Current polling averages find that by an overwhelming 66% to 26% majority, voters feel the nation is on the wrong track.  Given what’s been going on, why wouldn’t they?

  1. Gasoline prices are plummeting
  2. The stock market is soaring to all-time highs
  3. Jobs are being added in abundance and the unemployment rate keeps falling
  4. Housing prices are up everywhere and up sharply in many prime locations
  5. We’re out of Iraq and nearly out of Afghanistan
  6. Interest rates and inflation remain very modest
  7. The Federal deficit is less than one third of the amount in FY 2008
  8. The rate of uninsured is near historic lows as Obamacare has protected at least 10 million
  9. The Seahawks are likely to get the number one seeding again (author’s prerogative)

Yep, this sure looks like a toxic environment for the party in power, especially if you contrast these results to the stellar record of their predecessors.  Who wouldn’t want to return to the glorious halcyon days of Prime Minister Dick “Torture is Patriotic” Cheney and his lapdog?

Huh?

Yes, even with the above litany of success, Obama and the Democrats get repudiated and eviscerated in the midterms.  Senate seats originally thought to be safe are lost and a large, possibly structural Republican majority is cemented in the House.  Senator Mitch McTurtle made my prediction of his demise look naïve and pollyannaish.

How can this be?

Upon much reflection, the only plausible answer your author can offer is that regardless of the facts, if people are told over and over that things are terrible and, importantly, they don’t hear a counter argument, enough of them will eventually believe it.  The “Big Lie” is not a new tactic.

People on the right have been aggressively convinced that up is down, good is bad and black is, well, still black.  Reality isn’t relevant.  Data is bothersome noise.  Substantial improvements from the 2008 implosion are seen as either woefully inadequate or just a left-wing ruse via cooking of the books.

During this obvious and consistent attack, Obama et al retorted with…um, I really don’t know.  Will someone please tell me the affirmative message of the Democrats last month?  Wholly surrendering the field to the opposition is, not too surprisingly, a really bad formula for electoral success.

Coupled with the Amazonian flow of cash that Citizens United enabled, an electorate with inadequate grounding in the truth (and even their own self-interests) poses a huge concern going forward.  Our side must fully appreciate this painful lesson or risk a hellish one party government in January, 2017.

  • “Todos Somos Americanos”

Liberated by the end of the election cycle, our president has in two dramatic announcements, simultaneously fulfilled major campaign promises and the dreams of millions.  Not coincidentally, he further solidified the allegiance between the Democratic Party and the fastest growing segment of the electorate.

As many as five million undocumented people, largely from Latin America, are assured that they will not be deported for at least the next three years.  Many of these folks came here as children and know no other home than the US of A.  They are full members of society except for their legal status.  While Obama’s Executive Order can not change this, it does suggest that a path to permanent residency and even citizenship should follow.   The “can do” Congress might slow this process down just a bit.

Your alpha nerd author has often addressed the Cuban political impact in South Florida.  Absent massive majorities from this specific community, Republicans have an increasingly difficult time winning the Sunshine State’s twenty-nine electoral votes…a state which MUST be won by the GOP to have ANY shot at the White House.

While Marco Rubio’s reaction to Obama’s announcement of normalization of relations with Cuba makes clear that vehement anti-Castro feelings still permeate “Little Havana”, it is also clear that this is changing.  Younger Cubans tend to feel (and vote) less stridently than their parents and grandparents.  They support a rational approach to our relationship with Cuba, not dissimilar to that found throughout Europe and Canada.  Importantly, this approach is also favored by the Puerto Rican Floridians who populate the Interstate 4 corridor from Tampa to Daytona Beach.

The above, coupled with the obvious failure of the isolationist policies of the past half century, brought forth the president’s decision.  In his beautifully structured and articulated address, Obama actually did “tear down a wall” rather than just talk about it.  While his authority via Executive Order is again limited (the embargo can only be eliminated via an act of Congress), our nation can finally look forward to ending the cold war in the American hemisphere.

  • For those who may have missed this on Fox…

The House Intelligence Select Committee investigating the Benghazi attack issued their findings.  Notwithstanding the Republican control of the committee, they reported “there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria.”

While Fox broadcast at least 225 segments in June regarding the formation of the committee and pounding the table on its importance, once the actual conclusions were released their flagship show Fox News Sunday ignored the results entirely.  In fact, the only reporting on that juggernaut of journalism has been to undermine the report’s credibility and call for new hearings.   Just pathetic and irresponsible or actually evil?

  • “Life Imitates Art” Oscar Wilde, 1889

The 3rd of May, 1808 by Francisco de Goya

Although graphic, please watch this from the 1st of July, 2012 in Saginaw, Michigan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Iigvm5iPkU

  • A&Q

Our last question asked how long the combined prison time would be for Governors Bob McDonnell, Chris Christie and Scott Walker?  While the latter two are have not been indicted (and may get away with stuff) we do know that Bob “Ultrasound” McDonnell was convicted of 11 felonies.  Sentencing recommendations are imminent.

Today’s challenge…two presidents were married outside of the United States.  Name them and where these marriages took place?

