Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wall Street Defends Their Taxpayer Funded Bonuses

Plenty of scorn has been heaped upon the titans of finance in the last few months. Politicians and plebs alike have railed against the excesses of Wall Street and clamored for reform while making the effort to restart the economy. In the last days of a Republican White House, Democrats in Congress aided the President with $700 billion in relief for Wall Street, so that credit would begin to flow yet again. Now we learn that credit is still stuck and yet, these financiers that tanked our economy took in nearly $20 billion of bonuses last month. The public outrage was not unforeseen, but the reaction to it from bankers and traders is downright obscene.

From The NY Times:

“People come here because they want to work hard and get paid a lot for working hard,” one investment banker said Friday as he wended his way, lunch bag in hand, through the World Financial Center. “I think there’s a disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street.”
Oh yeah, there is a disconnect for sure. The realities for those struggling to get by and those who struggle to wait for a table at Jean Georges are worlds apart.

“My bonus is ‘shameful’ — but I worked hard to get it,” said John Konstantinidis, a wholesale insurance broker, lunching Friday at Harry’s at Hanover Square.

“I’m a HENRY,” Mr. Konstantinidis added. “High Earner but Not Rich Yet.”
Sounds more like a SCHMUCK than anything else to me. The delusion here is high while the nation suffers miserably in a time where tens of thousands are laid off in a single day. This guy should be grateful he has a job. Then there was the criticism of the President for daring to speak ill of their kind.
“I think President Obama painted everyone with a broad stroke,” said Brian McCaffrey, 55, a Wall Street lawyer who was on his way to see a client. “The way we pay our taxes is bonuses. The only way that we’ll get any of our bailout money back is from taxes on bonuses. I think bonuses should be looked at on a case by case basis, or you turn into a socialist.”
Mr. McCaffrey wouldn't know the definition of socialism if it smacked him open-handed in the face. What does he think the bailout money is, something out of the pages of Keynes or Locke? And then there's this callously-laden gem at the end of the article:

“On Main Street, ‘bonus’ sounds like a gift,” he said. “But it’s part of the compensation structure of Wall Street. Say I’m a banker and I created $30 million. I should get a part of that.”

“There’s got to be a better term for it,” he added, turning to Mr. Novello.

“Earned income credit?” he wondered aloud.
What about the trillions you and brethren have lost over the last couple of years? Where is your contribution towards fixing that? How do you justify being rewarded with bonuses when your company is losing billions upon billions of dollars? Really, there is no excuse, none at all. I swear, in another time and place, their actions would be criminal.

President Obama's Weekly Address

Here he is, our President:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Battle To Ban Carriage Horses In NYC Heats Up

Activists and horse carriage drivers have been at it for a while now, but today they are facing off at City Hall with legislation to ban the industry at stake. Quite a few cities have done away with horses pulling carriages already and in my opinion, it would be great if we'd follow their lead. Passions are high on both sides and it can clearly be seen by the amount of people at City Hall today.

From PolitickerNY:

At the start of a Council hearing on a proposed bill to ban the carriage horse industry, a collection of about 20 people stood outside the gates in consternation. They had been told that the hearing room was full.

"We're all in this together," said a distraught Pamela Seri, owner of a vegan restaurant on the Upper West Side. "This has to stop. They can't go on like this anymore." The hearing room inside was indeed packed, with PETA-sticker-sporting horse lovers and carriage horse drivers themselves.

At issue are two bills: one, spearheaded by Councilman Tony Avella, to ban horse carriages outright, which has been in the works for several years as the anti-carriage movement has bubbled up around the legislative fringes. The other, proposed by Councilman David Weprin, would raise the price of a carriage ride from $34 per half hour to $54 and impose other regulations for the health of the horses.

Of course, the newly minted teamsters are backing Weprin's bill. Perhaps that is because even with new regulations, they'll probably be left unenforced, just as the current ones are. Studies have shown that the agencies meant to police the horse carriage industry have failed again and again. The truth of the matter is, that despite the half-truths and lies spread by the people who work with these horses, it is cruel and inhumane for these creatures to ferry people around Midtown Manhattan. There are much better ideas that we can all get behind, such as utilizing classic cars to take people around the park that would provide just as many jobs as the horse industry does.

Dem Leaders Should Listen To Their Rank And File

The economic stimulus bill has passed the House with Barack Obama and the Dem leadership's concessions to the Republican party. However, the Senate is still working on it. They have the opportunity to right a wrong here that will not only show they have some spine, but most importantly help the American people get back on their feet.

From The Huffington Post:

Rank-and-file Congressional Democrats had been willing to give Republicans the business tax cuts and other provisions they wanted in the stimulus. That is, up until every single one voted against the bill on the House floor Wednesday.

Now, in both the House and the Senate, angry members are lobbying Democratic leaders to yank those tax breaks back.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked Thursday by the Huffington Post why the business tax cuts, whose purpose was to garner Republican support, would be left in the bill if no Republicans supported it regardless.

The Democrats in the Senate feel the same way, yet as the article points out, the leadership is not ready to go back and fix the bill so that it doesn't bend over backwards for Republicans that won't support it anyways. I know that some GOP Senators say wait, but really, why should we trust them and above all, why should we continue to listen to their policies after they've failed us for the last eight years. It is time for Reid, Durbin, Pelosi, Hoyer and the rest of the Congressional leaders to snap out of it. We aren't in the minority anymore, we have the Senate, House and the White House in our hands, and if Republicans do not want to compromise, then we must lead the way ourselves.

John McCain Needs To Worry About Himself, Not Rush Limbaugh

Senator John McCain took the time to go on Fox News and defend Rush Limbaugh's status in the Republican party over at Fox News this morning. He basically told Obama to lay off, but really Senator, don't you have more important things to worry about besides the king of hate radio, like saving your own skin?

Finally, A Vice-President That Cares

For eight long years not only did we have a terrible President in George Bush, we had a sinister Vice-President that went along with him. Cheney's abysmal poll numbers only told part of the story. The man was pre-occupied with expanding secrecy in the Executive branch, torture, corporate power and war. When asked about how people felt about him, he could care less. Our new VP however, well, it's like night and day.

