Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Reading

Who Poisoned Flint? — David A. Graham in The Atlantic reads the e-mails that tell the story.

Why did it take so long for state and federal government to do something about lead in the water in Flint, Michigan? Or, put another way, who is to blame, and who should have fixed it?There’s a telling moment within the 274 pages of emails released by Governor Rick Snyder’s office about Flint. Dennis Muchmore, then chief of staff to the governor, puzzles over who should be on the hook. He gripes about Representative Dan Kildee, and mentions former state Treasurer Andy Dillon.

[…]

Muchmore went on, “The real responsibility resists with the County, city and [Flint’s water authority], but since the issue here is the health of citizens and their children, we’re taking a pro-active approach.”

The question of who really is responsible has become suddenly widespread. On Thursday, news broke that the U.S. House will call Snyder to testify. The EPA official responsible for Michigan also resigned on Thursday. Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both called for Snyder to resign. The Wall Street Journal points a finger at every level of government. Disentangling the blame proves to be a difficult task.

Muchmore’s statement may seem a bit callous, but his mention of Dillon is somewhat tangential: After all, Dillon’s role was simply to sign off on the change to taking water from the Flint River, because of the size of the transaction. But Muchmore omitted the reason why Dillon was involved—a fact that also complicates his assignment of blame to the city. The switch to water from the Flint River occurred under the oversight of an emergency manager appointed by Snyder. Under a state law that Snyder signed, the governor can appoint a manager to take over cities in financial emergency.Prior to the switch, Flint had been preparing to move away from water provided by Detroit’s water service and toward a pipeline that would bring water directly from Lake Huron. (The city council did have a chance to weigh in on that change, and supported it 7-1.) But when Flint made the decision, the Detroit Water Services District announced it would terminate service to Flint a year later. That was legal under the contract, but it put Flint in a bad spot, since the new pipeline wasn’t going to be complete in a year. DWSD shrugged, saying Flint should have expected it. That’s how the emergency manager, Darnell Earley, ended up overseeing the switch to water from the Flint River. Flint residents and leaders blame Earley for the decision; Earley insists it was their idea. (Flint reconnected to Detroit water late last year, but there’s lasting damage to the pipes.)In any case, the final authority for the decision rested with Earley, the manager. That makes it jarring to see Muchmore write, in the same email quoted above, that the state departments of Environmental Quality and Community Health complained that the water issue had become “a political football”

[…]

For one thing, it had become clear by the time of writing, in September 2015, that Flint’s water had dangerous levels of lead. The residents weren’t just angry because they saw a partisan gain—they were angry about brown and apparently tainted water coming out of their faucets. Meanwhile, their political representation had been directly curtailed by the appointment of the emergency manager who oversaw the switch. Officials in Lansing withdrew Flint’s power to govern itself, but when Flint begged Lansing for help, it was told that the problem was Flint’s alone.

End It Already — Charlie Pierce is fed up with the kids playing occupiers.

Enough is enough. I mean, really. It’s time for federal law enforcement to, you know, enforce federal law.

On the other end was an FBI negotiator who identified himself to Bundy only as “Chris.” And so opened talks between the leader of the refuge occupation and the federal agency in charge of bringing an end to the armed takeover, now in its third week. For nearly an hour around noontime, the negotiator listened to Bundy’s well-practiced litany of complaints against the federal government while probing for what it would take to end his occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. They ended the call with the promise to talk again Friday.

Isn’t that sweet?

The people of Harney County are fed up. The governor of Oregon is fed up. A group of armed jamokes—some of them with long criminal histories outside of the crimes they are committing at the moment—has seized federal property on federal land and the only people who seem sanguine about the whole business are the federal authorities. The thieves have been allowed to come and go fairly at will. They’ve been allowed to state their case at town meetings. And they’ve been allowed to return to the scene of their current crimes over and over again. Enough. If the FBI is still gun-shy about Ruby Ridge and about Waco, it has had enough chances to arrest these people without storming their winter clown encampment.

