Thursday, September 30, 2010

If Only On My Resume I Could Claim I Went To Harvard AND Yale, I'd Be President By Now

This is the candidate the Delaware Republicans decided to represent them this election cycle for the US Senate:

...Just when it seemed the story couldn't get worse for the extremist candidate, it gets worse.
[T]he claim that Christine O'Donnell studied at Oxford has now turned up on a second O'Donnell online resume, this one from ZoomInfo. [...]
This morning, the Democratic National Committee pointed out that O'Donnell is also described in a ZoomInfo entry as having achieved a "certificate" in "Post Modernism in the New Millennium" from the "University of Oxford." The Zoom Info entry was labeled, "user verified."
ZoomInfo, which has spent the day looking into this, has sent over a statement detailing what happened with this profile. According to the company, O'Donnell's profile was claimed in 2008 through something called a "double opt-in process."
The only way that resume, with its patently false claims, could have been published is by O'Donnell posting it to the site. She had plenty of opportunities to correct it, but chose to leave the falsehoods in place.
Worse, TPM found instances in which O'Donnell told similar lies on her MySpace page, 2008 campaign website, and 2006 campaign website. She included deceptive information about her education in court filings, and repeated related false claims during recent media interviews.
This wasn't a typo or sloppy word choice.
In other words, Christine O'Donnell lied, and then lied about lying...

Welcome to a political world where people have been lying for years, and have been lying for so long without consequence or accountability that blatant unprovable lies that can be easily fact-checked with a simple phone-call are routine and common.  O'Donnell doesn't even seem willing to clear the record, make a correction or admit that mistakes were made by herself: she prefers blaming others and doubling down on the lies.

At what point will someone within the Republican Party at the state or national level step in to make it clear to O'Donnell that this is too big a story to ignore or shove under the rug?  Probably never.  O'Donnell is the current darling of the wingnut division of the party, which is now pretty much 71 percent of the GOP as I type this.  The most likely end of this story is that O'Donnell is made into a martyr, gets a book deal and a FOX talk show, and makes millions on the scam she's pulling on the state of Delaware, the nation, and the whole entire planet.

There are people who try to profit on lies.  It used to be those that did were charged with fraud and imprisoned.  Today, they can win elected office and get feted for their savvy and charm.  Welcome to the World of Lies and Unaccountability.  It won't last long, and when it collapses as all false worlds do it is going to take the Real World with it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Amount of Trouble For This Entry Is Huge, But DAMMIT I Will Say This.

I mentioned elsewhere about some frustration in not getting a bus organized to travel up to the March For Jobs this Saturday. A lady had gotten a bus lined up but then people kept canceling out to where she couldn't keep the bus.  Well, that lady I mentioned, M_____ was able to wrangle FREE seats (25 dollar tip for the drivers) on another bus that had been paid for going from the Tampa area. I still say that libruls can't organize for sh-t and this was stuff that should have been taken care of months ago from a higher level and all, but at least they pulled through. Thanks, M_____!

So now the other problem rears its head.

My dad.

Dad's an old-school Republican. Proof: he still thinks Nixon didn't do anything wrong. But adding onto that is his devotion to all things Limbaugh/Beck. Beck's picked up on the event's happening and has been spending this week complaining that there are Communists leading the event (I have no doubt there are Communists showing up, but um the NAACP and ALF-CIO are the main organizers). As a result, Dad's all in a conniption about this. And mom's telling me that Dad is viewing my desire to go as a personal affront to him.

Never mind I'm 40 years old. Never mind Dad's known me to be more moderate (not librul, dad! MODERATE! You know, more letters in the word!) in my political views. Never mind my frustration at the poor job market and my wanting to contribute something, anything, to getting the word out about how bad the lack of good jobs is out here in the Real World.  Never mind this wasn't meant to be an affront to my father or my family.

If I go on the road trip, it's gonna end any relationship I might have with my dad (and in extension my mom, who I admit is caught in a bad spot).

Considering I'm unemployed, and relying on my parents to bail me out of my mortgage payments...

So I can't go. Just so Dad won't be offended. And I'll just sit there, and let Dad rant about how I need to listen to Beck more, and how I need to be like this, and that, and God knows what else.

You know, Dad? My trying to ween you off Beck? I never order you to stop listening to Beck, I *ask*, as politely as possible. When I add Frum and Friedersdorf to your web browser, I'm trying to broaden your access to conservative opinion, not narrow it. I don't want to turn you into a dirty fucking hippie, Dad, I just want you to be better informed about being a conservative.

