Posted: March 6, 2021 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Covid relief bill, FBI, Filibuster, January 6 Capitol insurrection, Joe Biden, Joe Manchin, Proud Boys, Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Robert Scott Palmer, Senate, stimulus, Trump White House
Dona i gat, Myrtille Henrion-Pico
It looks like the Covid relief bill could finally pass the Senate after an all-nighter in which Biden himself was finally brought in to get Joe Manchin on board.
Politico: Senate reaches unemployment benefits deal, ending logjam on Covid aid bill.
Senate Democrats clinched a deal on Friday night over unemployment benefits that will smooth the upper chamber’s passage of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill this weekend.
After about a nine-hour delay following Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) resistance to an earlier agreement on jobless payments, party leaders announced a new accord with Manchin. The latest deal would provide $300 a week in extra unemployment benefits through Sept. 6, and up to $10,200 in tax relief for unemployed workers.
Democratic leaders also agreed to limit eligibility for that tax relief, restricting the tax-free status of the benefits to households with incomes under $150,000 a year.
By Ophelia Redpath, 1965
The White House quickly announced its support after endorsing the earlier compromise.
“The President supports the compromise agreement, and is grateful to all the senators who worked so hard to reach this outcome,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement on Friday night.
With Manchin’s objections eased, Democrats plowed forward with a marathon “vote-a-rama” — an all-night ordeal in which any senator can offer an amendment to Biden’s bill. The Senate is now on track to pass the package on Saturday….
After Senate passage, the bill will go back to the House, where lawmakers must approve the changes before it reaches Biden’s desk.
At The New York Times, Glenn Thrush reports: More Democrats join the effort to kill the filibuster as a way of saving Biden’s agenda.
A growing number of Senate Democrats are warming to the idea of eliminating the filibuster as they encounter Republican resistance to President Biden’s legislative agenda, forcing the White House to cut deals on issues like the minimum wage and pandemic relief payments.
If the founders envisioned the upper chamber as a “cooling bowl” to moderate more extreme bills passed by the House, the filibuster has often been a deep freezer, infamously deployed by Southern racists to quash reforms during the civil rights era….
Two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have said they will oppose any effort to do away with the rule, making any rollback a long shot. Mr. Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, have been noncommittal about eliminating the filibuster.
Two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have said they will oppose any effort to do away with the rule, making any rollback a long shot. Mr. Biden and Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, have been noncommittal about eliminating the filibuster….
By Tatyana Struchkova
On Thursday, Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota took to Twitter to declare her support for ending the filibuster. “The Senate needs to abolish the filibuster. It’s undemocratic,” she wrote, adding, “We need to move this country forward.”
A day earlier, Senator Amy Klobuchar, the state’s senior senator and a standard-bearer for her party’s moderate wing in 2020, said the likely demise in the Senate of a House voting rights bill had flipped her from a “maybe” to a “yes.” [….]
Another centrist, Jon Tester of Montana, has taken a wait-and-see approach, but signaled recently that he too might be open to killing the rule.
The investigations into the January 6 insurrection continue. Recent news:
The New York Times: F.B.I. Finds Contact Between Proud Boys Member and Trump Associate Before Riot.
A member of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys was in communication with a person associated with the White House in the days just before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.
Location, cellular and call record data revealed a call tying a Proud Boys member to the Trump White House, the official said. The F.B.I. has not determined what they discussed, and the official would not reveal the names of either party.
The connection revealed by the communications data comes as the F.B.I. intensifies its investigation of contacts among far-right extremists, Trump White House associates and conservative members of Congress in the days before the attack….
By Christilla Germain
Separately, Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys, told The New York Times on Friday that he called Roger J. Stone Jr., a close associate of former President Donald J. Trump’s, while at a protest in front of the home of Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida. During the protest, which occurred in the days before the Capitol assault, he put Mr. Stone on speaker phone to address the gathering.
A law enforcement official said that it was not Mr. Tarrio’s communication with Mr. Stone that was being scrutinized, and that the call made in front of Mr. Rubio’s home was a different matter. That two members of the group were in communication with people associated with the White House underscores the access that violent extremist groups like the Proud Boys had to the White House and to people close to the former president.
In response to this story, attorney Luppe B. Luppen (@Southpaw on Twitter) was reminded of an interesting January 6 tweet by CNN’s Jim Acosta:
This is interesting, from CNN: Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren quietly releases massive social media report on GOP colleagues who voted to overturn the election.
HuffPost reports that the FBI still haven’t arrested this guy who attacked police with a fire extinguisher: Revealed: The Star-Spangled Trumper Filmed Attacking Cops At The Capitol.
