Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paradigm Lost

The BP failure to stop the bleeding of the earth in the Gulf is another sign that recent paradigm of the modern American economy and politics has exhausted itself. When I started this blog about a year and a half ago, I wrote that the age of Reagan was finally over with the election of Barack Obama. At that point, however, I concurred with Tom Friedman that our society may have become too atomized to reach overarching solutions to major economic and environmental problems. The desire of the Left for Obama to be a reincarnation of FDR was limited not only by the President's radical moderate temperment but also by the reality of the $10 trillion debt George W. Bush left behind that hampered any radical overhaul of the economy. What was important I suggested was Barack Obama's command of the airpace of our political language, which will shape how we view things in the years to come.

The intense reaction to the election of President Obama has given rise to a new type of libertarian Jacobinism, which under the guise of constitutionalism actually attacks the very foundation of the country. In my lifetime, this is the first time a major political party and its front groups actually engaged in sedition. This is not unusual in past American history, which saw rhetorical clashes as vicious and heated as those today. But what is unique is the willful refusal to ignore all reality-based thinking--whether it's the facts of recent major legislation, the dire shape of the economy or even the simple reality that 98% of America got a tax break. In the new meta-history of today's reaction is a conspiracy that actually challenges settled notions about the separation of church and state, the importance of the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act. The nostalgia of a white-dominated society with lassez-faire capitalism seems only to be embraced by a class of people, who either got enormously wealthy during the 1980s and 1990s, or those who enjoy government pensions and social security. Their government entitlement programs were deserved because the government was theirs.

There are two major social movements that have altered society in my lifetime as an adult--the gay rights movement and the environmental movement. On gay rights, the reaction is in its death throes. The abandonment of Don't Ask, Don't Tell is literally months away despite the religious rights warning about servicemen being fellated while asleep at night or a whole armed force infected by HIV. The lunacy of the attacks at this stage are only symptomatic of the last, hysterical and failed attempts to block it. The only thing left for the gay movement is to procure the right to marriage, which will come sooner rather than later. Whether it will be the Prop 8 trial that finally secures gays this right or simply the tolerance of the young toward gays, it's inevitable. This is a long way from when at my college two lonely students met to form a gay organization, while the rest of the student body hid in the bushes to see who actually would come.

The environmental movement is built on a more sturdy political foundation starting with Theodore Roosevelt and the works of pioneers like John Muir and others. However, for a generation it has been forced to fight a rearguard action, despite developing a great body of scientific work to substantiate their claims about everything from climate change to routine environmental degradation. Most importantly, the assimilation by a younger generation of environmental values and an appreciation of wildlife has been revolutionary. ( Colleagues of mine have expressed the wish that the same type of education had been done on democracy and human rights.) Writing about Bill McKibben's Eaarth. I noted my astonishment that Americans favored the environment over economic growth during the Carter Administration. I am now more astonished that the Gallup Poll noted last week that we're now back to that position with a majority of Americans again favoring the environment over economic growth.

Rather than focusing on the failures of the George W. Bush administration, Francis Fukuyama noted the increasing frequency of catastrophes with which government now deal. He wrote in 2008 Blindside: How to Anticipate Forcing Events and Wild Cards in Global Politics. Whether it's 9/11, Katrina, or a rogue North Korea, governments in the 21st century are faced with catastrophic events for which they are unable to cope or anticipate. All of these events, including the global financial meltdown, seem understandable in reflection but not as they are happening. As we saw with the unprecedented expansion of the executive branch under George W and its continuation under Barack Obama, the country does not have an option in this regard, despite all the calls for small government like those by Bobby Jindal, who then cries for more federal assistance and a Nation Plan to deal with such oil disasters.

While there are shards of hope running through many of the developments stimulated by our current Administration, the wholesale distrust of all our institutions, as we know from history, is a recipe for the rise of authoritarianism or totalitarian impulses. The desire to have control and to have stability and order in an uncontrollable world is deep within humans and is successfully exploited by the para-fascists among us. I would submit it is one of the driving forces behind the rise of political religious fundamentalism in the world today. You can no longer promise a utopia on earth but you can offer salvation in the world beyond. This way you have no obligation to have any social policies that benefit the society at large. The day of utopia is perpetually postponed until the end-time.

One of the accomplices in global fundamentalism is the world of business. In a way, the term Islamofacism is appropriate to what we see in the Middle East, particularly in Iran. Even Al Qaeda has no objections to free markets and business enterprises. In fact, it thrives on its own entrepeneurial spirit. The same applies to our own fundamentalist Christians, who,along with Glenn Beck, decry a social gospel but elevate the accumulation of wealth and material goods through the free market. And in looking at the past history of fascism both in Italy and Germany, the state's partner were large corporations, who have survived to this day as manufacturing companies, the auto industry and the pharmaceutical industry.

But this past is not likely to become our reality. If Obama can not be FDR and implement the tool-kit of the Left to solve our current crisis, the right can not retreat to some 1930s or even 1980s past. As horrific as the Gulf Coast disaster is, the image of the great vaunted private sector has been irreparably damaged. Apologists for the free market approaches of the past generation might slide over the fact that corporations did not create a single job in 10 years or pay taxes but they always could claim that the private sector always did things better than the government. This is tougher to argue when Americans want the government to dramatically intervene to prevent further destruction by BP. With the orgy of greed on Wall Street, there is a natural populist reaction against large corporations and their ethics of plunder and looting.

It seems to me the rhetorical stance of the teabaggers and Republicans is losing almost every argument and is becoming ghettoized in terms of the applicability of their concepts to dealing with the present and future issues we face. While AEI has now declared that the future will be fought between Big Government and Free Enterprise, I seriously doubt that any of the concepts of the past generation will survive the test of time. I also don't believe the language of the progressives will have much durability either. Here , it's less to do with the soundness of the ideas proposed than the reality of the nature of who holds power in our society.

I don't mean to suggest that there will not be some knee-jerk reaction in our mid-term elections. But it's quite clear that the Republicans are totally devoid of any real ideas that can actually benefit the society at large or , for that matter, their own private interest groups. A prime example, we saw, in the healthcare reform debate. While Republicans were funded to the gills by the insurance industry, industry wonks were meeting and outlining how the industry was no in a death spiral because they using an antiquated business model. If health care reform had not passed, the industry would literally implode in a few years. The irony would have been a defeat of healthcare reform and the business funding the Republicans going bankrupt within 3-4 years time.

I've written that the United States must make serious structural changes if it is going to have a sustainable economy in the future. What Barack Obama has done is give a lease of life to our auto industry, banking sector and the health insurance industry and put down seed money on alternative energy sources. But that is obviously not enough. I don't foresee how we can change overnight without dire economic consequences from an economy built on consumption to one of production. However, we are going to have to think our way to that future.

Francis Fukuyama also wrote a very perceptive book in the 1990s Trust: the Social Virtures and the Creation of Prosperity, which examines how a society's trust in its basic institutions fosters the development of an economy. At that time he contrasted our own civil society with the weaknesses in other countries such as Latin America. Unfortunately, we may have to re-read his book as a warning to where we are going in terms of an erosion in the rtust within our own society and how that can lead to our de-development.

The 1980s and 1990s is so past. Look at the attempts to play Gotcha politics on the Obama Administration. The recent attempt is the minor flap over Clinton approaching Joe Sestak over a job that would make him skip the Senate primary in Pennsylvania. Conservatives led by Rush Limbaugh, Liz Cheney and the rest are in high dungeon. Rep. Issa claims this is an impeachable offense. We have all seen this playbook before and we have all seen the disasterous consequences this type of nonsense creates. All the old games are being applied as if we are in a prosperous time and have the luxury of being concerned about such matters. It's clear to me that if the Republicans take back the House, their only idea is to impeach President Obama and it doesn't matter on what basis.

If that should happen, the United States stops being a major country. Full stop. Impeach a war-time President during a Depression and the first African-American in front of the whole world. Friend or foe will have to conclude that America simply is not a serious country. The same goes with the election of Sarah Palin. No self-respecting ally could countenance cooperation with us at any level. They would politely receive American diplomats out of old times sakes but have to ignore virtually anything we suggested or said.

Percolating within the teabagger reaction is the old Republican bugaboo--isolationism. They have not been able to articulate this or realize that their libertarian allies are opposed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What George W actually implemented was a type of unilateralism, which would satisfy nativists and isolationists, but has no viable place in a world where problems are global. But that isolationism can be a tool to examine the size of our military/terrorist complex and its negative effects on our deficit. Here, we are on autopilot until the next crisis-which will be a true policy of dealing with our deficit without destroying every last vestige of our social system.

One of the issues systems analysts warn us about is that dismanting a complex system eliminates its essence and generates a series of unintended consequences which are difficult to reverse. I have written how Thomas Franks perceptively analyzed how the Republican plan to privatize social security would demolish that program because it would cost trillions to put it back together. While that is the intent of the free market advocates, the consequences to our political economy would be horrendous and there will not be a free market solution to the outcome.

At the present, President Obama is basically in the position of buttressing aging institutions so that we can move forward in the future. But the new paradigm has not yet evolved. It is likely to include very localized solutions to a number of problems, including education, and larger national programs to counter catastrophes. While environmentalists desire global solutions for the urgent issues of climate change, it's more likely that measures will adopted by smaller governmental units to mitigate the inevitable effects of the oncoming enviromental disasters. What will be the conflict, it seems to me, is the fight between too big too fail and smaller, more adaptable strategies to deal with everything from war to energy production to banking. The fate of very large structures seems to me in question.

We have to prepare for worst case scenarios. I envision that we will see emerge in the not too distant future an substantial underground economy in goods and services based on the personal surpluses of everything from CDs, books, art, cars and household appliances. I have even seen in Pennsylvania the development of a local barter economy in areas that are depressed. Luckily,the United States after decades of conspicuous consumption has consumer goods to spare. I would hope someday soon that voices would be heard from the financial and baking sector concerning their social responsibility. I shared the President's naivete that the banking sector once bailed out by the American tax payer would actually modify its approaches to mortgage lending and small business loans. Instead, the sector declared war against the American tax-payer.

