01/05/2011 archive

The 112th Congress: 1995 Redux

The only thing “new” is that incoming class of 2011 is already corrupt. Is this really what Americans’ voted for? Or are they really so stupid that they couldn’t see that these people will not represent their best interests.

And so the co-opting begins

by Bob Edgar

Back in the summer, when it began to look like the Tea Party might get a boatload of political neophytes elected to Congress, Senator-turned-lobbyist Trent Lott sounded an alarm for Washington’s influence industry.

“As soon as they get here,” Lott said of the new wave of legislators, “we need to co-opt them.”

So as the new Congress convenes this week, no one should be surprised to learn that the co-opting is well underway.

On Tuesday night, just hours before they stood in the House chamber to swear their allegiance to the Constitution, at least a dozen new lawmakers sipped cocktails and got better acquainted with the capital’s lobbying corps at a glitzy, $2,500 per ticket reception thrown in their honor.

‘Tea party’ freshmen embrace status quo

by Kathleen Hennessey

After campaigning against D.C.’s ways, new Republican lawmakers quickly turn to lobbyists and fundraisers.

?The new class of Republican lawmakers who charged into office promising to shun the ways of Washington officially arrives on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. ?But even as they publicly bash the capital’s culture, many have quietly begun to embrace it.

Several freshmen have hired lobbyists – the ultimate Washington insiders – to lead their congressional staffs. In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s swearing-in, dozens of the newcomers joined other lawmakers in turning to lobbyists for campaign cash. And on Wednesday, congressional offices will be packed with lawmakers’ relatives, friends, constituents and lobbyists, all invited to celebrate the new Congress.

This picture of business-as-usual Washington clashes with the campaign rhetoric of many newcomers, some who were propelled by support from the anti-Washington “tea party” movement. It also muddles the image House Republicans hoped to project as they took the helm this week. In contrast to the public celebration thrown by Democrat Nancy Pelosi when she became speaker four years ago, incoming House Speaker John A. Boehner has tried to strike a subdued and earnest note as he takes up the gavel.

So it raised eyebrows Tuesday when several House freshmen held a fundraiser in a swanky Washington hotel. The event, organized in part by California Rep.-elect Jeff Denham (R-Atwater), stood out as the flashiest celebration of the new Congress.

“It’s important. Without money, the machine doesn’t move,” said Javier Ortiz, a GOP strategist and fundraiser, about the week’s schedule of fundraisers and other events. “No one should be surprised that newly elected or long-serving members ask interested constituents and others to support their campaigns by making donations.”

Worse than it ever was in 1995

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Bob Herbert: Get Ready for a G.O.P. Rerun

You just can’t close the door on this crowd. The party that brought us the worst economy since the Great Depression, that led us into Iraq and the worst foreign policy disaster in American history, that would like to take a hammer to Social Security and a chisel to Medicare, is back in control of the House of Representatives with the expressed mission of undermining all things Obama.

Once we had Dick Cheney telling us that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and belligerently asserting that deficits don’t matter. We had Phil Gramm, Enron’s favorite senator and John McCain’s economic guru, blithely assuring us in 2008 that we were suffering from a “mental recession.”

Robert Muggah: The world’s broken promises to Haiti

A year on from the earthquake, more than a million are still living in tents and less than a tenth of aid cash has been delivered

Despite breathless promises to “build back better”, the international community has made only incremental progress in Haiti over the past 12 months. Our failures are especially stark when measured against the genuine displays of global solidarity with Haiti in the wake of the the January earthquake and financial pledges to reconstruction three months later, in March.

Even if some allowance is made for the extraordinary devastation wrought by the disasters, few disagree that the Haitian government’s handling of the situation has been spectacularly poor. Likewise, with few exceptions, the international aid sector’s record has been dismal. Notwithstanding efforts to signal political commitment to supporting Haiti’s transition – including UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon’s appointment of Bill Clinton as special envoy – few tangible outcomes have yet to be materialise. Haitians themselves are growing disillusioned and impatient, and signs of violence are apparent in the streets of wrecked Port-au-Prince.

And while 2010 was grim, there are few guarantees that 2011 will be any better.

Eugene Robinson: Health Care Melodrama

If the incoming Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is serious about trying to repeal health care reform, there’s only one appropriate Democratic response: “Make my day.”

Just to be clear, there’s no earthly chance that a bill repealing the landmark health care overhaul could actually make it through Congress and be signed into law. Even if Republicans managed to hold together their new majority in the House, they would face the inconvenient fact that Democrats still control the Senate. And even if a repeal measure somehow sneaked through the Senate, President Obama would veto the thing faster than you can say “pre-existing conditions.”