With bright red and white stripes across his body and stars down his sleeves, the man in the American flag jacket and “FLORIDA FOR TRUMP” hat wielded a fire extinguisher while charging the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6. He shoved his way through the crowd of rioters to the police line, then sprayed officers at close range before chucking the emptied canister at them. By nightfall he himself had been lightly harmed, apparently by a police crowd control munition. He held up his shirt to show off his bruised gut during an interview with a female journalist filming him live as cops pushed the mob back from Capitol grounds. Then he looked straight into her livestreaming device and identified himself as Robert Palmer from Clearwater, Florida.
By Andrie Martens
At this point, the man had not only assaulted federal officers before a sea of smartphones while wearing highly distinctive attire, he’d also willingly revealed his own name and hometown on video at the scene of the crime — while still in the same outfit.
This isn’t your typical “Florida Man” story, despite its absurdity. This is the story of a violent insurrectionist who’s still at large — nearly two months later — and one woman who joined the online sleuthing communities crowdsourcing their efforts to bring a Capitol attacker to justice.
Robert Scott Palmer is a white 53-year-old husband and father who runs Son Bright Systems, a cleaning and restoration business. His criminal record includes being sentenced on charges of battery and felony fraud.
HuffPost verified his identity through a search of public records and social media accounts associated with Palmer, after receiving a tip from Amy, a woman living in a rural area out west who in her free time joined the #SeditionHunters network, an online sleuthing community seeking to identify the hundreds of Trump supporters who rioted at the Capitol. (Amy is a pseudonym she chose to protect her privacy.)
Reached by phone late Thursday afternoon, Palmer confirmed he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and gave the livestream interview. He claimed that he’d done nothing to justify being struck with the police munition, and that the Biden administration was trying to “vilify the patriots” who were involved in the riot.
Read more about Palmer at the HuffPo link. I wonder why he’s still at large?
More stories to check out today:
Sandra Bierman, Yin Yang
Politico: Prominent retired generals aided Honoré review of Capitol security.
Raw Story: WATCH: QAnon-loving Capitol rioter thought JFK Jr would be ‘sworn in’ as Trump’s vice president on Jan 6
NBC News: Federico Klein, former Trump appointee charged in Capitol riot, wants jail cell without cockroaches.
Politico: Capitol riot shaman’s TV interview irks judge.
Newsweek: Rachel Powell, Capitol Rioter Known as ‘Bullhorn Lady,’ Indicted by Grand Jury.
The New York Times: Cuomo Is Told to Preserve Records at Issue in Sexual Harassment Inquiry.
CBS Evening News: Cuomo accuser alleges a staffer took sexual harassment training for the governor.
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: How Never Trumpers Are Becoming Pro-Democracy Republicans.
Madison.com: Ron Johnson: No decision on 2022 run, but leaving office is ‘probably my preference now.’
The New York Times: Democrats Want a Stronger Edge in the Senate. Ohio Could Be Crucial.
Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers!! This is an open thread.
Posted: September 17, 2012 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: Chicago Teacher's strike, Keynes, Man saved by Shark, stimulus
We’re headed towards fall and the season when everything is pumpkin-spiced. I selected some Harvest Pumpkin Ale by Blue Moon for the weekend. I haven’t quite hit the energy level to make pumpkin bread or muffins but I’m sure it will come soon. The a/c is beginning to stay off over night so the seasons must be changing.
I read a few things in the NYT that I thought I’d share today. The first one is up my alley: “Don’t Tell Anyone, but the Stimulus Worked”. Yup, Keynes is still relevant and so is the idea of using stimulus to recover from a recession.
On the most basic level, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is responsible for saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. The majority of economists agree that it helped the economy grow by as much as 3.8 percent, and kept the unemployment rate from reaching 12 percent.
The stimulus is the reason, in fact, that most Americans are better off than they were four years ago, when the economy was in serious danger of shutting down.
But the stimulus did far more than stimulate: it protected the most vulnerable from the recession’s heavy winds. Of the act’s $840 billion final cost, $1.5 billion went to rent subsidies and emergency housing that kept 1.2 million people under roofs. (That’s why the recession didn’t produce rampant homelessness.) It increased spending on food stamps, unemployment benefits and Medicaid, keeping at least seven million Americans from falling below the poverty line.
And as Mr. Grunwald shows, it made crucial investments in neglected economic sectors that are likely to pay off for decades. It jump-started the switch to electronic medical records, which will largely end the use of paper records by 2015. It poured more than $1 billion into comparative-effectiveness research on pharmaceuticals. It extended broadband Internet to thousands of rural communities. And it spent $90 billion on a huge variety of wind, solar and other clean energy projects that revived the industry. Republicans, of course, only want to talk about Solyndra, but most of the green investments have been quite successful, and renewable power output has doubled.