In sometimes highly personal remarks, speaker after speaker vented anger—at public officials, at the federal government and at the man in the brown cowboy hat sitting high in the bleachers to take it all in—Ammon Bundy. He and other armed militants on Jan. 2 seized the headquarters compound of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, situated 30 miles southeast of Burns. The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He sat on the second row from the top as County Judge Steve Grasty, microphone in hand, strode to the foot of that bleacher section.”It is time for you to go home,” Grasty said to Bundy, vowing to meet with Bundy anytime,  anyplace—outside of Harney County. A chant then grew in the gymnasium: “Go, go, go, go, go.” That was a message Bundy heard repeatedly through the evening, one he once vowed to heed. He sat expressionless, making no move to respond or to comment.

Can someone please explain to me why Ammon Bundy wasn’t arrested as he sat in the bleachers? Or on the way to the meeting? Or on the way back to the land he is attempting to steal from the rest of us? If the FBI had been this tender about people’s feelings throughout its history, John Dillinger would have died in his bed at the age of 103 and Fred Hampton might still be alive.

Nothing good can come of waiting these people out anymore. By their lights, they’ve already won, the way Ammon’s deadbeat father, Cliven, won when itinerant gunmen faced down lawful authority, an episode that led directly to the one in Oregon that already has gone on too long. (By the way, the elder Bundy is still a scofflaw who owes you and me $1 million.) And it’s important to remember that they are only the shiny object shock troops of a general conservative movement to destroy what’s left of the commons by taking over the public lands, especially in the West.

Outside of its 180-degree pivot on race, nothing demonstrates how far the Republican Party has strayed from its own history than its abandonment of its legacy as the party of conservation and the environment. The whole idea of preserving public lands for the people of the United States was a Republican idea, root and branch. Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation putting Yosemite under federal protection. The Antiquities Act was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. For a century, the preservation of the public lands was as close to a bipartisan project as we’ve had. It outlasted McCarthyism and the turmoil of the 1960s and the backlash of the 1970s and even, to an extent, the rise of Ronald Reagan, in which the seeds of the current threat to public lands first were sown.

“Noises Off” Is Still On — Michael Shulman in The New Yorker on the undying appeal of the farce.

Wednesday afternoon; a British country home. The phone rings, and a housekeeper named Mrs. Clackett galumphs in from the servants’ quarters, carrying a plate of sardines. In a weary Cockney accent, she informs the caller that her employer is in Spain. His wife’s in Spain, too. She blanches. “Am I in Spain? No, I’m not in Spain, dear.” She hangs up and begins to leave, as her accent suddenly jumps up several socioeconomic notches and she mumbles to herself, “And I take the sardines. No, I leave the sardines. No, I take the sardines.”

If Mrs. Clackett seems like a stock character in a British comedy—the grouchy, bumbling maid—that’s because she is one. We are watching the dress rehearsal for a play called “Nothing On,” whose doomed tour through English towns like Ashton-under-Lyne and Stockton-on-Tees is the subject of “Noises Off,” Michael Frayn’s ingenious 1982 farce within a farce. A sort of theatrical turducken, the play has a lot to tell us about the comedy of chaos. Paradoxically, it only works when it runs like clockwork: everything has to go right for everything to go so wrong. Fortunately, the Roundabout’s revival, which just opened at the American Airlines Theatre, under the shipshape direction of Jeremy Herrin, nails nearly every slamming door, pants-around-the-ankles pratfall, and flung plate of sardines.

About those sardines: keep your eye on them. And on the telephone. And on the newspaper Mrs. Clackett can’t remember whether to take offstage. By magnifying the minutiae—props, cues, stuck doorknobs—Frayn blows up perhaps the most banal aspect of theatre-making to absurd proportions. Or, as Lloyd (Campbell Scott), the beleaguered director of “Nothing On,” puts it, “That’s what it’s all about. Doors and sardines. Getting on, getting off. Getting the sardines on, getting the sardines off. That’s farce. That’s the theatre. That’s life.” It’s not until we see every exit and entrance go absurdly, madly, hilariously askew that we begin to see his point. Viewed from a certain angle, life is about little things that can slip, crack, and slam in our faces.

