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      Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – January 29, 2023 by Tony Wikrent   Altercation: Goodbye and Thanks Eric Alterman, January 27, 2023 [The American Prospect] The key question I want to leave people with is this: Given the lack of guardrails, how far are these people willing to go? Trump is as popular as he was before January 6th and has been invited back on […]
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Rummaging through the archives / Awards Sunday

Newspaper archive

I finally got around to reading Jeffrey Goldberg’s essay about the upcoming war against Iran. I had pretty much the same reaction many people who remember the run up the Iraq war had: “Oh no! One of those who helped pushed the Iraq war with bogus arguments is back with another war. Why should we listen to ANY of those who got it so wrong last time?”

I went beyond the Iraq war and started wondering how badly people have to be wrong about a major event or a major topic before we stop caring about any opinion they utter. Why do we stop taking someone who has produced a giant stinking pile of dung seriously?

The last major even we had in this country was the 2008 political season. I went through my archives and reviewed some stuff some bloggers and pundits have written. It was all so good I decided to award some prizes. See if you agree with me or if you some suggestions.

Best “why-would-anybody-still-care-about-anything-this-pundit-has-to-say-about-anything” column

Who can forget the hagiography written by Andrew Sullivan about how Obama and Obama alone, MUST be President NOW? It was probably THE momentous piece of dreck essay of the political season of 2008.

Goodbye to All That: Why Obama Matters

In politics, timing matters. And the most persuasive case for Obama has less to do with him than with the moment he is meeting. The moment has been a long time coming, and it is the result of a confluence of events, from one traumatizing war in Southeast Asia to another in the most fractious country in the Middle East. The legacy is a cultural climate that stultifies our politics and corrupts our discourse.

Obama’s candidacy in this sense is a potentially transformational one. Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us. So much has happened in America in the past seven years, let alone the past 40, that we can be forgiven for focusing on the present and the immediate future. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a momentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

Wow! Isn’t Andrew Sullivan a sage?

Most prescient post written in the election season of 2008

This column was written on 12/07/06. This blogger’s premonition was stunning. Is this really who we are?

The Serial Killing of Hillary Rodham Clinton: How and Why She Is Doomed in 2008

Hillary will go down in the primary cycle, at the hands of activist Democrats themselves, her people, her base. This the press will read as deep and thrilling Greek tragedy. (You can already see this in the breathless press accounts of the way in which Obama might steal Hillary’s African-American constituency out from under her.)

Do I believe this? Yes. Am I happy about it? No. Because the serial hunting of Hillary is an expression of the worst American impulses, our obsession with personalities and the childish cruelty built into our current journalistic institutions.


In short, if Hillary flies, we will torture her and pull off her wings. It’s who we still are.

Keep in mind this was written before either Hillary or Obama officially declared their intention to run for POTUS.

Most insightful post of the political season of 2008

On the eve of Ted Kennedy’s official endorsement of Barack Obama, faux-Conservative Jon Swift wrote a thought-provoking, very insightful and witty column about the real reason for the column. (On a sad note, Jon Swift aka Al Weisel passed on early this year, way too soon. May he RIP.)

Why the Kennedys Are Endorsing Obama

Like Kennedy, Obama is young, handsome and inspiring and he represents the passing of the torch to a new generation. But it is not just that Obama reminds them of Kennedy, it is also that the Clintons remind them of Lyndon Johnson. And if there is anything that the Kennedys don’t like, it’s a bunch of hillbillies in the White House, which is being kept in trust until a competent Kennedy can be groomed to take it back for its rightful owners. Until that time Obama will do.


No one loved the Kennedys and hated Johnson more than liberals and the liberal media and they feel the same way about the Clintons. “Is the right right on the Clintons?” liberal pundit Jonathan Chait asks in an article in the Los Angeles Times. For years conservatives have been saying that the Clintons give politics a bad name. We look back with nostalgia to a time when gentlemanly Democrats like Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey lost elections with grace and dignity. They didn’t go around smearing their opponents and cynically triangulating the way the Clintons do. Now many liberals and members of the liberal media are coming around to thinking we’ve been right all along.

Jon Swift´s sharp witticism will never be matched.

Best damned column of the political season of 2008

This most coveted prize goes to my peeps at BAR. This is one of my favorite columns of all time. You can pick any paragraph and highlight it, which makes it so hard to excerpt. It exposes so much delusion. Just go read it for yourself.

So Long Suckers

The Obama campaign slogan ought to be “Never give a sucker an even break.” It isn’t clear which sight is more painful to watch, the progressives who fell for the hype and are now heart broken or the cynics who knew the game all along and now applaud the campaign’s increasingly rightward shift.


The endless claims of change were phony and almost everyone knew it. It was never a matter of sounding the alarm to unsuspecting Obamaites, it was a matter of exposing political hucksters who found a new source of unsuspecting marks.

If there were any true political organizing in American politics, the Obama sham would be seen for what it is. Instead corrupt Democratic leaders sell snake oil, and the rank and file go along in confusion or succumb to paralysis out of fear of electing John McCain. Because progressives never fought the good fight amongst themselves, they still don’t know what their agenda ought to be, or worse yet, they don’t even know they should have one. Falling for high flown rhetoric became a substitute for hard headed political decision making.

Damn this column is good. It was written on 07/01/08, right after Obama secured the nomination and it gets better each time I read it.

