Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 1:13 pm

Study break, 2016 presidential campaign edition:

Filed under: Evil — Lex @ 1:13 pm
Tags: ,

Quote of the day, from Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money:

Jeb Bush flip-flopping on immigration, now saying he doesn’t support a path toward citizenship for undocumented Americans, is a sign that leading Republicans can be serious about winning the 2016 Republican nomination or they can be serious about winning the general election, but they can’t be serious about both.

Granted, that’s a theory, or even just a hypothesis. But does it comport with the known facts? Yes. Does it explain current events? Yes. Was Bush’s action predictable in light of Loomis’s observation? Hell, it was inevitable.

Monday, June 18, 2012 8:19 pm

“Irony has been drawn and quartered”

At least at first glance, President Obama’s executive order on immigration appears to be 1) constitutional, 2) well within the scope of precedent with respect to White House executive orders, 3) humane and 4) quite possibly a good idea.

This has not prevented some people from complaining about it. I’m willing to be convinced it’s wrong and even unconstitutional if someone can come up with the right evidence. What I’m not willing to do is be lectured by the fact-challenged, torturerotic Wansee groupie John Yoo:

President Obama’s claim that he can refuse to deport 800,000 aliens here in the country illegally illustrates the unprecedented stretching of the Constitution and the rule of law. He is laying claim to presidential power that goes even beyond that claimed by the Bush administration, in which I served. There is a world of difference in refusing to enforce laws that violate the Constitution (Bush) and refusing to enforce laws because of disagreements over policy (Obama).

Zandar dismisses this with the contempt it deserves:

Yoo’s own theories on the plenary executive are phenomenally daft, but claiming that the President has the authority to declare unending bloody war on tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan citizens but doesn’t have the authority to direct enforcement procedures of executive branch agencies is so absolutely douchetronic that Yoo probably needs to waterboard himself for a while just to balance the scales of the universe.

And, finally, Yoo demonstrates not only his ethical illiteracy and constitutional ignorance, but also a fundamental inability to count.

So what we have here is a president who is refusing to carry out federal law simply because he disagrees with Congress’s policy choices.

The federal law in question was the DREAM Act, a congressional policy choice that passed the House and was filibustered in the Senate despite getting a 55-vote majority. In the Framers’ day, numbers like that meant it could become law if the president signed it or declined to veto it. But that fact doesn’t prevent Yoo from lying, once again, about the Framers:

That is an exercise of executive power that even the most stalwart defenders of an energetic executive — not to mention the Framers — cannot support.

Bitch, please. Google “Bush signing statements” and then pull your head out of your rear end and get on the first airplane to The Hague — preferably in irons.

Monday, September 6, 2010 7:23 pm

Illegal immigrants and Social Security: Good news/bad news

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 7:23 pm
Tags: ,

Bruce Krasting, writing at Zero Hedge, takes note of a Washington Post article on the contributions of illegal aliens to Social Security.

The short version: A lot of illegal immigrants are paying money into the Social Security Trust Fund that they will never see. That’s bad news for them and good news for Social Security.

BUT, they’re paying so much in that it’s making the Social Security Trust Fund look like it’s in better shape than it actually is. That’s bad news for Social Security, particularly if that money were returned to the immigrants and their employers.

But wait, there’s more. Krasting thinks this article isn’t appearing by accident — that the Obama administration sees a way to leverage this situation to come up with a way to “bribe” opponents of immigration reform into going along. Really. He writes:

We know that the actuaries at the Fund have been aware of the magnitude of this issue for a very long time. The question I have is, “What did they do about it?” We need to understand what this means in terms of anticipated future benefit payments. There are two possibilities:

(1) The Fund knew the money was from illegal workers but chose to close their eyes. For the purposes of calculating future liabilities they assumed that everyone, including the illegal workers, would someday get benefits. But they won’t. This would imply that the future liabilities of the Fund are much smaller than has been projected. This “good” news would have to be offset with the reality that the “true” assets of the fund are significantly overstated.

(2) The Fund knew all along that the benefits that are associated with these illegal receipts are never going to be paid and therefore it has reduced the liabilities associated with this to some degree. This would essentially make a fraud of all of the SS accounting. I doubt (hope) that this is not the case. To restate both assets and liabilities would create a very big credibility gap for SS.

