Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Stuff

Oh, by the way, happy sixth anniversary of "Mission Accomplished" (not a cause for celebration, of course - performance by Steve Connell)...

...and I'm outta here early tonight, so have fun this weekend.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/1/09)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.


U.S. water policy. Members voted 413-10 to improve the work of the 20-plus agencies concerned with ensuring that the United States has adequate water supplies and clean drinking water.

A yes vote was to pass a bill (HR 1145) that creates a White House office to streamline and focus U.S. water policy.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
As noted here (NY Times content), the sponsor was Dem Barton Gordon of Tennessee (and the 10 No votes were all Repugs – surprised?). Also, new EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has promised to work with congress to update the Clean Water Act, which has been weakened by two recent rulings of the Supreme Court of Hangin’ Judge JR (as the Times notes here – and as noted here, that court is about to lose a member in a move that wasn’t unexpected).

Community police funds. Members passed, 342-78, a bill (HR 1139) to expand the Clinton-era COPS program, which provides U.S. grants for the hiring of local police officers.

A yes vote was to authorize grants for purposes such as hiring prosecutors and helping schools fight drugs and gangs.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.

Voting no: Pitts.
No drugs, gangs, or police shortages in PA-16, I guess – how lucky can they get?


Ambassador to Iraq. Senators voted, 73-23, to confirm Christopher Hill as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Backers praised his Foreign Service career of 32 years, while critics said he was not tough enough as the Bush administration's chief negotiator with North Korea.

A yes vote was to confirm Hill.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Arlen Specter (R., but now a D., of course, of Pa.).
I always thought Hill was a good diplomat who got sold down the river by the Bushco regime, as noted here. Let’s see how he does under adult leadership for a change.

Whistleblower rewards. Senators refused, 31-61, to cap at $50 million the reward for whistle-blowers who use the False Claims Act to help the Treasury recover funds lost to fraud.

A yes vote on the bill (S 386) was to retain rules that allow successful plaintiffs to receive up to 30 percent of recovered U.S. funds.

Voting yes: Specter.

Voting no: Carper, Casey, Kaufman and Menendez.

Not voting: Lautenberg.
The amendment to cap the reward at $50 million was sponsored by Repug Jon Kyl of Arizona, as noted here, a pointless add-on in my opinion to an otherwise worthy piece of legislation (typical vote for a “Democrat” like Our Man Arlen).

This week, the House took up a bill to curb arbitrary practices by credit-card firms, while the Senate resumed debate on a bill to combat securities and home-mortgage fraud.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Stuff

Thank you, Senator Durbin, for these words and your dedication on the "cramdown," though many of your colleagues (Tester, the "NE" Nelson, Baucus, Lincoln of course, Carper of course even more, and that brand new "Democrat" Arlen Specter, among others - and I'm sorry, but Tim Johnson doesn't get a pass any more just because he was sick) need to find out at what point they sold their consciences and any notion of constituent service whatsoever to the "banksters" (h/t Eschaton, here and here)...

...and how pathetic is it that Joe Scar is actually the voice of reason here (this gives me cause to worry a bit also - if that asshat thinks it's no big deal, I mean)...

...I thought Jon Stewart had a nice look at Snarlin' Arlen's "conversion" and the whole "Obama 100 Day" media feeding frenzy...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
How to Judge a Guy in 100 Days
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

...and I dedicate this song to the "banksters" and their supporters - really going back for this one; watch out for those pesky stones in your glass houses.

More AP “Hundred Day” Hackery on Obama

This supposed “analysis” tells us the following on the matter of President Obama’s response when questioned about the economy during his prime-time press conference last night…

OBAMA: "Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.... That wasn't me. Number two, there is almost uniform consensus among economists that in the middle of the biggest crisis, financial crisis, since the Great Depression, we had to take extraordinary steps. So you've got a lot of Republican economists who agree that we had to do a stimulus package and we had to do something about the banks. Those are one-time charges, and they're big, and they'll make our deficits go up over the next two years." — in Missouri.


Congress controls the purse strings, not the president, and it was under Democratic control for Obama's last two years as Illinois senator. Obama supported the emergency bailout package in President George W. Bush's final months — a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.

To be sure, Obama opposed the Iraq war, a drain on federal coffers for six years before he became president. But with one major exception, he voted in support of Iraq war spending.

The economy has worsened under Obama, though from forces surely in play before he became president, and he can credibly claim to have inherited a grim situation.

