Keeping In Touch with politics and other issues in Central Virginia .....The Virginia 22nd Senate District and The 6th Congressional District......Vote Democratic for a Better Future....Protect Your Benefits

Democratic Committee Meeting

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Economic FUBAR

President Obama inherited a terrible mess: a $1.3 trillion deficit, two wars, rising unemployment (8%) and unprecedented crises in our banking system.    That was 18 Months ago.   

 A rapidly weakening economy threatens to undermine President Obama's assertion that he has set the nation on a path to prosperity and, with barely two months until congressional midterm elections, Democrats find themselves with few options for reviving the faltering recovery.

The latest sign that the economy is losing steam:  Home sales fell 27 percent in July, the steepest one-month drop since figures were first compiled in 1968, according to a report released Tuesday (August 24).     Analysts had expected sales to decline following the expiration of a federal tax credit for homebuyers this spring, but the drop was nearly twice as large as forecast.

The housing report punctuated a wave of bad news that has been building all summer.    The number of jobless claims has risen in each of the past four weeks and last week hit its highest point in nine months.    Private-sector job creation is trending well below the level needed to keep up with population growth.    Retail sales have also been disappointing.

Economists generally do not expect a dip back into recession, although many say the risk has grown with each new piece of disheartening data.

Obama and congressional Democrats have been working frenetically to counter the trend, winning a series of relatively small initiatives to extend unemployment benefits, avert state layoffs and cut taxes for firms that hire unemployed workers.

But with the budget deficit soaring and polls showing deep skepticism about the impact of Obama's economic policies, even many Democrats are reluctant to support additional spending on the economy.    That has left Obama with few alternatives for improving the trajectory of the recovery and reducing a stubbornly high jobless rate, which was stuck in July at 9.5 percent.

"They have played their policy hand, and they've got to hope it's good enough," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics who has been advising congressional Democrats.    Given the political environment, he said, "there's nothing they can do to make a significant difference in the next six months, or even a year."

Republicans quickly sought Tuesday to capitalize on the gloomy news.    Addressing the City Club of Cleveland, House GOP Leader John Boehner (Ohio) blamed Obama for "an economy stalled by 'stimulus' spending and hamstrung by uncertainty."     Casting the the November election as a referendum on Obama's "discredited" policies, Boehner urged the president to fire his entire economic team, starting with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

"The American people are asking 'where are the jobs?' and all the president's economic team has to offer are promises of 'green shoots' that never seem to grow," Boehner said.    Noting that Obama's budget director and chief economist have already announced their resignations, Boehner said Obama "should ask for - and accept - the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team," including Geithner and Lawrence Summers, head of the National Economic Council.

Boehner offered few ideas for turning the economy around.   House Republicans have not released a detailed economic agenda, and Boehner's speech - delivered amid a bus tour of battleground House districts in Rust Belt states - did little to expand on the GOP's long-standing platform of lower taxes and less federal regulation.

Vice President Biden, who stood in for a vacationing Obama, derided Boehner's economic plan as a rehash of the laissez-faire policies the led the country to the brink of a financial meltdown in the final days of the Bush administration.    "Mr. Boehner is nostalgic for those good old days, but Americans are not," Biden said during an event called to showcase the success of last year's $814 billion stimulus package.

His voice dripping with sarcasm, Biden also thanked Boehner for suggesting that the president fire his top economic advisers.    "Very constructive advice," he said, "and we thank the leader for that."

Later, White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton defended Geithner and Summers, calling them "the people who made the tough decisions, who did the hard work to get the economy going again."

As recently as this spring, the U.S. economic recovery appeared to be accelerating. Many economists gave credit to the stimulus package and the $700 billion bailout of the banking system proposed by Bush and carried out by Obama.

On Tuesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office affirmed that view of the stimulus package, estimating that it added as many as 3.3 million jobs to the economy during the second quarter of this year and may have prevented the nation from lapsing into recession.     The CBO also said the package will cost about $814 billion through 2019 - less than the $862 billion previously estimated.

But momentum is fading fast. On Friday, the Commerce Department will revise its estimate of second quarter economic growth.    Forecasters expect gross domestic product to have risen at a 1.4 percent annual rate during the April through June quarter - far below the 2.4 percent rate first estimated and below the 2.5 to 3 percent level at which the U.S. economy should expand based solely on population growth and increased productivity.

Instead of gaining ground in the second quarter, the United States economy lost ground.

While many private and government forecasters still agree that growth will return to about 2.5 percent for the second half of the year, that consensus could soon change if the economy continues to deteriorate.    And even a 3 percent growth rate is not strong enough to significantly bring down unemployment.

White House economist Jared Bernstein said the administration is "by no means out of bullets."    He cited billions of dollars that have yet to be spent from last year's stimulus package and ticked off a list of policies the White House is pursuing, including a measure designed to encourage hiring by small businesses that has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate.    Democratic leaders in the Senate say they hope to push the bill to final passage when
Congress returns after Labor Day.     Congress should stay in session working 6 days a week with no vacations or holidays until the problems are solved.

Obama is also pressing for tax rebates for homeowners who invest in renewable energy projects and other green renovations, as well as for an extension of an existing tax credit for manufacturers of solar panels, wind turbines and other clean-energy equipment.

"We're continuously promoting the most effective ways to create the most jobs, and our agenda is demonstrably working to achieve that goal," Bernstein said.    "The Recovery Act contributed to the turnaround from horrifying negatives to positives, and that's the momentum we are trying to build on."

