Friday, October 31, 2014

Last Call For Halloween's Strange Fruit

Good thing racism is over here in Kentucky.

A Halloween display depicting what appears to be a black family hanging from a tree outside of a Kentucky residence has been taken down after people complained about it. The house is located on the military base in Fort Campbell. reports that one of its readers sent in a photo of four figures hanging in the home's front yard. The child has a knife in its back and one of the figures is holding a sign that is hard to read in the photo.

Brendalyn Carpenter with Fort Campbell Public Affairs said her department received a report of a Halloween display that was “offensive in nature” and asked that it be investigated. The woman who had put up the display agreed to take it down after learning of the concerns voiced by some in her community. 
“Displays of an offensive nature are not reflective of Army values and the family-friendly environment provided for employees and residents of the Fort Campbell community,” Carpenter said. 
The woman, who hasn’t been identified, said she didn’t mean to offend anyone and apologized. It's unclear how long the display was hanging before it was removed, but it is odd that someone could think such a display wouldn’t be perceived as being offensive.

Nope.  Couldn't see why hanging a black family from a tree would offend anyone, you know.  She's probably sorry that you were offended by it, gosh, what's the big deal?

Heritage, not hate right?

Have a great Halloween, folks.  Stay safe tonight.  Seriously.

Throttle It Back, Guys

Looks like the Federal Trade Commission thinks that when AT&T offers "unlimited" data plans on mobile devices, that it can't just allow 3 GB of data in a month and then throttle download speeds to the point of not being useful.  It's suing the mobile carrier over the plans, and millions of AT&T customers -- including myself -- want what we paid for.

The U.S. government filed a lawsuit against AT&T Inc on Tuesday, alleging the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier sold consumers unlimited data plans but would slow their Internet down once they used a certain amount of data. 
The Federal Trade Commission, which filed the lawsuit, said that this "throttling" of Internet feeds was deceptive and said that in some cases the data speeds were slowed by nearly 90 percent. 
AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 
More than 3.5 million customers had their Internet speeds slowed more than 25 million times because of AT&T's practice, which began in October 2011, the FTC said. 
AT&T says on its support website that people who have legacy unlimited data plans can experience data slowdowns once they exceed certain limits. Customers with a 3G smartphone will experience slowdowns after using 3 gigabytes of data in a month while those with 4G LTE smartphones can use 5 gigabytes before hitting potential slowdowns. 
Those who dislike the slower internet once they hit their limit are told that they can use Wi-Fi or switch to a different AT&T plan, AT&T says on its web site.

AT&T can't just stop providing data plans to iPhone users like myself who bought and kept the original unlimited data plans from when AT&T was first offering the devices six years ago, especially since it made everyone buy a separate data plan -- with a separate additional charge -- to even activate an iPhone in the first place.  That's always been true.

So when customers like myself kept the plans and AT&T grandfathered them, they realized they made a huge mistake and then needed to make the plans all but unusable.  If you're wondering why AT&T is trying to screw its unlimited data plan users into canceling their contract or changing their plan, this might have something to do with it:

And these are "value pricing" data plans.  Do you see now why AT&T has to get rid of me, and is doing everything they can to get rid of millions of customers like me?  We're immune to their massive scheme where even a handful of gigabytes a month in data is hundreds of dollars.

Of course the real problem is the fact that America has the most overpriced internet on Earth. European, Asian, and even African internet rates are a fraction or what we pay, and we're getting screwed massively by companies like AT&T.

Who I'm sticking with, if only to enjoy getting my money's worth at a little more than the 2 GB going rate.

Both Sides Do It, Millennial Edition

Election Day is Tuesday, and the bottom line is Millennial voters don't give a good god damn and think both sides are responsible for the terrible state of politics in America.

A new poll released Wednesday by Harvard's Institute of Politics suggests Democrats are failing miserably on that front when it comes to Millennials, the generation that helped Barack Obama make history in 2008. The survey of just over 2,000 18-29-year-olds broadly indicated a shift away from Democrats in 2014, leading the pollsters to declare Millennials "up for grabs" in the midterms.

But the most stunning finding came from the question of which party young voters wanted to see control Congress next year. Among all respondents, 50 percent chose the Democrats and 43 percent picked Republicans. But among the much smaller subset of respondents who said they would "definitely" vote this fall, the GOP won, 51 percent to 47 percent.

It gets worse.

That Millennials have become disenchanted with the current state of affairs in Washington seems obvious. Asked who they blame for the "political gridlock" in the capital, a clear majority–56 percent– replied, "All of them." Nearly the same percentage said they would recall or replace the entire Congress if they could.

Millennials, particularly younger Millennials, want real change, but they don't believe either party can provide it, so they don't vote.  The result is that the GOP-heavy Boomers will continue to control politics in this country for another decade or so.

The relentless whining that "Obama has failed us, he's worse than Bush!" coming from the Professional Left has definitely had its desired effect.

If you don't vote, nothing will ever change.  I just don't comprehend when given the people who died for the right to vote, why tens of millions of Americans throw that right away because "both parties are the same".

If Millennials turned out like they did in 2008 or 2012 for 2014, Republicans would be pissing themselves in fear.  But hey, Obama is worse than Bush, so who cares, right?

Not you, apparently.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Last Call For Huckleberry's Hard Truth

Once again the mask slips, and Republicans accidentally tell the truth.  Sen. Lindsey Graham meant it as a joke, of course.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joked in a private meeting this month that white men would "do great" under his presidency, according to audio obtained by CNN.

The South Carolina Republican confirmed to the news outlet that he made the comment at a meeting of the Hibernian Society of Charleston, a charity organization that he said encourages speakers "to be earthy, to make fun of yourself, to make fun of them."

"If I get to be president, white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency," Graham says in one audio snippet as the audience laughs.

Ha-haaaaaaaa! It's a joke, see.

And the joke's on us.

The Screaming Abyss Is Seated At The Table By The Bar, Dr. Ablow

I know I like to allude that the crazier elements of the Tea Party have much in common with comic book super villains, but it's rare that one of them actually writes a column worthy of being included in a manifesto for an enemy of Captain America or Batman, between bouts of megalomaniacal laughter. Jon Chait on FOX News contributor(?) Dr. Keith Ablow, who apparently has a doctorate in Being Evil:

The Obama era has seen a resurgence of conservative constitutional fetishism — the belief that the Constitution not only requires the Republican domestic agenda, but is figuratively or even literally divine. Fox News columnist and television personality Dr. Keith Ablow has taken this premise and applied it toward American foreign policy. The result is a remarkable column calling for what he calls “American Jihad.” 
Ablow’s argument, at least conceptually, is extremely simple. The United States, like Al Qaeda, has a sacred document: “Our Constitution is a sacred document that better defines and preserves the liberty and autonomy of human beings than the charter of any other nation on earth.” 
Therefore, every person on Earth should enjoy its blessings: “An American jihad would embrace the correct belief that if every nation on earth were governed by freely elected leaders and by our Constitution, the world would be a far better place.” 
Note that Ablow is not merely endorsing a civilizational war between the West and radical Islam, as extreme hawks are wont to do. He is endorsing a campaign of conquest aimed at literally every other country on Earth. Ablow is not satisfied with bringing democracy to those who don’t enjoy it. He proposes to bring the American Constitution to every country, even democratic ones. Because there may be other democratic forms of government, but Ablow thinks they all pale before ours.

