Wow, what a boom in my neighborhood at 2:28 am ET. I'd say the Space Shuttle Endeavour just returned.
"Non Means Non." Maureen Dowd writes about the effects on French attitudes about gender issues in the wake of the DSK scandal. ...
... I've posted a comments page for Dowd's column on Off Times Square. Comment on Dowd's column or what you will. I just added my comment.
Neil Irwin of the Washington Post: "The U.S. economic recovery is faltering. Manufacturing — a consistent driver of growth over the past year -- slowed dramatically last month, according to data released Wednesday. Private job creation was exceptionally weak in May, other data showed Wednesday. Adding to that, home prices are falling, consumers are spending less, and companies are laying off more workers, according to other recent reports." CW: who could possibly have known? ...
... Dina ElBoghdady of the Washington Post: "The Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index shows that single-family home prices fell 4.2 percent nationally in the first quarter from the previous quarter, leading analysts to conclude that prices have fallen by more than they did during the Great Depression."
** Early Primaries. David Leonhardt of the New York Times: two "... economists estimated that an Iowa or New Hampshire voter had the same impact as five Super Tuesday voters." The early primary system "distorts economic policy in several damaging ways. Most obviously, the federal government has lavished subsidies on ethanol ... partly because candidates pander to the Iowa corn industry.... A recent peer-reviewed study found that early-voting states received more federal dollars after a competitive election — so long as they supported the winning candidate." Iowa & New Hampshire also are "so unrepresentative.... Their populations are growing more slowly than the rest of the country’s. Residents of Iowa and New Hampshire are more likely to have health insurance. They are older than average. They are more likely to work in manufacturing. Above all, Iowa and New Hampshire lack a single big city.... So the presidential calendar becomes another cause of what Edward Glaeser, a conservative-leaning Harvard economist, calls our 'anti-urban policy bias.'”
Zachary Goldfarb of the Washington Post: "President Obama on Tuesday nominated former electric utility executive John E. Bryson as his next Commerce secretary. ... Bryson spent nearly two decades as the head of the largest utility in North America, Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, and today serves as a senior adviser to the private-equity giant Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts. He also is a director of Boeing and Walt Disney, a former energy regulator in California and a noted environmentalist who co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council.... Senate Republicans immediately vowed Tuesday to block the nomination in a dispute with Obama and Senate Democrats over outstanding free-trade agreements."
S.E.C. = Swindlers & Excrement Collaborators. Louise Story & Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times: "How [Fabrice] Tourre [of Goldman Sachs] alone came to be the face of mortgage-securities fraud has raised questions among former prosecutors and Congressional officials about how aggressive and thorough the government’s investigations have been into Wall Street’s role in the mortgage crisis. In the fall of 2009..., his lawyers drafted private responses to the S.E.C., maintaining that Mr. Tourre was part of a 'collaborative effort' at Goldman.... Now, however, as criticism has grown about the lack of cases brought by regulators, the scope of the inquiries appears to be widening. The United States attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., has said publicly that his lawyers were reviewing possible charges against other Goldman officials...."
In a Washington Post op-ed, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner touts the success of the auto industry bailouts.
Sorry to be so late on this, but I've been preoccupied. Paul Krugman has a terrific response to Jared Bernstein's post (see yesterday's Commentariat) on Krugman's last column. Krugman offers a brief laundry list of the Obama Administration's misjudgments about the stimulus and the jobs crisis.
I'm literally behind the Times here, too. Robert Pear of the New York Times: "The administration plans to establish “Medicare spending per beneficiary” as a new measure of hospital performance." ...
... Krugman writes, "I do believe that many people in the commentary business can manage to read stories like this, tut-tut about the difficulties, and then — in the very next breath — complain that Obama is doing nothing to limit the growth of health care costs. The point is that this is what cost control looks like. Things like the Ryan plan, which just shift the cost of care onto seniors, are fake; this is the real thing." ...
... Anecdotal Evidence. A friend writes, "A transfer service charges $1,500 a day, three times a week, to take my sister-in-law from a nursing home to a dialysis center ten miles away. No wonder Medicare is in trouble." ...
... Mediscare Claims Redux. Roger Simon, in the Chicago Sun-Times: "The Republicans have wrapped their arms around the Ryan plan, and public opinion be damned, they are hugging it. The Democrats are delighted. They are planning to turn that hug into a death grip." Thanks to Jeanne B. for the link.
We Voted against It before We Voted for It. Adam Sorensen of Time: "The House of Representatives voted 97-318 against increasing the federal borrowing limit by $2.4 trillion without preconditional spending cuts on Tuesday night. The Republican leadership designed the vote to fail: They used a procedural trick to require a 2/3 majority for passage and convinced every last member of their caucus to oppose it. The idea, they said, was to prove ... that raising the debt ceiling won’t happen without a package of accompanying spending cuts.... Tuesday’s failed vote only served to provide political cover for members of Congress who will eventually have to back the incredibly unpopular increase in borrowing capacity."
