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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Am I missing the joke?

by lestro

I mean, this is funny and all, but I don’t get it:

“As a black, Roman Catholic conservative from Washington D.C. and Maryland, I know how to lose elections,” said Michael S. Steele today in Virginia. His audience, a gathering of House Republicans, knows all too well, too. But now, he said, as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, “I’m in the business of winning elections.”

He somehow thinks that joining the RNC as its leader puts him in the business of winning elections? Haven’t they gotten HOUSED in the past couple of major election cycles? Like, beaten so badly people are wondering if the Republicans can come back?

How is that the business of winning elections?

Then again, swinging bullshit like this, maybe Steele is in the right place:

“Now my mom was a sharecropper’s daughter, with a fifth grade education,” he said. Referring to Democrats, he went on, “If my mom knew how to balance the budget, I’m sure the rest of the folks out here on the other side should know how to do that as well.”

Because any idiot can tell you the last president to balance a budget was Clinton and that the two largest periods EVER in debt growth and deficit spending occurred during the reign of George W. Bush and his hero, Ronnie Reagan, who also left the country floundering toward a recession thanks to spending money like drunken monkeys and cutting revenues at the same time.

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The President said it

by lestro

and I hope they hold him to it.

Yesterday in his interview with Matt Lauer (which was actually quite an enjoyable pre-Super Bowl interview, with questions ranging from domestic and foreign policy to the game to family and back again; though still no word on the dog…), President Obama made a point of saying the stimulus package must be, well, a stimulus package and nothing more:

But Obama acknowledged Republicans’ concerns and said he was eager to incorporate their suggestions “because they had some good ideas,” adding “we’re going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now.”

A few pork-ish items have already been pulled from the House bill, though that didn’t stop every single Republican from refusing bipartisanship (which has been the Republican way for about a decade now) and casting a lockstep ideological vote that only emphasizes the hypocrisy they now face, considering their last eight years.

More remains to be pulled from the bill, which is currently approaching $900 billion. But not one Republican? 

That’s not to say that the items the Dems are trying to stuff in aren’t important, just that they should be discussed elsewhere than in this particular piece of legislation.

Democrats need to be grown-ups and make this bill about the economy.

Republicans just need to grow up and learn to compromise and to back off ideas that have done nothing but fail for 30 years (i.e., tax cuts and obstructionism)…

America the purple

by twit

via Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan, “a cartogram, a map in which the sizes of states are rescaled according to their population.”

Here is what the normal [county-level election returns] map looks like if you [use red, blue, and shades of purple in between to indicate percentages of votes]:

And here’s what the cartogram looks like:

As this map makes clear, large portions of the country are quite evenly divided, appearing in various shades of purple, although a number of strongly Democratic (blue) areas are visible too, mostly in the larger cities. There are also some strongly Republican areas, but most of them have relatively small populations and hence appear quite small on this map.

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It’s easier to be happy when you are rich and ignore reality

by lestro

That’s our lesson today kids, brought to you by the letter “R”

The pollsters were in the field asking about happiness this month, a period when economic news was gloomy for everybody and presidential campaign news seemed especially baleful for Republicans. Yet they found 37 percent of Republicans are “very happy,” compared with 25 percent of Democrats; 51 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats are “pretty happy”; and 9 percent of Republicans are “not too happy,” compared with 20 percent of Democrats.

The partisan happiness gap — unbroken for nearly four decades — is impervious to electoral ups and downs. It has something to do with worldview.

Right, because a world view in which you refuse to let facts get in the way of belief is like the Land of Make Believe (plus, the party leader is an obvious puppet…) where everything goes your way and reality never gets in the way of a good story.

But seriously, says Lehane, if Republicans are more happy, it’s because they care less.

“The typical Republican is happy coming home to a 62-inch television, pulling out a fine bottle of cognac or Scotch, putting his feet on the table and enjoying the fruits of his labor, but not caring what’s going on in the world outside their living room . . . and their gated community.”

Government-funded researchers identified the happiness gap in 1972. Since then, the Democrats have been comparatively more bummed out not just during the tenures of GOP presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush. They were noticeably less joyful than Republicans even during the GOP fiasco of Watergate, and during the Democratic Carter and Clinton administrations.

Not to mention the money. It’s a lot easier to be happy when you are loaded.

What’s the Republicans’ secret to feeling groovy?

“They have more money,” Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Social & Demographic Trends project, writes in the new report. “They have more friends. They are more religious. They are healthier. They are more likely to be married. They like their communities better. They like their jobs more. They are more satisfied with their family life. They like the weather better.”

