July 28, 2011

Yikes! Congressman Polis: 3.75% – 2.98% = 1.75% — “almost 2%”

Filed under: blog,Economy,humor,ignorance,Politics — Tony Whitson @ 6:50 pm
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Note: An updated and expanded post on this is now at

OK, I know the GOP ideology drunkards with their mantra about job-killing taxes are exhibiting potentially catastrophic ignorance, mendacity, or both.

Having said that, what about this stunning performance by Jared Polis (D-CO) in the debate on the House floor today (July 28, 2011): 2½ minutes were yielded to Polis so he could present prepared remarks, equiped with a neatly-printed three-color chart showing yields and interest rates paid by countries rated AAA vs. AA. The bottom line in each column listed average interest rates as 3.75% for the countries rated AA (which is what could happen to the US as a result of this nonsense) vs. 2.98% for countries with a AAA rating (like the US has today).

In prepared remarks, with the poster facing everybody, Polis said that the difference between those interest rates is “1.75% … almost 2%,” and went on about how much this difference would amount to in interest payments on debts in the trillions over ten years.

With compound interest on that much over that long, even the difference between his “2%” and the actual .77% difference between the rates he was showing would be quite substantial!

How could anybody watching not have seen this? Apparently, the GOP Congressman who followed to answer him did not see it. I don’t know if anybody mentioned it after that.

Congress members have the privilege of correcting their floor speeches before they are permenantly published in the Congressional Record. I’ll be interested in seeing if this one does get corrected.

And these people are making the decisions about our nation’s finances?


December 14, 2008

A way out re: Illinois Senate Quandry?

Filed under: Politics — Tony Whitson @ 12:22 pm
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What to do about filling the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama?

It’s a tough question. Blago’s not going away on his own. To have the State Supreme Court toss out an elected governor would be uncomfortable, to say the least. Impeachment will take time so — no matter how warranted — it’s not desirable to leave the Senate seat vacant for that long. New legislation for a special election — and then the election itself — would also take time, and cost Illinois taxpayers tons of money at a time when they don’t need the extra expense.

But must the Senate seat remain tied to Blago’s political and legal destiny? I don’t think so. Nobody’s going to pay him a dime, now, for his nomination; so it wouldn’t cost him anything to give up the nomination, while remaining in his office. In fact, if the nomination were removed from the equation, that would relieve a lot of the pressure and the urgency for getting him removed.

Here’s how it could work: Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn could announce that (in consultation with whomever) he has chosen an impeccable nominee for the Senate seat, and the chorus could go up from around the state for Blagojevich to give his formal nomination to that person — with demands for his immediate resignation becoming at least a little bit less urgent.

Hon. Ann Claire Williams

Hon. Ann Claire Williams

And what kind of person could be nominated? Here’s my own pick: The Honorable Ann Claire Williams, United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (in Chicago, where she’s been since 1975).

A sketch of her life and career is featured on a web page for the 2008 meeting of the American Bar Association, in connection with her receiving the Margaret Brent Award [PDF].

I’m suggesting Judge Williams partly as an example of the kind of quality person who could be considered who is legitimately from Illinois, and qualified for the office, but without a history of entanglement in Illinois state politics. Surely, there are others.

In political terms, though, Judge Williams could be distinctively attractive as a non-partisan nominee for the position. There might be resistance to a Democratic appointee at a time when it’s not clear that Democrats could hold the seat in a special election; but Williams was appointed to the District Court by Ronald Reagan, and then to the Court of Appeals by Bill Clinton, and Wikipedia cites this statement on her political views:

In an article in the Chicago Tribune on December 11, 1999, Williams declined to say whether she is a Republican or a Democrat, instead calling herself politically independent. “I’ve written on thousands of cases across the board, and I think it would be hard to type me,” she said. “I don’t think there is a type. I am not in Congress. We don’t legislate in the courts.”

