Sunday, September 19, 2010

Last Call

The Donks on offense?

Believe it.

President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a national advertising campaign that would cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.

That is among a range of options and plans under consideration at the White House for energizing dispirited Democratic voters over the coming six weeks, in hopes of limiting the party’s losses and keeping control of the House and Senate. Democratic strategists are seeing new openings to exploit after a string of Tea Party successes split Republicans and culminated last week with developments that scrambled Senate races in Delaware and Alaska.

“We need to get out the message that it’s now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party because the people who have taken over the party are radical,” said one Democratic strategist who has spoken with White House advisers but requested anonymity to discuss private strategy talks. 

Better hope it works.  It did in 2008, although much of that was major missteps on the part of both McCain and Palin.  In some way the Village has finally decided enough is enough with these Tea Party folks.  The real fight's on now.  Six weeks to decide, all while the country is plunging down the elevator shaft.

I don't know if Obama will be able to stop our fall before we crash.  I do know however that the Republicans won't bother to try.

Big Dog Pees All Over The Oval Office Rug

You know, right now the Village has finally, finally noticed that the batshit insane wing of the GOP is now fully in command of the Republican party, and suddenly the Democrats don't look so bad by comparison, that the astroturfing efforts are led by fanatics like Sal Russo.

Mr. Russo’s group, based in California, is now the single biggest independent supporter of Tea Party candidates, raising more than $5.2 million in donations since January 2009, according to federal records. But at least $3 million of that total has since been paid to Mr. Russo’s political consulting firm or to one controlled by his wife, according to federal records.

While most of that money passed through the firms to cover advertising and other expenses, that kind of self-dealing raises red flags about possible lax oversight and excessive fees for the firms, campaign finance experts said.

“They are the classic top-down organization run by G.O.P. consultants, and it is the antithesis of what the Tea Party movement is about,” said Mark Meckler, a national spokesman for Tea Party Patriots, a coalition of grass-roots organizations that does not endorse or contribute to candidates.

Mr. Russo’s group is also under attack from Republican Party leaders in Delaware, who have accused the Tea Party Express of improperly collaborating with Ms. O’Donnell’s campaign. Federal laws allow political action committees to support candidates independently, but they are not permitted to coordinate their spending with campaigns.

Mr. Russo dismisses all the criticism, saying he and his group have done nothing wrong. The Delaware party leaders are simply poor losers, he says, and his Tea Party critics are envious of his success.

“We are totally dependent on our donors,” Mr. Russo said in an interview. “We can’t do anything unless they support what we do.” He refers to some Tea Party activists who fault him over his political résumé as “nuts and crackpots.” 

And going after the Tea Party right now is the smart thing to do.  So what does a super smart political operator like Bill Clinton do?

He goes after Obama, of course.

Former president Bill Clinton, a champion of healthcare reform, admitted on Sunday that he made the wrong prediction about the popularity of President Obama’s healthcare bill.

Initially, Clinton had predicted that the polls in favor of Democrats would be boosted as soon as the legislation was signed into law. Instead, Clinton said on NBC’s "Meet the Press," his prediction was wrong for two reasons.

"First of all, the benefits of the bill are spread out of three or four years. It takes a long time to implement. And secondly, there has been an enormous and highly effective attack on it,” he said. 

Insert knife, quarter turn clockwise.  But Clinton's totally not trying to sabotage Obama ahead of a possible 2012 Hillary run.  People keep telling me there's no way Bill Clinton would do that.


Let Them Eat Snow

Meanwhile, Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller is too busy ranting about how federal unemployment benefits are unconstitutional because they aren't spelled out specifically in the Constitution.

Won't it be great having Republicans like Joe Miller in charge again of spending, folks? But remember, we didn't get single payer, so we have to punish the Democrats.

Meanwhile, President Mike Pence will be awesome in 2012...

Republicans must focus on both fiscal and social issues in their effort to win back Congress this year and the White House in 2012, Indiana Rep. Mike Pence told a ballroom of conservative activists Friday.

"Those who would have us ignore the battle being fought over life, marriage and religious liberty have forgotten the lessons of history," Pence said at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit. "America's darkest moments have come when economic arguments trumped moral principles."

These are the same Republicans who want to cut off Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment benefits because they're morally wrong or something.  But Obama's had 20 whole months to fix the economic problems of the last 30 years.  Let's put the GOP back in charge!

One Last Binge

A little deep in the weeds here, but via Yves Smith we learn that the reduction of consumer debt since the Great Recession started isn't because of people paying off their's because they are getting cut off and going bankrupt instead.

