Thursday, November 4, 2010

Last Call

Why is this news?

In the wake of Tuesday's shellacking, outgoing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, has been widely expected to step down as the Democratic leader and leave Congress.

Say what?   Yeah, because all Democrats go fetal position at a point like this.  Did John Boehner resign after he lost as Speaker in 2006?  No.  Hey, worked out for him, from what I understand.

Not so fast.

High-level Democratic sources in the House tell ABC News Pelosi is seriously considering staying in Congress and running for the position of minority leader.

Pelosi is methodically calling every Democratic House member who won on Tuesday, as well as many who lost, sources tell ABC News. In the process, she is weighing her options and gauging her support.

Some of Pelosi's closest allies are encouraging her to stay and to lead the Democratic effort to win back their majority. Those encouraging her are arguing, in part, that she can unify the progressives in the caucus, and more importantly, that nobody in the House can raise money for the next campaign better than Pelosi. 

Ask yourselves why that is.  Nancy Pelosi did her job, she got things through the House.  It was Harry Reid who botched things in the Senate.  He's the one who should be looking for a new position, not Pelosi.  You need a fighter right now, not a surrender monkey.

If Heath Shuler wants a piece of Nan, fire away.  He's just a catspaw for Steny Hoyer anyway, and I would take Nancy Pelosi in a heartbeat over him.

This is me, not retiring my Nancy Pelosi tag.

Jersey Offshore

Chris Christie is laying off another 1,200 New Jersey state employees.  We're supposed to celebrate him saving the state some $8.8 million in wages and benefits (a whole $6,700 per job cut!) because as we all know government employees never ever turn around and spend their wages from the government back into private sector industries like grocery stores, and they don't in turn pay taxes on those wages, either.

If you're trying to save $8.8 million dollars as a state and the only way you can see fit to do that is to take far more than $8.8 million out of your state's economy and then put those workers on state unemployment benefits, I'm going to have to say "you're doing it wrong."

I'm not saying that there no reason to ever lay off government employees.  I'm saying that this is the economic equivalent of cutting off your hand at the wrist because you broke your finger.

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 36

How has the election and the several states' attorneys general races affected the case against Foreclosuregate?  It's still very much go...unless you live across the river in Ohio, that is.

One instrumental voice, however, will be missing from the investigation’s executive committee, which includes 13 of the 50 participating attorneys general: Richard Cordray of Ohio, who narrowly lost his bid for re-election to Mike DeWine, a former United States senator.

Mr. DeWine, a Republican, declined to say Wednesday whether he would join the investigation when he takes office in January. “We will take a look at that,” he said in a telephone interview.

During the campaign, Mr. DeWine made other issues his priority, including problems with Ohio’s crime lab, corruption in Cleveland and the new health care law. “When I was out with regular people, shaking hands, very few people would talk specifically about the mortgage fraud issue,” Mr. DeWine said. 

Yeah, Mike DeWine there doesn't know anybody who's lost their homes to this mess.  It's not like Ohio has been ravaged by the housing market collapse or anything.  But to Ohio's new AG, it's no big deal.  He'd rather go after Cleveland Democrats than worry about potentially thousands of Ohioans who lost their homes.

Mr. Cordray, the losing Democrat, has successfully sued Wall Street for more than a billion dollars. He has suits pending against GMAC Mortgage, a major lender, and has challenged banks against papering over paperwork omissions and instead address the roots of the problem.

But his advocacy did not translate into a winning campaign issue, said David B. Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron.

“Cordray was really at the forefront of the whole foreclosure mess but the inattentive public, which makes up the majority in Ohio and the country in general, wasn’t listening,” Mr. Cohen said. “They were mad at the party in power.” 

And hey, Ohio voters basically turned the state blood red.   Somehow, I don't see anyone in the state's new power structure worrying too much about foreclosuregate when there's local political revenge to be sought for 2006.

Mooseferatu Lives

Although I've said before that I want Sarah Palin to run for 2012, and that I think she will out of ego, there are two prevailing counterarguments as to why Sarah Palin will not run in 2012:

1)  Obama would destroy her.

2)  It's hard for you to arbitrarily declare victory when you lose the election.

Palin endorsed 34 candidates for the House, only 15 of whom won Tuesday. In Senate races, just five of her 12 picks were victorious.

