Thursday, January 08, 2009

Making nice

Good to see the Democratic leadership making nice with Roland Burris. Hopefully, he will be seated in the Senate as soon as tomorrow and all of this nastiness will be behind us.
Blagojevich may have a few screws loose, but he is still a very smart and wily politicians and he clearly outmanuevered his critics by using his still legitimate authority to appoint someone who is wholly untainted by the pay-for-play scandal to the Senate seat. As I said earlier, all the Democratic leaders had left that they could do was bluster. Now that it is over with, it’s time to move on and focus on more important things like starting to clean up the enormous mess that Bush and the Republicans have left for the incoming Obama administration.

I’m also happy to see Sen. Feinstein has backed off of her criticism of Leon Panetta and is now supporting him for CIA chief. I think it was an inspired choice by Obama and will go a long way toward resurrecting the intelligence agency’s tarnished image.

Too bad that Norm Coleman couldn’t be a good sport and bow gracefully out of the Minnesota Senate race. Now we have to wait til his frivolous lawsuits are dealt with before seating Al Franken. The end result will be that Franken will lose seniority because he was forced to wait several days to be sworn in compared to the other incoming senators for 2009. A nice, final “SCREW YOU” from Coleman to the people of Minnesota.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bush Legacy Project

If President Bush is looking for his legacy, NBC News has put together some helpful stats comparing how things were when Bush took office in 2001 with how they are today.

Then: 4.2% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2001)
Now: 6.7% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2008)

As of November!!! Just wait until they figure in the numbers for December and January!!!!

Then: 10,587 (close of Friday, Jan. 19, 2001)
Now: 9,015 (close of Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009)

Now there’s a legacy for you. Eight years of gains in the stock market completely wiped out. Heck of a job, Mr. President!

Then: 50% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)
Now: 31% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)

31 percent favorable?? That seems a little high.

Then: 49% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)
Now: 21% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)

Hard to believe his favorables were ever that high.

Then: 48% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)
Now: 21% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)

These numbers should start to go up now that the Republicans are out of power.

Then: 45% (1/01 NBC/WSJ poll)
Now: 26% (12/08 NBC/WSJ poll)

Then: 115.7 (Conference Board, January 2001)
Now: 38.0, which is an all-time low (Conference Board, December 2008)

Then: 6.4 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 7.6 million (Census numbers for 2007 -- most recent numbers available)

And these numbers are before the big financial meltdown.

Then: 39.8 million (Census numbers for 2000)
Now: 45.7 million (Census numbers for 2007 -- most recent available)

Same here.

Then: +236.2 billion (2000, Congressional Budget Office)
Now: -$1.2 trillion (projected figure for 2009, Congressional Budget Office)

And finally, Bush’s most long-lasting legacy. Debt up to our eyeballs for as long as we can see...

Monday, January 05, 2009

X-Files: I Want To Believe

I wanted to believe that the new X-Files film would be a good movie. I was disappointed.
I don’t regret having watched it. It wasn’t THAT bad. It’s just that it was more like watching an extra-long TV episode, and one that I wouldn’t have turned into a feature-length film anyway.
I kept hoping that Fox Mulder would do something heroic during the film, but he was played more like a bumbler who somehow managed to solve big cases Clouseau-style in spite of himself. In the very end of the film he nearly gets himself killed, only to be saved in the most cliched manner.
Oh, well.
X-Files had a good run on television. And then I watched Millenium until they abruptly canceled it after just a couple of seasons. And then I started to watch Harsh Realm, but they canceled that one before it could even get off the ground. After that, X-Files creator Chris Carter said “Screw it.” and left television altogether. Sigh.

Political observations for 1-5-09

A lot happened over the weekend.
First, I’m very disappointed that Bill Richardson had to withdraw from being considered for Commerce Secretary. The news that there is an investigation about pay-to-play allegations concerning a state contract seems oddly timed.
It would certainly be unethical if a company had been awarded a big contract BECAUSE they gave money to the governor’s political action committee. But, at the same time, can we really expect that people who donate to PACs are automatically suspect and should be excluded from getting state contracts?
I just hope that once the state investigation is finished that Obama will find some room in his administration for Richardson.

Second, I was disturbed by the report that Harry Reid had allegedly lobbied Gov. Blagojevich over the Senate appointment prior to his arrest. The AP reported that Reid had called Blago to express his disapproval of appointing Chicago Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis, and state Senate President Emil Jones Jr. All three are African-Americans.
Reid is now denying the report and saying he did not tell Blago who NOT to appoint. Nevertheless, it now looks even worse to have Reid threatening to physically block Roland Burris from the Senate chamber this week. Since I don’t think he has any legal ground to stand on anyway, I hope that Reid will back off of the Burris confrontation and cut a deal this week.

Third, Congratualtions to Senator-elect Al Franken from Minnesota. Franken is going to be tentatively certified later today as the winner of the Senate race after the recount gave him a slim-250 vote margin over Republican Norm Coleman. Now I just hope that the courts will throw out all of Coleman’s frivolous challenges just as fast as he can file them. Oh, and John Cornyn can stick his threatened filibuster up his you know what.

Fourth, I hope that Gov. Paterson in New York hurries up and appoints Caroline Kennedy as the Senator to replace Hillary Clinton. It’s a smart move politically for New York to have a celebrity Senator because their power and influence is greatly enhanced beyond their low ranking in the seniority system. Sen. Kennedy will have no problem gaining media attention, despite being the low-woman on the totem pole. And besides, rejecting her and picking someone else at this point would result in a huge uproar that we really don’t need right now. I don’t care about the whole legacy issue and how unfair it is that she is getting the appointment based on her family name. That is the way politics has always been in this country. And besides, political legacies can cut both ways too. Just ask Jeb Bush.

And Fifth, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter was unfairly criticized in my opinion for appointing a non-celebrity, non-legacy individual to replace Ken Salazar in the Senate. I don’t know much about Michael Bennet other than that he was superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, but I wish the first consideration when evaluating a nominee wasn’t whether or not he can raise lots of campaign money. Nor do I think that Ritter should have been confined to picking another Hispanic to replace Salazar.