Friday, December 15, 2006

the gift of junk for the political junkie

The New York Times' "blog" has a interesting piece about holiday gift ideas that are politically themed. (Personally, I would rather get a poster of this map to hang in my room).

Giving someone Orin Hatch's Christmas CD, or any of his CD's is a violation of the 8th amendment I believe.

For another good laugh, you could get them a subscription of the Politico, the ultimate in the Washington Establishment set of always wrong pundits/journalists, by a self-proclaimed supergroup of writers who left their jobs at big papers to start this "paper."

Here's a taste, thanks to the New York Observer
The Post “came back with an unprecedented offer for us to stay,” Mr. VandeHei said, an offer that included positions leading the newspaper’s online political coverage.
"I think we’ll show that we’re better than The New York Times or The Washington Post," Mr. VandeHei said.

Lastly, the Times suggests getting your political geek a mirror. But better yet would be a mirror with the seat of the office of the president on it. Get it for the Senator on your list.

And really, I am tired of stories talking about the fashion choices of the first woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Who cares if she wears nice pearls or Armani suits? Why didn't we talk about the gigantic gut of then-Speaker Hastert, or the tacky outfits of other powerful men? It really is demeaning to women leaders, especially since many of it is coming from women reporters. Women are more than their clothes, hair, makeup, and jewelry. But it is hard to tell from the breathless coverage by the MSM. So you have 24 hours to kill on a cable news show--why don't you do in depth reporting on a single topic, or talk about the leading story on the internets, rather than become a national local news show. Do I really need to know about white power given to a teacher in NJ without any context? Do you really need to know the brand of clothes or type of pearls Speaker Pelosi prefers? Do I care?

The reason Anderson Cooper and Keith Olberman shot up in ratings these last years is because they cut through the crap and get to what really interests Americans without going into "Entertainment Tonight" mode.

To me though, the story of the day on the internets is the news that Atrios has become the CW for Democratic primary voters. And I have to say, there is a lot of truth to that. When he makes a point, it ends up sticking in the dialog on the left blogosphere. How ironic that he is now what he despises, David Broder, at least to some degree.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

when things don't work out

The whole Sen. Johnson blab-fest on the cable news just shows how DC-centric they are. I am sure everyone is talking about this in Washington, no matter how little they know about A) brain surgery and Sen. Johnson's condition and B) the law on replacing incapacitated Senators. It is the perfect event for such DC folks: there is little hard information going around, it is a small event that could have massive implications for public policy and power, and there is no other political news really to speak of until January 8th, when Romney and all the other 2008 wannabes start announcing.

Washington, it has been said, it is a town that runs on rumors. Nothing could be a better example of this adage than poor Sen. Johnson's current health. It sounds like he could be right as rain in a couple of months and let's all pray for the best.

When thinks for the GOP didn't work out this November, they are left hoping Senator Johnson dies, just like Democrats were waiting on Sen. Thurmond to die or to flip a moderate GOPer (they got Jeffords and Chafee should have joined him).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Matheson's new committee

Being the political nerd I am, I have actually been checking Jim's congressional website to see if he had announced what committees he would be on next congress. With so many more committee seats opened up to Democrats, and the new majority interested in holding marginal seats like Jim's, I figured he would get a plumb assignment.

But I never dreamt he would get one of the biggies. "Matheson has snagged one of eight Democratic seats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad authority and oversees several Cabinet-level departments." The article goes on to say him had to give up his other committee assignments. That is because Energy and Commerce is one of the "exclusive" committees--so powerful that to be fair to the 'losers' who don't get to be on them, you have to not be one ANY other committee.

"It's the most powerful committee in Congress," Matheson told the Trib. "It presents a great opportunity. It affects every American." By that he explained to the Deseret News that the committee's jurisdiction covers "five Cabinet-level Departments and seven independent agencies, including the departments of Energy, Health and Human Services, [and] Transportation [as well as] the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission."

On this committee, Jim could very easily block nuclear testing in Nevada and Utah, as well as get his tax-porn and his enforce-video-game-ratings bills onto the floor. If the federal government really could effectively and legally (there's a First Amendment issue to be sure) tax porn, boy that could solve our budget deficit over night. That's because the porn industry is worth about $10 billion!

