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    • What Toronto’s Election Means for Progressive Viability
      As many have heard, John Tory, the mainstream right wing candidate, won convincingly in Toronto and Olivia Chow came in third place, even doing worse than Doug Ford (brother of the famous crack-smoking Rob Ford.)  Much hand wringing has ensued that progressive just can’t win elections in Toronto. While it’s true that Toronto is hard [...]
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Iranian Autumn? and other news

The Iranians are in the streets again, protesting the regime of mullahs and Ahmedinejhad.

To paraphrase an old Sting song, “The Mullahs say they will bury you, I don’t agree with their point of view, it’s such an ignorant thing to do, if the Persians love their children too.”

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Americans are visiting the doctor less frequently.  It looks like the bipartisan plan to control medical costs via a program of sustained mass unemployment is working.

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Check these maps out in TheAtlanticCities if you want to see what happened to job growth since 2001 and in the last four years.  Not very pretty.

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Todd Akin (R), who is running for Senator of Missouri against eau-de-Democrat Claire McCaskill says that the government shouldn’t interfere with the way businesses operate even if it results in pay discrimination against women.

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Michael Lynch says in his article for the NYTimes Opinionator that persuasion by reason isn’t useless, it just takes longer than we like.  Eventually, we’ll have lost absolutely everything but maybe that’s what it will take before the gullible buy a clue.

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There really is a white male affirmative action program.  Let’s just cut the bullshit about all of the progress women have made and look at the facts, ok?

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True story: a couple of guys bought a house in Arizona a few years ago assuring the former owner’s daughters that they were going to restore it to its former architectural glory.  They didn’t.  Instead, they submitted plans to the local planning board to demolish the house, split the land into two lots and develop on it.  Except that this particular house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son, David, and it was one of the prototypes for the Guggenheim Museum’s spiral design.  If the couple who bought the house don’t get a buyer who meets their asking price of $2.2 million by tomorrow, it’s curtains for the house.  Thursday is when the demolition is scheduled to begin.  The Wright foundation says this house flew under their radar because David Wright never let anyone visit it even though it’s about 10 miles from Taliesan West.  It would be awful to see it destroyed.  The place looks like it would be beautiful if someone gave it some TLC.  Unfortunately, the new buyers are going to have to have a lot of money to restore it and maybe that’s the sticking point.  Preservationists are racing against the clock to get it designated as a historical landmark.  It looks like they’re not going to make the deadline though.

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Hey!  There’s a debate tonight.  The New York Times says you can learn a lot about candidates in debates by their body language.  They’re a little late to this party because that’s the way The Confluence used to watch debates during the 2008 season.  Here’s the plan: tune into the debate on C-Span or set your DVR, and turn off the sound.  It doesn’t matter what they say anyway and you can always rewatch the debate later.  Now, watch their bodies.  Record your impressions.  You may come to different conclusions about who won based on their body language.  We’ll run a liveblog simultaneously.

As for me, I’m inclined to do like James Carville and join the Cocktail Party.  I love a bit of whiskey in the fall.  But if your tastes lean in the effervescent direction, check out this pumpkin beer recipe served from a real pumpkin:

Punishing Penn State football is a “dumb idea”

Yaaaawwwn

I used to work in Happy Valley and as a former Pitt alum, it was pretty unpleasant.  State College is a football town, noooooo doubt about it.  Come the weekend, I couldn’t get out of town fast enough, what with the unbroken line of alumni cars winding their way up Rt 322 and the snarl of the Nittany Lion on the radio after every song.  It got old really fast and was the longest two years of my life.

But I agree with James Carville that suspending Penn State’s football team is pretty stupid.  I don’t recall any of the current players being accused of sexual assault of boys.  Oh sure, the administrators and Paterno knew what was going on but what does that have to do with the players?  What does that have to do with the entire student body, except some of them took hero worship so far they couldn’t tell when their hero turned out to have feet of clay?  And anyway, Paterno’s dead, although it looks like he started his decomposition prematurely a few years ago.  Why in Gawd’s name didn’t he retire twenty years ago??