But this? I've gotten the order, yes sir, thank you sir, may I have another sir. And if this gets back to you, sir, well then I'll just sit in my corner and sulk like I did back when I was seven years old sir. The way you slapped me and sent me to my room without supper at that age really taught me sir, yes it did sir.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Florida Ballot Amendments 2010: The Quickening

Welcome back to another installment of "We're Voting For WHAT This November?"

Linkage here to official descriptives of the amendments on the state ballot.  Linkage here to reviews, comments and truth-verification on the amendment debates.

Shall we peruse the list?  ...Peruse.  It's an SAT word.  Means "to read."  Sigh...

Amendment One: Campaign Finance Requirement Repeal.
Pretty straightfoward: It calls for a repeal of the public financing of statewide candidates who agree to spending limits.  What does it mean?
It means that, with public financing gone, any candidates for state office will become more ensnared by the need for campaigning and raising funds that will be offered up by deep pocket lobbyist groups and individual millionaires.  A more sensible approach would be to follow other reforms that would reduce outside influences of the lobbies, but hey I'm not able to bribe my local officials with $50,000 of funding so I'm just jealous of those who can.
I'd vote: Against the repeal.  It's not the solution to campaign reform we need.

Amendment Two: Military Assisted Homestead Property Tax.
This amendment creates a homestead property tax exemption to members of the United States military and  reservists who receive a Homestead exemption and who were deployed in on active duty outside the United States.  Basically, anyone who owns a house/property in Florida that gets Homesteaded and was serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or any other tour of duty on foreign soil gets a bigger exemption.
This is kind of a no-brainer: military service is one of the Big Things a good citizen does for their country.  But a lot of the soldiers and personnel who do serve have problems paying the bills just like the rest of us (some even moreso as a lot of soldiers are volunteering from low-income lives).  Giving them a tax break on home ownership can help relieve some of the pressure on our current housing woes.
I'd vote: For the Homestead exemption for the Military.  I'm not alone.  This is polling at 71 percent approval (like I said, no-brainer).

Amendment Three: Removed by court order.
It would have created bigger tax exemptions for first-time home buyers and for certain types of business properties.  People argued it would have created too many tax breaks during budgetary crises at the state, county and city levels and would have forced counties/cities to hike existing rates to unreasonable levels on those who wouldn't be covered by this amendment.
Personally, some tax breaks - like Amendment Two's - make sense.  Others don't.  This one didn't, and Thank God it's off the table.  (Note: I would not have been protected from this Homestead exemption and most likely would have seen property taxes on my place go up by 20 percent or more if this had passed).

Amendment Four: Comprehensive Land Use Plans.
Hoo boy.  This one's messy.  This one requires voter approval of any changes to local (city/county) growth-management plans.  Also known as Comprehensive plans, they're blueprints of how cities and counties plan ahead on how the communities will look (suburban neighborhood here, shopping mall there, 6-lane highway over that way, etc.).
This amendment came about because Florida has a terrible track record of sticking to any eco-friendly or sensible growth-management plans.  Businesses and developers have pretty much free reign in dealing with local governments to get their way: as a result, Florida is one of several states that overplanned suburban and condo developments.  Since the housing collapse of 2007 to current, there are virtual open lots of planned neighborhoods where nothing's been built other than unused driveways and street lamps.  (Note: I live in Pasco: I've counted about two undeveloped areas up towards Hudson, one out towards Land O' Lakes, and one huge undeveloped neighborhood south of Zephyrhills).
Arguing for this amendment, supporters claim the elected officials in charge of the growth-development too often ignore voters, and the rules for halting unplanned growth don't work. This amendment is their solution: Give residents the power to decide where and how the cities/counties will grow.
Opponents highlight that some communities already allow local residents direct vote on the plans: they also point out those communities cope with constant lawsuits fighting over the votes.  Another problem is that voters, Bless them, aren't fully informed about the benefits or detriments of any plan: after all, most of us are NOT architects or land-use experts, nor do most of us don't have business savvy to see how land could be effectively used.  For all we know, a good plan would get attacked with flimsy arguments and fall to voter ignorance: a bad plan would get sold by snake-oil salesmen and get passed that would later prove a disaster for the community left paying the bills.
I'd vote: Against this.  This one is tricky.  I hate how the developers have shredded half this state to build their fancy condos and neighborhoods.  However, I don't trust the overall common sense of the voters (these are the same idiots who voted for Rick Scott KNOWN TO HAVE COMMITTED MEDICARE FRAUD), and I fear if this passes the developers will find a way to twist this amendment to their advantage.  There's got to be a better way to end overdevelopment.  This isn't it.