Best column to keep just for the sake of making fun of its author

This one was probably my easiest pick: The famous “Out with party silos, in with squishy goo-goos” column from Chris Bower about how Obama was remaking the Democratic Party. All of TC front-pagers and regular commenter know this column. I challenge anyone out there to come up with something this guffaw inducing.

Changing Of the Guard

Cultural Shift: Out with Bubbas, up with Creatives: There should be a major cultural shift in the party, where the southern Dems and Liebercrat elite will be largely replaced by rising creative class types. Obama has all the markers of a creative class background, from his community organizing, to his Unitarianism, to being an academic, to living in Hyde Park to shopping at Whole Foods and drinking PBR. These will be the type of people running the Democratic Party now, and it will be a big cultural shift from the white working class focus of earlier decades. Given the demographics of the blogosphere, in all likelihood, this is a socioeconomic and cultural demographic into which you fit. Culturally, the Democratic Party will feel pretty normal to netroots types. It will consistently send out cultural signals designed to appeal primarily to the creative class instead of rich donors and the white working class.


Vilest op-ed of the political season of 2008

Originally, I designated this op-ed as “assholish”, but then I thought I was taking it too lightly. The column was just vile. A random comment displayed on the side box gives you an idea:

“Last week Hillary Clinton was a monster. Now she’s the Ku Klux Klan? … This is the real fear mongering.”Julia Stewart, St. Louis, MO

The Red Phone in Black and White

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

How can anyone of Orlando Patterson’s students take him seriously after that?

As a bonus, I’m getting out of the political season of 2008 to hand another prize: I don’t know if this should some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award.

Best “Why-isn’t-the-author-of-this-insanity-in-an-insane-asylum” column

It was clear to me something written by Peggy Noonan would be a strong contender in such category. In fact I think Peggy has often proven that she’s certifiably insane, yet people still take her seriously. The column she wrote after the FBI removed Elian Gonzalez from him Miami relatives and hand him to his biological father is hard to beat in it’s level of craziness. In it, she actually believed the story about dolphins forming an army and going to war against white sharks and delivering young Elian to fishermen. Or something like that.

Why Did They Do It?

From the beginning it was a story marked by the miraculous. It was a miracle a six-year-old boy survived the storm at sea and floated safely in an inner tube for two days and nights toward shore; a miracle that when he tired and began to slip, the dolphins who surrounded him like a contingent of angels pushed him upward; a miracle that a fisherman saw him bobbing in the shark-infested waters and scooped him aboard on the morning of Nov. 25, 1999, the day celebrated in America,the country his mother died bringing him to, as Thanksgiving.

Here’s Ms Noonan in the same column speculating why Clinton had the gall the let the feds act:

Was Mr. Clinton being blackmailed? The Starr report tells us of what the president said to Monica Lewinsky about their telephone sex: that there was reason to believe that they were monitored by a foreign intelligence service. Naturally the service would have taped the calls, to use in the blackmail of the president. Maybe it was Mr. Castro’s intelligence service,or that of a Castro friend.

This is not really surprising from the woman who thought James Caviezel was actually Jesus and who ran around during the political season of 2008 accusing Hillary Clinton of being the owner of Hillary is 44.

What is in your archive? Who is your award recipient? Feel free to come up with your own prize. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the 2008 election cycle or even politics.

Sarah Palin is neither the problem, nor the solution.

While the national debate over the Mythical Threat of the (not-just-a) Mosque (not) at Ground Zero continues, I’d like to distract your attention to that other national distraction… who else but Sarah Palin?

Actually, what I am going to say here is ultimately not about her, either. It’s about all of us as Americans. But, sadly I stand a better chance of getting your attention this way.

Why? Because it’s become a national pastime to hyperventilate over Sarah Palin.

Either by obsessing over her as if she were the One True Evil to bash all the livelong day to Obama’s re-election in 2012.

Or, by propping her up as the Pioneer Woman Fix to American politics today, by virtue of a good ol’ fashioned slap in the face to the Good Ol’ Club.

Neither of these narrow views of Palin get at the truth as far as I’m concerned.

Sarah Palin is a female pol building a rightwinger populist brand. She is actively courting the grassroots on the hard right. As is her right. She’s her own woman and she’s chosen to argue for a rightwing worldview.

From my leftwing feminist worldview, Sarah Palin is not the problem with American politics today nor is she the solution to it.

For her conservative grassroots, she may very well be their idea of a solution. That’s nice for them.

It’s better than I can say for the grassroots on the left right now anyways, which is all the more sad because not only did we have our own Rosie-the-riveter telling us We Can Do It, not only was she 16-years battle-tested against the vast right wing and the tabloid stream press, not only was she a policy wonk who could get things done, but she understood the crux of the problem with American politics today was the “trust bust” (a theme that goes back to her Hillary Rodham days at Wellesley).

From the Dream Ticket Debate in Los Angeles, California, January 2008:

Hillary: Well, I would, with all due respect, say that the United States government is much more than a business. It is a trust. It is the most complicated organization. But it is not out to make a profit. It is out to help the American people. It is about to stand up for our values and to do what we should at home and around the world to keep faith with who we are as a country. And with all due respect, we have a president who basically ran as the CEO, MBA president, and look what we got. I am not too happy about the results.

