Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
In a private meeting in the Capitol just now, a dozen or more House liberals bluntly told Nancy Pelosi that there was no chance that they would vote to pass the Senate bill in its current form — making it all but certain that House Dems won’t opt for this approach, a top House liberal tells me.What part of losing the safest Senate seat in the Country don't they get?
We cannot support the Senate bill — period,” is the message that liberals delivered to the Speaker, Dem Rep Raul Grijalva told me in an interview just now.
Some had hoped Pelosi would push liberals to get in line behind this approach, in hopes of expediting reform, but that didn’t appear to happen in this meeting. Pelosi mostly listened, Grijalva said, adding: “We didn’t get any declarative statement from her.”
The meeting, which was polite but blunt in tone, underscores the degree to which Dems are scrambling to figure out a way forward on health care in the wake of last night’s loss. The unwillingness of liberals, and some in labor, to support passing the Senate bill means House Dem leaders need to find another way forward — fast — and leadership aides are scouring procedural rules as we speak.
Doug at DownwithTyranny! made an ass of himself yesterday with as dubious a prediction as I can recall in some time: Doug Goes Out On A Limb-- Predicts Coakley By 10 Points Tomorrow.
I wanted to post about it yesterday but I thought better of it. But today, Doug is getting his just rewards. Folks in the comments are letting him hear about it, some not so kindly; humorously but not kindly.
It's like he set himself up:
This is a good test of my thinking. Am I looking at politics and thinking about this election rationally, or am I just being an optimist, hoping that voters are still sensible people who won’t elect candidates from the Beavis and Batshit wing of the Republican Party? Okay, I’m going to take a deep breath, and say this: Coakley wins by 10%. The third party candidate gets 3%. Massachusetts is a Democratic state.
Really, no one who works in politics can predict an individual election with any degree of confidence, not an election where both candidates have wide recognition and have run credible campaigns, meaning they’ve reached most voters several times. I base this on a simple premise: anyone who actually could consistently predict these elections would be making their living betting on them, would be rich, and we wouldn’t be hearing from them on websites or on the news.
You can only know what usually happens, what is most likely to be true, what would be a practically unprecedented result. Don’t go searching through the evidence for secret portents or unique local factors. If you do, you’ll be a very smart person who ends up saying some very silly things.
UPDATE: It'll make his head explode but watching Frank Luntz's focus group might provide some insight for Doug on how he could be so magnificently wrong.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Scott Brown does it! Some thoughts:
This is what Her Majesty had to say yesterday. What will Nancy say tomorrow?
Juan Williams on Sean Hannity's program suggested that the President will keep to his promise to 'double-down' on an agenda that seems to be getting less and less popular, public opinion be damned. Will they stick to it? I find it hard to believe that smart pols can be that thick but who knows. If they do, I still stand by this: There will be bodies in the street come November.
There is apparently at least one grown up in the Senate. And maybe a second.
Finally, on what comes next, Mark Steyn quotes an anonymous emailer calling for a "Boxer Rebellion." From his lips to God's ears.
Monday, January 18, 2010
With a Scott Brown win in Massachusetts becoming an actual possibility, there has been much speculating in the last few days about how Congressional Democrats might deal with the loss of their 60-seat majority in passing a Health Care bill. Here is one potentiality:
Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Mon, January 18, 2010 — 7:09 PM ET
Democrats Seeking to Push Senate Health Bill Through House
The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders, scrambling for a backup plan to rescue their health care legislation if Republicans win the special election in Massachusetts on Tuesday, are preparing to ask House Democrats to approve the Senate version of the bill, which would send the measure directly to President Obama for his signature.
Should they try this or attempt the other oft-talked-about solution of passing somehting via reconciliation, I do not doubt for one second there will be bodies in the streets of DC come November 2nd.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
December sales were down and 2009 a year of record bad retail numbers: Retail sales fell in December as demand for autos, clothing and appliances all slipped, a disappointing finish to a year in which sales had the largest drop on record.
The weakness in consumer demand highlighted the formidable hurdles facing the economy as it struggles to recover from the deepest recession in seven decades.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that retail sales declined 0.3 percent in December compared with November, much weaker than the 0.5 percent rise that economists had been expecting. Excluding autos, sales dropped by 0.2 percent, also weaker than the 0.3 percent rise analyst had forecast.