I understand the desire to punish.  But this is like, “I’m not saying it was your fault, I’m saying we’re going to blame you.”  Punishing the team creates a whole new set of victims.  Punish the coaches instead, fire all of the staff but don’t deprive the town, students and players from being insufferable football fans.  The quicker the right people are held accountable, the quicker the place can get back to normal.

Football is all they have.  Without it, State College is just plain fricking boring and they’ll be left to competitive cow tipping.

Friday, Friday

Before I head on down to the basement to do more painting, and more painting today on the hallways (gosh, I’m beginning to sound like Lambert and his endless painting chores), I’d just like to clear something up about Obama’s sudden revelation about marriage equality.

He came out for marriage equality.  Good.

He also said it should be left to the states.  Bad.

He said it should be left to the states *after* it had been defeated, stomped on, drawn, quartered, burned and left on a pole at the state house in Raleigh, North Carolina.  So, he took no risks by saying he was for it.  In fact, one might interpret his timing as a tacit approval of the actions of the conservative voters of North Carolina.  {{wink, wink, say no more, know what I mean, gov’nah?}} This way, he risks nothing.

So, why bother? It’s because he LGBT community was pissed at him for not preventing discrimination in government contracts, which, in my humble opinion is just as important.  From Greg Sargent’s post on the subject a few days ago:

Some leading gay and progressive donors are so angry over President Obama’s refusal to sign an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors that they are refusing to give any more money to the pro-Obama super PAC, a top gay fundraiser’s office tells me. In some cases, I’m told, big donations are being withheld.

Jonathan Lewis, the gay philanthropist and leading Democratic fundraiser, is one of many gay advocates who has been working behind the scenes to pressure Obama to change his mind. When Obama decided against the executive order last month, arguing that he would pursue a legislative solution instead, advocates were furious — such a solution will never pass Congress, the executive order has been a priority for advocates for years, and the move smacked of a political cave to conservatives who will not support Obama no matter what he does.

I’m sorry, but there is absolutely no excuse for him not to sign this executive order that has been hanging around for years.  In the four years that he’s been in office, he could have pursued a legislative solution but he hasn’t.  So, why not just sign the order?  Isn’t discrimination a bad thing, especially when it comes to government contracts?  Presumably, we want the best contractors to do the work for our country and some of them might be gay.  How can it ever be right to not hire or fire a person who is doing good work for you simply on the basis of sexual orientation?  I find it inexcusable, like keeping the Bush Conscience Clause on the books until three years after his inauguration.  Three fricking years.  And he only rescinded it in the midst of that stupid battle with the red beanie boys over birth control.  That conscience clause was severely impinging on women’s access to reproductive health measures and he only partially rescinded it.  Why did it take him three years to rescind a hated clause that his predecessor put in to please the religious right?

THREE YEARS.  Unbelievable. Ms. Magazine’s superfeminist shouldn’t have waited past the inaugural balls to rescind that wretched thing.  But Obama?  Where was the rush?  The immediacy?  Where indeed.

So, Obama was looking at a shortfall in campaign contributions.  To get back in the LGBT community’s good graces, he came out for marriage equality knowing very well that his endorsement was coupled with the idea that states could do anything they damn well please.  This cost him nothing politically.  The social conservatives who weren’t going to vote for him before aren’t going to vote for him now.  The social conservatives who like him but don’t like marriage equality know they can vote against it and Obama doesn’t care.

The only people who were hoodwinked and bamboozled by this are Obama fans.

Yes, it’s a victory for the LGBT community.  They’ve eeked support out of a sitting president. It’s too bad it came so late in his first term, has no teeth, doesn’t precipitate a move of the 2012 Democratic National Convention from North Carolina to some other state, like Vermont, and was *clearly* driven by the need to fundraise.  No, no, don’t even try to convince me that he feels passionately about this.  I’m guessing that he doesn’t really feel passion about anything that doesn’t affect him directly.  I mean, supposedly, he’s a pro-choice president but I doubt you’ll ever hear him say that women have the right to make their own decisions about abortion without the interference of half a dozen family members and social institutions.

