SocraticGadfly: 10/3/10 - 10/10/10

October 09, 2010

Another gay Republican exposes himself

Once again, we have an undercover gay Republican coming out of the closet, err, men's room stall.

The Indianapolis Star has the pertinent info up front:
Andy Miller has resigned as commissioner of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, one day after his arrest at a Downtown public restroom on a charge of public indecency.

In case the important angle isn't clear, let's look at this graf:
Miller, a 40-year-old Carmel father of three, was arrested Wednesday after police say he exposed himself, masturbated in front of an undercover officer and asked that officer to touch his genitals in the men’s bathroom at Claypool Court.

Men's bathroom. Obviously a male cop.
Miller reassured officer Eric Simmons that they were safe from interruption because the restroom's two doors would provide plenty of warning.

Yet, even a blog like TPM fails to pick up on the gay angle.

I'm surprised John Aravosis hasn't picked up on this angle yet at AmericaBlog.

Mike Mukasey still hates civil liberties

He wants to treat U.S. civilians as military prisoners, if they're like Feisal Shahzad:
The government seems to present us only with the choice that we kill them with drones or give them Miranda warnings and access to a 24-karat justice system designed for conventional criminals. There are better ways, including but not limited to military commissions already provided by law but shunned by the administration, or other special- purpose tribunals that can be established by Congress.

Well, Mike, a problem or two.

Shahad never went to Afghanistan, and never engaged in an act of war.

If you want to consider terrorist attacks as attacks of war, fine, the next time a Tim McVeigh or a Republic of Texas type do something like that, we'll try them, white, Protestant Christian types, by military tribunal too.

Meanwhile, Jack Goldsmith, while not mentioning Shahzad by name, indicates he's not an ardent civil libertarian, either.

October 08, 2010

Securitize Wall Street salaries?

William D. Cohan has an idea to restrain greed in the financial sector — securitize top executive salaries:
I propose that each large Wall Street firm create a new security that represents — and is secured by — the entire net worth of its 100 top executives. This security would be subordinated to all other creditors as well as to all preferred and common shareholders; in other words, if a firm goes bankrupt, this security is the first to be wiped out.

Boy, wouldn't that shrivel some gonads at big banking houses?

I'm all for it!

Let's make this one better, though.

Let's let average Joes and Janes slice and dice these securitized salaries, then sell them all over the place. Wouldn't you like to sell part of a securitized salary of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein to a Chinese sovereign wealth fund?

U.S. Fish and Wildlife selling out wolves

We've already seen how the northern Rockies states want to treat wolves; I cannot believe FWS is this stupid. It's beyond being naive, it's being stupid.

Hey, Kenny Boy Salazar? After you finish cleaning up the former Minerals Management Service, how about starting on Fish and Wildlife? Maybe you can actually become an ... environmentalist! Nahhh ...

If FWS really wanted to do something, it would impose a bison management plan on Wyoming, and an elk management plan that didn't have the word "hay" in it.

Scoop Jackson, playing the race card again?

ESPN's resident raceologist claims that reaction to Brett Favre's repeated retirement dances has been nothing compared to fan reaction to LeBron James' "Decision."

Bull. Scoop occasionally has good things to opine, but, more and more, he seems to be playing a character with a shtick. Jason Whitlock has smacked him down far better than I could, but has probably gotten tired of it.

Fact is, Favre never strung Green Bay out the way James did Cleveland. The full-blown retirement dances only came later. Ditto on undercutting coaches.

Is there no racism involved with white reaction to James? Of course not. And, someone like Whitlock would say the same. But, is it the primary driver? No.

As for blacks rallying around James, that's another issue, and arguably a problem itself. Scoop, if you want to move above the dime-store level of sociology of racial issues, try tackling that.

Beyond that, if you'll pardon the pun, race issues in general aren't always black and white; they're certainly not in this case.

October 07, 2010

Why Afghan-Taliban negotiations will likely fail

The idea sounds nice:

But, there's two main holdups.

One's mentioned in the article. We, standing behind Afghan President Hamid Karzai, want the Taliban to finger bin Laden's location. That's just not happening.

The second? The Taliban wants a timetable for our withdrawal. That's certainly not happening.

Our Vietnam?

A better analogy would be: Our Palestine, our West Bank.

October 06, 2010

Obama on BP spill: Incompetent or lying?

Of course, to some degree, the two aren't mutually exclusive. But, a new report on how the government handled issues related to the size of the BP spill makes this a serious issue:
“By initially underestimating the amount of oil flow and then, at the end of the summer, appearing to underestimate the amount of oil remaining in the gulf, the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem.”

There you have it, in a nutshell.

Woodward trolling for a new book?

Or is he just out-stupiding himself? I can't think of any other reason for him to blather about an Obama-Clinton 2012 ticket.

But, he is:
"It's on the table," veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward told CNN's John King in an interview Tuesday on John King, USA. "Some of Hillary Clinton's advisers see it as a real possibility in 2012."