Amendment Five: Fair District Boundaries - Legislative
Amendment Six: Fair District Boundaries - Congressional
These are a one-two amendment punch to the horrific gerrymandering that our state government commits every ten years to draw the state and federal congressional districts.  See, the party in charge tends to draw the districts that favor their party and their incumbents: they design districts that show a decent majority of registered voters to their party and as many of those districts as they can (example: creating fifteen Republican districts that have +2 advantages for the GOP in each district while creating three Democratic districts of +20 advantages where there were too many Democrats to feasibly carve out a Republican district).  In order to create these districts, the party in charge ignores basic boundaries such as city limits, county borders, and geographic edges such as rivers and lakes.  As a result, you can get a state Senate district that stretches between three counties and include voters that may actually conflict with each other over agriculture, schools, and development-growth.  The only uniting factor?  The majority of voters there will all vote for anyone with a (Republican) in brackets behind the name.  The final result?  Unstoppable incumbents of a political party that falsely creates a majority in office and can ignore ("The voters never notice, they just vote!") the actual needs of the citizenry.
Hence these voter-approved amendments.  They will force the state government to create voting districts for the State lege and the U.S. Congress so that the districts are equal by population density ONLY and will follow city/county and geographic borders.  There are considerations for minority representation, but the odds are if they go by population density - read urban centers - there will be enough districts for Black and Hispanic representation to fulfill civil rights obligations. 
The State lege was so terrified of these amendments passing that they attempted to insert Amendment Seven as a means to override both these if they passed.  More on that in the next entry.  Suffice to say, the powers-that-be don't like these two amendments: the PERFECT reason to VOTE FOR THEM.
I'd Vote: For both Amendment 5 AND 6.  They are both fair and just: we live in a state with 1-million MORE registered Democrats, but thanks to a Republican-controlled State legislature the districts have been drawn to favor the Republicans.  There's not even any district that's majority-No Party affiliate: I'm hoping that in districts drawn up by these amendments we can actually get a district that favors neither major party!  BWHAHAHAHAHA!  Better still, these amendments will make it harder for incumbents to dictate their favorable districts, albeit the changes that come every 10 years.  Still, anything that shakes up the incumbency is a good thing: you bastards gotta WORK for your votes...

Amendment Seven: Poison-Pill Redistricting Amendment.  Which thankfully got booted by court order.
Mentioned earlier, this was a State legislature-approved amendment designed to counter the amendments Five and Six.  While the wording of this amendment sounded similar to those other two amendments (saying that districts will not be drawn for party bias), this amendment allowed for districts to be drawn "for communities of common interest."  And what common interests would those be?  Mostly based on party platforms, a loophole to sneak in gerrymandered districts based on "common interest" and not on the needs and realities of actually communities like cities and counties.  The wording of the amendment also allowed it to trump any redistricting requirements in case either Amendments Five or Six passed.
The amendment quickly got challenged in court, where the judge noted it was confusing and held hidden objectives.  It got to the State Supreme Court where they ruled it would also counter current requirements that districts be "contiguous".  The legal system basically said it was a poorly-written and confusing law.  Neener.

Amendment Eight: Florida Class Size
Ah, the issue that won't die.  This amendment is an attempt to repeal a previous state amendment that forced school districts to cap classroom sizes to certain student counts: 18 elementary, 22 middle schoolers, 25 high schoolers.  This would end that and allow schools to set classrooms by average student counts by grade level per district (although it allows for higher caps (21, 27, 30)).  There are funding issues as well.
The short of it: implementing the classroom size limits forced districts to A) hire more teachers and support staff, B) build more schools or add on more portable classrooms, C) really hate the state voters for passing that amendment in 2002.  Given the tight budgeting problems this state's had this past decade, I would sympathize.
The proponents of this amendment claim that a study done on the state showed there's been no discernible improvement in student performances since the class limits were put in place.  Those defending the class limits point out the study was funded by a committee that has Jeb "Kill Tenure" Bush on its board.  This argument quickly falls into the He Said / He Said bickering, so lets try looking at the numbers instead.
The St. Pete Times examined the costs of this new amendment and found that by giving more flexibility with classroom sizes this could save the state $1 billion out of the $16 billion the current amendment supposedly spends.  Question there I have is, will that $1 billion still go to the schools to help fund other necessary reforms such as upgraded schools, pay performance improvements, and programs designed to help struggling kids stay in school for their degrees?
I'd Vote: This is tricky for me.  My mom was a teacher: based on her experiences griping about teaching the kids, I'd come to the conclusion that classroom sizes did make a difference.  A room of 33-40 kids sounded harder to reach than a room full of 25 kids.  There is no evidence I can find that quantity affects quality of education either way.  If there is anything with the class limit, it forces schools to hire more unqualified "teachers" than usual... but that could be countered by improving the degree programs at the state universities and colleges.  The biggest problem the schools face involve keeping the kids IN school, as well as actually getting them solid educations (the current obsession with FCAT exams are making these kids good at testing but NOT at learning or application of learning).  There's more to our education reform needs than just classroom size.  I'd have to vote against this: the state ought to look at other reforms first.