From USA Today Op-Ed by Vice-President Biden):

For years, we had a White House that failed to put the middle class front and center in its economic policies.

President Obama has made it clear that is going to change. And it's why he has asked me to lead a task force on the middle class.[...]

One of the things that makes this task force distinctive is it brings together — in one place — those agencies that have the most impact on the well-being of the middle class in our country. We'll be looking at everything from access to college and training with the Department of Education, to business development with the Department of Commerce, to child care reform with Health and Human Services, to labor law with the Department of Labor. With this task force, we'll have a single, high-visibility group with one goal: to raise the living standards of middle-class families.

Over the upcoming months, we will focus on answering those concerns that matter most to families. What can we do to make retirement more secure? How can we make child and elder care more affordable? How do we improve workplace safety? How are we going to get the cost of college within reach? What can we do to help weary parents juggle work and family? And, above all else, what are the jobs of the future? Here, we'll be looking at green jobs, better-paying jobs, better-quality jobs.

The only jobs Dick Cheney cared about were those of private contractors, especially those that worked for Halliburton. Everything was done in secret and strictly for the sake of a the expense of the country. Now our Vice-President is willing and wanting to listen to us, to hear our ideas and implement the best plan to move the middle class forward and expand it once again. Too many people have suffered under Bush and Cheney. The time to reverse that is now.

M.T.A. To Get Busy On Fulton St. With Fed Stimulus

Congress and Barack Obama have tentatively found $819 billion dollars to spread around to start the economy moving again. I'd prefer a higher percentage of it to be going to infrastructure than the tax breaks that were meant to appease Republicans but alas, that is another story altogether. Anyway, New York got a nice chunk of that money and subsequently, so did the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Out of the $1.5 billion or so dedicated to them, Elliot Sander and friends have decided to spend a third of it to finish the Fulton St. transit hub.

From The NY Times:

The additional financing would allow the authority to move ahead with plans to erect an architecturally dramatic glass building atop the transit hub, said Elliot G. Sander, the authority’s executive director. However, it was not clear if the final design would include the project’s signature feature, a conelike skylight, known as an oculus, that would channel daylight into the lower areas of the station. Mr. Sander said the oculus could add about $40 million to the cost.

“The pavilion has to be many things to many people,” Mr. Sander said, referring to the glass structure. “It has to be a building of vibrant design with as much new retail activity as possible.” He called it “a highly visible portal to a modern transportation complex.”

Mr. Sander, who spoke at a State Assembly hearing in Lower Manhattan, said that he estimated the authority would receive $1.5 billion to $2 billion from the economic stimulus bill that is working its way through Congress. He said he planned to spend $497 million of that to complete the downtown transit hub. He did not say how the remainder would be spent.

Well it sounds nice that the M.T.A. can actually go ahead and finish the hub but doesn't Mr. Sander think that there are other projects that are just a little more pressing than a giant glass dome? I know, it'll look nice and fill in the giant hole down there created by the demolishment of several long-standing buildings. I get that argument.

I also get the argument that the Lexington line is ridiculously overcrowded (especially since I ride it) and that the never-ending saga that is the Second Avenue line is just a little more important. The money for that is about to run out and this is the perfect opportunity to ensure that at least Phase I can be completed. Aesthetics are important to the downtown folk and the millions that pass through the hub down there but they can manage without for now. It would be much better and make a lot more sense for the M.T.A. to finish the underground portion of it and opens Phase I of the T line to ease the overcrowding on the Lexington line.

Rove Subpoenaed Again, Ignores It, Again

Surprise, surprise, Karl Rove will not comply with the latest Congressional subpoena from John Conyers. The difference of course this time is that the Attorney General will now be Eric Holder and not Bush apologist Michael Mukasey. Will he force Rove to show up after he is held in contempt of Congress?

He better.

The Power Of The Wind

I still remember when my Mom or Grandma would drive us out from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. It was a long ride for an impatient kid such as myself, but I loved to see the windmills as we got close to our destination. Watching the giant turbines spin around and around added a degree of activity to the deserts and the mountains along the Interstate. They were all by themselves out there, but I had no idea how many people it took to build or maintain them. Now in 2009, the workforce dedicated to the industry is better than ever.

From The Green Wombat:

Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, the coal industry employs about 81,000 workers. (Those figures are from a 2007 U.S. Department of Energy report but coal employment has remained steady in recent years though it’s down by nearly 50% since 1986.) Wind industry employment includes 13,000 manufacturing jobs concentrated in regions of the country hard hit by the deindustrialization of the past two decades.

The big spike in wind jobs was a result of a record-setting 50% increase in installed wind capacity, with 8,358 megawatts coming online in 2008 (enough to power some 2 million homes). That’s a third of the nation’s total 25,170 megawatts of wind power generation. Wind farms generating more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity were completed in the last three months of 2008 alone.

Another sign that wind power is no longer a niche green energy play: Wind accounted for 42% of all new electricity generation installed last year in the U.S. Power, literally, is shifting from the east to west, to the wind belt of the Midwest, west Texas and the West Coast. Texas continues to lead the country, with 7,116 megawatts of wind capacity but Iowa in 2008 overtook California for the No. 2 spot, with 2,790 megawatts of wind generation. Other new wind powers include Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado and Washington state.

Although wind power only accounts for a small percentage of our total energy usage, the increasing numbers (both in jobs and percentage of new energy) portends a promising future. There are so many prime areas still out there to be utilized by the growing industry and as a result, more green jobs. We still have a long way to go, but the bigger wind power gets, the harder it will be to stop it's emergence and eventual dominance (in conjunction with solar and geothermal power) over fossil fuels.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Good News And Numbers For Unions

These are exciting times now for unions in America. For decades, corporations have chipped away at their power and their ability to organize, resulting in a precipitous decline in membership. Despite that corporate dominance over workers, the total amount of Americans in unions rose in the highest amount since 1983. It sounds great, but only because many of the new recruits work in government where union busting is not much of a problem. Now imagine if private companies had to let workers have their say about joining a union in the same way the government does. Well it can be a reality soon, as long as Congress passes the Employee Free Choice Act.

