Monday, March 29, 2010

Last Call

Methinks the Teabaggers doth protest too much.
Supporters of the Tea Party movement said Monday that critics have unfairly portrayed them as an uneducated and inarticulate band of activists with little knowledge of politics.

Mitzi Butler, an area coordinator of the Tea Party Express Tour, chastised critics who describe her fellow grassroots activists as, "a bunch of hillbillies with no teeth, and [say] we're stupid."

"We are not stupid," she said in an interview with CNN as the tour was preparing to pull into St. George, a picturesque Utah city nestled in a valley of cliffs. "We are well versed. And I think we're smarter than what we've been sending to represent us in Congress."
Gosh, sweeping and untrue generalizations about groups of people isn't fun when you're on the receiving end of it, guys.  Please keep that in mind the next time you feel like comparing the Dems to the Nazis, or terrorists, or traitors, or tyrants, or inhuman monsters.

Or all of the above.  You're not stupid hillbillies any more than Barack Obama is the Muslim anti-Christ, ya dig?

Throw The Book At This Guy

Norman Laboon, the man who put a death threat against GOP House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and his family on Youtube?  Yeah.  Good for Obama's DoJ to go after this asshole, and I hope he goes away for a long, long time.
In the video, Norman Leboon says Cantor will "receive my bullets in your office, remember they will be placed in your heads. You and your children are Lucifer's abominations."

The San Francisco office of the FBI received a copy of the video on March 26, according to the affidavit in the case. You can read the press release and affidavit on the case here.

The affidavit paints a picture of Leboon as a deeply disturbed person. When he was visited by federal agents on Saturday, he "stated that he is the 'son of the god of Enoch' and that his father speaks through him. Leboon stated that Eric Cantor is 'pure evil'; will be dead; and that Cantor's family is suffering because of his father's wrath."

He also told agents that "he had made over 2,000 videos in which he made threats."

Leboon allegedly told agents during their visit that he made the Cantor threat video "approximately three days" before, which would be March 24 -- last Wednesday.

The authorities have not made a connection between the Leboon video and the bullet that landed in Cantor's Richmond campaign office early in the morning last Tuesday after what police described as an act of random gunfire.

That incident occurred the day before Leboon allegedly made the video. Cantor described the bullet incident in a press conference Thursday, March 25.
Yeah, this guy?  Gone. You don't cross that line, folks.  It's not acceptable.  Absolutely good to see this being taken as seriously as it should be.  Not all lunatics are on the right, either:  turns out this guy is a Muslim convert.  Steve at NMMNB:
It appears that Leboon is a Muslim convert. So the right is going to have to stop talking about the failure of the feds under Obama to go after the real enemy for at least a few days. And no amount of right-wing violence short of another Oklahoma City will be said to equal the horror and viciousness of MusloliberoMarxist violence. And no one on the right will say that, well, maybe what's really going on is that the government is taking threats from all sides seriously -- merely suggesting that would be conservatively incorrect.

And in the center it will be considered a wash -- Leboon as a lefty, Hutaree as righties. Everyone's guilty, so no one is guilty. Or the Internet is guilty. Yeah, that's the ticket.

I'd say there are spreaders of hate and poison and people who don't spread hate and poison. I see this in the jihadist movement and on the American right. This could change sometime, but I see much less of this on the American left.
Still,  it's worth remembering that the whole "Congress's approval at 17% thing" means people are pretty pissed with the Republicans too.  No excuse for this.

Oh, and before we start playing the "this guy loved Obama" card:
Videos tagged with his name involved everything from the stock market collapse to the kids' movie "Babe," and he seemed to have talked about politics and world leaders including President Obama. He also says in another video where he talks about child molestation, "Leaders you will perish" and " I control your jets your missiles, I control everything."

In yet another video, Leboon seems to threaten Obama.

"President Obama, you and Vice President Biden and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and your Security Council say very bad things about me," he says "Your punishment is coming, the swine, it will be severe, and you will beg for mercy to your god. It will be severe, you will know god's swine, god has warned you."
The guy was just plain nuts.  He clearly hated the government...all of it.

He's Steele Undercover

At some point you just have to start asking if Michael Steele is the greatest Democratic party double agent of all time.  Greg Sargent:
The Republican National Committee has undertaken an investigation in the wake of news that nearly $2,000 in party funds was spent at a bondage-themed club that features topless female dancers imitating lesbian sex, an RNC spokesperson confirms to me.

The spokesperson adamantly denies that Michael Steele was the party who spent the money at the club and says Steele strongly disavows such actions.

