Get Your Blog Up

“This administration is populated by people who’ve spent their careers bashing government. They’re not just small-government conservatives—they’re Grover Norquist, strangle-it-in-the-bathtub conservatives. It’s a cognitive disconnect for them to be able to do something well in an arena that they have so derided and reviled all these years.”

Senator Hillary Clinton

Friday, September 30, 2005

Blame the media

The real reason FEMA couldn't get troops down to New Orleans, provide necessary food and water to hundreds of people stranded at the Superdome and the Convention Center, sent trucks of ice on a nationwide tour rather than deploying them to storm stricken areas, or even figure out the difference between Charleston, West Virginia and Charleston, South Carolina?

It's the media's fault, of course.

Hugh claims the media failed to "capture the true story" that took place in New Orleans. I'm not sure what story he means. If he means the story of thousands of people suffering after having their homes destroyed and their lives torn apart, I guess he's right. If he's referring to the story of those people having no food or water, sometimes for as long as five days, he's right there, too. Maybe he meant the story of those survivors begging and pleading for help from the only people who showed up for them - the news media. He's right.

The real story wasn't the fact that America seemed to abandon these thousands of people and the federal government looked clueless in it's response.

The real story in Hugh's eyes must be the fact that the media reported stories it heard from those on the ground as fact and truth and did not spend the requisite days and weeks verifying them as true.

And where did the media get these stories from? From the people who were on the ground in New Orleans, who claimed to witness these things happening. They were citizens who reported their stories to journalists, who then passed along these stories to the public. Citizen reporters gave the media these stories. The same sort of citizen reporters that the right is frequently apt to praise when they are called bloggers.

Clearly this has become an opportunity for the right bloggers to jump on the media as biased and untrustworthy. But it's important to remember that bloggers are little more than overtly biased journalists. They find stories that support their end. Their worldview guides how they read the news. Those that report the story try not to let that interfere. Sometimes it does, and that's when either side pounces.

Think the media is slanted right? Check out the righty blogs. Think it's slanted left? Media Matters leads the charge agianst that. But to see how far the right is willing to go, check out this snippet from a comment in a post at Blogs for Bush about this very topic:
Here's a story about the broken levees in NOLA at MSNBC by Lisa Meyers the the MSM is ignoring...

See it? MSNBC is reporting a story, yet the "MSM" is ignoring it. Meaning MSNBC is not a part of the MSM, a claim I think most people would have a serious problem with. But so it goes on the right side of the blogs.

The MSM is not dying because of bloggers, or because it is untrustworthy. Blogging stories mostly are based on these MSM accounts. The problem for media outlets is how they capitalize on the advent of new technology. How they decide to adapt to the web.

The L.A. Times called the other day to offer me a subscription, and I told the woman who called that I didn't need to subscribe because I read it for free on the web. Does it mean that I don't read the L.A. Times? No, I do. It's just that I'm not paying for it in a traditional way. And I imagine you find a growing number of people saving themselves a few dollars a month by reading online what they used to have to read in black and white.

The right has been sounding the death knell of media for a year and a half now, yet it still seems that media is an important part of everyday life. I seriously doubt it's going anywhere.

And as for the right? Well, I've argued before that their problem isn't media bias, but rather the fact they the truth is not on their side when it comes to policy. And I see no reason at this point to retract that statement.

Without standards, we can't fail!

The Bush White House has warned Congress to keep any standards for the treatment of prisoners in the War On Terror out of the defense spending bill while rejecting any calls for a commission to probe abuses. This is the second time the Bush administration has issued such a warning, after sending Dick Cheney out in July to strong arm a group of Republican lawmakers who wanted to pass legislation that would have prohibited cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees.

Clearly if the White House doesn't have the power to anally rape prisoners with glow sticks orbeat and kill innocent taxi drivers in the name of freedom, we can never win this war on terror and spread the message of liberty and human rights for all around the world.

I guess when we spread American style democracy around the world, it involves abuse and mistreatment of prisoners that have yet to be proven guilty of a crime.

DeLiar

It's odd the headline to this story is, "DeLay says he didn't get to tell his side," rather than, "DeLay lies when he says he didn't get to tell his side." His own lawyer notes that DeLay is protesting too much:
On Thursday, DeLay said in another broadcast interview that he was under the impression that he wasn't going to be indicted because he hadn't been called to testify before the grand jury.

"I have not testified before the grand jury to present my side of the case, and they indicted me," said DeLay, according to the Associated Press.

Dick DeGuerin, the attorney representing DeLay, said Thursday that DeLay actually was invited to appear before the grand jury, where he would have been under oath. The Houston attorney was not yet on the legal team when DeLay was asked to appear, but he said other attorneys advised him not to testify — a decision DeGuerin supports.

DeGuerin said that DeLay may have been referring in the interviews to the fact that the grand jury did not subpoena him to testify.

[The foreman, William M.] Gibson said there was an open invitation, but the grand jury decided not to force him to appear.

Gibson also pointed out that DeLay's claims that the indictment is political motivated, noting "Ronnie Earle didn't indict him. The grand jury indicted him."

Republicans start to disown Bush

AP:
Marilyn Brewer, a leading Republican candidate for the nation's only open House seat, stared into the TV camera and proclaimed her support for the president.

She was not talking about George W. Bush.

"I stand side by side with Ronald Reagan on less taxes and less government," Brewer told voters at a candidate forum.

The former state assemblywoman also praised Nancy Reagan for her devotion to stem cell research, an issue that has bedeviled the Bush White House. And she touts as her prize endorsement Sen. John McCain, the president's sometime rival and critic.

Not a word about Bush.

Later, the self-described loyal Republican who voted for the president in 2004 explained her calculus: "If the election was this year ... he would not be re-elected."

Brewer is running for the Orange County seat that was vacated by Christopher Cox when the President appointed him to head the SEC.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Friday Random Ten

It Is Friday, Right? edition (idea here):
1. Shipbuilding - Elvis Costello & the Attractions
2. What Do You Suppose - Buellton
3. Tracing Paths - Kite Operations (song available here)
4. The Town Halo - A.C. Newman
5. Arm in the Foam - The Child Who Was A Keyhole (song here)
6. Missing Link - The Waco Brothers
7. Animal Suit - Candy Machine
8. Sexy Results - Death From Above 1979
9. 10:1 - Rouge Wave
10. You & Me - Tender Trap

The world loves a Google bomb

Think Progress discusses why Ronnie Earle isn't the partisan that the GOP is trying to make him out to me.

In fact, Ronnie Earle has prosecuted more Democrats that Republicans in his career and notes that a number of his aides have gone on to run for office as Republicans. No doubt they learned positive lessons on the law from Ronnie Earle.

Learn more about Ronnie Earle here.

More Republicans against Arnold

The California Teacher's Association Republican Caucus has come out against Arnold's propositions:
"We're certainly disappointed. After working with teachers and parents before he was elected and promising to do things differently in Sacramento, Gov. Schwarzenegger's become just another politician," said Ron Edwards, a Stanislaus County sixth-grade teacher and chair of the CTA Republican Caucus. "He's broken his promises to our students and schools and he's pushing bad ideas that will put education, health care and public safety at risk."

Even Republican teachers realize that their once leading man is a villian when it comes to school funding and aid.

Arnold's poll numbers drop again

Bloomber reports on the latest from the Public Policy Institute of California:
Schwarzenegger's approval rating with Californians fell to an all-time low of 33 percent, down 61 percent from a year earlier and unchanged since he announced his re-election bid two weeks ago, according to a poll released today by the Public Policy Institute of California. All three ballot measures he's backing lost support since a similar survey in August.

(snip)

The survey found that support for Schwarzenegger's teacher tenure measure fell to 43 percent from 49 percent a month ago, with 10 percent of those polled still undecided. Opposition to his spending measure, which would give him control to cut the budget without legislative approval, rose to 63 percent from 61 percent in August. Support for his redistricting measure remained about unchanged at 33 percent, with 17 percent still undecided.

Starting the Arnold recall

I think anyone who follows California politics knew it was only a matter of time before someone started the petition to recall Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Dr. Kenneth Matsumura of Berkeley plans to have the recall ballot ready for the primary in June. I'm not sure what impact that would have on Arnold's re-election campaign, but I'm pretty sure he would continue to run even if it was successful, so it seems a little pointless. If Arnold's struggling enough to get recalled, he's probably not going to win re-election anyway, after all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Getting out of Iraq

We are not getting out of Iraq:
The top U.S. general in Iraq on Wednesday cast doubt on his previous forecasts of a substantial cut in American forces in 2006, saying Iraq was in a period of heightened uncertainty that made it "too soon to tell" if troops can be brought home.

