Monday, January 31, 2011

The Mandate Will Go Down

I hate to break it to fellow progressives, but the U.S. Supreme Court will rule against the health care mandate. Obama wanted to please insurance lobbyists with the mandate. GOP wants to defeat Obama. Guess who is going to win.

I have said repeatedly on this blog that I hate the health insurance mandate. The only reason for the mandate was to give private health insurers more customers.

Triangulation doesn't work. It is time for progressive to stop making excuses for Obama and demand that he govern on progressive goals. Neoliberal governing lost the 2010 election and is about to sink the pathetic excuse for health care reform.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Uncle Tupelo - Whiskey Bottle

A gorgeous acoustic version of Whiskey Bottle.

Labels: , ,

Yalla innas ilmasri! (Let's go people of Egypt!)

[This will be posted on my Islamic issues blog, The Middle Everything, tomorrow.]

I wish I could this is one of the latest photos of the protests in Egypt, but it's a photo my friend Faisal took of the scene at Tahrir Square, Cario, in late 2009 -- after Egypt won their first World Cup qualifier match against Algeria.  If you see a white dude in the picture, that's probably me; there weren't many of my kind around that night.

During this happy football riot, I was with an Iranian AUC student I had just met that night, Wahid.  As we surveyed the scene at Tahrir that night, Wahid impressed upon me the point that I was witnessing something very, very special.  The leaders of Middle Eastern nations hardly ever let masses of people congregate together, whether it be for celebration or a protest.  I was witnessing something that happens only a few times in a lifetime.

I'll tell you what, I wish I was back in Egypt witnessing it again.  And given my activist past and marching towards riot cops in my own country (Seattle, 1999, during that little WTO thing...), I'd probably participate despite the risk.  After all, I wouldn't want to be one of those pansy fleeing foreigners.

Understanding foreign cultures at a detailed level is difficult.  Americans can read all the history and political science books and articles about Egypt they want, but those are just an author's interpretation of Egyptian society.  They pick and choose topics they want to cover.  But when you're living there, trying to make sense of Egyptian society for yourself but struggling with the language, gaining your own understanding is difficult.  It's a task that can't be accomplished in the four short months I was blessed to study out there.

But I did feel a palpitatble,  very tangible vibe of a repressed society and failed government.  When I complained about the cab drivers ripping me off, some Arab friends of mine at AUC would remind me that these cab drivers have law degrees -- yet they are driving a cab.  How does this happen?  Egyptians are not uneducated people.  Take a walk through the Khan el-Khalili and you'll hear merchants talking in English, French, Russian, and Italian; trying to sell their wares.  Social economists would say Egypt has a lot of "human capital" the government can invest in and build their economy off of.  So what happened?

Well, for one thing, the government of dictator-for-life Honsi Mubarak is corrupt as hell.  It is holding Egyptian society back.  It's a typical case of a dictator ruling by fear in order to stay in power.  Whether they are a violent dictator who choose to murder thousands (the Saddam route), or they are more benign, it's still disgusting.

But with the recent mass protests in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, and other Egyptian cities, the only question now is what will hold the Egyptian people back?

The Islamic Revolution in Iran started out as simply the "Iranian Revolution" -- not was not religious.  It was a revolt against a dictator-for-life named the Shah who couldn't administrate a society to save his life.  (As is turned out for the Shah, my last statement is literal.)  The Shah didn't bring jobs, education, or even electricity to the Iranian countryside -- as a result, shantytowns formed around Iran's major cities.  Many Iranian people lived in dire conditions, and that helped foster a revolt.

Similarly, if you go around the outskirts of Cairo, poor neighborhoods are spouting up -- very similar to shantytowns.  Jobs in Egypt are in its cities, and the major city is Cairo.  But even when you goto Alexandria, there is the rich tourist area near the Mediterranean coast, and the demographics of the neighborhoods get progressively -- and drastically -- poorer the farther away from the shore you travel.  I've seen the neighborhood of Sayid Darwish's first house -- tourism dollars do not hit that part of Alexandria.  Which, by the way, is only a couple miles away from the Sheraton.

Many commentators that will be quoted by Western news outlets will downplay the notion of President Mubarak being driven from office.  Looking at the state of Egyptian society, and comparing it to pre-revolution Iran, I'm not dismissing this notion.  The conditions in Egypt are ripe for a people's coup. And being the democracy-supporting American that I am, I fully support the overthrow of Mubarak's corrupt government.

Of course, the implications for in the Western world for Arab democracies cannot be understated.  If Mubarak has accomplished one thing, it's this: He's made the world forget about Egyptian power.  He's kept the populace under his thumb and hasn't challenged the peace pact with Israel.  For the past 30 years, Egypt has been a sleeping giant.

Well, the giant is about to be startled.  Tunisia just screamed in the giant's ear, and it is awakening from it's slumber.  If a new, more democratic government takes hold in Egypt, there will be a massive ripple effect across the Middle East.  And nobody will doubt the power of the giant.

Labels: , ,

Jim Norman Hates Clean Air

In 2009, ESPN did an investigative story on air quality in ice hockey rinks. ESPN found that nearly 200 people got sick from breathing in carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide or ultrafine particles. One of the rinks that had problems was Tampa Bay Skating Academy.

One of those rinks was in Tampa, Fla., where the East Lake High School hockey team took the ice in January for a practice at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy. Players struggled to breathe during practice and as the night wore on, their symptoms worsened.

"I was playing normal, and then halfway through practice, my chest started feeling weird," said East Lake player Alex Miller. "I had trouble breathing."

Ice-resurfacing machines that run either on propane or natural gas are safe when properly maintained. But poorly maintained machines can release high levels of emissions that are even more dangerous in rinks with poor ventilation.

Florida Sen. Mike Fasano has proposed SB 202. The legislation would allow local government to check rinks that have reported respiratory problems. Sen. Jim Norman is attempting to kill the bill.

Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, said no. Norman worried it could affect large private entities like the St. Pete Times Forum: "Our mission is to have less government. I don't want to have more government."

Fasano said he did not envision the bill being an issue for large arenas like the Times Forum, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He suspects the arena tests its ice frequently. "You know me, I'm a hockey fan," he said, "so I'm at the games as many times as possible. I don't go away (from) there feeling numb or faint."

Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, owns an ice-skating rink in Ellenton. He jumped to the bill's defense, saying air-quality tests are inexpensive and rink owners wouldn't mind inspections after the Oldsmar incident. "As an owner of an ice skating rink, I would be supportive of this bill," he said.
Norman can only think in "less government" slogans. It is bad when Mike Bennett is to the left of Norman.

Labels: , , , , ,

Offensive Comment By Joe Negron

Joe Negron is the chair of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee. Republicans in the Florida are going to commit drastic cuts to Medicaid matching grants. Negron plans $1 to $2 billion in cuts. The conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation has urged Florida to entirely dropout of Medicaid. Patients have died in Arizona from Gov. Jan Brewer's Medicaid cuts.

Negron chaired a hearing and made this shockingly offensive comment.

“I don’t think they have a KidCare program in Ethiopia or India,” he said, admonishing people testifying before his committee to “stop the self-flagellation about all the things we’re not doing.”

He went on to say “I don’t want this to be the doom and gloom committee,” and that “Let’s celebrate the good things we’re doing in health and human services.”

