Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last Call

Rejoice, pumpkin pie fans.  Your orange gourd crisis is over.

It may not be as all-American as apple pie, but for most, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without that other uniquely American treat - pumpkin pie.

But a wet summer and record rainfall in the central United States last year made that traditional dessert a lot harder to come by.

Suffering from three years of bad weather and low yields, canned pumpkin was getting scarce on many supermarket shelves, forcing pie bakers to scramble for the remaining cans, sometimes buying and selling them at inflated prices on eBay or trying to find a substitution for the orange “super food.”

“It’s been a difficult year,” says Evan Lunde, Marketing Manager for Libby’s Pumpkin. Libby’s Pumpkin, owned by NestlĂ©, grows and processes around ninety-five percent of all the canned pumpkin in the U.S.

But now the good news:  this year's harvest was much better.

Grocery stores are starting to see their shelves restocked now, and according to Lunde, should see a steady supply through this upcoming baking season and also throughout the next year.

That should be plenty for the 50 million pumpkin pies that Libby’s estimates are made each year.

But even so, Lunde says he’s still going to hold onto the last few cans from last year’s harvest. “There actually were six cans left. We did hold on to those cans as kind of a memento of the year and we still have those and they are sitting in my office.”

So, by Thanksgiving all should be good.  Have a safe Halloween, folks.

An Extremely Hostile Environment

For all the folks out there who still proclaim no difference between Obama and the Republican party, just a heads up about what the GOP plans to do if they take the House.

If the GOP wins control of the House next week, senior congressional Republicans plan to launch a blistering attack on the Obama administration's environmental policies, as well as on scientists who link air pollution to climate change.

The GOP's fire will be concentrated especially on the administration's efforts to use the Environmental Protection Agency's authority over air pollution to tighten emissions controls on coal, oil and other carbon fuels that scientists say contribute to global warming.

The attack, according to senior Republicans, will seek to portray the EPA as abusing its authority and damaging the economy with needless government regulations.

In addition, GOP leaders say, they will focus on what they see as distortions of scientific evidence regarding climate change and on Obama administration efforts to achieve by executive rule-making what it failed to win from Congress.

Even if Republicans should win majorities in both the House and Senate, they would face difficulties putting their views into legislative form, since Senate Democrats could use the threat of filibuster to block bills just as the GOP did on climate and other issues during the past year.

Also, Obama could use his veto power.

But the GOP's plans for wide-ranging and sustained investigations by congressional committees could put the EPA and administration environmental policymakers on the defensive and create political pressures that could cause Obama to pull back on environmental issues as the 2012 presidential election draws closer.

In comments last week, White House officials said they are considering hiring more lawyers to the Office of Legal Counsel to gird for the possible battles ahead. Yet even with the White House running interference for the EPA and other agencies, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson conceded that a Republican anti-regulatory campaign could end up effectively hamstringing her agency's work.

The new rules EPA has issued over the last year on vehicle emissions and those expected soon for industry, Jackson said, "would be endangered by many, if not all, of the efforts we've seen to take away the agency's greenhouse gas authority."

Republicans want to do what their corporate masters bid them to do and want to start by declaring war on science and the environment.  If you believe the Republicans are going to focus on "job creation" instead of trying to get Obama impeached, grinding government services to a halt, and unwinding all the progress made in the last two years, you've got another thing coming.

We all do.

Sunday Funnies: Hell-O-Weenie Edition

Boy, did I need Bobblespeak Translations this week.

Gregory: are there explosive packages still out there and should this affect my trick or treating?

Brennan: absolutely

Gregory: so I should be very frightened?

Brennan: at all times

Gregory: Is the same group behind the Christmas Day plot to drop wrapped packages down our chimneys?

Brennan: yes and they targeted synagogues so they covered their bases

Gregory: were they tying to exploit the fact there are no passengers on cargo planes which could be very threatening?

Brennan: right

Gregory: that sounds terrifying

Brennan: it is

Gregory: but there’s a huge loophole because cargo isn’t screened!

Brennan: yes terrorists may just start mailing bombs marked “you may already be a winner”

Gregory: I love those

Brennan: who wouldn’t open one of those?


Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 34

Just because there's an election going on doesn't mean Foreclosuregate is going anywhere.  Yves Smith of NakedCap takes to the NY Times to recap the madcap.  This is the biggest story of 2010 folks.

The banks and other players in the securitization industry now seem to be looking to Congress to snap its fingers to make the whole problem go away, preferably with a law that relieves them of liability for their bad behavior. But any such legislative fiat would bulldoze regions of state laws on real estate and trusts, not to mention the Uniform Commercial Code. A challenge on constitutional grounds would be inevitable

And just think, the same Supreme Court that gave us citizens United would decide on mass contract law abrogation just to please the fat cats.  There's a scary thought.

Asking for Congress’s help would also require the banks to tacitly admit that they routinely broke their own contracts and made misrepresentations to investors in their Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Would Congress dare shield them from well-deserved litigation when the banks themselves use every minor customer deviation from incomprehensible contracts as an excuse to charge a fee? 

The banks certainly seem to think Congress will.  In fact, they're counting on it.  If banks and their investors cut off the anonymous donation fountain ahead of 2012 as a threat to make Congress comply, or worse, just donate buy elections of people who will do their bidding, our democracy is in real trouble either way.

There are alternatives. One measure that both homeowners and investors in mortgage-backed securities would probably support is a process for major principal modifications for viable borrowers; that is, to forgive a portion of their debt and lower their monthly payments. This could come about through either coordinated state action or a state-federal effort. 

Cramdown!  Of course, it dies twice in the House before, so of course it won't pass now.

The large banks, no doubt, would resist; they would be forced to write down the mortgage exposures they carry on their books, which some banking experts contend would force them back into the Troubled Asset Relief Program. However, allowing significant principal modifications would stem the flood of foreclosures and reduce uncertainty about the housing market and mortgage securities, giving the authorities time to devise approaches to the messy problems of clouded titles and faulty loan conveyance.

The people who so carefully designed the mortgage securitization process unwittingly devised a costly trap for people who ran roughshod over their handiwork. The trap has closed — and unless the mortgage finance industry agrees to a sensible way out of it, the entire economy will be the victim. 

The banks won't take the hit.  They'll force a TARP 2 scenario.  And the "fiscally responsible" Republicans will lead the charge on that, guaranteed.

Worst-Case Scenario

OK, so if Tuesday is not just bad, but horrendous for the Dems, they lose 80 seats in the House or come close to or actually lose the Senate...what then?

Four things will prevent the Republicans from doing all the crazy things the Tea Party wants them to do.

One, Americans still really hate the Republicans.  Voters wanted gridlock?  Fine, you got it.  Now work it out.

Two, Republicans will always overreach.  50% + one vote is a permanent mandate for these guys.  They will make the same mistakes they did in 1995 and give Obama a second term.

Three, the corporate masters of the GOP will do everything they can to dispose of the populist Tea Party movement.  Tea Party supporters voted for the Tea Party, not the GOP.  When they get thrown out of the big tent as a result, you're going to see some real fireworks in 2012.

Four, they can't beat Barack Obama's veto without help, and all the centrist Democrats will be gone.

The question is how much pressure will be brought to bear on Obama to do everything the Republicans want?  It will be impressive.  How long can he hold out?  We're going to find out, most likely.

Of course, we can still prevent that worst case scenario.


Ghosts Of War On Halloween

Ladies and gentlemen, David Broder's mind has just snapped in two.

Can Obama harness the forces that might spur new growth? This is the key question for the next two years.
What are those forces? Essentially, there are two. One is the power of the business cycle, the tidal force that throughout history has dictated when the economy expands and when it contracts. Economists struggle to analyze this, but they almost inevitably conclude that it cannot be rushed and almost resists political command. As the saying goes, the market will go where it is going to go.

