Fox News: Stayin’ KKKlassy After All These Years

by matttbastard

Wow. So, um, THAT’S what Brian KKKilmeade is like when he’s not flouncing off the Fox & Friends set. (“Other species?”  Buh?!)

h/t Patti Digh (via  The War Room)

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Al Franken’s Supreme Affirmation

by matttbastard

(Image: Al Franken for Senate)

Speaking as a long time SNL fan, I think it’s absolutely fabulous to see that the Minnesota State Supreme Court believes Al Franken is good enough and smart enough to represent the state as its junior Senator. Because, doggone it, people like him more than Norm Coleman (by a final margin of 312 votes).

Chris Cillizza notes that despite Franken’s celebrity pedigree (which, as Cillizza points out, helped swell Franken’s coffers throughout the campaign and subsequent legal battle with Coleman), the former writer/comedian cannily avoided the public eye while lawyers tussled–except to play the role of statesman :

When the race ended in a tie, Franken did something very smart; he stayed out of the spotlight. He was rarely seen or heard and when he did pop into public view it was during an occasional visit to Washington when he was huddling with potential colleagues and getting briefed on issues by potential staffers — in short, acting like a senator. He gave Republicans nothing to use to sow doubts about whether he was ready for the office to which he was headed. While Franken’s personal discipline did little to effect the legal outcome, it played a critical part in slowly but surely securing public support behind the idea that not only had he won but that he was ready to be a senator.

Also, many thanks to the beltway bullshit shovellers at Politico for once again picking up the trusty steno pads to help their GOP patrons explain how an historic victory for the Democratic party is–wait for it–actually good news for Republicans (ZOMG NO WAIS!):

Franken’s upcoming seating will give Democrats their biggest majority in the Senate in a generation, ensuring their party holds a 60-40 majority – enough to quash GOP filibusters if they stay united.

And with that, some Republicans see an ironic silver lining – Democrats have nobody else to blame if their agenda falls short even though that will be tough with an ideologically diverse caucus and the absences of Sens. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who have been sidelined by illnesses. GOP strategists say it will solidify their argument heading into the 2010 elections that electing more Republicans would be a critical check on one-party dominance in Washington.

“The implications of this Senate race are particularly significant because the Democrats will now have 60 votes in the Senate,” said Sen. John Cornyn, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “With their supermajority, the era of excuses and finger-pointing is now over.”

The more things change…(oh teh irony, indeed)

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The Last Word on Sonia Sotomayor’s ‘Character Problem’

by matttbastard

NPR:

The subject of the Supreme Court nominee’s judicial temperament has so far been raised by just one senator, Lindsay Graham (R-SC).

“There’s a character problem; there’s a temperament problem,” says Graham.

Referring to the comments in the Almanac, Graham went on:

“I just don’t like bully judges,” Graham says. “There are some judges that have an edge, that do not wear the robe well. I don’t like that. From what I can tell of her temperament and demeanor, she seems to be a very nice person. [Supreme Court Justice Antonin] Scalia is no shrinking violet. He’s tough, but there’s a difference between being tough and a bully.”

Indeed. A big difference (ok, not necessarily big, but…):

Judge Guido Calabresi, former Yale Law School dean and Sotomayor’s mentor, now says that when Sotomayor first joined the Court of Appeals, he began hearing rumors that she was overly aggressive, and he started keeping track, comparing the substance and tone of her questions with those of his male colleagues and his own questions.

“And I must say I found no difference at all. So I concluded that all that was going on was that there were some male lawyers who couldn’t stand being questioned toughly by a woman,” Calabresi says. “It was sexism in its most obvious form.”

‘Nuff said.

h/t Ann Friedman via Twitter.

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Bachmann: Obama’s policies ‘fitting’ future generations with ‘shackles and chains.’

by matttbastard

Get it? Nudge nudge, wink wink?

Oh teh irony, indeed, Michele (also, FAIL.)

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If You Kids Don’t Shut Up I’m Gonna Turn This Plane RIGHT Around!

by matttbastard

Via Jay Rosen (by way of Sarah), I see that the Villagers are still primarily concerned with the circumference of their navels (which also corresponds with the breadth and depth of their shallow egos):

The standard form during “joint press availabilities” — bureaucratic lingo for press conferences where leaders from two different countries stand next to each other and take questions from reporters — is that each official’s press corps gets the same number of questions.

Well, during the joint press availability on Wednesday with Mr. Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the ornate British foreign office near 10 Downing Street, Mr. Brown called on the U.K. press corps for four whole questions. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama only called on the White House press corps, which schlepped (granted, on a really nice United 777 charter) across the Atlantic to scrupulously chronicle his first overseas trip as president, thrice.