Ahh, what "supersecret" Hillary advisers, Woody? Tell us, so we can see just how stupid, on the one hand, or delusional, on the other they are.

First, as even Poppy Bush knew, you can't just dump an incumbent Veep, if you're already batting from weakness. FDR did it with Cactus Jack Garner because Garner opposed much of the New Deal AND FDR's abandoning the two-term tradition. But, FDR was strong enough to do it, and looking for somebody who would shore him up with liberals, especially after the GOP nominated Willkie.

Ike tried to get Tricky Dick to jump but was wayyyy too smart to try to push him out.

And, on the other side of FDR, the last time a sitting Veep was pushed aside was Hannibal Hamlin in 1864, and that was the choice of the GOP to relabel itself as the Union Party and get a War Democrat on the ticket. Lincoln himself liked Hamlin more than enough to keep him on the ticket.

The Axe is clearly smarter than Woody; or than Mitch Daniels, Leslie Gelb, or others believing this moonshine, as he immediately shot it down.

Next, Obama's thin-skinned enough he doesn't want his re-election to have to depend on massive kowtowing to both Clintons. As well as knowing this would make him a lame duck in spades.

Flip side is that if an Obama-Clinton ticket loses, we know who gets blamed. At least by those writing history from the south side of Chicago.

What's really happening is the same Clintonistas unhappy she wasn't tabbed as Kumbaya's Veep in 2008 have latched on to the recent Gallup poll saying she could draw 37 percent in Democratic primaries in 2012, and are trying to leverage something.

Folks, there's nothing to leverage. Obama dumps Biden, and independents consider him a loser.

Obama: Worse liar than Clinton?

I've said it before, in the body of a blog post, but, with Tom Daschle now officially spilling the beans that Obama sold out the public option on healthcare reform even before starting to work seriously with Congress, and lied about that the whole time, it's clear that in whopper levels, AND in lack of skill telling such whoppers, he's worse than Bill Clinton.

Oldsters, Obama and re-election

Here's another major contributor to Obama's "enthusiasm gap," and a reason he had better figure out WTF to do to seriously lower unemployment by the end of next year: the degree to which unemployment has fallen heavily on older Americans.

Here's a thumbnail description of Rick Rembold, age 56, from Mishawaka, Ind.:
Rembold calls himself a Democrat -- "not the peace sign, hit-the-bong type," he hastens to add, but "a tear-off-your-head-and-shit-down-your-neck Democrat." He can't stomach Glenn Beck or talk radio here in the Land of Limbaugh, and with equal zeal he watches MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and FX's "Sons of Anarchy," a gritty, violent series about outlaw motorcycle gangs.

These are the people Obama needs to win to hold Midwestern swing states.

Unless unemployment is below 8.0 percent by, say, March 2012, Obama can probably kiss Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and probably Wisconsin good-bye.

Beyond Obama's re-election chances, though, the story itself is just plain sad and scary. And, not totally "gotten" at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Obama doesn't do "I feel your pain."

October 05, 2010

China: Japan 2.0?

The whole Foreign Policy piece is good, but I'm just linking to the last page. Among other things, China's 20-29 population will fall by half by 2030. Just maybe, that huge threat from the East won't be such for too long.

October 04, 2010

Mitt Romney in either great or horrible shape in 2012

Krugman notes that every major GOP 2012 presidential contender except Mitt Romney works for the Politburo, I mean, Fox News.

So, either he has no shot at the "anointing" from Fox that they all get, and therefor no chance at the GOP nomination.

Or, he can watch them all club each other, let Fox's anointing be seen as truly Faux, and win.

Or, he's going to run as Teapot Tommy (My Head is Flat) Friedman's Tea Kettle Party's candidate.

Hey, don't laugh at that last idea.

Mitt doesn't quite have Ross Perot money, but, he's got enough. Freed of pandering to Tea Partiers, and sounding saner than Perot, he could make quite the appeal.

October 03, 2010

Could O'Donnell be GOOD for the GOP?

In what sounds like a contrarian take, but really isn't, on Delaware's GOP Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell, Frank Rich argues she's good for the GOP.

Why? In a nutshell, her work and financial record makes it look like the Repugs care for the common person.

Ken Silverstein kicks Obama's ass one last time

Just for the hell of it, the longtime Washington Babylon columnist for Harper's, who turned a skeptical gimlet eye on The One already four years ago, as part of departing his Harper's kick, gives Preznit Kumbaya one last, swift kick:
I had low expectations for Obama as I always viewed him as a fairly conventional insider. But by any measure, his presidency has been a huge disappointment. It’s true that Obama inherited a terrible economy, but his policies were timid — which is no surprise given that his economic team was composed almost entirely of the same bankers and Wall Street insiders who paved the way for and profited from our bubble economy. ...

