So I'm walking along the Embarcadero, and I hear a splashing in the water. Loud. Bigger than a bird, obviously. I look over, and there's a seal, hanging around the pier. Quick, grab the telephoto, and wait for him to resurface... so cute. The picture at the bottom is after he caught a fish or an eel or something, and the gulls immediately descend, waiting for a tidbit. I was in awe.
San Francisco is one magical city.
On to the politics:
The lessons of Lugar. Although the Senator had a huge hand in his own destiny, don't underestimate the power that outside money and pressure played in this race. And look what the Republicans of Indiana have elected: a partisan who promises a war against compromise and the Democrats. Why is Congress broken? People like this: “I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view,” Mourdock said on Fox, according to Politico. He also said something along the same lines to the NY Times. Gridlock? You're staring at it.
The media takes note of the lessons of Lugar. Besides the links above, The National Review takes a look back at the other names to fall recently - Specter, Murkowski, Bennett, as well as some House races - and finds that Dick is actually the first to go in a straight-on Tea Party money challenege. Conclusion: "The tea party may be losing popularity, but its power inside the Republican party appears to be growing." Nate Silver brings up some other names and includes retirements as he notes the fall of moderate Republicans - Chaffee, DeWine, Dole, for example - and comes to the same conclusion: "Overall, however, they have very little of a moderate coalition left, and the Republican Senate is starting to grow as conservative as the Republican House."
Dick Lugar has a lot to say about this, too. Heed these words: "I also knew from the races in 2010 that I was a likely target of Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and other Super Pacs dedicated to defeating at least one Republican as a purification exercise to enhance their influence over other Republican legislators." The Republican Party does not represent the people anymore - it represents the interests of billionaires, and you will do what the Party tells you to do, or face the consequences.
Gay marriages and civil unions are now banned in North Carolina. Something to keep in mind when planning your vacation this year.
Turning to the cowardice of the Mitt: Dana Milbank adds up the times when Romney refused to stand up to the extremists in his party; the treason-shouter, the gay aide, the Limbaugh comments, and certain points in the Republican debates where Mitt stayed silent when leadership was called for. Romney will not stand up, and it's a very important point to note. Stay tuned, there will be more examples coming. It's a pattern now...
... and so is Mitt's dishonesty. In addition to Governor Granholm's wonderful takedown of Romney on the show last night, the New York Times' David Firestone also notes that "Mitt Romney Bails on the Truth" when it comes to the auto industry rescue. "Mitt Romney’s claim that his ideas contributed to the revival of the auto industry is preposterous and easy enough to knock down. It’s exhausting, however, to refute each and every laughable distortion or outright untruth that he and his campaign issue virtually every day." Yes, yes it is. Thank you for noticing.
As expected, Senate Republicans filibustered the student loan bill. Interestingly enough, they are not going to follow the House Republican's wishes on the transportation bill. Sen. James Inhofe has told the House to stand down, and that he will not take up a fight with the Democrats over this. And over on the House side, it seems there is a problem when it comes to actually voting for the cuts to the budget that they vowed they would make. Republicans turned down $1.4B in spending cuts to the Department of Commerce and Justice budget that is making its way through the chamber. Jake Sherman at Politico also notices the problems is the House, give it a read if you want to learn more.
The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports that job openings are rising. The part you can see: "U.S. job openings rose in March, a sign that employers gained confidence heading into the spring. The nation had 3.74 million job vacancies at the end of March, about 5% higher than February and the highest level since July 2008, the Labor Department said Tuesday."
Other good news on the economic front: The CBO reports a surplus, the first since 2008. "The surplus — the first of Barack Obama’s presidency — was the result of both increased tax collection and lower government spending. Before April, the government had not run a surplus since September 2008, the month that the financial crisis struck the U.S. economy." And here's a fun and very important fact: Democrats are better "job creators" than Republicans, according to a report from Bloomberg. "The BGOV Barometer shows that since Democrat John F. Kennedy took office in January 1961, non-government payrolls in the U.S. swelled by almost 42 million jobs under Democrats, compared with 24 million for Republican presidents, according to Labor Department figures."
New Washington Post poll shows Tim Kaine and George Allen deadlocked at 46 percent in the Senate race there. That one will go down right to the wire.