Saturday, January 31, 2009

Republicans Can't Understand Why Obama Doesn't Adopt Their Program Of Failure and Ruin


Michael Steele promises to be GOP's connection to average Americans and, apparently, below average ones too

One of the worst of the Inside-the-Beltway political journo hacks has long been-- for as long as anyone remembers, in fact-- David Broder over at the Washington Post. And those looking for a dose of insipid, asinine Broderism won't be disappointed by his silly column tomorrow about how badly Obama needs Republicans. Broder, of course, is non-partisan, bipartisan, post-partisan... so long as all those sans accrue to the benefit of whichever Establishment GOP elitists he happens to be shilling for. When he says that "The first important roll call of the Obama presidency looked as bitterly partisan as any of the Bush years," he isn't blaming his heroes the Republicans, of course. He knows the talking points-- it was Pelosi's fault. That not a single Republican legislator voted for a Stimulus package Obama gave away the store to Republicans when crafting and that not a single Republican legislator voted for a Stimulus package that the overwhelming majority of American voters want to see passed isn't because they're too partisan; it's because Nancy Pelosi, Charlie Rangel and David Obey are. And Broder ought to know; every single Republican in Town has adopted that point as their mantra this week.

Broder, of course, would never in a million years think to ask the real front-line Republicans-- the party's governors, who have to face real families in real pain all over America, not just Grover Norquist, Tony Perkins and Rush Limbaugh sucking down weenies at Villager cocktail parties. The Republican governors see it a little differently from the viciously partisan ideologues and obstructionists.
Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama's economic aid plan that would send billions to states for education, public works and health care.

Their state treasuries drained by the financial crisis, governors would welcome the money from Capitol Hill, where GOP lawmakers are more skeptical of Obama's spending priorities.

Inside the Beltway, the talk is about how Republicans are losing patience with Obama and the Democrats. Mitt Romney, still deluded enough to think he's going to be his bigoted party's first Mormon nominee was appalled that the Democratic President, House and Senate didn't adopt the anti-Stimulus bill the Republicans offered, chock full of proposals that have impoverished the country over the past 8 years while further enriching a few thousand families, one of which happens to be named Romney. Unless the Democrats adopt these failed and catastrophic policies, which were overwhelmingly given the big thumbs down by the voters in November, the Republicans are going to... continue obstructing and whining to the media and trying to undermine America. They're Republican politicians; what else could anyone expect from them.

Their Party's laughable new chairman, Michael Steele, started his term with a huge acknowledgment that the GOP is the Party of Doom and Obstruction:
"Let me start by saying, the goose egg that you laid on the president’s desk was just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Now, folks, I know we’re in the era of bipartisanship, but it’s easy to be bipartisan when you outnumber the minority two to one. Anyone can be bipartisan then. But I thought it was very, very important that you sent a signal, and you sent it loudly and very clearly, that this party, that the leadership of this caucus, will stand first and foremost with the American people. You made it very clear that in order to grow through this recession, that you would not redistribute the wealth of the people of this nation. That you would empower them to earn it, invest it, save it, and spend it on their terms."

I suppose by "the American people," he means the folks in those board rooms he's vowing the GOP will be taking its marching orders from. The actual American people want the Stimulus package-- just like the Republican governors, who Steel ought to be paying more attention to, unless he's planning on hitting the pavement looking for a new job along side Ken Blackwell and Chip Saltsman.

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Rich People Can Still Act Like Human Beings-- They Just Have To Work Harder At It


I don't get out much anymore but the other day I was on my way somewhere and I realized that the big Virgin Records superstore was gone. I mean, the building was still there but it's empty. I was shocked. Tower Records, once the center of Hollywood's thriving record buying community, just down the street, had already closed. I figured Virgin would positively thrive by picking up the extra business. Apparently there wasn't any extra business. So no Tower and no Virgin. There's a huge independent store in the area, Amoeba which always seems to be pretty crowded and lively. Somehow it makes me feel more secure that music is being bought and sold in the area.

I used to be in the record business. I ran a small indie label and eventually I ran a large corporate record company that was part of TimeWarner. I saw a lot of things change in that time and a book review in the L.A. Times last week-- of Steve Knopper's Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age reminded me that I'm always running my mouth about those changes. The review quotes Knopper and I talking about CD sales and how the "need" for consumers to re-buy their entire music collections kept the record industry rolling in cash. I haven't seen the book itself yet but I'm certain we also talked about some of the other changes that conspired to help the industry spin itself into oblivion.

Two were the conscious decisions by-- at least in the case of Warner Bros-- the same people who fought against the migration from vinyl to CD (and before that had declared cassettes a non-starter), to fight against online distribution and also to embrace the big box stores completely. The former I addressed, rather ungraciously, in a post I did a couple years ago for HuffPo. But it's the latter I want to bring up today-- the way the record companies gradually gave up on their customers (record stores) and started down the road to self-destruction by embracing the WalMarts of the world.

For WalMart and similar outfits, music sales were always a loss-leader-- something cheap they could lure people into their stores with so they could get them to buy a washing machine or some poisonous crap made via slave labor in China. That's where the money always was-- and still is-- for WalMart. I knew at once that dealing with them was the death knell for the record business. They were so big we allowed them, basically, to set their own prices and conditions. Inevitably that led to the demise of independent and then chain record outlets. And the record companies have pretty much followed them down the toilet. If ever an industry just made every single wrong decision to annihilate itself, it has been the record business.

Yesterday the new Bruce Springsteen CD, Working On A Dream, arrived in the mail. It's still in it's shrink-rap, unopened, unheard. But it's the Boss and he's playing the Super Bowl tomorrow. Yeah... so? I've liked the 60 year old rocker for a long time, although I was a fan of punk rock in the 70s when he started building his career nationally and didn't get too emotionally involved with Springsteen's quite likable music. Eventually I made up for lost time, especially after I realized how progressive he was politically. Lisa Derrick's must read post at Firedoglake may give more music fans than just me cause to pause. Springsteen has fallen into the worst trap a progressive musician can ever fall into retailwise: he's given an exclusive to WalMart The Destroyer. After being called out on it, he kinda/sorta now says it was a mistake and then kinda/sorta tries to push the blame onto his "team" (i.e., the greedy manager). It doesn't fly for Lisa and it doesn't fly for me. WalMart should send up red flags for anyone, like Springsteen, who cares about American working families, for unions, for America in general.

Is Springsteen so rich that he's completely lost touch with his roots? I don't want to think so. I don't think its inevitable that rich people turn into scumbags. Many do and it takes work to not. That's why Springsteen's lame excuses ring so hollow and so sad.
"We were in the middle of doing a lot of things, it kind of came down and, really, we didn't vet it the way we usually do. We just dropped the ball on it.. given its [Wal-Mart's] labor history, it was something that if we'd thought about it a little longer, we'd have done something different. It was a mistake. Our batting average is usually very good, but we missed that one. Fans will call you on that stuff, as it should be."

That's WalMart, the Evil Empire within, which spends its profits aggressively and viciously trying to destroy the American labor movement. Springsteen's manager makes much worse excuses and you can see why Springsteen has to work so hard to not fall into the trap many rich people fall into-- hanging out with scumbags and becoming just like them.

This week the Center For Progressive Politics released a survey of wealth among members of Congress. The easiest conclusion: there is no way on God's earth this gaggle of fat cats and multimillionaires can be representing average Americans. The freshmen are even richer than the non-freshmen and most of them are millionaires, some of them many times over. No wonder so many of them don't sympathize with the plight of the average working families whose lives have been so disrupted by their policies. But when I dug down a little, I saw that some of the representatives who were the richest have also been the strongest champions for working families, like Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Jared Polis (D-CO) and that even poor members, like Tom Rooney (R-FL) can wind up as complete corporate shills with no interest at all in helping average Americans. I know Grayson well enough to know that he's a conscious and conscientious guy who will work hard to never let filthy lucre divert him from his goal. I use to think I knew Springsteen the same way.

