Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out

This is what a piece of shit looks like


A party-hopping opportunist says sayonara:

Ever the prosecutor, Sen. Arlen Specter delivered a critical attack of partisan politics in his self-described “closing argument” Tuesday morning on the Senate floor.

The speech capped Specter’s 30-year career as the longest-serving senator from Pennsylvania. In his final words on the floor, Specter called for civility in the chamber and bemoaned the lack of moderate Republicans remaining in the world’s most deliberative body.

“The days of lively debate with many members on the floor are long gone,” lamented Specter.

Specter left the Republican Party in 2009 and became a Democrat, after conservatives attacked him for supporting President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. Specter went on to lose the Democratic primary earlier this year.

Specter’s calls for moderation and civility aside, the senator has engaged in both partisan and brutal politicking along the way. Even Specter admitted he switched parties because it would “enable me to be reelected” — the kind of candor that only reinforced his reputation on Capitol Hill as a political opportunist.

A former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Specter presided over the confirmation of several Supreme Court justices and is well-known for grilling Anita Hill on her accusations of sexual harassment by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.

On Tuesday he recalled his early days in the Senate, when he joined the Republican Moderates Luncheon, where he met several of the most well-known liberal Republican senators: John Chafee of Rhode Island, John Warner of Virginia, Jack Danforth of Missouri, Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas and his colleague, John Heinz of Pennsylvania.

“That’s a far cry from recent years, when the moderates could fit into a telephone booth,” he said.

The chamber was filled mostly with Democrats, with a few notable GOP exceptions: Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Texas Sen. John Cornyn. Both female senators are known moderates and have taken heat from their party for it: Murkowski was defeated in her own primary last cycle, and Snowe is expected to face a tea-party-backed challenger this cycle.

“Senators have gone into other states to campaign against incumbents of the other party. Senators have even opposed their own party colleagues in primary challenges. That conduct was beyond contemplation in the Senate that I joined 30 years ago,” said Specter in a not-so-veiled jab at South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who supported his would-be GOP primary challenger, now Sen.-elect Pat Toomey.

Referring to primary challenges as a form of “sophisticated cannibalism,” Specter called out to his moderate colleagues and would-be senators of this cycle: Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, who lost his nomination at the party convention because activists thought he was too centrist, as well as Murkowski, who lost her primary earlier this year but will likely be certified the winner as a write-in candidate.

“Congressman Mike Castle was rejected in Delaware’s Republican primary in favor of a candidate who thought it necessary to defend herself as not being a witch,” said Specter. “The spectacular reelection of Sen. Lisa Murkowski on a write-in vote in the Alaska general election and the defeat of other tea party candidates may show the way to counter right-wing extremists.”


Oh lord no, let’s not challenge shitty incumbents. Maybe we should just give senators life tenure like they give to judges.

Good-bye Arlen, enjoy your new career as a lobbyist.

Asshat.



Showdown in Pennsylvania

I woke up to the news that Arlen Specter had lost the Democratic primary for the US Senate seat from Pennsylvania and though I haven to been following this very closely, I just have to weigh in on this with my own uninformed opinion.

I was in PA for mother’s day and my mom brought up the subject of Arlen. She was agin’im. And this may take Ed Rendell and the other super delegates by surprise but she didn’t like him for the strangest reason: remember Anita Hill? Yeah, well, that hearing for Clarence Thomas left an indelible mark on my mother. She remembers it like it was yesterday and she really, REALLY, didn’t like the way that Hill was treated by Specter, as if here testimony was worth on half as much as Clarence Thomas’.

Now, I suspect that Specter was driven out because people were just tired of him. He’s something like 80 years old, he switched parties, and he didn’t really have anything to offer Pennsylvanians that they hadn’t already seen. I don’t know if Joe Sestak is going to be a whole lot better but he’s not Specter. I would advise Sestak to not move too much to the center. Elderly democratic conservatives like my mother voted for Hillary Clinton in 2008 in droves. I know because I called a lot of them. In fact, a lot of those same women want her and are frankly pissed off that they got stuck with someone who did not live up to the expectations that were shoved down their throats.