Still, his response to the crisis goes well beyond "one-time charges."

He's persuaded Congress to expand children's health insurance, education spending, health information technology and more. He's moving ahead on a variety of big-ticket items on health care, the environment, energy and transportation that, if achieved, will be more enduring than bank bailouts and aid for homeowners.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated his policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years, even accounting for his spending reduction goals. Now, the deficit is nearly quadrupling to $1.75 trillion.

After reading that excerpt from what reporter Calvin Woodward wrote (along with Kevin Freking and Jim Kuhnhenn), I have back up and tell you something (tempted to ask, “are you Freking kidding me?” – bad joke, I know…and don’t ask me what that “in Missouri” reference is supposed to be about).

For better or worse, I’ve worked on and maintained this blog for about four years. I’m not looking for applause or anything by pointing that out; the only reason I mention it is because, in the process of putting together over 4,000 posts (damn, that’s a lot of bloviating), I’ve read and seen a lot, and it’s hard for me to be shocked (the comments by Virginia Foxx on Matthew Shepard that I included in the Olbermann video last night qualify, though).

This AP “analysis,” though, shocks me also.

I’m not sure what it says about the AP that they can produce something like this, which pretends that the Republican congresses under Dubya from 2000-2006 never existed (have to put an asterisk next to ’02-’04, though, which was 50-49-1 because of Jim Jeffords’ switch from Republican to Independent - and speaking of Jeffords, I thought this was interesting in the "past is prologue" department). Does the AP really think that their audience is that STOO-PID to forget about how more than the first half of this decade saw this country laboring under the yoke of total Repug non-governance? Or are they that jaded and cynical to produce this column ignoring that history and think that it doesn’t matter?

Apparently, though, it is necessary for me to fill in that gap with the history that they, for whatever reason, chose to utterly ignore.

As noted from here…

In January 2007, when Representative Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House, a dozen years of Republican control of Congress officially came to an end. What legacy did Republicans leave in terms of the budget process and budget policy? Three Congresses (104th, 105th, and 106th) worked under conditions of divided government, the last three (107th, 108th, 109th) primarily under unified Republican control of government.2

The beginning and the end of these two eras certainly seem different. In 1995 and 1996, House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republicans tried to use the budget process to force their priorities on a defensive President Clinton. A dozen years later, Congress could not enact a budget resolution to guide appropriators, could not agree on restoring pay-as-you-go rules (PAYGO), could not pass 11 of 13 appropriations bills, and in the end, could not even enact an omnibus appropriations bill to fund agencies through the rest of the year. In the 1990s, Republican Congresses confronting a Democratic president were able to balance the budget. In the 2000s, Republican Congresses working with a Republican president saw fiscal discipline decline, earmarks and supplemental appropriations grow exponentially, and the deficits balloon.

(In 2001) Bush submitted a plan for $1.6 trillion in cuts over ten years including sharp reductions in income taxes, elimination of estate taxes, and other reductions. The House of Representatives wanted to move the tax cut package quickly, even before the budget resolution was adopted. Some of the most enthusiastic tax-cutters were talking about cuts as high as $2.2 trillion over ten years. With the size of the surplus, most Democrats felt that some tax cuts were appropriate and a consensus began to emerge among them for a figure of around $900 billion. Despite the narrow majority in the House, party discipline was so strong that Republicans had no difficulty in approving a huge tax cut.

Two years later, the attacks of September 11, a war in Afghanistan, a sagging economy and a return to budget deficits, all contributed to a changed political environment. Based on his tough stance against terrorism, Bush’s party recaptured the House and Senate setting the stage for another round of tax cuts in 2003. Republicans also made an important rule change by revising the way that the cost of tax bills was assessed. They adopted a system of “dynamic scoring” which projected future revenue gains based on tax cuts and made the revenue losses in the future appear smaller. Democrats argued that the system was bogus and designed to mislead taxpayers.

Bush originally wanted tax cuts in 2003 as large as $1.57 trillion, but focused primarily on a package of $726 billion with much of the revenue loss coming from a reduction of taxes on stock dividends. Despite Republican support, the size of the tax cuts continued to shrink as they made their way through the legislative process. With concerns about the economy, growing deficits, and increased military spending, Congress ultimately approved cuts of $350 billion over ten years.