I have said repeated that nothing happens in D.C. by chance. That every nuance must be looked at closely. They all have meaning. In my opinion the WaPo article shines a very bright light on SS. They have been knowingly overstating assets and financial conditions for years. What possible motive could be behind this Labor Day weekend bombshell? My guess:

The Administration will use the Goss revelation to prove to the American people that illegal workers have made a major contribution to the US economy via the taxes they paid to SS. This will be done to blunt the growing tide of ire among those who actually live here. There could be another chapter to this story. It could be the ticket whereby some illegals get legal. The cost for a Green Card would be that the applicant would have to (among other things) agree to give up their rights to any future SS benefits based on prior contributions made to SS. They would be entitled to benefits based solely on what they were taxed in future years. Any previous contributions (both employer and worker) would be given up as a penalty. This thinking would set up the possibility for two extraordinary outcomes.

(I) If SS eliminated the future liabilities associated with the estimated $320b of excess contributions and they were allowed to keep those tainted contributions SS would be transformed overnight to an overfunded position of significant proportions. It would be so significant that the Fund could reduce the current 12.4% PR tax by 20-30% for the next three to four years. That would have a meaningful impact on the economy.

(II) America would get paid $350b (P+I) [principal + interest] for allowing a significant number of workers to become legal. Many would still gripe. But the tradeoff of a partial tax holiday for 150mm workers and their employers would shut down much of the opposition.

The Administration needs a win-win on the economy and immigration. Steve Goss at the Trust Fund may have given them the opportunity to do that. Stay tuned. It does not get much weirder than this.

Given the volatility of both Social Security and immigration as election-year issues, this may or may not get weirder but definitely is going to get more interesting.

Sunday, June 20, 2010 10:50 pm

Immigration and the feds

Filed under: More fact-based arguing, please — Lex @ 10:50 pm
Tags: ,

Dumb as I think Arizona’s S.B. 1070 is, my first reaction to news of the administration’s plans to sue to overturn it is that it’s not obvious to me that the federal government has standing to sue.

Any real lawyers wanna tell me what the deal is?

Sunday, June 6, 2010 8:05 pm

But remember, the controversy about SB 1070 in Arizona is NOT about racism.

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 8:05 pm
Tags: , , ,

Not at all:

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.

The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity. But the school’s principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

The “Go on Green” mural, which covers two walls outside Miller Valley Elementary School, was designed to advertise a campaign for environmentally friendly transportation. It features portraits of four children, with a Hispanic boy as the dominant figure.

R.E. Wall, director of Prescott’s Downtown Mural Project, said he and other artists were subjected to slurs from motorists as they worked on the painting at one of the town’s most prominent intersections.

“We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” Wall said. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”

Wall said school Principal Jeff Lane pressed him to make the children’s faces appear happier and brighter.

“It is being lightened because of the controversy,” Wall said, adding that “they want it to look like the children are coming into light.”

Lane said that he received only three complaints about the mural and that his request for a touch-up had nothing to do with political pressure. “We asked them to fix the shading on the children’s faces,” he said. “We were looking at it from an artistic view. Nothing at all to do with race.”

City Councilman Steve Blair spearheaded a public campaign on his talk show at Prescott radio station KYCA-AM (1490) to remove the mural.

In a broadcast last month, according to the Daily Courier in Prescott, Blair mistakenly complained that the most prominent child in the painting is African-American, saying: “To depict the biggest picture on the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why?”

UPDATE: Amazingly, the talk-radio host (who also is a City Council member) mentioned in the story was fired. Amazingly, he doesn’t understand why. I know it is mathematically impossible for every bigoted idiot in the United States of America to have his own radio talk show, but swear to God, some days it seems like that’s true.

UPDATE: From the comments: Former Prescott Mayor Jack Wilson calls on the talk-show host/City Council member, Steve Blair, to resign.

