Thursday Morning Open Thread

Today is the beginning of the great distraction known as March Madness. I am tied up today (and not watching March Madness) so posting will be light from me. J, TChris and Ethan will no doubt hold down the fort.

This is an Open Thread.

< An Inflation Threat? | Out Of Touch? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    My pick for the dance... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by jeffinalabama on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:38:23 AM EST
    going against conventional wisdom, and most logic, also, I will pick Mississippi State.

    Gotta pull for the SEC underdog!

    cnbc (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:46:35 AM EST
    I love this posted today:

    In economic news, initial jobless claims fell by 12,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 646,000; well below the 652,000 economists had expected.

    If only our banks balance sheets were that kind of "well below".

    They have an odd definition of... (none / 0) (#32)
    by desertswine on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:54:13 AM EST
    "well below."  What is that, less that .01%?

    Really? That is masking regionality (none / 0) (#36)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:04:12 PM EST
    then.  Yesterday's report in my state was that jobless claims are up almost 75% here from a year ago, continuing to worsen by the day ever since December.  The "lucky" one among our four grown children, the only one still employed, still had to stretch his savings after a three-week furlough.  But at least he was called back.  And we are cutting back a lot to be ready to help him next time -- in addition to the others whom we already are helping.  But we're going to get some good yard work done soon in return, when spring returns. :-)

    are you in fl? (none / 0) (#57)
    by Jlvngstn on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 08:24:22 AM EST
    I hear it is simply awful there right now.

    Mmm (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by NJDem on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:51:18 PM EST
    I'm all about forgiving youthful (and many adult) indiscretions, but when I think of the vetting process that the Clintons had to endure--this kinda p*sses me off:

    "Chief Information Officer Is Quietly Reinstated"

    By the way, the "youthful indiscretions" were stealing shirts from J.C. Penney, not buying a dime bag or getting arrested at a protest or something...

    What gives with the 15 democrats (none / 0) (#1)
    by Saul on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 07:51:36 AM EST
    15 moderate Democrats have pooled together to control Obma's legislation.  They feel Obama is trying to do too much and are afraid of the amount of money that is being used in the bailouts and budgets.

    It's not so much about money, I don't (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by Anne on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:50:58 AM EST
    think, at least from what I have seen.  This was published at Think Progress yesterday:

    This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) officially announced the creation of his new Blue-Dog style coalition of approximately 15 "moderate" Democratic senators. As Roll Call explained last week, members of the group "acknowledge that they are seeking to restrain the influence of party liberals." During his announcement, host Joe Scarborough asked Bayh who is in the new coalition. Bayh said that while a press release on the group's creation included the names of 12 senators, there are "three or four" who don't want to be identified:

    SCARBOROUGH: This is great! Can you tell us who's in it?

    BAYH: Well there are about 12 of us on the press release and then there are three or four who we are putting in the witness protection program, who attend our meetings but don't want to be publicly identified yet.

    Explaining the likely rational for senators not wanting to be publicly associated with Bayh's new group, Matt Yglesias writes, "After all, Barack Obama is popular! And his agenda is popular! So if you choose to oppose it, you might face political problems. So better to keep the sabotage secret."

    The 12 who are named are:

    In addition to Bayh, Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) will lead the group. Other members include: Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

    And later, Think Progress added:

    Based on press reports, however, ThinkProgress has compiled a list of who might be the three anonymous "moderates." The following members have been reported as attending Bayh's meetings in recent weeks, but are not named in today's press release:

    - Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-PA)
    • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
    • Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)

    Additionally, Bayh told MSNBC this morning that yesterday's meeting featured a presentation by Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) on the upcoming budget debate.

    Steve Benen observes, "The president -- you know, the one who just easily won a national election and enjoys strong approval ratings -- will face governing challenges in a Senate in which his own party has 58 (eventually, 59) members. Part of the problem is Republican obstructionism, and part of it is Bayh and the Blue Dogs who feel more comfortable driving with their foot on the brake."

    In addition to this group, there is also this development, also from Think Progress:

    A group of eight centrist Senate Democrats "is quietly maneuvering to keep open the option of vetoing two of President Barack Obama's most ambitious agenda items this year -- climate change and health care reform." The group, which includes Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), are seeking to kill efforts to pass climate and health care legislation through a budget reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes.