In March and again in July, Army Gen. George Casey, who commands the 147,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, predicted a "fairly substantial" reduction in American forces next spring and summer if Iraq's political process goes positively and progress is made in developing Iraqi security forces. Pentagon officials said that meant a reduction of perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 troops.

(snip)

"There was nothing that we heard today to suggest that we are coming out of Iraq soon," Illinois Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin told reporters. "There is no indication from the president or the leadership that they have a plan that will bring our troops home soon."

"And in terms of the capability of the Iraqis to fend for themselves, defend their country, there's been no clear indication from this administration that they have the stand-up capability to do that. And until that happens, there is no end in sight," Durbin added.

And by the way, it seems we're running out of ammo while we're over there. I guess you can only fight with the bullets that you have, not the bullets that you want.

Economic downturn

Reading these stories back to back to back certainly doesn't make me feel optimistic about the economic future of the country or California.

"This entire bill is written for Exxon Mobil."

It sure sounds that way.

I guess in the choice between clean and healthy air and water and energy company giveaways that will have little impact on short term oil and gas prices, the winner is the later for most Republicans.

Go figure.

That's Entertainment!

Any poll that puts Britney Spears' "Toxic" as the world's 2nd favorite song (after Queen's "We Are the Champions") has to be fundamentally flawed.

Please, for the love of the Lord, tell me it's fundamentally flawed.

And as if that weren't bad enough, this is even worse news. Arrested Development is the funniest half hour on TV anywhere, and it's the only show that I've ever taken into account when making other plans.

I guess there's always DVDs . Season 2 comes out October 11th.

Bush's number two

I realize that the Bush administration is searching for any semblance of good news in the war to trumpet up as success, but didn't they think that someone would look into the claims that the now dead Abu Azzam was the number two man in Al Qaeda? Or does the administration just realize that a big headline followed by a page four retraction will still garner positive news?

Either way it's a little pathetic to have to resort to questionable claims to prop up public support for the war in Iraq.

Don't get me wrong - any dead insurgent is a good thing. But stop embellishing the truth, Mr. President. It's just going to make the war look even worse to the country than it already does.

In this corner - Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell:
“You know when I see somebody burning the flag, I’m a Baptist preacher I’m not a Mennonite, I feel it’s my obligation to whip him. In the name of the Lord of course. I feel it’s my obligation to whip him, and if I can’t do it then I look up some of my athletes to help me.

But, as long as at 72 I can handle most of the jobs I do it myself, and I don’t think it’s un-spiritual. When I, when I, when I hear somebody talking about our military and ridiculing and saying terrible things about our President, I’m thinking you know just a little bit of that and I believe the Lord would forgive me if I popped him.”

I had no idea that American patriotism and support for George Bush was so important in the Bible.

Falwell now feels it's his duty to beat people up that don't agree with him and the President. And if he can't do it himself, he's going to find people to help him do it. And all in the name of the Lord.

I only hope that he doesn't hire Pat Robertson's assassination squads.
(Via The Carpetbagger)

Frist investigation heats up

Bloomberg:
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist faces a near-term ordeal unwelcome to anyone, particularly an ambitious politician: an official probe into his personal financial dealings by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC authorized a formal order of investigation of Frist's sale in June of HCA Inc. shares, people with direct knowledge of the inquiry said yesterday. The order allows the agency's enforcement unit to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the order hasn't been made public.

"This turns the flame up under the kettle and keeps the water boiling," said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the independent Rothenberg Political Report in Washington. "It means he's going to continue to be peppered with questions about this stock sale, and no politician wants to be questioned about things like that."

Filibuster Pt. 2

Already Howard Dean is in front of the next Bush Supreme Court nomination:
In an interview, Dean said Democratic unity is essential in the upcoming battle and that the party "absolutely" should be prepared to filibuster -- holding unlimited debate and preventing an up-or-down vote -- Bush's next high court nominee, if he taps someone they find unacceptably ideological. He cited appellate court judges Priscilla R. Owen and Janice Rogers Brown as two who would be likely to trigger such opposition.

"Those people are clearly not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and we're going to do everything we can to make sure they don't," he said. "If we lose, better to go down fighting and standing for what we believe in, because we will not win an election if the public doesn't think we'll stand up for what we believe in."

While I think conservatives would cheer the appointment of a hard core right judge and the end of the filibuster, I'm not sure the public would be on their side anymore. The GOP is already facing criminal indictments, ethics violations, poor public approval ratings, and the debacle that was Hurricane Katrina response. Many are beginning to see elections tides turning against Republicans in 2006.

Now imagine a struggle party makes one last power grab before the real election season kicks off. How could it not be portrayed as anything less than a desperate party make one last desperate attempt to maintain their power?

Clearly the right is not going to lie down for this one. And the battle only begins if Bush does appoint a strongly ideological and unqualified judge. But I can't imagine this is a battle that elected officials are really wanting to undertake.

Bush: More violence in Iraq

Seeing as August was one of the worst months for U.S. soldiers deaths in Iraq, the latest "violence upsurge" warning from the President is hardly reassuring.

It's been 2 1/2 years now since we've been in Iraq. And the best we can do about special dates and the potential for violence is warn the public to brace for it.

That's what we call progress.

DeLay indicted on conspiracy charges

I know I won't be the first or the last, but here's the story:
A Travis County grand jury today indicted U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on one count of criminal conspiracy, jeopardizing the Sugar Land Republican's leadership role as the second most powerful Texan in Washington, D.C.

The charge, a state jail felony punishable by up to two years incarceration, stems from his role with his political committee, Texans for a Republican Majority, a now-defunct organization that already had been indicted on charges of illegally using corporate money during the 2002 legislative elections.

I guess the only bad news is House Majority Leader David Drier. Rumors are DeLay will be stepping down this afternoon.

*UPDATE* Correction. The bad news is Majority Leader Roy Blunt. Not much of a trade off, there. Though if you've been sitting on a scandal involving Blunt, now's the time to hatch it, no?

Who could forget this one:
House Majority Whip Roy Blunt is coming under fire for trying to help tobacco giant Philip Morris USA in last November's homeland security bill.

Blunt’s ties to the company include large campaign donations from the company - $150,000 since 2001 to committees affiliated with Blunt. His son, Andrew, also works as a lobbyist for Philip Morris back in his home state of Missouri.

The Washington Post reports that just days after he was named to the House's third-highest leadership post, Blunt - who has close personal and political ties to Phillip Morris – tried to slip a pro-tobacco provision into the bill creating the new Department of Homeland Security.

When Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., found out about Blunt’s idea, he immediately yanked it out of the bill. Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex., also said he opposed Blunt’s effort and “worked against it” when he found out about it.

Several Republicans told the Post they felt a pro-tobacco provision had very little support and that Blunt’s actions could have proven “embarrassing” to the party and its new Whip.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

It's a DeLay conspiracy

AP:
A Texas grand jury’s recent interest in conspiracy charges could lead to last-minute criminal indictments — possibly against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay — as it wraps up its investigation Wednesday into DeLay’s state political organization, according to lawyers with knowledge of the case.

Conspiracy counts against two DeLay associates this month raised concerns with DeLay’s lawyers, who fear the chances are greater that the majority leader could be charged with being part of the conspiracy. Before these counts, the investigation was more narrowly focused on the state election code.

By expanding the charges to include conspiracy, prosecutors made it possible for the Travis County grand jury to bring charges against DeLay. Otherwise, the grand jury would have lacked jurisdiction under state laws.

Big oil needs help

Despite record profits and renewed calls for a balanced budget in the face of Katrina and Rita, Congressional Republicans are actually talking about more tax breaks for the oil industry:
Republican leaders in Congress announced plans to introduce new legislation or amend existing measures to bestow more tax breaks on the industry and provide other incentives left out of the big energy bill Bush signed into law in August.

Remember that Exxon made $110 million dollars a day last quarter. And now Congressional Republicans want to give the industry even more tax breaks on top of ones in the latest energy bill.

Sound like a good use of tax dollars to you?

