Friday, May 28, 2010

2010 Midterms: Moderates, Angry Tea-Baggers, Fringe Republicans, and Comfy Democrats (GOTV)

Public Policy Polling:

I think we may have all (myself included) made too much of the impending doom the Massachusetts results portended for Democrats this year. The combination of an exceptionally strong Republican candidate in Brown and an exceptionally weak Democratic candidate in Coakley created a formula that made it possible for the GOP to win moderate voters. But the Republicans haven't shown the ability to replicate that formula in any other key Senate contest yet, and as a result Democrats are decidedly winning the center.

Here's our Senate data on moderates:

-Jack Conway leads Rand Paul 60-20
-Robin Carnahan leads Roy Blunt 61-21
-Elaine Marshall leads Richard Burr 59-24, Cal Cunningham leads Burr 54-26
-Michael Bennet leads Jane Norton 54-31
-Lee Fisher leads Rob Portman 47-27
-Joe Sestak leads Pat Toomey 45-29
-Alexi Giannoulias leads Mark Kirk 36-23
-Harry Reid leads Sue Lowden 51-41
-Blanche Lincoln leads John Boozman 49-40, Bill Halter leads Boozman 45-36
-Paul Hodes leads Kelly Ayotte 47-39
-Charlie Crist has 34% to 32% for Kendrick Meek and 19% for Marco Rubio
Barring scandalous meltdowns or alien invasion, I wouldn't expect this picture to change much.  What that means is that despite the right-wing hoopla (Seriously, GOPers... everything can't be "Obama's Waterloo/Katrina/Shoe-Projectile" moment... voters are smarter than you seem to think, and it makes you look desperate, which is just embarrassing for both of us) Democrats are positioned well.  Also, the majority party controls much of the message in a midterm, and when it comes to issues, the GOP isn't exactly poised to gain ground with "Get the Mexicans Out!" and "Repeal Everything!"  The biggest threat to Democrats retaining a majority?  Democrats, mostly satisfied, sitting home on election day.  Republicans are angry and tea-baggy.  Democratic voters are more likely to feel things are "going okay," and thus less likely to make a trip to the ballot box.  But back to that Republicans feeling tea-baggy thing... well that's all the reason Democrats should need to show up.  We just need to remind them.

OFA has a plan.
The weekend of June 5th, we're holding Vote 2010 Kickoff Canvasses across the country, where OFA volunteers will get together to go door-to-door in their communities, all with the goal of engaging first-time 2008 voters and getting them to commit to get back to the polls this fall.

And to make it happen, we need volunteers to host events. All you need is a place where folks can gather to get started—it could be your living room, a nearby community center, or a park—and we'll provide you with materials and instructions to go from there.
Here in Utah, this little tool could prove useful.  Nationally, though, getting 2008 voters fired up to hit the polls again is going to be a bigger challenge than anything the GOP will send up.  You can do something about it.

UK Iraq Invasion Report "Too Embarrassing for Even Internal Consumption"

Guardian UK:

Highly critical comments by a senior army officer asked to conduct a study of the circumstances surrounding the invasion of Iraq have been suppressed on the orders of the country's top defence officials, the Guardian has learned.

The study, by Lt Gen Chris Brown, was commissioned in the light of mounting evidence of the failure to prepare properly for the invasion and its consequences.

Former senior military officers and defence officials have already described their anger and frustration about the failures in damning testimony to the Chilcot inquiry into the 2003 Iraq invasion. One of the inquiry's key objectives is to spell out the lessons that should be learned from what is widely regarded in Whitehall as an ill-conceived operation of dubious legality and, in foreign policy terms, a disaster comparable to the 1956 Suez crisis.

Against this background, the Ministry of Defense agreed to conduct its own study. However, Brown's criticisms were so harsh that they have been suppressed following the intervention of Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defense staff, and other officials, who considered them too embarrassing even for internal consumption at the MoD.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Context is Stimulating

I know it's futile to try to counter the fervent tea-bagging and "Mike Lee-ing" with things like facts and context... but I'm an eternal optimist (or slow learner, take your pick).  Either way, once again, here's a pretty pie chart, followed by some facts. 


