Friday, April 30, 2010

Lawless Roads

*Graham Greene

Let's start with the good stuff before descending into the swill.

Andrew Sullivan artfully described the present scene yesterday:
"I see the rise of religious fundamentalism and the emergence of purely symbolic, policy-free movements to 'take our country back' as partly psychological expressions of loss in the face of modernity's complexity and diversity."

My favorite millenial diarist at the Daily Kos appeared again with some upbeat observations. His tag line is "pleasedon'tbeafake". He followed up his previous observations by saying that people under 30 give Democrats a 29% margin, while no other age group gives them double digits. He noted that this was only a 22% margin in 2006. He urges Democrats to make 2010 a realignment election more like 1934 than 1994. He points to an almost 75-90% support of the millenials for gay marrigae, immigration reform and climate change legislation. He calls millenials partisans, who should be mobilized. He outlined a brief plan of action that would urge millenials with the slogan "Vote every time." He promises a third installment on his plan and reminds us that millenials have alot of time on their hands in August. What's interesting is that Howard Dean ,appearing on Countdown, sounded alot of the same themes about younger voters not buying into the Republican lines. My instinct is that Dean is playing a more active role in broader Democratic, establishment politics than previously thought.

And if that doesn't motivate you to vote --our young people shaming us--then maybe this will. Tomorrow on May 1 , the religious Right is holding a rally here in Washington "to beg God to forgive America for having elected wicked leaders like President Obama" Sponsored by the America Family Association, the rally will be led by prophetess Janet Porter, who says that America is under the curse of God for having "made the choice of death by electing Obama" even though God warned us not to. The rally is supported by such luminaries as James Dobson , former director of Focus on (Your,Not My) Family, Randy Forbes, Trent ("Obama is an enemy of humanity" Franks, Louie "hate crime laws only protect pedophiles" Gohmert and Rep. Steve King, one of Iowa's best and brightest. At the rally, which will be attended by members of Congress, you will be given the new "Christian Manifesto", which provides a roadmap for America to return to its" bibical roots".

51% of Americans ,according to the Gallup Poll, support the Arizona immigration law. South Carolina under the leadership of the Love Governor wants a similar law but secessionist Rick Perry of Texas does not. The Republican candidate for Governor of Colorado wants to go farther and adopt a policy of racial profiling. The Republican Party is in the midst of a civil war over this issue. Illegal college students have trekked to Washington to be embraced by the Cuban-American Republican congresspeople. Rep. Connie Mack criticized the bill as "frontier justice" and said it echoed a time when the Gestapo picked up people in Nazi Germany. Then again, an Arizona Republican legislator said that the slight delay in its application had the purpose of "instilling fear" into the immigrants. And Chief Arpaio went on the prowl last night with his men dressed all in black to seize Spanish-speaking loiters. His criteria for an illegal immigrant is "they speak Spanish."

The more you examine the Arizona immigration bill the worse it is. For example, if United States citizens are stopped and can not prove their citizenship on the spot, they face six months in jail. Apparently, there are several hundred such people already in jails in Arizona that are citizens. One wag commented that conservatives claim Obama wants to create a European-style social welfare state, while they want to create a European-style surveillance state. Already two lawsuits have been filed challenging the law.

Rachel Maddow had on her show last night the head of FAIR, the immigration reform group, who claim credit for drafting this great legislation. The head of FAIR took the occasion to attack those "discredited smear artists" of the Southern Poverty Law Center, even though Dr. Maddow never mentioned them. The SPLC has been tough in examing the white supremacist roots of this group and their personnel. As I've written before, they are funded by the Pioneer Fund in New York City, which sponsors research and activities to prove the racial superiority of white people. FAIR has tried to distance themselves from these connections but one in particular stood out on the show. FAIR funded Proposition 200 in Arizona, which was very similar to the recently passed law. The Proposition was organized by a group named Protect Arizona Now, which was led by one Virginia Abernathy. Ms. Abernathy gained unwanted notoriety when she proudly proclaimed to the local newspapers that she was an "ethnic separatist". Her ethnic group declared as "European-American". I guess these people want to create the Bantustan structures of apartheid South Africa.

Mike Huckabee doesn't like the bill since America is like Disneyland, once you're in, you can go on all the rides--that's liberty.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, our own Attorney General the Cooch is sending out mailers extolling his historic role in suing the federal government on healthcare reform. Having been elected less than a year ago to our eternal shame, he's asking for your donations so he can continue the fight. The C in conservative stands for Cash.

Master wordsmith Frank Luntz has produced another meme against financial reform. First, you'll recall it was an endless bailout, then it was bad for Democrats. But now it will create a "checkbook tax".

"Hell no" John Boehner dismissed any talk of immigration reform this year. In fact, so did President Obama until he landed in Washington from his Midwest tour. Charles Schumer, Senator Menendez and Harry Reid within hours submitted the outlines of such a bill to the Senate. Watch the place explode over the next two months. As if to drive the stake in the GOP's heart, the House passed a bill calling for a referendum on the status of Puerto Rico.

And small government Gov. Bobby Jindal asked for federal assistance in cleaning up the oil spill that is engulfing the Gulf Coast, making the disaster several times worse than the Valdez. Drill, Baby, Drill.

Democrats shut down the Florida House yesterday in protest of the bill requiring ultrasound before an abortion.

And, surpise, Tony Scalia in the Washington case about whether anti-gay activists have to reveal their names in a dispute over who backed a referendum said," Democracy is not for crybabies. You can't hide your political positions." Wild.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who Let The Dogs Out?

The Facebook group that prays for Obama's death reached 1 million "friends".

The RNC is accusing Obama of not considering any black nominees for the Supreme Court. This has already gone viral. I guess Judge Sears doesn't qualify as black. She's actually a friend of Clarence Thomas so maybe that disqualifies her.

Kris Kobach, the man who drafted the Arizona anti-immigrant law, is running for Secretary of State in Kansas. An old protege of John Ashcroft, who came out and backed the law,Kobach has secured a contract from the state of Arizona to train police in how to recognize illegal immigrants. He also put in the bill that citizens can sue Arizona if the law isn't enforced. His front group is already set up to act as attorneys for the citizens. The C in Conservative stands for cash.

Republicans are going nuts over the law. Even Johnny Reb, Bob McDonnell, the Governor of Virginia, has condemned it. Former Governor Ridge has condemned it. Karl Rove has condemned it because he knows that his 40-year Reich depended on the Ladino vote. Bob Barr has condemned it for its violations of civil liberties. Barry Goldwater's biographer, Lee Edwards over at Heritage claims Barry would have condemned it. Jeb Bush has dropped everything to race up to Washington to lobby for immigration reform. The GOP sees the fastest growing minority in America escaping from their grasp.

A sign of this was Drudge started the morning with a big photo spread of millions of demonstrators and claiming Hispanics would be marking May 1 in 70 cities. Within an hour everything disappeared concerning the Hispanic marches. Los Angeles is reporting they expect the march there to far exceed the 2007 march when they were demanding immigration reform. I'm hoping they are a rousing success and have demonstrators who are carrying arms in the open. That would make the white open carry geezers have a heart attack. Let's see what kind of coverage they get from Fox--same as teabaggers?

The GOP quickly morphed into Flip Wilson and "The Devil Made Me Do it" excuse. John McCain led the pact with Sarah Palin not far behind saying that it was the fault of the Obama Administration and Congress not to enforce the laws that made Arizona to adopt the statute. When pressed on when is the right time to pass immigration reform, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner said it couldn't be done this year. Lindsey Graham, once a supporter of comprehensive reform, claims it can't be done until 2012.

President Obama in Iowa told a townhall meeting what his basic outline is for immigration reform and said that it had to be done with Republican support. He also thought the will wasn't there in Congress. However, today Senator Harry Reid and Charles Schumer indicated they would move forward, even without Republican support.

ARIZONA ICE TEA wants everyone to know they have nothing to do with the state of Arizona. The CEO of the New York-based company claims they are being slaughtered by the Arizona boycott. So buy one of their Arnold Palmers--half lemonade, half ice tea--to rectify the problem.

The Mayor of Phoenix is suing the state because he says the city can not afford to lose another $300 million like they did during the whole flap over Martin Luther King Day. In 2008, Arizona took in $18.5 billion in tourist dollars and even a drop in a percentage of this will severely hurt the state. Mexican tourists contribute a few billion of this.

Texas Republican Debbie Riddle is introducing an identical law in Texas. Tennessee Republicans are doing the same with a birther bill thrown in. Oklahoma legislators said they will not because their 2007 anti-immigrant law cost the state $1.8 billion in revenues.

Shakira and Linda Ronstadt are showing up for a concert in Arizona and Shakira promises to make statements against the law while there. But remember Jan Brewer says she was chosen by God to lead Arizona during this trying time.

A Texas congressman said that Barack Obama was a judgement of God on the United States. So, I guess that means Mike Huckabee is right,"America is a miracle of God's." So Obama must be the blessing. Abraham Lincoln once commented that he didn't worry about whether God was on his side but whether he was on God's side.

Am I good or not? Ben Nelson did admit today he talked to Berkshire Hathaway about their views on the financial reform bill's regulation of derivatives and they said they were against. Ben was just protecting the $6 million I reported yesterday. Kudos to Ezra Klein, who reported what I said in-house here yesterday--the Republicans caved on filibustering the bill because Mitch McConnell wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby and didn't want late night voting to interrupt his plans. And, if you know the Senate, you know that's true. You have to have a real sense of priorities.

How did "Drill, Baby,Drill" turn out? Actually, quite fantastic, the first such off-coast well has been producing 5,000 barrels a day. The only problem is that it's all leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. This has prompted Governor Crist to reverse his position on off-shore drilling; the President to call the governors of all states near the spill and declaring the Administration might put the whole policy on hold.

You know the Right has gone coco-loco when Glenn Beck criticized President George W. Bush for being a "progressive". He also complained about Arizona being criticized for adopting Nazi-like laws, saying this diminished the crimes of Hitler. It seems to me he does that already by likening President Obama to Hitler.

The financial reform debate is actually just heating up. Goldman Sachs and the banks have unloaded millions to be funnelled through some of the front organizations that handled the healthcare reform debate. So, watch for the teabaggers to get their marching orders soon. Frank Luntz' interim memo is to aim at wavering Democrats by saying the bill is bad for them. We'll wait for the second memo when the debate gets in the open.

