Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekly News Roundup

Map is one of many Mapping Stereotypes at Click on it to see the Whole World.

Little Ricky Sanctimonious and The Immaculate Contraception ---and the Response

Fox News Moves Himalayas to the North (and South) Pole(s)

New Breeding Program to Keep Moderate Republicans from Going Extinct

Late-breaking's the Google News summary of a Seattle newspaper story, in its entirety: Ron Paul gained 83 votes on Mitt Romney after a Republican presidential caucus in eastern Maine, where voting last week had been postponed... Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu says he's gay. No comments have been posted to this article.

Friday, February 17, 2012

When It's '64

Continuing good news for the American economy, and polls which calculate steep drops in GOP fortunes suggest that President Obama's reelection chances are looking better.  So pundits are focusing on  a number of precedents.  One, not surprisingly, is 2008, as polls indicate the 2008 Obama coalition is regathering (something I didn't necessarily expect until the fall.)  Another is 1996: an incumbent President with problems (in Clinton's case, a scandal and a little thing called impeachment) who gets an unexpectedly weakened and weak opponent, and whose reelection is hardly in doubt from the end of the conventions.

But the most tantalizing is suggested as Rick Sanctimonious becoming the GOPer nominee looks more than just possible, and as GOPers in Congress go full out on an issue that hasn't even been raised on the state level for a half century: contraception.  Clearly, Little Ricky is where the GOPer primary voter passion is, and he's ahead in Michigan--where a victory or even a very close second is now being interpreted as a near fatal wound to Richie Richney.    The idea is that Little Ricky as the nominee is so far right that he will lose spectacularly--that the operative election is 1964, when Barry Goldwater lost all but his home state of Arizona and five states in the Deep South.  Lyndon Johnson was elected in a landslide, and while the seeds of the Reagan brand of conservatism were sewn within the GOP, the immediate effect was to marginalize extreme conservatism even more.

So how does the analogy hold up?  LBJ was the sitting President, though it was because he was  vice-president when President Kennedy was assassinated just a year before.  Given the intense feeling in the country--almost unimaginable now--it's likely Johnson would have been elected anyway, to carry on the Kennedy legacy.  Goldwater won the nomination in direct opposition to a liberal Republican, Nelson Rockerfeller.  Extreme conservatism was not familiar to the broad American public, let alone to the GOPer establishment. 

Still, even though rightest rhetoric is more familiar now and some of it more accepted, the Sanctimonious brand of Rabid Rightitude is much more extreme than Goldwater, both in relation to the times and to the broad electorate.  Add to that his worse-than-Dole weaknesses as a candidate for the presidency, and an outcome similar to 1964 is very possible.  With Obama doing much better in the industrial heartland, he could end up carrying only a few states in the South, if that.

But for all the chatter this week--including the recount in Maine that might well take Richney's caucus victory there away--it is still more likely than not that Richney will wind up being the nominee.  The latest poll in Michigan shows him behind, but it's interesting that no pundit I heard pointed out that it has him behind by fewer points than previous polls.  His attack machine is just gearing up, and even with Ricky putting most of his big money chips into Michigan, Richney and his Pacs will still outspend him 2-1.  Plus Richney has a campaign infrastructure in the Super Tuesday states, and Little Ricky has no campaign infrastructure at all--not even a campaign headquarters. 

Richney could still win Michigan, and besides, I don't buy the pundit panic that Richney can't survive losing Michigan.  Though it does damage his chances on Super Tuesday, where his nightmare scenario has Little Ricky taking the Midwest and Casino Newt the South, if he wins enough on Super Tuesday, he could become Mr. Sort of Inevitable again.

On the other hand, he is already a deeply wounded candidate, and he may barely survive as a candidate even if he wins the nom.  His negative carpet bombing is hurting him almost as much as his targets, and Little Ricky is cleverly highlighting that as an issue.  Some candidates become better campaigners when faced with strong opposition, but so far that hasn't happened with Richney. 

So even though it's a long, long time until November, assuming slow but steady economic growth, and no major international crises (though that may not hurt President Obama anyway, when faced with these so obviously clueless warmongering demagogues,--by which I mean not only in Iran but in the GOP) we could see a 64-like outcome, even if Richney is the nominee.  You might remember that a few months ago none of these pundits were entertaining the possibility of an Obama landslide--just every other possibility.  But I was. 

By the way, it's also looking like this outcome could extend to the states, particularly now as the GOP is working hard to scare and alienate women, and there are some good Dem women candidates out there.  In the marquee race in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren was looking strong anyway, but when Sen. Scott Brown signed on to the bill that allows institutions and insurance companies to deny any category of medical coverage based on their assertion of a religious or moral objection, he just lost his seat.   

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Anti-apartheid activist, humanitarian, actress and one of the great voices of our time, rest in peace tonight, Whitney Houston.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Circus Days: Sneak Preview

Oh oh not again!---what's happening to Mr. Inevitable?  Even after questionable "victories" in Maine (maybe, Iowaitfor it!) and packing the CPAC poll, in the latest round of voter polls he's slightly to considerably behind in Michigan and nationally to--Little Ricky Sanctimonious!  Is Ricky the new star of the Big Top?  Cause no matter how many clowns crowd into the car, only one can come out in the end!  (Or is that a Ricky joke?)

But now that Little Ricky is on Richie Richney's radar (otherwise known as the once and future? Mr. Inevitable!) let the untold millions buy untold thousands of relentlessly negative ads and direct attacks against Sanctimonious!  Oh yes!