Right Wing World *
... if someone is attending speeches from someone who is promoting the violent overthrow of our government, that’s really an offense that we should be going after — they should be deported or put in prison. -- Rand Paul
Alex Seitz-Wald of Think Progress: Rand Paul, staunch defender of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, obviously isn't too keen on the First Amendment.
Alex Altman of Time. Former Republican governors Jon Huntsman & Tim Pawlenty face questions about their prior expressions of support for the dreaded individual mandate. CW: If they weren't running away so fast from their original sensible support for the mandate and other Republican base bugaboos, their presidential candidacies would be more credible. ...
... As Verum Serum highlights in this terrific RINO video, Huntsman's reasonable stances on a number of hot-button issues make him radioactive among the nut jobs of his party's base:
"The $7 Trillion Lie." Judd Legum of Think Progress: "Sarah Palin, in the only interview she’s granted during her 'One Nation' bus tour, claimed that the U.S. federal debt had grown more under Obama than 'all those other presidents combined.' [whoever they were; she's not sure] ... When Obama took office the debt stood at $10.6 trillion. After inheriting two wars and the worst economy since the Great Depression, the debt has grown by $3.7 trillion since Obama has been in office. Palin is off by about $7 trillion.... The deficit ... has increased less under Obama than our last president, George W. Bush. Under President Bush..., the deficit increased by $4.9 trillion." With video.
* Where facts are sometimes hard to hide, but it's always worth a try.
Tax-Free Texas. Zaid Jilani of Think Progress: "In Texas, state lawmakers — overwhelmingly conservative Republicans — ... passed a bill that would tighten sales tax rules and force many online retailers to begin collecting sales taxes just like any other business. This morning, [Gov. Rick] Perry quietly vetoed the bill, protecting Amazon and other large retailers’ tax-dodging...."
Austerity, Christie-Style. Anahad O'Connor of the New York Times: "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hopped in a state helicopter on Tuesday afternoon and headed for an event that is not exactly considered important business: His son’s baseball game.... A rising star in the Republican party who some consider presidential material, Mr. Christie has ... tak[en] a hard line on state and local spending, forcing deep budget cuts and proposing budget reforms to eliminate waste.... The Star Ledger reported that Mr. Christie had no public events on his schedule Tuesday. But he did have an event scheduled at 6:30 p.m. at the governor’s mansion..., a meeting with a group of Iowa donors looking to persuade him to run for president in 2012." CW: Sometimes a governor just has to do a little something for himself.
Patrick Marley & Emma Roller of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "State election officials on Tuesday approved recall elections against three Republican senators but put off decisions on certifying recall petitions against three Democrats." That puts the number of recall elections at six for Republicans and, as yet, zero for Democrats. Naturally, Republicans are crying foul. The election board, which all state Republicans voted to create four years ago, is nonpartisan.
Pugilistic Politicians. Kevin McDermont of the Political Fix: "Illinois' rough-and-tumble politics took a turn for the literal late Tuesday, as a northern Illinois Democrat allegedly punch[ed] a Metro East Republican on the Senate floor after a debate over utility legislation. The altercation took place during a lull in the long final day of the legislative session Tuesday, with no reporters around to witness it." Oh, shoot, it would have been so much better if we'd had a video.
President Obama will meet with House Republicans this morning. Should be fun. AP story here. Washington Post Update: "Republican lawmakers demanded Wednesday that President Obama produce a detailed plan to cut government spending in return for agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. But there was no indication that the White House meeting resulted in any progress on the issue, despite an Aug. 2 deadline to increase the federal debt limit or risk defaulting on obligations."
AP: "Space shuttle Endeavour and its six astronauts returned to Earth early Wednesday, closing out the next-to-last mission in NASA's 30-year program with a safe middle-of-the-night landing. Endeavour glided down onto the runway one final time under the cover of darkness, just as Atlantis, the last shuttle bound for space, arrived at the launch pad for the grand finale in five weeks."
AP: "Government media said the daughter of a prominent Iranian dissident died of a heart attack while attending her father's funeral Wednesday, but opposition websites said she died in a scuffle with security forces. Haleh Sahabi, 54 and a prominent activist and rights campaigner herself, collapsed and died Wednesday at the funeral of her father. He died on Tuesday."
Terrorists in the Heartland? (Bowling Green, Kentucky) Daily News: "Two Iraqi refugees living in Bowling Green were arraigned today on federal terrorism charges -- including accusations of attempting to kill U.S. troops with explosive devices in Iraq. Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, are charged in a 23-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Bowling Green on May 26. The men made their initial federal court appearance today in Louisville."