Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Stuff

(Posting is highly questionable for early next week into about Wednesday, by the way.)

Bill Maher returns to HBO tonight at about 10:00 EST, and it's going to be strange to watch him without Dubya as a foil any more (unless former President Stupid Head finds a way to worm his way back into the news, of course); here, Maher participates in an interview with then-candidate Barack Obama about faith and religion, also with Charlie Rose...

...and speaking of Commander Codpiece, here are more "Still Bushed" scandals (a couple in Morristown, NJ - and I have a feeling they were doing better than $55K combined before this all hit the fan; had to to live where they did - had to stop by an inter-faith pantry for baby food...more and more Dickensian this is by the day, people; world-class Repug House a-hole Darrell Issa of California - yes, I know name-calling is bad, but it truly fits in Issa's case - suddenly wants traceability of Obama's emails, even though he "scoffed" at such requests of Dubya by the Dems a year ago; and Richard Perle goes all humuna humuna humana over whether or not he helped craft the neocon foreign policy of pre-emptive war - he's so pathetic, despite K.O.'s bit of humor here, that I don't even want to waste precious calories getting angry at him)...

...time to rock with The Pretenders (since YouTube now includes the names of the videos in the songs - well, you can "play along at home" as they say)...

...and as a tribute to Kelly Groucutt of the Electric Light Orchestra, here's a performance of one of their legendary hits.

...Oh, and before I forget, here's hoping this guy does well on Sunday night at the Kodak Theater in LA (and I'm sure one of these people will receive a glowing tribute, but the other should be remembered also).

A Friday Repug Recession Roundup

(And I posted here too, as usual.)

To begin, Kimberly A. Strassel of the Murdoch Street Journal draws a contrast today here between two Repug governors: Charlie Crist of Florida and Mark Sanford of South Carolina (I may end up repeating myself about Sanford from this prior post)…

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is mooted as a GOP presidential contender. During the stimulus debate he told President Barack Obama, to his face, that the Palmetto State wanted no part of a spending blowout that would be harmful to the economy, to taxpayers, and to the dollar. He even traveled to Capitol Hill to stiffen Senate Republicans against the plan.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is mooted as a GOP presidential contender. During the stimulus debate, he made clear the Sunshine State couldn't wait to get its hands on the stimulus booty and joined Democratic governors to push the bill. He even campaigned with Mr. Obama in support of the $787 billion extravaganza.

As contrasts go, it doesn't get better than this. The Republican Party is locked in a debate over how it ever fell so low and what it needs to become in the future. Mr. Sanford and Mr. Crist vividly capture the divide. They also capture how the economic downturn is already forcing Republicans to choose a side.
To get an idea of what is playing out in Florida, by the way, here is an extract of a story in The New Yorker by George Packer, which tells us, among other things, that…

…Gary Mormino, a professor at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, tells the writer that, “Florida, in some ways, resembles a modern Ponzi scheme. Everything is fine for me if a thousand newcomers come tomorrow.” The state depends for revenue on real-estate deals and sales taxes. By 2005, the housing market in Florida was hotter than it had ever been. Flipping houses and condominiums turned into an amateur middle-class pursuit…Floridians with modest incomes…made money buying and selling real estate. (Packer’s story) mentions one case in which a house appreciated in value by almost fifty per cent overnight. According to an investigation by the Miami Herald, government oversight of the real-estate market was so negligent that more than ten thousand convicted criminals got jobs in the mortgage industry. Flipping and fraud burst the bubble.
And yes, malls in Orlando are feeling the pinch, as noted here, and even The Mouse Itself has had to do the following, as noted here…

(Disney’s) ABC network cut 200 jobs and eliminated 200 that hadn’t been filled. ABC’s TV studio and programming divisions are merging. ESPN, Disney’s cable sports channel, said it won’t fill 200 vacant positions, froze hiring through September 2010 and halted executive pay raises.

The company is making “significant” cost cuts at every division and will continue to make reductions, Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger said on a Feb. 3 conference call. The cuts go beyond responding to the economic downturn, he said.

Disney this month reported a 32 percent drop in fiscal first-quarter profit and said it would cut more jobs in response to the deepening U.S. recession.