Americans don’t know most of this, and not just because Mitt Romney and his party denigrate the law as a boondoggle every five minutes. Democrats, so battered by the transformation of “stimulus” into a synonym for waste and fraud (of which there was little), have stopped using the word.
Actually, Romney appears to be a closet Keynesian. As usual, what he says depends on who he’s saying it to.
Edward Lazear, chairman of the Council on Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, released a paper last week attempting an empirical estimate of whether current unemployment is “structural” or “cyclical” and came down firmly on the side of a cyclical explanation. Released 12 months ago, that would have read as a powerful argument for the Democratic side in an ongoing argument about stimulus. But everyone knows that stimulus is not going to happen between now and the election. Instead, it’s a sign that prominent economists in GOP circles haven’t really abandoned the New Keynesian consensus in policy circles but were only putting it in cold storage to hobble President Obama. Earlier in August, Alesina published a new paper with two coauthors arguing that deficit-reduction plans do hurt growth after all—but only when they involve tax hikes. Together, these papers lay the foundation for a 2013 agenda of big, deficit-increasing tax cuts—coincidentally enough the exact same policy that was at the heart of Reagan and Bush administration economics.
Meanwhile, accepting the GOP nomination, Romney argued that “cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also put our security at risk”—a precisely Keynesian take on every Republican’s favorite form of government spending.
Romney also swore that “when nations cheat in trade, there will be unmistakable consequences.” The Republican platform more specifically argues that America should “impose countervailing duties if China fails to amend its currency policies.” That’s a policy whose previous most prominent advocate has been none other than ur-Keynesian Paul Krugman. More broadly, it’s an indication that Romney may be thinking of pursuing much-needed monetary policy stimulus and trying to frame it as a nationalistic anti-Chinese measure.
Romney’s inkled Keynesian type stimulus ideas before as mentioned in this Jonathan Chait analysis.
But in his Halperin interview, Romney frankly admits that reducing the budget deficit in the midst of an economic crisis would be a horrible idea:
Halperin: You have a plan, as you said, over a number of years, to reduce spending dramatically. Why not in the first year, if you’re elected — why not in 2013, go all the way and propose the kind of budget with spending restraints, that you’d like to see after four years in office? Why not do it more quickly?
Romney: Well because, if you take a trillion dollars for instance, out of the first year of the federal budget, that would shrink GDP over 5%. That is by definition throwing us into recession or depression. So I’m not going to do that, of course.
Romney says this as if it’s completely obvious that reducing the deficit in the short term would throw the economy back into recession, even though he and his party have been arguing the opposite case with hysterical fervor. Republicans have committed themselves to Austrian economic notions and other hoary doctrines justifying the position that reducing deficits is a helpful way out of a liquidity trap.
Isn’t it weird how Democrats are now afraid to talk about the stimulus plan and how it worked, but Mitt Romney appears to offer up Keynesian solutions when he’s not out race baiting in front of some right wingers? Does this man stay consistent on anything?
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is going to take Chicago teachers to court to end their strike.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that he will seek a court order to end the first teachers’ strike in the city in 25 years, which escalated on Sunday when the teachers’ union decided to extend their walk-out.
The strike has cancelled classes for 350,000 kindergarten, elementary and high school students in the United States’ third-largest school district and will enter its sixth day on Monday.
It risks friction within President Barack Obama’s political coalition, where many Democrats differ over approaches to education reform, ahead of the November 6 Presidential election against Republican Mitt Romney. Emanuel is Obama’s former top White House aide.
The mayor called the strike “illegal” on Sunday and said he would go to court to seek an injunction to block it.
“I will not stand by while the children of Chicago are played as pawns in an internal dispute within a union,” Emanuel said, adding that the union walked out over issues that are not subject to a strike under Illinois state law.
There is a lot at stake for every one in this strike. We’ve seen a lot of crap reform happen in the educational system recently that is not in the best interest of children. Breaking teachers unions happened in New Orleans. The results have not been good but that has not stopped the same types of reforms from creeping around the country. There is more here at stake than most people realize.
Under the guise of austerity measures, the burden of deficit reduction now becomes an excuse to remove public education from the discourse of freedom and social transformation. Within this regime of repressive schooling, education for the masses now consists of a “dumbing down” logic that enshrines top-down high-stakes testing, vocationalized education for the poor, schools modeled after prisons and teachers reduced to the status of mindless technicians.