Arnold for sale

Raw Story:
The California Nurses Association is selling California's Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger -- on eBay.

RAW STORY was tipped to the story from an inside source Tuesday afternoon. The eBay auction is now in progress.

View the auction here.

Monday, September 26, 2005

All hat, no cattle

WaPo:
Squeezed between a conservative clamor for spending cuts and the rising cost of hurricane relief, Republican congressional leaders will respond this week with a public relations offensive to win over angry conservatives -- but no substantive changes in budget policy.

Republican lawmakers and leadership aides conceded that the wholesale budget cuts envisioned by House conservatives are not being contemplated; the Senate is moving toward approving a temporary expansion of Medicaid for hurricane survivors, estimated to cost $9 billion. Nor are GOP leaders considering tax increases.

Will conservatives fall in line due to kind words and no action? Who knows.

Stay tuned.

CA businesses stay away from Arnold

Los Angeles Business Journal:
Business supporters of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose approval rating has taken a stunning drop this year, are growing more concerned that he might go the way of Minnesota’s Jesse Ventura and not win re-election.

While Schwarzenegger’s campaign will not begin in earnest for another year – a lifetime in California politics – and there is no dominant opponent in sight, the governor has expended much of the goodwill he quickly accumulated in his first few months in office.

"While no one is counting him out yet, the word I hear most from businesspeople is 'surprise' that he has squandered so much of his political capital and their money," said Republican political strategist Arnold Steinberg. "There is real concern that his inability to steer a steady course could spell disaster next year."

(snip)

"Businesspeople have stayed away in droves from contributing to the initiative fund because they have watched the money raised so far being squandered," said Tony Quinn, a Sacramento-based political analyst who used to consult for business groups and lobbyists.

That not going to make it easy for him to win the special election which will in turn bring down his re-election prospects as well.

Dan Blackburn retires

I know it's not political, but I'm not all politics either.

This is unreal. I remember when Blackburn was touted as the next big thing in net, and I'm sure I'm not the only Ranger fan that was looking forward to many seasons with this guy as our backstop. It's too bad that his career was cut so short at the age of 22.

Best of luck, Danny.

What went wrong

April 1, 2005 September 26, 2005:
CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger reports that Michael Brown, who recently resigned as the head of the FEMA, has been rehired by the agency as a consultant to evaluate it's response following Hurricane Katrina.

I can save them all the trouble right now:
Conclusion: Despite the near heroic efforts of then FEMA Director Mike Brown, local and state ineptitude are the main reasons for the tragedy that befell the residents of New Orleans. That and a total lack of Arabian horses.

Solution: 1) Reappoint Mike Brown to head of FEMA. 2) More Arabian horses for FEMA's utilization. 3) No more natural disasters.

I'm sure Brownie will do a heck of a job.

*UPDATE* Can I say I told you so? Oddly enough, Congress isn't buying it:
"I'm happy you left," said Rep. Christopher Shays (news, bio, voting record), R-Conn. "That kind of look in the lights like a deer tells me you weren't capable of doing that job."

Rep. Gene Taylor (news, bio, voting record), D-Miss., told Brown: "The disconnect was, people thought there was some federal expertise out there. There wasn't. Not from you."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Angelides rips Schwarzenegger initatives

The Mercury News:
The governor claims his special election is urgently needed to bring critical "reforms" to California. But, like President Bush's "No Child Left Behind," "Healthy Forests" and "Clear Skies" initiatives, Schwarzenegger's "Put the Kids First" and "Live Within Our Means" initiatives are dishonestly labeled proposals that do nothing to enrich California's future or prepare our state to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

From the day he took office, Schwarzenegger has consistently tried to force the Bush agenda on California. President Bush and Schwarzenegger both want to privatize retirement security, burden our kids with massive new debt, and restrict our ability to make crucial investments in education and transportation. And the governor's initiatives reflect that shared agenda.

Go read.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Selling Richard Pombo

Don't know who Richard Pombo is? He's the chair of the House Resources Committee which has been given the task of saving $2.5 billion over the next five years. Since Conservatives love to cut spending, Pombo has settled on a way to increase revenue instead: selling drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And in an effort to push this solution, the only alternatives he's come up with are even worse:
In a draft of the budget bill, Pombo offered a list of alternatives that might force even ANWR's most ardent opponents to pick drilling in ANWR instead.

The document proposes selling public park lands in Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas for energy and commercial development. The 15 areas are mostly smaller national parks that honor war heroes or historical sites.

It also proposes raising money by selling advertising on Park Service brochures and maps, seeking commercial sponsors for Park Service auditoriums, museums and trails, and allowing gas and oil leasing on the outer Continental Shelf.

It's almost be worth it to visit Shell Oil Presents Yellowstone National Park if it meant keeping the Arctic Wildlife Refuge intact.

My solution? Sell advertising on Senators and Representatives! They are already beholden to big business cash, so why not put a big Shell Oil symbol on the guys who take major donations from Shell? Rep Pombo has taken a lot of money from ChevronTexaco, so why not get their logo put on his breast pocket? On his back maybe one of his largest donors, the National Auto Dealers Association could have prominent billing.

And not only would it raise revenue, it would also make it easier for voters who watch on CSPAN and CSPAN2 to know which side their representatives are really on. It's a win-win situation!

Heck, you could even grant companies naming rights to key pieces of legislation, so major tax giveaways to big oil could be called the Exxon Welfare Act. The recent overhaul of bankruptcy laws to favor credit companies could be called, depending on cheekiness, the Chase Bank says "Screw you, America" Bill.

See how much fun they could have?

So what do you think, Richard? Can you do your actual job and come up with solutions that will actually benefit the country rather than serve your benevolent masters?

The man behind the curtain

Pay no attention:
President Bush was supposed to land here on Friday afternoon on the first stop of a tour intended to make clear that he was personally overseeing the federal government's preparations for Hurricane Rita's landfall. But the weather did not cooperate.

It was too sunny.

...[a] White House official involved in preparing Mr. Bush's way noted that with the sun shining so brightly in San Antonio, the images of Mr. Bush from here might not have made it clear to viewers that he was dealing with an approaching storm.

I can't believe that a White House staffer would admit to something like this, as it's quite a stunning admission that Bush is image over action and substance. The Bush message machine doesn't hum like it used to.

Big Pharma v. Californians

Guess which side Arnold supports?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hugh leap of faith

I've not read a lot on the whole Michael Steele credit history story that's winding its way through the blogs, but I've read enough to know a specious argument when I see one (emphasis in original):
Don't be fooled into thinking that The Washington Post is being tough with the scandal by running this editorial. The editorial treats the data theft as a stand alone, one-time event --and there is zero reason to believe that it is, or that a senior Schumer staffer acted on her own in deciding to break the law.

There is also zero reason to believe right now that this isn't a "stand alone, one-time event," or that Schumer had any idea that staffers had broken the law.

But partisan Republicans have little care for facts like that. Just as long as they can advance their agenda.

*UPDATE* For example of the other side, look at the warning language of this Captian Ed post (my emphasis):
If the documents prove to be authentic -- and we all know how important it is to verify that -- then Frist has landed himself into a world of trouble.

Clearly if an issue negatively impacts the right, then all steps of verification must take place.

But if it's something that screws the left, well, ample research be damned! Wild speculation full steam ahead!

Beatty! Beatty!

Warren Beatty spoke out against the special election and Arnold himself in his address before the California Nurses Association. You can read the text of the speech here.

And I'll make this prediction right now. If Arnold's initiatives somehow manage to pass, Beatty will throw his hat in the ring and run for Governor.

Where would Californian Republicans be without wishful thinking?

This Human Events article is another sort of the "Arnold's got 'em where he wants 'em" type crap that's been popping up lately. You'd think Assemblyman Chuck DeVore would know better:
Foremost among his assets is his ability to focus the public on issues of his choosing. Last year’s initiative to undo California's "three strikes"” law is a case in point. The soft-on-crime liberal initiative was seen as easily passing, then, at the latest possible moment, the Governor appeared in television ads opposing the initiative and it sank like a rock, losing with the support of only 47.3 percent of the voters.

I think Chuck forgets that at the time of the last special election, Arnold was still a popular figure in California and had the coattails to drag an initiative over the finish line. For whatever reason, people still thought Arnold would be a good Governor rather than the partisan hack he became.