Mr. Obama even tried to cut off the press conference after six questions had been asked—most dealing with the growing rift between the United States and the rest of the world over how to fix the global economy. “All right?” he asked, in an “O.K.-we’re-done-I’m-outta-here” way.

Because of this unforgivable slight, Helene Cooper wonders if Obama is trying to ‘muzzle’ the White House press corps (and pines for the good ol’ days of Condie Rice–OMG SHOEZ!) Seriously, what the hell happened to Cooper? When did she morph into the quintessential whiny-ass titty baby?

“Waaah Obama isn’t bein’ nice to us. MOOOM!”

Apparently the brats in the beltway need fresh binkies to suck on.

You know, it says a lot that, during a time of global economic upheaval and uncertainty, a member of the White House press corps earnestly believes that not getting asked an extra question by the POTUS at an international presser is a matter of grave import.  One would hope that Cooper would take some heat from her colleagues for her demonstrative outburst. Alas, they were likely cheering her on from the sidelines, shouting ‘YEAH! TRUTH TO POWER!’

Because, sadly, the Villagers live in an isolated upper-middle class bubble, sequestered away from the rest of the nation (and its petty problems) in an insular gated community filled with an endless parade of cocktail parties and trivial sniping.  To the average Washington correspondent, meeting with the Great Unwashed is presented as an exercise in cultural anthropology, eg, John King’s Sunday morning diner round-tables with Real Americans (if you cut them, they BLEED! I know, crazy!) At this point, it’s all too clear that they are essentially writing for each other; the conversation is entirely circular, even if the 4th estate have deluded themselves into believing that the general public actually gives a rat’s ass about Ed Henry’s game day ritual.

Yeah, politics is all just a fucking game to them. Winners and losers, gaffes and ‘body blows’–political journalism as play-by-play sportscasting. Which is why, in this context, it is perfectly natural for Helene Cooper to be (passive-aggressively) “keeping score.”

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F*ck Me with a Freshly Sharpened Pitchfork.

by matttbastard

Update 03/23: Make sure to check out Sarah’s post on Spitzer, populism, and The Experts.

On today’s episode of Fareed Zakaria GPS, an ‘expert panel’ was convened to discuss ‘populist’ outrage in the wake of AIG and other recent scandals related to the global economic crisis. Via email, I bet Sarah a dinner at IHOP (because we be keepin’ it real like that in this economy) that the ‘expert panel’ would be tilted towards the Washington media elite–y’know, Broder,  Friedman, maybe some latte-sipping ‘even the’ liberal from TNR.  Sarah very astutely declined to take me up on that bet.

Good thing, too–I knew it was going to be bad, but this so-called ‘expert panel’ went beyond even the previously charted borders of EPIC ESTABLISHMENT FAIL .

I mean, was that ‘expert panel’ on ‘populist rage’ a joke?  Let’s see: a glibertarian blogger, a former Goldman Sachs greed peddler, and a tainted ex-Merril Lynch exec.

Seriously?

How about next time try featuring some actual, y’know, populists–labour reps, or writers like Barbara Ehrenreich or Bill Fletcher, Jr–people who aren’t stuck in the bubble of establishment Washington, who don’t purse their lips at such vulgar concepts as ‘populism’,  ‘nationalization’ or even (gasp!) ‘socialism.’   Or, as Sarah suggested, someone like our homie Erik Loomis, a Gilded Age historian whose focus is labor history and has studied in depth populist movements in the US. In other words, REAL experts on the matter of ‘populist rage’, not smug apologists for the very system that has PROVOKED the white-hot ire of the general public.

At the end of the segment, Zakaria guilelessly requested that viewers write in if they felt the panel didn’t contain enough populist outrage “and we’ll see what we can do to correct that”. Dude, there was NO populist outrage–period.  Jesus fucking wept — talk about a glib cocktail party sneer from the woefully-out-of-touch establishment.

Pitchforks. Pikes. Tumbrils.

Take action: Contact Fareed Zakaria GPS and (politely but firmly) let them know that you want to see REAL experts on populism represented in any purportedly ‘expert’ panel.

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Adding Pikes and Tumbrils to the Populist Arsenal

by matttbastard

Hilzoy sharpens her pitchfork (what? Hil so owns a pitchfork — and, from what I’ve heard, has quite the loverly garden) and pins the AIG bonus issue–and out-of-touch Wall Street execs—to the wall:

[T]he real issue isn’t bonuses. It’s your compensation, period. It’s the fact that, after doing your very best to wreck the world economy, you regard yourselves as entitled to levels of compensation that people who actually make things can only fantasize about. The bonus part is just the icing on the cake.

