Thursday, January 31, 2008

More White Stuff

About an hour and a half ago it quit snowing so I went out and shoveled about three inches off the walks before the school kids got out and solidified it. That was 1 1/2 hour before I took this picture and it is not slowing at all.

I just heard from the kitchen, "This so sucks..." my wife wasn't raised with the snow like I was.

This shot doesn't do the snow falling any justice, visibility is about 1 city block and it is dead calm. The flakes now are about dime sized, earlier about a quarter - big ones.

It's going to be a mess on the roads, we've already got snow and ice mixed with center burms plowed onto the 4 lane street - now 1 1/2 lanes each way. I don't mind much, I grew up with this stuff, the only real concern is other drivers getting up to something stupid, not that much of deal around here. The freeway, I84, is another story, lots of amateurs with no clue and 4x4 they've never used.

It doesn't look like we'll have a winter caused drought this year. If you don't have any, I've got plenty for your snowman making pleasure. That green and cream truck won't get stuck unless the floor pans leave the tires hanging, a very unlikely situation on a road.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Edwards Gone

Right now John Edwards is withdrawing from the Primary. I am disappointed; if nothing else he drove the populist message that ought to resonate with Democrats. It ought to resonate. It didn't.

Ending poverty and getting a fair shake for labor should be important to Democrats at any time, but particularly after the past dozen years. The numbers don't lie and neither do economic realities most of us should be able to see around us. Have we become so insular in our lives that we can't see this? An 18% share doesn't reflect this as a major concern, regarding this particular message it seems race and gender trump something that ought to be central to Democrats.

John stated he had the assurances of both candidates that they would make ending poverty and reducing income inequality central to their campaigns. Since I haven't seen such a commitment a part of their basic message I have doubts. It certainly is not a central issue for the DLC, never has been. I will not make predictions about a run to the center by the Primary candidates, they're close enough already without making much of a move. In the General such a move is more likely by the Republicans, but one still wonders.

I've been real clear about Hillary; so obviously I am now pushed into the Obama camp. I have issues with Obama, some are more serious than others. I am now put into the uncomfortable position of having to place enough faith in the authoritarian BushCo Supreme Court to put the 2nd Amendment out of the reach of fear pandering politicians. That's a stretch. How much credence do I put in "be nice" politics - not much.

I have never understood the personal enmity so common now in Congress, politics need not trump character or friendship. Certainly some uncomfortable character traits may accompany certain politics, making comradeship unlikely, but demonization is silly. Neither is it reasonable to take such a partisan stand that the other Party is cut out of debate or totally ignored, there are generally some give points, the Republicans have proven they don't see that. Some Republicans have demonstrated that their Party trumps the nation and those need to be bulldozed, but it is, at any time, ridiculous to make enemies, you will have some anyhow. Things in Congress won't have changed 1/20/09, this will have to be dealt with, so I don't take "Unity" too seriously.

I am grateful to have Obama as a fallback position, I have not been seriously opposed to him being the General candidate, just not particularly pleased. Well, that hasn't changed.

G'night John

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Primaries, DNC, Hillary

Somehow this mess is getting transferred onto the DNC. This is patently unfair and untrue. Florida and Michigan were warned of the consequences of their legislatures conducting illegitimate Primaries before they scheduled them. The Republican legislatures did so and the State Parties went along. The DNC had one hammer to use, the threatened one, they used it.

To think that the DNC wanted this outcome is craziness, these are important states in an election and very important to a Democrat in November. The alternative for DNC is to allow states to do as they please with the Democratic Primary. It is not the Michigan Primary, it is the Democratic Primary in Michigan. (or Florida) It is DNC's election. If states were allowed to simply keep queuing to the front, we'd have Primaries starting on Inauguration Day. It might be nice for a President to have a couple days work first. In reality, candidates deserve some time to put together the mechanisms required and get a feel for what is going on electorally, not to mention some respite for the electorate.

Now, the DNC has other recognized methods of selecting candidate than the state financed and scheduled Primary. There is a deadline for selecting delegates for the convention and it would take time to organize and get DNC approval for an alternate method, time is running out. Enter Hillary.

DNC is not going to seat delegates based on the MI & FL votes now cast. They cannot, both in face of rules and in face of fairness to candidates who have followed the rules. Hillary may think she has some power over DNC, but she's barking up a tree she shouldn't be. This is the machinery of the Democratic Party, candidates don't pay for it, it is run by people who care enough about Democratic politics to make it a large portion of their lives. Hillary has so far won some delegates, whom she controls, and she has her "super delegate" as a Senator. That doesn't run DNC. Wolfson may be a big dog over at DLC but he isn't spit in DNC. She now is handing "hope" to voters in MI & FL that she has no power to bring about, effectively stalling any corrective measures those states could take. False hope undermining real action - sounds a lot like her accusations of Obama.

If this is the political acumen that makes her the candidate "ready on the first day" I'll take a first year poli-sci major. If there was any doubt in people's minds that she'd stoop to low levels to win, this ought to take care of it. She'll use magic words like disenfranchisement the same way BushCo uses words to mean something they do not - Patriot Act, Homeland-anything. Tonight, in FL, "I will do everything I can to make sure that not only are FL's delegates seated but that they are in the winning column..." "...I can..." is the money in this near lie, she has no power to do squat. I haven't liked Hillary's politics and opposed her on that basis, I now oppose her as a liar and a cheat. She has now claimed some kind of victory, it is now a resounding vote, it means a ... bunch? For someone who didn't campaign in Florida, there sure were a bunch of her campaign signs...

I will not vote for one of the ****s that the Republicans have in their field in November, I won't. But this woman will put an extreme stress on my Democratic loyalties. Oregon and a handful of others will keep me in the fold in that event, but I will tell you - that is a narrow margin. If you do not understand how alienating this last move of hers is to me, you have to understand that I worked my butt off for Kerry and I had real problems with him. If that's the choice, I'll mark her box and that is exactly the extent of it. Look at my bio if you don't think that's serious alienation.

I had sufficient problems with WJ Clinton, but small change for where I'm at with his wife. If you are a Democrat and vote for this person versus the other choices I have no idea why you claim that (D). If it is about feminism, let me ask if that is how you want professional women perceived? As only able to compete by playing to gender, poor me, and cheating? The offending words and strategy are hers, not the right wing noise machine or political rivals in the race, hers.

If this sounds like a rant, that is probably because it is, I am furious to be branded with the same (D) as someone who acts like this.

Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Union Address

The short and accurate version:

Outright lies, misrepresentation, Republican red meat, meaningless words, fear mongering.

US troops are good - we all agree - no reflected glory on George II.

You expected otherwise?

I watched so you wouldn't have to (not quite true - my wife wanted to see it). Still a major sacrifice on my part...

I threw nothing at the TV, yelling doesn't count.

Florida and Michigan

The states of Florida and Michigan decided through their legislatures to jump the Primary schedule in the face of DNC promises that they would not be seated. The DNC owns the Democratic Primary, period. No state owns it, they can do it several ways, the State Party can self finance a Primary, go with State financed, or self-finance caucuses. What they cannot do is violate DNC rules.

The Republican legislatures of Michigan and Florida convinced people that their states were too important to have to follow the rules and some Democrats went along. Either State Party could have opted out of the state financed Primary and either self-financed one or caucused. They followed the deluded Republican view, instead. The Democratic voters of those states were betrayed first by the Republicans and then by their own State Party; not the DNC.

Because presidential candidates actually know the score on who owns the Primaries, they all agreed to not campaign in those states because the DNC was not going to seat delegates chosen on the basis of an illegitimate Primary vote. This agreement is now broken.

Hillary has decided that her Clintonism is more important than the rules of the DNC, she has stated that she will have her delegates seat Michigan and Florida. This sort of behavior is one that I cannot abide. Breaking a deal without the assent and cooperation of the other parties in the deal is lying and cheating. It is despicable behavior, there is not another word for it. She can pretty it up as respecting their voting franchise, which is entirely inaccurate. Until the deadline for delegate selection these states are free to participate in caucusing, by DNC rules governing caucuses.

