Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 26, 2009

WEDNESDAY'S MINI-REPORT.... Today's edition of quick hits:

* In a bit of a surprise, new U.S. home sales jumped 9.6% in July, beating analysts' expectations for the fourth straight month.

* The Cash for Clunkers program wrapped up this week, and led to nearly 700,000 new car sales. The program, which most have deemed a success, came in under its $3 billion budget.

* South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's (R) troubles got worse today when Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R) urged Sanford to resign, and vowed not to seek another term if the governor would finally step down. Sanford said he would not be "railroaded" out of office.

* If Massachusetts lawmakers are still willing to change the process for replacing U.S. senators, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) would sign a bill into law.

* Funeral arrangements were announced today for Edward Kennedy. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, just 95 feet south of the area where his older brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, were laid to rest.

* Vice President Biden delivered a heartfelt tribute to Kennedy today. The two served together for nearly four decades.

* The Vietnam Veterans of America, a national advocacy group, is not at all impressed with the vile, right-wing "death book" attacks.

* Betsy McCaughey continues to be poison for the political discourse.

* Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh are no better.

* In light of President Obama's decision to re-nominate Ben Bernanke at the Fed, James K. Galbraith's piece in the new issue of the Monthly is all the more significant.

* You know that attack on the Colorado Democratic Party Headquarters? The initial reports suggested it was the work of enraged right-wing activists. There may be more to it than that.

* It looks like Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is going for the full "birther" after all.

* And, as the anniversary of the Hurricane Katrina disaster approaches, right-wing radio host Neal Boortz today referred to the victims of the story as human "debris." You stay classy, conservatives.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (41)

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Comments

Did Bauer tell Sanford to take a hike?

Posted by: TonyB on August 26, 2009 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

"In a bit of a surprise, new U.S. home sales jumped 9.6% in July, beating analysts' expectations for the fourth straight month."

Sales of new U.S. homes in July were DOWN 13 PERCENT from July of 2008. Sales of new U.S. homes were also DOWN in April, May, and June from April, May, and June of 2008.

Also, the median price of a new home declined ANOTHER 12 percent in July from July 2008.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 26, 2009 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Friday: Yeah, and the value of my stock portfolio is down since last July, too. But if it's doing better this month than last, isn't that a reason to be happy? It too 8 years to get us into this mess, we won't get out overnight. But any improvement is a good thing.

Posted by: T-Rex on August 26, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Andre Bauer may be a Republican, but he's making sense. And may I just add that I loved him in Homicide: Life on the Street.

Posted by: Matt on August 26, 2009 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

How does McCaughey manage to get labeled "patient advocate" rather than "insurance industry whore" or "Big Pharma whore"?

and what exactly is the "Committee to Reduce Infectious Diseases"? Is that the committee that convenes to think happy thoughts and wish disease away rather than do the hard work of providing sensible, affordable healthcare to all Americans to actually, you know, REDUCE diseases?

Posted by: ckelly on August 26, 2009 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Today's News in song:

Massachusetts: Bee Gees

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbkbGF27JyY

Posted by: anonymous on August 26, 2009 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Early in his radio career (thirty years ago), Nihil insisted that voting should be a right of property owners only. I haven't heard his current viewpoint on this telling issue.

Posted by: anonymous on August 26, 2009 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

Sign on people, make them own it! Crush it now or live with it forever.

Posted by: Chris on August 26, 2009 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

"* It looks like Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) is going for the full "birther" after all."

_____________________________

"Everybody knows you never do a full retard....You went full retard, man. Never go full retard."

Posted by: victory on August 26, 2009 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Boortz will be thrilled with the mention. He wants desperately to play with the big boys (Hannity, Limbaugh) and feels victimized in some way when he can't. Hilariously, he'll comment on how stupid his listeners are sometimes, not realizing that's the only demographic that listens to him.

Posted by: psychobroad on August 26, 2009 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kenneth Galbraith:

"...Perhaps the right thing would have been less focus on saving banks, and much more on saving jobs, families, and homes..."

If only. And if only the amounts granted to banks had sensibly been tracked, followed.

How many of us have received announcements in the mail from banks bailed out--indicating they are raising our rates, just because they can.

Posted by: considering on August 26, 2009 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

And I only know what he talks about because his radio station wakes me up in the morning. Our local NPR people's voices make me want to commit suicide, because they sound like they are going to hang themselves as soon as they get off the air.
Also, anonymous, he still thinks only landowners should be allowed to vote.

Posted by: psychobroad on August 26, 2009 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

The brilliant historian Ted Sorensen, former special counsel to JFK, himself an elderly gent, impresses me with his wording, speaking about Ted Kennedy's terrific mind.
Wow.
What an honor to turn on my tee vee and see him speak.
Maybe these dudes were the greatest generation?

