Negative attention is still attention

by lestro

Well, the GOP’s 2012 VP nominee-in-waiting, Newt Gingrich, is out waving his arms and and yelling at the top of his lungs, hoping to draw the spotlight of relevance back to himself.

This time, he is attacking the Speaker of the House, his old post, as a “trivial politician” and saying she has disqualified herself from the office she holds.

But I am not quite sure how. Dig:

“She charged that the CIA, deliberately and as a matter of policy, violated the law by lying to Congress,” Gingrich writes in the column. “And with that allegation, Speaker Pelosi disqualified herself from the office she holds.”

“Speaker Pelosi has damaged America’s safety,” Gingrich also writes. “She’s made America less secure by sending a signal to the men and women defending our country that they can’t count on their leaders to defend them.”

The second graph is the same old bullshit song and dance the Republicans have been doing since they ran out of ideas (and hasn’t worked at all in the past two election cycles, by the way), but the first doesn’t even make sense.

I mean, if the CIA did deliberately and a matter of policy lie to Congress – and frankly, it looks like they did. Repeatedly. At the behest of the Bush Administration, which deliberately and as a matter of policy lied not only to Congress but the American people and even each other.  – then Pelosi did her duty (albeit late) in informing the public of said lies.

The problem here is not that she is accusing them of lying, but THAT THEY LIED ABOUT TORTURING PEOPLE.

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Dammit, I’ve got Congress duty

by lestro

There’s a series Rasmussen Polls out that really takes Congress – and especially the Democrats, who are trusted less every day to handle the affairs of the country – to task.

Generally speaking, Congress has a lower approval rating than the president, but since Barack Obama assumed office, this has been even more staggering.  President Obama hovers at an approval rating of about 65 percent while Congress languishes in the 20s and 30s.

Now, the language used in the questions is a bit loose and would seem to create a more wild response just by its nature, but there is no denying a few key facts:

Although an $800-billion-plus economic rescue plan has now passed both the House and Senate, the overwhelming majority of voters are not confident that Congress knows what it’s doing with regards to the economy. Fifty-eight percent (58%) agree, too, that “no matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse.”

and:

Two-thirds of the nation’s voters (69%) lack confidence that Congress knows what it is doing when it comes to addressing the country’s current economic problems. Just 29% are even somewhat confident in the legislators.

and:

When it comes to the nation’s economic issues, 67% of U.S. voters have more confidence in their own judgment than they do in the average member of Congress

but my absolute favorite bit of polling data is this:

Forty-four percent (44%) voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress, but 37% disagree. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.

Forty-four percent think that a random selection of Americans could do a better job than our elected officials. Considering that every member of the House and a third of the Senate was elected in November, I wonder why voters didn’t do a goddamn thing about it then. But no matter. Why throw the bums out when it’s easier to just complain?

Then again, everyone hates Congress but loves their own rep, I guess…

But the poll does raise the interesting specter of picking representatives like jury duty.

Imagine, checking your mail one day and getting notification from the federal government that you have been selected to serve in Congress. People would be forced to meet at the courthouse for pool selection and try to get out of having to move to DC.

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Let them filibuster

by lestro

Tonight, President Obama will take to the airwaves for his first “primetime” press conference as president. He will speak from Elk Hart, Ind., a particularly hard-hit area of a state that’s been particularly hard-hit by the ongoing economic crisis/recession.

The president will, presumably, make the case as to why the massive stimulus package, currently being held up in Congress by a bankrupt minority with no ideas, should be passed.

Here’s hoping the president dares the Republicans, whose only idea to stimulate the economy is the same bullshit battle cry of tax cuts they have been pushing for decades (despite no indication that tax cuts have EVER spurred the economy or created jobs), to filibuster the bill.  I hope he makes those bastards stand up there and explain themselves before a nation that everyday sees news reports about continuing job losses, underwhelming earnings reports and giant corporate bailouts.

Let the Republicans in the Senate explain how tax cuts create jobs, despite never having worked before; or how Obama’s tax cuts aren’t big enough despite the fact that are technically larger than anything Bush did; or how they oppose giving money to the states to prevent the states from having to cut back on essential services and jobs; or why they are opposed to spending, even though the spending creates jobs by rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Let them explain why their 42-person  minority thinks it is speaking for America, especially since the presidents approval rating hovers above 60 percent while theirs, well, doesn’t.

