Sunday, August 14, 2011

Last Call

Tim Pawlenty is taking his ball and going home.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty abandoned his bid for the GOP presidential nomination on Sunday after a disappointing finish in the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa.

"We needed a boost from Ames that didn't happen," Pawlenty told staff on a conference call Sunday morning, CNN learned.

Speaking to ABC's "This Week," Pawlenty said his campaign needed a lift in the straw poll.

"The pathway forward for me doesn't really exist and so we're going to end the campaign," he said.
Pawlenty finished a distant third in the poll, behind Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

This is by far the smartest thing Tim Pawlenty has ever done.  I can't wait until 2013, when there will be a whole subset of Republicans who will swear up and down that the GOP could have beaten President Obama if only they had nominated T-Paw, and I will gladly cop now to enjoying the concept of watching them invade Tea Party blogs to blame them for driving out their Great White Dope.

Mark that on your calendar.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

If you're wondering why or how Michele Bachmann won the Iowa state fair straw poll this weekend, it's because of this.

Michelle Obama tries out a local delicacy at the Iowa State Fair - a foot-long corn dog

Any questions?

Finally Choosing To Fight

The NY Times floats a trial balloon that the White House may finally be ready to go after Republicans on blocking any and every measure to improve the economy and create jobs.

Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Plouffe, and his chief of staff, William M. Daley, want him to maintain a pragmatic strategy of appealing to independent voters by advocating ideas that can pass Congress, even if they may not have much economic impact. These include free trade agreements and improved patent protections for inventors.

But others, including Gene Sperling, Mr. Obama’s chief economic adviser, say public anger over the debt ceiling debate has weakened Republicans and created an opening for bigger ideas like tax incentives for businesses that hire more workers, according to Congressional Democrats who share that view. Democrats are also pushing the White House to help homeowners facing foreclosure.

Even if the ideas cannot pass Congress, they say, the president would gain a campaign issue by pushing for them.

“The president’s team puts a premium on being above the partisan fray, which is usually the right strategy,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate. “But on this issue, when he knows what the right thing to do is, and when a rather small group on one side is blocking any progress, you have to be willing to call that group out if you want to get anything done.” 

Chuck Schumer is correct.  The lame duck session tax fight and especially the debt ceiling fight proved that there is no compromise with the GOP in 2011.  It's simply not possible.  President Obama bent over backwards and the terms were still unacceptable to the GOP.  The deal that had to be worked out in order to stave off default still resulted in Republicans getting the country's credit rating downgraded due to childish petulance.

This is absolutely the right thing to do.  The White House needs to put concrete measures on the table, and Democrats in the House and Senate need to back these measures.  If the Republicans block them and in fact refuse to let them even come up for a vote in the House like they have been, then it's time to call them out for doing so.

Republican popularity is in the low 30's right now, far lower than the Dems and the President (both in the mid-40s).  This is a fight the Democrats need to have, and need to win on.

Too bad I don't believe it will happen.

But there is little support for such an approach inside the administration. A series of departures has left few economists among Mr. Obama’s senior advisers. Several of his political advisers are skeptical about the merits of stimulus spending, and they are certain about the politics: voters do not like it.

Mr. Plouffe and Mr. Daley share the view that a focus on deficit reduction is an economic and political imperative, according to people who have spoken with them. Voters believe that paying down the debt will help the economy, and the White House agrees, although it wants to avoid cutting too much spending while the economy remains weak.

As part of this appeal to centrist voters, the president intends to continue his push for a so-called grand bargain on deficit reduction — a deal with Republicans to make even larger spending cuts, including to the social safety net, in exchange for some revenue increases — despite the strong opposition of Congressional Democrats who want to use the issue to draw contrasts with Republicans. 

This is what the White House has been doing for the last year or so...and it's failed miserably.  Voters care far more about jobs than deficit reduction and here the NY Times is basically lying.  That's because as I explained yesterday, the Village has their own agenda and that agenda is to sell SS and Medicare cuts.

The President would be better served by going along with his party here.  I'm hoping he still has a choice.  I don't believe he'll be given one.

What's The Matter, Boy? Is Timmy OH MY GOD

A man out with his dogs got a shock when one of them had a bone in his mouth.  A human one.  It turns out the dog had retrieved a badly decomposed human forearm, and little else is known, but the body has been found.
The K-9, however, spotted the rest of the body near a canal about two blocks south of the home shortly after 11 a.m., Garza said. Police set up a second perimeter there as they tried to piece together the story behind the young man’s death.
The body, which was in an advanced state of decomposition, did not appear to have any obvious signs of foul play, Garza said. It looked like it had been there for about three weeks. Still, officers are treating the case as a homicide until proved otherwise, he added.
Investigators saw marks on the dirt that indicated the body had been dragged a few feet, possibly by animals, Garza said. The remains, however, were not concealed in any way.
The cadaver was partially clothed, police said. Investigators said the man wore jeans, a braided belt and black tennis shoes with white stripes. Authorities could not tell whether he carried any personal identification with him because they couldn’t examine the body properly until it arrived at the morgue.