Posted by: considering on August 26, 2009 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Sanford said he would not be "railroaded" out of office.

perhaps he prefers to be driven out of office...

Posted by: mudwall jackson on August 26, 2009 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Or flown out of office?

Posted by: different set of circumstances on August 26, 2009 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

T-Rex,

"Yeah, and the value of my stock portfolio is down since last July, too. But if it's doing better this month than last, isn't that a reason to be happy?"

If only it were so, but New Home Sales declined 13% in July.

As I've explained here previously, one cannot contrast housing data month-to-month. Because of seasonal factors, housing data routinely increases every month from when the weather starts to warm in the Spring and peaks in late July and early August.

According to the website of the National Association of Realtors, month-to-month contrasts of housing data are meaningless, and the only relevant comparison of a month's data is to the same month the year before.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 26, 2009 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

In a bit of a surprise, new U.S. home sales jumped 9.6% in July, beating analysts' expectations for the fourth straight month.

In addition to the cold water that Joe Friday rightly pours on all the Rosie Scenario libs who have sprung up since Obama took office, let me point out that 33% of all home mortgages in the US remain underwater, and that more than ONE TRILLION dollars in toxic assets are still held by banks without being honestly valued, ie, in all likelihood, Citibank, et al are underwater.

Hey, but keep clapping; as long as the bankers own the WH, that's all we got.

Posted by: Disputo on August 26, 2009 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

700,000 cars is a lot of cars in a 10 million a year market. Some of those sales would have happened anyway, but probably not as fuel efficient overall. And it's a lot of jobs, a lot of reduced inventory, and a much safer fleet. That ain't hay.

Posted by: stevenz on August 26, 2009 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

The Cash for Clunkers program wrapped up this week, and led to nearly 700,000 new car sales. The program, which most have deemed a success, came in under its $3 billion budget.

Deemed a success by whom? I don't own a car; I bike and take public trans everywhere. Not only do I not get a reward from the gvmt for my carbon minimizing efforts, but I am forced to pay via my tax dollars a bunch of irresponsible carbon gobbling yahoos so that they can buy vehicles that are slightly less carbon gobbling.

The ridiculous notion that polluters have a property right to pollute has got to stop.

Posted by: Disputo on August 26, 2009 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Pschobabe: Do you happen to know Boortz's views on the Bill of Rights? Emancipation Proclamation? How about The Golden Rule? Does he believe in gravity?

Posted by: anonymous on August 26, 2009 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I can understand a turn of phrase, as in, 'the residents became like so much debris blown across the country, and uncared for by the government which was supposed to protect them.'

However, it's probably certain that's not what he meant.

Posted by: Crissa on August 26, 2009 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Cash for Clunkers: It's hard to say how much net good it really did. REM there is significant resource cost to making a new car, so the amortized remaining life of the old and the cost of making the new, won't balance off the increased gas use of the old for a long time. (IOW, showing it's not a broken window fallacy takes some effort.)

It did stimulate some US business, but shouldn't this program have at least required purchase of a US made/maker car so we'd get the benefit? Many of the new cars were Japanese etc. made, and conservative critics have a field day with that.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on August 26, 2009 at 9:15 PM | PERMALINK

PS, home sales will continue to pick up if home prices continue to fall.

That they're lower than last year is irrelevant.

Posted by: Crissa on August 26, 2009 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

...More 'Japanese' cars are made in the US than 'domestic' cars. How many parts does it need to be US-made? How much of the assembly?

The car companies aren't going to get better if they don't compete globally.

Posted by: Crissa on August 26, 2009 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

Why is it a surprise that there is a jump in new home sales? New home sales are extremely sensitive to low interest rates and to increased money supply.

Gee. The Fed has been pumping money into the banks and keeping interest rates low all year. Is it any surprise that while the government is stimulating the economy with cash and low interest rates that home sales would be higher than before the government provided stimulus?

Posted by: Rick B on August 26, 2009 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Crissa you have a point, but I think some effort could have been made to at least exclude outright foreign makers from CfC. And REM the other issues too. Also, we could have given the cars to the homeless or poor countries instead of destroying them. It is very hard to justify utility destruction.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on August 26, 2009 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Neil B: But giving the homeless or poor countries the cars would have completely destroyed the illusion that this was a 'green' carbon saving program which it was not. It was economic stimulus for auto dealers and a way of clearing out surplus inventory for the auto makers.

We know that the taxpayers will pay $3 billion towards the 700,000 new cars. What will be the total consumers' contribution to the economy with their purchases? Total spending on these cars?

