Saturday, May 22, 2010

Last Call

Via Bob Cesca, this right here is why "accidents happen" glibertarian bullshit sucks.
Desperation is setting in in Southeast Louisiana. "I spoke to a group of fishermen, mainly Vietnamese Americans and a group of them came up to me and said, they told me that they contemplated suicide because they're in such despair," says Congressman Joseph Cao. He says fishermen are feeling compounded stress on top of post-Katrina troubles. "For some people, this is almost a boiling point where they can no longer handle it and they're going to crack."

"These are grown men that broke down and cried this morning because they don't know what to do and we don't know how long it's going to be," says Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.

That's why Cao and organizations like Volunteers of America are working to get mental health workers on the ground to intervene. "They've just recovered as a result of their businesses, their homes and the rebuilding effort and now you have a number of these small businesses, these fishermen, who have to go through this all over again," says Voris Vigee with the Volunteers of America. She says organizations are expediting crisis and mental health counseling among other disaster-related services.

But Voris is confident people will survive this disaster. "I think that those folks are going to thrive even beyond today, tomorrow and beyond the months to come," she says. That's because we've done it before.
Yeah, real nice, guys.  I know, they should just quit whining, go to MBA school and get a job at Goldman Sachs, right?  Accidents happen!

Drawing Conclusions

Jon Chait hits the nail on the head here based on this WaPo story that corporate donations are going to the Republicans.  The theory is that "the smart money" is on the GOP retaking control of Congress in 2010, judging by the corporate PACs.

Chait draws the more correct conclusion.
Huh. "Industry-friendly"? The article puzzles over the fact that the drug industry has been strongly favoring the GOP despite its support for a law Democrats enacted. It's really not much of a mystery. The industry gives to Republicans because they agree with Republicans and realize that republicans will do more to advance their interests. But they realize that they can't keep Democrats out of power all the time, and they need to mitigate the damage Democrats do to them when the Democrats are in power. They're giving money to Republicans to support pro-industry policies, and they're giving to Democrats to minimize anti-industry policies. Of course this doesn't exactly reflect well on Congressional Democrats. But nobody involved buys the idea, peddled by some conservative journalists, that it's really the Democrats who are on the side of big business.
They're giving to the GOP because they want the GOP to win and to give them more trillion dollar handouts like Bush's tax cuts and Medicare drug benefit.  It doesn't matter if they think the GOP is going to win or not.  But they're getting started now in order to fulfill a self-fulfilling prophecy, and hey, the Citizens United decision made it so very easy for corporate money to buy a candidate.

But hey, if you can throw unlimited money at Washington now, might as well buy the party that's going to make sure you can rape the environment, the treasury, and the workforce as much as you want...and that's the GOP, hands down.

Jaw-Jaw Is Better Than War-War, But Obama Wants Both

It's really disheartening to see Obama giving a speech to graduates at West Point talking up America's "new" diplomacy strategy while we're still stuck in the middle of two endless wars and trying to start a third one with either Pakistan or Iran, take your pick.  There are differences between Bush and Obama and Obama does need to get some credit for not making the situation too much worse, but the wars remain exactly the same:  unwinnable quagmires that we will be involved in for the rest our our lifetimes.
The contrasts between Mr. Bush’s address here in 2002 and Mr. Obama’s in 2010 underscored all the ways a wartime America has changed and all the ways it has not. This was the ninth class to graduate from West Point since hijacked passenger jets destroyed the World Trade Center and smashed into the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside. Most of those graduating on Saturday were 12 at the time.

When Mr. Bush addressed their predecessors, he had succeeded in toppling the Taliban government in Afghanistan and victory of sorts appeared at hand, even as he was turning his attention to a new front in Iraq. Forecasting a new generation of threats, Mr. Bush vowed not to stand by as they gathered. “If we wait for threats to fully materialize,” he said then, “we will have waited too long.”

As Mr. Obama took the stage on a mild, overcast day, the American war in Iraq was finally beginning to wind down as combat forces prepare to withdraw by August, but Afghanistan has flared out of control and tens of thousands of reinforcements are flowing there. Terrorists have made a fresh effort to strike on American soil as a new president tries to reformulate the nation’s approach to countering them.

“This war has changed over the last nine years, but it’s no less important than it was in those days after 9/11,” Mr. Obama said. Recalling his announcement here six months ago to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, he forecast difficult days ahead, but said, “I have no doubt that together with our Afghan and international partners, we will succeed in Afghanistan.”