    So, is this about money and the budget, or is this about agenda?  I think there is a much greater chance that this collection of Senators will serve to support Obama's tendencies to lean to the right on issues - and guarantee that whatever comes out of the Senate on a wide range of issues will be as beige as Evan Bayh himself.


    McCaskill must be in there as a plant (none / 0) (#20)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:59:10 AM EST
    to listen in and report back to the WH.

    Klobuchar is becoming (none / 0) (#28)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:32:32 AM EST
    as much of a disappointment as McCaskill.  The rise of the moderates in Minnesota, with the Senatorial mess, must be worrying her.  She talked more liberal at the start.

    This is exactly what worries me (none / 0) (#21)
    by CST on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:02:45 AM EST
    "are seeking to kill efforts to pass climate and health care legislation"

    Can we seat Franken yet????


    Ah (none / 0) (#23)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:08:32 AM EST
    Can we seat Franken yet????

    That assumes that he doesn't have to find out that it's easier to talk on a radio show about what he thinks should be done and actually getting something done as a Senator with the least seniority.  It also assumes that he won't get there and fall in love with the power just as much as they all have.


    getting something done (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by CST on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:13:14 AM EST
    I don't care if he writes his own legislation or not, for me, he just needs to line up on the right side of the yes/no vote.

    Kohl? Not running (none / 0) (#27)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:30:46 AM EST
    for re-election, according to some accounts in his state.  But this suggests he may do so, after all -- and if so, it looks like he could be up against real opposition for the first time in a long time: the GOP's new favorite from nowhere now getting a lot of airtime, Paul Ryan.

    This also would put Kohl at odds with his state's Dem governor, if he is to be believed in his stated aims to push new energy initiatives.  And as for health insurance reform, his state's biggest city -- which any Dem needs to win -- has among the country's highest rates.  Hmmm, this would seem unwise of Kohl.  But then, as the richest member of Congress, he has no fundraising worries. . . .


    richest member? (none / 0) (#51)
    by DFLer on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 04:39:13 PM EST
    is he Kohl of Kohl's clothing stores?

    Yes. First, Kohl's grocery stores (none / 0) (#52)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 06:03:49 PM EST
    and then their department stores -- but sold off by the family some time ago.  Still, fond memories of well-treated employees helped him a lot in his run.

    Should add what else he did (none / 0) (#53)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 06:04:39 PM EST
    with the money:  He's the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks.  But he has been trying to sell the team, too, for some time.

    I had no idea...that he was that rich (none / 0) (#54)
    by DFLer on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:39:42 PM EST
    thanks for info

    Hard to tell. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Fabian on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 08:14:22 AM EST
    Anyone have an analysis on their districts?

    Fortunately, Democrats are not the lemmings Republicans are.  Unfortunately, Democrats need a lot of "encouragement" to move towards partisan or "bipartisan" goals.


    Here you go... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 08:43:06 AM EST
    ...local prospective on Colorado's two Purple Dogs.


    Not really a surprise to me--given that moderate Dems are the only ones that get elected here--despite the GOP hue and cry about Udall being a "Boulder Liberal".


    districts? (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by wystler on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:17:55 AM EST
    these are senators ... ergo, you meant "states"

    Trying to save the Dems (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 09:17:37 AM EST
    If they appear to try and rein him a bit, when the economy is not healthy come November (when the 2010 election races start), they are trying to avoid a)losing their own seats, and b) trying to avoid a  Republican sweep back into power in at least one chamber.

    I recall (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Steve M on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 09:50:33 AM EST
    that when the moderate Dems made a big show of "reining in" Clinton during his first 2 years in office, it didn't end well for either side.

    not so much for congress, but (none / 0) (#8)
    by Bemused on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 09:55:31 AM EST
    Clinton got re-elected and ultimately became in actions perhaps the least "progressive" and most "moderate" Democratic President of the 20th Century.

    Well (none / 0) (#9)
    by Steve M on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:11:19 AM EST
    I unfortunately don't have time today to debate the relative political orientations of Bill Clinton and Woodrow Wilson, so I'll have to let that one go...