Friday, May 14, 2010 8:48 pm

Dear Kristina

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 8:48 pm
Tags: , ,

Business Leaders Urge MLB to Keep All-Star Game in Phoenix
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Kristina JustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Business Leaders Urge MLB to Keep All-Star Game in Phoenix
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dateThu, May 13, 2010 at 2:08 PM
subjectBusiness Leaders Urge MLB to Keep All-Star Game in Phoenix
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hide details May 13 (1 day ago)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Business Leaders Urge MLB to Keep All-Star Game in Phoenix

PHOENIX (May 13, 2010) — More than a dozen business leaders across Arizona are urging Major League Baseball’s commissioner to keep the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix.

Dear Kristina,

I’m sorry that a boycott is necessary, but unfortunately, hitting some people in the wallet seems to be the only way to get their attention. And, let’s face it, from this distance, calling for a boycott is about all the leverage over the state of Arizona that I can muster. So, no, I’m not going to reverse my call for a boycott unless/until Arizona’s law is enjoined/overturned by a state court or else repealed.

Here’s a clue: If Arizona doesn’t want to be considered a bunch of bigoted, anticonstitutional cobags, it might consider not acting like, well, bigoted, anticonstitutional cobags.

Y’all also might want to consider finding Joe Arpaio a job in the private sector. Just sayin’.

Sincerely,

Lex Alexander
Blog on the Run

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 6:33 am

Thought for the day

… from the, frankly, not-always-so-sensible Peter Beinart:

For a year now, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and their minions have been warning that America is morphing into a police state. … So where are Palin and Beck, those latter-day Paul Reveres, now that Governor Jan Brewer is doing to the southwest what President Barack Obama supposedly hopes to do to the nation?

Monday, May 3, 2010 10:16 pm

There may be good reasons to support Arizona’s new immigration law …

Filed under: More fact-based arguing, please — Lex @ 10:16 pm
Tags: ,

… but the notion that it will help stem a rising tide of crime is not one of them:

By many measures, Arizona has become safer since illegal immigrants began pouring into the state in the 1990s.

Crime has dropped all across the country since then, but the decrease has been as fast or faster in Arizona. The rate of property crimes in the state, for example, has plummeted 43% since 1995, compared with 30% nationwide. …

[Jack] Harris, the Phoenix police chief, who opposes SB 1070, said proponents of cracking down on illegal immigrants vastly overstated that population’s criminality.

“Saying that if you get rid of the illegal immigrants, you’ll get rid of 80% of the crime, which I’ve heard, that’s not true,” he said, dismissing the rhetoric as political opportunism. “All you have to do in Arizona is come out with anything that’s anti-immigrant and you will be in good shape in the polls.”

What most in law enforcement here do agree on is that the victims of crime by illegal immigrants tend to be other immigrants. Community activists argue that the new law will make it worse for law-abiding immigrants because few immigrants, whether documented or not, will want to deal with police.

“No one’s going to call the cops,” said Alfredo Gutierrez, a former state Senate majority leader who opposed the bill. He said law-abiding immigrants of all types were fleeing the state out of fear of being subjected to racial profiling.

“They’re getting rid of the folks who would report the crooks,” Gutierrez said. “The crooks are staying. This is like heaven for them.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010 10:28 pm

Hey, it worked in the American South

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 10:28 pm
Tags: ,

Arizona native Cord Jefferson, on the notion that Arizona should be boycotted because of its new immigration law:

I’ve tried hard, to no avail, to think of any time in which calling a destitute population stupid and making it even poorer has effectively engendered in its people new ways of thinking.

Just where do you deport U.S. citizens TO?

This is not a rhetorical exercise or a hypothetical question, because Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., actually wants to deport natural-born U.S. citizens … if they’re the children of illegal immigrants.

John Cole for the win: ” … ten years ago this month, Republicans were pitching an absolute fit about allowing Elian Gonzalez to go back to Cuba, demanding he be made an American citizen because … his mother almost walked across the border. Ten years later, they want to kick out Hispanic citizens because … their mothers walked across the border.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009 9:15 pm

Odds and ends for 12/3

With friends like these: Iraqi lawyer helps U.S., gets tortured by Iraqis for his trouble and now is suing U.S. for $200MM for trying to murder him.

With friends like these, cont.: Someone else unhappy with U.S. conduct in Iraq — the head of Blackwater (now Xe), Erik Prince.

