Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 6:49 pm

Sen. John McCain gets something right. Seriously.

Filed under: Evil,Hold! Them! Accountable! — Lex @ 6:49 pm
Tags: ,

McCain is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is expected to approve on Thursday a 6,000-page report on the Bush administration’s torture program. And McCain wants that report made public. His reasoning is that we didn’t get any useful information out of the torture program, in particular not any information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden. To me, that’s threading the needle a little too finely; the damn thing should be public because it’s about torture, hello? It should be made public because it’s about crimes committed by our government, not because of the utility, or lack thereof, of those crimes. But McCain, who hasn’t done much right lately, is, to his credit, on the right side of both morality and history on this one. I just hope his committee colleagues agree with him.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010 8:51 pm

Who is this guy, and what has he done with Glenn Beck?

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns!,Weird — Lex @ 8:51 pm
Tags: , ,

If you put Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Fox News talk-show host Glenn Beck in a room, who do you think will sound the most reasonable?

The answer might surprise you:

The morning after the arrest of 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad at John F. Kennedy airport on Monday evening, the usual suspects in the GOP took to print and the airwaves to whack away at the president and his top lawyer. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) mocked the idea that Attorney General Eric Holder might read the suspect [in this past weekend's failed Times Square car-bombing attempt] his Miranda rights or consider trying him in a civilian court.

“I hope that Holder did discuss this with the intelligence community. If they believe they got enough from him, how much more should they get? Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen but still,” King said.

Notorious for jumping into the political fray in the wake of attempted or successful terrorist acts, King was quickly joined in the ring by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who called the idea of reading Miranda rights a “serious mistake.” …

[But] the two lawmakers found themselves on the opposite end of the argument from no less a conservative voice than Beck.

“He is a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens,” the bombastic Fox News host said to the stunned co-hosts of “Fox and Friends”. “If you are a citizen, you obey the law and follow the Constitution. [Shahzad] has all the rights under the Constitution.”

“We don’t shred the Constitution when it is popular,” Beck added. “We do the right thing.”

Now, as it happens, the Constitution applies to citizens and noncitizens alike domestically. At least, the courts have said it is supposed to. But here are King and McCain, who consider themselves America-loving, pro-Constitution kinds of guys, being dopeslapped by Glenn Beck on a matter of constitutional law. Either we’re all the way through the looking glass, or King and McCain should just go crawl under a rock and hide in shame.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010 11:18 pm

Quick, let’s go to Arizona and start selling the Brooklyn Bridge …

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 11:18 pm
Tags: ,

… because Arizonans apparently will believe anything, including John McCain’s claim that he has never claimed to be a maverick.

Monday, March 22, 2010 10:03 pm

The perspective-impaired heard from

I supported the health-care reform bill, but only because the only other option on the table was the status quo. Every serious idea the Republicans have had in the last 20 years was already in the bill by the end of last year, and the corporate whores who control Congress — and, to be clear, I’m talking about Democrats here — refused even to consider single-payer and only kinda sorta pretended to consider a public option. So, no, I’m not jumping for joy that the bill passed because I realize we still have a long, hard slog ahead of us before we have a health-care system that’s both equitable and efficient.

Still, some of the opponents made such asses of themselves that it’s tempting to celebrate, and even to rub their faces in it, on the basis of the notion that if it enrages jackasses like them, then it’s probably much better than I think it is.

One such jackass calls himself “Confederate Yankee,” by which name I guess we’re supposed to assume that although born in the North, he supports secession. His idea of pithy political humor runs along the lines of, “Every time I try to watch Congress on TV, I soon find myself wishing a disgruntled JAL 747 pilot was nearby.” His assessment of Sunday’s vote is, “I stand by my comment that the Democrats who crammed this unwarranted bill down the throats of the American people who clearly and overwhelmingly opposed it deserve to be drawn and quartered.”