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1)      The best defense is a good offense

So captain, here’s the situation.  Your team is way behind and the clock is ticking.  In no particular order:

a)      You’ve decided to tell the fastest growing segments of society to pound sand,  go back to where they came from (although that place is often CA, TX or FL )and voluntarily forego the long term interests of themselves and their children

b)      Your last presidential nominee doubled down on the notion that 47% of the public are worthless scum

c)       Your political objective is to endow the most wealthy with ever increasing largess via convincing low income/informed voters that it’s good for them to see resources drift upward

d)      Your last administration destroyed the economy, ended their inherited surpluses and ballooned the deficit, led/lied the nation into a predictably disastrous quagmire and allowed our enemies to get away with the premeditated murder of thousands

e)      You’ve lost national elections badly and future prospects are increasingly bleak especially with a “bench” as appealing as a root canal. 

f)       You’re wrong on the environment, the minimum wage, social issues, science, fairness, etc.

Accordingly, the last thing a captain of such an august entity can tolerate is an objective and dispassionate debate.  Your side has zero credibility on virtually any front if the electorate takes the time to weigh your positions and record.

Therefore, you’re left with one obvious choice…attack!  Attack on everything all the time.  Coordinate the messaging of the attacks so that the lame stream media repeats the absurdities.  Every repetition increases the validity and drowns out pesky facts and reason.   Never speak more than 30 seconds without mentioning Benghazi…well, just because.

Make stuff up and, when faced with your factual and logical inconsistencies, attack the questioner.  Paint a picture which comports with the basest instincts of your core supporters.  Assure them that their plight is the fault of “those people” and be sure they’re angry about their victimization.  Perhaps Ted Nugent will help out by subtly encouraging your heavily armed loyalists to assassinate the president.

However, no game plan is ever perfect.  No, pretty darned far from perfection when your attack dog on the situation in Iraq is that oracle of wisdom and prescience Dick “we’ll be welcomed as liberators/we know Saddam has WMD” Cheney.   Yesterday pigs in fact sprouted wings and became airborne as even Fox’s stellar “journalist” Megyn Kelly questioned why anyone would believe Cheney about Iraq.

A politically savvy friend of mine often says “Democrats want to be right, Republicans want to win.”  Keep this in mind the next time you see Obama carefully craft an argument in his somewhat halting and measured manner while he responds to the latest bizarre rant from Rumsfeld/Trump/Bachmann.  The aforementioned list is obviously not comprehensive and your author welcomes insertion of your own favorite whack job.

2)      “Tea Partiers will always see any path to citizenship for undocumented workers as amnesty” LiberalMoose 3/22/13

No doubt Majority Leader Eric Cantor kept a busy schedule and probably had justification to miss his reading of LiberalMoose fifteen months ago.  Regardless of his alibi, maybe he should have found the time. 

Inexperienced, underfunded and borderline looney, Dave “ ‘Hilter Could Rise Again, Quite Easily’” Brat made history by defeating a Majority Leader in a primary…literally unprecedented.  His 11% margin sent shock waves throughout the GOP establishment while delighting many of us on left. 

Brat’s message was simple and consistent…Cantor is squishy on immigration.  Now perhaps you remember some recent Cantor-negotiated breakthrough on immigration that I’ve missed.   Oh who has time for such details?     What matters electorally is that Brat focused the anger of the “victims” of Virginia’s 7th District on the incumbent.  Right wing radio doyenne Laura Ingraham provided credibility by echoing Brat’s allegations.  It probably didn’t help that Cantor was the last Jewish Republican in Congress ironically representing a district near the capital of the Confederacy.

But wait a minute here.  What about the PPP poll which showed SUPPORT for immigration reform in the VA 7th at 72% to 23%?  Herein is pretty much the whole ball game folks.  The overall population, aka the people who vote for president every fourth November, are open to a reasonable policy which betters the current mess.  But said voters tend to avoid primaries…low turnout affairs dominated by extremists.  If you don’t believe me, please recall that the US Senate does NOT have as members Richard “pregnancy from rape is something God intended” Mourdock nor Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell.

Sure the Rolling Stones are a great band and the GOP can choose any theme song they want.  However, you’ve got to listen to the whole lyric guys…”so don’t play with me cause you’re playing with fire.”

3)      The Soldier’s Creed

“I am an American Solider.  I am a Warrior and a member of a team.  I serve the people of the United States and live the Army values…I WILL NEVER LEAVE A FALLEN COMRADE…”

Our Commander in Chief evidently believes in the creed and acts accordingly.  In fact he was repeatedly encouraged to free Bowe Bergdahl, a captive of the Taliban for the past five years, by numerous Republicans including former POW John McCain.

Yet, once Obama actually did negotiate for Bergdahl’s release via a prisoner swap, all hell broke loose.  Remembering the first section of today’s blog, you guessed it…the same people who urged Bergdahl’s repatriation are on the attack,  trying and convicting him of desertion and treason in the objective court of law that is Fox News.   Now, and for the first time ever, leaving a fallen comrade behind is patriotic.  Never mind the severe morale and practical implications of running the military with this new principle.  Let’s just shout to the voters that Obama’s success is really just an act of weak collaboration intended to deflect attention from…well…Benghazi!  Yeah, this is about Benghazi.

