Category Archives: McCain

The Fiscal Bluff and GOP Politics As Usual

Vegas Jessie posts a timely letter from a small business owner to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) along with a predictable response from the Congressman, which just as predictably doesn’t directly address the issues raised by the correspondent.  Heck, as Vegas Jessie observes “presented nothing new or nothing of any practical application…”

No one should be surprised.  The Republican Party — in all its glorious disarray in Nevada — hasn’t had a new idea since St. Ronald de Reagan opened his presidential campaign at the Neshoba (Mississippi) County Fair.  The current incarnation of Republicanism is as obvious as it has been since the Days of Lee Atwater and Company.  The name of the game is still the same; GOP support for the wealthy and their agenda, including privatizing, voucherizing, and shredding the social safety net.  Their first major tactic is simply obscurative, the second is obstructionist.

The Politics of Distraction

The Benghazi Blitz: So, will someone explain, cogently and rationally, why any sentient human being would be passionately concerned about Ambassador Susan Rice’s preliminary information about the attack on the Benghazi consulate?  There isn’t one. Ambassador Rice could secure the imprimatur of the Pope and it wouldn’t suffice to satisfy Senator John McCain’s need to have a topic at hand for his weekly appearance on some Sunday Villager Shows.  If Ambassador Rice explains that the talking points were prepared by the intelligence agencies, then McCain complains that the intelligence community was at some unspecified fault AND that Ambassador Rice should have “asked better or more questions.”  If she had released NO information regarding the Benghazi attack then McClain would clamor about the lack of commentary.  In short, there’s no way to win — this is simply a distraction from larger issues, as well as a way for a Senator facing a term limit on his committee assignments to remain “relevant.”  The issue does make for a nice side show for the Chattering Classes, but accomplishes  nothing to advance political issues of any import.  It’s also an effort to “Create-A-Problem.”

Create-A-Problem Politics

The current Debt Crisis provides an excellent example of “Create-A-Problem” politics.  The process of setting a “debt ceiling” has been around since 1917 when it was an initial step toward financing the costs associated with World War I.  The debt ceiling has been raised without much controversy 74 times since 1962, including 10 times since 2001. [CNN] However, the Congress — imbued with an abundance of Tea Party enthusiasm and plutocrat campaign money — decided to transform the Debt Ceiling to a Debt Crisis in 2011.

Combining the national debt issue (run up by the Bush administration’s tax policies + two wars kept off the books + a nasty recession), with the Republican raison d’etre, repealing the New Deal and the Great Society, gave the GOP its talking points: We ‘must reform entitlements’ (privatize Social Security and voucherize Medicare) and bring down the debt along with other government activities associated with serving the needs of those American people who aren’t ensconced in corner offices.

That privatizing Social Security and voucherizing Medicare are wildly unpopular doesn’t faze the average Republican servant of power.  Thus, cutting these programs must be carefully couched in a climate of fear.

The GOP would have us all a-tremor as if Annie Wilkes, Baby Jane Hudson, Leatherface, Norman Bates, and the Riddler were at the doorstep.   “Social Security… is going broke…has been raided…is going bankrupt…won’t be there for our grandchildren….”  None of this is true, but that doesn’t stop the GOP from using the talking points.

Since this line of attack didn’t work in 2004, 2008, and 2012, there’s a back up plan.  Encapsulated as, “We have to ‘reform’ Social Security and Medicare because we’re going broke.”  Here’s where the manufactured Debt Crisis comes into play.

The outcome of the Big Budget Manufactured Crisis of 2011 was the Budget Control Act, a complicated piece of legislation which gave the White House what it wanted — an extension of unemployment benefits and a second stimulus package in exchange for allowing the Corner Office denizens to continue enjoying their Bush Era tax cuts.  [Corn, MJ]  The Obama Administration (contrary to the Villager Narrative) didn’t get played:

“At a postelection meeting with labor leaders and progressive activists, several of whom were itching for a tax cut fight with the Republicans, White House aides were blunt. To win these stimulative shots, Summers told them, we’re going to have to give up on killing the tax cuts for the rich. “Getting more for our people is more important than getting less for their people,” he said at the meeting.” [Corn, MJ]

The Obama Administration won the first round, and if anything could be more convincing that the Republicans are driven by the need to protect the income of the top 1% the Budget Control Act then someone missed the memo in which the GOP agreed to two things which would have been unconscionable for them under ‘normal’ circumstances  (unemployment benefit extensions & a second stimulus) in order to preserve the lower tax rates for the Upper Uppers.

