Monday, November 30, 2009

Obama's Presidency Lies in the Hands of Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke and Larry Summers

I know I've posted a lot on this blog about how much Larry Summers and Tim Geithner suck, but I promise you, it's not without reason.

While health care is front and center at the moment, it's only one of many issues that we hope for Obama to tackle over the next 4 (hopefully 8) years such as immigration reform, labor law reform, climate change legislation and so on.

And while those issues are important, I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say the biggest threat to any of those issues on Obama's agenda is the crappiness of his economic policy, and if you didn't know, this is why:

People's opinions about the party in power are often tied to the economy, and when the economy is this bad, it only becomes more important. The stimulus has helped, but as predicted by "The Group of Economists Who Have Consistently been Right about Almost Everything", it wasn't big enough. Now there's a dual problem of needing more stimulus, while simultaneously fixing the larger problems with the banks.

Geithner, Bernanke and Summer's solution to the credit crisis has been to give the banks huge amounts of free money and risk free loans, assuming that they'll start lending to industries and individuals who will help restart the economy. However, to the surprise of no one, the banks are hoarding that money, and using it to continue taking the same risks that caused the crisis in the first place. Until the banks are willing to lend, the job market will not fully recover and the economy will not turn improve in ways that effect the majority of Americans.

And if that does not happen by 2010... it will not be a pretty picture for the Democrats in congress or any issue we had hoped to address during Obama's presidency. If it doesn't get addressed by 2012, some smart Republican will use the relationship between this administration's economic team and Wall Street to make Obama a one term president. So as said before, the stakes of a policy change here are very, very high.

Two Steps (One likely, one unlikely) that can help limit the damage:

Step 1: Pass a jobs bill, like yesterday. If unemployment doesn't take a downturn by November the Democrats will be slaughtered in the 2010 elections. Passing some sort of jobs bill is fairly likely to happen, since plently of Democrats in the house are shitting themselves as we speak.

Step 2: Clean house with Obama's economic team, and start hiring some of the people who have gotten this thing right. Geithner, Summers and Bernanke subscribe to the ideology that got us into this mess, and more of the same failed ideas and policies isn't going to give us a real recovery. While this may seem like an obvious solution, Obama's continued faith in his economic team throughout several unpopular scandals makes a change unlikely.

The time to make a change is now. While it may sound like hyperbole, the fate of Obama's presidency might very well rest in the balance.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Train of Thanksgiving

     From all of us at The Train of Thought, best wishes for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Here is my gift to everyone, and probably the only chance I’ll have to post something Pro-Wrestling related on the blog.  Behold “Mean Gene” Okerlund and GOBBLEDY!

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Image from the awesome site Suicidefoods.com)

We're very thankful to all of you for taking the time to read our blog. Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Four Senators Standing Between Us And Real Health Care Reform

TPM's Brian Beuler has an awesome post looking at the lead douche bags that are threatening to filibuster a health care bill that includes the public option. And they are...
Joe Lieberman

Lieberman may be the trickiest of the four to secure. The moment Reid announced he'd included a public option in the Senate bill, Lieberman charged out of the gate to announce that he'd filibuster a health care bill with any kind of government plan in it: opt-out, opt-in, triggers--you name it. Immediately, speculation began to fly regarding what, exactly, had animated Lieberman, who after all represents a blue state whose voters support the idea. Some believe his gambit is rooted in his 2006 split with the party, and his 2008 decision to campaign for the McCain-Palin ticket. Others believe he's gotten too cozy with the insurance industry, which still has a heavy presence on Connecticut. Unexplored is the possibility that he--already a black sheep in Democratic politics--was simply giving his centrist friends cover. Those centrists--profiled below--would like a Republican (a.k.a. Olympia Snowe) to vote for this bill, too, and the only way to assure that her preferences receive maximum attention is to signal, clearly, that at least one Democrat isn't on board with the plan. Whether orchestrated or not, that person is Lieberman. He's been the most adamant against the public option of any of his peers.

Blanche Lincoln

Lincoln was cautiously supportive of the public option throughout most of the summer. In fact, on the day she announced her intent to filibuster a"government-run" insurance option, her website, embarrassingly, still boasted of her support for the very measure she was threatening to obstruct. What explains this curious mixed message? Unlike Lieberman, Nelson, or Landrieu, Lincoln is facing a tough re-election right now. She's going to be attacked for supporting a "government takeover" of health care no matter what, and would like to present her conservative constituents with a scalp to prove she didn't roll over for the liberals in her party. It's an immediate political calculation. Getting her on board will require convincing her she stands more to lose by blocking the provision than by allowing a vote on it.

Ben Nelson

Nelson, as I've noted before, is simply the most conservative Democrat in the caucus. He wants the bills he votes for to have Republican supporter(s), and he always prefers the option that liberals in the party don't: less stimulus over more stimulus, triggers over the public option, opt-in over opt-out. Nelson held out for a long time before agreeing to debate the bill this past weekend. It's conceivable that the prospects of failure down the line will make the pressure on him and other conservative Democrats so great that he'll agree not to filibuster. But, again, if Lieberman sticks to his guns, the compromise might just happen anyhow.

Mary Landrieu

Landrieu has been extremely candid about her reluctance to support a public option. Her constituency is very broad, she's mindful of the warnings of industry, she has leverage, and she's using it. But...she was just re-elected. It's almost inconceivable that her vote on health care in late 2009/early 2010 will matter very much when she's up for re-election in 2014. Strictly on political terms, she should be a company Democrat right now, though it's unclear if the political consideration is all that's driving her decision-making on the issue.
While you never know just how seriously to take their douchiness, I'm pretty sure I can think of a few things that might convince even the biggest assholes to do the right thing.

First off are the easy ones, Lieberman and Lincoln. Do they like being the chairs of powerful committees? They Do? Then I'm guessing they won't like being stripped of their chairmanships for joining the Republican obstruction of major Democratic legislation. Being a committee chair is a privilege not a right, and it would be insane to waste those positions on people who won't even cast procedural votes with their own party.

To get Ben Nelson, all you need is some meaningless bullshit for the insurance industry. He wants cover for his vote, but he's not going to get it. For a reminder of how strong his principles are, this is the man opposed the stimulus, cut 100 billion dollars out for literally no reason whatsoever and then strongly supported it. He wants to look "moderate", and he wants some goodies for the industries that own him. It doesn't seem like this would be too difficult.

Looking at everyone's situation in this group, Landrieu could be the biggest douche of them all. Since she's not up for reelection till 2014, and it seems like she's just trying to leverage for as much as she can get for her vote. Harry Reid should make it clear that if she plans on doing this for every vote 5 years away from an election year, she can plan on never getting any help from the leadership on anything ever again.