There are two things in my mind that one should watch--the regulations of derivatives and the consumer protection agency. There will be a full-court press to water these provisions down. And root for Senator Bernie Sanders' amendment to cap credit card rates at 15% like credit unions. As he pointed out three American banks issue two-thirds of all credit cards.

It's nice to see the head of the AFL-CIO Richard Trumpka out and about. Today's he's marching on Wall Street. But Trumpka has been the most visible AFL-CIO chief since Lane Kirkland and George Meany. It's good to see their public presence.

Barack Obama fled the capital to visit with the white folks in Iowa. After rhubarb pie (my favorite) and coffee, he held a townhall meeting to a thunderous reception. During the long presentation, he flagged the next political debate in the country. He warned the audience that we will be forced to make tough decisions in the months and years ahead. He emphasized that people who want government to do things must be aware of what these activities cost. He pointed out that his three year freeze on discretionary spending and some other measures he's taken will pay for everything during his first term, including the stimulus package. But he warned that the structural deficit he inherited will take years to address. He pointed out why the belief you can cut foreign aid simply doesn't touch a drop of our deficit. He emphasized that the deficit was composed of equal parts Social Security, Medicare and the Defense Budget.

Barney Frank is convening his own study on the deficit and explicitly aiming at the Defense Budget. The problem with the military/ terrorism budget is that it has doubled since 1998 and is considerably higher than during the Cold War when we had conventional enemies. Barney Frank is bragging his group is bipartisan but this means he has included the CATO Institute, which proposes cutting defense in half. At least, it's not the House Republican Plan to privatize social security and Medicare.

Doubts have arisen about the Deficit Commission appointed by President Obama because it is composed of Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats and not progressives. Erskine Bowles, a former Clinton official, said the Commission would be going after social security and Medicare like gangbusters. With the exception of Andy Stern, I don't see anyone including military expenditures in the mix. And that would be dreadfully wrong.

The great state of Oklahoma--where the wind...--is being sued for its mandatory sonogram anti-abortion bill by physicians. For the past year, women's rights have taken a beating in the U.S. of A. where dozens of states have been inching to restricting access to abortion and contraceptives. That's why I thought the Iranian police chief who said he would arrest women with suntans might have been from Arizona. Florida just passed yesterday by three votes a bill that would force women, even those raped, to watch an ultrasound of the fetus before agreeing to any abortion procedure. The feminist should mount up for one last ride--against the American Taliban.

But Oklahoma, home of Dr and Senator Tom Coburn, who opposed the healthcare bill, seems to have set the record for budget shortfall this year. As a result, they have dropped to 49 in healthcare--just one step ahead of Haley Barbour.

Tom Tancredo finally discovered the truth. Obama is deliberately hiding his birth certificate to drive conservatives nuts and make them look like they're crazy to the public.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Midafternoon Madness Continues

Well, we found out why Ben Nelson is acting like an asshole on financial reform. His wife owns $6 million in Berkshire Hathaway which we learned yesterday owns about $30 billion in derivatives. What if there was a conflict-of-interest law, probably no Senator--all multimillioniares--could actually vote on anything having to do with commerce.

Great news! On May 29, here in D.C. we have the first Birther March sponsored by the original birther a 9/11 truther, disbarred lawyer Phil Berg. They are combining the march with a protest against Healthcare Reform, saying that since Obama is not eligible the law is unconstitutional. So we'll have Joe Biden sign it and say it's a "Big F***king Deal".

The Final arguments for the Prop.8 trial has been set for June 16th. They are still hassling over a move by the defense to strike Dr. Tam's testimony. He's the evangelical who argued homosexuals are pedophiles and other noxious things. The other dispute has to do with the motion by the pro-gay lawyers to have the names of the supporters for the Proposition named. Here there is alot of big money from Mormans and the evangelicals involved and they are arguing there will be physical retribution by the gay community if the names are released.

The Orange County Republican Party is in deep trouble because they deceived people into registering as Republicans.

Governor Christie of New Jersey has sunk to a 33% approval rating--not bad for less than a year in office. 18,000 students have organized to protest teacher lay-offs and cuts in budgets for 600 districts. The New Jersey equivalent of the CBO has analyzed Christie's budget and found that lower income familes, senior citizens, and the young will be hurt the most by his budget cuts, while the only beneficiaries are people earning over $500,000 a year. They will earn a few hundred more off their taxes. This is the man George Will and Marc "Torture Man" Thiessen believes should run for President.

Steven King,Christianist Republican from Iowa, defended the Arizona immigration law as an "example of American exceptionalism". Fellow Iowa Republican Rep. Bertoche, running in the 3rd District,wants microchips implanted in immigrants so we'll know where they are. A Christianist himself, he seems to be at odds with his co-religionists who have outlawed the practice in Virginia and Georgia because it means putting the "mark of the beast" on people. Perhaps, there will be an ecumenical meeting on the matters.

The cities of Phoenix and Tucson among others are going to fight the law. It seems there has been a negative economic impact already and the cops are up in arms on having to enforce it. Meanwhile, the state says it needs federal agents to train 12,000 law enforcement officers on how to apply the law. Word from Washington so far has been lukewarm.

Ohio however wants an Arizona-style immigration law of their own. Perhaps to catch all the illegal Canucks. Meanwhile, in California, Republicans want all children of illegal immigrants deported.

Oklahoma has overruled the Governor's veto of the abortion laws. Civil liberty groups are going to sue. The law calls for vaginal probes of pregnant women to produce sonograms of fetuses, which will be shown to the woman prior to any abortion. Then the law protects doctors from malpractice suits if the physician happens to neglect the fetus has birth defects. Let's recall abortion is a constitutionally protected medical procedure. Apparently, some people are having difficulty with that concept.

Florida's Charlie Crist is going to run as an independent and should say so within the hour. This would create a three-way race with Rubio and Meeks. Crist also reacted to the Gulf Oil spill by declaring he is now against off-shore drilling because it's too dangerous.

Midafternoon Madness

We've finished the third round of bumper cars in the Senate. Harry says he'll keep the Senate open all night. Retiring Ohio Senator Voinovich says he'll break with the GOP on financial reform. Mitch McConnell admits that some of his members are getting skittish I would imagine as every newspaper in the country has pointed at the Republicans as the sole obstacle to reform. Rush gave it the old college try even though he never went by claiming the banks were the victims. Mitt, the ole' hedge fund manager himself, defended the Wall Street firms. But so far no mass rallies by teabaggers to defend Goldman Sachs. Glenn Beck is claiming that George Soros, Al Gore, Goldman Sachs, Obama, Valerie Jarrett are involved in a multi-trillion dollar crime having to do with climate change. Watch this to be wheeled out on the right. Maybe Saul Alinsky plays a role--stay tuned.

John McCain, the battered punch drunk boxer, is plummeting in Arizona with his approval rating hitting 35% on the way down. People in D.C. say that Lindsey Graham is saying immigration reform needs to be postponed to protect McCain and deflect attention away from McCain bruised political body.

A Reason To Believe America Will Make It

Watching the Senate hearings on Goldman Sachs and hearing the attacks on Obama for "playing the race card" by urging his original coalition to vote makes me think the mid-term elections will be chaos. I also feel that conventional wisdom will be wrong. We've heard the drill--mid-terms the President's party lose significant seats; the American people are outraged at Washington; and the economy will hurt the Democrats. Of course, this all may be true if the Democrats were running against a normal political party. Anti-gay and anti-enviromental moves in Virginia have triggered mobilization of the Democrats and an anti-immigration law has put Latino support for Democrats over the moon.

Let's talk about conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom is defined by the last remains of the silent generation, the baby-boomers and Generation X. By class, these people are the types covered in the recent American Express luxury consumer poll where the average annual income was $575,000 per family. That's several times mine and over 12 times the average American. Washington conventional wisdom is even more confined to super wealthy people who dine out with each other.

So conventional wisdom also believes these cohorts are the center of the universe and the people who actually determine elections--whether by their voting numbers or by their media influence. So by their calculations, minorities--blacks and Latinos don't vote and youth will never come out for mid-terms. What seems to validate their case were the governors' elections in New Jersey and Virginia--where we have seen the disasterous results.

During the last Democratic primaries, Nate Silver wrote extensively about the difficulties with polling minorities and polling young voters, since the later all have cellphones. He always warned that the polls at that time underpresented these groups, particularly the young. And he pointed out that these people were the Obama surge voters, who blew by the opposition within the last week of the campaign. But these surge voters have to be organized and mobilized to vote. As we saw in the Virginia race there was no effort to reach these voters by the Deeds campaign.

Last night I read a diary posted on the Dailykos by a millenial(a member of those between 18-24), who claimed they were the last minority and were going to mobilize. I call these people the Digital Generation after the studies by Don Tapscott. This generation is committed to change through democratic means, are very environmentally concerned, are non-racist and are non-homophobic. A large percentage come from an ethnically or racially mixed background. They also come from homes where they have experienced different parents. My sons' friends insisted on meeting my wife and I because my son was the only one of his cohort raised by the same parents all his life.

Today, the economy has hit millenials sometimes worse than minorities. They experience unemployment at 30% and over 45% have been unemployed during their work years. Those that make it through college are burdened by debt. These young people are extraordinarily connected to each other through Facebook and the internet, maintaining close contact with friends across the country. But for politicians and pollsters, these young people are off the radar.

As this young dairist noted, his friends kept up to date with the healthcare debate and the provision that they can be carried on their parents plans until the age of 26. They also were keeningly aware of the whole overhaul of the student loan programs and Obama's commitment to community colleges. And they see their economic situation as a result of the looting of America by Wall Street. Also, they are aware that this President keeps talking and acting on issues that concern them and doesn't just discard their support after the election was over.

Democrats were always hoping for the youth vote but it didn't pan out in the 2000 election for Al Gore and hence conventional wisdom took hold that the young don't vote. What's interesting is that Republicans are banking on the 60+ voter to take back the House. They claim and I always believed them that these are the most reliable voter. But facts can be stubborn things.

The 65 and older voter constituted 10% of the total vote both in the 2006 midterms and the 2008 presidential elections. In both those elections, the parties split the vote evenly. In the 60-65 year voter, the Republicans did marginally better. And in the presidential elections, the only demographic age group that Republicans had a slight advantage were Generation X-ers.

Flip down to the Digital Generation. In the 2006 midterms, they also constituted 10% of the vote also but produced a Democratic margin by 60%-38%. In that election the older vote went 49-49%. In short, the large Democratic victory in the 2006 midterms owed alot to young voters, contrary to our conventional wisdom.