In this regard, Obama has no advantage over any other pol. Even in analyzing the tidal force correctly, he cannot control it.

What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy.

Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran's ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.

How Obama "contains" Iran as a threat to make the Republicans happy enough to go along with it beyond what we're doing right now without using military force, I have no idea.  I guess it doesn't count as war if we bomb the crap out of them or something, because doing that to Iraq and Afghanistan has worked out so well economically for us.

At this point I have to honestly wonder if Broder's a couple fries short of a Happy Meal.  Attacking Iran to improve our economy?  Risking another world war?  How awesome would that be for our GDP, especially if we reduce our population though war dead?

Jesus wept.  This guy is a Halloween ghoul of the first order.  Not even Bush was that insane.

[UPDATE]  Yggy wins the Internets.

Invading Canada would be much better war stimulus than Broder's crazy Iran plan.

Plus, poutine and Tim Horton's.  How can we lose?

The Final Stretch

Nate Silver is still predicting the GOP taking the House, but not the Senate.  He has helpfully provided a list of House races to watch, and as usual, the first big indicators are Indiana and Kentucky, where polls close at 6 PM eastern.

Baron Hill’s seat, the Indiana 9th, has long been one of the most competitive in the country. I don’t think you should get too swept up in the results of any one particular congressional district — not when there are 435 of them in every corner of the country. But Mr. Hill, a middle-of-the-road Democrat who ordinarily performs strongly in his fairly rural, somewhat Republican-leaning district, but who voted for the health care bill and the stimulus, is in a position that is fairly typical for Democratic incumbents around the country this year. Also, the district has a magic number of 41, which means that it’s right at the cusp of what Republicans would need to take over the House. If they fail to win it, that could be the first sign that they’re liable to do a hair worse than expected. If they win it by a margin in the high single digits or the double digits, however, it could suggest that a lot of Democratic incumbents, many of whom are less skilled than Mr. Hill at understanding how to run a strong campaign in their districts, are going to be in trouble.

Joe Donnelly, in the Indiana 2nd district, is one Democrat whose polls have held up fairly well in spite of the Republican wave.  Our model has him favored by just 2 points, however, and if he were to lose, that would be a good early sign for Republicans.

Indiana’s 8th district, vacated by Brad Ellsworth, is very likely to be a Republican pickup. If they’re having trouble winning it, that’s a reasonably bad sign for them.

Indiana’s 7th and 3rd congressional districts are not likely to be especially competitive. If these races wind up within the single digits, something really weird might be afoot.

I’d be a little bit more cautious about reading too much into the two Kentucky districts on our chart, the 6th and the 3rd, just because Kentucky is a fairly idiosyncratic state to begin with, and both the polling and the Senate race have been strange there. Still, John Yarmuth’s 3rd district, which encompasses Louisville, reflects a strong potential upside case for the G.O.P. if they were to win it.

I'd have to agree.  If the Dems can hold Baron Hill's seat and more, they're going to probably have a decent night and might be able to hold on.  But if John Yarmuth and Ben Chandler go down in Kentucky, the game's pretty much over.

Nate's guide is very thorough, and by 9 PM eastern or so we should have a pretty good idea how big the Republican push is.  Keep it handy for Tuesday night, I plan to.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Last Call

Sharron Angle finally speaks to the press:

There have been major policy questions that remain unanswered from Angle's campaign. Voters have seen Angle's views and ideas on improving Nevada's economy, but the topics of national security and the role the men and woman at Nellis Air Force Base must play in two wars remain unknown.

We've tried to go to her public events and ask, but she won't answer. We've tried to call and email her campaign, but they won't answer. Now, we're finding her at the airport, still trying to get answers.

"I think when it comes to major policy issues, the people of Nevada are most concerned about our jobs, our homes and our economy," she said.

"If you want to be one of 100 U.S. Senators that are deciding on war powers and on ratifying treaties, which is what a Senator has to do, you have to answer these questions," said Reporter Nathan Baca.

"Well, certainly. And I'll answer those questions when I'm the Senator," replied Angle.

You don't need to know what her policy positions are.  You don't need to know where she stands.   You don't need to know how she would vote on issues that involve the country.  You just need to shut up and do what she tells you to do, because she's going to be your Senator.

That's all you need to know.  After all, she's a real American, not one of those elitist arrogant Democrats who thinks they know better than you do.

Now shut up and pull the lever for Sharron Angle.  You'll find out what her positions are later, if she feels like telling you.  We've got a whole raft of candidates who don't have to tell you damn thing about their positions:  Joe Miller, Christine O'Donnell, Ken Buck, Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and dozens more.  You just need to stop worrying and vote for them because they're not Democrats.

And that's all you need to know, apparently.  That's all they'll tell you.  You'll find out what they have planned for the country after you elect them.

Because they are counting on you to accept not getting any answers and voting for them anyway.

You wouldn't like the answers anyway.

Now shut up and pull the lever.

Already Written Off

Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal is quite literally already writing the epitaph for the Democrats as the Journal's John Fund gets the dirt from retiring Rep. Brian Baird to shovel onto Nancy Pelosi's political corpse.

When President Obama was elected in 2008, Mr. Baird was again optimistic that Democrats could bring real reform. But fierce Republican partisanship and the White House decision not to focus on job creation as its "number one, two and three" priority dashed that hope.

"Obama decided we weren't going to have a highway transportation bill because it might have required a gas tax increase," he recalls. After passing a misdirected stimulus bill, Mr. Obama made the fatal error of pushing forward with other priorities: cap and trade, financial services reform, ObamaCare. Each became compromised quickly.

"You don't get real reform by pandering to every special interest. With cap and trade we wound up with a bill that didn't accomplish much, was enormously complicated and expensive." Mr. Baird is especially upset that "good solid members will lose this fall because they took a tough vote for a cap-and-trade bill that never made it through the Senate." He has told environmental groups that they lost sight of the goal of reducing carbon emissions by focusing on the minutia of regulation to achieve it.

For some of the shortcomings of financial regulatory reform, Mr. Baird blames the disillusioning battle over ObamaCare. "When the House had to pass the Senate version of health care unchanged, some members asked why should they invest the mental effort in mastering the details" of financial reform. Mr. Baird found parts of the bill mind-numbing.

Although he voted for it, he says he was troubled that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the entities at the heart of the housing meltdown, weren't addressed. They have clearly exercised undue influence on Capitol Hill, he notes. "When I was first elected I was puzzled why they were holding events in my honor as a mere freshman. I asked myself, why is a federal entity so involved in political activity?"

Fun stuff. Baird goes on at length to do what every politician does in a situation like this: "If only the leadership had listened to me, we wouldn't be in this mess."

The reality is that the Republicans made such a terrible mess that there was no conceivable way that Obama and the Dems could fix the problem in two years.  The Dems did what they had to do:  unpopular triage work to stop the bleeding.  Of course, every inch of that was opposed by Republicans.  They'll make a hash of things over the next two years, blame Obama, and expect to be rewarded with one-party control again.

Who knows where our economy will be by then.  But anyone who thinks they'll be better off two years from now with the GOP in charge clearly hasn't been paying attention.

We always get the government we deserve, I guess.

Coal Moose's Daughter

Sarah and First Consort Todd Palin are turning out for WV Republican John "Space Lasers" Raese today.

Hope she goes to the right state.

Easy to get everything south of Anchorage confused, I guess.

Rallying For Sanity (And Maybe Some Fear)

The thing I'm struck by most about the Rally For Sanity on the National Mall today is that a hell of a lot of people are there (far more than the Beck rally) and that everyone in the Village is really, really pissed off at them.

David Corn keeps ranting on Twitter that the Dems are dooming themselves because none of these people at the rally here are involved with Dem GOTV efforts this weekend.

