Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last Call

Republicans have named all six of their House and Senate members to the "Super Committee"/Gang of 12/Catfood Commission 2/Giant Charlie Foxtrot thing, and the six of them are exactly who you expected the Tea Party to appoint.

Republicans named their six members Wednesday to a congressional deficit-reduction super committee, including a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement and other no-new-taxes hardliners.

In a move that could deadlock the 12-member panel over taxes, but perhaps set the stage for changes later, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell named Tea Party ally Patrick Toomey to the panel with Jon Kyl and Rob Portman.

The panel is known as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and was established to find $1.5 trillion in additional budget savings over 10 years, but markets have been looking for signs that it may be able to do more.

House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, appointed Dave Camp, who chairs the tax-writing House Ways & Means Committee, along with conservative "young gun" Jeb Hensarling and Fred Upton.

For those of you keeping score, that's five bomb-throwing Tea Party jagoffs and Fred "We're going to make him pay for the CFL light bulb thing!" Upton, who will be made to throw bombs in order to save his place as House Commerce Committee chair.

Not a single one of these guys will accept a dime in taxes, revenue increases, tax expenditure reductions, or loophole closures.  They will, to a man, vote hard core Tea Party "our way or the highway".  The plan here is to force the trigger conditions and then blame the Democrats...or being really, really, amazingly nice to Sen. Max Baucus, and then blaming him when Republicans get exactly what they want:  massive Social Security and spending cuts.

This should be fun.  Not.

Walker-ing It Back, Part 2

Wisconsin Dems may have come up short in trying to retake the state senate through the recall process (and the fact they won two seats is amazing in and of itself) but if anything, the narrow loss has only made the recall next year of GOP Gov. Scott Walker all that much more important.

“If we can do all of this against entrenched Republicans on their own turf, imagine our success … when all of Wisconsin can have its voice heard on Gov. Walker’s extreme, divisive agenda,” Wisconsin state party chairman Mike Tate wrote in a memo to reporters Wednesday.

“The historic gains made tonight to restore balance and accountability to our state, and restore Wisconsin values, will continue when the entire state weighs in on the November 2012 elections — and with the recall of Scott Walker himself,” Tate said.

Standing before a cheering crowd of partisans on the Majestic Theatre stage late Tuesday — when it was still uncertain whether Democrats would flip control of the Senate — an animated Tate was even more defiant: “We will not stop, we will not rest, until we recall Scott Walker from the state of Wisconsin.”

In 2010, Walker carried both of the districts in which Democrats prevailed Tuesday — though in Senate District 32, where Democrat Jennifer Shilling easily unseated incumbent Dan Kapanke, Walker’s margin had been a single percentage point.

In the remaining four races, the first-term Republican governor notched between 54 and 58 percent. GOP incumbents matched or bested Walker’s performance in three of the four districts they defended.

Despite the Democratic losses, Madison-based Democratic pollster Nathan Henry calculates that the party achieved a 7 percent swing in its direction.

That's the real message Walker, Republicans, AND Dems need to take away:  in just nine months the GOP has cratered, even at the state level.  Scott Walker and other freshman GOP governors are largely responsible.

2012?  Republicans should be terrified.  No wonder they are pouring in the cash.  Walker's numbers in the state are miserable.  He knows he'd lose right now, so he's trying to end the idea of any more recalls.

"I've heard repeatedly from people who are just disgusted at all the ads, disgusted at all the money. They're tired of seemingly year-round campaigning, and whether it's a gubernatorial recall, any other recall, I don't think there's a whole lot of enthusiasm for having a whole 'nother wave of ads and money come into the state of Wisconsin."

I bet he's wrong.  I bet his job on it.

TARP 2: Eclectic Bugaboo Or Dow-ler Coaster Of Love

The major stock indices in New York gave up all of yesterday's big gains and then some today.

All 10 groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell at least 2 percent. Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. dropped 11 percent, pacing losses in financial shares, as the costs to protect the government debt of Greece, Italy, Spain and France rose. Walt Disney Co. (DIS), the largest theme-park company, tumbled 9.1 percent on concerns that the slowing economy and consumer confidence may hurt its businesses.