    Because of Wilson's racism (none / 0) (#11)
    by Bemused on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:18:50 AM EST
     and anti-immigrant beliefs you have a strong argument for a draw.

    Well (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:32:44 AM EST
    I don't think it was the trying to "rein in" Clinton that necessarily doomed the Dem critters.  I think it was more a product of 40 years of Dem rule (at least in the House), plus the peak of the Evangelical Movement, plus the rampant corruption among the Democratic members of Congress (Dan Rostenkowski, anyone?)

    'rein in' (3.00 / 2) (#17)
    by CST on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:49:27 AM EST
    see I would have no problem with this if they weren't trying to 'rein him in' on health care and green energy, the two things this country needs more than anything to get the middle class moving again.

    Washington State.... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 08:54:33 AM EST
    issues a reminder that we're all a bunch of no good criminals.  Link

    I say not only are some rules made to be broken, some grovel and beg to be broken...like gambling laws.

    That reminder gets published every (none / 0) (#22)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:04:04 AM EST
    so often here. I certainly hope that no one is ever prosecuted for an office pool, but don't care if they remind people it isn't legal. Maybe they are responding to requests from employers who don't want work time being spent this way and prefer the strong arm of the law to stop the game playing at work.

    It's quite the process for non-profits to get a raffle going, as well. Can't do that without a permit. :)

    I prefer to fight the Patriot Act and the things that really do stop our lives from being free. One could argue every single law as being an infringement on someone's rights.


    I've seen too many poker players... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:26:21 AM EST
    get their rolls stolen from them by police to write off tyrannical gambling prohibition laws as no big deal...they hurt and they tyrannize.

    Laws that aren't enforced should be repealed.


    Hillarious (none / 0) (#6)
    by SOS on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 09:45:18 AM EST
    Old Age Begins at 27
    MSNBC - ‎Mar 18, 2009‎

    So let's see at the rate things are going the life expectancy of a U.S. Citizen will be 30 okay it makes sense now.

    Obama book deals: (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:43:12 AM EST

    Heh (none / 0) (#16)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:48:38 AM EST
    Talk about tone deaf... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Bemused on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 10:49:36 AM EST
     on the other hand I would rather him have his money directly in T-bills rather than a so-called blind trust invested in private equities or notes.

    I thought he still owed the publisher (none / 0) (#25)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:23:03 AM EST
    two books, and at least one of them was supposed to be that children's book. He's way past due on his agreement.

    Two weeks before Mr. Obama's swearing in, Crown announced that it had signed a contract with him for three more books. The first would offer "a window into the political and spiritual convictions that propelled Obama's recent U.S. Senate victory." The second will be a children's book about his life, and the third is yet to be defined. The deal had been initiated by Ms. Dystel, the announcement said, but "negotiated and concluded by Robert B. Barnett of Williams & Connolly LLP."

    NOTE: The swearing in referred to is his US Senate seat in 2004.

    Odd to have the deal brokered so early in the first term...depending on how the economy goes, in four years the price could be either pitiful or extravagant.


    A new nonfiction book (none / 0) (#29)
    by Cream City on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:35:35 AM EST
    is an interesting description, since Obama said that his books already in print were fictions in part.  So I still will be waiting for the first good biography, not more semi-fictional semi-autobiography.  The full story will be fascinating.

    I was wondering (none / 0) (#34)
    by ricosuave on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:00:39 PM EST
    how much notice this would get today.  I haven't seen any comparisons to Newt yet...maybe they'll get him to comment on it.

    I think politicians (including Obama) are incredibly obtuse on the book advances.  He should have told them to give him a $1 advance and then just collected royalties for the next several years.  Unlike Newt, Obama's book will sell and he would easily get the money.

    Now we get to hear the right-wing blowhards pontificate on this and tell us how out of touch or crooked Obama is.  If we are lucky, perhaps this will knock the ridiculously overplayed AIG bonus story off the headlines.  But it will probably just feed the panel-yelling-at-each-other format that seems to have completely replaced real news.