Here are the biographic details from the Federal Judicial Center:

Williams, Ann Claire

Born 1949 in Detroit, MI

Federal Judicial Service:
Judge, U. S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
Nominated by Ronald Reagan on March 13, 1985, to a new seat created by 98 Stat. 333; Confirmed by the Senate on April 3, 1985, and received commission on April 4, 1985. Service terminated on November 17, 1999, due to appointment to another judicial position.Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Nominated by William J. Clinton on August 5, 1999, to a seat vacated by Walter J. Cummings, Jr.; Confirmed by the Senate on November 10, 1999, and received commission on November 15, 1999.

Wayne State University, B.S., 1970University of Michigan, M.A., 1972Notre Dame Law School, J.D., 1975

Professional Career:
Law clerk, Hon. Robert A. Sprecher, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, 1975-76
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chicago, Illinois, 1976-1985
Deputy chief, Criminal Receiving and Appellate Division, 1980-1983
Chief, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, Northern Central Region,1983-1985
Adjunct professor and lecturer, Northwestern University Law School, 1979-present
Adjunct professor and lecturer, John Marshall Law School, 1979-present

Race or Ethnicity: African American

Gender: Female

December 13, 2008

Blago’s hair: Sign of Insanity, or Homage to Johnny Carson character?

Filed under: blog,humor,Politics — Tony Whitson @ 2:13 pm
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Staff reporter Stefano Esposito at the Chicago Sun-Times raises the question: Is Blago’s hair a sign of sickness? He reports:

Gov. Blagojevich’s glossy locks — perfectly sculpted in rain or snow — may be an indication of a sickness beneath his scalp, said one local psychologist.

“It’s all part of managing his image, managing his image of being without a blemish, without a flaw,” said Scott Ambers, who has practiced clinical psychology in the city for more than two decades.

Several psychologists interviewed one day after the governor’s arrest agreed that he might be suffering from an affliction known as narcissistic personality disorder.

Johnny Carson as "Art Fern" -- with Carol Wayne

Johnny Carson as "Art Fern" -- with Carol Wayne

Apparently, this reporter, and the psychologists he interviewed, are deficient in the “Cultural Literacy” wikipedia to recognize Blago’s hairdo as an homage to the late Johnny Carson — and, more specifically, to Carson’s “Art Fern” character wikipedia.

Here are a couple clips of Art Fern with Carol Wayne:

And here’s one with the Governor himself:

October 24, 2008

McCain volunteer’s hoax recalls 1976 Wisconsin Regnery hoax

Filed under: blog,Politics,racism — Tony Whitson @ 8:03 pm
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Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old volunteer for the McCain campaign, admitted she lied in reporting a politically motivated attack that did not occur, according to police. (College Republicans)

Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old volunteer for the McCain campaign, admitted she lied in reporting a politically motivated attack that did not occur, according to police. (College Republicans)

The pathetic story of a McCain worker’s false report of being attacked, and cut on the face with a knife, by “a 6-foot-4 black male” —

“You are going to be a Barack supporter,” she said the robber told her before he sat on her chest, pinned her hands down with his knees and scratched the letter “B” on the right side of her face, using what she believed to be a very dull knife.

— seems to be a bizarre, isolated incident involving one sick individual.

But the incident is not so unique as we might expect.

Al Regnery is now identified with Regnery Publishing, Inc. Under his father’s leadership, the company published ideological but often intellectually respectable conservative and anti-communist books. Under the editorship of Marjory Ross, they now specialize in publishing raw sewage on the level of the Politically Incorrect Guides series.

Regnery served in the Reagan Justice Department as administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, where he “concentrated his office’s efforts on right-wing pet causes such as school discipline and the administration’s antipornography crusade.”

As reported in a New Republic story, when Regnery was running for DA in Dane County (Madison) Wisconsin in 1976:

In late October 1976 Regnery was winding up a campaign to become district attorney in Madison, Wisconsin. His wife had called the police three times in the weeks before the election to complain of obscene phone calls and vandalism. Regnery held a press conference to charge that his political opponents were using “Watergate-style tactics” to force him out of the race. When his wife called the police on the afternoon of October 31, 1976, the charge was much more serious. Christina Regnery, who was eight months pregnant, told police that two men broke into her home and warned that her husband should drop out of the race for district attorney. Then she said the two men had cut her with an embroidery knife and forced her to have oral sex.