If you believe that the pursuit of the Democratic nomination justifies any sort of behavior what ever, you will have no problem with this. I have a huge problem with it and I am quite confident that the DNC will have huge problems with this idea of Hillary's. She may believe she holds a whip hand of some sort, I'm pretty confident that despite her pals in the DLC she has just walked right into a wall. My guess is that with its neutrality in Primaries, the DNC will have little to nothing to say, right up until it denies seats to the rule breakers and their delegates to the deal breaker.

this excerpted from comments and I want it up here:
Hi Chuck,

I'm actually not pro-Clinton at all, I'm pro-Michigan; see for details. I did read your post, and while I agree with your analysis that the DNC has the final say in seating delegates, I think that the way they chose delegates in this election disenfranchised Michigan voters such as myself, and so far Florida voters. A core component of a democratic process is "one person, one vote". By ignoring the votes of Michigan and Florida voters, the Democratic party used an process to select its nominee which was not a democratic process. As you say, they have every right to do this, but having a right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do, and here I think the Democratic party has made the wrong decision. As such, I think that anybody doing anything to oppose their un-democratic delegate selection process is doing a public service. While Clinton did not take any action at all until it would clearly benefit her, at least she is taking some action, and I feel that it's important to give her some credit for that.

It has nothing to do with the DNC, you can fix your mess if your state party will do so. You all had the opportunity and the warning well before you went ahead and broke the rules. If you want to get pissed, you have your Republican legislature first, then your State Party to blame.

Let me give you a simile:
you're in the bank, gun in the teller's face, cops at the door, and you say, "I've changed my mind, I want to make a deposit, not a withdrawal."

Your legislature broke the rules, your state party went along, you got caught (knowing it was breaking the rules from the start), now you want to go on as though nothing happened? Nope.

Our OR leg (Dem) was talking about jumping also, DPO (state) went nuts, leg quietly forgot it. We go May 5, most thought we'd not count at all. Yeah, we think we're important, we don't have squat delegates but the (D) does real well in our state.

In many ways MI is back home to me, I was mostly raised in OH, but all of my immediate family lives in N MI or Lansing area, I went to college at MTU in Houghton, I was born at U of M at Ann Arbor. My family has huge history in forestry, unions, GM clear back to founding, and other real interesting MI tid bits. You have my sympathy, to the extent that every vehicle (6) I own is Chevrolet, including 04 SSR. I buy American and I support Americans and I especially support the VOTE.

I don't support "I'm better than the rules everybody else has to play by." I am a construction contractor and every employee I've ever had was absolutely legal and paid more than my competition. I play by the rules or exceed the rules even when it hurts.

Hillary is a liar and a cheat and she's causing national problems over something that is a)none of her business, b)out of her hands entirely, c)fixable by those involved.

If you want to jump me when you're acknowledging my analysis, you should get familiar with the guy you're jumping, there are a bunch of tags on this site as well as archived posts on the side bar.

Cloture Vote on Protect America Act

The Senate voted 48-45 to invoke cloture (end debate) on the misnomered PAA, the Republicans missed by 12 votes the 60 required. Arlen Spector was the lone Republican Senator to vote Nay. Read that again, conservatives, the lone vote.

Now for the chicken hearted scared children not of the Republican persuasion (BushCoVian), we have 3 Democrats (they say) Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and David Pryor. If these people represent your state and you thought you elected Democrats, now you know.

Let's take a look at this, George II claimed immediate need for this bill in August 07, so it was passed as a sunsetting bill. If we didn't get the bill in August, we were going to be attacked, again. This has nothing to do with the actual FISA Act, which continues on, unchanged, and allows the government to gain a warrant from the Secret Court within 72 hours of an emergency wiretap. This one is a real mess, and at Republican's insistence includes immunity for the weasel telecoms. Bush has threatened to veto an extension of the current expiring Act that doesn't have immunity, so he'll take no Bill versus an extension. He's also made clear he'll veto one without immunity.

So the deal is, this hugely important absolutely necessary to national security bill can go in the waste basket if he doesn't get it now and it doesn't include immunity. Look out, the three year old in Chief just stamped his feet and threw himself on the floor. Immunity for telecoms that knowingly broke Federal Law (not to mention some State ones) is more important than the security of the United States of America. Either that or ATT is the USA. Nice to know where you stand with this Administration by their own words.

Everybody and their brother said the Democrats didn't have the nerve to go against cloture, seems they missed something. Some people have talked about reasonable Republicans, did they have anybody other than Spector in mind? This is a lame duck President, a bunch of them still have to run for election but they threw their lot with George II. Does somebody still want to argue with me about the necessity of burying these pricks?

Republicans and the Presidency

Captain Ed has issued his endorsement, but first he had trouble with it:

...I have seen the field as a collection of highly accomplished, experienced candidates, almost all of whom I could support -- enthusiastically -- in a general election.
Mitt. No, really, Mitt...ahahahahahaha. I guess you have to have a certain point of view to appreciate the Republican candidates who attempt to out do each other at out doing Bush at being Bush without ever mentioning Bush. OK, now, they run like scalded dogs from his name, but - more Iraq for longer, more tax cuts, less spending (Iraq ? ), more phony god-talk, more god in government, more Democratic demonization - and it's all new. You know the line, "all new and improved," damn. Change.

No kidding, I'd like to see a respectable GOP, one that is a responsible opposition Party or governing Party. I believe the last dozen years demonstrate the problems with an unrestrained party and Democrats can look back a ways and see some of their own. The thing about this idea is that what now constitutes the Republican Party is something other than respectable or responsible. The next election is not going to improve matters, the "moderate" Republicans are quitting or are going to get handed their heads in 08, the ones left standing will be the noxious ones we've grown to love. Look at the results of 06 for illumination.

Captain Ed is supposed to be some sort of responsible Republican blogger, I don't see anything other than a reflection of the bunch that's gotten us here. His selection of Mitt should say something to you, he likes him, he's not quite conservative enough to suit, but he'll sure do fine. I'm pretty sure ole Cap has read Mitt's stuff, he'll lead the country down the same rabbit hole BushCo went down.

Some of my pals have been bruiting about the idea that Obama will transform the Republican Party by drawing Independents and moderate Republicans (Reagan Democrats -cough). I'm not going to deny the vote getting, though I think it a tad over optimistic in scale, but the reform part plumb evades me. I live in Rep. Greg Walden's OR - 2CD and having run for a shot at him I know something about it. No ordinary Democrat is even going to make Greg spend much money (he's got lots) much less threaten him and though Greg is a Bushman - Waldenbush - he's mild compared to a lot of safe Republicans and they have exactly no interest in being reasonable with Democrats. The good of the nation is secondary to their Party loyalty. They are the safe ones, the ones that will be back for President 44. Their constituents are not unhappy with them, that's why they're still there doing the same things after 06.

Yes, I'd like some uplifting rhetoric from a President rather than the language mangling platitudes of fear evoked by the current resident of the White House, but I expect ass kicking to go with it. I want the Party of fear, hate, and greed hung out for general exposure, objects of disdain and ridicule. I want them broken on the wheel of justice and decency in front of the American public. Now, that's not nice polite talk that'll do it. I want Republicans to understand that they can put up a Party that is interested in the good of the nation as a whole or get pilloried. You do not pet Rep Boehner, you bury him and his ilk.

This country has walked off a precipice with this President and undoing his damage is going to meet fierce resistance from the haters and greed heads. It is going to be nasty in DC with a Democratic president, and no amount of nice talk will change that. So far, Obama has shown he can handle Billary, but they're a different deal from the bunch that'll be in opposition in DC. Obama's supporters are fooling themselves if they think he won't need an iron fist in DC. Keeping the Democrats in some kind of order is going to be tough enough, the Republicans will hate him. Not oppose, hate.

If you think I'm fooling, look at Cap'n Ed and his idea of politics, much less the Red State's or the Malkin's ideas. How do you make a sneer in print - Mitt

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reid Talks Tough ?

Maybe; at the National Press Club in a speech previewing the State of the Union speech Harry Reid said,

"The president has to make a decision. He's either going to extend the law, or he will...which is temporary in nature, or there will be no wiretapping.

We have worked very hard to try to come up with a way to proceed on this but it's up to the President. The amendments that were offered in the Senate ... they would have passed. The majority of the senate favored these amendments.

They refused to allow us to vote on what we call "Title 1' which is a procedural aspect of this, and then they never even dreamed of our going to the second part, which is the retroactive immunity. Which is...there is real controversy over that and there should be a vote in the United States Senate as to whether or not there should be retroactive immunity. They won't give us one.

So again, it's up to the president. He can either continue the present law for an extended period of time, we would agree to two weeks, we would agree to a month, and we would agree to a longer period of time than that.

But it is up to the president. Does he want the law? It's up to him.

If it fails, he can give all the speeches he wants, including the State of the Union, about how we've stopped things, if he does that, it's disingenuous, and it's not true."

Reid has said he opposes retroactive immunity for telecoms, this speech has some of the red meat Democrats would want to hear, the question is what happens on the Senate floor. Those who are so hot on the idea that this FISA update will keep us safe need to answer the question, is it about telecoms or wiretaps? It is important to note that not all telecoms went along with this nonsense, Qwest was one, so it isn't like the ones who did couldn't have refused and aren't without culpability. What promises the Administration made to them may be informative.

