Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ricky Don't Lose That Number

We see this GOP straw poll
It ain't OK
They thought your little debate time was not fun
I guess you kind of scared the 'baggers
They've turned and run
Seems they had a change of heart

Rikki you lost that number
You wanna call them heartless now
Say goodbye in a letter and take a bow
Rikki you lost that number
It won't be the only one and how
You might salvage some of career
when you get home
(with all due respect to Steely Dan)

When Rick Perry, the uber-governor from Texas (and latest savior of the Teabag set) entered the presidential race in mid-August, he made a very big splash. The media - which has made a very big deal about the dearth of stardom (hence their own ratings) from the Republican Presidential field - immediately began to genuflect at the temple of Perrydom. After all, Perry is the 3 time governor of the 2nd largest state in the union (albeit the weakness governor in the nation), has the movie star looks that will make the ladies (and men) in Redstateland pant with wanton desire and (to top it off) a demoralized America is pining for another Texas governor to sit in the White House (since the last one worked out so well). With the blessing (and non-stop attention) of the media, Perry immediately rose to the top of the heap (a heap of shit, but a heap nonetheless) in the the Republican field.

Despite the fawning of the media (after all they have their swashbuckling movie star sort of like the new Errol Flynn) it has been all downhill for the closet-case from Paint Creek, Texas.

Perry may have the movie star looks that lights up the screen (and Nielsen meters) of Fox News viewers, but behind the wrinkles and the expensive haircut is a lunatic without any semblance of a brain. Rick Perry is George Bush with a lower IQ. Rick Perry is Sarah Palin in a skirt. Yes, Perry has won the governorship of Texas three times. But in the past two decades, the state of Texas has basically become something akin to Texas SSR (what other kind of political entity would elect morons people like John Cornyn, Ron Paul, Louis Gohmert and Pete Sessions). In the world of Texas GOP fascism - no one dares challenge the Attila the Hun of the Lone Star state.

But on the national stage - Perry actually had to demonstrate more than machine politics. Texan handlers can easily hide a lot of the arrogance and idiocy stuck in that brain with their sway over statewide electoral boards and local media. But out in the other 49 - some of which are not nearly as Soviet as Texas - Rick Perry the movie star has not been Katharine Hepburn like in his performance, but more along the lines of Vera Hruba Ralston. The media which was so enchanted by the superficiality of Rick Perry at the outset - is beginning to find that airing his dirty laundry and shortcomings may actually help their ratings.

When Perry's performance in GOP Debate #3 proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a complete (and arrogant) buffoon who really is not ready for Primetime (or any time) - Governor Coiffed Case, the man who would be king of 234 executions, was not only criticized by his once-fawning main stream media, but also greeted with derision and jeers from the pundits (Bill Kristol and Ann Coulter of all people!) in his very own party.

With that in mind, Rick Perry staked a lot on the Florida straw poll that was held today, 2 days after his Carrot Top routine in Orlando. I am sure with these results, the Perry camp is NOT ordering a lot of pizza for celebration.
  • Herman Cain: 37.11%
  • Rick Perry: 15.43%
  • Mitt Romney: 14.00%
  • Rick Santorum: 10.88%
  • Ron Paul: 10.39%
  • Newt Gingrich: 8.43%
  • Jon Huntsman: 2.26%
  • Michele Bachmann: 1.51%
Ricky you could not have liked that number of 15.43%.  Send it off in a letter to your staff.

I guess his 2nd place showing is not as bad as Bachmann's dead last ranking (Bachmann won the other meaningless beauty contest last month in Iowa). But Our Man Perry lost to the pizza guy. The King of Texas could not beat the the King of Mozzarella. And on top of the pepperoni, he lost bad - very bad

Though it will be denied, pushed to the side and glanced over - Rick Perry is toast.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

R.E.M. calls it quits

Which begs the question, "Wait, they were still together?" Yes, apparently so. But no more.

I liked them -- sort of, now and then, here and there, but not really all that much -- way back when. I probably haven't paid them any attention since 1994's Monster, when I was in college, and isn't that it, they were a big band for those of us who were in college in the late '80s and early '90s?

Yes, they were very much a part of that time, an authentic, college-oriented, politically-active band that seemed like, and very much was, a welcome relief from the pop horrors of the '80s, a pre-grunge alt-rock band that helped usher in a better time for American music.

And some of their stuff was, and remains, really good, including Murmur, their 1983 debut, as well as 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant, with "Superman." And who can forget 1987's Document, with two very different anthems of the age, "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" and "The One I Love"? They got more annoying, or at least their music did, as they got more popular, around the time I started paying closer attention, with songs like "Stand" and "Orange Crush" off 1988's Green, and then "Losing My Religion" and "Shiny Happy People" off 1991's Out of Time," but maybe I'm just being retrospectively negative. They were still a decent band, even then.