The brave teachers in Chicago have had enough of this authoritarian and anti-democratic view of education. They have revolted in the name of a revolutionary ideal that inserts dignity and power back into teaching, and breathes vitality and substance back into the relationship between education and democracy. In rejecting the primacy of “the market as the sole principle of social and political organization,” they have recognized that what is at stake in the current struggle they face is “a whole generation ‘s sense of the future.”
They are reclaiming the right, if not the responsibility, to assert the civic duty of public education, address the issues of race, class and agency that over-determine the relations of power that bear down on schools; and assert that the real crisis of education is about the conditions of its democratic institutions and the teachers, students and citizens who are responsible for maintaining them.
And while the strike is close to being settled, the ideals it is fighting for are far from settled. The noble ideals and project underlying this strike are primarily focused on both the purpose of schooling, and the vital nature of public education in developing the formative culture necessary to produce the ideas, values, individuals and public spheres essential for the construction of a vibrant and substantive democracy.
Okay, here’s a good one. Shark SAVES man. Yes. It’s for real. This man was adrift on a boat for 5 weeks until …
Only a day after Falaile passed away a storm blew into the area and rained for several days allowing Teitoi to fill two five-gallon containers with a life-saving supply of fresh water.
“There were two choices in my mind at the time. Either someone would find me or I would follow my brother-in-law. It was out of my control.”
He continued to pray regularly and on the morning of September 11 caught sight of a fishing boat in the distance but the crew were unable to see him.
Dejected, he did what he had done most days, curling up under a small covered area in the bow to stay out of the tropical sun.
Mr Teitoi said he woke in the afternoon to the sound of scratching and looked overboard to see a six-foot shark circling the boat and bumping the hull.
When the shark had his attention it swam off.
“He was guiding me to a fishing boat. I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me.”
When the vessel Marshalls 203 pulled Mr Teitoi on board the first thing he asked for was a cigarette.
“They told me to wait. They took me to meet the captain, and they gave me juice and some food.”
What an amazing story!
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: June 14, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Banksters, child sexual abuse, children, Crime, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Barack Obama, Bob Shieffer, Catholic Church, Dodd-Frank bill, Face the Nation, first responders, Florida voter purge, Forest boy, Fox News, Grover Norquist, J.P. Morgan, Jamie Dimon, Jeb Bush, Jerry Sandusky, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney, pedophiles, public employees, Senate, stimulus, teachers
Wall Street Royal Jamie Dimon deigned to appear before a Senate Committee yesterday, and the Senators mostly sucked up to him. I’m surprised they didn’t ask if he needed a pillow for his chair. MSNBC: Senate treats JPMorgan CEO Dimon with kid gloves
Dimon was expected to receive a frosty reception in his first congressional appearance since he announced the bank sustained a trading loss some analysts now estimate is at least $3 billion. It was a massive loss for the nation’s biggest financial institution.
Instead, Dimon, who has won praise for bringing JPMorgan (JPM) through the financial crisis relatively unscathed, was treated cordially by most of members of the Senate Banking Committee. They peppered him with questions about regulation and risky practices at the bank, but did not press him to give an update on the losses resulting from the trade. JPMorgan is expected to give an update to shareholders when it reports its second-quarter earnings July 13.
“I think it was a pretty favorable day,” David Konrad, a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods banking analyst, told CNBC. Konrad said he was surprised that the questioning of Dimon by lawmakers was so “professional.”
Excuse me, “professional” for a Senator would have been sending this man to the woodshed. NPR’s Marketplace called the treatment of Dimon “a wake for Dodd-Frank.”
Yahoo has named the winner of the “Most Tepid Endorsement of Mitt Romney” contest: it’s a bumper sticker that reads “At least he’s not a communist.”
Until recently, it appeared that no one could unseat Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as the champion of the tepid Romney endorsement. Since Yahoo News started conducting reader polls on the politicians who supported Mitt Romney in the least enthusiastic terms, Daniels has defeated original champ George Pataki and defended the crown against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and George W. Bush. (The former president came the closest to unseating Daniels.)
We thought the book was closed on the tepid endorsement bracket until Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody spotted a bumper sticker at last weekend’s regional CPAC conference in Chicago bearing these words of praise: “At least he’s not a communist.”
You can read the other tepid endorsements at the link.
First Romney made fun of Obama for wanting to help cities and states pay for cops, teachers, and firefighters. Then he went on Fox News and said it was a “strange accusation” for anyone to say he didn’t want to hire teachers and first responders.