And just to be clear, the White House can apply pressure here too. They've done it before, only on freshman representatives who didn't want to vote for the war supplemental. It would be nice to see them whipping shitty members on a good bill for a change.

For both Reid and the White House, I'm not sure what's stopping them from going all in with the arm twisting and threats. If not now on your biggest piece of legislation, then when? It's also not like any of this posturing is anything resembling "principled opposition" either. They've all changed their stance on these issues dozens of times already, and they've probably got a few more in them before the last vote.

It's worth repeating that if these Senators followed through with their threats, they would be joining with Republicans to obstruct legislation that is wanted by a large majority of their party.

That literally makes them no different than a Republican, and of zero value to the Democratic party going forward. I would gladly support primary challengers or 3rd party challengers that would take them out of office. If there are no repercussions for this type of behavior from either their constituents or the party leadership, it will only get worse.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Who Needs Facts When No One Calls You On Your Lies?

As David Sirota repeats, the current health care bills would REDUCE the deficit over time. This clearly isn't important to anyone in the press, who have allowed opponents of the bill to endlessly grandstand on how health care reform would increase the deficit without bothering to point out that it isn't the case.

Journalism isn't just transcribing what "both sides" say about an issue, it's also doing basic research to see if anyone is constantly lying to you. Or not.

Hey look! David Broader wrote a dishonest column about the cost of the bill! A while he probably should have used some facts to back up his points, there was a decent chance they could have been partisan and poisoned our discourse. Can't have that!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Getting Back on the (Band)wagon

I wish I were strong enough to refrain from getting all giddy once the Redskins win one measly little game. I honestly wish I could sit here and tell you that I wasn't as pumped as I've ever been for our matchup with our arch-rivals, the Dallas C*wb*ys. I really do.

Unfortunately, being extremely weak-willed is part of being a sports fan. Also, things like "logic" and "reason" normally go out the window, too. The thing is, the Redskins are just in my blood and I can't quit them. I can get fed up with them, be embarrassed by them, hate their ownership and their decision-making, but I cannot give them up. The Redskins are a part of me and in my delusional brain, I'm also a part of the Redskins.

So, as I do nearly every Dallas Week, I've suspended any rational thought and remain in high hopes that we can defeat the C*wb*ys, even if they are the better team. Any win over hated Dallas is sweet; but if we were to beat them in our first game at their sparkly new gargantuan stadium with this wretched lineup, it would be downright mortifying for them. And while I'm only hoping against hope here, Dallas Week is Dallas Week and as a devoted Redskins fan I gotta do what I always do: hype myself into a frenzy and hope that the Skins do the same, whipping Dallas's ass in the process.

So Skins fans, go forth into this weekend, and get hyped.



WE WANT DALLAS!
WE WANT DALLAS!

"We may have to sacrifice just two more jobs to get millions back for Americans"

While calling for the resignation of Tim Geithner and Larry Summers is nothing new on this site, it's a pretty huge development that a well respected member of congress has done it publicly:
Rep. Peter DeFazio called for the firing of President Barack Obama's top two economic aides on Wednesday, accusing them of pursuing a recovery plan skewed too heavily in Wall Street's favor.

The Oregon Democrat told MSNBC's Ed Schultz that he was dismayed with the administration's lack of focus on job creation. He said it was time to dismiss both White House economic adviser Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary "Timmy Geithner."

"We think it is time, maybe, that we turn our focus to Main Street -- we reclaim some of the unspent [TARP] funds, we reclaim some of the funds that are being paid back, which will not be paid back in full, and we use it to put people back to work. Rebuilding America's infrastructure is a tried and true way to put people back to work," said DeFazio.

"Unfortunately, the President has an adviser from Wall Street, Larry Summers, and a Treasury Secretary from Wall Street, Timmy Geithner, who don't like that idea," he added. "They want to keep the TARP money either to continue to bail out Wall Street...or to pay down the deficit. That's absurd."

Asked specifically whether Geithner should stay in his job, DeFazio replied: "No.

"Especially if you look back at the AIG scandal," he said, "and Goldman and others who got their bets paid off in full...with taxpayer money through AIG. We channeled the money through them. Geithner would not answer my question when I said, 'Were those naked credit default swaps by Goldman or were they a counterparty?' He would not answer that question."

DeFazio said that there is a growing consensus among the Congressional Progressive Caucus that Geithner needs to be removed. He added that some lawmakers were "considering questions regarding him and other economic advisers" -- though a petition calling for the Treasury Secretary's removal had not been drafted, he said.

"[Obama] is being failed by his economic team," DeFazio concluded. "We may have to sacrifice just two more jobs to get millions back for Americans."
Can't happen soon enough.

Mary Landrieu's Principled Opposition

Regarding her health care vote:
“I have leverage now, I’m using it to the best of my ability, I’m going to use it on the Senate floor,”
Greg Sargent:
But it’s interesting to note how comfortable these Senators are in revealing that they’re mainly holding out on a simple vote to debate the bill in order to increase their leverage. It’s a measure of both their power and of how casually we’ve come to accept Senatorial self-aggrandizement and the perversions of the process that attend it.
We seriously need to abolish the senate.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clodwatch for November 19th, 2009

Today the award is going to two distinguished Americans: Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and Sarah Palin. First comes Mr. Shadegg, who warns that trying KSM in New York will lead to Mayor Bloomberg's daughter being taken hostage by terrorists:




That's the kind of crazy you can't make up. Next up is Sarah Palin, who is openly endorsing Israeli expansion into Palestinian territory because... well, Israel needs lebensraum. Check it out:




More and more Jewish families are moving to Israel, so only a program of expansion and ethnic cleansing will accommodate them. Got it. Is she completely uninformed on the issues, or is she actually evil? You go ahead and decide.

Congratulations, Shadegg and Palin: you are both clods.

Reid Threatens Douche Caucus with the Prospect of Their Own Irrelevance

What better way to deal with attention whores than to take away their ability to get attention?
At a special evening meeting of the Democratic caucus tonight, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid outlined, in broad strokes, the details of his health care bill, which the CBO has found, in a preliminary analysis, will expand coverage to 94 percent of Americans while reducing the deficit. And earlier in the day, during a separate meeting about floor procedure, Reid let three of his party's key skeptics know that if they join Republicans at any stage of the process to block the bill, he still retains the option of passing major parts of it through the filibuster proof budget reconciliation process.

In response to a question from TPMDC Nelson told reporters that, at a meeting this afternoon with Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Reid "talked about process, procedure, discussion about reconciliation and a whole host of issues of that sort."

