Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Last Call

Why is Evan Bayh pandering so hard to the Teabaggers and against the Dems when A) he still has 9 months to go in office as the son of Indiana's most famous politician (making him the definition of insider and incumbent) and B) the Bayhs are die-hard Dems and have been for decades?

He absolutely denies running for another public office.  But he's clearly campaigning for one, and he's doing so as anything but a Democrat.  He's certainly not going to able to be a lobbyist after his tirade on MSNBC today denouncing special interests.  The second he does that, the Teabaggers will destroy him.

On the other hand, the Teabaggers already hate him and are salivating at replacing him with Dan Coates.  I don't see the win here.  The people of Indiana aren't going to reward him for this.  Nationally the Republicans will never trust him and he's burned his bridges with the Dems.

What play does he have quitting now, in this manner, other than throwing a hissy fit?

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

What's your solution to the following growing problem in America?
In this time of double-digit unemployment and shrinking benefits for those who do have jobs, courts are finding it more difficult to seat juries for trials running more than a day or two. And in extreme cases, reluctance has escalated into rebellion, experts say.

After three days of mounting insurrection, lawyers for both the deputy and the sergeant waived their right to a jury trial and left the verdict up to Dunn.

"We can't have a disgruntled jury," said attorney Gregory W. Smith, who represents Deputy Robert Lyznick in the lawsuit against his former supervisor. He called the panel "scary" and too volatile for either side to trust.

Money woes inflicted by the recession have spurred more hardship claims, especially by those called for long cases, say jury consultants and courtroom administrators. More than a quarter of all qualified jurors were released on hardship grounds last year, according to court statistics. And judges say they have seen more people request such dismissals in the last year.

"There's a lot of tension, a lot more stress people are dealing with these days," said Gloria Gomez, director of juror services for the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
There are two solutions I can immediately come up with:

One, the problem is jurors should be paid a fair wage.  Companies should pay employees on jury duty. Perhaps a fund can be set up to do this at each company, accompanied by a tax cut to companies that participate so that they can cover the fund.  That's just off the top of my head.

Two, the problem is trials require juries.  We can save county, state, and federal dollars by doing away with jury trials altogether.  Trials should be heard by a panel of judges, like the Supreme Court.  These judges can be elected or appointed depending on law.  They should not serve lifetime appointments, however.  That's also just off the top of my head.

So which solution is more effective?  Which is more radical?  The most important trials in America are not decided by a trial of a person's peers, but by the nine Justices of the Supreme Court.  On the other hand, trial rights are spelled out in the Bill of Rights, specifically the Sixth Amendment.  On the gripping hand, the Sixth Amendment doesn't apply to misdemeanors and petty crimes at all.

Solution one is definitely the one I'd classify as the "liberal" solution.  Two the "conservative" one.

Which one would you choose?

Happiness Officer Needs To Be Fired

Taking a look at Gallup's recent Well-Being Index out this week, it has bad news for a certain North Carolina congressman name of The Odious Patrick McHenry.

Rating North Carolina's various small, medium, and large metro areas, keep in mind that Raleigh came in first with one of the best scores in the country for a large metro area.

Raleigh/Cary                 68.6
Durham                       68.0
Wilmington                   67.2
Charlotte/Gastonia/Concord   66.6
Asheville                    66.2
Greensboro/High Point        65.2
Winston-Salem                64.1
Fayetteville                 64.0
Hickory/Lenoir/Morganton     62.5

You think Patrick's in a bit of trouble considering he's the Congressman from the unhappiest place in North Carolina?  Keep in mind that the score for Hickory is less than Las Vegas or New Orleans and only a couple of places above the foreclosure and unemployment capital of America (Modesto, California) and you begin to see why Patrick's gaining some serious primary challengers...both of which have already beaten him soundly in fundraising.

The bad news is both Scott Keadle and Vance Patterson are Teabagger nutjobs that make McHenry look sane.  The good news is that may possibly be even too much for the folks of the Unifour to handle.

Maybe.  After all, my hometown is pretty damn unhappy.

The Hatred Of The Other

The one unifying thing that ties together everyone in David Barstow's NY Times profile of the Tea Party movement is that everyone in it is driven by hatred and fear of the Other.  It's a long article but worth the time it takes to read it, if only to arm yourself with the knowledge of what is out there.
The ebbs and flows of the Tea Party ferment are hardly uniform. It is an amorphous, factionalized uprising with no clear leadership and no centralized structure. Not everyone flocking to the Tea Party movement is worried about dictatorship. Some have a basic aversion to big government, or Mr. Obama, or progressives in general. What’s more, some Tea Party groups are essentially appendages of the local Republican Party.