Read more, if you dare.  But for now, you see that big blue part?  No?  Take the tea bags off your eyes.  See it now?  What that says is that the biggest addition to our deficit -- not just now but going forward even! -- is loss of revenue.  Where does loss of revenue come from?  Loss of taxes collected.  And considering there haven't been another massive tax giveaway to the rich in addition to the Bush tax giveaway to the rich, there is only one explanation for this loss of tax revenue.  Wait for it...

Jobs!

Now what is it you tea partiest of tea partiers hate more than health care reform, "anchor babies," and Bob Bennett?  You got it: anything Barack Obama has done since elected!  Which includes his first major piece of legislation, the Stimulus package.  But stay with me now.  What was it we learned in previous paragraphs?  The debt growth since 2008 is primarily the result of loss of revenue due to a loss of jobs for working Americans?  Yep.  What can we do about that?  Well...
The $800 billion economic stimulus package signed into law early last year "has had a slightly bigger effect on the U.S. economy than was projected when it was passed more than a year ago," the Wall Street Journal reports.

"Through the first quarter of 2010, the stimulus boosted employment by an estimated 1.3 million to 2.8 million jobs, about a quarter or half million more than projected. Gross domestic product was 1.7 to 4.1 percentage points higher than it would have been without the stimulus." 
Isn't that interesting.  An investment via stimulus (which you hated) is working to solve a problem that is one of the biggest contributors to our deficit (which you hate).  It's almost like you're fighting against your own best interests in opposing pretty much anything and everything that might be a solution rather than a reactionary talking point containing the words "liberty," "state," "no!" and "Carl Wimmer."

This lesson was brought to you by reading comprehension skills I learned through public education.  Which you also hate.

Help us get four Utah students to Netroots Nation

We've already made arrangements to get ourselves to Netroots Nation 2010 in July, but earlier this week we were presented with a unique opportunity, and being currently, as they say, "broke," we need your help.

We have one week to raise $320 to meet the sponsor halfway in covering registration for four Utah students.

The four student activists come from Cache, Weber, and Davis counties and have agreed to one condition: in exchange, all said sponsor asks is that these students promise to get in touch with local Democratic Party leaders after and share what they learn at NN'10 through house parties, presentations, etc.  We have four willing activists.  Housing, scheduling, and getting them to relevant training sessions we can cover ourselves.

But even with the sponsor's pledge to cover half, registration isn't cheap (at least not on my budget!).  If you can, help us make this happen.

It's impossible to detail every possible benefit from spreading the experience of the conference around at the county party level, but it's an exciting opportunity.  My first trip to the conference in Pittsburgh last year as a DFA Scholar gave me a wealth of overwhelming ideas on everything from email campaigning to covering local politics as citizen journalists to an inside look at the successes and failures of "new media" campaign strategies for candidates.  It was an experience I couldn't have gotten elsewhere and that I'm still learning from nearly a year later via the contacts I made. 

Please pitch in whatever you can, and help us get four more Utah activists the same experience, and bring even more of this influence back to Utah politics.

$10 from 32 people would make this opportunity a reality.

(We've capped the donation limit, so if you attempt to give and it says "No!" this means we've hit the necessary amount.)

Much thanks, in advance.  We'll be posting more info on the conference, including keynote speakers, and panel/training topics in July.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Congressman Jason Chaffetz wants to take away your favorite hunting or fishing spot

The GOP is taking the states rights mania in a dangerous direction for anyone in Utah that enjoys hunting (or fishing for that matter).

The Bureau of Land Management would have to sell off some 132,000 acres of public land in Utah and more than 3 million acres total in the West under legislation Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced Wednesday.


So quick! Check if your favorite hunting (or fishing) spot is in that acreage. Here is a "helpful" map (pdf) provided by Chaffetz to determine which acreage will be sold.

Will you still be able to get to your favorite hunting (or fishing) spot? Who really knows and I doubt the GOP really cares.

The Utah Republican's measure orders the Interior secretary to sell all lands identified as excess in a 1997 study by the Clinton administration and sets up a process for 10 states to recoup those parcels for private development.


The states rights farce has completely blinded the GOP from using any rational thinking.

A bill introduced today would require the feds to sell off land that doesn't serve a public purpose.


