Friday, July 30, 2010

Does The Arc of History Really Bend Toward Justice?

President Obama is fond of quoting this remark of Martin Luther King, Jr., which originally comes from an abolitionist preacher. Every time he says this, I hope that it is true.Perhaps, these bends come in acts that go little noticed.

This week I celebrated with the Iranian community the July 16th Court Decision by the Appeals Court here in D.C. that recommended the Iranian opposition group, the PMOI, be taken off the terrorist list. The three-judge panel slammed the State Department in what I counted were 9 consecutive pages of criticizing their criteria, the dubious sources of their intelligence, their suppression of exculpatory evidence, the lack of due process accorded the Iranians, and even their sneaky behavior in the court proceeding itself. While foreign policy is the domain of the executive this decision was the toughest I've read that State has to clean up its act. The court decision is also complimented by a House bill that calls for the release of all political prisoners in Iran.

Yesterday, President Obama signed into law the Tribal Law and Order Act, which the First Nations have demanded since the 1990s. Candidate Obama had promised to sign this act as well as take a number of steps to rectify past wrongs against our native American community. Buried in the Healthcare bill are provisions to improve medical services for the reservations, in the sitmulus bill provisions for development in the native American community and after decades his administration settled the Cobell case, which had called for an accounting by the U.S. Government of what is owed the native American community. The payment is now hung up in the U.S. Senate. With his plans for rural internet development,this would be an added bonus to the native American communuity. President Obama also said the United States was currently reviewing the Covenant on Peoples' Rights at the United Nations, which had been rejected by the Bush Administration.

Judge Susan Bolton finally struck down major provisions of Arizona's Immigration Bill, sparking off protests from the Republican Governors' Association. Judge Bolton was recommended for her present position by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, who said she was "fair and balanced".

Kudos to the AFL-CIO, who is now organizing the unemployed, particularly the 99ers, almost 5 million Americans whose benefits have run out. Could these really be the surge voters of the mid-terms? Called lazy, hobos and drug purchasers by Republican congresspeople, could these people really favor the GOP?

Champions of small business, the GOP has blocked again the loan programs for small businesses--a program that would have created millions of jobs and provided tax cuts for small businesses. Somehow, Republicans are campaigning on the notion that Democrats will be raising taxes on small businesses, when they want to repeal the small business tax breaks in the stimlus package and have blocked small business loans. Will voters fall for this nonsense?

Charles Cook has a piece out tomorrow "A Turning Point for Democrats?", where he argues that the last two Gallup polls indicate that the Democrats may be getting their mojo back. He says these two positive generic polls where Democrats are ahead by 6 and then 4 points indicate it will be a very-very close contest for control of the House. This is a sharp change from his earlier calls that there was a Republican Tsunami coming. Zogby, writing in Forbes this week, warns Republicans they may have peaked too soon. Steny Hoyer told the press yesterday that he doesn't expect Democratic losses to surpass 28 seats and thinks they will do better than that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This and That and Beyond

It seems that the Defense Department can't account for $8.7 billion in Iraq for the years 2004-2007. This is more than the entire national secruity budget of Iran--or, maybe then, it actually pays for the Iran defense budget. It is also close to all the funds for pro-democracy programs around the globe by the United States.

Wikileaks has 19,000 more files to unload on the Afghanistan War and have over 150,000 on the Iraq War. My take on the document dump is that it is an accurate portrayal of war, war being waged in our names. There is no sense to sanitize the documents. It's all there--friendly fire,civilian casualties, black ops, a Delta Force assassination team, an ally Pakistan funding the Taliban. The lack of interest in all this here in Washington is amazing. Nothing really new. Ho Hum, this doesn't affect policy or any considerations about the worthiness of the war. Al Jezeera released yesterday footage of our Special Forces trying to go on patrol while their Afghan counter-parts were hitting the bong. Our Special Forces complained that these guys couldn't keep silent but kept giggling when out on patrol. The good news is that we have one more year and it's time to wrap it up. With these leaks and others, it's hard to imagine that the Pentagon can blackmail President Obama in extending the exit dates.

On another sorry note, Mike Love of the Beach Boys announced that there will be no reunion concert for their 50th Anniversary in 2011.

On an even sorrier note, Joni Mitchell suffers from Morgellon disease, which has forced her into seclusion and made her abandon her projects. This is what she said about her condition:"Fibres in a variety of colours protrude out of my skin like mushrooms after a rainstorm: they cannot be forensically identified as animal,vegetable or mineral. Morgellons is a slow, unpredictable killer, a terrorist disease: it will blow up one of your organs, leaving you in bed for a year."


The most covered candidate for the 2010 mid-terms is American hero Alvin Greene, the Democratic candidate for Senate in South Carolina. The unemployed vet inspired a bobble-head at a minor league team and a campaign song "Alvin Greene-He's On The Scene."

John McCain has already spent $16 million in his primary fight with J.D. Hayworth--about 5% of what he spent in the whole presidential election.

Tom Tancredo is running for the Governor of Colorado on the American Constitution Party.

Normally, a mid-year election would provide the opposition party with the ammunition. But this year, Democrats have a target-rich environment and the hits keep coming. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is having a field day going after Rand Paul, Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Roy Blunt in Missouri and Linda McMahon in Connecticut. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. The campaign basically says that Republicans will do anything to make President Obama fail but American will pay the price. On the issue side, the DSCC is going after Republicans for opposing: the Jobs Bill, Stopping Corporate Money in Election, Wall Street Reform, Health Care Reform, and the Stimulus Package. The DNC has launched ads on the Republican Tea Party, linking the extreme positions of the teabaggers with the Republicans. And wait until you see it when Republicans try to block the middle class tax break.

For all the theater of people running around with teabags on their head and screaming about Obama as Hitler, it's actually good to see Democrats not fall into their old pacifism when the dirty tricks come. I've worried and still do that in this economic climate the brownshirts might pull out some victories. But with only 99 days to the election, it seems the voters may not be responding to ugly this year as much as the media would like you to believe.

Jack Conway has taken a lead over Rand Paul in the latest poll in Kentucky.
Barbara Boxer has a 49-40 lead over Carly Fiorina and voters prefer her hair to Fiorina. But the key here is that Boxer has a 57-30 lead among moderates.
Governor Moonbeam, who seems to be comatose in his campaign, has a 46-40 lead over Meg Whitman. Here again moderates favor Brown 47-31. California voters are repulsed by Whitman's self-financed campaign and her approval rating is at 30 and her disapproval is at 50, which nowadays is fatal.
Kelly Ayotte,a Republican running for Senate in New hampshire for Judd Gregg's seat, had a large lead over Democrat David Hodes for months. With Sarah Palin's endorsement, she now leads by only 45 to 42. 51% of New Hampshire voters said they are less likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Palin.

This year has had it's share of outrages but the Republican race in Delaware takes the cake for me. This was an automatic Republican pick-up. Mike Castle, former governor and current representative, had a large lead over Chris Coons, the Democrat. Mike is a moderate conservative, who is a responsible Republican. But that's the problem. Teabagger Christine O'Donnell is challenging Castle because Castle is "a liberal establishment Republican". The Concerned Women of America have now endorsed O'Donnell because Castle is pro-choice, voted in favor of hate crime legislation, and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. They call Castle "the second coming of Dede Scozzafona", who was forced to withdrew from the race in upstate New York, thereby letting the Democrats win. The National Right to Work group is scheduled to endorse O'Donnell this week. A reminder--Barack Obama's approval rating in Delaware is in the high 60s and the Democrats now represent the largest voting bloc. This is not the Delaware of Pierre DuPont. So move this seat from Automatic Republican to Toss-up.

Pew and the National Journal conducted a poll on the economy and the tax issue. 46% of Americans want to stay with Obama's plans and only 29% support George W's policies, which are now embraced by the Republican leadership. 30% want to keep all the tax cuts in place; 27% want the tax cuts for the wealthy repealed; and 31% want them all repealed. The key here are the demographics for the 65+ and the 55+, which would tend to favor Republicans. More in these two groups want to keep the tax cuts for the wealthy, but still this is a minority position. If the Democrats can move the tax issue, they will have boxed the Republicans in.

State and Local Government

The Republican obstruction of the jobs bill, which was to bail out state and local government, will produce a catastrophe. Cities and States have already cut 200,000 jobs and now they are scheduled to cut 500,000 more jobs this year because relief is not forthcoming. Put it in perspective, muncipal government represents 13% of our GDP. This is sort of like the GOP resistance to the bailout of the auto industry, which put 17% of our economy at risk. 25 states have already requested more Federal assistance on Medicaid, which faces a $84 billion shortfall. This too was stopped by the GOP.

Apropos yesterday's post on the middle class, Michael Lind yesterday on Salon had a piece about whether the American people are obsolete. From today's Republican platform, you would have to think the answer is in the affirmative.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Vanishing Middle Class

The success of President Obama's presidential campaign turned on his focus on how the middle class had lost ground over the past decade. Unlike his competitors--both Hillary Clinton and John McCain--he hammered on this theme until even Bill Clinton complained on the campaign trail about Obama's criticism of his Administration's failure to bolster the middle class. Since taking office, he created the Middle Class Task Force led by Joe Biden and has repeatedly stressed the benefits of his policy initiatives for the dwindling middle class. Linked to this sitaution is the entropy of the union movement, which only represents 6% of private sector employees. As President Obama said," without a strong union movement, we can not have a vigorous middle class." And I might add--a strong democracy.

In the current economic climate, the middle class is actually vanishing and unless drastic steps are taken to reverse the trend, it may die all together. Bernie Sanders in speaking out against extending the moratorium on the estate tax or "death tax" if you are a Republican, charged that supporters of the idea wanted to 'kill the middle class and create an oligarchy." Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth to this as the American workers are now being melded into the global labor pool, which will require them to accept lower wages and only sporadic employment.

Michael Snyder at Business Insider lists 22 facts about how the middle class is dying in America and there are pretty ugly. Since these have been posted on the internet the last week, it's worth repeating them before the posts vanish in the blogosphere.

83% of all stocks are held by the top richest 1% of Americans.

61% of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck. This is up from 49% in 2008 and up from 43% from 2006.

