Bankster-Coddling Party Suffers “Electoral Meltown”

Everyone knew that Fianna Fáil was going to lose Friday’s election in Ireland. But the results (still coming in because the Irish hand count their paper ballots and have an instant runoff voting system) are pretty stunning. Here’s how Fianna Fáil did in Laois-Offaly (both Mr. EW’s home district and that of outgoing Taoiseach Brian Cowen) in 2007 (these graphics are from the Irish Times):

And here’s how they did Friday:

And Laois-Offaly is going to be one of Fianna Fáil’s stronger districts (Cowen’s brother, Barry, will likely take one of the five seats). In Dublin, FF went from holding 13 seats in parliament to just one, that of the former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. And the Green Party, which had been in coalition with FF, will lose all 6 of the seats it held.

Now, it’s not clear that Fine Gael–which will rule with Labor–will be all that much better than FF with regards to coddling banksters. Rising Taoiseach Enda Kenny has promised to renegotiate the bailout, but unless and until he threatens to default, Ireland will still be taking money from retirees to pay off the banksters.

But what will be interesting is the presence of more further left members of Parliament. And Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin’s President, will have a seat in the Republic’s parliament for the first time. He’s been getting a lot of press for his populist criticism of the bailout:

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams says a good government requires a good opposition, vowing his party would oppose the “swingeing, anti-citizen, economically-illiterate measures” being proposed by the establishment parties.

So it’s not clear whether this “electoral meltdown” will have an effect on the banks. But it sure is interesting to see how political accountability works in a system with more than two parties.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules For Rahm Emanuel Ballot Inclusion

Monday’s decision by the Illinois Court of Appeals to strike Rahm Emanuel from the ballot for the Chicago Mayoral election set for February 22 caused quite an alarm. The Court of Appeals decision appeared on its face to be quite well reasoned and well taken in light of the wording of the statute at issue. Mr. Emanuel immediately (by Monday night) filed an emergency Motion for Stay and Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court has just issued its opinion on the Emanuel emergency appeal and, in a decision authored by Justice Thomas, has reversed the Court of Appeals and fully reinstated Rahm’s eligibility for the ballot and office of Mayor of Chicago:

Thus, from April 1867 through January 24 of this year, the principles governing the question before us were settled. Things changed, however, when the appellate court below issued its decision and announced that it was no longer bound by any of the law cited above, including this court’s decision in Smith, but was instead free to craft its own originalstandard for determining acandidate’sresidency. See No. 1–11–0033, slip op. at 6-8 (dismissing the foregoing authority in its entirety). Thus, our review of the appellate court’s decision in this case begins not where it should, with an assessment of whether the court accurately applied established Illinois law to the particular facts, but with an assessment of whether the appellate court was justified in tossing out 150 years of settled residency law in favor of its own preferred standard. We emphatically hold that it was not.

….

All of that said, and putting aside the appellate court’s conclusion that Smith is not binding in this case, the appellate court’s residency analysis remains fundamentally flawed. This is because, even under traditional principles of statutory analysis, the inevitable conclusion is that the residency analysis conducted by the hearing officer, the Board, and the circuit court was proper.

….

Second, this court has twice stated explicitly that related provisions of the Election Code and of the Illinois Municipal Code are to be considered in pari materia for purposes of statutory construction. See Cinkus v. Village of Stickney Municipal Officers Electoral Board, 228 Ill. 2d 200, 218 (2008); United Citizens of Chicago and Illinois v. Coalition to Let the People Decide in 1989, 125 Ill. 2d 332, 338-39 (1988).

….

So where does all of this leave us? It leaves us convinced that, when determining whether a candidate for public office has “resided in” the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment, the principles that govern are identical to those embodied in Smith and consistently applied in the context of determining whether a voter has “resided in” this state and in the election district 30 days next preceding any election. Thus, in assessing whether the candidate has established residency, the two required elements are: (1) physical presence, and (2) an intent to remain in that place as a permanent home. Once residency is established, the test is no longer physical presence but rather abandonment, the presumption is that residency continues, and the burden of proof is on the contesting party to show that residency has been abandoned. Both the establishment and abandonment of a residence is largely a question of intent, and while intent is shown primarily from a candidate’s acts, a candidate is absolutely competent to testify as to his intention, though such testimony is not necessarily conclusive.

….

Given the record before us, it is simply not possible to find clearly erroneous the Board’s determination that the objectors failed to prove that the candidate had abandoned his Chicago residence. We therefore reverse the decision of the appellate court and affirm the decision of the circuit court, which confirmed the Board’s decision.

So there will be no mistake, let us be entirely clear. This court’s decision is based on the following and only on the following: (1) what it means to be a resident for election purposes was clearly established long ago, and Illinois law has been consistent on the matter since at least the 19th Century; (2) the novel standard adopted by the appellate court majority is without any foundation in Illinois law; (3) the Board’s factual findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (4) the Board’s decision was not clearly erroneous.

Appellate court judgment reversed; circuit court judgment affirmed.