This just goes to show that it helps to have friends in high places: His chief of staff's husband is the chief in staff to incoming Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

There goes the Senate?

Mere hours after Democrats padded their margin in the House, it seems the narrow hold of the Senate might slip away. NBC's Brian Williams is blogging that South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson, who up until now was the only member of Congress with children serving in Iraq, had a stroke.

The Hotline, as usual, explains the political connotations:
If Sen. Johnson decides he is too ill to continue as Senator, Gov. Mike Rounds (R) would have ten days from the day of Johnson's resignation to appoint a replacement.

Because Johnson's in cycle, his replacement would stay on through the '08 elections.

Rounds was the guy who wanted to outlaw abortions even if the mother had been raped, by the way, and the people of his state voted him down. Don't think that he is feeling particular democratic (or Democratic) these days and would appoint ex-Sen. Daschle or US Rep. Hereseth to replace Johnson. I would pick South Dakotan Tom Brokaw.

The Third Avenue prays for Johnson's speedy recovery. "Bill Press is making a very important point: GWU Hospital has a world-class stroke unit and is full of top-flite professionals," and that we have no idea how bad a stroke this really is. Let's hope it is extremely minor or just a rumor.

UPDATE: The Washington Post version of the story makes it seem like it was a relatively minor stroke.
Johnson had become disoriented during a call with reporters, stuttering in response to a question. He appeared to recover, asking if there were any additional questions and then signing off.

LATE UPDATE: CBS News: Julianne Fisher,a spokeswoman for Senator Johnson, "said the senator did not suffer a stroke or heart attack." Thank goodness. It seems like he started stuttering during the press event, and felt weird, so out of abundance of caution, his staff rushed him to the best stroke place in the area. Hat tip-- Think Progress

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Newton's First Law

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. In this case the object or object is my wife and I. Even though I have thoroughly enjoyed being back in Utah after a six-year hiatus, I find myself itching for a change. My wife is eager to move back to DC (where we lived 2002-03) since her parents now live in Richmond.

With the most wide open presidential election cycle in some 150 years, I am excited to get back to our nation's capital too. Only how do I get a job and what do I do? My rules for employment are fairly simple: a law-related job (one where my JD would actually be necessary) that pays more than I earned before law school ($28,500). In theory, that shouldn't be very hard to find.

But in practice, you either have to know someone, or have amazing grades, or know some one AND have amazing grades. I don't know that many people in powerful legal position in D.C., and I don't know if or how they could help. If you think you could, dear readers, I am all ears.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Debby Blumer: 1941-2006

(Boston Herald File photo)
I was shocked and deeply saddened today to learn (two months after the fact) that my boss from my days as a legislative aide in Boston died suddenly while driving home. State Representative Blumer was a tough boss, but rightly so. She demanded that I do the best for her constituents. She sought to listen to every constituent and hear them out, even if they disagreed with her.

During the 2004 Constitutional Convention regarding Gay Marriage, she came out strongly for equal marriage rights for her homosexual constituents. She got lots of hate mail and lots of fan mail too. The letters and emails and faxes and visits were deeply personal, people sharing their lives with her. Debby also fought hard to get as much road projects for her district as possible. And unlike most of her colleagues, Framingham's roads really did need it. She fought with the power and telephone companies to remove unsightly and dangerous polls and wires that were no longer necessary. She fought to increase funding for the poor and disabled's housing, health insurance, and more.

I might have disagreed with her vehement opposition to charter schools, but I respected her conviction and work ethic. She worked tirelessly, both in the district, on the campaign trail and at the State House in Boston.

Although she was not a tall woman, whomever replaces her in the State House will have big shoes to fill.

idiots with power

Ah the brothers Cannon. One continues to carry water for emasculated president and smear Democrats without cause or truth. The other just got himself on the Deseret News editorial board. When the Church gets all defensive about its ties to the Republican party, I think they need to look this one in the face. Why is a Church-owned publication hiring a state party chairman, whose brother is a partisan member of Congress, as an editor?