Mr. Obama all but declared victory in Iraq, crediting the military but not Mr. Bush, who sent more troops in 2007. “A lesser Army might have seen its spirit broken,” Mr. Obama said. “But the American military is more resilient than that. Our troops adapted, they persisted, they partnered with coalition and Iraqi counterparts, and through their competence and creativity and courage, we are poised to end our combat mission in Iraq this summer.” 
And begin the occupation stage where we still keep tens of thousands of troops in country forever.  Afghanistan on the other hand is getting worse by the month.  The Marjah offensive failed miserably, Pakistan is still on the verge of collapse, Iran continues its course unabated, and oh yeah, we can't afford the trillions in war costs anymore.

It's not fair to say Obama has dropped the ball in just 16 months on these two wars.  We are drawing troops down in Iraq.  But Afghanistan will only get worse...and we'll never leave Baghdad unless we're forced to, let's be honest.

The new boss isn't the same as the old boss, but the problems in the Middle East and the wars we're stuck in certainly are.

Cuomo Makes His Move

It's been a while since we've visited the Gov. David Paterson/AG Andrew Cuomo story in New York, but today Andrew Cuomo made it official:  he's running as Paterson's replacement.
Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced his campaign for governor with a video released early Saturday morning, finally making official his entrance into the race for governor this fall.

Mr. Cuomo’s announcement comes only days before the state Democratic convention is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Rye Brook, N.Y., and follows months of private planning. Mr. Cuomo has no competition for the Democratic nomination and has been moving to assert control over the state party, and the 2010 ticket, for several months. Gov. David A. Paterson, a fellow Democrat, withdrew from the race in February. “I’m Andrew Cuomo, and I’ve always worked for you,” Mr. Cuomo said in his one-minute-47-second video. “Over my career, I’ve worked to help the homeless, students, consumers and the taxpayers who are outraged by Wall Street bonuses. I’ve worked for you, but now I need your help.” 
Democrats still don't have an assured victory here, Republican Rick Lazio will certainly run not against Cuomo himself, but current Dem Gov. Paterson and former Dem Gov. Elliot Spitzer.  If Lazio can make the race about corrupt Democrats in the Governor's mansion, he's got a real shot.  But considering Cuomo has a reputation for going after Democrats, and has in fact been the guy to prosecute matters against Spitzer, Paterson, and Wall Street...Lazio's going to have a really difficult time making that case.

Cuomo in other words is the perfect law and order candidate to keep New York blue...with the record to back it up.

Nice Of You Guys To Join Me

I warned last week that Obama's response to the BP oil spill was risking him being tarballed and feathered by the voters.  Nice to see other folks might believe I'm on to something here, even if it's James Carville...
Carville, the famously outspoken Louisianian who was a chief political aide to Bill and Hillary Clinton, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday that the administration's response to the spill has been "lackadaisical" and that Obama was "naive" to trust BP to manage the massive clean-up effort.

"I think they actually believe that BP has some kind of a good motivation here," he said. "They're naive! BP is trying to save money, save everything they can... They won't tell us anything, and oddly enough, the government seems to be going along with it! Somebody has got to, like shake them and say, 'These people don't wish you well! They're going to take you down!'"

Carville also accused the White House of going along with what he called the "let BP handle it" strategy.

"I'm as good a Democrat as most people, and I think this administration has done some good things. They are risking everything by this 'go along with BP' strategy they have that seems like, lackadaisical on this, and Doug is right, they seem like they're inconvenienced by this, this is some giant thing getting in their way and somehow or another, if you let BP handle it, it'll all go away. It's not going away. It's growing out there. It is a disaster of the first magnitude, and they've got to go to Plan B."
Plan B in this case is something better than "Let BP handle it."  Because they've clearly showed they can't, and every day they dick around puts another million plus gallons of crude in the Gulf.  We've seen Angry Obama, but that's not enough.  Strong action is now necessary, as in "save the Obama presidency" necessary.  But as vital as that is, it's Americans themselves who need to moderate their consumption behavior on energy.  Alternet's Scott Thill:
But this is what most junkies do, when the drugs start to wear off and run out: Keep tapping that vein. A new Associated Press/GfK poll on the spill released in mid-May supports that madness. While 42 percent of respondents felt that the Obama administration is properly prosecuting the spill, even more, 50 percent to be exact, are cool with further coastal drilling for oil and gas. In spite of all that has happened, they'd rather drill for what's left of our domestic oil supply than prepare, plan and proselytize for our inevitable post-oil future. Itinerant laziness is the true culprit in this spill. BP, MMS and other alphabet nightmares are monsters of our own consumptive creation.