Well, although I found the Court of Appeals decision persuasive, the Illinois Supreme Court certainly did not. And they ruled unanimously in Mr. Emanuel’s favor (although two, Justices Freeman and Burke, concurred on distinguished grounds). That will end this debate once and for all. Welcome Mayor Emanuel.

Rahm’s Ballot Eligibility Case Appeal and White House Interference

right[Updated Below]

The decision Monday by the Illinois Court of Appeals to disallow the candidacy for Mayor by Rahm Emanuel as well as his name on the official election ballot stunned many people, and left Emanuel, his political supporters and Wall Street and Hollywood financial bag men scrambling with the ballots set for printing today and the election on the near horizon on February 22. By late Monday night, the Emanuel campaign had already filed an Emergency Motion For Stay Pending Appeal and Expedite Consideration of Petition For Leave To Appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court. A copy of the filing is here.

Within less than eight hours of Emanuel’s late night filing, at the crack of dawn on ABC’s Good Morning America, Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama’s most senior and trusted advisor, was delivering a direct message on behalf of the White House commenting on the case and declaring they viewed Emanuel legally eligible:

I think that he believes that [Rahm is] eligible and I believe that he believes that Rahm will pursue his appeal in the courts.

I do not know about you, but I cannot think of any instance in which a White House and President, especially one so intimately related to one side of the issue, has so directly stepped into a state and local court proceeding at such a critical moment with its opinion on the ultimate legal determination.

Perhaps, under different circumstances, this would not be a notable event. However, when the President’s closest advisor weighs in with such a statement as to what the law should be, right as the sensitive matter is being presented on an emergency basis to a state supreme court, it is of highly questionable discretion and ethics. The impingement on the local situation is only exacerbated by the close ties Obama has to Emanuel, Chicago, the Daley political machine behind Emanuel (A Daley now serving as Obama’s Chief of Staff) and Illinois. It was an unnecessary and completely inappropriate meddling in a state and local judicial matter that the Obama White House had no business engaging in.

Jarrett’s imposition of the White House thumb of comment here is even more telling when juxtaposed with the consistent position she and Obama insisted on taking, and still maintain, with relation to the court process in the legal challenges to the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Obama, Valerie Jarrett and the White House have consistently refused to take a position on how the DADT constitutional litigation should be decided in public statements and appearances and, in fact, are STILL officially supporting the disgraceful policy in courts under the guise that law must be supported and courts left undisturbed to decide the matter unfettered. Apparently such ethical and moral restraint does not apply when it comes to their friend and political crony’s local election litigation.

Which brings us to the law Mr. Obama and Ms. Jarrett are so positive stands for the eligibility of Read more

“Austerity” Merriam-Webster’s Word of 2010

Merriam-Webster has made “austerity” it’s word of the year for 2010.

Topping the list is austerity, defined as “enforced or extreme economy.” Lookups for austerity peaked dramatically several times throughout the year, as people’s attention was drawn to global economic conditions and the debt crises in Europe, but lookups also remained strong throughout the year, reflecting widespread use of the word in many contexts. “Austerity clearly resonates with many people,” said Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, who monitors online dictionary searches. “We often hear it used in the context of government measures, but we also apply it to our own personal finances and what is sometimes called the new normal.”

I’m so cynical my first response was to wonder whether Pete Peterson had bought off the dictionary company like he did the Washington Post. But M-W says the list is based off of top online dictionary searches. Which is why some of the other words are perhaps more interesting:

4) socialism

5) bigot

7) shellacking

9) dissident

Remember, these reflect actual searches of the online dictionary. That suggests a significant proportion of the people still inclined to actually look things up in the dictionary chose (or needed) to refer to the dictionary to figure out what socialism actually is. And did Obama’s use of the term “shellacking” send journalists and Obama fans to the dictionary to find out just how badly Democrats got whupped at the mid-terms?

Use this thread to predict what words will make up next year’s list.

Mark Warner’s Chocolate Fountain Remorse

Once upon a time in 2006, a dirty fucking hippie blogger had an opportunity to ask aspiring presidential candidate Mark Warner a few questions. Mark Warner had just dedicated part of a speech to talking about how Iran was the biggest WMD threat. So with her questions, the dirty fucking hippie blogger asked Mark Warner how, if the NIE had said Iran was years away from having nukes whereas Pakistan and its al Qaeda favoring Generals and unstable government already had nukes, Iran could be the biggest WMD threat. Warner then listed three reasons why Iran was the biggest WMD threat: its support of Hezbollah and Hamas, its nutty president, and its aspirations for hegemony in the Middle East. “But none of those things are WMD,” the blogger said.

Matt Bai, who observed the entire exchange, would later blame the dirty fucking hippie’s questions (which, after all, proved correct on several counts and served mostly to highlight to Warner how blindly he had embraced a popular talking point) for single-handedly driving nice moderate Mark Warner from the presidential race and with him potentially the ability to succeed as a party.

The dirty fucking hippie blogger took from that exchange the following: 1) Mark Warner doesn’t have the analytic ability to understand what threatens this country 2) Matt Bai tends to spout stupid centrist ideology even when reality proves him wrong.