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Buying A Home In The Midst Of The Bush Depression-- And The Squatting Option


Marcy Kaptur-- a voice for Americans who can't afford to rent a lobbyist

My friend is a school teacher in Compton. He makes around $55,000 a year, give or take. It's never (at least not since the Republican takeover of government) been enough to buy a home in L.A. and these days of frozen credit the dream of home ownership is further away than ever-- even as home prices drop down to more affordable levels. Banks just will not lend-- even to the most qualified buyers with steady, tenured jobs. The Bush Regime shoveled $300 billion-- no strings, no adult supervision, no accountability-- at the banksters and what happened was predictable: some of it went to scooping up other, more distressed banks and related businesses and some of it was simply stolen (in the form of self-awarded "bonuses" for... jobs well done? Rudy Giuliani may think $18.4 billion in taxpayer money to crooked, grasping millionaires (like himself) is a perfect way to get the economy moving-- in essence that is the heart of the GOP trickle down theory-- but most Americans are howling mad and want the stolen money returned. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill would go even further.
Sen. Claire McCaskill has delivered a sharp threat to the wallets of corporate executives who took large compensation packages even as their companies accepted government bailout funds. Things, she warned, are going to change.

"I've been mad for a while," said the Missouri Democrat. "When we passed the initial half of the TARP money, [there were] rumors about bonuses, the fact that too many of these guys were holding onto the jobs even though they were running these companies into the ground. Reality didn't seem to be the order of the day."

So McCaskill took to the Senate floor on Friday to put an end to the surrealism. In a bill that came to the surprise of reporters, her colleagues, and the White House alike-- there was no coordination with the Obama administration, she said-- the Missouri Democrat called for compensation for employees of bailout recipients to be capped at $400,000 a year.

"They don't get it," McCaskill said on the floor. "These people are idiots. You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18-billion in bonuses... What planet are these people on?"

Planet Republicana, of course. And we elected Democrats, by substantial margins, to save us from that deadly, toxic, sociopathic planet. And that brings us back to our topic of home buying.

My friend found a house in the Glassell Park neighborhood of L.A.-- a changing neighborhood-- that has been hard hit by the foreclosure mania. A hard working man who speaks little English had literally been tricked into a complex variable rate mortgage that he was assured was safe for his family of six. The house is beautiful and he got it for around $500,000 with 5% down (around $25 grand). It was a stretch but he was able to make all ends meet for two years, in the meantime upgrading everything in the house-- electric, plumbing, a guest cottage, a gorgeous garden... And then the full force of Bush's Republican Economic Miracle hit. His mortgage payments more than doubled. He had just been able to make things work before this inexplicable rise in his payments. Now he couldn't. The bank was willing to renegotiate, but not substantially. He faced foreclosure and the complete destruction of his credit-- let's hope Vice President Biden takes an active role in reforming the disgraceful bankruptcy law he helped Bush shove through Congress for his pals in the banking community now that he's in charge of that middle class task force-- and he realized he'd have to sell the house. Unfortunately, houses aren't selling-- at least not at the prices people paid in the last 15 years.

He put his house on the market as a potential short sale for $250,000, half what it was valued at when he bought it. If the bank approved-- and ate the loss-- he would be able to save his credit. My friend the school teacher saw the house and offered $270,000 in cash (borrowing money not from a bank but from a friend). The deal was approved by the homeowner's bank. But then the homeowner realized he had nowhere to go with his family. After spending months looking for a place to relocate-- even out in the dreary desert communities between L.A. and Las Vegas-- he realized that unless he was willing to split his children up among relatives, he couldn't leave the home he could no longer afford to pay for.

Legally, my friend the school teacher could have forced him out at this point. Escrow was about to close and he was entitled to pay the agreed amount and take possession. Ethically... well, how do you evict a family from their home? Instead, we found him another home (in Hollywood), and we suggested the Glassell Park guy follow the advice being offered by Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, the longest serving Democratic woman in the House: squat in his own home.

Rep. Kaptur, who is being mentioned as a replacement for retiring Republican incumbent George Voinovich-- the GOP is putting up a hapless and pathetic Bush clone, Rob Portman-- is, like many Americans, steaming. She's angry because the federal government has squandered the TARP funds without helping out homeowners. Her area of northwest Ohio has been hard hit, like southern California. Her advice is startling-- and not exactly what Americans are accustomed to hearing from Inside the Beltway or from the Establishment's media: "Unless [you] have good legal representation do not leave your home because remember possession is 90 percent of the law." The revolution has started?
"So I say to the American people, you be squatters in your own homes," said Congresswoman Kaptur before the House of Representatives. "Don't you leave."

She's called on all of her foreclosed-upon constituents to stay in their homes and refuse to leave without "an attorney and a fight," said CNN.

"If they've had no legal representation of a high quality, I tell them stay in their homes," Kaptur told Griffin.

Kaptur is a high-profile advocate of an increasingly popular mode of fighting foreclosures best known for it's key phrase: "Produce the note."

By telling a bank to "produce the note," a homeowner can delay foreclosure by forcing the lender to prove the suing institution is actually the same which owns the debt.

"During the lending boom, most mortgages were flipped and sold to another lender or servicer or sliced up and sold to investors as securitized packages on Wall Street," explains the Consumer Warning Network. "In the rush to turn these over as fast as possible to make the most money, many of the new lenders did not get the proper paperwork to show they own the note and mortgage. This is the key to the produce the note strategy."

Watch the CNN video to get a better idea about why Kaptur is so angry at the banksters and how to hold the vultures accountable. She says if you can't afford to hire a lawyer, legal help is available through a number of organizations including legal aid and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality.

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Opposing The Stimulus Bill Will Hurt Republicans in 2010-- As Well As The Handful Of Reactionary Democrats Making Common Cause With Them


Heath Shuler-- jackass, yes; Democrat, not a chance

Let me see if I've got this right. The U.S. economy is in a steep slide that could turn our mean recession into a real live Depression. "Business investment, commercial construction, home building and exports all fell steeply, most of them doing so for the first time since the recession began 13 months ago. Data released this week suggested that the decline had continued. As for consumer spending, in only one other quarter since records were first kept in 1947 have final sales of goods and services produced in America fallen so much." President Obama won a sweeping mandate for Change less than 3 months ago and has an historically high approval rating. His Stimulus proposals to rescue the economy is widely approved by the public.

But every single Republican in the House-- plus 11 reactionary Democrats, over half of whom are Dixiecrats and 10 of whom usually vote with Republicans on controversial issues (Allen Boyd, Bobby Bright, Jim Cooper, Brad Ellsworth, Parker Griffith, Frank Kratovil, Walt Minnick, Collin Peterson, Heath Shuler and Gene Taylor)-- voted against the president's plan to save the economy. And today the most right wing of all Senate Democrats, Nebraska loon Ben Nelson, ran to his friends at Fox News to broadcast that he's against the Stimulus package, which he seems to think needs more of the kinds of GOP poison that have wrecked the economy to begin with.

In 40 traditionally Republican congressional districts currently held by Democrats-- like the 11 who crossed the aisle and joined the GOP in voting against the Stimulus Package-- 64% of the voters favor the bill and only 27% are opposed. The pollster claims that "an incumbent's support for the economic plan appears to make voters more likely to reelect the lawmaker-- particularly good news for the 20 or so Democrats who in November captured districts that former President Bush carried in 2004. He said one-third of Republicans and two-thirds of independents are leaning with Obama's general goals on the recovery."

