Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Thing to Say About 2000-2009

Goodbye and good riddance.

On a personal note, my loss of employment, and growing atrophy of whatever social skills I have left.

On a broader scale, the entire Bush the Lesser era should be viewed by historians as one of the greatest debacles - two quagmire wars, prolific spending and massive deficits, cultural warfare, an entire political/media culture without accountability - in American history. Forget any nostalgic feeling for the 1970s, of which there are actually few (Star Wars, the advent of punk). The 2000s were horrifying.

See ya all in 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blood In The Streets

There's blood in the streets it's up to my ankles/
Blood in the streets it's up to my knee/
Blood in the streets in the town of Chicago Ashura/
Blood on the rise, it's following me...
-- The Doors "Peace Frog"

The rioting in Iran is getting worse. People are dying in the streets again, rumors and unconfirmed stories flying everywhere. The regime might have killed Mousavi's nephew. Mousavi himself may be in a hospital.

Additional reports that there are some police refusing to fire on protesters. The scary thing is still the same as from June: whether or not the regular Iranian army gets involved. The Revolutionary Guard is clearly with Khamenei, but the army is still on the fence...

If you've got friends and family over there, I pray they stay safe. I've said in earlier posts that this kind of violence was still possible, and truly it can get worse. If only, if only... If only Khamenei realizes he's not going to win no matter how many bodies pile up at his feet...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Observations Before The Holidays Consume My Time Pt.7

  • Hadn't posted recently about events in Iran, where things have taken a turn. An ayatollah, a major player from the 1970s revolution named Montazeri who was a well-known moderating figure and who could have been the grand ayatollah (thus the current grand poohbah Khamenei's most prominent opposition threat)... well he recently passed away. Just on the eve of a grand national period in Iran, a week of national mourning, meaning the chance to grieve his passing is going to give the corrupt regime nightmares and give the Green uprising the opportunity they need to take once more to the streets with legitimacy. Sullivan again is posting updates as often as possible. This is going to be a scary, unsettling, and God willing a hopeful week the nation of Iran is entering...
  • I didn't pass the A+ Essentials exam I took yesterday. I need to take it again very soon.
  • MightyGodKing recently posted probably the best short story I've read in years. It tells a "What If" historical revision where the Beatles take up SNL's infamous offer to re-unite on the show for $3000, starting off humorous but then as the tale unfolds enters into darker themes. At first reading, it ends on an odd note, but it forces you to loop back, as the hero of the story loops back and you read it again and pick up on things you missed in the first telling... as supplement, read MGK's answer to how he came up with the story ideas...
  • The more I watch the craziness unfold in Congress the more I want to join the Modern Whigs and see about running for office myself. I swear I couldn't make things worse than they are...

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Dear Mr. President Obama: what part of HELP WE NEED F-CKING JOBS do you not understand?

This article from the St. Pete Times might help as a wake-up call (highlights are mine):

Even as the national unemployment picture slightly improved, the job front in Florida — and Tampa Bay in particular — took a turn for the worse in November.

Among lowlights revealed Friday:

• In shedding 16,700 more jobs last month, Florida not only lost more jobs than any other state, it exceeded the net loss of jobs for the entire country (11,000 jobs).

Florida's unemployment rate rose to a 34-year high of 11.5 percent, up from a revised 11.3 percent in October. The state rate is now running a full 1.5 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate. For much of the recession, the gap had been one percentage point or less.

• The Tampa Bay area's jobless rate jumped half a percentage point to 12.3 percent, making it the most job-challenged major metropolitan area in Florida. The region's most sluggish county remained Hernando, which saw its unemployment rate rocket to 14.7 percent, up from 14.0 percent the prior month.

At Career Central, a job resource center in Spring Hill (NOTE: I've been to that office! Hi guys!), Tara Romano, 24, was eager to replace a job she had lost at McDonald's just after Thanksgiving. Her boyfriend, who had been laid off from Wendy's, was searching job prospects at a nearby computer terminal.

"We're looking at retail," Romano said. "Kind of like everyone else, we'll take whatever we can get just to survive."

Lucy Diaz said she has never seen the job market this bad in her five years managing the Hernando County career center.

"We try to give people hope. We tell them this is just a transition," Diaz said. "It's hard, especially now with this season. People want to be able to buy presents for their kids."

Rebecca Rust, chief economist with the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, which coordinates the unemployment report, offered little hope of a fast turnaround.

As one of the states at the epicenter of the housing bust, Florida is expected to lag behind much of the country in creating new jobs.

November's rate is the highest posted in Florida since May 1975, when unemployment peaked at 11.9 percent. Several economists predict the state will break the 12 percent mark early next year before gradually retreating.

It could take until 2019 (NOTE: SONOFA... HEEEELPPPP!!), state economists project, before unemployment in Florida gets back to a more palatable 6 percent range.

With more than 1 million jobless out of a statewide labor force of 9.2 million, Florida was singled out by the Labor Department as the only state in the country to post a statistically significant increase in unemployment in November. Seven other states that posted significant changes in unemployment all saw their rates go down. In fact, 36 states and the District of Columbia all saw a dip in unemployment last month.


Rust cited numerous factors hampering recovery: small businesses are still struggling to get credit; there's a mismatch between many of the unemployed and job openings; big budget deficits are holding down spending; and the housing market remains sluggish despite a recent increase in prices.


Durr, 27, was laid off at Weeki Wachee Springs a year ago when the attraction became a state park. Since then, he has postponed his wedding and taken courses in the medical field to bolster his technology background.

And he has become more philosophical. "Being unemployed has been an eye-opener," Durr said. "I learned so many things about myself. You find you have friends in the strangest places. A lot of people say it builds character.

"I wouldn't trade it."

Um, I would. I'd trade it for a F-CKING JOB THAT PAYS WELL!

Dear Obama: There are 30 million Americans AND GROWING who need your help more than the F-CKING CEOS of the F-CKING BANKS. HEEEEEEELLPPPP! OVER HERE! HEY! HEEEEEELLPPPPPPPPppppppp...

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Numb Decade

Not only is December a time of yearly reflection (Best Of, Worst Of Lists abound), but anything -9 on the calender gets to be a time of looking back upon an entire decade... 1989 focusing on The Eighties, 1999 focusing on The Nineties (overwhelmed by a case of centennial reminiscing for the whole 1900s). So now it becomes time to look back upon an entire decade: the 2000s, also known as the Aughts.

Each decade comes to be known for a particular theme: 1930s = Depression/pre-War years; 1940s = The War Effort; 1950s = Rise of the Boomer teens, Rock music, The Atomic Age; 1960s = New Frontier/The Nam/Woodstock Nation; 1970s = Nixon, Disco, Urban Blight, National Malaise (in short, the 70s Sucked); 1980s = Reagan Era of Good Feelings; 1990s = Post-Cold War/Dawn of the Internet; 2000s = ?

This came to me when I posted a comment to Flick Filosopher's post asking which film defined this decade. After giving it serious thought, I came to realize that a lot of the movies - even the good movies - seemed bereft of passion, of any amount of dedication to craft on the part of film-makers. It was just... throwing mass spectacle up on the screen and trying to see what sticks. I realized the films of this decade all suffered - and for the ones that tried to enjoy themselves - from a form of numbness.

This got me looking at the decade itself. And indeed, there was a kind of "God, Please, just let this go and not bother me anymore" feeling encompassing all. The era of scandal-plagued Clinton years finally awashed with Clinton Fatigue (just stop yelling about the BLOWJOBS, you wingnuts!). We got as a result one of the most dull, predictable Presidential campaigns in 2000 that ended up with a jaw-dropping questionable vote count (the Butterfly Ballot doomed us all) in my home state of Florida (I was in Broward - Ground Zero 2000 - for the insane recount) that ended with a questionable result (Bush wins in a 5-4 vote). By the end of all that, people just wanted to move on...

And then 2001. No space odyssey for humanity. Just a coordinated terrorist attack that killed thousands and drove the United States into the GWOT.

Everything in the political arena was pretty much consumed by the War on Terror, which mutated into a War on Iraq, which mutated further into an Occupation of Iraq and a growing schzoid madness in our Mainstream Media (half obsessed with justifying an increasingly unjustifable invasion and occupation, the other half terrified of being label unpatriotic). In the meanwhile, a GOP majority in control of Congress and the White House went on a spending spree that would have made LBJ blush, disregarding ethics and regulatory concerns (even in the wake of a massive corporate scandal involving Enron, WorldCom, criminal accounting tricks and more). All concerns for reform: none, and that lack of concern fed down into the whole of society, to where everyone is just shell-shocked at the large unemployment, the growing corpulence of the financial industry even in the wake of a global recession they caused, and pretty much everything else.

We're at 10 percent unemployment, and despite the Media talking heads trying to convince themselves the worst is over, there's good signs the worst ISN'T over. And yet, no one's marching in the streets about that. We've got more unemployed people since the 1930s and the streets are not crammed with protestors screaming for jobs, for job security, for ANYTHING from the government to help us.

