Saturday, November 07, 2009

Saturday Stuff

Your Republican Party on health care reform, ladies and gentlemen (here)...

...and by the way, get a load of this nonsense from John Shadegg...

...and I thought this was some good stuff from Rep. George Miller of California (classy intro by Rob Andrews - there's a clip out there of Miller taking appropriate shots at the Repugs, but the audio is lousy; the final House vote is in progress)...

...and yep, I think this song is an appropriate response to the "loyal opposition" (and Stupak also: I can understand somewhat if people don't want public funding of abortions, but abortions paid for by subscriber premiums has been on the table for awhile, but Stupak and his pals don't even want to compromise on that - by the way, this is unexpurgated).

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Stuff

Man, is Tancredo a WATB or what? Kudos to Markos Moulitsas for responding to his BS with some truth...

...and I think Jon Stewart should get an Emmy, or a cable ACE award, or something, for this sendup of Glenn Beck (speaking of WATBs - love the pic of Che Guevara on the blackboard for no apparent reason)...

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..."Worst Persons" (Alan West running for Florida's 22nd District seat in the U.S. Congress starts making up what are basically racist excuses for the Fort Hood shooter - actually, I'd heard that World Nut Daily "reported" that Maj. Hassan was an Obama advisor, but when that lie was exploded, Fix Noise claimed that the shooter was mad at Obama for not ending the Iraq war earlier, though I have no video at the moment...the media wing of the Repug Party strikes again; speaking of which, Gretchen Carlson, Brian Kilmeade and Pete Johnson of the Roger Ailes Network come up with more excuses on Hassan, including "political correctness" over not screening him as a scary Muslim or something - um, wonder if these androids know that Dubya is no longer president and that BS basically doesn't fly any more; but Tom Kennif of the JAG office takes it for deciding to call out a member of our military as to whether or not that person had served in Iraq and supposedly knew as much as he did - the problem for Kennif is that the person he called out was Specialist Shoshana Johnson...a "JAG-off" indeed)...

...and between the elections and the result of the World Series, this has been one crappy week for your humble narrator, and here's something a bit mellow to end it (the paintings are from J.M.W. Turner, whose portrait appears at the every end).

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (11/6/09)

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 (and I also posted some videos here; not really able to do much more at the moment).


Interior Department budget. Voting 247-178, the House approved the conference report on a bill (HR 2996) to appropriate $32.2 billion for the Department of the Interior and other agencies in fiscal 2010. The figure is nearly 17 percent above 2009 outlays, with most of the increase allocated to restoring the Great Lakes, helping communities provide clean drinking water, suppressing wildfires, addressing climate change, and funding programs for American Indians.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), and Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).

Not voting: Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.).
This is the first vote that I can ever recall Patrick Murphy actually missing, and he had a great reason; as noted here (second item, and kudos to Rollins and Victorino for supporting the EFCA in the first one), his wife Jenni gave birth to their second child, Jack, last Monday, with big sister Maggie on hand also. Everyone is doing fine – congratulations all around!


Extended jobless benefits. Voting 87-13, the Senate advanced a bill (HR 3548) that would provide 20 more weeks of jobless checks for those whose current allotments have expired or soon will expire and who live in states with at least 8.5 percent unemployment. The bill provides 14 additional weeks of benefits for the long-term jobless in all other states. Jobless checks average $300 per week.

A yes vote was to begin debate on the bill.

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 (D., Pa.).

Interior Department budget. Voting 72-28, the Senate sent President Obama the conference report on a bill (HR 2996, above) to appropriate $32.2 billion for the Department of the Interior and other agencies in fiscal 2010.

In addition to items noted above, the bill provides $1.5 billion for cleansing toxic-waste sites; $1.1 billion for the Bureau of Land Management; $761 million for the Smithsonian Institution; $475 million for restoring the Great Lakes; $385 million for addressing climate change; and $335 million for the National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities.

A yes vote backed the conference report.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Specter.
This week, the House took up bills on health care, credit cards, and protecting chemical factories, while the Senate debated extended jobless benefits and a renewal of the home-purchase tax credit.

Friday Mashup (11/06/09)

  • “Floats” for the Yankees parade today in honor of their World Series win, huh?

    We didn’t need any damn “floats” here when the Phillies won last year. All we needed was to load up everybody into assorted vehicles and take them down the parade route to Citizens Bank Park for the celebration.

    (No, I don’t begrudge the Yankees their “day in the sun” here. As much as it pains me to admit it, they were the better team, though part of me wonders what would have happened if Hideki Matsui had taken the wrong subway train to the stadium on Wednesday, though on second thought, all those guys probably have limos.)

    I’m surprised there isn’t a commemorative A-Rod “float” with circular mirrors surrounding him so he can gaze upon his supposed gorgeousness at every moment (with Kate Hudson fawning appropriately, of course).

    Let’s see this bunch get back to the Series next year (past the Sox, Angels of wherever they are, Texas, whoever in the Central division and maybe Tampa Bay). This definitely isn’t the Yankee team of Paul O’Neill, Bernie Williams, Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, etc.

    Hopefully, though, the Phillies can make it back also, though their biggest NL foes have all improved as well.

    The off-season should be interesting (and the palace for the Yankees sounds as ridiculous based on this as the F.U./Wachovia/Wells Fargo/Whatever It's Called This Week Center where you can pay top dollar to watch the orange-and-black get beat by the best the NHL has to offer, to say nothing of the Sixers getting flattened by the NBA's elite teams).