Congressman Chaffetz is so busy pandering to the states rights cult that he thinks it is fair to use a 10+ year old study to determine what land has public value and what land doesn't. So if the elk or deer you hunt have found greener pasture in the past 10 years then you better start thinking about finding a new place to hunt. Even if this doesn't impact your favorite hunting spot; this legislation would still reduce the amount of open space that elk and deer need to do what they do. This is a raw deal for hunters no matter what.

So where is your favorite hunting organization in standing up to the GOP willing to sell our national heritage to the highest bidder? Where is Byron Bateman of the Utah chapter of the Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife on this issue? As far as I can tell the organizations that claim to be preserving our hunting heritage are completely in the pocket of the GOP, no matter how outrages their proposals are. It is our obligation for future generations of hunters to ensure that Congressman Chaffetz's legislation never sees the light of day (thank God for a Democratic congress) and we must show that Republicans are no friends of hunters or fisherman and the GOP thinks our nation's heritage is for them and their friends to use.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Lost Decade?

Krugman -

What’s behind this new pessimism? It partly reflects the troubles in Europe, which have less to do with government debt than you’ve heard; the real problem is that by creating the euro, Europe’s leaders imposed a single currency on economies that weren’t ready for such a move. But there are also warning signs at home, most recently Wednesday’s report on consumer prices, which showed a key measure of inflation falling below 1 percent, bringing it to a 44-year low.

This isn’t really surprising: you expect inflation to fall in the face of mass unemployment and excess capacity. But it is nonetheless really bad news. Low inflation, or worse yet deflation, tends to perpetuate an economic slump, because it encourages people to hoard cash rather than spend, which keeps the economy depressed, which leads to more deflation. That vicious circle isn’t hypothetical: just ask the Japanese, who entered a deflationary trap in the 1990s and, despite occasional episodes of growth, still can’t get out. And it could happen here.

So what we should really be asking right now isn’t whether we’re about to turn into Greece. We should, instead, be asking what we’re doing to avoid turning Japanese. And the answer is, nothing.
So while the tea baggers continue to complain about the lowest taxes in decades, they're only distracting us from what could be the real problem here: the government hasn't done enough.
I also suspect that Obama administration economists would very much like to see another stimulus plan. But they know that such a plan would have no chance of getting through a Congress that has been spooked by the deficit hawks.

In short, fear of imaginary threats has prevented any effective response to the real danger facing our economy.
Comforting, sign me up for a Gadsden flag.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Would It Surprise You to Learn that Orrin Hatch is Full of S*#t?

Hip waders, up!

Orrin:

No wonder Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of the New York investment giant Goldman Sachs, said "that the biggest beneficiaries of reform will be Wall Street itself." That's a luxury our small businesses in Utah can't afford when they're saddled with this legislative monstrosity.
What Blankfein really said:
Wall Street will benefit from the bill because it will make the market safer, Blankfein said.

"The biggest beneficiary of reform is Wall Street itself," he said. "The biggest risk is risk financial institutions have with each other."

American consumers also would benefit from better regulations, he said.
Keeping them honest, one Op-Ed at a time.

UPDATE:  Bennett and Hatch voted against.  That Bennett.  What a liberal!  Orrin, though, doubles down on the superficial:
Sen. Orrin Hatch called it a "legislative monstrosity." He disagrees with a provision that allows the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to dismantle a failing financial firm instead of a bankruptcy court. He also thinks it should have reformed the major mortgage firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 
In his desperation to ward off a 9-12er/Patrick Henry Caucus/Eagle Forum/Club for Growth tea-baggn', he's just quoting Heritage commentary verbatim, and passing it off as leadership.

Conversations with Economists

Continuing my attempt to get an answer to the question posed to the Utah Legislature ("We get it, you're conservative... Now what's your plan for the future?"), I found myself on the phone this morning with a Utah economist, discussing options. A part of that interview I wanted to share in advance:

Me: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to effectively communicating economic concepts to Utah voters?

Mr. Economist: Candidates for office.

Well put.

Thanks to all the legislators who've responded so far. I'm hoping to start posting some responses later this week.

Where's That Wave?

TWI:

If any common message emerged from Tuesday’s results it was this: Republicans, who have been hoping that the public’s discontent will translate into big congressional gains in November, might want to reconsider their strategy come Wednesday.

