Saturday, February 07, 2009

Quote of the Day II: Krugman on the Senate centrists and the stimulus bill

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"[T]o appease the centrists, a plan that was already too small and too focused on ineffective tax cuts has been made significantly smaller, and even more focused on tax cuts."

-- Paul Krugman

Way to go, Dems, way to go. The Republicans and the media deserve much of the blame, but, with the president and control of both houses of Congress, this is what you've come up with, this is what you've agreed to, this is what you think will pull the economy back from the brink of the abyss and help the American people get through this historic crisis?

Now the centrists have shaved off $86 billion in spending -- much of it among the most effective and most needed parts of the plan... My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years.

Terrible, terrible, terrible.

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Quote of the Day

By Creature

"They could have saved a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of jobs with more forethought in the fall." -- Steve Benen, commenting on the Republican's (and, in turn, America's) lost opportunity to stimulate the economy last year when it would have cost a whole lot less and been a whole lot more effective. Forethought, or thought generally, is not something Republicans do well.

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Bipartisanship for bipartisanship's sake makes for poor economic policy

By LindaBeth

Is anyone else sick of the bipartisanship overkill? Sure, bipartisanship is a nice idea. But the economy is falling apart--fast. The stimulus bill needs to actually stimulate; a half-assed job is not good enough. Including non-stimulating or less-stimulating items (i.e. a lot of tax cuts) . Wrong policy for the sake of bipartisanship is not going to fix our economy. And it puts the Republicans in the position to be able to blame the Democrats and Obama when/if it doesn't work like it ought to--enabling them to claim that there is too much spending, when in reality, there are too much tax cuts and not enough spending.

You know what else I'm sick of? The Republicans saying (complaining and whining, really) that the bill isn't bipartisan and that it doesn't have enough of what they want (is this an attempt of tyranny of the minority?). Bullshit. There is a better than 60/40 split between spending and tax cuts. Just because the bill is not being supported in a bipartisan fashion doesn't mean the bill isn't itself inclusive of both Democratic and Republican economic approaches. The Republicans are digging in their heels and claiming a lack of bipartisanship. No, it's not really bipartisan--is anyone claiming it actually is?--because the Republicans refuse to vote for it despite efforts by the Democrats and the White House to include the Republican one-solution-fits-all of tax cuts. As Rachel Maddow noted in her show yesterday, the compromise by the bipartisan group of Senate moderates has approximately the same ratio of spending: tax cuts and there are Senate Democrats: Republicans. It seems as though the Republicans will only call this bill bipartisan when tax cuts dominate and spending is minimal; in other words, when it becomes absolutely partisan in their favor. Seriously, they are whining that it's not being done the way their ideology demands, despite the slew of economic experts who disagree, but why should they get their way when they're wrong and they lost.

So the Republicans are complaining that their ideology does not dominate the bill, and are making a big deal out of the fact that the bill is not bipartisan (because Republicans won't vote for it). This is despite the slew of concessions to them that will do little for economic stimulus--and despite the fact that regardless of Republican support, the bill itself is technically ideologically bipartisan. But who cares? Seriously. McCain's arrogant "I've done bipartisanship, and this isn't it" is frankly, beside the point. Do we want bipartisanship, or do we want a bill that will work? Why is bipartisanship the standard of whether or not this is a good bill anyway? Bipartisanship in the midst of an economic crisis is at the very least overrated when one side is just plain wrong; at the very most, it's dangerous to our economic survival. This soap-box statement by Maddow on Friday's show does a great job of calling bullshit on Republican's ideology which would flunk them out of Econ 101 (it's well worth the 8 minutes):

I don't understand the value of including so much tax cuts to appease the Republicans when it will have so little economic impact, simply for the sake of a bipartisan bill that isn't being supported in a bipartisan fashion anyway. And I'm really really frustrated at the perpetuation of economic falsehoods by the Republicans and the media covering them. Maddow says it brilliantly: we need to start "privileging correct information over incorrect information [...] if you are wrong from here on out, you should lose the argument, and you should lose your political potency." I have to wonder: as the economy is crumbling, why, oh why, are Americans continuing to embrace anti-intellectualism? The Republican heel-dragging, falsehood spreading is pure politics: our economic policy is suffering at the expense of political policy. The Republicans are playing politics with our country's immanent future and I've seriously had it.

I grabbed this chart from Moody's

Note the difference in economic impact for tax cuts vs. infrastructure spending and increases in welfare spending. Giving money to low income folk is almost guaranteed to be spent; giving money to upper class folk, and even middle folk is likely to be saved or used to pay down debt. And that's nice and good, but it won't provide the stimulus we need, which requires spending, and it is effectively done by giving it to those who are certain to spend it (i.e. poor and working class) and by giving people incomes so they have the security to spend. Why isn't this front page news, juxtaposed next to Republican's looney economic-speak?

No, the media sure isn't helping; they have bought into the Republican spin that spending and stimulus are opposites. Seriously, between the Republican's screwy economics and the mainstream media regurgitating their ideology, the folks talking to the American people about the merits of the stimulus are economics idiots. From Media Matters:

Economist Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, explains: "Spending that is not stimulus is like cash that is not money. Spending is stimulus, spending is stimulus. Any spending will generate jobs. It is that simple. ... Any reporter who does not understand this fact has no business reporting on the economy." (emphasis mine)

Kudos to Steven Pearlstein, who in Friday's Washington post said:

Spending is stimulus, no matter what it's for and who does it. The best spending is that which creates jobs and economic activity now, has big payoffs later and disappears from future budgets.

Bipartisanship in this ideological war is not a good thing. As reported by the
Daily Kos:

Krugman added, “This is the kind of situation where you try to build a bridge across an economic chasm and if you build half a bridge it doesn’t work.”

This can't half-work. Somehow, some way, facts and correctness need to triumph over ideology. The media needs to do its job and not be a mouthpiece for the Republican spin machine. Considering the anti-intellectualism and anti-elitism that pervaded the election, I cynically wonder if "privileging correct information over incorrect information" is even too much to ask.

(Cross-posted to Speak Truth to Power)

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You'll thank us

By Mustang Bobby.

True to form, the Republicans are objecting to the idea of capping the salaries of executives that get federal bailout money.

"Because of [the executives'] excesses, very bad things begin to happen, like the United States government telling a company what it can pay its employees. That's not a good thing in America," Kyl told the Huffington Post.

"What executives have done is troubling, but it's equally troubling to have government telling shareholders how much they can pay the executives," said Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL).

