S&P Decision Maker Explains Why He Lowered US Credit Rating

John Chambers of Standard & Poor’s discusses why the decision was made to lower US credit rating.

I especially think this statement by Chambers when asked what was behind his decision is quite telling:

Well, I think there were two reasons. The first reason is the one that you have outlined, being our view of the political settings in the United States have been altered. We have taken them down a notch, the rating down a notch. The political brinkmanship we saw over raising the debt ceiling was something that was really beyond our expectations, the U.S. government getting to the last day before they had cash management problems.

And to further pound this point home Anderson Cooper asked him again:

COOPER: So it’s interesting. You’re saying without a doubt, the recent debate, the recent roadblocks in Congress, the tenor, the timing, the tone of the debate had a major impact on this.

CHAMBERS: Yes.

With Chambers’ comments in mind I just have one question. Who was it that installed the roadblocks and set set the tenor and tone of the debates again?

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Another BS Meme

The latest meme by House Republicans attempts to blame the Democrats for allowing our military members to go without pay because of their unwillingness to pass the Republican budget proposal that is full of riders that would among other things defund Planned Parenthood and roll back the powers of the EPA. No matter what your thoughts are regarding the GOP riders which have very little to do with balancing the budget by the way, the latest attempt to paint the Democrats in a bad light turns out to be total BS.

As things stand now, shutting down the government tonight would result in our military’s pay being affected but a bill submitted by Republican Louie Gohmert and co-sponsored by 113 House members over a week ago would have ensured that our military members would still get paid if that did in fact happen. The bill in question would do one thing and one thing only, guarantee our servicemen and women get paid. It included no riders or special interest legislation and was introduced with much fanfare but has since faded into obscurity once John Boehner’s Tea Billie puppeteers decided to use the military pay issue against the Democrats.

So this begs the question, is anyone safe from being screwed over in the name of someone’s political agenda anymore? What’s next slashing money for needed health and family planning services for low income young women? Oh wait…

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GOP Seeing Windfall Of Corporate Money

They say money can’t buy you happiness but if you are a GOP member in Congress these days it sure comes close and it is now time to repay the favor.

The new Republican leaders in the House have received millions of dollars in contributions from banks, health insurers and other major business interests, which are pressing for broad reversals of Democratic policies that affect corporations, according to disclosure records and interviews.

Much of that money flowed to the GOP chairmen overseeing banking, energy and other key committees – leaders who will play a central role in setting the House agenda over the next two years.

The impetus behind such largess is simple: Many companies and industry groups hope House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) and other Republicans will succeed in rolling back Democratic policies they find objectionable, including environmental and Wall Street regulations.

I would hope that Boehner sends thank you cards to the Supreme Court justices, their ruling last year giving corporations carte blanche to spend whatever they want on campaigns likely helped put him in power. Now those same corporations are reaping the rewards of that spending in the form of self serving legislation submitted by the grateful recipients of those nice donations.

Tea party rhetoric and misspelled signs aside, it is still business as usual (if dems had control it would be no different) and now even the polar bears are no longer safe

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How The Mighty Have Fallen

Believe it or not I actually thought that  John Edwards would have made a great Presidential candidate back during the primaries leading up to the 2008 elections. Of course that was before everything hit the fan. An affair, a love child and now we learn he is being investigated for possibly using campaign funds to cover up the affair.

A federal criminal investigation targeting John Edwards is examining how much the two-time presidential candidate knew about money used to cover up his extramarital affair and out-of-wedlock child and whether he had other practices that pushed the bounds of campaign finance laws.

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Throwing The Baby Out With The Bath Water?

I realize that political parties exist because of differing viewpoints on many issues but this is becoming ridiculous.

The US has had an arms reduction treaty in place with Russia effectively since the SALT I treaty in 1969. The latest of these treaties, SORT, is set to expire in 2012 so in 2009 the US and Russia negotiated the “New Start Treaty” to continue the process.