So, we’ve got a guy who is proud of wanting to not be an American. He thinks joking about a terrorist wiping out Congress is funny. He believes the bill, which was enacted by a majority vote of a duly elected Democratic majority in Congress, led by a president who campaigned specifically on health-care reform and won by one of the larger majorities in decades, was not only “unwarranted” (I’m not even sure what he means by that) but also “crammed down the throats of the American people,” by which I guess he must mean “enacted according to law and the Constitution after 15 months of vigorous public debate.”

(And forgive my Freudianism, but with regard to the whole drawn-and-quartered thing, what is it with wingnuts and male genitalia?)

Elections have consequences, as my fellow Republicans were kind enough to remind the country after they stole one, and this Republican, naturally seems to have conveniently forgotten that. Dude, you wanna secede? Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, because honestly? When it comes time to take care of the country’s serious business, pants-wetters like you are only going to get in the way.

But as bad as CY is, some of his commenters are positively drama queens. My favorite comment was from some guy calling himself “Odin’s Acolyte”: “We have a war now, should this become law. The little liberal weenies who have been crying about illegal wars over seas are about to have a real reason to cry. This shall not stand in my land. Never.”

So. Many. Targets.

So, OA, are you declaring war on the United States? Because if so, I’m pretty sure there’s a nice mesh cage in Gitmo with your name on it. I wish there weren’t, but unfortunately for you, son, I’m not the president.

“I’m gonna give you a real reason to cry.” What, are we 14 here? Or are you going to go around with your big manly-man firearm and start shooting random supporters of health-care reform? There’s a word for that, dear: terrorist.

“This shall not stand in my land.” Which land is that, dear? Marvel Comics Land?

“Ever”? As opposed to, like, next Tuesday?

(And forgive my Freudianism, but I simply must ask: “little weenies”? And what is it with wingnuts and things that “shall not stand”?)

UPDATE: Some 7-year-old shapeshifter has disguised himself as John McCain:

“There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year. They have poisoned the well in what they’ve done and how they’ve done it.”

Well, try as I might, I can’t find anything Freudian in that. (I must be slipping.) But I must say I’m very concerned about how the Democrats are going to get anything done once they have to give up all the John McCain’s Mighty Big Truckloads of Cooperation they’ve gotten so addicted to.

UPDATE: John Cole points out something very interesting about media coverage of McCain — something I bet wouldn’t be allowed if a Democrat in the minority in Congress had behaved this way:

What is amazing is that a Senator is openly saying “F— the nation’s business, we’re a bunch of kids,” and no one in the media will point out how worthless and childish the Republicans are. Even worse, no one is even surprised.

UPDATE: OK, one last bit (!) of Freudianism, but I’m just the delivery guy:

You can’t make this stuff up.

Monday, March 1, 2010 8:54 pm

Idiot/crook du jour: Trent Franks

If, like me, you’d never heard of him until a day or two ago, you need to know that Trent Franks 1) is a Republican congresscritter from Arizona; 2) believes that African Americans were better off under slavery than they are today; 3) is probably a crook; and 4) is supporting Sen. John McCain’s re-election bid against primary challenger (and fellow crook) J.D. Hayworth, most likely because McCain is keeping secret some records that likely could hurt him.

Because you can’t tell the players without a scorecard …

Thursday, December 31, 2009 2:13 am

Odds and ends for 12/31

Enough already: GMAC wants another $3-4 billion from the taxpayers. Just. Say. No.

Our arrogant national culture is letting our soldiers/marines die unnecessarily: “Indeed, off-the-shelf solutions [to military problems in Iraq and Afghanistan] were there for the asking within Coalition partner states, but no one asked.”

Some good news for a change:Q: Obama says America will go bankrupt if Congress doesn’t pass the health care bill. A: Well, it’s going to go bankrupt if they do pass the health care bill, too, but at least he’s thinking about it.” So we’ve got that going for us.

A question: If the guy accused of being the pants-on-fire would-be terrorist on Flight 253 is “cooperating” with investigators, as investigators say, then why are people calling for him to be tortured?

News flash: U.S. corporate governance sucks, at least at publicly held companies.

Another news flash: Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., send the president a letter asking him not to release six Guantanamo detainees to Yemen. Just one problem: too late. A big deal? Of course not. But imagine how this would have been played if three Democratic senators had done this with George W. Bush still in the White House.

The Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein, unlike McCain, Graham and Lieberman, is NOT too late. Not that it helps: Indeed, he warned us a year ago that Obama’s choice of Mary Schapiro to run the SEC would suck. And it has come to pass as it was foretold.

Well, at least we’re going to have a national election contested on a clear issue: Newt Gingrich has been calling on Republican Congressional candidates in 2010 to pledge to repeal health-care reform (should it finally pass) if elected. Now the White House is double-dog-daring them to do it, too.

How to keep your recently deregulated, greedy, rapacious, out-of-control industry from being intelligently re-regulated: First, get the majority party to assign a bunch of politically vulnerable rookies, who will therefore be desperate for lots and lots of re-election campaign cash, to the committee that oversees you.

Worst financial footnote of the year: By the time this post sees the Interwebz, results should be posted.

Dennis Kucinich may see flying saucers, but he also sees some incredibly bad policy (if not actual crime) and is calling it out.

From the banksters’ own fingers: Some internal AIG e-mails are finally being made public. We need many, many more, and we need many, many people to go through them looking for evidence of crime.

Sigh. More Calvinball*. Better journalists, please.

Newt’s getting predictable.

Memo to Andrew Sullivan: There’s a difference between accountability and kabuki, and John Cole, being smarter than you, explains the difference. Pay attention; this will be on the exam.

*Term explained here.

Monday, December 21, 2009 10:40 pm

Odds and ends for 12/21

Let God sort ‘em out: A new book makes both Bill Clinton and the FBI that went after him look bad.

Release the e-mails: There’s more to know about AIG before we let it off the taxpayers’ hook, and the taxpayers deserve to know it. (More interestting but depressing details here.)

Relatedly: How ’bout we claw back some of that taxpayer money that went through AIG to Goldman Sachs at 100 cents on the dollar, thankyouverymuch?? Goldman was pretty much the only bank in such dire straits at the time that didn’t end up settling for 10 to 13 cents on the dollar from AIG, and now it wants to take that tax money and pay it out in employee bonuses. Homey don’ play dat.

Another banking shock: What determines how suitable a bank is for a federal bailout? Size? Nature of its business? Try … wait for it … political ties to the Federal Reserve. Yup, and there’s gambling going on in this casino, too. So can we just audit the damn thing already?

Decade of (self-) deception: Farewell to the ’00s, in which we begged to be suckered and found no shortage of those eager to accommodate us, from “compassionate conservatism” and Enron to Goldman Sachs and Tiger Woods. One other parallel: None of the hucksters, besides maybe Ken Lay, has been held accountable.

Democrats throwing women under the bus. Again: Tbogg on Twitter, for the win: “Bart Stupak will not be happy until he has had a close personal relationship with more vaginas than Tiger Woods.”

Boulevard of broken dreams promises: Jon Walker walks us past the mileposts of broken Obama campaign promises that constitute the current Senate version of health-care reform.

He just can’t quit you: Jon Walker, who apparently has no commitments in life besides health care reform, offers 35 ways to fix the current Senate bill. I’d say it’s unlikely at best that more than one or two will happen, and quite possibly none of them will. But if nothing else, this is a good road map of the kind of crappy legislation that comes out of unified GOP opposition and an undemocratic Senate hidebound by the filibuster.

Speaking of the filibuster, here’s some interesting background on how its use has grown of late. Memo to the mainstream media: Guilt is not equitably distributable.

Ask and ye shall receive: LA Times blogger Andrew Malcolm wants a caption for this picture. OK, here’s mine: “Andrew Malcolm is such an idiot that I could grab his head and smash it into this table like this and the experience would actually make him smarter.”

Memo to Ceci Connolly: Defining being “smart” in Washington as “disagreeing with what two-thirds of the country wants” doesn’t make you look, well, smart.

Related: Time was, and not all that long ago, a David Broder column, whether you agreed with it or not, would be undergirded by some reporting. Now, not so much. (Besides which, on the substance, what appears to be surprising him is that Congressional Democrats are opposing something that Obama himself opposed. This is wrong, or surprising, or even news, how, exactly?)

