Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Baker City

If you decide to live on the 45th parallel at 3500 ft at the foot of 10K ft mountains this is what your Memorial Day is likely to look like. Beyond looks there is the the matter of weeks of low 60s for highs and rainy days. So it did rain today, right on my ride which involved about 10 minutes of misery until I made it into Union at the far end of my loop.

We do ordinarily get 5-12 days of weather in May that make you really glad it's here, not more than 5 days this year. We have a motorcycle rally 6/11-13, Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally, and I have hopes. This is some of the best riding in the country, in case you're interested.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This Is Going To Be Fun For The GOP

I don't know why the GOP couldn't figure out that they're going to have real problems separating the spoofs from their base. It isn't that obvious criticism will miss the base, but there are a whole bunch of pretty good spoofers out there who can use wingnut speak and promote incredibly stupid and offensive ideas that will get GOP base approval.

I know it isn't as though some spoof has to do it and that is the funny part, the GOP is putting its base up in front of the general public - exactly what they don't want their candidates doing...

Rand Paul says...

American Prosperity - Providing Americans the Opportunities to Succeed
Fiscal Accountability - Restoring Discipline and Respecting Your Hard Earned Dollars
American Values - Protecting Those Things We Hold Dear
National Security - Providing and Safe and Secure Nation
Open Mic - Start Your own Debate, Speak Out

Now how could this go wrong?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's Wrong With The GOP ?

It appears the GOP may be wondering itself. (h/t Balloon Juice commenter Elvis Elvisberg)
North Carolina Republicans are circulating court documents that suggest a far-right Tea-Party-backed congressional candidate claimed to be the Messiah, tried to raise his stepfather from the dead, believed God would drop a 1,000-mile high pyramid as the New Jerusalem on Greenland, and found the Ark of the Covenant in Arizona.

Seriously. This guy is the GOP primary front runner to take on Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) this fall though he'll have to survive a run-off.
On a blog he writes, entitled "Christ's War," D'Annunzio declared earlier this year that he wanted to "abolish the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Energy, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Transportation, Treasury, and Home Land Security," and the IRS, as well as "any appellate court that has shown an anti Constitutional activism." He also advocated giving control of Social Security and Medicare to the states.

The funny part of this is that he's saying just what the GOP has been encouraging its base in saying with essentially "dog whistle" politicking. They talk about values (their Jesus, period) and over reaching federal powers (drowning in bathtubs) and then act all surprised that people actually take them seriously.

I'm a great advocate of taking them seriously (yes, and pointing and laughing). I want the voters to have an opportunity to see what their crap means in reality. I'm real tired of plutocratic greed and theocracy dressed up in respectability. If the GOP is going to play that damn game somebody on their side will sooner or later actually say what they mean in front of god and everybody - see Rand Paul. They can try to run and hide from it and put their dress-up clothes back on, but they're the ones that amped up the Teabaggery crowd. Good for them. Assholes.

Magical Federal Government And A Spill

The oil spill in the Gulf has people's teeth on edge which is approaching fury. Oil pouring out into the Gulf from a profit making operation and fouling water and shores for over a month and still counting is infuriating. BP's inability to deal with it has people screaming for the Federal government to take over from them.

I'm a lefty Democrat which means, in a quite abbreviated definition, I think that the government has the means, ability, and responsibility to deal with matters beyond the reach of society at large. That means that I'm real sure that the Federal government has the ability to shape economic outcomes through regulation and taxation. It means that the Federal government has the responsibility to keep a rein on outfits like BP. What it does not mean is that Federal government has magical powers. Pointing the Federal government at a problem ought to include it having the ability to do something with the problem.

The Fed doesn't drill holes a mile under the ocean's surface, it is not something they do and apparently didn't bother to ask BP if it was good enough at it. There isn't a Dept of Magic Wand Waving. Whatever you think about BP; it isn't in their self interest to have oil going all over the ocean. If you find yourself on the side of the ignoramus from Alaska on an issue when you didn't start out on her side of anything it is time to stop and think. The "Drill Baby Drill" babe has managed to show that she knows just about squat about anything beyond repeating slogans.

The idea that the Federal government knows a whole bunch about plugging an oil well ought to be pretty well disproved by the permitting that allowed this hole to be punched in the manner it was done. The idea that BP and the Federal Government aren't using all the resources available to address this mess passes rational belief. Nobody has said, "Great job, Brownie," instead there has been a steady drumbeat of BP is under the boot. People seem to forget what the function of government is and what its reach is. Problems are not amenable to wishes...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Idiotology And Problem Solving

Ok, so I'll just stop laughing and pointing at Ayn Paul, er Rand. Politics and governing are always going to be messy when you have at least three people involved. Look, when there's just the two of you; you can beat the hell out of the other one - that third person is a wild card. Take that little difficulty and add a few hundred million more people and, yes, it is going to be a mess.