The only ones marching? Teabaggers. And *they're* obsessed over SOCIALISM ZOMG, or Obama's BIRF CERTIFICATION ZOMG, or DEATH PANELS THAT DON'T EXIST ZOMG. In short, they're obsessed over b-llsh-t stuff that ain't true.

We're facing massive economic collapse with our current health care system, but the bill is close to death in the Senate all because of egotistical morans wanting their pretty pony presents. And past the outrage on the progressive blogs and on Olbermann's show, what else? Again, the streets are empty of people FOR the health care reform. Even though there's good evidence there's a lot of people out there who WANT AND NEED it.

It's like there's a kind of numbness in us. A refusal to work ourselves out of our homes, our cubicles. Not entirely fear of losing our homes or jobs, even though that can (and will) happen (if nothing gets fixed). Not enough anger, perhaps. Definitely not enough passion to see it done.

I dunno if it was the Clinton Fatigue from the 1990s that led to this kind of political apathy of letting the loudest idiots win the arguments just to let it end, even when those loudmouths are criminally wrong. I dunno if it was 9/11. I dunno if it was the Bush administration letting its ignorance and toadying permeate into our cultural consciousness. All I know is, we've been numbed into a lull. As a nation. We're just sitting here, waiting for the end. Of what, we all know. But we're at the point we don't care.

And that doesn't even terrify me. It did, once... See?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Viable Third Party?

I think I've ranted on occasion re: the need for a viable Third Party here in the United States. Primarily on two points:

  • The Democrats are led by spineless self-serving wimps who couldn't enforce discipline if their lives depended on it (and it does);
  • The Republicans are batsh-t insane sociopaths obsessed with tax cuts, killing abortion doctors, and insulting or degrading anything they deem 'foreign' or 'Socialist', and willing to purge their party of anyone who doesn't toe the line 100 percent.

The pity of Third Party attempts is that the system is rigged: the two established parties (R and D) may hate the sh-t out of each other, but they're terrified of voters getting pulled to other choices. I still believe Pat Buchanan's takeover of the Reform Party in 2000 was an attempt by the GOP to sabotage Ross Perot's pet project of shaking up the status quo. By making the Reform Party a top-down system, where they focused on the Presidency and failed to push local, state and congressional candidates, Perot made that party vulnerable to a takeover by a name candidate who could then run it into the dirt. You don't see the Reform Party mentioned much anymore anywhere. Pretty much any other Third Party program out there - Greens, noticeably - tend to be single-issue parties obsessed with far-wingnut (left and right) issues, nothing that would attract moderate and centrist voters disgusted with the ideological calcification of the existing Bigs...

An interesting article on Slate's website by Andrew Dubbins, that I saw earlier this morning, offered something promising: The Modern Whigs. Formed by returning war vets, but opening themselves to non-vet voters, the Whigs seem promising. While their platform is as vague on some topics as you'd expect, they don't come across as batsh-t insane (which is a big criteria for me right now). They also seem to be going about this party construction the right way: they're fielding candidates at local and state levels, rather than gambling on a big-name run at the biggest target (the White House) out there.

I'm intrigued. They've got Congressional candidates lined up in my home state of Florida. I'm going to give them a closer look.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturnalia Wish List 2009 Edition

Once again kiddies as part of our effort in the WAR ON BILL O'REILLY'S CHRISTMAS we here at this blog celebrate the life-affirming pagan holiday known as Saturnalia! The day all Romans put giant rings around their head and Voyager probes on their earrings! Wait, what?

Anywho. As part of tradition, I'm posting my wishlist to The Roman Lord of Time (hi there!) in the mad hopes that the pagan gods will once again after thousands of years notice us tiny insignificant lifeforms and smite our enemies. It's pretty much the only way Goldman Sachs and Dick Cheney will answer for their crimes since the secular forces on this planet won't do a g-dd-mn thing.

The wishlist is as follows:
1) The Tampa Bay Bucs get the first overall draft pick in next April's NFL Rookie Draft. 'Cause buddy, they need it.

2) Tell us just what exactly happened over Norway just now. I mean, seriously, there's NO WAY that was a malfunctioning rocket. That spiral pattern: A) Stayed in roughly the same place overhead for over 10 minutes, long enough for people to get their cameras out and document that thing. ROCKETS DON'T HOVER; B) While the large white spiral pattern could be explained away by misaligned or damaged rocket boosters, that blue-green haze-like thing emanating from the center of that spiral doesn't make sense. It's not normal rocket exhaust, for one. Eyewitness reports claim that blue-green light (and it's not smoke, it would disseminate differently if it was) CAME AFTER THE SPIRAL APPEARED: if it were rocket exhaust it would have been simultaneously happening.
Personally, I don't think the Russians were testing a rocket: I think they were testing a hyperspace gateway! (shh, don't me otherwise! Hey, being an X-Phile all these years is finally paying off!)

3) That the citizens of Conneticut and Nebraska take good long looks at Lieberman and Nelson, at how they are sabotaging every health care reform attempt being made in the Senate, and then find out which health care companies have contributed to their campaign warchest, and then file bribery charges against those health care companies. There is way too much evidence of quid pro quod deals going on here. This isn't a democracy or a republic when our elected officials answer to the greedhead deep pockets and not the actual majority.

4) That Tom Harkin's effort to reform the filibuster gets somewhere: personally, dude, keep the filibuster ONLY for judicial lifetime nominations that do require some form of supermajority requirement. Everything else should be simple majority vote like in the House. And get rid of those damn SECRET HOLDS while you're at it.

5) A passing grade on the upcoming A+ Certification exam I'm trying to line up. If that doesn't succeed, then...

6) A frickin' Jobs Bill that would give an unemployed Mensa idiot like me something that's full-time and over minimum wage! Dear Obama: your polling numbers wouldn't be tanking IF YOU'D ONLY GOTTEN AROUND TO GETTING US JOBS THREE MONTHS AGO. HURRY UP DAMMIT.

7) That the Democrats push for an immigration reform bill during summer 2010 so that the Republicans will commit mass suicide opposing it and drawing the ire of Hispanic voters across the nation.

8) That you pagan gods need to do more to remind my fellow short-term-memory American citizens that it's the REPUBLICAN Party that had wrecked the economy, weakened our military, ruined our international clout, and lost us our jobs. Stop giving them better polling numbers, America, BECAUSE THE GOP IDIOTS HAVEN'T CHANGED. Put them back in power AND IT'S GONNA GET WORSE.


So that's what I'm working with right now, O Lord of Time And Planetary Rings. That and finishing up my NaNoWriMo rough draft... and that A+ Exam is serious business... and please see about getting Cheney in jail before the Super Bowl, okay? 'Kay.

And don't forget to send the bill for the Mithras bull sacrifice over to Bill O'Reilly's place, will you?


Monday, December 07, 2009

Free Iran Update Dec. 7

Been a bit busy today with final exams, but the Iranian students seemed to be a bit busy as well.

This was a day of remembrance of sorts - 16 Azar by the calendar, known as Student Day - and the Khamenei dictatorship was well prepared for it (thousands of Basiji brutes, riot police in force, etc.). The students and others in the Green movement still went for it.

It was bloody, and violent, and yet still the Iranian people will not stay quiet.

Pray for them. Hope they make it through the night... and the month... and the coming year.

This won't end quickly. But it will end with the bullies gone. Just a matter of time...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Catching Up and Falling Behind

As we round the calendar year into the final month (December 2009), there are a few points of contention and observations to discuss:

  • It's been pretty much one year... and it's been pretty much SIXTY YEARS of the Democrats trying for something even close to universal health care to pass through Congress, and here we STILL ARE DEBATING THE DAMN THING. In a more sane political system - no filibusters, no Holds, no bullsh-tting Senators with egos the size of Jupiter - this would have passed MONTHS AGO.
  • It's been one full year of unemployment for me this month. Job hunting has been full of fits and starts, I'm finishing up my A+ Cert studies at PHCC this week, I've got the CompTIA exam in two weeks, and my brain still can't warp itself around TCP/IP stuff. Grrr Argh.
  • Sarah Palin's 'biography' is so full of lies, half-truths, and non-researched crap that someone (not me, as I haven't wasted money on it) ought to sue the publisher for fraud. As a librarian, I don't trust any supposed non-fiction book that does NOT have a bibliography (sign of research) or an index (sign of subject checking: lack of an index also shows the book was rushed to print). I'm surprised as hell that NO ONE mentioned in her book in an unfavorable way - which is basically anyone outside her family circle - hasn't started rounding up lawyers for a libel or slander case.
  • Obama's recent announcements to quickly send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in a Surge-esque attempt to push back the Taliban / Al Qaeda forces to justify a 2011 staged withdrawal is, once you take a longer look at it, the least worst choice out of a set of really bad choices. After all, what else could he do?
    Obvious choice: full and complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. Begin a six-month phased exit of troops from the ground, finishing up around key cities and transit points to try and ensure the nation doesn't fall into complete chaos. The problem there isn't so much the far right wingnuts screaming for impeachment (they'd do that anyways), but the reasonable fact that the current regime - corrupt and unable to handle infrastructural needs - would be immediately overrun with the Taliban claiming victory (they'd do that anyways), reclaiming the nation and returning it to a massive hellhole.
    Other obvious choice: keep up the current situation, try to force the Afghani government to fix itself, and just hope to outlast the Taliban's insurgency efforts. The problem there is, without a deadline of sorts, there's little incentive for the Afghani government to steady itself: it'll just keep relying on us and our allies to keep them propped up. We'll also be unable to establish any kind of excuse or reason to force an exit strategy ourselves, meaning we'll be tied down for as long as the Taliban remains a threat. And the Taliban and Al Qaeda jerks want that to be forever (to justify their argument that we're empire building, a Western Christian nation yet again beating up on poor faithful Muslims). Oh, the far right wingnuts will continue to claim that Obama's not doing enough for the troops, he doesn't want victory, yadda yadda.
    That left this choice: commit more troops to "flood the zone" and push the Taliban out of key locations. Commit to a deadline to show other Muslim nations we're not in it for the empire building. That deadline also pressures the military to create results (hopefully not sloppy bloody results, but tangible ones that don't involve hundreds of dead civilians). And while critics complain that deadline gives the Taliban an objective to keep messing with us to where we'd have to break said deadline, that overlooks the fact the Taliban would have kept messing with us anyway. The argument that the Taliban can just lay low until the deadline and we leave to strike back is also faulty: if the Taliban lays low, it gives Karzai's government a chance to stabilize well enough to stand on their own.
    This is, of course, all academic. We can only know for sure after 2011 if this all works out right. It REALLY depends on if everyone involved - The U.S., our allies, Karzai's government, et al - makes good faith efforts to fix things well enough that we can bring the troops home...
  • The big news for the Republicans - other than Palin being a bane to her own fans - has been the recent tragic shooting of four police officers in Washington State... in that the cop killer was a violent parolee from Arkansas who had his long sentence commuted to a shorter time. That shorter time allowed for an early parole, which the guy violated, but his second stint was quickly annulled because of a screw-up with the prosecutors' office not pursuing the matter properly. The governor who commuted the sentence? Mike Huckabee. That noise you just heard was the air let out of his 2012 Primary balloon.
    See, here's the problem: it's not that Huckabee could have forseen the guy was going to become a cop killer. It's not even Huckabee's fault that the prosecutors' didn't handle the guy's parole violation. But this is the second time that a Huckabee parolee had gone violent after release: there are questions now about how many other prisoners that were granted leniency through his office returned to lives of violence (for what I know, there's a third one that's lesser known. So far).
    This incident brings to question Huckabee's decision making. Which has been proven elsewhere, but highlighted by this case, to be a faith-based system. The stories are getting around now of how Huckabee listened to ministers and preachers - instead of prosecutors and victims - regarding whom to show mercy. Stories about how prisoners in Arkansas quickly expressed conversions to faith as a means to lessen their jail times. And while it's great for a man, any person, to have a solid faith system in their personal lives, this is just one more proof that religion and secular matters - the law, politics, people's lives - should not mix.
    If Dukakis got derailed by Willie Horton, having a cop killer like Clemmons as your personal albatross should guarantee you won't even start a Presidential campaign... so who does that leave for the Republicans in 2012? Palin. Romney. Pawlenty from Minnesota has to be drooling right about now.
  • I need 25,000 - 50,000 more words for a decent book to come out of the NaNoWriMo effort. Hence the need to keep writing elsewhere than this blog. Sorry. I'll probably post a Io Saturnalia request before the Pagan Eggnog and Gift-Sharing and Tree-Decorating Day, but that's about it. Unless Congress does something really stupid before then. Sigh.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Slightly OT, but what the hell: I Survived NaNo

I survived NaNo.

The 50,000 word count was achieved last night.

And the novel itself is really 2/3s done, maybe half done. I have a ways to go before getting a publishable book out of this.

To all publishers: the bidding war starts now! Okay, okay, who's signing me for a 3-book $300 deal? Anyone? Anyone?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And Thus Did Turkey Day Get Its Awesome TV Episode

Certain holidays get the love when it comes to our popular culture.

Christmas, obviously. Halloween, for the kids and the cosplayers. 4th of July. Easter. Flag Day (Happy Birthday MOM!)

Which is the pity of it for some of the other big holidays that, well, just don't have the cultural impact that those primary holidays have. Thanksgiving, for one.

Oh, it's a big holiday to be sure. One of the few nationally sanctioned by the government and yet treated as more than just some bank or school holiday. Tied in with our historical heritage of the Pilgrims giving thanks for a successful harvest in the earliest days of our nation's founding (and our subsequent march across to the Pacific to ensure our Manifest Destiny, yeah the Sioux and the Mexicans are still thrilled about that), Thanksgiving is meant as a time for family, for gathering, for eating large amounts of food (well, for the half of us not living on unemployment benefits). Oh, and there's the Macy's Parade and three (used to be two, but Detroit and Dallas don't always have good teams to encourage viewing so...) NFL football games for the guys to watch while Mom burns her fingers off getting the turkey out of the oven.

But Turkey Day, I mean Thanksgiving, doesn't have a lot in terms of entertainment. There's not a lot of movies celebrating it: most holiday gathering flicks tend to go with Christmas. There's very few television specials and just one off the top of my head: Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, but this is considering they've made specials for ALL holidays (for the Love of Snoopy, there's an Arbor Day special!). Other than Adam Sandler, there's no songs celebrating Thanksgiving and the turkey delights.

Ah, but then, back in 1978, a then-new sitcom called WKRP in Cincinnati broadcast an episode called "Turkeys Away."

This episode has been as close to universally hailed as the best episode ever for one of the best sitcoms ever. (this link btw takes you to a blog that reviews a lot of WKRP episodes and delves into a lot of the show's history and struggles with music copyright. Read through please)

Adding a link to video: (looks like it's the whole episode, better sit here for 25 minutes, but it's worth it!):

Hope the link showed. Damn I hate this embed stuff.

Anywho. Best. Turkey. Episode. Ever.

That they don't run a WKRP marathon on Comedy Central every Turkey Day is a sin.

"As God is my witness... I thought turkeys could fly!"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Because Andrew Sullivan Takes This Sh-t Seriously

Over on the Atlantic blogging pages, Andrew Sullivan let most of the day slip by before posting any kind of update or report. Usually he and his mini-staff of two overworked and underpaid interns update practically every hour to the delight of millions (no, I'm not kidding, Sullivan's one the biggest reads on the 'Net). But Nov. 18th, there was dead silence for most of the day...

He finally posted an apology of sorts.

It seems he and his crew are poring over every word and every sentence in Sarah Palin's 'auto'-biography. Sullivan's seriously examining everything Palin's got on paper now - as a kind of official record - as a means of uncovering lapses (well that would be the more polite term for lying) in her political narrative.

He's caught some flack about this by now, you might have heard about it. He's a bit... obsessive-compulsive with Palin ever since she popped up on the national scene as McCain's VP pick. Like me, and a lot of other Americans, we hadn't really heard much about her. Her reputation at the time was that she was a 'reformer' who stood up to the Alaskan party machines... It wasn't until Sullivan and others started examining that reputation and finding out it was overblown - Palin's challenges to the local GOP elite was because they wouldn't give her the shiny pretty jobs she hoped for - that Sullivan started arguing against what he saw as her lying about her creditials, her background, her politics, her family... even the events surrounding the birth of her baby Trig.

Palin's defenders of course dismiss Sullivan as a hack... and even Sully's readers take him to task from time to time when his arguments cross the line into obsessive crazy talk. But Sullivan was one of the earliest to turn against her pick as Veep... and the disasters she visited on McCain's campaign - especially her horrific interviews that successively showed her getting WORSE handling them - proved him and the other Palin critics absolutely right.

And so, ever since then Sullivan has been keeping a harsh critical eye on Palin. Especially as Palin is promoting herself for an obvious attempt at the Presidency herself in 2012. This biography of hers (I can't call it an autobiography: she clearly has a ghost writer on it, and there's so sign of Palin having any literary skills) is a clear chance for Sullivan to dig as deep as he can without outright forcing her to sit with him on a one-on-one interview.

And so... we wait.

It's not like there was a lot else going on in the political world for Sully to comment upon, other than Sen. Sessions' attempt at a filibuster getting squashed... and Obama's trip to China and Japan... and Obama bowing to the Japanese Emperor and giving the wingnuts back home another excuse to have a collective conniption over a PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE ACT OF PROTOCOL YOU BABIES. Anywho.

At least I'm doing well with NaNoWriMo...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The major blogs are starting to recognize the real problem with our current political landscape: the fact that our legislative system has frozen in place.