Distractions and the Creation of the Fiscal Bluff

The Budget Control Act of 2011 sowed the seeds of its own destruction.  The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Super Committee) included in the legislation was supposed to ‘solve’ the deficit reduction problem admitted failure in November 2011:

“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”

It might be interesting to find out how many people thought the Super Committee had any chance, however remote, to succeed in the first place.  The posturing, positioning, and palaver of 2011 gave the Administration what it wanted, and kicked the tax issue into the 2012 elections.

At this point the Fiscal Cliff becomes the Fiscal Bluff.  The Bush Tax Cuts are due to expire with the last toot of the last manufactured-in-China paper New Year’s horn.   There are new cards on the table, but the GOP is still playing with a very used deck.

McConnell’s old card, propose the discredited Romney unspecified loophole plan, cut corporate taxes, and tax lower income people (GOP code is “broaden the tax base”) It’s no accident the Bowles-Simpson Commission earned the sobriquet “Cat Food Commission.”

“Well, I don’t think it’s a secret that for our part, Republicans have shown a clear willingness to make tough choices in order to find a solution to the trillion-dollar deficits of the last four years. “We’ve been open to revenue by closing loopholes, as long as it’s tied to spending cuts and pro-growth tax reform that broadens the base and lowers rates. This is the model laid out by the Bowles-Simpson commission, and it’s a model both parties should step forward and embrace.”  [RCP]

McConnell went a bit further, playing an even older card, and  putting social safety net programs up for grabs on the GOP side of the table:

“McConnell said Republicans want any agreement to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” to include adjustments to eligibility and benefits in the Social Security and Medicare programs.”  [LCJ]

Cantor’s old card, put the Affordable Care Act ‘on the table’ as a bargaining chip in deficit reduction talks.  By Cantor’s lights it’s a bloated entitlement.

“During an appearance on Fox News on Monday, House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) asserted that Obamacare “ought to be on the table” for cuts during ongoing budget and deficit-reduction negotiations between President Obama and Congressional leaders.” [Times24/7]
That the Affordable Care Act actually reduces the federal deficit by $143 billion in the next decade appears of little concern to Representative Cantor.  The Republicans, and their health insurance corporate allies, don’t like the provisions of Obamacare, ergo they’ll throw it out as a possible chip — which has about as much chance of success as promoting  a Dachshund High Jump Contest.

House Speaker John Boehner’s old card is the same as Cantor’s, put Obamacare on the table.

“The president’s health care law adds a massive, expensive, unworkable government program at a time when our national debt already exceeds the size of our country’s entire economy. We can’t afford it, and we can’t afford to leave it intact. That’s why I’ve been clear that the law has to stay on the table as both parties discuss ways to solve our nation’s massive debt challenge.” [Cin.Com]

What’s expensive about a program that decreases the deficit by $143 billion over the next ten years?    Speaker Boehner’s tactical argument is little more than a repetition of the 33 ceremonial House votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.   [LAT]

The Affordable Care Act repeal suggestions are pure bluff — what politician could possibly believe that the President wouldn’t veto a bill repealing his signature piece of legislation?

The American public must then be left with the unmistakable conclusion that it is more important for the Republicans to protect the income of the Richer Rich than to secure  Social Security, Medicare, and Affordable Care Act for the middle class, as they play all the old games bluffing their way toward the Fiscal Cliff of their own devising.

