Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for October 15th, 2007

The seven lean years

Posted by Charles II on October 15, 2007

Krishna Guha, FT:

The risk of a disorderly adjustment [e.g., dollar crash, inflation, higher interest rates, and recession] of global ­economic imbalances has increased after the turmoil in credit markets, Rodrigo Rato, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, on Monday said.

Among Rato’s comments:

  • The dollar is still overvalued overall
  • The dollar/euro is about right, so
  • The Asian currencies have to rise
  • The credit crunch will slow growth in Europe and Japan
  • China needs to export less and consume more
  • The US needs to consume less and save more

My predictions are a little different. I think everyone will continue doing whatever they are doing until there’s some sort of crisis. A reasonable scenario is serious inflation in China and some developing countries, recession in Eastern Europe, stagflation in the US, and further major dollar devaluation. My guess is that Europe, parts of Asia, and South America will escape major damage.

Posted in economy | 1 Comment »

Lies and the Lying Liars: SCHIP Edition

Posted by MEC on October 15, 2007

Imagine my surprise when I read a Letter To The Editor in my local newspaper that said the Democrats are changing the SCHIP program in order to give the taxpayers’ money to illegal aliens.

Actually, I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the opponents of keeping children healthy are using The Brown Bogeyman to attack the SCHIP bill.

I was also completely unsurprised to confirm that the accusation is a Republican anti-truth.

Here’s the truth:

The charge revolves around a provision of the new legislation that is designed to remedy serious problems that have arisen in the wake of a poorly designed provision enacted in 2006. The provision enacted in 2006 has turned out to impose more burdensome requirements on U.S. citizens applying for Medicaid than on eligible legal immigrants who apply, and has caused thousands of poor, eligible citizen children and parents to be denied entry into Medicaid, or to have their entry into the program delayed. Many of these children and parents became or remained uninsured as a result.

The “provision enacted in 2006” required applicants to “provide an original birth certificate, passport, or similar document to prove his or her citizenship”. Many of the people who are citizens and eligible for the program are unable to obtain the necessary documents. The new SCHIP bill replaces this draconian requirement with a requirement to check an applicant’s Social Security number against the Social Security database, to ensure that the Social Security number is valid and the applicant is eligible for the SCHIP benefits.

But Republicans aren’t interested in ensuring that only people who are eligible for the program enroll in it. Their goal here is the same as the goal of their bogus “voter fraud” legislation: to make it as difficult as possible for people to exercise their rights.

Posted in anti-truth, liars, Republicans acting badly, SCHIP | 5 Comments »

Shocking News About the Medicare Drug Plan

Posted by MEC on October 15, 2007

The Medicare drug plan is a vacuum hose sucking money out of enrollees’ pockets into the private insurers’.

Taxpayers and Medicare patients could have saved almost $15 billion in 2007 if private health insurers had cut expenses for prescription drug coverage and negotiated bigger discounts, a report from Democratic staff of a House of Representatives panel said on Monday.
 

The Medicare prescription drug benefits offered by private insurers operate with “high administrative costs, sales expenses and profits,” the report said.
 

Staff for Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by California Rep. Henry Waxman, based their conclusions on proprietary cost and pricing data obtained from 12 insurers that provide drug coverage to more than 18 million Medicare patients.
 

“The cost and pricing data obtained by the committee reveal that use of private insurers to deliver Medicare drug coverage is driving up costs and producing only limited savings on drug prices,” the report said.
 

[…]
 

The report said administrative expenses, sales costs and profits of private insurers offering Medicare drug plans are almost six times higher than the administrative costs of traditional Medicare coverage, costing almost $5 billion or about $180 per beneficiary in 2007.
 

The insurers’ profits will account for $1 billion, the report said.
 

[…]
 

The companies failed to negotiate significant rebates from drug makers, the report also said.

Oh gosh. I am so surprised. Who would have expected that a bill written by Republicans would enrich the corporations at the expense of the sick and elderly?