The S&P 500 fell 4.4 percent to 1,120.75 at 4 p.m. in New York. The benchmark gauge jumped 4.7 percent yesterday as the Federal Reserve said it would keep borrowing costs at an all-time low and was prepared to use a range of tools to bolster the economy. The Dow declined 520.29 points, or 4.6 percent, to 10,719.48.

“The message is that the market is concerned about the financial industry,” Kevin Caron, market strategist in Florham Park, New Jersey, at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., said in a telephone interview. His firm has $115 billion in client assets. “The fact that Bank of America has said that they are comfortable with fundamentals is very positive. Still, the banks are exposed to a deteriorating economy. The European debt crisis has a whole set of issues. The concern is about a spillover effect of that.”

As you can guess, with Bank of America a dead man walking, the market is seriously expecting another financial windfall along the lines of TARP.  Good luck getting that passed with the Tea Party making governing the country impossible.

The Dow down 18% in 13 trading days?  Yeah, that's a bit of an issue.  Fluctuations like this in the major markets indicates things are fundamentally broken at the most basic level right now.  People keep saying how this isn't 2008 again, but brother, it sure feels like it.

I'm convinced the Fed will give us a TARP 2/QE 3 special, and do it soon.

Why Bon Keeps A Ball Bat

A Fullerton man convicted earlier this year for twice ejaculating into a female co-worker’s water bottle was ordered Monday to pay the woman more than $27,000 in restitution.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Walter Schwarm ordered Michael Kevin Lallana, 32, to pay $27,410.80 to the woman for loss of wages, therapy and medical expenses, including the money she paid to have the tainted water tested.
Twice.  I think that single word put this into a whole new light.  My first job out of high school was in an office in Kansas City.  Two weeks after I started a man was walked out and charges were pressed because he peed in the coffee pot.  I was so very grateful to be a Pepsi girl.  Five years later, I was slipped a hallucinogen by a nut who thought I was pretty.  I now pay great attention to seals and take every precaution possible.  There is no price tag on horror.  And seriously, ten minutes and a ball bat and I'd fix his wagon. 

This Week's WTH - First Amendment Edition

Sometimes I come across something that just leaves me blinking in disbelief.  The fact that this slid by at all is amazing to me.  What the hell was he thinking?

The judge who signed a criminal cyber-stalking search warrant, seeking the name of an anonymous cartoon animator mocking the Renton police department, has apparently changed his mind.
King County Judge James Cayce, issued a "stay" of the search warrant Tuesday, pending full court hearing on the matter scheduled for August 19. The ruling is in response to a ‘motion to quash’ filed by a Seattle first amendment rights attorney.

The first article is short and sweet, but I am sad that it missed my radar on the first print.

Only KIRO Team 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne holds a key document that really lays bare the city’s intent. The document was quietly filed in King County Superior Court last week. It’s a search warrant accusing an anonymous cartoon creator, going by the name of Mr. Fiddlesticks, of cyberstalking (RCW 9.61.260). The Renton Police Department and the local prosecutor got a judge to sign off as a way to uncover the name of whoever is behind the parodies. Halsne talked with three nationally respected legal experts who believe the use of the cyberstalking statute is likely stomping on the constitution. 

Without clearly defined laws and boundaries, this actually poses a risk.  A judge came to his senses this time, but I don't feel confident that we are safely removed from this type of invasion.  Cyberstalking?  While that is a very real problem, I don't think it usually comes wrapped in poor taste and jittery animation.  One stupid decision might open a door that we can never close again.  Right now there is a lot of wiggle room in how different companies and agencies store, share and publish information.  We control none of it.  That is a Very Bad Plan.

Numero Uno

How weird has the Dow been this week?  For a brief, shining moment Apple overtook ExxonMobil as the largest company on earth.

Apple Inc briefly edged past oil majorExxon Mobil to become the most valuable company in the United States after days of volatile stock market action.

The market value of Apple rose on Tuesday to $341.5 billion, just above Exxon's at $341.4 billion, even as the oil major rakes in more than four times Apple's annual revenue.