Politics and governing are the art of accomplishing the possible and hopefully doing some good. This is what kills something like Libertarianism - it is not about problem solving, it is some sort of philosophy. I'll not spend any time trying to explain that mess to anyone beyond that the magic hand of greed will solve everything. It makes all kinds of assumptions and sets all kinds of conditions up with absolutes all over it. It is a kind of political religion in that sense. Some actual Libertarian said on the media that it takes a professor to explain it not a few minutes in an interview. Not that it would do you any good...

The harsh reality of problem solving tripped Rand up badly. The Jim Crow south was about a whole lot more than a couple nasty brutish laws - it was an entire social structure that denied a race any place in society's commerce. He had to admit it finally and that is going to cause him problems with his kin - they deal in absolutes not the messy greys of life.

Part of what ails DC right now is that problem solving is not the agenda of one of the players. There is the same kind of purity test being applied by the GOPers that the Libertarians apply. (yes I know there is also the plutocratic base to please) Legislation that does not have a (R) after it is going to be fought tooth and nail for political gain in the first instance and secondly the mantra of government over-reach is going to be applied to any effective policy.

With quite a bit of justice people feel that there is too much government, the problem gets real sticky when it comes to ox goring. Don't touch my Medicare is a pretty reasonable response to threats to it, same with ... ok, now you're in trouble. Most of this country won't stand for starving people on the streets (starving people are also dangerous) but they also don't like supporting them. We have managed through a lot of years of behavior to create a system that will have those starving people without government. So, where do you go with your harsh absolutes from there? You put them down and solve as best you can what you're faced with.

At no point in this nation's history has there been that "perfect" starting point to make things all work out nicely. At every point there have been an existing set of circumstances to be dealt with as best possible in the face of too many individual opinions to just act. Ideologues or "philosophers" don't get this and their solutions demand absolutes - conditions that don't exist responding in ways that don't happen or have wayyyyyy too high costs. Yes, starving people will die and thin the herd and some will be saved by charities and ... well ooops some will start killing the "haves" because they "have not." Not good.

You certainly can strangle business by trying to regulate every aspect of it and burying it under a blizzard of paperwork and other assorted messes, but counting on it to self-correct means consequences you may not be able to bear. To be sure, coal miners can quit working a place that's real dangerous - the problem is they find that out after they've been blown up or buried. Now if you think you can do that to people in your business freely the chances are that someone is justifiably going to come kill you. There is every chance that they will figure life trumps your property rights and make you pay for it.

Practice and history have given us some fairly harsh lessons in what doesn't work, this is scarcely the first finance driven economic crap out or the first year workers were getting killed because profits trumped working reasonably safely. A hell of a lot of people have died or suffered to get this message across - some entity has to look out for them. That entity can't be magic, it has to exist and it has to have an interest beyond self profit. We call it government and argue endlessly about how to - but in the end we will accept that there are problems too big to be solved elsewhere and do it. The pretty words and constructions of a philosophy won't do; some messy solution will have to be worked out. It will either be that way or things are going to get very,very messy. We have this messy contract called government in the end analysis to keep us from having to slaughter each other. Get used to the idea, for pete's sake. Solve problems.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why Rand Paul Is Fun

No, it isn't because he says what he believes and that it is a stupidly unworkable mash of magical thinking mixed in with FYIGM*. It isn't that his ideas would put the US back to the Robber Baron Era at best. It isn't that greed, classism, and racism are the natural outcomes of that "philosophy." The (") marks are deliberate, go look at the founder of and the tenets of Libertarianism and even that laughable mess isn't what makes this fun.

What makes this fun is that what Rand Paul has the bad judgement to state baldly (and badly) is the operating philosophy of the Teabaggers and the GOP when it is out of public view. Nah, they're embarrassed to have it out there for god and everybody to see but it isn't as though there's any fundamental disagreement about the ideas. Neither of those two organizations want blunt statements that make clear what the outcomes of their entire movements entail, they want to use silly "uninforming" buzz words instead. They want to rail against socialism rather than tell you that burying miners for profit is a good thing. They do not want to address the things that most people want as results being undone by their junk ideas because they'd be laughed off the public stage.

Even the laughable Libertarianism of Rand Paul is really weak tea as Libertarianism, when it is in reality today's GOP point of view. It says nothing about the massive government handouts to big (really big) business but howls about something entirely other than Paul's Medicaid payments - like anything poor people get. Paul's version of Libertarianism includes prohibition of marijuana which under most Libertarian views is over-reach. It is straight up GOP nonsense dressed up in a label and something the GOP doesn't want out there. The GOP doesn't want a Paul saying racism is an outcome of the dogwhistle dogcrap the GOP presents. The Confederate Party of Republicanism wants to whisper its appeal not have it laid straight out. None of the successful GOP pols wants to have "nigger" signs at their rallies even though they want that vote. The Teabaggery wing presents an embarrassment of riches, a self-organizing wing but one that holds up a public face the GOP doesn't want "out there."