Perhaps that’s why “Noises Off” is such a crowd-pleaser, frequently revived and frequently beloved. Over three acts, we follow the accident-prone actors as their missed cues and accumulating rivalries lead to catastrophe for “Nothing On” but hilarity for “Noises Off.” Sardines fly, cactuses are sat upon. Frayn gives each character just enough distinction to make the tomfoolery comprehensible. Dotty (the wonderful Andrea Martin), who plays the housekeeper, is a slumming grand dame. Brooke (Megan Hilty), who plays a blond bimbo, keeps losing her contact lenses. Selsdon (Daniel Davis) is a drunk. (The rest of the ace ensemble includes Jeremy Shamos, David Furr, and Kate Jennings Grant, as actors, and Tracee Chimo and Rob McClure, as hapless stagehands.) Likewise, the characters they play in “Nothing On” have only one or two quirks apiece. The point isn’t to delve into individual psychology but to marvel at the extremity of gracelessness, choreographed with meticulous grace.

Doonesbury — At a minimum.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Monday, September 15, 2014

Scotland

I haven’t posted anything about the impending vote this week in Scotland on their independence because up until now I didn’t think it had much of a chance of passing.  It’s also because I have no strong feelings either way: if the Scots truly believe they’d be better off in every way as an independent nation, then let them go.  I also hope that they have considered all the consequences.

For instance, it would mean that Scotland would be out of the E.U. and NATO.  Perhaps that’s what the pro-independence people want; they believe they can be self-sufficient and have both the economic and military resources to fend for themselves.

I also think that in campaigning for independence, they might look towards history and see how it’s gone for other regions that have broken away from their former unions and tried it on their own.  If recent examples like South Sudan and Eritrea are any guide, it’s a rocky road.  Even former colonies that have struck out on their own with the blessing of their mother country have not always hit the ground running.

However they vote on Thursday, I wish them the best.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hard To Be A Pacifist

After hearing about another execution of an American journalist held hostage by ISIS, the visceral reaction comes easily.  Even the most even-tempered and non-violent soul finds the gorge rising in their throat and the simple solutions easily form in the mind: “Find them, kill them, and make sure they know who did it and why.”

We have the forces; we have the means and the power to hunt down these wretched fanatics and grind them to powder.  There is no place on the planet they can hide.  We got bin Laden, so why can’t we marshal all the secret weapons and black ops teams like the ones we see on TV?  Why isn’t a bullet between the eyes the way to do it?

Because it’s what they want.  It is what they are counting on.  To ISIS and al-Qaeda, life is expendable and replaceable.  One more dead leader to them means they replace him with another; one more drone attack by us furthers their cause and draws new men to their cause.  We have been taking out their leaders since before we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and still they grow.  We took out the most hunted man in the world and that hasn’t stopped them from replacing him.

We are seeing the consequences of being goaded into war.  We are seeing the result of generations of exploitation and lorded-over exceptionalism and self-styled supremacy.  The attacks against the West are not because we are not Muslim; they attack people of their own faith.  They are using religion as a facade in the same way a bigot uses the bible to justify racism, homophobia, and misogyny, and they allow their visceral hatred of those that bullied them to control their actions as well.  Their only hope is that we will respond in kind.  And we have.

We have given them what they want: attention and aggression.  The difference is that we have our limits and they do not because they believe they have nothing left to lose.  They also know there are powerful voices in America and the West who counsel peace and standing down the war machinery.  They hope those voices will be drowned out by the chants for war and blood and vengeance.

It is hard to resist the urge to destroy those who hate us.  But one hundred years of war and tension and world-wide suffering have not brought the peace.  War breeds more war, and those of us who struggle to keep our rage in check must prevail so that a calculated act of unspeakable cruelty is not met with the same.  Because it only leads to more blood, more sorrow and another hundred years of human misery wrought by miserable humans.

No, I don’t know the answer.  Peace has never been easy or a bargain; you have to pay for it.  It means overcoming prejudice and tribalism, two of nature’s more powerful visceral instincts.  If we cannot overcome them, the least we can do is control them and not let the epitaph of humanity be “It all started when they hit us back.”