66% of all income growth went to the top 1%.

36% of Americans do not contribute anything to retirement savings plans.

43% of Americans have less than 10K saved for retirement.

24% of Americans have postponed retirement in the last year.

1.4 million Americans have filed for bankruptcy in 2009; 32% above filings in 2008.

Only the top 5% of households since 1975 have earned enough to match the rise in housing costs.

This is the first time in American history that banks owned a greater share of residential housing's net worth than all Americans put together.

In 1950, the ratio of executives' pay to workers was 30-1. Since 2000 alone, the ratio has exploded to 300-500 to 1.

The bottom 50% of all income earners collectively own less than 1% of the country's wealth.

In 2007, the bottom 80% of all households held about 7% of all financial liquid assets.

Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17% compared to 2008.

The average Federal worker now earns 60% more than the average worker in the private sector.

The top 1% own nearly 2 times as much of America's corporate wealth as they did 15 years ago.

The top 10% earn about 50% of our nation's income.

Between 2000 and 2007, productivity rose 20%, yet the average workers' income fell by $2,000.

40% of Americans now work in low-paying service jobs.

40 million Americans are now on food stamps and that is estimated to rise to 43 million in 2011.

The number of millionaires rose 16% to 7.8 million in 2009.

21% of all children are now living below the poverty line in 2010, the highest in 20 years.

The average time now that it takes to find a job has risen to 35.2 weeks.

If you are over 45, your best bet is to be self-employed since employers now seek younger employees.

Basically, no one has been minding the store and all the stock disappeared and all the customers vanished. To begin to reverse this death spiral, the basic fundamentals of the economy must change and given the current obstructionism on the Hill it's hard to see any major initiatives coming forth in the next two years. What Obama is achieving now is through stealth measures sprinkled throughout legislation, which will sow the seeds of future growth but are not apparent to the public.

Maybe this is the Vanishing America John Boehner is speaking about. I don't think he's connected the dots.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Arizona Rising

Arizona's ethnic cleansing continues apace. The Los Angeles Times reports that Latino merchants are fleeing the state in droves for fear of the new immigration law. See undocumented aliens tend to buy things from Latino merchants and the shop-owners don't want the police snooping around. Rage Against the Machine is holding an LA-based concert to encourage the boycott of Arizona. Local rock bands in Pheonix think that it might be better for bands to come to the state and openly protest the law. All in all, the tourist business is evaporating much like it did during the boycott over Arizona's refusal during the 1990s not to honor Martin Luther King Day. That boycott cost the state hundreds of millions in revenue. It's likely this one will be even more costly.

Local Arizona television stations are beginning to investigate the assertions of Gov. Jan Brewer about the problem itself and have found almost everything she has said is flat out wrong. She refuses to comment on camera about these little discrepancies. One fine piece of reporting discovered that one group will profit handsomely by the law--the Corrections Corporation, which runs private prisons and detention centers for illegals. They apparently are paid over a $140 million a year for their services in Arizona alone.And the catchy thing about the new law--which its proponents will not tell you is that it ensures undocumented workers will stay longer in the States, even if detained. So who benefits--the chief of staff of the Governor,who was an employee of Corrections Corporation, and his wife, who is a lobbyist for the company, as well as a senior policy aide, who also was an employee of the company. We don't know whether Gov. Brewer herself is on the take for this deal. So rather than run a nice tourist resort or hotel, it's more profitable for you to run a prison for undocumented illegals--a new boom business in the state.

It seems John McCain keeps tripping over himself with his embrace of the Arizona state law. It seems his sheriff for that "Danged Fence" not only appeared willingly on a white power radio station. But he even said that the only politician who really interested him was David Duke. You'll recall I wrote that the real sheriff from the area of the fence was an Hispanic-American who thought the whole thing was ridiculous. The A3P, the new white power group based in California, has donated to the Arizona state legal defense fund to pay to defense the state against all the lawsuits.

So how does one of the chief inspirations for the teabaggers, George Washington, feel about immigration? After all if you are a conservative constitutionalist, you must obey the Founding Fathers. This Founding Fathers thing is not turning out very well for the teabaggers. Washington said," The bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respectable stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges..."

Having come from undocumented aliens, it seems to me that white Americans need to be a little humble about this subject. Even the native Americans came from across the Bering Straits so none of us are "from here". Do undocumented immigrants create more crime? Actually, the statistics show they create less for the obvious reason they fear deportation. Do the undocumented take more of our medical services as was argued by the Right during the healthcare debate? A Kaiser Permanente study actually showed that white Americans go to the Emergency Room 20%, while undocumented immigrants represent 13%. Do undocumented immigrants take away from American jobs? Actually the CATO Institute did two studies that show just the opposite--undocumented immigrants add to the economy and their presence in the United States creates jobs. The last Administration had the US Government conduct similar studies, which showed the undocumented immigrants are overall an economic boon to the country. Will the fence stop the traffic of undoumented workers? Apparently, there are studies that show it won't and that politicians even argue it's merely symbolic.

For a very nice essay on all this, read Jorge Ramos' A Country for All:An Immigrant Manifesto (Vintage, May 2010,153 pages). Mr. Ramos, a journalist for Univision, makes the above points but with much more detailed data. After you read Mr. Ramos' essay, you realize that the great immigration problem is totally manufactured--then and now. While he won't say it, it's all about race and ethnicity and has been since the 1920s, when we really started controlling immigration.

America first tried to restrict immigration with the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which was meant to curtail the Chinese population in California and the Western states. It coincided with the Gold Rush and the flood of Easterners trying to settle in California. And then America didn't return to the issue until 1921 with the Quota Law,which placed numeric limits on immigrants from certain countries and was heavily influenced by the racial studies being done by American groups, who advocated the intellectual superiority of certain groups over others. Then, inspired by JFK, there was the Immigration Act of 1965, which opened the door to immigrants from all over the world. For the last three decades, various groups such as the National Academy of Sciences and the Rand Corporation have done countless studies, which show the immigrant--legal or undocumented--contribute more to our society than they take away. In fact, one study showed that when the Immigration Act of 1986 was passed, that it was the tax revenues from immigrants that stabilized the economy during that time of deep recession.

If you were a member of my political party, The Pragmatist Party, you would legalize the undocumented and call it a day. Instead, we have proposals for immigration reform ,which will be a nightmare for undocumented immigrants already here. They will have to wait 13 years before they can become citizens. And the fence will be created to the tune of about $15 billion and will only interrupt the migration of animals and probably bring a few to the brink of extinction. And all this is if immigration reform passes. If it doesn't, we will see more nativism and racism against Latinos and the deportations will accelerate as they have been durng the Obama Administration.

Of course, you could adopt the Rush Limbaugh solution of shipping all undocumented back to their countries. The Pew Foundation estimates there are 12 million undocumented here. Homeland Security says 10.5 million. These could all be rounded up in the public view of the world and interned in the Glenn Beck FEMA camps and then flown back to their countries. While our own self-image as a nation of immigrants would be destroyed forever and we would have put the final kinife into out world image, at least this program would serve as an economic stimulus for our airlines and as a side benefit then the rest of us could get meals and free baggage again.

So let's check off the Immigration issue as another thng that doesn't concern me. Next issue is Social Security, which is under attack again with the Republicans threatening to raise the retirement age and cut benefits in the holy name of the national debt. The Social Security has literally nothing to do with the national debt. Harry Reid talked at the Netroots Nation conference that he had just received two reports on the state of social security. Both concluded Social Security will pay full benefits until I am 100--not 86 as I wrote before--and then would pay off about 80% benefits after that for about a period of 10-15 years and then to 60%--all this if we do nothing. There is virtually no compelling reason to raise the retirement age to 70, especially if you have any consideration of blue collar workers, which apparently we do not. So anyone telling you Social Security is in trouble, they are simply lying to you. Even my ideas of raising the FICA limit, which I think would be a good idea, was based on me being deluded into actually thinking there was a problem and I am marinated in politics. What is happening to the rest of Americans.

My last note for today concerns the troubling appearance in the teabagger movement of anti-semiticism. We already know about the racism and nativism but I hadn't seen any overt signs of anti-semiticism, although that is part and parcel of the white supremacist groups who have infiltrated the movement. Throughout the Midwest teabaggers are circulated a DVD, which purports to demonstrate that President Obama is in league with the Rothschilds to control the United States and turn it into a socialist country. My gut instinct is that this is the work of the LaRochites who have been trying to play the teabaggers. The motif is as old as the Third Reich. The Rothschilds were said by Hitler to be the ringleaders of the Jewish conspiracy to control the world's economy. Now the threat to the United States is President Obama and Jewish bankers. Sort of like Jewsvelt or Ike the Kike--highlights from our own sordid history of anti-semiticism. Why I flag this is that Countdown ran the results of a survey given GI's in World War II, which revealed an immense amount of anti-semiticism in our armed forces at that time. Then I discovered the appearance of this DVD, which shows the disease is never dead. As one survivor of the Holocaust commented about the teabaggers "the monster never stays in its grave."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stand By Me*

*Rock classic co-written by --surprise--Carole King.

Just few brief notes on a 100degree Saturday. This is Jim Inhofe's idea of a cold spell.

Yesterday President Obama looked almost bedraggled as he called an impomptu news conference to recite the accomplishments of the last week--Wall Street Reform, Unemployment Extension and a small bill, which would end the Government from paying phony bills and people. The latter will actually save the Government $38 billion a year. No small potatoes. But President Obama clearly felt he had to do this press opportunity because the last several news cycles had been focused on the firing, rehiring and smearing of Ms. Sherrod. So here's the President of the United States begging for recognition of some major accomplishments. I felt bad for him.

By late afternoon, Senator Landrieu threw a tantrum and shamed the Senate into finally passing the bill to provide small businesses loans, claiming these loans are likely to create 1 million jobs and make the Government money. This seems to be a hidden theme for some of the Democratic accomplishments this year--making money for the taxpayers. The TARP program made money, the auto bailout made money, the small business loans make money, the healthcare bill makes money and even the BP disaster made money. When was the last time this ever happened?

