to pitch in.  In fact, over the last few decades, they’ve pitched in every time we passed a bipartisan deal to reduce the deficit.  The first time a deal passed, a predecessor of mine made the case for a balanced approach by saying this:
“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment?  And I think I know your answer.”
Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan.  But today, many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach – an approach that was pursued not only by President Reagan, but by the first President Bush, President Clinton, myself, and many Democrats and Republicans in the United States Senate.  So we are left with a stalemate. 
Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling – a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before. 
Understand – raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money.  It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.  In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine.  Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it.  President Reagan did it 18 times.  George W. Bush did it 7 times.  And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.  
Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.   
If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills – bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses. 
For the first time in history, our country’s Triple A credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet.  Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people.  We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis – one caused almost entirely by Washington.
Defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate.  And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default.  But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now.  In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.  
First of all, a six-month extension of the debt ceiling might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result.  We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road.    
But there’s an even greater danger to this approach.  Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now.  The House will once again refuse to prevent default unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach.  Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions.  Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare.  And once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way. 
That is no way to run the greatest country on Earth.  It is a dangerous game we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now.  Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake.  We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare. 
Congress now has one week left to act, and there are still paths forward.  The Senate has introduced a plan to avoid default, which makes a down payment on deficit reduction and ensures that we don’t have to go through this again in six months. 
I think that’s a much better path, although serious deficit reduction would still require us to tackle the tough challenges of entitlement and tax reform.  Either way, I have told leaders of both parties that they must come up with a fair compromise in the next few days that can pass both houses of Congress – a compromise I can sign.  And I am confident we can reach this compromise.  Despite our disagreements, Republican leaders and I have found common ground before.  And I believe that enough members of both parties will ultimately put politics aside and help us make progress.
I realize that a lot of the new members of Congress and I don’t see eye-to-eye on many issues.  But we were each elected by some of the same Americans for some of the same reasons.  Yes, many want government to start living within its means.  And many are fed up with a system in which the deck seems stacked against middle-class Americans in favor of the wealthiest few.  But do you know what people are fed up with most of all?  
They’re fed up with a town where compromise has become a dirty word.  They work all day long, many of them scraping by, just to put food on the table.  And when these Americans come home at night, bone-tired, and turn on the news, all they see is the same partisan three-ring circus here in Washington.  They see leaders who can’t seem to come together and do what it takes to make life just a little bit better for ordinary Americans.  They are offended by that.  And they should be. 
The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.  So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard.  If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know.  If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message.
America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise.  As a democracy made up of every race and religion, where every belief and point of view is welcomed, we have put to the test time and again the proposition at the heart of our founding:  that out of many, we are one.  We have engaged in fierce and passionate debates about the issues of the day, but from slavery to war, from civil liberties to questions of economic justice, we have tried to live by the words that Jefferson once wrote: “Every man cannot have his way in all things…Without this mutual disposition, we are disjointed individuals, but not a society.” 
History is scattered with the stories of those who held fast to rigid ideologies and refused to listen to those who disagreed.  But those are not the Americans we remember.  We remember the Americans who put country above self, and set personal grievances aside for the greater good.  We remember the Americans who held this country together during its most difficult hours; who put aside pride and party to form a more perfect union.  
That’s who we remember.  That’s who we need to be right now.  The entire world is watching.  So let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth – not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation.  Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. 

Boehner's Speech On The Debt Ceiling

Good evening. I'm John Boehner. I serve as Speaker of the whole House -- of the members of both parties that you elect. These are difficult times in the life of our nation. Millions are looking for work, have been for some time, and the spending binge going on in Washington is a big part of the reason why. Before I served in Congress, I ran a small business in Ohio. I was amazed at how different Washington DC operated than every business in America. Where most American business make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, in Washington more spending and more debt is business as usual. I've got news for Washington - those days are over. President Obama came to Congress in January and requested business as usual -- yet another routine increase in the national debt limit -- we in the House said 'not so fast.' Here was the president, asking for the largest debt increase in American history, on the heels of the largest spending binge in American history.
Here's what we got for that spending binge: a massive health care bill that most Americans never asked for. A 'stimulus' bill that was more effective in producing material for late-night comedians than it was in producing jobs. And a national debt that has gotten so out of hand it has sparked a crisis without precedent in my lifetime or yours. The United States cannot default on its debt obligations. The jobs and savings of too many Americans are at stake.
What we told the president in January was this: the American people will not accept an increase in the debt limit without significant spending cuts and reforms.
And over the last six months, we've done our best to convince the president to partner with us to do something dramatic to change the fiscal trajectory of our country. . .something that will boost confidence in our economy, renew a measure of faith in our government, and help small businesses get back on track.
Last week, the House passed such a plan, and with bipartisan support. It's called the 'Cut, Cap, and Balance' Act. It CUTS and CAPS government spending and paves the way for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which we believe is the best way to stop Washington from spending money it doesn't have. Before we even passed the bill in the House, the President said he would veto it.

I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law. I gave it my all.
Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president's demands changed.
The president has often said we need a 'balanced' approach -- which in Washington means: we spend more. . .you pay more. Having run a small business, I know those tax increases will destroy jobs.