Women’s rights: I wouldn’t say I expect to enjoy reading this book, but I’m looking forward to it. Nick Kristoff can be an insufferable ass sometimes, but on this issue he is doing God’s work and has been for a long time. (h/t: Janice)

Reality check: Who are we, Zbigniew Brzezinski asks, to criticize Afghanistan about government corruption? “Americans, of course, hate hypocrisy,” the LA Times’ Andrew Malcolm observes, “by everyone else.”

Elizabeth Warren for president: “America today has plenty of rich and super-rich. But it has far more families who did all the right things, but who still have no real security.”

The Republicans have a plan for health-care reform: Prevent it by any means necessary.

They also have a plan for fixing the deficit: killing Social Security and Medicare. Actually, that’s backward. It’s not that they want to kill SocSec/Medicare to fix the deficit. It’s that they’re making a big deal about fixing the deficit (now; not so much when it was Bush’s deficit) because that’s a plausible excuse for what they really want to do, which is pulling the New Deal and Great Society up out of our culture by the roots. Unfortunately, they lack the intellectual integrity to say so forthrightly. When they did say so forthrightly, about Social Security, in 2005, they got their heads handed to them.

Call this bluff: The banksters at Royal Bank of Scotland, which got the world’s largest bailout, say they’ll quit if they don’t get their bonuses. Don’t let the door hit you in the bum as you leave, tools.

Dylan Ratigan FTW: Reject Bernanke. He started the damn fire.

Shorter Jonathan Weil: FDIC, man up. Banks, pay up. Amen.

Jason Linkins points out a bit of a discrepancy in criticism of the Afghanistan withdrawal date: Critics suggest that setting a start date for withdrawals will just embolden terrorists to wait until we leave. This ignores the fact that even while we’ve been threatening “to go hard, forever,” the average yearly number of global jihadi terror attacks  has increased 607% since we invaded Iraq. Oops.

Relatedly: George Will takes a couple of cheap shots at Obama, and embraces the flawed slippery-slope argument in the item above, and mistakenly believes that Afghanistan is winnable anymore, but he also believes the right thing for most of the right reasons: This will not end well.

To all the first-time voters who supported Obama because you thought he’d get us out of George Bush’s ill-conceived wars: Here’s to the loss of your political virginity.

Lou Dobbs’ presidential aspirations = FAIL: Anti-immigrant group pulls support. Bwa!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 8:42 pm

Odds and ends, Nov. 17

  • Our eyes are on Afghanistan, but the prize is energy-rich Uzbekistan. So they boil political opponents alive. Big freakin’ deal.
  • The Special Inspector General of the fed bank bailout program says we need to audit the Fed already. Fine minds agree. So let’s audit the Fed already.
  • Tim Geithner’s pissing away of taxpayer money earlier this month, to the benefit of — surprise!! — Goldman Sachs and AIG —  would’ve been grounds for dismissal, if not execution, in any country that wasn’t already a banana republic. Unfortunately, we’re all now singing the Chiquita song:

This, Mr. Geithner, is what moral hazard is all about. Thanks to your actions you have doomed the U.S.’s formerly free and efficient equity markets to the biggest capital market bubble in history, which, like any ponzi, has only two outcomes: it either keeps growing in perpetuity as greater fools crawl out of the woodwork to keep it growing, albeit at ever slower marginal rates (note, this did not work out too well for Madoff), or it eventually pops. And the longer it takes to pop, the greater the ultimate loss of value: one day Madoff’s business was worth $50 billion, the next day it was $0. And that is precisely the same fate that American capital markets will have at some point in the upcoming months or years. When future historians look back at what specific action caused the biggest crash in U.S. capital markets history, Mr. Geithner’s cataclysmally botched negotiation of the AIG counterparty bailout will undoubtedly be at the very top of the list. In the meantime, just like in the Madoff case where the trustee is trying hard to trace where any stolen money may have been transferred to, to see the fund flows in our ongoing “ponzi in progress”, look no further than the bank accounts of Goldman bankers as they receive their biggest ever bonus this year …

 