If I were Joe Sestak, I’d be asking myself, what do women want? The answer is: her own way. Sestak is going to have to run the gauntlet of these angry Democratic, older, more conservative women. Think shrewish Kate, forced to submit to decades of young, male assholes gloating about forcing them into submission. It would be wrong to assume they have ever been tamed and they still have the power to make your life a living hell in some passive aggressive ways. Channel Hillary, Joe. Praise her every chance you can. Remember, it’s the economy, stupid. It’s their sons and daughters who can’t find jobs and are threatening to move in with them with their gaggle of grandchildren. It’s social security and savings and nasty bankers. You can’t go wrong by running against bankers. And remind them that when the Tea Party folks go off about cutting taxes and entitlements, they are talking about cutting taxes for the wealthy and cutting benefits, social security and medicaid, for everyone else.

Sestak has his work cut out for himself. This is going to be a tough, tough battle and the Democratic party in PA has to be feeling ambivalent at best. The state is not young and the tea party crap could be very formidable. I can almost see the Republicans licking their lips over this one. Sestak is going to have to show that neither party likes him and yet be likable enough for the wives of Bath.

Let’s hope this primary result puts the fear of goddess into the Democrats. We’ve given them plenty of dope slaps but they still don’t seem to be getting it. Women have long memories and we will remember hearings for a long, long time.

Obama Pulls Out All the Stops in Effort to Defeat Progressive Senate Candidate Joe Sestak

Jake Tapper:

Organizing for America, the former grass-roots campaign arm for President Obama’s 2008 campaign, is trying to rally supporters to phone bank and get out the vote in Pennsylvania for Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Penn., the former Republican locked in a tight primary race with a far more progressive Democrat, Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Penn.

Chris Bolling, the national volunteer coordinator for OFA, writes in an email that the “stakes of this election are high: ensuring that allies of the President are elected in the House and Senate to fight for change. So starting this weekend, through Tuesday’s election, there will be phone banks for OFA volunteers in D.C. We’ll call into Pennsylvania and encourage voters to support leaders who will fight for President Obama’s vision for change.”

Specter, of course, supported the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and only became a Democrat when it became clear he would suffer an ignominious defeat in the GOP primary to former Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Penn.

Meanwhile, the latest poll Muhlenberg tracking poll shows the race between Sestak and fake Dem Specter to be a dead heat.

In his latest attack on Sestak, fake Dem Specter charges that Sestak supports {gasp!} gun control!

Specter is highlighting his vote against the assault weapons ban in the 90s and calling Sestak out for his “F” rating from the NRA.

Sestak is returning fire by distributing an ad Republicans used against Obama in 2008 that highlighted Obama’s “F” rating with the NRA.

I guess Specter is banking on those bitter, gun-toting Pennsylvanians to put him over the top. But are they more worked up about owning assault weapons or about the crappy economy and the lack of jobs? I guess we’ll find out on Tuesday. Personally, I’m rooting against Obama’s candidate.

This is an open thread.

Sestak Now Leading Specter in PA Senate Race

Here is Joe Sestak’s latest ad–a great take-down of phony Arlen Specter.

CBS News:

According to the latest Muhlenberg College tracking poll (PDF), Specter leads Sestak 48 percent – 40 percent, with 11 percent either not sure or choosing someone else.

Now Sestak has unveiled a tough new ad portraying Specter as a political opportunist who only became a Democrat so he can win reelection. (See it at left.)

The spot shows Specter saying his party change will allow him to remain in office as well as footage of President George W. Bush effusively praising Specter. It also includes a shot of Specter with Sarah Palin.

“Arlen Specter switched parties to save one job: his, not yours,” an announcer says.

Specter has the backing of the Democratic establishment….

Ha. ha. ha.

This is an open thread.

Friday Spaced-Out News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!! TGIF!