In fact, the message is shaping up that Colbert and Stewart here are going to cost the Dems the Senate as well as the House because these folks aren't making phone calls and knocking on doors right now, and that this is the biggest mistake in the history of politics that will hand the nation over to the Tea Party, those bastard Comedy Central faux journalists who are not like the Village!

You know, the same Village media that's hiring Andrew Breitbart and taking every opportunity to assume that Dem voters won't turn out anyway (and running stories on the "enthusiasm gap" assumption daily) is complaining about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert being responsible for suppressing the Democratic vote in 2010.


[UPDATE]  Nobody was there or anything.

It was maybe like, seven people.

[UPDATE] And because people still don't buy it:

Your Liberal Media, Ladies And Gentlemen

Digby wraps up yesterday's announcement that ABC has indeed hired Andrew Breitbart of "Hey I lied on my website and got Shirley Sherrod fired for being a racist when she wasn't" and "Hey I lied on my website and destroyed ACORN when they were innocent" fame as one of their Election Night talking heads.

ABC must know that the Shirley Sherrod or ACORN stories aren't the only examples of his mendacious ways. He's made his career out of these racist video hoaxes. It isn't a coincidence. So I think we have to assume they think having a lying racist on the air will bring in some ratings. Whether they foolishly see this as adding "edge" to their allegedly hip "Facebook" program or whether they are making a pitch for Fox's white supremacist audience, it's a journalistic travesty to allow this man and his lying lieutenant anywhere near a legitimate news organization.

But then these news outlets are all making huge profits from the right wing buy out of our democracy, so maybe it's just the price of doing business. 

As I said last night on Twitter, a healthy chunk of Breitbart's shtick is that he believes his website is the future of journalism and the mainstream media is worthless, especially for political coverage.  So now he's doing Election Night political coverage for the mainstream media.  Funny how that works.

But Digby's dead on about the normalization of hard core right wing nut job bloggers like Breitbart, Erick Erickson, Michelle Malkin and Pamela Geller becoming the new class of political mainstream pundits in order to compete with FOX's pundits: Palin, Gingrich, Huckabee, etc.

And that, my friends, really is the future of journalism for the next two years.  Drudge made his bones on Clinton's impeachment, and everyone's lining up for another possible six years of the carnival of the damned.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Last Call

So, we stopped another potential terror attack, this time with packages containing toner cartridges filled with explosive compounds.
Two suspicious packages found abroad that were bound for Jewish organizations in the United States contained a massive amount of explosive material that -- had the suspected terror plot not been thwarted -- would have triggered a powerful blast, a source close to the investigation said Friday.

U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, commonly referred to as AQAP, is behind the plot.

President Barack Obama confirmed that the packages -- intercepted in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates -- originated in Yemen, the stronghold of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"We also know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ... continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies," he said during a press briefing on the incident.

As Steve M. points out, the right's reaction is either that Obama responsible for this (which is their reaction 99% of the time to any quantifiable event, real or imagined) or that AQ is trying to drive away the Teabagger Tsunami that's supposed to wipe out the Dems, or both.  This is the ultimate New Black Panther Party intimidation attack, and AQ is Obamaseekitmuslim's billy club.

You know, because AQ was so clearly afraid of Bush and the Republicans in 2001 and never would have laid a finger on us when they were in charge.

Or maybe, AQ thinks because elections are the key to a democracy, they are trying to disrupt everybody for maximum terror effect, because they are in the terror business.

Hypocritical Mass

School board member Clint McCance told CNN he would resign after writing on his Facebook page that he thought gay youths should kill themselves. While he does offer a half-assed apology, he is quick to point out that he has suffered, too.

"I'm reaping what I've sown," he said. "I've had a lot of hate speech thrown at me and my family on every level." They have temporarily left the state to "escape the harassment" that has ensued. One taste of what gays suffer daily has this guy whining, and he still doesn't see the contrast between well-deserved backlash for public stupidity and full out discrimination against the innocent. He isn't sorry about what he said, he just wants people to forgive him and shut up and forget about it already. Considering the remarks from parents and concerned citizens, I don't think we have to worry about that.

And of course, in case you read it wrong, he clarifies his stance to Anderson Cooper. "I would never support suicide for any kids," McCance said. "I don't support bullying of any kids." Of course. Gotcha. That's why you wrote that you also enjoy the fact that they give each other AIDS and die. I can see how that could be misconstrued. When faced with his actions, Clint McCance gave a slick and unimpressive apology.

It's scary that this man is on a school board. It's scary that he was elected to his position. I will lose sleep pondering how one could say "The only way I'm wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide", and then turn right around and sell the load that he would never support suicides for any kids. He isn't even trying. There are people like this everywhere. This is the face of the ignorance we fight, and it's ugly in the light.

There should be an alarm going off right now, and it's a loud social call to action. We do not have the right to force other people to live how we think they should. No matter what we believe, it is not our right to take out our negativity on children. A grown man going after children is the bully that never grew up. It reeks of the worst of what people can be. We need to see that for what it is and promise to do better and while we're at it show some compassion to kids caught in the middle.

Kids deserve support and love and the right to choose who they will be. Period. Anyone who believes any less than that should not be in McCance's position. Most alarming of all is that this guy may run again. However, instead of insulting gay kids on Facebook, he can play it safe and just stomp on their head.

Bon The Geek

Gotta Get Them While They're Young And Impressionable

Remember the sturm und drang last year when President Obama addressed the nation's schoolchildren?

The Education Department is encouraging teachers to create lesson plans around the speech, using materials provided on the department website that urge students to learn about Obama and other presidents.

"He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens," [Education Secretary] Duncan said in a press release.

But already, some conservatives are crying foul. The chairman of the Florida Republican Party is condemning Obama's speech as an attempt to "indoctrinate America's children to his socialist agenda."

Yes, we have to stop politicians from abusing their positions of power to indoctrinate young schoolchildren with political propaganda like "stay in school" and "study hard"!

Meanwhile, Republicans are totally cool with things like this.

Parents of Cincinnati elementary school students are upset over remarks made by U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt. She reportedly brought up the abortion issue in front of children as young as 6.

The Catholic school asked not to be identified because it doesn't want to be drawn into political controversy.

The school's principal told WLWT that the congresswoman was invited to be a guest speaker at an assembly in which students from first through eighth grade were present, and that most of Schmidt's remarks were not political.The school's principal sent a letter home to parents on that same day informing them that the topic of abortion came up during Schmidt’s appearance. An excerpt of the letter read:

"Unexpectedly, towards the end of her address, Congresswoman Schmidt brought up the topic of abortion, and I am writing you to make you aware of this. Your children may come home with questions, especially if this is a topic that has not been broached in your home. I do not recall the exact words she used, but she paused towards the end of her speech and stated that this would be the only time when she would be ‘political’ in her address. She defined abortion as the taking of a child’s life in the mother’s womb. She indicated that abortion involves the killing of a child before it is born. She was not graphic or any more detailed in this regard. Later, when a child asked about it, she indicated that an abortion is something that a doctor does when a mother requests this. It was not a particularly long segment of her address (1½ minutes or so), and these words may not match the exact words she used, but this description does, I believe, express what your child heard. Her point was to address the increase of governmental activity in the abortion issue and her political resolve to fight against this."

Boy it's a good thing conservative Republicans would never abuse their positions of power to indoctrinate our children with political propaganda.  The nerve of that Obama...

Oh, and Nate Silver has Jean Schmidt winning by 25 points in OH-2.  No matter how you feel about abortion personally, do you think it's appropriate to have a politician discuss it with your six year old?

Didn't think so.