What has been missing in our domestic debate is the rather unique phenomenon of American firms relocating overseas to avoid anyone's taxes. After becoming a global company through defense contracts, Halliburton is no longer American but a Dubai-based firm. All the companies involved in the BP Gulf disaster are either based in the Marshall Islands or Switzerland, although the contractors like Deepwater Horzion all began their history as American firms. The same applies to someone like Fox News, which now is owned by a Dubai-based entity. Yet, the teabaggers support these companies over the American government. Look at Rand Paul criticizing Obama for being "anti-American" when he slammed British Petroleum's response to the oil spill.

What is likely to emerge in the final days of reaction will be a new debate about freedom. For the past several years, Americans have experienced the dreadful impact of private interests on their personal lives and are aware that non-governmental entities can be just a threat to personal freedom as the government. What Americans have reacted against is the perceived ineffectual response of the government to complicated problems. Only the 18% of Americans, who identify with the teabaggers, believe that government is the greater threat to their liberties. The irony is that this segment of the population benefits from things put into place during the last Great Depression such as FDIC, social security, and later Medicare and military pensions.

The Founding Fathers were prophetic in their skepticism that private property brought happiness. For that reason, they edited out private property and substituted the pursuit of happiness. What may emerge in the future is a reconsideration of the life worth living and a denigration of wealth as a desired goal. While the United States remains remarkably wealthy compared to the rest of the world, the trauma of the last few years can stimulate Americans to consider what they value the most. There will remain the short-term reaction of a sector that wants to retreat to a mythical past but there will emerge new thinkers articulating the greater good. I suspect most of these ideas will not come directly from the political arena but from other disciplines. The problem in developing the next paradigm will be to articulate how it will emerge in practice.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Wonderful Wacky World of Polls

Democrats have criticized Jerry Brown for not campaigning in California because of the massive personal fortunes being pumped into the race by Meg Whitman. In Washington, this week the news was that Whitman and Carly Fiorina have taken huge leads in the Republican primary, but no mention of the general election. Seems Jerry may have been playing this right, let the Republican flame wars continue. Brown leads Whitman 48-36 and Poizner 48-32.

In the inexplicable department, the Club of Growth has backed teabagger candidate Susan Angle in the Republican primary in Nevada. Why would anyone do that, even from an ideological point of view? This woman is several planks short of a full deck. The recent polls have Hapless Harry Reid trailing Chicken Lady Sue Lowden 42-39% and Tarkanian by 42-41 but leading Angle by 42-39%. In the Republican primary, Chicken Lady leads Teabagger lady 30-29%. Reid had been trailing by over ten just a few weeks ago.

Rand Paul monstrous Rasmussen 25 pt lead over Jack Conway apparently was a mirage. In one poll, he leads by 1 and in another by 4. His anti-Civil Rights attitude hurt him among Democrats and Independents but improved his standing with Republicans--the Party of Lincoln.

Nikki Haley, our Punjabi Sikh sex goddess in South Carolina, is not going to "address the issue of her affair until after the election". Flat-footed Mitt Romney today vouched for her upstanding morals. But her supposed lover just released 1,000s of e-mails between the couple.

Richard Blumenthal, after lying about his Vietnam War service, still clocks in with a 56-31 pt. lead over Wrestling Lady Linda McMahon. The defeated Republican Simmons will not campaign or endorse McMahon. But Joltin' Joey Lieberman, who hasn't gotten much press coverage lately, says he would be "open to backing McMahon", signalling he wants some bribe from the Obama White House. However, Lieberman's defeated rival, Ned Lamont looks like he's going to be the Democratic candidate for Governor. Lieberman's name in Connecticut is mud. I wouldn't worry about it if I were Blumenthal.

In another curious development, South Carolina's Senator Jim "Waterloo" de Mint, the mastermind of Rand Paul's victory, has a Democratic rival Vic Rawls. Rawls has never run for a state-wide race before. A nationally recognized poll has DeMint with a 19 point lead but a 43% approval rating. In a local poll, deMint has a slightly lower approval rating but only a 7 pt. lead.

Admiral Sestak has a 43-40 pt. lead over Club of Growth leader Pat Toomey. Sestak has gained 14 pts among independents and a few pts among Republicans. The caterwauling of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Rep. Issa about Obama committing an impeachable offense by "offering Sestak a job if he withdrew from the Democratic race" is actually about derailing Sestak's momentum and his ability to capitalize on his primary victory. The Toomey candidacy is one of the most important for Republican ideologues.

Progressives are doing cartwheels over Halter's 47-44 lead over Blanche Lincoln but both candidates would lose to the Republican.

In North Carolina, Elaine Marshall has jumped out to a lead over her primary opponent Cal Cummingham. Marshall is now in a statistical tie with the Republican Burr in the general election.

While 70% of Americans are for eliminating Dont' Ask, Don't Tell, the Republicans can not yield on this even though Pentagon officials say it's really time to do away with the policy. It has nothing to do with any military issues. The reason is that the party is to controlled by the Religious Right, who can not tolerate any give on issues pertaining to gays. The House passed a compromise on DADT pending a study at the end of the year and the Senate armed forces committee passed it along party lines. John McCain vows to filibuster the whole defense bill because of the DADT amendment. Always thinking of supporting the troops.

The American Spectator has printed a rumor,which I think is credible. It bolsters my belief that Elena Kagan is really meant to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Spectator claims that Ginsburg will resign within two months to allow Obama to pick another justice with the current Congress. It writes that Ginsburg fears the possible loss of liberal Democrats in the Senate in November, which would restrict Obama's choices. I believe that choice #3 is the liberal since the composition of the Congress will not change until 2012. This would allow the #4 judge by Obama, which would shift the gravity of the court for a long-time, to be someone that would not be a lightening rod because of his or her opinions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Countdown to Rapture

Carol Bauer issued her Capital Prayer Alert asking her prayer group at American Values to try and persuade Christians who are waiting for the imminent return of Jesus Christ not to simply give up and wait but also to vote. "You can be a modern Esther 'for a time like this'. Also you can donate.

Bryan Fischer writes for the website Rightly Concerned a piece entitled, "Would Jesus sign the Arizona immigration law? In a heartbeat." Fischer is the policy director of a Beltway Christian values organization. Clearly, he must be a compassionate conservative.

Whatever Jesus may or may not sign, Latinos are abandoning the Republican party in droves. Obama enjoys a 68% approval rating and Democrats enjoy a 54-21 approval/disapproval rating. the Republicans are now at 22% approval and 44% disapproval. In 2010 races, Democrats are topping their 2008 high in getting the Latino vote--now 58%. Polls are showing White in Texas is gaining Latino support and Democratic Senatorial candidate in Arizona Glassman is now seizing the majority.

Libertarians feel betrayed by Rand Paul and are thinking about running a candidate against him in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell said that Paul has "talked enough."

One of the Republicans 'Top Gun" recruits for this year--Vaughn Ward-- lost his primary race to Raul Labrador in Idaho's 1st District. Vaughn had announced his candidacy by literally repeating Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 Convention. It was also discovered that all his policy positions had been lifted verbatim from the websites of other candidates around the country. In his debate with Labrador, Ward did not know whether Puerto Rico was a country and suggested we did not want it as part of the United States. It was thought that Ward would be a shoe-in against Democrat Walt Minnick, who won in 2008. Sarah Palin flew into the state to endorse him but actually faced demonstrations by Republicans.

Sarah Palin's other big pick Nikki Haley, candidate for governor of South Carolina, really was naughty and had an affair with Will Folks, a Republican operative and blogger. In the e-mails discovered by the press, it appears there is even a photo. The e-mails also document that Nikki asked Will how to handle this issue with the media. What is strange by now is that neither party is denying the e-mails. But Haley is denying the affair.

Dino Rossi has entered the Republican field in Washington State after months of arm-twisting by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. They believe he can beat Patty Murray, who currently has about an 8pt lead over him. But teabaggers aren't taking this lying down and vow to run a candidate against him. Dino Rossi has run perpetually as long as I can remember.

Today I endorse another Republican for office. Young Boozer--really his name--for Treasurer of the Great State of Alabama.

The Republican mayor of Reno, Nevada, the city made famous in the television series RENO 911, proclaimed his friendship with Chicken Lady Sue Lowden but insisted on calling her Suicidal Sue.

While Obama bounces around between 48-52% approval rating, the generic lead for Democrats in congressional races now clicks in at 4-6% over Republicans. Even Tan Man Boehner admitted to Fox News that taking over the house will be a "heavy lift". This is a dramatic change of tone from just two weeks ago when he said that the GOP could pick upwards to 70 seats and that over 100 were in play. Yesterday, he suggested that Republicans could pick up 30.

While the majority of Americans believe the stimulus package didn't work, the CBO has a new report out today that says it created upwards of 2.8 million jobs and meant between 1.7-4.1% higher in the GDP. By September, the report says that the total jobs created will be 3.7 million, which exceeds President Obama's predictions.

For such a screw-up, President Obama seems to have the Midas touch. He made money from the bank bailouts. He got paid back with interests on the GM loans. And even with the disasterous BP oil spill, it looks like the government will make over $30 billion in fines. And his stimulus package will have created 700,000 more jobs than he promised. What a loser.

It looks like DADT will finally come to a close by the end of this week. A CNN poll shows that 78% of Americans support open gays serving in the military. Even 60% of Republicans support the idea.

Large majorities of Americans now support immigration reform, even among Republicans.

While James Carville was screaming at President Obama to come to Louisiana, (which he's doing on Friday)the President has sent 22,000 people to the Gulf and has over 1,000 vessels out at sea near the leak. A few weeks ago he sent Steven Chu to Houston with a team of hand-picked scientists to figure out a solution. One of these scientists was an expert on the engineering problems involved with Mars. Apparently, they are comparable to the operations 5,000 feet below the sea.

The Senate Republicans invited President Obama to lunch to talk policy. However, it has been reported that the exchanges were heated. We know about them because the hosts within minutes of the lunch breaking up repeated verbatim what they said to the President. But no one reported on what the President said. The last time this happened, Obama ate the House Republicans for lunch because it was aired on television. This time the Southern Senators made sure they got the final word. A pretty rude display considering they invited the President of the United States. But then again he is black and they are Southerners, who know how to handle these things.

Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions says that he may delay the Elena Kagan hearings until he has read all the memos she wrote in the Clinton Administration. Interesting statement. He's not the chairman and he can't dictate the schedule. And the Boy won't wait for you either.