(In the wake of Katrina, the war in Iraq, and Repug congressional antics primarily involving Tom DeLay), Democrats and the media talked about a culture of corruption surrounding the Congress. All this would contribute to the loss of both houses of Congress to the Democrats in the 2006 elections. But even before this, in 2005 and 2006, Bush’s budgets no longer set the agenda in Congress and Republicans proved more fractious. No budget resolution at all was enacted in 2006 making it three out of four years that Congress had failed to produce a budget resolution. Two of these were under unified party control.

Other problems had emerged with the congressional process under the Republican Party. Although the budget process still served as a key set of institutions supporting majority rule in the legislative process, it had become less of a tool for fiscal restraint under unified Republican control in the 2000s. During the 1990s, under both President Bush and President Clinton, budget procedures were critical in enacting major deficit reduction legislation. Once the budget was in surplus, Republicans appeared less interested in fiscal restraint. Congressional appropriators were under less constraint from the budget resolution, and earmarks for special state and local projects exploded. Republicans failed to extend some of the rules that had made it possible to balance the budget in the 1990s. Pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, requiring offsets for tax cuts or spending increases, were allowed to expire in 2002. Republican critics feared that they would lead to tax increases to pay for new programs and labeled it “tax-as-you-go.”

Emergency provisions were used frequently after 2001. Billions and billions of dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror were passed under emergency provisions outside of the constraints of the budget process. The party of small government and balanced budgets had created a new prescription drug entitlement program in hopes of attracting support from senior citizens. Critics within the party despaired about their party’s budget record and said there was no longer even an attempt to disguise its record of expanding big government. Between 2001 and 2006, federal spending increased by 45 percent. The taste for bold conservative budgets, so apparent in 1995, seemed long gone.
Any of this starting to “ring a bell,” AP? And as noted here…

  • Even using inflation adjusted dollars, Republicans increased spending from $1.789 trillion in Fiscal Year 2000 to $2.247 trillion in Fiscal Year 2006.

  • Republicans even increased spending as a share of Gross Domestic Product. In FY 2000, federal government spending accounted for 18.4% of GDP, but by FY 2006 that had risen to 20.3%.

  • In Fiscal Year 2000, the government banked a surplus of $236 billion, but for (Fiscal Year) 2008, the Bush Administration project(ed) a mirror image deficit of $239 billion. During joint Republican control of the White House and Congress the deficit hit an all time record of $412 billion.
  • And who benefitted from this fiscal profligacy (or, more precisely, who didn't)? As noted here from 2006…

    Since 2001, a wide range of domestic priorities have been shortchanged to make room for the President’s tax cuts. For example:

    College Affordability — Since 2001, the cost of attending a four-year public college increased $3,095 – a whopping 34 percent – while the share of these costs paid by Pell Grants has dropped from 42 percent to only 30 percent. Meanwhile, House Republicans froze the maximum Pell Grant for four straight years.

    Healthcare Access — More than 46 million Americans are without health insurance – nearly seven million more than in 2000. Efforts to expand healthcare access through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) have lost 8 percent of their purchasing power compared to two years ago. Health professionals programs aimed at bringing more doctors and dentists to underserved communities were cut by 45 percent in actual dollars compared to 2005. Maternal and child healthcare grants lost 24 percent of their purchasing power compared to 2002.

    Energy Independence — In 2002, we imported 58 percent of our oil. Last year, we imported 65 percent. Yet we invest only 1/5 of what we did 30 years ago under President Carter in the energy research that can help us break our dangerous addiction to foreign oil. Instead of making a substantial new investment in this research, Republicans handed billions of dollars of subsidies to big energy companies.

    Worker Training — Seven million Americans remain unemployed — one million or 17 percent more than in 2001 – and more than 1.3 million Americans have been jobless for more than 26 weeks – nearly double the number in 2001. Yet, in real terms, Republicans have cut job training and employment service efforts by $1.3 billion in just two years.

    Educational Opportunity — Record public school enrollments, stringent No Child Left Behind mandates, and continuing fiscal pressures are making it difficult for states to invest in schools. Yet, federal funding for No Child Left Behind fell almost $16.4 billion short of what was promised for 2007. For 2007, Republicans cut No Child Left Behind for the second year in a row – nearly $500 million below last year and $1.5 billion below two years ago.

    Law Enforcement — September 11th showed that first responders, and particularly our nation’s law enforcement officers, are the first line of defense in case of a terrorist attack. Yet House Republicans have cut state and local law enforcement funding by 47 percent since 2001 – from roughly $4.5 billion to about $2.4 billion for 2007.