  • Also, over at the AEI blog yesterday, Danielle Pletka tried to make a joke out of the following here…

    …as the president searches for different approaches to the conflict formerly known as the Global War on Terror, there’s another option that hasn’t received the attention it deserves: Bear deployment. It’s green. It’s mean. It’s a killing machine.
    And clicking on the “bear deployment” link takes you to a BBC News story, which tells us the following…

    A bear killed two militants after discovering them in its den in Indian-administered Kashmir, police say.
    Hmmm, Kashmir, I think to myself; no, not that overplayed Led Zeppelin song on the “classic rock” station, but that endlessly-fought-over territory between India and Pakistan.

    The area that was “ripe for resolution” according to Former President Stupid Head in 2008 here, even though he was told here in 2002 that he “can’t let it spin out of control.”

    And as noted here, the most recent development is that India has objected to what it considers Chinese interference in PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir), though the Indian home minister has said, “We will have a dialogue with every section of the people of Jammu & Kashmir. We mean dialogue process will start and it will be carried to its logical conclusion."

    Maybe we can’t exert much influence on this conflict, but it would be nice if the AEI’s resident pundit (one of many) would at least acknowledge that that area of the world is a legitimate trouble spot and not some background upon which she can manufacture a veiled dig at the current occupant of An Oval Office (and you can read about more Pletka foreign policy misadventures from here).

  • Also, I really don’t have anything to add to this, but I just wanted to point out the following “Thumbs Down” selection in today’s Bucks County Courier Times…

    To Bucks County Commissioner Charley Martin for his stubborn and thoughtless resistance to televising county commissioner meetings. And to Commissioner James Cawley for his cowering decision to defer to Martin on the issue.

    The cost of televising meetings has long been a convenient scapegoat; that and because the county, unlike municipalities, does not have a franchise agreement with the cable TV companies. Still, the commissioners could record the meetings and stream them on the county Web site, which would let interested citizens view them at their convenience.

    An opportunity to replay this week's commissioners meeting one way or the other - and at no expense to county taxpayers - was presented by minority Commissioner Diane Marseglia when she volunteered to pay for recording the meeting with video equipment at the Middletown Township building, the site of this week's remote meeting.

    Martin initially dismissed the offer, saying, "I don't see any advantage to it."

    Maybe not to you, Charley, or the other commissioners. The advantage would be to citizens, most of whom can't attend the commissioners' late-morning meetings because they have jobs.

    Cawley said he had no problem with the meeting going online or on TV but wouldn't back up his convictions. Instead, he meekly yielded to Martin.

    The senior commissioner later reversed himself, according to Marseglia, and gave the go-ahead for the meeting to play on Middletown's public access channel. Good thing for Middletown citizens - but what about the rest of us?
    And somewhere, Jay Russell smiles (note: he was the “third party” candidate who con-vee-niently ran in the last Bucks County Commissioners’ election and took just enough votes away from Dem candidate Steve Santarsiero to ensure that Martin won instead).

  • And finally, I should note that I’m really sorry for Dem U.S. House Rep (NJ-3) John Adler that Jon Corzine lost his bid for re-election as New Jersey governor last Tuesday, but that’s no reason for him to believe that “the sky is falling,” as it were (on the subject of Corzine’s loss, by the way, I thought this was an excellent analysis that appeared in the New York Times).

    As I’ve said at least once and many people smarter than I have pointed out numerous times already, the lesson, now as always, is to find a way to get your “base” into the game. And the Jersey Repugs, with the not-insignificant help of independent voters, did that for Christie (at times, I think “independent” voters are people who go into the voting booth, recall something they’ve heard no earlier than the day before or within the last five minutes and vote for that reason only; to be fair, though, that works for both parties).

    But if Adler thinks that this qualifies as getting the Dem base in the game, then I think he can expect to serve no more than one term in Congress (I have just about nothing for the weekly congressional writeup today, so I might as well point this out now).

    Because, as noted from the "Hill" post, Adler said the following…

    "Congress should not pass a bill that costs more than $1 trillion dollars or increases the financial burden on middle class families and small businesses," Adler said in a statement. "Health care costs are rising faster than wages and inflation, and this bill does not change this trend."
    In response, this post from Media Matters tells us the following…

    The CBO has said that the $1 trillion figure (cited here by Adler)doesn’t include $167 billion in new penalty taxes imposed on businesses and individuals, reducing the cost to $894 billion, and beyond that, the CBO explained that that $894 billion figure represents the "net cost of coverage provisions." CBO found that those provisions "would be more than offset by the combination of other spending changes, which CBO estimates would save $426 billion, and receipts resulting from the income tax surcharge on high-income individuals and other provisions, which JCT [the Joint Committee on Taxation] and CBO estimate would increase federal revenues by $572 billion over that period."

    Ultimately, the bill would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $104 billion over the 2010--2019 period.
    Congressman, if you’re going to do nothing but parrot right-wing talking points and run away from what should be the courage of your convictions, please switch parties now. You’re giving the Republicans everything they want as it is. Why not make it official and be done with it?
  • Thursday, November 05, 2009

    Thursday Stuff

    And we're supposed to take these people seriously as an opposing political party (unfortunately, I think Keith's reference to apartheid fits - another moment when I don't feel happy about the fact that I'm Caucasian)...

