A surge of support for New Jersey’s Christie acting like a grownup

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s approval rating has leaped 19 percentage points since superstorm Sandy slammed the state, as voters by a wide margin applaud his response to the crisis…

The Republican governor, who will face re-election in 2013 and is considered a contender for the U.S. presidency in 2016, has a 67 percent favorability rating among registered voters in the state, up from 48 percent in October.

The boost is notable because Christie’s ratings have stayed steady between 44 and 50 percent for his nearly three years in office, according to David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll…

Christie, a Republican star, angered some within his party by offering strong praise for Democratic President Barack Obama’s storm response in the days after Sandy and just before Election Day. Critics say Christie’s praise may have helped Obama’s re-election…

A Quinnipiac University poll on Tuesday found almost nine in 10 New Yorkers gave Christie top ratings for his performance.

Among New Jerseyans, 81 percent said Christie and Obama showed “needed cooperation and bipartisanship,” while 12 percent said Christie went too far, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found.

I sincerely hope the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican keeps up the current sophomoronic level of finger-pointing. It’s important that the Republicans who survived Tea Party self-immolation actually work to achieve bi-partisan resolution of economic issues. In many cases only doing so by taking advantage of districts gerrymandered by Republicans in the last Congress.

Still, it’s with a mixture of glee and a sense of historic justice that we can watch the religious nutballs and 19th Century purists march forward on their task of marginalizing the Republican Party that welcomed them in the door so many times in the name of opportunism.

Rick Perry tells same lies as rest of Republicans, Kool Aid Party

How’s your cousin doin’ since I gave him that job as tax collector?
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has leapfrogged to the top tier of Republican presidential candidates largely on the strength of one compelling fact: During more than a decade as governor, his state created more than a million jobs, while the nation as a whole lost 1.4 million jobs.

Perry says the “Texas miracle” rests on conservative pillars that he would bring to the White House: minimal regulation and government, low taxes and a determination to limit the reach of Uncle Sam.

What he does not say is that much of that job growth has come because of government, not in spite of it.

With a young and fast-growing population, a large and expanding military presence and an influx of federal stimulus money, the number of government jobs in Texas has grown at more than double the rate of private-sector employment during Perry’s tenure.

The disparity has grown even sharper since the national recession hit. Between December 2007 and last June, private-sector employment in Texas has declined by .6 percent, while public-sector jobs increased by 6.4 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, government employees account for about one-sixth of the workers in Texas…

Analysts call the growth in government employment in Texas a natural consequence of the state’s surging population, which has grown by more than 20 percent in the past decade to 25.1 million. That increase has caused local governments and school systems to hire more teachers, budget analysts, compliance officers and cops.

Time to repeat the old saw: Republicans would have invented hypocrisy if Christians hadn’t beaten them to it. Rick Perry is little different from Ron Paul in believing the same old piddle-down economics that didn’t help working people under Herbert Hoover, Ronald Reagan or either of the Bush liars. He lies about the same programs as Michelle Bachmann – who criticizes stimulus programs and agricultural subsidies while standing at the head of the line to get money, sometimes for her constituents, sometimes just for herself and her family.

Nope. Same old song. Even the accent is the same as George the Little.

U.S. stocks plunge in biggest retreat since recession bottom

A global rout in equities drove the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to its worst slump since February 2009, while two-year Treasury yields plunged to a record low amid concern the economy is weakening…The S&P 500 tumbled 4.8 percent to 1,200.07 at 4 p.m. in New York, a 12 percent drop from its April 29 peak and weakest level since November 2010…

Concern the global economy may relapse into a recession has driven investors out of stocks and into the relative safety of Treasuries, the Swiss franc and yen and is spurring speculation the Federal Reserve will start another stimulus program. Japan’s moves to sell the yen, which this week neared a post-World War II record, and expand an asset-purchase fund follows efforts by the Swiss central bank to curb the franc’s gains. The European Central Bank resumed bond purchases and offered banks more cash to stem the spread of the debt crisis.

The mood right now is gloomy,” Mike Ryan, the New York- based chief investment strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas, said in a telephone interview. His firm oversees $774 billion. “The burden of proof is for better data that show the economy is not falling into recession. Tomorrow’s payroll report is crucial. If we see another disappointment, the stock market will have significant downside from here…”

Gap Inc., the largest U.S. apparel chain, sank 12 percent after sales missed analysts’ estimates. DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-television provider, tumbled 5.7 percent after adding fewer U.S. customers than analysts estimated.

