From the monthly archives: March 2011
Shit. I guess it’ll have to wait. They didn’t even let it come to a vote in the lower house. I just don’t understand this. The national polls show near-even levels of support and opposition for marriage equality. In a liberal state like Maryland, it’s support has got to be higher.  And yet, no bill. Here’s a quote:
The bill had significant momentum coming out of the Senate but ran into resistance in the Democratic-led House from African-American lawmakers from Prince George’s County, who cited religious opposition in their districts, and conservative Democrats in Southern Maryland and the Baltimore suburbs.
I guess I just don’t understand this. Does anyone actually think that huge numbers of black people are going to vote Republican because their Delegate voted for gay marriage? Of course not. After all, Governor Martin O’Malley is for equality and he won last year in a Republican year in a landslide. Ditto Andrew Cuomo and Jerry Brown. Is there a plausible profile of a swing voter who makes decisions on who to vote for based on gay marriage? No evidence of it so far as I can see. This is just such bullshit–they’re afraid. Of what, I have no idea, but withdrawing the vote is just a cowardly act. NOM won this one, and it’s just irritating to lose to scumbags like them. But at least I can take comfort that they’re losing this war faster than ever before. I’m tempted to be uncharitable here, so I’ll just say that some primary campaigns might be in order, and that a lot of consciences should not be easily assuaged after this. Update: slight wording change.
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From Ron Beasley:
Ronald Reagan was able to successfully demonize the mythical Cadillac driving welfare mom.  The teachers, police and firefighters that Scott Walker attempted to demonize are not mythical and respected by the vast majority of the population.
This is true, but I don’t think Walker was/is stupid enough to formulate a strategy in which a key component is, “demonize a bunch of popular and respected professionals in order to gain a financial political advantage until the Democrats regain power.” He and his fellow Republican executives figured that an assault on public sector unions would be a way of demonizing distant, uncaring administrators and feckless bureaucrats–those eternal hobgoblins of Big Government. Not the worst idea in the world, if I’m being honest: they could make for decent enemies, and knowing California politics as I do, there are a few high-ranking public sector supervisors who pull down some really ridiculous pensions. I’m sure it’s much the same everywhere, so I can sort of see why Walker figured it would work. But Walker’s mistake was that he didn’t realize that these people would not constitute the public face of the opposition to him. Really, something like a former superintendent getting a $1,000,000 a year pension is the sort of thing that makes for a great talking point, but it pales in comparison to having thousands of actual, normal teachers and cops out there demonstrating against you. Sure, he won the battle. He had all the cards. But time will tell if it was ultimately worth it, and I strongly suspect it will not have been.
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Paul Ryan actually says that waste, fraud and abuse alone aren’t a significant contributor to the deficit. Granted, he’s saying this to make a case for slashing spending, but that’s fair enough, so long as the facts are respected.
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Consumers are spending more:
Retail sales rose 1 percent last month, the Commerce Department reported Friday. Part of the gain reflected higher prices for gasoline. Still, excluding sales at gas stations, retail sales rose a solid 0.9 percent. February’s jump in sales followed a strong upward revision that showed a 0.7 percent increase in January. That was more than double the original estimate. Sales totaled $387.1 billion, up 15.3 percent from the recession low reached in December 2008. A Social Security tax cut and rising employment will likely encourage consumers to spend more this year, although higher gas prices will cut into their disposable income.
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Rick Snyder

Well, I guess we can't say he didn't warn us!

The rap on Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was that he was supposed to be the most moderate of the new crop of Republican governors. It turns out that he’s just really a very good liar, and he’s substantially more radical than even someone like Scott Walker. Just read this and tell me I’m wrong:

Snyder’s law gives the state government the power not only to break up unions, but to dissolve entire local governments and place appointed “Emergency Managers” in their stead. But that’s not all – whole cities could be eliminated if Emergency Managers and the governor choose to do so. And Snyder can fire elected officials unilaterally, without any input from voters. It doesn’t get much more anti-Democratic than that.

Except it does. The governor simply has to declare a financial emergency to invoke these powers – or he can hire a private company to declare financial emergency and take over oversight of the city. That’s right, a private corporation can declare your city in a state of financial emergency and send in its Emergency Manager, fire your elected officials, and reap the benefits of the ensuing state contracts.