(h/t Kay at Balloon Juice)

Super Size Your GOP Electioneering

A McDonald's franchise in Canton, Ohio is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.  Here's what employees got with their most recent paycheck:

All Ohio Republicans. That's illegal in the Buckeye State, by the way:

No employer or his agent or a corporation shall print or authorize to be printed upon any pay envelopes any statements intended or calculated to influence the political action of his or its employees; or post or exhibit in the establishment or anywhere in or about the establishment any posters, placards, or hand bills containing any threat, notice, or information that if any particular candidate is elected or defeated work in the establishment will cease in whole or in part, or other threats expressed or implied, intended to influence the political opinions or votes of his or its employees.

But of course, the real problem with intimidating voters in America must be those two black guys hanging out near a polling place, not people's employers threatening on company letterhead that raises and benefits will be cut if the wrong people win on Tuesday.

FOX would be covering it if it was true, right?

Adam Serwer notes the franchisee, Paul Sigfried of Sigfried Enterprises, apologized when he was busted cold for this...but didn't take back his original statement that Democrats were going to cost his employees benefits and raises. 

Meanwhile, the I'm sure that the Justice Department is very very interested in this case.

I'm Going To Get Ginormous Usage Out Of That Centrist Daleks Tag

At least as long as David Brooks is employed, that is.  Allow me to run this week's barbaric yawp through my universal translator.

President Obama is likely to suffer a pummeling defeat on Tuesday. But the road map for his recovery is pretty straightforward. 

I didn't know Obama was running, but okay.

First, the president is going to have to win back independents. Liberals are now criticizing him for being too timid. But the fact is that Obama will win 99.9 percent of the liberal vote in 2012, and in a presidential year, liberal turnout will surely be high. On the other hand, he cannot survive the defection of the independents. In 2008, independent voters preferred Democrats by 8 percentage points. Now they prefer Republicans by 20 points, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Unless Obama wins back these moderate, suburban indies, there will be a Republican president in 2013. 

"Dear Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, and anyone who thinks Obama wasn't bold enough in the last two years with his agenda and/or is disappointed with him:  screw you.  You don't matter and never will, only the center matters, love Bobo."

Second, Obama needs to redefine his identity. Bill Clinton gave himself a New Democrat label. Obama has never categorized himself so clearly. This ambiguity was useful in 2008 when people could project whatever they wanted onto him. But it has been harmful since. Obama came to be defined by his emergency responses to the fiscal crisis — by the things he had to do, not by the things he wanted to do. Then he got defined as an orthodox, big government liberal who lacks deep roots in American culture.


Over the next two years, Obama will have to show that he is a traditionalist on social matters and a center-left pragmatist on political ones. Culturally, he will have to demonstrate that even though he comes from an unusual background, he is a fervent believer in the old-fashioned bourgeois virtues: order, self-discipline, punctuality and personal responsibility. Politically, he will have to demonstrate that he is data-driven — that even though he has more faith in government than most Americans, he will relentlessly oppose programs when the evidence shows they don’t work. 

"Screw the gays, screw the Latinos, screw the Krugman Keynesians, screw the Democratic base and especially screw the liberals. We must have a Republican President in 2011 or we will have a Republican President in 2013."

Third, Obama will need to respond to the nation’s fear of decline. The current sour mood is not just caused by high unemployment. It emerges from the fear that America’s best days are behind it. The public’s real anxiety is about values, not economics: the gnawing sense that Americans have become debt-addicted and self-indulgent; the sense that government undermines individual responsibility; the observation that people who work hard get shafted while people who play influence games get the gravy. Obama will have to propose policies that re-establish the link between effort and reward.  

"Kill spending on social programs and privatize everything else.  Your liberal base will go along to prevent President Palin. You don't have a choice.  Time to make the little folks suffer for being debt-ridden consumption addicts through puritan guilt, because I'm not giving up a damn thing."

Fourth, Obama has to build an institutional structure to support a more moderate approach. Presidents come into office thinking that they will be able to go ahead and enact policies. Then they realize that they can only succeed if there is a vast phalanx of institutions laboring alongside them.

Liberals already have institutions. To be a center-left leader, Obama will have to mobilize independent institutions as well. These don’t exist in Washington, but they do around the nation. Civic organizations, local business groups and municipal leagues run from Orlando to Kansas City to Seattle. These groups are filled with local leaders who lobby for balanced budgets, infrastructure plans and other worthy causes. If Obama can mobilize these groups, he would not only build coalitions, but he would help heal the venomous rift between the White House and business, which is a cancer on his presidency. 

"Give big business everything they want.  Everything.  Or they will buy a President who will.  Got it?  Now get to work."

Eighty Billion In Our Intel Budget And We Can't Even Murder One Albino Hacker

With today's news that our 2010 intelligence budget was over $80 billion, Jonah Goldberg wants to know why we can't go all Rainbow Six Vegas on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and arrange a closed-casket affair.

I’d like to ask a simple question: Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?

No really, that is the opening sentence of his column, verbatim.

In case you didn’t know, Assange is the Australian computer programmer behind WikiLeaks, a massive — and massively successful — effort to disclose secret or classified information. In a series of recent dumps, he unveiled thousands upon thousands of classified documents from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Military and other government officials insist that WikiLeaks is doing serious damage to American national security and is going to get people killed, including brave Iraqis and Afghans who’ve risked their lives and the lives of their families to help us.

Even Assange agrees. He told the New Yorker earlier this year that he fully understands innocent people might die as a result of the “collateral damage” of his work and that WikiLeaks may have “blood on our hands.” WikiLeaks is easily among the most significant and well-publicized breaches of American national security since the Rosenbergs gave the Soviets the bomb.

So again, I ask: Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?

It’s a serious question.

Because that's how a serious SOCOM operator like Jonah Goldberg rolls.  Anyone who has pesky facts about the very real war Cheney's fake intel operation drummed up needs to be rubbed out, says the guy in the cushy office chair.

The far more bloody and treasonous act of getting us into a war with Iraq?  Totally justified.  Serious questions from a hard, hard man.

And by "hard", I mean his cogitator is filled with cement.  Flying Spaghetti Monster save us from these idiots.  The country is on the verge of implosion.  We don't have time for this crap right now.  Just put on your black hoodie and sneak around outside Assange's hotel whistling your ninja theme song there Jonah, and take care of the problem yourself, huh?

Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 33

Today's Foreclosuregate story comes from big Barry Ritholtz's place.  Like a dam about to break, the flood of foreclosed homes waiting behind the Foreclosuregate logjam will drop home prices like a rock by inundating the market.  So even if the banks get their way and resume foreclosures, the sheer number of them will still drive home prices down like a 20-pound sledgehammer on an eggshell.  This "shadow inventory" of foreclosures measures in the millions, folks.

It is very important to understand that this enormous shadow inventory of distressed properties that will eventually be thrown onto the resale market is heavily concentrated in a limited number of metros.  According to data provided by Lender Processing Services, 52% of the nationwide 90 day delinquencies and 58% of the defaults are concentrated in 25 major metros.  The following table shows this concentration.


If you look carefully at the distressed property figures for the top four metros, you’ll see that the number of residences which will be pouring onto their housing markets in the next 1-2 years is enormous.  Anyone who thinks that prices have bottomed in the Miami, New York, Los Angeles or Chicago metro areas had better take a good, hard look at these statistics.

That number is nearly a million properties in just New York, Miami, LA and Chicago.   There's another million and change in other metro areas.  There's close to 600,000 just in Florida's major cities of Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville, and that's not including other cities in the state.

Oh but it gets worse folks.  Much much worse.  How many shadow inventory foreclosures are coming in 2011 and 2012?

An incredible 14% of the nearly 54 million first liens in the country are now either delinquent or in default.  This chart from the Calculated Risk blog shows the steady growth since 2005.


To come up with a total for the shadow inventory, let’s first add the total number of loans in default to those delinquent 90 days or more since we know that these loans are headed for foreclosure or a short sale.  That comes to 4.5 million properties.  Based on the cure rate for loans delinquent at least 60 days, we will add 95% of those 60-day delinquencies.  That is an additional 723,000 residences.  For the same reason, we will add 70% of those delinquent for at least 30 days – 1.25 million properties.