Theme-park profit in the period declined 24 percent to $382 million on a 3.9 percent drop in revenue. Disney is offering three nights free and a $200 credit for food and merchandise with a four-night reservation in Florida and Southern California.
Given all of this, I think the following should be noted when comparing Crist to Sanford (with Crist due to roll out his state budget soon), in particular, this story about the state’s deal with U.S. Sugar last November (noted by Strassel)…

The company's 181,000 acres would go to South Florida water managers, who would draw up plans for re-creating the historic flow of fresh water from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. If planning takes longer, the state may allow U.S. Sugar to rent the land past seven years.

All of the company's roughly 1,700 employees would keep their jobs indefinitely. That's a major shift from the original $1.75 billion, 187,000-acre deal that Gov. Charlie Crist trumpeted in June, which called for the state to buy out U.S. Sugar entirely while forcing it to close in six years.

"We've had a nervous bunch of employees for the last 10 months, particularly since June," said Robert Coker, a U.S. Sugar senior vice president. "Every employee we have today, we intend to keep employed right on."

Crist remained intimately involved in a 4 1/2 -hour session (around November) as the two sides wrangled over the new price, according to (J.M. "Mac" Stipanovich, the lobbyist brokering the deal for U.S. Sugar). Opposite him during that meeting sat Mike Sole, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the governor's chief of staff, Eric Eikenberg. The two stepped out of the room about five times to call Crist and consult about each offer and counter-offer, Stipanovich said.

"He drove a hard bargain, I'm here to tell you," said Stipanovich.

As for the land, the state will probably sell or lease some back to growers to defray the cost. The water district's early plans call for turning 65,000 to 95,000 acres into reservoirs and marshes.
This to me sounds like Crist is actually doing his job (shocking for a Repug, I know) by looking out for his constituents to some degree. And while I’m sure there will be more than a bit of fudging with the budget numbers (here), particularly given projections for the stimulus that no one can completely foresee at this point, at least Crist is trying to retain services and hold down tax increases at once (God forbid a Repug would support any kind of “revenue enhancement”).

And Strassel also tells us the following…

Asked about Mr. Crist, Mr. Sanford was more direct. "I don't think that a lot of people down here would call him a fiscal conservative."
And I don’t think they would call him an idiot either, Mark, as opposed to you (God, I hope he somehow gets the nod for president in 2012 – it would be so much fun to watch him “crash and burn”).

You see, Sanford said here that he opposed both the stimulus itself and the money that would be released to South Carolina as a result (to the point where Dem House Majority Whip James Clyburn became so enraged over the possibility of losing out on the funds that he inserted language allowing state legislatures to overrule the governors on stimulus spending, as noted here – and actually, Sanford has even backpedaled on what he said previously, noted here… “all hat, no cattle” indeed).

And as noted here, Sanford considers business tax incentives to be “unfair meddling,” which probably isn’t a good thing when business leaders in his state are already mad at him for…

…vetoes of budget items like trade centers and tourism marketing. Even G.O.P. bosses charge that he is worse at economic development than at grandstanding, as when he visited the legislature last year carrying piglets to protest what he considered pork-barrel spending….” (here).
Just keep telling you that Kimberly A. Strassel considers Sanford to be a “fiscally responsible governor” - uh huh.

And speaking of the punditocracy, Michael Gerson of the WaPo weighed in today on how the Depression-era generation “controlled the things it could control -- including its own consumption and character,” and scolded as follows…

We see hints of this type of reaction to our current recession, which has such clearly moral causes -- the burst of a bubble inflated by irresponsible debt, consumerism and unaccountable risk-taking.
And as far as Gerson is concerned, that’s the pecking order, by the way; not the unscrupulous maneuvers of our supposed financial geniuses first and foremost, who concocted bogus securities and wrote mortgages for criminals, among other misdeeds, and in the process, to paraphrase Bob Herbert, brought the mightiest economic engine the world has ever seen to the brink of ruin.


During an economic crisis, Americans return to a language of morality. Perhaps excess and recklessness are vices that deserve social stigma. Perhaps frugality and prudence are personal virtues as well as practices that prevent economic collapse. Perhaps there is a distinction between securing our needs and being dominated by our wants.
Perhaps it would have been a good idea if you had spoken out years earlier concerning the fact that your presidential mentor decided to let the foxes run the proverbial henhouse on the economy, among other matters, back when it would have made a difference (which I realize is way too much to ask for a Bush acolyte like Gerson, who instead, casted aspersions toward Obama on the matter of poverty before he was even sworn in, as noted here – and to think this character claimed that Jimmy Carter was his childhood political hero, as noted here in a Gerson attack on Minnesota’s soon-to-be next U.S. Senator).