Congress has been debating the final approval of New Start since Obama signed it in April and like seemingly everything else that doesn’t involve bringing pork to South Dakota, our Senators line up on completely opposite ends of the debate.

Democrat Tim Johnson said he will vote for the New START treaty as an important part of national security. Without it, Johnson says U.S. has no inspectors in Russia.

Republican John Thune said on Sunday that he would vote against it because it doesn’t hold the Russians to a strict enough inspection program.

I am having a really hard time trying to understand Thune’s position as wouldn’t voting this down effectively replace the inspections called for in the treaty with nothing? That certainly doesn’t sound very strict to me. I would think having something in place that reduces both country’s ability to blow up the world from 15 times to only 10 and keeps verification procedures of some kind in place would be a whole lot better than having nothing at all.

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Noem Speaks

It is becoming obvious that the GOP has found their next poster child in our very own Congresswoman elect Kristi Noem. Just roll up your pant legs before watching as she can dish the political doublepseak with the best of them (pretty good since she hasn’t even been sworn it yet!) as demonstrated by her performance on today’s “Weekly Republican Address“.

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Rhetoric Over Substance

I am personally skeptical over some of the reasoning being used to explain the massive shift in power after this year’s election. Many would have you believe that they voted the way they did because those in power didn’t do enough to fix the economy, to lower the debt, or to uphold the Constitution. I tend to think people were fed-up in general and the Democrats were they obvious scapegoat.

One reason I believe that finding a “scapegoat” had more to do with the election than anything else is Constitutional aspect of the anger coming from the right. They often complain that many of Obama’s policies go against the Constitution and should be repealed based on that fact alone (see our own Attorney General’s lawsuit over Obamacare). While the Constitutionality of many of these policies can and will be debated, other similarly Constitutionally challenged policies have remained pretty much undiscussed especially when it comes to the Patriot Act and more recently the changes made in FISA regulations.

These changes initiated during the Bush Administration and continued during Obama’s term have led to easing of the requirements related to government wiretapping activities often allowing wiretaps on US citizens to be performed without getting warrants first.

The furor over the breaching of our 4th Amendment rights all in the name of “protecting” us from terrorists has been strangely absent from most of the Tea Party folks, most of whom would have busted a blood vessel in anger if their 2nd Amendment rights were even remotely challenged. In Congress, the outrage over these changes was even less noticeable as evident by the ease in which it passed, except for one individual.

Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold was one of only 16 Senators to vote against the 1st Amendment breaking Internet Decency Act of 1996 which was eventually struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Feingold was the only Senator to vote against the Patriot Act while also being one of the few to fight against giving immunity to the Telecom companies that participated in The Bush Administration’s illegal warrant-less wiretapping activities. From Wired:

Feingold and retiring Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticutt) attempted to filibuster a provision that provided legal immunity to telecoms that helped the Administration spy on Americans’ internet and phone use without warrants. That provision, along with expanded government surveillance powers, eventually passed in July 2008 with the support of then-Senator Barack Obama, who promised to revisit that law, but has not.

Sounds pretty pro-Constitution to me doesn’t it?

I have no doubt that many voted out of office yesterday deserved their fate and Feingold did have his issues as he often times aligned himself with the Obama Administration on fiscal issues which likely made him an easy target for defeat in this Democrat unfriendly environment. But if one claims to be truly worried about getting our country back in line with the Constitution, Russ Feingold was someone many would have thought should have been worth supporting.

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Post Election Thoughts

As expected the GOP swept into power in the House winning as many as 60 seats from the Democrats while picking up a few seats in the Senate but still fell short of winning the majority. Also as expected, the 2010 edition of the winds of change blew South Dakota’s lone member of the house into her next job maybe working with her lobbyist husband.

Now the fun really begins. The Republicans fired up their base by promising to create jobs, cut taxes, balance the budget, and repeal Obamacare all while failing to explain how they will do it. Making things even worse for the GOP, Democrats still control the Senate and the White House and they don’t have the numbers needed to override any veto that surely will happen.

So what does this mean?