Last night I watched Van Jones address the Netroots meeting in Las Vegas. Van Jones chastised liberals and progressives for criticizing President Obama. "This guy volunteered to be the Captain of the Titantic after it hit the iceberg." Nice line. Van Jones made the best presentation yet by an Obama person on the clean energy strategy for transforming our economy. If you get a chance, review the video because it synthesizes the various aspects of energy policy and how it impacts the society at large. You'll also get some idea why Glenn Beck felt he needed to smear him. He is a very inspirational and effective speaker.

This morning President Obama seemed to have his mojo back with his weekly address to the Nation. Here he recounted the essence of the Wall Street Reform bill but added talking points of all the tax cuts this Administration have given the American taxpayer and small businesses. Then he zeroed in on John Boehner's alleged plan, pointing out that all the laws Boehner and the Republicans want to repeal contain all these tax cuts and will even deepen the deficit. In short, he called out the Republicans on actually wanting to increase taxes and the deficit. He is beginning to sharpen the Demmocrats' approach to the mid-terms.

In mid-morning Nancy Pelosi gave a strong defense of the House Democrats' record, which, in my opinion, has passed more "progressive" legislation in a short time than any other Congress. So Speaker Pelosi was in good shape before the Netroots. Then she switched and introduced a video feed from President Obama, which was considered a surprise. The nice part of the feed was when he hit the line about accomplishments, he cut to a video insert of Rachel Maddow just listing act after act after act, and then he concluded his address. As Rachel Maddow said, no one has done so much for the country since the days when alcohol was illegal. While he admitted change has not come as fast as he would even have liked, he promised more and warned that the country can not be allowed to go backward.

One small fact that no one has been mentioning and I completely forget. The bulk of American forces will really be gone from Iraq in August as President Obama promised in his campaign. Only he has mentioned this while no one in the press has even made a peep about it.

Another little note in the money-making territory. Nancy Pelosi mentioned in her speech a manufacturing and raw resource bill--in typical congressional fashion. Not to make it complicated, this little bill creates over 100,000 jobs and the GOP had tried to block it. It's this type of thing the Democrats have to make plain in words that the average citizen can understand.

The real bad news is that unemployment will remain at 9% through 2012, which makes the President vulnerable to demagoguery. The Bookings Institute this past week released a report on why unemployment will remain at these levels for the foreseeable future unless we transform the basis of our economy. Here I again urge you to listen to Van Jones, who outlines how that transformation is envisioned by President Obama. If the Democrats could speak as plainly about this as he, it would serve them well.

As Joe Biden told a fund-raiser in South Carolina, the heavy lifting is done and the Big Building Blocks are in place. Now is the time to explain this to the American voter.

There is a sense that the Democrats are more organized and getting their acts together just in time for the election. The question for Republicans is whether they peaked too soon and whether they have anything to offer other than a protest vote against the President. Charlie Cook , who has been beating the drums for a Republican takeover of the House, today ran a piece called "Adding Up The Democratic Math". Cook decided that he owed equal time to the Democrats.

He says that Democrats feel they will pick up 4 Republicans seats, with a chance at 8. Cook gives them the 4, which would mean the Republicans would need 43 just to get to a 218-217 control of the House. Of the 16 most vulnerable Democrats, the Democrats believe they would lose 8, which means they are down only 4 at that point. Now 35 Democrats would have to lose. Several dozen threatened incumbents have a massive financial edge over the Republicans, who can't make up the difference in time for the elections. The vulnerable incumbents can count on television and radio ads where the opponents can't. He cites several cases where Republicans are broke. In terms of organization, the DCCC is 14-3 in special elections, which Cook says demonstrates they are professionals. This tracks with what I wrote on Republicans yesterday. Their organization is fractured and ineffective and their finances are scattered and so far under the Democrats. The New York Times wrote today that the Democrats have already made a $25 million television buy for near election day.

You get the sense that even though he has been battered and bruised, President Obama has grit and still has energy. From the recent forays into the campaign mode, you also have a sense that Democrats have a sense about what they are doing. On the other side, you really sense alot of lazy bowhards, repeating the same lines about Democrats we have heard since 1980. Mark Pence tried to convince everyone that we are about to have the largest tax increase in history. Only if the Republicans filibuster tax cuts for the middle class. I got the sense the Democrats are not going to allow this nonsense to happen. The real sense I get from the Republicans is that they are truly brain dead and so intellectually lazy they don't recognize it. They are totally dependent now on the hate groups and the Right-wing echochamber for their electoral success. Given the recent polls showing independents basically splitting their vote, compared to earlier this year, this strategy seems to be backfiring. Then you have to wonder how Michele Bachman saying that all Republicans are going to do after the election is investigate the Obama administration will play with the average voter. Do people have fond memories of the circus surrounding the Clinton investigations? I would think and hope not.

Tom Tancredo provided the comic relief yesterday when he penned an op-ed for the Washington Times calling for President Obama's impeachment because he is more dangerous to this country than Al Qaeda. Even Fox News in their interview with him said, "You have to be kidding." But then the woman interviewer hadn't watched Glenn Beck declare the day Wall Street Reform passed, "was the day the American Republic died." Beck obviously watches Keith Olbermann because he now has taken to throwing papers at the camera--this time they were blank papers, which he pretended were the text of the bill. And this morning I received a new article from an extreme rightwing person calling for Obama's resignation yet again for taking the country to progressive socialism. I guess that's different from regressive socialism.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Goodnight Vienna*

*belated Happy Birthday to Ringo.

A fun political video is at , apparently made by the Democratic Governors' Association for the netroots conference in Las Vegas.

Andrew Breitbart claims he is "public enemy number 1 of the Democratic Party, the progressive movement and the Obama Administration" for his journalist successes. I guess this video and the whole ACORN scam. I didn't know he had been an assistant to Drudge and says that he was addicted to crack cocaine and been in rehab. Maybe he met Lindsey Lohan there. ( Could someone tell me what Lindsey Lohan ever did?) I guess he wants to be the Drudge of the YouTube age.

President Obama gave an interview to ABC and said that his Administration had erred and jumped the gun because of the media. His explanation as usual made alot of sense but doesn't end the bad taste left by this episode.

And speaking of bad taste, Rep. King , the Christianist from Iowa, wants to investigate how Shirley Sherrod was hired by the Ag Department in the first place. So put that on your list of investigations for next year. Darrell Issa wants to investigate the Obama Administration's connections to Google.

And also, add the whole Blag the Governor episode. That hasn't worked out so well for the Right. The Gov. complained about Obama just wanting to thank him if Ms. Jarrett was going to be appointed senator. He had bigger fish to fry. Unfortunately, the Governor let us down by refusing to take the stand in his defense.

Someone who should step down is our old friend Charlie Rangel, who faces a number of ethics charges in the House. Sorry Charlie, you've had a good run. Now hang it up.

FED Chair Bernanke told the House today that Congress has to keep on spending so the economy can recover. He said that the United States must produce plans to reduce the deficit and the national debt but recovery must take the first priority.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi slammed the door on continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy but did emphasize the Democrats' desire to help the middle class. Geitner himself weighed in to say the tax cuts for the wealthy would expire as planned. So the fat is in the proverbial fire.

Remember when Drudge criticized President Obama for not vacationing in the Gulf when he went to Maine. Now President Obama is vacationing in the Gulf. No doubt we'll hear about how many times he played golf. He becoming a regular Ike or maybe even John Boehner.

Meanwhile Vishnu Jindal says we don't need no stinkin' BP money. Even his full statement didn't make any sense.

Tom Tancredo, the friend of all illegal immigrants and a birther, has asked the Republicans running for Governor of Colorado to step aside so he can run. Sounds good to me.

Barbara Boxer has an 11-1 cash on hand advantage against Carly Fiorina. The problem is that Carly intends to write herself a seven figure check to make up the difference. That's what having two yachts can do for you.

Elaine Marshall has jumped out into the lead against Burr in North Carolina. She leads 37-35% with 23% undecided in a race people had automatically put into the Republican column.

Lt. Dan Choi has been discharged from the military for his gayness. Dan Choi drew attention to the cause of gay soldiers through acts of civil disobedience such as chaining himself to the White House fence. Dan has been an articulate spokesperson for repealing DADT. What I can't understand is why discharge him now when you are reviewing the whole policy. Surely, that could have waited.

Oliver North has made a video about DADT, warning Americans that NAMBLA members will now be allowed to enlist in the military and that the home schooled children we are recruiting for the military will quit. The last raises several interesting questions about who exactly are we recruiting into the military. Ollie also raises questions whether chaplains will have to perform same sex marriages and will same sex couples serve in the same units. Another soldier claimed that all the Christians would quit from the military if DADT was repealed. Are we opening a window here on a Christian army waging holy wars against Muslims?

If you're interested in the whole issue of whether Trig is really the son of Sarah Palin, check out Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish where this seems to be an obsessive topic. There is now a whole hermaneutics on what this would mean or does mean for her future.

Pastor Warren of Silent Cone Fame has blinded himself through an accident. No comment.

The Washington Post printed a fascinating piece today about how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent nearly $3 million a week in opposition to President Obama's major agenda items, breaking all lobbying records and losing big-time. They vow to spend $75 million or more on November's midterm election cycle and have even backed their own candidates in the Republican primaries. So far more than 6 of their hand-picked candidates have gone down to defeat. They claimed to have blocked the union "card check" bill, cap-and-trade climate legislation and the proposed public option. Frankly, in my opinion, they claim credit where nothing was proposed in the first place. They remind me of the NRA who claims to have blocked all sorts of anti-gun moves by the Obama Administration that never existed. The Chamber is simply bilking its members.

And speaking of the public option, the CBO number is out--it would save the country about $68 billion.

John Boehner may have been hitting the sauce because he admitted that the teabaggers "are anarchists who would kill all of us in office." Letting his hair down for the guys.

Heat Wave at the Last Manatee

*Let's see whether my eyes can get through this without the grammatical mess of the last post.

Most interesting post I've read this afternoon is by a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission who argues Shirley Sherrod should sue Breibart and Fox for slander. She doesn't meet the legal standard of a public figure and the author argues that she has an open and shut case, which would be beneficial to everyone fighting racism. Perhaps, the right picked this up. Ann Coulter is arguing that Breibart was set up by his source. Glenn Beck said today Shirley Sherrod is part of Obama's plot to discredit Fox. Well, I'm sure he has enough sense not to do it on his big Wall Street Reform day. Sue Shirley! Fired up! Ready to Go!