John McCain fought Teh Stoopid and Teh Stoopid won: He goes on the teevee to claim, laughably, that Ted Kennedy wouldn’t have liked that health-care reform passed on a partisan vote. He crowns that particularly serving of Teh Stoopid topped with whipped Teh Stoopid with this maraschino Teh Stoopid: “There has never been a major reform accomplished in the history of this country that wasn’t bipartisan.” Uh, John, that’s because there has never before been a major reform that one party unanimously rejected purely on partisan grounds.

Top 10 reasons to kill the Senate health-care bill, from Firedoglake, with background links on each. I don’t know whether the bill should be killed, but I do know there are a lot of things about it I absolutely do not like. (One “bug,” starting the taxes before the benefits take effect, could be sold as a way of reducing the deficit. But I’m unsure of the exact math over the long haul, and whether you choose to look at that item as a bug or a feature, I don’t think it makes much difference in the big picture.)

How I would decide on whether or not to pass the health-care bill (Senate version), if I had a vote: Which saves more lives, passing it or killing it? And by killing it, I mean, “killing it,” not, “killing it and immediately passing some fantasy better version that in the real world may or may not ever happen within my lifetime.” Anyone with a documentable answer to this question is welcome to weigh in.

Conservative of the year: Human Events picks Dick Cheney, although, as more than one pundit has pointed out, the actual, substantial policy differences between Cheney and, say, Barack Obama on foreign-policy and civil-liberties issues are much less than meets the eye.

Kentucky legislator wants to prosecute mothers of alcohol- and drug-addicted newborns: Because treating addicts like criminals instead of people with health problems has done so much to reduce addiction over the years.

Gathering storm: The “shadow pool,” the nation’s pool of homes that haven’t yet gone on the market but are about to because of delinquency/foreclosure, has increased more than 50% in just one year, to about 1.7 million. A lot of those homes are or will be vacant, which spells trouble for their neighbors, too.

Some good news for a change: Obama signed the military appropriations bill, which is good because it contained Al Franken’s amendment barring contractors from forcing employees into arbitration when they get raped. Which, in turn, is good not only for those employees but also because it gives candidates who give a damn about rape victims, be they competing in the GOP primary or in the general election, a big ol’ hammer with which to hit the 40 current incumbent Republican senators over the head.

And more good news: The signed consolidated appropriations bill DIDN’T ban federal funding for needle-exchange programs, the first such bill since 1988. Now that a smidgen of common sense has crept into the War on Some Drugs, expect the end of the world before lunchtime tomorrow.

I don’t know who Drew Westen is, and I don’t know if he’s right. But I do know that his perceptions are remarkably similar to mine.

Thumbsucker: Long journalism pieces that raise lots of Big, Serious Questions — often without offering answers, sometimes because no answers can be found — are known in the journalism biz as “thumbsuckers.” In the era of dying print and shorter attention spans, thumbsuckers are a dying breed, in part because the form is attempted far more often than it is mastered. But here’s a good one, asking whether the GOP has any relevant ideas to contribute to discussion of some of the biggest issues that face us. (My short answer: Yes, but to find them you’ll have to listen to the party members who, right now, aren’t doing most of the talking the public hears.)

Quote of the day, by Jonathan Chait of The New Republic in the thumbsucker linked above: “If government intervention appears to be the answer, [Republicans] must change the question.”

Thursday, December 17, 2009 11:36 pm

Odds and ends for 12/17

All your drones are belong to us: A readily available, $26 piece of software has allowed Iraqi insurgents to intercept video from U.S. Predator drones. The government has known about this flaw since the weapons’ use in the Balkans in the 1990s but never did anything about it because it “assumed local adversaries wouldn’t know how to exploit it.” As Attackerman (h/t) comments, “Arrogance like this gets people killed.”

All our money are belong to the devil, so send us yours: Televangelist Rod Parsley’s Web site sets a Dec. 31 deadline for contributions and urges, “Will you help take back what the devil stole?” The ministry is in financial trouble primarily because it had to pay a $3.1 million judgment to the parents of a 2-year-old whom a teacher at the ministry severely beat.