Obama: Let me — let me just also point out that, you know, Mitt Romney hasn’t gotten a very good return on his investment during this presidential campaign And so, I’m happy to take a look at my management style during the course of this last year and his. I think they compare fairly well.

The prose of governing versus the poetry of campaigning. Hillary understood.

She was no hopey dopey Change to Pretty Please Believe In.

Nor was she any flimsy whimsy Mama Grizzly.

She was a Master Tigress. (And, still is!)

Point being, it’s not like the grassroots on the left didn’t have the chance to thwart the Mama Grizzly phenomenon before it ever got started. We were right there on the verge. 18 million of us were ready. It could have been the Decade of Master Tigresses. However…

As Corzine put it recently, “she would have been able to handle this Congress… but it was just Obama’s time.””

Snort! If you *still* rationalize voting for Obama over Hillary because it was “just Obama’s time,” then please withhold any “concern” you may have about the rise of Mama Grizzlies. Male empty suits aren’t the only ones who “just have their time,” you know.

What Palin does with the power base she’s building, time will only tell. Everybody seems to have all kinds of theories about her political maneuvering and her political chances and what a President Palin’s governing style would be like in comparison to her rhetoric. But, I really don’t have much of a sense of any of that other than a general feeling of “neither here, nor there.” Citizen Sarah seems to be enjoying the ride and living in the moment and already has 12 million reasons and counting to laugh all the way to the bank.

As for Palin’s chances at the presidency were she to ever run, all I can say is that after experiencing the open season on women pols and their supporters in 2008, I really see the nomination process itself as a huge hurdle, forget about the general election. One of the two major wings (D or R) of the United Corporations of America will have to make a woman their nominee before I’ll believe either the Ds or Rs are capable of it. So far they’ve only proven how capable they are of using women as scapegoats to prop up men with very little leadership and conviction of their own to stand on.

As such, I firmly believe the bimbostein bogeywoman of Sarah Palin is one that exists in the cynical hearts and fevered imaginations of a bankrupt Democratic party that increasingly has had nothing to run on, so it desperately needs someone to keep on running against all the way to 2012. Some party of women that is.

Mother Jones, who in a very different time did not have the right to vote and did not support women’s suffrage once said:

“I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country! You don’t need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!”

If you want to combat the rightwing memes and policies spread by Mama Grizzlies (as I do), the only effective way (to my mind) is to build up the hellraisers who can provide a real meaningful alternative to those rightwing memes/policies. Tearing down Palin’s womanhood will not stop the rightwing agenda. Caricaturing her as a backwoods biddy will not stop the attack on women’s rights.

Because here is the real problem (this is a screenshot, you can click on this link to the chart to see it in its entirety, or click on the image below for a larger view):

Note: This is not an endorsement of the Green party. I have not made up my mind yet but am looking at all my third party options.

I just think the chart is hilarious all around, but most especially where it says “Right to Choose.”

See that Question mark next to Democratic support?

It’s the same thing that I call the Asterisk Next to Women’s Rights.

This is the real attack on our right to choose. The party that claims to be protectors of that right has put a huge asterisk next to it.

The difference between the Party of Mama Grizzly and the Party of Papa Stupak is no difference at all. There is no party of women’s rights, just a system meant to restrict those rights thus keeping them in perpetual limbo. The Mama Grizzly party’s stated aims are actually more or less consistent with that agenda, so at least they are more honest about what they are up to. The Democrats pretend to protect women’s rights only to sell them out.

This is not acceptable. Listen to Eleanor’s Advice! Don’t Mess with Women’s Rights:

“The battle for the individual rights of women is one of long standing and none of us should countenance anything which undermines it.” –First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

The damage done with Stupakistan is two-fold:

On the practical level of the equity argument, poor women should have the same freedom, access, and ability to exercise their choice on abortion as wealthy women do. The reverse should not essentially be codified into law.

And, on a fundamental level of political freedom, it keeps women still vulnerable in the back alley of politics, with the figurative choice between a coathanger (Democrats) or barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen (Republicans). When American women are unable to exercise their full political voices and devote them completely to fighting for or against the meat of public policy–because they’re stuck fighting for their BASIC human rights–this does not just hurt women, it hurts all Americans.

This is what happened on healthcare. Our energies were diverted by the Stupakistan gambit when we could have used that energy to fight for a Medicare expansion rather than Obama’s mandated junk insurance.

And, it doesn’t just stop there. The Stupaksis disease is spreading across the country. This is a spreadsheet called State Legislation Enacted in 2010 Related to Reproductive Health. I’d put the entire spreadsheet here if it wasn’t so big. You really need to see this chart if you haven’t already. It is creepy. I was horrified the first time I saw it and that horror is etched into my brain. Ordinary Americans are alive and suffering in this economy and state governments are going nuts passing gibberish amendments such as Requires Provider to Inform a Woman That Abortion Ends “the Life of a Separate, Unique, Living Human Being” and “Considers Some Miscarriages Murder.”

What fresh hell is this? All under a Democratic president, a Democratic Congress, and a Democratic female Speaker of the House. Do you feel very safe and protected reading that spreadsheet? I don’t.

When the chosen method of protection doesn’t work, a different method of protection is needed. (Pun accidental.)

We recently celebrated the 90th birthday of our 19th Amendment. It’s rather surreal that less than a century ago, a woman’s right to vote was also an asterisk that had to be resolved. Of course a lot has improved for women in that time. But, in other ways, the more things have changed, the more they have stayed the same.