We have a courts martial procedure for deserters.   The Taliban have their own methods although they tend to be swifter and sharper.   To suggest that an American solider should have his fate determined via Afghani “justice” is truly stunning.  One wonders if they can get any lower.

4)      A&Q

We have finally stumped (or possibly bored to tears) our learned readers.  No one responded that the most common elected “stepping stone” to the presidency, other than VP of course, is the office of Governor of New York.  Both Roosevelts, Cleveland and, for two brief months, Van Buren were all executives in the Empire State.   Jefferson, Monroe and Tyler as Governors of Virginia are next in line.

Let’s try a different kind of question.  Given the recent news about Governor Scott Walker and his being “at the center of a criminal conspiracy” to evade Wisconsin election laws (prosecutors’ phrasing) along with the ongoing fun in New Jersey and not forgetting former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his pending 14 count felony indictment, how about this.   While we won’t know the winner for some time, please predict the combined total amount of prison time eventually meted out to Walker & Christie & McDonnell?  I know it isn’t really trivia but sure is fun to speculate about. 

 

 

 

 

 

1)      Nostradamus in Nome?

Well this is embarrassing.  After years of having fun attacking the “intellect” of the half-term, half-wit Governor of Alaska it turns out that she may prove to be an insightful visionary not unlike the famous French apothecary.

She did all she could to warn us…

“The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s death panel so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society’ whether they are worthy of health care.  Such a system is downright evil.”  Sarah Palin 8/7/09

Here we are, five years since Palin’s forecast and the evidence is clear.  While some of the details were wrong, just as Nostradamus predicted the rise of Hister in Germany rather than the failed painter of a similar name, she was fundamentally right.  In 2014 government officials do in fact make decisions about the availability of health care for millions of people resulting in the needless deaths of those deemed unworthy.

One of the details she missed a bit is that it turns out that “death panels” aren’t the faceless, anonymous Obama Administration apparatchiks she foretold.  No the culprits are well known and even take pride in their actions.  The most impactful of these groups is generally called the Texas State Legislature along with Governor Rick “been readin’ up on stuff so give me another chance” Perry.

In a 2012 Harvard study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, analysis was done looking at the impact of Medicaid expansion in states between 2000 and 2005.  Contrasting three states which chose to expand Medicaid with three neighboring states with similar demographics, the study found that a 6% decrease in mortality is achieved when care is available.  This is especially true among seniors, people of color and those in lower income counties.   One might think of them as part of the 47% of Americans who are moochers.

Twenty-five states have thus far elected to avail themselves of the provision of the 2012 Supreme Court Obamacare ruling allowing them to opt out of the federal funding for Medicaid expansion.  According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 4.8 million people reside in these states would be covered IF their legislatures accepted the money.  Not surprisingly, when you look at the states involved it reminds one of the 2008 and 2012 election maps.

The Harvard study further concluded that for every 176 more people covered by Medicaid, one unnecessary death per year would be prevented.  The rest is just arithmetic.  27,272 people will die each year because of the decision of their legislature…roughly half of the total of American troops killed in Vietnam.  Every year.  In 2014, 5,946 Texans will find out the hard way that they should have paid more attention to the campaigns for state representative.

Your author has frequently opined about slime bucket Republicans regarding redistricting, changing the rules of the Electoral College and voter suppression but this is a new low.   It seems they’ve concluded that if the aforementioned don’t keep them politically relevant that there is another way.  Other than being active supporters of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, dead people don’t vote.

2)      So Ruth don’t you think it may be…

She’s done wonderful work and has rarely disappointed.  Many of her best victories have been by the narrowest of margins.  The persistence of her legacy is under assault especially due to one of her worst defeats.

We speak of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Appointed by President Clinton in 1993, her tenure on the Court has capped a marvelous career which includes being the first woman to serve on the law reviews of two prestigious law schools (Harvard and Columbia) as well as the co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU.

She has recovered from both colon and pancreatic cancer.  She has stated that service on the bench has helped her to cope with the death of her husband which occurred four days after their 56th anniversary in 2010.  The Justice is 81 years of age.

The 2014 Senate races aren’t looking pretty.   South Dakota is a lost cause.  West Virginia and Montana are very tough.  Arkansas, Alaska and North Carolina are all seen fertile turf for the GOP.  Landrieu has to deal with the reality of demographic implosion still lingering in Louisiana post Katrina.   Hell even Angus King is hinting about maybe changing caucuses if “it would serve the interests of the people of Maine.”

So Madam Justice the choice is straightforward.  Retire in June and allow the president and current Senate to confirm a progressive 50ish replacement.  Alternatively, risk that you won’t be able to continue until 2017 when a new Democrat President and likely a reborn Democrat Senate can then take action.  If Ginsburg were to depart in the 1/15 to 1/17 window that is looming, this seat will be damaged significantly as Obama will be hamstrung in his options.  We won’t get a Sotomayor or Kagan but instead some moderate corporatist. 

Ted Kennedy held on for personal reasons and we got the Honorable Cosmopolitan Centerfold as his replacement.  You’ll recall the harm that caused the Affordable Care Act…ironically the very issue that Kennedy had fought for his entire career.  Please don’t make the same mistake.   With great respect and affection Justice Ginsburg, the seat isn’t yours…it’s ours.  Do the right thing and allow us to keep it for another generation or two.

