Month: September 2011

I’ve Had it With These Motherf%$#ing Republicans on This Motherf%$#ing Plane!M

Alligator 0, Snake 0, Let’s call it a tie.

The latest regulation that the Republicans are objecting to and trying to repeal, is one that literally forbids snakes on a plane.

I’m not kidding here. They are literally trying to roll back regulations on the transportation of snakes on airplanes:

Democrats and Republicans all agree that the nation needs to move on a jobs agenda. And Republicans have a new plan: unleash the reins of snake commerce.

GOP members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today called attention to a proposed regulation that would restrict the transportation and importation of nine types of snakes, including the Burmese Python.

In a new report entitled “Broken Government: How the Administrative State has Broken President Obama’s Promise of Regulatory Reform,” GOP members cited the proposed snake ban as one of seven examples of red tape choking off job growth in an already ailing economy.

One witness invited to testify, snake breeder David Barke, told lawmakers that the rules “threatens as many as a million law-abiding American citizens and their families with the penalty of a felony conviction for pursuing their livelihoods, for pursuing their hobby, or for simply moving with their pet to new state.”

Politico reports that Florida officials, led by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), are pushing for the new rules because the Everglades are under attack by 100,000 gigantic Burmese pythons who have been accidentally introduced by negligent pet owners. The outside invaders have been on a rampage, devouring native birds and other creatures. One python grew so big that it managed to devour a six-foot alligator before exploding. No really. This actually happened. There’s a photo.

No, this is not The Onion, and I wish that I didn’t live in a world where I cannot tell the difference between reality and satire.

Have I Mentioned that I Love Barney Frank?*

He’s calling for a major restructuring of the Federal Reserve:

U.S. Representative Barney Frank, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, is renewing a push to remove Federal Reserve regional presidents from voting on central bank interest-rate decisions.

Frank, of Massachusetts, will submit a new version of legislation to cut the voting rights of five rotating regional representatives from the 12-member Federal Open Markets Committee, he said today. The revision of Frank’s May proposal calls for replacing them with four presidential appointees, according to a position paper released by his office.

Eliminating regional presidents, who are selected by board members of their banks and approved by Fed governors, will make interest-rate votes more democratic, Frank said in the paper. The 7-3 vote at the last FOMC meeting in August underlined the need to replace the presidents, who have become a “significant constraint on national economic policy making,” he said.

Regional presidents “are neither elected nor appointed by officials who are themselves elected,” Frank wrote in the paper. “They are part of a self-perpetuating group of private citizens who select each other and who are treated as equals in setting federal monetary policy with officials appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.”

He’s right, of course. The regional Feds are not governmental organizations, they are quite literally owned by the regional banks they nominally regulate, and these people are therefore the employees of the regional banks.

Anything that to any degree takes any governmental (or in this quasi-governmental) agency out from under the thumb of the banksters is a good thing.

*In a 110% purely heterosexual kind of way, of course, as the General would say.

What’s the Pashtun Word for Tet?

Because the Taliban was all over Kabul today, and hit the US embassy:

Heavily armed insurgents wearing suicide vests struck Tuesday at two of the most prominent symbols of the American diplomatic and military presence in Kabul, the United States Embassy and the nearby NATO headquarters, demonstrating the Taliban’s ability to infiltrate even the most heavily fortified districts of the capital.

As the insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades, Westerners sought shelter — one rocket penetrated the embassy compound — and Afghan government workers fled their offices, emptying the city center. NATO and Afghan troops responded with barrages of bullets. At least 6 people were killed and 19 wounded.

Early Wednesday morning, occasional explosions could still be heard, and the Kabul police said they were continuing to count the number of dead insurgents. The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that it appeared that at least seven had entered the city. At least five took positions in a 14-story building under construction with clear sight lines to the targets.

As the gunfire pounded, loudspeakers at nearby embassies kept repeating: “This is not a drill, this is not a drill. If you are in a secure location, do not move.”

Winning hearts and minds much?