This guy is a few crock pots short of a company chili cook-off.  Usually "let's invade all the other nations and make them just as awesome as America, because America!" is rightfully classified as reductio ad absurdum snark, not an actual foreign policy talking point, but this is actually what Ablow is proposing here.

Bonus verbatim stupid:

We would urge our leaders, after their service in the U.S. Senate and Congress, to seek dual citizenship in other nations, like France and Italy and Sweden and Argentina and Brazil and Germany, and work to influence those nations to adopt laws very much like our own. We might even fund our leaders' campaigns for office in these other nations.

Oh sure, that's clearly the solution to the world's problems: we need to export more US politicians writing more awesome laws like the USA PATRIOT Act.

Chait ends his piece thusly:

It’s not terrorism if God is telling you to do it.

God is apparently mildly disturbed.  Explains a lot, actually.

The American Red (Double) Cross

The argument we hear from conservatives is that government has no business in the disaster relief department, that's what charities are for, and government agencies are terribly mismanaged and screw things up (the VA comes to mind.)  The problem is that charities can be mismanaged too, and when they are, it's the government that ends up backstopping disaster relief efforts.  Barry Ritholz talks about the American Red Cross's massive Hurricane Sandy failures as a prime example:

The details of how it botched the relief efforts are laid out in Red Cross documents and are simply stunning: 
• Despite plenty of advance warning of Sandy, the Red Cross lacked basics such as food, blankets and batteries to distribute to victims after the storm. 
• Red Cross workers weren't provided with the usual GPS devices. Many got lost driving around the New York area and were unable to deliver aid and supplies. 
• As many as half of the emergency meals prepared for Sandy victims were wasted or never delivered. 
• The Red Cross failed to deliver food, water, shelter, cleaning supplies, blankets to survivors of Sandy until weeks after the storm. Mormon and Amish volunteers, on the other hand, were delivering supplies just three days after the storm. 
• Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of empty trucks to be driven around, “just to be seen,” in lieu of delivering relief supplies. 
• Emergency response vehicles and other assets were also diverted from disaster aid to be seen as backdrops at news conferences for PR purposes; the Red Cross did this after other storms too, including Hurricane Isaac. 
Perhaps most damning is evidence that the Red Cross fabricated claims of how many people were actually served by the charity. The Red Cross said that “17 million meals and snacks were delivered, there were 74,000 overnight stays in shelters, more than 7 million relief items like blankets and flashlights.” Internal documents cast doubt on those numbers, saying the charity’s ability to actually count what was delivered was “crippled.”

Now we know why the Red Cross hired the law firm Gibson Dunn to fight public disclosures of how Sandy money was spent. Gibson Dunn distinguished itself by making the absurd claim that Sandy activities were a “trade secret.” Eventually, the Red Cross backed away from that stance.

This is turning into an ugly story of incompetence where a charity failed, but government was able to step in.  And note I mean the federal government and FEMA, and not the equally incompetent response from Gov. Chris Christie, part of which turned into quite the nice new construction slush fund for rewarding donors.

FEMA was the hero during Sandy, not the Red Cross, and not New Jersey's government.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Last Call To Follow The Money

Our corporate masters are weighing in on who they believe should win the Senate.  Guess which party they're backing?

"In a significant shift, business groups gave more money to Republican candidates than to Democrats in seven of the most competitive Senate races in recent months, in some cases taking the unusual step of betting against sitting senators," the Wall Street Journal reports. 
"Shifts in business donations have foreshadowed the outcome of several recent elections. Business PACs began shifting toward Democrats late in the 2006 midterm cycle, ahead of a political wave in which Democrats regained control of both the House and Senate. Business contributions swung again early in 2010, ahead of a wave that year that gave Republicans a House majority and gains in the Senate."

So yes, big business backed the Dems when it looked like unpopular Bush was going to cost the GOP in 2006 (and did).  They figure the same will happen for Obama costing the Democrats now.  But what if they're wrong and the Dems hold on?

Well, they always have more money to give, right?  Even here in Kentucky, one powerful  Karl Rove crony is trying to buy the Senate election for the GOP.  The shadowy "Kentucky Opportunity Coalition" has bought 12,000 ads for Mitch McConnell, and it's the biggest PAC player in the state.

No other group has had a larger footprint in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race. In fact, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition has aired about twice as many TV ads than the next most prolific player in the contest, a pro-Grimes super PAC called Senate Majority PAC, run by allies of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). And the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition has aired more spots than all other pro-McConnell groups combined
Despite having effectively no physical presence, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition now ranks among the largest social-welfare nonprofits in Kentucky—bringing in more money, according to Internal Revenue Service records, than some of Kentucky’s more high-profile nonprofits, such as the Kentucky School Boards Association and the Kentucky Derby Festival, the group behind two weeks’ worth of events surrounding the Kentucky Derby. 
Thank, in part, the loosened rules on corporate electioneering following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision for Kentucky Opportunity Coalition’s unexpected rise. Certain types of donor-shielding nonprofit corporations may now raise unlimited funds to advocate for and against federal political candidates, not only in Kentucky, but in any race. 
More acutely, though, thank a development akin to a corporate takeover for the group’s sudden prominence—the addition, last year, of a former top McConnell aide who previously worked in the White House with Republican strategist Karl Rove. Until then, the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition didn’t do much of anything. 
That man: Scott Jennings.

And Jennings is a piece of work, a former Dubya staffer and McConnell reelection consultant, and a guy who has greased the skids to allow millions in dark money from anonymous donors to buy thousands of ads here in the state.

And we know nothing about who's buying those ads.  Or who's buying my senator.

Bibi's Epic Tantrum

Apparently Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has had enough with President Obama and is picking up his ball and going home until America can elect a President that remembers Israel runs the relationship with the US and not the other way around.  Jeffrey Goldberg:

The fault for this breakdown in relations can be assigned in good part to the junior partner in the relationship, Netanyahu, and in particular, to the behavior of his cabinet. Netanyahu has told several people I’ve spoken to in recent days that he has “written off” the Obama administration, and plans to speak directly to Congress and to the American people should an Iran nuclear deal be reached. For their part, Obama administration officials express, in the words of one official, a “red-hot anger” at Netanyahu for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process. 

What, he's really going to go around the President and go straight for the AIPAC lobby, like he runs this country and not Israel?  OK Bibi, you do that.

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency. (President Obama, in interviews with me, has alluded to Netanyahu’s lack of political courage.) 
“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”


Look folks, it's not like Israel has done us too many favors in the last six years here.  The response from Tel Aviv has always been "OK, seriously, we know you elected the black guy, but when do we speak to the people actually running America?"

Frankly, Bibi's been a pain in the ass the whole time, and if the US finally allows the UN to do something about the massive criminal acts being perpetrated against the Palestinians, well maybe some tough love is going to be necessary for both Abbas and Netanyahu.