He acknowledged that Congress had not approved all the stimulus money Obama had sought.    But, he said, "In the world we live in, we're doing everything we can to create the conditions for greater job growth in key sectors of the economy." 

If republicans are blocking measures needed to get people back to work or otherwise heal the economy the President should mount his soapbox and inform America of the republican roadblock.    If spineless democrats are blocking progress the President should inform the American public of that also.   The President has the soapbox but shows no interest in using it to whip his opposition into shape.  

The Senate has become non functional and useless, they do nothing except run for reelection.     They seem to have a desire to remain in the Senate until they die drawing the pay and benefits for nothing.     This FUBAR needs to be eliminated.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dummest Quitters Excuse Ever

Amherst County Virginia Democratic News Presents
Dr. Laura and the Dummest Quitters Excuse Ever

Dr Laura Plays the Victum Card as large advertizers desert her sinking radio show and the republican half term gov and ultimate top quitter Sarah Palin tells her not to retreat but to to reload.    Dr Laura spread her filth on 200 radio stations coast to coast and her audience and sponsors objected to her conduct and she cries that her first amendment rights are being restrained.    The people have rejected this foul mouthed woman.    Dr Laura is almost as crazy as Palin.    The following comes from Taylor Marsh and starts with a direct quote from Dr Laura.

“I want to regain my First Amendment rights,” she said.   “I want to be able to say what’s on my mind and in my heart and what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is the time to silence a voice of dissent and attack affiliates, attack sponsors.     I’m sort of done with that.” Dr. Laura Schlessinger to End Radio Show.
(Come on Dr Laura.    You made a fool of yourself talking to one of your listeners not with a special interest group trying to silence you.     Your sponsors ran away from you because you came across as a bigoted fool doing a Lenny Bruce Bit from the 1950's.)

The lady wants to be free to be as bad as her toxic self can be, free to hurl “n” word invectives into the void without being called on her vile agenda while she does it.    Good riddance.    Her departure cannot come soon enough.

The decaying medium of wingnut radio has shed one of its most toxic voices.    After an “n” word blizzard, Dr. Laura is calling it quits when her contract ends later this year.    Like Sarah Palin, who finally admitted to Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller that she just couldn’t take the media pressure, Schlessinger is running as fast as she can off the radio stage.

“This is the era of the Internet,” Dr. Laura admitted on Larry King’s show last night.     A sign that whatever talk radio is today it’s long past its zenith and on the decline.

Readying to move onward, the worst “advice” talker on radio has finally been revealed for what she is.     Another toxic gasbag who is lauded for opinions that have been foundational to our moralistic June Cleaverism, which should have died out with the turn of the century.

Having been tangentially involved back in the ’90s in opposing Dr. Laura’s TV show, when John Aravosis and I first crossed paths on this campaign, though we didn’t know it until years later, I took on Dr. Laura in my writings back then.    Her anti-gay tirades and moralistic judgments on women as insulting as the “n” word monologue that caused her demise on radio.

This leads me to another development, this one regarding WND, who has dis-invited Ann Coulter as keynote speaker because she’s headlining “Homocon.”     It’s quite a conservative collision amidst confusion that reveals the dying power of the toxic right-wing branch of the Republican Party, which doesn’t know which way to turn to stay relevant.

Don’t look now, but between the wacky Tea Party candidates and Sarah Palin, Laura leaving while Ann Coulter stands beside gay Republicans, the spineless Democratic elite and a diminished Pres. Obama, all of whom are facing a restless populace, out of these conflicts a new political landscape is going to eventually emerge.    I truly hope part of it includes a vibrant Independent political wing, organized or not and wider than Crist and Bloomberg, to challenge the lumbering, corrupt big two parties.

Part of the shift will manifest this November when quite a few toxic Blue Dog Democrats are going to be defeated by card carrying Republicans, but like it or not, Tea Party candidates, no matter how few, will be part of the mix.     Losing Blue Dogs would be a very good sign for the Democratic Party for reasons too numerable to mention.     You movement progressives out there please opine in the comments, because I’m sure you have a lot to say on this issue.

Rep. Henry Waxman certainly did recently, though he was also cajoled into walking it back, though the verdict had already been laid.      “I think a lot of the House seats we’re going to lose are those who have been the toughest for the Democrats to pull into line– the Democrats that have been the most difficult,”    Waxman said. – Via Howie Klein

As an aside, the mosque fury is now pitting Republicans against their Tea Party wing, which is causing quite a fight, with so called mainstream Republicans (both of them) seeing an opening to reclaim conservatism from the way out Right.     Activist wingnuts, however, are looking to use it for short-term 2010 gain.

Dr. Laura’s departure from wingnut radio leaves many other strident personalities left to rant their hatred, but any time we lose one this big it’s a sign that the decaying medium is losing out, as Dr. Laura admitted, to the era of the Internet where truth at least can be found if you search.

by Taylor Marsh who works out of DC

Now if we can find a couple of hundred spines that will fit Democrats it all might work out ok.    ACVDN

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fox Donates $1 Million to RGA

Fox News Donates $1 Million To Republican Governors Association   ACVDN

Now in addition to 24 hour a day, 7 day a week attacks on President Obama and the Democrats Fox seals the deal with the republican party and removes the little remaining doubt that Fox is the Media Arm of the GOP.

