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Posted at 6:44 PM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Happy Hour Roundup

By Greg Sargent

* What if the American people declared that they think the best way to fix the deficit is to cut defense spending and hike taxes on the rich, and no high level politician in either party cared?

* Governor Scott Walker says layoff notices will go out tomorrow if Dems don't return. It's going to be very interesting to see how the politics play out once those notices start landing in mailboxes.

* Don't miss the tale of the fugitive Wisconsin Dem who outfoxed Republicans in order to collect his paycheck while on the run.

* Missing Wisconsin Dems respond to the GOP threat of detention with the right mix of ridicule and contempt.

* Jon Chait, on why the Dem push to recall GOP state senators is thoroughly justified:

The recall is an easily abused process. But this is exactly the kind of thing it's made for -- a party trying to advance a highly unpopular policy change that it did not campaign on.

* As Atrios notes, it doesn't bode well that the White House has kicked off budget negotiations by agreeing to a bunch of cuts.

* And as Steve Benen points out, it would be nice if we had a better idea what Dems are for in these negotiations.

* ON the other hand, we do know what Republicans want: They vow to continue cutting $2 billion a week until Dems make their intentions known.

* You'd think that Haley Barbour's past as an energy industry lobbyist might compromise his credibility as a critic of Obama energy policies opposed by the energy industry.

* Why the claim by GOP governors that "we're broke" is "all obfuscating nonsense."

* A striking observation from Dan Balz, and not just for what it says about Newt Gingrich:

The reality is that, by sheer force of intellect, energy and ambition, Gingrich has managed to stay in the forefront of the public debate longer than almost any other contemporary member of his party.

* David Dayen wonders if the NATO airstrike murder of nine innocent young boys collecting firewood will be enough to galvanize American opinion against the war.

* The right can stand athwart history and yell "stop" all it wants, but that isn't doing anything to stop public support for gay marriage from growing steadily.

* And imagine a three-way New York mayoral race that pits Dem Anthony Weiner versus independent Eliot Sptizer and GOPer Dick Grasso, the former chief of the New York Stock Exchange.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | March 3, 2011; 6:44 PM ET
Categories:  2012, Foreign policy and national security, Happy Hour Roundup, House GOPers, Labor, energy, gay rights  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Police union chief says Wisconsin GOP's proposal to detain missing Dems may be unconstitutional
Next: The Morning Plum

Comments

Shrink, I think you missed this from the "Barry thinks all opposition is racist thread. ;-)

"Troll, no. There are excellent books on bigotry in general and racism in particular; suffice it to say, we are innately afraid of 'the other' and when we feel fear, we defend ourselves against it."

Shrink, thanks for the answer. Just to clarify though, to finish this off with ribbon and bow, as it were. You believe that 12barblues and Ethan (r&r) are closet racist, correct?

Great work all! Many thanks!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 3, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

"Pew Poll: Americans Now Evenly Split On Legalizing Gay Marriage"

A new Pew poll shows adult Americans evenly split over whether gays and lesbians should be legally allowed to marry -- and there's a clear trend of Americans' views becoming increasingly favorable toward the ssue over the past few years.

That finding comes just weeks after the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend key elements of the Defense of Marriage Act -- the federal law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman -- in court. And it also shows that Republicans may not have an upper hand in next years' presidential election if they try to thrust social issues to the forefront of the debate.

According to the poll, a slim 46% plurality of Americans say gay marriage should not be legal. However, 45% said it should be legal, and with a 3% margin of error in the poll, that places the results into a statistical tie.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/pew-poll-americans-now-evenly-split-on-legalizing-gay-marriage.php?ref=fpi

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 3, 2011 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Judge Vinson, the judge in FL who ruled the entire ACA legislation unconstitutional that led to several GOP governors saying they would not enforce the law, has stayed his own ruling, and given the DOJ seven days to file an appeal.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/florida-judge-stays-decision-voiding-health-care-law.php?ref=fpa

As a result, the Governor of Alaska has backtracked on his announcement that he would not impliment the law, and now says he will during the appeal process.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/03/sean-parnell-health-care-_1_n_831018.html

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 3, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Some interesting posts on racism today:
--------------------
I believe most people don't know whether they are racist, nor even what it is.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 1:39 PM
--------------------
Absolutely right! Racism lives in our blindest spot, where we are least aware of it, or how it colors us. We are not in a position to opine that we are not racist because we don't know.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 1:43 PM
--------------------
I believe the term has become so broad as to be almost meaningless now.

Posted by: jnc4p | March 3, 2011 2:12 PM
--------------------
Your construction also eliminates the possibility of "reverse racism" since the levers of power in a society are dominated and controlled for the most part by the dominant group and those levers are directed at the non dominant groups...

Very few people understand the differences between bias, discrimination, and racism. Right wingers are particularly fond of claiming "reverse racism" which is an oxymoron...The non dominant group in a society has no power to implement "racism" against the dominant group.

Posted by: srw3 | March 3, 2011
--------------------

It never hurts to use a common language:

rac·ism  [rey-siz-uhm]

–noun
1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

As jnc4p points out, the term has become so broad as to become almost meaningless. It is simply used as a slur by liberals against conservatives or Democrats against Republicans. It has lost its power.

Shrink and 12Bar don't really seem to know whether or not they're racists. The "levers of power" nonsense is just a convenient dodge used to excuse bigotry by minorities, primarily African-Americans. Does our current system of government foster the doctrine that blacks are inferior? Does it discriminate, or are you living in the past? You do realize that legal remedies are available, right? Not for someone "hating" you---sorry.

Remember the New Haven firefighters case?