Elena Kagan doesn't cross her legs like a lady when she sits. That passes for thought around here.

If you listen to Baked Alaska, Glenn Beck and watch Drudge, there is a creepy writer snooping around the Palins. He's even rented a house near them in Wasilla. He's like a stalker even though it was Sarah Palin who took a photo of the author reading on his deck. Beck has demanded Random House cancel the author's contract or his viewers will boycott them. Who is the mysterious creep--none other than Joe McGinness! Random House issued a statement vouching for the record and accomplishments of their long-time author, including his book on Alaska. Apparently, Baked Alaska never read it. Afterall, her father last week said pointedly that "she doesn't make any decisions." I wonder who around her does.

Glenn Beck is concerned that Christians don't understand that they will lose their religious freedoms. He says that Barack Obama is orchestrating an advertising boycott of his show to silence him. Anthony Weiner, the SEIU, the AFL-CIO, Van Jones, and others are in on the plot and meeting regularly with Barack Obama to discuss this. He says that Barack and Michelle Obama listened to Jeremiah Wright about the issue of religious freedom. And, I am sure, Glenn, he said to shut down the churches.

The name Jeremiah Wright is what they call "the tell" in gambling. Jeremiah Wright is known in certain Christian circles as being one of the leading crusaders against the so-called "Gospel of Wealth". You know the people that say Jesus doesn't want you poor, he wants you rich. He has been battling the in-roads they have made in the black community and been trying to get black churches to affirm their historical mission. While people remember the Republicans playing Wright's "Chickens have come home to roost" sermon, they do not realize how connected the Wealth Gospel people are to Republicans. That is why Glenn Beck tells everyone to leave any church which has a social gospel. The only ones without one are these well-paid Elmer Gantrys,peddling get rich schemes.

The Republican-wing of the Tea Party led by Mark Williams, our Nixon dirty trickster, has vowed to defeat Scott Brown because he betrayed the Tea Party. The more I listen to the teabaggers I get the distinct impression that their ideal of America existed under the Articles of Confederation. During a Connecticut tea party led by Dick Armey, the audience enthusiastically called for secession from the United States and a convention of states, which would withhold federal incomes taxes from the national government until it capitulated to its demands. One of the big fights against our Constitution was brought about because states feared a national government. I get the sense these people did time travel back to that debate. Unfortunately, for them, many of the states like Texas, which have suggested secession, get far more in federal spending than they give. To Dick Armey's credit, he tried to put a damper on such discussion. You get a distinct feeling that the tea baggers are no longer useful and are an embarassment to Republicans. But it's too late.

Tom Tancredo wants to organize rallies in Arizona in favor of their immigration bill. But William Gheen of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC has pulled out of the June 5th rally because its being organized by a man named Dan Smerglio, who has links to neo-Nazis and skinheads. On Smeglio's Facebook page , he lists as his favorite band SAGA, the Swedish Neo Nazi Rock band. Gheen is no angel himself because he called on Lindsey Graham to come out of the closet and admit his homosexuality. Gheen suggested people were blackmailing Graham so he would support immigration reform. You can imagine what these rallies will look like.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Houston, We Have Lift-off

I think I'm getting the hang of this "Take Our Country Back" stuff. In this spirit, I highly recommend the Republican candidate for North Carolina's 8th District--Tim D'Annunzio. Tim is also a blogger with his own informative website "Christ's War", which keeps you abreast of the timing of the apocalypse. But even though he knows the end-time is right around the corner, Tim is enough of a patriot to run for Congress. This is a big sacrifice because he considers the United States Government itself as the "anti-Christ". He discovered the Ark of the Covenant in Arizona and believes God is going to drop a 1,000-mile high pyramid on Greenland. Tim says that he became "born-again" in 1994 during a solar eclipse. He is a self-described religious zealot and campaigned on dismantling the federal government. Locals dismiss his former wife's claim that he said he was the Messiah because it was a bitter divorce.

Tim is sort of a self-made man. Through his company Paraclete Armor and Equipment, he made millions selling the government bullet-proof vests for use in Afghanistan and Iraq. A court, however, ruled that he had stolen the designs for the vests from another manufacturer. He used $1 million from his firm for the primary race.

Tim overcame a checkered past to emerge as a political leader for tomorrow. At the age of 16, he was jailed for robbing a postal jeep. He was arrested for burglary and assaulting a police officer at the age of 19. He was again arrested for trespassing. He enlisted in the army and was given an honorable discharge when he was cited for 'smoking marijuana". He later became addicted to heroin and went into de-tox.

Tom Felzer, the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, was alarmed by D'Annunzio's victory. " By my personal observation of his behavior, and by acquaintance with his record and background, I consider Mr. D'Annunzio unfit for public office at any level," he said to the Charlotte Observer. " What he could do to the party as our nominee is secondary in my view to what he could do to the country if he got elected. If he got elected, for crying out loud, that would be a disaster." Just the establishment trying to protect itself from the "Real Americans."

Rand Paul still has a white supremacist problem as does his father, who thought David Duke represented an anti-Big Government type of politician. Apparently Rand has received anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million from white supremacist groups for his campaign. He is also linked to the John Birch Society, which has spawned such great neo-Nazi leaders as Revilo Oliver, Tom Metzger, William Pierce and Kevin Strom.

I did see a sign "Flouride in the Water is a Communist Plot".

The Truth Keeps Marching On!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kola Nuts

The Rand Paul Love Revolution is getting side-tracked. It appears that the KKK and the neo-Nazis are fund-raising for him. Even Republican bloggers are demanding he return the funds and the GOP denounce the white supremacists like they did with David Duke in the past. So far, just crickets. Even worse people are reprinting the tweets from white supremo Don Black that Ron Paul asked him to raise funds for his son. Having been defended as a neophyte politician and not racist because of his libertarianism, it appears that Rand Paul has a record of actually campaigning around the country on repealing the Civil Rights Act. His spokesperson used to play for a heavy metal band out of Bowling Green,Ohio and tweeted on Martin Luther King Day "Happy Ni**er Day". He hasn't been heard of in days. Maybe Alan Greenspan, the world's best known libertarian, came come to Rand's defense.

Hapless Harry Reid looks like he will have fun this November. The Chicken Lady has plummeted in the polls and teabagger Sharon Angle is emerging as the GOP front-runner. Angle was voted the worst member of the Nevada Assembly in 1999 and in 2005. She told Politico ,"They ( the Democrats) missed the pulse of the nation. There is a new tide of conservatism sweeping the nation."

Her campaign platform should certainly raise a few eye-brows. She will cut billions and billions from the federal government. She will build nuclear reactors within Yucca Mountains. She will abolish the income tax and replace it with a flat tax. She will abolish Social Security and Medicare. She will defund Obamacare. She will ban all abortions. She will pull the United States out of the United Nations. She will get rid of the Department of Energy and the Education Department. She will get rid of all limits to campaign financing. In heavily Hispanic Nevada, she advocates adopting a tough Arizona-type immigration law.

Eric Massa, the deposed Democratic congressman accused of sexually harassing male staffers and the star of the Glenn Beck Holy Hour, told Esquire that Dick Cheney met with Generals at the Pentagon and advocated a military coup against President Obama. He also said that Cheney tried to recruit General Petraeus to be the Republican nominee in 2012. Probably all true even though Massa is coo-coo for cocoa puffs.

Richard Blumenthal, who once had a monstrous lead in the Connecticut Senate race, apparently still has a huge lead in the race, even after he apologized for "mis-speaking about his military service in Vietnam". Polls indicate he has anywhere between a 3 point (Rasmussen) to 15 point lead (Public Policy).

The RNC isn't doing so hot. At the end of April, it had $12.5 milion cash on hand. The average from 2002-2006 was $40 million. For the by-election in 2006, for example, they averaged $46 million in the bank each month. The DNC has $15 million. Usually, Republicans compensated for their lack of numbers with their bankroll. Unless Karl Rove's secret Republican Party is producing the big bucks, there will be a liquidity problem come Fall.

The Baked Alaskan charges that President Obama is in the pocket of the oil industry. So far this year, the oil industry has donated $12.8 million to candidates, 71% were to Republicans. In 2008, they contributed 77% of their campaign pledges to Republicans and over 2/3rds of their Presidential contributions to the McCain/Palin ticket. Also heard from the Quittah from Wasilla was that Obama's criticizing BP was "un-American." The previous week she said that Obama's problem with the oil spill was not going with an American company.

Another Republican in South Carolina, who won the party's nomination for Congress, is being beat up by the GOP leaders. They happen to find out that he is likely to be indicted soon.

Jan Brewer, the Governor of Arizona, has requested predator drones from the federal government to hunt down illegals.

A blogger at the Dailykos outlined a possible strategy for Democrats this fall. The blogger said that Democrats must get the most extreme positions of Republican candidates on record and make them defend them in public. We have not seen such extreme positions since the 1960s.

Which raises the issue of how could the John Birch Society survive and even thrive after the death of Communism? Today's new Republican candidates' policy positions are straight out of the John Birch Society.

If you want a hint at how slanted Rasmussen's polling is these days, he had Rand Paul with a 25% lead over the Democrat Jack Conway the night after the primary, even though all other polls had Rand 1% ahead.

35,000 New Jersey citizens protested the obliteration of the state's educational system by Governor Christie. Half the crowd of the so-called teabaggers' first rally in Washington,D.C. But there was scant news coverage.

Drips and Drabs

Arizona's immigration king Charles Pearce is back at it again. This time he wants to repeal the 14th amendment by depriving children born of immigrants on U.S. soil for their citizenship. If you follow where the idea comes from, it's part and parcel of the Christian Nationalist and White Supremacist movements' dogma. There are real Americans like me and then anyone legalized by the 14th Amendment--freed blacks and women and immigrants are second-class citizens. That is the core of their argument against Obama's elgibility for office. Now Arizona wants to purge the state of their Hispanic and native American heritage.