In 2008, the digital generation voted 62-35% for the Democrats and among the 25-29 group, they voted 64-34% for the Democrats. Again their total percentage of the vote remained in line with the older voters.

If you add up the slight advantages of Democrats in the past two elections by age group, the Digital Generation's edge for Democrats represents slightly less than all the other age groups combined! Most worrisome for Republicans is that the party you first vote for remains the same for nearly a generation.

Now, The Republican Party has decided that they are going to run against Barack Obama in the midterms. This is evident by the ads cut by their Governors' Association and their pubic statements. Now, Obama is sitting at 54% approval rating overall in today's Washington Post poll but with the digital generation his approval rating is far above the percentage he received in the last election. Throughout the past year, approval ratings of the digital generation mirror the numbers of Obama in the black and Latino communities.

The young millenial diarist mentioned that his former activists from the last election are ready and available because most of them have been hurt by the recession and have time on their hands. They are the minority not singled out by Fox News and conservative radio. Organizing for America has already been conducting training seminars for them beginning last week. While Republicans did try and suppress the youth vote in many states, it's far less able to now that they are registered. Here the efforts at voter registration last election will pay off for the Democrats.

This generation is immune to the teabaggers as we have seen by polling on that group and have no tendency toward the extremes. The GOP state campaigns against gays, Latinos and the national party's climate change denials simply spark the digital generations' activism. The Tax issue is meaningless to them.

On a last side note, the pundits have mentioned how Republican Jan Brewer's support among whites has increased by 8% in Arizona after she signed the anti-immigration bill. But few mention that Latino support for the Democratic candidate for governor has soared to 77% in a state where Obama only won 56% of the Latino vote. Despite the dominance of the white voter, the solidifying of the Latino vote by such a large margin eradicates Brewer's temporary advantage. Brewer's numbers should fall further because Arizona depends on Mexico for 1/3rd of its economy and now Mexico is boycotting the state.

Those are some reasons to believe that the mid-terms may produce some surprises.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Projectionists

(Correction--In my last post, the John Birchers must have struck through their moles at Google. There is no Milton Eisenhower Foundation. It should have read a New York City-based foundation, which supports eugenics...I was trying to insert Milton in the tag so he would be immortalized as the Communist control agent of his brother.)

So Drudge tries to gin up outrage over Levin's grilling of Goldman Sachs officials over their mortgage fraud deals by citing Levin's use of s..t. So I thought I would look what else may be happening. Seems a Fox New anchorman used the "c" word at the same time.

Wesley Pruden weighs in on Obama's video to the OFA, blathering that it was an attack on white people. I guess no one has ever thought to actually listen to the man or know that YouTube exists. Wes says that now it is alright to use the race card for conservatives since the President did it--Not. Ok, Wes, let's play the Race Card--how about Koreans who think they are messiahs and own the Washington Times. Sounds pretty suspicious to me.

Rush Limbaugh received his talking points from Karl Rove this morning because he, too, accuses Obama of being a racist and he lists, accurately for a change, the people Obama was addressing. "Why doesn't he try to reach white males?" Poor babies.

"Tan Man" Boehner this afternoon has come up with Gold--"The Democrats have a credibility problem. They promise one thing and do another." Can you give us an example? "Tan Man" this year has raised over $3 million from Wall Street, almost double the amount of the nearest industrial group that supports him.

Great news for Wes Pruden. The national director of the Aryan Nation, Charles Juba is opening a nightclub for the under 21 crowd outside of Kansas City. The avowed anti-semite and white supremacist thinks his Black Flag Club could fill in the need for young people, who need a place to go. I guess you'll have to be a skinhead or a Goth. Or say a white male senior citizen, who can share tales of George Lincoln Rockwell.

Mexico has weighed in on the Arizona law. It said,"We don't need some stinkin' papers". President Calderon condemned the law and issued a travel advisory for Arizona. He emphasized that the law would damage bilateral relations with the United States.

Adolf Hitler has made a comeback after being banned from YouTube for his parodies. Now the Great Dictator is seen in a different scene from the same movie with a mashup with Lady Gaga. This might actually fall under the fair use clause.

Mitt Romney has come out denouncing the populism against the banks and the hedge funds, having run one himself, I guess. The Republicans might just come out and designate Romney as Corporate Overseer of the Country and Vice President Petraeus to run the Military/ Terrorist complex. And you wonder why Obama talks to blacks, Ladino and women. These honkies can get pretty scary.

The ace conservative journalist Andrew Breibart has posted a video of Obama's budget director saying there will be rationed health care in the future. Of course, no conservative wants to admit we have rationed health care now. I just hope they put the death panels back in.

I am thinking of creating a new feature--The Comparative Survey of Freedom in American States. This is derived from the Freedom House Survey of Freedom in the World.This idea has been kicking around for over a decade since my colleagues and I were thinking of getting into anti-corruption projects. Our states, including my native New Jersey, my wife's Illinois and others, were perfect for studying political corruption. Then during the last campaign, I noticed that in 45 Democratic primaries, there were serious, even fatal errors in the election administration in 27 states. If you remember, former President Jimmy Carter turned down an invitation to monitor American elections because of these structural problems, saying he and his Center could never say American elections were "free and fair." And now under the Obama Administration, we have a bonanza of state violations of political rights and civil liberties. Arizona is just the latest.

Missouri has announced it wants to copy Arizona's law. Missouri has been at the forefront of insanity for the last two years. Like Utah, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Idaho, they have aimed at restricting a women's right to choose by all sorts of subterfuges. With the resurrection of militia groups, we have more reason to examine their old haunts such as Michigan and Idaho. And good old Virginia, with Confederate month and the anti-gay rulings, has entered the sweepstakes.

After the Earth Day festival here in D.C., John Legend decided to visit friends in Federicksberg. He took two members of his band--both black--and ended up lost because his friend lived in a new subdivision. He stopped to get direction and two rednecks told him he wasn't welcome in the neighborhood because this was "confederate country".

Judge Brandeis said "Our states are the laboratories of democracy." Conversely , they look like they may want to be laboratories for American-style fascism. With the internet, we now can get a greater feel for the politics in our states, which was lacking in past decades. There are , of course, nice examples like Vermont, where they passed this past week a public option for healthcare because they felt the Obama plan didn't go far enough. Also, they have same-sex marriage. Or even Montana, which passed laws to allow for the manufacture of their own ammunition,but was the first state to establish the "health exchanges" Obamacare promised by 2014.

The Comparative Survey feature will be occur as I pile up enough information on a particular state. We could have had a load on Illinois last year. You never know whose going to be next. You never can go wrong betting on Louisiana.

I am going to avoid the brouhaha over the next cloture vote. A major American national problem can not even be discussed or debated. Gee, I'm glad we're not in any wars--right. we are.

Morning Coffee--New Guinea Dark Roast

Yesterday Drudge ran a piece headlined "Obama Plays Race Card". Anytime you read something like that watch the other side because that's what they're doing. The Race Card is question was the video sent by David Plouffe with Obama appealing to Organizing for America people that for such high takes mid-term elections there must be an effort to get out the Black, Latino and Women vote. In short, everyone Republicans are counting on not to show up. But I thought the one interesting twist to Obama's statement was his assertion that he wants first-time voters--in this case a 29-year old woman--to cast their second vote in the mid-term elections. This follows the Obama strategy to enlarge the voting base--which is diametrically opposed to the decades old strategy of Karl Rove to shrink the voting base by using wedge issues. This is the President who went out of his way to campaign on Indian reservations.

Meanwhile, the Arizona immigration law has spurred a wild array of responses. Civil rights leader and Hitler-admirer Pat Buchanan writes in "Whose country is this?" that illegal Hispanics are taking jobs away from blacks. He then goes on to say Barack Obama is failing his constitutional duties of upholding the law--which Pat says requires sending the 12-20 million illegals back home. He accuses Obama of being too beholden to the Hispanic lobby to uphold the law and condemning black Americans to poverty. Pat quotes Ronald Reagan as saying "a country that can not control its borders is not a country anymore." He laments the Balkanization of the country into ethnic enclaves like say white gated communities (no, he did say that.).

Governor Brewer of Arizona claims that the state will not suffer any economic consequences from boycotts. San Francisco passed a resolution to sever all business contracts with firms based in Arizona. The Arizona Republican opined that the real damage is done to the public's belief that the law is color-blind and you have a presumption of innocence. New York Times Supreme Court report Linda Greenhouse is so infuriated with the law that she claims she is not going to back to Arizona as long as it's not a "police state".

I received an e-mail from a rightwing Arizonan who wrote his friends that La Raza is pouring people into the state to protest and they're even bringing in Koreans! He protests that the media coverage of the law deflects attention away from the tea party movement and the huge national deficit. He also worries that the state will be sued and suffer financially. He hopes the law will be ruled unconstitutional since it really is bad. I guess so La Raza will stop busing people in from California.

The Arizona Indian nations have weighed in led by the Navahos. "So the squatters are trying to kick out the foreigners, how ironic?"

Some Latinos are reacting with good humor. One car read "I'm Mexican. Pull Me Over." Some vandals drew swastikas on government offices with refried beans.

Rachel Maddow gets kudos for tracking down the authors of the bill and establishing that they were funded by a New York C,Milton Eisenhowity foundation that encourages eugenics and the preservation of the bloodlines of early American settlers. The group is another one of these front organizations claiming to argue for immigration reform.

Kudos again to Rachel Maddow for her segment on the rehabilitated John Birch Society. Unfortunately, it seems that like Scott Brown the John Birch Society is using her name in vain to raise money. But Rachel solved one of the longest outstanding mysteries in American history. No, not flouride in the water. Who was Dwight David Eisenhower's Communist control officer? After all the John Birch Society maintained that Ike was an overt Communist agent. The answer is--none other than his brother Milton. Another mysterty solved--the anti-Christ is Javier Solana and Ike's control officer was brother Milton.

One aspect of the segment was new to me. The John Birch Society was created in 1958 for the expressed purpose of carrying on the legacy of Joe McCarthy. What Rachel doesn't mention is how the John Birch Society got rehabilitated. She had on as a guest Sam Tenenhaus, author of The Death of Conservatism ( random House, 2009), who suggested that conservatives no longer had any major thinkers to keep the movement honest and that the fringes dominated because there are no enemies on the Right. For a follow-up, she should have on Frank Schaeffer who can tell her that the John Birch Society came back through the Religious Right, especially Tim Lahaye and his Left Behind series. LaHaye was a long-time, high-ranking member of the John Birch Society.