    Veterans’ Healthcare — The VA has been unable to keep up with the increasing demand for veterans’ healthcare. In 1995, VA treated 2.6 million veterans and their families. In fiscal year 2006, the Department expects to treat more than twice that number – 5.4 million. In addition, many VA hospitals and facilities are old and in need of repair – improvements that could cost billions over the next five to ten years. Yet, House Republicans fell short by $1.2 billion in 2004 and $1 billion in 2005 of providing enough funding to maintain current services in the VA healthcare system.

    Homeland Security Shortchanged – Despite substantial increases since September 11, 2001, America’s borders, ports and transit systems remain vulnerable to attack. Yet, inexplicably, Republicans have been underfunding – and even cutting – critical homeland security investments.

    For example, President Bush and the Republican Congress cut funding for our nation’s first responders (in 2005). (That) year, House Republicans cut funding for our nation’s first responders by 32 percent compared to 2003 – from $5.97 billion to just $4.08 billion. Republicans have cut first responder funding even as a recent report – previously withheld from public view by the Bush administration – reveals that America’s firefighters still do not have the tools they need to respond to a terrorist attack. For example, this report shows that:

    • Fire departments only have enough portable radios for 36 percent of emergency responders per shift.

    • 28 percent of firefighters per shift do not have self-contained breathing apparatus and 34 percent of all self-contained breathing apparatus is at least 10 years old.

    • Only ¼ of all fire departments can communicate with all of their partners who may respond to catastrophes, such as other nearby fire department, state emergency responders and Federal agencies with response duties.

    (This is not) the time to be shortchanging homeland security investments. Yet that is exactly what happened under President Bush and the Republican Congress.

    The war in Iraq - Despite significant increases in the Defense Department’s budget, the war in Iraq has left the U.S. Army’s readiness at its lowest level in decades. The degradation of Army readiness is directly due to the sustained troop deployments to Iraq and the pace of operations that has worn out equipment at an unusually fast rate. Unfortunately, the Administration’s use of supplemental appropriations to fund war operations has made the situation worse. The Administration often does not submit supplemental requests until well after the Army needs the funding to pay for ongoing operations. As a result, the Army is forced to delay certain activities, such as maintenance of equipment, until supplemental appropriations are approved.

    Congressional Republicans have ended their stewardship (in '06) by failing to finish their work on a budget for this year, flawed as that budget may have been. As a result, the (110th) Congress (was) forced to pass a long-term joint funding resolution. Certainly, a Republican majority that walks away from this obligation forfeits its right to complain about any action that Democrats are forced to take on budget and appropriations bills next year to clean up their chaotic mess.
    Now I will not tell you that the Democrats are perfect either; the Farm Bill passed last year with no decrease in agribusiness subsidies during a time of high wheat prices (an incredibly rare bit of agreement between yours truly and Dubya), but there was plenty of other good in the legislation to offset that, IMHO.

    But this AP “hit piece” by Woodward and company is scurrilous all the same (there’s a vague remark about the Iraq War “draining federal coffers” for six years, but no other reference to the ’00-’06 congresses – and by the way, all prior presidents in this country until Ronald Reagan managed to either balance our budgets or provide a surplus during time of war).

    And would that we had heard all of the big-media whining about “bipartisanship” when the current minority party was in charge – perhaps if we had, we would not be quite so engulfed in red ink from a Repug president and a congress who actually believed two wars could be financed by tax cuts.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009

    Wednesday Stuff

    An all-timer of a "Worst Persons" on "Countdown," getting top billing for a change tonight (Michele Bachmann rates almost a nightly citation anymore - yeah, I think "Hoot Smalley" played third base for the Cleveland Indians in 1915...uh huh; what a shame that Rupert The Pirate's circ on the New York Post is down 20 and a half percent - aaarrggghhh! Man the mainsails, Starbuck!; but congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina gets "Worst Of The Year" so far for saying that the hate crime of Matthew Shepard's murder was a myth - almost too repugnant for words)...

    Update 4/30/09: This is "three-quarters of a loaf" as apologies go, but it's something...but on second thought, not good enough, and blaming ABC News is ridiculous.

    Update 5/7/09: Maybe Foxx made amends here - let's hope so anyway.

    ...and in honor that the "100 day" observance is now over, let's have at it (this is LOUD).

    Wingnut DeMint’s Anti-Dem Specter “Spin”

    (And you guess it - I also posted here.)