“It’s not a flash crash,” Michael Shaoul, chairman of Marketfield Asset Management in New York, said in a telephone interview. His firm oversees $1 billion. “It’s much more orderly and I don’t see any weird prints like we saw that day in individual issues. I still couldn’t tell where this market will bottom. I also don’t think this is 2008 when you saw a genuine failure of global finance to be able to fund asset process. You don’t see money markets going crazy. It’s a plain and simple liquidation of equities and commodities.”

There is little reason for confidence in the US economy – and even less in the European economy taken as a whole. RTFA for details – if you dare.

There is no reason to expect action on the part of Congress – especially the worms who think markets, commerce and finance are something that hasn’t changed since the end of the Civi War. And they would have been on the losing side there, as well.

Halfway measures from the Obama Administration never developed into infrastructure revival which would have produced jobs and employment for some of the “unemployables” stuck into double-digit unemployment. The Tea Party and Republican flunkies on the Right wouldn’t act, today, if called upon to enact the measures jointly agreed upon as bipartisan measures at the end of the Bush administration. I doubt if anyone expects them to join with Obama and the progressive Democrats who were elected while Blue Dogs were made redundant.

Chickens are coming home to roost, folks. If you voted for teabaggers, you’re witnessing the results of that foolishness. If you voted to reelect slugs like Boehner and McConnell, the Coburns and Ryans of Congress – prepare to start shoveling chickenshit, right now. It will be the only job you can get.

ADDENDUM: A few folks have asked “what should I buy on the way down?” I don’t give stock advice at my personal blog. Yeah, with just a little cash at hand, I bought a little bit today – and anyone who knows me really well knows there’s just one more equity I’m waiting to get low enough to grab a little more.

Do I think we’re heading into another recession? Damned if I know. I’ll be happy when my social security check arrives this month. 🙂

Patriot Act extension halted – Civil Libertarians both sides of the House accomplish something useful

House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party’s tea-party bloc.

The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures.

But it fell short of the required two-thirds after 26 Republicans bucked their leadership, eight of them freshman lawmakers elected in November’s midterm elections. With most Democrats opposing the extension, the final tally was 277 members in favor of extension, and 148 opposed.

The Republicans who control the House made plans to bring the measure back for a quick vote later this month under normal rules, requiring only a simple majority for passage. They blamed House Democrats for the bill’s downfall, noting that they provided the lion’s share of votes against a bill that President Obama supports…

They do hate to admit there are a few Republicans who support civil rights.

The Patriot Act measure would have extended through the end of the year three provisions that are set to expire Feb. 28. One authorizes the FBI to use roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; the second allows the government to access “any tangible items,” such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and the third allows for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group…

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), who has presented an occasionally lonely opposition to the Patriot Act, said that Tuesday’s vote demonstrated that he now had company from more than two dozen Republicans who support the Bill of Rights. “The Patriot Act represents the undermining of civil liberties,” Kucinich said after the vote.

The usual range of CYA rationales have been offered up by embarrassed Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats.

Every time this crap reactionary legislation comes around the number of Congressional politicians willing to develop a little backbone, stand up and oppose police-state surveillance, gets larger and more vocal. They justify keeping their seats warm.

Palin’s “blood libel” charge fires up her bigot base

Prominent Republican Sarah Palin defended her fiery rhetoric on Wednesday but ignited a fresh controversy by accusing critics of “blood libel” in linking her to a deadly Arizona shooting spree.

A defiant Palin, leaping into a roaring debate on the consequences of overheated political rhetoric, said her critics had been irresponsible in rushing to blame Saturday’s gun rampage on vitriolic campaign speech.

“Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn,” Palin, a potential 2012 White House contender, said in a video posted to her Facebook page.

Palin’s reference to “blood libel,” a false, centuries-old allegation that Jews were killing children to use their blood in religious rituals, launched a new round of criticism of Palin’s rhetoric.

“We wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.

The accusation of “blood libel” has been employed for centuries to justify the killing or expulsion of Jews. The phrase had been used by other conservative commentators, including a Wall Street Journal column, since the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who is Jewish.

“Perhaps Palin honestly does not know what a blood libel is, or does not know of their horrific history — that is perhaps the most charitable explanation we can arrive at,” said David Harris, president of the National Jewish Democratic Council…

“Palin’s invocation of a ‘blood libel’ charge against her perceived enemies is hardly a step in the right direction,” Harris said.