I’m getting a slow start today. I’ve been surfing around, and there is quite a bit of news out there, but no overarching theme that I can see. I’m a little spacey though, as I always am at the end of a semester.

I usually get to the point where I’m running on adrenalin, and as I get close to the end, I can feel that my body and mind are just about ready to shut down for a couple of days. I still have a little work to do, so I’m trying to stay alert and keep that adrenalin flowing just a little bit longer.

The British election ended this morning in a “hung Parliament.” I don’t know too much about British politics, so I hope someone else may be able to explain what all this means.

Map of election results at the Independent

BBC: What next for each party in event of a hung Parliament?

The constitutional convention states that – in the event of no party winning a majority – the sitting prime minister remains in place until he decides he cannot form a government and chooses to resign.

After returning to 10 Downing Street, Gordon Brown has said it is his “duty to play his part” in securing a strong and stable government in the next few days.

He has asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell to arrange for the Civil Service to provide support on request to parties engaged in discussions on the formation of government.

It is likely he will approach the Liberal Democrats to try and agree some form of coalition deal – a stance backed by senior Labour figures.

But it sounds like the Libdems have already sided with the Tories:

Cameron has ‘first right’ to form government, says Nick Clegg

David Cameron was today offered the keys to 10 Downing Street, after Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said that the Conservatives had the “first right” to seek to form a government in Britain’s first hung Parliament since 1974.

The Conservative leader will give his initial public response in a statement at 2.30 this afternoon, but it was thought far from certain that he would accept any deal with the Lib Dems which included reform of Westminster’s first-past-the-post voting system.

I’m clueless–someone please help me understand this.

Some creepy news related to the health care deform bill: Documents reveal AT&T, Verizon, others, thought about dropping employer-sponsored benefits

Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill’s critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.

That would dismantle the employer-based system that has reigned since World War II. It would also seem to contradict President Obama’s statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them. And as we’ll see, it would hugely magnify the projected costs for the bill, which controls deficits only by assuming that America’s employers would remain the backbone of the nation’s health care system.

Hence, health-care reform risks becoming a victim of unintended consequences. Amazingly, the corporate documents that prove this point became public because of a different set of unintended consequences: they told a story far different than the one the politicians who demanded them expected.

The chairman of the Democratic Party in PA has issues a “stern warning” to party members, and says a win for Sestak in the primary would be “cataclysmic.”

As polls show Sestak, a second-term House member from the Philadelphia suburbs, cutting Specter’s advantage to single digits, Chairman T.J. Rooney told POLITICO in an interview that “if we want to keep this seat in Democratic hands, the only person capable of delivering that victory is Arlen Specter.” [....]

A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week showed Specter’s once formidable double-digit lead narrowing to only 8 percentage points, 47 percent to 39 percent. By midweek, the tracking poll sponsored by Muhlenberg College and the Allentown Morning Call showed Specter ahead by only 5 percentage points.

“Momentum is clearly on Sestak’s side at this point,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Well, I’m rooting for Sestak anyway. I just don’t see Arlen Specter as much of a Democrat.

Some interesting commentary on The New York Times’ biased coverage of the BP oil spill: A Gusher From the Newspaper of Record by Richard Ward at Counterpunch.

A couple of days ago I sent a comment in response to an article written by John M. Broder and Tom Zeller Jr. (“Gulf Oil Spill is Bad, but How Bad?” 5/3/10) that sounded like it could have come from the BP public relations department, downplaying the effects of the blowout in The Gulf of Mexico. Arguably the worst part of the article was a gross factual error stating that the Iraqis fleeing Kuwait in 1991 released 36 billion gallons of crude into the Persian Gulf. My comment: “Whoa! The Iraqis released nowhere near 36 billion gallons of crude in the Persian Gulf. The highest estimates are 500 million gallons. Somebody needs to activate the NYT’s fact checker. This is a real gusher. What’s going on here?”