    Update 1 11/6/09: Makes sense that Ratzenberger is as obnoxious as his character on "Cheers" here (and for the reality-based perspective, click here).

    Update 2 11/6/09: It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic - despite their idiocy, I hope everyone recovered (here).

    ...and from the ridiculous to the sublime we go - I'm changing things up here as I do every so often; 20 years ago today, the man who may have been the greatest concert pianist who ever lived passed away, and I'm referring to none other than Vladimir is another majestic performance.

    Thursday Mashup (11/5/09)

  • Well, I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised by this New York Times story, which tells us the following…

    …Disney is taking the risky step of re-imagining (Mickey Mouse) for the future.

    The first glimmer of this will be the introduction next year of a new video game, Epic Mickey, in which the formerly squeaky clean character can be cantankerous and cunning, as well as heroic, as he traverses a forbidding wasteland.

    …Disney has quietly embarked on an even larger project to rethink the character’s personality, from the way Mickey walks and talks to the way he appears on the Disney Channel and how children interact with him on the Web — even what his house looks like at Disney World.

    “Holy cow, the opportunity to mess with one of the most recognizable icons on Planet Earth,” said Warren Spector, the creative director of Junction Point, a Disney-owned game developer that spearheaded Epic Mickey.
    And given Disney’s recent agreement with Marvel, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Jonas Brothers appear in concert in “Spider-Man 4” (I heard a month or so ago that a script was in development), Storm of “X-Men” shows up in a “very special” episode of “Hannah Montana” to help the teenage heartthrob with “coming of age” issues, and some threatening but ethnically neutral (re., primarily Caucasian) street punks invade “The Suite Life Of Zack And Cody” before the perpetually annoying, talentless but handsome pre-adolescents are saved in a guest appearance by “Iron Man” (hey, it’s all about multi-platform marketing, baby!).

    If anything, I expected the Marvel world to get the edges of its characters kind of evened out a bit so they could be more palatable to the white-bread Disney archetype, but if the price for leaving them alone means turning Mickey and company into characters out of “Mad Max,” I’ll take that trade.

    And by the way, am I the only one who is scratching his or her head over the fact that the Times thought that this was a legitimate front-page story for their print edition?

  • Also, Repug U.S. House Rep Rob Bishop of Utah tells us the following from The Hill here (the pic will make sense at the end)…

    The Obama Administration continues to play politics with our energy future. Evidence of this fact is the recent cancellation of 77 oil and gas leases in Utah, delayed access to the Outer Continental Shelf, blocked mineral leases, new restrictive oil shale mandates and the consideration of costly taxes on U.S. energy producers and consumers.

    Instead of focusing on special-interest solutions emanating from Washington, we should look to the hard-working American people for solutions to our nation’s energy and jobs crises. It is the American people, not government bureaucrats, who will develop new and innovative energy technologies. From the Silicon Valley to Manhattan, emerging technologies are revitalizing energy production. However, these new technologies are worthless without the ability to access our abundant domestic resources.

    As we stand at the crossroads of what seems to be a future of bleak jobs, leaders in Washington are looking to implement costly and destructive policies that hinder, not help in economic and job recovery. The same lands that once brought good fortune and prosperity to early pioneer families can provide that same relief once again in the form of new jobs and greater energy independence. However, this will only be possible if federal bureaucrats and special-interest groups get out of the way and allow American ingenuity to flourish.
    “A future of bleak jobs,” huh? Sounds to me like that sentence needed a copy edit (just a guess).

    And as far as Bishop’s supposed concern for those “bleak jobs,” this Salt Lake City Tribune story tells us the following…

    All four of Utah's Republicans in Congress voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this year, and all of them then used congressional stationary in an attempt to nab stimulus cash for the state. Utah's lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. Jim Matheson, who voted for the stimulus, also sought funds in letters to federal departments.
    Also, the Sun News tells us the following (here)…

    (Salazar) withdrew the leases of (the) 77 oil and gas parcels, or 130,000 acres (in Utah's wild red-rock country near Arches and Canyonlands national parks). The leases were also near Dinosaur National Monument and Nine Mile Canyon, an area with prehistoric rock art. Salazar said that the auction Dec. 19 took place without a proper environmental review and consultation with the National Park Service.

    Salazar said the department would reconsider the leases and decide whether they were appropriate. It's possible that "a very large portion" of the land could be put up for lease, he said.

    The cancellation of the leases was one of the first actions that the Obama administration has taken to protect environmentally sensitive public lands. Salazar called it "an important first step to making sure we have the right balance between development of our resources and protection of our environment."

    Actor Robert Redford said in a statement that Salazar's announcement was "a sign that after eight long years of rapacious greed and backdoor dealings, our government is returning a sense of balance to the way it manages our lands" and added: "American citizens once again have a say in the fate of their public lands, which in this case happen to be some of the last pristine places on Earth."
    And as noted here from a couple of weeks ago…

    Salazar is asking for an investigation of an 11th-hour Bush administration change to oil shale leases in Utah and Colorado that he says may be illegal.

    At the same time, Salazar says he's opening a second, more rigidly controlled round of leases for companies trying to find a commercially feasible way to produce synthetic fuel from oil shale in the Rocky Mountain region.

