Sunday Morning Coming Down

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Peter Galuszka

With apologies to Kris Kristofferson, this Sunday morning presents a grab bag of interesting morning newspaper stories and positions. To wit:

GiftGate Update, Getting the Stories Straight: According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Star Scientific boss Jonnie R. Williams Sr. told federal prosecutors he insisted on meeting personally with his then-buddy Gov. Robert F. McDonnell to make sure that McDonnell understood that Williams was lending Maureen McDonnell, the First Lady, $50,000 in 2011.

At the time the McDonnells were having serious debt issues because of some bad investments in vacation property. McDonnell paid back the loan, among to hers, but has consistently claimed he didn’t know about the loan to Maureen. His staff backs the claim in today’s TD story.

The Times-Dispatch also suggests that we’ll learn sometime after the election and before Thanksgiving if there will be federal indictments. Star Scientific has posted news releases saying it is in the clear. The Washington Post has reported that McDonnell’s defense has taken a blow because a judge is allowing prosecutors access to certain emails.

And, with today’s story, you have Williams and McDonnell directly contradicting each other. According to federal law, one doesn’t need a clear-cut, signed sealed and delivered “quo” for an indictment, just an attempt at doing something in exchange for something else. Some people on this blog keep saying “there’s no smoking gun,” which is a hackneyed and confusing phrase. What is the test for a “smoking gun?” It seems as if the feds are moving closer and closer to indictments.

 RTD Won’t Endorse Either Cuccinelli or McAuliffe: That’s even bigger news, showing how the staid old grey lady is changing for the better with Warren Buffett. Had J. Stewart Bryan still been publisher, you can bet they’d be for the Cooch, but maybe too much gay bashing got to the editorial board. It writes: “We find it impossible to endorse any of the 2013 candidates with even a minimal zeal.” The TD even went on a chose Democrat Ralph Northam over whack-job E.W. Jackson, another outrageous social conservative. They did go with Republican Mark Obenshain for attorney general, however.

Pouring Cold Water on the School Reform Craze: When one reads Bacons Rebellion, he or she is confronted with certain premises, Fox News style, that America’s public schools are in absolute shambles that only some weird combination of funding cuts, free market capitalism, terrorizing and shaming teachers and making a MOOC-age of our classrooms can correct.

Spin over to The Washington Post for a book review. The book, “Reign of Error” by Diane Ravitch, an education historian and adviser to both Bush I and Bill Clinton, pushes the idea today’s view that the problems of public schools are greatly exaggerated and solutions are being pushed by self-serving free-market types who want to make a profit somehow by “correcting” the schools.

There are problems, to be sure, but she writes: “The transfer of public funds to private management and the creation of thousands of deregulated, unsupervised, and unaccountable schools have opened the public coffers to profiteering fraud and exploitation by large and small entrepreneurs.”

Important stuff when you consider that some 90 percent of American’s children are in public schools. Only four percent are in charter schools. Come to think of it, Virginia has only five charter schools, which is rather incredible when you consider how much buzz they get in the right-wing echo chamber like this blog.

What “Boomergeddon?” Another common theme among conservatives that shows everything is coming apart is the general downgrade of the U.S. and not just its credit. True we had a hell of a mess this week, but it is wrong to assume that the U.S. is in some kind of death spiral, write Ely Ratner and Thomas Wright in the Post.

As the U.S. continues to recover from a terrific economic disaster, it is still making significant and steady progress. That is, compared to other companies. Anyone remember Jim Bacon’s book? It outlined the emergence of BIC (Brazil, India and China) to show just what chumps we Americans are. Turns out that Brazil’s growth is going from 7 to 1 percent, India’s economy has greatly slowed and China faces slowing growth and big inflation.

Now, that could be the real “War on Coal.” Now I’m not talking about EPA carbon dioxide regs; I’m talking about metallurgical coal exports from southwest Virginia to BIC steel mills. If their economies aren’t booming any more, maybe they aren’t using as much steel and don’t need as much met coal.

Let’s tell Jim Bacon. Anyone got his number?

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12 responses to “Sunday Morning Coming Down

  1. Re the Times Dispatch, they’ve been telegraphing that outcome for a while now. It will reflect many votes on Nov. 5. I’m curious to see if the normal drop off pattern in voting moves up this time, with the AG’s race getting the most total votes and the Governor’s race substantially fewer. I don’t think it is Buffett’s influence any more than the bar chatter in the basement of the Commonwealth Club.

    Re the latest “revelations” from the leaky federal prosecutors, who are having fun trying their case in the press, again, no surprises. Unfortunately it has been obvious for some time that Williams was doing what he was doing for corrupt purposes, expecting a ROI, and obviously his lawyers had made a case for immunity by ratting on the Governor. Who exactly said what to whom and when? Let’s wait for the real evidence.

    If Williams thinks he sails away from this untainted, I suspect some banker will call him up short eventually. His business career is dead. Would you buy a used GreenTech car from the guy? Not me.

  2. Peter, when you’re bashing “Boomergeddon,” at least make a token effort to criticize what’s in the book, as opposed to your fantasy of what’s in the book. Your statement that, “It outlined the emergence of BIC (Brazil, India and China) to show just what chumps we Americans are,” has no remote grounding in reality.

    I never mention “BIC” (or BRIC, if you include Russia, as many do) in the book. And far from suggesting that rising developing countries would displace the United States economically, I emphasized they have large problems of their own. Regarding China, I argued that it could not indefinitely continue its torrid rate of economic growth, which was excessively dependent upon exports and whose population was the most rapidly aging in the world. As for India, I noted that it had been running Western-style budget deficits.