I ask you to remember the suffragists themselves and how they got us the vote. They didn’t get us the vote by falling for the strawman that they had to support Democrats or else the Republicans would win.

The truth is: the Democratic party needs our rights in limbo because it keeps us hostage to the Politics of No Place Else to Go. If they can convince most of us that we still need them to protect our reproductive rights from the GOP, whose assault on our rights is 2% more evil than the Dems’ assault on our rights, then they sure as hell don’t have to do anything to earn our votes.

I don’t think it makes a difference if the current lot of Ds is in charge or the GOP is… it’s an illusion… because really it’s one party all in power…a giant party elite orgy that both sides are equal participants in… they just rotate who gets to drink more from the corporate cash trough every 4-8 years.

One of the crucial mechanisms that they use to keep this system rigged is by keeping fundamental human rights hanging in the balance. The other is the politics of divide and conquer. Women, LGBT, workers, immigrants, religious, racial, and ethnic minorities, older voters, younger voters, and so on and so forth… ordinary Americans under the bus, no place else to go, pit against each other and stuck fighting for our most basic rights and any semblance of a safety net while we are stuck in endless unnecessary war, our Constitution under attack, our economy and standard of living unraveling at the seams. Meanwhile our politicians allow the country to be swept up in “controversies” that are not the problem, the solution, or the point? That is the real threat playing into the hands of extremists of all sorts who wish to see our way of life deteriorate.

As Maggie Williams said during the Hillary campaign in 2008:

We will not be distracted.

November is getting closer. Many of us are not exactly feeling our most confident about how to make our voices heard and our votes meaningful when the choice is between worthless Democrats who run as “Independent conservatives” and Republicans who run as batshit insane.

I’ll leave you again with what Mother Jones said:

“I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country! You don’t need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!”

Morning News: Saturday morning cartoon edition

screencap from Felix Doubles for Darwin, 1924

Good morning all… Wonk here… it’s a little late, but I had one of those wars with wordpress that Dandy Tiger talks about…

Anyhow, I’m taking over the Saturday morning posts. BB will still be doing roundups, but she has been doing four of them a week for too long (impressive, isn’t it?), and she deserves a day off. So everybody please give BB a huge round of applause for all the amazing content she has churned out and no doubt will continue to churn out. Also, please try to be too sleepy or hungover to notice how cheesy my Saturday posts are compared to BB’s investigative reporting. 🙂

Betty Boop for President
Released on November 4, 1932.
FDR was elected on November 8.

A brief note before I get started with today’s links…. I’m a child of the eighties who grew up on PBS and network cartoons on the weekends. I thought it would be fun to add a few animation reels and other shorts to my roundups to bring back some of that Saturday morning nostalgia. Now on with the news… these are just some headlines that caught my eye this morning…

Bafumi, Erikson, and Wlezien predict a 50-seat loss for Democrats (link goes to Arianna’s tabloid), meaning the Boehner of our existence is likely to be the next Speaker of the House:

How many House seats will the Republicans gain in 2010? To answer this question, we have run 1,000 simulations of the 2010 House elections. The simulations are based on information from past elections going back to 1946. Our methodology replicates that for our ultimately successful forecast of the 2006 midterm. Two weeks before Election Day in 2006, we posted a prediction that the Democrats would gain 32 seats and recapture the House majority. The Democrats gained 30 seats in 2006. Our current forecast for 2010 shows that the Republicans are likely to regain the House majority.

Our preliminary 2010 forecast will appear (with other forecasts by political scientists) in the October issue of PS: Political Science. By our reckoning, the most likely scenario is a Republican majority in the neighborhood of 229 seats versus 206 for the Democrats for a 50-seat loss for the Democrats. Taking into account the uncertainty in our model, the Republicans have a 79% chance of winning the House.

There will be schadenfreude if that happens, yes, but Speaker Boehner? No light at the end of that tunnel.

Tried to warn you of the path you were headed on two years ago, Pelosi, but you called us cassandras “ungracious” for that.

Continue reading

Things not to say

Today is the last day of work for a friend who is very dear to me.  I’ve known him since he started his career.  We worked across the hall from each other and through the years have collaborated, strategized, hung out and horseplayed.  I learned a lot from him.  Eventually, he was relocated to a different site and I left for a better position at another company.  But we remained best friends.

His company was sold about a year ago.  Happens all the time.  Cuts were made.  Layoffs followed.  Tens of thousands of people  lost their jobs, including my friend.  Things just didn’t work out.

A couple of days ago, another former colleague of ours send me this list of things not to say to someone who has been laid off.  These tips are good advice.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to let people know that in this Mother of all Recessions, it’s not their fault.  They haven’t done anything wrong.  Their performance was most likely excellent.  But even when you know this intellectually, it’s hard to accept this blow to your ego, especially if you really like work and enjoy what you’re doing.

In these days of fear, uncertainty and dread, I find it difficult to believe that there are people who think that the recently unemployed have somehow brought this on themselves, that they don’t deserve unemployment insurance and that a job, any job, is preferable to nothing at all.  Somehow, it’s not enough for the Glenn Becks of the world to want to strip these people of support, they have to deprive them of their dignity and bring the condemnation of the country down on them as well.  It leads to misunderstanding of the nature of this Recession and insensitivity.  If you can’t say anything supportive, please say nothing at all.