Another Nail in the Bank Sellout Settlement Deal Coffin

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has sent a letter to the Attorneys General of New York and Iowa (The Iowa AG is leading the negotiations) saying that any settlement that grants immunity to the banks on areas that have not been thoroughly investigated will be unacceptable to her:

In a letter sent to the attorneys general of New York and Iowa on Friday, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson said that banks shouldn’t be protected from liability in connection with the nationwide foreclosure settlement.

Swanson said that banks should not be released from liability for mortgage securitization, securities claims or the use of a mortgage registry known as MERS, Bloomberg News reported.

“The banks should not be released from liability for conduct that has not been investigated and is not appropriately remedied in any settlement,” Swanson wrote, according to Bloomberg News.

State and federal officials are negotiating a settlement with the five largest mortgage services in the U.S. – Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., JP Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc.

I think that it has become increasingly clear to people involved with the negotiations that Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and the Obama administration are primarily interested in shielding the banks, and creating the appearance rather than the reality of accountability for the banksters.

Note also that Swanson has some serious consumer protection cred, as she was the one who uncovered the fraudulent and self dealing behavior of the National Arbitration Forum, and forced the organization out of consumer arbitration.

I don’t think that there has been an outbreak of ethics in the case of the banks, it’s just that the AGs who oppose this deal realize that not only are the settlement talks a corrupt endeavor, but they are a transparently corrupt endeavor, and they don’t think that they can defend it to the voters.

Another Gift from the Austerity Confidence Fairy

Thankfully, it’s the UK, and not us, but this is unbelievably grim:

George Osborne’s austerity programme will cut the living standards of Britain’s families by more than 10% over the next three years as those on the lowest incomes suffer most from the tax increases and spending cuts designed to reduce the budget deficit.

A study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the UK’s leading experts on the public finances, concludes that the chancellor’s strategy will result in greater inequality and rising child poverty, throwing into reverse progress made in the final years of the last Labour government.

The bleak picture painted by the IFS will be used by opponents of the chancellor’s austerity measures to call for a plan B to generate faster economic growth. There is likely to be further pressure on Osborne on Monday as the head of his independent commission on banking, Sir John Vickers, outlines measures for banking reform.

I’m more of a cynic than the author, Larry Elliott, economics editor of The Guardian, because I believe that part of the reason that Osborne is supporting this is because of the, “greater inequality and rising child poverty, throwing into reverse progress made in the final years of the last Labour government.”

They are determined to roll back whatever minor progress occurred under Blair and Brown, and move back to where Thatcher and Major left the nation.

And once they’ve done that, they want to take Britain back to the Dickensian standards of the middle of the 19th century.

And the French Are Probably the Best in the World at Nuclear Safety

But they just had an explosion at their nuclear reprocessing facility in Marcoule:

One person has been killed and four injured, one seriously, in a blast at the Marcoule nuclear site in France.

There was no risk of a radioactive leak after the blast, caused by a fire near a furnace in the Centraco radioactive waste storage site, said officials.

The owner of the southern French plant, national electricity provider EDF, said it had been “an industrial accident, not a nuclear accident”.

The cause of the blast was not yet known, said the company.

This has not been a good year for nuclear power, but the idea of dismissing the recent problems with nuclear power (Japan, Virginia, and now France) as some sort of Black Swan event is not rational.

The problems, at least those in Japan and Virginia, the jury is out on Marcoule, are an artifact of old, under-designed nuclear facilities, not simply a triple witching day for nukes.

Bummer, But the Movies are a Business

A movie based on HP Lovecraft’s novella, At the Mountains of Madness, has been canceled:

The film-world was thrown into a frenzy yesterday regarding Universal’s cancellation of Guillermo del Toro’s personal passion project, a $150 million, R-rated adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. We live in an era where even the once-brave Warner Bros. has gone from the sort of studio that would roll the dice on The Matrix to the kind of studio that will likely reboot/remake The Matrix, where Pixar seems content to become a sequel factory (Cars 2, Monsters Inc 2), where studios are so terrified of big-budget originality that they seem to merely be parading an never-ending stream of unwanted sequels (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief: The Sea Monsters), needless remakes (Total Recall), and inexplicable ‘reboots’ (Tomb Raider), the news was the film-news equivalent of us lefties hearing that President Obama had caved into GOP budget demands… again. There are plenty of reasons why executives are reluctant to spend blockbuster-dollars on original ideas. But the (temporary?) death of At the Mountain of Madness isn’t quite representative of the end of original thought in Hollywood. But it is a good time to stop and ask why every major studio genre picture needs to cost to bloody much?

