Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maybe Hillary Should Reconsider

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) scores an approval rating of just 38% in his home state and he’s polling well under 50% in his 2010 re-election bid. If the Democrats have to pick a new Majority Leader in two years (and I won’t shed any tears if they do), then Hillary Clinton may wish she were still in the Senate.

Return of Competence

All hail the return of James Lee Witt to FEMA! The guy kicked ass as head of the agency under President Clinton.

By the Way...

We currently pay $260 billion (or a quarter of a trillion) in interest alone on the national debt every year. That’s 12% of the total budget.

A Little Perspective

If we were to entirely eliminate:
  • $10.6 billion - United States Department of the Interior
  • $10.5 billion - United States Department of Labor
  • $8.4 billion - Social Security Administration
  • $7.1 billion - United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • $6.9 billion - National Science Foundation
  • $6.3 billion - Judicial branch (United States federal courts)
  • $4.7 billion - Legislative branch (United States Congress)
  • $4.7 billion - United States Army Corps of Engineers
  • $0.4 billion - Executive Office of the President
  • $0.7 billion - Small Business Administration
  • $7.2 billion - Other agencies
  • $39.0 billion - Other Off-budget Discretionary Spending

We’ve still only reached just over $100 billion or one-tenth of the deficit. On we go:

  • $44.8 billion - United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • $38.5 billion - United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • $38.3 billion - State and Other International Programs
  • $37.6 billion - United States Department of Homeland Security
  • $25.0 billion - United States Department of Energy
  • $20.8 billion - United States Department of Agriculture
  • $20.3 billion - United States Department of Justice
  • $17.6 billion - National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • $12.5 billion - United States Department of the Treasury
  • $11.5 billion - United States Department of Transportation

If we eliminate all of these departments too, we’re at $373 billion, or just over a third of the deficit. So we keep cutting:

  • $70.4 billion - United States Department of Health and Human Services
  • $59.2 billion - United States Department of Education

$503 billion! Halfway there...

  • $515.4 billion - United States Department of Defense
  • $145.2 billion - Global War on Terror

Um... that’s all that’s left. Defense and the War on Terror. And we’d have to pretty much eliminate those entirely to close the gap.

Right now we’re running nearly one-third of the entire federal government on borrowed money. That is not sustainable. That is a destined to collapse.


A one trillion dollar budget deficit in 2009! The entire 2009 federal budget (as submitted by President Bush) is only $3.1 trillion! Holy crap!

That’s what President-elect Obama will inherit, thanks the President Bush’s reckless mismanagement of the federal government, taxes, and economic policy.

The AP describes it pretty well:

While nobody likes a deficit, many economists agree that heavy federal government spending—on food stamps or unemployment benefits or public works projects—may be necessary to keep economies moving in times of recession or war.

The problem is that this time Washington was racking up massive deficits even before the current economic downturn.

We can’t cut government assistance in this economy. We can’t cut anything that would result in significant government layoffs. So the deficit explodes…

If President Bush wants to do what’s best for his country, he’ll immediately start recommending specific cuts to the military budget since these are best received when they come from a Republican (the “only Nixon could go to China” philosophy). Obama, as a Democrat, can then tackle non-military spending cuts.

However, spending cuts can only get us so far. In fact, they’re a drop in the bucket compared to $1 trillion deficit. We’re not talking about trimming the fat here; we’re talking about nearly one third of the entire federal government being financed by deficits.

We’d have to eliminate one third of the federal government to catch up. It’s almost beyond comprehension what that means.

PS: Maybe President-elect Obama bought himself a little political capital on military spending cuts by keeping Gates as Secretary of Defense. If Gates gives the green light to certain cuts, that might help. Perhaps Obama understood that he need the credibility of a Republican Secretary of Defense to do what needs to be done, not just for defense spending but for bringing our troops home.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wanted: Serious Policy Discussion

What’s the difference between the big left-wing blogs (netroots) and the big right-wing blogs (rightroots)? I read a fair amount of right-wing blogs, and I think these three sentences from Salon’s former blog editor pretty much hit the nail right on the head:

Erick Erickson, RedState's editor, acknowledged that the "netroots" have an advantage over the "rightroots," but attributed it to an asymmetry in free time, since conservatives "have families because we don't abort our kids, and we have jobs because we believe in capitalism."