I guess we can call this Michigan’s Mubarak Statute. Seriously, though, how can this even be legal? I don’t know anything about Michigan’s constitution, but surely this sort of thing can’t just happen, right? It would be as if President Obama could just fire governors at will. (Actually, come to think of it…okay, no, just kidding.) Perhaps Metavirus might have some insight into this. I just think it’s appalling.

Kain distills the point nicely: “There is nothing limited about a state government that can erase entire cities or take control of school districts and local governments with the swipe of a pen.” I’m hopeful because these moves in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio are not going down smoothly, and the backlash resulting from them might well be enough to reverse the tide. And data like this make me think that the public is quietly backing away from the Republicans, just that it’s not reached a tipping point yet. It can’t come soon enough for me.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but this guy makes me wish that Pete Hoekstra had won the Republican primary. Considering what a huge clown that guy is, that’s saying something.

Not sure what this will mean, but at least we’re getting started with the transfer process:
Afghan forces will soon replace NATO-led troops in charge of security at six sites across Afghanistan — the first step in a transition that Afghan President Hamid Karzai hopes will leave his troops in control across the nation by the end of 2014, The Associated Press has learned. The provincial capitals of Lashkar Gah in volatile southern Afghanistan, Herat in the west and Mazar-i-Sharif in the north are slated for the first phase of transition from NATO-led forces to Afghan soldiers and police, a Western official told AP on Thursday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Karzai plans to formally announce the sites March 21. All of Bamiyan and Panshir provinces, which have seen little to no fighting, are on the transition list, which many Western diplomats and military officials have. Also slated for transition is Kabul province except for the restive Surobi district, the official said. Afghan security forces earlier took charge of security in the capital, Kabul.
I didn’t realize there were only 25,000 Taliban in the country. I guess that’s why it’s called asymmetrical warfare.
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Close political watchers know that one of President Obama’s trademarks is that he operates on his own timetable. It’s kind of his thing. He doesn’t act when the media wants him to, when the other side wants him to, or even when his own supporters want him to. He keeps his own counsel and enters the picture at a carefully judged time. It can be incredibly frustrating but it’s how he rolls, and considering that he’s president and that he passed health care, it’s reasonable to assume he knows what he’s doing at least enough to get by. Still, as with all those earlier times, I was wondering why Obama has been so aloof on the budget. Why is he biding his time this time, giving the GOP small spending cuts instead of pushing for a deal or taking charge of the debate in a forceful way? I couldn’t figure it out, it didn’t make sense to me. And then I read this and, well, it kind of made sense to me. Does it make sense to you:
Sarah Palin criticized congressional Republicans on Fox News for being too cautious when it comes to spending cuts,” saying it runs the risk of alienating a GOP base hungry for steep cuts.” Said Palin: “I’m kind of embarrassed for some of the GOP — for them to be assuming that the American public believes that this is a serious discussion when we’re only talking about $54 billion [sic] in cuts that they have on the table. We need much greater cuts.” She added: “We’re going to lose faith in the party if we just take these little, tiny baby steps — you know, a million here, a billion there — to start ratcheting down a $14 trillion debt.”
I can’t say for sure what Obama’s plan really is here, but I’m trying to think like he does. He undoubtedly knows that the current GOP majority is fractious, including a Tea Party wing that basically wants to reinstate a 19th Century view of government and a more moderate, blue district wing that has quietly expressed discomfort with many of the right-wing cuts and have actually reversed quite a few. What I think is happening here is that Obama knows all this and figures that the tensions within the Republican caucus are only going to intensify. Most everyone realizes she’s a clown, but Palin has a lot of influence among Republicans and has been able to set the tone of the party on various subjects before. What happens if Rush and Hannity follow her lead and start bashing the inadequacy of Republicans’ spending cuts? Republican politicians will follow, and the differences within the caucus will intensify even more. Under those circumstances, picking off a bunch of wary Republicans to support something reasonable might well be an easier task. I tend to think the “find a few moderate Republicans to break off from the leadership” strategy has not exactly produced boffo results in the past, but that explains the delays, at least. Let the Republicans unravel, then try to scoop up some amenable ones. Could work. Agree? Disagree? Got any better strategery? What say you all?
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