This could play out very badly for the most right-wing of Democrats in 2010. Slimy Blue Dog Allen Boyd (FL), who voted against the Stimulus bill (and against most important Democratic initiatives), has already withdrawn from the Florida Senate race, understanding that the right-wingers will vote for the Republican and liberals and moderates would never support him. North Carolina whacko Heath Shuler isn't quite as swift and he's still planning to run against Richard Burr for the Senate, the surest way to guarantee that the GOP will hold that Senate seat. "I've never voted for a Republican in my life," a Democratic office holder from North Carolina told us yesterday. "But I wouldn't vote for Heath Shuler no matter who the Republican was he was running against." Shuler is planning to run a Tom Tancredo-like campaign based on inciting fear, hatred and hysteria against immigrants. He's make a perfect Republican; it really is a shame that Rahm Emanuel tricked the dim witted ex-football player into thinking he was a Democrat.

Meanwhile the most vulnerable Democrat in Congress, reactionary goofball Walt Minnick (ID), opposed the Democrats on virtually everything, hoping to curry favor with his overwhelmingly Republican constituents. Sensing what a weak and pathetic character he's come off as, the Republican he managed to beat in November, Bill Sali, is planning on a rematch, although several other high profile Republicans are circling a political career that very much smells like rotting meat in the hot sun. Significant grassroots opposition inside the Democratic Party is already building to oppose the DCCC wasting money to re-elect incumbents who consistently vote with Republicans on the big issues.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Rudy To The Rescue-- Defending The Rights Of The Rich To Plunder The Rest Of Us


You think whips and furs grow on trees, bub?

I guess Giuliani has four choices in front of him: running for the Senate, running for Governor, running for someone's vice president or just raking in the bucks by continuing to kiss up to big corporate honchos. One of the ways he kisses up to Big Business is by taking a leading role in the vicious war against America's working families. Giuliani can always be counted on to bash unions and oppose everything and anything that turns back the Republican jihad against workers. But yesterday's report from Andrew Cuomo's office about the $18.4 billion Wall Street banksters stole in the form of "performance bonuses" and "severance bonuses" out of the $300 billion TARP bailout the Bush Regime made disappear without a trace, gave Giuliani an opportunity to stick his head up Big Business' ass again.

President Obama referred to the recent bonus heist as "shameful" and both NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the congressional panel trying to get a grip on overseeing TARP want the $18.4 billion returned to the taxpayers. Republicans should like that, right? I mean aren't they always crying about the taxpayers. Yeah, but they only mean the precise taxpayers that actually looted the $18.4 billion. In fact, the payroll tax cuts for working people in President Obama's Stimulus... well, to Republicans that's welfare. So... no.

Instead Giuliani is calling the billions in bonuses for some of the country's richest-- and most corrupt-- citizens a wonderful thing and a boon to society.
"If you somehow take that bonus out of the economy, it really will create unemployment," he said on CNN's "American Morning." "It means less spending in restaurants, less spending in department stores, so everything has an impact."

...When Giuliani ran for the GOP presidential nomination, pundits said his stances on issues like abortion rights separated him from self-proclaimed Reagan Republicans in the field. Not up for debate is Giuliani's alignment with the 40th president on "trickle-down economics," the theory that keeping the rich wealthy creates jobs and solvency for the lower classes.

"Those bonuses, if they are reversed, are going to cause unemployment in New York," the self-described fiscal conservative said. "I remember when I was mayor, one of the ways in which you determine New York City's budget, tax revenue is Wall Street bonuses.

"Wall Street has $1 billion, $2 billion in bonuses, the city had a deficit. Wall Street has $15 billion to $20 billion, New York City had a $2 billion, $3 billion surplus, and it's because that money gets spent. That money goes directly into the economy. First of all, it gets taxed as income. Secondly, it gets taxes again when somebody buys something with it."

Well... in case you weren't sure who's side he's on.

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GOP '09: The Party Of Bad Faith


Let's hope we get more change than this

Cantor and Boehner and that whole, rotten, reactionary crew-- in fact, every single Republican in the House-- rolled Obama. In his first week in office he offered them his hand-- and billions of dollars in tax breaks for their corporate buddies-- and they responded with a clenched fist. Remember at his inaugural when he said "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." He may have been addressing other unsavory characters but the shoe certainly fits. And many Democrats feel this whole post-partisan thing is a charade and, for starters, they want those billions of dollars in tax breaks for businesses to be yanked from the Stimulus bill and used more productively.

Republicans fight for real-- and with knives. Obama better stop throwing flowers. He finally spoke up about the scandal of the banksters who accepted hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars and then doled out $18 billion to themselves and their cronies in bonuses-- all the while passing on alleviating the credit crunch Democrats thought (naively) they would be getting for the unaccounted for billions that they foolishly entrusted to the same Bush Regime that had already ripped off untold billions over the past 8 years-- at home and abroad.
"It is shameful," Obama said from the Oval Office. "And part of what we're going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility."

The president said the public dislikes the idea of helping the financial sector, only to see the hole get bigger because of lavish spending. The comptroller's report found that Wall Street employees got paid about the same amount of bonuses as they did in the boom time of 2004.

Obama said he and Geithner will speak directly to Wall Street leaders about the bonuses, which threaten to undermine public support for more government intervention. The House just approved an economic stimulus plan that would cost taxpayers more than $800 billion; the Senate is considering its own version.

..."There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses," Obama said. "Now is not that time."

No, it isn't. It's the time for fucking accountability already. And I don't mean a slap on the wrist. These criminal banksters should all be rounded up and thrown in prison like the common criminals they are-- and I mean prison, not multimillion dollar penthouses. And those bonuses? That $18.4 billion should be taken back immediately-- with interest. The Obama DOJ should follow Andrew Cuomo's lead in New York on this.

In yesterday's Washington Post Dan Froomkin was wondering where that populist is who inspired millions and millions of America while he campaigned for a fairer and more equitable America last summer and fall.
[A]s Obama takes on the enormous challenge of trying to right a perilously listing economy, he seems to be abandoning at least some of that populism in an attempt not to upset Republicans and Wall Street.

In his first days, Obama has spent more time jawing with-- and making concessions to-- Republicans than Democrats. His photo ops are with corporate CEOs, not labor leaders or laid-off workers. His senior economic team represents the dominant Wall Street culture, and is apparently considering a financial rescue plan that will most directly help the same fat cats who gave themselves more than $18 billion in bonuses last year, even as they tanked the economy. Despite dramatic new ethics policies, Obama is peppering his administration with lobbyists. And he appears to be in no hurry to repeal Bush's tax cuts for the rich.

At the same time, the Obama team is eschewing even the easiest appeals to populism, responding with discreet pressure rather than more public outrage earlier this week when it was revealed that executives at Citibank-- who received a $45 billion infusion of tax dollars -- were buying a $50 million corporate jet.

And what does Obama have to show for all this outreach and restraint?

A stick in the eye... and lots of bad faith. Cantor and those clowns want to play games? The Democrats should pass the Employee Free Choice Act next week and ask them what game they want to play next. It's what they fear and loathe more than anything. Nevada reactionary John Ensign:
If you know anything about politics, it is a game changer. It is a total game changer for the next 40 to 50 years if the Democrats are able to get this legislation.

Ensign's paymaster, former WalMart CEO, Lee Scott:
We like driving the car and we’re not going to give the steering wheel to anybody but us.

Obama has got to wake up and realize that not only is Republican dogma worthless and counterproductive-- just look what that dogma has wrought-- but that these Republicans themselves are dealing from bad faith.

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Peanuts Anyone? The E. Coli Republicans Are Back-- And They Have A Bridge To Sell You Too


Can Obama revive it? Not with fake post-partisan bonhomie with those who purposely destroyed it

When I woke up this morning I saw a crawl across the bottom of CNN that the plant in Georgia where the tainted peanut butter was being made knew it was sending out tainted products that could-- and did-- kill people. According to yesterday's Washington Post "Inspection reports of a Georgia peanut processing plant at the center of a massive, nationwide salmonella outbreak indicate that the company operated in unsanitary conditions and knowingly shipped products contaminated with strains of salmonella." Among the highlights of the reports released yesterday:

• A sink in one of the peanut butter rooms was used interchangeably to clean hands and utensils and to wash out mops.