Barack Obama almost went black on us at the memorial service for the coalminers in West Virginia. He even got some call-backs from the all white audience as he started to get into his preaching rhythmn when he talked about God. In mid-eulogy, he started into his preaching cadence and came back to it at his finale. I still believe one of his best speeches during the campiagn was at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Georgia when he preached about the Walls of Jericho. I wish he would do more of this but then he would only invite more angry reactions.

The real non-news story is about Obama's own poll numbers. He's been clocking about 50-51% in Gallup's tracking poll, some 20 points above any other person in our political system. What's interesting is that going back to last April, he's consistently maintained the same approval rating.

In the breakouts of the polling data, there are no great surprises. Obama has large approval ratings across the country, except in the South where he is about 40%. The Northeast continues to love him at about 67%. His approval rating among women far outstrips that among men. Everybody under 60 give him above 50% approval ratings; the youth most of all. But over 60, he slips, particularly among white males. Among whites in general, he is at 44% and among white males of the teabagger movement he drops dramatically. But remember he won only about the same 44% among white males last time--which correlates with past Democratic nominees.

Now in Sunday New York Times Democrats admitted they could lose the House this year. This piece was followed up by various talking head reports and the usual woe is us. The House changing back so soon? Hasn't happened in quite some time. If we were in a normal situation where one party was Center-Left and another Center-Right, I could see it as a reaction to keep the system in check. But Center-Left and Radical Right, I'm skeptical. As we've seen, the situations in states are galvanizing voters, especially among the demographics who usually don't vote in by-elections.

But let's say it happens. Bless Michael Steele. He's recruited over 20 African-Americans to run for the House. Some of these candidates admit it's opportunism because they would be farther up in line than their Democratic counterparts for committee positions. Now, let's say 15 of these candidates win and the margin for Republican control in the House rests with these new members. Can anyone believe that with their Democratic Black Caucus members nagging them that they could go along with "Hell No" John Boehner? Could the Republicans really maintain their authoritarian discipline in this situation? They had to have two people stand next to Rep. Cao the last session to make sure he didn't vote for healthcare reform. Things could get interesting.

Over the weekend another potential assassin was arrested in North Carolina. A nerdy white male with rifles and diagrams of scopes was apprehended at the airport because he wanted "to meet President Obama." He had police emergency lights in his car and scanners to monitor police radios. His website showed he was a music technician and a member of A Million Republicans, a group created by Tom DeLay. He had driven from Ohio to North Carolina for the occasion. All of this is giving white people a bad name. I wish they would cut it out.


Hapless Harry Reid will play bumper cars again today with Mitch "Froggy the Gremlin" McConnell on the financial reform bill. Reid promises a procedural vote everyday until the Republicans or just one of them caves. The Republicans scored the headlines around the country as the party blocking reform, while yesterday's poll showed over 2/3rds of Americans want reform.

The big enchalida here is the regulation of the $430 trillion derivatives market. Warren Buffet called them "weapons of mass financial destruction" and naturally his Berkshire-Hathaway holds $30 billion worth. The derivatives market is one of the last totally unregulated areas of the economy and given how well deregulation has worked elsewhere this is a major disaster just waiting to happen. To give you some idea, the GNP of all Planet Earth is $54 trillion. Derivatives are the huge black hole of finance. We saw the consequences of its wake in the sub-prime mortgage scandal, where non-performing mortages were scissored up and sold in the derivative market. The collapse of our state and muncipal governments is directly linked to the manipulation of the bond markets by the very people who peddle derivatives.

President Obama promised to veto any bill that didn't regulate derivatives. This, despite former Obama backer Warren Buffet's plea not to. Bill Nelson's vote yesterday--the only Democrat--against cloture is directly linked to Buffet's Omaha business. The de-regulation of derivatives came in the Clinton Administration after Republicans Phil Gramm and Jim Leach pushed for the repeal of the Seagall-Glass act created during the Depression to prevent another financial metldown. Egged on by Richard Rubin and Larry Sumners, Clinton signed the bill. Only Democratic Senator Dorgan went at great length to alert the public of the dangers here. Interestingly enough, given Progressives' attacks on her, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas has written a tough amendment to regulate derivatives.

Since there is now overwhelming support for financial reform, this seems like a win-win situation for Democrats, even if the Republicans managed to hold the fort. But Senator Bernie Sanders warns the public that President Obama, even with polls showing he is more trusted than the Republicans on this issue, is now going up against "the most powerful people in the world." The financial industry is going to throw everything they can at stopping this reform and we're in for some wild arguments against the measures.

There have been some tentative arguments put forth. Rachel Maddow quoted the first statements by the Tea Party Nation against the reform because "it would penalize advertising companies for false advertising." By this morning, I have read that it will end PayPal, regulate EBay, and hurt mainstreet because the banks will be reluctant to loan to small businesses. By the end of the day, there will be even more. Let's face it folks, these people own the United States and dictate what our economics is.

On Too Big Too Fail, don't worry about it. The United States Government will bail out the banks again if a crisis reoccurs--both parties know this. What the Obama Administration is trying to formalize is a rational way to dismantle a failing institution and to get the industry to pay for it. The lobbyists for both the derivative traders and the banks are fighting tooth and nail over provisions which would require more actual money being put up as insurance for the next time everything collapses. Here, the argument is that this will affect jobs--like the collapse of the system didn't.

The more the whole issue is discussed, it's quite clear that economists haven't really accounted for the effects of a situation that wasn't a recession or a depression brought on by natural financial cycles but a near Depression brought on by systematic criminal activity. Almost all elements of the 2008 crisis were the natural results of fraud being committed by all our financial institutions because of personal greed. And this fraud is central to understanding the devastating effects on society. And you can bet that there will be no RICO acts being invoked against Wall Street.

I think there is a similarity between the financial world's arguments against reform and the Vatican's statements yesterday that they worry parishioners might drop their pledges to the Church because of the pedophile scandals. Maybe Wall Street and the Vatican should hire the same P.R. firm.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Arizona Ice Tea

The blowback against the Arizona immigration law has been intense. Latino groups in Arizona report that voter registration this year--a year after a presidential election--has increased by 300% because of fears about this legislation. Latino groups countrywide actually mobilized at least a month prior to Gov. Brewer signing the law. The memos going out are explicit about who the enemies are: the Republican Party, the teabaggers, and the militia movement. Also explicit is a warning that The Police are Not your Enemies. Activist groups quote several sheriffs departments around Arizona saying they want nothing to do with the law. What's interesting is that this explosion in voter registration is happening across the states with heavy Latino populations--California, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Texas. The key here is the get out the vote campiagn because Latinos have a high percentage of registered voters but lackluster voting records.

Just think where this puts the Republican Party. When it had George W. as Governor of Texas, Jeb Bush as Governor of Florida and a pro-immigration reform Senator in John McCain, it stood to make permanent inroads into this community. Republicans were gaining between 35%-40% of the Latino vote because they saw Latinos as "value voters" and small business-types. When immigration reform failed during the George W. Bush administration, it was a strategic blow to the Republican strategy. The McCain-Kennedy bill was supported by the Bush White House but was killed by the conservative base in collusion with Blue Dog Democrats. That's why you saw Dick Armey in his role as ring-leader of the teaparty people make clear his part of that movement was not anti-immigrant. However, nativist flame-thrower Tom Tancredo was rapidly seen as one of the most popular speakers at both CPAC and the various teaparty events.

Fast forward to the Republican behavior against Judge Sonya Sotomayor--which sent a clear message to the Latino community. Remember she had been nominated to the bench under Father George Bush. Now, she's unacceptable?

Only moments ago, Lindsey Graham again blasted the Democrats for pushing immigration reform prior to his climate change bill. He used the usual Republican talking points about any Obama-inspired legislation. In sum, this is just phony immigration reform. But "Butters" is under attack from the base at home in South Carolina for going squishy on immigration reform because he's being blackmailed for being gay. Also, he was the only Republican on the judicial committee who voted for Sotomayor's nomination to make it to the floor. So, the average Latino knows where the wind is going in the Republican party.

Then look what happened to the other amigo--John McCain who now supports the Arizona bill because illegals are deliberately causing car accidents. No longer the champion of the immigrant because he's being pressed from the right by J.D. Hayworth. So where do you turn to?

The Republican reaction to the bill is mixed. Charles Krauthammer says that it will lead to too many civil rights violations. Andrew Napolitano, the Fox faux constitutional lawyer, says it will bankrupt Arizona because of all the lawsuits. Mike Huckabee says that there is no "typically-looking America". But Mitch McConnell simply says he hasn't read the bill. Remember Obama has already condemned it. Saxbe Chambliss from Georgia, the man who is supposed to save America from socialism, says "If the people want it, then it's OK." Sarah Palin didn't comment on the bills' contents but said that Governor Brewer is courageous for signing it and delivering a strong blow for states' rights. And we have already seen Bill Kristol's statement. So I'm really going to be comfortable putting my rights in these guys hands.

We may see the direct effects of the Arizona law in this year's races in Texas and California. California under Gov. Wilson once passed a restrictive Proposition on immigrants, which the Hispanic community still remembers. The other race where states' rights are invoked is the Governors' race in Texas with Rick "secessionist" Perry. As hard as it is to be believed, the Texas Republican party has moved way farther right than the days of George W. In fact,George W. attacked the states' righters in his party as too far gone. So, expect some effort by the Democrats and Mike White to get out the Latino vote. Before Arizona, this would have been an iffy and a wait-and-see proposition. Now it's certainty.

People in California can cheer today because they have a new citizen--Mitt Romney. After selling his 14 homes in 2009 to avoid any McCain type criticisms, he moved to New Hampshire to establish a base for his 2012 campaign. Now he's taken up residence in La Jolla to cheer on his former Bains partner Meg Whitman for Governor. Just a hunch--if Meg's Achilles Heel is offshore bank accounts, might not the same be true of Mr. Magic Underpants? We saw this week a strange piece in Huffington Post on Mike Bloomberg's foundation having its assets in the Cayman Islands. Why a foundation needs offshore accounts, when they're not taxed, escapes me. But I think any of these mega-rich candidates do the same thing because it's second nature to their class. I think knowledge of this in the United States results in political suicide.