This is largely the kind of thinking that dominates on conservative blogs. They can't quite get to policy disputes or serious analysis, because they're too busy mulling over the implications of liberals joining forces with Islamofascists, the United Nations, and Mexican immigrants to execute some kind of nefarious plot.

Or is there a good, wonk-ish, right-wing blog I just haven’t come across yet?

Full Speed Ahead

How ‘bout a high-speed rail service from Birmingham to Atlanta to Washington, DC, to New York to Boston? Hell yeah, I say.

How ‘bout financing it with $8 billion in tax-exempt government bonds? How about all the jobs that would create? Damn, I love having Democrats in control of government.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) just introduced a bill to make it happen, and 13 others have signed on as co-sponsors (including some of my personal favorites: Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, and Olympia Snowe). The high-speed trains wouldn’t be limited to the east coast. The plan also includes Chicago and California.

You know, it feels good to have a domestic agenda again. It’s great to see the federal government investing in our long-term strength as a nation.

President-elect Obama, get it done!

Good Idea

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) rocks. He suggests replacing our nation’s willy-nilly pork barrel spending on infrastructure with an intelligent, coherent infrastructure strategy — complete with people in charge and, you know, accountable.

As described in the New York Times:

Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut is sponsoring a bill that would create an infrastructure bank with a bipartisan board of directors and a chief executive to be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The board would streamline the process of reviewing and signing off on major infrastructure proposals. It would determine the value to the public of each project — and its environmental impact. It would provide federal investment capital for approved projects and use that money to leverage private investment.

This is a great idea to help prevent the next New Orleans or Minnesota bridge collapse, and to help deal with the mess when such disasters do occur.

President-elect Obama, I hope you’re listening.

Monday, November 24, 2008


For the first time, researchers have cultivated embryonic stem cells to form not just individual brain cells but actual brain tissue! In the long term, this could help repair the damage to stroke victims and Alzheimer’s patients. In the short term, it could help test drugs for their effect on human brain tissue in a laboratory environment rather than human testing.

The research, of course, did not take place in the United States. It was in Japan. And it was government-funded. Is it Jan. 20 yet?

2012 Watch

On TV…

The “Our Country Deserves Better” PAC is now airing TV ads to thank Sarah Palin for the 2008 campaign. While our country does deserve better than Sarah Palin and I am grateful for her role in McCain’s crushing defeat, these are apparently pro-Palin ads. Go figure. Looks like someone is already shelling out some serious cash to position Palin for the next go-around.


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) is chatting up flood victims in Iowa because it’s totally normal and not conspicuous at all for governors of Louisiana to do that.

Vote "All of the Above"

Forget “Team of Rivals” – this is turning into a Team of Superstars! Biden, Clinton, Richardson, Daschle, Napolitano… wow. It’s like the Democratic Pantheon. Man, it was tough to pick just one for president; who knew we’d get ‘em all in the end anyway?

Friday, November 21, 2008


Man bites dog; woman bites cheetah:

He's just one of three 3-week-old cheetahs now on display at the Cincinnati zoo.

Really adorable video here.

Hillary Says Yes

Good for her! I think she’ll enjoy life a lot more as America’s representative to the world rather than 1-in-100 in the Senate. Plus, Secretary of State is a much better path to the White House than 8 more years in the Congress. I think she made the best decision for her.

Still, I’ll kind of miss what might have been… The next Lion of the Senate no more…

GOP to Fred: Thanks, But No Thanks

Fred Thompson says he’s no longer in the running for chairman of the national Republican Party. Maybe he realized that it would be a ton of hard work and that’s not really his thing – or maybe everyone else in power on the Right realized it for him.

I, for one, am incredibly disappointed.

Instead Fred will try to find himself a new spot on the tee-vee. But where else can he find a sweet gig like Law & Order with no more than two scenes per week?

I’m Gonna Live Forever

Are we getting closer to a cure for aging? Scientists can boost the lifespan of mice by 50% by pumping up production of an enzyme called telomerase. The same process may work in humans.
Telomerase helps protect the chromosomes in your cells from being damaged by age and cell division. If you can eliminate chromosome damage, cells can pretty much live forever – which means you can live up to 50% longer.

Of course, heightened levels of telomerase (10x normal in the experiments on mice) can cause cancer, so we’ll need a cure for that too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Benefit of the Doubt

Should Pres. Barack Obama keep Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at his post? Looks like it may happen. I can’t say I’m thrilled with the idea, but I’m willing to trust Obama’s judgment.

