Friday, June 1, 2012

Headlines - Friday June 1

CNNMoney: Student loan debt hit $904 billion in the first quarter of 2012, up from $241 billion a decade ago, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York quarterly household debt report. That's up 275% since the same period in 2003.
This is nuts. The cost of healthcare services is expected to rise 7.5 percent in 2013, more than three times the projected rates for inflation and economic growth, according to an industry research report released on Thursday.

But premiums for large employer-sponsored health plans could increase by only 5.5 percent as a result of company wellness programs and a growing trend toward plans that impose higher insurance costs on workers, said the report by the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC.

The projected growth rate of 7.5 percent for overall healthcare costs contrasts with expectations for growth of 2.4 percent in gross domestic product and a 2.0 percent rise in consumer prices during 2013, according to the latest Reuters economic survey.



TNC, reacting to the NY Times article the other day about Obama's wild escalation of drone strikes:

Has there ever been a point since America's inception when someone, somewhere, wasn't plotting our downfall? I have great difficulty perceiving a time when this won't be true. And so drone strategy comes to self-replicate. We bomb your village. You declare war on us for the bombing. We deem you a terrorist and bomb again. Rinse. Repeat.

The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant. That is an amazing standard that shares an ugly synergy with the sort of broad-swath logic that we see employed in Stop and Frisk, with NYPD national spy network, with the killer of Trayvon Martin.

Policy is informed by the morality of a country. I think the repercussions of this unending era of death by silver bird will be profound.

This is a real stain on Obama's legacy, sets a horrible precedent (I can't wait until we are drone striking right across the Mexican border), and is very revealing about the tribalism of politics in our nation. If Bush and Cheney had done this, more than just a few civil libertarians and random cranks like me would be screaming bloody murder.

Glenn Greenwald had a couple really good posts about this too.


Pastor Mack Wolford's death from a rattlesnake bite shows what would have happened if the Serpent had tempted Adam, instead of Eve.


The Bush portraits revealed

Chimpy McStagger looking neither preznintial or bright. So, good job!

I prefer these:


How Florida Governor Rick Scott Could Steal The Election For Mitt Romney


Catholic Cardinal Authorized $20K To Pay Off Pedophile Priests, Then Railed Against 'Immorality' Of Gay Marriage



Cattle farmers complained on Wednesday that a federal agency is "spying" (doing its job) on their operations by flying airplanes over Midwest cattle feedlots to see if they are complying with clean water regulations.


Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's No. 1 retailer and the biggest seller of firearms in the United States, is dropping out of a U.S. conservative advocacy group that has been a lightning rod over voting and gun laws.


Big Trouble! - Billionaire media mogul and senile coot Rupert Murdoch could have 500 MORE claims of phone hacking coming his way from the News of the World scandal.The highest amount he's paid out so far in damages to a single claimant is over $900,000. (TPM)


John Edwards got away with it

Somehow, a-holes always manage to get away with awful things.

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was found not guilty on one count in his campaign finance trial on Thursday, while a mistrial was declared on five other counts against the former Democratic presidential candidate.

Speaking before a pool of cameras outside a federal courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina, Edwards said the jurors took their job "very, very seriously."

"All I can say is thank goodness we live in a country that has the kind of system that we have," Edwards said.

Barf. He's still a crook and a d-bag.


When your candidate for president has etch-a-sketched his way into an entirely different person from the time he served as Governor, when he committed atrocities such as giving people healthcare, things like this happen.

The Rove-founded American Crossroads released a video this week that drew widespread media attention. It launched what is fast becoming a key GOP attack line: Questioning Obama's record on "public equity."

The video slammed Obama for investing government money in green energy companies like Solyndra, and losing it when the companies hit the skids. "Public equity President Obama — playing Wall Street games with our money," the vid intones.

It turns out, however, that one of the companies in the ad also received millions in government money from another administration: That of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.


And herein lies the problem for the Romney campaign in the 2012 election. They have to lie, because if they don't that would mean they have to run on the record as it stands. Otherwise they would have nothing to talk about. It's all negative all the time.

The Obama campaign does not have that problem. There are plenty of good things to run on. And unlike the lunatic base of the GOP, the Democratic base will not prevent President Obama from running on his genuine accomplishments.


Romney's necessary flip flopping

Did Republicans have no choice but to nominate a serial flip-flopper like Mitt Romney? Perhaps so.

David Karol has an interesting post at the Monkey Cage in which he argues that Romney's "very inconsistency was a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for his success in capturing his party's presidential nomination this year." But I think it goes further than Karol suggests. It's not just that Romney had to switch his positions to be a credible potential nominee. I would argue that any Republican presidential nominee today would have to be a serious flip-flopper.

And here is the reason.

The Republican Party has been moving to the right very quickly in recent years. Almost no one taking the stances that Romney is taking now could have been elected as a senator or a governor from most states just a few years ago. So, if you were consistently conservative (like, say, Bachmann or Santorum), you were either doomed to service in the House or to being kicked out of the Senate. If you had a presidential résumé, conversely, it was probably because your views were pretty moderate a few years ago. Arguably, the only person who can get nominated in the current Republican Party is someone who has pivoted to the right rapidly in the past decade. Rapid polarization makes flip-flopping a necessity.

If flip-flopping is the necessary trait for a nominee of a political party that has pulled a hard right in recent years, then a Mitt Romney would have to be created if he did not already exist. They would have to have put together a soulless creature that could effortlessly move from, "I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country" and "I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose" to "I am firmly pro-life" and "The right next step in the, in the fight to preserve the sanctity of life is to see Roe v. Wade overturned."

From "Look, I was an independent during the time of Reagan-Bush. I'm not trying to return to Reagan-Bush" to "The principles that Ronald Reagan espoused are as true today as they were when he spoke them."

From "Well, that's what we did in Massachusetts, and that is, we put together an exchange, and the president's copying that idea. I'm glad to hear that" to "Obamacare is bad news … and if I'm president of the United States I will repeal it."

From "I just signed a piece of legislation extending the ban on certain assault weapons" to "I do not support any new legislation of an assault weapon ban nature."

From "I'm not willing to sit back and say too bad for Michigan, too bad, too bad for the car industry" to "That's exactly what I said…. 'Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.'"

From "I think there is need for economic stimulus…" (2009) to "I have never supported the President's recovery act, all right, the stimulus, no time, nowhere, no how." (2011)

That is some serious flip-flopping and only possible from a man who at heart is a serial liar. But then again, in the immortal words of George Costanza, it's really not a lie if you believe it.



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