California just released its new voter registration list today. The total number of voters has increased. But more importantly, party affiliation has changed. Democrats picked up a few more clicks and stand at 44.6% of registered voters and Republicans dropped 4% points to 30.8%. If you throw in the number of Republican-leaning teabaggers who say they are not going to vote, Republicans even with the big money campaigns of Whitman and Hewlett-Packard lady have a tough row to hoe.

CREW released its 13 worst Governors in America. The only Democrats this year are New York's Patterson and New Mexico's Richardson. On the Republican side, there are some presidential aspirants--Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour.

To save the day, former New York Governor George Pataki says he may run for President in 2012. Funny, he doesn't look American.

President Obama did have his meeting with Rev. Billy Graham. He becomes the first President ever to visit the Graham homestead in North Carolina. Unfortunately, Franklin was there and like a good ambulance chaser he button-holed the President and told him that the Pentagon was trying to keep religion out of the armed forces. The President said he would look into it and probably screamed, "Get me out of here." Although Franklin did compliment the President's efforts to save the National Day of Prayer. I guess the Grahams live in the "gay capital of North Carolina."

The President then flew on to Beckley, West Virginia to speak at the memorial service of the dead miners. I wished he had commented on the mine owner's threat to fire any miner who attended his colleagues' funeral or the fact he contributed over $1 million to the teabaggers.

So I thought I would take the political temperature of my extended family to see how the Republicans are making out for the mid-term. In 2008, we had 14 registered voters, only 2 of which were Democrats; the rest Republicans. Now we have 15 with the party lineup being 12 Republicans, 2 Democrats and 1 anarchist. In 2008, before the Palin nomination as Vice President, it was 7 McCain/ 7 Obama. Once she was nominated, it ended up 12 Obama, 2McCain. So now that Obama hasn't brought peace to the world, balanced the budget, closed Gitmo and has created 1 million jobs per month, how's it look for the Republicans? Well, not so great. There may be 4 votes (tops) for Republican congressional candidates out of 15 votes. I expect only 10 will actually vote. So what you're looking at are historic Republicans who are just fading away. I would expect my 2009 party alignment is actually quite different than 2008. Of the 12 historic Republicans, I expect 6 now call themselves independent, and only 4 I know definitely say they are still Republicans.

You can guess from this blog why many of the family have abandoned the Republican Party. The lawyers in the family because of the extreme right nature of GOP court choices; the women because of the rabid anti-choice platform; and the majority of others because of the embrace of the Religious Right. Curiously, for many who actually benefited from the Bush tax cuts for the rich, this doesn't encourage them to overcome their disdain for the other aspects of GOP policy. Only two family remembers actually still believe the GOP is stronger on defense. It's important to underline that Republican voting in the family sometimes dates back to the Civil War. So the deterioration of party identification is actually a cultural phenomenon which mirrors the collapse of the GOP in the Northeast and Midwest. It also means that the party is losing educated, suburban professionals, one of the key parts of its base. The only family members certain to remain is a birther "Christianist"and a pro-life Catholic male. This isn't to say that the Democrats will pick up members but the current lean in the family is toward Democratic candidates. From all my conversations, George W. Bush's approval rating is less than 20%, Cheney's is sub-zero, while Obama's is way above 50.

So that accounts for my own bias when reading progressive's criticism of Obama. A part of modern America has moved into his camp, which hasn't been recognized. When there is criticism about Obama's "bipartisan" rhetoric, what seems to be missing is that he is addressing the growing number of independent , former Republicans and he's trying to keep them from going back.


The Obama Leaves Town phenomenon. No sooner he's on the plane, and mischief breaks out on the Hill. Senator Lindsey "Butters" Graham has pulled out of supporting a bill he helped create on climate change because he was miffed when he heard the immigration reform might go first. The bill was supposed to be tri-partite--Kerry (D.), Graham (R), Leiberman (I.-Knesset). Kerry has cancelled its Monday unveiling. Again over at the Republican ranch, Mitch McConnell, probably so that he can control the news cycle, says his party is unanimous in opposition to financial reform. He apparently hasn't told Olympia Snowe yet. She let drop that she is very eager to pass a bill that tightly regulates derivatives. Orrin Hatch is concerned this would inhibit American innovation--like Enron's old project of weather derivatives, for instance.

The media hyped the first couples weekend out of town as a "middle-class" type vacation to Ashville, North Carolina. People like Cokie Roberts believe the Obamas need to go to someplace normal Americans can relate to--like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Well, the Free Republic is not having any of it. They claim Ashville is the "gay capital of North Carolina", the "San Francisco of Appalachia". They complain that the major media is not covering this story properly. What will disturb them further is Obama's visit to the 91-year old Rev. Billy Graham whom he has been in contact with. Unlike his son, Franklin, who is aiming to inherit the empire, Billy played a curious role in the civil rights movement, refusing to speak to evangelical gatherings that were segregated, and making it clear he supported a change in the South. Unfortunately, he also got bamboozled in "legitimizing" W's conversion to Christianity because he was considered respectable by Barb, unlike W's Dallas wackjob preacher.

This will not stem the criticism of the Pentagon dis-inviting Franklin Graham to their National Prayer meeting because of his frequently stated comments that Islam is wicked and evil and that the God of Islam is not the same one as the God of Judaism and Christianity. The Fox news crowd and the Baked Alaskan criticize Obama-appointed Pentagon officials--weirdly similar to W's officials--for being "politically correct" on Islam. It just seems to me that if you have hundreds of thousands of military personnel fighting and stationed in the Muslim world then maybe--maybe-- it's best not to pick a religious fight at this time. But that's exactly what they want--our wars in the Middle East are a religious crusade.

The teabagger organizers, Americans for Prosperity,are taking their show to Europe and going to work with Norway's right-wing party to help them organize and work the grassroots action. The Norwegian party happens to focus on illegal Muslim immigrants. It's curious to me that Norway is an oil producer and the financial backers of Americans for Prosperity are--Koch Industries.

Fighting Immigration since 1492. Little Billy Kristol claimed this morning that the new bill in Arizona will only be applied to about a dozen people. It's no big deal. I guess he'll say the same when the Hispanic community is forced to wear yellow sombrero badges on their clothes. Pink panty sheriff Joe Arpaio is an enthusiastic backer of the Juan Crow legislation and is visiting California to try and get them to adopt the same restrictions. New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson has voiced concerns whether he's going to be picked up when he goes to Arizona Diamondbacks games. While Arizona may want to ethnically cleanse the state so that only white people will remain in Seizure City, it has accelerated Hispanic activism both there and across the country. The author of the bill Russell Pearce is a close "confidente" of the local neo-Nazi movement and regularly circulates white power e-mails to his supporters and cronies. The local Patriot militia movement is now recruiting vets with "kill records" to mobilize an armed force to monitor the borders. Local border sheriffs have told people that this isn't the wisest idea,particularly as the drug cartel can outgun the militias. The whole episode is a recipe for disaster. National Police Associations have weighed in opposing the law, because it interferes with real law enforcement work. Maybe everyone should just rent "No Country for Old Men" as a primer for what's going to happen. But who will "Walnuts" McCain use to cut the lawns at his 14 homes?

But who will stop the illegal invasion of America by the Canadians? Canadians constitute the fourth-leading group of illegals in the country. They will probably force us all to sing "The Lumberjack Song" in an effort to feminize the American male. Will we have to carry loonies?The Poles are number 10 and Ireland is number 17 in the illegal hit parade. FYI--a plurality of illegal immigrants are white collar workers. Maybe Arizona should start looking in office buildings instead of the barrio.

A Mexican-American was jailed in Arizona two days ago for not having a birth certificate on him when he went to the truck weigh station. Now, I know I don't have my birth certificate on me or even know at this point where to find it. And for "birthers" I'm in real trouble because I don't have a long-form, live birth certificate and was never given one so I guess I can't run for the Presidency, despite my votes in three states in 1972. Also, I am very certain that my forebears never came to the United States legally--there was no immigration at the time. So I'm in big trouble. And with the Patriot Act, allowing the government to strip anyone of their citizenship, I'm in even bigger trouble.

From a political point of view, it's the Arizona action that will mobilize those very groups the Republicans don't want voting in the mid-terms. Their whole strategy is to mobilize their base, depress the Democrats base and count on the usual low turnout for blacks, Hispanics and students. With a 37% turnout--the average of an off year election, 18% of the country are considered teabaggers so Republicans figured they had a lock. I'm suggesting that the Arizona immigration law, the Virginia anti-gay and pro-Confederate and anti-climate change laws, Chrissie destroying the public education system in New Jersey, and other state-wide mayhems will generate a much larger turnouts of the Democratic base than previously thought.

While some of us struggle to discover why and how the radical right seems to dominate our airspace and the news coverage of the Obama era, Neal Gabler writes "Screaming Extremism" in today's Boston Globe. The piece goes at the phenomenon from a more psychological perspective, citing the results of Johns Hopkins University studies on crowds and group reactions. He claims that we are likely to see more extremism, not less both here and abroad because ideology now works in a globalized information environment. Since we are now saturated with information, there is a greater urge for people to want to be heard. The way you get heard is to be aggressive and loud. "The savage movement and vicious individual gets more attention." They are more dedicated to standing out amid the clutter and they have to go further in their actions to do so. Gabler warns that any cause now can justify violence because this serves as a form of advertising. And he says quite frankly we reward high-decibel hate in the form of the lucrative livings made by the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world. We have now integrated extremism into our own entertainment world and our politics. He says extremism works.

So maybe conservatives are right. According to the National Journal poll, 56% of the right wants the Republican Party to be more closely aligned with the teaparty crowd; another 22% want it to be very closely tied to the teaparty group. For the good of the country, they're not right.

But who are the teabaggers? At the Tax Day teabagger event in Washington D.C., a Republican pollster conducted a survey that reveals a dramatic split within the group between the Christianists and the Libertarians. The two top candidates for President are Palin at 15% and Ron Paul at 12%. 43% of teabaggers say they are "value voters" (Christianists) and 42% say they are libertarians. One-third make over $100K; 62% earn over $62K. 49% are between the ages of 45 and 62. 64% are male and only 36% are women ( Democrats take note.) One-third claim they own a small business.

12% of the teabaggers claim they voted for Barack Obama. And stunningly, 11% will vote for him again in 2012. Another 27% do not know whether they will vote in the next election (2010). 53% of those surveyed will not vote for Sarah Palin--period.

