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Archive for August 5th, 2011

Late Late Night FDL: Count Me Out

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:48 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Count Me Out
Sasha le Fleur (Sheena Easton) — Count Me Out, from the movie All Dogs Go To Heaven 2.

Sasha le Fleur (Sheena Easton) — Count Me Out, from the movie All Dogs Go To Heaven 2.

What’s on your mind?

?

Coming soon, the Two-Percent solution
I guess sometimes dreams really do come true.

And it may very well be soylent green. Or it may be their approval rating.

pic from Unalienable Rights by our Creator- not congress at flickr.com

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I’m sure though, with the White House’s impressive negotiating skills, they’ll settle for zombie apocalypse.

Oh boy, and we get the jobs report today — and things are great all over.


Sales of Luxury Items Are Soaring

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

Sales of Luxury Items Are Soaring
The stock market is up about 80 percent from the recession low in 2009, and America’s rich are back to dropping thousands on shoes, bags and other luxury items. Stores selling luxury items—Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and Gucci to name a few—were reportedly hit harder than other retailers in the recession. But now sales are soaring, so much so that many of those retailers are marking items up to attract more customers who equate price with quality. But while the notion of spending so freely and exorbitantly is beyond the imagination of the average American, the rich are thought to contribute disproportionately to economic growth. So as long as they keep buying Louboutins and Porsches, the effects of their spending on the economy should eventually trickle down to Main Street. —BF The New York Times: The success luxury retailers are having in selling $250 Ermenegildo Zegna ties and $2,800 David Yurman pavé rings — the kind encircled with small precious stones — stands in stark contrast to the retailers who cater to more average Americans. Apparel stores are holding near fire sales to get people to spend. Wal-Mart is selling smaller packages because some shoppers do not have enough cash on hand to afford multipacks of toilet paper. Retailers from Victoria’s Secret to the Children’s Place are nudging prices up by just pennies, worried they will lose customers if they do anything more. While the free spending of the affluent may not be of much comfort to people who are out of jobs or out of cash, the rich may contribute disproportionately to the overall economic recovery. “This group is key because the top 5 percent of income earners accounts for about one-third of spending, and the top 20 percent accounts for close to 60 percent of spending,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. “That was key to why we suffered such a bad recession — their spending fell very sharply.” Read more

The stock market is up about 80 percent from the recession low in 2009, and America’s rich are back to dropping thousands on shoes, bags and other luxury items.

Stores selling luxury items—Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and Gucci to name a few—were reportedly hit harder than other retailers in the recession. But now sales are soaring, so much so that many of those retailers are marking items up to attract more customers who equate price with quality.

But while the notion of spending so freely and exorbitantly is beyond the imagination of the average American, the rich are thought to contribute disproportionately to economic growth. So as long as they keep buying Louboutins and Porsches, the effects of their spending on the economy should eventually trickle down to Main Street. —BF

The New York Times:

The success luxury retailers are having in selling $250 Ermenegildo Zegna ties and $2,800 David Yurman pavé rings — the kind encircled with small precious stones — stands in stark contrast to the retailers who cater to more average Americans.

Apparel stores are holding near fire sales to get people to spend. Wal-Mart is selling smaller packages because some shoppers do not have enough cash on hand to afford multipacks of toilet paper. Retailers from Victoria’s Secret to the Children’s Place are nudging prices up by just pennies, worried they will lose customers if they do anything more.

While the free spending of the affluent may not be of much comfort to people who are out of jobs or out of cash, the rich may contribute disproportionately to the overall economic recovery.

“This group is key because the top 5 percent of income earners accounts for about one-third of spending, and the top 20 percent accounts for close to 60 percent of spending,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. “That was key to why we suffered such a bad recession — their spending fell very sharply.”

Read more

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Congressional Approval Tanks: What Can Turn It Around?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Congressional Approval Tanks: What Can Turn It Around?
This article has been updated to include a new New York Times/CBS News poll released Thursday night. WASHINGTON — The new CNN/ORC International poll conducted…

Steven Weber: Snap Out Of It!
To buy into the writ-in-crayon meme of Obama having “let us down” or that he is in any way “less than what we hoped he would be” makes us into the slobbering chumps we have characterized our opposition to be.

How John Boehner Got The Votes For The Debt Ceiling Deal
WASHINGTON — Speaker John Boehner was desperate in his search for votes from his party to prevent a first-ever government default. But despite what a…

WATCH: Obama’s ‘Pivot’ To Jobs: The Deja Vu Reel
Now that the debate over raising the nation’s debt ceiling has been temporarily resolved, the White House has pledged, once again, to “pivot” to jobs….