Specter, for example, was toppled by a more liberal Democrat in the figure of Rep. Joe Sestak, whose late campaign push revolved around ads linking Specter — a Republican from 1965 until he switched parties last year — to George W. Bush. Sestak will now square off against former GOP Rep. Pat Toomey, founder of the conservative Club for Growth, in November.

[...] More evidence that the anti-establishment backlash remains unproven arrived Tuesday in western Pennsylvania, where Democrat Mark Critz, a former aide to the late Rep. Jack Murtha (D), defeated Republican Tim Burns in a special election. The result was a blow to Republicans, who’d viewed Murtha’s seat as low-hanging fruit in a conservatvie district amidst an unemployment crisis. “If you can’t win a seat that is trending Republican in a year like this, then where is the wave?” former GOP Rep. Tom Davis (Va.) told The New York Times before the outcome of the race was known. “It would be a huge upset not to win this seat.”
And they didn't.

It's also worth noting that in the "We're All Tea Baggers Now!" primary victory for Rand Paul, both the winner and the loser of the Democratic primary in that state received a significantly higher number of votes each than Paul himself did for a GOP primary win.

If that kind of momentum keeps up, the GOP, with or without their tea parties, may have oversold their case for taking back the house.

But hey, guys, you've still got "Repeal It!"  Run with that, that's sure to be a winner.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Deranged

2008 Libertarian Party VP Nominee, Wayne Allen Root, in a WorldNetDaily column:

Obama is not a fool. He is not incompetent. He is not a madman. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is purposely overwhelming the U.S. economy to create systemic failure, economic crisis and social chaos – thereby destroying capitalism and our country from within. But the bonus is brilliant: As he taxes to death business owners, he also cripples his political opposition. 
There are people out there who want this stuff.  It feeds their neurosis and explains away, for them, all the things that suck in their lives right now.

I don't judge them (okay I do a little), but that sites like WorldNetDaily and NewsBusters get even the little play they do for dumping this crap into the cycle is simply unbelievable.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Question for Utah Legislators

Spent some time this week picking through what's happening in other state legislative sessions now that most have dotted the i's up their 2010 sessions.  It's impossible to draw a complete comparison between any two states, but it's also negligent to ignore general similarities between states, especially in how they respond to budget deficits, revenue problems, and -- my focus here -- long term planning.  In fact, there is lot state legislators can, and often do learn from the experience in similar states.  One state in particular I'd like to draw a comparison for Utah with is Florida.

Taking a heftier blow from the housing slump, Florida faced a $147 million FY2010 and a projected $4.7 billion FY2011 shortfall, along with 12% unemployment, with nowhere to turn for revenue, having already tried Utah's its-not-a-tax-hike-if-its-a-sin-tax smoker funding ploy in 2009.  And they have gambling to fall back on, but shhhh!  So their response this year?  Well, for Utah wonks who followed the 2010 session closely, see if you can spot the similarities:

The [Florida] Legislature approved a wide array of cutsthat mainly hit programs that assist low and moderate income Floridians, including:  a 7 percent reduction in reimbursement rates to hospitals and nursing homes; the elimination of incentives to state workers to adopt foster children; cuts to funding for Health Start coalitions, which services at-risk infants and pregnant women, by $2.6 million; the reduction of the appropriation to Healthy Families, which aims to prevent child abuse, by $10 million; cuts of $10.5 million from state contributions to county health departments; a $5.6 million cut to development disabilities services [...] deep transportation trust fund cuts; and the reduction of state spending on a higher education scholarship program.

[...] The budget relies on $2.3 billion in recovery funds and assumes $880 million in Medicaid assistance that the federal government has yet to enact.  Ironically, while the Legislature seeks increased federal action on state fiscal relief, lawmakers advanced a resolution, SCR 10, that calls on Congress to amend the Constitution and add a requirement for a balanced federal budget.

Having cut health care funding for Florida families, the Legislature engaged in additional political posturing by approving HJR 37, which proposes a state constitutional amendment to prohibit laws "from compelling any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system."  Floridians will consider this issue on the ballot in November.