There's no hiding or denying it any longer, there is no fair and balanced, Fox is the media arm of the republican party and no longer needs to be treated with the respect due a news organization. Fox is a propoganda outlet for the GOP and nothing more. After all these years Fox comes out of the closet.

News America Inc. the parent company of Fox News has further confirmed their conservative stance and donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.

Fox News, which is the home to conservative commentators like Bill O' Reilly and Sean Hannity, has always been a staunch supporter of the Republican Party.

This donation from News America has allowed the group to double its fund raising for the second quarter of the year.    Filings show that the RGA raised $58 million between Jan. 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010. The Democratic Governors Association raised $40 million during the same period.

News America Inc., the parent company of Fox News is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's media conglomerate News Corp.

Hypocrisy at its worst, it is a sad day for all who believe that an independent and impartial media is vital to our democracy.     Fox and republicans are willing to destroy the American system of Media fairness to aid their political ambitions.     Any way you measure it republicans and Rupert Murdoch enjoy a bottom feeders view of life.
Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Wedge Issues and Anchor Babies

The New York City Mosque and Anchor Babies

First of all, wedge issues are emotional in appeal.    They bypass the cognitive function of the brain and go right to a subconscious emotional response.     Name any Republican wedge issue from immigration, to abortion, to gay marriage, to flag burning -- not to mention the granddaddy of them all:    "the war on terrorism" and FEAR -- and you run head into an emotional, not a reasoned, hook.

In short, the Republicans are tremendously skilled at employing the art of the demagogue to get Americans -- around half at any given time -- to avoid reasoned discussion of public policy.    They do this by appealing to emotional, instinctual reactions that are not processed through a thoughtful process.    It's called pressing a hot button.

Second of all, the Republicans use wedge issues to, essentially, pickpocket the American public and dismantle the American government.

While they have the public and the media distracted with red hot emotional topics, they go off and make the wealthy wealthier, increase our national debt, dismantle the Constitution, and take away government social services.     Wedge issues are a powerful distraction -- and allow the right wing to accomplish their goals while the public is preoccupied with some trumped up emotional issue that the Busheviks could care less about.

Finally, wedge issues are a tremendous fundraising tool for the right wing.     In fact, the campaigns of right wing candidates were financed by the money generated by right wing wedge issue direct mail.     Richard Viguerie was the guru who started the direct mail juggernaut for GOP candidates -- and organizations -- and he's still going strong.     It shouldn't be forgotten that Rove came to the fore in Texas politics as a direct mail consultant.

In short, wedge issues that press the hot buttons of right wing donors sell big time.    We heard Viguerie speak recently and he referred to "pre-sold" wedge issues.    In essence, these are topics like "gay marriage," "abortion," and "war on terror" that you include in the first sentence of a GOP direct mail piece and you are guaranteed a good response because they have such visceral impact on Stepford GOP followers.

Progressives and Democrats have far fewer "pre-sold" appeals -- except for the mention of Bush and Cheney -- because progressives and Democrats think more before acting.     That may sound snobbish, but it's true from a direct mail perspective.

Basically, the Republican "rule by emotional appeal" boils down to a big brother elitism whose message to Americans is simply this: "Don't think. We'll do the thinking for you. Just follow."

 Thanks to Eleanor Clift and Newsweek for the following.

If the voters fault President Obama for dropping the ball on job creation and spending too much time on passing health-care and financial-services reform, what will they make of Republican efforts to gin up a debate about the 14th Amendment and the constitutionality of awarding citizenship to babies born on American soil to illegal immigrants?     Feckless is the word that comes to mind.     With voters wanting elected leaders to chart a path out of the economic doldrums, an effort to inflame passions about so-called anchor babies looks like another one of those wedge issues that Republicans are so good at finding every election season.

At a breakfast with Republican leader Mitch McConnell organized by The Christian Science Monitor, the issue of the GOP’s intentions came up in an exchange with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Cynthia Tucker, who prefaced her question by noting that she grew up in Alabama in the era of Jim Crow and that African-Americans view the 14th Amendment’s extension of equal-rights protection as the Republicans’ greatest achievement.     With Republicans talking about congressional hearings to examine the 14th Amendment, Tucker wanted to know if the debate would end there, or do hearings suggest there is something wrong with the amendment that must be addressed?

McConnell defended the idea of holding hearings to examine what he called “a burgeoning and unseemly business” of illegal immigrants flying to the United States to give birth and then getting back on the plane confident their newborn is a U.S. citizen.     There is an industry of travel agencies and hotel chains catering to “baby tourists,” according to a report on ABC, but they cater to high-end moms with packages that cost $45,000, and they don’t constitute a widespread or worrisome phenomenon.     If these babies are meant to anchor a spot in the U.S. for their parents, the child would first have to reach age 21, which is really planning ahead.     These aren’t the folks Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham and others who first raised this issue have in mind.

They’re aiming their divisive rhetoric at the babies born to illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico, who are already in the country and whose children are American citizens, thanks to the 14th Amendment.     It is the latest iteration of the anti-Hispanic sentiment that has gotten the GOP into political trouble in California and elsewhere with this fastest-growing segment of the population.     It also speaks volumes about what the GOP thinks of its prospects for getting African-American votes, since the 14th Amendment is sacrosanct to them.