Now, he enjoys no popular support, and his partisanship has gotten him in Bush's boat: strong Republican backing without much crossover appeal from Democrats and Independents. And since only 1/3 of the state is registered Republican, Arnold is barely approaching the starting line with the race almost run.
Gov. Schwarzenegger counts another powerful weapon in his arsenal: his ability to raise funds. On the money front, the Governor announced his intent to invest several million dollars of his own wealth into bolstering passage of his budget, teacher tenure, and redistricting reform initiatives. Whether this also includes supporting the most heated measure on the ballot, Proposition 75, remains to be seen. Regardless, the infusion of earnest money from a Governor backing his own initiatives is sure to open up the wallets of worried or wavering supporters.

Millions of dollars on Arnold's side would be an asset - if the opposition didn't have the same amount of money in their corner. And that last part about Arnold's open pocketbook allowing others to open theirs is a little bit of wishful thinking, as they aren't going to waste their money on initiatives that look doomed to fail unless they see a marked improvement in the polls soon.

If Arnold spending millions doesn't help his numbers, why would anyone want to throw even more money down that hole?
Lastly, Gov. Schwarzenegger'’s opponents should be counted as an asset too. The Democrat-controlled Legislature's approval rating stands about 10 points lower than the Governor's -– and for good reason.

Except Arnold's opponents in the Legislature aren't the ones pushing theinitiativesitatives - and so far they haven't had to be the ones running the opposition. This is a Democrat v. Republican ballot this fall. Instead it's Arnold's unpopular ideas against common sense in California. And this time common sense seems to be winning. And there's no reason to think it will falter come election time.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Not As Good As Last Week edition (here's the idea):
1. Park Avenue - The A Sides
2. Unhinged - Good Goodbyes
3. What Sarah Said - Death Cab For Cutie
4. Banana Pancakes - Jack Johnson
5. Twenty Four Hours - Joy Division
6. Sink So Low - Radio 4
7. Hyperballad - Blanket Music
8. Turnstile Blues - Autolux
9. Of Angels and Angles - The Decemberists
10. Speeding Motorcycle - Yo La Tengo w. Daniel Johnston

Track 11 was another classic, If You See Kay by the Poster Children, which made me run out and buy all their CDs and be thoroughly disappointed by the whole thing. But that song still rules.

So to stir discussion, which band did you hear at one point and think you'd love, only to get the CDs home and find nothing but disappointment and despair?

A little late for that, isn't it?

NY Times (my bold):
"We cannot allow deficit spending to suddenly renew itself and begin increasing out of control," said Senator John E. Sununu, Republican of New Hampshire.

I wonder how Sununu was able to keep a straight face.

Priorities

Salon's War Room rounds up the tough choices lawmakers may have to face to pay for Katrina: tax cuts for the wealthy, or cutting PBS, student loans for grad students, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

My guess? None of it will happen. And if the Republicans do cut this spending, they ride the wave out of Washington come 2006.

Reaching out with a closed fist

Dear Arnold,

If you really are serious about reaching out to Hispanic groups even after you've taken stances against them on a number of issues, try not to come out in support of a group that favors racism and apparently the Nazis, too.

Love,
Scott

MI: Gov, Senate look good

The election is still more than a year away, but Michigan Democrats got good news from EPIC/MRA:
Gov. Jennifer Granholm's job rating this month dipped below 50 percent for the first time since she took office in January 2003, but she still holds a 20-point lead over Republican challenger Dick DeVos.

(snip)

In the U.S. Senate race, Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow of Lansing held even larger leads against her two potential GOP challengers.

Stabenow led the Rev. Keith Butler of Troy 49 percent to 25 percent, with 26 percent undecided. She led Jerry Zandstra, a Cutlerville resident on leave from his jobs as a minister and as program director of a Grand Rapids-area think tank, 50 percent to 22 percent, with 28 percent undecided.

It's especially nice to see Stabenow close to or at the 50% threshold in her re-election bid.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Arnold to Bush: Stay away from California

SF Chronicle:
National party officials say Schwarzenegger appears to be keeping the president at arm's length while Bush is unpopular in California. But the governor's staff and state Republicans have made it clear to the White House that "the timing couldn't be worse," said one high-level state Republican who spoke on condition of anonymity.

With Schwarzenegger under pressure to raise millions of dollars to boost his special election measures, Republicans said donors in the state -- widely acknowledged as the cash machine of national politics -- are being maxed out.

"There's donor fatigue," said Thomas Del Beccaro, chairman of the Contra Costa County Republican Party and head of the county GOP chairmen's group. Del Beccaro noted that those who have given generously to Republican causes have faced a flurry of elections since 2003 -- the recall that brought Schwarzenegger to power, last year's presidential election and now the special election.

Katrina, Rita, and footing the bill

NOAA updates its hurricane forecast. It ain't pretty:
Even though there has already been considerable early season activity (7 tropical storms, with two becoming major hurricanes), most of the activity is still expected to occur during the climatological peak months of August-October. Many of the storms during this period will develop from disturbances moving westward from the west coast of Africa, and will likely form over the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea in the region between 9°N-21.5°N (black box). Historically, tropical storms that first form in these areas account for 55% of all hurricanes and 80% of all major hurricanes. They also account for nearly the entire difference in hurricanes and major hurricanes between above-normal and below-normal hurricane seasons.

Tropical storms that form over the tropical Atlantic Ocean generally track westward toward the Caribbean Islands and/or United States as they strengthen into hurricanes, and therefore pose an increased threat to these regions. Historically, seasons with above-normal levels of overall activity have averaged 2-3 U.S. hurricane landfalls and 1-2 landfalls in the region around the Caribbean Sea during August-November.

That means 2-3 more hurricanes will hit the United States, not including Rita's eventual landfall.

The news today interspersed storied about Rita with trying to find money to pay for Katrina. I couldn't help but wonder why no one asked the obvious question: How will we pay for the damage that Rita does? And if two more major storms hit the United States (the optimistic view) how will we pay for that as well?

Cutting spending simply won't be enough. If you think things run poorly now, imagine agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA with even less money to function with. It's not pretty.

Revenue will have to be raised. Bush will have to sacrifice his tax cuts for the greater good, and he could be seen as a hero by the general public even if conservatives grow to hate him. But it will never happen, and whoever wins in 2008 will have a massive debt to clean up and not much leeway to do it with.

Finally, a place to spend those $2000 FEMA gift cards

WaPo:
National gambling companies -- already rushing to rebuild casinos on the Gulf Coast -- would be granted access to millions of dollars in tax breaks under President Bush's plan to entice businesses into the Katrina disaster zone.

In a break from previous Gulf Coast economic development practices, White House officials said they do not plan to exclude the gambling industry from huge tax write-offs for investment in equipment and structures in the president's proposed Gulf Opportunity Zone. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) endorsed that policy yesterday, saying, "They should be treated like any other business. That's the way we do it in Mississippi."

But economic development officials in the state say Mississippi does not do it that way. The gambling industry largely has been excluded by statute from economic development incentives, said Brian Richard, former director of research at the Mississippi Gaming Association and an economic development expert at the University of Southern Mississippi. Until recently, the casinos even were prohibited from conducting employee training on state property, said Bill Crawford, deputy director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

"The casinos don't need this," said William F. Shughart II, an economist at the University of Mississippi. "If they are [eligible], that would be a complete waste of money."

British withdraw withdrawal plans

Didn't see much on this, but it is perhaps more telling about the situation in Iraq than stories of car bombings and assassinations:
However, a plan for British troops to hand over to local control two of Iraq's four southern provinces next month, and the remaining two in April next year, have been abandoned, according to defence sources. That would have left just 3,000 British troops in the country and saved about £500m.

The plan was described in a secret minute sent by Mr Reid to his cabinet colleagues last July as a "clear UK military aspiration". Sources close to Mr Reid were eager to point out yesterday that he had also said in his minute that the plan had not been "ministerially endorsed".

British military commanders are despondent about the lack of any prospect of a significant cutback in the number of British troops in Iraq for the forseeable future.

The British, unwilling to set a timetable that would aid our enemies, still had a plan to withdrawl some troops from Iraq. Now that plan has been completely scrapped with no hope of being revived in sight.

Why do I find this so telling? Well, it's clear that things aren't improving at the rate some were hoping it would, and that the goalposts are nowhere in sight. And even worse, there is no way to know if we can even reach those goalposts at this point either.