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Speak Of The Devil

As expected, the Hobby Lobby ruling is finding some hellish companions.

The Satanic Temple has launched a campaign seeking religious exemption from laws that restrict access to abortions, citing the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.

The group, which “facilitates the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty,” argues that states’ “informed consent” laws violate its religious freedom.

“An increasing number of states have passed ‘informed consent’ laws, requiring that women seeking abortions be subjected to state-mandated informational materials that are often false or misleading,” the group wrote on its website. “We believe that personal decisions should be made with reference to only the best available, scientifically valid information.”

Lucien Graves, a spokesperson for the group, said that the Hobby Lobby ruling supports their initiative.

Damned if you do…

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Reading

Road Trip — Julie Pace of the AP in TPM on the Obama tour to bolster support.

Welcome to Barack Obama’s split-screen presidency.

On one side: a confident Obama making campaign-style stops around the country and ridiculing his political opponents to the delight of cheering supporters. On the other side: an increasingly unpopular president hobbled by gridlock on Capitol Hill and a steady stream of vexing foreign policy crises.

Obama has long sought refuge outside of Washington when his frustrations with the nation’s capital reach a boiling point. But his ability to rally public support in a way that results in progress for his legislative agenda has perhaps never been weaker than it is as he nears the midpoint of his second term.

To the White House, the take-away is that Washington — and the Republican Party in particular — is out of touch with the American people and failing to address their priorities. But to GOP leaders, Obama’s activities in a midterm election year reinforce their view of a president more focused on soaring speeches and partisan politics than on working toward compromise solutions to the nation’s problems.

Each side has at least some evidence to support their case.

Many Americans are indeed deeply frustrated with Washington’s inability to get anything done. Polls show majorities want to see action on some of Obama’s proposals, including increasing the minimum wage and overhauling the immigration system. Yet Obama’s own approval rating has fallen to the lowest levels of his presidency. And with his party at risk of losing control of the Senate, the president has ramped up his fundraising for the midterms and taken on a sharply partisan tone when voicing his frustration with Republicans.

During a speech Thursday in Austin, Texas — a Democratic enclave in a GOP-leaning state — Obama berated Republicans for, by his account, failing to act on “every serious idea” he’s put forth this year.

“The best you can say for them this year is that so far they have not shut down the government,” he said. “That’s the best you can say. But of course, it’s only July so who knows what they may cook up in the next few months.”

Egged on by a raucous and supportive crowd, Obama slipped deeper into campaign mode, leaning into the podium, responding to commentary from the audience and slipping into the familiar campaign language of his presidential bids. “Cynicism is a choice. Hope is a better choice,” he declared.

Why We’re Never Rid of Torture — Rebecca Gordon on why Dick Cheney’s America still has the capacity to do it.

Once upon a time, if a character on TV or in a movie tortured someone, it was a sure sign that he was a bad guy. Now, the torturers are the all-American heroes. From 24 to Zero Dark Thirty, it’s been the good guys who wielded the pliers and the waterboards. We’re not only living in a post-9/11 world, we’re stuck with Jack Bauer in the 25th hour.

In 2002, Cofer Black, the former Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, told a Senate committee, “All I want to say is that there was ‘before’ 9/11 and ‘after’ 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off.” He wanted them to understand that Americans now live in a changed world, where, from the point of view of the national security state, anything goes. It was, as he and various top officials in the Bush administration saw it, a dangerous place in which terrorists might be lurking in any airport security line and who knew where else.

Dark-skinned foreigners promoting disturbing religions were driven to destroy us because, as President George W. Bush said more than once, “they hate our freedoms.” It was “them or us.” In such a frightening new world, we were assured, our survival depended in part on brave men and women willing to break precedent and torture some of our enemies for information that would save civilization itself. As part of a new American creed, we learned that torture was the price of security.

These were the ruling fantasies of the era, onscreen and off.  But didn’t that sorry phase of our national life end when Bush and his vice president Dick Cheney departed? Wasn’t it over once Barack Obama entered the Oval Office and issued an executive order closing the CIA black sites that the Bush administration had set up across the planet, forbidding what had euphemistically come to be called “enhanced interrogation techniques?” As it happens, no. Though it’s seldom commented upon, the infrastructure for, the capacity for, and the personnel to staff a system of institutionalized state torture remain in place, ready to bloom like a desert plant in a rain shower the next time fear shakes the United States.