When you come up short of the coin flip, and there's ample evidence to support the notion that your picks actually cost the Republicans Senate seats they could have won with non-Tea Party candidates, you're not actually helping much.  But the fact of the matter is Sarah Palin is allowed to exist in her own little pocket universe, and unless the reality of an election comes crashing in on her, she'll remain there come hell or high water.  As long as she's safe in there, she's invincible.

Basically the odds of Sarah Palin running depends entirely believing that her pocket universe resembles reality itself.  The second she's convinced of her own press, she's throwing her hat in.  The odds of that happening seem to be increasing on a weekly basis.

What I am sure of is that she'll have to lose either a primary or Presidential bid for Mooseferatu here to be staked through the heart.  The downside to that is a Palin victory will pretty much destroy the slightly damp and burnt post-apocalyptic mess of America's future with hourly carpet bombing runs.

It may be a risk worth taking still.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

Yippie kai-yai yippie kai-yay, it's the same old stuff from yesterday for Dubya.  Biking, brush clearing, admitting to war crimes, walking the dog...

Human rights experts have long pressed the administration of former president George W. Bush for details of who bore ultimate responsibility for approving the simulated drownings of CIA detainees, a practice that many international legal experts say was illicit torture.

In a memoir due out Tuesday, Bush makes clear that he personally approved the use of that coercive technique against alleged Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Sheik Mohammed, an admission the human rights experts say could one day have legal consequences for him.

In his book, titled "Decision Points," Bush recounts being asked by the CIA whether it could proceed with waterboarding Mohammed, who Bush said was suspected of knowing about still-pending terrorist plots against the United States. Bush writes that his reply was "Damn right" and states that he would make the same decision again to save lives, according to a someone close to Bush who has read the book. 

Not only does Bush admit he authorized a war crime, but he's proud of it, and he'd do it again.  It's a good thing that the Democrats didn't look into the Bush administration's action on this, otherwise the American people might have turned on the Democrats they might have suffered heavy midterm losses, you know?

Of course, the reason that's not happening is because Obama is busy authorizing the assassination of American citizens on suspicion that they are terrorists.

Familiar Territory

The Dow is back to the 11,400 mark today, where it was just before the collapse of Lehman Bros. was the keystone that wrecked the economy.

Mission accomplished.  You know, you'd think the Republicans would actually be thrilled with Obama in the White House, because he's done a great job with the stock market.

Now for the hundreds of millions of us that don't own any stocks or 401(k) plans, it's a different story.  Meanwhile, Obama's first move on the post Election Day chessboard is to give the GOP everything they want on extending the Bush tax cuts, costing us hundreds of billions in revenues.

I'm sure the Democratic base will continue to support the President's move to the center, and the Republicans will stop attacking him relentlessly any second now.

[UPDATE] Gold crossing $1,390 heading for $1,400, Oil above $86 heading for $90, dollar headed under 80 JPY.

And By Compromise, We Mean You'll Agree To Total Surrender

GOP Senate minority leader ultra-monarch commissar in his own mind Mitch McConnell has decided what the Senate's number one priority should be in 2011.

At a Heritage Foundation speech later this morning, McConnell will reiterate his desire to see Obama unseated in 2012, and will pull back the veil on the next two years, which are poised to be mired in political theatrics and policy gridlock.

"Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office," McConnell will say. "But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things is to put someone in the White House who won't veto any of these things."

Sure, he's ready to work with President Obama by throwing him under the bus whenever possible and then replacing him with a GOP president.  Meanwhile, don't expect anything to get better in the next two years.

I wonder when the Serious Village Centrists will notice that the GOP will never work with the President?  Boy my senators make me proud, huh.

The New Capitol Job

Meanwhile there's a hell of a lot to address here in the lame duck session.  800,000 Americans will lose their benefits at the end of this month, that jumps to two million by December 31.

Federal jobless payments, which last up to 73 weeks, kick in after the state-funded 26 weeks of coverage expire. These federal benefits are divided into tiers, and the jobless must apply each time they move into a new tier.

Nearly 9.5 million unemployed Americans have collected federally funded benefits, which average $290 a week, in 2010. Almost 15 million people are without work.