Posted by: anonymous on August 26, 2009 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

Neal Boortz look alike Michael Savage:
On MSNBC which led to his firing:

"Oh, you're one of the sodomites! You should only get AIDS and die, you pig! How's that? Why don't you see if you can sue me, you pig? You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage? You got nothing to do today? Go eat a sausage and choke on it. Get trichinosis. Okay, got another nice caller here who's busy because he didn't have a nice night in the bath house and is angry at me today?" Bauder, David. "MSNBC fires Savage on anti-gay remarks." Associated Press: July 7, 2003.


Posted by: gees oh man on August 26, 2009 at 10:17 PM | PERMALINK

Not only do I not get a reward from the gvmt for my carbon minimizing efforts, but I am forced to pay via my tax dollars a bunch of irresponsible carbon gobbling yahoos [...] -- Disputo, @20:18

And, should we get a single payer or even public option healthcare, you'd be forced to pay, via your tax dollars, for a bunch of irresponsible smoking, drinking, sexually promiscuous, carbs-gobbling yahoos, too. I think that, in great part, is the objection the fright wing has -- not on my dime, you're not! (going to do this, that and the other. Whatever I, personally, disapprove of).

Let your virtue be its own reward a la Pamela (or was it Clarissa?) :)

Posted by: exlibra on August 26, 2009 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo,

Don't get me wrong, I support what the Obama administration has tried to do, I'm just afraid it will not be enough.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 26, 2009 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Only someone who has no regard for the elderly, the poor, or the disadvantaged
would say a disparaging word against single payer.

Just sayin'

Posted by: very sad of you on August 26, 2009 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Crissa,

"home sales will continue to pick up if home prices continue to fall."

Home sales haven't "picked up".


"That they're lower than last year is irrelevant."

Other than it means we're still accelerating downward.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 26, 2009 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

On a different subject, this was an interesting interview with Nancy Reagan in which she discusses the Reagans' respect for and long friendship with Ted Kennedy.

http://airamerica.com/ronreagan/blog/2009/aug/26/nancy-reagan-son-ron-reagan-i%E2%80%99ll-miss-ted-kennedy-audio

Posted by: eric on August 26, 2009 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo, et al: While I didn't qualify for the clunkers program, despite owning two 16-year-old vehicles (both of which get over 20 mpg and have over 200K miles and they're not exactly clunkers anyway), this fall/winter there will be rebates for buying energy efficient appliances, which offer I will gladly take part in as all of mine are old and guzzle electricity. No trade-ins required either.
http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/08/21/energy-efficient-appliance-rebates-ready-to-roll/

Posted by: Me on August 27, 2009 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

By the way Joe, check out the pretty good wikipedia entry on the Volt. It says the car runs on batteries exclusively till they are 25% exhausted. The engine then comes on and sends power to both the wheels and the batteries, but that the on-board engine will not recharge the batteries beyond 30%. To do a full recharge you need to get to a plug in.

Posted by: J. Frank on August 27, 2009 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

If only it were so, but New Home Sales declined 13% in July.

As I've explained here previously, one cannot contrast housing data month-to-month. Because of seasonal factors, housing data routinely increases every month from when the weather starts to warm in the Spring and peaks in late July and early August.

joe, you were a horrible detective on dragnet and you still are. new-home sales are from the commerce department and in fact ARE SEASONALLY ADJUSTED.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on August 27, 2009 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

anonymous: no, no, and no.

Posted by: psychobroad on August 27, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

J. Frank,

"By the way Joe, check out the pretty good wikipedia entry on the Volt."

Wikipedia is opinion.


"It says the car runs on batteries exclusively till they are 25% exhausted."

Chevy says the batteries never get below 40%.


"The engine then comes on and sends power to both the wheels and the batteries..."

Chevy says the onboard generator powerplant only charges the batteries.

Your disagreement seems to be with the manufacturer.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 27, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

mudwall,

"new-home sales are from the commerce department and in fact ARE SEASONALLY ADJUSTED."

Who said they weren't ?

The issue is whether one is comparing a month to the previous month or a month to the same month the year before. According to the website of the National Association of Realtors, only the latter is accurate.

Posted by: Joe Friday on August 27, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Let's get this straight -- Kennedy's brothers weren't "laid to rest". Like him, their dead dead corpses, from which nothing survived, were put into fancy boxes and buried with great ceremony, thereafter to further decay and be assimilated by the processes of nature, the only ones that exist. It's guaranteed you wouldn't like what you found if you dug them up just now, and no "supernatural" connection, channel or flow of energy exists to "inspire" you, that's just a trick you play on yourself.

Romantic tosh like "laid to rest", like fairy tales or other fantasies, is severely miseducational to our children and should be kept away from all impressionable minds. There is no god.

Posted by: Joe Nicola on August 27, 2009 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Anonymous: I don't approve of shoring up an illusion, anyway.
Exlibra: we shouldn't have to cover all those people with bad health habits, unless they can pay some differential to make up for it.

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on August 28, 2009 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK
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