But most are not. They are frequently led by political neophytes who prize independence and tell strikingly similar stories of having been awakened by the recession. Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.

That is often the point when Tea Party supporters say they began listening to Glenn Beck. With his guidance, they explored the Federalist Papers, exposés on the Federal Reserve, the work of Ayn Rand and George Orwell. Some went to constitutional seminars. Online, they discovered radical critiques of Washington on Web sites like ResistNet.com (“Home of the Patriotic Resistance”) and Infowars.com (“Because there is a war on for your mind.”).

Many describe emerging from their research as if reborn to a new reality. Some have gone so far as to stock up on ammunition, gold and survival food in anticipation of the worst. For others, though, transformation seems to amount to trying on a new ideological outfit — embracing the rhetoric and buying the books.
"Whom to blame" is of course Obama.  Blaming the banks, the Republicans, the multi-trillion dollar wars, the defense contractors, the real causes of our problems...well, that would be cause for inner reflection at how the American people were duped and cheated.  Nobody likes to admit they were played for fools bu Bush and company.

It's much easier to blame the black guy for destroying the country.  It becomes even easier when the Right Wing Noise Machine is on-call 24 hours a day to justify the hatred for Obama, too.  It's been so bloody effective that we have people seriously contemplating the next US Civil War.

They want to be on the "winning side" now, you see.  In 2010, a black man is President.  The backlash from that couldn't have been timed any better for the Republican party to ride that wave of hate.  And these guys will be with us for a very, very long time.

Be Careful What You Wish For

You just might get it, as both the Republicans and the health insurance industry is finding out.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today the proposed insurance rate hikes from Anthem Blue Cross in California that we've been writing about will serve as a backdrop for President Obama's health care summit next week.

Gibbs struck an ominous tone, suggesting that if reform doesn't pass now, there are more increases to come. It's an issue the Democrats seized on recently as they attempt to push a final measure over the goal line.

"People are getting letters in the mail now. They got them in California. Your health insurance is going to go up almost 40 percent from last year to this year. That's a preview of what's going to happen if we don't do anything," Gibbs said.

Gibbs also reacted to Anthem parent company Well Point's justification for the hikes - that reform is necessary.
"Well, I would say to this insurer, welcome to the game. Come down and help us -- help be part of the solution for cutting costs and increasing coverage," Gibbs said.

Republicans have not yet accepted the invitation and have said that the White House should start from scratch with a clean sheet of paper. Gibbs mocked the party for not immediately accepting a meeting they called for.

"Right before the president issued the invitation, the -- the thing that each of these individuals was hoping for most was an opportunity to sit down on television and discuss and engage on these issues. Now, not accepting an invitation to do what they'd asked the president to do, if they decide not to, I'll let them leap the -- leap the chasm there and try to explain why they're now opposed to what they said they wanted most to do," he said.
Wellpoint/Anthem's national rate hikes and the GOP balking on the health care summit was just the prescription the doctor ordered.  Suddenly the White House has a much easier time of selling "Doing something is better than nothing" because in this case, doing nothing equals 40% insurance rate hikes on self-insured with the promise of more rate hikes whenever Wellpoint/Anthem feels like doing it.  It's just a matter of time before they decide to raise rates on those who have insurance through their employers.

No wonder FOX Business Channel threw a fit attacking Anthem...not for the rate hikes, but for stupidly doing the rate hikes before the Republicans could kill Obamacare for good.  Oops.  Somebody should tell FOX Business that complaining that insurance companies should delay massive rate hikes until next year after health care reform is dead is an even worse faux pas.

Suddenly it's looking like health care reform has a new set of lungs...and those new lungs could be the public option making a comeback.
Four senators have signed a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to pass a public option for insurance coverage through the use of reconciliation.

The list of signatories includes both usual and somewhat unusual suspects, from the progressive wing of the party -- Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) -- to less ideological lawmakers who find themselves in primary election contests -- Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).
Time to get serious, guys.  Pass the damn bill!

The Moneyed Class

The reality of why we don't have a health care bill yet?  2009 saw nearly $3.5 billion spent by lobbyists on 535 members of Congress.
As the Center for Responsive Politics reported last week, federal lobbying soared to record levels last year, as lawmakers clocked long hours and worked at a pace to be, in the opinion of one congressional scholar, the most productive Congress in decades.