    I’m sure you’ve read, as have I, a variety of explanations as to why Arlen Specter switched from a U.S. Senate Repug from PA to a Dem, but I have to tell you that the one from Specter’s former party colleague Jim DeMint may be the biggest stretch of all.

    As TPM tells us here…

    (DeMint) attributes the non-viability of the Republican party in states like Pennsylvania to the fact that voters have fled "forced unionization" in the northeast for the safety and comfort of the southern motherland.
    ("the southern motherland" - tee hee...)

    I would say that that type of non-thinking has led the party to its current state of near collapse, particularly in the northeast, as kos tells us here.

    Well, maybe instead of criticizing all of us in the Keystone State for allegedly driving out those Repugs voters with our nasty unions and prevailing wage law, DeMint should pay more attention to his own backyard, as it were, particularly given this story which tells us…

    According to the Economic Research Service, the average per-capita income for all South Carolina residents in 2006 was $29,767, although rural per-capita income lagged at $27,004. Estimates from 2007 indicate a poverty rate of 19.2% exists in rural South Carolina, compared to 13.8% in urban areas of the state. Data from 2000 finds that 29.1% of the rural population has not completed high school, while 21.8% of the urban population lacks a high school diploma. The unemployment rate in rural South Carolina is 7.7%, while in urban South Carolina, it is 5.3% (USDA-ERS, 2008).
    Also, this tells us that “about 4.6 percent of the population of South Carolina currently lives at or below the poverty level, despite working 40 or more hours per week, compared with the national rate of 4.1 percent” (not sure of the exact time periods for some of these numbers, but they are fairly recent and do not paint a pretty picture).

    And here’s a WaPo update providing even more bad news…

    On Day 88 (of the Obama presidency), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that South Carolina had set a record for its highest unemployment rate in state history, at 11.4 percent. Greenwood's unemployment is 13 percent -- more than twice what it was (in 2007).
    Also, South Carolina has no state minimum wage law, making it easy prey for the Walton family and other corporate vultures; this tells us that the company with the yellow smiley face settled a lawsuit for wage nonpayment dating back to 2000 nationwide, including in The Palmetto State (I have to admit that the state did create this rather interesting tourism promotion, though).

    But anti-unionism is as natural as breathing for DeMint; as noted here, he blocked a Democratic attempt to implement one of the 9/11 Commission recommendations that would have “require(d) that all containers on U.S.-bound vessels be screened in foreign ports for radiation, and all cargo loaded onto U.S. airliners be screened for explosives”…see, the “problem,” as far as DeMint is concerned, is that the bill would have allowed the Transportation Security Agency screeners to unionize.

    I would say that a union would have been able to provide for at least some of the residents of Greenwood, SC, were they to join through their employer (the town was profiled in the WaPo story); I’m sure Councilwoman Edith Childs, also profiled, could convince DeMint of that fact if she had the opportunity.

    But of course, DeMint would have to admit that she and her issues even exist at all (I would guess that that’s part of the reason why DeMint hasn’t even cracked the 50-percent incumbent approval mark, as Nate Silver notes here, with DeMint defending his seat next year – looks like the incumbent is only one credible Democratic challenger away from being retired from public life…we can only hope).

    Update: I meant to note this earlier concerning this notion DeMint is trying to propagate that all workers in PA are unionized; as noted here, "Union density in Pennsylvania rose from 15.1 percent in 2007 to 15.4 percent in 2008. In 2007 there were 830,000 union members in Pennsylvania among 5.496 million employed workers. In 2008 the number of union members increased to 847,000 among a workforce of 5.504 (million) employed workers."

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Tuesday Stuff

    Even now that he's finally, mercifully gone from public life, his memory as an utterly execrable human being remains (based on this)...

    ...and I've been trying to come up with an appropriate song to commemorate the occasion of Arlen Specter's return to the Democratic Party (yes, it's true - he ran for Philadelphia D.A. as a "Kennedy Democrat" in 1965), and I think the title of this song by RT from '91 (with Shawn Colvin in the band back then) is good advice for any Dem who wants to count Arlen as a new "bud," particularly in light of this - "with us it must be all or none at all" (sorry about the hum at the very beginning and the very end).

    Heye Now! Time For More Pundit-GOP Wankery

    (And I also posted here...this is a recording.)

    I happened to come across some posts from a guy named Doug Heye, who currently plies his craft as a pundit for The Hill, and they were too ridiculous for me to ignore (here).

    So, you may well ask, what weighty matters does this individual communicate to us?