Amendment Nine: Removed by court order.
This was an amendment submitted by the Republican-controlled Legislature to override Obama's Health Care Reform bill.  The courts ruled the language in the amendment was misleading, confusing, and gave off an unpleasant odor (okay, I threw in that last bit, but trust me this thing had a partisan stench to it).

Advisory: On a Federal Balanced Budget Amendment.
This is new.  I don't recall ever voting for a non-binding referendum before.
This is merely a "question" that would be passed on to the federal level: asking Congress to pass a constitutional amendment requiring a Balanced Budget.
My personal views on this need re-stating.  In theory I like the idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment.  In practice I find the Balanced Budget Amendment is being pushed by a political party - the Republicans - who have proved on their own to be unable to stick to a balanced budget in any way shape or form.  I find that when the Republicans WERE in charge of the budget - the Bush the Lesser years between 2001 to 2006 - they spent our money like drunken teenagers with their parents' credit cards and NOT ONCE during that time did they even bring a Balanced Budget Amendment up for even a committee vote.  And now?  Now that the Democrats are in charge trying to fix the massive deficits the Republicans created... NOW the GOP wants a Balanced Budget Amendment.  The hypocrisy of it reeks!
What's worse, the Republicans' definition of "Balanced Budget" usually reads as "No taxes to pay for costs, and Cut everything we don't like."  It's their excuse to purge every social-oriented funded program - Food stamps, Unemployment benefits, Education block grants, even Social Security and Medicare - on the books.  Never mind the fact that the Republicans' plan would literally kill millions of Americans via starvation, lack of shelter, what have you.  Anything for their goddamn precious tax cuts.
I'd Vote: No on this.  Out of pure survival.  The last thing we need is any state being on record supporting a "Balanced Budget Amendment" platform that would honestly cause more damage than we need.  If I support anything it's this "Pay-Go" practice of justifying every government expense dollar-to-dollar (or close to) from existing or found revenue.  It's more a stop-gap procedure but it's better than the "Let's Balance the Budget on the Backs of the Broken" bull.

So, there you have it.  The ballot proposals for the state of Florida, 2010.  All comments to be directed below on the link that says "Leave Comment."  Or "Make a Comment."  Or "Hey!  Prove You Read This Blog By Making an Inane Comment Here!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Republicans' New Contract On America

I thought about titling this blog entry "The GOP Lemon Pledge" but dammit I think Olbermann beat me to it.

(Mixing the "Pledge to America" with the "Lemon Pledge" furniture cleaner, with the underlying pun of "Lemon" being a poorly-patched product for sale that no sane customer should ever buy.  Okay, now that's been explained...)

The recently-released "Pledge to America" by the current Republican congressional leadership is, of course, an attempt to re-capture the success of the 1994 "Contract With America."   The Contract was viewed at its release as a gimmick (The Left still considers Newt Gingrich's ploy the "Contract ON America"): however, it galvanized the GOP base and gave their congressional candidates a platform to run on.  As such, when the Republicans were victorious that midterm - winning control of both House and Senate for the first time since the early 1950s - the Contract was cited as the key to victory.

Even though half of that Contract never saw the light of day under Newt's years as House Speaker.

So... what of the Pledge?