• The "wash room" was found to be a veritable horror show of problems: a "slimy, black-brown residue," identified as mold, was found on a conveyor and on the walls; a live cockroach and several of his dead compatriots were also discovered.

• The company's cooler room also had mold on the ceiling and walls. Inspectors spotted water stains leading down to where finished product was stored.

• An ingredient staging area was found "dirty with a heavy build-up of different powdery ingredients on all exposed surfaces.''

• The lack of a ventilation system at the facility allowed for contamination to occur and officials did not check the effectiveness of temperature, volume and belt speed during the peanut roasting process.

• Bacteria-laden raw peanuts were stored next to roasted peanuts, increasing the risk of contamination, and peanut products were stored next to salmonella-contaminated floors and cracks.

Contemptible, right? I've been writing about it here at DWT and Orange Clouds has been trying to rouse people at Daily Kos (especially after she discovered that most of the more than 500 sick people are children under ten, many of them ineligible for SCHIP medical care because the same Republican slimebuckets who forced through the kind of deregulation had been holding up SCHIP legislation. In his newest book-- which gets a five-star recommendation from DWT-- The Wrecking Crew-- How Conservatives Rule, Thomas Frank writes at some length about how Bush's contemptible Republican Food and Drug Administration was forced to embraced some harebrained "market-based government" dogma and turned into a tool of campaign contributors, rather than a protector of the public. "It is now," he wrote, "an arm of the immensely profitable pharmaceutical industry."
The FDA's top officers are largely drawn from Big Pharma, its drug evaluation operation is funded in part by the drug companies themselves, and on numerous occasions the agency has tried to silence critics of drugs that have made it through the approval process... Through the smoke and the wreckage of the regulatory state we dimly perceive the approach of a new and unfamiliar America. This colossus is not the product of some awesome and irresistible force like "globalization," but rather of decades of hard right-wing work, of careful bureaucratic sabotage and an occasional shot of lobbyist money. The accomplishment is unmistakable: productivity gallops along, but with workers' organizations out of the picture, only the people at the very top benefit from the advance. For the rest of us there are sudden outbreaks of deadly food poisoning. Train derailments. Deadly mine accidents. Dangerous passenger jets. Tap water that is unfit to drink. Mysterious workplace plagues that, upon investigation, could have been easily avoided at only a slight expense to management. But all of it made possible-- unavoidable, even-- by a philosophy of government that regards business as its only important constituent.

Of course, Georgia isn't the only place with filthy and unsanitary conditions processing food. As I was rolling into San Francisco today, over the East Bay Bridge, I was thinking about how inferior Chinese steel was already cracking in the new bridge and that we could well wind up with the kind of collapse the Chinese had last August when Three dozen people were killed as a brand new bridge over the Tuo River in Fenghuang (Hunan Province) tumbled into the river.

How are they with peanuts? Glad you asked. It's just like Georgia.
You'd think the Peanut Corporation of America was headquartered in China. They discovered salmonella twelve times over the past two years at a Georgia plant, yet they chose to ship out contaminated peanut butter regardless. Sounds a lot like the Chinese dairy company Sanlu that knowingly sold melamine-laced milk powder. In both cases, kids died. In both cases, the regulators were none the wiser. U.S. food processors aren't required to submit lab test results to the FDA. Even when the results may warn of an outbreak that could kill people. Neither are Chinese food processors.

China's system is broken, and so is ours. There are eerie similarities between the two. Hamstrung regulators, where agencies lack the budgets and the legal mandate to enforce quality control. Callous companies that refuse to police their own products -- even when it could prove fatal to consumers. And a population in the dark and at risk.

Unfortunately, both China and America are part of the same food and drug supply. Remember the Chinese blood thinner that killed American patients in American hospitals? We import more and more of our food and drugs from a country that can't police its own quality. The obvious fact that we can't is a Big Problem. Food and drug safety should be elevated to the priority of national security. China and America must work together immediately to untangle the Gordian knot that binds us together before more people die.

It also turns out that our fine trading partners across the Pacific also send us poisonous honey-- and half the honey we import-- and that's 2/3s of what we consume-- comes from China, complete with chloramphenicol or some other illegal antibiotics.
Try to fix anything that the Republicans have so carefully crafted in their war against working families, and they all stick together, vote in a bloc and, along with their host of media shills, bought and paid for by the same interests that buy off the GOP and Blue Dog politicians, scream "socialism" whatever nonsense they think will distract voters from their record of incredible failure and disaster.


The Georgia peanut-processing plant from whence sprang the salmonella outbreak in now the subject of a criminal investigation. That's good. And President Obama "pledged stricter oversight of food safety to prevent breakdowns in inspections." That's good too. Part of the Republican ideology is that regulatory agencies work to protect the interests of Big Business. That has worked out terribly for everyone-- except the very rich, who, overall, have done far better than 99% of Americans in every way you can think of.

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Who's Pat Quinn?


Well, for starters he became the Governor of Illinois yesterday when Rod Blagojevich was removed from office by a 59-0 vote in the state Senate. But is he any good-- or just more of the same. Another Blagojevich or Emanuel type? We turned to one of our most savvy and trusted sources about Illinois politics, former Democratic congressional candidate John Laesch. His report (after taking some time out of his birthday celebration to write it):

Pat Quinn – Change We Can Trust!

by John Laesch

John Laesch and Governor Pat Quinn
The impeachment of Rod Blagojevich highlights the greatest problem that this country faces, pay-to-play politics.  When elected officials and candidates spend all of their time raising money, they are not listening to constituents or writing/reading legislation that benefits people.  Even as I am writing this piece, talking heads on CNN are discussing the fact that they can not find one lawmaker who has read the $900 Billion stimulus plan.  With Democrats effectively controlling both Illinois and Washington D.C., the revolving door between special interest lobbyists and elected officials continues to turn.  Money continues to flow to the banking industry while homeowners continue to lose their homes.  Political consultants and political writers continue to emphasize fundraising as the only criteria for running for public office. And when someone like Blagojevich gets caught, people shake their heads and wonder, “how can this be?”
Instead of governing, elected officials spend countless hours raising money so they can run those television commercials that promise change.  Unfortunately, they get into office and have to start returning favors, raising more money and somehow, they never seem to deliver the change that we all keep waiting for.  This cycle pretty much describes Rod Blagojevich’s rise and fall.
In my parting words from my 2008 Congressional race, I differentiated between Paul Simon Democrats and Durbin Democrats.  Paul Simon would tell young political aspirants to meet as many people, shake as many hands, and listen to what people have to say.  Senator Durbin’s political assistant would tell you to raise $300,000 and come back after reaching that goal.  One Paul Simon Democrat who has never bought into the argument that you have to raise enormous amounts of money to get elected is Pat Quinn.
For those who do not live in Illinois, you can also rejoice!  Governor Pat Quinn gets it!  He has spent the last 30 plus years challenging the status quo and pushing for honest government.  Pat Quinn and Dr. Quentin Young walked across the state of Illinois to promote national healthcare.  Quinn has attended every funeral for fallen soldiers in the state of Illinois. While his commitment to veterans and our troops has nothing to do with honest government, this act alone is enough to earn my utmost respect.
In addition to his political accomplishments, I believe that Quinn has stayed true to the people by staying in touch with the people and being accessible.  When he visited my office almost a year ago, Quinn took several hours to simply listen to concerns that citizens had.  He didn’t give citizens a 3-minute time limit and the “bum rush” that you will get if you visit a local “Congress on your corner” event. He engaged in 2-way communication that demonstrated that he knew exactly what the issue was.  Finally, I feel that Pat Quinn actually loves the state of Illinois and the people who live and work here more than he loves his own political career.  He will be a phenomenal Governor, who will put the concerns of people over the fundraising checks submitted by special interest groups.
I think Governor Pat Quinn reflects change that we can both believe in, and trust.  Without question, the swearing in of Pat Quinn brings real hope to the citizens of this great state!