The fun is having the real face, the one even the Limbaugh/Becks deny, out there where the general public can see it and watching the CPoR try to run away from it. You get a complete dick like Sen John Kyl talking about 2AM dorm talk being separate from day to day politics - while he does exactly the same thing without being "clear" about it. It would be even more fun if one could have some confidence that the general voting public was remotely aware of the circus.

Go ahead, hold your breath.

*(F--k You I Got Mine)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Libertarian Teabaggery Racism On Display In Kentucky

I have made the point on some other forums that I don't know if Rand Paul is an overt racist or not; since I have no mind reading abilities. I will also state quite simply that it really doesn't make spit's difference in regard to him or Libertarianism or its stepchild Teabaggery. The bottom line of that idiotology is that it is a fig leaf for greed, selfishness, and classism all of which quite nicely include in nasty old racism. Let's be real clear, no matter how delusional, mistaken, simple minded the Randroid view is; it is also the enabler of all those things.

Let's actually take seriously the Randroid Paul idea that private business should be outside the Federal mandates about, oh say - serving blacks at a lunch counter. How exactly is the counter owner's refusal to serve or allow entrance to be enforced in the face of an intransigent black person? Somewhere in that transaction the law will wind up being involved so how does it stay neutral? How many establishments in a town have to engage in such behavior before it rises to legal notice, one, some, all? At what point does it become so institutionalized as to deny citizens the ability to participate at all? What possible magical free market hand is going to rectify that? Don't bother going to a bank for a loan to open a black only spot, they also don't need to loan money to either that "type" or such a "risky proposition." Is it Jim Crow minus the legal sanctions? Hardly, not if my "black" self is hungry and doesn't have a place to eat and insists on being fed - that particular situation is not going to end well and the law will be involved.

The collision between reality and the magic of Libertarianism is continual and accounts for its inability to deal with something like abortion. It makes statements that cannot be made to work, it is as though these people are cloistered on some Edenic planet where all problems simply do not exist and we're supposed to take a politician seriously who espouses such thinking?

The outcomes of their idiotology are a stratification of society to the point where the recourse of those on the out is force. That is the final free market solution - I can kill you. It is the ultimate in exchange, whether you are allowed to continue breathing or not.

It matters not in the least that Rand Paul has real affection for ... (whatever group) ... his policy ideas are de facto racist, classist, and ultimate greedhood. Attacking him as a racist in a political campaign is probably not a very good idea but pointing out that his ideas taken seriously lead to those outcomes probably is not only a fine idea but has the additional virtue of being true. I'm also pretty sure a coal state like KY has miners who might not care for the idea of the end of those nasty Federal regulations regarding safety and wage...

Hanging an "all" on the on the mess that was Ayn doesn't remove that stain. Trying to back pedal from statements to avoid the tag "racist" doesn't remove the outcomes inherent in that woman's pathetic attempts to create a philosophy out of complete disregard for your fellows in society. It requires no moral treatise on Christian values or any other such exercise to recognize the harm to society that is done when such nonsense is taken seriously. Oh for sure, "Watch out DC the Teaparty is on its way."

Rand Paul and his ilk can spend a whole bunch of time denying racism or other labels that fit the outcomes of their ideas. The racists and greed heads know better, they know who will benefit them and you can bet Paul For Senate will do well in that nasty corner. The question is whether Kentucky can live up to some other reputation than a hell hole of inbred racist hillbilly pricks deserving the appellation Confederate Party of Republicanism.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making Too Much Of Too Little In Elections

There seems to be developing an idea that Sestak beating Specter means a lot about the White House and voter attitude. I'd like to see that train backed up a bit. I see this Primary result being about asking Democrats to vote for the guy they've been asked to defeat for decades. A guy who recently changed Parties and has Bush/Cheney problems amongst others. Sure, he's an incumbent, but calling him a Democratic incumbent is taking the definition a bit too literally. Also calling Sestak a Progressive might be a bit strong and wrong.

The same kind of theme is being sounded about Kentucky and the Rand Paul election by the Teabaggers. Funny, there's about 3:2 D:R vote ratio in Primary though making too much of that could be wrong since it seems to be an ordinary Primary ratio that results in GOP General wins, anyhow. Teabaggers turned out against McConnell's pick, that isn't too odd an outcome in low turnout mid-term Primary, what that means to GOP in Nov is an open question. What the Teabaggers are is just about as much an open question and particularly what they are to the voters in a General Election.