Hillary's NYT Endorsement

You've probably heard about it, you can read it here if you don't have anything better to do with your time (like hit yourself with a hammer?). It is after all, the New York Times, home of gun control propaganda and corporatism (in moderation versus their gun loonyism). Maybe Hillary is a great NY senator, maybe not. Her vote for the Iraq War doesn't speak well for her grasp of the power hungry or resistance to media pressure, her refusal to take any responsibility for it beyond, I wouldn't do it again, speaks volumes to her character. She has grubbed efficiently at the pork trough for NY, maybe that's what the NYT is impressed by, though in the center of the financial quagmire, I'd bet it was the Yea vote on the Bankruptcy Bill. You see, the beneficiaries of that little move buy ads in the NYT, run The Street, and are generally the NYT's sort of folks.

After down playing her "experience" they turn right around and applaud it, she does have six more years as a Senator than Barak, but the wifey thing is wearing thin. Elected experience involves being elected, not married. Are you going to hire my wife to build your home on the basis of 19 years of being married to a 30 year construction guy? After all, she's been interested and visited a lot of jobsites and heard a lot about it. I love her, but I won't give her a recommendation, or Hillary either - not on that basis.

What does Hillary have, take away Bill, to recommend her? This is a valid question, she wasn't Mrs President, she was Bill's wife. She had lots of access to the media, so has Brittany, much to our illumination. No kidding, all that access and what we have is a candidate loathed by Republicans and right leaning Indies, some of these people would trample their grandmother to vote against her. I don't dislike her for their reasons, mostly trumped up nonsense, I dislike her because she'd make a perfectly good "moderate" Republican. (there used to be such an animal - really it's not mythology) If you dislike George II's authoritarianism regarding the Bill of Rights and torture and Habeas Corpus, you might stop to think about her's regarding the 2nd Amendment, a perfectly valid part of the Bill of Rights. You expect that mindset to see a difference? It is after all, a matter of security, you're scared so the BOR can go hang under Clinton II.

Hillary talks about the poor, it is odd to see that she doesn't care to do much of anything to sort out the labor glut in blue collar jobs driving wages into the toilet. There are more sources of grief than just illegal hiring, but it is the most egregious offense and most directly addressable without starting a trade war. None of the Democrats are worth spit on this question, but she is truly bad, the beneficiaries are big money, not wage earners.

The idea that she's been tested by criticism and triumphed isn't exactly demonstrated by her campaign regarding Obama, much less John Edwards with whom she's had considerable trouble moving beyond just plain shrillness. Now the way to beat Obama isn't to play nasty games and attacks, that just ratchets up the rhetoric, policy can do what name calling can't. Trying to drag Obama down into "just another politician," might look good in a strategy meeting, but it won't win voters over to her side. Showing that Barak's charisma has no beneficial outcome to voters is a better approach, it is also cool headed and deliberate, which she has not shown. C'mon, "I'm the veteran" only plays if you demonstrate coolness under fire and what she's shown has been desperation and fear. Any political opponent is fair game, but how you do it is a measure of yourself and winning a Primary isn't the whole game, it's not over. Winning ugly may be a win, but it's also not the war and the term Pyrrhic victory has meaning.

I understand that only the fact of the Republican candidates could get me to vote for Hillary in November. That's me, voters need to look at their candidate without rose colored lenses, as actual political candidates. Finding out who the candidate stands for, what they stand for, not pretty talk and husbands. I cannot imagine what philosophical gymnastics the NYT had to perform to get to the Hillary endorsement, but they've proved truly supple previously.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wiretapping, BushCo, Now What?

If you haven't been living in a cave, you know that there's been a dust up over wiretapping. In August the Congress extended the FISA reform extension allowing the Administration to wiretap without warrants foreign communications suspected of being terrorism related. The mess the Republicans and BushCo want passed is called Protect America Act, another nice sounding name that doesn't reflect reality. The idea is to permanently allow unregulated wiretapping of calls with an international endpoint and to grant immunity to telecoms that cooperated with the Administration's unlawful wiretapping, including domestic connections. Understand that while the BushCo was engaging in this prohibited behavior they had access to a secret federal court, FISA, that would grant temporary emergency permission without review and that authority still exists. The cooperating telecoms, Qwest did not, were not presented with warrants and you'd be hard pressed to find someone in telecommunications that doesn't know about wiretapping and warrants. BushCo seems to believe it can do whatever it wishes whenever it wishes and its Quislings bear no responsibility.

Dick Cheney got up in front of The Heritage Foundation today and called on Congress to pass the Act before its February 1 expiration, to pass it with no sunset provision and with immunity for their telecom buddies. The problem is that the House passed HR3773 last year without immunity and a December 2009 expiration. "There is no sound reason to pass critical legislation like the Protect America Act and slap an expiration date on it," Cheney said. "The challenge to the country has not expired over the last six months. It won't expire any time soon, and we should not write laws that pretend otherwise."
With the law due to expire in nine days, Cheney said, "we're reminding Congress they must act now to modernize" the 1978 FISA Act.

Harry Reid asked the White House to back a 30 day extension since there is little time to reconcile a Senate version and the House. Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader objects, he says there's plenty of time to get a bill "out of the Senate and to the House in a form the president will sign," he said. "Nothing is more important to protecting the homeland than getting this done and getting it done properly." The next time I hear "the homeland" out of one of this authoritarian nits I want to see someone toss up a Nazi salute. Homeland is not a magic word allowing just any kind of behavior.

Now Reid is also under some criticism, he says he is opposed to granting immunity to telecoms, but there are two competing Senate bills, one from JD Rockefeller IV (D-WV)'s Intelligence Committee with immunity and one from P Leahy (D-VT)'s Judiciary Committee that leaves it out. His decision to allow an initial vote on the Intelligence Bill has angered opponents of immunity, “If Senator Reid wanted to win, he would have put the judiciary vote on the floor first,” Caroline Frederickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said. “It seems as if he wants to lose.” “Senator Reid intends to do everything he can to strip immunity from the bill,” Jim Manley, a Reid spokesman said.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-MO), the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday, “To stall legislation needed to help our intelligence community prevent attacks and protect American lives is not only irresponsible, it’s also dangerous.” Seems they're in a big rush, but Kenneth L. Wainstein, assistant attorney general for national security, said in an interview that if the August bill was allowed to expire in 10 days, intelligence officials would still be able to continue eavesdropping on already approved targets for another year under the law. They might however have to revert to the more restrictive rules of pre-August for new suspects. I don't believe anything more permissive than the '78 FISA rules are needed or good for this nation. I cannot understand how wriggling toward authoritarianism is good for the nation or leads to preservation of American values. It is another step in the direction of our foe's ideology. Tyranny is just that, whether the ideology is theocratic Islam or BushCo-ism.

Just a little update to think on, this wire tapping bill that is so important to BushCo will get vetoed if it doesn't contain immunity. If immunity trumps national security issues then what is the real deal? What might come out in a suit besides telecom money? These are rat bastards of the first order.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Today showed 7100 impressions of the previous post, "Now A Presidential Stimulus?" That is more than they've ever shown my blog headlines, and some were considerably more 'polite' writing. You can find it at .

Reuters doesn't take any responsibility for blog writer's opinions,which are provided by Blogburst. I have picked up some readers, particularly international, from the Blogburst publications, but I have not noticed that the areas I write in attract a lot of blog interest. It is my understanding that gadget and sport interest blogs do a better hit rate. It sure is encouraging to have my "headline" seen 7100 times in a day.

Now A Presidential Stimulus ?

Just the other day George II quit talking about how good the economy is and said a stimulus is needed. In fact the stimulus needed is "direct and rapid." (Go ahead and make jokes) Maybe a stimulus is needed now that things are going south for those with big bucks in the stock market.

Just as a measure of how some things seem to miss the CiC, lets take a look at some US Bureau of Census figures for a couple segments of the economy, like the second one fifth from the bottom and the bottom of the top 5%, and note, this has nothing to do with extremes. In 1984 in 2006 dollars the second 1/5th earned $32,863 and the bottom of the top 5% earned $126,610. In 2006 in 2006 dollars the number are 37,774 and $174,012 the changes respectively are, $4,911 and $47,402 which means an increase of 14.9% and 37.4%. I suppose you think I ought to give George a break and only use numbers he could reasonably have some responsibility for, like 2001 to 2006? Ok, sure. 2001 2nd 1/5th $37,940 and bottom of top 5% $171,395 so the differences are -$166 and $2617 or -0.5% and 1.5% so at an upper middle class you've stayed close to the game with BushCo, blue collar, you've sucked.