I actually liked 1992's Automatic for the People more than its rather more popular predecessors, with its darkness of theme and mood, particularly "Drive," "Everybody Hurts," and "Man on the Moon." And that was that. Monster wasn't bad, with "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" leading the way, but I'd had enough. It was time to move on.

Anyway, R.E.M. evokes a certain nostalgia in people my age, people who came of age when they were at their peak, and I suppose they were, for a time, one of the leading musical voices of my generation.

So let's head back through the mists of time...

Here are "End of the World" and "Man on the Moon" (about Andy Kaufman, of course). (And go here for "Drive," perhaps my favourite R.E.M. song.) Enjoy.


Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bon les feuilles mortes

Or, happy autumn leaves!

Yes, summer is officially over, and we move into autumn, with today's autumnal equinox.

The first day of fall.

It seemed like we had a terribly short summer, and a rain-soaked one as well, so here's hoping we have a nice, mild (and perhaps occasionally crisp) fall season.

And who better to take us into this but the great Miles Davis...

And we have a vocal from the man who introduced the song:

And one of my personal favorites, from the late, great Eva Cassidy:


Bonus Riffs


(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)


Bookmark and Share

Read Chait

I used to read Jonathan Chait at The New Republic, now I read him at New York. He's one of the best.

Check him out at New York's Daily Intel blog, or here at his personal page.


Here are a couple of recommended posts:

If you're a Republican opinion leader, you want to promote Romney over Perry. At the same time, you have to account for the possibility that Perry might win the nomination anyway, which means that you can't say anything that could be used against him in the general election. You need to gently suggest to Republicans that Perry is too crazy to be elected president, without suggesting to swing voters that he's too crazy to be elected president.

And this is precisely what establishment Republicans are doing, including the nefarious Karl Rove. But will they succeed, with the party's grassroots base aligned against them?

In general, Romney took his weak hand and played it far better than Perry, who at times appeared to be drugged, and perhaps is still suffering from a recovery from back surgery. But though Romney won most exchanges on a question-by-question basis, Perry probably emerged with the stronger meta-theme. His overarching condemnation of Romney is as a slippery, quasi-Democratic figure. Romney has nothing anywhere near so strong to deploy against Perry. He has tried, elliptically, to paint his foe as unelectable. But the deeper Romney expresses contempt for Obama — tonight he accused him of never having held a job — the harder it must be for Republican voters to imagine that any nominee would actually lose to this unemployed, socialist, America-hating failure.

An excellent analysis of last night's "debate." Romney is by far the stronger candidate, at least in general election terms, and has much more substance to him than Perry, but Perry has a stronger case to make to the base, a much more compelling narrative to spin. (This is precisely the difficulty the establishment faces.)

Labels: , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Bill Clinton states the obvious

But, given the influence of the Tea Party and the persistence of utterly inane right-wing narratives, the obvious sometimes needs to be stated:

You know, there's not a single solitary example on the planet, not one, of a country that is successful because the economy has triumphed over the government and choked it off and driven the tax rates to zero, driven the regulations to nonexistent and abolished all government programs, except for defense, so people in my income group never have to pay a nickel to see a cow jump over the moon. There is no example of a successful country that looks like that.


(Not that the obvious will change things, mind you. Conservatives these days care as much about history as they do about science.)


Bookmark and Share

Faster than the speed of light?

Um... wow.

I don't pretend to know much about physics, let alone about neutrinos, but it's possible, if these findings are correct, that the Einsteinian universe will have to be thoroughly rethought:

The physics world is abuzz with news that a group of European physicists plans to announce Friday that it has clocked a burst of subatomic particles known as neutrinos breaking the cosmic speed limit — the speed of light — that was set by Albert Einstein in 1905.

If true, it is a result that would change the world. But that "if" is enormous. 

It's times like this when I wish I understood this better, and perhaps had taken a more scientific (and not political scientific) academic / career path.


Bookmark and Share

So long, Thaddeus McCotter

Who? Exactly.

(And what exactly was the point of his campaign?)


In all seriousness, I suppose we ought to keep track of the reverse embiggening of the field of Republican presidential wannabes.

It's a perfectly cromulent thing to do.


For what it's worth, McCotter, who's conservative but not nearly as crazy as most of his peers on Capitol Hill, has endorsed Romney.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Rick Perry isn't just a secessionist, he's a revisionist as well

The other night, Rick Perry told Sean Hannity -- who treated Perry the way he treats Sarah Palin, which is to say, the way Sasha Grey, in her former professional capacity, used to treat an erect penis -- that he is not, in fact, a secessionist:

HANNITY: Some people said, well, you used the term once "secession." That's not anything -- is that something you believe?

PERRY: No, and I never used that term, at all.

HANNITY: Then why was it reported so heavily?