Iraq is clearly not ready for us to leave. The question is will it ever be?

*UPDATE* Of course, after this post comes this article from the Washington Post suggesting that Iraqi troops are getting better every day. The article does note that we still provide a huge amount of logistical support, and that the Iraqi troops may not have the full support of their countrymen:
Most of the forces "are from the Badr Organization and the pesh merga ," said Ibrahim Khalil, 20, one of about 4,000 Tall Afar residents, almost all of them Sunnis, living in a makeshift camp established by the Iraqi Red Crescent outside the city. He was referring to the country's predominant Shiite and Kurdish militias, respectfully.

"They wear the military uniform for disguise," he continued. "Their treatment is very bad. They were taking people to detention prisons just because they are Sunnis since the start of the military campaign."

The Iraqi soldiers from the pesh merga, which for many years was targeted by the Sunni-led army of former president Saddam Hussein and has long supported Kurdish forces fighting the Turkish government, spoke openly of their zeal to fight Tall Afar's Sunni Turkmen-led insurgency, according to U.S. soldiers who worked closely with them. Meanwhile, U.S. commanders grounded the mostly Shiite police commandos a few days into the operation, alleging overly aggressive tactics.

"The Iraqi army are the real terrorists. Even what they write on our walls is evidence, like 'Long live pesh merga' or 'Long live Badr,' " said Adnan Hussein, 39, who moved with his family to the camp for displaced residents. "They enter our houses and turn everything upside down. They scare our children."

Toxins!

Why on earth would you do such a thing?
The government wants to quit forcing companies to report small releases of toxic pollutants and allow them to submit reports on their pollution less frequently.

Saying it wants to ease its regulatory burden on companies, the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday proposed adopting a "short form" that would excuse companies from disclosing spills and other releases of toxic substances if:

-They claim to release fewer than 5,000 pounds of a specific chemical. The current limit is 500 pounds.

-They store onsite but claim to release "zero" amounts of the worst pollutants, such as mercury, DDT and PCBs, that persist in the environment and work up the food chain. However, they must report if they have stored dioxin or dioxin-like compounds, even if none is released.

EPA said it also plans to ask Congress for permission to require the accounting every other year instead of annually. The EPA's annual Toxics Release Inventory began under a 1986 community right-to-know law. The first year the change could be possible, if Congress agreed, would be 2008.

Who in the world, other than major chemical companies, would think this is a good way to protect the environment?

Clearly the answer in the Bush administration's EPA.

By the way, it's not like these places were overwhelmed with paperwork:
Some big chemical companies said complying with the annual toxic inventory is not a problem for them.

"We are so in compliance it's not funny," Andrew Liveris, president of The Dow Chemical Company, told the AP. "We've adjusted to it many years ago."

Good timing

WaPo:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a potential presidential candidate in 2008, sold all his stock in his family's hospital corporation about two weeks before it issued a disappointing earnings report and the price fell nearly 15 percent.

Frist held an undisclosed amount of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, based in Nashville, the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. On June 13, he instructed the trustee managing the assets to sell his HCA shares and those of his wife and children, said Amy Call, a spokeswoman for Frist.

Frist's shares were sold by July 1 and those of his wife and children by July 8, Call said.

I bet I could get sound stock advice from a company my family owned, too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bush appoints Katrina investigation head

Bush appoints a woman who claims that the war in Iraq is preventing us from getting hit by a London style train bombing even though British troops are also in Iraq to lead his Katrina investigation.

She's also the one who went to Abu Ghraib for the administration but didn't ask a single question about interrogation tactics.

Sounds like a winner to me.

*UPDATE* Others agree, though for different reasons:
President Bush's choice of Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend to handle the Administration's internal inquiry into its flawed handling of Hurricane Katrina has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill. "Anyone who has basically had responsibilities to respond to this should not be the folks looking at it, in my judgment," Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut, a senior Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security, told TIME. Though Townsend is "a tough lady," Shays said, "I don't think she can be objective because, frankly, I would want to know what was she doing in that time, before the storm, during the storm, after the storm. She is going to be one of the people that, in a sense, is being investigated. So I'm not sure that she's the logical choice."

Democrats, who have demanded an independent probe along the lines of the 9/11 Commission and have rejected the principle of an internal inquiry into Katrina failures, went even further: "There is a huge conflict of interest here," said Rebecca Kirszner, communications director for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "As the President's homeland security adviser, Townsend certainly was part of the Administration's response to Katrina."

Survey USA: The governors

Find your Governor and their latest Survery USA numbers here.

Mine's not doing so hot. And I'm alright with that.

The buses of New Orleans

Why didn't Blanco use them?

FEMA told her no.

Another meme killed.

Traitor!

John Podhoretz gets a taste of Bush supporters medicine.

He doesn't seem to like it.

Reid to oppose Roberts

There wasn't much doubt in the first place that John Roberts would be approved by the Republican lead Senate. But I agree with Harry Reid's decision to vote against the guy.

Clearly Roberts is not a guy that Democrats are going to support. And if you don't support something, there's no real reason to vote for it. Voting for the guy could even embolden Bush to pick an even harder conservative to the bench next time. After all, if Democrats are just going to vote for guys they oppose ideologically anyway, why not pick the worst guy ever?

Reid's position will appeal to the Democratic voters while distancing the party from unpopular decisions that Roberts may make in the future. Meanwhile they aren't the "obstructionists" that Republicans will try and paint them as because Roberts still made it through.

It's sound political strategy regardless of what anyone says. And hopefully Reid can pull most of the Democratic Senators to his side.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Governor Beatty?

This will certainly help fuel speculation a bit.

What would Wolf say?

Blitzer on the Situation Room, Sept 12th, 2005:
BLITZER: President Bush's stepped-up response to the Katrina disaster may be helping to push up his poll numbers a little bit. A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey out this hour shows Mr. Bush's approval rating is up -- up! -- to 46 percent. That's four to eight points higher than other polls taken over the past week.

CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Sept 19, 2005:
President Bush's vow to rebuild the Gulf Coast did little to help his standing with the public, only 40 percent of whom now approve of his performance in office, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

Just 41 percent of the 818 adults polled between Friday and Monday said they approved of Bush's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, while 57 percent disapproved.

And support for his management of the war in Iraq has dropped to 32 percent, with 67 percent telling pollsters they disapproved of how Bush is prosecuting the conflict.

Back in time

Why do I get the feeling that if John Kerry had been giving speeches like this before he ran for President - before he even thought of campaigning that is - that we might have a Massachusettes Senator in the White House right now?

Here's an excerpt:
Today, let’s you and I acknowledge what’s really going on in this country. The truth is that this week, as a result of Katrina, many children languishing in shelters are getting vaccinations for the first time. Thousands of adults are seeing a doctor after going without a check-up for years. Illnesses lingering long before Katrina will be treated by a healthcare system that just weeks ago was indifferent, and will soon be indifferent again.

For the rest of the year this nation silently tolerates the injustice of 11 million children and over 30 million adults in desperate need of healthcare. We tolerate a chasm of race and class some would rather pretend does not exist. And ironically, right in the middle of this crisis the Administration quietly admitted that since they took office, six million of our fellow citizens have fallen into poverty. That’s over ten times the evacuated population of New Orleans. Their plight is no less tragic - no less worthy of our compassion and attention. We must demand something simple and humane: healthcare for all those in need - in all years at all times.

This is the real test of Katrina. Will we be satisfied to only do the immediate: care for the victims and rebuild the city? Or will we be inspired to tackle the incompetence that left us so unprepared, and the societal injustice that left so many of the least fortunate waiting and praying on those rooftops?

That’s the unmet challenge we have to face together. Katrina is the background of a new picture we must paint of America. For five years our nation's leaders have painted a picture of America where ignoring the poor has no consequences; no nations are catching up to us; and no pensions are destroyed. Every criticism is rendered unpatriotic. And if you say “War on Terror” enough times, Katrina never happens.

Well, Katrina did happen, and it washed away that coat of paint and revealed the true canvas of America with all its imperfections. Now, we must stop this Administration from again whitewashing the true state of our challenges. We have to paint our own picture - an honest picture with all the optimism we deserve - one that gives people a vision where no one is excluded or ignored. Where leaders are honest about the challenges we face as a nation, and never reserve compassion only for disasters.

White conservatives aren't black Americans

Instapundit links with an article that points out that more black Americans support the massive rebuilding spending than white Americans do, and think this is a sign of Rovian genius.