The current Republican leadership is thinking the Pledge can replicate the earlier success.  However, there are severe problems with that Pledge:
  • It wants to extend ALL the tax cuts created under George W. Bush back in 2001-2003 to permanent status (those cuts are set to expire this January anyway).  The problem: nearly every chart graphing the massive government deficit we're living with shows that most of that deficit is caused simply by those tax cuts.  Keeping those cuts intact would simply make the deficits WORSE.
  • It wants to hold all unspent funds from the TARP stimulus package.  The problem: most of those funds have been spent out, making this an empty gesture.  Whatever IS left in the stim package could affect the states' collective budgets crises: blocking that could force local governments into drastic and destructive actions...
  • It wants to place a spending freeze on all domestic spending, except anything that would affect seniors such as Social Security and Medicare.  And also, no spending freeze on our defense budget.  The problem: The biggest spending portions of our annual federal budgets ARE the Defense, the Social Security and the Medicare, meaning this won't do anything about the biggest parts of the federal bureaucracy in the first place!  And the stuff that will get affected?  Item one: the Unemployment benefit extensions.  Item two: social programs.  Item three: pretty much everything the federal (and even states) budget provides to keep the majority of this nation out of poverty, hunger, and despair.
  • It wants to repeal the 2010 Health Care Reform bill.  The problem: The Pledge - and the GOP itself - offers no alternative to the Reform bill that would resolve the ever-growing and ever-threatening health care costs that can kill our economy within the next 10 years... if not sooner.
  • It wants to place a permanent ban on federally-funded abortions.  The problem: most Americans actually don't even consider Abortion a Top-10 Problem anymore.  If the Republicans push this, they might run into the problem that a majority of Americans may not like abortion as a practice but they want the choice of it, meaning that the GOP can and will lose even more voters in the long term.
  • It wants to place a requirement for all congressional bills to be posted online for review during a three-day period before voting.  The problem: This is the only sane thing in the bill.  The problem is that this feels like a gimmick the Republicans will easily overlook the second they seize control of the House and/or Senate this midterm.
  • It wants to make it a requirement for legislation being voted on to cite the specific constitutionality that allows the bill to be voted on in the first place.  The problem: The Republicans want to have evidence of which parts of the Constitution - the Commerce Clause, the 14th Amendment, the 4th Amendment, the 8th, the 9th, etc - they will later want removed.
  • It wants to spend millions on a missile defense system.  The problem: This is a hangover from the Cold War when we were planning to fight the likes of Soviet Russia and Red China.  Guess what?  WAR'S OVER!  Yay Capitalism!  The odds of Russia or China launching against us are remote to the point of laughable: China's not about to start a war (too much internal security issues) and Russia can't afford one.  The next closest threat to American soil - North Korea - can barely reach Alaska for any target, and they don't have enough arsenal or political backing to do anything so foolish (if North Korea DOES try to launch nukes on anybody like Japan for example, the international condemnation would be so overwhelming it would make the coalition into Afghanistan look like a autumn bake-off).  Our national threats are no longer missile launchers by air but mad bombers on the ground. We don't NEED a missile defense system anymore!  Especially one that's been proven over the years to be a massive boondoggle run by the Defense industry.
  • It wants to place a hiring freeze on federal jobs not pertaining to National Security.  The problem: WE'RE IN A RECESSION YOU GOP ASSHOLES.  A recession defined completely by the largest, and longest, unemployment crisis this nation has had since 1933!  And the Federal government ( is pretty much the ONLY institution in this jobless economy THAT'S CONSISTENTLY HIRING!  The banks aren't helping with business loans!  The private sector shows no sign of massive upticks in hiring people!  And you REPUBLICAN BASTARDS WANT TO BLOCK US UNEMPLOYED FROM GETTING ANY JOBS WITH THE GOVERNMENT?!  Dear God, if you ever deign to send me a Messenger, can you PLEASE assure me that 99.99 percent of all unemployed people are aware that the Republicans are trying to destroy us?  And that those 99.99 percent of the unemployed are registered voters who are going to vote ANYBODY BUT REPUBLICAN?  grrrrrr.

The Contract WITH America was relatively tame compared to this crap.  The Pledge is literally THE Contract ON America.  Broken down into its three basic components, the Pledge wants to extend tax cuts, curtail federal spending (that won't piss off the hawks and the elderly voters that make up the GOP base), and basically rewrite the first two years of Obama's administration.  In the particulars however lie the devil's details.  The Republicans' obsession with tax cuts will do just one thing: enlarge an already massive deficit.  Lemme add that chart showing the current deficit projections (from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities):
Everyone should look at this chart.  The big clay-brown color in the middle of the chart?  That's the deficit created by Dubya's tax cuts.  Just by themselves.  I've lived through two massive tax cuts programs: Reagan's 1981 tax cuts and Bush the Lesser's 2001-2003 tax cuts.  Both times, we were promised that A) the tax cuts would pay for themselves by generating more taxable revenue (repeat after me, wha?), B) the tax cuts would create jobs (both tax cuts were followed by massive unemployment: job creation under both Reagan and Dubya were weak compared to other administrations) and C) it would force government to cut wasteful spending (Reagan included massive military spending during his term; Dubya mismanaged two wars and signed off on GOP budgets especially a big Pharma buyout that made LBJ look like a penny-pincher).  Both times, I witnessed only one thing: MASSIVE DEFICITS.  Tax Cuts CREATE Deficits.  That's ALL they do.  That's ALL we need to know.