PERRY: I have no idea to be real honest with you, because it was never a really factual piece of reporting. It was shouted out by an individual at an event -- at a Tea Party, actually -- and I said "listen, America is a great country. We have no reason why we would ever dissolve this union."

Oh, okay then. End of story, right? Well, not so fast.

As ThinkProgress notes, he didn't technically use the word "secession" the one time in question, in March 2009. (Who knows, he may have used it at other times.) But he did say this:

You know, when we came into the nation in 1845, we were a republic, we were a stand-alone nation. And one of the deals was, we can leave anytime we want. So we're kind of thinking about that again.

Now, it's not clear just how serious he was being -- TP has the clip and, at the end, you can hear laughter. But at a Tea Party event a month later, he said this:

Texas is a unique place. When we came into the Union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that.

We got a great Union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it, but if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what may come out of that. concludes that Parry never advocated secession: "Perry has carelessly commented that Texas has a unique right to secede from the union, having once been an independent republic. That's a myth, historians say. But Perry never advocated secession."

But that's not really the point. No one is accusing Perry of being an ardent advocate for secession -- obviously, he considers himself an American patriot. But he's clearly wrong about Texas's supposed right to secede, a case he has made on more than one occasion, and, as Steve Benen points out, "it's entirely fair to say Perry dabbled in secessionist rhetoric, which in itself should be considered scandalous in the 21st century."

Yes, but certainly not to the anti-government radicals so prevalent in the GOP, and clearly, before he became a national sensation, Perry was more than willing to engage in such dabbling. Now that he's running for president, he's just trying to whitewash himself, cleansing his past of embarrassing facts, but the record is the record. He can dabble in revisionism all he wants, but there's no escaping it.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

"Ground Zero mosque" opens, America still standing

In case you missed it, Park51, the so-called "Ground Zero mosque" (though it was neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque), opened its doors on Wednesday "without controversy," the Daily News reports.

I can only assume that the various anti-Muslim bigots who made such noise last year, including not a few high-ranking Republicans, as if the presence of this community center so close to Ground Zero (but more generally, its very existence) would herald a new age of anti-American jihadism launched from within, had more pressing targets to vilify.

(Is that right, Newt?)

Meanwhile, most New Yorkers, including Mayor Bloomberg, who eloquently advocated for Park51 (and for religious freedom generally), took it all in stride.

And how could they not?

Upon opening, the center featured a photography exhibit of "city children representative of 160 ethnicities from around the world... compiled by a 44-year-old Jewish shutterbug from Brooklyn, Danny Goldfield."

Not exactly threatening.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A muffin does not cost $16

So you remember those $16 muffins, the ones served at a DOJ conference a couple of years ago, the ones conservatives are using as yet more evidence of government bloat, of government spending run wild?

A complete and utter myth. There were no $16 muffins.

Thanks to Kevin Drum for pointing this out -- though, of course, the myth has already become part of the right's anti-government narrative.

Wherein, of course, the truth has no place whatsoever.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for Wall Street

Two months ago, the Washington Post revealed that Mitt Romney's presidential bid is largely fueled by Wall Street money, including major donors from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America.

[Yesterday], the former Massachusetts governor took a step that will undoubtedly make bankers happy, appointing the chairman of a Wall Street front group to his campaign. Romney tapped Norm Coleman, the former Minnesota senator and current chairman of the Board of the American Action Network, to be his "special adviser for policy."

As ThinkProgress has written in the past, the American Action Network (AAN) is a front group funded by conservative Wall Street moneymen, including Robert Steel, Ken Langone, and Fred Malek. Because of its seemingly limitless money supply, the AAN was the second biggest outside spending groups in the 2010 election, dropping $26 million in support of conservative candidates.

Romney is the candidate of the plutocratic Republican establishment. Rick Perry isn't any better, of course, what with his crony capitalism, and pretty much every Republican, even the self-appointed populist Michele Bachmann, would happily relocate to Wall Street's back pocket.

This just drives the point home. If you want Wall Street running the country, Romney's your man.

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Politics and treason: Republicans urge Bernanke to let economy tank, American people suffer

As you may have heard, Congressional Republicans have sent a letter to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke arguing that "further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy," that is, urging him to do nothing about the economy at this perilous time. As Matthew Yglesias puts it, they are basically urging him to keep unemployment high.

Here's how David Frum, a conservative (if also a renegade Republican) explains the letter:

I'm not shocked by much any more, but I am shocked by this: the leaders of one of the great parties in Congress calling on the Federal Reserve to tighten money in the throes of the most prolonged downturn since the Great Depression...

As is, we're looking at a continued economic slump, more unemployment, and more deleveraging via continuing catastrophic consumer default on mortgages, car loans, credit cards, and student aid. And now the GOP leadership is urging that the Federal Reserve make the catastrophe worse? To what end?