51% believe that the Government should not promote any private values. 46% believe the government should actively promote "traditional values". In comparison, a Gallup poll of Republicans says that 67% believe the government should promote "traditional values". This indicates how far the GOP has gone to be a prisoner of the Religious Right.

So why are they angry? The least important issue for them is same-sex marriage. But 59% of the Palin crowd are angry about this. 48% of the teabaggers are angry about the moral direction of the country. 50% are angry about abortion. 73% are angry about government intrusion into the private lives of Americans. I would have loved the pollster to have broken the last answer out to get some idea what government intrusion means.

The Traditional Values Coalition are proud of being included as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They sent out a press release yesterday exclaiming this. SPLC says that they foment hate against gays--which they do.

Dr.Tiller's killer is upset with jail and has filed a habeas corpus suit wanting out. He claims that the judge was too tough on his bail requests citing the possibility he would engage in further violence. I guess you might get that impression since he was part of the "sovereign citizen" movement, regularly communicated his desires to kill abortion doctors to Operation Rescue, and gunned Dr. Tiller down in his church while the doctor was gathering the collection from the congregation. But maybe he's had change of heart.

If you want to get a feel of any future impeachment charges against President Obama, just follow Representative Issa as he tries to pin everything from SEC employees watching porno, the Goldman Sachs case, and the acceptance by the auto industry of higher gas mileage. These are all trial balloons to lay the groundwork if the Republicans win back the House. Right now, he's trying everything and seeing whether anything sticks.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Conservatives' Totalitarian Temptation

Jean Francois Revel wrote the book of the same title to characterize the Left's embrace of totalitarian regimes in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But it could well apply today to the conservative movements' almost instant hatred of America after the election of Barack Obama. Marc Ambinder asks in The Atlantic "Have Conservatives Gone Mad?" Others in the blogophere has written about the "epistemic closure" of the conservative mind.

With Arizona adopting Juan Crow laws and a state like Minnesota contemplating using the tenth amendment to stop any federal regulations they don't agree with, one has to ask what is possessing these people? I believe the election of Barack Obama and the economic collapse of the country because of George W have triggered the same reaction among conservatives as the Versailles treaty did with the Germans prior to the rise of Hitler. Instead of Karl Rove's 40-year Reich, they are faced with years in the wilderness--at least from obtaining control over the executive branch of the American government. As Thomas Franks and others have documented, conservatives felt they had finally vanquished the primary enemy of the United States--its government by seizing control of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The loss of all this as well as the dramatic signs of their policy failures have sent the conservative nomenklatura reeling.

So what we have are emotional reactions to being deprived of authority and power. Instead, they take comfort in their publishing houses, newspapers, radio shows and Dubai-based Fox News to validate their worth and their rightness. So you naturally go back to your roots, the perpetual war against the Left and the 1960s. You are what you are not. And here they take comfort in the disenfrancisement of the religious right from power also and find their common allies in the war against the secular Left, which includes the entire Democratic Party,the universities, lawyers, scientists and the entertainment industry. The only option here is to avoid the federal government and to hark back to the states' rights days against civil rights.

Instead of Jeremiah Wright saying the "Chickens have come home to roost.", conservatives are adopting Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell's belief that God is punishing us for our secular culture. Instead of "U.S.A!, U.S.A!", we are being told that we all have the wrong idea about the whole premise of the American society. We are now an occupied country led by an "other", a man of unknown origin who may or may not have known Leftists and who is half-black, the creation of miscegeneration, once a criminal offense. Instead of "the best years are ahead of us", the cry is now "we want our country back". The American Indians have responded with great humor--"You have a long line ahead of you."

So far no one has stepped forth and claimed responsibility for the catastrophe left behind by the most conservative--in terms of personnel--administration in history. Conservatives have instantly rediscovered the constitution, which George W said was "just a piece of paper". What is most troubling for our political future is that they are doubling down--enforcing party discipline against any one who deviates from their rules and advocates compromise with the current Administration. The Republican governors just held their meeting and embraced Guy Fawkes and his terrorist attacks on the monarchy. They have refused to call off the dogs on the threats of violence against elected officials and claim teabagger mobs at townhall meetings represent the will of the people, a very unlike conservative embrace of Jacobinism.

Someone referred to this period as one of "no truth" politics. Through their own institutions, conservatives now have embraced anti-science, jumping on the anti-Climate Change bandwagon. Interestingly enough, their leading megaphone--Rupert Murdoch--said that if something isn't done soon about climate change it will be catastrophic. I believe their refusal to accept twenty years of science is simply because Al Gore, their adversary has promoted climate change science. I believe it has nothing with any real intellectual doubts or criticism. Anything that might lead to government intervention is anathema and heretical.

I have been searching the last few months for any recent conservative viewson the common good and the public interest but have come up with nothing. The reason is simply that conservatism has become an ideology and not an attitude. Citing Gallup polls that conservatives are the plurality in this country, they seek hegemonic control over the political economy and brook no dissidents. If they can't have their way, then the only alternative is to tear the whole place down.

They have simply become anti-American. The Hate America Firsters. Some of them know better. Doug Brooks of the New York Times knows that Barack Obama is the classic story of the American dream coming true and a validation of our basic ideals and values. But for others, just change those dreams, change our ideals and values. The great revisionists at work on our textbooks and destroyers of our public educational system. There is no point for America to be a leader in the world unless it's totally ours. We are to be feared and respected and our citizens are to live in fear. As Dick Cheney summed it up, "As a major superpower reality is what we say it is."

The conservative ideal seems to be Brezhnev's Soviet Union but with a little more free enterprise--an overwhelming military power with a blue ocean navy. Air Craft Carrier America--a $1.2 trillion military/terrorist complex--without a basic social welfare system for its citizens. And how did they get there? Almost all the leading "intellectuals" and "voices" on the right have vitrually no military experience so why the recent embrace of war?I believe in some ways it goes back to Ollie North and the great little money-making enterprise they created out of him. The other is an embrace of macho authoritarianism, which has psychosexual roots.

The ultimate conservative project is destructive. They want to destroy the whole American system and replace it with their own. They have created institutions and media vehicles to re-enforce their alternative reality, a parallel universe that is removed from the everyday lives of the American citizen. In the field of science, they have changed the George Marshall Institute and embraced the Discovery Institute to practice their version of Lysenkoism, deliberately embracing the Religious Right's creationism and anti-evolutionary beliefs. The public sector must be totally privatized and politically controlled by movement members. It's no mistake that House Republicans claimed their heroes were the Taliban. In this way, they can marry their financial backers, large corporate interests, with their religious right companions.

Where did they go so horribly wrong? I believe the key moment was on Bill Buckley's Firing Line when a drunk Jack Kerouac said," I'm one of you." and Bill didn't embrace him.

To be continued.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Quitters Never Win*

* Johnny Lang. Follow-up note: he was 15 when he recorded "Lie to Me" and now he's 29.

Don't wear your Zoot Suit to Arizona. A California congressman says that law enforcement officials can tell illegal immigrants from their clothes and shoes. Here in Virginia, I can tell because they're the ones that carry mattresses across the highway in the middle of traffic at night.

One of the first things our Governor McDonnell did when he took office was issue a ban on medical benefits for same sex couples and through his Attorney-General issue a decree to prohibit the protection of legal rights for gays. Why? Yesterday I think we got the answer. Leading a gay rights rally in Richmond was the governor's trans-sexual brother-in-law who now goes by the name Robyn Deane. He was married to the governor's wife's sister for 17 years.

The leader of Americans for Legal Immigration in South Carolina demanded that Lindsey "Butters" Graham come clean about his sexuality. This guy claims that Graham is being blackmailed into supporting immigration reform because he remains in the closet.

Georgia will not allow Arizona to surpass them as pinhead capital of America. Their legislature also wants to pass a "birther" law so that Obama will have to show his birth certificate in 2012. People in Arizona claim it's not aimed at Obama it's aimed at John McCain who was born in Panama.

Diaper Dave Vitters, who has escaped sex scandal after sex scandal, looks like he is in beaucoup trouble by accepting campaign funds in return for getting a company stimulus money.

Dick Cheney endorsed Marco Rubio for Senate in Florida because he will block Obama's "restructuring of the foundation of our fundamental freedoms". It might be hard to do that if he's behind bars. The FBI and IRS are now swarming the Florida GOP about the misuse of campiagn funds and credit cards. No less an authority than Joe Scarborough of the Morning Joe show and former Florida congressman says that Republicans are flipping like crazy and giving the FBI everything. He says this will get "real ugly all summer".

Good news for Democrats. Yesterday as President Obama was addressing the issue of financial reform at Coopers Union in New York City, Karl Rove held a private strategy meeting of GOP high-ups and campaign contributors, notably the Chamber of Commerce, at his house to plot the mid-term strategy. Good news because Karl lost the 2000 President election, barely won the 2004 Presidential election with a war-time President, lost the 2006 midterms and his students failed the 2008 test. However, in the room was approximatelty $100 million of support for Republican candidates.

Steny Hoyer agrees with Charlie Cook that if the election were held today, the Republicans would take the House. That would make Tan Man Boehner the Speaker. The Tan Man showed his leadership form yesterday when he declared that the financial reform bill meant ,"government would take over the entire private sector".

After this type of nonsense, you begin to root that this were true. Like "death panels" or Obama taking away guns. Wouldn't you like one of these things to come true?

Nate Silver at has come back from evaluating the best place to live in Manhattan for New York Magazine to finalize his predictions for the Senate races in 2010. Nate says that the GOP has basically maxed out on opportunities to take over the Senate. Because they failed to recruit Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin and George Pataki in New York, their chances of taking over the Senate have evaporated. Nate's model has a 6% chance of a GOP takeover of the Senate and he says that's high, a result of the vagaries of his model. Currently, he projects Republicans will gain 4 seats in the Senate, leaving it 55-45.

He says there is only a 7% chance that the Democrats could add seats. But he makes a point that as we move ahead in the election year, Democratic opportunities increase, while Republican fortunes decrease. He sees Democrats possibly holding or flipping seats in Colorado, Ohio, Missouri,Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.

A Harris Poll out of France shows that Barack Obama at 77% as the world's most popular man followed by the Dalai Lama at 75% and Hillary Clinton third at 62%.