He’s not a nice guy.  He’s not a great president.  He’s just an overconfident underperforming politician whose big money guys are stingy this year.  This is about Obama, not Hillary.  You can say all you want about Hillary.  She’s an adult and can take care of herself.  But please, give up trying to convince me that this man is God’s gift to the country and for god’s sakes, stop making excuses for his impotency.  We are really tired of excuses.  Maybe you guys are too chickenshit to ask him to step down for the good of the country but stop trying to convince, intimidate or whine to us about why we must choose him this fall.  We own our votes and we’ll give them to people who act like they actually believe in something.

Ok, looks like I’m done harshing your mellow.  Must go paint…

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Wait, I’m not done yet after all.  A couple of days ago, James Carville told Democrats to STFU about how they’ve got the election in the bag this fall because they could easily lose.  Yes, there is a surplus of unearned overconfidence about trouncing Romney.  I’m going third party this year but I understand where Carville is coming from.  No matter what you say about Romney and his youthful indiscretions with hair clippers, he ran for office in Massachusetts and won.  As far as states go, it doesn’t get bluer than that.  And he’s already tied with Obama in latest polls well inside the margin of error.

As Carville says, voters will go with the person they think cares about them.  It doesn’t matter how many terrorists you slay, if your constituents have suffered through job losses, foreclosures and loss of health insurance, and there is still no end in sight, they will hold you personally responsible.  Obama’s campaign and other Democrats ignore this at their peril.

They also seem to be ignoring the effects of outsourcing our scientific infrastructure and the loss of high paying, middle class, suburban jobs who were once held by people who do not need additional education to fit in to the present job market.  Democrats are still in la-la land if they think we don’t notice how we’ve been abandoned by their party.  We will not forget who stood by and did nothing.

Tuesday: Clearing the Instapaper Queue

Let’s see, what have we got in there today:

1.) How useless is marketing?  Let me count the ways.  I went into Lowes the other day to buy some molding for my generic builder’s grade bathroom mirror.  The guy showed me *one* profile that would fit my mirror.  One.  I told him it was too narrow.  You know that fricking “take it or leave it” shrug that 60 year old men who work in the molding department of Lowes give you?  That shrug that makes you want to shoot him through the throat with an arrow just to watch the surprised look on his face while you stand over him saying, “Bet you’ll never do that again”?  Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah, the reason why Lowes doesn’t have the right molding with the channel on the back that goes around the mirror clips is because some smug asshole in marketing decided YOU didn’t NEED it in zip code 02134 (That’s ZOOM!).  Welcome to Soviet Suburbia where everyone gets to choose the same mediocre decor, food and fashion that all your neighbors will buy as determined by your local demographic and mined studiously by some MBA in marketing.  You’ll never get anything different because nothing different is ever offered for sale and therefore does not go into the database as the kind of thing your demographic will buy.  No, it doesn’t make any sense.  That means if you want something with taste, style or is a smidge different, you have to keep shopping out of your area or go online to buy it.  Fun.  Just what I always wanted to do.  I hate to shop.

Anyway, here’s an article from the NYTimes about marketing for the upcoming movie, The Hunger Games, which I am dying to see this Friday.  If you haven’t read the book by Suzanne Collins, I highly recommend it.  It’s young adult fiction but it’s really too good for sarcastic, sulky adolescents.  So this article is all about marketing and how this guy is marketing his skills as a marketer to market a movie that needed zero marketing and how he created this facebook page and a website and trailers and stuff and that’s why the movie is going to be the blockbuster that ate Jurrasic Park.

No, the movie is going to be a monster blockbuster because the books were that good and it features Jennifer Lawrence, who is the next Meryl Streep.  The distributer should have saved the money.  All it would have taken is one or two trailers on TV or youtube to have screaming girls from 12 to 64 lined up around the theater on Friday.  Twilight?  What’s Twilight?

When are American businesses going to learn that the thing that marketers sell best is themselves?  Other than that, they’re fricking useless.