So, today will go down as yet another day of struggle as we grownups (with an assist from Charlie Crist) endeavor to dig our way out, while Sanford and many of the Repugs engage in the pointless, idiotic task of trying to concoct “values” issues from this crisis in lieu of performing the admittedly difficult work of actual governance.

And by the way, to find out the Sanford-esque tactics of the GOP are being received across the country, I think this tells the story pretty well.

Update 2/22/09: I don't like it when either party plays politics over the stimulus, but I have to laugh when Sanford says the following here...

"I think in this instance I would humbly suggest that the real fringe are those that are supporting the stimulus," Sanford said.
Really? And by the way, another Repug governor hasn't exactly "covered himself in glory" on this either (here).

Update 4/2/09: Welcome to "the fringe," Mark (here).

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Stuff

K.O. talks to Howard Fineman of Newsweek and MSNBC about the interview Nancy Pelosi gave to "Rolling Stone" in which she appeared to show interest in the proposal of Patrick Leahy for a commission to investigate Bushco (why do I have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to play out where Rove, Miers and Bolten all skate and "Fredo" gets a "slap on the wrist" because he indeed shielded himself from prosecution by testifying before Congress? God, I'd love to be wrong)...

..."Have it your way," indeed (bastards)...

..."The Pap Attack" tells us about the "home alone" Repugs (and regarding Pap's conclusion at the end, all I can say is "burn, baby, burn")...

...and it's my sad duty to inform you that another giant has fallen in these parts, and I speak of Mr. Harrison Ridley, Jr., jazz aficionado and host of "The Historical Approach To The Positive Music" on radio station WRTI on Sunday evenings; you would think that, for all the times I listened, I would remember the name of the damn piece of music by Duke Ellington that opened the program (anyway, here's "Mood Indigo" by Ellington from 1930 as a tribute, which is apropos).

Update 2/20/09: This was a nice tribute.

Update 2/22/09: Probably the reason why I couldn't remember which Duke Ellington tune started Ridley's show is because it wasn't an Ellington tune at all; it was "Blue Horizon" by Sidney Bechet.

A Nation of WHAT, Mr. Holder?

(And by the way, I also posted over here.)

I have to admit that I’m a little surprised about the relative silence of my lefty blogging brethren over the recent speech by Attorney General Eric Holder, in which he said this country is “a nation of cowards” on racial issues (noted here).

And after hearing that, I should note that I never really had much of a problem over the whole Rev. Wright thing (I’m not happy to hear anyone say “God damn America!,” but there were about five and a half minutes of that speech that I later heard that was basically ignored by our corporate media cousins, and after hearing the rest, you have the context behind that statement). I also cared less when then-candidate Barack Obama gave his whole “guns, clinging, bitter, whatever” speech in San Francisco because I thought he was basically right; the problem is that he is a black man who discussed economic issues affecting white people, and that’s not supposed to happen in this country (particularly when Karl Rove later uttered the same words, and all you heard in response was the sound of crickets).

However, I have a problem with these words from Holder.

Now I don’t know if his comments were colored by the absolutely revolting recent incident in which New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas compared President Obama to a dead chimp (here), which, it should be noted, was not the first time Delonas has been the subject of controversy (here). If Holder was angered over that, that’s understandable, but he should have admitted that at the start.

Also, I don’t know if Holder had in mind the truly comic mindset of newly-elected RNC chairman Michael Steele, as noted here by kos (yo, whassup??!!).

What I do know, though, is that Holder is dead wrong. And that should be pointed out in the strongest possible way while still observing the respect Holder is due for his high position in our government. And I don’t care what your politics are!

Take a look at the photo in this post, Mr. Holder. It shows the musician/activist Joan Baez entering Montgomery, Alabama on the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965, arm-in-arm with author James Baldwin and James Forman (left to right). Are you arguing that Joan Baez is a coward?

Also, this article tells you about Father Albert Foley, Jesuit professor of sociology at Spring Hill College in Alabama who, in the early 1960s, worked with Mobile Mayor Joseph Langan (himself a Catholic) to broker an agreement that would desegregate Mobile's downtown businesses (the article also tells us that African American Catholics took encouragement from the state’s white priests of the Edmundite order, who treated them with fairness and dignity and assured them of their spiritual worth; these priests, by their refusal to condemn civil rights activism, encouraged African Americans to press for change).