2003-2004 were pretty tough, in the 2nd 1/5th you lost $260 and in the bottom of top 5% you lost $1,190 but in the average of the top 1% of after tax income you went from $572,000 to $620,700 or +8.5%. You're still not talking about George II's pals, the top 0.1%, they did nicely in 2003-4 to the tune of 9.5% while their tax rates fell by 3.4% while the bottom 80% experienced a drop of 0.3%. For perspective, this top 0.1% had more income than the bottom 33% of taxpayers a group 330 times as large. In 1979 the bottom third's income exceeded the top 0.1% by 2.5:1.

Dow Jones average on 12/24/07 was about 13,500 on 1/18/08 about 12,100 or 10%. That's a chunk of change for those in the top 0.1% of tax payers. 1/14-18/08 was the big drop, 700 points, about half the loss or 5% and nearly 5.5% in those days. Reflect on the wages of the 2nd 1/5th during BushCo, the income of the top 0.1%, and who lost when George II started talking about something other than a good economy. It became something worthy of "direct and rapid" stimulus only the other day. If you work for a living you may have noticed direct and rapid stimulus during his Administration - if you were bent over.

If you'd like to compare the Reagan years, you'd find 1976-81 interesting, for the same groups,
'76 $31,721 and '81 $31,907 or +0.6% and bottom of top 5% $110,250 to $117,419 or +6.5%. (sorry, I don't have 0.1%) Tinkledown economics at its finest.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ronald Reagan, Agent of Change

Excuse me while I foam at the mouth. Ronald Reagan made some changes all right, while you're thinking about change, you might think about what changes you like. Charming Hollywood almost involved Presidential change isn't what I'd call greatness. The ability to charm people while you're actively screwing them isn't something I admire.

James Watt, was Ronnie's first Secretary of the Interior, advocate of slash and burn forestry and unrestricted mining. If BushCo's Secretary of Interior Gail Norton is on your fan list, consider that she was Watt's protege at Mountain State's Legal Foundation a conservative reactionary arm of the natural resources industries. Even Republicans opposed Watt, and the West suffered for his policies. Much of the over-reaction of environmentalists today is a direct result of Watt. Backlash from the obvious abuse of the environment has resulted in the unending lawsuits plaguing even reasonable forest management today. Maybe it would be piling on to mention his 1996 conviction of attempting to sway a grand jury in the '80s resulting in 5 years probation and a fine...some change.

The air traffic controllers' strike and subsequent union busting by Reagan was the beginning of government harassment of unions and the decline of union power. The slide in blue collar wages dates to Ronnie Reagan, from several sources. Reagan's amnesty of illegal immigrants cued up the blitz of illegal entries, showed business it had nothing to fear from the unenforced Federal laws regarding hiring, and pulled the unions out of the market of pulling up non-union wages.

Ronnie Reagan proved that deficits don't matter to Republicans as he presided over the largest Federal deficit to that date. Republicans tend to try to blame the Democratic legislature, though the veto was available even then. What Ronnie did do was begin the Republican tendency to hand tax breaks to the plutocrats whether the government could afford them or not.

The absolute boondoggle of Star Wars missile defence system is a remnant of the Reagan defence budget, the idea being that it is reasonable to try to shoot down a fly with a rifle. Despite being blocked repeatedly it keeps showing up in Republican administrations. For some obscure reason Republicans claim credit for Ronnie ending the Soviet Union, evidently something ending in his administration is reason enough. This despite over many years most economists, Democrats, and Republicans taking the stance that communism would eat itself economically. Calling something the Evil Empire scarcely breaks it.

The tough talk of Ronnie doesn't seem to have been backed up by any sort of action, we got the cowboy movie star heated rhetoric without any teeth. The identity and location of the group responsible for the truck bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon was known. The definitive action taken was the withdrawal of US troops. The arming of the Afghan jihadis was undertaken with no vetting of their stances, simply opposition to the Soviets was sufficient.

The list of Reagan administration malfunctions from Iran Contra through the gross influence peddling, bribery, fraud, illegal lobbying and sundry abuses that engulfed the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon, to name a few of the most notorious cases. The Reagan quote,"Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem," ought to be the defining statement regarding his administration, though it seems BushCo has taken it to new lengths. In his 1991 book "Sleepwalking Through History: America in the Reagan Years," journalist Haynes Johnson came up with an unflattering statistic: "By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been convicted, had been indicted, or had been the subject of official investigations for official misconduct and/or criminal violations."

Reagan said as he signed the Savings and Loan deregulation bill, "All in all, I think we've hit the jackpot." Some jackpot, the estimated costs of that piece of work is $1 trillion. Just get government out of the way, was the Reagan mantra. Sound real familiar today?

When a Democratic politician calls Reagan an agent of change, my head explodes. It is not an agent of change who turns the clock back to the deficit of the American people. George II has augmented the reversals of the progress of the general citizen of the US, but it was Ronnie Reagan who started the decline. I don't care if the politician is Barak Obama or Joe Blow, it is a load of hogwash promulgated for the benefit of the ignorant and Republican leaning. Thanks, but I'll take somebody who talks like and acts like a Democrat.

Fine, make this mean something else:

Obama. "He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing." Sure, Ronnie's my hero, too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Right To Vote And The Right To Political Speech

The Supreme Court is hearing the case regarding Indiana's voter ID law, and the NYT's Editorial Observer feels confused. Earlier this year the Supremes struck down the section of the McCain Feingold campaign financing bill that limited 527's attack ads in the last couple days of an election and shows signs of upholding Indiana's law. Adam Cohen notes that when it comes to corporate and wealth speech the Court rules the Constitution “requires us to err on the side of protecting political speech rather than suppressing it,” and yet in a case where no evident pattern of voter fraud exists John Roberts says it is no great concern since the trip is not “very far” to travel 17 miles by bus to a clerks office to fight over whether a vote is valid.

No, in John's world 17 miles isn't much, and anyhow, nobody would challenge his vote. The right to vote has been under sustained attack since 2000 in Republican dominated states and, once BushCo got the Justice Dept straightened out, at the Federal level. These are the same people who cheer lead foreign democracy, trying hard to eradicate it at home. Be under no illusion that I think restrictions on speech regarding money are in danger - or should be. But also understand that efforts to disenfranchise voters infuriate me no end. There is little doubt that as groups both the young and the poor have rotten rates of participation, any action to further discourage their participation means that this government will less reflect the reality of its citizenry than it does now.

The domination of political discourse by corporate interests and wealth is largely the fault of the citizenry, it takes a desperate level of poverty to not be able to afford a $20 political contribution. That $20-200 contribution made by the percentage who do not now contribute anything would equalize or overwhelm most other sources. It is the one way an ordinary citizen can make their political will felt - if they avail themselves of it. In Oregon you get a straight up tax credit matching up to $50 in political contributions. Even if you're pretty poor, and you pay at least $50 in state income taxes, you can send it to the political cause of you choice instead of the State, it's gone either way... The truly egalitarian part of it is that the number is that low, the state is encouraging lesser incomes to participate rather than rewarding participation by wealth. The point is that it is not an action of the government that creates speech primarily for the wealthy, it is abdication by the rest of us. Not so with voter disenfranchisement, that is a direct action of the state.

The idea that the state needs more power and reach is ludicrous. The citizen, minus great personal wealth, is already out gunned and over manned by the state. The citizen does not have fleets of lawyers and troops of investigators, he has himself. The mechanics of voting are already in the state's hands and the advantage lies with the state's incumbents, the citizen is at the lowest level of power, despite all the rhetoric denying it. There are - or were - some hamstringing qualifiers on the state, the BOR and following Amendments along with some Constitutional directives. For the Supreme Court to question the right to an unencumbered vote, much less rule against it is elitism at its very worst and contrary to the spirit of democracy of the latter half of the 20th Century. It is also counter to the need for a government reflective of its own citizenry, one of the overarching arguments for the Revolution. The tenor of the questions posed by the Court make me fearful for our State.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Change Campaign Mantra

Change. Change. Change. You now see every candidate using the word. It is, apparently, a big meaningful word. Change. Mitt Romney uses it, so it must mean something. You might be thinking it means more than changing the initials of the people or party occupying the White House and Congress, you might. You might be really deluded, also. Oh, heck; maybe you mean it.

The thing of it is, that it is not what America wants.

Let me repeat that, it is not what America wants. I have empirical data to back up that assertion. It is called votes and polling. Not rhetoric, not partisanship, those numbers.

Here's the deal, let's forget the Republicans, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee might actually mean it, in some odd way, but I'm not inclined in either of their directions. When Mitt says it, he does mean the initials on the stationary.