Negron really doesn't care if children do not have health care access to Kidcare. Saying the Florida health care system is better than "Ethiopia or India" is holding the state system to a low standard.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush ran Kidcare so poorly the program went into debt because he refused to provide matching funding to receive federal money. The result was poor children were placed on a 700,000 person waiting list. I like to hear Negron provide academic proof the running a Kidcare deficit created jobs.

Labels: , , ,

Quote of the Day

"One of the side effects of this drug is it makes you think you see monsters... It makes you think you can fly."

Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General, on the intoxicating effects of bath salts.

I am getting old. I had no idea a person could get high on bath salts. I don't doubt the substance Methylenedioxypyrovalerone is potentially dangerous. Bondi's over-the-top quote sounds like dialogue from Reefer Madness.

Bonus quote 1:

"One of the side effects of this drug is it makes you think you see monsters," Bondi told reporters. "It makes you think you can fly."

Bonus quote 2:

"They have Spring Break coming up in the Panhandle," she said. "There are a lot of balconies out there."

Some poor teenager in Panama City is going to hear R. Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly and take the lyrics literally. Thank God Pam Bondi is protecting Floridians from the scourge of bath salts.

Labels: , ,

Marco Rubio Repeal Health Care Bill

Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Jim DeMint are co-sponsoring legislation to repeal the Affordable Health Choices Act.

“It is critical for the future prosperity and health of our country that we repeal ObamaCare and replace it with common sense reforms that will lower health care costs and get more Americans insured,” said Senator Rubio. “At a time when we need to be focused on creating a pro-jobs environment in Florida and across the country, ObamaCare has only served to foster uncertainty for job creators. We need to start over with reforms that promote competition, empower patients with more options, combat fraud and integrate the latest technologies for a system that better serves the patient.”

Rubio and other Republicans have repeatedly called President Obama's health care changes job killers. The Congressional Budget Office found repealing the health care legislation will increase the deficit by $230 billion over the decade. A repeal would result in 32 million Americans without health coverage. I have my own reservations about Obama's landmark legislation. The Republican merely want to turn federal health care into a voucher system with no cost controls. That is not reform.

Labels: , , , ,

The Domestic Partnerships Act.

State Representative Mark Pafford is the sponsor of the Florida House bill the Domestic Partnerships Act. Rick Kriseman is the co-sponsor of the bill

Domestic Partnerships: Sets fees & costs for dissolution or registration of domestic partnership; requires DOH to examine certificates of domestic partnership & dissolution reports; requires clerk to transmit declarations of domestic partnership; authorizes DOH to issue certified copy of certain vital records to domestic partner; includes domestic partnership within domestic violence provisions; requires DOH to create & distribute forms; provides jurisdiction over partnership proceedings; requires partnership registry; requires form to be filed to form partnership & specifies contents; authorizes partners to retain surnames; provides that any privilege or responsibility granted or imposed by statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law, or any other law because individual is or was related to another by marriage, or is child of either spouse, is granted on equivalent terms to domestic partners or individuals similarly related to domestic partners; provides exceptions; provides methods to prove existence of partnership when certificate is lost or unavailable; provides for termination of partnership.

So far there is no pdf file of the bill. The legislation addresses recognizing domestic partnership. Nowhere in the language is gay marriage mentioned. What is unclear is if the bill will recognize gay marriages and domestic partnerships from out of state. Currently no gay or lesbian couple can get a gay marriage or partnership license.

Florida Senator Senator Eleanor Sobel is sponsoring a Senate version of the bill. Sadly, the House and Senate bills will die in the chambers. Republicans hold supermajorites. Pafford, Kriseman and Sobel should be commended for their political courage.

Labels: , , , ,

Steve Berke In Da Club

NPA candidate Steve Berke is running for Mayor of Miami Beach. Berke has no chance of winning but he will be an entertaining candidate, if unserious candidate.

Berke appeared at his candidacy announcement with several attractive women accompanying him onstage. Berke supports liquor licenses for strip clubs and gay marriage.

“Why shouldn’t gay people have the right to lose half their shit in a divorce like the rest of us?” – Steve Berke

I don't doubt that Berke has socially liberal policies. The way Berke is conducting his campaign suggests a desperate grab for attention. Berke's After Party page has his positions.

Lower Taxes
Decriminalize Marijuana
Keep Nightclubs open untill 5am
Legalize Gay Marriage
Pro Gambling
Pro Tourism/Pro Hospitality
and of course... Pro Fun!

Berke doesn't detail how he will implement his pro-fun agenda. I absolutely believe Berke knows absolutely nothing about policy.

Berke was a contestant on the reality television show The Rebel Billionaire. Berke has worked as a real estate manager. Which probably explains why he wants to change liquor zoning laws.

Labels: ,

Gallup Poll on Spending Cuts

Americans love government spending cuts in theory. That is until cuts are proposed to government programs they support. The latest Gallup Poll shows Republican and Democratic voters support spending for Social Security, anti-poverty programs, and Medicare. There is agreement on spending cuts for foreign aid (which Sec. of State Hillary Clinton won't let happen) and farm subsidies.

An unsurprising finding is only 16 percent of all voters support shutting down the government if President Obama and Congress can't come to adeficit reduction and raising the debt ceiling compromise. Sec. of Treasury Robert Rubin was worried that not raising the debt ceiling could unleash havoc on international finances. Rubin borrowed money from federal pension funds to keep government running.

Newt Gingrich's government shutdown was a political gift to President Bill Clinton. Contrary to popular believe: Clinton didn't magically shoot up in the polls. The American people did view Clinton more favorably than Gingrich. Short answer: if the newly elected Tea Party Republicans shut down government they will be helping Obama get a second term.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

LCD Soundsystem - Drunk Girls

It is amazing this entire video was done in one take. LCD Soundsystem has a Flaming Lips vibe going with people dressed in (I think) animal costumes.

Labels: , ,

The Hypocrisy of Marco Rubio

Predictable: Sen. Marco Rubio told the media that President Obama's "call for a mere budget freeze does not go far enough in tackling our record debt." Rubio was the Speaker of the Florida House and created pork budgets that have resulted in criminal investigations. The indicted Ray Samson and the Taj Mahal courthouse were under Rubio's speakership.

"Ray Sansom is a high quality person. He's one of the best people I ever interacted with in the legislative process. ... He's in the middle of a process, and he'll have to let the process go through,'' the Miami Republican said when asked if Sansom should step down as Speaker for the good of the legislature and his party. "He understands he's got a perception problem. ... It comes down to his ability to his ability to focus on the job, and if he can focus on the job then I don't think it's a problem."

Rubio showed a lack of fiscal conservatism with the Republican Party of Florida credit card by running up a $110,000 bill.


Live Blogging State of the Union

8:42 Joe Biden in the House.

8:49 "Deficit" will be mentioned 11 times in SOTU speech #sotudrinkinggame

8:52 Speaker Boehner introducing members of Congress. Biden introduces Obama's Senate escort. The Joint Session is officially in order.

8:55 The State of the Union transcript.

8:58 Michelle Obama in the house.

9:02 The SOTU takes longer than Lebron James' The Decision special.

From Obama's speech. The President is fundamentally wrong about this.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

The Republican Party openly plays to xenophobic fears. Bashing gays, Muslims, feminists and Hispanics is what gets them elected into office. The President should have used his bully pulpit during the health care debate to call them out on it. Instead Obama cowered.