The Legislature approved a bill, HB 1207, to allow leaders in the House and Senate to operate campaign accounts to raise and spend unlimited amounts of cash, but the bill was ultimately vetoed by the Governor.
Okay, that last one was a stand out.  His signature of the great-idea-but-let's-not-really-commit-because-it-might-be-a-dumb-idea Margaret Dayton's gun law implies Gary would never be so brazen as to veto a bill that opened up a campaign cash free for all.  But everything else sounds familiar, right?  We'll ride this one out with our same ideologically driven policies, quietly cash a few federal checks while a-hatin' on the Feds, and hope, nay pray, that this recession ends.  But what about making sure this doesn't happen again?  Hey look over there!  A climate scientist!  Get 'im!

As the Florida session drew to a close, the actions of the legislature pushed one Florida newspaper, via editorial, to ask a simple, and important question:  "Great, you're conservative... now what's you plan for the future?"
Refusing to acknowledge the obvious need for more revenue and a fairer state tax system, the Republican-led Florida Legislature is once again cobbling together a roughly $68 billion state budget with duct tape, bailing wire — and considerable help from the feds. The House and Senate spending plans, due for floor votes this week, mop up money earmarked for long-term uses to fill short-term needs. Lawmakers have no real vision for the future, when the federal stimulus money will be gone and the state's needs will be more critical than ever.

Republicans contend voters want the state to make do with existing resources. But what voters really want is a vision for building a better Florida — not a budget built on contradictions because legislators are too consumed with their political futures to tackle the state's funding crisis.
I know we Utahns are supposed to cheer our legislature for "not cutting education as much as they could have," raising every fee but never a tax, and "standing up to the Feds, grrrr!"  Most voters did.  And admittedly, there were many moments of moderation, pragmatism, and responsible action that unfortunately get washed away in the media coverage by legislators who -- as a friend once expressed to me -- "self select" to be the media darlings (or pariahs) each session.

But with the legislative session wrapped without much more budgetary information leaked out than crossing our fingers and hoping we can ride this one out, and considering the "rightening" of the legislature with the loss of several outspoken moderates who dared to oppose vouchers or suggest increasing a tax or two (RINO's!!!!), the question the St. Petersburg Times challenges Florida legislators with seems equally as important for us here in Utah.

Great, you're conservatives.  Now what's your plan for the future?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Most Predictable Debt Crisis You Could Ask For

Ezra:

Demonstrating epic econo-wonk convergence, both Steve Pearlstein and David Leonhardt have columns today comparing America's fiscal condition to Greece's, and arguing for a cocktail of tax increases and spending cuts to balance the books.

The main thing to say about our yawning long-term deficit -- which is distinct from our necessary, manageable and stimulative short-term deficit -- is that this is about the most predictable debt crisis you can ask for. No one will be able to say they didn't see it coming.

Nor will they be able to say we didn't know how to solve it: The main question is how to get health-care spending under control. And both Pearlstein and Leonhardt offer solutions that would get us closer.
As Ezra points out, their suggestions amount to -- in a nutshell -- "pass the Affordable Health Care Act."

Which we already did.

Talk like this goes a long way to framing a more rational narrative around deficit reduction.  Instead of across the board spending cuts and program defunding -- something CAP has done a great job of laying out the reality of what such bottom line cuts would entail -- there is a swell in solution pondering more centered around creatively addressing long term costs and expenses that I'd argue are the only real long term solution, barring "going Galt" with the tea partiers or passing a balanced budget amendment.  Which is, of course, insanely stupid.

It's really just a matter of planning and embracing change rather than a reactionary "bottom line this year" approach.  Spending cuts aren't the only solution.  They're just the only thing Republicans want to talk about.

And, yeah, there's a lesson federal legislators could take from the Utah Legislature.  Utah responded to a budget problem with massive cuts and a lot of (A LOT OF!) federal money.  At the federal level, there's no broader governing body to get a stimulus check from, and several concerns Utah is free of (miliatry, FDA, airport security... poor people).  Strict spending cuts and balanced budget amendments are fodder for conservative strong holds like Utah, but at the federal level, a more nuanced, responsible, and forward thinking solution is going to be required.

Health care reform was a great start.

RNC Chooses "Lap Dance Capital of the World" for Convention Site

Political Wire:

Unmentioned in news this morning that the Republican party will pick Tampa as the site for their 2012 national convention: Ben Smith points out the city is known as the "lap dance capital of the world" with 56 different clubs that are adult-oriented.

