Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Last Call

As Greg Sargent points out, last night Missouri Republicans chose the nuttiest of the wingers in their primary to go up against Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill in November, the one with the least chance of winning, and the one with the most insane voting record:  current Tea Party Congressman Todd Akin.  And Akin's voting record speaks for itself:

* In 2012, Akin was one of 24 to vote against the Training and Research for Autism Improvements Nationwide Act; 147 Republicans voted for it. A GOP press release described this as an effort to “advance training and education for autism service providers” so that “autistic children and adults can lead fuller, happier and healthier lives.”

* In 2010, Akin was one of only 13 to vote No on a motion “expressing the support of the House of Representatives for the goals and ideals of the National School Lunch Program.” 155 Republicans voted for it.

* In 2009, Akin was one of 11 to vote against a measure “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that providing breakfast in schools through the National School Breakfast Program has a positive impact on classroom performance.” 152 Republicans voted for it (fixed).

* In 2004, Aiken was one of only five to vote against the Child Nutrition Improvement and Integrity Act; 217 Republicans voted for it. A GOP press release said the measure would “ensure more effective and efficient use of federal resources targeted to providing nutritional services for vulnerable children.”

* Also in 2004, Akin was one of 19 to vote No on revisions and extensions to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, a measure that authorized increased federal spending to expand the number of such clubs. 185 Republicans voted for it.

As a rep, Akin's been a nobody lunatic backbencher.  As a Senator, he'd be a disaster.  I was extremely concerned that the GOP would have nominated Moose Lady's pick, Sarah Steelman, who probably would have an easy time of beating Claire.  But as with GOP Tea Party nutjob Richard Mourdock's race versus Democrat Joe Donnelly, it's the return of the Hoffman Effect:  the GOP candidate is so far to the right that even in a red state the race is effectively dead even.

We'll see how it turns out, but these are two winnable races for the Democrats and they very well could be the surprise wins that allow them to keep the Senate in 2012.

You're Why We Can't Have Nice Things

The Tea Party is claiming VICTORY in Georgia having defeated a measure to raise the sales tax in Atlanta by a penny in order to address the city’s massive infrastructure issues.  The measure promptly lost by 26 points because DON’T TREAD ON ME or something despite having the support of GOP Gov. Nathan Deal and Dem Mayor Kasim Reed.

The bottom line: Most voters didn’t believe government would wisely spend the new tax revenues – estimated at about $8.5 billion over a decade – and seriously address traffic, which everyone here agrees is horrendous. 
A humbled Mayor Reed spoke to supporters late Tuesday night saying he would “stick out my chin and take the loss,” but urged the region to go back to the drawing board to find another plan that voters might accept. Both he and the governor have begun talks about what to do now about alleviating traffic problems in the nation’s ninth-largest metropolitan area, with a population of about 5.3 million.
“What we need now is a bigger table, a bigger table for our friends who disagreed with us,” Mr. Reed said.
The proposal lost in all 10 of the metro area’s counties.
People as exemplified by this vote have really lost faith in their government to mean what it says,” said Phil Kent, a local conservative commentator who pushed for a no vote.
The mass transit part of the plan was “totally rejected” by voters, most of whom don’t use public transportation, and many saw the road projects as government aid programs “for construction companies and real estate moguls,” he said.

And thus, the American Way triumphs:  Georgians would rather sit in traffic for an extra couple of hours a week or so rather than cough up an extra nickel on that trenta iced coffee because LIBERTY.  Infrastructure comes from the asphalt fairy anyway, and besides, the argument was that rich people will just pocket the money and not fix the roads, so why try to fix the roads?  Our roads are broken, government can never be the solution, so the roads remain broken.  Perhaps the city can contract roving bands of nomadic road crews.

Whoever came up with “Americans are mature enough to vote on taxation issues” really needs to get a scoop of hot road tar down their drawers.

Thinking about this, what are the other options?  Traffic is awful and it’s costing businesses and people millions, if not billions.  You don’t want to pay to fix the problem.  There are no other real solutions, unless you want to go with “Let’s just get rid of all the undesirables in the Atlanta Metro area” or something stup…

...Oh.  Yes.  Silly me.  Tea Party.

Loughner Gets Life

As expected, Arizona assassin Jared Lee Loughner has pleaded guilty to murdering six and injuring 13 more, resulting in a plea bargain sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.

Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged gunman in last year's mass shooting outside an Arizona supermarket in Tucson that killed six people and wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, pleaded guilty Tuesday to 19 charges in exchange for the government not seeking the death penalty.

Under the plea deal, Loughner will be sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole, federal prosecutors said. His sentencing is scheduled for November 15, prosecutors said.

In court, Loughner also waived his right to pursue an insanity defense.

"My name is Jared Lee Loughner," the defendant told the court when he held up his right hand under oath.

Loughner calmly told the court he understood his guilty plea. "Yes, that is correct," he said.
"I'm 23 years old," he told the court. "I attended college for five years at a community college."

You figure that means he gets 60 or 70 years in the clink to be haunted by his horrific crimes.  I'm okay with this, personally.   Death's too good for this asshole, even if I did believe in the death penalty (which I do not.)

I just can't stop thinking about Christina Taylor-Green, the 9 year old born on 9/11/01 who wanted to meet her representative in Congress because she wanted to serve her country in politics and paid for her life by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Loughner should have gone to prison for a lifetime just on her death.

