Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! There was another Republican debate last night. It was on CNBC, but I just couldn’t stand to watch. Luckily, Andrew Sullivan live blogged it at the Daily Beast. Sullivan isn’t too happy with the Republican choices:

9.51 pm. At this point, I have begun to really lose it watching this crew. There are only two faintly plausible, credible presidents up there, both Mormons. The rest is beyond an embarrassment, and at this moment in history, the sheer paucity of that talent is alarming. Did anyone up there give you confidence he or she could actually lead the world countering this metastasizing debt and unemployment crisis? At best, there were noises about removing burdensome regulation on businesses and a simpler tax code. But who up there could actually bring that about?

Two other things: Romney’s claim that Democrats hate profitable companies. It’s an absurd statement on its face, but as a comment on reality, it’s surreal. Profits are at record levels. If lack of profits is the reason for our employment crisis, there would be no crisis. Second: the boos for questioning a man in power who is credibly accused of sexual harassment and has settled such cases in the past is a sign of real contempt for women in such a situation. Both reveal to me a party hat has completely lost its way.

I’m beginning to wonder if these debates are helping Obama more than his own primary debates did in 2007 and 2008. Next to these doofuses, he seems reassuring. The losers of this debate: Perry and Cain. The winners? Gingrich and Obama.

Earlier, Sullivan wrote Rick Perry’s epitaph:

9.18 pm. Perry collapses. Cannot remember a list of three federal government departments he wants to abolish past the first two. Seriously. And then he says “oops.” He has all but disappeared inside his suit in this debate and is now basically done. And notice the casualness with which he intends to abolish whole government departments. Has he thought through the consequences? Or is he just a bad performance artist?

Watch it:

I’m so glad I didn’t watch!

Actually, I really don’t watch much TV, so I totally missed out on the new nationwide emergency alert test at 2PM yesterday. The Washington Post is very concerned that people like me will miss a real alert if one ever happens. They want an emergency alert system for the internet and phones.

FEMA launched a national alert system for phones in May, called PLAN, that reaches some smartphones on some national providers. The program sends out free text messages about emergency situations. However, only about 50 percent of Americans own smartphones and the program has not fully been adopted across the country.

As for Internet alerts, they work mainly on an opt-in basis. FEMA has an iPad and Android app and Twitter and Facebook accounts. However, this system of requiring Americans to actively seek out FEMA differs dramatically from the PLAN system or the Emergency Alert System. The alert system pushes messages out to Americans whether they want them or not. FEMA works with cable providers to get the word out.

It would be interesting to see the agency undertaking something similar in partnerships with major Internet companies. Could it be possible for the Google logo to turn into an alert message? Or for Twitter’s promoted ads — which appear in user timelines — to be a message from FEMA?

It may not be that long in the future for a truly integrated nationwide alert system. FEMA is working on an Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) that will employ all communication devices.

Ugh. I’d almost rather miss the warning of a nuclear attack or whatever FEMA wants to alert me to. I doubt if I’d be able to do anything to get out of the way of a nuke or a terrorist attack.

We’re hearing more about the Super Committee as the days tick down to the deadline. Supposedly, they’re supposed to figure out $1.2 trillion in cuts by Thanksgiving. Reuters has a gossipy piece on the committee’s secret inner workings: Inside Room 200, home of the “super committee”

Deep beneath the Capitol is a red-carpeted room that recently reverberated to the sound of Democrats and Republicans singing together, and then to their angry exchanges over how to fix the U.S. budget.

Welcome to Congress’s “super committee” room….

“At this point, the most serious adult conversations going in Congress are at the super committee,” a senior aide said.

“Members are driven by a sense that this is a very precarious time in U.S. history that beckons a solution,” the aide said. “But at the same time, members wrestle with political loyalties that they can’t divorce themselves from.”

Democrats are pushing to cut the deficit by up to $3 trillion over 10 years, much higher than the super committee’s target, with a mix of spending cuts and new tax revenues. But Republicans deeply oppose raising taxes, warning of job losses and damage to an already fragile economic recovery.

Read the article if you’re interested in which committee members are making friends and hanging out together. {shudder}

Whiny old Mitch McConnell claims the White House wants the super committee to fail.

After leaving the Republicans’ weekly policy luncheon, McConnell was asked about Senator Charles Schumer’s prediction yesterday that the Super Committee would likely fail to strike an agreement on a plan to cut $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion from the deficit over the next 10 years “because our Republican colleagues have said no net revenues.”

Responding today, McConnell said Schumer (D-NY), the Democrats’ primary messenger, is indicative of how Democrats and the White House want this committee to fail.