"The Court ruled 5-4 for the eighteen white (including one Hispanic) firefighter plaintiffs. The majority held that an employer can invoke fear of "disparate impact" litigation by minority applicants as a defense to a charge that discarding the results was itself an act of unlawful discrimination. However, the lead opinion written by Justice Kennedy announced that the defense is only available where the employer has a "strong basis in evidence" for fearing disparate impact liability. The majority further found that the record in Ricci did not meet this standard."

So much for "levers of power."


Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 7:18 PM | Report abuse

According to the poll, a slim 46% plurality of Americans say gay marriage should not be legal. However, 45% said it should be legal, and with a 3% margin of error in the poll, that places the results into a statistical tie.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | March 3, 2011 6:54 PM
=======================================

So let people vote. It hasn't done nearly as well where it's actually been put to a vote---unless you count the votes of appellate judges.

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

clawrence12: And that's why I answered your question. I obviously do not believe she was inciting anyone or part of any conspiracy (apparently neither does the U.S. Attorney in Nevada or local district attorney).

My question about Sharron Angle "Was she promoting well-regulated militias?" Sorry, I missed your answer. Could you re-post it please? Thanks.

Posted by: LeftCoast5 | March 3, 2011 7:34 PM | Report abuse

The problem in the states is the fact that 49 states have stupid budget balancing rules written into their constitutions.

This is something progressives need to add to the list of things to fix.

Atrios mentions "50 little hoovers" from time to time and this is why. Even states not governed by sociopathic wingnuts are forced to throw all sorts of the weakest and most vulnerable into the cold to make up for annual deficits.

Lots of states also have undemocratic supermajority requirements to raise taxes.

It adds up to a one-way rachet that can only cut spending, whether Democrat or Republican the state governments have no other options.

As for the 50th state, the one without balanced budget requirements, I haven't seen any phantom bond vigilantes closing in on Vermont.

Posted by: Scientician | March 3, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

From George Will's piece today on Lamar Smith:

--------------------
"Regarding illegal immigration, however, he proposes a program of "attrition through enforcement." Workplace enforcement, that is.

He says such enforcement has declined 70 percent in the past two years, and fines levied on employers of illegal immigrants are treated by businesses as a bearable cost of doing business as usual."
==========================================

This is the sort of thing that has decimated the blue collar class. Now you have businesses bribing politicians to allow more foreign information technology workers (white collars) into the country because they "can't find enough qualified employees." Absolute B.S. In a properly functioning labor market, businesses must pay the going rate for labor. Don't like it? Go ahead and move your business to Mexico or China. With unemployment near 10%, we don't need any more immigrants competing with unemployed Americans and depressing wages.

Liberals should be more worried about private sector workers than public sector employees who are doing well, thank you. Unionize them instead. Granted, you'll be accused of hating "brown people", and there'll be fewer workers dependent on government programs to supplement their earnings, i.e. potential Democratic votes; but the country will be the better for it.

Want to tax the rich? As far as I'm concerned, if you catch somebody knowingly employing illegal immigrants, you can take everything he has.

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

"So let people vote. It hasn't done nearly as well where it's actually been put to a vote---unless you count the votes of appellate judges. "

Sure, if we can also vote on raising the taxes on the top 1% earners.

Oh, in that case democracy is just two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner right?

Posted by: Scientician | March 3, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Another example of "the levers of power" in action:
-----------

"One of the most enduring and justified criticism of racial preference is that it amounts to a racial spoils system, with different races and ethnic groups in a constant struggle among themselves for the rewards of racial recognition. Now that Hispanics are both the largest and fastest growing minority group in the country, their tensions with blacks are certain to increase, a prediction that is more than confirmed by an article in today's Washington Post, "More Federal Hiring of Hispanics Urged: Advocacy Groups Seek Accelerated Recruiting Effort."

"The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives called the issue a "crisis." They pointed to a recent government report indicating that 7 percent of federal civilian employees are Hispanic, compared with 13 percent of the entire civilian workforce.
....
The report, issued earlier this year by the Office of Personnel Management, found that Hispanics are the only minority group underrepresented in the federal government. African Americans, for example, make up about 10.4 percent of the civilian workforce but more than 17 percent of the government's civilian employment rolls, the report says.

The Hispanic organizations "demanded that the government hire 100,000 Hispanics -- the nation's largest minority group -- over the next five years" to end their underrepresentation.

In short, because Hispanics are substantially "underrepresented" in the federal work force and blacks are substantially "overrepresented," Hispanic organizations are demanding that the government commit to hiring 100,000 Hispanics over five years. This, of course, would require job applicants to be hired because they were Hispanic, and other applicants to be rejected because they are not.

What, I wonder, would "civil rights" organizations say if large numbers of black job applicants were not hired simply because they are black? Discriminating minds want to know.
---www.discriminations.us
--------------------

Quotas anyone?

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Slowly, gently, we come to an understanding of how to live together with people who are not like us. But not just that, people who are better than us and people who are worse. Better than and less than, the final frontier is not in space, better than, less than.

We are not just pieces in a salad. We can only pretend everyone is the same. We are not. Whether or not we were created equal, we do not stay equal. Some people are better than other people at this thing or that measure. Any outcome, any value you want to name, there is a hierarchy. Pretending everyone is the same no matter what is a way, an unsafe way, of avoiding reality. Dealing with reality is the hard part.

Massive imbalances used to be attributed to the will of gods (not to mention goddesses), now we have the made markets winnowing, but its process is just as ridiculous as religion ever was.



Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

"So let people vote. It hasn't done nearly as well where it's actually been put to a vote---unless you count the votes of appellate judges. "

Sure, if we can also vote on raising the taxes on the top 1% earners.

Oh, in that case democracy is just two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner right?