For the year, sales fell 6.2 percent, the biggest decline on records that go back to 1992. The only other year that annual sales fell was in 2008, when they slipped by 0.5 percent.
Our December was right in line with the rest of 4Q09, right around 20% off of last year's numbers. If there's an economic rebound but you've gone out of business, did it really happen?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I got to spend part of my morning at the local DMV office, as today is a day when they are actually open. California long ago adopted the sophisticated 'take a number' approach to handling walk-in traffic and today there was a sizable crowd waiting to be helped when I arrived.
Thankfully, I had planned ahead and scheduled an appointment. About two-thirds of the way through not-resolving my issues our reverie was broken by the sound of the clerk working the far-end of the counter calling for the next number. And the next number. And the number after that.
Finally, in a very uncharacteristic display of humor for a state employee she just blurted out "Anyone with a number...." I didn't see who stepped up to the counter.
Monday, January 11, 2010
Apparently voting records are now racist:
First, Reid’s allies plan to distribute the NAACP vote ratings of Republican senators who have scolded him. The data will be made available to editorial boards, cable programs and the blogosphere — including votes on minimum wage, community-oriented policing, education funding and HIV/AIDS programs.
Separately, the Congressional Black Caucus plans to issue a new statement Monday, defending Reid and brushing back Republicans.
“Senator Reid’s record provides a stark contrast to actions of Republicans to block legislation that would benefit poor and minority communities — most recently reflected in Republican opposition to the health bill now under consideration,” CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said. “I look forward to Senator Reid continuing to serve as Majority Leader to guide this important agenda through the Senate.”
"I did it," or How Mark McGwire Used Steroids and
Lied About It Covered It Up.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Friday, January 08, 2010
The December job report hit today and was a disappointment for folks who thought the economy was turning a corner; Unemployment remains at 10% but the economy, rather than adding jobs, shed an additional 85,000.
Bob Stein of First Trust Advisers doesn't think it's all bad news:
However, the other data in the report suggest payroll growth will start again very soon. I say "again" because revisions to last months' data show that payrolls increased 4,000 in November, the first gain in two years. Two other positive numbers jumped out of the report. First, finance/insurance jobs increased 10,000, the most in three years. Second, temp employment — traditionally a leading sign of labor demand — increased for the fifth straight month. Meanwhile, the total number of hours worked in the private sector were unchanged in December, remaining 0.6 percent above the bottom in October. Given the economic growth we've had since the summer, the jobless rate probably peaked at 10.1 percent in October. Unemployment ticked down to 10.0 percent in November and held there in December. The jobless rate will not decline every month, but is likely to be significantly lower by late next year.
Hhhmmm. A glimmer of hope? Maybe. But then came James Pethoukis:
1. Remember this simple formula: Unemployment drives presidential approval numbers and presidential approval numbers drive midterm election results.
2. President Barack Obama’s approval numbers are hovering just a tick below 50 percent. Since 1962, the average House midterm loss for the president’s party when his approval is sub-50 percent is 41 seats. The GOP needs 40 to take the House.
3. And make no mistake, the December unemployment numbers were bad both economically and politically. The 85,000 job loss was worse than expected and will be played that way the media. The continuation of a double-digit unemployment also resonates with voters. And not a in a good way.
4. Then will come the second-take stories that will notice the shrinking labor force, which dropped by nearly 700,000 from November. Had it stayed stable for last month, the jobless rate would have been 10.4 percent. Had it stayed stable since August, the jobless rate would be 11 percent!
5. But wait, there’s more! The U-6 rate rate which combines the basic jobless rate, discouraged workers, part-timers-who-would-rather-be-full-tim ers climbed to 17.3 percent. And the average duration of unemployment rose to a record high 29.1 weeks.
6. Also, there is every indication that as the slowly growing economy eventually draws workers back in the labor force, the jobless rate will creep up to new highs. (Big companies remain cautious about hiring, and small biz remains under pressure due to tight capital markets.) The validity of the Obama recovery plan will seriously be cast in doubt.
7. The sickly labor market will also make is that much harder for the White House and Hill Dems to celebrate what is likely to be a brisk upcoming GDP report in the 4-5 percent range. That seems like an abstract number compared to the unemployment rate.
8. Combine a weak labor market – which may appear to be getting worse to voters – with the moribund housing market and rising gas prices, and you got a toxic triple threat that will be poisonous to Democratic incumbents and further drain Obama’s political capital
Granted, their takes come from different angles but what to think?