Tough Old Bird Indeed

When in Chatham, don’t mess with Edward Alexander.
The guy is tough. Old school tough.
While Alexander was watering his front lawn at 82nd and Wabash Thursday, a would-be robber pointed a gun at the 85-year-old and told him to “give it up.” Alexander knocked away the pistol and punched the man in the face, hobbling the bad guy, who ran away — but not before the pistol went off and a bullet hit Alexander in the leg.
From his hospital bed Friday, the retired probation officer of 32 years says he has no regrets.
“You’ve got to make a stand one way or the other in life,” he said from his room at Advocate Trinity Hospital. “And if you don’t you’ll be run over.”
I can only hope I would be so brave in the face of something like that.  Good for Edward. 

Mystery Mitt-chine, Part 2

If Josh Marshall really is baffled by Mitt Romney's "Iowa strategy" then he hasn't been paying attention to the last decade or so in politics.

I still have trouble seeing what the Romney strategy is. Concede Iowa. Win in neighboring New Hampshire which everyone will discount. And then win in uber-conservative South Carolina? It never has added up. 

The answer to this is the fact that the Tea Party voters hate Romney, but Romney is the candidate the corporations very much want, just like McCain was in 2008.  Remember in 2007, McCain was written off entirely.

Romney has no chance in actually winning primaries right now.  The rest of the field has to be eliminated before he can win.  The guy came in seventh, behind Rick Perry's write-in votes, and Rick Perry just announced the same day and he wasn't even in Iowa.  Everyone else has to be flushed in order for Romney to win the bid.

If the Village wants Romney to win, and they do, then Iowa doesn't count anymore.  Period.  The longer this goes on, the more you'll see the Tea Party voters go all over the map, and the Village will demand a brokered convention.  Lord knows they want to play kingmaker.

Water, Water Everywhere...

But not a drop to drink, since Republicans have cut taxes and revenues at the state and federal level to the point where we can't even afford to fix our water pipes as a country anymore and it's not helping that record heat is busting pipes across the country either.

Critical water pipelines are breaking from coast to coast, triggered by this summer's record high temperatures. It's not a phenomenon or coincidence, experts say. It's a clear sign that Americans should brace for more water interruptions, accompanied by skyrocketing water bills.

The heat wave of the past few weeks has burst hundreds of crucial pipes in California, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Indiana, Kentucky and New York, temporarily shutting off water to countless consumers just when they needed it most.

"It's one of the worst summers," said Debbie Ragan of Oklahoma City's Utilities Department. As days of 100 degree-plus temperatures bake the region, the utility reports 685 water main breaks since July alone. That's an estimated rate of four times normal. To keep up with repairs, Ragan said, workers have been putting in 12-to 16-hour shifts 24/7.

"It's the heat and the high water usage," Ragan said. 

So what's the solution?  Well, we don't dare raise taxes on our precious American "job creators" so instead, a basic human right like water becomes the latest regressive tax on those who can afford it the least.

The Replacement Era is going to be expensive. The EPA estimated that between 2007 and 2027, drinking water utilities will have to invest $334 billion on new infrastructure.

The problem is worsened by the timing of it all. There's budget-cutting talk at the local, state and federal level. Hawkins called it a "quadruple hit."

"I don't see that there's any way, other than rate increases for most cities given the size of the financial need," Hawkins said. "If we're not able in parallel to demonstrate how we're efficiently using the dollars we're collecting, I think this industry is in for huge challenges with our customers."

Water officials in Pittsburgh are considering raising rates more than 13% for infrastructure improvements. In Cleveland, authorities increased water fees for the same reason. Leaders in Baltimore took similar action.

"With this increase, we can either stop drinking water, stop showering, stop doing the laundry or get out of the city," complained a reader on CNN affiliate WBAL's website. "The mayor and City Council need to realize that we along with other homeowners are the tax base, and if we leave, they're up the creek!"

It doesn't matter.  Not only as a country have we given up on the poor and middle class, but we're making sure the Americans who can least afford to see their water bills jack up right now are the ones bearing the cost of these replacements, but that they will be done in such a fashion that the owners of the water utilities raise prices enough to profit off this.  In places where water utilities are still run by the government, we've cut revenues to the point where they have no choice but to raise rates...because we dare not raise taxes.

When corporations pay zero in taxes, when the wealthiest Americans have the lowest tax burden in decades and use it to enrich themselves, then complain the rest of us have no right in a democracy to demand more from them, this is what happens.

Government small enough to "drown in a bathtub" also can't get the water to the tub because the pipes are broken.
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