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RNC Elects A New Chairman Today-- No Howard Dean-Like Salvation Figures Available


As usual, they've run a classy campaign

I think most Republicans who are even aware that their party is choosing a titular head today, would like to see all the contestants lose. The whole campaign-- or smear fest-- has been a tremendous embarrassment that's done nothing but point out that the GOP is almost as low on star power as it is on viable ideas.

The best news anyone's heard out of this traveling freak show is that one of the more disgraceful of a brace of really disgraceful dim lights, Chip Saltsman, hoisted the white flag yesterday and slinked back under his rock. Best known for his racism and extremism as the Republican Party head of Tennessee, his main campaign theme was a viciously bigoted CD he sent out over Christmas called "Barack The Magic Negro." The CD was played by the actual GOP leader, the pill poppin' pervert Rush Limbaugh, on his demented radio show. And it isn't that Republicans didn't love it; it's just that they were embarrassed to be caught loving it. Saltsman pulled out of the race yesterday because he couldn't even get the bare number of signatures on his petitions to qualify for the ballot.

His departure will probably help the next most vicious neo-Confederate racist on the ballot, far right extremist loon Katon Dawson, chairman of the most reactionary state party in the country, South Carolina's. Dawson is the candidate of the unreconstructed South and his membership in an anti-Black country club doesn't hurt him with his constituency. He is the voice of the old slaveholding coalition that dominates what was, ironically, once the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Still, the favorite-- at least for the first vote-- is the candidate of "No Change, Evah," the Bush appointee, Mike Duncan. Duncan is the champion of the status quo, which would seem to be a bad box to be in for a party that just got hosed on every level-- not just suffering a catastrophic electoral college landslide-- losing even GOP stalwarts like Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, etc-- but also suffering its second consecutive wipe-out in Congress, losing high profile incumbents like John Sununu (NH), Elizabeth Dole (NC), Norm Coleman (MN) and Gordon Smith (OR) in the Senate-- plus every seriously contested open Senate seat-- and House members Robin Hayes (NC), Ric Keller (FL), Tom Feeney (FL), Bill Sali (ID), Randy Kuhl (NY), Chris Shays (CT), Joe Knollenberg (MI), Tim Walberg (MI), Virgil Goode (VA) Thelma Drake (VA), and Steve Chabot (OH). But Duncan's strength is how absolutely hideous the alternative look.

Michael Steele walks down the hallway and simply exudes "loser." And for an extremely right wing group like the RNC... well, there are suspicions that he may harbor a tendency to work with Democrats and there's even a rumor that he's... well, you know (not white). Speaking of exuding loserability, Saul Anuzis is the Michigan party chair, and his state just lost all the seriously contested races it was involved in. And then there's Ken Blackwell, famous for having stolen the 2004 election for Bush when he played the Katherine Harris role in Ohio. He's a favorite of the non-Southern/non-racist neo-Nazi branch of the party, all 10 of them. His only role is to hold his 10 votes together and make sure they go to Duncan and not Dawson. He's hoping Dawson will give him some kind of job so he doesn't have to wind up on an unemployment lone, where he might get recognized and... well disrespected.

Right now the pledged votes are Duncan 36, Dawson 19, Steele 18, Anuzis 16, and Blackwell 13. Saltsman had zero. We'll know today but I'll venture that the Party of the status quo will vote for... the status quo, not out of enthusiasm for Duncan but just because he's there and the alternatives seem even worse. We'll post an update if whoever wins is reported anywhere in any reliable media today.


The establishment guy-- Duncan-- just dropped out! Time for an admission: we're half hoping Katon wins and leads his extremist followers in a sucessionist movement.


Looks like Rush Limbaugh's assistant at the RNC will be Michael Steele. I'm sure he's as surprised as you are. In the movie O’ Brother Where Art Thou, the political boss-- Pappy O’Daniel-- is being challenged by a fellow who uses a midget as part of his stump speech. Upon seeing the success the challenger is making, O’Daniel’s son opines, “Pappy, Maybe we oughta get us one of them midget fellers.”

Steele finally won something, likely to be not just a first but his last as well. He just announced he's going to bring the party to every board room. ROTFLMAO! By the way, today's Hill just released the final senatorial fundraising numbers for the last quarter. The Democrats stomped all over Rush's party.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised nearly $7 million, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised just more than $1 million, according to numbers provided by the committees.

The drubbing concluded a two-year cycle in which the Democrats raised 70 percent more than Republicans, $163 million to $94 million.

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SCHIP Finally Passes-- After A Last Minute Barrage Of Silly Obstructionist Amendments From The Party Of Greed & Selfishness


Pair of GOP vipers Obama thinks he can work with-- both voted no on SCHIP last night

The Republican Party-- which utterly excluded Democrats from the legislative process when they managed to get their hands on a Senate majority by murdering Paul Wellstone and stealing a New Hampshire seat for the since-defeated Sununu-- whined so much about being left out and not being allowed to offer amendments to bills that Harry Reid gave in and agreed in the spirit of the lamest idea to ever pop up in Washington: post-partisanship-- which would be like some seals offering a shark a deal for right of way). So now the Senate wastes its time debating obstructionist amendments all day offered by Republicans to kill bills that assist America's working families.

And, of course, Republicans feel perfectly justified in these tactics since in their dark but well-paid little world, everybody knows government's only legitimate function is to uphold the status quo and make sure Big Business can do whatever it takes to keep the campaign donations and bribes flowing. Tuesday night, Wednesday and all day yesterday, in a disgraceful exercise in obstructing SCHIP, a bill to guarantee health insurance to needy children, the Republicans offered over a dozen amendments-- ranging from the time-wasting to the shameful-- to keep the bill from passing. Arch-obstructionist Jim DeMint (R-SC) got the ball rolling on Tuesday night with an especially ugly proposal fitting a man whose entire political career has been financed by Big Business. His mean-spirited amendment would have made children pay for the health care and even mainstream conservatives like Kit Bond (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), and Arlen Specter (R-PA) voted to shut him down. DeMint lost 60-37. The next morning Miss McConnell was back with a substitute bill written by insurance lobbyists. Even more Republicans were sickened by what their pathetic party has turned into and every single Democrat was joined by 7 conservative Republicans-- Kit Bond (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dick Lugar (R-IN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME)-- in defeating the GOP Senate leader 65-32.

That was at 11am. An hour later Florida wingnut Mel Martinez was trying to tack on an extraneous anti-choice amendment that was quickly defeated 60-37. Next up was a harebrained scheme by Kansas nincompoop Pat Roberts that was defeated 60-36, which managed to attract one reactionary Democrat (Nebraska kook, Ben Nelson), while losing Republicans Bond, Collins, Murkowski, Snowe and Specter. Two more lame amendments Wednesday night by Jon Kyl and Lisa Murkowski, defeated 56-42 and 51-47.

Six more came yesterday, all diversionary and meant to sound sane while throwing up roadblocks to providing health insurance to needy children. First up-- as if to emphasize the low moral fiber of the Party of Greed and Selfishness, a medical doctor, Oklahoma's lunatic fringe Tom Coburn offered a bill that was defeated 62-36. A sad parade of obstructionists followed: Jim Bunning, Orrin Hatch, who demanded a clause being included that fetuses are eligible for child health assistance (Pavlovian even on this, Ben Nelson crossed the aisle to support the loons; it lost 59-39), DeMint (back for another thumping on another obstructionist amendment), and then more pure silliness and theater from Coburn that was defeated 62-36. Kay Bailey Hutchison's amendment at 8:30 pm was so off the wall she could only find 16 senators who even had the patience to pay her any heed, most of them Democrats; it was defeated 81-17.

To the post-partisans who think Obama's idea about appointing New Hampshire conservative Judd Gregg Commerce Secretary (resulting up a 60th Democratic Senate seat), keep in mind Gregg-- like McCain-- voted for every single one of these crazy, obstructionist amendments. This is a really bad idea and it will end badly for Obama, just like his disgraceful compromising with Republicans on the Stimulus package did.