    Where did all this money come from? (none / 0) (#44)
    by nycstray on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:53:17 PM EST
    Obama's financial disclosure report released this week covers January through Nov. 16, 2008, when he left the Senate. It shows that he and his wife, Michelle, have $1.3 million to $5.7 million in assets, which does not include their Chicago home. In addition, they have up to $550,000 in college savings plans for their two daughters.

    The Obamas' holdings include $1 million to $5 million in Treasury bills purchased in October. They sold $500,000 to $1 million in Treasury notes last April, according to the report.

    Is this the same guy that was running around saying they had just recently paid off their college loans and they understood hardship? What have they done beyond the books to earn this kind of income?


    They feel our pain. (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:19:41 PM EST
    Are You In Pain? (none / 0) (#50)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 04:33:18 PM EST
    If so, sorry to hear it.

    Second generation. (none / 0) (#56)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 01:28:46 AM EST
    It came from the books (none / 0) (#45)
    by CST on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:57:59 PM EST
    which is why it was recently earned.

    They were both best-sellers for quite some time.


    Other things we need to deal with (none / 0) (#30)
    by Inspector Gadget on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:36:12 AM EST
    Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights

    Local news a couple of days ago had Senator Patty Murray asking Washingtonians to send her letters describing any problems they've had with their credit card companies. She indicated she needed all she could get to convince her colleagues in the Senate to see the extent of the problem.

    I highly recommend anyone who is having problems, or knows people who are start writing to their Senators. Mine are fine at the moment, but I'm still writing a letter with my areas of concern. Particularly, the one where the companies send unsolicited credit cards to high school and college age kids without requiring an application or proof of income.

    Wrong way to go I think... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:49:13 AM EST
    Maloney and the gang should look into why so many Americans need credit cards to live...stagnant wages, higher cost of living, taxes... not look to make credit cards kinder and gentler so Americans can keep piling up debts.

    I fear a credit card bill of rights will just encourage more of the behavior that has us in such a mess, though at slightly better terms to the debtor.  

    Tell you what I'd like to see....a senator or rep holding a press conference where they cut up some plastic, and urged their constituents to stop enriching leeches. That would be cool.


    sound financial advice for many there (none / 0) (#33)
    by Bemused on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 11:59:06 AM EST
     but I'm not prepared to blame politicians for the acquisitive and status conscious nature of our society. The demand for consumer credit  comes from the masses. We need tighter regulation on the suppliers but not even the suppliers can really create the demand. You might argue mass media advertising "brainwashes" people to think they need to live beyond their means, but i find that a bit patronizing. I think most people who incur disporortionate debt do it of their own free will.

    Absolutely.... (none / 0) (#39)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:21:55 PM EST
    I'm a big personal responsibility guy, and I agree people shouldn't need to be told that piling up 20k of debt on a credit card is not wise.

    I just feel like our government places the incentive on piling up debt...disaster struck and Bush said "go shopping", Bush's "ownership society on the arm", Obama bailing out the debts of big corporations...it is the wrong message from up high.  

    Or put it this way...the govt. and the issuers of credit cards are in cahoots, even a "bill of rights" will leave the debtor with the deck stacked against them.

    All that being said...I'm a life/liberty/pursuit of hapiness guy more than anything...if piling up debt makes you happy, knock yourself out, but no bailouts...you have to live with it, whether you're a corporation or an individual.


    In that vein.. (none / 0) (#38)
    by desertswine on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:13:45 PM EST
    let me recommend two essays from this month's Harper's.
    "How Unlimited Interest Rates Destroyed the Economy" by labor lawyer Thomas Geoghegan and
    "Usury Country: Welcome to the Birthplace of Payday Lending" by Daniel Brook.

    But you have to subscribe to the magazine, or go to a library. Sorry.


    This has got to be an attorneys play ground (none / 0) (#35)
    by joze46 on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:02:58 PM EST
    For years talk radio has morphed into hate radio, you know, Rush Limbaugh the entertainer that hides behind this reporting political play game in a shifted lexicon that is pure Sedition. Heck the Steven Colbert show qualifies with a smiley face for sure after his pitch fork exhibition. Actually ABC, Hate Hannity show ABC, and wild rant Mark Levin who calls any Liberal a jerk is now with a new fresh look might wonder where or when the piano tuner happens around to tighten strings.