    Well, Heye tells us that the Obamas’ apparent bad luck with gift giving continued recently, given that they only donated “signed pictures of themselves, of course! (to a celebrity auction held by Sidwell Friends school, attended by the Obama daughters). The winning bidders will receive a copy of Rolling Stone signed by President Obama and an autographed copy of Michelle Obama's Vogue cover” (and this gives Heye the chance to remind everyone about the apparent faux pas of the Obamas’ donation of DVDs to British PM Gordon Brown, as well as an iPod of Obama speeches to Queen Elizabeth, which I believe she requested).

    And did you know that, while Dems want to talk about anyone besides Obama according to Heye, we are instead preoccupied with whether or not Dick Cheney is now the leader of the Republican Party?

    Oh, and Heye expended more effort than needed (which was none, actually) to refute a Daily Kos diarist who took offense to Jake Tapper’s characterization of the Obamas as the “Camelot Huxtables” (yep, there are things to work yourself into a lather about, and this isn’t one of them, but somehow I don’t think a lone Kos diarist who I don’t recognize as a front-page contributor is going to be a “mover and shaker” of public opinion any more than your humble narrator).

    Also, Heye tells Obama that, even though North Korea failed again on their latest missile launch, this is “no time to go wobbly” by trying to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons” (kind of the way this “Democrat” felt, I’m sure).

    OK, you get the idea.

    I guess it’s a legitimate question as to whether or not I should devote precious time and energy to go after these paid media Repug operatives like Heye, but I guess, in Heye’s case, it all got a little too thick, if you know what I mean.

    And this tells us more about Heye, particularly…

    Heye lived in Washington, D.C., and managed an unsuccessful California congressional campaign, worked for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., and served as communications director for the House of Representatives' Committee on Resources before returning to North Carolina.

    He came home to work on Sen. Richard Burr's first senatorial campaign in 2004, doing communications work in 25 counties stretching from Mecklenburg County to Orange County.

    "I got to see North Carolina close up in a way that I really hadn't," he said.

    Despite being at UNC when the men's basketball team won the 1993 NCAA Tournament, Heye said his best memory was a political event.

    When the late conservative political pundit and author William F. Buckley Jr. came to speak at UNC, Heye wrote him a letter before his arrival, expressing a desire to meet.

    "I got invited on the spot to a dinner at Spanky's," Heye said. "I talked to him more than any of his hosts were able to."
    Knowing Buckley, I have a feeling it was a pretty one-sided conversation.

    And this tells us more about how Heye pretty much eliminated any line that may exist between political activism and pretend media objectivity; he was “a guest of (disgraced lobbyist Jack) Abramoff at least five times” while working for the Pombo campaign (with Pombo’s only accomplishment being that he tried, and failed fortunately, to weaken the Endangered Species Act, working in concert with Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, as noted here – of course, Pombo’s questionable campaign contributions didn’t help either).

    Also, Heye alleged here that Obama and disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich are “good friends,” and he denied busing in poll workers from Philadelphia to hand out fliers for failed Senatorial candidate (and now RNC head) Michael Steele here; the poll workers thought they were helping a Dem candidate (nice).

    Hmm, let’s see now, Heye worked for Pombo as well as Steele’s senatorial campaign…I would say he has a thing for losing causes, but Burr won in ’04. However, Burr's re-election prospects are questionable, given the following from here…

    Burr is a solidly conservative Senator in a state that just voted for Obama, along with Sen. Kay Hagan and Governor Bev Perdue. He has a limited record of accomplishment in the Senate, and Democrats have a strong field of candidates ready to take him on, with (Attorney General, Roy) Cooper the most prominent.

    Burr merits a slight edge for now, being the incumbent in a relatively Republican-friendly state, but that's certainly subject to change.
    Gee then, it sounds like Burr needs Heye to give up his gig at The Hill and go back to work for him. I’m sure fantasy-land story lines generated by Heye will do wonders for sinking the prospects of another incumbent Repug politician.

    Update 5/2/09: Wonder if Heye could help Burr over this?

    Snarlin’ Arlen Makes An Ass Of Himself

    Well, it seems our formerly Repug U.S. Senator from PA has switched parties and is now a Dem based on this (a totally craven but politically expedient move – I predicted that this wouldn’t happen here, which just goes to show why I don’t run political campaigns...I underestimated the amount of GOP defections in this state, strangely enough).