Were Father Foley and the state’s Edmundite priests cowards also, Mr. Holder?

What about Leon Sachs, one-time head of the Baltimore Jewish Council who stood up for African Americans discriminated against in his state (noted here)? Was he a coward also?

Or former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with her history of activism for both women’s rights and civil rights? Or other notable Caucasians who participated in civil rights marches such as Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, and even (gulp) Charlton Heston?

Here are a couple of more names for you to consider, Mr. Holder: Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner (here). Are you SERIOUSLY going to argue that they’re cowards also?

(And by the way, I realize that I'm pretty much singling out white people, even though Holder, with his "broad brush," basically insulted Americans of a wide range of races, ethnicities, and gender preferences here.)

I don’t know what was in the mind of Attorney General Holder when he gave that speech. But I believe that his words were truly inopportune and offensive and undercut his attempt to bridge what I admit is a yawning divide on this subject, with all parties involved having some measure of soul-searching to do before we try to close it.

And one more thing – I sincerely hope that I never end up in a position where I share at least a minor amount of agreement with Jonah Goldberg ever again.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday Stuff

Rachel Maddow interviewed U.S. Army Specialist Brandon Neely last night; he was stationed at Guantanamo, and has very courageously come forward (and Rachel told us tonight that three more personnel stationed there have agreed to speak also to the U.C. Davis Guantanamo Testimonials Project)...

...Lansing, MI Mayor Virg Bernero is my hero for the day for this smackdown of some Fox humanoid over the alleged $70 per hour enjoyed by UAW workers (which is a total fantasy, by the way; the lie of Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times lives on)...

...and speaking of Wall Street, yeah, sending a little "TARP" my way sounds good too (h/t The Daily Kos)...

...The Killers ("Losing Touch" on "Later...With Jools Holland" - anybody know what's up with the chick in orange spandex with lettering all over her at 2:24?).

More Nuke Nonsense From "Blow 'Em Up" Bolton

The warmongering former UN rep senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (of course) weighed in as follows at the L.A. Times today, on the matter of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Asian trip and her comments on North Korea (and I also posted here)…

(Secretary of State Clinton's) attitude is potentially more troubling than the dull repetitiveness of the policy, which invokes the importance of the six-party talks and the need to "get the negotiations back on track."

Take, for example, her repeated references to "smart power," presumably meant to distinguish the brainy Obama team from its predecessor.
Hey, if “the shoe fits,” y’know (get it, shoe?)…

The secretary's comments at a subsequent news teleconference only compounded the speech's lack of strategic breadth. Asked her assessment of the Agreed Framework, the Pyongyang-Washington agreement concluded during her husband's presidency, Clinton regretted that "the Bush administration completely walked away" from the agreement. She said that "information" about North Korea's uranium enrichment efforts "should have been dealt with very seriously" but "in addition to the Agreed Framework," not in place of it.

This is a breathtakingly confused position. First, North Korea's repeated violations of the Agreed Framework breached the agreement, not the Bush White House. Pyongyang cheated on the agreement's central premise -- the North's denuclearization -- and lied about it.
Well, at least Bill Clinton didn’t antagonize North Korea (and Great Britain, for good measure) for no good reason over some ridiculous currency counterfeiting episode, as noted here.

Also, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times noted the following in this 2005 Op-Ed…

Here's a foreign affairs quiz:

(1) How many nuclear weapons did North Korea produce in Bill Clinton's eight years in office?

(2) How many nuclear weapons has it produced so far in President George W. Bush's four years in office?

The answer to the first question, by all accounts, is zero. The answer to the second is fuzzier, but about six.

The total will probably rise in coming months, for North Korea has shut down its Yongbyon reactor and says that it plans to extract the fuel rods from it. That will give it enough plutonium for two or three more weapons.

The single greatest failure of the Bush administration's foreign policy concerns North Korea. Bush's policies toward North Korea have backfired and led the North to churn out nuclear weapons, and they have also antagonized our allies and diminished America's stature in Asia.
Kristof also notes that the most important success of the “agreed framework” under Clinton is that it led to a freeze in plutonium development, which thawed when Dubya walked away from that agreement.