But of course that's too much for our conservative betters to stomach. Our old friend Colonel Mustard is miffed to say the least.

Obama and John Kerry have a vision that makes the Palestinians the center of the Middle East universe even though everything on the ground from North Africa to Yemen to Syria to Iraq says otherwise.

Because of the view, Obama on down in the administration desire peace at any cost, even if it is at best a temporary peace that redivides Jerusalem and puts Hamas within mortar range of the Tel Aviv suburbs, and turns the West Bank into an Iranian base of operations.

That's not true of course, but because the Obama administration actually admits that Palestinians may be human beings instead of animals to be penned into the post-apocalyptic, bombed-out hell that is the West Bank, this makes them the "center of the Middle East universe" somehow.  If that's the case, it's a pretty horrific place.

Goldberg assesses that “[b]y next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations.” 
That’s something I have been anticipating for years — it’s the hammer Obama has over Israel’s head to abandon Israel to the U.N. wolves. It would be more damaging to Israel than withholding weapons or military aid. 

Funny, I thought conservatives were always going on about how the UN is an outdated, ineffective bureaucratic paper tiger with no real ability to enforce anything whatsoever, a showpiece of talking heads and pointless bluster.  They've been supposedly coming for America's guns for decades now and yet somehow that particular dog not only won't hunt, it won't move off the damn porch.  Such an inept and feeble relic of ancient 20th century realpolitik can't be a threat to mighty Israel.

Unless the narrative calls for the UN to be all-powerful, then the US is the only country brave enough to stop the "wolves" from destroying the Jewish homeland utterly.

If only Obama would actually walk away from shielding Bibi from the consequences of his own actions.

What Happened To Repealing Obamacare?

It's the biggest mystery of the 2014 GOP campaign season: what happened to repealing Obamacare as the top issue for the Republican Party in 2014 as it was in 2010?

Two big things happened, actually.  One, Obamacare is working, as evidenced by a major NY Times study of the Affordable Care Act.  In seven categories, the law is working, but could be doing better with some help instead of constant opposition.  But for the most part, it is doing what it has promised:

  1. Has the percentage of uninsured people been reduced? Yes, the number of uninsured has fallen significantly.
  2. Has insurance under the law been affordable? For many, yes, but not for all.
  3. Did the Affordable Care Act improve health outcomes? Data remains sparse except for one group, the young.
  4. Will the online exchanges work better this year than last? Most experts expect they will, but they will be tested by new challenges.
  5. Has the health care industry been helped or hurt by the law? The law mostly helped, by providing new paying patients and insurance customers.
  6. How has the expansion of Medicaid fared? Twenty-three states have opposed expansion, though several of them are reconsidering.
  7. Has the law contributed to a slowdown in health care spending? Perhaps, but mainly around the edges.

And that brings us to our Republican friends, who are no longer calling for the repeal of the law and are getting away with it.

If 2010 was the year when Democrats backed away from their votes to establish Obamacare, 2014 is the year when Republicans back away from their crusade to repeal President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.

With the law benefiting many voters in their states, Republican candidates in key Senate races are tacitly supporting core Obamacare provisions, most notably the Medicaid expansion. 
But shhh, don't call it Obamacare. "Obamacare" remains a dirty word in Republican politics, and so these candidates are rhetorically toeing the party line for repeal. Scratch beneath the surface and they're making a logically strained implication that they can eliminate Obamacare without taking away its benefits.

That's impossible, and yet nobody seems to be attacking the GOP on such a ridiculous position.

One revealing example is North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis. During the primary, the state house speaker boasted in a TV ad that he "stopped Obama's Medicaid expansion cold." But last week he flipped his position and argued that North Carolina is "trending in a direction where we should consider potential expansion." He told Time Warner Cable News, "I would encourage the state legislature and the governor to consider it."

This is a massive flip-flop on a key plank of Tillis's position, and yet Tillis is still considered a serious candidate and may very well become NC's next senator.

Iowa's Joni Ernst, who holds a narrow lead in the race, illustrates the dilemma for Republican Senate candidates caught between a conservative base that despises Obamacare and their constituents who are benefiting from the Medicaid expansion — an estimated 100,000 Iowans. Ernst has repeatedly called for repealing Obamacare, but she has also said Congress must "protect those that are on Medicaid now."

Again, you can't do both.  Repealing Obamacare would take Medicaid away from millions, full stop, point blank, do not pass Go.

The dilemma has vexed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, where the state-based Obamacare portal, Kynect, has signed up some 520,000 residents under Medicaid expansion and the subsidized market exchanges. What's the Republican leader to do? Throw them off? That's too risky, especially when he's facing an unexpectedly strong reelection challenge from a Democrat who promises to protect that coverage.

McConnell has sought to distinguish Kynect from Obamacare, arguing that Kentucky should be allowed to keep Kynect if Obamacare is repealed, and saying Kynect is merely a "website" that he's "fine" with continuing. His position on the health care law was pilloried as "bizarre" by theLouisville Courier-Journal and an "outlandish deception" by the Lexington Herald-Leader, the state's two largest papers.

As I said earlier, this idiocy is one of the big reasons both papers endorsed Alison Grimes.

Republicans are absolutely ridiculous, and believe their voters must be stupid to pull this.  They're certainly counting on a compliant media to keep them stupid, it seems.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Last Call For Anti-Social Turtles

Greg Sargent notes that Alison Grimes is on the attack in the final week of the Kentucky Senate campaign, hitting Mitch McConnell hard on supporting Dubya's Social Security privatization scheme in 2005.

The other day, the Dem-aligned Senate Majority PAC made a splash by going up in Kentucky with a very harsh ad hitting Mitch McConnell over his previous support for Social Security privatization. The ad linked that stance to an assertion that McConnell had “rearranged his portfolio” after private calls with a top Treasury Department official, implicitly suggesting McConnell had milked inside connections to bolster his own retirement security while gambling with that of others. 
The ad ticked off the McConnell campaign, which circulated a fact check that said it had oversimplified the claims in the original article on which it was based and overlooked the fact that it had alleged no wrongdoing. 
The McConnell campaign is trying to get TV stations to stop running the ad. I’ve checked in with Kentucky stations, and most declined to reveal their plans for the spot, though an official at one — Fox affiliate WDRB — told me: “We reinstated the spot, finding the assertions factual.” 
A spokesman for Senate Majority PAC told me the ad is still airing “on every station we bought on.” 
The dust-up shows that Democrats are pushing hard to make Social Security privatization a sleeper issue in the last days of the Kentucky Senate race. And they were handed an unexpected opening in this regard, when McConnell himself made an offhand reference to his own involvement with George W. Bush’s Social Security privatization efforts in 2005. “He wanted us to try to fix Social Security,” McConnell said during a recent speech. “I spent a year trying to get any Democrat in the Senate…to help us.”

You know, now that I think about it, that's part of the reason why Republicans hate Obamacare so much.  Obama was able to get his major domestic policy program passed into law, whereas both of Dubya's major pushes to privatize Social Security and to reform immigration ended up so unpopular among Republicans that they couldn't pass either even with control of Congress.

