Monday, November 1, 2010

Short Takes

Indonesia suffers another volcanic eruption.

At least 14 people were killed in a Baghdad church in an attempt to free hostages.

Gitmo: Omar Khadr, the Canadian on trial for terrorism in Afghanistan, gets 40 years.

Apparently there’s some elections tomorrow.

Book notes: Former President George W. Bush will open the Miami Book Fair.

R.I.P. Theodore Sorenson, adviser and speechwriter to JFK.

World Series Game 4: The Giants win, making it 3-1.

Tropical Update: Just where the heck is now-Tropical Storm Tomas going?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Election Guide

Digby offers sources of information on how to find where your polling place is no matter where you live.

Also included are partisan and non-partisan guides and resources.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jon Stewart and President Obama

President Obama on The Daily Show last night.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 3
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity


(Did he really say Larry Summers did “a heckuva job”?)

Jon Stewart is the best interviewer out there.

He’s All Reich With Me

I wonder whose idea this was:

I’d thought Richard Iott had been put out to pasture after news broke that his main hobby was Nazi reenacting. After that Rep. Eric Cantor (R) denounced him. And then everything pretty much went down hill from there when he started saying that he didn’t think we were in a position to judge the SS soldiers who did all the cool stuff on the Eastern Front.

But apparently Iott is out of the dog House. And back in John Boehner’s House.

This Saturday John Boehner is going to appear at a special pre-election rally with Iott in Toledo.

Since it’s the day before Hallowe’en, perhaps Mr. Boehner can come dressed as Field Marshall Goring.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Curbing Their Enthusiasm

Here’s what is known so far about the curbside incident outside the Rand Paul/Jack Conway debate the other night: the man who is seen on the video putting his foot rather forcefully on the head and neck area of Lauren Valle, a volunteer with MoveOn.org, is Tim Profitt. He is not just some bystander; he is — or was — a campaign volunteer for Rand Paul. Mr. Profitt has apologized — sort of — for the incident but explains “that the camera angle made the scuffle Monday night appear worse that it was.” And that Ms. Valle should never have put her head under his boot in the first place. Meanwhile, at least one right-winger is blaming Ms. Valle for “provoking” the incident and that MoveOn.org owes an apology to the poor beset Tea Party.

Ms. Valle was treated at a local hospital for her injuries and recovered enough to be able to appear on Keith Olbermann’s show on MSNBC last night. She plans to press charges, as the the local sheriff.

Meanwhile, the object of all this turmoil and violence, Rand Paul, was remarkably circumspect about expressing much more than mild admonitions in the passive voice about the whole thing. At one point he said that “both sides” need to calm down but failed to illustrate his theme with any examples of where a group of liberals assaulted a volunteer for a conservative organization and stepped on their head. I’m sure that if it’s happened, we would have heard about it, Barack Obama would have been blamed for it, Glenn Beck would have wept about it, Rush Limbaugh would have made a crude but sly racist comment, and Michele Bachmann would have declared that she will open a House investigation as to why liberals are allowed to demonstrate at campaign events.

As Ms. Valle noted last night, it’s ironic that the people who have been carrying on about standing up for the Constitution and the rights guaranteed therein seem to have a problem when other people exercise their rights of freedom of speech and assembly.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It’s Out There

The Tea Party Nation doesn’t hold back.

This weekend, Tea Party Nation (TPN) sent an email in support of Lynne Torgerson, who is running against Rep. Keith Ellison in Minnesota. In the email, TPN lists the reasons Ellison should be “retired.” Among them: “He is the only Muslim member of congress.”

I suppose you can look at this in a way that it’s refreshing to have such blatant bigotry right out there in the open. No more wink, wink, nudge, nudge, huh? And my guess is that the Tea Party Nation has every confidence that this kind of thing will work.

Oh, by the way, Mr. Ellison isn’t the only Muslim in Congress. Meet Rep. André Carson, Democrat from Indiana’s 7th District.

Peaceable Assembly

No, apparently we can’t all get along.

The Rand Paul-Jack Conway debate may have been staid, but things were not so outside the debate. A Kentucky reader sends word that according to the local Fox affiliate, a young woman affiliated with MoveOn.org was brutally attacked–stomped in the head–outside the debate by a Rand Paul supporter. The story led the local newscast.

The nerve of some people showing up at a public place to voice their opinion.

According to TPM, Paul supporters are claiming the woman “fell or tripped.” Amazing how someone can do that when someone else has you in a headlock.

Short Takes

Indonesia braces itself for a volcanic eruption.

They’re trying to stop the spread of cholera in Haiti.

Home sales are looking better, but the foreclosure mess might hurt them.

Biting the bullet — Florida is this close to getting high speed rail.

Sink and Scott trade barbs in their last Florida governor’s debate.

R.I.P. Joseph Stein, 98, author of the book for Fiddler on the Roof and other musicals.