And yet, this Pledge by the current Republican leadership seems to continue this fantasy-based belief that Tax Cuts Can Solve All Ills.  Even AGAINST tons of evidence to the contrary (even in opposition to other governments like Great Britain, where they are facing their deficit issues with a strict program of spending cuts AND tax hikes: and that's a CONSERVATIVE-led coalition over there).

My supervisor back at my last employ kept telling me "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  The Republican party leadership is obsessed with the idea that tax cuts will work and that their plans on Social Security (kill it) and Unemployment Benefits (kill it) and Government regulatory oversight (kill everyone in mines, on oil rigs, and eating poisoned eggs) and Defense Spending (kill the rest) will create their heavenly laissez-faire utopia.  And yet each time these tax cuts don't create the Promised Results, the Republicans act all surprised and then blame it on those damn libruls who are stopping them from committing EVEN BIGGER tax cuts.  Each time a Democrat gets elected into the White House the last 20 years - first with Clinton, now with Obama - the Republicans amp up the Fear that ZOMG Commie-Hippie-Controlled Evildoer Democrats are gonna destroy this country and that we need to return the Republicans back to power so they can continue The Grand Reagan Revolution That Will Save Us All (Except for, you know, the Poor and Middle Class and Ethnic Minorities and Women Who Will ALL Be Shit Out Of Luck).

I'd said it before here and elsewhere: Utopias are flawed because their creators keep ignoring complex human conditions.  The Republican Utopia of their 100-Year Era of Reagan is flawed because tax cuts alone do not create jobs (investment in business growth does).  It is flawed because Social Security and Medicare are not massive government boondoggles (privatizing either one would actually RAISE costs of each service: and tying Social Security into risky investments like the stock markets would have literally destroyed millions whenever those markets can (and do) collapse).  It is flawed because THEY, like nearly every other human that ever lived (well, except for that one guy) are flawed.  And they won't admit it.

If we're lucky, this Pledge will backfire: already it's proving to be more gristle for the Democrats' campaigning efforts than impressing the more vocal tea-bagger crowds.

But this is a crazy midterm election, and I still can't understand why enough of my fellow voters across this nation are even giving the crazed Republican party a serious look (yes, the Democrats may be cowards, and they may be incapable of aggressive campaigning, but for the love of God they're not the ones stymieing government it's those damn Republicans!).  If the Republicans do win, there is every conceivable chance they will take this Pledge seriously.

And that would be the WORST thing the Republicans could do.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The Democratic Party has decided... rather than confront the Republicans over taxes by passing a bill to extend the current tax cuts to 98 percent of Americans while letting the tax rate for the top 2 percent revert to pre-Bush levels... well the Democrats have decided to punt the ball.  On First and Ten, for the love of God.

Just to note, one of Rove's favorite tactics was to take his candidate's weakness and attack his opponent's strength on the issue.  Make it look as though the opponent's strength was really a weakness - for example going after John Kerry's war record in 2004.  Here the Democrats could have returned the favor: attacking the Republicans on their signature issue - tax cuts - by highlighting the hypocrisy of tax cuts for the rich that created only deficits.  Instead, the Democratic leadership seems horrified by even approaching the topic: they'd rather play it safe and avoid doing anything that would give Republicans ammo for attack ads (like that's gonna stop the Republicans from mud-slinging away!).

The Democrats forgot what Harry Truman did in 1948: confronted with a Republican Congress that refused to do anything - The Republicans were waiting for Dewey to coast to victory - Truman went on the offensive and called Congress to a Special Session to resolve issues of the moment.  When the GOP sat there and did nothing, Truman used that on the campaign trail to label them a "Do-Nothing Congress."  Combined with Dewey's lax campaigning, Truman eked out one of the biggest political upsets of all time.