Posted by: Scientician | March 3, 2011 7:42 PM
=========================================

Incoherent post. Sue was quoting polls on whether or not gay marriage should be legal. You either think the input of the public is important or you don't.

Top 1%? What's for dinner? You must be doing meth again.

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Scientician, the states are not limited in their flexibility only because state constitutions demand balanced budgets. Under the federal constitution no state can coin money or emit bills of credit. States cannot print currency or scrip that is like currency. While they can issue bonds, and if they do not prohibit imbalance, go out of balance for a short period, they must pay their debts, and cannot do so by printing money.

This was the problem writ large that Greece had when it adopted the Euro and gave up the right to coin and print money, while being a debtor.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 3, 2011 8:00 PM | Report abuse

This "my people" comment has the radical right in a tizzy.

I'll post some cr@p from my email lists a bit later, for entertainment value if nothing else.

God forbid the guy has an appreciation for his own ethnic background. Truly unbelievable how disgusting and unhinged these right wingers are (especially over race matters).

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 3, 2011
========================================

Does anyone remember the flack caught by Ross Perot for addressing a group of African-Americans as "you people"?

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 8:03 PM | Report abuse

"Incoherent post. Sue was quoting polls on whether or not gay marriage should be legal. You either think the input of the public is important or you don't."

False dichotomy. The input of the public is important, except where they are voting on the inherent rights of a minority group. Ergo, the public cannot vote to strip (say) Jews of voting rights. The public cannot vote to imprison the left-handed.

Whatever the 95% of us who are heterosexual think about equal marriage for same-sex couple simply doen't matter because we don't get to tell this minority they cannot enjoy a privilege we accord ourselves.

Posted by: Scientician | March 3, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

As a taxpayer I don't like my money being used to kill innocent people in Iraq and Afganistan.

Posted by: filmnoia | March 3, 2011
=======================================

I doubt that your 50 cents is going to result in too many deaths.

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 8:05 PM | Report abuse

"Want to tax the rich? As far as I'm concerned, if you catch somebody knowingly employing illegal immigrants, you can take everything he has."

Brigade you are attacking Capital. The free market and free trade concept are one. The only difference between free trade and illegal immigrants is shipping costs.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 8:07 PM | Report abuse

False dichotomy. The input of the public is important, except where they are voting on the inherent rights of a minority group. Ergo, the public cannot vote to strip (say) Jews of voting rights. The public cannot vote to imprison the left-handed.

Whatever the 95% of us who are heterosexual think about equal marriage for same-sex couple simply doen't matter because we don't get to tell this minority they cannot enjoy a privilege we accord ourselves.

Posted by: Scientician | March 3, 2011 8:05 PM
-------------------------------------

Then you are the one making the false dichotomy. If what the public thinks is irrelevant to the matter of gay marriage, then what's the purpose of quoting the polls? Especially when the poll results in no way reflect the voting patterns where the issue was actually put before the public. Try to keep up.

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Brigade you are attacking Capital. The free market and free trade concept are one. The only difference between free trade and illegal immigrants is shipping costs.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 8:07 PM
======================================

Not exactly. One is illegal.

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Mark in Austin:

You're correct that States cannot print money etc, but the limits on deficits are the real constraint here. Canadian and Australian subnational governments cannot coin money either, but they can carry a debt when their elected governments decide to.

This has meant neither country saw dramatic cutbacks in government spending at a time of weak economic growth and high unemployment. Both countries have suffered far less in the global downturn too.

Canadian provinces carry long term debt without collapsing into Greece.

Eventually they have to balance their books or they will get into trouble, but my point is that balanced budget rules are dumb and lead to short sighted cuts that hurt the weakest at times of crisis.

Posted by: Scientician | March 3, 2011 8:14 PM | Report abuse

News from California:

SACRAMENTO -- The state's largest business group will provide financial support to Republicans and pro-business Democrats who vote to put a tax extension on the ballot, California Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Allan Zaremberg signaled on Thursday.
----------------------------------------------
What this means is that Republicans from conservative districts, who are afraid of voter retaliation if they even put a question of taxes on the ballot, will get financial support from the Chamber to explain their vote in the next campaign.

The Chamber is signaling their approval of Jerry Brown proposal to cut about half and raise taxes for the other half of the budget deficit.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 8:16 PM | Report abuse

"Not exactly. One is illegal."

This is why we pay for the shipping.
"Free" trade isn't really free.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 8:22 PM | Report abuse

And yes, 'clawrence' is James Dort, also known as JakeD, who has this sad oldguy crush on palin.

Posted by: fiona5 | March 3, 2011
=======================================

clawrence, just change your handle to tlawrence ("t" for tom) and people will think you're the falcon.

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 8:26 PM | Report abuse

"Canadian provinces carry long term debt without collapsing into Greece."

Most Quebecois would love to collapse in Greece.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Murder? Is that really the word you want to use for the accidental deaths of civilians in a combat zone? Do you think NATO goes around Afghanistan deliberately targeting civilians or are you just into casually slurring NATO soldiers with your imprecise words?

Posted by: dever1052 | March 3, 2011 8:39 PM | Report abuse

"Canadian provinces carry long term debt without collapsing into Greece."

Most Quebecois would love to collapse in Greece.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 8:28 PM
====================================

Speaking of Canadian, where's bernielatham? I haven't seen him around for several days.

Posted by: Brigade | March 3, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Agree with dever about "murder". Bad choice of words in a combat zone, even for civilian casualties that could have been avoided.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 3, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you dever1052. In war there are lots of murders, but this was not that. This was a disaster, a consequence, hubris, a failure to communicate...but the people who killed those kids did not know what they were doing.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Scientician, this is an interesting new model to me. Thank you for posting. I do not think the Canadian experience of our downturn was painful because Canada never allowed the financial speculation that we did and it banking and financial system stayed in tact without need of "bailing out".