After an extended skewering of President Obama for a gaffe about the private sector last week, ending with the charge that it was proof the president was “out of touch” Romney was asked by Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade for his response to Obama saying it was Romney who was clueless (Romney’s comment comes at about the 1:40 mark) :
[BRIAN] KILMEADE: He says that you’re out of touch. He says you want to cut firefighters and teachers, that you don’t understand what’s going on in these communities. What do you say to that, Governor?
ROMNEY: Well, that’s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So, obviously that’s completely absurd.
But of course the federal government does subsidize states and they often use the money to pay for these public employees. In fact, the reason so many teachers, firefighters and cops are getting laid off now is because stimulus money has run out.
Yesterday Greg Sargent pointed out that Romney’s plan would indeed cut billions from cops, firefighters and teachers
Yesterday Mitt Romney claimed that it was “ completely absurd” of the Obama campaign to argue that he favors cutbacks in cops, firefighters and teachers. “The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen,” Romney said, adding that they were paid by states and localities.
What’s getting lost in the back and forth here is that Romney’s actual economic plan would, in fact, cut billions of dollars in federal money that goes to cops, firefighters, and teachers — perhaps more than $10 billion a year, in fact.
This is the conclusion of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which analyzed Romney’s plan through the prism of the debate over public workers at my request.
As Michael McAuliff reported yesterday, despite Romney’s claim, the federal government does give billions of dollars to states and localities through programs like Title 1, the COPS program, FEMA and others — which pay for first responders and teachers.
This is amazing. Romney finally broke down and decided to talk to a media source that isn’t Fox News! He will be on Face The Nation on Sunday morning.
A full year into his presidential campaign, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will venture out of his Fox comfort zone this Sunday to make his first appearance on a rival network’s political talk show.
Romney has been interviewed several times on ”Fox News Sunday” this campaign cycle, but has declined repeated invitations to appear on any of the other Sunday shows, occasionally drawing scorn from veteran anchors accustomed to interviewing presidential candidates.
Let’s hope Shieffer asks a few tough questions. One thing Shieffer will probably ask about is Romney’s choice of Vice President. One of the leading contenders, Marco Rubio, announced yesterday that he supports the illegal Florida voter purge.
“How can you argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls?” he said at a Bloomberg event, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Rubio’s comments put him in line with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) who on Tuesday declared the debate on the merits of the purge “over,” because the probe had supposedly turned up more than 50 non-citizen voters who had cast ballots.
The Department of Justice didn’t agree. Later Tuesday, it announced it was launching a federal lawsuit against Florida over complaints that the purge was taking place within 90 days of its August 14 primary election, as well as over its alleged violation of a voting rights law meant to prevent states from suppressing voters.
That might not help Romney win over Latino voters.
John Avlon has a piece at CNN on Jeb Bush and other “moderate” Republicans who are starting to fight back against Grover Norquist:
This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.
The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today’s hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge.
That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States.
And Jeb is not alone.
As it turns out, Norquist has reason to be concerned. It’s not just Jeb Bush. A growing number of Republicans are rejecting his pledge. Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn called the pledge’s effective veto of deficit reduction plans “ridiculous” when talking with Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday declared his independence from the pledge, saying, “We’re so far in debt, that if you don’t give up some ideological ground, the country sinks.”
Add to those voices seven other Republican U.S. senators — from Maine’s Susan Collins to Iowa’s Chuck Grassley to Wyoming’s John Barrasso — and 11 Republican House members, ranging from centrist New Yorker Richard Hanna to tea party Floridian Allen West.
In pedophile news, Jerry Sandusky had another bad day in court yesterday with three victims testifying that he manipulated and threatened them into putting up with his sick sexual behavior.
The trio of young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky on the third day of his sexual-abuse trial couldn’t have been more different in personality and temperament. Yet each of their testimonies was sexually graphic and disturbing—and midway through the prosecution’s fast-tracked arguments, a clear pattern has emerged in their allegations.
I’m not going to quote all of the sordid details–there are too many of them anyway. You can read it all at the link. I’ll just give you one excerpt that shows what Sandusky is all about:
Then, the witness told the jury of a time he visited the Sandusky home.
“We were in the basement. We were wrestling,” he said in a monotone frequently heard from abuse victims who have had to tell their stories multiple times. “The defendant pinned me to the floor, pulled down my gym shorts, and started to perform oral sex on me.” Asked by prosecutor Joe McGettigan what his reaction was at the time, the witness said, “I freaked out.”
“Did he ever say anything to you about it?” McGettigan asked.
“He told me if I ever told anyone I’d never see my family again,” the young man replied. “Later he apologized and said he didn’t mean it, that he loved me.”
