Category - USA: Campaign 2010

Why Dems Lose Midterms

The preliminary numbers are in, and voter turnout was at a record low nationwide.

Conventional wisdom says that each party, Republican and Democrat, can count on roughly 45% of the vote, no matter what. The last ten percent is what you need to win an election.

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Round Two

So the Teabaggers have another chance to pick off a few incumbent Republicans that they deem as too cozy with Obama.

What?

Voters head to the polls today in six states to cast ballots in a the latest round of primary and runoff elections in the heart of nominating season. The marquee congressional contest is in South Carolina, where there is really only one number on the mind of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R): 50 percent.

Fifty percent would mean Graham can avoid a runoff. His numbers hover just below that mark, a sign of voter anger (and let’s face it, apathy) over Congress.

Also in the spotlight today, Eric Cantor also faces a must-win situation, which is very likely, but the margin of victory will be closely watched for keys to Teabagger frustration with his performance these past two years. If he comes in under 20%, it could stoke the fires for further Teabagger unrest.

The really interesting race is out in Nevada, where the Lieutenant Governor’s spot is up for grabs. If a Democrat – in this instance, Lucy Flores – wins the general election, Governor Brian Sandoval may have to postpone his attempt to win Harry Reid’s seat, as the governor’s office would flip parties. Sandoval has to count on the lesser of two evils to win the Republican primary today, in order for Flores to face a real challenger in November.

As noted earlier this year, the Teabagger influence in elections is waning, and this is most notable in this primary season: Primaries are where hardcore voters turn out, and the numbers of overall votes are lower, reinforcing the influence a voting bloc may have.

By blowing up early this year, the Teabaggers have pretty much slid into obscurity. It will be a long time before Republicans have any influence in the nation.

Used Teabags

I wrote a few weeks ago that the Tea Party was a drying wart on the American political landscape, a view cinched last night:

FORTUNE — Tactically, the Republican establishment is routing the Tea Party. The insurgency’s backslide has been apparent all year, as its handpicked challengers to GOP incumbents failed to gain traction, groups representing it in Washington overreached, and the deficit concerns stoking its base waned. But yesterday, the “backslide” slid right back off a cliff. Tea Party-backed candidates in three key primary races suffered decisive losses in Kentucky, Georgia, and Idaho.

With the handwriting on the wall, deep-pocketed conservative sponsors huddled last Thursday and stewed over how to force the GOP to double down on hard-right policy positions. Those include opposition to a big immigration deal, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights — issues toxic to the imperative of broadening the party’s demographic coalition. But the movement’s electoral drubbing suggests its grip on the Republican agenda may finally be breaking.

The question is what will replace it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the big victors in yesterday’s contests, was explicit with Fortune earlier this year that Senate Republicans will not unify behind a governing vision before the November midterms. And even if a more moderate brand of Republicanism is ascendant, the term itself remains relative — and murky.

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Pass The Popcorn

Oh boy, this is going to be great!

“There is now an out in the open civil war within the Republican Party,” conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace wrote in a Politico op-ed this week.

He’s right.

Karl Rove has launched a new group, the Conservative Victory Project, which will aim to select GOP Senate candidates, weeding out future Todd Akins and squashing the prospects of anyone deemed unelectable.

It’s not sitting well with conservatives. Its first purported opponent is Steve King, a very conservative congressman with a history of colorful comments, who may be considering a run for Senate in Iowa.

After pantheon of Tea Party campaign groups (The Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and Tea Party Express) bashed the new effort, on Wednesday a cluster of conservative leaders demanded the new organization fire its spokesman, Jonathan Collegio, for calling Brent Bozell, a pundit who runs the conservative Media Research Center, a “hater” in a recent radio interview. Collegio had alleged that Bozell, a critic, has an ax to grind against Rove.

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Documents Found In Meth House Bare Inner Workings Of Dark Money Group

ProPublica/Frontline, By Kim Barker, ProPublica, and Rick Young & Emma Schwartz, Frontline, October 29

This post was co-published with PBS’ Frontline.

The boxes landed in the office of Montana investigators in March 2011.

Found in a meth house in Colorado, they were somewhat of a mystery, holding files on 23 conservative candidates in state races in Montana. They were filled with candidate surveys and mailers that said they were paid for by campaigns, and fliers and bank records from outside spending groups. One folder was labeled “Montana $ Bomb.” Read More

Damn, That Man Gives A Good Speech

Barack Obama is such a fine orator I usually prefer to read his speeches so I can analyze them without being swayed by his delivery, here’s the text if you’re so inclined but tonight I watched it live. I thought it wasn’t his best speech ever, but far from his worst too. The last five minutes especially I found myself nodding and smiling – an almost MLK cadence and a “ask what you can do for your country” message made the man sound like the democratic socialist firebrand I wish he was.