It appears that Lincoln in AR will have to go through a run off. She is the incumbent but she has also been an odd sort of Democrat for the last year and a half. I'm not an adherent of the idea that all politics is local but I am also not bound to the idea that elections are all about some generalized national sentiment. This could be a big "so what" anyhow, since AR will be tough against the GOP whoever wins - finally. Voters have their own reasons in statewide elections and district elections for what they do. There can easily be an attitude of, "they're dirty rotten SOBs but he's our SOB," that will carry an incumbent and at the same time they might not like how that local SOB has acted lately. I don't know about local, but individual would be my description.

The special election for Murtha's seat might have a lesson, but that lesson would seem to be to run on PA and not on Nancy Pelosi or Pres. Obama. Mark Critz (PA12-D) now, was Murtha's aide and ran on District issues while the GOP tried to make it about DC. That CD went for McCain in '08 so there is something to be said about this result.

I'll say this, Democrats will make up their own minds despite what powers that be might have to say about it. It seems some people would be well advised to pay attention to what Will Rogers had to say about being a Democrat. So far I'm not seeing anything disastrous for Democrats this fall.

Family Values Resigns ... And Whines

Per NYT Souder's prepared resignation:
It is with great regret I announce that I am resigning from the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as resigning as the Republican nominee for Congress in this fall’s election.

I believe it is the best decision for my family, the people of northeast Indiana, and our country.

I will submit my resignation to Speaker Pelosi effective this Friday.

I can never fully thank all those who have worked so hard, given so much and supported me through eight contested primaries and eight general elections.

Only when you have been the recipient can you really feel the humbling power of such generosity. It has been a privilege to be a part of the battle for freedom and the values we share. It has been a great honor to fight for the needs, the jobs, and the future of this region where my family has lived for over 160 years.

It has been all consuming for me to do this job well, especially in a district with costly, competitive elections every two years

I do not have any sort of “normal” life – for family, for friends, for church, for community. To serve has been a blessing and a responsibility given from God. I wish I could have been a better example.

I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff. In the poisonous environment of Washington D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain.

I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process.
Diane and my family were more than willing to stand here with me.

We are a committed family. But the error is mine and I should bear the responsibility.
Not only am I thankful for a loving family but for a loving God.

My comfort is that God is a gracious and forgiving God to those who sincerely seek his forgiveness as I do. But I am so ashamed to have hurt those I love. I am so sorry to have let so many friends down, people who have fought so hard for me.

The ideas we advocate are still just and right. America will survive and thrive when anchored in those values. Human beings, like me, will fail, but our cause is greater than individuals.

It is based upon eternal truths. By stepping aside, my mistake cannot be used as a political football in a partisan attempt to undermine the cause for which I have labored all my adult life.

I love this area. This is my home. It has been such an honor to serve you. For 16 years, my family and I have given our all for this area. The toll has been high.

As I leave public office, my plans are focused upon repairing my marriage, earning back the trust of my family and my community, and renewing my walk with my lord.

I humbly ask you, for the sake of my family, that you respect our privacy in this difficult time.

I have no further comments.

He may not have any damn comments but I sure do.

"I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff. In the poisonous environment of Washington D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain."

I could care less about your so called sins but I do care that you're a lying hypocritical piece of crap and have been for quite a few years. You are the poison of DC, particularly as one who twists for political gain the reality of your life and that of others into complete lies. DC didn't do squat to you to get you to be the kind of better than thou snake who can do as he pleases while lecturing the rubes. To use one of your allegories, Satan doesn't live in DC, he lives in you.

"The ideas we advocate are still just and right. America will survive and thrive when anchored in those values. Human beings, like me, will fail, but our cause is greater than individuals."

No, butthead your ideas aren't just and right and you demonstrated just what they're all about - pointless sanctimony based on your idea of a religious book that you'd legislate on others than yourself. That Revolution had a whole bunch to do with the Established Religion of England as it did a lot of other issues and it was a greater idea than yours. The First Amendment says you can practice and espouse your religion and the rest of us don't have to have squat to do with it.

I don't care whether your Party disowns you or licks your backside or your wife kicks the ever loving snot out of you but a whole bunch of us have been given the right by you to point and laugh. Point and laugh at you personally and at your idea that you and your ilk are somehow qualified to legislate the morality of the rest of us. You are the best exemplar of your stands.

Specter-Sestak Guesses

It is late enough to go ahead and guess and although I don't live in PA and haven't been there gauging sentiment I have some ideas. Primary elections are usually low turn out and mid-term ones are worse, add in that it is rainy in PA and this election turn out should be quite low. How turn out will affect the two campaigns has been an ongoing question. Some have proposed that the "machine" will win out for Specter with low turn out with their expertise, some that Sestak's dedicated enthused insurgent voters will come out.

I think one thing is over looked in the machine idea, that machine has been dedicated to beating Specter for years and years. The voters that you're supposed to be enthusing are the ones you've spent years enthusing to work against that guy. People do have memories and the more politically motivated the longer those memories last. Those people are going to be tough to get all hot to vote for the GOP "maverick" whose votes during Bush/Cheney were party line despite his talk otherwise.