Given the scandal over RNC expenses at a "bondage-themed nightclub" earlier this year, one wonders if this was a wise choice.
More interesting to me is the complete lack of mention of Phoenix as a possible choice in many of the statements given on the Tampa pick.  It's like Arizona has ceased to exist on the GOP radar.

Always fun to watch the national party run away from the very extremism they've helped to foster.  They feed the extremism, they try to legitimize the extremism, and they defend the extremism... until a national election cycle rolls around.  Then they want to be as far away from the extremism as possible.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Question For The Anyone But Bennett Crowd

I realize that he voted for TARP, and that was a horrible idea, but would you still have cheered him out of office if it wasn't such a horrible idea?

But now, 19 months after Congress voted to spend $700 billion on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, we're starting to get a long-term sense of the effort's true cost, and its effect. And when you look at the amount of money that the government now stands to make back -- not to mention the widespread expert view that the bailout succeeded in its prime purpose of stabilizing the economy -- it could just be that we've been able to rescue our economy from the brink of a depression for a relatively low price. And so, an unlikely question arises: Was the bailout, far from being a disastrous, dishonest failure, really more like one of the most successful programs ever?
(...)
Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics at George Mason and a libertarian, also was skeptical at first but has conceded that "yes, the bailouts were a good idea," adding that without them, "we would have had many more failed banks, very strong deflationary pressures, a stronger seize-up in credit markets than what we had, and a climate of sheer political and economic panic."
A libertarian who's also an economist even admits it was a good idea, leaving confused looks on the faces of a lot of people holding teabags. But now Utah won't have to worry about any more good ideas getting voted for, Lee or Bridgewater will make sure of that.

Friday, May 7, 2010

DeMint's Fence

Since he can't afford to say "I'm with Wall Street," DeMint is pulling an old trick out of his hat to derail the financial regulation bill:

Today, DeMint announced that he will attach an amendment to the financial reform bill requiring the completion of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border within one year. DeMint justified introducing an amendment that has nothing to do with financial regulation by stating that “It’s time we completed the fence and secured our borders to protect American citizens.”

This isn’t the first time DeMint has brought up the border fence to drive a wedge into a bill that he doesn’t like. Last summer, DeMint joined a group of Republican senators who swamped the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) $42.9 billion appropriations bill with a series of immigration enforcement-only amendments. DeMint’s latest amendment is virtually identical to the one he proposed in July. Despite the fact that it was approved, DeMint’s DHS amendment was stripped from the final bill last summer after seven border state congressmen asked the House leadership to do so.

Research has found that the border fence is more successful at keeping undocumented immigrants in the U.S. than in persuading them to not come in the first place. U.S. government investigators have additionally indicated that it will cost taxpayers $6.5 billion over the next 20 years to maintain the fencing already in place and the Congressional Research Service estimated in 2007 that building and maintaining a double set of steel fences along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border would add up to $49 billion over the expected 25-year life span of the fence.

The reason the border fence hasn’t been completed is because DHS officials believe those billions of dollars would be better spent on more effective security measures
Two lessons here.  One: DeMint is with Wall Street.  Two:  Even the nations wingnuttiest legislators realize the border fence is pointless, futile, an crazy enough to derail a bill they don't want to see pass.

Pessimism at the Polls

290,000 jobs in April, and Boehner is is disappointed. He has to be. He voted against the legislation creating the jobs. Democrats are in a tough position on this one because it's hard to argue against the "something else would've worked better" message from GOP leadership. Basically it's an age old economic philosophy argument which will never be resolved, due to the speculative nature of economic response to crisis. But from an electoral point of view, Democrats have the upper hand. TWI explains:

For all the ambiguities surrounding last year’s stimulus bill — was it enough? where will the money go? would it be spent fast enough? — this much was crystal clear: Republicans, once they’d voted unanimously against the bill, were going to criticize the results no matter what they were. (Boehner’s statement today is evidence of that trend.)

But the strategy also leaves Republicans in the uncomfortable position of rooting against the economic recovery for political ends. Leaves you wondering how well that pessimism will play at the polls if the recovery continues to pick up.
Whether you feel the stimulus should've been larger (as I do), or that it shouldn't have happened at all (as Boehner et all do), the electoral reality remains: arguing against economic improvements isn't going to win voters over to your side. It's the uncomfortable paradox the GOP will continue to find themselves in as long as they stand for nothing more than opposition.