2.) A new height for helicopter parenting: purge your house of “toxins” before the little tyke comes home from the hospital.  It’s the new “vaccines cause autism” and “genetically modified crops are bad” thing.  {{rolling eyes}}  Like you can isolate your kid forever from the world.  Oh, please, don’t even tell me how there are things that can harm and cause cancer and they’re in everything, EVERYTHING!  You nervous types really need to chill.  Rats get cancer from anything, ask any phamacologist.  They’re kind of prone to it.  A rat study is just a warning that if you eat a ton of that stuff or breathe it 24/7 for 20 years, you *may* get sick.  There are better tests than rat studies.  If you have time to worry about this instead of some poor kid drinking polluted water in a third world country, you’re making way too much money or you need to find a hobby.  Like palm reading or astrology or some other embarrassing belief in things you can’t understand.

Yes, I am a little irritated this morning.  Why do you ask?  The world is full of gullible people freaking and going to extremes when they really just need to use common sense and stop feeding their kids formaldehyde.

3.) David Silverman, head of American Atheists, writes Why We Need a Reason Rally for the Washington Post.  Um, because way too few Americans actually use reason in everyday life?  Just a guess.  David says:

America is one of the most religious countries in the world. And if you are non-religious, it can seem that without religion you cannot be elected to public office, cannot be considered a moral or ethical person, or be considered a patriot. It does not appear to matter what religious beliefs you cling to so long as you can tell anyone who asks, “Yes, sir or ma’am, I believe in God.”

Well, when you put it that way.  He makes it sound like there’s an incentive to lie about religious beliefs.  Hey, how many of the 12% of Congressional representatives and senators that are non-religious can we expect to come out at The Reason Rally on Saturday?

What does secular America believe?

3.5) From Derek Lowe’s blog, In the Pipeline, news of a new study that shows that cancerous tumors are full of hypermutable cell lines.  In other words, in some cancerous tumors, there is a heterogenous collection of cancerous cells containing different mutations. This may be caused by the first mutation running wild and setting off other cell mutations and before you know it, you’ve got a bunch of cells breaking free and getting into trouble. This is the kind of thing geeky evolutionists get off on.  The bottom line is that it’s going to take a lot more work for us to get to the bottom of what’s going on in every cell.

Too bad we’re all laid off.  Bummer.

4.) This one’s funny.  Fox News says that James Carville said that Hillary was going to run in 2016.  I read this blurb and Carville said no such thing.  It’s what he didn’t say that intrigues me.

5.) Paul Krugman is having another “Hey, guys, we’ve been eating grass” moment about Barack Obama’s persistent intimidation by the Washington Press corps and how that has made his policies suck, big time. In his blog post, Political Malpractice, Krugman writes:

Finally, it’s hard not to have the sense that when political types in this administration talk about appealing to “voters”, what they really mean is appealing to self-proclaimed centrist pundits who claim to have their fingers on the pulse of independent voters. Aside from the fact that they don’t — that the complicated psychodramas concocted by pundits exist only in their heads, not the heads of voters — experience shows that nothing Obama can do will satisfy these guys; they need, professionally, to maintain the pretense that both sides of the political divide are equally extreme. How many columns have you read demanding that someone stake out centrist positions that happen to be exactly what Obama has already been saying?

I have to say that the various accounts of what went wrong are converging on a very depressing picture, in which White House political “experts” actually believed that trying to please the Washington Post editorial page was a winning political move.

And I worry that they’ll double down on this mistake in an effort to prove that they were right all along.

Ya’ think?  Hey, did you know that the economy is recovering?  Neither did I.

6.) Dave Weigel at Slate wonders Why Obama ever won in the first place and gets some honest answers which may come as a bit of a shock to the Obama campaign that is still thinking it had something to do with his political gifts,  genius campaign and brilliant speaking style.

7.) And finally, my dream house, off the grid, in Extremadura, Spain.  I love the water features and the happy accidents they produce.   Contributions for making my dream a reality are gratefully accepted.  Get me out of New Jersey before I break out my bow and arrows and go hunting.