Sestak is the insurgent, not that he's by any stretch an outsider and he's run as a Democrat. Insurgents get anywhere thanks to the enthusiasm of supporters, without machinery or the support of national organizations they will go nowhere fast without real enthusiasm from those supporters. Sestak is in a polling tie with Specter with all of the factors worked in other than who will actually go pull a lever.

My guess is that Sestak will benefit most from the weather and low turn out in general. I have no enthusiasm for Specter though he is preferable to Toomey.

Souder (IN-R) Values?

Congressman shoots abstinence video with mistress???

Souder's marriage is none of my business and I know nothing about it. What is my business is this idea that his type gets to tell people about what values they should hold and legislate them despite a lack of congruence with his own behavior. I don't get it, is it pandering to the Christianists or just plain election of a rotten sort of "it only counts for others"?

You'd think people would start to understand that BS is the GOP's business...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Too Much For Chris Wallace???

According to Faux News there is something that is too much for even Chris Wallace to swallow from the GOP:
WALLACE: You also write this, and let's put it up on the screen. "The secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did." Mr. Speaker, respectfully, isn't that wildly over the top?

GINGRICH: No, not if by America you mean the historic contract we've had which says your rights come from your creator, they're unalienable, you're allowed to pursue happiness. I mean, just listen to President Obama's language. He gets to decide who earns how much. He gets to decide what is...

WALLACE: Well, but, I mean...

GINGRICH: ... too much.

WALLACE: ... in fairness, we're talking not just about any company, we're talking about companies that the — that the government has put...

"Well, but, I mean ..." Oh my god, even Chris Wallace has gone Commie Islamofascist?

I suppose Faux will correct an obviously failed transcript...

Oh go ahead and laugh - I've been trying to pick my jaw up off the floor over the whole thing for hours, barely able to type this. Point and laugh. Oh yeah, there's no difference between Parties...

Obama's Katrina

Sometimes I really wish the confounded media could find two original ideas to rub up against each other. Obama's Katrina - except, of course, that Katrina or its like has nothing whatever to do with the Gulf BP disaster. It is sort of like the "-gate" every scandal except that they naturally have nothing whatever to do with something like a politically inspired burglary and political cover-up of that criminal act.

A manmade corporate financed disaster is in what way similar to a hurricane? State and federal governments are responsible for flood relief, oil companies are supposed to be responsible for the oil they drill for. It is certainly true that a very large number of Gulf people are going to be harmed by the ecological smash up of oil all over the place and the Fed is responsible for trying contain a spill once it gets beyond the capabilities of ... well BP or whoever the oil bunch is pointing fingers at now. Once a hurricane forms it is one and its track is predictable and there is usually a period of some days to get squared around unlike something like an exploding oil rig.

However good or bad the Federal response, this would be something like Obama's Oil Spill problem, not Katrina or Gulf-gate or ... whatever overused media short cut for thinking they use. I'm pretty unsure exactly what it is that the media people are parroting that anyone with a brain thinks the Fed could do beyond what it is doing and has been doing. The Federal Government is scarcely full of oil drilling experts or spill mitigation experts - that being the province of oil companies. I do believe that a regulatory body sure ought to have people who know enough to ask exactly what a company proposes to do about a problem 5K feet under the water and base decisions on realities rather than corporate wishes. Sadly, getting this mess under control shows no sign of happening soon.

Does Beck Really Mean It?

When you listen to or watch Glenn Beck a question has to occur to you, "Does he really mean this?" He certainly does say things that run pretty much counter to mainstream commentary or one-ups it considerably (I'm using a real loose definition of mainstream here). It has been demonstrated pretty consistently that his version of reality manages to miss the truth and makes some real imaginative associations and all of that is quite publicly available. There sure do seem to be a sizable number of people who take Glenn Beck seriously. The question lays there - seemingly unanswered except by speculation.

I am not a psychiatrist and practising such a thing on a blog is pretty questionable but there ought to be some doubt about the presented level of sanity. I have been known to get "excitable" about politics and I do take it seriously. I do not resort to tears. I know that an accomplished actor can cry on demand, although some rather famous professionals have been known to resort to artificial aids to do it. I don't take the tears too seriously but the rhetoric is another question. I can't tell you who writes his on air stuff, whether it is his, mostly his, or mostly not - but he certainly spouts it. (I looked, but not real hard) You do have to want to believe what he has to say to believe it and I do sometimes wonder if that isn't the case with Glenn himself.

Feel free to weigh in, I've certainly not made any sort of a case...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mid-terms ??

I have watched, with a certain amount of amusement, as the media and various pundits have predicted a Democratic disaster in the November mid-term elections. Certain factors have shown themselves as “critical” in their eyes including which party is in power, economics, and the mood of the electorate. These factors are stated as though they stand alone on the simple issue of their … name.