And, of course, let’s not forget the REOs that have not yet been placed on MLS listings by the bank servicers.  We’ll be conservative and estimate them at 500,000.

Adding all of these together, we come up with a total of roughly 6.97 million residences which are almost certainly going to be thrown onto the resale market as distressed properties at some point in the not-too-distant future.  This massive number of homes will put enormous downward pressure on sale prices.  To believe that prices are firming now is to completely ignore this shadow inventory.  Ignore it at your own risk.

Seven million foreclosures yet to be worked through on the other side of that Foreclosuregate mess, folks.  Seven.  Million.  We're nowhere near the bottom of the housing market.  Nowhere close.  We've got a long way to fall still...and that's going to create even more foreclosures down the road as more homeowners end up underwater.

And that's if the whole thing doesn't blow due to Foreclosuregate.  Or hell, both may happen.

Have a nice day.

The Kroog Versus The Dark Times Ahead

Paul Krugman drops one final warning about the GOP's real goals should they take the House.

In the late-1990s, Republicans and Democrats were able to work together on some issues. President Obama seems to believe that the same thing can happen again today. In a recent interview with National Journal, he sounded a conciliatory note, saying that Democrats need to have an “appropriate sense of humility,” and that he would “spend more time building consensus.” Good luck with that.

After all, that era of partial cooperation in the 1990s came only after Republicans had tried all-out confrontation, actually shutting down the federal government in an effort to force President Bill Clinton to give in to their demands for big cuts in Medicare.

Now, the government shutdown ended up hurting Republicans politically, and some observers seem to assume that memories of that experience will deter the G.O.P. from being too confrontational this time around. But the lesson current Republicans seem to have drawn from 1995 isn’t that they were too confrontational, it’s that they weren’t confrontational enough.

Another recent interview by National Journal, this one with Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has received a lot of attention thanks to a headline-grabbing quote: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

If you read the full interview, what Mr. McConnell was saying was that, in 1995, Republicans erred by focusing too much on their policy agenda and not enough on destroying the president: “We suffered from some degree of hubris and acted as if the president was irrelevant and we would roll over him. By the summer of 1995, he was already on the way to being re-elected, and we were hanging on for our lives.” So this time around, he implied, they’ll stay focused on bringing down Mr. Obama. 

Throw in a refusal to do anything about the economy other than cut taxes for the rich (and say they don't need spending cuts to offset them) and you have a recipe for complete disaster ahead.  All I have to say America is if two years isn't enough time for Obama to fix the economy and you want to give the Republicans a shot, when the Republicans actually make things far worse you might want to reconsider in 2012.

Meanwhile, don't say you weren't warned.

Fumigating For Roaches

One of the lawyers leading the foreclosure fight is is from my old neck of the woods in Western NC:  O. Max Gardner III.  Max has been running boot camps for lawyers to beat foreclosures because the banks don't have the proper paperwork, and he's been running them for years.

Now his graduates are about to rip the banks to pieces.  Show me the note!

"He's Atticus Finch," said April Charney, an attorney with Jacksonville Legal Aid in Florida, referring to the lawyer in the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" who is seen as a model for lawyers protecting the disadvantaged.
Charney attended one of Gardner's boot camps in 2007, and she has known him since 2004.

Gardner has been thrust in the limelight recently thanks to what his techniques have uncovered: banks have been taking shortcuts in their efforts to foreclose on homes quickly.

Banks and their lawyers have been cranking out paperwork faster than anyone could properly review it, and they are often making mistakes.

"He's been on top of this from the beginning. He's on the bleeding edge," said David Treywick, a Mount Pleasant, South Carolina-bankruptcy attorney who views Gardner as a leader in the field.

Lawyers representing borrowers have started demanding that banks show all their paperwork to move forward with foreclosures.

To Gardner's critics, that's exactly what's wrong with the North Carolina lawyer: he is keeping insolvent borrowers in their homes for longer than they ought to be living there.

Counsel opposing Gardner often view him as an agitator who gums up the bankruptcy process, said Joseph Greer III, a corporate bankruptcy lawyer in North Carolina who often works with creditors.

"Max has never been afraid to go his own way, and isn't one that needs to fit into a crowd," Greer said.

But he wins.  And he wins because "Show me the note!" works.  Now his version of Dumbledore's Army is taking on the megabanks all over the country.  And Max and his students are about to roll some big, big people.

Have you asked YOUR mortgage holder to "Show me the note!" yet?

Disuni-Tea Party

Folks, not every Republican out there is voting for the Tea Party, and the more extreme the candidate, the more moderate Republican voters are realizing they have to pitch in for the Dems.

For lifelong Republican Joe Errigo, deciding to cross party lines and support a liberal Democrat for New York governor wasn't nearly as difficult as one might expect.

Republican candidate Carl Paladino -- backed by the conservative Tea Party movement -- raised such political hackles he spawned a "Republicans for Cuomo" movement supporting Democrat Andrew Cuomo.
Similar groups can be found in heated races elsewhere nationwide, often those featuring Tea Party-endorsed candidates, attacked by Democrats and some moderate Republicans as extreme.

"When I saw his website, I said nobody could be that dumb," said Errigo, an upstate New York Assemblyman, of Paladino, a Buffalo developer and political newcomer.

"He has alienated every group that I could think of," said Errigo. "He should write a book on how to lose an election."

In Delaware, where Christine O'Donnell has Tea Party support, Republicans backing Democrat Chris Coons include a former state judge and former U.S. Congressman. A "Republicans for Coons" Facebook site reads: "Because we just can't support Christine O'Donnell."

In Arizona, "Republicans for Giffords" are backing Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords over conservative Iraq War veteran Jesse Kelly.

In Nevada, incumbent Democrat Sen. Harry Reid, who faces Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, counts among his Republican supporters an array of influential gaming and casino executives.

"Mainstream Republicans are refusing to support the latest crop of insurgent candidates in the Republican Party because of their extremist beliefs," said Deirdre Murphy, spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington.

Not everyone on the red side wants two years of gridlock, chaos, and nothing getting done in Washington.  There's a big difference between 1994 and 2010:  in 1994, voters liked Republicans.  In 2010, they still hate the GOP and they hate them more than they hate the Dems, and as bad as the Dem approval ratings are in Congress, the Republicans in Congress have been consistently polling worse all year.

It's starting to pull a lot of Republican voters around.
There are Republicans in some races who will hold their nose and vote for the Donk just to keep the nutbars out.

And at this point, the Dems need all the help they can get.

And The Meek Shall Inherit...Nothing? Part 3

In Florida's Senate race, Kendrick Meek is denying yesterday's story that Bill Clinton tried to talk him out of the race.  Rather, Meek says it was Charlie Crist who asked him to drop out.

"He never asked me to get out of the race. I never told him I was getting out of the race," Meek said, referring to Clinton. "Governor Crist talked to me about getting out of the race. I recommend to the governor that he should consider getting out of the race."

The allegations bubbled up Thursday when Crist, the Republican-turned-independent Senate candidate, said he spoke with Meek and "several people" at the White House about having Meek step out of the race.
Crist, who appeared on Fox News, would not specify to whom he spoke to at the White House, but said he spoke to Meek about the possible shift and that Meek was "considering it."

Crist said that he spoke with Doug Band, a counselor to Clinton, who Crist said acted as an intermediary, relaying information about whether or not Meek would end his Senate bid.

Meek denied any intent to exit the three-way race among Rubio, Crist and himself.

"Any rumor or any statement that I decided to get out of this race is inaccurate at best," Meek said at a Thursday night news conference.