The Daily Caller reported today that FEC filings show that $1,946.25 in RNC funds was spent in February at Voyeur West Hollywood, which features scantily clad waitresses and writhing performers amid a decor of orgy chic.
The really, really sad part is  the speed at which Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller, the supposed "Right Wing Answer To The Huffington Post" that broke this story, is being thrown under the bus by the wingers for daring to report it.

Flooding The Market

Two stories today demonstrate that timing in the stock market is everything.

First, analyst Dick Bove says Citigroup's a buy.
Bove changed his recommendation for the stock to a "buy," saying the sale of the Treasury Department's stake was already priced in.

Until now, Bove had advised investors to wait for the unwinding of the government's 7.7 billion shares before buying the stock.

"I think the mathematics work out that (the government) probably can get rid of the stock without shaking the market too much," Bove told "Squawk Box."
The U.S. Treasury Department today announced its plan to sell the government’s 7.7 billion common shares in Citigroup Inc. this year. 

“Treasury intends to sell its Citigroup common shares into the market through various means in an orderly and measured fashion,” the Treasury said in a statement in Washington today. “The manner, amount and timing of the sales under the plan is dependent upon a number of factors.”

Morgan Stanley is advising the Treasury on the sale, the department said. The disposition will be “subject to market conditions” and spread out “over the course of 2010,” the department said. 
No offense there Dick, but when you put 7.7 billion of something on the market, the price of that something probably isn't going to go up, ya know?

Driehaus's Daring Decision Draws Disapproval, Demonstrations

WaPo's Krissah Thompson pens a piece on Cincy area freshman Democrat Rep. Steve Driehaus and the "welcome" waiting for him here as Easter recess begins for the House.
Outside his Cincinnati home, a few angry protesters wouldn't allow him a full escape from the raw and vitriolic discussions that have embroiled the health-care debate for more than a year. They showed up to decry the freshman congressman's vote for the overhaul, standing in the chilling rain most of the afternoon Sunday holding signs that read: "Driehaus Voted to Destroy Our Children's Future" and "Remember in November."

Sunday's gathering, which never included more than three people at a time, was anchored by Jim Berns, a libertarian who has run for Driehaus's seat three times and for the state legislature 10 times. He wore a suit and waved at the congressman's neighbors -- a couple of whom greeted him with a middle finger, others with a thumbs-up.

Berns set up a display that included stuffed animals, and he draped a U.S. flag over a card table and pair of black boots to "symbolize the death of our future." "He won't listen," Berns said, as he faced Driehaus's home.

Said Driehaus, in a phone interview from his home on a dead-end street: "The other side has waged a campaign of misinformation and fear, and that's what people are reacting to. I understand people are going to criticize my decisions -- I'm an elected official -- but my wife, my kids, my neighbors are out of bounds."

Driehaus was one of the last Democrats to agree to vote for the bill, holding out until President Obama agreed to reaffirm that no federal money would be used to pay for abortions. Driehaus called the three protests that have been held outside his home "threatening" and "personal." His wife stopped letting their three children answer the home phone last week because of abusive calls and forbade them to walk down the street alone.

The west Cincinnati neighborhood is predominantly Republican, and Driehaus did not win his precinct when elected two years ago, said his brother-in-law Zeek Childers, who lives a half-mile down the road. Strong support from the more urban part of the congressional district gave him the edge. "It's bad down here," Childers said. "This area of Steve's district is much more conservative. The black community loves him. Labor loves him. The old white guys hate him. You got that out here." 
I'm sure plenty of politicians have been treated more shabbily than Driehaus, but there was a reason why I said when the vote was taken earlier this month that Driehaus was a brave man, and that I was proud of him.  This reaction was exactly why.  And no, Steve...the truth is these guys don't think your family is out of bounds.

They believe your family is leverage.  Expect more of this as November approaches.

The Road To Kabul

President Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan Sunday, where he met with troops and Afghan president Hamid Karzai.  It's telling that we're still sneaking the President in a war zone...
Air Force One touched down at Bagram Air Force Base overnight, after leaving Andrews Air Force base under cover of secrecy on Saturday. Accompanying Obama on the trip were members of Obama's national security team, including members of the White House national security team, including National Security Adviser Jim Jones. The White House said the trip had been planned since Thursday, but told reporters the flight was unannounced "for security reasons."

Obama and Afghan president Hamid Karzai appeared briefly before reporters in Kabul, where the Obama announced that Karzai will visit the U.S. for more talks next month.

In Afghanistan today, Obama met with Karzai one-on-one for about a half hour. The White House described the talks as "very productive" and "businesslike," and included discussions of about "governance, merit-based appointments of Afghan officials, and corruption," according to reports from the ground.