...Meyerson notes the Democrats' three great governing opportunities/challenges of the last century. The first was in 1933, when FDR and a Democratic Congress delivered on a New Deal. The second was in 1965, when LBJ and a Democratic Congress advanced the Great Society. The third is right now. And while the first two saw a flurry of legislative successes that came to define a generation, 2009 isn't working out the same way -- partly because Republicans have embraced obstructionism on an unprecedented scale, partly because some Democrats are conservatives who are comfortable with failure, and partly because of legislative procedural hurdles that FDR and LBJ didn't have to worry about.

As Benen notes, the partisan obstructionism of the Republicans is part of the reason we're not seeing more legislative action this year, or indeed out of the past 10 years (most legislation under the GOP tenure of the Aughts were self-serving deficit-increasing disasters like the handouts to Big Pharma in their Plan D package, every tax cut they could get away with, and funding two out-of-control wars). But the other aspects are just as bad: there are indeed Democrats not so much comfortable with failure as they are with the Status Quo - failure they can live with, they don't want to rock the boat and risk their incumbent re-election campaigns.

The other problem is the procedural hurdles currently in play. Worst of all is the filibuster rule. What was once an obscure rule is now an impediment on getting anything passed in the Senate (the House has no filibuster and so can pass laws by majority vote more quickly) because the filibuster can't be stopped (Cloture) unless two-thirds of the Senate votes to, which means you need 60 votes nowadays to ensure Cloture. Problem is where the Republicans are organized to a fault to where their own party is consuming themselves, the Democrats are disorganized to where each Senator can (and does) act like their own party and vote however they want... so even though they've GOT 60 Senators in their caucus (58 D plus 2 Ind), the Dems can't count on that 60 to really enforce anything because 20 of those asses will act up like petulant children and kick the furniture until they get their very own pony for Christmas... not that I'm expressing any frustration at the moment (DAMN YOU LIEBERMAN!). As a result, all the Republicans have to do (or Lieberman, YOU EFFING TRAITOR, just go R and BE DONE WITH IT) is threaten to filibuster and the Democrat-led Senate will freeze up and choke.

But the filibuster is only part of the problem.

What's worse is that a Senator can place a Secret (!) Hold on any motion from reaching the floor for a vote. This means anything (ANYTHING) that's gone through committee review and votes, from laws to nominees for key executive and judicial positions, can be held up for months (!) while NOTHING gets done. There's a boatload of vacancies in the White House and on our federal courts because Senators are abusing the Hold system out of partisan issues with particular agencies (or because they don't like the ideology of incoming administrations affecting who gets to fill lifetime judicial jobs). This is also what happened when Sens. Kyl and Hatch held up the unemployment benefits extension this month so they could essentially commit extortion. Both parties, let's be fair, have abused this rule, but right now it's gotten so much worse.

And WHAT MAKES IT WORSE is THE HOLD(S) IS/ARE SECRET. The Senator responsible for placing the hold doesn't have to be named in the official record, meaning they could hide their action from their voters back home and avoid accountability. It wasn't until an egregious hold placed on a government transparency bill of all things that a handful of aggrieved bloggers called around forcing nearly every Senator to flat-out deny they placed the hold (a direct public denial turning out to be a lie apparently never looks good on re-election efforts) until they narrowed the suspects down to four (by then the two culprits - Stevens and Byrd - fessed up). Subsequent Hold attempts are getting so brazen Senators are starting openly (but indirectly) to 'hint' who the bad guys are.

Attempts to fix the Filibuster and the Hold rules have come and gone, some brazenly partisan, others less so. For a while there, Holds were disallowed in the late 90s but then brought back. Either way, each procedural rule is turning out cause two problems: 1) they're undemocratic, preventing ANYTHING from getting done and 2) they create lack of accountability, not just for the Senators who abuse the procedures but also the Senators WHO LET THEM ABUSE IT.

The whole Upper House has gotten lazy and soft, beholden to themselves as Barons of power. And because of the short attention spans of the media (if not their state-bound voters), these Senators keep getting away with it. This leads to the Status Quo: unchanging, inflexible, stuck in ideas and beliefs 20 years out of date, and calcified.

We need reform. We need to fix the Senate truly before we can get any other reforms to save our nation in place. We need to set it in stone - not in the standing Senate Rules which no Senator will ever fix - but in amendments to the Constitution:

  • The Filibuster can only be used by a Senator with regards to debating the approval of a judicial nominee that is filled by lifetime appointment. During the first 5 business days of filibustering it will require 2/3 vote for Cloture, and after the 5 business days it will require a simple majority for Cloture, and no nomination can be filibustered more than once;
  • A Hold placed by a Senator on a legislative matter brought to the floor for a vote can only be in effect for up to 5 business days during which any questions the Senator has on the matter is resolved. The Senator must be named publicly and provide a written explanation for the Hold. The Senator cannot extend a Hold on that legislation (if the questions he/she has on the matter aren't resolved, he/she can still vote No), and only two Holds can be placed on the matter brought to the floor.

To finish out, a quote from Benen:
Facing extraordinary crises and challenges, the United States has a legislative branch that is barely able to legislate at all. The system can see the problems, but is struggling badly to address them. The first step in changing the way Congress operates is creating the demand -- most of the public has no idea that the Senate no longer operates by majority rule. Public frustration can lead to proposals, which can lead to debate, which can lead to solutions.

Support any and all efforts to get amendments, rules, whatever it takes to get reform methods - getting rid of Secret Holds, limiting the Filibuster to just votes on lifetime judicial appointments - in place AND FIX THE SENATE.

Monday, November 09, 2009

It was Twenty Years Ago Today, David Hasselhoff Told His Band to Play...

Okay, so a riff on Sgt. Peppers segueing into the Fall of the Berlin Wall doesn't work so well...

November 9th. It was indeed 20 years ago, this day when the East German government made the announcement that they would be easing travel restrictions between East and West. Try to remember, but after 1945 when the Allies crushed Hitler's evil we had divided control of Germany into four parts: American, British, French, and Russian (the Poles should have been included but thanks to Stalin they got squat, actually worse than squat over the next 40 years). By 1947 it became clear Stalin and the Soviets weren't going to honor agreements about freeing Eastern Europe and the dividing lines formed in Germany. In 1948, the Berlin Blockade and the subsequent Airlift essentially solidified West Germany and East Germany. Well into the early 1960s, West Berlin was like a funnel out of the Soviet-controlled Eastern Block, thousands of people fleeing the oppression, but outside of military invasion there was little the Soviets could do.

So they built a Wall. They said it was to keep us out of Eastern Europe but in truth it was to keep the rest of their people in. And ironically the Berlin Wall helped keep the peace, although it came at the cost of tens of people dying while trying to cross over (and under, and around) it.

For 20-plus years the Wall stood. When I was born in 1970 the Wall was 9 years old and already covered on the Western side with legal graffiti. There had also been numerous escape attempts across it, even with the East German guards ordered to shoot. By the 1980s, the we'd gotten used to the Wall. Even as Reagan became the first President to openly call on the Soviet leadership to "Tear Down This Wall," it seemed like a permanent feature on the political landscape.

But by the 1980s, the Soviets were flailing. As utopian ideals Communism and Socialism looked nice on paper, but in real-world application those -isms fell apart real effing quick. The paradoxes of one-party rule (a 'pure' party is still corrupted from within by greed, paranoia, obsession with bureaucratic power and calcification) was finally taking its toll. The Soviet leader of the day, Gorbachev, was doing what he could to 'open up' the Soviet system, to bring about market reforms and also freedom of thought reforms. But in truth the system - calcified during the 1970s during the Breshnev years - was dying...

The Polish Solidarity movement had, from the 1980s on, given the Eastern European nations the tools needed to begin causing rifts within the control structure of the Soviet hegemone. By 1989, Gorbachev tried giving the satellite states more local autonomy, perhaps as part of a process of 'demilitarizing' the East so he could cut back on Soviet military expenses, or on the bureaucracy consuming so many resources. For whatever reason, the Russian Soviets would no longer directly intervene in their puppet regimes the way they did in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Domino Effect quickly took action. Poland quickly legalized the Solidarity party by April 1989. Hungary began tearing down their border fence with Austria by May, and by October, Hungarian Communists changed labels to Socialists (as a way of presenting themselves as 'less evil'). And with East Germany... well, with that Hungary/Austria border now open, thousands began fleeing into the West through Hungary, forcing the East German government to begin restricting their peoples' travels to other Eastern states. By October, the issue had come to a boiling point, with refugees camped out in West German embassies in Prague.

So, by November 9th, the East German government relented, deciding to allow some (not open) movement between East and West Germany. Especially at checkpoints along the Berlin Wall.

But, in football parlance, the East Germans proceeded to muff the snap, the punt, the punt recovery and even the whole fourth quarter offense.

The announcement came quick and unexpected. The government's intent was to have their travel program begin the next day, when they would be prepared for the overflow. However, their spokesman didn't get clear instructions on that, and when asked for when the program would start, he assumed it was immediate.

The media, mostly the West German media (which the Eastern Block could still see and hear), jumped on this as meaning the East German borders were 'open to everyone'.

Checkpoints were quickly swamped with mobs chanting for their freedom. The guards were completely unprepared. After an hour or three of frantic phone calls where no one wanted the horrible responsbility of using lethal force, the guards relented and let people pass even without papers or procedure.