This translates to about $1.3 million spent on lobbying for every hour that Congress was in session in 2009, the Center for Responsive Politics has found.

Lawmakers in both chambers met for a total of 2,668 hours, according congressional records. The U.S. Senate was open for business on 191 days, while the U.S. House convened on 159 days.

Federal lobbying records show clients spent $3.47 billion on lobbying Congress, the White House and other federal agencies.

Some clients -- such as the big-spending U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- also include dollars spent on grassroots lobbying efforts, and not just sums spent at the federal level. And lobbying expenditures are not only made when Congress is officially in session. 
The Big Pharma/Insurance lobbies alone spent more than half a billion dollars on Congress.  What did you spend on them?  I'm guessing less than that.  This is why insurance companies are allowed to profit off of health care.

Attention Republican Incumbents Running In 2010

You're in just as much trouble as the Dems are...even more so with your party ID problem.
Only a third of U.S. voters think that most members of Congress deserve to be re-elected this year, according to a new national poll. That's the lowest number ever recorded for that question in a CNN survey.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, released Tuesday, indicates that only 34 percent feel that current federal lawmakers deserve re-election, with 63 percent saying no.

According to the survey, 51 percent feel their member of Congress should be re-elected - also an all-time low in CNN polling - while 44 percent say their representative doesn't deserve to be returned to office in November.

The numbers on both questions are even lower than in 1994, when an anti-incumbent fever helped Republicans win back control of both the House and the Senate from Democrats. The trend line on those questions goes back to 1991, when they were first asked.

"This is not a good year to be an incumbent, regardless of which party you belong to," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Voters seem equally angry at both Republicans and Democrats this year." 
Check that number again...your average incumbent is polling at 51% right now.

All you House Republicans that spent the last year voting no on everything?  What makes you think you're going to get to keep your job?  There are in some cases 3 or 4 primary challengers for incumbent Republicans in the House attacking from the political right.  I think the Dems are going to do much better than expected in November.

Bye Bayh Blackbird, Part 4

Take the money and not run, our Evan.  His $13 million war chest?  His to decide what to do with.
There's been some talk that Bayh might run for president, so maybe he'll hang onto the money for a campaign in 2012 or 2016.

And then there's the future of his seat -- Bayh was expected to win reelection this year, but face one of the toughest campaigns of his political life to do it. With him out, most professional prognosticators have said the seat is more likely to be a GOP pickup in November, meaning that any Democratic nominee will need all the money he or she can get. A $13 million cash infusion to the Indiana Democratic Party could give the Senate nominee a needed boost.

As Politico reported last night, national Democrats are already salivating over the thought of getting some of the money donors gave Bayh so he could run for Senate. The DSCC wouldn't comment to Politico officially about the money but a "strategist close to the situation" urged Bayh to do the right thing for the committee.

"Bayh's $13 million would certainly be useful to other Democratic candidates who face a strong headwind this November," the strategist told the paper. 
What he does with the money will indicate what he plans for 2012, yes?   Any Hoosier readers actually donate to this jagoff?


Bob Cesca nails it.
What the hell is this? What do they stand for? Last night, Rachel Maddow described the Republicans as not caring about policy. That's putting it nicely. They're a party that only stands for the opposite of what the Democrats stand for. No wonder Republican voters are so insane right now.
Agreed.  If the Dems are for it, then it becomes the new tyrannical diktat from the Kenyan Socialist Overlord.  The Dems' strategy is now "make the Republicans turn against every idea they liked six weeks ago."

And it's working.

Scrapyard Scrum

Folks, health care reform just suffered a heart attack.
In a brutal assessment of the Democratically authored healthcare reform bills pending in Congress and the governing party's approach to the issue, more than half of the respondents to a new Zogby International-University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston poll said that lawmakers should start from scratch.

Of the more than 2,500 people surveyed from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, 57 percent agreed with a statement that Congress should start over -- which is exactly what Republicans are demanding and what President Barack Obama insists he will not do.

Moreover, 56.4 percent of people indicated they would prefer Congress to tackle healthcare reform on a step-by-step basis, not take the comprehensive approach as embodied in the legislation that passed the House and Senate last year but has stalled for the past month.
Now granted, that was from two weeks ago and that was before the summit was announced.  I don't think it will matter much at this point.  Republicans will be all over this.  This would explain the "new health care plan" the White House has been hinting at for next week's summit.