  • Relatedly, I’m a lot less bothered about Obama bowing to an Asian leader than I am about his bowing to Goldman Sachs.
  • Question of the day, from Michael Lind: Shouldn’t the government pledge allegiance to the people, rather than the other way around?
  • Nice punking of an anti-immigration crowd. Not-so-nice behavior of the cops on hand, who were shoving around nonviolent counterprotesters rather than the anti-immigration folks who started the fisticuffs.
  • Time to revoke David Broder’s membership in the Wise Old Mainstream Media Pundits’ Club: When you say it’s more important to do something, anything, now than to do the right thing, you’re reckless. When you say that about a decision over whether to start, or expand, a war of choice, you’re just batsh*t insane definitely not supporting the troops.
  • Faith may well complement competent psychiatric care, but it is no substitute, a fact that appears to have escaped the Department of Veterans Affairs. And this is just one facet, albeit a particularly annoying one, of the VA’s utter failure to cope competently with the mental-health problems of veterans of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. My senior senator, Richard Burr, ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and a guy with a DSCC bulls-eye on his back this election year, could do himself a lot of political good, in addition to doing a lot of real-world good for a lot of deserving people, if he just rode this issue like a beast across the plains of Mongolia.
  • And speaking of Richard Burr, call the WAAAAmbulance. Apparently, Senate Republicans are concerned that TV commercials about them supporting government contractors who let their employees get gang-raped may engender bad feelings against … um, well, the 30 Senate Republicans who supported government contractors who let their employees get gang-raped. (Here’s the one on Burr:)

Friday, November 13, 2009 8:49 pm

Odds and ends, Nov. 13

  • Typing Under Ladders: Today’s Friday the 13th. I have exactly no interesting Friday-the-13th stories to tell. To the extent that I can remember the dates at all, two of the unluckiest days of my life, one involving romantic failure and one involving serious physical injury, occurred on the 4th of a month.
  • Home Game: Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and four other accused planners of the 9/11 terror attacks will be tried in civilian federal court in New York, just blocks from Ground Zero. The wingnuts are soiling their drawers at the thought of terrorists (accused, but still) on U.S. soil. Me? I think the U.S. court system can handle the case and that the FBI and NYPD are more than up to handling the security. This ain’t, in other words, an issue over which I’m going to lose any sleep. Nor should you.
  • Bloviation By Other Means: I watched CNN’s Lou Dobbs only enough to determine that he was a pompous, phony ass upon whom none of my time should be wasted, and so I don’t care that he left CNN except that I think he’s planning to run for president. Or for governor of Alaska. Whichever.
  • Nice Guys: Married women who learn they have a serious illness are seven times as likely as married men to end up separated or divorced.
  • Back from the Dead: Under the guise of deficit reduction, the rich are coming after your Social Security again. Don’t let them get away with it.
  • Undessicated after all: You remember when we rammed our manly missile into the moon a few weeks ago? Turns out the moon was wet. All innuendo aside, while this doesn’t throw everything we thought we knew about the moon up for grabs, it changes quite a lot, including the consensus on whether there ever might have been life on the moon. Cool.
  • Double Standard: If pro-choice women are considered immoral for threatening to oppose any health-care reform that bans spending federal money on abortion, what does that make the Roman Catholic Church?
  • Delay, Deny & Hope That I Die: Why would Senate Republicans delay extending unemployment benefits for weeks and weeks, and then finally vote unanimously in favor of them? Because procedural rules made delay the functional equivalent of denial, so they could screw people and still look good as far as the voting record went. Bastards.
  • Listening to the People Who Were Right: Ten years ago, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., correctly told his colleagues that repealing the Glass-Steagall Act was a bad idea, one that within 10 years we would come to regret. So why is it that Byron Dorgan isn’t running all things financial in Washington today? Did you not just hear what I said? He correctly told his colleagues that repealing Glass-Steagall was a bad idea.
  • Cyber Pearl Harbor has already happened. Twice. Both times on George W. Bush’s watch, although so far as anyone can tell, it doesn’t look like Obama has learned anything from his predecessor’s mistakes.
  • I Believe the Technical Term for This Is “Fraud”: One reason Chrysler got a lot of taxpayer money was that it was going to produce greener cars. Only now that it has actually gotten the money, guess what it’s not doing?
  • Another Sin to Lay at the Feet (Tentacles?) of the Vampire Squid: Oh, nothing much, really. Just an oil scam. A $2.5 trillion oil scam.
  • Relatedly, and finally, Why Goldman Sachs Should be Broken Up, by, interestingly enough, Goldman Sachs.

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