Democrats. These folks are supposed to be all about change, '06 elections, big swings in general voter preferences, hogwash. Change is not what is desired, security is. Not the Guiliani security, though it's a factor, the warm blanket momma's soothing tones security. Return to the '90s with Hillary, the soothing dulcet tones of the Democratic middle right black man. Change in gender or race, just don't rock the boat change. The voting records and public statements of both are on record, and the record stinks if you're expecting change that isn't cosmetic. Take a look for political risk taking in the Senate, see any? Oh sure, the risk of offending left Democrats was taken, you know, Patriot Act, FISA, Credit, Betrayus Ad, go ahead, read and weep. There are your front runners. Indistinguishable on domestic and economic issues, possibly a bit different on foreign policy bellicosity. Oh, guns. Two of the most ardent gun banners in Congress. Are you too simple minded to miss the connection between perceived security, BushCo's infringements, and infringing the Second? Maybe it's not your favorite, well, it still is there, like it or not, it is #2 in the Bill of Rights.

Look, liberty is a risky dangerous proposal, letting people speak their minds, a press that can do it, and worship whom they want, odd ideas in the safety game. Oh it gets considerably worse, you have to have your day in court, the government is really constrained in how it can search and what it can take. Blah, blah, blah. No it's not. It was, once upon a time. But at that time it was an ordinary part of life to have risks involved in living in this country, now we're safe. Well, no, not yet, but we could be if... Utter nonsense, we can succeed in putting our necks under the government wheel, we can cede liberty sufficiently that the plutocratic masters cannot be made to answer, but it will still be dangerous out there - you'll just have added the government to your problems.

Change, sure. If change had anything to do with this election the inoffensively mildly left of center John Edwards would be sweeping this Primary and Dennis Kucinich would be the one giving him trouble and Hillary and Obama would be footnotes. Not so. Kucinich is way out of sight and Edwards is headed for footnote-hood. The Clibama votes are such mirror images that the debate devolves into faux experience and who is blackest, there's nothing else there to fight over - oh my, I forgot kindergarten. There is one Senator's Iraq vote, compared with the blank checks both have voted for - I'm seriously underwhelmed.

I'm sorry, but judging from the polling and the current votes, the two thirds of the Democratic Party are pussies. Yes, mewling kittens, no tigers to be found. Not a shark, not a wolf, not a grizzly to be found in that 2/3rds. The status quo in economics, and roll over at the first politically risky item is the mantra. Look at the goddam votes when it counted. Look at the votes and look at the Republican votes, a nice match. Big changes are on the way.

Does all this make me a big Edwards partisan? Not hardly, he can't more than mutter single payer not for profit health care. He whispers media de-consolidation. He never says confiscatory economic rape taxes. He just barely gets out "class warfare," he's about as mild in change as I can even begin to stomach. No, I'm no hard core Edwards guy; but he does actually propose change. Sure, Clibama is considerably less offensive than the least offensive Republican, but I'm pretty tired of voting for least offensive, I'd hoped John Kerry would be the end of that. Nope.

Sure, I'll vote for Edwards on Oregon's May 5th, whether he's still in the race or not. I'm a Democrat and I'll vote for one in the Primary, absolutely will. After that, I'll probably wind up voting for a faux-Democrat, a socially acceptable fear assuaging same old same old. The reality check of this Primary is pretty hard to swallow, somehow I had the idea that 20 years in the wilderness gave the Democrats something to think about - apparently it just made them afraid of their own shadows. I wonder just how scared the electorate has to get before their fear of going ahead is overwhelmed.

I watch people I know to be flaming liberals lining up behind the candidates of sameness and I hear them spout, "Change." I am sorely disappointed, I have some differences with these folks, but nothing nearly as serious as I have with their candidates. That leaves me flummoxed, yes flummoxed. These folks are ardent supporters, not lukewarm settle for supporters. It is not as though there are no other choices to be made, real enthusiasm for candidates who do not in the least reflect their political views. Odd? No, it really isn't odd, it is safe or it feels right, it certainly is not a matter of cold-blooded rationality. It is not rational to see a Democrat vote for a credit card lobby written bill and not grab your head to keep it from exploding. It is not rational it is something else. In a rational world a large chunk of the Republican Party would vote for Clibama, and as a Democrat I find that offensive, we ought to at least spook those folks if not offend them. Sure, they'll be scared and offensive but it will be manufactured out of non-existent RNC framing.

I seem to remember a bunch of teeth gnashing about the spineless Democratic Congress, well look who we're going to run for President. How quickly we forget, a magic name and some high falutin' rhetoric and all is forgiven, we'll have our change. Small change, nickle and dime, pathetic to settle for so little and call it something.

There's not much point in whining about the media, or big money in campaigns, or how the elite always wins no matter, because the simple matter is that it's not that, it us/US. The problem lies with the scared us, the voter. We have choices and we choose what is least in our interests in the name of emotional comfort. I'm sorry John Edwards, you thought people cared, you thought they were fed up, you thought economic justice and representational politics were an issue, you missed the need for thumb sucking, it trumps your stuff. Change ain't a blowin in the wind, it just plain got blown.

Friday, January 11, 2008

New Links

Jon Swift's post Best Blog Posts of '07... is a list of self selected posts by the non-A list blogs on Jon's Blogroll. He reminds us that Feb 3 is the one year anniversary of the blogletting of the A listers of their non-A listers on their blogrolls, leading to his and Skippy's inclusive blogrolling policy. Most of the posters featured in his "Best" are very non-A listers but there is some really good stuff out there in that category.

To that end I read the "Best" pieces from these bloggers and then their current home page and selected some that I believed my readers would like. This isn't an approval or critique of blogs, it is just my judgement that my readers would like the ones I chose. You will find them in my Blogroll with their names starting in * which groups them for your convenience. After awhile I'll remove the asterisk and they'll appear in ordinary alphabetical order. Meanwhile, please justify my time and energy by checking these folks out, and justify Jon's faith in the non-A list. Leave them a comment so they know why you came by.

Third Party Independent

Michael Bloomberg keeps flirting with running for President. Boy, here's a dream candidate, a gun banning fanatic, autocratic, billionaire Party of convenience swapping NYC mayor champion of sweet non-partisan politics. Here's a guy with soooooo much in common with America. What unrepresented interest is it he claims?

Third party candidacies are usually either personality driven or narrow interest driven. Both have real problems for serious runs, and that is more than just the lack of an established structure in all 50 states. Personality campaigns have no broad appeal beyond the persona of the candidate, people who don't care one way or the other have no ideological hook to hang their hat on and faced with the prospect of no party loyalty if elected most voters will turn to the "trusted" Parties. Narrow interest third parties wind up in that position because the major parties have staked out most territory on issues and the ones ignored or rejected by a Party don't leave much room for voters. Despite the size of the non-affiliated voter group, they are a distinctly non-monolithic group. They are NAVs because no party can represent them, only appeal to slices of them. The range of ideology is immense, people too far right or left to fit the Parties, people with single issues driving them from their natural party (think about conservative gay), or people who simply don't like machines. Trying to fit into this group is beyond difficult, it is flatly impossible to do with any consistency of ideology or policies.

Whomever wins the respective nominations will not be inclusive of all of the registered voters of that Party, but that may be a far larger difficulty for Republicans than Democrats. A Democrat opposed to a Hillary as nominee is not likely to find anything more appealing in a third party and will have no problem preferring her over the Republican nominee. Short of a Kucinich nomination, there just isn't much of anything there to drive Democrats away. The Republicans have a larger problem with a theocratic, fiscal, libertarian split already evident, and of some moment to that Party. Now having a viable Primary candidate the theocratic wing will not be pleased by not winning, the fiscal side will not willingly cede its leadership, and the libertarians are sick of infringed civil liberties, but none are good fodder for a real third party. Libertarians simply have small appeal outside their insular group, theocrats offend anyone not of their particular bent, and the fiscal (plutocratic) wing of Republicans have nowhere to go with a third party - whom among Democrats or NAVs find themselves winners under their leadership?

Bloomberg has a whole lot of ego, his illegal interference in other State's affairs don't make him seem like a real hands-off sort of guy regarding civil liberties and state's rights. He's shown no national experience or exposure beyond his Presidential posturing and involvement with the now broke Unity 08. While there is sufficient difference between the top three Democrats to incite some pretty strong feelings, none of them are wedge candidates set to split off pieces of the party. Hillary and Obama's anti-Second Amendment stances aren't going to help them with that group, but Michael Bloomberg is considerably worse and the Republicans are flat out offensive to most Democrats.