Meek's clearly not going anywhere, but if he's right about Crist going to the White House to get Meek out and using the Big Dog's pull in Florida to do it, I've got to say this is going to haunt both President Obama and the Big Dog for some time.  All this does is hand the race to Marco Rubio, and he's having a huge laugh about this.

The Meek situation was handled with total incompetence by the White House from Day One when they made it known they'd rather work with Crist than their own man.  And now it's all coming back on them.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Last Call

This ad is only running after 10 PM for the next couple of days, but it's just devastating.

The Kentucky Democratic party is running this in Lexington and Bowling Green, but I'll put it up here.

Only a few days left until the election.  Please folks, in many of these House and Senate races the margin of victory will be only a few points.   A couple points in either direction nationally can make the difference between the Dems keeping and losing the House.  Because this is what's going to happen if the GOP wins Tuesday:


And The Meek Shall Inherit...Nothing? Part 2

Turns out those rumors about Kendrick Meek dropping out of the Florida Senate race and backing Charlie Crist in order to stop Marco Rubio were 100% true...and none other than the Big Dog himself went down to seal the deal.

But at the last second, Kendrick Meek said "Screw you guys."

Bill Clinton sought to persuade Rep. Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race for Senate during a trip to Florida last week — and nearly succeeded.

Meek agreed — twice — to drop out and endorse Gov. Charlie Crist’s independent bid in a last-ditch effort to stop Marco Rubio, the Republican nominee who stands on the cusp of national stardom.

Meek, a staunch Clinton ally from Miami, has failed to broaden his appeal around the state and is mired in third place in most public polls, with a survey today showing him with just 15 percent of the vote. His withdrawal, polls suggest, would throw core Democratic voters to the moderate governor, rocking a complicated three-way contest and likely throwing the election to Crist.

The former president’s top aide, Doug Band, initially served as the intermediary between Meek and Crist, and Clinton became involved only when Meek signaled that he would seriously consider the option, Clinton spokesman Matt McKenna confirmed to POLITICO.

“The argument was: ‘You can be a hero here. You can stop him, you can change this race in one swoop,’” said another Democrat familiar with the conversations, who said Clinton had bluntly told Meek that he couldn’t win the race.

Clinton did not dangle a job in front of Meek, who gave up a safe House seat to run for the Senate, but instead made the case that the move would advance the congressman’s future prospects, said a third Democrat familiar with the conversations.

Clinton campaigned with Meek in Florida on Oct. 19 and 20, and thought he had won Meek over. But as the week wore on, Meek lost his enthusiasm for the arrangement, spurred in part, a third Democratic source said, by his wife’s belief that he could still win the race. Clinton spoke with Meek again at week’s end, three Democrats said, and again Meek said he would drop out.

“It was a completely done deal,” one source said.

And now, thanks to Politico here, Florida Dems are going to either going to vote Meek out of anger...or stay home. Either way, Marco Rubio just benefited greatly. He should at least have the decency to send Ben Smith a gift basket and a quality fedora.

As for Big Dog, it's pretty clear you've got people working for you who want to make you look like an asshole. That's because you do look like an asshole, but you have a serious operational security problem. Your peeps went to Ben Smith and ganked you. Hardcore.

You guys look like a bunch of fools. All of you. Got played by the Village like a bunch of freshman Congressional hicks from the sticks and Smith just ate your lunch.

It just blows my mind, this amateur crap.

[UPDATE]  Meek's staying in the race according to the presser on CNN just now (10 PM).  Awesome.

Epic Not Even My Worst Enemy Fail

Not even Christine O'Donnell deserves to be treated like a piece of meat, as Gawker goes straight for the garbage can with "I Had A One Night Stand With Christine O'Donnell".

It really didn't take very long for Christine to make her move. She'd grabbed my hand on the way from the apartment to South Street, so I can't say I was totally surprised when she leaned in to kiss me soon after we arrived at the bar.

I could tell when we first met that Christine was older than me. I was 25, and although I never asked her age, I'd have guessed she was in her early 30s. It was only recently that I found out her real age and learned she was in her late 30s when we hooked up. There's a 14-year gap between us, but she looks good for her age. I don't think I'd heard the word "cougar" yet at that point, but that's probably what I'd call her.

Aggressive is another word I'd use to describe her. At the bar, she confessed to me that her aunt really hadn't been sleeping. She hadn't even gone to her apartment to check, she said. She had remembered me from our five-minute meeting the previous summer, and used the story about her aunt as an excuse to knock on my door. She'd set her sights on me from the beginning.

Christine was pretty intense, and she was pretty outspoken that night, but we didn't talk politics much. Her aunt had told me that Christine ran for Senate a year earlier and had lost, so I knew a bit about her background. But the most political she got that night was when she said she attended lots of events in Washington that attracted congressmen and senators. "It would be nice to have a good-looking young man to attend those with me," she added.

It gets worse from there.  He also has pictures.  I also have standards, so I'm not posting them.

Look folks, politically the woman is toxic.  She's ill-equipped to be a United States Senator, absolutely.  I would not vote for her if I lived in Delaware.  She's against everything I stand for, or nearly everything, and the rest she's just making up to the point of willful ignorance.

But she is a human being, worthy of basic human courtesy and decency, and nobody should be treated like this.  Nobody.  Period.  This pile of smoking misogynistic fecal matter is beneath even Gawker.  You want to go after her politics?  Go after her politics.  You want to go after her for picking up someone 14 years younger?  That just makes you a complete bunch of assholes.  Beat her on the issues.  Leave the personal stuff out of it.

Red card, Gawker.  Red card and EPIC FAIL.

Oh, and the Village Voice says the Dudebro in question is one Brad Kurisko.  Ass.

Some Things Never Change

Maybe I went a bit overboard on Headstomp Guy being a message of voter intimidation and oppression, but this story is plain old flat out going after the minority vote in Houston.

Misleading fliers are showing up on the windshields of vehicles at a predominately African-American polling place in Houston that claim to come from a non-existent group called the "Black Democratic Trust of Texas."
The fliers were placed on the windshields of vehicles at and near the Sunnyside Early Voting location and tell voters not to voter straight Democrat, according to Texas Democrats and local news reports.

"Republicans are trying to trick us!" the flier reads. "When you vote straight ticket Democrat, it is actually voting for Republicans and your vote doesn't count. We are urging everyone to VOTE for BILL WHITE. A VOTE for BILL WHITE is a VOTE for the ENTIRE DEMOCRATIC ticket. We have fought too hard to let Republicans use voting machines to deny us our basic rights. We must guard the change and NOT VOTE STRAIGHT TICKET DEMOCRAT!"

"YES WE CAN," the flier reads.

Yes we can...mislead African-American voters not to vote for anything other than the Governor's race and not vote for anyone in House races. Bill White is the Democrat running for Texas Governor against Rick Perry, but there are a number of close House races in Texas too, especially around Houston and Dallas.

Pretty slimy stuff, and we saw this two years ago too in some places.

This is what real voter oppression looks like, folks.  How much more out there is not being caught?  And please note that this has been going on for years now among minority communities:

Results from the survey can be used to estimate roughly how many votes were "lost" in 2008 due to administrative problems, such as registration problems and long lines. Approximately 3 million registered voters appear to have been excluded from voting because of registration problems, 2 million could not find where to vote, 2 million did not have proper identification, and between 2 and 3 million encountered lines that were too long. Perhaps 3 million potential absentee votes were lost because requested ballots never arrived. While these are ballpark figures, and there may be some double counting due to people reporting multiple problems, they suggest that a significant fraction of non-voters might be brought into the electorate through administrative improvements to elections.

And the vast majority of these problems in 2008 were in minority precincts.

Boom, Headshot, Part 6

From Kentucky to Virginia to Washington State, it's GOP thugs a-poppin'.

A 72-year-old man was arrested for allegedly assaulting a 23-year-old activist protesting Dino Rossi's Republican campaign for Senate in Washington state yesterday, according to local reports.