Sensing the tide has turned, the GOP whipped out their new revolutionary agenda. Senator Cornyn told NPR that he will do everything in his power to prevent 'bad laws" from passing until after elections. Senator Corker and Tan Man Boehner want the Obama Administration to pledge there would be no major legislation in the lame duck session after the elections. So this means the Republican legislative strategy is to prevent all laws until after the new Congress comes back in 2011. If you remember 2006, one of the key reasons the Democrats took power was that the Republican House was only in session six months of the year. So here we go again. Tan Man Boehner even said he would not author any legislation for the first year the GOP runs the House. Is that cool?

Instead, Michele Bachmann said today that the GOP should focus all of its attention on issuing subpoenas and holding hearings investigating the Obama Administration and Democrats. "I think that's all we should do," she told a GOP Youth Convention in Washington. "I think all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another and expose all the nonsense that has gone on." She said that Republicans have all their chips on the table. "This is the year--this is it," she said.

If Republicans won the House, they would take control of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. We know that Rep. Darrell Issa of California is interviewing now and preparing to hire two dozen heavy weight lawyers for the staff if the Republicans win. We also remember that Nancy Pelosi took the impeachment of George W. Bush off the table before the 2006 election. This was especially important considering the case was a strong one. I guess turnabout is not fair play.

Oh ,about those small business loans. The Republican Senator from Florida is a co-sponsor and Ben Nelson supports it. What was strange was the Republican Senator telling NPR that the bill was "deficit neutral so I can't tell why my other colleagues won't support it." Utah's Bob Bennett responded that it was because Republicans didn't write the law and were not allow to submit amendments. Still it might actually get the 60 votes for cloture so a vote could really be done.

President Obama did talk to Shirley Sherrod, probably thanking her for discrediting Fox News. He also issued a statement that he wanted the tax cuts for the rich to expire. So I guess the game is on for preserving middle class tax cuts and ending the tax cuts for the upper income brackets. The political point is to draw the line in the sand prior to the mid-terms, not after. You have to make the larger political point about where the Republicans are before you make the deal. This is different from the larger legislative issues, which actually needed time to formulate. This is one of those short two page bills the Republicans like so much.

Marc Ambinder rained on the GOP parade today with his Atlantic piece "RNC Chaos Threatens GOP Chances for House Takeover". Ambinder reports Republican strategists fear that the chaos at the RNC threatens to cost Republicans the chance to take the House. The RNC serves as a bank account to shore up House races and it coordinates the party's field operations and funds "Victory" committees with state parties. Observers complain the RNC barely is fulfilling the second function and has less than $10 million on hand and probably will not be able to help by the time of the elections. The report of the failure to report a deficit to the FEC has hindered further fund-raising. Apparently, the political director, Gentry Collins, has seen his budget slashed and the state parties are complaining about the condition of the party's Voter Vault datamart.

What does that mean in terms of practical politics. It means that state parties have to outsource their voter mobilization efforts. This is inefficient, costly and probably ineffective. The deficit issue means the party can not regain its financial footing in time for the election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has twice as much cash on hand as the National Republican Campaign Committee. Charles Cook rates 73 House races as competitive . To win the House republicans have to pick up 44 seats. Even if Republicans win most of the tossup seats and those that lean Republican , they'd still have to win about half the seats that lean Democrat right now. Without a solid field operation and facing financial disadvantage, the edge Republicans now feel will be lost.

Apparently the fights within the RNC have become downright nasty. Michael Steele hypes his recruitment of candidates, especially an unprecedented number of blacks and women, and wants his legacy to be the reform of the presidential primary rules. But the professional political operatives see the deterioration of the much-vaunted GOTV apparatus, which proved to be the prime Republican weapon of choice in the past.

That's why the Democrats retooling David Plouffe's Obama operation is so important. Once President Obama addressed Democrats a few months ago, asking blacks, Latinos and women to mobilize for the mid-terms, you saw the right-wing echo chamber rev up the anti-Latino and anti-black rhetoric. Even if the Obama surge voters do not materialize in the same numbers they did in 2008, just a fraction can mean the difference in several House seats. And, in terms of GOTV operations, the Obama operation has the superior technology and voter targeting data.

If the Hippies Cut Off Their Hair, I Don't Care*

* Jimi Hendrix. My music brainworms increase with age. I'll have to consult Oliver Sacks about this.

Wow, the Democrats can really step on their message. If the last few weeks didn't make the stark choice in this year's election any clearer, then let the Democrats shoot themselves in the feet. Yesterday was a gift day for both President Obama and the Democrats. In the morning at the Reagan Building, President Obama signed the most far-reaching change in our financial system since the Great Depression and the cherry on top was the Consumer Protection Aghency. Then the Senate finally managed to pass the extension of unemployment benefits. Third, the Pew Foundation issued its report about the tangible benefits consumers are seeing from the Credit Card bill passed previously by the Democrats. Coupled with a week of Republicans openly proclaiming a return to George W, you would think the Democrats finally had momentum.

But No! This has happened repeatedly during the Obama years when the Administration needs lift and has a right to reach it. Instead, we are treated to a 24-hour news cycle that obliterated these achievements by focusing on the firing and re-hiring of Shirley Sherrod, a USDA employee who had spent decades working with both black and white farmers. The administration was set up by conservative internet prankster Andrew Briebart, the man who brought you the ACORN pranks, and Fox News, which needed a new race story after the New Black Panthers started to fade after 80 shows. Not only did the administration react poorly and try to limit damage control by firing Ms. Sherrod without even thinking about it, but the rehiring was handled so poorly.

Almost as a parody of liberalism, Tom Vilsack rehired her for a post on racial relations. As Willie Nelson wrote yesterday on Huffington Post, this woman was key during the FARM AID years for saving hundreds of farms in the South. Instead, a correction of the situation really called for her to be in charge of a program on rural poverty. That was her expertise to which she devoted several decades of work. Instead, she gets to be a black women, not an expert. But the damage to the larger events of the day have been done and actually vindicates Roger Ailes constant playing of the race card against the Administration.

Rachel Maddow did an excellent job on her show by putting all these racial eruptions during the Obama years in perspective and concentrating on the political strategy behind them. She obviously struck a raw nerve because Joe Scarborough this morning blasted her for bringing up the old Republican Southern strategy as if it were relevant. But, Joe, you know it is. Eugene Robinson on Rachel's show made the age-old point that you stand up the bullies, not kowtow to them. Conservatives hunt in packs and not alone. He did say that the whole Breibart episode revealed the whole race-baiting card more fully and that the Administration should push back and exploit it.

The whole Sherrod scandal was manufactured for several reasons. First, the news media had finally begun to examine the racism of the tea baggers. Ths provoked public internal fights among teabaggers. The President himself forcefully started criticizing Republicans on unemployment extension and the message started to gain traction. The Republicans started self-destructing with their calls to return to George W. The right's message was being seen as the Emperor's New Clothes. So a return to the politics of racial fear was called for and Andrew Breibart specializes in this.

There is an actual concrete reason for the Sherrod scandal that actually involves the USDA. The USDA has settled claims under the Obama Administration made by black farmers, who have been deprived of their land over the years. The settlement has riled up southern Whites and none of the pundits would have a clue as to what this issue was about.

Anyone who lived through the various Clinton Scandals would see the old pattern. Drudge used to put his siren on and make some allegation. The conservatives would rage about this new injustice. Then to be "balanced" the mainstream media would have to cover it as a real story. Then one had to have congressional action. Here with Fox News, you have a commercial incentive for the other networks to make these things real. Fox News with its right-wing stringers like Breibart and the ACORN kid gin up a story and can run it on all their shows for as long as it takes for the other networks to cover it. First the other networks don't want to be scooped and second they have to look like they consider "conservative" points of view because they view this demographic as essential to their ratings. So from the extreme, you legitimize basically bogus news. It's no wonder white supremacists find it comfortable now to not only express their opinions but also even write legislation on immigration.

The Obama Administration has to find a way to develop a strategy to either circumvent this process or to ride over it. The optics of their political management is awful. Almost the entire George W administration was spin--all hat, no cattle. The Obama Administration is no hat, lots of cattle but they seem unable to capitalize on it.

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment on this subject drew great praise from the progressives and it should. But Olbermann doesn't seem to get the fact that President Obama can't come out firing because he would fall into the ultimate race trap. He would then be seen as an angry black man. Other people can and certainly Administration officials should take the initiative to fire back at the right's campaign to make Barack Obama the next Willie Horton. The administration played small ball--first wrongfully ,as Olbermann pointed out,engaging in immediate damage control, and then righting their own wrong, which they did clumsily at best. The broader image was that the Administration made mistake and unlike the last one immediately apologized and corrected it. But Olbermann's larger point was correct--why does the Administration keep allowing Fox and the Right's echochamber write the script and compose the score.

I have yet to read a single comment on Rush Limbaugh's racist rants on this episode. He went so far as to link Ms. Sherrod to Obama's Healthcare reform. Ms. Sherrod is seen as typical of the incompetent radicals who have insinuated themselves into the administration to advance their radical agenda. And ,white people, she would be one of those types of people in charge of your healthcare. This is not the first racist tirade from Limbaugh. This is just a continuation of his rants against the Obama Administration since the first day. At first, observers felt that his racist rants were his effort to block the inroads Glenn Beck was making into the Right Wing World. But as time moves on, it's just simply that Limbaugh is a racist.

So can the Democrats recoup? Well, they're going to have to hand out Karl Rove talking points. After the Republicans spent the last two weeks ranting about the deficit and unemployment benefits, then demanding the tax cuts for the wealthy remain in tact, the Democrats, who had been behaving as mature adults, decided this morning to blow out their brains. Senators Kent Conrad, Bayh and Nelson came out this morning in favor of preserving the tax cuts for the wealthy because the economy hasn't recovered sufficiently. And naturally, they claimed they would not offset the deficit created by them. These three guys just blew a massive hole in the major Democratic talking point since the Recession began. Tax Cuts and unpaid for entitlements like Medicaid D as well as two wars generated the massive deficts we have.