Tropical Update: What’s left of Richard is depressing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Eight Myths

Send this to your crazy right-wing uncle who keeps hammering you with bullshit e-mails.

There are a number things the public “knows” as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budget reduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

This stuff really matters.

HT to my crazy uncle’s sister.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Perils of Early Voting

As I noted in the Blogaround, early voting has started in Texas. So too, apparently, is the attempt by the Tea Party there to ensure that only the right people vote. And I do mean right. Via TPM:

A group trying to register voters in Houston received threats and emails containing racist slurs after being targeted by a local tea party group accusing it of “voter fraud.”

In emails obtained by TPM, the group Houston Votes was accused of being “a bunch of white guilt ridden assholes, NIGGERS and greasy mexican spics,” “fraudulent Marxist pigs,” and “American hating A-holes.”

“We received a couple of threats and several harassing e-mails,” Maureen Haver of Houston Voters told TPMMuckraker. “There have been several efforts, I think, just trying to race-bait and stir racial tension and part of that I think is just based on what we’ve received in messaging from them.”

“It’s really had a chilling effect on our office,” said Haver, adding that one of the e-mails was reported to the FBI.

There is a Tea Party group in Houston called the King Street Patriots that have put out a video called “True the Vote” complete with music and scary voice-overs about voter fraud. There’s no proof of any connection between these people and the e-mails, but stuff like that doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

One of the big differences between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats put a lot of effort into getting people to register to vote and making the process open to all who are eligible. The Republicans, on the other hand, spend as much effort, if not more, in trying to keep people from voting.

Short Takes

The New York Times reports that large companies, including Dow Chemical and Goldman Sachs, have given a lot of money to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to run campaign ads.

More than 100 people have died from cholera in Haiti.

To add to the DADT confusion, the Pentagon issues new rules that limit who can order discharges under the law.

Jobless claims
fell a little last week.

Former President Bill Clinton was in Miami campaigning for Alex Sink.

There’s water on the moon, according to NASA.

Tropical Update: Tropical Storm Richard is working its way into the Gulf of Mexico.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today’s Adventures in Pot & Kettle

If you’re going to get your tail all puffed up about a negative ad pointing out what a jerk you were in college in the 1980’s, you had better be sure that you haven’t used the same tactic yourself. Via TPM:

Turns out that Rand Paul — who has been incensed over Jack Conway’s suggestion that Paul’s college hijinks are relevant to the Kentucky Senate race — was very recently the candidate making attack ads aimed at the decisions another man made in his college years.

Back in the hotly contested Republican primary, which pitted Paul against establishment pick Trey Grayson, Paul had a field day making an issue out of Grayson’s college-age support for Bill Clinton. Grayson, the current Kentucky Secretary of State, told a group of students in 2008 that when he cast his first presidential ballot in 1992, at age 20, he cast it for Bill Clinton. Most other Kentuckians did, too — Clinton won the state that year, and did it again four years later.

Grayson said he became a Republican later, “when he realized he agreed more often with the GOP on issues.”

But wait, it gets better. One of Mr. Paul’s staunch defenders is Mike Huckabee, who is recording ads and robocalls for him and demanding that Mr. Conway “repent” for his “classless” attack. Well, look what Digby found; it turns out that Mr. Huckabee himself went after his political opponents based on their faith.

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said he considers his rival Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith a religion, not a cult, but questioned whether Mormons believe “Jesus and the devil are brothers.”

Huckabee raised the question on his own in an interview to appear in The New York Times magazine on Sunday, and ignited a new flap in the up-for-grabs race to be the Republican Party’s nominee in the November 2008 presidential election.

The Conway ad must be working; if not, the Paulbots wouldn’t be bringing in Mr. Huckabee.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ad Hominem

There’s been a lot of discussion in the last couple of days as to whether or not Jack Conway, the Democrat running for the Senate against Rand Paul in Kentucky, went over the line by running a political ad that brings up Mr. Paul’s thirty-year-old college hazing rituals. I’ve seen the ad, and, as Adam Serwer points out, compared to some of the other spots that are running around the country and here in Florida on behalf of both sides of the races, I’d say it is pretty much in line with what’s out there. (That said, all bets are off as to this election being anywhere close to what qualifies as “normal.”)

The other take on this story is that the ad doesn’t talk about the issues that really matter; unemployment, the deficit, education, and the things that the Senate will have to deal with in the coming months and years, nor does it point out the vulnerabilities of having a modern-day Rand Paul in the Senate; he’s got enough weaknesses as a candidate in 2010, so why bring up what he did back in the 1980’s when he was in college? (And, by the way, would you want to run on what you were like when you were in college? Hmm?)

That said, I think in one respect this ad will work for Mr. Conway. I used to live near Kentucky — across the Ohio River — and I spent a lot of time in Western Kentucky. It’s a beautiful place and the people there are, by and large, very close to their faith and have made it integral in their lives. Running a spot that attacks someone for their hypocrisy about religion and questions their sincerity may be risky in some quarters, but it does carry weight in a state where people take their faith very seriously.