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Filed under Heck, McCain, Medicaid, Medicare, Republicans, Social Security, tax revenue, Taxation

Turkey Time: DB’s Nominations

It’s holiday time, and here are DB’s nominations for the Birds of the Season.  The Turkeys are (in no particular order):

Presidential candidate Mitt “47%” Romney, who managed to insult ethnic minority groups, women, moderates, independent thinkers, elders on Social Security, students getting Pell Grants, advocates of clean energy, conservationists, women’s health care proponents, Medicare enrollees, consumer advocates, social safety net supporters, and then wondered why he didn’t win the 2012 election.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who having defended the nomination of Condoleeza Rice to be Secretary of State (Anyone remember that Mushroom Cloud reference?) attacked U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for being “stupid” and “deceitful.”   This state of affairs shouldn’t be surprising because a quick search of DB would soon demonstrate that Senator McCain was quite often the recipient of the unwanted and un-complimentary Deck Bass award of recent memory.

Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) nemesis Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, gets a Turkey for his statement that revenue increases are maybe kind of sort of could be OK, IF we fix the Real Problem.  The Real Problem for Senator McConnell appears to be that Social Security exists.   There’s no reason to raise the retirement age in the United States, because the Social Security system adds ZIP ZERO ZILCH to the national debt.  However, if we want to make the system more secure — how about lifting the cap on taxable earnings above the current $110,000?

Republican members of the Ohio state legislature who decided not to consider a sex education bill in favor of advancing bills to strip funding from Planned Parenthood, and to enact a “heartbeat” anti-abortion bill. [TP] Because, hey, there’s nothing like preventing kids from getting medically accurate, scientifically valid, information on human sexuality to keep unwanted pregnancies from occurring?

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) whose definition of “compromise” means that the GOP would consider cuts to military spending and all other spending cuts to reduce the national debt — but would not consider any proposals to pay for the Bush Tax Cuts and the two wars launched during the Bush Administration.  [TP] It seems obvious that Senator Paul would like to balance the national budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, and the poor.   There’s a real Turkey.

Energy company backed climate change deniers whose opposition to any measures to conserve our planet by reducing our dependence on fossil fuels may be precipitating a situation which the UN Environment Program, the World Bank, PriceWaterhouseCooper, World Meteorological Organization, and the International Energy Agency say is dire now and could become life threatening sooner rather than later.  [HuffPo]

Hostess/Wonder Bread, which having been sold and bought three times since the 1980s and selling off valuable company assets all along the way, piled up so much debt that it first declared bankruptcy in 2004 — after management gave themselves handsome bonuses for creating the dismal financial situation.   During the 2004 bankruptcy process the union gave back $110 million in concessions, which they were told would be spent on new technology and machinery.  The promises were never kept by the two hedge funds and a private equity firm who own the company.  Instead the management saddled the corporation with about $800 million in debts, and then asked labor for 27% to 32% in additional give-backs.  [Counter] [Forbes]  This, while senior management asked the current bankruptcy court to give them a 75% bonus for sticking around to liquidate the company. [Reuters] Somehow, “gobble gobble” sounds entirely too polite.

Faux News commentator Bill O’Reilly who is quick to tell us that single women, ethnic minorities, and African Americans aren’t “traditional” Americans, i.e. “real Americans.”   O’Reilly joins Andrea Tantaros who opined that Food Stamps could be a wonderful “diet plan.” [MMA]

The Security and Exchange Commission, which is supposed to be the nation’s watchdog agency on Wall Street, seems to have been spending an inordinate amount of time on “extra-curricular” activities. [C&L] There’s more from Rolling Stone magazine.  The article is an antidote to the tryptophan in the turkey.

Don’t take House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) too seriously when he says the Affordable Care Act is now the Law of the Land, he walked that statement back in land speed record time.  He and his conservative allies are supporting law suits to attack the bill’s provisions, delaying the implementation of the insurance exchanges, and rejecting Medicaid expansion.   [TPM]

The GOP operatives, legislators, and strategists who are promoting Vote Suppression.  [Nation]  Phony voter identification law proposals are still on the horizon, there’s a conservative backed case headed to the Supreme Court to gut the Voting Rights Act, and last year House Republicans tried to eliminate the US Election Assistance Commission.  Voting is a RIGHT, not a privilege.  Turkey.