The “party in power” theme is supposed to reflect dissatisfaction with incumbents, especially those reflected in polls regarding the Congress. To be horribly over simplistic about poll numbers, if you take a two party system in a roughly evenly divided country that means half the people don’t much like the other party. Throw into that the seriously enthusiastic partisan nature of the divide on at least one side of the body and tempers become a bit more short. That divide means that rhetoric is hotter and progress through “the process” is slower and the public doesn’t care about process and numbers plummet. The caveat that is seldom spoken in election punditry regarding those poll numbers is that they reflect a general sense rather than a specific one. Throw the bums out doesn’t just simply include everybody - the excluded person tends to be “my bum.” The person elected to represent a CD or a State is known to those voters unlike the other persons from other places and voters tend to like their own. I take this theme quite a bit less seriously than a lot of pundits.

Mid-term disasters in relation to “party in power” have their roots in a whole lot of issues beyond simply who has the majority at a given time. One of real factors is the length of time that party has been in power. Democrats took a bath under Bill Clinton, they also had a really extensive history and a pretty high factor of, as best I can describe it, arrogance. The 2006 crunch for the GOP came after a long run both in opposition to the President’s party and as the party of the President and what looked, again, like real arrogance. Being the party of an unpopular (put mildly) President doesn’t create real favors with the electorate.
Economics as an issue has a bunch to do with who is held responsible for a state of the economy and where that state seems to them to be headed. Neither of these are too tightly linked to facts, they are an emotional response to a perceived status. This has a bunch more to do with who you relate with and how you see yourself and them doing than it does with the actual state of the economy. It also has to do with how their information sources treat economic news – or don’t with rhetoric taking its place. Figuring out how people will feel months in advance of November is pretty unrealistic with a moving target like the economy and emotions about it.
Mood is a funny thing and pretty darn capricious. Some of this regards what is actually getting done and even more has to do with perception. Information sources can have a lot to do with that and even more of it can have to do with how the politicians present themselves. Democrats being the party in power and supposedly under threat have fairly recently shown some kind of backbone publicly and the GOP has turned up the crazy but figuring out where that goes is way beyond my predictive powers and I’m damn skeptical of the crystal ball gazers taken seriously by media.

I’ll start taking predictions made about November and maybe even making a bit of guesswork myself after the Primaries are over and when November is in some kind of near future.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Oft Repeated Slogans...And Passage Of Time

Political slogans are generally simple minded catchy phrases that try to cover complex issues - and can bite later. I'm missing the crowds of GOP oriented folks chanting, "Drill, Baby Drill." There are lots of them that failed the passage of time but that one has to be one of the most egregious ones. I'm trying really hard not to enjoy their discomfiture ... alright, no I'm not.

(I take no pleasure in this disaster)

Why Politics Isn't A Dirty Word

"Damn politicians, they're all the same," is one of the lines you will hear with just about as much frequency as, "You can't trust any of them," or a variation on "It's all about them, not us." I'm not going to start right out denying these truisms or mocking them - yes I'm actually going to treat them seriously.

It is pretty safe to say that the "it's just right" kind of support for any legislation is a pretty distinct minority, things are going swimmingly when anywhere near a half of voters aren't actually not happy about it. You don't need for a piece of legislation to have attracted the serious interest of the heavy hitter money bunch to get this result and it can be from town council to the halls of Congress. Without the influence of money or Party leverage, things won't get done in something other than a messy fashion and there is a good reason for that; it is the number of discrete individuals being represented. That is the rub.

People just plain do not think the same way about things and the more opportunities there are for differences the more there will be. We actually propose that we can take a nation of over 300 million people and still get things done. The name for the way we do that is politics and it is never going to be mess free. It can't be, not with all the competing voices trying to have their own way over things that can be small differences or vast. I've watched these tussles get played out from town councils to Congress and I'm never surprised.

I play on the left of Democratic politics, though some would classify me as something else thanks to some of my views. Naturally, I'm just as convinced that they don't understand being left means something other than their views. Keep in mind that these folks are my friends and colleagues, not some un-named voters in some distant state from an opposition group. We see eye to eye on a lot of things, but we just don't on some others. So we muddle into some position we can live with. (I know that according to Will Rogers my membership in the Democratic Party bars me from belonging to a political organization) Anybody who is or has been married or had a Significant Other knows just how infrequent complete agreement is, and yet we wonder what is going on in politics. Those of you with such experience want a job being in a room with a bunch of people who "represent" a whole bunch of other people and try to get agreement? Well that, by god, is what the job of politics is about.

Just to be perfectly honest - I think a lot of crap things get done for lack of nerve, thanks to the influence of money, or Party arm twisting and not in search of some compromise in the good of the voters in general. That stuff is just the icing on the shit cake that is served from the get go.

Ah well, so it goes...