Then there was the health care reform bill, that took more than a year to pass and whose primary beneficiaries were the lobbyists who got paid billions to water it down. The bill does almost nothing to control costs and left the insurance industry in charge of the system. And for that very reason, the industry will be able to contrive loopholes that minimize the impact of the few good measures left in the bill.

And, from that earlier column:
I recall a remark made by Studs Terkel in 1980, about the liberal Republican John Anderson, who was running as an independent against Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter: “People are so tired of dealing with two-foot midgets, you give them someone two foot four and they start proclaiming him a giant.” In the unstinting and unanimous adulation of Barack Obama today, one wonders if a similar dynamic might be at work.

I know that now, four years later, Silverstein at least isn't "wondering" about that dynamic.

Tom Friedman out-stupids himself

Taking off from his previous column about how he's found the real, centrist, "tea kettle movement," he now talks about how such a fictional critter could nominate a 2012 presidential candidate.

Friedman, among other stupidities (and, don't get me wrong, I'm not a backsliding Obama lover, all of a sudden), overlooks the Senate filibuster:
Obama probably did the best he could do, and that’s the point. The best our current two parties can produce today — in the wake of the worst existential crisis in our economy and environment in a century — is suboptimal, even when one party had a huge majority.

That's my emphasis, re Tommy Teapot ignoring the filibuster. X to block, Tommy!

That said, some of what Tommy Teapot says is true: Both the major parties are bankrupt. But, to have a centrist party, or so-called centrist party, split the difference between an already centrist party and a party tacking ever further rightward is the wrong prescription.

And, Tommy Teapot, looking for his Brooksian Teapot Bobos, is too stupid to understand that.

If you've heard the Big Three whine before ...

Stop me if you've heard the Big Three whine before ...

About the cost of meeting higher mileage standards. They're doing it again. And, likely about as honest with it as with all their previous whining of the past 30-40 years on environmental issues.

What's your odds on Generous Motors or Chrysler saying it will need another bailout if Obama pushes on this?

Ed Schultz gets it half right

Ed Schultz got it half right with his diatribe at the "One Nation" rally in DC. But, not much more than that:
In a fiery speech that opened the "One Nation Working Together" rally on the National Mall, Schultz blamed Republicans for shipping jobs overseas and curtailing freedoms. He borrowed some of conservative commentator Glenn Beck's rhetoric and vowed to "take back our country."

One problem, Ed? NAFTA? WTO, including starting the process of Chinese admission?

Who was president then?

Oh, yeah. Bill Clinton.

Whether or not we are losing more jobs rather than gaining, is besides the point. Plenty of Dems "participated" in the job outsourcing.

And, don't try to "go there" with the financial meltdown.

Who was president when Gramm-Leach-Bliley gutted Glass-Steagall? Oh, yeah. He even pushed for it. What percentage of Congressional Dems supported it? About 50 percent.

Don't go there on the meltdown, today, either.

Which presidential candidate got more Wall Street money in 2008?

Oh, yeah. Obama.

Fisher-Price and China

Congress addressing Chinese currency manipulation is "nice," but, it's posturing compared to yet the latest made-in-China dangerous crap issue - Fisher-Price toys.

The US recall includes some 11 million toys. Isn't that enough for Congress to do something?

Meanwhile, showing the length and strength of China's export muscle (and the currency issue as a sidebar). the recall extends to India.

And, safe toy crusader Edward Swartz may have died last month, but it's Fisher-Price that will "die" on his organization's upcoming 2010 list of Top 10 worst toys.

In addition to addressing Chinese manipulation of the yuan, isn't it time we insisted on inspecting products made there, before they even get put on a ship?

No, it may not move many toy jobs back to the U.S. But, it might, just might, force some U.S. toy companies to lower top exec salaries here if they're going to keep importing crap, rather than backing such a measure.

Take THAT, JPMorganChase (and other subprime banks)

Old Republic National Title says that, due to questions about how foreclosures have been processed, it's going to stop offering title insurance on JPMorganChase residential foreclosure properties.

Several notes:
1. This is not automatically good news for homeowners in foreclosure; JPMC can always go shopping for another insurer.
2. Even if this does motivate JPMC, along with Bank of America, which has also stopped foreclosures do to processing legality issues, and any other financiers that may wind up in the same spot, it's still not necessarily long-term good news for homeowners. These financiers may simply tack the costs of additional work onto the foreclosure process. Or, it could cause other problems:
Mark P. Stopa, a lawyer in Florida who represents defaulting homeowners, said that if more title insurance firms began to shy away from insuring foreclosed properties, the entire housing market could suffer. The prices of foreclosures would plummet, because lenders will not issue a new mortgage without title insurance.

“Judges have to force banks to do foreclosures correctly,” Mr. Stopa said. But that would require a significant increase in staff, he said, and “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

So will I, Mark, so will I.

We've already seen, whether in a state that requires judicial proceedings for foreclosure or ones where individual homeowners have been fighting back, that judges haven't really done this.

And, state legislatures, if any of this additional staff means additional judicial/legal staff, aren't going to like that idea anyway.