"Nobody's really jumping up and down to push for reconciliation," Nelson said, "he's not threatening that, but anybody can conclude that if you don't move something on to the floor, that is one of the possibilities."
I guess you could ask why this wasn't the plan from the start, but frankly I'm just happy that it's being used as a threat. I'm sure president Snowe is extremely disappointed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We All Have Questions

Sometimes we find answers.

Rahm Emanuel's Guide To Losing Elections

Jane Hamsher has rounded up a nice timeline of Rahm Emanuel's past electoral strategies:
1993: Rahm is the architect of NAFTA

1994: Unions stay home after NAFTA. Democratic turnout poor, Democrats give up 54 seats in House.

2005: Rahm as head of DCCC recruits pro-war Dems, threatens to cut funds for any Dem who runs opposing the war

2006: Ned Lamont beats Joe Lieberman by opposing the war, opens the floodgates for candidates to buck Rahm & fuel Democratic takeover of House. Rahm’s pro-war candidates lose.

2007: Rahm blames failure of his pet pro-war candidates on immigration. Makes Freshmen co-sponsor anti-immigrant SAVE act.

2007: SAVE Act triggers Hispanic Caucus revolt on the floor of the House

2007: Rahm demands Democratic candidates inoculate themselves against expected GOP attacks by moving to the right on immigration.” Says Hispanics “don’t vote, ignore ‘em.”

2008: Hispanics provide Obama’s margin of victory in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado.

2009: Rahm Emanuel pushing “triggers” to kill President’s campaign promise of a public option in January

2009: Creigh Deeds reinacts Little Bighorn in Virgina after saying he’ll “opt-out” of public option and Democrats stay home

2009: Bill Owens endorses public option, pulls off surprising upset in district with GOP advantage

2009: John Garamendi defies beltway conventional wisdom that Democrat in CA-10 had to be conservative like Ellen Tausher to hold the seat, says he’ll vote against any bill that doesn’t have a public option (or has triggers), scores decisive win

2009: On behalf of banks, Rahm helps Democrats water down post-Enron investor protections in Sarbanes-Oxley

2009: Jon Corzine loses in the wake of “growing anti-Goldman [Sachs]” sentiment.”

2009: The day after the election, Senate Dems still pushing triggers.
Rahm's ethos is that the United States is an inherently conservative country. He tells people to govern as conservatives, so that when they're up for reelection they can run touting their super popular conservative record.

The problem is this is NOT an inherently conservative country, and if people wanted a Republican, they're a hell of a lot more likely to vote for a real one than some wanna-be who stands for nothing. Ask Creigh Deeds how well that approach turns out.

And it's not just that Rahm chooses conservative ideas to champion, either. Rahm picks winning political positions such as warmongering, attacking immigrants, selling yourself out to whatever industry can give you the most money.

Those would be great issues to champion if we lived in Rahm's world where every voter is a reactionary dumb as rocks conservative. Thankfully we don't live in this world, but we'll soon be governed by these morons if Obama and others continue to buy Emanuel's bullshit logic that caving on your campaign promises is the path to electoral triumph.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

“Going Rogue” Arrives

Two days ago I posted a field trip to Free Republic where one poster commended Sarah Palin for her strategic masterstroke: the release of her book. Incredibly, Republicans still don’t seem to have gotten the message about how the rest of the country sees her:

Most - 60 percent - in the new poll say the former Alaska governor is not qualified to serve as president, and her favorability rating remains stuck well below what it was when she first emerged on the national scene at last year's Republican convention.

The 53 percent who say they would definitely not vote for Palin now is nearly twice the percentage who said so of her 2008 running mate John McCain in the spring of 2006 (28 percent).

Women tend to be more critical of Palin than are men, with female Democrats and independents more apt than their male counterparts to view her unfavorably, see her as not qualified for the presidency and say they would not support her candidacy.
The far right may want another Bush, but the rest of the country has no interest. For some reason this just seems to further endear her to her supporters, though. Jon Zliegar, a man we’ve mentioned once or twice here in the past, has just posted his review of Going Rogue:

I was simply blown away by Going Rogue on almost every level. For many reasons, this is by far the best book and greatest literary achievement by a political figure in my lifetime.
Oh great, off to a good start. Zilger goes on to recap what Palin has been up to for the last year:

[She has] given birth to a child with Down Syndrome, had her teenage daughter’s unwed pregnancy become world wide news, had her first son sent to Iraq, was picked as a VP candidate and was the target of the most inaccurate media coverage in modern history, got blamed for losing the race to a man whose election she rightly believes is horrible for our country, had rape jokes made about her fourteen-year-old daughter on national television, and was forced to resign from the governorship of the state she loves because a bunch of losers made it impossible for her to do her job productively.
Z├╝elger is spinning it so hard, that paragraph has developed its own gravity with satellites and an asteroid belt and everything. Ok, so what if half that list bears no resemblance to what happened in reality? Moving on:

Going Rogue is actually several books in one. It is a compelling biography, a gripping campaign tell-all, an expose on the sad state of our news media, a substantive outline of a political philosophy and even a comprehensive refutation of juicy tabloid rumors.
Crazy woman speaks in tongues at local church, pursues personal vendettas during time as mayor of tiny Alaskan town, becomes governor just in time to get lifted up as a VP candidate by a campaign that immediately regrets choosing her, succeeds because she manages to get geriatric conservatives all hot and bothered despite throwing the race, goes on to write political facebook updates that would embarrass even the worst columnists: a compelling life story if I’ve ever heard one. Throw in the stuff about her terrifying campaign rallies and getting outfoxed by Katie Couric and you just might have a bestseller! Hold on, Zglassere actually mentions Couric:

Katie Couric is rightfully eviscerated for her conduct during her numerous interviews with Palin (for which Couric was laughably given a Walter Cronkite Journalism Award from USC). This was not done (as it has been portrayed in the news media) out of spite or revenge, but rather, as Palin proves in the book, because Couric’s agenda was as clear as it was inappropriate.
This is what the conservative persecution complex has led to: interviewers can’t ask Republican politicians the simplest questions without being accused of having an “inappropriate” agenda. I’m honestly amazed that after eight years of George Bush they still haven’t accepted that some politicians aren’t that great at using the English language: every botched interview has to be the fault of some shadowy, overarching liberal conspiracy to make Palin look dumb by asking her what newspaper she reads. Finally, Zarglar looks forward:

I believe that if this book is the success that it could and should be, there will be a groundswell among the Republican base demanding that she run. I strongly believe that if every Republican primary voter reads this book, Sarah Palin will win the 2012 nomination in a landslide, whether she wants it or not.
Today the Republican base is good at exactly one thing: grabbing the wheel and driving the GOP off a cliff. The idea of them strong-arming the rest of the party into rallying behind Palin is too great for words. Let us hope that Z-gizzy is right about this one- and by the way, good luck winning a national election with less than 47% of the vote.