Leaving it all behind is going to be hard.  Facing an uncertain future is going to be hard.  Scaling back is going to be really hard.  But I’ve made my mind up that my friend won’t have to face it alone.

Let’s stick by our friends.


Wednesday News

Good Day Conflucians!!!

The big news of the day are the election results from yesterdays primaries. So let’s look at a few of those first.

A big upset in the making seems to be Murkowski’s senate seat in Alaska:

A political newcomer with the backing of Sarah Palin has put Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in unexpected danger today, threatening to make her the seventh incumbent to lose a seat in this year’s primary elections.

Joe Miller, a Gulf War veteran, won 51% of the vote, according to unofficial returns this morning. Murkowski, who is in her second term, had 49% of the vote. With 98% of polling places accounted for, the two candidates were separated by 1,960 votes.

Miller told the Anchorage Daily News that Palin’s endorsement was “pivotal.”

Alaskan election officials say they had received 7,600 absentee ballots by Monday – and that number is likely to grow. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by election day, but can be received 10 days after the election. Officials say they plan to begin counting those ballots on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

“Our country does not need another Democrat in the Senate voting for the Obama agenda which is bankrupting us,” Palin, referring to Murkowski, wrote on her Facebook page this week. “Alaska deserves a senator who will not talk one way in the Last Frontier and then vote the opposite way in the Beltway. “

Part of the mix of that election is that Palin beat Murkowski’s father in her governors race in ’06, so there’s a bit of history. I’m sure the faux progressive bloggers will be blowing a gasket; trying to decide if Palin is completely irrelevant somehow anyway, or the most evil human ever in the universe. The general news from many of the elections on the right is that the party regulars are in trouble. Tea Party members are winning. Or more generally, anti-establishment candidates are winning. There’s a big lesson there for the MSM and the established old farts in both parties to not get. LATimes has more on the story as well. The election is not finalized yet, so anything can happen.

Another big race to watch has been the GOP governors race in FL. Here the established candidate, Bill McCollum, lost to the anti-establishment guy Rick Scott. As an example of the feelings out there, McCollum conceded the race but hasn’t endorsed Scott:

Bill McCollum conceded his loss in the Republican governor’s primary early Wednesday morning without endorsing the victor, millionaire Rick Scott.

“The votes today have been tallied and I accept the voters’ decision,” McCollum said. “This race was one for the ages. No one could have anticipated the entrance of a multimillionaire with a questionable past who shattered campaign spending records and spent more in four months than has ever been spent in a primary race here in Florida.

“While I was disappointed with the negative tone of the race, I couldn’t be more proud of our campaign and our supporters for fighting back against false and misleading advertising when we were down by double-digits.”

McCollum’s spokeswoman, Kristy Campbell, said Wednesday morning that McCollum had not spoken to Scott. When asked if he planned to endorse Scott in his race against Democrat Alex Sink, Campbell said that McCollum is focused on helping other Republicans, such as Marco Rubio who is running for U.S. Senate.

“He and Mr. Scott have not talked,” she said.

Poor baby.

And over in Arizona, McCain handily won his primary after Palin’s endorsement:

Conscious of the danger posed by the Tea Party, McCain fought hard to ensure his political survival. Although Hayworth was a weak candidate, McCain took no chances, spending $20m (£13m), much of it on advertising blitzes, to beat him.

There was a political cost to McCain, as he had to shift repeatedly to the right, renouncing previous policy positions, not least immigration reform, which he once championed with the late Democratic senator Ted Kennedy. He even denied he had once taken pride in his label as a “maverick”.

The $20m is an extraordinary amount to spend on a primary in a state with a relatively small population, and Hayworth could not compete, claiming he had been outspent 10 to one.

McCain was helped, too, by a public appearance on his behalf by Sarah Palin, his vice-presidential running mate in 2008. A Tea Party favourite, her support for McCain saw some of Hayworth’s supporters peel away. Some Tea Party activists had been ambivalent about Hayworth anyway, sceptical about his rightwing credentials and his past political performances.

He managed to narrow the polls earlier this year, threatening an upset, but the poll gap was well into double digits on the eve of the primary. In spite of that, Hayworth insisted he was “poised to pull one of the greatest upsets in political history”.

The Arizona battle was the highlight of a night that also saw Republican and Democratic primaries fought in Florida, Alaska, Oklahoma and Vermont. The last of the primaries will be on 14 September.

This was indeed an interesting race. On the one hand McCain was an established candidate and not with the Tea Party movement, on the other hand he got an endorsement and support from Palin. And of course he spent a lot of money. I’m not sure what to take away from this one. McCain clearly moves all over the map when it comes to needing to get elected. It’s like he’s a politician or something. But who is the real John McCain?

In completely irrelevant election news, Meeks wins the Democratic primary for Florida’s open senate seat:

Representative Kendrick Meek won Florida’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday and will square off against Governor Charlie Crist and conservative Republican Marco Rubio in the closely watched Nov. 2 election.

As you can see by the quote above, the reason this is irrelevant is because the real race will be between the formerly Republican now Independent candidate Crist and Republican candidate Rubio. That will be an interesting race to watch. Republican’s will be pulling out all the stops to help Rubio win. Interestingly, many Democrats and typically Democratic affiliated organizations are backing Crist:

Democrat Kendrick Meek has the support of Florida’s AFL-CIO and SEIU, but independent Charlie Crist is rolling out a labor endorsement of his own today, from a coalition of Florida Teamsers locals.