We know that Republicans these days usually put ideology (their extremist right-wing ideology) ahead of what's best for the American people. (Just think back to their hostage-taking of the country during the debt ceiling crisis.)

But this isn't so much about ideology, it seems, as it is about brute partisanship, about doing whatever it takes to get Republicans elected. If the economy continues its apparent downward trajectory, or at the very least if confidence remains low and uncertainty remains high, voters, they hope, will blame Obama and vote Republican next year.

Indeed, as Andrew Sullivan observes, looking at some deeply troubling poll numbers for the president (with independents in overwhelming numbers saying they'll vote against Obama), "the GOP's total intransigence seems to be paying off politically." What they're hoping is that even more intransigence, and getting the Fed to play along (as if the country's central bank should be a partisan extension of the Republican Party), will pay off even more at the polls. 

As Steve Benen writes:

Frum doesn't come right out and say it explicitly, but reading this, it appears Frum believes Republican leaders are — or at least may be — trying to hurt the economy on purpose, as part of a political strategy to undermine President Obama during a crisis.

In other words, Frum seems to be suggesting that the top GOP officials in Congress, including the entire party leadership, may be involved in some kind of sabotage campaign. That's no small charge.

No, but it appears to be an accurate one:

A few months ago, Kevin Drum wondered whether this will ever be "a serious talking point," adding, "No serious person in a position of real influence really wants to accuse an entire party of cynically trying to tank the economy, after all."

Given recent events — the debt-ceiling scandal, the GOP-driven downgrade, the Republican rejection of any efforts to boost the economy, the letter to Bernanke, the repeated threats of government shutdowns — it appears all kinds of serious people are at least entertaining the possibility.

We should do more than just entertain it. The evidence points to a concerted effort on the part of Republicans -- and not just any Republicans, the top Republicans on Capitol Hill, and perhaps also most of the Republicans seeking their party's presidential nomination -- to benefit politically from a weakened and (if they have their way) weakening economy, cruelly and callously to score political points at the expense not just of President Obama but of the American people, millions upon millions of whom are struggling to make it through this difficult time, if they are even in a position to struggle at all.

Personally, I call that treason. Do you have a better word for it?

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Dismantling Of A Nation

By Carl
I want to discuss something that's been nagging at me, that this story only begins to highlight:

The GOP-controlled House remains on track to pass $3.7 billion in disaster relief as part of a bill to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month, the No. 2 House Republican said Wednesday. But first the party must overcome opposition from Democrats and some tea party Republicans.

Democratic leaders, including some who said last week they would back the stopgap measure, came out solidly against it Wednesday morning because it contains $1.5 billion in cuts from a government loan program to help car companies build more fuel-efficient vehicles.

That money would pay for the most urgently needed portion of the disaster aid that's required to avoid a cutoff next week of Federal Emergency Management Agency relief to victims of Hurricane Irene, recent Texas wildfires and Tropical Storm Lee.

Now, no one denies the need for America to wean itself off oil. Even oilman George W. Bush confessed in a State of the Union address that America is addicted to oil.

We don't cotton to addictions in this nation, no sir. So you'd think fuel efficiency would be something everyone would get behind. It helps our national security, it helps our environment, it helps our citizens keep more money in their pockets to spend on housing, food, and clothing. And other stuff.

I mean, slam dunk, right? (The Teabaggers oppose it because it raises spending above limits the GOP agreed to last spring.)

So why would the GOP leadership stand in opposition to the wishes of nearly everyone in America? Why would they send a letter to the Fed all but demanding the Fed abrogate its statutory responsibility to the country, and commit treason? Why would Congress deliberately sabotage the authority of the legislative branch of government?

I mean, sure, we can all list the obvious reasons: economic royalists, corporate stooges, etc, etc.

But here's the thing: history, indeed American history alone, dictates that pendulums swing, parties switch positions, and power is both temporary and fleeting. And karma is a real bitch.

Then I started to think about recent history. I started to think about the evolution of the Presidency, from a chief executive officer to what some called during the Bush years an imperium.

Note this does not abrogate the responsibilities of the Democrats like Clinton and even Obama in this evolution. Clinton was foursquare for dismantling the Fourth Amendment for drug busts, and Obama still hasn't moved that far away from the odious provisions of the PATRIOT Act, both of which invest enormous and dangerous powers to the Executive Branch.

The behavior of Congress started to take shape, and it's not pretty.

Congressional approval ratings stand at around 20%. Congressional Republicans fare a little worse, Democrats a little better.

But did you notice something? Let me highlight this next question.

Which party claims to be anti-government?

Cui bono? Who benefits more from making government seem out of touch, ineffectual and driven by an agenda that has little to do with the average American?