9:06 Obama in the house.

9:11 John Roberts doing a great job hiding his enthusiasm.

9:11 So far this is coming off as a bipartisan lovefest.

9:12 Obama: "And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend – Gabby Giffords."

9:14 Obama's energy level is good. Past speeches he seemed tired.

9:15 Obama: "We will move forward together, or not at all – for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics." Will Republicans get the message? Doubtful.

9:19 Obama bashing China and India for taking American jobs. That might be corporations make money by investing and not creating.

David Corn tweeted this.

Number of times "Wall Street" appears in speech: 0. #SOTU

9:22 Obama said "deficit." Drink up.

9:24 Obama giving NASA a shoutout.

9:25 If Obama's hope for creating jobs is research and development grants then we are in trouble. R&D grant seldom pay off immediately.

9:29 Obama: "Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school."

9:29 Obama says success not a result of fame. Tell that to the Jersey Shores cast.

9:31 Hillary Clinton looks like she is about to fall asleep.

9:33 Obama's pitches for children to become teachers. Kids will think twice when they find out how much teachers get paid.

9:37 Immigration reform is the red herring issue politician like talking about. Americans don't care.

9:39 Infrastructure jobs! Obama needs to pound the jobs aspect of infrastructure.

9:41 Obama: "Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all."

9:43 Shorter Obama: pass my fucking South Korea trade agreement.

9:45 Obama really shouldn't brag about the watered down financial reform bill.

9:49 Spending freeze! Welcome to the Herbert Hoover administration. Obama's economic policy DC is merely talking points.

9:51 Republicans have group orgasm over tort reform.

9:52 Where is Obama going with Social Security? He is vague.

9:57 Obama on earmarks: the most unintimidating veto threat ever.

10:01 Bullshit. Obama: "But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them."

10:07 Obama mentions about Don't Ask Don't Tell.

It is over.

Labels: ,

More Allen West Xenophobia

Rep. Allen West attacked Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison on the The Shalom Show. West

PERITZ: Since you’re with a new crowd, people you haven’t really met before, and will be very closely associating with in the future, including Keith Ellison, who supports Islam, how will you manage that, if I may ask, because it’s not really easy to be polite with individuals one totally disagrees with, which I believe may be the case.

WEST: Well I think it’s most important that I stand upon the principles that people elected me to go to Washington, DC and represent them on Capitol Hill. So that when you run into someone that is counter, or someone that really does represent the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established, you’ve got to be able to defeat them intellectually in debate and discourse, and you to just have to be able to challenge each and every one of their assertions very wisely and very forthright.

Host Richard Peritz makes the insanely stupid attack that Ellison supports Islam. The Islamic faith is Ellison's religion. Boxing great Muhammad Ali is a believer in the Islamic faith. Peritz would be correct to someone anti-semitism if was brought up as a reason he should not hold office. Peritz is practicing a form of bigotry that has been used against Jews and other ethnic groups. Being a Muslim does not make a person a terrorist.

West rants his Tea Party constitutional nonsense.

So that when you run into someone that is counter, or someone that really does represent the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.

West and other African-Americans would still be enslaved if we went back to what the Founding Fathers wanted. The Constitution was ratified with this provision in 1787. Slaves were considered 3/5 of a person.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

West has no idea what the Founding Fathers wrote in the Constitution. West's constitutional spiels are all sound and fury.

Labels: , , ,

Obama to Propose Spending Freeze in SOTU Address

Hear is another reason I do not consider President Barack Obama a policy wonk. The Guardian reports Obama is going to propose a partial spending freeze in his State of the Union address.

Barack Obama is expected to call for a five year partial freeze on spending in his State of the Union address today as he gears up for a battle with Republicans over budget cuts and maps out a path to re-election.

But Republicans rejected the call, even before it was made, as "not enough".

Obama attempts to pander to Republicans. The result is Republicans still diss his partial spending freeze proposal.

The last economic genius that put a spending freeze on the federal government was President Herbert Hoover. The result was less money going into an already weak economy. Matt Yglesias was part of a conference call with an Obama administration official and confirms that a spending freeze will be in the State of the Union.

The Defense Department, the State Department and Homeland Security will not be cut. Obama and Republican Paul Ryan both like giving ballpark numbers about how much they will cut. When asked specifically what domestic programs they would cut they retreat.

Economist Brad Delong breaks down how Obama's proposal will have Hoover-like effects on unemployment.

But in a country as big as this one even this is large stakes. What we are talking about is $25 billion of fiscal drag in 2011, $50 billion in 2012, and $75 billion in 2013. By 2013 things will hopefully be better enough that the Federal Reserve will be raising interest rates and will be able to offset the damage to employment and output. But in 2011 GDP will be lower by $35 billion--employment lower by 350,000 or so--and in 2012 GDP will be lower by $70 billion--employment lower by 700,000 or so--than it would have been had non-defense discretionary grown at its normal rate. (And if you think, as I do, that the federal government really ought to be filling state budget deficit gaps over the next two years to the tune of $200 billion per year...)

And what do we get for these larger output gaps and higher unemployment rates in 2011 and 2012? Obama "signal[s] his seriousness about cutting the budget deficit," Jackie Calmes reports.

Obama extension of the tax cuts was about politics and a lack of seriousness about the federal deficit. The deficit needs a scalpel to cut wasteful spending. Getting more people back to work would increase tax revenue. Instead Obama decides to make Republican rhetoric of spending freezes into fiscal policy because it is easier than taking risky positions.

Labels: , , , , ,

Quote of the Day

"Then there are China's very real problems. China has 700 billion very poor people. By 2050, it will have 400 million very old people."

Jonah Goldberg

For the record: China has 1,341,950,000 people. The op-ed sections of newspapers print the most factually incorrect bullshit. The Los Angeles Times and other newspapers can save themselves embarrassment by fact-checking their columnists.

Hat tip to GottaLaff.


J.D. Alexander Hearts Insurance Companies

Gary Fineout has this tweet informing us who Florida Senator JD Alexander's real constituents are.

First hearing on major insurance bill gets testy. Sen. Alexander goes after insurance consumer advocate, says state has "suppressed" rates

Nothing could be further from the truth. State Farm of Florida stopped selling homeowners insurance when former Gov. Charlie Crist cracked down on homeowners insurance price fixing. In 2009, State Farm attempted to raise homeowner insurance rates by 47.1 percent. Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty rejected State Farm Florida's request. State Farm dropped all homeowner insurance policies and gave their customers 90 days notice. Florida and State Farm of Florida came to the compromise of a 14.8 percent rate increase.

Except State Farm never got out of Florida homeowner insurance business. State Farm of Florida set up the virtual offshore company DaVinci Reinsurance Ltd in Bermuda in 2001. Virtual means DaVinci Reinsurance Ltd has no actual office. The Bermuda adrress is a yacht club. DaVinci Reinsurance Ltd is able to get around Florida regulations by being an offshore company. DaVinci can set whatever price the company wishes. DaVinci underwrites homeowner insurance claims for several Florida insurers.