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Filed under abortion, ecology, labor, McCain, Politics, Romney, Securities Exchange Commission, Vote Suppression, Voting, Women's Issues

>Look Before You Leap: McCain Offers Mortgage Meltdown Restoration Amendment To Keep Nevada In Recession

>Senator John “I’m Desperate To Look Ultra-Conservative” McCain is joining his colleague, Senator John Ensign (R-NV) in the current chorus of Mortgage Twin bashing, with an amendment that may not do much more than bring an already fragile housing market back down to its knees. [TWR] As reported in a previous post the two corporations DO NOT actually guarantee home mortgages. There is an implicit reference to backstopping those mortgages, but at the risk of redundancy, there is NO direct guarantee.

According to the Conservative narrative, Fannie and Freddie (which conservatives have never liked because they promote middle to lower income housing) were responsible for the credit collapse of 2007-2008. While the two corporations did not cover themselves in glory, they were caught between an unpleasant rock and an equally uncomfortable hard place in the run up to the Mortgage Meltdown and subsequent credit crunch beginning in 2007.

Using Fannie and Freddie as scapegoats for the mortgage meltdown serves two purposes. First, it allows the Conservatives to be rid of government sponsored programs, one of which was part of the New Deal, and there is little they’d like to do more than dismantle all vestiges of New Deal legislation — including Social Security. Secondly, attacking the Mortgage Twins allows the spotlight to be removed from the activities of bank and non-bank institutions that contributed mightily to the meltdown. There are problems with this narrative.

The first problem is that since 1968 neither of the mortgage twins is anything other than a private, shareholder owned, corporation. (Freddie was chartered in 1970). Senator McCain’s amendment to the financial regulation reform bill would do nothing other than attack, not government enterprises, but two formerly functional private corporations. He is calling for unwinding the two corporations on a “date certain.” Speaking of “picking winners and losers,” Senator McCain is doing precisely that — picking two corporations to be dissolved from the many (Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, etc.) who participated in the run up to the meltdown.

The second problem with the narrative is that as opposed to being central to the meltdown, the Mortgage Twins were caught in the middle of it. Those advocating more low income and moderate income level affordable housing to create the Ownership Society pressed the Twins to reduce the standards for conforming loans. Those who were all but desperate to accumulate more fodder for the aforementioned Great American Securitization Sausage Machine (Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, etc.) were clamoring for the Twins to reduce the conformation standards such that more mortgages were available for more pools to create more Collateralized Debt Obligations being cranked out by Wall Street trading desks.

We need to return for a moment to the Summer of 2008 when Fannie and Freddie stocks were on the brink, and international investors were worried that they would go under. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson and his staff discussed the possibility of seeking some way to nationalize the corporations, but didn’t see any appetite for that in Congress. On Wednesday, August 20, Fannie’s stock dropped to 4 1/2, and central bankers worried that even though that corporation had raised equity during the previous Spring, it wasn’t going to be sufficient. The problem was one of appearances. Ultimately, placing the Mortgage Twins in a conservatorship was “unfortunate, but probably unavoidable. The U.S. government had encouraged investors to think that Fannie and Freddie had its backing. Though the policy had been woefully misguided, Paulson was bound to honor it.” {Lowenstein: The End of Wall Street, NY Penquin Press, p. 162-163} Legislation enacted in 1992 allowed the Mortgage Twins access to a line of credit, and the home mortgage industry had the best of both worlds: “To mortgage financiers, private capital was always preferable to federal control, but private capital with federal support was the best alternative of all.” {Lowenstein, p. 10} The “line of credit from Treasury” was interpreted by the bankers as a guarantee of the Mortgage Twins’ solvency.

The third problem with the narrative is that the Conservative’s story ignores the function of the Mortgage Twins. Both were established to provide a vehicle by which banks and thrifts could free up funds to make additional loans. If a bank or other lending institution had to carry every mortgage ever made on its own books the result would be stifling. The formative idea behind the creation of Fannie Mae was to allow banks to sell conforming loans as securities, thus freeing up bank funds for additional mortgage lending. As long as the conformation standards were sufficiently stringent, and there was no pressure to dilute standards to meet the needs of the Securitization Sausage Machines in the investment banking sector, all went reasonably well.

When the residential based mortgage securities portion of the financial sector boomed as the likes of Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, etc. sought more mortgages to slice, dice, and tranche into collateralized debt obligations, the Mortgage Twins complied with demands for the reduction in conformation standards. The race to the bottom was on.