Politico reports this morning that one-time Pony Express rider and current ESPN football analyst Craig James is considering a run for the US Senate: James told WFAA-TV that he’s testing the waters for a Senate race for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat. Hutchison is running for governor, and has said she would be stepping down from office sometime this year.
James told the station that he’s been meeting with prominent Texas Republican donors in order to raise his political profile, and will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming conservative policy luncheon being attended by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. John Cornyn.
“I'm a Texan. I’m concerned for our country,” he said. “I disagree with the approach that we're having, things that are taking place, and so whatever door opens up, I’ll look at it, if and when it opens up,” James said.
While James might fancy himself as a future politician, he’d have a tough time winning many votes in west Texas right now. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call James one of the most loathed people in in Lubbock, where many students and alumni are blaming him for losing their successful coach.
Well, there is that...
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Another example of the old axiom that what starts in California follows in the rest of the country, or in this particular case, if it's a bad idea it, undoubtedly, came from California:
The trick, when looking at the new withholding tax tables for 2010 as compared to post-stimulus 2009, buries an increase in federal withholding taxes–for all income categories–basically giving the government an interest-free loan until current year taxes are filed next year. Some would blame the increase in withholding on the Making Work Pay tax credit being spread out over 12 months as compared to 2009, which was only over 9 months, but this would be impossible as some middle class wage categories carry an increase in the withholding tax of over $200 per pay period.
Unlike the middle class wage earners, who are going to see huge amounts taken out of their paychecks, unless they increase their exemptions on their W4 form, it’s an increase that most wouldn’t even notice–$10 or $20 in some cases.
So now the rest of the country can enjoy loaning the Feds an extra bit of their check every two weeks just as the unfortunate citizens of California have been doing for the past few months. On the bright side, avoiding this bit of chicanery is an unexpected benefit of being unemployed.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown laments what California has done to itself:
If we as a state want to make a New Year's resolution, I suggest taking a good look at the California we have created. From our out-of-sync tax system to our out-of-control civil service, it's time for politicians to begin an honest dialogue about what we've become.
Take the civil service.
The system was set up so politicians like me couldn't come in and fire the people (relatives) hired by the guy they beat and replace them with their own friends and relatives.
Over the years, however, the civil service system has changed from one that protects jobs to one that runs the show.
The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life.
But we politicians, pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers.
Talking about this is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide for most officeholders. But at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact that 80 percent of the state, county and city budget deficits are due to employee costs.
Either we do something about it at the ballot box, or a judge will do something about in Bankruptcy Court. And if you think I'm kidding, just look at Vallejo.
Color me dumbstruck.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Erick Erickson lays out his thoughts about the recent killing of CIA employees last week in this post at Red State. Erick suggests that the President's public 'outpouring' over these deaths poses a threat to the Agency:
People tell me the President’s rush to acknowledge the attack on the CIA in Afghanistan and mourn the deaths openly, publicly, and via press release is a huge no no. The CIA and greater intelligence community would prefer not to have the attention put on them. Additionally, because the President took the time to draft a blanket statement focused on the CIA in general instead of individually and more privately focusing on the families of the victims, it acknowledges the CIA’s work in Afghanistan, acknowledges that the attack has an impact on the CIA, and gives the terrorists a new recruiting tool — “you too can cause America to publicly mourn the loss of their spies.”
An interesting thought but what really caught my attention was the addendum to the original post:
UPDATED: Take the information above and couple it with this. The White House is subtly blaming the intelligence community for the failure to deduce the Delta/Northwest attack.
Presidential aides are concerned that Obama will somehow be unfairly accused of dropping the ball on the fight against terrorist in Yemen
Because the President is worried about being blamed, the White House is trying to blame the CIA while at the same time undermining the CIA through a rush to publicize the Afghan attack.
What Erick describes sounds to me like the beginnings of yet another fight with the Agency, akin to what we saw last year with Speaker Pelosi calling the Agency a bunch of liars when it came to intel briefings about waterboarding years earlier. So, if the President is blaming the agency that's not going to go over well at Langley.
As we witnessed over the last 8 years, when push comes to shove the Agency can damage the President greatly. Adding to this also is the potential for exposing CIA operatives to legal prosecution over interrogation methods which may come to light in the trials of KSM and others when those start.
So my question is simply this: Will the CIA declare war on another President?