(Ed's note: John Ziegler, seen here crossing the Delaware)

Geithner Wasted Taxpayer Money to Protect Banking Industry Losses

We essentially knew this before, but here's some confirmation via the TARP watchdog:
A brutal report issued Monday by a government watchdog holds Timothy Geithner -- then the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and now the nation's Treasury Secretary -- responsible for overpayments that put billions of extra tax dollars in the coffers of major Wall Street firms, most notably Goldman Sachs.

The authoritative new narrative describes how, while bailing out insurance giant AIG last fall, a team led by Geithner failed nearly every step of the way.

Instead of bargaining with AIG's numerous counterparties to resolve its billions of dollars in souring derivatives contracts, Geithner's team ended up paying top dollar for toxic assets -- "an amount far above their market value at the time," the report notes.

"There is no question that the effect of FRBNY's decisions -- indeed, the very design of the federal assistance to AIG -- was that tens of billions of dollars of Government money was funneled inexorably and directly to AIG's counterparties," the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said.

Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia got full value for their derivatives contracts with AIG, and taxpayers got the bill. In total, $27.1 billion of public money was transferred to companies that did business with AIG.

Throughout the bailout of AIG, the report says, the New York Fed failed to develop appropriate contingency plans; failed to properly assess the impact of its decisions; and generally engaged in negotiation strategies that were doomed to fail.
So Geithner chose not to use his "considerable leverage", and instead used taxpayer money to fully reimburse Wall Street for the bad bets they made with AIG. While that level of incompetence is pretty stunning, let's also not forget how makes sense in Geithner/Summers/Bernanke's bizzaro world of how to fix the economy. Atrios:
Basically what Bernanke and gang have done is drop a bunch of money from helicopters into the big banks in various ways, the idea being that if they have lots of money sloshing around they will perform their role of efficiently allocating capital by lending at appropriate rates for appropriate projects. Of course our banking system has demonstrated in recent years that the idea that it allocates capital efficiently is a complete joke.
Botching the AIG bailout should be enough reason for Geithner to lose his job, but then again it clearly doesn't bother Obama since this was known when he hired him in the first place.

Unemployment numbers won't turnaround until the banks are cleared of their toxic assets, and that won't happen in any sane way as long as their BFFs Geithner and Summers are calling the shots. The stimulus is currently saving us from catastrophe, but when that starts to run out at some point around the 2010 elections... shit will not be pleasant.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Columbus Go Home! Columbus Go Home!"

Probably the most startling thing about our fun with the teabaggers was how easily we were accepted with our nonsensical and overtly racist signs.

I guess when you seriously listen to Glenn Beck all day your ability to recognize satire must not be that high...
Bascially, several dozen Tea Baggers held an anti-immigration rally on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol where they were met by an only slightly smaller group of counter-protesters.

The highlight of the event is the speech by "Robert Erickson," a "concerned citizen from Minneapolis." Erickson launches into what seems like a standard red-meat anti-immigrant speech. His real intentions are betrayed only by a slight smirk. It is only when he accuses immigrants of spreading disease and then indicts them for "killing millions" with small pox that it becomes clear that the immigrants he has in mind are the European conquerors of North America and their descendants.

The Tea-Baggers seem pretty clueless, and for the most part don't even seem to realize they have been punk'd, even when Erickson closes out with a chant of "Columbus Go Home!"




The "Columbus Go Home" chant reminds me of Tushara's yelling "deport my parents" at the 9/12 rally.

The end of his speech is really one of the coolest things I've seen in a while:
Its no secret that with an invasion of immigrants, comes waves of crime. We see them involved in massive theft, in murder, and bringing diseases like smallpox, which is responsible for the death of millions of Americans. These aren’t new problems though, they have been going on for hundreds of years, and continue to this day.

I say its time for us to say enough is enough! Are you with me? Are you with me? Lets send these European immigrants back where they came from! I don’t care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinus crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery! Its time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land! I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown. There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs. Let's round them up and ship them out. Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep, I don’t care if we separate families, they should have known better when they came here illegally!

If we aren't able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to? We need to send every one of them back home, right now.
Thank you very much, and we’ll see you in the streets!

Columbus go home! Columbus go home! Columbus go home!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

SCOTUS Docket Watch – Juvenile Life Sentences

     Welcome Docket Watch, a new feature that will highlight important Supreme Court Cases.  Today’s entry follows the sister cases of Graham v. Florida and Sullivan v. Florida that both deal with whether minors should receive life sentences without parole for crimes other than homicide. 

    The issue is cloudy, messy and can be legally clumsy to answer.  In 2005, the Court ruled 5-4 in Roper v. Simmons that it is unconstitutional to issue the death penalty on minors (under 18 years of age) based on the 8th Amendment’s protection against “Cruel and Unusual Punishment.”  Both Graham and Sullivan seek to extend this protection to non-homicide cases.

    Now, before you form an opinion, I will give you the facts of each case.  DISCLAIMER: Facts are disturbing, but necessary to assess the validity of each conviction.

    Graham v. Florida – In 2003, Graham & 2 other teens robbed a Barbeque, attacking the manager with a steel bar.  Graham’s father suspected his involvement and reported the teens to the police.  Graham was arrested and charged as an adult on a First Degree Felony count of burglary with assault/battery, which is punishable up to a maximum sentence of life.  He also received a 2nd degree felony charge of attempted armed robbery.

Graham plead guilty and received 3 years probation with a 9 month prison term.

6 months later while on probation, at 17 years old, Graham was arrested on a felony home-invasion charge to which he admitted guilt.  The lower Ct. refused to grant leniency, and sentenced him to life without parole.  The case was upheld by at the appellate level and the Florida Supreme Court refused to hear the case.  Defendants appealed to the Supreme Court and argued on November 9th, 2009.

    Sullivan v. Florida – In 1989, Sullivan was 13 years old.  He and   2 other youths robbed an empty home of jewelry and money.  Later on they returned, but this time a 72 year old woman was inside.  The attackers placed a bag over head, and then one of the youths raped her and “sexually assaulted her both vaginally and orally”  to the point where she would require surgery to repair her body.  

At trial, the elderly woman identified Sullivan by voice only, as she never saw her attacker.  One of the other youths also told police that Sullivan was the attacker. 

Sullivan had 17 prior crimes, which convinced the court to try him as an adult, and he was sentenced to life without parole.