It might be possible to create a third Party that made civil liberties, liberal social views, and fiscal conservatism a corner stone and poach the center Democrats, center Republicans, and some NAVs, but Bloomberg sure isn't the guy and that is also a decades long process. The problem with such a party is keeping control of all those competing agendas as a unitary vision. Neither established Party managed that. At one point a conservative Republican would never think of messing about in personal affairs and at one point no Democrat would have tried gun banning or deficit hawkdom. A liberal social view is not conducive to opposition to universal health care but fiscal conservancy is. That tension would be difficult to control and keep that new third party from becoming just what the other Parties are.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bitter Partisanship

There's a mantra going around the elections and media that bitter partisanship has caused us endless difficulties. Candidates or erstwhile candidates accuse all concerned of putting partisanship before public good. I would be one of the first to admit that partisanship started getting real bitter in the 90s, Gingritch followed by Tommy DeLay elevated nastiness to ordinary business where Democrats were concerned. Following George II's election we had the elevation of Rovian politics, everywhere all the time, especially in previously off limits sections of government.

The Clinton tax bill that began progress on balancing the Federal budget went, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department has been turned into a sub-section of the RNC, civil liberties including Habeas Corpus have been abridged, there has been a near constant effort to marginalize gays, overthrow choice in abortion, and religion openly government funded. Draconian economic measures have been instituted, Unions hamstrung, and wages crushed by out and in sourcing. Political opponents of the war branded traitors and weak on terror. A constant drumbeat of fear has been maintained, voters summarily disenfranchised, elections cast into doubt. This is on one side of the equation, the Republican side. The Democratic congressional caucus is universally derided as spineless, by friend and foe.

And so, we're treated to the spectacle of a billionaire authoritarian mayor and bunch of whiners getting together to play at a third party on the basis of bitter partisanship. A Democratic Presidential candidate talks about bitter partisanship. The, for god's sake, media parrots this nonsense, the people who rolled over for BushCo on the run up to the war in Iraq, who became that Administration's propaganda mouthpiece in fear of the traitor label, who as victims of the bitter nasty rhetoric of the Republican Party now repeat this garbage.

Yes, there has been Democratic opposition to racist theocratic nut case Federal appointments, some. Yes, a Gay Marriage Amendment to the Constitution was blocked. We're nearing the end of the list of "bitter partisanship" accomplishments of the Democrats. Take a look at the voting record of the proponents of a "cure" for this bitter partisanship. In many cases they've enabled the strangulation of the Bill of Rights and other basic law and voted for the economic destruction of the worker. They propose that they have a solution?

You will excuse the heck out of me if I don't buy in. If you voted for the Military Commissions Act or the Patriot Act or the FISA Repair Act as a Democrat or even moderate Republican you deserve the scorn of every American citizen. If you voted for the Bankruptcy Bill or the Credit Reform Act you deserve the scorn of every worker. If you voted for the Bush Tax Bill you deserve the scorn of everyone not a multi-millionaire. In fact if you weren't strongly in opposition over the last twenty years you have no right to the (D) after your name, if you did not fight tooth and nail for the ordinary American and helped crush his rights and his economic standing you deserve scorn and rude treatment. Perhaps you do not understand that a foot on the neck is an act of war. The class war the Republicans deride and engage in at every opportunity.

Sure, it was nice when Congressmen could have floor debates and then have dinner and drinks and friendly relations, that gets pretty tough to do when your opponent is calling you a traitor, an enemy enabler, and other nasty names - in public, with the complete encouragement of their Party, their Administration, and their media lackeys. When the hand reached across the aisle contains a poison pin you get reluctant to take it. Does anybody remember the Nuclear Option when that Party was trying to ram through the most offensive possible candidates for appointments? Opposition to this is bitter partisanship?

Bitter partisanship would involve trying to jail or hang these people - or just shoot them down like foaming curs - but that isn't what's happened. They've not been censored or impeached or otherwise really interfered with. A publication that prints an ad with "Betrayus" in it is censored in Congress, the Vice-President is free to swear at and denigrate as traitors his opposition. Every Congressional investigation that touches on blatantly illegal or unethical behavior is blocked by Executive Principle and doesn't go to Federal Court or the Sargent At Arms marshals, nope, it just languishes - politely.

You proponents of the phrase bitter partisanship must mean something by bipartisanship more along the lines of just give the Republicans whatever they want. You do not mean find a middle way, the middle way is what is repeatedly attacked by the other side. They will not accept middle, they will accept only what they want; despite the overwhelming majority of Americans not wanting it. The Ben-gay bunch out in Oklahoma can shove their idea of bipartisan sideways some place. The rightwing neocon-theo-nut agenda is not the middle, it doesn't even look at the middle and the left not going along isn't bitter partisanship, it is only sense in operation. If the Democratic Party was holding out for my lefty vision you could call it serious partisanship of a Democratic nature, but even I'm not doing that.

I am astonished and disappointed that the Voter seems to be falling for this garbage, that their memory is so short that they give this even passing thought, much less a vote. There are a handful of Democratic legislators in Washington DC that are worth spit, it would be worth the time of the Voter to take a look and see who stands for exactly what. If you vote for or against someone based on gender or race or religion or ancestry rather than where they stand in this mess, you've engaged in truly stupid behavior and you deserve the results the rest of us have to live with.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Hampshire And So, Where Are We Now?

At 92% we have Clinton 39%, Obama 36%, Edwards 17%, Richardson 5% and there doesn't seem to be any shift trend. I have a hard time getting much from a 3% margin in a state as small as NH, it just isn't that many votes and virtually meaningless for delegate apportioning. It seems to have great meaning to the media, Hillary is now a come back phenom. Polling is looking stupid as an evaluator, one week ago she was the lock, a few days ago she was history, and now a narrow victory. If it has meaning regarding Obama, it is that she ain't dead.

With this miserable finish something is malfunctioning for Edwards, and it isn't just the media neglect. I'm not sure what it is. There ought to be some connection with his message, an awful lot of people are not doing all that well out of this economy.

Where did Obama's campaign go wrong? Maybe it didn't so much go wrong as Indie votes went on the Republican side. Media has sent that message, that McCain got their votes. If that has anything to do with reality, those voters would never have considered Obama, so Indie analysis was all wet to start with - in NH. Really, it's only a few votes from a dead heat in a state that's a bit different from the rest of the US.

Hillary is not going to suffer big defeats as long as the "experience" card works, people buy that nonsense as a) true and b) meaningful. The truth of the experience mantra is that she has no more elected experience than Obama and as an activist less than Obama or Edwards (yes, trial work counts for something). If it were meaningful in a real context, she should have gotten out when Richardson got in - she's an absolute amateur next to him. As a President, in coming experience has not proved to be of any particular use, in fact. We've had good and bad "amateurs." Lincoln stands out as great with little experience in office and there's nothing polite to be said for GeorgeII.

Voters are an odd lot, what sells often has nothing to do with their own interests. I am willing to state plainly that the economic elite is not going to get shoved away from the table; what the fight really is about is how many and what sized crumbs they let fall from their table. One tenth of one percent of the population controls 90% of the economy, they get 90% of what this economy makes in a year and 99.9% of us get to fight over that remaining 10%. In even simpler terms, that 0.1% make more in one year than the entire bottom 30% make in that same year. Thirty million wage earners make less than three hundred thousand capitalists, that's a heck of a lot of zeros, folks. Here's a news flash, it hasn't been this way since the days of the Robber Barons, and it's nearing being worse now, than then. So, if you're not one of those folks or darn near one, what should your vote be about? If everything else is nearly even, who speaks to that?

Just how bad is it? Here's the "right" side of the vote on S 256 "Bankruptcy Bill"

NAYs ---25
Akaka (D-HI) Boxer (D-CA) Cantwell (D-WA) Corzine (D-NJ) Dayton (D-MN) Dodd (D-CT) Dorgan (D-ND) Durbin (D-IL) Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA) Harkin (D-IA) Kennedy (D-MA) Kerry (D-MA) Lautenberg (D-NJ) Leahy (D-VT) Levin (D-MI) Lieberman (D-CT) Mikulski (D-MD)
Murray (D-WA) Obama (D-IL) Reed (D-RI) Rockefeller (D-WV) Sarbanes (D-MD) Schumer (D-NY) Wyden (D-OR)

Clinton (D-NY) NOT VOTING maybe somebody ought to ask her if it seemed important??? All Democratic opposition to one of the most draconian economic measures passed in modern times, but not all Democrats. You really need to think about this, really, really think. This is a class warfare bill, plain and simple.