Film Blogger Scott Mendelson is right. When one considers the fact that this film would have to be almost exclusively CGI, and a decent Linux based server farm for the rendering would cost well under $50,000.00, the idea that you need spend $150M to make it is ludicrous.

After all, the 6 minute long CGI extravaganza short subject The Raven cost under $5000.00.

Simply put, this film would not make money unless it shattered box office records for the R-Rated horror genre:

The highest-grossing R-rated film of all-time is The Matrix Reloaded, at $742 million worldwide. After that, you get The Passion of the Christ ($611 million), Terminator 2: Judgment Day ($519 million), Troy ($497 million), Saving Private Ryan ($481 million), The Hangover ($467 million), The Matrix and Pretty Woman ( both $463 million), Gladiator ($457 million), The Last Samurai and 300 ( both $456 million), The Exorcist ($441 million), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine ($433 million), The Matrix Revolutions ($427 million), Sex and the City ($411 million), and The Bodyguard ($410 million – which is arguably why that one is getting remade). That’s just sixteen films in all of modern-motion picture history that have grossed $400 million or more worldwide with an R-rating. The second-highest-grossing R-rated horror film (after The Exorcist) remains Hannibal, with $351 million. I can’t even think of an insanely successful R-rated supernatural horror picture off the top of my head… can you? Point being, even with the once-surefire Tom Cruise allegedly at the helm, an R-rated $150 million supernatural horror film would basically have to become the most successful supernatural R-rated horror film of all-time just to break even.

(Emphasis mine.)

Could someone out in Hollywood explain to me why every film seems to have to cost something north of $100 million?

Even with PR and distribution costs, it seems to me that this could be a $50 million movie, and given the relative cheapness of modern CGI this is very doable, and at that cost, you might clear a profit on the initial theatrical release.

H/t (unsurprisingly) Cthulhu at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

It Looks Like I’m Not the Only One Bearish on Obama in 2012

A lot of Democrats are worried that toast in 2012:

Democrats are expressing growing alarm about President Obama’s re-election prospects and, in interviews, are openly acknowledging anxiety about the White House’s ability to strengthen the president’s standing over the next 14 months.

Elected officials and party leaders at all levels said their worries have intensified as the economy has displayed new signs of weakness. They said the likelihood of a highly competitive 2012 race is increasing as the Republican field, once dismissed by many Democrats as too inexperienced and conservative to pose a serious threat, has started narrowing to two leading candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, who have executive experience and messages built around job creation.

And in a campaign cycle in which Democrats had entertained hopes of reversing losses from last year’s midterm elections, some in the party fear that Mr. Obama’s troubles could reverberate down the ballot into Congressional, state and local races.

“In my district, the enthusiasm for him has mostly evaporated,” said Representative Peter A. DeFazio, Democrat of Oregon. “There is tremendous discontent with his direction.”

The president’s economic address last week offered a measure of solace to discouraged Democrats by employing an assertive and scrappy style that many supporters complain has been absent for the last year as he has struggled to rise above Washington gridlock. Several Democrats suggested that he watch a tape of the jobs speech over and over and use it as a guide until the election.

At it’s core, the problem is that people who choose a bad something over a not-bad nothing.
The money quote is that, “Polling suggests that the president’s yearlong effort to reclaim the political center has so far yielded little in the way of additional support from the moderates and independents who tend to decide presidential elections.”

There is another name for these voters, low information voters.  They don’t tend to vote on policies, they don’t vote on “changing the tone”, and while they may tell pollsters that they don’t like all that partisanship, they say that because they don’t think what it means.

These are voters who vote on buzz, and the buzz is generated by the bases, to the benefit Reagan and Bush II, and to the detriment of Carter and Bush I.

If the phrase “Sane Republican” had not become an oxymoron, and if the Republican party were not determined to alienate Hispanic voters, he would have no chance at all.