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said that he is "one of the chief defenders of Obama on the Republican side," but "as I was listening to him make those statements [about executive pay], I thought, is this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?"

Look at it this way, fat cats: without all those millions of dollars, you won't be tempted to invest it with people like Bernard Madoff.

You're welcome.

H/T to Boatboy.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Friday, February 06, 2009

The Reaction in Review (Feb. 6, 2009)

A week's Reactions that deserve a second look:


By non sequitur: "Not quite the scandal I was expecting" -- A fascinating look behind Vladimir Putin's recreational Russian quirkiness.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Iraqi election results confirm sectarian divides" -- Michael provides an excellent election analysis foreseeing continuing tensions between Sunni and Shiia.

By Capt. Fogg: "Death and foxes" -- Fogg skewers Fox News' profits and Rupert Murdoch, concluding pungently, "America is failing and Fox News is why."


By Edward Copeland: "BREAKING NEWS: Why this election was crucial" -- Noting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's recurrent cancer, Edward reminds us that the Supreme Court will inevitable change.

By Carl: "Bailouts and stimulus" -- What would we do without Carl's wonderful primers on finance; read this and finally understand some of the intricacies of the banking system.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Stimulating consumerism, encouraging debt" -- Michael raises a very important question regarding how the U.S. can best get itself out of its economic mess.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Stupidity, thy name is Maureen Dowd" -- Michael's critique of Dowd's Obama criticism makes the right points.

By Creature: "Rooting for disaster" -- Weighing in on Republican Dick Cheney's comments to Politico, creature concludes, "they are a party rooting for America to go under."

By Mustang Bobby: "The Stupids" -- Bobby puts his pen to the idea that Joe the Plumber has any relevant advice for beleaguered Republicans.


By LindaBeth: "A Frank defense of ideological disagreement" -- A well-written run-down of the essence of the stimulus debate, spotlighting Rep. Barney Frank vs. Sen. Jim DeMint.

By Libby Spencer: "Every day is B.A.D." -- Libby's link-rich post explaining the annual Blogroll Amnesty Day; read it and explore the richness of the blogosphere once again.

By Carl: "It's only arrogance if you're wrong" -- Carl's very insightful exploration of our all-too-human fallibilities or capacity for genius, as evidenced in recent news items.


By Creature: "Who will fill the media void?" -- Creature joins Josh Marshall in calling for Democrats to "point out what lies beneath Republican spin" of the stimulus bill.

By J. Thomas Duffy: "Breaking News! Groundhog sees Obama's shadow" -- Duffy's very clever "report" of a new Groundhog day phenomenum; it finishes with Bonus Punxsutawney Phil Riffs.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Not all renditions are the same" -- Michael pens a valuable clarification that "there is no continuation from Bush to Obama on extraordinary rendition, just as there isn't on torture and Gitmo."

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Not quite the scandal I was expecting

By non sequitur

So, with all the problems in Putin's Russia (yes, I know, technically Medvedev's Russia, but seriously), who would have seen this story coming? Though Putin's spokesman is denying it, apparently an Abba tribute band ("Bjorn Again") played a private show for Putin and about seven other guests (and the Kremlin paid for the trip and performance).

Bjorn Again's manager Rod Stephen and other band members said Mr Putin danced to Abba hits and shouted "Bravo!"

The PM's spokesman denied the claim. Mr Putin - a former KGB spy who has a black belt in judo - is known in Russia and the West for his macho image.


The four member-group says Mr Putin and about seven other guests, including a woman, were present at the concert, but they sat on a sofa veiled by a curtain.

Veiled by a curtain? What the hell was going on here? If Putin was visible, who were they trying to hide? Have the Russians re-animated Stalin?

And why was there only one woman? If we hear more about this "private party," will it involve the phrase "pulling a train"?

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By Creature

That's the percentage of tax cuts in the stimulus bill compromise reached in the Senate tonight. That's about thirty percent too much. Very disappointing.


UPDATE: For more on the compromise, see the NYT.

It's all well and good that the Democrats managed to win over a couple of moderate Republicans, but what good is there in making smaller a stimulus package that is already too small? I agree with Creature that the Dems ought to have stuck to their guns, not accepted so many tax cuts, and forced the Republicans to filibuster. But at least this is a start. Maybe there's more to come down the road.


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Pro-Republican media on the stimulus bill

By Michael J.W. Stickings

On Wednesday, I noted that Republicans are dominating the narrative and dictating the terms of the debate over the stimulus bill in large part because of "a gullible media establishment playing right along, dutifully reporting on how bad things are out there even as it wallows in and magnifies the manufactured sensationalism of political conflict in Washington."

Actually, it's worse than that.

The media establishment -- as it has been for years, largely in response to conservative pressure and accusations of liberal bias, compelling it to cave in and shift right -- has been decidedly pro-Republican in its coverage of the debate, at least when measured by how many Democrats and Republicans it puts on the air. Continuing the trend, as Think Progress reports, "Republican lawmakers outnumbered Democratic lawmakers 75 to 41 on cable news interviews by members of Congress (from 6am on Monday 2/2 through 11pm on Thursday 2/5)." Here, in chart-form, are the results:

(Thank goodness for MSNBC, I suppose.)

And it's actually even worse: "Though the imbalance is already stark, the tilt of the coverage would have been even more lopsided if the analysis had been broken down into whether a lawmaker who appeared on TV was a supporter or a critic of the economic recovery plan. Some of the most frequent Democratic guests this week were outspoken critics of the proposed stimulus plans, such as Sens. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Kent Conrad (D-ND)."

This is what Obama and (most of) the Democrats are up against.

It's not just the insurgent GOP and its ideological extremism, it's the (cable news) media establishment and its over-compensation for "fairness" and "balance" and general right-wing inclinations.

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Start "good" banks

By Creature

Paul Romer, senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, in today's Wall Street Journal:

Everyone agrees that the United States urgently needs a few good banks. Turning bad banks into good banks is a difficult and risky way to get them. It's simpler and safer to start entirely new banks.

In this context, "good" means a bank with assets and liabilities that are easy to value using market prices. At a good bank, officers, regulators and investors can be confident about the value of the bank's capital.

Creature, senior nothing and blogger, from a week or so ago:

On the other hand, if the Obama administration is so keen on setting up a bank, why not set up a "good bank" that will responsibly loan money and eventually fill the vacuum when Citibank and Bank of America collapse under the weight of their own stupidity.