Jobless benefits are credited with keeping 3.3 million people out of poverty last year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Unemployment benefits have become a political football, though the national unemployment rate has hovered just below 10% all year. Both parties have previously said they want to lengthen the federal safety net, but Republicans have temporarily blocked extensions several times this year because they do not want to add to the deficit.

When the deadline expired at the end of May, it took lawmakers 51 days to pass an extension until Nov. 30. The pricetag of that six-month extension was $34 billion.

It could be even more difficult to push back the deadline this time around now that the Republicans have won control of the House and gained seats in the Senate. Though the transfer of power doesn't happen until next year, Democrats will have to work with the GOP to craft a bill.

Congress has a narrow window to act. Lawmakers return on Nov. 15 for a week before taking off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Then they are back for only two days before the Nov. 30 deadline hits.

Expect the GOP to stall on this measure until next year.  Clearly blocking unemployment benefits multiple times for millions of Americans resulted in the GOP being rewarded with control of the House.  Why would they spend a dime now?

And when the new Congress convenes in January, expect "if we cut unemployment benefits, that will get Americans out there to look for jobs" to become our new "job creation strategy".

Meanwhile, Democrats should note that of the 16 Blue Dogs who voted against that Nov. 30 extension of unemployment benefits to convince voters that they are serious about deficits being more important than unemployment benefits, 12 of them lost and number 13 is fighting for their political life.

If It's Thursday...

New jobless claims up 20k to 457k, continuing claims down to 4.34 million.

Still treading water.  Still waiting to see how the GOP House is going to fix this.

Table Of Malcontents

Nancy Pelosi famously said impeaching Bush was "off the table" in 2007.

That worked out, didn't it?  Meanwhile, MSNBC's Ed Schultz wants to know if Orange Julius will do the same.

"Four years ago, in the midst of an avalanche of criticism of the Bush administration, Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table," noted Schultz. "I want to ask Mr. Boehner tonight, are you going to take impeachment off the table? Or are we going to go down this road of divide, are we going to go down this road of investigations?"

Schultz was echoing concerns by some Democrats, such as Rep. Jim Clyburn, that a Republican-dominated Congress could spend much of the next two years attempting to remove the president from office.

Last month, Jonathan Chait of The New Republic wrote: "Hear me now and believe me later: If Republicans win and maintain control of the House of Representatives, they are going to impeach President Obama. ... They won't do it right away. And they won't succeed in removing Obama. (You need 67 Senate votes.) But if Obama wins a second term, the House will vote to impeach him before he leaves office."

When Democrats took control of the House in 2006, Speaker Nancy Pelosi unilaterally said there would be no impeachment of President George W. Bush.

"I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table," Pelosi told reporters at a news conference.

On the contrary,  the difference between Republicans and Democrats is Republicans fear their base, Democrats despise theirs.  If Boehner takes it off the table, he's no longer presumptive Speaker of anything and he knows it.

I don't see how he has a choice.  If Boehner won't do it, his Tea Party plurality will replace him as Speaker with somebody who will. Orange Julius is about to get freshly squeezed.

Issa Wades Into Bush Country

GOP Rep. Darrell Issa promises he won't just go after Obama, but that he vows to look into the Bush administration as well.

“I’m going to be investigating a president of my own party, because many of the issues we’re working on began [with] President Bush or even before, and haven’t been solved,” Issa said during an interview on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.”

Issa made clear that he intends to examine both the Bush and Obama administrations’ handling of the mortgage crisis, as well as problems at the old Mineral Management Service, an arm of the Interior Department reorganized amid reports of corruption.

“When we look at the failures of Freddie [Mac] and Fannie [Mae], the Countrywide scandal, those all began during President Bush’s time,” Issa said. “When we look at Mineral Management Service and the ultimate failure in the Gulf, that began years before.”

“I’m hoping to bridge the multiple administrations in as many places as possible,” Issa pledged. “The enemy is the bureaucracy, not necessarily the current occupant of the White House.”

And if you believe Issa here, you believe Orange Julius will compromise with President Obama to fix the economy, too.  Believe me when I say the entire point of this exercise is to pin as much of the failures of 2007 and 2008 on the Democrats in Congress at the time, and to completely clear the Republican's name.

It's a good thing Obama didn't look into Bush's mistakes that led to the financial meltdown, otherwise it might have stoked a Republican partisan witch hunt the second they got the gavel back.


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