It was akin to opening the floodgates for both sides. The biggest party in human history just began as East and West Berliners joined up at the Wall to hug, dance, drink, dance, drink, and drink some more. This was at the early beginnings of global cable news: CNN began showing nonstop images of Germans getting up on the Wall itself to celebrate. Pickaxes and shovels suddenly appeared as people began hacking away at the symbol of the Iron Curtain.

And oh yeah, David Hasselhoff played at the remains of the Berlin Wall on New Years' Eve. By then nearly every Eastern European nation once over Soviet rule had fallen (Czechslovakia by peaceful means, Romania by violent overthrow, and the Balkan states beginning their rumblings to break free of the Soviet Union itself) and the Cold War nearly done (in two years the Soviet Union would suffer a failed coup against Gorbachev and that would be that).

And now, it's twenty years later, celebrations afoot across Germany and in some respects around the world. For a good while you couldn't imagine the Wall gone. Now, you can't imagine a Wall had ever gone up. Except for the memorials for those who died trying to cross it...

Oh, and I'm pretty sure the Hoff will show up and lip-sync some more. :)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Moderates Have Principles

I am not a fan of Rush Limbaugh.

Which seems to be mutual. He's not a fan of Moderates.

Rush seems to think that moderates "cannot be governed by principle. They can't be. Moderates don't have principles. If they had principles, they'd be one thing or the other..."

Dear Rush: Here's a list of moderates' principles.

1) Moderates support competency. We support things THAT WORK. If it doesn't work (example: THE WHOLE BUSH ADMINISTRATION) we don't support it. So there.

2) Moderates recognize not so much the NEED for bipartisanship (or compromise) for the SAKE of bipartisanship. Bipartisanship and compromise between opposing factions are welcome when the end result will be something THAT WORKS.

3) Moderate Republicans are actually pro-life. We just don't support SHOOTING PEOPLE and BLOWING UP BUILDINGS to enforce our own personal values. We also recognize that there are medical reasons for abortion (to save the life of the mother) and legal reasons (rape and incest). If that makes us too open-minded on the issue, TOO BAD.

4) Moderates support FAIR taxation, not necessarily CONSTANT tax-cutting. When the tax rates were clearly too high (above 50 percent!), we agreed on getting the tax rates down. But now that the governments (federal and state) are struggling with massive deficits, MORE tax cuts are clearly not an answer (there's a reason why current polling of the voters show that a plurality - 46 percent - think the tax rates are 'just right'). And we Moderates aren't too thrilled that these tax cuts never come with serious attempts to cut back on the massive spending as well, to make government justify every expense with correlating revenue.

5) Moderates love America. We also love all Americans with few exceptions (rapists, murderers and embezzlers, pretty much anyone deserving of life in jail). What we don't do is go out of our way to divide this nation into the US vs. THEM crap that you and your wingnuts seem to do every second of every day.

6) One thing Moderates don't do is watch FOX. We also don't watch CNN or MSNBC or any of the other major news outlets, pretty much because they're all wastes of oxygen any more (all of them filled with ego-driven know-nothings who pontificate on crap they don't understand). We're pretty much getting our news from the Daily Show and Colbert Report any more... and we're STILL better informed.

6a) and ESPN. Moderates love college football.

7) Moderates are perfectly capable of being as rude and vulgar as you wingnuts.
So I finish with the immortals words of Harry Truman: Fuck you, Rush.

Hope that clarifies things for you.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Observations from the 2009 Off-Cycle Elections

By off-cycle I mean the national-level 2-year cycle of Congressional elections/4-year cycle of Presidential elections. Anything going on here will be either state and local elections of import (Governorships of Virginia and New Jersey), special ballot initiatives (gay marriage in Maine and Washington State), or special Congressional elections to fill seat vacancies (New York and California).
There was especially some crazy stuff involving NY-23, so this year was more special than most. So let's head to the observations (I will come back later to edit in links, I'm currently juggling between this and my A+ class studies):

1) Every other pundit or blogger pontificating about the results - other than ME - will get the results completely WRONG. Heh.

2) The real consequence of these elections for Governor and/or Congress isn't about who's in the White House: it's about the actual candidates and how the state and voting districts liked/hated them.

3) The result in Virginia - Republican beating Democrat - wasn't about Obama: it was about the fact that the Democrat ran a mis-managed campaign from the get-go and that Virginia is one of those borderline states that shifts regularly between Republican and Democrat.

4) The result in New Jersey - Republican challenger overthrowing incumbent Democrat - wasn't about Obama: it was about how unliked the incumbent was. That the race itself came down to the wire - before the results came in with a solid victory for the Republican - was due to the fact the Republican was swimming upstream against a lot of anti-GOP sentiment and personal issues of his own.
In fact, there was polling for the VA and NJ elections where the exit polls specifically asked "Was Obama part of your decision-making on your vote?" Solid majorities in both states said Obama wasn't a consideration. So how do those results honestly reflect on Obama? Answer: they don't. It's just the Far Right wants to attack Obama on EVERYTHING so every GOP victory is a referendum that VOTERS HATE OBAMA and every GOP defeat is a referendum that VOTERS ARE REALLY CONSERVATIVE EVEN THOUGH THEY VOTED AGAINST US, OH AND THEY HATE OBAMA. /Headthump

5) The result in New York - A Democrat narrowly winning in a district/region that hadn't gone Democrat since the Grant administration! - was about Obama only as far as the outside agitators who hijacked the election from the established GOP candidate wanted it to be. Oh, but it's still about the VOTERS HATING OBAMA. /Headthump

6) Once again, a moderate Republican candidate stepped up to represent in a state/region where moderates are key to victory, only to have the Far Right Wingnuts from outside charge in, disrupt everything with their own extremist choice, and end up tossing the district/state to the Democrats. The Kos guy just sent the Club for Greed a big "Thank You" card.
And for some Godforsaken reason, the Far Right still thinks this is GOOD FOR REPUBLICANS to have their representation drop to levels that will make the party an ineffective minority party for now and the forseeable future. At what point will the Republican leadership look around and say "Hey? Club for Greed? STOP KNEE-CAPPING US! Our whole party is now small enough to fit in a Denny's banquet room!"

7) The Bucs unofficially have the first overall draft pick for next April, and they REALLY need to look at the BEST AVAILABLE DT coming out of college. I mean, sign him up in February for God's sake... oh wait, that's my football observation, my bad...

8) The gay marriage state referenda mostly split, with Maine narrowly shooting it down but Washington State passing their gay rights (everything up to marriage rights) package. Thing is, sooner rather than later this is gonna get to be a moot point... gays will get the right to marry. All it takes is keeping the pressure up, and recognizing the fact that the opposition to gay rights is a overly paranoid, overly selective reading of the Old Testament that won't stand up to scrutiny (ask the anti-gay people if they uphold EVERYTHING in Leviticus or anything else deemed Abomination in the Bible, and I guarantee you half of them won't even answer you).

9) What does this all mean? I'm going go against Conventional Wisdom of the Beltway and say it's ALL GOOD FOR OBAMA! IT'S ALWAYS GOOD FOR OBAMA! What? It can't be GOOD FOR REPUBLICANS all the time...

Monday, November 02, 2009

Three Things That Will Happen With NY-23

Since the previous post, the 'official' Republican candidate - Scozzafava - that had to drop out because the 'unofficial' Conservative candidate - Hoffman - was getting all the national Republican support made her official statement to her followers on whom they should support in the coming election.

The Republican told them to go vote for the Democrat.

Let's be blunt: this is unheard of. A candidate from one of the established parties just simply doesn't support the opposition candidate. There would only be one reason for this to happen: The usurping candidate is just so damn unpalatable that "Better the Devil You Know/Respect" Rule comes into play (the fact that Owens' response to Scozzafava's drop-out was respectful whereas Hoffman's was pretty much a self-satisfied "Ha-Ha!" kinda sealed the deal).

How will this actually play out come election time? Pollsters still think Hoffman secures the edge because as the Conservative (and now unofficial Republican) candidate he'll get enough of the self-ID'd Republican voters who vote GOP out of habit. But there was a reason Hoffman wasn't the original candidate in the first place (he's not local, and he's too far to the Right for the actual community). There's also the revenge factor: Scozzafava's supporters don't hate Owens, they'll hate Hoffman, and people tend to vote AGAINST someone, not FOR. There's also the Parochial factor: the local NY voters can't be too thrilled that their election got hijacked by the national players (Palin, national GOP figures, the wingnut media crazies like Malkin) who are essentially pushing on them a candidate (Hoffman) that's NOT of their district and who's more representative of Southern (basically anything south of the state border with Pennsylvania) values.

This is, beforehand, a pretty unpredictable election coming up. 'Course, afterwards we'll all be slapping our foreheads and going "Oh, we knew that was going to happen!" But not really.