Narrowing the discussion to “birth tourists” is McConnell’s effort to pull his party back from the precipice where Republicans further alienate Hispanic voters.     This is “base talk,” says Simon Rosenberg, an immigration expert with NDN, the New Democrat Network.     Republican primary voters care a lot about immigration, but it’s not a voting issue for the broader public in an election where jobs are the priority.      Besides, he says, Republicans are already so motivated to vote this November “it’s like pouring a gallon of fuel on a massive fire.”

McConnell in person comes across as far more reasonable and analytical than the pursed-lipped leader of the Party of No who appears on television.     When he mentioned that he had met with President Obama on Wednesday at the White House to discuss possible areas of agreement, a reporter asked why it took so long for the two men to get together.     McConnell pointed out that when Obama took office he was sitting on 70 percent approval, a 40-seat House majority, and he was on his way to 60 votes in the Senate.     “He felt he didn’t need us, and I don’t fault him for that,” McConnell said. But with Republicans poised to pick up a significant number of seats in November, there will be a midcourse correction, he said.     “The president is a really smart guy, and he figures he’s going to see a lot more of me,” McConnell smiled, anticipating a Senate more evenly balanced, perhaps 55 to 45 instead of the current 59 to 41.

If Obama wants to pass anything, he’ll have to strike bipartisan deals that are center-right, McConnell said, adding that he hopes Obama will become a “born-again moderate” in the mold of President Clinton after Democrats lost the House and Senate in ’94, prompting Clinton to declare in January ’95, “The era of big government is over.”     Areas of agreement McConnell said he discussed with Obama are enough to make liberals wonder who’s really president: trade deals with Colombia, Panama, and Peru; nuclear power; electrification of cars and trucks (that one’s OK); and of course, that golden oldie, keeping the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of wage earners in place.

What about immigration reform?     Except for more border security, the debate is frozen, McConnell said.    And good thing too, because hearings on possible abuses of the 14th Amendment really don’t fit the GOP message for the midterm election, which McConnell sums up as spending, debt, and big-government takeovers.     He knows Republicans stand to lose far more than they can gain if they get swept up in an effort to disenfranchise babies.
Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy 75th to Social Security

ACVDN says Happy Birthday and watch your back.
On August 14th Social Security was 75 years old
and for 75 years republicans have tried to kill it.

Here are two numbers that should warm the heart of anyone who wants to end sectarian bickering and build a bipartisan consensus for change:

68% of likely voters polled believe that we should not cut Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit.

60% of Republicans agree.

These figures are from a new poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner on behalf of the Campaign for America's Future and DemocracyCorps, with support from    They tell us that the Democrats have a winning issue for November's elections. All they have to do is strongly reaffirm the President's campaign pledges for Social Security.

As Robert Borosage explains, the poll shows overwhelming support for a progressive political agenda not unlike the one described by President Obama last year as a "New Foundation" for growth. There are those who have suggested that the Democrats should downplay progressive policies, because only 20% of people polled describe themselves as "liberals."    But these numbers show that there's overwhelming support, often even among Republicans, for policies that are typically labelled "progressive."    It turns out that the new political truism is correct:  When it comes to good economic policy, the old labels of "left" and "right" don't apply.

We'll focus on Social Security here. A recent AARP poll echoed Greenberg's findings:  Voters strongly oppose Social Security cuts, and all segments (including younger voters) would rather pay more in taxes to protect their benefits.    Democrats are sending a decidedly mixed message on this hot-button issue, and these poll findings show them a way forward.    If the President reiterates his campaign promises -- lift the payroll tax cap, with no benefit cuts -- and if House and Senate candidates do the same, that could put them on the road to political recovery.

Voters across the board believe that Social Security and Medicare benefit cuts should not be used to balance the budget.    65% of voters polled support lifting the cap on Social Security payroll taxes (which currently apply to the first $106,000+ of income) rather than cutting benefits, while an equal number (65%) oppose increasing the Medicare eligibility age for 65 to 67.

Voters also oppose increasing the Social Security retirement age, yet John Boehner floated the idea of raising it to 70.    And he's not the only Republican on the anti-Social Security warpath:  Rep. Paul Ryan's alternative economic plan would slash benefits from 16% to 28% long-term, while Dick Armey and a host of other Republicans are pushing for privatization plans that would cut guaranteed benefits.

You'd think this would be a winning issue for Democrats.    Nancy Pelosi apparently agrees, since House Dems have made Social Security a core campaign theme for House Dems this year.    The GOP assault on Social Security may help explain why, despite a terrible economy and the anti-incumbent trend for off-year elections, the Republicans aren't getting much traction with voters. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll suggests that, in Ezra Klein's words, "voters don't like anyone."    Their enthusiasm for both parties is low.    They disapprove of the President by 48% to 47%, but -- in an intriguing finding -- 58% say he's doing about as well as expected and 12% say he's doing better than expected.

The implication of the NBC/WSJ poll is that voters don't believe that anybody in Washington is representing them.     That's understandable:   The Greenberg poll shows widespread hostility toward Social Security benefit cuts, yet virtually everybody in one party wants to cut them while the other party is sending mixed messages.

Speaker Pelosi has been trying to pull her party in the right direction.    She made a good statement when the annual Trustees Report was released, and her comments at Netroots Nation were powerful and effective:  "When you talk about reducing the deficit and Social Security, you're talking about apples and oranges."    Yet her statement last month on the topic seemed a bit more ambiguous: "We remain dedicated, in FDR's words, to providing 'some measure of protection' to our workers for the long term."

And, at the same time, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer has been strenuously undercutting the Speaker's position on this issue. He's been saying things like "everything needs to be on the table" in Social Security discussions.