From The NY Times:

Most Democrats support the bill, the Employee Free Choice Act, saying that making it easier for unions to grow will help strengthen the nation’s middle class during tough economic times. But Republicans denounce the bill because it would give workers the right to gain union recognition as soon as a majority signed cards saying they wanted a union, rather than through secret-ballot elections.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36.8 percent of government employees belong to unions, compared with just 7.6 percent of workers in the private sector. Typically, state and city officials do not fight unionization efforts, while private-sector employers, fearing higher labor costs, often vigorously resist organizing drives.

The bureau noted that the percentage of workers in unions has dropped from 20.1 percent in 1983, with the decline especially noteworthy among private-sector workers because of a sharp drop in manufacturing jobs as a result of plant closings and pressures from imports. The bureau said 11.4 percent of manufacturing workers, once the heart of organized labor, were in unions.
It is true that many of those losses in membership are due to declining manufacturing jobs. Yet plenty of other industry sectors have blossomed but have not seen much in the way of unionizing. Passing the EFCA would be instrumental in helping to make that happen. Finally we could start to shift the balance of power back towards the people in this country that actually produce the goods and services that the corporations exist off of. After this battle is won, an increase of 428,000 union members a year will seem miniscule.

#39's Advice To #44

Jimmy Carter was on CNN with Wolfman Blitzer to give President Barack Obama some useful advice:

Thank you President Carter! Obama tried reaching out to Republicans, but clearly they do not know the meaning of compromise. For the GOP it is either their way or no way and when you are put in the minority by the American people...the message should be clear on what to do if you are Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress.

A Shoe Statue Iraqis Can Be Proud Of

Remember when the Iraqi people U.S. military tore down the giant statue of Saddam Hussein and the giant crowd watched and the lapdog media snapped pictures to show how great things were? George Bush was so proud of himself, he probably thought one day soon that the Iraqis would name streets and boulevards for occupying liberating them. Well that hasn't happened yet, but an artist in Tikrit commemorated him in a bronze statue this month though not as he might have liked or imagined.

From The NY Daily News:

A sofa-sized statue of the shoe was unveiled Thursday in Tikrit, the hometown of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad-based artist Laith al-Amari described the fiberglass-and-copper work as a tribute to the pride of the Iraqi people.

The statue is inscribed with a poem honoring Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who stunned the world when he whipped off his loafers and hurled them at Bush during a press conference on Dec. 14.

The ex-President (ah, so good to add that "ex" part) successfully ducked both shoes, but Iraqis and billions of people around the world aren't forgetting al-Zeidi's throw any time soon. Especially now in Tikrit, they can walk by al-Amari's statue and remember it every single day.

$15 Billion Over Two Years From The Stimulus To NY

The New York State budget has to be dramatically overhauled, but the economic stimulus bill currently in the Senate is going to be a huge boost and a great deterrent to some of the worst cuts proposed in Albany. The primary purpose of the stimulus here was to save Medicaid, shown by the $10 billion going directly to reimburse the state for that reason alone. The rest is for the MTA, police agencies and rebuilding roads.

From Newsday:

The $819 billion program backed by President Barack Obama, which the House began debating Tuesday, has some $737 million in Medicaid relief what will go directly to upstate counties, as will at least $860 million in education aid, Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday. For New York City, the package includes about $1.8 billion in Medicaid funding and a minimum of $1.6 billion in education aid. He said the House and Senate versions of the measure are almost the same. The measure covers a period of nine fiscal quarters, a little more than two years. "It's not a panacea," Schumer said, stressing that it won't keep local officials from having to make spending cuts. But it keeps officials upstate from having to immediately choose between major property tax increases and program cuts for two years, while giving the city "a shot in the arm."
A shot in the arm is better than nothing, and with all of this money being handed out, it is necessary that New York gets its fair share. A panacea it is not though, and the remaining gaps must be corrected with a few spending cuts, but also with tax increases for those that can afford it. I cannot stress it enough, we need to engage in shared sacrifice, even including those that make hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. The poor and middle classes are already suffering enough, now the wealthy need to feel some of that pinch.

Jim DeMint Predicts No GOP Senate Votes For Stimulus

Like their counterparts in the House, GOP Senators have no interest in helping to pass an economic stimulus bill along to the people. Thankfully, they're in the minority, so unless they go the obstructionist route this bill is heading to Obama's desk regardless of their 41 no votes.

GOP Looks To Find Their Purpose

The RNC is about to begin a four day meeting in Washington that is billed as a way to find their way in this new political world. After two consecutive cycles of being handily whipped at the polls, party leaders understand that something different has to happen. Even the theme of the weekend is being called "Republican for a Reason." What that reason is though, fails to grasp me...and most of the country.

From The Washington Post:

"Republican for a reason?" says Stephen Scheffler, a committeeman from Iowa, pausing before a banner carrying the slogan. "I don't know what that means."

This is not an occasion for high-fives. The committee is getting together to choose a new chairman, settling an unusually intense competition that includes former Maryland lieutenant governor and current omnipresent talking head Michael Steele. It will also consider whether to issue a call to put the kibosh on President Obama's stimulus plan and any future industry bailouts. A few young women in blue T-shirts hand out stickers promoting a candidate for chairman, Saul Anuzis, of Michigan. None of the other candidates seem to bother.

The members linger over soup in the hotel restaurant and chat quietly in the hallway. Ron Kaufman -- a committeeman who was tight with Daddy Bush -- tries to sell a couple of fellow members on the virtues of Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead." Eventually the group files behind closed doors to commiserate in secret. Beginning today it will open things up for publicly consumable speechifying.

Making speeches about doing something different, or worse, going back to the "roots" of being a Republican (whatever that means) and casting off the big government ways of the last eight years isn't going to get them anywhere. The Republican way has failed and they know it. The American people have caught on to their game and punished them for it. Yet, Republican leaders are trying to hold on to some mythical image of a glorious party past by.