The sharp decline in U.S. household debt over the past couple years has conjured up images of people across the country tightening their belts in order to pay down their mortgages and credit-card balances. A closer look, though, suggests a different picture: Some are defaulting, while the rest aren’t making much of a dent in their debts at all.
First, consider household debt. Over the two years ending June 2010, the total value of home-mortgage debt and consumer credit outstanding has fallen by about $610 billion, to $12.6 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve. That’s an annualized decline of about 2.3%, which is pretty impressive given the fact that such debts grew at an annualized rate in excess of 10% over the previous decade.
There are two ways, though, that the debts can decline: People can pay off existing loans, or they can renege on the loans, forcing the lender to charge them off. As it happens, the latter accounted for almost all the decline. Over the two years ending June 2010, banks and other lenders charged off a total of about $588 billion in mortgage and consumer loans, according to data from the Fed and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
That means consumers managed to shave off only $22 billion in debt through the kind of belt-tightening we typically envision. In other words, in the absence of defaults, they would have achieved an annualized decline of only 0.08%.
Bottom line: nearly all the decrease in consumer debt is banks writing off bad loans that didn't get paid back.  Millions of Americans are having to burn out every last dime on their credit cards to make ends meet with declining wages and an increase in basic cost of living.  What we're seeing now is the "snapback" effect:  banks are writing off these loans, consumers are taking massive credit score hits, and they're out of the game.

As more and more Americans lose their credit due to banks tightening up, there will be a massive drop in consumption and fact it's already under way.  The consumer engine that drives our economy is locking up.  The results?  Nasty.

The only thing keeping our economy going right now is ramping up debt.  When that breaks down, the whole thing is going to go.  And when it does, it's going to take our standard of living with it.

Oil's Well That Doesn't End Well For This Oil Well, The End

The Deepwater Horizon oil well is officially sealed and dead, five months to the day after the entire mess began.

BP's blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico has finally been killed once and for all, five months after an explosion sank a drilling rig and led to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's point man on the disaster, said Sunday BP's well "is effectively dead."

Sure, except for the tens of millions of gallons of oil still in the Gulf that it will take years if not decades for the ecosystem to recover from.

We'll be fine until the next oil accident happens. After five months have we learned anything?

We've learned just how easily the energy industry controls the GOP, and how easily the Obama administration slips into Bushian lies in order to cover up the true extent of the damage.

We've learned how truly rotten BP is as a corporation. It is just one of several energy giants who are soulless monsters.

Most of all we've learned how impossible it is to ever get climate legislation passed through Congress, and that our grandchildren will probably never forgive us for what we will continue to do to their planet right up to the point where we collapse the environment so badly that we wreck the place for good.

Oil's well that ends well, indeed.

They're The Bad Guys

Christine O'Donnell is taking Contempt For The Village lessons from Sarah Palin, absolutely.  She's blown off two Sunday show appearances, presumably because they might ask her real questions instead of FOX...except one of the appearances was on FOX News Sunday.

Tea party favorite Christine O'Donnell, whose Republican primary upset in Delaware's Senate race shocked the GOP, canceled appearances Sunday on two national news shows.

O'Donnell had been set to appear on "Face the Nation" on CBS and "Fox News Sunday."

Campaign spokeswoman Diana Banister cited scheduling conflicts and said O'Donnell needed to return to Delaware for commitments to church events and afternoon picnic with Republicans in a key county where she has solid backing.

"Tomorrow the priorities are back in Delaware," Banister said. "Those are people who supported her, who were very helpful to her in the campaign, and she feels obligated to be there and thank them."

Banister said she was unaware of the previous commitments when she booked O'Donnell for the shows. She said she canceled with Fox News late Friday and with CBS early Saturday.

"We felt really bad," she said, adding the campaign apologized profusely for canceling at the last minute.

Banister said O'Donnell would be pleased to appear on any Sunday news shows in the future.

Yeah, sure she will.  The woman's not anywhere close to being ready for prime-time.  She's not even close to being ready for FOX News softball interviews at this point.  She's a raving lunatic, and she has zero defense for her whackjob statements over the last several years as an anti-masturbation, anti-feminist, Christian Dominionist nutcase.

The less national exposure she gets, the less chance of saying something completely stupid that will ensure Chris Coons buries her even in this climate toxic to Democrats.

Make no mistake, she's going back to the drawing board to get her message straight.  She only has six weeks to try to deny she said any of the crazy stuff she said over the last ten years.

Happy International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

You scurvy bilge rat!
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