From Bruno Ganelli of West Wing:

"Because I'm tired of working for candidates who make me think that I should be embarrassed to believe what I believe, Sam! I'm tired of getting them elected! We all need some therapy, because somebody came along and said, "'Liberal' means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on defense, and we're gonna tax you back to the Stone Age because people shouldn't have to go to work if they don't want to!" And instead of saying, "Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun, Leave It To Beaver trip back to the Fifties...!", we cowered in the corner, and said, "Please. Don't. Hurt. Me." No more."

Well, the Democrats didn't watch as much West Wing as you'd think.  And instead of holding up a newspaper in mocking triumph, the Democrats are going to be holding up white flags crying "No Mas" and letting the Republican regain control of at least the House in 2011.  And you know that will mean...

Government shutdowns.

Obama Impeachment hearings.

Republican insistence on a tax cut program that would basically kill whatever's left of the middle class.

Nothing done to fix the Unemployment crisis.

While they won't get the Health Care Reform killed, they will subvert its' enforcement and make it as toothless as possible, meaning the potential costs and deficits controls will never happen and give Republicans the excuse that "Hey, Health Care Reform is a myth!"

Maybe 2012 is a Year of Apocalypse after all.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The March for Jobs

Someone in the Tampa Bay area finally made enough contacts with the groups organizing the One Nation Working Together's March for Jobs and has a bus scheduled for the trip to and from D.C. for the event.

Now comes the hard part: convincing my parents to babysit my kittehs while I go off to a ZOMG Socialist rally.  Dad, settle down!  Stop having a heart attack!  Yes, I know they're Socialists!  But Dad... DAD!  They're the only ones out there protesting for more jobs...!

Sigh.  And given my brother up in DC is openly Libertarian... this is gonna be a fun two weeks...

UPDATE: Well, I told my mom about the planned road trip.  Her primary concern is "watch out for trouble," and my reply is "I'm going Quaker," which is my code for "I'm going non-violent and will make sure my group goes that way too."  She seemed a bit upset that I was going, but I reminded her I do have this political bent and that I'm frustrated enough about my lack of success job-hunting to want to head up to DC to protest.  She taught history, so we debated a bit about FDR's New Deal with its four different Jobs programs which I argued helped reduce unemployment from 25 percent to 11 percent within 3 years (my math might be a little off, but that's how I remember it).  Mom, being fiscal conservative, argued that those programs increased the debt too much.  At least she and I agree on Marco Rubio being a crook and that the whole budgeting process is corrupt with lobbyists and hidden riders/bill attachments.
Good news is, they'll help watch over the kittehs and my car and help get me to the bus pick-up next Friday.  It better be next Friday.  Gotta call and make sure.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Republican Candidates of Scylla and Charybdis

Most of the news today has been about the upset victory in Delaware of a Tea Party-backed candidate (O'Donnell) over the establishment candidate (Castle) and how it has far-reaching consequences for the current Republican Party.

But it also has serious repercussions for the whole nation.

As Yglesias mentions in that link above, the political party structure in the United States is geared to two-party balance (third parties have been glorious failures at the national level: the few times there's been multi-party systems (1850s) it was a fight between one monolithic institution of the Democrats and a set of smaller remnants of the Whigs duking it out for the right to be the final challenger (which the Republicans finally earned); or a serious radical movement (1890s) where the third party Populists were consumed by the better-organized Democrats.  To quote Yglesias: "Ultimately, the two-party system operates near equilibrium, and so the internal state of both parties counts. It’s better for progressives and better for the country for Republicans to field strong, reasonable candidates."  Like it or not, we've got two parties - Democrat and Republican - and like it or not it hurts the equilibrium of the nation's politics when one party (The Republicans) are getting overwhelmed by Teh Crazies.

O'Donnell's victory is merely one of a long line of victories by the Far Right - not at the national level of creating elected leaders - over their internal party rivals of moderates and centrists that the wingnuts labeled "RINOs".  The effect is two-fold: it drives out the moderate, sensible candidate that has a good work record and a habit of, you know, actually doing stuff in office (it also takes that moderate's supporters along with him/her); and it makes it easier for the opposing party (Democrats) to field their own less-crazy candidate that tends to win and keep the now-crazed party out of actual political power.  There are exceptions, of course: Massachusetts's Sen. Brown was a Tea-Bagger candidate who won a prized seat (Ted Kennedy's old liberal lion throne)... but only because the Democrats went with one of the worst campaigners in that state's history.  The more notable examples are the Congressional campaigns of NY-23, or the fates of Lincoln Chafee and Wayne Gilchrist, or pretty much a lot of other Club for Greed failures over the past 20 years or so.