Like Ayn Rand's writing, the theoretical greatness of being able to take care of yourself sounded like a dream on the pages of her book is much the same as the rhetoric of the speeches given by Boehner, McConnell and the suckers that get to head the party apparatus this year. If the Republicans want to succeed in getting back to being nationally relevant, they had better start compromising with the Democratic majority, or else they'll be tossed into the dustbin of history.

$15,000 Isn't Enough To Save Monserrate

Campaign finance reports have shown that Senator (ugh) Hiram Monserrate has spent $15,000 with a reputation management firm. It took him a while to file the reports (which aren't finished either), possibly to let this nugget of information slip out a little later, once the spotlight was off of him a bit more.

From PolitickerNY:

ALBANY—State Senator Hiram Monserrate brought his elections filings up to date, and records show he paid $15,000 to a reputation management firm two weeks after he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend.

Monserrate's January filings show his campaign committee paid $15,000 to Dolce Goldin, the home firm of former Inside City Hall host Davidson Goldin.

"Like most elected officials, I receive, from time to time, advice from media consultants," Monserrate said when asked if the payment was for services rendered related to the alleged assault. (Monserrate has pleaded not guilty and his accuser has publicly changed her story.) "It's all part of what we do, and that's what I contracted them for.

Paying a reputation management firm to do what? I thought being found innocent of those (alleged) crimes was supposed to be good enough. Perhaps he was having so much trouble keeping his stories straight, that he hired someone to do it for him with the ability to try and make it seem plausible.

Feingold On Rachel Maddow To Talk Up 28th Amendment

Rachel went from having one of the least respected men in politics on her show to one of the most. After hearing a lot of spin (and possibly some admission of guilt mixed in) with Blagojevich, her interview with Senator Russ Feingold shows that even he has something in common with the impeached Governor.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rush Being Attacked By Dems...And Republicans Too?

Unlike the cowards in the Republican caucus that cower before Rush Limbaugh, plenty of Democrats are willing to stand up and attack the hate-radio icon. Conservatives may love to listen to his racially-tinged and morally-bankrupt rants, but the other side of the aisle has no problem calling him what he is.

From Down With Tyranny:

Alan Grayson, the outspoken member from Orlando, as usual, wasn't mincing words: "Rush Limbaugh is a has-been hypocrite loser, who craves attention. His right-wing lunacy sounds like Mikhail Gorbachev, extolling the virtues of communism. Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict. If America ever did 1% of what he wanted us to do, then we'd all need pain killers."[...]

Earlier Maryland congressman and chair of the DCCC, Chris Van Hollen, actually released an official statement on the DCCC website about Limbaugh's remarks.
"Rush Limbaugh's reprehensible remark that he ‘hopes' President Obama fails to meet the extraordinary economic challenges Americans face has no place in the public discourse.
And those are just two of the remarks out of the bunch. Now granted, some Republicans have tried to keep more of a distance from Rush, but the truth is, there is no real leadership in their party and the only thing they know is rabid partisan extremism, something that Mr. Limbaugh excels in.

Peter King Picks A Fight With Photographers

As a legislator, it is your job to introduce, debate and vote on legislation (primary job duties at least) that affect your constituents at home. Of course, not everyone can introduce important bills such as the EFCA, the economic stimulus bill or the Lily Ledbetter Act. Peter King, in service to his Long Island district, wants cell phone cameras to click. Yes, this really is a bill pending in the United States House of Representatives.

From OpenCongress:

January 9, 2009

Mr. KING of New York introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce


To require mobile phones containing digital cameras to make a sound when a photograph is taken.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ‘Camera Phone Predator Alert Act’.


    Congress finds that children and adolescents have been exploited by photographs taken in dressing rooms and public places with the use of a camera phone.


    (a) Requirement- Beginning 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, any mobile phone containing a digital camera that is manufactured for sale in the United States shall sound a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone whenever a photograph is taken with the camera in such phone. A mobile phone manufactured after such date shall not be equipped with a means of disabling or silencing such tone or sound.

    (b) Enforcement by Consumer Product Safety Commission- The requirement in subsection (a) shall be treated as a consumer product safety standard promulgated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under section 7 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2056). A violation of subsection (a) shall be enforced by the Commission under section 19 of such Act (15 U.S.C. 2068).

I thought it was the Republican party that was supposed to be against the Nanny state, no? Congressman King's intentions might be good, but the requirement is not only hard to enforce, but ridiculous and does not only apply to those taking pictures for perverted reasons. Plenty of photographers prefer their digital cameras to be on silent to get the best shots. As this guy said, maybe we should all wear bells around our necks or perhaps put alarms on all the security cameras that film us all day long. Seriously Mr. King, why don't you put your mind to something useful and stop playing on people's fears.

Ekonomiks Iz Hard Fer Jeff Flake

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a United States Congressman:

Uh, no that isn't how it works Mr. Flake, tax cuts go by and large to rich people and your argument, as Josh Marshall notes, is nonsensical.

Schumer Helps Businesses That Subsidize Workers' Commuting Costs

Here in New York, if you have to commute to work (and this applies to most workers) your employer can pay for your commute costs, whether it is by driving or on the subway. The M.T.A. makes MetroCards specifically for this purpose. It has always been a smart decision to enroll in this program as a boss and definitely as an employee. Now thanks to Senator Schumer, the deal is even nicer for those that take the bus or subway to work.

From The NY Daily News:

The politicians keep saying the economic crisis is also an opportunity. It certainly was for Chuck Schumer today, who managed to stick a break for transit riders into the Senate’s stimulus bill.

Basically, Schumer’s amendment would double the break employers get for subsidizing the commuting costs of workers, from $115 a month to $230.

Oddly, they already got a $230 pay roll tax break for help out drivers, so doubling it for straphangers is especially sweet for the Park Slope senator.

This is great news, not only for the tax break, but the relief it will have and further justification to implement one specific part of the Ravitch Plan. That is, to institute an additional payroll tax on employers so that we can keep the subway running and the M.T.A. fiscally afloat. If Schumer's language is passed within the economic stimulus bill, there should be no objections whatsoever to the additional payroll taxes.

