Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last Call

It's been a hell of a day.  I need some good news.

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana is considering stepping down from his post in the GOP leadership...


...in preparation for a possible bid for president or governor in 2012.


Why Don't We Steal Away Into The Night

Of course the crazy woman who believes fluoride is a plot to control us thinks the only possible reason Harry Reid isn't losing by 40 points to her is that he's offering food for votes!

Nevada GOP Senate nominee Sharron Angle’s campaign attorney wrote a fundraising letter to supporters on Tuesday, charging that Democrat Harry Reid “intends to steal this election."

In a fundraising plea to supporters, Cleta Mitchell wrote, "As Sharron Angle's campaign attorney, I am sorry to report that the Democrats and their cronies are up to their same old tricks of trying to manipulate the election in hopes of skewing the results in their favor.” 
The letter alleges that the Reid campaign offered free food at voter turnout events and that “Democratic allies such as teachers unions are offering gift cards in return for a vote for Reid” — though the letter does not list specific events at which these practices allegedly took place. A search of recent news reports in Nevada did not turn up accounts of unions offering any gifts to voters.

The evidence Mitchell holds up is that the Angle campaign “received reports that some teachers union representatives were offering Starbucks cards to people to get them to vote for Harry Reid. It is even more disturbing and may be possible that they are using their influence and authority as educators to entice students on behalf of Reid.”

Angle's campaign did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking examples of union officials offering gift cards to voters. 

Got the trifecta here:  Democrats abusing power, teacher's unions, and those impressionable young people being cruelly manipulated.  Damn you Starbucks and your ACORN muffins!

There's no actual evidence, but Republicans can lie with impunity all they want to and never suffer for it.  I know, Sharron Angle's campaign lawyer is a MoveOn.org plant from Dark Master George Soros, right?

Obama's a secret Kenyan Muslim, if you don't buy health insurance you'll spend the rest of your life in prison, and Harry Reid is stealing the election with Starbucks.  There's no truth to anything these fools say.  And yet America is about to give them the keys to the economy.

Good luck with that.

Things You Never Want To Hear From A United States Senate Candidate

I'll take "crazy crap Colorado Republican Ken Buck says" for 1000, Alex.

I disagree strongly with the concept of separation of church and state. It was not written into the Constitution. While we have a Constitution that is very strong in the sense that we are not gonna have a religion that’s sanctioned by the government, it doesn’t mean that we need to have a separation between government and religion. And so that, that concerns me a great deal.

But remember, it's Obama and the Democrats who are trying to inject fundamentalist religious Sharia law into enslaving our country under a national faith.

You know, Iranian Mullahs don't like separation of church and state, either. And this joker wants to write laws for all of us...including the non-Christians.

Aren't Republicans neat?

What Will Be The Tea Recipe For You And Me?

What will our Tea Party masters give us as far as an economic recovery?

Well, if you're a Wall Street employee or one of the wealthiest 20% of Americans, you're going to be getting richer, easily.  Rest of us?  Tighten your belts like a real American.

"I'd abolish the estate tax tomorrow, cut corporate taxes in half and phase out capital gains taxes, and then have a beer," says Joe Walsh, the Republican nominee for Illinois' 8th Congressional District. "I'm one of those knuckleheads who believes that every time we cut taxes, we increase government revenues." 

Well, he's certainly a knucklehead alright.

"We prefer a 10% flat tax, obviously with an exclusion for the first portion of your income until the federal poverty level," says John Ellinwood, director of communications for Jesse Kelly, a Republican running for Arizona's 8th Congressional District. In this way, Kelly hopes to simplify the tax code and create a more favorable environment for the wealthy to spend and invest.

"Wealthy people are not stupid, they resent paying 40% of their income to the government," Ellinwood said. "But they don't resent paying 10%, so they'll actually engage in more productive activities." 

Like investing in Wall Street and taking trips abroad.  That'll help Main Street.

"I would be in favor of a hiring freeze for the federal government in nondefense areas, and freezing salaries of people in government," says Dan Benishek, the Republican nominee for Michigan's 1st Congressional District.

Benishek is also in favor of being more vigilant in "auditing" public agencies to see if they are wasting money.

In fact, of the candidates we spoke with, several advocated the idea of eliminating two agencies in particular.

"Something like the Department of Education, I don't see the need for it. It hasn't done anything to improve the public school system in this country," says Walsh, the Illinois Congressional nominee."And I would certainly have a discussion about the Department of Energy." 

Despite the fact that under Obama the number of federal employees has actually dropped, along with hundreds of thousands of state employees,  we must cut more.  We don't need to worry about oil rigs or smart kids or government workers, they didn't do anything anyway!

These guys are awesome.  Oh, and they want to privatize Social Security too.  We should totally put our trillions in hedge funds.  It's not like people lose money in the markets!

Which is funny, because it sure seems like to me that the Tea Party sounds exactly like the far right GOP fringe from 5 years ago.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Paul The Psychic World Cup Octopus is dead, and I'm not feeling too great myself.