My guess is the newly elected Tea Partiers will hit the ground running in the House only to find that politics as usual is still the norm making passing much of their agenda almost impossible. With little if anything accomplished 2 years from now we will be talking about fixing many of the same problems and voting in a whole new bunch of useless politicians promising that they have the cure for what ails us.

In South Dakota on the other hand, can our state Democratic party be any more worthless? Democrats are now outnumbered 29-6 in the Senate and 51-19 in the House. For the first time in decades they couldn’t even muster up a challenger to run against John Thune and we again were forced to sit through another Governor’s race that was over before it began. I consider myself a somewhat center right independent that was a registered Republican for much of my adult life but must admit that a majority of that magnitude in our government can’t be good. Just remember though, if you don’t like what is and has been going on in South Dakota, you can’t blame the Democrats as they barely have a heartbeat here.

We now have a state house restocked with homophobes, religious fundamentalists, and science deniers with just about nobody to balance the scales. Can we be far away from more abortion ban legislation, marriage definition amendments, or climate change is caused by astrology resolutions from the party that touts a “belief” in limited government intrusion on one hand while doing everything they can to intrude on the other?

We have only ourselves to blame…

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Be Careful About What You Ask For

I’ve been quiet here lately and for someone that has as deep of an interest in politics as I do, that should be telling. I always feel an element of disgust each election cycle when having to wade through the chaff that politicians disseminate, but this year the BS was unbearable.

How often have we had to deal with a fringe element who’s “leaders” likely couldn’t spell Constitution let alone preach to us with a straight face that we have strayed from it but yet still command an amazing amount of political clout?

When is the last time we’ve had a “mainstream” candidate for the US Senate that felt it was necessary to begin a campaign ad with the phrase “I am not a witch”?

Locally we have a candidate for the state house who goes out of his way to tout his military street cred as a reason to vote for him all while trying to explain why we must continue to prevent tens of thousands of patriotic men and women who want to serve from doing so.

Even more telling, it has been less than a decade since our lone house representative with a less than stellar driving record was forced to resign because he killed someone after running a stop sign. Yet believe it or not the likely winner of that seat this year unapologetically has a driving record that includes 20+ moving violations and numerous “failure to appear” citations and arrest warrants. And no Kristi you can’t blame Nancy Pelosi for this.

Of course I can go on and on with examples from both parties but the message is clear at least in my eyes. People have become so fed up with politics as usual that they blindly believe that change for the sake of change is the answer. We thought that in 2008 when the Democrats swept into power and I believe we think that doing so again this time will have a different result. (isn’t that a definition of insanity?)

The problem with this mindset though is it usually ends up putting the fringes of the political spectrum into power and unfortunately as thousands of years of human history can attest, nothing good happens when that is the case.

I am guessing that after today, the GOP will likely have a much bigger say in Washington after several years of only having their obstructionist tactics to keep them warm at night. With that being the case, will this finally mark the start of when American’s hold them to their promises? I doubt it…

Obama promised us the moon when he won the White House and instead his first 2 years have produced higher debt, higher unemployment, and lower hopes and dreams for our future all while the GOP has done nothing but whine, complain, filibuster, and blame others.

Guess what, it appears we will again listen to the promises that claim a lowering of the debt, creation of jobs, and a return to Constitutional principles (I will expect a repeal of the Patriot act very soon…) and many political neophytes will likely win because of those promises. I personally will be holding you to those promises and Ms Noem if you do win today, your party will likely control the agenda in the House this time around so that excuse will no longer fly. Both you and Herseth Sandlin promised a lot all while giving few details on how you would accomplish them but accomplish them you better as I will be watching.

And finally on a personal note directed to our state treasurer candidate Rich Sattgast. I have to say that political ads in general turn me off but I normally can get through them at least once. Your commercial spoofing the AFLAC duck though has to be the most obnoxious and annoying commercials I have ever seen to the point where I mute it before ever getting to hear your message. You might have had a great platform but since I could never get past the freaking duck, I never heard it.

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