However, let's come at it from another angle:
The spending plan has not been well received by conservative voters--just 43% favor the huge federal commitment partisan while 37% are opposed. This is especially striking given how supportive the President's base has remained throughout his Administration.

The President's reconstruction plan is favored by 66% of liberal voters. Still, only 10% of liberals give the President a good or an excellent rating for handling the crisis.

Call me crazy, but most blacks fall would fall into the supportive liberal category than the unsupportive conservative one (Remember Bush garnered a whopping 10% of the black American vote coupled with 85% of conservatives overall.

So while it's true that more black Americans support rebuilding spending, it's more because they aren't white conservatives than a new ideological alignment with the President.

In other words, Instapundit's hmmm doesn't mean a thing.

Why do I go there, anyway?

Newsbusters. It's the only place where finding people critical of the President's speech and being unable to find people critical of the President's speech are both signs of a liberal media bias.

Commission on Federal Election Reform

I have no real issue with the recommendations of the Commission of Federal Election Reform, but it would be interesting to see the effect of rotating regional primaries on the outcomes of Presidential elections. Would a Democrat who gains momentum with big wins in the Northeast really be the best candidate to win nationwide? A Republican who wins the South first is more likely to be harder conservative and therefore a harder sell to the electorate overall.

Because of this, I imagine these solutions won't go anywhere. There's too much invested in politics these days for either party to put themselves at such a nationwide disadvantage.

A little surprising as well is Carter and Baker agreed that ID should be shown before voting, as long as free IDs are given to those to poor to vote. In a perfect world this is a good idea, but it will instead, I think, serve to disenfranchise the poorer voters who become unaware an ID is required or are to proud to admit they need a free ID. They are probably less likely to know where to go to score new voter ID cards as well.

Like I said, I doubt we'll see much action on these reforms in the future.

*UPDATE* Congressman John Conyers:
The simple fact is that many minority and poor voters do not have the time, money or need to purchase a drivers license. In fact, over ten percent of eligible voters in the last election did not have a photo ID. They vote by presenting other means of identification (a voter registration card, utility bill, or affidavit). This Commission is now asking Congress to deny the franchise to those voters unless they get a national ID card. The Commission makes the implausible claim that, in these times of a multibillion dollar war in Iraq and multibillion dollar restoration of the Gulf Coast, the Congress will pay for ID cards for those who cannot afford to buy them. We know this is not going to happen.

I'm not sure why exactly this "isn't going to happen." I think the Congressman would be better off arguing the availability of these cards in poor neighborhoods would be limited and transportation for the poor could be non existent. Those working hard to put food on their table probably won't have a day off to run down to the local ID place and get his taken care of, either.

For example, Georgia is trying to enact a state version of this idea. The New York Times, much like Conyers, is against it. One of the more compelling argument the Times made:
The cards are sold in 58 locations, in a state with 159 counties. It is outrageous that Atlanta does not have a single location.

Georgia is about 58,000 square miles. That's a location every 1000 square miles. Atlanta has around 425,000 residents. And none of them have easy access to acquire a voter idea.

Democracy must be made available to everyone freely, not just those who know where to go or have the means to do so. And that becomes the limit of requiring picture ID cards to vote.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Asbestos

Reuters:
A $140 billion asbestos compensation fund being considered in the U.S. Senate would be swamped by more than double that amount in claims and go broke within three years, according to a study released on Monday.

The proposed fund would face claims of between $301 billion and $561 billion, as people with lung and other cancers, who historically had not been compensated by asbestos lawsuits, file for their new entitlements, the study said.

The analysis was done by Bates White, a Washington D.C. economic consulting firm, at the request of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an association of conservative state lawmakers.

Remember this is a bill that the President wants passed because in his eyes it will help end "junk lawsuits."
Apparently that's true, but it will also end just compensation for damage from asbestos in another three years as well.

Compassion at its finest.

The big stink over nothing

I can't believe how far Bush supporters will go, even to try and defend him from a childish picture that was newsworthy for the blogs for about ten minutes.

I'll bet if Bush put on the white Nikes and had everyone prepare for boarding the mothership, these guys would be first in line to lace 'em up.

On cutting taxes and Katrina

I'm sure I'm not the first to point out that when it came to cutting taxes for the wealthy, Republicans had no problem overlooking a balanced budget. And of course now that the Katrina price tag looks like it will top $200 billion, mostly for poor black people, Republicans are balking at picking up the tab.

Apart from the crassness of it all, does that mean if future tax cuts can't be justified with offset spending cuts, that Bush and Congressional Republicans won't be supporting them either?

State of evacuation

Is it just me, or in light of Katrina are we seeing more states declaring mandatory evacuations to be on the safe side?

Florida won't be hit by Rita for at least a couple of days, and even then it's only expected to be a Category One Hurricane.

I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I'm just wondering if Governors are quicker to pull the trigger in the face of the disaster that was Katrina.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Arnold publicly endorses union hating initiative

I figured this was a matter of time as Arnold hopes to buoy himself with something even mildly popular on the fall initiative ballot:
Turning up the heat in his ongoing battle with public employee unions, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger officially endorsed a ballot measure Saturday that would require those unions to seek written permission from members before using dues money for political purposes.

Democrats, the principal beneficiaries of labor union contributions, have viewed the measure as a virtual declaration of war on their political power in the state.

Addressing an enthusiastic luncheon crowd at the state Republican Party convention, Schwarzenegger announced his support for the measure dubbed "Paycheck Protection," which will appear on the ballot as Proposition 75. The initiative was placed on the ballot and funded by close advisers of the governor but had not formally been part of his "year of reform" agenda until Saturday's endorsement.

Others in the state see the opposite effect:
"We're glad he's endorsing it, he'll be able to drag that one down like the other ones," [Democratic strategist Roger] Salazar said. The voters are getting tired of his act. All they see from this guy is theatrics, photo ops, and they haven't seen anything of substance. None of these issues deal with real substantive reform."

If union members have a problem with the way their money is being spent, then they should take it up with the union leaders and work for reform from within. The last time I checked, unions still operated on a majority rule of it's members. Why it should be up to non union members to suggest what be done with their money is beyond me.

And, of course, if current union members don't want their money spent on political campaigns, they can already opt out of it. So the only thing being served by this initiative is Republican wishes and Arnold's dislike for unions.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Scientists: We may be screwed

If this is true, I guess the Kyoto treaty isn't going to do anything:
A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.

The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.

Unnecessary linkage

I must say I'm a little confused. Via Kevin, there are bloggers who suggest that Bush's call for massive spending with no matching reduction in other expenditures, which would ratchet up the budget deficit even higher is the "Democrat" thing to do.

Maybe I'm misreading what they are trying to say. And Kevin's own postscript suggests it's just smoke and mirrors for the administration to try all the crazy conservative things they'd love to do but never be able to get away with without a major disaster to use for political cover (see Act, Patriot).

But my problem is not whether or not Bush will follow a Democratic or Republican line of thought (there's little reason to trust the guy until he earns it back, right?), but instead the idea that massive spending with no offset is a Democratic thing to do.

As best I remember, the last time a balanced budget was signed, it was by a Democrat in the White House. Reagan almost pioneered high deficit spending, and Bush's father wasn't much better. It would seem instead that massive spending with no eye for the bottom line would be a very Republican thing to do.

If this is just an attempt to link the Democrats and the concept of spending on the relief effort, I guess it might work. And no one other than a select few bloggers are really going to run with this idea for much longer. But to me, painting the Democrats are the party of fiscal irresponsibility seems like a bad thing to do. Because I would hate for the phrase "spending like a Democrat" to gain voice in the media and take on negative connotations.

FEMA stil Fubar?

The New York Times makes it sound like reports of the latest FEMA success have been highly overrated, or at the least soley devoted to those high profile areas where the media hang out:
Nearly three weeks after Hurricane Katrina cut its devastating path, FEMA - the same federal agency that botched the rescue mission - is faltering in its effort to aid hundreds of thousands of storm victims, local officials, evacuees and top federal relief officials say. The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day.

Federal officials are often unable to give local governments permission to proceed with fundamental tasks to get their towns running again. Most areas in the region still lack federal help centers, the one-stop shopping sites for residents in need of aid for their homes or families. Officials say that they are uncertain whether they can meet the president's goal of providing housing for 100,000 people who are now in shelters by the middle of next month.