    Salazar on Tuesday sent a letter to Interior's inspector general asking for a probe into changes President George W. Bush's Interior Department made to six existing leases -- including one in Utah -- that Salazar says greatly benefited the leaseholders at the expense of taxpayers.
    Also, this Source Watch article on Bishop tells us that he favors the “wise use” of natural resources, which sounds benign enough, until you find out that the so-called “wise use” movement is…

    “…often funded by timber, mining, and chemical companies. In return, they claim, loudly, that the well-documented hole in the ozone layer doesn't exist, that carcinogenic chemicals in the air and water don't harm anyone, and that trees won't grow properly unless forests are clear-cut, with government subsidies. Wise Use proponents were buffeted by Bush's defeat and by media exposure of the movement's founders' connections to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church network (tainted by charges of cultism and theocratic neo-fascism), but the movement has quickly rebounded. In every state of the US, relentless Wise Use disinformation campaigns about the purpose and meaning of environmental laws are building a grassroots constituency. To Wise Users, environmentalists are pagans, eco-nazis, and communists who must be fought with shouts and threats."
    Oh, and Congressman Bishop is a pal of the teabaggers also, as noted here (and pictured above…wonder how many of Bishop’s teabaggin’ fans took time off from their “bleak jobs” to attend this little Bund rally today? And such lovely signs too…).

  • Finally, Tony Blankley of the Moonie Times imagined a big media conspiracy here (and naturally, the source is all of that “Chicago-style politics” of the Obama Administration)…

    Not so long ago, there was a furious fight between different tribes in the White House, the CIA and the State and Defense departments over the correct war-fighting strategy. The coin of the realm back then was intelligence: Intelligence that pointed in the right policy direction was cherry-picked and shown to the public; covert players connected to undesirable conclusions were outed or disparaged. This fight for the hearts and minds of Washington opinion shapers was fought out on the battlefields of the Washington Post and the New York Times -- and from them to the networks and news outlets across the country and around the world.

    These descriptions may remind you of Valerie Plame -- a CIA operations officer with relatively minor responsibilities who was outed by someone in the George W. Bush administration.

    Well, last week the Times again published on the front page the name of a purported CIA-paid undercover asset. This time it was none other than Ahmed Wali Karzai, the powerful brother of the Afghan president. This time the Times cited, on background, Obama administration "political officials," "senior administration officials" and others as their sources to the effect that Mr. Karzai has been secretly on the CIA payroll for eight years and has been helping the United States with intelligence, logistic and base support for our Special Forces, recruiting and running an Afghan paramilitary force on the instruction of the CIA -- as well as being a major narcotics trafficker.
    This Wikipedia article tells us the following about Plame…

    Due to the nature of her clandestine work for the CIA, many details about Plame's professional career are still classified, but it is documented that she worked for the CIA in a clandestine capacity relating to counter-proliferation.[9][12][13][14]

    Plame served the CIA as a non-official cover (or NOC), operating undercover in (at least) two positions in Athens and Brussels.[15] While using her own name, "Valerie Plame", her assignments required posing in various professional roles in order to gather intelligence more effectively.[16][17][18] Two of her covers include serving as a junior consular officer in the early 1990s in Athens and then later an energy analyst for the private company (founded in 1994) "Brewster Jennings & Associates," which the CIA later acknowledged was a front company for certain investigations.[19]

    She married Wilson in 1998 and gave birth to their twins in 2000,[21] and resumed travel overseas in 2001, 2002, and 2003 as part of her cover job. She met with workers in the nuclear industry, cultivated sources, and managed spies.[22] Part of her work involved ensuring that Iran did not acquire nuclear weapons.[23]

    Part of her work during this time was concerned with determining the use of aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq.[24] CIA analysts prior to the Iraq invasion were quoted by the White House as believing that Iraq was trying to acquire nuclear weapons and that these aluminum tubes could be used in a centrifuge for nuclear enrichment.[25][26] However, David Corn and Michael Isikoff argued that the undercover work being done by Mrs. Wilson and her CIA colleagues in the Directorate of Central Intelligence Nonproliferation Center strongly contradicted such a claim.[24]
    So basically, what Plame did was to track loose nukes, and to employ at least two different aliases in doing so (which Blankley considers as “relatively minor responsibilities”).

    And he somehow sees an equivalency between Plame, a true patriot who no doubt risked her life untold times in the course of doing her job, and Ahmed Wali Karzai, who Blankley plainly admits is a “major narcotics trafficker,” as noted here.

    Truly, words fail me.
  • Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    Wednesday Stuff

    Far smarter people than yours truly have pointed out already that the electoral winners yesterday achieved victory by getting more of their "base" up from sitting on their hands and marching to polling stations to cast votes than the opposition (Politics 101, I know).

    Yes, it was good fun to watch the Repug demolition derby in NY-23 that led to Dem Bill Owens' victory, but I seriously hope President Obama and/or his people watch this interview Lawrence O'Donnell conducted tonight with Dan Savage over the defeat of the gay marriage referendum in Maine (though gains were made in Washington state and Michigan).

    There are equal parts of disappointment and disgust in what Savage has to say about the performance of the Obama people on this issue. And Savage is absolutely right in his analysis.

    Obama won because he talked a good game on behalf of a broad coalition (and yes, he has delivered on some of what he promised - fair pay, diversity, appointing people who are actually competent to run government agencies, etc). From what Savage says, though, Obama has to win back a big part of that coalition if he's going to be re-elected in three years (and I can't stomach the thought of another presidential circus at this time myself either, but that's the reality).