Rand Paul had a few hectic days after his primary win. He joins Louis Farrakhan and Prince Bandar as the only people who have failed to show on Face The Nation after booking an appearance. Rand Paul's response about repealing the Civil Rights Act for public accomodations not only produced considerable backlash from the media and Democrats but also led to the unsightly emergence of old conservative thoughts on the Civil Rights Act itself, including the very ugly writings of Bill Buckley,Jr. in the 1950s, writings which he later publically regretted. The more research into Rand Paul and his positions the worse it got. He appeared before the extreme right Constitution Party conference and the neo-Nazi Stormfront website endorsed him. A raw libertarian candidate dramatizes the deep weaknesses in libertarianism as an actual governing philosophy.

America's Sheriff Joe Arpaio doesn't look like he'll be riding the anti-immigration tide in Arizona much longer. Papers delivered to the court showed that the sheriff has a slight problem of manipulating $50 million of public funds in Maricopa County and the County Board would like to know more.

Linda McMahon showed that the Republicans are recruiting high caliber candidates. The World Wrestling Federation head beat Ann Coulter's favorite Rob Simmons for the Republican nomination for the Conneticut Senate seat. I hate to say it but Ann Coulter was right.

In Nevada, "Chicken Lady" Sue Lowden won a victory of sorts. Voters will not be able to cast their ballots wearing chicken outfits. I guess this constitutes compaigning.

Sarah Palin endorsed the daughter of a Punjab Sikh for the governorship of South Carolina. Nikki Haley was also supported by Jenny Sanford, the former wife of the Love Gov. But this morning things went the way they always do with South Carolina's Republicans--Nikki Haley had an "inappropriate physical relationship" with a fellow party member.

Charles Djou became the first Republican congressman from Hawaii in twenty years in a special election to replace Neil Abercrombie, who's running for governor. The Democrats split nearly 60% of the vote. Djou runs again in November. Lots of luck.

Charlie Crist still leads in the Florida Senate race with 30% over teabagger Marco Rubio's 27%.

Secessionist Rick Perry leads Democrat White by nine in the latest polls. However, as expected, White has insurmontable leads in the Hispanic community as a result of the Arizona law and the Republican support of it. The fly in the oinment may come as the Libertarians are to select their candidate, who may or may not endorse Perry. By and large, the poll is good news for White this far out from November.

Oklahoma over-rode the vetoes against their antediluvian abortion laws, again reinstating the ultrasound requirement of all pregnant women.

The Book you waited a Century For: This November the University of California will finally publish the Memoirs of Mark Twain. Sam Clemens spent the last decade of his life writing his memoirs but in his will demanded they not be published until 100 years after his death. To be published as a trilogy, they consist of 1/2 million words on his opinions about God, religion, missionaries, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Spanish-American War. He devotes over 400 pages in an addendum to his affair with his secretary Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, with whom he took up after the death of his wife Olivia in 1904. He writes that she bought him a electrical vibrating sex toy. And that's the nice part. He then says she hypnotized him and tried to take financial advantage of him. As a celebrity writer,it's fitting that he makes a comeback now.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

In Pursuit of the Christianists

Thomas Jefferson cut out of textbooks because he created the separation of Church and State. Revisionist historians claiming America was founded as a Christian nation. A President who tells Jacques Chirac that Gog and Magog are loose in the Middle East. Christian fundamentalist politicians telling the Israelis to build settlements in defiance of American official policy so that Jesus will return and the Jews will finally be incinerated. The prayer leader of the GOP saying that "God is the most terrible terrorist of them all". A fundamentalist preacher who urges Flordia to "cure the Gay." School boards who want to ban teaching evolution. A former vice Presidential candidate who refers to herself as Esther. The governor of Arizona who claims that God chose her to run.

Who are all these people? And where have they come from? And how did they get so much influence in the United States?

I don't expect anyone but myself to read the books I list here. I am embarking on the futile pursuit like Ahab after the White Whale of the Christianists.

To fortify myself, first comes Isaac Kramnick & R. Laurence Moore's The Godless Constitution: A Moral Defense of the Secular State (Norton, 2005). Rice University's D. Michael Lindsay interviews hundreds of evangelical business leaders and politicians for Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite (Oxford,2007). Evangelical professor of Church History at Wheaton College, Mark Noll treads thin ice in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Eerdsman,1994). For my stay out in Rev. Hagee's Ohio, I'm taking Sarah Posner's God's Profits: Faith,Fraud and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, (PoliPoint Press, 2008), which skewers practitioners of the prosperity gospel.

Rev. Ronald J. Sider tries to emulate Mark Noll's effect on evangelical thinking by asking about The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience:Why are Christians Living Just Like The Rest of the World? (Baker, 2005). This slim book critiques the evangelicals lack of Christian behavior and ethos and their remarkable propensity to mirror the very behavior they deplore. The Evangelical community is plagued by spousal abuse, meth addiction, porn use, adultery and out of wed pregnancies but it lectures the rest of us about family values. Not content with stirring things up about behavior, he returns in The Scandal of Evangelical Politics: Why are Christians Missing the Chance to Really Change the World?(Baker, 2008). Here he tries to work through a political ethic for evangelicals that would avoid both the Right and the Left and be more focused on espousing Christian values.

But it's tough when the Air Force Academy is right next door to James Dobson. Fighting the good fight in stopping the abuse by fundamentalists of our armed forces,Michael Weinstein and Davin Seay chronicles the fight of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation against the erosion of church and state within our armed services, especially during the last Administration. He successfully blocked Franklin Graham from being the chairman of the Pentagon's National Prayer Day Task Force. No pinko, Michael Weinstein was legal counsel to the Reagan White House. The book-With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against An Evangelical Coup in America's Military (Thomas Dunne, 2008).

Hopefully, I can penetrate these questions before John Ensign of Family fame is forced to resign from the Senate.

Thursday Coffee--New Guinea

MID-TERMS. There seems to be a crack in Charles Cook's armor--he is flummoxed by the GOP loss in Pennsylvania's 12th District. This district had been trending toward Republicans for years and if this year was going to be a landslide GOP year that seat was easy pickings.

Former moderate-conservative congressman Tom Davis, who used to run the GOP house elections, agrees and claims that the tsunami will probably look more like tornedoes hitting ground in sporadic areas of the country. Davis had the good observation that the Republican candidate Burns ran against the "Obama-Pelosi agenda", while the Democrat Critz ran on local issues with a good dollop of economic populism. Davis thinks that the GOP's effort to "nationalize" the House elections is a disaster and that if Democrats keeping plugging away district by district on the concerns of consituencies they will minimize their losses this year.

While Obama had an approval rating of about 30% in the district, Bush and Cheney had only 24% saying they did a good job. The Republican brand still suffers a hangover from those years, even in a district that is almost all white, middle-class. Overall, Republicans still only have an approval rating of 32%, which raises doubts whether voters see them as viable alternatives.

Republicans did have a higher intensity for the primaries. Their turnout was 48% and Democrats 44%. The difference is that 2008 was a record year for Democratic registrations so the universe of Democrats is far larger than that of Republicans.

How bad was it for Republicans? We heard the dulcet tones of Ann Coulter eviscerating Tan Man Boehner, who she calls Boner, and the Republican Party for speaking only to conservatives on Fox News and bragging about how awesome their victories are going to be when they have over-promised and can't deliver. "If we gain 30 seats now, it will look like a loss." She's right. She also blasted the party for backing Linda McMahon, the owner of the World Wrestling Federation, for Senate in Connecticut, "one of the wealthiest and best educated states in the union." She favors Yale-educated Simmons, who had served in the CIA and had been a real Colonel in Vietnam. No tea-party for Ann as she launched her vitriol at the Republicans for a change saying they were a bunch of incompetent boobs.

Patrician George Will claimed Tuesday elections were as good as it gets for Democrats. He claimed that Critz won because he distanced himself from Obama and endorsed an anti-abortion position. The latter is true, the former is false. George Will has discovered three "trophy races', which Democrats will lose. Guess which coveted seats they are? Well, of course, Joe Biden's former seat in the Senate from Delaware, Barack Obama's Senate seat in Illinois, and Harry Reid's seat in Nevada. He then went on to mock those who criticize Rand Paul because he says that Paul's position are now mainstream. The proof of this is the blurb on Rand Paul's book to abolish the Fed-- by none other than Arlo Guthrie. This proves Rand Paul's popularity.

Rand Paul got himself into immediate hot water by implying that he did not think the Civil Rights Bill should have included private businesses. He was immediately blasted by Democrats, while the Republicans had no comment. Personally, I do not believe he is racist. He is a libertarian ideologue who can not envision any other threat to freedom except from the state. His lovable father, however, is a racist and did vote against the Civil Rights bill.

The President of the Tea Party Express, the former Nixon dirty trickster Mark Williams said that "Islam is a 7th Century Death Cult coughed up by a psychotic pedophile." Pretty vivid.

Family Values Vin Fossella has received the endorsement of the Staten Island GOP for his bid to return to Congress. Vin loves families so much he has two of them--one on Staten island, the other here in Virginia.

Mark Souder said in his resignation speech that he was resigning because he didn't want the publicity of his adultery to overshadow the good work he has devoted his life to in defending family values. He claims these eternal values are more important than him. This argument seems hypocritical to outsiders but to the social conservatives there is nothing odd about it. Love the sinner--sort of--condemn the sin and legislate against others.

Rasmussen has a poll out today that shows Admiral Joe Sestak leading Pat Toomey 46 to 42.

The bottom-line on Tuesday's primaries is that the Senate races in Kentucky and Pennsylvania are tied and in Arkansas the Republicans have the lead. In Oregon basically voters chose all incumbents for their legislature and a former Governor as the Democratic nominee to return. Republicans chose former Portland Trailblazer Chris Dudley, who is tall.

Glenn Beck has created an independent website that tries to smear Congressman Weiner. Did Beck killed that girl in the 1990s? Just wondering. Pass it on.

The GOPosaurs filibustered the Finance Reform Bill yesterday. Scott Brown went back on his word to Harry Reid. Otherwise we would have had a vote. So far the GOP has killed a cap on ATM fees, with Senators admitting they don't use ATMs; caps on predatory lending on payday loans; caps on credit card rates; and they have stalled the amendment on derivative trading. Russ Feingold joined the Republicans in voting against closure because he felt the bill was not strong enough.

Most outsiders believe the bill has gotten stronger by the day but progressives are disappointed in the lack of provisions to prevent To Big To Fail and its lack of strict regulations of derivative trading. The Roosevelt Institute criticized people like me saying let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good, saying that Democrats filibustered FDR's first financial reform bill until the FDIC was created. Good point.