I have no idea why Mitch is bringing this up again, especially here in a state like Kentucky, but hey, he's Mitch.  Between lying about no wanting to kill Medicaid expansion by repealing Obamacare "root and branch" and now this Social Security scam, I think he might have done critical damage to his own campaign here in the final days.

Also, whining about taking a tough ad off the air?  Please.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

John Hinderaker reads ex-CBS reporter Sharyl Atkisson's tell-all book on how CBS wouldn't let her run crazy bullshit stories on the Obama administration and of course takes every word as gospel truth. Atkisson's book has some pretty nutty allegations to boot.  Assrocket then asks:

If the Obama administration hacked into a reporter’s computers, used them to spy on her, and even prepared to frame her for a potential criminal prosecution by planting classified documents, aren’t we looking at the biggest scandal in American history?

Short answer, no.

Long answer, This is a country that perpetrated the Trail of Tears and killed thousands of Native Americans, knowingly infected dozens of black men with syphilis and allowed hundreds more to suffer the disease for decades, rounded up Japanese-American citizens and put them in internment camps, grew an economy on slavery for centuries and then continued that slavery with Jim Crow laws, oh yeah and decided to go to war with itself to defend that slavery, killing hundreds of thousands, and I'm supposed to believe the biggest scandal in American history is a reporter who's watched Enemy of the State too many times and is grifting on paranoia over Obama?

Get the hell out.

Turn Out For What, NKY?

County clerks here in Northern Kentucky aren't expecting heavy turnout next week.  Despite 2010 numbers that showed turnout of 41% in Boone and Kenton Counties, and 48% in Campbell County (with a statewide turnout of 49%) the numbers are expected to be lower here in 2014.

Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown said turnout in the county will range from 35 to 40 percent. 
"The majority of people only vote every four years," Brown said in a reference to presidential voting.

That's not good.

Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass said turnout in Campbell County could be between 35 and 38 percent. 
"The reason I think it's going to be strong is we have so many city races that are hotly contested," Snodgrass said. 
Bellevue, Dayton, Fort Thomas, Highland Heights, Cold Spring and Alexandria – especially for the mayor – will bring out voters, he said. 
Competition for a U.S. Senate seat between Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes will likely bring out many people who haven't voted much in the past, Snodgrass said.

Wait, how is that strong when it's down from the 2010 numbers?  I would have to think Grimes would have a real shot if statewide turnout was 49% or higher, but if clerks are expecting worse number than 2010, then it really is going to come down to who shows up on November 4.

I'll be there for sure.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Last Call For Jian Gone-meshi

Over the weekend, CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi of the culture and interview show Q was suspended on Friday over allegations of sexual assault, then outright fired yesterday when those allegations grew to encompass reports of assault by four different women. Ghomeshi is suing the CBC over this, and the story just keeps getting worse.  Kevin Donovan and Jesse Brown in the Toronto Star:

CBC star Jian Ghomeshi has been fired over “information” the public broadcaster recently received that it says “precludes” it from continuing to employ the 47-year-old host of the popular Q radio show.

Shortly after CBC announced Ghomeshi was out the door on Sunday, Ghomeshi released news that he was launching a $50-million lawsuit claiming “breach of confidence and bad faith” by his employer of almost 14 years. He later followed that up with a Facebook posting saying he has been the target of “harassment, vengeance and demonization.”

Over the past few months the Star has approached Ghomeshi with allegations from three young women, all about 20 years his junior, who say he was physically violent to them without their consent during sexual encounters or in the lead-up to sexual encounters. Ghomeshi, through his lawyer, has said he “does not engage in non-consensual role play or sex and any suggestion of the contrary is defamatory.”

In his Facebook posting Sunday evening, Ghomeshi wrote in an emotional statement that he has “done nothing wrong.” He said it is not unusual for him to engage in “adventurous forms of sex that included role-play, dominance and submission.” However, he said it has always been consensual.

Ghomeshi’s statement said that he has been open with the CBC about the allegations. He said the CBC’s decision to fire him came after he voluntarily showed evidence late last week that everything he has done was consensual. Ghomeshi blames a woman he describes as an ex-girlfriend for spreading lies about him and orchestrating a campaign with other women to “smear” him.

The three women interviewed by the Star allege that Ghomeshi physically attacked them on dates without consent. They allege he struck them with a closed fist or open hand; bit them; choked them until they almost passed out; covered their nose and mouth so that they had difficulty breathing; and that they were verbally abused during and after sex.

A fourth woman, who worked at CBC, said Ghomeshi told her at work: “I want to hate f--- you.”

“I have always been interested in a variety of activities in the bedroom but I only participate in sexual practices that are mutually agreed upon, consensual, and exciting for both partners,” Ghomeshi said in his posting.

Q was big enough to get on a number of public radio stations here in the US, including the ones here in the Cincy area.  I've listened to the show on a number of occasions and liked Ghomeshi's interview style, and he's talked to everyone from Barbara Streisand to Robert Plant to John Malkovich to, yes, even Julian Assange.  Ghomeshi himself is former frontman for Moxy Fruvious and he's come a long way from there to being the Canadian equivalent of Oprah.

The allegations open up a lot of questions for Ghomeshi that he says he is trying to answer, but attacking the women making these allegations against him is pretty despicable.  It's one thing if the guy is James Spader's character in Secretary, but if he assaulted or abused his partners, then yeah, he's going to have bigger problems than losing his radio show real fast.

More at Gawker, who intimates that the other shoe is going to drop on Ghomeshi story very soon.

Blue Texas Will Depend On White Urban Voters

That's the conclusion of John Judis at TNR, who figures that any Democrat running for state office or for President will have to get at least 30% of the white, non-Hispanic vote to win in the Lone Star State.  The question is how to do that, and the answer is Texas's cities.

In Texas, white voters have blended the anti-government ethos of the West and the deep South. Many Texas white voters began changing their party allegiance from Democrat to Republican after 1980 without changing their ideology. But Texans’ bedrock conservatism among whites has been mitigated by in-migration from less Republican states and by the development of what Ruy Teixeira and I called “ideopolises”—large metro areas dominated by professionals who produce ideas. By garnering support in the Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and El Paso metro areas, the Democrats might be able to get the 30 percent or more of the vote they need in presidential elections, and eventually the 35 percent they need in state elections
In these metro areas, Texas Democrats can attract the same white voters who boosted Democrat hopes in states like Virginia and North Carolina: younger voters, who came of age after the Reagan-Bush era, professionals, and women. Davis’s candidacy has probably helped among these voters. In a late September poll that showed Davis behind Abbott by fourteen points, she still had an edge among women and voters 18 to 44, while getting trounced among male and older voters. (In the same poll, Davis only get 50 percent of Hispanic vote.) Mustafa Tameez, a Houston Democratic consultant, says that the Texas state legislature’s lurch to the right, which spawned Davis’s candidacy, will win over many of these voters. “The urban vote and women are the key to Democrats winning Texas,” Tameez says. 
Texas Democrats’ ability to win over white voters will also depend on what happens to the national party. Obama remains deeply unpopular in Texas—identified with whatever failures white Texans ascribe to the federal government. There were no exit polls in the 2012 election, but Nate Cohn has estimated that Obama only got 20 percent of the white vote. Whites need to feel comfortable voting for a candidate identified with the national party. Tameez and other Democrats believe that Hillary Clinton, who defeated Obama in the 2008 Texas primary, will fare far better among the state’s Anglos than Obama did. But even if they nominate a candidate more palatable to urban whites, the Democrats may have to wait until 2020 to have a good shot at winning Texas in a presidential vote.