Some Obama fans may be horrified to see anything short of an crisp, clean break from President Bush and immediate abandonment of his foreign/war policies. But there’s something to remember -- Gates was already a repudiation of Bush’s war policies. After 2006, Bush was forced to fire Donald Rumsfeld and pretty much acknowledge that everything in Iraq up to that point had been a total disaster.

Gates is not a neo-con. He’s not a Rove-ite. He’s not part of that inner Bush circle that ransacked the federal government, politicizing everything they could and burning the rest to the ground. If President-elect Obama says he can work with this guy, then I believe him.

I can’t stand Republicans who would drive this country into a brick wall just to spite the Democrats. I can’t stand Republicans who confuse reckless ignorance with “principles.” The last thing I want is for President-elect Obama to start mimicking that behavior. If he did, that would represent a far more dangerous continuation of President Bush’s behavior than keeping Gates in charge of the Defense Department.

If President-elect Obama says the best thing for our nation and our troops is to keep Gates around another 6-18 months for a slower, more gradual changeover, then I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

GOP to Marsha: Thanks, But No Thanks

House Republicans passed up an opportunity to elect former freelance closet organizer Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to lead the Republican Study Committee in favor of former orthopedic surgeon and med school professor Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). Hard to imagine why.

Hank Jr. for Senate!


Hank Williams, Jr., has announced he will run for the U.S. Senate!

Hank Jr. lives in Montana, so presumably he’s thinking of challenging freshman Senator Jon Tester (D) in 2012. Tester will be a top target for Republicans, since he won in 2006 with less than 50% of the vote against a scandal-plagued incumbent (the disgraceful and idiotic Conrad Burns).

After campaigning for weeks by Sarah Palin’s side, it’s no wonder Hank Jr. thinks he’s qualified for high office. Why do so many Republicans think a passionate, idealistic (if often vague) devotion to patriotism and the Bible is all it takes to craft complex legislation and/or lead the free world?

Principles, no matter how strong or righteous, do not make up for a lack of information or intelligence.

(Note: this news comes from CMT, which only notes that Hank Jr. plans to run in “the next primary election.” That would be 2010, of course – so maybe Hank Jr. plans to carpetbag his way into another state’s election rather than challenge Tester in 2012.)

Minnesota Madness

Both Al Franken and Norm Coleman are engaged in some disgusting vote-challenging tactics in the Minnesota Senate recount.

Coleman should be ashamed of himself for challenging this clear vote for Franken because of a tiny dot next to independent candidate Dean Barkley:

Franken should be ashamed of himself for challenging this clear vote for Coleman because the thumbprint could potentially be used to identify the voter (any voter that identifies him/herself on the ballot gets their ballot tossed out under Minnesota law):

Then there are the genuinely confusing ballots. Did this voter intend to cross out Al Franken’s name (my initial thought) or to underline it:

And there are the funny and bizarre ballots, such as this person who filled in the bubble for Franken but also wrote “Lizard People” on the write-in line:

(What an idiot. Doesn’t he know he has to vote for a specific lizard person?)

For more of these photos and your chance to vote on them, check out this really cool webpage.

Big News from Arizona

Wow, great news for new NRSC head Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) as he struggles to avoid a bloodbath in the 2010 Senate races. Sen. John McCain has announced he will seek reelection in Arizona, and his most dangerous potential challenger (superstar Governor Janet Napolitano) looks like she’s leaving for DC to be part of the Obama Administration.

Unnamed sources say Napolitano will be our new Secretary of Homeland Security. Sounds like just about the worst job in the world to me. That Department is an absolute mess after being established by the bungling dolts in Bush Administration.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On to 2010!

The rapidly shrinking band of Republican survivors in the U.S. Senate have tapped Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) to lead their GOP’s senatorial campaign efforts for 2010. As the new head of the NRSC, Cornyn will be in charge of recruiting challengers, protecting incumbents, and coordinating the various campaigns’ strategies and messaging.

The 2010 map looks absolutely awful Republicans. Just miserable. I almost feel sorry for them. Cornyn is sure to find himself fighting to limit the damage rather than make any gains.

Here’s a quick look at seats Democrats have a good shot at stealing in 2010:

1. Sen. Mel Martinez, Florida – who won with just 49% of the vote in 2004 and is already polling behind several Democratic competitors.

2. Sen. George Voinovich, Ohio – who has a pitiful 42% approval rating and is already polling behind a handful of potential Democratic challengers.

3. Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana – who really, really likes prostitutes. Will he seek reelection? Can he win the GOP primary? (If Vitter is not the candidate, this race may fall off the radar.)

4. Sen. Kit Bond, Missouri – who is already polling well under 50% against several big-name Democratic competitors.

5. Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania – who is planning to seek reelection at age 80 despite his state being seriously in the blue column at this point.

6. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska – who won with just 49% of the vote in 2004.

7. Sen. John McCain, Arizona – who could face insanely popular Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano if he decides to seek reelection.

8. Sen. Jim Bunning, Kentucky – who won with just 51% of the vote in 2004 and vows to seek reelection despite signs of severe age-related mental impairment. (I don’t expect him to be the candidate, so this race is likely to drop off the radar.)

9. Sen. Judd Gregg, New Hampshire – who saw fellow NH Senator John Sununu booted from his seat earlier this month.

10. Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina – who saw fellow NC Senator Elizabeth Dole booted from her seat earlier this month. (Former UT QB and current Congressman Health Shuler may be the Democratic candidate.)

11. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa – who Democrats hope will retire at age 77 (otherwise he’s a sure bet for reelection).

12. Sen. John Thune, South Dakota – who beat Tom Daschle with just 51% of the vote in 2004. (But SD is a red state and Thune is now the incumbent, so my hopes are not high.)

And those are just the competitive races. The Democrats will shocked if they only hold 60 seats in the next Senate.

UPDATE: If Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) gets in the race for Senate seat currently held by the retiring Sam Brownback, you can add a 13th race to this list.

Secretary Daschle (Or Do You Prefer "Adminstrative Assistant"?)

Everybody knew Tom Daschle would be in Secretary of something; it was only a question of which Department. Today we have the answer: Health & Human Services. It’s not usually one of the sexier appointments, but with President-elect Obama’s big plans for healthcare reform, this may turn out to be a hugely important position.

Great pick, Mr. President-elect! The former Senate Majority Leader is the right guy to shepherd major changes through Congress and then carry them out as Secretary of HHS.

Vast Right-Wing Fan Club

Here’s a fascinating article from the National Review on how Hillary Clinton went from the Demon Queen of the liberals, activists, Hollywood, gays, etc., to the Democrat that Republicans would trust most with the keys to the White House or, barring that, the State Department.

The article touches on (but I think underplays) how strongly this transformation demonstrates the Republican rabble’s lemming-like tendency buy into the latest spin and talking points from their “thought leaders” on Fox News, talk radio, and the blogs. Do you think the people spreading the spin really changed their opinion of Hillary or did they just change their talking points after Obama became the frontrunners -- and the rabble ate it up without a second thought?

Hmm… maybe the reason those Republicans are so obsessed with “media bias” is because they have some dim awareness of just how slavish they are to their own media masters?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hillary and Holder

Will President-elect Obama offer Hillary Clinton the State Department? Will she accept it if he does? Oh, the drama!

Personally I think Hillary Clinton would make a great Secretary of State, but I hope she stays in the Senate. Why take a job with an expiration date? I think she’s better off as the next Ted Kennedy rather than the next Warren Christopher. With patience, she could become (probably should) Senate Majority Leader. She can be a dominant force in the Senate for decades if she wants.

Of course, Secretary of State is a better resume builder for 2016. Does that trump any other motivation or consideration? It might--and I wouldn’t hold it against her if it did.

Secretary of State is also more prestigious and glamorous, which probably makes it more fun. I also wouldn’t hold it against her if she just thinks she’d enjoy life more as head of the State Department, even if it’s just a one or two term gig.

Anyway, that’s a lot of words to say I’m happy either way. I think she’s probably sincerely agonizing over it. She’d have to give up a ton whichever direction she goes. However, there’s probably no wrong choice here. It’s great or great, just in dramatically different forms.

So what about Eric Holder as Attorney General? Meh.* He’s a Washington type, which is kind of disappointing. After the Bush Administration’s grotesque politicization of the Justice Department, I’d rather have someone not involved in game at all. Someone righteously outraged by all that crap. I’m sure he’ll be competent, but will he clean house like it needs to be done? We’ll see…

*Now officially in the dictionary!

GoldnI Is Just a Mouthpiece for the TNGOP

The Golden One translates for TNGOP Chair Robin Smith. And she's dead-on right.