This blivet has been criticized not only by the Left, but moderate and conservative political voices for her butt-kissing of gun-nuts and redneck posses ever since she ventured into the not-so-civilized world of politics. She not only gives Alaska, the Republican Party and fiscal conservatives a bad name, her upbringing in the bosom of truly nutball fundamentalist religious sects makes just another bigoted remark like this a natural for her.

When do we get to see a self-produced video of her speaking in tongues the revealed word of Yaweh? While clutching a copy of the Protocols of Zion?

A Tea Party-style conspiracy melts down into washers and dryers

The planned overthrow of the United States government ended rather prosaically this fall, with a giant pile of mashed-up trucks in a muddy scrap yard a mile or so off the Interstate.

The crew at Alter Metal Recycling has been piling up the old trucks since the summer and sending them to Alabama, for melting down and reincarnation as everything from cars to washers and dryers.

The process is pretty standard, said Troy Brooks, the yard supervisor. But these trucks were a little different…

In certain circles in the mid-’90s, among those inclined to keep an eye out for black helicopters, they were more than just rumors. To them, the presence of 700 military-looking trucks bearing Soviet-bloc markings in a weed-strewn lot north of Gulfport was clear proof of a United Nations-brokered plan to take over the United States.

The specific outlines of such a plot were rather vague. But conspiracy-cult radio shows and right-wing fringe newsletters delivered somber reports about the vehicles, speaking of armored tanks and secret roads and the role of the vehicles in the establishment of a New World Order…

The apparent threat to national security was broadcast so far and wide that one night in 1994 Timothy J. McVeigh himself broke into the yard to examine the vehicles firsthand. He went away disappointed.

But the real tale behind the trucks, as is often the case, turns out to be more interesting than the conspiracy.

RTFA. A cautionary tale of one after another business scheme falling apart. Little forethought, less expertise, get-rich-quick schemes spinning from Germany’s reunification and more.

In the end, the vehicles mostly sat unwanted in the lot beside Highway 49, next to the Friendly Pawn Shop and across the way from a discount liquor store. The conspiracy theories dwindled, as did the visits by customs officials.

The rusting accelerated after Hurricane Katrina, and for various reasons, including a civil court judgment, the expiration of a trade license and the fact that nobody was interested in rust-covered trucks, Mr. Chawafaty decided to scrap them.

Frank Koval – participant in portions of the schemes – learned about their impending demise by reading about it in the newspaper like anyone else.

He laughed about the episode – failed business schemes, absurd conspiracy theories, all ending up as so much scrap to be melted down and recast as something useful. One can only hope as much ever results from future meltdowns of the Republican Tea Parties.

Leading Republican “can’t wait for the blood bath”

Former Senator Alan Simpson is a Very Serious Person. He must be — after all, President Obama appointed him as co-chairman of a special commission on deficit reduction.

So here’s what the very serious Mr. Simpson said on Friday: “I can’t wait for the blood bath in April. … When debt limit time comes, they’re going to look around and say, ‘What in the hell do we do now? We’ve got guys who will not approve the debt limit extension unless we give ’em a piece of meat, real meat,’ ” meaning spending cuts. “And boy, the blood bath will be extraordinary,” he continued.

Think of Mr. Simpson’s blood lust as one more piece of evidence that our nation is in much worse shape, much closer to a political breakdown, than most people realize…

Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America’s role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson “can’t wait.” And he’s what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican.

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming…

Right now, in particular, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits — an action that will both cause immense hardship and drain purchasing power from an already sputtering economy. But there’s no point appealing to the better angels of their nature; America just doesn’t work that way anymore…

How does this end? Mr. Obama is still talking about bipartisan outreach, and maybe if he caves in sufficiently he can avoid a federal shutdown this spring. But any respite would be only temporary; again, the G.O.P. is just not interested in helping a Democrat govern.

My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country.

RTFA. Many more examples of a political party committed to power and greed above national interest.

Many of my friends and family who have become ex-Republicans – they tired of being called Republicans In Name Only by the quislings now in charge – wonder and hope for a centrist party in lieu of centrist tendencies in the Democratic Party. Partly because they still hate to ally themselves with politicians they disliked for so many decades.

Meanwhile, step back, folks and watch the Killer Klowns try their best to shove these United States back into a depression.