I hope Sandusky goes to prison for life, and I want to see prosecutions of his enablers at Penn State. It’s an outrage that he was allowed to go on abusing children for years after many at the school knew about his behavior.
And then there’s the Catholic Church: U.S. Catholics still suspect priests sexually abuse children: Report
The National Review Board said that, a decade after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a child protection charter, there has been a “striking improvement” in the way the Church deals with the abuse of minors by clergy.
“Children are safer now because of the creation of safe environments, and action has been taken to permanently remove offenders from ministry,” said the report, released as the Conference began its annual spring meeting in Atlanta.
But it acknowledged: “Despite solid evidence (to the contrary), many of the faithful believe that sexual abuse by clergy is occurring at high levels and is still being covered up by bishops.”
Well, what did they expect? I’m certainly not surprised. In fact I’d be surprised if there aren’t still pedophile priests abusing children.
I’ll end with the strange story of “Forest Boy.”
Berlin police on Wednesday released photos an English-speaking teenage boy who wandered into the city nine months ago saying he had been living for the last five years in the forest with his father.
Police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said all attempts to identify the boy since he emerged in the German capital on Sept. 5 have been unsuccessful, and they are now hoping the release of his photo may produce some leads.
“We have checked his DNA against all missing person reports, sent the data to Interpol so that they could check it internationally, but unfortunately without any success,” Neuendorf said.
The boy has told authorities his father called him “Ray” and that he was born June 20, 1994, but claims not to know his last name or where he’s from.
He said his mother, Doreen, died in a car accident when he was 12 and after that he and his father, Ryan, took to the forest. He said they wandered using maps and a compass, staying in tents or caves overnight.
He told authorities that after his father died in August, 2011, he buried him in the forest and then walked five days north before ending up in Berlin, and showed up at city hall.
As of last night, the identity of the boy was still a mystery even after release of the photos.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: July 2, 2011 Filed under: Economy | Tags: austerity, Brad Delong, Economists v Politicians and Journalists, Larry Summers, Laura Tyson, Martin Wolf, Martin Wolfe, Paul Krugman, Peter Orzag, stimulus
melting magic mushrooms by spookychild
If you’re like me, you’ll get a big laugh out of Brad DeLong’s on-going tongue and cheek label of pretty much every economist as being a member of the “hippie caucus” simply for giving the MSM a lesson on economic theory. It’s not exactly the most complex model or theory that drives the idea that you deficit spend during a tough economy to create jobs and stimulate business. Every first year macroeconomic principles students learns that. My guess is that most of congress and the President never got that far.
So, here’s a list of Brad’s Hippie Caucus and the statements based on simple economic theory that puts them into membership. These are some big name economists basically saying what I’ve been saying for a few years now. The deficit is a long term problem. The immediate problem is business’ lack of customers. It’s an aggregate demand thing and increased government spending is the obvious policy remedy.
The first member is Laura Tyson who I’d really like to see as Treasury Secretary or head of the CEA again. She served under Bill Clinton. You remember Bill Clinton? He’s the one that had the best job creation record of any modern president.
But the overwhelming evidence suggests the opposite: when the economy has excess capacity, high unemployment and weak private demand, cuts in government spending reduce growth and eliminate jobs.
On this point, there is widespread agreement among experts. Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, recently warned that sudden fiscal contraction might put the still fragile recovery at risk. The June report from the C.B.O. contains a similar warning. Even William Gross of Pimco, a vocal critic of the long-term fiscal position of the government, cautions that a move toward fiscal balance, if implemented too quickly, could “stultify economic growth.”
As Simon Johnson noted in his recent Economix post, fiscal contractions are expansionary only under special conditions. None of these apply to the United States today.
So what should policy makers do? They should pair fiscal measures aimed at job creation now with a credible plan to reduce the deficit gradually –- and pass both at once, as a package. Approving a deficit-reduction plan but deferring its starting date until the economy is near full employment will cut the odds that immediate contraction will tip the faltering economy back into recession.
Indeed, passage of such a package could bolster growth by easing investor concerns about future deficits, reducing long-term interest rates and strengthening consumer and business confidence.
The next member is Larry Summers. You remember him, he’s the one we thought the President may have actually listened to when doing his economic policy thing? Well, I’ve apologized for thinking Summers turned his back on his credentials and I’m having to eat my words again.