During the past decade State Farm of Florida 2.6 billion profit. J.D. Alexander's claim that regulators are being too tough on the insurance industry doesn't pass the laugh test.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Homeless Beating In Seminole County

Justin Collison, 21, of Seminole County attacked and knocked out a homeless man. Collison attacked the man from behind. Collison's father is a Sanford police officer. Which might explain why he was able to avoid jail time for previous incidents.

At 16, Collison flipped his father's Ford pickup. Collison was cited for careless driving. He was not given a ticket or blood or breath test.

At 17, Collison was charged with beating and choking his girlfriend. Police found bruise marks on the girl and Collison was reportedly using drugs at the time. The girlfriend stopped cooperating with the police after Collison's family agreed to pay for property damage. Charges were dropped.

In 2007, Collison was investigated for shooting a man in the chest.

Collison had gotten drunk and after escorting a carload of friends off the property, fired a rifle at their vehicle as it drove away on State Road 415, according to a Volusia County Sheriff's Office incident report.

A 20-year-old Sanford man, Jon Regan, was seriously wounded.

Collison and the other man in his vehicle, Brandon Hilliard, were arrested, accused of aggravated battery, aggravated assault and shooting into a vehicle, but prosecutors never filed charges and abandoned the case six months later.

I have a hard time believing that if Collison's father wasn't a police officer that he wouldn't have done jail time by now.

Labels: , ,

Meet and Greet With Tampa City Council Candidates

The Hillsborough Young Democrats will hold a meet and greet at the Streetcar Charlie’s Bar & Grill with Tampa City Council candidates. The meet and greet is open to the public.

Where: Streetcar Charlie’s Bar & Grill

When: Thursday, January, 27
7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m

Labels: ,

Marco Rubio on Roe v. Wade

All pro-choice Florida voters should take heed of Marco Rubio's press release. Rubio plays to the social conservative base by blasting Roe v. Wade.

“On this day, we remember the tragic Roe v. Wade decision, whereby the Supreme Court determined that equal protection and equal rights do not apply to the unborn,” Rubio said.

“As Florida’s senator, I will continue to be a voice for not only winning hearts and minds on life issues but also to support pro-life policies, such as a prohibition on taxpayer-funded abortions. I also pledge to support well-qualified judicial nominees who will interpret the laws of our land, not establish new policy from the bench as the Supreme Court did in Roe v. Wade 38 years ago.”

Rubio doesn't have the political courage to say he will sponsor anti-choice legislation. Social conservatives attempted to ban abortion in South Dakota in 2006. Voters rejected the ban. South Dakota only had one abortion clinic in South Dakota. If Republicans and social conservatives could not succeed in South Dakota then it is hard to believe Republicans in Congress have the courage for a federal ban. Republicans could have tried during the Bush years but punted.

Republicans are cynical about the Christian Right. The Bush administration's faith-based program was all PR and never actually got off the ground. Karl Rove was worried about social conservative voters. Rove told Don Willett, "Just get me a f—ing faith-based thing. Got it?" Rove wasn't exactly channeling Jesus with that comment.

Labels: , , ,

David Shulter on Olbermann

David Shulter defends Keith Olbermann on Reliable Sources. Baltimore Sun David Zurawik actually says that Bill O'Reilly has been more reasonable during the past year than Olberman. O'Reilly defended calling George Tiller a baby Tiller after the doctor's death. On what planet does Zurawik find that reasonable. Zurawik goes on to attack the "Worst Persons" list by comparing Olbermann to Joe McCarthy. Zurawik fails to realize he can't attack Olbermann for using heated rhetoric and then commit the same journalistic sin.

Fun fact: at the end of the video Howard Kurtz says the daytime news shows practice journalism standards. The news shows are unapologeticly anti-Obama.

Labels: , , , , ,

The Fight For the District Kingdoms

In November of 2010, Florida voters approved ballot amendments 5 and 6. Florida will be awarded two new Congressional seats in 2012. Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 was designed to change the way Congressional districts are drawn.

Amendment 5

In establishing Legislative district boundaries:
(1) No apportionment plan or district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory.

(2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.

(3) The order in which the standards within sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section are set forth shall not be read to establish any priority of one standard over the other within that subsection.

Amendment 6

In establishing Congressional district boundaries:
(1) No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory.

(2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.

(3) The order in which the standards within sub-sections

Changing the redistricting process as been a longtime goal for Florida progressives. Newly elected Florida Democratic Party chairman Rod Smith said the he will fight to legally make sure districts are drawn under the voter approved constitutional guidelines. Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos snidely remarked, "I call it the full employment for lawyers' bill." The voter approved amendments were not a "bill." It makes me wonder if the new Florida Senate leader understands the legislative process.

Senate Democrat Gary Siplin has voiced his disapproval of Amendment 5 and Amendment 6. Siplin has been known to vote with Republicans. The only thing Siplin is concerned about his his own Senate district.

Siplin and Rep. Corrine Brown said the new redistricting guidelines will not protect African-American voters. The amendments are written to protect minority voters. What likely concerns Siplin and Brown is that computers will be used to redraw districts. Sen. Haridopolos planned on using computers before the approval of the amendments. The amendments require that the districts be drawn in a reasonable square and contoured manner. Siplin's and Brown's districts bear closer resemblance to Jackson Pollock paintings than anything with right angles. The same can be said for every member of the Florida legislature and the Congressional delegation.

Brown and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart have filed a lawsuit against the new redistricting law.

BROWN: "I was extremely disappointed in the passage of amendments 5 and 6. Congressman Diaz-Balart and I introduced a lawsuit this morning, and will continue our fight against these misguided, deceptive amendments in the federal courts. I am absolutely convinced that if they are carried out as prescribed, our state will immediately revert to the time period prior to 1992, when Florida was devoid of African American or Hispanic representation."

The ACLU has filed a motion against Brown. The ACLU is a defendant in the case. The ACLU called pre-approved Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 districting process a "rigged and broken system." The Florida Supreme court approved the ballot language of Amendment 5 and Amendment 6. It is doubtful Brown's and Diaz-Balart's lawsuit will go far.

Now that the new districting system is in the Florida constitution what does it mean to Democrats? Unfortunately. The success of Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 becoming law alone will not change the fortunes of Florida Democrats. Republicans have filibuster-proof majorities in the Florida House and Senate. There are only a handful of Democrats that will be working on redrawing districts on a federal and state level. It is hard for Democrats to change the rules of the game when they do not have enough elected officials to field a team.

Haridopolos, Marco Rubio, Ray Sansom, and David Rivera have been involved in various corruption scandals related to they service in the Florida legislature. Hoping for Republicans to draw up districts that will take away their dominance is pure fantasy. The Republican Party of Florida and legislative GOP members will mount a fierce campaign against fair district changes.

The Florida Democratic Party is broken. Democrats are putting their faith in a new chairman who has lost two statewide races and most famous moment is the much mocked helicopter ad.

It is doubtful Smith is going to significantly increase Democrats chances of getting elected to the Florida legislature any time in the foreseeable future. Haridopolos' prediction of lawsuits looks increasingly likely. The redistricting fight will get uglier as Florida again becomes a presidential battleground state.

"For he that holds his kingdom holds the law."

William Shakespeare, King John, 3.1

The people that make laws in Tallahassee have every intention of keeping their kingdom.

Update: Gary Fineout tweeted this.