The final vote came late last night and the Republican Know Nothings were defeated in the end 66-32. Every Democrat voted yes, as did 9 Republicans, too embarrassed to explain to their constituents how they voted against health care for children. Again, both McCain and Gregg stuck with their demented party's lunatic fringe.


The guy on the right is New Hampshire loon Judd Gregg, who is the target of a media campaign by organizations that support working families (which he disdains). He's also being mentioned as the most vulnerable GOP incumbent in the Senate with an extremist voting record way out of sync with Blue-trending New Hampshire and as a highly cynical choice for Secretary of Commerce. Would President Post-Partisan really be willing to sacrifice the integrity and effectiveness of that department for an opportunity to give barely united Democrats a filibuster-proof 60 seats? Yuck!

The unfortunate-looking closet queen on the left is Mitch McConnell, often referred to in these parts as "Miss McConnell." Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that McConnell warned his disintegrating party-- now ruled by vulgar trained seals performing on radio and TV, was facing its own peculiar End of Times scenario-- that they're not making any sense to real Americans.
“We’re all concerned about the fact that the very wealthy and the very poor, the most and least educated, and a majority of minority voters, seem to have more or less stopped paying attention to us. And we should be concerned that, as a result of all this, the Republican Party seems to be slipping into a position of being more of a regional party than a national one. In politics, there’s a name for a regional party: it’s called a minority party. And I didn’t sign up to be a member of a regional party. I know no one in this room did either. As Republicans, we know that commonsense conservative principles aren’t regional. But I think we have to admit that our sales job has been. And in my view, that needs to change... every so often, there comes a time when a political party has to reexamine itself. For Republicans, now is such a time.”

You think? Maybe they should start by reexamining their stand on health care and why it has turned into one of the biggest threats Americans face today,

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Phil Gingrey (R-GA)-- A Man Of The People


How utterly embarrassing for Georgia, especially Rome and Marietta. Haven't they suffered enough humiliation down there?

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Sleep tight, Justice T, and don't let the bedbugs bite!


Can't you just feel the excitement in the air? Oh, wait . . .

by Ken

Thanks to our eagle-eyed colleague John Aravosis at AMERICAblog for catching this magic moment from President Obama's inauguration. We all recall how, despite the arctic chill, the excitement in the crowd kept everyone at fever pitch. The sense of history was palpable for . . . er, for this . . . um, for this historic . . . oh, for goodness' sake, would somebody wake Justice Thomas up?

In fairness to Justice T, those familiar with his, er, customary demeanor during oral arguments before the Supreme Court say that while yes, it does often appear that he dozes off during the proceedings, there are occasional indications that at least some of those times he isn't so much sleeping as expressing his general contempt for the proceedings. Actually, what's interesting is how often you hear some version of this from lawyers who have argued cases before him -- or tried to.

Note: Although the Secret Service probably wouldn't like it to be widely known, the above seating plan is actually used for all Supreme Court outings to events that involve reserved-seat ticketing, like Washington Nationals' baseball and Wizards' basketball games. Chief Justice Roberts, in particular, likes to be well removed from the aisle so that somebody else usually winds up paying while he fumbles for his wallet when the hot-dog and beer vendors come around.

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The Boz asks: "Do Republicans really want Americans to suffer, alone in the dark?"


Power lines downed by an ice storm yesterday in Danville, Kentucky

"People are dead, thousands are without the basic amenities they need to live, and the Republicans voted en masse to ensure that disasters like these happen again."
-- The Boz, in a Boztopia post, "Alone in the Dark,
or the Winter of American Discontent"

by Ken

During the snow and ice storms yesterday that crippled much of the midsection of America. As Rachel Maddow pointed out on her show last night, the weather event, while severe, really wasn't more than an eminently foreseeable event: a severe winter storm in January -- and yet it turns out that we are apparently largely unequipped to cope.

Unluckily for him, but luckily (in the end) for us, our colleague the Boz found himself stranded, en route from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, "in a podunk motel in Nowheresville, Oklahoma -- literally, I had no idea where it was, apart from it being two hours outside Oklahoma City." He stopped there, he explains, "because the roads were getting progressively worse as I drove through the states. Arkansas and Oklahoma’s sections of Interstate 40 are in terrible shape -- full of potholes, cracks, and the like -- and that’s before the freezing rain, sleet, and mush turned the trip into a potential deathtrap."
Still, it could have been worse -- I had plenty of food and supplies, and a place to rest my head. Many Arkansans, Oklahomans, and more are without power, and they may not get it back for weeks because the grid is collapsing under the strain of the bad weather.

Amazingly, I had working cable TV, and I had C-SPAN in the background, listening to the House debate the stimulus bill that will supposedly jumpstart our economy. And if anything could keep me warm, it was the boiling of the blood from listening to Republicans attempt to barter down an already-weakened package to buy themselves more tax cuts for businesses that have already larded up on billions of our dollars.

I don’t know what’s more galling. It may be the idea that the supposedly richest, most powerful nation in the world can ignore the fact that we’re literally falling apart from the inside out. Or it may be that the party that brought you a global recession, the loss of billions of invested wealth, and two ongoing wars that cost us billions of dollars a month (Why doesn’t anyone bring up ending the Iraq war as a way to bring in more revenue?), has the gall to say that the only way to get us out of the hole they dug is to give them more money.

Not to mention that the corporatized media is bound and determined to ensure that any message they distribute to the public plays their tune and no one else’s. I was listening to the editor of The Hill ramble on the radio as I was driving about the need for “bipartisanship” and for Obama to reach out to Republicans, as if nothing is more important to the destiny of the country than to make sure the party that got its ass thoroughly kicked in the last election at least has a cookie and milk as consolation.
And what we get in Washingon, Boz writes, is "political Kabuki Theater," "where everything is done for the benefit of those who maintain power."
Outside D.C., however, the fundamental issues we face are larger than any single election or politician.

The stimulus is already stingy in almost every respect. It won’t bring us nationwide broadband investment. It won’t give us enough for smart power grids. It won’t cover enough for mass transit development. It doesn’t fund enough investment in alternative energy sources. It will help a lot, make no mistake -- anything is better than nothing. But ultimately, all it does is paper over the cracks in the foundation -- the proverbial Band-Aid on cancer.
Boz recalls a Nevada congressman boasting about the "boom economy" of Las Vegas. The boom doesn't look so impressive now given the deep distress of its leading industries, construction and tourism.
As David Sirota wrote not long ago, Vegas is a symbol of the unsustainable cycle of development we’ve been pushing for decades now. You can’t build a thriving city based on industries that can go belly-up so easily. You need investment in new technology, new ideas, and new determination to see them through.
He returns to the situation in Oklahoma.
A modernized power grid that conserves electricity and provides more power with less waste could help families across the states hit by the ice storm and keep them from freezing or using portable heaters. Rural broadband investment could create statewide Wi-Fi networks that could keep people in instantaneous contact and give them all the information they need to figure out how best to deal with the storm, instead of trying to parse out information from the useless weather television channels or the equally clueless local news. (Imagine if the digital television transition had taken place during this storm, and all the people who would be completely in the dark, literally and figuratively, as a result.) And better roads with more people working on keeping them clean and sanded would not only keep people like me on the move, but it would provide more jobs and more economic boosts for states that desperately need them.

19 people would still be alive and thousands of people would still have power just from improving the services and systems we have. More money for states means more jobs, which means more services, which means both more tax revenue and more consumption of goods. I’m not an economist, but this isn’t freaking neuroscience.

Instead of the vision we need for true economic stimulation, we’re getting endless speeches from smirking Republicans unironically quoting Margaret Thatcher as an invocation of our slide into socialism -- while many of these same people cast votes for TARP (both times) and every military action that’s drained our Treasury, wrecked other countries, and cost thousands of lives.