Instead of operating as a “brake” on the securitization of mortgages by holding loan conformation standards steady, the Mortgage Twins broke under the pressure. “Fannie and Freddie went into a death spiral because they were sidelined by Wall Street bankers who set out to steal their customers with high-risk loans that Fannie and Freddie’s fairly strict lending rules wouldn’t allow. Once Wall Street got out of hand by financing teaser-rate, low-down-payment, no-doc ARMS, and the like for anyone who would ask, low-income borrowers flocked to those loans in droves. Forget Fannie and Freddie – their mortgages took too long to get.” [HousingWatch]

The situation could be summed up by saying that had Fannie and Freddie been able to stick to their guns (their standards for the kinds of loans they would securitize) then they could have performed the function for which they were initially created without taking on too much risk. With their own shareholders demanding more profitability (by reducing mortgage conformation standards to compete with the new securitizers on the block) when “the flocks started to move in droves,” the Mortgage Twins were unable to sustain their initial function.

Replacing Something With Nothing

Senator McCain’s amendment would actually exacerbate some of the problems we’re still experiencing in the housing market.

#1.Some 95 percent of mortgage originations are currently being backed by the federal government, with the vast majority of this coming through the GSEs. The McCain amendment would cause significant uncertainty among the investors in GSE-issued mortgage-backed securities, threatening the primary source of mortgage credit we have at this time, without offering any alternative sources of liquidity.” [APA] Liquidity refers to the “sell-ability” of an asset. The logic goes this way: Fannie/Freddie securitize mortgages. If they no longer assure investors of the quality (liquidity) of a mortgage based security, then investors will no longer purchase them. And, if investors will not purchase the securities, then bankers will have no way to get mortgages off their books. With more mortgages on the books for the long term, banks would be forced to lend short term money for long term debts, and it wouldn’t take long for mortgage credit in the United States to dry up.

#2.Private securitization and the GSEs account for approximately $9 trillion of the $14 trillion total outstanding mortgages in the United States today. With the future of private securitization highly uncertain, policy makers seeking to reform the housing finance system must ensure that the system of the future will provide sufficient liquidity to meet the mortgage needs of Americans. The McCain amendment would eliminate existing sources of mortgage liquidity while remaining silent on the more difficult question of how to replace them.” [APA]
Translation: “Existing sources of mortgage liquidity” means some way to make mortgage based securities attractive to investors who will buy them from the Mortgage Twins who have purchased them from the banks.

At this juncture the rubber meets the road: Who would investors trust to determine that the underlying assets in a residential mortgage based security are sufficient to guarantee an acceptable level of return on the investment? Lehman Brothers?…they don’t exist anymore. Merrill Lynch?…they sold themselves to Bank of America. Bear Stearns?…they are now just a division of JPMorganChase.

Instead of creating more stability (and therefore more liquidity) in the housing market, Senator McCain’s amendment would have the practical effect of introducing more uncertainty (and therefore additional cost and less liquidity) into the housing market. It’s hard to imagine a better way to send the already struggling U.S. — not to mention Nevada — housing market down into oblivion. McCain’s amendment may make for wonderful political narrative grandstanding, but it’s lousy housing and economic policy.

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Filed under financial regulation, housing, McCain

>Same Old Game, Same Old Players: GOP launches new edition of old media tactics

>Here we go again! The CNN headline says it all: “GOP Senators say Obama off to bad start.” And, why is this news? Perhaps because it’s exemplary of GOP old style politics as usual. If we follow the Republican logic, because Congressional members of the Republican Party decided to shove their heels into the ground and refuse to vote in favor of an economic stimulus bill that was about 38% tax cuts, and House Republicans decided to vote against the bill before President Obama even had time to drive up to Capitol Hill, therefore: Obama’s bipartisanship attempts are “off to a bad start.” Of course things are off to a rocky start — the Republicans aren’t about to cooperate. They just proved it. Worse still, they’ve reverted right back to their manipulative standard operating procedures for the past eight years.

Move the football: No matter how much consideration the other side gives you, it will never be enough. If the GOP had wanted 40% tax cuts in the package and got 38%, that would not be enough to declare “bi-partisanship.” Therefore, a member of the Grand Obstructionist Party need never vote in favor of any bill supported by the Democratic administration.