Maybe it's time to give up my day job.

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Iraqi election results confirm sectarian divides

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yeah, so about those oh-so-peaceful provincial elections in Iraq over the weekend, the ones that some on the right were gleefully holding up as proof of success in that war-ravaged country...

Here's Marc "Abu Aardvark" Lynch at Foreign Policy:

Preliminary results from the Baghdad provincial council election have begun to filter out into the Iraqi press. The lead story will probably be that Maliki's Rule of Law list won more than half the seats. But the more important story may be that all of the Sunni lists combined evidently only won four or five seats between them. That, combined with the fiasco in Anbar, could put Sunni frustration firmly back into the center of Iraqi politics – risking alienation from politics, intensified intra-Sunni competition, and perhaps even a return of the insurgency.

So much for those "hopes that the provincial elections would lock in the incorporation of Sunnis into the political process." So much for sectarian reconciliation. The Sunnis are still on the outside, and Maliki is still consolidating Shiite power in Baghdad. And so much even for the prospect of free and fair elections, of legitimate democracy actually taking hold in Iraq:

The unexpectedly strong showing of Maliki may reflect a popular yearning for a strong central government. But add on the unexpectedly strong showing of the Islamic Party in Anbar, and it is difficult to not wonder whether there is more to the strong showing of the incumbent parties than their popularity. Months of "shaping operations" and state-funded patronage may have had something to do with it as well. But either way, the provincial elections seem likely to shift attention to exactly the question we worried about last fall: how will frustrated challengers react to their failure to obtain the share of state power that they had expected?

Time will tell. And that time may be coming soon.

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Death and foxes

By Capt. Fogg

There's often some good to be found in our increasingly entropic economy -- like a pearl in a tainted oyster. I take comfort in the cosmic joke that is our mortal life; knowing that Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney and everyone at Fox News will go the way of Pol Pot, Nicolae Chaucescu, and Madman Muntz in due time. But even before all the chips are cashed, it's good to know that News Corp., Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the parent company of Fox, is down by the bow and taking on water -- nearly six and a half billion dollars worth of water, that is.

Blaming the grim economic situation, the obvious precursors of which the Fox fabricators have been denying for years whilst mocking the "Libs" for their warnings, Murdoch told the International Herald Tribune:

While we anticipated a weakening, the downturn is more severe and likely longer-lasting than previously thought.

Who could have foreseen that? Well I for one and other, better prognosticators heard only dimly through the angry roar of the Fox filibusterers. Remember when Fox claimed that the robust economy was being "talked down" by "the Liberal Media" and offered statistics showing the "proof" in the fact that there was more bad economic news than good?

We are implementing rigorous cost-cutting across all operations and reducing head count where appropriate.

And of course I have a list of candidates for decapitation, but before we get to feeling smug, the bad news in the good news in the bad news, is that amidst the general Murdoch meltdown, Fox News itself reported income of $428 million, which is up $91 million from the previous year. Fox News increased its operating income by 32 percent. Is this also a reflection of a desperate America's increased thirst for lies, damn lies and hysterical hatred? I'm sure that when the statisticians stop chewing on the news, we'll find that alcohol consumption has risen by a similar amount.

In any event, I'm sure that the global meltdown will some day fade into redacted and ill remembered history, but I'm not so sure about the United States of America as we know it. America is failing, Fox News is why.

Et evasi ego solus ut nuntiarem tibi.

(Cross posted from Human Voices.)

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By Creature

That's the percentage of people filing for unemployment in the United States today. That's 598,000 jobs lost in January alone. That's the "deepest cut in payrolls in 34 years." That's scary. Unless, of course, you're a Republican. If you're a Republican then it's just another excuse to scream tax cuts. Sometimes I wonder if the Republican party represents actual human beings.

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BREAKING NEWS: 598,000 job losses in January

By Michael J.W. Stickings


The country moved into its second year of uninterrupted job losses last month, with companies shedding another 598,000 jobs — the most since December 1974 — and the unemployment rate moving up to 7.6 percent, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

Economists had forecast a loss of 540,000 jobs and a unemployment rate of 7.5 percent. The jobless rate is at its highest since September 1992.

And yet the Republicans, as enraptured as ever by their miserable right-wing ideology, are still playing partisan politics over the stimulus bill, seeking counter-productive tax cuts and otherwise trying to slash what is already too small a package.

To read this morning --

Robert Reich: "This isn't a matter of more or less government, however much Republicans and conservatives would like to wedge it in that old ideological box. The issue is how to revive the economy. When consumers and businesses can't or won't spend enough to keep the economy going, government has to be the spender of last resort. Period."

Paul Krugman: "It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge."

Look again at that number: 598,000.

This isn't a time for failed ideology and partisan politics, it's a time for constructive action -- to get the economy moving again, of course, but also, and perhaps most pressingly, to help the American people now. People who are losing their jobs and having trouble putting food on the table aren't statistics, after all.

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Taliban Republicans

By Michael J.W. Stickings

You gotta love it, so rare is it, when Republicans are being truly and genuinely honest, when they openly admit who they really are, what they're really like, and what they really stand for. Specifically, you gotta love it when they compare themselves to the Taliban, as Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, did on Wednesday:

Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban. And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person's entire processes. And these Taliban -- I'm not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that's not what we're saying. I'm saying an example of how you go about [sic] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with.

No, of course we're not saying that. We're insurgents, and the Taliban are insurgents, and we've learned how to be insurgents from the Taliban -- but, no, we're not the Taliban. Of course not.

Uh-huh. Sure.

At this challenging time, with the economy struggling and without an end in sight, with people losing their jobs and their homes and their health care, the Republican Party intends not to work with Obama and the Democrats on a comprehensive plan to get the country moving again, or at least not constructively, but to launch an insurgency, an aggressive effort to attack and undermine the economic stimulus plan.

In other words, Republicans are Washington's terrorists.

"I simply said one can see that there's a model out there for insurgency," clarified Sessions. Fine, but what is clear is that that model is the Taliban.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Quote of the Day

By Creature

"Scaring people is not leadership. Writing an editorial that if you don't pass this bad bill we're going to have disaster -- we've had enough presidents trying to scare people to make bad decisions." -- Sen. Lindsey Graham, criticizing President Obama while apparently forgetting that it was his president, his party, and he himself, who spent the majority of last eight years "trying to scare people" into making bad decisions.

Blue Texan adds, "No word on whether he said that last part with a straight face."