The question has to be asked, then: why? What's in it for Republicans to simultaneously dismantle one of the three branches of government, the one most directly responsible to the population of the nation?

Take a look at the legislative agenda of the first Bush term. The clues are there: imperium.

Bush proposed. Congress disposed. Like clockwork. The legislative branch became nothing more than a rubber stamp for legislation proposed by the executor, and written by the crony capitalists from the lobbying industry.

Karl Rove spoke of creating a permanent Republican majority in this nation. Fortunately, they've fumbled that in the populace, but watch out. They're trying to do it by fiat in Congress and the Presidency.

And the judiciary. We cannot forget that third body politic, that entity that has so odiously sold off the rights of Americans for a bowl of porridge. From the 1886 decision acknowledging limited corporate personhood (Santa Clara) to the recent Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that humanity is just a drone, that there is nothing special about having a physical body that distinguishes us from a faceless, nameless, soulless corporation.

Except that corporations have no responsibility for their actions, and no criminal recourse is permitted. As the latest internet meme goes, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."

You can start with Enron.

If you want to understand the path to power of corporate America, the rape of our natural and human resources, you have only to take this to its extreme. Adam Smith must be rolling in his grave, because he mistrusted corporations and believed the government had a duty to regulate them closely. And yet, as even Grover Cleveland observed, "Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people, are fast becoming the people's masters."

He was not the first. From day one, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were raising alerts.

This goes beyond partisan politics, and careers close to a conspiracy of satanic forces. This nation was founded on a shared belief, that you and I matter. That Teabaggers matter. That the people down the block and the people across town and the people in red states and the people in blue states, matter.
And if the Republicans are doing what I suspect they may be doing, and if they succeed, then we are heading for a  Dark Ages in this nation that will make the post-Roman world look like an enlightened, spohisticated era. No longer will you or I have a voice. No longer will you or I have choices. No longer will dissent of any kind be tolerated. No longer will we live in freedom.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

Bookmark and Share

Georgia kills Troy Davis

An innocent man executed. With racism, classism, and blatant incompetence, much of it willful, deeply ingrained in a horrendously corrupt system, with those running the system, and benefitting from it, refusing to acknowledge its and their failings, if they can acknowledge anything at all through the fog of profiteering and delusional self-righteousness, truth and justice were not just denied but utterly repudiated.

Yet another reason why the death penalty must be abolished for good.

(Yes, over and against the bloodthirsty cheers of Rick Perry supporters.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another day, another looming Republican-triggered government shutdown

The House stunned Republican leaders Wednesday by rejecting a temporary spending bill that would have funded the government through Nov. 18.

The vote failed, 195-230, after Democrats pulled their support for the bill and Republican leaders were forced to scramble for enough votes entirely within their own ranks. Four dozen conservatives voted against the bill because it left spending levels for 2012 higher than the cap set in the House GOP budget.

The defeat hands leverage to congressional Democrats in a dispute over federal disaster funding. Democratic leaders objected to a GOP provision cutting funding from a Department of Energy manufacturing loan program to offset additional money for disaster relief.

The House and Senate must pass a spending bill by Sept. 30 to keep the government running into the next fiscal year. Both chambers are scheduled to be out on recess next week.

The defeat was a stinging loss for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who pitched the measure to his conference as the lowest spending number they could get.

House GOP leaders retreated to the Speaker's office after the vote to plot their next move.

Who's to blame for this? Well, Democrats combined with renegade right-wing Republicans to defeat the bill, and perhaps Democrats did embarrass Boehner and gain a modicum of leverage (even though the GOP will never let them use it; Republicans are better then Democrats at the game of political chicken, as we saw during the whole debt ceiling debacle), but basically it's the Republicans who, once more, are pushing the country to the brink of a federal government shutdown, just as they almost pushed it into default, by insisting on unacceptable offsets for disaster relief funding:

Republican opposition was based on House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-VA) attachment of $1 billion in disaster relief funds in the wake of Hurricane Irene and other natural disasters, which Republicans, including Cantor, had demanded be offset by spending cuts in other areas. Last week, Cantor promised that no one in the House Republican caucus would hold disaster relief hostage over spending cuts — an assertion that today's vote has apparently proven false. Democrats opposed the offsets Republicans did find, which targeted funding for energy efficienct vehicles. A bipartisan Senate majority approved $7 billion in disaster relief funds last week.

Of course, we knew Cantor was going to do this. He's been playing politics with disaster relief for some time now. And this is basically the GOP's budget strategy: make extremist demands and get what it wants, refusing to compromise even with a president who has been more than willing to give in to its demands, or shut down the government.

I suppose this was, as Kos's Joan McCarter writes, "a major blow for House Republican leadership in their shutdown brinksmanship game," but the risk is that Republicans won't learn the obvious lesson and try to work out a reasonable deal with the Democrats.