Move the goal posts: No matter how many amendments they are allowed to put forth, if the Democrats don’t vote in favor of their amendments – while the GOP reserves the right to vote en masse against Democratic bills and amendments – a bill will never be “bi-partisan.”

Change the Subject: Don’t admit that your side was on the losing side of the scoreboard, talk about how the bill was “supposed to be bi-partisan” instead of how you couldn’t keep three of your own Senators from voting for the Administration bill. Above all, get yourself on as many cable news channels as possible, with as many soft-ball interviewers as available, to announce the subject change.

Play “No Mud On Me:” The first element is to put the onus on the opponent, establish a goal for the opposition that it never adopted such as insuring that the Republicans feel “warm and fuzzy” about a bill under consideration. (See above: Items 1 and 2, they never will) Then when the opposition, in this case the Democratic Administration, fails to meet a goal it never set for itself, grandly announce that it has failed. Remember: President Obama said he wanted to change the old style slash and burn politics, and felt that the American public wanted that outcome as well. What he never said was that he was going to do this by himself.

As TPM puts it, “…wonder what would have happened if McCain had lost?”

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Filed under McCain, Obama

>The Sunday Deck Bass Super Bowl and the GOP Super Bawl


If northern Nevada’s least coveted, most utterly unwanted, completely unsought award, The Sunday Deck Bass, were in play-off format for the 2008-09 season, the contenders would be former President George W. Bush (10), Senator John McCain (17), Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons (9), and former NYC major Rudy Giuliani (5). Assuming that a power ranking playoff format were applied, then Bush (10) would face Giuliani (5), and McCain (17) would square off against Gibbons (9). If the numbers determined the outcome, the Deck Bass Super Bawl would pit McCain vs. Bush. The edge has to go to Senator John McCain for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he’s still in the Senate, with ample opportunity to continue to baffle both his supporters and critics. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that ex-President Bush is completely out of the game.

Bush has performed one major flip flop since exiting the White House and Oval Office, a life style make-over. Gone are the televised press reports with that dilapidated shack-looking feature in the background, the brush whacking photo ops, and the commentary about the “ranch.” Fully energy efficient ranchette backdrop that it was, it served to create his “image” as a “commoner,” about as much as Sir Winston Churchill’s performance decades earlier – if one forgot about the part where Churchill came from Blenhiem. The Bush family has ‘retired’ to a $3.07 million mansion on 1.13 acres of exclusive Dallas real estate.

The former first family will occupy 8,501 square feet, with 896 sq. ft. for servants’ quarters, in addition to a 450 sq. ft. cabana on the property. [Newsweek] Preston Hollow is supposedly serenaded by screech owls (not those pesky Spotted ones), various other birds, and coyotes (Why does having coyotes in the Bush entourage seem appropriate?). The home was purchased with a $3,074,000 loan from the Community National Bank of Midland [CNB] to be paid in full as of October 2012. CNB is a locally owned, self described “independent financial institution, the CEO of which is Jeb B. Hughes. [AU.CNB]

The former President should feel very comfortable in Preston Hollow. The neighborhood is 80% white, and the average family income is $122,509. Residents in its ZIP code donated about $1.6 million in various federal races last year, with the top recipients being Senator John McCain and the Republican National Committee. Not surprisingly, no Republican candidate drew less than 63% of the vote in the precinct in the November 2008 election. [DMN] This puts the ex-President in a secure position near his own goal line.

For his part, Senator John McCain (admitted owner of more home goal lines than he can recall) is now involved crafting his own economic stimulus package in the Senate, pronouncing the Obama Administration plan “disappointing.” The former presidential candidate who put his campaign “on hold,” to rush back to Washington for the TARP negotiations remarked, “I have to tell you I’m disappointed so far in the administration’s lack of consultation or efforts to work with Republicans on the stimulus package.” [WaPo] Evidently a trip to meet with House Republicans on their own turf, and an invitation to the White House Super Bowl party were insufficient.