PS: Good info + Funny picture = Blog post worth reading.

Who Watches the Watchmen?

You do. Or the new trailer, anyway. Just click.

I Can Has Mommy?

What's a Serval cat? It looks kinda like a lynx but it's from Africa.

Anyway, this Serval kitten from the Munich zoo has been adopted by a doggie mother and a bunch of doggie brothers and sisters after its birth mother couldn't produce enough milk to keep it alive.

One of these things is not like the other ones...

What it would look like if it really did rain cats and dogs last night...

Eric Crafton Hates Democracy

Metro will spend more than $300,000 in taxpayer money to hold a special election for the sole purpose of screwing over non-English speakers. Metro Councilmember Eric Crafton, of course, is behind it all.

Why waste money on a special election rather than wait until the next time Metro voters are scheduled to go to the polls? There’s nothing urgent about this but the politics.

Crafton is against waiting because 1) it would give both sides a chance to make their case, and 2) a reasonable number of voters would actually show up to vote.

Crafton doesn’t hide it; he tells the Tennessean he’s against any delay because his opponents are “trying to give themselves time to mount a campaign."

Wow, what a horrible thing that would be. Hey, Crafton – in America we tend to like democracy. Campaigning and voting are kind of important around here. Both sides make their case, and the voters get to choose the winner.

Leave it to the English Only crowd to fail to understand the very fundamentals of American government and what makes us a great nation.

Monday, November 17, 2008

2012 Primary Standings (Republican)

No, it's not too early.

1. Newt Gingrich

After the 2008 debacle, the GOP may well overcompensate with the anti-McCain. Gingrich is ideologically pure, fiercely partisan, and perfectly comfortable spitting vile. He also gives a smooth speech and thinks strategically. The exact opposite of McCain.

Of course, he’s also emblematic of everything everyone outside of the Far Right hates about politics. But that may only help him in the primary.

2. Mitt Romney

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Mayor of Pandertown. If Obama is crazy popular, the GOP may panic. They’ll ditch the purists for someone they think can appeal to the moderates. And they’ll want someone with deep pockets because the donors aren’t likely to waste their cash against a popular incumbent.

3. Jeb Bush

The Bush name may be mud right now, but hey -- W still won. That means a lot when your party is on the outside of the White House looking in. The GOP needs someone to reunite W’s winning coalition of business and religious factions. Jeb may look like their best shot.

4. Charlie Crist/Tim Pawlenty

Crist screams vice president, so he may run just to up his chances of being picked #2 on the ticket. But as a popular governor of a critical swing state, he may find himself picking up surprising momentum from the non-fundamentalists. Pawlenty is kinda like Crist but without those pesky rumors.

5. Sarah Palin

Can her cult of personality carry her through the primaries? Don’t bet on it. The GOP base may love her folksy nitwittery when she’s opposite a Democrat--but when she’s on stage against the Republican heavyweights, they can’t help but notice she’s ridiculously outmatched.

6. Bobby Jindal

He’s a minority! That makes him just as good as Obama, right? Jindal is a successful and popular governor, so he deserves better than for Republican evangelicals to jump on his bandwagon just because of his skin color.

7. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Sarah Palin may inspire Hutchinson to run just so that nutjob isn’t the only example of a Republican woman that America gets to see. It also may get Hutchinson on someone’s VP list.

8. Mike Huckabee

His loyal followers will be enough to keep him in the race a good long time but not enough to make him a serious contender.

9. Bill Frist

If Bill Frist wins the governor’s mansion in 2010, he’ll be eyeing the White House in 2016 immediately. If he wins huge, he may think about capitalizing on that momentum right away. Either to position himself for 2016 or to be on someone’s VP list.

10. Rudy Giuliani

He’ll run to stay relevant. He’s not going to be a factor.

11. Fred Thompson

Thompson may have a big enough ego to let himself get “drafted” again. But the GOP has seen this movie before--and they walked out in the first 15 minutes last time.

We're All Going to Die!

The Bush Administration has agreed to a specific timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, a move that President Bush previously assured us would lead to the death of countless Americans on American soil.

According to the AP, the deal between the US and Iraq would set: “a timeline for their withdrawal from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, and from the country by Jan. 1, 2012.”

So either Bush is a bald-faced liar or he wants you and your children to die.

Possibly both.