David Woolner: Forgetting Lessons of Keynes and FDR Brings On the ‘Obama Recession’
When FDR ignored the Keynesian tenet that cutting spending in a downturn spells disaster, he paid dearly. Obama is set to relearn this lesson the hard way.


Right-Wing Blogosphere Pretends Palin Invented Bus Tours

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Right-Wing Blogosphere Pretends Palin Invented Bus Tours

Right-wing blogs are claiming that in planning a bus tour to the Midwest later this month, President Obama has “copie[d]” Sarah Palin, who embarked on a bus tour earlier this year. In fact, Obama went on a bus tour during his 2008 campaign, and for decades sitting presidents and presidential candidates have traveled the nation by bus.

Right-Wing Blogs: Obama Bus Tour “Copies Palin” …

Fox Nation: “Obama Copies Palin, Plans Bus Tour.” Fox Nation announced the news of President Obama’s bus tour with the following headline:

Fox Nation Obama Copies Palin

[Fox Nation, 8/3/11]

Doug Powers: Obama Is “Taking A Page From Sarah Palin.” Conservative blogger Doug Powers wrote on Michelle Malkin’s website that Obama is “[t]aking a page from Sarah Palin’s rolling menace,” and accompanied his post with the following picture:

Powers Bus Tour

[MichelleMalkin.com, 8/3/11]

The Blaze Asks If Obama Is A “Copycat” For “Palin-esque” Bus Tour. In a post headlined “Copycat? Obama Admin Plans To Address Economy With Palin-Esque Midwest Bus Tour,” Glenn Beck’s blog The Blaze reported: “If you haven’t heard yet, let us be the first to inform you: President Obama is planning to set out on a Sarah Palin-esque bus tour throughout the Midwest.” [The Blaze, 8/3/11]

… But Presidents And Presidential Candidates Have Long Toured America By Bus

Obama Toured Pennsylvania By Bus In 2008. On March 24, 2008, The Boston Globe reported:

After a brief respite in the Virgin Islands, a rally in North Carolina, and a little fund-raising in New York, Barack Obama returns to Pennsylvania Friday for a six-day bus tour, his campaign announced today. 

[…] 

The bus tour kicks off in Western Pennsylvania, home to Pittsburgh, and concludes in the southeast part of the state, where Philadelphia is located. [The Boston Globe, 3/24/08] 

McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” Bus Tours Were Regular Feature Of Both 2000 and 2008 Campaigns. CNN’s Candy Crowley reported on March 15, 2007: 

The bus is back.

Sen. John McCain has revived the “Straight Talk Express,” the campaign conveyance made famous in his 2000 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, for his new run. The Arizona lawmaker was back on board Thursday afternoon, hitting town-hall meetings in Iowa, the scene of the first caucuses of the 2008 GOP campaign. 

“I’m still the same candidate I was — little bit older, but still the same candidate,” he said. “We’re still having fun. We’re still on the bus, still having the town hall meetings in the same way that we were before, and I’m convinced we’re doing fine.” [CNN.com, 3/15/07]

Bush Toured By Bus in 2000 And 2004. The Los Angeles Times reported on President Bush’s 2004 bus tour:

Shadowing his political rival, President Bush will forsake Air Force One next week and campaign by bus in Michigan and Ohio, two key battleground states.

News outlets in Iowa and Wisconsin reported that Bush’s bus tour would stop later next week in those states, but the White House refused to confirm the reports.

[…]

As a presidential candidate in 2000, Bush campaigned occasionally by bus. Next week’s bus tour, though, would be his first as president. [Los Angeles Times, 4/29/04]

Kerry Also Toured Midwest By Bus In 2004. The Chicago Tribune reported on 2004 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) bus tour: 

As Kerry undertook a final weekend of grass-roots campaigning before an expected running mate announcement this week, his Midwest bus trip was meant to make him look real, not part of Washington. 

[…] 

After Kerry traveled through northern Minnesota and western Wisconsin on Friday, his three-day bus trip took him to the river’s banks Saturday as part of a 546-mile journey that will end Sunday evening in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. [Chicago Tribune, 7/4/04

Clinton Toured The Pacific Northwest In 1996 On A Bus. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer reported: “Winding up their Pacific Northwest campaign bus trip, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore came to Portland to brag about their efforts to streamline the federal government over the past three years.” [CNN.com, 9/20/96

Clinton Also Toured By Bus In 1992. The New York Times reported:

“We interrupt ‘Family Feud’ to bring you special coverage,” a sober-voiced announcer alerted viewers of WKBT-TV, the CBS affiliate in western Wisconsin.

Was it a war? Was it a tornado? A major address from the Oval Office?