If one is inclined to look on the brighter side, it should be noted that it would be much less politically tenable for a ‘Phant to gut social security and Medicare.  (It’s an “Only Nixon could go to China” thing)

Osama bin Laden Won

OK, it’s the 10th anniversary of 911, and looking back, I can draw no other conclusion.

As a result of the events of that day we are:

  • Embroiled in two ruinously expensive wars, neither of which has any meaningful end in sight.
  • Have no money for even the most basic infrastructure.
  • Have set up a state security apparatus that is structured, and frequently functions, as the core pillar of a police state.
  • Have convinced the generation after mine that the idea of a unipolar world, with US military and Hegemony is foolish.
  • Has turned us into torturers.
  • Has set to policies that create more terrorists.
  • Has massively expanded and radicalized, the right wing.

I would suggest that anyone who hasn’t read Eric Frank Russell’s magnum opus Wasp, in which a man is sent to be an agent provocateur on the planet of an empire at war with Earth, and his mission is not to collect intelligence or do damage, but rather to provoke an overreaction by the authorities:

“Phew!” Mowry raised his eyebrows.

“Finally, let’s consider this auto smash. We know the cause; the survivor was able to tell us before he died. He said the driver lost control at high speed while swiping at a wasp which had flown in through a window and started buzzing around his face.”

“It nearly happened to me once.”

Ignoring that, Wolf went on, “The weight of a wasp is under half an ounce. Compared with a human being its size is minute, its strength negligible. Its sole armament is a tiny syringe holding a drop of irritant, formic acid, and in this case it didn’t even use it. Nevertheless it killed four big men and converted a large, powerful car into a heap of scrap.”


“However,” Wolf went on, “the problem becomes less formidable than it looks if we bear in mind that one man can shake a government, two men temporarily can put down an army twenty-seven thousands strong, or one small wasp can slay four comparative giants and destroy their huge machine into the bargain.” He paused, watching the other for effect, continued, “Which means that by scrawling suitable words upon a wall, the right man in the right place at the right time might immobilize an armoured division with the aid of nothing more than a piece of chalk.”

The country has changed, and none of these changes to our benefit, and none of them were really required, but rather the product of mindless over-reaction.

We are those drivers in that doomed car.

It’s Bank Failure Friday!!!! (Much Delayed)

I didn’t do anything over the past two weeks, because 2 weeks ago, there were none, and last week, I was busy getting ready for the SCA event, but there were 2 failures on the 2nd, and 1 this past Friday.

And here they are, ordered, and numbered for the year so far.

  1. Patriot Bank of Georgia,Cumming, GA
  2. CreekSide Bank,Woodstock, GA
  3. First National Bank of Florida,Milton, FL

Full FDIC list

So, here is the graph pr0n with last years numbers for comparison (FDIC only):

It looks like it’s going to be a lot less than 2011, but it’s still gonna be a really bad year.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Alphonse “Da Woim” D’amato Wants the Banks Prosecuted

He’s come out against the big banks and for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman:

New York state’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is making national news regarding his opposition to a nationwide $20 billion foreclosure settlement involving some of the largest banks over questionable foreclosure practices and mortgage abuses.

While I didn’t support Schneiderman in the 2010 election, he deserves to be applauded for standing up to the big banks and some of the questionable practices that have attributed to America’s economic downturn.

Last Oct. 13, the attorneys general from all 50 states announced that they would join forces to investigate the bank foreclosure practices after there were several reports of faulty documents being used in the seizure of homes. Thirteen of the attorneys general serve on an executive committee, working with the Department of Justice and various other federal agencies to negotiate a settlement with the five largest mortgage servicers in the United States: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial.

Shaun Donovan, the secretary of housing and urban development, and other members of the Obama administration have been pressuring Schneiderman to go along with and support the settlement. It has been an intense campaign to change our attorney general’s mind.

Schneiderman has held his ground, and throughout the negotiations maintained the belief that the proposed $20 billion, which would mostly be designated to pay for loan modifications instead of going directly to Americans who were harmed by the banks’ practices, was not enough money. Also, if the banks and executive committee reached an agreement, it would prevent any further litigation or investigations against the large banks.