    As we all process this and what it means (not the way to get to 60 that I would have wanted, but we’ll take any route we can get; Norm Coleman’s appeals will end one day), I think it is instructive to revisit this post.

    (And by the way, I’m more torn that ever now on the question of whether or not Patrick Murphy should get into the race. I still think it’s best for him to stay out, and I say that partly out of selfish reasons because he’s my congressman and I’d hate to lose him, especially since a Repug would probably end up getting the seat in his place, even with the party’s almost total descent into wingnuttia. However, the thought of him knocking off Specter in the primary and rolling over Pat Toomey next November is “the stuff that dreams are made of,” even though the party machinery will be solidly behind Specter now.)

    Update 1: So this “Democrat” still opposes the Employee Free Choice Act (here), and apparently, now he has a problem with paying back Republican donors, as noted here (the jokes write themselves, people).

    Update 2: Spot-on commentary from David Sirota about this, IMHO (and I think this situation scream for this guy, if no one else, and I'm not talking about Tweety).

    Update 3: And by the way, let's never lose sight of the fact that Specter's defection is another gift from The Club For Growth, which, first and foremost, screws over moderates and hastens the descent of the Repugs further and further into wingnuttery, and thus their continued irrelevancy as a national party.

    Update 4 4/30/09: Interesting how Specter responded to another Republican senatorial party switch in 2001, as noted here (hat tip to Beltway Blips).

    Update 5 5/8/09: This is a whole other level of sick, people (and I'm not talking about Specter's affliction).

    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    Another questionable posting week coming up, by the way, particularly on Friday - but in the meantime...

    The first 100 days, as it were (some lowlights omitted such as the Timmeh and Larry Show on TARP and the banks and sticking Chris Dodd with the rap for the AIG bonuses, flip-flop on what to do about the Bushco criminals, allowing surveillance to continue, rethinking Afghanistan I hope - but hey, there is some positive stuff for sure)...

    ...and I know all I can do is try, but try I must...

    ..."Worst Persons" (let's just cut to the chase here, people, and say it flat out - Glenn Beck is nuts...the only thing crazier than his suppositions here is filibustering the vote on Kathleen Sebelius' nomination as HHS Secretary when the potential for a pandemic looms; also, as he says, kudos to this guy; and finally, I have to respectfully take issue with K.O. a bit here - yes, he's right that Lewis Caldera of the White House Military Office blew it by approving this and not telling everyone what was going on, but who was the button head in the Obama Administration who thought that a flyover of this type near the WTC site WAS APPROPRIATE FOR A PHOTO-OP??!! And that goes for the FAA on this too)...

    ...and it's hard to believe I know, but Stevie Nicks turned 61 yesterday; don't know what that says that she'll be eligible for Social Security soon - thought it was as good an excuse as any to put up this one.

    Some Obama/McClatchy "Hundred Day" Hackery

    (And also posted over here.)

    I realize that the topic du jour, in addition to the swine flu outbreak that originated in Mexico, seems to be the first 100 days of the Obama presidency (I thought this presented some interesting numbers given this milestone, referencing an ABC/WaPo poll).

    And McClatchy chimes in here, skewing perceptions based on vague non-reporting and misinterpretation, as well as concocting themes about Obama and Democrats in general that the majority of this country doesn’t care about (shocking that this comes from an otherwise fine news organization)…

    Obama's average approval rating for his first three months in office was 63 percent in the Gallup Poll.

    That's the highest since Jimmy Carter's 69 percent rating after his first 100 days more than three decades ago. However, Carter's presidency is widely considered a failure, which underscores the risk of reading too much into a president's first 100 days.
    Oh yes, the “conventional wisdom” tells us that Carter was a failure, and he and Obama are both Dems, so... (and by the way, here is yet another link to Walter Rodgers’ column defending our 39th president).

    (Also, on the subject of Carter, Dick Polman of The Philadelphia Inquirer tells us here that his successor, The Sainted Ronnie R of course, “inherited an economic mess that lingered for several years,” though it should be noted from here that, despite Carter’s admitted problems with inflation and unemployment – and OPEC never gets a mention from Carter antagonists as one of the causes for this, by the way – “he could claim an increase of nearly eight million jobs and a decrease in the budget deficit, measured in percentage of the gross national product” by the time he left office - and here's a reality check on Reagan's economic policies from former Clinton Labor Secretary Bob Reich.)

