Sunday, March 30, 2008

I've Moved

Both figuratively and literally. Now reside in Boston. And in the ether I reside at unattributed musings.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Democratic Cowardice

Once again, the Democratic Party in Congress fails to exhibit anything resembling a backbone. Faced with the White House's intransigence over the Iraq War funding bill, the Congressional leadership goes wobbly and gives Bush everything he wanted. There is no longer a timetable for ending the War.

I probably should not be surprised, given the Party's lack of resolve and fight over the past seven years or so. But let's look at the on the ground political reality- Bush's approval rating is still hovering around 30%; well over 50% of the country wants us to get out of Iraq; Democrats retook both houses of Congress in '06 largely by calling for an end to the Iraq War.

And yet, when faced with the President's veto of their original bill, which included timelines and was supported by the American people, the Democratic leadership not only blinked, but bent over for the White House.

Sure, they did not have the votes to override the veto, but there were at least two alternatives- resend Bush the same bill and make him veto it yet again; send him a bill with two months of funding and force him to comeback to Congress every two months to ask for additional funds. But these cowardly Democrats instead chose to surrender.

To the Democratic Party, I say fuck you. Don't ask me for money or support. I will spend my time and money working for particular candidates and causes. I will especially support folks running in Democratic primaries against these weak-willed SOBs currently inhabiting the Capitol.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Another Wednesday Quickie

Laura Bush is just as awful as her husband. The First Lady had the audacity to claim that, "no one suffers more than their president and I do" with respect to Iraq. Just wow. No one? Really? Do you think that maybe the families of the 3000+ soldiers who lost their lives or the tens of thousands of injured service members might suffer more than you and Shrub? God, the Bushies clearly are the scum of the earth.

Rudy is still a raging jackass. According to Giuliani, if Dems retake the White House in '09 there will be another 9-11 on US soil. Call me crazy, but wasn't there a Republican in the White House and Rudy in Gracie Mansion on 9-11? If there was any doubt still left in your mind that Rudy is more of an authoritarian than Bush/Cheney, have a look at this quote from the article- "We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense." So Rudy wants to stay in Iraq forever; continue the degradation of the Bill of Rights; illegally spy on US citizens; and ignore the Geneva Conventions. And you thought we couldn't do worse than Bush?

Bush's Occupational Safety and Health Administration can't be bothered to write or enforce regulations to protect workers (ie, do their job). This shouldn't really come as a shock, given this administration's absolute disregard of oversight. But OSHA is not alone. All of our regulatory agencies have been gutted over the past six years. And, just to be certain that oversight won't occur, Bush has placed former industry chiefs in charge of regulating their former colleagues.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Republican Stupidity

Ok, so maybe that headline is redundant.

Apparently, John McCain thinks that turning the Beach Boys' Barbara Ann into "bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran." Now that is sure presidential timber, isn't it? Nevermind the clusterfuck that is Iraq, or the Taliban's ascendance in Afghanistan and Pakistan, let's sing about bombing Iran. Ignore the fact that our military is stretched beyond the breaking point, let's do this thing. Apparently McCain thinks the way to get back in the good graces of GOP primary voters is to appeal to their chickenhawk bravado.

Alberto Gonzales has the audacity to claim that criticizing him equates to attacking the career folks at DOJ. Sound familiar? It's all part of the GOP's culture of victimhood. We've seen this before- criticism of the administration's bungling of the Iraq War have consistently been met with challenges of the critic's patriotism. See, not only do Republicans completely fail to accept any responsibility for their failures, but they pass blame onto those charged with carrying out their failed policies.

Republican/conservative bloggers are once again proven wrong on everything. In the moments after Monday's horrific events at Va Tech, manly conservative bloggers questioned the courage of the male victims. These armchair warriors suggested that the men failed to stand up to the shooter or otherwise engage in courageous acts. Of course, we have now learned that plenty of people tried to defend themselves and others and saved lives while losing their own. Shame on these cowardly jackals who sit comfortably in their homes and offices criticizing people they know nothing about. I am sure these jerkoffs would piss their pants if confronted with a threat greater than a jammed paper tray on their printer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wednesday Afternoon Quickies

The GOP hates the free market and won't allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate drug prices on behalf of Medicare recipients. Heaven forbid that the federal government be allowed to use its market power. Instead, Republicans prefer allowing only insurance companies and pharma benefits managers to negotiate prices. Apparently benefits that accrue to their corporate masters matter more than lowering government outlays for prescription drugs.

The theocrats got the Supreme Court they wanted. Upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is the first step towards eliminating reproductive choice in America. Be sure to thank Holy Joe Lieberman and supposedly moderate Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins for their procedural support of anti-choice Justice Sam Alito.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saturday Quick Hits

John McCain is both delusional and a bigger gambler than Bill Bennett. McCain will apparently make winning in Iraq the centerpiece of his campaign. Apparently McCain thinks he can win the race for President with the votes of all three people who agree with him- Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and Joe Lieberman. I'm trying to find a way to accept McCain's bet. As they say, a fool and his money are easily separated and I've got lots of school loans to pay off.