Plus, U.S. Reps. Brown and Diaz-Balart have now changed lawsuit so it is against (Rick) Scott and SOS (Kurt) Browning.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Inside the Lines

Peter Schorsch has launched the new web site Inside the Lines. The web site will feature articles on the implications the census and the passage of Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 will have on redistricting.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Write A Caption: Sarah Palin & Michele Bachmann

I wonder how many male college Republicans have this image as a screensaver.

Labels: , ,

Colin Powell on Obama

Colin Powell gives President Barack Obama mostly thumbs up on his first two years.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

A battle lost: Countdown to Plutocracy

In case you hadn't yet heard, last night's broadcast was Keith Olbermann's last Countdown. It seems, once again, that a strong and passionate liberal voice is muffled (I won't say "silenced", because I have a feeling he'll be back very soon, somewhere, somehow). What's clear, at this point, is that the Comcast takeover has begun in earnest. And that Olbermann won't be the only newly-unemployed MSNBC journalist, although he will be among the wealthier members of that subset. Here's Greg Sargant at the WaPo:

So Keith Olbermann is out. As best as I can tell, none of the news accounts about his departure have gotten to the bottom of what happened here. But Olbermann himself offered enough clues in his final broadcast for us to reasonably speculate that he abruptly got the ax, perhaps even as late as last night.

A "knowledgeable official" at MSNBC told Howard Kurtz that the separation was "mutual." But it's hard to see how that squares with this, from Olbermann's last words on Countdown last night:

"I think the same fantasy has popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I have been told, that this is going to be the last edition of your show. You go directly to the scene from the movie 'Network,' complete with the pajamas, and the raincoat, and you go off on an existential, otherworldly journey of profundity and vision...

"When I resigned from ESPN 13 and a half years ago, I was literally given 30 seconds to say goodbye at the very end of my last edition of "Sports Center." As God is my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my earpiece and he said, `uh, can you cut it down to 15 seconds, so we can get in this tennis result from Stuttgart? So I'm grateful that I have a little more time to sign off here."

Between this and the shell-shocked look Olbermann had last night, it seems clear that he may have been abruptly informed that he was history, perhaps even during last night's show. That would also square with the experience of Josh Marshall, who was actually on Olbermann last night and had no sense that anything was amiss.

I am an unabashed Olbermann fan and have been for years. Yes, he's passionate and fiery, but while I'm well aware that plenty of folks prefer a calmer take on politics and current events, I'd argue that Olbermann's tone was exactly what was called for when Countdown hit the air, considering the fresh hell that flowed forth on a seemingly daily basis during those dark Bush II years. Olbermann is an honest man who ran a fact-based operation--albeit one that was sometimes a bit heavy on the hyperbole--but unlike the vast majority of television personalities (and pretty much all conservative public persons), he was not afraid to admit a mistake and sincerely apologize for it. He was fair, and he listened.

I loved his literature-infused take on life in these United States; I loved his wordiness and his long, acrobatic compound sentences; I loved (and related to) his genuine anger; I loved his kind and very soft heart, evident to anyone with a soul.

Keith Olbermann clearly pissed off all the right people.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill

This song is the best pop song of 2010.

Labels: ,

Florida Unemployment At 12 Percent

December of 2010 unemployment numbers for Florida are at 12 percent. New jobs are not being created in the state. The tax incentives Democrats and Republicans love giving to corporations haven't magically produced jobs.

Construction continues to see a loss with 20,200 fewer jobs compared to a year ago.

Flagler and Hendry counties ranked first with the highest unemployment rate at 15.7 percent.

Statewide, there are 1.1 million jobless out of labor force of 9.2 million.

All the counties in Central Florida saw a drop in unemployment rate when compared to November.

Orange County — 11.3 percent, which is down from 12 percent

Osceola County — 12.4 percent, which is down from 13.1 percent

Seminole County — 10.4 percent, which is down from 10.9 percent

Volusia County — 12.2 percent, which is down from 12.8 percent

Lake County — 11.9 percent, which is down from 12.6 percent

Brevard County — 11.9 percent, which is down from 12.6 percent

In Tampa, unemployment dropped from 12.7 percent in November to 12 percent in December. 2,700 jobs were added during the one month period.

Pasco County - 13 percent

Hillsborough County - 11.6 percent

Citrus County - 13.2 percent

Hernando County - 14.5 percent

Pinellas County - 11.7 percent

Labels: ,

Keith Olbermann's Goodbye

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Keith Olbermann says goodbye to his Countdown. The MSNBC press release reads like Olbermann was fired.

MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.

Update: according to Jane Hamsher, Lawrence O'Donnell will replace Olbermann in the 8:00 PM time slot.

6:00 p.m. Cenk Uygur
7:00 p.m. Chris Matthews
8:00 p.m. Larrence O’Donnell
9:00 p.m. Rachel Maddow
10:00 p.m. Ed Schultz

I am interesting in what Uygur will do with is Los Angeles-based Young Turks online show. MSNBC is in New York City.

Labels: ,

Bob Buckhorn Economic Plan

What immediately struck me about Bob Buckhorn's economic plan is the creation of the position of Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity. The position will oversee an economic task force of business and community leaders. Regulatory agencies and the Tampa Convention Center will be under the Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity. Whoever holds this position will weld great power in the City of Tampa.

Another concern is if the Deputy Mayor for Economic Opportunity isn't structed properly it could create a bureaucratic nightmare. The appointed Deputy Mayor needs to be able to listen to different opinions and work well with others. A power freak is the last person needed for the position.

Buckhorn wants New Urbanism development in Tampa. I am not sure of Buckhorn wants with New Urbanism. The concept is intriguing.

The term has been associated with walkable communities with a center hub. These communities tend to have some with of rail transportation at the center hub. These communities are structured with work and living space separated but within walking distance. I am not sure how Buckhorn will create such communities with the years of over-development in Tampa.

Buckhorn is taking a page out of the Jeb Bush playbook.

His administration will create incentive packages to target high tech industries identified by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Bob will take whatever steps are necessary to attract businesses to Tampa.

Companies come to places with high skill workers, good schools and communities their employees want to live in. Seattle, Washington and Palo Alto, California are so competitive companies actively recruit employees away from other companies. Seattle and Palo Alto are near major universities, have start up and financial sector businesses, and a high standard of living. It will take more than tax incentives to draw major companies to Tampa.

Buckhorn addresses the housing crisis.

The question of affordable housing for first-time homebuyers and the rehabilitation of existing homes is a priority for a Buckhorn Administration. Together with our lending partners, our housing initiative will build a program modeled after the successful Challenge Fund.

The Challenge Fund has kept people from being evicted from their homes. It has faced cuts during the past decade. Creating a local version of the Challenge Fund is good policy. Where Buckhorn will get funding is a serious question. The fact that Buckhorn is addressing the housing crisis is a good start.

Environmentalists will welcome this proposal.

Strategically using federal and state Brownfields redevelopment programs to redevelop areas of the City damaged by past pollution;

The Brownsfield program is part of the EPA. The EPA provides grants to clean up polluted land. The program also has the potential to create jobs for Tampa residents involved in any future clean up projects.

Buckhorn will create the position of Director of Protocol, International Trade and Commerce. The duties of the position.

