Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Hopefully, by the time you read this, I’ll be off to my doctor’s office as the damned MRSA thing on my lip showed back up this weekend.  I look like some one botoxed me on one side.  This stuff is no fun.  I think it has something to do with this endless runny nose and weepy eyes I appear to have with this year’s horrible allergies.

New York Magazine‘s Gabriel Sherman has a potboiler article up called The Elephant in the Green Room: The circus Roger Ailes created at Fox News made his network $900 million last year. But it may have lost him something more important: the next election.  There’s some really, really juicy bits.  Here’s just one example.

All the 2012 candidates know that Ailes is a crucial constituency. “You can’t run for the Republican nomination without talking to Roger,” one GOPer told me. “Every single candidate has consulted with Roger.” But he hasn’t found any of them, including the adults in the room—Jon Huntsman, Mitch Daniels, Mitt Romney—compelling. “He finds flaws in every one,” says a person familiar with his thinking.

“He thinks things are going in a bad direction,” another Republican close to Ailes told me. “Roger is worried about the future of the country. He thinks the election of Obama is a disaster. He thinks Palin is an idiot. He thinks she’s stupid. He helped boost her up. People like Sarah Palin haven’t elevated the conservative movement.”

In the aftermath of the Tucson rampage, the national mood seemed to pivot. Ailes recognized that a Fox brand defined by Palin could be politically vulnerable. Two days after the shooting, he gave an interview to Russell Simmons and told him both sides needed to lower the temperature. “I told all of our guys, ‘Shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually.’ ”

It’ll take time to wade through it and you’ll learn more about Beck’s departure even if you just don’t want to, but it’s worth it.  It’s sort’ve one of those karmic car wreck articles.

Economist and blogger Brad Delong delivered the harsh news with nifty graphs in Phoenix, Arizona.  He calls his speech:  The Economic Outlook as of May 2011: Yes, This Is Called the Dismal Science. Why Do You Ask?

But now we have a stubbornly persistent slump in the economy. Now we have economic growth at about our normal long-run pace, with very little signs of closing the gap between the productive capacity of the American economy and its current level of production. We have a Washington DC that is dysfunctional–out of ammunition to take any effective additional steps to boost the economy. There is now substantial fear of inflation–even though there are no signs of inflation gathering anywhere rather than energy and food prices, and we understand that those reflect China’s growing demand and not any domestic price spiral. There is now substantial fear of crowding out–that boosting US government spending or cutting taxes to get more money into the hands of the consumers would discourage private investment even though there are no signs of crowding out even at our rapidly-growing level of the national debt. It is a fact that a bunch of us–including me–think that there really should be signs of crowding out right now–that financial markets should be scared of the fiscal future of America–but they are not. And there is the problem that Washington DC has degenerated into pure Dingbat Kabuki theater on lots of levels.

It is a fact that if congress simply goes home–doesn’t do anything for the next 10 years except keep the federal government on autopilot, or if it does do things if it pays for whatever increases in spending it enacts by raising taxes and pays for whatever tax cuts it enacts by cutting spending–that we do not have a long run deficit problem. If congress goes home for ten years our program spending is matched to our tax revenues, which means a declining debt burden because the growth rate of the economy is larger than the interest rate on our debt.

Our belief that we have a long-run deficit problem is based upon the belief that congress will pass laws that increase spending and that cut taxes–that it will repeal the Independent Payment Authorization Board’s authority to try to make Medicare more efficient, that it will repeal the Affordable Care Act’s tax on high-cost health plans. Given that the fear is based on a belief that some future congress will bust the budget, it is hard to see how we can address this fear through any possible piece of legislation today–for no congress can bind its successors.

This is a problem.

Wow.  What a downer.  I bet he doesn’t get invited to any of the kewl kids’ cocktail parties there!

Spain continues to experience political unrest. Spanish Youth are demanding “real democracy now”.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Spain protesting a round of austerity measures and calling for a boycott of major political parties in Sunday’s regional elections. The protests began last week with a march denouncing high levels of youth unemployment. A large crowd established a tent camp in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol Square, defying an ordinance barring protests.

Protester: “I’ll attempt to stay here tonight, because I think it is very important to retake the streets that politicians have taken away from us to do their campaigning, preventing us from protesting. That is what we feel every day with lack of resources and a huge limitation of democracy. We cannot continue to tolerate this situation.”

The NYT has an interesting bible quiz up on sex and religion.  A lot of it on the so-called social issues that cause all those right wing screeds.  I found this question and answer particularly interesting.

The people of Sodom were condemned principally for [what]

“Sodomy” as a term for gay male sex began to be commonly used only in the 11th century and would have surprised early religious commentators. They attributed Sodom’s problems with God to many different causes, including idolatry, threats toward strangers and general lack of compassion for the downtrodden. Ezekiel 16:49 suggests that Sodomites “had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”

So, it wasn’t for being a haven for sex practices that offended puritans, it was for lack of compassion and generosity towards the poor.  Some one should phone Pat Robertson STAT!

There was a horrible tornado in Joplin Missouri last night.  It took out a hospital as well as many, many homes.  Here’s some footage of the aftermath.

A tornado also hit Minneapolis. Both tornadoes have caused fatalities. As always, the Red Cross and other responders are in need of more funds and you can give easily via your cellphone these days.  They are also responding to flood victims up and down the Mississippi.  I wonder what Pat Robertson will say since all of this appears to be hitting the bible belt?  Well, anyway, here’s a list of places accepting cash donations if you feel like taking up a collection.  We’re supposed to get our share of the weather by Thursday.  Hopefully it won’t add flash floods to the rising rivers and spillways.

Okay, well I have to go see a lady about some good drugs!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?