We'll see.

Define Roast

 You know it's bad when Comedy Central has to censor an event.  This time it's Jeff Ross, who pushed the line too far, more than once.
Ross -- who came to the event dressed like Joe Paterno, accompanied by two young topless boys -- has been under fire for cracking the following zinger, directed at Seth Green:

“Seth, congratulations. This is actually a great night for you ... you haven’t gotten this much attention since you shot all those people in Aurora. ... I’m kidding. You are not like James Holmes. At least he did something in a movie theater that people remember!”

After the taping, one of the producers announced that the joke would be cut from the August 12 broadcast. 
His response?  That's what a roast is for.

Well, not really.  See, I grew up in the days of the real roasts.  When Dean Martin and company would bring out their best jokes, set each other up to have a rollicking good time, and yes... poke fun at the guest of honor.  But there was never a declaration that roasts exist so that comedians can go as low as they can think of.  First of all, dressing like Paterno in the company of half-naked boys is as ignorant as it is tasteless.  Making jokes about the slaughter of innocent people is never in taste.  It's not a matter of "too soon" as it is "too much" and he wasn't that funny to begin with.

There are comedians and acts that you go into knowing boundaries would be pushed.  I get that.  But you should also get that if you push boundaries, this is the fallout when you find the line.  I tell the kids the same thing, if you insist on pushing to find where the line is... when you find out it will be because you get smacked down.

I know readers are going to have differing opinions, and I welcome them.  This is mine, and it didn't come without some soul searching and finding internal vs. external lines of decency.

When Reality Couples Need Help, What Should They Do?

According to some, they should go on a reality show to counsel them.  Because nothing helps love heal like a  camera.  Nothing encourages honesty and self-reflection like having to answer to the public for what comes out.

Former "Real Housewives of New York" stars Alex McCord and Simon Van Kempen claim they're on the verge of a nasty split -- so they've decided to hash out their issues on a VH1 reality show for troubled couples.

Sources close to the production of "Couples Therapy" tell TMZ, Alex and Simon will be starring on the upcoming season of the show -- alongside 17-year-old Courtney Stodden and her 52-year-old husband Doug Hutchison.

In addition to those two couples -- we're told R&B singer JoJo (From K-Ci & JoJo) will be appearing with his wife, as well as blogger Nik Richie and his "Bachelor" star wife Shayne Lamas.

Rapper Too $hort will also be on the show with his 15-year on-again-off-again girlfriend Monica Payne.
I'm not gonna lie, it may be interesting.  The sad part is that I doubt it's helpful to the people going.  For those who value marriage more than fame or the paycheck, this could be an epic fail.

The Road Less Traveled

Google's self-driving car project fleet has now logged 300,000 miles safely as the company looks ahead to more challenging traffic conditions:  construction zones, inclement weather, and San Francisco commuters.

“We’ve done some testing in Nevada, Florida, Washington D.C., and other areas, but most of our testing has been in California because that’s where our team is based,” a Google spokesperson told TPM in a statement.

Further, Google said on Tuesday that a new type of car will join its fleet of about a dozen modified Toyota Priuses: The Lexus RX450h.

Not only that, but Google said it will be widening the tests to new terrain and driving situations, including “snow-covered roadways” and “temporary construction signals.” Google will also begin allowing the cars to have just one human monitor riding along, instead of the previous two-people per-car.

Finally, the company said it will allow some employees to begin taking the cars to work.

Specifically, the work commutes using the Google self-driving cars “will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area at this pont,” a company spokesperson told TPM.

Google’s spokesperson told TPM that none of Google’s self-driving cars had ever been involved in an incident with law-enforcement. 

That will eventually happen, but that's why you test these things.  Still, given another 5 years or so I see this technology being commercially available, and given another 10 or 15 it may be commonplace.  Can't wait to see that happen.

Hurry up, Google.  My commute sucks.

The Big GOP Primary Thread: For Pete's Sake

Primary season moved to Michigan this week, where as expected GOP nutjob Pete Hoekstra easily won his Senate primary for the right to face off against Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow.

Hoekstra led businessman Clark Durant (R) by 54 percent to 33 percent, with 36 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has called the race.

The former congressman started out the race as the clear front-runner, well known statewide after an unsuccessful run for governor two years ago and with a strong political base in his old congressional district in Western Michigan, the most conservative part of the state.

Durant proved a strong fundraiser and rallied some Tea Partiers, who were unhappy with Hoekstra’s support of the Wall Street bailout and some other issues, to his side, but he was never able to overcome Hoekstra’s initial support.

Pete's going to have quite a tough time.  Despite running ads against Stabenow back in February (that's how sure he was of his win six months before the primary) Stabenow has the lead and Hoekstra has some problems:

A few of Hoekstra’s missteps could haunt him in the general election. A campaign ad he ran featuring an Asian-American actress speaking in broken English was widely criticized as racist, and he was caught on tape questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S.

Stabenow starts off as the heavy favorite in the general election. She holds a double-digit lead in recent polls and has a big cash advantage, with more than $4.5 million in the bank to $1 million for Hoekstra as of the last campaign report filing in mid-July.

I expect Stabenow to win easily, mainly because Hoekstra is laughably bad.  We'll see.


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