If you're offering no more than that, any improvement or uptick or slightest increase in public confidence belongs to the party doing things, and works against the party just dragging their feet like petulant children.

I'd wager reports of the GOP takeover in 2010 were (as expected) greatly exaggerated.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What happens to Tenthers when real crisis hits?

Well, they go askin' for a hand-out from the evil/tryanical/unconstitutional Federal government they hates ever so much, of course...

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has been a vocal critic of federal spending under President Obama, but as the state closest to the undersea leak, he already has requested various forms of federal disaster assistance. He's also anticipating the possibility that British Petroleum either won't, or won't have to under the law, foot the the full cost of all the damages associated with the spill.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) took a swipe at Jindal when I asked during a brief interview this week if Congress was considering any funding to add to what BP will do. "Well you know, here we go. You know, the governor of Louisiana says the federal government should stay out of the state's business," Menendez told me Tuesday night. Jindal's office said they would respond but haven't yet gotten back to me. We'll update if they do.
Were I in the deciding committee's shoes, I confess I'm immature enough I'd be very tempted to say "You know what, Bobby, why don't you just handle this one yourself... I mean we represent the Federal Government, what do we know, right?"

This is just a good lesson for those who believe every state could flourish in a Fairy-tale Land of Constitution-ville led by the Carl Wimmers and Mike Lees of the world. The federal money is like a giant risk pool when crisis comes along. Utah cashes every federal check it can get every serious drought that hits.

Balance is one thing, but the anti-Fed mentality many buy into, and many hope to capitalize on for political gain walks all over itself so many times in the space of a month, I can't do much but laugh. It's not that a conversation about state vs. federal power isn't valuable. It's that these folks have taken the idea so far to the extreme that you'd think every state would actually be better off without any federal influence. Here in Utah, it's quickly become less of a conversation and more of a dogma, bordering on religious zealotry. I've even heard several arguments recently for the complete defunding of higher education research (Mike Lee) and the FDA (Crazy Republican on the bus) just so that a few of these zealots can complete their ideological agenda.

Obviously, this issue is a wee bit more nuanced than "states rights" advocates either understand themselves, or are willing to discuss until you've voted.

Miranda

Holder is out swinging this week.

Appearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Holder confirmed that the suspected Time Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was providing useful information to interrogators despite being read his Miranda rights early in the interrogation.

"It did not" deter our investigation, Holder said of the reading of Miranda rights to Shahzad. "As we have seen in prior investigations, the giving of Miranda warnings has not deterred people from talking to us and Mr. Shahzad is, in fact, continuing to cooperate with us."

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Senate Justice Committee, pressed Holder to respond to predominantly Republican critics, who insist that by reading Shahzad his Miranda warnings, interrogators have granted him special privileges and invited him to clam up.

"It is not conferring a right on somebody or giving them -- treating them in a special way," Holder said. "It is allowing us to make sure statements they give to us will be admissible in court." The Attorney General then went through a list of terrorist suspects who were given the Miranda warnings "and still ultimately decided to speak with the government."

Holder's strongest pushback, however, came against those critics who have urged him to abandon efforts to try terrorist suspects in criminal courts instead of military tribunals.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

VIDEO: US Senate Candidates Sam Granato and Christopher Stout (Weber County)

US Senate candidates Sam Granato and Christopher Stout speaking at the Weber County Democratic Convention on April 10th (yeah I'm slow getting the rest of these up... I'm easily distracted).

Stout:



Granato:

VIDEO: Corroon's Lt. Governor Announcement with Rep. Sheryl Allen (Logan, UT)

Mayor Corroon and GOP Rep. Sheryl Allen at Corroon's Lt. Governor candidate announcement at the historic court house in Cache Valley.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Corroon/Allen: Ideas Ahead of Ideology

Corroon introduces his running mate, Republican Rep. Sheryl Allen. (h/t Bob Aagard)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Employment Matters More Than Deficits

That's what I'm learning at the Fiscal Sustainability Counter Conference.

Audio and slide shows from just one of many sessions.