What do you think?  The cases were argued on November 9th, and The Court is expected soon.  Do you think that the law should prohibit life terms because “juveniles are still developing and are not fully culpable for their actions” as Justice Ginsburg claims?  Or do you feel that the 8th amendment does not create any real distinction for age?  Discuss!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Train of Thought Field Trip: A Brighter Tomorrow

Today we have a quick field trip to a Free Republic thread where they’re hoping for a better, whiter tomorrow. The GOP victories in Virginia and New Jersey have buoyed their spirits, and now the imminent release of “Going Rogue: An American Life” gives them an excuse to talk about their favorite person in the world: Jesus Sarah Palin.

Night Hides Not admires Palin for her tactical genius, a true Alaskan Zhuge Liang:

What a brilliant stroke by Sarah! Bringing her book out, and giving a bunch of interviews during sweeps month.
Releasing her book during a random November- brilliant! I heard she also successfully dressed herself this morning- what a stunning intellect! Kartographer knows exactly what she should do next:

She needs a solid conservative mentor, her Dick Channy if you will and I can't think of no one better to be her mentor and her 'hatchman'.
Hahahaha god yes, please team her up with the most unpopular politician in American history. Bush/Cheney ended with the Republican party in flames- Palin/Cheney would likely end with the surviving Republican politicians ruthlessly hunted across the globe and the names of Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Cheney, and Palin stricken from the records of our time. Kartographer makes a second appearance to clarify his earlier remarks:

I meant her Dick Cheney; with an ‘e’! LOL never try and type while eating fajitas! :-)
“Wrong letter, sorry guys. My terrible idea, though? Yeah that one still stands.” US Navy Vet tries to decide the composition of the perfect Freep government:

Palin=Pres
DeMint=VP
Mark Levin=AG
Sheriff Joe=Homeland “Security”
If I had to single out one part of that as the funniest selection, I think it’s the idea that elevating Sheriff Joe to the federal level is a good idea. He’s already going nuts shitting on the law and making a mockery of justice, why don’t we see if giving him incredible power will level him out? Virginia Ridgerunner announces that she can envision an even more catastrophic government:

Palin/Bachmann 2012, with Fred Thompson as Chief of Staff, Duncan Hunter as Secretary of Defense, John Bolton as Secretary of State, and Tom Tancredo as Secretary of Homeland Defense.
The upside here is that any veteran would have the ability to troll our new Secretary of Homeland Defense right out of the building in seconds. The downside is that the rest of America would be reduced to Mad Max-style anarchy in barren, desolate caricatures of the places we now know. Finally, Vinnie has the idea that ends the entire debate:

Heck, I could go with..

Palin/Palin 2012
Palin for everything! Vote straight ticket Palin! Write-in candidate for all local offices: Palin! All hail Palin!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Train of Thought Lounge: Scarface and 2Pac

Too busy for posting right now even though there are tons of things to post about. There's always time for Train of Thought lounge though...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stupid People Assemble, Hilarity Ensues


This was from last week, but it doesn't make it any less funny:

U.S. Capitol Police arrested 10 people this afternoon after the Capitol Hill Tea Party crowd stormed Congressional office buildings.

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, public information office for the Capitol Police, told TPMDC the arrests happened in the Cannon House building as tea partiers attempted to protest Speaker Nancy Pelosi about health care.

They were charged with unlawful entry (entering a Congressional office and refusing to leave when told to do so) and/or disorderly conduct (yelling in the hallway outside an office) at Room 235 in the Cannon House Office Building.

Room 235 is Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office for district business, not where she conducts her duties as Speaker. That's handled at an office in the Capitol building.

TPMDC happened upon a crowd that formed around two police vans as the protesters were prepared for "transporting," according to one officer there.

I'm sure the teabaggers will handle this well...

Without those official details, protesters in the crowd watching the arrests were furious. They shouted "Let them go!" and one man yelled at the police that "Martin Luther King" was being dishonored and shouted "Letter from Birmingham Jail!"

One woman told officers they were "shameful."

"This is America, this is not the Soviet Union," one woman said.

Like a bad game of telephone, the crowd spread rumors without anyone having witnessed exactly what happened.

Several people said the group had been arrested for praying. Others said the group was arrested for ripping up pages from the nearly 2,000-page health care bill.

To show support for them, members of the crowd started ripping up their pages from the bill, which rally organizers had handed out for the purpose of reading them to members of Congress.

"Here's a piece of paper, I'm tearing it," one woman shouted as another joined in: "I tore a piece too!"

That woman later told the officers, "I know you guys are just doing your job but don't you hate your job?"

"I'm embarrassed," another woman told her friends.

"Read your history books," another woman shouted at the officers.

"Thugs from Chicago," a man shouted at police.

"Arrest Nancy Pelosi for treason. You're arresting the wrong people," another shouted.

One of the men arrested appeared to be wearing a priest's collar. He was ill, and officers were holding him up as he sat on the curb. After several minutes, he was led away in an ambulance and the crowd shouted that he was a "hero."

"Shame on you!" the crowd erupted.

"In your heart you know this is wrong," a man yelled at police.

There will be a time when making fun of these people won't be this hillarious. Now is not that time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Follow The Train of Thought On Twitter

If you're on twitter, you can follow the blog @train_o_thought.

The feed will notify you of new posts, and news about the blog.

And while you're at it, feel free to follow myself, DCJonesy and 6.54 on twitter at @ManWithoutPants, @DCJonesy, @nhvzr respectively.

NEW MEDIA! WOOOOOO!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And Now They Have A Party...

Teabaggers, the political party: (via dkos)

A Florida conservative has registered an official "Tea Party" with the office of the Secretary of State, and is promising to run candidates against Republicans and Democrats in state and national races.

"The current system has become mired in the sludge of special interest money that seeks to control the leadership of both parties. It’s time for real change,” says Orlando lawyer Frederic O’Neal, the new party's chairman, who couldn't be reached immediately by phone, in a press release.

A spokeswoman for the Florida Secretary of State, Jennifer Davis, said the party had registered in August, and that its qualified candidates will appear on the ballot in the state.

O'Neal compared his party's role to that of the Conservative Party in New York's 23rd District. Florida, however, lacks the "fusion" rules that has allowed third parties in New York to amass influence by offering their ballot line to acceptable major-party candidates.

It's gonna be just like NY-23! You know, that race where we ran a nutcase in one of the most conservative districts in the country and he still lost.