"With Democrats willing to hold together against the offset, John Boehner will have no choice if he really wants to get this bill passed and avoid a shutdown," Joan adds. Sure, but do they really want to avoid a shutdown? Boehner maybe, and those willing to back him on this one, but many Republicans, particularly in the House, have proven again and again that they put their extremist right-wing ideology first, regardless of the consequences. And given how much they hate government, and particularly the federal one, they may just do that again. And Boehner may not be able to do a thing about it.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share

2012 House elections by the numbers

According to the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, by law there are 435 members of the House all up for reelection every two years. Currently, 242 are Republicans, 192 are Democrats and there is one vacancy.

A bare majority would be, if I still know how to divide by two, 218. This would mean that the Democrats will need a net gain of 26 seats in the 2012 elections to regain a majority.

The Cook Political Report, a well regarded independent, non-partisan newsletter that analyzes elections, calls 23 House seats currently held by Democrats as either leaning Democratic or a toss-up. They also say that 30 seats currently held by Republicans either lean Republican or are a toss-up.

Bottom line is that if the Democrats held on to all the seats they already have, which is not going to happen, they would need to win nearly every seat currently held by Republicans that Cook lists as either a Republican toss-up or leaning Republican. Seems to be a ridiculously tall order.

The wild card in all of this is that Cook also lists 41 additional seats as likely Republican and 20 as likely Democratic, with "likely" defined as "seats not considered competitive at this point but that have the potential to become engaged." This is a hedge that indicates that in politics as in life shit happens.

Another observation worth noting is that, if Cook is even close to being right, only 114 out of 435 seats in the House are deemed to be competitive or potentially so, which means that 321 members are in safe seats. Wow. Good gig.

Keep in mind that redistricting will screw up the neat math, but the general contour is clear.

Over the next year we will have a look at some of the House seats likely to be competitive with the thought that it is early days and anything can happen.

By the way, as of January 2010, the annual salary of each Representative is $174,000. The Speaker of the House earns $223,500 and Majority and Minority Leaders earn $193,400 each. As I say, if you are looking for a change in careers, this particular public service opportunity doesn't look half bad.

(Cross-posted at Lippmann's Ghost.)

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share

What Is The Point Of Guaranteeing A Lawyer...

By Carl
We've been saved the shame of at least one more execution. For now.
What's disturbing about this case can be summed up as follows: the guy had shitty legal representation, at least at his appeal but possibly at his criminal trial as well.
State-provided legal representation, I should add. I'm sure there are safeguards for ensuring that the assignment is basically random (subject to whatever personal conflicts might arise,) so I'm sure that this lawyer was probably not chosen specifically so the DA could bump his conviction and execution rates up.
It's one thing if I go out and hire a bad lawyer. Caveat emptor demands that I check out his or her references, background and record.
It's another thing to have the lawyer forced upon you by the same entity that's trying to kill you.
The evidence presented at trial is insufficient, in my opinion, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Foster was involved in the killing. Largely, it rests on inconsistencies in his story. There is no physical evidence of his involvement beyond "Well, he *had* to have been involved for the crime to have taken place!"
The argument that a 140 lb man couldn't move a 130 lb woman is idiotic at best and morally corrupt at worst. We're talking about an event that involved enormous stress on a system, one that's tailor-made for an adrenaline rush, which throws into question any claim that someone is physically incapable of doing something that someone else is capable of.
People have moved pianos in less stressful situations, is my point. 
Indeed, his "accomplice" admits to having committed the murder alone. His accomplice is dead of natural causes now. One could speculate that he confessed knowing he was dying anyway, but that's inadmissible evidence. 
The last bit of "evidence" to form conviction is that Foster was involved in another murder with this same partner just two months prior. Granted, it's circumstantially relevant to his ability to kill someone but it, either alone or in conjunction with the rest of the evidence at trial, should not be enough to convict for this murder.
Indeed, the evidence as summarized at this trial calls that conviction into question (for example, that was a rape-murder, this by all accounts was consensual sex,) but I think we can all grasp there's a distinct element of "he musta kilt someone" going on here.
 Beyond the evidence, though, it seems that if we want a Constitutional right to an attorney to have any effective meaning, it must mean competent representation, if only to avoid the appearance that the state is a murder mill.
OK, it's Texas, so it's hard to avoid that anyway, but you get my drift. As I noted earlier, by setting the bar on the ground, the state effectively can hire the dregs of the legal community and claim that it is providing what the law requires. This absolutely guarantees the conviction and in many cases the execution of innocent people. People without the means of obtaining competent legal representation themselves.
Think about it: it means that this Constitutional right, unlike nearly any other, relies on the income and wealth of the citizen.
Which is diametrically opposed to the foundation of this nation as one of equality and justice. For that alone, Foster's execution ought to be stayed.
As repulsive a thought as even I find that to be.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I'm dancing as fast as I can

Hate and racism are nothing new in America -- we just used to dance around it a lot more. We had a whole secessionist thing-y back in 1861 predicated on that hate and racism. We have always had our fair share of hate-mongering racists legitimized under the umbrella of "political" or "social" organization. In the 1850s, they were the Nativists, who evolved into the Know-Nothings. One hundred years later, in 1958, they became the John Birch Society, which in reality is no different than the Moral Majority of the 1980s.