    It sounds to me as if LGBT individuals have had enough with the "hopey, changey" speeches and want to see results. And it's long past time for them to get what they deserve on that score...

    ...and speaking of scores, I should note that this has been a pretty crappy last 24 hours or so between the elections and the World Series, but as much as I hate to point it out, the better team won.

    Congratulations are still due to the Phillies for a great year, though. I don't recall how long it's been exactly, but I know it's been awhile since a team won the Series one year and went back to defend their title the next year.

    I'm glad the last runs were scored on a Ryan Howard home run. I know he didn't come up as big as he wanted to, but he still carried this team for long stretches, and there's no way they would have made it as far as they did without him. Chase Utley did well, even though that caught-looking strikeout by Pettitte in Game 3 turned out to be huge. And even if the guys they gave up for him all turn out to be stars, it was worth it to get Cliff Lee.

    I'm sure at this moment, all of the New York glitterati are having a high time, so let them have it for now (including the brainless Kate Hudson and the demonic Rudy Giuliani). And I'll bet that song with their city name mentioned twice is blaring all over the place.

    Well, this is for the Phils - if having to play in The Bronx isn't to "march into hell," I don't know what is (have to actually crank up the volume a shade).

    And by the way, I have a special message for Jimmy Rollins.

    Please carry around a piece of duct tape in your pocket so you can place it firmly over your mouth the next time you get the urge to make another stupid prediction. I don't like it when any athlete spouts off like that (I thought I was done having to deal with stuff like that after Buddy Ryan was fired as the Eagles' head coach), and that counts double for a team I support.

    Wednesday Mashup (11/4/09)

  • If you want to get an idea of the utterly unreal world in which many conservatives in this country choose to live, I think you need go no further than this post at The Weakly Standard by John McCormack about the NY-23 congressional race last night...

    Even if you're not generally a fan of the winning-by-losing theory, Republicans and conservatives really should be glad that conservative Doug Hoffman chased liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava from the field in New York's 23rd congressional district. Why's that?

    First, Scozzafava couldn't have won in a two-way race anyway. She was a terrible candidate and more liberal than the Democrat. She would have depressed Republican turnout, and Owens would have won.
    And just for those recently tuning in, I should point out that Democrat Bill Owens did win (the first Dem to hold this congressional seat since The Civil War, by the way).

    And Scozzafava “couldn’t have won in a two-way race anyway?” That’s interesting, because this post from The Albany Project shows the results of a poll in September that had Scozzafava leading both Owens AND Hoffman in a three-way race (30 percent, 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively; of course, that was before “Sarah Barracuda” and The Club for Growth did what they do best, and that is to involve themselves in elections to the ultimate detriment of Republicans).

    Back to McCormack…

    Second, Doug Hoffman's getting 45 percent of the vote while buried on the conservative party line of the ballot shows that Republicans could have won this race had the county chairs selected anyone--Hoffman included--who's acceptable to the Republican mainstream. Hoffman and the independent conservative groups backing him ran a good campaign to go from nothing to nearly winning. Hoffman still could have won this race on the conservative line had Scozzafava not endorsed Owens.
    All together now – WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!

    So thank Doug Hoffman for showing the GOP establishment that a conservative can win in upstate New York and for saving us from the disaster of Dede Scozzafava.
    OK, now I think it’s time for us to all hear from actual grownups, and when it comes to electoral number-crunching, I always turn to Nate Silver at “Five Thirty Eight,” from which we learn the following from the comments here…

    Another factor that may come in to play here is resentment from upstate NY Republicans at the national party and at all the right wing pundits inserting themselves into (and apparently taking control of) local party matters. I suspect this is reflected in Hoffman's high unfavorable numbers among Scozzafava supporters.


    I live in this district and I think that people are discounting the common view that Hoffman is an outsider. He showed that he really doesn't understand northern New York concerns. Bringing in a rich, outside to represent relatively poor northern New York is fairly offensive to many.

    Also, I am a teacher and the very, very liberal teachers' union endorsed Dede, that tells you something of her liberal views. If conservatives have already fled to Hoffman, I think we know who was left supporting Dede, she had a huge amount of union support and those supporters *will not* be voting for Hoffman.


    The angle that is being forgotten is that Hoffman is not local and flubbed questions about local issues.

    He is being pushed by outsiders (including Palin) and that can be very offensive to many voters - they know they are being manipulated by people who want this to be a litmus test for national politics but do not actual care about the people in the district and their concerns.

    Hoffman's negatives are likely to go up, and that generally more voters who stay home on election day.


    I can't see how it's good for a political party if they're willing to throw their own party members under the bus like this, especially for a carpetbagger who has nothing to offer but ideological purity. If there's too much of it, you end up with a substantial shard of the Republican caucus that is ultimately not going to be accountable to party leadership. If the GOP somehow go the way of the Whigs, I could see it starting out looking like this.

    Of course, if Owens wins and the narrative coming out of the race was that the far right overplayed their hand, etc. then that will be less good for the Republicans in the immediate future (as they'll be in a slightly less good position for 2010, as if they have a chance of recapturing the House), but it will be much better for them going forward.

    How bizarre that the GOP seems willing to grind up the party itself for immediate petty gain. If the GOP does in fact become obsolete over the next few decades, this race will get its own chapter in the history books.
    Just keep pushing the “pedal to the metal,” Repugs. When it comes to achieving national party prominence again, the only direction that will lead for you is straight off the electoral cliff (and isn’t this precious).