The Times did not print this. A few hours later I tried again. Same comment, same result. Either they chose not to publish it or it wasn’t getting through. The next day I tried again, a sort of experiment, commenting on another article about the blowout, this time adopting a decidedly different tone: “Let’s all calm down and get a grip. In three weeks all this will be a memory. The best minds in the business are dealing with this. Relax people. Kudos to the Times for presenting us with a balanced point of view.” Not only did they print the comment, they put it in their highlight section, “a selection of the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views.”

Speaking of gushers: Actress Scarlett Johansson Gushes She’s Drunk the ‘Kool-Aid’ of ‘Amazing’ Obama. Johansson:

admitted on Wednesday night’s Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson that she was amongst those who “drank the Kool-aid” at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner last Saturday where she found him “amazing” and “hilarious.”

Obama administration continues its fight against the first amendment: Pentagon Bans Four Journalists From Guantanamo Bay for revealing name of witness.

The four journalists are Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Steven Edwards of Canwest, Paul Koring of the Globe & Mail and Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald. They are not being thrown off the base, but, as of now, they are barred from returning. [....]

While the judge in the case, Col. Patrick Parrish, issued an admonition yesterday for reporters to respect the anonymity of the classified witnesses, he did not rule that any reporter here had violated the protected order. The decision to block the four reporters from returning to Guantanamo Bay is a matter of policy from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. And those four are not the only ones within the press corps here to have reported Interrogator #1’s name.

Those four reporters comprise much of the institutional knowledge of Guantanamo Bay and the military commissions, as their colleagues widely acknowledge.

Huffpo: Senate Votes For Wall Street; Megabanks To Remain Behemoths

A move to break up major Wall Street banks failed Thursday night by a vote of 61 to 33.

Three Republicans, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Ensign of Nevada, voted with 30 Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in support of the provision. The author of the pending overall financial reform bill in the Senate, Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, voted against it. (See the full roll call.)

The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), would have required megabanks to be broken down in size and capped so that their individual failure would not bring down the entire system.

I guess most Senators would rather bring down the system than give up their campaign contributions from Wall Street.

Newsweek: Why the Media Ignored the Nashville Flood

As you may have heard, torrential downpours in the southeast flooded the Tennessee capital of Nashville over the weekend, lifting the Cumberland River 13 feet above flood stage, causing an estimated $1 billion in damage, and killing more than 30 people. It could wind up being one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history.

Or, on second thought, maybe you didn’t hear. With two other “disasters” dominating the headlines—the Times Square bombing attempt and the Gulf oil spill—the national media seems to largely to have ignored the plight of Music City since the flood waters began inundating its streets on Sunday. A cursory Google News search shows 8,390 hits for “Times Square bomb” and 13,800 for “BP oil spill.” “Nashville flood,” on the other hand, returns only 2,430 results—many of them local. As Betsy Phillips of the Nashville Scene writes, “it was mind-boggling to flip by CNN, MSNBC, and FOX on Sunday afternoon and see not one station even occasionally bringing their viewers footage of the flood, news of our people dying.”

Mike Allen at Politico says Obama will nominate Elena Kagan to SCOTUS next week, and he will also ask for a line-item veto (Dear God, no!)

NYT: Signs of Neanderthals Mating With Humans

Neanderthals mated with some modern humans after all and left their imprint in the human genome, a team of biologists has reported in the first detailed analysis of the Neanderthal genetic sequence. [....]

Scientists say they have recovered 60 percent of the genome so far and hope to complete it. By comparing that genome with those of various present day humans, the team concluded that about 1 percent to 4 percent of the genome of non-Africans today is derived from Neanderthals. But the Neanderthal DNA does not seem to have played a great role in human evolution, they said.

Experts believe that the Neanderthal genome sequence will be of extraordinary importance in understanding human evolutionary history since the two species split some 600,000 years ago.

The article also includes comments from a number of archaeologists and paleontologists who are skeptical of the conclusions of this study.

Here’s a new movie documentary that I’m really looking forward to seeing.

That’s all I’ve got this morning. What are you reading? Please share. And have a fabulous Friday!!!!

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