    The U.S. has huge problems. But so do most other countries. Brazil is protectionist, Russia is corrupt, and Europe has advanced case of U.S. welfare state-itis.

  3. I wish I could find my well-thumbed edition of “Boomergeddon” but I seem to have mislaid it.

    “Bic” will have to wait.

    I do love the statement about Europe having “an advanced case of U.S. welfare-itis.”

    Let’s dissect this statement. It implies that Western Europe is mimicking the U.S. “welfare-itis” whatever that is. In fact, many European countries have for many years had a far different idea of the government’s responsibilities for their people, such as providing cheap education and medical care. They charge higher taxes, but that’s the way they do it.

    Doing all of this PREDATES the U.S. or what it is you are referring to. Is it FDR’s New Deal, Johnson’s “Great Society” or Reagan’s defense buildup? Clinton actually dropped U.S. government involvement while Bush expanded it tremendously. It’s gone up under Obama, but the ACA is actually a REPUBLICAN idea. Remember Romney-care? Remember’s Clinton’s ideas back in the 1990s.

    The problem with you, Jim, is that you make these sweeping statements as fact when they are rather loose opinions. I actually watched Fox News for a while last night and got sick at how they work from a specific set of preconceptions that can be easily put down. That is what makes blogging so much fun.

    • Peter is right on the precedence but Bacon may still have a valid point. The question is simple – what percentage of GDP should be devoted to government? The Europeans have committed more of their GDP to government and many governments in Europe are regretting that. The US has been escalating the percentage of GDP devoted to government for decades. It hasn’t helped. The wealth gap has escalated, recessions have come and gone and the labor participation rate has tanked. Empirical evidence seems to suggest that increased government spending (as a percentage of GDP) accomplishes nothing.

  4. re: FAUX news… I too watch it regularly and it’s an amazing thing.

    The right has turned into a mega propaganda machine that peddles lies and untruths to the gullible.

    Over and over Hannity, almost every night, spouts that Obama has accumulated more debt than all previous POTUS combined.

    and you know what? people believe this.

    Now what can you say about someone who buys that tripe?

    or worse.. they then spread it…???

    how in the world can anything be seriously discussed when we got folks
    running around that believe this? Credit FAUX News..they do marvelous work!

    • Really? Have you ever watched Rachael Madcow? Or that idiot Ed Schultz? Seriously, LarryG – the right has no monopoly on ass hats.

      • Oh I watch them ALL but I do not see out and out lies being promoted on MSN about things like:

        1. the POTUS is responsible for debt

        2. – the govt is creating “death panels”.

        3. Obamacare will make you go to a govt doctor

        4. – the POTUS is a secret muslim who was born in Kenya

        5. – SS is broke and and will make the US govt go broke.

        want more?

        ass hats? yes.. they appear on both sides.

        but …out and out lies about govt and the POTUS- I think the right
        has the edge…

        I’ve NEVER heard the asshats on left lie about these things …

  5. Also, looking at that picture of Kris Kristofferson – is he now doing those Dos Equis ads? Stay thirsty my friends.

  6. The basic problem is – if you are an opponent of something – on principle – but you make your argument on lies… what does that say about you?

    it’s NOT okay to lie about something simply because you disagree with it but these days, this seems to define the right on many issues.

    they think it’s okay to lie about things they are opposed to.

    In the end – this totally discredits them in the eyes of many.

    You cannot spend a decade approving budgets and then continuing resolutions that spend at deficit levels

    and then turn around and say the POTUS is the one who has caused the debt.

    you can say it.. and fools might believe it – but in the end – it’s going to undermine you as a legitimate opponent.

    When the GOP has willingly approved deficit spending for a decade and then turns around and blames the POTUS – AND wants the POTUS to name the cuts – they have totally lost their legitimacy as an honest player in the issue.

    that’s just 5th grade irresponsible ethics..

  7. There are truthful and honest Conservatives these days. They will disagree on principles but they are honest about the facts AND honest about their disagreements.

    But that’s simply no longer true about many GOP these days.

    When you listen to Hannity -you have a steady stream of right-wing GOP coming on his show and repeating the same lies that Hannity makes.

    How can any member of Congress assert the POTUS is responsible for the debt? When a member of Congress makes that statement what does that mean about them on all manner of other issues where truth is also important?

    It’s not only that they lie – they refuse to really lay out what they want.
    they use the lies to divert the focus.

    My mama taught me if someone lies – you cannot trust them on anything because once they start lying they cannot stop.

    I think my mama was right but I do distinguish between a politicians “promises” and the like. What I focus on is lies about things people are opposed to that they say should be done differently.

    so there are two parts:

    1 . – what the truth right now
    2. – what should we do instead

    You cannot be a Congressman or a FOX news reporter and say the POTUS is responsible for the debt – and continue to go right back and vote for a CR that continues deficit spending.

    at that point – you’d become … well… a liar.. and why should I believe anything you say? If you lie about the POTUS and debt why wouldn’t you lie about Social Security or the Patriot Act or anything else.

    There ARE some honest conservatives… oftentimes you can tell which ones because they WON’T appear much if any on Hannity and they don’t get invited to the far right Conservative events.

    Many are now called RINOs. Jeb Bush. Chris Cristie. Olympia Snow, Richard Lugar, Susan Collins, Thad Cocran.. even John McCain.

    The GOP has been taken over by far right wacko birds.. and lying about the issues is no big deal if it wins the issue.

    this is the kind of person who seeks to lead the country these days.

    like my mamma said.. if they lie once – they’ll lie again.

    it’s okay to be opposed to ObamaCare but it’s NOT OKAY TO:

    1. – lie about it
    2. – have no real alternative

    that’s wrong.

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