Hapless Harry will try again today for cloture because the legislative calender is getting tight.

Time's Up

Do yourselves a favor, read Eaarth: Making A Life On A Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben ( Times, 2010), who has written about climate change since they days it was called the "greenhouse effect". Living in Vermont, McKibben tries to outline how Americans may adapt to times of pitiless shortages and environmental catastrophes. It would be nice to call this book a jeremiad but unfortunately it's merely realistic reporting on how we have altered the global environment and virtually wrecked the conditions that sustained human civilization for 10,000 years. We are literally living on a different planet than all the generations who came before us. Now that planet has become harsh and life will become extremely hard.

As McKibben makes clear it is very likely I will live to see the day Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam dries up completely and California and Southwestern America cease to have water. The first part of the book documents in sometimes excruciating detail what scientists are discovering around the world--the melting glaciers, the disappearing ice caps, the rapid acidizing of the oceans and the disappearance of oil supplies. He does a wonderful job in explaining how all these traumas to our ecosystem inter-relate and what their real-life consequences are.

McKibben reports on scientific meetings where papers are presented that argue that we have already passed the thresholds of carbon dioxide, where climate change is now irreversible. In fact, scientists are so alarmed because it no longer is gradual but changing at quantum levels every few years. In one poignant scene of a scientist presenting a paper in England demonstrating that the carbon emissions levels are actually twice what was projected, the scientist begs his audience to prove him wrong. They remained silent and stunned by his findings.To me what was surprising was McKibben description of how our impact on the environment has now created the natural conditions by which the earth itself is polluting with methane at a rate as fast as humans.

McKibben revisits the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth, which came out in the 1970s and reviews their different scenarios for economic growth. This was the first computer-driven analysis of a multi-variable model of economic growth ever produced. For that reason, it attracted the attention of wonks. As McKibben finds out, we actually chose--deliberately--the worst economic model for the past generation. A model that ramped up consumption, waste and indebtedness. He called it the 4 hour erection that Viagra ads warn men about. And if it's too big to fail, it already failed.

What surprised me was that in the 1970s, polls indicated that a plurality of Americans favored limiting economic growth. McKibben works through how economic growth became the mantra of both political parties even though we had already passed the year of peak American oil production and were running into peak global oil production last year.

McKibben points out that we have to embrace alternative energy sources out of necessity. He also soberly points out that nuclear energy is not an option because we have run out of money. We have to understand that our economy is old and that we are now in the stage where we have to conserve and preserve. He analyzes this component as central to Obama's stimulus package--the repair of our infrastructure, which we neglected for twenty-five years. And while he salutes the new President's commitment to alternative energy, he points out how the political will simply does not exist anywhere in our political system to do anything to ameliorate the effects of climate change and envirommental degradation.

McKibben points out how the Defense Department is already studying the implications of climate change for national security. It is thought that we will see 700 million people become climate refugees and that we will return to an era of real resource wars around the world. He also indicates that some of the Defense plans deal with the mass removal of Americans from areas of natural disaster, especially the anticipated massive flooding of the East Coast.

McKibben does a wonderful job of integrating the science of climate change with the economic impact on the planet. He also explains how the mundane insurance industry has been battered by the frequency of hurricanes, flooding and weather-related claims and how the industry admits that their models ,which have been reliable for the last century at projecting such damage, are now inadequate. The consequence is that governments now have to assume the insurance liabilities once assumed by the private sector.

McKibben is unusually good at analysing the wreckage in China, where they have adopted an American idea of progress and are reaping a world of total environmental and health disasters. He claims that the worst Bush failure, among the several, was not interferring to persuade China not to engage in their full-court press to rachet up their coal-burning power plants. This policy means that China will be emitting more carbon into the air than the rest of the planet combined. For those who argue that China will emerge as the dominant power, McKibben has the best answer to that I've read. Instead, he argues with data that China will suffer immense food shortages and grave periods of drought and health epidemics that will imperil their existence as a country.

McKibben spends the last third of the book depicting positive developments in the United States on how Americans can and do adapt to the sudden lack of mobility and the re-creation of communities. In a way, he reminds me of James Kuntsler, the dystopian who envisions a de-developed America resorting to pre-industrial modes of production. McKibben warns us that large parts of the United States will exist in a state resembling developing countries. The change we'll need to adopt will be very hard for millions of people and also for the psychology of Americans, who need the great National Project.

Whatever one's political point of view, McKibben's portrait of our global reality is hard to refute. Unfortunately, the implications of what he describes have not been digested by anyone in our political culture. He makes Al Gore look positively pollyannish.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tumbling Dice

No, Exiles on Main Street is not the greatest rock-and-roll album of all time, despite what Matt Lauer thinks. It still is great. Are we supposed to laugh when Lauer asked Keith Richards whether he was on drugs while recording it? Look at that face.

The Baked Alaskan addressed the Susan B. Anthony Foundation, a group of conservative, anti-abortion feminists the other day. As I wrote about the group during the Massachusetts Senate race, they have no connection to Susan B. Anthony and Anthony had literally no connection to the abortion issue. But Susan B. Anthony's biographer and archivist weighed in on Palin's embrace that Anthony was a hero of hers. She did say that, yes, Republicans could claim Susan B. Anthony as their own if they wanted. Anthony did in fact cast a vote in 1872 for Ulysses S. Grant. The act of casting the vote led to her conviction of a felony.

But the author noting that Susan B. Anthony was a Quaker until later in life she became a Unitarian has some interesting things to say about the righteous religious folks she encountered. " I dislike those who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires," wrote Anthony. A blogger notes that Sarah Palin is more like Carrie Nation,'s self-description "a bulldog running along at the feet of Jesus, barking at what He doesn't like."

Minnesota Public Radio and the Humphrey Institute are now going to fact-check statements made by Michelle Bachman. They claim that local journalists are not doing their job. On the PoliFact "Truth-O-Meter", Bachman was caught lying on nine statements. They only tested nine.

The Proposition 8 Trial took an intresting turn. It seems that the anti-gay position was "supported" with research by Dr. Rekers, who won fame with the Rent Boy scandal. Apparently,the pro-gay marriage team will be asking the court to rule out this testimony and to identify all the witnesses who used Rekers' research.

More Mid-Term Republicans need 38 seats to take control of the House. According to Congressional Quarterly, if Republicans won every toss-up election, they would barely pick up 30 seats.

The vote counts are in from yesterday's elections. Democrats received 65-75% of all the votes cast--which puts a damper on the whole intensity question.

For a measured analysis of yesterday's events, check out Nate Silver's article at

Richard Blumenthal's Senate campaign has collapsed. His lead in the polls vanished overnight when it was revealed he lied about serving in Vietnam.

Democrat John Spratt suffers from Parkinson's and is running for re-election. The GOP is conducting a smear campaign that he is suffering from Alzheimer's. The surprise here is that the GOP never used to go after Spratt because he's a pro-defense Democrat.

Rand Paul's victory speech was a piece of work. He blasted President Obama for going to the Copenhagen talks on climate change saying that Robert Mugabe,Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales were there and that they demanded the end of capitalism. He's a piece of work. I doubt whether he has said these things before to the people in Kentucky. He's an arrogant wacko.

Glenn Beck says that no one will write about Obama's McCarthyism. I will. Beck claims that the Obama Administration is attacking him and urging all his sponsors to boycott his show. He claims that another Obama apparatchik is now going after Goldline, his major sponsor, to get at him. The Obama functionary is Anthony Weiner, New York congressman, who is investigating Goldline for its sale of gold coins at twice the market value to unsuspecting customers as a "good investment". In short, he is investigating Goldline for "fraud". But, never fear, Glenn Beck has picked up another sponsor--Dick Armey's Freedomworks paid for by the Koch Industries. Beck promises you a DVD with his Plan for America.

Dana Milbank in today's Washington Post has a leisurely review of all the scandals that affected the Republican Class of 1994. Mark Souder's extramarital affair kicked off this nostalgic review. It also should be sent around by the Democrats, warning what a Republican take-over of the House would mean.

Concerned Women of America, another conservative so-called feminist organization,weighed in on Mark Souder's sex scandal saying," If it happened to him, it could happen to anyone. The environment on the Hill is so poisonous."

Could we hear applause for Kevin Costner. I never liked him as an actor but he has done something really terrific. Since the Valdez oil spill, Kevin Costner has been funding 15 scientists to develop an invention that could be used to clean up large oil spills. Today, British Petroleum said that they would be using this machine now. It's a fantastic device and was engined to clean up 250,000 barrels of oil through a process I don't understand. As far as we know, this is the first time it will be used. Good Luck.

The Known Knowns*

courtesy of America's last great public philsopher, Donald Rumsfeld.

If you watched the primary elections on television, you didn't learn much. Certainly nothing to help you understand the 2010 mid-terms. And if you consulted Drudge or Huffington Post, which is becoming Drudge-like by the day, you still didn't learn much.

O.K., if you are older than 72 and are an incumbent, your seat is probably in danger. Witness Bob Bennett and Arlen Specter. Watch for the McCain primary next. McCain has some of the problems Specter has. Instead of changing political parties, he's changing his known political positions like a weather vane. In short, like Specter, he's not seen as reliable.

And what about the great teabaggers? Yes, they used the caucus system in Utah to oust Bennett, a primary target since the TARP bailout. But, what about Rand Paul's defeat of the establishment candidate Trey Grayson in Kentucky? Here we have a real circumstance where people have to vote in larger numbers. Rand Paul is the son of the libertarian hero Ron Paul, which generated excitement. He was endorsed by James Dobson and Senator DeMint and the race was supposed to be competitive. He was lionized on Fox News. So he should have generated a tidal wave in Kentucky, a virtual tsunami of Republican and conservative voters. Yes, he won handily over Grayson but he received less votes than the first two Democrats. This in a state that voted for John McCain and Barack Obama was prevented by the Secret Service from campaigning in because of the severity of the death threats.

The conclusion is that Jack Conway, the Democrat, has a real chance to pick up a Senate seat in Kentucky. Some project his possible margin of victory at 100,000. Rand Paul's victory might be analogous to some of the libertarian gains in New Hampshire during the 1990s. The big loser here was Mitch McConnell, who backed Grayson. So far McConnell is batting zero in his endorsements.