It was Gov. Bill Clinton’s made-for-television bus tour, rolling from local media market to media market. The caravan was more than an hour late getting from its hotel to a 9 A.M. rally Friday at a park in La Crosse, Wis., but that did not stop the station from going live for the next 90 minutes.

It was the sort of abundant and friendly coverage that no paid commercial could match. The Bill Clinton-Al Gore bus tour is, in essence, a free commercial on wheels. At every stop and in between on their three-day trip zigzagging up the Mississippi River, the Democrats were showered with largely uncritical and often downright enthusiastic reports from television, radio and newspapers. Seeing Wave of Future

Riding the bus may seem like a throwback, but Democrats say it is the wave of the future in Presidential campaigns. [The New York Times, 8/9/92]

Bob Dole Toured New Jersey By Bus In 1996. The New York Times reported: “In what would be his first bus tour in this campaign season, Bob Dole plans to roll through New Jersey on Monday and Tuesday in hopes of building support among swing voters and securing his Republican base in the state, campaign aides said.” [The New York Times, 10/2/96]

George H.W. Bush Toured Illinois On A Bus In 1988. The New York Times reported: “Vice President Bush traveled by bus through central Illinois today, trying to convince crowds in one town after another that Gov. Michael S. Dukakis is a liberal. … The 120-mile tour highlighted the importance of Illinois and the closeness of the race for the state’s 24 electoral votes.” [The New York Times, 9/29/88]

Reagan Campaigned By Bus In 1980. New York magazine reported that Reagan took “a hectic ten-stop bus tour through the eerily snowless hills of New Hampshire on February 5.” [New York, 2/25/80

During 1960 Democratic Primary, JFK, Hubert Humphrey Toured West Virginia By Bus. From a Huntington Advertiser article:

Sen. Humphrey, also paying a return visit to the Mountain State, took off from Charleston early this morning in a chartered bus with “Here Comes Humphrey” on the front. Humphrey in full and explosive oratorical form despite scores of whistle-stop talks lately, is making a two-day tour of West Virginia’s mountains and valleys. His route will be through coal-mining sections of the state’s central and northeastern parts, and into the Eastern Panhandle, an area of orchards and poultry farms.

Kennedy is making a three-day bus tour. It will take him across the southern coal fields to Bluefield, on the Virginia border, then northeast through the bluegrass farming country of the placid Greenbrier Valley. The senator will wind up in Charles Town on Wednesday evening, a day behind Humphrey. [Huntington Advertiser, 4/25/60]


Key Former News Of The World Editor Arrested Over Phone Hacking Scandal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Key Former News Of The World Editor Arrested Over Phone Hacking Scandal
British police have arrested another key figure in connection with the News Of The World phone hacking scandal, taking former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner into custody Tuesday.

Political Action Committee To Defeat Barack Obama As Soon As They Spell His Name Correctly
A newly formed political action committee aimed at defeating President Barack Obama took in $9,780.00 in just a few months. And they didn’t even have to spell his name right.


IRS Revokes Tax-Exempt Status For Group That Calls Gay Rights ‘Demonic Manipulation’
The IRS has revoked the tax-exempt status of Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), a group whose leader once said that gay rights is “Satan’s point of attack on the United States of America.”


Postcards from the GOP Edge: Perry for President

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

Postcards from the GOP Edge: Perry for President


Is Romney The Only Chance For Republicans?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Is Romney The Only Chance For Republicans?
Tom Jensen looks at a number of Public Policy Polling surveys on the presidential race from swing states Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, Virginia and North Carolina, finding one trend that stands out almost across the board: Mitt Romney is the only Republican who can beat President Obama.

“A broad theme has been emerging in our state by state Presidential polling over the last couple months: if the Republicans nominate Mitt Romney it’s a toss up. And if they nominate anyone else it’s 2008 all over again… Voters disliking the Republican candidates really is a vital component of Obama’s horse race numbers holding up as well as they are even as his approval numbers struggle. It remains to be seen whether he can really get reelected by being the lesser of two evils or if the election will end up being solely a referendum on him regardless of who the GOP puts forward.”


Are Trader Joe’s Frozen Gnocchi and Teriyaki Chicken Destroying Western Civilization?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Are Trader Joe’s Frozen Gnocchi and Teriyaki Chicken Destroying Western Civilization?
Cooking competence no longer matters. That’s a good and a bad thing.

How JP Morgan Took Over All Kentucky’s Financial Services, And Why You Should Be Scared
One of the major players in the global financial crisis is now in charge of all financial transactions in an entire state. Could this spread?

Behind The Scenes With The Reporter Who Took Down Murdoch
"Even though his reputation has suffered, he still has the objective tools of power," says Nick Davies, the Guardian reporter who broke the Murdoch phone hacking story.


