Friday, February 3, 2012

Last Call

Unemployment numbers improved again last month, with January coming in at +243,000 jobs and the unemployment rate falling to 8.3%.  That's good news for the country and for President Obama, so the Republicans like Rep. Eric Cantor are immediately moving the goalposts again and continuing to assault the President on his "failure to create jobs"...and of course taking all the credit for the growth.

In Cantor’s Friday statement, he continued to press the GOP message that the government stands in the way of economic growth in the private sector.

“We need bold, pro-growth policies that reduce red tape and will help our nation's small businesses to succeed, expand and create new jobs. Small businesses are the backbone of America, generating more than half of the new jobs in our country.”

Cantor also lobbed a back-handed compliment at the president, saying the president was “finally” beginning to embrace the GOP’s initiatives to help small businesses.

“This week, President Obama finally acknowledged the need to help small businesses, offering many of the same proposals the House passed last year that help small businesses access capital and ease tax and regulatory burdens. But we should think bigger.” 

Yeah, that's the guy who blocked the American Jobs Act and every other piece of jobs legislation the President and the Dems put forth now taking credit "for what the House passed".  Which was, if you recall, loaded with all kinds of other things like massive cuts to social programs and making the tax cuts on the rich permanent.

This GOP-led House has done precisely nothing, and now they are taking credit for the improving jobs picture.  Awesome.

But one has to ask, how much pressure does this put on Cantor and the House GOP if the economy improves despite the Republicans blocking anything remotely helpful to the economy?  Suddenly they're in a lot of trouble.  And they know it.

Something's Wrong, Something's Amiss

Gosh, I can't quite put my finger on what's bothering me about this analysis of Romney's performance in Florida from CNN's Juan Carlos Gomez here, but it's just not right.

How Romney won Florida's Latino vote

Huhwha?  Did I miss something?

As Mitt Romney dominated the Florida Republican primary Tuesday night, he also captured the bulk of the votes from Latinos in the state, with 54% of their ballots. But how did he pull that off?
His victory could be seen as somewhat surprising for a candidate with a tough stance on immigration, who promised that if he were president, he'd veto the Dream Act that would legalize young undocumented adults who came to the United States as children if they attend college, join the armed forces or meet other requirements.
But Romney's methodology for winning their votes reveals a more focused, calculated approach to securing the fastest-growing voter demographic in the state and the country, and could prove to be a hurdle for President Obama in the general election.

Oh, that's it.  Florida's Republican primary is closed, so the only Latino votes the Marquis de Mittens captured were in fact 54% of registered Republicans.  Please, somebody tell me how Mitt getting, say, 54% of the African-American vote in a closed GOP primary means he could prove to be a hurdle for President Obama in the general election.  I'm eagerly awaiting that explanation.

But it's the independents there who voted for him in 2008 -- and the 400,000 in Florida who list no party affiliation -- who are at real risk of being lured to the Republican side in 2012. They will be the prize in the November election, and where Obama -- who starts with a 60% lead among all Latinos in state polls -- may end up battling Romney over the growing Latino vote.

So a 60% lead among the total Latino voting population in the polls makes President Obama vulnerable to a battle with Mitt Romney among Latino voters in Florida.  Got it.  If we're expanding the definition of "battle" to include Wellington and the Prussians smooshing Napoleon all over the Belgian countryside at Waterloo, then Lopez is spot on.  Good call, CNN.

Panetta Spills The Beans

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is either a genius or a madman, but it depends on if he wants war with Iran or not.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has a lot on his mind these days, from cutting the defense budget to managing the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But his biggest worry is the growing possibility that Israel will attack Iran over the next few months.

Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May or June — before Iran enters what Israelis described as a “zone of immunity” to commence building a nuclear bomb. Very soon, the Israelis fear, the Iranians will have stored enough enriched uranium in deep underground facilities to make a weapon — and only the United States could then stop them militarily. 

If Panetta's goal is to give away the game and keep Israel from dragging us into yet another war, this move is genius.  On the other hand...

The Obama administration is conducting intense discussions about what an Israeli attack would mean for the United States: whether Iran would target U.S. ships in the region or try to close the Strait of Hormuz; and what effect the conflict and a likely spike in oil prices would have on the fragile global economy.

The administration appears to favor staying out of the conflict unless Iran hits U.S. assets, which would trigger a strong U.S. response.

This U.S. policy — signaling that Israel is acting on its own — might open a breach like the one in 1956, when President Dwight Eisenhower condemned an Israeli-European attack on the Suez Canal. Complicating matters is the 2012 presidential campaign, which has Republicans candidates clamoring for stronger U.S. support of Israel.

Administration officials caution that Tehran shouldn’t misunderstand: The United States has a 60-year commitment to Israeli security, and if Israel’s population centers were hit, the United States could feel obligated to come to Israel’s defense.

If the goal is explaining to Iran exactly how to to get Israel to drag us into yet another pointless war, he gave that game away too.  Then again, it's not like either scenario is a really huge secret.  It depends on what Iran wants, and what Israel is willing to do.

StupidiVid: Cheerios Edition

Today we have a double feature!  First, we have a brother who is amusing his sibling by eating.  I'm not sure how that's funny either, but the baby's reaction is too good to skip.

And then we have this, from my own archives.  My husband and our youngest nephew had a hilarious Cheerio-related moment.

Cheerio, mates!