So yes, Hillary may have a chance in Texas if she can get 30% of the white vote and 70% of the Latino vote, if Latino turnout is 50%.  If those numbers go up, it becomes a lot easier.  It is possible for Democrats to turn Texas blue, but in the short term that means getting the white vote in the state, something Obama could never do.

So yes, Democrats are going to go after more white voters than Latino ones, simply because white voters actually vote.

There's a lesson here.

The GOP's Great White Dope

Well, you knew at some point the Republican Party was going to try to inflict another Bush upon us, and it looks like the attempt will be made in 2016 with Jebby.

Will another member of the Bush family dynasty make a run for the White House? In an interview in College Station, Texas, this week, George P. Bush told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl he thinks his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will “more than likely” run for president in 2016.

“I think it’s actually, I think it’s more than likely that he’s giving this a serious thought in moving forward,” George P. Bush told Karl aboard his campaign bus in College Station, Texas.

“More than likely that he'll run?” Karl asked.

That he'll run,” Bush said. “If you had asked me a few years back, I would've said it was less likely.”

Bush said his family will support his father “a hundred percent” should he decide to launch a bid for the White House.

Jeb's other son, Jeb Jr., also agrees.

“No question,” Jeb Jr. said in an interview, “people are getting fired up about it — donors and people who have been around the political process for a while, people he’s known in Tallahassee when he was governor. The family, we’re geared up either way.” Most important, he added, his mother, Columba, the prospective candidate’s politics-averse wife, has given her assent.

Everything old is new again.  The prospect of Jeb vs. Hillary, Clinton vs. Bush, has our Village Elders practically peeing themselves with excitement, surely.

America on the other hand is going to be doing a lot of eye-rolling and nose-holding over the next two years.

Looks like I'm going to get some more use out of that Unfinished Bush Business tag.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Last Call For Big Endorsements

As they did in 2010 with Jack Conway, both the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader have endorsed the Democrat for US Senate. Alison Grimes has earned the praise of both papers, and in a race this tight, it may make a difference.

The Courier-Journal:

Grimes, to her credit, was willing to appear before this newspaper’s editorial board, fielding an hour’s worth of questions in an interview that was streamed live online and remains archived on the C-J website. She did this fully aware that Mr. McConnell’s campaign could-- and did-- seize on snippets to use in political attacks. 
Mr. McConnell, in turn, never accepted a similar invitation dating back to early September to appear before the C-J editorial board, thus shielding himself from scrutiny as well as any potential for attack ads based on his responses. Kentuckians should take measure of that: Thirty years in the Senate, and no comment.
More discouraging-- and most important to voters-- is that he appears lacking a vision for Kentucky or the country as a whole. Rather, his decades-long drive to increase his power and political standing has resulted in this campaign based on his boast that if he is re-elected and Republicans win a Senate majority, he would become Senate majority leader. Some voters believe Kentucky will benefit from keeping Mr. McConnell in such a national leadership position, but we believe that alone is not a reason for giving him another term. 
Both candidates have failed the voters through limited access, rote talking points, slickly packaged appearances and a barrage of attack ads that at best are misleading and at worst, outright false. 
But Ms. Grimes has laid out positions on a number of issues that matter to voters, ones that separate her from her opponent.

The Herald-Leader:

McConnell has sabotaged jobs and transportation bills, even as Kentucky's unemployment exceeds the nation's and an Interstate 75 bridge crumbles over the Ohio River. He blocked tax credits for companies that move jobs back to this country while preserving breaks for those that move jobs overseas. He opposed extending unemployment benefits, while bemoaning the "jobless" recovery. He brags about resolving crises that he helped create
The Senate may never recover from the bitter paralysis McConnell has inflicted through record filibusters that allow his minority to rule by obstruction. 
Even before Barack Obama was sworn in, McConnell told his fellow Republicans that their strategy was to deny the new president any big wins. The country was in two wars and at deep risk of sliding into a depression, but making an adversary look bad was McConnell's main mission
His signature cause-- flooding elections with ever more money-- corrupts. He poses as a champion of the right to criticize the government, but it's really his rich buddies' right to buy the government that he champions. 
If McConnell had a better record, he would not have to argue for six more years by obsessively linking Grimes to Obama, who will be gone in two years no matter what.

It's good to see these papers tell the truth about McConnell.  His time is passed and he's just embarrassing now.

Christie, Cuomo, And Ebola

It's not often you see Democrats and Republicans work together on things, but when it comes to stabbing President Obama in the back, that's something that everyone can get behind.

The Obama administration has been pushing the governors of New York and New Jersey to reverse their decision ordering all medical workers returning from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients to be quarantined, an administration official said. 
But on Sunday both governors, Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, stood by their decision, saying that the federal guidelines did not go far enough.

At the same time, the first person to be forced into isolation under the new protocols, Kaci Hickox, a nurse returning from Sierra Leone, planned to mount a legal challenge to the quarantine order. Despite having no symptoms, she has been kept under quarantine at a hospital in New Jersey, where she has been confined to a tent equipped with a portable toilet and no shower. On Sunday, she spoke to CNN about the way she has been treated, describing it as “inhumane.”

The rapidly escalating events played out both privately, in intense negotiations and phone calls between federal and state officials, as well as publicly in the nurse’s pointed criticism of the New Jersey governor. 
Ever since Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, and Mr. Christie, a Republican, announced the plan at a hastily called news conference on Friday evening, top administration officials have been speaking with Mr. Cuomo daily and have also been in touch with Mr. Christie, trying to get them to rescind the order. 
But in that time, two more states – Illinois and Florida – announced that they were instituting similar policies.

Nobody wants to be the next Rick Perry with election day around the corner.  Certainly not Pat Quinn or Andrew Cuomo, bother up for re-election, or Rick Scott, also facing voters.  Christie at least has passed his re-election trial, but of course he has 2016 to worry about.

So everyone has a reason to score points on Obama, it seems, Democrat and Republican alike.

Will voters care or even remember?

Things Also Bigger In Texas: Pollution

One of Texas's top environmental officials (and really, can you think of a more depressing job?) is making the argument that ozone and smog in Texas doesn't matter, because we're all going to be inside anyway.

Texas’ chief toxicologist is arguing that the EPA shouldn’t tighten ground-level ozone, or smog, rules because there will be little to no public health benefit. Dr. Michael Honeycutt heads the toxicology division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the state agency tasked with protecting Texans from pollution.

“Ozone is an outdoor air pollutant because systems such as air conditioning remove it from indoor air,” he argues on a blog post on the TCEQ website. “Since most people spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors, we are rarely exposed to significant levels of ozone.” He adds that those who are “near death” and thus more vulnerable to ozone spend even more time inside.