3)      A&Q

Dr. Jeff Adams of Engeo was the first to respond that Florida is the most populous state which has never elected one of its own to national office and that Wyoming is the least populous that has done so.    Although a resident of Houston while conducting the interplanetary search for a running mate for W, Cheney awoke one morning, found his candidate while shaving and flew to the Equality State to re-register.  The Constitution does NOT prohibit both the presidential and vice presidential candidate from residing in the same state as many think.  It DOES prohibit electors from any given state casting BOTH of their electoral votes for candidates from the same state they live in.  Given the results of the 2000 election, had Cheney not gone to Casper, the Texas delegation would have been practically prevented from voting for him.  This would have given the other Republican in the race, Joe “Quisling” Lieberman a plurality and sent the vice presidential choice to the Senate where the results would be been unpredictable.  Ironically, the only other vice president from a state with the minimum of three electoral votes is none other than Joe Biden.

Speaking of vice presidents, fourteen of them have become president…by far the most common route to the White House.  Today’s winner will identify the specific ELECTED office which is the next most common.  We’re looking for an answer such as “Senator from Idaho.”  Keep in mind that Secretary of State is NOT an elected office.  Bonus points if you can name the presidents who shared this elected stepping stone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)      Zero

Rather than open today’s LiberalMoose with a victory lap on Obamacare or some other timely reference, it seemed more fitting to start with something simpler.  

Zero is pretty simple…a concept that even toddlers can understand although it usually refers to the amount of ice cream they will receive if their behavior doesn’t improve.

March 2014 marks the first month in more than eleven years that there were zero combat deaths among US military personnel.   Zero.  Finally.

Not including the tens of thousands wounded both physically and/or emotionally, we’ve lost 7,955 of our best men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Then there’s the trivial detail of the estimated 500,000 Iraqi and Afghani civilians killed since the 5 to 4 Bush v Gore ruling of the Supreme Court. 

Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama…promises made and promises kept.

2)      Be careful with your analogies

“Congratulations to President Obama for spending $634 million on a site which enrolled enough people to fill Neyland Stadium on a Saturday”…Congressman Scott DesJarlais R Tennessee

“Obamacare enrollees can fit inside Beaver Stadium.  Comfortably”…Congressman Tom Marino R Pennsylvania

“Only 106,185 people have signed up for Obamacare thus far.  The XFL drew 936,392 fans.  Can Obamacare outperform the XFL?”…Congressman Steve Stockman R Texas

As of the end of business on March 31st, the current number of enrollees is more than 7,040,000.  That number will increase as late applicants finish their processes and does not include others acquiring health care through Medicare expansion.

Since fair is fair and the esteemed aforementioned representatives seem to grasp the idea of stadium sizes, how about this.  Take the total capacity of all 32 NFL stadiums and fill EVERY seat with an Obamacare enrolled adult holding screaming newborn twins.  Under this ghastly scenario you still would leave 593,527 without seats and MIGHT generate more decibels than a typical WORLD CHAMPION SEATTLE SEAHAWK home game!

Yes the healthcare.gov site got off to an inexcusably awful start.  Yes your author was miffed at the jump in his premiums and the keystone cop politics of the White House on this critical issue.  Yes your author demanded that the Administration “better get this right…right now” on 11/22/13.

Fortunately, as the President is a devoted reader of LiberalMoose, he immediately issued an Executive Order to “Do what Koch says” (specifying that he meant the bald Seattle blow hard rather than the fascist gazillionaires of the same name).

The President addressed the nation.  Referencing the success in exceeding the Congressional Budget Office’s 6,000,000 projection (not to mention the ass whuppin’ he put on the XFL standard of Congressman Stockman), Obama spoke of the “dignity and worth” of millions of Americans whose lives are now more secure.  “The law is doing what it is supposed to do” explaining that even the rate of increasing cost for the nations’ overall health care has finally slowed.  For the first time since LBJ, a president had succeeded in materially changing the behemoth we call the American health care system.

Among the impacts of the Affordable Care Act are its myriad political implications.  Never one to shy from a bold prediction, I’d like to seize this opportunity.  Mitch McConnell will NOT be the Senate Majority Leader in 2015.  This prediction should not be interpreted as an assertion that Democrats will necessarily control the Senate in the next Congress.  No, the basis is much simpler.  In order to be Majority Leader of the Senate the rules require that you be a member of the Senate in the first place!

The rate of uninsured in the Commonwealth of Kentucky has fallen by 42% under Obamacare.  McConnell responded that the law is “catastrophic.”  Evidently 350,000 newly insured Kentuckians disagree.  Couple this math with the confident campaign of the comely Alison Lundergran Grimes and, regardless of the next Senate’s partisan breakdown, we’re going to be rid of “Turtle.”

President Barack Obama…promises made and promises kept.

3)      “Putin on the Fritz”

A phone rings at the Kremlin.  “Hey Vladimir, what’s up?  This is your buddy George callin’ from Crawford.  Just cleared some brush on the ranch and saw that not only have you seized the Crimea but now you’ve amassed 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.  I don’t understand.  Remember that special moment we had when I looked you in the eye, found you to be very straightforward and honest and I was able to get a sense of your soul?  This is sort of embarrassing to me bud.”