In other election news, a transgender candidate for a GOP house seat got 22% of the GOP vote:

As Senate and gubernatorial races dominated political headlines Tuesday night, here’s a result that was easy to overlook: transgender candidate Donna Milo received 22 percent of the vote in her Republican primary for Florida’s 20th congressional district.

Milo placed third in a three-way race, finishing behind winner Karen Harrington (40 percent) and runner-up Robert Lowry (38 percent). Milo received over 4,100 votes out of more than 18,400 cast.

The district, which surrounds Ft. Lauderdale, is strongly Democratic. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a deputy Democratic whip, currently represents it.

Sadly she’s the typical pro life, anti gay marriage very conservative Republican. But the better than expected showing is worth note.

In non election news, the housing market looks pretty bad

The annualized rate of new homes sales fell 12.4% in July to a seasonally adjusted rate of 276,600 a year, the US Commerce Department said.

That makes it the slowest rate since records began in 1963.

On Tuesday, the National Association of Realtors also reported a sharp drop in sales of existing homes.

Analysts fear the data could reflect the weakness in the US economy.

The annualized rate represents what the total number of sales would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months.

Although most analysts had expected a fall in sales, the number was even weaker than expected.

“There is nothing good you can say about the number,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities in New York.

“The odds of the dreaded double-dip [recession] are increasing.”

NYTimes has a more in depth article on the subject and also includes some about durable goods bad news:

The Commerce Department report said that orders to American factories for durable goods rose 0.3 percent last month, much less than the 3 percent growth that was forecast. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders dropped 3.8 percent. Orders for machinery dropped 15 percent, while those for capital goods dropped 8 percent.

“July’s durable goods report adds to the recent evidence from numerous activity surveys that the manufacturing recovery has lost nearly all of the considerable momentum it had,” economists from Capital Economics in a research note said.

“The rebound in manufacturing was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing recovery, the research note said. “Take it away, throw in a renewed collapse in housing, and you don’t have much left.”

But the important news of the day is that Obama is “having a good time” on his vacation. Yep, another vacation:

On Day 6 of President Obama’s summer sojourn on Martha’s Vineyard, it is Day 4 of wind-whipped rain here. So what if the clouds have followed him here, metaphorically and figuratively? The First Vacationer says he is a happy camper.

“I’m having a great time – doing a lot of reading,” a smiling Mr. Obama told reporters waiting outside the popular restaurant where he had a leisurely dinner on Tuesday night, near the farm property he is renting.

With the president were his wife, Michelle; his Chicago friends Valerie Jarrett, who is a senior White House adviser, and Eric and Cheryl Whitaker; and the Washington establishment figures Vernon and Ann Jordan, longtime summer visitors to the island who frequently socialized with President Clinton during his seven vacations here in the 1990s but did not see the Obamas during their stay last year. Mrs. Jordan and Ms. Jarrett are cousins; Mrs. Jordan’s mother and Ms. Jarrett’s grandfather were siblings.

The group spent almost three hours inside the State Road restaurant. Reporters outside knew the president and his party were finally leaving by the sound of cheers and clapping and the flash of cameras from the other diners inside.

So that’s some of what’s happening today. What are you seeing today in the news? Chime in with any other news.

Corzine: “She would have been able to handle this Congress”

Corzine knew better

So, the former governor of New Jersey attended a birthday party for the Big Dawg and in one sentence managed to sum up everything that is wrong with the Democratic party right now:

“…Susan and Alan Patricof watched the slenderized and beaming couple kick it up to “You’re Still the One” as former New Jersey Senator John Corzine looked on wistfully. “I just wish,” Corzine said shaking his head, “I mean I knew — she would have been able to handle this Congress… but it was just Obama’s time.”

Stand back, Myiq, I can handle this.

Dear Jon, this statement exemplifies why you aren’t the Governor of New Jersey any more.  I voted for you for Senator and Governor.   After Christie Whitman left, I thought it was time for a Democrat to take control of the state and work on property tax reform.  You remember property taxes?  Those things that increase mortgage payments by roughly 50%?  Yeah, the voters of NJ expected you to do something about that, like adopt a more Pennsylvania like tax system.  You know, spread the responsibility, move towards a more equitable income tax solution, or hit your buds to pony up more, maybe consolidate some municipalities so they shared services, work with the teacher’s unions to make sure teachers proved themselves before they got tenure.  You know, stuff like that.  But you examined the problem only briefly, threw up your hands and declared yourself powerless and expected us to just kind of suck it up and vote for you again.

It reminds me of some of Obama’s legislative “victories”.  His supporters say he’s powerless to influence the big bad, nasty, wasty Republicans so his proposals are weak tea and do nothing to alleviate the suffering of millions of Americans.  But, Golly!, he certainly has a record of legislative accomplishments, doesn’t he?  No one since FDR has dones so much.  I guess all that Civil Rights legislation and Great Society stuff and Medicare doesn’t count.  LBJ must be rolling in his grave.  But isn’t Reagan delicious??

But I digress.  Let’s look at what your statement actually says.  We’ll break it down for the slow witted.