Posted in capitalism as cancer, health care, Henry Waxman, Plan B | 1 Comment »

A ‘Fair and Balanced’ Book Review

Posted by MEC on October 15, 2007

The Wall Street Journal (which, remember, is now owned by Rupert Murdoch) has a review of a book about Curveball, the “dubious informant” whose disinformation helped the Busheviks fabricate a case for invading Iraq.

The review is by Judith Miller.

Yes, that would be the same Judith Miller who was also a stenographer for Curveball’s discredited information.

She writes without a hint of irony — or shame:

The defector knew impressive details about the trailers and Iraq’s biological weapons programs. His claims were at the heart of the pivotal National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, the intelligence community’s “gold standard” report. It concluded with “high confidence” that Iraq had chemical and biological arms. Curveball’s information also found its way into Mr. Bush’s State of the Union address in January 2003, which prepared the country for war, and into Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February presentation to the U.N., which persuaded many skeptics of Iraq’s danger and duplicity.
 

None of it was true.

Time was, journalists used ink to write their stories, not whitewash.

Posted in anti-truth, beat the press, GOP/Media Complex | 3 Comments »

Speaking Of News

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 15, 2007

I found this little tidbit purely by accident:

Charles Riechers, the U.S. Air Force’s No. 2 acquisition official, was found dead at his home, and the cause of death appears to be suicide, according to an Air Force memo sent late on Sunday.

Now, call me crazy, but I’d consider this to be a lot more important than whether some teenage girl does her household chores.   (Especially since Riechers was being scrutinized for the little two-month no-work gig with Commonwealth Research Institute that he was given right before becoming the USAF’s #2 acquisition official.)

My Spidey-sense also makes me wonder if he was involved in any way with the Cunningham/MZM/Wade scandal, which hinged around Pentagon procurement shenanigans.

Posted in big money, BushCo malfeasance, corruption, cronies, Pentagon | Comments Off on Speaking Of News

Arizona GOP Rat-Bleeps Hispanic Voters

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 15, 2007

Words flipping fail me.

These guys get the Donald Segretti Award for scumminess.

Posted in 2008, Hispanic issues, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples | 1 Comment »

What Big Internet Companies Think You Should Consider News

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 15, 2007

I’ve picked on our radio and TV networks, so now it’s time for the up-and-coming news sources on the web’s internet portals.
Here is what Yahoo.com thinks is Big News:

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Here’s what AOL.com thinks is Big News:

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Here’s what MSN.com thinks is Big News (couldn’t get the whole page as it’s designed like a dog’s breakfast):

msn-101507-am.JPG

Nothing about Mitchell Wade or MZM, the next phase of the burgeoning Duke Cunningham bribery scandal.  (No, kiddies, this scandal didn’t end when Sir Duke of the Filthy Hot Tub went to prison.)

Nothing about the telcos wanting a Get Out Of Jail Free card for their illegally spying on us.   (Or just when they started to illegally spy on us.)

Nothing about how legal immigrants in Arizona are being scammed by deeply evil people in a form of rat fornication designed to suppress Hispanic (and thus Democratic) voter turnout in that state.

Nothing about a host of other stories that I would say are arguably more important than a boy scout avoiding a black bear, or a glorified commercial for a new kind of airplane, or a daughter who won’t do her chores.

Arrrrgh.

Posted in media, Media machine, mediawhores | Comments Off on What Big Internet Companies Think You Should Consider News

Carolyn Kay Speaks.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 15, 2007

You listen (from an e-mail she sent out yesterday; her comments are in bold):

Group Plans to Provide Investigative Journalism
As struggling newspapers across the country cut back on investigative reporting, a new kind of journalism venture is hoping to fill the gap. Paul E. Steiger, who was the top editor of The Wall Street Journal for 16 years, and a pair of wealthy Californians are assembling a group of investigative journalists who will give away their work to media outlets. The nonprofit group, called Pro Publica, will pitch each project to a newspaper or magazine (and occasionally to other media) where the group hopes the work will make the strongest impression. The plan is to do long-term projects, uncovering misdeeds in government, business and organizations.