Oh, and if the situation were reversed and it was Mr. Conway’s college hijinks that were on the table, do you really think the GOP would have any doubts about running this kind of ad? Didn’t think so.

Bring Back Checkpoint Charlie

What is it with the Tea Party people and totalitarian regimes? No sooner does the dust settle around Richard Iott, the Republican running for Congress in Toledo who likes to dress up like a member of the Waffen SS, then we get Joe Miller in Alaska suggesting that the East Germans had a good idea in building the Berlin Wall.

Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller was asked about illegal immigration at his town hall yesterday, and he said that the country’s first priority should be to secure the border. “If East Germany could, we could,” he said.

I’m sure it just slipped his mind that the goal of the armed and mined border that was staffed with soldiers with orders to shoot to kill was to keep people in, not out. This mindset does, however, fit in neatly with the Arizona immigration law that requires anyone stopped for any reason by the police to show proof of citizenship.

By the way, Mr. Miller delivered his suggestion at the same town hall meeting where his private security force handcuffed and detained a local blogger for having the nerve to try to ask Mr. Miller a question. It sounds like they’re getting in some practice for the coming march to more freedoms and limited government.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bucking the Trend

Ken Buck, the Republican Senate candidate from Colorado, told NBC’s Meet the Press that he thinks being gay is a choice.

Host David Gregory noted to the GOP challenger, “In a debate last month, you expressed your support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell [and] you alluded to ‘lifestyle choices.’ Do you believe being gay say choice?”

Buck replied, “I do.” Gregory followed up, asking, “Based on what?” After initially pretending not to understand the question, Buck added, “I guess you can choose who your partner is.”

[…]

Before moving on, Gregory pressed further, asking, “You don’t think it’s something that’s determined at birth?” Buck replied, “I think that birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically you have a choice.”

The surprise isn’t that Mr. Buck believes what he does. When you have someone with a record like he does in right-wing batshittery, you take it as a given that he’d believe that. It’s an old meme in their book; Pat Robertson and Trent Lott have used it before, too. It’s nothing new. The only surprise is that it took him this long to get it out. (Just curious; if you’re both gay and alcoholic, do you get a Double Word Score?)

Aside from the fact that it’s an argument that is so easily debunked — after all, if being gay is a choice, then isn’t being straight, and when exactly did Mr. Buck and all his manly hetero supporters choose to be so? — there’s absolutely no reliable evidence to indicate that being gay is a conscious choice any more than being left-handed is. Homosexuality shows up in every culture, in every socio-economic strata, and in every racial and ethnic grouping. And I get really tired of having to repeat the same old mantras every time that some wingnut comes up with the claim once again in order to curry favor with Teh Stoopids who will vote for him. (For what it’s worth, I used to live in Colorado. Not all the gays live in Boulder and LoDo; as Ted Haggard proved, there’s a fair number in places like Colorado Springs and other conservative bastions.)

Being gay is not a choice. Being ignorant is.

Short Takes

The Pentagon is bracing for another huge Wikileaks dump later this month.

Starting in Ohio, President Obama hit the campaign trail for Democrats this week and next.

The Chilean miners secrecy pact is being sold off.

Mexico is watching California’s vote on legalizing marijuana.

The foreclosure freeze is hitting hard in Florida.

Early voting begins in Florida.

If you’re looking to hitch a ride or offer one to the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally in Washington on October 30, here’s a site that can link you up.

Tropical Update: There’s another disturbance in the Western Caribbean. Meanwhile, a super typhoon is hitting the Philippines.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

With Friends Like These…

If it’s okay to run for Congress in Ohio after playing a Nazi on weekends, is it okay for a congressional candidate in Florida to hang out with a real gang of criminals?

Allen West, a national tea party favorite and the Republican nominee for Congress in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, has (to put it mildly) some controversial friends. According to a new report from NBC News, West has been a fan and defender of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a national group targeted by the FBI for involvement in racketeering, “violent crimes” and “attempted murder.”

As NBC reported tonight, West has had personal dealings with the Florida chapter of the Outlaws, which lists on its website “Brothers In Prison,” which NBC correspondent Lisa Meyers says includes “many” who “were convicted of violent crimes, including murder.”

Meyers reports on email correspondence between West and a supporter nervous about his interactions with the group that appears to show West defending the group against a characterization that it’s “criminal.”

But as the FBI noted in a June press release announcing a federal indictment of American Outlaw leadership, the national group is suspected of being a “a highly organized criminal enterprise with a defined, multi-level chain of command.”

Here’s the report from NBC News:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


This could get interesting. But hey, criminal drug-running bikers need congressional representation, too.

PS: The Reid Report has all the details of Mr. West’s connections with the gang and his endorsement by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH).

HT to TPM.