Sweet, Sweet Science

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco put forth the theory that sugar is so toxic for the body it should be regulated like alcohol or tobacco.  They're not completely wrong about the effects of sugar on the body.  It wasn't until recently that we have been able to produce cheap sugar, so it is not just for the very rich.  In modern times, everyone has access to sugar, and we like it.  No big surprises there.  However, it does coincide with a diabetes and weight epidemic.  Of course there are other factors, but sugar is a major problem.  It's common, attractive and inexpensive, and very bad for us in large doses.  There are factual links to back up part of their findings.  I understand part of their point.

I admit, I am amused and horrified at one of the recommendations.  They go so far as to want to tax it, limit the age you can buy sugar products, and not allow stores too close to schools to carry added sugar products.  That's nowhere near reality, so it's funny, right?

Except, when you think of the expense of eating wholesome food we are doing it, and the scope is a hell of a lot bigger.  The problem is that healthy eating is expensive, at a time when more people are in a food crunch.  So many people eat off the $1 menus and live on Ramen noodles because they can get full on a fraction of the cost.  Fresh fruit is expensive, and Twinkies are easier to store.  There is a huge increase in families who aren't starving but are not eating healthy food.  Between the lack of vitamins and the added chemicals, it's no wonder our bodies are fighting back.  Our culture has an unhealthy relationship with food.

Limiting what is available?  They're doing that right now, too.  The reality is, a kid having a Coke once in a while is not a horrible thing.  It should be done in moderation, like anything else.  Some schools are banishing choices, but little being done to present good ones.  I'm not advocating Coke machines in every hallway, but that is not the root of the problem. Some kids grow up not knowing healthy food can taste good.  Parents can lead by example, and stop forcing schools and legislation handle something as simple as enjoying the occasional soda and the frequent whole fruit or vegetable.  Hungry kids is a problem but I'm also addressing the kids with plenty of money and rotting teeth and high blood pressure.  Enforcing healthy eating habits and teaching kids to make reasonable choices is the key to turning this around.  Restricting choices won't work, and was never a practical solution.  However, teaching kids to eat healthier, making healthier foods available and practicing what we preach is a great start.  And hey, take the stairs while you're at it, slacker.

Michelle Obama has worked hard to bring national attention to healthier habits.  From exercise (I'm sure you've seen the Ellen clip, right?) to fresh fruit and decision making, she has tried to inspire adults and children alike.  Some people roll their eyes and say she is trying to mother the nation, but the reality is a vast number of people are risking health problems.  It's a wake up call we need that doesn't just affect our snacking habits, but also a mindset of self-control and common sense.

There is just too much to cover in one article, so I'll stop here.  We have girls starving themselves, kids and adults stuffing themselves, poor folks who can't afford anything but raw calories and super processed foods, kids with money who choose potato chips over a vegetable every single day, a society that tells us to indulge ourselves and an economy that means we have a Snickers instead of a new pair of shoes.

Something's gotta give.

Heath Crunch Surprise

Blue Dog Heath Shuler of North Carolina is hanging up his congressional cleats as Democrats just don't seem to be eager to support the guy anymore and he got stuck holding the bag on redistricting.

One of the last remaining members of the Blue Dog Coalition, Shuler was hit by congressional redistricting that made his western North Carolina district much more difficult for a Democrat to win.

The three-term congressman had been floated as a possible candidate for governor in North Carolina, but announced on Wednesday that he would not be running for that office.

Shuler did not address the new challenges that redistricting created for his electoral prospects, but in a statement on Thursday said he wanted to spend more time with his wife and two children.

“This was not an easy decision,” Shuler said. “However, I am confident that it is the right decision. It is a decision I have weighed heavily over the past few months. I have always said family comes first, and I never intended to be a career politician.”

Shuler stressed to reporters that family considerations were his sole reason for leaving Congress.

Bullshit.  He's leaving because as a Blue Dog he has no support from the leadership...who I might add Heath ran against just after the 2010 election.  This is his just reward, and he damn well knows it.  And I'm betting there wasn't a single member of Congress in the NC delegation back home who was sorry to see Heath get squeezed out like this by redistricting.  Dems hated him because he was an obstructive ass, Republicans hated him because he was a Dem.  He had no friends in the state, and no friends in the party leadership.  This particular reaped whirlwind knocked him right out of the House, and good riddance to his reactionary, obnoxious self.

Bye, Heath.  Your Congressional career was about as useful as your NFL one.

Mitch Turtles Up, Part 3

So, as a registered and voting constituent of Sen. Mitch McConnell, I'm shocked I tell you -- shocked! -- that his 2010 promise to limit President Obama to one term was indeed the entirety of not only his legislative agenda so far but if he has his way, the entirety of his party's 2012 campaign platform as well.

With no nominee yet to spell out the party’s agenda, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is locked in a behind-the-scenes debate with other Republicans over their strategy for winning back power.

The divide within the party is sharp. McConnell and other influential senators believe the party should avoid putting out a detailed platform and focus squarely on Obama’s record, while a range of junior senators — and some veterans like Sen. John McCain — think the conference should lay out a “Contract with America” type agenda. Others like Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) want to more aggressively push House Republican bills in order to speak with one voice coming out of Congress.

In other words, the guy in charge of the Republican filibuster machine in the Senate is not only freely admitting his party exists right now to block the President's agenda, but that the American people will simply go along with that as the party's platform.  Vote for the Republicans!  You don't really give a good goddamn about your country or the people running it, as long as it's not Melanin McKenyanmuslim.

It's not just that McConnell is apparently admitting that the GOP has no ideas for government, it's that government doesn't have to have ideas at all.  All he's offering is reactionary bilge.  All that matters is NOBAMA.  That's it.  That's the entire McConnell plan.  Obama Derangement Syndrome.

If I wasn't dedicated to his defeat in 2014 before, I ever now.


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