Raising the eligibility age is a benefit reduction -- as Dean Baker explains, raising the retirement age to 70 would be a 15% benefit cut.    Yet Hoyer continues to express sympathy for the idea, and has even goes so far as to express openness to privatizing the plan (which would have left many seniors destitute if Bush had succeeded in implementing it in 2005).

The Greenberg poll suggests that beleaguered Congressional Democrats would benefit from defending Social Security, and in Shermanesque terms.     Rep. Earl Pomeroy, Chair of the Social Security Subcommittee, offers a good example of how it can be done.    "Even a phased-in adjustment in the age would change the terms of the deal," says Pomeroy.    "That is completely unacceptable... it would be a breach of faith with 53 million present ...... recipients and tens of millions to follow."     That message will resonate strongly with Congressional voters this fall -- including Republicans and independents.     More Dems should follow Pomeroy's lead.

The President's has an ambiguity problem on this issue, too.    His Deficit Commission has become a political liability for him, since its chairs persist in sending the signal that Social Security cuts are on the table for them -- and therefore implicitly for the President.

Even more "moderate" Commission members are stoking fears about the program while taking Candidate Obama's preferred solution -- raising the tax cap -- off the table.

The President himself was explicit about his intentions for Social Security during the campaign.    He called for lifting the cap on payroll taxes, which would solve Social Security's (relatively minor) financial problems for the foreseeable future, and explicitly rejected either benefit cuts or raising the retirement age.    These new poll
results show he got it exactly right.

Social Security offers an opportunity for Democrats to persuade swing voters while at the same time reassuring and pleasing their base.    Robert Gibbs' "professional left" controversy led to him to make the comment, presumably on behalf of the White House, that liberals in Obama's base will show up to vote in 2010.    But will they?    While Democrats still approve of the President by a vast majority, Gallup's tracking polls for the last nine months show
him slipping from a high point of 87% to 80%, a 7-point drop.

Approval among self-described liberals, a core Obama constituency, has slipped from a high of 80% to the current 72%. 71% of Democrats oppose raising the retirement age to 70, while 65% want to see the payroll cap raised - and the vast majority of those who hold these opinions feel "strongly" about it.

Imagine:  Politicians can energize and reinforce their base, while at the same time attracting indepentents and persuadable members of the other party -- using the same issue.    It's like a gift from the gods.    All it takes to accept that gift is firmness and clarity.

Senate Democrats met recently to reinforce their campaign strategy against the Republicans:   "Contrast, contrast, contrast."    They were handed pocket cards that highlighted their talking points: "Democrats are on the side of the middle class."    The ideal way to support their strategy, and their party's overall goals, is by defending Social Security - clearly, unequivocally, and forcefully.

That's the political dimension of this issue.    But the best news of all is this:   It's good policy, too.

Richard (RJ) Eskow, a consultant, writer and a Senior Fellow with the Campaign for America's Future.    This post was produced as part of the Strengthen Social Security campaign.
Amherst County Virginia Democratic News

Suprises For The Mid Terms

Everyone knows the Democratic Party is unpopular and that it stands to lose a substantial number of House and Senate seats come November, perhaps even control of one or both chambers.

But in fact, the public thinks worse of the Republicans, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.    The poll shows 24 percent of Americans view the Republican Party positively, an all-time low in the poll’s 21-year history.    That compares with a 33 percent positive rating for the Democrats.     The negative ratings are comparable – 46 percent unfavorable for the Republicans, 44 percent for the Democrats.

Those numbers do not foretell major losses for the Republican incumbents.     Generalized unhappiness with the GOP does not necessarily mean discontent with one’s member of Congress.     Most important, the Democrats control both Congress and the White House, and voters will take out their frustration over the state of the country on them. In particular, a well-documented enthusiasm gap, demonstrated most recently in Tuesday’s higher turnout numbers for Republicans over Democrats in the primaries, means GOP voters are more motivated to go out and vote against Democrats than Democrats are to support their own party.

The 'short fuse' electorate

But these numbers present a warning to Republicans:  Voters may support them in November and give them big gains, but if they don’t deliver, they could be in trouble.    This is particularly so if the Republicans take over at least the House and don’t accomplish much, they could be short-timers.     After all, it’s only been three-plus years since the Democrats took over both houses of Congress, and the pendulum has already swung sharply in the opposite direction.

“The public’s on a really short fuse nowadays,” says Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.    “And it’s because times are bad. We’re at war, the economy is terrible.”

Democratic pollster Peter Hart, codirector of the NBC/WSJ poll, calls it a “JetBlue election.”     “Everyone is frustrated,” Mr. Hart told NBC.    “And everyone is headed for the emergency exit.”

A GOP campaign agenda: Does it matter?

Congressional Republicans have yet to come out with a policy agenda to run on in the November midterms, but they are promising to do so next month.     For now, they’re on a listening tour.

But Mr. Schier isn’t sure a 2010 version of the Contract With America – the GOP’s list of 10 action items released in the run-up to their successful 1994 takeover of Congress – will have much lasting impact for the Republicans.     Even in 1994, most voters weren’t aware of the Contract when they handed the Republicans a 53-seat gain and control of the House.

An agenda for 2010 “could help them short-term in the cycle, if the specifics are well received, and certain candidates use them as a message in certain districts successfully,” says Schier.     But, he adds, there’s little Republicans can do about their brand until they have a presidential candidate.