The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. As the father of two daughters, I know these programs won't be there for them and their kids unless significant action is taken now.
The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today. That is just not going to happen.
You see, there is no stalemate in Congress. The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support. And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill - one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate.
Obviously, I expect that bill can and will pass the Senate, and be sent to the President for his signature. If the President signs it, the 'crisis' atmosphere he has created will simply disappear. The debt limit will be raised. Spending will be cut by more than one trillion dollars, and a serious, bipartisan committee of the Congress will begin the hard but necessary work of dealing with the tough challenges our nation faces.
The individuals doing this work will not be outsiders, but elected representatives of the people, doing the job they were elected to do as outlined in the Constitution. Those decisions should be made based on how they will affect people who are struggling to get a job, not how they affect some politician's chances of getting reelected.
This debate isn't about President Obama and House Republicans ... it isn't about Congress and the White House ... it's about what's standing between the American people and the future we seek for ourselves and our families.
You know, I've always believed, the bigger government, the smaller the people. And right now, we have a government so big and so expensive it's sapping the drive of our people and keeping our economy from running at full capacity.
The solution to this crisis is not complicated: if you're spending more money than you're taking in, you need to spend less of it,

There is no symptom of big government more menacing than our debt. Break its grip, and we begin to liberate our economy and our future.
We are up to the task, and I hope President Obama will join us in this work.
God bless you and your families, and God bless America.


To all those people that are saying the President wasted everyone's time by going on TV tonight and encouraging folks to call their congresscritter I have just one thing to say...

What is your better idea?

Time to look at a new phone?

Blackberry Maker To Cut 2,000 Jobs - Business - The Atlantic Wire: "Blackberry maker Research In Motion is laying off 2,000 jobs in Canada, BBC News is reporting. The company's current COO is going to 'retire' and will be replaced by the COO of products, who will now also be responsible for sales. The 2,000 people being let go are roughly 11% of the company's Canadian work force. According to a Financial Post report in June, the company had"

Post-Racial Huh?

Courthouse News Service: " PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AR) - A high school southeast of Little Rock would not let a black student be valedictorian though she had the highest grade-point average, and wouldn't let her mom speak to the school board about it until graduation had passed, the graduate claims in Federal Court."

Monday, July 25, 2011

From The WTF Files - Amy Winehouse As Small Businesswoman

Tricia Fox: Amy Winehouse's Untimely Death Is a Wake Up Call for Small Business Owners:
"There are so many parallels here in business. A young business starts well, and gets busy. The business owner frequently ignores their own health, swapping trips to the gym for an extra couple of hours in the office, eating takeaway dinners instead of healthy home cooked food, scrimping on sleep and generally running themselves into the ground."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Matt Yglesias asks a good question about contraception

New Research On Male Contraceptives | ThinkProgress: "But isn’t the real issue with male contraceptives the question of trust? After all, if something goes wrong, it’s the woman who ends up pregnant and has a lot more on the line."

On Keeping The Nation Secure

The Right in this country keeps claiming things like :
Democratic governments have many demands on tax dollars, but none is more important than defending the lives and security of our citizenry.
Sadly, they tend to define this in very narrow, mainly military, terms. I would like to expand it somewhat and offer the following list as belonging in that category.

  • Security from bankruptcy due to medical bills
  • Security from poisoning due to tainted food
  • Security from poisoning due to polluted air and water
  • Security from having a bank foreclose on your house even though they don't hold the note
  • Security from having their email read and phone calls listened to
  • Security from dying of heat because they cannot afford the electricity needed to keep them cool
  • Security from being discriminated against because they want to marry someone that happens to be of the same sex
I could go on for pages but won't. I don't expect any of my conservative friends to agree with me but I do expect them to start to think a little more broadly about what security means.

Jennifer Rubin Doubles Down on the Stupid

Evil in Norway. - Right Turn - The Washington Post:
That the suspect here is a blond Norwegian does not support the proposition that we can rest easy with regard to the panoply of threats we face or that homeland security, intelligence and traditional military can be pruned back. To the contrary, the world remains very dangerous because very bad people will do horrendous things. There are many more jihadists than blond Norwegians out to kill Americans, and we should keep our eye on the systemic and far more potent threats that stem from an ideological war with the West.

This is in her followup to the initial story in which she blamed it on Islamists. No apology. No backing off her analysis. Full speed ahead!

Ladies and gentlemen, I have called people hacks before and I was wrong. This is what a hack looks like. She was proved wrong by events and pulls a Goldbergian "that is central to my point" out of her ass and carries on.


On David Wu

Sources: Young woman accuses Oregon Rep. David Wu of aggressive, unwanted sexual encounter |
"A distraught young woman called U.S. Rep. David Wu's Portland office this spring, accusing him of an unwanted sexual encounter, according to multiple sources.

When confronted, the Oregon Democrat acknowledged a sexual encounter to his senior aides but insisted it was consensual, the sources said."
19 year old women do not generally have consensual sex with 56 year old men. This story doesn't pass the smell test and I am guessing that it is a very short period of time before we see the tearful entry into rehab followed quickly by resignation.

Vince Cable On US Default Negotiations

Cable attacks 'right wing nutters' | UK news |
"But he added: 'The irony of the situation at the moment, with markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few right-wing nutters in the American congress rather than the eurozone.'"

Spencer Ackerman on Breivik

Whether He Knows It Or Not, Breivik Is A Member of al-Qaida - Attackerman:
"Notice the essential point: for both the Islamic supremacist and the Islamophobe, what matters most is winning the battle with the apostates. It's not an accident that al-Qaida kills orders of magnitude more Muslims than westerners. Nor is it an accident that Breivik targeted white Norwegians instead of the Muslim immigrants that so stir his ire. For both, the stated grievance is pretextual. 'Before we can begin our Crusade,' Breivik states, 'we must do our duty by decimating Cultural Marxism!'"

On Thers leaving the FDL Asylum

Whiskey Fire: Pull up and lighten yr load: "The association between Firedoglake and Whiskey Fire has ended."

I only have this to say ...

"Free TBOGG"