On the other hand, it gives the GOP all the cover they need to refuse to do anything at the summit other than repeat the result of this poll as loudly as possible.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Evan is a naughty boy.
"If I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months."

-- Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), in an interview with NBC News, giving one more gift to Republicans.

The Littlest Dick Tater

Scott Horton calls out Dick Cheney last Sunday saying "I was a big supporter of waterboarding."
“I was a big supporter of waterboarding,” Cheney said in an appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. He went on to explain that Justice Department lawyers had been instructed to write legal opinions to cover the use of this and other torture techniques after the White House had settled on them.

Section 2340A of the federal criminal code makes it an offense to torture or to conspire to torture. Violators are subject to jail terms or to death in appropriate cases, as where death results from the application of torture techniques. Prosecutors have argued that a criminal investigation into torture undertaken with the direction of the Bush White House would raise complex legal issues, and proof would be difficult. But what about cases in which an instigator openly and notoriously brags about his role in torture? Cheney told Jonathan Karl that he used his position within the National Security Council to advocate for the use of waterboarding and other torture techniques. Former CIA agent John Kiriakou and others have confirmed that when waterboarding was administered, it was only after receiving NSC clearance. Hence, Cheney was not speaking hypothetically but admitting his involvement in the process that led to decisions to waterboard in at least three cases.

What prosecutor can look away when a perpetrator mocks the law itself and revels in his role in violating it? Such cases cry out for prosecution. Dick Cheney wants to be prosecuted. And prosecutors should give him what he wants.
He has a point.  Paging Eric Holder:  we have an admitted war criminal on our hands here.  He is taunting you on national television.  Time to do something, or throw in the towel.

Bachmann Liar Overdrive

Now Bacmanniac is claiming Bush only racked up $400 billion in debt in 8 years.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) headlined an event on Friday for the North Dakota Republican Party, and lambasted President Obama for what she saw as his historically terrible handling of the nation's finances. The only problem, however, was that her pronouncements didn't bear much resemblance to reality.

Bachmann argued that "there is no moral equivalency" between the admitted over-spending of the Bush administration compared to the Obama presidency. "Because if you look at the debt level accumulated under George W. Bush, 400 some-odd billion dollars, President Obama in his first year in office accumulated $1.4 trillion, over four times more than that big spending George Bush -- and that was after 911 and the recessions and all that he had to deal with and the two wars. Over four times," said Bachmann.

"As a matter of fact, President Obama spent so much money that if you took all the debt that we accumulated from George Washington, every president up until Barack Obama, President Obama accumulated more debt in eight months than all previous presidents combined. Combined. That gives you context for the times we're living in."
She's lying.  If she's saying that the final year of the Bush administration, she's lying.  If she's talking about the entire 8 years, she's lying and high.

And nobody in the Village press will call her on this.  I will.  She's a liar.

Hoosier Candidate Now?

Well now.  Seems Tamyra d'Ippolito now says she has enough signatures to run for Evan Bayh's seat.
That until-now little known, minor candidate in the Indiana Democratic senate primary, Tamyra d'Ippolito, just told our Eric Kleefeld that she now has the requisite number of signatures to get on the primary ballot.
Bear in mind, the deadline for filing the signatures is today. So if d'Ippolito has the signatures and as long as too many of them aren't thrown out (a real question), that would leave her as the only name on the ballot in the Democratic primary, effectively making her the Democratic nominee. Holding this seat this year is going to be a serious challenge regardless of who they field. But observers don't seem to think d'Ippolito would have a shot even in the best of years.
Another remaining question is what role if any Republicans may have played helping her get those signatures lined up on 18 hours notice
That last one there is very interesting.  The Republicans seem to think Tamyra has no chance of beating Dan Coates and want her to run.  Naturally the Republicans and their Winger noise machine buddies are screaming that rule of law says Tamyra has to be the candidate.  And not even Josh is giving her much of a chance.

I see an opportunity here, folks.  A big one.

I wouldn't write off Tamyra just yet.  On the other hand, the basic observation around is that she's a bit of an oddball.  And that's putting it nicely.

Question is, is she better than Dan Coates?

[UPDATE 11:10 AM] Never mind...it seems that Tamyra d'Ippolito is retracting her statement on having the signatures and is grumbling about the "Indiana machine" telling her to step down...and she's blaming Rachel Maddow.