In a bit of hopeful news for the Democrats, the NBC/WSJ poll shows that the public generically prefers congressional Republicans over Democrats only in the South, where it’s 52 percent to 31 percent. In the Northeast, the Democrats lead 55-30.     In the Midwest, they lead 49-38.     And in the West, they’re up by one, 44-43.

“Yet do keep this caveat in mind,” says the analysis on     “Many of the congressional districts Republicans are targeting outside of the South resemble some of those Southern districts they're hoping to win back in November – where you have whiter and older voters.”

The conventional wisdom on the midterm elections has been that the House is vulnerable to a Republican takeover, but the Senate?     Not so much.

It’s still true that the Republicans have an easier path to a House takeover, with so many Democratic-held seats in play.     But with strong challenges emerging against two Senate Democratic incumbents previously seen as safe – Patty Murray of Washington and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin – and the national atmospherics heavily favoring the Republicans,  Democrats increasingly have their work cut out for them to save control even of the Senate.

Add to that the possibility that one or even two senators currently in the Democratic column could flip to the Republican side if the GOP gets close to a takeover on Nov. 2.     Let’s say the Republicans make a net gain of nine seats – one short of the 10 they need for a majority.      Speculation will then immediately turn to Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a conservative Democrat from a red state who sometimes sides with the Republicans.     Less likely but still conceivable as a party-switcher is Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats but is seen by some Democrats as not completely with the team.

If the Republicans get close to a majority and offer one or both of these senators a committee chairmanship, that could sweeten the deal.

“So you’ve got two on the Democratic side you’ve got to worry about,” says Peter Fenn, a Democratic communications strategist.

Senator Lieberman already chairs a committee for the Democrats – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – but in politics, there are no guarantees.      The Democrats still have to wonder if they might lose him under certain circumstances.

What’s more, it’s looking increasingly possible, though still not likely, that the Republicans could take over the Senate without the help of party-switchers.     In the event of a tsunami-size wave of voter discontent, the Democrats’ large majorities in both houses – 59 to 41 in the Senate, 256 to 178 (and one vacancy) in the House – could easily be swept away.     Typically, Senate races are not as vulnerable to the national mood as House races, but in this cycle, Republicans believe they could be.

A survey by Republican pollster Glen Bolger released Tuesday shows that in 13 states with competitive Senate races, the Republican candidates are leading on average by a margin of 47 to 39 percent.    Candidates’ names were used in the poll (except in the few states with primaries pending), so it was not a generic test. In the eight seats currently held by Democrats – Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington –the Republican leads by an average of seven percentage points.      In the five Republican seats – Florida, Kentucky,

Missouri, New Hampshire, and Ohio – the GOP lead is eight points.

The poll was commissioned by American Crossroads, an outside Republican group that is fundraising to help GOP candidates.

“Senate races across the country appear to be drawn into the same national vortex that is impacting House races, as an earlier battleground survey that was conducted by Glen Bolger and others demonstrated fairly clearly back in June,” Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, said in a conference call Tuesday.

With 1,300 voters surveyed across 13 states, the sample size was not large enough for individual state results to hold credibility.     But the larger trend in favor of Republicans taken as a whole is unmistakable.     Independents are backing Republicans in these 13 states by a margin of 47 to 25 percent.     And in a sign of a significant enthusiasm gap, “high-intensity voters” support Republicans by a 52-to-36 margin.

Still, there are almost three months to go before Election Day.     The national mood is not likely to change, but developments could alter the dynamic in individual races.      And Republicans are guarded about not raising expectations to unreasonably high levels, in which anything less than a full takeover of both houses of Congress is seen as a failure.

“A Senate takeover is just a possibility, it’s not a given,” said Mr. Law.

By Linda Feldmann

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Regulation Made Canada Fat and Happy

Thanks to Froma Harrop for this article.

Suppose the U.S. government had posted a budget surplus in 12 of the past 13 years.    Suppose not a single major American financial institution had failed or needed a government bailout.    Suppose the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 6.1 percent in the first quarter of this year, rather than at 2.7 percent.

These cheering economic indicators happen to be reality in Canada. They did not come about because Canadians are more virtuous or they don't have subprime mortgages (they do) or they didn't keep interest rates very low (their rates were much like ours).    What Canada had was a civic culture that wanted government to regulate financial activity.

What we have is an elite willing to risk everyone else's economic security to enable a few hotshots to win big at the casino of recklessness and fraud -- while maintaining a variety of taxpayer backstops to reduce their risks.    The joint never gets closed, also thanks to the large numbers of ordinary citizens trained to holler "socialism" every time the government tries to set a ground rule.    A satanic belief in the rightness of free markets to punish the unsophisticated almost halted the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Canada has long had its Financial Consumer Agency, which stops the craziest of lending practices.    Canada regulates mortgage terms so that borrowers -- be they greedy, reckless or plain suckers -- are less likely to crumple when, sometime down the road, an interest rate jumps.

Yell all you want about Americans who borrowed beyond their means.    Canada had rules that stopped people from borrowing beyond their means.    As a result, Canada was spared a U.S.-style housing bubble, which was fed in part by the ability of little people to borrow big and use the money to bid up home prices.

By the way, Canadian home prices rose almost 14 percent in May from a year earlier.    And the World Economic Forum now ranks Canada's banking system the safest on earth.

There are differences in the two countries' situations that do give Canada an advantage.    One is Canada's enormous wealth of natural resources, especially oil.    Another is the United States' role as keeper of global security -- a job that other countries are all-too-pleased to give us.    This greatly cuts the amount Canada must spend on its defense.