There are several important reasons why the resurgence of torture remains a possibility in post-Bush America:

* Torture did not necessarily end when Obama took office.

* We have never had a full accounting of all the torture programs in the “war on terror.”

* Not one of the senior government officials responsible for activities that amounted to war crimes has been held accountable, nor were any of the actual torturers ever brought to court.

Final Notes — Everything you need to know about the World Cup final game between Argentina and Germany.  From Joe DeLessio at New York magazine.

The World Cup comes to an end this afternoon in Rio, when Germany and Argentina meet in the tournament’s final. It’s Germany’s eighth appearance in the final (they’ve won three times), and it’s the fifth time Argentina will play for the title (they’ve won twice). The game is sure to draw monster ratings, with both die-hard fans and casual observers tuning in. And so if you’re the type who only watches soccer once every four years, here’s a primer to get to ready for the big match.

How did these teams get here?
Germany went 2-0-1 in the group stage (the draw came against Ghana), then beat Algeria and France in the knockout round to advance to the semifinals. As you might have heard, they embarrassed Brazil (the favorite to win it all) in that game, defeating them 7–1, prompting a lot of sad Brazilian front pages.

[…]

Argentina, meanwhile, has won all of its games, finishing the group stage 3-0-0 before beating Switzerland and Belgium to earn a berth in the semis. They needed a penalty shootout to get past the Netherlands in the game, after neither team scored in either 90 minutes of regulation or 30 minutes of extra time.

What do I need to know about Germany?
• They’re an efficient, disciplined team that beats opponents by working as a unit. Their midfield is a major strength and a big reason they walloped Brazil in the semifinals, and Manuel Neuer is one of the best goalies in the world.

• They have the second-leading goal scorer in the entire tournament in Thomas Muller, whose five goals are behind only Colombia’s James Rodriguez’s. Those who jumped on the U.S. soccer bandwagon may recall Muller as the guy who scored for Germany in their 1–0 defeat of the Americans…

• Germany’s roster also includes Miroslav Klose, the all-time leading goal scorer in World Cup history. His goal against Brazil in the semis was the 16th of his World Cup career.

• Jurgen Klinsmann, the coach of the U.S. team, is rooting pretty hard for Germany. The German-born Klinsmann both played for and coached the country in past World Cups, and with the Americans out, he’s not hiding his rooting interests.

What do I need to know about Argentina?
• Their best player is Lionel Messi, who may also be the best player in the world. He aggressively attacks defenders, and thanks to his sick ball control skills, creates opportunities to shoot and pass. He tallied 291 goals in 201 games for his club and national teams in between the 2010 and 2014 World Cups. (The only player who comes close to that figure is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.) And he has four goals so far in the World Cup, tied for third most.

• Argentina, a team not necessarily known for its defense, has been incredibly tough to score on in the knockout round so far: They haven’t allowed a goal in their last three games (not counting the penalty shootout, of course). Thanks to two games that have gone into extra time, that’s 330 minutes of play in elimination games, against some of the best teams on the planet.

• Javier Mascherano — who stumbled to the field after knocking heads with an opponent against the Netherlands, and later revealed that he also “tore [his] anus” while trying to prevent a Arjen Robben goal in the same game — plans on playing in the final.

[…]

All right, just tell me who’s supposed to win.
Through the semifinal round, FiveThirtyEight put Germany’s chances of winning the World Cup at 63 percent, and Argentina’s at 37 percent. Germany are the favorites according to bookmakers, too, even though no European country has ever won a World Cup played in the Americas.

Doonesbury — Rumor has it…

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Short Takes

Concern grows over the pace of aid getting to the Philippines.

Opium production hits record levels in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Kerry says no deal with Iran is better than a bad one.

Merger of American Airlines and US Airways is approved by Justice Department.

GOP blocks another court nominee.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

Reza Aslan is raking it in after the mega-cringe-inducing interview on Fox News.