Bloomberg's Campaign Already In High Consulting Gear

Michael Bloomberg is claiming that it isn't time to campaign yet, but he is certainly doing everything it takes to crush any competition to his re-election bid. Besides his little Google ad floating around, he is positioning himself so that no one else can rely on New York City consulting firms. How so you ask? Well, he's aiming to put them all in his multi-million dollar basket, including Democrats.

From PolitickerNY:

Yes, the mayor spent tens of millions of dollars in his past two campaigns, much of it on high-priced political talent. But there were still plenty of New York Democrats who simply wouldn’t go there. He was a Republican, and, well, they weren’t.

But the mayor has since registered as an independent (the better to market the idea of a possible bid for president last year). And now, with the inconvenient party label removed from around his neck—and with the ability, as always, to deliver a massive payday to anyone who comes along for the ride—there’s no longer anything stopping even the most pure-pedigreed Democratic consultants from signing up.

Take Howard Wolfson, whose former bosses include Chuck Schumer, Hillary Clinton, New York’s Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He’s on board. Hank Sheinkopf, the bare-knuckled Democratic consultant who helped elect New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson to citywide office in 2001 and was expected to rejoin him again this year, has just been acquired by Mr. Bloomberg too.

“He could just about put every consultant in the country on retainer,” said consultant Jerry Skurnik.

I would love for Mr. Bloomberg to explain how this isn't an argument for truly clean elections in New York. On that note, I am confident that at least one of those consultants will come up with an idea, how could they not, there are so many of them.

And shame on the Democrats that are willing to be put on retainer. He may not be a Republican strictly by the letter, but we certainly know that he tried courting them in order to be put higher on the ballot. Of course, what makes it an easy pill to swallow is that he isn't in the Democrat/Republican game anyways. If there were a party for the Mayor, it'd be the party of power-hungry plutocrats.

Rachel Maddow Does A WTF On The Stimulus Bill

Elections matter, and Democrats from the White House to the Congress should understand that...and capitalize on it. Rachel Maddow helps remind all of us about that reality. Hopefully legislators that are bowing to Republican demands are listening to this. Even better, perhaps they'll stand up and do something about it.

Corporate America Hates America

They do, they really do. The top executives, lobbyists and CEOs hate us, loathe us, despise us. Now, they love the America where they can get handouts in the billions of dollars for themselves but that isn't the, as Sarah Palin would not say, the real America. When it comes to helping out their workers, the people who actually produce and generate the wealth for the top, corporations will do whatever it takes to punch us in the gut while begging for financial mercy.

From The Huffington Post:

Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community's top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call -- including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG -- were urged to persuade their clients to send "large contributions" to groups working against the Employee Free Trade Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the call along with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of the Center for Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed the legislation as an existential threat to American capitalism, or worse.

"This is the demise of a civilization," said Marcus. "This is how a civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and I'm watching this happen and I don't believe it."

Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Republican senatorial campaigns were needed, they argued, to prevent America from turning "into France."

"If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their goddamn jobs," Marcus declared.

Bernie Marcus is the type of goon that is up against the American worker. To him, the pinnacle of civilization is the feudal system, where thousands of peons toil day and night to increase his bottom line and his bank account. If this guy is charismatic, he must have gotten those skills from the devil himself. His ego looks to be beyond all help, swollen to the point that the slightest touch of his forward would cause an earthquake felt from New York to Los Angeles.

He may fear America turning into France for good reason though. If this were France, and he made statements like that (especially if it were in the early 19th century) he'd be guillotined in an instant. Right after Louis and Marie Antoinette, Marcus would next on the chopping block. His callous disregard for the workers that put him where he's at is astounding. It should be a clear sign to our political leaders that our corporate-government dynamic is out of control, the question is, will they listen?

Padavan-Gennaro Contest Finally Drawing To A Close

It has been quite some time since any news has come out of the 11th Senate District. Padavan had the lead last time it was checked and Gennaro was trying to get as many eligible votes counted as he could. Yesterday the Board of Elections granted Jim that wish, but whether or not the remaining ballots holds enough Gennaro votes to overcome Frank's lead...well, let's just say it looks highly doubtful.

From The Daily Politics:

Depending on how long the count takes - and there have been conflicting reports as to exactly how many ballots are out there, but it's somewhere between 1,700 and 2,700 - this contest could be a contender for the title of longest-running undecided legislative race in modern history.

The record to date is the 2004 Spano-Stewart-Cousins race, in which Spano wasn't declared the winner until Feb. 8 of 2005 - and then by just 18 votes.

Republican Frank Padavan, who was the incumbent GOP senator when this whole mess started, has a lead of several hundred votes - perhaps as many as 500 - over his Democratic challenger, Councilman Jim Gennaro.

So yeah, it is a longshot, but stranger things have happened in politics before. Regardless though if Padavan pulls through, the contest is a clear indicator that Padavan is vulnerable and the district is nearly ready to change. With a stronger challenge, especially if the DSCC backs the Democrat in the race like they did for Foley and Addabbo, this is another pick-up opportunity for the state party.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Congresswoman Kaptur Points Out The Revolving Doors In D.C.

Plenty of us know that Washington is a breeding ground of corruption. Part of it is caused by the extremely close relationship between big business and government, especially when people work on one side and go back to the other. That is referred to as a revolving door in politics, and it is exactly what Congresswoman Kaptur testified to on the House floor yesterday:

A Challenge The Auto Companies Should Have Taken On Long Ago

Thanks to the fact that we have Barack Obama in the Oval Office, California and other states can now go ahead and enact strict pollution laws that go above and beyond what Bush's EPA enacted. Naturally, the bailed-out auto companies are complaining about having different standards to meet in the U.S. instead of one set by the federal government. The costs of achieving California's goal of 42.5 MPG in ten years are obviously more than the low numbers CAFE requires now, but these are changes U.S. companies should have foreseen.

From TPM:

David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., said he doesn't believe the EPA will approve all the waivers asked for by the states. To do so would be economically unworkable.