Russians have been seeking a “warm water seaport” since the time of Peter the Great.  Their physical and climatological geography have them otherwise trapped in ice for too much of the year.  Sevastopol in the Crimea does the trick.  The Russian Navy has been based there on a lease since Ukraine’s independence in 1991.  Katie and I were struck by the overwhelming sense of “Russianness” we witnessed on our visit during a 2010 Black Sea cruise.

Putin is a trained KGB operative who endured the collapse of his beloved Soviet Union and the utter emasculation of the Russian people.  Perhaps this sense of having a score to settle partially explains his decision to spend more on the Sochi Olympics than the previous 21 winter games combined.

While there is a rationale which one can choose to use to explain away this specific invasion of another sovereign country, unlike Bush’s invasion of Iraq which has no such rationale, let’s not kid ourselves.  The Russians have had a tendency to dominate and possess and oppress whenever they can get away with it.  We may well be on the cusp of a very dangerous new geopolitical order.

The West’s response has been measured and surgical.  Obama et al have frozen the assets of those interests Putin needs to keep happy in order to remain in power.  Given Putin’s recent call to Obama perhaps the intended effect is taking place.  The jury remains out.

The loyal opposition here at home sees things predictably.  Barack “Anyone Heard from Muammar or Osama Lately” Obama’s foreign policy is somehow “feckless” and “weak.”  Although we’ve yet to hear an alternative strategy from the likes of McCain and Romney, maybe there’s still hope.  After all, we might have some further prescient insights emanating from the Texas scrub to reliably guide us forward.

4)      A&Q

Paula Zagrecki wins our last challenge.  She immediately responded that none other than Benjamin Harrison holds the distinction of admitting the most states during his brief four year tenure.   Both Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and your author’s home of Washington all joined the Union during his watch.

Today’s question…presidents and vice presidents tend to come from populous, electorally rich states.  Two part query…first, name the largest state that has never had a favorite son elected to either office?  Second, name the smallest state which has elected one of its own to national office?  For our purposes, the state of residency at the time of election determines where an official is “from” rather than where they were born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)      The Class of ’09…where are they now?

Typically in the year following a presidential election, the “out” party begins its rehabilitation.  Building toward the first midterms of the new administration, this mini-cycle is seen as a crucial initial test.

2008 saw Obama win a landslide victory with 365 electoral votes and a 7.3% popular vote margin.  By the fall of 2009 nearly a year had passed and the economy was still sputtering, health care was the administration’s prime focus and the president had joined the ranks of Albert Schweitzer, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr and Nelson Mandela as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for doing really not that much.

New Jersey Governor and former Senator Jon Corzine was seeking re-election.  A better Wall Street investment banker than politician, he was ripe for the picking off.  Filling the void (and so much more) entered former US Attorney Chris Christie.  After a brutal campaign, Christie wins by 3.6%.

Christie’s brusque style and abruptly disarming manner win him fans at home and the attention of the talking head set.  Before you can say “I’ll have a dozen eclairs”, he is mentioned as a potential presidential nominee.  Most attractively for the GOP, he is a candidate who might be able to break the electoral stranglehold the Democrats have in both the Northeast and Midwest.

Passing on 2012 but clearly focused on 2016, Christie throws Romney under the bus with his monologue of praise for Obama’s hurricane response.   Mittens is crushed, crawls back into his hole and the stage is set.

But then there was the teeny, tiny matter of who Chris Christie really is.  As it turns out, his aforementioned brusqueness was the tip of the iceberg.  Behind that veneer of foul-mouthed, in-your-face, New Jerseyishness lurked a real SOB.  Vindictive and mean, he was happy to destroy the reputation of his core supporters in a quixotic gasp to save his own.

He asks us to believe that his Deputy Chief of Staff and campaign manager chose, on their own initiative, to create a four-day series of four-hour long traffic jams on the planet’s busiest bridge in the midst of Christie’s run for re-election.   Why would they do that?  He offers no explanation.  Furthering our suspension of disbelief, we’re then asked to accept that while this happened in September, the governor couldn’t be bothered to look into it until December but is now really, truly, overwhelmingly sad about it.

Campaign managers don’t intentionally create political problems for their clients.  Neither do staff people who happen to be single mothers with four kids.  Vicious and arrogant governors who had zero threat of losing re-election do screw up and pass the word to stick it to an entire community.  Who cares that lives are disrupted and even endangered just so long as someone in Ft. Lee got the message not to mess with the big guy in Trenton?

We’ll see how many indictments are handed out via the various investigations that are underway.  Hopefully, justice will prevail.  But make no mistake…he’s through.  If you don’t believe that, I’ve got this heavily travelled, interstate bridge to sell you.

Moving a few hundred miles south, we find ourselves in the Old Dominion of Virginia.  2009 saw then Attorney General Bob McDonnell recapture the governor’s mansion after eight years of Democrat rule.  Law and order and strong values were his platform.   With the looks (especially the hair) of a humanoid Ken doll, McDonnell was fully vetted to serve as running mate to the well-coiffed, humanoid GOP nominee in 2012.

