Saturday, August 10, 2002

Meanwhile, the state of Missouri, with all of its (and other states)supposed fiscal problems has received a AAA bond rating from Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor. Wouldn't everyone like to have those fiscal problems? New Jersey and Tennessee (cited by Krugman) don't do that well.

One of the ballot issues that people here in Missouri voted on was Proposition B, a set of taxes, worth close to $500 million for highway improvement. The had the requisite TV ad campaign while the anti-prop B people ran nothing. And when I say nothing, that means nothing, at least in the St. Louis market. The vote was 75%-25% against B, with one county (population 11,000) in favor of it.

The current spin with regards to this proposition losing so badly is that it represents a tide of angry voters in this presidential swing state. That may be, but it isn't clear as to whom that anger should be directed. Do the voters want to 'throw the bums out' as it were? About 90% of Congressional districts are considered to be 'safe'. This leaves the other 10%, which is still much greater than the narrow margin the GOP currently enjoys. But the question is - do the voters blame the current GOP Congress and make a Democratic majority? Or will right-wing hate radio blame the Democrats (specifically the Clinton schlong) and give the permanently-angry dittomonkeys control of the vote? It's not an easy question, given the increasingly right-wing mainstream media and the lack of a Mighty Wurlitzer stoking the anger of voters that don't lean rightward. It's not an easy question to answer, given that the proposition that went down so hard was one normally perceived to be a liberal issue.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering if this is a case of overanalysis. Missouri has some odd rules regarding tax increases because of the Hancock Amendment, (Missouri Constitution, Article X, Sections 16-24) which caps state revenue as a percentage of personal income. However, taxes that are passed as a result of a direct vote are not subject to the caps. (I'll add here that Mel Hancock tried a bit of chicanery to get another amendment passed making even these increases subject to the caps, which would in effect say that the people could never have any control over taxation. That didn't work.) Tax increases are written by the legislature and referred to the voters as a ballot proposition. Since Prop B was that unpalatable to the voters, I wonder how much of that was a result of anti-B forces in the legislature jiggering the language (like raising most of the revenue from a sales tax increase) to guarantee its failure. That is, is the Prop B failure really a bellwether for the coming election, or is this due to peculiarities in our own state?

Uh, why are these paid rioters from the 2000 Miami-Dade recount not in jail?

Friday, August 09, 2002

Richard Nixon resigned 28 years ago today.

I think it's going to be a great day.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Talking Points Memo is plugging Josh Marshall's new article in Washington Monthly about the myth of competence in the Shrubbery. Going through the piece, the critique of the performance of Biggus Dickus Cheney is spot-on. Also, the general theme is of the Shrubbery playing a confidence game, where they puff out their chest, proclaim strength, and get others to follow. This confidence game has now collapsed under the weight of the deceptions it was predicated on.

I would, however take issue with a minor point. Jim Jeffords didn't bolt the GOP because of the confidence games of the Shrubbery; he left more as a result of the House GOP's chucking the Senate version of the Big Tax Cut in the trash. And until someone can provide evidence that the White House put pressure on the House GOP to make sure that the Senate provisions didn't make it out of conference, that's as close to the truth as to why Jeffords went independent. But that is a minor point.

A news flash - wacky right wingers like Chris Ruddy just adore Jim Traficant.

A news flash - drugs are old.

The top two stories at Buzzflash deal with the anthrax investigation, or lack thereof. VOANews.com reports that one of the 'people of interest' in the case had been attending medical school in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) at the time of a human anthrax outbreak that killed about 200 and sickened 10,000. It was thought to have been deliberately spread by the white supremacist army that controlled Rhodesia at the time. Another detail that was reported was that there is a suburb of Harare known as Greendale, and the fake school on the Daschle anthrax letter was "Greendale School".

In addition, the Baltimore Sun reports that this same person's degree in molecular biology from Rhodes University in South Africa doesn't actually exist. Nor did he serve with the 7th Special Forces Group of the US Army, because he washed out of training at Fort Bragg.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Cute html tricks: When The Daily Howler is loading up, they got the title bar at the top to say...

Daily Howler - Incomparably Loading

This is part of why I read the Daily Howler all the time while I ignore the humorless drips at Spinsanity.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Election's over here in MO. Pretty much everyone and everything I voted for lost. (How to spin, how to spin...) I know! I'm an iconoclast! Or something.

Interesting sidelight: The GOP in MO nominated an ex-con, one Al Hanson, for state auditor. He had served 9 months at the joint in Minnesota in the '70's for fraud and larceny. And now he's a financial consultant.