"In the most general terms, I think the answer to drilling problems is better regulation and taxes to fund cleanup efforts," explained Mother Jones and Washington Monthly journalist Kevin Drum, who like Kunstler is a peak oil theorist. "Because the plain fact is that drilling is going to happen one way or another, as long as we're addicted to oil. And the answer to that is unrelated to drilling at all."

When it comes to killing addiction, the first stage is always acknowledging one. Optimistic estimations of peak oil theory explain that global supply will start dwindling in 2020, a clear-sighted metaphor if there ever was one. Even without factoring in the always reliable underestimation that leads to disasters like Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon, that's only a decade to get our heads and engines together. In other words, a light-speed snapshot of time compared to the insane workload.

"The administration needs to take this opportunity to explain the multiple hidden costs to our addiction to fossil fuels," argued Center for American Progress climate analyst Joseph Romm, the author of Straight Up: America's Fiercest Climate Blogger Takes on the Status Quo Media, Politicians, and Clean Energy Solutions. "As we're finding out with Goldman Sachs, you just can't let the industry regulate itself. But ultimately we have to get off the addiction. If the administration doesn't help us do that, it will be an incomprehensible missed opportunity."

"We need a serious carbon tax and serious climate legislation to reduce our reliance," said Drum. "I care a lot more about that than I do about the specific issues related to oil rig safety."
People keep asking who's to blame here.  BP,'s really us.  And until we admit that we consume too much energy here, more disasters like this are coming.

Specifically Not Feelin' Randy, Part 4

The Atlantic's Josh Green tries to find out why Rand Paul is doing so well in Kentucky and completely making an ass of himself in the other 49 states, and comes up with two reasons:  Rand's not ready for prime time, but neither is Kentucky's really lousy political journalism.
The first is that the Rand Paul who emerged post-election--questioning the Civil Rights Act, exonerating BP for the oil spill, and generally setting off grenades in the national media--is nothing like the Rand Paul who campaigned and won the Kentucky GOP primary. What Paul spoke about on the stump was mostly the size of the deficit, his desire for a balanced budget and term limits, and his belief that a lot of what Congress does has no basis in the Constitution. Paul's favorite example was health care, not civil rights. But the interesting thing to me, as I wrote on Monday, is that he took care to emphasize those parts of the Tea Party agenda that appeal (he claimed) to independents and moderates. There was no talk of race, civil rights, secession, birtherism and general Fox News lunacy. "The Tea Party is not about extremism," Paul said again and again. The impression in the broader media, including the liberal blogosphere, that Paul is an angry, unlikeable nut was not borne out by my experience on the campaign trail.

The second point, which gets directly to why Rand Paul is suddenly flailing, is that the local Kentucky media--in particular the newspapers, and especially the flagship Louisville Courier-Journal--has been decimated by job cuts, as has happened across the country. This came up several times in discussions with Kentucky politicos and local journalists. The reason it matters is that because there is no longer a healthy, aggressive press corps--and no David Yepson-type dean of political journalists--candidates don't run the same kind of gauntlet they once did. They're not challenged by journalists. And since voters aren't as well informed as they once were (many are "informed" in the sense of having strongly held views about all manner of things--they're just not "well informed"), they can't challenge the candidates either.

Thus, when Rand Paul appeared on "Maddow" and the other shows, I expect he was prepared to offer the same sermon I heard on the trail. Problem is, he was encountering an aggressive, experienced press corps that appropriately had its own agenda and was eager to challenge Paul to elaborate on his views.
In other words, Rand Paul got softballed by a Kentucky star chamber press all along, which is exactly what Yellow Dog's warning about this morning.
The Herald's playing catch-up to the Courier, which first exposed Paul's Bircher tendencies back in April. The Herald also has to make up for endorsing Paul in the republican primary, when the Courier called a pox on all repug houses.

Paul could be the acid test for Ryan Alessi's new cn\2politics, and as a veteran of small-town reporting I want to believe that someone at the Bowling Green Daily News is muckraking in hopes of making her career.

If Kentucky MSM fail, Media Czech and Jake will never let up.
The irony is the weak-ass Kentucky papers made no real effort to jump on Rand Paul during the primaries, meaning when he went national (you have balls if you're a Republican going on Rachel Maddow, I'll give Paul that much) he got blitzed by people who knew what they were doing.

The double irony is that I'm pretty sure that may actually make Paul more popular here in Kentucky unless Jack Conway's people get on the ball and fast.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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