Paul the Octopus “appears to have passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes, and we are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life here,” the statement said.

The psychic cephalopod made his name by trumping well-established investment banks’ predictions about which team would win this year’s World Cup.

He rightly picked the outcome of seven Germany soccer games during the World Cup, including Germany’s elimination by Spain, prompting death threats from angry fans.

Before retiring to the aquarium in Germany, Paul was even transformed into a successful Ask the Octopus iPhone application which helped undecided people come to a decision without having to make the choice themselves.

“Don’t know which is the best choice? Do you want to guess the future? Ask the most famous octopus in the world. Ask the oracle, Octopus Paul,” said uTouchLabs, the Brazilian software company behind the application.

Sea Life Centre Manager Stefan Porwoll said, "Paul amazed the world by correctly predicting the winners of all Germany's World Cup clashes, and then of the final… his success made him almost a bigger story than the World Cup itself.” 

Here's to ya Paul, in the big tank in the sky.

Four To One For, Four To One Against

Those are the rough odds Nate Silver is assigning the GOP of taking over the House and Senate, respectively here in the final week before Election Day.

The modest decline in the Republicans’ chances today is a result of new polling in two states. The first is Colorado, where two new polls, from Public Policy Polling and SurveyUSA, each show the exact same result, with the Republican, Ken Buck, and the Democrat, Michael Bennet, tied at 47 percent each. Colorado had appeared to slightly favor Mr. Buck for most of the cycle, with his winning chances peaking at 79 percent in our Sept. 30 update. Since then, however, he has endured some decline after a series of minor gaffes, with polls suggesting that Mr. Bennet may have improved his standing among female voters. We now project Colorado’s Senate race to be the closest in the country — slightly closer than others like Nevada or West Virginia. Mr. Buck is now an 0.4-point favorite, according to the model, and his chances of winning are 54 percent.

The other significant move today is in West Virginia, and it is toward the Democrat, Joe Manchin, as a Public Policy Polling survey gives him a 6-point lead over Republican John Raese.

The real movement here is in the Senate, and Nate's position of 52-48 for the Dems is beginning to firm up rather respectably.

Two other important states show slight movement tonight toward the candidate who had already appeared to hold the lead.

In Illinois, a Chicago Tribune poll gives the Republican, Mark Kirk, a 3-point lead over Alexi Giannoulias. This is the fourth consecutive survey to show Mr. Kirk with a lead, and he can now be thought of as a slight favorite. Because of the unusually high number of undecided voters in the state, however, Mr. Giannoulias retains a potential path to victory by turning out the Democratic base.

Finally, in California, a poll for the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times gives the Democrat, Barbara Boxer, an 8-point lead over Carly Fiorina. This does not have a tremendous impact on the model, because the poll has consistently shown good numbers for Ms. Boxer and her fellow Democrat, Jerry Brown. But her probability of winning is now up incrementally to 84 percent from 82 percent.

However, Nate's numbers do show the Dems losing 7 seats and about 50 House seats, coming very close to the situation in 1994.  It will all depend on turnout across the country.  The higher the turnout, the better the Dems will do.

We'll see how things go.

Iran Blast The Vent Core

Iran is now in the process of fueling its first nuclear reactor, much to the chagrin of Israel.

Officials said it showed Iran's nuclear plans were on track despite sanctions aimed at forcing it to curb uranium enrichment which many countries fear is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

"This day will be remembered ... because it was the day when fuel was lowered into the core of the reactor," Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said.

Amid great media fanfare, fuel rods were transported into the reactor building in August, but they were not inserted into its core and the plant's start-up was delayed due to what were described as minor technical problems.

At a much lower-key news conference, broadcast live from the plant on Iran's the Gulf coast, Salehi said it would take a further two months to complete the process of lowering 163 fuel assemblies into the core of the reactor and running tests. He said three fuel assemblies had been inserted so far.

The Russian-built 1,000-MW plant will feed Iran's first nuclear power into the national grid early next year, he said.

The last time the Iraqis tried this, the Israelis promptly bombed the hummus out of it in Osirak in 1981.  Bushehr was shut down after the revolution in 1979.  Some thirty years later, Iran is trying again.  Not much has changed since then, especially between Israel and Iran.

Who knows how long Bushehr will last this time?

There Are No Comedians In The Center

Apparently taking Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's marches in Washington this weekend celebrating the centrist is so abhorrent that WaPo's Anne Applebaum is practically begging them to stop.  And shame on anyone who takes them seriously and how dare you make fun of the Centrist Daleks like this!

There is no lack of interesting people in the political center. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- one of the few popular incumbents in the country -- has not only declared himself a centrist but has also launched a campaign of support for other centrists. He flies around the country endorsing both Democrats and Republicans who he thinks show the ability to compromise and have the courage to depart from party orthodoxy on issues such as gun control (he is in favor) or more stringent financial regulation (he is against). He nearly lost me when he inexplicably endorsed Harry Reid, but never mind.