I know it is naïve to consider Kim Jong-Il to be blameless here. However, perhaps if President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll history had not been so loathe to abide by the agreements of his predecessor, we would not have had to concern ourselves with news stories such as this (at least not so soon into the new Obama term, anyway).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reveal The Ultimate Cost Of The Wars At Last

(And by the way, I also posted over here.)

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial today from Bryan Lentz, a Democratic state rep from Delaware County and an Iraq war veteran, who spoke out against rescinding the ban on filming our military casualties from the Iraq war in particular, with the ban enforced by Dubya to an extent not seen since it was first instituted by Poppy Bush in 1991.

I should provide more background on this first, though.

This Democracy Now! post in which Michael Rattner is interviewed (Rattner is identified as the President of the Center for Constitutional Rights) provides more information on how the ban was put into place, by the way, and it basically arose from a fit of pique by Bush The Elder. It turns out that he was trying to illustrate to reporters that he was experiencing neck pain and he did somewhat of a funny walk for the cameras while three major news networks went to a “split screen” showing flag-draped caskets returning to this country from our conflict in Panama against then-ruling strongman Manuel Noriega. I don’t know if this was an accidental slight by the networks or a bona fide attempt to make 41 look like an idiot in the face of tragedy. Either way, the result is that the ban was instituted; it was upheld in a court case when it was ruled that “these are military bases and (the) first amendment doesn’t guarantee you access,” according to Rattner (Clinton relaxed the ban for our returning casualties in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole).

And Lentz also tells us (in supporting the ban)…

For those who argue that the restriction is an attempt to sanitize war and shield the public from its horrors, I have a one-word response: Google. Google "Iraq" or "Afghanistan," and you will find all the horror you want. Watch cable news or read the paper.
That is hardly the issue, and I think Lentz does a disservice to everyone by trivializing it this way.

I know that it’s difficult to criticize anyone who has seen combat for their point of view; that is a sacrifice I was not called upon to make, and that goes for both Lentz and Bush Sr. also, I realize. And Lentz’s position of supporting a presumption of privacy that can only be waived by the next of kin may turn out to be a sensible compromise.

But for Lentz’s information, the Disabled American Veterans have called for overturning the ban (here). I think they realize, along with many other people, that the ultimate cost of Dubya’s foul, wretched escapade in Mesopotamia has been kept largely hidden because of what is basically a legal technicality, to say nothing of our now-deposed chief executive’s penchant for finding any means whatsoever to try and squash dissent or even a respectful difference of opinion.

Update: I don't know if this song has ever been more apropos than right now.

Update 2/19/09: What BarbinMD sez here...

Update 2/26/09: Amen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Stuff

Uh, paging Steven Tyler's lawyers; I think they have some work to do here (no sense trying to seriously refute this nonsense because they'll never listen anyway)...

Update 2/17/09: Cool!

...and on President's Day, CSPAN rates Incurious George against his peers - yep, it's ugly; 41st in international relations, surpassing only William Henry Harrison who only served in office for a month, is pretty damn pathetic all right (and for what it's worth, Dubya "talked the talk" when it came to supposedly moral presidents, but Rutherford B. Hayes "walked the walk"...interesting man - and WHO KNEW there was a Ulysses S. Grant fan club apparently out there?)...

...Five For Fighting ("100 Years"; I thought this was really nice - and speaking of hockey references, congratulations to Mike Richards of the Flyers for becoming the first player to score his third three-on-five shorthanded goal of his career, noted here)...

...and here it is (I have a feeling Lundquist of the Rangers was thinking "five-hole" and guessed wrong).

More Pro-Gun Antics In Arkansas

This news story tells us that Arkansas state rep Beverly Pyle introduced a bill recently that would allow churches to decide whether or not guns would be allowed on their premises…

Under current Arkansas law, holders of concealed weapons permits can take their guns anywhere they want except bars and houses of worship. A bill in the state Senate would let churches decide for themselves whether weapons should be allowed.

"I believe it would disturb the sanctity and tranquility of church" said Pastor John Phillips, a bill opponent who was shot twice in the back as he finished a service 23 years ago. If a church opts out, "Do you want ushers to stop you at the door and frisk you?"

The bill's supporters say the issue isn't gun rights but a constitutionally protected right for churches to set their own rules. Opponents say worshippers should be allowed to pray without worrying whether the person next to them is armed.