* To reenergize the partnership of TIA, the Port of Tampa, the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce to develop and expand our regional international trade efforts;

* Work to attract and identify locations for foreign consulates;

* Work with the Tampa Port Authority and the Florida Ports Council to expand the Port of Tampa’s infrastructure in order to allow the Port to actively pursue significant container business;

* Work more closely with the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and Enterprise Florida to participate in statewide international trade initiatives;

* Aggressively target, pursue and schedule trade missions led by the Mayor and accompanied by regional partners and local Tampa Bay businesses;

* Assist the new director of Tampa International Airport (TIA) in pursuing more international flights for TIA.

Good luck to the Democrat Buckhorn trying to get help from the partisan Gov. Rick Scott on tourism or anything else for that matter. Pursuing foreign trade and foreign consulates is a good idea. The jury is out on how successful it will be The Tampa Chamber of Commerce will just lobby Buckhorn for business tax incentives every chance they get without providing any real help attracting businesses.

Buckhorn proposes to bring businesses to Nebraska Avenue. The area gets enough traffic to attract business. The problem is Nebraska Avenue has a bad reputation for crime. Much of it earned.

A really interesting idea is creating the online One-Stop Licensing Program.

As Mayor, Bob Buckhorn will establish a “One-Stop Licensing Program,” available in person and on-line. The One-Stop Licensing Program will streamline the licensing process, providing business owners with a complete list of all licenses and permits required by the City and providing assistance in obtaining the licenses and permits applicable to their business. In addition, the One-Stop Licensing Program will streamline the multiple layers of business regulation by acting as a resource for City businesses to identify and interact with the appropriate County and the State regulators.

Using the internet to cut through red tape is an excellent idea.

Buckhorn has two more policy papers which I will try to get to. Agree or disagree with Buckhorn, it is nice to see thought was given on economic issues. Buckhorn deserves credit for putting his policy positions online.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Policy Wonks Need Not Apply to Tampa Mayor's Race

I find it rather troubling that Tampa mayor frontrunner Dick Greco does not have an issues page on his web site. It suggests that Greco hasn't thought about policy or his so cocky that he feels he doesn't have to outline his positions.

Republican candidate has a poorly designed web page that allows to scroll over her positions. Under public safety: it seems clear that Ferlita disagrees with Gov. Rick Scott's decision to eliminate the Office of Drug Control.

As a pharmacist and Commissioner, I worked with the Governor’s Office of Drug Control to implement legislation instituting a prescription drug monitoring program. Given that Governor Scott has eliminated the Office of Drug Control, and because of the ongoing understaffing at the State level with regards to drug issues in our State, I intend to redirect more of the City's resources to enforce state and local laws. Additionally, I intend to reassign more officers to exclusively focus on tackling this epidemic. I will continue to work with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office, Hillsborough County government, other regional county governments, drug task forces, a multitude of committees, neighborhoods and citizens who want to share in this war against drugs. Collaborative efforts will be our strength and our success.

Having spoken with our Attorney General, Pam Bondi, she clearly understands that I am eager to assist her office, and specifically, Mr. Dave Aronberg, in Florida's war against drugs. As a pharmacist and as a local elected official, I have always been front and center against this epidemic. My position will be the same as Mayor of Tampa. As Mayor, I will make sure that the message is clear: "The Ferlita Administration will have zero tolerance for this horrible drug epidemic that leads to deaths of our youth due to overdoses. This is a huge public safety issue and it will be addressed under my watch."

Ferlita wants to eliminate excessive regulations and form public and private partnerships. This places the Republican Ferlita is the same position as President Obama on regulations.

Ferlita supports green initiatives such as electric cars and reclaimed water.

Candidate Tom Scott has an issues page with no information on it. I wonder if Scott was hoping no one would click the link at the top of his homepage.

Bob Buckhorn as been running for mayor forever and still doesn't have a issues page on his web site. Buckhorn didn't even bother to outline his anti-lap dance platform.

Ed Turanchik wants buses to have WIFI internet access. Turanchik is the king of goofy ideas. Turanchik lobbied to bring the 2012 summer Olympics to Tampa. Never mind that Tampa wasn't feasible for holding the Olympics. The rest of Turanchik's policy page is talking points.

Think about it: of all the transportation problems Tampa has who but Turanchik would place WIFI access on Hartline buses on the top of the agenda?

Conclusion: with the exception of Ferlita, none of the other candidates have articulated what they want to do as mayor. The reason there has been a lack of media coverage about the race is because the candidates aren't really saying anything. Bob Buckhorn's two years of campaigning is about to be crushed by Greco and he is still playing it safe on policy. These candidates make Alex Sink look like a bold policy candidate.

Correction: Bob Buckhorn has a lengnthy policy plan. I will write a post on Buckhorn's plan when I get the chance. Thanks to Buckhorn to pointing out my mistake.

If any other candidates have plans feel free to email me.

Labels: , , , ,

Quote of the Day

"I don’t believe that there are votes sufficient in the Senate to repeal health care reform….We’re in this situation where there is some messaging going on…The real question is how much time do we as a Congress spend on this messaging? We’ve got a situation where our economy continues to be in the tank, the longest extended period of high unemployment since World War II….As important as making sure that we’re reigning in our health care costs — spending a lot of time on the messaging vote? I don’t think that’s what the American public wants us to do. …I don’t think what people want is kind of the messaging that’s going on."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Murkowski doesn't support Affordable Health Choices Act. Murkowski wants to change the the bill. If push came to shove she would vote to repeal. It is noteworthy that Murkowski calls out her Republican colleagues for message and not actual policies that move the country forward.

Labels: ,

Never Date An Actress

Brilliant short film made by Scott Coffey and Naomi Watts. The short was made before Watts became famous.

Labels: ,

Cheney Gives Obama A Thumbs Up On National Security

There is no more evidence that President Barack Obama was not committed to change then Dick Cheney giving praise for continuing President Bush's anti-terrorism policies.

I was concerned that the counter-terrorism policies that we put in place after 9-11 that kept the nation safe for over 7 years were being rapidly discarded. He was going to attempt to discard things like enhanced interrogation techniques. The terrorist surveillance program. I think he's also... I think he's also been through the fires of becoming president and having to make decisions and live with the consequences. I think he's learned what we did was far more appropriate then he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate.

It has been well documented how the Bush administration bungled pre-9-11 intelligence and cherry-picked intelligence in order to justify an invasion of Iraq. Obama receiving Cheney's endorsement is the equivalent to convicted Enron CEO Jeffery Skilling praising Ben Bernake's money management skills.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

X - Universal Corner

The killer harmonies of John Doe and Exene Cervenka.

Labels: ,

Tampa Mayor Debate

Creative Loafing will be hosting a debate for candidates running for Mayor of Tampa. Mitch Perry will be the moderator and the candidates appearing are Bob Buckhorn, Rose Ferlita, Dick Greco, Arthur Richardson, Tom Scott and Ed Turanchik. The first half of the debate will be Perry fielding the candidates questions. The second half will be questions from the audience.

You will have to reserve a seat in order to attend the debate. What is interesting is calls for seats are screened by Perry. On a certain level: it is understandable why Perry wouldn't want Tea Partiers yelling at the candidates and slamming on the doors of the Creative Loafing offices. My question is why hold the debate at Creative Loafing. Why not move the debate to the USF campus. Creative Loafing would have a bigger venue and security.

My fear is Perry is going to ask softball questions and fill the audience with influential Tampa residents. We shall see.