It doesn’t take a scouting report to determine that the GOP will come with its well thumbed play book – more tax cuts. Their play calling appears to assume that the stimulus package’s Democratic contents are merely “part of the Democratic agenda,” and not really stimulative. McCain’s linemen include Mel Martinez (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Tom Coburn (R-OK) and sidekick Lindsey Graham (R-SC). This front five will no doubt try to blitz the media with “alternatives” (read: tax cuts) favorable to corporate interests. At the risk of repetition, corporate tax cuts are the least stimulative plays in the book. However, that fact probably won’t diminish GOP enthusiasm for throwing long on their first downs, filibustering at the goal line, and reverting to “Hail Marys” in the press when their plays are unsuccessful.

The Super Bowl is scheduled to start at 6:28 PM this evening and will have four timed quarters; the Super Bawl could go much longer.

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Filed under Bush, Economy, McCain, Sunday Deck Bass

>The Sunday Deck Bass: McCain and Boehner compete for top honor


Sunday, and northern Nevada’s least coveted, most unsought, utterly unwanted award is back. This week we have several fine candidates for the Sunday Deck Bass, an award for those who flip and flop about on the political stage like landed large-mouth. Without further ado, our nominees are:

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who fervently supported the expansion of broadband into rural areas during his unsuccessful bid for the Presidency [TP], and sponsored the 2005 Community Broadband Act to increase broadband and Internet access. Now that $6 billion for community broadband service infrastructure is included in the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus package, the Senator is asserting that the system we “cannot afford to cut off” as a successful strategy for economic development, and the “high speed Internet services that facilitate interstate commerce, drive innovation, and promote educational achievements” is a waste of taxpayer dollars – because it won’t work “fast enough.” [TP] Huh?

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) From the House Minority Leader’s Lips during the first GOP weekly radio address under the Obama Administration, “Our plan is rooted in the philosophy that we cannot borrow and spend our way back to prosperity.” [WM] As Steven Benen succinctly put it, “Boehner has supported nothing but borrow and spend policies since the moment he arrived in Congress.” Evidently, Rep. Boehner’s roots aren’t very deep.

The United Nations: No one can possibly justify the killing of aid workers, however the situation in Somalia after years of violence, drought, rising food prices, and economic instability cries for the continuation of humanitarian aid. After the shooting deaths of two aid workers the UN is considering discontinuation of food for 2.5 million people. If, as the UN points out, there are 3.25 million people in that beleaguered nation in need of relief, then what good can be done by threatening the loss of aid already in short supply? More cooperation and assistance is needed from the Somali government (such as it is), but cutting off food aid would seem to be an avenue toward making an already miserable situation even worse. Except, of course, if one is a pirate. [AFP]

The BBC, which has long cast itself as the very arbiter of neutrality, is now in a kerfluffle over whether or not to air an advertisement for the Disasters Emergency Committee which is appealing for charitable donations for Palestinian relief in Gaza. The BBC thinks that the committee’s airing of ads using pictures similar to those used in BBC broadcasting might leave viewers with the impression that the network is taking a political stance. [BBC] So, if a network had photos of villages swamped by a tsunami, and the Red Cross had photos of villages swamped by a tsunami – then the network shouldn’t run the Red Cross ads because they might give the appearance of supporting either the Red Cross or the Big Wave? There may be an argument here for not running the commercial – but this one isn’t it.

And our weekly winner is: Rep. John Boehner. Not only has he managed a ‘perfect 180’ on the subject of “borrow and spend” governance, but he’s done so without so much as a blush to his country club tan.

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Filed under Boehner, McCain, Somalia

>McCain’s New Scary Robo-Smear during northern Nevada’s fright night

>Another evening, another robo call (smear) from the McCain campaign. This evening’s version was an “artificial personal contact” from Pro-Life America informing me right before dinner that Senator Barack Obama supports partial birth abortions, a “procedure” described in graphic detail appropriate only for Halloween; and, certainly not appropriate had a child answered the telephone. Another day, another lie.

The Dobsonites, and other radical right wing groups, seem disinclined to let loose of their “God, Guns, and Gays” theme that worked for them during the Bush Regime elections. Worse still, the McCain campaign, which once said the candidate wouldn’t take the low road to high office, is using all the tricks from the Atwater/Rove/Schmidt bag of sleazy treats.

The antidote? Vote on November 4th!