If anyone makes a case that there's something wrong with the disparity of wealth in this country the Republicans and their Democratic allies talk about class warfare - taking from the productive. That's funny, really; if you make a thing - you're not one of the productive. From their definition the people who actually build a house are leeches on the system, all that labor is not productive while clipping stock coupons is. If you're feeling like you've missed something, let me be very simple, lots of money is productive, sweat isn't.

Some folks are talking about how well things will work out with a Democratic President and a real useful majority in Congress. I doubt it. If you elect a President who likes the way the economic system is set up that tells every pol that doing things the same way is just fine. The folks out here in the world might disagree afterwards, but that won't be how they voted. Up until Ronald Reagan some pretty fair sized crumbs reached the floor for the rest of us, but that was quite awhile ago and bad habits are hard to change. Especially hard when the voters don't seem to get it. Oh well, I'm pretty sure birds, children, and voters are easily distracted by bright baubles.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Gun's, Parks & Whose Rights?

One would expect the NYT to not disappoint with a chance to be wrong about guns, and this Editorial doesn't disappoint. Forty seven US Senators wrote the Dept Interior to ask them to lift the ban on ready to fire guns in National Parks and Refuges. The NYT, naturally, thinks this is ludicrous and backs their assertions up with misleading or inaccurate (lying?) statements.
There is nothing confusing about the distinction between federal lands where hunting is allowed and national parks, where hunting is not. (Nor should someone who is confused by the difference be carrying a loaded weapon.) It is also no burden to unload a rifle and slip it into a case before, say, driving through Yellowstone.
Apparently, they've never been anywhere, it is pretty simple to tell Central Parks ends at the skyscrapers, that is not the case where refuges and parks abut unregulated Federal land, which is much more the rule than the exception. This piece is about inadvertent violations, since the NYT doesn't like guns it would fit their agenda to have your firearm confiscated and you charged for crossing an unmarked border in the wilds. That isn't what it's really about, the Senator's letter states, "... this rule infringes on gun owners’ rights and is “confusing, burdensome and unnecessary.” The NYT's view is:
The senators who signed this letter — led by Mike Crapo, an Idaho Republican, and Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat — insist that the federal government is infringing upon the gun-carrying rights granted by some states. As so often happens when guns are in question, the senators have forgotten to insist upon the rights of the vast majority of citizens, who choose not to carry guns.

They also appear to have forgotten that national parks and refuges are federal lands, set aside as peaceful preserves for all the species that enjoy them, including humans. Ready-to-fire guns have no place in them.
Now, I've read the BOR and I cannot find a guarantee of the right to not see guns, in fact I can't find anything that assures anyone any rights about arms other than the Second Amendment. Where hunting is banned or otherwise regulated doing something else is illegal, you face sanctions you won't like. If you start shooting up cans or something where recreational shooting is banned, you have a legal problem. As for "peaceful preserves" the NYT either hasn't watched one of the nature shows or the news, these are not your public library animals are busy doing animal things - some quite dangerous to humans - and some humans can't seem to manage ethics or law. A packed away or disabled firearm is not self-protection - it's luggage.

Unlike NYC, I live in a 3,000 square mile county that is over 50% Federal lands and it is not a peaceful safe environment. There are bears, cougars, coyotes, and probably some wolves, none of whom seem particularly concerned with the NYT's ideas of peaceful and some humans find it a friendly environment for illegal activity - something they protect with weaponry. I am always armed in those circumstances, though in twenty years of carrying I've never had reason to take out the gun. There are places you cannot shoot, no Parks, that are near facilities, which is only reasonable - though I'd violate that in a second rather than have a fist fight with a bear.

Do you suppose that if their little daughter were being mauled they'd ask me not to shoot? In the interest of the peaceful environment and National Park's regulations? I'm sure they'd be happy for me to stand by as a disinterested spectator...while they did what? Tell the critter that it's not nice to chew on a human? At that point it is way too late to try noise makers or safe camping or hiking practices, it's down to brute force and a gun trumps a stick.

It is a simple enough matter to regulate hunting and shooting, it's been done for quite some time and seems to be pretty effective, regulating carry in the wild is another issue altogether. One that NYT apparently is incompetent to speak to, though their First Amendment right doesn't allow for disqualifying them for stupidity, funny how that works.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

For You Obamaniacs

You might want to go look at your candidate's voting record before going all "change" on this particular fellow, there is a change and it's primarily about skin color and smooth rhetoric. Problem is, the record doesn't match it. I'll make a further note that you may not like, anyone who takes and anti-stance on a part of the Bill of Rights is an authoritarian and acting in direct refutation to the basic law of the US - and that's your guy. Don't get me wrong, he's a distinct improvement over anything the Republicans have to offer, but he's cut from the same cloth as Hillary and their authoritarianism is real similar.

If you want a smooth approach to same old business done the same old way, what you're getting is Hillary smoothed over. If you think you're backing some sort of meaningful change in the way business is done in DC; you're engaging in wishful thinking. But then, a white guy with pretty hair doesn't look much different, does he? I won't vote gender, I won't vote race, I won't vote religion, I won't vote smooth talk, I will vote my political agenda and that is I'm real tired of a quarter century of the same plutocratic authoritarian bullshit. If that statement resonates, go take a real look. Take a look at the years of Chicago machine politics and the US Senate votes. Read the Bill of Rights and try to put is squarely in your mind that the US government does not grant a single one of those, they are superior to the US government - each and every one of them.

I've wasted bytes on this, you're not interested in paying attention to the actual record or the actual statements broken down into their content rather than their tone, so just ignore it and then don 't get mad when your heads get pissed on. I'll be darned if I'll sit here and give you the research, do it yourselves. I've left Obama pretty much alone up to this point, but I've reached a boiling point with this "candidate of change" spin. If you're ticked off at Congress for its behavior this last year, maybe you ought to stop and think about it.

I'll say this, for all her triangulating and corporate whoring and experience nonsense Hillary is more honest. Now that sucks. I'll give Edwards credit for spending 3 years on the causes he's espousing now as some kind of make-up for his Senate record and his life previous to it as some credit, but the other two leading candidates can't claim 30 seconds of break in their string since entry into elected life.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sorting Out The Democratic Field

I'm not going to do a lot of reliance on polls and published opinions, in fact I'm not going to bother with attributions and links. I've indulged in way too much input to sort it out, so you'll get my thinking, for whatever you take it as worth.

I don't think Bill Richardson or Dennis Kucinich or Mike Gravel are going to be able to more than shape the discussion to certain degree. There just are not any numbers showing them going anywhere.

Hillary has a problem. The problem is not Iowa, that only pointed an arrow at the problem. I have heard almost no enthusiasm for Hillary from activist Democrats, youth, or Independents. The nation is unhappy, and an unhappy nation does not react well to "same old, same old" and worse for Hillary is that the "experienced" mantra tends to mean "same old." Throw into the mix the memories of the Clinton Administration's miscues and there's some baggage. Exposure to Hillary doesn't seem to undo the negatives she carries with Democrats, for their reasons, and Independents, for their reasons. What is difficult is undoing both the Senatorial record with Democrats and the Clinton baggage with the Indies and then trying simultaneously to run on the past and the future in a Democratic Primary while looking at the General. I'm really pleased it isn't my job.

Obama has some real plus column stuff going on right now, whatever the realities of Iowa, he won. That means a lot in attention and the regard of voters thinking about winning. I may find the Iowa caucuses a manipulable event, but that isn't of much effect about attitudes. Some real questions remain, will charm and his aura of change outweigh the fact that his version of change is not materially different from the status quo and neither is his record? Will race count in the ballot booth versus more public displays of support - ie caucuses and phone polling? A lot of this depends on his support base, youth may very well not carry racism into a booth, but will they deconstruct the change image? Youth enthusiasm is impressive, but there is a deep vein of skepticism running through that group. Independents tend to start out skeptical, can Obama play his version effectively against Edwards? In reality his appeal for votes battle is not against Hillary, it is with Edwards. Hillary's dedicated voters are not going to move, it is the polled leaning voters that she can lose and they have little reason to stay with two viable candidates other than her.

Edwards, this is a mess to try to sort out. He has the populist progressive message of the three, it is most change oriented but he also is not a fresh face and he has a record that does not quite line up with it. He, in essence, asks you to consider his Senate record an aberration in his life story, which it may be, but it still leaves questions - like why? Will voters pay attention to the expensive hair cut crap? Who knows, it is irrelevant, but it may have potency. Much I've read and heard indicates a tendency to see Edwards as fake, or at least as imagery rather than solid. This could cause huge difficulties with the message's targets, these are the very most skeptical of all the voter groups. The brass tacks of this group is that they have either been hurt directly or care deeply about the damage to workers and the poor. The poor have little record of coming out to vote and that narrows the field and gets to those with a "hard core" agenda and that bunch ain't buying a paint job. He has a shot at one group neither front runner can have and that is the gun owning non-Republicans (or Republican leaning Indies by virtue of this one issue) but that entails the risk of speaking up about it in a Democratic Primary. There are ways to do it, but he hasn't asked me. He has his wife, an advantage of large consequence, but can he get media attention? His anti-corporate greed message is antithetical to Corporate Media, reporters are another story, but they don't run the show.