As a result of Schneiderman’s holdout, on Aug. 24 it was reported that he was “removed from a leadership role in negotiating a nationwide foreclosure settlement with U.S. banks.”
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who is heading the executive committee, accused Schneiderman of “actively working to undermine the very same multistate group that it had spent the previous nine months working very closely with.”

Bravo, Mr. Attorney General!


By pressuring the attorneys general’s executive committee to pass this fruitless proposal, President Obama and his administration are allowing the big banks, generous campaign contributors, to once again get away unscathed for their chancy and untrustworthy practices. In times like these, we need leaders like Schneiderman to challenge the big banks, making sure that victims receive justice and restitution and that overall reform changes the mortgage industry.

To allow a settlement to be reached that hinders future investigations into large banks’ foreclosure and mortgage practices is criminal. Fight on, Mr. Attorney General.

I don’t think that Mr. D’Amato’s motives are completely benign: As a Republican, he has vested interest in criticizing the Obama administration, and has never been particularly interested in pursuing corruption.

What he does know is how to pander to his constituents, and he clearly sees the enthusiastic embrace of Wall Street, and explicit toleration of its endemic corruption, by the Obama administration to be a political miss-step.

I agree, and I would further add that it’s also good policy, as we are creating moral hazard by not prosecuting the banksters.

Well, Here’s Some Good News

‘Phant John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has decided that it’s too politically costly to shut down the FAA over his desire for union busting:

Unions were breathing a sigh of relief Friday morning after House Republicans punted a contentious anti-union issue preventing funding for the Federal Aviation Administration to the end of December, providing back pay to agency workers and giving opponents more time to organize and fight GOP-backed anti-labor provisions.

Rep. John Mica (R-FL), who chairs the the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced a clean short-term extension of the FAA through December providing back pay to workers who were furloughed for nearly two weeks during a partial shutdown of the agency earlier this month. House GOP leaders plan to vote on the bill next week.

The extension, which cuts the agency’s overall budget by 5 percent, will be the 22nd for the agency since 2007, the last time Congress passed a full authorization bill. In the intervening years, Congress has failed to pass the measure over a dispute about modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system, but this year, the real sticking point for Democrats, was a GOP demand to change recently instituted federal labor regulation that made it easier for unions to organize at airline companies.

My guess is that some of his constituents at his town meetings gave him an earful over his union busting resulting in the layoffs of thousands of workers.

The next stage for the Dems should be to figure out why he folded, and rinse, lather, and repeat, but they won’t.

The Term for This Is Chillul Hashem*

In this case, it’s “Rabbi” Moshe Zigelman, who is refusing to testify in a money laundering and tax evasion trial:

As U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow contemplated federal law from her bench Wednesday morning, more than a dozen ultra-orthodox Jewish men with yarmulkes and sidelocks looked on in the courtroom. One held open a gilt-edged, elaborately embossed copy of the Shulchan Aruch, a book of Jewish law, tracing lines of the Hebrew text with his finger.

Appearing before the judge was Rabbi Moshe Zigelman, a 64-year-old devout Hasid who was refusing to testify before a federal grand jury, citing an ancient Jewish principle that forbids informing on other Jews.

Zigelman was ordered to testify in a tax-evasion case involving his Brooklyn-based Hasidic sect Spinka. He had earlier invoked the same principle, known as mesira, when he pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme in 2008 but refused to cooperate with authorities or testify in trial. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

What was going on here is that they were accepting “donations”, which the donors declared on their taxes, and then, after taking about 10-20% vigorish, they funneled funds back to the donors via an Israeli bank.(Wiki here)

First, lets be clear that clergy privilege does not apply here. This creep was a co-conspirator, not someone providing counseling.

What’s more, according to Shmarya Rosenberg’s excellent analysis, as well as those of normative Jewish scholars, mesira does not apply:

There are textbook exceptions to mesira even for those who hold that mesira applies in a democracy.

One of those exceptions is when the government knows certain people are guilty but needs testimony from one of them or another Jew to convict or capture the others. (In other words, there is a difference between speculation and knowledge.

