Monday, July 30, 2012

Last Call

Turns out not only do I owe TPM's Paul Werdel an apology for spotting this on Friday where he flagged down that the Romney administration really is making a serious foreign policy shift by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's rightful capital, but that he was right for reasons that I didn't even consider.  In his speech Sunday, he declared a sea change in US policy if he is elected:

Romney's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital was matter-of-fact and in keeping with claims made by Israeli governments for decades, even though the United States, like other nations, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

He did not say if he would order the embassy moved if he wins the White House, but strongly suggested so in a CNN interview.

"My understanding is the policy of our nation has been a desire to move our embassy ultimately to the capital (Jerusalem)," he said, adding, "I would only want to do so and to select the timing in accordance with the government of Israel."

His remarks on the subject during his speech drew a standing ovation from his audience, which included Sheldon Adelson, the American businessman who has said he will donate millions to help elect Romney to the White House.

So not only was Werdel right when he said this on Friday:

So, accepting that Romney is aware of the significance, it seems likely he’s prepared to signal a very real, very controversial departure from decades of U.S. peacemaking policy, and put the weight of his potential presidency behind a declaration that he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. That would be a very big deal

...but Romney apparently really has decided to throw away any pretense that Bibi Netanyahu does not control our foreign policy totally.  The Palestinians are livid:

US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s endorsement of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is “harmful” to US interests in the Middle East, a senior Palestinian official said on Sunday.

“Romney’s declarations are harmful to American interests in our region, and they harm peace, security and stability,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP.

“Even if this statement is within the US election campaign, it is unacceptable and we completely reject it. The US election campaign should never be at the expense of the Palestinians,” he said.

“Romney is rewarding occupation, settlement and extremism in the region with such declarations.”

Romney is insane.  I absolutely believe electing him means open war with Iran now.  All indications are that Netanyahu used Romney to say what was on his mind to attack President Obama, and Romney was more than happy to go along, doing the bidding of a foreign leader to go after the President.

That's the kind of guy Mitt Romney is, of course.  In order to score campaign points, he's using a foreign power to do it with on top of now hoping to force President Obama to change decades of stated US foreign policy to benefit a foreign power.  That's dangerous as hell.  Romney doesn't care.  He'll do anything to win.

Even if it means a major diplomatic incident.

Voting Against All Odds

The Cincinnati Enquirer has a major story today on widespread voter disenfranchisement in the state, finding that Ohio regularly tosses thousands of valid votes due to a combination of a "confusing maze of state laws, administrative directives and court rulings on voting procedures, errors – by voters and poll workers alike – and other factors".  Republicans will of course tell you it's working as intended.

    The problems call into question both whether every Ohioan’s vote will be counted Nov. 6 and whether the state, always pivotal in close presidential races, can assure the nation a timely, accurate and lawsuit-free count.

    “If the Wednesday headlines the day after the election say, ‘All eyes are on Ohio,’ it probably won’t be a good thing,” said Ed Foley, an Ohio State University law professor and a nationally respected expert on election laws.

    In Hamilton County alone, hundreds of votes are routinely disqualified in major statewide elections because they are cast in the wrong precinct, often only feet from the correct location. Hundreds more votes have been tossed out for another relatively minor miscue: voters’ failure to seal an inner envelope containing their absentee ballot.

    “Every vote is a voice,” said new Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter, who owes her election to a federal court ordering local officials to count some contested 2010 ballots. “People fought, bled and died for the right not only to vote but to have that vote counted.”

And yet the disenfranchisement is -- surprise! -- most likely to happen in Ohio's three largest urban counties, Hamilton (Cincinnati), Cuyahoga (Cleveland), and Franklin (Columbus).

    The Enquirer’s examination of how well Ohio is prepared for November found:

    • Unless voters take a more proactive approach about how and precisely where to vote, poll workers improve their performance over past elections or courts order new changes before Election Day, tens of thousands of ballots are likely to be disqualified.

    • Ohio has adopted only a few of the changes recommended after the 2008 election to improve registration, Election Day and vote-counting procedures.

    • All 88 Ohio counties have prepared lengthy election administration plans outlining their preparations for November, including recruitment and training of poll workers, steps to ensure that individuals vote in their correct precinct and how to process ballots. Some, however, have failed to make adjustments that could help remedy past electoral problems.

The bottom line is that in a state that may be decided by a few thousand votes, we could see tens of thousands of votes thrown out.  A healthy chunk of them will be in the state's most urban districts.  Nothing's changed since these institutionalized problems cost John Kerry the state and the election in 2004, problems created through years of neglect.  Now Ohio may decide the White House or control of the Senate once again.

And keep in mind, Ohio does not have strict Voter ID laws like neighboring Indiana or Pennsylvania.  Imagine if it did.  Tens of thousands more would be disenfranchised.  And this will only get worse.

Video Stupidity: Paralyzed Woman Uses Bionic Suit To Walk

"Walking never gets old for me," she says looking at the camera.

Moving is something most of us take for granted.  If we want something across the room, we can hop up and get it.  Some of us even complain at having to expend the energy.  But for someone who can't walk, it's a miracle to be able to move again. 