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By Michael J.W. Stickings

"It's time to play hardball," advises the WaPo's E.J. Dionne today, echoing the sentiments of many who think Obama needs to fight back against Republican anti-stimulus spin. (See my post from last night, for example.) Dionne concludes:

In just two weeks, the elation of Inauguration Day has given way to a classic form of partisan hardball. Obama and his advisers have been forced to learn basic lessons on the run. For starters, the media cannot be counted on to be either liberal or permanently enchanted with any politician. Arguments left unanswered can take hold, whether they make sense or not. And one more lesson: No occupant of the White House has ever been able to walk on water.

Obama and his advisers weren't clueless, though, and they must have known Republican opposition was coming. What they may have underestimated was how successfully the opposition spin would resonate, not least because of a media establishment more than willing to manufacture drama.

And of course Obama is an unsentimental realist who knows full well he can't walk on water, hence his efforts to reach out to Republicans in the first place. Where he acted in good faith, though, the Republicans are not, and he now must prove his mettle not by hovering above the partisan fray and seeking broad bipartisan consensus but by playing politics Washington-style. That may not be his style, nor his preferred method of governing, but it is what is needed now to get this stimulus done even in the face of loud, hostile opposition.

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BREAKING NEWS: Why this election was crucial

By Edward Copeland

It has just been announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent surgery today for pancreatic cancer. The justice has had a previous bout of colorectal cancer. While we certainly wish her well, don't all moderates and liberals breathe a little easier knowing that if she should have to leave the court that it will be Barack Obama selecting her successor? Get well soon, Justice Ginsburg.

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Bailouts and stimulus

By Carl

A lot has been tossed around Blogospheria and Blogtopia (© Skippy) about the stimulus package passed last week in the House and under consideration by the Senate, as well as about the bank bailout trial balloons.

The usual suspects are chiming in from both sides, angry about some such or other.
From the right:

Yes, the stimulus is less than a trillion -- $819 billion in the version passed by the House. But that's still a bigger total than a million a day since the first Christmas.

That's a soundbite that is going to resonate.

from the left:

This is some serious bullshit that you're about to lay down and it will destroy your presidency. I'm being totally serious. What's more, it will destroy the Democratic Party's reputation as being the party that does a better job of taking care of the middle class and the poor.

First, it's interesting that the right wing has fixated on "$1 million a day since Jesus' birth" when it comes to spending on their neighbors yet have absolutely no problem in that figure being spent on Iraq, a people most of them will never meet, much less have over for dinner. It's a childish argument to make, and please, Republicans, keep making it so we can keep hammering you about Iraq!

I'm guessing a small amount of economic security is worth less than some nebulous "safety from terrorism," which has to allow for that trope to be legitimate, to boot.

As well, the arguments from Sadly, No! with regards to the "bad bank" proposal, while legitimate, ignore the environment and history this proposal was made in. Let's take a quick look at how
this is supposed to work:

The bad bank clears the toxic assets off the books of banking systems by buying them at market prices and forcing write downs by the banks. A good bad bank forces banks to write down their bad assets and cleanse their balance sheets with those made insolvent being recapitalized, nationalized or liquidated by the state. But it is equally possible to use a bad bank to buy the banks' toxic waste at inflated prices so that the bank can start lending again. That's when it becomes a bad bad bank.

The Obama proposal would buy some assets at inflated valuations, what the banks are carrying them at. Other assets would be bought at current market values, meaning the banks would take a loss, and a third class of assets would be left on the banks' books for them to worry about.

Here's the problem S,N!'s argument misses: Banks can only lend based on a capitalization ratio. That means, if they have $1 million in invested capital (shares outstanding), they can only lend a proportion of that capital. Time Magazine reports that the loan-to-capital ratio is currently
30-1 at some banks. That million dollars of capital produces $30 million in loans.

The kicker, the really nasty bit of this unbalanced scenario? Any loss is written off against the capital base. So if, of that $30 million lent, $500,000 goes bad, your capitalization is now only $500,000 and oops, you are in violation of any number of banking regulations, since you maintain $29.5 million against a $500,000 capitalization. You have to sell off some of your other mortgages in order to restore your minimum base.

But to whom, in a market where ALL banks are suffering the same scenario? Worse, even if you could sell off loans made, you'd end up selling off only the really good ones, the ones that have the best shot at being paid back, so now you are in even more danger of being in default.

Your only option is to shut down. You announce you're closing. Your depositors, at least those without insurance, make a run on you. Rumors start to pass about other banks also about to close. Their depositors take a run at those banks.

Soon, the entire banking system is shut down by presidential fiat. The FDIC has to come up with... $7 TRILLION DOLLARS.

Suddenly, a trillion doesn't seem like such a bad idea, now does it?

(Cross-posted at Simply Left Behind.)

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Four is enough

By Creature

Susan Collins (ME), George Voinovich (OH), Arlen Specter (PA), and Olympia Snowe (ME), these were the only Republicans willing to vote down Sen. Jim DeMint's absurd alternative to Obama's stimulus plan. All the president has to do is keep these four in his camp and the stimulus bill will pass. All the huffing and puffing from the 36 other Senate Republicans, not to mention all those morons in the House, is simply noise that must be filtered out.

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Ashley Judd takes on Sarah Palin and the brutal slaughter of wolves

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Sarah Palin, as thuggish as ever, thinks that the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, which opposes the aerial slaughter of wolves, is an "extreme fringe group."

That's right, this enthusiastic killer of animals thinks you're extreme and on the fringe if you don't think wolves should be shot to death from low-flying planes. She defends the killing as necessary given that wolves would otherwise "decimate moose and caribou populations." (They're predators, don't you know.) But the killing is simply indefensible -- it's a massacre, and she wants more of it.

For more, see DWAF's website and And watch this:

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You lost

By Creature

Karl Rove:

Democrats are betting that Americans now embrace centralized, top-down government and are willing to pay for it. They are wrong and will suffer politically for their misjudgment.

This from the man whose own math predicted an enduring Republican majority. How's that working out for you, Karl?

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Stimulating consumerism, encouraging debt

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I realize that part of what the economy needs is more consumer spending on big-ticket items, and so I understand why Republicans pushed successfully for a $15,000 tax credit for homebuyers to go along with a tax incentive for carbuyers, both now part of the Senate's stimulus package, but is encouraging more spending at a time when jobs are being lost and the credit market has dried up really such a great idea? I mean, you can give people any sort of incentive you want, but what if they still can't afford to buy those big-ticket items? Ten percent of a new house, up to $15,000, is nice and all, but there's still the other 90 percent to consider.