Thursday, February 10 · 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Location CL Space
1911 N. 13th St. Ste. W200 (above Spaghetti Warehouse in Ybor Square)
Tampa, FL

Labels: , , , , , ,

5th World Art

5th World Art will feature paintings, photography, and writing. The is for artists and is also a tweetup.

What: Artist Show

When: 4 Feb 2011
4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Where: ERS at Plaza Tower
3rd Floor
Downtown St Petersburg FL

The show is in the offices of Executive Reporting Service.

Refrestments will be served. This is a great opportunity to support the arts. Works by artists will be for sale. This is also a good excuse check out downtown St. Petersburg.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The New Rhetoric From Tea Party Nation

John McCain wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling President Barack Obama "a patriot."

I disagree with many of the president's policies, but I believe he is a patriot sincerely intent on using his time in office to advance our country's cause. I reject accusations that his policies and beliefs make him unworthy to lead America or opposed to its founding ideals. And I reject accusations that Americans who vigorously oppose his policies are less intelligent, compassionate or just than those who support them.

McCain went on to praise Obama's speech at the memorial of the Tuscon, Arizona shooting. McCain agree with Obama's message that blame for Jared Loughner should not be cast on the Left or Right. This sent Judson Phillips of the Tea Party Nation into a shit fit.

"If Obama were simply incompetent, we might expect that he would occasionally get something right. What we see from Obama is not an incompetent fool. He knows exactly what he is doing. From being raised by a mother who hated America, to associating with America hating communists in his youth, he gravitated to communist, America hating professors in College and associated with America hating political groups until it looked like he might actually go somewhere in his political career.

"Obama is no patriot and neither is McCain. McCain’s supporters always point to the years he spent as a POW in Viet Nam. He did serve this country in ways most of us cannot imagine. But that does not give him a free pass for the rest of his life."

Phillips is attacking the President and a Vietnam POW. Yet Phillips somehow believes he is the true patriot. Apparently, Phillips didn't get the memo about the new tone. The more likely scenario is Phillips got the memo and tossed it in the trash bin.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Best Dick Greco Sign

This sums up my feelings about Dick Greco running for another term as Tampa Mayor. I like to find out who made this sign so I can give the person credit.

Hat tip to the SOG City Oracle.

Labels: , ,

Michael Steele's Exit

Reid Wilson of Hotline On Call tweets on Michael Steele's end as RNC chairman.

Steele: "And now, I exit stage right." Prompty exits stage left.

I am going to miss Steele.

Labels: ,

Julian Assange Coloring Book

Parents, your kids are going to want the Julian Assange coloring book next Christmas. There is a gallery showing the artwork crazy internet kids have done.

Labels: , ,

Friday Cat Blogging

The debut of three white lion cubs in 2008. These cats are big and not as cuddly these days.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Benjamin Kirby Responds to My Post

Benjamin Kirby answers my questions about the Clinton administration's economic team. Kirby was a low level staffer in the Clinton administration. Kirby has a great story about Mickey Kantor that may or may not be true. If true it confirms my suspicion that Kantor one of dumbest people in the administration.

Unfortunately, Kirby couldn't answer my question about Robert Rubin's and Joseph Stiglitz's working relationship. Stiglitz's is more progressive than the neoliberal Rubin. Where Rubin and Stiglitz disagreed is on the size of the deficit reduction package in 1993. Former Clinton administratin Council of Economic Advisers, Laura Tyson, reviewed both Rubin's and Stiglitz's books and weighs their differences. What is interesting is the pro-business Rubin supported vetoing welfare reform (Rubin supports government and private sector anti-poverty programs.) and Stiglitz helped create "third way" neoliberal economic policy theory. Rubin's and Stiglitz's debates were more about policy and both of them could make excellent arguments to counter each other and Kirby should have been in the room with a tape recorder.

These days Stiglitz is calling the Obama economic team incompetent or in the pocket of the banks. Rubin said that while he was at Citigroup "virtually nobody" saw the financial collapse coming. Guess which one is keeping a lower profile.

Agree or disagree with Rubin or Stiglitz they are both smarter than you will ever be. Both are better than former Bush amdinistration economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey. Only a true hack like Lindsey would argue that it wasn't the stimulus, but TARP (the bank bailout) and the FDIC that kept unemployment from rising to 15.7 percent. Lindsey advised President George W. Bush that the tax cuts would pay for themselves. One area that Rubin and Stiglitz agree on is that the surplus should have been used to pay off borrowed debt.

Labels: , , , ,

Kevin Beckner Birthday Bash

Hillsborough County Commissoner Kevin Beckner is having a 40th birthday bash this Saturday. The event is also a fundraiser for Beckner. You can go to Beckner's campaign web site to sign up to attend.

Hillsborough County Commissioner
District 6 (Countywide)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

5:00 - 8:00 pm

Mise En Place
442 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606

Live Entertainment provided by Lester Freeman and "D" Band

Suggested Contribution Levels $40 to $400
(Maximum contribution $500 per person or business)


Haridopolos Running For Senate

Javier Manjarres of The Shark Tank reports that Mike Haridopolos told him that he is running for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

When I asked him directly if he is running for the U.S. Senate, Haridopolos said, ”Yes, I am in.”

The announcement will not come as a surprise to people that follow Florida politics. Haridopolos will make an official announcement. Haridopolos likely allowed Manjarres to break the story to tell campaign contributors he is open for business. If Haridopolos wins the primary he will have to deal with incumbent Bill Nelson's war chest and President Obama on the top of the ballot. Haridopolos has a tougher road to the Senate than Marco Rubio.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

John Boehner on Arizona Tragedy

Speaker John Boehner deserves credit for giving a superb speech for Gabrielle Giffords and the victims of the Arizona shooting.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just How Dumb Is Glenn Reynolds

Glenn Reynolds declares Tim Pawlenty "not man enough to be president." Reynolds' reasoning is because Pawlenty did not defend Palin's use of cross-hairs on her now infamous map. Most people judge the fitness of a presidential candidate based on his or her domestic and foreign policy positions. Reynolds' litmus test is whether a candidate probably defends Palin's use of the politically toxic cross-hairs.

Reynolds is a dumb guy. I remember Reynolds blogging that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Therefore, it is not a stretch to believe Reynolds can't comprehend that Pawlenty has no interest defending a potential presidential opponent on a politically toxic issue. Reynolds actually thinks defending the cross-hairs on Palin's map is good politics.

I pray to God a future Republican administration doesn't appoint Reynolds to the Justice Department. Reynolds should stay as a law professor and his students can continually say on he is an unchallenging and easy A.

Labels: , , ,

Comic of the Day

Labels: ,

How Republicans Are Waging Class Warfare In Florida

This shows you the alternate reality Florida Republicans live in. Tom Clendenning of the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation testified before the Senate Commerce & Tourism Committee. Clendenning told the committee Florida could save $800,000 per year by adding five employees to the Agency for Workforce Innovation to investigate people who are not looking for work.

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said he wants to know how many Floridians are turning down jobs in favor of keeping their unemployment checks. Gaetz asked AWI to "distinguish between those who can't get off the couch ... and those who won't get off the couch," Gaetz said.

Chairwoman Nancy Detert, R-Venice, said unemployment becomes a "lifestyle" after six months. "We'd like your department to get rid of the slackers and malingerers," she told Clendenning.