I would like to explore the role of the provinces, based on your post, if you have a handy link.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | March 3, 2011 8:52 PM | Report abuse

"Whatever the 95% of us who are heterosexual think about equal marriage for same-sex couple simply doen't matter because we don't get to tell this minority they cannot enjoy a privilege we accord ourselves."

Actually, it does matter, since ssm isn't an "inherent right." Everyone has the same right to marry.

Posted by: quarterback1 | March 3, 2011 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Can I get a Kumbaya?

"Mr Soros also predicted the Iranian regime would be overthrown in the "bloodiest of the revolutions"."

The nutcrustedwingnutbars love to hate Soros.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12643419

I think the Koch bros should get in front of this and predict an even more dismal fate for Iran. They won't. Capital loves theocracy. In a free market, irrational imbalance is where money is made.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 9:06 PM | Report abuse

"The nutcrustedwingnutbars love to hate Soros.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12643419

I think the Koch bros should get in front of this and predict an even more dismal fate for Iran. They won't. Capital loves theocracy. In a free market, irrational imbalance is where money is made. "

Hi shrink! Paging Dr. Irony. Dr. Irony, Please pick up the nearest political villain phone.

Hope all is well. :-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 3, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Free trade!

"I look forward to consulting with Congress and moving forward in a way that strengthens the safety of cross-border trucking, lifts tariffs on billions of dollars of US goods, expands our exports to Mexico, and creates jobs on both sides of the border," Mr Obama said.

Tom Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce, said the trucking deal would promote job growth on both sides of the border, and called for an end to Mexico's tariffs.

Mr Obama also announced the US would soon look to "develop new sources of energy in the Gulf of Mexico" with the help of the Mexican government."

And he went on to praise Mr Calderon for his "extraordinary courage" in fighting drug cartels and cracking down on violence near their shared border."

This is so sad.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Some classic progg tossed-off bullschlitz:

"Why the claim by GOP governors that "we're broke" is "all obfuscating nonsense."

Links to the Times, natch.

{snip}
"[B]ut a substantial part was caused by deliberate decisions by state and federal lawmakers to drain government of resources by handing out huge tax cuts, mostly to the rich."
{snip}

So the Times is saying that New Jersey, New York, California, Michigan, and Illinois are under water to the tune of tens (hundreds?) of $Billions because they gave tax breaks to the rich and to business.

Does any sentient adult buy this?

Tax breaks for the rich in NYState? Gaia, they just f'n lie.

Sorry proggs they think ya'll are a bunch of bufords.

And you not only take it in right in the kisser, you repeat it.

Posted by: tao9 | March 3, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

It's about the narrative my dharmic friend, that sweet, sweet narrative. Of course Illinois, New York and California are beholden to the Koch brothers. They're in debt, ergo, Repulicans fault. Night follows day. The political demagoguery writes itself. ;-)

It's a pleasure reading your comments all! Thank you!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 3, 2011 9:48 PM | Report abuse

TMcW,

NyState lost two congressional districts this year.

Get the picture?

Why are we down two congressionals, Mr. Krugman, you f'n a@@whole?

Must be the plutocrats...or the oligarchs, I forget.

Posted by: tao9 | March 3, 2011 10:05 PM | Report abuse

HaaaaaHaaaaaaaaHaaaaaaaa, you gotta love these guys.

""Later this month, the Federal Reserve is going to let banks know how they did on its most recent round of “stress tests.”

Banks are eager to bring doctors’ notes to their meetings with investors, displaying their bills of health. They want regulators to allow them to start paying, or increasing, dividends to investors or to initiate stock buyback programs.

This set of exams, announced in November, is Son of Stress Test 2009, a followup to tests the Fed conducted in the wake of the financial crisis.

But something seems different this time around. It’s almost as if the banks knew their results, even before the testing was complete.

Since the end of last year, banks have been bragging about their rude health. Bank of America’s chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan, suggested that the bank would raise its dividend above its current token amount. Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase’s leader, did the same. Warren E. Buffett suggested in his shareholder letter that Wells Fargo was about to pass with flying colors.

Of course, banks ought to have a good idea of the results. They came up with the questions — and the answers.

The Fed gave the banks one economic assumption — a recession — to test their books against, but otherwise the measures were chosen by banks themselves. The Fed just vetted them. Seems like a low bar.""

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/a-test-where-the-banks-had-the-questions-and-the-answers/

Posted by: lmsinca | March 3, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

They want regulators to allow them to start paying, or increasing, dividends to investors or to initiate stock buyback programs.
----------------------------------------
Another reason the stock market is roaring.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 10:16 PM | Report abuse

@lms,

Did you see that the California Chamber of Commerce is effectively endorsing Gov. Brown's budget approach. They are promising Republican legislators they will support them in their next campaign as some R. legislators in very conservative districts are afraid of voter blowback. Press release today.

http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_17532666?nclick_check=1

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Apparently the Monitor Group and some prominent neocons sold themselves for 3 million dollars.

"US firm Monitor Group admits mistakes over $3m Gaddafi deal

Consultancy group entered into multimillion dollar contract with Libyan regime to portray Gaddafi in a positive light


A consultancy firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has admitted it had made serious mistakes in entering into a multimillion dollar contract with the Libyan regime to portray Muammar Gaddafi to the west in a positive light.

The Monitor Group, which has 30 offices around the world, has become the focal point of a billowing controversy over the engagement of western individuals and institutions with the discredited Gaddafi regime.