When he wasn’t signing laws which mandated that women seeking to terminate their pregnancies had to first be raped by the state (yes, insertion of an ultrasound device against the consent of the woman is rape), McDonnell was having some financial problems.   Making matters worse, Virginia law prohibits governors from seeking re-election.  Whatever leverage McDonnell had, time was running out.

According to allegations found in the fourteen felony count indictment issued by the US Attorney this week, the governor and the first lady engaged in a scheme to enrich themselves by promoting a tobacco-based magic pill made by Star Scientific.  Star’s owner saw to it that the governor’s family enjoyed the best of vacations, shopped in the best of stores,  frolicked in his Ferrari, didn’t need to bother with paying for their daughter’s wedding caterer and had more than $150,000 in cash via a kinda sorta loan.

Promoting  locally made products is something that governors are supposed to do.  However, leveraging his authority as governor and directing state agencies to conduct themselves in a particular manner in exchange for the above largess as is alleged in the indictment, is a crime.

So the Class of 2009’s winner for “least likely to end up in federal prison” goes to Governor Chris Christie…but it was a close call.  Stay tuned.

2)      “Dance with them what brung you”?

This is the title of a delightful book by the late humorist Molly Ivins.  Moreover, it is a political choice which every president must make.

Bill Clinton began his presidency with national health care and tax increases.  1994’s midterms proved how popular those were and he moved himself and his party toward the middle.   Welfare reform followed.  He wins re-election easily.

Obama coasts to his 2008 victory against John “the crazed uncle we’re obligated to invite to Thanksgiving but we hope doesn’t show up” McCain by energizing the literati of left coupled with a coalition of people of color.  He also wins a much higher percentage of the white vote than any recent Democrat excepting Bill Clinton.

But, in case you hadn’t noticed, he’s different.  Most assuredly, the venom vendors of the right noticed and made sure everyone else did too.  The campaign to define Obama as an un-American, Muslim, Kenyan socialist radical was on and would never let up.

Notwithstanding the fact that much of his governing is reminiscent of what we used to call moderate Republicanism, Obama found that a solid and persistent segment of the electorate would never be open to him.  Moreover, although never really sure why, they despised him and believed virtually any allegation because he was one of “them” not one of “us.”

So Barack Hussein Obama supports free trade agreements at the expense of organized labor.  He passes Obamacare, a plan pushed by insurance companies and originally written by the Heritage Foundation while rejecting the single-payer model of Western Europe.  Drone strikes are ok as is the massive invasion of privacy conducted by the National Security Agency.  Edward Snowden is a traitor not a whistleblower.

The inept roll out of Obamacare coupled with quarterly episodes of economic peril brought on by the bizarre GOP House caucus furthered his popularity decline.  The “chosen one” was becoming a political pariah.  Polling numbers cratered.  All this with three years left in the White House.

The far right will never go his way.  Even killing Bin Laden was somehow a victory for the slobbering, drooling, slack-jawed idiot from Crawford.  As enumerated above, much of his presidency has been disappointing to the left.

That leaves the middle.  For Bill Clinton, they were his salvation.  In today’s politics, they’re fewer in number and less engaged.   They hear a constant stream of negativity from the right and precious little defense from the left.

So, what’s a president in such a quandary to do?  I think he may be reading Ivins’ book.

Obama announces sweeping changes to the NSA eavesdropping.   The Obamacare website issues are getting resolved and we’re hearing more about its successes than its failures.  We’re told the forthcoming State of the Union speech will focus on income inequality.  The Democrats are going to hammer home Medicaid expansion and a higher minimum wage in this year’s elections.

Guess what?  Obamas numbers are rebounding smartly.   The last polarizing president got re-elected in 2004 by energizing his base.  We’ll see if Obama keeps veering left or once again wades into an amorphous middle.

3)      A&Q

My uncle Doug DaSilva wins our last challenge.  He correctly responded that Andrew Jackson was the first president to survive an assassination attempt.  In January 1835, Jackson was attacked by an unemployed house painter named Richard Lawrence.  Not one but two pistols misfired as Jackson was leaving a congressional funeral held in the House chamber.  Although sixty-seven at the time, Jackson attacked Lawrence with his cane, beating him mercilessly.   Don’t mess with Andy Jackson!

For today’s offering please identify the president who admitted the most states to the union?   Bonus points if you can name these states.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)      Fragile

The day began with rain in Fort Worth.   Too much rain for the Lincoln convertible’s top to be removed.  But in Dallas, the sun was back. 

He was handsome and projected youthful vigor.  She was beautiful, radiant and elegant.  In a must-win state come November, 1964 why not show them off to the assembled throngs?  Exposure meant popularity and popularity meant electoral votes.

They were only in Texas in the first place to patch over a political rift.   Political rancor within Texas Democrats was intolerable and the president was needed to smooth things over.

However you choose to mark today’s 50th anniversary, consider the point that so much of our national experience turns on the smallest, fragile details, seemingly tiny anecdotes which can,  and in this case tragically did, have the most profound effects.  For me, this perspective argues for a nuanced, thoughtful politics rather than sound bites and absurdity ad infinitum.   Choices matter.  Regardless of his shortcomings, our current president evidently agrees with this philosophy.