SUMMERS: I worry about a number of things with respect to growth. Most profoundly I worry about lack of demand in the United States. That means that factory capacity is unused, it means that buildings sit empty, it means that too many people are unemployed. And I look for measure that will serve to promote the level of demand in the United States. That’s why using this moment to repair our infrastructure is so important. That’s why I believe that the payroll tax cuts that put money in people’s pockets and increased employers incentives to hire are so important. And that’s why I believe that opening foreign markets and promoting U.S. exports which creates more demand is so important. And China is obviously an important part of that story.
So we already know that Paul Krugman is in the Hippie Caucus, but here’s an addition via Krugman. Traxis Partners Hedge Fund multimillionaire Barton Biggs is saying the same thing. Surprisingly enough, this comes from the WSJ whose editors have drunk enough Grover Norquist koolaid to be dead heads.
The U.S. and Europe are set to grow at an anemic pace for the foreseeable future unless the government can step in with an enormous fiscal stimulus, according to a veteran investor.
Speaking exclusively with The Wall Street Journal, Barton Biggs, managing partner at multibillion dollar hedge fund Traxis Partners, painted a bleak outlook for the developed world with only huge government intervention likely to improve things.
Mr. Biggs, former chief global strategist for U.S. investment banking powerhouse Morgan Stanley, demanded the U.S. government temporarily return to ideas used in the Great Depression as a way to get the country back to higher growth.
“What the U.S. really needs is a massive infrastructure program … similar to the WPA back in the 1930s,” he says.
The plan would be to employ some of the many unemployed people, jump start the economy, as well as help catch up with Asia, which is building state-of-the-art infrastructure from new mechanized port facilities to high-speed trains.
He suggested financing such building through the sale of U.S. Treasuries.
Okay, so Mark Thoma’s on the list too. No surprise there either. However, this comment is not on his blog Economist’s View, it’s at the FT.
I disagree with them that immediate austerity is needed. The long-term budget problem in the US is driven mainly by rising health costs, and we have many years to go before this begins to create big budget problems. Thus waiting, say, two years to begin reducing the deficit will not substantially change the probability of big problems down the road. But delaying austerity measures avoids placing a further drag on an already struggling economy, so the likely benefits are relatively large.
One of the arguments for austerity is that it would give the Federal Reserve “increased room for manoeuvre to adopt further quantitative easing if the economy weakens further”. I agree that the Fed fears being placed in the position of appearing to monetise the debt, but again I do not think immediate action is needed. A budget plan that both political parties can agree to, which is implimented only when the economy is stronger, would do a lot to give the Fed the confidence it needs to act.
Here’s a member of the Hippie Caucus from across the Pond. That would be no other than the FT’s Martin Wolfe. He sums it up nicely by saying “enjoy the coming slump” but if you want to read the wonky way of saying it, here it is.
Few doubt there is excessive private sector debt in a number of high-income countries. But how is it to be reduced? The BIS notes four answers: repayment; default; higher real incomes; and inflation. Let us rule out the last and focus on the first. Repayment means spending less than one’s income. That is what is happening in the US private sector (see chart). Households ran a financial deficit (an excess of spending over income) of 3.5 per cent of gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2005. This had shifted to a surplus of 3.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2011. The business sector is also running a modest surplus. Since the US has a current account deficit, the rest of the world is also, by definition, spending less than its income. Who is taking the opposite side? The answer is: the government. This is what a controlled depression means: every sector, other than the government, is seeking to strengthen its balance sheet at the same time.
Another former Obama adviser that’s in the Hippie Caucus and may join my list of people that most likely quit Obama because he wasn’t listening to any economists. That would be none other than former budget director Peter Orzag. You know I thought Christie Romer was a good one and was confused when she was supporting that weak ass stimulus. I’m now even wondering about Austin Goolsbee.
Today’s fiscal policy debate straddles two divides: one between those who support jobs and those who favor austerity, and one between those who think additional revenue is needed and those who don’t.
On the first divide, both sides are right, because the truth is that the U.S. needs both jobs and austerity — and a combination would be more powerful than either piece by itself. We face a very weak labor market now and, over the medium- and long-term, an unsustainable fiscal path. It would make sense to combine an additional round of temporary job creation measures with a substantial amount of permanent deficit reduction that would be enacted now but take effect later.
So, I’ve been blogging around here like my hair’s on fire pretty much since this financial crisis set in. I wrote the Obama stimulus was too little and too focused on tax cuts to appease the few Republicans resident in a then overwhelmingly Democratic Congress with a president with a mandate and political capital. I blogged that we didn’t need to extend the Bush tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires because they were the only ones that were recovering nicely. I blogged that the President should forget about health care reform and focus like a laser on the sour economic recovery. I also said that all that would do would give the Republicans more hot air come the negotiations for the debt ceiling increase. I’ve blogged repeatedly that businesses–no matter what the tax rates or the rate of interests–are not going to spend their money on capital or labor here in the US because they need customers first and foremost. I’ve also written extensively that all this cheap Fed money at the discount window and tax breaks for industry was likely to be used in places like Asia instead of here in the U.S. Brad DeLong has done an excellent job showing you that many, many top economists believe the same things. So, next time any one tells you that all economists are always caught off-guard, please remember all of this.