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The exorcism of voodoo economics

by lestro

Why do Republicans seem to think that they best know how to run the economy when every indicator says otherwise?

The stark contrast between the whiz-bang Clinton years and the dreary Bush years is familiar because it is so recent. But while it is extreme, it is not atypical. Data for the whole period from 1948 to 2007, during which Republicans occupied the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 26, show average annual growth of real gross national product of 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats.

That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut.

But it’s not just growth. The whole idea of “trickle down” (or as George H.W. Bush famously dubbed it, “voodoo economics”) has been proven a sham both in practice and now on paper:

Professor Bartels unearths a stunning statistical regularity: Over the entire 60-year period, income inequality trended substantially upward under Republican presidents but slightly downward under Democrats, thus accounting for the widening income gaps over all.

Or in more basic terms:

It shows that when Democrats were in the White House, lower-income families experienced slightly faster income growth than higher-income families — which means that incomes were equalizing.

In stark contrast, it also shows much faster income growth for the better-off when Republicans were in the White House — thus widening the gap in income.

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on God’s vote

by lestro

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and again after Hurricane Katrina, the right-wing evangelical fundamentalist establishment leaders said – both times – that each one was the result of God’s wrath  because of the acceptance of homosexuals as human beings.

Then they attacked the center and left for “blaming America first” for the September 11 attacks, when non-Republicans the country over said, “whoa, whoa, whoa.  Why did they attack us?  They say it’s because of our foreign policy? hmm. maybe we should look at that…” (by the way, the President immediately and quietly met a handful of Al Qaida’s demands, like, say, pulling troops out of Saudi Arabia…)

They won a presidential election doing that.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, most people realized that it could not be blamed on Democrats (though I am sure they tried to find a way…), but it didn’t stop the right wing from blaming the gays and the loose morals of the left.

They lost the Senate and the House doing that.

But really, if God does control the weather (and why wouldn’t he, really? After all, if he is omnipotent enough to answer that prayer about a winning season for the Red Sox or help you find your car keys, certainly he’s omnipotent enough to wing a few storms around), I don’t think he is voting Republican this year.

Twice this year, hurricanes have completely disrupted major McCain events, but the weather has completely favored Obama events.

Think about it. Back in July, on Obama’s World Tour, while he was speaking on a gorgeous day in Berlin, John McCain had to cancel his big photo op and front page grab on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico because a hurricane rolled through.

Now, after Obama held an outdoor rally in front of 84,000 people on a beautiful summer night in Denver, all the talk is about Hurricane Gustav and its potential Category 5 impact on the Louisiana coast almost three years to the day that Katrina laid bare once and for all the incompetence of the Bush Administration.

I mean, I may not be one to believe that an all-powerful being gets His jollies punishing those He is supposed to love and favor.

But if I did, I would certainly not find it surprising at all that the God who teaches “love thy neighbor” (and built his name on forgiveness and opposes adultery and divorce and talks about “thou shalt not kill” and the “meek” inheriting the earth and all that) would be trying to slow the run of a warmongering lifelong military man who sings ‘bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb iran’ and divorced the seriously injured wife that waited for him while he was a POW for a woman he calls a cunt.

Because as near as I can tell from the Bible, He hates those things.

Bubba-licious

by lestro

Yesterday was an amazing day in the history of the United States of America. Yesterday we witnessed something that was almost beyond words, a stirring, amazing scene that reminds us of the possibilities and hope of this country; Something that defies history and flies in the face of common wisdom; Something momentous and generation defining; Something many of us never thought we’d see in our lifetime.

Yeah, the Democrats nominated a black guy as their candidate, but that doesn’t surprise me one bit, as it has been the only rational option for more than a year now.

What I am talking about is the even more amazing, more groundbreaking, more alert-the-media surprise moment of history: Bubba passed the torch. And sounded like he meant it.

Wednesday night saw an emotional and stirring Democratic Convention that featured Hillary Clinton herself moving for the acceptance by acclamation the nomination of Barack Obama (a move that sent Pelosi scrambling to the podium so fast you’d think they offered free botox to the first one at the mic, launched the O’Jay’s “Love Train” from the speakers (love that Philly Soul!) and set off a massive, hand-holding celebration that put her words from the night before into reality), John Kerry reminding the Democrats why he lost, vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden giving an emotional telling of his amazing life’s story, a plea to the middle class and openly attacking the Republicans, followed by a surprise appearance by the candidate himself, who ad libbed a few shout-outs to the other speakers.