Let's be like those people!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Train of Thought Lounge – DJ Jazzy Jeff & Michael Jackson – “He’s The King, I’m the DJ” Mix Tape

     Ladies and Gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages.  Thanks to the wonder that is Google Wave, I have stumbled upon what could be one of the greatest Mix tapes I have ever heard.  The entire playlist is available off of IMEEM (Free online player, www.imeem.com, registration required is only an email address, low ads).  Unfortunately, IMEEM only allows embedding for 30 sec per song, so here is a compilation of several tracks off the album, including You Rock My World Mix, I’ll be there For you, Human Nature,  and Darling Dear.  Check out the related videos for the entire album.

Health Care Reform Passes the House, But It Gets Stupak'd Along The Way

Late Saturday night:
Hours after President Obama exhorted Democratic lawmakers to "answer the call of history," the House hit an unprecedented milestone on the path to health-care reform, approving a trillion-dollar package late Saturday that seeks to overhaul private insurance practices and guarantee comprehensive and affordable coverage to almost every American.

After months of acrimonious partisanship, Democrats closed ranks on a 220-215 vote that included 39 defections, mostly from the party's conservative ranks. But the bill attracted a surprise Republican convert: Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana, who represents the Democratic-leaning district of New Orleans and had been the target of a last-minute White House lobbying campaign. GOP House leaders had predicted their members would unanimously oppose the bill.

Democrats have sought for decades to provide universal health care, but not since the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid has a chamber of Congress approved such a vast expansion of coverage. Action now shifts to the Senate, which could spend the rest of the year debating its version of the health-care overhaul. Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) hopes to bring a measure to the floor before Thanksgiving, but legislation may not reach Obama's desk before the new year.

At the Capitol, Obama urged the few Democrats who were still wavering on Saturday afternoon to put aside their political fears and embrace the bill's ambitious objectives. "Opportunities like this come around maybe once in a generation," he said afterward. "This is our moment to live up to the trust that the American people have placed in us. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. This is our moment to deliver."

The House legislation would for the first time require every individual to obtain insurance, and would require all but the smallest employers to provide coverage to their workers. It would vastly expand Medicaid and create a new marketplace where people could obtain federal subsidies to buy insurance from private companies or from a new government-run insurance plan.
Now here's the bad news:

But this came at a huge price. In the name of what anyone would agree is an incremental health reform (and entrenched powers in this country leave little opportunity for reform in anything but an incremental fashion, sadly), women’s reproductive rights were set back further than at any time in the last generation, with the passage of the Stupak amendment, a brazen introduction of the anti-choice movement into private insurance markets. Under this standard, any insurance company offering plans on the exchange, be they public or private, would effectively have to deny coverage of elective abortion services. The exchanges are set to grow to emcompass practically all companies, large or small, and maybe all individuals, so you’re basically talking about, over time, banning insurance coverage of abortion. This puts a massive restriction on access to anyone who doesn’t have the funds. Jon Walker explains further.

64 members of the Democratic caucus voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment. 62 were men (of course, Marcy Kaptur and Kathy Dahlkemper were foregrounded in the debate, but no women joined them). Of the 64, 41 ended up going ahead and voting for the bill. But 23 members voted for Stupak, to restrict choice, and then against the health care reform bill. These 23 are simply moles inside the caucus, opposing key planks of the Democratic platform. What’s more, they will have giant targets on their back, both from Democratic activists seeking primaries and Republicans who know that their base will turn out in much stronger numbers for their candidates than these so-called Democrats who appear to stand for nothing. Those names:

Altmire (PA), Barrow (GA), Boccieri (OH), Boren (OK), Bright (AL), Chandler (KY), Childers (MS), Davis (AL), Davis (TN), Gordon (TN), Griffith (AL), Holden (PA), Marshall (GA), Matheson (UT), McIntyre (NC), Melancon (LA), Peterson (MN), Ross (AR), Shuler (NC), Skelton (MO), Tanner (TN), Taylor (MS), Teague (NM)

I don’t know any Democrat who would actually miss any of them.

Amen to that. I was telling someone this weekend that one positive of the potential Democratic midterm losses is that it most likely be these people losing their jobs. Would anyone else care? I know I wouldn't.

Where we move forward from here will be interesting. There will be the typical douchebaggery from the senate, since the super important and totally not gay Senator Lindsay Graham declared the house bill "dead on arrival". That was an appropriate phrase for Graham to use, since another 45,000 people will be "dead on arrival" next year thanks to assholes like himself.

If Reid's bill passes the Senate (which it probably will), then you have an intense conference committee thunderdome where all the specifics get worked out mysteriously behind closed doors. Obama apparently promised Waxman that he'd attempt to remove the Stupak's anti-abortion nonsense then, but we'll see.

To sum it up, I'd feel much better about the passage of this bill if it wasn't guaranteed to get shittier throughout the next stages of the process. I suppose that's the way the process works so I shouldn't expect differently, but it just makes it all the more crushing that Pelosi didn't have enough votes for the medicare +5 public option.

So if you thought the last couple weeks of debate were stupid, things are about to get a whole lot worse. We're headed to the Senate, where the Douche Caucus rules the day and people seem to rise in stature the more irrelevant they become. I demand to know what President Snowe thinks about this!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Republican Representatives: “We have no idea what’s going on.”

Overhauling the American healthcare system is an enormous task, which has a very real risk of either being insufficiently helpful or even overtly harmful. The bill which passed in the House yesterday is imperfect- due to the difficulties inherent in trying to fix such a badly broken system, and also due to the fact that your average Representative (from either party) is a terrible human being. A combination of greed, stupidity, and blind partisanship conspires against every piece of legislation that is passed. Democrats are by no means immune to these forces.

But it’s worth noting once more that Republicans are a complete non-entity in the reform debate. Health care legislation has been a central topic for months now, but the Republicans literally didn’t have a substantive plan until last week- and even that was quickly torn to pieces by the CBO for being “fucking disastrous” (my words, not theirs). The signal-to-noise ratio from conservative thinkers and activists has been absurd, with no meaningful thoughts on how to solve real problems emerging from the din. The only thoughts Republicans have had about health care reform concern how to best utilize it to attack Obama and improve their chances in 2010. If Democrats hadn’t made this the centerpiece of this year, the Republicans would have sunk comprehensive reform entirely like they have before.

That’s what makes this video so unbelievable:



I don’t care if these guys don’t know the exact numbers. Even percentages aren’t really important. The fact that none of them can even put forward an estimate is appalling. The concerns of their constituents are apparently beneath their contempt- they know damn well that their districts have uninsured citizens. How many, though? Who cares, whatever, too busy putting together an attack ad to run against the socialist Kenyan. If they had their own plan, with different ideas on how to tackle reform, this video would just be a bit of gotcha journalism. They don’t, though. For Republicans this entire debate is about how to hurt Democrats, not about how to best insure their constituents or repair the system. It leaves them in an awkward place when people start asking questions- witness the man who literally runs away rather than try to weasel out of it like the others.