1.) “I knew — she would have been able to handle this Congress”.  That’s a very interesting admission, Jon.  Presumably, you had insight into Hillary’s capacity to govern because you had seen her in action.  You were in the Senate at roughly the same time.  You worked with her.  And she would have had a very powerful mentor at her side at all times who she could have asked for advice.  Initially, you were a Clinton Superdelegate.  That’s because even you could see that after eight years of George Bush’s devastating disaster of a presidency, the country was going to need a responsible, capable, experienced leader to clean up.  It would have been a thankless job too.  Because avoiding a financial crisis like the one we have now wouldn’t have the same impact as fixing it now that the economy is totally broken.  If Hillary had been elected and structured the TARP in such a way that the big banks had been taken over, that homeowners had been able to keep their houses and paid the banks on time and real, ready-to-go infrastructure projects had put people back to work, she would have just looked like a good president.  If we elect her in 2012 and she does all of these things, she will look absolutely Rooseveltesque!  Obama might not like that much but, trust me, the American people will love it.

2.) “…but it was just Obama’s time.”  No, Jon, it was OUR time.  That is, the American people’s time.  It was time for us to stop being terrified of scary Muslims.  It was our time to stop the slide of the middle class towards destitution.  It was our time to invest in infrastructure and our future.  We needed a leader who was ready and able to help us do that.  It wasn’t feminists’ time or African Americans’ time.  The prize of the presidency of the United States was not a personal accomplishment for Barack Obama.  He wasn’t ready for a commitment as big as this one.  And this is where you made your fatal mistake.

Where the hell do you get off substituting your opinion for expressed wishes of the voters of your state?  As a superdelegate, you can do whatever fool thing you want with your vote.  But you don’t have the right to take the primary results of millions of people of the state you govern and dump them in nearest waste paper receptacle because you are dazzled by a Wall Street shmoozer who thinks it is his destiny to rule the world.  You may have thought the local Democratic machine wouldn’t stand in your way if you did it anyway but the voters had the right to hold you accountable for your lack of effort and your bad judgment.  That’s why you’re not Governor anymore.

If there’s anyone to blame for Chris Christie’s win in NJ, it’s YOU, Jon.  All you had to do was act like you actually cared about the voters in your state.  Instead, you behaved with arrogance, detachment and wrong headed stupidity.  You saddled a lot of New Jersey residents with taxes they struggle to pay and you deprived them of a voice in the most crucial election of their lifetimes.  And for that, the voters held you personally responsible.

And that’s going to happen to Congress this fall.

Thanks for nothing.

BTW, Happy Belated Birthday, Bill.

(And so’s your wife)

How the Social Security Commission will kill the American Economy

According to the New York Times, small investors are pulling their money out of the stock market.  Yep, seems like it’s a bit too risky for the boomer generation.  What with all of their retirement savings opportunities drying up:

To be sure, a lot of money is still flowing into the stock market from small investors, pension funds and other big institutional investors. But ordinary investors are reallocating their 401(k) retirement plans, according to Hewitt Associates, a consulting firm that tracks pension plans.

Until two years ago, 70 percent of the money in 401(k) accounts it tracks was invested in stock funds; that proportion fell to 49 percent by the start of 2009 as people rebalanced their portfolios toward bond investments following the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. It is now back at 57 percent, but almost all of that can be attributed to the rising price of stocks in recent years. People are still staying with bonds.

Another force at work is the aging of the baby-boomer generation. As they approach retirement, Americans are shifting some of their investments away from stocks to provide regular guaranteed income for the years when they are no longer working.

And the flight from stocks may also be driven by households that are no longer able to tap into home equity for cash and may simply need the money to pay for ordinary expenses.

On Friday, Fidelity Investments reported that a record number of people took so-called hardship withdrawals from their retirement accounts in the second quarter. These are early withdrawals intended to pay for needs like medical expenses.

According to the Investment Company Institute, which surveys 4,000 households annually, the appetite for stock market risk among American investors of all ages has been declining steadily since it peaked around 2001, and the change is most pronounced in the under-35 age group.

Under 35’s?  Honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet if the current proposals to raise the retirement age and cut Social Security benefits gets passed.  Contrary to the expectations of the corporate retirement fund managers out there, if social security gets more difficult to collect, my whole investment strategy is going to undergo a radical readjustment and not in Wall Street’s favor.

Suddenly, I will have to start a new savings plan to cover the costs of getting older when I can no longer bop around in the lab and up and down the stairs to the autoclave.  That is, if I even get the privilege of retiring from a job, which at this point looks less and less likely.  No, if social security becomes a distant dream, that segment of my retiremement scheme will have to be made up somehow.  And I WON’T be sticking my money in some risky stock market fund where there is no guarantee that my dollar of savings won’t be a dollar of withdrawal down the road.

Cutting Social Security means no more vacations, no more furniture, no more gadgets.  It means downsizing, selling the modest townhouse ASAP and finding some cheap little condo without high maintenance fees.  It means putting the money in the safest, least sexy place possible and just sitting on it.  For decades.  Seriously, life will become a LOT simpler.  After all, I have a kid I need to put through college and something’s got to give. I’ve never been a gambler and only participate in the 401K program under duress.  Give me a nice guaranteed pension and I’d be happy.  I’d rather be secure than rich.  Maybe that’s just me but I could be happy in Denmark where people can focus on living their lives and less on acquiring stuff.