Today they are the Tea Party, the Bilking 'Baggers educated in the Shire of Reaganism. In reality, all of these groups spout the same shit -- just in different eras. And one other thing they all share in common, they are pretty much funded by the moral equivalents of Attila the Hun, sociopaths with a soul as warm as a cold day in hell, and generalissimos who will ultimately treat the minions that have done their evil bidding like their own personal Sonderkommando in Treblinka.

What is different is that the 'Baggers now have their own reality to show, or rather channel, to spew out a continuous stream of bile and venom under the guise of "news," wrapped in a pretty delivery by such bimbo zombies are Sarah Palin and Gretchen Carlson. Despite the fact that Dancing with the Fox averages somewhere around five million viewers, they have somehow managed to convince everyone, including their rival reality channels, that around five billion people watch and worship at the Temple of Hannity every night.

He who is the squeaky wheel. Squeaky Fromme wheel, that is.

The evolution of cable television like Fox News has made a mockery of leadership and convinced this country that they too will be the next winner on They Shoot Non-Teabaggers, Don't They?. Imagine an entire staff and media organization dedicated to destroying anyone who does not believe exactly as they believe. The stupidity shown by America every night, believing lunatics like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry truly have their best interest at heart, is nothing short of mind-blowing.

But when you see a crowd sing a fight song to Rick Perry's executions and give a rousing ovation to Ron Paul as he ponders whether to let someone without insurance die. you have to wonder if the theories espoused by Alfred Rosenberg (who most assuredly was not Jewish) really were put to rest in 1945.

One thing about Birchers and Moralists and 'Baggers, they make it very clear they don't like to dance with people who are not like them. They believe that anyone who is not one of them is either a leech on society or will be a leech on society. Back in the 1850s, they were beggars and hobos. Today, they are unemployed welfare queens driving SUVs.

Meanwhile, as they dole out crumbs in the name of charity and goodwill toward their fellow citizens, the ruling 'Baggers reserve for themselves special privileges and breaks (how dare Obama propose to extend tax cuts for the middle class!) they will not grant others. Witness complete and total douchebag Republican John Phlegming of Louisiana (what's green, slimy, and votes in Congress?) proudly asserting that he earns $6.3 million dollars a year, BUT "by the time I feed my family I have maybe $400,000 left over to invest..."

In 1932, the German people voted in the NSDAP to rescue them from their economic calamity. That worked out real well for them. Here is what will happen 80 years later on a continent far, far away if we let the lunatics run the asylum.

Rick Perry will be elected president. And he gets a 'Bagger supermajority in the House and Senate.
Please rank in order what you think will be shut down / eliminated / accomplished by the Perry-Boner-Chins McConnell axis (here is my ranked list):
  1. Roe v. Wade overturned
  2. EPA closed
  3. Education Dept. closed
  4. Social Security privatized
  5. FEMA shut down
  6. Medicare/Medicaid eliminated
  7. Fed disbanded
  8. Minimum wage ended
  9. Drilling in national parks
  10. Planned Parenthood closed
  11. FDA shut down
  12. SEC weakened
  13. DADT re-instated
  14. Prayer in schools required
Please add any others that I missed.

I really want to see the face of people in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Mississippi, and Alaska when they realize that the checks have stopped coming and medical care is available solely for those who can pay $5,000 for a flu shot. When the common folk finally realize it is the very cable TV entertainers they voted in who are creating the classed society they thought the "liberals" were forcing on them, it will be too late. Rick Perry and company will have the xanax, the butter, AND the guns.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share

Republicans aren't reading their Bibles

Whether you're Christian or Jewish, God makes a pretty clear case against selfish ambition and hypocrisy in both testaments of the Bible.

Source: WMX Design
Remember Cain, the first man born on Earth? Cain was cursed by the Lord for killing his brother, but Cain's first sin (one always leads to another) was selfish ambition. While his brother, Abel, sacrificed the first-born of his flock, Cain offered only defiled fruit (the assumption being that he kept the good shit – probably the chocolate-covered strawberries – for himself.)

In the Gospel of John, when the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who'd been accused of adultery, they cited the law of Moses, which commanded that such a woman be stoned. Jesus said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

The morals of these stories are self-explanatory, but for those who aren't keeping up on their studies (I won't name names, yet), they are straightforward warnings against selfish ambition and hypocrisy.