The Democrats are far from perfect as a party. Plenty of them have been serving their corporate masters and doing their best to shit up reform. But ultimately they’re the only ones with a real chance to deliver something that’ll actually help Americans. The Republicans today call to mind part of a cartoon by Tim Kreider, on the cases made by the political parties for why they deserve your vote:

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: A Quick Primer on Socially Responsible Investment (SRI)

It may come as a surprise that you can make money while supporting efforts to make the world a better place: those of us on the political left tend to think of social good as a fundamentally non-profit endeavor and view corporate profits as fundamentally irresponsible. But in fact, there are a wide range of mutual funds geared towards Socially Responsible Investment (SRI), and their number and strength is only growing.


1. Why go SRI?

SRI is the very definition of working within the system to effectively enact change: in addition to providing capital to virtuous (and potentially undervalued) companies, the managers of SRI funds can use their votes at shareholder meetings to directly affect the practices of their companies. This fall, for example, a group of 181 investors managing more than $13 trillion in assets signed an agreement to support efforts to fight climate change.

Nor do you necessarily have to take a financial hit with SRI: by avoiding large banks and focusing on smaller, more responsible companies, the Appleseed Fund (among many others) managed to significantly outperform the market over the last year. In fact, environmentally conscious funds are in a unique position to take advantage of future trends. Today’s economy and global situation combine to create a particularly ideal opportunity for investment in sectors like alternative energy and water management: stock prices are relatively low due to the recession and the smaller size of the companies involved, but are likely to appreciate significantly over the next few decades as the effects of climate change and water shortages become more prevalent.


2. Types of Funds

There is a difference between funds that exclude companies based on certain criteria and funds that actively seek to make a positive difference in the world by investing in sectors that have socially or environmentally responsible goals.

The first kind have been around for some time, and usually focus on excluding companies that deal in tobacco, alcohol, nuclear energy, armaments, gambling, and other industries deemed socially undesirable. Often, they will employ both negative and positive screens in their attempt to steer money away from companies that do harm. These sorts of funds are an excellent choice for people who want to limit the harm that their money can do in the world without sacrificing the relatively assured gains that come from mainstream investing.

However, there are some problems with this SRI approach. Many seem to follow the guidelines published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which prohibits investment in companies involved with abortion. Also, these funds might invest in companies that take a more responsible approach to their business than their competitors, but are still in fields (such as oil drilling) that may not be part of the future we would like to create. Of course, since mutual funds necessarily hold stock in a large number of companies, no portfolio will be perfect – we must always accept some compromise, and even just the elimination of the most egregious abusers goes a long way towards responsibility.

Some examples in this category include the Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX), Appleseed Fund (APPLX), and AHA Socially Responsible Equity (AHRAX).

The second type of fund (though there is no sharp division) takes a more direct approach towards social change. Often this means zeroing in on a particular industry (like alternative energy or clean water production) that provides the opportunity for profit while advancing an important cause. At other times, it simply means screening more proactively for companies attempting to affect positive social and environmental results.

Examples of this type of fund include Calvert Global Alternative Energy (CGAEX) and Global Water Fund (CFWAX), Robeco SAM Sustainable Climate Fund (SMCNX), Pax World Global Green Fund (PGRNX), and the Winslow Green Solutions Fund (WGSLX) and Green Growth Fund (WGGFX).


3. Resources

•The Social Investment Forum provides perhaps the single most useful center of information, including a sortable list of several hundred SRI mutual funds.

Social Funds claims to be the largest personal finance site devoted to socially responsible investing, and it’s hard to argue with that. In addition to providing reports on hundreds of companies, they maintain a variety of news pages and publish a guide to SRI mutual funds.

•The GreenMoney Journal: From the Stock Market to the Supermarket is a publication dedicated to assessing and promoting green investments. Their print version costs $25 a year, but they run a free quarterly E-Newsletter.

•In addition to reporting on sustainable business in general, SustainableBusiness.com runs a publication called Progressive Investor that’s pricey enough that I haven’t taken the plunge, though it comes well-recommended.

•The Environmental News Network reviews Ten New Green Mutual Funds.


Caveat: Though the above represents the summary of a few hundred hours of work, please note that I’m not a financial professional in any way. There’s a world of information out there, and I’ve intentionally skipped a great deal of it and no doubt unintentionally skipped far more. This post is but a tiny fraction of the information needed to justify an investment: always do as much research as possible and confer with a financial expert before making any substantial commitment.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Labor Considers Cutting Off the Douche Caucus

Something that should have happened a long, long time ago:

Organized labor, still battling to stop plans to pay for health care through taxing expensive plans -- but unwillin to flatly oppose reform -- will consider a plan to reduce its contributions to Democrats who don't side with them on the issue, a labor source said.

The federation's executive council will meet Monday in Washington to consider, among other things, "how to hold politicians more accountable to the workers that helped elect them," the source said, outlining a threat aimed primarily at the Blue Dog Democrats considering voting against a health reform package.

"One of the options is cutting off contributions to politicians who aren't supporting the issues that workers care about," he said.

The suggestion is based on a Sheet Metal Workers' decision to stop giving money to politicians in favor of dedicating it to the issue campaign for health care legislation.

As someone who works in organized labor, Labor's allegiance to the democratic party regardless of their actions has always driven me insane

This a good start, but at the end of the day, organized labor's value is not in the monetary contributions they make. Unlike organizations like the Chamber of Commerce that are bankrolled with corporate cash, unions represent millions of actual people, who knock on doors, make phone calls and turn out the vote. A much stronger stand is threatening to withhold endorsements, which would stop electoral work, and put lots of shitty congressmen and senators out of their jobs.

Glenn Beck Insanity Theater: Jon Stewart Edition

Last night the Daily Show dedicated 8 minutes to a Beck parody that really does just get better and better:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The 11/3 Project
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


Thanks to Kari for pointing it out! I can dream about this being Beck's 'Stewart on Crossfire' moment, right?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Train of Thought Film Vault- 25th Hour

   Greetings my friends, I return to the blog some 5 months after my last post.  To ease back into the blogging scene, I present to you the latest installment from the ToT Film Vault – Bryan Cox’s speech to Ed Norton’s character in the final scene of Spike Lee’s 25th Hour.  Watch it, take it in, and admire the power of Terrance Blanchard’s score mixed with Lee’s vision of a New Americana…

 

    On the blog front, I am using this post to test some new software for the website, so please comment on whether the layout and video embedding looks normal.  If anyone has any experience with Windows 7 Live Writer, let me know.  So far the tech seems to work better in editing and overall formatting for the blog.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What They're Up Against

I can understand that some people are too uncomfortable with gay marriage to vote for it. The mostly elderly bloc that reliably votes against it must have plenty of people who do so not out of a sense of malice but instead out of respect to tradition. I wish they would change their minds, but there's only so much we can do about that.