“It’s pretty clear when Chuck Schumer speaks, he’s speaking from the most partisan Democratic position,” McConnell said today. “And it does raise your suspicion that the folks down at the White House are pulling for failure. Because you see, if the Joint Committee succeeds, it steps on the story line that they’ve been peddling, which is that you can’t do anything with the Republicans in Congress.”

McConnell said the six Republicans on the 12-member committee from the House and Senate want an outcome and “do not believe failure is an option.”

Because of course McConnell and his pals aren’t the least bit partisan, and all they want is what is best for the country. /snark

Meanwhile, President Obama is getting the hell out of Dodge and leaving Congress to its own devices.

The so-called super committee will be busy with final negotiations while President Obama travels to Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia and the White House says President Obama will be getting updates on what is happening.

He likely won’t be receiving extra briefings, but the latest on the super committee meetings will be a part of his regular updates he gets while he is traveling.

Obama is going to Hawaii first for the APEC summit, then Australia for a re-scheduled trip from last year, and then Bali, Indonesia for the East Asia Summit. He leaves Friday for the week-long trip that will have a heavy emphasis on jobs and national security, which the White house says fits right into the president’s number priority – jobs.

The NYT has an op-ed by John Quiggin called Euro Crisis’s Enabler: The Central Bank. Quiggin blames ECB policies for the Eurocrisis.

Far from struggling to manage a “one size fits all” monetary policy, the bank has pursued a “one size fits nobody” policy of monetary contraction, at a time when no European economy is growing strongly. With great reluctance, the bank has agreed to support the markets for European sovereign debt through purchases of government bonds. But, unlike the policy of quantitative easing pursued by the Federal Reserve — in which the United States’ central bank amassed Treasury securities to push down long-term interest rates — the European Central Bank has insisted on “sterilizing,” or neutralizing, its purchases of government bonds by selling the securities to private-sector banks. Such a policy cannot be sustained on a scale sufficient to stabilize financial markets.

This is part of a broader problem: the European Central Bank’s conception of its own role. The bank was established in 1998, at a time when memories of the inflationary surge of the 1970s and 1980s were still fresh. It was therefore given a mandate that focused primarily on inflation, and has interpreted that mandate very narrowly.

Unlike any previous central bank in history, the bank has disclaimed any responsibility for the European financial system it effectively controls, or even for the viability of the euro as a currency. Instead, it has focused almost entirely on the formal objective of keeping inflation rates to a 2 percent target.

Quggin says that the new head of the ECB, Mario Draghi must

announce that the central bank will stand behind the sovereign debt of euro zone members, if necessary at the expense of the 2 percent inflation target. This would give governments the financial resources they needed to recapitalize banks. Since the crisis is largely one of confidence, it is likely that bond markets would stabilize without the need for large-scale bond purchases, once there was a credible commitment to intervene where necessary.

Coach Joe Paterno and President Graham B. Spanier are gone from Penn State.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Graham B. Spanier, one of the longest-serving and highest-paid university presidents in the nation, who has helped raise the academic profile of Penn State during his tenure, stepped down Wednesday night in the wake of a sexual-abuse scandal involving a prominent former assistant football coach and the university’s failure to act to halt further harm.

Spanier’s departure came as the university’s Board of Trustees also ended the 84-year-old Joe Paterno’s career, denying him his wish to finish out the season, his 46th as the head football coach and his 62nd over all at the school.

The defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will take over as interim head coach.

The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, a man who had been a key part of a legendary football program, but who prosecutors have said was a serial pedophile, one who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.

Here’s a piece by addiction expert Stanton Peele about the link between “disregard for societal constraints and college sports.” Reacting to the Penn State scandal, Peele writes:

Do I really mean college sports teams encourage sexual abuse of children? Not exactly. What I mean is, college sports are so dominant at American universities that even the most heinous sex crimes will be covered over rather than being allowed to disturb the giant university-sports complex. This is perhaps especially evident at Penn State, where 84-year-old Paterno has side-stepped all criticisms during his career, and proceeded to rack up the all-time leading victory total for a major college football coach. This has “established him,” according to the Times, “as one of the nation’s most revered leaders.”

This same man declined to report Sandusky directly to police and thus permitted him—as did other university officials—to continue to use the school facilities for “chicken-hawking” (a technical term for seducing children) for 15 years! Pennsylvania officals were disbelieving that their great university could allow such a state of affairs for so long. In the words of the Times, these officials felt that while Paterno may not have committed a crime, he “might well have failed a moral test for what to do when confronted with such a disturbing allegation involving a child not even in his teens. No one at the university alerted the police or pursued the matter to determine the well-being of the child involved.”