Bomb Threats Now 80% Off

At least seven Walmarts across Missouri were evacuated this week because of bomb threats, KCTV reports.
Stores in Gladstone, Raytown, Nixa, Ozark, Jefferson City, St. Peters and Piedmont all received threats Friday evening.
Dan Fogleman, a spokesman for Walmart, told The Kansas City Star that any retail establishment may be subject to such an event. He added however that it was uncommon for so many to be threatened in one evening.
"We're concerned anytime someone makes a threat that may endanger our customers," Fogleman told the paper. "We're grateful that no one was injured and we apologize to our customers for the inconvenience. We will work very closely with police in these jurisdictions."
Nixa and Ozark were among those affected, but none within Springfield city limits.  Was this an orchestrated prank?  A distraction or response test?  Nobody seems to know yet.  However, people were more annoyed than concerned by the bulk of the reports.  I'm pretty sure no blowout on school supplies is worth my safety.  There have been no more calls since this original incident.  If an update becomes available we'll share it here.

Follow Up To Marine Story

I got a few comments and quite a few emails about the marine story that ran yesterday.  Let me add just a couple of things, in a way that I think will reach most of our readers:

1.  I apologize for the soldier comment.  I do not come from a military family, and I did not realize that the word did not apply to all who fight on behalf of their country.  I used the wrong word, and would never intentionally offend anyone who risked life and limb to protect me.  I did not check before using the word soldier, but when I went there this morning it does clearly mention a person serving "in an army" and did give a general definition of someone with military skill.  I sent them a note explaining our conversation here, to make amends for what is clearly a common misunderstanding of how the word soldier applies to Marines specifically.

2.  I got a couple of comments that seemed to think I was saying this was unheard of for a Marine.  I did not intend to sound shocked beyond belief that a Marine would show this level of dedication.  I think it's amazing, generous and beyond awesome.  But I am not surprised, I simply felt it should be shared so we see another side, and can enjoy simple pride in the goodness of another person.

I hope that resolves the bulk of the comments, and thank you all for correcting my choice of phrasing.

Oops! Where Did I Leave That Kidnapping Victim Edition

NEW YORK -- An NYPD detective has been suspended without pay after a kidnapping victim was found tied up in his Queens garage, sources tell NBC 4 New York.
Sources say Ondre Johnson, a 17-year veteran of the Brooklyn North gang unit, was being questioned by internal affairs about his involvement in the kidnapping of a 25-year-old victim off the street early Friday morning.

A ransom note was left, and there is some confusion as to what this detective played in the kidnapping.  Several men have been arrested, including a cousin of the detective.

In the meantime, for the first time outside of a bad 80s movie, he has been "stripped of his gun and badge" while this is sorted out.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Things that Supreme Court Justice Antonin "Wario" Scalia thinks you have a right to:  rocket launchers.

In the wake of a massacre in Colorado that left 12 dead and 58 wounded, host Chris Wallace asked Scalia if the Constitution would support assault-type AR-15 rifles and 100-round clips.

The justice explained that under his principle of originalism, some limitations on weapons were possible. Fox example, laws to restrict people from carrying a “head axe” would be constitutional because it was a misdemeanor when the Constitution was adopted in the late 1700s.

“What about these technological limitations?” Wallace wondered. “Obviously, we’re not now talking about a handgun or a musket, we’re talking about a weapon that can fire a hundred shots in a minute.”

“We’ll see,” Scalia replied. “Obviously the amendment does not apply to arms that can not be carried. It’s to ‘keep and bear’ so it doesn’t apply to cannons.”

But I suppose there are handheld rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes that will have to — it’s will have to be decided,” he added.

Things that Supreme Court Justice Antonin "Wario" Scalia thinks you do not have a right to:  birth control.

During an interview on Sunday, Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Scalia why he believed that it is a “lie” that women have a Constitutional right to abortion.

“Nobody ever thought that the America people voted to prohibit limitations on abortions,” the 76-year-old conservative justice explained. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says that.”

“What about the right to privacy that the court found in 1965?” Wallace pressed.

“There’s no right to privacy in the Constitution — no generalized right to privacy,” Scalia insisted.
“Well, in the Griswold case, the court said there was,” Wallace pointed out.

Yeah, it did,” Scalia agreed. “And that was wrong.”

But please go ahead and tell me how it doesn't matter if Romney gets to pick a couple more Supreme Court nominees in the next four years.   Also, what the hell is a Supreme Court Justice doing on FOX News?

Wimping Out

You think the media is a little pissed off at Mitt Romney over shutting them out of his Israel trip and only letting them in at the last minute?

Romney: The Wimp Factor

I'm going to say "yes".

In 1987, this magazine created a famous hubbub by labeling George H.W. Bush a “wimp” on its cover. “The Wimp Factor.” Huge stir. And not entirely fair—the guy had been an aviator in the war, the big war, the good war, and he was even shot down out over the Pacific, cockpit drenched in smoke and fumes, at an age (20) when in most states he couldn’t even legally drink a beer. In hindsight, Poppy looks like Dirty Harry Callahan compared with Romney, who spent his war (Vietnam) in—ready?—Paris. Where he learned ... French. Up to his eyeballs in deferments. Where Reagan saddled up a horse with the masculine name of El Alamein, Mitt saddles up something called Rafalca—except that he doesn’t even really do that, his wife does (dressage). And speaking of Ann—did you notice that she was the one driving the Jet Ski on their recent vacation, while Mitt rode on the back, hanging on, as Paul Begala put it to me last week, “like a helpless papoose”?

Like I said, the Romney campaign declared war on the Village back in early July.  Only one problem:  the Village has now decided to fight back.  Things just got interesting, because as Mitt is finding out, the only thing worse than our fickle, power-hungry, egotistical press is our press in a bad, bad mood.  On the other hand, the plan to attack the press worked wonders for Sarah Palin.

Too bad Mitt Romney isn't Sarah Palin.  McCain was on to something in 2008 after all.  After all, when Bibi Netanyahu owns your testicles...yes, you get called a wimp.


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