  • This post at The Hill featured the observations of a few pundits on what we supposedly should have learned from Election Day yesterday, with Grover Norquist (?) saying “Republicans cannot win without conservatives” (though I think the Albany Project link in the preceding entry disproved that), and Glenn Reynolds (?!) blaming the New Jersey and Virginia losses on Obama’s “coattails” not being long enough, or something.

    One of the few people who actually made sense, though, was Dean Baker, who said the following…

    The message is that it is still the economy, stupid. People are hurting and they blame the party in power. While this meant the Dems took a hit in New Jersey and Virginia, the New York mayoral race was ridiculously close given Bloomberg's advantage as the incumbent and his enormous lead in campaign spending.

    If the Democrats don't produce jobs by November 2010, they will pay a price in the off-year elections. No one other than the Washington Post and a few elite pundits give damn about the budget deficit. In fact, almost no one even has a clear as to how large it is. If it doubled or were cut in half almost no one would even notice — it would still be a really large number. If the Democrats want to win they have to ignore the pundits (remember, pundits don't get their jobs by being competent and don't lose them by being incompetent) and figure out a way to generate jobs it's that simple.

    Germany has managed to keep its unemployment rate at 7.6 percent. That did it through a policy of work-sharing, the government effectively uses unemployment benefits to keep people employed working short-hours at pretty much the same pay, instead of paying people to be unemployed.

    I don't think Germans are that much smarter than we are. We can learn from this policy and get unemployment back to more normal levels quickly. If the Democrats don't move on this quickly, they will suffer next fall.
    And as a follow-up to that, this AP story tells us that “the increase in French jobless lines has been somewhat tempered by short-work arrangements and government incentives such as exempting payroll taxes for some workers,” though unemployment is still expected to hit 10 percent by the end of the year.


    In Mexico, “the jobless rate among the country’s roughly 45 million workers was up (to 6.28 percent in August ‘09) from 4.2 percent in August 2008. President Felipe Calderon has announced reforms to ease red tape and lower costs for investors in public works projects to foster job growth. The government also started paying one-third of the salaries of automotive workers to curb layoffs at the plants.”

    In Japan, “(that country’s) unemployment rate actually dipped to 5.5 percent in August after reaching 5.7 percent in July, the highest level in Japan’s post-World War II era, amid mounting job and wage cuts. Still, the total number of jobless in August rose 32.7 percent from a year earlier to 3.61 million.”

    In China, “the official urban unemployment rate was 4.3 percent for the three months ended June 30 but the actual level could be more than double that because the government system ignores millions of migrant workers and employees who are furloughed by state companies but not recorded as laid off.”
    And I had to laugh when I read this in particular…

    “The picture is even less clear in India where the government does an official employment survey only about once every five years. Ninety percent of the work force is in the so-called informal sector.”
    The country that is turning into the call center for the entire world only tracks employment “about once every five years.” Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

    I must admit that I don’t have anything particularly brilliant to add here, but I still thought it was interesting to see what the rest of the world is dealing with concerning the economy and how they’re responding to it (or not responding, in some cases).

    Finally, in the course of trying to find information to post about on this subject, I came across the following from here about a certain 39th President of the United States, James Earl Carter by name (in response to this idiocy)…

    From January 1977 to July (1980), the civilian labor force grew from 88.7 million to 97 million workers – a gain of 8.3 million jobs, or nearly 10 percent. That’s by far the fastest growth in employment during recent economic recoveries.
    (And by contrast, Dubya produced about 3 million over eight years, all of which have since disappeared.)

    And speaking of unemployment, this tells us that an extension of jobless benefits was finally passed by the Senate after a month’s worth of procedural games by the Repugs after the House passed its own extension (the vote was 97-1; I figured the “1” was Tom Coburn, but I was wrong, though close – it was Jim DeMint).

  • Update 11/5/09: Uh, CNN? The benefit extension wasn't held up by weeks of "partisan debate." It was held up by Republican obstruction. And as noted above, the vote was 97-1, not 98-0.

    We'll have to "leave it there."

  • Finally, I give you what I guess you could call “today’s moment of Zen” from none other than Oliver North of Fix Noise (here - a companion post is here)…

    Thirty years ago today, November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian “students” shouting “death to America” stormed the U.S. Embassy in Teheran, Iran and took 66 Americans hostage. Though fourteen of the hostages were soon freed, the remaining 52 were held for 444 days. For the American people, it was our introduction to militant Islam. For the Carter administration, intent on “engaging” the regime that replaced Shah Reza Pahlavi, it was a disaster.
    This Wikipedia article tells us all about the Iran-Contra scandal, in which...

    ...“Oliver North, a military aide to the United States National Security Council (NSC), proposed a…plan for selling arms to Iran, which included two major adjustments (to a previous plan): instead of selling arms through Israel, the sale was to be direct, and a portion of the proceeds would go to Contras, or Nicaraguan guerilla fighters opposed to communism, at a markup. North proposed a $15 million markup, while contracted arms broker (Manucher) Ghorbanifar added a 41% markup of his own.[30] Other members of the NSC were in favor of North's plan; with large support, (National Security Advisor John) Poindexter authorized it without notifying President Reagan, and it went into effect.[31] At first, the Iranians refused to buy the arms at the inflated price because of the excessive markup imposed by North and Ghorbanifar. They eventually relented, and in February 1986, 1,000 TOW missiles were shipped to the country.[31] From May to November 1986, there were additional shipments of miscellaneous weapons and parts.[31]
    And all of this violated the Boland Amendment, which made direct funding of the Reagan administration-sponsored Nicaraguan rebels (also known as the “Contras”) illegal.