All we can tell is that the result will go one of three ways:

1) Hoffman wins. Regardless of the lead or actual results, if it's a blow-out (unlikely) or if he wins by one vote. What will happen is that the Far Right Wingnut machine will celebrate like it's New Year's Eve 1984, that it will ABSOLUTELY VINDICATE EVERYTHING they believe, that the election is a referendum on HOW UNPOPULAR OBAMA IS, NOBODY REALLY LIKES HIM, HE CHEATED AND ALL BECAUSE HE'S NOT REALLY BORN HERE, that TRUE AMERICANS are terrified that OBAMA IS DESTROYING AMERICA, etc. It will justify the Club for Greed's efforts to purge moderate candidates and officials from elected office, and will accelerate their efforts across the nation. Moderates from seemingly safe states like Maine will either flee the party a'la Specter or fearfully line up lockstep to receive their marching orders.

2) Owens wins by a reasonable margin, within 5 percent over Hoffman's results, or in a squeaker with just one vote. Democrats will celebrate with smug satisfaction that once again it proves that the GOP is destroying itself with this intraparty sniping, but that would be about it. The mainstream national-level Republicans will shrug this off as a close race and ignore it within one news cycle, or focus instead on how they easily won in Virginia. There will also be a slight chance that New Jersey's governorship will go their way, so they could celebrate that. The Club for Greed and their wingnut allies will still crow that they hold the upper hand within the party structure, that moderates still have to fear their power to knee-cap them in primary challenges.

3) Owens wins in a blowout (anything 60 percent and over is a blowout). The Demorats will still be overly smug about the victory, but that'll be about all they'll get out of it. The real fireworks will be on the other side of the aisle. If the Democrat does get that many votes in what is a safe Republican district, it will obviously be because the moderates and independents who backed Scozzafava virulently opposed the Conservative Hoffman. The Club for Greed and their ilk will still crow about the RINO scalp they earned (simply because they never learn, and Everything Is Good For (ultra-Right Wing) Republicans in their POV), but a humiliating defeat like this is going to scare the rest (AKA the rational few) of the Republican Party. Newt Gingrich will be justified and have ammo to take to the Sunday Talk Shows about how right he was to support moderate candidates like Scozzafava in places like New York and the Northeast. Regional GOP leaders (at the state levels) will start balking against having their efforts getting hijacked the way this one was. There's a good possibility the financial backers of the Club for Greed will take a step back and review just what exactly they are getting out of their money (clues: The Club for Greed removes moderate Republicans who could be their kind of pro-business allies and ends up getting Democrats who aren't favorable to their business interests elected to office instead. Sooner and sooner all that knee-capping kills your own interests...), which is actually very little at all. Given how defensive the wingnuts get (after all, they're always the victims even when they're the ones committing the crimes), they may even feel justified in going after MORE RINO scalps because Scozzafava openly 'betrayed' the GOP by getting her supporters to vote for the Democrat (even though Scozzafava and her people were ALREADY betrayed by the wingnuts' hatred of moderates. So there).
In this scenario, the intraparty civil war will get worse for Republicans because it won't get lopsided the way a Hoffman win would: it will embolden moderates into proving they have enough power to decide elections and that they can keep the party afloat. And the wingnuts, always on the defensive, will refuse to see reason and fight harder to make the Republicans their purity party.

Of the three scenarios, Option 3 is less likely: electoral blowouts don't happen outside of ridiculously gerrymandered safe districts. Option 2 (Owens win close) is my personal preferred, because I'm a moderate who has no love for the Club for Greed anyway. I dread Option 1 (Hoffman wins), only because it will make the Far Right go even crazier than they already are, which is honestly frightening.
There are some who feel that if Hoffman does win it will only accelerate the self-immolation of the GOP because it will drive all the moderates Indy or Dem. Just look at the current polling numbers, and try to imagine the GOP getting smaller because of their purity efforts because that's the ONLY response you will get. The wingnuts think their purification will actually ATTRACT more voters who will be drawn towards how shiny and sparkly their ideology is: in truth all it really does is scare away anyone with enough brains cells to have, you know, actual doubts about things... Look at the Independent numbers. I have NEVER seen polling that had more Independents than both Democrats or Republicans. All those Indys HAVE to be moderates fleeing the GOP, because look at how level the Democratic numbers have remained (near about 35 percent)... and when do national parties shrink BELOW 30 percent of the voting population (GOP at 20-21 percent)?

I hate nail-biters. They distract me from my homework and NaNoWriMo efforts. Phoeey.

UPDATE: Just spotted a pre-election commentary by Nate Silver at 538. As always, he's got great access to the polling numbers and a better way of evaluating just how crazy the whole election thing gets. Key points: Owens is in a better position because of Scozzafava's endorsement; Hoffman will benefit from an active conservative turnout; while a Hoffman win won't change the intraparty dynamics for the GOP, the Democrats would be better served by a close Owens win that would leave conservatives (read: Club for Greed) empowered enough to sabotage moderate efforts in major elections like the Florida 2010 Senate seat (an Owens blowout would embolden the likes of Crist who will be able to convince voters that the national-level wingnuts don't know what they're doing and don't care).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Night of the Undead Greedheads

Any Moderates interested in starting a Third Party? We can call the Swedes, see if we can get the franchise rights for the U.S. market from the Pirate Party...

Reason why I'm saying this is that today - Halloween, very appropriate day to do so - the official Republican candidate for the special election in New York 23rd District bowed to pressure to let the unofficial Far Right Wingnut candidate finish the race: (text bolded by me)

In recent days, polls have indicated that my chances of winning this election are not as strong as we would like them to be. The reality that I’ve come to accept is that in today’s political arena, you must be able to back up your message with money—and as I’ve been outspent on both sides, I’ve been unable to effectively address many of the charges that have been made about my record. But as I’ve said from the start of this campaign, this election is not about me, it’s about the people of this District. And, as always, today I will do what I believe serves their interests best. It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so.

I am and have always been a proud Republican. It is my hope that with my actions today, my Party will emerge stronger and our District and our nation can take an important step towards restoring the enduring strength and economic prosperity that has defined us for generations. On Election Day my name will appear on the ballot, but victory is unlikely. To those who support me – and to those who choose not to – I offer my sincerest thanks.

The official candidate - Scozzafava - had been chosen by the local party figures to fill a vacancy caused by the 23rd's Republican Congressman getting tabbed by Obama to become Secretary of the Army. For a while there the campaign was going her way. But the Far Right conservatives took one look at her - Scozzafava was as solid a Moderate Republican you can find in the Northeastern states, pro-choice and pro-gay marriage - and became revolting (yes, I pun). They pushed a more hard-line Republican, Hoffman, to run for the district on the Conservative ticket (New York politics is damn close to unique: small region parties have the power to nominate shared candidates, for one thing; for another, those regional parties have enough oomph coming from a wealthy media-rich state to campaign rather effectively for these kinds of elections).

End result: The Democrats sat pretty with their candidate Owens while the Republicans tore themselves to shreds over whom to back - Scozzafava or Hoffman.

The Far Right, pushed by the likes of Malkin and Palin and Teabagging coordinator Armey, supported Hoffman and openly derided Scozzafava as being further to the left than the Democratic candidate. The more rational leaders of the GOP - led by Gingrich, who for all his criminal hypocrisy isn't stupid and knows damn well the Republicans can't survive at 20 percent voting numbers - backed Scozzafava, arguing that “...Local people picked a local candidate (Scozzafava came in first in the balloting at the district selection)... You should call and ask them and say what’s the purity test for the governor of California? Does anyone pass the purity test? I just want to know what the test is... You are talking about a region where we currently have 3 out 39 seats in the House. Why is it that? When I (Gingrich) was Speaker we had a substantial number of seats in the region..."

But in the last few weeks, Hoffman surged, raising more funds because he ended up getting the one true support that any Republican or Conservative candidate needs in this day and age: Hoffman won the backing of the Club for Greed, and it has become increasingly clear that whomever Club for Greed wants to back and drive into ruin, then Club for Greed gets it.

What does Scozzafava's dropping out mean?

Obviously, it means that from now on, anyone not in the Democratic party wanting to run for office better start kissing the boots and asses of the Club for Greed's leadership. Past that, well... read these guys.

Andrew Sullivan (two threads):

...No one knows what might happen now. For the insurgents, it means a scalp they will surely use to purge the GOP of any further dissidence. But the insurgents were also backed by the establishment, including Tim Pawlenty, who's supposed to be the reasonable center.

What we're seeing, I suspect, is an almost classic example of a political party becoming more ideological after its defeat at the polls. in order for that ideology to win, they will also have to portray the Obama administration as so far to the left that voters have no choice but to back the Poujadists waiting in the wings. And that, of course, is what they're doing. There is a method to the Ailes-Drudge-Cheney-Rove denialism. They create reality, remember?

From the mindset of an ideologically purist base - where a moderate Republican in New York state is a "radical leftist" - this makes sense. But for all those outside the 20 percent self-identified Republican base, it looks like a mix of a purge and a clusterfuck. If Hoffman wins, and is then embraced by the GOP establishment, you have a recipe for a real nutroots take-over. This blood in the water will bring on more and more and deadlier and deadlier sharks.