600 down, 400 up, things are getting ugly out there, folks.  Stay tuned.

The Badger Awakens, Part 13

It awoke yesterday, but Democrats came up just short, taking 2 of the 6 recall elections yesterday in Wisconsin when they needed 3 for control of the state Senate.

Wisconsin Democrats have fallen just narrowly short of an ambitious goal - the attempt to pick up three state Senate seats through recall elections and take a majority in the chamber. As of early Wednesday morning, with six incumbent Republicans on the ballot, Democrats have defeated two -- but narrowly missed out in two others.

Democrats defeated Republican state Sen. Dan Kapanke, who represented the most Dem-leaning seat of any Republican in the chamber, by a 55%-45% margin. They also won a 51%-49% victory over state Sen. Randy Hopper, whose campaign was also damaged by a messy divorce, and allegations by his estranged wife that he "now lives mostly in Madison" after having an affair.

This would get Democrats from their previous 19-14 minority, following the 2010 Republican wave, to a 17-16 margin. In two more safe Republican districts, incumbents Robert Cowles and Sheila Harsdorf won by margins of 60%-40% and 58%-42%, respectively.

But in the two remaining toss-ups, Democrats have lost close calls. State Sen. Luther Olsen won by a margin of 52%-48%. At time of writing the Associated Press had yet to officially call the District 8 race for incumbent state Sen. Alberta Darling, but other accounts indicated she would emerge the winner.

Also next week are two recalls targeting incumbent Democrats Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin. However, both Wirch and Holperin have significantly out-fundraised their challengers, and are at least favored to hold on -- but in this polarized environment, anything is possible.

Despite heavy turnout, Republicans in red parts of the state turned out as well to defend the policies of a Governor with an approval rating in the mid-30's.  It was a gamble but the Dems did come up short.  Republicans are jubilant this morning, and the reason they kept 4 of the seats yesterday was money, money, money.

Republican money groups poured cash into the state in order to save Republicans in Wisconsin, and it worked this time.  The Club for Growth, Republican legislative boiler room ALEC, the American Federation for Children (run by the sister of Blackwater founder Eric Prince), and the Koch Brothers front group Americans for Prosperity all poured a total of millions into the race, and they bought themselves a number of key wins, none more key than GOP state senator Alberta Darling defending her seat.

And surprise, surprise, Darling's district includes Waukesha County, the same county where in April's state Supreme Court race, county clerk Kathy Nickolaus "found" thousands of votes in favor of conservative Judge David Prosser to give him the win in the recount election.  Needless to say, Alberta Darling eked out a solid victory again based almost solely on big numbers in Waukesha County.

So Republicans did what they had to do to win.  I'm hoping Democrats will still go after Gov. Scott Walker next year, but you can bet that the right will be ready to save Walker's ass again and will be doing everything they can to buy another election, now that it's legal to do so...and have no problems with a bit of shady action on the side just to make sure they win.

Your Obama Second Term GOP Preview

Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess gives away the worst kept secret in Washington on upcoming GOP strategy on dealing with President Obama.  Talking to Tea Party folks back home in the Lone Star State, the question of the debt ceiling came up (not to mention the Congressman's numerous votes to raise the debt ceiling under Bush.)  But then things got interesting.

Then Burgess fielded a suggestion that the House move to impeach Obama. "It needs to happen, and I agree with you it would tie things up," he reportedly said. "No question about that."

The U.S. Constitution, in Article II, Section 4, requires a conviction on "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors" before an office-holder can be impeached. President Obama faces no such charges.

Asked to clarify, "Burgess said he wasn't sure whether the proper charges to bring up articles of impeachment against Obama were there, but he didn't rule out pursuing such a course," reporter Aman Batheja concluded.

To repeat, a sitting member of Congress believes the President should be impeached, but can't give an actual legal or Constitutional reason as to why.  Not a single one.  But he should be just because.  Well, given the GOP's history on dealing with Obama, I think Burgess has a reason, but it's not polite to mention it in public.

Here's a hint, it has to do with President Obama's party, or more likely the most obvious of  his presidential firsts.

Just sayin'.


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