    So North basically knew what Iran was, but that didn’t prevent him from doing business with them anyway, and breaking the law in the process (as noted here, North was convicted of accepting an illegal gratuity, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and destruction of documents, though the conviction was overturned on a technicality involving immunized testimony).

    As Ollie himself might put it, not everyone is as “clueless” about this country’s history as he thinks they are.
  • Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Tuesday Stuff

    (And I also posted here.)

    Really, New Jersey? Really?

    Chris Christie is really your new governor, huh?

    Well then, get ready for tax cuts all around (except property taxes, which won’t budge - they never do regardless of who is in power), budget deficits as far as the eye can see, and rewards for every well-heeled Republican in the state and elsewhere (and yes, I called it for Corzine, so I “screwed the pooch” on that one).

    I don’t think this is as extreme a judgment on the Dem as Virginia, but I think the results in both states show what happens when one “base” is excited and the other decides to sit on its hands (and I blame both Deeds and Corzine for that one).

    Tonight’s election results, particularly in New Jersey, proved two things conclusively for me: 1) In no way whatsoever is either development a referendum on Obama, and 2) More people should read this blog :-).

    And by the way, I’m preparing myself for the strong possibility of a repeat development in PA next year :-(.

    Finally, here is a reminder once more of how New Jersey’s new governor-elect stole from Monty Python in his campaign…

    …and I dedicate this to everyone who voted for Christie.

    Update 11/4/09: And by the way, there is no excuse whatsoever for this...

    Update 11/4/09: And by the way (also), the answer to the question is yes - I am completely aware of the fact that every local candidate I supported lost. This was particularly painful considering the Lower Makefield Township supervisors race (Fran McDonald was by volume a better candidate than Dan McLaughlin), but anyone out there who voted for Simon Campbell and Kathleen Zawacki because they felt that they pay too much in school taxes must send their kids to private school; this development in particular will be ruinous for public school education in this district (as I said over at Wordpress earlier, prepare to reap the whirlwind).

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    Monday Stuff

    Congratulations, Inky - now the whole world knows what numbskulls you are (and I can't wait to read the next story about President Obama and his senior adviser David "Alexrod"...and yes, the paper apologized)...

    ...and I think the "takeaway" from this story is that, when it comes to legal deceit and maneuvering to keep their sorry asses out of prison, even Patrick Fitzgerald couldn't nail "Deadeye Dick" and the Bush gang (with only underling "Scooter" Libby having to take the rap, and his sentence was commuted)...

    ..."Worst Persons" (Pat Boone goes full-on "tenther," "birther," "OMIGOD OBAMA IS A SCARY MUSLIM! - RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!" us all a favor and find some Palm Springs rest home to "run out the clock" while, once more, I implore you to count all the dough you made covering songs of African American recording artists, most notably Little Richard...either that, or go hole yourself up in an Idaho mountain cabin somewhere, OK?; speaking of nut cases, Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is baaack to tell us that health care reform is scarier than guess is that the people who vote for this antebellum harpie count with their fingers and toes; but winguts Amanda Carpenter, Mary Katherine Ham, Ed Morrissey and Michael Goldfarb take the prize for not reading the disclaimer on the White House visitor logs about Bill Ayres and a certain African American preacher and running with the "story" of how Obama is secretly meeting them - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!)...

    ...and I had this song queued up tonight in case the Phils went down, but thankfully, they'll live to play ball on Wednesday in The Bronx Zoo - at the very least, win it in your own damn house, not ours!

    Perhaps The Most Hideous Anniversary Of All

    On this day five years ago, notwithstanding electoral fraud in Ohio, George W. Bush was re-elected president of the United States (here).

    Over 62 million people voted to return this presidential pretender to power, the individual who read a child’s book in a Florida classroom while the Twin Towers fell in New York City, a portion of the Pentagon collapsed, and a plane crashed in central Pennsylvania, all due to intelligence failures on his watch in response to the ever-growing threat of Islamist terrorism.

    Over 62 million people voted to return to power the individual who never resolved the mystery of the tainted Anthrax letters which appeared soon after the 9/11 attacks (more here). Over 62 million people voted to return to power the individual who, while forsaking the war of necessity against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, fabricated a mythology about Iraq and diverted precious resources to squander there instead (and by the way, you can consider this an appropriate postscript).

    Over 62 million people voted to return to power the figurative head of our one-time ruling cabal of crooks who politicized virtually every function of government, ruthlessly punished its enemies by both barely legal and illegal means, waged war on the environment, spent us hopelessly into debt, invested absolutely nothing in this country on behalf of the middle class, encouraged our enemies, alienated our friends, and broke our military.

    And yes, I know that doesn’t cover everything. And I also know that we know all of this.

    (And this, by the way, is typical of the red-state triumphalism over Dubya’s supposed “mandate,” with more on that here; by the way, even though Obama won by a substantially larger margin than his predecessor, a Google search on “Barack Obama, 2008, president, mandate” yields 1,380,000 hits, whereas a search on “George W. Bush, 2004, president, mandate” yields 453,000,000 hits).