Others are trying, usually behind the scenes, to find solutions to problems that divide liberals and conservatives bitterly. Recently, Steve Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute (conservative) got together with Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution (liberalish) and two scholars from the Breakthrough Institute (further left) to talk about America's stalled energy policy. Their starting point: For two decades, the right has called climate change a figment of the United Nations' imagination and pretended that "drill, baby, drill" is a policy. For the same two decades, the left has been talking about the end of the world and pretending that wind and solar can replace oil and gas without massive subsidy. The result: gridlock, a lot of wasted money and an ever-growing American dependence on imported oil.

Working together, they came up with a report called "Post-Partisan Power" (read the whole thing at http://www.aei.org or http://thebreakthrough.org), which calls for the removal of wasteful subsidies and advocates investments designed to make "new clean energy sources" commercially viable. Just as important, though, is the point this group made by working together. In their introduction, they note that bipartisanship has helped create economic growth. And not only the distant past: Welfare reform was passed thanks to both Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich.

Bipartisanship is, of course, the source of plenty of disastrous ideas itself. Sometimes it produces worst-of-all-possible-worlds types of legislation, like those energy bills that subsidize gas, oil, wind, nuclear, coal, biofuels, hydrogen and anything else that might keep a swing state happy. Sometimes it produces agreements that are so centrist that one or the other party eventually rejects them. That's what happened to the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform, a bill I'm sure John McCain wishes he'd never laid eyes on.

Still, even if bipartisanship doesn't always work, even if "moderate" legislation is often weak, even if centrists sometimes fail completely, it doesn't matter: We are condemned to cross-party compromise. Without it, our system doesn't work: That's what "checks and balances" means. In American politics, if you don't want to cooperate with your political opponents -- if you prefer to scorn them, shun them or call them names -- that means that you don't, in fact, want to get anything done. Moderates often achieve less than they could. But extremists achieve nothing at all.

Which is why this Jon Stewart rally is such a gloomy development. I'm sure his Million Moderate March, if it happens, will be amusing, and I wouldn't want to spoil the fun by calling it "tragic." But if that's the best the center can do, then "blackly humorous" wouldn't be that far off. 

Yes, extremists like Obama and the Democrats achieved nothing at all in the last two years. They didn't pass a thing.  Nothing.  Not a thing.  Oh, only if the Centrists would rise up and retake the country from both parties...only centrists can ever get anything done in America!

This "both sides are equally bad" stuff is the real legacy of the last ten years, and you wonder why there's an enthusiasm gap.

Boom, Headshot

The big story here in Kentucky politics today is not last night's final Rand Paul-Jack Conway debate, but what happened afterward.  After the debate an apparent Rand Paul supporter assaulted and stepped on the head of a MoveOn.org protester who was trying to get close to Paul.

And it was all caught on tape.  HuffPo:

A spokesman for the Lexington Police Department, Lt. Edward Hart, tells The Huffington Post that as off 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time they have not yet identified the man captured on video stomping the head of the MoveOn volunteer. Hart said that the department would be reviewing news footage of the incident and that they "are hoping someone can identify who the person is." Until then, he said, it is a "pending investigation."

Hart additionally offered some details from the police report filed from the incident. There were, he said, roughly 300 protestors outside the debate and only a handful of officers. "We were not anticipating any issues," he acknowledged.

"The victim, apparently, was trying to run up and approach Dr. Paul with a sign reading 'RepubliCorp: Employee of the Month,'" he added. "She worked for MoveOn.org -- was a contract employee sent to the debate with MoveOn.org for the purpose of getting a picture with Dr. Paul with the sign."

Valle had been sent from Pennsylvania for the purposes of appearing outside the Paul event, according to Hart. "She had been attending multiple rallies with the same purpose. She stated that she was wearing a wig and as she was running up to Rand Paul she was either tripped on purpose or pushed to the ground." Following the incident Valle "complained of injury to the temple area."

Hart relayed that a fourth-degree assault report had been filed with the policy department -- as is customary when the result "is a minor injury." Once the suspect is identified it will be up to Valle "to file for warrant or the summons to bring that person into court."

That's pretty terrible stuff.  I'm interested to see what the Wingnut right believes justifies this behavior, because I guarantee if this had been a Tea Party member wanting to approach Jack Conway manhandled and stepped on like this, it would be a declaration of war by the right.  Again.

This awful, bloody, militant rancor coming out of the right has consequences, folks.  This was completely unacceptable, folks.  There is no justification for the man caught on tape to have done this.

Hey Tea Party folks, whatever the hell happened to "Don't Tread On Me" like the guy's button says?   I guess that doesn't apply to liberals, huh?  You can walk on them all you want to if they try to express their dissent?

If you give a damn about this country and this story raises any emotions whatsoever in your heart, then get out there and vote.  If you can vote early in where you live, do it today.  If you can't, do it Tuesday.  I'm going to be there.  You need to be there too.  Get angry at this story all you want, but turn that anger into a vote this week or Tuesday.

That's how you make a difference.


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