Washington conventional wisdom is that Harry Reid is a dead duck in his re-election campaign. At least he's not a dead chicken. His chief rival Sue Lowden, an employee of a gambling company, repeatedly has claimed that patients should pay off their doctors' bill with chickens. This has fueled a little industry of internet parodies. She is ahead of Reid by 10. The only two people who believe Reid will win is Reid and the Nevada Republicans. The Nevada Republicans believe--this was before the chicken policy--that Sue Lowden's weaknesses as a candidate will become more and more obvious over the next several months. If Harry Reid manages to push immigration reform through, the Republicans claim that Reid with union muscle from Las Vegas and Hispanics will win. Reid also has the benefit of a court ruling that allows the tea party candidate to remain on the ballot even though the man was carted off to jail for kiting checks.

The Great Newt seems to like his phrase "secular and socialist machine", referring to the Obama Administration. He even penned an op-ed for the Washington Post on this subject. My prediction--if the Republicans regain the House--God forbid--Newt will run for President. If they don't, he won't.

I finally found out what Republican Senator Burr actually does--his own state party have been asking since he won election six years ago. He meets with the banking lobbyists-like yesterday--to promise his support to kill financial reform in return for campaign finances. He did this at a meeting organized by GOP lobbyist Charlie Black, whom you remember for his role in McCain's campaign until the press made an issue of it.

If you want a sense of what the Administration is up against--think about this--5,000 lobbyists actually swarmed the Agricultural Committee to kill the derivatives bill. You can imagine the full court press on the total financial reform bill.

The Christian Right is after the Southern Poverty Law Center for its reports on right-wing extremism and its monitoring of anti-gay outfits. They are claiming that the Center wrote the original Homeland Security Report on right-wing extremism, which is not true. The report had been written by the Bush Administration as they were walking out the door. Groups like Focus on (Your) Family are trying to mount a campaign against SPLC.

The Christian Right is also upset that Franklin Graham was dis-invited to a ceremony at the Pentagon because of his attitudes toward Muslims. But there is more here. The Christian Right is blaming the Obama Administration for knocking the National Prayer Day out of the box. They seem to confuse our legal system as carrying out presidential orders--I guess, a lingering memory of the Bush-Cheney years. But in the National Prayer Day at the Pentagon , participants have to pledge adherence to a statement of their faith. This statement as written would offend Jews and Muslims but after I read it , it would preclude all normal Christian denominations--Catholicsm, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox--because it asserts the literal truth of the Bible as the word of God. This little dirty secret is just beginning to leak out as well as the fact that the co-chair for this event is the wife of James Dobson. The extent of fundamentalist Christian penetration of our armed forces is just beginning to emerge and it's going to get ugly.

The Free Republic asserts that President Obama is an agent of Satan. I guess they're catching on that their gig may be up. Even though the President has asked the courts to reconsider the National Day of Prayer. The history of this is murky. Eisenhower only agreed to this during the Cold War to get the evangelicals off his back but it was organized and seen as the private domain of "the Family" since the 1950s. Obama broke their rice bowel this year by opening up the Day to all religions and denominations, pushing the fundamentalists to the side lines.

Michael Steele admitted that blacks have literally no reason to vote Republicans because the party has had a "Southern Strategy" for over 40 years, catering to Southern white males. Pat Buchanan, who had a major role in Richard Nixon's embrace of the Southern Strategy, went apoplectic, saying this was "a big lie". Harry Dent, Nixon's adviser on the subject, admitted this before he died and said he was sorry.

But Blackwater doesn't have to be sorry. Their defense for the weapons caches and presents of weapons to the King of Jordan was that CIA ok'd it.

The Goldman Sachs defense is that what they do "is good for America". No, that's General Motors not Goldman Sachs.

Silent so far about financial reform are the teabaggers. Curious no? According to teabagger faction 1--Freedomworks--the teabaggers haven't read the bill yet. Like they did for healthcare? I think Boehner's "the government will take over the entire private sector" is the dog whistle. Let's see whether they respond.

Newt claims the teabaggers represent the "militant" wing of the GOP--like in a guerrilla movement.

But now it can be told. One of the major sponsors of the teabaggers is Koch Industries (pronounced "Coke"), the largest privately held oil company. Koch created the front groups to call FDR a "socialist" , created the John Birch Society to call Eisenhower a "Communist sympathizer" and now Obama " a socialist" again. Well, the family seems to have direct experience with socialism. From the late 1920s to the mid-1930s, they built the entire oil production infrastructure of the Soviet Union. I wonder what the teabaggers would think?

Barack Obama said immigration reform is next up within a month. John Kerry and Lindsey Graham are complaining because they want climate change now and don't want to move their issue for immigration. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You can run a red light*

* Johnny Lang "Live at Ryman's"

Many moons ago a teenager from Fargo, North Dakota captured the ears of rock critics, playing a blistering guitar. For years Johnny Lang played clubs accompanied by his parents. When I first heard him, I thought he was one of the most stunning rock guitar players I had heard. Still in his teens he recorded the album "Lie to Me" and then went in and out of the scene as his school required. I heard him here in Washington only a few years ago and he didn't disappoint but the audience was a drag, rich yuppies out for a night drinking. Sometimes his Stevie Wonder vocalizing gets in the way of his guitar but this white boy can rock. Live at Ryman's is album recorded in 2008 and only released now. Backed by his friends from Minneapolis, Lang lets loose with his standards from his past albums. There are only a few new songs but he has transformed his others. The guitar work on "Quitters Never Win" is just masterful. Sometimes I hear hints of another great rocker Stevie Ray Vaughn. Still only in his mid-20s, Lang is another reason why America is great. My son and I have gone up and down over the years about Johnny Lang. We've been disappointed by the production value and some of the material. But across the Plains, he just wrote me ,"Wow."

Another thing that made America great is Good Humor ice cream. Its celebrating its 90th anniversary. If you buy their toasted almond bar, you get a chance to win $10,000. Three down and I still get "try again".

Americans now believe for the first time in eons that American cars are the best. The Toyota and Honda recalls may have helped. Today, General Motors announced its paying back the government loans early and also hiring more workers in Detroit and Kansas. Imagine if the Republicans had gotten their way--16% of our economy would have vanished with no chance to recover.

The great Commonwealth of Virginia is trying to slip mandatory gun safety lessons into the grammar school curriculum. Naturally, the lessons are an NRA program.

Eleanor Holmes Norton , the DC representative in the House, pulled her DC voting bill after Republicans attached an NRA-written amendment that would have allowed people to openly carry assault rifles in the city, a city which currently has the highest murder per capita. Democrats had figured a tamer amendment would have been acceptable. Holmes refused to buy the insane language of the NRA.

Arizona is competing with Virginia for the most insane state. Arizona has passed in one chamber a "birther" bill, which would demand that presidential candidates--read Obama--would have to furnish birth certificates to justify their qualifying for the ballot. Then the Secretary of State would use his "discretion" to determine whether the candidate qualified.

The state also passed a law to require police to check on the immigration status of anyone they suspect of criminal behavior. Although this theoretically applies to anyone, it will be applied to the large Hispanic community in the state. The newly appointed Catholic bishop of Los Angeles said the bill encouraged "Nazi-like and Stalinist police tactics". And he's Opus Dei so he should know. John McCain supports the bill because "illegal immigrants are deliberately causing car accidents." Arizona Democrats are urging a national boycott of the state that is heavily dependent on tourism and the convention trade. The Southwest is beautiful so travel to New Mexico.

Polls are showing horse races in the California, Florida and Texas governor races. All three are held by Republicans.

Charlie Crist anounced today he would run for the Senate in Florida as an independent. Polls show he would win a three-way race against Meeks and Rubio by a slim margin. Marco Rubio is being investigated by both the FBI and IRS for his misuse of the Republican Party's credit cards.

Georgia has imitated Virginia by passing a "Mark of the Beast" law, which would prevent government agents from implanting electronic devices in your body. The key witness claimed agents of the military inserted beeping devices in and around her anus and vaginal areas. Her ID number has been sent around the internet and people can access these devices, which she finds annoying because the devices beep.

Glenn Beck, who is promising us all his Plan for America, says that God has been speaking to him. He prays and then selects bible passages and the Plan becomes clear. The Left has picked up on his direct communication with God but I picked up his explanation of how he reads the Bible like a Ouiji board or a horoscope. And why did I go to Harvard Divinity to study biblical hermaneutics when this is all you have to do? What if he stumbles on Leviticus' prohibition about eating shell fish and crustaceans? Will the Plan call for the death penalty of everyone that eats crab cakes and lobster? It is one way to eliminate the people around the Beltway.

When will Glenn Beck throw the Mormans under the bus and become a "born-again" Christian?

By the way, I have to disappoint everyone but there is literally no evidence whatsoever in any of the Bibles you choose for the Rapture. In fact,the Christian version of Hell itself was a fifth century creation. If you love the Book of Revelations, rent Ingmar Berman's The Seventh seal and if you like Hell read Dante's Inferno.

The Muslim Revolution website has threatened the producers of South Park because they created an episode making fun of the dispute of whether one can portray Muhammed. And, here, I have to disappoint everyone but yes you can and the Muslim world has repeatedly done so through centuries.

Pat Buchanan, the author of a recent revisionist history of World War II, which blames Churchill for causing the conflict, has re-entered the culture war sweepstakes with a column in Human Events. Pat is claiming that the tea parties represent an embryonic form of ethnonationalism, which brought such delightful results in the Balkans. He claims these people are not the guilty country club Republicans of yore but unapologetic whites, who embrace the great lost causes like the Confederacy and are linked to America's noble past. He says that Blacks are united now, but the Whites will soon become so.

I believe the tea party crowd are more like the Ghost Dances of the Plains Indians. A revivalist cult that marked the extinction of a culture.

And, yes, as Johnny Lang sings, "You can run a red light."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pathos City

Well, my overseas guests had to postpone for a few weeks because of the Icelandic volcano. Meanwhile, the Open Carry Rally and the 2nd Amendment March have come and went. The Washington Monument affair drew 500 tops. The Gravelly Point and Fort Hunt affairs had about two dozen apiece. Since they claimed these rallies were on the anniversary of the battle of Lexington and Concord, it was interesting that the speakers only talked about "Remember Waco" and "Remember Oklahoma City". I ran into a few of them at the local shopping mall during lunch. It was pretty pathetic--middle-class white guys with holsters on their side just looking to get into an argument with someone. Everybody just ignored them. Since these rallies had internet and media time months in advance, the turnout was more than pathetic. The most appropriate coverage of these events is at . Huffington Post made it sound like Washington was under seige.