The police investigation concluded that Christina Regnery had fabricated the entire incident–and Alfred Regnery told police that he too had “given serious thought” to that possibility. No neighbors had seen anything unusual, there was no sign of forced entry in the Regnery house, and no sign of struggle. In addition, although Christina Regnery had 73 slash marks on her body, none was serious. “Not a single cut required a stitch or a Band-Aid,” said one law-enforcement official involved. The police report concluded that “the infliction of the wounds on Mrs. Regnery are still questionable and may have been self-inflicted or done by subjects known to her. There is no indication that any unknown subjects inflicted any of the injuries.” Regnery and the police agreed that they would “pursue the possibility of self-inflicted injuries.” The report also said that it was “decided at this time that Mr. Regnery would not disclose any of the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

Only minutes later, however, Regnery told a newspaper reporter in the hospital corridor, according to the police report, “that his wife had been raped by a white male and a black male and had been stabbed. … The wounds had been stitched.” Of course, his wife had never alleged that she was raped, she was clearly not the victim of a stabbing, and she had not required any stitches. But Regnery’s false claims were useful to his campaign. The headline in the Madison paper, “Two Attack Wife of D.A. Candidate,” seemed to substantiate Regnery’s earlier charges. Nevertheless, Regnery lost the election.

This most recent hoax looks like one more expression of a fear fantasy with deep roots in a collective psyche of Americans among whom such stories meet ready credulity.

October 9, 2008

CNN on Bill Ayers and Barak Obama

Filed under: blog,Politics — Tony Whitson @ 6:53 pm
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This clip is posted on YouTube with the title ‘CNN: Obama’s relationship with Ayers “much deeper than Obama said.”‘ Actually, the report provides the information, but without substantiating the insinuation that Obama has ever said that the relationship was any less than this.

Bill O’Reilly’s producers have been trying to set up a segment on Ayers for their show Tuesday, Oct. 14.

October 6, 2008

Mighty Mouse McCain

Filed under: blog,Economics,Economy,Politics,Uncategorized — Tony Whitson @ 9:04 pm
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“Here I come to save the day!”

That’s what I was hearing when John McCain announced that he was suspending his campaign and rushing back to Washington to take care of the economic crisis.

He had said that economics was not his forté. Now he was saying that what the nation needs is not people who understand economics — what we need is somebody who can lead us in a crisis, and John McCain is that kind of leader. “Here I come to save the day!”

I was thinking I might Photoshop McCain’s head onto a picture of Mighty Mouse, as he appeared when that line was sung in his theme song. When I googled Mighty Mouse, I discovered that Barney Frank himself already made the connection:

“McCain is Andy Kaufman in his Mighty Mouse costume – ‘Here I Come to Save the Day,'” Frank said as he left a Thursday morning caucus meeting with House Democrats, saying the Republican presidential candidate’s decision to enter the mix “is not helpful.”

“He hasn’t been involved,” Frank said. “He doesn’t know anything about it.”

I hadn’t known about the Andy Kaufman bit, but here it is:

May 28, 2008

Scott McClellan, & Perino’s ‘Missile Crisis’ crisis

From the Washington Post:

Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. on Iraq

By Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 28, 2008; Page A01

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated “political propaganda campaign” led by President Bush and aimed at “manipulating sources of public opinion” and “downplaying the major reason for going to war.”

This shows the importance for the Cheney Administration of having staff of the caliber of McClellan’s current successor Dana Perino, who is blissfully lacking in the consciousness that could lead to such a betrayal of the Administration’s deceitful and conniving ways.

Remember this (also as reported in the Washington Post)?:

Perino’s ‘Missile Crisis’ Confession . . . .

Appearing on National Public Radio‘s light-hearted quiz show “Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me,” which aired over the weekend, Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis — and she didn’t know what it was.

“I was panicked a bit because I really don’t know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis,” said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. “It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I’m pretty sure.”

So she consulted her best source. “I came home and I asked my husband,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Wasn’t that like the Bay of Pigs thing?’ And he said, ‘Oh, Dana.’ “

(See also: Sad Day for U of I schools)

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