Sometimes, I think that the people who are so hell bent on dismantling social security haven’t thought through this problem sufficiently.  They think we are so driven to outdo the Joneses that we’ll keep shoveling our hard earned paychecks into high yield investments.  Maybe some irrationally exuberant people will but the NYTimes article suggests that many of us have been too burnt to be careless with fire.  The outcome they are expecting seems to deny that the American worker has structured his whole life around social security and when it becomes unattainable, that security has to be compensated in other ways.  I don’t think current recipients should get too comfortable either.  Once the social pact is gone, the overstrapped still employed are going to start resenting the amount of money that goes into a program they can never benefit from.  Consider too that some companies are cutting out pensions entirely in the near future even though they provide them for current employees.  Future wages are already going down.  There is just not enough money to pay for everyday living and kids and saving for retirement and saving for some older person’s retirement.  Right now, it’s not so much of an issue but take away that piece of the retirement pie and there *will* be consequences.  The US economy is dependent in part on social security, which is why it was developed in the first place.  Seniors without incomes spend no money.  So, to save up for those senior years, money will have to be sequestered and some of us don’t have a lot of time to do it.

What’s really shocking about the “Catfood Commission” is that it’s being done by Democrats.  Even if the recommendations were acceptable, which they aren’t, this is not the time to be proposing them.  It smacks of the worst kind of politics when a respected program that everyone loves is held hostage for electoral gain.  Democrats are doing this.  It’s like taking the baby out of the basinet and holding it over a pit of Republican crocodiles, daring us to vote against Democrats.  It makes me LESS inclined to vote for the Democrats because if it happens this year, they’re going to keep doing it and one of these years, that baby’s going to fall or be so emaciated that it will be worthless, sort of like what happened to reproductive rights.  If Democrats want my help this year, they will dismantle the commission before November, recognizing that the economy can’t handle any talk of cutting benefits or extending the retirement age.

So, go ahead, bipartisan commission, make it harder for me to retire.  Hell, let’s be honest, make it *impossible* for me to retire.  And I will suck all of my funds out of the free market system.  I’ll stick to the bare necessities, continue to buy used cars, will forgo my next laptop, stop buying nice clothes and, like this year, turn down the family cruise this winter.  My bank account will become fat but the economy will stagnate as people all over the country remember what happened to people in the Roaring Twenties who sunk all of their retirement money in the stock market and risky investments.  My bank account and CD’s may make squat in interest but as long as they’re guaranteed by the government, I’ll live with it.

Until some new Idiot in Charge proposes a bipartisan committee to study the FDIC.

The “B” stands for “Bumpkis”

From the NY Fishwrapper:

People and businesses seeking a lump-sum settlement from BP’s $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will most likely have to waive their right to sue not only BP, but also all the other major defendants involved with the spill, according to internal documents from the lawyers handling the fund.

The documents — which include e-mails, draft and final versions of the protocols, claims forms and legal notes about the administration of the fund — provide the first definitive picture of who will be paid by the $20 billion fund, and how and when.

They also shed new light on the components of the payment plan that are likely to stir controversy, including the fund’s emphasis on geographic proximity as a determining factor for eligibility.

The fund is being administered by a prominent Washington lawyer, Kenneth R. Feinberg, who declined to be interviewed about the documents but verified their authenticity.

The eligibility requirements for compensation from the fund are similar to those of the 9/11 victims compensation fund, which Mr. Feinberg also handled. People affected by the spill seeking final settlements face a choice similar to that faced by the 9/11 victims: If they decide to sue instead of accepting a settlement, they could face years of litigation; and if they decide to accept the settlement, it could come before the full damage from the spill is known.

Talk about rigging the game! You get better odds of leaving with money at casinos.

As William Jacobson* predicted back in June:

No appeals, no second chances, not only for BP, but for individuals. The price of submitting to an arbitrary claims process is the loss of access to the judiciary and the legal process. That may be fine for many people, but it is a high price to pay as a nation supposedly of laws.

The claims process in action:

* Wingnut warning

I want to second Riverdaughter

On this whole mosque – Park 51 inanity. Many Muslims died at Ground Zero on that awful day. We’re all in this together. We’re all equal in the eyes of the law … and of God.

On a personal level, I’m boggling at the amount of froth coming from so many over this. I mean, say what? It’s a building. Where people meet for some reason. Like the strip club and the McD’s Wonk the Vote pointed out just down the road. New York’s a big place. Lots of buildings. People meet in them for various reasons all the time. Don’t they know that?

Friday Fast: Flood Relief

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd"*

It’s time for another Friday Fast.  Here’s how it works: give up a meal today and send the money you might have spent on it to a cause that needs it.  If you have suggestions for recipients, please put them in the comments below.

Today’s Friday Fast is dedicated to Flood Relief.  My recommended recipient is the UN High Commission for Refugees.  Please see this important message from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for details:

For those of you who want the short summary, you can aid the people of Pakistan by texting the word “SWAT” on your cell phone to the number 50555.  Reply by typing “yes”.  $10 will be sent to the UNHCR and will show up on your cell phone bill.  How simple is that?!

That money can add up very quickly and can help the UNHCR provide shelter and clean drinking water to people displaced by the flooding.  Right now, the immediate threat to Pakistanis is not the force of the flooding itself.  It’s disease, like cholera, and malnutrition.

For those of you who would like to keep your money closer to home, consider the American Red Cross, who  still works tirelessly for hurricane and flooding disaster relief.

*From William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice:

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.