Anyway, lets go to the idiot quotations.
"As I read the report, it says the president is right," he [Rep. Chris Cannon] said. "Basically, it says the president is a smart guy."
He said the commission rejected a quick withdrawal from Iraq, aiming for 2008, but allowing for changes in conditions on the ground. [Source: Tribune

Utah Democrats claims to have found the first intrusion of Joe on behalf of Chris:
It looks like a pretty little graphic, but what stands out, for anyone with an IQ above room temperature, are Bernick's obviously false and deliberately misleading numbers in the UT-CD3 race. Take a look:

[Bob] Bernick states in the article:

"Burridge spent only $7,000. For his whole race, Cannon spent $1.16 million, a record re-election total for him."

Now, while I recognize that Bernick indicated in the graphic that the dollar figures used in the graphic for Burridge (and Pete Ashdown) features an asterisk noting that the totals are taken from the amount of money the candidates had at State Convention (May 2006) in 3 point font.

For more than a month now, before Bernick gifted this goofy, ill-considered gem to his new boss, anyone could have easily found public FEC information that as of October 18th Burridge had raised $55,000 and had spent approximately $47,000

I don't think this is as sinister. I think Bernick just asked Joe how much his brother spent and how much Burridge spent, never bothering to look it up online himself in 5 seconds. Plus, I think Burridge looks better to have done so well with so little ($7,000) than the slightly more he raised.

"I think what you can expect is, you're not going to get a shill for the Republican Party". said Joe. Sure, that is what a public expects from its editors...but that's not what it is going to get from the bunch that say the ISG report said the president was right.

Anyone who can read besides liars like Tony Snow say that the report is a repudiation of the President's policy. But then again, Chris can't do either apparently.
"You are probably going to have an impeachment proceeding with [Rep. John] Conyers leading Judiciary and you are going to have a raft of . . . legislative inquiries by [Rep.] Henry Waxman," Rep. Chris Cannon predicted on election night.
Cannon said he would be the administration's "go-to guy" to defend President Bush against the mob.
In just a month, he has turned 180 degrees.
The moderate Democrats who gave their party control will force the new majority to govern from the middle, Cannon now says, abandoning his slash-and-burn scenario.

Speaking of the Iraq Study Group, I am tired of these blue ribbon commissions dictating US policy on big issues. If these old folks really know what to do, why not have them actually in a President's administration or in Congress? Why do we even bother to have either if all they are supposed to do, according to the Washington Establishment, is to follow whatever they say.

Have our actual leaders become so incompetent that they can't think for themselves and need people to tell them what to do who aren't staffers? Not to mention the fact that the ISG report is not at all useful or informative. Where were these people in 2002 or 2003 when the war started, or in 2004 when we could have salvaged more?

I may be young and unexperienced in the ways of the world, but with my undergraduate degree in International Relations, somehow I knew before all the wise men of the think tanks and writers of serious books that a) Saddam wasn't a threat, b) he didn't have any serious WMD's, c) Bush would screw up the country post-invasion, d) all of his "experts" were idiotic ideologes.

Maybe you feel differently, but I am tired of giving morons all this power. Why do we allow people like Chris and Joe Cannon to give us the news and write our laws? Why do we allow establishment types without constitutional authority, to write legislation that "has to" be passed? Why is "bipartisanship" so sacred if one side is so dedicated to covering the butt of their partisans? Does this really have to be the way things are in Washington? A Clark would change this. Hillary has become part of the establishment. McCain is the epitome of this wrong-headed thinking (the ISG heads even basically endorsed McCain '08 by perpetuating his imaginary 30K more troops will solve everything "alternative"). Romney is a Janis-faced politician who will say anything to get people to vote for him. [Right wingers, don't worry, he was never serious when he was kissing up to the Log Cabin Republicans.] Obama says he is about change, but he might really be a consensus behind the scenes guy after all. Edwards wants to be president and loved so much, he may get follow High Broderism as well.

I say, let's dethrown these idiots with power and prevent future idiots from power and those who may listen to idiots from having power as well.