    You know, it’s funny, though – I don’t recall too many pundits saying after Dubya became president (when it comes to comparisons) that “well, his approval numbers are good after a hundred days, even registering 90 percent after 9/11 (true), but Warren Harding was a popular president also who we now would consider to be a failure.”


    Gerhard Peters, a co-founder of the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara , said that Obama's sweeping agenda could make him a transformational president, just as Roosevelt made America more reliant on government and as Ronald Reagan made it less so.
    In response, please allow me to quote from pg. 61 of Will Bunch’s great book on “the Gipper” (here)…

    In fact, the federal government grew in size under Reagan. The feds' civilian workforce increased during his two terms from 2.8 million to 3 million, even though his successors George H.W. Bush and especially Bill Clinton showed that government could be slashed (down to just 2.68 million by the time the budget-balancing Democrat left the White House). While the Gipper rode into Washington with tough talk about wielding an axe that might slash two cabinet agencies (Education and Energy), he left eight years later having added one, Veterans Affairs. Today, Reagan's biggest mythmakers will insist that he slashed federal spending. But he didn't. While Reagan was in office, federal spending grew by 2.5 percent per year, even when adjusted for inflation. As a share of America's gross national product, federal spending barely moved during the Reagan years, dropping just a couple of tenths of a percentage point.

    "The major failure of the Reagan Administration was the failure to discipline spending," William A. Niskanen, who served on Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers until 1985 and then chaired the conservative Cato Institute, told the New York Times in 1987. "We have a bigger government, with higher spending. We've slowed regulation down, but we haven't reversed it. In other words, there was no Reagan Revolution."
    Returning to the column (it gets better)…

    Obama signed orders to expand access to information under Freedom of Information and Presidential Records laws. But while making good on his promise to make government more transparent, Obama's White House nonetheless tries to shape the media message by limiting access to much information via selective leaks by unnamed sources.
    Example? And assuming that’s true, how exactly is that different from how anyone else operates in Washington?

    And still more…

    The president also has begun laying the groundwork for sweeping health care and global warming legislation. He says he'll preserve private health insurance but offer more government-managed insurance so that everyone is covered. Critics think that will guarantee significant tax increases down the road, despite the president's promise to raise taxes on only the wealthiest Americans.
    Well, regardless of what the “critics” say (do these people have names?), it should be noted from here that approximately 95 percent of this country saw the beginnings of the benefit of Obama’s tax cut as part of the stimulus legislation on April 1st.


    Obama's also fallen short so far in his effort to convert his campaign's effective grassroots and Internet operations to a force that can help him govern. Lawmakers report no evidence of political impact from those efforts.
    This is vague as hell - which lawmakers are they talking about? Besides, concerning any issues Obama may be having with “convert his campaign's effective grassroots and Internet operations,” I think this post documenting the technical issues the Obama White House is facing has a lot to do with their ability to mobilize forces and help to move the White House agenda forward in Congress.

    And oh yeah, I forgot this one…

    Obama also opened a new era of relations with Congress, moving quickly to enact legislation that Democrats couldn't get past Bush: expanded children's health insurance coverage (paid for with higher cigarette taxes) and pay equity legislation giving women more grounds for lawsuits.
    Uh, no; as noted here…

    (The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act) amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stating that the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal-pay lawsuit regarding pay discrimination resets with each new discriminatory paycheck. The law was a direct answer to the Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 550 U.S. 618 (2007), a U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that the statute of limitations for presenting an equal-pay lawsuit begins at the date the pay was agreed upon, not at the date of the most recent paycheck, as a lower court had ruled.
    Basically, Ledbetter was punished by Hangin’ Judge JR and the Supremes because the discriminatory payment practice that victimized her was something she didn’t discover until after the 180-day window of the first discriminatory payment had passed; one way to describe the reading of the High Court would be parsimonious, though there are many other descriptions that I'd like to use here though they wouldn’t be “PG” rated, as it were.

    The law as signed by President Obama arising from this doesn’t provide “more grounds for lawsuits.” If employers do what they’re supposed to, there won’t be lawsuits related to this at all.

    After reading this utter dreck of a political “analysis,” I really can't believe that it took five writers to produce this, let alone one (and news organizations can't understand why non-subscribers won't pay for online content...).

    Update: Speaking of President Carter, I neglected to mention the Op-Ed he wrote in the New York Times today calling to reinstitute the assault weapons ban, another 100 percent, dead-right stand that should be a no-brainer for anyone claiming allegiance to the Democratic Party (echoed by Bob Herbert on Saturday here).