And so while the tax credit might help shore up the housing market by keeping prices up -- and perhaps even reduce foreclosures by allowing people to take out smaller mortgages -- it's not clear to me how this helps fix what truly ails the U.S. economy and the financial sector, namely, too much risky lending and borrowing, and spending, at a time of global economic restructuring. Indeed, it seems to me that encouraging people to make such big-ticket purchases could actually make the situation worse than it is already by putting more and more people into more and more debt from which they'll have more and more difficulty getting out, leading to more and more foreclosures, more and more repossessions, and more and more bankruptcies.

Take the example of buying a new flat-screen, high-def TV. If you go to your local Best Buy, or a similar store, you might find a TV you want for, say, $2,000. But maybe that's beyond your budget. Or maybe you just don't need a new TV when you're already having trouble paying the bills, and maybe you're worried that you'll shortly be losing your job. Maybe you should put some money away or spend it on your kids. But what if some sort of credit were being dangled in front of you? What if, say, that TV would only cost you $1,800? Ah, now it's more reasonable. And maybe you think, what a great deal. Ten percent off. I'd better take the offer before it's off the table. Who doesn't want a high-def TV? But then, once you buy it, you still have to find the $1,800, and, given your current financial situation, you'll probably have to put it on credit. But you're already maxed out, or close to it. And what if the incentive encourages you to buy and even more expensive TV? What if that $2,500 one is the one you really want, and, well, if you can get it for $2,250, that's a pretty good deal. So why not? It's all going on credit, after all, and what's a few hundred more dollars?

I realize it's not a perfect analogy -- a TV isn't a house or a car, and you don't need to access as much credit to buy one (unless it's some super-expensive one), credit that has dried up -- but yet get the point, I'm sure. While quick-fixes to stimulate the economy are appealing, and certainly so to politicians, who must ultimately answer to constituents, encouraging Americans to buy more, and to go deeper into debt, is reckless and irresponsible, and certainly not the answer to the economy's woes.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Selling the stimulus: How Republican propaganda is dominating the narrative, and what Democrats need to do to fight back

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Earlier today, Creature noted that public support for the current economic stimulus plan has fallen to 37 percent, attributing this decline to "the failure of Democrats to get their message out." Ryan Avent, linking to Steve Benen, makes the same point over at Yglesias's place: "[C]onservatives are winning the public relations battle, and as a result, public support for stimulus is falling."

I agree with this assessment. As bad as things are out there -- as many jobs as are being lost, as many homes as are being foreclosed on, as bleak as the present seems and as even worse as the future is expected to be, that is, as historically terrible as the state of the economy really is -- it is the opponents of the stimulus plan, and by that I mean, of course, the extremist conservative ideologues of the Republican Party, are dominating the narrative and dictating the terms of the debate, with a gullible media establishment playing right along, dutifully reporting on how bad things are out there even as it wallows in and magnifies the manufactured sensationalism of political conflict in Washington.

The media establishment and its predictable pandering to the right aside, though, these Republicans are just doing what they have to do, or what they think they have to do, for partisan political gain. You can't fault an animal for doing what it is in its nature to do, and that goes for political animals as well. Republicans are being Republicans, and the media are being the media. The problem is that the Democrats are also being the Democrats, which, lest we forget, means not effectively standing up for themselves and countering Republican propaganda with their own direct appeals to the American people. Just as the Republicans dominated (and won) the national conversation on the war on terror and the Iraq War, such as there was one, so are they now dominating the national conversation on the stimulus plan, winning the political game and driving down popular support for something the economy and the people so badly need.

Thankfully, as Benen points out, the plan's proponents are finally waking up, or at least showing signs of pushing back against the tsunami of right-wing spin. They're getting to it late, but better late than never, not least with the plan now in the Senate, where apparently the Democrats don't have enough votes to pass it in its current form -- and where even moderate Republicans are trying to cut what is already too small a plan to do what is necessary for the economy.

The apparent lack of public support for the plan is worrisome, but, as Nate Silver finds (via Alex Koppelman, with a Democratic source who contends that "the bill is still likely to pass the Senate in time for Congress to send it to President Obama to sign before Presidents' Day"), examining not one but several polls, there is actually "little evidence that it is unpopular in the here and now." The problem, of course, is that the plan is complicated, not to mention expensive, and, as Silver notes, "a figure like $800 billion is never going to be an easy sell." This is what allows the Republicans, with their typically effective spin machine, to gain the upper hand. They can scare people with the sheer magnitude of the plan while also picking out parts of it that may generate additional opposition, all the while putting the blame not on those who, in Creature's words, "drove this country into the ditch," but rather on Obama and the Democrats, on those who are actually trying to do something constructive to get the country out of the mess it's in.

The bipartisan route has been taken, and Republicans have responded by voting in unison against the plan in the House, by seeking to shrink it in the Senate, and by waging an all-out public relations war for pure partisan gain. It is time, long past time, for Obama and the Democrats to fight back and to do what is right for the country. To do any less is to let the Republicans get away with continuing their long history of harming both the economy and the American people, and to fail to do what is necessary at this moment of crisis.


For more on this, and on what Obama needs to do, see Michael Hirsh at Newsweek:

The reason Obama is getting so few votes is that he is no longer setting the terms of the debate over how to save the economy. Instead the Republican Party — the one we thought lost the election — is doing that. And the confusion and delay this is causing could realize Obama's worst fears, turning "crisis into a catastrophe," as the president said Wednesday.

Obama's desire to begin a "post-partisan" era may have backfired. In his eagerness to accommodate Republicans and listen to their ideas over the past week, he has allowed the GOP to turn the haggling over the stimulus package into a decidedly stale, Republican-style debate over pork, waste and overspending. This makes very little economic sense when you are in a major recession that only gets worse day by day. Yes, there are still some very legitimate issues with a bill that's supposed to be "temporary" and "targeted" — among them, large increases in permanent entitlement spending, and a paucity of tax cuts that will prompt immediate spending. Even so, Obama has allowed Congress to grow embroiled in nitpicking over efficiency when the central debate should be about whether the package is big enough. When you are dealing with a stimulus of this size, there are going to be wasteful expenditures and boondoggles. There's no way anyone can spend $800 to $900 billion quickly without waste and boondoggles. It comes with the Keynesian territory. This is an emergency; the normal rules do not apply.