Grant Exton, the executive director of the Arkansas Concealed Carry Association, who said allowing concealed weapons in churches would not make churches more likely to have volatile situations _ but adds that that is not his point.

"It's a problem of (the government) telling churches what to do in an area of moral issue, where that should be none of their business," Exton said. Of 48 states that allow concealed carry, 42 let churches make the decision, Exton said.

"We have the government in an area that it shouldn't be," he said.
Uh, right.

Here’s what’s going on; it’s a lot harder to sue “the government” for not allowing someone to have the right to bring a gun into church than it is to sue the church itself. So, when a church ends up posting a sign saying that guns aren’t allowed if a church wisely chooses to keep them out (which would have to take place if the law were passed), the church would be sued and, in all probability, cave because the church wouldn’t have the funds to fight such a suit in court.

And as The Raw Story tells us here…

The bill's strongest opponents appear to be the pastors themselves, One minister, Ken Burton, suggested there were political motivations behind the legislation, telling the Baxter Bulletin that "he’s aware of staunch political affiliations between candidates for public office, elected officials and the National Rifle Association’s pro-gun platform."

Several ministers are concerned about the negative effect that concealed guns could have on the peace and tranquility of church services. Pastor Ron Rector suggested, "Some places still need to be sacred, and that is one place I hope would remain sacred."

Rev. Mark Lenneville similarly noted, "It’s not in line with what we believe theologically and has not been the tradition for Christianity through the centuries. Often, the church is viewed as a sanctuary where the government does not have power and authority, a place where people could seek sanctuary from the government and other outsiders."
And The Raw Story also tells us that law enforcement is certainly allowed to bring weapons into church already.

Oh, and just for the record, this news story tells us that Arkansas gun sales increased last year after Obama’s election.

Were it not for the potential harm that could be inflicted on innocent bystanders, it would be fine with me if all of the gun nuts in this state joined together and accidentally shot themselves in “celebration” of the relaxation of common-sense rules of gun safety. It would serve them right.

Update 3/17/09: Kudos to Eric Boehlert for this.

Update 4/6/09: Cause, meet effect.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Funny Name - Solid Choice

Motivated by this post (oh noes), I wanted to make a proposal to the Obama Administration concerning someone they should at least consider for Commerce Secretary (provided that he shows interest in the job, of course).

And that would be Dem Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan.

Why? Well, he sits on the Committee on Energy and Commerce chaired by Henry Waxman, as noted here, so he would at least be familiar with pending issues of this nature before Congress.

Also, he teed off on Bushco's former FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach about a year ago (here) for "(giving) misleading testimony on Sanofi-Aventis SA's antibiotic Ketek during a committee hearing in March" (Ketek has been linked to fatal side effects; Stupak also called for von Eschenbach to step down because of "a total lack of leadership").

Stupak is also responsible for sponsoring a bill that "amend(ed) federal law with regard to the flying of the national flag at half-staff to allow a governor to require that federal facilities in the state lower their flags when a member of the armed forces from that state dies while on active duty" (as noted here, Stupak had tried to persuade Dubya to issue an executive order to that effect, but was unable to do so).

I don't know how familiar Stupak is with commerce issues relative to other candidates, but at this point (hopefully the third time will be the charm, as they say), Obama needs to pick someone who will be a "good soldier" first and foremost without any dirty laundry. And Stupak has solid "moderate Dem" cred, having worked as a lawyer and police officer; he is also a member of the Knights of Columbus (Catholic) and the NRA.

Aside from the political considerations, though, I have a feeling Stupak would do a first-class job.

The only reason I can think of why Stupak would pass on this is that he may be a candidate for Michigan governor in 2010 (Anthony Weiner of New York is also on Stupak's committee; while I'd love to see Weiner in the Obama cabinet, it's perhaps the worst-kept secret in the world that Weiner wants to be the next mayor of New York City - good luck to him).

I'm offering the choice of Stupak because of the truly awful possibility of the commerce post landing in the lap of Harold Ford, Jr. (whose "dead-on political instincts" led to his endorsement of the doomed House Repug Chris Shays of Connecticut last year, among other missteps).

Update 2/24/09: Somewhat on a matter pertaining to commerce, Stupak absolutely nailed it in opposing Mikey Fitzpatrick’s infamous Deleting Online Predators Act, as noted here; however, it looks like Obama is going to settle on another candidate instead.