So this exercise in tilting at windmills can’t even be described as quixotic, since that would imply some expectation of success, however delusional. The whole thing is purely theatrical-and woefully ill-advised.

Stiglitz’s Crystal Ball

Madam Zelda!  Madam Zelda!  Is it true this house is haunted?

What Lies Ahead in 2011?

Joseph E. Stiglitz, Project Syndicate


The gravest threat (and “downside risk facing the global economy”) comes from the wave of austerity sweeping the world, as governments, particularly in Europe, confront the large deficits brought on by the Great Recession, and as anxieties about some countries’ ability to meet their debt payments contributes to financial-market instability.

The outcome of premature fiscal consolidation is all but foretold: growth will slow, tax revenues will diminish, and the reduction in deficits will be disappointing. And, in our globally integrated world, the slowdown in Europe will exacerbate the slowdown in the US, and vice versa.

I am not so bullish on Europe and America. In both cases, the underlying problem is insufficient aggregate demand. The ultimate irony is that there are simultaneously excess capacity and vast unmet needs – and policies that could restore growth by using the former to address the latter.

In both Europe and America, the free-market ideology that allowed asset bubbles to grow unfettered – markets always know best, so government must not intervene – now ties policymakers’ hands in designing effective responses to the crisis. One might have thought that the crisis itself would undermine confidence in that ideology. Instead, it has resurfaced to drag governments and economies down the sinkhole of austerity.

On This Day in History January 5

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 5 is the fifth day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 360 days remaining until the end of the year (361 in leap years).

On this day in 1933, construction starts on what will become one of America’s most famous landmarks: the Golden Gate Bridge. When completed in 1937, the Golden Gate has a 4,200-foot-long suspension span, making it the world’s longest suspension bridge. Since opening to the public in May 1937, almost 2 billion vehicles have crossed the bridge, in both the north- and southbound directions.

The bridge was named not for its distinctive orange color (which provides extra visibility to passing ships in San Francisco’s famous fog), but for the Golden Gate Strait, where the San Francisco Bay opens into the Pacific Ocean. The bridge spans the strait and connects the northern part of the city of San Francisco to Marin County, California.

Before the bridge was built, the only practical short route between San Francisco and what is now Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay. Ferry service began as early as 1820, with regularly scheduled service beginning in the 1840s for purposes of transporting water to San Francisco. The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company service, launched in 1867, eventually became the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific Railroad subsidiary, the largest ferry operation in the world by the late 1920s. Once for railroad passengers and customers only, Southern Pacific’s automobile ferries became very profitable and important to the regional economy. The ferry crossing between the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco and Sausalito in Marin County took approximately 20 minutes and cost US$1.00 per vehicle, a price later reduced to compete with the new bridge. The trip from the San Francisco Ferry Building took 27 minutes.

Many wanted to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County. San Francisco was the largest American city still served primarily by ferry boats. Because it did not have a permanent link with communities around the bay, the city’s growth rate was below the national average. Many experts said that a bridge couldn’t be built across the 6,700 ft (2,042 m) strait. It had strong, swirling tides and currents, with water 500 ft (150 m) in depth at the center of the channel, and frequent strong winds. Experts said that ferocious winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation.

My Views Today

Today was a perfect winter day for a walk here in the Bronx. I took my camera, my first DSLR out for a test drive. I’m just getting used to it and enjoying how easy it is to use.

During a nice walk in Van Cortlandt Park the new bright viewfinder made all the difference from my usual compositions. Just a few more images of a crisp clear day below the fold.  

Prime Time

New V.  Other premiers.  Tonight’s highight is the final 5 new episodes of Caprica back to back.  I’m still conflicted about it, the only ones I identify with are the Cylons and the Adamas.


Dave hosts Tim McGraw, Shaquille O’Neal, and Keri Hilson.  Jon has Kirsten Gillibrand, Stephen Geoffrey Canada.  Conan in repeats from 11/24.

Well, you see, Aborigines don’t own the land.They belong to it. It’s like their mother. See those rocks? Been standing there for 600 million years. Still be there when you and I are gone. So arguing over who owns them is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog they live on.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pakistani governor assassinated in Islamabad

by Khurram Shahzad, AFP

1 hr 2 mins ago

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – The governor of Pakistan’s Punjab province was shot dead near his Islamabad home on Tuesday, in a brazen assassination that threatens to sink the nuclear-armed country ever deeper into chaos.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who is facing a fight for survival after losing his parliamentary majority, immediately appealed for calm with memories fresh of riots sparked by previous political killings in Pakistan.

Officials said Salman Taseer, 66, who was appointed governor of Pakistan’s most populous and politically important province in 2008, was killed by one of his bodyguards opposed to his public criticism of controversial blasphemy laws.