But Canada's smart government regulation is its own creation.    That may make it harder for a few financial wizards to score a quick fortune, but it keeps the economy on an even keel. Merchants, manufacturers and other economic players don't have their customers hauling off huge cartloads of stuff one year and then filing for bankruptcy the next.    They can plan for the future.

Canada's health-care system likewise makes budgeting for operating expenses far more predictable for employers.    The Canadian single-payer system is not my health-care ideal.    I prefer the multi-payer setup in France -- or the emerging American health-care system, if the reforms can control costs.    But the vast majority of Canadians are content with their medical care.

So how are Canadian businesses doing these days relative to ours? It's true that the Standard & Poor's index of 500 large U.S. companies has done pretty well this year.    But the Toronto exchange's index of large-cap Canadian stocks did 27 percent better.

Periodic booms and busts don't have to be Americans' fate.    Some people get very rich off them.    But for ordinary folk, slow and steady wins the race.    Support for letting government install some speed bumps to enhance their financial stability has left Canadians fat and happy.    We could live the same way.

By Froma Harrop

Changing The Constitution

The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States.    The Constitution is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government to the states, to citizens, and to all people within the United States.

The Constitution creates the three branches of the national government: a legislature, the bicameral Congress; an executive branch led by the President; and a judicial branch headed by the Supreme Court.    The Constitution specifies the powers and duties of each branch.    The Constitution reserves all unenumerated powers to the respective states and the people, thereby establishing the federal system of government.

The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in each U.S. state in the name of "The People".    The Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; the first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution holds a central place in United States law and political culture.    The handwritten original document penned by Jacob Shallus is on display at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.

Article V of the Constitution describes the process by which you amend the Constitution.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;  Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article;  and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Repealing an amendment to the constitution requires a whole new amendment, which requires ratification by the congress and 3/4 of states.    An amendment has been repealed only once – the 21st amendment repealed the 18th amendment, which had established the prohibition of alcohol.

When you hear politician talking about changing the constitution, rest assured that it is usually just political posturing.    

Isn’t it funny though that it is almost always Republican politicians advocating for a change in the constitution.    The party that calls themselves “strict constitutionalists” is also the party that is always calling for the constitution to be amended.

Whether its adding an amendment to ban gay marriage or repealing an amendment guaranteeing birthright citizenship, the constitution seems pretty malleable in Republican eyes.     It’s hard to ignore the hypocricy of it all when you have Senator Lindsey Graham saying that the 14th amendment should be repealed because 'times have changed and the way its being used today was surely not the intent of the original authors'.

The Fourteenth Amendment  (Amendment XIV)  to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868 as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.

Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which held that blacks could not be citizens of the United States.

Its Due Process Clause prohibits state and local governments from depriving people (individual and corporate) of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken. This clause has been used to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, as well as to recognize substantive rights and procedural rights.

Its Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. This clause later became the basis for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court decision which precipitated the dismantling of racial segregation in the United States.

The amendment also includes a number of clauses dealing with the Confederacy and its officials.

14th amendment

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Repealing an amendment to the constitution requires a whole new amendment, which requires ratification by the congress and 3/4 of states.    An amendment has been repealed only once – the 21st amendment repealed the 18th amendment, which had established the prohibition of alcohol.    Lindsey Graham is blowing smoke.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

3,800 Public School Teachers

Dear Amherst County Virginia Democrats

I want to thank the OFA supporters who stood with House Democrats as they raced back to Washington this week to cast a vote on a state assistance bill.    I'm proud to say they passed the bill yesterday and the President immediately signed it into law.

And, because of it, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be saved -- including an estimated 3,800 public school teachers across Virginia.

Republicans called this bill a "bailout" and a "handout."    They called the police officers, firefighters, and teachers whose jobs were on the line "special interests."    And nearly every House Republican voted no.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats did the right thing, reminding us again of what we're fighting for in the upcoming elections.    When voters cast their ballots in November, it's up to us to make sure they remember who's fighting for them.

Thanks for all you do,


Mitch Stewart
Organizing for America

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Things Change

The United States has a total resident population of 309,944,000. California and Texas are the most populous states, as the mean center of United States population has consistently shifted westward and southward.

The total fertility rate in the United States estimated for 2009 is 2.05 children per woman, which is slightly lower than the replacement level of 2.1.

The U.S. population growth is among the highest in industrialized countries, since the vast majority of these have below-replacement fertility rates and the U.S. has higher levels of immigration.

The United States Census Bureau shows population increases ranging between 0.85% and 0.89% for the twelve-month periods ending in 2009.

People under 20 years of age made up over a quarter of the U.S. population (27.6%), and people age 65 and over made up one-eighth (12.6%) in 2007. The national median age was 36.7 years.

Racially, the U.S. has a White American majority.    Minorities compose just over one-third of the population (102.5 million in 2007), with Hispanic and Latino Americans and African Americans as the largest minority groups, by ethnicity and race, respectively.

The American population more than tripled during the 20th century—a growth rate of about 1.3% a year—from about 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000.    It reached the 300 million mark on October 17, 2006.    Currently, population growth is fastest among minorities as a whole, and according to the Census Bureau's estimation for 2005, 45% of American children under the age of 5 belonged to minority groups.