Voter Intensity. One way to project the 2010 mid-terms is the intensity of the voter interest. Every poll and pundit tells us that Republicans have vastly more intensity this time around than Democrats. One way to test this is to compare turnouts in a state where both parties have competitive primaries. Here we had Kentucky. The Democratic turnout for a primary was twice that of the Republicans, whose race drew more national and state attention. Not great news for Republicans.

The Only Race That Mattered. For Republicans, the seat held for 36-years by Jack Murtha was the symbolic equivalent of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. Murtha was intensely hated by Republicans for his gift at securing earmarks, his opposition to the Iraq War, and his corruption. The RNC recruited a strong candidate in Tim Burns and contributed more than $1 million to his campaign. This district had gone for Kerry in 04 and then for McCain in 08. Obama's approval rating is 30% and the majority of the district opposes healthcare. The table was set. Tim Burns led in every poll throughout the camapign. The Republicans were going to announce this seat as a symbol that they were taking back the House.

The end result--Murtha's old chief of staff, Mark Critz beat Burns by over 8 points. This makes Republicans 0 for 4 in special House elections since Obama's election. In House special elections, they have lost ten straight. Pundits believe they will pick up a Hawaii seat because the Democrats are divided.

In Pennsylvania, the victory of Joe Sestak over Arlen Specter increases the chances of Democrats holding that Senate seat. Specter, who once had been a Democrat in 1966, was going to lose his primary to Pat Toomey before he switched parties. To his credit, Specter cast pivotal votes for the stimulus package and healthcare reform and funding for mental illness. He had earned the support of Gov. Rendell, President Obama and the DNC. But he lost because Joe Sestak was obviously more dynamic and people in Pennsylvania concluded Specter had become a Democrat for opportunistic reasons. However, the Democratic Party has already prepared anti-Toomey ads to start airing this week. The victory of Joe Sestak did something else--it energized the progressives for the 2010 elections.

In Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln may outlast Halter but she's forced into a run-off now because of Halter's support from progressives and the unions. In a way, this is a challenge to the DLC, whose candidate she was and is. Again, Democratic voter turnout far exceeded the Republicans, who also had a competitive primary.

Teabaggers Versus Progressives. From this small sample,one can conclude a progressive victory actually strenghens the Democrats electability--even in Arkansas, but the teabagger victory in Kentucky actually weakens the Republican chances. And what fun it will be for Kentucky voters to learn Rand Paul is against the war in Afghanistan and wants to repeal the Patriot Act! In short, he really is a chip off the old block. I also liked how his victory party was at a Golf Club and he refused to take the concession call from Trey Grayson. In Utah, the local papers report that while the teabaggers achieved their goal of dumping Bennett, they failed to nominate their candidate. But who would know since the Utah candidate is beyond right as it is.

Of course,the media is broadcasting that President Obama's endorsement of a candidate isn't useful. Charles Krauthammer is trying to spin the loss of incumbents on voter dissatisfaction with Obama. Good try, Charlie. In the Pennsylvania race, it was illogical to believe that Obama shouldn't support Specter. But, he did not campaign for him, which he could have done since he was in the neighboring state and he didn't cut ads for him. Obama did cut ads for Blanche Lincoln. But at the end of the day, he ends up with two Democrats and even if they push him to the Left this can't be considered a referendum on his Administration or a negative.

Progressive blogs are picking up this theme as well as Republicans. Here they talk about Creigh Deeds failed bid for the governor of Virginia. Here again, Obama even offered to campaign for Deeds in Northern Virginia where Deeds was the weakest but he was turned down. In New Jersey, he did campaign for Corzine (I was there) and cut ads. In the state elections, both states always go in the opposite direction as the President in power. So, Obama was fighting against a traditional voting pattern. Now citizens in Virginia and New Jersey are appalled at what they brought on themselves and are actually motivated for 2010.

So, the Obama effect. The jury is still out. What we are seeing is more a return to Tip O'Neill's maxim that "all politics is local". If that's true, then the Republicans will have a difficult time "nationalizing" the House elections as they did in 1994. What Republicans fear is the Obama surge voters--the young, minorities and women. So far we have had no good examples of whether they will come out in the mid-terms. While Washington pundits speculate everyday on how weak or strong the President is, the bottom-line is he's not running until 2012.

Last night showed that Tan Man Boehner shouldn't measure the drapes just yet. For Democrats the night had to be encouraging. I would be uncomfortable if I were at the RNC.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tarballs in Key West

This has been a rough year for my favorite places. Volcanos in Iceland, earthquake in Haiti, and now tarballs in Key West as the oil spill makes its way into the Gulf Stream. The oil spill is now bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined and is now producing several Valdez' every few days. It will soon rank as the biggest enviromental disaster in American history.

Early reports from the primary in Kentucky have Rand Paul campaign workers being arrested for intimidation and several complaints about vote-buying. It's beginning to sound like Iraq, where the recount showed that Maliki didn't win as he had asserted. So far we don't have a clue what will happen either in Baghdad or Kentucky.

Loved the Republican attempt to block the Obama Administration from helping to bail out the Europeans. The whole point was to ensure that the Eurozone would have sufficient dollars. If it stopped trading in dollars, we would all be back in the soup again with a freeze in the financial markets.

Conservatives are all up in arms again because Donald Trump's Miss America pageant chose Rima Fakih as the new Miss America. Rima is a Muslim. You would think having a Muslim woman act in a liberated Western way might be inspiring. But No. Donald Trump obviously has gone pinko and embraced the politically correct. Especially vindictive have been the women conservative pundits like Michelle Malkin, who complained about any Arab ( actually a Lebanese woman of both Muslim and Christian descent) winning. Daniel Pipes noticed that Muslim women have also won beauty pageants in Europe, indicating a creeping political correctness. I guess Pipes misses Bess Myerson, who actually was a lovely person. The Christian right was upset because Rima Fakih supported health insurance for contraceptives and was against the Arizona immigration law. Egged on by the conservatives, Fox dug out the fact that Ms. Fakih won a Stripper contest in her native Detroit, although she kept her clothes on. This contrasted with born-again darling Carrie Parjean, who made eight sex videos before she won her contest. Another conservative woman columnist complained that Rima Fakih supported Hezbollah and that she had goons that harassed any of her critics--who mysteriously just appeared within a week. since no one knew who she was.

John McCain obviously is up against the wall. He fired his campaign manager and the person who advised him to cut the "Fix the Danged Fence" commercial which led to national ridicule.

Clunk, Clunk, Clunk, the financial reform bill is heading to an end. At this rate, it will be stronger than the bill as originally proposed. Still outstanding is the issue of derivative trading. Senator Dorgan on the Democratic side has threatened to filibuster if it's not to his satisfaction. Dorgan has some street cred on this because he valiantly fought to kill the repeal of the Glass-Stegall bill during the 1990s. As imperfect as it has to be, the bill will be the most dramatic reform of our financial system since the Depression. Senator Kaufman of Delaware still is balking about provisions concerning the size of American banks. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

What will the primaries today indicate about our political life? Who knows? I'm tired of all the do-or-die rhetoric on every election and every bill. Will Obama be crippled if Specter loses? The RNC has already sent out a press release, saying that Obama is already weak because there have been primary challengers against Democratic incumbents. The question will be how many Republican incumbents go down because of the teabaggers.

Contra Charlie Cook, I believe Burr in North Carolina will be vulnerable in November against Elaine Marshall (in all probability). Republicans are still asking what Burr has done in the Senate. I couldn't tell you. I also think that the Democrats have a solid chance against Rand Paul. Remember this is Paul's first race for a political position. Do you want to risk having a novice in the Senate? There are a few more surprises I'll write about as we get closer to November.

The Democrats may have blown a Senate seat in Connecticut. Attorney-General Richard Blumenthal was a lock on the seat against World Wrestling Federation's Linda McMahon. As Attorney-General, he has leading the nearest Republican by 66 to 34. The New York Times reported today at length and on the front-page that Blumenthal lied about his military service and having been in Vietnam. This is so bizarre because no one was voting for him because of his service. Now the question is whether the Democrats have time to find a suitable candidate.

Jonathan Alter's new book on Obama's first year in the Presidency details how Obama was the only one in his Administration who wanted to tackle Health Reform in his first year and how Rahm Emmanuel fought to have Obama embrace a more incremental strategy. Also Alter details how the military establishment "tested" Obama and actually were insubordinate. Alter said the confrontation was perhaps the most heated since Truman fired MacArthur.

Our distinguished Attorney-General "The Cooch" looks like he is under federation investigation because he received about $200,000 from a military non-profit for his campaign funds.

Fast Eddie Rendell was on Rachel Maddow urging Democrats to make Republicans the issue and tagging them with the teabaggers. He said that the positives from the stimulus, healthcare reform and financial reform will only gardually dawn on voters because the conservative fog machine was successful in spinning them--for now. He talked about the stimulus actually having saved or created 50,000 jobs in Pensylvania alone. He also pointed to the fact that Republicans can kiss off the Hispanic vote for the next two elections because of the Arizona fiasco. He said he shut down talk of similar legislation in Pennsylvania by coming out and saying he would veto it.

Montana Governor Schweitzer was also on last week. He had been one of my favorites for Obama's VP choice. He downplayed the teabaggers, who just get up in the morning and e-mail each other, and said that if you just focus of governing--keep bad guys in jail, provide healthcare for the neediest and make sure education is fully funded--you'll be alright. That advice seems to have taken with some of the Democratic incumbents at the state level, who are exhibiting a calm (fatalistic?) about the upcoming elections.

Rand Paul came up with a new innovation in American politics. He wants to outlaw the Disabilities Act and have local government decide whether the disabled should have rights.

Also contra Cook, I believe Chuck Grassley in Iowa is going to have trouble being re-elected. People in Iowa have gotten wise to his bragging about what part of the health reform bill was his creation--he voted against it--and his taking credit for the stimulus projects in the state--he voted against it.

And Today is the re-release of Exiles on Main Street. Which leaves me with this puzzle for you: Who is a better role model--Keith Richards or Bristol Palin?

The American Dream Is A Restless Night

Tip to anonymous blogger for the quote.

