Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Last Call

With most of the vote counted here tonight in the Bluegrass State, Rand Paul won walking away.
Rand Paul defeated Republican establishment favorite Trey Grayson in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, a closely watched race that was a key test of the tea party movement's strength.

Paul, the son of former presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, on Tuesday gave the tea party its first victory in a statewide election — one that could embolden the fledgling political movement in other states. With 31 percent of precincts reporting, Paul was leading with 65,702 votes, or 59 percent, to Grayson's 40,767 votes or 37 percent.

"It's just a tremendous mandate for the tea party," Paul said. "It cannot be overstated that people want something new; they don't want the same old, same old politicians and I think they think the system is broken and needs new blood."
That 59% number has held up all night so far.   But the real shocker is it looks like with 95% of the precincts reporting that Jack Conway may eke out a win, he's up by 7,500 votes, 45%-43% over Dan Mongiardo.  A Conway/Paul matchup would be outstanding...and the real story is Democrats turned out in greater numbers to vote than the Republicans did for this primary!

That's pretty heartening, as Kentucky still has a lot of registered Dems...but that means the independents out there like myself who were not eligible for the primaries aren't accounted for tonight except in non-partisan country races.

It's going to be real interesting this fall.  Both the establishment candidates lost (although Yellow Dog has a long-standing list of reasons why Conway's about as ConservaDem/Big Coal as they come).  But he's got to be better than Rand Paul...

Well, if Conway can hold on...

[UPDATE]  AP is calling it for Conway with 99% of the vote counted.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Lake Palin has officially drifted into the Gulf Loop Current.
Even as some government and BP officials downplay the extent of the growing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a terrible threshold has been crossed: the slick has been captured by the Loop Current, which draws water from the Gulf through the Florida Keys and into the Gulf Stream along the Atlantic coast. SkyTruth president John Amos, one of the first independent experts to warn the official estimates of the leak were radically too small, calls Monday’s satellite imagery “disturbing“:
Today’s MODIS / Terra satellite image is the most cloud-free we’ve seen in many days, and what it reveals is disturbing: part of the still-massive Gulf oil slick has apparently been entrained in the strong Loop Current, and is rapidly being transported to the southeast toward Florida. The total area covered by slick and sheen, at 10,170 square miles (26,341 km2), is nearly double what it appeared to be on the May 14 radar satellite image, and is bigger than the state of Maryland.
See the satellite image overlaid with a model of the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico:

Oil Slick Loop Current Overlay

And hey, tarballs are already washing up on the Florida coast.

This keeps getting better and better, folks.

And A Red Ryder BB Gun

Hey look, the Senate is trying to add all sorts of crap as amendments to the financial regulation bill before they quit for the year.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., wants the government to finish building the 700-mile fence between the U.S. and Mexico. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wants to end the health insurance industry's antitrust protection. West Virginia's two senators want help with mine and oil rig safety.

They all want to add these things to the financial regulatory overhaul bill that's moving through the Senate, even though their ideas have little or nothing to do with oversight of financial markets.

Senators have proposed 326 amendments to the bill, whose chief purpose is to revamp the system that's regulated financial institutions since the Great Depression, but failed to prevent the current deep recession.
The bill could be the last major legislation this Congress approves — and draw enormous media attention — before November's congressional elections. That's why it's attracting a lot of extraneous amendments.

"A lot of senators see this bill as a good forum, and they see the session winding down after this," said David Arkush, the director of Congress Watch, a watchdog group.

Before Zee Germans Get Here

So, Germany did what, exactly?
Germany will ban naked short-selling in shares of the country's 10 most important financial institutions as well as credit default swaps on euro government bonds, a Finance Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

The ban takes effect at midnight and will run through March 31 next year, the spokesman said.

In naked short selling, a trader sells a financial instrument short, betting that it will fall, without first borrowing the instrument or ensuring that it can be borrowed, as would be done in a conventional short sale.

Credit default swaps are a type of insurance against a borrower going bankrupt that have become a lucrative market for traders.

In announcing the ban, the German Finance Ministry cited the "extraordinary volatility" currently afflicting eurozone countries' debt certificates.
"Hey Zandar, can you translate that into English?"

Sure.  Germany just took the high-stakes roulette wheel out of the casino, the one where the traders were making the really, really big bucks betting that things would fail.  Since Germany no longer has the really shiny Big Money Wheel after midnight tonight, everybody's trying to cash out of Zee German Casino here in the next couple hours and take their money down the street to where the odds are better (and so is the buffet.)

Now, you don't do this kind of thing on an idle Tuesday unless Wednesday there's some really horrible, horrible news coming that would make everybody want to go berserk playing the Naked Short Selling Musical Chairs game.  In other words, Somebody Knows Something.  That Something is Bad.

Dow down over 100, Euro at $1.22 and falling. 
PS, America did this only after Lehman exploded, and we allowed naked shorting again after several months.  For Germany to just up and do this out of nowhere in the middle of the trading week is one of those things that makes traders real nervous.

The Adventures Of Moose Lady And Her Trusty Sidekick Moose Girl

You know what they say:  Like grifter, like daughter.
Bristol Palin is hitting the speakers' circuit and will command between $15,000 and $30,000 for each appearance, Palin family attorney Thomas Van Flein said Monday. [...]