The incident occured outside GOP headquarters in Walla Walla County where the demonstrator, Christie Stordeur, was "one of five protesters standing about 40 feet from the entrance of the office," according to the Tri-City Herald.

Stordeur and the other protesters "were wearing bags over their heads and holding a sign that looked like a check." That's when Victor Phillips, according to a Sheriff's deputy on scene, walked over to Stordeur to "lift her bag off her head." When Stordeur "lifted her arm in defense," Phillips hit it "with 'force.'"

The Herald reports that the deputy on scene "immediately stepped between the two and arrested Phillips on a charge of investigation of assault."

Phillips' explanation, as recounted in a police report filed after the arrest and obtained by the Herald: "Phillips said he wanted to get a picture of the protesters."

Yeah, big man picking on a co-ed with a bag on her head.  Free speech for me and not for thee, huh?

And just wait, 2012 will be worse.  Count on it.  What if that deputy had not been there?

The Pearl-Clutching Over Jon Stewart

I don't get it.  America has no problem apparently with Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, or the entire FOX News network being completely and rabidly political.  But Jon Stewart better watch himself!

“He’s moving to a very new position – and very much runs the risk of alienating some people who liked him because he didn’t seem to be positioning himself as in the mainstream of political life,” said Geoffrey Baym, who actually studies “The Daily Show” at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Stewart, he said, is transforming himself from an “outside figure” to a “mainstream political player.

“He’s walking a tightrope here,” Baym said.

A liberal executive who sometimes works with Stewart, and who declined to be quoted by name for fear of jeopardizing the relationship, said Stewart had “gotten in way over his head.”

This executive worried that Stewart wouldn’t have either the political or the comic impact he sought. “It’s one thing doing some stunt or doing some shows from Washington this week,” this person said. “It’s another thing to organize a rally whose goal is muddy at best.”

I suppose if he had Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and other FOX News commentators/2012 GOP hopefuls at his rally, the goal wouldn't be so muddy...just dirty.

Boom, Headshot, Part 5

The Lexington Herald-Leader has finally weighed in on Headstomp '10 and does not like what they see from the Rand Paul camp.

The Paul campaign condemned the attack, disassociated itself from the volunteer who stomped the woman's head and called on activists "on both sides" to avoid "physical altercations of any kind."

The problem with the Paul statement is that only one side, his side, resorted to violence.

We keep hearing this is the year of the angry voter. But what motivates people to physically assault a woman who's carrying a political sign they don't like?

Certainly not respect for the Constitution, which enshrines the right of all citizens to express their opinions without fear. Not a belief in the rule of law. Not common decency.

Some members of Paul's Tea Party issue paranoid warnings that President Barack Obama and Democrats are totalitarians out to impose Marxist control over our country.

But look which side produced the goon squad.

And as bad as the incident itself was, it's really Rand Paul's "both sides are guilty here" reaction that I think is really angering the hell out of people here.  No, both sides are not resorting to physical violence.  One side is.  Rand Paul's side.

"I don't want this jerk as my Senator" is dawning on a lot of people here, and if this doesn't motivate you to get out there and vote for Jack Conway, I'm just not sure what else ever will.  We'll see who we choose on Tuesday.

I'm Crushing Your Head (Of Station Programming)

It's Christine O'Donnell's America.  You're just living in it.  That is until she crushes you.

The Christine O'Donnell campaign is apologizing to WDEL after it demanded that video of an O'Donnell appearance on "The Rick Jensen Show" be destroyed and threatened a lawsuit if it wasn't.

O'Donnell, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, answered a variety of questions from listeners as well as the host on Tuesday. The audio and video of interview segment was broadcast live on WDEL 1150AM and streamed on, the station's website.

At the conclusion of the interview, a representative from the campaign who had been in the broadcast studio with O'Donnell asked that the video be turned over to the campaign and not released. He stated that the videotaping had not been approved by the O'Donnell campaign.

O'Donnell also told show host Rick Jensen that she would sue the radio station if the video was released.

WDEL routinely posts audio and video podcasts of interview segments on O'Donnell's appearance on WDEL in September had also been recorded and posted on the web.

O'Donnell's campaign manager, Matt Moran, called WDEL and demanded that the video be immediately turned over to the campaign and destroyed. Moran threatened to "crush WDEL" with a lawsuit if the station didn't comply.

An attorney representing the O'Donnell campaign contacted WDEL's law firm Hogan Lovells and initially asked that the video not be released. WDEL's attorney asserted that the interview and video were in compliance with all applicable laws, was clearly protected free speech under the First Amendment, and that the campaign had no grounds to demand the station withhold it from the public. 

Oh wait, there's that pesky First Amendment again!  You know, the one Christine O'Donnell has no clue about?

Seriously guys.  The O'Donnell campaign wanted the video destroyed or they would "crush" the station with a lawsuit.  This woman isn't insane, or funny, or snark-worthy, or infamous, or silly.

She is dangerous.  And as a US Senator, she would be a horrible mistake.  She is someone when faced with an interview she doesn't like, wants it stricken from the record and the interview never aired.  She feels she can intimidate anyone she wants by threatening to "crush" them under a lawsuit.  The rest of you peons are just there to vote for her, and shut up, that's why.

These people are amazing.  Simply amazing.

If It's Thursday...

New jobless claims down this week to 434k.  Continuing claims is where the news is at.

The number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid dropped 122,000 to 4.36 million in the week ended Oct. 16. That was the lowest reading since the week ended Nov. 22, 2008. The prior week's number was revised up to 4.48 million.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast so-called continuing claims falling to 4.40 million from a previously reported 4.44 million. The continuing claims data covered the survey period for the household survey from which the unemployment rate is derived.

The number of people on emergency benefits declined 258,102 to 3.78 million in the week ended Oct. 9.

A whole bunch of people, nearly 400k, fell off unemployment benefits.  Some of them got jobs, I'm sure.  Not all of them, however.  They have vanished into the realm of the 99ers this week.  A lot more are going to follow.

Moose And Rover Must Fight

The battle for 2012 is officially underway in the GOP, as Karl Rove has launched a salvo at Sarah Palin.

Karl Rove told a British newspaper Wednesday that he has serious doubts about Sarah Palin's viability as a presidential candidate.

The former senior adviser to George W. Bush told The Daily Telegraph of London that he questioned whether Americans thought the former Alaska governor had the "gravitas" for the "most demanding job in the world."

It was a stronger stand than Rove took earlier in the week in addressing Palin's prospects for 2012.

Ouch. Oh, it gets worse.

"With all due candor, appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery Channel, I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of 'that helps me see you in the Oval Office,'" Rove told the Telegraph, which said he remains a considerable force on the U.S. political scene.

Rove cited the promotional clip for "Sarah Palin's Alaska," saying it could be especially detrimental to any political campaign as it features the mother of five in the great outdoors saying "I would rather be doing this than in some stuffy old political office," the Telegraph reported.

Folks, if Karl Rove, the man who wants the GOP to win and have a permanent chokehold on our country, is trying to sink Sarah Palin two years before the election, he knows she has no real chance to beat Obama.

No matter happens Tuesday, the road to 2012 is going to be brutal, ugly, and devastating. If anything, America seeing how the Tea Party reacts with just a taste of power may be the impetus for stopping them cold in 2012.

Oaf Of Office

The Tea Party's efforts at minority outreach and religious tolerance has hit a bit of a snag.

A prominent member of the Tea Party movement is defending a statement he made about the Muslim representative of Minnesota's 5th District.

On Saturday, Judson Phillips, who heads the Tea Party Nation, published a column suggesting Representative Keith Ellison is unfit to serve because he is Muslim.