Dude actually has earned the title of doctor and he's saying "pollution levels are irrelevant outside, because if it's bad, you'll be inside with A/C".

That's a bit like saying "Well we don't need more traffic regulations because cars are outside and people are inside.  Cars are an outside problem."

Scientist by the way say we really do need to tighten up smog rules.  Texas refuses, because, well, energy industry.

Dr. Honeycutt has taken it upon his shoulders to dispute this determination. He joins Texas Republicans and others nationwide who staunchly oppose efforts to reduce harmful ozone pollution. In September, a group of Texas Republicans proposed legislation that would require Congress to pass a federal statute every time the EPA wants to implement a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) such as the one proposed for ozone pollution. They argue that this is a matter of accountability, but it is within the EPA’s mandate to determine air quality standards. In a statement, Congressman Randy Weber (R-TX), cites a study from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) that the regulation would increase energy costs for Texas families and reduce family incomes in an amount equal to 182,000 lost jobs.

NAM is a trade group which lobbies for the likes of ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute. NYU’s Michael Livermore, a senior advisor at New York University’s Institute for Policy Integrity told Media Matters that the report “calculated costs in an insane way.” Frank Ackerman, a lecturer in climate and energy policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told Media Matters that the job-loss estimates are “fraudulent.”

Of course it's fraudulent.  We can't possibly make the energy industry pay to clean up after itself, despite literally being the most profitable companies on Earth.

Just don't go outside, Texas.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Will To Glower

When George F. Will is parroting right-wing blog inanities about Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin being the "victim of liberal fascism and judicial activism", you know an election is just around the corner.

From the progressivism of Robert La Follette to the conservatism of Gov. Scott Walker (R) today, Wisconsin has been fertile soil for conviction politics. Today, the state’s senators are the very conservativeRon Johnson (R) and the very liberal Tammy Baldwin (D). Now, however, Wisconsin, which to its chagrin produced Sen. Joe McCarthy (R), has been embarrassed by Milwaukee County’s Democratic district attorney, John Chisholm. He has used Wisconsin’s uniquely odious “John Doe” process to launch sweeping and virtually unsupervised investigations while imposing gag orders to prevent investigated people from defending themselves or rebutting politically motivated leaks.

According to several published reports, Chisholm told subordinates that his wife, a teachers union shop steward at her school, is anguished by her detestation of Walker’s restrictions on government employee unions, so Chisholm considers it his duty to help defeat Walker.

Please note that all this is coming from a right wing blog in Wisconsin that's leaking the John Doe proceedings, where the real problem is Scott Walker has abused the power of his office in order to pressure political foes, attack unions, and take cash outside of the law.

Besides, can Walker possibly be a victim if he has the multi-billionaire Koch Brothers financing his campaign?  He's the best governor you can buy, after all.  He's run Wisconsin's economy into the ground, completely failing on his promise to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and the state continues to languish at the bottom of the pile in growth.  Profits for Koch related industries in the state, well, those are up big.

Who knew.

Don't cry for Walker, Wisconsin.  You can rid yourself of him for good in less than two weeks.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Last Call For Cincy's Last Abortion Clinic

It looks like the Planned Parenthood surgical center in Cincinnati has finally been cited for lack of a hospital transfer agreement, and has until next week to come up with a solution or risk being shut down for good.

The Elizabeth Campbell Surgical Center was last inspected in June, but the health department waited until last week to notify the clinic that it was out of compliance with acontroversial state law passed last year. That could be the first step in moving to revoke the clinic's surgical license, which would make Cincinnati the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without an abortion clinic, according to an Enquirer analysis.

Abortion clinics in Ohio now must have agreements with private hospitals willing to take abortion patients in an emergency. Many private hospitals are religious and have declined to form agreements with abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood found itself in such a situation and asked the health department to grant an exception to the rule -- a so-called "variance," which is allowed by law. 
The clinic placed the request more than a year ago and has yet to receive a response, Planned Parenthood spokesman Rick Pender told The Enquirer. 
"We have received the letter, and it is accurate in its statement that we do not have a transfer agreement," he said. "But what we have pending, for more than a year, is our variance request, which the health department has not acted on."

The other two clinics in southwest Ohio are in the same boat.  Mercy Health, formerly Catholic Health Partners (I bet you're seeing where this is going) is the largest hospital chain around.  They've basically bullied everyone in the area to revoke their transfer agreements or face their wrath, and everyone folded, most notably the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

Now it's looking like the Campbell Center has until next week to come up with a plan or risk being shut down.  In fact, it's looking really, really grim for all three clinics.

But Ohio keeps electing Republicans, and the horrific anti-choice bill "moderate" Gov. John Kasich signed into law may get rid of all Ohio clinics.

Which of course was the point.

Getting Away From It All

Greg Sargent argues that Ebola allows Senate Dems to attack President Obama on something that's not going to hurt them with their base, and with a new case of the disease in NYC, the last week and change before the midterms may be defined by that response.

As I’ve reported before, Democrats are using Ebola to achieve distance from the President, who continues to be deeply disliked by constituencies who still are populated by voters who remain undecided, and could be tipped towards Republicans by a feather-push from something like Ebola remaining in the news. At the same time, this sort of criticism is unlikely to alienate the core Democratic voters whose turnout will be crucial, and who might feel less motivated if candidates break with Obama on core Democratic issues. Either way, the politics of Ebola may now be back.

The fact that America's fate may be decided by such self-pissing fear is insane, but there you have it. The reality remains that if Dems turn out, they'll win.  If they don't, Republicans will win big.  And out media has neutered, trivialized, and drenched our political process in such banalities that the voters don't give a damn any more which party destroys the country at this point.

This seems to be especially the case with my generation, older Millennials who've been around the block enough to recognize the problems with our country, but have been kidney punched relentlessly by politics to the point of apathy. "Why vote, they're all going to screw us over anyway" is something I hear a lot these days.

I respond "If you don't vote, that becomes a certainty, now doesn't it?"

Ebola shouldn't be deciding this election. Voters should.

Privilege 101 In Iowa's Senate Race

It's not that Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst said the following a couple years ago in Iowa at an NRA event:

"I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere," Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. "But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family -- whether it's from an intruder, or whether it's from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important."

It's the fact that, as Steve M. points out, it's a perfect example of privilege.

Ernst feels free to make this reckless statement, to a crowd that didn't find it the least bit objectionable, because she feels pretty safe in the assumption that she'll never be called to back those words up with actions. That's because she lives in a country where, regardless of all the hotheaded rhetoric, the government never really tyrannizes people like her and her audience, i.e., heartland white people of some means
If Ernst and the crowd she was addressing were African-American, and had to get used to staggeringly high incarceration rates, as well as routine stop-and-frisk episodes and traffic stops for themselves and their children, they'd have to ask themselves if they were really so damn brave that they'd take up arms against the government. But they don't have to worry about that. So Ernst can just let loose this way with a barrage of irresponsible talk about insurrection.