The movement that mobilized to support Proposition 8 last year and to defeat gay marriage again in Maine last night also relies on a very different group, though. People who organized and fought against marriage equality, who managed to tip the scales against tolerance yet again, who cheered when the results came in last night. Some of the pictures from their campaign party as the votes piled up against gay marriage:



Can you imagine being ecstatic about seeing civil rights being denied to your friends and neighbors?

The silver lining here is that they can't keep this up forever. They narrowly won it today, where it wouldn't have even been considered in the past. Demographics and changing attitudes should make each future win more costly, until the entire fight becomes unsustainable for cultural conservatives. Young people today support marriage equality 58 to 42- this is an issue that will keep coming up until the bigots lose.

Why Deeds Lost In Virginia

Hint: It's not because they don't want health care:
Instead of attempting to energize more young and minority voters to the polls to make the electorate more representative of Virginia–they began running a campaign targeted to the people already planning to vote. Creigh began bashing federal Democratic priorities like “Cap and Trade” and health care reform to appeal to the conservatives that were headed to the polls.

And every time he did it, polls indicated turnout shriveled even further among Democrats and progressive voters–making the electorate even older, whiter, and more conservative. To which Creigh responded to by bashing federal Democrats more–which resulted in even more progressives becoming disengaged. Over and over, the cycle continued. Over the last six weeks, PPP polls indicated the share of the electorate that identified as Democrats declined from 38% to 31%. In other words almost one out of every five self-identified Democrats planning to vote on Labor Day has since then looked at Creigh Deeds and his conservative message, and decided they weren’t voting. Ouch!

The people feeling this voter depression most are Democrats running downballot from Creigh for Lt. Governor, Attorney General and the House of Delegates. When an upballot candidate loses because Independents break against them, downballot candidates still have a chance by winning those Independent voters back to vote for them. But when an upballot candidate depresses the base and changes the composition of the electorate, there is nothing a downballot candidate can do. Which is the major reason why Republicans will sweep all three statewide offices today and make major gains in the House of Delegates, barring a last minute miracle.

The lesson for candidates in 2010 is clear: do not depress your base when our electorate is already far less likely to vote than Republicans to begin with. Successful candidates in 2010 will find a way to engage young voters and minority voters so they come back to the polls–and AFTER they do that, work on winning over enough Independents to win.

It would be nice if this election killed this crappy strategy once and for all, but the media seems to think Deeds lost because Obama is increasing the deficit or something, so I'm not getting my hopes up.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Election 2009 LIVEBLOG

A Preview of Tonight's races is here.

Glenn Beck's endorsement of Hoffman is here.

Remember Wall Street Journal's rules for tonight's results: If a Republican wins in Virginia, Obama loses the 2012 election, and if a Democrat wins in New Jersey, it's because they cheated.

Glenn Beck Insanity Theater- NY-23 Edition

Tonight we’re going to see a very special election take place in upstate New York- a battle between a conservative Democrat and a Conservative Party candidate. The Republican candidate, who seems to have been the most liberal of the three, dropped out and endorsed the Democrat a few days ago. Meanwhile all sorts of horrible Republican villains have been popping out of the woodwork to endorse the Conservative, a creepy guy who has been slammed for being openly disinterested in local issues.

Right now it looks like the Conservative, Hoffman, has a slight lead. It’s hard to say what the result of a Hoffman win would be- perhaps it would aid the ‘America now hates Democrats’ narrative? But it would also be an encouraging signal to the Tea Party forces, which have turned openly hostile towards the Republican Party. A Tea-fueled third party attacking the Republicans from the right in 2010 is pretty much the best thing that could happen to the Democrats, potentially saving them even if the economy is still looking sub-par next year. On the other hand, if Owens (the Democrat) wins then we’ll just have another appallingly terrible conservative Democrat to deal with.

Glenn Beck charged right into the center of this, encouraging his viewers to vote for Hoffman and ranting about how ACORN endorsed Owens. This clip from his show is long but a good showcase for a good ol’ harangue followed by an interview with the eerie Hoffman:



Ah, I’ve got it now! Hoffman reminds me of the dog that stares at cupcakes- the same haunted expression and odd pauses.

Tonight should be interesting, one way or the other- feel free to stop by later when we set up another liveblog event (10 PM, BE THERE! DO IT!).

Election Day Preview - Liveblog 10 PM Tonight

Crazed shouts of ACORN! and VOTER FRAUD! are ringing out across the wingnut universe, so it must be an election day.

Races to watch tonight:

New York District 23
Hoffman Vs. Owens

Hoffman is a full blown teabagger who forced the Republican out of the race. The Republican then endorsed Owens, a crappy blue dog Democrat.

No tears shed if a blue dog loses their job, and a teabagger win could plunge the Republicans in a full on crazy vs. less crazy civil war. A Hoffman win could be lots of fun, and maybe the Democrats could run somebody less sucky next time.

Maine Prop 1

Would ban gay marriage in the state if passed.

The Joe Buck Disgusting Act of the Week goes to Organizing for America, who didn't mention voting no on this in their Get out the vote email. Fucking weak.

New Jersey Governor
Jon Corzine vs. Chris "Doug" Christie

Corzine a good candidate and is fairly progressive on a lot of issues.

Apparently a major issue in the campaign has been how fat Chris Christie is. Our discourse is so fucking stupid.

Virginia Governor
Creigh Deeds vs Bob McDonnell
Bob McDonnell said that working women were "detrimental" to the family and opposes contraception. Jesus.

Creigh Deeds railed against cap and trade, opposes the Employee Free Choice Act and said he'd look into opting out of the public option if he had the chance. Fuck him. He is what's wrong with the Democratic Party, and having depressed his base into oblivion, he will lose. It's good to know that both candidates for Governor ran on platforms of taking Virginia back into the 1800s.

Remember that if a Republican wins in Virginia, Obama loses the 2012 election, and if a Democrat wins in New Jersey, it's because they cheated. It was a banner day for journalism at the Wall Street Journal!

Follow the results with a LIVEBLOG tonight at 10 PM!

LIVEBLOG!

10 PM!

TONIGHT!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Southern White Men Are Not Fans Of Barack Obama

Matt Yglesias posted this map: (via atrios)

When you combine it with this chart, it's not pretty picture for the south. As Atrios would say, there's something about Obama that white men in the south can't stand.

Thinking... thinking...