...Within the GOP whatever nerve anyone had to resist the imprimatur of Erickson, Malkin, RS McCain et al is surely gone now. If a moderate cannot survive even in up-state New York, it's over.

Balloon Juice:

...Think that this one taste of blood will satisfy the birthers, supremacists and Christianist extremists who fuel the teabagging movement? Wingnut, my friends, has not yet begun to peak.

Before moving on to something else, take a moment to sympathize with coalition builders like Newt and David Frum, no doubt tearing their hair out at the runaway success of Sarah Starbursts’ insurgent crusade.

Moderate Voice (to be fair, the person posting this is NeoMugWump, so it may seem like I'm overlapping the postees which is not my intent):

I guess the message from all this is pretty simple: if one deviates one bit from the current Republican “script” they are a RINO and must be driven out. Only the “pure” can be accepted.

The sad thing is that Hoffman doesn’t even know or care about issues affecting the district he is supposed represent should he win. Scozzafava knew her district,but because of her so-called liberal stances on gay marriage and abortion she is being drummed out of the party (My EDIT: well, she's not out of the Republicans. It's just she's not going to represent like she hoped).

How Scozzafava was treated makes me wonder how long I will keep the moniker of Republican. I consider myself a pragmatic conservative and will remain one. But I am increasingly finding it hard to stay in a party that does not want me even though I agree with them on more issues than I disagree with them.

The party is headed towards destruction. I don’t know if I want to be there for the end...

The reason why I have the title of this blog "Night of the Undead Greedheads" is because I'm going to finish up with a rant against the Club for Greed, which about only 7 people will ever see. Anyway.

Here's where we are in 2009 for the Republican Party: they've just finished most of the Aught Decade (2000-2010) mostly in control of all three branches of the Federal government. They had the Gingrich/DeLay/Armey faction in charge of Congress from 1994 to 2006. They had Cheney/Bush in the White House between 2000-2008. They had a 5-4 advantage in the Supreme Court.

They spent - literally in most cases - most of their decade in power tossing money about like drunken teenagers with their parents' credit cards, racking up huge debt and deficits by adhering to a strict massive-tax-cut policy that crimped the government's ability to, you know, actually afford all Teh Crazy Sh-t they wanted to buy. Billions of dollars to the Big Pharma under the guise of Medicare reform! Billions upon billions for two wars and nation-building occupations that became quagmires far deeper and more unstable than Vietnam! Lax regulation of federal oversight of our financial institutions allowing for massive toxic funds to clog the economy! More and more Government revenue lost to such deep tax cuts that when the time came for the Feds to try and handle a massive economic collapse caused by said toxic funds there wasn't enough wriggle room to pull off anything to truly re-stabilize the nation's economy (oh, sure the banks are safe, but try telling the 27 million UNEMPLOYED that we're out of the Bush Recession).

And why was that? Why did the Republican Party, once in power, acted so irresponsible with fiscal and business policies during their rule?

Because of the likes of the Club for Growth Greed. They're not the only Far Right advocates of massive tax cuts, but they're the most noticeable. They're the ones who came up with the term RINO. They're the ones who highlight officials they call 'comrades' (ahh, that old SOCIALIST smear campaign crap) for attempting any policy or program that tries to provide public aid for people in need. They're the ones who back primary challenges against moderates or any Republican who yes raises taxes in attempts to balance the budgets and keep governments solvent, and they're the ones who prefer they LOSE the elections in order to ensure THEY remain in power among the GOP ranks, even as the Republican Party itself loses any actual voice, leadership, or effectiveness within the halls of Congress.

The Club for Greed is adamantly opposed to raising taxes, and tax hikes, ostensibly under the libertarian ideology that "government is the problem" and that people (read: Corporations) know better what to do with their hard-earned money than the government does. They're the ones who worship at the foot of the Laffer Curve: a simple Bell Curve claiming that the higher the tax rate, the less actual revenue it generates (without any actual numbers or stats to have backed it up) for the government. Of course, that Laffer Curve also demonstrated that the lower the tax rate, it also generates less revenue as well (in a perfect world according to the Laffer, the tax rate should be 50 percent!), but the Clubbers seem convinced that at the 30-35 percent tax rate we're basically at now, we're still on the HIGH end of that Curve (we're NOT).

The Club for Greed also opposed any government regulation of corporations, of the industries of high finance and banking at what not. Because, gosh, the United States always did so well when businesses were free of interference and oversight and allowed GREED to overrun our economies like in the 1920s and the 2000s. Yeah, I was in SARCASM mode that last sentence.

You would think, just getting out from under a massive economic collapse that even made Greenspan apologize, that the Club for Greed would have lost face, lost prestige, lost whatever access or connections to those in power granted them. We are right now living in a time where the Federal government is the one sure anchor we've got: 1/10 of the nation is unemployed, states are fighting to keep their budgets afloat, no one is hiring, people are on edge worried we're going to have another economic disaster around the corner because the banks and financial overlords responsible for last year's collapse are still around and getting more brazen with their tricks. This is, as any honest student of history will tell you, a time where Keynesiansim and not Randianism should be prevalent in economic/political thought. We simply can't afford to let the financial behemoths run ragged and smash everything again: We do need to raise revenue to be able to pay for the government programs that are needed to reset the engines of industry and business.

And yet, here's the tax-cutters claiming a RINO scalp that now gives the Democrats a respectable shot at securing yet another Congressional seat. The Greedhead Zombies rise from the dead.

In fact, the Club for Greed won't - CAN'T - die. For starters, they still have all the money: their deregulation/tax-cut advocacy still gets their coffers filled by those who profit literally from their defense of GREED. For another, there are enough foot soldiers within their ranks who are geniunely terrified of Socialism... despite the fact that such a threat is ludicrious (And also if they think FDR's New Deal was Socialist (they do) that shows how WRONG they are (The New Deal SAVED Capitalism: without it, the real Socialists or worse yet the Facsists would have taken over)). Such devoted, whacked-out devotees assures the Club for Greed won't fall until they themselves push their own destruction (it's called PRIDE, you GREEDHEADS, and it does come before a fall)...

So, this is what I learned a good long time ago. It's one of the reasons I gave up on the Republicans and left the Party that had already left me. It's why I still post comments on Sanders' NeoMugWump blog, wondering if he'll ever get the hint and find solace in independent voterhood.

It's also why I opened up this blog asking if anyone can help form a viable Third Party for true Moderates. Because I do geniunely think the Republicans are reflecting the path of self-destruction once mirrored by the Federalists and the Whigs. We're going to need another Party to fill the void when all the Club for Greed has left for their knee-capping efforts is 5 Senators and 29 Congressmen (no women) from Southern states... So let us now look to forming a Moderate Party, one dedicated to true political reform, sensible efforts to balance budgets including targeted tax hikes to afford needed government programs (like the military, natural disaster emergencies, public transit, effective interstate commerce, job safety, and funding of state-level programs such as education, law enforcement, and health care), and a respect for the Constitution (including recognizing the No Religious Test requirement as a means to ensure equal protection of ALL true faiths). All we really need is a Moderate with at least $300 million to spend... anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Chicken Little Scenario

Not so much along the lines of "The sky is falling" but more along the lines of "OMG the country is falling apart!"

I mean, first off, in the beginning of the year as Obama took his oath of office, we had the Drudge Report and the Wall Street Journal pick up on some obscure Russian professor predicting for the last 10 years that the United States will break apart Balkans-style by 2010. Complete with color-coded map showing just how ridiculous the idea is (Texas will join other states in seceding? HA! South Carolina in the same economic dominion as New England where there are few economic reasons and absolutely NO social and political reasons to do so? Headthump).

Then we got that jackass from NewsMax yapping about the Obama Problem and how a nice clean non-violent military coup would solve everything.

This morning I get on to view The Moderate Voice blog and the top article for the hour was this piece of hysteria titled "Could the U.S. See a Military Coup?":

...Are the nation’s fiscal, economic, military, political and social challenges
setting us up for a Military Coup? Will the U.S. Military Industrial Complex,
acting through our Joint Chiefs of Staff or some other high-level corps of U.S.
Military officers, and supported by a variety of angry business leaders and
extreme conservatives be so resentful of any changes to our national priorities
that they would encourage a complete removal of our elected civilian federal
government, save the Department of Defense?
If the President and Congress decided to actually reduce or freeze Military spending over the next 4 years in real dollars, eliminate some programs to build or acquire various types of military hardware, close more domestic and foreign bases and remove troops from Europe and Asia, and veto any escalation of and start deep reductions in our military presences in Afghanistan and Iraq, will the conservatives in our Military be outraged enough to take action? This consideration might make
President Obama a bit skittish about not following his generals’ current
recommendations to escalate our national and NATO presence in Afghanistan. His
decision on this matter and other domestic issues might be viewed as the
precipitating events for actions that could significantly alter the U.S. and
global history.
If a direct physical removal of civilian government by military force is not in the cards, perhaps some generals and strong military supporters could defeat President Obama and the Democrats in 2010 and 2012. This peaceful mechanism is constitutionally-protected and these political campaigns could be well-financed by the many large international arms manufacturers and other parts of President Eisenhower’s vast military-industrial complex...