I truly believe that Republicans are trying to tank the economy and that Barack Obama is either tacitly or complicity or ignorantly going right down the garden path with them. Again, if you’ve got terminal cancer and need surgery to save your life do you call some one who has never gone to med school to operate on you? If you’re wrongly accused of murder and you need some one to argue that you’re innocent, do you want some one that’s never been to law school to represent you? Why or why do so many idiots in the press, in the congress, and in the White House think they know more about the economy and the financial markets than those of us that have spent our lives researching, studying, and doing it?
We should be rioting in the streets like the English and the Greeks. Instead,we’re acting like sheep to the slaughter. What our government is doing right now is actively working against the interests of its people. There are laws in place that require it to responsibly handle the economy and create jobs. They are doing the exact opposite of this. We need to get mad. Voting for idiots is not working.
Posted: October 29, 2009 Filed under: Bailout Blues, Equity Markets, Global Financial Crisis, The Bonus Class, U.S. Economy | Tags: Great recession, Real economic Growth, REAL GDP, stimulus
In what is undoubtedly good news, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis (Dept. of Commerce) has announced that REAL GDP grew by approximately 3.5% in the third quarter of 2009. That is up from the second quarter growth of .7%. It appears that the economy may be rebounding from the so-called “Great Recession”. However, as with everything, the devil is in the details and the details show that this occurred because of government support. This will be good news for those folks that supported the Stimulus Plan. Details underlying the growth still show that the private sector, however, has yet to pick up slack. This means the growth has not worked its way through the economy in a way that makes it firmly sustainable. The increase in Consumer spending seem rooted firmly in the cash-for-clunkers program as well as the tax credits to first time home buyers. These programs have ended so now we have to look for sustainable consumer spending in areas not financially supported by government programs.
Policy makers will now focus on whether the recovery, supported by federal assistance to the housing and auto industries, can be sustained into 2010 and generate jobs. The record $1.4 trillion budget deficit limits President Barack Obama’s options for more aid, while Federal Reserve officials try to convince investors that the central bank will exit emergency programs in time to prevent a pickup in inflation.
“A lot of this is thanks to government support,” Kathleen Stephansen, chief economist at Aladdin Capital Holdings LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “The consumer, in fact private demand in general, is not ready yet to pick up the growth baton from the government.”
There has yet to be any signs that improvements will be permanent. The Labor Market, traditionally sticky, has yet to turn around in a fundamentally good way.
A report from the Labor Department showed 530,000 workers filed claims for jobless benefits last week, more than anticipated and signaling the job market is slow to heal even as growth picks up.
There is an extremely good piece over at Naked Capitalism that explains the situation right now called “The choice is between increasing or decreasing aggregate demand” written by Edward Harrison of Credit Writedowns.
(It’s a bit wonky so be forwarned.)
As I see it, the issue we are debating has to do with how the government responds when large debts in the private sector constrain demand for credit in the face of a severe economic shock and fall in aggregate demand. In short, if private sector debt levels are so high that a recession precipitates private sector credit revulsion, how should government respond?
This is a good question as it gets to the heart of what to do next if you’re the government and it reflects reality on the ground which are the constraints facing the economy due to continuing credit market problems. The one thing that the discussion fails to address is the fact that quantitative easing by the Fed is not feeding into the credit markets as much as it appears to be feeding a bubble on Wall Street eagerly supported by the Great Vampire Squid and other enemies spawning in the unfathomable deep. The article focuses on the paradox of thrift and the question “Do we really want the private sector to save at the moment?”
The deal is, we’ve plenty of money circulating through the financial markets at the moment because of actions by the FOMC and of course, the Treasury. The problem is where it’s going. Easy money is financing merger activities and arbitrage rather than underlying investment that promotes long run economic growth. This is the same bubble-producing activity that brings us to no good ends. We really don’t need savings as much to fund business as much as we need business to feel like it can make commitments to job-producing, goods and servicing producing capital investments funded by the financial sector that should be forced to stop its casino banking activities. If anything, we need savers to step up and buy government debt, sort’ve an any bonds today movement to stop our reliance on foreign sources and free ourselves of obligations to human rights violators like the Chinese and Saudis.
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