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Another Reason To Loathe Lieberman

As is their usual MO (and emo) Politico provides a platform for any loony idea that seems critical of the Democratic administration of President Obama. Naturally, Pete King (perennial spouter of "teh stupid") gets space and somehow taken seriously:

New York Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, wants to know whether the Justice Department consulted with the intelligence community before it decided to hold his trial in civilian court.“I hope that Holder did discuss this with the intelligence community. If they believe they got enough from him, how much more should they get? Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen, but still,” King told POLITICO.

“I hope that if they did read him his rights, and if they are going for an indictment as opposed to a tribunal, that he did discuss it with the director of national intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, all the component parts of the intelligence community,” King said.

King acknowledged that Shahzad’s case is different. “It is different from the Christmas Day bombing because, one, this guy is an American citizen; it appears that most of the work was carried out here in the United States as opposed to [with] Abdulmutallab, who was flying in,” King said. “That said, before there’s a rush to indict him, I think they should make an effort to figure out what is the best venue for him.”

"But still..." WTF? Miranda is about legal notification in the US, not about citizenship, it is in fact - regardless of it. But still; I'm just ... uh, flabbergasted. What the hell does the CIA have to do with legal process? Did we somehow become a police state with secret police? I admit that for some time I've wondered if this guy has two live brain cells that talk to each other.

Then you get to one of my least favorite political figures, the LIEberman. I don't know what would pass his threshold of media whoredom, but I would think this piece of absolute stupidity would have gotten there.

“I’m now putting together legislation to amend that to [specify that] any individual American citizen who is found to be involved in a foreign terrorist organization, as defined by the Department of State, would be deprived of their citizenship rights,” Lieberman said Tuesday.

Such a law would potentially cover terror suspect Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born American citizen charged in connection with the attempted car bombing in New York City’s Times Square. He was apprehended Monday night at the city’s John F. Kennedy airport after he boarded a flight to Dubai.

“If you have joined an enemy of the United States in attacking the United States and trying to kill Americans, I think you sacrifice your rights of citizenship,” Lieberman said.

First comes the objection of standing - Miranda has not squat to do with citizenship. "...found to be involved in a foreign terrorist organization," seems broad enough to include most of his friends in the GOP. A real hard search of their campaign contributions should show that it isn't all domestic money and their behavior of terrorism of the electorate is long standing. "Involved" is one of those words. Does it mean taking bomb classes or does it include hitting one of their sites and actually reading it? I've said a number of times that Israel makes some of its problems with Palestinians and Arabs/Muslims on its own, since something like Hamas has said the same thing does that make me lose my citizenship? Would calling LIEberman a POS for his Israeli-centric politics strip me? How about supporting Lefty Democratic policies in the face of asswipes like him and King? The First Amendment is now stripped of its freedom of assembly clause? I guess calling these guys pissants and cowards probably ought to be forbidden speech and any of you that want to hang-out with me should be barred on pain of citizenless status.

Could we at least manage to ignore these buttheads or castigate them at all possible occasions? What possible political gain justifies letting Hoe LIEberman caucus with Democrats?

Our Elected Terrorists

Look two posts down and you'll see why I get upset about little things like the idjits John McPOW and his ilk are prone to saying. Goddam, it's not about politics it is about terror and the aims of terror.

The aim of terror is to influence the policy direction of a nation. Get that? The aim isn't killing people, it is to influence policy. If you change the fundamentals of your nation in response they have succeeded. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are the Basic Law of the US, they are not just some ideas bruited about by the Right or the Left. I don't give a damn if the terrorism is about guns or legal process or the right to assemble or what the hell ever, you are a pissant and coward to let them win. Pissants and cowards are now trying to drive the national direction in service to political advantage available from kowtowing to terrorists and they become, in that endeavor, the fellow travelers of terrorists.

The hell with them. The hell with those who don't call them out. The hell with their supporters. Pissants and cowards - the bunch of them.

Wishing For President McCain Right Now?

Now that a Pakistani naturalized American has been caught for the Times Square bomb attempt an almost inevitable reaction sets in with certain quarters - like, say, not-President McCain.
It would have been a serious mistake to have read the suspect in the attempted Times Square car bombing his Miranda rights, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday.

McCain, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a longtime leading Republican on national security issues, said he expected the suspect in the case could face charges that might warrant a death sentence if convicted.

"Obviously that would be a serious least until we find out as much information we have," McCain said during an appearance on "Imus in the Morning" when asked whether the suspect, 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen from Pakistan.

"Don't give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it's all about," McCain added during an appearance on the Imus show, which is broadcast by the Fox Business Network.

Do what? Evidently John McCain didn't spend anywhere near enough time in a N Vietnamese prison without the rights and protections of either US or International Law to have it figured out. The real problem is that we probably can't give him back to them and get any worse results than he proposes here or that existed with little pushback from him under good ole GWB. Let me be pretty clear to the evidently senile and unread Senator, the issue is THE LAW.