Ahh, but the greater glory of Penn State sports was preserved!

That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?

43 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    WSJ: Don’t bank on ECB rescuing Italy.

    We have seen this movie before. Italian government 10-year bond yields are at a euro-era high of 6.7%—a level from which no other euro-zone government bond market has recovered. Increased European Central Bank bond buying has failed to halt the price slide. European banks are dumping Italian bonds at a loss and being rewarded by the market. Given the euro zone’s inadequate bailout facilities, many argue only an unlimited ECB commitment to buy Italian bonds can prevent the debt crisis spiraling out of control.

    But investors shouldn’t bank on the ECB doing the market’s bidding. First, the central bank has repeatedly said it has no mandate to act as lender of last resort to countries. To do so would breach European law. New ECB President Mario Draghi said so again last week, stressing the ECB’s bond buying is limited and temporary.

    The European treaty is unequivocal: Article 101 prohibits the ECB from lending to governments, while Article 103 says the euro zone shouldn’t become liable for the debts of member states. It would be odd for Mr. Draghi to do something he has said is illegal.

    The second reason the ECB may refuse to make huge bond purchases is moral hazard. The ECB would lose its leverage to drive fundamental reform in Italy.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Personally, I do not believe that Romney can beat Obama. It is just that on that stage that features the most unimpressive opponents he comes across as the least offensive.

    Extract Rick Santorum who does not have a chance in hell; Perry who just became the male version of Sarah Palin (he should have had those 3 agencies inscribed on his palm); Ron Paul who wants to obliterate all government; Bachmann who is Looney Tunes; Newt with his snarling demeanor; Hunstsman who can’t seem to catch a break; Cain with his egregious baggage and all that is left is Mitt who has had the advantage of just standing there watching the others implode.

    Mitt has changed positions as often as he has changed his underwear and his solutions are either well worn talking points or vague references to issues that have failed to pin him down with any degree of substance. He remains the “front runner” by sheer default.

    The GOP may very well be “stuck” with Mitt just as much as the Dems are “stuck” with Obama but unless I am way off base Mitt is not going to beat Obama in a general election because when he stands alone, minus the moronic competition that he so far makes him look passable, the public – like it or not – will more than likely drag Obama over the finish line.

    My two cents.

  3. mablue2 says:

    I’m just trying to watch some snippets from this macabre show.

    Did Herman Cain really call Nancy Pelosi “Princess Nancy”? Wow! It’s just so cool for people to condescend on a woman in her 60s. What an asshole!

    • Pat Johnson says:

      He certainly did. For a man facing charges of being a serial womanizer, he just went ahead and compounded it even further. A moron!

      The fact that Mitt is considered “the front runner” gives you an idea of how bad the others are in that arena.

      All Mitt has to do is just stand there and he comes out the winner. Beyond imagination.

  4. quixote says:

    FEMA alert? What FEMA alert?

    I even knew about it and was watching for it. No sirens. No notifications of any kind.

    They expect us to be watching TV all day? Seriously?

    • bostonboomer says:

      It was scheduled for 2PM, so you just had to turn on the TV then. Who cares? They’re spending money on idiotic stuff like then while the world is melting down.

      • Fannie says:

        BB I was thinking about the situation at Pa. State……….and why someone watches a child being raped and does nothing about it………………then I started thinking about Kitty Genovese in New York, when 38 people watched her being raped and murdered and did nothing.

        Why is that both men and women do nothing?

      • quixote says:

        Yeah. I gathered that after the fact. I can just see it. “Oooh. We have an earthquake scheduled for 2am. Be sure to turn on your televisions.”

        Jeeeesus Christ in a pancake hat.

      • Thursday's Child says:

        It’s not true that 38 people watched Kitty Genovese be raped and murdered and did nothing – as BB well knows.

      • quixote says:

        Fannie, re the do nothing response. My suspicion is because we, meaning society as a whole, human beings in general, let bystanders think of themselves as innocent. We need to start make it clear that anyone who stands by in those cases is guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Whether it’s cyber bullying, or social bullying, or sexism at OWS, or huge crimes with names.

      • Fannie says:

        Thursday……….thank you for pointing out BB’s article……..I had not known the details of your research BB. Like everybody else I knew of the case, and place, and had always been given the figure of 37 people watched and did nothing. You did a very good job of putting faces and facts together, Greta and 15 year old boy, Michael Hoffman, and Kitty & Mary Ann.