Bill Gates sez, “Go ahead, make my day tax my estate!”: The Microsoft founder says we shouldn’t let the estate tax expire. I agree with him. Raise the cap, sure. Index for inflation, of course. But scrap? Nuh-uh.

Relatedly, if you have both money and heirs (Hi, Mom!), you might not sleep very well next year.

Wall Street is killing health care: That’s what taking your company public will do. (Previously.) Just ask the newspaper industry.

Odd couple: Sens. John McCain and Maria Cantwell have jointly introduced legislation to reimpose Glass-Steagall standards on banks. Comments HuffPo’s Jason Linkins: “Give McCain and Cantwell a big round of applause for their effort, because in Washington, this seemingly obvious response to the financial crisis is considered the domain of wild-eyed hippies (and Paul Volcker).”

Which raises a damn good question: Why, in Washington, has the obvious become the domain only of wild-eyed hippies and Paul Volcker, and not of the “serious” politicians/bureaucrats/journalists?

Worthwhile related point: Byron Dorgan warned us at the time that within 10 years we’d be sorry we repealed Glass-Steagall. BZZZT! Wrong! We were sorry within nine years.

Speaking of banksters, looks like Ben Bernanke is going to get reconfirmed. Which would be fine if, like a large majority of the American public, he gave the first damn about putting people back to work. But he doesn’t. Memo to Congressional Democrats: You can steal this issue from the Tea Party, or you can let the Tea Party steal your Congressional seats from you. Your call.

On the bright side, for Democrats and the jobless: A $154 billion economic-stimulus bill passed the House … without a single Republican vote. I’m a longtime deficit hawk, but part of the reason that I am is that I understand that there are times when only fiscal policy can jump-start the economy. So you have to balance the budget or run a surplus in good times to be in position to spend in bad times. And as I’ve said before, the biggest problem of the earlier stimulus package was that even at $787 billion, it was only about half as big as it needed to be (second biggest problem was it relied too heavily on tax cuts, not enough on direct spending).

Here are three more questions to be asked about health-care reform, based on public pledges Obama has made in the past. No one who wanted reform in any form or fashion is going to like the answers. Actually, this piece was so good that I’m going to deviate from standard Odds & Ends formatting and quote from it at some length:

I’ll be evaluating the bill according to three principles:

1. When this plan goes into effect, will it bring an end to the battles that health insurance consumers must wage to retain their coverage, or will the practice of rescission continue?

2. When this plan goes into effect, will it bring an end to the long-term, intractable debt that millions of hard-working Americans incur, simply because they get sick, get injured and grow old?

3. When this bill is signed into law, will Obama truly be in the position to say he’ll be the last president to “take up the cause,” or will it be obvious that we’ve only kicked the can down the road, and that more needs to be done?

In truth, the way I see things shaping up, I don’t believe that the eventual reform legislation will achieve any of these things. At the same time, I think that if it makes it to Obama’s desk, he’s going to sign it. But, pursuant to the cause of Not Kidding Ourselves, he’d better not call it a victory.

Sounds about right.

Is the Senate health-care bill comparable to the (successful) Dutch health-care system?: No, not really.

Republicans are crawling back toward sanity: Yesterday, Laura Ingraham was likening health-care reform to the Holocaust. Today, Miss. Gov. Haley Barbour is saying it’s only as bad as Jonestown. Whew. I was really afraid they were going off the deep end.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009 8:54 pm