Andrew Sullivan and DailyKos beat me to it. The first compelling reason that there shouldn't be legal guarantees for gay employees. I hadn't thought of this. Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition said that "You can be aroused by stumps.(referring to amputations.)" So that if the Veterans Administration couldn't fire people from their hospitals that were sexually aroused by amputees the families of amputees would be victims of this and that won't be fair. I guess not.

On a more saner note, Mullah Kazeem Sedighi, the leader of Friday prayers in Iran, says that promiscuous women cause earthquakes. There's some truth to this.

Teabagger and former congressman Tom Tancredo told a rally that we should send Obama back to Kenya.

The BBC poll started in 2005 on countries' influence showed for the first time that the United States' influence was more positive than negative.

A Gallup poll undercovered a significant fact: 49% of Democrats believe the country is going in the right direction; 23% of independents; and 10% of Republicans. The Democratic number is important because they say that also translates into enthusiasm for the mid-terms.

Speaking of which, CNN's generic congressional poll picks up the same theme. Regular Voters prefer Democrats at 50% and Republicans at 46%. All Americans: Democrats at 50%and Republicans at 45%. This is a reversal of last month's findings. Obama has a 57% likeability rating. This is different from job approval. I've noticed in any poll like this his number will be far above his job approval rating. This is actually good news because it means he has political capital left in how people regard him as a person.

The Pew poll says that Americans don't trust the government. But what's interesting is to see the approval ratings of government agencies. The IRS has a 47% rating; the Post Office a whopping 83% and the Defense Department, FBI, and the Center for Disease Control 67%. The CIA limps along at 52%.

61% of Americans want financial reform.

30% of Americans believe that the government is a threat to their freedom. But the breakdown of this is interesting: 50% of Independents leaning Republican; 43% of Republicans; only 21% of Independents leaning Democrat and 18% of Democrats believe this.

Goldman Sachs told the Wall Street Journal "It's War!" The Democrats are going to town on this with Harry Reid calling out Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate about what quid pro quos were involved in his and Senator Cornyn's meeting with the 24 hedge fund managers. Drudge is blaring whether Obama will return the 900K from Goldman Sachs and John Boehner is talking about Obama's supporters on Wall Street. The populism doesn't quite cut it as stories broke that Mitt Romney and Michael Steele were at John Paulson's house for a fund-raiser for the Republican Party only six days ago.

The UBS whistleblower currently serving time in federal prison told Democracy Now that UBS had a unit in Washington to assist politicians to squirrel money away in Swiss Bank accounts. This would really be a scandal. Meanwhile across the country in California, Ms. Ebay running for the Republican nominee for governor has the same issue--overseas private accounts to avoid paying income taxes. It will be curious to see whether anyone makes this an issue.

There have been more blogs on Rasmussen's mysterious mid-term polling. The general consensus is that his polls routinely over-sample Republicans by 8%. Nate the Great has started raising questions that he thinks Rasmussen must answer to retain his credibility. His latest poll of the Texas' governor's race shows Perry with a 48-44 lead over the Democrat White. I wrote months ago that this was a race the Democrats could pick up and would have huge implications for 2012.

Two organizations vie for best title from today's gun rallies: Transgenders for Guns;and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms. It's a toss-up.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Volcanic Ash

President Obama had to cancel his trip to Poland and I'm waiting for a visitors who are delayed by the Icelandic volcano ( great name for a wrestler).

A-Rod just surpassed Mark McGwire in the home run sweepstakes. And my first baseball card of the season is Ken Griffey,Jr.

Donna Leon's new Brunetti novel Question of Belief (Atlantic Monthly, 2010) is out two months earlier than expected. A wonderful way to have a cheap vacation to Venice. For the reader, it's great Brunetti's family is out of the picture for most of the book and the book unwinds with daily life in Venice during a sultry summer. We're not plunged into the politics of people smuggling or toxic waste dumps like previous books. An elderly aunt of one of Brunetti's colleagues seems to be falling prey to a faith healer and a clerk to the Court with an impeccable record is murdered.

Jonathan Kellerman in his new mystery Deception continues the saga of Dr. Delaware and Milo, his gay LAPD detective with the murder of a substitute teacher to a private prep school in L.A. We are spared Delaware's endless musings about possible motives and plots that have marred some of Kellerman's latest mysteries. This time he has enough plot without convolutions and tells the story well.

Speaking of L.A., the neo-Nazis tried to imitate their teabagger brothers and got their asses whipped by a counter-protest. The counter-protestors were arrested. They don't make Nazis like they used to.

A new group, Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin, has been formed by Binyamin Korn, former executive director of the Zionist Organization of America. He likens Baked Alaska to Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and says she is the strongest friend Israel has in the United States. He didn't mention that her theological views call for all Jews returning to Israel so they can be exterminated in the end time.

Israel's news monitoring service MEMRI many months ago ran a speech by a Hamas leader who said that the Islamists' best allies in the United States are the militia members because even though they hate Muslims they want to destroy the United States.

Captain in the Revolutionary Army of Baby Jesus, Rick Santorum, the man whose name is associated with the fluids remaining after gay sex, claims that President Obama like the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor "assaulted the soul of America."

In her reaction to the federal court rejecting the National Prayer Day, Baked Alaska laughed at any notion that "God should be separated from any state." She asked her audience to create " a prayer shield " to protect her from media "deception."

Jacob Weissberg wrote a piece "Who killed the Responsible Republican?" He's asking some of the same questions many of us are. Alot of us are circling around the years 1993-94. John Dean because he believes the Gingrich conservatives polarized the country deliberately. And I because this date is roughly the time the Christian Right seized control of the Republican party apparatus. Jacob concludes the culprit is none other than Bill Kristol. He claims starting with his Kill Hillarycare memo in 1993 and his follow-up memos to Republicans not to cooperate with Democrats on social or economic matters Kristol set the destructive machine in motion.

Mitch McConnell today accused President Obama of politicizing financial reform like he did healthcare. Let's see--"We agree things should be fixed, I propose my solutions, you reject them repeatedly and not offer any of your own--I'm the one politicizing the issue." The Republicans are resorting to the old 75 votes for reform logic. Remember Senator Grassley said health reform should have 80 votes to pass the Senate. Now they're down to 75. And now President Obama has to tour the country to drum up support for fixing a broke system.

Wall Street is spreading the rumors that the federal case against Goldman Sachs is just Obama's attempt to pressure Congress to pass economic reform. Good try. Goldman Sachs has known they were under investigation for over a year. But they don't seem to care--they're passing out $3.5 billion in bonuses tomorrow. I guess so everyone indicted can cover their legal bills and family expenses during the trial process.

Both John McCain and George Will have come out against any proposed VAT tax, which was only mentioned passingly by Paul Volcker as a possible solution to the deficit. Will says that if it is approved, the federal income tax should be repealed.

Norm Scheiber in the April 14 New Republic writes about Republican strategies in "When the Starved Beast Bites Back". He approves Paul Krugman's assesssment that the GOP is trying to force another fiscal crisis so as to eliminate entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. But Scheiber warns that history isn't kind to political parties that trigger such economic collapses. He writes that the Republican base has hemmed the GOP in on any strategies that would actually involve increasing revenues to the government. The Tax Cut fetish means that Republicans can not be reliable partners in reducing the deficit and that if they ever inherited such a crisis they could not handle it.

What triggered the article was the news that the Deficit Commission will convene soon and that liberals are afraid that this will be another example of Democrats having to adopt some of the Republican strategeis as their own. A big problem for the Commission is that they will be looking at Social Security and Medicare, which take up 21% of the federal budget each, but will not be looking at the Defense Budget, which is about an equal percent of federal expenditures. Couple this to popular opinion polls which show that the only budget cuts that have any support is 70% believing that cutting foreign aid would make a difference. Foreign aid is only about 1% of the whole national budget.

If you want to follow the whole Rasmussen poll argument, Nate Silver does an excellent analysis of the questions these polls have raised during this mid-year at .

The American Library Association has released their list of the most banned books in America. There are the usual children and young adult books that deal with sex, drugs, divorce and real life. Then there are some oldies but goodies: Number 4 is Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird; Number 6 is J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye; and Number 9 is Alice Walker's The Color Purple. The entire "Twilight series" is banned for its "religious point of view".

The University of Minnesota's Mosaic Project, created after 9/11 to measure America's tolerance for other people, released its findings. Much to their astonishment, the most hated people in the United States were not Muslims, but atheists. A Pew Foundation poll about religious attitudes show a rapid following off of a belief in God by younger people. The percentage is less than half of the older generation. They likened this trend to the secularization of Europe. I think it is a response to the fundamentalist Christians in this country and the fact that they are identified as the "Christians". How repulsive can you get? Would you want to hang around with those guys?

The Pope's approval rating has plummeted to 35% because of the pedophile scandals. One American priest even called for him to resign, which naturally provoked calls from conservative Catholics that the priest be de-frocked. Brits such as Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens want to arrest the Pope for 'crimes against humanity". They and British lawyers claim the Pope does not have diplomatic immunity. I believe as head of the Vatican State, which is represented at the United Nations, he does.

The Vatican's attempt to link the pedophile scandal to homosexuality doesn't hold up both in terms of science but also to the facts of the case. The majority of children molested by priests under the age of 9 are little girls, not little boys. The lion's share of those near-teens are boys. Studies of Irish priests who have molested children show that they were heterosexually inclined.

I can't help thinking of Bob Tyrell's observation that since public schools have failed in the United States, parents should try Catholic Schools. The implications of that are a little rough for the children.

I finally located where the Vatican exorcist may have come up with the idea that demons are most likely to inhabit women's bodies. The early Christian theologian from North Africa, Tertullian wrote "Woman is a temple built over a sewer; the gateway to the Devil." I don't think misogyny has anything to do with it.

Governor Crist of Florida is being sentenced to a political purgatory of his own after vetoing the Education Bill, supported by Jeb Bush which would end--among other things--tenure for teachers or merit pay based on advanced education. Connie Mack stepped down as his campaign chairman and Mitt Romney is rushing into the state to back Marco Rubio. Crist's previous crime was to embrace President Obama and support the stimulus package--which did allow for the largest middle-class tax break in history. But Republicans tax cuts are more valuable than democratic tax cuts as teabagger polls indicate. Next up in Florida is a bill that would allow the state to fund religious schools. Let's see how Crist fares on that.