Filed under McCain

>Flanary’s Flummery: Northern Nevada Robo-Called


Oh, the joys of living in a Battleground State and being on the receiving end of a robo-push poll conducted last night in northern rural Nevada from “Americans in Contact PAC” – telling me that (1) Senator Obama intends The Largest Tax Increase In History! (without mentioning, of course, the enactment of progressive income tax Amendment 16 in February, 1913) and that (2) Senator Obama’s transition team once included representation from one of The Causes of Our Current Financial Distress – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (without, of course noting that Rick Davis, McCain Campaign manager, was a lobbyist for Freddie Mac; or, that Fannie and Freddie were relatively late to the game, moving into the securitization operations after the investment banks made their move.)

The mission of Americans in Contact PAC (AICPAC) is to identify social and fiscal conservatives throughout America and engage them at the Grassroots level in the political process of elections and legislation at all levels of Government (local, county, state and federal).” [AIC] This “engagement” comes from its access to 120 million homes contained in “proprietary databases to which AICPAC has access.” “ccAdvertising,” a branch of the operation bills itself as “a leader in the communications industry, providing artificially intelligent personalized telephone surveys to commercial, political, congressional, and non-profit clients.”

The domain name “” was created on September 23, 2008 and is registered to Jason Flanary of ccAdvertising in Herndon, Virginia. [NtwrkSol] Flanary is listed by Open Secrets as associated with the Fairfax (VA) Chamber of Commerce, which he serves as Vice President of Government Affairs. [OS]

An earlier call from from an unspecified state by Flanary’s outfit asked “Did you know that Obama is a Muslim?” [Dkos] According to Politico, the AIC was calling voters in Connecticut and California during this campaign season which might be the source of the first round of calls. An Alaskan blogger reported a call similar to the one made to northern Nevada yesterday. With Nevada showing up lightly blue on electoral maps, we might expect more of this ridiculousness – or, “artificially intelligent personalized contact?”


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>McCain in his own words: New Obama Ad


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>Coffee and the Papers: NV early voting, polls, and pols


Nevada Democrats are leading Republicans in early voting reports. In Washoe County (Reno-Sparks) 51,209 voted through Sunday (25% of active voters), 51% voting Democratic, 33% Republican. In the Las Vegas metropolitan area (Clark County) 211,178 voted through Sunday, with 53% Democratic voting and 31% Republican. [SJMN] The GMU tracking site shows Clark County with 241,861 early voters, 54% Democratic, 29.1% Republican, and 16.5% other. Washoe is shown with 51,209 early voters, 51.2% Democrats, 32.9% Republicans and 15.9% other. Pollster’s Trend Estimate shows Senator Obama polling at 49.3% and Senator McCain polling at 45.5%. The Reuters-Zogby Poll for October 23-26 indicates a 48% Obama, 44% McCain split, with 8% undecided. The R-Z MOE is 4.1%. Rasmussen Swing State polls show Senator Obama ahead in Colorado, Ohio, and Virginia. Missouri and North Carolina are statistical dead heats. [TPMec]

Predicting how the undecided voters will lean – if indeed they vote at all – may be as much an exercise in speculative conjecture as attempts to extrapolate from polling data on students [KRNV] or from crowd size at campaign rallies. “Family members star in campaign’s last act: Obama’s wife, McCain’s daughter make late pitches for early votes.” [LV Sun] “Ensign pointing finger at McCain” [LV Sun]

It’s getting icky out there: One of those counterfeit fliers telling Republicans to vote on November 4th and Democrats to vote on November 5th has surfaced in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. [HuffPo] About 3 dozen workers walked away from an Indiana calling center rather than read a McCain campaign script that said Senator Obama voted against “protecting children from danger.” [WM] Those 4,500 Georgia voters who were “flagged” by the new exact match voter verification system and were told they could not vote by Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, had their franchise restored by a three judge Federal panel. Federal law prohibits voter purging within 90 days of an election. [CNN] Republicans in Pennsylvania sued to prevent all those registered by ACORN in Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties from inclusion on voter rolls. [PhilInq] A state judge rejected the GOP’s call for expediting the case. [USAT]

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Filed under McCain, Nevada politics, Obama, Politics, Vote Suppression