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Because it’s not like it’s important that the voting machines actually work

by lestro

So there still seems to be a few bugs in the software of the new electronic voting machines and no one seems to care:

Flaws in voting machines used by millions of people will not be fixed in time for the presidential election because of a government backlog in testing the machines’ hardware and software, officials say…

As a result, machine manufacturers and state election officials say states and local jurisdictions are forgoing important software modifications meant to address security and performance concerns. In some cases, election officials in need of new equipment have no choice but to buy machines that lack the current innovations and upgrades…

Officials don’t seem to be worried, since it’s not like any of the places that are having problems are, say, incredibly important swing states with big electoral college numbers or anything.

In Ohio, for example…

Dammit.

In Ohio, for example, which requires federal certification, election officials found that in this year’s presidential primary the touch-screen machines used in 43 counties, or by more than three million voters, dropped at least 1,000 votes as memory cards sent data to the central server in each county. The discrepancy was caught and corrected before final tallies were calculated, but election officials say the risk is too high. The newer software being provided by manufacturers fixes the problem, but it has not been certified, and so the state cannot use it.

Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in Ohio, plans to use a type of optical scan machine that lacks safeguards to prevent election officials from tampering with the ballots and affecting tallies, said the Ohio secretary of state, Jennifer L. Brunner. Those safeguards do exist on a later model, she said, but it remains uncertified.

Right. Because it’s not like there were any problems with vote counting in Ohio in 2004 or anything.

The reports were especially disturbing in Ohio, the critical battleground state that clinched Bush’s victory in the electoral college. Officials there purged tens of thousands of eligible voters from the rolls, neglected to process registration cards generated by Democratic voter drives, shortchanged Democratic precincts when they allocated voting machines and illegally derailed a recount that could have given Kerry the presidency.

A precinct in an evangelical church in Miami County recorded an impossibly high turnout of ninety-eight percent, while a polling place in inner-city Cleveland recorded an equally impossible turnout of only seven percent. In Warren County, GOP election officials even invented a nonexistent terrorist threat to bar the media from monitoring the official vote count.

But the problem this year is contained, right? We learned our lesson from that whole debacle, right?

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Hillary hitches her Veep wagon to McCain’s gas tax plan

by lestro

From the Times:

https://i2.wp.com/media.mcclatchydc.com/static/images/cartoons/05022008Morin-thumb.jpg

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s decision to take on members of Congress over her proposal for a federal gas tax holiday this summer -– “are they with us or against us” –- is tempting fate a bit, as she risks antagonizing uncommitted superdelegates who are members of Congress and who oppose the tax holiday.

Where have I heard that before? oh, right:

https://i1.wp.com/www.againsthillary.com/wp-content/uploads/hillarybush.jpg

“Over time it’s going to be important for nations to know they will be held accountable for inactivity,” he said. “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.”

yeah, because that’s the kind of change we need.

But beyond that, one has to wonder who the “us” is. She must mean her and McCain, right?

Since just about every newspaper and economist in the country has come out against this plan and Obama has already nixed her ‘Dream Ticket,’ I figure she’s finally officially bucking to be on the ticket with Johnny Mac.

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better late than never

by lestro

The basic idea behind the American Constitution is as simple as it is elegant: checks and balances.

It was designed to prevent any one branch from getting too carried away with itself.  Congress makes the laws, but they need the President’s stamp of approval.  The president can negotiate treaties, but the Senate approves them.  The Judiciary plays referee, and those folks get appointed and approved.

With this and the very real memory and fear of a powerful tyrant who ruled above the law, they made sure to include in the power of impeachment, for the relatively vague phrase of ‘crimes and misdemeanors.’

But a look at Federalist Paper #65, by Alexander Hamilton, provides a better idea of what they mean by that:

The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.

(the emphasis on “political” is Hamilton’s.)

Because of this, however, he also acknowledges the danger that they become “regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt.”

To help with that risk, they even split the power of impeachment again, with the House of Representatives bringing charges before the Senate, while the Chief Justice presides.

Two presidents have been impeached in our history, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.  Neither was convicted by the Senate and in both cases, the impeachment hearings were decidedly political and that, rightfully so, leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

However, the very real purpose of impeachment, the check on the consolidation of power in one branch, is not one that should so easily be tossed aside. The Democratic leadership, in a seemingly political decision, has decided to take impeachment “off the table,” as they say, despite a multitude of offenses which very easily fit the criteria Hamilton so elegantly laid out.

True, President Bush would probably not be removed from office and the whole procedure would jam up the system in a year when the focus should be on the future, not the past.  But it is nearly the responsibility of Congress to at least try to acknowledge that the President has gone too far, consolidated too much power and needs to be taken out behind the woodshed and checked and/or balanced.

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