"If the industry is in total shambles, you can have any regulation you want — it's not doable," he said.

Cole said the additional regulations would have to be implemented "in a way that's achievable in the industry."

Environmental organizations said Obama's approach would help the companies in the long term, forcing them to produce fuel-efficient cars coveted by more consumers. Roland Hwang, a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, estimated that a more efficient car would save its driver $1,000 to $2,000 in fuel costs over its lifetime, offsetting some of the upfront cost.

Unfortunately they still see the problem in the short-term instead of the future of automobiles. As Hwang pointed out in the article, the demand is with the more environmentally-friendly vehicles than the gas guzzlers U.S. automakers put out now. Besides, I though that the market is where companies that innovate succeed and those that languish die, or does that not count for the execs at GM, Chrysler and others?

The problem with their bankruptcy and/or death is that it would put millions of Americans out of work, so what we need to do is fund them so that they build green enough so that they meet the high demands of states like California. The costs may be tough in the beginning, but in the end, the benefits pay out ten-fold.

Community Watch Program For NY Labor

When it comes to unfair labor practices, there are plenty that go in this state. However, the Department of Labor can only do so much to combat it with budgets being axed and too many businesses to investigate. On the other end, it is hard for workers to take on their employers alone, with victories at Saigon Grill too far and few in between. So the Department of Labor is going to try something new, combining the best of both worlds.

From The NYT Cityroom:

In an announcement, the state labor commissioner, M. Patricia Smith, called the program, the New York Wage Watch, a “one-of-a-kind grass-roots tool in the fight against illegal labor practices.”

The six-month pilot will begin with six participants: the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association, which will focus on Chinatown, Flushing and parts of Long Island; Make the Road New York, which will focus on Bushwick; the Workplace Project, based on Long Island; the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which will look at high-end supermarkets; the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which will focus on retail stores in Lower Manhattan, Bushwick, the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx and parts of Queens; and the Centro del Inmigrante, based on Staten Island.

The six groups will conduct know-your-rights training, providing employers with information about compliance and distributing brochures to workers in supermarkets, laundromats, nail salons, day-labor sites and other work areas. They will have a designated contact in the Labor Department’s Division of Labor Standards, which enforces wage and hour laws, to whom they can refer violations or detailed questions from employers.

Critics are quick to jump on this because the groups aren't neutral, in that they look out for the workers more so than just playing fair. However, in these times of rampant corporate welfare and dominance over society, we need a buffer to fight businesses that take advantage of workers and the current situation is not working. Like Ms. Smith mentioned, it is a pilot program and if it doesn't work then we'll try something different. The key is that we have a goal to keep wages fair for every single worker in this state.

MSNBC Anchor Takes GOP Congressman Off His Tax Cut Talking Points

Congressman McCarthy had a lot of trouble holding the party line on tax cuts on MSNBC. Instead of the anchor just saying "uh huh" to the daily digest of RNC talking points, she questioned what he was saying and McCarthy couldn't manage to keep it on message. Aww, too bad Congressman!

Gillibrand Not Such A Blue Dog After All

I remember shortly after Kristen Gillibrand beat out John Sweeney and entered Congress, she also joined the conservatively-identified Blue Dog Democratic Caucus. It could have been a sign of her political leanings, or just the make-up of her district dictating that she lean more to the center. Now that she is being sworn in as the Junior Senator of New York today, critics on the left have labeled her as too far to the right, particularly on gun rights and immigration. Though that does not give us the full picture.

Here is some more:

The National Taxpayers Union rates members of Congress on “all votes that could significantly affect the amounts of federal taxes, spending, debt, or regulatory impact” — 427 House votes in 2007. In that session of Congress, the only one that Gillibrand served in for which scores have been calculated, Gillibrand voted with the taxpayers 7 percent of the time. That’s right, 7 percent. That makes her just as fiscally conservative as Rep. Barney Frank, Rep. Maxine Waters, and Rep. Henry Waxman. (Though, to be sure, it makes her just slightly more fiscally conservative than Rep. Rahm Emanuel, whom the newspapers have told us is a centrist.)

The ratings from Citizens Against Government Waste, on spending, earmark, and porkbarrel bills, tell the same story: Rep. Gillibrand voted against wasteful spending 8 percent of the time.

And similarly at the Club for Growth ratings: Gillibrand got a rating of 12. On the Club’s ratings, she never once voted in the interests of taxpayers, but she did vote for the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement. She also voted against reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine. Combined with her 90 percent rating from the ACLU and her A rating from the NRA, maybe she is indeed a free-trader and a civil libertarian.

The "interests of taxpayers" is a relative term, since there are many more taxpayers than there are members of the NTU and the CfG. Yet the ratings are the ratings and do show that there is more to Senator Gillibrand than just immigration and gun rights. Those are important issues, and we can definitely push her to make smart decisions during this interim but I have a feeling she'll be voting for the interests of the majority of the state more often than not.

Of course if she doesn't, we all have the right to primary her out of office next year...and she knows that very well.

Barack Obama Reaches Out To The Islamic Community

In a way that George Bush never could, Barack Obama set out to reach out to Islamic world yesterday. It was noticeable to everyone that there was a purpose in giving his first interview to Al Arabiya. There has been an incredible amount of tension between the "West" and the "Middle East" from the last eight years of Bush's foreign policy, but now it is time to start to heal the divide.

From McClatchy:

Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

Q The largest one.

THE PRESIDENT: The largest one, Indonesia. And so what I want to communicate is the fact that in all my travels throughout the Muslim world, what I've come to understand is that regardless of your faith -- and America is a country of Muslims, Jews, Christians, non-believers -- regardless of your faith, people all have certain common hopes and common dreams.

And my job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives. My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task.

It is an enormous task Mr. President and not one that is easily achieved. The rhetoric so far is encouraging, that that can be turned from hope and promise to sound policy and relief for the people's who have been oppressed by their own leaders and the world geopolitical dynamic. Of course, in the next paragraph he stated exactly that it is his actions that will be judged and not anything else.