Tea Party goons stomp woman at Kentucky debate – UPDATED

While the Kentucky Senatorial debate on Monday night was markedly more cordial than usual, a fight that broke out before the event was anything but.

A female MoveOn.org activist was stomped on by a supporter of Kentucky GOP candidate Rand Paul after she attempted to approach him before his final debate with Democrat Jack Conway…

The 24-year-old woman with the liberal group, identified as Lauren Valle by local media, tripped and fell after someone ripped a blond wig off her head. She is then seen on video being wrestled to a curb by one man. After she is placed face down, another man stomps on her shoulder and head with his foot…

Police said Valle was trying to get a photo with the Tea Party favorite holding a sign that said “employee of the month award.” The satirical prize was from Republicorp, a fake business MoveOn created to symbolize what it says is a cozy relationship between corporate America and the GOP…

“She was subsequently stopped and thrown to the ground by a group of individuals who were gathered there for the debate,” police information officer Sherelle Roberts said. “It was caught on video. You can see the woman being thrown to the ground, there was a gentleman who stepped on her head…”

The man who stomped on her has not yet been identified. Police said they are searching for him…

Paul’s campaign released a statement on the melee, calling it “incredibly unfortunate.”

Most “unfortunate” – is that it was recorded. Unlike back in the day – when civil rights activists were often beaten by racist gangs. Nowadays, every group seems to contain a few people with video cameras. Even the lowly cell phone often has video capability.

Some of those videographers are there to record attacks on citizens – to be shared with their bubbas. Some are there to record predictable assaults by police generally in place to maintain law and order on behalf of rightwing politicians.

Respectable “analysts” will fall over themselves, today, making it their duty to blather about the ordinary Americans who make up the Tea Party Movement. Balderdash. Yes, there also were average Americans who populated the White Citizens Council and the Klan, the John Birch Society and Minutemen. There are typical Americans who join militant anti-abortion crusades that deliver murder to the medical community, as well.

They willingly joined the generalized fear, cowardice and anger that characterizes the American right wing. Where’s the surprise at violent attacks? Just another debate tactic for teabaggers.

UPDATE: Thanks to the comment from “bubby” identifying the attackers – including an official of the Rand Paul campaign.

Teabaggers slouching toward Washington

Holy Roddy McDowall. Christine O’Donnell doesn’t understand why monkeys can’t turn into people right before her eyes.

Bill Maher continued his video torment of O’Donnell by releasing another old clip of her on his HBO show on Friday night, this time showing one in which she argued that “Evolution is a myth.”

Maher shot back, “Have you ever looked at a monkey?” To which O’Donnell rebutted, “Why aren’t monkeys still evolving into humans?”

The comedian has a soft spot for the sweet-faced Republican Senate candidate from Delaware, but as he told me on Friday, it’s “powerful stupid to think primate evolution could happen fast enough to observe it. That’s bacteria…

In the Republican primary, O’Donnell beat Congressman Mike Castle, who had the temerity to support stem-cell research and acknowledge global warming. O’Donnell’s numbers are dropping, while Castle is still beating the Democratic candidate, Chris Coons, by almost 20 points in a theoretical matchup.

In 2007, O’Donnell frantically warned Bill O’Reilly, “American scientific companies are crossbreeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains…”

Dr. Irving Weissman, director of Stanford’s Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, did the first experiments injecting human brain-forming stem cells into the brains of immune-deficient mice 10 years ago…

Dr. Weissman is sensitive to ethical questions and has tried to ensure that “the nightmare scenario” won’t happen: putting embryonic stem cells into mice at the earliest stages, which could give rise to every tissue in the body including human sperm and eggs, which could lead to two mice mating and the early formation of human fetuses in the body of a mouse.

He is working toward breakthroughs on multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, spinal cord injuries, strokes, breast cancer and a host of other diseases, and is worried by the retrogressive attitude about science and medicine among the new crop of Tea Partiers…

Dr. Weissman said, “The question they should be asked is, if it were their child or wife or selves or parents and there was this whole list of diseases treated by stem cells, would they deny these therapies?”

RTFA. Lots of details about individual Congressional races, individuals so concerned with ideology they refuse to face their world-class ignorance. Though, as usual, we have to face the concern that our whole electorate is focused wholly on the very slowly-growing economic rebound. Even that reflects our nation’s collective ignorance of history, previous battles through recession and rightwingers who could care less.