More than four years have passed since that exchange. In that time, Warner became a centrist Senator. As a Senator, he has been one of those who claimed no one knew the financial crisis was coming. And he was part of a group of centrist Senators that stripped the too-small stimulus bill in early 2009.

In other words, Warner continues to be unable to identify real threats to this country. It’s in that context–and specifically in the context of picking a time of almost 10% unemployment to cut the deficit–that Mark Warner chose to equate the “far left” of his own party with the TeaBaggers.

But the question will be will the super-left on my party – the MoveOn crowd in my party – and the Tea Party crowd on the other party, you know, they don’t compromise, so you know, I for one am…you know, there were too many times I bit my lip in the first year, or bit my tongue…I’m done…

[snip]

But I think an equal threat to our country’s national security is that we don’t get our balance sheet in order.

Now, Mark Warner and his friends that maintain the deficit as a bigger threat than a stagnant economy are precisely what we dirty fucking hippie bloggers point to as the problem with the last two years. Because these centrists put their own pet theories ahead of real analysis of what our country needed, the legislation they passed failed to do the job. It’s the economy, stupid, and the economy is still so shitty at least partly because deficit scolds like Mark Warner cut the already too-small stimulus package back when it could do some good.

Which is what Matt Bai fails to understand with his piece trying to refute the theory that Democrats failed because they catered to people like Mark Warner.

The theory here, embraced by a lot of the most prominent liberal bloggers and activists, is that centrist Democrats doomed the party when they blocked liberals in Congress from making good on President Obama’s promise of bold change. Specifically, they refused to adopt a more populist stance toward business and opposed greater stimulus spending and a government-run health care plan. As a result, the thinking goes, frustrated voters rejected the party for its timidity.

No, Matt, you misunderstand completely (or simply build another of your favored straw men). The problem is not that “frustrated voters rejected the party for its timidity.” Frustrated voters rejected the party because its watered down legislation didn’t do the job. And the centrists were the ones that watered down that legislation and made it ineffective.

And the biggest problem both Mark Warner and Matt Bai make is in pretending that they’re stuck in an ideology-free zone between two extremist ideologies. Leaving aside the TeaBaggers, whose ideology was very diverse up until the Koch brothers made them a wholy owned but less ideologically consistent subsidiary, this is not about a left ideology and a right ideology and the nice non-ideological centrists in between. Rather, this debate is about progressives who insist that legislation not be compromised by a blindly ideological insistence on things like deficit cutting, all because some think tanker has been paid to claim that issue, like Iran, is a greater threat than millions of Americans losing their jobs and homes. It’s about efficacy versus the flabby centrist ideology that got us into this mess.

What Bai and Warner choose not to understand is that centrism is an ideology even more stubborn than the left or right they love to attack, but an ideology that got us into the mess we’re in now, both fiscally and electorally.

Wacky GOP Hearings Ideas

Mary, who apparently is not a twit, noticed that those of us who are have been brainstorming all the great hearings the GOP will hold now that they control the House. And, in her infinite wisdom, she asked for a thread here so everyone can all join in the fun.

Here were my twitter suggestions:

  • Yemen: Should we triple the drone strikes or triple the right-wing owned contractors?
  • Drilling in ANWR: Before or after we triple drilling in Gulf deepwater?
  • How God wanted us to feel warmer so he just turned up the temperature a little.
  • Birth control: the godless socialists’ assault on God’s plans for women.
  • Legislative options to help banks foreclose on deadbeats faster.
  • Free Trade Agreements: After Chile, Colombia, and Korea, where ELSE can we export manufacturing jobs?

And some other favorites from Elon James White:

  • Jobs in America: Bad Economy or Too Many Mexicans.
  • Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: Can’t the gays just chill out already?
  • War on Terror: Can we classify Mexicans as Arab?

And Adam Serwer:

  • Santa Claus: Threat or Menace?
  • What’s Eric Holder hiding under that mustache?

What have we missed?

Republicans Trying to Capitalize on Housing Crisis, Again

You may remember how, in 2008, MI’s Republicans planned to conduct voter caging at the polls based on foreclosure lists (Democrats went to court to stop this).

It appears the Republicans–this time in Kansas–are trying similar cynical efforts to capitalize on the housing crisis with robocalls telling voters they must own a home to vote.

Kansas Democrats allege that a pro-Republican group is attempting to mislead and intimidate voters with automated telephone calls claiming the election occurs on Wednesday.

The robo-calls tell voters to bring their voter registration card and proof of home-ownership to the polls on Wednesday, November 3rd.

Voters in Kansas are not required to provide those documents to vote and the election occurs on Tuesday, November 2nd. First-time voters only need to bring proof of their name and address, such as a driver’s license.

The Kansas Democratic Party claims to have traced the calls to “an as yet unnamed Republican organization.”

In MI, the thwarted attempt to capitalize on the housing crisis was all the more cynical given that the biggest foreclosure mill in teh state, Trott and Trott, was shacking up with John McCain’s campaign office.

But this effort does seem to suggest that Republicans will look for any way to make their miserable policies an advantage at the voting booth.

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