Hispanic and Latino Americans accounted for almost half (1.4 million) of the national population growth of 2.9 million between July 1, 2005, and July 1, 2006.    Immigrants and their U.S.-born descendants are expected to provide most of the U.S. population gains in the decades ahead.

The Census Bureau projects a U.S. population of 439 million in 2050, which is a 46% increase from 2007 (301.3 million).    The United Nations projects a U.S. population of 402 million in 2050, an increase of 32% from 2007 (the UN projects a gain of 38% for the world at large).

In either case, such growth is unlike most European countries, especially Germany, Russia, Italy, and Greece, or Asian countries such as Japan or South Korea, whose populations are slowly declining, and whose fertility rates are below replacement.

As of 10 August 2010, the United States has 4.52% of the world's population.

The melting pot is still at work in the USA and the white majority will end in slightly less than 40 years.   The cares and concerns of the new majority will be addressed by the politicians and government then just as they are for the present majority.   The new majority will run for office and win and over time control the process of government.

Still in the minority (today) this growing block of voters is already large enough to sway an election and get their squeaking wheel greased.    Any political party that ignores the new reality will shrink and disappear.

Since the liberalization of immigration policy in 1965, the number of first-generation immigrants living in the United States has quadrupled, from 9.6 million in 1970 to about 38 million in 2007. 

 In 1965 LBJ was President and The House of Representatives voted 326 to 69 (82.5%) in favor of the act, while the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 76 to 18.

The Census Bureau reported that minorities accounted for 48.6% of the children born in the U.S. between July 2008 and July 2009.

Things Change.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Average Losses or WORSE!!!!

Midterm elections are elections in the United States in which members of United States Congress (including all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and full terms for 33 or 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate), and some state legislatures and governors are elected, but no presidential election is held. Thirty-four of the 50 U.S. states elect their governors to four-year terms during midterm elections, while Vermont and New Hampshire elect governors to two-year terms in both midterm and presidential elections. Thus, 36 governors are elected during midterm elections. Many states also elect officers to their state legislatures and county offices every two years, in both mid-term and presidential election years. Special elections are often held in conjunction with regular elections, so additional Senators and governors may be elected to partial terms.

Midterm elections occurs on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November (Election Day) in between the quadrennial (four-year) elections for the President of the United States.   

The next midterm elections are scheduled for November 2, 2010.

Midterm elections are sometimes regarded as a referendum on the sitting president's and/or incumbent party's performance. They usually don't turn out well for the party of the president; over the past 17 midterm elections, the president's party has lost an average 28 seats in the House, and an average 4 seats in the Senate.



















40% hardcore partisan republicans will vote republican

40% hardcore partisan democrats will vote democrat

The election will be decided by the 20% who are independent and who cast their vote based on how happy they are with the candidates and the job they have done.

They are usually not happy with the party in power and as the chart
shows the president's party (in this case President Obama) has lost an average 28 seats in the House and 4 seats in the Senate.

Going for us is the general nuttiness of the Tea Party who pull the strings  of the GOP.

Against us are recent Supreme Court decisions unshackling corporate contributions, business and conservative groups

are preparing a flood of campaign money to try to wrest control of Congress from the Democrats.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest collection point for corporate contributions, has increased its spending for the congressional election in November from $35 million in 2008 to a projected $75 million this year. Officials say it may go even higher.

The chamber has been joined by new conservative fundraising organizations — such as American Crossroads, affiliated with Republican strategist Karl Rove — that have committed to raising tens of millions of dollars.

One report circulating among Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill last week estimated that more than $300 million has been budgeted for the campaign by a group of 15 conservative tax-exempt organizations.

"A commitment of $300 million from just 15 organizations is a huge amount, putting them in record territory for groups on the right or left," said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign contributions. "With control of Congress hanging in the balance, this kind of spending could have a major impact."

The money's power is magnified because it will be concentrated in a relatively small number of swing states and districts.    Of the 435 House and 37 Senate seats at issue in November, about 100 House seats and 18 in the Senate are considered competitive.

The conservative fundraising commitment has stunned Democrats.

"It's raising the alarm bell," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which spent $177 million in all of 2008 for congressional races.

Labor unions and allied liberal groups also plan to spend heavily. The Service Employees International Union, for example, has budgeted $44 million on election-related spending this year.

But the momentum and the new money appear — at least at this moment — to be coming from business and its all allies.

The real problem is not money but that democrats must run on their achievements which are not popular even with democrats.    Any and everything the democrats passed was so watered down and weakened that progressive democrats disown it and it is now common knowledge that neither party will end the war.    

Our nation could stand some nation building but there is no money for that task here at home as it is being spent in 3rd world countries.

Watching Obama and the democrats negotiate is painfull. They start by giving something big away for which they get nothing in return. From there they spend months allowing ammendments from republicans who weaken and gut the legislation and then in the end vote against it.     Then they weaken it further to get the two republican votes they need or to cajole Joe Liberman or Ben Nelson to support the bill.

In the end no one likes the result and the democrats followed the same path over and over again in every negotation for the past two years.

Now it election time and democrat voters aren't excited and the party leaders don't have a clue.

Democrats have failed to explain the bills they passed to the public and worse have allowed the republicans to provide the explaination.

Pretty words and nice speeches only go so far but they are not a substitute for grit and determination and backbone.

Democrats have failed to defend themselves when attacked by republicans and who believes a person who won't defend themselves will stand up and defend and represent you?

So Whats it gonna be, Average Losses or WORSE!!!!!

Blog Archive