Blackwater USA Expands Their Operations In The U.S.A.

If you thought the mercenary company's behavior was bad in Iraq, just imagine the type of "security" they'd provide here at home:

The Sad Story Of The Second Avenue Subway

I caught a link to SecondAvenueSaga's latest post on, you guessed it, the ill-fated subway line that the MTA continues to attempt and fail at building. The speed of construction is terribly slow and the funding for the project is tenuous at best, possibly running out by the time we reach year's end. They mentioned a Crain's article talking about the suffering businesses on 2nd Ave due to the construction, but the misery we all will have from not having a better MTA system is just too much to handle.

From SecondAvenueSagas:

In an article in Crain’s that explores how business along Second Ave. is suffering due to the ongoing construction, Kira Bindrim hints at some fiscal troubles ahead for the seemingly cursed subway line. She writes:

The city is preparing to break ground on the stretch from East 68th to East 73rd streets. Construction is currently moving in three-month intervals on alternate sides of the avenue, and Phase I is slated to be finished in 2015. But three months has become six months in some locations, and work between East 83rd and East 86th streets could be stalled by lawsuits over displaced residents. The MTA has funding for contracts through year-end, but additional money must come from its next capital plan. Prospects for that budget are grim.

Indeed, economic crises have derailed the line’s building twice, in 1929 and in the 1970s. The completion date for the $3.8 billion Phase I has been postponed two years. “I’m afraid they’re going to run out of cash,” Mr. Pecora says. “We might be faced with just a hole in the road.”

In reality, based on what we’ve learned in the past, this dire report isn’t quite true. With the Feds kicking in so much money for this project, Phase I will, at some point, become a reality. Considering that a tunnel running north of 96th St. already exists, there’s a good chance that Phase II — the extension north to 125th St. — will see the light of the day sometime over the next fifteen years.

Fifteen years is a long time, a decade and a half on top of nearly eighty years of promises for this T line. It is nice that the author has some hope, but frankly I do not see it. If there was anytime to fully fund the line and get it done in a respectable ten years (Shanghai built a full system in that time), it would be now. With President Obama in office and a Democratic Congress behind him, all the Senate has mustered is $9.5 billion for mass transit...across the country. Unless that is all going underneath 2nd Ave, I doubt we'll see much progress in fifteen years. A safer bet is hoping for completion in fifty.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Senate Gives Even Less Than The House For Mass Transit

In a shameful display, the Senate is even more disappointing for mass transit funding than the House. Out of all the billions being doled out for economic recovery, too many are going for tax cuts and woeful amounts for the solutions to transportation in this new century. When the Democratic leaders talk about hundreds of billions in aid, the only number for trains, subways and the like is $9.5 billion.

From TPM:

The Senate Appropriations Committee's draft stimulus includes just $9.5 billion for mass transit projects -- "very frustrating," in the words of Adam Terando, who's done great work on this issue.

Aside from the fact that mass transit is among the biggest proven job creators under consideration, expanding high-speed rail and Amtrak is undeniably better for the environment than spending highway money without strict limits on new road construction. As Matt Yglesias notes, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is taking the lead on mass transit in the House ... so who will step up in the Senate? The appropriations panel is marking up its stimulus tomorrow.

Here's a list of senators on the committee, in case anyone wants to place a friendly constituent call.

Seriously, where is Joe Biden in all of this? Dick Durbin should be spearheading this, not shortchanging the mechanisms to make Chicago move smoother. The same goes for top Dem Chuck Schumer, with our own NYC needing billions just to keep the MTA running as is. Tax cuts can only be economic stimulants for so long, but creating jobs to build and maintain the infrastructure of tomorrow is a solid investment for years to come.

U.N. Investigator: We Must Prosecute Bush And Cheney

Just adding a little more pressure so that ex-President Bush and ex-V.P. Cheney be brought to justice for their (alleged) war crimes:

Paterson Needs To Get Behind Feingold's 28th Amendment

David Paterson is feeling quite a bit of heat from his bungled Senate appointment across the board, save for Schumer and his new Senator Gillibrand. Whether or not Gillibrand was the right choice or not, Paterson must agree that the whole appointment process did not go so well and that his popularity suffered for it and more importantly his chances of getting a primary appointment next year have increased. If he wants a little saving grace, the Governor might want to get behind Senator Russ Feingold's plan to introduce a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

From Senator Feingold:

Over the past several months, our country has witnessed controversies surrounding appointments to vacant Senate seats by governors. The vacancies in Illinois and New York have made for riveting political theater, but lost in the seemingly endless string of press conferences and surprise revelations is the basic fact that the citizens of these states have had no say in who should represent them in the Senate. The same is true of the recent selections in Delaware and Colorado. That is why I will introduce a constitutional amendment this week to end gubernatorial appointments to the U.S. Senate and require special elections to fill these vacancies, as is currently required for House vacancies. As Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee, I plan to hold a hearing on this amendment soon.

I do not make this proposal lightly. In fact, I have opposed dozens of constitutional amendments during my time in the Senate, particularly those that would have interfered with the Bill of Rights. The Constitution should not be treated like a rough draft. Constitutional amendments should be considered only when a statutory remedy to a problem is not available, and when the impact of the issue at hand on the structure of our government, the safety, welfare, or freedoms of our citizens, or the survival of our democratic republic is so significant that an amendment is warranted. This is such a case.
The entire post is worth a read and makes for a worthy case to end the system of Senate appointments once and for all. The seventeenth amendment made direct elections of Senators possible and the 28th shall finish the job. While this is Senator Feingold's initiative, that should not stop all of the prinicipal actors of the last few months (Gov. Paterson, Sen. Gillibrand, Gov. Ritter, Sen. Bennet, whoever replaces Blagojevich and Sen. Burris) from taking bold positions and standing with Russ on this. Not only will it have to pass the Congress, but three-quarters of the State Legislatures as well. Paterson should redeem himself for the circus he helped create by doing away with the gubernatorial selection of Senators.

How Hard Is It To Write "Barack Obama"?