Thank You, Mr. President-Elect

I paid $1.99 for gas this weekend. The Obama presidency is already a success!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blame Bush

With the State’s tax revenue still swirling around the economic toilet bowl, Governor Phil Bredesen will ask all State departments to develop plans to cut their budgets by 10% or more. That’s up from the 3% cuts he originally requested.

First Mother-in-Law

In a twist straight from a cheesy sitcom, it looks like Barack Obama’s mother-in-law is going to move into the White House with him. I fully expect Martin Lawrence to play both roles in the movie.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Spamity Spam

Noticed a dramatic drop in spam lately? My spam filter was surprisingly light this morning. Maybe this is why. Either way, it’s good news.

Science: Getting into a Transexual's Genes

Potentially exciting news in the scientific study of gender identity: scientists have identified an apparent genetic difference that may contribute to transsexuality among men.

The View from My Window Right Now

This red-tailed hawk steadfastly refused to spread his wings and pose majestically for the camera. Instead he seemed content merely to groom his own tummy.

2010: The Sequel to 2008

Karl Rove boldly declares “History favors Republicans in 2010” in today’s Wall Street Journal. His evidence boils down this: traditionally whoever holds the White House loses seats in Congress and state legislatures during the midterm elections.

This kind of reminds me of the statistical anomaly that the Washington Redskins’ victory or defeat in their last home game before a presidential election has correctly identified the winning candidate in every presidential election but one. Although Rove’s “evidence” is not entirely coincidental like the Redskins thing is, it is dwarfed by far more important factors in any given election year.

First off, a quick look at the Senate seats up in 2010 pretty much assures Democrats of picking up a few more. The House is always more volatile, but it would take an anti-Democratic landslide to make a dent in the current majority. Besides, shifts in the House typically reflect the national opinions of the Parties in general, which still favors Democrats because…

Second, we’re coming off of a president with historically bad job approval (and job performance). If Barack Obama manages not to choke on a pretzel, he looks like a genius by comparison and that will reflect well on the entire Democratic party.

Third, while opinions of specific politicians can shift fast (why you see such quick movement in presidential elections), opinions of political parties in general move much more slowly. Even if the Republicans have reached rock bottom (and there’s no evidence that they have), they still face a long, long climb back to respectability in the eyes of the American people.

Sorry, Karl, I think this is all spin and happy talk to keep your base from getting too depressed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Cost of Living

In news that would have been a lot more meaningful before the election, an independent study of President-elect Obama’s healthcare plan finds that it will provide coverage for 2/3 of currently uninsured Americans at a cost of $75 billion--or about one tenth of the bailout. The government will recover about $25 billion of that because it won’t have to cover the hospital costs of those newly insured people anymore.

So that’s a $50 billion bill to the taxpayer in exchange for health insurance for 31 million people.

Of course, it’s an annual cost, not a one-time deal. With healthcare costs rising much faster than inflation or wages, the burden will become increasingly large every year.

I’m all for the Obama plan, but I think it’s important to take an honest look at the numbers. If anyone thinks we can pay for it with the money we’ll save by withdrawing from Iraq, remember that we paid for Iraq with borrowed money--which was stupid--and it’d be stupid to pay for this with borrowed money as well.

In the long term, we can pay for healthcare reforms with the money we currently pay on interest on the national debt, but we’ve got to eliminate the deficit first and start paying down the debt before that money gets freed up. In the meantime, the money must come from somewhere.

No one said Obama’s job was easy.

Eat Your (Local) Veggies

Are you down with the whole “local food” craze? You know, buying food that hasn’t been shipped all over the world before it reaches your plate? The idea is to reduce the carbon footprint of your daily bread.

Reason is not impressed with the hot new trend. The short of it: it’s only environmentally advantageous if you also only eat food that’s in season. Seems it’s worse for the planet to grow food locally in artificial environments than to grow it on the other side of the world and then ship it here.

The article also talks about how little of the US and UK’s carbon footprint is created by food transportation, but I always find that a weak argument because it rests on the idea that if you can’t find a single “silver bullet” solution then you shouldn’t do anything.

Environmental damage is a sum a million small parts, and so is the solution.

UPDATE: Nashville food guru and femme fatale Joy Ramirez has everything you need to know about local foods and eating in season. Check out her blog: Joy of Cooking.

The Word You're Looking for Is "Backfire"

Here’s a great example of how the Far Right isolation chamber that I wrote about in the post below is working against the GOP. Anyone remotely in touch with the real world would never have let Liddy Dole run that “Godless” ad against Kay Hagen. The ad gave Hagan a boost of 3,600 new donors and 7 points in the polls.