Still, my red lines are my red lines and I cannot in all conscience support him. That’s not to say I don’t understand why others would wish to and it’s not to say that I’m coming over all Nader and telling others they shouldn’t vote for Obama. My red lines are my own – your mileage may vary.

I watched Biden too and, too bad for them, no Dem Eastwood for Republicans to gloat over, just another good workmanlike speech containing some good soundbites. Romney and Ryan must be worried – they’re going to get destroyed in the debates.
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Why the F*CK Didn't You, Madame Speaker?

(ed. note & warning: Please pardon the colorful language, but in context, it seems appropriate.)

“I could have arrested Karl Rove on any given day,” Pelosi said to laughter, during a sit-down with reporters. “I’m not kidding. There’s a prison here in the Capitol … If we had spotted him in the Capitol, we could have arrested him.”

You mean like so many on the left asked? Begged? Pleaded? Why not?

“It doesn’t serve our country, and it undermines the true purpose of contempt of Congress.”

Get the fuck out of here. No, seriously, GTFO! When are the Democrats going to get it through their thick skulls that the only way they’re ever going to right the ship of state and get to a place where Republicans are willing to be flexible and negotiate is to smack the fucks on the snout with a 2×4?

If the Teabagger movement tells us anything, it’s that Republicans are not only perfectly willing and capable, but seem to enjoy sinking into the gutter in order to stop this nation from doing, well, anything except a war that Republicans themselves declare (else why the argument over Libya?)

The Democrats are the human in the middle of a pack of rampaging junkyard dogs and you know how you beat down a pack of junkyard dogs? You don’t try to soothe them or bribe them: you take the lead dog, and crack him across the nose to show him who is boss.

Arresting, even just arresting, Karl Rove would have gone a long way to making the GOP realize you’re serious and to be taken seriously.

My God, woman, these are the thieves and crooks who stole elections, raped our nation, destroyed her good name and credit both domestically and internationally, Murdered thousands of our young men and women for wars that had no point and no end, and plundered the values of our homes! Fuck “contempt of Congress,” they are traitorous, murderous slimy bastards who if we had a Bastille and guillotine would be lined up at La Barrière!!

Arresting Karl Rove would have been, as they say, a nice first step.

How much different would the first four years of the Obama administration have been if, say, you had on January 1, 2007, slammed your gavel down and said “I will entertain a bill from Congressman Kucinich authorizing an investigation into a bill of war crime charges against officials of this Administration”? Or criminal negligence for ignoring the urgent warnings surrounding 9-11? Or hell, any number of things including charges of voter caging in 2004 or rigged elections in 2000?

I can tell you this much: Karl Rove would have spent the last six years running and hiding and spending money on lawyers and not building a superPAC war chest (after persuading five SCOTUS justices to pervert the First Amendment) to try to get the HNIC out of the White House. The Republicans would have thought twice before raising the birther issue, or banning abortions, or passing “Stand Your Ground” laws.

They would have respected you. Yes, they would have worked overtime to get rid of you, to take Congress over anyway, but guess what? It happened, despite your gestures of conciliation. You know who else reconciled with a tyrant hell-bent on destroying nations?

“Peace in our time,” my lily-white ass!

Run Away To Fight Again Another Day

So FEMA wasn’t in any real danger of running out of funds, apparently.

Interesting. So what possible purpose was served by introducing this bill and making a stink over it?

There’s only one answer that makes sense. This is “another day.”

Finally.

You noted over the weekend that Barack Obama stepped up his rhetoric about the Republican presidential contenders. He also took a hunk out of his base’s complacency, too, and in the one forum he could do it where he knew he’d get unconditional support: at the Congressional Black Caucus conference.

Bear with me a moment, before you jump ugly. Let’s take the attack on his supporters first.

President Obama said, “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” he said, his voice rising as applause and cheers mounted. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

He intended for it to get out to a larger audience, which is why I think his language was so raw and his delivery so…street. It was a brilliant piece of political theatre. It pissed the left off (except me, who was expecting it at some point) but it also reminded us that he is alone down there, save for Harry Reid’s Senators, in terms of the chess pieces he can play. Say what you will about opportunities squandered, this is the world we live in now, and we need to do something.

People got pissed about this, thinking it was a campaign strategy. And to a degree, a large degree, it is. But…

It’s also a call to action for the immediate battle he’s about to engage with Republicans in Congress. I expect we’ll see a far more combative President in the coming weeks and months, calling out Congress even as his agenda sits still in the hoppers of the House. And therein lies the battle.