Of the front runners, Edwards gets my nod, but his viability is in question. He is short of money and his game is to let Hillary lose votes and fight with Obama for votes. It's a tough calculation, he cannot beat up on Obama, but the Hillary shed votes might well not be enough to keep his campaign going. Obama is not going to go away as a force, therefore Hillary has to be marginalized, and she is a big fat target. She can thank the media inevitability circus she created for that. Hillary is subject to attack, and there is little for Edwards to lose in that provided he stays on the "civil" side of it. Edwards absolutely has to collect the votes shed from other candidates than Obama while preventing him from picking them up. It's time for him to go talk to Biden and Dodd now and probably even Richardson after NH. Biden's persona has always been populist and Dodd will fight, showing them reason to endorse could help. He is closer to Richardson on issues than either Obama or Clinton, but there may be other factors at work.

If Edwards can afford to stay in I believe the real election will come down to him and Obama; Clinton can afford to stay the course, but I believe as time passes she will be less of a force, my guess is mid to high 20s in votes. Hillary just does not wear well and her campaign isn't made up of those who 'get it' or wear well, either. If Edwards falls out, Obama shouldn't have a lot of trouble wrapping the thing up.

All of this discounts the possibility of massively stupid missteps by any of the candidates, that is an imponderable with any set of humans. Feel free to tell me just how badly I've messed this up, just don't cuss at me because I didn't give your candidate a thumbs up.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Saudi Arabia And Change

The NYT Editorial starts off congratulating the Saudi king for pardoning the "Qatif girl" a rape victim who was sentenced to 200 lashes for getting into a car with men she was not related to. Wow. This laudable pardon occurred exactly why? Sharia law. This pardon was quickly followed by the "detention" of a Saudi civil liberties blogger. The NYT calls for change and expects BushCo to demand it.

I don't mind throwing cold water in somebody's face, the USA has this little document called the Constitution and it contains a quaint topic like Habeas Corpus and another document called the Bill of Rights, which specifically bars the government from interfering in natural rights. Nowhere is the concept of a government grant of right occur and yet BushCo is supposed to pressure a government based on the granting of the "favor" of rights to do something while it violates the absolute basis of this government? The Saudis have tended to be American educated so it would be little surprise if they've heard of the documents and they've pretty much gotten around in the USA. They do government and religion the way they do in the face of that.

What club or inducement is it that GeorgeII is supposed to bring out with his fellow monarchs? Money? Since BushCo has managed to drive oil prices through the roof with the "violence tariff" chances are money is no object. I think that we've pretty much dispensed with the reason part of the equation. Since the Saudis are familiar with US culture and how no signs of pursuing any more of it than pointless acquisition and conspicuous consumption. It is discouraging enough to reflect on the wealth of the US and the plight of the poor and uninsured, but in contrast to the Saudis we're paragons of virtue.

Saudi Arabia is a religious despotism dedicated to the wealth and power of its rulers. I'm a little leftwing blogger and yet I get some readers from Saudi Arabia, why do you suppose that is? Do you think it has something to do with the freedom of expression I exercise? Maybe it has something to do with my assertion that the natural rights expressed in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence apply to any human anywhere and that governments that violate them are automatically subject to overthrow by their subjects, whether by ballot or force of arms. That means any government, including the Shiite theocracy we've established in Iraq, the BushCo pals the Saudis, or BushCo itself.

The Iowa Caucuses

Since you're reading a political blog you probably already know the results of the Iowa caucuses, Obama and Huckabee winning with fair margins over their nearest competitors. Much was made in the news about the size of the Democratic turn out and the evident influence of Independents and new caucusers. With single digit percentage presence, Independents were not that large a factor, but new caucusers were. A high percentage of these new people were in the 17-25 age group and Obama garnered a large percentage of this group. On the Republican side a large percentage of self-identified Evangelicals showed up and Huckabee took around 85% of that group. On the Democratic side some of these results may or may not be replicable for the candidate. One must remember that the caucuses are a small percentage of a voter turn out and a dedicated minority can have out sized effects. The results may easily not be statistically relevant to other elections. On the Republican side with few new caucusers the results may be much more relevant, though narrowly in the regard to population density of Evangelicals or similar groups.

Things start to get interesting when you look at candidates without large percentage of new voters, while still qualifying the look with the fact that caucusers are a more dedicated slice of the voters. These caucusers being more ordinarily present and in play did not go for the Clinton campaign any more meaningfully than the did for Obama and Edwards. What makes this interesting is that polling had showed Hillary with a large lead over the other candidates nationally and generally in individual states, including Iowa before campaigning really got under way. With extended exposure to dedicated voters Hillary's support seems to go down, as evidenced in Iowa and seems to be occurring in New Hampshire. It is possible that some of the Clinton early support came from a desire to back a winner and the media obsession with "Clinton inevitability" which seems to wear off with exposure and the rise of other viable candidates. The steady showing of support by over half the polled individuals for candidates other than Clinton may also have had an effect.

Trying to expand prairie Iowa's caucus results to other states would be a risky endeavor, but a couple things are sure. A third place finish in a state worked hard by the Clinton campaign directly contradicts the aura of invincibility, the results may be subject to spin, but third is a loss in any state's voter's mind. How large an effect is nothing more than guess work because it would be necessary to know polled individual's motivations and strength of commitment. The media now sees a dogfight, a much more interesting prospect than a walk over. The result may be more attention to all remaining candidates, one can only hope.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chuck for... Blog Progress For 2007

This blog started the year out with about 1000 visitors per month, that was January. February pushed up to 1900 starting a serious climb to March's 2700 and then a steady decline, April 2500, May 2100, to August at 1500 when for 2 weeks hits ran just above 20 per day and I seriously thought about quitting. It was the last couple weeks of August that kept this thing going. From that point there has been about a 500 visit per month increase each month to December's 3200.

On 10 occasions since August the Blog has been read on Reuters or USA Today's or Austin Statesman online publications. During that time the "Chuck for..." headlines have been viewed over 160,000 times, courtesy of Blogburst, accounting for 337 visits to the Blog.

Starting in September the blog began to make occasional appearances on OrBlogs top 20 Most Influential Oregon Blogs and from mid-November to late December it stayed on the list. The year began with a Technorati ranking of about 30 and steadily rose to end at 41. Overall the blog seems to maintain its readers' interest and slowly gain readers. Regular readers are from about a dozen states and ten countries.

I hope this is a prosperous New Year for the readers and that this endeavor continues to engage your interest. Thanks.

Chuck for... Year Review, 2007 In Pictures

December in Baker City, snow and Pyrennes Gus (the one kid left at home)

Rudy in December, hmmm

My friend Cyrenna Boston running for OR HD45

Craig Watson's Nova, more than politics here...

Near Pine Creek Resevoir just west of Baker City

***John Collins for Baker City Herald***
Out my back door in October, literally, 150 feet.

Framed this, roofed it, sided it, then discovered that I'm a painter - imagine my surprise

" To me, with that star as the elephant's eye, the odd posture, and the stripes, nay, tire marks across its back, it looks like the GOP got run over by a truck and killed." - Wheels - Blue Oregon

Cowboy Action Shooting in September at Powder River Sportsman Club, Baker City, OR

Baker Valley, Baker City at the right next to the mountains in the valley, the Elkhorn Mts

My 1950 Chevy COE 13.5 cubic yard dump truck

Cowboy Action Shooting gear

Motel del Rogue DPO quarterly in July at Grants Pass

NYT spoof, in house joke that's out, in June

Pvt 1st Class Nicholas A Butcher 5/4/07
Fort Benning, Georgia
Marksman Medal ( -1 Expert ) M16
Expert Medal Grenade
Yes, Scottie and I are proud of him. May

Ruger No.1 in 45-70 Govt., biggest post by hits, since posting 10-15 hits daily

Colt Commander Light Weight in .45 ACP third most popular post 5-7 daily since Feb posting

Ruger Bisley Vaquero in .45 Colt, the second most popular since posting in Feb with about 10 hits daily

Remington side by side 12ga hammered shotgun, tied for third, posted in Jan

So that's the "Chuck for..." year in photos, hope you enjoyed the rerun of pics.