Another exception is when refusing to give the government the information makes it seem as if Jews (or Orthodox Jews) do not follow or respect the country’s laws.

Hasidim use mesira to hide crimes and to enforce order in their communities.

It has nothing to do with the original intent of the mesira law, which was meant to save Jews from unjust punishments meted out by antisemitic governments, and from the unscrupulous Jews who used informing to hurt business opponents and social enemies, to extort them, and to gain favor from antisemitic government officials.

But in a democracy like the US, the fear of antisemitic unjust punishments does not apply.

The law of mesira would then only apply to spiteful informing done to settle personal grudges and the like, and it would not apply if the government was already convinced the subject is guilty.

In Rabbi Moshe Zigelman’s case, the government already knows Zigelman is guilty of money laundering, and it has already put the Spinka rebbe and others in prison. And it knows there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other co-conspirators, and it knows many of their names.

This is actually far more charitable than I would be.

Zigelman is not just a witness, he is an active co-conspirator, who is using mesira to cover his own corrupt tuchas.

It is also, of course a Shanda before the Goyim, in that it allows the antisemites of the world to claim that Jews consider themselves above the law and cover up for each other.

This makes a mockery of the concept of Or LaGoyim,, which stipulates that Jews are to be held to higher standards, and not cover up each others corruption.

*Literally, a ““Desecration of God’s Name.”
Light unto the nations.

I Didn’t Know that Moose Went to UMass

Because this story brings back some memories:

A man in western Sweden came home from work Tuesday night to find a drunken moose stuck in his neighbor’s tree.

The moose had apparently climbed part way up into the tree to reach an apple where it became stuck with only one hoof on the ground and the other three up in the tree, tangled in the limbs and branches of the tree.

When Per Johansson arrived home from work, he told reporters that he heard a bellowing noise coming from his neighbor’s yard.

I don’t think that I ever got that drunk at UMass, I was medically prohibited from drinking during my sojourn there, but I certainly dealt with people who were that drunk.

H/t Littledog at the Stellar Parthenon BBS.

Pimping My Brother’s Blog

That’s the Chicago Way

My older (and even hairier, as unbelievable as it seems) brother segues off my report of the Republican party in Gabrielle Giffords district raffling off the same sort of gun that she was shot with to observe that this behavior will get worse unless their opposition goes after the for this:

What I found interesting was one section of a quote here that Miller made about the reactionary bloc, who he described as being:

“…’my way or the highway’ wing of the GOP who don’t pay much thought  to the political fallout [emphasis added] from their actions…”

This is a “curious incident of the dog in the night-time” (The Silver Blaze).

There is no fallout.

There is no a concerted campaign to broadcast and hammer this sort of actions, despite the fact this tactic has been so successful for the reactionary bloc.

Where are the adds from the DNC, MoveOn, and rest of the ‘progressive’ community calling this out, pointing out that this sort of behavior is the core of the political right.

It is the same point that Sean Connery makes in The Untouchables.

I share his pessimism that, “this idea doesn’t seem to percolate through the skulls of people who think community organizing, or triangulation, or patronage is the peak of politics. So we drift on unarmed.”

Until we find people who understand the idea that all negotiations stem from perceived power, and Barack Obama is not one of these people, we will continue to have the “Adults in the room” held hostage by the terrorists.

And the Daily Show Writers Rejoice

Yes, the wife of wrestling magnate Jim McMahon, Linda, following a failed campaign in which she dumped millions of her husbands dollars on a epically failed campaign for the Senate in 2010, has decided to run again for the Connecticut Senate seat:

Linda E. McMahon, the wrestling mogul who spent $50 million of her own money in an aggressive but failed Senate run in Connecticut last year, will announce in the coming week that she will try again, according to two Republicans who are close to her.

Ms. McMahon, the two Republicans said, will seek the party nomination next year for the seat being vacated by Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and who announced that he would not run for re-election. They requested anonymity to avoid being seen as upstaging Ms. McMahon’s announcement.

Her candidacy has the potential to alter the calculations of other candidates and potential candidates, if only because she has demonstrated an ability to finance a statewide campaign with little difficulty.