After the meeting, Karzai told reporters that he was grateful for the continued American efforts in Afghanistan. Obama said he was "encouraged by the progress that's been made" by Karzai's regime.

But it was clear from reports that one of the American goals on the trip was to push Karzai's government to do better. After Obama and Karzai met, the American delegation -- which also included U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eichenberry -- met with members of the Afghan cabinet to discuss the future, which Americans hope will include the scaling up of Afghan security forces and the scaling down of American involvement.

Jones told reporters on the ground in Afghanistan before the one-on-one meeting that Obama intended to take a hard line with Karzai and "make him understand that in his second term, there are certain things that have been not paid attention to, almost since day one."
Good to see Obama hasn't forgotten about  Afghanistan, but with the surge and the offensive in Marjah it's not Karzai making things worse for America in the sandbox here, folks.

Strike Down

More and more campaign finance laws are being struck down in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision.  The latest victim:  the cap on annual limits to political advocacy groups.
The court found that the $5,000 annual limit on contributions to such groups is unconstitutional, writing that the Citizens United ruling "resolves this appeal," in favor of, a group that appears to have been created with the specific purpose of challenging campaign-finance regulations.

A report on SCOTUSblog concludes that the ruling "significantly broadens the impact of Citizens United, extending its constitutional reasoning from campaign spending to campaign donations."

Now, the good news that could turn bad: A three-judge panel of the D.C. District Court unanimously rejected a bid by the RNC to get the McCain-Feingold soft-money ban struck down. The RNC is seeking to raise unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals.

But the RNC seems to have expected the setback. It already announced earlier this month that it has hired top conservative lawyer Ted Olson for the inevitable challenge to the Supreme Court. And as election law expert Rick Hasen notes, today's ruling appears to offer the RNC encouragement that they may get a better result there. 
If the soft-money cap is eliminated, there really will be no limit to the amount of money that corporations and the wealthy can pour into campaigns.  The faster that gets struck down, the more millions will go to in effect buying elections.

Campaign 2010 is going to get really, really nasty.  And thanks to SCOTUS, there won't be any way to avoid the roadblock media saturation.

Four From Sixty-Four

And this is rapidly turning into the most interesting NCAA men's tourney in years.  The Final Four is now set:  Duke, West Virginia, Michigan State, and...Butler?!?!  SI's Luke Wynn breaks down victors.
We have our Final Four, each team playing its own role: Butler, the fairy-tale townie; Michigan State, the battered overachiever; West Virginia, the East Coast bully; and Duke, the headlining villain. This is the most unlikely of quartets to reach Indy, even though each team was in the top 11 of the preseason Associated Press poll. There were widely held reasons for them all not to make it to Lucas Oil Stadium. The Bulldogs were too meekly mid-major to beat Syracuse or Kansas State in the West. The Spartans stumbled through the Big Ten backstretch, and were without their floor general in the Midwest Region of Death. The Mountaineers weren’t rich enough in NBA talent to dance with John Wall & Co. in the East. The Blue Devils were, well, the Blue Devils of the past five NCAA tournaments — regular-season lions, postseason lambs.

All of those reasons, of course, were wrong.
Wynn has WVU edging out Duke to take on Butler after its narrow victory over the Spartans for the Championship game next Monday night.  Me?  I wouldn't count the Blue Devils out, but next Saturday is going to be outright impressive.

And So It Begins Again

FBI raids over the weekend in Michigan arrested seven as part of an investigation into a Christian cult militia group called "Hutaree".  If all this seems familiar, you're remembering the period before the Oklahoma City bombing.  These days, that's called Obama Derangement Syndrome.  The Detroit News:
At least seven people, including some from Michigan, have been arrested in raids by a FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana as part of an investigation into an Adrian-based Christian militia group, a person familiar with the matter said.

The suspects are expected to make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Detroit on Monday.

On Sunday, a source close to the investigation in Washington, D.C. confirmed that FBI agents were conducting activities in Washtenaw and Lenawee counties over the weekend in connection to Hutaree, a Christian militia group. Detroit FBI Special Agent Sandra Berchtold told The Detroit News the federal warrants in the case are under court seal and declined further comment.

Sources have said the FBI was in the second day of raids around the southeastern Michigan city of Adrian that are connected to a militia group, known as the Hutaree, an Adrian-based group whose members describe themselves as Christian soldiers preparing for the arrival and battle with the anti-Christ
But what does that have to do with Obama?  Hmm, wait, now where have I heard that before?
Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama "may be the Antichrist."
Oh, right.  But that can't be the only hook to hang this hat on, right?


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