But the public isn't hearing about that all-important distinction right now. And by the time Obama signs a bill — if he can get one approved — many Americans may have concluded that the GOP is right and that the Democrats have embarked on another spending spree, as if this were just another wearying Washington debate.

Thankfully, Obama has begun to fight back. He can win this. He just needs to get out there, make his case, and rally his party behind him.

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Stupidity, thy name is Maureen Dowd

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I used to read Maureen Dowd. Once upon a time. Way back when. I can admit that, can't I? She was funny, sometimes, and her intertwining of pop culture and pop politics amused me. There was never any depth to her, but it didn't matter. Reading her Times columns, pithy drivel and all, was a fine way to pass the time -- when I had some time, didn't feel like having to think all that much, and nothing more compelling was available, mainly because I was too lazy to look.

And now? Not so much. Or, rather, not at all. Part of it, I suppose, is that her former targets -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. -- are no longer in power. Another part of it is that she's gotten worse. Nowadays, I find what she writes mostly unreadable. There was substance, if only a tiny speck, when she was exposing Bushworld as the bubble of darkness it was. Now she just seems shallower than ever, with little of value to add. This was the case during the primaries, when she resembled a gossip columnist more than an op-ed columnist for the leading newspaper in America, if not the world, and it is certainly the case now, training her sights on the new targets in the Obama Administration, starting in the Oval Office itself.

Case in point: Her column in today's NYT, which begins thusly:

On 9/11, President Bush learned of disaster while reading "The Pet Goat" to grade-school kids. On Tuesday, President Obama escaped from disaster by reading "The Moon Over Star" to grade-school kids.

"We were just tired of being in the White House," the two-week-old president, with Michelle at his side, explained to students at a public charter school near the White House.

Even as he told the children his favorite superheroes were Batman and Spider-Man, his own dream of being the superhero who swoops in to swiftly save America was going SPLAT!

It just ain't that easy.

Where, oh where, to begin. (And why even bother?)

First, losing Daschle -- which is what is behind this -- isn't a disaster. It's a shame that Daschle had to withdraw, and it was his own fault for being so reckless with his taxes, but Obama will simply replace him with another, and hopefully less compromised and less corrupt, nominee. True, I thought that Daschle was the right man for the job -- or, rather, for the two jobs of HHS secretary and head of the White House health care reform office -- but there are other good candidates out there, including Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Second, losing Daschle is not akin to 9/11. And reading to children at a local school on the day you lose one of your key nominees is not the same as freezing on the spot when you're told of attacks on the United States. And what's wrong with reading to children anyway? Why refer to it as escaping from disaster?

Third, Obama is a sensible and sober leader, as we have already seen. He does not see himself as some sort of superhero on a mission to save America. He has his feet firmly planted in reality, unlike a certain Times columnist desperately trying to make waves.

Fourth, Obama's presidency didn't suddenly go SPLAT! just because Daschle withdrew his nomination. That's just stupid.

Fifth, while it is indeed true that Obama admitted to screwing up, it's not at all clear what he should have done in place of standing by his friend. After all, Daschle didn't do anything illegal and his failure to pay taxes on a car and driver was probably just an honest mistake. What is refreshing is that Obama was able to admit that it could have been handled differently -- the nomination, that is -- and to stress that "there aren't two sets of rules." So how was Obama's attitude "arrogant"? How was he trying to protect "his charmed circle"? After all, Daschle resigned soon after the story about his tax problems broke. It's not like Obama thwarted justice or kept up some sort of double standard, he just thought Daschle would be good for health care reform. Furthermore, was what Geithner did so bad as to disqualify him from office regardless of his many qualifications? He apologized and paid his back taxes (with interest). Disagree with him on the issues, and recoil at Daschle's consummate Washington insiderdom, but don't slam Obama as a failure, and a hypocrite, for seeking to put together the right Cabinet for these challenging times.

I could go on, but the rest of Dowd's column is a meandering mess that further attacks Obama for, among other things, not "smack[ing] down those who would flout his high standards or waste our money." She even suggests that Americans should not have put so much trust in him -- as if he really could single-handedly fix everything that ails the economy.

The problem for Dowd, I suspect, is that she really did think that Obama was Superman. Unlike many of the rest of us Obama supporters, who never deified him and who therefore had more reasonable expectations, Dowd and her ilk set standards for him that were simply impossible to meet. It should come as no surprise that the early days of Obama's presidency have had their rocky moments. It's Washington, after all. It's politics. And the good thing is that Obama himself understands that much better than Dowd, who continues to pump out ridiculous columns at a newspaper that itself should have higher standards.

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By Creature

That's the percentage of people who support the current stimulus plan. That's down from 45% not too long ago. Which all adds up to the failure of Democrats to get their message out. The people need to be reminded who drove this country into the ditch and Democrats don't seem up to the task.

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Canada on brink of implosion, chaos rampant

By Michael J.W. Stickings

No, not really. But that’s the view of one Stephen Marche, who in The New Republic a couple of weeks ago wrote that Canada is about to become… the Balkans. Or Italy. Or something really, really terrible:

If Canada does collapse — and the parliamentary crisis is pointing us in that direction — the U.S. will end up with something like a Balkans to the North.

Canada has become ungovernable, entering a period of Italian-style instability.

Marche was perhaps overstating his case for effect, but, regardless, it is one of the worst and most outlandish analyses of Canadian politics ever written (and shame on the editors of TNR for publishing such stupidity -- it should have known better, not least because it is owned by Canadian media conglomerate CanWest, although Marche's piece may actually fit right in with CanWest's right-wing propaganda and fearmongering).

I wrote a lengthy response to it in an article at The Guardian that was published yesterday. You can find it here.

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Google: Big Brother

By Carl

There's a fine line between informative and intrusive. Ask any celebrity. But now, it seems, we are all celebrities:

This image was published on Google Earth (original image). It depicts Australia's Bondi Beach. If you look closely enough, as PC World points out, you can practically read the labels on the bikinis.

Worse than this, of course, is
this new Google product:

The tracking feature, called Latitude, will appear on compatible mobile devices in a new version of Google Maps, version 3.0.0. It can also be added as a gadget on iGoogle, the company's personalizable home page service.

Google reassures us that this feature is opt-in only, but here's the kicker:

To begin sharing your location, you must either sign up for the Latitude service or accept an invitation to view the location of someone already using it.

Latitude's help pages describe the fine-grained control the service allows over who sees what, and when. For each friend with whom you choose to share information, you can give your precise location, the name of the city only, or no information at all.