"There are a lot of liberals who need to be retired this year, but there are few I can think of more deserving than Keith Ellison," writes Phillips. "Ellison is one of the most radical members of Congress. He has a ZERO rating from the American Conservative Union. He is the only Muslim member of Congress. He supports the Counsel for American Islamic Relations, HAMAS and has helped Congress send millions of tax [dollars] to terrorists in Gaza."

Contrary to Phillip's assertion, Ellison is not the only Muslim in Congress. Indiana Democratic Representative Andre Carson is also Muslim.

The column was written in support of independent candidate Lynne Torgerson, who has herself said some controversial things about Muslims.

Hey guys?  Article VI of the Constitution.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Does this mean then that the Tea Party has stopped with this whole "Obama's a Muslim" thing then?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Last Call

Ever wonder why despite all the really important benefits in health care reform are falling on deaf ears, and why Republicans are able to get away with proposing reform ideas that are already in the existing legislation?

It's possible that there might be a concerted public relations effort to kill the law.  Greg Sargent:

Why are Democrats on the defensive over health reform? This statistic, buried in today's big New York Times piece on that very topic, is striking and deserves some more attention:
Opponents of the legislation, including independent groups, have spent $108 million since March to advertise against it, according to Evan L. Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks advertising.
That is six times more than supporters have spent, including $5.1 million by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the new law, Mr. Tracey said.
So $100 million in ads tarring health reform have run since Obama signed the bill into law in March. And many ads on health care contain multiple falsehoods and distortions. Is this entirely to blame for making health reform a political liability for many Dems? No, of course not. Though majorities have steadily said they like individual provisions, the overall law was unpopular in the lead-up to passage. Dems have not done what they needed to do to change the public's mind at the rate they had hoped to.
But even if the massive post-passage ad campaign against the law is only part of the story, it's nonetheless significant. Clearly, those heavily invested in returning the majority to the GOP recognized that a concerted campaign to tar this major Dem achievement -- after it had been enshrined into law -- had to be a central feature of their strategy. It seems likely that this massive ad onslaught may have been one key factor in preventing public opinion from turning around quickly enough.

$100 million just on ads trashing "Obamacare", all bought and paid for and ran after the bill was signed into law, all run to benefit Republicans throughout the year and leading up to the election.

The best free speech money can buy, folks...and a Congress to go along with it.

You're A Hard Hobbit To Break

Considering income derived from shooting the Lord of the Rings trilogy represents, oh, the entire last decade of New Zealand's tourism industry, you can excuse the country for making arrangements that Peter Jackson shoots his two upcoming Hobbit films there as well.

A short-lived union boycott prompted Warner Bros. representatives to travel to New Zealand this week to review the studio's decision to shoot Peter Jackson's two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy in New Zealand.

Fearing the loss of the project worth an estimated $500 million and damage to the reputation of New Zealand's fledgling film industry, Prime Minister John Key stepped in, negotiating a deal to keep the project that was announced late on Wednesday.

"An agreement has been reached between the New Zealand government and Warner Bros. that will enable the two Hobbit movies to be directed by Sir Peter Jackson to be made in New Zealand," Key told a news conference.

Jackson's adaptation of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" was shot in his home country of New Zealand and garnered major international publicity for New Zealand. Warner Bros. sold nearly $3 billion worth of tickets at the box office, and the filmmaker and his team won 11 Academy Awards in 2003, including best film.

Economists said the loss of "The Hobbit" could cost New Zealand up to $1.5 billion and the danger of losing the film brought thousands of protestors into the streets in the past week.

New Zealanders.  Very pleasant, and not stupid.  And they say cottage industries are dead.  Reminds me of the spat Britain's MI-5 had with the James Bond franchise shooting in and around their HQ and the British government said "You have a budget for MI-5 because the James Bond franchise has brought England a hell of a lot of money, so you will do this or the Exchequer will become quite cross with you."  (If I recall, the movie was Die Another Day.)

Needless to say, they allowed it.  Hell, the NZ PM got involved with this Hobbit fracas.  One point five billion bucks at stake for the country, you'd better believe it.

Point / Counterpoint

You have a choice on Tuesday.

GOP House leader John Boehner, today:

"This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles," Boehner said during an appearance on conservative Sean Hannity's radio show.

"I love Judd Gregg, but maybe he doesn't get it," Boehner said Wednesday in a rebuke to Gregg, the top Republican on budget issues in the Senate who's set to retire at the end of his term in January. "We're going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can."

"To the extent the president wants to work with us, in terms of our goals," the Ohio Republican explained, "we'd welcome his involvement."

President Obama, today:  (PS, Way to go, Oliver!)

"But I don’t go into the next two years assuming that there’s just going to be gridlock. We’re going to keep on working to make sure that we can get as much done as possible because folks are hurting out there. What they’re looking for is help on jobs, help on keeping their homes, help on sending their kids to college. And if I can find ways for us to work with Republicans to advance those issues, then that’s going to be my priority."

Based on those statements, going forward which one of those two do you think should be charge of the country?  Which one sounds like they are working for the American people, and which one wants to work to increase their own political power?

Which one of those should voters reward on Tuesday?

Why There's Real Hope For The Dems

The bottom line on Nate Silver's latest House model (where the GOP gains 52 seats and takes the House easily) is not that the Republicans are assured of taking the House, but that there's a pretty good chance that the polls are off a bit.  Even a 2 point change in the polls favoring one party or the other from Nate's current data makes a huge difference.  To whit, his chart:

If the polling data is underestimating the Democrats this year even by just 2 points, Nate's model says they keep the House...barely. Likewise, if the data is underestimating the Republicans by just 2 points, they gain 65 House seats.

Five points either way gives 75 seats for the Republicans in the red direction, but blue-wise it would cut the Dem losses to just 22 seats.

Such a five point underestimation happened in 1988, according to Nate. The Dems did much better than anticipated, but Bush Sr. still won the Presidency.

It's all about turnout now. Two points could mean dozens of house seats and control of the House. Make sure you vote, folks.

Boom, Headshot, Part 4

Here's another video for you of a man being removed from a campaign event.

So what was this man's crime?  Being a known Democrat at a public event for GOP Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia.

One man attending was John Taylor, a member of the Louisa County Democratic Committee and a backer of Rick Waugh, Cantor's Democratic opponent. Taylor and two others were asked to leave the coffee shop. County police then subdued Taylor, as can be seen in a video shot by his son with his cell phone.

Events like these raise questions about the decorum of the man who would be in such a powerful position on Capitol Hill. Violence at campaign stops, regardless of who may be at fault, is not something commonplace in Virginia politics.

If Cantor says he will meet and debate voters, he should have the nerve to do so. He should not hide behind his party's gatekeepers and a rural police department.

The coffee shop owner asked all Democrats to leave his establishment before Cantor showed up, and the assembled identified Taylor as a member of the County Democratic Committee.   Taylor and his son were asked to leave.  Taylor refused.  You saw the result.  But since in America in 2010 we have to assume that any Democrat at a Republican campaign appearance is a danger, they have to be forcibly restrained and removed whenever they are identified.

Was the coffee shop owner within his rights to kick Taylor out?  Yes.  Was it the right thing to do in a society that holds free speech sacred?

You tell me. Matt Osborne has a brilliant post at C&L on this whole mess.

[UPDATEDigby wins the Internets.

What do you do with people like this? They just spent the last year and a half disrupting Townhall meetings like a bunch of crazed jackals. (They're still doing it.) Yet if anyone (even the press) asks unpleasant questions or holds a sign they disapprove of at one of their political events, they either have them restrained by private security or arrested by the police. And that's if their supporters don't assault them first and then demand an apology from the protester.

This goes way beyond hypocrisy. This is a group of people who truly believe that constitutional protections only apply to them --- in their minds, the founders wrote it to protect good conservative Christian people from the traitors who would challenge their supremacy. 

The rest of us have rights subject to approval of the Tea-ranny of the Majority.  
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