Remind me again, which party is stupid?

The other day, I found this link from Corrente’s post, Who’s Going Rogue?, to what I initially thought was the left coming to its senses.  It’s all about the “secret” meetings that Democratic donors are having about the 2012 election season.  It turns out that what we had suspected in 2008 was true.  Obama had captured the donors and had all of them funnel their money to his campaign instead of outside advocacy groups.  Peachy.

Well, those groups have seen what the last two years of Obamaism hath wrought and they’re not going to do THAT again, by golly.  No, by neddyjingo, they won’t get fooled again.  In 2012, they’re going to give their money to whomever they please and not just solely to Obama:

In meetings this past week, some of the top financiers in the party advanced discussions about building a third-party apparatus to counter that on the Republican side of the aisle. The tone, said one person involved in the talks, was remarkably different from 2008, when the Obama campaign urged donors to funnel money strictly into their coffers. In 2010, similar requests are being made — but they’re not always heeded.

“Those days are other,” said the individual. “It is a really big sea shift. People said we need an outside structure and we are going to do it. It is no longer ‘Will you give us permission to do it, sir.'”

As is often the case in Democratic circles, little consensus was reached over the past week. If anything, the meeting of the Democracy Alliance — a formal community of well-funded, progressive-minded individuals and activists — ended with more lingering questions and promises for future discussions than concrete answers. Among the issues left unresolved were how a third-party group would be structured, what it would cost, and whether it was more effective to decry outside money helping Republicans or to simply match the Republican’s outside money.

“There probably is some kind of need [for a third-party outlet]. The one thing about us though is when we lose we have a lot of meetings. We are not even getting started on the retreats or retrospectives,” said James Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist, during an unrelated breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “There is probably going to be one now, it is just the nature of what it is. Undoubtedly the Democrats will have symposiums and retreats.”

Hurrah!  They are finally getting the picture.  These donors are not going to let Obama take their money without some kind of pro quo for their quid.  They demand satisf… wait… what’s this at the end?

That such money would be available to help Democratic causes is in and of itself a remarkable reflection about the evolution of the party. In 2008, attempts to build an independent arm was essentially axed when the Obama campaign nixed donor giving to outside functions. This go-around, even the president’s team seems to be of the mindset that such a tight restriction on funds is impractical or perhaps disadvantageous.

One of the things the White House is recognizing as they think about the reelect is it is going to cost a lot of money, which is not to say the last one didn’t,” said one Democracy Alliance attendee. “It will be an expensive campaign though and they will need some help with it.”

Hunh?

Ohhhh, OK, I get it.  They still have a crush on Obama.  B to the A the R-A-C-K, O-B-A-M-A!

It’s not that they’ll be pushing Obama from the left so much as they will be “perceived” to be pushing Obama from the left.  What they will really be doing is the same old thing and funneling all of the cash they will be hauling in from their duped small donors directly into Obama’s re-election campaign.

So, the outside advocacy groups will take our money and shake their tiny fists and wail at the Obama administration and the blue meanie Republicans and then turn around and use the money to help Obama’s re-election campaign.

Sweeeet!

Wait!  Let’s back up a minute.  This whole scenario depends on the general public sort of already buying into the idea that Obama will not be challenged in his own party.  Says who?

Oh, sure, the press will keep beating Hillary over the head with the question of whether she will run in 2012 and she will (carefully) keep denying it. (OMG, Andrew Sullivan says Hillary has finally won him over- as long as she behaves quietly at State and doesn’t make a fuss.  Oh, please, what nauseating bilge.)  And, heck, it might even be true.  But who’s to say that there won’t be some other Democrat or third party candidate who will see all of the disaffected Democrats and working class stiffs that both parties have left on the table and swoop down to grab them?  In fact, if ever in the history of the US of A there was a better time for an Independent or primary challenger to win, this would be it.

These donors are stupid.  They were stupid in 2008 and they’re just as stupid now.  They are falling for the Obama Haka once again.  He’s the only one.  No one else cares about them but him.  No one else dares challenge him.  That’s a crock of frog bollocks.   There he goes, strutting around like the proverbial cock on the walk and as James Carville says, he’s got no balls.  The donors should do an aggressive pat-down on him to find out but they’re too afraid.