So yes, it's a perfect example.  As a veteran, Ernst should know better than to so blithely treat firearms as a propaganda piece instead of something that can, if necessary, kill.  But that's not what the NRA crowds want to hear.  They want red meat.

Oh, sure, there was that crazy David Koresh a generation ago, and there was Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge shortly before that. But in this century there's been one situation of this kind involving conservative white people: the standoff at Cliven Bundy's ranch. And in that situation, Bundy and his pals didn't actually have reason to put a bullet in anyone because the Bundyites were conservative heartland whites, and a government run by a widely despised black guy, and with an even more loathed black guy as attorney general, was never really going to risk messing with them.

Whether they'll admit it or not, white right-wing heartlanders know that the jackbooted government thuggery they have Walter Mitty fantasies about resisting happens to them only after they engage in the most extreme provocation. So they talk the talk, knowing they won't ever to have to walk the walk.

They pick a fight knowing it won't come, because it fulfills the lizard-brain need to lash out.  It's precisely because Joni Ernst can say things like this and still be in the running for a Senate seat that proves everything she says is idiotically wrong.  If Barack Obama really were the tyrant they said he was, and Eric Holder was his bag man, Joni Ernst would have been dealt with in a rather permanent fashion, yes?

Of course the barbaric yawp response to this is "And it's because we're ready to use these weapons that keeps the government from going after us" like somehow, the US armed forces that Ernst belonged to wouldn't wipe the floor with a bunch of average guys with guns if that what Barack Obama wanted to happen.

Now imagine that black protesters in Ferguson, Missouri told the cops "I do believe in the right to carry...I believe in the right to defend myself and my family...from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important" and see how long before that same government executes them on the streets like dogs for daring to exercise that right.

Black people get killed for picking up a BB gun in Wal-mart, remember?  I don't hear Joni Ernst saying anything about the right to resist government when it comes to government brutality suffered for centuries by black people.

Funny how that works.

No wonder Ernst is spending the last days of the race dodging the press.  Somebody might ask her questions, and we can't have that.  But she seems to think this might hurt in a close race, because ten days before the election she's already taking steps towards getting a recount motion started.

You think she'll lose gracefully?

Not this person.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Last Call For The Gas Face, 2014 Edition

TNR's Danny Vinik argues that since you can't really blame Obama for when gas prices were $4 a gallon two years ago, that you can't really credit Obama for when gas prices are below $3 a gallon now.

Remember in early 2012, when gas prices were approaching $4 per gallon? Republicans were eager to blame President Obama for consumers having to pay more at the pump. “[Obama] gets full credit or blame for what’s happened in this economy, and what’s happened to gasoline prices under his watch,” then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney said. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed. “This president will go to any length to drive up gas prices and pave the way for his ideological agenda,” he said in February 2012. House Speaker John Boehner made similar comments
Those comments never made any sense, because Obama has very little control over gas prices, which are determined by global supply and demand. In 2012, as the economy recovered, demand for gas rose as consumers decided to drive to work and take more weekend vacations. That pushed gas prices higher. The president isn’t entirely powerless to affect prices, since he can approve drilling permits and pipelines to increase the supply of oil. But his influence is still limited. Even after the recent explosion in U.S. oil production, the country still produces just 10 percent of global crude.

Except that's an easy way to let Republicans off the hook for their mendacity in the first place.  It's easy to say that the GOP's comments weren't deserved, but it won't stop them from saying patently false garbage like this anyway.

Governor Kitzhaber Of Ore-Gone

Don't look now, but something unexpected happened on the way to Oregon Dem governor Jon Kitzhaber fourth term:  his fiancee Cylvia Hayes (yes, Cylvia with a goddamn "C") is about to wreck Kitzhaber's career and hand over the state to raging Tea Party asshole Dennis Richardson.

First there were conflict of interest allegations. Then came the admission of a sham marriage with an immigrant. And now it appears a farm was purchased in order to grow a great deal of marijuana. 
But the scandals don’t center on Kitzhaber himself. Instead, the main character in Oregon’s October Surprises is Kitzhaber’s fiancĂ©e, Cylvia Hayes, who the governor elevated by bringing her on as an adviser and calling her the state’s “First Lady.” 
The latest revelation about Hayes is that she planned to farm marijuana on 60 acres of land in rural Washington back in 1997. Hayes told reporters Monday that while she “planned” to use the expansive property to grow pot, the operation “never materialized” and the land went into foreclosure. 
Also in 1997, Hayes entered a sham marriage with a Nigerian immigrant, for which she was paid $5,000. The fraudulent marriage was revealed [in early October]. 
The story was sparked by retired real estate broker Patrick Siemion, who found marijuana trimmings on the property after it was foreclosed. Siemion told The Oregonian that it was clear to him Hayes was the leader of the operation. 
“She did all the talking, all the negotiating,” he said. Siemion did not return a call from The Daily Beast. 
Hayes told reporters that she was “not proud of that brief period” in which she and a “dangerous man” who abused her lived on the property near the Canadian border. She also insists she was not “financially involved” with the down payment or mortgage payments on the property.

That's the bad news for Kitzhanber.  This is the horrific, possibly career-ending news for him.

A dramatic shift in poll numbers has taken place since Governor John Kitzhaber’s campaign became riddled with scandal. A poll commissioned by KATU has Dennis Richardson with a surprising double-digit lead
Even Dennis Richardson himself is surprised by the new numbers “It was just amazing to see that kind of a flip,” Richardson told KXL. “People finally have figured it out, that with cover-ups, waste, investigations, sweetheart deals, and pay-for-play they finally decided that’s not going to work for Oregon’s future.” 
Kitzhaber, who was up 13-points before a steady dose of negative press is now down 17-points. With 18% of those polled saying they have shifted allegiances, and were once voting for the governor but are now voting for Richardson. 
Richardson says he has met some of those 18% who have switched sides “I met some in the grocery store who said ‘I have been a Democrat all my life and I never thought I would vote for a Republican, but this isn’t about party, this is about integrity, honestly and honor.” Richardson said. “They all have different reasons, but they said ‘we’re voting for Richardson, we want to give him a chance.”

A 30-point swing in the space of a month?  Here's hoping Oregon survives Richardson, whose record in the state legislature paints him pretty squarely as an anti-choice, anti-gay Tea Party bigot who thinks sexual orientation is a "behavior" that doesn't warrant any "special protections" and that he would have personally stopped the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre if he was an armed teacher.

His number one goal?  The end of Medicaid expansion in Oregon, which will leave 200,000 plus without health insurance coverage.  Richardson called Medicaid expansion "delusional" last year.

So think carefully before kicking Kitzhaber to the curb, Beaver State.  You're about to give yourself a much worse problem.

It Was Always About Voter Suppression

Bloomberg News doesn't pull any punches in the headline of this piece: "Republicans Set to Gain From Laws Requiring Voter IDs".

Republicans are poised to gain next month from new election laws in almost half the 50 U.S. states, where the additional requirements defy a half-century trend of easing access to the polls.