John Edwards get it. Edwards has informed the CBC that he will not participate in their debate hosted by Fox News. According to Edwards' campaign spokesman, "we believe there's just no reason for Democrats to give Fox a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they're objective. If there was any uncertainty as to Fox's objectivity, it was put to rest when they attacked Democratic candidates, Democratic constituency groups, and the Nevada Democratic party when their last proposed debate was cancelled for lack of support."

Will 2008 be the year the GOP abandons social conservatism for authoritarianism? Ok, maybe abandon is too strong of a word. But if Giuliani continues to hold his lead it can only say one thing about today's GOP- that the GOP's willingness to subvert the Constitution and democratic norms are more important than preventing reproductive choice and icky gay relationships. Look at the current crop- Romney used to love gays, was wishy-washy on abortion and is a Mormon; Giuliani is a pro-choice Catholic who has shacked up with a gay couple and dressed in drag, but he loves exercising unilateral power; McCain is pro-life, but he is viewed as a maverick for supporting the end of torture, etc. It's no wonder Fred Thompson makes so many GoOPers stiff with anticipation- he's Southern; doesn't like the gay or reproductive choice; and, would probably continue Bush's misguided foreign policy. But then, Dobson says he's not Christian enough. So, go figure. It will certainly be interesting to watch the GOP's circular firing squad.

Music We Love

I have always wanted to use the royal we, but since there is no other musclehead it has been difficult. So, in this case the we refers to me and my pot of french roast.

Chris Garneau makes achingly beautiful pop songs. Garneau uses piano and his falsetto to engage the listener even deeper into the emotional world created by his lyrics. Music for Tourists is quite simply a gem of a record, perfect for quiet afternoons or relaxing nights.

Kings of Leon have finally realized their potential with their third album, Because of the Times. This is a hybrid of Southern and garage rock, with some flat out stompers.

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists new album, Living with the Living is a post punk political masterpiece. Leo is comfortable coursing through straight up post punk numbers, Irish tinted tunes, and even some raggae-tinged soul. The man is clearly a songwriting genius and gives you fifteen songs just to prove it. And, since this is Ted Leo there is plenty of social and political commentary, headlined by the already popular Bomb. Repeat. Bomb.

Panda Bear, the nom be plume of Animal Collective member Noah Lennox, is probably the least accessible of this list of music. But Person Pitch is a wonderful album and its secrets will be revealed to those who dare venture outside of the musical mainstream. Lennox is staking a claim to be this generation's Brian Wilson. He has a beuatiful voice (yes, he does sound almost exactly like Wilson) and the same spirit of adventure that gave us the musical masterpiece (and one of the most important rock albums) Pet Sounds. I cannot help but think of Pet Sounds everytime I listen to this album. And that is about the highest compliment one can pay.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Post Q1 Presidential Thoughts

Now that the fundraising numbers are out and have been digested, I think there is a striking difference between the Clinton and Obama campaigns. We still don't know whether or not Obama beat Clinton in dollars raised for the primary election (Clinton has not disclosed the breakdown of her contributions), but we do know that Obama did best Clinton in number of donors. By about a 2 to 1 margin. And what does that tell us?

It means, for one, that many Hillary donors have maxed out. And that many others are near maxed. I've thought for quite some time that Hillary has a lower ceiling than some of the other Dem candidates. She is not likely to draw in lots of new donors. And, once these folks have maxed out she will have hit that ceiling.

Obama, on the other hand, not only has a larger number of donors, but many more who have yet to max out. In fact, his average contribution was $250, versus $520 for Hillary.

What this means is that Obama is better positioned for sustained fundraising success. In addition, it clearly furthers the notion that Obama is more of a movement candidate than Clinton. A great deal has changed since 2004, when Dean's movement was short circuited by the establishment. But with an ascendant grassroots, the insider machinery will have a much more formidable task to derail Obama.

No More Polls, Please!

The deluge of presidential polls is such a phenomenal waste of time for a couple of reasons. First, spare me the national polls. We do not elect a president by popular vote. The only value in national polling is to get a sense of where people stand in the aggregate.

The second problem with polls this far out is that they do a poor job of predicting actual voter behavior. Now, I am sure you think my problem lies with the time aspect alone. But that is not the case. The underlying problem is that such a high percentage of each sample is what can be called low information voters. Because we are so far away from the actual election, people are not devoting the resources to decision making that they will six or seven months from now.

The poll numbers of Clinton and McCain are clear examples of this effect. These low information voters make their judgments now based on limited knowledge and understanding of each candidate and her/his positions. Clinton's current support is a product more of her name recognition than her positions. People associate Hillary with liberal positions and fighting Republicans. I would argue that many of the current Hillary supporters do not know her position on Iraq (w/r/t leaving 75,000 troops in the region) or her corporatism.

The perception of McCain, on the other hand, is one of opposing other Republicans and Bush in particular. The fact that he has one of the most conservative records in the Senate is obscured by his association with attempts to ban torture and reform campaign finance.

As voters consume and process more information about each candidate, Clinton and McCain ought to be on different trajectories, at least within their party's primaries and caucuses. Republicans will realize that McCain is more conservative than Giuliani and adjust their support accordingly. While Democrats will come to see the cleavage between Hillary and the grassroots' positions. That is not to say that McCain will be the nominee and Clinton will fail. Just that logic dictates a reversal of fortunes, with respect to their current standing.

And that is why I don't get excited about polls.