News from the alternative universe:

Newt Gingrich tells Politico Barack Obama only has a 20% chance of being re-elected. The House Republicans will pick up 40 seats and perhaps between 65 to 70, enough to take the House and make John Boehner Speaker. If the Republicans beat Barbara Boxer in California they will take the Senate. The former Speaker said that Obama does not understand change and argues that he--the Newt--will run for President if he can present a vision of complete change. He argues that the United States needs a complete wave of change from the school boards, city councils, county government and state legislatures. America needs to elect people who can get things done.

Dr. Glenn Beck will start exposing how Barack Obama is trying to take over "your church" through his faith-based initiatives. Beck will argue that the White House is compelling churches to embrace climate change and to make their physical churches energy efficient in line with progressive socialism.

Charlie Cook is wrong. Cao is not the only vulnerable Republican. Today, Indiana's Mark Souder announced he was resigning because of an affair with his female staffer.

Rolling Stone has an excellent article on Karl Rove's latest scheme of creating a parallel Republican Party of Fatcats because the wealthy donors don't trust Michael Steele but love Karl.

Steve Poizner, the right-winger challenging Meg Whitman, has another great ad attacking Meg. The ad titled "Adults Only" highlights Meg's creation of a separate Ebay for porn, which did become the internet's biggest porn site. Linking it to his previous Goldman Sachs ad, he concludes "Meg Whitman; Bad Judgment. Wrong Values." Dick Cheney came out of his crypt to endorse Meg.

Tom Campbell is cutting back his ad buys in his race against Carly Fiorina, while she's increasing her television spots. Observers can't figure out whether Campbell is overconfident or simply broke or both.

Rick "Secessionist" Perry in Texas is mired in a scandal of his own. Apparently, with his state budget with a huge whole in it, he's renting out a temporary governor mansion at over $300K a year and hosting political parties for his re-election using campiagn donations. With the Texas economic mess--remember he doesn't accept stimulus funds--this is getting traction.

The Arizona Governor continues her quest for excellence, firing teachers with pronounced accents. A little background, Arizona recruited teachers from South America for bilingual education in public schools. Now that the governor banned bilingual education, these teachers became vulnerable and now are expendable.

The Texas textbook scandal continues. The Guardian (U.K.) interviewed schoolboard member Cynthia Dunbar, an evangelical Christian lawyer, who is a major force behind the push to re-write history. Dunbar is a proponent of home and Christian private schooling and likens sending children to public schools like "throwing them in to the enemy's flames". Because of the sheer numbers of Texas textbook purchases, the changes will eventually reach most of the states in the union.

In her interview, she said, " In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote partiotism and to promote the free enterprise system. There seems to have been a move away from a patriotic ideology. There seems to be a denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and make some corrections."

On "In God We Trust", Lincoln's Secretary of Treasury inserted it as a sop to clergymen during the Civil War. "One Nation Under God" was inserted in the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s to show we were different from godless Communism. The Pledge of Allegiance came about originally as an instrument to assimilate immigrants and lack any reference to God. The National Prayer day was begrudgingly accepted by Eisenhower as a way to buy off the evangelicals in the 1950s.

So what are some of the changes Ms. Dunbar suggests:
The slave trade wasn't " some evil buying and selling of human beings, it was simply Atlantic triangular trade".
The Civil Rights Movement created "unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes" for minorities in America. And Martin Luther King, Jr. Pretty much a Black Panther.
Thomas Jefferson? Who has been eliminated from the American history book. "He was an insignificant ,God-hating heathen who made sure that the church and state remained separate."
The right to bear arms is essential to democracy and kids really need to learn this in school.
Joe McCarthy was right to go after Godless commies in Hollywood and Washington. He will be vindicated.
We have military technology to thank for America's successes in science.
Moses was a greater influence on the US Constitution than Thomas Jefferson.
America can only flourish economically through 'minimal government intrusion and taxation."

Advising Dunbar is Glenn Beck's and Newt Gingrich's friend David Barton, the founder of the revisionist group WallBuilders, whose stated goal is "to exert a direct and positive influence in government, education, and the family by (1) educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; (2) providing information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies which reflect Biblical values; and (3) encouraging Christians to be involved in the civic arena."

Paul Krugman in a May 16 op-ed in the New York Times commented on how the defeat of Bob Bennett in Utah and the news of the Maine Republican Party underscored the extremism in the Republican party and that the media is finally paying attention. Krugman cited a paper by economists Markus Bruckner and Hans Peter Gruner on how economic crisis brings out right-wing extremism and nationalist political parties in both Europe and America. Krugman warns that we should not expect the Republican Party to escape the clutches of extremism anytime soon.

I have neglected returning to Mark Lilla's excellent piece in the New York Review of Books on the tea party phenomenon. Michael Kinsley has another one in this week's Atlantic. Just like Al Pacino in Godfather III, he just keeps getting pulled back--Bob Altemeyer has returned to his favorite subject,The Authoritarians, with very detailed analysis of both the history and psychology of the Tea Party Movement. Google it. It is well-worth reading.

I was wrong. I wanted to refrain talking about the Baked Alaskan because she is basically harmful to my mental health. When I saw she was negotiating a deal for a Reality show of her family, I thought this was a sign she was not going to run in 2012. Many moons ago I posted why I believe she is the incarnation of where the Republican Party is now. I also have written how while theocratic politics is in direct intellectual contradiction to libertarianism, it is being fused today in the tea party movement. Just look at James Dobson's embrace of Rand Paul in Kentucky. And then I have taken note of Sister Sarah's nomadic moves across our national landscape. Her recent appearance in Illinois, invoking Ronald Reagan,her fervent embrace of Jan Brewer in Arizona and her ditzy presentation to the NRA tell me she really is running in 2012.

The website Mudflats, my favorite Alaska news site, has been paying microscopic attention to the half-governor's every move. Yesterday they interviewed the author of the upcoming book The Lies of Sarah Palin, who reports that the internal memos he has shows she is preparing a race against Mitt Romney and is totally obsessed with Barack Obama and the loss of the 2008 election. And, of course, she feels that if she were allowed to continue to attack Obama as a terrorist-loving socialist McCain would have won. Her incessant twittering comments on everything the Obama Administration does or does not do (more often the case) indicates a compulsive nature, which will inform us that God told her to run.

The announcement of her second book is simply to say she like Obama has written two books. I thought it was the conservative syndrome of churning out books so that one can boost of the title "New York Times Best Seller"--a weird validation for people who hate liberals. But it's simply to show President Smarty-Pants that 'real Americans" can write books too.

To take a reasoned approach to this does not capture the fundamentally non-rational worldview of Sister Palin and her fundamentalist followers. All the usual political mechanics of campaign organization, staff, polling and fund-raising are tertiary to people who are divinely inspired. Right now she is the leader of the Tea Party Movement and she has the support of the Washington neocons, who advise her. Having a chief aide who is a scientologist and a minister who calls her Queen Esther are not encouragements to retire to a life making money. By the time she announces, she will have earned at least $25 million.

As I wrote before, the Republican primary schedule favors her over any other candidate. She would begin in evangelical country in Iowa and follow with a triumph in neo-confederate South Carolina. Romney might hold on to New Hampshire, but he will be behind until the middle of the race. I believe she really can win the nomination.

And I also believe she would choose a vice-president who would share her obsession with Barack Obama and restoring America's place as God's chosen country. Here Mike Huckabee is too weak because he likes Michelle Obama. Others are lackluster like Pawlenty, who has embraced creationism and just submitted a budget that would destroy Minnesota's rather progressive policies. She needs a Southerner since this is the regional heart of the Republican Party.

Enter the man whose next book is how to stop Obama's "secular-socialist machine"--Newt Gingrich. Newt can not raise the money to be a plausible presidential candidate and he is deeply disliked by older conservatives for everything from his treatment of women to his chaotic leadership style in the House. But he shares Palin's ambition, her cunning and her capacity of deceipt. Gingrich is presently touring the country with our Christian revisionist Dave Barton so he and Sister Sarah are perfect together. Newt would privately think he could be Palin's ideological svengali and his ambitions have never ebbed. I also believe that the choice of vice-presidential nominee would have nothing to do with reality-based politics, but totally on theological and ideological values.

I agree with Paul Krugman, there is no reason to believe that the Republican Party can escape the clutches of extremism-- certainly not by 2011 when people have to declare this candidacies for the presidential nomination.

Be forewarned, I predicted on radio the Palin choice by John McCain before little Billy Kristol or anyone in D.C. knew about her. So, defying all rational calculation, real-world politics and sense of commonsense, I predict it will be a Sarah Palin-Newt Gingrich ticket in 2012.

I am also absolutely certain that if, God forbid, she won that America would instantly cease to be a major power or force in the world. It would simply be folly for any other country to relate their policies to ours, especially in economic affairs.

And if I'm wrong, do I get to be an op-ed columnist at the Washington Post like torture man Marc Thiessen?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Common Good and the Clueless

The Quote of the Day:
"The great crisis among us is the crisis of "the common good," the sense of community solidarity that binds all in a common destiny--haves and have-nots, the rich and the poor. We face a crisis about the common good because there are powerful forces at work among us to resist the common good, to violate community solidarity, and to deny a common destiny. Mature people, at their best, are people who are committed to the common good that reaches beyond private interest, transcends sectarian commitments, and offers human solidarity."

Walter Brueggeman, Journey to the Common Good ( Westminster/John Knox Press, 2010). Dr.Brueggeman is a theologian of the United Church of Christ and was a distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary. His book is a detailed examination of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament on the subject of the common good and is heavy going if you are not into biblical exegesis. The book was started at the end of the Bush Administration and has an afterword of hope for the Obama years. Brueggeman believes that our economic collapse, more than the 9/11 attacks, has eroded our social cohesion more than anything in recent memory.

For the secular-minded, I have been reading Amitai Etzioni's The Common Good, (Polity, 2004), which reminds me of the dry, arid prose of ethical humanists. If communitarianism interests anyone, I highly recommend Robert Bellah , who has an insightful and riveting prose style. I have been reading Robert Bellah since college and Habits of the Heart is his examination of American traditions of seeking the common good.