Nearly everything in those first three paragraphs drip with paranoid freak-out crazy juice. The writer skittishly terrified that if Obama dares jump one way or another on military budget issues (that btw has already happened, anyone notice the outrage over the F-22? *cricket chirp* Thought so...) that the Far Right Wingnuts and their DoD cronies will stage a Seven Days In May takeover, or perform some underhanded vote stealing during the upcoming midterms...

Okay. Everyone take a chill pill and SETTLE. Except, I suppose, from the wingnuts who'll worry said pill is poison. Sigh.

I suppose an effort needs to be made about why there's this anxiety among the Villagers.

The most likely explanation is that all this sound and fury over possible coup attempts is that the Village (no, not THAT one) made up of the DC Beltway elites is feeling, well, unhappy and out of sorts. The Villagers - the ones who keep making all these pronouncements about this scandal and that outrage, and almost always proven wrong or uninformed about how the rest of the nation is really acting - have been spending the last nine months trying to fit the new White House regime into their perfectly easy-to-label ideological plot points, only to keep having said attempts fail. Sometimes with hilarious results. The Villagers in the media circles are watching their newspaper revenues drop to dangerous, might-be-out-of-jobs levels, all the while FOX Not-News' rating go up because they gleefully sell their Obama-Hate to those who scarf it up like candy... even as FOX Not-News gets absolutely EVERYTHING wrong to the point where any day now someone, FINALLY, will sue them for libel/defamation in an airtight case.

That link to the Digby article about Beltway elites itself links to earlier articles written back in the day when Clinton was caught in an affair with Lewinsky. And where the most outrage about it came from that Beltway circle who felt absolutely "betrayed" by a man who turned out to be doing exactly what every other guy in DC was doing (hi, Newt!). It was truly that incident where the Beltway found itself isolated from the rest of the nation: where the Villagers saw criminal action that had to be punished by their own 'righteous' anger, the rest of the country was more willing to forgive, and was actually taking the Villagers themselves to task for overhyping matters to where BLOWJOBS were impeachable offenses (forget the whole 'lying to the public' and 'lying to the civil court' issue. People in the real world know people lie about affairs, and more Americans realized the whole Paula Jones case was an excuse for a 'fishing expedition' than the Villagers did). The Villagers, for what I see, still haven't forgotten or forgiven about the Lewinsky scandal, and still can't understand why A) Clinton survived the impeachment with decent public polling, B) the nation's voters threw out more Republicans during the 1998 midterms when the Villagers believed the GOP would have gained more seats due to the scandal, and C) why people outside of their circles started tuning them out.

So you get this disconnect between the Real World and the Villager World. And inside the Villager World there's apparently truckloads of paranoia about what's going on: what they see as a massive Hate-Obama Fest when in fact it's overhyped staged events led by FOX and mere handfuls of teabaggers; military leaders that live within said Village expressing their 'disgruntled' disagreements with the White House over how to handle Afghanistan, when in fact a majority of actual troops and officers are serious about their oaths of office, will follow orders regarding Afghan/Iraq deployments, and will never engage in a coup; fears that Obama's 'socialist' agenda will anger enough rednecks to have them rioting in the streets, when in fact said rednecks are really few, not fully organized, and under better surveillance by law enforcement than the Villagers expect.

Here's the truth: Obama's polling relatively as well as any other President under these circumstances. If Obama's failing at anything it's failing to make job-creation a higher priority. The majority of Americans WANT health care reform, and there's not going to be rioting in the streets because of it (even if it fails). Our military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan currently are wobbly, at best, but everyone (even the Generals who AREN'T griping to their fellow Villagers) involved know it's not going to be solved by overreaction, flooding the war zone with more troops we barely have on hand, and prolonging quagmires that can only truly be solved by calmer, more diplomatic efforts.

We're not facing any coups. And if we were, they would be most likely carried out by fanatical misfits so completely out of tune with reality that the reaction against them would be swift, merciless, and painful for all involved.

As for the other thing, this whole 'OMG states are seceding' thing. For starters, that Russian Expert has the worst idea of how America's regions truly operate. Lemme see if I can get that map pasted here:

Like I mentioned earlier, anyone notice anything wrong with how that Russian professor thinks America will break apart?
  • For starters, he has Texas going along with other states under a 'Texas Republic' banner. Bull. Texas is large enough population-wise and economically to completely break away as its own nation-state, and in fact that's how Texas started. It didn't become a state until annexed by John Tyler (yes, that jerkoff), and that's one of the reasons why Texas has a noticeably large secession movement. And the other thing? None of those other states - I can guarantee you Florida for certain - would want to join those damn arrogant Texans in ANYTHING.
  • He's got an Atlantic-Coast merger that has South Carolina joining the New England states, mostly by his arguments for economic reasons. Um, no: there are very few economic reasons for SC to hang around with the Northeastern states (seaports/trading is the only thing I can think of). And there is no way, given South Carolina's history, that they would even consider being allied with those damn Yankees.
  • Even if we do consider that the United States could break apart due to massive economic collapse (which seems to be how he's dividing this map), the paradox is that the states right now are facing bankruptcy and near-financial collapse themselves and can't even think about removing themselves from a more solvent Federal government. Just look at California! Without that stimulus package from the Federal government earlier this year, half of the states would be completely failed right now. They'd be in no condition to attempt secessions in the first place.

The more likely scenario for secession right now is mostly social-political: if enough wingnut crazies took over any state/local governments to force the issue. If that does happen, the more likely scenarios are that:
  • The largest states - Texas obviously, California, New York and Florida next possibles - will break off to form their own nation-states. But given the current economic crisis in California, expect that state to balkanize even further into metro regions (San Francisco and the Northern Cali, Los Angeles, Orange County/San Diego, all other points in-between) due to that state's inability to resolve their tax code issues and the near-certain strife that will erupt between the DFHs and the Prop-13 worshipers.
  • The states that made up the sides of the Civil War to basically divide along the same lines, but with variations. Because New York will divide the NE corridor, the New England states will form their own coalition and forced to cater to Massachussetts' power structure. The MidAtlantic states from Pennsylvania to Virginia, or maybe even North Carolina (which may finally shake of the old political dominance of South Carolina due to their growing and more diversified population) would forge their own power structure.
  • South Carolina would probably WANT to form their own, but won't have the economic or political strength to pull it off, and will merge with George, Alabama, Mississippi and possibly Tennessee into their own group. It could well include Louisiana and Arkansas (making it, sans Florida, the SEC made political). North Carolina could join if it can't fit into the MidAtlantic structure.
  • Kentucky would most likely go with the Great Lakes states, throwing in with Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. West Virginia could go in if it feels more in common with Ohio than Pennsylvania/Maryland/Virginia, but unlikely.
  • The Midwest would comprise of Oklahoma up to the Dakotas, with Missouri added to the mix. Arkansas and Louisiana could go along with this powerset, mostly if to keep control of the Mississippi River as a trading route/source of income. This is why Arkansas and Louisiana are true wild cards in this: the Grain States and the SEC States will vie for those two unlike any other states in the potential breakup.
  • The mountain states will revolve mostly around Colorado as Denver is the most dominant metro in the region. They can pull to them Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming. Utah and Idaho, both dominated by Mormons socially and/or politically, could be part of this group but could also separate and form their own Mormon nation-state (very unlikely though). Arizona could become part of this faction, but it all depends on how Nevada reacts to California.
  • Nevada will be in a huge pickle. Their largest metro, Las Vegas, is tied to Cali as a major tourist attraction (remember all the wingnut complaints about high-speed rail between LA and Vegas?). Given the otherwise sparse nature of their state, they may be compeled to join in with California... depending on if Cali can solve their tax issues and don't fall into their own civil war. If Nevada falls in with California, so too would Arizona.
  • That leaves the Northwest. Washington and Oregon would have little choice anyway but to merge forces. Odds are very good, however, that they could pull Northern Cali to them especially if that state falls into chaos. They could also include Alaska, but don't be surprised if Alaska and Hawaii - physically separated from the continental states - go their own ways (probably the only thing that professor gets right, although Alaska would make serious efforts to come under Canada's sphere of influence to prevent the Russians from gaining influence).

Now. Take a long good look at everything I just wrote. See how I've divided things up? See how *wrong* I can be on absolutely nearly every point? And yet my reasonings/explanations/theories on secession could be just as valid as that Russian professor's... and given how Texas and South Carolina would act/react, I'm probably more accurate.

And here's the thing: I'm STILL WRONG. Secession in the United States won't happen, certainly not now: too much pride regarding the matter, for one. The historical resolution of the matter back in the 1860s, for another.

So will EVERYONE calm down? We are NOT dying as a nation. We are NOT at each others' throats no matter how much the wingnuts WANT us to be. EVERYONE CHILL!

...Yeah, I thought so...