Between 2006 and 2008, the firm entered into a contract with the regime that was worth at least $3m (£1.8m), according to confidential documents obtained by the Libyan opposition.

An undisclosed portion of that money was passed on by Monitor to leading academics and policymakers in the US in the form of honorariums, consultancy fees and travel expenses.

Experts were encouraged to travel to Tripoli to meet a range of senior regime figures, including Gaddafi himself and his son Saif al-Islam, both of whom are now on the UN's sanctions list designed to prevent Gaddafi's assault on his own people.

The individuals who were engaged in the Monitor project included Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History; Richard Perle, a prominent neocon who advised President George W Bush in the buildup to the Iraq invasion; and American academics such as Benjamin Barber, Joseph Nye and Robert Putnam."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/04/monitor-group-us-libya-gaddafi

They will support anyone for a buck!

Posted by: FoundingMother | March 3, 2011 10:23 PM | Report abuse

12Bar

"Another reason the stock market is roaring."

Ponzi, at least in the fin sector.

You know what's going to happen unless Res RealEst actually clears?

Cities with blocks, hell entire neighborhoods, on their tax rolls, will be forced to raze them. Hundreds of little Detroits.

Meanwhile:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-03/invesco-sells-mortgage-swap-protection-on-home-loans-as-banks-seek-capital.html

IVR has $20.39Million total cash.

W.T.F.

Posted by: tao9 | March 3, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

I thought the stress tests were computer simulations, not the q+as.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 3, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

You guys know me, I'm all about policy stuff and tend to be less into coverage of Teh Crazy... But I have to admit, this is some World Class, Platinum Grade stuff over at TPM:

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/03/advanced_crazyology_101.php

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 3, 2011 10:35 PM | Report abuse

12Bar, I saw your link earlier. We'll still have to convince the voters once they get the plan on the ballot, but last time I checked it was at 54% approval. You never know how people in CA will vote though. The Chamber give some of the more moderate Repubs cover I think.

Posted by: lmsinca | March 3, 2011 10:36 PM | Report abuse

"The individuals who were engaged in the Monitor project included Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History; Richard Perle, a prominent neocon who advised President George W Bush in the buildup to the Iraq invasion; and American academics such as Benjamin Barber, Joseph Nye and Robert Putnam."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/04/monitor-group-us-libya-gaddafi

They will support anyone for a buck!"

No kidding. I've been making fun of "the end of history" since I read history ended, you know when Reagan won the cold war.

But history may have ended when money was invented, everything since then is a circle, a torroid maybe, but it isn't going anywhere.

"portray Muammar Gaddafi to the west in a positive light"

Well if history is meaningless, it is over.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 10:37 PM | Report abuse

@tao,

If I understood why the stock market is roaring while the residential real estate market is tanking, I'd be a lot smarter than I am. But both are occurring. The stock market has more than doubled over two years (since Mar 09). That's is not a blip on the radar screen. Obviously, the two markets are decoupled. I just thank God I stayed in the stock market and bought some more. I think shrink has been predicting a moderately large correction, which of course is overdue. I've been taking profits off the table but the market still looks good to me.

I don't understand your criticism of the market as a Ponzi. If it's a ponzi scheme now, it always was. It's no different now than five years ago or ten. It always goes to extremes because most of the action is emotional (momentum players). If you mean the market is in a bubble (ie overvalued), that would be a better word than Ponzi.

When the banks are frothing at the mouth to invest their spare cash in their own stocks, that is a bullish indicator. Not moral perhaps, but very bullish.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 10:40 PM | Report abuse

@lms,

I'll be amazed if the people of CA vote for tax increases. Have they ever done that? However, if anyone can pull this off, it is Jerry Brown. He has a lot of credibility. People will believe him that this is the best way.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 10:44 PM | Report abuse

12B yes, what you said is true. When they invest in themselves, the bubble is inflating. Nowadays, with no net change in the value of the American equity markets for 10 years, the only thing investors can do is time the bubbles and hope the sheep in charge of the nations pensions keep believing in getting fleeced.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 10:49 PM | Report abuse

@shrink,

I have to make money off the bubbles, because what else is there? That's only partly a joke.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 10:53 PM | Report abuse

"...what else is there?"

Health care and that's no joke.

The collapse of real estate value, I can't see how that can be avoided. There is no money, no fast money running in to grab houses now even at these prices and everyone knows what that means.

This particular stock bubble is so strange because it has nothing behind it. There is nothing else to do with money, so they bid up their own stocks. Decoupled from everything that is real, they understand the only bubble recovery possible is the last option.

You sell me your stock for more than I sold it to you and then I'll buy it back for a little more...in this way they bring in the marks, the fund managers for people on fixed incomes.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 11:06 PM | Report abuse

@NYT:

The Hollow Cry of 'Broke'

"We're broke! We're broke!" Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday. "We're broke in this state," Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin said a few days ago. "New Jersey's broke," Gov. Chris Christie has said repeatedly. The United States faces a "looming bankruptcy," Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

It's all obfuscating nonsense, of course, a scare tactic employed for political ends. A country with a deficit is not necessarily any more "broke" than a family with a mortgage or a college loan. And states have to balance their budgets. Though it may disappoint many conservatives, there will be no federal or state bankruptcies.

The federal deficit is too large for comfort, and most states are struggling to balance their books. Some of that is because of excessive spending, and much is because the recession has driven down tax revenues. But a substantial part was caused by deliberate decisions by state and federal lawmakers to drain government of resources by handing out huge tax cuts, mostly to the rich.

...

Before the union uprising, Wisconsin voters might not have noticed when Mr. Walker approved business tax cuts earlier this year that made his budget gap worse. But now, with his cries of being "broke," they should listen more closely. On Tuesday, he unveiled a budget that would cut aid to school districts and local governments by nearly $1 billion over two years, while preventing those jurisdictions from raising property taxes at all to make up for the loss.