Problem is while the negative ads sink Richney's opponents, they also make Richney look like a very unpleasant guy.  His slide has not simply been in the GOPer primary polls--that would be politics as usual--but in his favorability generally.  He could win the nom in the process of becoming unelectable.

He does coin those phrases, though.  Most recently he announced his tenure as MA gov was "severely conservative." Lots of people are making fun of this, and expressing their discomfort, especially as it indicates Richney's inner disdain for the side he's trying so hard to be on--but nobody will quite say why.  The reason probably is that the best known use of "severely" in recent decades was as in "severely retarded."

As for Little Ricky, he wants to say this is a two-man race between him and Richney, which the national polls bear out, just as they said that about Richney and---name that tune.  The test will be Super Tuesday.  If Casino Newt can't win southern states (other than Georgia) then he really is toast.

Meanwhile Little Ricky is boxing himself into opposition to something that 99% of American women do, which is use contraceptives.  He's starting with threatening at least 52% of the electorate, including women Senators in his own party. 

At the end of this circus (don't worry, folks!  There's plenty more to come!) the GOPers will have a nominee, ready to start a new circus for the few months preceding the election, when all current signs point to President Obama's overwhelming reelection.  But stuff could happen outside the circus grounds to change the dynamic.

Now that congressional GOPers have made a deal to pass the payroll tax extension, unemployment insurance extension and the "doc fix" to Medicare, there's little major mischief they can initiate until after the election.  The foreseeable dangers come from outside the country, and they are big.  One is the European debt crisis which is still unfolding and could mean last minute setbacks to the American economy.  The second is Iran, and whether war breaks out there from Israeli air strikes or whatever, and oil shipping is disrupted. 

Either of those add big uncertainties, and shift the focus to some degree.  If Richney is the nominee, he has zero credibility on foreign policy, and he is so obviously untrustworthy that it's hard to see how anything offshore helps him.  Having been in the Senate, Sanctimonious can actually talk about foreign policy, and sound semi-sane, more credible than on domestic issues.  Still, it's hard to see America putting its fate in the hands of the guy in the sweater vest, vs. the guy who got bin Laden.  But stranger things have happened...under the Big Top!       

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


News that congressional GOPers are caving and likely to cave some more on the middle class tax cut extension and unemployment insurance extension may remove the last crisis they can precipitate before November.  But that didn't make them any more receptive to President Obama's budget announced Monday, with its economic and social vision: cut the federal budget deficit by $4 trillion over ten years, partly through letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, but support the fragile economy recovery with investments in an America "built to last."

Those investments include education (particularly for community college job training), research and development, clean energy and infrastructure, including some $476 billion over six years for transportation projects.  Half the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan go to such investments, the other half to the deficit.  Military spending is curbed, while more money would go to agencies protecting the American people against financial skullduggery and on environmental safety. 

It includes money for manufacturing research and incentives for manufactures to stay in the U.S.  Also more support for public housing and to combat homelessness.  Tax proposals include the Buffet Rule to make sure the very wealthy pay their fair share--even on capital gains, Richie Richney's source of annual nearly tax-free millions.

Also notable: a $61 billion tax on bailed-out big banks as penalties for their role in the Great Recession, which will provide funds to help homeowners facing foreclosures,  and eliminating tax breaks for oil and coal companies.

The budget was automatically castigated by GOPers and pundified as partisan.  But maybe it's worth asking some questions about what it really proposes.  For example:

Why is it partisan--let alone wrong--to propose spending on stuff that's needed anyway now and putting off deficit reduction until the economy is stronger, when that's the textbook right response according to nearly every mainstream economist?  And it's been proven to work?  While cutting spending has been proven to fail?

What's your alternative to rebuilding infrastructure?  Letting it fall apart, letting the country fall behind until it's a pathetic hasbeen country with a few wealthy enclaves?   What's your alternative to education and research and development?  Can you make a real case that oil and gas companies dripping in money need special tax breaks? Or that North America should cede the rapidly growing global clean energy industry to Europe and Asia?  Or that the extremely wealthy will be deprived if they pay fair taxes, so the country that makes their riches possible, and the planet that makes their lives possible, can get some badly needed attention?  And do you think that the big banks should never pay even a little for what they did, while everybody else suffers from what the banks did?  

As President Obama said to a northern Virginia audience on Monday, "it's not class warfare.  It's common sense."

Common sense is a bit radical in the best of times it seems, but right now it seems absolutely alien.  But it is gaining attention and support, as are President Obama's proposals on creating jobs, fair taxes and building a future that lasts.  That's quite possibly why GOPers are changing the subject to their tried and true "cultural" issues.  Except they've all been tried.  So now the GOP leadership in Congress as well as presidential candidates are doubling down on a war against contraception.  A war they are losing within their own party.  And on that subject, here's another list of questions.     

Monday, February 13, 2012

Join the Planet

My inbox is filled today with solicitations from several organizations to join a common effort to send a half million messages over 24 hours to the U.S. Senate opposing the Keystone Pipeline.

As important as this is-- preventing the pipeline and the associated massive climate pollution--perhaps almost as important is that this seems to be a real combined effort by environmental and related organizations, and supporting that is itself a vital step.

Maybe someday soon these organizations will combine on a positive program instead of only in opposition to destructive acts.  But for now, this is worth doing.  I've signed on.  It's very easy--just a couple of clicks--and yes, I expect it will result in more emails in your inbox, but the distinction between information and pollution on the Internet is sometimes wobbly.

Here's one of the links:

Update: More than 800,000 messages were delivered.