The GOP, quite reflexively, is blaming the Democrats. (I bet they even trained a bird for that purpose.) Said the Dems crossed over to nominate the ex-felon. Problems with that thesis: no one cares about state auditor if US Senator is on the same ballot. (There were about 100,000 fewer votes in the auditor nomination than in the Senate nomination, where one person got 90% of the vote.) And no Democrat in St. Louis at least is going to cross over when one of the three most important offices in the city needs filling and your party is the only one with candidates. So once again, Reality 1 - GOP 0.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002


The GOP hates government spending, except when they don't. They especially don't hate it when it helps their own districts. An AP report shows that appropriations of federal spending have gone disproportionately to GOP districts. On average in 2001, GOP districts got $5.84 billion while Democratic districts got $5.23 billion.

Now let's look at the numbers, a GOP whopper, and a media whore moment. The numbers in 1994 were $3.86 billion for GOP districts and $3.89 billion for Democratic districts. On average, the deviation from the mean in 1994 was less than 0.5% in favor of the Democrats. That's hardly statisically significant. But by 2001, the deviation from the mean was over 5% in favor of the GOP. That, dare I say, is a lot of difference. Which brings us to the first whopper: "GOP leaders say the spending shift mostly was a byproduct of their efforts to change the direction of government and to ensure GOP areas received fairer treatment after four decades of being in the minority." Well it sure looks like they got fair treatment before. The numbers don't lie; spending by party affiliation was essentially equal before, while spending magically worked out in the GOP's favor without using any pork. The reality indicates that the GOP was trying to reward themselves and punish their enemies.

Another statement isn't a GOP whopper; it's more of an idiotic statement by the writer of the AP piece, David Pace.

The House, of course, is just one player in the complicated process that results in parceling out federal spending. The Senate and the administration also have a say in how federal dollars are spent.

During the six years after the GOP takeover, for example, two districts in then-President Clinton's home state of Arkansas had the biggest increases in federal spending among the 377 districts with constant boundaries.

Now anyone who's read the constitution knows that it's Congress, and not any administration, that controls appropriations. The second graf is a silly non sequitur; it doesn't say which districts got the increases or which party represented those districts. Asa Hutchinson and Jay Dickey were congressmen during the time in question and Tim Hutchinson was a Senator. That's half of the Arkansas delegation. Think they might have had something to do with that? Looks like it's another attempt to be 'fair' to the GOP by essentially saying, "It's Clinton's fault, too." As is usually the case when the press corps tries to pin blame on Debbil Clinton, reality is against them.

Monday, August 05, 2002


This week's column has nothing really knew - just how Shrub's trifecta lie has been exposed. The good thing about it now is that it has a lot more readers on the Times Op-Ed page than in the New Republic. And Andy starts to whine.

Interesting sidelight in the column: Krugman got some angry correspondence accusing him of inventing the trifecta remark. Seems as the drooling slobs that are Bush voters couldn't believe that such a decent man [snicker] said something so heinous. Now that it's proved that Bush made the trifecta crack over and over, the same drooling nitwits have gone back to complaining about Clinton's schlong.

Chick Hearn, 1916-2002

Thing I didn't know before this year: Hearn was turned down for the Cardinals' second announcer to Harry Caray in the '50's in favor of Jack Buck.

Funny morning on Howard Stern. As I was getting out of the car this morning, Howard was doing a phone interview with Alec Baldwin. Now Alec is a bit peeved at the columnist at PageSix becuase of an item that was really spun against him. When asked why the columnist would do such a thing, Alec said that the columnist Richard Johnson had hit on him one time. Said he had that look in his eye. So then Howard of course asked if any other men had hit on Alec. And Alec said, "Matt Drudge."

It was backstage one time when both of them were doing Gloria Allred's show. Alec said Drudge was looking at him as if Drudge had a knife in one hand and a fork in the other. It sounded kind of creepy, but at the same time it was freakin' hilarious.

Coo coo ca choo. That Drudge is just a little slut, ain't he? First David Brock, then Alec Baldwin. Or maybe it was the other way around.

By now it's pretty old news that Cruella Harris had to resign her position as Florida Secretary of State. Seems as she was confused by the Florida election law that she selectively enforced that state officeholders were to resign ther posts when they declared candidacy for another office like US representative. Even better, the resignation was retroactive to July 15.

Now it's well-known that Harris was never much for the election-law part of her job, preferring instead the taxpayer-funded junkets for 'trade purposes' or whatever. So how many of these trips did she take on the taxpayer's dime did she take post 7-15 and will she have to reimburse the state for these trips taken under false pretenses?

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