Perhaps because of the economic downturn, voting among union households was sharply down last November, which may help explain some of the Republican gains. Mr. Walker and his fellow Republicans, may wind up turning that around next year.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/03/opinion/03thu1.html

Posted by: ronnieandrush | March 3, 2011 11:10 PM | Report abuse

@shrink,

My theory is that the world is awash in money that has fewer investment opportunities. Before 2008, there was the highly lucrative Mortgage Backed Securities market and we all know that market crashed in 9/08 and there is not a whole lot of interest there. Then there is real estate itself, including commercial real estate, both of which are not exactly attracting a lot of new money. That leaves equities and commodities, both of which has doubled since the financial collapse. Meanwhile, in the equity market, there are fewer entities due to consolidation in the financial market, and no ipos to speak of, so even in equities, there is less supply.

All of this adds up to more money chasing fewer investing opportunities.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 11:19 PM | Report abuse

"TMcW,

NyState lost two congressional districts this year.

Get the picture?

Why are we down two congressionals, Mr. Krugman, you f'n a@@whole?

Must be the plutocrats...or the oligarchs, I forget."

It's as if people don't appreciate the State for the Utopia it is. Confusing and weird.

Wait..., don't the Koch brothers live in NYC? Hmmmmmmm. The Koch brothers, Depopulating New York... With their minds!

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 3, 2011 11:25 PM | Report abuse

What a coincidence--about banks wanting to restore their dividends:

Is The New York Fed Making A Serious Mistake On Bank Dividends?

By Simon Johnson

An uncomfortable dissonance is beginning to develop within the Federal Reserve. On the one hand, senior current and former officials now generally agree with the propositions put forward by Professor Anat Admati and her distinguished colleagues – our leading banks need more capital, i.e., more equity financing relative to what they borrow.

The language these officials use is vaguer than would be ideal and they refuse to be drawn on the precise numbers they have in mind. The Swiss National Bank, holding out for 19 percent capital, and the Bank of England, pushing for at least 20 percent capital, seem to be further ahead and much more confident intellectually on this issue.

But an important split appears to be emerging within the Federal Reserve system, with the Board of Governors and most regional Feds tending to want higher capital levels from today’s levels, while the New York Fed is – incredibly – pushing hard to enable big banks actually to reduce their capital ratios (in the first instance by allowing them to pay increased dividends).
....
Johnson goes on to theorize:

Without any substance on their side, the New York Fed is increasingly creating the perception that it is just doing what its key stakeholders – the big Wall Street banks – want.

Bankers traditionally dominate the board of directors for regional Feds. We can argue about whether this is a problem for most of those organizations, but for the New York Fed the predominance of big Wall Street institutions has become a major source of controversy.

...
Conclusion:

If the New York Fed were really pushing for higher dividends at this time, for example by constructing a stress tests to justify this action, it would be setting us up to mismanage credit – allowing the megabanks to misallocate resources during the good times and crash just as badly when the next downturn comes. The top leadership of the New York Fed has a responsibility to engage constructively and openly in the technical debate.

Some Federal Reserve officials act as if they have a constitutional right to run an independent central bank. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is not the case. Congress created the Fed and Congress can amend how the Fed operates.

Posted by: 12BarBluesAgain | March 3, 2011 11:29 PM | Report abuse

The taxpayers back 9 out of 10 real estate loans. F&F hold ~$1.6T in old (before the crash) "toxic assets". Still massive numbers of buildings are heading into foreclosure. There is no bailout for this problem. There is no pretending it does not exist. No one talks about it because confidence supports every deal that closes.

Everyone who buys has to believe they had at least as good a deal as if they had just waited a few months. The only force driving buying now is the ever so slowly rising interest rate and the fact that the 30yr fixed rate still exists..

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 11:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking of jumping on the "hooray for 10% unemployment!" bandwagon. I'm not one of them. And since Glen Beck doesn't care about them, why should I???

Posted by: DDAWD | March 3, 2011 11:35 PM | Report abuse

"That leaves equities and commodities, both of which has doubled since the financial collapse."

Commodities are the scary part. No one starves if gold costs $20 an ounce or $2000. Every capitalist agrees, heroin, gold, houses, girls, wheat...only worth what someone will pay. Food is in a bubble right now. Someday maybe water.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Troll, no serious person cares about Koch v Soros.

"Hi shrink! Paging Dr. Irony. Dr. Irony, Please pick up the nearest political villain phone."

That was my point, it was supposed to be a joke. I am sorry it wasn't funny. Next time, maybe if the Koch bros say something true and good (being rich and political has a price), I'll say, Soros should get out in front of that. Then you can not laugh again. Ok? Then everything will be fair and square.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 3, 2011 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Carrying forward discussion from a few threads ago on voluntary union participation.

Disagree.

If unions do the heavy lifting and get good wages and working conditions for their members, then nonunion shops in the same business are forced to match to keep the unions out. In other words, workers not paying union dues are getting the benefits anyway.

OK, unions aren't guilds, one can be an electrician without belonging to the union. But if the electrician's union gets wages raised nobody is going to work for a place that keeps them low. So I really don't see much fairness in getting the perks without paying one' share.

The exception of course is that some companies will offer even better pay and conditions to keep the unions out and try to put the unionized shops out of business, by taking losses on their electrical work and financing them from other profitable parts of the company (as Microsoft used to do with competitive software companies). Does anyone think that those luxe conditions will persist once the union shops fold?