2)      A Tale of Two Train Wrecks

Early October.  Speaking of the absurd (not to mention reckless, bizarre, dangerous, politically suicidal, etc.), how about the most recent Republican effort to prove that they are wholly unfit to govern?  Apparently having forgotten how things worked out when Speaker Newt tried the same thing, a majority of members of the United States House of Representatives decided that shutting down the government during a tepid economy made sense.  But that damage wasn’t enough.  No, why not really light the fuse and threaten the entire global economy?

144 Republicans in the House and 18 in the Senate voted for the United States to default on its debt.  Let’s say that another way for emphasis…62% of the majority party in the House thought it was a good idea for the world’s reserve currency to become unreliable.  What could go wrong?  After all, it was way way back in 2008 when the ripples of a credit crisis in the US housing market turned into a tsunami that the planet has yet to fully recover from.   Who can remember such nuanced details?

They are a clear and present danger.  Their actions border on treason.  They manifest a form of violent ignorance which seems to know no limits.  The electorate has had enough as evidenced by their robust 9% Congressional approval rating, the lowest ever measured.   And speaking of 9%, that was the Democrats’ margin in the generic congressional preference until…

Late October and onward.  A crappy web page was both annoying and damaging especially given the narrow timeframe within which insurance sign ups needed to take place.  Charitably, one would write this off as a technical glitch even though we now know the Administration knew this was coming.

Then Katie and I got our letter canceling our policy and replacing it with poorer coverage at a 50% spike in cost.  To be fair though, I shouldn’t say “poorer coverage” as we now possess pediatric dental and vision care to compliment our newly minted maternity care…a real relief to two 52 year olds! 

Wait a minute.  What happened to “you can keep your own coverage” as Obama uttered countless times?  The same was parroted by Democrats in Congress who now get to explain same in 2014.  Either we were lied to or those making the pronouncements were incompetent (remembering that the two are not mutually exclusive.)

This initial phase of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has been a disaster both as a matter of policy and politics.  While Obama’s approval ratings have deservedly taken a huge hit, now down to the lowest levels of his presidency, that is minor compared to the potential damage this will cause. 

Insuring the uninsured and bending downward the spiraling costs of health care are issues of massive importance…literally matters of life and death.  As a nation we remain thirty-ninth in life expectancy, forty-ninth in infant mortality and have by far the most expensive system anywhere.  Health care hemorrhaging is the leading cause of bankruptcy.

The president and 111th Congress are to be commended for passing a meaningful step forward to deal with this overwhelming challenge.  But this calamitous roll out threatens both the good work done in 2010 and even the very concept of activism in government.  For “our side” of the political spectrum, what could be worse?

There are some nascent signs that things are on the mend.  Signs ups, especially among the young, are rapidly increasing.  California, Kentucky and elsewhere are seeing lower rates coupled with expanded coverage.  We already know the model can work as Romneycare is effective and popular.   But the White House had better get this right…right now. 

3)      Give ‘Em Hell Harry

Well what do you know?  Harry Reid has a spine after all.  Yesterday, the day after Diane Feinstein said that enough was enough, Senate Majority Leader Reid ended the fiasco of allowing the GOP minority to repeatedly thwart the president’s efforts to appoint judges and fill department posts.   In fact, more than half of the appointment filibusters in the entire history of the Senate have taken place since January 2009.  Finally, the Senate ended its practice of allowing 41 votes to trump 59 and did away with the filibuster save those relating to the Supreme Court. 

When you stick a pig it squeals.  This is true both on the farm and in the Senate.  The presiding porcine, namely the senior Senator from Kentucky, predictably whined and shouted and threatened.  And yes he might well become majority leader again in 2015.  But in 2016, his caucus faces another presidential electoral turn out and must defend 24 seats versus the Democrats’ 10.  Oink all you want Mitch but all it shows is that you’re screwed and you know it.

4)      A&Q

Your author was wrong again.  I thought the question “which legislative body is second largest in size after the US House’s 435 members” was going to be tough.  Nope.  Instantaneously, a chorus of “the New Hampshire House” with its 400 members came ringing from all sides.  While a congressman represents about 725,000 constituents, a New Hampshire representative has 3,300.  If the Congress had the same level of representation, the House would have 99,000 members!  Let’s give Bob McBarton credit for the first correct response.

Trying to outdo you all, how about this?  Given the timing of today’s column, please name the first president to endure an assassination attempt?  Bonus points for elaboration on the results both physically and legally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1)      44 = 52

Perhaps a better way to express the above would be to recount the sultry stylings of the former Norma Jean Baker, who as the enchantress Marilyn Monroe removed any doubt as to her relationship with JFK in her famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” rendition.

Sunday’s presidential birthday went to another youthful leader, born coincidentally a year and a day before the tragic death of Marilyn.   Graying along the way, seasoned and tempered by his four and one-half years in the White House, your author wondered what might be the ideal present to present to the president (sorry but I just had to).

Unable to find a gift called “House of Representatives Replacement Kit”, maybe the best choice would be something beneficial to Obama, his successors and, most importantly, the nation we call home.  Perhaps undoing the significant damage done via FDR’s ego/sense of duty/crisis management/disdain for the concept of a President John Nance Garner would be in order.