        In 1968, Winston Mosley once again raped a woman while going to court. I hope he never steps a foot outside his cell.

        The other case that comes to mind, was the 15 year old girl who was beaten and gang raped in Richmond, Ca…2009. John Darley who did the study of Kitty and came of conclusion of “diffusion of personality” as cause of not doing something to intervene.

      • Fannie says:

        Quixote – your words are true and powerful. It is never okay to stand by and do nothing, but we need to teach alot of young people, and even the older ones how they (we) can be a part of stopping it. They must first know what it is, violence.

        We should all be on the side of those abused, and fight for them. It is not their fault and they do not deserve any of this.

        We have got to get society to take this issue more seriously.

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    The world is melting down for sure when Penn State students come out in droves to protest the firing of their “beloved coach” who was nothing more than an enabler for the pedophile pig who preyed on children.

    We are doomed if this is the generation that will take its place in time as future leaders when the “celebrity factor” overrides a moral response to criminal behavior and a sleazy old man who chose to look the other way is being treated as a “victim”.

    It just turns my stomache that the innocent victims of the silence that surrounded Sandusky’s activities, acting with consent by those who should have taken the proper action, has been muted on behalf of a sports coach who lacked a spine.


  6. joanelle says:

    1. I’ve got two issues that have popped up before me today that you addressed a bit BB – My friends who lived with us during Hurricane Irene are still waiting for their insurance company or Fema or the State of NJ to help out – the entire first floor of their home had to be stripped down to the beams since they had 2 ft. of water on that level – plus the full basement. And our Governor just turned over our Hillary votes to Obama – and he lost NJ by 10%.
    2. Perhaps the American people should sue BoA for taking a piece of the unemployment funds meant for the unemployed.

    This is really disgusting. 😡

  7. The Rock says:

    Nice post BB! Andrew Sullivan is a tool that is more concerned with the uterus of Bristol Palin than understanding and commenting on things that actually matter. Now all of a sudden, he can’t find a worthy conservative to occupy the highest office? Wasn’t he supposed to be so right about Bumbles in ’08? A measure of our society can be taken by looking at our media commentators. How he became a voice and authority with in this our culture is way beyond my limited comprehension. Asshat.

    On a separate note, I know I’m in the minority on this, but I’m pretty sure that I am the only one here that played a sport at the collegiate level, the pro level (semi in my case) and is also a nationally certified coach. TominPaine has an absolutly wonderful post about this situation at Penn State. Plain and simple, Paterno is being railroaded by a self righteous lot. Period. Don’t get me wrong. He doesnt deserve to be coaching anymore. Not because, as many have suggested, he stood by while Sandusky carried out heinous crimes. He actually didn’t ‘just stand by.’ True, he was not forceful enough in his actions. For that reason, he removed himself from his position via resignation. But the nationwide outcry that he acted as if standing there cheering on Sandusky is really laughable. The memo in the media is that students are rioting to keep the coach. Even if that was true (which it is not), that means that the students are on his side. For those of us that know how vile the NCAA is in terms of big college sports, JoPa WAS a good one. I would have had no problem sending my kids there to be coached by him at that school. Again, he should not be coaching anymore and his resignation at the end of the season should have sufficed, but this witchhunt against him is really laughable. I know mine is the minority position, but I think that here, it is the only position from someone that has been and is in that world.

    Hillary 2012

    • Gregory says:

      There is a reason I don’t read Tom in Paine. You have to know this Sandusky creep has been molesting kids since the 70’s right? The only reason he started that charity was to gain access to kids. Maybe you should go read the Grand Jury report, I couldn’t get past 3 pages. This guy was caught over and over and over again and yet was protected by his allies and friends. There is something to that.

      Why did they all cover for him? Why did they allow him to continue raping children at the Universities Football facilities? Some part of me wants to think that Sandusky got caught repeatedly because he wanted to get caught and he wanted someone to stop him. Nobody ever did. And even when they did force him to resign in 1999 they granted him unlimited access to the campus.

      No, Paterno isn’t being railroaded in the least. He has been protected in my opinion and does not face criminal charges simply because he is Joe Paterno. The culture surrounding that football program and that university reminds me of cult like behavior. And I bet as more details come out there are going to be more people on the hot seat. This group of “friends” covered up some of the most heinous crimes imaginable.

    • mjames says:

      Couldn’t disagree more. The failure to protect children is, to me, far more egregious than the abuse itself. The abuser is some horribly sick f**k; the enabler knows better, but does nothing.