While the agency has redoubled its efforts to get food, money and temporary shelter to the storm victims, serious problems remain throughout the affected region. Visits to several towns in Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as interviews with dozens of local and federal officials, provide a portrait of a fragmented and dysfunctional system.

(snip)

The president of St. Tammany Parish, Kevin Davis, is praying that it does not rain in his sweltering corner of Louisiana, because three weeks after the storm severely damaged his drainage system, FEMA has yet to give him approval to even start the repairs.

Up north in the poor parish of Washington, residents are sleeping in houses that were chopped in half by oak trees. The promised wave of government inspectors have not shown up to assist them.

James McGehee, the mayor of Bogalusa, a small Louisiana city near the Mississippi border, could barely contain his rage in an interview on Thursday.

"Today is 18 days past the storm, and FEMA has not even put a location for people who are displaced," he said. "They are walking around the damn streets. The system's broke."

VW to add MP3 connections

Very non political, but very, very sweet:
Volkswagen, Europe's biggest automaker, is thus making the USB connection an option on its Golf, Golf Plus and Touran models in December and on remaining models next year.

Just plug your device into a built-in console in the center armrest. The option comes in two varieties, one for the iPod, another for other USB-based players. Up to six of the player's folders will be displayed on the car stereo system, and the radio buttons can be used to scan, search or shuffle your mix.

The setup will cost $240.

Arnold surprises no one

Arnold announces today that he's the running man:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the surprise of almost no one, declared today that he would seek re-election as governor of California in November 2006.

The announcement came at the end of a town hall-style meeting here, after a carefully screened crowd lobbed softball questions at him about his efforts to revamp California's schools and budget process. No one, however, asked him about his plans for next year, when his term expires, even though his appearance had been promoted as the forum for announcing his re-election plans. So he asked himself if he would run.

"Of course I'm going to finish the job," he responded. "I'm a follow-through guy."

"I'm not in there for three years," Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, added. "I'm in there for seven years. Yes, I will run again." The crowd inside the auditorium applauded, as protesters outside chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, Schwarzenegger's got to go."

And so far the crowds outside are much louder than those inside.

But the Times makes this sound like a totally bungled re-election announcement. You'd think they'd have one of those "softball throwers" ask him something simple, like "How can we expect you to follow through in Sacramento when you haven't announced you'll run again?" or something to that effect. I guess this is more Arnold "political savvy - having to ask yourself a question to which most of the state probably doesn't care about the answer.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Friday Random Ten

I'm So Tired I Can't Think Enough to Blog edition (idea here):
1. Under the Milky Way (El Momento Descuidado version) - The Church
2. I'm Down - Sarah White
3. Island of the Honest Man - Hot Hot Heat
4. Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf Mix) - The Pixies
5. Out of Zone - Marbles
6. Martinis on the Roof - Superchunk
7. See What my Buddy Down - R.L. Burnside (may he rest in peace)
8. The Tigers Have Spoken - Neko Case
9. Jenny and the Ess Dog - Stephen Malkmus
10. These Are the Fables - The New Pornographers

That's it. I'm done for the night. Twelve hours of work can really drain you.

When does it end?

AP:
Two suicide car bombers struck within a minute of each other just a half mile apart in south Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least seven policemen and raising the day’s bombing death toll in the capital to at least 31, police said.

Earlier Thursday, a suicide car bombing killed 16 policemen and five civilians in the same neighborhood, signaling a new round of violence one day after residents suffered through Baghdad’s bloodiest day of the war.

More (minor) woes for Arnold

Doesn't sound like members of The American Conservative Union are all that thrilled with Arnold, either. Here's an excerpt from their statement:
Free market conservatives are disappointed that Gov. Schwarzenegger, a champion of personal responsibility, would participate in such politically- correct silliness. With the many social and economic problems facing California, soda pop in the school cafeteria should be the least of their worries.

It is little wonder that California public schools continue to fail in meeting the academic needs of their students when the legislature and the governor are spending their time imposing trivial regulations on school vending machines.

People just like to pile on a guy while he's down, don't they?

This, of course, presents the big problem for Arnold in California. Things he could do that would be popular in the state more than likely not won't appeal to his base. Meanwhile, things that appeal to his base aren't going to win over the rest of us voters.

If Arnold can find a way out of this mess, he deserves all the credit he will get.

The Bush speech

While others are fact checking it, my initial reaction was pretty blah. I can't say this inspired me to great things, and while talking heads seemed to like what Bush had to offer, Rita Cosby on MSNBC noted that those standing around her who were affected by the storm were skeptical at best.

I couldn't help but think to myself that the same guy who has screwed up Iraq is now in charge of New Orleans. It did not make me feel good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

This seems highly unecessary

I'm not sure why we need to pile on the President when he needs a break in the Security Council so he can use the restroom.

This seems a little childish, no?

When I read things like this, my brain hurts

Bruce Walker at Men's News Daily writes :
And then there is another dimension to the Governor, one that becomes increasingly apparent as he governs. Arnold is very shrewd. He has political savvy, but more importantly, he knows how to hide that savvy, much like another Republican chief executive.

What the hell does this mean? Arnold has political savvy that he likes to hide from view for what purpose? Clearly the savviest thing to do was campaign for Governor by claiming you won't be fundraising all the time and then go out and fundraise everywhere. Calling nurses little more than a special interest group who's butts you're gonna kick was politically savvy. This, of course, was savvy gold for Arnold. Calling for a highly unpopular $40 million dollar special election is political savvy. Screwing teachers out of a $2 billion dollar promise... oh, you get the idea.

More Bruce:
As one example, the multiple initiative reforms which he has supported all have to do with reforming education or ending gerrymandering. These all may lose, but that will not damage the Governor at all: he is taking a clear position of change on issues that most Californians feel need to be changed, and, moreover, he is willing to be courageous in championing real change. While Democrats will doubtless pile on after those particular initiatives fail in November, the hangover for Democrats will be dreadful. Having opposed everything and supported nothing, they will be perceived as simply Sacramento polls.

Arnold is taking a clear position, yes, but it's clear that these positions are unpopular ones, and I would hardly call lengthening the time it takes teacher's to gain tenure a real education reform or something that Californians have been clamoring needs change.

By the way, if most Californians feel these issues need to be changed, wouldn't Arnold's initiatives to change them be doing a whole lot better?
His veto of same sex marriages on the grounds that the people of California cannot be trumped by the California Legislature both appeals to those who resent the insider game of Sacramento politics, but also it will quietly win over more enthusiastic support from social conservatives who, based upon the initiative squarely on this issue, constitute a huge though silent majority of Californians.

Except that's not true. Both the left and the right are upset with Arnold's veto on the same sex marriage bill for one reason or another. And while there was a "huge silent majority" (so silent, they all came out to vote, apparently) against same sex marriage in 2000 when Prop 22 passed, Californian's are now evenly split on the idea.

Bruce:
And now he has vetoed a bill by the Legislature which would have allowed illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses. Conventional political wisdom is that this will offend Hispanic voters, but Governor Richardson, himself and Hispanic in New Mexico, obviously does not think so.

Does anyone proofread columns at Men's News Daily? Seriously?

This is one position that Arnold has taken that could be a popular one, even though he has claimed in the past that he would pass a bill similar to the one offered to him this year.
What Leftists in Hollywood and Manhattan do not grasp is that illegal immigrants take jobs away from legal immigrants and from Hispanic-Americans working their way up the economic ladder. Illegal immigration is scandalous and everyone knows it. What will the Democrat nominee say in 2006 about the veto of a bill which would allow illegal immigrants to get California driver's licenses? Will Westly or Angelides actually support illegal immigrants getting driver's licenses? No.

And what Bruce Walker doesn't seem to realize is that the jobs that these illegal immigrants take are the worst of the lot, jobs that no one who is legally here would do for the rate of pay illegals get. Farmers are already discussing the impact of paying minimum wage to workers in the fields and the effect that would have on prices for produce to the consumer. And even at minimum wage there's no guarantee that people will want to labor in the fields like they do.

And why does Bruce say that illegal immigrants are taking away jobs only from other Hispanics? If these jobs are so awesome, wouldn't everyone want to take them?