As I wrote yesterday, the House was going to preserve the Middle Class tax cuts and eliminate the wealthy so as to politically box the Republicans in. This would be shrewd politics forcing the Republicans to be overtly for the rich and corporations. Stay tuned because if the Democrats capitulate on this tax rates for the wealthy, they may lose the whole ballgame.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House-To-Be The Tan Man John Boehner said he had empathy for the unemployed because he has three brothers who have lost their jobs during the Recession. Although he admitted, he hadn't checked to see how they were doing. I guess he was too busy playing golf. What would he do for job creation? Nothing. Cool.

Senate Democrats have a chance to redeem themselves if they push for the jobs bill that provides for small business loans. While Elizabeth Warren doesn't know whether these loans will create the number of jobs promised, some say that it will generate millions of jobs. The Republicans oppose it--which should be another nail in their electoral coffin. It's now a matter whether the Republican Long War strategy has worn the Democrats down that they can't push for anything substantive anymore.

Since we eliminated the debt yesterday, I want to fine tune the McColm Social Security Plan. As I wrote, by raising the limit on the FICA tax, we fund Social Security to infinity and beyond. But a blogger points out that what we can do is modify the McColm Plan and cut the FICA tax rate in half because the wealthy--say $1 million a year--only pay .066% now. The elimination of the limit will generate massive surpluses like the 1983 Reagan Social Security change but with a change in the tax rate to 3% this will stimulate the economy because the middle class will bring home more in their paycheck. Clever, Hey?

Representative Lynn Woolsey, the co-chair of the progressive caucus, is sponsoring a strong public option bill for the healthcare reform. If she could put this in terms of enlarging Medicare for All, the Howard Dean solution, then we are on our way to fiscal sanity.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rt 66 at The Last Manatee

I think I've finally figured out the politics of the new Right. Protect the unborn and worry about future generations' debt and not give a damn about living people. That's a winning formula.

On the debt, I've finally solved it. We fixed the social security problem with my rise the ceiling on the FICA tax. We solved the National Military/ Terrorist deficit by limiting national security costs to double that of the next largest country's expenditures. That saves us about $1 trillion a year. And the Medicare issue, which has bothered me, is now resolved. Think Howard Dean and the public option, which was not included in the healthcare bill. Progressives take note. Health costs rise for people 50 or over, with the largest expenditures of health costs at the end of life. By widening the risk pool, you lower the costs. So allow for all Americans to enroll in Medicare, which would bolster its revenues and lower long-term costs by spreading the risk to other demographic groups. Take our three proposals together, the national debt issue is solved.

Taxes. Republicans figured they would box Democrats in on the tax issue for the mid-terms as we saw yesterday, especially with the nonsense that tax cuts pay for themselves. The Democrats plan to make the Bush Middle Tax Cuts permanent this term with the exception of the brackets above $250,000. This puts Republicans in a monkey trap of their own doing. They are already moaning that it is the top brackets who stimulate the economy. Now Democrats have to point out that most small businesses don't make a profit of $200,000 a year and they should actually restore income-averaging, which got dropped years ago because of some special interest no one remembers. Add that and they have a winner.

Elizabeth Warren, American heroine. All the noise about Senate confirmation is nonsense. She doesn't have to be approved by the Senate so her "difficulties " are nonsense. Labor Unions and over 3 dozen members of the House have petitioned the White House to appoint her. The first leader of the new Consumer Agency will set the tone for its whole existence.

Bob Herbert had an interesting op-ed in the New York Times where he writes that Obama and the Democrats had an historic chance and blew it completely on generating jobs. Herbert claims that they should have focused on the issue of an economic recovery and the creation of jobs before anything, including healthcare reform. He suggested a large jobs program in clean energy. Interestingly, former Republican Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge also had suggested at the time of the stimulus package a Manhattan-style project on energy to revitalize the economy. I share some of Herbert's thoughts but I still come back to the fact that President Obama came in office with only one major party operating in the country and the other using procedural tricks to stop and stall every new initiative. I also believed the stimulus was too small and that has turned out to be right but politically I can't see how it could have been different with the poison here in the Potomac.

My only comment on the faux scandal of the USDA employee is that her father had been lynched by the KKK, which might color her views on white folks, and still she saved the white couples farm, which shows she did rise above racism.

Sister Glenn Beck's sponsor Goldfine is now being investigated by the state of California and the U.S. Congress. Goldfine is peddled by conservative talk show hosts and makes its money by selling gold coins way above market prices.

A correction of a Huffington Post piece, Lindsey Graham's vote for Elena Kagan was necessary. The author said she had the Democrats' vote but didn't need Republicans. She needed at least one Republican to get her nomination to the floor. Never fear though, Frank Gaffney published a piece in the Washington Times saying once again that Elena Kagan supports Sharia Law. Why wouldn't conservatives support Sharia Law. If you hate women and want lower interest rates on credit cards, Sharia Law is the way to go.

The research wing ( you have to love it) of Focus on Your (Not My) Family produced a DVD urging Christians to vote or they will go to hell. What happens if you're sick?

Chet Traylor, a former State Supreme Court Judge" has entered the Republican primary race against Diaper Dave Vitter on the platform he is the "most moral candidate". The prostitute loving Louisiana Senator looks in trouble. But, wait, Judge Traylor has to explain his affairs with two married women. No wonder Charlie Cook downgraded the Republican chances in the race.

One surprise is Alex Sink, the Democrat, now leading for governor of Florida. I thought she was a particular weak candidate but the Republicans are self-destructing there. Charlie Crist has widened his lead recently over Marco Rubio. Florida voters are also calling for Crist to caucus with the democrats if he wins.

I happen to agree with progressive who thought the Democrats in West Virginia caved to the Republicans by allowing a sitting politicians to run for two seats at the same time. This would allow Shelly Capito, the Republican House member to run for Senate. She was the only viable candidate against Governor Manchin. This morning she announced she would not run for the seat, making it probable that the Democrats will not suffer another Scott Brown situation in Massachusetts.

Barbara Boxer, no hobo herself, is running ads against Carly Fiorina about Carly's two yachts. What's great was the response from Fiorina's spokeswoman, telling an economically depressed state that having two yachts was reasonable.

Part three of the Washington Post's investigative piece on Secret America appeared today. The whole series is a must read, detailing the Rube Goldberg machine of our intelligence community.

President Obama is signing the Wall Street Reform Bill into law today. Pundits claim that the series of great legislative accomplishments have not help President Obama and the Democrats. Well, they may have helped the country. Gallup, which is doing a boom business, has a new gimmick to pacify critics--they have shown quarterly reports of drops in Obama's approval rating to 47.5% for the last quarter. So this can be used to dominish a 49% average of the year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taxes, We Don't Need No Stinkin' Taxes

President Obama slam yesterday at the Republicans put them on the defensive. All of a sudden they claimed they were for unemployment extension but they just wanted it paid for. I know take it out of stimulus funding for Boehner's district and McConnell's state. Even so, the Democrats had to muster 60 votes to move the bill in the Senate. Almost all Republicans have voted against unemployment extension seven times during this Administration. Since 1952, unemployment extensions were always approved on a bipartisan basis and never denied until now.

There is an element here that has escaped everyone's attention. The Republicans act like they won the last election, which is why they obstruct everything. Now they are basically forcing the Obama Administration to exert its political capital over chicken shit, making it almost impossible for any heavy lifting in the future. The reason is simply that they know the old paradigm, where they dictated the terms of the political debate is over.

Democrats are thrilled by Republicans fully embracing George W.'s economic policies. It has been an astonishing last two days where the full-blown Republican talking points are now being circulated through the countries. It can't be a coincidence that everyone from Marco Rubio, Senator Barraso, Carly Fiorina and Sharron Angle have embraced the same economic ideas. Rachel Maddow in her show ran Marco Rubio's commercial where he hyped his "ideas for the economy" by saying that Rachel Maddow was against them. Maddow was very funny running a counter-ad of her own explaining why the ideas are really a disaster.

But these ideas are now shared. Make the Bush tax cuts permanent. Grover Norquist, Jihadist, Log Cabin Republican and friend of Jane Hamster of FireDogLake, sent around a memo yesterday alerting conservatives to "prepare for the largest tax increases in history". All of course linked to President Obama. And of course every tax bracket gets increased if you use the logic that the Democrats are just going to let the tax cuts expire in 2010 without any modification. And, of course, if all you want to do is preserve the tax cuts for the wealthiest. Then there should be no estate tax. This also expires in 2010. Democrats are trying to modify this to a situation where estates of 5-7 million would be tax-free and then higher would be subject to a tax. There should be no corporate taxes. This would encourage companies sitting on the $2 trillion in cash reserves to create jobs. Healthcare or Obamacare should be repealed. Even though according to the CBO the healthcare bill is deficit neutral. Social Security should be privatized. Government spending should be cut because of the deficit. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, this really is voodoo economics since all the above would dramatically increase the deficit.

Most people thought Senator Kyl made a gaffe when he advocated maintaining the tax cuts for the wealthy and stopping extensions to unemployment. Even Chris Wallace said that the tax cuts for the wealthiest would lead to greater deficits. Kyl's gaffe was a premature unveiling of the Republican economic program. His statement that tax cuts are paid for became the litany of congressional Republicans the last few days. Mark Pence, who has joined the Teabagger Caucus, used the old supply-siders argument that JFK cut the top marginal tax rate and that stimulated the economy. We are supposed to skip the history of the Republican years.

When I started this blog, I pointed out the Republican politics of deficits. Reagan's were aimed at bankrupting the Soviet Union and restraining Democratic spending in the follow-up years. George W.'s deficit spending was to set the stage for the final dismantling of the social welfare system. The problem was that the disintegration of the global economy and the lack of tools at the FED's disposal forced a situation where old Keynesian economics had to return. Instead of recalibrating their economic approach, the Republicans have now doubled down on W's economics because it was all based on ideology and not practicality.