We speak of the politically emasculating and second term eviscerating 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.   After Roosevelt’s third and fourth terms, the Congress and the several states decided to limit a president to two elected terms and a potential maximum of ten years in office.  Sounded like a good idea at the time as FDR had become something akin to a monarch.

However, the result of the change has been nothing short of disastrous.  Coupled with the ever-lengthening  “election year”, the effectiveness of most presidencies is approximately the  first eighteen months of the first term and about a year of the second term…that’s it.  Three of the previous four presidents have served two terms.  The aforementioned pattern holds for Reagan, Clinton and Crawford’s slobbering, drooling idiot (yes, I have a copyright on that term). 

It surely appears to be rapidly descending on Obama as well.  The left are slowly fading in their passion for him and yearning for/obsessed with a zoftig former Secretary of State (hint: not George Shultz) while the right are tired of having Obama’s size 12’s up their backside and are deciding if they can tolerate the larger-than-life Governor of the Garden State.

Moreover is the obvious point that lame duckedness renders many of the powers of the presidency hollow.  This is especially true when the reality of gerrymandered districts for an office NOT limited in duration is taken into account.  A House member’s political calculus is simple… wait him out and buy time to fight another day.   As you can’t gerrymander a state, this is less true in the Senate but of course those members get six years terms and hence have a somewhat different mindset.

If you are among those who believe that government can and should strive to make our country and the lives of its citizens better, then let’s recognize the 22nd for the mistake it was and repeal it.  Otherwise, we’re going to be stuck with LiberalMoose’s 11/29/12 admonition that “second terms suck.”

 

 

2)      Déjà vu?

Speaking of birthdays, Medicare celebrated its 48th last week.   President Johnson appropriately chose to sign the law in Independence, Missouri.  “I predict that 30 years from today that this bill will be a welcome and permanent part of our nation’s heritage that no Representative would ever dare try to repeal” Johnson declared.  Apparently, LBJ could not envision a creature the likes of Paul “Lyan” Ryan. Honoring President Truman’s valiant effort to create a national health insurance program, Johnson made Harry and Bess the first two enrollees.

Medicare has been a wildly successful program.  Rather than 31% of seniors living in poverty, today the rate is 14%.  Prior to Medicare, more than 50% of seniors were without hospital insurance and at least 25% went without medical care due to cost concerns.   Today, nearly all seniors are covered and, in concert with advances in medicine overall, longevity is expanding at a rapid rate.  Financially, it is a much more efficient program than the private insurance system.   Ironically, Medicare’s success is a big part of its long-term challenge as the percentage of net resource recipients is growing fast.

Not everyone thought things would work out so well.   Some gloom from the past…

                 “We are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free”  Ronald Reagan

                “Medicare is socialized medicine and we don’t want it” George H.W. Bush

                “I was there fighting the fight, voting against Medicare…because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965” Bob Dole

                “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets…why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke or beer for those who drink”  Barry Goldwater

Maybe it’s just me but there seems to be a trend here.  Forecast an Orwellian/Stallinist gulag to an easily frightened and broadly uninformed segment of the electorate, be objectively proven dead wrong in your predictions on a critical issue of public policy, but become the Republican nominee for President of the United States anyway.

Early returns on the impact of Obamacare are very promising as insurance rates in both California and New York are much lower than assumed.   We already know that the same model has worked beautifully via Romneycare in Massachusetts.  You can imagine the utter panic that may be settling in on the right if Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment (approved in month 15 of his presidency by the way) turns out to work out as well as or better than he said it would? 

 

 

 

3)      Nature abhors a vacuum

The departure of the Honorable/Soon-to-be-indicted Michele Bachmann from the scene has left a void.  Who will pick up the proverbial dog whistle and tell the inbred GOP base what they next need to fear?  With apologies to Kim Carnes, who has “Michele Bachmann Eyes?”

Leading contenders include:

Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) who argues that Obamacare’s  10% tax on melanoma-causing tanning beds is racist as it only attacks white people.  Yoho is clearly aware that Obama’s tan comes naturally so he’s not completely ignorant.

Representative Steve King (R-IA) who argues against immigration reform for children of undocumented residents because “for every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds…and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because of their hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert”

Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) who also argues that a defeat of immigration reform will show Hispanics that “the Republican Party really likes me” and that Obama is conducting a “war on Christianity.”  FYI, when Googling Gohmert’s comments it takes a long time to choose as they are as voluminous as they are bizarre.

Let’s update the Republicans’ acronym.  Rather than GOP, how about BSC? 

Bat…Shit…Crazy

4)      A&Q

In addition to the deaths of Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on July 4th, 1826, James Monroe also died on the 4th five years later.  The only president born on the 4th was John Calvin Coolidge.   Kudos to my uncle Doug Da Silva for being the first of a number of stellar/nerdy LiberalMoose readers to answer that one correctly.

Today’s gauntlet.  The US House is made of 435 members along with a smattering of delegates from Guam, Puerto Rico, DC, et al.  It is the largest legislative body in the country.  Each member represents an average of 725,000 people.

Which legislative body in the US is second in size?   This is not easy.