Monday ReadsPosted: July 18, 2011
There are two big news items these days. The GOP continues to be stupid when it comes to deficit talks and it is really looking like Murdoch INC is about to crash and burn. Let’s look at the deficit story first.
The right wing of the GOP continues to block any middle path budget deal. Jim Demint and Eric Cantor win the traitors of the year award.
Final revisions made Friday submerge conservative demands to reduce all federal spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product — a target that threatened to split the GOP by requiring far deeper cuts than even the party’s April budget. But Republican congressional leaders still want a 10-year, $1.8 trillion cut from nondefense appropriations and have added a balanced-budget constitutional amendment that so restricts future tax legislation that even President Ronald Reagan might have opposed it in the 1980s.
Indeed, much of the deficit-reduction legislation signed by Reagan would not qualify under the new tea-party-driven standards. And even the famed Reagan-Tip O’Neill Social Security compromise — which raised payroll taxes — passed the House in 1983 well short of the 290 votes that would be required under the constitutional amendments being promoted by the GOP.
Dubbed Cut, Cap and Balance, the House bill allows for a $2.4 trillion increase in the Treasury’s borrowing authority but effectively uses the Aug. 2 deadline as a Republican anvil on which to hammer out cuts President Barack Obama would otherwise veto.
We knew this was coming last December when they renewed the idiotic Bush tax cuts. I have no idea why they didn’t take care of this while the Democratic party was still in charge of the House.
The mess created by Rupert Murdoch’s News International looks to take the emperor of sleeze down. We’ve now had two resignations, one paper closure, an arrest and a resignation of the Head of Scotland Yard. Which will collapse first? The U.S. economy or Fox News and the Wall Street Journal?
The commissioner’s resignation came as the London political establishment was still digesting the stunning news about the arrest of Ms. Brooks — who apparently was surprised herself. A consummate networker who has always been assiduously courted by politicians and whose friends include Prime Minister David Cameron, Ms. Brooks, 43, is the 10th and by far the most powerful person to be arrested so far in the phone-hacking scandal.
Her arrest is bound to be particularly wounding to Mr. Murdoch, who, asked early last week to identify his chief priority in the affair, pointed to Ms. Brooks and said, “This one.”
Ms. Brooks has not yet been formally charged, but it is significant that she is being questioned in connection with two separate investigations. One, called Operation Weeting, is examining allegations of widespread phone hacking at the News of the World, the tabloid at the center of the scandal, where Ms. Brooks was editor from 2000 to 2003. The other is Operation Elveden, which is looking into more serious charges that News International editors paid police officers for information.
Ms. Brooks has always maintained that she was unaware of wrongdoing at The News of the World, which was summarily closed by Mr. Murdoch a week ago in an unsuccessful damage-control exercise. But the tide rose against her, and on Friday she resigned, saying in a statement that her presence was “detracting attention” from the company.
This entanglement is beginning to remind me of some Steig Larsson crime novel. All we need is a girl with a dragon tattoo. News Corps shares are falling as the scandal continues to grow. Couldn’t happen to a bigger sleezebag as far as I’m concerned.
The shares fell 7.6 percent to as low as A$13.65, their lowest since July 2009, and also a 7.4 percent discount to News Corp’s (NWSA.O) last U.S. close, implying that $3 billion of market capitalization would be wiped out when U.S. trade resumes.
“There’s a lot of sentiment and emotion driving the stock,” said Simon Burge, chief investment officer at ATI Asset Management in Sydney, which holds News Corp shares.
“From an earnings point of view, News of the World was less than 1 percent of earnings but this has catapulted to something greater and it is hard to quantify.”
It was the biggest one-day slide for the shares since November 2008.
Paul Krugman lets bankers and the people that enable their bad decision-making have it. Of course, we all know who the head-bankster enabler in chief is, don’t we?
Ever since the current economic crisis began, it has seemed that five words sum up the central principle of United States financial policy: go easy on the bankers.
This principle was on display during the final months of the Bush administration, when a huge lifeline for the banks was made available with few strings attached. It was equally on display in the early months of the Obama administration, when President Obama reneged on his campaign pledge to “change our bankruptcy laws to make it easier for families to stay in their homes.” And the principle is still operating right now, as federal officials press state attorneys general to accept a very modest settlement from banks that engaged in abusive mortgage practices.
Why the kid-gloves treatment? Money and influence no doubt play their part; Wall Street is a huge source of campaign donations, and agencies that are supposed to regulate banks often end up serving them instead. But officials have also argued at each point of the process that letting banks off the hook serves the interests of the economy as a whole.
It doesn’t. The failure to seek real mortgage relief early in the Obama administration is one reason we still have 9 percent unemployment. And right now, the arguments that officials are reportedly making for a quick, bank-friendly settlement of the mortgage-abuse scandal don’t make sense.
Yup. We still have mortgage messes, unemployment crises, and partisan wars. It’s a wonderful country these days, isn’t it? Meanwhile, neoconfederate religionist governor Rick Perry is toe tapping in the Austin area about running for president. All the Birchers are orgasmic! Just another great white hope for the country’s extremists!
Perry is a staunch advocate of states’ rights and of a limited role for the federal government, views he laid out in his 2010 book, “Fed Up!: Our Fight to Save America from Washington.”
Critics said he took the states’ rights argument too far in 2009, with remarks that implied the possibility of secession.
He was responding to questions after a tea party event in which audience members screamed “secede.” He then said that while he didn’t believe there was any reason to dissolve the union, “if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that?”
Today, he’s adamant he never meant to suggest secession as an option.
“The idea that we’re going to break off is just nonsense, and anyone who is a thoughtful American knows that,” Perry said. “This is a diversion from what’s really important.”
Perry marches in step with Iowa’s social conservatives by opposing same-sex marriage and abortion. He signed a bill this year that mandates a sonogram be taken before abortions.
He has been praised and mocked for mixing his religious beliefs with his actions as the elected head of the state.
In April, he issued a proclamation calling for a three-day period of prayer for rain. Comedian Bill Maher poked fun at the move, comparing it to ancient Mayan beliefs.
And Perry has planned on Aug. 6 a Christian prayer meeting with the American Family Association in Houston. He’s asked governors to issue proclamations urging constituents to engage in prayer and fasting “for our nation to seek God’s guidance and wisdom in addressing the challenges that face our communities, states and nation.”
So, that’s enough excitement for me for one Monday morning! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?