But the night belonged to Bubba. The former president and Democratic Top Dog took the stage to Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop,” (his campaign theme that not only carried him to the White House, but convinced the band to get back together) garnered a hero’s welcome that had him asking the jubilant and adoring crowd to settle so they wouldn’t take all his time and then delivered the kind of talk that made his name: a brilliant, soaring bit of oratory that not only framed the entire election, but answered almost every question the Clintons raised but Hillary failed to answer the night before.

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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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The Clintons begin work for the GOP

by twit

Thank goodness Bill and Hillary have shot their credibility to shit, but this video is still a tripped out exploration of the kind of damage that the Clinton campaign has managed to accomplish.

Via McClatchy on June 4, 2008:

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no Democrat has won a majority of the “white vote” since 1964

by twit

http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:JwIefLtY-O17yM:http://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/23/A70-11871

I must be some kind of a twit. I had no idea that “no Democrat has won a majority of the white vote since Lyndon Johnson did in 1964.”

It definitely provides a little perspective to the rest of the McClatchy article, which wonders on April 23, 2008,Would Obama have a chance at a majority of white votes in the fall?

and notes this:

One Obama supporter who’s navigated racial politics for years thinks he will, and that even if he loses some white votes to racist sentiments, he’ll win other whites eager to vote for an African-American.

“There may be some folks who vote against him because he’s black and some who vote for him because he’s black. I think they cancel each other out,” said Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the Democratic Party in South Carolina.

“There will be people who wouldn’t vote for a black man come hell or high water. But we’re getting to the point where that is a minority.”

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Obituary for the Clinton Campaign

by twit

Ramussen reports on Feb 14, 2008 that Obama is polling as the favorite for the Democratic nomination and the general election.

… Obama is the most popular candidate at the moment, viewed favorably by 55% and unfavorably by 43%.

Clinton is viewed favorably by 44% of Likely Voters nationwide, unfavorably by 53%.

McCain’s is viewed favorably by 50% and unfavorably by 47%.

Opinions about Clinton are more strongly held than opinions about either Obama or McCain.

While Hillary’s shining personality may be a key factor in the stumbling failures of her campaign, there are also reports of massive planning failures within the campaign itself. From the New York Times on Feb 14, 2008:

She and her team showered so much money, attention and other resources on … Feb. 5 that they have been caught flat-footed — or worse — in the critical contests that followed, her political advisers said.

She also made a strategic decision to skip several small states holding caucuses, states where Mr. Obama scored big victories, accumulating delegates and, possibly, momentum.

Her heavy spending and relatively modest fund-raising in January compounded the problems, leaving the campaign ill-equipped to plan after Feb. 5, advisers and donors say.

The Clinton campaign appears to be working from a playbook that reads like a strange blend of the Bush “Mission Accomplished” strategy and the Guiliani “New York and Florida” death-rattle. Focus on the big states, ignore the rest, and expect that it will be smooth sailing to the coronation nomination, because Hillary will be greeted as a liberator, of course.

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Once you vote black you’ll never go back?

by lestro

With two pretty evenly-matched candidates, the Democratic race seems to hinge, for a lot of people, on the idea of “electability,” the mirage that even though you like one candidate, you can’t vote for them because the other candidate is more likely to win.

It’s what killed the spark and energy of Howard Dean, favoring the middle-of-the-road blandness of John Kerry. And now it has many voters picking Clinton over Obama.

There are many ways electabilty is measured, but one of the most fun ways is money and if that is any indication, the most electable candidate, by a long shot, is Obama.

This is from today’s NYT piece about Washington being the “contest du jour”:

“On Friday morning, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers fought back against impressions that the campaign was short on cash…”

That’s a pretty Clintonian spin on things and not entirely accurate.

I mean, it’s not the impression that the campaign is short of cash. It WAS short of cash, which is why the candidate had to loan herself $5 MILLION.

Campaigns that are not short of cash do not have to take out loans. and even if they did collect $10 million so far in February, that’s really only $5 million because they have to payback the Clintons, right?

Beyond that, $5 million is more than half as much as the Huckabee campaign has spent in total. Hillary has spent more than $100 million to try and convince us she’s the candidate, and the only people who are listening seem to be the same Democratic Party Establishment Elites and Old Guard that make up the 49 percent of democratic primary voters.

And if that’s a problem now, it’s going to be a real bitch in the general election.

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