Key phrases here: "accept an invitation" and "For each friend with whom you choose to share information."

In other words, if you're drunk one night and some intriguing contact decides to share their location with you... you know, to facilitate chat or some such... you are automatically enrolled in Latitude. Worse, everyone you know who is enrolled in Latitude will now, by default, have access to your precise location unless on a case-by-case basis, you choose to limit their access. You can't block general location services completely unless you opt out of the service or manually fix your location on a Google map.

Say you have G-chat, Google's chat feature. Your contacts on there will be able to precisely locate the exact address where you are, whether you are using your mobile device or your home PC. Or as
Techtree puts it, you can "stalk your friends." Doesn't matter if you're home, at your girlfriend's house, at HER girlfriend's house (*wink-wink*), a bar, work, playing hooky, whatever. People will know precisely where you are at all times.

Well, now that sucks! What's the point in that?

Here's the kicker: Latitude is bundled with the latest downloadable version of Google Maps for Mobile software, which means if you want the latest mapping, you have to install Latitude, too.

Couple that with what appears to be the ultimate iteration of Google Earth, a live or at least near-live feed of the Earth, and your friends will get to
see this.


(Cross-posted at Simply Left Behind.)

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Rooting for disaster

By Creature

David Kurtz is right. With Cheney salivating over a potential terrorist attack (which will happen, according to Dick in a new and disturbing interview with Politico, because Obama is too busy upholding the Constitution) and with the joy Republicans have taken over the soon to be total collapse of our economy under the weight of their obstructionist stupidity, it does seem they are a party rooting for America to go under. They see it as a way back to power. They forget that there might not be a country left to rule if they succeed.

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Obama to cap executive pay

By Creature

"If the taxpayers are helping you, then you’ve got certain responsibilities to not be living high on the hog." -- President Obama

Hog-less [Bloomberg]:

President Barack Obama will announce today that he’s imposing a cap of $500,000 on the compensation of top executives at companies that receive significant federal assistance in the future, responding to a public outcry over Wall Street excess.

Good. Now, if someone could school these executives on how not to bankrupt their companies we'd all be better off.

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The Stupids

By Mustang Bobby.

Continuing their slide into irrelevancy, the GOP is now taking advice from a well-known political strategist and war correspondent from Toledo, Ohio.
Fresh off his stint as a war correspondent in Gaza, Joe the Plumber is now doing political strategy with Republicans.

When GOP congressional aides gather Tuesday morning for a meeting of the Conservative Working Group, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher -- more commonly known as Joe the Plumber -- will be their featured guest. This group is an organization of conservative Capitol Hill staffers who meet regularly to chart GOP strategy for the week.

Wurzelbacher, who became a household name during the presidential election, will be focusing his talk on the proposed stimulus package.

Do the Republicans get it that they are making a complete mockery of themselves? I know eight years of Bush-flavored Kool-Aid might have dulled the senses, but this is like a bad Tom Arnold movie. (Which raises the question, are there any good Tom Arnold movies, but that's for another post.)

Seriously, if the GOP thinks that this kind of casting is going to win back the independents, the minorities, the women, or anyone else who once voted Republican but looked at the last election campaign and said "WTF?", then let them explain how. Meanwhile, it's get-the-popcorn time.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)


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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


By Creature

That's the percentage of spending House Republicans consider "wasteful provisions" in the Senate's version of the stimulus bill. As Steve Benen says, "After screaming "pork!" and "waste!" non-stop for weeks, these guys really should have been able to come up with more than just 2% of the bill. A list like this one is practically an endorsement of the administration's agenda."

This whole stimulus exercise is getting old, fast.

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A Frank defense of ideological disagreement

By LindaBeth

There has been wide distribution of video clips and transcripts from Feb. 1's This Week (ABC), hosted by George Stephanopoulous, with guests Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Federal Express CEO Fred Smith, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). The show featured an ideological (some might say "partisan") battle between Frank and DeMint.

A few interesting tidbits to point out (transcript here):

  • DeMint's attempt to cast the solution in terms of patriotism-nationalism:
DEMINT: Well, I think all of us support the fact that we need to do something. And all of us believe that the way to move our economy forward and protect jobs is to infuse more money so that consumers have more to spend, businesses have more to invest, buy capital equipment.

But there are two ways to do that, George. One is for the government to take it out of the private sector through taxes and then decide where it's going to go through political manipulation, as they've done in the House. The other is just to leave more money in the private sector for consumers to spend and businesses to invest.

And that's the American way. And that's -- that's the approach we're pushing.[...]

FRANK: [...] I regret Senator DeMint saying that this is the American way. Let's -- let's just agree that we're all Americans here, Jim, and that nobody's got the American way versus presumably the non-American way.

This isn't about patriotism (or the Republican's version--nationalism) but about solutions that will work.

  • The incessant clinging to defining terms through political ideology:
DEMINT: But this plan is a spending plan. It's not a stimulus plan.


FRANK: Spending can be stimulus. I don't understand what you think stimulus is.

DEMINT: But this is the largest spending bill in history, and we're trying to call it a stimulus when it's just doing the things that...


DEMINT: ... you wanted to do anyway.

The repetitive characterizing of government spending as not stimulus is part of the public manipulation game being played by the Republicans. DeMint's ideology is that the only economic stimulus that counts are tax cuts. As I wrote previously, in this economic climate, it seems highly unlikely that any tax cuts will lead to more consumer spending, which is the only way that tax cuts stimulate anything.

  • The approach to stimulus is ultimately an ideological one:
DEMINT: And so it really comes down to a basic argument: Do you want a government-directed plan or do you want the free markets to work?

This characterization of the options available is, in Obama's terms, a false one. This is part of the "socialism" scare of the campaign--the idea that any government direction is socialism, is anti-capitalism, and that the only capitalism possible is "pure" capitalism. In the discussion, Frank makes all the right points to indicate how our society has not traditionally operated under any sort of pure capitalism--bringing up roads, education, and firefighters as some of the things not brought about by tax cuts, as only brought about by government spending and "direction." This is not a matter of socialism vs. capitalism, as the Republicans would like to see it characterized.

And Frank rightly points out the hypocrisy of Republicans blasting government spending now in light of what Iraq has and will cost us.

  • Finally, we need to not write off the battle between the Democrats and Republicans over the spending bill as mere "partisan bickering":
FRANK: Well, no, I differ -- differ with you on that. Please. Let's not obviate democracy. There are legitimate different philosophical differences between Jim DeMint and myself. Please don't treat them as some sideshow.