The Republic After Obama

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

The Republic After Obama
Hannah Arendt characterized politics as a realm of “speech-acts,” in which words are close enough to deeds so that the words aren’t evasive or empty and the deeds aren’t mindless or brutal. In April our national orchestra of high-minded opinion…

The Hostage Crisis Continues: Why Obama Can’t Pivot to Jobs and Growth
With the hostage crisis behind him, the President is now ready to talk about the nation’s real problem. Nine paragraphs into his remarks today announcing the nation has paid most of the ransom the radical right demanded as a condition…

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Morning CheckUp: August 5, 2011

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 5th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Morning CheckUp: August 5, 2011
Trigger cuts could be put off: “[T]he first triggered spending cuts wouldn’t happen until January 2013, after a Presidential and Congressional election. The risk is that the Joint Committee fails to reach agreement and the election happens. With or without a new political configuration in DC, policymakers in both parties might look at the now-looming […]

Trigger cuts could be put off: “[T]he first triggered spending cuts wouldn’t happen until January 2013, after a Presidential and Congressional election. The risk is that the Joint Committee fails to reach agreement and the election happens. With or without a new political configuration in DC, policymakers in both parties might look at the now-looming spending cuts and agree, “We can’t allow a 10% cut in defense, an 8% cut in education and health research spending, and a 2% cut in Medicare to take effect next month. That’s too sharp and severe of a cut. Let’s renegotiate a new 10-year budget deal and change the law.” [Keith Hennessey]

Sen. Casey introduced abortion measures: One bill seeks to codify the Hyde Amendment, which currently exists as an amendment to annual appropriations bills and forbids federal funding of abortion care for women in need, except in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, and where the life of the pregnant woman is in danger. The other is a conscience clause bill, purporting to “prohibit the discrimination and retaliation against individuals and health care entities that refuse to recommend, refer for, provide coverage for, pay for, provide, perform, assist, or participate in abortions.” [RH Reality Check]

Camp, Upton endorse waiver requests: Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton endorsed Michigan’s request to waive a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance plans to spend 80 percent of their premiums on medical costs. [Sam Baker]

Cigna sees earning spike: “Health insurer Cigna Corp.’s second-quarter earnings rose a better-than-expected 39%, helped by growing membership and a continued trend of light health-care usage that has broadly helped earnings in the managed-care sector this year.” [WSJ]

Modest decline in Part D premiums: In 2012, the average Medicare premium seniors pay for their prescription drugs will actually drop slightly to about $30 from $30.76 paid out on average in 2011. [US News]

Health advocates urge feds to reject Utah’s Medicaid privatization plan: The state wants to move Medicaid patients “into managed care networks that would be paid a fixed amount per patient and would share in any leftovers or absorb any losses.” But if anticipated savings don’t materialize, “Utah proposes to ration care by cutting services. Also, providers would be free to charge patients $40 deductibles and co-payments ranging from $15 for inappropriate use of emergency rooms to $220 for hospital stays — the highest in the nation.” [Salt Lake Tribune]

External appeal: “Seventeen states and the District of Columbia will have to use an HHS-administered process or independent review organization process for external appeals because they don’t have laws that meet HHS’ standards of consumer protections.” [Inside Health Policy]

Providers going digital: “Tens of thousands of healthcare providers have signed up for federal electronic health-record system incentive payment programs that have paid hundreds of millions of dollars this year.” The initiative is authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. [Modern Healthcare]

Conservative Republican Rep. Lankford Admits The Economy Is ?Doomed? Without Government Spending
One of the tenets of right-wing rhetoric in the United States is to reject the idea that the government should spend money in a down economy to kickstart growth and create jobs. But during an appearance on Dylan Ratigan’s MSNBC show last week, conservative Republican Rep. James Lankford (OK) appeared to deviate from this ideology. […]

Is Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) a closet Keynesian?

One of the tenets of right-wing rhetoric in the United States is to reject the idea that the government should spend money in a down economy to kickstart growth and create jobs. But during an appearance on Dylan Ratigan’s MSNBC show last week, conservative Republican Rep. James Lankford (OK) appeared to deviate from this ideology.

Lankford informed Ratigan of a list of things he believes grow the economy, and one of the elements for growth he listed was government spending, even going as far as to say that if “we’re hammered” in that area — meaning we don’t have enough government spending — we’re “doomed”:

LANKFORD: An economy grows based on its own consumption, based on investment, based on government spending, and based on trade. And if we’re hammered on all of those, we’re doomed.

Watch it:

It is refreshing to see Lankford break with the ultra-conservative orthodoxy of his political party. One would hope he would back up his words with his votes in the future.