And the people who should be providing the vision as the majority are willing to provide business tax cuts that don’t work at the cost of more money given to programs that do work. Instead of throwing everything we have at full-scale national broadband investment (which alone could provide aid to everything from health care to green tech), infrastructure spending, and renewable energy development, we’re going halfsies.

And half-assing it won’t cut it for a genuine solution to our fundamental problem -- that our way of life is unsustainable and can’t continue.

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Governor Rod says: "I did a lot of things that were mostly right." UPDATE: It's bye-bye, Rod!


"I did a lot of things that were mostly right."
-- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, interrupting his media whirlwind today to visit the closing of the State Senate's trial of his removal from office

by Ken

Well, I guess that's okay then, governor. Never mind.

The news could come any time now, as the Illinois Senate should be voting on whether to convict Gov. Rod Blagojevich on his impeachment charges, which would result in his immediate removal as governor and replacement by Lieut. Gov. Pat Quinn, and also whether to bar him from holding public office again.

This morning, as threatened, I mean promised, the governor made his farewell address, I mean gave his closing argument to the Illinois State Senate, as it wound up his trial on the articles of impeachment voted by the State House, speaking after the prosecution gave its closing argument, which was an actual legal closing argument.

Instead of speaking for 90 minutes, as dreaded, I mean expected, Governor Rod spoke for only 45, which was undoubtedly good news for the senators. Where the governor is concerned, less is plenty. No, make that more than plenty.

On the awkward if not downright icky side, (1) the governor wasn't under oath, and (2) he refused to take questions, which would have smacked of, you know, cross-examination, like some kind of a trial. The governor, as you know, had boycotted the three days of his impeachment trial.

Legislators, while nervous about committing themselves to such a drastic step without what might seem a proper criminal trial (though of course impeachment isn't a criminal trial), seemed less than awed by the final-day swoop-down. As Malcolm Gay and Susan Saulny report on the NYT website:
Since he will not be giving testimony, senators said his appearance would not be included as evidence in their deliberations.

“All the testimony was heard, so the things that we will consider, all that has taken place,” said Senator James F. Clayborne Jr., a Democrat. “I’m waiting to hear the closing argument tomorrow.”

(Presumably the "closing arument" the senator was referring to was the prosecution's, since the governor's wasn't going to be "considered.")

Further news as it develops.

NOTE: The Washington Post has posted a transcript of Governor Rod's remarks, for those who just can't get enough of the lovable lunk.


By 5:45pm ET the AP was reporting that the Illinois Senate had voted to remove Governor Blagojevich from office, and was poised to deliver the second blow: barring him from holding public office again.

Here's Reuters' report. And tomorrow we'll have a report from someone who knows Gov. Quinn really well. John Laesch will tell us who this guy is and why we can expect better things from him than we got from Blagojevich (even of Blago did go down screaming about how Rahm Emanuel is a criminal).

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Confidential to the congressional obstructionists: We have ways of dealing with people like you!


Free wienies and marshmallows would be provided to everyone who attends the bonfire on the Mall made from all the crap cleaned out of the ex-congressmembers' offices.

by Ken

Since I wrote in my morning post ("It's a good thing I'm not the one responsible for strategy aimed at the right-wing obstructionists") that "if I were the one responsible for devising a counter-strategy, I would go for total annihilation," everybody has been demanding to know what exactly I would do if I did have charge of the strategy for dealing with the right-wing obstructionists. Okay, not everybody, exactly, but there is this kid in Delaware . . . but I shouldn't say any more about that, since he or she should have been in school and not wasting time reading blogs.

Okay, here goes. We start with the House 188, the geniuses who voted against the stimulus package on the ground that it's "too liberal."

When they and their staffs showed up for work this morning, they would have found that their security paraphernalia no longer gained them admittance to either the Capitol or the particular building that houses their offices. In fact, upon further checking they would have found that they no longer had offices. They would have found all their crap piled up on the sidewalk, with a Post-It note to identify each particular doodyhead's crap, accompanied by a note explaining that there was no particular rush about getting that crap the hell off the people's sidewalk, as long as it was gone by noon, when it would be moved to the Mall for a giant bonfire, with wienies and marshmallows provided for all spectators by their Uncle Sammy.

All money, all congressional privileges and perks would have been shut off, and bills would have been sent to their local residence addresses demanding repayment of every cent allotted to them in any fashion (including the cash equivalent of all goods and services provided -- yes, including "Sunny John" Boehner's tanning-salon visits) for "service" in the 111th Congress, now that they have officially committed themselves to not providing any service in the 111th Congress.

All their assets would be frozen, and all family members as well as all contributors to their 2008 campaigns would be rounded up and shipped to temporary relocation tents (or leftover FEMA trailers, where available) until their new Special Reeducation Center is ready for occupation at Guantanamo Bay, hopefully sometime in the next year. Those people would of course be ineligible to benefit in any way from any aspect of the government's efforts to combat the economic meltdown.

Any of the House 188 attempting to interfere with these new arrangements would be given one warning, and then arrested for obstruction of justice. In case of further disturbance, they would be designated terrorists with "enemy combatant" status and shipped off for a grand farewell tour of the CIA "black site" prisons. In cases of noncooperation, security personnel -- ideally not the same useless bunch that failed to police the inauguration -- would have authorization to blast the bastards' thieving brains out.

As for the Senate, the same treatment would apply immediately to RSCC honcho Sen. John Cornyn, who would be invited to provide a list of like-minded members who are committed to substituting their plan of nonstop obstruction above the interests of the country.

Lawyers for many of those affected will no doubt argue that their clients should not be subject to such extreme penalties on account of mental retardation or other mental defect, including full-blown insanity. No thanks to those clients, we do still have laws and courts to deal with such niceties.

Now do you see why it's a good thing I'm not the one in charge of dealing with these people?


The Hill is reporting this morning that a broad coalition of organizations representing the interests of working families across the country is spending millions of dollars on a campaign aimed at convincing five Republican senators to back the economic stimulus legislation. And that's good.
The Campaign for Jobs and Economic Recovery, a group of labor and political organizations, is targeting GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) with a 30-second spot. The ad includes audio excerpts from President Obama’s Jan. 8 speech at George Mason University, when he made his case for the stimulus package that could exceed $900 billion.

The same publication is also reporting that Democrats are vowing revenge. OK, OK, I know the Republicans are laughing their asses off at that toothless threat.

Nate Silver wants to assure us that zero is the loneliest number for the GOP and I want to assure readers that our ActBlue efforts will be continue to be aimed at electing progressives and targeting reactionaries. The three candidates we've endorsed so far this year-- Dan Gelber (D-FL), Tom Geoghegan (D-IL) and Doug Tudor (D-FL)-- are all guys who have and will continue to fight for American working families. If you can afford even $5 or $10 dollars, please think about helping these guys out.

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It's a good thing I'm not the one responsible for strategy aimed at the right-wing obstructionists. PLUS: Howie targets the 11 "Democratic" turncoats


We don't know what the president had to put in his stimulus package to get the votes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (only progressives seem to have been offered nothing), but at least they delivered their votes -- unlike the demagoguing Republicans and Blue Dogs.

"How many chances are we going to give this president before we say, 'Enough is enough'?"
-- John Oliver, on last night's Daily Show

by Ken

"For eight long days," John Oliver went on . . .

At one point during the election campaign, when candidate Barack Obama had once again chosen not to try to show up the eight years of extreme-right-wing Bush regime policies for the catastrophe they were, and candidate Young Johnny McCranky for the clueless galoot he was, not to mention the liar and extreme-right-wing tool he had turned himself into, my friend Peter -- who's actually more cynical about politicians than I am, which is saying an awful lot -- surprised me by saying he was glad that it was Obama framing the response rather than him.