Republicans would be wise to take note.

In last year's campaigns, Republicans ripped into Democrats for failing to perform one of Congress's most basic duties: providing money in a timely way for the operations of government. But Republicans acknowledged Thursday that they would miss the deadline they had promised to meet. They began to rush a stopgap spending bill through the House because, they said, Congress could not finish work on any of the 12 regular appropriations bills before the new fiscal year starts in two weeks, on Oct. 1... [T]he stopgap bill includes $3.65 billion in assistance for people affected by Hurricane Irene, wildfires, floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters. Of this amount, $1 billion would be offset by cutting a loan guarantee program for production of more fuel-efficient cars.

The obvious critique of GOP hypocrisy is that the same Republicans who "ripped Democrats" throughout the 2010 midterm campaign for not passing an appropriations bill on time suddenly are finding that they, too, are having a difficult time with such "basic" duties.

The greater hypocrisy, however, is that the same party that has been attacking President Obama and congressional Democrats for failing to stimulate job creation is now vying for cuts to an auto industry that just recently returned to the black"

Democrats and an auto industry expert warn the funds [Republicans] picked to pay for disaster aid is currently supporting a successful program that has pulled manufacturing jobs back from other countries and helped keep the industry alive around the eastern Midwest. Taking the money away would jeopardize that program.

Though I'm no theologian, I don't think there's anything in the Bible saying idiots don't get into heaven. That said, I bet if the Pope picked up the big red phone on his nightstand and gave the Man Upstairs a ring, He'd relay a reminder to the masses that while ignorance is not sinful, willful idiocy is definitely frowned upon.

Rep. Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia,
House Majority Leader, Big Oil Toady
Fuel-efficient cars are the future. Even your average NASCAR T-shirt-wearin', Budweiser drinkin', gun totin' Texan wouldn't mind paying a little less for gasoline – especially if it meant eliminating America's dependency on foreign oil.

The problem, of course, is corporate profits. Fuel-efficient cars burn less gasoline, gasoline is made from oil, and oil is a gold mine – a gold mine that donates heavily to the Republican Party.

So far in the 2011-12 election cycle, the oil and gas lobby already has contributed $4.5 million to the GOP (compared to $670,000 to the Democratic Party).

Just as the oil and gas lobby has a role in the fuel-efficiency debate, so too does the insurance industry play a role in the disaster relief debate.

When the majority leader of the United States House of Representatives – of the "people's house" of Congress – told us, "the people," the masses and the voting public, that the federal government will provide disaster relief only after Congress agrees on another round of spending cuts, some thought it was career suicide.

In a statement to the press after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia on August 24, Virginia congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor admitted that "the federal government does have a role in situations like this," but just how immediate or significant that response should be was up to him and the rest of the Republicans in Congress.

"[T]hose monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere," he said. 

When I first read this, it seemed like just one more example of anti-government right-wingers trying to tarnish the image of the U.S. government in the eyes of the American people by setting up another politically divisive, partisan and months-long congressional battle over budget issues that not only will postpone financial assistance to communities, but which also will perpetuate the idea that the federal government is incompetent, unhelpful and, in turn, unnecessary.

Since then, I've been reminded of what the Roman poet Phaedrus said: "Things are not always what they seem."

It was a less-publicized statement by Cantor that provided context to his seemingly callous, heartless, and politically motivated words:

"Obviously," he said, "the problem is that people in Virginia don't have earthquake insurance."

Earthquake insurance!

A quick perusal of shows that Cantor's biggest contributor in the 2011-12 election cycle is... AN INSURANCE COMPANY!

The guy who's fighting to cut investments in fuel-efficient cars is not only the sixth biggest recipient of oil and gas contributions this election cycle, he's also the third largest recipient of insurance contributions.

I won't make any accusations – that's sinful – but I will make the observation that the leader of the majority party in "the people's house" of Congress is acting exactly like a pitchman for the insurance industry and a profiteer for oil companies.

It appears this disaster relief / fuel-efficiency budget cut issue isn't just about conservatives and their fiscal hawkishness. It's about money.

When you get to the Pearly Gates, ye Republicans, and St. Peter asks about how you fought so ardently to cut American investments in resource- and money-saving technologies, how you hypocritically dismissed the experts who warned that such actions would result in the very elimination of both jobs and MADE in AMERICA goods that you campaigned on in 2010, how you chose politics over the rebuilding of your own communities, and how you did all of this because your selfish ambition for campaign donations from corporate lobbyists blinded you from the suffering of those whose homes and businesses were ravaged by disasters, what will be your defense?

(Being as you're not keeping up on your Bible studies, I'll warn you not to lie. That's sinful, too.)

(Cross-posted at Muddy Politics.)

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Bookmark and Share