As it was with the FEMA bill, this speech, which also highlighted the grotesqueries of the Republican audiences at the recent debates, as well as the shortcomings of some of the candidates, was designed to elicit a response from the GOP in the legislature as well as on the campaign trail.

He’s picking his fights, in other words. He’s drawing out boundaries of his re-election campaign, true, but he’s also highlighting the legislative weaknesses of a party who grabbed the House back with a promise to lower taxes, cut spending, and generally muck the nation up.

And he’s showing to what extremes these folks are willing to go. It may look like the President and the Dems have blinked, but in point of fact, the Republicans have glared menacingly into the camera.

And cameras never blink.

Next up will be Obama’s jobs plan. You may recall that speech. In effect, he put a wooden board on his shoulder and dared the GOP to knock it off. Sure enough, that bill has languished in the hopper as Republican after Republican has chided the bill as something other than what it is: an attempt to get 14 million people back to work and soon.

His cutting edge line was “Americans can’t wait 14 months,” a direct slash at people like Mitch McConnell, who insisted that no legislation will ever be passed so that Obama will be a one-term President. As much as people may dislike Obama, for whatever reason, he has the ring of truth on his side in this one. There are 14 million people out of work who can’t afford to wait until the Republicans concede they can’t beat the President head-to-head and so give in on the jobs bill. They need help now, and every one of those people knows enough people who are on the fence about 2012 that they will influence their votes greatly.

I mean, really, who would you vote for? The guy who made an honest and concerted effort to lead the nation out of this depression it’s in, or the asshat who sat by his pool, sipping martinis?

The gloves are off. It’s about time.

"Dick" Shelby

You know, in the time of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression…and one that is in danger of actually collapsing even further than that one…you’d think we’d want the best and the brightest minds overseeing our recovery.

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama (Republican, natch) does not.

In April 2010, President Obama nominated me to be one of the seven governors of the Fed. He renominated me in September, and again in January, after Senate Republicans blocked a floor vote on my confirmation. When the Senate Banking Committee took up my nomination in July and again in November, three Republican senators voted for me each time. But the third time around, the Republicans on the committee voted in lockstep against my appointment, making it extremely unlikely that the opposition to a full Senate vote can be overcome. It is time for me to withdraw, as I plan to inform the White House.

The leading opponent to my appointment, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the committee, has questioned the relevance of my expertise. ”œDoes Dr. Diamond have any experience in conducting monetary policy? No,” he said in March. ”œHis academic work has been on pensions and labor market theory.”

But understanding the labor market ”” and the process by which workers and jobs come together and separate ”” is critical to devising an effective monetary policy. The financial crisis has led to continuing high unemployment. The Fed has to properly assess the nature of that unemployment to be able to lower it as much as possible while avoiding inflation. If much of the unemployment is related to the business cycle ”” caused by a lack of adequate demand ”” the Fed can act to reduce it without touching off inflation. If instead the unemployment is primarily structural ”” caused by mismatches between the skills that companies need and the skills that workers have ”” aggressive Fed action to reduce it could be misguided.

So I’m thinking, “Hmmmmmmmm, here’s a guy who would bring a fresh perspective to the Federal Reserve Board. Someone who wasn’t a bankster. Someone who had a grip on what it’s like to actually be a tax-paying worker bee in the Great Transfer Of Wealth that is the American capitalist system.

But Dick thinks differently, you see. Dick believes that someone who can actually bring to the Board a fresh perspective might somehow damage his dry cleaning empire (not a joke). Or that somehow stopping a Fed nomination would force the White House to pony up for a couple of pork barrel projects for his district, like an unneeded refueling aircraft or an FBI counterterrorism center located in that bustling hive of terror targets, Alabama (except maybe Huntsville, which is military anyway, and not in need of much protection).

No, Dick believes in the antiBenthamian credo of the needs of the few override the needs of everyone. I’m not suggesting that Dr. Diamond is the nation’s economic salvation, no, but he certainly could help the Fed break out of the morass of bureacratic concrete thinking that it’s currently invested in, and let a little fresh air into the Board room.

Dick would rather game theory our lives.

Take His Advice, Mr. President

First, why is Paul Krugman not Secretary of tyhe Treasury or at least the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors?

Second, he’s right. The gloves have to come off now:

Which brings me to those calls for a bipartisan solution. Sorry to be cynical, but right now ”œbipartisan” is usually code for assembling some conservative Democrats and ultraconservative Republicans ”” all of them with close ties to the wealthy, and many who are wealthy themselves ”” and having them proclaim that low taxes on high incomes and drastic cuts in social insurance are the only possible solution.