Has anyone noticed how our major economic units deliberately ignore the law. Health Secretary Katheleen Sibelius has been fighting the major insurance companies since health care passed for them to adhere to the new requirements and to stop jacking up premiums before the fianl phase of health care reform kicks in. The major American banks were bailed out and are now churning profits again but they have systematically ignored President Obama's entreaties to loan to small businesses and to modify home mortgages for those in desparate need. And now the oil companies virtually stone-walled on the major environmental disaster of my lifetime, yet are pushing for more rights to offshore drilling. And now we are being treated to Pete Peterson's road trip through America to dramatize the situation of our debt, which, in his opinion, demands eliminating all entitlement programs.

This week James Galbraith, author of The Predator State, tells us our deficit has "zero" importance. Galbraith, joining Paul Krugman, in fighting off the"We are Greece now"mantra from the right, points out that the projections of our debt level imply that virtually nothing will be done in the next few years to lower health care costs, the biggest culprit beside the military/ terrorist complex, and that can be done to shore up social security. He also points out that there are very few times in the history of our country where we didn't have a deficit and he argues that to maintain any economic progress the government must continue to have one. But this is Keynesian economics, not supply-side orthodoxy.

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times wrote this week that if our little job engine that could keeps producing jobs at the current rate, our economy in 2010 will have created more jobs this year than the entire Bush-Cheney years together. Brownstein goes further to analyze the fallacy that tax cuts to the rich and the corporations create jobs--in fact the largest periods of jobs growth in the last two decades came when these policy items were jettisoned. For the rest of America, USA Today reports that Americans are paying the lowest rate of taxes since 1950, a fact that runs counter to the tea party crowd's boisterous assertions.

In keeping with their anti-science, anti-job philosophy, the Republicans proudly defeated the House bill to provide additional funding for math and science research and job creation by adding an amendment that would require federal employees to watch porn. Democratic congressmen fled the bill. I guess Republicans were thinking about the recent discovery that the SEC employees under movement conservative Chris Cox were all watching porn on the internet instead of investigating Bernie Madoff and other criminals.

The "Quitter from Wasilla" said "We are all Arizonans now." I guess we didn't sign up for her war in Georgia. Arizona is getting slaughtered by the national boycotts so much so that Governor Jan Brewer urged citizens of the state to vacation at home this year. If there were any doubts about the racist intent of the immigration law, they were erased this week as the state prohibited any ethnic studies in public school and ended the legal requirement that certain businesses had to have interpreters for Spanish-speakers.

John McCain cut an ad about controlling illegal immigration with a very white sheriff from the central part of the state. The "Build the Danged Fence" ad drew ridicule and a great parody using Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. The actual sheriff from Nogales where the ad was filmed--a very Mexican-American looking figure--came out and blasted both the ad and the whole law. Still South Carolina's Jim DeMint tried to scuttle the financial reform bill in the Senate this week by submitting an amendment calling for the building of the border fence. All this forced Michael Gerson, former Bush speechwriter and Washington Post columnist, to admit that the Republican party is clearly now anti-immigrant and will be perceived as such.

That's apparently not all they're against. Pat Buchanan wondered why the Supreme Court had to have so many Jews in his criticism of the nomination of Elena Kagan. There is considerable irony here in that Pat Buchanan is responsible for the Republican strategy of selecting Catholic conservative judges. Now we have six Catholics on the Court. This not-so-veiled anti-semiticism was picked up in a more polite way by a conservative legal activist ironically named Miranda, who claimed Elena Kagan came from the New York Jewish socialist culture. He commended this culture for its vibrant contribution to American society but reminded his readers "but it's still socialist."

After Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal printed a picture of Elena Kagan playing softball, the New York Post dutifully followed with two articles about whether softball was a lesbian sport. Pat Buchanan chimed in on the Morning Joe show that everyone knows that lesbians are associated with softball. Rush Limbaugh reinforced the homophobic theme by calling Kagan " a Chaz Bono look-alike." So, Jewish, Socialist, Lesbian. For the record, I always felt that woman's professional basketball was the lesbian magnet and I noticed that Condi Rice made a big pitch for women's basketball this week without comment from detractors.

Elena Kagan as a lesbian Emma Goldman without experience and a thin-paper trail has Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions all a twitter. He claims that her objection to Don't Ask, Don't Tell showed what her real priorities are. Of course, this is all aimed at prolonging the process as long as possible so nothing can get done in the Senate. Newt Gingrich is demanding that Obama withdraw her nomination.

In my view, Elena Kagan is not really meant to replace John Paul Stevens, but is an early replacement of Ruth Bader Ginzburg, freeing up Obama for a different type of choice at that time.

But not all Republicans are going down this path. The band of legal brothers seem to be embarrassed by all this. None other than Ken Starr strongly came out in favor of her and Miguel Estrada wrote movingly about why she should be confirmed, stated that obviously his view might hurt her chances. Michael McConnell, the former federal appeals court judge nominated by W, stated, "She has had a remarkable and truly unusual record of reaching out across ideological divides." The two knew each other as law professors at the University of Chicago. I worried when even Johnny Yoo has endorsed her. Laura Bush, who seems off her meds this week after endorsing same sex marriage and pro-choice positions, also supported Kagan's nomination.

Dana Millbank, writing in the Washington Post, brought to the nation's attention the lunacy in the Republican Party of Maine and wondered whether they were expecting "a Viking invasion." The Portland newspapers reported that the Knox County caucus, which wrote the teabagger platform for the party, had trashed the schoolroom where they met, went through the teacher's desk and destroyed the copies of the Constitution he had, which were printed by the ACLU. One of the vandals was quoted as saying the caucus was disturbed that the teacher seemed to be a "Communist".

The NRA, which is always for the common good, again endorsed allowing people on the terrorist "don't fly" list to be able to purchase guns. Their position was affirmed by Sarah Palin. Sister Sarah also told the NRA that if Obama could, he would take away their guns. This despite Obama allowing guns into the national parks, which I think is wrong. And if Sarah could she would ban books. Oh, she did in Wasilla.

Here in Virginia , Governor Big Bob "Jobs" McDonnell passed his measure that allows citizens to openly carry guns into a bar but they are not allowed to drink. The NRA is insisting that gun carriers must be allowed to drink, while openly carrying. This is the new big debate in Virginia, which made the Daily Beast's number 2 corrupt state in the nation.

A "birther " group by the shadowy name of The New Legion for Christ based in Downer's Grove, Illinois, has funneled $1 million to the Republican primary for Governor in Alabama, home testing grounds for Karl Rove. Did the funds go to Judge Moore of Ten Commandments Fame or the candidate who was for teaching evolution before he was against it?

Haley Barbour wants y'all to come down and swim on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The oil spill is just like a "gasoline sheen around ski boats."

Glenn Beck received an honorary doctorate from Liberty University, home of the Falwells. He sensitively acknowledged that his Mormon faith presented problems for his fundamentalist audience and he did cry almost a dozen times during his speech. The first time I think was authentic when he acknowledged that he stopped going to college after the first semester because he didn't have enough money. He had many inspiring words of wisdom for the students. "Taxis smell the worst in summer." "Life is tough and only gets tougher and then you die." "Date someone who loves you as much as I do." "Shoot to kill". I'm convinced he's in some type of "scream therapy".

Democratic congressman Oberstar asked why Republicans have over 120 personal earmarks in the upcoming appropriations bill when they took a public pledge to suspend earmarks for a year.

America's oldest bloggers are back and in great form. For snarky, uninhibited commentary on our political scene from people who have lived a long life, check out . They succinctly put into perspective the problems Obama faces and have some snide comments of their own about the past inhabitants of the White House.

A raft of polls have come out this week which conclude that Americans are truly confused. For the first time in a while, Americans favor Democrats retaining control of Congress. But only 33% of Americans want to re-elect their own congressperson. In four polls I examined, Democratic approval ratings are far above Republicans in Congress. In terms of defending the average America versuis corporate interests, Obama is in the mid-55%, congressional Democrats only in the mid-30s, and Republicans at 20%. In a Roper poll, a teabagger complained that Republicans have gone too far Left! On the key right track-wrong track question, right track moved up two clicks to 42%, the third consecutive week of positive movement.

A Gallup Poll put concerns about the economy over the unemployment issue of the first time. This is disturbing because the U6 unemployment rate is till over 17%, an alarming high figure. A Washington Post/ABC poll show that Americans trust Obama overwhelmingly over Republicans to handle the economy, regulate the financial industry, the deficit and healthcare. In the Pew poll, Republicans still have a slight edge on national security. But the Pew poll does indicate that 60% like Obama personally ( a measure separate from approve, which I always take as important) and that 60% blame Bush for both the economy and the deficits. This latter number should strengthen the Democrats hand in resisting the conservative demands for gutting Social Security and Medicare under the pretense of deficit reduction.

Charles Cook is remaining tough. He still believes the Republicans will win the House. he also says that only Representative Cao from Louisiana will be the sole Republican defeated this fall. Cao took over from disgraced Democrat Jefferson, the representative found by the FBI with bribe money in his refrigerator. Cao had wanted to vote for healthcare refom but Tan Man Boehner placed two GOP handlers at each side of Cao during the vote.

Fast Eddie Rendell, the term-limited Governor of Pennsylvania, advises Democrats to go down firing. If you're going to lose, then lose for what you believe in. Rendell wisely advises Democrats to tie their Republican competitors as close to the teabaggers as possible. This seems to have been picked up in local races in the Midwest where Republicans are trying hard to avoid proclaiming their positions on the teabaggers call for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, the one that allows for the direct election of Senators. In several races Democrats are exploiting this in ads.

A strange ad by Texas secessionist Governor Rick Perry against Democrat Bill White claims White got stimulus money for the Houston metro by "cooking the books". It's unclear whether the crime is getting a $1 billion for the Houston Metro or cooking the books.

Carly Fiorina is pumping more of her cash into the Republican primary in California to try and salvage her sinking ship.

Tuesday's primaries will get alot of hype in the press but it's unclear whether they will mean anything other than local politics was the dominant factor. Progressives are cheering on Sestak in Pennsylvania and Halter in Arkansas, while Obama is for Specter and Blanche Lincoln. In Kentucky, expect Rand Paul to top Trey Grayson, Mitch McConnell's choice. Rand Paul is backed by the teabaggers, libertarians, fundamentalists, Jim deMint and Sarah Palin. Grayson was backed by the Republican establishment.