I'm not arguing that I'm in favor of illegal immigration or paying them pennies a day, by the way. But the impact will be far reaching and one that those who demonize immigrants won't want to bring up.
The impulse to hurt political competitors, the need to obstruct reform, and the itch to fight like savages to preserve "“the system" plagues Democrats in California as much as it plagues Democrats nationally. Much of the problem is simply bigness.

Democrats actually tried to negotiate with Arnold on all the issues appearing on the initiative ballot this fall. They disagreed with the special election itself because these are all issues that may have waited until next year and saved a cash strapped state another $40 million dollars.

But it's not just Democrats who oppose the "gerrymandering" initiative, either:
Lawmakers of both parties, meanwhile, have expressed reservations about the redistricting initiative, which could jeopardize the safe seats of many incumbents. Two U.S. House members -— Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, and Howard Berman, D-North Hollywood -— won a ruling from the Federal Election Commission allowing members of Congress to spend unlimited sums to oppose Proposition 77.

Those Republicans will have to run for their seats again, too. Will they face the same backlash the Democrats supposedly will?

I hate to break Bruce's bubble here, but Arnold is a wildly unpopular governor who so far has done little to boost his stature with the public and is now facing an uphill battle to save face. The only thing he has going for him is a couple of lesser known Democrats are the only two guys to throw their hat into the race. A friendly campaign between them could quite possibly boost both positives and stature for whichever man eventually comes out on top. And that's Arnold's worst case scenario.

Game on!

Yea!

150 dead in Iraq

I'm beginning to think that the Bush administration won't offer up a timetable out of Iraq not because it will aid the terrorists, but that they really have no frickin' clue as to when things on the ground will be safe enough for us to go.

This is the thing we are supposed to be protecting the people against, remember:
Insurgents launched more than a dozen suicide bombings, assassinations and execution-style killings in Iraq on Wednesday, killing at least 151 people and wounding more than 300.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group led by militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, apparently has said it is responsible, saying the attacks are in retaliation for the U.S.-Iraqi offensive in the northern city of Tal Afar. U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the operation last month to root out insurgents in the border city near Syria.

Jumping ship

AP:
A key supporter of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's redistricting measure is forming an independent, nonpartisan campaign supporting Proposition 77 — largely over fears the measure will fail if tied directly to Schwarzenegger's other Republican-backed ballot initiatives.

Bill Mundell, a Southern California businessman who donated more than $300,000 to help qualify the redistricting measure for the ballot, said Tuesday his new group would operate separately from the governor's California Recovery Team in support of the initiative.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sensitive James Sensenbrenner

No one will ever call him that, for sure:
The chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee said on Tuesday he had no intention of reopening a sweeping bankruptcy law passed by Congress earlier this year, despite proposals to exempt Hurricane Katrina victims from some of its provisions.

The new, more stringent bankruptcy law will not harm people left "down and out" by the storm, Wisconsin Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner said.

He said he would not hold a hearing in his committee on a bill by the panel's ranking Democrat, Michigan Rep. John Conyers, and 31 other Democrats who want to exempt Hurricane Katrina victims from parts of the new bankruptcy law. A chairman's decision not to hold a hearing usually prevents a House bill form advancing.

Sensenbrenner argues that those affected by the hurricane won't reach the 40% threshold established by the new bill and therefore will allow those who lost everything to file Chapter 7 anyway.

Which is awesome if there weren't future ramifications for filing Chapter 7. But there is. It makes it harder to get credit cards and home loans at a reasonable rate. It negatively affects credit score. It will, in fact, cause further undue financial hardship on people who lost everything in this storm.

But what does James Sensenbrenner care? He's not affected by the storm, and I doubt he's hurting for money any time soon. So let all those who made timely payments now suffer under the black thumb of bankruptcy for the next seven years because their home, their assets, and their job have been wiped out by an act of nature.

sensitive James Sensenbrenner is not.

When the GOP lost a city

If Republicans want to be remembered as the party that destroyed New Orleans, they can go right ahead and do it. I'm sure the political damage they would face from losing an enitre city on their watch will be felt for years to come. Republicans can't afford not to rebuild the place. Not in the politics of the country today.

By the way, there are any number of reasons for rebuilding. And if Bish and co. need some pointers on how to protect the city perhaps they could ask these guys for help.

Money makes up for emissions

Shameful.

There are a number of plants that already meet minimum emission standards, and the people who live in the surrounding areas are thankfully safer. But for those plants that don't meet these requirements, they can now buy credits off of other plants and continue to pollute. This means that those who live around these heavily polluting plants will continue to get high doses of emissions in their air, causing asthma and other health problems.

But hey, screw 'em, right? I mean, they can all afford to move if they aren't happy right? Same way all those people in New Orleans could just pack up and leave before the hurricane. And I have a feeling that some of the highest pollution rates will end up affecting some of the poorest neighborhoods.

Maybe it should be George Bush and the EPA don't care about poor people.

President admits four years of failure

I can't believe it:
"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government and to the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said during a joint news conference with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Bush said he wants to know what went right and what went wrong so that he can determine whether the United States was prepared for another storm, or an attack.

Predictably Bush went to the 9/11 well there, hoping that some of that magic could rub off on him and boost his ratings. But, if anything, his weak response to the more recent tragedy will tarnish memories of what he did post attack.

I still argue that Bush's main problem responding to Katrina is that there was no one to attack. He can't demonize the weather, or declare that we are going to wipe out all hurricanes before they get us. He was left in a position where leadership would spoke louder than bravado, and it turns out he had nothing to say.

Bush admitting failure is an interesting first step on his road to recovery. Maybe he will realize the demonization of those who oppose him and the "swiftboating" of those who stand up to him is wrong as well. I'm not holding my breath, however.

*UPDATE* E.J. Dionne agrees. He calls it the "End of the Bush Era":
If Bush had understood that his central task was to forge national unity, as he seemed to shortly after Sept. 11, the country would never have become so polarized. Instead, Bush put patriotism to the service of narrowly ideological policies and an extreme partisanship. He pushed for more tax cuts for his wealthiest supporters and shamelessly used relatively modest details in the bill creating a Department of Homeland Security as partisan cudgels in the 2002 elections.

He invoked our national anger over terrorism to win support for a war in Iraq. But he failed to pay heed to those who warned that the United States would need many more troops and careful planning to see the job through. The president assumed things would turn out fine, on the basis of wildly optimistic assumptions. Careful policymaking and thinking through potential flaws in your approach are not his administration's strong suits.

(snip)

The source of Bush's political success was his claim that he could protect Americans. Leadership, strength and security were Bush's calling cards. Over the past two weeks, they were lost in the surging waters of New Orleans.

Monday, September 12, 2005

What the Schwarzenegger-?

Arnold's gone a little off the deep end:
He took aim, especially, at the public employee unions he has feuded with all year.

"I'm talking about the union bosses now that want to control and want to drive our taxes up," he said.

"It is unfair to treat those public employees much better than they treat you and then you have to pay the taxes and foot the bill."

Union bosses want to drive up your taxes? Public employees want to be treated better than they treat you? If he were the President, he'd just come out and say Al Qaeda has formed a union of their own, and we must stop all unions before they spread.

I'm not sure what Arnold has seen from the unions that suggest they want to raise your taxes. And, of course, they don't have the power to do it in the first place. But reality doesn't seem to matter when you're down in the polls and looking for a way back up. You just have to pin the blame on someone else and hope for the best. And that's just what Arnold is trying to do.

GOP to renew Social Security privatization

Here comes round 2.

Aside from starving black people for five days, what's the problem?

So The Astute Blogger seems to argue:
In fact, if you subtract the horrifying images of the Superdome and Convention Center from the "newsreels" (and your memories) there was next-to-nothing wrong with the federal response (or the federal, state and local responses in Mississippi and Alabama, whose coasts were savaged more completely by Katrina than was the city of New Orleans). And when considers the FACT that the Superdome and Convention Center debacles were strictly the result of local and state government incompetence, it means that there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with the federal response. PERIOD.

Clearly the "incompetence" he refers to is relying on the federal government to actual pay attention to what goes on in a city run by a Democratic Mayor in a state run by a Democratic Governor that isn't somehow related to him.

Argue what you want, but there was a poor federal response to this disaster. And to argue that more people died in such and such, so this wasn't as bad is kinda ludicrous. It's tragic for every single person who lost their life needlessly, and it's tragic for every relative of someone who died needlessly. To argue otherwise is just to apologize for the feds poor response.