In last year’s Senate race, Ms. McMahon built a formidable political organization in just months and then led a hard-charging campaign that transformed a political newcomer into a highly visible figure in the state.

In the end, however, Ms. McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, lost to Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.

This time, Ms. McMahon plans to raise money from private donors instead of relying strictly on her own money, according to one Republican close to her. She decided to take this approach partly because of criticism last year that she was using her wealth to buy herself a seat in the Senate, the Republican said.

And because she understands the concept of throwing good money after bad, so she is looking for some useful idiots.

Still the comedic possibilities are endless.

It’s Jobless Thursday, and the Numbers Suck Again

With initial claims worse than forecast, with an increase to 414,000 initial applications, with the 4 week moving average rising as well, though continuing claims fell slightly.

When you look at this, and a weak Beige Book from the Fed, and the fact that there were absolutely no jobs created in August, the idea that we are in any sort of recovery is laughable.

We’re in a deflationary spiral, and the already inadequate stimulus has been on the down slope for over 6 months, and somehow or other people believe that the austerity fairy will solve things, when it’s actually going to make it worse.

Cheesehead Jim Crow

Wisconsin passes a voter ID law, which included a provision for a free voter ID card, and now the head of the Wisconsin DOT has instructed his staff to do their best to conceal this fact from potential voters:

An internal memo from a top Department of Transportation official instructs workers at Division of Motor Vehicles service centers not to tell members of the public that they can obtain voter identification cards free of charge — unless they know to ask for it.

The memo, recently obtained by The Capital Times, was written by Steve Krieser and sent to all state Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles employees on July 1, the same day employees were to begin issuing photo IDs in accordance with a controversial new voter photo ID law adopted earlier in the year.

As laid out in the memo, failure to check a box when applying for photo ID with the Division of Motor Vehicles will result in the payment of $28. Interviews conducted about the memo suggest the state is more interested in continuing to charge the fee, which is required for a photo ID used for non-voting purposes, than it is in removing all barriers and providing easy access to a free, photo ID.

“While you should certainly help customers who come in asking for a free ID to check the appropriate box, you should refrain from offering the free version to customers who do not ask for it,” Krieser writes to employees.

Like this is not a blatant attempt at voter suppression.

As to “Bull” Kreiser’s response when the story broke, he’s saying that:

In the meantime, Krieser says the Department of Transportation is planning to place signs at each of the DMV service offices that say people need to check the box on the form in order to receive an ID for free. He says the signs are “in the design phase” and could not give a date when they would be placed in DMV offices.

My guess is that there some serious typography issues here, so it will be 2022 before the signs are ready.

A family friend of ours grew up in Mississippi, and is old enough to remember the literacy tests.

Hers was straight forward, a simple section of the Mississippi constitution, and when she finished, the clerk says with a smile, “You should see the ones [section] we use for the n*****s.”

This feels just the same.

I’m Glad to Know that I am Not Alone

It appears that Matt Taibbi feels the same way:

I was in an airport in Florida yesterday and was forced into a terrible, Sophie’s Choice-type choice.

I was hours early for a flight and stuck in a relatively small terminal crammed with people. Only one area in the whole wing had empty seats; an unused gate that contained a TV blaring the CNN broadcast of Obama’s Labor Day speech at full volume.

So it was either sit underneath a full-volume broadcast of our fearless president bellowing out his latest hollow promises, or the hellish alternative: retreat to gates full of screaming five year-old children, all of them jacked up on sugar and bawling their eyes out because it was the end of Labor Day weekend and their cruel parents were dragging them home from Disneyworld.

I ended up choosing the screaming children. The one open seat in a nearby gate was next to an extended family of Indian tourists. A four year-old boy from that group wearing a cape and brandishing a plastic light saber thought it was funny when he kept saber-swiping at my knees. But sitting through that was better than having to listen to Obama drape himself in Harry Trumanisms and talk about “shared prosperity.”

The interesting thing here is that I get the sense that Taibbi actually feels a sense of betrayal, while I’ve been down on Obama since 2007, so I can’t say that he ever raised my hopes, which makes my visceral distaste for him a bit more puzzling.