      And to say that Paterno did do something is to split hairs. What he did NOT do is protect children. He WAS Penn State. The board members are his. He ran the joint. He did the minimum to cover his own ass and then it is most reasonable to infer that he covered the whole thing up. The witness gets a nice job. Sandusky is told not to bring children to the campus. Big whoop.

      He was friends with Sandusky for 30+ years. He knew all about what the janitors witnessed in 1997-1998. He let Sandusky “retire” without protecting future victims. He protected his buddy.

      I read TominPaine this morning. First time I have ever disagreed. The only way to stop sexual abuse of children is to shame those who failed to protect when they saw or heard about or suspected or knew in their gut that their friend, spouse, parent, whatever was a goddam child-raping pervert.

      And I know all about the NCAA and college sports and Penn State and the great JoePa. And it’s all irrelevant. The man could have stopped sexual assaults on children because he knew damn well his friend was a child rapist, but he did not. He did not. He was more interested in his own reputation and his beloved football program. How many children have suffered because this egotistical ass didn’t do the right thing? It’s too horrible to contemplate. Child rapists never stop. Never.

      To see JoePa being glorified at Sat’s game would have tarnished Penn State forever. The Board at least got that right.

    • quixote says:

      Rock, it seems to me you’re saying that there are pressures in that world not to make waves. Just one example: the grad assistant who was an eyewitness, but people blame for doing nothing except going to Paterno. He’s now a coach. No chance in hell he’d ever have a job in his field if he’d been a real whistleblower. Should he have made more noise anyway? Sure. If the price is the rest of your life, how many people do it? You can pretty much count them on one hand, and there obviously weren’t any around JP.

      So, sure, there are pressures. Pressures most people succumb to. But — and this is the point — that doesn’t make it right. It’s worth talking about the pressures, but only to figure out how to counteract them. They don’t, for one microsecond, take away the guilt for complicit silence. Getting rid of them, though, is important because that’s the real solution. Then we wouldn’t have so many “innocent” bystanders.

      And the reason there’s so much guilt on Paterno, even if he is an “innocent” bystander, is that he was the only person in the mix with enough social power to force the crimes to stop and to be punished.

      When even an admission of guilt from Sandusky to one of the mothers of the boys, with the police listening in, can’t get the DA to press charges, then, hell yes, it really was up to Paterno. He deserves all the flak he gets.

  8. ralphb says:

    Remember the WH We the People campaign? The one where people could create petitions, and if enough signatures were obtained, the administration would review it, send it to the right experts, and then respond?

    Check out this petition

    We demand a vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition.

    Since these petitions are ignored apart from an occasional patronizing and inane political statement amounting to nothing more than a condescending pat on the head, we the signers would enjoy having the illusion of success. Since no other outcome to this process seems possible, we demand that the White House immediately assign a junior staffer to compose a tame and vapid response to this petition, and never attempt to take any meaningful action on this or any other issue. We would also like a cookie.

    It has over 11,000 signatures and less than 14,000 to go for success! 🙂

  9. foxyladi14 says:

    P.J. said
    Mitt has changed positions as often as he has changed his underwear
    magic underoos. :lol; 😆

  10. ralphb says:

    Andy Borowitz: A Letter from Goldman Sachs Concerning Occupy Wall Street

    Dear Investor:

    Up until now, Goldman Sachs has been silent on the subject of the protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street. That does not mean, however, that it has not been very much on our minds. As thousands have gathered in Lower Manhattan, passionately expressing their deep discontent with the status quo, we have taken note of these protests. And we have asked ourselves this question:

    How can we make money off them?

    • dakinikat says:

      That is disgusting!!! If that’s true, there should definitely be criminal charges for all the way up and down the athletic department.

      • ralphb says:

        Hell yeah. No one should escape this, if it turns out to be true. Penn State football should get the death penalty from the NCAA on top of it. There is simply no excuse!

    • Thursday's Child says:

      I think this stuff has been going on forever. How about Bohemian Grove? Classical Greece?

      • quixote says:

        Yes. And at some point you say, “It stops here.”

      • Thursday's Child says:

        Oh no, it had better stop beyond there or I don’t care about it. This is only about boys. It can and will be stopped and the massive abuse of girls (and women) will continue.

      • ralphb says:

        Absolutely not! This isn’t just about boys for anyone here I’m sure. This particular case may be but it’s only one of many. Outrage should follow them all.

      • quixote says:

        (Well, just to be clear, I meant the whole goddamn mess, every sex crime on the planet, has to end. Now. But you probably knew what I meant. And I know you’re right that a lot of people are way less bothered when the victims aren’t like them. That’s part of what has to stop. Now. 😦 )