Posted by: caothien9 | March 4, 2011 12:11 AM | Report abuse

"Troll, no serious person cares about Koch v Soros. "

I didn't really think much about the Kock Bros. until the prank call. That just werided me out. It really seemed to affirm all the conspiracy theorists, no?

Posted by: DDAWD | March 4, 2011 12:14 AM | Report abuse

"That was my point, it was supposed to be a joke. I am sorry it wasn't funny. Next time, maybe if the Koch bros say something true and good (being rich and political has a price), I'll say, Soros should get out in front of that. Then you can not laugh again. Ok? Then everything will be fair and square. "

Well, mea culpable and color me chagrined. I sincerely apologize.

And with my embarrassment still reflected in my bright red cheeks and refusal to make eye contact because of my hot shame, you chickened out in answering my question about our closet racism. Fine, I get you're not wanting to offend your political compatriots. And I'll begrudgingly acknowledge you would have shown the same reluctance if I'd substituted Quarterback and Scott for 12bar and Ethan.

Anyhoo, I did jump to a conclusion, happily I might add, instead of considering the totality of your, shall we say, wizened cynicism? 2 dimensional you are not, ;-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | March 4, 2011 12:22 AM | Report abuse

The Koch brothers are heavy polluters with $35 billion who lobby aggressively to make government look after their interests and against everyone else's. They're also libertarians and therefore hostile ton the idea of government acting in any way other than favoring the individual.

Dunno 'bout you DDAWD but that sounds like "clear and present danger" to me. Past so many millions more money doesn't mean more comfort, more security, only more power.

Posted by: caothien9 | March 4, 2011 12:25 AM | Report abuse

"The Koch brothers are heavy polluters with $35 billion who lobby aggressively to make government look after their interests and against everyone else's. They're also libertarians and therefore hostile ton the idea of government acting in any way other than favoring the individual."

Yeah, but they are hardly unique in this. I just didn't imagine they have Kremlin red-phone access to Gov. Walker. I also didn't imagine these are guys who Walker felt comfortable discussing strategy - embarrassing strategy - with.

I don't know why I keep getting surprised by Republicans and surprised by the support people, like the ones on this board, give them. Do you really have to be a non-Conservative to not be at least a little bothered by this?

I always thought I was cynical, but man, following politics has kind of made me embarrassed as to how far behind the cynicism curve I really am.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 4, 2011 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Like I asked before, DDAWD.

Have you ever heard one hopeful, wholesome, or positive vision out of these guys? Ever? It's way past mere cynicism, this is raw nihilism. They look forward to chaos. None of them ever claim their ideas will lead to higher employment, a better economy, healthier children, growth or prosperity ... Just that liberals will hate it. What we're seeing is Thanatos triumphing over Eros.

I just can't imagine an American recovery, can you? Revitalized institutions, millions back to work, good jobs, environmental restoration, a happy and optimistic citizenry leading fulfilling lives, sane policies, the respect of the world? Not even a sustainble daydream.

Not as long as Conservative People have any say in it.

Posted by: caothien9 | March 4, 2011 1:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure if Conservatives on here are really that cynical. They have a cherubic trust in the FOX News guys. It's more that they are disinterested in the well-being of the country. That's not really cynicism, but more of an effed up value system.

The naivete really shines through in their sincere belief that if they somehow mindlessly follow what Hannity and Beck tells them, if they treat Palin like an intellectual, etc. that they will be a part of some special Conservative Club. That they are a part of some movement. That they are smarter than the all of the economists screaming for stimulus to push job growth. That they are more intellectually honest than the scientists who insist global warming is real. That they are more insightful than the growing number of people who swear that Palin is unqualified to be President. That they are more financially responsible than those that say that reducing the deficit requires raising taxes. It's the dream, to become a group of so-called Conservative Elite, but without having to put in the lifetime of effort that true experts put into what they do. They can surpass the mental giants simply by watching cable news all afternoon.

If that's not naivete, I don't know what is.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 4, 2011 1:41 AM | Report abuse

I realize that Greg is just using one sentence blurbs for his links, but the first one is a lot more interesting than the blurb.

The study was done by a think tank which presented respondents numerous ways of cutting the deficit, including raising taxes and cutting the military, and cutting social programs.

As stated in the blurb, Americans were far more in favor of raising taxes on the rich and cutting military spending. And in doing so, achieved more deficit reduction than any plan out in DC now.

But not only that, the study found that Tea Party sympathizers were the worst in deficit reduction. Of course they don't want to raise taxes, but they also made the least in actual cuts! Republicans were better than Tea Partiers and of course, Democrats' plans had the most deficit reduction.

http://public-consultation.org/exercise/

That link will let you play the game on your own.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 4, 2011 1:50 AM | Report abuse

You realize, don't you DDAWD, that you're talking about a religion.

Accepting on faith and against logic ... how, after all, is "cutting taxes increases revenue" or "dumping CO2 won't heat the earth" any more bizarre than "afer three days dead he rose and walked away?"

It's just inverted, celebrating hate and heartlessness instead of love and mercy.

But yeah, their whole "we" thing, their sense of belonging, is revoltingly childish.

Posted by: caothien9 | March 4, 2011 3:29 AM | Report abuse

The study was done by a think tank which presented respondents numerous ways of cutting the deficit, including raising taxes and cutting the military, and cutting social programs.

==

And yet for some reason the strategies that would do the most good and are the most easily justified are anathema while those that would do the most harm are the only ones regarded as reasonable.

Why do we need 174 bases? Why are we still preparing for Stalin invading West Germany? Why, with wars giving way to regional ethnic conflicts, are we still preparing for another WWII?