FRANK: They're important to democracy.

Sure, we need a bill, and soon. But we need the right bill. We need a bill that work in this particular economic context, not one that placates the ideological outlooks of both sides of the aisle. I appreciate Frank's acknowledgment that there's a time for tax cuts and a time for spending. We've had enough of the former; it's time for the latter. It's also time to say bipartisanship is nice, but not when one side is plain wrong.

(Cross-posted to Speak Truth to Power.)

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Gregg to Commerce

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As you may have heard already, Obama has tapped Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire to be commerce secretary. (If you remember, Obama's first choice, Bill Richardson, withdrew his nomination amid swirls of scandal.) It's a fine choice for a relatively impotent Cabinet post, and it helps that Gregg has spoken favourably of Obama's economic stimulus plan. As part of the deal, New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, will replace Gregg with another Republican. (Gregg had said he wouldn't take the job if it meant a Democrat taking his place in the Senate.) That Republican is reported to be Bonnie Newman, Gregg's former chief of staff. The good news is that Newman may not run in 2010, when Gregg's current term is up, meaning that, in a state that is turning ever more blue, the Democrats have a good shot at picking up the seat.


On an ironic note, Gregg twice voted to abolish the Commerce Department -- both times in 1995, first on the Budget Committee, then on the Senate floor.

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Every day is B.A.D.

By Libby Spencer

Hard to believe it's been three years today since the great A-list blogroll purge started a week long bitchfest among us B to Z list bloggers. Feels like a life time ago in some ways. If you don't know what Blogroll Amnesty Day is, see Jon Swift's historic post on the origins of this holiday and then check out skippy's post that explains how it's evolved into its current incarnation. The two of them, along with Blue Gal have taken on the task of organizing the events. I'm afraid I've lost the link to Blue Gal's vid but you can get it there and don't miss Mad Kane's poetic tribute for the occassion. Mad props to them all for keeping this holiday going.

Although BAD started in anger at the A-listers, I love that it's morphed into a linky lovefest among the lower tier blogs. As I said last year, in the end the big guys did us a favor. We may never have found our sense of solidarity if not for our spontaneous united outrage over the original purge and I, like so many others, made friends and found blogs that I might not have otherwise.

This year finds me in an unusal place in that I'm one Eschacon away from becoming a full-fledged Atriot. Yes, I'm now one of those commenters that everyone loved to mock for their failure to stay on topic and takes inordinate delight in being first on a thread. I spend way too much time over there and have come to adore and appreciate the regs for their wit, their knowledge, their kindness, and their relentless scouring of the intertubz to find interesting links. Truth be told, I've even come to love Atrios and finally added him to the blogroll at my place, after swearing I never would until he linked to me. He still never has, but to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, he's a mean old daddy but I like him. And despite his terse style, he really does often catch good links that I might have otherwise missed.

What hasn't changed is that the A-listers still pretty much only link to each other with the notable exception of Crooks and Liars where Mike's Blog Round Up regularly gives a nod and a huge traffic boost to little known bloggers, and also Avedon Carol whose rankings belie her reach and is the most generous linker to little blogs that I know, not to mention an extraordinarily astute polictical analyst and a really terrific person. Oh, and Joe at TMV, who has given many a new blogger a leg up, including myself. I don't think that will ever change, so it's good to celebrate this holiday once a year to remind ourselves that links truly are the currency of Blogtopia (and yes, skippy did invent that phrase).

Here and at The Impolitic, I try to keep the spirit of BAD alive every day. I make it a point to link to lesser trafficked blogs in my regular linkfests and my blogroll is mostly populated with B-listers, many of whom found their way there from previous BAD days. So let this day remind us all, that BAD isn't just a celebration of an isolated event, it's a state of mind. It's all too easy to fall into the habit of linking up to big guys ourselves instead of linking laterally. Remember to reach out to each other. It's the only way to raise a louder voice for those of us who don't get the big megaphone.

So then, on to the links. I hate this part because I want to link to every single blog on my roll and don't want to offend those who aren't included. That's impossible, of course, so I would encourage you to check out my blogroll, as well as the blogroll here at The Reaction, and read a few blogs you don't recognize. Otherwise, I'm just choosing a few at random that I either just discovered or haven't linked to in far too long, including some Atriots who so often get neglected on this day.

Starting with Keeping it Lit, a brand new blog by a long time Atriot who too often keeps her light hidden under the proverbial bushel basket.

The smart and snarky Southern Beale, who probably doesn't qualify as a smaller blog than me, but deserves much more attention than she gets.

Rorschach at No Capitol is doing fine work and already on my blogroll, even though I'm not on theirs. An oversight I'm sure.

Uncle Blodge doesn't do much politics, but his stories of life on the front lines of an inner city urban school are fascinating reading.

Also non-political are 4 Legs Good at Plush Life where the photos will soothe your psyche and Tlazolteotl who doesn't post nearly often enough, but maybe a traffic boost will encourage her to post more, so if you only click one -- go check her out.

Moving off the Atriot list, Truth 101 at Truth Shall Rule is a new regular in the comment section here and is more moderate than me but has a good perspective on politics and life.

A new discovery is Ordinary Gentleman, a group blog that I didn't even know existed, featuring some friends.

I'm including Comments from Left Field even though they're bigger than me because it's such a terrific blog, and to my horror I just discovered that somehow they never made it to my blogroll, an error that will be corrected today.

Drink Liberal in New Milford has been on my radar for a while. He took on the thankless task of moderating an extremely unruly forum at a local newspaper and did the best of anyone who had the job. The forum I believe has folded, and I don't agree with everything he says, but that's the whole point of BAD. Gathering various viewpoints so as not to lapse into an echo chamber.

Neither do I always agree with my friend Mark at Publius Endures who blogs from a libertarian POV. In fact we often disagree, but we share a hope that someday bloggers will be able to unite around their common goals, no matter what their ideology.

And last, but far from least, my friend and blog-child Kathy at Stone Soup. We don't see each other often enough because we both have too many blogs of our own but there's no better blogger out there on workers rights and all things Michigan.

This is already over long, so let me close by reiterating my own blogroll policy. If you blogroll me, I'll reciprocate and if you've already blogrolled me and I haven't noticed, email me or leave your blog in comments so I can. And remember, every voice counts, no matter how small, so be BAD, not just today, but every day of the year.

(Cross-posted at The Impolitic.)

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