It's been written elsewhere that for the Far Right/Club for Greed/Teabagger crowd, this Pyrrhic victory/Scorched Earth practice of killing their own successful candidates and replacing them with more crazed and less electable ones is exactly what they want.  In part, they don't WANT to actually win in November - getting into office leads to the complex issue of, you know, actually doing what they pledged to do, meaning either total chaos or total destruction - they just want to seize control of the whole GOP mechanism (it's far cheaper than starting up your own third party, for example).  The other part of their ideology that WANTS to win the general elections really only wants to do so in order to prove how POPULAR (See! Real Americans ARE Right-Wing just like us!) and how RIGHT they are on their key issues (abortion, sex education, and tax cuts for the rich) which truly do fly against how the actual majority of Americans think (majorities are comfortable with abortion-with-limits, masturbation in private, and tax cuts for the middle class not the rich).  That part of the Far Right's mindset that wants to win also wants to impose their will in very scary fashions (I am not joking when I say that a Republican-controlled Congress in 2011 will start with Obama's impeachment over his Hawaiian birth certificate and go downhill from there).

Andrew Sullivan's fevered hope that a Republican win in November could be a good thing (are YOU MAD?) - "...the more anti-debt and anti-spending their rhetoric becomes and the plainer it is that serious defense and entitlement cuts are necessary for the problem to be solved, the more I'd like to see the GOP be deprived of their obstructionist no-responsibility posturing of the last two years. I'd like to see their bluff called on spending to escape the current impasse and get to a real debate rather than a phony one. If they win back the House, as it seems inevitable they will, they will have to offer something at last instead of criticizing everything in comically tired tropes and waiting for 2012..." - is one of the weaker maybe-it-won't-kill-us pleas to God I'd ever read. 

Dear Andrew: the Republicans are NOT bluffing.  Their game of Obstructionism wasn't just an attempt to force Obama's platform to be delayed or denied: it was also a genuine attempt to force Obama and the Democrats to accede to a wholly-far-right-wingnut agenda.  "Either make the laws just like we want 'em, Barack, or we vote en masse against them, and threaten filibusters in Senate on every one!  And we can get some of our Blue Dog Dem allies side with us, neener!"  Even though a vast majority of Americans voted AGAINST Republicans in 2006 and 2008, the GOP and their media allies remained sincerely convinced that the nation was still "Center-Right" and refused any sensible bipartisanship: the Republican idea of bipartisan between 2006 and now is/was "It Has to Be Republican-Approved".

Dear Andrew: your other plea - that a win in November would force the Republicans to grow up and govern - is on its face wrong, and will not happen.  If the Republicans win, it will only reinforce their beliefs that A) Americans are truly on their side (rather than disappointed with Democratic efforts or else distracted by Republican lies and fearmongering), and B) their efforts in Obstructionism works, meaning their behavior can get WORSE, and C) that they now have a mandate by the voting public to push their agenda however they see fit.  And that agenda is obvious: Drive Obama from office by any means necessary: impeachment, embarrassment, harassment, government shutdowns, whatever it takes.  Republicans are NOT interested in serious governing - read Matt Taibbi's work - they are interested in winning elections, debasing Democrats, and stealing from government coffers to make their business buddies richer.  No matter how much you want to wish it so, Andrew, if the Republicans are in control of even the House by 2011 it will be bad for the nation, bad for the world, and bad for the next decade.

As of right now, there's been a huge rift within the Republican ranks over O'Donnell's victory.  Karl Rove, of all people, had gone public with his disapproval (and is now getting flack from his once-media allies): Mitt Romney, desperate for relevancy in 2012, has come to O'Donnell's defense, and the NRSC pulled a quick 180 where they first refused to aid O'Donnell but now is sending her funds.

This is my plea to the whole nation: ARE YOU FUCKING MAD?  Stop Voting Republican.  Now and For The Next Ten Generations.  It's the only way to save ourselves from the wingnut madness.

Breitbart Delendus Est.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Supporting Crist

I know I've made earlier posts giving some praise to the man.  Here I'm making it official:

I'm supporting Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate this November 2010.

There's not much I can do in the way of financial donations (being unemployed and all).  So I am trying to find out if there's volunteer time I can provide.  For the seven people reading this blog, if you've got some funds handy and want to piss off the Wingnut Republicans, here's your chance.  Click the link above.  I'll be adding the Crist website to my links on the right.

P.S. Go Gators!  Go Bucs!  Go Bulls!  Go Rays!  Go Spongers (Tarpon High)!