Odds and ends for 10/27

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 10:46 pm

More odds and ends

  • The Galleon insider-trading case, in which billionaire Raj Rajaratnam was charged and the securities-rating firm Moody’s was implicated? Has been assigned to Judge Jed Rakoff. Yeah, this Jed Rakoff. (I hope the judge is taking extremely good care of his health, if you know what I mean, because he is making life intolerable for some very, very wealthy and powerful people.)
  • Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who got us both into and out of the ’81-’82 recession, thinks we need to kind of restore the Glass-Steagall Act, which kept commercial banks from doing investments (and being dragged under when those investments went south) before its 1999 repeal. But he’s having trouble selling that idea to all the Goldman Sachs alumni on Team Obama.
  • If this hearing in fact happens tomorrow — I read or heard somewhere it could get delayed — it could get real ugly real fast for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Hell, it might even get ugly for current Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. I’d be OK with any and/or all suffering some consequences, because you don’t have to be a Harvard MBA to know Bank of America shareholders got screwed.
  • Speaking of Hank Paulson, turns out that while he was still secretary, he met in Moscow with the board of Goldman Sachs. But nothing improper happened. Really. Move along; nothing to see here. These are not the droids banksters you’re looking for.
  • Dana Perino, concern troll. Memo: advice on how to conduct yourself from a PR standpoint from someone who used to take money to call people traitors and supporters of terrorists is probably not worth what you’re paying for it.
  • Shorter Congressman Jeb Hanserling (R-Texas): I’m here to protect banks; screw the consumers.
  • Another Republican, this time John McCain, thinks another earmark, this one $325,000 for earthquake study in Memphis, is a waste of money, and once again is wrong. Three words: New Madrid Fault.
  • Shorter Timothy Noah: Whatever happened to, you know, reporting?; or, The public option was always popular, you morons — you just pretended otherwise or weren’t paying attention.
  • More Noah, because this is just so good and so true: “Political reporters are momentum junkies, forever plotting out momentary trends to infinity. If they were meteorologists, they’d interpret 90-degree temperatures in July to predict 160-degree temperatures in December.”
  • John Cole righteously dopeslaps neocon pinhead Pete Wehner.
  • Sure, Sarah Palin’s $29 book can become a bestseller — when you sell it for $9 or give it away with a magazine subscription.
  • The Bush and Obama administrations actually threatened not to share intelligence with the U.K. if it released evidence of our torture of a guy named Binyam Mohammed. (Yeah, let’s stop sharing info with our oldest and most trusted ally. Genius.) Fortunately, Britain’s highest court is calling their bluff.
  • The maker of Tasers, which has long claimed that Tasers aren’t lethal, now concedes that they might be, potentially, well, a little bit, um, lethal. I’m guessing someone finally talked to their lawyer and figured that just maybe they might want to do a little butt-covering.
  • Socialism … and its potential benefits.
  • OTOH, let’s foster competition and innovation, not hinder it.

Finally, a bit of a health-care roundup:

  • The House Judiciary Committee voted 20-9 today to strip the health-insurance industry of its federal antitrust exemption. This is such a good idea that three Republicans even went along with it. I dearly hope my own representative, Howard Coble, was one of them. (thomas.loc.gov hasn’t been updated yet so I don’t know.)
  • You can too get a hip replacement under the Canadian health-care system even if you’re of retirement age. Ignore the urban legends/propaganda.
  • Sen. Richard Burr’s health-care reform plan: fail. Not epic fail, not actual sabotage of what the bill purports to support, but also not enough recognition of certain economic and financial realities.
  • Expand Medicare to include — well, anyone who wants in? That’s a public option even some Blue Dogs can believe in.
  • And even if we choose a real public option, the Congressional Budget Office says it won’t cost as much as opponents have been claiming.
  • Apparently, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter had no idea that some people were unable to start their own businesses, or stuck in jobs they hate or aren’t suited for, because they can’t afford the health insurance costs they’d have to pay if they made those moves. I mean, c’mon, how imaginative do you have to be before that possibility occurs to you?
  • Last but not least, Al Franken humbles a Hudson Institute hack on health-care finance:


Senator Al Franken: I think we disagree on whether or not the healthcare reform we’re talking about now in Congress should pass. And you said that, kind of the way we’re going will increase bankruptcies. I want to ask you, how many bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?

Diana Furchtgott-Roth: I don’t have that number in front of me but I could find out and get back to you.

Franken: I can tell you how many it was. It’s zero. Do you know how many medical bankruptcies there were last year in France?

Furchtgott-Roth: I don’t have that number but I can get back to you if you like.

Franken: The number is zero.
…

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