Since then, the Buzzfeed page featuring the video has been viewed nearly four million times. Mr. Aslan quickly amassed an additional 5,000 Twitter followers. On Monday, Random House, Mr. Aslan’s publisher, said the interview had clearly helped book sales: in two days, sales increased 35 percent.

On Friday, “Zealot” was in the No. 8 spot on Amazon.com, the nation’s biggest seller of books; by Sunday, it had hit No. 1.

Random House is rushing to meet the surge in demand for the book. On Monday, the publisher ordered 50,000 copies, bringing the total to 150,000 copies in print by the end of the week.

An investigation of the historical Jesus, “Zealot” has been praised by many reviewers since its publication on July 16. In a review in Tablet magazine, Adam Kirsch called “Zealot” a “coherent and often convincing portrait of who Jesus was and what he wanted.”

But some conservative critics have suggested that the book is not a work of scholarship, but merely “an educated Muslim’s opinions about Jesus and the ancient Near East,” as John S. Dickerson, an opinion columnist, wrote on FoxNews.com last week.

[…]

Mr. Aslan said that after reading Mr. Dickerson’s essay on FoxNews.com, he was prepared for a similar line of attack from Ms. Green.

He was so eager to promote the book on Fox News that his publisher tried — in vain — to secure an interview spot on “Fox & Friends,” a morning show.

“I’ll be perfectly honest — I’m thrilled at the response that people have had to the interview,” Mr. Aslan said. “You can’t buy this kind of publicity.”

Mr. Aslan should send Ms. Green a plate of baklava.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Repeal Fever

For a group that claims they want to return the power to the people, the Teabaggers have come up with a rather odd way of showing it.

A relatively obscure amendment to the U.S. Constitution that lets voters directly choose U.S. senators has become an issue in a few congressional races around the country including at least two in Florida.

On Wednesday, freshman U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas of New Smyrna Beach, who is one of the most heavily targeted Democratic incumbents, began running her first TV ad of the campaign, targeting Republican challenger Sandy Adams, who favors repealing the amendment.

”Sandy Adams has some strange ideas,” the ad says. ”Adams would take away our right to vote and let Tallahassee politicians pick our senators? Suzanne Kosmas has different priorities.”

The ad also includes an audio recording of a radio interview in which Adams, R-Oviedo, is asked if there are constitutional amendments she’d favor repealing, and quickly answers the 16th and 17th. The 16th Amendment said that Congress could enact an income tax without having to apportion it based on state population, and was meant to clarify its ability to do so after a court case in the 1890s.

But the call for repeal of the 17th Amendment has gotten more considerable attention this summer with several congressional candidates, spurred on by a couple of conservative intellectuals and some tea party movement supporters, calling for its repeal, although in at least two cases Republican candidates have backtracked after saying they support removing it from the constitution.

The rationale is that the 17th Amendment wasn’t part of the original Constitution and therefore anything new since 1789 is bad. Hmm. So I guess they’re also in favor of African-Americans being worth 3/5 of a person, poll taxes, slavery, women not having the right to vote, taxes based on state size (which means Florida would get screwed while Wyoming and Alaska pay nothing), citizenship being at the whim of whatever political party happens to be in power, and leaving the selection of the representation of the states in the United States Senate up to the state legislature. What other relics of the 18th century would they like to bring back? Smallpox?

These geniuses might want to read up on exactly why the 17th Amendment was ratified in the first place. Senate seats were being bought and sold on the floor of any number of state houses like hot dogs. Corruption was rampant, and it was the equivalent of the Tea Party movement in the beginning of the 20th century — the populists — who finally got it passed in 1912. Now they want to turn it back over to the same people whose biggest accomplishment during the last session in Tallahassee was voting on nine specialty license plates, including one honoring surfing.

Do these people even think before they open their mouths?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Caught Another One

A candidate for the U.S. Senate in Ohio has been busted on sex charges.

DAYTON, Ohio — A New Lebanon man, running for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, has been indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury on sex charges.

Eric Deaton was indicted on one count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. He is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 15-year-old girl between March 2006 and March 2007.