It is obvious Clendenning just made up the $800,000 figure. Otherwise Gaetz and Detert would know how many so-called slackers there are. Clendenning is using Republican contempt for the unemployed to add five staffers to his department. If Clendenning was really serious he would tell the senators his office would have to hire workers to go out in the field and check up on people collecting unemployment. We are talking about a significant number of people the Agency for Workforce Innovation would need to hire. Put it this way. Do you believe Florida could conduct a Census check on people on probation with only five employees?

What makes matters worse is that Agency for Workforce Innovation is denying Floridians a legally required a six cent increase in minimum wage. Workers have filed a class action lawsuit against the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

On Monday, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of thousands of minimum wage earners in Florida against the state’s Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI). The suit claims the agency has refused to raise the state’s minimum wage to keep pace with the rising cost of living, as required by state law since a constitutional amendment was passed in 2004.

The National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Service say the agency is denying workers a six-cent raise to $7.31 an hour.

Although the Florida Supreme Court said that the law did not provide for decreases in the minimum wage in times of deflation, the plaintiffs say that have seen internal documents that show that AWI reduced the minimum wage in 2010 to $7.06 per hour from 2009’s $7.21 because of deflation that happened in 2008-2009. They say that the rate should have stayed at $7.21 But because Congress raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25, minimum wage earners didn’t suffer that “erroneous” wage cut.

Republicans are cutting services. One of the few things Republicans are willing to hire new government employees for is to search for people who enjoy collecting unemployment. Most people can't pay their bills with what they collect from their unemployment checks. Republicans have no idea how bad the job market is on how miserable it is to be unemployed. Yet they will not lift a finger to help the poorest employed workers. Republicans are actually trying to decrease the pay of the working poor. These people are really fucking sick.

Labels: , ,

Rick Scott Always On Message

One of the problems with Gov. Rick Scott being obsessed with controlling the message is it hasn't worked for other elected leaders. Charm and charisma go a long way. Neither of which Scott has in supply. Scott's freakish control nature will rub members of his administration the wrong way. Case in point is this email leak to Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times.

From: Burgess, Brian
Sent: Monday, January 10, 2011 11:08 AM
To: _Agency Communication Directors
Subject: Public Appearances / Speeches / Etc.

Just want to reiterate that neither agency heads nor their respective communications offices, or any agency personnel should be making public appearances or speeches without prior notification and approval of EOG.

If there are any upcoming on the schedules, please let me know so we can ensure we’re on the same page.


Brian Burgess
Office of the Governor
Communications Director

Scott seems to be running his version of the Bush administration from the Florida Governor's Mansion. The media took out there frustrations on White House Press Sec. Scott McClellan when Bush's approval ratings when in the tank. Team Scott will probably be pissed at Smith for publishing a leak. What can the Scott administration threaten Smith with? Taking away access is an empty threat. The media has almost zero access to Scott. Scott kicked journalist Mary Ellen Klas out of a public meeting.

Scott is an incoming governor with a below 50 percent approval rating. His personality fails to understand good public relations. Scott got elected into office scaring people and Alex Sink running a campaign devoid of substance. Scott is going to piss the media off and earn himself bad press.

Labels: , ,

Cenk Uygur on Right-Wing Rhetoric

Florida progressive activist Susan Smith should find this video interesting. We had a Facebook comment discussion on how much responsibility does right-wing pundits and Tea Party candidates are to blame for Jared Loughner's murdering rampage in Arizona. My position is I find the violent rhetoric of Sarah Palin, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck reprehensible. It is protected speech. Unless they were conspiring with Loughner (and I am not suggesting they were) they are in the legal clear.

Cenk Uygur makes a compelling counter argument that conservative pundits and Republican politicians bear blame for several violent incidents in recent years.

GLENN BECK: “I’m thinking about killing Michael Moore and I’m wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out of him. Is this wrong?”

Beck needs to ask if murdering Michael Moore is wrong?

Beck has publicly stated, "I could give a flying crap about the political process." Beck told Forbes he runs an "entertainment company." Beck's brand of entertainment is making a public death threat to get attention. Beck always will be first and foremost a shock jock.

Labels: , , , ,

Questions for Benjamin Kirby on the Clinton administration's economic team

Blogger Benjamin Kirby held several positions in the Clinton administration. I cover economics and probably the only person on the planet interested in Clinton economic team gossip. I am going to field some questions and hopefully Kirby will write a response blog post. Consider my blog the of economics blogging. It is a void that needs to be filled.

Did a black cloud follow Larry Summers when he walked down the halls of the West Wing?

Did Summers' assistant Brad Delong mumble the word NAFTA repeatedly.

What was the working relationship between Robert Rubin and Joseph Stiglitz like?

Was there anyone in the White House who didn't know that Summers and Stiglitz hated each other?

Did Summers openly express frustration for having to take marching orders from Stiglitz

How many times a day did Jason Furman try to kiss Rubin's and Stiglitz's asses.

Did anyone on the economic team ever dare to disagree with Lloyd Bentsen? This question is rhetorical. I already know no one in the White House fucked with Bentson.

Did members of the economic team crack jokes about Al Gore's proposal to tax cow flatulence?

Did Rubin and Stiglitz force junior economic staffers to go to Gore's reinventing government meetings so they wouldn't have to go?

Did Gene Sperling support the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act? If so then how did he square that with his liberal ideals?

Did Rubin support a third veto of welfare reform for policy or partisan reasons?

Did Gore and Mickey Kantor openly fight on environmental regulation?

Did Clinton chew Mickey Kantor out for the political backlash on the left from signing NAFTA into law?

Was Mickey Kantor one of the stupidest people you ever met?

Labels: ,

Monday, January 10, 2011

Buckwheat Buys the Farm

Saturday Night Live parodies the horrible coverage of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan with the famous "Buckwheat Buys the Farm" sketch. Edie Murphy's and Joe Piscopo's predicted how cable news would repeatedly run clips to fill airtime.

Labels: , , , ,

Write A Caption: Glenn Beck

Someone on Twitter wrote the caption, "The John Wayne Gacy News Hour w/ Glenn Beck" or "The Tears of an AssClown."

Labels: ,

Jared Loughner Was An Independent

The Washington Post reports Jared Loughner registered as an independent in 2006. He did not vote in the 2010 election. I doubt that will put an end to debate of which political side Loughner belongs to.

I have stated there is no evidence Loughner was involved with the Tea Party. There is evidence pointing to Loughner being an anti-Semite. The Department of Homeland Security is investigating whether Loughner is involved with the hate group American Renaissance. Loughner has read "Mein Kampf." Loughner's scary mug shot bears the appearance of a skinhead. None of this is conclusive. Hopefully, the criminal investigation will make matters clearer.

I don't blame Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh for the shooting deaths of six people. I do blame them for their despicable rhetoric. Many people of tired of the violent language used by conservative pundits and Republican politicians. Gabrielle Giffords' being shot was the breaking point for many progressives who tired of conservatives making jokes about killing liberals. Instead of Palin, Limbaugh and Glenn Beck understanding why the Left would be angered at being painted as targets for the Right's crosshairs they either played victim or accused the Left of playing politics. I have yet to hear a person call Palin or Beck the voices of centrist reason.

Labels: , ,