    However, I believe it is necessary to remind us of all of this since the chattering classes of the punditocracy refuse to do that themselves. And a prime example of that is a recent column here by Jon Meacham of Newsweek, in which he tells us the following…

    If the first President Bush was more willing to use force than is sometimes remembered, his son was more open to diplomacy, especially in his last years in office, than is virtually ever remembered.
    I think the headline of this story pretty much refutes such sentiments from a partisan like Meacham, who once called Sen. Russ Feingold “a sane Howard Dean” here (gee, Dr. Dean was the first person to tell the clueless, accommodationist, triangulationist, Third-Way-and-perpetually-election-losing DNC establishment, so long enamored with their hero Joe Lieberman, that Democrats needed to compete in all 50 states to be successful; that sounds pretty “sane” to me).

    Also, in his story, Meacham continues to perpetuate the utter fiction that this is a "center-right" country, as he also did here.

    I gave this post its title because I think that the re-election of George W. Bush will emerge as a singularly dubious moment in our history. September 11th, by contrast, is a day of commemoration and an expression of unity, along with other solemn occasions. And there’s a bit of me that can actually forgive people who voted for Number 43 in 2000 – just a bit, though; I can see that it would have been hard for someone not well informed to understand what Dubya and his pals truly represented.

    However, to me, November 2, 2004 will be the day in which the invincibly ignorant chose to reinstall the author of the vast majority of our current miseries. It is a date of almost unspeakable ignominy to commemorate an act for which there is no excuse, then, now, or for all time.

    And, as Meacham did above, our corporate media continues to make excuses for George W. Bush.

    And they always will.

    Update: "And I'll bet you're going to blame Bush for this too," I hear some say (h/t Atrios).

    Well, considering that his administration saw the lowest percentage of job creation since Herbert Hoover (and the jobs that were created disappeared from the recession), as well as the fact that he neglected this country's infrastructure (though Obama hasn't, as noted here), as well as the level of poverty that was already on the rise during his ruinous reign (here) figure it out.

    Update 11/3/09: Heh, heh, heh (here - h/t Atrios).

    Sunday, November 01, 2009

    Sunday Stuff

    In light of this story, let's hope that, after this Tuesday, Christie's gubernatorial hopes will be as dead as the animal in this sketch (and of course, the ad has been taken down - more here at the second item)...

    ...and we Phillies fans may be crying something pretty soon the way things are going, but I don't know if it will be lightning (ain't over yet, though).

    A Grayson Gaffe From The New York Times

    If "The Old Gray Lady" is going to attack Congressman Alan Grayson, at least the paper should do is get its information straight (here), right?

    Mr. Grayson joins colleagues like Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota; Pete Stark, Democrat of California; and Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina, in what the decorum-minded see as a bipartisan playpen reserved for political problem children. So for party leaders, the behavior often forces a question: Do you cheer, or wince, or both?

    “If you are on our side, you assume that the problem member is mostly likely to be invited on all the Sunday talk shows,” said Representative Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, who recently served as the No. 2 House Republican and is firmly in the grown-up camp.
    Oh yes, this was such a "grown up" moment for Blunt, wasn't it ("Play the ball where 'the monkey' throws it" in Washington, huh? Real big yuks, you idiot)...

    Times writer David Herszenhorn continues...

    As for figuring out if and when the leadership needs to intercede, Mr. Blunt said: “That’s when the leaders decide which leader is more likely to deal successfully with the problem.” House Republican leaders, for instance, quickly made clear that Mr. Wilson would have to apologize after he shouted “You lie!” during President Obama’s health care speech before Congress.
    Gee, if Herszenhorn had bothered to perform a minimum of research, he would have discovered that Wilson never apologized to Congress for his outburst (as noted here), though he did apologize to the President, so Herszenhorn is partly correct here anyway. However, an apology on the House floor was certainly called for by Wilson for his unprecedented act (though, as we all know, IOKIYAR).

    More On "Simple Simon" And Kathleen Zawacki

    Did you know that Pennsbury School Board Repug candidate Simon Campbell (pictured) sent a memo to his supporters on February 10th of this year encouraging a teachers’ strike in an attempt to ensure “the shortest political career in Harrisburg” for PA District 31 rep Steve Santarsiero?

    And how do you think he and Kathleen Zawacki propose to accomplish this?

    Well, by “slashing” the school budget (quoting Zawacki from a League of Women Voters debate on September 30th), with the net effect of that being an increase in class size.

    All of which would inevitably lead to a strike, thus realizing the goal envisioned by Campbell and Zawacki.

    The main reason why this is repugnant is because it puts our kids in the role of pawns in some sick political game being played by Campbell and Zawacki. Given the fact that they would even consider tactics like this, it is plain that these two don’t have the interests of our kids at heart.

    Besides (again quoting from the 9/30 debate), issues such as “compulsory unionism,” “fair share labor agreements,” union dues, and the teachers and state pension systems are matters for PA state government in Harrisburg, not the Pennsbury school board.

    Campbell and Zawacki would be more interested in the maneuvers of Harrisburg than they would be about the welfare of our kids in the Pennsbury school district.

    That is why it’s so important to vote on Tuesday for Colleen Klock and Jon Shain for the Pennsbury School Board, along with Ron Smith for District Judge, Fran McDonald for Lower Makefield Township Supervisor, and Chris Asplen for District Attorney.

    If Campbell cares so much about what’s going on in Harrisburg, then maybe he should live there instead of here.