    The CEO of AIG talked in front of a Senate committee about the threats to business families might get strangled with piano string. Sheesh.  

    Whats really funny is that Senator Grassley saying that those who are receiving that bail out bonuses should bow out and commit suicide. Anybody know a web sight that sells Kamikaze kits? LOL.

    Listening to Bob Brinker for years on ABC radio talking about Fannie Mae, Sally Mae, or Freddie Mac, Jennie Mae, heck all these money power houses sounded like some back woods still for me. Plus the president gets to choose several boards of directors for these housing financial gin mills. But just lately this new Treasury Secretary  has to resign because he can not fix this stuff fast enough. Talk about a trillion dollar play ground that Bush and Company had years to fool around in. Now Blame Barney Frank and the Treasury Secretary after about one and half complete business cycles. These entities were cooking the books years ago. These screw loose space balls with Chris Mathews say America is out raged! You bet.

    America has enough problems with hazardous waste now we have Zombie Banks, Toxic Assets, Predator Loan Companies, Waterboarding, wire taping, Afghanistan and Iraq that are corrupt from top to bottom, A Federal Reserve that secretly slips trillions of our tax dollars just yesterday to who knows who and nobody knows for what. But Andrea Mitchell political analyst and commentator on MSNBC always seems to have the inside scoop of what is going on. Of course she is the wife of former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Allen Greenspan that likely cooked the books for decades. Talk about a Martha Stewart crime spree where the heck is Patrick Fitzgerald? Our hero.      

    Watching March Madness (none / 0) (#37)
    by jbindc on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:13:29 PM EST
    Just found the coolest app for my iTouch. For $5 you can download an app that gives you live access to ALL the games.  As I am sitting here at work, I have my iTouch tuned to the BYU - Texas A&M game.  Gig 'Em Ags!

    Very cool!

    Not long ago... (none / 0) (#40)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 12:53:32 PM EST
    a post discussed authoritarian abuses in a mental hospital, now we've got teachers in Dallas making kids fight for kicks.  Link
    maybe we need a war on authority, it is just as addictive and potentially damaging as any drug, if not more so.

    I hate to (none / 0) (#41)
    by Bemused on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:05:31 PM EST
     start "when I was a boy" stuff but honestly that was done when I was in school, and no one really even gave it a second thought. Having kids put the gloves on and "fight fair" when teachers caught us fighting just seemed normal. Of course, we were also paddled by the teachers in those days.

    I'm glad I'm not that old... (none / 0) (#42)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:38:18 PM EST
    I remember some neighborhood knucklehead parents encouraging their kids to sort it out with fists as a first resort...never teachers.  

    Who needed fists? (none / 0) (#43)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 01:44:25 PM EST
    Back in my day we had those nice, heavy, metal lunchboxes. One good smack upside the head and any fight was over.

    /wishes I still had mine

    Obama Poster (none / 0) (#46)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:08:05 PM EST
    Wins top prize in design competition in U.K. competition. Shepard Fairey, the creator,  is also suing and getting sued by AP although the actual photographer, Manny Garcia seems to be supporting Fairey.

    I don't think business attire... (none / 0) (#47)
    by kdog on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 02:08:31 PM EST
    is required for this job fair in Providence.

    At least its an honest living, as opposed to money-changing.

    AIG suing US for return of taxes (none / 0) (#55)
    by Amiss on Fri Mar 20, 2009 at 12:59:02 AM EST
    I feel like we are doomed to be down the rabbit hole with the mad hatter, Alice and the whole crazy bunch.

    Per the NY Times:

    AIG has filed suit against the US for $306 million in tax payments.

    While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens.
    A.I.G. is effectively suing its majority owner, the government, which has an 80 percent stake and has poured nearly $200 billion into the insurer in a bid to avert its collapse and avoid troubling the global financial markets. The company is in effect asking for even more money, in the form of tax refunds. The suit also suggests that A.I.G. is spending taxpayer money to pursue its case, something it is legally entitled to do. Its initial claim was denied by the Internal Revenue Service last year.