Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mary Jo White, the SEC nominee

Odd roll reversal here: in the NYT, Gretchen Morgenson argues that Mary Jo White will be tough on banks, while Andrew Ross Sorkin argues that her history is one of being tight with bankers.

More critiques of White from HuffPost and Matt Taibbi.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Scott Brown drunk tweeting

Scott Brown presumably drunk-tweeting the other night. Tweets have since been removed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The case against the inauguration speech

FAIR lays out the argument that what was labeled a liberal speech needs to be critiqued in the context of a president with not so liberal policies.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Obama's "Organizing for Action" as 501c4 accepting corporate donations

Democracy 21 on the Administration's new non-profit advocacy org:
The President and his political allies are creating a section 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, Organizing for Action. It will be governed and run by some of the President’s closest political operatives. 
The new organization has the stated purpose of advocating the President’s agenda and will accept unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals to pursue this goal. As far as I know, this is the first time a President has outsourced an important responsibility of his presidency to a private sector organization that is financed by unlimited private funds and that is, in effect, operating as an arm of the presidency.
I suspect we'll hear much more about this.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Slow news weekend in DC

No, really. There is one expected actual event of interest, which is Obama's speech. The White House hasn't given anything away, so it could be anything. There could be stuff of consequence, or not.

Beyond the speech, the rest of the weekend's story could be written in advance. No news, unless something unexpected happens. It's like the story in the paper the day after the 4th of July fireworks, or after a small snowstorm. You don't really need to read the paper the next day, nor read the pre-hype.

Now there have been some good (and bad) stories over the past days and weeks and months about what's ahead for the second term. But that's separate from the event of the inauguration festivities themselves.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Failing schools

Actually, not so much. Turns out that much-cited comparisons between U.S. test scores and those of other rich countries had a sampling error, and that if you adjust for class as a factor (that is, if we didn't have the disproportionately large number of poor people that we do, compared to other rich countries), all of a sudden we're actually doing well.  (EPI).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Inauguration rentals

Useful flashback: Urban Turf's Dec 2008 article on how few people who listed their places for inauguration rentals actually had takers.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Jon Stewart Embraces Right Wing Myth on McDonalds Coffee Case

It's a shame Jon Stewart has to sully his often good work with the periodic right wing line.

On Wednesday night, in his 2-segment piece on guns, he threw this in: (at 10:20)
People, God forbid, McDonald's doesn't tell you how hot their hot steaming coffee is. That happens, and you're taking the money train to McPunitive Damage Town. But an epidemic of gun violence? "Oh! We can't! Our hands are tied! We can't do anything!"
Haha, get it? We have all sorts of crazy rules on everything, except we can't have rules on guns. So McDonalds can't even serve hot coffee without a warning or they'll be sued by greedy people, cause remember that's what happened, right? Right?

Back in the real world, Stella Liebeck suffered 3rd degree burns from McDonalds coffee. Who could have imagined that would happen when they were serving the coffee 40-50 degrees hotter than other chains were? Perhaps the more than 700 people who had already filed claims against McDonalds for previous injuries, some severe.

If you want to see what the "money train to McPunitive Damage Town" really looked like for Ms. Liebeck, it is (warning) rather graphic.

More on the basics of the McDonalds case here. Also, the documentary.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


I liked Phyllis Bennis's piece today on Chuck Hagel.

He's not "good" per se, yet also he's far better than any of the likely alternatives. Of course, neither of these bars are exactly the measures we should use by themselves.

The strategy remains the same regardless -- call it as we see it, and push the administration to do what we want.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Ezra Klein as WH speaker

I'm not saying Ezra Klein is always right or always wrong. Or that his contrarian thing today ("Calm down, liberals. The White House won.") is necessarily 100% wrong. My hunch is to think it's significantly wrong but not totally so, but honestly I'm not following this all that much.

But it does strike me that he's taken this "here's the White House's argument" role quite comfortably at this point, time and time again. It can be presented with all sorts of favorable or unfavorable comment. But it bears noting that the White House seems really into giving him their notions of why they're not horrible sellouts, and he is the communicator of them, often but not always positively.

Why can't the White House plead their case themselves? Because, among other reasons, getting someone with a "left" background gives it credibility for the left. That's how messengers work. But I'm skeptical how much left cred Ezra has left.