What do you want to bet that it will be mostly Democrats and friends of Democrats “investigated” by this group? And why is it that progressives won’t fund something similar?

Rush and his clones own the radio airwaves, and FOX exists on TV, because a concerted well-planned and well-funded effort was put into place by American conservatives starting in the late 1970s to take over the US media. After years of lobbying with the help of corporate media executives, they got the Fairness Doctrine killed in 1987; that made it possible for them to subsidize the rise of Rush Limbaugh, whose show was all but given away to rural radio stations desperate for cheap programming. He ended up getting a large listening base simply because there was nothing else to hear besides farm reports and sermons. And when Newt Gingrich and his fellow Republicans took over Congress in 1994, the first thing they did was make it legal for foreign citizens to own US media corporations such as TV networks — which meant that the Australian-born Rupert Murdoch could then set up FOX.

Posted in media, Media machine, mediawhores | 1 Comment »

The Mighty Wurlitzer

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 15, 2007

(To get the higher-resolution version of this and other fine officially-approved Python-related gear, stop by The Daily Llama.)

As Robert Parry of The Consortium has tirelessly pointed out over the years, America’s conservative movement has worked to create and control a media apparatus that allows them to make some scandals out of thin air (when it comes to Democrats and lefties) and make other scandals disappear (when it comes to Republicans and righties):

That also should be a cautionary lesson to Democrats seeking the White House. The political/media dynamic of Washington has changed little since Campaign 2000. The powerful right-wing news outlets still can make little controversies big and big controversies little.

This is why non-stories like this phony NASCAR hoo-ha (which of course has nothing to do with NASCAR, but submissive AP stringers meekly pretend that it does) get pushed heavily, while actual scandals involving Republicans (such as this story about a county chair of the GOP being caught — twice — with the same underage boy in his home) get ignored nationally except by a few brave bloggers.

UPDATE:  Charles also reminds us all of another scandal, one likely to take down a lot of Republican legislators (and possibly a few Democrats).   But of course that one will never be prominently featured on the TV news shows or the internet ISP portals.  Not unless it can be made to look so that the Democrats are the only perps.

Posted in GOP/Media Complex, half-vast rightwing conspiracy, media, Media machine, mediawhores, mythmaking, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, rightwing moral cripples | 2 Comments »

Please, sir, may I have a bowl of rights?

Posted by Charles II on October 15, 2007

Via Naomi Wolf, firedogging it, The American Freedom Campaign:

The American Freedom Campaign Agenda
At critical moments in our history, Americans have been called upon to protect our Constitutional guarantees of liberty and justice. We face such a moment today. The American Freedom Campaign is a non-partisan citizens’ alliance formed to reverse the abuse of executive power and restore our system of checks and balances with these ten goals:

Fully restore the right to challenge the legality of one’s detention, or habeas corpus, and the right of detained suspects to be charged and brought to trial.

Prohibit torture
and all cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Prohibit the use of secret evidence.

Prohibit the detention of anyone, including U.S. citizens, as an “enemy combatant”
outside the battlefield, and on the President’s say-so alone.

Prohibit the government from secretly breaking and entering our homes, tapping our phones or email, or seizing our computers without a court order, on the President’s say-so alone.

Prohibit the President from “disappearing” anyone
and holding them in secret detention.

Prohibit the executive from claiming “state secrets”
to deny justice to victims of government misdeeds, and from claiming “executive privilege” to obstruct Congressional oversight and an open government.

Prohibit the abuse of signing statements, where the President seeks to disregard duly enacted provisions of bills.

Use the federal courts, or courts-martial, to charge and prosecute terrorism suspects, and close Guantanamo down.

Reaffirm that the Espionage Act does not prohibit journalists
from reporting on classified national security matters without fear of prosecution.

Posted in Constitution, Fire Dog Lake, Gitmo, habeas corpus, rights, speaking truth to power | 1 Comment »

 
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