The overt embrace of George W, at this time in the electoral season is madness. A moderate Democratic group, the Third Way, polled voters about approaches to the economy. 49% preferred someone who supported Obama's economic policies; while 34% aligned themselves with Bush. However, if you excluded Bush's name. The polls revealed that 51% would vote for someone who believed Obama's policies were not working and only 42% for those who supported Obama's policies. In other words, Republicans should have just shut up if they wanted the election to be a referendum on the Democrats.

The United States now has about the same inequality of income distribution as the days before the Great Depression. 1% of the country now holds 26% of the wealth. This is in the realm of being a banana republics. As a comparison in the heydays of John Boehner's America, which he claims Obama is destroying, 1% owned 6% of our national wealth and America was at the zenith of its power and the economy dominated the world.

Everyone knows that small businesses generate the most jobs in America. Since Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party has stressed job creation through small businesses and the middle class. Go back to the 2008 Republican Convention. I never heard the term "middle class" or "small business" mentioned. As we have seen throughout the stimulus debate, healthcare debate and the Wall Street Reform debate, today's Republican party has aligned itself with the largest multinational corporations and with the wealthiest classes. The bone they throw the masses is "family values". To be so overtly large corporation and the wealthy puts the Republican Party back in the late 19th century and early 20th. Herbert Hoover would not be allowed as a member because he was too progressive.

What stung Republicans when Obama spoke was his description that Republicans "lack faith in the American people." Republicans thought they could embrace the faux populist movement of the teabaggers and continue to wrap the flag around themselves without anyone shooting at them. But this constant embrace of the status quo is getting to be old and revealing the extreme ideological morass they have found themselves in.

Last night I watched a spectacular display of religious libertarianism with Glenn Beck lecturing his audience about what an evil idea the "common good" is. It was an awesome display of insulting the American public. He claimed if you embraced the common good then death camps would be next. He said that the individual is the primary good. Ayn Rand meets the Wealth Gospel. But at least Beck was honest--his position is where the Republicans are today. There is no common good. And government should not be used to alleviate the economic distress of the American people.

That's why the tea baggers are caught all in knots over the charges from the NAACP about racism. Racism and nativism are the tools if you're going to persuade people to embrace a corporatist economic ideology. Obama did us a favor by having alongside him unemployed Americans who have been looking for jobs. In one photo opportunity , he drilled home that the 'welfare queen" language coming from congressional Republicans about the unemployed is simply not true and that compassion and empathy are not values that should be removed from governance.

But in New Hampshire,we have our first GOP candidate for the state assembly having been endorsed by the new American Third Position group. The candidate is running on a platform of preserving our white racial identity and claiming that white people should have a home land of their own. So far no Republican has denounced his candidacy. Down in Arizona, the sheriff who appeared in John McCain's "Danged Fence" commercial went on the air on a white supremacist radio show and asked for all the white militias to come on down to help him out.

We forget and most Americans don't know that in September 2008, when the economy melted down, President George W. Bush informed congress that if they didn't approve the bank bailout he would declare martial law. In fact troops had been brought home from Iraq for the occasion. We were just moments away from the complete suspension of our Constitution. Can you imagine today if America actually starts toward a Great Depression , what the threat of fascism would be? All these posters and billboards about Obama as Hitler are simply projections of those who aspire to that ideology taking over the country.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gallup Congressional Poll

Since 1950, Gallup has polled congressional races. According to the company, Republican turnout in midterms usually means a 5% advantage over Democratic turnouts. Today's generic poll shows the preference 49% Democrats to 43% Republicans. Democrats have not scored this high for the last six months and only reached 49% twice since Obama's election. As Gallup moves towards the elections, there will be polling likely voters for a more precise reading. But what is interesting to me is this wide of margin at this date, when Democrats have previously only lead by 1-2 points in reputable polls. As Gallup concludes, the party results will be close with a slight advantage to the Democrats. Gallup claims that their polling historically has come close to predicting the ultimate outcome in Congress.

But what is also glaring is the wide enthusiasm gap of voters. 51% of Republicans are wildly enthused about voting. Only 28% of Democrats. I have no idea how you square the generic spread with the enthusiasm gap.

What is also interesting is the narrowing of support for the two parties by independents. Now the lead is Republicans 43 to 39% over Democrats. They may be that the independents are beginning to settle down to the natural split between the two parties. The difference is the in the past 18 months Republican identification has stabilized somewhat from the massive defection in 2008, therefore producing a sample of independents who really are unidentified with either party. But the media narrative that independents have totally jumped ship on Obama and the Democrats appears to be wrong.

Why the sudden bounce for Democrats? Gallup proposes that it was the passage of the Wall Street Reform Bill. 55% of Americans support the bill--72% of Democrats and 56% of Independents. It was clearly a more popular bill going in than the healthcare reform bill, which was subjected to a massive campaign of misinformation.

From my previous post about the Obama approval ratings in 50 states, it's very hard to take both polls and derive a winning formula from the GOP's strategy of wanting the mid-term election as a referendum on Obama. The host of polls I have posted in the last week simply don't reveal to me that great Tsunami election pundits are talking about. If anything, the electorate seems to be stablizing along normal lines.

Op-ed writers are now speculating on 2012 as if the Democrats already lost the House. I guess that's fun because remember the old poll that showed Dole beating Clinton by a wide margin. Mark Halperin wrote today that the Democrats are panicking over November. Some one should give Mark a new memo.

New Guinea at the Last Manatee

There is some more good news about the Washington Post article on our bloated, inefficient intelligence corporation. It means that the probability of conspiracy theories being true has increased dramatically. This will be a boom to novelists, Hollywood and Alex Jones. The downside is that if you work abroad in any capacity the odds are you will be seen as an American agent.

Marco Rubio, the first candidate adopted by the teabaggers, says that we have to unleash the power of the free market and that corporations have plenty of money to invest but are uncertain because of new Washington regulations. Forgetting for a moment the horrendous record of our corporations in creating jobs for the past decade, I propose a total tax moratorium for two years for all U.S. corporations in return for the creation of 15 million jobs. If they can't do this, then the government seizes them. That's fair.

Charles Cook has some new numbers of how low George W. esteem is and how voters prefer Obama's treatment of the economy better than W's. In fact, astonishingly 65% of Republicans do not believe GOP will return to these policies. Suckers! However, over the weekend, several Republican leaders emphatically argued that we have to return to these policies on the economy. In other words, the Marco Rubio line now is the standard GOP argument. Forget how the global economy collapsed and how many hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost running up to the election of Barack Obama. The whole Karl Rove corporate branch of the GOP, America at the Crossroads, is running ads against Democrats recalling year X, when the unemployment rate was low and then comparing it to now. So vote Republican. I thought John Boehner's America was supposed to be the 1950s but I guess it was the W years.

My apologies to the baby-boomers, there will be no retirement. Scott Thill at Alternet posted a scary article a few days ago. One out of 3 Americans do not have retirement savngs beyond Social Security and about 35% of those over 65 rely almost totally on Social Security. And then factor in that anyone 40 or under will not have a pension. Dallas Salisbury of Alliance for Investor Education and the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) broke down the remaining 2/3rds of Americans as follows: 27% report less than $1,000 in savings; 16% between $1,000 and $9,999, 11% between $10,000 and $24,999, 12% between $25,000-$49,999, and 36% $50,000 or more. He recommends saving 25% of your gross income for retirement but does say the biggest risk with this is that fund-managers tend to squander your savings. So good luck. The other finding was that older Americans will have to continue some type of work until they die. So the bottom-line is that no Baby Boomers or any one younger can retire. We are now the post-retirement society.

Glenn Beck told a Salt Lake City audience that he will be blind in a year from macular dystrophy, which I take to be a type of macular degeneration. It's a horrible thing even to happen to a horrible man. Having talked over the years to Johns Hopkins about this illness because my mother suffered from it, I can report some progress has been made but not enough. The last time I asked the Doctor told me to literally eat carrots, which they found amerliorated the situation. Who knew? I thought that was an old wives tale.

Glenn Beck said on a recent show: " The policies that are being enacted in Washington are not enemies of ours. They are enemies of God, because God is about freedom." What can you say to that?

Gallup has released a monster poll where they surveyed more than 90,000 adults nationwide for Obama's approval rating. Obama averaged 49% nationwide since January, compared to 57% over the entire previous year. To give you some idea of how stable the rating is, today's Gallup tracking poll had him at 48%.

So Obama tops out at 85% in Washington, D.C. because he goes to Ben's Chili Bowl and Hawaii, which thinks he was born there, is 68%. He ranks high in Delaware at 62%. (Note here: it's widely assumed Mike Castle, the moderate conservative Republican, will win the Democratic Senate seat in November. Watch this space because with this number taht might change.) Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Illinois and Vermont as well as California top out the top 10. In California, he has a 56% approval rating. (Watch this space whether this aids Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer in the Fall.)

With the exception of New Hampshire, we don't really care if the bottom ten states leave the union. His lowest rating is Wyoming at 29% followed by Utah, West Virginia and Idaho at 34%. Oklahoma, Alaska and Montana round out the 30s. Then Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, New hampshire, Alabama and Missouri at 40-41%.

In Texas--given the race for governor there, he ranks a 47% approval rating.

Barack Obama's approval rate surpasses disapproval in 31 out of the 50 states. None of the remaining states have any significant weight in terms of the electoral college if you're looking at 2012.

If you're a GOP operative, looking at these numbers you realize that Obama will take every state with a significant Latino population. That's why we are seeing the re-emergence of Jeb Bush on the political scene. Jeb showed up for a fund-raiser for Rand Paul this past week. The reasoning is that all the potential candidates for the GOP are pro-Arizona state law and anti-Latino. Jeb is married to a Latino and his son is an active political player in the Florida Latino community. So this little trial balloon of whitewashing W's record may have more to do with paving the way for Jeb, rather than with any serious policy implications.

Nate the Great Silver at has redone his Senate projects with a slight uptick to the Republicans. So Democrats hold the Senate with 53.5 seats. Contrary to today's Wall Street Journal piece today, which argues the GOP can take back the Senate, Nate puts it at a 6% possibity but higher to 18% possibility if Crist caucuses with the GOP.