Isolation and Defeat

I remember back in the day (like a whopping 15 years ago) you could immediate recognize the wackos because the Lefties were screaming “Nazis!” at the Republicans while the Right-wingers were shouting “Marxists!” at the Democrats. These people were immediately brushed off as ranting lunatics.

When did it become mainstream for Republicans to start using those ridiculously hyperbolic terms? I found it deeply concerning 5 years ago, but over the past few years I’ve see the Far Right go from a political movement to a subculture to a self-isolated subculture, which has (as you might expect) resulted in their diminished political influence and electoral success.

The more the Far Right (aka “real Americans”) creates for themselves their own radio stations, news network, newspapers, books, movies, magazines, websites, etc., the less power they’ll have over the electorate. This isolation chamber will also only serve to amplify their own self-righteousness and anger, both of which are counterproductive to winning elections.

I used to fear the communication infrastructure built by the Right, but now it works against them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

So Cute!

Welcome to the world, baby girl.


In Nashville, bars can’t serve alcohol after 3:00 am. So you buy a six pack or two from the convenience store and carry into an “after-hours” club that stays open ‘til six. Looks like the Metro Council may ban alcohol from after-hours clubs.

Is there any evidence linking after-hours clubs to drunk driving arrests and crashes? Who knows, because the Tennessean doesn’t bother to provide that kind of relevant information.

For the record, I’ve never been to an after-hours club and don’t intend to start, alcohol or no. I just don’t like unnecessary laws or the government as nanny. If there’s an actual public health hazard, I’m all for changing the law. Otherwise, get over it.

Maybe the Tennessean will bother to fill in the blanks next time. But I’m not holding my breath.

I Already Miss Poll Numbers

How the heck does a president-elect have a job approval rating?? He’s not in office yet! Rasmussen claims 52% of Americans approve of Barack Obama’s job performance, the same as his popular vote percentage. Thanks for the update. Money well wasted.

The same poll says 38% of Americans expect a tax hike under President Obama. I guess 33% of them will be pleasantly surprised.

(Either that or a crazy percentage will be absolutely convinced Obama hiked their taxes--even if they really got a tax cut. Never underestimate the Republican rabble’s capacity to outright refuse reality.)

What We Have Here Is a Failure to Communicate

Yes, the TNDP needs a communication director during the month of December. The Party needs communication director 24/7, 365. It’s a ridiculous to spend one second without one. Get serious, people. And play to win.

Goldni is right.
ACK is wrong.

Save Us, Fred

Our friend on the Right are agonizing over who should be the next chairman of the Republican Party. Please, please, please let it be Fred Thompson.

Once again, the Republican rabble are clamoring for Thompson to be there savior. Because it worked so well last time? Oh well, if the Republican rabble learned from their mistakes, they wouldn’t be Republicans any more, would they.

I don’t pretend to be a political genius or insider, but I know the difference between a big name and actual talent. When you’re looking for a national party chair, you want someone who passionate, driven, devoted, and experienced at running a major organization, such as a large company, state party, and/or national campaign. Someone willing to do hard work (and I mean a ton of it) behind the scenes. You do not want it to be a lazy-ass senator who ran a half-assed presidential campaign.

So I endorse Fred Thompson wholeheartedly.

Thompson has a well earned reputation for doing the bare minimum at everything. Sure he has a gravelly voice, a bulldog face, and huge name recognition. Which one of those things helps you get the job done as national party chairman? The job is all about fundraising, staffing, strategy, fundraising, polling, fundraising, recruiting, marketing, and more fundraising. Thompson is terrible at all these things.

If anyone can keep the Republican Party in neutral for the next four years, it’s Fred.

The two people I least want to take the job are Mitt Romney and Chip Saltsman. Fortunately, neither passes the Republican rabble’s purity test. Mitt is a flip-flopping Mormon. And Saltsman is tainted by Huckabee. It’s a good thing, too, because these guys know how to run a successful operation. With any luck, the GOP will pass them over for a crowd-pleasing figurehead.

Blame Bush

It now looks like the State’s tax revenue is going to fall $800 million below projections. Raising the state sales tax should not be an option. We just tripled cigarette taxes last year. Assuming we drain half the State’s rainy day fund, that’s still $425 million we have to cut. Ouch.