And I don’t buy this nonsense that it wouldn’t be genteel or couth for Hillary to challenge him.  Does anyone think for one minute that the assholes who ran Obama’s campaign would have given two $#@%s about running HER over?  Um, no.  We already know they have no scruples when it comes to dirty campaigning.  But they expect Hillary to not feel her cheerios and put aside every concern she may have for her country so as to protect Obama’s and the DNC’s sense of propriety?

At this point, it doesn’t matter what the donors think or what Hillary thinks or Obama thinks or the DNC thinks.  All that matters is that there are hundreds of millions of Americans right now who see their lifestyles negotiated away by Barack Obama and his Democratic Congress and they are ready to throw Obama out.  No, I’m not kidding.  It’s only going to get worse in the next two years and his chances of turning this ship around are rapidly fading.  By the time 2012 rolls around, his re-election is going to look remote, just like the Democratic Congress’ re-election this November looked remote.  We saw it from a mile away.  When the Republicans go all Fallujah on Obama’s ass in the next two years, he’s going to start looking like a punching bag and no one wants to vote for four more years of that.

At that point, we will want an uncouth, uncivil. hairy, unibrowed renegade from the left to push Obama out.  A left wing version of Atilla the Hun will look like a viable alternative.   The left doesn’t produce many of them from its Stevensonian branch, which is why Obama’s retainers should feel really nervous right about now.

It is too late to try to cheer Obama on for a second term.  And anyone who attempts to do so should be gagged for being irresponsible and dishonest.  He is what he is, which is what we told them he is.  He is an opportunistic, Republican lite politician who does not have the experience or the temperament to operate the levers of government to get things done for the vast majority of Americans.  We already know this in 2010.  An infusion of spine is by no means guaranteed to work and is likely to be shortlived anyway.  If he gets re-elected in 2012, what’s going to stop him from reverting to form?

We gave this guy the job and we have evaluated his performance and found him lacking.  He is not entitled to a second term.  He has to earn it.  So far, he isn’t doing that.  But the Democratic donors have decided to play it safe and re-elect him even though they don’t like him or his policies, forcing him back on the hapless voters in 2012.  And we call Palin voters stupid? Hey, it’s their money.  Just don’t ask me to throw my good, hard earned money down that drain too.

Do us all a favor and get Hillary or someone of her political persuasion to run.  Just save us all the time and agony of a prolonged death by bipartisanship Obama style. He can’t win in 2012 no matter how many billions you siphon to him on the side.  Stick a fork in him, he’s done.

James Carville: “If Hillary gave up one of her balls…

…and gave it to Obama, they’d both have two.”

That’s what James Carville is supposed to have said at a breakfast meeting this morning.  (Why don’t I get to go to breakfast with James Carville?? )

But James is wrong.

Hillary has ovaries of kryptonite.

There’s more to it than that.  Stan Greenberg and Carville were discussing the Democrats’ poor messaging that lead to the midterm elections debacle.  Mostly, he’s correct:

Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg said the party’s massive election losses earlier this month are attributable to poor messaging that made Democrats and the White House look “out of touch.”

Greenberg, who was former President Clinton’s top pollster during the 1992 presidential race, criticized President Obama’s repeated use of the “car in the ditch” metaphor on the campaign trail, suggesting that it contributed to the impression that Democrats in Washington are tone deaf.

“A metaphor about a car in the ditch when people are in trouble and angry about the abuse of Wall Street, it’s just out of touch with what’s going on,” said Greenberg.

Speaking to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, both Greenberg and Carville slammed the party’s election messaging, calling it a mistake to argue that Democratic policies were contributing to economic growth while the unemployment rate remained near 10 percent.

Carville said that while most messaging tends to just “go in one ear and out the other,” the Democratic message this past fall “went in one ear and right to the brain. What were they thinking?”