Yes, I have picked on John McCain when there are plenty of the "usual suspects" out there playing the same stupidity card. Uhuh, Pete King and Joe LIEberman have stuck their oars in the stupid pond, also.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What Does It Mean To Have Rights?

***Feb 27,2007*** Someone from England Googled into this and it has been a regular archive hit since it was written. I don't think it will seem dated today.

I will start with a disclaimer, an entire library could be written on this subject and I'm not going to.

The US government recognizes some rights, the basic documents of our form of government set some out. These documents begin officially with the Declaration of Independence, there are preceding documents, but this one is officially American. The Declaration sets out two ideas that form this nation's soul, that certain rights precede all forms of government and that when a government no longer serves its people they have the right to change it, violently if needed.

The Revolutionaries fought a long, bitter war against a government they previously had every reason to believe was their own. This experience taught them that their belief in inherent rights could come into conflict with a government's interests and that a government might not represent its citizenry. They had no interest in repeating the experience and tried to pre-empt such a thing's recurrence. They argued long and hard about the Constitution, having failed with the Articles of Confederation to create stability, in order to make a system which was strong enough to withstand the competing interests of its citizenry and flexible enough to meet those interests. Some things like Habeas Corpus they considered basic enough in Law to survive mention in the basic document, the Constitution, others were not so well codified and yet considered of great import. These others composed the Bill of Rights, a formal recognition of rights that were not derived from government, or created by government, but actually superior to government. The ideals of the Declaration of Independence were given codification or enumeration.

The things that they had declared in embarking on war with the most powerful nation in the world was now set out in definite wording. These men never intended that these rights superseded responsibility in action nor that a right allowed the destruction of our fellows, they assumed that simple humanity required an end point to the exercise of a right. They also were more inclined to err on the side of the individual's sense than the government's interests. It is important to remember that these individuals were primarily of English descent or of English Law culture and had watched and finally fought the disintegration of their relationship with their government over a clash of interests. They knew these issues first hand.

When you accept the idea of rights that are superior to and precede governance you have set a high ideal. You put your government out of business in areas where it has almost always interfered. These are areas that the citizenry has strong feelings and beliefs about, areas that governments have always used or suppressed in service to their interests. No one can deny that religion, as an example, is an issue that is of tremendous import to members of society and that its co-option by government is a powerful tool. It is extraordinarily dangerous to government to let it loose for free expression, government takes a large blow to its interests. Each of the rights that were enumerated is similarly debilitating to government and dangerous in the hands of individuals. The Framers were engaging in a risky course of action.

That brings us to us. We are engaged in a risky enterprise, the exercise of rights that all previous governments restricted in one way or another. The government cannot tell us to only praise it with our words, it also cannot tell us not to say mean hurtful things. It cannot tell us that to say one group is unfit to be within society is wrong and forbidden, it must allow us to go our own way. We can say that our elected officials are liars and cheats in the service of unelected elite interests. This creates a possible source of chaos that the government is forbidden to interfere with. The very few limitations the government is allowed to attempt to enforce are those that involve direct deliberate harm to other's rights. Virtually the only protection offered the government is in the transmittal of government secrets. Even in this arena the government treads on very thin ice, it has of late asserted privileges that it may find are specious. Just in the narrow limits of free speech and free press the situation is fraught with risk to order and civility and particularly to government.

It is easy in our modern world to become comfortable and believe we have safe and secure lives and it is a mistake. We live in a system that encourages and supports dissidence, and finally places the tools of rebellion firmly in the citizenry's hands. This systemic deprivation of power of governance is so deep and broad that its beneficiaries often are not aware of it. The tools of sedition range from speaking and gathering together, to having the arms to fight, and protections from governmental investigations. Every direction the government turns it is constrained. This is not the recipe for quiet sedate life if the people do not wish it and frequently despite their wishes it is not.

Because government, the enforcer of societal order, is so constrained it falls on the citizenry to exercise its rights in manners that do not create harm to their fellows. It falls to the citizenry to make informed and reasoned votes for those who represent them. It falls to the citizenry to be responsible for a government that allows and encourages cooperative society. The onus for failure of the system and violent reaction falls on those who have the very things that so constrain their government. There are those who would place restrictions on rights in the name of order and security, they would attempt to undo the system because its own members are failing it. This is misplaced responsibility, if a situation requires redressing it is not because rights are too broad, it is a failure of those responsible for the structuring of our relationships, which is finally the citizens.

We have the most glorious of opportunities, a government restrained and citizenry empowered and that is where we start. Almost a quarter millennia ago we put into operation the most daring and audacious experiment in history and we stand or fall on our own. We cannot blame the hamstrung and hobbled government, we are the power. Let us take ahold with both hands and move this forward, not fall back into the decay and decadence that is all previous governments.