Perry Township police said Deaton met the victim at a church where Deaton served as an elder.

Chief Bob Bowman said, “He would tutor some classes and allowed her to come to his residences to do some work and earn some money.”

Investigators said they have recordings and hotel records proving the inappropriate relationship. They don’t know if there are more victims.

Bowman said, “There are additional hotel dates that don’t correspond with information from our victim. We also have information from early on that there may be other girls from the church.”

A campaign spokesperson said Deaton is still running for Senate.

Mr. Deaton is running on the Constitution Party ticket. Josh Marshall has a bit more on his background.

Deaton, who has the support of major Tea Party groups in Ohio, is not backing down. He plans to remain in the race and says he believes the charges are “politically motivated.” According to Deaton, the “powers that be don’t like” his decision to enter the Senate race.

One of the unintended consequences of this Tea Party insurgency is that we get to find out all about the background of the people running, including some of their more unsavory aspects. For instance, who knew that Rand Paul, the Kentucky Senate candidate, was a charter member of the Baylor chapter of the Midnight Tokers? Or that Sharron Angle, running for the Senate in Nevada, had such interesting views on life and politics posted on her own website that she threatened to sue Harry Reid’s campaign for re-printing them. And if your real past isn’t good enough, you just make stuff up, like Mark Kirk, the senate candidate in Illinois.

This certainly is a colorful crowd and we won’t be lacking for entertainment and creativity if they’re elected. More’s the pity.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Target

One of the unintended consequences of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United is that now that corporations are free to donate to political campaigns, they’re finding out that it can backfire on them. Take the case of Target giving money to the campaign of Tom Emmer, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. Because of Mr. Emmer’s anti-gay stands, progressive and LGBT groups mounted a campaign against Target, some going so far as to boycott the stores and post videos about their actions. (This was met with outrage from the right, who, funnily enough, have no problem about calling for boycotts against companies that they think support liberal causes. Shoe, the other foot is on Line 1.)

Large corporations like Target can deal with public dissent. Issue an apology, promise to do better and be more aware of their customers, and so on (but notice that they didn’t rescind their donation to Mr. Emmer’s campaign). But when such an action riles their stockholders, now we’re talking real money.

“Imprudent donations can potentially have a major negative impact on company reputations and business if they don’t carefully and fully assess a candidate’s positions,” said Tim Smith, a senior vice president at Walden Asset Management, one of three asset management firms that this week filed a resolution asking the retail giant to overhaul its campaign donation policies. He cautioned that funding ballot initiatives, as many corporations have done, “can similarly backfire.”

So while we may have to live with the idea that corporations have as much a right to participate in the electoral process as a real voter, it might be a good idea to require them to report just how much money they’re giving to campaigns and let the democracy of the marketplace prevail.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Jokes Write Themselves

From Think Progress:

When President Bush announced his economic stimulus in January, he bragged that his package was the “right size” and would “boost” the economy:

I am pleased that this agreement meets the criterion that I set forth last week to provide an effective, robust, and temporary set of incentives that will boost our economy and encourage job creation. This package has the right set of policies and is the right size. The incentives in this package will lead to higher consumer spending and increased business investment this year.

It sure has led to “higher consumer spending,” but not where Bush had probably hoped. The adult pornography industry reports that has seen a huge uptick in business thanks to Bush’s package. According to a press release from the Adult Internet Market Research Company:

An independent market-research firm, AIMRCo (Adult Internet Market Research Company), has discovered that many websites focused on adult or erotic material have experienced an upswing in sales in the recent weeks since checks have appeared in millions of Americans’ mailboxes across the country.

According to Kirk Mishkin, Head Research Consultant for AIMRCo, “Many of the sites we surveyed have reported 20-30% growth in membership rates since mid-May when the checks were first sent out, and typically the summer is a slow period for this market.”

Jillian Fox of LSGmodels.com (nsfw) said that in a survey to its members, “thirty two percent of respondents referenced the recent stimulus package as part of their decision to either become a new member, or renew an existing membership.”

Please feel free to slip in your double-entendres. It won’t be too hard to come up with something.

(HT to Melissa.)