Making a contribution to our political dialogue is the Constitutional Accountability Center, which today published a paper "Setting the Record Straight: The Tea Party and the Constitutional Powers of the Federal Government". See They promise to have a watch list of constitutional boners said by tea party candidates. This project is important because people are now referring to the tea baggers as populist constitutionalists, giving them more gravitas than they deserve.

For an antidote to the Washington Post piece on the military/ terrorist state, I recommend Bruce Fein's American Empire Before The Fall (Campaign for Liberty, 2010,paperback). I always view Bruce Fein as the canary in the mine shaft. If something is a problem with constitutional issues, he will be the first to holler. I believe he beat the ACLU to the punch on the Patriot Act and was the only conservative to testify for the impeachment of George W. Bush. While he seems to have become more of a libertarian than I remember, Fein's book is an excellent reminder that we really did not want an empire and we can't afford one. He promises in his introduction to offend everyone with the book but he remnds us how far we've gone away from the American ideals. He is also tough on Obama for retaining much of the national security apparatus created by W and Dick Cheney.

In reference to a few posts back, I talked about Detroit as the "arsenal of Nazi Germany". This was in reference to Ford and General Motors building so much of the German war machine. In Ford's case, it is particular to the influence Henry Ford had over Adolph Hitler, who hailed in the first edition of Mein Kampf Henry Ford's refusal to bow down to the Jewish financiers. With our experiment in ethnic cleansing in Arizona and the revival of the neo-nazis and white supremacists in the United States, it's useful to remember what a powerful influence America played in the rise of Nazi Germany and its racial theories. In a small--160p--book entitled Nazi Nexus--America's Corporate Connections to Hitler's Holocaust,Edwin Black summarizes his various works on the Holocaust and American corporations into easy-to-use chapters. Stefan Kuhl, a sociology professor at the University of Munich,works backwards from Nazi Germany to the U.S. to discuss the enormous influence American racial theories and eugenics played in the development of German National Socialism in The Nazi Connection-Eugenics, American Racism and German National Socialism. (Oxford, 1994)

Top Secret America

The Washington Post published an investigative piece by Dana Priest and William Arkin on an alternative reality America, which lacks any thorough oversight--the top secret world created after 9/11--the latest installment in our military/ terrorist complex. Today's article is the result of a two-year investigation by the Post reporters into the unprecedented spending on alleged security and intelligence. The alternative America makes Too Big Too Fail banks look puny. And, of course, this behemoth hasn't made us any safer or secure but probably has put us at greater risk.

Every American should read this piece just for the scale of the anti-terrorism effort and the sheer lunacy of the waste and redundancy.

Here are some of the highlights:

*There are some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies that work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

*An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington,D.C. hold top-secret security clearances. I can't wait for a follow-up article on counter-intelligence.

*Since September 2001, in Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built. Together they occupy the equivalent of 3 Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capital buildings--about 17 million square feet of office space.

*There are 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities,that track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks. (Consider there are about 50 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and another 350 in Pakistan and about 300 in Yemen.)

*Analysts who have to make sense of documents and conversations obtained by spying generate 50,000 intelligence reports per year--a volume so large many are routinely ignored.

In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence reside, only a handful of officials--called Super Users--have the ability to even know about all the department's activities. But even these officials can't take notes on the intelligence and programs they are monitoring.

I guess the good news is that all this acts as a stimulus to regional construction projects. But there is virtually no oversight, no accountability, no budget limits and ,in my opinion, no real effectiveness.

If you want some idea of the impossibility of digesting all the raw intelligence gathered and its storage, I recommend James Bamford The Shadow Factory (Doubleday, 2008), which examines just the insanity at the NSA and the technological challenges of storing information many times that contained in all the world's libraries combined. He likens it to Jorge Luis Borge's "Library of Babel", where "there are leagues of senseless cacophonies, verbal jumbles and incoherences."

Be safe out there!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Election News

Howard Dean has sent out an e-mail about two candidates he's backing this year--Jack Conway in Kentucky and Roxanne Conlin of Iowa. You might add Elaine Marshall in North Carolina to the list of worthy Senate candidates. Jack Conway has attracted attention because he's running against libertarian-Tea Party favorite Rand Paul. Roxanne Conlin is an attorney, and former Attorney-General of Iowa who is challenging Senator Grassley, who just voted against Wall Street Reform as well as Healthcare Reform. Grassley also has the distinction of showcasing stimulus projects in Iowa as his own, when he voted against the package. Conlin is a longshot but Grassley's state approval rate has dipped below 50% and he can be had. Elaine Marshall is another attractive candidate in North Carolina. She grew up on a farm and encouraged by 4H she was the first of her family to go to college. Again as an attorney-general, she actually defended the public interest. Her opponent is Senator Burr ,who has amassed a $6 million war chest. But all three--Conway, Conlin and Marshall make excellent candidates and have run ads that are professional but straight forward. If they can keep their opponents' lead below 10 in the next two months, they have a real shot.

Karl Rove's group is running ads against Harry Reid protesting that Harry hasn't brought home enough of the stimlus bacon to Nevada. I guess the fact that Sharron Angle says her job will not be to create jobs in Nevada, this must leave voters confused. Does Karl mean that Nevada should have a better Democratic Senator? Harry has taken a 7 point lead over Angle in the race according to the Mason-Dixon poll.

I thought it was interesting that Charlie Cook has switched his ratings on the Diaper Dave Vitter race to "leaning Republican". Apparently, Vitter appointing an aide who stabbed his girlfriend as someone in charge of "women's affairs" finally provoked a full slate of primary challengers. The idea that Charlie Melancon ,the Democrat, has a shot at the Louisiana seat is rather surprising and welcomed news.

I'm surprised that Democrats are anticipating Republican attack lines better than they used to. In Ohio, Democrats have jumped John Kasich, who used to brag about his work on Wall Street but now claims he just ran a two-man office for Lehman Brothers in Columbus. The Democrats pre-emptive ad has neutralized Kasich's attempt to minimize his involvement with the Wall Street scandal. Likewise, in Illinois, Democrats have badly wounded Republican favorite for Senate Mark Kirk by pointing out his inconsistencies on his war record. Indeed, the candidate will not even speak to the press. The Democrats destroyed Sue Lowden in Nevada by highlighting her chicken barter idea for healthcare. Now in Oregon, former NBA player Chris Dudley is in retreat as he is trying to avoid discussing any issues when Democrats and the press started raising questions about what in the state budget he would cut if elected Governor. The same seems to apply to Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon, the former owner of the World Wrestling Federation. She had been given a free pass but now questions are being asked about her stands on issues. The local newspaper even dug up her investments in oil companies dealing with Iran.

President Obama has come out in a campaign mode by addressing Republican obstructionism head-on as in his weekly television address. Perhaps the most effective campaigner from the White House so far has been Joe Biden. He likened the newfound concern of Republicans on the national debt as "arsonists expressing concerns about fire safety". Biden has been one of the best salesmen for the benefits of the stimulus package and the laundry list of achievements of the Administration. My problem is that he has oversold the amount of new jobs being created, which may come back and bite the Democrats.

The DNC circulated a memo this week written by Brad Woodhouse, their Communications Director, on "Putting Voter Sentiment and Recent Polls in their Proper Perspective". Their basic aim was to calm Democrats down about a possible repeat of 1994 or 2006 when the party in power lost Congress. They claim that there is greater support for Democratic leaders and more trust in the Democratic leadership than for the party in power in either of those election cycles.

President Obama is much more popular than President Bush in 2006 and Clinton in 1994. It also can be said he's more popular than Reagan in 1982, another serious recession year.

More voters trust the President and Congressional Democrats to lead the country than trust the Republicans to do so. This is always the missing element in news coverage of the polls that point out the lack of confidence in President Obama and the Democrats. The bottom rung here has been occupied by the Republicans at about 26% for the last 18 months.

On the economy--which is rated the number 1 concern by voters--Democrats are trusted more than Republicans 42%-34%. This is a similar margin to the Democrat win in 2006 and a larger margin than the Republicans had in their 1994 win. This is a key number to get a handle on what will happen in the fall.

Voters also trust Democrats' legislative efforts to improve the American economy and to move the country forward in other ways. A Bloomberg poll found that 58% of voters are more likely to support a Congressional candidate that "supports spending government money to create jobs and stimulate employment" while just 24% said they were less likely. The Washington Post found that 39% of voters are more likely to support a candidate who supports the Recovery, as against 37% who opposed.

According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 51% are more likely to vote for a Democratic candidate who says they will give health care a chance, while 44% said they would vote for a Republican candidate who says it should be repealed. In another poll, a majority now support the healthcare bill.

Given the recent Wall Street Reform bill, Bloomberg found that 45% of voters are more likely to suppport a Congressional candidate who supports "tougher regulations on Wall Street firms" while only 15% would be less likely to support such a candidate.

The generic congressional polls show leads either way. The DNC uses the latest Washington Post poll that showed Republicans with a 47-46% edge. In contrast, the 2006 polls, when democrats won back the House showed Democrats with a 54-41% lead over Republicans.

In short, the conclusion of a Republican takeover of Congress at this stage are not borne out by the polling data, even though all of the Washington pundits make it a foregone conclusion. For the past year, I have been pointing out Republican approval ratings in Congress are abysmal. Republican leadership in both the Senate and the House are lucky on any given week to rise above 30%. I agree that this year is chaotic with the teabagging phenomenon and the rise of the Hard Right but I have yet to see evidence of this promised tsunami of reaction.

This past week the Republican leadership may have been courting their donors for more campaign funds with calls to repeal Wall Street Reform and a moratorium on federal regulations. But I can't believe this gives them any popular momentum. Notice for instance how quiet the Tea baggers have been over the Wall Street Reform bill. Only the corporate funded branch in D.C. mounted half-hearted protests. I also sense that the national debt issue will not redound to their favor. Several polls I've written about indicate that people are not buying the need to cut social security or Medicare. Instead, they are walking over the Republican national security creds by demanding cuts in defense and war.

I still say wait until after Labor Day before we know what's really happening. I'm basically pleased to see that various polls indicate that Americans, however stressed they are, are keeping level heads on the political front. I also believe that the flood of corporate money to Republicans is not going to be a political asset but a liability this year.