This would be a corrupt, undemocratic way to make decisions about the shape of our society even if those involved really were wise men with a deep grasp of the issues. It’s much worse when many of those at the table are the sort of people who solicit and believe the kind of policy analyses that the Heritage Foundation supplies.

So let’s not be civil. Instead, let’s have a frank discussion of our differences. In particular, if Democrats believe that Republicans are talking cruel nonsense, they should say so ”” and take their case to the voters.

As Krugman points out, the GOP last year ran on a platform that included a scare to seniors about Medicare and how healthcare reform would decimate that program, effectively making Medicare reform a shibboleth.

Their budget proposal cuts Medicare even deeper than the worst-case scenario they painted during the 2010 campaign. How is this meant to be a compromise? How is this meant to be civil? And yet, when President Obama correctly points out that distinction in this year’s rhetoric (“New Teabager”) versus “Teabagger Classic,” he’s accused of being hyperpartisan.

I presume had he been white, they would have claimed he declared class warfare, but even they aren’t stupid enough to fall into that trap.

The Republican budget IS cruel nonsense because it ignores completely the other way of balancing a budget.

If you’re running up your credit card bills, it makes sense to cut back your spending, and to keep a close eye across your budget. Yes, there are things you have to pay: mortgages, as an example, fixed outlays that are difficult to reduce (you can refinance, if you can find a bankster who’s not too busy counting his record profits after coming to you hat in hand for a bailout last year), but the things you don’t need to pay, like gasoline, you find ways to reduce. You drive less, you search for cheaper gas.

But you also, and no one can deny this, look for ways to increase your income, at least until you’ve got your feet squarely under you again. You take a second job, maybe, as a last resort, or you hold a garage sale or auction junk off on eBay.

You do this so you don’t have to starve and eat the family cat, which is essentially what Repbulicans are insisting the American people, particularly the poor, do so that those bankers can sit and count their profits.

And they need to be called on it.

Blowback

The fallout from Coward James O’Keefe’s latest stunt is starting to build.

I mean, it’s hard to add to Glenn Beck’s deconstruction…yes, Glenn Beck…of the 11 minute faux NPR sting that O’Keefe cobbled together out of two hours of tape. I’m surprised O’Keefe is still standing and not curled up in some corner, sucking his thumb.

Comes now Time Magazine:

In the video, NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller and a colleague met with two members of a fictional Muslim group dangling a $5 million donation. Prodded by the “donors,” Schiller said liberals “might be more educated” than conservatives, described Republicans as “anti-intellectual” and said the GOP had been “hijacked” by the “racist” Tea Party.

Or did he? After the tape became national news, and after NPR hastily sacrificed its CEO to appease critics, a video editor at the Blaze””a website founded by Fox News host Glenn Beck””compared the edited sting video and the two-hour original, also posted online.

Schiller did say some bad things, the Blaze found. But the short video took them out of context, like a bad reality show, and made them sound worse. It transposed remarks from a different part of the meeting to make it seem as if Schiller were amused by the group’s “goal” of spreading Shari’a law. It left examples of his complimenting Republicans on the cutting-room floor.

And that Tea Party quote? Schiller was, for at least part of it, describing the views of some Republican friends.

This article will appear in this week’s Time, on newsstands tomorrow. This will be the first many Americans even hear of the tape, aside from some watercooler and barroom bullshit their Teabagger friends have railed at them.

This is not good news for O’Keefe, his bear…I mean, mentor…Andrew Breitbart, the Teabaggers, or the GOP in Congress who are trying to cut NPR funding.

Amen. They all deserve to be kicked down a metaphorical flight of stairs.

Or for FOX News, either. Eventually, as Barnum would say, you can’t fool some of the people all of the time if you keep fooling them and they find out about it. Barnum’s greatest skill was not in the illusion, but in the escape. He left town (sometimes on a rail) before people realized they had been had.

Good snake-oil salesmen do that. Take the money and run, because if they catch up with you, they’ll tear you limb from limb. You can take a little from a lot of people and they won’t be bothered to track you down, but take a lot, especially over time, from people, and they form posses.

Keep running, O’Keefe. Keep running.

Somehow I doubt he’s that smart, though.

Wisconsin Has The Stench of Dairy Air

So….it goes.

On the one hand, I’m kind of glad the Republicans were dopey enough to decouple this provision from the overall budget bill and force an up or down vote on it. Now we know precisely who to put up against the wall and shoot.

Electorally speaking, of course.

On the other hand, the foul stench of cowward-shit permeates the air over Wisconsin like the stench of stale vomit after a Packers’ game.