This is starting to get really, really weird.  On second thought, she may not be better than Dan Coates.

Shopping Mauled

The two largest US commercial real estate mall developers are merging.
 Simon Property Group made what it called a $10 billion offer for General Growth Properties that would end one of the largest U.S. bankruptcies on record and combine the two largest U.S. shopping mall owners. 
You all remember GGP, right?
General Growth declared bankruptcy in April with 158 of its 200-plus malls after trying for months to refinance its debt. It listed total assets of $29.56 billion and total debt of $27.29 billion. 

The Chicago-based company, the second-largest U.S. mall owner, owns such valuable properties as South Street Seaport in New York and Fashion Show in Las Vegas. 

Indianapolis-based Simon owns or has an interest in 382 properties comprising 261 million square feet of leasable space in North America, Europe and Asia. These include such well-trafficked malls as Roosevelt Field on New York's Long Island and Sawgrass Mills Circle near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 
This would put nearly 500 malls under Simon worldwide.  How's that for healthy competition in the free market?

Pass The Damn Bill, Part 4

Chris Bowers is worried that the Dems will lose Congress in 2010.  Completely.  GOP control of both the House and Senate.
Even before Evan Bayh's retirement, the latest Senate polling showed Democrats teetering between only a 52-48 and 53-47 Senate majority after 2010.   With Bayh's retirement, Democrats are now firmly staring at a 52-48 majority.

But, it could get even worse than that for Democrats.  Potential Republican Senate recruits in a number of states could even threaten Democratic control of the chamber:
  1. Maryland: If incumbent Barbara Mikulski retires, as a new report is claiming, that would create an open seat in Maryland.  Democrats would still be favored to win, but by no means would they be a lock.  Mikulski, by contrast, would not have faced any serious opposition.
  2. New York: If former Republican Governor George Pataki were to enter the campaign, he would start 3.5% ahead of Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, according to the Pollster.com trendline.
  3. Washington: If two-time Gubenatorial loser Dino Rossi were to enter the campaign against Patty Murray, he would start the campaign 2% ahead, according to Rasmussen polling.
  4. Wisconsin: If former Republican Tommy Thompson were to enter the campaign, he would start in a dead-heat with Democrat Russ Feingold.  Feingold is currently well-clear of all other Republican candidates.
If Republicans can indeed put up to four more Senate seats into play, they would indeed threaten control of the chamber itself.  They have plenty of time to put this together, too, as all four of these states have filing deadlines in June or later.
Chris.  Bro.  Calm the hell down.  It's February.  You've already given away eight of ten Dem Senate seats as a done deal already and are predicting another four could fall.  There's time to correct this still.

The best thing the Dems can do right now is do what even Republicans are eager to see:  pass a health care bill that includes a public option through reconciliation.  Obama has the GOP on its heels right now from this HCR summit and can really lever the crack open wide if he plays it smart.   He's going to have to.  But in the end it's Congress who has to make the decisions here.

If Congress blows health care reform now, do you think Democratic voters are going to reward them?  Do you think Republican voters will?

Pass.  The Damn.  Bill.

Obama Goes Nuclear

Nuclear power, that is.  I got your green jobs right here, lady...
The Obama administration, advancing nuclear power use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, will announce Tuesday an $8.3 billion loan guarantee to help Southern build two reactors, a government official told Reuters.

The reactors are in line to be among the first nuclear generating facilities to win U.S. government approval in three decades.

The official said Monday that President Barack Obama would announce the loan guarantee after he tours a jobs training center in Lanham, Maryland, where he will discuss new government investments to create energy jobs and develop a low carbon economy.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu will travel with the president when he makes the announcement, said the official, who was familiar with the loan guarantee deal for Southern but did not want to be identified.

Obama, a Democrat, has tried to reach out to Republicans who are skeptical about aspects of his proposed energy proposals by emphasizing the role of nuclear power in the country's future energy production.

The $8.3 billion loan guarantee would commit the federal government to paying a portion of the private loans Southern would take out for the project in case the company defaulted on those loans.
Really?  $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for new nuke plants?   Meanwhile, China is kicking our ass in wind turbine and solar panel production. And we're investing in more nuke plants...plants that won't be online for another decade, easy.

By the time these plants are online and generating power, China and Europe will have cornered the world market on wind and solar.  We can just buy from them.  We don't do enough of that already, apparently.  I suppose Vice President Bachmanniac will be addressing that in her 2020 campaign run.


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