He said he believes she's interested in expanding her message beyond teen pregnancy to include her experiences on the campaign trail and in the media spotlight; her parenting approach; and her outlook on life.
You know what?  Good for Bristol Palin.  I hope she fleeces Teapublicans even better than her mom does.  When you get opportunity, take it.  That's what America's all about, folks. I hope she makes a fortune off these idiots, moves out, gets her own place, her own agent, and gets a talk show.

I hope she makes a lifelong career of taking money from stupid people.  Lord knows anyone who thinks Bristol Palin has valuable life lessons to impart is so far down in the natural selection food chain they need to be relieved of money so that they don't reproduce as much.

She's vacuuming the bottom of the gene pool, frankly. There's a lot of spare change down there and that's a necessary function to boot.

Should Have Dropped Out Souder Rather Than Later

Big story dropping today that Indiana's third district Congressman, Rep. Mark Souder (R, of course) is resigning just two weeks after winning his primary because...he slept with a staffer!  Taegan Goddard:
Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) will announce his resignation "after it came to light that he was conducting an affair with a female staffer who worked in his district office," Fox News reports.

"Elected as a family values conservative as part of the Republican revolution in 1994, Souder survived a tough re-election challenge in 2008 and survived a contested primary two weeks ago." 
Oh man.  There are some pissed off people in the GOP today who are really wishing Souder has dropped this little bombshell about two weeks and change earlier.  Indiana rules allow Souder's nomination to be changed at the state's GOP convention a month from now, so it's not like the GOP will be without a candidate and handing this over to the Dems uncontested, but still it means the GOP has a hard road ahead here.

Another family values Republican shot down by his wang.  Same as it ever was.

Gold Rush, Part 9

With gold bouncing around $1,250 an ounce these days, Sears/Kmart is announcing a deal with consumer gold buyers to help customers sell gold items for cash.
The new service, available at the jewelry departments of Sears and Kmart stores, allows customers to send their gold and silver items to Pro Gold Network, a company that buys precious metals from consumers.

Pro Gold makes an offer on the gold or silver and the consumer can choose to accept the offer or have the items returned, free of charge, Sears said. 

Sears provides the shipping envelope and also helps consumers track the items via websites or a toll-free customer service number.
Smart move on Sears' part.  The opportunity cost of long-distance pawn shopping has dropped considerably with gold being this expensive, and there's little cost to Sears to do this and a lot to gain if customers then have cash to buy items at the store.

Just another sign of the times.  Gold may be the 24-karat star these days, but you can't buy lunch with it.

New Faces, New Problems

BooMan notes we'll see at least a dozen new faces next January in the Senate, and likely 15 or more.  That's the good news, the most dysfunctional Senate in ages is getting new blood.

The bad news is the new blood is almost certainly going to be far more dysfunctional.  Rand Paul and friends aren't exactly going to be looking for bipartisan solutions.  As a matter of fact, I'm very sure we're going to see a half-dozen GOP Senate freshmen who have one goal in mind:  to make sure no legislation at all passes between now and 2012 (2016 should Obama win a second term.)

And yes, this means repeated shutdowns of the federal government, nominations hung in limbo for months if not years, secret holds on everything, no unanimous consent, and utter chaos unless the Senate Dems are willing to change the rules of the next Senate in January.  They're going to have to ditch a lot of stuff in order to have any shot at getting anything done in the next two years and the GOP will howl.

But make no mistake, folks.  The Teabaggers are coming to "fix" Washington.  They're coming to dismantle it.

Meet Tim Crawford, Teabagger Democrat

Yeah, you heard that right folks.  The only person the Democrats could find to go up against Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana is a Democrat running so far to Burton's right that he makes Burton look sane.  Dave Weigel:
Burton's Democratic opponent, Tim Crawford, is a 29-year-old first-time candidate who, not to put too fine a point on it, hates the Democratic Party. His campaign site is thin on the issues, making clear only that he opposes Democrats' stances. We get more clarity from Facebook:
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There's very little attention being paid to primaries in competitive House districts Tuesday, but we should be on the lookout for candidates who sneak through their primaries despite being totally disconnected from their party's base -- a pretty clear sign of voter fatigue in that party.
Now I'll give Crawford credit for putting his money where his mouth is, he's not taking any campaign donations and is setting out to remake the Dems one House seat at a time.  Unfortunately he's trying to remake the Dems into the Teapublicans, and while I will refuse to dismiss him totally because Burton has been in office for 28 years now and no incumbent is safe in 2010, Crawford seems like he's probably not going to win, and if he does win, he might actually be a less reliable vote for Pelosi than Burton would be as a 28-year Republican.

Just goes to remind you not all the Teabaggers are Republicans, folks.

Oil's Well That Doesn't End Well For This Oil Well, Part 13

BP says it may be able to stop the massive underwater oil geyser by pumping mud into the blown wellhead later this week, but if that doesn't work, it will take until August to drill the relief well into the oil field and shut it down.  That could mean another three months of oil spewing into the Gulf at several millions of gallons of oil per day if the worst case estimates are true.

Perhaps stronger and more immediate measures are needed...

Of course blowing up the well would end the crisis, but it would put the oil off limits to BP for good, and gosh, they're not going to do that, you see.

To his credit, Tweety went nuts on BP yesterday, calling for Obama to nationalize offshore drilling and calling BP's negligence and cost-cutting a criminal act.

Maybe there's merit to both of these discussions.


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