This gave me pause, until Peter explained that his instinct, like mine, would have been to try to blow the little turd McCranky to smithereens. However, the polls kept insisting that that would have been wrong, because of Middle America's supposed mortal fatigues with partisan wrangling. The standard wisdom was that middle-ground voters admired candidate Obama for not stooping to it.

The prez has 'em just where he wants 'em

As we all know, all the more so in the wake of yesterday's House votes on the new administration's stimulus package, which received not a single Republican vote (and was snubbed by a cadre of the usual in-name-only Democrats), now-President Obama still believes in his vision of post-partisanship. And we have to allow for the possibility that he knows just what he's doing, that even after being played for a sap by goons within his party as well as the united goon front of the "official" Opposition, the president is chuckling, thinking that now he's got the partisan sumbitches just where he wants them.

Last night on Countdown, MSBNC's and Newsweek's Richard Wolffe seemed to be suggesting just this, telling Keith Olbermann that the president has handled the politics of the stimulus package flawlessly. The idea is that he has established himself as the President Who Has Risen Above Partisanship, just as the country wants, only to be foiled by the congressional Republicans who resorted to nothing but partisanship in the face of the very economic crisis that's generally conceded to have cost the Republicans any shot at the White House in 2008. As a result, the theory goes, the Republican obstructionists will be punished by all those Americans pining for the promised new era of postpartisanship.

So goes the theory, anyway.

This package was largely crap to begin with

Me, I'm seething, almost as crazed as your average Republican by the Opposition's stupefying ignorance, cynicism, and blatant dishonesty. The original Obama stimulus package was largely crap, partly because of the coterie of Wall Street stooges the president has in his inner economic circle (starting with Treasury Secretary Geithner and economic adviser Summers), but also because already in the original proposal massive concessions were made to the economically ignorant but nevertheless delicate sensibilities of Republicans -- notably the massive tax cuts, which were there as a sop to eternal right-wing dogma despite their dubious stimulative value.

But then, even before any negotiations were held with the Opposition, the administration began pulling out more of the good stuff in the package and stuffing in more of the bad, not even attempting to counter the bullshit being spewed by 94th-rate "thinkers" like Sunny John Boehner.

Let's be blunt. Sunny John is an utter ignoramus when it comes to economics. The only thing he knows about the subject is what fun it is for an influential congressman to stuff his pockets with lobbyist cash, all the more so when there's enough bribe money to be allow for trickling some of it down to "his members" -- right there on the floor of the House if it suits his mood.

Playing voters for saps

But if there's one things those social and economic know-nothings do know, it's how to play average American voters for saps. They know how to choose and use buzzwords -- ad when they ridicule the modest family planning expenditures included in the bailout plan, at least until the panicky president yanked them, as $300 million for condoms rather than a down payment on undoing the catastrophic damage done to responsible family-planning programs by the eight-year marauding spree of the ideological extremists. It's not "for condoms," you lying thugs and ignoramuses, it's a reasonable investment in tragically neglected responsible social policy, and since it's money targeted at the least advantaged segments of American society, it's money that's sure to be spent -- hence it's stimulative value.

Once again, the Right-Wing Noise Machine is demonstrating its mastery at framing every political issue to the undeserved advantage of its most economically overprivileged and/or ideologically whacked-out constituencies. And already the infotainment-news media, the very same people who spent most of the last eight years playing lapdog for the wackos and hooligans of the Bush regime, have miraculously awakened to their professional obligation to play an adversarial role with the administration, hurling at it without even the most cursory fact-checking every lie, delusion, and obfuscation concocted by the Right-Wing Noise Machine.

Then there are the nominal Democrats -- you know, that great thinker Jim Cooper and his mangy Blue Dogs, who preach their one-note gospel of fiscal "prudence" (as if they would have a clue what's prudent and what isn't) even while the economy is going down the tubes. This might be mildly ironic if it weren't so monstrous. At a time when the Right-Wing Noise Machine is in high gear spewing the lie that the New Deal prolonged rather than shortened the Great Depression, the Blue Dogs take pride in insisting on repeating the demonstrated error of the Roosevelt administration: being persuaded, starting in 1936, to attack mounting government deficits at the cost of undoing a certain amount of the economic turnaround accomplished in the glory years of the New Deal.

The simple economic reality is that government deficits are not in themselves evil or even undesirable. At times, like for example now, they're not only desirable but necessary. What we have to worry about is out-of-control deficits. You know, the sort run up by the "conservative" Reagan and G.W. Bush regimes, which we now understand were not accidentally but intentionally dangerous, according to the extremist dogma of government-hating thugs like Grover Norquist, with his famous image of staving government into a baby that can be drowned in the bathtub.

Heads we lose, tails they win

What we have to remember is that those out-of-control Republican congressional loons believe the same thing that Rush Limbaugh has been screeching. They all hope that the economic disaster worsens rather than improves, in the hope that the Obama administration will be held to account. They seem to take it for granted that, voters' memories being notoriously short, they'll have forgotten by the next chance they have to go to the polls, their "screw you" obstructionism.

I worry that they're right. (I more than worry, but never mind that for now.) Especially when the right-wing demagogues cloak their obstructionism in all those time-tested propaganda buzzwords people like Karl Rove have toiled so diligently to develop, I worry that they can all too easily sell the lie that back in '09 they were the ones who tried to agree on a bipartisan plan, only to be rebuffed by those far-left ideologues, the raging socialists of the Obama administration.

Now if I were the one responsible for devising a counter-strategy, I would go for total annihilation. Call those hoodlums out for the liars, imbeciles, and thieves they are, aiming for complete obliteration. Maybe I'll let my fantasies run wild in a later post, but for now the point is that apparently in postpartisan America my approach would be wrong.

On the theory that the postpartisans are right, I have to echo my friend Peter: It's a good thing it's President Obama and his team rather than me calling the shots here.


Here are the 11 treacherous "Democrats" who crossed the aisle and voted with the Republicans and against American working families:

Allen Boyd (FL) -- Blue Dog; wants to run for the Senate in 2010... as a Democrat (UPDATE: see below)
Bobby Bright (AL) -- in a 3-way tie for worst freshman, ever
Jim Cooper (TN) -- Blue Dog
Brad Ellsworth (IN) -- Blue Dog
Parker Griffith (AL) -- in a 3-way tie for worst freshman, ever
Paul Kanjorski (PA)
Frank Kratovil (MD) --
claims to be a Blue Dog but they must be too embarrassed to put him on their list
Walt Minnick (ID) -- in a 3-way tie for worst freshman, ever
Collin Peterson (MN) -- Blue Dog and chair of House Agriculture Committee, probably even more corrupt than Appropriations Committee
Heath Shuler (NC) -- Rahm's greatest hit: slimy Blue Dog who wants to run for the Senate in 2010 (on an anti-immigrant platform)
Gene Taylor (MS) -- Blue Dog

Anyone think there will be any accountability on any level? Some of these fellas are already GOP targets for 2010 but you think Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in charge of incumbent retention, will give any of them a dime less? I bet not.

You think DSCC chair Bob Menendez will try to find alternatives to Shuler and Boyd for Senate seats in NC and FL-- like candidates who will actually vote like Democrats? I bet not.

You think Nancy will remove Peterson from his lucrative perch at Ag -- and give corporate agriculture a scare? Not a chance.


UPDATE: Bill McCollum and Allen Boyd, both shameless reactionary puppets for Big Business who have built lucrative careers for themselves on the backs of working families whose aspirations they have denied, realized that the mood of the country is not going their way. Both of these political Neanderthals have taken themselves out of the race for the Florida Senate seat. Score two points for America!

As for the Republicans, maybe they don't need to turn to Rush Limbaugh as their ultimate leader. Vladimir Putin, formerly a Soviet KGB operative, currently Russia's strongman, was in Davos singing the same tune that Republicans are singing about President Obama's Stimulus Package. And believe me, Putin, Limbaugh, Boehner, DeMint, Cantor . . . they all would rather see America fail than Obama succeed.

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