By the way, FreeSpeechTV has a live feed of the crowded capitol building in Madison. While you’re there, throw them a buck or two in thanks.

Here’s what I recommend the activists in Wisconsin do: there’s no point in picketing Walker’s office. Or his house. Or the Koch Brothers.

What needs to be done is to disrupt smaller-yet-important donors to the Republicans in the legislature: set up picket lines in front of the banks and corporations, find the houses of the managers of those firms and start disrupting their private lives. Make it hell to get to the car or the garage or the dry cleaner. Follow them around, bullhorns loud and proud and ready. Make their neighbors hate them.

Unions fought hard for the things we workers take for granted, like an eight hour work day and a five day work week. Let’s not take them for granted anymore.

Republicans "SHOCKED" They've Overspent Our Budget!

You might think otherwise, the way this story is getting spun, but that headline is the truth.

The 345-page General Accountability Office report pinpointed 34 areas ”“ from defense and job training to social services ”“ where federal agencies, offices or programs have redundant objectives or are fragmented across several departments.

For example, there are 15 agencies that deal with the nation’s food-safety system, which the GAO said has led to inconsistent oversight and an inefficient use of resources. There are 80 programs across multiple agencies that focus on economic development.

”œReducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services,” wrote Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, who heads the GAO, known as the watchdog arm of Congress.

Except…

Across the Capitol, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) suggested to reporters that little had changed in the past decade: He held up a 2001 report that found there was $200 billion in waste in the federal government.

By the way, that $200 billion mirrors precisely the amount the current GAO report estimates is overspent.

But here’s the thing: of the past ten years, six saw Republicans control the House AND Senate, and eight saw Republicans control the White House!

Asking the Republicans to be budget conscious is like asking Charlie Sheen to give up one of his goddesses. Or crack.

Boener Blinks

Well, well, well….suddenly the Teabag has lost its flavor….

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told a convention of religious broadcasters in Nashville on Sunday evening that a federal government shutdown was not appropriate and not what the electorate wanted.

His remarks were the latest sign that congressional leaders were backing away from the brink of a shutdown.

“Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money,” Boehner said. “We don’t need to shut down the government to accomplish that. We just need to do what the American people are asking of us.”

In other words, it’s business as usual. That’s going to piss off the Teabaggers mightily, many of whom believe the only way to restore sanity to the budget process is to shut the thing down.

The Republicans are in a tough spot, to be sure. This is a giant game of Steal The Bacon, and Obama and the Democrats know all they have to do is prevent the Republicans from bringing the pork back to their side and the game is won. In other words, the Republicans will have to make a proposal that truly makes the necessary cuts to the budget to bring some form of fiscal stability back. Obama’s budget proposal was nothing but a gauntlet thrown down.

In order to truly reduce the size of government, three things have to happen. Unfortunately, all three of those things are guaranteed…well, two are. One is unproven…to stifle any economic recovery:

1) Defense spending has to be cut. Unfortunately, defense spending is the one guaranteed job creating program for the district in which the contract is awarded, including the contract for the F-35 engine, the biggest boondoggle in the current developing Pentagon arsenal, and oh by the way, built in Boener’s home state of Ohio!
2) Social Security and Medicare have to be reined in somehow. Now, you can’t cut current spending. Remember all those elderly Teabaggers with their “keep your government hands off my Medicare” signs? You can cap the cost of living adjustments (COLAs) by faking a zero inflation number, which is accomplished by using core inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, which are “too volatile” to be useful. Are you kidding me? In a day and age when stock traders have software that can suss out microscopic inefficiencies and exploit them for millions in profits, we can’t find someone to write a fractal-based program that can include the two biggests costs to an American family?
3) Taxes must be raised. Now, no one is going to propose this without a healthy dose of political cover, because the Teabaggers will flip out, and you know what that means: no more GOP.
Of those three items, only taxes has been unproven to have much direct impact on economic growth. Indeed, one can make the case, as I often have, that the Clinton tax hike on the rich, while lowering taxes on the working and middle classes, actually created robust and exuberant economic growth that was struggling to even begin to break thru when he took office.

Defense spending and social programs that funnel money directly to taxpayers are vital cogs in the economic activity of this nation. Some defense spending clearly can be cut. The F-35 is an example of a program that no one, not even the Pentagon, really wants and is make-work to bolster the bottom lines of the Carlyle Group and Pratt & Whitney. Still, even these are minimal compared to what would happen to deficits should the economy make a startling comeback in the next few years.

It’s hard to believe that, just ten years ago, we were running budget surpluses that would pay down the national debt eventually, only to have Republicans decide that deficits don’t matter and that matter belongs in the pockets of Americans.

Well, it never made it there, did it?