And why, for heaven's sake, do we persist in the notion that cutting taxes will lead to growth or that increasing taxes will stifle it? The jury is in; investors remove money from America and spend it where workers have no rights and there are no safety or environmental regulations, whereas money taxed as revenue gets spent here, creatin' jobs an' fixin' inferstructure.

Conservatives aren't just stupid. They actively deny reality.

Posted by: caothien9 | March 4, 2011 4:02 AM | Report abuse

Kinda came to a head a few decades ago with the Spotted Owl controversy. It was the protection of a single bird species that had to be used to protect the very last of extremely old forests from destruction, forests already mostly gone.

Conservatives raged against the values that placed a bird before working people, ads in Washington papers showed grimacing hardhat men with beards and axes slung over shoulders .. Of course it was really about logging profits.

I need to note that driving through those logging towns showed a way of life that was IN NO WAY worth preserving, a western Appalachia of poverty and ignorance, beer and cigarettes, trailers and taverns. Finding a new line of work would be the best thing that could happen to those loggers.

Had the logging companies gotten their way the forests would have been completely gone in less than ten years, never to return, the loggers never to work again, to say nothing of many destroyed ecosystems, a lot more extinct than the Spotted Owl. For ten more years of profit.

I note personally that driving thro

Posted by: caothien9 | March 4, 2011 4:26 AM | Report abuse


As a general rule, if you can shave at least a half point off your current interest rate, it is a good idea to refinance. If you currently have a home mortgage above 7%, the time is now to make a change. Look online for "123 Mortgage Refinance" they gave me the lowest rate than everybody else which is 3.21%.

Posted by: davidvinci123 | March 4, 2011 4:29 AM | Report abuse

"If that's not naivete, I don't know what is."

It's amazing how you've figured all that out. Such penetrating insights. It's as if you know my own thoughts and feelings better than me. I'm sure all other conservatives feel the same way. We're indebted to you.

Posted by: quarterback1 | March 4, 2011 5:54 AM | Report abuse

One of the most endangered (Sherrod Brown) of the endangered liberals in the U.S. Senate demonstrates once again that he is a moron:

“I look back in history at some of the worst governments we’ve ever had, and you know one of the first things they did? They went after the trade unions,” said Brown. “Hitler didn’t want unions. Stalin didn’t want unions. Mubarak didn’t want independent unions. These autocrats in history didn’t want unions.”
--------------------------
"The lesson here? Don’t relate contemporary leaders to Hitler or Stalin unless they’re embarking on genocide, bellicose invasions or, in special circumstances, have a highly-stylized mustache, because more often than not, it’s not a fair or even palatable parallel."---deathandtaxesmag.com
--------------------------

Some folks are just too stupid to even know they're stupid. I give you Sherrod Brown.

Posted by: Brigade | March 4, 2011 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Sherrod Brown is the perfect example of an educated moron liberal who literally has never spent a day of his life in a real job or responsibility of any kind, and who has never had a thought outside of recycled party talking points, let alone one that bordered on original. How he scammed his way into the Senate will always be a puzzle, but he history as long as the GOP puts up any halfway acceptable candidate. He's wildly to the left of most of Ohio (as is his bigoted columnist wife).

Posted by: quarterback1 | March 4, 2011 6:44 AM | Report abuse

"Sheer force of intellect"?!

Gingrich seems to me to have the intellectual force of a windbag, untenured adjunct lecturer at an unaccredited community college.
(Which he used to be, I believe).

Posted by: rhallnj | March 4, 2011 6:51 AM | Report abuse

"I need to note that driving through those logging towns showed a way of life that was IN NO WAY worth preserving, a western Appalachia of poverty and ignorance, beer and cigarettes, trailers and taverns. Finding a new line of work would be the best thing that could happen to those loggers."

Making judgements about the way of life of an entire demographic?

Not very Constitutional?

Again, something that is not to your TASTE, may make those that partake objects of your disdain, but not of your passion to eliminate them.

Actually, the very seed grain of a fascist.

Posted by: tao9 | March 4, 2011 6:58 AM | Report abuse

From Greg's earlier post:

"One of my favorite right wing fantasies has it that Democrats are broadly convinced that the vast majority of Tea Partyers are closet or overt racists. You hear this so often that it often seems as if some folks wish this were the case."

Greg's tweet just last month saying that Tea Partiers want to reverse abolition:


http://www.redstate.com/dan_mclaughlin/2011/02/09/wapos-greg-sargent-casually-slanders-tea-party-movement/


Kind of speaks for itself. I think this is the lowest I've ever seen you go, Greg.

Posted by: quarterback1 | March 4, 2011 7:24 AM | Report abuse

"Making judgements about the way of life of an entire demographic?

Not very Constitutional?"

Yeah, not like they're gay or anything.

Posted by: DDAWD | March 4, 2011 7:59 AM | Report abuse

mornin' fellas, Forks, Hoquiam, that whole Sometimes a Great Notion lifestyle, has move North where it is alive and well, busily turning Vancouver Island glabrous, not to mention the Tongas.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 4, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Really, tao9, hyperbole much? Those logging towns were grim and ugly and there was nothing noble there worth the fuss.

How you get "fascist" out of that defies comprehension. I said there was nothing there worth the loss of an ecosystem, not that they needed to be herded onto boxcars.

Posted by: caothien9 | March 4, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

All, Morning Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/03/the_morning_plum_199.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | March 4, 2011 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Oh darn, no Glory, another failed satellite launch, maybe NASA shouldn't outsource its rocket manufacturing to the private sector, in this case Orbital Sciences Corp. Taurus XL's record of six successes and three launch failures, that is just not good enough.

Posted by: shrink2 | March 4, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

And tao9, your invocation of the Constitution in such a context was *insectile* in its reflexivity

Posted by: caothien9 | March 4, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

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