But then he kinda screws up (or he’s using reverse psychology):

Despite both strategists lambasting the Democratic approach in 2010, Carville said the presidential outlook for Obama in 2012 is a positive one.

“The deck he’s going to be playing with in 2012 is going to be fundamentally more favorable than the one he played with in 2010,” said Carville, arguing that young voters and minorities will come out in large numbers two years from now, making the face of the electorate significantly more Democratic.

“Republicans are forced to double down on older whites,” Carville said. “And longterm, that’s not a very productive place to be.”

What about all the people in the middle, especially working women, who just handed the Democrats their asses?  They’re the ones who stayed home.  You think they’re going to forget the four years where they were shut out of the system and when Obama treated us with contempt?

Wake up and smell the beignets, James.

Oil Spill Coverup: What the President Knew and When He Knew It

Clueless or Criminal?

Good Morning, Conflucians!! I shut down my computer early last night and watched the Dateline story on the Gulf, followed by Anderson Cooper. When I logged onto TC this morning, I read Dakinikat’s heartbreaking report from the Gulf and then started surfing around to find the latest news.

Right away I found an article that shook me to my core. I still feel as if someone punched me in the gut. I don’t know why it affected me so strongly–I kind of knew everything in it already. But to see it spelled out in plain English, and by this author just shocked me:

Obama Knew the Spill Was Hopeless, by Richard Wolffe.

The president was not only briefed on the real-time events of the spill, but also on just how bad it would be—and how hard it would be to plug the hole.

Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, told Obama at one of the earliest briefings in late April that the blowout would likely lead to an unprecedented environmental disaster, senior White House aides told The Daily Beast. Browner warned that capping a well at such depths had never been done before, and that they ought to expect an oil spill that would continue until a relief well was drilled in August, the aide said. [....]

The fact that Team Obama was warned of the extent of the disaster so early on suggests that White House officials were aware of the environmental challenge long before they decided to demonstrate concern via presidential visits to the Gulf.

So what did the White House decide to focus on?

Given the lack of technical capabilities on the sea floor, there’s not much the White House can do to plug the hole. And there are limited options for effectively preventing the oil from reaching large stretches of coastline. Instead, Obama’s team is focusing on the options at their immediate disposal—methods of news management and presidential communication.

Unbelievable! Did the administration somehow think they could conceal the extent of the catastrophe? In the first place effects of the disaster are visible to people who live near the Gulf. Did they imagine somehow they could prevent the press from covering it by getting BP and the Coast Guard to keep them out? Or did they think they could influence the press coverage to prevent most Americans from understanding the true national and even global effects of BP’s malfeasance? Did they think the oil might not spread to Alabama and Florida beaches where there would it would affect more tourists?

If the administration really did this, they have far outstripped Nixon and Watergate. Did they not understand that everything would eventually come out and the American people would see them as criminally negligent and in the pockets of BP just as much as they are in the pockets of Goldman Sachs? Did they not realize that the media would ultimately rebel against efforts to limit their access to a compelling national story?

Wouldn’t it have been better in the long run to be open with the American people and explain how bad a crisis we were facing? And then they could have mobilized every resource available–government experts, scientists, private businesspeople, as well as experts from other oil companies–to clean up the oil and prevent as much of it from coming ashore as possible. Instead, as Wolffe writes, the administration responded with passive fatalism.

Even more unbelievable to me is the fact that Richard Wolffe seems to have written his article in an effort to defend the administration’s response to the BP-created ecological catastrophe. Wolffe explains that the reason the administration is angry with James Carville is that Carville didn’t return a phone call from Thad Allen after his (Carville’s) first public outburst. Did they really think they could soothe Carville somehow? Or did they think they could buy him off?

Wolffe concludes by saying that for now the administration is watching the polls, and they think Americans are more worried about the economy than the oil spill. I guess either Obama and his handlers don’t understand how much the events in the Gulf will affect our economy, or they are just trying to postpone the explosion of public anger as long as possible. Either way, they are criminals.

What are you reading this morning? Post your links in the comments as always. And your weekend as best you can despite all the bad news.

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