In North Carolina, where Democratic U.S. Senator Kay Hagan’s re-election fight may determine the nation’s balance of power, the state ended same-day registration used more heavily by blacks. A Texas law will affect more than 500,000 voters who lack identification and are disproportionately black and Hispanic, according to a federal judge. In Ohio, lawmakers discontinued a week during which residents could register and vote on the same day, which another judge said burdens lower income and homeless voters.

While Republicans say the laws were meant to stop fraud or ease administrative burdens, Democrats and civil-rights groups maintain they’re aimed at damping turnout by blacks, Hispanics and the young, who are their mainstays in an increasingly diverse America. Texas found two instances of in-person voter fraud among more than 62 million votes cast in elections during the preceding 14 years, according to testimony in the federal case.

“You’re seeing the use of the election process as a means of clinging to power,” said Justin Levitt, who follows election regulation at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “You have more states passing laws that create hurdles and inconveniences to voting than we have seen go into effect in the last 50 years.”

The bottom line is that over the last several years, Republicans at the state level are making it harder for people to vote in order to keep Democrats from voting.  Texas's law was found to be a modern "poll tax" by a federal judge, but was reversed within days by the conservative-dominated 5th Circuit, stacked with Republican appointees.

The Republican Party wants fewer people voting.  That will help them in races across the country, and they know it.  Laws forcing people to buy IDs are illegal unless the state provides those who can't pay IDs free of charge, but of course the process for signing up for that requires the Board of Elections to approve such waivers in a bureaucratic nightmare that takes months, if not longer.  Voter ID laws in all these states specifically eliminate state college IDs as valid, so students can't vote.  Instruction for getting these IDs in Spanish are curiously difficult to locate.  Early voting is being eliminated in states like Ohio for no good reason other than arbitrary decisions by Republican Secretaries of State, especially Sunday voting, to stop black churches from bringing people to the polls after service.  The list goes on and on.

You have to admit, the GOP really thought this one through.  They know that if they can keep adding requirements they can lower turnout across the country.  It'll help them cling to power just long enough to do some real damage.

Remember, none of this "rampant voter fraud" was a problem with a Republican president.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Last Call For Prime Time For Subprime Again

Guess what's back in a big way, kids?  Our old friend, The Subprime Loan is running rampant, and thanks to Republicans, it's even easier for big banks to rack up the green with ridiculous interest rates. Being poor in America is very, very expensive.

Lenders have come under fire in Washington in recent years. Yet one corner of the financial industry — lending to people with poor credit scores — has found sympathetic audiences in many state capitals. 
Over the last two years, lawmakers in at least eight states have voted to increase the fees or the interest rates that lenders can charge on certain personal loans used by millions of borrowers with subpar credit. 
The overhaul of the state lending laws comes after a lobbying push by the consumer loan industry and a wave of campaign donations to state lawmakers. In North Carolina, for example, lenders and their lobbyists overcame unusually dogged opposition from military commanders, who two years earlier had warned that raising rates on loans could harm their troops. 
The lenders argued that interest rate caps had not kept pace with the increased costs of doing business, including running branches and hiring employees. Unless they can make an acceptable profit, the industry says, lenders will not be able to offer loans allowing people with damaged credit to pay for car repairs or medical bills. 
But a recent regulatory filing by one of the nation’s largest subprime consumer lenders, Citigroup’s OneMain Financial unit, shows that making personal loans to people on the financial margins can be a highly profitable business — even before state lending laws were changed. Last year, OneMain’s profit increased 31 percent from 2012
“There was simply no need to change the law,” said Rick Glazier, a North Carolina lawmaker, who opposed the industry’s effort to change the rate structure in his state. “It was one of the most brazen efforts by a special interest group to increase its own profits that I have ever seen.”

It's nice being able to charge 40% interest on a $4,000 loan, huh?  Most people would call that legalized loan sharking.  Let's keep in mind Republicans have done everything in their power to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and at the state level, allow lenders free reign to gouge people.

Need that two grand to fix you car so you can still get to work and keep your job?  Be ready to fork over hundreds in interest payments, so much so that as with subprime and rent-to-own, you'll need to take out another loan to pay off the first one.

Blessed are the moneylenders, right?

Sure, He's A Turtle, But He's Our Turtle!

It's saying something that in Kentucky, where African-Americans make up only about 8% of the population (well under the national average of 13% and waaaaaay under other Southern states like Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia) that the Senate race here is close enough for Mitch McConnell to even care about the black vote.

As such, Mitch McConnell's pitch to black voters like myself here in Kentucky is really simple:  As Senate majority leader, I'll get you the green.

As the latest Bluegrass Poll poll shows, the Kentucky Senate race remains tight between GOP leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and the campaigns are battling for every last vote in the home stretch. 
McConnell goes on the radio Tuesday in an ad targeting African-American voters following a negative ad aired on Louisville-area radio last week that criticized the minority leader on voting rights. In his response ad, McConnell again leans on Noelle Hunter, an African-American woman and community college professor, to make the case for his re-election. 
Alison Grimes won’t say she voted for President Obama, but I will. I voted for President Obama — twice. So you might be surprised to hear that I’m also voting for Mitch McConnell,” Hunter says in the ad.. “As an African American I know from personal experience that Mitch fights for our community and cares about us.”

Vote for Mitch.  He has black friends, unlike that mean ol' white girl who hates President Obama.

Of course the reason Mitch is deigning to admit the black vote exists in the first place is because Alison Grimes knows damn well what Republicans really mean for the black vote.

The Grimes campaign is seeking to motivate black voters with a radio ad suggesting their voting rights are at risk if McConnell is re-elected. “Worst of all, Mitch McConnell has been leading the Republican effort to take away our voting rights,” the man says in the Grimes ad. “Just like he blocked everything from getting done in Washington, he’s blocking the ballot box and trying to silence our voices.”

Still, Grimes attacking Obama has hurt her among black voters.

The latest Bluegrass Poll gives Grimes a 38-point lead, 60%-22%, among black voters, with 17% undecided two weeks from Election Day.

You'd be hard pressed to find any other Republicans running this year who's getting 22% of the black vote.  In a state like Alabama, that would be a landslide GOP win.  In Kentucky, well, that's more like 2% of the total vote, but in a race that will probably be decided by a couple of points, the margin may be enough.

We'll see.

BREAKING: O(h No), Canada

Our friends to the north have suffered what appears to be an attack by multiple shooters in at least two locations in the capital of Ottawa, Parliament Hill and a nearby hotel.

Parliament Hill came under attack today after a man with a rifle shot a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in downtown Ottawa,before seizing a car and driving to the doors of Parliament Hill's Centre Block nearby. 
MPs and other witnesses reported several shots fired inside Parliament, and a gunman has been confirmed dead inside the building, shot by the House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms, according to MPs' eyewitness accounts. 
The soldier's condition has not been confirmed. 
MP John Williamson tweeted that the Conservative caucus has been told "one CAF soldier was killed," adding "a moment of silence followed." CBC News has confirmed the soldier is a reservist from Hamilton.

One shooter is dead, as the story says, but another appears to be on the loose in downtown Ottawa. Not a good day at all.

Here's hoping that the RCMP and Ottawa Police can get this under control without any more casualties.
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