Disaster Alert--Obama is on Vacation

No sooner does President Obama start for the doors and the Beltway has a 3.6 earthquake. Summer and Obama vacations almost always spell disaster. Remember last August and the tea party eruptions? Just have to keep your fingers crossed. Of course, the GOP has blasted the First Family for leaving town since there is a crisis with the BP oil spill in the Gulf. And even more damaging are the Drudge reports that Obama has played Golf ten times, while Rome burns.

But even Politico finally fessed up that Tan Man Boehner has played Golf 199 times just this year. I guess now we know why he's tan. Democrats are seizing on this to mount a billboard in his district highlighting this fact. Can you imagine the legislative schedule if the Republicans actually won back the House? The champion vacation taker is George W. Bush, who spent three whole years of his eight years in office either at his ranch or at Camp David.

The Tan Man was in fine form this past week after Wall Street Reform finally passed--with all of 3 Republican votes. Conferring with K Street lobbyists, Boehner emerged to a press conference to advocate a one-year mortatorium on all federal regulations. Can you imagine how paralyzed the government would be?Mitch McConnell is saying that Republicans really shouldn't spell out their agenda because as Republican Congressman King from New York proclaimed the media would just pick it apart. Republicans held a video conference to gather ideas from regular people--the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Home Builders of America--just folks. Mark Pence of Indiana appeared on Fox to defend Senator Kyle's statement that we must renew the tax cuts for the rich and that extended unemployment benefits were too costly. Pence used the old canned conservative argument that tax cuts for the rich generated more government revenues. Unfortunately, for him, the record has now been documented by OMB and other institutions that they massively increased the national debt. It was alright to advocate them with pie-in-the-sky projections when no one knew but now the verdict is in.

The Republicans are handing Democrats issues if they know what to do with them. An MSNBC poll of the public revealed that in every sector of the economy Americans overwhelmingly wanted more, not less regulation. As for the great social security cutters, Time magazine asked," If Congress and the President had to reduce spending, in which areas would you want tthem to cut?" 55%--wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 46%--other defense spending. 34%--unemployment compensation. 20%--Medicaid. 17%--education. 16%-Medicare. 12%--Social Security. Any bets whether the military/terrorist complex is included in the Cat Food Commission findings this December?

Apparently, Americans have not gone crazy despite the 24/7 right-wing echo chamber. Even more surprising is that Texas really hasn't gone nuts either. The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released its survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. The survey wanted to gauge public opinion on the intersection of politics and religion with the public schools. Coming after the Texas School Board's total revision of American history, this only seems appropriate. Are people in Texas so crazyas to agree to purge Thomas Jefferson from history and substitute John Calvin? Well, I guess not.

72% of likely Texas voters want teachers and scholars, not politicians to be responsible for writing curriculum requirements for public schools.
84% of Democrats, 63% of Republicans and 76% of Independents through all major urban areas want experts in charge of writing curriculum standards.
68% said that the separation of church and state is a key constitutional principle but 49% said that religions should have some influence in public schools.

But this finding doesn't mean that Texans want to sign on to the religious culture wars.
80% of likely Texas voters agree that high school classes on sex education should teach about" contraceptions,such as condoms and other birth control, along with abstinence."
88% think public schools should be required "to protect all children from bullying, harassment and discrimination in school, including the children of gay and lesbian parents or teenagers who are gay".
55% of likely Texas voters oppose using publicly funded vouchers that allow some students to attend private and religious schools.

As I've previously noted, something seems to be happening in the Texas governor race. Democrat Bill White has outraised GOP's Rick Perry and with Linda Chavez-Thompson as his Lt.Gov he has a good chance to swing the Latino vote. Locals polls show post the Arizona Immigration Law that Latinos has shifted dramatically to White.

Meg Whitman has tried to become Latino friendly in her race against Jerry Brown, even though her primary campaign ran ads for more restrictive immigration laws. But you wonder why someone would spend $100 million of her own money and counting to win any office. Meg has a keen sense of business. Her core campaign idea is to eliminate the California Income Tax. Pretty nifty. So she recoups her campiagn expenditures if she wins by eliminating the tax of her income. This is populism at work.

Meanwhile in Arizona, our experiment in ethnic cleansing continues. It seems Arizonans are not dying at a high rate, it's the illegals coming across the border. Death rates are reaching historical proportions. But the great news is that militiamen led by a real neo-Nazi are patrolling the border. The federal government claims they haven't broken any laws---yet.

The NAACP passed a rather tame resolution calling on the Tea Party gang to denounce those in their ranks who are racist. Naturally, they were attacked as racist by Sarah Palin and the tea party spokespeople. Those Obama as Hitler signs were plants from the "Crash the Tea Party" group, who are also alleged to be responsible for the group's bad spelling. However, Mark Williams on the Tea Party Express was demoted for posting a racist parody of blacks rejecting the Emancipation Proclamation on the group's website. This was on the day he appeared on Fox to call the NAACP racist.

the Tea Party Folks who posted a billboard in the small Iowa town that served as River City in the Music Man have pulled it down for fear of reprisals. It likened President Obama to Hitler and Lenin.

The anti-gay marriage group, NOM has started their summer tour of the states to rev up support for marriage. In Maine they drew 50 people, in Massachusetts another 50 and in Albany, New York a record 100. It's not going so well.

The great New Panther Party Voter intimidation pseudo-scandal, which has received round the clock coverage by Fox, was dealt a blow. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission, which is now rigged with conservatives, wants to study the "case" with an aim at attacking the Department of Justice. The case has one major flaw. There is no one claiming they were intimidated by the New Black Panthers at the polls. In fact, DOJ did prosecute one New Black Panther but on other grounds. Well, Abigail Thernstrom, a Bush appointee to the Commission, slammed her fellow conservatives as trying to use this case to "topple Eric Holder and President Obama if possible." She went on to say there was no merit to the accusations at all. The idea is to run this as the Willie Horton ad for 2012.

What's amusing in all this is that the man allowing this to become a Fox News special feature is Roger Ailes. Only this week Glenn Beck called Roger Ailes a "hero of the civil rights movement". The sublime reason for this is that Roger Ailes booked Martin Luther King, jr. on the old Mike Douglas show. Other than that Ailes was a prominent figure in devising Richard Nixon's southern strategy, which oozed racism.

Speaking of Glenn Beck, who is morphing more frequently than John McCain, the great showman said that Jesus Christ conquered death and did not return with his resurrection to seek revenge on the Jews who killed him. Spoken like a real Mormon. Beck's theology doesn't come from Mel Gibson's pre-Vatican II Catholicism but an old strain of American evangelical thought that Jesus is really of the Nordic race. There was a school of thought still lingering on the mudflats that Jesus simply couldn't be Jewish and, according to American racial theories, he exhibited characteristics of the Nordic race. This reached it's high-tide in the early 1930s. It is embarrassing that a leader of the American evangelical movement Rev. Buchen embraced Hitler and advocated the world be run by global fascism. Beck's own Mormonism was actually encouraged in Hitler's Germany, when Jews were being exterminated and the Christian churches were shut down or silenced.

I have to channel some of this insanity. Since this stuff is so repulsive, I'm switching to our Chamber of Commerce, which despite its claims of representing small business advocates the policy positions of our top 19 corporations. Progressives immediately took the bait about the Chamber's new call to cut social security spending and no regulations. But they missed the visionary aspects of the new platform. The Chamber has publically called for the privatization of our highways , waterways and opening public lands to more timber cutting. This comes at a time when free-market Hong Kong has just adopted its first minimum wage bill. The Chamber has gone back to the late 19th century for its motivation.

I am reviving my paper organization--The Newark Whaling,Sealing and Holding Company. This company estabished in 1833 at the height of our dependence on whale oil had one ship and managed in its short history to capture one whale off the coast of Valapraiso, Chile. it wasgiven the whaling rights off the New Jersey coast but it's ship sank and the original company was financially ruined. I've decided to revive it again to launch a new career in the privatizing of our waterways. I first thought I would aim at the Los Angeles River, now paved with concrete, but instead decided to privatize the Delaware River in keeping with the company's state of origin. With a Republican governor in New Jersey and a likely one in Pennsylvania this year , the political climate in these two states lends itself to privatizing the river border between the two states. And in keeping with the Tea Party spirit, I will stand on the bow of a rowboat and wade ashore in Trenton in honor of George Washington. Hopefully, I can receive a government loan to finance this endeavor.

If that doesn't work, I seek political asylum with the Six Nations in upstate New York. The Haudenosaunee lacrosse team was denied entrance into the UK for a lacrosse tournament because they were travelling on Iroquois Nation passports. Hillary Clinton had to intervene to OK them leaving the states on the passports but British authorities denied them admission because after all they actually invented lacrosse. Also, they invented federalism and had a great influence on Benjamin Franklin and his attitudes on federalism. And also, they built the Brooklyn Bridge. But no dice. They couldn't play but they looked great in their jerseys and long hair. They shouldn't feel bad. Lacrosse great Oren Lyons, one of their spiritual leaders and advocate for Indian rights, was deprived for decades a place in our own Lacrosse Hall of Fame, which had been exclusively for white players. Finally, they had to let him in because they were ashamed that the Hall would not include one of the greatest players of all time and someone from the people who invented the sport.

Zbig says that we are all suffering from an Obama malaise--and he should know about malaises since the Carter days. Bloomberg's poll reports that Obama is crashing wildly--at 52% approval rate; Gallup has been the same for about six months; and other polls show a 9 month plateau.
Charles Krauthammer warns conservatives they are seriously underestimating Obama. Charles, I thought you said he was the next Carter.

Anyway, Mr. Godwin will be sworn in to replace Harry Byrd on Tuesday and an hour later Harry Reid plans to call another vote on extending unemployment insurance. And we will see. Elena Kagan , Gallup tells us, has the lowest approval rate of someone about to be approved since they have been polling this odd question. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions claims that he may filibuster. This would then put Elena Kagan in the elite company with Abe Fortas, the only other Supreme Court nominee every filibustered, in the history of the United States. I doubt whether it will happen.

But that's the type of thing that happens when Obama goes on vacation. Phew, I noticed his plan has left Bar Harbor. Maybe we have averted a national disaster.