Sometimes it is hard to learn new names. I know for myself that I generally have to hear someone's name and connect it to their face four to eight times on average (sometimes just once though) before it is set in my memory. However, in the last four years I've heard Barack Obama's name thousands upon thousands of times. Needless to say, I got it down pat when I was at the DNC in Boston back when Kerry was the nominee. So I find it hard to imagine how so many members of Congress are still not able to spell our President's name.

From RawStory:

"Members who favored 'Barak' included Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), in a photo caption from Tuesday’s inauguration; Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), in a press release on Obama’s swearing-in; Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), in a photo caption from the inauguration (which has since been fixed); Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), in a Jan. 9 press release urging Obama to work with Republicans on tax cuts; and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), in a November 2008 statement congratulating Obama on his election victory," Roll Call reports.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) were all busted employing the name "Barrack."
Now I know, this isn't the worst problem in the world. We have to confront an economy in shambles, a broken health care system and we're wasting money to fix all of that on wars. Yet, you would think that the people on the job to face those complex tasks could at least spell the President's name.

George Will: Increased Sales At McDonalds Is Good For America

Yet another reason why the failed ideology of conservatism and its proprietors are having their arses handed to them at the ballot box:

NYC To Get Huge Boost From Obama's Stimulus

If Barack Obama's plan to reinvigorate the economy goes through, New York City is going to get the most assistance we've seen in a long time. Bush, through his people at Homeland Security sent valuable anti-terror dollars to the middle of Kansas while short-changing NYC. That was the attitude of the federal government towards us before last Tuesday. Now it is a whole different story.

From The NY Daily News:

According to Sen. Chuck Schumer, the funds - part of the $10 billion to $15 billion in federal stimulus money the state is expected to receive - should help the city offset its budget deficit and aid shortfalls in education funding.

Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he fought to include in the stimulus package a provision to send budget aid directly to cities - to ensure New York City gets its fair share.

"This is a lifeline. This is the biggest shot in the arm the federal government has given New York City in a long time," he said.

The package includes about $1.8 billion in budget aid for New York and $1.6 billion for education, Schumer said.

The $3.4 billion may not solve all our woes, but it is certainly a healthy amount of aid that we desperately need. Now if Bloomberg had the guts to take back the $1.3 billion in goodies given to the Yankees and Mets, that would be another great step forward, but I doubt that will ever happen on Mayor Mike's watch.

Peter King And Pay To Play Politics Does Not Equal A Senator

Congressman Peter King, one of three Republicans left in New York's Congressional delegation has been a big talker lately. While Paterson jumbled the appointment process of Caroline Kennedy Andrew Cuomo Kristen Gillibrand, King was in the press talking himself up and his Democratic adversaries down. He's thinking of running for the Senate when the special election is held next year, but he has a lot of hurdles to jump through first, especially those he's created himself.

From The NY Daily News:

U.S. Rep. Pete King funneled $3 million in taxpayer money to a campaign donor for custom manhole covers that Con Ed said could be dangerous, a Daily News probe found.

The Long Island Republican sponsored federal dollars to pay for about 5,000 locking manhole covers designed to thwart terrorists. They would cover only about 2% of Con Ed's manholes in the city.

Con Ed said no but that didn't have to stop Manhole Barrier Security Systems (of Long Island of course) from getting their contract. Now how would you want to get around Con Ed's refusal? Hmmm...

The company CEO, his wife, some relatives and lobbyists contributed $16,700 to King as he was trying to earmark funds for the firm, records show.

CEO Michael Manoussos first gave $4,000 to King beginning in August 2006. In March 2007, King requested money for the covers. That year, the effort failed.

Manhole Barrier tried again last year. This time, Manoussos got relatives and lobbyists to kick in as well, records show.

He and his wife, Dawn, each gave the maximum allowed, $4,600, on Feb. 7. Two company lobbyists donated on the same day, and two other Manoussos relatives gave another $1,500 shortly after.

So the company stirred the magic ingredients in the corrupt pot of one Peter King and lo and behold, the next month the Long Island Congressman had a $3 million dollar contract for them. That is how things work in Congress when the system is utterly broken. Of course Congressman King worded the request a little bit differently when he submitted for the money, but his buddies at Manhole Security got what they wanted. It really is amazing what a few thousand dollars can get you in the game of pay to play. I can't wait for King to answer the questions surround this as he opens his Senatorial bid.

With The End In Sight, Senator-Elect Franken Lets Loose

Norm Coleman has taken a job with someone other than the U.S. Senate, Al Franken is still certified by the Secretary of State and as the legal challenges dwindle, the soon-to-be Senator was finally ready to make some jokes.

Kristol's Last NY Times Op-Ed, One Last Delusion For The Gray Lady

Finally, after a little more than a year, William "The Bloody" Kristol's time is at an end in the pages of the Times. There was a rumor that he would be done soon, but seeing those italicized words at the end of his last rant were soothing to the eye. Of course, he had to go out with a bang, like any misguided conservative such as himself must.

From The NY Times:

All good things must come to an end. Jan. 20, 2009, marked the end of a conservative era.

Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, conservatives of various sorts, and conservatisms of various stripes, have generally been in the ascendancy. And a good thing, too! Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family. Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world. Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of.

They also have some regrets. They’ll have time to ponder those as liberals now take their chance to govern.

Oy Bill, where do we start? The end of your conservative era came about precisely because the ideology was a massive failure once all three branches of government were in your hands. All those broad issues you mention were handled terribly by conservatives. Communism in Russia was crumbling on its own, jihadism is more prevalent today than it ever was, crime may be down in big cities, but welfare is our biggest problem ever. We give way too much of it to the rich and not enough to those that truly need it. Children are educated for tests nowadays, they aren't truly educated...and the family, well, those units are still dysfunctional, and not helped by the extra hours men and women have to work to try and make ends meet. That goes double for less money for daycare, health care and screwing families over with predatory lending. All of that is a failure of the greed that exists within your failed ideology. All of that should be your regrets, but really, all you care about is getting back into power. But Bill, it is exactly because conservatism is a failure that you lost power and until you realize that, your time to ponder will become infinite.