Oddly, though, the idea that bonuses have something to do with performance isn’t limited to us outsiders. The WSJ article also contains this gem:

“Under the forthcoming rules, bonuses could come to no more than one-third of the total annual compensation paid to employees covered by the restrictions. Some compensation experts view the bonus limits as a mistake that turns the notion of pay for performance on its head, despite Wall Street’s culpability for the recession and credit crisis.”

Oh noes! We can’t have the notion of pay for performance turned on its head! Not on Wall Street!

[…]

As someone who thinks that levels of compensation in the US are absurdly unequal, and that this is bad for the country, it’s tempting to say: oh, go ahead, you idiots. Keep your sense of entitlement to other people’s money. Make people come after you with pikes and tumbrils. See if I care.

The thing is, I don’t think that rage normally leads to good policy. (Though, as I’ve said before, I really believe that it would help a lot with moral hazard if people found the experience of having the government bail out their firms profoundly unpleasant.) And I’m sure that my inner policy wonk will shortly regain control. Still, at the moment, it’s awfully tempting. I think of people I’ve known who have worked hard all their lives for not very much money, only to be completely bankrupted by unforeseen medical catastrophes, and I imagine these people being asked to support investment bankers in the style to which they have become accustomed, and fury feels like exactly the right response.”

Here’s hoping Hil’s inner policy wonk doesn’t regain control any time soon — she definitely needs to include the phrase “pikes and tumbrils” in more posts.

h/t Sarah (who has a must-read piece over at GC on growing public fury with AIG –GO!!!)

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Stephen Harper on Canada’s Economy: Catch the Wave!

by matttbastard

Uncle Steve is looking onward and upward:

Faced with complaints he wasn’t doing enough to soothe a nervous nation, Harper offered a detailed, if unemotional, dissertation on the economy.

“For Canada, this crisis does offer opportunity,” Harper told more than 400 people at a joint gathering of the Brampton and Mississauga boards of trade.

“Ultimately, it is an opportunity to position ourselves so that when the economic recovery comes, we’re among the first to catch the wave.”

The Prime Minister said that the government, though projecting a budget deficit for the next few years, is in the best financial shape of all G7 governments.

Harper noted that while Canada’s economy shrank at a 3.4 per cent annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2008, it was half the decline experienced by the United States and Europe, and only a quarter of the devastating drop in Japan.

He said Canada’s stable banking system, low debt, low inflation rate and skilled workforce puts the country in a position of “significant comparative strength” to ride out the downturn.

“I say to you, as business people, as community builders, as citizens, if there ever was a time to put away that legendary Canadian modesty, it is now,” Harper said to applause.

Alas, the facts (yeah, those pesky things) belie Harper’s feigned deadpan optimism:

The parliamentary budget officer says the Canadian economy is doing even worse than published figures would suggest.

Kevin Page says in a new assessment of the economy that last quarter’s 3.4 per cent contraction in gross domestic product doesn’t begin to reflect how far Canada’s performance has fallen.

He says an even better indicator is gross domestic income, which measures Canadians’ purchasing power, and that shows a plunge of 15.3 per cent in the fourth quarter over the previous three months.

Oh, and about that 3.4 per cent figure so heartily humped by the PM?

The report says even the often-cited GDP figures which finds the U.S. economy shrinking by 6.2 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to Canada’s 3.4 per cent are misleading.

Those are annualized figures, Page notes, adding that compared to a year ago, Canada’s GDP is down 0.7 per cent and the U.S. by 0.8 per cent, almost identical records.

Yeah.

Almost identical.

Don’t opportunistically and immodestly grab your surfboards just yet, kids — the wave of economic recovery is likely to crash long before it crests.

Related: Michael Ignatieff: The Harvey Dent of Canadian politics.

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Losing the Forest Behind the Trees

by matttbastard

Via Memeorandum, some of the other progressive bloggers highlighting McHenry’s statement seem to be primarily concerned with how the Dem0cratic leadership in Congress can use the GOP’s apparent lack of ‘discipline’ to partisan advantage. Yeah, um, so what does the obstruction uber alles strategy mean for the economic health of the fucking nation and world, to ordinary people worried about the future?

We’re talking 4.4 million US jobs lost since the recession began (with more losses almost guaranteed to occur), further bank failures, potential state government bankruptcies. And yet it’s still all about scoring points and the perpetual fucking horse race?

Really?

This isn’t a fucking game; this is class warfare, kids.

Sharpen the goddamn fucking pitchforks.

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