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September 9, 2011

eric cantor is craven

I'm going to use the space I ordinarily devote to making fun of David Brooks to relate that while doing a little morning cleaning, I heard a quote from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a politician I can't pretend not to despise, appearing on CBS' "The Early Show", making noises that sounded suspiciously like sentences explaining that the American people really want Congress to set their differences aside and look for bipartisan solutions.  This was a bit of a shock, see, because Cantor was the prime actor in the brinkmanship over the debt ceiling that made the United States look like one of the Three Stooges (Larry, I'd guess) to the rest of the world.  Remember?  Remember the little shit storming out of negotiations?

I had to stop the cleaning and look for something to drink that I could spit out my nose.

Cantor really out-cravens a city filled with very craven people.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:19 AM

September 8, 2011

dear republican base: get fucked

Actually, there was one other bit of notability from last night's debate:
[Moderator BRIAN] WILLIAMS: Governor Perry, a question about Texas. Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. Have you…

(APPLAUSE)

There's video of the event at the link, in case you just ingested something poisonous and need to evacuate the contents of your stomach.

The social media's a little bit on fire about how non-chalant Rick Perry is about executing so many people (in light of his state's record with exonerations),  I understand the fuss, though, you know, like I'd expect Rich Perry to exhibit circumspection at all.

But the rank and file, the assembled base, flirting with the standing O for the mere fact that so many men and women have been put to death?  That's barbaric.  That's the kind of quality that we hate other cultures for.  And I hope that each one of the applauders finds their own personal flight of stairs to be pushed down today.

Posted by mrbrent at 1:32 PM

romney: consistent at least in his crassness

I did not watch the debate last night (though I think Gail Collins summed it up best by remarking, "Republicans, do you want to trust your nomination to a guy who makes Mitt Romney look clever?")

But I did look over the economic plan proposed by Mitt Romney Monday in Nevada, the traditional birthplace of big ideas.  It's actually quite detailed, so I'll give him that, and only one or two planks are dogwhistles to the Tea Party, so I'll give him that too.  The most objectionable aspect for me is semantic, of course, as Romney would like to create a thing called the Reagan Economic Zone, which would be a "multilateral trading bloc open to any country committed to the principles of open markets and free enterprise."  I don't think I have to point out the naked cynicism of not only dragging Ronald Reagan's corpse out of his grave and wearing it like a cloak, but also finding a way to make "Reagan" appear in every other sentence.  It's just tacky, and you'd think that those students of history silly enough to think that Reagan accomplished anything other than bad things would be smart enough to see through the ploy.  But who can say?

It's nearly enough to give rise to a new corollary to Godwin's law.

But the funny thing that I accidentally learned is, this is not the first time Romney has gone there.  In fact, four years ago, in 2007 he proposed something called the Reagan Zone of Economic Freedom.

So basically he's ripping himself off.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:21 AM

September 7, 2011

it is bad out there

Briefly, this is a nice round-up by James Fallows of reaction to some pieces he posted on the general nihilism that seems to have infected our governance.

The reactions from anonymous Beltway types are pretty informative, but read most closely the first comment listed, from "a university librarian in the Midwest":

All of the people I know who are capable of rational thought also understand that the combination of (we're rural so pretty much everyone gets climate change) climate change and energy issues, lack of jobs, and the refusal of government to provide us with basic services means that a new revolutionary social movement is needed. Food prices are soaring, gas prices are making it hard for people to get to low paying jobs, and the amount of suffering because of lack of access to medical care is dire.

There is a general shittiness out there, a rending of the social fabric that is somehow going unreported.  And I don't mean some kind of underclass that shouts out for a new Upton Sinclair; I mean a universal malaise.  Exploding costs, evisceration of opportunity, standing mute while the collective window of opportunity slowly shuts.

It's not real heartening, no.

Posted by mrbrent at 2:32 PM

ryan lizza on michele bachmann

I finally got around to reading the Ryan Lizza feature on Michele Bachmann for "The New Yorker", which I was honor-bound to after jumping into a discussion (about Ross Douthat, of all things) that was predicated by the Lizza piece.

And it's very good!  Pullquoting it won't really do much good, but Lizza got some pretty nifty access to the Bachmann campaign, and did some heavy lifting in unearthing some of her Dominionist influences.  Remember hearing that photogs were not allowed to snap pics of Bacmann if she was between appearances?  That's Lizza's.

Sadly you should go and read it very very fast, because Bachmann has about three days of viability left as a presidential candidate, unless Rick Parry decides that it's too much freaking fun being governor-for-life and then drops out.  Not that Bachmann ever truly had a chance to win the nomination, but in a month or two she'll be back to being a crazy-eyed House Republican internally distrusted by her own caucus left one of them be caught between her and a live camera.

But she'll always be dingbat president in our hearts.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:48 AM

September 6, 2011

labor day after

So yesterday I decided that I would make it the first Labor Day in eight years that I would not take to the blog and make the same weak joke about celebrating labor by not working, etc. etc.  You're welcome!

But, in doing that, I also missed the opportunity to remind you that organized labor (which is what Labor Day is celebrating and don't let anyone tell you different) is a totally awesome thing that deserves to not only be forgiven for their occasional overreach but also supported.  Especially if you enjoy things like wage protection and five day work weeks, things like that.  Oh, and the prohibition of child labor, that too.

So if you hear anyone muttering about how unions are destroying good companies?  Swat them with a rolled up newspaper.  Labor is supposed to cost something, just the same that the labor of a CEO costs something.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:09 AM

September 4, 2011

robosigning unabated

Further to continued references to robosigining months after the clearly illegal practice was revealed, alarming news from an alarming place: American Banker reports that "Servicers Still Fabricating Foreclosure Documents.

I don't know much about AB other than it's a daily trade publication devoted to the financial services industry.  But I do know that it's not Mother Jones or ThinkProgress, so to read a paragraph like this in a trade publication:

Several dozen documents reviewed by American Banker show that as recently as August some of the largest U.S. banks, including Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., Ally Financial Inc., and OneWest Financial Inc., were essentially backdating paperwork necessary to support their right to foreclose.

Some of documents reviewed by American Banker included signatures by current bank employees claiming to represent lenders that no longer exist.

...forces one to assume that there is a certain hubris that has yet to imminentize.

The implications of the robosigning are not limited to just the housing sector (though those implications are enormous, as housing is one of the sectors [that are not employment] dragging the economy): also in the spotlight are The Banks themselves.  In the arcane process of securitizing mortgages, insuring the securitizations and then transforming them into derivatives, The Banks had to make certain representations and warranties about the mortgages themselves (i.e., they had clear title to them, there were no liens and/or encumbrances, etc.).  If the paper is being fluffed on foreclosures, then you can bet the paper was fluffed everywhere else, and there are a whole lot of people (and insurers) who took a big bath on these instruments.  If robosigning can be used in a lawsuit to convince The Banks to pay back some of those losses, then it will.

In fact, AIG has already filed suit (partially on such grounds) against Bank of America.

So we may be distracted by hurricanoes or the starch in Rick Perry's collar, but basically it's on, and it's not nebbishes like me screaming about it, but rather ostensibly friendly publications like AB.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:09 AM